Seabird native to the Galapagos — MONDAY, Nov. 30 2009 — French novelist who had affair with Frederic Chopin

Monday, November 30, 2009

Constructor: Oliver Hill

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: TRAP (66A: Word that can follow the ends of 18-, 25-, 43- and 59-Across)

Word of the Day: E BONDS (46D: Old U.S. gov't investments) — Series E U.S. Savings Bonds were marketed by the United States government as war bonds from 1941 to 1980. When Americans refer to war bonds, they are usually referring to Series E bonds. Those issued from 1941 to November 1965 accrued interest for 40 years; those issued from December 1965 to June 1980, for 30 years. They were generally issued at 75 cents per dollar face value, maturing at par in a specified number of years that fluctuated with the rate of interest. Denominations available were $25, $50, $75, $100, $200, $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000. Series E bonds were issued only in registered, physical form and are not transferable. The guaranteed minimum investment yield for the bonds was 4 percent, compounded semiannually


Pretty dull "word that can follow" puzzle redeemed somewhat by the unusual and funny-sounding BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY. And by ROD CAREW — a great full-name answer. I can see his 1978 baseball card (the one with the '77 stats) very clearly in my mind. That's the year I started collecting. There was a profile shot of him (he played for the Minnesota Twins then) and there was a little insignia indicating his 1977 MVP status (... hmm, internet research just now shows that that insignia marked his All-Star status, not his MVP status; MVP is so much more important, I figured that must have been what was being commemorated, but no). Anyway, that dude could hit. He and George Brett were probably the greatest hitters of my childhood. Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn came a little later.

Theme answers:

  • 18A: 186,000 miles per second (light SPEED)
  • 25A: Not making any sounds (as quiet as a MOUSE)
  • 43A: Seabird native to the Galápagos Islands (blue-footed BOOBY)
  • 58A: French novelist who had an affair with Fréderic Chopin (George SAND)

My guess is that everyone is familiar with those first two theme answers, but those last two might have provided some trouble. BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY alone kept this puzzle in the "Medium" difficulty range. I had to fight for both the front and back end of it, as I didn't see the "TRAP" answer til near the very end. SW corner in particular was tough for me to zoom through, as I tried and failed to drop 43-45-Down into the grid the first time around. UPMOST was not a word that came quickly to mind (45D: Like Brahmins in the cast system) — grid already had an "UP" at UPDATE (12D: Supply with more recent info). So BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY and its environs made a mildly interesting puzzle out of what would otherwise have been a bore. Good enough.

Technical point of interest: lots of black squares today (42, near the upper limit), with a large chunk of them going toward ensuring that the two 15s, which are separated by just three rows, don't have ANY crosses in common except the central AGENT (28D: 15-percenter). Generally, the fewer of your theme answers that have to share crosses, the easier the grid is going to be to fill (well). The top two and bottom two theme answers already share a lot of crosses with one another, so the black barriers through the middle help create some looseness in the grid, allowing for a nice set of three Acrosses through the middle (GALAS / AL DENTE / CROON). Downside: lots o' 3-letter words, which never did wonders for anyone's grid.


  • 10D: Hasty glance (aperçu) — this is one of those words that is extremely uncommon in your / my everyday life, but that has somehow broken free of the (non-E) BONDS of obscurity and come to be reasonably commonplace in early-week puzzles. I have no idea how these things happen.
  • 52D: _____ Pepper (Sgt.) — actually gave me trouble. I wanted DR....
  • 4D: Amount of food at a cafeteria (trayful) — I love this word, esp. intersecting PLAYMATE (20A: Child's friend). Takes me back to 3rd grade (the year I would have acquired that ROD CAREW baseball card...)

See you tomorrow. Important announcements and more free puzzles on the way this week, so stay tuned. And for those who were away all weekend, check out the links to two special puzzles (in the upper part of my sidebar).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Greene 7:39 AM  

This was kind of a fun, early-week puzzle. Gotta love the BLUE FOOTED BOOBY. Never heard of it, but got it easily enough through the crosses. Hee hee...BOOBY.

GEORGE SAND was a gimmie as she was the lover of my favorite piano composer, Chopin. George Sand served as the pen name of the feminist writer Aurore Dudevant who scandalized proper Victorian society in the 19th century by dressing as a man, smoking cigars, abandoning her wealthy and respected husband to live the liberal lifestyle of a bohemian writer of novels.

