Basilica feature — THURSDAY, Oct. 8 2009 — Caligula's predecessor as emperor / Russian playwright Andreyev / Dragon ruler of old Wallachia

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Constructor: Scott Atkinson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: TIME AFTER TIME (33A: Repeatedly ... and a hint to the answers to this puzzle's starred clues)
— theme answers are two-word phrases where both words can precede "TIME" in a common phrase, e.g. DOUBLE PLAY (double TIME, half-TIME)

Word of the Day: THORIUM (26D: Metal that's an effective radiation shield) — A radioactive silvery-white metallic element that is recovered commercially from monazite. Its longest-lived isotope, the only one that occurs naturally, is Th 232 with a HALF-LIFE of 1.41 × 1010 years. It is used in magnesium alloys, and isotope 232 is a source of nuclear energy. Atomic number 90; atomic weight 232.038; approximate melting point 1,750°C; approximate boiling point 4,500°C; approximate specific gravity 11.7; valence 4.

Today, a fancier, somewhat more difficult variation of the "word-that-can-follow" theme. Seen it many times, but this one has the nice theme-revealing phrase in the middle that gives the theme heft and life, so ... good. Had trouble getting started, but once I did, it all felt reasonably easy. Medium, trending easy. Definitely had some minor struggles, especially in and around SORBATE (37D: Potassium _____ (preservative)) and especially TUTU, which is brilliantly clued (56A: Something a person may take a spin in?). I had that final "U" and could Not figure out what it could be. I actually started second-guessing the "U." I had BANTER for NATTER (42D: Flap one's gums), which also caused a hiccup. Other missteps included TALMUD for TORAHS (1D: They're read at services ... I just ignored the plural, I guess), SUPER GS for SLALOMS (27A: Winter Olympics races ... talk about taking the Road Less Likely), and RANK for RIPE (17A: Like many old gym socks). You'll note those last three are all in the NW, hence the slow start I spoke of earlier.

Theme answers:

  • 18A: *Baseball feat (double play)
  • 24A: *Physics period (half-life)
  • 48A: *Brave front (game face)
  • 52A: *Asthmatic's concern (air quality)

When the theme started unfolding, I figured it would have something to do with quantity, e.g. DOUBLE play, HALF life ... but then I hit the Cyndi Lauper song, and all became clear. Given the neat two-word structure of the long Downs in this puzzle — OPEN FLAME (4D: Hazard around an aerosol can) and MINE FIELD (32D: Treacherous expanse) — I really wanted them to be part of the theme too. "FLAME TIME!" I can think of a few possible meanings for that.


  • 14A: "Get _____," 1967 hit for the Esquires ("On Up") — started by wanting "A JOB," then considered "ON UP" but thought that was James Brown, which it is, in a way. "Get ON UP" is a refrain from JB's "Sex Machine." Thought I had never heard the Esquires song in question, then listened. Definitely familiar from my mid-80s "I only listen to Motown and Oldies and Classic Rock" phase.

  • 39A: Golden Globe-winning English actor McShane (Ian) — Can't picture him. I guess he was in "Deadwood," a show I've never seen.
  • 57A: Blinded painfully (maced) — it's kind of a brutal puzzle today, what with the nuclear material and the hazmat suit and the OPEN FLAME and MINE FIELD. Now I'm getting MACED? Dang.
  • 3D: Basilica feature (cupola) – one of those architectural words I just know, without knowing why I know it. CUPOLA is a dome, right? Wikipedia says "small, most-often dome-like structure, on top of a building. Often used to provide a lookout or to admit light and air, it usually crowns a larger roof or dome."
  • 5D: Work started by London's Philological Soc. (OED) — a handy ref.
  • 8D: Japanese port (Kobe) — not thrilled about this one intersecting OSAKA (5A: Where Panasonic is headquartered).
  • 33D: Caligula's predecessor as emperor (Tiberius) — only problem here was figuring out how to spell the end of his name. I had it right the first time, but when I couldn't see TUTU to save my life, I started second-guessing the end of TIBERIUS.
  • 43D: Vermin hunter (ratter) — like many terriers.
  • 45D: Russian playwright Andreyev (Leonid) — no idea.
  • 50D: _____ the Dragon, ruler of old Wallachia (Vlad) — aka "Vlad Dracul," father of "VLAD the Impaler"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Brendan Emmett Quigley 8:24 AM  

Quality stuff. Good spin on a tired theme. Found it a little harder than Easy-Medium, but that's just me. Solid fill too.

Michele Humes 8:27 AM  

The SE had a dark, Carpathian feel to it, what with Vlad Dracul and ratcatching, and Leonid Andreyev looking on from Mother Russia. The slavophile in me rejoices.

[Brief interlude while boyfriend and I decide whether Romanians are or are not Slavs. They are not. Onwards.]

I had a slow start in the NW, too, mainly because my brain was utterly convinced, with no possible justification, that "Uncouth sort" was an ANORAK.

