MONDAY, Jun. 29 2009 — Yeller in Yale Bowl / Bravura performances / Old Pontiac muscle cars /

Monday, June 29, 2009

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Good / Better / Best — three 15-letter theme answers begin with those words, respectively

Word of the Day: MOTT the Hoople (46A: Rock's _____ the Hoople)Mott the Hoople were a 1970s English rock band with strong R&B roots and dominant in the glam rock era of the early to mid 1970s. They are popularly known for the song "All the Young Dudes", written for them by David Bowie and appearing on their 1972 album of the same name.

[Awesome look for the back-up singers]

A breezy Monday. Thought I was going to break 3 minutes, but dang, there are a lot of white squares. A very open grid for a Monday puzzle (only 32 black squares — compare to 40+ in a few recent puzzles). East and west felt particularly open, with their triple sixes helping the puzzle to avoid the normal 3x4 and 4x4 drudgery of the common early-week grid (filled with some very cool words and phrases). Didn't see the theme 'til the end, when I changed WELL to BEST in BEST KEPT SECRETS (wife made same initial error, as did, I'm betting, a lot of people). I think I am going to be forever limited in my quest for faster times by really terrible typing skills. I type very fast and very sloppily, thus defeating the purpose of being very fast. I would try to slow down, but, you know, OLD HABITS (4D: Things that die hard) ...

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Seven or eight hours, typically (GOOD night's sleep)
  • 35A: Inventor's goal (BETTER mousetrap)
  • 52A: They rarely see the light of day (BEST kept secrets) — this one threw me (slightly) both because of the WELL/BEST issue, and because I was sure the figure of speech "see the light of day" was going to be literal ... so, you know, maybe something to do with BATS or MOLES or VAMPIRES or I don't know what. But no — figure of speech was a figure of speech. Fancy that.
Love the drunkenness subtheme of SIP (54D: Not guzzle) crossing both [Martini garnish] (OLIVE) and TIPSY (59A: A little drunk). SIP implies a kind of moderation, but I'm pretty sure you can SIP your way to SOUSE-hood (16A: Drunkard). I hesitated at several places in the grid — another impediment to time improvement. Balked at LOLL (42A: Do nothing and like it) — considered LAZE — and then at ETYPES (26D: Classic Jaguars), which I can never remember. The intersecting colloquial expressions didn't come to me immediately either, though I like them both: "NOT BAD!" (27A: "Hey, way to go!") / "NO BUTS!" (27D: "Forget the excuses!"). Those clues are playing Good Soccer Dad / Bad Soccer Dad. Favorite words / phrases of the day were LOW KEY (42D: Hardly ostentatious), TB TEST (29D: Diagnostic that entails sticking the forearm with a needle), and ON THE SLY (20A: Furtively).

  • 38A: 180-degree turns, in slang (uies) — none of the UIE v. UEY confusion today, as I had the back end before I saw the clue.
  • 46D: Flat-topped Southwestern hills (mesas) — I mean this more as observation that complaint, but there seemed to be a Lot of plurals in the puzzle. Three times answers intersect at a terminal plural "S" (and twice more at a terminal "S" where one of the words involved isn't plural, i.e. PRIUS, KRIS, and OILS (clued as a verb). I thought constructors avoided plurals in that position if possible.
  • 34D: Bravura performances (star turns) — should have included this in answers I love. Got it off the initial "S," which I also love.
  • 48D: Old Pontiac muscle cars (GTOs) — wrote in GTEN, for some reason.
  • 50D: Decorative needle case (Etui) — venerable!
  • 53D: Yeller in the Yale Bowl (Eli) — venerabler!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


dk 7:57 AM  

Just a Monday puzzle. However, Mott the Hoople made my AM.

My Hoople story:

Back in the day... I was watching a movie on TV with the sound off. I had created a six hour tape (ahh reel to reel). The TV movie was 10,000 Bedrooms and just as Dean Martin is sending the new gigolo off -- on comes All the Young Dudes. An oh wooowwwww man moment in the history of acid drenched and smoke filled dorm rooms. My ROOMIE for some reason had moved out. The alleged reason was the smell of the developer from the drying 8x10s I would hang over my bed. Go figure.

See Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore for a MTH soundtrack.

Oops rambling.

Jeffrey 8:00 AM  


That is all.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

Can someone explain the 'Bravura performances' clue?

PIX 8:24 AM  

@28D:("OREIDA") Professor Google says:"The company's name is a portmanteau of Oregon and Idaho." Who knew? Who cared?

Leon 8:28 AM  

Thanks Ms. Gamache.

MOTT book cover.

Egbert SOUSE (accent grave on the "e") in The Bank Dick.

Cut to 5:27 for "Was I in here last night, and did I spend a $20 bill?"

fikink 8:36 AM  

Hey, Pix, I care - thought OREIDA was an Indian tribe. ('Course, also thought MOTT was applesauce, singular.)

Patch 9:08 AM  

I also had "well" kept secrets. Fun, fast Monday!

Glitch 9:22 AM  


Good story, but I began to lose you around the "Back in the day..." part ;)


(Been there, done that, still have the t-shirt somewhere)

PuzzleGirl 9:26 AM  

What a great puzzle. Paula is definitely one of the very best. This was just smooth smooth smooth from start to finish. Would have been fun to see KRIS Allen in the grid, but KRIS Kristofferson is awesome too. *ducking*

treedweller 9:30 AM  

Rex's choice of photos leads me to wonder if someday we will see U-turn with an alt. sp. EWEY. Or maybe it will be clued as "like a type of urn."

Unknown 9:32 AM  

Paula Gamache is one of those rare constructors with a gift for smooth Monday puzzles and a knack for smooth Saturday puzzles. Loved this one!

foodie 9:33 AM  

Very smooth, classic Monday puzzle.

I forgot how to spell LOWLY, so I had LOWLEY in lieu of LOWKEY and wanted BEST LAID PLANS to fit...

I liked NO BUTS. When my son was at that literal age (~5 years old) he heard President Reagan on TV saying in his usual slangy way: "No more ifs, ands or buts!" and asked me worriedly: "Are we supposed not to use these words any more? It's going to be hard to talk!"

Rex, I agree about the back-up singers!

chefbea 9:45 AM  

I found this to be a bit more difficult than the usual Monday puzzle. Never got the theme til I came here.
Didn't understand star turns either.

Glitch 10:11 AM  

To whom it may concern:

Bravura n. Music. Brilliant technique or style in performance. A piece or passage that emphasizes a performer's virtuosity.

Often this is demonstrated by the "star" of performance, when given the chance --- or the "Star's Turn" to show off.

In reviews, it's often referred to as "... took a star turn".

See also "Show Stopper"


joho 10:16 AM  

Great Monday puzzle thanks to Ms. Gamache.

I got the theme quickly and filled in BEST before I read the clue for 52A.

Paula and ACME rock Mondays!

I wish I were able to LOLL today.

archaeoprof 10:22 AM  

Y'all can keep Mott the Hoople.

I'll take Hank Jr: 4D "things that die hard" = OLD HABITS.

Crossworld needs more country music. Thanks, Paula!

slypett 10:37 AM  

Things that threw me were a) I thought PREEMIE was spelled with one e; b) that 27a was sarcastic, so had TOOBAD and c) had PLAIN for RANGE.

So, a Monday with a little hint of bacon. Fun.

jeff in chicago 10:42 AM  

Big Mott the Hoople fan. The lead singer, Ian Hunter, also had a great solo career. Possibly best know for "Cleveland Rocks," which was used as the theme for "The Drew Carey Show," he also wrote "Ships," which became a hit for, of all people, Barry Manilow.

We walked to the sea, just my father and me
And the dogs played around on the sand.
Winter cold cut the air, hanging still everywhere
Dressed in gray did he say hold my hand?
I said love's easier when it's far away
We sat and watched the distant lights.

We're two ships that pass in the night
And we smile when we say it's alright.
We're still here, it's just that we're out of sight
Like those ships that pass in the night.

Great song...

Jim in Chicago 10:56 AM  

Nice easy Monday, but I still don't see how anyone can physically read the clues and write the answers in three minutes.

I breezed right through while drinking my coffee, and just the routine of finding/reading the clue and then writing the answers took me probably 8 minutes. I don't think I can do it any faster.

Ryan Dunn 11:18 AM  

@Jim In Chicago

i agree, the 3 minute thing is a joke. i think we need to see a live webcam of rex doing a puzzle, split-screen with the actual computer screen.



Doug 11:41 AM  

@Jim/Ryan: I read an interview with Tyler Hinman on his prep advice for xword tournaments and he said he goes through a stack of medium-level xword books and fills them in to get into a groove. I think speed solving is a good mix of skill along with all that knowledge. It's been said here before but Wordplay shows TH doing a Monday in 2 minutes.

I could be a speed solver if it weren't for all the ducking I have to do because of our 4 boys....okay, it's a lame excuse.

retired_chemist 11:44 AM  

@ Jim in Chicago/Ryan/Doug - I am with you. If one or more of the speed solvers would share the secret(s) of speed I would willingly give up OLD HABITS. Unless it means learning to type efficiently. That might be beyond me.

An interesting puzzle that took me more time than usual for Monday. Enjoyed the theme although it was of limited help in solving. Stuff like TOPER for SOUSE (16A), TSK instead of TUT (21A), TBAR for SKIS (61A), and UEYS for UIES (38A) needed fixing. That took time. MOTT THE HOOPLE was almost a Natick with STAR TURNS, but the T was about all that made sense at the cross, so I got it.

Lots of gimmes. Would have liked a few “?” clues for a lagniappe. Just a preference, not a criticism.

Charles Bogle 11:53 AM  

Three cheers for @leon, a fellow Fields fan! Also, @chefbea, I agree seemed a bit harder than usual Monday-

But agree w all it was fun, clever, nicely-constructed by a terrific constructor

Liked interplay of KNOLLS and MESAS. No places for all these tipsy souses to be running around-

I looked four times at ONTHESLY before "getting it" (as three words, hello?)
And-Now I know what an ETUI is

Our favorite car is our PRIUS. Unfortunately, was in a rear-ender, front opened up and lo and behold we could see all the we know in part why it's so light.. Glad to say fully fixed

Very little if any "stock" fill or what I believe RP calls "spoor"--all-in-all great way to start the week

Jeffrey 11:53 AM  

Speed solving Rule 1 - Do at least 2000 puzzles a year. 3 minute Mondays will follow.

Speed solving Rule 2 - Ignore rule 1. Who cares about speed? Better to have a life.

It's too late for me. Maybe I can save someone else.

Ulrich 11:54 AM  

We had a discussion of speed solving here a while ago, and Tyler piped up, explaining that he has the eidetic ability to take in a clue with one glance and then read it in his mind while writing in the answer. In other words, clue-reading and answer-writing overlap for him.

I, on the other hand, couldn't write in the answers in 3 minutes even if I knew all of them before-hand, like when I have the filled-in grid before me. I actually did the test...

Ah, the puzzle--I liked it, too. Filled in BEST w/o reading the clue and then wondered what the answer could possibly be--couldn't guess it.

Clark 12:01 PM  

@chefbea -- from an article discussing leeks being “served proudly on their own. They shine in their star turn and command center of the plate when braised with mushrooms or served cordon bleu-style with cheese and ham.” ("All-Star Medley of Leeks,” On that same page there is a link to a recipe for Beet and Leek Salad with Peanut Dressing.

dk 12:04 PM  

@glitch, are you my son in disguise you both dis me hard in the same manner :):)

Going through t-shirts, etc. for Goodwill and I am keepin the Patti Smith "Cult Figure" shirt over the protest of lovely, younger wife. Kids these days!

mac 12:20 PM  

Sleek puzzle, especially for a Monday. The triple 6's Rex mentioned made this one shine. Just an overall very professional piece of work.

A good thing I got the car models through the crosses, as well as Mr. Mott.

@Foodey: I contemplated lowley as well...

@PIX: I knew. I lived in Boise for two years and husband worked for the company.

Karen 12:28 PM  

I would have rated this as medium or even medium-hard for Monday. Several answers I didn't know easily, like ETYPES and MOTT. I love the word KNOLL but couldn't get it just off the K. Several odd consonant conglomerations.

I'm another happy PRIUS owner. 107K miles and counting.

Campesite 12:44 PM  

Lovely Monday puzzle from Paula Gamache.

retired_chemist 12:46 PM  

@ Crosscan - I knew I could count on you!

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

Crosscan. Very good - I agree. Peronally I never saw the need to "speed solve". I love just solving at a leasurely pace. Similar to how I drink a beer, I dont chug them, I enjoy them.

Stan 12:51 PM  

A nice Monday. Simple theme with surprisingly fun interconnections in the fill (could a STAR TURN be taken by an EROTIC GENIUS?)

Where oh where is my Ramones "Rocket to Russia" tee-shirt? Gone, I'm afraid.

Daniel Myers 1:03 PM  

I agree w/ the slow and savoury lot here - what is it with this Yank obsession w/ speed, especially if it's something you enjoy?!

Granted, I finished this Monday puzzle in a quick ten minutes or so. But first I (Quel Horreur!) printed it out, LOLLed on my recliner with a ballpoint pen and took a SIP of coffee.

chefbea 1:16 PM  

@clark... thanks for the cooking light link. I have already printed out the aforementioned recipe. I think other B&L lovers will do the same. I will make it when I return from North Carolina.

PuzzleGirl 2:10 PM  

I just want to mention that I've never seen a speed solver comment about not understanding why anyone would want to solve a puzzle slowly. For crying out loud, we all have our personal preferences when it comes to solving. I wouldn't dream of telling someone their way doesn't make sense just because *I* don't enjoy it.

Rex Parker 2:26 PM  

I just deleted a comment for condescending rudeness of a personal nature (not directed at me). I've had it with mean-spirited bullshit. Find somewhere else to take it, because it's not welcome here. Back to the puzzle, and disagreeing with each other civilly, without acting like a total git. And please, no metacomments on this issue, as those get tedious quick(ly).


Daniel Myers 2:38 PM  

@All--Cheers then, it's been fun while it lasted. In my defence, I don't think I said anything that would cause offence. View question time in the HC on C-Span sometime for true gittishness. But, different blogs for different senses of drollery. Apologies to puzzlegirl, Rex and all else who were offended.


edith b 2:48 PM  

For once, I solved from North to South and was able to see the theme as it developed. I managed to avoid the trap at 52A as a result and didn't fall for WELL . . .

I guess there is something to be said for starting at 1A after all.

bluebell 3:00 PM  

Being from the left coast, I got OreIda easily, a welcome sop to those like me who regularly miss the geography of NYC questions.

Being an English major, I did good, better, best without thinking.

A good Monday.

andrui carley michaelie 3:03 PM  

great puzzle...
as I am theme theme theme by the time I saw GOOD BETTER I automatically wrote in BEST and awaited, secretly hoping it would be BESTLITTLEWHOREHOUSE or something in your face.

Besides the drunken subtheme, there was the IE one: PREEMIE, ROOMIE and the ugly UIE.
I wrote in MOUSEY for LOWKEY, which was a malapop for MOUSETRAP later, but half-expected it to be MOUSIE. And TIPSIE!

so ironic that today you typo-ed foodie's name!!

Come to think of it, it MUST be intentional, bec there is also SUEY, ETUI...

I think there are too many not to be planned. Otherwise, I don't think she would go for a corner with both ETUI and SSTS.

SO, as if GOOD BETTER BEST weren't enough, Paula had IE, EY, UI, in abundance. (But I'm just guessing.)

As for Tyler, I can attest to his skills not just in crosswords.
We sat in the park Saturday and he was doing puzzles while talking, listening to my stories, girl-watching, avoiding being hit by a soccer ball, etc.

Then I had the "crazie" idea of challenging him to Sudoku.

To level the playing field, I had him do a five star while I did a 3.
By the 8th puzzle, I was down to doing a ONE star while he did a 4 and I STILL couldn't beat him!!!!
Very humbling experience...

jau 3:05 PM  

Liked the Monday ability to start at 1A and work down to 61A without much sticking. But I really hate answers like UIES - even with "in slang" appended - mostly because it ruins my personal speed challenge since I have to stare at U-I-E-S and be convinced I'm wrong about one of thoseletters, for way too long. Oh well. And I agree, too many three-letter words and plurals but not bad for a strain-free Monday.

Orange 3:18 PM  

I don't see the appeal of chugging a multitude of beers (well...not any more, but in college, sure), but I can't help being a speed solver. It's just how I'm wired. Even doing a puzzle untimed, it's not going to take very long. (Swear to god, I ain't boasting. Just stating the facts.) "I can stop any time I want" doesn't apply. It's like, "Hey, Kobe Bryant, why don't you chill out and miss more baskets?" When he shoots the ball in the direct of the basket, he's simply got good odds of sinking it. And I'll bet his crossword skills are way better than my basketball skills.

I'm rambling. If only I had some ACMEesque anecdotes to throw in here.

chefwen 3:37 PM  

Easy breezy Monday, only wite out was over the IU in GENIUSES, apparently i'm no GENIUS when it comes to spelling.

mac 3:38 PM  

@Orange: of course you can't help yourself. I think I am somewhere in the middle; I rush through most without even thinking about it, just the big Sunday ones I may put down to do something else for a while before picking it up again. Can you believe this subject comes up again and again and again?

@AndreaCarla: You're right, I did that on purpose... Foodie and I both wanted "lowley".

imsdave 3:58 PM  

I've been on a little roll on Fri./Sat. puzzles the last few weeks, solving several in the 10-15minute range. In the interest of reliable reporting I have to fess up.

Today's beautiful puzzle and I never hit it off and I strugled with it for well over 10. That said, I'd like to echo the praise for Ms. Gamache. Just excellent.

PlantieBea 3:59 PM  

Nice Monday puzzle. I also thought of LOWLEY. Like the image of mustangs on the range, or better yet the cool idea of SKIS and ICE AGE after another day in the scrub.

I don't time myself, but I know I'm in the PRIUS solving lane and not the E TYPE speed solving lane--too many distractions and no calling to go faster.

fikink 4:36 PM  

ETUI, Brute?
Once again, I also had MOUSIE, at first!
(We do this all the time!)

fergus 4:39 PM  

Ms. Gamache's construction finesse was well displayed today.

RET/RTD and DUI/DWI show that abbreviations should be avoided when initially filling in.

Since I just spent the weekend training to teach students how to outwit the GRE, I'm feeling much like Orange must have felt when she wrote the book on solving the NYT puzzle. Lots of little tricks to memorize, but nothing works as well as having a strong vocabulary.

joho 5:23 PM  

@edith b ... I thought that's funny how you enjoyed starting a 1A today. I always start there but oftentimes don't fill in a thing until much later, depending on the day of the week. Nothing like a tough Friday when my first letters are entered at 59A!

Anne 5:27 PM  

Have never heard of Mott or star turn that I remember.

And if I EVER finish any puzzle in three minutes, I will brag about for weeks on end, because believe me, I want to but I simply can't. Also I'm happy for the ones who can.

fergus 5:35 PM  

I doubt there is anything further to say about the speed/savour issue, except to give it an exact definition. (Acme?) If some data-miner were to check it out, it's probably the most featured subject in the history of Rex's blog. (I know, since since I've been chirping for two years now.)

It doesn't matter; I'm ambivalent -- competitive some days and deliberative on others; phenomenal skills should be recognized; and a reminder that the puzzle is a form of 'divertissement' and ought never to foster dispute about how to go about its solution.

Arguing over shaded meanings and curious Clue/ANSWER matching, theme or grid quality, and personal style of construction are the topics that are never going to tire.

edith b 5:39 PM  


The difficulty factor often prevents me from actually filling in 1A and, like you, the tough Fri/Sat puzzles often present the first answer in the South.

I guess it is not just "the luck of the draw" that early week puzzles have themes and late week one do not.

But I always look at 1A/1D first.

Glitch 6:08 PM  

As I've said before, I measure my "solving time" in cups of coffee, the unit value being 4 to 15 minutes (simultaneously watching the news the largest part of the variation).

Mondays tend to be one cupppers, Fri/Sat I can run out of coffee, news, or both, before I run out of puzzle. All on the dead tree version.

For kicks, went to on computer solving for a week. After adjusting the options, my chair, and keyboard, sped (speeded) my times down 50% to about what's passing for pretty good these days.

Downside was spilled coffee, caffine withdrawal, and feeling out of touch with world events.

Went back to paper/coffee/news, and come here to admire the atheletes that are "wired for speed", tip o' the cup to 'em!


PS: @dk - not your son, but Mom always liked you best. (Now where's that t-shirt with the coffee stains?

ArtLvr 6:59 PM  

@ Jeff in Chicago -- Thanks for the Father's Day poem about Ships in the Night. I Hope your roles in Henry V are coming along well?

You reminded me of Stewart, the scion of MOTT's Applesauce, who died just one year ago -- Last I'd heard he was living on a Chinese junk in New York harbor, among other abodes... While a bit of an eccentric, he was also enough of a Great Gadfly on various timely civil rights issues that he made the notorious Nixon's Enemies List. A top accolade!

Off to Michigan again shortly to loll and sail, but I'll be popping in here too. And thanks to Paula for the excellent GOOD-BETTER-BEST.


fergus 7:03 PM  

DK is probably the dad you would want to talk to when you had questions about sex and drugs.

Stan 7:16 PM  

I am probably the slowest solver who posts with any regularity on this blog. And I just don't get what the speed-solving discussion is about. To pick up Orange's metaphor, some people shoot hoops in the backyard, some are in the NBA or WNBA. Where's the problem?

Betsy the midwife 7:43 PM  

Nice for a Monday puzzle.
Mott the Hoople made my day.
Many a story from back in the day but..
Last week Ian played at Rockefeller Park in NYC for free. I got there just as he took the stage "Hallo, hallo, hallo." And then the sun came out after many days of ugliness and rain. No "Cleveland Rocks' but many other good ditties to make my day. Woohoo!!!

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

I would love to see a video of someone solving the puzzle in 3 minutes -- not because I don't believe it's possible but because it would be fun to see how it's done. Maybe it would even become popular on youtube.

For Mondays I'm usually in the 6-8 minute range and my personal best is 4:50.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:02 PM  

@twangster - Here is Tyler Hinman doing a Times puzzle in about the time it takes me to get comfortable in my chair.

PuzzleGirl 8:03 PM  

For anyone interested, here are a couple videos of speed solving.

Dan Feyer (on computer)

Tyler Hinman (on paper)

fergus 8:33 PM  

For what it's worth, my finest puzzle entertainment comes from a Friday or Saturday puzzle perfectly filled in, with nothing written over. Whether it takes 15 minutes or an hour and a half, I don't care that much. Both speed and langour have similar levels of satisfaction.

If I had to choose the perfect puzzle, it would be one I almost nailed yet still had a curious corner of mysterious combinations still to consider.

Glitch 8:40 PM  

@BobK & PG --- thnx

Your links should put an end to this round of "speed solving" disbeliefs, but there will be another, sure as my cup is now filled with a nice Merlot rather than morning coffee.

(Actually, it's a different cup)


John 9:08 PM  

Im sorry nobody mentioned the 1940 W.C.Fields movie, "The Bank Dick" Edgar SOUSE ( accent grave over the "E").

Oh BTY putting TUT TUT in for TSK TSK was VERY sneaky for a monday!

Anonymous 9:13 PM  

I originally had EXOTIC instead of EROTIC, which worked with 40-across because mustangs roamed across horse X-INGS (or so I thought). Ah well.

fergus 9:13 PM  

For sentimental Crossworld types, I received a nice note from the Green Mantis last night. Apparently it is not simply a seasonal insect migration to Mexico. Beach life has removed her from our association, but still a plaintive call for the occasional wry, furtive intellectual stimulation remains an attraction.

mac 9:20 PM  

@fergus: tell Green Mantis hello, we do miss her. I just saw some of these little creatures on TV last night (after Poirot), and apparently they are tameable. The may spend their entire life on ONE PLANT! Obviously our mantis is more adventurous.

Glitch 9:40 PM  

@John said


Take a look at Leon (8:28am)

even has a link

(sorry, pet peeve)


foodie 9:46 PM  

As a neuroscientist, I'm totally fascinated by the speed solvers! Of course we know that people differ on almost every dimension we can think of, and the example of eye-hand coordination in shooting baskets is one good instance. But this feels as if there are truly vast fundamental differences in processing speed between brains (even between the brain of very smart people). While it might seem like a specific skill akin to perfect pitch, it requires such integration of complex input (e.g. tangential or misleading clues) and output that it really is remarkable!

I wish I could image the brain circuits of a speed solver while solving (we need to first improve our ability to study fast dynamics of brain circuits) and I often wonder what the actual biological underpinning of this talent is.
But I would even settle for understanding its ramifications in real life. What else can you guys do that's amazing? This is so cool!

Sorry, I get carried away...

@mac & andrea, I like foodey as an alternate spelling : ). You should see what people do to my real name!

@fergus, please tell Green Mantis we miss her!

joho 10:14 PM  

@fergus... also send my good wishes to Green Mantis from me ... she was so nice and sharing when I first came to this blog.

3 & out.

joho 10:14 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 11:06 PM  

I'm a serious Paula Gamache fan!...and a fan of the blog (it's my first time commenting).

I agree with @fergus...I used to be serious about times, but lazing over a puzzle is just as satisfying.

Keep up the great work Rex and Commenters!

Bill from NJ 11:20 PM  


Green Mantis was one of the most unique voices on the blog and I miss her.

If you would, give her my regards.

fergus 11:35 PM  


Your fascination with respect to speeders is so congruent with mine. Tyler and Orange and Rex are outposts several standard deviations away from an admittedly already whacko mean.

Many sigmas considered.

Ryan Dunn 12:45 AM  

thank you for posting the links. now i am not only standing corrected, i am completely nerve wracked. man that's some intense puzzle filling.

i'll use the excuse that i prefer to fill out the puzzles lazily as well. seems as good an excuse as any, and doesn't force me to admit what we all know to be the case: a lack of knowledge mixed with a lack of experience mixed with a lack of time mixed with a lack of hand-eye coordination.

i do check this site every day since moving to NYC and taking up my newest fledgling hobby.

so thanks for the thorough daily updates.


chefbea 6:28 AM  

My regards to green mantis also if fergus reads this .

Richard 10:51 AM  

Is the Moot clue an error? (3 down) I understand "Moot" to mean that a debating point can be seen as not pertinent to a particular debate (the debate at hand) -- but may still be worth debating elsewhere. A point that is "moot" is not necessarily unworthy.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:53 AM  

@Richard - Thanks for the opening. I had been thinking of noting that "moot" is one of that class of words, the proper name for which escapes me at the moment, which can mean two completely opposite things, like "cleave", "sanction", etc. I only hesitated because some people will say that "moot" has taken on the meaning of not worth debating even tho the original meaning was of something which was a subject of discussion at a town meeting, etc.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:04 PM  

Her's part of what I found in Wikipedia when I googled "Contranym":

An auto-antonym (sometimes spelled autantonym), or contranym (originally spelled contronym), is a word with a homograph that is also an antonym. Variant names include antagonym, Janus word, enatiodrome, and self-antonym. It is a word with multiple meanings, one of which is defined as the reverse of one of its other meanings.

For example, the word "fast" can mean "moving quickly" as in "running fast," or it can mean "not moving" as in "stuck fast." To buckle can mean "to fasten" when used transitively or "to bend then break" intransitively. To weather can mean "to endure" (intransitive) or "to erode" (transitive). "Out" can mean both shining, as in "The stars are out tonight," or it can mean the opposite, as in "Please turn out the lights." Weedy can mean overgrown (the garden is weedy) or stunted (he is weedy). To overlook can mean "to inspect" or "to fail to notice". "Strike", in baseball terms, can mean "strike the ball" - "hitting the ball" or "Strike!" - "missing the ball". This phenomenon is also called "enantionymy" or "antilogy."

The terms "autantonym" and "contronym" were originally coined by Joseph T. Shipley in 1960 and Jack Herring in 1962, respectively. A related term, pseudo-contronym, was coined by David Morice in 1987.[citation needed]

Richard 11:53 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle -Bob that is a wonderful comment, and incredibly fascinating -- and very much appreciated. I resist respectfully disagreeing. With "moot" you're of course interpreting, in a prescriptive manner, what popular use is doing to the word, and I suspect you are well up to that task -- except this once. I believe the way moot is commonly used does not rule out that a point, however it may be rendered impertinent and meaningless at the moment, may still be worthy in another context or in the following moment. That's my interpretation. But I'm glad it prompted your previous comment, which is worth reading again.

singer 2:54 PM  

From the American Heritage Dictionary:

"Usage Note: The adjective moot is originally a legal term going back to the mid-16th century. It derives from the noun moot, in its sense of a hypothetical case argued as an exercise by law students. Consequently, a moot question is one that is arguable or open to debate. But in the mid-19th century people also began to look at the hypothetical side of moot as its essential meaning, and they started to use the word to mean "of no significance or relevance." Thus, a moot point, however debatable, is one that has no practical value. A number of critics have objected to this use, but 59 percent of the Usage Panel accepts it in the sentence 'The nominee himself chastised the White House for failing to do more to support him, but his concerns became moot when a number of Republicans announced that they, too, would oppose the nomination'. When using moot one should be sure that the context makes clear which sense is meant."

Richard Cottrell 6:39 PM  

Singer, thank you for the comment on the word “moot”. I appreciate that you are interested and took the trouble. But I believe I’ve spotted an inconsistency in your American Heritage Dictionary Usage Note -- an inconsistency that bears on the issue being discussed.
The Note suggests that the example sentence will demonstrate the word “moot” being used to mean "of no significance or relevance" and of “no practical value”. But does the example sentence achieve that claim? I think it doesn’t for this reason: It is not stated what the nominee’s concerns actually were, so we must speculate to help the hypothetical along. Suppose the nominee’s concerns were that the White House was being war-mongering, or racist (or fill in the blank with a significant issue) in its lack of support. In that case the nominee’s concerns could never possibly be emptied of all significance, relevance or value.
If some nominee is chastising the White House, is it plausible to imagine that his concerns would be rendered empty of significance by some political move by one party or the other?
The American Heritage Dictionary Usage Note’s repeated word “no” contained in its claim is a problem, it’s absolute and the example doesn’t support it with any similar absoluteness.
To bring claim and example into agreement, I think American Heritage should consider narrowing the context in its claim, so that it would instead suggest that the example sentence will demonstrate the word “moot” being used to mean "of no significance or relevance" and of “no practical value” -- but only in the narrow context of the debate at hand (the nominee’s election).
But that would not support the crossword clue. So I may still hold to my view that the clue is erroneous, perhaps not forever, but for now.
I guess the challenge would be (... thinking prescriptively ...) for someone out there to be a bit more rigorous than my second favorite dictionary was (in this instance) and try and find example sentences.
By the way, the entry in the “M’s” in my dictionary doesn’t insist on the absoluteness of the “no” that I mentioned above, and in that regard sides with my suggestion, and contradicts both the crossword clue as well as the Usage Note that you quote, singer. And my dictionary is also an American Heritage -- of all things.

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