Joe * weed herbal remedy / FRI 1-15-10 / Japanese code word meaning tiger / Singer of Leoncavallo aria Vesti la giubba

Friday, January 15, 2010

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: OROGENY (7D: Process of mountain building)

Orogeny (Greek for "mountain generating") refers to natural mountain building, and may be studied as (a) a tectonic structural event, (b) as a geographical event, and (c) a chronological event. Orogenic events (a) cause distinctive structural phenomena and related tectonic activity, (b) affect certain regions of rocks and crust, and (c) happen within a specific period of time. // Orogenic events occur solely as a result of plate tectonics; the problems which were investigated and resolved by the study of orogenesis contributed greatly to the theory of plate tectonics, coupled with study of flora and fauna, geography and mid ocean ridges in the 1950s and 1960s. (wikipedia)


A late-week toughie that felt slightly shaky and awfully dull. What were the seed answers here? I'm trying to imagine someone's starting this puzzle and thinking "man, I've really got to put this answer in there?" "OK I'LL BITE" (50A: "You're probably going to get me but go ahead") and BAT CLEANUP (43A: Be fourth in an order) are the only longish answers worth a hoot. Meanwhile, DIPS BACK is an abomination (11D: Returns, as from a high level). I assume this is supposed to refer to the Dow Jones or the price of gold or something, but ugh. Clunky. Really hard to imagine the phrase not followed by "below" or "into" — doesn't stand well on its own at all. The Downs in the SW are a bit better, but still rickety. NEW TAKE (33D: Fresh angle) and KNEAD IN (34D: Add gradually, as to dough) ... they pass, but they're just so lackluster. That's the word I want for 90+% of this puzzle. Very little that's terrible, but lots that feels marginal and make-shift, and almost nothing that sizzles. IN ARMOR (2D: Well-suited?)? Really? That's about as fresh as IN CLOTHES.

Had some trouble in the NW as I didn't know what "protists" were (19A: Microscopic protists). Got the GREEN part and then really *wanted* ALGAE, but couldn't get anything to confirm it. Also made a rookie mistake — wrote in ORS at 27A: Organ repair sites, for short (ERs), and then struggled to think of any school that began with "C" and ended with "O" (1D: School in Patriot League => COLGATE). Also didn't know TORA (24A: Japanese code word meaning "tiger"). First major sticking point was trying to move from NW to NE. Couldn't get the top halves of Any of those Downs, and so had to go the other direction, down counterclockwise to the SW and around from there. NE was the last to fall, and I eventually got it by guessing LAKES (9D: Great ___) (not the most creative clue), and then getting ROCK OPERA off the -KO- (18A: The Who's "Quadrophenia," e.g.). RATTLE for NETTLE (29D: Irk) caused a snag as I tried (near the end) to sneak into the NE from the bottom. Despite having seen it before, blanked on CANIO (high-end opera crosswordese) (26A: Singer of the Leoncavallo aria "Vesti la giubba"). Finally, I would call a Natick Principle violation on the PENHOLD (36D: Certain table tennis grip) / PYE (36A: Joe-___ weed (herbal remedy)) crossing, except I guessed correctly, so there must have been something inferrable about it ("you hold the paddle like a PEN ... maybe?"). Pretty bad.


  • 16A: Constellation once called the Dragon's Wing (Ursa Minor) — when was that? Before Latin? Wikipedia claims: "In earliest times, Ursa Minor was named the Dragon's wing, and was considered a part of Draco. The dragon's wing as an asterism is now long forgotten." "Long forgotten" by everyone except whoever clued this, I guess.
  • 6D: Bicep builders' accessories (curl bars) — aargh. Some kind of BARS. Once I went with ALGAE, I was able to guess CURL.
  • 10D: Post-punk genre (emo) — for a while, the only answer I had in the NE.
  • 14D: Stereotypical college drinker (frat boy) — normally, I think of "stereotypes" as at least slight inaccurate ...
  • 31D: Food item once used as currency in Mongolia (black tea) — if nothing else, I get this interesting tidbit of trivia to take away today.

I was really hoping TKO would be in the puzzle today — a sentence you will likely never hear me utter again — so that I could play "Love TKO" as a tribute to the late, great Teddy Pendergrass, who died yesterday. But no TKO, so I'll play this, for no other reason than that it just makes me so damned happy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


imsdave 8:07 AM  

I was pleased to see the rating on this puzzle - that's what it felt like (of course that means 25 minutes for me, probably 9 for our host).

BLEND for KNEAD, MEAT for SALT, RAT for BOY were all sticky points. And it never helps to misread revel as reveal.

I have a big circle on the 36 square with an arrow drawn outside the puzzle and the work NATICK! I did guess correctly, but had the disturbing image of a twohanded backhand for a minute (TENHOLD).

Rex Parker 8:11 AM  


At least you didn't consider ZENHOLD, which I believe involves somehow playing without ever touching the paddle.

slashdotcom 8:13 AM  

Hand up for TENHOLD/TYE crossing. I figured a TENHOLD would be the position a really badass table tennis player assumed right before s/he performed whatever would be the table tennis equivalent of a volleyball spike, or a basketball slam dunk, or, you know, something.

I was wrong, but I can live with that.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

I spent the longest time misreading the clue for 36D as certain table tennis grp (for group). It was a "doh" moment when I saw grip.

joho 8:20 AM  

Definitely a Natick as I guessed wrong with tENHOLD thinking ten fingers are involved. Plus @Rex and @dave you both had to guess, you didn't know either answer. Natick!

You'll see skaters ON ICE at an ICE RINK.

Too many two and three word answers that seemed forced. DIPS BACK, END IT, KNEADS IT, COOLED OFF, LESS SALT, IN ARM, BAT CLEANUP and FOR A BIT, I LIKED THAT, YOU AND I, HAD A BLAST, WENT TO SEA and OK I'LL BITE. None of these phrases has any zing.

Looking forward to Saturday.

joho 8:21 AM  

Sorry, that's IN ARMOR.

CoolPapaD 8:48 AM  

What a difference a week makes – I LOVE being able to finish a Friday, especially one as entertaining as this – I HAD A BLAST. The multiple medically-related answers (ECZEMA, AMNIOS, AMA MEMBERS) made some rather difficult areas fall in nicely for this non-member.

I thought the P at square 36 was the best letter, by far, during my run through the alphabet.

Putting ETTE for 28D held me up for a while in the center.

I loved ESP TEST. Though not a FRAT BOY, I was a psychology major, and sat through many classes in Zener Auditorium at Duke, which had been a hotbed for parapsychological research in the 1930s though 1950s.

As per yesterday’s discussion, is BLACK TEA the same as TEXAS GOLD?

I had never heard of Mario Lanza until seeing Peter Jackson’s wonderful film, “Heavenly Creatures.” His music is heavily featured throughout . If you haven’t seen this movie, which is based on a true story, I consider it a must-rent! It is visually and aurally stunning.

Howard B 8:54 AM  

Only reason at all I got the PYE crossing was that I had bumped into it in at least a few earlier puzzles.
Pretty interesting stuff in this crossword, though - you never quite knew what would be lurking around the next corner.

PYE is one of those bizarro letter combinations that pretty much can only be clued (fairly) in one way - as Joe-___ weed. One good thing is that the next time you encounter it, you definitively know the answer. Learn it and you have an immediate, unquestionable toehold in that puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:03 AM  

Definitely a medium, but I liked it.

Joe PYE was a gimme for me, for who-knows-what reason. Don't believe I've ever heard the word "protist" before.

Just one write-over: for 28 D, Suffix after kitchen, had ETTE before WARE.

OBDarryl 9:10 AM  

Well, once you become convinced that Zener Cards are used in a PAPTEST, you're pretty much screwed in the SE.

Wade 9:15 AM  

I backed into PEN HOLD because I first guessed PAN HOLD (isn't there a frying-pan grip in tennis?) Anyhow, Teddy Pendergrass isn't from Texas, but Barry White is.

David 9:22 AM  

For the longest time I wanted to spell BEAK "beck" - maybe Jeff Beck was on my mind from my early rock days. (I heard Rod Stewart for the first time on Jeff Beck's early album.)

PYE came easily after my "Aha" moment of YOU AND I. REOS were always in the running for Royales; how could we ignore REOS this week? (Olds was a second choice, but how do you make a plural of Olds - Oldses?)

Geez, Rex, TORA should have come from the often clued movie....

As usual though, the whole effort started with a big blank, until I came to CALAIS and CRAT. The rest flowed with logic and viseral knowledge - and luck...

Good puzzle.

treedweller 9:27 AM  

A new milestone in my puzzling career: I not only finished a Friday, but it was one Rex did not rate "Easy." As I have said before, I am not trying to brag, as I know it's largely a fluke that brought my knowledge set in line with what was required.

I was surprised to see no complaints about the ONELINE/USONE overlap. By the time I saw it, there was no doubt about either answer, but take out one or two crosses and I'd have been fuming.

NW was last to fall for me, despite my knowing what protists are. After the other 3/4 was in place, I though I'd have to give up, but then OROGENY came out of I-don't-know-where and the rest snowballed from there.

Some perverse part of me wished BATCLEANUP had been clued as a chore at the zoo.

PlantieBea 9:28 AM  

Take two. Blogger just ate my entry...

@Rex: Thanks for the Pendergrass.

Two thorny spots for me. Joe Pye weed (common tall purple/pink summer blooming wildflower) was a gimme, but I assumed the ROYALES were a sports team and entered RIOS/PIN HOLD at that crossing. And just when I thought I was so clever for figuring out BAT CLEANUP. Drat. The other entry I wavered over was the Deone/Lanzo or correct Deane/Lanza.

Smitty 9:31 AM  

Medium Friday for me - until I got to the PYE/PENHOLD/BATCLEANUP intersection which ended up being a carwreck.

Smitty 9:33 AM  

@Rex ZENHOLD is a wayyy better answer

fikink 9:44 AM  

Hand up for tenhold,
wish I'd thought of Zenhold
@wade, I can understand why Barry White came to mind.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Howard B - I thought about it for 30 seconds and went with TYE. But I could have easily gotten PYE had the clue been: Early Kinks label.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

I liked the grid, and while RP didn't like the fill, I had no problem with it. I, too, was thinking Zenhold for 36D, given the Far East association with ping pong, but for whatever reason, I put a P there. I'm sure Will, in his capacity as table tennis maven, was behind that clue.

My downfall was Dirt for WIRY, which led to a non-word for the kitchen suffix.

But I'm content to finish a Friday grid, even with a mistake or two, since I won't google to finish. It's mano a puzzle for me.

My only other comment is that I thought the clue for 46A was a bit misleading because it suggests a present tense phrase, not a past tense one.

Elaine 9:55 AM  

I am guessing PlantieBea and I will turn out to be the only two who got PYE because we know the plant! Had tons of this on our acres in Ohio, and I was careful to mow around the patches until the bloom was over. So pretty!

Mario Lanza was once hailed as the next Caruso. I had never judged any of his movies that seemed worthwhile, but will look for "Heavenly Creatures." Like Lawrence Tibbett, Lanza was spoiled by success and overusing his instrument; very sad.

I finished with one error: WIRE and OROGENE instead of WIRY/OROGENY. New word! Despite getting some tricky areas, no real feeling of accomplishment, I am sorry to say.

This did seem Medium to me, if only because, except for the NW, it did not fly by. Great DANES, GOES TO SEA...the usual missteps. Hated RIPS BACK, and EWES MILK??? Really? This should come to mind?
mutter, mutter, grouse, growl....

Elaine 9:56 AM  

Oh, and KitchenWARE-- that is a compound word, NOT a suffix!!

nanpilla 10:01 AM  

I loved to listen to Mario LANZA recordings at the little Victor Cafe in South Philly. The food is good, honest Italian food, but the singing waiters make it wonderful. They have the largest collection of recordings of Italian opera anywhere. The name comes from RCA Victor, across the river in Camden. It started as a gramophone shop, and budding singers graced the little stage back in the day. I understand they used this location to film parts of the latest Rocky movie. I haven't seen any Rocky movie since the first one (Hey, I lived in Philly in 1976), so I don't know how big a role it played.

When I can finish a Friday puzzle in less than 30 minutes, and Rex doesn't rate it EASY, that's a good day for me! Had eerie for ON ICE and ette for WARE, so that slowed me down for a while. The P in PENHOLD was the last to go in, and I just figured it meant you held the paddle like a pen, but it was just a lucky guess.

dk 10:16 AM  

What dk might drone on about if he had time.

@nanpilla, want to borrow my Student Prince LP.

I am the anti-rex on this one. The medical theme-ette and recalling Zener from days gone bye helped.

*** (3 Stars) It would have been four but a BLT on white is almost as bad as mustard not on the meat side of liverwurst on rye.


Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Your comment on teh BLT reminds me of the track on Vaughn Meader's "First Family" album, where the world leaders are gathered together and ordering lunch, and Nasser orders a hot pastrami on white bread with lettuce and mayo. Ben Gurion ("You can call me Ben")tells him to get it on rye with mustard and a pickle.

Unknown 10:45 AM  

But I liked this one! Aside from the initial insistence on kitchenette (I think Elaine's right, -ware is not a suffix!), and putting rock opera (the first gimme for me) in ursa minor's spot (I HATE when I do that), this one fell pretty well for me. The only answer I soundly objected to was in armor, what's up with that?

fikink 10:51 AM  

@tptsteve, Yes! I can hear Vaughn Meader as Kennedy saying,
"Uh, yes and uh, hold the Ma[y]o."

November 22, 1963 certainly put the kibosh on his career!

SethG 10:54 AM  

LIVE ALBUM was my first answer, and that crossed nicely with SKA. ROTORS, TAKE A BITE...

I know the penhold grip. Not that it was _called_ the PENHOLD grip, but I figured it out. The weed, whatever. Just when I'd memorized the old poet laureate...

And...CENSE? Seriously? Apparently, and one even censes with a censer.

I suppose I could link to dictionaries that list -ware as a suffix, but people will still argue it's wrong. Well, I'll save Martin a

Two Ponies 10:55 AM  

I thought the theme was "How many phrases can I put in one puzzle?"
I enjoyed this and carefully let my intuition guide me. Somehow it all fell into place in short order for a Friday.
It's always a bonus to learn some new things and this one gave me a lovely image of Laos (I adore elephants), the meaning of tora, and orogeny.
Wiry defines the coat of my Cairn terrier without a doubt.
Pulled pye out of the air somehow.
Can you smoke it?

JannieB 10:57 AM  

Even with an error at 36, I thought this was pretty easy. I only saw 36A and used Rye - never really looked at the downs in that quadrant. My bad.

Some nice longer fill but overall, just an average puzzle.

Dave in California 10:58 AM  

I didn't mind this as much as Rex--some weak clues, but no real stretches...My issue was mostly in the NE where I had INSHORT rather than FORABIT, and kept wanting to work ALBUM into the Quadrophenia clue, but it went pretty quickly. Oldsters remember the movie Tora Tora Tora, which helped with 24A.

OldCarFudd 11:01 AM  

I left the 36A square blank because I. Didn't. Have. A. Clue.

Other than that, I thought it was an interesting exercise. I would go roaring along thinking: "Gee, this is awfully easy for a Friday", and then fall flat on my face. I was always able to get back up, except for that &$#* Natick.

I didn't know orogeny, but had a hint knowing orographic lift from my days of soaring gliders. That's ridge lift or wave lift. When a stream of wind hits a mountain ridge, it has nowhere to go but up and over. This produces a narrow band of soarable air along the upwind side of the ridge. Under the right circumstances, it can produce a huge wave. A glider can reach quite astounding altitudes in wave. I believe the world altitude record is now over 50 thousand feet. I was never that skilled or that crazy; the highest I ever got was a bit over 18,000.

REO Royale was a gimme for me. The Royales were very upscale cars, built from 1931 to 1934. Of course, by then the depression was destroying car (and other) companies left and right; REO built its last cars in 1936, and made only trucks (quite successfully) for many years thereafter.

slypett 11:02 AM  

Elaine: I had PYE from knowing the flower, too!

Went down easily, with the only out-of-focus area in the SW, where, despite getting PYE and BATTINGCLEANUP, I ended up in trouble by having rtONE instead of USONE and being firmly convinced that the right name for 38D was PENcilgrip. RATSON cleared everything up.

Then, to see it rated M-C, when I was expecting EZ, just made my week!

lit.doc 11:33 AM  

Seeing “Medium-Challenging” first thing this a.m. was a great relief. Also a relief that there was not, yet again, a theme to which I was totally blind. Wow, what a work out. I think I should be earning frequent-flyer miles from google.

@Rex, thanks for sharing your detailed and well-informed umbrage. BTW, how is OR for ER a “rookie mistake”? I had same, since, so far as I know, if someone comes in with torn up organs, the ER ships them stat up to the OR where the surgeons actually repair them.

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways: SCARY before ON ICE, PLATES before INKERS, LIKED before I LOVED THAT, RAT before FRATBOY (@RP, yeah, not a stereotype), and ETTE before KITCHENWARE (@Elaine, me too re “suffix” abuse). And I knew that Royales were made by Bugatti, which was oh so helpful.

@Dave and @Rex, ZENHOLD is actually a most enlightened answer. As I learned from The Matrix, “There *is* no paddle”.

@treedweller, LOL. Don’t often get to sneak in guano jokes these days.

@PlantieBea, right after you finish your comments, block them with a mouse drag and hit Ctrl-C. Then, if the RUBBISH YOUR COMMENT button throws it into the bit bucket, you can go back to the blank Leave your comment box, hit Ctrl-V, and your comments will reappear.

And damn it, “OB’s” is NOT a possessive construction!

JMorgie 11:40 AM  

typical friday -- thought i was only going to get 5 clues out of the whole puzzle. 35 minutes later and voila.

never heard of Zener. except for Xener diodes -- and when was the last time you say xener in a xword? or diode, correctly clued for that matter?

and harking back to last weekend -- tankists [who are the users of the equipment] these days use peritelescopes -- not periscopes as clued. I spent 10 years designing and building them so dont argue!

jeff in chicago 11:44 AM  

I'm with treedweller: I finished it and it wasn't rated easy." (And the clock wasn't anywhere near running out!) Woo hoo!

OROGENY was new to me, and only appeared with the crosses. Will I remember it? Only time will tell. And that P at 36 was a total guess. (Considered R as RYE=plant=weed.) A few early guesses had to be replaced - ETTE, FRODO, ORS - but it all worked out in the end.

Van55 11:52 AM  

I liked this one as well. Sure I struggled with the PYE/PENHOLD cross as most did, but PENHOLD made a great deal more intuitive sense then anything else I considered.

The phrases were pretty cool, and there was a minimum of crappy fill, which I always admire.

I'd rate this one solidly medium for a Friday if not slightly on the easier side of medium.

babslesley 11:57 AM  

Almost got it all after a couple of hours. Some I needed to go back to my first instinct: "less salt," "slat," "bibb," "end it." SE corner was my big problem. Even after Rexing and filling it in, I kept looking at Youandi and thinking I've never heard of that. Is it a place or a person's name? Then, duh.

mac 11:58 AM  

I had exactly the same reasoning about the Rios and the pin-hold as PlantieBea , so that was my Natick. Looked up the weed, it's beautiful. Named after American Indian Joe Pye who claimed it cured typhus.

Otherwise my only write-over was for goofed off at 6A. I also think I remembered Silas Deane from this blog, thank you!

treedweller 12:01 PM  

I think ERS or ORS would be equally valid; I assume the rookie mistake Rex mentioned was in not seeing the other possibility.

And it's pretty much a given (major holidays excepted) that there is no theme Friday or Saturday.

edith b 12:02 PM  


I ran into Joe-Pye weed in a Ben Tausig puzzle a year or so ago and held onto it for just the reason you indicated.

Mario LANZA was the Andreas Bocelli of his generation and he brought Opera to the middle classes through the brand-new medium of Television.
He was like The Three Tenors rolled into one.

The only real problems I had with this one was in the SW where I had Cows Milk at 42A and parsed 32D as a rowing clue. WENTTOSEA buried me in that mistake as it gave me ***CREW. I went to bed with those mistakes in place.

This morning I stripped out the whole corner (again, Thank you Across Lite) and the CENSE/KNEADIN cross allowed me to break this ones back.

I never had a more difficult time on such a dull puzzle. In the pen-and-paper days, I would have abandoned ship.

retired_chemist 12:03 PM  

I echo Treedweller - a lot in my wheelhouse here, Best Friday ever (10:00 flat), and Rex didn't rate it easy.

But I had an error. Hand up for WIRE/OROGENE. We (dog show people) speak of WIRE fox terriers, German WIRE haired pointers, and WIRE-haired dachshunds. Didn't know OROGENY - if I had taken an extra few minutes I might have gone for the Y because it makes more sense for the down. But go to a dog show and ask when the WIRY fox terriers are showing and you will get a snicker, or a comment that the smooths and the wires are both wiry (in the sense of lean and sinewy).

Hand up also for last square being the fix of COLGATO. I DO NOT want any of MY organs repaired in an ER. unless we count skin as an organ and I need a few stitches. Take me to an OR. Please.

PEN HOLD was easy - I played IM table tennis in college and the Asian kids all used the PEN HOLD. Not I - I used the shakehand grip, as did most of the Americans. The Asians usually slaughtered us, but one year we beat them....

TORA I knew. The US Embassy in Tokyo is near the TORANOMON (Tiger's Gate) Metro station.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

@fikink- and "Castro's cheek-own sanwich weeth a live cheek-own."

xyz 12:06 PM  

I see now why you're so cranky over at L.A. Confidential ...

Made a mess of this one ...

hazel 12:22 PM  

@elaine - put those zener cards away. I too knew Joe-Pye weed; its a very common wildflower (hence the term weed) down here. Since our "lawn" is dominated by weeds and a wildflower "patch" run wild, we also mow around the Joe-Pye and anything else that's blooming. Fortunately we have a hardwood stand between us and the rest of the world because I'm not sure everyone/anyone else (except the bees and butterflies) would describe the result as lovely.

I also liked this puzzle and finished it one second quicker than yesterday's - so I guess it was in my wheelhouse. OROGENY was a well placed gimme, and loving The Who (RIP Teddy, but thanks for the Roger, @Rex!!), baseball, and food helped also.

This was Joe DiP's 100th puzzle for the NYT. Congratulations, Joe and thanks for all the fun!!

Megan P 12:25 PM  

This puz was easy for me, too - probably a demography thing. I love the idea of the ZENhold - will hold everything that way from now on.

KDD 12:27 PM  

Had an easier time on this one than Rex, which is unusual for me. Was ready to declare triumph, until I saw the correct answer for *ENHOLD.

Blech. Came up with "DENHOLD", rationalized thus: it's the ping pong hold that amateurs use in their DEN, rather than what the pros use in tournaments.

Makes perfect sense! :)

George NYC 12:37 PM  

Love the O cover with the AHA MOMENT!

ArtLvr 12:48 PM  

As I went to bed last night, I was thinking I HAD A BLAST, and I LIKED THAT -- but knew there was Something Wrong in the SW.

PYE was a gimme, but I didn't remember Royales were cars, so my EYE TEST stayed in and that led to an obscure sports term BAT C LEAGUE. And the royalty must be a variant combining Rois and Reys -- Reoy? Ugh. ESP wasn't in the cards, for me.

I loved seeing OROGENY crossing GREEN ALGAE, since I'd just finished a chapter on the peculiar stone used in St Augustine for their 8th attempt at building a durable fort. By 1695 the present Castillo was largely completed, made of clamshell-laden coquina so soft that it didn't splinter under bombardment with cannonballs -- thus allowing the Spanish to hang on to Florida until the US acquired it by treaty in 1821. The preservation of the site involves constantly removing the greenery of the seedlings rooting in its niches!


chefbea 12:54 PM  

Hard puzzle for me today. Had to google a bit.

This morning I talked to a friend whose husband grew up in Haiti - Luckily his family has survived. I asked what they have been doing and she said "Jim is still doing his show "Mario Lanza and Friends" and you can now here it streaming on the internet." So all you Lanza lovers - google mario lanza and friends and see my friend Jim Thompson.

Hope the couple I met last night will join us here in Rexville

ArtLvr 12:59 PM  

@ Hazel -- I must have misremembered what turned me off in IRIS Murdoch's works. Thanks for the heads up re the Collector in last night's comments!


Tinbeni 1:33 PM  

Glad to see my mess done at END IT.

Had Rye (Renhold? naaah) then TYE (tenhold? OK ILL BITE, what is a tenhold?) which I kept.
Came here and learned PYE, time to google.

@Lit.doc.- I agree about the ERS-v-ORS, but I was sure it is COLGATE not Colgato.

Would like to say I 'HAD A BLAST' but I 'WENT TO SEA' and had a lot of write-overs.

At least it was a challenge, this week has been WEAK!

Clark 2:19 PM  

This puzzle went surprisingly smoothly for me. I imagined ping-pong players holding paddles and someone was holding one the way one might hold a pen. Natick, get thee behind me!

@lit.doc and anyone else who cares -- On the apostrophe as plural

Here’s a quote from the Chicago Manual of Style (13th ed.):

Letters, noun coinages, numbers. So far as it can be done without confusion, single or multiple letters used as words, hyphenated coinages used as nouns, and numbers (whether spelled out or in figures) form the plural by adding s alone” (6.9). Among the examples given are “CODs and IOUs.” This, I take it, is the rule you like.

Next rule. “Abbreviations with periods, lowercase letters used as nouns, and capital letters that would be confusing if s alone were added form the plural with an apostrophe and an s” (6.10). Among the examples, “SOS’s.” And this is the rule you don’t like. Or?

The line between confusing and not confusing, between SOS’s and CODs, is one that is often going to be a judgment call, different strokes, etc. And I’m sure that there are style manuals out there that take a different view. But there is nothing about “OB’s” that suggests to me it is trying to be a possessive construction.

(I have noticed over many months that people have strong feelings about this apostrophe. My thought was to open up the subject, not to start a fight.)

retired_chemist 2:31 PM  

@ Clark - I think people have stronger feelings about periods than about aprostrophes.

chefbea 2:40 PM  

@rtd-c LOL

George NYC 2:42 PM  


For many years, the NYT oddly abbreviated decades thusly: the 80's, 90's etc. It was as if some typesetter made a mistake way back when that was copied until it became official "style", and editors decided, dammit, we're sticking to it!
Quite recently the Times corrected this and now uses the more logical '80s, '90s, etc.

hazel 2:44 PM  

This borders on/likely is pettifoggery in its purest sense, but what the hay, my inner Miss Detail has made several appearances this week - lets give her one more chance to speak. Hopefully this last outburst will satisfy her, and she'll go back to whatever prim and proper place she came from! Maybe she'll be wrong. That'd likely do it.

@RC, Clark, & lit.doc - Technically shouldn't it have been Ob.'s?

fikink 2:48 PM  

@clark. I am delighted you broached the subject, for there was many a judgment call I had to make on these very issues here in rural Iowa working with freshly minted BAs who wanted to put together a portfolio of writing for the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. During my tenure as our small-town paper's copy editor, even the high school sports coverage tended toward the florid as these budding authors honed their skills.
And then there was the occasional mixing of metaphors, e.g., when one of my reporters had Mr. Jensen's daughter "turning a hat trick" on the soccer field.

I'm a "CODs" person myself.

retired_chemist 2:57 PM  

In rural West Virginia, years ago, I ran across a small store sporting the sign, "Dougla's market."

lit.doc 3:06 PM  

@Clark, yeah, I'm an MLA kinda guy. But no fight here--your post was excellent. I'm just on the "only use them to avoid confusion" side of that line. Same re e.g. "the '70s".

@retired_chemist, I, for one, have only tender feelings for aprostrophes.

@hazel, welcome to the picayune grammer details thread. Hadn't thought of that one, or seen it. Hmmm. OK, I'LL BITE. In shortened words, an apostrophe is used to indicate that letters have been elided, here Ob[stetrician]s. So I'd think that it would be Ob's, as no period is needed because there's no abbreviation as such. But, like OK, OB and GYN are in such common usage I wouldn't wanna go there with a copy editor. ;)

Two Ponies 3:16 PM  

My problem with apostrophes is their proper use as a possessive.
Contractions are much easier.
I think I might have to plead guilty to overuse.

tedb 3:16 PM  

Someone mentioned above that this is Joe Dipietro's one hundredth puzzle for the NYT. Could 11 down, "return, as from a high level," yielding "dip's back," be his own way of subtly patting himself on the back. Seems like he would deserve it.

Howard B 3:17 PM  

Well, to those who know and love the (very nice) plant, apologies for calling it 'bizarro'. I was going more for that it's a very specific little bit of crosswordese that isn't very flexible in how it can be clued :).

@ Twangster: Yep, that's another, different, and just as interesting way to get to the same answer. (Learn something new every day!)

I guess in terms of the Times puzzles, you still have a one-clue limit on common-enough usable knowledge for PYE. For a music-themed mag or an independent constructor though, that's another good cluing option to look out for, should it ever come up.

@treedweller: Generally, Fri/Sat are themeless. However, Mr.Shortz does likes to throw us a curveball every once in a while, saving an unusually unconventional theme, a rebus, or one with extra-difficult fill and a couple of theme entries (a mini-theme?) for a late-week offering. Just to keep that in the back of your mind...

tedb 3:18 PM  

Someone mentioned above that this is Joe Dipietro's one hundredth puzzle for the NYT. Could 11 down, "return, as from a high level," yielding "dip's back," be his own way of subtly patting himself on the back. Seems like he would deserve it.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:21 PM  

@hazel and lit.doc --

Your comments take me back to a discussion I triggered a few months ago. It is my contention that the short form "OB-GYN" is unique in English in that it is not constructed of first letters (like SCUBA, say) and although it uses the first letters of two words (like SCI-FI, say), it is pronounced O-B-G-Y-N, each letter individually, unlike SCI-FI. I have been unable to come up with any other similar construction. (As I remember the previous discussion, only @mac seemed to fully understand what I was saying.)

(How's that for pettifogery?! ;) )

lit.doc 3:57 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, that is *extremely* high-quality pettifogGery (as distinct from low-class pettifoggery like my capital G just now). ;)

andrea calais michaels 4:11 PM  

100th puzzle???????!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!

Yes, something tells me a certain editor might think PENHOLD was a gimme!
I got it after deductive reasoning...but struggled longer thinking there might be a song called LOU AND I!!!

I love that TENHOLD, ZENHOLD and DENHOLD all have wacky inner-logic of why they'd be right!

I think TORA TORA TORA was a secret shout out to Tiger Woods and that it's the Year of the Tiger in a couple of weeks.

Yes, thanks for that Teddy P!
When I watch something like that, I find it hard to imagine that that person is no longer on this earth :( He seems SO alive and immediate.

I'm totally gonna count BLACKTEA as a bleedover from TEXASTEA!

sanfranman59 4:31 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)

Fri 24:02, 25:56, 0.93, 32%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 11:55, 12:29, 0.95, 44%, Medium

jae 4:45 PM  

This was easy-medium for me. Remembering DEANE and knowing about Zener cards helped. I did have to ask my bride (a plant person) about 36a. My only nit is that I've always thought NAAN had two As. Apparently NAN is an acceptable variation?

Van55 5:17 PM  

No one yet has picked the nit that BLACKTEA isn't really a "food."

Meg 5:33 PM  

@OBDarryl: I started pondering how any type of card (even Zener)could be used in a PAP test, and it was not a pretty image.

Totally loved all the apostrophe posts. Verrrry interesting. Seriously. Sometimes there are things on this blog that you simply have never thought about.

Why "Bye for an Italian soccer team?" Why not just "Bye" for an Italian? Is there a joke I'm missing here?

Bob Kerfuffle 5:45 PM  

@Meg - According to Wikipedia, A bye, in sports and other competitive activities, most commonly refers to the practice of allowing a player or team to advance to the next round of a playoff tournament without playing. This is generally the result of having a number of entrants in the competition that is not a power of two (i.e., not 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc.); any such tournament must eventually arrive, through elimination, at an odd number of participants at some point, thus necessitating the bye.

