WEDNESDAY, Mar. 25, 2009 - J E Rosman (Raw material for Wrigley, once / Umiak passenger / Heartbreaker who's back in town in a 1980 Carly Simon hit)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: -ATCHES -ITCHES - four theme answers are all two-word phrases wherein the first word ends in -ATCHES and the second word ends in -ITCHES

Word of the Day: CHICLE - A gummy exudate used in the manufacture of chewing gum. It is contained in the bark of a tall evergreen tree, Achras zapota (Sapotaceae), a native of Mexico and Central America. The latex is collected and carefully boiled to remove excess moisture. When the water content is reduced to 33%, the chicle is poured off and molded into blocks. The product is an amorphous, pale-pink powder, insoluble in water, and forming a sticky paste when heated. In the manufacture of chewing gum, the chicle is cleaned, filtered, and sterilized, and various flavoring materials and sugar are added. (Sci Tech Encyclopedia)

I didn't time myself on this one, but I wish I had, as I think it was the easiest Wednesdays I've done in ages. I filled in with no real problems and only a handful of hesitations. Everything just fell in the way I dream about when I dream about being super awesome. Perhaps this is because fully 12 letters of every 15-letter theme answer were known entities once you understood the theme (which, for most people, I'm guessing was right after solving the second theme answer). Further, there's nothing terribly loopy about any of the fill, except (for me) the clue on STEM (12D: Skier's turn). I have apparently performed a variant of the STEM (the snowplough) without even knowing that that was what I was doing. Interesting (more about the STEM turn here). That NE corner is the only place I can providing anyone any real resistance. I know that that's where my wife is currently stuck. She has one letter to go - the "M" in SAN ANSELMO / STEM. I knew SAN ANSELMO almost instantly, both because my aunt lives there, and because of the great Van Morrison song "Snow in SAN ANSELMO" - can't find any youtube or clips of it, sadly, so here's a little iPod widget with another song from the same album, plus a song that represents the other potentially rough part of that NE corner: "JESSE" (9A: Heartbreaker who's "back in town" in a 1980 Carly Simon hit). Oh, and to top things off, a little 31A:

Create a playlist at

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Debugs computer programs, e.g. (catches glitches)
  • 24A: Responds to rashes (scratches itches)
  • 41A: Does some mending (patches britches) - [Does some mending in the 19th century], maybe. "Britches," HA ha.
  • 54A: Lines up the sewing (matches stitches) - the answer that sounds most made-up to me; then again, I don't sew, so I have no basis for judgment

My Ideal Theme Answer for this puzzle:

[Dognaps] => SNATCHES BITCHES - come on, you know that's good.

I didn't really like the inclusion of both HIGH (in AIM HIGH - 40D: Set a lofty goal) and HIGHLY (43D: To a great degree) in the puzzle, but then I noticed that Ethiopia's Haile SELASSIE was there too, and that made the whole HIGH thing so perverse that I ended up kind of liking it. ARISTA crossing ARTISTA is a little much. The ATCHES/ITCHES thing means that we're already getting massive amounts of letter string repeats. Rein it in!


  • 32A: Collect splinters, so to speak (sit) - as in "... on the bench." "Ride the pine." ETC. ETC. (10D: Blah, blah, blah, for short)
  • 34A: Nutmeg State sch. (U Conn) - wrote in U TENN at first :(
  • 57A: Coral creation (atoll) - wrote in SHOAL at first. A SHOAL is made up of sand, silt, or small pebbles.
  • 59A: Only beardless dwarf (Dopey) - is that because he's pre-pubescent. He always creeped me out the most of the dwarves.
  • 18D: Umiak passenger (Inuit) - UMIAK, of course, means "woman's boat."
  • 25D: Tiramisu topper (cocoa) - mmmm, good stuff
  • 35D: What oysters "R" during "R" months (in season) - first, I can't recall ever seeing this wacky punning use of "R" as a verb in a clue that lacked a "?" at the end. Second, I had no idea about oysters and R-less months until I got crushed by a puzzle where one of the answers was RLESS. I stared and stared at it. Didn't help.
  • 42D: Raw material for Wrigley's, once (chicle) - Weird coincidence: I ate a whole package of CHICLEts yesterday, which almost never happens. I think it had been sitting on my candy rack for years (yes, I own a vintage metal grocery checkout lane candy rack with various Life Savers flavors represented on one of the main crossbars)
  • 48D: Brussels-based alliance (NATO) - Brussels? Hmm. Not sure I knew that.

Signed, Rex Parker, Kind of CrossWorld

LAT solvers: Amy Reynaldo's got today's Jack McInturff puzzle all written up over at "L.A. Crossword Confidential"


nanpilla 8:14 AM  

Agree that this was a very easy Wednesday, since it was obvious what so much of the fill was going to be. Didn't like SCRATCHES ITCHES, because it didn't follow the pattern of the other theme answers. My suggestion:
HATCHES SNITCHES ( clue: raises stool pigeons)

ETCETC immediately brought to mind Yul Brynner in The King and I.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

I had a problem with 1A & 1D. I had CORE & COLA for a while. But I figured it out in the end, and for me to be able to finish a Wednesday without looking anything up does probably equal an Easy assessment.

