Relative of raccoon / TUE 4-6-10 / Westernmost of Aleutians / Verbal brickbats / It's directly below V-B-N-M / French filmdom

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Constructor: Sarah Keller

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: ICE CREAM (62A: Cold treat that can precede the last word of 18-, 23-, 40- or 50-Across) — gives you an ICE CREAM BAR, CONE, SANDWICH, and FLOAT

Word of the Day: Robert CULP (41D: Late actor Robert of "I Spy") —

Robert Martin Culp (August 16, 1930 – March 24, 2010) was an American actor, scriptwriter, voice actor and director, widely known for his work in television. Culp earned an international reputation for his role as Kelly Robinson on I Spy (1965–1968), the espionage series in which he and co-star Bill Cosby played a pair of secret agents. [...] He went on to star in the provocative Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice in 1969, probably the height of his movie career. Another memorable role came as another gunslinger, Thomas Luther Price, in Hannie Caulder (1971) opposite Raquel Welch. A year later, Hickey & Boggs reunited him with Cosby for the first time since I Spy. Culp also directed this feature film, in which he and Cosby portray over-the-hill private eyes. In 1986, he had a primary role as General Woods in the comedy Combat Academy. // Culp played the U.S. President in Alan J. Pakula's 1994 murder mystery The Pelican Brief starring Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts. In all, Culp gave hundreds of performances in a career spanning more than 50 years.
• • •

Happy to have occasion to remember Robert CULP. I watched "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" for the first time last month and loved it. DVD features a wonderful commentary by the surviving main actors, which at the time included CULP. He came across as a warm and smart man who really loved what he did. I finished listening to that commentary and thought "I should pay more attention to this guy's career." "I Spy" was before my time (before my birth, actually).

I'm always somewhat surprised to see "word that can precede / follow" puzzles in the NYT, especially when they're this straightforward. Old hat. Not terribly ambitious. However, as this type of theme goes, I thought this one was just fine, with a couple of really lovely theme answers. Always good to have your central, marquee answer be the best thing about the grid. Today, a snazzy KNUCKLESANDWICH really livens up the grid, and it looks especially good sitting on top of TRIXIE ("Sitting on Top of TRIXIE" being Ed Norton's highly unsuccessful guide to a successful marriage) (44A: Alice's best friend on "The Honeymooners"). I also like TRAFFICCONE, if only for that double-C in the middle. Whole thing looks like an Italian last name. ORNE (39A: French river or department) and ATTU (43A: Westernmost of the Aleutians) make me sad, but most of the rest of the fill is just fine. I had only a couple of slow-downs. First, in and around ORNE, largely because I went with OISE at first, and then didn't get DRIP at all as a "feature" of an icicle (29D: Icicle feature). To me, a drip is separate from the icicle proper, but I see how the clue works just fine. I later had a minor snag in the SE, where I decided to go with TAMBLA (!) at 49D: Indian percussion (TOMTOM). I see now, that I was thinking of the TABLA, which is, in fact, an Indian percussion instrument. TAMBLAS are the percussion instruments they play at NAMBLA meetings. Or so I hear.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: It's directly below V-B-N-M (SPACE BAR)
  • 23A: Highway safety marker (TRAFFIC CONE)
  • 40A: Punch in the mouth, slangily (KNUCKLE SANDWICH)
  • 50A: Homecoming display (PARADE FLOAT)
Is the SNIFF of 38D: [Well, see if I care!] supposed to be the sound of someone who is crying because his/her feelings are hurt? Or is it someone who's simply indignant at being snubbed? Looking over the grid, I did a double take on IFAT (48A: "___ first you don't succeed ..."). Read it as "I, FAT" (a la "I, CLAUDIUS" or "I, TINA"). Eat enough ICE CREAM, and that can be the title of your autobiography. "This is your ASS ... this is your ASS on ICE CREAM" (literally depicted in the grid) (56A: Pompous fool).

  • 1A: Establishments with mirrored balls (DISCOS) — "mirrored balls" being the male equivalent of "Vajazzling," I think (you can thank Brendan Quigley for introducing me to that word)
  • 21A: Relative of a raccoon (COATI) — one of those I-ending words you should just know. It's not uncommon in xwords.
  • 3D: Flight segment (STAIR) — tripped. Wanted STAGE.
  • 19A: French filmdom (CINE) — crosswords being the one place where the word "filmdom" is really thriving.
  • 24D: Verbal brickbats (FLAK) — now BRICKBATS would make a great answer.
  • 37D: Prepared for takeoff (TAXIED) — this word always makes me think of this song:

["As we TAXIED down the runway / I could hear the people shout..."]

Congratulations to Duke, and to Butler, for that matter.

Oh, that means someone has (just now) won the 2010 OOXTEPLERNON NCAA Men's Basketball Pool Competition — let me see who it is ... It's J. Johnson, aka FlamingoJoe 1. Contact me, Joe, so I can get you your copy of Bob Klahn's "The Wrath of Klahn" crossword book ASAP. Notable finishers in the competition also include Crosscan in 3rd, Orange in 6th, and PuzzleGirl in 9th. For the record, I had Duke out in the second round. Genius!

Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Steve J 12:28 AM  

I hadn't even noticed the juxtaposition of KNUCKLESANDWICH and TRIXIE. Lovely. ASS and ICECREAM may be even better, now that it's combined with I,FAT.

Does a crossing of crapish crosswordese count as a Natick? Because I had a Natick moment with ERATO and COATI. Once I finally figured it out, I realized I'd seen these before, but they weren't coming to me at all while I was trying out letters to see what worked phonetically. Really disliked that crossing.

Also didn't really like TAXIED. Yes, planes taxi before takeoff, but that's not really what they're doing to prepare for takeoff. Plus, planes do a lot of taxiing without even thinking about taking off. Say, after landing.

Those bad little bits weren't enough to take away from what was a decently fun little Tuesday puzzle.

SethG 12:47 AM  

That's Robert Culp? I totally remember him from Turk 182!.

I'm guessing the number of different false starts on TOMTOM today will be large--TAMBOR was mine. Yuck for ATTU, but crossing UNTO TUTU makes it either better or worse.

lit.doc 12:54 AM  

Perfect Tuesday puzzle. I’m guessing Rex will go with easy-medium. 12:54 for me, with an inordinate proportion of that eaten by the NE corner. Probably due to having to solve 10A/D together, the annoyingly familiar JIBE vs. GIBE thing, and starting with 13D SEED. Nice theme density for a Tuesday as well. ICE CREAM BAR, CONE, SANDWICH, and FLOAT. Accessible yet impressive. Props to Sarah Keller.

Fav DOH! moment was sitting at a freaking keyboard and yet having to revisit 18A several times before brain would register the obvious. And I cannot tell you how glad I am that I didn’t have to actually remember 43A ATTU on this particular evening. Much as I hate to waste a synapse on such a trivial factoid, I really must. Someday.

@Tinbeni, tried your idea from yesterday re using a pencil. Dreadful result. You know how fast a pencil eraser can wear a hole through a newspaper? A touch-screen monitor isn’t much more durable. I’ll stick with my felt tip, thank you very much.

[Later that night,…]

@Rex, thanks for posting so early. Your write-up was hysterical. Wonderfully twisted as was the image of Norton going alpha on top of TRIXIE, the juxtaposition would have been even better with the evocation of Ralph’s “To the moon…!” menacing ALICE.

Tinbeni 1:37 AM  

Solved this almost exclusively using the crosses, in order, after consuming more than a SNIFF or three of the Avatar during the game.

An easy glide. No idea the time. Scotch is harder to judge than "cups of coffee."

Butler was an INCH or two short. Their ROOTERs should be proud.

I still have my original Pentel PS315 .5mm. It prints very NEATLY, but is as sharp as a knife. That's why the felt-tip is better on your screen. Or pen on my newsprint.

captcha: forom

andrea opal michaels 1:46 AM  

I liked that for every ERATO fill, there was a fresh(ish) TUPAC right next to it!
I like Sarah and I like her puzzles, but et tu, ATTU?

Favorite part is re-purposing in my mind an icky thing like a GERM, but now will always think of it positively: as where an idea starts!

Rex's write up in fine form... yet again...but I secretly like it better when he hates it!

IFAT will carry me thru the day.

(BlackJack tells me he purrfers CATNAP to CATBOARD).

Clark 2:06 AM  

My very most favoritest thing about this puzzle/write-up, @Rex, is your picture of the space bar. Yes!

chefwen 2:55 AM  

If the closest town weren't so far away I would hop in the jalopy and tool down to Kapaa for some Ben and Jerry's. Must remember to always have on hand.

Puzzle was super easy for me, no mistakes, no write overs, pretty much like a Monday. KNUCKLE SANDWICH being the favorite.

Ulrich 3:15 AM  

Ditto re. the space bar, followed closely by that Trafficcone guy.

For the first time, I realize that TUPAC backwards is CAPUT--or has that been common knowledge all along, unbeknownst to the rap-challenged?

@chefwen: Our discovery of last summer was Häagen Daz's 5 ice cream, made with only the 5 classic ingredients, like German beer is made with only 4 ingredients--there's no longer a need for making your own ice cream--unless it's hazelnut, which hasn't been included in the 5 series yet. To make a long story short: any puzzle that features ice cream can't go wrong with me.

chefwen 4:07 AM  

@Ulrich - Ahh! Ice cream and beer, it works for me.

Elaine 6:06 AM  

My only quibble here is 36D \"It ___\" (reply to \"Who's there?\") We ALL know that practically no one says, [\"It] IS I.\" I once heard, \"It's ME\" described as a 'sturdy indefensible.' It's grammatically incorrect, but everyone says it. Even I.

Seemed like a nice little Tuesday...I wanted CURB for [Place for a cab] and was half expecting the GOBI Desert from the G at 11D--so much so that I thought GIBE and wrote GOBI. That goofed me up for a minute. Should have had some tea before I got going here.

@Rex and other Young Whippersnappers:
I don't know if you can get 'I Spy' on Netflix, but it was an enjoyable series. I'm particularly recalling an episode where the two tough guys get stuck with a baby (sans diaper bag, of course.) At the time, having black/white co-stars was considered a 'breakthrough.'

TRIXIE...When she was around age 2, our daughter was given a little black cat (stuffed animal) as she left a hospital. Immediately she exclaimed, "Her name is TRIXIE!" We never did figure out where she had heard that name.

Oscar 6:26 AM  

NE and SW corners too closed off.
Icicle in clue for 29D / ICE part of theme.

Otherwise fine. I want ice cream for breakfast now.

jesser 7:54 AM  

Rex, Rex, Rex. NAMBLA? Really? Otherwise a fine write-up, with lots of giggling from this end.

Puzzle went down smooth as a pint of Cherries Garcia. I like that there are two crosswordy abbreviations for 'association' and we got to use the longer one today. Likewise HEWED.

I do not wish to say the word at 35A out loud this time of year. Seems like asking for trouble. And to put in right there in the middle is almost like finding a cockroach in one's Rocky Road.

I have heard of cabals, but never a caballer. I was waiting for something far more insidious there, and was disappointed at the plainness of PLAN.

Overall, this puzzle was a good'un!

Distur! (what I did when I said Madonna was talentless) -- jesser

fikink 7:59 AM  

NAMBLA! yikes!

I FAT - ha!

Your ASS on ICE CREAM - ha!


You are in rare form today, Rex!

Tittered at parts of the puzzle, especially KNUCKLE SANDWICH; roared at the write-up.

Thanks Sarah and Rex.

The Bard 8:09 AM  

King Henry V > Act IV, scene III

KING HENRY V: What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

joho 8:39 AM  

@Rex, you beat me to my comment today which was I,FAT after I ATE all that ICECREAM.

The AIDA/ARIA cross is nice.

Vajazzling must have been born when somebody had too much time, crystals and glue on their hands.

Good Tuesday puzzle, great write-up!

edith b 8:40 AM  

OK OK,I freely confess to being a JFK conspiracy buff and when I saw TRAFFICONE in the puzzle I immediately thought of Santo Trafficante, a South Florida Mob boss with ties to the Bonanno crime family in New York and, in the canon of JFK conspiracy literature, reputed to be a major player in the JFK assassination. Anybody who is interested in this juicy brand of paranoia must read "The Cold Six Thousand" by James Ellroy, a crime fiction novelist with an interesting history of his own.

In the mid60s, I double dated (now there is a term that dates me!) with a friend who's date was Bill Bonannno Jr. You can't have lived in the Queens section of New York in the late 50s and early 60s without tripping over a few (reputed) mobsters.

A simple puzzle, indeed, with a complex series of overtones for me. I love crossword puzzles!

nanpilla 8:52 AM  

@jesser : Agree about caballer. That was they best they could do for PLAN?

Loved KNUCKLESANDWICH. Half the letters of the alphabet all in one.

@Rex, your write-up had me laughing out loud - thanks!

Crosscan 8:55 AM  
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Crosscan 8:56 AM  

Do I get a bronze medal?

retired_chemist 9:13 AM  

Easy-medium. Spelled 11D JIBE which slowed the NE down. Let ORNE appear via crosses. Also spent too long on SPACE BAR.

An OK Tuesday. I had more fun yesterday. De gustibus.....

chefbea 9:15 AM  

Easy fun delicious tuesday puzzle. Lots of food.

Van55 9:40 AM  

For me the theme is just OK, thought I really loved KNUCKLESANDWICH. With quite a bit of trite fill, this one wasn't as enjoyable for me as was yesterday's entry. Finished with no writeovers

cw stewart 10:25 AM  

Nice puzzle Sarah. Lots of interesting words.

mac 10:26 AM  

Great Tuesday puzzle, no hold-ups but several smiles, than plain LOL with the write-up!

Chefbea is right about the delishes food, I would love an entree with truffles, preferably white ones! Hold the icecream.

Flak is a funny-looking word without a c. And here is the
armada we were looking for on Sunday!

Back to work, my big sale is starting at 11.

Beadola 10:27 AM  

Helped take care of an adorable coatimundi at the Junior Museum in San Francisco in my youth.
Timbal was my drum.

Stan 10:31 AM  

Solid, OKAY Tuesday and funny write-up.

When Rex said "Congratulations to Duke, and to Butler," I wondered if these were crossword champions. That's how much I know about N.C.A.A. basketball.

Two Ponies 10:32 AM  

I had a couple of thoughts while pondering V-B-N-M.
First was the telephone keypad. No, that was ridiculous.
Then I thought of PRDNL and Lisa Douglas on Green Acres.
Then I slapped myself out of Free Association Land and looked at my computer keyboard.
Like everyone else I loved knuckle sandwich. I had that and traffic cone but nothing in between yet leaving 24D as f__k. "Surely not" I chuckled to myself but was surprised by flak. Is that some crazy military acronym?
@Rex, very funny today.

lit.doc 10:37 AM  

@Elaine, let today's Picayune Points of Grammar thread begin.

Certainly, no one really says "It is I" in response to "Who is there?", which no one really says either and for the same reason—they're awkward and pretentious locutions.

But it's a grammatically correct elision. Think of something more common, like "Who's going to the movie with me?" answered with "Billy and I [are going with you]".

Similarly, "Who's there?" wants a subject pronoun in the answer, either "I am [here]" or the uglier but equal "It is I [who am here]".

Steve J 11:01 AM  

@lit.doc: Wouldn't that be "It is I [who is here]"? Verbs within Subordinate clauses agree with the nouns within the clause, not with the nouns within the sentence's primary clause.

I did look twice at ITISI and decided I was fine with it. Yes, it's archaic. But there's nothing incorrect about it. It is a reply to the question. Not a common one, but the clue didn't ask for the common one. In fact, the clue's use of "Who is there" (rather than the common shortened version of "who's there") probably actually tips off the grammatically correct but awkward-sounding response.

Gubdude 11:08 AM  

Ice cream is one of my favorite things so I enjoyed this one.

KNUCKLESANDWICH was a great answer, as many have mentioned.

Definitely looked down at the keyboard more as a reflex than to get the answer but saw the SPACEBAR and was off and running.

I also like the word ARMADA. Fun sounding to me.

Orange 11:09 AM  

For the record, my "real" NCAA bracket placed 131st. The one that placed 6th was the one where if the seeding didn't make a pick obvious, I gave the edge to the school that came first in the alphabet. D comes before K, ergo Duke for the win. I'm totally going alpha next year, but maybe I'll go backwards for a change.

SethG 11:16 AM  

For the record, my computer randomly made my picks based on a probabilistic algorithm taking seedings into account. I placed 127th.

Crosscan 11:18 AM  

I picked the higher seeds until the final and picked Duke because my sister went there. I figure the guys making the seedings know more than I do.

Burner10 11:19 AM  

It snowed in NE LA so I felt very back east and treated myself to the NYT on the long ride up. My neighbor, driver and neophyte crossworder contrubted TUPAC and has been chuckling at the maddness as evidenced by this blog! Happy Tuesday.

retired_chemist 11:20 AM  

@ Two Ponies - Flak was initially a WW II military term from the German FLugAbwehrKanone, meaning "aircraft defense cannon". It has evolved to mean "intense criticism" in general.

Parshutr 11:21 AM  

@twoponies...FLiegerAbwehrKanone = anti-aircraft gun, very much NOT a verbal brickbat. FLAK can kill, words no.
And I knew ERATO but isn't SUR above? Shouldn't that have been SUD?? Haven't we seen this sloppy miscluing before?
Oh, and @litdoc: "It is I" is what I say.

JenCT 11:33 AM  

Enjoyed this - didn't know that Forty Winks meant a CATNAP (although I got it) - always thought of forty winks as a long sleeping time.

Definitely took SNIFF as being kind of a harrumph! (sp?)

Loaded up on some 50% off Easter candy yesterday...

Jesse 11:33 AM  

The puzzle seemed easy - I was surprised when I saw I came in at 8 minutes - it felt like 5.

"Caballer" is a new word to me. Luckily, the crosses solved it. I had to look up caballer afterwards :(

Cathyat40 11:43 AM  

Robert Culp also did a terrific job playing villain roles in several episodes of "Columbo."

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Parshutr, you did make the same complaint last month, and someone told you then that SUR means South in Spanish.

retired_chemist 11:47 AM  

@ Parshutr - SUR is Spanish. SUD is German.

Ulrich 12:10 PM  

@retired_chem.: I have to comment b/c this is a case where the umlaut makes a difference: A Sud is a broth (from sieden--to boil); the orientation is Süd or Süden--constructors beware!

retired_chemist 12:30 PM  

@ Ulrich - thanks! I will remember. Not nearly as much of a problem as año vs. ano, perhaps, but certainly good to know.

lit.doc 12:43 PM  

@Steve J, you raise a good issue! My Dead-Tree Grammar Ref's are at school (I'm partial to Hacker) and I'll reeducate myself on that nuance tomorrow (home today for piano tech).

I think you may be right, though if I recall correctly the issue here is whether the [who is...] or [who am...] is "in" the sentence only by syntactic implication, or is, strictly, part of the clause.

I am such a geek.

ArtLvr 12:55 PM  
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ArtLvr 12:57 PM  

I tuned in to the basketball semi-finals and final only because I'd seen Charlie Rose interviewing the coach from Duke last week-- their intensity was contagious! So glad I caught that, and also the out scored in a baseball game when the pitcher chased a ball that hit his foot and managed to throw it to the first-baseman from between his legs as he fell.

I just hope those players' names don't pop up in the crosswords! TUPAC I'd heard of before...

@Andrea uu -- did u note the double-i in taxiing?


andrea tupac tutu michaels 1:28 PM  

TAXIINGSHIITE...there's gotta be plenty of those in NY. And they are usually on the phone when you're in the backseat.

In other thanks-to-Rex news, Fergus is en route from Santa Cruz and we are going freeday-SFmuseum-hopping
(if @dk doesn't fly in and challenge him to a duel!)

enow is i must go

your average blank 2:15 PM  

I read somewhere that Duke and Butler would make Agatha Christie's
final two. After that I wanted Butler to win then I could say the butler on the court with a basketball. I liked the puzzle, the writeup and the comments.

Parshutr 2:23 PM  

@anonymous and retired chemist...thanks, I hadn't realized the correction. It is now in my permanent memory...Spanish is not a language I've ever studied, I was confused by my long-ago studies of Latin and French.
Hangs head in apology.

dk 2:29 PM  

I felt my geek/nerd index rising as I completed the grid. It is amazing to me the amount of trivia maintained in little gray cells that can be called forth when completing x-words.

Fine puzzle.

*** (3 Stars)

Fergus give Andrea my regards.... SNIFF (in the sad woe is me way).

Elaine 2:57 PM  

I learned my German as a small child, then returned to it as an adult; in school, I took Spanish. Now, when I am struggling for a word in one language, I am likely to pop in a word from the other. This means I can never keep it straight, as foreign languages Are Not My Gift. I had the wrong one first, too.

What I want to know, @Ulrich and Ret-Chem
How did you key in the umlaut and the tilde? I always feel badly not using them.

Is that really you, or a Ken-doll manque'? (she asked, looking about nervously for the exits)

Just brought husband home in a soft cast; one foot has gout, the other has tendonitis. It was NOT caused by my April Fool's trick, I swear.

joho 3:12 PM  

@dk ... I was wondering if that is you, too. Love the glasses!!!

retired_chemist 3:37 PM  

@ Elaine - On a Mac you type {option}u, then u again to get ü. {option}u also umlauts (is that a verb?) ö, ä, ï, and ë regardless of whether German (or any other language) uses those.

{option}n then n gets ñ. I think that's the only one that gets a tilde.

meneeni (my CAPTCHA) ought to be a real word...

retired_chemist 3:38 PM  

Also @ Elaine - if you are not using a Mac, please accept my condolences and try it on your PC anyway.

sanfranman59 3:42 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)

Tue 7:41, 8:52, 0.87, 19%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:18, 4:31, 0.95, 41%, Medium

jesser 3:44 PM  

@Elaine: On a PC, Alt+0235 gives you the unlaut over the e; Alt+0228 does the a; Alt+0246 does the o; Alt+0239 does the i; and Alt+0252 gives you the u.
Alt+0241 gives you the tilde over the small n; and Alt+0209 gives you the capital N.

jesser 3:45 PM  

P.S. You must use your numeric keyboard; it won't work on the numbers above the QWERTY board (or at least it won't on my laptop).

retired_chemist 3:58 PM  

@ Jesser - also please accept my condolences.

jesser 4:03 PM  

@ Retired_Chemist: Thanks, but I'm good. I have a Mac at home, but I have to do the PC dance at work. Tragically, this is the only bilingualism that I can claim. I wish I'd been forced as a child to learn Spanish in school, but it was optional, and I was lazy, and now I'm busy, and well... GRUMBLE.

jesser 4:28 PM  
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Bob Kerfuffle 4:49 PM  

Was KNUCKLES AND WICH a reject from yesterday?

mac 5:10 PM  

@Jesser: numeric keyboard??

Glitch 5:52 PM  
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chefbea 6:18 PM  

@jesser - you have mac at home??? Didn't know you lived in ct.

Ulrich 6:39 PM  

I ♥ HTML--forget keystroke sequences!

@ret.-chem.: Admittedly, writing Sud instead of Süd is not as egregious as writing ano instead of año, but still, I'm glad I now have a clear example to illustrate the point I have been trying to make for a long time...

jesser 6:42 PM  

@ Mac: I am not getting the joke, so you better explain, and it better be good, because I am way o'er the 3 post limit, and I do not wish for Rex to smite me.

@Chefbea: She commutes. Gotta love her for that.

retired_chemist 6:47 PM  

@ Ulrich - we are fully in accord on this. I was just remembering your ano-año post many months ago as one of the most hilarious posts ever on this blog.

retired_chemist 7:35 PM  

OMG, I am glad to be back. This blog is SO much fun, and so edifying...

Two Ponies 7:41 PM  

Thanks to those who clued me in on the origins of flak. I figured it had a military background but would not have guessed it was German.
Leave it to the military to take something commonplace and make it sound complex. For example, I bought a sturdy fiberglass box with a locking lid at a flea market. It was ex-Army and was used for shipping computers. No, it can't be a computer shipping box it is a "Data Transfer Device."
You folks who know how to put those accent marks in your text have my profound respect. I am such a dinosaur. Speaking of such things I just set up a Facebook account. Why and what in the world am I going to do with that? I have no idea and appologies to any of you who get some strange message from me. It's all a cyber-mystery to me at this point.
Actually I am well into my cups because of being relieved after a good visit to the orthopedic surgeon. My pain is not because my prosthetic is infected, I don't have any of the crazy diseases (including the big C) that were whirling around in my brain.
Thank you for listening and now back to my patio and Pinot Grigio to remember why I like being alive.

Clark 7:43 PM  

@retired_chemist -- You are a God! I have been doing umlauts on my Mac in a more complicated way. And I do a lot of umlauts.

ArtLvr 7:46 PM  

@your average blank -- neat mystery spoiler, "the Butler on the Court with the Basketball"! I don't recall an Agatha Christie with that twist, but have just reread an old one by Patricia Wentworth in which the Butler Did Do It... and it was a surprise all over again because of the plethora of her very plausible red herrings... Much fun!


mac 8:24 PM  

@Jesser: no jokes at all! I'm staring at my keyboard and wonder where that numeric thingy is hiding! I'm with 2ponies.....

P.S. Had a good flight back!

foodie 9:14 PM  


Congratulations! Ducking disaster is definitely cause for celebration.

Sfingi 9:30 PM  

Today has the greatest difference between comments on LA Crossword Confidential and this - 7x. The LA cw was weak, but I can't figure that great a difference.

Wanted CliNkER for CINDER, but didn't fit. Who had a coal furnace as a kid?
Had one IN before ENDIN, curb before SEMI (place for a cab).

@Edith - you beat me. All i can add is Carlos and Santo/Santos Trafficante are totally Sicilian, of Miami and Cuba.

@Tinbeni - we old school programmers, at the birth of the computer screens (called CRTs, then) often wrote on the screens, especially when debugging. The screens scarcely moved then, and often burned in images.

@Ulrich - there's a demotivational poster of Tupac - spelled backwards, it's caput. It is a rather sad thing he was murdered, and so young.

@2Ponies - my husband went the Facebook route when his undergrad college asked him to. Then, he was contacted by relatives in Sicily. That was the good part. And then, he was contacted by non-relatives in the Phillipines with the same last name. They looked professional.

@Elaine - I use an icon called a character map, but I'll try this ALT+ thing next time. With the character map, it has to be opened while the forum is and then you drag and drop your character.

lit.doc 9:59 PM  

@ArtLvr 7:46, I think @just your average blank was making a Clue allusion (@jyab please correct me if I’m wrong).

@Elaine and others re diacriticals and the numeric keypad. I’m guessing a bunch of you are working on laptops. A full-sized desktop keyboard has a ten-key-style numeric keypad to the right of the usual QUERTY keypad, and it apparently sends a slightly different bit pattern down the pipe, number for number.

I’ve got a chart with PC how-to-do-it directions for nearly all the common diacriticals that I put together for my students some years ago. Email me and I’ll forward it.

A question for the several German speakers out there (geez, I’m glad y’all bring that to the conversation): in Spanish and, I believe, in French, it’s customary to omit diacriticals on upper-case letters, which does at times complicate things in the all-cap’s CW world. Is the same true in German?

your average blank 10:24 PM  

@lit.doc it was for CLUE I could see the headlines if Butler had won. The Agatha Christie comment related to the championship game of Duke vs Butler as a who done it.
Mislead artlvr.

edith b 10:45 PM  


And here I thought I was the only one on this blog to be so declasse as to be a JFK conspiracy junkie and having been one one since Mark Lane's "Rush to Judgement."

Steve J 2:53 AM  

@mac: By "numeric keyboard," Jesser means the numeric keypad to the right on full-size keyboards. If you're working off a laptop, you won't have one (but you can act like you do by toggling the Num Lock button, and using the keys that have numbers written in an alternate color/typeface on them, usually over in with the Ps and Ls and Ms on the keyboard).

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

@lit.doc, 9:59 - "Österreich"

Ulrich 9:35 AM  

...and the land Mizrayim is Ägypten and the superego das Über-Ich.

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