Unfermented grape juice / SUN 1-10-10 / Turkish honchos / Epicurus Democritus philosophically / Bobbin of Oz books

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Constructor: Mel Rosen

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "CROSS WORDS" — 9 two-word theme answers (arranged symmetrically) whose two words cross at their centers

Word of the Day: STUM (33A: Unfermented grape juice)

# (n.) Wine revived by new fermentation, reulting from the admixture of must.
# (v. t.) To renew, as wine, by mixing must with it and raising a new fermentation.
# (n.) Unfermented grape juice or wine, often used to raise fermentation in dead or vapid wines; must. (thinkexist.com)

Please don't ask me to define "must," as I just don't care.


Slightly tougher than usual, if only because of the corners — esp. the NE corner — which are quite wide open and somewhat tough to get into. I do not recognize — possibly because I am too young yet — either PARTIAL DENTURE or CALCIUM BLOCKER. Well, I've heard of the former, though I thought it was just called a "partial." The latter, new to me. Also never heard the term PRAIRIE PROVINCE, though it was highly inferrable. The NE was the real bear here, and not least because it contained an actual Bear — 14D: Chicago Bears coaching legend George (Halas). The Bear was actually the one gimme up there. The ambiguous "plate" clue on the DENTURE kept it invisible, and much of the rest of the stuff up there could have been Anything. Had PET for PAL (22D: Close one). Considered THONGS for SHADES (13A: Some beachwear). Did not quite trust ESTIMATED for 17D: In round figures — seems like "round" could be the condition of an *actual* figure. And STUM — yikes. I thought I had an error there. Completely new to me. ELANTRA managed to get me some traction up there, and slowly it all came together. I thought I was going to blaze through the puzzle at first, as I went from NW straight through the middle with no resistance; but the remaining corners held me up but good. As for quality — I don't know. I didn't find this terribly exciting. The theme is purely physical / spatial — answers have nothing inherently in common. Kind of a bust in that way. Theme answers don't involve memorable phrases or cleverness. Just meh for me, overall.

Theme answers:

  • 26A: With 4-Down, alternative to free enterprise (planned / economy)
  • 24A: With 10-Down, stopover (motor / hotel) — yeah, here in America we call them "motels."
  • 28A: With 16-Down, certain plate (partial / denture)
  • 55A: With 45-Down, about 29 1/2 days (lunar / month) — easiest of the bunch. Flat gimme.
  • 67A: With 47-Down, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta (prairie / provinces)
  • 83A: With 70-Down, skilled lawyer (legal / eagle) — in the plural, a fine '80s movie starring Robert Redford and Debra Winger, and featuring the Rod Stewart single "Love Touch"

  • 110A: With 91-Down, hypertension control option (calcium / blocker)
  • 114A: With 95-Down, meteorological post (weather / station)
  • 118A: With 104-Down, utility gauge (water / meter)
Did this puzzle during the tail end of the rather dismal Bengals / Jets games. Aside from a couple of really sweet trick plays and a great run by Bengals back Cedric Benson, the game was kind of disappointing, though I'm really happy for winning Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, whom I like for reasons I don't quite understand. The Eagles / Cowboys game is on now, as I write this, and I'm hoping that one's more interesting. Anyway, I'm not sure if solving on the couch after a beer while a game is playing on the nearby TV has anything to do with my slightly slower-than-avg. time. Maybe. You know who really wants to be in a crossword? Jets left tackle D'BRICKASHAW Ferguson. Look at him. You better put him in your crossword. You wouldn't like him when he's angry. Either him, or the insanely named LAVERANUES (pronounced La-VERN-ee-us) Coles, wide receiver for the Bengals.


  • 47A: President who took office in 1946 (Peron) — the puzzle knows that when you see "president," you assume "U.S." at first.
  • 78A: Dulciana, for one (organ stop) — just ... a total mystery. ORGAN STOPs have names? That I'm supposed to know? OK.
  • 96A: Leader of a musical "gang" (Kool) — had me thinking Jets / Sharks. Shouldn't Kool's Gang be capitalized?
  • 103A: Epicurus and Democritus, philosophically (atomists) — ATOMISM is the theory that man can shrink himself to incredibly small sizes and then fight crime.
  • 113A: Old car similar to a Malibu (Alero) — "Old" ... I don't know. "Bygone," sure.
  • 1D: Potter professor Severus ___ (Snape) — gimme. Really surprised SNAPE doesn't appear more often, given its juicy common letters.
  • 11D: Coats with a protective oxide (anodizes) — if you are going to shrink yourself to fight crime, this process is a must (not to be confused with #@%*ing STUM).
  • 13D: Challenge for the wheelchair-bound (step) — this clue is odd. Seems either / or — either the step is small and you can go up / down it no problem, or it's big and someone has to help you. So not really a "challenge." Unless you mean "impediment" or "obstacle." I think I don't like how this clue is making me think of someone stuck at the base of a STEP going "WTF? Where's my damned ramp!? Little help!" Also not fond of the "-bound" part. Why not [Challenge for wheelchair user] or [... one in a wheelchair]?
  • 35D: Gel made from seaweed (agar) — gimme.
  • 48D: The Belvedere ___ (Vatican sculpture) (torso) — never heard of it. Looks like this:
[oddly gruesome]
  • 62D: ___ Bobbin of the Oz books (Betsy) — again, never heard of her. I'm in the middle of Eric Shanower's marvelous adapation of "The Marvelous Land of Oz" (published by Marvel, of course) right now (two of the eight total issues have been published). His complete adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz" is in bookstores now and well worth a look.
  • 74D: Tasted, biblically (ate of) — this clue reads dirty to me.
  • 93D: Paul Anka or Dan Aykroyd, by birth (Ottawan) — huh. Interesting.
  • 108D: Old "Tonight Show" starter ("Here's...") — like it.
  • 112D: Baseball great who's Bonds's godfather (Mays) — probably should specify BARRY Bonds, as Barry's dad, Bobby Bonds, was also a great baseball player.