There was a nifty movie version of her affair with Chopin which was released in 1991 under the title Impromptu. The film was directed by James Lapine and starred Hugh Grant and Judy Davis as Chopin and Sand. Since Lapine is primarily a theatre director and had directed Sondheims's Sunday in the Park with George (Suerat, not Sand), the film also features Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters in smaller supporting roles. The whole thing is overwrought and not exactly true to fact, but certainly beautiful to look at and listen to.

joho 7:51 AM  


Wanted a "J."

A fine Monday puzzle ... thanks Oliver Hill!

dk 8:02 AM  

"Going where the weather suits my clothes" is a song dk (aka RATSO) will be singing soon. Cold weather hits the land of RODCAREW this week.

Our TRENDY residents are the Ugg rather than BLUEFOOTEDBOOBY types. Although I suppose those without Uggs may have blue feet.

Got a fifty dollar EBOND every christmas and birthday. I cashed them in when I got married (1st time) and they paid for a newish car and honeymoon. Amazing lesson in compounding interest. Did the same for my son and it covered the first year tuition at... you guessed it ASU

Finished this one in LIGHTSPEED with APERCU my only concern.

Fine start to the week although the lack of sheen (dullness) is an issue.

** (2stars)

ArtLvr 8:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:36 AM  

At first I thought it was going to be another "Q" themed puzzle like yesterday .... I found it nice and easy for a Monday, especially after a holiday weekend.

I knew BLUEFOOTEDBOOBY, not sure why, maybe because I used to read a lot of seafaring adventures, Mutiny on the Bounty et al. I didn't know their feet were such a bright blue! very cool.

I take slight issue with UPMOST... It sounds a bit clunky to me. I think UPPERMOST is a lot more common ... for what it's worth.

ArtLvr 8:36 AM  

What Greene said! Cute puzzle with bonus BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY!

And thanks to Rex for the particulars on E-BONDS. I want to point out that there's a term in the news now that would be handy for xword constructors: SUKUK! This is a modern type of "non-bond bond" issued in the Islamic city-state Dubai which pays investors "rent" on underlying assets instead of "interest" -- because the Koran prohibits the latter. This evasion has yet to be tested in their courts. The current turmoil in the financial news is over three of these in $60 billion worth of trouble, with repercussions possible for many banks around the world. Stay tuned to see if big brother Abu Dhabi is going to help them out!


Parshutr 8:44 AM  

I'd spell it Daddio, but that's just me.

Skua 8:48 AM  

What I think of 43a

PIX 8:52 AM  

By time, at least a medium for me for a Monday.

"Lightspeed" is a bit forced; it's always refered to as the "speed of light".

"Upmost" is also forced for Brahmins; agree with Anon, "uppermost" is what most people would use.

As per Rex, I will simply add apercu to my early week vocabulary.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

i have seen blue footed boobies in the wild on a trip to Galapagos. They are awesome. They do a "booby" mating dance very cool. There are also red footed boobies and Nazca boobies that live there

Parshutr 9:04 AM  

Urban dictionary:
Daddio = 50s version of what dude is now. Today it is barely known and lies almost completely forgotten amongst all the other odd words thought up, used and then thrown away and only used by weird people that can't let go.

Victor in Rochester 9:09 AM  

Loved the puzzle.

I also have seen the mating dance in the Galapagos. It's been posted on YouTube at:

PlantieBea 9:30 AM  

A medium-challenging Monday for me because I got stuck for a while in the SW where I had BARE foot booby, couldn't remember GEORGE SAND at first, and stared at the tree branches spot with B***HS. When the BOUGHS barrier was eventually broken, that corner finally fell.

I thought this was a good Monday puzzle--colorful with GEORGE SAND, BOOBY, APERCU, RIGA, BETE, DADDYO. Thanks Oliver Hill. However, when I got to the TRAP theme with the ends of the long answers, it felt like a bit of a waste, especially with the 15 letter answers.

mac 9:45 AM  

I liked this one, the trap part not so important to my solving pleasure.
Oliver likes the Beatles, it seems. Didn't know that Paul was a leftie. I wanted Ms. Sand to spell her name Georges. Foci made another appearance. How about the clue Jazzy James!! Lots of funny pairings when you go around the puzzle.

