Old time actress Talbot Nita / MON 4-5-10 / Boast of some shampoos / Muscat's land / Grueling grilling

Monday, April 5, 2010

Constructor: Nancy Salomon

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Wake and Bake — familiar "blank AND blank" phrases, where the blanks rhyme

Word of the Day: ALTA (1D: Resort near Snowbird) —

Alta is a ski area located in the Wasatch Mountains, just east of Salt Lake City, Utah. With a skiable area of 2200 acres (8.9 km²), beginning at a base elevation of 8530 ft (2600 m) and rising to 10,550 ft (3216 m) for a vertical gain of 2020 ft (616 m). Alta is one of the oldest ski resorts in the country, opening its first lift in 1939. It has an average annual snowfall of 514 inches (1,306 cm). Alta is one of three remaining ski resorts in America that prohibits snowboarders, along with nearby competitor Deer Valley and Vermont's Mad River Glen. // Alta is one of the oldest ski areas in the U.S. and is one of just a few ski areas in America that limit access to skiers (snowboarders are not allowed). It is best known for the ash-light quality of its snow, commonly referred to as "powder" snow. Located at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon barely 30 miles from the Great Salt Lake, Alta resides in a unique micro climate characterized by high volume, low moisture snowfalls. Typical annual snowfall totals exceed 500 inches (1270 cm).
• • •

After LOWPH (3D: Boast of some shampoos), I pretty much tuned out. This one is a dud from stem to stern, with a tired theme that feels like it's been done a million times, even if it hasn't. Not imaginative at all. Except for DOOM AND GLOOM, the theme answers are mostly lifeless. I wonder how long the list of viable theme answers is — SHAKE AND BAKE ... MEET AND GREET ... SLICE AND DICE ... I don't know that the most interesting possibilities are even in the grid. Not much that is substantial or compelling today. A real "I don't care" attitude in the non-theme fill. I mean, OMAN *and* ORAN? Come on. It's like you're not even trying. Even the longish answers in the NE and SW are just OK. The whole thing simply did not feel up to the standards of an NYT puzzle, honestly. Also, it played more like a Tuesday than a Monday, but that's more observation than complaint. I think I INSIST (4D: "No use arguing with me") is probably the most noteworthy (and likable) thing here. Never seen it before (that I can remember). Weird double-I to start. Weirder — the puzzle has two double-I answers; see also SHIITE (24A: Marjority Muslim in Iran). Odd. Curious. But not enough to rescue the puzzle from Dullsville.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Campus/off-campus community, collectively (TOWN AND GOWN)
  • 27A: Confederate flag (STARS AND BARS) — yay, Confederacy. Gotta love the treasonous flag of slave owners. Happy Monday!
  • 46A: Extreme pessimism (GLOOM AND DOOM)
  • 61A: Damage from ordinary use (WEAR AND TEAR)
I'm going to choose to believe that the answer to 51A: Job for a roadside assistance worker is TOWIN', because TOW IN is crap. It's a TOW. That's the job. If you work for a garage, then maybe you TOW the car IN to the garage, but "roadside assistance worker?" Not sure what "IN" means there. One thing about TOWIN' — it is a hell of a lot better than -ATOR (8D: Suffix with origin).

  • 1A: Going for broke, as a poker player (ALL IN) — my first answer. When I tried to confirm the Downs, I got wanted VAIL for ALTA, AXELS for LOOPS (2D: Figure skating figures), nothing for LOWPH, nothing for I INSIST, and NEA for NEA (5D: PBS funder).
  • 57D: Grueling grilling (ORAL) — none of the ones I've seen (and taken) were "grueling." "Challenging," maybe, but the committee is generally on your side. They're not trying to break you. You're not tied to a chair. It's not (exactly) a hazing ritual.
  • 14A: Sarge's superior (LOOIE) — when you need four consecutive vowels, I guess this is the answer you go to.
  • 37A: John Lennon's lady (YOKO ONO) — his "lady?" You know, he wrote a song about her. It was not called "Lady." "Lady" is Kenny Rogers. "Woman" is John Lennon. Maybe you meant "old lady?" but I hope not.

  • 44A: Hat for a military specialist (BERET) — strangely, also [Hat for a beatnik].
  • 62D: "The Book of ___" (2010 film) (ELI) — Never saw the clue, which is good, as I don't remember this film at all. Now that I look it up, I did see ads. Clearly I didn't see it, but clearly someone did, as it has somehow grossed $94M.
  • 18D: Old-time actress Talbot or Naldi (NITA) — "Talbot?" She brings nothing to the party. If you don't know Naldi, you sure aren't going to know the far less famous Talbot. Also, ridiculous to call them both "old-time" when one (Naldi, b. 1895) was a star of silents and the other (Talbot, b. 1930) is still living and had the peak of her career in the '60s-'80s.
  • 60A: Lincoln, the Rail-Splitter (ABE) — Good thing you had "the Rail-Splitter" in there. I might have confused him with ABE, the Body-Builder, ABE, the Bank Teller, or ABE, the Vigoda.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


jesser 7:55 AM  

I liked this one better than Rex did. I loved the mini-theme of double vowels just all over the place, most notably those IIs that Rex mentioned. But look around and they're just everywhere, nesting. I suppose it is springtime and a young vowel's thoughts turn to love.

Any puzzle with POOL TABLE in it is likely to make me happy. In my present job I attend meetings -- so many meetings -- and I have resolved that if/when I retire there is NO civic issue that will draw me back to another meeting. I shall be found in poll halls and on golf courses.

I must give major blog love to 56A, where I would have Naticked today if that discussion had not occurred, what?, last week? Why would I have Naticked? Because I know not this NATE fellow, and I've heard of dotters, but never a DOTARD.

And now, before I wade IN TOO DEEP, I better get scootin' and launch this day. There are meetings to prep for, by golly. Sigh.

Rowya! (Well, if your call stalled out in a gulley, I can't be TOWIN' ya, can I?) -- jesser

Elaine 7:58 AM  

I actually found this more interesting than the usual Monday, just because I wasn't slapping answers in without pause. Ended up with no write-overs, though, so there were no stumpers.

Is a puzzle with a BADGER, a POOL TABLE, and a CAR DEALER all bad? One does not often see DOTARD, a word that hits too close to home here.

STARS AND BARS-- not really [The Confederate flag,] which was blue, with a single star. The battle flag, which is now associated with hate groups and domestic terrorism --and seen in every state of the US by the way--we can all do without. (Say, is that barn with the painted roof and burned cross still next to the interstate between Cincinnati and Columbus?)

Looking forward to the late week.

r.alphbunker 8:04 AM  

I liked "lowph" and don't feel that the puzzle deserved the review that it got.

dk 8:22 AM  

I liked it that ABC were the first letters of the fill for first 3 across clues.

I like remembering that Mad River (my go to ski area when I lived in VT) a single chair (one person), a big square lodge called The Box and no snowmaking or grooming: Old School.

A dogsbody's puzzle -- I just filled in the blanks.

* (1 Star)

d (as in DOTARD) k

mac 8:43 AM  

I also thought the double Is in the NW were going to be the theme and looked forward to inventive clues and answers - not.

Dotard is my favorite word, but I also like "I insist", "I lied" and "in too deep".

@dk: the Y is in place at the bottom, would have been neat to have 67A start with X and 69 with Z.


ArtLvr 8:46 AM  

I thought this was rather good for a Monday, with enough unusual fill to keep it from being ho-hum.

The STARS AND BARS -- especially timely for me, as I'm looking for a prospective buyer of a rare 1863 painting by C W Chapman of a Confederate cavalry camp in which he served for ten months!


chefbea 9:10 AM  

Good easy monday puzzle. Now let's see if my google account will let me in.


joho 9:11 AM  

I thought this more interesting that most Mondays. I liked seeing all of YOKOONO in the middle. IINSIST/SHIITE is unexpected and fresh.

@dk ... nice observation about ABC and @mac ... I agree, XYZ would have been terrific. I guess that's what @rex is talking about in his write-up ... not enough effort put into making this puzzle sparkle.

I wanted OOMPH for LOWPH which would definitely have added some kick.

Still, I wouldn't rate this an EDSEL.

retired_chemist 9:17 AM  

ALL the theme answers were gimmes with no crosses needed. I was headed toward my first sub-5 minute Monday and indeed had a filled in grid at 4:48. On the recheck I found the NE was FUBAR, with ETA for ARR and SHAKO for BERET. Also HMO was AMA. (Can you tell I was zipping through the across clues without paying much attention to the downs?) When I fixed all that, I was at 5:30 and my Monday goal remained unachieved.

Chose SUNNIS @ 24A because it had six letters and SHIAS didn’t. Oops…..

John V 9:22 AM  

Thought this to be a typical Monday, save for NE. lowph and iinsist -- the doubled i -- gave me a bit of a pause, but still done, well before hitting GCT.

PIX 9:29 AM  

OREIDA = OREegon + IDAho

A low pH shampoo means it is more acidic than other shampoos...a strange selling point.

Puzzle seemed like an OK challenging Monday puzzle to me.

Glitch 9:40 AM  


You seem to be right and wrong at the same time :)

The Stars and Bars, known as the First National Flag of the Confederacy, consisted of a blue canton in the upper left staff corner with a circle of seven through thirteen white stars, representing each Confederate state...


retired_chemist 9:41 AM  

@ PIX - soaps/shampoos are naturally higher pH than hair and skin. It is advantageous to buffer to that lower pH. I think saying "pH balanced" is indeed better salesmanship, but the point is exactly the same.

PurpleGuy 9:51 AM  

I have attended three universities, have three degrees, and lived in Boulder, CO. I have never heard or encountered the expression TOWN AND GOWN.
Can someone explain ?

I agree 100% with Rex in his writeup. This puzzle was a real drag. No love here at all.

JayWalker 10:00 AM  

Well . . . I attended two universities, taught at two and have ALWAYS heard the expression TOWN AND GOWN. Were you not listening? It refers to that sometime snarky and often contentious relationship between the college town inhabitants and the students at the higher learning place. I AM older than a bag of dirt, so that might explain the discrepancy. Sort of like asking a younger person to define "buggy whip." Other than that, I didn't mind today's puzzle at all. Found it a bit weirder than most Monday efforts, but liked it nonetheless. After all - Monday Puzzles are almost always "gimmes."

Bob Kerfuffle 10:06 AM  

Wow! A Monday puzzle with two related themes. Not just _ and _, but, by my count, 17 pairs of doubled letters, including the double I in SHIITE. This didn't happen by chance. Thank you, Nancy Salomon!

Can't read how many tries it took for me to get to LOOIE.

addie loggins 10:19 AM  

I had a very different reaction from Rex's. I found the puzzle breezy and fun, exactly how I like my Mondays. The theme may be tired for long-time solvers, but I hadn't seen it before and thought it was a perfectly good, fun theme for a Monday (and clued quite well).

I am impressed at how little "crosswordese" there is in the puzzle and, while LOOIE is a bit of a stretch, I see nothing wrong with LOW PH or TOW IN. I wonder if those who didn't like the puzzle would have had a different reaction if they had started in the southeast.

I just saw IINSIST a couple of days ago. Thought it was in the Times, but I guess not -- perhaps in a BEQ puzzle? I can't keep them all straight anymore.

@retired Chemist: I also had ETA, SUNNIS and AMA. I fixed the last two quick enough, but didn't see the ETA mistake until I was checking at the end. Funny how so many of us made the same errors.

Ulrich 10:36 AM  

I'm with those who enjoyed this Monday's workout--aided and abetted perhaps by the glorious sunshine outside and the vowel clusters all over the palce--thank God that Looie guy made his appearance a little while back--it helped me greatly.

@SteveJ (as per late last night): Very perceptive comment on differing place names in different languages--behind every difference, there is a history, which would be obscured if the differences were to disappear. It holds for names of cities, too--"Milano" is "Mailand" in German, which indicates that the two go way back.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:38 AM  

Forgot, as addie loggins (hey, two pairs of letters there, too!) notes, the double I in IINSIST. And, as Rex noted, the four standard theme entries are all of the XABC and YABC variety. I think this would be a tough puzzle to duplicate!

Stan 10:58 AM  

Whether the vowel-y smoothness of this puzzle comes across as charming or bland explains the two types of responses it's getting.

Change-a-letter sub-theme in OMAN/ORAN/ORAL/ARAL. Hey where's OMAR from "The Wire"?

Jim H 11:16 AM  

Rex, I have to disagree on NITA Talbot, if only for her recurring role on Hogan's Heroes as the wacky Russian spy.

Otherwise not much to disagree with. A silly puzzle, up with which I will not put.

foodie 11:20 AM  

This puzzle demonstrates something I learned from Andrea-- that beautiful Monday puzzles are an art form. This one, IMO, had lovely features but was slightly off the mark. I agree that the double vowel feature is a hidden little treasure. But I also agree with Rex that something about it felt overly familiar, like maybe you've done it before in one of the NY Times crossword calendars that you got as a stocking stuffer.

Nevertheless, I got hung up in a couple of places, esp. the NW, probably because I cannot spell LOOIE.

But also, I did not like the clue for TOWN AND GOWN. Before I got the theme, I put in STUDENT BODY-- that is a community of people who live both on and off campus. TOWN and GOWN, is really implies a more adversarial relationship than the "community, collectively" connoted to me.

DJG 11:30 AM  

"The whole thing simply did not feel up to the standards of an NYT puzzle, honestly."

Exactly. This one felt more like a puzzle in an in-flight magazine that you solve, even though somebody has already filled in a few wrong answers in pen, because the battery in your portable DVD player just died.

Sfingi 11:32 AM  

I thought DOTARD was unPC. Let me run it by a few people at the home. Maybe I'll get a laugh at that heartbreaking place.

I agreed with Rex on most all; however, I had to Google for ALTA and LOOPS, otherwise would not have got ALLIN on crosses. Those 3 show the whole NW corner was too sportsy. (I count poker as a sport.)

@dk - can't let an expression I don't know fly by - what's a dogsbody puzzle?

@PurpleGuy - if you live near or attend a "classy" college (such as Hamilton in Clinton or Skidmore in Saratoga Spa.), you hear TOWNANDGOWN a lot. The collegiates tend to look down on the townies.
Maybe it's an oldsters thing, though.

@Foodie - my first thought was "student body," but I was unsure and waited.

@Glitch - direct us to a picture, please.

lit.doc 11:32 AM  

Solid Monday puzzle. Came in just under ten, which is high-medium for me.

Thought the theme was perfectly nice for a Monday. Emphasis Monday. One point in its favor is coherence of both form and content--each of the theme answers has a negative connotation.

I do agree with Rex re TOW IN not qualifying as, um, well, as anything. TOWIN', while generous, fails to redeem it, as the clue calls for a noun, not a slangy gerund.

On the plus side, it wasn't VIET.

@Bob Kerfuffle, I so totally wasn't sure which way to spell LOOIE (I've also seen "looey", and wouldn't be surprised at "lieu'y" or even "louie") that I just waited for the crosses.

@Purple Guy, I'll call your taught at two universities and raise you a degree (two from Boulder, which I miss a lot), and concur in JayWalker's explanation of TOWN AND GOWN (except for his or her snarky and contentious "Were you not listening?").

Steve J 11:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 11:36 AM  

I do like Mondays that make me slow down and think a bit. Assuming that they slow me down for good reasons. I'm not so sure that's the case here.

IINSIST did throw me for a while (to the point I erased ALLIN for a moment), and I do think that one falls into the "clever" category. LOWPH does not. Not just because I read it as one word at first and sat there mildly fuming, WTF is lowph? Finally the lightbulb for "low-pH" went on. It did not brighten my mood.

Hated TOWIN, wasn't fond of TOWNANDGOWN. Theme answers overall were way too easy, even for a Monday. Got nearly all of them (all other than TOWNANDGOWN) off of no more than three crosses.

CARDEALER was a nice misdirection for a bit. Tried to fit CADILLAC at first (off the C in CFO), saw that didn't fit, but CHEVROLET did. Quickly discovered that mistake, but it's better than my normal automaton-like Monday progression.

@Ulrich, thanks for the comment. Being fascinated with language would hardly make me unique here, but one thing I love on top of that is the whys of language and how different languages and terms have evolved as they have. I know I'm a geek, but I get excited when I learn about unexpected relationships (like "tedesco" and "deutsch" actually being close linguistic cousins).

@Rex: Looooove the theme title. If someone actually worked WAKEANDBAKE into an NYT puzzle, I would indeed be impressed.

Two Ponies 11:43 AM  

This was a great day to be a Glider rather than a Jet.
The vowel combinations were fun esp. the Iinsist as many have noted.
Fine Monday in my book.
Thanks to @ retired_chemist for the shampoo info. I was hoping you would chime in on that.
When I saw Nota Bene I wondered if it would ring a bell from last week for some that were unfamiliar and I see that it did for @jesser. The lessons in crosswordese are sinking in! That's what Mondays are for.

PurpleGuy 11:46 AM  

Many thanks to @JayWalker and @Sfingi for the discussion of TOWNANDGOWN. I'm not a youngster so I wonder if it's a regional expression. My experience was more the "townies" or locals looking down on the Greek houses and not the collegians.

Hope everyone had a nice weekend. Warm here, so off to do some weeding. Have a great day.

Tinbeni 11:47 AM  

I look forward to Monday, just for the confidence boost after Sat.

Puzzle reminded me of going to college a zillion years ago.

Financed primarily by going ALL IN on the POOL TABLE. My foes didn't even realize they were IN TOO DEEP before the GLOOM AND DOOM hit them.

Saw a news item, the ARAL Sea is 90% gone.

I hate clues like 8D, Suffix with origin, ATOR.
Didn't see it until @Rex pointed it out in the write up.

retired_chemist 11:49 AM  

Wikipedia shows tow-in as a surfing reference, which would have been a valid clue, albeit IMO hardly Mondayish. Google's first page doesn't show tow-in as an automotive reference, but the phrase didn't bother me.

Luke 11:49 AM  

I'm going to agree with Rex on the dullness of this puzzle. I did like LOWPH, IINSIST only after I got them. I found the cluing for IINSIST a bit off though. The LOWPH clue was just, err, not obvious at all. I don't hear commercials for shampoo boasting LOWPH. Oh well. Also, TOWNANDGOWN? Never heard that expression before and I've been in university for three years now. Still easy to infer though.

Finally, the clue "Lincoln, the Rail-Splitter" really didn't suggest ABE to me. Just Lincoln would have and I've never heard the Rail-Splitter name. Made me think it was wrestler. Personally, I want to see Abe the Vigoda in a puzzle now.

PurpleGuy 11:50 AM  

@lit.doc - I didn't teach at two universities. That was "snarky" Jay Walker. I said I attended 3 universities and have 3 degrees. I,too, miss CU and Boulder.

three and out !

Noam D. Elkies 11:59 AM  

I guess Rex disagrees that half a 3D:LOWPH is better than none.

4D:IINSIST is rare but not quite new: xwordinfo remembers two prior instances, in 1999 (co-authored by the same Nancy Solomon) and 2002, both cluing along the "it's my treat" line. It was also featured in a recent Matt Gaffney puzzle as part of a square of four I's(!) that was in turn one of six such squares that form the theme. He didn't use 24A:SHIITE to complete the square.

27A:STARSANDBARS is also a nickname for a standard trick in combinatorial mathematics, so called because one often draws vertical bars to separate the stars representing the objects whose possible configurations are enumerated. No way that this would be used for a Monday clue, though...

What's a "bonkmend"?


Masked and Anonymous 12:26 PM  

This puz should have plenty of deja vu for BEQ. His Tuesday puz of 25 Mar 1997 had theme answers of GLOOMANDDOOM, HUSTLEANDBUSTLE, and SHAKEANDBAKE.

But that fact alone does not, IMHO, detract from today's effort. For one thing, a Monday puz with LOWPH really helps my digestion. For another thing, it's got CARDEALER, FRIEDRICE, POOLTABLE, INTOODEEP, IINSIST, DOTARD, SHIITE and YOKONO buzzing around in there like a buncha fresh hornets. Plus I l-o-v-e Donald Duck, especially in the Carl Barks comics.

Thumbs pretty far up, man!

Moonchild 12:29 PM  

I dunno, maybe the Easter Bunny didn't bring some of you enough chocolate yesterday.
Or maybe it was the downers of the theme answers but I liked this one.
The rhymes made it fun and easy.
I even learned a new word dotard.
I only knew dotage.
Town and gown reminded me of the movie Breaking Away set at IU in Bloomington, Ind. Good flick.

Shamik 12:42 PM  

I am merely grateful to:

a) have a computer again...even if I do have to share it.

b) to do ANY crossword puzzle on AcrossLite even if the different size keyboard is slowing me down a bit. (Thank you, bookstore at ACPT so I could do Wrath of Klahn puzzles in pencil.)

c) to read this blog again.

d) to relish how much Rex disdains a puzzle.

e) oh hell...i'm just grateful.

Howard B 12:52 PM  

Rex, just don't mess with The Vigoda. You don't want any of that.

Masked and Anonymous 12:58 PM  

By the way, a big thumbs up on Rex's review, too. Some really funny stuff in there. When I saw "BLAND and blank" as part of the theme description, I knew we were in for a ride.

andrea ii michaels 1:10 PM  

@Moonchild, sfingi
I also didn't know DOTARD, had DOTAGE and was a little too worried it was a bit like calling someone a retard. Or one of those medical words like moron that becomes a name-calling epithet...
whole thing made me uneasy.

(you and I have to talk, but I should prob do it off line so I don't get hammered!)
Gotta say I'm with Rex fill-wise on this one, from ARAL to OMAN to ORAN to NOTA to NITA to AMO crossing with HMO. And ATOR should be somewhere else, not here.

*And I'm still wondering about SHOED!)

This is the first time ever I felt love for YOKOONO. It took seeing her name in full in a crossword to do it!

I love the rhyming theme even tho the fill surprised me a bit for a Monday (LOWPH and DOTARD, eg)

@Bob Kerfuffle
Now I wonder how intentional the double vowel theme was...bec she is THE teacher/mentor of new and not-so-new constructors, so I suspect if it were intentional, she'd have had AARON and VACUUM in there somewhere!
Hey! Now that's an iidea!

wow, my captcha is putizg...now there it is in bold letters that I need to get to work!

Clark 1:18 PM  

I worked for a towing company back in the day. There are two kinds of jobs. Jobs where you tow someone from wherever they are to some place other than the shop, and jobs where you TOW them IN to the shop. Hey Ralph, we've got another TOW IN for you. I totally made that up. All of it. But it seems so plausible that I am ok with TOW IN.

@retired_chemist -- I missed you.

The Imam Ali 1:23 PM  

Retired_chemist writes:

"Chose SUNNIS @ 24A because it had six letters and SHIAS didn’t. Oops….."

SHIITE happens.

[duck & cover, surf & turf, etc.]

sendy 1:39 PM  

i thought this fairly sang in spots,had a tuba as well as an oboe .well balanced work.rex likes mondays like roger ebert likes romantic comedies.failed my first turing-rats

andrea uu michaels 1:48 PM  

now it's official, I spend too much time on this blog
(or too much time this weekend with Trip's April Fool's puzzle)
Just now in the shower I caught myself counting on my fingers how many letters there were in TOOCOOLFORSCHOOL (16, drat!) and AARONTHEAARDWARK or HAWAIIANSHIITE or MUUMUUVACUUM!
(Lanai lint-roller?)

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

Low pH's are acidic, and therefore should not be the boast of any shampoo!

That bothered me.

Gubdude 2:11 PM  

This was an ok puzzle for a Monday. Didn't care for it too much but didn't abhor it either.

Rex's rant about putting in "the Rail-Splitter" reminds me of the Jerry Seinfeld bit about Bozo the Clown. "Does he really need 'The Clown' at the end of his name? Are we going to confuse him with Bozo the District Attorney?"

CoolPapaD 2:33 PM  

@Steve J - thanks for your comments and insight last night - interesting stuff.

@ACME - your late night catboard comment just made me howl out loud!

This one was tougher than usual for a Monday, but found it more fun that Rex. Have NEVER heard of a DOTARD - sounds a bit politically incorrect...

Elaine 2:36 PM  

Okay, you made me look it up.

There were a lot of flags--making the [Confederate flag] clue very vague to start with; the one I was referring is pictured in Wikipedia-- one star centered on the blue background.
"Most famously, the "Bonnie Blue Flag" was used as an unofficial flag during the early months of 1861. It was flying above the Confederate batteries that first opened fire on Fort Sumter."
Hence the 'ballad' with the refrain (vaguely recalled):
Hurrah! Hurrah!
For Southern Rights hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag
That bears a single star.

("We are a band of brothers" was the opening line; now where have we heard that lately?)

I'm sure there was a flag of your description, but either way, the 'STARS AND BARS' (the battle flag) was another entity, now an infamous one.

Catija 2:45 PM  

Maybe because I'm a college student... but I've never heard the term TOWNANDGOWN... I /get/ it... but I'm not a fan.

Also, wanted DOdDARD instead of DOTARD, which isn't a word, but it sounded right but left NOdA BENE, which doesn't make much sense.


Elaine 2:48 PM  


'iguings' is the captcha--doesn't this sound like a type of herniation that needs repair?

DOH-terd, not DOH-TARD... it's an outdated word, clumsy to pronounce, and I guess it's probably unPC, too. However, just today someone at my MIL's assisted living center referred to the residents there as 'inmates.' Maybe DOTARDs sounds better, after all....

This is very common shorthand that I've heard most of my adult life--so, a long time. Sometimes relations are troubled ("Breaking Away" had some good scenes illustrating this--students calling residents "Cutters," and residents objecting to the students' horning in on their stone-quarry swimming hole.) On the other hand, in our three-college city, those schools send large numbers of volunteers into the community, and the colleges with their programs and resources are part of the city's attempt to attract retirees such as ourselves. Of course, the night one couple went skinny dipping in the park fountain in the middle of town....did strain community acceptance in some circles.

AAA 2:57 PM  

Puzzle was the speed limit after the oil embargo.


dk 3:14 PM  

@sfingI, just a moment I have to let the thought of Andrea in the shower ....

ok, I am back -- dogsbody is slang for a menial task or one who performs same.

@lit.doc. I have university envy. Claremont was fine, except for that pesky constructor who is a Pamona alum, but Boulder... sigh.

When I lived in Maine Wake and Bakery was the name of the Rhasta themed dinner and "glass works" located just down RTE 302. And, according to a book I read wake and bake is also something some people do with the aforementioned glass works in the morning.

Off to walk the step dog and shake of the rest of anesthesia from this mornings exam. Preventive medicine can be a pain in the butt,,,, if ya know what I'm sayin.

d(its ok I'm a DR)k

@catherine, way to make some of us feel old, real old :)

Glitch 3:24 PM  

@Elaine wrote:

"... the 'STARS AND BARS' (the battle flag) was another entity, now an infamous one."

Sorry, you are now all wrong.

The "Stars & Bars" and the "Battle Flag" are two different entities, and it's only the latter that is now considered "infamous".

"The image that most people call to mind when they think of the Confederacy — a rectangular flag with blue, star-filled bars crossed on a red field — was actually the Confederate Naval Jack from 1863 to 1865, and never the national flag of the Confederacy. Nor was it even the battle flag, as it is often called: the battle flag was square,not rectangular." [www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net]

@sfingi and anyone else that wants pictures and/or the full story:

Flags of the Confederate States of America


Stan 3:44 PM  

@andrea: Hawaiian Shiite is the best answer I've ever seen!!! The rest of the puzzle isn't necessary.

Van55 4:21 PM  

This one was so EASYANDBREEZY for me that I missed a ton of the fill becuase the crosses made it unnecessary to many of the clues.

I didn't love the puzzle, but I didn't mind it. Didn't catch the plethora of double letter entries until reading the blog.

Criticizing the puzzle as politically incorrect for including STARSANDBARS is just silly, to me. It's a puzzle for heaven's sake; not a political rally.

Anonymous 4:22 PM  

I think you are crabby today!

Tinbeni 4:24 PM  

I like to be as picky as the next guy on the puzzle clues.

So lets examine this one.

27A was clued "Confederate flag"

I think most people would answer "STARS AND BARS"

All this other discussion regarding flags used by the "South" is just an exercise of ostentatious pretentious conceit.

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

To understand "Town & Gown" - watch "Breaking Away" - old film; excellent entertainment.

ArtLvr 4:48 PM  

@Glitch -- many thanks for the details on the flags of the Confederacy!

For those who don't remember Town and Gown confrontations, they had different meanings in various eras and locales -- notably shifting from pre-1956 when many U.S. undergraduates were into panty-raids, real damage to local landmarks, and so on. Then the world situation impinged, with fellow students in Hungary fighting Soviet tanks bare-handed, simultaneously with the Suez crisis.

After 1957 more schools went co-ed, more were inclusive of minorities, and sit-ins became more important than panty-raids. There were conflicts but attitudes were changing. Students became more serious and college administrations became less tolerant of excessive drinking. All grew more concerned with pursuing harmonious relations in the following years, inviting local residents to participate in planning and activities which helped bridge the gaps and smooth old resentments.

Glitch 4:52 PM  


As I recall, you were part of an extended "Scotch and Soda" discussion --- I'm not sure as I skipped over most of that exchange as single malt top shelf snobbery ;-)

3 and out (so no more flag comments from me today)


Clark 4:57 PM  

@Tinbeni -- Giant fan of ostentatious pretentious conceit here. This native of the far North learned quite a bit about Confederate flags today. And I'm glad I did.

Doc John 5:01 PM  

Any puzzle with TUBA in it can't be all bad! (For SD readers, my band's concert is this coming Saturday.)

SHOED makes me think of Steve Miller's "Fly Like An Eagle" with the lyric "Shoe the children/with no shoes on their feet." When I first heard it I thought he said shoot the children and thought that was a weird statement, to say the least.

chefwen 5:23 PM  

Other than spelling LOuIE incorrectly, I was wondering what the hell LuWPH was, I had no problem with this puzzle. Kinda of liked it in fact.

Yesterday, I wanted to comment on the puzzle (which I absolutely loved) and has soon as I hit publish, my cable went down, insert blood curdling scream, was out all day. No computer, no TV, no nuttin'. Had to wait for off island husband to call in, only to find that there is a little switch in the "room with a gazillion wires" that needed to be pushed to restart the whole works.
DOH! Life is good again.

PuzzleGirl 5:30 PM  

I did not love this puzzle. Also I'm pretty sure TOWN AND GOWN was a phrase used in the movie "Breaking Away." Has anyone else heard that? Oh and LOW PH doesn't make any sense. I can't believe no one has commented on that yet.

Moonchild 5:40 PM  

I brought up Breaking Away back at 12:39 but people keep bringing up like I never said a word.
@ Tinbeni, You're pretty funny and sure know how to push Glitch's buttons.
@ Glitch, You're too easy.

When you get a chance 5:44 PM  


If you don't read the comments there's probably even more you missed today, (beyond the two items you mentioned).

archaeoprof 5:49 PM  

I agree with Rex. This one was a bit of a dud. What it really needs is a reference to country music. Perhaps 26A could have been clued, "Believe me, baby, ..."

joho 6:10 PM  

Oh, boy, it's been a looooong, looooooong day.

So happy I stopped in now to see @CoolPapaD's reference to @Andrea's catboard comment from yesterday. I howled!

Also,thanks @Elaine for the "inmates" comment ... it shouldn't be funny but at this moment I again laughed out loud.

I thank God for people with senses of humor.

andrea highph michaels 6:18 PM  

@joho, CoolPapaD

@dk, stan
Yes, Hawaiian Shiite! There's gotta be at least one, let's ask chefwen now that her power is back on!
Like most writers, I get all my best ideas in the shower...and, um, dk, just for the record, I have my laptop with me, am fully clothed at the time and carry an umbrella. I just sit in there. ;)

Tinbeni 6:20 PM  


For the record, I NEVER mentioned "Single Malt Scotch."

My comment:
"NEAT, in a snifter is the only way to go. The only "partner" my Scotch ever needs is a West Coast of Florida sunset."

I then complemented your "Scotch and Soda" Kingston Trio embed.

LOL ... way too easy.
I do like the learning we get here.
@Glitch embed of the Confederate Flags was good.
The snobbery solely on his part.

lit.doc 6:29 PM  

@Moonchild and @When you get a chance, this is just a wild guess, mind you, but do ya think Puzzle Girl might just have been making a joke?

dk 6:35 PM  

@Andrea, oddly that was my fantasy. Do you use a LOWPH shampoo as well?

@moonchild, ggod luck trying to take credit for a first. Just look/read how we abuse Rex

Nancy Salomon, It is safe to say you made our day, but SHOED -- geezze LOOIEz

secret word: gadvat, a place to store gadflys

Sfingi 6:40 PM  

@Glitch - thanx. I know little about the South below MD or VA. My mother's still fighting the Civil War. That movie, The Patriot, not only introduced me to the fey Heath Leger, but got me thinking about what uniforms were worn "down" South. Interesting subject.

@DK - love those Peeps. My sister and a friend of mine independently confessed they like year-old Peeps because then they're crunchy on the outside, but still soft inside. For that, I bought my sister a pocketbook shaped like a yellow Peep to stow her Peeps for a year.

@Anon422 - who's crabby, you little wart?
Good thing for you, 422 is a catchy number.

@Ulrich - You must be familiar with (Jacob) Grimm's Law, or the Germanic Sound Shifts. Besides the brothers' unbelievable studies of fairy tales, the rules of how German morphed gives one clues for imagining charts for other shifts. He got the idea from the tales, which traveled from India to Ireland. Turns out genetics has become the third leg in proving the direction of language development in Europe. Grimm's the father of fairytale classification and language shift classification.

@Elaine - Glad DOTARD is already outdated, though I just learnt it.

@Andrea - Remember, in civilized countries, if you are toed, you must be SHOED. When I was pre-school (there were no preschcools) we were told by family and medicos not to go barefoot or you would get hookworm. (Taht's more oo, too.)

So many funny and clever comments today. Great forum!

Unknown 6:40 PM  

Rex: Thanks for the video of Woman. I loved it - John and Yoko looked so happy in NYC, and I hope he was that happy until he was murdered so shortly afterwards.

Plus, it's an adult love song.

Hard to believe it will be 30 years this December.

P.S. My captch was "wooman." Eerie!

hazel 6:57 PM  

balls and strikes.
beer and hotdogs.
braves and cubs.

go braves.

(i liked the puzz too).

mac 7:10 PM  

@PG: you bad;-), LOL!

I also thought it should be "shod".

Town and gown, as an expression, may not be used much anymore, but I have noticed that even prep schools can have problems between local (sleeping at home) students and boarders.

St.Souda (stsouda)

dk 7:55 PM  


There is a famous deli in Madison Wisc. I have forgotten the name. We have blogged about it (I think).

Any ideas click on my little picture and send them my way.

Cea 7:59 PM  

Well I liked it, and I sailed through it with BERATE for BADGER for the first couple of minutes. A quick look at ERTOO fixed that one. TOWN AND GOWN is that gap between the snobs in the colleges and the plebs in the city, because the students in places like Oxford went around with black gowns. A bit like the Harry Potter books, come to think of it.

But it's DOOM AND GLOOM kiddies, not GLOOM AND DOOM. Made me think they couldn't be bothered to clue it right.

Rex Parker 8:04 PM  


There is a famous deli in Ann Arbor, MI called Zingerman's. It definitely has been mentioned in the comments of the blog, and recently (by foodie). Is that it?


Anonymous 8:14 PM  

captcha is FORRO (in small case)

Perfect description


dk 8:20 PM  

Rex, You are right I had confused my cities. Thank you

chefwen 8:23 PM  

@andrea hi ph - I think there is one or two, probably in Hilo!

@dk - Schlotzky's maybe?

tivated - what I am now cable is back

chefbea 8:43 PM  

I was going to say zingerman's. Rex beat me to it

Unknown 9:06 PM  

@mac - Shoed is a variant of shod. We all use shod. I thought that a bit sneaky for a Monday, but it slipped my notice - the other crosses did the job.

@everybody: Get over it. Town and Gown is a well-known phrase. If I know it, it has to be. I attended university in MA and you’d better believe I heard Town & Gown all the time – mainly about Harvard and MIT trying to buy up every acre of land.

@Rex - please relax. You're sounding a bit unpleasant lately.

By all means, if a crossword is dullsville, say so. I welcome that, if it's true. In fact, I love that you can call out a constructor when he or she deserves it. I didn’t think so today, but it was a Monday. I will forever love you for yelling at the answer to Clisters being Elke. You were correct and Will S should have been shot for that one. I mean, metaphorically.

But I have read a few of your comments lately on this and BEQ, and please stop with the sniping at individual commenters.

I can't remember what puzzle it was last week when you sneered at someone commenting on your blog - he/she had claimed to be a speed-solver - and your reply was unnecessarily rude.

Please stop this. It’s not becoming of the former 44th fastest crossworld puzzler.

Please step back into boots that fit you.

Martin 9:20 PM  

A couple of experts here have objected to "low pH shampoo." A healthy scalp is mildly acidic at pH 4-6. Detergent is quite alkaline (pH 11). Regularly raising scalp pH can cause skin irritation and promote fungal infections. Low-pH shampoos (more commonly called "acid balanced" or "pH balanced" in today's ads) are highly recommended.

I also enjoyed the puzzle.

foodie 9:21 PM  

Rex is right (as usual :) - re Zingerman in this case. We should get them to sponsor this site...Not only did I and Chef Bea, and now Rex mention them, but Phillysolver and I met there when he was in Michigan visiting family during the Christmas break. Anyhow, they're on line and I've had the audacity to ship their stuff to New York, with positive responses.

BTW, my favorite name for a NY Deli/Cafe/Bakery is Nussbaum and Wu. Only in New York : )

ArtLvr 9:54 PM  

@Cea -- The Harry Potter quip was cute, but the black robes for students aren't only an English tradition. They were required at every meal in the dining hall at the Princeton Graduate School, even for guests, though not when out on the campus.


sanfranman59 10:29 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 7:32, 6:55, 1.09, 74%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:52, 3:40, 1.05, 71%, Medium-Challenging

Ulrich 10:37 PM  

@Sfingi: The funny thing about Grimm's Law is that it's called "Grimm's Law" only outside Germany AFAIK. In Germany, it's called indoeuropäische Lautverschiebung (Indo-European sound shift)--clearly, "Grimm's Law" is too short a term for serious German scholars!

Catija 10:47 PM  

@DK my pleasure, I'm happy to do so any time. (I'll be honest, though, that I'm a slightly older college student and constantly feel odd when my TAs are younger than I am)

@Elaine, mine is one of the largest universities in the world and it's legal for members of both genders to wander around topless (not implying that one caused the other). We manage to keep down the skinny dipping occurrences by having a place for just that purpose, with the added benefit of it being secluded, rather than in the center of town. :D

By the way, thought I'd say hi. Been reading the blog commentary for a couple years now but just convinced myself to start paying for the puzzle access online. It's fun to know I have the chance to comment without being five weeks late.

Steve J 11:46 PM  

@Jesse: Read the comment immediately above the speed-solving clue of Rex's (it was last Thursday's puzzle, as I recall). You'll note that Rex replied nearly word-for-word to an already rude comment, shifting one key adjective to (rightly) point out that the original comment was unnecessarily disparaging of certain types of solvers. Rex's reply was satirical, not boorish. At least that's how it looked from my computer screen.

Stan 12:48 AM  

@Steve J: Well-said.

chefwen 2:44 AM  

@Catherine - Welcome to the group, I signed up a couple of years ago. It's one thing to be late to the party but it's not fun to miss it entirely.

TimeTraveller 12:55 PM  

So today I learned that townandgown has a substantial modern U.S. context.
Curious that nobody remarked on the roots of the phrase in Europe during the Middle Ages. In Oxford, for instance, there was at least one battle in which students were killed by townsmen.
(That was in another country, and long ago ...)

ChrisN 8:27 PM  

What does grueling and grilling have to do with oral?

College Dropout 10:23 AM  

@ChrisN - An ORAL exam, such as I hear those hoping to get advanced degrees must undergo.

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