Katz of Dallas — WEDNESDAY, Nov. 11 2009 — Punkin cover / Hogwarts roost / Abruzzi bell town / Marvel Comics villain with eyeball like helmet

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Constructor: Kelsey Blakley

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: ONE TWO THREE FOUR (39A: Start of a count ... or the letter frequencies in 17-, 30-, 46- and 64 Across) — each theme answer contains four letters, which appear 1, 2, 3, and 4 times in the answer, respectively; e.g. BEER BREWER has one W, two Bs, three Rs, and four Es

Word of the Day: OWLERY (36D: Hogwarts roost) — The Owlery is a room on the top of Hogwarts Castle's West Tower, where the school owls and the owls belonging to students live during the school year. (Harry Potter wiki)


ADD-ON!? (1A: New wing)!?! Man, I slapped ANNEX down with dead certainty, and then APBS went in (1D: Police dept. notices), and then ... but ... 2D: Crowd in Cologne has to be DREI (German for "three" — "Three's a Crowd!") ... but ANNEX says 2-Down starts with an "N" ... so ... no ANNEX? Cruel. I would have slapped an "e.g." on the clue for ADD-ON, as ADD-ON is super general where [New wing] is not. Bah. Next I hit OMRI (4D: Katz of "Dallas"). Whoa. Total WTF answer for me. But then I got the @#$! out of the NW and the rest of the puzzle just went up in flames. I tore through it with almost no hesitation even though I didn't fully grasp the theme until I was done. Put down LOOT for GEMS (61D: Treasure chest treasure), but that was my only post-NW slip-up. In retrospect, I really like the theme. Seems original, and the resulting theme answers are interesting. TO THE TEETH is flat-out great. So thumbs up. Puzzle did not BLO (38A: Slo-_____ fuse).

Theme answers:

  • 17A: User of barley malt (beer brewer)
  • 30A: Emphatic boast of responsibility ("I did indeed!")
  • 46A: One way to be armed (to the teeth)
  • 64A: "And away go troubles ..." company (Roto Rooter)

Ironically, I was totally stumped by a poetry clue and a comics clue (irony = I teach both subjects). 26D: "Punkin" cover made absolute zero sense to me. I thought maybe "Punkin" was a song and somebody covered it ... but then that song would be called "Punkin," presumably, so that couldn't be right. Is there some cutesy way to refer to the top of a jack-o-lantern? [Nice tie-in, btw: 47D: Like a jack-o'-lantern => HOLLOW] No. I got the answer, FROST, from crosses without any problem. Then when the puzzle was done, I googled [punkin cover] ... didn't see anything. Googled [punkin frost]. Bam! Cloying, sentimental, 19th-century dreck (actually 1911, but there's really nothing 20th-century about it)
"When the Frost is on the Punkin" by James Whitcomb Riley

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best, 5
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here— 10
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock— 15
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill; 20
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps 25
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me— 30
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

As far as comics (and continuing with the vaguely spherical theme set in motion by the Punkin / Jack o' Lantern), there was ORB, a villain I'd never heard of (51A: Marvel Comics villain with an eyeball-like helmet). Had to look him up once I was done. Apparently he lost his face in a hideous biking accident (while trying to run his opponent off the road during a race). He was later supplied with some supernatural helmet that looked like a giant eye, with which he did EVIL things (23A: Straight from hell).


  • 45A: "Amazing" debunker of the paranormal (Randi) — Surprisingly (given the "i"-spelling of RANDI), not a girl.
  • 63A: _____ Jannings, Best Actor of 1928 (Emil) — learned from xwords. Standard fare. Very much worth having in your arsenal as a gimme.
  • 10D: Musketeer's need (ramrod) — It's a rod that rams. Nice, straightforward word. Great word.
  • 12D: Phoenix landing site, 2008 (Mars) — Dumbledore has a phoenix named Fawkes. Moving on...

  • 18D: Raga player Shankar (Ravi) — like EMIL Jannings, crossword gold.
  • 60D: Abruzzi bell town (Atri) — more gold. Learned it from xwords. From the poem "The Bell of ATRI" by Longfellow. Not to be confused with Hersey's "Bell for ADANO" or the mythical king of the Huns ATLI.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


retired_chemist 7:56 AM  

An enjoyable easy puzzle.

Wanted CARVED for 47D, POISON for 22D, ASTI for 60D (Oh yeah, that's a wine town - but maybe it has a bell), GELS for 50A, T TOP for 57D. All this left me in everybody else's dust, I suspect, but it was fun.

CoolPapaD 8:14 AM  

Loved this very original theme. I imagine the construction - finding four phrases with the 1-2-3-4 letter frequency - was the challenging part. I fell into the ANNEX as well, and could not, for the life of me, remember the German word for three, even though it's been in enough puzzles in the past year or so. PRIME for PRIMO and GRAIN for GRIST also slowed me down - I had more write-overs than I've had in a long time. Very enjoyable!

