Bygone laborer — FRIDAY, Nov. 13 2009 — Item-concealing shoplifting aid / NFL'er Olsen Toler / Port near Ogre / Kale kin / Debt disregarders slangily

Friday, November 13, 2009

Constructor: Dana Motley

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SCUDS (33A: Moves quickly, as a cloud)intr.v., scud·ded, scud·ding, scuds.

  1. To run or skim along swiftly and easily: dark clouds scudding by.
  2. Nautical. To run before a gale with little or no sail set.
  1. The act of scudding.

    1. Wind-driven clouds, mist, or rain.
    2. A gust of wind.
    3. Ragged low clouds, moving rapidly beneath another cloud layer.
[Possibly from Middle English scut, rabbit, rabbit's tail. See scut1.]

This one made me woozy. Not ABSINTHE woozy (24D: Potent stuff called "the green fairy") — more punchy and dazed woozy. Took me twice as long as my normal Friday. In retrospect, the grid looks pretty harmless — but the clues, good lord. I couldn't understand what many of them were getting at, and even with the answers in place I remain puzzled by a few. My second-favorite bit of fill is also the iffiest thing in the grid. Never heard of a BOOSTER BOX (30D: Item-concealing shoplifting aid), and so looked it up — not in dictionary, and attestations online are poor. It's in the "Urban Dictionary," but then again so is the "Natick Principle." Pretty sure that's not good enough. Worse, the term BOOSTER BAG *does* appear to have legs, and may be what many people tried first down there in the SE corner. Me, I tried BOOSTER BRA. Looks like BOOSTER BRAs just help you boost boobs, not boost booty.

[Jane's Addiction, "Been Caught Stealing," after the annoying Bing / vampire ad...]

I couldn't get any kind of purchase on the puzzle's longer answers, except ACROPHOBIA (60A: Source of high anxiety?) and TEASPOON (38D: 1/768 gallon). At one I point I looked at my sorry, tattered grid and the only word longer than 7 letters that I had in place was Hal HOLBROOK (10D: Best Actor Tony winner for "Mark Twain Tonight!"), and I'd had to hack to get that. I got frustrated with the puzzle when I hit *three* actor clues very close to one another. I may have said, out loud, "O my God give it a rest!" But the long answers ... YELLOW BIRD (21A: American goldfinch)? Meaningless to me. BLUEBIRD, GREENBIRD, BLACKBIRD, BEIGEBIRD ... Color + bird. Wouldn't have guessed YELLOW BIRD was a technical name. More like something a child (or I) would say when pointing at a YELLOW BIRD. GAS GUZZLER, which is lovely (17A: Big wheels, often), remained hidden for a long time as a. "Wheels" can mean a lot of things, and b. while "wheels" = "car" (singular, i.e. "Nice wheels"), "wheels" = "cars" didn't click for me. "Z" crosses came late. Had the terminal "R" and wanted "something CAR." COPPER MINE? Just waited for lots of crosses. I've got no idea what a 52A: Bingham Canyon operation is. And I live in BINGHAMton! And then POSTER GIRL (3D: She's identified with a cause) — not a lot of luck there until I got the GIRL part and worked up.


  • 67A: They're applied to some backs (waxes) — to remove hair, I assume? Talk about hiding the "X"...
  • 1D: Port near Ogre (Riga) — Know RIGA, but Ogre, not so much.
  • 5D: Sch. whose sports teams are the Violets (NYU) — part of me knows I should have known this and part of me (yet again) resents the provincialism of the NY puzzle. Must remember, despite its international solver base, it's The *New York* Times puzzle.
  • 18D: Grammy category starting in 2007 (Zydeco) — with the "O" in place, wanted TEJANO, and then nothing.
  • 9D: Willful (strong) — these words seem only tangentially related to me.
  • 66A: The U.S. Treasury is on their backs (tens) — they're on the backs of lots of bills. "Backs" must be to tie in to the subsequent Across clue (see WAXES, above). [ah, this clue refers to the Treasury *building*, which is $10 bill-specific — duly noted]
  • 33A: Moves quickly, as a cloud (scuds) — SCUDS are missiles to me. I had trouble believing that something as poetic-seeming as a fast-moving cloud could be described by as phenomenally ugly a word as SCUDS.
  • 59A: Title locale in a Leonard Bernstein song where "life was so cozy" ("Ohio") — no idea. None.

  • 56A: N.F.L.'er Olsen or Toler (Greg) — just Noooo idea. Wanted MERL, and wondered why. Then remembered the (legitimately) great and puzzle-worthy MERLIN Olsen (NFL Hall-of-Famer and "Little House on the Prairie" cast member).
  • 27D: "Dawson's Creek" role (Andie) — show for teens that's been dead for nearly a decade!? I watched this show (briefly) and couldn't remember ANDIE (not one of the four main kids, not even on first season of the show). Dawson, Joey, Pacey, I know. ANDIE, ugh.
  • 48D: Cabinda is an exclave of it (Angola) — gibberish to me, and I knew (from previous xwords) what an "exclave" was!
  • 57D: "Nosferatu, _____ Symphonie des Grauens" ("Eine") — aargh, is "des" a German word!? "Symphonie des Grauens" looks totally French. I had OU LA here at first. Seemed plausible.
  • 43D: Dog for logs (andiron) — still don't get it. "Dog?" Oh, wait, here we go. TENTH meaning of "dog": Any of various hooked or U-shaped metallic devices used for gripping or holding heavy objects. (
  • 13D: President who was born a King (Ford) — must look up. Hmmm, FORD was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., but his father was violent and so his mother left him and eventually married Gerald Rudolff Ford: "James M. Cannon, a member of the Ford administration, wrote in a Ford biography that the Kings' separation and divorce were sparked when, a few days after Ford's birth, Leslie King threatened Dorothy with a butcher knife and threatened to kill her, Ford, and Ford's nursemaid. Ford later told confidantes that his father had first hit his mother on their honeymoon for smiling at another man" (wikipedia).
  • 7D: Kale kin (collard) — never seen the word without GREENS following it. Wanted ... some kind of CHARD. Or KOHLRABI (sp??), which I'm now being told by my wife is a bulbous root. Confused it with Broccoli RABE, I guess.

