Perform a wedeln e.g. / WED 1-20-10 / Contralto James / Gong Show regular Johnson / 1856 Stowe novel / Actresses Farrell Jackson

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Constructor: Trip Payne

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "ONWARD AND UPWARD" (38A: Aspirant's motto ... or, phonetically, what 18-, 23-, 47- and 57-Across each consist of) — theme answers are two-word phrases where first word contains (at least one) "ON" and second word contains "UP" — thus an "on word" and an "up word"

Word of the Day: EPOPEE (46D: Heroic poem)

  1. Epic poetry, especially as a literary genre.
  2. An epic poem.

[French épopée, from Greek epopoiiā : epos, song, word + poiein, to make.]

Why this word exists when EPOS and (the much more common) EPIC already exist is beyond me.
• • •

My fastest Wednesday ever. Ever. 3:43?? That's insane. I never saw the theme, or rather, I saw the theme-revealing answer but never grasped what it meant until I was finished. Solved the entire theme revealer from just the -PWARD at the end and didn't take the time to look back (or think forward) since knowing the theme didn't seem necessary to getting the theme answers. I got *floored* by EPOPEE (just stared at EPO- wondering how I was going to make EPOS strettttch...) and was befuddled by SWARM INTO (35D: Overrun) (a phrase that doesn't quite feel natural), but the rest is kind of a blur. Now that I look back on it, I have to say that the theme is goofy in a way that I find totally charming. A very clever play on the words in a common phrase, and one that yields solid and unexpected results. The double "ON" in WONTON didn't bother me at all. If anything, it was like an exclamation point on the puzzle — a finish with a flourish.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: It creates a small vacuum (suctiON cUP)
  • 23A: Parts of double-blind trials (cONtrol groUPs)
  • 47A: What national banks oversee (mONey sUPplies)
  • 57A: Chinese menu option (wONtON soUP)
Would not have thought of MEAN and 1A: Stingy as meaning the same thing (I associate MEANness with cruelty), but that's definitely one of its definitions. A SNAP looks a little ridiculous in the grid, but fits perfectly with its clue (10D: No problem at all).

["Two snaps up!"]

I somehow rode CONTROL GROUPS across the grid from NW to NE and thus missed the N entirely on first pass. Last two answers to fall were SKI and "OF US." Never heard of a "wedeln" (9D: Perform a wedeln, e.g.) and had ISAAC at first for ISAAK (15A: Chris with the 1991 hit "Wicked Game"), putting a "C" where the "K" should have been in SKI. "OF US" is a rather ugly partial, and, with EPOPEE, the ugliest thing in the grid (19D: "The Sum ___" (Russell Crowe movie)). Since "L.A. Confidential" ... no, since "Gladiator," I have pretty much avoided all Crowe fare. See him (with Hugo Weaving) in "Proof" (1991), easily the best thing he's ever done (that I've seen).

[he's not in this scene ...]

  • 17A: Roofless home (nest) — some NESTs have roofs. I don't know this for a fact, but I feel it must be so.
  • 37A: 1856 Stowe novel ("Dred") — not, as you probably suspected, "Dr. Ed"
  • 45A: Contralto James (Etta) — I thought "contralto" was a word applied to the voice of a different type of singer, namely opera. ETTA sings the blues.
  • 62A: "The Gong Show" regular Johnson (Arte) — this guy's name used to be as common as ERNE or EPEE. It's nice to think of his name fading in crossword popularity. Gives me hope that, where popular culture is concerned, the puzzle can be adaptive and not (just) stuck in the past. ARTE is a fine answer, and I'm not sure we're any better off that he's been replaced (in terms of common four-letter pop culture names) by ENYA (34D: Popular singer born in County Donegal), but at least ENYA's still working. And has a huge body of work. And has won Emmys, and got an Academy Award nomination, and ... O man, she's never going anywhere, is she? On my deathbed (I'm hoping many decades from now) I'll be solving a puzzle with her in it. Well, that's an awfully weird first glimpse of 2060. . . wait, what was this comment about again? Oh, right. Commedia dell'ARTE.
  • 7D: OS X runner (emu)
  • 25D: Actresses Farrell and Jackson (Glendas) — first actress = !?!?!, second actress = gimme.
  • 31D: Vengeful goddess (Hera) — she sure is. A totally unreasonable fantastic pain in the ass. But this is why I love her: total commitment. She's the real star of "The Aeneid."
  • 58D: Grp. that meets in the Situation Room (NSC) — Wolf Blitzer has other people in there with him? (should I flag the comments wherein I'm kidding? I feel like today's write-up's gonna get me some mail...)
  • 59D: Upscale hotel offering (spa) — well it's not terribly "upscale," but Brooklyn Bridge Marriott is where I'll be staying Feb. 18-20 for the weekend of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Hope to see many of you there. I'll be there. And today's constructor, Trip Payne, will almost certainly be there. In fact, if this year is like many other recent years, he'll be on stage, at the end, in the finals. He's fast. Former champions usually are.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


MsCarrera 8:18 AM  

Is there a mistake at 13D? "Reps" include samples, but I don't get "raps." Could someone please explain. Thanks.

MsCarrera 8:23 AM  

OS X runner is a Mac, not an emu. It's correct in the grid, but not in Rex's write-up.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

Clever theme with not everyday fill.

I've seen bra clued in a variety of ways, but have never seen JOCKSTRAP in a puzzle before. Fresh!

I so wanted "Column A or B" for 57A, but it wouldn't fit the theme.
@MsCarrera- a rap song that takes musical bits from other songs and incorporates them 'samples' the former. It's common in that genre.
Great clue- made me think of BIOLAB from yesterday.

@RP- OS X runner isn't EMU :)

MsCarrera 8:29 AM  

Thanks, tptsteve. I was thinking of sales reps handing out samples. It must be apparent that I do not listen to a whole lot of rap.

imsdave 8:36 AM  

I found the cluing difficult (that's just me, I suppose), leading to a medium solving time.