Eli of Ockham 8:20 AM  

The world will be poorer when James Randi passes. Look him up on You Tube.

matt 8:26 AM  

Fun puzzle. The last letter I got was DORIS Kearns Goodwin crossed with BLO. Complained in my head that I had never heard of this Doris person... and then promptly watched a Simpsons episode from earlier this season in which she was referenced.

Leslie 8:47 AM  

I was VERY impressed that anyone could even find four different phrases with that particular word count. And they were unforced, valid theme answers, too. To have, on top of that, non-cruddy fill? Great puzzle!

One head-shaking moment for me: Every time, every doggone time, I have to remind myself that Cologne isn't in France!

JannieB 8:51 AM  

Very enjoyable Wednesday. Clever theme, no groan-worthy fill.

@Leslie - I also want Cologne to be in France - at least it told me right away that ANNEX wouldn't work. It was my only real head-slapping moment since, I am embarrassed to say, I knew Omri Katz from too many hours watching Dallas - a guilty pleasure indeed.

Kurt 9:00 AM  

Clever theme. Stellar fill. Great puzzle.

Thanks Kelsey Blakley

Judith 9:02 AM  

I too wanted Cologne to be in France.

Rex was awful hard on poor Riley. I grew up on Little Orphan Annie, who came to our house to stay.... It was in a poetry book my mom used to read to us from.

They used to print that poem (frost on the pumpkin) in the Indianapolis News every fall so the smell of burning leaves always makes me think of it

PIX 9:10 AM  

Clever puzzle; well done.

Two Observations:
@48D: a throbing pain is one that pulsates or pounds (as opposed to being constant in intensity); it need not "hurt like heck". For example I now have a throbing headache, but its really only very minor.

56D: For non-beer drinkers..."Lite" as opposed to "Light", can only be used by Miller.

Doug 9:12 AM  

Am in Toronto on EST so taking advantage of the time zone to post a rare early comment.

I have 70 liters of ale bubbling in my closet, so BEERBREWER was very top of mind! I'm through paying $2 a beer in our high tax B.C. liquor stores. And my wife really likes it when I'm in the kitchen boiling barley malt (NOT.)

Didn't think it was that easy for a Wed. Lots of excellent fill today!

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:12 AM  

Quality puzzle today. Bowie is always welcome too.

Elaine 9:23 AM  

Other than trying to put in ROTORROOTE..oops
this went smoothly. I did not know RANDI or OMRI KATZ (though I watched some "Dallas" episodes on reruns) so those went in late.
Doris Stearns Goodwin's biographies are very readable and interesting.
My g'parents had a complete set of the works of James Whitcomb Riley, and I read most of his poetry. He does run together in one's head with others (which one wrote " 'Neath the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands?") but not everything was purely awful... and the clue was very clever, I think.

Easy, but entertaining. And I learned ATRI

joho 9:27 AM  

@Rex, thanks for the Bowie clip, it took that poem out of my head!

I don't remember seeing Kelsey Blakley at the top before ... but I certainly will be looking for his/her name again. Fun Wednesday, easy but interesting and new.

OMRI was my word of the day.

Thanks, Kelsey!

Meg 9:28 AM  

Just right for a Wednesday. I was amazed when I realized that for each theme answer, the 4 letters were the ONLY letters in the answer. Nice.

I thought ramrod was an adjective. It's also the rod you use to "ram home the charge in a muzzle-loading firearm".

Straightforward, non-sneaky cluing.

Hobbyist 9:31 AM  

There is a rude poem that opens with, "When the frost is on the punkin, that's the time for dicky dunkin."

ArtLvr 9:57 AM  

i appreciated the intricacy of the construction, but found the "theme" of counting letter frequency a bit of a bore. I suppose I expected more relating to Veterans Day besides a musket's RAMROD and the four-beat of a march? Rex's commentary was exceptionally good though.

@ r_c on feeling "All this left me in everybody else's dust...." Shades of the humble view and contrasting delusions of self-importance, as in Aesop's satire:

Said the fly upon the chariot wheel,
"What dust we raise!"

Siincere salute to the veterans!


P. Abide 9:58 AM  

Nice puzzle. Only one nitlet for me: LAO in the grid and "Lao-___" as a clue.

I always associated "frost is on the pumpkin" with the James Taylor song.

Van55 10:03 AM  

Very well done theme, in my opinion. I liked this puzzle quite a bit.

I too immediately thought ANNEX for 1A, but quickly dismissed it on glancing at the clue for 5D (Title holder). It simply couldn't start with an X.

Never heard of OMRI. DORIS Kearns Goodwin was a gimme, as she was/is a very frequent guest in the Imus radio program that I used to listen to.

ERST, BLO, SKEW and STP seem kind of iffy as fill to me.

