Curtis of cosmetics / WED 2-10-10 / Chichi shopping area in Tokyo / Jason's shipbuilder in myth / Tassled topper

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: LOVE LETTERS (60A: Billets-doux ... or 18-, 24-, 37- and 50-Across all together?) — theme answers spell out the word LOVE when clues are taken "letterally" (i.e. with reference to a specific letter in one of the words):

"L" = FIRST IN LINE = first letter in LINE
"O" = HEART OF STONE = letter at heart of STONE
"V" = CENTER OF GRAVITY = letter at center of GRAVITY
"E" = END OF MESSAGE = letter at end of MESSAGE

Word of the Day: GINZA (53D: Chichi shopping area in Tokyo)

Ginza (銀座) is a district of Chūō, Tokyo, located south of Yaesu and Kyōbashi, west of Tsukiji, east of Yūrakuchō and Uchisaiwaichō, and north of Shinbashi. // It is known as an upscale area of Tokyo with numerous department stores, boutiques, restaurants and coffeehouses. It is recognized as one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world. Many upscale fashion clothing flagship stores are located here. Prominent are Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci. A recent addition is the 12-story Abercrombie & Fitch flagship. (wikipedia)
• • •

A cutish, Valentine's Day-ish puzzle of just below AVERAGE (28A: C, say) difficulty and slightly above AVERAGE quality. Clever idea, executed with precision, using nice, in-the-language phrases (END OF MESSAGE is more familiar to me from checking my voice mail than from anything I might "read," though). Grid is clean, with a nice assortment of Scrabbly letters (oh, I see it's a pangram ... I don't really care, but there it is). The only painful moment for me came when I tripped on the loose floorboard of SCAD (32D: Whole lot). Never seen this word in anything but the plural. I blame the pangram aspiration. Ditch the "W" in "SWOON" and you can do some other things in that section (well, at least one other thing that I can see without thinking too hard). Still, if SCAD is the height of horror in your puzzle, that's not so bad. That section was one of the few places I hesitated today, failing to round that corner from NW to W (a perennial problem spot for me). Had the -ON in SWOON and couldn't see it (32A: Theatrical faint). Downs in that section (incl. SCAD) wouldn't come easily, and so, exasperated, I threw down DRY HEAT (45A: Sauna feature) with no crosses. This somehow worked.

Also hesitated some in the SE, where GINZA was ... well, probably not new to me, but certainly forgotten by me (I'm guessing I've seen it in some xword before). Again, the pangram is likely driving this section (which contains the grid's lone "Q"), but in this case the results are just fine. Real words / names. Just required a bit of work to bring them down.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Next up (first in line)
  • 24A: What a compassionless person has (heart of stone)
  • 37A: Balance point (center of gravity)
  • 50A: [Read no further] (end of message)

This grid contains two of my favorite words: ARGOT (21D: Specialized vocabulary) and OCELOT (55A: Spotted cat). Lest you think I'm just a sucker for -OT words, I'll have you know that EEL POT does nothing for me. Ditto DRY ROT. I do like JUMP SHOT and ROBOT, though, so maybe I do have a certain proclivity ... anyway, someone needs to sit up and clap for PODUNK (15A: Nowheresville), which adds real personality to the grid. PODUNK is probably a cruddy place to live, but as a word, it's top drawer. For some reason, the first word I put in here was PADUKA (!?) — clearly PALOOKA was running interference in my brain.

  • 1A: Tassled topper (fez) — started out very quickly in the NW, and this answer (a gimme) is why.
  • 5D: Murder method in Christie's "A Pocket Full of Rye" (poison) — was looking for something much more specific here. Not even a *kind* of POISON? Just ... POISON? OK.
  • 12D: It's "bustin' out all over," in song (June) — she got a better bra and they're not singing about her much any more.
  • 46D: Curtis of cosmetics (Helene) — a very familiar name, but I don't know why. Maybe it just sunk into my brain from years and years and years of watching commercial television, where her name was undoubtedly spoken in cosmetics ads (and perhaps still is).
  • 52D: Jason's shipbuilder, in myth (Argus) — familiar ARGUS/ARGOS issue. The ARGO (ship) is named for ARGUS, its builder. Hence my vowel confusion.
  • 56D: Result of a big hit, maybe (coma) — HA ha, COMAs are funny ... ? (I might have gone with a less gruesome clue, one that did not force me to imagine how the person got into the COMA)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


David 7:57 AM  

Why did I think spring would be "bustin' out all over" and not June. Rex's comment about June getting a new bra will forever lock in that association for me....

This surfeit of snow in the DC area is getting quite stressful! At least we have power right now.

k1p2 8:00 AM  

I liked the theme from the first to the end.

Had balle for valse until I realized my b needed to be a v. Checked the downs and cleaned it up. Forgot that Eriq LaSalle is not Eric and never heard of dojo.

Paducah as any quilter could tell you is far from being a nowheresville!

fikink 8:03 AM  

It took me forever to discern the theme. For that I am most grateful.
Thank you, Mr. Sessa.

Elaine 8:04 AM  

Hand up to object to SCAD--Have we ever said, "I have a scad of errands to run?" Hmmm, maybe....

All quilters know how to spell Paducah, home of the National Quilt Museum and Hancocks-of-Paducah (no relation.)

This was a fast solve, though I did have SLEW for the objectionable SCAD, then END OF THE LINE before correcting. Also wondered what a SKI MOVER was...

Misread the clue for 24A as "What a compassionate person has," and felt bewildered by the obvious HEART OF STONE until reFOCUSing the bifocals, which lack an FSTOP dial.

A good time was had by all, though I was slow to understand how the theme items added up to LOVE LETTERS.

Happy VD, everyone! Oops, I meant something else....

Bill from NJ 8:08 AM  

Ah yes, the GINZA. My father was part of the Occupation Force stationed outside of Tokyo after the end of WWII - The Big One, you know - and in 1954, we were one of the first group of families to accompany their sponsor to Japan.

Tokyo, the capital, had been virtually destroyed during the War. By the time we arrived, 9 years after the wars' end, the Japanese with American help had been busy rebuilding and they built from the center of the city outward. When my Dad first took us to Tokyo, all you could see, for miles around was rubble. I remember thinking where are we going, when suddenly, a city appeared. It was like when you first saw "The Wizard of Oz" and your first sight of Oz was when the movie changed from Black amd White to Color.

The GINZA was the centerpiece of the rebuilding project and was absolutely beautiful. For an 8 year old, it was an awesome and breathtaking sight to behold and I will never forget it.

nanpilla 8:34 AM  

Looking out my window at sleet coming down, has me wishing for JUNE to be bustin out all over! It will be back to snow in the next few hours - we're expected to get more than a foot more.
I live in a PODUNK town, and loved seeing it in the grid.
The symmetrically placed AXE and UZI, along with POISON and OMEN gave this one a little TANG.
I loved that CENTER OF GRAVITY was dead center in the grid.
VALSE was new to me - I'll have to store that away.
Can you tell I loved this puzzle? Wonderful, tight theme that took a minute or two to suss out. Thanks, Ed Sessa!

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

Nice write up and nice puzzle. But...

I've always used PODUNK as an adjective, never a noun, so I was surprised by the cluing on that.

A wonderful Wednesday.

The Corgi of Mystery 8:35 AM  

GINZA...was there a couple of years ago, and talk about sensory overload. I consider myself a full-blooded city person, but Tokyo on the whole is just something else.

Nice puzzle. Felt exactly like a Wednesday.

edith b 8:37 AM  


I think 15A is PODUNK and bears no relation to PADUCAH. I went to college in Ohio with a girl who was from Paducah, KY and, when asked where it was located, always said "halfway between Monkey's Eyebrow and Possum Trot." This was in the mid-60s and always got a big laugh. I guess we were less sophisticated in those days.

bookmark 8:44 AM  

@Bill from NJ: Thanks for the Tokyo and GINZA post. What a memorable experience for a young boy!

My son attends a DOJO two times a week, where he studies Shuri-Ryu, an Okinawan karate. He earned a black belt last year.

I had slew for SCAD, and wadi for WEIR. After fixing that area, I had little trouble. An enjoyable puzzle.

jesser 9:11 AM  

I would never have sussed the theme had I not known how to navigate to Rex. Thank you, Rex!

Last letter in the grid for me was also a write-over. As we all know by now, French is not my strong suit, so VAL_E was sitting there, and I thought 50A might have something to do with a page. Took longer than I care to admit for me to replace the P in page with the S that gave me END OF MESSAGE crossing VALSE. It kicked my valse.

Sad news here in the southwest desert is that what is believed to have been the last of the wild jaguars along the border was trapped and killed, so ocelot brought actual tears to my critter-lovin' eyes. Godspeed, Macho B.

Typers? Really?

Nesismsc! -- jesser

foodie 9:24 AM  

I loved a lot about this puzzle, including MOLTEN and SWOON that could have come from a romance novel. It had a girls outing feel, with a day at the SPA, enjoying DRY HEAT, slathering oil of OLAY and HELENE Curtis make-up followed by a shopping spree in GINZA (with JUNE getting fitted with a better bra according to Rex).

But FEZ is definitely meant to be on the more macho side of fashion. I have a photo of my grandfather wearing one and trying to look fierce. Hard to pull off...

Main objection: TYPERS. I dunno about that one.

PIX 9:31 AM  

André-Marie Ampère FRS (20 January 1775 – 10 June 1836) was a French physicist and mathematician who is generally regarded as one of the main discoverers of electromagnetism. The SI unit of measurement of electric current, the ampere, is named after him. {Wiki}

Where is the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) when we need them? All sorts of wars they could be protesting against. (Actually, Wiki says there is a new SDS formed in 2006...maybe I'm sort of out of the loop these days.)

I did not understand the theme until Rex explained it...thank you...actually very clever.

chefbea 9:38 AM  

Found this puzzle hard for a wednesday. Had a few googles and didn't understand the them til I came here. Very clever.

The answer to my question of yesterday:

ChefBea bea bea

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

@foodie- re: TYPERS, don't you picture people taking pints of blood and winding them through the platen of a typewriter? Or would that make them typists?

mitchs 9:58 AM  

Well, my captcha was "offall" so this comment has already been commented upon by the computer gods - BUT - loved the puzzle and the picture of Chi Chi Rodriguez. Remember Les Nessman's pronunciation after he insisted he could do sports?

SusanMontauk 9:58 AM  

Rex, I get regular emails from my husband that consist of only a subject line. Here are some recent examples:"brown rice--eom" "pls bring baklava. thanks eom" "the truck starts eom" "gonna see a girl conductor tomorrow-eom." End of message was a real gimme for me.

Typers at a blood bank--they are the people who let you know if you are A or O or maybe AB-, etc.

The puzzle was fun, and so was the write up. I'm with Rex on pangrams. Those guys are clever, but I don't really care. Does not make the puzzle more enjoyable to solve.

retired_chemist 9:59 AM  

Hmmm - I just. do. not. like. themes that add essentially nothing to the solvability and are only a virtuoso construction feat. Didn't even try to figure it out. Thanks Rex for the explanation.

I can never remember who killed who so ABEL remained for a cross to rule out CAIN. Is the phrase, "Raising Cain," related to Cain's evilness and thus a good mnemonic?

Appropriate Wednesday. Easy-medium works here.

Chorister 10:03 AM  

I thought THY was a pronoun, but I'm pretty bad at grammar.

Mostly I'm posting because my captcha is "scadshe," which struck me funny in light of the scad/s discussion.

mac 10:04 AM  

Excellent puzzle, and the write-up looks so cute with the red LOVE! I thought "love" was busting out all over, is that a malapop? Very well executed theme as well, thank you Rex for pointing it out....

A few false starts: tam/fez, slew/scad and "heart trouble" for "heart of stone".

So podunk is something like hicksville? Cute word, but I had to dig deep to remember it.

@Bill from NJ: what a nice anecdote. I hadn't realized Tokyo was destroyed to that extent. I've been to the Ginza district, and you might as well have been in Milan, except for the little white gloves on all the sales ladies and elevator operators. Then I went back to Tokyo about 15 years later, and it had become much more relaxed and modern. I love that city.

Finding "sauna" in the clues twice was a surprise. I think I like repeats like that, but it would be more impressive if there were 3 or 4.

slypett 10:08 AM  

Ed Sessa: SCAD? Gad! Bad, lad.

jesser: Tears for your jaguar. I wonder if her killer will exult, "I got it! I got the last one of those suckers! I the man!"

epress: a machine used at the e-drycleaners. "Get your clothes virtually clean!"

Elaine 10:16 AM  

Thou mistakest; thine eyes mislead thee, and THY mind dost stray.

Yes, 'raising Cain' would help, as does 'the Mark of Cain' put on his forehead as a warning.

@ MitchS
CHAI-CHAI ROD-reh-GWEEZ, I believe Les pronounced it. (I lived in Cincinnati then, and the show was a must-see each week. I still honor the producers and writers for addressing the tragic crowd stampede at a rock concert there.)

TYPERS may seem awkward, but if you ever need a blood transfusion, you will realize that it's a very, very important job.

GrammarGal 10:17 AM  


THY is a possessive pronoun. Think ME and MY.

Van55 10:19 AM  

Very nicely done with some excellent, original fill. I struggled in the bottom right wehre GINZA and ERIQ LaSalle were not familiar to me at all.

TYPERS as blood bank techs is a little strange, I think. I know someone has to determine the blood types, but is this a real name?

PlantieBea 10:26 AM  

What a sweet puzzle, even with the gruesome coma inducing knock and EVEL POISON. Ha. I finally plunked the correct EVEL spelling in first time around. The theme did help me solve this one, since I couldn't remember what billets-doux were. The internal puzzle was clear to me with the first three themed entries. Had to try End of lessons before MESSAGE came to mind. Hand up for ERIC on the first pass, and I also tried an ARGON/TAR combo. The SE corner made this one a definite medium for me. Liked TYPERS least of all. add to the Valentine fun, secret word is low cheri.

abide 10:28 AM  

Re: Typers--Would a blood bank tech that mislabels units have a Type O personality?

I also had to come here to discern the theme; very unusual for a Wednesday.

alanrichard 10:36 AM  

Podunk. I got it contexturally but I was in "PODUNK" because I never heard of it previously!
And the best thing about reading this is that I had no clue about the theme when I finished the puzzle! DUH!

OldCarFudd 10:50 AM  

Fine puzzle. I thought it unusually hard for a Wednesday, and (like many of you) I never did figure out the theme until I read Rex's writeup. I didn't like scad, but the rest was top-notch.

I'm one of the folks who remembers a well-endowed June from 'way back, and who always associated her with that song.

Condolences on the jaguar. Fortunately they still exist in northern Mexico, and they don't need passports to wander across the border. So, if we don't build the boundary fence too solidly, maybe we'll see one again someday.

Stan 10:54 AM  

Solid, workmanlike puzzle. I guess it's Valentine's Week.

Thanks to @Bill from NJ and @mac for the Ginza recollections.

retired_chemist 10:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glitch 11:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 11:26 AM  

Another Ginza recollection - Edo-Gin, a sushi restaurant in walking distance of both the Ginza and Tsukiji (fish market for all Tokyo if not all Kanto). No better sushi anywhere in the world.

des 11:28 AM  

@Elaine, GrammarGal - re Chorister's comment:
What I interpret Choirster's question to mean is that THY isn't an adjective; in other words, it is incorrectly clued in the puzzle.

I also fell into the ARGOS trap - particularly because I don't see the ubiquitous UZI being closely identified with the Six Day War.

archaeoprof 11:43 AM  

Thanks, Rex, for explaining the theme. Didn't see that til I got here.

Nice to see that UZI was located far away from FATAH.

Noam D. Elkies 11:47 AM  

Nice puzzle; I saw the gimmick and guessed LOVE (though not quite 60A:LOVELETTERS) from the first two theme entries, but I can see that a solver who doesn't regularly do cryptics might be mystified. I could have done without the dePLOrable entry FATAH at 1D — and it's not even needed for the pangram because we already have a Z near the opposite corner, at the multicultural intersection of 53D:GINZA and 66A:UZI.

I too wondered about the part of speech of 61D:THY, having learned in school it's a possessive pronoun. But it feels and functions like an adjective, and now calls it an adjective (ditto "your", etc.), so happily it's kosher.

Not so sure about 64A:AMEN; the word occurs in the Mass text, but not at the end — and I once learned that the word Mass = Missa comes from a concluding formula "ite, missa est" (lit. "Go, it is given", but misinterpreted as "Go, it's a Missa"), which doesn't end in "amen" either. But then about the only place I encounter Mass is in musical settings of the "Ordinary" texts (or occasionally the Requiem) so maybe the clue is correct somehow.

Cute clue for 63A:GNU, though Flanders and Swann had another take on it...

NDE 11:49 AM  

Thee, Thou, Thine, Thy, Thyself

Part of speech: pronoun

Definition: thee (you), thou (you), thine (yours), thy (your), thyself (yourself)

Irene 12:11 PM  

What's a pangram? Irene

mac 12:25 PM  

@Irene: it means all letters in the alphabet are used in the puzzle.

@noam: Ite missa est sounds very familiar, knew it in the Catholic mass when it was still read in Latin in Holland. Amazing that adjective is now acceptable for the pronouns!

jimmy d 12:28 PM  

Great puzzle...saw the theme about halfway through. But I only knew PODUNK from the opening song in the South Park movie!!

And I agree with the clue for COMA... ouch!

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

k1p2: too young for the karate Kid?

lit.doc 12:38 PM  

Another hand up for THY being a possessive pronoun. It was easily filled, though, so no harm done (except for misdemeanor assault on grammarians’ sensibilities).

@retired_chemist, I’ve expressed my strong preference for themes that are integral to the solving experience on several occasions. Still, I do feel a little bit of love for this one because of the cute wordplay. Wouldn’t get a pass, though, were it not so close to Valentine’s Day.

Good Wednesday puzzle. Stumbled momentarily when I slammed HEARTLESS___ into 18A (was seeing how far I could get on just the Acrosses), but quickly fixed. Something like a fourth of my solving time got sucked up by that little SE corner, due to my inability to misspell ERIK (no, wait, it’s ERIC) and ARGOS, and my having seen those clever little GINZU knives advertised on late-nite TV.

@Elaine, LOL re VD. Your joke, I mean.

Gotta to—have a scad of chore to do.

Van55 12:42 PM  

@Noam -- If I recall the liturgy accurately the final words at the ending of a mass are "Thanks be to God." But prayers in the liturgy are almost always ended, "Amen." So I think the clue and answer are OK.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

no comment on 23 D: not yet hard?

ArtLvr 1:10 PM  
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ArtLvr 1:12 PM  

@ ChefBea bea bea -- your ammo is a hoot!

@ Bill from NJ -- your early memory of Tokyo was timely, as I just served as subject for a grandson's homework assignment "What news event in your whole life was the most memorable?" I told him (via IM) about my parents having me sit beside the radio to hear Japan's surrender, end of WW 2, so that I would always remember.

As for favorite words, one of mine is WEIR as in the sad Irish love song "Down by the Sally Garden":

It was down by the Sally Gardens, my love and I did meet.
She crossed the Sally Gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree,
But I was young and foolish, and with her did not agree.

In a field down by the river, my love and I did stand
And on my leaning shoulder, she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy , as the grass grows on the WEIRs
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.


Unknown 1:13 PM  

Hey, my girlfriend goes to SCAD -- the Savannah College of Art and Design. I'll be sure to let her know that her school is the worst word in this puzzle.

Doc John 1:14 PM  

This is all I have to say about the puzzle:

You're never gonna do it without the FEZ on.

(And you thought the Steely Dan references were long in the past!)

Stan 1:18 PM  

From Wikipedia article on "Possessive Adjectives":

Possessive adjectives, also known as possessive determiners,[1] are a part of speech that prototypically modifies a noun by attributing possession to someone or something (but see below). In English, the words my, your and her are examples. Possessive adjectives or determiners can eliminate repetition in a sentence by replacing a determiner phrase (or in other analyses, noun phrase): they allow us, for example, to say the girl took off her glasses instead of the girl took off the girl's glasses.

While some classify the words my, your etc. as possessive adjectives,[2] others do not consider them adjectives – at least, not in English – and prefer possessive determiners. This is because, in English, unlike adjectives, they can be substituted for and cannot co-occur with another determiner such as an article or a demonstrative. For example, I borrowed your book is grammatical, while I borrowed the your book is not (contrast the use of the adjective black in I borrowed black book and I borrowed the black book, where the situation is reversed). In some other languages the equivalent parts of speech may behave more like true adjectives, however.

The words my, your etc. are sometimes classified, along with mine, yours etc., as possessive pronouns[3][4] or genitive pronouns, since they are the possessive (or genitive) forms of the ordinary personal pronouns I, you etc. However, unlike most other pronouns, they do not behave grammatically as standalone nouns, but instead qualify another noun – as in my book (contrasted with that's mine, for example, where mine substitutes for a complete noun phrase such as my book). For this reason, other authors restrict the term "possessive pronoun" to the group of words mine, yours etc. that substitute directly for a noun or noun phrase.[5][6]

ArtLvr 1:29 PM  

@ Stan -- merely possessive pronomial adjectives?

p.s. There's also the spelling rhyme, to which I once added more but have forgotten:

I before E, except after C,
Or when sounded as A
as in neighbor or weigh...

Exceptions? please -- remember these:
WEIR, weird, and seize!

jesser 1:31 PM  

Stan done edumacated this here feller! I gots a whole nuther SCAD o' info.

Turge! -- jess

xyz 1:39 PM  

Generally likable puzzle, but a few too many ...

LASED preferred sp. LAZED, I would think, anyway LASED ick
ENOL as "Organic cmpd." sloppy, no-help clue
Oh Nooo ONO yet again, prefer the fish use
SAP as ooze? meh
ENT = head docs ~ sorta ... and
TYPERS a real stretch, oh it's medical and it's Will Shortz yet again! passes given ...

Liked COMA adjacent to EVEL as he stayed in my hospital when I was an Orthopedic Intern in 1977-78

And finally is TANG really a "little bite"?

Below average easy Weds., only hangs-up are crummy attempts at obtuse cluing.

George NYC 1:39 PM  

Is it just me, or was the fire bombing of Tokyo prior to Hiroshima and Nagasaki under-taught in American schools? As a matter of fact, it's hardly spoken of in Japan. The Edo Museum in Tokyo has beautiful exhibits about the history of Japan and Tokyo (once called Edo) and only a small, dark room devoted to the burning of Tokyo. One of the reasons Tokyo is such a daunting place to get around and "learn" is that it was rebuilt over the ancient street grid. I learned about Dresden in high school, but not about the destruction of Tokyo until I actually went there...

Unknown 1:47 PM  

Much enjoyment with this puzzle. Was happy to see Zelda, even if she wasn't referenced to Link.

10D took three tries to get right, dumber and denser being the missteps.

captcha = juvulu! I wish that were a word.

chefwen 1:53 PM  

@Jesser - So sorry to hear about your Jaguar, that is so sad. Speaking about kitties, did anyone else put in strays before SPARES at 4 across? I also fess up to slew before SCAD and wadi before WEIR. Had a little struggle in the GINZA, ERIQ, ARGUS area. I knew the boat was called Argo but didn't know ARGUS, whoever he was, built it.

Favorite clue was Nowheresville, the town I grew up in was a PODUNK town back then, now it's HUGE.

chefbea 2:02 PM  

@redanman If you add a little tabasco to whatever, it gives it a little bite.

Two Ponies 2:03 PM  

I feel really silly to have been fooled by the theme. I stared at what HAD to be a theme but got impatient and came here. Duh!
Podunk was fun but I agree that it has always be an adjective to me. I don't know enough to chime in on the thy discussion. I think the rest of you have covered it more than adequately.
Typers was odd but if it had been clued as part of a steno pool or something along that line it would have been shot down and rightly so. I'm OK with it as it is.
My mind was in the gutter for 23A.
Flaccid wouldn't fit.
Happy VD to you too Elaine. Ha! Good one.

xyz 2:06 PM  

Thank you Bea! DOH!

I prefer Jardine's Blazin' Saddles Habanero Sauce. How about you?

edmcan 2:13 PM  

An easy puzzle for such a torturous theme.

Clark 2:26 PM  

[Spotted cat] BENGAL of course. I thought Obi (who is always curled up with me when I cross words) made it into the puzzle. Not yet. He will have to content himself with being a Japanese sash.

I was gonna comment on THY, but @Stan, man, you are hard to follow! But, let me at least cast my vote for A Perfectly Good Clue.

dk 2:33 PM  

LOL @doc john. Steely Dan tunes take up a SCAD on my iPod, followed by RL Burnside.

I curse the TV clues, had mud for SAP and while OMEN is a favorite movie that fill was slow as molasses in January.

Rex, my valentines moment is June busten out. Next Victoria's Secret ad I laugh at, causing people to shift uneasily in their chairs , will be for you, ONLY you.

East coast puzzle pals if our weather patterns continue to be a day or two apart, expect cold days ahead. Imagine your car frozen in the ice by the curb. If that happens go to your local party story and rent the big tub units you boil crabs in (should be no problem getting one this time-o-year). Fill with water, boil said water and then pour it around your tires. Plan b, run hose from base of home hot water heater. Plan c, drink and wait.

*** (3 Stars) Everything one could want in a Wednesday

Elaine 2:36 PM  

The bombing of Tokyo took place quite a bit earlier, as a means of shaking the confidence of the Japanese; if the Americans could bomb the capitol city and threaten the Emperor, after all.... There was a B&W movie (Van Johnson in it, I think) made--possibly during the war--about the mission and the fate of the bombers and crews. But no history class I ever had got much past Pearl Harbor because we ran out of time! and most of our dads were WWII vets anyway.

'Lazed' if you were idle, but LASED if you've had a laser trained on you, mayhap.

Louisiana Hot Sauce here; we like the TANG of vinegar with our heat.

RE: wadi vs weir
A wadi is not a dam at all, but a kind of large arroyo (in the deserts of Arabia) where water MIGHT flow as it once did...

See you tomorrow!

retired_chemist 2:49 PM  

@ The redanman - a LASER LASES, and unless it is slacking off it doesn't LAZE.

@ GeorgeNYC - Same here re not knowing Hiroshima and Nagasaki involved that much human suffering until I was out of high school. I read a history of the relationship between Japan and the US, written by a Japanese and given to me by the wife of my Japanese host. Quite a remarkable difference in slant from the US public school version. And, no, the horror was not emphasized.

@ You NYCers - we are coming to NYC for the Westminster dog show, arriving this Saturday. What does your local weather look like for then?

mitchs 3:14 PM  

I'm 54 years old and I recall being taught fairly extensively about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but little if anything about the firebombing of Tokyo. Interesting, in that the firebombing almost as horrific as the atomic attacks in terms of human casualties (estimates in both cases) and destroyed 1/2 of Tokyo.

Another surprise to me, according to McCullah's "Truman", was that there was minimal gnashing of teeth over the decision to use the bomb. The human cost of the land invasion made the decision an easier one than I imagined

George NYC 3:15 PM  

@ r_c
No snow predicted for the weekend, but you know how forecasts are. We have steady snow at the moment which will last into the night. But accumulations don't last long in Manhattan, because of the heat generated by the buildings, subways, steam lines under the streets, high traffic etc. And they know how to plow and salt here. So I think your trip will be fine. And MSG is easy to get to via subway.

George NYC 3:20 PM  

# thee, thy, thine
My grandmother was a Quaker and used these pronouns all her life. I never could get them straight. When she was in her 80s, she adopted a parrot who had no trouble sorting them out.

Charles Bogle 3:42 PM  

Guess I'm w @retired_chemist and @lit.doc on the theme...willing to pass over it for VD and a terrific tasty testy Wed YALE locks-for many years they were made in a beautiful old highwall big window factory in Stamford CT-the Yale Towne Lock Co-biggest employer in Stamford--moved out in 60's I think and bldg lay fallow until my wife and other artists banded and formed Loft Artists Assoc...for 20+ years had fantastic studio space there, lots of community events, reasonable rent. Alas, new owner razed it last year and thinks he is going to build and sell luxury condos. Fortunately Mayor Malloy and others helped LAA re-locate down the street where they continue to thrive...EDYS and ALAN (Alda) n/w/s, fill was fun... Loved OCELOT, DOJO, PODUNK (thanks Rex for Joe Palooka clip; my 9 year old has a JP punching bag), AMPERE, VALSE....the middle NW gave me absolute fits. Put PUTON for actor's faint...SCAD was last cross-out write-in...also went at first w OUT for indisposed..breakthrough was substituting DRYHEAtY for TOEHEAtY. Thanks Mr. Sessa DRYu

Steve J 3:44 PM  

More thee/thy/thine:

As Stan's post showed, there's not consensus on where possessive pronouns stand in terms of grammatical categories. Were I diagramming a sentence, I would mark it as an adjective, as it is modifying the noun possessed by the person indicated in the pronoun.

So, THY could clued either as a pronoun or an adjective and be correct.

As far as the differences: Thou is actually the main pronoun, used as the subject (nominative form). Thee is used as the object (or accusative form). It once was the polite/familiar form of "you" (yes, "you" used to be the formal form in English; the familiar form started to disappear from use following the Elizabethan period). Thy is the possessive pronoun, again in the subject/nominative form. Thine is the accusative (object) form. You can map it out this way (I'm going to use the first person, since "you" doesn't inflect much in the various cases:

I = thou
me = thee
thy = my
thine = mine

Keep in mind that some of the cases shifted around a bit, so they weren't always used exactly as we do today.

lit.doc 3:49 PM  

Another Picayune Points of Grammar thread! I love it.

Disclaimer: I only actually care about any of this stuff when the gaff seriously screws with solving. But it's fun to kvetch.

As to THY's part-of-speech formality, I'll go with American Heritage (pronoun), while granting that some possessive pronouns *function* as adjectives modifying nouns. The only reason I even said anything is that "adjective" in the clue is unintentionally misdirective.

A small matter.

Steve J 3:51 PM  

As far as the actual puzzle (the last post was already long enough, and I wanted to leave it in isolation so that people who don't geek out on language like me can easily skip it):

I struggled a bit with this one. I misinterpreted the theme, which sent me off in the wrong direction. When I filled LOVELETTERS, the only theme answer I had at that time was HEARTOFSTONE. So I figured that since hearts are so tightly associated with love, the other answers would have similar sorts of words included. Of course, I could never find them.

Other big problem was the NW: I had DIMMER at first at 10D (I thought it was clever, since it fit with either sense of "not as bright"). Changed it to DUMBER when I realized I needed a U for UNUM. Sat staring at MOBTEN and FIRSTINMINE for ages, especially since I was wondering how MINE may connect to "love" (I told you my misinterpretation of the theme sent me off in the wrong direction). Yes, I did indeed feel DUMBER after I realized what I had done.

Ended up with a longish Wednesday time as a result. Oh well, I guess we can't knock all of them out of the park.

Oh, one thing: Credit to Ed Sessa for having so many three-letter answers and not having a bunch of crap in them. When I first looked at the grid, I thought to myself that things were going to get ugly. Overall, the short fill was decent and clued well.

jesser 3:53 PM  

Many thanks to all who expressed sorrow about the loss of the jaguar. He was magnificent. It is precisely because of that stupid fence that we will probably not see his likes again on U.S. soil. My S.O. is a Mexican national here legally and we both loathe that fence for all it represents at every level of reality and metaphor. Rant off. 3 and out.

Imoodir! -- jesser

George NYC 3:58 PM  

The thee-all and thou-all of Quaker thyness:

From the Interwebs

PC 4:00 PM  

Lyrics from Broadway musical and the movie "Carousel":

"JUNE is bustin' out all over,
The feelin" is gettin" so intense,
That the young Virginia creepers
Have been huggin" the bejeepers
Outa all the mornin' glories
On the fence."

Ah, summer and flowers!

chefbea 4:02 PM  

@charles Bogle - I know the area well where Yale town Lock was. They are re-doing that whole section of Stamford. When it is done should be really nice. Do you live in Stamford? You can e-mail me

PlantieBea 4:03 PM  

@jesser: rant well said.

retired_chemist 4:14 PM  

OK, one of you serious linguists tell us. Is there a relation between THOU, THY, THINE, THEE, and some version of Old German (or Scandinavian) for the German words du, dein, etc.? Possibly through the dental fricative eth/edh (ð)? Just askin'....

George NYC 4:24 PM  

I think we've set some sort of record for going of topic. Which is fine by me--I learn a lot here. Might have something to do with the fact that half the country is snowed in.

Speaking of which, in NYC, building owners are required by law to clear snow from sidewalks fronting their property. However, it is "illegal to shovel snow into the street." A Republican must have come up with these regulations...

Martin 4:35 PM  

I too mourned Macho B's stupidly mishandled capture and death -- a year ago when it happened. Why are we reliving it today?

Van55 4:59 PM  

I recant my comment on TYPER.

I took a moment to Google "blood typer" and it turns out the blood-typer is an actual job title!

Steve J 5:19 PM  

@retired_chemist: Yes, the thou pronouns - as well all English pronouns (I suppose there could be an odd straggler) - date back to Old English, which was Germanic in origin with a lot of Norse influence (which traces back to the same proto-Germanic roots as all Germanic languages). Forms changed a lot over time, of course, but if the etymology I looked up is correct, the Old English form was thu, which would have an obvious relation to the German du. However, there's also similarities to the Latin forms (i.e. tu), so it's possible this one stretches all the way back to proto Indo-European. In fact, the etymology reference a Sanskrit similarity.

And you're right about the phonology: you can feel in the movement of your tongue that t > d > voiced th (the old ð character) is a pretty natural progression.

Two Ponies 5:24 PM  

@ Martin, I think it all came to light on NPR this morning.

gaterels - a Cajun girl band?

lit.doc 5:25 PM  

I just can't resist.

@retired_chemist, you just *had* to ask, didn't you? Old English derived from what I've heard called variously Proto-Germanic or Proto-Indo-European, as did, presumably, Old German. "Thou", for example, was "pú" in OE, which seems pretty likely (I'm no etymologist) to have had an Old German cognate that became "du".

Best I can du. Adieu.

PlantieBea 6:19 PM  

@Martin: NPR did a piece on the jaguar this AM. Here's the link.

sanfranman59 6:31 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 10:37, 11:56, 0.89, 22%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:09, 5:52, 0.88, 17%, Easy

Martin 6:35 PM  

Two Ponies and PlantieBea,

Thanks for the jaguar update update.

Anonymous 6:38 PM  

I had "Peoria" for "Nowheresville." As in, "We open in Peoria." But I do know that's a real place ...

CoolPapaD 6:42 PM  

@edith b. There really is a Monkey's Eyebrow, KY. I remember a friend from KY telling me about it ages ago!

Loved the puz, theme, and Rex's take on it!

Speaking of Tokyo- article about Ramen noodle restaurants in last Sunday's NYT was wonderful!

retired_chemist 6:59 PM  

Thanks, @Steve J and @lit.doc re the etymological question.

Five (apologies) and crout (my CAPTCHA)

OldCarFudd 7:07 PM  

@Elaine - I think you may be combining two separate events. In 1942 there was a raid on Tokyo led by Doolittle. It was practically a suicide mission, as we had no bases from which bombers could reach Tokyo. Army B-25 medium bombers were launched from a aircraft carrier (a mission for which they were never designed) and made a sneak run over Japan, intending to overfly the country and land in China. Only a couple of planes made it. The others crash landed in Japan, and the captured crews were treated horribly. The movie, based on the book written (I believe) by Doolittle, was "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo". There was very little actual damage, except psychological; we effectively told the Japanese: "We're gonna get you." I've heard a story that we were counting on a guerrilla in China to give us radio fixes; his name was Mao Tse-Tung.

The fire bombing was much later, when we had recaptured many Pacific islands and had established air bases on them. The B-29 Superfortress bombers made many raids on many Japanese cities. The intent was generally to disrupt their war production, but the flimsy wood-and-paper construction of Japanese homes resulted in raging fires and untold civilian casualties. These raids were before the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, which came just as we were preparing to invade the Japanese home islands.

slypett 7:17 PM  

jesser: That fence is a symbol of all the hatred, suspiscion,and fear in this country, as well as being ugly and dispuptive of the flow of biota. Its mirror is airport security. The constraints on crossing the Canadian border are also disgusting

Noam D. Elkies 8:26 PM  

Another wrinkle about "thine" is that it's also the form of "thy" that's used before a vowel or sometimes h, as in "Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge" (Proverbs 23:12 [KJV]). Likewise for "mine" and "my", both for the same reason that "an" can replace "a".


Sfingi 8:48 PM  

Didn't get the theme, even when finished.

Did not know GINZA,DOJO,ARGUS as a person,
Had "dimmer" for DULLER, "our" for THY, "know" for ONTO.

Don't believe SCAD is a word anymore than "sud" is.

Sick of ALDA and EDYS.

Didn't like ONIT with ONTO with ASIS, or any member of the -ERS gang.
@David - had same idea about spring. I guess we want it so bad.

I did like OCELOT, PODUNK. COMA, SWOON, HELENE. is a great site for checking out your town for stats and old postcards. That would be East Podunk; we also refer to East Jesus as a hard to find Hicksville, since in NYS there really is a Hicksville.

@retired chemist - in German there are 2 ways of addressing people: formal and informal, still used. Thee goes to the formal Sie for you, Thy for Ihr, all capitalized. The informal, for family and kids, etc. is du, dir for you, your.

@Slypet - has anyone crossed to Canada at Cape Vincent lately? A few years ago, but after 9/11/01, we figured we would have to show our BCs but the guy said that when they told the Feds they'd have to close down unless the Feds paid the updates, the Feds said forget about it, then. We drove our full van onto the raft and crossed, no ID.
For the most part, Ed Sessa is just not on my wave length.

My captcha is malisman. Hope I meant no malice, man.

dk 9:19 PM  

Well it is a VD puzzle so here it goes: In the late sixties I met a girl from Stamford named Kim Palmer. We met on a beach in Florida and then met up again in Stamford for an ill fated weekend (got lost trying to get to Fillmore East among other things). The Stamford connections triggered my little grey cells. I know Stamford is big and all... but ya never know.

File under shot in the dark. email me if the name rings a bell, always been curious.

retired_chemist 9:21 PM  

@ Sfingi - I know.

@ all - I hope you watched/will plan to watch future presentations of Skip Gates' documentary, "Faces of America." Very powerful.

ArtLvr 9:33 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 9:49 PM  

A different wrinkle from modern-day Japan:

I was fascinated with an article yesterday noting the "Broken-Heart Syndrome", a medical condition first identified in Japan about ten years ago. It was named after a "tako-tsubo" (octopus trap) because of the similar shape taken on by the heart's left venticle -- quite different from the form seen in the more usual heart attack!

I can't post the link, but you can see the pot shape if you google "Diagnosis: Broken-heart Syndrome -". The odd point was that the victim hadn't necessarily suffered an emotional blow. The sudden death of a loved one could cause it, but even the shock of an unexpected surprise party could trigger this kind of heart attack!

Moral of the story: be careful in how you surprise your loved ones on Valentine's Day! It may be taken to heart, literally... though most people seem to survive it.


sanfranman59 10:32 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, 52%, Medium
Tue 8:12, 8:43, 0.94, 35%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:46, 11:56, 0.90, 25%, Easy-Medium

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

Steve J 10:47 PM  

@Sfingi: it's a common misconception, but thou and its various forms was not the formal/plural form of the second person. It was actually the informal singular. You/ye was the formal/plural. It seems formal now because it's archaic and shows up only in stuff like Shakespeare and the King James bible.

One over my quota for the day. Done.

Charles Bogle 7:14 PM  

@dk: no soap. Sorry

Term Paper 5:43 AM  

I'm actually glad to see all this stuff, to see that this world offers creativity and ideas other than what my lonesome small town provides.

Waxy in Montreal 1:48 PM  

In correct French, there's even a verb TUTOYER that I might use to inquire if I may address you as the familiar TU (THOU) instead of the much more formal VOUS (YOU). And if the answer's NON, there's little point asking VOUS for a date...

MikeinSTL 8:59 AM  

For some reason I got a kick out of seeing OMEN and COMA in the same grid, even though those are two movies from the 70s that kept me up many a night as a child. That's what happens when parents want to go to the Drive-In and just toss the kids in the back of the station wagon. :)

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