What else? Well, I got CARE BEAR pretty quickly, so pat on the back / hide face in shame for that (26A: Funshine, Grumpy or Love-a-lot). Couldn't decide between ELMER and ELSIE for a while at 31D: Bovine at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Got GLOBE right away (29A: Meridian shower), then noticed "GLOBE" in the clues — 40D: 2006 Golden Globe Best Actress (Streep). With So Many wonderful possibilities for cluing her, why use such a dull vague clue, anyway? On a day like this, I was actually very grateful to have ASTA show up (20A: Literary schnauzer). A fine-looking grid, with clues that just weren't on my wavelength At All.

Oh, and my favorite answer in the grid? WELCHERS (22D: Debt disregarders, slangily). Never mind that I thought the word was WELSHERS.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


nanpilla 8:18 AM  

This one actually moved ALONG pretty smoothly for me until I got to the SE corner. Having bag instead of BOX (just as you predicted, Rex)slowed me way down. Finally changed it to BOX, and then stared at _AXES. Took a long time to get through the alphabet on that one, and finally accept WAXES for backs. I've heard of the phrase "hems and haws" but I must say I've never actually heard someone say HAW. When my daughter did her public speaking part of her 4-H requirement, the judges would count the number of times each child said um or er. But no HAWS.
The clue dogs for logs was so strange that I made myself think hard about it, and ANDIRON was one of the first things I put in the grid.
This one didn't look like a Friday, with no wide open spaces, but I did just notice that there are no 3 letter words - OOXTEPLERNON might be angry!

Jim Finder 8:20 AM  

Great review today, Rex. I've never heard anyone say "haw" (61D) while I guess this entry is based on the phrase "hemming and hawing."

Leslie 8:32 AM  

Yep--"andiron" = "firedog." And SCUDS came without hesitation, since I too have always thought that was a very . . . heavy? word for such an airy phenomenon, which helped me remember it.

And "goldfinch" leading to YELLOW BIRD seems fine, if oddly simple compared to some of the other clues and answers.

I thought AMMO was a funny and great answer for "need for heat." GREG surprised me (as it was meant to) because with "Olsen" and "Toler," I was sure the answer must be Olie or Sven or something like that.

dk 8:42 AM  

Began with etes for hot time, leer for watch things and techno instead of ZYDECO so the OHIO portion was slow to fill.

HAW and WAXES are odd but the only thing that would work with my favorite phobia.

Like Rex, this one took a while with much of the fill seemingly dropping from the sky. For example COPPERMINE, OSHKOSH and CAREBEAR.

Playing at being @w.e.emaba today as I attempt to use Benford's law to detect anomalies in consumer transaction data.

Solid Friday IMHO, Thank you Dana.

joho 8:42 AM  

Well, seeing ASTA clued as a schauzer really got my fur up. ASTA is wire-haired fox terrier, for heaven's sake. Then I got the point of "literary." Evidently in the book ASTA is a schauzer, on screen a fox terrier.

I had scan for LCDS for way too long. That section was the trickiest part of the puzzle for me. Started this late last night and finished this morning so I am pleased to see the "challenging" rating.


Fun Friday, Dana Motley ... thank you!

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

Nice write up, Rex.
I feel like OLEO in a restaurant-- completely whipped by this puppy. NE fell quickly for me, and HOLBROOK and CAREBEAR and ABSINTHE were easy fill. The rest was a disaster.
I have to say the Bernstein clue really threw me, 59A,(OHIO), since he only wrote the music, not the lyrics, to the song, from Wonderful Town (Lyrics were by Comden and Green).

JannieB 8:58 AM  

@joho - I resisted entering Asta in the grid for the same reason - when the downs told me it had to be, I realized the purpose of "literary". A fun factoid.

I also tried booster bag first, thinking of backpacks and tote bags used for a less than legitmate reason.

The oleo clue bugs me - the only place you'd find it in stick form at a restaurant would be in the kitchen. No way would it ever be seen on the table - as a pat or pre-packaged maybe, but never a stick.

Otherwise, a pretty average Friday for me. Lots of nice "aha" moments.

MsCarrera 9:08 AM  

With several "no ideas", "never heard of", "wouldn't have guessed", "didn't click for me", "not so much", "then nothing", "couldn't remember", "gibberish to me", "still didn't get it", "must look up", "couldn't decide", "confused with...", I wonder how Rex was able to complete this thing at all. I certainly couldn't - got a tad more than a third of the way through it. Oh well, if one solves them every time, I guess it would get to be a boring pastime.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

This puzzle was a real drag, no theme (I know themeless Fri) lots of misdirection, thats good, but Streep won her Golden Globe at the 2007 awards show. She may have won it for something she did in 2006 but it was presented in 2007. Not an enjoyable solve, and now it's done. Golfballman

twangster 9:22 AM  

I plugged away at this one and managed to finish, except I had SAXES instead of WAXES, since you do strap a sax on your back.

retired_chemist 9:26 AM  

Challenging, but in the end doable. Finished with no google, and no errors, in an enjoyable 32 min.