And now your Tweets of the Week — puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:

  • AviGeee Loss of smartphone = debilitating. Loss of constant access to nyt crossword puzzles = disabling.
  • RachelImogenGW awake listening to music while mother does the times crossword. how fucking middle class is that?
  • bennedeto Tom Hammond had a crossword puzzle in front of him, in the booth there. #Bengals #Jets
  • Crosscan Sunday NYT Crossword may cure insomnia. I almost fell asleep in the middle of solving.
  • lucyinglis This the life: bed, with a large nightcap, a small dog and the crossword. Rock. And. Roll.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


OldCarFudd 11:31 PM  

I generally agree with Rex on this one. Easyish, not memorable. I knew prairie provinces (I spent a couple of years in Canada as a kid)and partial denture (I'm 73) but not calcium blocker (I don't need one, at least not yet), so the SW wast last to fall.

Wanna start a conspiracy theory? 82A, clued "Gigi star", is Caron. On Friday's WSJ puzzle by Randolph Ross, who I presume is not Mel Rosen under another name, 104A, clued "Maurice's 'Gigi' co-star", is Leslie. How likely is that to be random?

Noam D. Elkies 11:45 PM  

i MUST point out that STUM and (this sense of) MUST are both anagrams and synonyms. And completely mysterious to me, as were not just one but both "coaching legends" 14D:HALAS and 101D:DITKA (whaddeva — at least that Ditka name rang a bell, though "ringing one's bell" is an unfortunate image in this concussion-aware age).

As for the puzzle — the theme feels constructionally undemanding (there must be tons of phrases consisting of words of 5, 7, or in one case 7 and 9 letters whose middles coincide), so it's hard to believe that one must resort to "Calcium blocker" (usually "calcium channel blocker") and "partial denture" (my dictionary knows that one, I don't) and put a random-looking phrase like "prairie province" front and center. Besides the already-noted NE, the region just SE of the center felt particularly ugly, what with 75A:ANNMARIE, 82A:CARON, and 63D:ERMAS on the one hand and 68D:ERODENT on the other.

Too bad about those prominent warts, because there was much to like elsewhere in the grid — yes, including 78A:ORGANSTOP (indeed they have names, some risible enough to inspire collections of parody organ-stop names, e.g. this Google hit (near the bottom)).

Was 54A:H intentionally clued as the subatomic particle to match nearby 52A:WINO (which is also the name of a hypothetical subatomic particle)?


Phil 11:57 PM  

The game must have been a bigger distraction than you thought, this one will probably come down as easy.

@OCF - You want a conspiracy? I browsing my local Borders today, and picked up IF ON A WINTER'S NIGHT A TRAVELER by Calvino, thinking that I've filled his name in puzzles in so often I probably should read some of his work. The book opens his telling the reader that they're reading his book, they should get comfortable, tell the family in the next room to keep it down, sit in his favorite chair, put his feet up, or not, as is most comfortable, on and on about getting in the mood to read the book. My wife gets upset when she hears me laughing, saying "You SOB - why didn't you tell me to walk the dog before I start!" because, of course, my dog was pestering me for a walk as I was trying to read. Only to have him show up at 57A.

miriam b 11:59 PM  

I don't think a partial denture = a plate. My impression (pun intended) is that a full denture - upper or lower - is a plate, while a partial is a bridge. Dental professionals, please comment.

This puzzle was teedjus. Not difficult, just really annoying.

Noam D. Elkies 1:22 AM  

...on the other hand, my computer's mouse loves 68D:ERODENT...

Jeffrey 1:56 AM  

What Crosscan said.

chefwen 2:14 AM  

Liked the puzzle but it took me forever to finish. Might blame the Mango Cheesecake I was baking or the the weeks worth of dog food I was cooking. It seemed tedious but I was happy when I finally entered TAPES ON instead of tacks on at 21A to finish the whole thing.

Loved Saturdays puzzle, wanted to comment but was too busy getting ready for more incoming freezing mainlanders.

lit.doc 2:28 AM  

@NDE, great advance in particle physics with your discovery of the wino! Is it composed of "mellow" quarks?

@miriam b, your e-rodent is brilliant. Think "copyright".

Would feel better about critiquing the puzz if that freaking red 99:59 hadn’t been glaring at me, and I hadn’t given up and run to Rex with nine blank squares and I-won’t-even-count-them errors.

@Rex re 110A/91D CALCIUM BLOCKER, I first encountered the term in the early ‘80s when a friend was participating in a clinical study of drugs used to bring people back from acid trips. And me too with extreme prejudice re MOTOR HOTEL. Puhleeez. Gave me fits.

Abbreviated postmortem as follows. NE disaster. HANGS UP. IN TWO. All nine blank squares. Ack. Might have gotten the palindromic MHO were it not for RICK James’s eponymous ____ Gang band. Astonishingly, to me, OTOES fell on the page reflexively. But no help, as I mispeled OTTOWAN. A “Relaxation site” is a SPA. Wrong, but true. SLICKLY did not go gentle into that good bit bucket in SW. And, in SE, I was sure that the trumpeter Doc Severinsen was Carson’s bandleader, not Al HIRT_. Imagine my consternation.

But a big round of applause for Mel Rosen for calling attention to the fact that Democritus (and, in whatever degree, his predecessors) figured out the basic model for the physical system of which we are a part some twenty-five centuries ago. And for thoroughly kicking my ass with his puzzle.

BTW, why couldn’t this have happened yesterday, instead, when I was expecting it?

lit.doc 2:31 AM  

@Crosscan, brilliant, albeit circular!

andrea carla michaels 3:11 AM  

Yikes, what the heck is going on with this constant Nike Spam of late and what happened to the poor Korean brides looking for love?

I don't do Sundays but just wanted to chime in since I got here sort of too late for Saturday and I want to start a grassroot movement urging Wade to write a novel that takes place exactly during the 16 days of IKE.
I think it would be the best thing EVER.

Steve J 3:25 AM  

I'm pretty sure MOTOR/HOTEL was last used sometime back when J Edgar Hoover was crusading against them for being dens of cross-dressing white men, or something. Which would put us c. 1938.

Had the exact same troubles as Rex in the NE (down to wanting to put in THONGS), but for whatever reason it was the SE that was completely impenetrable to me. Pretty much literally, as when I got close to finishing, everything was filled in except for a chasm of white space. The white space existed because I finally cleared out CRASH for "Action film staple"; once I did that, and CHASE became one of those head-slap moments, the puzzle finally fell to completion. About average time for me, but with not much particularly memorable. Although I did rather like "Thunderbird enthusiast" for WINO.

And Rex, you weren't the only one who thought "Tasted, biblically" read dirty. Got a snicker from me every time I ran past that clue.

CoolPapaD 4:21 AM  

Missed you all the past few days! Before I go on, I must say congrats to Corgi for a fun Wed, and am still blown away by Thursday.

This one was easy for me (in comparison). Though I did not like GO TO SLEEP and GO TO SEA, there was a lot to like. I enjoyed the theme- refreshing change of pace from the "add-a-letter to make it whacky" puzzles.

Why does it seem DDE - ETO is in the puzzle at least once a week?

Am I the only one who isn't fond of SETting money BY for my kids' educations? And wouldn't NO SCORE actually be the absence of love?

JenCT 7:39 AM  

Agree with the Meh factor for this puzzle. Didn't like STEP for wheelchair challenge, or STUM, or FITS for Is Snug (if something's snug on me, then it's too tight). Loved HERE'S for Old Tonight Show Starter.

DvN 7:54 AM  

Tending to wash out: erodent? I thought an erodent was an online rat.
And crabby is surly, not crabbed.

Mike Lewis 8:04 AM  

This puzzle = meh for me. My time was killed on my insistence on spelling it OttOwan. But I also didn't really care for STEP and MISSTEP in the same grid, as well as SRS/SRTAS, ETO/ETA, and (to a lesser extent) DES/CES.

That, coupled with my insomnia after a fight with my daughter, made this a less-than-satisfying solve for me.

miriam b 8:06 AM  

@lit.doc: Thanks for the compliment, but it was NOTI who posted something brilliant on the topic of ERODENT. I merely quibbled about DENTal restorations and denigrated the puzzle in a somewhat SURLY manner.

chefbea 8:12 AM  

Found this pretty easy. No googling. Just looked up a couple of words in the dictionary.

Weren't we talking about etuis the other day?

MsCarrera 8:17 AM  

@CoolPapaD - In tennis, if there is no score, it is referred to as love. However, I like your interpretation of the clue.

SusanMontauk 8:33 AM  

For once I had the same problem area as Rex. I knew calcium blockers because both my parents have been on blood pressure medicine for years and I consider it my duty to keep up to date with what I think they should be doing. Not that they listen to me, they do whatever the doctor says.

This seems the kind of puzzle where the constructor had an idea that was amusing to follow through on. For the solver, not so much.

Fitzy 8:57 AM  

Bobby Bonds and Willie Mays were teammates & very close friends, hence Mays being asked to serve as Barry Bonds' godfather... the Belvedere Torso served Michelangelo (and others I assume) as an important model upon which he based many of his works..."gruesome" or not, it is a pretty important piece.

Squeek the Erodent 8:58 AM  

Count me in for Wade's Ike novel.

lit.doc 9:24 AM  

@miriam b, sorry about the miscreditation (is that a word?) of e-rodent. First post on that was, indeed @NDE (directly beneath your early post). Don't drink and post...

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

I hated calcium blocker. Being a physician, the class of medications are calcium-channel blockers, not calcium blockers.

joho 9:39 AM  

What Rex's write up said.

Just kept plodding along with no zip in my pen, no song in my heart.

NE definitely the thorniest. I wanted curb for STEP too long.

I've heard of beta blockers but not CALCIUM BLOCKERS. I agree MOTOR/HOTEL is a groaner.

Oy, meh!

k1p2 9:48 AM  

As with many others the NE was the last to fall.

Didn't like this puzzle since I don't like the "With" clues in general.

Smitty 9:48 AM  

@Chefwen I had TAPES ON too. Correct answer was TAPES UP, giving the cross PAL (didn't notice til I came here)

I thought this puzzle was just about right for Sunday. I enjoyed it (along with the usual nitpicks)

I'm glad Rex didn't think ALERO was old, that would make me carbon dated.

Dave in California 9:53 AM  

Lunar month is defined as the time between two syzygies--and syzygy appeared in the puzzle earlier in the week? Now THAT only happens once in a blue moon.

ee cummings 10:01 AM  

Sloan’s McSorley’s makes it sixth entry in recent NYT puzzles. McSorley’s is a time capsule place. Turkey and Cheddar sandwiches are still inexpensive. Have some with Hot Mustard. Remember Be Good or Be Gone.

I was sitting in mcsorley's. outside it was New York and beautifully snowing.
Inside snug and evil. the slobbering walls filthily push witless creases of screaming warmth chuck pillows are noise funnily swallows swallowing revolvingly pompous a the swallowed mottle with smooth or a but of rapidly goes gobs the and of flecks of and a chatter sobbings intersect with which distinct disks of graceful oath, upsoarings the break on ceiling-flatness……(Link to Poem)

Elaine 10:49 AM  

Like many, the NE had me sitting for a while. Some obviously ATE OF the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, what with the THONGS. I had SIB, then SIS, for PAL. Hubby helped with HALAS, but failed to assist with "Hyundai models." Had to get ELANTRA on my own! I thought ESTIMATED was a gimme-- if you use round numbers, you are estimating.

My husband, a long-time wine-maker, has NEVER heard of STUM. I thought it might be an error, so I was glad to come upstairs and find I had a lot of company. Plainly, STUM only comes into play if wine-making has been of the poorest quality!

And "Wheelchair-bound:" if you use your car to speed up an errand, are you "automobile-bound?" Maybe that depends on your commute.... Very un-PC and well as inaccurate! Tsk, Will!

On with the show!

David 10:57 AM  

A decent Sunday puzzle - nice to do while watching CBS's 'Sunday Morning." The simple pleasures of life....

A "conductance unit?" The 'OHM" I started with then flipped itself, a new piece of knowledge. But gosh, OMSK just had to be right.

A Capriote 11:02 AM  

Daughter's 7th birthday party sleep over with 4 girlfriends plus my 3 year old son running around.....I Googled.... a lot.

imsdave 11:21 AM  

I had TACKSUP at first.

uh... nothing else to say. Crosscan said said it best.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

@anonymous, I am also a physician (retired), and always heard those medicines referred to as CALCIUM BLOCKERs. It may depend on what part of the country one lives in, or how old you are (I'm 80). That and PLANNED ECONOMY were the easy ones for me.
I found the theme idea of Cross Words kind of cute, and the discovery of the theme was easier than some Sundays.
I enjoyed the puzzle, but it took a fair amount of googling, especially for the Chicago Bears. I can hardly bear athletic references.

retired_chemist 11:25 AM  

OK puzzle - medium, but harder
than that for me since I do not enjoy cross-referential cluing. In the end I admired the symmetries of the theme answers and the skill it took to find and use them.

Hand up for FETSY Bobbin and FLEW OVER as an uncaught error.

@ miriam b - a partial denture is different from a bridge. The denture is a removable plate, partial if natural teeth remain and full otherwise. The bridge is nonremovable, replaces one or two teeth typically, and is anchored to adjacent teeth.

MHO is indeed the inverse of OHM, both in physics and in wordplay. Physicists do indeed nave a sense of humor.

So do mathematicians - huge props to NDE for E-RODENT.

bookmark 11:33 AM  

The NE was the last to go for me. I, too, think ESTIMATED was wrongly clued.

My first theme answer was LEGAL EAGLE. For a while, I thought all theme crosses would be anagrams.

On a barge trip in Provence a few years ago, we stopped in Avignon on the RHONE and visited the Palais des Papes, where seven popes resided during the 1300s. Remember "Sur le pont d'Avignon" from French class?

bookmark 11:40 AM  

@retired_chemist: Thanks for reminding me. I also had FETSY Bobbin and FLEW OVER. SKIMPY for some beachwear instead of SHADES stayed around too long, too.

slypett 12:00 PM  

Early on, admittedly, having difficulties. I said to whomever was listening (that wouldn't be my dog, who rarely listens to me), "This is no fun." And so it remained, right to the T in EST.

EST is a therapy? I always though of it as some kind of nutbag groupthink cashcow kind of thing.

miriam b 12:03 PM  

@r_c: Thanks for your clarification of dental restoration/prosthesis terminology. I stand corrected - shoulda kept my virtual mouth shut.

I just caught myself free-associating (again); thought of PDQ Bach's "Trance and Dental Êtudes."

Van55 12:11 PM  

I'm usually a paper and pen solver. Today I used AcrossLite, and I found the many cross-referenced clues to be a real annoyance in that format. So the theme was an irritant and not an appealing feature.

Forgettable puzzle for me. But thankfully it was free of most of the trite fill that irks me. Only one item of particular note: ISS for Magazine No. seems pretty lame.

Ulrich 12:18 PM  

For me, N. California was the hardest--everything else came relatively easy(ly?). I was in particular amazed how quickly the cross-canned answers came with just one or two letters in place. And @NDE, I like your explanation of why the puzzle is not that exciting.

@Squeek: I suggest we call the anonymice gnawing at this blog "erodents" from now on.

@OldCarFudd: Bless you! All this time, I thought I was the oldest in this crowd.

@bookmark: I do remember "sur le pont..." and sang it when I walked over that bridge.

mccoll 12:20 PM  

While there was little brilliance here it was a pretty good Sunday. I rate it medium at best. I had to google Halas and had no errors. The balance of Elektra and Elantra was nice as were the two Bears coaches.
@Steve_J There are Motor hotels on the Canadian Prairies. Hell, there's one in my town, but Canada is rather retro anyway.
@ee cummings Capital! Love it.
Thanks all

Elaine 12:27 PM  

Well, if one has a journal reference, it is necessary to have Vol. and Iss. no. I suppose it is slightly "specialized knowledge," but as most people have had to write at least one term paper in their lives, I think it's more obvious than many of today's clues: OHM/MHO, ATOMIST, and STUM, to name a few. Kind of on the same level as ESTIMATED/"in round figures," as I noted above.

Like you, I thought of EST as a big fad (though apparently less lethal than some--per recent "sweatlodge" news) and only wrote it in when forced to accept that it was the answer. Enjoyed your description!

ArtLvr 1:15 PM  

Meh, me too, and I thought it might be due to my solving in the dead-tree version (first time in ages) until I realized I'd have disliked it more online: too much jumping around for Crossed Words clues. Bah, two "coaching legends" in one puzzle also, even if I got everything with crosses.

I cheered up on reading Rex and all the amusing comments here, though @Bookmark should see that LEGAL EAGLE isn't an anagram, just a rhyme! And @Miriam B, as to PARTIAL DENTURE, I think I had one years ago just for night use right after my braces were removed, a pink plastic upper plate with metal attached to keep front teeth in place!

@noam, loved your e-rodent and WINO definition which might equally well be a WI-NOT, as it's hypothetical anyway? I also was reminded of Jane Langton's humerous mystery "Divine Inspiration", named for a new pipe organ's odd inclusion of a stop with DIV INSP on it.

@JenCT, I think you're right -- "is snug" sounds mainly like a polite way of saying that clothing FITS too tightly, but these zero nights it should work for a warm hat...

@e e cummings, many thanks for the McSorley's excerpt, but I'm glad I'd already had breakfast.

@chefwen, please share your recipe for mango cheesecake!


Meg 1:30 PM  

OK, I've consulted my 4 1/2 inch thick Webster's and "erodent" is not in it. It is, however, in some on-line dictionaries. Relatively new word? Made-up word? Do I ecare?

I did est (never uppercase) in the late 70's. I remember auditoriums filled with people and their pillows, and avoiding the use of BUT.

I had pretty much the same reaction to the puzzle as Rex. Lots of jumping around without much fun. BUT, I did learn about ATOMISTS, who did not invent ATOMIZERS.

jae 1:44 PM  

I found this on the easy side. Other than that, what imsdave said.

treedweller 2:12 PM  

A minute or two in, I had to talk myself into continuing. Finally got a little momentum and thought it was an okay puzzle. Gave up on the NE, after searching the corners of my brain for some kind of "ware" for the plate and how to make "thongs" work with crosses that had already proved it wrong. I kept thinking STUM would eventually turn into something familiar, but it never did.

Noam D. Elkies 2:22 PM  

Thanks to all who cheered "e-rodent". As for the hypothetical wino particle, that's not my invention, and — while I imagine the physicists who came up with appreciate the suggestion of subatomic boozing — the pronunciation rhymes not with "rhino" or "dino" but with "keno", "see no", "we know", and (more to the point) "neutrino". I do like ArtLvr's suggestion of "wi-not" even though it assumes "rhino" pronunciation.

84A:MHO (a.k.a. siemens) is a unit not of resistance (that's the ohm, symbol Ω=Omega) but of conductance, which is inverse resistance (hence the name and symbol ℧). There's even a measuring device called the mhometer, which showed up at a national spelling bee some years back.


Squeek the former erodent 2:22 PM  

@ Ulrich, I agree and will reluctantly give up my new title.
It was fun for a day but your idea works and I hope it catches on.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

Agree w/Miriam. It was annoying,
Last to fall was the NE as I don't know Halas (altho I had shades)
which would have helped.

Also, shouldn't it be crafty to clue slyness? A craft is a boat
or a hobby!

bookmark 2:30 PM  

Thanks @ArtLvr: You're right. No anagram, just a rhyme. I need to slow down before I think... and write.

Lon 2:33 PM  


Mango cheesecake? and cooking for the dog!? Where do you live and can I visit?

Joe in Montreal 2:49 PM  

retired chemist: I had FLEW OVER resulting in FLETSY.
I question 85 across. I have heard of Easter bunnies, but not Easter rabbits. And the bunnies have nothing to do with DYE; that would be Easter eggs.

Steve J 3:15 PM  

Re the snug/fit mini-debate: while some things don't fit if they're snug, snug is an appropriate for certain articles in order for them to fit. Such as a fitted sheet or a wetsuit.

Forgot to comment in my post last night about how I found it odd that there were three football-related answers for no discernible reason. At first I thought that was somehow going to tie into a theme or be timely (the NFL playoffs started this weekend), but it turned out to be a random oddity.

Doc John 3:23 PM  

I also agree with Rex's "meh" assessment of this puzzle. The crossings could have been any two words and especially not fond of CALCIUM BLOCKER. As previously mentioned, they're calcium channel blockers. Big difference.
Interesting bit of synchronicity in the puzzle, though. Just last night I was thinking of That Girl and specifically, ANN MARIE, and here it is in the puzzle today. Oh Donald!

Doc John 3:23 PM  

And Fletsy seemed like a perfectly good name to me, too!

SueRohr 3:30 PM  

@retired chemist - I also had flew over and fetry. I actually thought the northeast was easy but struggled in the southwest. How is crabbed surly? Shouldn't it be crabby? Also wanted age instead of all for 111 down and one unfortunate thing led to another.
I did not like this puzzle at all. Found it tedious and not very clever. By the time I was done I was ready to go to sleep or go to sea or growl use a noose.

SueRohr 3:31 PM  

Sorry - last sentence should be growl or use a noose

Anonymous 3:32 PM  

I NEVER don't finish puzzles, but I was so bored by this I just never attempted to get past an initial stall. After doing the top 2/3 and realizing there was no theme to go after (unrelated words that cross...in a CROSSWORD PUZZLE...how exciting), I figured it wasn't worth the effort. This puzzle was worse than 'meh.' Also, just to repeat what's already been posted...they're calcium *channel* blockers. Boo. Here's hoping for a better week of puzzles than last week's (except the amazingly-themed but clued-too-hard Thursday).

Elaine 3:34 PM  

@Joe of Montreal
Joe, Joe, Joe. What're we gonna do with you? In the US of A, the synonyms of "bunny" are many, including "rabbit." And in the (admittedly small) mythology of the Easter Bunny, the Bunny dyes the eggs, then brings them and cleverly hides candies and said eggs in the yards of deserving children. Providing that the squirrels/possums/raccoons do not discover the treats first and have a veritable orgy of chocoholism, children have an Easter Egg Hunt.

Oh, and here is a true story of one visit to a Toronto grocery store: amongst the variety of fresh meats were several packages labeled: "Peter Rabbit" and "Bunny-Wunny." Thus we see that in at least parts of Canada, the terms are interchangeable. And that butchers do have a certain sense of humor.

Three and out,

chefwen 3:49 PM  

@Smitty - You wanna meet me new BFF NAL. Didn't even look at the downs. DOH!

@ArtLvr - I can fax you a copy.

@Lon - Kauai and of course you may visit, you'd love it here.

dk 3:53 PM  

Brother in law and I considered purchasing both a motor lodge and a motor court, never a motor motel (cue psycho theme). One was in Midcoast Maine (Blue Hill) and the other Pahoa. The plan was to fix up the cabins add high speed access, great food/wine, fun things to do (e.g., sea kayak) and market them to people who just want to hide out for a few weeks.... way, way to much red tape. NERTS, I really wanted to tell a guest "Mothers not herself today."

Like Andrea (boy do I ever), I am not a Sunday solver but saw it was Mel's so....

My one other nit is an ALERO is not an old car. An AMC Pacer is almost old, Desoto oldish -- well ya git my point.

Listened to football on the radio last night (a first) as a few of us drove back from Northern MN (real cold). I cannot believe firm's sponsor pass plays and scoring drives. "This first down is brought to you by".... jeez louise.

But I do have to say the Eagles defensive strategy (elected to kick-off as they planned to get a turn-over) was just about as effective as Time Warner's purchase of AOL -- pride does goeth* before the fall.

* note: not sure of the spelling of goeth.

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

I have been waiting in vain for someone to comment on the use of nerts meaning darn it. Is this crosswordese or American slang or what?

Anonymous 5:01 PM  

Re anagrams MHOS and OHMS, be wary also of MOHS (an eponymous scale of mineral hardness -- there is no MOH), which makes its way into puzzles too often.

Larry the lurking Cal (not Chicago, despite this puzzle) Bear

WARNING: Sports or Cal-Bear haters stop here!


After a dreadful football bowl-game loss, now on to NCAA men's basketball. Cal started its Pac-10 Conference season with home games against the three other California schools: a blowout of archrival Stanfurd (much enjoyed in person by me, family and friends), an inexplicable one-point loss to struggling UC cousin UGLA, then a satisfying win against U$C, the University of $poiled Children (now under severe and worsening sanctions as their long-term addiction to paying their players is revealed).

We'll get another chance at them soon, in their own lairs.


Anonymous 5:08 PM  

Too many things going on today to really concentrate on this one, but did learn some things:

Conductance is measured in MHOs; impedence is measured in OHMS. They're opposites.

Prairie Provinces- hadn't ever heard of them and didn't know Canada had prairies that far north and west.

Also, used the words MOTOR HOTEL for the first time. Has anyone ever used that phrase since the 1950s? (or even before)

@CoolPapaD- I don't set by for the future either

Joe in Montreal 5:20 PM  

Elaine: thanks, I didn't know the mythology of Peter Rabbit dyeing the eggs itself. I did know about Peter Rabbit, but I thought idiom required Easter Bunny or Peter Rabbit, not admitting of mixing the two.
tptseve - having lived on the Prairies for many years, I would guess that Canada has mostly prairies, and is mostly even more 'that far north and west'.

PlantieBea 5:33 PM  

Meh, kind of boring puzzle. It took a couple of sittings to get this one done and I ended with an error of RHO for the units of conductance. Why can't I remember Russian cities? A few of the clues and answers were snazzy--NERTS, ORGAN STOP, BE MY GUEST, MHO, but much of it just seemed off or just plain not interesting. I started last night, but was bored and annoyed with the crossing answers. Almost didn't finish. Back to the Pack.

fergus 6:10 PM  

... the former E-RODENT, who isn't a mouse ... funny

Thought Rex would rate this easier, but maybe my thought hang-ups were processed in 3rd down plays?

The only two Clues I circled were Thuderbird enthusiast? (? ?) and a real question about ANTI-ART. Sketchy fo those of us who wanted DADA, but I think Ducamp might have tanslated it into non-art, not against.

Not a fan of cross-referent Clues, but this puzzle was OK.

mac 6:36 PM  

This puzzle felt a little old to me, with the sports clues and ex-cars and lots of names of people I never heard of. Still got the thing with only one helpful hint: Hales. Ditka I wrote down without crosses (ate at his restaurant once).

Write-overs: Beate for Bella, Speedo for shades, Nehru (actually Neruh) for Peron and silkily for sleekly.

I also ended in the NE corner, and it occurred to me that the on-line solvers must have found it tedious to go back and forth to clues and answers with the crossing theme answers. I absolutely expected a Simpson theme on this day of celebration (isn't it?).

Why oh why did I know that biblical "ate of"?? Liked the organ stop and atomists, feel snug is too tight, and will give up the anonymice for erodents.

@Ulrich: not even close.

@JenCT: you coming to Westport on Feb. 6?

@Wade: write, Wade, write.

Somebody please help out the man about NERTS, I would like to know too.

Anonymous 6:37 PM  

Omsk dropped in for me as we had a geography board game as a child and Tomsk and Omsk were two amusingly named cities in Russia

General Anthony McAuliffe 7:09 PM  

I said NUTS, not NERTS

joeyshapiro 7:28 PM  

what does swags have to do with festoons?

Anonymous 7:52 PM  

i know its late to comment on this but as a dentist, my patients routinely refer to full dentures and partial dentures , both removable, as "plates".. i didnt like calcium blockers, calcium channel blockers

edith b 8:12 PM  

When two of your theme answers are WATER/METER and the unrelated MOTOR/HOTEL, bland doesn't even begin to describe it.

I also flirted with THONGS for beachwear but rejected it as a bit too risque for the Old Gray Lady. And to use a word like enthusiast to describe a person so uncharatibly referred to as a WINO seems just wrong to me. I'm just saying.

chefbea 8:15 PM  

@mac etal nerts = nuts

fergus 8:28 PM  

I second Joey's question.

Warning = sport enthusiasm. If one would care to take an interest in American Football, watch the second half of the Arizona-Green Bay game played this afternoon.

Once a jolly swagman sat beside a billabong?

Glitch 8:28 PM  


Swags: A pair of triangular side panels that is similar to a valance... it is draped from one corner to the opposite...

Festoon: ... This window treatment style is similar to a valance... it is draped from one corner to the opposite ...


e-Rodent 23 8:44 PM  

OOOh, Glitch....you know SO much about decorating!.....

@fergus, \I think you have your answer, yes?

@Joe in Canada
Oh, dear. We'll never be able to get this straight, and I see Elaine has used up her credits! Peter RABBIT and BUNNY-wunny were interchangeable terms, you see? Not that Peter (of Beatrix Potter fame) Rabbit had anything to do with....oh, never mind.

Happily, Monday is just a few hours away!

Glitch 9:18 PM  

@e-Rodent 23 said:

"OOOh, Glitch....you know SO much about decorating!....."

Not really, (and my wife will agree), but harbor Wiki and Google as less than authoritive.

My citations always delve deeper.


mac 9:41 PM  

I guess an e-rodent is still only an anonymouse....

Retired_Chemist 9:43 PM  

@ David and any Harvard mathematicians still on the blog - recall the Tom Leherer song, Nikolai Ivanovitch Lobachevsky, which goea in part:

"I have a friend in Minsk,
Who has a friend in Pinsk,
Whose friend in Omsk
Has friend in Tomsk
With friend in Akmolinsk.
His friend in Alexandrovsk
Has friend in Petropavlovsk,
Whose friend somehow
Is solving now
The problem in Dnepropetrovsk."

Sarah 9:59 PM  

"Dulciana"? Oy. Never in a million years would I have got ORGANSTOP. Never. ELEKTRA was a really nice blast from the past, though (kept thinking "Arista, until I got the "A" of MAYS). The criss-crosses were cute, but too forced. Not nearly as fun as last Sunday.

OldCarFudd 10:33 PM  

@Retired_Chemist - I was a math major (not at Harvard) and remember Tom Lehrer's songs well and fondly. Although I preferred "Be Prepared" and "Rickety-Tickety-Tin", since the words were easier to remember and the tunes were easier to sing.

@Fergus - I believe the jolly swagman camped by a billabong. My first wife came from Alice Springs, and I always enjoyed excuses to sing Waltzing Matilda, preferably after a stubby or two.

@DK - I'm with you! To me, an old car has brass trim and gas lamps, though I can appreciate anything before WWII and some cars built later. Aleros and such are just used cars. I refuse to recognize as an antique, any vehicle my children could lawfully have driven out of the showroom brand new!

Steve J 10:56 PM  

@edith b: MOTOR and HOTEL, while not terribly exciting, are related. In fact, that's where the word "motel" comes from.

And I'm laughing at Anon 3:32's faux amazement about how amazing it is to have words that cross each other in a crossword puzzle. That pointing out of the obvious makes me realize even more how weak this theme was.


I agree, the theme was pretty weak.

@Rex Thanks for the info...I've got to look into the Eric Shanower adapation of "The Marvelous Land of Oz". As a kid I read all those Baum books over and over... they were my favorite books. I still have the original 1904 edition as well as the other Baum books.

edith b 11:58 PM  

@Steve J-

I sorry I didn't make myself clearer as I was referring to the PAIR OF CLUES Water Meter and Motor Hotel being unrelated not the PAIR Motor and Hotel. I re-read my original post and can see how one could misconstrue what I meant.


NERTS is Brooklynese for NUTS. Not being a native speaker can be confusing at times.

slypett 12:06 AM  

Anonymous 4:30: Neither my "Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English" (Erich Partridge), nor my Web. II has 'nerts'. What does this mean? I means there is a niche in American English where words exist as 'cutisms', i.e. 'nerts' for 'nuts'.

We hope this clears up your problem. However, if you are still having trouble with your linguistic processing unit, please feel free to call our Customer Care line: 1-800-555-1212. Our motto is "Service, No Matter What It Costs".

Doug 12:44 AM  

Interesting Canadian link today was Anka/Tonight Show. Canadian Anka wrote Johnny's theme that played during McMahon's HERE'S Johnny intro. Like ABBA in Sweden, I think his royalties probably had a nice "ka ching!" in the Canadian GDP (jk, as I'm sure Anka doesn't recognize the income here...)

Also, Conan's theme was written by a Canadian, how about that?

As always, we remain,
Lurking Quietly Within Your Borders

lit.doc 2:54 AM  

@Doug, now I understand South Park's exhortation to "Blame Canada". ;-)

Tetu 5:45 PM  

/re "thongs", a mistake I started out with but for me it meant the shoes--flip-flops to be exact--not perfectly uncomfortable body wear

Michael A. Shea 7:19 PM  

I had HAIL for the musical gang for a while; thought the music was Hail, Hail, the gang's all here - and the leader of that lyric is Hail.

Having to know RHEO -stat and having to know that a measure of conductance is MHO (because it is the reverse of an OHM unit) is tough in the same part of the puzzle. And those electricity metric terms cross.

deerfencer 10:51 AM  

I'm with miriam d:


Just a dog of a puzzle IMO with no spark or inspiration.
Cluing was uninspired and hardly crisp.

"Certain plate" for PARTIAL DENTURES was the biggest stinker.

4 razzberries for this one.

TimeTraveller 3:41 AM  

Rex--55A is no gimmie when clued "about 291/2 days", as in the Vancouver Sun today (Jan 17). A gimmie is 67A PRAIRIE PROVINCES (thats where they have all those Motor Hotels.)
Intresting examples today of our two nations divided by a common language. In BC every other totem pole has a thunderbird on it--no connection to wine in our minds!
I liked the pairs/echos already noted--also 25A ELANTRA and 117A ELEKTRA.

Unknown 12:07 PM  

No fun in Chicago being a week behind - note to self re: Sunday NYT subscription - but I'll never stop crabbing about surly. So stubborn: somehow insisted that Dulciana was a silver/white haired woman (ARGENTTOP), which combined with FLEWOVER made FETTY a plausibly Baumistic way of saying Fatty, and when combined vertically with GETBY instead of SETBY (never heard of setting by, much better to sacrifice and get by to save money) gave an entirely plausible Russian city name of AMGK! Puzzle done! Made perfect sense to me!

Anonymous 3:05 PM  

Can someone please explain how crabbed can be surly?

slypett 3:21 PM  

Anonymous 3:05: 'Crabbed' and 'surly' are synonyms, per Webster's masterpiece. 'Crabbed' means "characterized by a peevish, morose or sour temper".

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

Yeah, like what Rex does all the time.

slypett 12:22 AM  

Anonymous 4:45: SOL (Smiling Out Loud).

Chick in Easton 2:33 AM  

@ fergus et al. Thunderbird is (was ?) a really cheap wine available in places such as convenience stores.

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