WEDNESDAY, Jun. 17 2009 — 24-line verse form / Tool at Henley / Kiltie's instrument / Feature of Las Vegas bandit / Flying Cloud automaker

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Constructors: Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: TREE (46A: Thing depicted by this puzzle's circled letters) — circled letters contain words LIMB, TRUNK, and ROOT in their pictorially appropriate places.

Word of the Day: Iloilo (10D: Philippine seaport) —

The City of Iloilo (Filipino: Lungsod ng Iloilo, Hiligaynon: Ciudad sang Iloilo) is the capital of, but independent from, the province of Iloilo. It is the economic hub of the Western Visayas region, as well as the center of the Iloilo-Guimaras Metropolitan Area.

Iloilo was historically one of the major agricultural centers of the Philippines, exporting sugar, copra, bananas, mangoes and other natural resources during the Spanish and American colonial periods.

In the 2007 census, Iloilo City had a population of 418,710 households with a 2.0% annual growth rate. (wikipedia)

This felt like a Monday puzzle with a big, spiky ILOILO plonked down on top of it. Speaking of spiky, that is one ugly TREE. If I cover the ROOTs with my hand, the circles make a shape that looks slightly more treelike, but still — a LIMB that sticks straight up from the TRUNK? Bigger problem than the tree's ugliness was its obviousness, and its major role in tipping the whole puzzle toward the dramatically easy. As is typical with these "ooh, look at me" grids, I just started filling the puzzle as if it were any old puzzle. NW went down in a flash, I saw that the circled parts spelled LIMB, and I filled in the other circles easily from there. This made numerous answers, including my old nemesis ILOILO, really easy to see. There were practically no pockets of resistance. I felled this tree with too much ease. Two things to this puzzle's credit. First, the LIMBs and ROOTs all attach to the TRUNK of the TREE at the same letter ("B" and "R," respectively), which is a nice touch. Further, the fill is, for once, really really smooth. I say "for once" because typically, in the "ooh, look at me" grid, horrific compromises are made in the fill. Not so today, ILOILO notwithstanding. Oh, and also, LIMB TRUNK and ROOT in the central Downs all get non-tree clues, though TRUNK is way down my list of possible magician's props (31D: Magician's prop). Carrot Top prop, maybe.


  • 9A: Campaign against Troy, e.g. (siege) — 10 years long, of which the Iliad covers only the tail end.
  • 20A: Feature of a Las Vegas "bandit" (one arm) — "one-armed bandit" = slot machine.
  • 27A: 24-line verse form (ballade) — all examples I'm looking up have more than 24 lines. The three 8-line stanzas are typically followed by an envoy of some kind (often 4 lines long). Here's Dante Gabriel Rosetti's translation of a François Villon ballade:

( François Villon, 1450.)
Tell me now in what hidden way is
Lady Flora the lovely Roman?
Where's Hipparchia, and where is Thais,
Neither of them the fairer woman?
Where is Echo, beheld of no man,
Only heard on river and mere,—
She whose beauty was more than human? . . .
But where are the snows of yester-year?

Where's Héloise, the learned nun,
For whose sake Abeillard, I ween,
Lost manhood and put priesthood on?
(From Love he won such dule and teen!)
And where, I pray you, is the Queen
Who willed that Buridan should steer
Sewed in a sack's mouth down the Seine? . . .
But where are the snows of yester-year?

White Queen Blanche, like a queen of lilies,
With a voice like any mermaiden,—
Bertha Broadfoot, Beatrice, Alice,
And Ermengarde the lady of Maine,—
And that good Joan whom Englishmen
At Rouen doomed and burned her there,—
Mother of God, where are they then? . . .
But where are the snows of yester-year?

Nay, never ask this week, fair lord,
Where they are gone, nor yet this year,
Save with thus much for an overword,—
But where are the snows of yester-year?
  • 32A: Water cannon target (rioter) — unpleasant. I was thinking the "cannon" was a toy. Way off.
  • 39A: Kiltie's instrument (pipes) — a "kiltie" is a Scot. Got this off the "P".
  • 47A: "Night" novelist (Wiesel) — Usually shows up in the puzzle as ELIE.
  • 54A: Software buyer, usually (end user) — goes reasonably nicely with PC Lab (8D: Place for a programming class, perhaps).
  • 58A: Tool at Henley (oar) — oddly, one of the few answers that I didn't fill in instantly. I watched this reality show recently called "The Girls of Hedsor Hall" and for whatever reason "Henley" was evoking only posh finishing school, not a Royal Regatta. At least I got the country right.
  • 13D: Egg roll time (Easter) — this clue makes me laugh. "Egg roll time? Any time! They're delicious!"
  • 35D: Daisy Mae's guy (Abner) — and again and again and again ...
  • 45D: '63 Liz Taylor role (Cleo) — her crosswordiest role ever.
  • 48D: Yoga instructor's direction (inhale) — this is quite true. I did this puzzle last night right after returning from a yoga class where this "direction" was used a lot.
  • 52D: Flying Cloud automaker (REO) — three-letters, a model I've never heard of ... must be olde-timey. REO. Easy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Me on Twitter]


Anonymous 8:15 AM  

Hey, Anyone got some crayons I can borrow?

PuzzleGirl 8:26 AM  

I admit when I first looked at the grid, the circles looked like they were supposed to be a depiction of Burning Man. Not sure what that says about me.

I was very surprised at the smoothness of the fill today. I didn't know ILOILO, but the crosses were a snap. The only thing that slowed me down slightly was entering beaten for 47D: Licked, e.g. I think I had the first E and the T already from crosses, so you can understand my confusion!

Liked the clue for OLD AGE (It beats the alternative, in a saying)!

Overall, nice job, guys!

joho 8:34 AM  

It would have been cool if AXE were in the grid.

I do marvel at Collins' and Krozel's ability to work LIMBs, ROOTs and TRUNK into the grid to create a tree and I do admire the smoothness of the fill, but I was really disappointed by the easiness of the solve that resulted.

I guess the cleverness factor made this a Wednesday but it's most definitely a Monday as Rex said.

edith b 8:47 AM  

The only glitch I ran into was in Texas as I failed to see the connnection between BOO and "Thats not fair!", failed to parse RANBY and missed ROD for Axle. Those few letters took as long to get as the rest of the puzzle. I thought I was in danger of not finishing and that would have been embarrassing on a Wednesday.

John 9:00 AM  

had ONEMAN for ONLOAN, which didnt work at all!

Glitch 9:02 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
dk 9:03 AM  

Easy Wednesday as stated elsewhere.

As Dogpatch continues to rule when do we get Shmoo and the skezix (sp? character with the cloud, rain etc.).

Just planted 5 quaking aspens in my small urban yard so the tree thingy was cute.

Glitch 9:10 AM  

Enough of the circles, time for a rebus.

Li'l Abner --- the new Simpsons?


PIX 9:15 AM  

Annoying puzzle. All those circles just to work in LIMB,TRUNK and ROOT, with the limb coming vertically off the top of the trunk? Just doesn't really work well for me.

retired_chemist 9:23 AM  

Agree with easy.

Liked this one. Figured out the theme early enough that it provided some help. Several fun answers – 20A ONE ARM, 27A BALLADE, 60A OLD AGE, 10D ILOILO. Do all solvers drive REOs (52D) at some point?

A small amount of chemistry (as it were) with 4D ALKALINE (Played RF for the Tigers. ☺ Also some first BASE [sic] late in his career), 34A GRAMS, and 51A KEROSENE. Minor nitpick: 21A MMS grates – mm is the abbreviation for both singular and plural.

Had EATEN at first for 67A “Like porridge,” and then 53D ON LEAN was a momentary WTF. Easily fixed E-> O @ the cross. Didn’t know 47A WIESEL until he was mostly there, but the crosses were easy and solid. Another momentary WTF – 12D wasn’t VENTI - only size I get. I presume GRANDE is the next size down.

Thanks, Messrs. Collins and Krozel.

jimweed 9:26 AM  

easy ≠ bad, in the same way that originality and excellence aren't necessary characteristics of good art.

the ad hominem-ish "ooh, look at me" was kind of harsh.

Karen from the Cape 9:27 AM  

Oh, I liked the puzzle. I didn't think it looked much like a tree from the circles (I was trying to think of some strange mathematical diagram) and when I finished and saw the spreading roots and limbs I was impressed. Plus, I love the name Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.

treedweller 9:29 AM  

I don't know what you all are talking about. This was the most fabulous puzzle ever! I just don't understand why "dweller" didn't make it in there somewhere.

But, seriously, I have seen many a tree with at least one branch vertical off the top of the trunk. In fact, except for a few species (like elm and pecan), all trees have such branches, unless they've broken or been pruned out sometime over the years. This may not be the most elegant tree I've seen, but I thought it was pretty good, given the constraints of the grid. The more appropriate quibble would be with the roots--most tree roots spread out in a wide, flat mat rather than diving straight down. But this is still fairly accurate--the anchor roots will tend to dive deep, while the feeder roots are focused in the top layer of soil.

INHALE got me for a log time--I felt I should know it, but could come up with nothing when "breathe" and "stretch" were both too long. I also didn't know the WIESEL title and EDENIC rubbed be wrong, so I was slow to put it in. My other slow spot was around ENDUSER--I got the USER right away, but wanted it to be "mac"--though I never filled that in, because the clue said "most".

In the end, I feel like I should have aced this one, but it was a pretty Wednesday-like time for me. Maybe I got lost admiring the limbs and roots.

PlantieBea 9:35 AM  

Easy, smooth, but I wanted to prune the lowest limb right off this ugly tree. I wish they had worked in a SWING on that lower limb.

I had to follow the link for COPRA to find out that it was dried coconut meat. Didn't know ILO ILO. Answers I liked included KEROSENE, GRANDE, IT's A DATE.

Thanks for the Wednesday fun, P. Collins and J. Krozel.

retired_chemist 9:41 AM  

@ treedweller - root extension being just to the edge of the canopy is a nice point IMO. As I recall, that's botanically correct, isn't it?

Glitch 9:42 AM  


Actually, as a gross generality, trees are symetical above and below ground.

Trunk straight up, tap root down, branches/roots diagonally out. The root structure is the size and shape of the canopy --- if left alone.

.../Glitch (part time arborist in a former life)

treedweller 9:48 AM  

@ Glitch
As a full-time arborist (TX-0236ATM) in my present life, I must disagree with you. Tap roots tend to die off, and most of the feeder roots extend 2-3X the height of the tree in the top 12" to 24" of soil. Anchor roots go where they can find cracks and crevices to fill. Branches go where they can get light.

As a gross generality, picture a lollipop on top of a disk.

Morus the Cat 9:59 AM  

@treedweller, you seemingly have the cred, as it were. (Btw, my mulberries DO have heart-shaped leaves! ;)

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Have to remember I before E except after C when spelling WIESEL. Struggled with WEISEL crossing EXHALE and couldnt figure out what an EXDUSER was. Straightened it out - the only glitch in an otherwise easy Wednesday.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

I would have been impressed had the three LIMBs been replaced by LIMB, BRANCH, TWIG, and the ROOTs replace by ROOT, SUCKER, ???? (FEEDER ref TreeDweller).

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

@jimweed Good Art can be crappy & unoriginal?

Unknown 10:07 AM  

Is this the "Ask an Arborist" blog? Great! Can you come trim some trees for me? Thanks. The maple looms a little too heavy and shady for the garden beneath, and it looks terrible on top because ComEd hacks away the branches around the electrical wires the tree wants to go through. And I can't see down the block thanks to the lush ashes next door. I'm not choosy—I'll even take a former part-time arborist for the job.

I don't get the fixation (commenters', not Rex's) on whether a puzzle's difficulty is too hard or too easy. These things aren't programmable, and there's going to be some variation. Will Shortz does do a tremendous job getting the clues calibrated to their day, and for what it's worth, this one plunked itself down right at Wednesday level for the top solvers.

retired_chemist 10:13 AM  

@ orange et al. - good things come in trees.

Let me be first to say tree and out.

Anne 10:20 AM  

I like to struggle a bit on Thursday but this one was straight forward as I knew the answers or got them through crosses. The theme was okay, I suppose. I don't think slot machines have arms anymore - you just have to press a button. (That makes it much easier for you to give your money to the casino which is essentially what you are doing.)

@treedweller - seriously 2 to 3 times the height of the tree? That means a 50 ft. tree would have incredibly long roots. I'm glad to know that.

@Two Ponies - that is sad about Aretha - I had no idea.

slypett 10:20 AM  

All the +s apply. I had fun, for a brief time--then it was over.

The "tapROOT" could also be outspreading. Depends on your perspective.

Anne 10:30 AM  

Pix - I don't get the puzzle while I'm away as I think it's good to change your routine sometime. I know that Wa Wa you mentioned. And no jellyfish that I saw or heard anyone mention; it was cold for this time of year and not a lot of people were in the water. We saw some dolphins from our balcony which was cool.

@Stan - There's always another side to things to consider. Thanks.

Karen from the Cape 10:37 AM  

Looking back at Rex's Iloilo blog from 2006 was a trip. Handwritten grid! Only 13 comments (half by Rex)! Thirty minutes for a Sunday puzzle! I assume 'crunchword' is what we now call a rebus? You've come a long way, Rex.

Ulrich 10:43 AM  

I'm surrounded by trees and greatly enjoyed this morning's back-and-forth. It may be dead by now, so, I won't beat it any longer.

I enjoyed the puzzle throughout--even knew GRANDE, although I absolutely refuse to speak Starbucksian in those places--it's still small, medium and large for me--what nerve to expect customers to memorize made-up names! And this extends to baristas...

Charles Bogle 10:49 AM  

Can see why retired_chemist and @treedweller had so much fun w this Arbor Day puzzle, given their handles

Fun for me too, except stayed too long w YDS instead of TDS and ILOILO was a stumper

When did OER become a "key" contraction? But, liked its juxtaposition w OAR

Agree w @puzzlegirl-OLDAGE wonderfully clued

Had to be careful to see the forest for the trees on this one!

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

@Charles Bogle - think Francis Scott Key

jimweed 10:59 AM  

@anon 10:06 - i've encountered a lot of endearing amateur or "lo-fi" art, characterized by honesty, sincerity, enjoyability, complexity, simplicity, sophistication, and/or insight--in the absence of excellence and originality (and plenty of original, nicely-wrapped, and brilliantly-executed rubbish). same holds for xwords, which i consider to be an art form.

Glitch 11:06 AM  


I will defer to you, even tho my lollypop keeps falling over ;)


Anonymous 11:16 AM  

April 1 cigar sound? Help, I don't get it.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

@ anon 11:16
Exploding cigar as an April Fool's jokw.

Jeffrey 11:34 AM  

And now a puzzle for those who want to practice short words. Only 2 7-letter words and 4 8-letter words in the whole puzzle. Oh yeah, there’s a tree in the middle.

What’s with the poem? Where are the snows of yester-year? Is this a global warming reference? Seriously, is this considered to be good? I honestly can’t tell. Is there an expert around who can help me?

Crosscan, uncultured

PIX 11:43 AM  

@Anne of Cape May...thanks for the update...I am jealous; you are there and I am not...have a great trip!

HumorlessTwit 11:44 AM  


ArtLvr 12:37 PM  

Interesting that REO made a Flying Cloud -- I'm no car buff, but Rolls Royce made the Silver Cloud, along with equally ethereal Silver Ghosts and Phantoms as I recall.

I'm glad R_C mentioned the extrraneous S on the abbreviation MM, as I hesitated there too! As for the top LIMB being different from the TRUNK, one doesn't perceive one's head as part of the torso...

Nice to have the CLIMB including a branch, though the NESTS on the ground were a bit sad. DARN if the nest-builders by my window aren't noisily creating something in a metal gutter (it's good my present cat is in her OLD AGE, not prowling the roofs as did a forerunner). I'd STEER the birds elsewhere if I could: Treedweller could teach them a thing or two!


Noam D. Elkies 12:41 PM  

Really fun and fresh puzzle — yes, maybe on the easy side for Wednesday but I don't mind that either once in a while.

There's a bonus tree entry for the LOTR folk at 62D:ENTS :-)

16A:CLARA Bow is the "who?" girl as far as I'm concerned...

54A:ENDUSER also resolved the ambiguity in 50D:SUNGTO (vs. "sang to").

Nice clues for 60A:OLDAGE and 70A:ATEST.

1D:AS TO the Villon 27A:BALLADE, the tagline — or refrain, or whatever's the right technical term — has its own entry in, in the original French ("Où sont les neiges d'antan?"). I suppose the verse lost something in translation. Did he also write Villonelles? ;-)


DJG 12:44 PM  

The "tree" part was definitely easy, but I didn't think the rest of it was easy for a Wednesday. In fact, I got stuck for an extended period of time in the SW, primarily because I wasn't familiar with the term ENDUSER and because I thought "Yoga instructor's direction" would a very yoga-specific pose or stretch or something like that. (I don't do yoga, preferring instead a more manly way of exercising, like lifting old milk cartons filled with concrete.)

PuzzleGirl 12:56 PM  

@ArtLvr: I believe finding a bird nest on the ground is supposed to be lucky! At least according to this Doyle Bramhall song.

Orange 12:59 PM  

Not so lucky for the bird whose nest is trashed...

jeff in chicago 1:29 PM  


Too many short words. Not into "picture" puzzles. Too easy for a Wednesday. Random Roman numeral. AS TO crossing ACT AS. (And in the 1-A/D slots!) EDENIC. ILOILO. Sorry Pete and Joe - it just didn't work for me.

jeff in chicago 1:30 PM  

@PG: Burning Man, eh? We DO have to hang some time.

fergus 1:36 PM  

Found this sorta lame and unappealing. Seemed like we were heading more for a Spider than a Tree.

Had a very unsavory first thought for the Water cannon target. (How could that term ever show up in a puzzle -- even though it shows up a lot in the current book I'm reading?)

Huskies? How about U OF UU, for those thinking Pac10? That's sort of clever, eh?

foodie 1:45 PM  

@J.Z.M I agree with your difficulty assessment. I imagine you know END USER, no?

@Orange and others, the issue of difficulty is very subjective when looking one solver at a time, but looking at the data that sanfranman is collected/posting for all the on line solvers can be telling about the amount of variation in Will's ability to predict difficulty. We are getting a sense of the variation across the week and from week to week.

Clark 2:39 PM  

@Charles Bogle -- Sorry to read about Bob Bogle -- in case he is a cousin of whatever rank, removed or not.

@R_C -- Does YDS for yards grate in the same way as MMS for millimeters? Just wondering; I don’t feel strongly about this either way. (Sorry to ask you after you’ve been treed, or after you treed, or whatever.)

@Rex -- I also just came from a yoga class. But one in which the direction INHALE was not used once, oddly enough. I had to wait for crosses. And, not wanting to rekindle the rap wars, I was listening to the ROOTs “Don’t Feel Right” as I read the BALLADE. Hard to say which of the two seemed more foreign (distant, other) to me. But the two together was like the strange combining of two wholly different smells: roast beef and lilacs maybe.

George NYC 2:59 PM  

This is a very famous poem by the 15th century French poet Francois Villon. Highly taught in French lit classes, and it works better in the original. "Ou sont les neiges d'antan" (where are the snows of yesteryear) is kind of like Paul Simon's "where have you gone Joe Dimaggio" in its perfect pitch of sadness and simplicity. I read this poem way back in high school, and that line still comes to me now and then.

jau 3:21 PM  

The egg roll time wasn't about egg rolls, it was about rolling eggs (Central Park, White House) at Easter....

chefbea 3:36 PM  

Did the puzzle after we came back from the Borghese
gardens and museum where we saw the Bernini sculpture of the lady turning into a tree

Of course `i knew the huskies school. And I loved the Key contraction

Also went to Tivoli today. Very tired

SethG 3:43 PM  

I generally prefer spring rolls to egg rolls. And Easter is in the spring. I'm confused?

Jeffrey 3:45 PM  

Passover is also in the spring. No rolls allowed. Eggs are ok.

Ulrich 3:54 PM  

@anonymous at 10:00: Your I before E rule would wreck havoc on German words and names--and my guess is that that is also true for Yiddish and Jewish names from Eastern Europe (like Wiesel). "ie" and "ei" are different sounds--it doesn't matter which letters precede them or follow.

Example: "Lieder" (pronounced leader) means "songs", whereas "leider" (pronounced lider) means "unfortunately" or "alas".

As to solving times: The data we have been seeing seem to confirm my intuition that solving times do not increase linearly over the week--a curve would look something like a "hockey-stick". In an e-mail exchange, one of the commenters told me that she keeps a personal record of her times, and these confirm my hockey-stick guess for the NY Times, but less so for the LAT--and I find that also interesting.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:57 PM  

@Orange - I have seen the statement somewhere that "A bird's nest is not a home to be used forever; it is a cradle to be used for one season and then discarded." So if that nest on the ground is not occupied, no problem.

Denise 3:58 PM  

Thank you for the beautiful poetry. We need that kind of language -- it feeds our souls.

Daniel Myers 4:09 PM  

@GeorgeNYC, Rex and others: I can only add my voice to the appreciation for the Villon verse - such a lovely line. And to think, Villon, from what we can suss out from history, was almost certainly a murderer. How very un PC of him!

imsdave 4:16 PM  

Liked it. But really only here to fill in for the overburdened with work Greene.

I played Michael in "I Do, I Do" in Rex's hometown in 1978. 'Where Are the Snows' is one of the numbers I remember fondly from that experience. The only part of the lyric that I can recall is:

Where are the snows of yesteryear
when did my double chin appear?

It's a two person play originally starring Mary Martin and Robert Preston, that spans a marriage of 50 years. Based on Jan de Hartog's play "The Four Poster", it moves from the wedding night, through their (maybe) affairs, and concludes in their happy doterage. Preston won the Tony for his performance, and it was nominated in all the major categories, getting crushed by "Cabaret"

Greene(junior) - out

Doug 4:21 PM  

I thought with all those limbs it was some kind of creepy crawly and not a tree. It's as high quality a drawing as you can get with a 2D Hasbro Lite Brite.

Yale's Henley rowers: A new one for this U of Wisconsin grad. Our nephew is leaving Milwaukee for Dartmouth College in a couple of months so I guess he'll be on about rowing, lacrosse and other easterner pursuits. We'll keep a brat warm on the barbie for him.

william e emba 4:23 PM  

Come on, this is a Wednesday. Cluing ILOILO as "Philippine seaport" is kind of vague, more suitable for the end of the week. Next time, hit us with "Sister city of Dededo" or the like.

imsdave 4:30 PM  

@william e emba -it could have been clued as "neighbor of Mt. Apo". Look on the bright side :)

fikink 4:39 PM  


and from "Oh! Coward!"

Where are the snows of yesteryear,
when Winter's gone and Spring is here?

...No regrets are worth a tear,
We're living in a changing world, my dear...

chefwen 4:40 PM  

Husband does Bikram yoga, (YUCK) but he wasn't around to ask, so INHALE was my last fill as I too hesitated on the ENDuser answer.

Just returned from a weeks visit with my 88 year old mom who is extremely depressed and doesn't want to eat. I think at this point she would prefer the alternative, it's sad.

treedweller 4:50 PM  

Just to revisit tree roots briefly, the picture I described applies to a well established, mature tree--one that just got planted last year still has a ways to go to meet that generalization.

But I figured out how to make this puzzle even better! Replace the SW with:


I admit RUAL is pretty weak (but does get a few google hits, most promising of which seems to be a character in a computer game), as is SSSSS, and REGLAS may be a little too much of a reach in to the Spanish language, but, c'mon, you gotta admit this makes for one great puzzle. I saw imsdave's comment above right after I put MTAPO in there, amusingly. But it does make a nice opportunity for cross-cluing with ILOILO.

treedweller 4:52 PM  

Well, that didin't work very well. Imagine a big black square between RAGU and OA[R].

George NYC 5:08 PM  

How do the roots of trees planted in city sidewalks adapt to having only a few sq feet of an opening around the trunk to catch water? Do the roots tend to go straight down until they hit the subway or some other obstacle? Pretty smart for a root, as it were.

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

Down the F***in storm drain, that's where!

Chip Hilton 5:14 PM  

I was in the Galleria Borghese a few weeks ago. Bernini just knocks my socks off, all over Rome. One thrilling city.

joho 5:23 PM  

@chefwen ... I hope you can figure a way to lift your mom's spirits.

retired_chemist 5:26 PM  

@ Clark - no, YDS sounds OK, albeit seemingly inconsistent with mms not. FWIW my trusty OS 10 dashboard dictionary is cool with yds but does not recognize mms. I have probably put mm in print >100 times as the abbreviation for the plural "millimeters" without a journal editor ever changing it.

@ Ulrich et al. (mostly et al.) - our German prof (51 years ago) taught us to pronounce the IE or EI diphthong like the long pronunciation of the SECOND vowel. (Wie = VEE, frei = FRY) If WIESEL were German (actually he is Hungarian/Romanian), WEEsel is called for. I think (not sure) that's right, second syllable accented. And if so, one could work backward to the correct diphthong if one knew the pronunciation.

treedweller 5:27 PM  

@George NYC

Trees in sidewalks probably manage to spread a few roots into the compacted soil under the pavement, as heat on the surface causes moisture to condense underneath. But, the more pertinent answer is, trees in the sidewalks of NYC have an average lifespan of seven years, IIRC. In other cities' downtown areas, I suspect pavement-bound trees can expect roughly the same fate.

I'd be happy to come do some tree work for you. You may find travel expenses to be somewhat prohibitive, though.

imsdave 5:30 PM  

@Chip Hilton - I absolutely lost your e-mail address :( Send me a note and we'll set up a golf game - Blackledge or Tallwood works for you as I recall (or one of the Portland courses) - Westport in 2010!

George NYC 5:42 PM  

Bloomberg initiated a "plant a million trees" program and I must say trees are indeed springing up all over. The newcomers get a whole sidewalk square. That's about 3x the amount in the past

retired_chemist 5:45 PM  

@ Li'l Abner crossword fans everywhere - I await JOE BFTSPLK's appearance in a puzzle. Yes, that's how it is spelled.

tekchic 5:48 PM  

Went down faster than my usual Wednesday xword does. I did have ILO ILO down as MANILA -- since the IL was in the right place, it had me stumped a little while. :)

Pretty fun. Odd looking tree. Once I started seeing "LIMB"s though, that helped me fill a few letters I wasn't sure about.

PlantieBea 5:49 PM  

@treedweller: Down here, trees do indeed send roots out under the sidewalks; they cause the pavement to heave. Sadly, some subdivisions have removed the heaved concrete, root pruned the trees, and poured fresh concrete into the newly leveled area. It will be interesting to see how these de-rooted trees do when a hurricane blows through. What's even sadder is that landscapers continue to plant new and potentially very large trees (live oaks) too close to the pavement.

treedweller 6:23 PM  


That problem exists everywhere. IMO, the quality of the sidewalk has more to do with the problem than the trees. In Austin, particularly, clay soils expand and subside as moisture fluctuates, and tree roots merely fill in the gaps created. Next time you see a heaved sidewalk, check to see how much reinforcing metal is in there.

Whatever the source of the problem, forward-thinking communities have begun to correct it by either rerouting the sidewalks or using different materials (rubber being one common example).

I'm way over my limit here, and the relationship to the puzzle is getting sketchier all the time, but I'd be glad to continue to debate and discuss if anyone wants to send me an email--arborworks at austintx dot com.

Noam D. Elkies 7:00 PM  

@treedweller 4:50 — besides other problems with your variant SW, it kills one of the theme ROOTs.

@retired_chemist 5:45 — for extra credit, cross BFTSPLK with MXYZPTLK (or KLTPZYXM).


treedweller 7:12 PM  


Ooof--I forgot about that. I'll have to try again.

miriam b 7:17 PM  

Trivia time: In Villon's Ballade des dames du temps jadis, he mentions Berte au grand pié. She, otherwise known as Bertha Bigfoot, reportedly had webbed feet. She was the wife of Pepin and the mother of Charlemagne. Some say there was a Mother Goose connection.

Off topic, but I just have to share this joke:

Nurse: Doctor, there's an invisible man in the waiting room!

Doctor: Tell him I can't see him.

Treebeard 7:46 PM  

Hroom, hm, lets not be too hasty about this tree-mendous puzzle.

retired_chemist 7:49 PM  

@ Noam - for extra extra credit, stack them.

Noam D. Elkies 8:28 PM  

Wow, I can get extra extra credit! And I still haven't exhausted my three posts for the day. Let's see...

# A A A # # # # #
# B F T S P L K #
K L T P Z Y X M #
G E E # E X I S T E N C E
B R R # L E I # _
# # # E L S # _ _
_ _ _ _ # #

Rather a lot of cheater squares, but it does work.


retired_chemist 8:33 PM  

I bow to the master.

PYXES - what a word!

mac 8:44 PM  

@Peter and Joe: Looove that the tree is not symmetrical! That extra limb starting at tub is just the best. Good Wednesday puzzle for me!

@fergus: what's wrong with the huskies?

No problem with mms and inches on my ruler, I use both.

@Chip Hilton: welcome back!

I once, for a short time, knew a family with several members with webbed fee. I was just fascinated.
It wasn't all the toes, just a few.

Ballade des Dames dys temps jadis sounds a lot better than Dead Ladies....

ArtLvr 9:15 PM  

@ imsdave -- Many thanks for being inspired to ACT AS Greene Jr. today! More please --I DO I DO enjoy it.

@ chefwen -- My thoughts are with you and your mom too...

Maybe we can have more Arbor Day celebrations? It was great hearing from everyone today!


Oscar 9:18 PM  

Interesting idea, capably executed. This may be the first Krozel kollaboration that didn't disappoint after the initial glance. Kongrats.

fergus 9:34 PM  

Mac -- to me the Huskies are the team from the University of Washington. (No dis of Connecticut -- a point out double U, which might be more of a double V to many Europeans.) I know the UCONN Huskies too. UofW has a most beautiful urban campus in Seattle, complete with an Arboretum.