Stan 10:02 AM  

Cool puzzle. Thanks Daddy-O!

Elaine2 10:03 AM  

not "medium" for me -- one of my fastest Mondays. Blue-footed booby was a gimme; haven't been to the Galapagos (want to go) but watch a LOT of nature shows.

Paul with his "backwards" (due to being a leftie) bass guitar on Ed Sullivan (!) is an image of my youth, so that was a gimme, too.)

(I would also spell DADDIO with an "I," but it didn't slow me down...

Fun Monday!

retired_chemist 10:10 AM  

What everybody said. Very nice Monday, easy-medium. Blogs told me the theme - didn't notice it myself.

Pulled GEORGE SAND out of deep cranial recesses. Lo and behold, it was right. Started with JOHN for the left-handed Beatle, easily changed to the other half of the Pope when crosses required it.

Hopefully treedweller (remember his hilarious Friday comment?) will be pleased to have both PLAYMATE and BOOBY today.

Thanks, Mr. Hill.

slypett 10:12 AM  

Got BLUEFOOTEDBOOBY off of FOOT. What more can I say? I liked the puzzle.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

Tourist merchandise in the Galapagos feature various articles of clothing with the legend "I love boobies" writ large, over or under a small picture of the bird. My quandary as a grandmother: whether or not these items would be appropriate for my 11- and 13-year old grandsons. I finally decided to get them Charles Darwin T-shirts, and gave a Booby-themed hat to their father!

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Those of you who get the "Close to Home" comic strip by John McPherson in your newspaper should check it out today....Cheers

Bob Kerfuffle 10:22 AM  

Nice Monday puzzle. But I rushed headlong into a few write-overs: AVOW before AVER, SEEMED before SEENAS, started throwing in QUIETASAMOUSE before I saw it wouldn't fit (had to be ASQUIETASAMOUSE), and even after I knew what the theme answer was, I carelessly entered 42 D as NOTHING before NOTABIT!

I thought 54 A, Only American League player to win a batting crown without hitting a home run, would have some esoteric explanation worthy of a Car Talk Puzzler behind it, but all I found on Wikipedia was this:

In 1972, Rod Carew led the American League in batting, hitting .318, and remarkably, without hitting a single home run for the only time in his career; Carew is to date the only player in the American League or in the modern era to win the batting title with no home runs hit in that year. In the 1977 season, Carew batted .388, which at the time was the highest since Boston's Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941, and won the American League's Most Valuable Player award.

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

Easy but fun. Still had to think a little.
Booby and Sand were my first entries.
Two ladies I would have liked to trade places with are George Sand and Linda McCarthy.
I always have a place in my heart for creative types.

Susan 10:50 AM  

I've been gone for like two weeks and I'm going to start back by disagreeing with everyone.

@Greene I found Impromptu positively charming and truthy if not true. And although George Sand may well have scandalized "proper Victorian society," since she lived in France, can we please say she scandalized Restoration, July monarchy and eventually Second Empire society? She would also have thrown something at you for calling her a feminist (although by every measure I know she was one -- duck!).

@PIX I think "light speed" is fine. "The speed of light" is more common, granted, but the other phrase exists.

@mac Not disagreeing, just a point of info: GEORGE SAND's spelling her name without the S is a reflection of the anglophilia of the second-wave French romantics.

There's a French film from 1999 by Diane Kurys about Sand's affair with Alfred de Musset called Les Enfants du siecle. I'd like to see it, but I have a weak attention span and it's over two hours long so I never have.

Meg 11:08 AM  

You know, there are also red-footed boobies (boobys?), which have pink and blue beaks. Gotta love the National Geographic Channel!

Nice Monday puzzle. I'm off to try my hand at "Aces!". I've only been a baseball fan for a year and a half, so I figure I'll die a slow miserable death.

@ret chem:

I installed Firefox last night and spent a wonderful hour customizing. So many themes!

John Gross 11:41 AM  

@Susan -

In my review of The Penguin Rhyming Dictionary in the New York Times, I wrote,

The most obvious weakness is that virtually no allowance is made for stress. This is a dictionary that pairs Buddhist with unprejudiced and Niven with Sullivan, that asks us to believe that kissing rhymes with promising and crucifix with hieroglyphics. And these examples are not even taken from the main groups of rhyming words, where there is room for a certain rough approximation, but from the special subgroups of close rhymes that follow them.

