Philosophy in Bedroom author 1795 — SATURDAY, Nov. 21 2009 — Egyptian king credited with founding First Dynasty / Emperor's Snuff Box novelist

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Constructor: Gary J. Whitehead

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: MENES (3D: Egyptian king credited with founding the First Dynasty) Menes is the name of the Egyptian king credited with founding the First dynasty, sometime around 3100 BC. Menes was seen as a founding figure for much of the history of Ancient Egypt, and was possibly a mythical founding king similar to Romulus and Remus for Ancient Rome. [MENES is a really dull and unimposing name for someone this important] (wikipedia)


This was tough the way a Saturday puzzle should be, but blah in a way that a Saturday puzzle should not be. I kind of like the phrase RAMP UP SALES (1A: Increase business), but all the other long answers in this puzzle are forgettable bores, with the "J" at the beginning of JAPANESE LANTERN being about the most exciting going on in the grid. Actually, I take that back. Having CENTER ICE dead center is pretty sweet, but dear god, PEER ASSESSMENTS (6D: Some workshop critiques)?! First of all, take out the "E"s and "S"s and there's hardly any phrase there. I've heard the word ASSESSMENTS specifically derided by constructors as something you might want to keep Out of your grid. Zzzzzzz. Second, having been in and run many workshops where students read each other works, I can tell you that the phrase is not PEER ASSESSMENTS (though that's accurate enough on a literal level). It's PEER REVIEW(S). Terser, and with more interesting letters. SEEDAGE is the only answer that really makes me want to hurl (11D: Horitcultural practice), so it's not an offensive grid by any means. There's just nothing Scrabbly or sparkly or memorable about it. Oh, and the grid is the same as this grid from earlier in the year, with the one difference being that the center square here is white not black. I guess that ups the level of difficulty for the constructor, but as far as puzzle quality, it isn't even close. Sometimes (most times?) the less ambitious grid results in the more interesting puzzle.

I had real trouble getting any of the long Acrosses, esp. up top. I had a feeling the "line" in 12A: Green line was going to be something someone said, a "line" someone uttered, but I figured it would be a phrase popularized by someone named Green. But who? Lorne GREENE? Wrong spelling. Seth GREEN? I really doubt it. It was late in the puzzle, and only after I (finally) got the "P" from SPLITS (7D: Stock options), that SAVE THE PLANET came into view. That NW corner (where I normally start my puzzles) was the last thing to go. Thought I was done when I dropped MENOS into the grid ... then stared at UNITOR and thought "that ... isn't right" (16A: Minister at a wedding, e.g.). IDEAS (18A: Brains' gains) and AVATAR (2D: Personification) were the first things in the grid, and I figured that "V" would send me on my merry way. But no. Ended up rebooting in the NE and then headed diagonal to the SW, then over to SE. Then jumped all the way back to the ragged-looking top part in order to SAVE THE PUZZLE.


  • 21A: "The Emperor's Snuff-Box" novelist (Carr) — saw same clue earlier this year. Helped me a bit today, though as I was solving, I was thinking it was Caleb CARR. It's John Dickson CARR.
  • 24A: World Match Play Championship champ a record seven times (Els) — I don't know what "World Match Play" is in golf, but if it were all that important, Tiger would have won it more.
  • 47A: Breaks while lifting, say (rest intervals) — this must be a technical weight-lifting term. Only vaguely familiar to me. Clue is nicely misdirective. Sounds like it refers to a clumsy shoplifter.
  • 38A: "Philosophy in the Bedroom" author, 1795 (Sade) — Before "The Joy of Sex," there was this. I would describe the plot to you, but, well, it's pretty, uh, sadistic. If you don't flinch at sexually explicit *and* violent content, you can read about it here.
  • 39A: "Man of La Mancha" production org. (ANTA) — OK, I take it back. SEEDAGE *wasn't* the only nauseating answer. ANTA stands for "American Norfolk Terrier Association."

