Red of early jazz — THURSDAY, Oct. 22 2009 — 1967 war locale / Saving Grace airer / Completer of fifth pillar of Islam

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: A SHOT IN / THE DARK (27A: With 52-Across wild guess ... or what the answer to each starred clue has?) — phrases containing "SHOT" have that word represented by black square, so that SHOT appears to be IN THE DARK

Word of the Day: Red NORVO (37D: Red of early jazz)Red Norvo (March 31, 1908 – April 6, 1999) was one of jazz's early vibraphonists, known as "Mr. Swing". He helped establish the xylophone and later the vibraphone as viable jazz instruments. His major recordings included "Dance of the Octopus", "Bughouse", "Knockin' on Wood", "Congo Blues", and "Hole in the Wall". (wikipedia)

[you'll want to remember TAL Farlow as well...]


Really great theme idea with especially impressive execution (symmetry!). I had GLASS over NOT BY A LONG and thought "hmmm ... there is a SHOT over ... something ... SHOT across the bow? SHOT through the heart and you're to blame?"

But I quickly realized that both GLASS and NOT BY A LONG were missing their SHOTs and from there the puzzle fell very, very quickly. A Wednesdayish time (low 5's) for me. 90+% of the grid was a breeze, but then all of a sudden these names would drop in that forced me to work every single cross. NORVO was one (I know NOVO NORDISK, but not this guy) and EMMETT was the other (11D: Daniel Decatur _____, composer of "Dixie"), though the latter was far more inferrable. And then there was KNURL (54D: Small ridge on the edge of a button or dial). KNURL! I nominate it for the Pantheon of World's Ugliest Words. Sounds like a horrid, curly, knobby growth of some kind. URKEL + KERNEL + HURL = KNURL. It's a real word, though, so I can't complain about its inclusion. But I can stand in slack-jawed horror and point at it. That is my right.

Theme answers:

  • 5A: *Jigger (shot glass)
  • 17A: *"That's way off" (not by a long shot)
  • 38A: *Photo (snap shot)
  • 39A: *Colorful party drink (Jello shot)
  • 40A: *Rejected (shot down)
  • 62A: *Quick hitch (shotgun wedding)
  • 71A: *Y-shaped item (sling shot)
  • 10D: *What "fore" may precede (tee shot)
  • 61D: *Track-and-field event (shot put)

Love that run of three consecutive "SHOT" answers in the middle. Nice.


  • 15A: 1967 war locale (Sinai) — Six Day War, in which MOSHE DAYAN (of the distinctive eye patch) distinguished himself. I just like writing / saying his name.
  • 30A: Stop on Magellan's circumnavigation of the world (Guam) — "we're just stopping, we're not staying, so don't go far ..."
  • 58A: Solo in science fiction (Han) — his grid popularity seems to be up of late. That may be a false impression, but it *feels* right.
  • 3D: Vegetable that's peeled (rutabaga) — coincidentally heard this word used (disparagingly, with humorous intent) in a radio interview with the White House chef yesterday. "So does that mean more RUTABAGAs and fewer french fries on the menu? [titter tee hee I'm so glib and RUTABAGAs is such a funny word]". He should have responded "Yes. Yes, that's exactly what eating well means. Substitute RUTABAGAS for french fries, and you're good to go. Excellent question."
  • 22D: Cuisine with sen yai noodles (Thai) — hey, I like THAI food. Why have I never had / heard of these?
  • 25D: Spiritualist's tool (Ouija) — for real? This isn't just some stupid board game that 12-yr-olds play on sleepovers in the 1980s?
  • 31D: Pinochle combos (melds) — I know this term while knowing Nothing about "pinochle."
  • 45D: Mako shark prey (opah) — one of the crosswordesiest fish known to mankind.
  • 56D: Completer of the fifth pillar of Islam (Hadji) — I wrote HALAL at first (?). HADJI is a racist epithet in the wrong mouths (a fact discussed in a book I was reading before bed last night, weirdly enough). Also spelled HAJI.
  • 26D: Whistle-blower (namer) — wife made fantastic error last night. She wrote NADER here. Then, since of course she didn't know NORVO, she was left with IDEA-IT at 35A: "For real!" She eventually worked it all out, but was quite ready to put a "T" in that blank square. "For real! I'D EAT IT!" Makes sense to me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

PS Syndicated solvers, I've written a special breast cancer benefit puzzle. Read about it / get it here. Thx.


