Computer language in Y2K news - WEDNESDAY, May 27 2009 - C Rubin (Monarch crowned in 1558 Abbr / Left Bank toppers)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: " ... like a Brit" - familiar (American) expressions have words inside them changed to their British counterparts, creating nonsense phrases, which are then clued, "?"-style

Word of the Day: ELUTE (42A: Extract with a solvent) - tr.v., e·lut·ed, e·lut·ing, e·lutes.

To extract (one material) from another, usually by means of a solvent.

[From Latin ēluere, ēlūt-, to wash out : ē-, ex-, ex- + -luere, to wash.]

A cute little Wednesday, though I have one question: Can LORRY be a verb? Or do parts of speech not matter in this little switcheroofest? Not surprisingly, both because it was first and because it was nuts, KEEP ON LORRYIN' took me the longest to get of all the theme answers. In fact, once I got out of the N/NW, it was all pretty smooth, but the start was bumpy enough to keep this at what felt like an average Wednesday level of difficulty. I could make nothing out of 1A: One-two part (jab) at first. Kept thinking of Lawrence Welk's "a-one, and a-two" and boxing never entered the equation. I also don't know my computer languages from my left elbow, and so COBOL took me a few crosses (4D: Computer language in Y2K news). To my (very minor) credit, I had at least heard of COBOL before ... probably from puzzles. I had no idea it had anything to do with Y2K. I remember the Y2K hype very well. No memories of COBOL. Isn't COBOL a planet in the "Battlestar Galactica" universe? Anyway, moving on - the Downs in the N/NW are quite lovely. Really like JACK UP (1D: Hike, as a price), and GO-ROUND (7D: Bout), MIX IT UP (10D: Have a tussle), and IN DRAG (8D: Clad like some Halloween paraders) aren't half-bad either. MUSIC BOX also has its merits - reminds me of the song "MUSIC BOX Dancer," which somehow, for reasons that are way beyond my comprehension, charted as a single in the late 70s despite being entirely instrumental and, well ... here, you listen:

Embarrassing fact for the day: I remember, at 9 years old, calling Y94 (local radio station) and requesting "Music Box Dancer" ... and then sitting around listening to the radio, waiting for them to play it. My tastes in music would ... develop.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Words of encouragement to a Brit? ("Keep on LORRYin'!") - from "Keep on truckin'"
  • 29A: Group of dancing Brits? (conga QUEUE) - from "conga line"
  • 46A: British smart-alecks? (wise BLOKES) - from "wise guys"
  • 56A: Sleep like a Brit? (catch some ZEDS) - from "catch some z's"


  • 2D: Vulcans and Romulans (aliens) - I don't think Vulcans and Romulans are ALIENS if you are on Vulcan or Romulus. I'm just sayin'.
  • 19A: Daisy type (oxeye) - I just had to look up how to spell this word. Thought it might be OX [space] EYE, or OX [dash] EYE.
  • 53A: Dresden denial (nein) - part of a one-two foreign-word clue alliteration punch, with 58D: Other, in Oaxaca (otro).
  • 55A: Wedding memento (video) - now that is a hard clue, in that VIDEO does not leap, or even LIMP (49A: Favor one side, perhaps), to mind. And yet it makes sense.
  • 60A: When doubled, a wolf's call (hubba) - I wonder how many people puzzled over the possible sounds that actual wolves make ... OWOOOO (that's my version of a howl)
  • 63A: Sacha Baron Cohen character _____ G (Ali) - beware his full name, which looks nuts in the grid: "ALIG? Who the hell calls himself ALIG?"
  • 67A: iPhone display unit (pixel) - I guess so. "iPhone" part is quite arbitrary.
  • 9D: Bernstein/Sondheim's "_____ Like That" ("A Boy") - no idea. None. Dang, it's from "West Side Story" - I really should see that movie.

  • 33D: Leopold's partner in a sensational 1924 trial (Loeb) - do you really need anything after "partner?" What other famous partner did any guy in history named "Leopold" have?
  • 45D: Monarch crowned in 1558: Abbr. (Eliz.) - easy, but weird to see her referred to without the familiar "I" after her name.

A few other items of business. One, for those of you who missed my late addition to yesterday's write-up, be sure to check out occasional Rex stand-in and commenter Wade's new song-writing venture ("Nutcraker Buck"). His recent song about Captain Sully Sullenberger is getting press.

Next, crossword-constructing whipper-snapper Natan Last gets a nice write-up in the latest issue of Brown University's Alumni Magazine. Best quote from the interview: "I really like shoving a bunch of cool words into a puzzle." No pretension. Straight to the point. Natan thinks he looks like a "[-----]face" in the accompanying photo, but I think he looks scrappy and impish, like a combination of Jo from "Facts of Life" and Alex P. Keaton from "Family Ties." Anyway, check out the article here.

And lastly, a little literary anecdote. Last night, I was reading "Fat" by Raymond Carver in a used paperback edition of "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?" that I got at a book sale a while back. Carver was my idol as a (very) young man, and I hadn't read him in ages, so I was excited to revisit his stories, especially "Fat," which stuck in my mind like few others. As I read, the pages came loose and fell neatly out of the book, but I didn't think anything of it - after all, it was a used book that I got for virtually nothing. When I finished the story, I flipped the small stack of loose pages over and noticed, for the very first time, the following inscription: "For Pat Wilcox, with my thanks for being here tonight, Ray. Carver 11/10/81" I discover that I own a signed Carver only because the book literally falls apart in my hands. It was tragic and magical all at the same time. Next to his signature, Carver has underlined the date, and just below that, he's written my favorite part of the whole inscription: "Binghamton!" What's weird - Carver would have been here (Binghamton, where I live) visiting, among others, the novelist John Gardner, who taught here for many years. Gardner would die in a motorcycle accident less than a year after Carver's visit.

Since it's already fallen out of the book, I think I'm going to frame that inscribed title page and put it right underneath the framed Ali signature from 1971 that's addressed to me and my mom.

Enjoy your day,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Hey syndicated readers (i.e. those reading this on Wed., July 1, 2009) — just wanted to alert you to a contest going on at my other blog today through Friday morning, July 3, 2009. Grand prize = three pretty choice books from my vintage paperback collection. Contest should be amusing. I got a panel of guest judges and everything.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


dk 8:35 AM  

Rex, your Carver story is a gem.

This puzzle was a breeze. I had ODEto and Piers instead of BIERS until I got to the downs.

KEEPONLORRYIN seems to be a take off on "keep on truckin" a phrase made popular by Mr. Natural from the pen of R. Crumb.

Ulrich 8:39 AM  

"Cute" is exactly the word I had in mind before I even read Rex's write-up (now what would be the British equivalent?). And I wouldn't worry about "lorry" being a verb and all--the "switcheroofest" works, for me, at a literal level--i.e. you switch the words as they stand w/o worrying much about the larger grammatical picture.

And the Carver story made me smile...

Dough 8:40 AM  

I rather enjoyed today's puzzle. The theme was solid and opened the way for some fresh entries. I have to give Corey and Will their props for sidestepping the trite old URI Geller, i cannot tell A LIE, and it's A BOY!. The fresh entries @Rex noted, plus OD on and the morbid but interesting BIERS. Two Sondheim references today, one from WSS, and the other is indirect: "Wise Blokes" is a play on "Wise Guys," which was the former name of his upcoming musical "Road Show." Hey, us puzzle people have to stick together, right!

John 8:40 AM  

Pretty hard compared to yesterday. Definitly an All over the place solve, but very enjoyable.

mac 8:41 AM  

Why Rex, what a delightful read you produced! Great find in the Carver book. I'll check him out, too. Between you and Orange I'm broadening my literary intake.

What a funny puzzle today, with some very easy sections and then little patches I found very tough to crack. I had the same problem with hubba, but tenable helped there, as did hap which surfaced from who-knows-where. For the clause I expected something more formal, maybe Latin, so "opt out" took a while, and who is this cop called Friday?

nanpilla 8:42 AM  

I liked how CUED crossed QUEUE. Too bad there isn't an F. I think its a pangram other than that. I was trying to figure a way to get an F in there. I could only come up with ALF for 14a and BFRETS for 3 down. Do frets have names? Is there a B FRET? Anyway, a very enjoyable puzzle.

dk 8:53 AM  


Watch Dragnet or the SNL parody. "Just the facts maam!"

ArtLvr 8:59 AM  

@ mac -- Sgt. Joe Friday was one of the two main characters on the TV show "Dragnet", played by Jack Webb. His partner was Officer Gannon, played by Harry Morgan who turned up later on M*A*S*H* as Col Potter. They were memorable for laconic style of speech, especially "Just the facts, ma'am".


fikink 9:00 AM  

Cool Carver story, Rex.
This puzzle - Not my taste.
It was like fingernails on a blackboard to me. Sounds and rhythms were so off, it rendered the puzzle a vocabulary quiz.
The substitution of ZEDS for zees completely loses the wheezing of "Catch some zeeeeeeees"; BLOKES for "guys" disrupts the poetry of wise guys; "Conga Line" falls off the tongue as if one word, whereas CONGA QUEUE sounds like an auto part.
And don't get me started on substituting LORRY for "truck" - TRUCKIN' is the whole point of the expression!

Yeah, I get it - words Brits use. Put into these expressions, they became car alarms. I couldn't get past the pain to my ears to even notice the construction.

dk, you must see the film, "Crumb" - phenomenal!

ArtLvr 9:08 AM  

@ Rex -- I enjoyed your tale of discovering the book's autograph too... I had a similar surprise when I gave a book to a politico cousin one Christmas, a neat out-of-print memoir by a White House speech-writer he appreciated, and he found it was signed! I hadn't even reealized that, but was delighted for him -- It made a more special gift!


joho 9:20 AM  

@rex ... fantastic write-up today. Loved the Carver story.

I also loved this puzzle. Very fresh and different. Lots of new words and phrases, including the theme answers.

@nanpilla ... I, too, was looking for that "F."

As for "West Side Story," I remember my father whispering to my mother at the dying scene with Richard Beymer at the end, "At least he could have hummed." I'll never forget that.

Hey, Corey: thanks!

foodie 9:23 AM  

I had exactly the same experience as Mac... And I too didn't know what Friday was referring to, tried all kinds of 3 letter words in that spot- PAL, GAL, DOG... and OPT OUT took a long time coming. Otherwise, I thought it was enjoyable. One nit: Too many "UP"s-- MIX IT UP, JACK UP, UPEND...

Rex, I too love that Carver story! The joy of unexpected discovery! My mother-in-law discovered a signed, original painting of the Louisiana Purchase that someone had turned over and made into a coffee table that she bought at a flea market! Then she saw a small copy of that painting at the Cabildo museum in New Orleans!

retired_chemist 9:26 AM  

A nice puzzle. Not stellar IMO but good. Actually I think I have been downgrading this week’s puzzles unfairly because I was so blown away by last Friday’s Manny Nosowsky puzzle - a hard act to follow. I got the theme from 46A WISE BLOKES and that was useful in completing the other three theme answers.

Didn’t like the clue for 42A ELUTE. The term is largely specific to a procedure called chromatography. Chemists (this chemist anyway) would not use the word to describe a solvent extraction, which is a different and common lab operation in itself. However, I got it, and can only think of technically correct but (to others) arcane alternatives anyway. So, no harm no foul.

Failed to check 22D, which I had as RRA from having UAR for24A. Wrong wrong wrong. UAR involved only Egypt and Syria.

Enjoyed 15A ODE ON. Started with ODE TO (did you?) but fixed it when IN DRAG (8D) required the ON. Noted from wikipedia that Keats’ "Odes on…:" were on inanimate objects or abstract concepts and "Odes to…:" were to people. Absolutely correct and precise use of the language – but how many of us all thought it was “Ode TO a Grecian Urn? (meekly raises his hand again here…)

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:46 AM  

I want to see a picture of the framed Ali signature!

As for the puzzle: cute. FWIW, I already did this gimmick a couple years ago for Time Out. And I too thought LORRY was a bit odd especially when you could have gone FLAT, TUBE and LIFT for much more obvious Britishisms (like I did). Whatever. I liked it. Well constructed. Nice extra effort letters that didn't feel forced. Approved.

foodie 9:47 AM  

@retired chemist, I had similar thoughts about ELUTE. To me, elute implies that the substance being eluted as been adsorbed or separated and is now being extracted. However, the eluant (a good crossword, no?) is indeed a solvent and so elution is a subtype of extraction.

And yes, ODE TO was my first attempt. When I looked at the puzzle after completion, I kept seeing Odeon, like the theater, and wondering why I did not remember the clue for it...

badaud 9:57 AM  

Fun and cute, but not a wow. Gotta say I loved the crossing of "ODE ON" which looks like "ODEON" with "OD ON." Very clever.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Re Lt. Friday,
If you Google "Johnny Carson & Jack Webb Copper Clappers Sketch", you're in for a good laugh...
Cheers, Sally

slypett 10:02 AM  

I was uncomfortable with the theme, because the resulting phrases didn't sound even like British English. I'll add a ditto to what fikink said about "truckin'".

The NE was a special version of heck for me today.

retired_chemist 10:14 AM  

@ foodie re ELUANT: nice.

Denise 10:19 AM  

When people were going crazy about Y2K, they were looking for computer language folks who knew COBOL and could go into the heart of the machine and explain to it that the years were no longer going to begin with "19--."

See "West Side Story"!!

I too loved the Carver story -- just bought a paperback of his, and I LOVED John Gardner -- have you read the book by his second (first?) wife -- kind of a nutty memoir. I forget the title. Weird. Really weird.

jeff in chicago 10:25 AM  

This was hard for me. The NE wouldn't let me in for a long time. "Thinking ALIKE" instead of ALOUD mucked up that area as well. Liked it a lot once I got through it (in an embarrasingly slow time). Conga QUEUE is my favorite.

@Rex: Did the radio station ever play the song? I'm guessing they may have since I was familiar with it and that must have been from radio play. (I can remember thinking as a child that the bands actually went to the radio station to play. D'oh!)

Y2K is a great example of bad media science coverage. All hype and no real threat. (Fear not the swine flu.)

The Music Box is a fantastic movie theater in Chicago. 800 seats. Old-style architecture. (From the MB web page: "The actual style is called "atmospheric". The dark blue, cove lit ceiling with "twinkling stars" and moving cloud formations suggests a night sky. The plaster ornamentation of the side walls, round towers, faux-marble loggia and ogee-arched organ chambers are, by Hollywood standards, reminiscent of the walls surrounding an Italian courtyard. Overall the effect is to make the patron feel that they are watching a film in an open air Palazzo.") They don't show first-run films, but focus on old films and foreign fare. (Upcoming: The Errol Flynn Series and "Musicals and Comedies of the Great Depression.") A couple years ago I stood in a huge line to see the restored "Metropolis." I did not get in. ...sigh...

Ulrich 10:25 AM  

@XMAN: "to a Brit" and"British" are tongue-in-cheek. The answers to the ? clues are meant (I think) to produce a laugh b/c of the incongruity--like when I say, in German, that something is kleine Kartoffeln, a literal translation of "small potatoes", to make my friends laugh.

Jeffrey 10:34 AM  

What a write-up! I've missed these Rexperience stories.

Frank Mills - a Canadian composer; saw him live in Montreal circa 1979.

Off course, nothing like this classic Canadian crossword answer I saw on TV this morning:

Rex Parker 10:42 AM  


Anka does Van Halen?! My ears! My adolescence! Oh, the humanity.


Rex Parker 10:44 AM  

O man, it gets worse:

Anka does Nirvanarp

slypett 10:46 AM  

@Ulrich: Yeah, I got that. I guess it's my sense of humor. Either it's different, or, I ain't got one.

fikink 10:48 AM  

@Ulrich, but what strikes me as charming about your insertion of literal German into an English phrase is the wonderful nuances of the underlying culture that precludes it and creates the hilarious, yet touching, disjuncture...truly mixing apples and oranges.

Here, oranges and tangerines are being combined making it - to my ear (and Xman's, I assume) - jarring without the charm (even if it makes for a successful crossword puzzle).

retired_chemist 10:58 AM  

@ Denise and Jeff in Chicago -

Ugh to Y2K memories. We had a new IT Director (Dorkector?)that year and HE was going to please the higher-ups. That meant TWICE WEEKLY reminders to everybody and demands for weekly reports on progress in fixing our computers. Of course the only ones that would possibly have non-trivial consequences were the business mainframes. But NOOOOOO.... EVERYBODY.

Neither he nor the rest of the Administration (Luddites all, the UT System and Regents included) understood the problem, but they were going to d**n sure make it look as if they were getting it fixed.

Thank you. I feel better now.

chefbea 11:11 AM  

Fun puzzle

@Rex thanks for music box dancer - love it. And great Carver story

I watched Dragnet religiously and the copper clapper sketch on Johnny Carson was hysterical

Yummmm eggs benedict with lots of hollandaise sauce

Norm 11:17 AM  

Count me as one who really liked this puzzle. Nice theme. Well executed.

edith b 11:18 AM  

It took me an embarrasingly long time to realize this was a simple word substitution puzzle, not a Brit expression subtitution one.

When he was young, my husband - God love him - used "hubba hubba" all the time - in reference to me, double God love him. It brought me a smile about our lost youth.

A rough patch at ELUTE as I needed every cross to get it.

jae 11:26 AM  

Fun and cute. Had ODETO and TUGS for little jerks but that was it. Entertaining write up Rex!

Shamik 11:27 AM  

Rex, great Carver story. How fun!

@chefbea: missed seeing you when I was looking for a fava bean recipe 'cause that's what came from the food co-op this week. Yes, they were good. No, didn't have them with liver or a nice chianti.

Not checking my crosses gave me two wrong letters. Silly me, otherwise enjoyable puzzle.

Rant ahead regarding Rex's "embarassing fact for the day." I, too, remember being young and having a superior attitude regarding adult beverages, books, movies, music, etc. How much happier life is when one can unreservedly enjoy what one enjoys without apology.

I can enjoy Beethoven, the "Hubba Hubba Song," Bergman films, "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," "Foucault's Pendulum," Steven King, Smithwick's and a wine cooler. I don't have to enjoy Mahler, Ionesco, Yoko Ono or Pabst's. And no apologies to anyone! The joy is that evolution continues.

Rant over.

edith b 11:31 AM  

I misspelled embarrassingly in my post. This is the school marm in me coming out.

hazel 11:38 AM  

Awesome puzzle and writeup. Like everyone else (yea! I'm in the majority!!) I loved the Raymond Carver story - that collection was the first (of now many many) book my husband ever gave me - so doubly sweet for me. Plus my rescue dog (who exudes happiness) is a corgi mix!

This puzzle was actually pretty hard for me, but I really really liked it - mostly the downs as I had a hard time with the theme fill - the only one that popped out was the ZEDs - everything else a struggle. I hung on to GAL Friday way too long....

mac 11:44 AM  

@Shamik: my favorite way to eat fava or broad beans is the Tuscan way, room temperature with shaved pecorino romano cheese, chopped mint, good olive oil and pepper.

Of course I thought 55A would be veils, although the plural puzzled me. Eliz. seems a little familiar for a queen, I had EReg.

Thanks for the explanation of Friday, all of you!

On to NY to see the Coen brothers' play "Offices" this evening.

Rex Parker 11:46 AM  


If you're going to rant, at least be accurate. If you can find the place where I "apologize" for anything, I will give you a dollar. "MBD" is an insipid song. If I still liked it, I would tell you so and anyone else so and I wouldn't care what you thought. See my love of Batman, "American Idol," "The Simpsons," etc.

All I said was that it is mildly embarrassing to me that as a young BOY I liked a silly song about a BALLERINA enough to call the radio station and request it. Why should that provoke a rant?

By the way, "I remember being young and having a superior attitude" is pretty superior-sounding.


Rex Parker 11:53 AM  

PS that comment made me sound more annoyed than I am. I just didn't understand the impetus for the self-described "rant" at all, Shamik.

No hard feelings.


bookmark 12:06 PM  

Since we've been talking about short stories today, I read that Alice Munro just won the Man Booker International Prize, given every two years to an outstanding contributor to world literature. She is one of my favorite writers---probably the best living short story writer. She has many collections and often writes for the New Yorker.

Michael Sullivan 12:10 PM  

This one brought up a pet peeve of mine: EUROS is not the correct plural for EURO. There is no "S" in the plural, when spelled correctly in English. Here is the official EU document on spelling of the singular and plural of "euro" in various languages. It takes an "s" in plurals of certain other languages, but for English this note makes clear that the omission of 's' is intentional: "This spelling without an 's' may be seen as departing from usual English practice for currencies."

Ellen 12:22 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike 12:31 PM  

Ack, there's another Mike in the building? Oh no! :)

For some reason, I breezed through this puzzle faster than I've done a Wednesday in a long time, which I know is weird given that I'm a) not British and b) that I didn't know any of the weird vocabulary, like ELUTE or COBOL. But I was just totally on the same wavelength, and since I do have a good number of British friends, I was able to intuit the theme entries.

LOVED the CATCH SOME ZEDS entry; I'm totally using that from now on. Some of the cluing/fill was a little weird, like for VIDEO and HUBBA, but nothing glaring or even that difficult to get. Also I really liked the OPT/OUT cross for some reason.