Alice in SF 10:06 AM  

Oh, no, Harry Potter again. I haven't had the time to put together my cheat sheet. Actually, I did try to read the first Harry Potter book and it didn't hold my interest; ditto for the first movie.

As to 10D, I was absolutely convinced it was about the Three Musketeers and put in rapier which threw me off for a time.

Had to Google the answer to 45A as I didn't a clue to his/her identity.

PlantieBea 10:16 AM  

Fun puzzle Kelsey Blakley. The bottom was a bit more difficult for me than the top with the unknown ATRI and USE in for TAP. Count me in with those wanting a French word from Cologne. My youngest had to memorize parts of Riley's punkin poem when he was in grade school. We also used to have an orange tabby cat named punkin. Thanks for the Bowie, Rex.

slypett 10:21 AM  

Is OMRI Katz male or female? What kind of name is this? The puzzle was skewing difficult until it dissolved like a clog tended to by ROTOROOTER--except for the NW, for some reason a personal bugbear. Auntie Google supplied me the Katz meow.

Gypsy 10:25 AM  

Thanks for the Bowie!

Stan 10:31 AM  

Solid, well-constructed puzzle. Nice job, Kelsey!

jeff in chicago 10:35 AM  

Impressive theme. Did not figure it out until I came here, but was nicely surprised when it was explained. The rest of the fill is excellent as well.

The James Randi Educational Foundation - and it's website (randi.org) - provide educational (and sometimes quite funny) reading. People still believe in dowsing? Really?

Thanks for the Bowie, Rex. Any day that begins with a fun puzzle and a little Bowie is off to a good start.

william e emba 10:35 AM  

The original ORB (with the eyeball helmet as clued) apparently died, and his successor is the All-New ORB, whose head is in fact a giant eyeball. See the Richard Corben variant cover for Ghost Rider, fourth series, #30.

There is probably an absolutely freakish coincidence in the middle west coast, with FROST/RANTO running adjacent to each other. There's a Finnish pop singer Kirsi Ranto. Kirsi is Finnish for "frost"!!

mac 10:47 AM  

Wonderful Wednesday puzzle! I had some trouble getting started in the NW, erasing it when n-b-- appeared at 5D, and I too wanted the rapier, but it worked out without help. Love that word "Owlery".

It was an odd mix of new words and real crosswordese. At some point I thought Kelsey might be very young, then I changed my mind two/thirds through the puzzle.

Patricia Shepard 10:48 AM  

SIMILAR to rest of the GANG, I DID INDEED find it LITE and ADEPT -- AMONG those LIGHTER Wednesday GEMS. Don't have much else to ADD ON or ADDRESS. Not EVIL, not LUST-worthy - this puzzle was TOPS and did not BLO, not one TIT. Speed-wise, it went EMIL a minute. (Ha.)

Athos 10:55 AM  

Working off downs only, I confidently threw in SWORDS for 10D, all the while thinking "We're Muskateers for christ's sake, not Swordeers. We have muskets, we don't necessarily have to have swords. Why the hell to you all believe the crap you see in movies?" But, since we have to have muskets, then of course we need RAMRODS.

Excellent job on that clue.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:55 AM  

Excellent puzzle. No one will claim that this is a tired theme!

My two write-overs were exactly those mentioned by pednsg - PRIME/PRIMO and GRAIN/GRIST.

*"Punkin" cover* reminds me of an ancient sitcom (I think we're talking 1950's here) in which a coded message was left reading "Frost is on our pumpkin; run fast my girl, run fast". The code was presumed in the sitcom to be extremely difficult to break because it did not contain the letter "e". Does anyone else remember this, or have a clue as to what show it was? Google/YouTube was no help to me.

Two Ponies 11:04 AM  

Fresh, fun, and inventive.

A bit of a violent mini-theme.
APBs for the Evil Gang armed To The Teeth with their Ramrods run Amok on a Rampage as the street Throbs with Danger.

I did not realize that rheas lived in the Americas. I was thinking Africa I guess. I was expecting a condor.

Boy, I'm nailing those Harry Potter clues now!

edith b 11:12 AM  

I had an 8th grade English teacher who waxed positively poetic, to coin a phrase, over the poetry of James Whitcomb Riley so the FROST was on the punkin was a neon for me.

Had all manner of right-overs today grain for GRIST Poison for DANGER and fell into both parts of the trap in the NW Prime for PRIMO and annex for ADDON.

There are only so many themes available for puzzles and it is always nice to see one I haven't seen before so I enjoyed today's puzzle for that very reason.

My mother was a big Dallas fan and I was forced to learn about the show in self-defense as she liked to rehash the previous weeks episode whenever we apoke. I know my actors and was mystified by OMRI Katz and googled the actor after I finished the puzzle. Turns out, he was the baby son of the main characters.

slypett 11:19 AM  

Jeff in Chicago: Don't knock it, if you haven't tried it! I've dowsed and have seen several DPW workers dowse to find pipes. It works!