[I know, this is a Norfolk, not a Norwich terrier — I want to say "six of one ..." but really don't want the indignant letters that would surely follow]

  • 42A: Roller near a derailleur (rear tire) — a welcome gimme. I'm no cyclist, but I rode plenty of bikes with derailleurs as a kid (though I couldn't have spelled the word for you, then or now).
  • 15D: Desert trial, for short (N-test) — thought this might have something to do with Moses or Jesus, but no — standard crosswordese, only question being A, N, or H?
  • 30D: Karaoke problem (tin ear) — Not "karaoke standard?"
  • 35D: Early American diplomat (Deane) — we Just had him, so despite knowing nothing about him, I got him here with no crosses.
  • 44D: Mountain lake (tarn) — one of the few old-school repeaters from pre-Shortz days that *doesn't* grate on my nerves. Refreshing! You can keep your AMAHs and your ESNEs, but TARN's cool. So is ADIT, if it ever comes up.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Wade 7:35 AM  

You recognize . . . grids? Wow. That's hardcore.

I'd call this one hard, or at least medium-challenging. Challenging because it took a long time, medium because I did finish, albeit with one letter, the D in DEAN. I had a K there, not getting the cabbage/wad connection or not, you know, being interested enough to double-check stuff. I shouldn't say it that way--I actually enjoyed this puzzle a lot. It kept me just in-the-game enough to make me stay up late and finish it. So yeah, boring letters, but the clues were wicked enough to put this in the thumbs-up column for me.

Shout-out to my old buddy Colum McCann, this year's National Book Award winner for fiction.

wade 7:41 AM  

One letter wrong, that is (the D in DEANE, that is.)

Retired copy editor 7:47 AM  

"Abyssinia" cracked me up. I'm waiting for the pun-haters' comments. Or is this old hat and I've just never seen it before?

dk 8:23 AM  

I echo Wade except I got up early.

Rune stone readings:

Silas DEANE -- out of obscurity and on to the alist.

Welcome back NABE.

TIN (new favorite metal I guess) seems to be seeing EAR and ORE. I would like to see tin cry (crackling sound when tin is bent) in the grid.

Fly away SSTS

My favorite observation: ASS falls on CENTERICE.

SMARM, SMARMIER, SMARMEST -- call me BATS but I don't think so.

The roller nearest a derailleur is known as a jockey pulley, but I spend too much time on two wheels.

Had drumUPSALES and concrete for best explanations. And was sure green line had something to do with parks or the street car line in Boston. A young dk used to ride the Green Line to BU from South Station to attend an organic chem class one summer, notable as that year was a transition from slide rules to calculators

Those mistakes and not seeing the SILVA for the copse gave me 30 minutes of fun this AM.

Still in a whirl over ALASS unparallel'd who visits me in her dreams.

Vincent Lima 8:34 AM  

Retired copy editor, thanks for calling on pun haters (not that I am among them). Now I understand the Abyssinia - Tata connection. I knew Tata had to be right, but whyyyy, I wondered....

retired_chemist 8:50 AM  

I saw the Abyssinia pun immediately and wrote CIAO. Eventually it became TA-TA.

1D was SKEWERS and 12A was SAVE THE WHALES for a while. SMARM - what a word. Dashboard dictionary knows it.

I wonder if tin disease/tin pest/tin leprosy is coming as our next tin-related clue.

Puzzle looked hard but solved as easy-medium. Thanks, Mr. Whitehead.

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

i, too, was mystified by the ta-ta.
not a whole lot happier now that I see the connection-good grief!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:20 AM  

Decent Saturday puzzle. Forty minutes (with breakfast), two write-overs: UMS before UHS, CLEARCUT before CLEAREST. "Abyssinia" was my favorite clue!

joho 9:39 AM  

@Rex, I was thinking the shoplifter was tired and lazy.

@ BK, I, too, had CLEARcut for the longest time. Once I fixed it, I was done.

It took me forever to get MINER. Great clue.

After filling in TATA, I finally understood ""Abyssinia." Never heard it before, usually groan at puns, but this one brought a smile.

Fun Saturday, the puzzle was much easier than the grid looked.

joho 9:39 AM  

oh, @dk ... ASS on CENTERICE is a good one.

Denise Ann 9:58 AM  

It was definitely a medium, but still, it took time. I was surprised when I saw my standing last night to see that I wasn't the caboose.