Greene 12:31 PM  

@EdithB: Ditto. I took way too long figuring out this was only a simple word substitution puzzle. Making the discovery of the true theme brought me little joy precisely because of what @fikink articulated above. The resulting phrases were neither whimsical nor mellifluous, but rather just grated on the ear. Maybe I'm just grumpy because it took me so long to finish this one. I thought it felt more like a Thursday.

@Dough: Sorry to report that Sondheim's upcoming Road Show, nee Bounce, nee Wise Guys, nee Gold, nee I don't know how many other titles, has already come and gone. Six weeks at the Public Theatre last November/December and out. Sad fate for a show that has been germinating over the last fifty years or so.

West Side Story is back on Broadway this season in an exciting new production helmed by librettist Arthur Laurents. Many of the Puerto Rican characters' lines and songs are now delivered in Spanish, including the entire "A Boy Like That/I Have a Love" sequence. I thought I would be distracted by the translations, but everything plays beautifully. The dancing is electric and the entire production is visually stunning. Greene says, "Go!"

Karen 12:35 PM  

Re Battlestar Galactica (geek alert!) there was the planet Kobol (pronounced the same as COBOL) that was the cradle of civilization (in both the first and second series). The thirteen tribes had to abandon it for unspecified reasons and settled Caprica et al, and the ragtag Fleet found clues in the quest for Earth there in both series. (In the recent series it was the planet with the nice trees and ruins where Baltar started getting the visions of the baby in the Opera House.)

I got stuck in the Wyoming section too, I had SINGAQUEUE because of singalongline...yeah, I'm not sure what I was thinking. So that made Friday a SGT. I eventually erased the whole mess and got it correctly. But the OPT/OUT clue was a bear.

Jet City Gambler 12:35 PM  

Ah yes, COBOL had only two digits in the date register, therefore the world was going to end when all our banking software would think it was suddenly 1900.

If you like the "This is Sportscenter" spots,
the Y2K episode
is pretty good. Charlie Steiner FTW!

Ulrich 12:39 PM  

@fikink: It's the oranges next to the tangerines that I meant by "incongruity" and that I find funny. But, as XMAN said, different people laugh about different things--at times.

@mac and shamik: I had this type of broad bean salad this Sunday at Pomaire on the West Side, and I totally concur with mac's judgment. (We had seen Schiller's Mary Stuart before, which wasn't nearly as good as some critics had made us believe).

Shamik 12:39 PM  

No hard feelings, Rex. Had a superior brother who I personally got tired of apologizing to many years ago. So I'm still cleansing my own inflated sense of superiority from time to time. Hits a nerve when anyone is embarassed by things they once liked and feel they've evolved from. Especially when I find one of those "embarassing" songs from my past and find I'm smiling and laughing now 'cause it's just plain Batman, Simpsons and Idol. actually LIKE Idol...just kidding! It's a fun thing. And one never knows when one's pop culture just becomes culture and/or history.

I'm just cranky 'cause of the economy and needing a job. 160+ applications, 100 no's. Maybe I just need a "Find Shari A Job" reality show where I go from place to place working for a week or two at whatever comes up.

Shamik 12:41 PM  

Shell the pods, parboil the beans and peel the skin. Set aside. Saute onion & garlic in olive oil, add chopped tomatoes and reduce. Add fava beans to warm through. Sprinkle with cayenne and nutmeg. Serve with mix of brown and wild rice.

Omit liver.
Chianti optional.

Three and out.

George NYC 12:55 PM  

Always nice to see John Steed. Where is Mrs. Peel?

Noam D. Elkies 12:55 PM  

I thought "catch some zeds" (unlike the cute "conga cue" etc.) is actually in use as a variant on "catch some Z's" — am I being barmy?

Thanks for the WSS clip. If these lyrics really are Sondheim's then he's remarkably self-restrained here; I guess the situation (and Bernstein's music!) is emotionally powerful enough that even hackneyed rhymes like only/lonely and sorrow/tomorrow — to say nothing of identity rhymes — are sufficient.


Greene 1:18 PM  

@NDE: The lyrics are indeed Sondheim's. Recall that he writes for specific situations and characters. The education level of the Anita character plays a role in the simplicity of the rhyming choices.

This is why Sondheim never misses a chance to publicly criticize his own lyrics for "I Feel Pretty" as being overly florid and purple. This is not language an uneducated Puerto Rican girl would use. He was encouraged by other members of the production team (especially Bernstein) to write that particularly showy lyric and once written, the team would not let go of it, no matter how much Sondheim complained.

Personally, I love his work in West Side Story. It eschews the brittle, intellectual intricacy of his later work for honest, heartfelt simplicity. Instead of tickling your cerebral cortex, it whallops you square in the solar plexus.

Anne 1:37 PM  

Good Lord. A Wednesday puzzle which required three googles, ended with one dumb mistake and took way too much time. I had to drop it twice and come back.

I decided to make my confessions before I read the comments.

Two Ponies 1:53 PM  

Ok Wed. puzzle with some odd clues.
Thinking ahead instead of aloud slowed me up a bit.
My dad used to turn up the car radio when Music Box came on and I liked it too. Around that same time I thought Red Lobster was haute cuisine!
Evolving without apologies.
I first saw Ali G while living in England and loved him. Some of his best work as that character never made it to the States.
@ Ellen Garrison, that it a pretty funny prank. I hope Rex's book isn't one of them.

Anne 1:56 PM  

After reading the comments and understanding the concept, I still don't like it. Like Fikink, I think the sound and rhythm were off. And I didn't get the humor. I will grant you that it was fresh and different. And to think I always thought that was a good thing.

Anne 2:08 PM  

@Wade - I'm behind in my reading and so I just read your comments from yesterday. Several years ago I was so angry with the NYT (their reporting) that I refused to buy it or read it. But I finally decided to let it go because I missed it so much. It worked for me. Maybe at some point that will work for you, too.

Susan 2:48 PM  

I didn't even think about thinking ahead. I was thinking alike and that was a problem, too, seeing as I wasn't thinking alike with the puzzle's creator.

Great Carver story, Rex.

PlantieBea 2:50 PM  

I dug a hole too deep to climb out of on this Wednesday puzzle that so many of you found easy. I couldn't let go of ODE TO, thought the dog was a CORSO (real breed), couldn't think of CONGA line because chorus was stuck in my brain, and I though that it was think ALIKE. I confess to a total crash in the upper center of a Wednesday puzzle. That hurts!!!

The blog chatter--especially the Carver story--was much better time spent than my solving experience today.

jau 2:51 PM  

Anne has my name and many of my thoughts. Weird to read what I could have written... Anyway, I love Brits in general and Britishisms as well. This could've been clever but was silly, instead ("lorryin'" just not cutting); eluve (VERY archaic) and exude side-by-side isn't cute, it's annoying and un-NYT; too many specific clues with general answers (e.g., pixels are many things' displays, not just iPhones' and euros are many countries' currency, not just French). But LOVELY story about the Carver signature!

fikink 2:53 PM  

@Ellen, that is funny; reminds me of discovering "lost" lyrics to "Desolation Row," or seminarians who would write papers on apocryphal relics.

@Ulrich, ah, I understand!

@greene, LORRY reminds me of a conversation we had about Sondheim's use of "lint" :-)
Glad you didn't like it either. What a way to remember Sondheim! I hope Corey is not remembered for this one.

Rex Parker 3:10 PM  

The internet is fast.

I got a nice write-up, based on today's post (!), at "Fine Books & Collections." See it here. Thanks, Brian.


HudsonHawk 3:41 PM  

The NE was tough for me. I had ...LORRING for too long, which made TEENIEST seem like FOGGIEST. Finally cut through the mistakes.

@Shamik, I loved the Hannibal Lecter reference. I'll have the Chianti. Agree about the liver.

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

@Rex - Your book story, and the link to Fine Books & Collections reminded me of what is one of the greatest oxymorons in the English language. I, for a while, aspired to be a book binder producing heirloom quality prints of books, and my research into bindery showed that the term for the binding in trade publications, the ones that fall apart in 10 years, is the perfect binding.

Perfect for whom?

Clark 4:10 PM  

I thought eggs benedict was made with canadian bacon not ham. I was so sure of this that I expected there to be an uproar, a go around, a real mix it up, in the comments today. Is this just a regionalism? (I did grow up near the Canadian border.)

John Hoffman 4:12 PM  

I agree w/ Rex that VIDEO for wedding memento is hard but fair.

My wonderful dad was always fussy about word use. He was sensitive about using Momento, for Memento. "Memento" coming from "Memory". some dictinaries show Momento, but refer the reader to Memento.

imsdave 4:35 PM  

First, I thought this was a well constructed puzzle.

Second, the theme answers didn't sing to me. It's clever, but I didn't get a big payoff from them.

Third, and I'll keep this brief.

@Jeff in Chicago, re: "Y2K is a great example of bad media science coverage. All hype and no real threat. (Fear not the swine flu.)"

You are 100% correct about the media. But the threat was real, and the problem was solved by a group of very hard working people working very long hours. That was the story the media should have covered. I found it very interesting that 1/1/2000 was presented as d-day by them. Working for a commercial insurance company where most of our policies are written for a one year term, the real d-day was 1/1/1999. Wouldn't you like to have coverage that was effective on that date, but expired 1/1/1900?

@r_c re: "Of course the only ones that would possibly have non-trivial consequences were the business mainframes."

In 1994, 80% of all of the computer code in existance was in COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language). Oh, and I'm an IT director and to the best of my knowledge, not a Luddite.

Sorry all, but I lived it, and it wasn't fun or funny. (Okay, not so brief).

PlantieBea 4:48 PM  

@chef bea and clark--If I hadn't been so dismayed about other parts of the puzzle, I would have commented on eggs B and ham, too. I thought eggs B was made with Canadian Bacon which I suppose is a kind of cured pork, or ham. When I got to this clue, the three letter word,the only three letter ingredient I could think of in actually, was EGG. That's how bad my puzzle day was.

retired_chemist 5:24 PM  

@ imsdave - I have written you privately re Y2K.

foodie 5:34 PM  

Rex, I think the write up about your blog today is delightful!

@Shamik, re your fava beans, here's a slight modification:

Shell the pods, parboil the beans and peel the skin. Set aside. Saute garlic in olive oil. Add crushed cilantro to the oil and cook longer. Add fava beans and cook until no longer crunchy. Eat like a salad at room temperature... Can add lemon if you like.. Good with bread.

Two Ponies 5:39 PM  

@ imsdave, Thanks for sharing. I used to program in Cobol and I'm certain that task did take much time and effort.
It seems ridiculous now but back them we used punch cards.
Boxes and boxes of them.

George NYC 5:52 PM  

Maybe Y2K and swine flu didn't turn out to be big deals is BECAUSE the media made a big deal out of them..

Bob Kerfuffle 5:56 PM  

I worked this puzzle generally south to north, and Minnesota gave me the most trouble, for two reasons. First, working bottom up, the AG at the end of 8 D seemed like RAGTAG for a long time before INDRAG came into view. Second, 4A, Cattle-herding breed, is CORGI??? Well, must be so, but I always pictured corgis, if at all, as lap dogs for the Queen. Trying to envision them herding cattle is quite a stretch for me. (Or is this entry part of the theme?)

Clark 5:59 PM  

@chefbea and PlantieBea -- One summer I was home from college, as was my older sister, and my younger sisters were still living at home. It was the last summer we were all together in one place. And for some reason we made that the summer of eggs benedict. We made them as a midnight snack -- over and over again. We worked at perfecting every step of the process, experimenting with getting the Hollandaise sauce just right, browning the Canadian bacon just so. My dad would join us sitting at his end of the big kitchen table, talking and laughing as we cooked. Good memories! Ah food!

I too could only think of EGG as an ingredient. But getting the H and M in crosses made it pretty obvious. Like getting FIVE when the clue is 2 + 2 and you have F_VE from crosses. :)

imsdave 6:04 PM  

Open letter to all - r_c and I misunderstood each other - how odd is that in electronic communication?

All is well - thanks for the email r_c

Leon 6:35 PM  

Mr. Rubin:
Good show! Jolly good show!
Hadn’t the foggiest idea when I started.
Abso-bloody-lutely a good one, mate.

Charles Bogle 6:36 PM  



I'm w @fikink and @XMAN, not caring for this puzzle, though likely for different reasons. I couldn't get off the dime and tossed it aside after fifteen agonizing minutes.

Great fun I'm sure for Anglophiles. The only thing missing was REES.

Feeling incredibly inferior, probably rightly so, I turned to the LA Times and delightfully completed its fun puzzle today

Then, to prove to myself that I shouldn't give up even though the NYT puzzle today looked like a grid of Greek, I knocked off the Newsday puzzle. I bet that's probably heresy, but I did it, I admit it and I had a bit of fun. Didn't need no "lorryin" !

chefbea 6:53 PM  

@charles Bogle is there a blob for the news day puzzle?

PuzzleGirl 7:02 PM  

Late to the party today, but the write-up and the comments have been very entertaining today!

Raising my hand for ODE TO.

@nanpilla: LOL at B FRET.

@Ellen Garrison: I know you were simply relating that story and not endorsing it, but, my God! That is So Wrong!! On the other hand, when I worked at a bookstore in New York, Stephen King used to come in randomly and take his books off the shelf to sign them with no fanfare at all. Needless to say, strange dude.

@Jet City Gambler: Thanks for sending me to the ESPN ads on YouTube. I spent most of the afternoon there.

Oh, and here's the Johnny Carson/Jack Webb clip. I don't care who ya are — that's funny!

My favorite kids' show (iCarly) had a riff about Canadian bacon in one episode. Carly's brother Spencer had some Canadian bacon sent to him and he was super, super excited about trying this new thing. So, he tries it and (he's kind of Jim-Carrey-esque, so picture that) he's all "It's HAM! That's all it is — HAM!"

Cool Carver story and even cooler that Brian passed it on!

'Nuff outta me today.

hazel 7:42 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - Bite your tounge. You have officially offended my dog (who is actually named hazel). She is a Corgi mix and herds me, for lack of anything/one better, all of the time. I know that probably means I'm not authorative enough - but who cares. She nips at my heels trying to herd me to her food bowl (corgis are notorious chow hounds) or for her outdoor walk or for just general purposes. Its really adorable. They're total herders though. And mine couldn't fit in my lap if she had to - she is a mix, but she's mostly corgi and not tiny.

slypett 7:45 PM  

@puzzle girl: If you're still reading, the Carson/Webb skit was a riot. I laughed out loud and I'm still smiling. Thanks.

Jaquelin 7:46 PM  

12D: direct conclusion = ORY??
why is no one explaining this?

Glitch 7:50 PM  

Even later to the party today:

Y2K: Most of the COBOL code was written in the '70's (give or take) by programmers (like me) who never expected the programs to last 30 some years. So, we only used the last 2 digits of the year.

Media hype made it more of an issue (end of the world as we know it) than the actual risk --- but I made a lot of $$ in the fall of '99 generally certifying the world won't end, at least due to their application.

My fav part was the IT guy who was worried about his calendar watch, he paid me xtra to check it. It was guys like him that escalated a real concern into a potential crisis.

(Media: the folks who give you team coverage of the snowstorm that didn't develop - "Not snowing here Bill, how's it over there Susan?")


chefbea 7:56 PM  

@jaquelin Direct-ory = directory= the end of directory

retired_chemist 7:58 PM  

@ Jacquelin - directORY

Glitch 8:05 PM  

...and on the lighter side:

@Mike 12:10

I think I get it, in american english, euros = sheeps?

@Anon 9:50 (Sally) & others:

It was Sgt. Friday for most of the series, a subplot being his partner tring to pass the sgt's exam to gain equal raik.

Near the end of the series, (last episode?) partner finally passes exam, and announcing to Friday, we learn Friday has made Lieutenant.