Rex Parker 8:32 AM  

I forgot to mention: first sign that things would be going well today - threw down BOLE for 1A and it was Right. Not even sure what part of my brain that word was hiding in, but it worked.


Unknown 8:47 AM  

Rex, I do sew and when I do I match seams, not stitches. Of course the seams are where the stitches intersect, but that's really a stretch.


joho 8:47 AM  

Seems to me that this puzzle should have been switched with yesterday's as far as difficulty goes. Pancho's puzzle was more interesting, too. (And thank you Andrea Carla Michaels for letting us know that Pancho wasn't responsible for ALGID!)

But this puzzle was fun and really fits the term "easy, breezy."

I didn't like HIGHLY and AIMHIGH. Also my brain kept reading ONE GATIVE ... duh!

Kurt 8:51 AM  

I agree with Admiral Parker. Pretty easy Wednesday puzzle and perhaps a little too cute what with all of the ITCHES and ATCHES and HIGHs and ARTISTEs.

I was sure that BOLE would be the word of the day. Unlike Rex, that word was not hiding in any part of my brain. A new one for me.

I thought that nanpilla's suggestion -- HATCHES SNITCHES -- was terrific and more entertaining than the real theme answers.

Bill from NJ 8:53 AM  

Carly Simon is my wife's favorite singer to such an extent that we named our daughter after her. In a stunning coincidence, they share the same birthday. A round about way of saying the NE posed no particular problem for me.

Once the theme became evident, only a couple of problem spots - LCDS for RCAS and ERS for UHS - kept me from rendering a directed verdict as I shared Rex's opinion of this puzzle.

Along with the theme entries, ANTIGUA and OPENWEAVE lent a certain panache to this puzzle and DOPEY gave it a fizzy quality as he always creeped me out being what I can only describe as a grown up baby-man. Weird, huh.

Enjoyed this one.

ArtLvr 9:04 AM  

It was a bit too easy, with all the repeats! And the answer MATCHES STITCHES is vital for sewing by hand, as on a patchwork quilt's top!


Bob Kerfuffle 9:18 AM  

Easy puzzle, zooming right along, but made one really silly mistake: Had the IN for 36 D, What oysters "R" during "R" months, threw in INEDIBLE without actually reading the clue. It fit! Quickly changed to INSEASON when crosses objected.

Found the right answer eventually, but wondered about ARTISTA - apparently Italian doesn't follow the same gender rules re "a" and "o" endings as Spanish?

Xavier 9:24 AM  

Well, it was easy until I was forced to reckon with the NE. It blocked my initial entry and was forced to come back to it. I eventually gave up last night, and after sleeping on it, I came back this morning and I churned it out.

The big problem was that I put in SELLASIE with two Ls instead of two Ss. It took me three tries to get ANSELMO. First I had LEANDRO, and I think ETC ETC made me change it to LORENZO, both valid SANs. These kept blocking INUIT even though I really wanted to put it in. I finally saw JET SET this morning and the rest fell into place.


Kurisu 9:27 AM  

INSEASON came easily, though I'm not sure why. Evidently I've been told at some point that oysters are in season in months containing "R", but I don't know what part of my brain I yanked that from.

SELASSIE was a total mystery to me.

treedweller 9:40 AM  

Solidarity, Sandy! I left that M to the end, as well, and finally just cheated. Never heard of STEM turns (never skied, so that must be why). I have no relatives in San ANSELMO, nor do I listen to much Van Morrison. I almost guessed P at that crossing, but it seemed way unlikely, so I just quit.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

I only wish 21a had been clued as "Pantera vocalist Phil."

mac 9:50 AM  

I liked this puzzle, although it does seem easy for a Wednesday. For Bole I needed some crosses, and then stump appeared underneath it. Jesse was no problem since I like Carly, and I did know the "stem" term for the skier's turn.

"Matches stitches" is perfectly fine, it's the clue that is iffy.

That "R" in the month for oysters isn't so important anymore since they get cooled and shipped so quickly these days. We're having oysters next Saturday, going out with friends to a restaurant for that course, then back to our house for the rest of the dinner. Nobody wanted to sacrifice their fingers to open them in my kitchen.... The husbands planned this dinner, then they entrusted the details to the wives. I think it all started with a great bottle of port and a killer Stilton.

Sandy 9:53 AM  

There's no cheating in crosswords. You do it however you can. Me, I just flaked out and left it blank, waiting for Rex to explain it to me this morning.
I had to erase in the middle, because I wrote in IDA as the ore suffix. Too clever for my own good.

