Her alter ego is Princess Adora — SAT., Oct 24 2009 — Ugly Dungeons & Dragons figure / Singer Aguilera self-referentially / Baby Hold On hitmaker 1978

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SHE-RA (48A: Her alter ego is Princess Adora)

She-Ra is a fictional character and the heroine in the Filmation cartoon and series of toys produced by Mattel called She-Ra: Princess of Power. She is the alter ego of Princess Adora and the twin sister of He-Man (Prince Adam). She-Ra was intended to appeal to young girls in the same way that He-Man appealed to young boys. // She-Ra is introduced in the animated movie The Secret of the Sword as Force Captain Adora, an agent of the Evil Horde that rules the planet Etheria. She discovers that she is the long-lost sister of Prince Adam of Eternia, having been stolen by the Horde's leader, Hordak, as a baby. She is granted the Sword of Protection, which parallels He-Man's Sword of Power, gaining the power to transform into She-Ra, her secret identity. (wikipedia)


Yet another week where the Saturday puzzle takes me far less time than the Friday. I hope this Bizarro Crossworld situation doesn't hold much longer, although having Saturday's puzzle come as a kind of relief is nice, in its way. Today's puzzle is freakishly heavy on the names, particularly the musical names (of which I count at least five). TINA TURNER (15A: Singer born Anna Mae Bullock) over EDDIE MONEY (17A: "Baby Hold On" hitmaker, 1978) was very easy for me — my peak pop music knowledge runs from about '78-'86, and both EDDIE and TINA were huge in that period. XTINA (30A: Singer Aguilera, self-referentially) over SPADER (33A: "The Practice" and "Boston Legal" Emmy winner) a bit tougher, if only because I've never ever seen XTINA as an expression of "Christina" (SPADER was actually a gimme). Is "XTINA" an album title? No... "referred to herself," like in writing? When does she write her name for everyone to see? That "XTINA" bit merits barely a mention in the Wikipedia write-up, though apparently she has a tattoo of "XTINA" somewhere on her body, so I guess that gives the answer some permanence. It's easy to infer "XTINA" from "Christina," but that's a pretty damned obscure factoid. Aguilera was recently a guest judge on "Project Runway." TINA and XTINA in same grid ... not sure about that.

I'm guessing that if people had any real problems with names today, they came around the SHE-RA-over-YANN section. I was lucky enough to be able to guess SHE-RA, Princess of Power. YANN (54A: "Life of Pi" author _____ Martel) is a name I put out of my mind (happily) as I did not care for that book at all. Everyone (it seemed) loved it and I just didn't get what all the fuss was about. Don't even remember if I finished (I'm betting not). In the end, I was saved by the SEA HAG (42D: Ugly Dungeons & Dragons figure). How ironic. Wait. Maybe I was saved by Chrissie HYNDE (49D: Chrissie of the Pretenders). Yeah, I like that story better.

Other trouble spots for me included the SW south of BROAD. None of those Downs wanted to come Down and play. I couldn't parse 34D: Creation of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 at all. I thought "how does the CREATION of the Act have a name?" But no, the ACT was doing the creating, specifically creating the JOB CORPS, which I got only because I've got a good deal of French under my belt. PEUR (58A: Fear, to François) = gimme. AIR DRIES (35D: Hangs up after agitating?) had one of those wicked clues that look like nonsense until you get the right answer, and then seem obvious. Wanted CLOSE OUT to have something to do with CLOTHES, possibly (36D: Bargain hunter's bonanza). Last stand was in the NE, specifically the "T" and "M" in POSTMARK (14D: Prepare for delivery). Couldn't make since of 26A: Glass top (rim) — top of *a* glass, not a top *made* of glass — and so thought [Prepare for delivery] might have something to do with a van making a delivery ("... PARK?") or a ship delivering passengers to shore ("...BARK?"). Eventually decided that WILT was right at 21A: Word before thou, and then ran letters in my head to get the (now obvious) "M" in POSTMARK.

What else?

  • 1A: High definition storage medium (Blu Ray Disc) — have been talking about getting a player recently, and was actually looking at some players yesterday, so this medium was fresh on my mind. Like the techno angle today with this answer and TREOS (32A: Alternatives to iPhones) and even TEEVEE (41D: Nonhuman baby sitter?). Only real problem is that with iPhones and iPod in the clues today (23D: iPod attachments => EAR BUDS), puzzle starts to look a little bit like it's shilling for Mac (an old accusation that was more common when IMAC was a more common answer ... what happened to IMAC, gridwise? They still make them, you know). Speaking of shilling for Mac, I'm off to the Apple Store in Syracuse today (mmmm, maybe tomorrow) so they can help me set up my new laptop / transfer data from this steam-driven beast I'm working on now. Half my blogging time these days (or so it seems) is spent waiting for this damned machine to catch up with me. No more.
  • 56A: Dupe's exclamation ("I've been had!") — love it. Feels very old-fashioned, in a good, crime fictiony kind of way.
  • 29D: Prussian prohibition ("Nein!") — I guessed this easily enough, but ... Prussia? Is that still a place?
  • 11D: Old World duck (smew) – from the pre-Shortzian Crosswordese vault comes this oddity. If you wait long enough, you will eventually see SMEW's "Old World" cousin, a blackbird known as ANI. Appropriately, both answers are now Old World Crossword Fill (for the most part). [Dang! I screwed up — ANI is explicitly a "New World cuckoo"; new, old ... I knew it was one of those worlds]
  • 12D: It begins where a person hails from (taxi ride) — yes, nice clue.
  • 31D: Soviet agency created from Rosta (Tass) — TASS is a "Soviet agency" that I know of, and I figured it out from crosses. Other common crossword fill hiding behind toughish late-week clues includes AD IN (19A: Situation before many a game is won), MEESE (22A: Cabinet chief between Smith and Thornburgh), and SDS (27A: It spawned the Weather Underground Org.).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


imsdave 8:08 AM  

Two TINA's is too many. Got lucky on the HYNDE/YANN cross guessing the Y (IANN looks as probable as YANN).

Rex, if you need a workout, try Mr. Peterson's puzzle over at Newsday.

VaBeach puzzler 8:35 AM  

Bizarre bit: While I was doing the puzzle last night, and just after I had given up on 49D, Jay Leno was trivia quizzing guest Colin Firth. Q: Who was the only non-British member of the Pretenders? Answer? 49D, of course. How's that for "divine" intervention? Too bad I had just googled it...

Elaine 8:41 AM  

Only one of these names was familiar to me: MEESE. That's MY era. HYNDE and YANN--neither common or even guessable--were unkindly crossing.

PEUR is hardly a common French word, and it crosses STRS. (Stars?) I tried SLNS for sea lanes, though I was pretty sure that it would not hold up. And then SSTS? were those really cruisers?

There were some nice clues, but it seemed like extra garbage in a lot of corners. Meh.

Jerry 8:52 AM  

What about 18 across? - Item(s?) of the past....

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Jerry - Item of the past (a couple) is now two EXES.

JannieB 9:02 AM  

Uncle! -- this took sooooo much longer than yesterday. Funny, I usually love a name-packed puzzle - but today it was not very helpful. Only name I knew without crosses was Spader.

The SE was the first quadrant done, then the SW, and NE. I stared at the NW for an eternity until things fell into place.

My thoughts today were like Rex's yesterday - lots of hard work but not very much fun.

retired_chemist 9:22 AM  

Oh, easy/medium for Leonardo!

I totally bombed. Rex's comment about the SE held true for me. YANN - WTF. HYNDE - didn't know. SEA HAG was OLD HAG first. SHE-RA - no clue. "Busy" as a clue for ORNATE would have been clever semi-misdirection in a region less opaque to me. In this case it just added to my misery. Errors in the SW were just that - my errors. Started with CUBA as a guess for 6D, left the B (YUBA CITY is real and in N. Cal., close enough to where Chávez did his thing), and opted for spelling CRYER with an I insted of a Y. Never heard of EDDIE MONEY and was happy enough with EDDIE BONEI, of whom NONE of us have heard.

Several googles, mistakes left uncorrected, I am abashed, Ms. Gamache's puzzles are usually fun to solve, and so would this have been, except for the overabundance of names I just. did. not. know.

Karen from the Cape 9:22 AM  

I've definitely seen Xtina before--I think on blogs and entertainment 'reporting', perhaps in celeb magazines too.

Unlike yesterday's puzzle, I could finish this one without googling. Overall I enjoyed it.

And seeing She-ra as the WOTD makes me feel as though I wasted my youth in the eighties on Hasbro cartoons.

Elaine 9:35 AM  

Hmmm.. not sure knowing SHE-RA is a worthy goal for this old lady. Why are we not filling minds with, at the least, real people's stories?

grouse, grouse...

I really chimed in to say: in my courses on Biblical history and theology, I used Xian as an abbreviation...so when I got the X going down, I realzed Xina would work. Rather enjoyed getting that--since it did not happen a lot with this puzzle!

CoolPapaD 9:39 AM  

For the second day in a row (unprecedented for me), I finished FRI-SAT, and enthusiastically ran here without checking my answers, and for the second day in a row, had a stupid error that easily could have been avoided! I'm not complaining...

The heavy music fill was what brought this to a doable level for me - I think I'm slightly older than Rex, but one of our homecoming themes from the early 80's was EDDIE MONEY's "Two Tickets to Paradise." I knew the TINA TURNER answer immediately - not sure why, and the PEETE SEEGER fell with only a few letters. Chrissie HYNDE is a NE Ohio girl, where I HAIL FROM, so all those provided a nice starting point.

Oyez, Oyez, Oyez - isn't CRYER supposed to be CRIER??

Leslie 9:49 AM  

pednsg, re "cryer," that's exactly what I thought. The town crier, right? No? And I was a little bit "hmm" at "bed table" instead of "nightstand."

I was pleasantly surprised that I could pull "Eddie Money" out of the memory vault for "Baby Hold On." And pleased, but not surprised, that the venerable Pete Seeger wrote "Turn, Turn, Turn."