Seeing TIBERIUS was like encountering old friend, albeit a depraved and murderous old friend with serious issues. I feel like I know all the Claudians intimately thanks to Robert Graves' Claudius books.

A niceish Thursday for me, not mind-blowing but very competently done.

Michele Humes 8:27 AM  
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Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Thought it was easy for a Thursday until that NE corner... sheesh.

Started w/ Hershey's "KISS" (fell for it)
Had "IN A CASTE" instead of "A LA CARTE"... (directional suffix- "ISE")

Otherwise real smooth.. even got "SORBATE" right away


joho 8:51 AM  

This went down pretty easily last night before going to sleep. The thing I liked about it most was listening to Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" in my head as I drifted off.

Elaine 8:54 AM  

Hand up for "Get A JOB," which I had to remove...then OVERSPRAY had to yield to OPENFLAME...and after that things went well until I was left with the NE.

THORIUM? (Thanks, Rex; that is way more than I want to know. WAY more). I finally Googled ROLO, then "Garth Brooks birthplace" to get TULSAN, and then Cosmetician ARPEL. (Huh? He's from how long ago?)

Protest: NEVER, EVER saw or heard anyone refer to Annapolis as "Nav. Acad." Really, c'mon. I got it, but it's definitely lame.

I have no idea why I knew SORBATE; slightly disturbing to find it rattling around in there...

So, yes to EASY, except for NE, which for me did not yield until I Googled 3 clues. Thought clues for 12D and 23A were clever--def needed the crosses.

Like Michelle, appreciate Robt Graves' novels and the contribution to our knowledge of Roman times. Hmmm, wasn't NERO clued with Caligula recently? and here we are with VLAD, as well.

Enjoyed this one!

CoolPapaD 9:32 AM  

Did not think this was easy, or even medium, for a Thursday, but it was ultimately doable before bed last night, with an error in the last letter of ESSE / ESQUE.

DEICE was slow to to down, and I had RATDOG (a Grateful Dead spin-off / side-project) for 43D for the longest time. Count me among the AJOB victims, and also had BANTER (and MUTTER) before getting the "never-heard-of" NETTER.

ALl in all, fun puzzle, and the clever theme helped me get a few of the answers - just right for a Thursday.

Elaine 9:42 AM  

That's NATTER, pednsg. Sorry to have to be the one to tell you.

We don't want to be Nattering Nabobs of Negativism here...but:

What is it with the Fake Italian/Spanish?? "Yo te __"
YO is Spanish for "I" but the familiar form of "You" is TU.
"Te" is Italian. In either language, "I" is implied in the verb and need not be written. sheesh

ArtLvr 9:42 AM  
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HudsonHawk 9:44 AM  

Very nice Thursday effort. The RIPE clue was a little edgy for the breakfast test. I loved the misdirectional clueing of 32A, "Not just turn down", for MUTE. Stared at that one for a bit.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Te is the direct object form of "you." Yo can be used or omitted. Nothing fake about "Yo te amo" or "Te amo."

Ulrich 9:45 AM  

"Deadwood" is possibly my favorite series of all time (in its first two years--the quality dropped off in the third IMO)--so, Ian got me started.

But it didn't turn out easy for me anyway. Didn't get much more after I had Ian, then got going, only to be really brought to a complete stop in the NE, like Elaine--knowing the metal OR the secret ingredient would've helped--so, I googled for the latter, which only confirmed what I knew all along: One doesn't need to know the chemical composition of things one enjoys!

ArtLvr 9:47 AM  

Excellent puzzle -- loved all kinds of fill noted, but especially my favorite actor IAN McShane! Number one cutest and sexiest, IMHO. I quote:

Ian's best loved role was roguish antiques dealer Lovejoy, perenially plotting for profits with friends Eric and Tinker. The series was first seen on our screens in 1986, but due to contractual wrangles didn't return for a second series until 1991. Viewers loved the combination of humour, mystery, antiques and grand locations and remained loyal fans until the series ended in 1994.

The Lovejoy stories were based on mysteries by author Jonathan Gash -- realized even better on TV!


CoolPapaD 10:06 AM  

@ Elaine - I had NATTER in the grid, but mis-typed it above. You, however, made me realize that I HAD heard of natter before. When I read an obituary of Mr. Safire recently, the phrase you quoted was described. I was but a boy (six), when the quote was used by Agnew, but my first response to the obit was that it was the only time outside of crosswords where I'd ever seen NABOBS used!

Jim in Chicago 10:07 AM  

A bloodbath in the NE. It all started when having ...ORIUM for the xray clue I took a stab at FLorium, which sounded as good as anything else. That left me with an F for the first word of the Garth Brooks clue, and I gleefully wrote in FRENCH, thinking "really? I had no idea.: LOL. I then was led astray by the Hershey's clue and it was all downhill from there. Finally had to Google the Garth clue to get back on track.