You shouldn't believe everything that is debunked. The world is not made of straight lines.

retired_chemist 11:27 AM  

A double dip on dowsing and The Amazing Randi.

treedweller 11:47 AM  

I was totally doused the other day, but the water found me.

mccoll 12:06 PM  

Regards to all veterans and members of the armed services on Remembrance Day, and Thank You!
Being a black powder shooter gave me RAMROD although rapier will fit, too.
Easy puzzle all right, but what a wonderful job of construction. I liked this one Kelsey, you crafty little devil. Thank you.

william e emba 12:30 PM  

Darkman asked: "Is OMRI Katz male or female? What kind of name is this?"

It's a Biblical name. Omri was king in Israel, and father of Ahab. It's fairly popular among Israelis.

The best known Omri is the son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Omri first made headlines with his nepotistic rise in politics and now with his corruption trial.

Perhaps Omri Casspi will soon become known. He is a forward for the Sacramento Kings basketball team, and was a first round draft pick. Casspi is the first Israeli to play in the NBA as of two weeks ago. (And the second to be on an NBA team.)

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Seeing Paradise Lost reminds me of that brilliant scene from Animal House where the wonderful Donald Sutherland plays an English Professor ... the scene goes like this (while he is eating an apple no less):

[None of his literature students are paying attention]
Professor: Don't write this down, but I find Milton probably as boring as you find Milton. Mrs. Milton found him boring too. He's a little bit long-winded, he doesn't translate very well into our generation, and his jokes are terrible.
[Bell rings, students rise to leave]
Professor: But that doesn't relieve you of your responsibility for this material. Now I'm waiting for reports from some of you... Listen, I'm not joking. This is my job!

hazel 12:45 PM  

I can't begin to imagine how difficult it would be to create such a snappy little puzzle - so I looked back at a few previous Kelsey Blakley creations and they all seem to me the work of a person who is just crazy smart.

Very fine unique puzzle.

Shamik 12:46 PM  

Excellent Wednesday puzzle, but have to call it a medium-challenging for me at 7:09 for a Wednesday. Liked the theme answers as being very fresh.

@Alice in SF: I also said, ok to Harry Potter. It's there in the category with Twilight. Anything that gets young people to read is a good thing. For my personal reading, not so much.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

To all the people who want Cologne to be French - remember it is Anglicised on our maps and think Koln instead.

Good good puzzle with lots of erasures (pencil and paper) but got there in the end

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

If you read Harry Potter all the way to the seventh book they get better and better. The last book really was tremendous

andrea lao-sy michaels 12:52 PM  

LOTS of missteps for me all the way thru...including spelling ROTOROOTOR with five O's! (I had GOLD for GEMS)
So I had to reread the clue for the theme one, two, three, four times...

@P. Abide
Good catch about LAO!!! It's amazing those things slip thru!
Maybe those should be called LAOs, bec it's a lao-sy editing job when that happens...plus we could add LAOS to Rex's interesting plural list.

Again, I may have already told about an evening with Doris Kearns Goodwin when Hunter Thompson came to speak at Harvard Law School.
He was drunk and drugged and we were with about 8 people including Doris's husband and her daughter who may have been about 8 at the time...
it was midnight, there were drug dealers and sycophants (long story as to why I was there) and her daughter was being totally ignored and clearly used to being dragged along to these kinds of events and I was horrified then and remained horrified 30 years later and wonder where SHE ended up!
I can't remember if the controversy had already happened where it was clear that Doris K-G had slept with LBJ while writing his biography...
Interesting night but for all the wrong reasons.

Oscar 1:01 PM  

Cool idea, but not much of an aha. Something solid like SLEEVELESS would've been better than the dangling TOTHETEETH, imo. USER crossing "User" is pretty slipshod, too. Really closed off in the middle; one black square would cut the grid in half.

OMRI shouldn't come out to play until Fri/Sat, either, I don't think.

Geezer 1:02 PM  

The clue for 2D, should actually have been "Crowd in Köln". The city is in Germany on the Rhine river, about 60 miles from the French border. Close enough that it is either French or German depending on historical incidents. Eau de Cologne is frequently called Kölnisches Wasser.

The answer to Crowd in Cologne should actually have been TROIS

chefbea 1:04 PM  

An amazing puzzle!! Lot of people I didn't know but got them from the crosses.

Is this a first time puzzle for Kelsey?? Bravo!!

andrea rapier michaels 1:07 PM  

Hmmmm, I just googled DKG' s daughter and apparently she only has three sons...so I went to see if it was Dick Goodwin's kid from a previous marriage as they had only been married a year when this "incident" happened...
again, no mention of a daughter!!!!!!
So, she has died, never existed, or I'm crazy...
Now who the hell's daughter was she? Hunter T's? Nope, just says he has a son.
I am baffled, but at least I didn't plagiarize the story...

good explanation! Maybe it's psychological, but I think eau de cologne smells SO much better than
Kolnisches Wasser!