Ulrich 10:08 AM  

I agree: Todays' and yesterday's puzzles should have been switched, and I liked today's better overall EXCEPT for a big complaint:

As one does puzzles on a regular basis, one learns not only crosswordese, but also the wrong clues constructors like to give for the right answers. So, when I saw "road" in connection with the Rheinland, I knew the answer was the #$%^ BAHN, although nobody in the Rheinland (believe me, I was born and grew up there) would ever use Bahn to refer to a road--it means most often "railroad", short for Eisenbahn ("iron track"). Bahn can also mean the orbit of a planet, or the lane a swimmer swims in. An Achterbahn ("figure 8 track") is a rollercoaster, the U-Bahn is the subway, and a Straßenbahn a streetcar(system). In short, a Bahn is a very restricted path, and Autobahn does not mean "auto road", it means "auto track" or "auto rail".

When I bitched about this the first time, I got into a fight with a constructor--via e-mail--who pointed out that his dictionary lists "road" as the meaning of Bahn. My advice: Throw the dictionary out of the window!

archaeoprof 10:11 AM  

I too thought BOLE would be the word for the day. Never heard of it before.

archaeoprof 10:13 AM  

And based on my experience in Germany I agree with everything Ulrich just said.

Well, maybe except the part about throwing the dictionary out the window..

slypett 10:18 AM  

This was the easiest Wednesday I've ever done. I remember that Wednesdays were once hard for me, so this is kind of an award for diligence.

Jeffrey 10:21 AM  

I'm in Sandyland today. Sailed through most of the puzzle, then spent well over a full minute testing every letter in the STE_/ANSEL_O box. Settled on M somehow.

Keeps an eye out for flooding - WATCHES DITCHES.

ALB looks wrong for BC neighbor.

Liked this one, overall.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Can we please settle on one or two abbreviations for Established? Please?

Ulrich 10:34 AM  

@archaeoprof: You're right--my bad! We should not litter. My advice should have been "bring the dictionary to a place where it can be safely recycled".

Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

That pesky M was the last to fall for me as well. I think it might be more common to say stemming but I've been off the slopes for awhile.
I knew Ulrich would have something to say about 22D but for someone who knows most of her German from Xwords this would be the only way to clue it. Thanks for the info Ulrich.
My father frequently said britches for pants when I was growing up but then he was from Kentucky.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

I hate that Dictionaries are Dictionaries of Common Usage, not Dictionaries of Correct Usage. At the least, they should be printed with two colors, Black for correct usage, Red for common, though incorrect usage.

xyz 10:44 AM  

Usually, Wednesdays are easy for me, more so than Tuesdays but I had to lay the puzzle down last night and finish the NE in the morning. NO help needed.

Theme was really easy to deduce.

However, All themes are 15 e.g.
but ...
WATCHESDITCHES is a letter short

just as the R-rated answer simply cluing "pimp" - you can fill it in yourself .....)

BOLE was a complete mystery to me, ETCETC was last to come as I was looking for a KVETCHES or something similar I didn't know - considering this is NYT.

PlantieBea 10:50 AM  

I too struggled with the NE corner and ended up with an error. Since I didn't know San ANSELMO, I called the ski turn a STEP--something I learned to do as a young skier. That left me with San ANSELPO which sounded just fine. Alas, the ski turn should have been the old STEM christie.

I also plugged in O POSITIVE for the universal blood type, but quickly realized the mistake when I hit the downs. I knew the nutmeg state from chat on this blog earlier this year.

Overall, a fun puzzle with some interesting words.

fikink 10:53 AM  

Even though it was a lark to see Glitch in today's puzzle, when you have four 15-letter theme answers, with 12 of those 15 letters being the same, the puzzle seems a "one-trick pony" to me and, IMO, should have been run on a Monday.
Loved seeing SELASSIE.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

I had very much the same association with ANSELMO. ANSELMO > "Snow in San Anselmo" > Van Morrison songs -- and for 30 minutes I'm listening to some great music, forgetting I was supposed to pay some bills before heading to work.

Anyone who wants a real treat should check out "Autumn Song" off the same album: 10 1/2 minutes of pure magic.

Nice to see Jerry Rosman's byline today. Enjoyable puzzle.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Again, I am not in sync. I thought this was medium even though it went smoothly enough. I made one error as I have never heard of San Anselmo or stem used in that way. I think I may have been snared in that web of atches and itches.

@Ulrich - I appreciate your input about German words very much. While reading your comment, I checked the meaning of autobahn on my computer (The New Oxford American Dictionary) and it says the meaning of autobahn is "German, Austrian, Swiss expressway." That is what I have always thought it meant. Doesn't one need to accept that if it is now in general use?

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Ugh, lots of weird forms of abbrevs here, like AVG, ENC, ESTAB. And I had SEED for 23A off the S, so wanted ALEUT for 18D, which cause problems. And STEM? You're supposed to avoid STEMs and BOLEs (tree trunks) when you're skiing!

Shamik 11:46 AM  

Yup...found this one to be an easy one. Only snag was those stupid oysters. I can never remember which way the rule goes, so first had INEDIBLE instead of INSEASON. Backwards!

As for DOPEY, the toon is the 1930's standard stereotype do we say it now...adults with congenital or traumatic mental deficits. Been 3 days since I did a puzzle. Was having withdrawal symptoms and only speaking in 1-2 syllable words.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

I had put in BOLL instead of it from the crosses. And I couldn't remember how to spell JESSE. (Jessie? Jessy?)

Ulrich/archeoprof, what is the German word for road?

I have a pin with a picture of a nutmeg on it from the curling club in Bridgeport, CT so that was an easy clue for me. However, nutmegs do not translate well into two-d, they look rather scatalogical.

hazel 11:51 AM  

I too didn't know ANSELMO, last letter to fall and lucky guess - and although I have close to 150 Van Morrison/Them songs on my ipod, I didn't have that song/album until now.

Thanks for the recommendations @Rex and @john farmer!

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle--ISTA as a suffix is invariable in Spanish as well as Italian. El ARTISTA, the male artist, La ARTISTA, the female artist. El PERIODISTA, the male journalist, La PERIODISTA, the female journalist.

@anonymous 10:41--Common usage always eventually becomes correct usage if it's common enough and enduring enough. Example: "It is I" is what your English teacher said is correct; "It's me" is what people say 99% of the time. Grammaticians have accepted the latter as "colloquial" for the time being, and it's verging on being full-fledged correct. But dictionaries do make mistakes, and the BAHN example apparently was just that--a simple mistake.

@Rex--Even though you pulled BOLE out of your subconscious, surely you don't think that's a common word, suitable for anything beside Fri. or Sat.? Just like you knew San ANSELMO because you knew someone who lived there, I'm sure you realize that sometimes something is a gimme for you by luck, not the innate easiness of the clue/answer.

mccoll 11:54 AM  

Easy for Wednesday is accurate for me. Cruised through it. Bole was a gimme (my age accounts for that ,I guess) Also age related, is STEM. The early downhill ski instructors taught the "Christiana Turn" which was performed by "stemming" the up-hill ski and then steering it across the fall line. Hence -"Stem Christie" entered the language.
@Crosscan - Canada Post uses ALTA for Alberta as do most folks "up here." "Grooming female dogs" would yield THATCHESBITCHES.

xyz 12:12 PM  

Straße or strasse is road or street

mac 12:17 PM  

@Karen: the word for road in German is Strasse, sometimes Weg.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

@Steve L Thanks so much, apparently I didn't know what I meant by the distinction I made between common and correct usage. Except that you're just plain wrong. Example: Alibi, which comes from the Latin for in or at another place, and the only possible correct usage of that is that one has an alibi for an event by being able to prove that they were elsewhere. Every single dictionary also provides excuse or rationale as a definition, which is just plain wrong. It's common, we should know that people use it in that manner, but just plain wrong.
Dictionaries, properly, provide definitions of common usage. By doing so they codify common, incorrect usage. And yes, I do hate that.

jeff in chicago 12:29 PM  

The M in STEM/ANSELMO was my last letter as well. And wasn't en educated guess. It was a random letter because I won't cheat with only one letter to go. I was very surprised to see that it was correct. I have only skied twice, and the second time I tore my ACL. I decided it was not my sport. Learned BOLE today; got it through crosses.

Note to self: Brush up on Pantera lead vocalists. (Anselmo, Hart, Glaze/Lee, L'Amour, Peacock)

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

@Anon 10:41--I bet you tell your doctor he's wrong all the time, too. My students do the same. What a word means now doesn't have to be what it meant 2000 years ago. We call a flimsy night garment for women a NEGLIGEE. The French do not call it a NEGLECTED. When the French want to hitchhike, ils font de l'AUTOSTOP. For us Americans, that's either a nonsense word or a setting on an old cassette player. Or maybe I'm just plain wrong. (Do I have your permission to start a sentence with a conjunction?)

PuzzleGirl 12:44 PM  

I totally dug this theme. Sure, it made it easy, but I thought it was great fun. Thanks for the Kool & the Gang. That's exactly what's been going through my head all day. Also kept trying to remember if the guy in "You're So Vain" had a name.

jae 12:46 PM  

Easy for me too. Add me to the INEDIBLE group as I skimmed the clue on the first pass. Had the same issue as many of you with STEM/ANSELMO and lucky guessed the M. For future reference Saint ANSELM was Archbishop of Canterbury 1093-1109.

I liked yesterday's better than this one. The letter repetitions made this less interesting.

jae 12:48 PM  

@puzzlegirl -- yeah -- it was Warren Beatty but he was never named in the song.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

I heard a parody of "You're So Vain" several years ago called "Kurt Cobain." The chorus was "Kurt Cobain, they'll probably do the album without you."

Rex Parker 12:51 PM  

@steve l. I'm sure you realize that your ignorance of BOLE and ANSELMO doesn't make them obscure. BOLE is simply not strange. I knew the word even before I started doing xwords, and my life has very little to do with trees. ANSELMO is also no problem at all for anyone who has any sense of the Bay Area (or any appreciation of Van Morrison). Both fine Wednesday words.