What made it hard? The clues.

Ben 10:02 AM  

Decent Saturday. A grind at times but ultimately beatable.

@Rex, you don't consider Seth Green the Oscar Wilde of our day? Actually, he was great on Buffy, but his scarce dialogue there was the key to his laconic character's charm. (CHARM = unofficial opposite of SMARM)

@Rex, Tiger has not won more World Match Play Championships for the same reason that Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Erick Lindgren, et al. (i.e. the world's best) have not won the World Series of Poker Main Event since it ballooned to 6000-player fields: the format gives also-rans continual shots at the elite and eventually one of them gets lucky and eliminates a top player. The match play tourney is a bracket like the NCAA basketball tournament, played in a series of one-on-one 18-hole matches over an entire week. So if Joe Schmo gets hot for two hours he can beat Tiger and knock him out of the tournament (which has happened numerous times) whereas he'd never get past Tiger at, e.g., the Masters or U.S. Open, where the best 72-hole cumulative score wins.

Unknown 10:05 AM  

Medium? Medium-impossible maybe. I can get most Saturdays, but I waved the white flag early on this one so I could enjoy my Saturday.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

I was "so close but so far" on this one. Took a while but got everything except the top left, where I had MIDAS for MENES and PAPER for JUICE and not much else besides RAMPUP... With that, I guessed PARADISELANTERN. Then googled CARR, ELS and MENES and figured out the correct answers.

That's twice in a few weeks UNITER has tripped me up, the other being the variety puzzle where they gave you 3 letters.

The Corgi of Mystery 10:27 AM  

On the challenging side of medium for me. About 30 minutes in I had the whole north still to do, and thought I would have to go to Google again, but after staring at it some more the first two long acrosses came to me and the puzzle was done. A bit colorless for a Saturday, but SMARM was nice, and JUICE.

Jim H 10:34 AM  

Somebody educate me please... 4D Feather: prefix is PTER? All this time I thought PTER was for wing, not feather. At least, I have Never seen a pterodactyl with feathers...

Leslie 10:40 AM  

Wow. I'm very impressed with everyone who's chimed in agreeing that this was a medium. It was really tough for me.

Knowing early on that PTER belonged at 4D should have helped me much more than it did. I had so many answers that I put in, took out, put in, took out . . . LANK, MESS, MANS, BAAS, SOPH, ROTS, AND RIPS among them.

I did laugh out loud at the "Abyssinia" = TATA part, and wanted to finish quickly to run over here and see what the reaction would be.

All in all, I filled this one in from bottom to top, like mildew creeping up a basement wall. Tough one for me, but I was proud to finally finish!!

AVATAR was really late coming to me. I wanted "epitome" or some such. I

joho 10:40 AM  

@Jim H ... I looked up PTER just to confirm and most definitions had both wing and "from feather."

Smitty 10:41 AM  

Screwed up the whole Tiepin/Tarn corner with

SELVA (n.A dense tropical rain forest )
KEEP IN - What do I know about shirts?
KARN - sounded about as good as TARN

NW corner - Had GARTER (clothing with strap) before SANDAL,

Otherwise, a good saturday puzzle

Leslie 10:41 AM  

Oops. Ignore that last line. I need some PEER ASSESSMENT to help me copy edit before I hit "Publish!"

joho 10:45 AM  

@Jim H ... excuse me, it mentioned wing then, "more at feather."

slypett 10:48 AM  

After a prolonged waltz with Ms. Google, the puzzle dissolved, leaving behind just a hint of perfume.

HudsonHawk 10:52 AM  

Decent Saturday, but Medium is about right.

Ben has some good points about the match play format, but the bigger issue is that top American players often didn't compete in the World Match Play Championship. Since the Accenture Match-Play Championship was introduced in 1999, the Worlds have lost prestige and sponsors. Incidentally, Tiger has won 3 of the last 7 Accenture championships.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

ADIT ever comes up? I thought it only went down!

Eli the expectant 11:03 AM  

Having Silva near (Silas)Deane was a little close to breaking a rule. Silas is from the Latin "Silvanus" meaning from the forest. How do I know this? My wife is due tomorrow with our first child. If it's a boy, it will be named Silas.