The theme helped me not one whit (sidebar - what the hell is a whit, where does it come from, and why do I use that word?).

I knew wedel (from back in the days when I had functional knees), but was unfamiliar with the term wedeln. Live and learn.

All told, a fine puzzle, and looking forward to seeing many of you in Brooklyn

joho 8:44 AM  

I laughed at JOCKSTRAP.

@dk ... I'm sure you're able to wedeln on your way to rescue someone, no?

The crazy thing is I don't know I how I feel about this theme.

I do know that when finished I was humming, "we're movin'on up to the
East side ..."

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

this was one of those days where i just stared at the puzzle thinking it must have been in a language other than English! Also got thrown by groups and soup, thinking about "OU" words. Had JACK for RYAN (41A) which didn't help. tomorrow's aniother day.

Elaine 8:47 AM  

I thought JOCKSTRAP would get a RAP on the knuckles for not passing the Breakfast Test....and fresh? Seldom to never, don't you think?

Wedel/wedeln-- I took this to be singular/plural of a term I did not know, from a land where a lot of skiing goes on

I was a bit put off by the UP in WONTON SOUP. The vowel diphthong OU has a short and a long sound (out, soup) but no UP is heard. Would have preferred something more precise.

Also: 52D I had SEEDY at first, and had to amend it...but SEAMY would be less "run-down" and more "squalid" or even "disreputable, as in 'the seamy side of life.' "

A bit easy for a Wednesday....

dk 8:53 AM  

Rex, EMU as an OS X runner made my AM

@joho, off to the slopes in about 30 minutes, gotta cram in my fun before I go back to work (insert Maynard G. Krebbes "WORK!" about here). We carve these days, points are deducted if we wag our tails.

@meg from yesterday toe tags may be green(no worries), yellow (walking wounded), red (need help ASAP) and black (doa).

@doug, your first post yesterday described me to a T.

Today having preen for PREPS was my sole misstep.

The research and SKI clues were right up my alley. Chris ISAAK is a favorite, blah, blah.

This puzzle seems like something Mr. Payne may have put together while trying to decide whether to tan his back or front first. The puzzle is fun but does not clear my Wednesday bar.

If we switched Tuesday's and todays...maybe.

Trip, not to be an IMP, but could you crank it up a notch or 6 next time.

d(cranky pants)k

ps. Got a new research gig, due in large part to the studies I have done on our comments and Rex's blog. I will let you all know when the results are published. My articles are a sure cure for insomnia (as you might imagine from my posts).

mac 9:10 AM  

@dk: now you've got me worried. What did we say??

Good puzzle, but a little easy for a Wednesday. No real problems or write-overs. Arte Johnson is crosswordese for me, I wouldn't be able to pick him out of a line-up.

@Ulrich: I think wedeln is the verb, so the clue to 9D is wrong. Isn't Wedel a sort of fan-shape?
Please help me out!

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

@dk I'm not getting the emu joke. Help.

treedweller 9:17 AM  

In addition to the SOUP mentioned by Elaine, I thought most of the ONs sounded more like "un." Maybe that's just my hick accent, but I'd have liked the theme-revealing clue better if it left out "phonetically."

Otherwise, a great Tuesday puzzle.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

had trouble with epopee; shouldn't have as a Canadian who learned both English and French versions of the national anthem as a child...I can recite (sing)
"ton histoire est un epopee" without thinking about it, but was befuddled by the word in the puzzle.

The Corgi of Mystery 9:19 AM  

Stared at wedeln for a good five seconds thinking that a word like that couldn't possibly exist, and still got out in my fastest Wednesday time ever. I agree that the theme was cute and fresh, so thumbs up here.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:30 AM  

Google has failed me, not for the puzzle (fastest ever, etc), but for a citation. I wanted to quote correctly a remark attributed to Socrates, I believe, "Sparing at the bottom is mean," re: 1A, but I can't find it. Greek scholars?

Otherwise, what has been said, plus two write-overs: Had SWARMONTO for 35 D (as pirates might swarm onto a captured ship) and ENDO for ENTO, both of which were resolved SWIFTly by 53 A.

Really expected a tiger when I saw Trip Payne's name, got a pussycat instead.

Sarah 9:39 AM  

Fun and quick, apart from EPOPEE, which took me a few minutes -- for some reason, I had EL but couldn't make it into EEL in my mind. I got the "UP" part of the theme, but only realized the "ON" part reading this blog.

fikink 9:42 AM  

Really didn't like SWARM INTO, agreeing with you, Rex, that it "doesn't quite feel natural." Then I remembered Hawkeyes' former football coach, Hayden Fry, who introduced The Swarm in 1979, wherein the players join hands and "swarm onto" the field at the beginning of each game in a show of unity.

All hail the use of the word, MEAN, for stingy. Perhaps "niggardly" will be wrested from the clutches of the illiterate PC police soon.

DRED Scott, Rex! EMU? Very good!

Ulrich 9:47 AM  

In my accent, "word" and "ward" are so different that I never made the homophonic connection, and I'm with Elaine when it comes to soup--meh.

@mac: Yes, "wedeln" is a verb. It can be used as a noun b/c every verb can be turned into a noun, e.g. "Dein Wedeln war wirklich gut" (your twisting was really good), but no one would say this--one would say "Du hast gut gewedelt" (you twisted well). Which is another way of saying that "wedeln" is not a synonym for "to sky"--it defines a specific movement: back in the days of the twist, the saying was, "if you can twist, you can wedeln" NOT "you can ski". BUT it another context, it may connote skying, synechdochically speaking. And the duster gets its name from the movement implied.

@Clark and fikink: When I was re-reading the late comments from yesterday, I recalled the New Yorker cartoon that showed a cat walking away from her owner in a huff and the owner yelling after her, "the fact that you were a goddess in Egypt cuts no ice with me!"

PIX 9:48 AM  

Arte Johnson is best know for his work on Laugh-In a show which was ground-breaking for TV for its time...His famous phrase was "Very interesting...but stupid".

