Base found in DNA and RNA / FRI 8-6-10 / "That greeny flower" in a William Carlos Williams poem / Bruce Springsteen ballad

Friday, August 6, 2010

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium


Word of the Day: Asphodel (7A: "That greeny flower" in a William Carlos Williams poem) —

any of several flowering plants belonging to the family Asphodelaceae. It is a variously applied and thus much misunderstood common name. The asphodel of the poets is often a narcissus; that of the ancients is either of two genera, Asphodeline or Asphodelus, containing numerous species in the Mediterranean region.

They are hardy herbaceous perennials with narrow leaves and an elongated stem bearing a handsome spike of white, pink, or yellow flowers. Asphodelus albus and A. fistulosus have white-to-pink flowers and grow from 45 to 60 cm (1 1/2 to 2 feet) high.

(Encyclopedia Britannica)
• • •

Hi, everybody. PuzzleGirl here coming off the bench for the day and wondering how in the hell I got so lucky. Patrick Berry! I squealed when I saw his name! And then I got scared. Sometimes the really, really good constructors come up with stuff that I am totally not smart enough for. I had a lot of fun with this puzzle though. I actually got off to a great start in the northwest corner and really really had to try hard not to get cocky (knowing it would undoubtedly backfire on me). I sometimes tend to jump around a lot in late-week puzzles because I just can't get a foothold, but the way I tackled the NW felt, well, it just felt right. (Yes, I'm getting all mushy over my crossword solving experience. And yes, I have been called a nerd, why do you ask?) I was wary of 1A because I thought STUFFS for 1A: Prepares for the trophy room, say was just too easy. Then I entered SKI off the S (6D: Word with pole or jump) and, again, assumed I was totally missing something. I made an educated guess that 3D: Weak and craven started with UN, which allowed to make the totally wild-ass guess that 15A: Husband of Denmark's Queen Margrethe was HENRIK.

I was pretty lucky with several of my guesses, but I also had a number of false starts.
  • 21A: Cheap roofing material (TIN). Wanted "tar."
  • 22A: Wartime bridge builder (SEABEE). Tried SEA DOG which I believe is a thing, it's just not the right thing.
  • 24A: Prevailing character (TONE). Wanted "ethos" which, obviously, didn't fit.
  • 30A: A belligerent arguer may grab them (LAPELS). I tried "straws" first. But I realized at some point that straws are more "grasped" than grabbed.
  • 50A: What phorid flies are imported to prey on (FIRE ANTS). I had the "ants" part and tried "army" first. I erased it when I tried "insults" for RETORTS (35D: "So's your old man!" and others) which was the right thing to do even if it was the wrong reason to do it.
  • 36A: Walks aimlessly (TRAIPSES). Wow is TRAIPSES a great word! I had "meanders" at first, which was confirmed by LEANN (30D: Singer Rimes) but made me think I had SALIERI mixed up with someone else (37D: Composer who tutored Mozart's son).
Overall, though, this was an enjoyable, challenging romp…. Except for that one letter I got wrong. Argh! ASPHODEL crossing SIMNEL (8D: ___ cake (marzipan-covered dessert)? Patrick Berry, you are the devil! I ran the alphabet there and decided my choices were L, M, N, R, and S. I went with L. And today L = DNF for PuzzleGirl. Woe is me.

Happier things:
  • 18A: Dr. Eric Foreman's portrayer on "House" (OMAR EPPS). I always like it when people get both their first and last names in the grid.
  • 20A: Carol king (WENCESLAS). Awesome clue.

  • 46A: Item first marketed under the name Snurfer (SNOWBOARD). The things you learn.
  • 48A: She won three Grammys for her 1989 album "Nick of Time" (RAITT). Two words: Bad. Ass.

  • 7D: They reproduce via mitosis (AMOEBAS). I don't know when they ("they"!) decided to start spelling AMOEBA without the O, but it's always bothered me. So this made me happy.
  • 13D: Catalán relative (ESPAÑOL). I have a hard time figuring out down answers sometimes when I only have some of the letters, so I write them out horizontally and it often becomes clear that way. That's what happened on this one.
  • 29D: It sometimes covers first-time performers (FLOP SWEAT). Ew.
Thanks for hanging out with me today. I'm not sure who will be here tomorrow. It won't be me, but I'm sure it'll be someone who will take good care of you!