Ulrich 1:09 PM  

Great, original theme! It seems yesterday's hate fest will be followed today by a love fest...

As to the name Cologne: It started as a Roman colonia (colony), and from that name, different languages have derived different names for the city--it's still Colonia in Italian AFAK.

And I'm not sure that the editors were aware of HOW apt it is to put Cologne into a clue today in connection with the number three: 11 is the "fools' number" in said city on the Rhein and so, Karneval (mardi gras) Season starts today, 11/11, at 11:11 hrs. The highpoint: The inauguration of this years' "fools' trio" to reign until Ash Wednesday next year: Prinz, Bauer und Jungfrau (prince, peasant and virgin--the latter always being represented by a married man).

Eli the unsuperstitious 1:21 PM  


If your dowsing friends want a milllion dollars all they have to do is prove they can dowse (for those unaware - holding a stick in your hand and sensing when the stick finds water underground. Yes, I know that there is always water underground. That's the point.). The experiment is exactly like what you describe - finding which pipe (of many) has the water only by holding a dowsing stick over it. Amazingly, no one has been able to do it.

Proof positive that dowsing is phony? Of course not, you can't prove a negetive, but to paraphrase Carl Sagan, extraordinary claims deserve extraordinary evidence.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:35 PM  

@anonymous, 12:36:

Seeing Paradise Lost always reminds me of Samuel Johnson, as referenced here:

Samuel Johnson (essay date 1781)

SOURCE: “From The Lives of the English Poets,” in The Critical Response to John Milton's Paradise Lost, edited by Timothy C. Miller, Greenwood Press, 1997, pp. 103-13.

. . . Johnson examines the epic's defects — claiming that we do not readily identify with the human protagonists and noting that “none wished it longer than it is” — as well as its greatness, . . .

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

I for one was not happy to see The "Amazing" Randi's name appear. He calls himself a skeptic, but in fact he rejects out of hand any and all claims of "paranormal" activity that do not fit his a priori assumptions about the ultimate nature of reality.

Skepticism should not be an end in itself but a safeguard against what is fraudulent or otherwise bogus. It should not close our minds to what may be true and valuable.

I consider Randi a cynic, not a skeptic in the good sense of the word.


Anonymous 1:39 PM  

Count me in for Atli instead of Atri until the cross fixed it.
I grew up hearing my dad use the phrase "the frost is on the pumpkin" when autumn nights became nippy. I didn't know it was a poem, and he probably didn't either. I won't repeat some of his other sayings...

slypett 1:49 PM  

wm. e. emba: It's a good thing I enjoy the taste of my own foot! Grats for the info.

Elaine 1:52 PM  

@Andrea Lao-sy Michaels

re Doris Kearns Goodwin (I think I had brain fog and put in Stearns in my post-d'oh)....I read her book, and as she told it, LBJ made a pass but she claimed she turned him down...and she mentioned she was in rollers and couldn't believe he was oblivious to that. Hmmm

Is there a source to say otherwise?

One Who Does Not Understand Quantum Mechanics 2:01 PM  

@anonymous/Charles, 1:37 PM:

There is no logical reason for the world to exist. (Disproofs of this statement welcome.)

Therefore, it is humanly impossible to say what is possible or not. (Possible paradox there.)

But, by golly, in all of human history, no one has been able to prove any phenomenon outside the realm of what we might call modern science.

So, go dowse and claim the $1,000,000!

Martin 2:07 PM  

Peter and Acme,

I don't think there's a rule about a clue and an answer having the same word, especially when they're not related etymologically. I recall WS once saying that it's a good idea to prevent a clue word from subliminally spoiling a different entry, but it seems unlikely that part of a Chinese name in a clue would be the way you "got" an ethnic group related to the Thai people.

The "rule" against clue words looking like entry words is even less of a rule than the "rule" that OVO and OVOLO can't appear in the same grid.

mexgirl 2:08 PM  

Great write up and great puzzle! And thanks so much for the poem; it truly pulls the whole autumn atmosphere together.

I didn't know RAMROD, or RANDI, or OMRI, or DAR, but ooooh this was so much fun to do!

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

@Mexgirl DAR = Daughters of the American Revolution.

RAMROD is also the name a rocking Bruce Springsteen song from his album The River

Clark 2:23 PM  

'Grain' in the SE held me up for a while, but otherwise smooth solving.

@Ulrich: I read 'AFAK' in your post. Always wanting to keep up with the texting abbreviations I tried to look it up. I found
Armed Forces Assistance to Korea
A town in Al Qadisyah Governorate of Iraq
A Jewish poet
Aircraft First Aid Kit
All Fans Are inane Koalas.
Only then it occurred to me you meant AFAIK.

@andre amok michaels -- I don't know why a story has to be both good and true. Seems one or the other will do. That reminds me of a dinner party I attended many years ago where the official topic for discussion (don't ask me why this dinner party had an official topic for discussion, we were graduate students) was "Can the artist be trusted?"

Stan 2:24 PM  

@Ulrich: The Prinz, Bauer und Jungfrau pic is great! I'm assuming it's the Prince on the right, since he seems to be wearing chainmail.

andrea naturally-curla michaels 2:50 PM  

OK. I only learned it was a "rule" last year, when I also learned about limits to black squares, theme-entry count and a bunch of other stuff I used to be happily oblivious to!
But it does seem in bad form to have LAO- staring at you in the same puzzle in which it's an answer.
Wasn't finger-pointing so much as pointing fingers...

Thanks for letting me off the hook!
But really, the best stories (to me) are youmakeitup version, MAYBE with slight embellishment.
But it's freaky to have such a clear memory and then discover she doesn't even HAVE a daughter! Or at least one that Wikipedia knows about!

Would you put said encounter in print if you were the writer?! But might you tell it over dinner? ;)
And since when has rollers ever stopped a man!

Ulrich 2:53 PM  

@Clark: Right you are AFAIK (I never memorize these things and always reconstruct them in my mind when writing--being such an extremely modest person, I missed the "I")

@Stan: The Prinz is the one in the middle. BTW the Bauer (neither "peasant" nor "farmer" is completely right) symbolizes the fighting spirit of the citizens, especially in their confrontations with the archbishops, and that explains his armor--the thrashing tool represents his status one who sows and reaps. The Jungfrau represents the unconquerability of the city (from the days when it was surrounded by wall and moat)

andrea abt natural 2:55 PM  

obviously I meant you CAN'T make it up version. I am insane.
And yes, the artist can not be trusted!

Noam D. Elkies 3:05 PM  

Nice puzzle. Yes, there are a few other one-word possibilities, including PEPPERTREE and SERENENESS. On this day REMEMBERER would have been welcome too, odd job though it is.

And yes, some of the clues are way too obscure for Wednesday; not much could be done about 4D:OMRI (it's also the Biblical name of the founder of a North Kingdom dynasty, but that's still not well-known), and 51A:ORB could at least be guessed from the clue, but 63A:EMIL might as well have been clued "four-letter name"...

@PIX: perhaps a really bad headache would hurt like hell, not merely heck. "Heck" is of course where you'll go when you die if you don't pray to Gosh ;-)


Noam D. Elkies 3:05 PM  

Nice puzzle. Yes, there are a few other one-word possibilities, including PEPPERTREE and SERENENESS. On this day REMEMBERER would have been welcome too, odd job though it is.

And yes, some of the clues are way too obscure for Wednesday; not much could be done about 4D:OMRI (it's also the Biblical name of the founder of a North Kingdom dynasty, but that's still not well-known), and 51A:ORB could at least be guessed from the clue, but 63A:EMIL might as well have been clued "four-letter name"...

@PIX: perhaps a really bad headache would hurt like hell, not merely heck. "Heck" is of course where you'll go when you die if you don't pray to Gosh ;-)


Bill from NJ 3:21 PM  

The frost on the punkin takes me back to my high school days in the early 60s when I Had a teacher who rejected all of Modernism in the Arts, you know If it don't rhyme it ain't a poem school of art and this teacher held up Riley as an "exemplar" of all that was right about Poetry in America.

And 50 years after the fact he was still fighting the Ezra Pound-Amy Lowell struggle over the translation of Chinese poetry into English.

Oh, what a year that was. The guy was a cuckoo but what passion he brought to the Arts!. I never learned so much from a teacher who was essentially wrong on so many fronts.

chefwen 3:22 PM  

Of course my first fill was annex which came out immediately when I saw DREI and DIEM. Didn't know OMRI Katz or DORIS (hi mom) Kearns Goodwin but both came easily with crosses. Only other write over was ERST over erse as I was pretty sure that grise wasn't a word, maybe plural for grouse, yeah that's it!

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

Rent "The Blue Angel" (fur Ulrich: Der Blaue Engel) with Marlene Dietrich and I guarantee you will not think it's such a random clue.

Ulrich 3:35 PM  

here it is--the movie that made La Dietrich a star--Jannings already was one, in Germany

william e emba 3:50 PM  

Actually, Noam, EMIL Jannings is standard crosswordese, as Rex sort of mentioned. And Jannings was famous in his day. I'd say he's Monday level, actually.

Because Cologne is the standard name in English for the German city, the fact that it is also the name in French is irrelevant. The clue and answer are accurate as is.

retired_chemist 3:51 PM  

@ chefwen - grise is a French word, cf. éminence grise (lit., gray eminence), meaning most commonly a secret/informal "power behind the throne."

Jeffrey 3:55 PM  

Maybe a dowser can find the missing daughter.

A Southerner, Comparatively 3:57 PM  

Grise Fiord, (Inuktitut: Aujuittuq, "place that never thaws"; Inuktitut syllabics: ᐊᐅᔪᐃᑦᑐᖅ) is a small Inuit hamlet, Qikiqtaaluk Region in the territory of Nunavut, Canada. Despite its low population (141 residents as of the Canada 2006 Census,[3]), it is the largest community on Ellesmere Island. Nunavut is one of the least densely populated areas of any developed country.

sanfranman59 4:00 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)

Wed 11:46, 11:47, 1.00, 53%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:10, 5:47, 1.06, 70%, Medium-Challenging

I'm a little surprised by the top 100 solvers performance so far today. This one slots firmly in the Medium category for all solvers and my own solve time places it toward the low end of the Medium range. The top 100 median solve time will end up at least somewhat lower. Perhaps the fastest regulars are taking the day off or are a little later than usual.

archaeoprof 4:04 PM  

I found this one a bit harder than the typical Wednesday. Lots of un, with a clever theme that didn't become clear until the end.

James Whitcomb Riley makes my head hurt like heck.

archaeoprof 4:05 PM  

That's fun, lots of fun.

a-pat 4:09 PM  

@emba, you've never heard of "Dock of the Bay" or Steve Miller, but do know a Finnish pop singer and the derivation of her name. I'm pretty sure that disqualifies you from deciding which pop culture figures are or are not "Monday level".

joho 5:25 PM  

@Crosscan ... LOL

@Andrea naturally curla Michaels... I'm really hoping the dowser works because now I'm really worried about the missing eight year old girl!

Two Ponies 5:39 PM  

@ a-pat, Very funny. Obviously you are a regular lurker (or just a regular in disguise).

A good novel that involves dowsers is Water Witches by Chris Bohjalian.

Joe 5:42 PM  

Had GOLD for GEMS.

Also -- did anyone have RAPIER at first for RAMROD?

Charles -- exactly right about James Randi. To the letter.

Remember: either something IS or it ISN'T -- an individual's belief is irrelevant.

mexgirl 5:43 PM  

Thanks for explaining, Anonymous @ 2:17!

And I just want to say, I love reading my namesake (tocaya, en español) Andrea's comments! (by the way, that says gub...)

william e emba 6:20 PM  

@a-pat: Sheesh.

Google and Wiki are my friends. I often doublecheck if a two-word partial might actually be one word. For example, somewhere there's somebody who uses "ranto" as the name of his EspeRANTO sucks rant page, but that's just amusing. Ranto also turned up Kirsi's name, and then out of random curiosity, I looked up Kirsi and was amazed that the adjacent FROST itself popped up as what it means in Finnish.

By tomorrow I'll probably forget her, and if she shows up in a puzzle next week, I'll have to get it from the crosses.

Normally these exercises lead nowhere, or maybe to something too trivial to mention. But I keep doing them anyway.

Seriously, if I can figure out a pop culture clue, it's almost always Monday/Tuesday level. As it is, I sometimes know nonpop culture pretty well. I'd hazard that EMIL Jannings is nonpop culture. Then again, I know off the top of my head the 3rd baseman who shared the infield with Chance, Evers, Tinker, and the poet who immortalized them.

Similarly, while I knew of OMRI father of Ahab, and OMRI Sharon from his embarrassing presence in Israeli politics, I had never heard of OMRI Katz before the puzzle, and I learned of the basketball player OMRI Casspi by looking up possibly famous Omris. I have a marginally slight interest in famous Israelis, so it's possible I'll remember Katz or Casspi.

Exercise to the reader: Why do I know the above mentioned 3rd baseman?

Second exercise to the reader: Why do I know of musician Scott Miller?

Schrödinger's cat 6:26 PM  

Re: "either something IS or it ISN'T."

I'm not so sure about that.

slypett 6:30 PM  

Crosscan: Bosh! Everyone knows you can't find a person by dowsing. You have to use a crystal.

edith b 6:32 PM  

@Joe & Charles-

I agree with your assessment of the Amazing Randi to the limited extent that the more Randis we have, the fewer Uri Gellers are out and about taking advantage of the simple-minded. I think we can forgive Randi for loving the limelight just a little too much.

Clark 6:34 PM  

@Schrödinger's cat

Glad to see that you are alive. Your commenting may have saved you.

crosscan 6:46 PM  

If someone can't be googled do they truly exist?

jeff in chicago 7:09 PM  

@Charles and Joe: I think you've got Randi wrong. He does not reject anything out of hand. He takes the available evidence and goes with that, with an open mind that new discoveries may come along. He has said many times that he would love to be there when "X" paranormal claim is proven true. I would like to be there myself! What an astounding day that will be!

It's just that no one has proven dowsing works. And, as others have said, there's a million bucks waiting for you if you can do it.

(knowing the rules of this blog, that will be my last post on this subject!)