Opposite of exo is usually endo, not ento (endothermic vs. exothermic reactions; endomorph vs ectomorph; ectoparasite vs endoparasite)

Leas on top of Leah does not seem right

never heard of epopee; don't think i am going to get a chance to use the word any time soon.

John 9:50 AM  

JOCKSTRAP crossing CUP, Cute!

Unknown 10:04 AM  

@ Rex- I can think of one nest that has a roof: mine.

PlantieBea 10:13 AM  

This would have been easier if I hadn't spelled the Chinese menu option WANTON SOUP. Good thing modeled=WORE was there. My other rewrite was NSC over CIA. EPOPEE is a new word for me. I don't time myself, but this puzzle seemed to take longer than the usual Wednesday.

Elaine 10:14 AM  

"I was Cleopatra once," she said. Probably you will not recognize an _Archie and Mehitabel_ reference... but the cartoon directly descended from same...

I thought some of our music folks would have chimed in by now: "Contralto" refers to the tonal range of a voice, regardless of genre. A tenor, baritone, bass, soprano, alto, contralto, and so on-- it's not somehow reserved for operatic performance, or choir, or, or...

If you have seen an ant war, you will not quibble with this usage!

Van55 10:16 AM  

I liked the theme and the puzzle generally. I agree that LEAS over LEAH is strange. Didn't like AHA.

Loved the phrenologists clue -- one you don't see very often.

xyz 10:19 AM  

I thought the puzzle theme was LONGRUNSHORTHOP, but I was foiled. Yaaawn. Kinda lost interest in finishing after getting the real 38A answer. Drat. Decent puzzle, learnt how to EPOPEE today. Thought an EIDER was a goose, not a duck but there it was, now I know.

Well, I can tell you that restaurant servers will certainly call "stingy" folks MEAN when they don't leave 30% tip as the blogs now suggest.

Ultimately, puzzle better than the theme.

hazel 10:21 AM  

@Ulrich, working synechdochically into a sentence! Well-done. Synechdoche, New York - now that was one strange movie, which I happened to love - it appealed to the Jung in me.

The puzzle - hmm - hated the clunky "theme reveal" clue, and didn't like the theme words much either - seemed kind of pedestrian (CONTROLGROUPS, MONEYSUPPLIES, etc.). Lot of ESE also, and then the big payoff - ONWARDANDUPWARD. Just seems out of place. Borderline ironic.

Parshutr 10:22 AM  

Today is Arte Johnson's 81st birthday anniversary.
ENTO instead of ENDO? WRONGO.
More recent repeats: ADUE, PEON
Not much to love about this puz...except the GLENDAS

Glitch 10:26 AM  

A bit more on wedeln, which seems also to be the name of an alpine skiing technigue...

No definitions of wedeln were found in English

Definitions of wedeln on the Web in German:

Das Wedeln ist eine inzwischen veraltete Technik des alpinen Skilaufs. Als charakteristisch galt die angenommene schwungauslösende Hochbewegung ...

Which the bing translator processes as:

The Dodge is a now outdated short swing technique of Alpine skiing (ok @Ulrich?).

Also found, as translated:

Tailed technology was created in the 1950s in Austria... In the 1970s, the Dodge was replaced by the cut to transfer swing... [and] this was replaced in the 1990s by the carving technique.

Wedel, however, in English:

ski, alternating directions

So it would appear that if clued as wedel, SKI would have been a fine answer and we could just discuss why this puzzle appeared on the wrong day ;-)


coyote 10:28 AM  

I really liked the theme of this puzzle. Doesn't bother me that the some of the ons sound "unnish." It is still the word "on." Unlike most of you on the blog I enjoy solving for the theme, not speed...not that there is anything wrong with speed solvers..just personal preference. When I uncovered the theme quite early, it was entertaining to discover the hidden ons and ups. Great puzzle Trip! Am looking forward to the tournament.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

I don't understand how Rex could rate this puzzle an "easy" and yesterdays a "medium." This was not an easy Wednesday - and yesterdays' was easier that Monday! The clues were way too "wobbly."

retired_chemist 10:41 AM  

Seemed easy but my time said medium. Uncaught error: Chris ISAAC/SCI for wedeln, which I didn't know.

Caught error: STORM INTO for 35D.

Ditto: JACK STAND for 11D. Possibly sexist but, hey, no wife of mine ever changed a tire..... I recall a day in Köln when I saw a couple of guys having a beer and a couple of ladies looking perplexed at a flat tire. Two gentlemen, walking by, volunteered to change it. They did, and profuse thanks from the ladies ensued. When the gentlemen were out of sight, the guys got up, joined the two women, and the four of them drove off.

Jeffrey 10:42 AM  

@Anon 9:18 didn't make the EPOPEE anthem connection until you mentionned it. Big D'OH! to me.

Fast but non-record for me (since you asked, my record is 3:37 on Wednesday) but a pleasant enough diversion.

Ulrich 10:46 AM  

@Glitch re. wedeln: Basically, yes. The short swing consists of twisting the body below the hips so that it--and the skies--point into a different direction from the upper body--that's were the connection with the dance comes in. The technique was particularly important for the slalom with its frequent changes in direction. The same wiki entry says that the technique has been replaced by "carving" in modern alpine skiing, which, inter alia, does not involve use of the poles, needed for wedeln.

Two Ponies 10:51 AM  

I feel only lukewarm about the theme. I looked at the answers and said "Yep, there's an on and an up." That's it??

First impulse for 11D Sugar Mama.

CoolPapaD 10:53 AM  

This would have been among my fastest Wednesdays, but for the South. Looking at 46D with the last letter blank - could not get EPI PEN out of my head. I put NSA for NSC, and could NOT think of any words other than aardvark or Aaron that began with a "double a." Realized the first "a" had to be wrong, but was drawing a blank until a scene from that Robin Williams movie with CARPE diem popped into my head.

As above, with repsect to ENTO and MEAN.

Agree that JOCKSTRAP was awesome, even if it didn't cross BISHOP!