The actual phonetics often seem faulty, too. B'nai B'rith surely belongs with Smith rather than with heath or sheath. Pussy, though it is hard to find an exact rhyme for it, would at any rate be more at home with the group that includes Debussy than with fussy and hussy. Or better still, perhaps, with de Musset - there is a clerihew that begins:

Alfred de Musset Used to call his cat ''Pussy.'' though admittedly it adds:

His accent was affected. (That was to be expected.)

Bob Kerfuffle 11:48 AM  

Forgot earlier:

I thought aperçu meant something other than 10 D, Hasty glance. I find that the number one definition is "clever insight", closer to what I thought. Further down the list are meanings that approximate "hasty glance", though not exactly.

Unusual word for a Monday, not that I'm complaining.

CoolPapaD 11:52 AM  

I made the same mistakes as @Bob K. I really enjoyed this one, putt-putting along, getting stuck in a few traps here and there. I know Rod Carew more for his base-stealing skills, and because Adam Sandler tells me he celebrates Hanukkah!

Ulrich 11:56 AM  

Insight of the day: I have been using "aperçu" wrongly all my life (i.e. the 2 or so times I actually used the word)--I thought it meant a witty comment--this happens when you do not look up an unknown word, but guess its meaning from context--happens to me a lot in English, and one benefit of doing xword puzzles, for me, is that some of these misconceptions get straightened out.

Needed the theme to complete blue-footed....--apparently, I'm the only one here who has never heard of these boobies--which gave the, admittedly dullish, theme a little sheen.

Gottfried Benn wrote a memorable free-verse poem on Chopin, from which I quote the following lines (m.t.):

...weak lover,
shadow at Nohant,
where George Sand's children wouldn't accept any pedagogical advice from him...

Alice in SF 12:09 PM  

I have a photo of the Blue Footed Booby hanging in a bathroom; actually changed the color scheme there to coordinate with the bird! Loved my trip to the Galapagos and have become a groupie; I buy a yearly calendar to support efforts to save this wonderful place. There is a pink footed booby which I didn't get to see.

Thanks Victor in Rochester for the YouTube of the mating dance.

Had Ron instead of Rod for 54A which threw me off for a minute in figuring out cool cat (47D). Didn't like upmost for 45D; thought it was an awkward answer.

Otherwise an easy Monday. Always appreciate Mondays which help ease the pain of Fridays and Saturdays.

foodie 12:19 PM  

Here's the definition of "APERCU" from a French Dictionnary:

Vue d'ensemble sommaire. Synonyme: Esquisse. Anglais: General idea

Loosely translated: A sketchy overall idea. The implication is that it's a general idea derived from a quick glance that extracts the essence but not the details.

The word "apercevoir" has the sense of espying, accidentally noticing or discovering something that one was not necessarily looking for-- a chance element. It's surprising that there is no perfect translation into English.

I think "Apercu" in English has taken on the additional meaning of "insight" because it implies a quick yet general perception.

hazel 12:23 PM  

So-so puzzle for me.

Although the boobies are getting a lot of ink here, Rod Carew was the best part of the puzzle for me. I went up and checked my cards - my earliest is the '68, with the Topps Rookie AllStar trophy on the front. Very cool card. Didn't collect any '78s myself , but I did inherit my brother's cards when he passed away - and I'm so so thankful he maintained his interest. I have so many unbelievable cards from the '60s and '70s and they pretty much all remind me of him whenever I look through them.

@Rex, v. much looking forward to the Aces puzzle! doubt it'll be a breeze, though....

foodie 12:28 PM  

PS.: Apercevoir is the root verb of apercu. Apercu is both the past participle of the verb and a derivative noun.

retired_chemist 1:00 PM  

@ Meg - Glad Firefox works for you. Thunderbird is a good e-mail client too, if you use Netscape mail and want to update.

@ puppy fanciers: We have a November 23 set and a November 28 set of new photos.

Clark 1:02 PM  

Nice back to school (or work) Monday. There is something very civilized about the comments today -- GEORGE SAND, BLUEFOOTED (color scheme governing) BOOBY, APERCU, ROD (who?) CAREW.

