Sandwich Edam or Champagne — SATURDAY, Oct. 3 2009 — Payload holder / Von Rothbart turned her into swan / Secret agent created by 1938 Pulitzer winner

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Constructor: Doug Peterson

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: TOPONYM (31A: Sandwich, Edam or Champagne) n.

  1. A place name.
  2. A name derived from a place or region. (

Started out feeling very tough, and then smoothed out a bit for an overall average Saturday solving struggle. NW was the hardest part for me because COMEDIAN fit where FUNNYMAN was supposed to go (15A: Stand-up guy). My worst solving experiences are almost always ones wherein I lock in a wrong answer at some point, and that was a big one (though I will say that as I wrote COMEDIAN in, part of me was thinking ... "that was a little too easy"). Also was certain that there was word play involved in 1A: Cousin of ours, so went looking for one of two things — a. another, longer word (or phrase) that was roughly equivalent to the possessive pronoun "ours," or b. a French for an animal that is roughly equivalent to a bear ("ours" being French for "bear"). But no — literally, a cousin of ours, yours and mine (assuming you believe in evolution): GREAT APE.

The grid was pretty cool but a little flat for a Saturday. There's a serious lack of Scrabbly letters — no Zs, Qs, Js, or Xs at all. Lots and lots of RLSTNE, esp in the center north and the SE. And yet the clever / brutal cluing and overall smooth fill kept it tough and enjoyable throughout. My last stand was in the upper SW. I failed to get in from up top, so in the end I came at it from underneath. Kept wanting EPONYM where TOPONYM was supposed to go, but of course it didn't fit. Figured TAPAS BAR was right (31D: Where to get croquetas) — I had the BAR part in place — but I had "I'M IN HERE" for "OVER HERE" (32D: Cry for attention), so that made things tough for a bit. Also, PINCHERS is the lamest answer in the whole grid, so much so that I couldn't believe it was the answer to the clue (33D: Tight shoes, e.g.). I think that corner came together when I gave up on "I'M IN HERE" and then threw ARCS across the section (44A: Doesn't go straight), which allowed me then to see the correct Downs. Game Over. Took me a leisurely 14:30 or so, which is average-ish, I think.

Had some issues with my ignorance of word meanings today. EFFETE means what now? 9D: Worn out? That's a new one on me. The AGE LIMIT answer puzzled me slightly only because AGE MINIMUM seems the more appropriate answer (12D: 19, for N.B.A. players). LIMIT implies that one is headed in a direction beyond which one may not go, therefore usually an *upper* limit. You can have *lower* limits, of course, but again, I usually think of such limits being ones you might fall beneath. You can't get younger, so calling an AGE MINIMUM an AGE LIMIT feels all kinds of awkward to me. Doesn't stop it from being the right answer, though. Would not have put ARROYO with 54A: Wash except I had the last two letters in place. Seems ARROYOs (dry creek beds that fill w/ water after rains) are also called "washes" or "draws." And now you (I) know. Speaking of ARROYO, a little heavy on the Spanish today, I have to say. ARROYO, plus ESPANA (9A: Rey Juan Carlos's home) plus AVILA (36A: Site of Prince Don Juan's tomb) plus TAPAS BAR. And that's not counting TRINI Alvarado, who is American but has a Spanish-born father and Puerto Rican mother. I had No Idea who Ms. Alvarado was, until I looked her up and realized that she has been on "Fringe," which I watch regularly. Weird.

My favorite answers of the day were OLD GROWTH FOREST (17A: Much of Redwood National Park) — that just seems original, so don't tell me if it's not — and LEE MARVIN (24D: Best Actor of 1965), who would be ideal of manhood if I aspired to be a really bad guy. Awesome, mid-century American badass. Love him.