Orange 10:58 AM  

@Van55: Have you ever tried constructing a crossword? I think if you make a crossword, you'll gain a better understanding of why it's silly to complain so often about short fill. It's the glue that makes crosswords possible.

And AHA? It's a word! It's in the dictionary! It has two vowels so it's gonna find its way into crosswords pretty often. Given that AHE and OHA and AYA aren't words, you know, something like AHA is going to show up sometimes. Plus, AHA lends itself to lively clueing options. It's not some three-letter abbreviation that is only going to get flat, lifeless clues. (Vs. ABA and AMA. You'd complain more about those!)

Tinbeni 11:00 AM  

Don't like to CARPE.
Starts with MEAN, ends in GORY.
There is the line across SWIFT SOS DIE.
Is this puzzle trying to tell me something?

Did not see the ON UP theme until I got here.

ARTE & ENYA have become crosswordese.

AHA moment, learned EPOPEE.

Had SKI before seeing the 9D clue. Damn, I am going to miss-out on the trite reparte over a word.

@Anon 10:33 - Rex rated this easy because HE knew it would take ME only 1 Mug of Coffee.

Martin 11:01 AM  


"Phonetically" signals the reading of 38-Across as "on words and up words." The theme is not phonetic; it is only the inclusion of the letters "ON" and "UP."

Steve J 11:05 AM  

Had trouble in the NE for a while. JOCKSTRAP wasn't coming to me (I kept thinking of "means of support" in terms of money, although I suppose for a male stripper, in a way JOCKSTRAP (more accurately, g-string) could serve as both). And I got a little hung up on RAP of all things. My at times too-literal brain ruled it out since, technically, the rap is the vocals (one can rap without any music, and indeed that's the origin of the technique).

Turned into an average Wednesday for me by the time I was done.

lit.doc 11:11 AM  

Prefatory confession: I said “Wednesday” in my comments yesterday, meaning “Tuesday”, the result [rationalization alert] of a carefully orchestrated four-day weekend.

It’s “why aren’t you in bed?” o’clock, and I’m still sitting here trying to figure out how the WARD part of ONWARD AND UPWARD connects to the theme answers. Damn, I wish Rex had posted earlier today (went to bed after doing the LAT puzzle in CST, still no Rex—though, @Rex, your write-up was hysterical this a.m., and worth the wait).

OK, morning, coffee, students working quietly, still feeling irrationally cranky about the puzzle. Shouldn’t the *sense* of the theme-clue answer connect to the theme answers? I think it’s the specificity of the “phonetically…consist of” phrase that’s irking me. “ON” WORD AND “UP” WORD would have been perfect, albeit hard to clue. Grrrmmph.

Theme-clue answer aside, how the hell is “Run-down” SEAMY, rather than SEEDY??! My stumbles on NSA/NSC and ENDO/ENTO (@PIX, thanks for noticing) I understand, but “seamy”? [insert foot-stamping emoticon] Then, adding insult to grad school, we get EPOSWTF. Crosses were fine, though, so solving wasn’t a problem as such.

And if anyone else started with WANTON SOUP, I can recommend a good therapist to not consult.

ArtLvr 11:15 AM  

What a Trip! I enjoyed the mix of visual ONs and UPs and the aural kinship of WORD and WARD. No need to cavil (or CARPE) over the lack of UP sound in SOUP or GROUP, imho.

@ dk, do we use Wedeln in English, and if so does it have German's V-sound at the start of the word?


@ Rex, I giggled at your EMU. Think he was last seen in OAHU...

OBDaryll 11:26 AM  

@Elaine - It's obvious that you don't watch ESPN / NFL Network continuously, as do I. There's a commercial for a fabric freshner being run, where it's use on a JOCKSTRAP is tested but never verified, it was just assumed that the JOCKSTRAP smelled fresh.

xyz 11:30 AM  

My arm hurts now.

This puzzle took me 20 leisurely minutes on paper with a printed out Across Lite grid. That didn't do it.

I did this puzzle on paper, printed out Across Lite grid just writing over the solution letters with all "X"'s. Time: 1:56

I did this puzzle in Across Lite using "x" and the Tab key, not typing too fast. Time: 1:51

I did this puzzle on paper, printed out Across Lite Grid, overwriting my answers previously completing it in ~20 minutes as above. Time: 1:43

Speed solver times are amazing to me, a wicked easy Monday puzzle won't ever be under 5:00 in my hands. M, Tu, We are often similar times for me, they all take 10-20 mins unless I get stumped somewhere. I just finally got around to getting some perspective. I'm sure few if any care, but what the hell.



joho 11:41 AM  

@Artlvr ... I think @dk is skiing. I learned this word when when I took up skiing in Minnesota at the age of 12. All of my friends had been on the slopes since they were two and were remarkably expert skiers. They could wedeln while I could not ... basically you're going straight downhill, turning right & left very quickly ... but it looks like your in a straight line. My description is probably off, maybe somebody else can explain better. I ultimately got there, but never was as good a skier as my friends ... and I'm certain as @dk must be. And yes, the "W" is pronounced as a "V."

Doug 11:47 AM  

Since when is SOS tapped out? Often? How about seldom? Nobody uses wireless anymore, not even on steamships. Morse is so last century, folks. I got SKI right away, being a guy who started on wood skis. We used "wedel" as a verb. A good parallel skier was said to wedel really well.

fikink 11:55 AM  

@Ulrich, Clark - A wonderful cartoon!
My fav NY'er dog cartoon is the one where the Alpha dog is mentoring a young pup and is sitting at the computer. He is saying to his young apprentice, "No one knows you're a dog on the Internet."

@Elaine, who is quibbling?
The NAME OF THE GAME, to recall yesterday's puzzle, is to end up with the most toys, not the highest score. ;)

@r_c, I think JACK STAND is legit. I was taught never to refer to a JOCK STRAP, but to speak of my brother's "supporter" when I did the laundry. (The reason I was talking about it at all was not addressed. Ah, sublimation...)

@Two Ponies, Sugar Mama - indeed. You go girl!

Doc John 12:30 PM  

I'm glad Rex made EPOPEE the word of the day because it was a total WTF for me. Had to check my crosses several times before deciding that it had to be right.

FWIW, The Sum of Us is a wonderful movie about a gay guy, Russell Crowe, and his relationship with his father. Groundbreaking for its time.

mac 12:49 PM  

@Two Ponies: Sugar Mama, great!

@Ulrich: I don't feel a W is always pronounced as a V in German. Do you?

alice in SF 12:56 PM  

I had a lot of fun with 11D as I was totally, absolutely convinced that the guy meant something to do with sailing so I came up with the word "jacksprit." Looked good to me; mind you I only know stray words about sailing gear as tennis is my sport. Hey sailors, could jacksprit have been a proper sailing term? My unabridged didn't think so. Of course the answer to 40A unraveled my conviction. Thought the correct answer was a hoot. Never got the theme. Oh well.

MikeM 1:12 PM  

R-man - It's in the pleasure, not the speed IMHO. Does a meal taste any better if you eat it as fast as you can?

Entropy 1:30 PM  

@Doug - Have never, ever used 'to wedel' in relation to a Skier. Then again we do our sking on the liguid form or H2O.

New to NYT (month or so) but is it me. This was easy.

TA DA, I finished correctly.

Other than the EPOPEE and ENTO this was A SNAP.

ronathan 1:50 PM  

Count me in with the group who didn't know what a wedeln is, and who stared at EPOPEE and shrugged. Thank God for crosses, that's all I gotta say.

Most of my questions regarding this puzzle have already been answered, except one. I don't understand the cluing for 44A "Salt" = TAR? Tar as a noun is a black gooey substance, such as the stuff that is used to pave roads, or the residue found in cigarette smoke. As a verb, tar means to cover, as in "tar and feather". So how exactly does TAR=Salt?


Meg 1:51 PM  

@dk: Thanks for the toetag color list. Interesting.

Now, after blogging here for a while, I'm starting to look at constructor's names, and recognizing them absolutely colors my experience and attitude about a puzzle. Trip Payne is a great constructor, so it's hard to be impartial. Check out his site (on Rex's sidebar) for some excellent variety puzzles and cws.

I also thought by now we would have had an explanation re: endo- vs. ento-. OK, I'll look it up...

I think this is the first time I actually guessed the word of the day!

Van55 1:56 PM  

@Orange: Yes, I have tried to construct a crossword puzzle and found it enormously more difficult than I had imagined. I understand why some trite fill is necessary, probably in almost every puzzle.

But I don't think I should refrain from pointing out what I consider crappy fill, just as our esteemed host does. Do you?

andrea epopee michaels 1:57 PM  

I am always in awe of Trip!

Even tho I had to read the theme revealing clue a few times after the puzzle was done, I had to take a few minutes to marvel at even coming up with that idea and then finding so many phrases that had ON and UP, all two words, none of them crazy stretches.

JOCKSTRAP felt icky to me, maybe bec I am from an all-sister family, went to an all-girl school for 6 years...maybe bec yesterday's puzzle was a breakthrough by a 19 yr old girl, maybe bec the only other word I know that starts with JOCK is jockitch...but my shoulders go up and I do a little involuntary wriggle when I see it.

However, @John 9:50
John 9:50 (Is that a biblical sign you wave at football games?) saved it for me by pointing out the crossing with CUP.

Note to self: Has "Soccer mom" been defined as "Athletic supporter" yet?

good cogent call on explaining the glue for the DRED 3-letter words.
@Van55 are you listening? She knows from whence she speaks!

and ARTE was DEFINITELY the glue for the 50+ puzzles I made for "TV Guide" back in the '70s-'80s

MEAN for "stingy" seems like an old-fashioned Britishism (Sp?) to me.
"MEAN to me", the end-credit song from "The Return of the Secaucus Seven" has been in my head for weeks now.

@Doc John
TOTALLY with you on "The Sum of US". I loved that film, I think it was the first Russell Crowe film I saw, so for years and years and years just assumed he was gay, he was so good in that in such a low-key way. Agree with @Rex about almost everything today, including that "Proof" is one of his best.

Oops! I just got now that Trip meant ETTA James and not some male opera singer I had never heard of named James ETTA.

I like that your comment reads like a tone poem. I would also like to recommend PEON CARPE GORY as worthy of an EPOPEE, which is a very hard word to take seriously in any language.
I just tried it on my cat "Come here my little EPOPEE" and he'll have none of it.

One writeover: Since I didn't know EPOPEE (I am going to keep writing that word till I learn to love it...) and had TEA for "Upscale hotel offering", (as in high tea or in a basket in your suite) I had -EAR- and guessed HEART instead of SPARE.
Thought maybe there was some card game where hearts were worth 20 points.

shout out 7D!

Totally love Chris ISAAK, never heard of Wedeln. Can we still be AMICI? Never gone skiing in my life lest you count that one forced crosscountry skiing episode
(EPOPEE?) in 8th grade. SKI BUMPS is a nice crossing too, tho, right?

Did anyone know who GLENDA Farrell is/was? Must have been hard to come up with a second GLENDA (and the good witch doesn't count, that was Glinda)

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

@ACM- Wikipedia (handy in a pinch)offers this (and other info) on Glenda Farrell- note the nifty tie-in to 37A:

"Farrell came to Hollywood towards the end of the silent era. Farrell began her career with a theatrical company at the age of 7. She played Little Eva in Uncle Tom's Cabin."

fikink 2:23 PM  

@ronathan, TAR and SALT both are names for sailors.

There is - or was - a restaurant in
Dallas called The Randy Tar...or "the horny sailor."

ronathan' 2:31 PM  

Thanks fikink! I've learned my new fact for the day!

-ronathan :-p

acme 2:33 PM  

Thank you! I mean, I know I could have googled her, I was just curious if anyone had heard of her sans googling.