I knew PAUL was left-handed today, because I watched a clip posted by someone the other day that set out to, rather pedantically (but ironically pedantcally, I think, so somewhat amusing) deflate the whole Paul is Dead conspiracy theory. Evidence for the conspiracy was supposed to be a photo of Paul playing right-handed, blah, blah, blah. At least I got a gimme out of it.

Doc John 1:10 PM  

A fun Monday for me. I especially liked the LOO DOO ZOO trio.
BLUE FOOTED BOOBY was a gimme for me, too, thanks to an amazing series on the Galapagos; one of the first Blu-ray Discs we purchased and we have watched it several times. Very well done, amazing photography, a haunting soundtrack and narrated by the talented Tilda Swinton. In fact, on the rare time that I think of blue footed boobies, it always comes through in Ms. Swinton's voice!

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

Tried to make it a "bare footed" booby, but woke up soon after.
Thanks for the lovely duet by Sinatra and Crosby. High Society was a fun movie, and their voices blended beautifully!

andrea sgt. michaels 1:48 PM  

Rod Carew not only celebrates Hanukah, he wears a Star of David around his neck! (His wife is Jewish)
Before you joined the blog, I think I once told my story of running into him in the 70s in a MacDonalds...
I didn't know who he was but I was admiring his babies who were the most beautiful children I had ever seen...I went up to tell him, noticed the Jewish star and was shocked when I later saw him on the cover of Time (not the cover shown, so maybe it was Newsweek but he was in full batting swing) going for Hank Aaron's record or something and realized only retroactively that I had met Rod Carew...whom I wouldn't have known Harmon Killebrew...
tho now, 35+ years later, still no sports fan, but I'm thinking "Hey! They both end with -rew!"

PS this puzzle had way too many hard words for a Monday, and I wouldn't have gotten away with APERCU, etc. But I'm not Oliver Under-the-Hill...

Bob Kerfuffle 1:54 PM  

It has finally bubbled up into my consciousness that the word I was conflating with apercu was apothegm, or to give its full glory, apophthegm

1. A short, witty, instructive saying; an aphorism or maxim.

But first I made the mistake of looking up "apothem". Ooh, la, la!

chefwen 2:03 PM  

Just north of us is the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge where we have Brown Boobies and Red-footed Boobies but no Blue-footed ones, it is also the breeding ground for a variety of Shearwater and Frigatebirds and, of course, the crossword pet of the year, the beloved NENE.

Easy, fun, Monday puzzle. Only write over was NOT A BIT over nothing.

CoolPapaD 2:18 PM  

@andrea sgt michaels - That is a great story! Those two players are numbers 61 and 69 on The Sporting News list of the 100 greatest baseball players in history! No others on the list have "-rew." Mel Ott is number 42. The list is full of some great crossword - type names. My favorite name: Cool Papa Bell!

sanfranman59 3:39 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)

Mon 7:27, 6:56, 1.07, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:58, 3:42, 1.07, 74%, Medium-Challenging

Steve J 3:50 PM  

I grew up in Minneapolis, and I loved Rod Carew as a kid (and had my first experience with being upset about players' changing teams when he went to the Angels). Great seeing him in a puzzle.

This was two puzzles for me: at first, I was flying through it at LIGHTSPEED, but then I hit a hard stop in the SW. GEORGESAND and BOUGH weren't coming to me, I had the same issue with UPMOST that others mentioned, and so I didn't have much to work with to discern what color feet the booby had. Finally, some staring and trying out some letters caused things to fall.

Which made for a Monday that wasn't terribly interest but wasn't boring, either.

william e emba 3:54 PM  

You looked up "apothem" first? Hahaha. You deserve it! Even better, look up "aporism".

Sfingi 4:03 PM  

We've had GEORGESAND and RATSO Rizzo recently.

Wanted rump for REAR.

Ringo was also a lefty (handedness, not politics).


Glitch 4:06 PM  

following @Anon's tip above, here's the link to today's Close to Home .

Worth a look.


Sfingi 4:06 PM  

Well, it didn't work that time. It was a photo of the Rotogravure record cover.

Anonymous 4:15 PM  

@ w e emba, What's the joke? Can't find aporism anywhere. Aphorism?

Bob Kerfuffle 4:28 PM  

@Anonymous, 4:15 PM -

No, he meant "aporism".