[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter]


Rex Parker 12:10 AM  

PG, you are not alone in blowing that ASPHODEL/SIMNEL cross. I didn't know it. That will be the big blown cross of the day. I'm sort of surprised that PB1 would make a grid with a crossing like that. That cross will overshadow everything else about the puzzle. In fact, I can't remember anything else about the puzzle right now. Let me look...

"ONE STEP UP?" next to "PARIS TROUT?" I was lucky enough to be familiar with the latter title, but never heard of that Springsteen song. Puzzle feels heavy on the oddities (I'd say "obscurities"), and light on delight. Also uneven—super easy (like a Tues/Wed) in south and southeast. All told, an interesting but dissatisfying Friday. Highly unusual for a Berry puzzle to leave me feeling this way.


Anonymous 12:16 AM  

Seriously, you narrowed it down to just six letter? I couldn't even eliminate six letters in the A_PHODEL/_IMNEL cross alphabet run.
It's three words: Total Bad Ass.
I thought Perot started the Judicialist Party. You know, that time back in '93 when the slit developed in his aluminum foil helmet and the Martian thought rays got through? This, and who the hell actually knows how to spell WENCESLAS? How are we to be sure that this isn't really a Mondegreen for Santa Claus, and we've all been singing the song incorrectly for all this time? I'm still screwed up about the whole 12 days of Christmas fiasco.

Wade 12:30 AM  

Dang, you're fast! You did the puzzle and got the write-up done and all the decorations and fonts and stuff up and posted in under two hours? Took me that long to find a pencil.

Yeah, that cross got me too. I went with an L. The thing that slowed me down otherwise was wanting REPROVE instead of DEPLORE. That first S in WENCESLAS was hard for me to find--I agree that that's a great clue.

Never heard of DRY FARMS, only "dry land farms."

I know Do Re Me as money only from a Woody Guthrie song. And probably from crosswords.

I used to be a Springsteen fanatic but had a hard time uncovering the song based on the final UP. It's a good song, off "Tunnel of Love," his best album probably but forever tainted by 80s production, like many of us.

Nicely done, PG. And, dang, you're fast.

Anonymous 12:30 AM  

SIMNEL (cake) is a gimme if you're from the UK. Very common over there, where they've been made for centuries around Eastertime. Not that it helps US solvers a whole lot.

SethG 12:37 AM  

L. REPROVE. PEROT. dissatisfying.

chefwen 12:57 AM  

@Wade - Damn you, that first paragraph made me spit wine and my chin got all wet.

First two fills were MILANESE and SIMNEL. Dear Old Dad was always pining away for SIMNEL cake, he is a marzipan junkie, personally, I can't stand the stuff.

Puzzle started out pretty easily but, as usual, came to a halt mid way through. Uncle Google gave me a little assistance, thanks Unc.
Learned a bunch o' stuff along the way.

Our next dog shall be named SNURFER.

Joe 1:27 AM  

Seriously. F@#$ the Natick at ASPHODEL/SIMNEL. F@#$ it. Rude.

andrea wow there isn't one word in this puzzle that means anything to me michaels 2:19 AM  

I got the S in SIMNEL but it is written SO lightly in pen that it almost doesn't count...ASPH- just seemed the way to go for the wrong reasons (I think I was thinking APHID)

Took me 13 tries to spell WENCESLAS.
I blame
a) being Jewish
b) b.
I knew only the W and the final S.

The rest seemed sort of easy and a whole lot of Fs (six! Five in the NW alone)(Not to mention I started with StiFfED instead of SHAFTED, tho a STUFFS/STIFFED 1A/1D seemed unlikely.)

Ditto on meAnders before TRAIPSES.
yes, I had DRYlAndS first. Am I gonna see you next week?

Can't believe SNURFER (snow surfer?) never caught on! Now that is one bad naming job!

retired_chemist 2:57 AM  

Did. Not. Finish.

All was OK except for the NE, where teg SIMNEL/ASPHODEL cross required googling. I had googled to check other answers so why not one more? All my other answers were right, but I couldn't trust them because of the d**n ASPHODEL and SIMNEL. Didn't help that 16A was MARINARA, 27A was PALIN, then PEROT, before PERON. Knew the name OMAR EPPS: it went in, then out, then in, then..... UGH!

Agree with Rex that this was an atypical bomb (due to the NE) from a fine constructor. I just bought the four Patricks' puzzle book and am looking forward to much better there.

joecab 6:10 AM  

Me too. Same intersecting square. Grumble. Liked the rest though. OMAR EPPS was my first entry. TRAIPSES was a plesant surprise as I was trying to figure out what the hell this word could be.

joho 8:18 AM  

I don't feel bad anymore. I join the failed crowd at ASPHODEL/SIMNEL. You gotta be kidding me! I also had rEPrOvE before DEPLORE. PEROt before PERON which was fixed with LESSENS.

BTW, I chose "R" creating an ArPHODEL (dog-faced flower) and rIMNEL. Why not?

The SW did amuse me with a visual of THIRSTY FIREANTS in a CONGA line
all covered in FLOPSWEAT due to their first time on a SNOWBOARD.

redhed 8:26 AM  

Wow! I have never felt such a strong sense of belonging over a failure before! LOL! Same cross got me and big time. Agree with RP that this puzzle seemed very uneven. Flew through it in sections, and came to a dead stop in others. Andrea, don't feel bad about the spelling of Wenceslas--one of my favorite holiday songs and I did not know about that first little "s". Happy Friday everyone, one more night of call and I am FREE for two whole weeks!!

redhed 8:28 AM  

PS--Thanks for the great write-up, PG!!

David L 8:41 AM  

I'm not sure I've ever had simnel cake, but I knew the name (UK origin, as someone else said) and I had a vague recollection of asphodel, not that I would recognize one if it was in front of me.

I've never watched House, so didn't know this Foreman character, but I got OMAREPPS from the M and R, thinking, oh, he must be that guy who's always showing up in crosswords. I would recognize him as easily I would recognize an asphodel or a simnel cake.

Headscratcher for me was the one PG said was too easy: STUFFS. What's the connection with trophy room? Do not get.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

David L., think taxidermy.

David L 8:47 AM  

Oh, right, thanks. I was thinking of crystal vases and silver chalices, of which I have a huge abundance, of course....

mitchs 8:59 AM  

Well, after pretty much breezing through everything else I bogged down in the NE. Actor = no chance. Flower? Uh uh. Cake? Nope. Cooking style? Would've needed lots of crosses.

Great big old DNF.

joho 9:03 AM  

@PuzzleGirl ... I forgot to thank you for your great write-up!

retired_chemist 9:14 AM  

FWIW WENCESLAUS seems to be the more common spelling. Wikipedia gives WENCESLAS as the alternative.

nanpilla 9:16 AM  

Alphodel and limnel here, too! The rest seemed too easy for a Friday, and then...that! Of course it helps that I watched House.

Loved many of the clues - LAPELS and PAROLE and of course, FRAU Blucher - great memories. The look of the grid is cool, with that line of FIRE ANTS crawling across the middle.

Never heard of PARIS TROUT, seems more like a food memoir.

Great write-up PuzzleGirl!

jesser 9:49 AM  

At the end of the British Open each year, they always cut away to the guy preparing the trophy. And how does he do that, you ask? He etchES it. So 1A was my first major error. Once I got that squared away, I ripped through the damn thing: NW, SW, SE.

And then came the NE. I spelled WENCE_LAS with an extra l. That did not help. I somehow got DEPLORE at 12D, and off that initial D, I ripped daffODiL into 7A, thinking all the while that was a crazy clue, and William Carlos Williams must have been one seriously color-blind mo-fo. Having never watched 'House', and being a major fan of Topher Grace, who played Eric Foreman in 'That 70s Show,' my brain was frozen at 18A.

It took Dr. Google's assistance to clear up that corner, so I am in DNF mode two days running. Poot.

There were two grins and one wince along the way, however.

Grin One: 45A. I attended LSU for two summer sessions and the 1986 fall semester. When the Tigers would play, the roar from the stadium was deafening from significant distances. Outside the stadium was a cage complex, and inside the cage was: Mike the Tiger. A live freakin' tiger! And a testy one. I used to go over there sometimes and sit by the cage and try to coo to Mike. He was having none of it, but I was persistent.

Grin Two: You can't be a full-fledged Parrothead and not have many fond memories of many drunken CONGA lines snaking through tailgate parties and lawn sections at Buffett concerts. Good stuff.

Wince: When I lived in Stephenville, Texas, I was washing my car on the lawn one morning when I stepped in a nest of 50As. I have never EVER had so much pain so fast. The bites all blistered and became inflamed. I have not worn shorts since because of the scarring. I nominate the phorid fly for National Insect.

Happy Friday, all! Great writeup, PG!

Volea! (A meadow infested with rodents) -- jesser

Bob Kerfuffle 10:18 AM  

Wow! Finished this correctly, but that seems to have been dumb luck!

Had write-overs at 28 A, DRYLANDS before DRYFARMS, and 23 D, "Like freakish coincidences", had WEIRD before EERIE. Guessed correctly at the ASPHODEL/SIMNEL crossing, but for the absolute wrong reason. I thought I was remembering a George Orwell novel, but now Herr Google informs me that the title is "KEEP THE ASPIDISTRA FLYING". I'll have to save that one for another day!

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

I erred in the NE because I would not give up on "Born to Run." I've seen the Boss at least five times and yet remained clueless "One Step Up." D'oh!

dk 10:26 AM  

PG, nice write up as always.

Well I liked the puzzle. I knew SNURFER, ADENINE, WENCESLAS, PARISTROUT and others.

Note: A SNURFER (made by Burton) had a handle with crossbar ensuring groin injuries.

Had silence for DEPLORE and tramples for TRAIPSES but I still finished in less than a third of the time it took Wade to find his pencil.

Not the hardest Friday, still took me by the LAPELS... fun new words like laveret and SIMNEL as well

*** (3 Stars)

Ok the cake issue: Here in the mighty midwest we call those things Princess Tortes.

foodie 10:27 AM  

Same early solving experience as Puzzle Girl, same feelings about the NE as Rex.

SIMNEL is one of those words that I recognize but cannot generate.

Still, I liked it overall and loved many little corners of this puzzle- the SNOWBOARD clue and Carol King for that unspellable dude, FLOPSWEAT which I vaguely knew, and the virtual absence of short annoying abbreviations. If you show the solved puzzle to a non-puzzler, they would actually recognize that it's in English! Thank you Patrick Berry, and thank you PG for a happy sounding write up : )

Van55 10:30 AM  

As mech as it pains me to admit it publicly, I agree 100% with RP today.

Cathyat40 10:31 AM  


Boyfriend knew OMAREPPS & ADENINE, and he owned a SNURFER as a kid.

Had fun repeating Frau BLUCHER out loud a few times.

Yesterday, I sang Solitary Man all day.

@Puzzle Girl: Great write-up - thanks for the awesome Bonnie Raitt clip.

CaseAce 10:38 AM  

We can all RESTEASY knowing that Patrick will be Berry Berry good to us, and not only will he be ONTARGET but on the DOREMI as well.
Kinda like our PRIED and joy, one might say?

Maybe because 10:43 AM  

"One Step Up" was not recorded in Springsteen's home studio (Thrill Hill East). Springsteen plays all instruments, and future wife Patti Scialfa provided backing vocals. No other members of Springsteen's usual backing group, the E Street Band, are present.

... the song reflects the impending breakup of the marriage between Springsteen and then-wife Julianne Phillips...

Perhaps due to the personal nature of the song, it has been performed live only infrequently... [wiki]


Two Ponies 10:47 AM  

PG and Wade, too funny.
Rex, you are right that an otherwise fine puzzle will only be remembered by that one cross.
Flop sweat? Really? Never ever heard of that. It sounds somewhat naughty or vaguely obscene.
I did the same thing @ jesser did with the Foreman clue except throw in a little Animal House confusion for good measure. Omar finally came out of that fog (only known via xwords) but it was not enough to save that corner.
Damn! Got my asphodel kicked by a flower!

John V 10:53 AM  

Yep, count me in as having gotten killed in the NE. DNF. 7A, 18A, 8D, 11D, complete non-starters for me. Also, 29D, Flopsweat? What the heck? Never in a million years.

Tinbeni 11:04 AM  

ASPHODEL/SIMNEL was a natick.
OMAR EPPS a gimmie.
Yup I'm a House fan.

Constructor has obviously never priced an actual TIN roof.

FLOPSWEAT def."Slang" sweat that a solver gives forth when failing and recording a DNF.

AAH moment came when I put this down and went to breakfast.

Puzzlejunkie 11:06 AM  

Can someone please explain the DOREMI clue? I am at a total loss!

hazel 11:12 AM  

To the extent that I remember anything about this puzzle in a few days' time, it will likely be the Springsteen ballad, which is an awesome song. (I've already forgotten the thorny crossing.) Thanks for posting the link, @Maybe. Tunnel of Love may be underrated/appreciated, but @Wade, "best album?". That's quite a statement - especially since its hard for me to narrow it down to the top 3!! I'm not a musician, tho.

When Orange is in the 3s on a Friday, I assume that I'll be coming in at well under an hour. Not so. Still a good puzzle to me. Good journey. Just didn't make it to the destination. Completion isn't everything.

retired_chemist 11:18 AM  

@ Puzzlejunkie -

DO-RE-MI and "green" (in the clue) are both slang for money.

Wade 11:41 AM  

Hazel, I think it's his most cohesive and mature album (despite the bad production). Granted, that may not be the same thing as the best album. His whole run from Born to Run in 1975 to Tunnel of Love in 1988 was top-notch, including the much-maligned but I think great Born in the USA. I just find that, after many years of living and breathing the Boss, a lot of his stuff is outgrowable. "Thunder Road" is one of the greatest rock songs ever, but by the time I was 30 it didn't really resonate anymore. Nebraska is good, and artistically it was very brave to put that album out when he did, but it sounds more like a stunt now than it sounded in 1982--Jersey rock star channels Woody Guthrie--and so hasn't held up that well. As for Bruce's nineties output and later, it didn't move me much, except for "The Rising," which is quite good.

Now he seems content to be a "National Treasure" and comfort food for liberals of a certain demographic, like NPR and Ken Burns and other polite, sonorous things like them, and if that's what he wants, fine with me, because like everybody else I want Bruce to be happy. Tunnel of Love still sounds like the real deal. Wish it was available without the synths and drum machines, but that would be a different album, of course.

jesser 12:06 PM  

Love this song...

Woke up this morning my house was cold
Checked out the furnace she wasn't burnin'
Went out and hopped in my old Ford
Hit the engine but she ain't turnin'
We've given each other some hard lessons lately
But we ain't learnin'
We're the same sad story that's a fact
One step up and two steps back

Bird on a wire outside my motel room
But he ain't singin'
Girl in white outside a church in June
But the church bells they ain't ringing
I'm sittin' here in this bar tonight
But all I'm thinkin' is
I'm the same old story same old act
One step up and two steps back

It's the same thing night on night
Who's wrong baby who's right
Another fight and I slam the door on
Another battle in our dirty little war
When I look at myself I don't see
The man I wanted to be
Somewhere along the line I slipped off track
I'm caught movin' one step up and two steps back

There's a girl across the bar
I get the message she's sendin'
Mmm she ain't lookin' to married
And me well honey I'm pretending
Last night I dreamed I held you in my arms
The music was never-ending
We danced as the evening sky faded to black
One step up and two steps back

Copyright © Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

I am new to this blog and love it. Doing the NYT puzzle for a long time and never knew about this until now. I hope to contribute but am a bit shy. I enjoy reading everyones comments. Thanks!

ArtLvr 12:17 PM  

I'm happy today: an ON-TARGET finish without help. Woohoo.

I skipped my 1A idea "Shines" for the trophies as iffy, just going elsewhere to start at Leveret's HARE, ASPHODEL and WENCESLAS the Carol king.

SIMNEL and the PARIS TROUT title were total unknowns for me, but came okay through crosses. I must say marzipan isn't a favorite here either.

That SW corner was the last to fall -- I didn't believe in FLOP SWEAT, but it had to be right. Ick.

@ jesser, your FIREANTS ordeal sounded dire!

This one will PASS FOR mostly masterful, IMHO... Many thanks to Patrick Berry and PG too.


Unknown 12:26 PM  

I'd heard the expression flop sweats before but never realized it was specific to fear of failure in front of an audience - I thought it just meant being covered in sweat. I'm in Miami,so I see a lot of that.

I could not believe that there was a Springsteen song I didn't know! Even with the lyrics posted above, I can't say I've heard it.

I nearly dnf - I apparently can't spell Wenceslas, was sure it had a U in it. Once I figured that out, the only answer for the song had to be Onestepup.

Didn't even notice the pun on Carole King until I came here.

Nice write-up, PG!

Sparky 12:29 PM  

DNF. Managed to muddle through in top of NE as I guessed MLANESE and filled in most downs. Did not see TONE,PERON,LAPELS. Misspelled TRApeSES. Did not Google. Had SE first, then chunk of the middle. My cousin Bill was a Seabee. All in all, I'm satisfied. Nice write up Puzzle Girl. Good weekend one and all.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

For those not familiar with 29D, there is a scene in 'Broadcast News' when Albert Brooks' character gets to anchor the news on a weekend when everyone else is at some DC shindig. As soon as he is on camera, he starts perspiring, and it shortly becomes obvious to the audience. One of the studio guys says 'this is more than Nixon ever sweated', and they all agree his written copy was terrific, but it didn't matter because of the FLOPSWEAT.

Couldn't complete NE due to diabolical cross already mentioned, and the inability to spell Wenceslas.


foodie 12:47 PM  

@Wade I love your mix of passion, humor and analytical style about music. It makes me want to take a class from you-- I wish you'd teach one. Do you?

"NPR and Ken Burns and other polite, sonorous things like them" was pitch perfect!

@Anonymous 12:15, Shyness will fade. You've already taken the first step. Hopefully, next time you'll give yourself a moniker and we will get to know you and love you (or hate you, as the case may be : ).

Kerry 12:53 PM  

Was lucky enough to remember SIMNEL from last year's National Spelling Bee. A case of one bit of geekery serving another.

Toggle 1:04 PM  

Loved the puzzle. Took me forever but I managed to finish w/o errors or Google. A real triumph as I couldn't even start a Friday or Saturday a year ago - but thanks to this great blog, I've learned so much!

FLOP SWEAT is a common term in the theater, but I've never heard it to refer to a first-timer. Rather, it usually describes the feeling of all the actors who know they're trapped in a bad play. They're acting their hearts out, but they're getting no love from the audience. It's total torture to keep going - yet they have to; the show must go on - but it's a big FLOP so they're covered with SWEAT.

Phil 1:39 PM  

@Wade - Big thing on CNN this morning. Seems a whole lot of those really old Japanese people aren't really that old, just dead and not buried. People have ben keeping them mummified in their rooms for decades. You may have reached your goal.

syndy 1:46 PM  

guessed simnel from lambert(claimed to be one of the lost princes from the Tower and ended up as a cook for HENRY TUDOR)do not consider having to google for correct spelling a dnf (I know i can't spell)write overs include marinara,insulthero(TONE)nude(arte)liked this puzz a lot-thank you puzz girl-seabee-navy corp of engineers;seadog-old dude with pegleg,dufflebag and a lot of tall tales

Cathyat40 1:49 PM  

Asbury Park, E-Street Shuffle & Born to Run are my fav Bruce LPs - didn't buy any after that.

chefbea 1:54 PM  

Too tough for me today and didn't have much time this morning. So gave up and came here

Have never heard of,made,or eaten a simnel cake. I'll have to look up the recipe.

Lots of tin roofs here in NC.

Read in our local paper that I-Hop's mascot - miss pancake was molested out side of her restaurant in Bellingham, Wash. Thought Rex might be interested in this story

Kurt 2:06 PM  

I, too, am a proud member of The Northeast Natick Society. When are we going to elect officers?

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

I got "doremi" from the other clues in the southeast corner, but I can't for the life of me figure out why it's "Green stuff." Can somebody explain? Thanks!

retired_chemist 2:52 PM  

@ Anon 2:10 -

From my 11:18 post:

DO-RE-MI and "green" (in the clue) are both slang for money.

Greene 2:57 PM  

@Anonymous 2:10: As has been pointed out by others, "Green Stuff" and DO RE MI are both slang for money. The "green" reference is fairly obvious. I'm not certain how DO RE MI came to denote cash. I have always assumed it was related to the term "dough" as slang for money and just naturally evolved into DOugh RE MI.

The slang has a certain old-time feel to it. Anyone remember Woody Guthrie's song "Do Re Me"? I oddly remember Fred Flintsone using the phrase "Do Re Me Money" more than once on television long ago. There was also a Broadway musical called Do Re Me back around 1960 which starred Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker which used the term freely. It was about a group of con men (ergo Silvers) muscling in on the burgeoning jukebox industry.

I love the term FLOP SWEAT. I remember seeing an extremely unloved production of The 3Penny Opera (the production's spelling, not mine) on Broadway in 1989 which starred, of all people, Sting! Everybody did their best, but even Atlas himself could not have carried the weight of that ponderous production on his shoulders. The house positively reeked of FLOP SWEAT.

acme 3:02 PM  

Still smiling hours and hours later from your concise FLOPSWEAT "Ew". :)

hazel 3:08 PM  

Wade - thanks very much for your very thoughtful elaboration.

I don't really think of myself as maudlin, but perhaps when it comes to B Springsteen I am. I still love Nebraska for some reason I can't explain, I could listen to Born to Run every Friday afternoon and never get sick of it, and The Rising still makes me cry every single time I listen to it.

I realize now that I haven't listened to Tunnel of Love enough. So thanks again very much for your comments.

JenCT 3:10 PM  

DNF for me. ASPHODEL, SIMNEL, SEEBEE, WENCESLAS are all new to me.

I thought it was Challenging - let's see what the stats are later.

Fun write-up.

dk 3:31 PM  

@anon at 12:15, 54a, jump in the pool, and 5D everyday along with the rest of us.

@Cathyat40, buying Baja Sessions and San francisco Days (Chris Isaac albums the later with Solitary Man) for my brother's birthday. I will, of course, copy them to iTunes to ensure they work.

Tin roofs are still cheap... steel is not.

william e emba 3:31 PM  

Hah! Hahaha!

I spent nearly a year and a half in college sweating over William Carlos Williams. Strictly on my own too. I read his poetry over and over again, including "Paterson" and of course "ASPHODEL, That Greeny Flower".

Why? Because I couldn't get it. What the bleep was this "sprung rhythm" stuff?? It drove me nuts.

I mean, I can't understand more than three consecutive words of Wallace Stevens, but it is gloriously thrilling. (Heck, I can't understand more than three consecutive letters of Finnegans Wake, but it cracks me up every time.) But over at the stylistic opposite poetic end was William Carlos Williams.

In the end, I'm happy to report, I got it. However, I refuse to look at most post-Williams poetry. Too much work.

Over the years I've mostly associated with mathematicians. We have a wide range of interests, and a number of them are into all sorts of English literature. Only once have I met one who was familiar with Williams, and he too loved "Asphodel", or so he told me seeing me reading it. Too bad the guy was absofreakinglutely nuts, and I had to end the conversation as quickly and as uncomfortably as possible.

On the other hand, I was almost Naticked, looking at a SInNEL cake crossed with an actor OnAREPPS. I decided this was not a last name, and then guessed OMAR EPPS (why yes, we saw him as a Mod Squad actor 12/20/08). That was my only writeover.

Overall, I found the puzzle easy-medium.

JayWalker 3:37 PM  

Medium? Easy-Medium?? My ass!!

deerfencer 3:43 PM  

<<.. the song reflects the impending breakup of the marriage between Springsteen and then-wife Julianne Phillips...>>

What I always assumed (but didn't know Scialfa sang back-up vocals)--interesting. In any case a heart-wrenching song and one of Bruce's best IMO.

Fun puzzle BTW--thanks PB!

jae 4:49 PM  

I too had the dreaded L. Mostly medium other than that. Being a House fan helped. I did start out with SHINES and struggled like many with the WENCESLAS spelling. I'm over all more positive than negative about this one.

Ruth 5:06 PM  

@Greene, I love the version of Guthrie's "Do Re Mi" by Nanci Griffith--lots of energy, fun.
@BobK, I thought of the aspidistra too in coming up with Asphodel--sounded right.
My fastest Friday ever. Go figure.

Unknown 5:13 PM  

What a great day of comments here. Wade, what a start...I guess you saw the obituary for the creator of Hee-Haw. of your best name conventions ever and professional funny comments

PG - you rock

william e emba...fabulous! You paralleled my life except for the math part and then finally getting WCW.

Wade 5:40 PM  

Philly, yes, I saw the obit a couple of days ago and thought of you. Everything I am today I owe to Hee-Haw--came on every Saturday at 6:00, right after Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Marlin Perkins had the cushiest job in the world--just standing there by that globe in an insurance company's office while Jim gets his ass handed to him on a platter by some wildebeests.

I've been revisiting "Tunnel of Love" for the past couple of hours to see if I still believe everything I said earlier. I do. It's just a rung or two below "Blood on the Tracks" in the category of great breakup records. This may be my candidate for Bruce's greatest song.

Foodie, you're too kind, as always. God help anybody who'd take a class from me on anything at all.

mac 9:49 PM  

F! Granted I had plenty of time and my son to help me (and to distract).

I was greatly helped by the fact the Simnel cake was a gimme. Never ate it, never made it, but I have an English "cookery" book that has a picture of one with those little fake chicks on it.

Got retorts without crosses as well somehow, learned flop sweat, wanted Omar Epps when House was in the clue but wasn't sure about his part's name. and am unsure about censure/deplore, but too tired/lazy to look it up.

@Jesser, PG, Wade: great, great comments and write-ups and what have you.

Oh, one bad one: had --manly for weak and craven and for a second, angrily, thought: womanly???

sanfranman59 10:06 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 7:16, 6:58, 1.04, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 10:30, 8:49, 1.19, 92%, Challenging
Wed 10:33, 11:47, 0.90, 28%, Easy-Medium
Thu 18:29, 19:08, 0.97, 45%, Medium
Fri 22:56, 26:32, 0.86, 28%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:51, 3:43, 1.04, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:13, 4:33, 1.12, 90%, Challenging
Wed 5:35, 5:47, 0.96, 44%, Medium
Thu 8:51, 9:10, 0.97, 50%, Medium
Fri 11:24, 12:54, 0.88, 30%, Easy-Medium

@JayWalker ... when folks here comment about puzzle difficulty, they're usually rating it relative to the day of the week. An Easy-Medium Friday (like today's puzzle) would be rated as off the charts difficult for a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

Will 4:11 PM  

NW and SE easier than a typical Friday for me, SW typical Friday, NW I had to Google. Couldn't spell "Wenceslas" and have no idea what a "simnel" is. Did know "asphodel" though, and I'm thinking this is an another famous poem, is it Whiman? Does anyone know?

But "flopsweat"? Was in the theatre for years and never heard of this. has anyone heard of this term?

Will 4:13 PM  

Whitman, I mean.

Will 5:14 PM  

I found it. Its from my favorite Robert Frost poem: "Trial by Existence"

"Wide fields of asphodel fo'ever"

Anonymous 1:40 AM  

I have a quibble with this puzzle... if you're going to spell AMEBA with an OE, then you should pluralize with -AE. AMEBAS or AMOEBAE. AMOEBAS is just wrong!

Dirigonzo 7:43 PM  

Very late hand up for the ASPHODEL/SIMNEL crossing - I, like so many others guessed "L" which seemed reasonable, it was just wrong. Also struggled as did so many with the spelling of WENCESLAS; wanted a "z" in there somewhere at one point and was pretty sure it ended in "...aus", until it didn't. Finished with one other error in the southeast: decided, wrongly again, that the delighted expression at 42A was hAH, so I wound up with a composer named Shlieri which seemed perfectly reasonable, just not correct. Am I the only one who wanted ScrewED for given a raw deal? That answer tickled me so much that I stuck with it way past the time I knew it had to go. Once FRAUD was in place I stepped back and saw SHAFTED which I like almost as much. My sons snowboard so henceforth and forevermore I shall refer to them as SNURFERS - just one more way to annoy them (payback is a bitch, I say.)

@PuzzleGirl, your write-up still shines five weeks later.

No Saturday puzzle for me (my paper doesn't publish on Saturday) but I'll be back Sunday to join in the festivities, and only ONE week later than the rest of you! Over and out. (Secret word - pladomi. Money used in Monopoly?)

Anonymous 3:32 PM  

This comes quite late, as I do the puzzle in syndication, but would guess Do Re Mi means cash because they're all notes, like C-notes are.

Anonymous 4:06 AM  

I wanted CHALK line instead of CONGA line. I thought it was too cute right next to SLATES to be wrong. I probably would have got FIREANTS and SNOWBOARD if I hadn't stuck to my guns.

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