Loved the clue and answer for "air dries," and also liked "sell-by date."

chefbea 10:02 AM  

Easier than yesterday but still had to google. wanted line drys or drip drys

Didn't understand exes til I got here. Thanks anon 8:57

bookmark 10:03 AM  

I had a difficult time with this one. Too many names I didn't know, like XTINA,HYNDE, SHERA, but the others were fairly easy.

Like retired_chemist, I had Cuba for YUMA (at least it rhymes). Also wrote A TIE for A DIN for 19 across.

My favorites: Cover of the Colosseum? (TOGA), and They have tops and bottoms (INNINGS).

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Grease gun yes oil gun no way. I know Jiffy Lube and others dispense oil through a hose but oil gun no way. How about air dries after spinning? Golfballman

The Corgi of Mystery 10:13 AM  

Re: Christina Aguilera; she also had a song on her Christmas album titled Xtina's Xmas (Yes, I am ashamed that I know this).

Lawrie 10:28 AM  
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joho 10:28 AM  

@The Corgi of Mystery ... I thought that Xtina had to be a play on Xmas. Thanks for verifying.

I got SHERA, but never realized that it's SHE-RA until coming here.

I love the Pretenders so HYNDE was a gimme, making that part of the puzzle very doable.

I solved all but the NW. Just call me stupid. I wouldn't let CUBA go and had ATEAM .... so, in case you didn't know, a high-def storage medium is an ALURAC DISC. What's frustrating is I know who EDDIE MONEY is ... but just let him be EDDIE BONEY. Hmmmmm .....

@Elaine... I think STRS is for straights.

Thanks, Paula ... I enjoyed it!

Orange 10:29 AM  

My dictionary says CRYER is an archaic spelling of "crier," hence the "old" in the clue. It could also have been clued as actor Jon, but Paula and Will were probably glad for non-name clueing options given how many (delicious) names were in the grid.

I don't know any Aguilera songs, having seen her only on a network New Year's Eve show—but between Entertainment Weekly and the Go Fug Yourself site, I know she's Xtina. Really not clear on how she's different from Lady Gaga, though.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:36 AM  

(Slightly) easier than yesterday, but that didn't make it easy.

Finished with three write-overs: OILCAN before OILGUN, BIKINIS before INNINGS, and META goal before SETA, and one wrong letter, at the crossing of HYNDE and YANN, since HINDE and IANN both sounded perfectly reasonable and perfectly unknown to me.

ArtLvr 10:38 AM  
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ArtLvr 10:43 AM  

I had only the error noted above by imsdave, guessing Iann for YANN, since the crossing HYNDE was unknown to me also. One letter wrong, not bad.

JACOBIN was my favorite, maybe word of the day for some... relating to the Reign of Terror, PEUR!

@ joho -- re STRS: I like your idea of Straits as sea lanes, though we can "navigate" streets too!


Lawrie 10:43 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle except the Y of Hynde and Yann was a Natick for me (and I ended up with an I instead of a Y). To be accurate for me, it would have to be some other obscure town, since I actually live in a town abutting Natick, MA (on the Boston Marathon route).

PlantieBea 10:45 AM  

I made a TAXI LINE, a LIP on the glass top, and a POST PACK for ready delivery. Didn't know SPADER so the resulting Spanec looked fine by me.

SethG 10:48 AM  

PETE SEEGER wrote the music, someone much, much, much older wrote the lyrics.

I like SMEW more than ANI. It's Eurasian. RIOT, from Seattle, is the #1 seed in the Women's division at next week's national Ultimate championship tournament.

Yes, SO much easier than yesterday.

Ruth 10:56 AM  

Heck, PEUR is a common-enough French word that I know it, and I know almost no French (took one year and audited the 2nd semester and didn't work at it much therefore). Sounds like a slasher movie tag line--"How many words do you know for FEAR???"

Understatementjones 11:02 AM  

I really wanted a pun for the first clue, so I had DICTIONARY for "high definition storage medium". The other big trouble was TAXIRIDE, for which I had, at points, TAXIFARE and TAXILINE. Troubling.

poc 11:19 AM  

Rex's mental universe and mine don't seem to overlap much; I found this one fairly Challenging and no mistake. Still, several million points out of 10 for the lack of sports clues (BTEAMS doesn't count).

I know virtually no German, but is NEIN a prohibition? I thought it just meant "No" as in "Sprechen sie Deutsch? Nein".

slypett 11:21 AM  

Yuck-. How does SOD thicken a plot? And all the names, each un raison de Google!

Norm 11:27 AM  

@XMAN I think "garden plot" was meant, but SOD doesn't really "thicken" it. Peat moss maybe. Or maybe adding sod to a plot of ground thickens it by making the top level farther away from the center of the earth? Weak, but that's all I've got.

Norm 11:29 AM  

All the names made this one not easy for me, but all came readily enough from a few crosses, so I have to agree with Rex's overall rating and enjoyed it overall.

Chorister 11:35 AM  

Could not get much traction in this one. Probably shouldn't try to solve with a migraine.

Gimmes: YUMA cuz I'm from a little Ca town near there.
And FANBELT because the alternator fell off my car this week.