Aporism: Uncertainty about Mathe-

Ole Skovsmose, Copenhagen

Abstract: Neither absolutism nor aposteriorism have questioned
the progressive elements associated with the applications and
the social functions of mathematical knowledge. Aporism raises this question by discussing the thesis of the formatting power of mathematics. This thesis unites linguistic relativism applied to
mathematics and the idea that technology is a structuring princi-
ple in society. We are no longer surrounded by “nature”, instead
we live in a techno-nature. Mathematical abstractions can be
projected outside the sphere of mathematics, and in this way
they modulate and eventually constitute fundamental categories
of techno-nature.
The Vico paradox expresses the difficulties of specifying the
nature and function of technological actions: We are not even able to grasp and to understand what we have ourselves constructed. A critique cannot be guaranteed by scientific (or math-
ematical) thinking itself. Critique becomes a much more complex
activity including reflections on technological actions. A critique
includes ethical considerations, and therefore a critique of math-
ematics is also ethical.

Elaine 4:41 PM  

Despite sharing almost all of Bob Kerfuffle's Oopsies-- (and several others whose hands are up)--I really had little trouble with this puzzle. I kind of enjoy it when a first thought has to be revisited in light of next clues. And I finished it quickly, thanks to my being close friends with a number of blue-footed boobies! Honest! No, really!

I rate this Easy but Fun. I still don't know that APERCU is clear to me-- I wouldn't use it; doesn't seem useful in terms of connotative value compared to more-commonly seen words. But it led to a lot of interesting chat.

This was a long day! so thank goodness the puzzle was fast.

Anonymous 4:57 PM  

SKAT got in the way of APERCU

Charles Bogle 5:44 PM  

Very nice Monday puzzle, w APERCU and EBONDS and Galapagos bird sending it into challenging for me. Excellent write-up RP--Rod Carew a great, great player; hugely underrated in a lot of young fans' RATSO-remember the scene where he and Cowboy are crossing street-taxi slams to a short stop to avoid hitting them, RATSO bangs on hood and hollers "I'm walkingh here! I'm walking here!". Well, I saw an interview--Dustin H improvised the whole thing. Remarkable. Re SCAT--from a jazz perspective, it's not always "nonsense"..sometimes bits of phrases...sometimes over-runs w "hokem"

william e emba 5:48 PM  

Better known, and more fun, is aporia: Shakespeare, Beckett, and Homer, in chronological order.

APERCU was a previous WOTD, BTW.

Ulrich 6:15 PM  

WEE: Did you read the whole thing? What about the claim that "... all texts undermine their own claims to a determinate meaning."?

This is blatantly false b/c, e.g., the text that explains how I should install my new PS3 undermines nothing of the sort--it tries to be as clear as possible, and if it isn't, it can be criticized on these grounds. More fundamentally, the "all" introduces beautifully the "All Cretians are liars" (Russel's?) paradox: If all claims are questionable, then this claim itself is also questionable, i.e. we may as well not believe it. I'm surprised that this deconstructionist stuff is still peddled on the web...

dk 6:33 PM  

Math friends: Reading Modal Logic by Blackburn. In hot pursuit of mathematical models for human decision making behavior. Last week it was Benford's law. In the words of RATSO: I'm cypherin here! I'm cypherin here!

back to work

Andrea so you must be at the acme of the hill? N'cest pas?

Matty 6:51 PM  

Love the bithday puzzle. Thanks guys and happy day Rex! -M

jeff in chicago 7:01 PM  

But 'tis a common proof
That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the UPMOST round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend. So Caesar may.
Then lest he may, prevent.

The moment in Julius Caesar (2.1) when Brutus decides Caesar has to die. This monologue (my cutting slightly snipped here) has gotten me my last two Shakespeare gigs. So YAY for UPMOST!

Liked the puzzle. Easy Monday. Lots of double Os today.

slypett 7:07 PM  

Bob kerfuffle: At first I thought you were joking, and was going to write a humerous rebuttal of your quoted passage, but a little effort showed me this is quite a serious matter (and confirmed some of my own intuitios about mathematics, by the way) Thank you.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:38 PM  

@darkman - You should be thanking william e emba. He's the one who knows all these words. I just Google them when they are unfamiliar to me.

slypett 7:43 PM  

Ulrich: "All texts undermine their claim to a determinate meaning" means there is no end to interpretation of a text. With regard to the 'Cretan liar' paradox, so called, one can imagine many statements. (Does this mean Cretans lie about all things?) 'All monkeys are insects' is as logically true. Both statements fall to the application of common sense.