ArtLvr 2:33 PM  

@ JOHO, thank you! I enjoyed skiing in Switzerland way back as a student, and later at Mt Snow where friends were starting a ski lodge, but when I moved to Princeton I thought I was moving too far south and sold all the equipment! It turned out I was quite wrong, but I never got into it again!

My evening pastimes in Princeton were nearly all musical, from madrigals to folksinging, groups that got together to sing through opera scores, folkdancing year round, community orchestras and choirs. I did try ice-skating a few times in the winter, but the skates got sold when I moved to southern California...

@ mac, you're probably right about the occasional W in German not being a V-sound, especially with words of foreign origin, though I can't think of any examples. The family with whom I stayed in Geneva was named Wyler, pronounced Vee-lair.


HudsonHawk 2:39 PM  

When I wrote in SUCTION CUP, I figured Rex would cue up a Princess Bride clip. But I'm with John 9:50 on the CUP crossing JOCKSTRAP.

Reminds me of a classic bit by Bob Nelson:

"Now the most important piece of equipment for a football player is the CUP.

It ain't no Dixie cup, it ain't no coffee mug, and you sure as heck wouldn't want to drink anything from it..."

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

@ACM- I know you coulda googled her, but I didn't know who she was either, so I took up the cudgel to educate myself too. I was surprised to learn I've seen films she'd starred in-- I just never paid attention to her name. Interesting carreer.

I'm still waiting to get clued in to the emu joke

fikink 2:57 PM  

@tptsteve, EMU is often clued as an Aussie runner. The rest is Rex's whimsy.

clark 3:13 PM  

I grew up on skis, so Wedeln as SKI was a gimme.

@mac -- I can't think of an example of a German w that isn't pronounced like an English v. But maybe @Ulrich can help us.

@Steve J -- If you think that 'g-string' is more accurate than JOCKSTRAP when it comes to male strippers then you are spending time in the wrong clubs :-)

Orange 3:26 PM  

@Van55: You know what? I discuss short fill far less at Crossword Fiend than Rex does here. But Rex has more of an educational mission here (like the mission we share with PuzzleGirl at L.A. Crossword Confidential). When Rex calls attention to short answers, it probably helps his readership get that common fill (3s and 4s) cemented in their heads so it becomes rote. That's what it is for me, most of the time: rote. I don't much notice the short fill unless it's particularly good or particularly woeful.

Steve J 3:28 PM  

@fikink: To add to your EMU explanation, OS is pronounced more or less oz when not voiced as two letters, and Aussies often refer to their home country as Oz (which I'm guessing is formed from the pronunciation for Aussie, which my Aussie friends vociferously point out is pronounced Ozzie, not awssie as Americans tend to do).

As for the g-strings, I admit to having very little knowledge of male stripper attire. Maybe I should just use the newer and broader expression "banana hammock" instead of referencing specific clothing items.

And I also cannot think of a single example where the W is not pronounced as a V sound in German.

sanfranman59 3:31 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)

Wed 10:41, 12:01, 0.89, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:55, 5:55, 1.00, 56%, Medium

(It sure would be nice if this new "word verification" thing on Blogger was actual words ... "cannegur"???)

Bill from NJ 3:33 PM  


Maybe because we have heard about what you consider "crappy fill" ad nauseum and are frankly sick of hearing you repeat it . . . ad nauseum.

Rex discourages commenters commenting on commenters because he considers it a low form of discourse but damn, man, I think we have all heard enough.

I don't comment much anymore and fully expect a reprimand from Rex but damn, man, can you stop.

mac 3:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 3:39 PM  

Something is wrong with my times digest!! Didnt get yesterdays puzzle til this morning. Still haven't received todays so I tried to do it on line. Printed out the grid and looked at the clues on line. Had a head ache after doing half the puzzle. Guess I'll have to fork over $2.00 a day for the dead tree - but you guys are worth it.

Van55 3:39 PM  

@Bill from NJ: Feel free to skip over my pithy blog entries, if you find them tiresome.

mac 3:45 PM  

@Artlv & @Clark + @Steve J: you want to say there is a v-sound in wunderbar? There is a distinct difference with for instance "verkaufen".

chefwen 3:57 PM  

@Andrea - My thoughts exactly on the JOCK STRAP. When I filled that in last night I said, "Uh Uh, no they didn't, what's next jock itch?" That didn't pass the before dinner test, much less before breakfast.

Stumbled around the BUMPS/ISAAK/MAC/PAT/SKI area for far too long, and EPOPEE, what the hell is that? Finally got the thing finished but it took me a while. Felt pretty good when I was done though.

treedweller 4:12 PM  

OK, I'll buy that. That makes this a perfect Tuesday puzzle.

Entropy 4:24 PM  

Your tiresome comments are, in no way, Pithy: defined - concise and full of meaning.

But they are obtuse: defined - not quick or alert in perception, feeling, or intellect; not sensitive or observant; dull.

David 4:30 PM  

When I encountered JOCKSTRAP I immediately thought Rex would put up a pic of himself modeling same - and the thought ruined my afternoon!

chefbea 4:33 PM  

I'm gone for 2 days...and now I have to type in a word verification??? what happened??? I clicked on the wheel chair(handicapped sign) and heard a lot of garbled stuff!!!!

Meg 4:47 PM  

@chefbea: I suspect it's because we had repeated postings about the Chinese hacking into Facebook. Robopostings? If that isn't a word, it should be.

Short fill reminds me of the end of "Fargo" where the pregnant female deputy reminds her husband of how important the 3 cent stamp is.

Entropy 4:47 PM  

This was my test from hitting the wheel chair (Handicapped sign).
Lots of garble, then #, then garble, then #, garble, #, garble, #, etc.
(sounded a bit like @Van55 bitching about AHA).

At least the wavy letters are large and clear. Oh well, modern progress.

Miss Manners 4:55 PM  

Oh, dear.
Your next puzzle has to be tough enough to keep the class quiet for the entire period!

My verification word is "glyrotes." A Major Award to the person submitting the best definition of THAT. Sample: glyrotes: unkind responses to comments.

Clark 5:02 PM  

@mac -- I would say that the w in the German word 'Wunderbar' is pronounced like an English v, and the v in the German word 'verkaufen' is pronounced like an English f. Am I missing something?

chefbea 5:03 PM  

@entropy LOL

yours truly blotd

Webster 5:04 PM  

A) gel-like learning method.
B) AHA moment, but only if you CARPE about it.
C) A "prissy" fake name,

PDQ 5:06 PM  

LEAS on top of LEAH = Excitement for someone named "LEAH"!!!!

- Leah Brooks

andrea "You're it!" michaels 5:17 PM  

@Miss Manners
OK, I'll take a shot (Obviously still raining here)

Teenaged boys and girls with clear braces but colored rubber bands, who have already memorized the dialogue/songs of every episode of "Glee"

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

Why does JOCKSTRAP tit-illate you all more than BRA does?

One fails the "breakfast test" while one passes? Sounds like sexism to me. :-)

Steve J 5:23 PM  

@mac: Yes, there's an initial V sound in "wunderbar" (at least in the High German I learned, but I also recall hearing it in the very much non-standard Bavarian dialect I heard daily while living in Munich). And it is to be expected that it would sound different from "verkaufen," as the German V is pronounced as an English F. While there's a lot of variation in vowel spellings in German (e.g. ei/ai/ay/ey all spelling the same sound), the consonants tend to be pretty consistent. The only one I can think of that varies regularly is G, which is usually hard (like in "good") but will shift to soft in many words borrowed from other languages (like "massage," which is pronounced with the same soft G both English and French speakers use).

I'm sure there's a stray exception or two out there somewhere, but it's pretty consistent that the German W is pronounced as the English V, and the German V is pronounced as the English F (and actually as the German F; I've never noticed any difference in the two, although I'm sure there's probably some subtle phonological difference in some dialects).

Miss Manners 5:25 PM  

Ahem. If you check the contents of each, the aesthetics should be quite apparent.

Where is the answer to the assignment???

Miss Manners 5:29 PM  

I am attempting to bring the class to order. Please check the assignment and submit your answer before the end of the class.

@ Anonymous 5:23
You KNOW to whom I was speaking. I am waiting to see your work.

@Andrea, Webster
Very nice. Also, neatness counts.

Rex Parker 5:40 PM  

The only one running a "class" here is me (uh, I). Stop commenting on comments, esp. when said meta-comments have Nothing to do with puzzle. You are annoying more people than you know. The only thing worse than a belligerent or otherwise coarse commenter is a tsktsker. If you want to get into snippy endless back-and-forths, I refer you to the Comments section of *any* article at, say, "The Daily Beast" (this thread is particularly unreadable)

(Exception: @Bill from NJ — a gentleman, a scholar, and an all-around nice guy — can say whatever the hell he wants)


Glitch 6:08 PM  

@MikeM asked "Does a meal taste any better if you eat it as fast as you can?"

From the archives:

Joey Chestnut today won the Nathan's Famous July Fourth International Eating Contest by eating 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, 3 1/2 more than Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, his arch-rival.

Different strokes for different folks ;-)


Anonymous 6:58 PM  

Manged my biggest ever up a wrong tree here - had the O from WORE and SOU, and went with HOT AND SOUR for my Chinese menu option, leaving me with the problematic but not unworkable DSC for the Situation Room, and the "I certainly didn't know any better" EPOREE. Could not get any crosses to work, but was solid in my answer - wasn't until I got the theme revealer that I realized I was wrong. Oof.

Charles Bogle 7:02 PM  

wish I had logged on disappointed to see such vehemence toward my view, and really @Orange, I LOVE what you and Rex and PG do for us and can't thank you enough...but...why the meanness? All s/he said was didn't care for AHA. Virtually all of us say something like that from time to time. We express our personal likes and dislikes

@van55: my two cents, and I think that as well of the vast majority of posters: keep saying what you feel like saying (within the general rules of civility, which I notice you always observe). To the fellow from NJ, and @andrea, talented as you are, if you do not care for what one or more of us has to say, just avert your eyes. But please, don't destroy this otherwise enjoyable and educational experience

Rex Parker 7:12 PM  

@Charles, did you you not see me "STOP IT" comment? Stop it. Future comments of the "no content / metacomment" variety will be deleted. Thanks,rp

fergus 7:24 PM  

My twisted letters (why can't I remember the name for this?) are creeduck, which is oddly appropriate for the last raft of comments about meta-commments.

fergus 7:41 PM  

Sorry, Rex. I was just trying to close things off, too. Ducking the creed you've established ... not cool.

Martin 7:45 PM  


It's called a captcha. This one is at least fairly easy to read.

andrea ahem michaels 8:06 PM  

Just thought of another name for this puzzle: UPON MY WORD!

(And of course apologies if agreeing with @Orange was taken as piling on/SWARMing into.
As being neither gentlemen nor scholar, I will do my best to stick to puzzle at hand. My earlier comment was not too SWIFT.)

What @Rex is able to do:

Today's bleedovers: BIO (lab), ADUE

fikink 8:16 PM  

from Wiki:
The term "CAPTCHA" (based upon the word capture) was coined in 2000 by Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum, Nicholas J. Hopper, and John Langford (all of Carnegie Mellon University). It is a contrived acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart." Carnegie Mellon University attempted to trademark the term, but the trademark application was abandoned on 21 April 2008.

@Ulrich, your old stomping ground!

fergus 8:18 PM  

Thanks Martin,

Has anyone let on that you're an excellent source of information?

The elusive Captcha got caught in my mind somewhere between emoticon and spam. Silicon types have come up with some very allusive terms.

dk 8:25 PM  

Hi kids. I'm back. Great day on the hill, skied the bumps and had no need for toe tags or toboggans (used to pull injured skiers in for repair).

@andrea, my SMUSH & AMICI... you all know the rest.

@mac, everything said here is all good.

I forgot in my haste this AM to give this one

** (2 Stars).

I liked the puzzle fine. The issue for me (boy do I have issues) is Wednesday and Thursday are my favorite days. To quote Mama Bear the Wed/Thur puzzles for me are just right. Thus when they are off the mark...

I agree with Rex. Comments on comments: B double O, double R ing, except for @Bill from NJ.

Final note: Gene Berry, one of the stars of the TV show Name of the Game passed this year.

edith b 8:27 PM  

I always like Trip's puzzles because they have both the solvers and constructors perspective.

Whenever we have a puzzle whose theme depends upon pronounciation it always seems to provoke a debate surrounding regional differences in pronounciation and it is refreshing to see that debate did not materialize.

retired_chemist 9:04 PM  

You get a different one each time, of course. My last 3 have been:

panol - (chemist's in joke) the universal alcohol.

myoit - the oit I particularly have.

wrazazed (my personal favorite) - can't think of a good definition. Anybody?

hibleup, videmo also appeared.

Elaine 9:13 PM  

Wow. A lot seems to have happened since my last check-in.
@Edith... I think there was someone early on who did not get that "werd" would be the phonetic equivalent of "ward," but it did not seem as if anyone took that up.

Looks like the day got tough.

Wrazazed? are you sure you typed that correctly? How about "teased mercifully with gift-paper?"
Hey, for ME, it is late! See you at 1:30 A.M.

Okay, later!

Ulrich 9:28 PM  

Just back from NYC and my second visit to the--spectacular IMO--Bauhaus exhibition at MOMA.

@Clark, mac et al. here goes : The German "w" is always pronounced like English "v". The English "w" does not exist in German--the famous tong-twister for Germans is to pronounce "Wolverhampton Wanderers"--even I can do this only very slowly. The problem comes with the "v", which can be English "f" or "v". The basic rule is this: In words that have a Germanic origin, like the prefix "ver" for verbs, the "v" is pronounced like English "f" [acme--years ago--volunteered this joke: what comes between German "fear" (vier--4) and "sex" (sechs--6)? Answer: fünf (5)!] In words imported from other, esp. Romanesque, languages, "v" is pronounced like English "v"--example: Vase (vase), but also Vishnu...

Anonymous 9:38 PM  

MsCarrera: Rappers sample other music in their raps. No mistake.

Jesse 10:16 PM  

While it's technically possible to run OSX in an EMU(lator), it's a practice Apple frowns upon. I'm happy to see that Rex only jokes about it in his prose writeup and not in the ever-sacred grid.

retired_chemist 10:38 PM  

gralsc - almost my favorite Netherlands beer....

re wrazazed - nice one, @Elaine.

I'll stop now.

lit.doc 10:56 PM  

@Elains re your @Edith, I think that would probably be me. Yes, thanks, phonetically, werd = "word". File my rant under sleep-deprived, hungover language geek. :)

Ooh, ooh, my wavy word is "menweedl". What are we to make of thaaat?

Tinbeni 11:18 PM  

I am about to do the NYT online for the 1st time and under the influence of, hmmm could it be Scotch.
You seem to be OK at this with your libation of choice, but if I type my 'werds' incorrectly, I will blame you.
If I get the munchies, I will have an apple or banana.

lit.doc 11:26 PM  

@Tinbeni, best of luck. Under duress (threat of Tomorrow being more than just a rumor) I'm gonna go watch Jon Stewart on DVR and hit the sack. Thursday NYT, hmmm. Be prepared for anything. Look forward to reading your report.

And hey, I've been married. More than once. I'm prepared to accept complete blame for anything. :)

Sfingi 11:50 PM  

New words - wedeln (SKI), EPOPEE, OSX (MAC), Kailua (OAHU).

Didn't understand theme. Solved puzzle after Googling 5: Kailua, cupping, "Wicked Game," Russell Crowe, "Gong Show." Notice - mostly lowbrow pop, but I do need to learn more about Hawaii, birthplace of Prez.

@Anon - tomorrow's another day, but when I have to multi-Google on Wed., I tend not to buy the NYT Thurs. Not to worry USA Today is Wed. every day.

MEAN for stingy is old-fashioned.

@Ulrich - My g'pa Fritz couldn't pronounce "squirrel."
Also, ist Wendeln supposed to be sexy, or what?

@Steve - there was once a bar in E. Herkimer called the Wunder Bar.

Many great informational comments.

sanfranman59 12:01 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 6:47, 6:54, 0.98, 51%, Medium
Tue 8:56, 8:47, 1.02, 60%, Medium
Wed 10:54, 12:01, 0.91, 27%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:39, 3:40, 1.00, 54%, Medium
Tue 4:28, 4:29, 0.99, 54%, Medium
Wed 5:45, 5:55, 0.97, 48%, Medium

Unknown 12:35 AM  

Anyone else notice that Arte made the puzzle on his b-day? Nice touch!

Singer 11:47 AM  

So I go on vacation and the blogsite has a nice new look, but the useful link to syndication is gone! Now I have to look at the number of the puzzle and go to archives to read the blog - yikes.

Two comments - I agree that the word "phonetically" should have been left out of the theme revealer and contralto is a voice range that is not limited to opera. Other than that, easy puzzle for a Wednesday - the blog and tracking down the link to the past took way more time than the puzzle, and was more fun.

Singer 11:59 AM  

Rex, sorry - I found the link to syndication at the top. No worries!

MikeinSTL 8:48 AM  

My misread stumble of the day: I read "OS X forerunner" so I was thinking, hmmm, wasn't it Puma or something like that? (Or OS IX?)

Charles Bogle 12:50 PM  

Going on Day 5 w/out power etc here in the "Gold Coast" of CT, nary an electric crew in sight, still no school for our now ten year old St. Patrick's Day birthday boy....well, I was hoping for some mirth, some joy, some glee upon finishing this indeed challenging puzzle. Instead, it was just another pain

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