Port of old Rome — TUESDAY, Dec. 15 2009 — Weapon using high-arcing ammo / Cynical Bierce / Spitfire-flying grp / Bigfoots asian cousin

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Constructor: Steve Dobis

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: EAGER BEAVER (17A: Zealous sort whose schedule may include 27-, 50- and 64-Across

Word of the Day: OSTIA (36A: Port of old Rome)Ostia Antica is a large archeological site that was the harbour city of ancient Rome, which is approximately 30 kilometers (~20 miles) northeast of the site. "Ostia" in Latin means "mouth". At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport, but, due to silting and a drop in sea level, the site now lies 3 kilometers (~2 miles) from the sea. The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings and magnificent frescoes. (wikipedia)


Short write-up today. Not a lot to say about this one. EAGER BEAVER seems a not great fit with the three-part PLACES TO GO... phrase. An EAGER BEAVER is eager to perform a specific set of duties, where the three answers suggest someone who's just generally busy (more like a bee). Here's Webster's 3rd Int'l on "EAGER BEAVER":

n : one who is overzealous, overdiligent, and impatient not only to perform his part with promptness but to volunteer for more.

Both the sense of excess and the sense of task-specificness are lost in today's cluing. "EAGER BEAVER" kind of skews toward deliberate ass-kissing show-off with a specific goal in mind, i.e. advancement or impressing others. PLACES TO GO, THINGS TO DO, PEOPLE TO SEE might as well be out of a Dr. Seuss book — a phrase implying happy activeness. The upside: once I got the first two theme answers, I could fill in the next two instantly, with no crosses.

The grid shape is ungainly. Look at those NE and SW corners. Nobody wants to see 3-letter answers stacked 5 (FIVE!) deep. Other things nobody wants to see:

  • OSTIA (36A: Port of old Rome) (an oddity that stands out like a SORE, vowel-swollen thumb on a Tuesday)
  • ELYS (43A: Golf innovator Callaway and bridge maven Culbertson) (right under OSTIA?)
  • OTTOI (30D: 10th-century Holy Roman emperor)

Least favorite answers of the day, though, is MISSENT, esp. as clued — 35D: Loaded onto the wrong truck, say. The word itself is not pretty — sounds like the winner of a beauty pageant for tree people (i.e. "... and your MISS ENT for 2009 is ... Oaky!" — uh oh. I'm being told that, tragically, there are no female ENTs. There were, but ... oh, just read about it here). But mainly, with MISSENT, I don't like the clue's equation of loading with sending. Simply having loaded something doesn't mean I've sent it. People misload and then unload before sending all the time, I'd imagine.

Do like the long Downs, AFICIONADO (11D: Devotee) and AFTER SHAVE (29D: Item in a man's medicine chest), and the north and south portions are pretty solid (and kind of make up for the claustrophobia-inducing NE and SW), but overall, just a so-so solving experience today.


  • 1A: Lamebrain (simp) — went with DODO at first, SIMP not being a word that comes readily to mind (despite my oft-professed love for "The SIMPsons").

  • 12D: Sci-fi automatons (droids) — went with DRONES at first. Been hearing too much about the unmanned fliers in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) lately, I guess.
  • 48D: One on deck (seaman) — needed virtually ever cross. Just not seeing it until ... it was there.
  • 33A: Rapper Kanye (West) — much maligned, mostly by people who already hated rap before Kanye went and acted like a clown at the MTV Video Music (VMA) Awards. Most of those haters are busy hating Tiger now.
  • 62D: Bigfoot's Asian cousin (yeti) — even imaginary beasts have "cousins" in CrossWorld
  • 45A: She-bears, south of the border (osas) — crosswordese, so not great, but there's something about "She-bears" that I find amusing, so OSAS gets a pass.
  • 47A: Barker (dog) — not necessarily. Maybe. Sometimes. With a basenji, never.
  • 20A: Weapon using high-arcing ammo (mortar) — had no idea what to make of this one until after I was done. I thought the MORTAR was the ammo, i.e. the missile, but it's the gun that fires the missile "high in the air over short distances" (google dictionary)
  • 52D: Movie camera lens settings (T-stops) — never heard of this. Ever. I thought a T-STOP was the way some ice-skaters stopped their forward momentum. What an odd, obscure word, esp. for a Tuesday. Weirder still — there are just three instances of TSTOPS in the cruciverb.com database (one skating, two camera) ... but NO instances of the singular TSTOP. How does that happen? That suggests TSTOP is really uncommon and used only in desperation.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Elaine 6:55 AM  

I did this puzzle before heading to bed--home from a party and too keyed up to sleep. This shows that I do, at times, stay up past 8 PM...just not very often!

Because I thought of too many choices for 1A, I looked at 1D SEEM and SIMP popped into mind. I have no idea why-- because SIMP seems very dated...almost as dated as "lamebrain." Don't we have new and improved insults now?

Claudius improved the harbor at Ostia, as recorded in Robt Graves' excellent books...making OSTIA a gimme. I hate to see it thrown on the dustpile (and right after winning WOTD, too!)

I rate this Easy and await Wednesday!

Parshutr 7:14 AM  

Easy for me, but lots of fun for me. Liked the Japanese (Isao, noh) the corners, especially ADZ atop FRA, ION, CII and IDE.
Come to think of it, there was nothing I didn't like, probably because I'm not a PURIST who objects to MISSENT (I had guessed MISLADEN with no crosses, but ARES made me undo that one.

Greene 7:26 AM  

I found the center of this puzzle surprisingly sticky. Just when I think I've got my crosswordese house in order, along comes another word I've either never seen or can't remember. OSTIA, OSAS, and ELYS slowed me down considerably. Oh, and I couldn't not remember ARES to save my life. I think the A in ARES was my last letter in the grid.

Like Rex, I was bothered by the NE and SW corners of the grid with those stacks of 3 letter words. I love the 10-letter entries that snake through those regions (AFICIONADO and AFTER SHAVE). I would have been more forgiving if there could have been 2 or 3 ten-letter words side by side in each corner, but that's asking a lot of a Tuesday puzzle.

Anyway, my timing was slowish, but I still enjoyed the puzzle. Theme was okay by me and very easy to figure out. Looking forward to a nice, crunchy Wednesday puzzle.

David 7:34 AM  

Kind of blah puzzle - a kind of bad omen for how the day will go, EAGER BEAVER and the rest of the theme to the contrary notwithstanding.

I do wish I could remember how to spell ISAO, though.

Ambrose 8:17 AM  

HARANGUE, n. A speech by an opponent, who is known
as an harrangue-outang.

treedweller 8:19 AM  

I was slow on this one--can't say why. I do remember trying NASA for NTSB and SUV for ATV. Anyway, I got through it, and that's about all I have to say about the puzzle.

Someone (mexgirl?) help me out with my Spanish. I know the ending changes for a man v. a woman in words that refer to people, but I thought gender in animals was purely grammatical. Thus an oso is an oso is an oso. Babel fish suggests I am wrong about OSA, but offers no translation for "perra" (it being my attempt to carry the principle to "perro," dog). But it does like "gata" as "cat" (presumably female, as "gato" is the more common translation). What am I missing?

treedweller 8:20 AM  

Oh, I meant to add, the ents were always my favorite Tolkien creatures (probably to nobody's surprise). I like to think they eventually found their misses.

joho 8:24 AM  

My art teacher in middle school was Mr. Beaver and he dated our history teacher, Miss Wood. Now that's a couple who were meant to be together.

I did this late last night and found it to be easy and like @Greene am looking forward to a meaty Wednesday.

Here's hoping ....

Joe 8:33 AM  

I could not stop misreading the clue to 29D. Which left me very confused. I couldn't imagine what item one might find in a medicine man's chest. AFTERSHAVE? Well, ok. If you say so.

nanpilla 9:02 AM  

I was looking for a LOO in BEQ's "Oh, the places you'll go" crossword last week (Dec. 11th), and here it is in a "places to go..." themed puzzle. Like Rex, after filling in the first two theme entries, I just went ahead and filled in the other two. That makes for a quick solve. I liked Brendan's better.

ArtLvr 9:28 AM  

@ nanpilla -- LOL, LOO relating to PLACES TO GO...

Like Greene, I messed up for a bit in the center, having too quickly put wrong letters between N__B in 24D, NLRB rather than NTSB. (labor clashes vs airpane crashes?)

The theme was okay, though i'm not EAGER about all the remaining THINGS TO DO before Xmas. The fill had some bright spots with SIMP, DROIDS and ZANIES, plus gimmes ARNO, OSTIA and HONORE!


P.S. @ David -- I worked on ISAO Aoki a while ago: First letter of first name same as last letter of last name, and then last two letters of first name same as first two letters of last name. Still hard to get!

Perpetually Juvenile 9:38 AM  

@Joho It would have been a tad more cosmic if it were Mr. Wood & Ms Beaver.

Carisa 9:54 AM  

T STOP is where you catch public transportation in Boston.

Judith 9:57 AM  

@Joho & @Perpetually Juvenile

In my innocence I thought it worked better the other way, that a beaver would be attracted to wood!

Flew through this puzzle, so of course I liked it.

dk 10:01 AM  

@Juvie Perp, I wish I wrote that.

The TSTOPS fill had me as I dutifully filled in fSTOPS. Gotta move from film to digital one of these days.

I think of Saratoga as a RACE track not WAY, but I get it.

I am with @David as the spelling of ISAO along with the Rubik's cube guy's name always aludes.

The new (for me) cluing of ELYS was cute and MARINA was my girlfriend in college. So, while this was not the best of puzzles it is not the worst.

** (2 Stars)

Off to my new favorite place, the Public Library. I am pulling together a photo exhibit of patent illustrations (drawings). Our library (Mpls) has a large collection of patents and unique search tool that allows one to focus (no pun intended) on the images. There is a patent on Cooties (as in the game), robot toys, Hula Hoops etc. all with illustrations. My exhibit may be, in part, an homage to my idol and acquaintance Larry Sultan who passed away last week.

Doug 10:03 AM  

Could not get TSTOP until I got the theme. The hint was the "movie camera" rather than "camera" clue. I knew it had to be something STOP. The puzzle was kind of blah, however.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:04 AM  

@Ambrose -

I would love to read more of your observations, like these for instance:

History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
Mad, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence.
Marriage, n: the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.
Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
Bride: A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.
Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.
Conservative, n: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.
Academe, n.: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught.
Success is the one unpardonable sin against our fellows.
Inventor: A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.
Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.
Day, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.
Pray: To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

PlantieBea 10:22 AM  

@ Bob K: Thanks much for the observations by Ambrose which added a bit of spice to this otherwise just okay puzzle.

@Rex: Some neighbors have a basengi; it's an awesome, interesting, and intelligent dog which does not bark, but kind of "speaks".

Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

Is this another debut puzzle? I don't recognize the name.
Easy but sort of clunky.
Rex's write-up and the following discussion is much more interesting than the puzzle itself.
Never heard of simp. Short for simpleton I guess. Whatever.
I think of trees as genderless. They pollinate each other and bear seeds, right treedweller? I don't know the answer to the Spanish gender question either but now I would like to find out.

OldCarFudd 10:42 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle

Right on! There's no such thing as too much Ambrose Bierce.

About 60 years ago, when I was just starting to learn about photography, one (movie?) camera was advertised referring to its T-stops. I believe the explanation then was that T-stops controlled the actual transmission of light through the lens, after accounting for whatever light didn't make it through because of lack of total lens clarity, mechanical obstruction, whatever. F-stops are simply the ratio of the focal length of the lens divided by the hole in the middle. If there were no mechanical losses, f-stops and T-stops would be the same. Why anyone cared, I don't know; the differences are smaller than the typical error a photographer would make in measuring the light and adjusting his camera. I guess it's possible that commercial movie makers, cursed with very finicky color films of the day and blessed with unlimited gadgets and flunkies to measure light, would have wanted this extra bit of control. I never saw T-stops referred to again.

I thought it was a reasonable Tuesday puzzle.

PlantieBea 10:43 AM  

@TwoPonies: Not treedweller, but wanted to say that trees can have gender. Dioecious tree families include holly, cedar, and ash.

Ruth 10:48 AM  

Wha--? @Greene? No mention of
Bye Bye Birdie?

Ulrich 10:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben Hassenger 10:50 AM  

I didn't get much enjoyment out of today's puzzle. I agree that Eager Beaver didn't seem to fit with the other three theme entries, not to mention having to see Mr. West's name... College Dropout was solid, but he's been releasing pure trash ever since. 808s and Heartbreaks was at least a step toward something different, but his tone and verses have gotten weaker, his guest spots are basically pulled out of his rear, etc etc.

Ulrich 10:51 AM  

Ostia and Otto I were in puzzles recently, and I do not see how they could be more obscure than that Japanese golfer--I consider all of these xwordese by now, i.e. gimmes. I do share Rex's misgivings about the mismatch between "eager beaver" and what s/he is supposed to do as per the other theme answers. Nevertheless, I flew through the puzzle and was not unamused (double-negative police: get out your tasers!)

@Bob K.: Thx

@joho: priceless

lit.doc 10:51 AM  

Rex is certainly right about EAGER BEAVER being a stretch, but at my end of the solver spectrum it was close enough to be utile (hate that word). As soon as I had most of the crosses for PLACES TO GO, the rest of it as well as the other two theme answers fell onto the page.

Only SPEEDO bump was when I found I couldn't F my STOP. Interpret that as you will.

And it's speedWAY and raceTRACK, period. So there.

Only "Huh?!" was BAM. I don't cook, so had never heard of Emeril. Good thing I didn't even see it till it was crossed in.

A very comfortable solving experience for me, which I needed badly after yesterday's thrashing by BEQ.

mccoll 10:56 AM  

The theme allowed me to get the last three answers instantly. Said he, filled with overweening pride.
This was a typical Tuesday for me. A smooth fill.
One could quibble a bit with the clue for 5A. Typically the conversion is from analog to digital in modern TVs. An analog(continous) sight or sound is converted to a digital("0" or "1") signal for transmission. Of course, the digital signal is changed back to analog in the case of the audio portion so one can hear it. The picture on the screen is still digital(pixels), but they are so small that we don't notice them.
Thanks Ambrose. Those are some of my favourites from the Devil's Dictionary.

lit.doc 10:58 AM  

@ Ulrich, your locution was litotes, not a double negative. You deserve an English geek prize, not a ticket.

mccoll 10:59 AM  

OOPs! Thanks Ambrose and Bob Kefuffle.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

I would like to see LAPPS clued as "Northern Scandinavians (derogatorily)" or something similar that acknowledges that this is a pejorative term refering to the Sami people.

Ulrich 11:04 AM  

@lit.doc: Ouch--thx. I'd take the ticket over the geek prize anytime, though!

retired_chemist 11:06 AM  


Hand up for DODO @ 1A. Also for T STOPS being a mystery. Decided it must be right because THINGS FODO is nonsense.

I am apparently insufficiently offended by the theme. I saw the EAGER BEAVER more or less as a white rabbit type (I'M LATE...) and saying the theme answers breathlessly. So I was OK with it.

My instinct is that OSOS covers both genders. Bur someone authoritative please tell us.

Bob K deserves our thanks. One can never have too much Ambrose Bierce.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 11:11 AM  

Mmmm ... Sparks!

retired_chemist 11:13 AM  

@ mccoll - I read the"now" in the 5A clue to refer to the fact that ALL transmissions now must be digital (unless the feds have caved yet again), so those who still have analog sets (and presumably also still use typewriters and hi-fis) need D-> A conversion.

foodie 11:14 AM  

learn something everyday... I guess SUMP does not mean lamebrain.

foodie the SIMP

joho 11:15 AM  

@Perpetually Juvenile ... OMG, that never occured to me! LOL.

@dk ... I thought you DID write it.

@Ulrich ... I think I inadvertently sparked the quote of the day!

C B DeM 11:17 AM  

T Stops are (were) important in film-making. Film cameras, at least in my day, had three lenses of different focal lengths mounted on a turret so that one could switch between them readily in the course of one shoot. It was imperative that they be be calibrated to a common standard (the T Stop) so that one could switch between them in a scenen and not have it appear that the scene was lit differently. If one went simply by fstops, there would be subtle differences in exposure, by using TSTOPS the exposure is identical among the three lenses.

slypett 11:19 AM  

Yonkers Raceway was a venue for trotters in Westchester County, NY. Maybe still is.

And raceway is channel used to conceal external wiring, usually indoors. Why is it called that? How would I know?

CoolPapaD 11:32 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - those quotes are terrific. Thanks so much for those. A few months ago, someone on this blog suggested I read (and watch the youtube video of) An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge, which was wonderful. My New Year's resolution will be to read more Bierce (and Twain). I learn more from this blog than I ever did in high school!

Overall, liked the puzzle - cute theme.

OldCarFudd 11:44 AM  

@C B deM

Thank you! I'd forgotten about turret cameras, since zoom lenses seem to have become universal. You explained why anyone would care about f vs. T

Chorister 11:45 AM  

I thought MISLADE was pretty funny wordplay until I realized it was wrong.

Still no one speaking up on the Spanish gender of animals question? OK, I'm no native speaker or even fluent but here's what I think I know about it: 1) animals have gender and a gender specific article/noun. 2) My Spanish - English dictionary translates OSA as she-bear.

Blackhawk 11:48 AM  

Amusing puzzle, not a bad theme. Totally adequate for Tuesday fare. Contrary to host, I thought 'eager beaver' was a reasonable description of a busy person with an ambitious agenda.

Plus anytime you can work Ambrose Bierce into a puzzle, you're good to go. His definition of erudition, which is appropriate for Xwords: "Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull."

archaeoprof 11:50 AM  

OSTIA is famous for its black & white mosaics, not its frescoes.

The Corgi of Mystery 11:51 AM  

I feel like this is the third time in very recent memory I've gone with ROBOTS when the answer was DROIDS.

@Bob: gotta love Ambrose Bierce.

Melissa B 12:00 PM  

had PAPIST for PURIST 76A 'one unlikely to compromise' LOL!! :)

also knew AFICIONADO but couldnt spell it.

jeff in chicago 12:02 PM  

FND Tuesday puzzle. Liked the theme, though I barely saw it as I worked the puzzle. I generally work off letters I already have, zigzagging around the grid. Today I decided to work the Downs first. Answers just kept sliding into place. (Except for ISAO - I know he's a puzzle regular, but I just cannot get his name to stick in my brain. Really liked two long Downs. Fresh words, to me.

Had FSTOPS for TSTOPS, which I had never heard before, but caught it when checking crosses, which is when I finally saw the theme. On to Wednesday!

lit.doc 12:07 PM  

@ CoolPapa - thinking of Bierce and Twain in the same breath (whilst mixing metaphors) brings to mind Twain's posthumous "Letters from the Earth". Collection of bitingly humorous pieces. Five-star recommendation.

alice in SF 12:17 PM  

I was breezing through today's puzzle like a Monday one until I met my Waterloo. Having convinced myself that a flamingo had to stand on one leg somehow (9D) and a moral booster (21A) had to be a lift which left me with T man or G man for a tax investigator (34A) so what the heck was the flamingo standing on then? Duh, it was a foot which left me with no leg to stand on.

SethG 12:31 PM  

Ostia is famous for its frescoes, too.

I started with DOLT. EAGER BEAVER, REGAL BEAGLE, too bad there's no FETAL BEETAL or we'd have an awesome theme. Crossing DOG/GOD is cute, OPIE/SPEEDO less so.

Van55 12:43 PM  

I found this to be a mostly humdrum puzzle way too full of crossword puzzle cliches for my taste: ADZ, ESSO, ION, CII, IDE, NEE, NAE, ARAL, ARNO.

I also hated MISSENT.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

A decent Tuesday, I thought.

@Ruth- It reminded me of Birdie too, 'cause I gotta lot of living to do.

Unknown 12:48 PM  

It surprised me that neither you nor the crossword fiend commented on the fact that PEOPLE TO SEE crossed I SEE. Liked the shout out to HONORE but the three letter stacks were atrocious.

treedweller 1:00 PM  

@Two Ponies
As PlantieBea said, some trees are dioecious (either pollen-producing flowers or flowers with ovaries that make seeds on a given tree) and some are monoecious (both types of flowers on the same tree). I'm not quite sure that means the trees themselves have gender. But ents are not technically trees--they are ents. I will let you go back to Rex's link to learn more about them so as to avoid too much Tolkien geekiness.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

I have English Leather in my medicine chest.

Wanted NASA also, that messed me up for awhile. Once I got 27A I quickly go the other 2 theme acrosses. Got alittle hung up at 11D as I thought AFICIONADO may have 2 "F"s.

Fun Tuesday... thanks Steve.

mac 1:04 PM  

Adequate Tuesday. Hand up for drones.

When I come upon a stack of 3s I make myself do the longer words first, just another way to make the early week puzzle more interesting.

Thanks for the Bierce quotes, and the Mark Twain recommendation! More stuff to add to my "to read" pile....

edith b 1:13 PM  

This has been an awful winter so far for me as I have been sick since Halloween and have missed several puzzles. Having to take care of my husband - who is also sick - is also draining to which women around the world can attest.

I am always amazed at how many 4-letter synonyms there are for knucklehead. Once I had the first theme answer in place, I was able to fill in the rest of them - a sure fire sign that one is doing too many crossword puzzles - even when EAGEBEAVER seemed disconnected from the others.

I didn't know TSTOPS either but I never saw it in the first place but what else could it be?

Also didn't like the awakwardness of the grid construction - something I learned from this blog. Thanks, Rex.

Shamik 1:20 PM  

Totally agree with Rex on MISSENT. Just plain cringe-ingly ugly. Though I did like to see HONORE and AFICIONADO.

Unlike most, however, I believe that the three phrases do go with EAGERBEAVER. Think of the times you've heard someone saying, "I've got places to go...yada yada yada." Then someone replies sarcastically, "Well, aren't you the eager beaver today."

Offtopic: If anyone has any hints/tips on the Droid Eris, catch me on facebook as Shari Guida. My old phone got run over when i lost it in a rest area.

CoolPapaD 1:40 PM  

@lit.doc - Thanks for the suggestion - will check it out today.

@tptsteve- safe and wonderful journey

Two Ponies 1:44 PM  

@ treedweller and Plantie Bea, Thanks, I can always count on the panel of experts here for new info.
No need for more on Ents, I ate LOTR like a chocolate sundae back in the day. I thought they were very well done in the movie.

Stan 2:04 PM  

Other than the endless threes, I thought the fill was punchy.
Liked EAGER BEAVER, the two AF answers, Ambrose & Honore, zany droids, ANALOG MARINA and PURIST SPEEDO.

Martin 2:19 PM  


True cedars (like deodars and atlantic cedars) are monoecious. You may be talking about junipers called cedars. The eastern red cedar is a juniper and is dioecious. This is why Latin is good.

The ginkgo is a tree you'd better sex accurately. The males make lovely shade trees. The females look the same until they "fruit." Their seeds are covered in a foul-smelling, fleshy, cheesy sarcotesta that can make for a very unpleasant autumn around the yard. When I was a kid a friend had a huge female gingko and we used to have vomit-ball fights every fall. I have three nice males.

On the other hand, a gingko-nut farmer had better plant females. I had some ginnan in homemade tempura last night. Very tasty.


If not gender, what?

PlantieBea 2:40 PM  

@Martin: Yes, I was thinking of the dioecious Eastern Red Cedar, or as most here call it, the Southern Red Cedar (Juniperus Virginiana Var. Silicicola), a common large tree in the South. It is not a true cedar, but rather, a juniper. Thank you for the correction.

fergus 2:59 PM  

The female ginko two houses down is just about through with its foulness this year. Comparatively unstinky since it was mostly cold and dry during the fragrant period.

Clark 3:02 PM  

In German, 'cat' is 'die Katze', which is feminine. If you are just talking about a cat without being particularly interested in its gender, that's the word you use. But if the male or femaleness of the beast is relevant, then you can switch to the pair of words: die Katze (feminine cat) and der Kater (male cat). We do something like that when we use 'cow' to refer to the species, but 'cow' and 'bull' to distinguish the sexes.

Maybe Spanish is like that? (And if I have mischaracterized the German language, perhaps @Ulrich will speak up. Mark Twain is also welcome to speak on that subject.)

treedweller 3:05 PM  

I suppose gender just feels like too much anthropomorphism to me. Yes, I realize that's a little odd considering my self-professed love of ents. Certainly it is common to hear people talk about both the flowers and the trees as male/female; I really don't have a foot to stand on.

sanfranman59 3:22 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)

Tue 9:22, 8:39, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:52, 4:26, 1.10, 81%, Challenging

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

Ostia is also where Alitalia Air dumps you in a fleabag hotel w/dogfood dinner when they are having one of their constant strikes...grrr...ask me how I know!

Stan 3:53 PM  


Funny comment. See how all human experience is (sooner or later) helpful with crosswords?

Glitch 4:10 PM  


You may be on to something. Growing up nearby, the trotters ran at the "Saratoga Raceway", in August the thoroughbreds at "The Track", a different part of the complex.

And Yonkers Raceway, trotters only, is still there.

F (focal) vrs T (transmission) stops has probably been covered enough for the purposes here (like quarks, cosines, GPS) but,

@OldCarFudd I'm curious if "Putting a Spiratone 2x extender on an f/4.0 lens gives you a T/8.0" rings any bells. We seem to be crossing "knowledge paths" a lot (starting back when you "de-lurked" on red Fords).

Send me an email (see my profile) if you're curious as to what else we may have in common.