Rex Parker 11:04 AM  


Congrats, though I was really hoping the last word in your comment was going to be "WALPOLE."


babslesley 11:06 AM  

Did not like this one. Just had to give up after getting about half of it solved. "Peer assessments" -- I don't think so.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

Third time this week for good old Silas Deane. Coincidence or what. Kept looking for a French spellig as the answer to derailleur, Like tyre (British) or whatever. Tough but fair. Golfballman

Two Ponies 11:16 AM  

Medium for a Saturday but I had fun.
Clever clues are my favorites and this one had some fresh misdirection such as light-headed and touchdown makers. Would not have known nabes if we had not discussed it recently.
I never really looked at 39A again after I got the Downs but am I REALLY supposed to know that dog club??
This has been an easy week in puzzleworld so I was expecting an ass kicking today. I'm OK with escaping an entire week without humiliation.

retired_chemist 11:25 AM  

"peer assessment" as a string gets 282,000 Google hits. Not an insignificant number, though of course it pales in comparison to the 3,710,000 for "peer review." The former appears on a quick scan to be more an ELHI concept, while the latter, as we all know, is used more for scholarly/research situations.

retired_chemist 11:31 AM  

@ Two Ponies - check the ANTA link in Rex's blog. He's pulling our collective legs about the terrier club. Here's another link.

Martin 11:52 AM  

@Jim H,

To a botanist, ferns are "pteridophytes," named for their feathery appearance. It's not too surprising that one Greek word meant both "wing" and "feather."

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

I found this quite hard -- long answers coupled with annoying short ones that are very little help. Am I alone in not getting the "Abyssinia" pun? Why is it "TATA"?

Stan 12:08 PM  

I liked Japanese lantern, Center ice, and Make a mental note. Wonder whether these were starting points for the constructor.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:23 PM  

@Anonymous, 12:07 PM - Think, "I'll be seein' ya!"

Two Ponies 12:33 PM  

@ r_c, Thank goodness it really was a theater clue. Thanks! I still would never have gotten it.
Looking back now (with egg on my face) it was fun believing Rex's joke and thinking Man of La Mancha was the name of some champion terrier.
Oh well, I'll be smiling today remembering what a gullible dork I can be.

mccoll 12:34 PM  

Yippee! I managed it in 45 minutes with a single google for MENES. I am childishly pleased for a Saturday morning. I thought it was fresh enough and rate it no higher than medium.
Ernie Els was winning the World Match Play titles when Tiger was still in high school.
Weight lifters use interval training in order to build bulk, their ultimate goal.
Peer assessments are common in business workshops.
Also, note that "ramp up sales" is higher than "save the planet" It would appear from the failure of the Kyoto Accord and recent actions by the US and Canada that this is part of the problem.
Thanks GJW and all.

Alice in SF 12:43 PM  

I can't believe I finished a Saturday puzzle without help but sure did appreciate the explanation for "Abyssinia". My gimme was Carr, the mystery writer. What in the world is seedage for a horticultural practice, though? My last fill was 19A; kept thinking in terms of "abut" "near" and so on. Let me relish this moment then go back to my usual teeth gnashing over Fridays and Saturdays.

dk 1:02 PM  

@mccoll, It will be very important for you to work MENES into any conversation and comment that it is a word often found in the Sat. NYT x-word. I mean what good is success if you can't crow about it. Congratulations to you and the other solvers who had a good time today.

*** (3 stars)

And, thank you G. Whitehead.

Clark 1:12 PM  

That whole NW corner stood empty for a while except for JAPANESE cutting through it. Usually a sign that something is wrong. I took it out. Put it in. Took it out. SAVETHE got the ball rolling.

Apparently, in the TV show MASH, Colonel Blake used to say "Abyssinia" for "I'll be seeing you." One of the most famous episodes is entitled "Abyssinia, Henry." I tried to find a video clip but was unsuccessful. Whoever owns that copyright is policing it.

Elaine 1:22 PM  

Well, I had ROMANTIC CANDLES...and I had SALES in place... and a few other assorted rags and tags. I couldn't even get motivated to Google the clues that would have yielded some fill. The clues were so vague and blah! And I had 15 minutes to do the puzzle while eating breakfast, so I gave up.
Now I'm glad I did, even if I have to chalk this up as FAIL on my escutcheon.
Better luck next week, I hope!

The Bard 1:56 PM  

CLEOPATRA: As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle,-- O Antony!--Nay, I will take thee too
. [Applying another asp to her arm]
What should I stay--
CHARMIAN: In this vile world? So, fare thee well. Now boast thee, death, in thy possession lies A lass unparallel'd. Downy windows, close; And golden Phoebus never be beheld Of eyes again so royal! Your crown's awry; I'll mend it, and then play.

Antony and Cleopatra > Act V, scene II

Orange 2:14 PM  

I'm with Rex on TARN—a lovely bit of old crosswordese. I think I like it because of (1) "What in tarnation...?" and (2) a drawled "tired" that sounds like "tarred." Does that make sense? It does not. A mountain lake also sounds lovelier than the description of an ESNE or ADIT or ANOA, so there's that.

So, I thought I was falling asleep mid-solve because I was sleepy (and in my cups). Rex, your theory would be that it was the puzzle that was putting me to sleep? Hmm. You may be onto something there.

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

"Medium" -- no way! This one really gave me fits. Finally finished to discover one error -- the "r" in "clearest". Just sloppy checking on my part. I went with the "cleanest" explanation. Didn't even see "reaNtire". Ah well.
On the other hand got "tarn", "tata", "Deane" and "ANTA" very quickly. Go figure.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

Anyone else have a problem with 40A? The touchdown maker is the descent stage of the Lunar Lander.

LEM is a fine answer so long as it is clued "Getaway Vehicle".

They called it the Lunar Escape Module for a reason.

Nick 2:34 PM  

I'm really sick of NTEST / ATEST in puzzles. I've been alive for 31 years and have never, to my recollection, seen that phrase in print anywhere.

jae 2:38 PM  

Medium for me also. Had some problems getting started but once I got going it was pretty smooth. Briefly considered WEEDAGE, still don't know what ANTA is (have to look it up), and thanks to all for the TATA explanation. I liked this more than Rex did because of the clever cluing. @anon 2:16-I think LEM means Lunar Excursion Module

andrea carr michaels 2:56 PM  

Drat, I had EHS instead of UHS
(Must be that Canadian influence creeping down into Minnesota) so I had RAMPED Sales, leaving DEER ASSESSMENTS and I swear to god I thought it was a Santa clue, and they were talking about his Toy Workshop and the ReinDEER!!!!!!!!!!!!

I also didn't get the Bodacious "Abyssinia" clue and thought it was a slang word for boob!

I also initially had RAMS for LEMS as touchdown makers and was proud to know the name of a football team.
And WEEDAGE for SEEDAGE, just as silly, I suppose.

@dk, my LANK friend,
Abyssinia in my dreams!
Will do my best to avoid asps.
(and (W)asps for that matter!)

Hey, that could be a puzzle...
take an insect, remove the initial "stinger" and get a snake.

Lots of bleedovers besides DEANE. What about MESS(room)?

fergus 3:06 PM  

NABE sure looked strange. Short for neighborhood, I presume. A lot of doubt about the Sphere's EDGES. Because of the plural, or more intrinsic to the definition?

I got stuck with SUPREME PLANET, DRUM/JACK/PERK/ etc. UP SALES, leading to an amazing variety of LANTERNs. My plausible Press release was a GUIDE. So that whole NW drove me BATS.

archaeoprof 3:59 PM  

I'll add my vote to those who say this one was hard.

Traveling today, so I didn't really get to sink my teeth into it, but the bites I took were pretty tough.

The word ASSESSMENT makes my eyes glaze over.

Glitch 4:29 PM  

@Nick (2:34)

If you were born 30 years earlier ...
American National Theatre and Academy
Is "Abyssinia" the same part of speach as "Uranus"?


michael 4:48 PM  

I liked this better than Rex and got it, but it took quite a while. Medium-challenging for me. "Tarn" is new to me. I had to come here to figure out Abysinnia -- tata and am wondering why there is so much enthusiasm for this when there was a lot of dislike for the puns and anagrams puzzle.

(I like puns and anagrams, but thought this clue belonged in a different kind of puzzle.)

edith b 5:04 PM  

Got started with JAPANESELANTERN with no confirming crossings except AVATAR (vaguely) and bled slowly southward. I liked this puzzle alot because it did little good to Goggle as very few clues called for factoids one could glean from ones storehouse. I like the fact that SADE and ELS were inferrable from the clues.

This turned out to be a classic-type solve in that the short downs finally provided insight into the long accrosses. Perseverance was the key to success today not memory.

I liked how CENTERICE was at center ice and that NABE, that perennial Variety warhorse, didn't take its usual whipping - unjustified IMOO - as it has every time it rears its head.

Van55 5:34 PM  

I still think SSTS is lazier than ASSESSMENTS -- and more crossword cliche. This puzzle failed my test for that reason alone. But there was more that sucked about it, in my book. ANTA, SMARM, PTER, UHS, NTESTS and SEEDAGE to name a few.

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

The South surrendered fairly rapidly, but New England held out to the very end. I thought a sphere lacked SIDES, and I "took a chance" on WINGED IT. That converted "rangy" to LONG, and required the "horticultural practice" to end in -DE, a perfectly reasonable hypothesis, but sadly misleading. The old stare-at-it-long-enough-and-it'll-come technique finally lifted the siege. Rather harder than Medium, IMHO.

Martin 5:57 PM  

@Anonymous 2:16

The LEM was officially the LM (lunar module) and comprised descent and ascent stages. When called LEM, the E stood for "excursion," not escape. That was the job of the ascent stage.

PlantieBea 5:58 PM  

This was hard for me. Sticking points included PUMP up sales, LEAN for rangy, REC(eiver)S for touchdown makers, and NICK for the local theater. CENTER ICE and MINER were good, but I really disliked the N TEST, SEEDAGE, and ANTA. I'm glad you all explained TA TA. On to Sunday.

sanfranman59 6:25 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, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:25, 11:46, 0.97, 47%, Medium
Thu 18:46, 18:33, 1.01, 58%, Medium
Fri 26:11, 26:06, 1.00, 54%, Medium
Sat 33:35, 29:36, 1.13, 81%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:41, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:20, 4:25, 0.98, 51%, Medium
Wed 5:52, 5:47, 1.01, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 8:11, 8:57, 0.91, 23%, Easy-Medium
Fri 12:23, 12:27, 0.99, 55%, Medium
Sat 17:23, 17:12, 1.01, 60%, Medium

Bill from NJ 6:27 PM  


NABE was the way that the movie industry thru Variety magazine distinguished a neighborhood theater from a chain one when gross receipts were represented back in the days when those things actually mattered to the motion picture industry. Kind of archaic in this day and age.

Two Ponies 6:59 PM  

@ PlantieBea,
I was counting on you for some rational justification of seedage. No comment on that?
@ edith b, Agree completely about classic-style perseverance and lack of factoids. You are on the mark, as usual.
@ Andrea, I'm glad you noted the mess room. I forgot to mention it earlier and can't believe no one else did. I like your stream of thought and, FWIW, I can follow it! Scary, huh?
Have you spoken to your friend with the parking "issue"?

PlantieBea 7:17 PM  

@Two Ponies: I think seedage is terrible! I have never used that word. I'd rather see it clued as "advent of flowering plants" or "reduced germination cause" or ... with answer SEED AGE.

mac 7:31 PM  

It was a medium-challenging for me, but I'm very busy and a little distracted. What I found unusual is that there a couple of oddly easy clues in this Saturday puzzle: 22D staffs, 25D It has a head, 28D degenerates and 26D tatters.

I had Wimpole instead of Walpole; don't ask, a street in Chelsea/London. I was so proud to dig up the Canadian Nabe and figure out silva with no crosses. I expected something like pina or pine to start a feathery word. Center ice was hard to parse, never heard of it.

@Eli: are you the former farmer?

@Orange: excuses, excuses;-).

joho 8:07 PM  

@Michael ... it's OK to have a pun in the NYT puzzle, but not OK to have the whole puzzle be about puns and anagrams unless it's the second puzzle on a Sunday. Some of us feel that way, others thought the "regular" puzzle being about puns and anagrams was just fine. So. Sorry I answered your question because I'm sure you're more confused now than before. Anybody?

Martin 8:49 PM  

@joho and Michael,

Cluing one slangy way of saying "goodbye" with another slang way of "goodbye" is not a punny clue. The fact that many solvers didn't recognize "Abyssinia" as a slangy way to say goodbye made it a hard clue. That sometimes happens on Saturday.

Jeffrey 9:13 PM  

How things change in a year and a half. NABE is nary an issue. Who remembers April 18 2008 when all we could talk about was NABE?

andrea not clearest michaels 9:22 PM  

It depends on where you are coming from in the puzzle...I had RAGS for tatters, RODS for Staffs and it took me a while to figure out what had a head on it, as a non-drinker I did not think about beer.
(My first thought: PIN)
So, one MANS easy is another's DEER assessments!

@Two Ponies
She apologized, sort of, as have I, sort of. Obviously bigger issue is why I triggered that response in her period.
(Since you are one of the few who can follow my train of thought, I will trust you to parse that last sentence correctly and realize that it had nothing to do with her period!)

By the way, Noam or someone, is MENE MENE parkel atechem or whatever it is about the writing on the wall to do with MENES?
(oops "tekel Upharsin" I see on Google but I'll leave my original in to show how off-base I was! OK, it's nothing to do with MENES)

Eli the former 9:45 PM  

@ mac: It is I. Former farmer, former skeptic, there was something with weasels once, etc. When the blog first appeared I used to write more and use my full name, but Google scares me now, so I just use the first name.

Jim H 10:01 PM  

@joho and @martin:

Thanks for the pterrible news on pter.

Now I am wondering why I had time to do a Saturday xword, read & comment on a blog, go play a game of bridge, all before heading to work (another thing that's harder on a Saturday), but I didn't have time to look up etymology like you two did...

michael 10:38 PM  

@ Martin You're right. I didn't know that abyssinia was a slangy way of saying "good-bye." I thought the constructor had thought up this on his own.

My mistake.

slypett 11:33 PM  

andrea not clearest michaels: I am as sure you don't drink as I am sure I do. But, as with my friend Slim in Rockport, Massachusetts, it is as if you are always drunk. (Slim drinks, but you cannot tell Slim drunk from Slim sober, unless you are counting imbibements.) I might have had a point, but darkman is not sober at this time and will not be till morning (martinis at zero paces).

william e emba 1:52 PM  

I went and looked it up in a Greek dictionary. The feather prefix ought to be PHTER-, but it obviously never caught on spelled appropriately for some reason.

I solved the puzzle bottom up. It was mostly medium pace until I hit the top. I was convinced the "Green line" was ENVIROsomething from the V crossing AVATAR. When I got the final NET, I was thinking, ah, some dolphin-safe NET is a "green" fishing line, right? That didn't help.

And I tried WEEDAGE before I considered SEEDAGE. But I held back entering ELY (the bridge player) for ELS, since "Match Points" are what you play for in pretty much all bridge tournaments, but Ely is a first name. And I had ORALASSESSMENTS at first. So the top pretty much took twice as long as the rest of the puzzle.

Hesitating over LEMS and DEANE down below, simply because we had just seen them, didn't slow me down much down below, though.

xyz 12:18 AM  

Els winning 7 WMPC's and not Tiger enhances how golf is different than other sports. Even the lame explanations of "why" do little to explain the actual process of the WMPC.

Els is croswordsy, I thought that you puzzlers just memorized this stuff. Luckily most novice to mid puzzle-solvers don't even try Saturday and have to read/endure such comments. But ... that's why I almost always try to read them.

Els not only is good croswordese, but a top golfer, ascending to #2 but never #1. I guess that makes him a nobody, especially since he's not Tiger.

jesus ...

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