Elzie Crisler Segar 11:37 AM  

Sea Hag has had the following clues:

Sunday, December 15, 2002 95D "The Little Mermaid" villainess

Thursday, August 03, 2000 52A Crone

Friday, April 16, 1999 30D Popeye's female foe in early comics

Two Ponies 11:39 AM  

Not so much fun today.
Nyet for nein made that little area a real mess. I'm not up on my cell phones so the Y seemed plausible.
No reason in my little galaxy to EVER know she-ra and I don't care. Don't care about Xtina either.
The only sea hag I know is from Popeye.
Time for chores and errands with Wait, Wait and Car Talk on the radio.

Shamik 12:05 PM  

Easy-medium? Not in my world. Definitely a challenging puzzle for me today and that's with the HYNDE/YANN Natick. An "I" seemed plausible. And I arrived at HINDE after a previous spelling.

@SethG: Agreed that the lyrics are far older than the birth of Pete Seeger.

Started yesterday's puzzle and saved it to finish later. Looks to be quite a stumper. Husband was ready to go out 4-wheeling in the Jeep. Hmmm...take the Jeep out into the desert on a beautiful 80 degree day vs. sit in a darkened room lit by the eerie glow of the laptop? Now that's a stumper.

Had TAOS before YUMA and I live in Arizona. Oops.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

i mostly liked this puzzle, but CRYER is weak and crossing SSTS/STRS is definitely not worth the just-OK SW that it gives you. NE is great tho

Jeffrey 12:08 PM  

Knew the names and know my french, so this one was Saturday smooth.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 12:20 PM  

Utterly loved it. When you compare it to yesterday's clearly-Auto-filled snooze-a-thon, this one was brimming with freshness and lively entries. Just when I thought I'd exhausted the multi-word phrases in the long entries, there'd be others in the crossings. Bravo, Paula.

mccoll 12:22 PM  

What happened to the Natick principle in the SE? Or as the young are prone to say WTF? SHE-RA, HYNDE, YANN and SEAHAG? Thank goodness for good old PETESEEGER or I'd have been lost. I must be old, I knew Tina Turner as well. One google required for SPADER, but all in all a nice workout for Saturday morning.
Mechanics talk about grease guns but not oil guns, by the way.
@ bookmark 19a parses as AD IN from tennis, but you knew that.
Thanks PG and everyone else.

dk 12:40 PM  

SMEW is not this man's meat.

I asked the step twins who Aguilera was and lovely wife responded oh XTINA.

And, BEDABLE was a WTF moment pour moi and it is mildly interesting to note Hugh Hefner is featured in NYT today.

Boring story alert

My son was a big He-Man fan. One of his Aunts (in a fit of feminism) gave him She-Ra. Son thought SHE-RA would be a good match for Stinkor (villain covered with green felt with an odor). On a car trip he and a friend held a wedding in the back seat.

Note: We were going to Parkers the best maple sugar and pancake place in New Hampshire.

The ceremony ended when SHE-RA bit off Stinkors head (kids version of Natl. Geographic featured the Praying Mantis that month). This resulted in Stinkor being thrown under the front seat and remaining there for about two weeks. The tell tale odor of Stinkor was still in the car when I traded it in for a "fresher model" some years later, Thus I will always remember She-Ra.

Great puzzle even if I was felled by an old duck.

sanfranman59 12:49 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)

Sat 26:27, 26:45, 0.99, 50%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Sat 16:28, 16:31, 1.00, 54%, Medium

Like Rex, online solvers are finding today's puzzle easier than yesterday's. It's certainly been an odd week, puzzle difficulty-wise.

This Friday-Saturday sequence has me feeling good about my week in crossworld. No Googles yesterday and only one today. In spite of HYNDE and PETESEEGER being gimmes for me, I was stymied in the SE by SHERA/YANN/SEAHAG and the PEUR/STRS crossing was a bit of a guess. I didn't think an OILGUN was a real thing. But having just Googled it, I see that it is. I used to use grease guns when I worked as a millwright in a coke plant during summers in my college years. So I know they exist.

HudsonHawk 1:10 PM  

Nice Saturday workout from Paula G. I had LIMA before YUMA, and MUD before SOD. One of these days, I will learn to parse SHE-RA. Sheba and Shena just weren't working.

As SethG and Shamik pointed out, PETE SEEGER was kickin' it Old Testament. About 300 B.C.

@ACME, the front page of today's NYT Arts section has an article about the popularity of NPR's "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me". Of course, PAULA Poundstone is pictured, but she's not as funny as you are.

foodie 1:15 PM  

I'VE BEEN HAD! Well, by my own crazy brain... I was sure there was such a person as TINA TUCKER, and she messed me up for a bit, though I recovered. JACOBIN, PEUR and TREOS helped complete the whole west. But the YANN/SHERA neighborhood was, as Rex predicted, impossible.

Why is DANDER Irish?

Rex, I love, love, my MacBook Air...

And SanFranMan-- I'll bite. A milright in a coke plant???

jeff in chicago 1:15 PM  

A one-Google Saturday. I'll take it! Liked the clues for TAXIRIDE and BEDTABLE. Not sold on OILGUN. TINA over EDDIE...I'd like to hear that duet!

@Orange: XTINA v. Gaga? Christina can outsing the Lady by miles.

Had MUD for SOD off the D. Agree that SOD doesn't seem to thicken. But MUD is thick dirt, right? A total guess on SHERA and knowing HYNDE got that corner to work out.

Re: TEEVEE -- Read this story in the NYT today. And parents...NO TV - NONE, ZERO, ZILCH! - THE FIRST TWO (some say three) YEARS!!!!

Clark 1:17 PM  

The whitehouse chief of staff is not the chief of the cabinet and is not even a member of the cabinet, strictly speaking. If he were he would be subject to senate confirmation. He is said to have, on the Whitehouse website, "the status of Cabinet-rank." And I guess that is good enough for a Saturday.

@xman @norm -- How about SOD as something that can thicken a plot of ground that is covered only thinly, patchily with grass. That works for me.

Greene 1:25 PM  

Could not make heads or tails of this last night. What a difference a good night's sleep can make. Took a fresh look this morning, ripped out all the incorrect answers, and finished in about 30 minutes.

Like many, I struggled with the SE corner, but I knew SHE-RA from watching cartoons with my daughter years ago and I thought SOD had an amusing clue. I was just left with that pesky "Y" crossing at HYNDE and YANN, both of which were unknown to me. After running through all my vowels 3 or 4 times, I suddenly remembered to try "Y." Looked better than anything else and turned out to be right.

Great puzzle Paula. You almost had me on this one. Enjoyed the workout immensely (well, this morning more than last night).

mac 1:25 PM  

Good, fresh puzzle, and not girly, with the innings which I also thought were bikinis.

The many names caused me problems, as well. Had Cuba, oilpan, ESPN for toga, and while I could visualize his smug face, I didn't know Spaders name. Xtine was a guess that made sense. Forgot about Yann although I bought the book for my son. Love Jacobin, berserk, and "Lee side".

I think it is a night table or a bedside table, bedtable sounds odd.
@dk: I think it's beddable LOL!

Gotta go bake somethink delicious.

sumariner_ss 1:30 PM  

@Elaine. Totally in synch with you on this one. A few clever clues, but generally too many cute puns. For the first time in ages had to resort to Google for the arcane (to my generation) Yann and Eddie Money pop idols, and the even more "never heard of" game creatures.

Oil gun??? Oil can and grease gun are the proper terms when it comes to mechanics and their gadgets. BTW, gadgets is inappropriate when referring to basic tools in widespread use.

Let's hope for fewer puzzles of this ilk.

jeff in chicago 1:36 PM  

@ Clark: Meese was attorney general, as were the other two names in the clue.

Clark 2:02 PM  

@jeff in chicago --

You are so right, and I was so wrong. I plead insufficient caffeination. The word 'chief' sent me on a jag. The AG is a member of the cabinet. But why is he a 'Cabinet chief'?

Glitch 2:14 PM  

The things NEXT to the bed are night/bed STANDS, the things that go on or over your lap when you are IN bed are bed TABLES (think breakfast in bed or hospital room). "Stand" was in the clue.

Don't like TeeVee except as the way to pronounce "TV". Many dictionaries don't even include, and when found, often redirect to "Television" (e.g. wiki).

Maybe @poc will join me in saying NO! to teevee :)

The rest of my issues are already being debated. Won't bother to chime in unless my side is losing big time.


sanfranman59 2:16 PM  

@foodie ... sorry ... I guess that was a little esoteric, wasn't it? I hail from the part of the country where the steel industry once dominated. Coke is derived from coal when it is cooked at very high temperatures in a furnace (see 28A Converted from coal via distillation in yesterday's puzzle). The hydrocarbons byproducts of this process are used in the manufacture of various steel products. A millwright maintains machinery in mills. I was actually a millwright helper and, as such, I got to do the crap jobs the millwrights didn't want to do ... like greasing the doors on the coke furnace (think hell on earth). I'm sure I'm still carrying around parts of that coke oven in my lungs. Truth be told, I spent most of my time hiding from foremen since they really didn't have enough work for me to do. I got an up close and personal look at how the unions and management colluded to kill the American steel industry in the late 70s.

Elaine 2:19 PM  

AG is "chief" of his department, eh?

If you took ANY French instruction, then I don't think you are a fair judge of "commonly known" French words. I know quite a bit of vocab--from wide reading, movies with subtitles, etc. PEUR is not one of the words I know.

ha ha...I had THONGS for 3D until the crosses made me change to UNDIES

Hand up for CUBA...

and if Ms. Aguilera was doing it right, she'd just have Xina. The X stands for CHRIST, as in Xmas. See?

Anonymous 2:22 PM  


Got your Irish up? (Are you vexed?)
Got your dander up?

Mean clue, but clever. I had ___DER and it just seemed to come to mind...

jae 2:28 PM  

Easy-medium works for me, but I was familiar with most of the names (didn't know YANN and saw how to parse SHERA on a post solve google). The West side went pretty quickly but I had to stare at SE like many of you. HYNDE was a gimmie but it took a while to see ORNATE. Liked the puzzle, lots of clever cluing and interesting answers.

foodie 2:35 PM  

Thanks Anonymous 2:22... I see... So, they're both irritable and lucky! I guess nice doesn't pay.

@Sanfranman, thanks to you too! that kind of coke! I was imagining you doing statistical analyses of illegal drug manufacturing, OILGUN in hand : )

I like Glitch's way-- letting others fight it out until he's needed.

jeff in chicago 2:37 PM  

@ Clarke: Also, isn't the AG sometimes called the chief attorney of the U.S.?

@ Elaine: I also had THONGS for a moment. It's great fill, even if wrong!

joho 2:48 PM  

@The Corgi of Mystery ... when I commented before I forgot to tell you how much I love your name. I smile everytime I see you post. I always visulize a Corgi dressed as Sherlock Holmes.

@ArtLvr ... how funny! I think I overthought it!

@dk ... your Stinkor story is hilarious.

poc 3:11 PM  

@Glitch: yes, TeeVee is pretty ghastly.

Clark 3:21 PM  

@Elaine, @jeff in chicago -- I think both your answers pass Saturday muster. Department heads are not usually called 'chiefs', but the names made clear enough to anyone (but yours truly) that we were talking about the head of the justice department. And the AG is often called the 'chief law enforcement officer of the United States' though some insist, vehemently, that that title belongs to the president.

BoyDoICarryAGrudge 3:26 PM  

Dupe's exclamation IVEBEENHAD is so much better then Gull's cry IBEENHAD that words fail me.

dk 3:28 PM  

@mac, right you are. Attended a FETE for a great local band The Pines PRESS HERE last night and then saw Cedric Burnside at Palmers (another local hot spot). Suffice to say this morning I feel like a Corgi who took one to many a spin in the dryer

NY (albeit in Mpls MN) moment at Palmers was listening to a lively discussion on the comparative rescue abilities of Lassie vs. Flicka (from the TEEVEE show My Friend Flicka).

Anonymous 3:36 PM  

@Elaine - You're right of course, but as we all know from last week, Christmas has a SILENTT. Knowing this, XTINA accounts for the correct pronunciation.

edith b 4:21 PM  

Like Rex, I read at Life of Pi but gave up on it once the Tiger entered the scene. Unlike Rex, the odd name YANN remained with me and is the oddest neon I ever remember having. Also knew Chrissy HYNDE so no Natick for me.

I had all of the North to the TREOS SPADER line but most of the South was in pieces. Finally got the SW when BROAD produced JOBCORPS, leaving only the SE remaining. I finally knitted together the last section from the SOD/DANDER crossing with SELLBYDATE my last entry. I was surprised when the bell rung advising me the puzzle was complete, the first time in a while I've been surprised that way.

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

Lots of names I didn't know. Not bad necessarily, but in this case lots of names I didn't know that I don't care about.

No fun, no ahas, didn't work for me. Maybe next Saturday.

bluebell 5:05 PM  

Tried to read Life of Pi, gave up, and promptly forgot the author's name, never thinking that I should have put it in the memory file for these crosswords.

Cesar Chavez is so closely associated with Northern CA/San Jose, that I wanted Lodi, or some other N CA four letter name. Finally, of course, had to Google.

Mostly not my day, though Pete Seeger was easy. Ecclesiastes would have been easy too, if only I'd been asked!

Stan 5:44 PM  

I really, really enjoyed this puzzle, though it took me a lot of time and momentary bafflement.

For a while, I was convinced there was no English word beginning INNIN and checked my crosses for mistakes. (Does a bellybutton have a top and a bottom?)

Overall, great fun.

Thanks, Paula Gamache!

archaeoprof 6:14 PM  

I heard about a wedding when, after the minister asked the groom, "Wilt thou?" the groom replied, "I wilt."

IPA Helps 6:23 PM  

loved this puzzle! some great great clues. My favs were 1D, 8D, 25D. A few AHA/OHO moments for sure! the whole thing put me in a great mood.
My sister gave me Life of Pi for Christmas a few years ago but I have to confess I never read it ...
Kept wanting the iphone alternative to be OREO!
and embarrassed I knew EDDIEMONEY right away ...

sanfranman59 6:33 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 6:21, 7:00, 0.91, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:56, 8:36, 0.92, 31%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:44, 11:45, 0.91, 27%, Easy-Medium
Thu 13:56, 18:17, 0.76, 8%, Easy
Fri 33:56, 26:07, 1.30, 97%, Challenging
Sat 26:14, 28:24, 0.92, 34%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:25, 3:44, 0.91, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:07, 4:24, 0.93, 34%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:09, 5:46, 0.89, 19%, Easy
Thu 6:34, 8:51, 0.74, 6%, Easy
Fri 18:15, 12:22, 1.48, 98%, Challenging
Sat 15:10, 16:26, 0.92, 30%, Easy-Medium

I posted the wrong average Saturday time for all solvers in my midday post. The numbers here are correct.

@foodie ... You don't know how close you were in identifying a later career choice of mine. I worked in substance abuse research for about 6 years after graduate school.

Anonymous 6:42 PM  

WAIT! Is Stan's picture a RUTABAGA???

Ulrich 6:46 PM  

One advantage of being late to the show is that one may see a larger picture emerging--in the present case, the numerous occasions this puzzle offered to get a single square wrong when both answers crossing there were unknown. In my case, I'm in the CUBA camp, even though GLENN Ford in 3:10 to Yuma was still on my mind form yesterday. And I somehow forgot to go back into the taxi line. It adds up to a fair Saturday, I guess; and with a name like Gamache, one should expect some French...

I checked the names of the famous radicals from the French Revolution I know backwards and forwards w/o being able to find a 7-letter one ending in IN--needed more crosses to finally get JACOBIN. HYNDE was a gimme, on the other hand, b/c I adored her and her group. And I'm proud that I guessed XTINA by drawing an analogy with Xmas.

@understatementjones: Yours is my favorite suggestion for improvement today.

@poc: I know some German, and you are right about NEIN.

Stan 7:35 PM  

Anon: Yes, I needed a winter avatar. Besides, the really cool people on the blog seem to use food items, and this one hadn't been taken.

Hobbyist 7:57 PM  

A bit twee here.

chefbea 8:41 PM  

@stan glad you think I'm cool!!! Of course all cool people love beets

TurnipHater 8:43 PM  

@ Stan
That's because rutabagas are AWFUL! Taste dreadful, are the butt of jokes, smell bad, generally work best as compost vs food!!! Quick! change avatars!!!! (gag, hack) before your friends are driven away!

Anonymous 8:44 PM  

Don't listen to chefbea. A rutabaga is not a beet! (I love beets!)
Run, run!

Stan 8:50 PM  

@chefbea: Yes, beets rule!

Babs 9:00 PM  

The NW stumped me. I totally don't get 19a -- is the answer AD IN or A DIN, and what does it mean?

Glitch 9:06 PM  


I believe NEIN, as well as NO, can imply a prohibition as I indicated in my earlier post and comment to @poc (who may have missed my intent with " ... NO! to teevee" as an answer to his previous question).

Since my German is very rusty, I won't embarass myself trying to get the syntax correct "auf Deutsch", but I believe NEIN, as a response to "Is it allowed that I speak English here?" would be a prohibition.

Just as in English, No Parking = Parking Prohibited. Parking alone, implies it's OK.


sanfranman59 9:10 PM  

@Babs ... "ad in" is a tennis term. It's the score after the server wins a deuce point ("ad" is short for "advantage"). If the server's opponent wins the deuce point, the score is "ad out". In either case, if the player who has the ad wins the next point, they win the game.

Ulrich 9:28 PM  

@Glitch: I hear what you're saying, but I still have my doubts.

Starting with "no parking": In German, it would not be "nein Parken", that's just not German. The literal translation of "no parking" would be "kein Parken", but that's not used very often--what you see most frequently is "Parken verboten"--and that IS as clear a prohibition as they come.

It all comes down to what one considers a prohibition. To me, "nein" (or "no" for that matter), taken by itself, is not a prohibition, as the clue claims. It needs context to work that way, as in your "no to teevee" example--take the "to teevee" out, and you no longer have a prohibition.

Well, no harm was really done as everyone, including me, understood the clue (I did hesitate a bit, though, trying to find a German 4-letter word that would be more clearly a prohibition). All I wanted to do with my remark is give ...jones moral support.

foodie 11:07 PM  

@Stan, I appreciate the warm sentiments about people with food avatars, and admire your willingness to embrace one of the more maligned foods. I even looked up rutabaga and strawberry, and discovered there is such a pie! Not sure I'll rush to make it, though : )

@sanfranman, hmmm I wonder if I've run into you in real life...

@ulrich and glitch, you're both right. Nein by itself is not a prohibition. The connection to the idea of forbidding something is more tenuous in German and French, specifically because NEIN (and NON) are not used in phrases like NO PARKING. But prohibition is one of its meanings in the right context, as Ulrich indicates. I've learned that by Saturday, I have to accept the kind of clue where the answer is a very specific case of a broader category, or holds under peculiar circumstances. See for example the DANDER/IRISH given to me earlier today.

Hungry Bird 11:18 PM  

In Austria you see, "Einfarht Verboten," which led my mother to steal a sign in 1972. I bet she still has it.

Ulrich 11:23 PM  

@foodie: I don't know about strawberry and rutabaga pie, but I'm very partial to strawberry and rhubarb pie (another vegetable treated with derision here a while ago). If you smother the pie with whipped cream (real--no substitute) to counteract the tartness of the rhubarb, it's delicious!

@SCOTUS addict: Welcome back! Have you had any triumphs at SCOTUS lately?

mac 11:32 PM  

I made my shortribs with not just celery, onion and carrots, but two small chopped (and later pureed) turnips, in addition to the red wine, stock and herbs. Not sure if I would do it again, though. It was a little overpowering.

@SCOTUS addict: good to see you back!

slypett 11:33 PM  

foodie: Irish=temper=dander. "Don't get yer dander up!"="Don't get yer Irish up!"

Clark: Yeah, yeah, but that's like saying oil is an ocean-thickener because it floats on top of water. It's not so much wrong as wrong-headed.

Hungry Bird 11:36 PM  


I was okay with "sod" as thickener. But only because I bought a patch of sod to put into a thin patch in my yard.

