Hip-hop producer Gotti — THURSDAY, Nov. 19 2009 — Hearers of Jonah's prophecy / Titan who fetched apples for Hercules / Spanish chess piece

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Constructors: Tyler Hinman and Jeremy Horwitz

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Directors of Movies with Single-Letter Titles ("Z," "M," and "W.," respectively)

Word of the Day: Eugène IONESCO (13D: "Le Rhinocéros" playwright Eugène)Eugène Ionesco (born Eugen Ionescu, Romanian pronunciation: [e.uˈd​͡ʒen i.oˈnesku]; November 26, 1909 – March 28, 1994) was a Romanian and French playwright and dramatist, one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd. Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco's plays depict in a tangible way the solitude and insignificance of human existence. (wikipedia) [I picked him because his 100th birthday is a week from today ... also the birthday of Charles Schulz, Tina Turner, and me]


Wow, this was weird for a Thursday, or any day of the week where we normally see a themed puzzle. This must set some kind of record for least amount of real estate occupied by theme squares in a themed puzzle: a mere 32 squares. But when you use the non-restrictive nature of the theme to create an Incredibly wide-open grid crammed full of entertaining and lively answers and almost completely devoid of yucky stuff, then who cares? Not sure how the puzzle managed to still come in feeling almost perfectly Thursday-level, given that it's got so much white space and one theme answer that I completely blanked on, but it did. I could have done without GIRD UP (8D: Encircle with a belt), a phrase I've never heard and one in which the "UP" seems entirely redundant, but that's about the only thing to NAG (53A: Tiresome sort) about today. An unequivocal success.

Theme answers:

17A: "Z" director, 1969 (Costa-Gavras)

[This looks cool...]

32A: "M" director, 1931 (Fritz Lang)

51A: "W." director, 2008 (Oliver Stone)

COSTA-GAVRAS!!!! [Shakes fist at sky]. Aaargh! Couldn't come up with that name to save my life, and even after I pieced it together, it wasn't terribly familiar. I've clearly heard it before, but I've never seen "Z" or anything else he's directed. His fame (in this country, at any rate) belongs entirely to a previous generation. Couldn't name another COSTA-GAVRAS movie if I tried, and yet I could name multiple movies by both FRITZ LANG (an even older but far, far, far more important director) and OLIVER STONE. So I had to work the crosses like crazy in the NW. In fact, the NW and SE together were easily the hardest parts of this puzzle. So much white space!

In the NW, I wanted ANGRIER for 1D: More Irish? (luckier). Nothing up there really wanted to budge at first — US ONE is not a road I travel (14A: It joins I-10 in Jacksonville and I-90 in Boston) and 23A: "Totally" ("I agree") seemed like it could be anything. Finally started to hem that section in when I guessed STAX for 6D: Record label whose house band was Booker T & the M.G.'s, which gave me the "X" I needed to (eventually) get KLEENEX. Finally got the longish Downs up there to go by working their back ends with REY (29A: Spanish chess piece) and then ETAS (25A: Some honor society letters).

OLIVER STONE was a gimme and I still had to work for the SE. Forgot what "Taken" even was, so needed help with NEESON (46A: "Taken" star, 2008). Thought 47D: Breeze on a college campus (easy A) might be DREW (even though he's in the pros now and doesn't spell his name that way). Got "First Blood" confused with "True Blood," though it wouldn't have mattered if I'd had the right picture in mind because I never saw "First Blood" and forgot Brian DENNEHY was in it, if I ever knew it (40D: Brian of "First Blood"). So the puzzle provided me nice mini-battles in the NW and SE corners. The rest, I tore up no problem.

This puzzle is a pangram.


  • 6A: Symbol in a Riemann sum (sigma) — I've either been doing puzzles long enough, or known math professionals long enough, that despite the phrase "Riemann sum"'s meaning nothing to me, I got this no problem.
  • 24A: Spats (quarrels) — most amusing wrong answer of the day: I had FLARE-UPS! (from the "AR"). When that didn't work, I thought "spats" might have something to do with shoes ...
  • 34A: El Paso neighbor (Juarez) — I didn't know this, but guessed SUAREZ off the "-EZ," and then adjusted for the Disney princess JASMINE.
  • 42A: Italy's L'_____ Vogue magazine (Uomo) — means "man"; such a cool-looking word.
  • 7D: Hip-hop producer Gotti (Irv) — no relation to *that* Gotti.

  • 9D: Anne whose real-life husband played her ex on "Rhoda" (Meara) — yay! Great clue.
  • 10D: Hearers of Jonah's prophecy (Assyrians) — ??? really wanted whatever the inhabitants of NINEVEH are called.
  • 45D: Titan who fetched apples for Hercules (Atlas) — not the first, or last, thing I think of when I think of ATLAS. Apple-fetching = slightly less manly than holding the entire world on your shoulders.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Leslie 7:40 AM  

Sigh. Once again I needed Rex to explain the theme!

I was one millimeter ahead of Rex on "knowing' COSTA-GAVRAS, but only a millimeter because I persist in misspelling the second part of his name.