Much I did not know, but the difficult clues led eventually to answers we all know in other contexts. As Rex found, this one doesn't allow for easy solving via the long answers without crosses. OSHKOSH, COPPER MINE, BOOSTER BOX, and CARE BEAR, once in place, still didn't evoke the clue to me. At least each was reasonably consistent with it.

Did the math to get TEASPOON. Nice clue. had DUKES @ 8D first, which undeservedly gave me AOUT.

Yellow Bird is a song I knew in my youth. Recorded inter alii by The Kingston Trio, Harry Belafonte, and (of all people) LAWRENCE WHELK (see yesterday's blog) Correctly clud as an alternate name for goldfinch, per Prof. Google.

The Corgi of Mystery 9:33 AM  

Nice puzzle and write-up. I feel like the constructor and I were in some weird mind-meld this morning, actually, as I finished in a pretty fast Friday time. Gimmes included CARE BEAR (hides face in shame with Rex), ABSINTHE and a host of other short answers. SW was the last to fall because I was holding on to OHNO for a little too long, making AMMO invisible, but thankfully it all sorted itself out.

Oh, and I would like to thank Matt Gaffney for making EINE a gimme for me thanks to his Nosferatu puzzle a few weeks ago.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

The U S Treasury *building* is on the back of the ten dollar bill. Not so other denominations.

Nice misdirection on NARRATED. Even with the ? in the clue, I had -ARR--ED and still didn't see it.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:37 AM  

Ouch! Filled in one letter at a time for the most part.

Didn't exactly love it, but in the end a good Friday puzzle. I wanted to complain about too many Maleskas, but looking at the grid now all I see in that category might be RIGA, OSHKOSH and PIMA.

Agree with JannieB, don't expect to see OLEO sticking out at a restaurant.

Would someone please notify Matt Gaffney that Nosferatu has escaped and gotten into today's puzzle?

Meg 9:42 AM  

@JannieB Totally agree about the OLEO.
I gave up long ago trying to find actual errors in NYT puzzle clues, but I really didn't like "get happy" for ELATE. The dictionary (the really big one) lists elate as a transitive verb, as in "make happy", but it also has a secondary definition "flush with pride", which to me is not transitive. I mean, you don't flush someone. Well maybe you do, but that's different. Oh well.

I never knew that Ford was given the name of his mother's second husband. Interesting.

The "mesh with" clue for ENGAGE fits the example of gears engaging. Not my first guess.

I thought "et al" was short for "et alia"; however, there are several forms depending on gender.

I thought of TOTO, but he was a cairn terrier, and I'm not even sure he was in the book.

This was a HARD puzzle, but I finished it. Great Friday!!

Susan 10:00 AM  

Waxes was the last thing I put in. But I finished! Without help or googling! I liked this puzzle but did not understand OLEO or GLOBE until seeing the write-up.

Denise Ann 10:03 AM  

Tried and tried --but left the grid without finishing (SW) -- now I wonder what was so challenging.

One daughter graduated from Oberlin, and we used to sing that Ohio song!

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

I still don't understand GLOBE for 29a Meridian Shower, even after reading the write-up. Someone please explain? Thanks

imsdave 10:16 AM  

Excellent workout! 40 minutes of pain followed by a nice aaaaah.

@tptsteve - you reminded me of a story my late father-in-law told me. He worked with Yip Harburg on a show in the sixties. Whenever he heard someone say that Harold Arlen wrote 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow', he would gently and respectively tell them that Arlen actually wrote 'daaa, daaa, daa de de daa daaa'.

The Corgi of Mystery 10:18 AM  

@ Anonymous 10:13: A meridian is a line of longitude running down the Earth, and a globe shows those lines (making it a 'shower').

dk 10:20 AM  

Many of you have asked (well, ok no one has) what does dk do with all those Barbies and Kens when the photo shoot is finished. This little story stars my sister, brother in law and a few friends and answers the question: "What do you do with Barbie?"

Rated R for mild profanity and extreme violence to icons.


Martin 10:28 AM  

"American goldfinch" would be a flawed clue for YELLOW BIRD. Clue-by-example is not normally allowed. In other words, that clue would read "American goldfinch, e.g."

HOWEVER, "American goldfinch" is a fine clue for YELLOWBIRD. "Yellowbird" is another common name for the American goldfinch.

retired_chemist 10:32 AM  

@ Meg - my take: get is transitive as well as intransitive. Get happy = make happy = ELATE. But the clue sounds intransitive, which is part of the fun.

PlantieBea 10:36 AM  

I got about HALF of this, and then gave up. Too much of the clueing and too many answers were out of my range today. I was stuck with SILVER MINE, don't know any CARE BEARS. Never watched Dawson's Creek, and stuck with LIB for the reading place. Wanted L'ete for the hot time, couldn't pull out LCDs. Total crash and burn for me. I did better with last week's Klahn...

Glitch 10:44 AM  

32A/27D was a personal Natick that prevent me from finishing - Reading as in City, Library, Railroad? (guessed "D" wrong). Forgot the city in ENG.

Booster Box a neon (for me), if you add shoplift to the search you get a lot more hits.

Agree with OLEO comments.

No problem with goldfinch but doubt the "yellow bird high in banana tree" was an AMERICAN goldfinch, however did learn that ornamental banana trees grow in the US.

All in all, found this a normal Friday puzzle (in every way), enjoyed it.


imsdave 10:45 AM  

Respectfully, not respectively - moral, don't blog and work at the same time.

ArtLvr 10:48 AM  

Super challenging for me, but I stuck it our to the finish. Had to pick here and there, all over, for just a SHRED of a clue, running through the alphabet more than once. Kept thinking I should Move ALONG but the puzzle did ENGAGE me -- I couldn't quit!

Did anyone come up with another explanation for backs to which WAXES may be applied besides those of hairy humans?


hazel 10:49 AM  

I wasn't a big fan of the puzzle. The cluing struck me as being imprecisely clever - slick japery moreso than clever misdirection.

When you have to keep explaining how various clues work, something's amiss - in my opinion.

And I think clouds should scut and not scud, but that's just my problem with the language, not the constructor!

John in CT 10:54 AM  

Well, for the flyfisherman of the group, these are "SCUDS."

They are small freshwater crustaceans.

william e emba 10:57 AM  

Hah. I found this one only medium-hard. Slow to get traction, then worked east to west. My first entry was, I think, Gerald FORD! I knew the trivia that he had a totally different birth name from way back when, so what else could the clue mean?

I got CAREBEAR off of C---B---. I think that was very lucky.

Since I had the ALONG down in the SE, I couldn't help but get BOOSTERBOX correct. But I had to go through the alphabet to get HAW/WAXES.

I got TEASPOON by doing some of the math: 768=3*256. Since 256 is a power of two, and the Imperial divisions are all powers of two for quite a way down, I just jumped to 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon.

The PIMA entered my consciousness permanently from my work at Wistar. They are, unfortunately, famous in biomedical circles for their extremely high rates of obesity and diabetics.

ZYDECO! Haw! A few years ago there was a NYT Sunday Variety Puzzle, I think by PB#1, that had answers snaking through a grid, allowed to turn, with every letter covered twice. ZYDECO was my last fill on that puzzle (I had Dizzy Dean giving me ZYDE, but the problem was the turning was to be determined), and that one I memorized. I knew it would show up again. Haw and HAW!

I knew Reading was a place when LIB didn't work. But drat it, I could only think of Reading Pennsylvania, two counties away from me. Even after I got ENG from the crosses I was stumped. I went through the alphabet on A-DIE, wondering if Addie or Aldie was some Australian name? Then it dawned on me. ENGland! Oh, right, that Reading, home of Reading Gaol and of the Beckett International Foundation.

I learned that a cloud SCUDS years ago from the writing of Michael Brodsky: Xman, ***, Dyad, and other inscrutable works. He is grippingly unreadable, dense with deconstructive conceit, writes fiction as if he thought he was proving mathematical theorems, and can only be read with two or three unabridged dictionaries handy. He's for when you get bored of rereading Samuel Beckett The Unnameable or How It Is, and need something a little more edgy, and he's one of my all-time favorite writers. Anyway, in his fiction, clouds always SCUD. Since then, I've actually noticed that word pop up elsewhere. But I've never come across another Michael Brodsky reader, outside of his controversial translation of Beckett Eleutheria.

william e emba 11:00 AM  

I disagree with the OLEO comments. Then again, I only eat in kosher restaurants.

Chorister 11:01 AM  

Enjoyed this - had almost each and every one of the problems listed above along the way, of course.

Plunked OHIO right down, though I know B didn't write any lyrics. Or if he did, Greene will know the circs.

After it was done I could "see" how all the answers worked except BOOSTERBOX which I never heard of and I work retail off and on. On, right now. My own daughter lifted a Little Golden Book under her security blankie when she was a tot, but I really don't think she meant to and we took it back.

Finally had a chance to do the Bday puzzle last night. Very nicely done and happy birthday, Rex.

Stan 11:05 AM  

What Rex said about the ??? clues.

But I did finish it without the usual Friday one-wrong-letter or blank corner. Overall, a fine puzzle in my book.

I'm an NYU alum so that was an amusing gimme. Always loved that name for the teams.

Go Violets!

Chorister 11:07 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - you and I work too many crossword puzzles! and you stole my line.

slypett 11:09 AM  

Another workout for Auntie Google! If this keeps up, she's gonna lose some weight, I'll tell ya.

I look at the completed grid and it seems innocent. The devil was in the clues--a dirty, lowdown devil.

HudsonHawk 11:14 AM  

Wasn't challenging until the NW, then I hit a wall. I also resisted entering ASTA at 20A because I'd always known it as a wire-haired dog. Thanks for the clarification, joho. Fun Friday, all in all.

Ulrich 11:19 AM  

Doable, with some great fill, and some very questionable clues for German words.

To start with the easy one: Yes, des is a word--def. article, singular, male or neuter, genitive (possessive case).

Now the hard stuff (I'm surprised nobody has complained yet): This is what the personal pronoun sie can mean:

she, her - 3rd person singular, feminine, nominative or accusative
they, them - 3rd person plural, nominative or accusative
you - nominative or accusative when you address someone formally, i.e. not use du (same distinctions as tu/lei in Italian or tu/vous in French)

What does "me" mean in German?
mir, mich - first person sungular, dative or accusative.

EXCEPT in the very special case of English "it's me" or "is it me?", which would translate into German ich bin (e)s, bin ich (e)s?; i.e. the case where a colloquial "me" is used in English instead of the formally correct "I" (remember our discussion of the apostles asking Jesus during the last supper "is is I?")

So, with a lot of good will, I can construct an opposition between "it's me" and "it's you" when the "you" in question is a person formally addressed and "you" will mean Sie in German. But come on--is that the best you can do for a simple word like sie? How about "they in Thüringen" (for a Monday) or "Merkel address" for a Friday/Saturday? I'm just saying...

william e emba 11:19 AM  

"Meridian" is a synonym for line of latitude, rarely used outside professional circles. Except for the most famous: the "Prime Meridian", at 0 degree latitude.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

I've lived in NYC all my (long, long) life and never knew that the NYU sports teams are named the Violets. What sport is this? Pastels?

Two Ponies 11:28 AM  

Nice write up Rex and nice follow up comments by everyone else to fill in the gaps of why this puzzle was such a drag.
Way too cute for it's own good.
Agree with most everyone about Asta, the fill-in-the-color bird, oleo, haw, etc. Add to that Get happy, how about Make happy? Oh, I see, just not cutesy enough for this mess.
A poster girl is someone like Farrah F. The answer should be poster child.
Solving this did not make me feel clever at all so I guess all of the "jokes" were lost on me.
The ONLY fun was thinking about sharing a recipe with someone saying to add 768 tsps of something. Now that would be fun!

Two Ponies 11:58 AM  

I forgot to add that booster bag gave me logos on my back (better answer IMO).
Also, Happy Friday the 13th!
Maybe BEQ's puzzle yesterday with hexes, spells, and melting witches would have been appropriate for the occasion today. Not that I believe in that stuff but I'm still deeply entrenched in Hogwarts at the moment.

A Friend of Dorothy 11:59 AM  

@Meg - Yes, Toto is in the book, but of course it is the wrong book.

Glitch 12:00 PM  


Don't you mean longitude"?


miriam b 12:08 PM  

Challenging? Nah. I was apparently on the constructor's wavelength. Maybe the fact that my mom was from RIGA helped me get a foothold. The G led to GASGUZZLER (which held some IRONY for me as I was working on the puzzle while waiting for AAA to come and jump my battery), and what music genre could start with Z if not ZYDECO? I had to get BOOSTERBOX via crosses, not being larcenously inclined. STREEP and HOLBROOK were welcome guests. BTW, I'm a worrier, but I have never said OHME.

miriam b 12:20 PM  

@glitch: A local nursery has a small greenhouse in which it winters customers' tropical plants - including banana trees. This is on Long Island, where this kind of babysitting is necessary. Most of these plants belong to (mostly affluent) folks who spend the summer across the bay on the Fire Islands.

@william e emba: I would't touch OLEO with a ten-foot pole, but I wonder: Isn't some OLEO Kosher?

obertb 12:24 PM  

Daughter went to NYU, so Violets was a gimme. Don't see why that qualifies as NYCentric, though. We see sports clues like that all the time--UTES, in particular. Is that Utah-centric?

Booster box--WTF?

Loved 62A Need for heat? = AMMO.

Hard puzzle, but satisfying solve. Had one google, though. 32 min., not bad for me.

Howard B 12:26 PM  

Rex, a near complete parallel to my experience. CAREBEAR started me off, surprisingly. I cursed the acting/show clues, enjoyed ZYDECO, and also mistakenly entered TEJANO at first for that.

A Motley cruciverbal beatdown here, but we got through it, albeit with a few nicks and scratches.

Aviatrix 12:39 PM  

Scud is not such a light and airy thing when you work with it. Flying below a layer of low clouds is called "scud running" and is quite dangerous because it puts the airplane close to terrain and unseen wires. Oshkosh also has an aviation connection, being the annual home of the world's largest fly-in and aviation convention.

I envy the purity of all you who recognized the carebears. I was left thinking they sounded like guys' pet names for their penises.

Liked the puzzle and was not put off by tricky clues, even though it took me forever to get CEES.

retired_chemist 12:51 PM  

@ wm e emba - meridians, incuding the prime, refer to longitude, not latitude.

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

@ Aviatrix, Pet names! Good one. Mr. Happy and I thank you.
Before I counted the squares I was thinking Smurfs or something.
What kind of store lets you bring a box in with you? Now that's just some made up sh#t.
Looking back at the grid there is not one groaning bit of crosswordese to complain about but these clues? Geez.
In Jamaica they make a wonderful drink called a Yellow Bird.
I'll bet Dana is sick of Motley Crue jokes.

Clark 12:54 PM  

@Ulrich -- Opposite of 'me' is 'you' (there are other ways to go with this, but that is certainly a good possibility). 'You' = 'Sie' (formal, 2nd person, accusative, as you point out). I don’t see the problem. Er hat mich geschlagen. Er hat Sie geschlagen.

mac 1:04 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, and especially some of the clues, but gave up in the SE, where haw and -box just didn't make sense.

Instead of "scuds" I had the prettier "sails" for a while. The andirons were no problem, we bought some old firedogs in yesterday's Devon. I also think the answer "collard" on its own is iffy, especially since I learned just a few days ago that mustard was in the kale family...

Not knowing anything about Care bears and Dawson's Creek made that area difficult but doable. I like ripen and ammo and the shout-out to EdithB.

I think I've only seen the little packets of margarine in diners, restaurants usually have butter or olive oil, and certainly no sticks of anything, unless it is bread.

I'm glad Ulrich preceded me to explain the problems with the German I also noticed; he does it so much better!

Ulrich 1:16 PM  

@Clark: Yes, the accusatives "mich" and "Sie" are another possibility to construct an opposition, and I considered it, but dismissed it: It borders on the esoteric, to me, especially when I consider English speakers, most of whom stare at me blankly when I talk about direct objects (e.g. in connection with prepositions)--I swear, I dare to use the term "accusative" only on this blog, and I am happy that I find people here who actually know what I'm talking about, you (Sie!) included!

@mac: Thx!

andrea funshine michaels 1:31 PM  

Penis pet names??!!!! wow! Funny.
Really ANY word in the puzzle could be a penis nickname!
ELSIE, ANDIE... (oh wait, maybe not!) ;)
I'm the wrong generation for CareBears and childless so had NO clue...but I liked the name Funshine and couldn't wait to fill in to see who that was. I am surprised that one of them had the same name as a dwarf...I mean, if the writers can come up with Love-a-lot and Funshine, why couldn't they do better than Grumpy?

As someone who had BOOSTERBag till the bitter end (as I use a double-lined trenchcoat as my shoplifting gear preference), I spent a long time trying to figure out how the clue could mean back waGes, as in salary.

This was one that I got NOTHING first time thru and then did in 20 minutes so that was odd and vaguely both satisfying and dissatisfying...

One thing to chew on, maybe. the CEE in EMCEE (short for Master of Ceremonies) is the same CEE in CEES.
(And just for the (broken) record, I hate clues like "Piccolo duet")

There were plenty of three letter words...they were just hiding behind their S's.
OOXLEPTERNON might have been appeased by NONS. (Or the aforementioned CEES) even TENS, GAGS...tho you're right, as queen of three letter words, that's impressive to have a grid with none. (Oops, transitive...I'm impressed...tho not elated)

I just realized today that I have been thinking Noam d Elkes and Wm e Emba are the same person!

I think WELCHERS and WELSHERS are equally acceptable...but they have been added to the list of words like "gyp" as being non-PC in origin. As we all know, it's the Scotch who don't pay up!

If I were not a tech-illiterate, I would provide a link to OSHKOSH B'GOSH jeans from m childhood in neighboring Minnesota.

OH, and I couldn't think of Hal HOLBROOK's name, just his face, despite having received a residual check yesterday for $66.60 for an episode of Designing Women I wrote 17 years ago. God Bless the Writer's Guild!
I thought HH was amazing in "Into the Wild" (Is that the name of the Sean Penn film about the boy who dies in Alaska?)

As for Gerald Ford, I remembered the Leslie part, but not the King.
It must be odd to have both your first AND last name changed in your lifetime. I wonder how that changes you psychologically, or if it only manifests itself in falling down stairs.

william e emba 1:35 PM  

EGAD! Getting latitude vs longitude wrong is embarrassing enough. But considering I spent half of last year teaching at an Orthodox religious yeshiva high school how to compute times for solar noon and sunrise and sunset using spherical trigonometry (with input including latitude and longitude, and I had to make sure they knew that stuff first), well, I'm beyond embarrassment. I mean, I made sure the school had several GLOBEs with analemmas on them even, not just meridians.

Thanks for the correction. 4 and out out out.

nanpilla 1:38 PM  

@andrea funshine michaels
Someone is either a Scot or Scottish, but never Scotch - that's a drink. Either way, call us frugal, not cheap!

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

@andrea michaels funshine - do you mean Scottish instead of Scotch (whisky)??

I agree with oleo naysayers - bad clue and also did not put in Asta for the aforementioned reasons, wrong breed

Immediately thought "aout" for hot time since ete was not long enough, but my German is sadly lacking.

Tough tough puzzle

andrea cee michaels 1:48 PM  

Not sure if OLEO is kosher or not, but I'm pretty sure most ten foot Poles are Catholic.

nanpilla 1:53 PM  

I just noticed there were two three letter entries: ENG and SIE. D'Oh! OOXTEPLERNON has been appeased.

Glitch 2:31 PM  

@anon (Squeek)

That's why stores now make you check your packages, lunch boxes, backpacks, luggage, and boost boxes at the door. It wasn't always so.

@andrea cee,

Enough with the "nicknames"


Hobbyist 2:52 PM  

Why isn't anybody in a snit re the pejorative clue about the character of the Welsh?

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

Mr Elba - You continue to amaze us

sanfranman59 3:47 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)

Fri 28:10, 26:05, 1.08, 71%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 14:46, 12:28, 1.18, 87%, Challenging

Mmmm-mmm! Boy was that humble pie tasty! This one almost completely missed my wheelhouse. I can't believe that this Ohio boy (and lover of '30s to '50s era musicals) had never heard of the Bernstein song. 30+ minutes for me and that included cheating on a couple of answers.

sanfranman59 4:23 PM  

I meant to mention in my previous post that I was surprised and dismayed to see that WELCHERS is considered to be an acceptable word for the NYT crossword. It's no less offensive than using the term "jew" in a similar context and I can't imagine that term ever getting past the editors of the Old Gray Lady.

slypett 4:38 PM  

sanfranman59: Come off the PC crap. All PC has done is impoverish the language or, more, to the point, try to kill it with the death of a thousand cuts. Jew me down! Japrack me! Call me a Negro! An Indian! Just let me live a little and I won't get my Irish up!

archaeoprof 5:04 PM  

We had a cat named SCUD. A stray, he showed up at the back door the night the 1st Gulf War started, and earned the name because he skittered around the house, totally out of control, and we never knew what he might run into or where he might land. Scud died last year, after a long and good life.

jae 5:05 PM  

Yes to BAG and Reading PEN, but this was more medium for me in that I didn't get bogged down anywhere but the BAG area. It still probably took me 2xRex. Solid Fri., good puzzle.

Glitch 5:08 PM  

"The term welsher became common in Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the argot of race-track bettors. But from a reader came a comforting word for all Welshmen, one which gives a touch of logic to the use of the term: 'It was ENGLISH bookies who, having too many long shot winners against them, fled over the border to 'boondock' Wales to become the original welshers and escape irate bettors looking for their payoff."



Rex Parker 5:12 PM  

To be fair, there is no one good answer to the WELSH/WELCH question, at least not one authoritative one that I can find. Tried World Wide Words (a great authority), but nothing. Read one explanation involving rhyming slang from Welsh to Welsh Rarebit to Welsh Rabbit to rabbits being very quick to hop away, so one who runs from a debt = welsher / welcher.


Anonymous 5:20 PM  

@ darkman, I get weary of everything being diluted down for the sake of being PC as well but I doubt you will find much support on this blog. These days hurting someone's feelings opens yourself to being sued. Such is life in a world ruled by lawyers.
From my small experience the Welsh seem to be the "hillbillies" of England and the subject of open ridicule and bad jokes. Over there they are called Taffies even on the radio! Maybe by using the spelling with a C instead of an S allows it to slide.
How's this for a bad clue?
Devotees of Raquel?
Sonia (still in love with Mr. Emba)

edith b 5:49 PM  

We had a shoplifting scandal at the school where I worked and it was pretty sopisticated for kids. One of the detectives used the expression BOOSTERBOX to describe just one of their methods of stealing and explained to me that it was any sort of contraption that can be concealed on ones person to hold goods and does not have to necessarily be a "box" perse. Pretty fascinating stuff.

I found this one to be too clever by half and resorted to a technique I use that seperates words from their meanings. It is how I got ANDIRONS to raise its head, for instance. HOLBROOK and BOOSTERBOX broke this puzzle's back as I did pretty well in the East.

I struggled with this one but it was a good struggle because any chance I can get to sharpen my worplay skills is time well spent and reminds my that I can't just rely on memory to solve late-week puzzles although I did know the FORD factoid and my daughter used to like CAREBEARs when she was young.

sanfranman59 5:52 PM  

@Darkman ... If it's considered "PC" to refrain from using a derogatory term to refer to a group of people based on their country of origin, then I'll gladly wear that mantle.

SethG 6:04 PM  

dk, I have 5 Kens (well, knock-offs) left from G-Town, let me know if you want 'em. And...Benford? Remind me why I don't work with you...?

This puzzle irked me. Probably 5 times I had all but one letter of a word and still had no clue what the answer was, and I hate when that happens. Especially with longer answers, like xOOSTER BOX. I finally broke through when I changed ALIA to ALII--*BIRD made much more sense...

The GREG Toler clue sure is timely--he just had his first tackle this week! And y'all can keep on parsing, I'm much more curious how Sosa got a New York parade.


slypett 6:18 PM  

sanfranman59: Perhaps I am differently abled, but it seems to me that every group, subgroup and subsubgroup (unto the least atom of humanity) is entitled to its own warm, secure corner among the cooling ashes of the hearth of civility, upon which we dare not tread for fear of giving offense.

On the other hand, fuggeddaboutit. Language is not linear. English survived rock-'n'-roll. Rap is non-PC. God's in his heaven. Obama is not giving a knee-jerk response to McCrystal. Hey! things could be worse!

Ulrich 6:33 PM  

What I find most disconcerting about this discussion about being PC in general and "welcher" in particular is that it points to the very real possibility of offending someone inadvertently: I have used the term "welcher", in jest (and not knowing how it was spelled), with someone who once did not pay when she had lost a bet--whenever she wants to bet again, I refuse and proclaim that I never bet with welchers. I had no idea where the term came I know, and I wonder how often I may have offended someone out of ignorance, not out of malice.

The lesson I take from this is that it may indeed be in order to loosen up a little on the PC side--I mean, there's a reason I called my blog KrautBlog...

Bill from NJ 6:59 PM  

Being Jewish, I sometimes refer to myself in the third person, humorously, as a "nice Jewish boy." And there are people, some IN MY OWN FAMILY, who resent my using that phrase because it reduces Jewish people to a stereotype that some people find offensive.

Some people? When we reach the point, and it is fast approaching, where words can have one meaning and one meaning only, language will lose its abilty to be colorful and we will all be impoverished indeed. Thank you Ulrich for your usual insightful comment.

Orange 7:07 PM  

I'm gonna side with the two different dictionaries I consulted, both of which say the origin of the verb 'welsh' is unknown. Lexicographers work their butts off to find the real origins of each word in the dictionary, so if they settle on 'unknown,' I'll believe it's unknown.

I mentioned the "Will no one defend the Welsh against this insult?" comments here to a friend, who immediately slammed the Welsh for their overreliance on consonants. She's got a point. Down with the Welsh!

Ben 7:16 PM  

@Two Ponies: Get happy, transitive, as in "get (someone) happy." A little cute, yes, but of such angles are Friday puzzles born.

Agreed with everyone ASTO ASTA. Always thought of ASTA ASA wire-haired terrier, perhaps an Airedale, but not a schnauzer. One of innumerable examples of a difference between well known movie(s) and the lesser-known book(s) from whence they came.

My $.02 is that WELSH and WELCH are both acceptable, if not in this grid, then in that expression. Neither P.C., but both in the language.

My band in high school was called Literary Schnauzer.

mac 7:25 PM  

I love the Welsh, they grow the largest, whitest leeks I have ever seen. I lived in England for two periods of several years, and I didn't notice a strong prejudice against the Welsh - against the Irish more so. It's a beautiful part of the country. Once we were there with my two sisters, and at a scenic lookout point we spoke Dutch. Some people came over and asked if this was Welsh!

@Glitch: I like Andrea's nicknames!

This afternoon my husband handed me David Sedaris's "When you are engulfed in flames" and had me read the chapter "Solution to Saturday's Puzzle". What a riot. I'm reading the whole book.

@Ulrich: there you go!

Noam D. Elkies 7:31 PM  

Re 57D: yes, "Symphonie des" could also be French, but "Grauens" makes it visibly Teutonic, especially with the final -s matching "des" — which I imagine Ulrich would identify as a genitive case ending.


Glitch 7:39 PM  

@mac & @Andrea

Sorry I wasn't clear, the "nickname" I was referring to was at 1:48p just before "Catholic" ;-)

OTOH, I look forward to variations of the "nom de blog"


joho 8:29 PM  

@mac ... a great friend told me to read "When You Are Engulfed In Flames" and now I definitely will.

I'm sick of hearing about PC. Let's just all say what we think hopefully with a good heart and a sense of humor.

miriam b 9:30 PM  

@glitch: Andrea was just punning on my speculation as to whether some OLEO might be Kosher, and my statement that I wouldn't touch OLEO uith a ten-foot pole. I don't see how, in context, this could be deemed objectionable.

andrea carla michaels 9:38 PM  

@miriam, mac!
Thanks for coming to my defense...but unnecessary!
glitch has now explained he was teasing me for commenting on "ten foot poles" as if it were yet another penis nickname!!!
Actually, very funny!

But sweet of you to rise to the occasion (oy, glitch, you see, it never ends!)
It's like the folks who didn't get I was teasing about the Scotch
(Is if Scot or Scottish, how does one explain the term Scotch-Irish?!) when trying to explain the Welch/Welsh thing.

All is well in nickname land
Good night!

mac 9:58 PM  

@Andrea: is that whisky or whiskey?;-)

michael 10:16 PM  

I didn't find this particularly hard -- easier than yesterday for me. And I liked some of the answers -- gas guzzler, yellowbird, poster girl, "was an accountant" == narrated

Of course, the puzzle also included oleo, elate, esne, and egad.

sanfranman59 10:32 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 6:19, 6:55, 0.91, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:40, 8:36, 0.89, 22%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:54, 11:47, 1.01, 58%, Medium
Thu 20:59, 18:33, 1.13, 80%, Challenging
Fri 28:26, 26:06, 1.09, 74%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:22, 3:41, 0.91, 24%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:05, 4:25, 0.92, 28%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:03, 5:47, 1.05, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 11:14, 8:59, 1.25, 93%, Challenging
Fri 14:29, 12:27, 1.18, 85%, Challenging

Sue Ellen Llewellyn 11:01 PM  

I'm Welsh, or at least I have a Welsh surname, and I have found that to be very convenient when I find myself on the losing side of a bet and refuse to pay up.

Stan 12:05 AM  

@Sue Ellen: Very funny comment.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

Taffy was a Welshman
Taffy was a thief
Taffy came to my house
And stole a leg of beef.
I went to Taffy's house
Taffy wasn't home.
I returned the compliment
And stole a marrow bone.

william e emba 5:33 PM  

I don't know if anyone is still reading this 3 days later, but in the paper version of the NYT puzzle, there was on the very same page an ad for That Evening Sun, naming, of course, its lead actor: Hal HOLBROOK.

Not that I noticed at the time or until much later.

Singer 2:41 PM  

From syndication:
Wow, I would have rather commented on yesterday (which I liked but the comment link was blocked for some reason) than on today, which was a nasty little puzzle. I also had a lot of trouble with the cluing which was just mean, and sometimes obscure to the point of ridiculous. I did finish it, and correctly, but had to Google two answers: the Care Bears (which arrived on the scene just as my youngest had reached an age that they weren't interesting) and NYU. Thought the non-PC welcher was spelled welsher, which slowed me up. Had ah me instead of OH ME. Thought the shop lifting thing started with 'loose' for a long, long time. Had 'et al.' for ALII for a while, but decided that the upper and lower baseball thing had to be HALF, so went first to 'alia', then finally to ALII.

I thought ENG referred to English class as the place where students spend time reading.

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

hey, i also started with OU LA!!

Unknown 12:54 AM  

66A: I object to the pronoun "their" referring to $10 bills. Shouldn't that be an "its"? Based on the usage of "their", I figured it couldn't be "TENS" ...

Unknown 1:53 PM  

"Their" is the plural form for "its".

Michael Crowell 10:59 AM  

My first time commenting. I started a "weekender" subscription to the Times a couple of months ago and have really started getting into the puzzles. I find this blog a great resource for explaining obscure clues/answers (and so far have been able to resist peeking until I'm done).

This puzzle was quite a hard one for me - got the paper & puzzle on Nov 13, and I just finished it! Some of the clues did seem quite obscure. The thing that prompted me to write in today was (were?) the many postings in response to OLEO. I DO like the associated clue (though it took some time to get the answer). Yes, it's uncommon to see an OLEO stick out at restaurants - that's what causes it to STICK OUT when it happens! No?

I look forward many future stick outs.

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