@ Mac,

Thanks! Nice to see you too. I love short ribs, BTW.

Robin 11:41 PM  

Helps if you actually know how to spell "Nein," because if you just vaguely know the word, but don't know how to spell it, you end up with "Jacoben," which also looks reasonable if you don't know any better. Plus "Trios," which, again, seems perfectly plausible if you don't actually know....etc, etc. (Sorry if etc. is crosswordese.) That was the major screw-up area for me.

Quite proud of self for getting the long acrosses in the SE. Ive been had. Sell by date. Easy-peasy part. Too late at night to remember what Rex said about that.

slypett 11:54 PM  

Foodie, Ulrich, et al: The words no, non, nein are definite prohibitions. If I say to Daisy (my beloved pooch), "No!", it is a very specific prohibition of a particular action. If you were to ask a German police officer if it were permissible to park where it says "Parken Verboten," he would reply, "Nein," with the clear implication that parking is, indeed, prohibited.

slypett 12:42 AM  

Scotus addict: Y'all can go on and on about it (and I get the point) (actually, it's me going on and on about something of so little importance that the impulse to respond is fading away and I can't remember...) ZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

poc 7:55 AM  

@XMAN: if you were to ask the German policeman "Can I park here?" and he replied "NEIN", is it still a prohibition? As @Ulrich and @Foodie say, interpretation can often depend strongly on context. There's nothing definite about it without that context. About all you can say about NEIN in itself is that it's a negative.

A word to the wise: when in Ireland, it might be best to avoid using "Irish" for "temper" ("dander" is fine and is quite common). "Welshing on a bet" and "getting off Scot-free" are similarly not well-regarded in the respective countries. I'm just saying :-)

poc 8:01 AM  

@XMAN: Oops, I totally screwed up my example. I wanted to say: if you asked the policeman is there a problem parking here and he said NEIN, ... you get the idea.

molien 6:06 PM  


I'm neutral on all those names, 'cause I just google them instead of bothering to pay attention.

But spare me the BTEAMS, singular EXES, SST "cruisers". And worst of all is XTINA. Who cares?

Stan 11:16 PM  

Sorry to go over the limit, but @foodie, thanks for your nice comment!

Rutabaga and strawberry pie seems interesting, but very possibly a waste of good pie crust. I'd say stick to Ulrich's strawberry-rhubarb suggestion, pending further research.

Interesting that rutabaga and rhubarb both relate to "crowd noises."

Waxy in Montreal 6:24 PM  

From zis corner of ze continent, PEUR et YANN were gimmes. But had EXPIRY DATE and then BEST BY before SELL BY kicked in. And in the SE, my grease monkey had an AIRGUN for the longest time while shoulders were PAVED and some Amazon.com orders were COD. Zut alors.

mrbinkey04 9:31 PM  

I came here to find out why on earth DANDER means Irish, and now that I know, I can honestly say that I've never heard anyone use the word DANDER or the word Irish to mean temper. If this definition of Irish exists, wouldn't irish be spelled with a lowercase first i? I remember learning that when we use the word english to mean spin put on a ball, we should not capitalize it, because we aren't referring to the language, and it's therefore not a proper noun. Obviously, the first letters of all clues are capitalized, so my point is moot, but I am curious now as to whether or not I should capitalize it if I ever decide to write or type this asburd (to me) phrase in my lifetime. Anyway, I had to say that I was pleased that the first things I entered (STOP and ANDGO) turned out to be right. Also, I've known for a few years that Miss Aguilera refers to herself in writing as XTINA, so that one was oddly enough a gimme for me.

Clancy 8:17 AM  

@mrbinkey04 -

CLANCY LOWERED THE BOOM (Hy Heath / John Lange) Dennis Day Also recorded by : Petula Clark; Bing Crosby; Dan Dailey; Hit Crew; Donald Peers; The Shamrock Singers. Now Clancy was a peaceful man If you know what I mean, The cops picked up the pieces After Clancy left the scene, He never looked for trouble That's a fact you can assume, But never-the-less when trouble would press. Clancy lowered the boom! Chorus: Oh, that Clancy, Oh that Clancy Whenever they got his Irish up, Clancy lowered the boom! O'Leary was a fighting man, They all knew he was tough, He strutted 'round the neighborhood, A-shootin' off his guff, He picked a fight with Clancy, Then and there he sealed his doom, Before you could shout "O'Leary, look out!" Clancy lowered the boom! Chorus: Oh, that Clancy, Oh that Clancy Whenever they got his Irish up, Clancy lowered the boom! O'Hollihan delivered ice To Misses Clancy's flat, He'd always linger for a while, To talk of this and that, One day he kissed her, Just as Clancy walked into the room, Before you could say the time of day, Clancy lowered the boom! Chorus: Oh, that Clancy, Oh that Clancy Whenever they got his Irish up, Clancy lowered the boom! Sure it was the most beautiful sight you ever did see when Clancy Lowered The Boom (Contributed by RumandCocaCola44 - March 2005)

Anonymous 10:07 PM  

did anyone else think CURBSIDE i/s/o TAXIRIDE initially? i guess i got the idea behind the clue, but went in the wrong direction to the destination...

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