For the Mel Brooks clue I first had SATIRE, and was convinced that the N.E.A we were talking about was the National Endowment for the Arts, and couldn't figure out how to abbreviate Endowment in four letters.

The shampoo bottle clue reminds me of an old groaner of a joke.

Q: Why couldn't the programmer get out of the shower in the morning?

A: The shampoo bottle said "Lather, Rinse, Repeat." [rim shot].

Jeffrey 10:09 AM  

It's about TIME.

I'm here every day.

foodie 10:16 AM  

Perfect thursday experience for me. I had to move back and forth between the across and the down clues, each giving me a hint for the next answer as the puzzle unfolded steadily. Like Rex, I thought the theme was numerical at first, but even getting TIMEAFTERTIME did not dispel that guess, since I thought it would involve multiplying (including with fractions). I was pretty far along before I realized what it referred to.

I liked the definition of DOYENNE and the number of midsized real words/phrases stacked up next to each other in each of the corners. As BEQ said: Quality stuff.

@Michele, you make me feel I need to increase the diversity of my friends- I can't think of one who fits "depraved and murderous old friend with serious issues"...

@crosscan, and more than once-- time after..

Blackhawk 10:16 AM  

V nice puzzle, great fill, interesting answers. But seemed too easy for a Thursday. No rebus, no backwards words, no really hard clues. Seemed more like a clever Tuesday or Wednesday to me.

Long before Cyndi Lauper came along, there was an outstanding "Time After Time" by Chet Baker. Here's a link:

Smitty 10:19 AM  

@Jim - Ditto on the NE

I had Khorium, making Garth Brooks a Kurean (who knew?).

Elaine2 10:23 AM  

I liked this puzzle, but not Easy!

No Googles, but I had a "Natick-like" moment where TULSAN crossed ARPEL -- didn't know ARPEL, and somehow TULSAN didn't make sense to me (last night -- too late...) so finished with an error...

Oh, well. I do agree about Thorium, Vlad, Tiberius, Mace -- did seem a little gory last night....

slypett 10:31 AM  

You might use the word TORAHS, if you were speaking of a collection of the physical objects, the scrolls. Otherwise, you read the Torah at a service. Even if you were speaking of many venues, you would say, "They read the Torah at Beth Shalom and at Adath Israel," e.g.

Other than that S creating an opacity, I had to run to Auntie Google for ARPEL and ONUP.

Rex: MINEFIELD is one word.

Two Ponies 10:33 AM  

Good Thursday head-scratcher.
I was on the path of a numerical theme with halflife and doubleplay then air quality popped up so the search was on. I enjoyed solving the theme and the puzzle except for the NE. Loved doyenne but who is this Arpel guy and why should I know him?
Yesterday mooer and today we just moo.
Spray the odors of those ripe socks but not near an open flame!
James Bond used a lighter and an aerosol can to repel a poisonous snake in his shower once. Very clever. Does that really work? Must call Myth Busters.
Sorry to natter on. Too much coffee.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

I thought "Garth Brooks, by birth" referred to his name, given at birth, so _U_SAN could have turned into anything at all. That, plus _HORIUM and some unknown cosmetician, caused a triple Natick for me, but "thorium" seemed marginally more plausible than "chorium" or "rhorium;" the consequent T in 26A then signalled a geographic site for Mel Brooks, not the name on his birth certificate.

Incidentally, the Jewish Women's Archive site says, of Adrien ARPEL, "she believes that 'when you’re happy with yourself you make those around you happy,'"rather a nice thought to counterbalance this morning's smelly gym socks and painful blinding.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:53 AM  

Definitely on the high end of medium for me.

Even with my alleged scientific background, I resisted putting in THORIUM because it seemed to me more a source of radiation than a defense against it.

Since @ArtLvr beat me to an appreciation of Lovejoy, here is my YO TE AMO memory trigger.

fikink 11:12 AM  

This was a sweetheart of a puzzle, imo. The first T in TUTU was my last fill. Hand up for A JOB.

@Hudson Hawk, had the same reaction to the "Not just turn down" clue; all I could think of was "spurned."

Thanks for the Miles, Rex, it blends nicely with the overcast skies out here.

and @Blackhawk, thanks for the Chet Baker. That is the song I was thinking of when I did the puzzle. Forgot all about Lauper's.

jae 11:25 AM  

Easy for me except for (like some of you) NE which was more medium. Didn't get the theme until I was finished, but liked the puzzle.

@Two Ponies --I have actually used an aerosol can as a flame thrower.

I too put in AJOB and then reread the clue and saw it was 1967, several years after Get a Job came out.

treedweller 11:30 AM  

I have to both agree and disagree with Elaine today. NE was my downfall, too, and I had to google the cosmetician (Really? Is this person really fair game? ugh!). Nav. ACAD. is painful. And I had "ard" for ERN, to make that corner even worse. But YO TE AMO is perfectly legitimate Spanish. TE in this case is a direct object. Tu is the subjective form of "you."

Otherwise, I managed to work everything out eventually. My big slowdown outside the NE was SORBATE, where I started with "nitrate," then tried "sulfate." I was expecting to find neither is a food preservative, but it turns out that both are valid, so I feel a little better about that.

Definitely on the high side of medium for me. Since the theme is really "time after two other words" (okay, I admit I can see how it works, but it takes a minute) and the NE was so icky, I am voting No. When I look back, it's really not that bad up there, but googling on a Thursday just leaves a sour taste in my mouth, I guess.

treedweller 11:32 AM  

Well, technically, tú is the subjective form of you in Spanish.

Elaine 11:41 AM  

I had better use up my last post here to say SORRY! about the mini-rant. I obviously have forgotten more Spanish than I ever knew! I still twitch violently when I hear the term "subjunctive"...

To the NE: NO te amo.

Oh, thanks SO much for telling me you were SIX when Spiro Agnew was our smirking Veep. (I remember hearing about his resignation while driving out to the SW Ohio boonies where I was teaching; it made my day!) Oh, well. We can't all be sage old solvers...who don't remember their Spanish classes....

Noam D. Elkies 11:55 AM  

Neat Thursday theme. The NW was the hardest for me too.

The Japanese 5A/8D cross feels to me like a bug, not a feature; better the port than the Bean, at any rate. I too wondered whether 42D:NATTER (happily that was my first guess) is a hat tip to the late Safire. Wanted "raptor" for 43D:RATTER, especially when I couldn't remember the first vowel in 58A:LENI R.'s name. Turns out this meaning of "ratter" is not only inferable (as in "mouser") but even an explicit dictionary entry in! Was a bit surprised by 26D:THORIUM; I knew the word but thought of the metal as a source of radiation, not a shield against it. As for 37D:SORBATE, that's common on ingredients lists, which probably accounts for Elaine's recognition of the word.

Nice to see a Roman Emperor other than Nero in the grid (33D:TIBERIUS — though his Wikipage lists Nero as one of Tiberius's nomina), and an unusual clue for the familiar 58A:ETON.


Clark 12:24 PM  

While many basilicas may have that thingy on the top, many more are likely to have CUPOLAs in the sense:
A vaulted roof or ceiling. (American Heritage)
The inner vault of a dome. (Encyclopedia Britannica)
Seems to me.

I was undone in the NE. Put in KISS and couldn't get it out, though I tried several times. In any case I would never have gotten the TULSAN/ARPEL crossing.

@Frances -- I didn’t see that TULSAN was a place name rather than a person name until you said it. Doh! I still wouldn’t have gotten it.

PlantieBea 12:30 PM  

Medium-challenging Thursday for me. I struggled in the NE, especially with EPCOT of all things, but got the right answers, IN SPURTS...only to come here and find an error in the SE with LEONNE, LENN, DREE. I should have known DRED, but LENI and LEONID are new.

Nice Thursday, S. Atkinson.

Karen from the Cape 12:35 PM  

Easy for me, although you might not have guessed it when I threw down OCALA as tourist destination in Florida. I also tried ARDEN for the cosmetician, but wrong first name. My last letter was the cross between ARPEL/TULSAN; I was wondering if people from Tucson are called tucsans or tucsonians (anyone here from the SW?)

I completed the SW of the puzzle and then looked back to find the clue for TUTU. No problems with the potassium SORBATE (reading labels helps) or THORIUM (thank you Tom Lehrer). I've got potassium benzoate in my soda today.

OSAKA/KOBE didn't bother me any. Good puzzle overall.

edith b 12:37 PM  

It is a sign that you are doing too many puzzles when ARPEL immediately comes to mind and you don't know who he (or she ) is. My SIL is a Garth Brooks fan and I know he is from Oklahoma so TULSAN was a neon for me. Since my granddaughter is a big Rap fan there is a Clash of Tones around their home, I am sure.

I had no real issues with this one and managed to solve it without knowing what the theme was. More or less, just a fill-in-the-blanks exercise. I know I will have to concentrate come Friday, though.

mexgirl 12:37 PM  

I thought the NEA was the National Endowment for the Arts.
Is there another one?

CoolPapaD 12:52 PM  

@mexgirl - I always do the same thing when this comes up. This one refers to the National Education Association.

andrea chatter michaels 12:57 PM  

National Education Association...
which feels like it should be National EducationAL Association if you ask me!

Loved the theme and how you can get it to work. Still learning to embed, (I've got the bed part down which I'm still in) but my pal Michael Blake had a fabulous one where FIRE could be after one word and BEFORE the second one (which was in the LA Times last year).

That Nattering Nabob of Negativity was written by William Safire, just read that in his obit...
(oops, I see nde covered that but the time I typed up all those letters, so I refuse to erase!)

I was mildly intrigued that all they words for NATTER are so similar...NATTER, chatter, tattle, prattle, patter, flatter (?)
RATTER (in terms of selling someone out)
maybe it's slightly onomonopoetic? (sp?)

Scott Atkinson 1:11 PM  

Hi all couldn't resist taking a peek at what people thought. I have to take the blame for the NE, if that rankled. (And any other quadrant that failed to please for that matter). I had other choices up there, but felt that having DOYENNE,COLISEUM, and ALACARTE stacked would make up for the weaker entries. It's all a balancing game when it comes to making these things of course.

What's weird is that Adrienne ARPEL is a name so familiar to me I didn't even think twice. I think those years of watching The Price Is Right as a bored kid irrevocably engrained Estee, Max Factor, Arpel, and many other cosmeticians into my neural pathways

Thanks everyone for taking the time to discuss!

It probably goes without saying that Will S. is responsible for all of the clever clues.

Happy Thursday to all!

Jet City Gambler 1:19 PM  

TIBERIUS could also be clued as "Captain Kirk's middle name".

It kind of bugged me that the clue for 33-A (Repeatedly) had the word REPEAT three rows below it in the grid ...

foodie 1:24 PM  

@Scott Atkinson, always love hearing from the constructors. It was funny to see where you learned ARPEL. It popped into my head for unknown reasons, and come to think of it, that's exactly where I got it from!

The NE, IMHO, was fabulous...

Shamik 1:26 PM  

Today I just ignored the theme and didn't even see any help from it, but found the puzzle to be easy at 7:34. Interesting fill that you just don't see all that often: ARPEL, DOYENNE, THORIUM. I could just NATTER on about it, but i still have work to do. Bleh.

AV 1:52 PM  

Kudos to a fine puzzle! Loved the payoff in the center, which allowed me to merrily zip through the rest of the theme entries.

Keep them coming, Scott!

SethG 2:13 PM  

One of my problems in the NE: MAKE for MUTE. As in a bed. Another was DOUBLExxxx... is a double play really a feat? I think it's sub-feat level.

The Time rocks.

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

Arpel was a gimme but I still don't understand "ern" as a directional ending?

Clark 2:31 PM  

@Anonymous 2:26: northERN, eastERN, southERN, westERN.

mac 2:33 PM  

Good puzzle, good theme, no googles and just one complete guess: the "h" in thorium. Guess I don't know my drugs and metals.

No googles, but I also had lots of problems in the NE: Endt, short for Endowment??? Garth Brooks? For all I know he was an Itacan, a Kansan or a Utahan.

Another hand for having loved Lovejoy.

@Scott Atkinson: in the paper version the clue for 10D says Adrien, which completely threw me off. I know the name of the designer Adrienne Arpel, never knew she was a cosmetician.

Doug 2:36 PM  

DOUBLE PLAY is not a "baseball feat." In fact, it's pretty common if you check any box score. TRIPLE PLAY or PERFECT GAME is a baseball feat. Why not clue with "pitcher's best friend?" With the question mark, course.

retired_chemist 2:38 PM  

Good puzzle overall. On target for Thursday. Nothing too obscure, not many gimmes.

Bah, humbug @ 26D. Agree with Bob K. and Noam D. Elkies that THORIUM is disappointingly clued. More a source of radiation, yes. Wikipedia mentions its use as a radiation shield as #8 of 8 on its list of uses and then adds it is not used as much as lead or even depleted uranium. Knowing it has a high atomic number tells you it can be used this way, so it is a legitimate clue. However, it has the feel of the constructor going to Wikipedia and seeing just how obscurely he can clue it. At least its radioactivity fits with HALF LIFE (24A).

Do RATTERs ever NATTER? Does their chatter matter?

Unknown 2:47 PM  

watch deadwood! it's great.

George NYC 2:48 PM  
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George NYC 2:50 PM  

CUPOLAs are common adornments on top of old barns in New England (and elsewhere I would guess). They are usually, four-sided with shuttered "windows" with a weather vane on top.

George NYC 2:50 PM  
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Charles Bogle 2:55 PM  

Had experiences similar to elaine2, frances and noamd.elkies--NW was hardest spot for me and I came close to throwing in the towel. Also, got nearly-puzzled out on the science-related clues; wished I could trade places w our friend retired_chemist. Re the theme, didn't understand it until I read RP's explanation. Drat! Are vermin hunters really referred to as RATTERS? NATTER was nice-ode to late Safire's "nattering nabobs of negativism" Agnew-speak? Knew VLAD was impaler; didn't know he doubled as a dragon. Really liked INSPURTS, IMEANIT, DOYENNE. Say- on a Thursday, aren't there a host of ways GEICO could have been more cleverly-clued? Overall, any Thurs Fri puzzle I complete is a personally rewarding feat!

chefwen 3:00 PM  

Started out with a mess - fell into the kiss/ROLO trap, had natl. instead of EDUC, aetna for GEICO, so it took me a while to sort all that slop out. Got the theme and enjoyed the rest of the solve. Confess to googling ARPEL and husband helped with TIBERIUS.

Two thumbs up.

Stan 3:08 PM  

Re: 34D

Here's a link (for punk-rock fans only).

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

@Clark thanks for the explanation
@Doug - that's why I had triple Play!

abnorma 3:18 PM  

@XMAN, I agree with your explanation of Torah/Torahs, but I would only add that the Talmud is not read at services!

andrea-esque michaels 3:20 PM  

North-ern, South-ern, East-ern, West-ern..please consult your Compass Rose :)

(Now that I've l-ern-ed that term I will use it whenever I can)

Add Mutter, sputter to my list above of words like NATTER that all sound the same...

Fabulous fill with a couple of bleedovers: IANs MOOed and another I can't remember.

I always want to spell CUPOLA with another P or two L's. Maybe bec of Francis Ford?

Yes, thanks for chiming in and explaining why those of us who knew ARPEL why we knew her...Yay childhood gameshow watching paying off!

I like how you write.
There WAS a very dark underbelly to this puzzle, but really sophisticated fill!
(Will could have made it even more ominous by cluing KOBE as a rapist)

I tried RIPT for the socks at first, and the usually too-Jewish in me was suppressed and I held on to PSALMS instead of TORAHS for too long...
I agree with you about the plural there)

Moment of synchronicity?
As I was typing up my first comment this morning, I was called in to work at TIME Magazine today!

joho 3:22 PM  

@Charles Bogle ... I once had a Jack Russell Terrier ... they are definitely referred to as RATTERS.

sanfranman59 3:24 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Thu 17:30, 18:50, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 8:48, 9:10, 0.96, 42%, Medium

This one will probably wind up in the Easy-Medium range for the top 100 solvers come days end.

Retired_Chemist 3:28 PM  

re 31A - just MOO? That's all there is? There isn't any MOOER?

Like Crosscan, I'm here every day too.

slypett 3:39 PM  

andrea "bee" michaels: onomatopoeia.

I always have to look it up.

Joe Palooka 3:43 PM  

@Andrea God I love to Read Your Comments Michaels, 3;20 PM -

You got a beef with KOBE?

SethG 3:53 PM  

I listened to Heartbreaker today too, Stan. Just, singular. By Benatar. It's Surly Time!

TORAHS people, I see your point, but I think the clue is fine. You read the Torah at a service, but the clue specifies multiple services. On some holidays, members of my family hear the Torah read from Torahs in Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, and San Francisco. I presume other families hear readings from the Bible using Bibles in different locations. Either the Torah or the Bible is both a body of wisdom and law and a physical object.

chefbea 3:57 PM  

Didn't get the theme till I came here. Tough puzzle and almost finished with out googling. Had to look up a couple - Dred and Leonid.

Love taco salad

archaeoprof 4:45 PM  

The clue for 1A made me think of that hilarious Bud Light "Real Men of Genius" commercial about "Mr Taco Salad Inventor."

"It's got tons of calories and tons of fat, but is it good for you? Of course it is: it's a salad."

Anonymous 4:49 PM  



大陸新娘 外籍新娘 越南新娘 中國新娘優質婚姻網站

andrea gameface michaels 5:07 PM  

The more I look at today's grid, the more I find things to love about it in addition to the theme.
(it's so hard to find two phrases with TIME and then to combine them in non-awkward compound is fabulous)

Plus all the rest of the fill is balanced with REPEAT/DITTO,
RIPE/ODORS, THORIUM/SORBATE (whatever the hell those things are)

Only 30 black squares (as opposed to 40 yesterday)
(That's me trying to be more constructor-y)

And now I can see all the bleedovers, there are so many today, it fits in with the bloody mess undertone.
TOE! in almost the same position as yesterday.
So IANs, MOOer and TOE all from a fourth: ACTONE!
Mysteriously, Wednesday's ACTONE was spelled ACTI!!!!!

@Joe Palooka
Ha! I even have a beef with Kobe beef.
Tho I prefer a puzzle filled with murderers and rapists and nazi-sympathizing filmmakers to yet another one about baseball!

Scott Atkinson 5:24 PM  

@andrea-Your kind words made my day! Kobe beef and Kobe Bryant both turn my stomach as well. What's a (mostly) vegetarian, non-hoops fan cluer to do with KOBE?

@archaeoprof I can hardly control my laughter enough to type right here!

Hobbyist 5:33 PM  

I know you people are way more sophisticated and urbane than I but what's with the Chinese posts? Maybe the characters relate to the puzzles? Me,the rube, i just don't get it.

HudsonHawk 5:38 PM  

@Hobbyist, judging by the exclamation points in the beginning, it's probably Andrea. ;)

foodie 5:55 PM  

@archaeoprof, I learned that salad lesson again this past weekend. NY, bless its brilliance, now makes all restaurant chains list calories right on the menu. So, while having a late breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien,I'm dutifully headed for a salad with goat cheese when I notice that it has more calories than the quiche!

George NYC 5:58 PM  

Courtesy Google translater, it's spam for an Asian bride scam.

Aaron Riccio 6:04 PM  

Really? You guys all thought this one was *easy*? I've been bagging ~22 minutes for Thursday for a while now, and I'm getting all depressed about it. Needed a nice, easy, reassuring puzzle for my birthday--not something that would make me feel all old.

Stan 6:04 PM  

@SethG: Yes, Pat B is also pretty awesome. Grrr.

@Hobbyist: Seriously, this Chinese stuff is spam and could be dangerous. (Well maybe not, I don't know for sure but it sure looks that way). Just don't go clicking any links.

Let me echo the comments about this puzzle's complexity/density/darkish tone. Quite an accomplishment!

retired_chemist 6:26 PM  

@ Inquiring minds -

Some might like George NYC's précis extended. Anon 4:49 says:

Years, brides from mainland China and Vietnam brides describe their experiences, legitimate marriage agencies, serious, professional matchmaking site with more foreign brides marriage and the Association of Taiwan to cooperate, this site is from the mainland set up by the local matchmaker Taiwan, located in Guangxi Province, near Vietnam Hanoi, marry foreign brides married through the site directly to the exotic, and to cut the middle part of Taiwan's foreign brides marriage agency, you can save money, all over Taiwan, has served our guests, if necessary, to provide telephone inquiries, and our reputation stand the test of time and can you recommend a good reputation in Taiwan legitimate marriage association staff to serve you and hope we let you through the most cost-effective way to find the ideal partner, able to provide a nice ring to matchmaking, foreign marriage will accompany Welcome marriage for the purpose of marriage with a serious attitude, responsible, determined to single men to marry foreign brides in Taiwan to contact us, we will sincerely serve you!

The mainland Chinese bride bride bride from Vietnam, high-quality foreign brides marriage site.

Now, HOW can you refuse such an offer?

Martin 6:31 PM  

Just a week or so ago, I was at a (Yom Kippur) service, and they read from two Torahs. The readings for holidays often require two scrolls because they comprise non-contiguous portions.

Anonymous 7:57 PM  

Mooer yesterday and moo today?
To err is human, to moo bovine.

joho 8:20 PM  

@Squeek ... groan ... in a good way.

@Aaron Riccio ... Happy Birthday!

3 and out.

joho 8:20 PM  
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joho 8:20 PM  
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Rex Parker 8:41 PM  

How's this for coincidence: my wife brought home two stray dogs this evening. A basset hound and a RATTER (aka Jack Russell). I am really really hoping they aren't in my house tomorrow night. Four dogs = too much for even this dog lover. Also, Jack Russell, sweeeet as she is, wants to eat my chocolate lab's face. And by "eat" I mean not "lick" but "bite off and devour." If the JR were not laughably small it would be scary. The bassett is also a sweetie, but he pees, both offensively and defensively and ... well, he just pees. He's the only male of the pack. These dogs clearly were / are somebodies pets. Really hope we find the owners tomorrow.

Charles Bogle 9:30 PM  

@joho and RP..thanks for enlightening me on to learn here/good luck w those strays RP
@ScottAtkinson: many thanks for excellent puzzle AND for visiting with us; it's great to read how the constructor goes about things

liquid el lay 9:32 PM  

Anyone bugged by sloppy scientific cluing? It happens a lot.

HALFLIFE is not a period, really- it's a rate. A convention for describing the inverse-rate-of-decay.

A TSUNAMI, a SOUND, an EARTHQUAKE are types of waves; the SINE is a type of wave form.

Or is this nattering over nits?

Also, why clue RIPE so ugly?

Good to see MOO, the (sound) wave of our old friend the MOOER.

I think TUTU with its cluing, cross ESQUE is kind of exquisite.

Noam D. Elkies 9:33 PM  

Ouch, I goofed: I meant the Japanese Kobe/Osaka pairing was a feature, not a bug. Argh, I thought I proofread it. (At least the errors I did catch didn't get posted...) Sorry :-(

@retired_chemist: I figured the same thing re high atomic number. Then again plutonium has an even higher, and I hope nobody's using that as a radiation shield — PU!


sanfranman59 9:53 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 7:13, 6:59, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 10:40, 8:34, 1.25, 95%, Challenging
Wed 10:49, 11:46, 0.92, 32%, Easy-Medium
Thu 17:44, 18:51, 0.94, 36%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:45, 3:42, 1.01, 60%, Medium
Tue 4:58, 4:24, 1.13, 83%, Challenging
Wed 5:28, 5:48, 0.94, 35%, Easy-Medium
Thu 8:19, 9:08, 0.91, 22%, Easy-Medium

retired_chemist 9:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 9:55 PM  

@ NDE - agreed that a high at. no. is a necessary but not a sufficient property for a good radiation shield. Pu would certainly have a lot of drawbacks....

mac 10:10 PM  

@foodie: I just love that chain, Le Pain Quotidien, and most of their food is not too caloric. People make mistakes about salads all the time. Have a steamed veg, much better for you.