Lovely puzzle!

Sara 7:51 AM  

Loved this. Pure joy.

Jeffrey 8:08 AM  

"Totally" I AGREE!

Awesome! Unusual for a Thursday but it definitely fits way after Wednesday and a bit before Friday.

Cluing, answers, everything just works. Nothing WRONG except for 22 Down.

Elaine 8:41 AM  

Hmm, I saw "Z" as a first-run movie (in an art theater in Atlanta)-- great flick! But that doesn't mean I knew the director. Or any of the directors, for that matter. Or STAX or IRV, either. In fact, I spent most of my time in GoogleLand! despite getting nice chunks of the puzzle on my own.

Next time I see a Hinman/Horwitz puzzle, I will GIRD UP my loins before beginning. (Rexie needs to read a bit of the Bible; they are always girding up loins in the OT.)

Can someone tell how ANALOGS are "Cousins?"

Geometricus 8:48 AM  

Had to Google "Z" to finish. Never heard of COSTAGAVRAS. Had GIRDUP early but wanted something better. Wanted STYX for STAX. And even though I watched all the moonshots as a kid, I thought it was a Lunar Landing Module, not whatever LEM stnds for. Exploration?

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

Wasn't LEM the vehicle they drove around in and left on the moon? A&W cream soda, I think not, they are known for their root beer. Fonky clue. Good puzzle and slightly better than average time for a thursday. Golfballman.

joho 8:54 AM  

Loved this puzzle even though I ended up with two mistakes. I had STyX and IRa as I've never heard of COSTAGAVRAS so COSTA GyaRAS seemed totally plausible (like gyros,right?)Oh well, I had so much fun doing this I didn't care.

This is one time I got an answer because I knew the puzzle was a pangram. I had all the letters but K & X. That's how got KLEENEX.

Some stumbles along the way: angrIER before LUCKIER, touRMAP before STARMAP and WipeOUT before WASHOUT. And, course my errors of STyX AND IRa.

Great puzzle, thanks Tyler & Jeremy!

Dough 9:00 AM  

This was a beautifully crafted puzzle. Great words, open grid, solid theme, well clued, perfectly balanced, aggressive honest use of the high-value letters, nice mix of old and new. Bravo.

Meg 9:01 AM  

WIPE OUT for WASH OUT had me lost for several minutes.

I also spelled NEESON wrong and could not grasp how an arrow represented a VICTOR.

I started wondering if "Gird up your loins" meant "put a belt around your loins". But no. It means "muster your resources" and is the only definition to mention "up".

My daughter's teenage theater group performed "Rhinoceros" last year. Strange play in which people actually turn into rhinoceroses.

Other than that crazy COSTA-GAVRAS, this was a great Thursday puzzle.

retired_chemist 9:04 AM  

Hand up for STYX, IRA (né IAN), and COSTA-GYARAS. Never heard of the three worthies. Googled STAX to solve, then dredged up the V for largely phonetic reasons (plus IRV was a real name). Hate that. Hand up for FLARE-UPS too.

Other than the Naticky feel in the Dakotas this was a lot of fun.

Unknown 9:25 AM  

I hope this puzzle gets "Z" on some netflix queues. It is a great film by a great filmmaker.

I had rt. one for us one, and costa gravas for costa gavras but straightened them out.

Gird up the loins means muster your resources but comes from the idea of putting on a gird (girdle or belt).

slypett 9:30 AM  

Got KLEENEX and STAX by nuclear induction. Only problem was the WAGONER/UOMO cross, which I had to bear for five whole minutes.

Gratified to see this rated "Medium," because it went down like a swallow of good bourbon.

Tom 9:34 AM  

The first clue I got was Costa-Gavras and I was delighted to see it. I saw Z last year in the theater and rented The Missing since, which is not as good but sill incredible, if only because of the lawsuit that followed.

Elaine 9:36 AM  

Well, cough cough, in readying for battle, warriors often bethought themselves to arrange their clothing in such a way as to tighten up, belt down, keep things from flapping in the breeze....especially they would GIRD UP their loins in a most solicitous and protective manner. We have other phrases, too, that have come to mean "to prepare for a task or battle"-- ("roll up one's sleeves" comes to mind)... so it's always cool to think back to the origins of phrases...

dk 9:38 AM  

@Elaine: Analog- a person or thing comparable to another - cousin. You will have this explained several more times so GIRDUP

A great puzzled whose fill I just knew but thought: naw, can't be! KLEENEX and DRYWHITE for 2. I got so fed up with my second guessing that I just filled in the little boxes, and viola (as we say in France) a finished puzzle with few "molestations."

I have shared my favorite mole joke before and do not wish to get a WHUP from REY... err Rex. So I will ASEED to the site rules of no jokes, except for when one of the @anons rages on about Rex's dislike of puzzles.

MOO, MOONLIT, UOMO, MOLESTS creates a second theme of gimme MO.

STARMAPS ahead of NEESON and DENNEHY: very good even if unintended.

COSTAGAVARAS has been on my mind as I watch The Old Prisoner shows (free at AMC.com). The paranoia (justified) AMBIENT in films of the sixties made for some great story lines.