Closing credits were over a Sgt's badge, but after that episode, it was changed to Lt's badge.


joho 8:10 PM  

@hazel ... seriously, it's hard to spot the Corgis in my neighborhood for all the dust kicked up by the cattle.

hazel 9:18 PM  

@Joho - where is your tongue? If its in your cheek, you need to be biting it too!

I've reached my comment limit so there better not be any more disparaging remarks about corgis. Corgi lovers have long memories!

Stan 9:38 PM  

Seems that I'm virtually alone in thinking that "Keep on lorryin'" (and "Conga queue") are hilariously funny. Funny does not mean 'in the language' or 'something that a British person might actually say' -- it's just the opposite. Ooops, I tried to explain a joke, always a bad idea.

Good puzzle, Corey!

Stan 10:02 PM  

PS -- Corgis (and their mixes) rock! If you've never known one, you've missed out.

fergus 10:29 PM  

ELIZ 2 loves her CORGIS ... but I tend to frown on any but the finest revelations about 'two countries separated by a common language.'

As an immigrant product of British parents, and having worked for a few years in London I'm usually fairly confident about translating English to American (or Canadian, Kiwi ...) and vice-versa, I tend to bristle at attempts to adopt the slang. One shuddering example was an American naming a price of 5 quids. So, I didn't like the puzzle for my own personal trans-Atlantic reasons.

Marge Simpson admitted once that she never understood the Keep on Truckin' phrase, and I'm sure her gravelly voice would register dismay at LORRYIN'. But curiously enough, that entry was such outlandish crap that I kinda liked it.

mac 11:23 PM  

@Rex: this was one stellar blog day! You were recognized not only by your Faithful Followers, but by a book site! Congratulations.

Foodies, not just you but all of you. This was a good food day. I do have a few comments. I have always felt peeling the fava/broad beans is a waste of time and veg. I love the slightly bitter taste of the skin! To all your recipes, add a little fresh savory, easily grown in a pot or herb garden.

About Eggs or Oeufs Benedict(ine): I don't have a big problem with Canadian bacon, but could they please skin it and slice it a little thinner? It's tough. I would (and the French chefs would) prefer a small folded piece of thinly sliced Madrange ham. Or better yet, forget the ham, do the Florentine version. I've been known to have spinach for lunch AND dinner some days.....
Another improvement: instead of a muffin half, make a potato pancake.

Lisa in Kingston 11:27 PM  

I remember Keep on Truckin' from an older graduating class in my high school. The annual for the year was illustrated with a knock off of Crumb's drawing of the elbow-flapping strutting dude.
This puzzle had me flummoxed center-top: I knew it had to be corgi, but go round and in drag were totally obstinate.

Two Ponies 11:41 PM  

@ mac and all, I agree that it's been a great day at the blog!
Your suggestions to improve the usual Eggs B. are excellent.
Corgis, recipes (I love beans but refuse ones that must be peeled), signed books (or maybe not), and the world not ending at Y2K. Wow.

fergus 1:25 AM  

... and it would be even greater if ACME reported from Golders Green, to offer further refinements on language and usage.

andrea in drag michaels 4:25 AM  

Thanks, Fergus, but got to the party way too late...once it's become a recipe swap, we know I'm out! ;)

As for language and usage, I think I learned on this blog that you can remember how to spell "embarrassing" with 2 r's, 2 s's, bec it's just double, too (two) much of everything.

I have a hundred inscription stories...loved the Raymond Carver one...

hmmm, may I share my most recent one?
A few years ago (before his senate run) Al Franken's book-signing line was so long at Costco (was almost arrested for not being a member but that's a different story)
that they had us fill out yellow stickies so he'd know how to inscribe without misspelling and to keep the line moving.

I scribbled down the names/years of both my highschool and college, as he and I share both a few years apart and I thought it would at least get him to look up and we could share a moment...

When it came my turn, I handed him my cel phone as I called a mutual favorite teacher of ours who had inspired him to go into politics (Rod Anderson). They chatted for about 20 minutes while Franken's handlers freaked out...
I was brusquely handed back the phone and my book with not a word exchanged (like who I was, why I had Rod Anderson on the phone, etc.)
When I opened my book, "Lies And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" I saw Franken had inscribed it,
"To Andrea,
Blake '76
Harvard '80
Al Franken

I hope he becomes president!

Andrea Carla Mixitup 4:40 AM  

re: puzzle
Started out shaky...first entries were AMTOO, ORY and OSE, followed by TDS, MUS and thought, "I'm gonna hate this puzzle"...

But then I got the CATCHSOMEZEDS and fell in love!
The fact that it was F-short of a pangram was great...and how can you not love INDRAG, MUSICBOX, and JACKUP (once I fixed MARKUP)

and I was ACE (54A) long before I was ACME.

Haven't seen BEQ's version, but I felt this was terribly original...
Loved the bonus CORGI and ELIZ.

I'm with you, Loved the OPT/OUT but couldn't quite put my finger on why!
(One letter internal shift that made it so wildly different, yet together forms a phrase? Yeah, that's why!)

saphir 5:52 PM  

(I'm usually a couple weeks behind in doing the puzzles, which is why I'm just reading/commenting on this now.)

This'll sound strange, but it's entirely possible, in fact highly likely, that the Pat Wilcox that the book was inscribed to was the mother of a friend of mine (Adam Wilcox). She was a poet, and founder of Iris Press in Binghamton. Adam is a published poet as well. I'm gonna forward a link to this entry to him; I think he'll appreciate that the book is in the hands of someone who cares about it.

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