I think it is quite remarkable how right Rex has been about the rating most days.

@liquid el lay: where you thinking tutu and arabesque?

mac 10:29 PM  

@liquid el lay: were..... I should review.

liquid el lay 10:33 PM  

@ mac,

I like the curling nature of ESQUE, it seems SINuous and yes, somewhat exotic. It works with the twirling TUTU. When I see
"-esque" I think something like "it turns on (the object)". Also, I saw the word burlesque in the esque. It turns on it.

liquid el lay 10:38 PM  

@ mac,
I'm guessing now that arabesque is a type of dance. Man, I like words.

mac 10:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
liquid el lay 11:02 PM  


• noun 1 Ballet a posture in which one leg is extended horizontally backwards and the arms are outstretched. 2 an ornamental design consisting of intertwined flowing lines. 3 Music a passage with a highly ornamented melody.

— ORIGIN French, from Italian arabesco ‘in the Arabic style’.

from Compact Oxford English Dictionary

mac 11:02 PM  

@liquid el lay: that's why we come here. We all do.
From my Saturday morning dance/Pilates class I gathered that it's a position in dance.

slypett 12:31 AM  

SethG: The clue went something like "They're read at services." The USAGE is Torah in the singular, just as it is Bible: "They read the Torah in x, y, z venues." I may have stolen all the torah scrolls in metropolitan Boston, and intend to hold them for ransom, but I have not, in any sense, stolen the Torah (the Bible, the Koran, etc.). The distinction is in the spirit of the thing.

slypett 12:43 AM  

Martin: The opacity of your post is exceeded only by your good looks. I get that they use more than one scroll, but it is still one Torah.

slypett 12:44 AM  

Anonymouse: Thou grow'st more subtle by the day.

slypett 12:47 AM  

Rex: Omigod! But such a wonderful, mysterious wife!

Robin 1:02 AM  

@Rex..Get them scanned for a microchip

Martin 1:41 AM  


If I understand, you accept senses 1 and 2 and reject 3:


Despite the use of sense 3 ("The congregants push to the aisles so as not to miss the chance to kiss both Torahs"), I'm sure the spirit of the Torah will survive.

slypett 9:40 AM  

Martin: "But, Lord, I weary of this exchange of wit. My poor head fairly bursts and I would fain lay my barbs down."

bill komissaroff 1:48 PM  

Stop whatever you are doing and go out and buy/rent/Netflix Deadwood. Great show and Ian McShane is brilliant in it. One of the best anti-heroes ever on TV.

I agree with previous commentor about the third season. Unfortunately the series fizzled out. David Milch wanted a fourth season but could not come to a contractual agreement with HBO and then became distracted by that horribly unwatchable surfing(?) show he did next. As a result, he tried to jam too much into Deadwood's third season (I.E. the whole theater storyline).

Nullifidian 8:23 PM  

Writing from syndication-land:

I just gave blood today and all the hanging around I did before and after gave me ample time to finish this puzzle.

I found this one came down on the easier side for me. My two trouble spots were 44D: ACTONE and 37D: SORBATE. I knew potassium sulfide, more familiarly known as potash, was a food preservative, so I input that as soon as I got 37A: SINE. And that fell from just the I in TIBERIUS, which was today's gimme for me. Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars is one of my favorite works of nonfiction.

ACT ONE was hard because I initially read the clue as "Where Romeo meets Juliet", not "When". With six letters and the O and N already filled in from ETON and LENI, I figured it was in fair "Verona" where we lay this crossword answer. I realized I was wrong when I tried to make "Verona" fit with LEONID Andreyev. That terminal -VL set alarms ringing.

I liked the new innovation on a fairly standard theme, where both halves of each answer fit the theme. That was cleverly done. And there was good, solid fill all the way through with no clunkers or inaccuracies that I could see. First rate.

Singer 10:13 PM  

I am really late from syndication land. I had a meeting out of town and had to leave before I finished the puzzle. Did most of it while waiting for the proposal to be bound - in about 10 minutes did all but the NE. Came home to the NE and "easy" went way out the window. Had kiss, never heard of ROLO or ARPEL. Did eventually get EDUC althouth thought it was National Endowment of the Arts for too long. Eventually Googled ARPEL and ROLO, after which it came together, but not easy. Dang!!

jered 2:55 AM  

It's November 12, and my local paper just had this in as the "new york times" puzzle of the day. I'm not sure if they run in syndicate at different times, but I was searching for "caligula's predecessor" to get a section of the puzzle unstuck and this was the first hit.

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