@Schrödinger's cat 7:16 PM  

@Clark: MOL (Meowing Out Loud).

slypett 7:24 PM  

crosscan: You you are one mixed-up Crosschick. For example, I can't be googled, but I certainly exist. I post, therefore, etc., on the one hand. On the other, I can pinch myself and feel the frisson of existence. Oh, excuse me, I'm being dowsed.

Glitch 8:04 PM  


Find Darkman via Google


Anonymous 8:05 PM  

Thanks to those who have responded to my note.

In my opinion, there's a Catch-22 in the James Randi offer. If an empirical claim can be scientifically proven to be true, then it's not paranormal. It's a part of nature and, as such, is normal.

I think the discussion has focused too much on the question of dowsing, of which I am no fan. There's much more at stake than this one issue: the study of consciousness itself, and its relation to the external world.

The presently still-prevailing materialist paradigm of Enlightenment science closes off areas of serious, urgently needed investigation. But it is my strong belief that it will soon give way to a more inclusive world view.

James Randi admits of no way of establishing the truth of a factual claim than that of repeatable experiments, the philosophy of which has its roots in determinism.


mac 8:17 PM  

Best day of comments I can remember. What a group!

retired_chemist 9:21 PM  

Darkman can be googled but does not exist (except as a blog name). Darkman's name acc. to his blog is Cliff Post, who seems not very googlable.

Existence and googlability are thus not necessarily synchronized. I find that profound. However, I have had my drink (nay, two) already and so my standard for profundity may be low tonight. Kinda on target for the blog today.......

Ulrich 9:25 PM  

@ret_chem: I'm the opposite--the more I drink, the profounder I get...give me enough, and I'll explain Schroedinger's cat to you, and with a little more, Heidegger.

sanfranman59 10:05 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, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:40, 8:36, 0.89, 22%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:54, 11:47, 1.01, 58%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:22, 3:41, 0.91, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:05, 4:25, 0.92, 29%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:03, 5:47, 1.05, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Two Ponies 10:38 PM  

I've had enough wine to find Anon. Charles 8:05 confusing at this time of day and better left for further review in the morning... if I remember.
I have paranormal stuff happen to me from time to time. I just relax and enjoy it. I think that if we remain open and aware the world can be a very entertaining place.

slypett 11:53 PM  

Well, Glitch, well, well, well.... Anyway, I didn't mean my screen name, but, gawd, could I be wrong? Is it possible I exist in Crosscan's sense of the word? Gad! the metaphysical implications are, well, staggering!

retired_chemist 12:05 AM  

@ Ulrich - plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

slypett 12:05 AM  

two ponies: Already over my three posts of fame, but I want to join you in your outlook. Anonymous Charles is on this spooky wavelength, too.

We accept each other when we speak of thoughts--though they can not be seen or demonstrated--except indirectly in graphic output--why not these rarer occurences?

Sfingi 11:43 AM  

I'm writing now because I lost my whole entry yesterday, and was too tired to rekey.

This was a rich puzzle and certainly elicited many comments.

I had many of the same initial entries as everyone, and was beat to the draw on Cologne.

@Emba -Appreciated the Omri info. and @Pix for Lite

@Kerfuffle - My husband suggested that the '50s sitcom was Stu Erwin Show a.k.a., The Trouble with Father, since he was a H.S. Principal.

@Elaine Riley (as well as my cuz, Longfellow of "spreading Chestnut Tree" fame) is beloved and my prison students enjoyed reading and listening to their stuff. I especially remember Orphan Annie (not the comix one) and the scary story of the naughty girl being pulled through the ceiling.
I don't think high testosterone Marvel Comix' heros outrank Riley ballads.

Are "rushing" and a word I was thinking, "frosh" still part of the language?

My son attended an Amazing Randi lecture at Binghamton with first edition Skeptic magazine in hand. He got an audience and a signature.

My father-in-law, Rosario, born in Bagheria, Sicily, was a dowser; did not charge. He beleived someday scientists would find some electo-magnetic spectrum explanation.

I think I'll read the last hairy potter book.

Unknown 2:03 PM  

this was easy? wow i suck.

Singer 11:46 AM  

From syndication -

Agree that DREI would have been better clued had the German spelling of the city been used, however I pretty much immediately knew the answer, so it was a good clue.

Did fall into the Annex trap until I hit DREI and DIEM. Also spelled RANDI with a 'y' and put in stew instead of SLAB. Other than that, no worries.

Paul 12:21 PM  

Another successful Wednesday, so I'm happy. Difficulty ratings must be relative, as it says, because I wouldn't say it was easy for me. I liked it immensely, though. Tricky clues. Interesting Doris gossip. I know her from PBS; she sits with that other guy whenever there's a presidential panel. Enjoyed a story I think she told about scoring baseball games with her father.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

Just one complaint: NASCAR is an acronym (National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing) and thus should be all caps [it wasn't in the syndicated version in my paper, at least]

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