Go back to arguing with that guy about usage / "correctness". You're on stronger ground there.


mac 12:54 PM  

@PuzzleGirl and @jae: I have always thought the song was about James Taylor. I don't think Carly has ever confirmed who it was about.

Jeffrey 12:55 PM  

"ANSELMO is also no problem at all for anyone who has any sense of the Bay Area."

Isn't that like saying NATICK is also no problem at all for anyone who has any sense of the Boston Area?

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

@Rex--Glad to see you agree with me on something!

@Crosscan--Guess you found San ANSELMO a little obscure, too.

@Rex again--Got ALSELMO because of familiarity with Spanish; about BOLE, you wrote "first sign that things would be going well today - threw down BOLE for 1A and it was Right. Not even sure what part of my brain that word was hiding in, but it worked." That sure sounds to me that you were amazed it was Right. (I've noticed that you Capitalize midsentence to show astonishment.)

PS I didn't think STEM for skiing was such a well-known word either.
PPS None of this is sour grapes. I finished without errors.

chefbea 1:34 PM  

Easy fun Wednesday puzzle. I did have to look up Anselmo in my atlas.

Connecticut is the Constitution State - at least it says that on my license plate. And we did have this conversation a while back.

Love Oysters in any month and of course Tiramisu.

joho 1:36 PM  

@mac @PuzzleGirl @jae ... I always heard the song was about Warren Beatty. Carly Simon sold the secret of who it is to some bidder a few years back and evidently swore him to secrecy.

I used to live in Mill Valley so San Anselmo was a gimme.

I also learned the stem christie when I started skiing. Another gimme.

I even knew BOLE, but am not sure why.

We all have different adventures in life which give us different gimmes.

Rex Parker 1:46 PM  


NATICK would never have been NATICK if a. it hadn't had a tough proper noun cross or b. Van Morrison, or anyone of note, had ever sung about it.


xyz 1:47 PM  

Being a CT native, it is either CONSTITUTION or NUTMEG. Our home state is so large it needs two nicknames.

Jeffrey 1:59 PM  

@rex - But Sandy couldn't get it despite having an aunt-in-law living there and you can't find a clip of the song which I have never heard of (which, admittedly, may be a personal lapse.)

STEM, as clued, is a tough crossing.

It is time for the truth. You're So Vain is about me.

I'll go back to WATCHING DITCHES (15 letters) now. Three and out.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

I can't believe I'd ever not agree with Rex about anything, but I live but miles from SAN ANSELMO and I couldn't come up with it for a very long time!
I kept thinking, SAN RAFAEL, MARIN, ROSS...what the hell is up there???!!

(I also didn't know from STEM and immediately wondered if that had anything to do with Natasha Richardson's horrible accident. That's why I've always been afraid to ski...
On a lighter note, I hear that's how DK and wife met, so perhaps worth learning my STEMS from my Christina uphills.

My one time experience in forced skiing was in gym class in Minnesota ant that was strictly cross-country. Walk and freeze on pieces of wood? No thank you)

Which brings me back to why I moved to California...
That said, I do encourage Rex et famille to come back and visit me en route to his aunt's!

(For the record, I also didn't know BOLE and I hate when I don't know 1A as I like to solve my puzzles starting there and marching across.)

I feel your pain and I think it was worth saying again and generating the discussion about dictionaries, even tho people get a bit bitchy
it's worthy to have those conversations.
Instead of color-coding, I think the dictionaries should just mark it as common usage...with the understanding that common usage will grow to be accepted usage, that's how it works with language.
(I mean, "It's me!" works for me/I?!)

As a former teacher of ESL and a survivor of many foreign beaux, I'm more in favor of trying to relax a bit without feeling the world is coming to an end.

I may have said this before, but "I don't want nothing" to my ear is "wrong" but clearer and more charming (depending on the speaker, of course!)

I love that you had IDA for the ORE suffix!!!!!!!!!! That is super clever and should be used for something!!!

As for the whole rhyming thing, felt more like a Monday to me too, except that it's super hard to pull off four 15s and have BOTH the first word and second word rhyme...

On the other hand, it makes the solve super easy, as Rex pointed out with the whole 12 of the 15 letters are the same each time, which is usually a big no-no and why Will doesn't take the puzzles where one just rhymes. So this was icky-tricky.

And if I was a freak with a third hand, I'd mention that I find it encouraging, bec I would love to get away with/create a puzzle like this...

If/When folks start trying to come up with their own rhymes, and feel frisky after finishing the puzzle, then I think the puzzle is super-successful in that it's not only
a) not forgotten but
b) encourages cleverness and playfulness and creativity afterward (after words?)on the part of the solver...
that's gotta be a good thing...right?

for you, I'd change my name to Andrea Carly Michaels!

Doug 2:08 PM  

Talk about arcane. Nobody has done a STEM turn in skiing in a zillion years. It hasn't been taught for probably 40 years or so. The stem turn was the intermediate step between a snowplow turn and the parallel turn. It was also called the "stem christie," why I don't know. Yeah, I go back to wooden skis, and I ain't yet a sexagenarian.

Ulrich 2:24 PM  

@Anne: remember, the issue is not the meaning of "Autobahn". The issue is if a Rhinelander would ever use BAHN in a situation where a speaker of English would use "road", and the answer is, emphatically, NO! And if you want to refer to the famous autobahn, you CANNOT just chop the "auto" off b/c then, as I said, you end up talking about the railroad.

@mac and redanman: Right you are.

@acme: I totally agree with you w.r. to usage, and I swear, BAHN has not acquired the meaning of "road" yet, neither in the Rhineland nor in German-speaking countries in general.

fergus 2:30 PM  

Acme, You could have put in San FAIRFAX, which is right next door.

I entered PATCHES GLITCHES right away and almost left it in. Patching is more complete debugging than merely Catching, after all. The wrong letter I did leave in, though, was the U in HUGHLY, I mean HUGELY, err -- I didn't check my grid very closely.

WATCHES WITCHES could be something from Macbeth. That would probably get tossed by exacting editor due to inconsistent vowel sound.

Megan P 2:58 PM  

@puzzlegirl, jae, mac, joho, and countless others: I think the "You're so Vain" guy was Nicholas Delbanco.

And I forget who asked about this, but lots of endings in Italian for professions look feminine: poeta is one I think of.

I loved the puzzle! It was easy, but it reminded me of Itchy and Scratchy, and the immortal baseball doggerel we chanted as kids:

"We want a catcher, not a belly scratcher.
We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher."

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

Seeing Selassie in the grid made me think of this video

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

Anyone know the KNISH NOSH in Queens, NY? Favorite spot. 60 Across inspired some fond memories.

Bill from NJ 3:21 PM  

I think I remember an article in Rolling Stone where Carly Simon said "You're so Vain" was, in fact about Warren Beatty as she apparantly had an "affair" with him (of a short duration, if you get my drift). The article was published shortly after her relationship with James Taylor broke up.

My wife and I feel a special kinship with Carly Simon because of the coincidence of birthdays as I indicated earlier.

And Andrea? You know what I think about you. To quote edith b, that's a neon.

edith b 3:48 PM  

I'm not sure where BOLE came from but I think it is a word I have "always" known.

This is one of those puzzles where once you see the theme there is so much repetition that a lot of the puzzle falls into place almost at once. This one seems to be on Monday level, IMOO.

And thank you, Bill from NJ, for the shout-out. It's always nice to be recognized.

chefwen 4:16 PM  

First fill for me was BOLE (plant science class), second was BOCA and I was off to the races.

Fell into the inedible and INSEASON trap as well and had to respell SELASSIE a couple of times, also had a bore instead of ADRAG, but all were easily fixed.

Favorite intersection was ARISTA and ARTISTA, i's just fun to say them together.

Three great puzzles in a row, looking forward to Thursday

SethG 4:52 PM  

I knew SELASSIE because I used to be Director of Cultural Activities at the Haile Selassie Pavilion. That was just before I rocked the Casbah. I think that song was about Shia LeBeouf. There are a few Uncles Jesse, and I have an Uncle Hi.

I understand the STEM/ANSELMO confusion, but I'm having trouble seeing how anyone would have trouble getting BOLE from the crosses. And if the crosses are easy enough, I'm not sure why anything couldn't be a Wednesday word.


Greene 5:39 PM  

@Rex: I actually know of a very moving song which concerns Natick, Massachusetts. It's called "14 Dwight Ave., Natick, Massachusets" and comes from a quirky and beautiful song cycle called Elegies by theatre composer William Finn. The cycle was staged at Lincoln Center back in 2003 and the song was subsequently recorded by Betty Buckley.

Now William Finn and Betty Buckley probably don't qualify as "people of note" and the song has certainly not had any airplay or widespread cultural recognition, but I guess it depends on your point of reference. These are certainly big names in the theatre community and Buckley has done enough TV and movie work to have some national name recognition.

So...I know this song very well and Natick, Massachusetts is in my cultural lexicon. As I recall, however, this knowledge did not help me one bit when Natick appeared in the puzzle all those months ago when you coined the phrase. It was still a fiendishly difficult cross, but at least when I came here and saw the solution I felt better for at least having heard of the town (which sounds quite lovely as described in the song).

retired_chemist 5:51 PM  

Agree with the easy rating, although I blew 5A. Left in LCDS when CASBAH (6D) and SELASSIE (8D) appeared to confirm it. Didn't check the downs (which obviously were garbage) before coming here. Note to self: STOP NOT DOING THAT!

Spent 4+ years of my life in the Bay Area and only vaguely recalled SAN ANSELMO. Never went there.

jeff in chicago 6:10 PM  

@Greene: Betty Buckley! Star of, among many other things, "Carrie: The Musical." (Replacing Barbara Cook. BARBARA COOK!!!) Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a Broadway musical adapation of "Carrie" that included a scene of"becoming a woman" in the school shower (and then singing about it). Debbie Allen did the choreography. DEBBIE ALLEN!!!

I'm sorry...I'm at the wrong blog. Greene? A new entry at "Everything The Traffic Will Allow"?

Anonymous 6:40 PM  

Nice easy puzzle, even with such an open grid and costrained theme answers, and even though I didn't know 1A:BOLE. If I said I saw a tree trunk 30 feet wide, would that be hyperbole?

@Ulrich: thanks for confirming my suspicion about the clue for 22D:BAHN. About yesterday's discussion on ERNŐ vs. SCHÖN, better ask a fluent speaker of Hungarian and German if the vowel sounds match -- though I don't think this should be relevant since crosswords go by spelling, not sound (we can cross COIN and CENT at their initial letters, but not COIN and QUARTER).


retired_chemist 6:51 PM  

@ chefwen and others -

A BORE was my first thought too, but I waited to see a cross before committing.

Is A BORE vs. A DRAG for 36A a geezer test? Remember Louis Jourdan in Gigi - "It's a bore." Need to be 60 or so to have caught that one in the first run....

mac 6:56 PM  

@Acme: I'm so impressed with the foreign beaux!

@I: very funny post!

@Greene: another great comment!

I guess I'm ELATED, with all thos exclamation marks.

Leon 7:40 PM  

Thanks for the puzzle Mr. Rosman.

@anonymous 3:08:

Knish Nosh is still going strong on Queens Boulevard. They call themselves a Knishery.

Anonymous 8:03 PM  

OK, so it was a slow afternoon at work, so I Googled Van Morrison discography and found out that the San ANSELMO song had never charted, was never a single, was never even a featured cut on any album (you know, "including Moondance, Brown Eyed Girl, Domino, Theonetherecordcompanywouldn'tletmereleaseasasingle, and more"). I actually like Van Morrison, but never heard of that song. Google Van and you get ten million hits. Google Van plus Anselmo, it drops down to under 400,000.
So thanks Greene for your great Natick post. You made your point--and mine--beautifully. (BTW, nine months later, I still don't think that either Natick or NC Wyeth were that ungettable.)
@NDE--thanks for supporting my notion that BOLE is pretty rare. Someone on this blog once cued me in that you're a really smart guy, and if you don't recognize it, it probably is a rare word. I kept staring at the E to make sure that ENC couldn't be anything else.
All I'm saying is I didn't think this puzzle was of sail-through easiness. Just sayin'.
And I never mentioned that AIMHIGH and HIGHLY should not have been used in the same grid.
@Doug--I'm not a skier, but I had a sneaking suspicion that STEM is not a word that's even skiers know (at least in the 21st century). Thanks for confirming that.

Anonymous 8:22 PM  

$D: "Business letter abbr." could have been Inc. (incorporated) instead of enc. In which case 1A becomes Boli which means if you dont know the word, you dont get it right, which means for a Wed. its very hard, which means...nothing?

Rex Parker 9:06 PM  

@steve l,

Wrongness is one thing, but outright dishonesty is something else.

NDE did not say BOLE was "rare" and he wasn't supporting any notion of yours at all. He simply said he didn't know the word.

Further, your Google research is a lie. Googling [van morrison] gets you 5.96 million hits. Adding [anselmo] does indeed drop the number considerably ... as does adding ANY word to the search. Guess what happens when you add [moondance] to the search (a song that, presumably, you've heard of)?: it drops to *below* 400K (308K, to be exact). You know what all that Googling proves about ANSELMO or NATICK or the price of tea in China? Zero.

And who cares that you didn't say anything about AIM HIGH and HIGHLY? Read the post - I already made that point. And then some.

liquid el lay 9:06 PM  

I don't like this one. __TCHES__ITCHES is ugly like a disease.

Just ugliness. I would be stoked if it were ITCHY & SCRATCHY, as someone said, who made an appearance. I'd like to see them running and fighting all over the grid breaking up these ugly words.

That said, I do like TOOHOT (x COCOA, too), and that cluster of Os around UC Berkley (and San ANSELMO) Ore, is it? Aurite? There's even some ore in, it looks like, RENO. (a TON of it) (LA Times, sorry)

I was encouraged by the wonderfully topical la BREA tar pits.. and san ANSELMO... California friendly I thought- but.... no.... yuk.

Kind of DOPEY. I didn't want anyone to see me doing this puzzle... I was ashamed.

And lastly,
"Orbiting telescope launcher"- NASA isn't that kind of lame? Believe it or not, 40 years ago, those guys put a man on the moon- and brought him back. I'm not kidding. Really happened.

clue it- Hubble's hurler.

Dan Rosen 9:42 PM  

Just a quick thought before I get psyched for the Thursday puzzle. I second Fergus' comment above -- patches glitches is more accurate. Catch is simply too generic (as "glitch" could be a goof up in any area). By using "patches" the glitch would be more specifically a computer problem. Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous 9:52 PM  

@Rex--Those were the numbers I got when I Googled the aforementioned words. I tried again after your comment, and it seems you were right about the number of "Van Morrison" hits, but if I "lied," then I vastly overstated the "Anselmo" hits. Also, I don't think I said that NDE actually stated that he was supporting ME--I just said that his statement that BOLE was rare said to me that he supported my assertion. In other words, it seemed to me to support my statement.

I thought my statements were fairly innocuous today. I'm not sure why you've chosen to jump down my throat.

Anonymous 9:56 PM  

@Steve L
I think it a valid assumption that we’re all language aware people here, otherwise we would be all over at the KenKen blog posting about all those wonderful numbers in the grid. I would be surprised if I were significantly less aware that language is an evolving, growing phenomena than any others here, nor would I presume to guess that I am more so than any others. I freely admit that there are those here with significantly greater specific knowledge of the dynamics of language growth than I. It’s been proven to me on a daily basis. I answer the question “Who’s there” with “It’s me” because I don’t know how to answer with “It is I” without sounding pedantic, even though I know it is correct. I’ve been corrected about the difference between “Can I” and “May I” so often as a child that I both know which is correct any given situation, and that I cringe when I hear a child so being corrected.
I misspoke earlier when I contrasted “common” vs “correct”, that was too broad a distinction. There are instances where I feel the inclusion of common usage does a disservice to the English language, and offered alibi as an example. The standard definition of alibi has a clear etymology coupled with centuries of usage in its original form, proof of being elsewhere. I would be astonished to find any etymology, historical usage, anything, about the use of alibi as a synonym for excuse other than instances of people using it who didn’t know what it really meant, i.e. using it incorrectly. Apparently enough people have used it incorrectly to render this usage common, hence dictionaries include it, and it no longer becomes incorrect.
I don’t think the English language is well served by expanding the definition of alibi to include excuse based on sufficiently frequent misuses in this manner. Excuse has plenty of synonyms, whereas alibi, sans the excuse definition, has none. The precision of alibi has been diluted with no compensatory broadening of the language.
So yes, I think it would be a good thing dictionaries somehow served the dual purpose of providing all common usages, and highlighting which were actually standard. Sorry that this offends.

joho 10:10 PM  

I loved Betty Buckley in "Tender Mercies."

I. (An homage to Seth G.)

Unknown 10:41 PM  

Anon 10:41
Despite your protest, I find your comment an excellent review of language and summary of the discussion today.

Anonymous 10:47 PM  

I'm guessing NDE has at least 20 IQ points on me, and I knew BOLE and he didn't. All this means is that I knew BOLE and he didn't. And he's still got 20+ IQ points on me.

Anonymous 11:02 PM  

joho, "Tender Mercies" is one of my favorite movies. Everybody in it is great. I offer that here because you people are always asking what my favorite movies are.

Stan 11:09 PM  

Thanks for the explanations of "bahn" and "Stem Christie" -- I learned something from both.

re: Natick, MA. Birthplace of Jonathan Richman (1951).

@Anon: Incorrect speech: that's one thing up with which I will not put!

Stan 11:51 PM  

Oh, and the puzzle...

Very enjoyable overall: BOLE, OPENWEAVE, TOOHOT, INSEASON, and especially CHICLE were all excellent --gettable but non-standard. And the theme basically worked.

Thanks Jerry Rosman

foodie 12:37 AM  

It's awful late (is that awfully late?) and I've been crazy busy, but I wanted to say 2 things:

@andrea carla, it's lovely to "see" you again. Somehow, I haven't read a post from you in a while (I've been gone a lot lately) and found myself wondering what you'd think about this or that. I had that thought today with SAN ANSELMO-- would that be a gimme for Andrea? ... I eventually got it but it was not immediate for me, even though I lived in the Bay Area for several years, and I even went through that same list of locales.

@sandy, I too had IDA after Ore, and did not figure out that spot till I got here. Great fruity minds think... about potatoes.

Bill from NJ 12:40 AM  


If there is anybody who understands drunks better than Horton Foote it's probably Bobby Duvall.

I gave myself permission to cry when Duvall sang at the end of "Tender Mercies."

Orange 12:57 AM  

Bill from NJ, that's your new thing—leaving blog comments identifying the pop culture entities that make you cry. I can't list those things myself because I give myself permission to cry a lot more often than you do!

Bill from NJ 2:27 AM  

I wasn't aware I was doing that but you're right - I am. I'm trying to get back into the habit of commenting on a couple of blogs (yours included.) I guess there is a shame component happening here - you know, boys aren't supposed to cry, especially Jewish boys.

+wordphan 3:30 AM  

Putting "comments" to bed again, I see.
This Wednesday puzzle rocked like a Wednesday should.
Wednesday: Wotan
Thursday: Thor

Bring it on, Nordic gods.

Charly 6:36 PM  

Having been dumped by one JESSE, 9-Across was today's easiest answer for me, though I was born well after 1980.

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

My comment comes late due to my receiving the NYT crossword in syndication in the Daily Texas (Univ of Texas school paper), so forgive my yesterday's news comment.

How about this for the theme:
Clue = "imprisons ladies of Salem"
Answer = "Latches Witches"

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