  • 16A: It holds its liquor (flagon) — couldn't make FLASK stretch.
  • 26A: Sandwich site: Abbr. (Eng.) — ah, the Sandwich subtheme. Get it ... sub ... sandwich? That was a total accident. I really do hate puns, mostly.
  • 40A: Secret agent created by a 1938 Pulitzer winner (Mr. Moto) — I often forget that J.P. Marquand had another literary life outside of the MOTO mystery series.
  • 48A: Finnish composer Bergman (Erik) — Never heard of him. I know ERIK Satie and Ingrid Bergman.
  • 49A: Von Rothbart turned her into a swan (Odette) — Never going to be able to distinguish her from ODESSA and ODETTA. Or maybe I will. Someday.
  • 50D: Illustrator of Cervantes's "Don Quixote" (Doré) — Gustave DORÉ is one of the most famous book illustrators of all time. I use his Dante illustrations all the time for teaching.
  • 4D: Existential topic for Heidegger (angst) — I had GEIST (!?)
  • 5D: Home to a Shakespearean prince (Tyre) — as in "Pericles, Prince of Tyre"
  • 13D: Payload holder (nose cone) — this came easily through crosses, but might have been tougher, much tougher, without them.
  • 18D: Occasion for judging jumping (horse show) — daughter is currently Very into horses, like in that cliché way that 9-yr-olds are. Literally asked for a horse for her birthday. Who does that? She has some create/decorate-your-own-horse art project going on downstairs that she's Really into.
  • 27D: Elizabeth of "Lone Star," 1996 (Peña) — loved that movie, loved her in it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Elaine 8:23 AM  

Well, this totally kicked my butt. I turned to Google pretty early because I just did not have a clue about things like Composer Bergman or enough crosses to spark an Aha. Despite having ODETTE and ESPANA, CAEN and HORSESHOW, and even PETERI, I just did not have enough going (or enough of the answers like ROEG and TRINI and PENA) to get moving. I also fell for the COMEDIAN trap.

The SW was the worst part for me; I eventually got everything else...

So: had to Google (six times); didn't finish; never heard of TOPONYM (so at least I got a new word out of it...)
Down in flames! Hope others had better luck with this MEDIUM???? puzzle.

JannieB 8:24 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JannieB 8:25 AM  

More of a med-challenging for me, but an enjoyably tough solve throughout. Didn't fill in a thing in the NW at first, got traction in the NE with LEI & BICS. Bit by bit the whole northern hemisphere took shape.

Had so many rewrites and wrong fill in the SW - ERRS for ARCS was the last holdout. Kept wanting a more Spanish-y name for a Tapas Bar - Tapasteria or something. PeterI, SHH and IOC were both frequent rewrites. On the plus side, I threw in the awful rescan and stubbornly refused to erase it.

Great Spanish lesson from Swedish-sounding Doug. (Rex, I think "sei" is Italian; "seis" is Spanish.)

Michael Hanko 8:44 AM  

Speaking of Spanish, it (minorly) peeves me when American puzzlers equate ñ with n. They are not equivalent, so ESPAÑA should cross PEÑA, for example, but never NOSECONE.

That gotten off my chest, I quite enjoyed this puzzle!

Rex Parker 8:54 AM  

Sometimes writing early in the morning is not my friend. Of course SEI is Italian.


imsdave 9:08 AM  

I solved this in the same time as Rex, making it an easy-medium for me.

LEE MARVIN is a riot in "Cat Ballou". If you haven't seen it, see it.

Thanks Mr. P for a nice start to my day. I needed that, as I will be spending a soggy afternoon at the Big E (Eastern States Exposition) with the family today.

retired_chemist 9:12 AM  

Average Saturday – medium difficulty and a very enjoyable solve. My experience was quite similar to Rex's.

New word for me: TOPONYM. Fun. New sense of EFFETE for me. Less fun.

Had COMEDIAN at first for 15A FUNNYMAN and bet I would not be alone (good call). Had SLUT at first for 10D SLOG – ditto. ON LAND for 37A ASHORE – ditto ditto.

Ones I looked at, didn’t get, and saw only after the crosses nailed them: TYRE, AMOK, PENA.

CAEN @ 46A – OK, it’s in Normandy, and a good guess, but who knew? Nice. (Mais non, Nice est dans le sud.)

Thank you, Mr. Peterson.

dk 9:29 AM  

I gotta grow up: Source of croquetas is not a babesbar. Well at least I did not use slut as fill :):)

When the good angel on my shoulder shouted OVERHERE loud enough the south west fell.

What was the radio/TV skit where the punch line was "Now whose the FUNNY MAN." Inquiring minds want to know.

A medium for me and a fine one at that.

Note: Montpelier is the only capital city without a McDonalds and Stowe is one (if not only) place where the McDonalds closed for lack of business. Go Vermont my former home.

Found a Simpson's Church and an Acme building while scraping together a photo exhibit. Expect new little pictures soon. I guess Minneapolis is NOTSOBAD, SNORTED dk

ps. I still think the brakes are antilock.

pps. Just rewatched Lone Star and (as always) Rex is right.

Hobbyist 10:00 AM  

Add me to the comedian group, also to the toponym bunch. I had awake and aware before alert, as well as the ubiquitous Dali for Dore. Many traps but I won this time in about one hour. For me, that's good for a Sat. At opening, the only thing I was sure about was Odette but poco a poco I grew alert and awake and aware. Fun.

Meg 10:02 AM  

I had LEE MAJORS for a while, knowing that he couldn't possibly have won Best Actor.

Only got stuck in the SE. Big head slap on "50 before two". How could I have missed that?

Several people I'd never heard of, but that's to be expected. The tricky cluing made me suspicious of everything.... "Price part" Something to do with Vincent or Leontyne?

I don't quite get TORO as a "source of body piercing" The bull? Isn't the matador the source? The mower company? Well, that's gross. What am I missing?

This was a most enjoyable puzzle!

Jeffrey 10:13 AM  

OLD GROWTH FOREST is a familiar term around these parts, so with that and G FORCE, comedian was never an option.

Right on my average Saturday time so medium it is. Fine puzzle.

Michele Humes 10:25 AM  

I really have to object to the cluing of TOPONYM. While Sandwich is indeed a town in Kent, the sandwich was named after the Earl and not his seat. There are plenty of other toponyms to choose from, so I'm just surprised they went for a borderline case.

Michele Humes 10:28 AM  

P.S. I thought I'd double-check with the intergoogles: Sandwich is, just as I'd suspected, an EPONYM.

HudsonHawk 10:31 AM  

Easy-Medium until I reached the Pacific Northwest, which kicked it up to Medium. Hand up for COMEDIAN, and also for thinking along the lines of ROYAL WE for 1A. I'll admit SLUT also crossed my mind for SLOG at 10D.

I really wanted DELICIOUS for 31A, but only TOPONYM would fit. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was on the other night, so LEE MARVIN was on the brain.

IOC seemed timely. Congrats to Rio.

edith b 10:48 AM  

Every time I see a Doug Peterson late-week puzzle, I struggle with it and today was no exception. I managed to sidestep the COMEDIAN trap as I started this one in the NE with ESPANA at 8A. I fought the ANTILOCK/ANTISKID fignt but it seemed more likely that 28A ended in K than C so I went with AMOK crossing ANTISKID. This detail is important as it broke open the NE for me and gave me *******FOREST as my entree to the NW and it is ironic that I just read an article about OLDGROWTHFORESTs in a magazine which gave me a foothold to complete all of the North down to the TRINI DELETE line.

MRMOTO was a neon for me as I knew John P Marquand's history and SNORTED allowed me to break into the SE. I managed to knock this one out in a shade less than an hour but it was a typical struggle with Doug Peterson.

TOPONYM was a new one on me and I pieced it together when I got PINCHERS crossing the P. I googled it after the fact so I would know the next time it rears its head as is my wont.

Stan 10:53 AM  

Hard (for me) but fun. I can't usually finish a Saturday. It was great when every long answer opened up a new impossible-seeming section.

Thanks to Swedish-sounding Doug, and thanks to Bronson Arroyo for being mentioned on NPR's "Only a Game" this mornng.

Unknown 10:54 AM  

hi nice to be here. and i come with a great gift for you to see.

go there to see! :)

Greene 11:04 AM  

A lot of typical Saturday flailing about for me. Just stared at a blank grid for a while, but finally got going with MR MOTO and ERIK Bergman. That was enough to give me SMOKERS and the race was on. Sixty two minutes later, victory was mine, but what a struggle.

Initially had DALI as the illustrator, and I think he actually did some illustrations for Don Quixote, but Gustave DORE ultimately made more sense. I had UKE for LEI at first too, and AVERS for AVOWS, and...well, you get the idea.

Clever cluing for EFFETE which really threw me off. I looked it up and it's correct, of course, just fine Saturday misdirection. EFFETE almost always makes me think of Truman Capote.

And in honor of Saturday mornings, allow me to share this which always comes to mind when I see AMOK in the grid (It's ok to click on the link. No stupid advertising ploys, I promise).

slypett 11:17 AM  

Yesterday whipped me with a cat-o'-nine-tails. Today it was choppy sailing, but sailing. Did it by the compass: NE, SE, NW, and came ashore in the SW.

Overall, fun for me.

Two Ponies 11:20 AM  

Brutal clues today. Some of the proper name crossings were rough as well.
This puzzle made me hungry. 31A sounds like a Sunday brunch.
Like @meg I had the Lee M and thought Lee Majors?? Surely not.
I got slowed down in the SW because I was looking for croquetas in le jardin.
Ashore was in port or on land for awhile.
Mr. Moto was a spy? I thought he was a detective.
Ah well, another bruising for me.
@ andrea from late yesterday, Yes I love those moments as well!

chefbea 11:24 AM  

Sorry I haven't been around the last couple of days. What did I miss?

Wanted comedian and also litter instead of catnip. A really tough puzzle with lots of googling. Knew toponym would be the word of the day

mac 11:26 AM  

Wonder what that ad is about... I'm not going to look for it!

Yes, this was a Medium for a Saturday for me, too. Really enjoyed it, as I almost always do Doug Peterson's work. I also had comedian for funnyman for a while, and taperias. I think we discussed the eponym/toponym issue not too long ago, my problem was that I was wavering between loco- and toponym...

Funny about the pinchers, I'm just taking some new shoes to the shoe repairman to have them stretched. Tight shoes are hell.

I had "flacon" before flagon, is this a var.? Didn't think an ace limit would exist in the NBA.

Liked the old growth forest; if it weren't for the new growth forest we would have a view of the Sound from our house.

jae 11:34 AM  

Medium-challenging for me. Lots more staring than yesterday. Tried REARAXLE and AWARE but did not fall in to the COMEDIAN trap as I had ENDING early and stuck with it. Liked this one, SE was the toughest part for me.

LEE MARVIN was also in a fine 60s TV cop show called M-Squad.

ArtLvr 11:38 AM  

It took me ages, but I won out -- Last to fall was the NW because I wanted 1A to be "HAIRY APE" (great book) and an actual comic below that (Hennyman, Penniman?) until FUNNY MAN became obvious. Also, with an L to start 24D, I wanted LON CHANEY. Otherwise, NOT SO BAD today...

IOC was timely, too bad Chicago didn't get the nod for 2016! And a shout out to the Ken Burns series on PBS featuring the National Parks too.


poc 11:44 AM  

@Michelle: you're right about Sandwich, it's an Eponym.

Also, again with the Ñ? As has been said repeatedly, it's *not* an N with a tilde, it's a different letter. It was introduced as typographical shorthand for a double n, thus doña (Spanish) versus donna (Italian). There was also an l with a stroke to stand for ll, but it has fallen into disuse.

Anyway, I found this one quite challenging but apart from Ñ issue the fill was pretty good, especially BEEINONESBONNET. And no sporting figures!

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Fun cluing on this puzz. My favorite was "fifty before two" (I guess it just reminds me of how stultified the adult rules of telling time seemed to me when I was very young). Plus the clue "a souvenir that's strung" is genius -- a fun way to liven up some tired old crosswordese -- the first time my mind has ever teetered UKE-or-LEI-ly. Heehee. Sorry, I never can resist a pun. >RockRabbit

archaeoprof 12:07 PM  

Perfect timing for 1A GREATAPE, after the announcement the other day of (as the WSJ put it) our "newest oldest relative."

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Hey archaeoprof, very true. I wonder how long it will take for "Ardi" to debut in a grid? >RockRabbit

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Earl of Sandwich was not his name; it was his title. Therefore toponym works for me.

Ugarte 12:42 PM  

In No Hero , where Mr. Moto first appeared he was said to be a Counter-Espionage Agent. In later treatments he morphed into an International Policeman.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  


Loved your Hawaii-themed double pun. I should think even pun-averse Rex will admire how seamlessly the pun fits into the context. Keep 'em coming!

PlantieBea 1:15 PM  

I liked this but it was challenging for me. In order to complete it, I had to google to gain a critical mass of answers in the grid. I had a similar solving experience to Rex in the NW. I also got stuck a while with the contemptuous SNEERED and ALIVE for not out of it. I have had problems with DP's puzzles before, so my longggg solving time requiring help is no surprise to me.

Yay for OLD GROWTH FOREST. I wish we had more; I'd love to see old cypress and long leaf pine, all but gone.

fergus 1:55 PM  

Thought about EVERYMAN for while since FUNNY seemed awkward with the crosses. OLD GROWTH was a revelation since I was trying to fit in something Klamath-related. My Decide was RECKON, but that was too awkward too.

I was wondering about the Shut up Clue. Shouldn't it be hyphenated? That's not a BIOB -- I simply know what's correct in that case?

In France instead of Vermont.

And yeah, "Lone Star" was brilliant.

andrea over here! michaels 1:59 PM  

hate following the asian grafitti spam, but here it is.
almost word for word experience of Rex today...from musing on age limit/minimum to stretching out eponym to lack of Scrabblyness, from Eriks I've heard of etc.
Thankyou Rexblog for not making me feel alone in this world!

It did seem that there were a lot of repeat words we've been discussing of late...some even in the same positions which was odd (ANTISKID vs ANTILOCK) TYRE, ONETEN
Oh wait, I see I had TOMO and ATHOME!!! TMOKERS???!! WTF?)

So nice challenge, Doug Finnish-sounding Peterson! You got me!

Susan 2:25 PM  

I had fun with this one, although I couldn't finish without help; notably my husband came in just in time to tell me what the NBA clue meant and to break open the NE for me. Effete used that way was totally new to me, too. Toponym is a word I knew, but I had to get the nym before I figured out that was what was wanted there.

I have seen the expression "anti-skid brakes" exactly two times in my life, both in the NYTimes puzzle. Who's with me?

The SE would have been easier if I hadn't immediately thrown down Gisele (which isn't even spelled right) in place of Odette. I don't know how long I had that before it hit me that I had my ballets mixed up.

But as usual, Saturday is fun, even when I can't get it all because I always learn something from it.

Ladel 2:30 PM  

It was Spiro Agnew who put the seldom used effete on the map when he characterized some protesters as effete. Should have paid more attention to his tax returns.

Doug P 2:33 PM  

Thanks for the comments, everybody.

I agree that AGE LIMIT sounds strange, but that's the way the NBA refers to it.

I had no idea what a TOPONYM was until I couldn't get SYNONYM or ACRONYM to work in that spot. And I just realized that "Natick" is a toponym. Sweet!

joho 2:33 PM  

Definitely challenging for me because now, as I won't allow myself to Google, I didn't finish. I did all but the SE. I had SIDEShot. I keep thinking ODETTTE is Odile. And even though CATNIP has invaded our puzzles of late, it didn't occur to me today.

It didn't fit, but my first thought for Stand-up guy was bestman.

I also had NOTSOHOT until I got BAD.

I lost today but still enjoyed the challenge ... thanks Doug! I think I'll go snark out some croquetas to which I'll add a sandwich with Edam and wash down with a good Champagne.

Clark 2:42 PM  

I had to google REISER and ROEG to get anywhere in the NW. The obvious choices for 4D were 'death' and 'being'. 'Geist' is definitely not one of Heidegger's words (not that there's anything wrong with thinking it might be). I was thinking English words, so I missed ANGST. Nothing wrong with the clue, though, as this German word has earned its green card.

When saturdays become easy for me the puzzle will no longer be so much fun.

Hobbyist 2:48 PM  

Addendum. The flagon with the dragon holds the brew that is true or is it the potion in the pestle or the chalice with the palace? Funny Danny Kaye movie from my youth with the title of The Court Jester.

mee 2:57 PM  

I usually limit my comment to the information in the puzzle, but today I wanted to confess that I could not finish this puzzle. The NE was pretty much blank except for the wrong comedian and REISER and TYRE were not known to me. In fact, you could switch the clues and I would believe you if you told me. See I thought Timon was from Athens and Pericles was from Sparta. I also wrote a B in too quickly and reading the result as 'pee in one's bonnet' was a surprise. Ok, next time only medical and science information.

Doc John 2:58 PM  

I'm surprised that you left out TORO, Rex. Interestingly clued but at the same time I think that the cluing should have had some hint toward español in it.
Elizabeth Peña is also in the pre-show for the Rock n Roller Coaster at one of the Disney parks. Unfortunately, she phoned that performance in.

Ulrich 2:58 PM  

It was one of those Saturdays when I couldn't even get really going w/o googling some strategic answers, a gimme here and there being of no help. What completely stymied me in the NW is that if there is any 5-letter word Heidegger is associated with, it would be "being" (Sein), not Angst, which I do not associate with him at all--it's a case where knowing more works against you (unless our philosopher friends here set me straight on this). To make things worse, COMEDIAN confirmed this guess--took me forever and an OLD GROWTH FOREST to erase all of that. If things are that difficult, enjoyment is hard to come by.

@poc: I have been waging a similar campaign for the proper recognition of German umlauts and finally given up...

mee 2:59 PM  

NW not NE

Ulrich 3:01 PM  

@Clark: Typing took me so long hat I saw your comment re "being" only after I had published, what is the connection between Heidegger and Angst, aside from that they both are German?

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

Agreed with the Heidegger/Angst "Where did that come from?" sentiment, but Heidegger was seminal to the ANGST ridden (Sartre et al), so there has to be a modicum of accuracy there.

Martin 3:18 PM  


American crosswords use a simple rule: diacriticals are omitted. "ANO" causes many great distress. I have pointed out that "GOTHE" is not correct because "GOETHE" is how the name is correctly spelled when umlaut-challenged. Will Shortz has responded publically that he fully understands and appreciates that these are indeed misspellings in their native languages but that the "omit all diacriticals" rule is the most sensible way to construct American crossword fill without putting undue demands on constructors. Depriving them of an invaluable entry like "ANO" (or forcing it to be always clued as a Wheel of Fortune request) is undeserved punishment.


"While Sandwich is indeed a town in Kent,..."

Therefore Sandwich is a toponym. The clue doesn't say anything about the Earl or the food. Choosing three place-names that could trigger associations with meals was a trap that snared you.

Rex Parker 3:31 PM  

Martin said:

"While Sandwich is indeed a town in Kent,..."

Therefore Sandwich is a toponym.


That is some seriously flawed logic. If sandwich (the kind you eat) got its name from the Earl, even if he is the Earl of (place name) Sandwich, then TOPONYM is tenuous at best. I'd say it's wrong. Search [sandwich eponym] and find attestation aplenty. Search [sandwich toponym] and find ... this website. Your response to Michele was glib and dismissive. The fact that she was "snared" is evidence of nothing. Your pt about diacritical remarks, however, is right on, so thanks for that.

Here's an interesting note I pulled from

The word "sandwich" seems to straddle the boundary between toponym and eponym (though it seems to be universally classified as the latter). The person was John Montagu, and the place he was earl of was Sandwich. But the word "sandwich" was coined in reference to him, not the place, though the place-name was used to build the word. If it were a pure eponym, we should be eating montagus.

Nathan Sanders
Linguistics Program (Email Removed) Williams College Williamstown, MA 01267


Martin 3:36 PM  


Why do you think the kind you eat is relevant? Sandwich, Champagne and Edam are three place-names. It's that simple. The clue was clever to place "Sandwich" first, where the capitalization aided the misdirection.

Clark 3:49 PM  

@Ulrich -- In Heidegger's Being and Time there are three prominent existential structures: Angst (anxiety), Tod (death) and Gewissen (conscience), which are authentic modes of Befindlichkeit (findingness), Verstehen (understanding) and Rede (discourse or telling), respectively. (These in turn make up the structure of Being-in as such, which is part of the being make-up of Dasein, "the entity that we ourselves in each case are".) 'Angst' goes back to Kierkegaard, but the connection is a bit hidden because his book Begrebet Angest became popular in English with the title 'The Concept of Dread.'

poc 3:55 PM  

@Martin: your comment on diacriticals is apposite, but I'd just like to quote from the Wikipedia article on Ñ (see It even mentions Peña as an example:

The replacement of "ñ" with another letter alters the pronunciation and meaning of a word or name, in the same manner as replacing any letter with a different one would. Peña is a common Spanish surname and a common noun that means "ridge;" it is often anglicized into Pena, changing the name into the Spanish word for "sorrow" (and Latin American Spanish for "embarrassment"). Another common example: "año" means "year", but "ano" means "anus".

Personally, I'd prefer constructors either to spell these words properly, or to omit them if they can't. I realize that this is unlikely to happen. Note that in today's crossword the misplaced N in ESPANA crosses the first N in NOSECONE, i.e. it really is an N and not a mistyped Ñ. Since there is no such word as "espana", this makes no sense. Sigh.

chefwen 4:15 PM  

I will allow myself to Google on a Friday and Saturday but it must be kept at a bare minimum.

Just the mere fact that I finished, although it took me a good hour last night and another half hour this morning, I thought for sure that Rex would rate it easy. Finishing Fri and Sat is making me a very happy girl.

Didn't fall into the antilock trap like I did a couple of weeks ago.
TOPONYM was a new one for me also.

retired_chemist 4:22 PM  

I have no ANGST over Sandwich as a toponym, dicey though that may be. Not a pain in the ANO.

Martin 4:31 PM  

BTW, the original definition of "toponym" is a place-name, although modern usage extends to something named for the place. Some authors avoid the second meaning completely to avoid confusion. They call edam (cheese) a word derived from a toponym.

Ulrich 4:49 PM  

@Clark: Thank you. You gotta love a blog that allows people to talk about everything from Befindlichkeit to ano. And I must confess that I never read a word of Heidegger--his unique style is so highly parodied and panned in Germany that I could never bring myself to confront him--I only read Adorno about him.

@Martin: Since you brought it up: "Goethe" is the only correct spelling; "Göthe" would be wrong--constructors take note!!!

Stan 4:49 PM  

@Hobbyist: I also loved that scene from "The Court Jester" as a kid. Definitely, "The flagon with the dragon holds the brew that is true" -- but the rest I can't remember.

twangster 4:52 PM  

Unless I'm missing it, Meg's question is not answered in the comments: Sometimes the bull gores the matador, so the bull's doing the piercing.

Meg 4:56 PM  


Thanks! I hadn't thought of it that way.

Anonymous 5:04 PM  

Biggest hang-up for me was that ELIGIBLE fit where AGELIMIT should go. I was so proud of ELIGIBLE that I couldn't let it go.

Anonymous 5:35 PM  

Why haven't we ever had a puzzle with a DIACRITICAL MARK theme? There's your central 15, and each corner could have a pair of foreign-language entries crossing at the accented (or tilde-d) letter. Get on it, constructors! (Or point me to it, if it already exists...)

Silly Martin... only Rex is allowed to be glib and dismissive to commenters! (I kid because I love.)

imsdave 5:54 PM  

@anonymous 5:35 (and Ulrich) - I'm a tyro at this, but have been working on that type of puzzle for about 10 months now - easier said than done - trust me.

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

I'm no scientist, but I believe G-FORCE refers is acceleration through freefall in space -- while gravity is the source of the acceleration, G-FORCE is not what keeps you to the ground.

But I could be wrong.

I realize there's some leeway for cluing but that one seemed off to me.

Steve J 6:13 PM  

@Susan: I had the exact same thought: I've only seen "antiskid" brakes in the NYT crossword. I used to work with auto clients. They are never called that. At least not in American English. Always antilock brakes.

Martin 6:25 PM  


I would never take an accusation of "some seriously flawed logic" personally here, and certainly try to avoid returning such in kind.

I certainly meant no disrespect to anyone with my response. Even in retrospect, I don't any, but sincere apologies to anyone who felt my opinion was stated with glibness. I admit I've always confused confidence and glibness, but it's a cross I bear in good company.

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

I have really not been enjoying answers like TBILLS and GFORCE lately. I guess my crossword sensibility is not tuned in.

Babslesley 6:39 PM  

Started last night. (I found out I could access the puzzle at about 10 p.m. Texas time.) On and off, it's taken me till now and I didn't have some of the NW until I peeked here. But this is what I like on a Friday or Saturday. Starting out hopeless, putting it down for a few hours, and gradually filling it in. A real challenge for me. Good job, Doug Peterson.

Martin 6:48 PM  

I guess I'm official contrarian today, but "antiskid brakes" is a common enough phrase. Sure "antilock brakes" gets more hits, but 2 million is not exactly a sign of obscurity.

I've always prefered "antiskid." It describes why ("so you won't skid") rather than how "so your caliper won't lock the rotor for more than 150 milliseconds") so it strikes me as a more "user-friendly" term.

"Anti-lock" is a direct translation of the German behind the acronym "ABS." Describing the how rather than the why is so Teutonic.

mac 7:14 PM  

@Martin: Welcome! I don't know how long you have been lurking or commenting, but it seems to me you are fairly new. You need to know that we try to adhere to the "three comments and out" rule. It makes the comments section much more interesting and diverse.

Lawrie 7:18 PM  

I spent a ridiculous amount of time in the NW because I was certain for far too long that 17A was deciduousforest. I also never heard the word toponym, and ended up with poponym, making 31D papa'sbar, and thinking that maybe it was a place where Hemenway might have hung out. Despite how long it took me, I enjoyed the puzzle.

Leslie 8:23 PM  

I'm sending a huge, relieved "thank-you" wave to Meg and Greene. They reassured me that I'm not the only one to put in LEE MAJORS, knowing he couldn't possibly have won a Best Actor Oscar in 1965 or any other year, and to put in DALI instead of DORE. I couldn't put my finger on DORE, and thought, "Well, probably there have been many editions of 'Don Quixote.' Who's to say Salvadore Dali didn't do illustrations for one of them?"

I do like knowing "toponym" now.

Glitch 9:46 PM  

Here I go again:

14D: Like some brakes

Nowhere in the clue is "Automobile" mentioned.

FYI: Transport Aircraft have BOTH anti-lock AND anti-skid brakes, for different purposes. They also have air brakes, as do large trucks, but not the same function. ALL fit the clue.

As with the earlier discussion of Toponym, (and previous discussions of "Driving surfaces"), if you lock your mind into something, (Foods, PGA Golf) you will just get frustrated and cranky.

I found your posts today cogent, thus have no problem with the number.

The 3 and out "rule" is a guideline thus, like most of the alledged rules in puzzledom, often violated, providing fodder for this blog.

But unless one is "beating a dead horse", most of us slip in an occasional extra post ot two (or three) without incuring any wrath.



Ulrich 10:03 PM  

@Glitch: Taking the liberty you just gave me w/o being authorized from the powers that be, I want to support you fully in what you say about the peril of having your mind locked into something (flexibility of mind has been my mantra of late, after all), and besides today's food example, the driving surface from a few days came to my mind, too. You expanded the examples with the brake system of today...

...and re. the Teutons' tendency to name the "how" instead of the "why", I guess that explains why they call birth-control pills Antibaby-Pillen...

Anonymous 12:57 AM  

Martin, I guess I should apologize, I was trying to tweak Rex, who is often far more glib and dismissive than you were. Maybe not glib, I'm not sure what that means exactly (and in a blog context) but surely dismissive! :) Sorry.

Mac, Martin (Herbach) is a proofreader for the nyt, he's been braving the blogs to defend definitions, and why not, Shortz trusts him to be right! I appreciate the info. There was an interview at Wordplay a couple months ago(?).
-anonymouse 5:35

fergus 1:20 AM  

I remember the occasional comment from Martin from way back. Almost always providing a voice of measured reason, or pointing out some subtle twist. Sort of like that Martin guy in "Candide."

slypett 2:26 AM  

andrea julia michaels: It's 2 bloody 19 here on the right coast and I just watched "Dinner Impossible." Two things: One, it is now obvious to me that I am a puzzle pervert; two, you are an utterly delightful and rare person. Well done!

mac 9:10 AM  

@Martin: I did not know you are a proofreader, and I like the discussion of the issues you bring up. If you've read this blog a lot you must know that when the back and forth goes on too long it sometimes gets ugly. Didn't mean to be disciplinarian, just wanted to stave off trouble! Sorry.

retired_chemist 10:02 AM  

@ Lawrie - I LOVE Papa's Bar. Got a good alternate definition for POPONYM? Maybe someone named for his/her father? (Her is OK , sort of: my younger daughter was knowingly given my initials and before she was married sometimes signed her name in letters to family RAC Jr.)

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

I couldn't believe a four-letter Elizabeth in a mid-90s movie wasn't SHUE.

Michele Humes 2:02 PM  


I see what you're saying. The only glib part of your initial response to me (it -was- a little glib, sir) was that you didn't take the trouble to define "toponym," with whose alternate meaning of "place name" I was clearly unfamiliar! Now that you've explained yourself I see exactly where I went wrong.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Re: 1 down in Tuesday's puzzle: Christine's lover in Phantom of the Opera was Raoul. Erik is the name of the Phantom in the original story.

Willy 1:56 PM  

Is there another blog, or a continuation of this one, for those of us who do the NYT crossword in syndication -- 5 weeks late?

a Marylander 11:52 PM  

Merriam Webster online defines EFFETE as follows:
1 : no longer fertile
2 a : having lost character, vitality, or strength (the effete monarchies…of feudal Europe — G. M. Trevelyan) b : marked by weakness or decadence (the effete East) c : soft or delicate from or as if from a pampered existence (peddled…trendy tweeds to effete Easterners — William Helmer) (effete tenderfeet); also : characteristic of an effete person (a wool scarf…a bit effete on an outdoorsman — Nelson Bryant)
3 : EFFEMINATE 1 (a good-humored, effete boy brought up by maiden aunts — Herman Wouk).

Spiro Agnew, who later resigned in disgrace for taking bribes, pelted antiwar protesters and the press who covered them with alliterative epithets--"pusillanimous pussyfooters," "nattering nabobs of negativism" and "an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”

I’m from Maryland and Spiro Agnew’s time as White House VP was not our finest hour. I also remember Dick Cavett saying on TV that “grow a penis” was an anagram of the name. Ouch.

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

Am I the only one that took exception to 7-down,"nails surrounded by hair"?

A paw has claws or talons and it is surrounded by fur. I thought of "paw", but dismissed it as too easy and inappropriate.

Also had "Youngman" for stand-up guy way too long.

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