Conqueror of Northumbria in 946 /  SAT 2-13-10 / John who pioneered time-lapse photography / Like Old English coin worth 21 shillings

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Constructor: Ashish Vengsarkar

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "You and others" — second-person clues that result in CRUCIVERBALISTS, a CROSSWORD SOLVER, and the FRESH VOCABULARY they (allegedly) appreciate ...

Word of the Day: ZARF (1D: Cup holder)

A Zarf is a holder, usually of ornamental metal, for a coffee cup without a handle (demitasse or fincan). // Although coffee was probably discovered in Ethiopia, it was in Turkey at around the thirteenth century that it became popular as a beverage. As with the serving of tea in China and Japan, the serving of coffee in Turkey was a complex, ritualized process. It was served in small cups without handles (known as fincan), which were placed in holders known as zarf (from the Arabic word, meaning container, envelope) to protect the cup and also the fingers of the drinker from the hot fluid. Cups were typically made of porcelain, but also of glass and wood. However, because it was the holder that was more visible, it was typically more heavily ornamented. (wikipedia)
• • •

I'm usually not a fan of these winky, self-referential kinds of puzzles. They always come off as a little smug and self-congratulatory ("Aren't we all wonderful people for engaging in this wonderful hobby?"). But this puzzle as ZARF, which I may start using as a kind of "je ne sais quoi," the "X Factor" in a puzzle that makes it likable for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. ZARF almost single-handedly makes me admire this puzzle. It's a word so freakishly fantastic that it seems like it could only have come from some fabulous Seussian creation. And yet it's real. What's also real: RATEL (46D: Honey badger). As I was solving, I just stared at his answer. And stared. And stared, thinking, "That can't possibly be right..." Sounds like a pest control device: RAT + MOTEL = RATEL. These two oddities made the puzzle memorable. Otherwise, it was a decent but not exceptional walk in the park. Ooh, except for EDRED (29D: Conqueror of Northumbria in 946), which I had as a solid ESROD when I finished. Didn't read 34A: Like Cuba and Venezuela, e.g. closely enough, I guess — the "Like" should've clued me to an adjective, but I went with ALLIES. And then I misremembered BEL PAESE (39A: Mozzarella alternative) as BEL PAESO (the cheese best loved by practitioners of BEL CANTO?).

Theme answers:
  • 36A: You, e.g. (crossword solver)
  • 7D: You and others (cruciverbalists)
  • 20A: What 36-Across and 7-Down appreciate (fresh vocabulary)

Did not care for RIDE A STORM (3D: Endure difficulties, with "out") — way too long to be a non-stand-alone answer. Just looks silly sitting there, enormous but incomplete. Again today we had a pair of cross-referenced clues in the same little section, only today, it happened twice (NE and SW). ASIA (11D: It's west of the Sea of Okhotsk) / USSR (12D: Former part of 11-Down: Abbr.) pair was somewhat easier to figure out than the BEER (50D: Contents of a 56-Across) / STEIN (56A: 50-Down holder) pair, perhaps because the latter cross. Too many agcy abbrevs. for my taste today: ICC, NSA, OAS (23A: Charter of Punta del Este grp.) ... Not much else of note. I had IT SO for I TOO (6D: "Was ___ hard ...?").

  • 1A: 1968 hit musical with the song "Life Is" ("Zorba") — wanted ZORBA after the -BA dropped into place, but really, really could not allow myself to commit to the "Z" — ZARF!
  • 14A: "Caesar, now be still: / I kill'd not thee with half so good ___": Brutus ("a will") — the rhyme made this easy! No crosses needed. Note: these are the words that Brutus utters between running onto his sword (held by Strato) and dying. An oddly theatrical suicide.
  • 17A: One making waves in the news business? (radio journalist) — had the RADIO part early, but took a while to get the rest.
  • 21A: Gray and others (Asas) — I had TEAS at first.
  • 57A: John who pioneered time-lapse photography (Ott) — no idea. Luckily, it didn't matter. I never saw the clue. Checked to see if the OTT I had in place was MEL. It wasn't. But OTT seemed a reasonable name for ... someone. So I moved on.
  • 27D: Like an old English coin worth 21 shillings (five guinea) — yes, 21 goes into 5 very nicely. [Looks like the NYT botched the e-version of the puzzle yet again — in the paper, the clue reads (correctly) "105 shillings," not "21."]
  • 34D: It's sometimes seen in the corner of a TV screen: Abbr. (ASL) — maybe the cleverest clue of the day. ASL = American Sign Language. I wanted TV-G or ESP.
  • 43D: Singer profiled in "Sweet Dreams" (Cline) — 80s biopic that is very familiar to me. No problems here.
  • 45D: Holder of a "leaf-fringed legend," to Keats (urn) — the Grecian one that he's always nattering on about.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


treedweller 11:48 PM  

Another of those eerie write-ups that mirror my experience almost exactly. ZARF? really? I would never have left that in, except I couldn't see how it could be anything else.

Differences: After I decided BELPAESO was wrong, I tried BELPAESa before googling EDRED. I reflexively tossed in OVa and didn't know Rostand, so I was blindly guessing for CYRANO briefly. And I didn't know the biopic, but I did know the song, so CLINE was still autofill.

Otherwise, same exact experience.

Anonymous 12:03 AM  

Why Five guinea? 21 shillings was one guinea.

Colleen 12:05 AM  

Zarf! Just learned that a month ago when my daughter and I worked on a NYT crossword book over winter break. She even tweeted her annoyance over it. Ha!

14A makes me think of Tobias Menzies in HBO's Rome. He was pretty great in it.

Got EDRED quickly as I just finished reading "Queen Emma and the Vikings." Kind of dull but good for sorting out your Edreds from your Aethelreds and your Cnuts from your Harthacnuts.

I was always under the impression that 21 shillings was ONE guinea. Strong impression. But I guess wrong impression. Huh.

nanpilla 12:08 AM  

Another good puzzle! This one took me a little less time than yesterday, but The mid-atlantic area stumped me for quite some time. I had ELRED instead of EDRED, and just couldn't seem to figure out __LIEL as anything relating to Cuba or Venezuela. Once I took out the L, I was able to come up with ALLIED, then saw ASL and LOP (took me way too long to parse that as a verb).

ZARF sounds like a sci fi character. What a weird word for such a beautiful thing!

@Rex, your description of a RATEL was priceless.

Thought of you, chefwen, with the ALOHA and LUAUS.

My mom went to DREW U, so that was a gimme.

To anyone on the fence about the ACPT - GO! It's a lot of fun, even if you aren't a speed solver. Are we all going to meet somewhere? I met several of you last year, and I'm really looking forward to seeing many of you again.

The Bard 12:48 AM  

Julius Caesar > Act V, scene V

CLITUS: Fly, my lord, fly.

BRUTUS: Hence! I will follow.


I prithee, Strato, stay thou by thy lord:
Thou art a fellow of a good respect;
Thy life hath had some smatch of honour in it:
Hold then my sword, and turn away thy face,
While I do run upon it. Wilt thou, Strato?

STRATO: Give me your hand first. Fare you well, my lord.

BRUTUS: Farewell, good Strato.

[Runs on his sword]

Caesar, now be still:
I kill'd not thee with half so good a will.


[Alarum. Retreat. Enter OCTAVIUS, ANTONY, MESSALA,
LUCILIUS, and the army]

OCTAVIUS: What man is that?

MESSALA: My master's man. Strato, where is thy master?

STRATO: Free from the bondage you are in, Messala:
The conquerors can but make a fire of him;
For Brutus only overcame himself,
And no man else hath honour by his death....

ANTONY: This was the noblest Roman of them all....

retired_chemist 1:13 AM  

Didn't do well. SW corner killed me - it wasn't that hard, so I guess I suffered some sort of block. Had BEST of all@ 48D, which rendered the corner unsolvable until I gave up on BEST. Finally converted ----ING SENTENCE into the correct answer, which replaced BEST with MOST, which let me fill in the corner in less than a minute.

Don't get FIVE GUINEA - as Anon. said, wasn't one guinea 21 shillings?

lit.doc 1:26 AM  

Hi, Colleen, good to see a new voice back (yeah, OK, so that doesn’t quite make sense, but hey, Austin is pretty much a “no sense required zone”, eh?).

Total fail, but wow, what a cool puzzle. The central 15x cross was worth the price of admission. As a licensed Lit Geek, I have a hard time objecting to textual self-referentiality.

Worked out all but a swatch of N/NW. Symptomatic were 19A SSA instead of NBA (I got out of high school in ’69, so I demand a pass on that one) and 6D “Was IT AS hard…” instead of I TOO.

Otherwise, the only error in what I had filled was 40A PLAY instead of ROMP, which is hard to feel bad about. Rock on, Ashish Vengsarkar!

andrea romp michaels 2:02 AM  

Nudge nudge wink wink...
seems like Ashish was trying to sneak a theme into a themeless.
Again, like Kevin Der's puzzle yesterday, this one FELT like the writer...

ZARF I learned in Scrabble (at one point you just have to learn every four letter word and there are very few that start with Z)

I didn't know that URDU was written write to left like Hebrew!
Seems like a good trivia question.
Are there other languages as well?

Agree with Rex about abbreviations and partials: OAS, DST, ASL, ICC, NSA, NBA, JVS, OEN, OPTA, SESS, USSR, INIT, OWAR is a little much for one puzzle, no?
(Was ITOO hard, Ashish?)

Just hours before solving, my friend Toby Muller sent a variation on "It was the best of times..." with "Life in London was sweet. But things in Paris - not so much."

His tagline "Everyone can write. But great writing gets remembered."

Same can be said of puzzles, no?

SethG 2:19 AM  

The Wikipedia entry for the FIVE GUINEA coin includes
"Although the coin is now known as the "five guinea" piece, during the 17th and 18th centuries it was also known as a five pound piece, as during the reign of Charles II a guinea was worth twenty shillings — until its value was fixed at twenty-one shillings by a Royal Proclamation in 1717 the value fluctuated rather in the way that bullion coins do today."

Emphasis added, but it's probably easy to misread that (the sentence) with a wrong "its" antecedent if you're using it (the entry) as a source. I didn't know British money at all, but I look forward to learning about it all day.

Guessed at the CHAUD/HALL cross, and that long partial seems almost like an internal one--RIDE (OUT) A STORM feels much more natural.

Elaine 3:45 AM  

Despite a brave start, I sat there stumped in the NE of all places before I could finish. Hand up for IT SO (though I had taken out I TOO in order to put the wrong thing in!)

Gimmes were the first line of _A Tale of Two Cities_ and Rostand's CYRANO. This gave me a false sense of confidence, as I had quailed when I saw Ashish Vengsarkar's name.

Anyone else wondering about 10D 'Long way?' I say LONG HAUL. How does HALL really work here? I had DULL for 13D (DOTY might mean slightly nutty, but not necessarily feeble-minded)....and hand up for SSA as the Draft Board--though I did write NBA just above it in the gray box.

Speaking of GRAY-- Earl Grey is the tea; I put in ASAS and took them out until the nickel dropped.... This was no ROMP (though I tried to LEAP.)

Much more of a Challenging puzzle for me. It RATELed my confidence and made me want to ZARF.

lit.doc 4:52 AM  

@Elaine, I wondered who was going to ZARF first. And yeah, WTF is with long "hall"?? I do so look forward to someone explaining that one.

I will now go back to bed, fully expecting a convincing explanation of 10D upon the morrow.

edith b 7:24 AM  

I, too, ended in the NE on the word HALL. I originally had, like I am sure many others had, HAUL. My interpretation of LONG WAY is that defines HALL if you add way to the end as in "the hallway was long."

Weak? Perhaps, but it seems one way to have it make sense.

Like @Elaine, I had the Dickens clue very early on with only two crosses ( Maybe we really are sisters separated at birth.)

All in all, I started in the South and made a beeline at a diagonal towards the NE where I bogged down at the very end. I did think it was Easy for a Saturday, though.

k1p2 7:35 AM  

Since I managed to finish most w/o googling I had a great time with this puzzle. Had HAUL instead of HALL for the longest time. Had DAFT for DOTY (would have expected to see DOTTY)

A hand of for BEST of all and IT SO! Loved ZARF and will remember it if anyone in the family ever lets me play scrabble with them again.

mea culpa 7:44 AM  

FIVE guinea??? One guinea is 21 shillings. One pound one shilling. Where the heck did five guinea come from?

smev 8:01 AM  

I once bought a pair of shoes for 5 guineas - I paid with 5 one-pound notes, and 2 half-crowns - total, 105 shillings, not 21.

imsdave 8:09 AM  

I would have finished this in a fine Saturday time - but - I had to stare at the ZARF corner for about 10 minutes trying to figure out an alternative. Finally gave up and came here to see what I had done wrong. Amazing.

@Elaine, I like your use of the word much better than the real definition.

VaBeach puzzler 8:15 AM  

It's obvious that this puzzle is a secret message from Will Shortz to LASSO us CROSSWORD SOLVERs to Brooklyn for the BLISS of next weekend's tournament! The date is set; the STEINs and ZARFs and EWERs will be filled; and the winner will take home a CRUCIVERBALIST OSCAR! p.s. I TOO will be there.

ArtLvr 8:19 AM  

@ Rex, thanks for the ZARF! @ Andrea, I haven't played scrabble for ages and see it would take a lot of work to catch up!

I wasn’t happy with the clue for DOTY: it’s in my dictionary (and Scrabble dictionary too) only as “discolored by doting, as timbers” — and doting has two meanings: 1) that dotes; senile; also, excessively fond. 2) decaying from age, as trees. Then if you go back to dote: 1) to be weak-minded, esp. from age. 2) to be foolishly fond, to love to excess. The doting of trees and doty wood are obviously specific terms for "stained" in the lumbering industry, whereas “dotty” would be the closest adjective relating to feeble-minded!

@ treedweller -- did you ever hear anyone use DOTY?


ArtLvr 8:34 AM  

@ Elaine, I felt that way about HALL too, because a corridor may be short or long while other halls aren't either -- think rotunda for round hall, or the usual performance areas which are more likely square or crescent-shaped! The word HALL even refers to a whole building or manor from Toad Hall to Carnegie Hall...

I still enjoyed Ashish's puzzle, with his CYRANO and RATEL, and his delightful accolade to all of us CRUCIVERBALISTS!


captcha = exess? Not.

bookmark 8:41 AM  

All six long answers have to do with words, which we CRUCIVERBALISTS love. I wonder if Ashish meant for this themeless puzzle to be so themed. I loved it!

I also had trouble with ALLIED, -LLIEL just didn't make sense. Had Elrod for way too long.

I'm glad Rex chose ZARF. What a great word! A new one for me.

salo 8:49 AM  

27D does not say "An old English coin worth 21 shillings" It begins with the word "like" and that changes the sense of the clue. So a five guinea piece is like a guinea in the sense that they are both English money but is not like Urdu because it is not a language.

Also, I loved the crossing of 7D and 36A. The only thing that would have made it better was if "cruciverbalists" was not plural.

Leslie 9:01 AM  

Rex, thanks for that picture of a beautiful ZARF. I'd never ever heard of such a thing.

I admit I cheated (which I can, because I work the dead-tree version) and put in E/O in the middle East Coast. Both BELPAISO/EDROD and BELPAISE/EDRED looked totally plausible to me, so I hedged my bets and came here to find out which was the winner!


And while I often think Rex is being too much of a picky-pants about clues that reference other clues, I must say even I was annoyed with BEER referencing STEIN and STEIN referencing BEER. Quit that!!

dk 9:11 AM  

It was the best of oatmeal, it was the worst of oatmeal (Ernie the Muppet).

Wanted 27D to end in s, my French failed me for CHAUD as I had choid and had no idea on the cheese even with all crosses except 34D.

Got the theme ASAP.

I do not see the fascination with ZARF, maybe more coffee will help. Along with @salo I like the crossing of 7D and 36A in the middle of the puzzle.

*** (3 Stars)

Jeffrey 9:25 AM  
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Jeffrey 9:25 AM  
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Jeffrey 9:26 AM  

The we-call-it-zed z was my last letter as ZORBA forced ZARF. But I agree pretty much all the way with Rex for a change.

poc 9:28 AM  

ZARF? Geez ... I pondered FIVE GUINEA for a long time, but nothing else would fit. I can remember when guineas (of 21 shillings) were still in common use, at least as a term. Also farthings :-)

In what universe was the USSR ever a part of ASIA? It covered parts of both Asia and Europe, hence wasn't "part of" either.

Everything below the fourth row was fairly easy, but JVS I've never heard of and tried DOZY and DOPY rather than DOTY.

Elaine 9:31 AM  

My long, long acquaintance with Julia Child's first book (spattered, dog-eared, spine worn through) means that words to do with food constitute most of my French (along with ETRE, SOU, and MERDE.) CHAUD--Froid....but I kinda like your new word...possibly food that has cooled a tad too much?

@Edith B
Thanks for coming up with the possible (probable) reasoning on the HALL clue. Someone got too cute, IMHO.

@Whomever recommended Peter Matthiessen's _Shadow Country_: I am halfway through... Thanks for introducing me to this book and this author!

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

I do think Ashish finessed the themelessness of a Saturday with an implied theme (from Hamlet, Act 2, scene 2) of "words, words, words." On top of the CRUCIVERBALISTS/CROSSWORDSOLVER foundation, he has FRESHVOCABULARY, OPENINGSENTENCES, MOBILELIBRARIES, and even CYRANO, known for his literary efforts as well as his nose. Both URDU and the -JOURNALIST part of 17A are close relations to the words-that-play-on-words theme.

Smitty 10:05 AM  

OK - Really embarrassed here.

Crosses OVA (plural of ovum?) and ICT (a stab at ICC) gave me TYRANA (sounds more like a Stan Lee hero)

chefbea 10:16 AM  

Great puzzle. Never heard of zarf so I looked it up in my webster's dictionary - it wasn't there!!!

@Nanpilla etal I will not be in Brooklyn this year. Too busy with the move. I know all you rexites will have a ball.

Jim H 10:16 AM  

The dead-tree version of 27D has the correct number 105 shillings. I finally downloaded the Across-lite version to see why everyone is complaining about 21, and there it is: yet another reason to complain about the electronic version.

Not the first time there is a difference between paper and electrons...

Colleen 10:23 AM  
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Elaine 10:25 AM  

@Jim H
So, there are parallel universes? I subscribe to just the puzzle; I see that there is a 2nd puzzle download...but when I looked at it, '21 shillings' remained. And (above) SethG looked it up and explained. 'OLD English' was the tip-off not to think in modern currency terms.

I myself plan to look up 'honey badger.'

Captcha: bratiest-- that most resembling a German sausage?

mac 10:27 AM  

Nice puzzle, much, much easier than yesterday's for me. I also ended in the NW corner, but remembering Zorba finished it for me, and zarf and ratel I just left in, figuring I just didn't know the words. Unusual to have to include the "out" of the 3d clue in the middle of the expression, but then who said it had to be the beginning or the end.
I'm still not sure about the meaning of "hall", and I've always thought of the USSR as part of Europe. I can't understand the discussion of the five guinea answer; 105 shillings is 5 guinea to me.

I had one funny moment when I had se-a-ate for 30A. Actually went back to the clue, thought it might be "untie" the knot and "separate"!

Thank you Bard! And Rex for the clips and write-up.

@Nanpilla: email @imsdave, he is our social secretary (sorry Dave;-)).

Ben 10:40 AM  

Banged out all but the NW last night, slept on it, then all the paradises fell into place. I was hamstrung by casually writing in GREAT VOCABULARY and not thinking of ZORBA for the longest time, but otherwise coasted pretty smoothly.

See you in Bklyn next weekend, whoever's going.

Ruth 10:42 AM  

Thanks for the fabulous Patsy Cline. Wow, what a singer. She uses those "country" tricks (the warbles, the glottal stops) that can be so annoying, but she controls them, they don't control her. Maybe the worst celebrity-plane-crash loss of all (well, Buddy Holly, Jim Croce are arguably as sad)(and I know I can take heat for only listing the ones that appeal to a Boomer-Geezer).
Captcha=puscull. PUHLEEZE!

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

'Zarf' is an exemplar of the reason i do crosswords. Most of the puzzle was simple except the southwest. Libraries was simple, but 'mobile' I'd not dealt with in 30 years or so, so it didn't come to mind

And going after the beer/stein pair just didn't seem worth the effort. After I saw the answer, I decided I was right, it wasn't worth the effort.

Overall an okay puzzle, that corner and I just didn't click. That happens.

Ben 10:50 AM  

p.s. Forgot to mention, I met Ashish Vengsarkar at last year's ACPT and found him to be a delightful guy. He is also a scientist who holds a number of patents.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Did the Times make a correction in the late editions? My paper gave the clue for "five guinea" as 105 shillings, so knowing that a guinea was 21 shillings, it makes sense.

archaeoprof 11:10 AM  

I'm usually able to find something to enjoy in every puzzle. Not today. But I'm glad some of us liked it. Unfortunately, I found it clunky, artless, tedious, even silly. The one bright spot was the reference to Patsy Cline. Thanks for the video, Rex.

slypett 11:40 AM  

Ferchrissakes, ugh! What's to like? Numerous obscure abbreviations? A ? clue that has a straightforward answer? Self-referential clues? An answer that doesn't make sense (MOBILELIBRARIES)?

Perhaps I wouldn't be complaining, if it had gone down easilly, but I had to pay a pre-Valentine's call on Auntie Google. She wasn't please, so didn't help much.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Even if they were thinking that "long hall" is how you spell "long haul", the clue should have been sans question mark. That's number one. And number two, yeah, otherwise, how on earth does this make any sense, unless Huey Long's way is Annie Hall?

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Number three, how is aerate clear out?

foodie 11:46 AM  
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foodie 11:47 AM  

foodie said...

I say ZARF all the time! Meaning envelope in Arabic. And I also have these cup holders for Turkish coffee that I inherited from my mother. But I never heard them called ZARF. So weird...

ZARF, more conceptually, can also mean a context or a circumstance. The plural, ZURUF (sounds like The Roof), means conditions, as in: The ZURUF in Haiti suck... ZURUF fell on the entire place...

HudsonHawk 12:01 PM  

@poc, JV=Junior Varsity--aka the B Team.

Fun solve. I dropped in OVA, which brought CRUCIVERBALISTS into view, but really made it tough to get CYRANO. Ashish, better bring lots of wine to Brooklyn for the OENophiles. ;)

CoolPapaD 12:13 PM  

@Elaine and lit.doc - HALL indeed-what the hall???

@treedweller - Thanks for your ACPT summary - cannot go this year, but it will give me something to look forward to in the future!

I enjoyed this, but I could not think of anything other than BERNAISE (I know it's not a cheese or Italian),so the east killed me.

Until recently, I'd never heard of MOBILE LIBRARIES. My wife grew up in Grape Creek, TX, and she told me about the weekly bookmobile that would visit the schools- having been raised in suburbia, I was a bit floored by the concept. The little things we take for granted...

AV 1:06 PM  

OK, I am outing myself with this one. Shark = Ashish, says:

- Started as a kinda-themed puzzle including all word-related answers, especially when I saw that CRUCIVERBALISTS and CROSSWORD SETTER crossed at the R. Changed the SETTER to SOLVER, found some double stacks (in the days before wunderkinder like Kevin G. Der found multiple quad-stacks, a couple of related double stacks were considered attractive) and was off to the races.

- Changed some of the themed answers to the ones in the puzzle, and it became a hard themeless.

- Was initially clued for a Friday, but Will & team increased the degree of difficulty appropriately. (A WILL, ITOO, etc were clued easy).

- Usually when one has several 15-letter words, the grid forces a bunch of 3-letter words, which is a problem. Unless you are Der and completely blow the grid open and reduce those pesky short words. (Aside, I like those 3-letter words since they give me a toehold in hard themelesses - and believe me, I had a tough time solving my own puzzle today!)

Hope to see you in ACPT!

treedweller 1:07 PM  

when it became clear this was the answer, I kept thinking, "they can't say that, can they?" What is the reference? When might anyone use this phrase outside a porn movie?

@ArtLvr--no, I have never heard DOTY. Not in relation to trees, not in relation to dotage, not anywhere except this puzzle (and perhaps some previous puzzle I've forgotten). But I might have to start working it into my standard work patter (not.).

glad you liked it--hope to see you there next year.

Anonymous 1:24 PM  


I exiled him to Zarf. Was I TOO hard on him?


chefbea 1:24 PM  

@shark/Ashish thanks for a fun puzzle and for chiming in!!!

Clark 1:32 PM  

I don't get the whole kerfuffle over HALL. One of the senses of the word 'hall' is corridor. A corridor is usually long (in the sense of having a high ratio of length to width) think corridors of office buildings, hotels, train compartments. Hence, a HALL is a 'long way.'

treedweller 1:37 PM  

@P.G. Fair enough. I guess. I still think it's a stretch without the objective phrase, but, then, this is Saturday.

jesser 1:41 PM  

I was doomed in the NW and also at the intersection of AS_ and BE_PAESE. I have never referred to my vocabulary (or anyone's else's) as FRESH, so I stubbornly held on to GREAT, which killed me dead, dead dead.

The rest of the puzzle was a lot of fun.

I am grateful to have learned ZARF, and I'm embarrassed that I did not parse 1A since I used to have a macaw named ZORBA the Beak.

I surrender, Mr. Vengsarkar! You have bested me something fierce!

Now I believe I shall go play golf. I will do so while nurturing my deep jealousy of all of you who will be attending the tournament. Maybe in 2011...

Guali! -- jesser

andie hall michaels 1:42 PM  

Yes, this seems very Ashish-y that it's a totally themed themeless!
(When we did an early week FISHING collaboration, he managed to make all our non-theme entries sea-worthy as well, ignoring my protests...but I was wrong in the end, as most solvers seemed to like the bonus cohesiveness of it all.)

(Aha! Just saw shark/Ashish's post as I was hitting submit!
Now the blog is making me do a second word verification :(
Lately I always have to do two captchas before it takes... and half the time I lose my original posting! Pain! Suddenly the korean bride spam doesn't seem so bad!)

Be embarrassed no more (or at least move over on the bench)!

I did the EXACT thing with the whole OVA/TYRANA thing, even after early early on trying to remember "who was the guy who was writing the letters for the other guy? The one with the long nose that grew when he lied?"!!!!!!!!!
(Coming soon to a nabe near you: Disney's Cyranocchio!) )

(Eventually CYRANO dawned on me, but ick on ICC!)
Btw the Steve Martin version of "Cyrano" was a fabulous, modern reimagining. He did his own Woody ALlen-style hattrick +...I mean that man can write, direct, act, juggle, tell jokes, AND easy on the eyes in that uber-WASP sort of the point where I forgive (almost) "It's Complicated")

Just to chime in on the long hall discussion, I debated HaLL, HeLL, HiLL and HuLL, able to rationalize each of them! HAuL never even occurred to me!
(I feel a puzzle coming on! But I think one's already been done with HALLO HELLO HILLO... by Peter Gordon or Byron Walden. Memories of HULLABALOO being the last entry)

Just caught a typo in my first post last night: I wrote that URDU was written "WRITE to left"!

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Anon@11:45 My take was CLEAR OUT = AIR OUT = AERATE, but what do I know?

OhioBoy 1:54 PM  

I was left with AS_ and BE_PAESE. I knew it had to be L, but I couldn't for the life of me think of what ASL could be abbreviating; I had "a/s/l?" stuck in my head, which you might see in the corner of a computer screen, but not a TV.

mac 2:04 PM  

@jesser: do try to make it next year! On the other hand, many of us haven't been able to play golf for a long time, and no end of winter and snow in sight.

@Ashish: thanks and see you in Brooklyn!

Stan 2:14 PM  

Fun but over my head (gulp). I will remember ZARF!!

Lon 2:14 PM  

I can't believe the number of people here who are so familiar with the conversion of shillings and guineas! I really wonder what the average IQ is for this group! I'm sure I'm left of center on the bell curve. I don't think you need to tell this group to "look it up"

They could've clued that answer with "euros" or "krones" for all the difference it made in my solving time.

Despite the rain, Austin is lovely this time of year.

jesser 2:14 PM  

It's hard to compete with Andrea on celebrity stories, but I have a couple. Steve Martin is my cousin, and my Mom's first cousin. My Mom used to babysit him in Waco. She took me and my sister to see him in concert during his "Let's Get Small" days, and we arranged for a note to be delivered to him backstage. We sat and sat after the concert, but it finally became obvious that he wasn't sending anyone out for us. To this day, I don't know whether he never got the note or whether he blew off my Mom. She communicated with his parents and asked about it, but they never gave her an answer. He never once after he got famous communicated with our family. Ergo, I think he's a turd.

I shall imagine his face on my golf ball.

Blerfer -- jesser

lit.doc 2:16 PM  

@andrea whatever michaels, due to the frequency of interface-eating-my-post occurrences, I've taken to routinely using my cursor to block my text and keying ctrl-c. This copies it into the paste buffer so it can be retrieved with ctrl-v, FWIW.

And Steve Martin's Roxanne is my favorite movie in the Entire Known Universe. IMHO, he fixes the two problems in Rostand's story--culpability and closure.

lit.doc 2:21 PM  

@Lon, duly noted. Comment was the result of the number of times grad-grind jargon has elicited blank stares.

Mrs Heyelman 2:35 PM  

Mobile libraries? Indeed

joho 3:12 PM  

I loved the puzzle. Right now I love everything about being home doing what I like to do at home.

It took me 14 hours door-to-door to get here yesterday. You can also add the hour and a half I was on hold after finding out at 11 p.m. the night before flying that both of my flights had been cancelled. The best part of the flight from Atlanta to Dayton was doing the Friday puzzle in ink in the actual paper.

My mind is mush so I will just say again, I loved the puzzle today because of its FRESH VOCABULARY.

Also, I finished "Me Speak Pretty One Day" and am halfway through "Engulfed in Flames." I know my seatmates on the planes had to believe I was unstable and maybe dangerous when they saw me laughing out loud, crying.

Good to be back.

Thanks, Shark!

edith b 3:40 PM  

@Clark Re: HALL

My take exactly! But it sure got the anonymice stirred up.

PlantieBea 3:51 PM  

Thanks Ashish/Shark! Successfully completing a Friday/Saturday pairing makes my week. Glad you featured the gorgeous ZARF, Rex; it was certainly my WTF word of the day.

I completed most of this one last night, but got stuck in the long answers of the top. I just got home and was able to finish quickly. For me, the OSCAR/ROMP/AERATE area was most difficult.

@Elaine: Glad to hear you're enjoying Shadow Country. It's in the stack, and I'll bump it up based on your enthusiasm.

David 4:05 PM  

Is Tyrana de Bergerac the dominatrix sister of Cyrano?

Madame Dittyri de Bergerac 4:39 PM  

Tyrana was the blackest of black sheep in our family, and we have done our best to live down her appalling reputation in later generations. We are deeply pained by your exposing us to the public eye and to the opprobrium of society. Alas, one of her descendants recently starred in an unseemly public adVERtisement, once again drawing unwanted attention to the Bergerac history.

Kindly desist from further mention of Tyrana.

jae 4:40 PM  

I kinda liked this one which was more of a medium for me. Glad to find out ZARF was real because I was sure I had an error. That said, I needed my bride to spell the cheese as I had no idea about EDR/O/A/E/D. And, even after all the above comments, I still don't get HALL?

hazel 5:25 PM  

Glad to see a picture of the ZARF - it looks just like I imagined the/a chaldron from Lethem's Chronic City would look.

Also you don't ride out A storm, you ride out THE storm, unless the Doors are involved - then you're actually a rider ON the storm, like a dog without a bone, an actor out alone, etc. etc.

Stan 6:20 PM  

In Defense of a Puzzle I Could Not Finish:

What on earth is wrong with Long way?/HALL. Really, aren't most halls longer than they are wide?

MOBILE LIBRARIES is actually a term in the field (I'm a librarian). It's the official name for Bookmobiles, the way 'personal watercraft' and 'snow machines' and 'tissues' are the generic terms for JetSkis, Ski-Doos, and Kleenex.

Ben 7:39 PM  


I too am no Andrea Reference Michaels, but I have had the good fortune to meet Steve Martin a couple of times, including recently in a post-concert backstage moment of exactly the type you described. (I tell the story here.)

If it's any consolation, Steve was charming and polite, taking the time to greet warmly a bunch of people who had different reasons to be there, some of whom he'd never even met. I'm sure he never got your note because he seemed perfectly nice, classy and unpretentious to me.
Just my $.02.

Sorry you won't be in Brooklyn. Hope you hit 'em straight!

fergus 9:06 PM  

This one dropped in so much more fluidly than yesterday's. Considered A RICH VOCABULARY, otherwise I felt barely misled, which is sort of unusual for a Saturday.

Anonymous 9:51 PM  

What the hell happened to the site?
Looks good.

Glitch 10:22 PM  


Has the long threatened "new" site arrived? unannounced?



mac 10:31 PM  

What a shock! Miss the soothing tan color of the background, and there are no more favorite blogs. Sometimes checked out some of them.

sanfranman59 10:40 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:51, 6:56, 0.99, 51%, Medium
Tue 8:12, 8:43, 0.94, 34%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:46, 11:56, 0.90, 24%, Easy-Medium
Thu 16:35, 19:35, 0.85, 13%, Easy
Fri 28:01, 26:03, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 31:23, 17:59, 1.05, 67%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:46, 3:41, 1.02, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:17, 4:28, 0.96, 44%, Medium
Wed 4:58, 5:51, 0.85, 14%, Easy
Thu 8:20, 9:24, 0.89, 20%, Easy
Fri 13:22, 12:31, 1.07, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 17:59, 17:13, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging

mac 11:06 PM  

I came back and realize I'm already used to it. Where is Sandy, though?

fergus 2:58 AM  

Rex -- you were in top form as crossword critic today.

I am surprised that the Wednesday puzzle didn't get enough love, because I thought that it was Clued most brilliantly.

Anonymous 3:02 AM  

A quick scan and it does not look like anyone remarked upon one area where I evidently went astray, although I did not think so until I saw Rex's answers.

Here it is: for DOTY I had dopy, making the wave-making journalist a radiojournaLISP which I thought was clever, given the question mark in the clueing.

Like the new blog design!

TinaPete 11:06 PM  

The best part of this crossword was listening to Patsy Cline singing She's Got You. Thank you Rex for that one!

Unknown 11:10 PM  

If any of you are All My Children fans, you would have run into ZARF a couple of years ago. He was this androgynous character that everyone thought was a killer, but he wasn't. I looked it up then.....

xyz 11:59 AM  

I did this puzzle in A-Lite, cheating a lot because I can never get these Saturdays at all (only the occasional - no RARE Friday) and MUST say that I thought the crossings of themes into literal crosses was pretty cool as a construction but yes, perhaps a bit winky. I figure if I am ever going to progress to get these more complex puzzles, maybe this will help.

I probably got about 12-15 answers, I suppose one can call it a start.

Only reason I posted the above drivel was to get to

the HALL as "Long way"

First - it's indeed a (passage)way
Second - it's long, not wide nor tall as a defining character

gueutworm as opposed to tresCHAUD

Doc John 8:35 PM  

There's fresh fill and then there's ZARF. And I thought Golconda was bad!

Phillip the architect 3:09 PM  

As an architect I can assure you HALL does not match the clue. A HALL is a room or building, while only a "hallway" is equivalent to a corridor.

Zardoz 7:40 PM  

This took a while, but settled in for the long HALL!? & what a DOTY answer nearby. Even the blog spellchecker balks at that.

RATEL was one of my first & BEL PAESE is fairly common in Canada. V

ex OVO is Second-Declension Neuter Singular Ablative. OVA is Plural Nominative or Accusative. They taught Latin when I was in high school. Way back when!

BTW, the cup in the ZARF is a finjan. Wiki has an error there, though this entry:
also has "fildžan". The "dž" is pronounced similar to "j".

I agree with dk 9:11 AM:

It was the best of oatmeal, it was the worst of oatmeal.

Think I'll have another cup of tea - Earl GREY, hot. (ST NG) ;-)

Zardoz 7:44 PM  

Is it OK to put tea in a ZARF? What a lovely word!

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