Brendan Emmett Quigley 7:56 AM  

Did a total 180 on this one. Didn't like it at all until I realized that the black square was to represent SHOT. Then it became a bravura performance. Approved.

Greene 8:07 AM  

Flailed around until I figured out the SHOT gimmick. Great AHA moment and then the puzzle fell quickly and cleanly. I liked it.

Denise 8:20 AM  

Easily deductible theme -- but, WOW, those words I didn't know were not buried in my brain AT ALL.

Still, I did it -- not so quickly, but enjoyably.

retired_chemist 8:25 AM  

Nice puzzle, which I did slowly. Enjoyed the theme.

Last fill was the V in NORVO (never heard of him)/SUVS (I used to own an Explorer), for which mental lapse I am abashed. Also never heard of a JELLO shot, but it was easily gettable after I got the theme, which made me give up on JULEP. Actually the people are usually more colorful at a Derby party than the JULEPs.

joho 8:37 AM  

The HETERO GURU carried a RUTABAGA under one arm and his OUIJA board under the other as he passed through a murky UMBRA where he searched for SIGNS in the DARK. Suddenly, two THUGS wearing TOPHATS CLOSED IN on him and told him to SNAP out of it. The GURU whispered, "SHUT UP, I MEAN IT. I'm traveling to LEBANON and MT. SINAI where my brain will be AROAR with the answers I seek." At that point the THUGS' faces WHITENED. They doffed their TOPHATS and silently boarded a ship to GUAM. The GURU disappeared while soft, lilting RAGAS could be heard in the distance.

I LOVED this puzzle! I'm happy to see that the contructor signed his name in the lower right corner. There is also a shout out to Andrea at 26D. Thank you, JOEL!

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

I liked the theme; took me a while to figure it out but once I did I enjoyed it.

Re RUTABAGAS: are they more peeled than other vegetables? I don't think that is really their distinguishing characteristic. They are great though; good roasted or boiled and mashed up with potatoes. Haven't had one in a while ...

I also like the way Joel F put his own name in the puzzle...!

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

We've had this discussion before. Fore does not in anyway, shape or manner precede the tee shot. Its after you hit a wild tee shot that you cry "fore" as a warning. (unless you were Gerald Ford, then you may have yelled fore in advance). Isn't opah an aquarium fish? Hardly a meal for a mako shark. Great puzzle overall. Golfballman

twangster 9:13 AM  

My original wrong answer for 26-down wasn't as clever: TIMER.

capesunset105 9:32 AM  

Explorer and Navigator. I thought web browsers, then i thought Royal Caribbean cruise ships (i've been on the Navigator--highly recommend) but i had to back into SUVs. My brain just never went there.

A little more medium than easy for me. Someday when I'm a constructor (LOL) I wanna work my name into the puzzle too.

Orange 9:40 AM  

Apparently today's constructor is a high-schooler, or at least that's a screen name he uses. Lovely debut!

I did not know NORVO. I do not know Novo Nordisk. I do know Novosibirsk.

Never heard of sen yai noodles either, and I ate at a Thai restaurant last night. A blog commenter who's lived in Thailand reports that sen yai has fettucine-like rice noodles. (I'll pass. I'm not noodly unless the noodles are Italian.)

Is the comic for (shot)GUN WEDDING or TOP HATS?

Elaine in Arkansas 9:44 AM  

Explorer and Navigator: HENRY? Vasco de GAMA? d'oh.

I filled all the but the extreme NW and N-Central, and then I sat and sat. Well, it WAS 3 a.m., an hour when the brain cells do not always respond. Finally I removed 17A OVER YONDER-- the fact that the Y worked meant that I took far too long to discard this. Then I had NOT BY ___ and I sat some more. Finally I had the wits to study the hint, and the light dawned. The last letter to be corrected was E in EUCLIDEAN. I had IAN and could not figure out what ICRU was for the life of me. A brand of coffee creamer?

Enjoyed the puzzle and the struggle. But I think KNURL is kind of cute--and not just because I got it. I love that there is a name for the little ridge around the button's surface.

Thanks, Joel!

slypett 10:03 AM  

At first, I was aghast. There's a hip-hopper right away. I feel lost. I struggle bravely against all odds. Then the East fell like the sun on an
equatorial eve, soon to be followed by the rest. An easy Thursday in the jungle of words.

But fun.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:04 AM  

Nothing new to add to the above, but the general sentiment bears repeating:

Took two or three theme fills to get the idea, then enjoyed a very clever and pleasant puzzle. Bravo, Joel!

Van55 10:10 AM  

This one gave me fits until I figured out the theme, at which point it was more or less a cinch. Enjoyed it!

dk 10:19 AM  

Rutabaga, Peas and Carrots was the phrase repeated by film extras in crowd and conversation scenes so they would not have to be paid for a speaking part.

I knew you would want to know.

thornibus 10:25 AM  

I'm with Sandy ! NADER and IDEATIT

Jeffrey 10:27 AM  

I won't let a KNURL get it the way of enjoying this wonderful puzzle.

SethG 10:29 AM  

I stuck with NADER for a lot longer than Sandy did... And I kept misreading a quote in "For real!" as indicating a theme entry, and thought about IDEAL IT (I shot deal it? Ideal shot it? Ideal it shot?). For a long time. Then idea bit shot, fit shot, shot fit, hit, zit.... Couldn't see how any of my downs weren't rock solid, and of course I didn't know NORVO either. Ended with errors...

I'm totally gonna work "Is that an O?" into every conversation I have today. The proper answer, of course, is "No, I."

william e emba 10:31 AM  

I made the NADER/NAMER mistake also. I was pretty much cruising to a record Thursday time, got to IDEA-IT, and then had a horrible time trying to fill in that blank. I'D EAT IT? IDEA FIT? IDEAL IT? I DEAL IT? It wasn't just going through the alphabet that was so bothersome. It was the multiple ways of parsing that really drove me crazy. In the end I got it--no way was I going to cry Natick on a phrase--but it took a time that was pretty much equal to the all-but-one-box time. I was not a happy camper.

Personally I like the word KNURL. Perhaps it's because it reminds me of a classic but now almost forgotten humorous science fiction story from the 50s: Reginald Bretnor The Gnurrs Come from the Voodvork Out, the first of the Papa Schimmelhorn adventures.

When I had SU-S for "Explorer and Navigator" crossed with a name I'd never heard of and had no way of guessing, my first thought was SUBS, as in maybe there's some famous USS Explorer I'd forgotten. I sat on that idea for about 3 seconds.

Geezer 10:31 AM  

Glad for Rex's alternative spellings for pilgrims to Mecca. Still another option is hajji. I used that until I realized that GUN WEDJINGS were pretty unlikely. Once again as with Katmandhu, there is the problem of putting a foreign language into the roman alphabet.

ArtLvr 10:34 AM  

@ joho -- Enjoyed your recap narrative and should confess there's a shout-out to me too in Pack rat, HOARDER! Piles of books everywhere... And I think DK's note on film extras' non-speaking parts is a hoot!

Loved the puzzle, which was a SNAP except for trying to fit in "Nolte" for the Nick name, SANTA. Wow. I do hope we'll see a lot more from JOEL and I MEAN IT.


Geezer 10:35 AM  

Oops! Kathmandu!

Ulrich 10:35 AM  

I, too, admire the construction greatly. Once I had figured out the theme, I did check whether the hidden shots were following the symmetry of the puzzle and, like Rex, was delighted when I saw that they did.

For once, my love for jazz that goes back to my teenage years helped me with Norvo--BTW keep TAL Farlow in mind for late-week clues/answers!

Could it be that "fore" comes before the tee shot in disc golf? So as to warn unsuspecting people in the park? I don't know, but I remember a similar discussion from a few weeks back...

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Put me in the NADER, TORDO and SUBS column. My rationale was: Q: Is that for real? A: You bet! It's so real I'D EAT IT.

Stan 10:39 AM  

Snappy puzzle!

Yay Rex for defending the humble rutabaga! I used one in a beef stew just this weekend. Grew up calling these 'yellow turnips' but I think that's a New England regionalism.

Two Ponies 10:40 AM  

I tend to hop around on my dead tree puzzles and happened upon the theme via gun wedding long before I had even a third of the grid filled. It sort of spoiled the fun of discovering the theme and made for a rating of easy for me. Overall a very nice solve and if this is a debut puzzle then Bravo!
As joho noted the inclusion of the constructor's signature in the bottom right corner was a bonus and I'm sure 26D will not escape the notice of our friend Acme.

Sandy 10:57 AM  

In NZ we call rudabagas "swedes." As in "swedish turnip." Hey, I'd eat it!

PlantieBea 10:59 AM  

Nice puzzle Joel Fagliano. I got the clever theme only once I filled in the lower right corner, and then the rest fell steadily. The NW, where I first entered ruDabaga, was the last section to work out. Fun to see the festive jello shot in the middle of the puzzle; I've never tried them, but they suggest a fiesta.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

In addition to "rutabagas, peas & carrots", extras (on stage, from my experience) also say "crowd noises, crowd noises, crowd noises" with various inflections and facial expressions. Watch & listen for it in a theater production if you're not in thrall during a performance!

des 11:05 AM  

Rex - I was hoping you would comment on the pattern of SHOT occurring before (e.g., SHOT GLASS) or after (e.g., SLING SHOT). I couldn't figure out if there is one, but knowing your eye for this, I would not be suprised if, in fact, you found it. The pairs (by place in puzzle, such as the example above) are all one of each. But the middle three, are two after and one before. Oh well.

ps - I agree re TEE; I just had to ignore the clue! The clue should have read, "*What 'fore' may follow" which is nicely alliterative anyway.

CoolPapaD 11:09 AM  

Loved the theme / puzzle, and Rex's KNURL equation was terrific!

I'd never eaten a rutabaga until hearing an interview on NPR with the owner / chef of a well-known B&B in Virginia, who was talking about apple-rutabaga soup. For whatever reason, the interview possessed me, and I quickly hunted down and made the somewhat labor-intensive recipe, which was beyond amazing. Here's a link for those so inclined:

Enjoy, and thanks, Joel and Rex.

Aaron Riccio 11:39 AM  

One of my favorite puzzles in a while. See, just give me a gimmick and I'm happy. It's that easy.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

There could be another theme assigned to this puzzle: answers that begin with a capital. Didn't count them all, but there are over 20 of them - 20 to 25% of the answers. And I really dislike proper names as clue answers. Even so, the puzzle was quite easy for Thursday.

edith b 11:59 AM  

My husband has a sizable collection of jazz LPs and Red NORVO is among them. This helped me alot in the Midlands.

I spent a long time figuring there was going to be a Peter Sellers or Inspector Clouseau angle to the puzzle. Like Two Ponies, I happened onto the theme via GUNWEDDING but it was later rather than sooner.

Brava to joho for her recap narrative -thank you ArtLvr - on the puzzle.

foodie 12:09 PM  

Here's my association with RUTABAGA, and possibly a future clue on a tougher day: "A (mutant) fly, dumber than most". Truly. If you click on my avatar and read a poem dedicated to Seymour Benzer (a great scientist) you'll see why.

A very international puzzle, with a definite bias for the Middle East-- the HADJI from SINAI, and the EMIR from Mount LEBANON, mingling with the INDO-Aryans, the THAI, the ALEUT and the GURUS from GUAM. Hardly an Anglo in sight (well, there's SARA and EMMA-- but I don't count JOEL and ELI).

I loved it (and them) all! Thank you JOEL!

Heather 12:11 PM  

Add me to the list of NADERites...

kumar 12:25 PM  

Isn't it time to begin using, "air", as distinct from the hoary "ship", to describe what FedEx mostly does?

It also trucks but does not, to the purist, ship (unless one includes the oxymoronic airships in its fleet).

Have to admit NORVO and OPAH confounded me, even after I had them.

Surprised that Rex did not know KNURL. How else would you describe the ridges on a knob that aids gripping and turning.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

@ Kumar, I call them knob ridges.

mac 12:53 PM  

Even though I got the theme early (A shot in the dark with only the H and then I remembered the jigger) I struggled and pieced together some areas in this puzzle.
For 8D I started with Claus, and there were unfamiliar words and terms for me all over the place: spot, hut, cig, jello shot and GSA. I liked the clue for Eli. No complains about the tilde on ano this time.

Rutabaga is swede in England, too, and koolraap in Holland. I don't like it much, have only had it a few times in this country, at Thanksgiving at my German MIL's.

Stan 1:06 PM  

Email from my wife: "I've read of boiled Swedes in British books, but never knew what the vegetable was!"

MikeM 1:13 PM  

@capesunset105 - we will be on Explorer of the Seas the week of Thanksgiving, can't wait.

I first thought "40A - *Rejected" was (turned)DOWN. Then I got SNAP(shot). And was thinking ... what do turns and shots have in common?

Had HANOI in for SINAI for a bit. And SEND for SHIP. Those were my only overwrites.

Are Jelloshots really drinks? In any case I find them disgusting and much prefer to imbibe the old fashioned way; leisurely sipping on neat Jameson. Cheers..

Cliff Clavin 1:23 PM  

Beetabaga fajita on a pita?

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

I'm with the Nolte/Hanoi group and therefore Not by a Mile. Good puzzle but I was on the wrong track.
Thanks to a Bobby Darin Live at the Copa LP I knew Red Norvo.
It's a swede to me too. Great challenge

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

The Collins English Dictionary defines ship as follows: to place, transport, or travel on any conveyance, esp aboard a ship. Sorry Kumar, but the meanings of the words in a living language irritatingly change over time. Indeed, at work, we never say "Truck out the package" but always "Ship the package by FedEx" or even "Mail the package by FedEx." I wonder what William Safire would say were he still alive.

Clark 1:40 PM  

@joho -- Your story is delightful. @foodie -- Thanks for the pointer to the poem. I spent some time reading around. I am grateful for the thoughtful folks I run into in this forum which is not quite a Damascus cafe.

@Rex, your write up and @BEQ’s comment got me to view this puzzle as a rebus in which the res is in the black square. Seems obvious, but looking at it this way made me like the puzzle all the more. I love a good rebus puzzle.

retired_chemist 1:50 PM  

I solve in Across Lite and there is nothing indicated that any black square is special and represents DARK. Is there something present in other formats, as there was in the compass rose puzzle, that I can't see?

Clark 1:59 PM  

@r_c - Nothing special about any black squares on the page or screen (that I can see anyway), just overheated imaginations at work.

Meg 2:00 PM  

Since the highliter was handy I colored the black squares where "shot" would come in the expression and the result was perfect 180 symmetry. Nice touch!

How exactly is a "jello shot" made? I must not be going to the right kind of parties....

bluebell 2:32 PM  

My husband and I once stayed at a place in England's Lake country where I hostess used her kitchen table to cut up swedes as feed for her cattle, while the cat roamed freely on the table top. She then cleared off the scraps (and the cat, I think), put on a table cloth and set the table for our meal.

Someone also told me that rutabagas became the jack o'lanterns in the north country, though I never saw one carved.

I'm in the Norvo/jello quandary group. Didn't know either.

Clark 2:56 PM  

Jello Shots

Clark 3:03 PM  

Sorry about the bad link. Try this:

Jello Shots

sanfranman59 3:14 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 13:34, 18:16, 0.74, 6%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 6:57, 8:52, 0.78, 10%, Easy

Noam D. Elkies 3:52 PM  

Ah, that's much better — thanks for a neat Thursday puzzle, Joel F. (and Will S.)! And thanx to Rex for pointing out the extra symmetry.

Didn't know of the theatrical usage of "rutabaga" (nor of the self-referential "crowd noises"). I thought the canonical crowd-scene vegetable was "rhubarb" — the word is even used for "a heated dispute or controversy" according to, presumably for this reason.


Elaine 3:58 PM  

Jello shots....sound totally horrid. My mother, god rest her, made Jell-O every week--salads, desserts, snacks. It is cloyingly sweet, and I can only say that a Jell-O shot would be a waste of alcohol. Feed your sweet-tooth some other way!

Kohlrabi ...Rutabagas. Are those the same? I assumed rutabagas were a form of turnip (something that I LOATHE, along with the greens, despite Southern birth.) I am happy to have the funny word in a puzzle, where it belongs.

Hand up for NOT BY A MILE (which I quickly discarded as MILE did not work.) As I said early in the day... I had most of the puzzle done before I caught on to the theme. Congrats to all you speedsters!

Hobbyist 4:02 PM  

Hurrah for rutabagas smashed up w nutmeg and butter.

andrea namer michaels 4:22 PM  

Oops! I had JELLY shots!
NYVRO looked bad...but not horrible, as there were a lot of NYKQVISTS running around in Minnesota in my day...
(At least not as horrible as KNURL)

Scrabble lesson:

all is HAGGIS for that matter, for Scottish pilgrims to Decca.

FAB puzzle! I didn't get that there was a black space for the shot!!!!!!!!
I thought NOTBYALONG wasn't really a phrase...but now the brilliance shines through!!!!!!!

Bravo JOEL, who not only got JOEL in the puzzle, but the END of his name too in ANO...
Can't be easy to be named FAGLIANO and be in highschool, so even more props to him!!!!!!!!!! Perhaps he needs a RE-NAMER

Shamik 4:42 PM  

VERY easy puzzle. Good theme fill. Liked this one. Bravo!

jeff in chicago 4:46 PM  

If I were now a senior, my '08 classmate would not be an ALUM. I did not like this clue. I can see how to parse it so the answer works, but it was confusing.

Otherwise, I liked the puzzle just fine.

chefbea 5:11 PM  

Fun puzzle. I just thought the shot was missing - not embedded in a dark square.

There are lots of vegetables that need to be peeled. Carrot being the most popular and of course the wonderful RED tuber which we haven't spoken of in quite a while.

Sfingi 5:18 PM  

Very difficult. I won't buy Friday or Saturday NYT this week.

Didn't know: GREENFLY, Daniel Decatur EMMETT (though is cute with EMMA), LIL John, JELLO shot, UTEP, sen yai, or that Magellan stopped at GUAM. The sports/gaming stuff lost me - PUT, TEE, MELDS.

Strangely, did know Red NORVO (Norville) and KNURL.

For 51A, first I had "end," then "fag," but not CIG. Got stuck on "octo" for 46A OCHO. Once you get stuck on a couple of wrong answers in a puzzle where you lack some factual knowledge, forget it.

But the most depressing part is that I got ASHOTIN THEDARK and knew shot was to be attached, but didn't get that before or after depended on where "The Dark," that is, the black square, was. To be exact, I got GUNWEDDING first and was trying to put the "shot" up front each time. The theme turned out to be brilliant, and I was dull.

I personally think of a whistleblower as a hero of the people and a NAMER to be a stooge for Big Brother (McCarthy), but for crosswords, ok.

In Utica, there's an old Arab family - came a century ago, and Christian - whose name is Hage. The g is soft, and we assume the name to be a translation of the title for a person whose made his Hajira, or pilgrimage.

Fagliano - related to a geo fault. And the "gl" is to be pronounced "ly" Not that that helps in HS.

Rutabaga - boring as squash or soy curd. Takes on the flavor of anything else. For actually starving people, I guess.

Can any mixologist tell me what they used to call those alcoholic drinks - no Jello - which banded in layers of colors based on the specific gravities of the spirits?

@dk - informative
@Stan - Soilent Green is Peepul! Also was called long pork, whether made into Swedish meatball or something else.

Cliff Clavin 5:21 PM  

We haven't spoken of the RED tuber because it hasn't been in the crossword puzzle. This is a crossword puzzle blog.

foodie 5:22 PM  

@Andrea, the list of Hajis is great. And believe it or not, even HAGGIS works if you are Egyptian to mean a pilgrim. This is because in Arabic, there is more than one way to pronounce the J/G sound... kind of like the ambivalence in English where you have to specify for the G whether it's hard or soft. So, in rendering Haji in English, if someone has an extremely soft accent, it would be one J, the doubling of J or the addition of a D ensures the emphasis on that sound, and the G (as in Give)would be the Egyptian version.

@Clark, thank you for taking the time to read some of these postings. I often think of erasing them because they seem outdated, and then something happens, like the discussion about DM yesterday or RUTABAGA showing up today, and I let them be...

And may be I should change my name, because I knew nothing about JELLO shots until the puzzle and then @Clark's link. I'm suspending judgment on the subject :)

Jeffrey 5:24 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeffrey 5:25 PM  

If CIG is a synonym for FAG and LI is next to ANO in the north is JOEL's last name hidden in the puzzle?


chefbea 5:35 PM  

@sfingi here's how to make a red, white and blue shooter

jae 5:43 PM  

Add me to those that really liked this one. A novel Thurs. Easy, but with enough odd stuff to make you occasionally stop and think. Thanks Joel.

I'm with golfballman on the 10d clue.

SINAI was a gimmie because I got stuck in the middle of the Mediterranean aboard a cruiser for 3 months in '67 because of that war.

Anonymous 5:49 PM  

FORE can and does precede certain situations in golf tee shots but for a non-golfing crossword solver it can be a distracting clue

but dont take my word for it, and without being argumentative here, just give the USGA (Far Hills, NJ)a call yourself and ask for technical support


The Jim Jams 6:14 PM  

I, too, got hung up when I went with Nader . . .

Joel 6:33 PM  

Thanks for the positive comments everybody. As for my last name,i'm Italian and the g is silent, yes, it is an ongoing struggle. as for knurl, my hand was forced on that one what with the K_U_ _, and Norvo is pretty obscure but i tried to make the middle very gettable

retired_chemist 6:48 PM  

@ Joel - Thanks for dropping by and thanks for the thoughtful response to the KNURL question. FWIW, KNURL didn't bother me.

mac 7:01 PM  

Thanks for commenting, Joel, and what a great debut!

@Elaine: Kohlrabi is totally tasteless and watery, but Rutabaga has a very distinct flavor which I can't describe. In Holland it is served with with butter, a tiny bit of sugar and cinnamon, cut into French fry shapes. Ugh!

@Andrea: LOL!

@Sfingi: if they are Christians, why would they do the pilgrimage?

Two Ponies 7:51 PM  

@ Joel, Thanks for dropping in. I enjoy hearing about the process.
@ crosscan, That is a stretch but I see it! Wow how long did it take come up that?

Stan 7:55 PM  

Thanks, Joel. Your puzzle is definitely a hit!

Hobbyist 8:03 PM  

Rutabaga is so spurned but delish mashed up w butter &nutmeg etc. Way better than mashed potatoes. A nice nutty taste. Color more interesting as well.

andrea jello michaels 8:06 PM  

Again bravo bravo!!
I didn't mean to reroute the discussion to being about your last name instead of the wonderful puzzle you produced, shot through with brilliance!
I look forward to the next...and the day we don't have to sneak our name in to get proper recognition!

(Maybe you can change your name when/if you marry or become a stand-up...worked for me!)

PIX 8:13 PM  

@30 Across...for the record, Magellan did not circumnavigate the world...he died on the trip and only a few of his crew actually completed the journey.

joho 8:16 PM  

@Joel ... I'm chiming in to say again, fantastic puzzle. The first thing I look at when starting my solve is the name at the top and I will definitely be looking for yours.

PIX 8:17 PM  

@sfingi:the drink with layers based on specific gravity is called a pousse-cafe. Interesting chemistry; terrible drink.

Elaine 8:51 PM  

I am now determined: avoid BOTH rutabagas and kohlrabi. And turnips.
I am pretty sure their scores on nutritional indices will be very, very LOW....because they are a lotta fiber, not much nutrition, and no body will eat them. Oops, another prejudiced statement! Guess I just can't help myself!!!!

thanks for the warning!

foodie 8:53 PM  

@Sfingi and mac, the word haj/hage/hadj means pilgrimage regardless of it being moslem or christian, and regardless of destination, as long as it's to a holy site. In fact, Jews, Christians and Moslems can go to Jerusalem to visit the holy sites and it would all be called Haj in the broader sense.

When I was a kid and my family lived in Jordan, one of my most memorable nights was joining tens of thousands of Christians on Christmas eve in Jerusalem. Though I'm not religious, it was something to behold.

Joel, I agree with all the kudos. Very very cool puzzle and a great accomplishment!

mac 9:00 PM  

@Foodie: of course, the Dutch word for pilgrimage, bedevaart, is not religion-specific, and it isn't in English either! I just identify Haj or any of the other spellings as muslim (moslem?). Thank you for the clarification.

sanfranman59 10:04 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, 32%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:44, 11:45, 0.91, 27%, Easy-Medium
Thu 13:56, 18:17, 0.76, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:25, 3:44, 0.91, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:07, 4:24, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:09, 5:46, 0.89, 19%, Easy
Thu 6:34, 8:51, 0.74, 5%, Easy

The puzzles have been awfully easy this week. I wonder what WS has in store for us tomorrow and Saturday?

ArtLvr 10:35 PM  

@ andrea -- "Folly? Ah, no." Not that the sonorous Italian pronunciation would keep bullying kids from making nasty remarks! Something in their dark nature calling the shots...

I thought r_c was pulling our collective legs about not seeing the dark rebus in certain black squares, but I guess not, after all -- unlike the noir French adage, "At night, all cats are black".


Jeffrey 10:50 PM  

@Two Ponies: Take Sfingi's "fag", Andrea's ANO and then look for LI. Find it right next to ANO and voila.

slypett 12:21 AM  

Sfingi: That delighful & decorative drink is a parfait.

slypett 1:21 AM  

Sfingi: Omigod, it's regional!

Anonymous 1:23 AM  


Excellent debut puzzle.

You have a fine family proud of it.

impjb 2:41 PM  

Nice Thanksgiving day puzzle. 33 across was printed as "Prefix denoting 109" in the local paper. 10^9 or even 10x10x10...etc would have been nicer.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

@impjb - that "109" clue at 33a threw me for a bit, too. I guess the local paper either does not own a circumflex character or lacks a superscript tag.

Waxy in Montreal 9:10 PM  

What impjb said! Guess the syndiland papers don't rate. Also, felt A STAB IN THE DARK, rather than SHOT, would have been a better definition for "Wild Guess". Minor problem though, the theme wouldn't have worked then.

TimeTraveller 1:11 PM  

At your Robbie Burns dinner you will find on the menu, along with haggis, "bashed neeps"--mashed yellow turnips (very tasty.)
I grew up in Canada calling swedes turnips, and only later in life learned to call the white/purple things rutabagas. Talk about regionalisms ...

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