Random comment #400: Back in the day I had the forensic psych interns watch M.

Got to work on some NEGS today. The step twins 14th birthday is this weekend and we are having a Hannah Montana shoot... if you catch my drift.

**** (4 stars)

dk 9:44 AM  

@darkman one word: Hazelden.

Otherwise bring enough to share with @twoponies, @jeff from chi, well just about everybody.

Wake and bake!

OldCarFudd 9:45 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this, despite knowing neither Stax nor Costa-Gavras and crossing them incorrectly at an A. It's the first time I've thought a puzzle was likely to be a pangram, and have then used that assumption to find answers.

Anytime there's a clue about a math sum, try sigma first.

I think analog for cousin is an acceptable stretch for things that are vaguely comparable or distantly related.

Hallaig 9:47 AM  

I remembered Costa-Gravas, unfortunately as Costa-Gravis, which slowed down the solving a little. "Z" was in theatres when I was eleven or twelve. All we tweens were trying to be politically aware like our hippy older brothers and sisters, and it was one of the movies to see. I don't remember the movie at all (maybe it's not even political) but somehow the name and director stuck with me.

It's true, there weren't many theme answers, but they were pithy. Good puzzle.

By the way, I think Rex does do a lot of Bible reading - didn't he mention he was working his way through the Old Testament a while back?

Ulrich 9:59 AM  

All three directors were gimmes for me, which made this Tyler Hinman puzzle much, much easier for me than his puzzles usually are.

As to the one-letter movies: haven't seen "W", but the others, and I tell you, if there is one movie you want to rent, it is "M"--high up in the list of my all-time favorites. Peter Lorre is in the role of his life (as a serial killer of little girls), and, together with The Blue Angel we talked about a few days ago, it's the greatest movie produced in Berlin of the 20's--again, do yourself the favor to watch it--it's unforgettable.

Z is perhaps the best political thriller I have seen, with one of my favorite actors, Ives Montand, in the lead role--it takes place in Greece during the dictatorship of the colonels, which was supported by Kissinger, among others, a fact the Greeks have never forgiven.

As to Bible reading: I'm working my way through Crumb's illustrated Genesis right now...

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Costa-Gavras Latka Gravas--always get the two of them mixed up.

SethG 10:07 AM  

Yup, never heard of C-G, didn't remember STAX or IRV, didn't know there was a GIRDing direction that referred to belting, and wasn't sure about DEANE/Deene. Still got it all right.


I'm apparently in the wrong honor societies, because I didn't know of any with an ETA. I looked at a list, and it seems like ETA's about the least used Greek letter in society names. Many fewer than SIGMA, for example. What a weird clue. And another thing I don't get: how ANALOGS is at all a stretch.

Stan 10:18 AM  

Delightful, and right in my projection booth (though I never remember how to spell Costa-Gavras either).

Minor points I liked: AMBIENT next to MOONLIT. GEEWHIZ next to STAX ("Gee Whiz" is a Carla Thomas song and album that launched her career at Stax Records in 1961).

Bob Kerfuffle 10:19 AM  

"Z" was the one of the movies I have seen first run (from the Greek for "he lives"). But FRITZ LANG was the only director I could name with a minimum of crosses.

Quite a struggle, but finally finished correctly with just one write-over: had IONESCU before IONESCO, and that would have been correct if we had stuck with the original language.

PlantieBea 10:20 AM  

Chewy puzzle. The upper middle was a huge personal natick. Raising hand for STYX, IRA, and MERRA, to make COSTAG YARRS. Had to come here to ammend my errant grid.

I haven't seen the movies Z and M, but "W" I could not finish--didn't like it at all.

IONESCO has popped up recently with a daughter reading Le Rhinoceros at school in her French class about insanity, and a friend discussing it on his literary blog.

The air waves were full of Johnny Mercer yesterday.

slypett 10:29 AM  

dk: I thought Hazelden was gonna be a primo bourbon brand, but it was only a darn treatment center. Shucks!

william e emba 10:30 AM  

I found this challenging. Part of it was I confidently wrote in DELTA instead of SIGMA for the Riemann sum symbol. The curse of knowing too much!

And then there was the incredible difficulty I had dredging up the complete COSTA-GAVRAS name. I'm old enough that it shouldn't have been that hard.

LEM stands for Lunar Excursion Module. The "excursion" in question was from the Command Module to the moon and then back. Science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem sometimes had fun with the coincidence.

I have fond memories of the various models/kits I put together as a kid during the Apollo program, including some LEMs.

Judith 10:40 AM  

I guess I was the only who had Linen for jacket. I never heard of this Silas founder so I was hosed in the Northwest corner! I also had wipeout for washout and couldn't get the middle of LEM. Not my best Thursday time....

retired_chemist 10:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loose Dirt Laura Miller 10:50 AM  

@william e emba, you have the wrong symbol.

The Riemann sum is a method for approximating an integral under a curve by adding up the volume of really narrow sections. As the sections get smaller, the approximation gets better.

The SIGMA is used in Mathematics to indicate summation. See the wiki here.

Atlas 10:50 AM  

Rex writes:

"Apple-fetching = slightly less manly than holding the entire world on your shoulders"


retired_chemist 10:51 AM  

@ Seth G - probably you are not in this particular honor society. Eta Kappa Nu is the Engineering/Computer science honorary. It's a big one.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

This was a wonderful morning workout.
I only knew IONIC was a kind of column or a solution. I never knew it was a Greek dialect.

@Judith- I had LINEN, but realized that NEANE could not possibly be correct and made the switch.
My biggest problem was transposing the VAR to RAV in COSTA-GAVRAS (ala Latka) which gave me fits trying to make sense of STRX. Trial and error led me to the right sequence.

Two Ponies 11:00 AM  

Wow, I had to probe so many different parts of my head to pull this one together. Quite a transcultural feat for these two constructors.
Wagoner doesn't look right. I was thinking along those lines, a wrangler perhaps but that wouldn't fit. Maybe I'm thinking of Porter Wagonner?
The intersection of Irv and the foreign director was a complete guess.
@w e emba, You can't be that old if you were a kid in the Apollo era.
@ darkman, thx for explaining dk's joke. I thought the same thing.
@ dk, You naughty thing. Rehab is for quitters and I'm no quitter :)

Another Math Guy 11:08 AM  

@LD Laura - Word to the wise, always think twice before correcting Mr. Emba, particularly about math. The Riemann sum is SUM( f(x)*DELTA X). He simply got a little to cute (which he admitted) in choosing DELTA over SIGMA

Bill from NJ 11:09 AM  

COSTA-GAVRAS is one of those left-wing European movie directors whose hatred for America is laughingly demonstrated in his ignorance of American culture.

He made 3 mainstream movies in the late 80s - "Missing", "Betrayed" and "The Jewel Box." In "The Jewel Box" there is an African-American paralegal who works for the main character who appears to own nothing but dashikis - and exprensive ones at that - that she wears to work everyday and demonstrates her difference from all the other characters and Costa-Gavras' ignorance of how things actually work in America.

After those 3 movies he disappeared from the scene, never to be seen or heard from since.


Joe 11:16 AM  

My first three fills were COSTAGAVRAS, FRITZLANG and OLIVERSTONE. So I sat there and just stared at them for a few seconds, ever so proud of myself. I found the rest of the puzzle super-easy and I usually struggle a little on Thursday. I'm sure tomorrow will reduce me to tears, but I'll walk tall for the rest of the day!

mexgirl 11:18 AM  

It's funny that COSTA GAVRAS was the first think I put in the puzzle. Growing up in a very politicized little world in Mexico city, Z was a movie we all had to watch at some point when it showed in artsy theaters. So was anything by FRITZ LANG, for that matter.
I loved this puzzle. It was interesting and challenging and had IONESCO near Brian DENNEHY (whom I remember being in some absurd films).

And just to be a NAG, JUAREZ is actually CIUDAD JUAREZ. Calling it just Juarez is like calling San Francisco "Frisco" or Chicago "Cago" (haha, now I'm kidding).

CoolPapaD 11:22 AM  

After getting half-way through the across clues without any that I knew, I felt like giving up, crying, or both, but gradually, I began filling in random letters here and there, and eventually finished, despite not knowing anything about the movies. I thought I finished error free, and slept like a satisfied baby last night, until coming here! I had LINEN for 1A, and I still really believe in my heart of hearts that there was a Silas NEANE in the Continental Congress! I'll take one error in a puzzle that really seemed more like a Friday to me.

Denise Ann 11:28 AM  

Saw "Z" as a young adult -- remembered the director's name, but COULD NOT SPELL IT. relied on crosses.

Maybe I was tired last night, but I gave up on the SE corner -- I could hear in my head Brian's last name, but could not jam the letters I expected to be there into the grid.

For breeze, I kept thinking about songs??? "Alma Mater" and such.

I watched the Johnny Mercer special -- what fabulous music.

KLEENEX was my gimme.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

You were probably thinking of, and misspelling nene

jeff in chicago 11:48 AM  

Very nice puzzle! The minimal number of theme squares didn't bother me a bit. Had TWEED, then DENIM, then finally LINED for 1A. Tons of great fill here. Maybe a little later I'll toast this puzzle with a little Makers Mark!

We have another sub-theme about space: STARMAPS, MOONLIT, LEM and - if you stretch it a bit - ATLAS.

(I just put Z and M in my Netflix queue.)

Rex Parker 12:36 PM  

I have found that Loose Dirt Laura Miller will do pretty much whatever the hell she likes, god bless her.

Adding "Z" to Netflix queue ... now!

Have you seen "Taxi Driver" lately? Taught it this morning in Crime Fiction — I'd forgotten how amazing it is. I couldn't stop talking (a problem I occasionally have, but today it was out of control). Great surprise was noticing a scene where a giant "Endicott-Johnson" Shoe Co. sign was painted onto a building somewhere in the city. That co. gave its names to two towns near me: ENDICOTT and (company founder George F.) JOHNSON City. Like cigar-making and business computing, shoe-making is an industry that used to be the center of the local economy here in Broome County ... but no longer.


ArtLvr 12:37 PM  

It didn't quite WHUP me, but the puzzle did require a couple of Googles, GAVRAS and JASMINE, though I should have known its IPO right away!

@ r_c -- I'm glad you explained the mystery of ETAS in one honor society, at least. But is there another?

DENNEHY was a neat gimme, as he's a pal of my son-in-law and they are doing another play together in Chi this season. He says the film work affords him the luxury of doing theater, even if the movies range widely from westerns to a murder role like Wayne Gacy...


Greene 12:39 PM  

Absolutely loved this puzzle. It really demonstrates that theme density is not essential if (1) the theme itself is really good and (2) the rest of the fill has plenty of sizzle. When I first opened the puzzle I thought it looked like a Friday, there was that much open space. It can't be easy to create that kind of grid when you've got a theme to support, so bravo to our constructors.

Like others, I immediately wrote in the names of the three directors which provided much help in the thornier areas of the grid. All told though, a delightful solve.

I was taken to see Rhinoceros on Broadway in the early 1960s. I was a kid and I don't think my parents really quite knew what the show was about. I remember very little about the production other than Zero Mostel's highly celebrated transformation from human to rhino using only his face and body (no props). It was at once hilarious, disgusting, terrifying, and utterly fascinating; I still vividly remember being transfixed as the spit and sweat flew off him as he morphed (and those bulging, contorted eyes) 40-some-odd years later.

There was a movie made in the early 70s in which Mostel got to recreate this performace. Unfortunately what was wonderful and terrifying in the theatre was merely disgusting on film. You would never realize what a great actor Mostel was if you only saw him on film and television (which is, unfortunately, how most people know his work). He was just too large a character to be contained by a camera. You had to see him live to catch a glimmer of his greatness.

allan 12:52 PM  

Add me to those who loved this puzzle. One of the reasons I don't post much anymore is that most of the puzzles leave me feeling blah. This one was just right for a Thursday. Kudos to Messers Hinman & Horwitz.

@judith: Count me among those who left linen & neane.

@ Bill from NJ: You tell 'em old chum!

Jet City Gambler 1:10 PM  


"Taxi Driver" is one of my favorites, check out this
HuffPo article
that tracks down some of the iconic film locations, and shows what they look like today. Cool stuff.

jeff in chicago 1:18 PM  

ArtLvr: I am SO looking forward to Hughie/Krapp's Last Tape. Will you be there?

retired_chemist 1:25 PM  

@ ArtLvr: HKN was the only one I knew. Professor Google teaches us that Lambda Pi Eta is the Communications honor society and that Alpha Eta is the Allied Health honor society. There may be more but the bell rang before the Professor got any farther.

archaeoprof 1:46 PM  

Another vote of appreciation for this artfully crafted puzzle.

Tried "flareups" before QUARRELS.

@Two Ponies: Porter Waggoner! The NYT puzzle need more country music. Is it too much to wish for a country music theme puzzle someday??

archaeoprof 1:46 PM  

Another vote of appreciation for this artfully crafted puzzle.

Tried "flareups" before QUARRELS.

@Two Ponies: Porter Waggoner! The NYT puzzle need more country music. Is it too much to wish for a country music theme puzzle someday??

Two Ponies 2:11 PM  

@ archaeoprof, Crap, we both got his name wrong. I wanted two N's and you wanted two G's. Come to find out it's just like in the puzzle.
I'd give a C&W puzzle a try but it would have to "old school" stuff. Considering how much opera, Broadway, and rap we get thrown at us I'm surprised that genre is pretty much ignored.

Clark 2:17 PM  

E.g. @Leslie, @Robert, @Hallaig (unreformed), @Stan, @wee -- I see I was in good company. I knew COSTAG[RAV]AS, so I couldn't figure out GIRDUP. The name is long enough that I guess I have always already identified the referent (that director guy) by the time I got to the second G so why keep track after that? That was one solid typo in my memory banks!

@Loose Dirt Laura . . . I bet the symbol @wee was thinking about was the delta that has to do with “As the sections get smaller . . .”

dk 2:29 PM  

Dear Netflixer's,

Are most of the titles available as video on demand?

d (drank far to many Mint Juleps to walk to the mailbox) k

PIX 2:30 PM  

I totally don’t get it…it’s a Thursday puzzle and the entire theme is that there are three movies with a single letter as their title…I am not saying this was easy but for a Thursday it’s a totally lame theme…I spent a long time trying to figure out what I was missing; it turns out I missed nothing….Thursdays so often have some extraordinarily creative themes; this was a complete let down…could people's positive comments be influenced by their knowing the creators of the puzzle? just a question.

Riemann sum “is otherwise known as an integral”…as somebody above noted, if its math (especially a sum) just assume its “sigma”…does anybody really call an integral a Rieman sum?...even calculus books don't use that terminology...way too cute…

Vectors in physics have magnitude and direction (e.g. I went 49 mph due north) and are often indicated by arrows.

Apnea = “not breathing” was very clever for “cause of awakening”…people (often obese) with sleep apnea keep waking up in the middle of the night because they stop breathing…makes them very tired during the day…check out Falstaff…Shakespeare is excellent in describing Falstaff’s sleep apnea problems (though, of course, he does not call it such).

dk 2:33 PM  

A Toast to Darkman

jae 2:40 PM  

Yes to having to fix the GAVRAS spelling and yes to FLAREUPS which worked with GIRDLE but not with GIRDUP. Excellent puzzle which was on the tough side of medium for me because I held on to FLAREUPS too long. Need to rent "M" but have no desire to see "W."

When you're lost in the rain in ...

ArtLvr 2:43 PM  

Thanks, jeff and r_c -- I don't know the dates but will inquire... Hope the amazing airline mess clears up soon!


Anonymous 3:00 PM  

Perfect Thursday puzzle IMO. Nicely done.

Mike Lewis 3:03 PM  

Atlas gets Post of the Day. Very funny.

Google solved the NW for me; otherwise, I did better than I normally do on Thursdays...

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

Coasta-Gavras was my first fill and I too had linen, Neane looked fine to me. Stax I knew because daughter lived in Memphis, home of the Stax Records museum. I agree Z is a great movie and Yves Montand one of my all-time favourites, whether acting or singing. Also rent The Wages of Fear with Montand one of the most "on the edge of my seat" movies and his wife Simone Signoret in the original "Diabolique".
Loved the puzzle

Joe 3:18 PM  

RE: SW Corner

I could have done without "UP TO PAR" and "ANALOGS."

Bad clue! BAD CLUE!
Now sit in the corner.

"APNEA" and "MOLESTS" were clue-worthy though.

And "Taken"--good movie.

Shamik 3:20 PM  

Loved, loved, L-O-V-E-D this puzzle. Rang in as a medium-challenging for me at 10:22 'cause I kept wanting COSTA-GARVAS but GIVDUP was something I wouldn't do, so relented to the proper spelling of the director's name.

But I'm not seeing any right-coasters objecting to USONE. Yes, that's its proper name, but growing up in Connecticut we called it RTONE, never USONE. I remember skipping school one day in high school and my friend and I drove to Rhode Island along Rt. 1 just to see what it looked like.

Did I say I loved this puzzle with all its Z's, J's, Q's and K's?

sanfranman59 3:25 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 18:24, 18:32, 0.99, 50%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 8:36, 8:58, 0.96, 44%, Medium

treedweller 3:39 PM  

I went with LINEn, then corrected it when I cheated for GAVRAS/DEANE.

As I was filling in the scrabbly letters, I suspected it would be a pangram. Never checked, but that's the first time I ever gave it much thought before.

netflix has a small portion of its titles "on demand". I never really tried to quantify it, but I'd guess 10 to 20 percent.

Ulrich 3:51 PM  

@dk: Did you show M to your students b/c of the famous scene in which the Peter Lorre character describes what is going on the mind of a serial killer?

@Shamik: I live in CT now, and it's still "Rt 1", no matter what it's called locally (like "Boston Post Road"), let alone officially...

william e emba 3:59 PM  

USONE was supposed to be a gimme! What other road goes north/south like that up the US East Coast? And Rex doesn't travel it? Well, hah!, I live on US-1. OK, that's not the address I put down for the post office, but the signs are all over the road.

We last saw Silas DEANE, I think on 12/20/2008. He shows up about once a year or so. Memorize him folks!

The source of my SIGMA/DELTA confusion is probably because no one actually calls the summation sign a "sigma". It's called "sum" in the summation context. In contrast, the "delta" that's part of the Riemann sum is called "delta". If, for example, someone asked me to name the symbols in a Riemann sum, I would point to the one thing and call it a "summation sign", not a "sigma". And I would point to the other thing and call it a "delta".

Riemann sums are not integrals, no, but they are used in defining integrals. If you can recall the area of a curve y=f(x) being approximated by a bunch of skinny vertical rectangles filling out the x-axis, you were looking at a graphic depiction of a Riemann sum. The explicit formula was a big summation sign, followed by f(x)*Delta x, where f(x) is the height of a typical skinny rectangle, and Delta x was its width.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  


Glitch 4:19 PM  

For some reason I have suddenly developed a craving for oriental food.

Can't decide on Chineseor Japanese tho.


retired_chemist 4:28 PM  

Anon 4:03 wishes to arrange marriages to Chinese and Vietnamese women for men who are familiar with Riemann sums, are artsy, and like Fritz Lang movies. No Assyrians please.

andrea z michaels 4:28 PM  

LOVED this puzzle, it was so up my alley (films, Italian men, Greece) that I did it in less than 5 minutes, fastest Thursday ever...
EXCEPT GODDAMNIT I had a one letter mistake again!!!!!!
I had WHIP/QIIZNOS!!!!!!!!!!!!

I only knew QUIZNOS bec Young Tyler made us stop there for lunch en route to the Morgan Hill crossword weekend, my one and only time there and he mentioned THEN that it would be great for a crossword (this was like a year ago)
All I remembered is that it has a funky spelling, so I didn't bat an eye at QIIZ!!!!!!!! Damn!!!!!!!!

As long as everyone is adding M and Z
to their queue (adding Z to their Q? Don't I need a sigma in there? Or is it delta, I forget...) consider adding that great documentary about STAX records...
I had to google it, it seems to be called "Respect Yourself" but that's not the title I remember so it may not be the same one...

The mini-Greek theme (COSTA-GAVRAS, SIGMA, ETA) confused me a tiny bit, bec I thought Costa was his first name, in which case you would write COSTAS when referring to him...but when talking direcctly to him, you say Costa, or Costi...
So I spelled it wrong...but now when I google HIM, his first name was indeed Constantinos but was born in France...now I'm all confused.
When I lived in Greece, my name was Andreas (which means "man", so they called me Adrianna) but the point is, you are Andrea if spoken directly to and Andreas if referred to in the third person...
that's why it's confusing to hear someone is named Nikos for example, but you call him Niko.

As for the whole Sigma/delta thing, um, Jeremy like teaches math with Byron Walden, so he knows from Sigma...

I love that Jeremy/Tyler noticed that there have been movies with just a one letter title AND that the numbers in the directors name worked out!!!!! What are the (mathematical) odds of that????!!!!

Plus the panagram! Plus the sophisticated fill of IONESCO, MOONLIT, UOMO, etc.
This puzzle made me feel smart, sassy and bright.

I loved this puzzle DESPITE knowing the creators! ;)

PIX 4:35 PM  

@william e emba... I believe Interstate 95 also goes North/South up the East Coast, Florida to Maine.

chefbea 4:37 PM  

Tough puzzle for me but learned a lot.

With all the talk about analog watches last week.... Now analog means cousin - so I guess I have a cousin watch!!!

Loading up the car for our trip to Wilmington NC. Checking on our house down there. Will be absent til next Tuesday. Have a good weekend all!!

Ulrich 4:44 PM  

@ret._ch.: That's me, to a tee!!!

retired_chemist 4:45 PM  

Surprised that our Californians haven't noted that California 1 is also called Route 1 or Highway 1. Only the first mentioned distinguishes it from US 1. If you want a beautiful drive take Route 1 on the left coast. The parts of US 1 I have seen leave something to be desired.

mac 5:09 PM  

Fantastic puzzle! Did it without googles although maybe I should have.... Thought Costiga Aras was an acceptable name, maybe better vras Costiga, but it rang some bell. About Deine? Why not?

I had Gamma instead of sigma for a while, is that a possibility, too, Mr. Emba? Not a mathematician at all.

I also had Suarez before Juarez, and my funniest temporary mistake was "a kiss" instead of apnea....

Seeing the name Tyler Hinman made me think pangram, so Quiznos came a little more easily. Love the word wagoner, I don't think I've ever seen it in a puzzle before.

I'm having New Greek in Astoria this evening!

joho 5:15 PM  

@PIX ... I don't know the constructors but loved this puzzle. And I didn't even get it right! I hope to see them at the top again very soon.

Elaine 5:24 PM  

I agree that the APNEA clue was great---but watch out. My husband was pooh-poohed when I INSISTED that he be evaluated in a sleep lab. He was young, he was not obese, blah blah blah. He stopped breathing 220 times in a 6 hour period of recording. I knew this, since I was the one waking up and heaving him over onto his side, or shaking him, or counting how long since he had taken a breath. Surgery improved things only minimally, but he is now a 20+ yr C-PAP user. I am SO glad I did not have to do the surgery with a grapefruit spoon (as I had threatened...)

@ Ret-chem
When I lived in CA, we called it "The One-oh-One"-- it's Highway 101 that goes down the coast, isn't it?

SO glad that "Z" will be getting some viewings!

retired_chemist 5:31 PM  

@ Elaine - US 101 is a major artery, the earlier version of I-5, just like the US 1, I-95 pair in the east. California 1 is different. Scenic. Hugs the coast, while US 101 is somewhat more inland and intended for higher volume traffic.

Another Math Guy 5:44 PM  

It wasn't my intention to be dickish above, though my intentions and they way my actions/statements are perceived rarely conicide, so apologies all around. All this being said, Mr. Emba had a better reason for his initial choice of DELTA over SIGMA than I would suppose most had for choosing SIGMA, so I stand by my original comment.

Martin 6:14 PM  


California is two states. You have revealed that you lived in the State of Southland. (Northern Californians look askance at calling a highway "The 101" as if it were a deity. We simply say "101.")

Perhaps you knew CA 1 as "The PCH." Much of CA 1 is the Pacific Coast Highway in SoCal.

slypett 6:21 PM  

dk: How kind of you to think of me between mint juleps!

PIX 6:56 PM  

@Elaine...as your story illustrates, it's usually the bed partner (being politically correct here) that makes the diagnosis, not the patient...

Karl 7:28 PM  

this great puzzle would've been even better with the incorporation of the theme answer "letterheads," clued "17, 32, and 51-Across?" Even without it though, still a fantastic puzzle with very lively fill and very few groaners.

michael 7:56 PM  

For me this puzzle was a breeze (easy A). Seems to be a puzzle with difficulty that depended a lot on whether you're familiar with the directors.

My only problem was getting CG
s name right -- tried CostasGarvas (doesn't fit), then CostaGarvas, before getting it correct.

SethG 7:59 PM  

Desmond Llewelyn is 15 letters. So is Laurence Tureaud, but I had to look that up.

Crosscan 8:03 PM  

Did I mention that entering SHARON STONE slowed me down? I confuse her and OLIVER.

retired_chemist 8:08 PM  

entering Sharon Stone - what an image....

Stan 10:22 PM  

In my neck of the East Coast, Rte. 1 offers motels, Adventure Golf, gift shops with rubber tomahawks and humorous lobster knick-knacks, Dollar Stores, campgrounds bordering fast food emporia, gas stations, boarded-up mini-malls, nail salons, used tire shops, Jiffy Lubes, and hundreds (maybe thousands) of signs containing the words "Ocean View."

For anything remotely pretty, Rte. 1A is usually a better bet.

sanfranman59 10:40 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)

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

Mon 6:38, 6:54, 0.96, 42%, Medium
Tue 9:02, 8:37, 1.05, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:25, 11:46, 0.97, 47%, Medium
Thu 18:46, 18:33, 1.01, 58%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:41, 0.94, 38%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:20, 4:25, 0.98, 52%, Medium
Wed 5:52, 5:47, 1.01, 60%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 8:11, 8:57, 0.91, 23%, Easy-Medium

Schmidtenor 10:53 PM  

GIRDUP????? It seems that at some point between when I used to regularly solve the NYT some 15 years ago, and came back to it this year, it became acceptable to arbitrarily tack random prepositions on the ends of words. Just about threw the paper out recently when I saw GETINON. Don't know when that happened, but I think it's lazy and sloppy. Anyone care to clue me in on why this is now okay?

Re today: Far too many proper names overall, especially in the NW. Felt like I was doing the TV Guide puzzle. COSTAGAVRAS crossed with DEANE, STAX, IRV, and MEARA? Give me a break. Got ASSYRIANS from the Y in DRYWINE. I don't mind one or two people I've never heard of, if you give me a fighting chance with some vocabulary words in the crosses, but with that many proper names, there's just no way. Don't make it a trivia contest.

Expletive deleted.

Newbie 11:22 PM  

I'm sure I'm the last commenter. Loved the puzzle, but was sure the director of "Z" was Costa Gravas, which messed up that section of the puzzle for me, as I didn't know the record company, so thought STRX could be right, and thought Irv could be Ira, so finally changed Gravas to Graras (which I knew was wrong) to fit GirdUp into the puzzle.


Sfingi 12:07 AM  

Frightening. Had to Google 11 answers. Got the theme. but couldn't think of the directors. Saw "Z," hated it, knew it was a Greek, but...

Didn't know there was a Vogue Men's.

@Kerfuffle - I think IONESCO "adjusted" his name a couple times. He is Romanian, which would usually end in U

@Emba is of course correct. But a simple statement for those who didn't take (or took and forgot) calculus - Riemann sums are used to calculate areas under (or outside) curves, which can't be figured by simply multiplying sides, because of the smooth, but not angular, nature of curves. Hope that's not too annoying.

Didn't get 37A NEGS. Explain anyone who's awake.

@Elaine - I'm having same problem with Mr. Snorehead. I surprised him with a 2008 Focus to replace Stinky, the idea being he'd go to a clinic. He denies he's asleep, let alone snoring. Been waiting - and sleeping in another room. If we finally go to Europe - well, he's been - it'll cost us twice as much since I'll need my own room.

Anonymous 12:11 AM  

@Sfingi - NEGS = Negatives for use in the dark room by a developer.

mac 8:34 AM  

@Anon: that answer bothered me, since you don't get negatives until you have developed the film.

william e emba 2:21 PM  

In 1969, political assassination was seemingly being thought of as the norm. My parents debated about whether to take me to see Z or not. Among other things, some of our best family friends were Greek, and it was to be a joint night. I recall thinking it was to be some kind of Zorro. In the end, we didn't go at all. From the same time frame, I remember 2001, Charly, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (!!), Airport, Patton and Little Big Man.

Z was certainly part of the of college movie circuit when I was older, and I had a wry laugh at my younger self, and I here I am, not happy to learn that I failed to commit Costa-Gavras to memory at the time. It wasn't that I memorized his name as a kid, but I had a distinct reason to memorize it later on.

xyz 2:40 PM  

My most satisfying Thursday ever, very easy as all the Directors were slam dunks. Lots of other rote stuff, too.

Rex, must see Z - certainly being who yee bee.

CostaGavras was first fill in as my eye jumped to Z in the clues. Puzzle more as I play less golf, WHUP was only ugly word. I am sure I'll get my a$$ kicked by today's.

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