ArtLvr 7:46 PM  

@ Jeff in Chicago -- neat passage from Julius Caesar, thanks very much for bringing it to light... And may it continue to bring you more good roles!


jeff in chicago 8:00 PM  

No true Scotsman would say all Cretans are liars.

Ulrich 8:15 PM  

@darkman: "All Cretians are liars" is short for"The Cretian said all Cretians are liars" (I assumed people knew the allusion): i.e. if the statement is true, it must be false and vice versa. The same with "All texts undermine their claim to a determinate meaning"-- if it's true, it undermines its own claim to being true, i.e. it cannot be believed, and we may well assume that some statements are not indeterminate (operating manuals being an obvious trivial example). To me, this is the high-faluting nonsense the French are notorious for. Which is not so say that the interpretation of pieces of art will ever come to an end--that simply follows from the built-in ambiguity, and I do not need a French theoretician to tell me this.

The rub here lies in the extension of the statement to all texts. I read an interesting essay in which this claim was traced back to Paul LeMan, a Belgian who made a career after WWII at Yale and tried to hide, or explain away, the fact that during WWII, he wrote some vicious anti-semitic tracts--how convenient to have a theory proclaiming that all (!!!) texts are ambiguous. BTW B. Schlink, the author of "The Reader", recently fictionalized the case in a new novel of his.

Susan 8:38 PM  

@John Gross -- very funny. Merci!

@Ulrich -- the statement applies to "all texts" because of the nature of language itself. The argument goes that words do not have an inherent, immutable meaning, but that meaning is created by a negotiation that happens between enunciation and reception. Meaning is therefore contingent. There is always an act of interpretation.

You don't have to agree, but it's a serious idea and not "nonsense."

andreacu michaels 8:51 PM  

my brain is bleeding

@Jeff in chicago
I lived in Crete circa 1980, and they ARE all liars, especially the ex-pat waiters from England...

No, he's under, at 50 I'm officially
O(li)ver the hill...

Thanks! :)

send me your email and I'll send you a Sun puzzle I wrote that Peter G added COOL PAPA BELL to and I was all like "wha???!"
(It's one thing to change one of my theme entries, but to someone I had never heard of?!!! And to make it more humiliating, it made the puzzle about 638x better!)

who? what? when? where? re: Mpls
How old are you? what highschool?

Bob K doesn't have "oopsies", he has kerfluffles :)
I'm totally with you on Apercu...
Still don't have a clue, but thank god Foodie is back!

mac 9:01 PM  

This apercu sounds too much like a past participle to consider it as a noun.....

@Susan: thank you! Very interesting info on that period.

foodie 9:05 PM  

@andrea... thank god you said it-- my brain is bleeding too : )

But I have to say that that @Susan's explication is one of the most succinct I've heard about this issue of text and meaning.

This whole thing is a BOOBY TRAP!

slypett 11:25 PM  

Ulrich: Thanks for the gentlemanly clarification.

sanfranman59 1:39 AM  

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 7:41, 6:57, 1.11, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:48, 3:41, 1.02, 67%, Medium-Challenging

zuri 7:21 AM  

The Galapagos Islands are the most incredible living museum of evolutionary changes, with a huge variety of exotic species (birds, land and sea animals, plants) and landscapes not seen anywhere else.

Waxy in Montreal 1:02 PM  

Daddy-o, that really cool retro word, resonated immediately for me with two pop culture references from the '50's: first, The Coasters who's song Charlie Brown included the line "who called the English teacher Daddy-O?" and secondly the that archetypal Beatnik Maynard G. Krebs as played by Bob Denver on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959-63). Like, man. off to play my bongos. Later, daddy-o.

Waxy in Montreal 1:02 PM  

Daddy-o, that really cool retro word, resonated immediately for me with two pop culture references from the '50's: first, The Coasters who's song Charlie Brown included the line "who called the English teacher Daddy-O?" and secondly the that archetypal Beatnik Maynard G. Krebs as played by Bob Denver on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959-63). Like, man. off to play my bongos. Later, daddy-o.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP