Companion of Algernon in Oscar Wilde play / FRI 3-19-10 / Joyner joiner / 1952 best seller set in California / Schaefer alternative

Friday, March 19, 2010

Constructor: Trip Payne

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: RUE (22A: Bitter herb) —

Rue (Ruta) is a genus of strongly scented evergreen subshrubs 20-60 cm tall, in the family Rutaceae, native to the Mediterranean region, Macaronesia and southwest Asia. There are perhaps 8 to 40 species in the genus. A well-known species is the Common Rue. [...] It is very bitter. It was used extensively in Middle Eastern cuisine in olden days, as well as in many ancient Roman recipes (according to Apicius, and is still used, for example in northern Africa. In Italy rue leaves are sometimes added to grappa to obtain grappa alla ruta. [...] According to The Oxford Book of Health Foods, extracts from rue have been used to treat eyestrain, sore eyes, and as an insect repellent. Rue has been used internally as an antispasmodic, as a treatment for menstrual problems, as an abortifacient, and as a sedative. [...] Rue is mentioned in the Bible, Luke 11.42: "But woe unto you, Pharisees! For ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs". (wikipedia)
• • •

Solid. Right over the plate. Almost generic in its Fridayness. Much more crosswordese than I care to see in a themeless puzzle, but otherwise just fine, with some very clever cluing here and there. Biggest trap in this puzzle — or the biggest one I fell into, at any rate — came at 20A: Joyner joiner? Took me a while to figure out what the clue could possibly be going for, but after a few crosses, I got it — it's the name that's "joined" to "Joyner" in the last name of track legend Jackie Joyner-KERSEY. That is how I spelled it. With a "Y." That seemed the only reasonable spelling, and its reasonableness was confirmed immediately by the "Y" cross: 21D: First name in design. Of course, the answer was YVES. Wham, bam, thank you, Ms. Joyner-KERSEY. But then I looked at NOSV- for 25A: They change people's profiles, and I knew something was amiss. But so sure was I of KERSEY / YVES, I actually yanked ERNEST for a bit, thinking maybe there was some other Wilde character starting ERNE- besides ERNEST (10D: Companion of Algernon in an Oscar Wilde play). Eventually pulled YVES and immediately got NOSEJOBS, but it never, ever occurred to me to pull the "Y." So I ended the puzzle wondering who this YERO guy was. Thought about it. Thought about it. Crosses check out. Must be r... oh, wait. It's not ... EERO!? KERSEE!? The revelation there was a big let-down. Never good when the big reveal involves a whole mess of "E"s.

A little heavy on the overly familiar crossword names today. EERO is just the tip of the iceberg. See also EDA, ELIA (11A: "The Praise of Chimney-Sweepers" writer), and ETTA (not to mention EMINEM45A: "The Way I Am" autobiographer). Throw in ORO (28D: Plata's partner) and LST (24D: Allied transport, for short) and NCOS and ETAS (19A: Viscosity symbols) and -ERN and a few others and it starts feeling pretty stale around the edges. No real marquee answers today. In fact, the more I think about it, the less this seems like a Trip Payne puzzle. It's just too dull. Even the longish answers are kind of listless. ALICANTE (37D: Spanish seaport) is really just high-end crosswordese. And ASSESSEE ... well, that's some kind of crossword crime against humanity (14D: Person who's been charged). I thought words like this (long, chock full of "E"s and "S"s) were considered beneath the great constructors. I've seen specific injunctions words like ASSESSMENTS before. Oh well. At least RAISE A STINK is kind of interesting (4D: Complain loudly).

Ingrid Michaelson "The Way I Am" (music video)

Where the puzzle does have pizazz is in its cluing. First two long Acrosses provide good examples. 1A: Land grant, of a sort (SHORE LEAVE). Complete repurposing of the familiar phrase "Land grant." And 15A: Person with a shaky story? (HULA DANCER) is even better. Lively, funny, wonderful. My first thought on encountering that clue was the much more morbid QUAKE VICTIM. Then there was 47A: Person from Moscow (IDAHOAN). Moscow is the home of the University of Idaho. My relatives used to live in nearby Lewiston, ID. My grandmother still lives in St. Maries, ID. Needless to say, this clue didn't fool me at all, but I suspect at least a handful of people blithely wrote in RUSSIAN.

Only mysteries today, beyond the spelling of KERSEE, were the Patty Hearst alias (TANIA) and the main ore of iron (HEMATITE). Figured the latter ended in -ITE. Got rest from crosses. Oh, and I'd never heard of RUE as clued. What else? ACORN gets a very fresh clue (8D: Voter registration grp. founded in 1970). Two physicists storm the grid, and run into each other in the process: FERMI (54A: Physicist with a unit of distance named after him) and AMPERE (49D: A in physics?). And OSSIE Davis turns out to have been in the '90s sitcom "Evening Shade" (34A: Davis of "Evening Shade"). That show had Hal Holbrook and Charles Durning too? Wow. That's talent. If they'd been the stars, I might have watched it. I *love* Charles Durning as Denis Leary's character's father on "Rescue Me." Fantastic, hilarious, unflattering role. Then there's this:

  • 31A: Schaefer alternative (STROH'S) — not sure why, but this was the first answer I wanted. I think the last time I saw SCHAEFER in a puzzle, I wasn't even aware it was a beer. And yet somehow, today, I knew it was a beer and (eerily, i.e. without any crosses) knew the "alternative" that was called for.
  • 67A: 1952 best seller set in California ("EAST OF EDEN") — not too hard when you have EDEN in place before you ever see the clue. Whole SE was a real piece of cake.
  • 12D: It was last an official Olympic event in 1908 (LACROSSE) — had no idea that anyone outside of North America ever played this sport.
  • 32D: Female octopus (HEN) — You'd think I'd know this by now. After considering SOW and EWE (?), I honestly contemplated writing "HER" in here.
  • 35D: 1994 Michael Keaton film in which real journalists have cameo roles ("THE PAPER") — How in the world did I remember this move? I saw it in the theater. Once. Maybe 15 years ago. I remember almost nothing about it. And yet, there it was. I wanted to call it "THE PRESS" at first, but eventually it fell into place.
  • 39D: Sheller's discard (POD) — that's what they call the hard outer casing of the crab.
  • 50D: Pathfinder producer (NISSAN) — came across a picture of my old Pathfinder in the snow and got weirdly nostalgic. I really miss that car.
  • 61D: Tibetan wolf's prey (YAK) — here are some stats you'll never need to know, courtesy of wikipedia:
Wolves can be a serious problem for livestock owners in Tibet. A study on livestock predation showed that the wolf was the most prominent predator, accounting for 60% of the total livestock losses, followed by the snow leopard (38%) and lynx (2%). Goats were the most frequent victims (32%), followed by sheep (30%), yak (15%), and horses (13%). Wolves killed horses significantly more and goats less than would be expected from their relative abundance.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Clark 1:24 AM  

Well I got STROH’S even if I thought it was some brand of pen I’d never heard of. (And that’s a beer I drank in my misguided youth.) I had KERSEY / YERI / ISSIE, I am ashamed to admit. EAST OF EDEN appeared with no crosses, for no reason I can think of.

I might take up YAK herding just so I can see a snow leopard!

chefwen 2:22 AM  

Yippee Skippy, I finished a Friday in a fairly reasonable amount of time. Of course I put in Russian at 47A thinking "that's too easy for a Friday" and I was right, it was. Also fell into the KERSEy/yERO trap, was going to Google yero to see what kind of a designer he/she was, but Rex set me straight. I believe that was my only error.

Any Friday that I can finish without getting a major headache is great! I will embrace Saturday with renewed confidence.

Elaine 2:36 AM  

Hand up for YERO. Never re-checked the grid for 'makes good sense.' Tut.

My first look at the clues made me quail, but HEMATITE and ALICANTE popped out of nowhere, and I actually finished this puzzle fairly quickly (under 30 minutes, though I don't really track times and never speed-solve.)

Only disappointment: wanted BUNBURY instead of ERNEST. Good old Oscar is always worth rereading. was still down yesterday when I got home at long last....will need it for my breakfast puzzle fix! Hi, there, 1:30 AM clubbers!

jae 3:02 AM  

More on the easy than medium side for me. I too questioned the KERSEE spelling but I had EERO before KERSEE so I stuck with it. Over all I liked this one but I agree with Rex that it's a mixed bag.

Oh, and hands up for Rescue Me as one of the best shows on TV.

Jesse 7:25 AM  

Sufi was a new one to me, and I couldn't get the cross either, since I thought it was a brand of pen. I don't know much about beer!

Smitty 7:49 AM  

Never heard a crab shell being called a POD, I assumed they were talking about shelling peas.
Nice puzzle. I had SHORE LEASE, as in shorelines, tidelands, etc.

Shaefer was an old east coast beer - "the one beer to have when you're having more than one" . It's competitor was Reingold - who held an annual "Miss Reingold" competition. The jingle went "Vote! Vote for Miss Reingold - Miss Reingold 1969"

(but Reingold was more than 6 letters)

mitchs 8:40 AM  

My whole family (Northern Indiana) drank Stroh's exclusively. When my brother moved to northern Montana it was unavailable, which triggered withdrawal pangs. Then a traveler wandered into the local bar and revealed that he had a case of Stroh's in his truck. He told my brother that if he could perfectly recite the (longish) blurb on the label , he would give my brother a six pack. He did, and he did.

Oh, great puzzle. Fun clues.

jesser 8:52 AM  

I sped through parts of this one and went really s-l-o-w through others. I confidently penned in folio at 9D, which complicated that sector something fierce. Add to that that I wanted hoarders for 51A and you can see how the west side of the Continental Divide was compromised from the get-go. I also wanted cornucopia for 17A, but never wrote it in, thankfully.

NOSEJOBS was my first entry to the grid, which saved me from Rex's yves over there. JUST THE SAME went down off the J, which saved me from the Russians at 47A. That side of the puzzle was cake. Good cake.

Once I unraveled the West mess, the puzzle fell in what felt like less-than-normal Friday time. Yay me!

For the first time ever, I have to disagree with Rex: I don't think of EMINEM as crosswordese. I loved that answer, as well as HELIX and PINY (although I think it looks better as piney). The wolf killing the YAK at 61D did not, however, pass my breakfast test. Never heard of STROHS; give me a Landshark, please.

Hope everyone has a great day and a fantastic weekend!

Partid! (a critical component of the schizophrenic psyche) -- jesser

Elaine 8:54 AM  

I have done plenty of crabbing (for others' dining enjoyment--I'm allergic)...and likewise plenty of shelling out of peas, limas, and dried beans. The latter have PODS, in my book.

Rheingold...I've never had one. Genessee, however, wasn't there an ale? But @Jesse: I thought of a PEN before I realized the spelling was off.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

even easier if you don't have DUD for the sheller's discard and YOGI for SUFI

dk 9:09 AM  

@clark, get a mac and you can see snow leopard every day.

Puzzle how did I fail thee, allow me to ENUMERATE.

The name fill... not so good. Misspelled Tanya, had Genia not OSSIE, Erno not EERO. Big mistakes cornucopia for INDIANCORN, tendon for KERSEE, and Lamb for ELIA... and IronCity would not fit as the Schaefer alternative.

Solid Friday. I like the mini odor theme with ONFOOT, REEK, RAISEASTINK, and NOSEJOB. Most of all I am happy to know female octopi are HENs, who hold on to things as well as any PACKRAT.

*** (3 Stars) Solid puzzles rule.

ArtLvr 9:11 AM  

I SKATED through with minimum difficulty, after my initial doubts. I didn't enter Yves because I saw it might also be Vera Wang! Ha. FERMI was Farad for a moment, though I knew it was wrong...

I did try old-timey bitter vetch ERS at first for RUE, but that gave a string of five Esses at ASSESSEE, a no-go. Also misunderstood the 67A clue to want people, like a jet set, so EAST OF EDEN was a hoot!

HEMATITE surfaced from some mental depths, as did the HEN octopus. Charitable TRUSTS are heard of every night on a certain CNBC program I usually try to avoid. Loved PACKRATS, SHORE LEAVE, NOSE JOBS and RAISE A STINK.

Very enjoyable way to start a Friday, especially with Rex's hysterical "crab pods"! Good one, Trip.


joho 9:20 AM  

When I saw "Female octopus" I said, rats! I only know what a male octopus is. That's when I turned out the light. This morning HEN and the rest of the puzzle became clear to me.

My favorite clue was "Person with a shaky story?" So much fun in that.

With the "R" in ORO I guessed CoRona but got Strohs after that no problem.

I think Rex is kidding about the crab pod. Rex?

It's always a great feeling to finish a Friday ... thanks, Trip Payne!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:31 AM  

Good, solid puzzle. Took me about 20 minutes, which makes it an easy - medium for me. Had the most trouble in the NW, thanks to the above mentioned clever cluing. I hadn't looked at the constructor's name til I got here - Should have known!

Just one write-over, had charitable CAUSES before TRUSTS.

Spent a bit of time with a "Y" at the top of 61 D, looking for a rebus which would yield YETI!

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

Parts went fast; parts went slow. The cluing today was great and kept me twisting and turning. Lots I didn't know too, e.g., Ernest, Elia, hen, that I'll have to try to remember.

I did know STROH's however, because the clue, Schaefer, brought to mind my younger brother's beer can collection. A dull can, however, compared to Old Frothingslosh.

Nancy from PA 10:11 AM  

My sister brought home a rue plant last summer and it yellowed on the counter as we tried to find a recipe calling for it. Finally, she said "What do you do with rue?" and I said, "Take it home and regret having bought it."

Good puzzle; 10 minutes, one error (SEGEL/LST was Natick for me).

desityl: zinc oxide ointment for chemists

Zeke 10:43 AM  

Jason SEGEL? Post (almost) solve, I looke the movie up in IMDB and he's the 37th listed actor. Right after the two people listed as "Open House Couple", but before Anwar Sadat, played by himself. Oh yeah, Anwar Sadat is a dog.

Rex Parker 10:45 AM  

He's the STAR of "I Love You, Man."

Rex Parker 10:46 AM  

Along with the dreamy PAUL RUDD.

Zeke 11:03 AM  

Hey, what do I know, I'm a hill-billy. The only theater in 100 miles has been showing Poltergeist for the past 23 years.

Two Ponies 11:04 AM  

I loved Rex's crab pod joke. Perhaps he throws those little laughs in there just to see if we are paying attention.
Very fun puzzle today.
Before Indian Corn I tried cornucopia. It fit but was soon eliminated.
Tania, who can forget the famous photo of her with her beret and machine gun?
@ Nancy from PA, Great comeback.
Wolves and big cats gotta eat too.
I don't like to think about the horse victims but the sheep and goats were going to be somebody's dinner just the same.
I love Denis Leary. Was just watching some season one episodes last night on Netflix.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Those who shell peas also discard pods!

Ulrich 11:28 AM  

Hands up for another white Russian! Early in the game, he delayed me a bit, too. Overall, I have to agree with joho: It's always a great feeling to finish a Friday--w/o googling, I may add.

@dk: I don't know how often I've put on my Mackintosh w/o ever seeing a snow leopard:-)

Moonchild 11:31 AM  

@ Anon. 11:18 Thank you Dr. Obvious.

On Fridays I don't mind some good old crosswordese to get me going. If not for a few of those I might not have gotten any traction.
I liked the mix of science and pop culture. Nice one Trip.

Greene 12:08 PM  

I have to agree with Rex's assessment of the grid. There's more crosswordese than I would expect from a Trip Payne puzzle and the longer answers lack the snap and pizzazz I love on a Friday outing. The whole thing has a sort of autofill quality to it, although the cluing is inventive and twisty.

On the whole I feel like one of those old NYC theatre critics who would damn each new Cole Porter show with faint praise, saying something like "perfectly fine work, but not up to Mr. Porter's usual standard."

But hey, at least the grid has EAST OF EDEN. I know it's not fashionable to praise Steinbeck on this blog, but God I do love that book!

Paul Prudhomme 12:17 PM  

We use RUE to thicken our Gumb.

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Dear Paul,
I sincerely hope you actually use roux and that your soup is gumbo.

SethG 12:38 PM  

It took me almost a minute to enter anything. My first answer: Jason BIGGS. Then on to ORO, then smooth from there, I think my second fastest Friday ever.

Other silliness: I thought there might be something called an India acorn before I had ACORN, and I think some of you have a name for that. Thought of COCO before DECO. OILY before PINY. I inferred TETE with no crosses. (Not even lacrosses.) EERO too--that chair's been pictured on this blog before. It's an Aarnio, Saarinen also designed chairs.

No Fred Dryer picture? Football!

chefbea 12:42 PM  

Had to google a bit but all in all a good puzzle.

Any one have Parker for Schaefer alternative???

Never heard of rue either

Clark 12:44 PM  

@dk -- A Mac is a poor substitute for a YAK. My mac has leopard; I think semi-puzzle partner has snow leopard.

My first thought for 15A 'Person with a shaky story?' was Katharine Hepburn, but it was too long. (My mom has essential tremor and is embarrassed by it. I think it makes her come across as mysterious, beautiful and exotic.)

Benjamin 12:51 PM  

Can someone explain how etas = viscosity symbols? Mu is the Greek letter that comes to my mind when viscosity is concerned. I even looked over the eta article on Wikipedia with no mention of viscosity while the viscosity article cited mu as the commonly used symbol at the outset. What am I missing here?

That aside, I really enjoyed the Constitution reference today.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

"There's rue for you, and here's some for me. We may call it herb of grace a' Sundays. You must wear your rue with a difference," so says, Ophelia to Gertrude in "Hamlet" (Act 4, Scene 5).

William Jefferson Starship Enterprise 12:58 PM  

I thought EELs were viscosity symbols (as in "slippery as an"). That screwed up the whole puzzle for me. Also thought the shaky folk were EPILEPTICS. Also thought my ass was my elbow but couldn't get it to fit.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Ophelia's speech in Hamlet - "There's rosemary, there's rue" springs to mind.

Hands up for Kersey/Yves and I fell into the Russian trap not being aware of Moscow in Idaho.

SethG 1:13 PM  

Benjamin, your Wikipedia article on viscosity said

The usual symbol for dynamic viscosity used by mechanical and chemical engineers — as well as fluid dynamicists — is the Greek letter mu (μ)[4][5][6][7]. The symbol η is also used by chemists, physicists, and the IUPAC[8].

η, the symbol used by chemist, physicists, and the IUPAC, is an eta.

Zeke 1:16 PM  

@Benjamin - My wife is a consulting Rheologist, designs and manufactures rheometers (for which I write the software), and the symbol for viscosity has always been eta. Complex viscosity is eta-star.

william e emba 1:50 PM  

Easiest Friday in a year or two, and probably my third fastest. ACORN gave me NOSEJOBS which gave me EERO. I realized at some point Joyner was part of the hyphenated name of the track and field athlete, but since I hadn't the foggiest memory beyond that, I happily accepted the -EE ending without concern.

I surprised myself getting HEMATITE off the clue. I'm big on science, yes, but my knowledge of ores is mostly limited to crosswordese like galena. But the HEMA- refers to the rust color "blood", and just sounded right.

I did not like seeing INDIANCORN cross ACORN.

I liked the cluing for TETE. With T---, I just went with crossword French, and decided, yes, Coup de TETE might well be a sudden impulse.

My biggest hangup was I had RDAS instead of RADS for "dosage units".

Why I like doing the puzzle in the paper, reason #201: the first page of the Arts section has an utterly fabulous picture of Dame Edna Everage, who shows up in the puzzle once every other year or so.

lit.doc 2:04 PM  

A perfect Friday puzzle in my book, so a tip o' the hat to Trip Payne.

As did others, ended up with YERO, never having heard of EERO. Happily, never even saw RUE after reading the clue, mumbling "eat me" under my breath, and moving on. Hand up for RUSSIAN to start.

I confess that, when I saw "Female octopus", I momentarily regretted both that it wasn't a BEQ puzzle and that there's a rule against repeating the clue in the answer.

Best solving moment:

Me to sis: "What's a Schaefer pen competitor that starts with STRO plus two?

Sis: "Umm, I dunno, STROHS?"

Me: (laughing) "No, that's Norwegian for 'green beer'".

Naturally, the STROH'S/HEN crossing was my last fill.

@Bob Kerfuffle, the increasingly ubiquitous yeti was, indeed, there. He was hiding behind his stalking yak.

OldCarFudd 2:05 PM  

I had all the same mistakes as Rex, but enjoyed the puzzle more. All eventually became clear without Googles, but the NW had some rewrites. Also a reright; I had put in TRUSTS, then took it out to put in Yves, then put it back to put in Yero before light dawned. Solid, enjoyable Friday.

Michael Hanko 2:09 PM  

Anyone else less than thrilled with RAISEASTINK coexisting with "Be a stinker"?

And Segel crossed with LST approached Natick territory for me. But that just shows my weak areas, I guess!

Stan 2:18 PM  

The minute I saw the ACORN / NOSEJOB cross in the empty grid, I knew this was going to be a cool, enjoyable puzzle. Great blend of misdirective and straight-ahead clues and science/history/pop culture. Most very in-the-language.

EMINEM was a big surprise for me because I don't think of him as an autobiographer (wanted to shoehorn in ELLERBEE). CANNERY ROW fits, by the way, but no-one else seems to have had that impulse. Also SEER confirms RUSSIAN, but I did not actually bite on this. SUFI was the point where the veils were lifted and all became clear.

Lots of fun -- thanks, Trip

william e emba 2:28 PM  

LST is crosswordese 101. Memorize it!

mac 2:33 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle with its triple stacks of tens and eights, although I also did the Kersey-Yves routine, wrote in RDAs and had Corona for a bit. Liked the Hula dancer, I was looking for a DT-related term! Moscow, Idaho came easily, we spent two years in Boise.

I knew hematite: it's made into beads, so I see it around. Don't like it, it's heavy and cold.

I thought Sufi was going to be the word of the day, will have to look that one up.

@Clark: what a nice way to describe your mother!

@Ulrich: go Hamburg!

jae 2:58 PM  

SEGEL also starred in Forgetting Sarah Marshall which was well reviewed. He reprised his vampire puppet song from that movie on Craig Ferguson's all puppet show at the beginning of this year.

Adding to my previous, my only real problem with this one was trying RECTO and FOLIO before settling on VERSO.

sanfranman59 4:13 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Fri 21:02, 26:05, 0.81, 9%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 10:57, 12:33, 0.87, 18%, Easy

Anonymous 5:16 PM  

With rue in the gumbo, remind me not to eat at Paul P's. (Wonder what Emeril uses?)
I put it in my herb bed and near the rose bushes because a) it's a pretty little plant with lacy blueish leaves and b) Japanese beetles don't like it.

archaeoprof 5:31 PM  

Today's constructor, Trip Payne, is a native of Spartanburg SC, my home, where Wofford College is located. Wofford narrowly lost to Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament this afternoon. Proud day for our community!

And a cool puzzle today too.

Lois C 5:45 PM  

"Schaefer Is the One Beer to Have When You're Having More Than One," The Brewery closed in the 1970s. It was in Brooklyn. Used to be the sponsor of The Brooklyn Dodgers (I think). It chills me to realize so many folks never heard of it. How about Rheingold? Or Ballantine?

Frances 6:20 PM  

Looking at 26D ("despite everything"), I had ----THE---- and confidently wrote in NONETHELESS, which did not, however, have a very long lifetime. I was so proud of CORNUCOPIA, until all the blank square around it dimmed its luster.

Elaine 8:38 PM  

@Anony 5:16
I think the Old World rue is different from 'rue anemone,' which you are describing. I believe it may have had medicinal uses, but it's quite different from the 'bitter herb.' This give crossword constructors a lot of leeway for cluing.

Bravo to Wofford for its showing; UA Pine Bluff is playing Duke, and we are just hoping for a merciful passing. Still, how cool is that? Small schools making the play-offs!

LST: if I am recalling this correctly--Landing Ship, Tank (much larger than LCT, Landing Craft, Troop)....a flat-bottomed ship, meaning that it will roll and toss on a calm sea. The poor, poor Navy LSTs plied the passage from island to island in Hawaii, often carrying military families on vacation jaunts. (Yes, we still required vacations, even if we lived in Hawaii.) That was how I came to view an erupting volcano...

michael 8:44 PM  

One of the easiest Fridays I've ever done. My biggest problem was deciphering the word that I have to enter to be allowed to post. (This is my second try). But I did have a mistake -- the intersection of segel and lst. It helped that my first two answers were kersee and idahoan.

Martin 9:00 PM  

Dunno, Elaine. True rue (Ruta graveolens) has lacy bluish leaves. I don't know that I'd call rue anemone or meadow rue bluish.

The rue family includes the citrus fruits. That's a lot more important to most of us than the herb that the family is named for.

JenCT 9:08 PM  

Late doing the puzzle, thanks to the poor kid who snapped the power pole at my house w/his mom's car. Luckily, he was fine - can't say the same for the car or the pole.

Hands up for Cornucopia, Russian, and even thought of someone with Parkinson's for the Shaky Story clue at first.

I actually have a Hematite necklace - yes, it's heavy & cold, but it looks great with my teal dress.

jae 9:16 PM  

@Elaine -- Your recall is a tad off. There is no LCT. The Brits had LCIs (Landing Craft Infantry) and the Americans had Higgens Boats or LCVPs for Landing Craft Vehicles/Personnel. The LCVP was the boat prominently featured in the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan.

Three and out!

PlantieBea 9:34 PM  

Nice Friday with a good blend of pop and science. Like Smitty, I ended with an error of SHORE LEASE. My last entry was SEGEL and I had to look him up to fill in a couple of letters. Favorite clue and answer: HEN. I appreciate the RUE comments; I'm not familiar with that plant.

mac 9:45 PM  

I've had rue in my herb garden many years; the foliage is pretty and bluish green, the flowers small and pale yellow. I've only found one recipe to use it in (Thomas Keller's French Laundry book) and I haven't tried it. I know some people who say they get hives when touching it.

deerfencer 9:47 PM  

@ Lois C: My grandpa, Curley Hayes, was a Schlitz salesman/distributor in Bridgeport, CT when I was growing up in the early 60's. His basement held a virtual cornucopia of brewery marketing gizmos/displays of old classic NY brands including Rheingold, Schmitz, Schaeffer, Ballantine, etc. Good luck finding those brands anywhere these days.

His sales route took him through the toughest parts of town, including the aptly named Father Panik Village, and he packed a gun under his seat just in case.

He also had a sawed-down miniature pool table in his basement that was a favorite destination for the grandkids. Many fond memories of bumping cue-sticks into the walls trying to get off a shot.

Long live Schlitz!

Bill from NJ 11:00 PM  

The comversation regarding Schaeffer Beer took an interesting turn. In the mid70s, I attended the Grand Rapids Raft Race on the Grand River which was sponsered by radio station WLAV where anything that could float was launched and it was an excuse to drink beer while waiting for the contraptions to appear from around the bend.

We met some people in from Colorado who had Coors beer and were excited to trade some of it for the Strohs that we had and, of course, we were just as excited as they were.

This was in the days where most beers were regional and, as usual, the grass was always greener , etc. It is interesting that a lot of people had similar memories

edith b 1:01 AM  


I've stumbled into that IMDB trap myself. I took my granddaughter to see "I Love You, Man" and that Segel fellow was indeed the star and was listed 37th.

Sometimes the actors are listed in order of appearance or alphabetically but there doesn't sem to be any rhyme or reason in how they are listed. If you haven't seen the movie, it is difficult to tell fromm IMDB who the star was.

Word to the wise (from the unwise)

sanfranman59 1:29 AM  

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

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

Mon 6:55, 6:55, 1.00, 54%, Medium
Tue 9:25, 8:54, 1.06, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 13:58, 11:50, 1.18, 88%, Challenging
Thu 23:59, 19:28, 1.23, 91%, Challenging
Fri 21:16, 26:06, 0.81, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:30, 3:40, 0.95, 43%, Medium
Tue 4:30, 4:31, 1.00, 54%, Medium
Wed 6:39, 5:48, 1.15, 82%, Challenging
Thu 12:25, 9:21, 1.33, 95%, Challenging
Fri 10:33, 12:33, 0.84, 15%, Easy

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Wouldn't POD for "sheller's discard" more likely refer to a PEA pod than a crab shell?

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

From syndication land...I was really surprised that nobody commented on "Ernest" vs "Earnest". Mr. Wilde called his character Earnest, and I believe that, without a (var.) stipulation, that the answer is just wrong!


Oscar Wilde 12:23 PM  

@Bob/Anonymous 11:34 AM -- Sorry, old chap, but you are one "a" short of an alphabet.

The character in my play is indeed named "Ernest." The word "Earnest" in the title of the play suggests what you in your age might call "gay."

Singer 12:30 PM  

Anonymous 11:34 (Bob)
"The Importance of Being Earnest" is the title of the play, and a play on words. Two characters in the play (Algernon Moncrieff and Jack Worthing) use the same alias, Ernest Worthing. The clue and answer are both correct, as is the spelling

impjb 9:03 PM  

This is the first Friday I was able to finish this year. For some reason, the answers poured out of me. I saw "The Paper" in a theater as well. If my memory is correct, it may have been the only movie I saw in a theater that year, and it was not very good. Maybe this is some kind of karmic payback.

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