So, yes, there is a sort of joke.

tedb 5:58 PM  

Someone mentioned above that this is Joe Dipietro's one hundredth puzzle for the NYT. Could 11 down, "return, as from a high level," yielding "dip's back," be his own way of subtly patting himself on the back. Seems like he would deserve it.

Anonymous 6:17 PM  

I think that was you.

SueRohr 6:26 PM  

I finished this one in fairly good time, considering I could fill in very little on my first go round. My only mistake was the often mentioned ten hold. I also had kitchenette for a while and or instead of er. I agree with those who would rather have their organs repaired in the operating room. Enjoyed the apostrophe discussion. As a former teacher the use and misuse of apostrophes is a huge interest of mine. As soon as I turn out of my development there is a sub shop "Pickles and Chip's" that I have to see every day. it drives me crazy.

Meg 6:29 PM  

@Bob: Well, I thought of that, but since when do you say "Ciao" when you have a bye? Wouldn't you say "See you next week" or "We're going to sit this one out. Y'all go on and play." Or maybe Italians say "We have a ciao this week", but I don't think so. Not such a good sort of a joke.

But thanks for the Wiki!

slypett 6:52 PM  

Clark "The SOS's added comment that the rats were leaving the ship amd the cook was drunk, had us all in a dither." I think the apostrphe is, if not cofusing (elements of the communiqué make it plain that SOS's is singular), an unnecessary distraction.

hazel 7:02 PM  

@Anonymous 6:17 - it was me, at least initially, but I am glad @tedb continues to bring the achievement to the forefront!

@lit.doc - thanks for the welcome. i loved being a v. small part of the picayune grammar thread!

@BobK - interesting point. I've got my thinking cap on and will let you know if I come up w/ another such example.

tedb 7:05 PM  

Someone mentioned above that this is Joe Dipietro's one hundredth puzzle for the NYT. Could 11 down, "return, as from a high level," yielding "dip's back," be his own way of subtly patting himself on the back. Seems like he would deserve it.

tedb 7:11 PM  

Sorry about the multiple posts. I don't comment very often on blogs, and I don't know what I did wrong. I did reload the page to see if new comments came in. Did that resend my comment.

Squeek 7:16 PM  

@ tedb, Don't you love it when the e-rodents are wrong? Ha ha.
Dragon's wing might be really old but it's much more cool than "little bear."
Misread Microscopic protists as protEsts. Wow, the protazoa are upset?

dk 8:14 PM  

Someone mentioned above that this is tedb's one hundredth post for the same thing. Could 50 across, "You're probably going to get me but go ahead," yielding "okillbite," be his own way of subtly getting our goat. Seems like he would get it.

naaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh, must be a mistake.

d (od'd on joe pye)k

Steve J 8:27 PM  

@Van55: Tea leaves actually can be consumed as food (not that they're very good), and they can be used as an ingredient at times in various foodstuffs.

tedequity 9:21 PM  

Why is there a cover of O Magazine by the explanation for orogeny? Because they both begin with the same letter???

mac 9:34 PM  

What do you picayne think of "thusly"? ;-).

mac 9:35 PM  


sanfranman59 10:12 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 6:52, 6:54, 0.99, 53%, Medium
Tue 9:10, 8:47, 1.04, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:53, 12:03, 0.82, 12%, Easy
Thu 18:58, 19:19, 0.98, 50%, Medium
Fri 24:07, 25:57, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:40, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:52, 4:30, 1.08, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 4:59, 5:55, 0.84, 14%, Easy
Thu 8:26, 9:19, 0.90, 23%, Easy-Medium
Fri 11:16, 12:28, 0.90, 23%, Easy-Medium

@SueRohr ... perhaps your neighborhood deli is owned by a fellow named Chip and he just wants to make sure that everyone know that he has pickles. ;^)

sanfranman59 10:12 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 3:29 AM  

Pretty nice place you've got here. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more soon.

kevin der 4:07 AM  

loved this themeless. it is jampacked with interesting phrases, in fact only a couple of the entries 7+ letters aren't phrases.

everything just seemed to click and i was surprised to see rex's difficulty rating on this one.

Anonymous 11:06 PM  

I was expecting Rex to rank it "easy" - my fastest Friday ever and seemed too gettable for late in the week.

Anonymous 12:04 AM  


@JMorgie - The spelling is Zener diode, not "xener", same as "Zener card."

"Bicep" in 6D is indeed a rookie mistake. The muscle is the biceps. The final "s" doesn't indicate a plural.

Carry on.

MikeinSTL 3:01 PM  

Well count me in the 'easy' category as well. I liked (and was somewhat stumped by) the shout-out to Will Shortz, who is a big table tennis player. I didn't understand the significance of EWES milk, but I guess it makes sense...

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