Ulrich 4:25 PM  

@Clark: Grammatical gender in German is arbitrary--e.g. a generic horse or pig is even neuter (das Pferd, Schwein)--whereas English has natural gender. This is a cause of enormous difficulties for English speakers learning German and gives rise to endless bogus issues (e.g. for Mark Twain)--see this thread where I go into more detail, especially into the cause of the confusion (inept terminology coined by grammarians centuries ago)

capesunset105 4:36 PM  

Any puzzle with Kanye West in it is my most favorite puzzle of all time. the man is a GENIUS!!! (3 of his 4 albums nominated for Album of the Year, not RAP Album of the Year, just general overall Album of the Year). Amazing, inspiring music if you can open your minds enough to listen to it. And Rex was good enough to include a pic in his write-up, it doesn't get much better than that.

This was definitely more easy than medium for me.

android carla michaels 5:26 PM  

my first answer was AFICIONADO which I didn't know how to spell...
after starting with 2 FFs and A where the first O was, I gave up and started with the rear, knowing NADO at least!
Then hit that stack of threes and thought "uh oh" as each was worse than the last...

But as I went thru the puzzle it gained momentum and I liked it more and more as I went on, thinking PLACESTOGO, PEOPLETOSEE, etc was enormously fun.
Hadn't thought about EAGERBEAVER not being appropriate, tho I see your point.

I think it comes again from four being the new three...
PLACESTOGO, PEOPLETOSEE, THINGSTODO used to be enough for a puzzle (a Monday anyway) but now you need a kicker/fourth and sometimes the amount of letters dictate if it's a hit or miss...
So it seems like WHITERABBIT would have fit exactly where EAGERBEAVER went, but EAGERBEAVER seems a lot more fun...
And without it, we wouldn't have had Joho's great comment!

(Speaking of perpetually juvenile, I am surprised, dk, that you didn't comment on @lit.doc's SPEEDO bump!) ;)

I can't find who made the comment about the medicine man's cabinet, but that is really funny! I got excited trying to think of what would be in a medicine cabinet for a man, not a woman...
just like I love clues like the one for POETIC (Kind of justice or license)
Is there a word for that? The clues that make you find the common link between two seemingly disparate things? It's like a mini-final round in $10,000 Pyramind (which is probably up to 1 Million dollars)
You can just see Tony Randall going
"A license. A type of justice..."
and the contestant screaming "Things that are poetic!!???!!!"

yes, thanks for the Ambrose Bierce, whom I've never read...till now! You can tie in his definition of a day (or time spent reading this blog????!) by tying (tieing?) it in with today's crossword:

Day: n. a period of 24 hours mostly mis(p)sent

How about this for ISAO, AOKI...
That last two letters of first name is repeated as first two letters of last...
and AO is Japanese for "blue"
so AOKI is blue tree, tho I don't know if it's a female tree or not!

(Hey! Rex printed a picture of OAKY, psychic! Plus it's practically an anagram of AOKI)

Now I'm going to dig up the clip of me being the last to switch from analog to digital...

analog carla michaels 5:36 PM  

Found it!
go to http://cbs5.com/video/
it's on June 13, 2009, 6:46pm and at 9:02 am you can hear me scream when the ANALOG/digital switch happens and I'm dragged into this century!

Jeffrey 5:45 PM  

And this EAGER BEAVER is back in the present in NYT PuzzleLand.
Cool Tuesday theme.

retired_chemist 6:05 PM  

Here is the direct link to Andrea's scream about the A/D switch.

crossword puzzle man 6:46 PM  

Often times an easy to solve puzzle can perk up your self esteem and give you a brighter outlook for your day.

Don't pass up those easier puzzles for it's those puzzles that promote the more difficult.

Good Day!

PIX 7:12 PM  

@Ulrich...your comment "Grammatical gender in German is arbitrary...This is a cause of enormous difficulties for English speakers learning German" brings back terrible memories. First day of High School, the German teacher tried to explain this to me. I decided then and there that i hated the German language and was miserable for the next 4 years. Froliche Weinacthen mein Freund, or something like that.

Stan 7:21 PM  

@Andrea -- Loved the film clips, etc. We have one cat (Spooky) about Koko's size and age, though he would never put up with interviewers. Mainly Russian Blue, he is talkative (repetitive questioning chirps), but the Siamese I have known do full-blown monologues. Very appropriate I think.

joho 8:22 PM  

Here's a way to remember Isao Aoki:

First name starts with an "I."
Last name ends with an "I."

First name = SAO (Paulo)
Last name = AOK

Put it all together and you have
Isao Aoki!

3 and out. Good evening everybody.

Squeek 8:23 PM  

First, welcome to crossword puzzle man. Grab a seat.
@ Andrea, How do you manage to get so much TV air time????
Darlin', if I lived across the hall you would not have had your moment of angst. I would have had you wired up in plenty of time.
@ joho, How DID those teachers endure? Kids at my school ( including me) would have eaten them alive!
Bart Simpson would have had a field day.

mac 8:42 PM  

@Crosscan: glad you are back! We missed you, and were worried you were lost in the small world....

Clark 10:38 PM  

@Ulrich -- The point I was interested in was that German sometimes has a word that is used for a species of animal, but then has another word that can be called into play when necessary to distinguish male from female. (I didn’t even notice that the genders of the example I chose matched natural gender.) We do something like this in English when we use the word cat to describe both male and female cats but, if we want to distinguish the sexes, we might bring in the word tomcat. It seemed to me that something like that might be going on with the words oso and osa, but I don’t know Spanish so I don’t know.

sanfranman59 10:47 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 6:38, 6:56, 0.96, 40%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:39, 8:39, 1.12, 80%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:28, 3:41, 0.94, 39%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:51, 4:26, 1.09, 81%, Challenging

Sfingi 10:57 PM  

Theme was solid. No Googling.
Had not trouble with anything, even sports, except one Nattick in the middle - USNA crosses OSAS. Was looking for an "R" in bear (ursa, orsa, etc.).

But I've seen too many droids this week.EEK.

Those special Shriners (Masonic) who dress like clowns and are in parades with a silly car are called ZANIES.

Saratoga has both a racetrack and a raceway. The latter is for buggies(trotters, pacers, harness).

@Treedweller, @Joe, @Juv - lots of good laughs, today.
@Joho - smart; love mnemonics.
@Archeoprof - Black & white tiles. Ya mean like the NY Subway?
@Martin - wow!

@Ulrich - A little girl is neuter, but it is following a rule, and that is that words with diminutives are neuter. And all plurals are "kind of" feminine in their declination. But something beautiful happens in German poetry, and I can't describe it.
Also, double negatives are fine if you mean what you say.

Which leads me to Italian - all animals can be male (o,i) or female (a,e). Some have even special names like gallo/gallina. But they don't count and cancel double negs, since they aren't very mathy. Can't keep their attention on things like war, either.

I donated all my novels, but hung onto short stories because they're hard to find in libraries. Balzac and Bierce are two of my faves.

Does ESSO deliver PEAT fuel? Remember the Tolland man found in 1950 in a peat bog? He was thought to be a recent murder victim, but the crime took place 400BC.


dk 11:26 PM  

@cb dem, ready for my close-up. Thanks for the info on TSTOPS

@andrea, it embarrasses me to think of you and speedo bumps. And, for all of you boys who spent your high school years on swim teams... you know what I'm talkin about.

good night all.

d(still alive)k

andrea simp michaels 5:09 AM  

if you lived across the hall from me, you'd probably have collaborated on a puzzle with me by now...
My BELIEVEITORNOT pooka and I have just gotten our second accepted (two for two but not to be published till fall 2010!) and the boy downstairs and I just got our first rejection (from the NYT, but there is hope elsewhere)
Then again if I had the digital tv hooked up I'd prob get you to help with DSL, cable, TiVo, YouTube uploading, link-embedding (Thanks @r_c), etc. and never write again, as I'd spend all my time online/channelsurfing.
So really, my Ludditenessity is keeping the other juices flowing.

Singer 3:01 PM  

This was an okay puzzle. It felt right for Tuesday. There was some crappy fill, like IDE, CII, ENS. But there also was some pretty good stuff like LOO, MIA, ATV and BTU.

I found it to be relatively easy, even for a Tuesday, which doesn't jibe with sanfranman's statistical analysis. I did have two writeovers - ONline for ONSITE and Letts for LAPPS.

Unknown 6:26 PM  

Zanies = fail.

As a Duck fan, I feel like the very presence of a BEAVER ruined this puzzle.

Anonymous 10:13 PM  

The clue for 5A should have read "Kind of TV now converted TO digital" not FROM.

Anonymous 2:52 AM  

Wow! Who knew that growing up in Sullivan County many years ago would help when doing the syndicated puzzle (many weeks later than you all) in Spokane, WA.

Monticello Raceway in a NYT Crossword Puzzle? (18 down)

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