My irritation with this puzzle stems from the intersections of the circled words. I wanted the limbs and roots to be connected to the trunk, and herein they're not attached organically, but rather crudely appended.

sanfranman59 10:10 PM  

This week's numbers so far. (I don't know what happened to my post from last evening. I must have forgotten to hit the "publish" button.) The number in parentheses is the number of solvers. I'm also including last week's numbers for comparison.

Mon (all) 7:02 (960) last week: 6:55 (856)
Mon (Top 100) 3:44 last week: 3:43

Tues (all) 8:17 (877) last week: 8:09 (878)
Tues (Top 100) 4:19 last week: 4:06

Wed (all) 12:03 (723) last week: 14:33 (626)
Wed (Top 100) 5:35 last week: 7:26

Judging from the solve times, today's puzzle wasn't as easy as some of you seemed to think. Certainly not a Monday. The consensus last week seemed to be that the Wednesday puzzle (Richard Silvestri's "44" puzzle) was more like a Thursday puzzle, so it's not surprising that today's solve times are faster than last week's. The median solve time among those under 1 hour was almost 2 minutes longer than the Wednesday puzzle two weeks ago.

Stan 10:30 PM  

@Anne -- Thanks for your nice comment. I wasn't really disagreeing with you, by the way, just sharing another perspective.

Today's puzzle: Thumbs up. Likewise today's blog -- best arborial humor ever!

Clark 10:39 PM  

Someday 'Huskie's school' might clue MICH TECH or MTU (Michigan Technological University).

fergus 12:22 AM  

Thank you SF man for providing data.

As a whatever, no, as someone who does incorporate data into offering opinions, I am pleased to see the results in a Tycho Brahe sort of way. While I may have some doubts, I hope I can find the wisdom of Kepler in sorting out your starry findings.

(Where in SF are you, by the way?)

sanfranman59 12:38 AM  

Happy to oblige, Fergus. I live in the city in the Laurel Hts neighborhood, within shouting distance of the Presidio.

Lisa in Kingston 12:40 AM  

@fergus, Yes, the UW Huskies, my first thought as well. The arboretum you mentioned is wonderful--many times we have canoed beneath the roadways of SR520 amongst the lilly pads and widgeons. As to the puzz, the tree was a cinch, but I had a hard time with the rest of it (like ZJ Wahtzizname ; ) )

fergus 1:19 AM  

Foodie is a probably a better cold calculator of results than I may be, yet I see a trend. Which forms a consistent solving graph, from week to week with little variation.

Friday and Saturday are the stick-ends of hockey, but that is only because they stop and give pause to quick-wits, like Orange. And then give some wild standard deviations. Those of us trending her way will dance through till Friday, and then be stuck for a while.

And regret it when we're done, since it was too easy.

fergus 1:32 AM  

Lisa, that place is extraordinary.
And yet enclaves in San Francisco seem equally enticing.

I am torn at the moment with a preference for the broad stretch of Northern California or the wider reaches of Puget Sound.

chefbea 2:42 AM  

@chefwen - if you are still up and reading the blog. I know what you are going through. My mother was the same way. Good luck!

alkaline carla michaels 4:41 AM  

So, my friend Hannah Leider's name means "Unfortunately"?!! Alas.
(She was the first person I made a crossword for!)

My landlord, the evil Mr. Fong will not let us plant a tree in front of the building insisting the roots will wrap around the plumbing pipes and warp the sidewalk. :(
We were offered beautiful trees for $25 from some Friends of the Forest City org, including planting...
I'm horrified to find out he might have credibility on any level.

Still have that "Come on Eileen" video in my head...tho being slowly pushed out by Jack-in-the-Box's mini buffalo ranch chicken sandwich jingle

ileen 2:38 PM  

This is the second time in ten days or so we've had OATEN. I thought it was a made up word the first time & I'd hate to see it become a regular fill.

I worked this puzzle old school, on line instead of online. Waiting on the standby line for Twelfth Night (you must see it), I worked with my pencil & did most of it, but got distracted by some very nice people online in front of me (Hi Arlynn if you're reading). She's a big fan of Rex's, but I'm not sure if she posts or reads the comments. Anyway, I finished it on the subway this morning. I'm definitely a quicker solver electronically.

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

So you didn't get that "key contraction" refers to Francis Scott Key, "O'er the ramparts we watched"?

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP