FRIDAY, Sep. 4 2009 — Sponge skeleton parts / Freshener since the 1890s / Punch-Out!! maker / Hitter of 66 in 98 / Iberian infants

Friday, September 4, 2009

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SPICULES (7D: Sponge skeleton parts) n., pl. -ules also -u·lae (-yə-lē).

A small needlelike structure or part, such as one of the silicate or calcium carbonate processes supporting the soft tissue of certain invertebrates, especially sponges.

[Latin spīculum. See spiculum.]


Grid looks fiercer than it is. Hard to get a toehold, but once you get a bunch of crosses through a pair of those 15s, the 15s become evident and the puzzle opens up some. Started by filling in S after S after S. So many S-ending words, including seven (!) "S"s that are terminal for two words at once, e.g. HYMNALS/MOLARS, HASSLES/ORIENTS, etc. etc. etc. The 15s — what's supposed to be impressive — are all very solid, if a bit dull. Good job to sneak a "Z" in there, because otherwise the grid is remarkably devoid of Scrabbly letters. In addition to the "S"s, there's an "-ED" pile-up that's really quite impressive: NUKED over HOLED over REASONED x/w BENDED and ROOKED. Truly bad fill is pretty minimal, and most of it's limited to the N / NE. The two-T'd BATTEAU (8A: Small river craft: Var.) ... I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd have changed the "B" to a "W" just to avoid the "Var." (Yes, WATTEAU is a thing). All in all, where compromise fill is concerned, T'ISN'T AS BAD as it could have been, given the openness of the grid and the fancy interlocking 15s

I was happy to remember SEN-SEN from an earlier puzzle (31A: Freshener since the 1890s). Ditto SPICULES, a word that caused me to wipe out on the very first Sunday puzzle I ever wrote up nearly three years ago.


  • 15A: Psychiatrist's arsenal (anti-depressants) — "arsenal" feels off, and slightly loaded/judgmental.
  • 17A: They were used on old TV's "Twenty One" (isolation booths) — my favorite of the long answers.
  • 21A: Increase in volume, in mus. (cres.) — for "CREScendo."
  • 23A: Modern, in Münster (neue) — got it right away. My crossword-German is coming right along.
  • 33A: Punch-Out!! maker (Nintendo) — don't know what this is, but love the clue, if only for the exclamation points.
  • 38A: Ravel's "Ma Mère _____," a k a "Mother Goose" ("L'Oye") — I love me some Ravel, and this was a gimme for me, but LOYE still feels ouchy to me. The piece itself is not at all ouchy.

  • 44A: Process associated with socialism (nationalization) — now that we live in a socialist country (...) this should have been easy for all of you. All of you. Equally.
  • 3D: Long-disproven scientific theory (Ptolemaic system) — probably the coolest-looking of the long answers. I realized as I was filling it in that I wasn't sure what my second or third vowel was. PTOLOMEIC? PTOLAMAIC? Yikes.
  • 41A: Little of wee follower (uns) — in olde-tymey hickspeak, I guess. Isn't "young" a more common preceder of "UNS?"
  • 4D: Framework components (sills) — I had TILES at first.
  • 29D: Iberian infants (nenes) — when you're tired of Hawaiian geese, this is your clue.
  • 42D: Hitter of 66 in '98 (Sosa) — He has (well, had) the Prototypical PAD-user's body. Squat and puffy, like a float in a parade, only more taut and muscly. In unrelated news, I keep reading this clue as [Hitler of 66 in '98].
  • 43D: Old propaganda source (Tass) — Communism crossing Socialism in the NYT. Why am I not surprised?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Karen from the Cape 7:55 AM  

I had my fastest Friday yet. Mostly due to my first two entries being PTOLEMAIC and ANTIDEPRESSANTS, followed soon after by A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS, giving me not so much a toehold but more a staircase to fill in the rest. Remembering BATTEAU from a few weeks ago was helpful, because French spelling confuses me anyways. SENSEN I know from a Billy Joel song. My only major write over was confusing MATT Biondi with a Mark that I went to school with. My last square was the crossing of STONE/LOYE (French spelling again). I was very happy with this puzzle.

Greene 8:27 AM  

Well, I won't say that I was able to "Rex" the puzzle, but I came pretty close. I got 3 of the 15 letter answers almost immediately: ANTIDEPRESSANTS, followed by ISOLATION BOOTHS, followed by A THOUSAND AND ONE. I might have polished this off in 15 minutes or so, but I got tangled up with TISN'T (which just twouldn't come). I misspelled L'OYE as L'OIE which slowed me down a bit as well.

I love that Ravel piece. I think it may be the first time I ever heard the contrabassoon used melodically. No, make that the second time. Ravel has a nifty contrabassoon solo at the opening of the Piano Concerto for the Left Hand (my all time favorite Ravel composition).

Isn't the abbreviation for crescendo usually CRESC (with a C)? I don't think I've ever seen it abbreviated CRES. That just looks weird.

All told, a fun easy puzzle. Much, much easier for me than Thursday.

Jeffrey 8:35 AM  

With a near record low 19 black squares and lots of cool entries, this is an amazing puzzle. Krozel rules again!

Leslie 8:36 AM  

Greene, yes, it was easier than yesterday's for me, too.

I had "storm" for STONE, and "insurrectionist" for INSURRECTIONARY. Am I the only one who thinks the clue should have been "rebellious" instead of "rebel?" (I know "insurrectionary" can be a noun as well as an adjective, but c'mon.)

Elaine 9:06 AM  

I couldn't believe how quickly this went together once I got the first 15-letter clue (ATHOUSANDANDONE) and as soon as I stopped second-guessing myself. I would think CODAS, then, "Nah." Same thing w/ NEURAL, MOLAR and SPICULE.

I agree this was easier than the usual Friday once you got a toe-hold! But @Rex, what's the objection to LOYE? I mean, that's the name of the piece. I could only spell it via crosses...which brings me to the only objection: Answers in four different languages? LOYE, NEUE and TARDE are not common-usage, unlike the (Italian) musical terms, which I didn't count as problematic.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Loved it. My dad used to keep SenSen in his vest pocket. One would slide the box open and tap out a few tiny black squares of breath freshener through a little hole in the upper left corner. Ah, sweet memories.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:26 AM  

This one had a really academic-feeling puzzle in terms of entries and construction. Is it school season already?

"Punch-Out!!" is a another classic arcade game from the 80s. When it was ported to the NES, Mike Tyson's name was added to it. A+

Noam D. Elkies 9:35 AM  

I see the near-record 19 has already been noted. The eponymous Ptolemy of 3D also has a reasonably famous theorem named after him. Another Ptolemy is likely hidden in Bart = Bartholomew = Bar-tolmai = son of (probably) Ptolemy. No, neither of these connections would help with that mystery vowel. At least it ain't PTUI.


slypett 9:44 AM  

Elaine, ONETHOUSANDANDONE was my first long fill, too.

This was much easier than yesterday's and more fun. When I looked at my first pass of acrosses, I thought, "Here we go again: pain added to agony." Then I noticed the E was all filled and I lightened up.

Sen-Sen was a favorite of the girls on my block. They used to get it at Milty's candy store (before it was Saul's). I was too young to notice if their breath was fresher.

slypett 9:47 AM  

Ooops, forgot to click the Follow-up box.

hazel 9:48 AM  

Well I for one could not get a toe-hold in any of the 15s - so this was no quick solve for me. Loads and loads of misstarts - entirely too many to bore people with.

I question whether I actually had any fun in solving this feat of construction? I think the answer is no. It felt more like taking a test - which maybe gets to BEQ's point - for him A+, for me Cish.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:50 AM  

What everybody else said.

Plus, 1 A, in Scouts we had the cheer, "Ripsaw, Ripsaw, Ripsaw, Bang! We are the guys from the Troop One gang! Are we in it? We should smile -- we've been in it a long, long WHILE!!!"

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

I agree with Karen -- this seemed like the easiest Friday ever. I kept expecting to encounter some trouble but never did. Felt like a Thursday or maybe even a Wednesday.

ArtLvr 10:14 AM  

I was thinking "Jack, e.g." would be some kind of Hooch at first! Not a real problem... I appreciated ARM rather than a guess at ESE or a variant, too.

I did try Ninos and Ninas (sans tilde) before NENES and wondered if the latter is Portugese rather than Spanish? Not my forte.

Musical touches besides the nod to Ravel: HYMNALS, CODAS, NONET, MODES and CRES, but I agree with Greene on that last one, should be Cresc. TARDE almost fit too, as Tardo would be "slow" in a score. These made it more cheery than yesterday's nightmarish tone. Less lively fill, as Rex noted, but what a stately construction! Bravo, Joe.


joho 10:19 AM  

Like @Rex I started with lots of S's. I stared a lot and finally got going. Once I did, it moved along and provided me with a lot of fun on this Friday.

I couldn't help thinking that if you take your ANTIDEPRESSANTS you won't want to lock yourself in any ISOLATIONBOOTHS. I also thought of @dk.

This was definitely easier for me than yesterday. Thanks, Joe, for yet another great puzzle!

retired_chemist 10:20 AM  

Good puzzle. Got several of the 15s with only a few crosses – unusual for me. I hope this is not a fluke but portends well for the future.

ENTREPRENEURIAL was nice, but in filling I switched the R and E which screwed up NEUE @ 23A which made ?OUSE hard to fill @ 23D. Eventually caught my typo but it must have cost me a minute. INSURRECTIONARY sounds like a made up word. Bah. JIGSAWS @ 1A was my start but obviously was wrong – the P after fixing made the pretty much unparsable GTO* into PTO*, which was obviously PTOLEM------. I rather liked JAIL CAR @ 1D for its noir image….

32A was IN BULK to start, and I bet I am not alone in that. Did not put RESTS @ 18A – seemed too obvious for Friday. Did put TYPES @ 36A, expecting it would eventually go. It did.

Thanks, Mr. Krozel.

Glitch 10:24 AM  

Liked this one ...

Just hope the Psychiatrist'a arsenal contains more than that one item ;)


HudsonHawk 10:40 AM  

Great puzzle, JK. I must have counted squares two or three times for 17A, trying to convince myself that the BOOTHS were SOUNDPROOF. Quiz Show was awesome.

Looking forward to seeing the Lollapuzzoola shout-out tomorrow!

fikink 10:45 AM  

Thank you, Joe Krozel! Solid, solid solid!
and the journey I took to complete this puzzle was nowhere I thought I'd be going today. Even pondered the fact that Thomas Kuhn was noted for the book, "The Copernican Revolution," BEFORE everyone and his mother co-opted his concept of "paradigm shift."

Had PUNKED for ROOKED for the longest time.

Rex, Watteau is a "thing"?

Andrew R 10:47 AM  

When the first thing you write in the grid is ISOLATION BOOTHS, it's a sign that you're going to have a good day. Tore through this puzzle but still enjoyed it.

Stan 10:48 AM  

I liked the political balance of INSURRECTIONARY on the left and ENTREPRENEURIAL on the right.

Overall, what an elegant puzzle!

P. Abide 10:54 AM  

Congrats to Joe on this impressive grid. My last square was AT_URCH, as my mind accepted the NYT would associate the socialism process with RATIONALIZATION.

CoolPapaD 11:01 AM  

Great puzzle - nice ratio of stuff that came immediately (ANTIDEPRESSANTS) to aha moments. I ended with one error that I'm kicking myself for - I've never seen COPSE, and could not come up with the correct vowel (the O). When I finally checked the answers, my first reaction was, "What the hell does NOUSE mean?" Yeah - ouch...

For 26D, I so wanted TENS, a la yesterday's puzzle!

Fifteen over 15 construction is amazing to me. Is there anyone out there who can briefly explain how one begins building such a puzzle, or point out a good reference (on-line or other)? Are these types of puzzles more common in the PC era, or have they been a long-standing staple of end-week construction?

Two Ponies 11:02 AM  

Wonderful puzzle!
I thought the side-by-side long answers were amazing. I can't imagine ever being able to build a puzzle like this one.
Way to go Joe!
Liked salad crossing sidedish.
After yesterday it is nice to start the weekend on a positive note.

Susan 11:32 AM  

Fun puzzle. I did it faster than yesterday, too.

38A L'oye caused me to stumble. In modern French goose is "oie" and not knowing the Ravel piece, that's what I put. 3D cleared it up, of course. But in the end the old timey "l'oye" goes nicely with the old timey "uns" right below it in the grid.

archaeoprof 11:35 AM  

More kudos for this puzzle! 15-letter stacks rock my world.

@Rex: brilliant political analysis, better than anything on MSNBC or Fox.

Unknown 11:39 AM  

As others have said, much easier than Thursday which was a killer for me--required help from my husband as well as some googling. My last fill today, strangely enough, was HOIST -- "Jack" just didn't click for the longest time, and I had TIS NO for 35A.

Only one sports clue, at 42D, and even I knew the answer.

still_learnin 11:58 AM  

Whew! A tough one for me. Didn't know BATTEAU and LOYE. None of the 15s really helped me break anything open -- including the adjacent 15s. On top of that, some words -- NATIONALIZATION, e.g. -- just wouldn't break loose from the cobwebs. Ditto with CREASERESISTANT... I just couldn't think of what you call "those things you need to iron out". I definitely needed more coffee this a.m.

Oh well, "that which does not kill me..."

Orange 12:08 PM  

Rex, you're absolutely right: WATTEAU is rock-solid (famous French painter of the Rococo era) and "Var."-free. And what's more, WENDED would lend itself to much more interesting clueing possibilities, whereas BENDED is limited pretty much to an "on ___ knee" reference.

This reminds me of another recent Krozel krossword in which HEIL left a bad taste in many solvers' mouths (but good lord, don't try to freshen up with SEN-SEN when mints and Certs are readily available) but could easily have been changed to HEIR.

NYT people! You're missing some opportunities to root out awkward or unsavory fill without mucking up the puzzle.

Campesite 12:28 PM  

For some reason I'm not letting go of ninas where NENES should be.

Anne 12:44 PM  

I started work on this last night and managed to finish the right side. I remembered Batteau from a few days ago and Sensen from months ago, which helped to get a toe hold. I had a lot more trouble with the left side this morning but got through it eventually.

I've been away for a few days but managed to do all the puzzles. For the first time in my life, I did last Saturday's puzzle on the plane, with some sports assistance from my husband. That was a lot of fun.

Good to be back.

Denise 12:46 PM  

I took my time, and really enjoyed his artful puzzle. I love that somewhere in my brain, PTOLEMY was stored!

Glitch 12:50 PM  


Think Portuguese not Spanish.


DJG 12:56 PM  

I beat Mike Tyson on Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! without using a cheat code. Probably the achievement I'm most proud of as a kid.

chefbea 1:17 PM  

Good puzzle after I finally got started. Had all the s's then a thousand and one.

I too wanted in bulk and sound proof.

Guess you could call me copse. My husband is the big Wood

Elaine 1:18 PM  
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Elaine 1:20 PM  


I thought Iberia/Spain, not wee little I had BEBES.

NIB -- NDO ??Obscure board game maker? (I once played PacMan, was reduced to hollering, "RUN!" at the victim....) Thank goodness for the crosses. The NENE N's went in last.

Thanks to Susan for the L'OYE explanation. I had LOIS (remembering L'Oiseau, god knows why--I never studied French.)

SO--there were German, Spanish, French, PORTUGUESE for god's sake, and Italian/musical terms. I did not think any of them except the musical terms were "normal" Xword fill....or should I just get used to it?

I admit I prefer foreign words to sports and car model clues!!

Jim in Chicago 1:22 PM  

I got ATHOUSANDANDONE instantly, and the entire east coast granually fell from there.

I couple missteps on the endings of the long words - I first had entrepreneurISM instead of IAL, and insurrectionIST instead of ARY, but those were soon corrected.

I put in ANT instead of WET for the picnic clue, that gave me a bit of trouble in the NW, as well as SETON instead of STONE for the "attack barbarously" clue.

But, I just knew I was going to log in here to see the word "EASY" and so was very pleased with myself to see this graded medium.

I thought that SALAD for "restaurant opener" and SIDEDISH for "course component" were too similar in nature for a Friday puzzle.

Agree with others that one thing that made this puzzle difficult for Friday was that some of the answers were easy, making me think far too long "there must be a harder answer than the one that comes to mind."

tedequity 1:29 PM  

Leslie 8:36
Think of rebel as an adjective, as in rebel forces.

poc 1:32 PM  

Excellent puzzle, though I agree with Rex about WATTEAU.

NENE is a colloquial version of niño/niña, which perhaps should have been hinted at, being in a foreign language.

Carl 1:46 PM  

Proust uses a pun based on the Watteau/Bateau similarity in In search of lost time. I definitely would have preferred wended to bended.

mac 1:47 PM  

This puzzle just made me feel great, and that's a good thing on Fridays, before the Saturday onslaught. I finished pretty quickly with no help and no mistakes, but there were definitely some WHAT moments: I read "Hitler" as well at first, spelled Oye with an i and what is this about bateau with two t's? Is batteau an English word?

Beautiful, smooth puzzle, thank you Krozzie!

The Corgi of Mystery 1:48 PM  

Great puzzle and write-up. Polished off the east in record time then slowed to an absolute crawl in the NW. For some reason ____ ATION BOOTHS didn't want to reveal itself, even though I knew what I was looking for having watched Quiz Show recently, but once that popped in, the rest of the puzzle fell quite easily.

william e emba 2:39 PM  

Hah! SPICULES was my first entry. Afterwards, I had a fairly easy time, until I got badly jammed in the NW. I was looking at ---SAWS sitting on top of ANTIDEP and I could only think of two saws that fit: JIG and RIP. (With SEE trying to distract me.) But since GT---etc was impossible, as was PT---etc, I kept trying and trying. Way way way later I got the PT, and finished in a flash. Ah well.

edmcan 2:48 PM  

I liked the puzzle a lot too, you guys, but come on! 'l'oye'? Oi vey!

John in CT 3:33 PM  

Being a biology teacher certainly paid off for this puzzle. I nailed spicules! I really liked this puzzle. I had some trouble with the NW and SW. Ultimately I enjoyed this as much as any Friday in recent memory.

Glitch 3:43 PM  

ah um @poc:

As explained above, NENE is non-colloquial Portuguese for baby, and the clue indicated "Iberian". I don't see a problem.


Glitch 3:44 PM  
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Jon 3:45 PM  

@pednsg,,,,Anthony Lewis' Crossword Compiler software is the answer- themeless puzzles are a snap. J. DiPietro's interview on the "Wordplay" DVD explains his experience with low word count puzzles....many hours of tinkering. If you're a fan of such gimmicks, The NY Times statisticians promote all manner of record-setting minutiae....the record number of "H"s in a single puzzle, highest/lowest black square counts,,,etc,etc

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

Note that PERPETUALMOTION also fit for "long disproven scientific theory." That miscue will hold one up for a while!

ArtLvr 3:55 PM  

Afterthought -- "Wended" might might been contested, as the past of Wend is probaby Wound, rhyming withb Found, as in I wound my way through the Copse at twilight with the wind soughing softly... Just sayin'.

("Sough" rhymes with Rough, first choice. Isn't the English language fun!)


Doc John 3:59 PM  

I flew through this one. Until I didn't. Came to screeching halts in, interestingly enough, symmetrical squares- the N in NO USE and the E in STONE. Both came as aha moments when I split up _OUSE into two words and when I changed "tis it" to TISN'T. Whew!
Add me to the soundproof booth list, too.

ArtLvr 4:00 PM  

p.p.s. M-W gives the past of Wend as Went. I found "wound" more pleasing to the ear!


KarmaSartre 5:04 PM  

Very good puzzle, but what really caught my eye was "The Corgi of Mystery", a wonderful phrase/name.

poc 5:09 PM  

@Glitch: actually, several people put forward the idea that NENE *might* be Portuguese, but as far as I can tell, it isn't (based on consulting 4 different online dictionaries).

The problem, such as it is, remains.

Rex Parker 5:17 PM  

There is absolutely no "problem" with the NENES clue. It's rock solid. A perfectly good Spanish word. The clue says "Iberian" only for alliterative purposes.

andrea punch out!!! michaels 5:20 PM  

Would not have gotten thru this without ANTIPDEPRESSANTS, literally. (And I always think of dk!)

My eraser is nicht so gut, so this is the smeariest puzzle I've ever (almost)finished!
I made EVERY aforementioned mistake by others from nettles, rationalization, jig, in bulk, bebes, ESE, tisit to telephone booth!
In addition I had "one" for much too long (Little One and Wee One. IS there WEE UNS? WeeJuns, maybe)
Tres for Cres (so RAILtie stopped evolving past RAILTAR!)

In the end, I had ATHOUSANDANDONE mistakes, but managed to finish...
so I guess that's good.
Only fitting that throughout I wanted to take a JIGSAW to it...but that's a different kinda puzzle.

I thought FOIE was French for Goose as in foie gras. Is the OYE and the OIE in F-oie related linguistically somehow?

One malapop. Unconsciously misspelled TSOS T-A-O-S and then TAO popped up next word!

Heist is a kind of in to jack someone, rob them, no?
SO many so close! But that's the definition of a Friday, right? (That and going for records)

Speaking of records...

The 15 stacks are super incredible...
(and it's probably not for me to say as the worst grid constructor amongst us) BUT if you fill in those intersections where two plurals cross, that is at least 6 more black squares, so not really so near the record which everyone seems so determined to break.
(OK, bring on the "rail Tar")

@wm e amba
We are SO different! SPICULES was my last entry...The Word of the Day sounds like the punchline to a VERY un-pc joke.

poc 5:41 PM  

@Rex: this is my third (and hence last) comment. I didn't say that NENE was problematic, only that it's a colloquialism. It's an affectionate term similar to "kid" in English. Obviously KID would not require special notice. I just wondered rhetorically if the same rules applied for other languages, that's all.

mac 5:49 PM  

@Andrea Punch Out!!! Michaels: Foie is liver, oie is goose. Oye is old goose.

Jeffrey 5:59 PM  

@Andrea What's My Middle Name Today? Michaels - Point taken, but to be fair, we should compare Rexes to Oranges. The record holder has 4 crossing plurals.

slypett 6:13 PM  

My wiki-research turns up nene as baby in Spanish and nenê as baby in Portuguese.

If this doesn't settle the matter, there's no hope for peace in our time.

retired_chemist 6:23 PM  

@ anon 3:47 -

{pedantry}I don't think that perpetual motion counts as a scientific theory. A theory is something that explains some set of facts. PM is a concept that is unitary and explains nothing extrinsic to itself. That it is known not to be possible makes it disproven, but does not make it scientific theory.{/pedantry}

CoolPapaD 6:27 PM  

My Portugese-speaking colleague says that "nene" is a generic, non-gender based term one can use to refer to a baby (at least in Brazil, where he lived for several years).

@Joe - thanks.

retired_chemist 6:32 PM  

For anyone still questioning NENE - note the Brazilian NBA player. viz.:



(born on September 13, 1982 in São Carlos, Brazil) is a Brazilian professional basketball player who plays for the NBA's Denver Nuggets. His name at birth was Maybyner Rodney Hilário, but it was legally changed to Nenê in 2003.[1]

He received his nickname Nenê (Portuguese-Brazilian for baby) because he was the youngest in both his family and his group of childhood friends. Like most Brazilian children, he started out playing soccer, and was good enough to receive some interest from professional clubs. He did not play basketball until he was 14.[citation needed]

jae 6:45 PM  

A fine Fri. Medium works for me. The east side was pretty easy but the top two thirds of the west gave me some problems. Like andrea I tried HEIST, had E?? for the Timor clue, and left an R out of ISURRECTIONARY which caused me to insert a random letter elsewhere in the word and do a rewrite on REASONED. Got it sorted out but it took a while. Thanks JK!

Orange 6:59 PM  

@ArtLvr, the New Oxford American Dictionary provides a sentence in which "wended" is used for the past tense. If you're saying "I'll wend my way across town this afternoon," saying "I went my way across town" for the past tense sounds horribly wrong.

fergus 7:27 PM  

I'm with Leslie in thinking that INSURRECTIONARY (which is spell-checked, here) is very awkward as a noun, and much better as an adjective. Only real problems dealt with Crossing HEIST (cool that Jack could be both, as Andrea mentioned) and my choice of NIXED where NUKED was clearly better. The meaning of Hornswaggled doesn't seem to stick with me, though I'm sure we've seen it several times in the past year or two. My Crossword German continues to be schiesse.

fergus 7:34 PM  

I'm guessing SFMan's figures are going to be around 0.75 (for all) and 0.65 (for the top 100). These figures are as amusing to anticipate the Rex ranking. The wisdom of crowds vs. the known quality.

Glitch 8:15 PM  

Sorry, but promise this will be my last, re NENE:

I'm not questioning the clue / answer --- I also consider "rock solid" --- just for what I believe is a better reason.

@Rex wrote:

"A perfectly good Spanish word." The clue says "Iberian" only for alliterative purposes."

BUT, if "Iberian" led one to Portugal, one might find NENE an even better fit.


If you need to see it in a "dictionary" to accept click here: NENE (in Portuguese) .


fergus 8:21 PM  

Oh yeah, one other Process associated with socialism was SAD EQUALIZATION.

(Not an editorial comment, nor one I would expect to find in a puzzle, but since I was juggling the first six letters, this came to mind.)

ArtLvr 8:31 PM  
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ArtLvr 8:40 PM  

@ Orange -- The form "went" as the past for "wend" is given elsewhere online as archaic:

  [wend] verb, wend⋅ed or (Archaic) went; wend⋅ing.
–verb (used with object)
to pursue or direct (one's way).
-verb (without object)
to proceed, go

Let's face it -- "Wend" itself is archaic and today would hardly be used in the present tense with anything except "(one's) way", let alone used in the past tense... except in a phrase like "he went his own way".

You may perceive that last "went" as the irregular past form of "go", but look at it the other way around -- Where did that irregulat past of "go" come from, if not from the original past tense of "wend"?

I went out of bounds, three and a half comments.


Elaine 8:44 PM  

RE: wend

Sometimes, Occam's Razor is useful, if not essential!

Wend-wound (as with find-found)...

Not only does it work syntactically and grammatically, it works in one other, even more essential, way:

the poetic Gaelic/Celtic Brain says that it is right...(via the Left Brain, of course.)

We have but to conjugate some of our most-used verbs to realize that some words have evolved more than others. And sometimes a poet's sense of language will guide us more truly than the pedant's fine-dicing of the rules.

If you are wending your way, you are traversing a course in an uneven, turn-here/turn-there, stop-and-start journey. And when you get there, you've wound your way.

mac 8:45 PM  

@fergus: good thing you didn't spell that rude German word right. By the way, it needs a capital S.;-)

Martin 9:00 PM  

Oie (goose) is from the Latin auis (bird) which we recognize as avis, its later form.

Foie (liver) comes from the Latin ficus (fig). Liver is even even closer to fig in Italian (fegato). Supposedly, the Romans made foie gras by feeding geese figs. The product was called iecur ficatum and the colonies borrowed the wrong word for "liver."

So foie and oie are not etymologically related, but foie gras was the root of the French and Italian words for liver, which is even odder.

SethG 9:04 PM  

I totally want to cross NEUE and NIUE in a puzzle someday.

Previous clues for NENE(S) have referred to the bird or the basketball player or either Spanish, Barcelona, Madre, or Bogotá. This is the first Iberian clue.

The plural has been clued with babies every time, while the singular is nearly always the bird. Everybody's heard about the bird, because the bird is the word. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of national socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

Stan 9:22 PM  


LOL at WeeJuns...

fergus 10:59 PM  


I love your take on grammar and language -- tolerant yet quite demanding of precision,

Mac, ... if only Dutch spellings could wend their way into common Crossword parlance. You'd think that with all the double vowels?

OK, now it's time to wander down to the Boardwalk to hear the archaic "Tubes" do a rendition of "White Punks on Dope."

sanfranman59 11:34 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:16, 6:55, 0.91, 24%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:15, 8:30, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Wed 10:25, 12:18, 0.85, 16%, Easy
Thu 22:25, 18:41, 1.20, 93%, Challenging (6th most challenging puzzle to date relative to the day of the week)
Fri 24:32, 25:58, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:19, 3:40, 0.90, 24%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:14, 4:22, 0.97, 49%, Medium
Wed 5:24, 6:01, 0.90, 23%, Easy-Medium
Thu 11:46, 9:08, 1.29, 96%, Challenging (4th most challenging)
Fri 11:32, 12:08, 0.95, 43%, Medium

Not as far to the easy end of the scale as you predicted, Fergus. It felt to me like a slightly easier than normal Friday and the online solve times bear that out.

andrea crosscan michaels 11:53 PM  

@Martin and others,
Thank you for that Foie/Oie explanation...I guess I always thought Foie Gras was goose liver. or meant fat goose...
I'm now straightened out, silly old goose that I am! (I think!)
That neat part is I KNEW someone here would know!

Two Ponies 12:23 AM  

I truly appreciate the tidbits of knowledge of our language that I glean from this site. Thanks to all.
Jeopardy's Tournament of Champions ended tonight. The winner ran a baseball category and I wanted to cry "foul"! Some folks here would have loved it, I'm sure. I did get the Final Jeopardy answer correct and Puzzlemate was impressed. Lucky guess!

Anonymous 10:54 PM  


Old Al 12:51 PM  

I came here today looking for one thing and nobody seems to have discussed it.

Can some one explain to me how ORIENTS equals BREAKS IN?

I have a feeling that as soon as someone does, I'm going to feel awfully stupid.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:43 PM  

@Al - think of giving an orientation session to a new employee.

Old Al 2:29 PM  

Thanks. I told you I'd feel stupid.

Singer 5:55 PM  

Late in the day in syndication land. I found this puzzle to be a little harder than yesterday's. I had no clue who Patmore was, or how to spell his name, but the crosses took care of it. I figured out the trick on Fanny Brice and did the puzzle in under ten minutes. Today's puzzle was harder and it wasn't the 15s that made it so. I got A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS, ISOLATION BOOTHS (after trying to make sound proof work), NAIONALIZATION and ? RESISTANT really quickly. ANTIDEPRESSANTS took a while. Biggest problems for me were UNS, L'OYE, TISN'T and BATTEAU. My French ain't much. The whole thing probably took about 15 minutes and I had to Google for L'OYE, even thought Ravel is one of my favorite composers. Wouldn't recognize that as an archaic spelling ever. Wanted conned for ROOKED, but NUKED took care of that. Hadn't ever heard of Punch-Out!! - not a gamer. I really admire the skill to stack 15s like that, making a double stack square - dang that is genius!

I do agree, by the way, as a musician, that CRES isn't the normal abbreviation - it is cresc. I can't remember ever seeing CRES.

Anonymous 12:16 AM  

Process associated with socialism (nationalization) — now that we live in a socialist country (...) this should have been easy for all of you. All of you. Equally.

I prefer socialism to totalitarianism BUSH was the worst president by far and he was a tin horn dictator in banana republic style government


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