Oblast bordering Kazakhstan / SUN 9-19-10 / 1998 film featuring Princess Bala / Cousin of goldeneye / Ohio city named for queen

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Constructor: Kevin G. Der

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "MUSICAL PLAY" — composer puns

Word of the Day: ELEMI (4D: Aromatic resin) —

Elemi (Canarium luzonicum) is a tree native to the Philippines, and an oleo-resin harvested from it. // Elemi resin is a pale yellow substance, of honey-like consistency. Aromatic elemi oil is steam distilled from the resin. It is a fragrant resin with a sharp pine and lemon-like scent. One of the resin components is called amyrin. // Elemi is chiefly used commercially in varnishes and lacquers, and certain printing inks. // Elemi is used as a herbal medicine to treat bronchitis, catarrh, extreme coughing, mature skin, scars, stress, and wounds. The constituents include phellandrene, dipentene, elemol, elemicin, terpineol, carvone, and terpinolene. (wikipedia)

• • •

This was way harder than I thought it was going to be once I uncovered the theme. Some theme answers came easily (e.g. THINK OUTSIDE THE BACHS), while others ... did not (e.g. GRASP AT STRAUSS ... had STRAUSS but couldn't think of a thing that it could be a pun for; still can't. "Straws" is a stretch too massive for my brain to handle, perhaps because I pronounce both the vowel and the terminal "S" sounds differently. I think I also German up the initial "ST" a bit. Anyway...). Mostly I thought the puns were cute; I don't generally like puns, but these seemed OK. I also thought the grid was really interesting and lively, but holy cow some parts of it were Really thorny. Mostly good thorny, but not always. I think I literally flipped off the puzzle when SHE-DEVIL turned out to be (the Weak) SHE-DEMON (11D: Succubus).

NW was a definite SHE-DEMON in general. I had most of the area about BACHS blank for a good chunk of time, largely due to ALERO's sitting in the place of the (much less "popular") CIERA (13A: Once-popular Olds). All the Across clues were very vague, I could not think what type of -IN 21D: Peaceful protest could be. SIT-IN. BE-IN ... and I'm out (it's LOVE-IN). Not up on my Hindu gods (of thunder or otherwise), so I had to fight like mad for this section (14D: Hindu god of thunder=>INDRA). Same thing with the lower-west (AT WORST) section of the grid. Once I (finally) got HAYDN in there, I was able to bring it down, but before that, yikes. Both 66D: France's ___-Pas-de-Calais (NORD) and 67D: ___ Islands, group at the mouth of Galway Bay (ARAN) are pretty obscure geographical clues, 75D: Not straight (WRY) is vague, again (I had GAY, not surprisingly). The only thing I thought was certain in there was TEA (74D: Crumpet's go-with). I started out sure of SERRA (78A: Missionary Junipero ___), but when none of the Downs behaved, I figured it had some weird spelling I couldn't remember, so pulled it. Oh, and I had AT LEAST for AT WORST (73A: If all else fails). Got beat around in other places too, but mostly with pleasure.

Theme answers:
  • 22A: "Carmen" composer-turned-dam builder? (BIZET AS A BEAVER)
  • 29A: Embrace more than just a family of Baroque composers? (THINK OUTSIDE THE BACHS) — "Embrace?"
  • 39A: Romantic overindulgence in nocturnes and mazurkas? (CHOPIN SPREE)

  • 55A: Singing a "Messiah" piece too quickly? (FLYING OFF THE HANDEL)
  • 66A: Countrywide music celebration in Hungary? (NATIONAL LISZT PARTY) — composer as suffix ... weird
  • 83A: Part of a children's game with the Father of the Symphony? (HAYDN GO SEEK)
  • 93A: Grand nuptials whose only music was "Peer Gynt"? ("MY BIG FAT GRIEG WEDDING")—probably the most inventive of these answers, though the BACHS one is good too.
  • 105A: Try to capture the Waltz King? (GRASP AT STRAUSS)
Even familiar names were hidden behind dark curtains today. I know enough about OVID (big fan) to pick up 88A: Poet depicted in art alongside the Scythians, but that seems like a tough clue to me. The BAHA Men are missing their usual "Who Let The Dogs Out?" clue and today get this much more obscure clue, 20A: ___ Men ("Move It Like This" group). I love diners—I'm trying to go to every one I can in my general geographical area—and I can tell you that I have yet to see a JUKEbox in any of them (1A: Diner fixture, informally). Maybe because they are real diners and not "50s Retro Diners." No idea who the physicist is— just guessed his name from crosses (104A: Physicist Schrödinger and others=>ERWINS). I know EIDER as down, so no idea what's up with 102A: Cousin of a goldeneye. "Goldeneye" sounds floral, so I thought maybe EIDER was a plant I didn't know about; turns out I'm backwards—EIDER isn't floral; "Goldeneye" is a kind of duck (who knew? Outside birdies and ornithologists, I mean?). Seen "ANTZ" in the puzzle many times—saw it in the theater when it first came out—and yet today's clue was utterly meaningless to me (53D: 1998 film featuring Princess Bala). Another common answer—RIATA—also had a tough clue (98D: One thrown from a horse). I started with RIDER. All in all, a solid, tougher-than-avg Sunday workout for me.

  • 26A: It hangs around the Amazon (MIST) — really good clue. I was looking for some kind of vine. A four-letter LIANA, maybe.
  • 52A: Oblast bordering Kazakhstan (OMSK) — my go-to oblast (that is not a joke). KAZ is in the grid (3D: Second baseman Matsui, to fans) ... pretty sure the country and the second baseman are etymologically unrelated, though.
  • 81A: Ohio city named for a queen (MARIETTA) — which queen, you (that is, I) might ask? Seems it was named "Adelphia," but was renamed "MARIETTA," after Marie Antoinette, "in honor of France's contributions to the American victory in the American Revolution."
  • 103A: Some old runabouts (REOS) — again, common enough answer, but toughish clue.
  • 5D: Purchase of 1867 (ALASKA) — Seward's Folly!
  • 32D: Lager sources (TAPS) — not at all intuitive to me. I had TUNS (?!) at first.
  • 91D: It's often carried around at the gym (ODOR) — Weird: I have experienced other people's body ODOR way more strongly in stores, restaurants, subways, etc. than I ever have in the gym. I think most people in gyms tend to, uh, take care of themselves, and be kind of self-conscious about such things. I mean, they clearly care how their bodies look, so ...
  • 93D: Irish novelist Binchy (MAEVE) — gimme, but only because she was in this Encyclopedia of Popular Contemporary Writers that I edited. Had never heard of her before I signed on for that project.
And now your Tweets of the (past two) Week(s) — puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:
  • @greenmelinda Dear @KCStar: why is there a section for "faith" listed and not one for the damned crossword puzzle?
  • @TSWHITLOW This lady is eatting n front of her kids while they have nthng bt a crossword puzzle ☹ wtf is the deal
  • @JayyGotOneToo 12th grade still doin crossword puzzles and word searches nshit -_- what kind of shit is this.
  • @dexshow Finished the whole USA Today crossword from yesterday by myself! Who says athletes are dumb? Cmon man! http://yfrog.com/n5g66nj
  • @joannamogo This isn't crossword, its sudoku! :'( what a way to spoil my day
  • @lizzwinstead It really is shocking that in such serious times, GOP keeps supporting candidates who couldn't solve the TV Guide crossword puzzle
  • @TheVeganButcher I just finished a whole crossword puzzle for the first time in my entire life! Completely drunk!!!
  • @IreneZiegler The Sunday NYTimes #crossword puzzle wiped the floor with my non-absorbent butt. #BillShortzMustRepent
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


SethG 12:32 AM  

WEAL crossing LAR makes WEAL crossing Bide-AWEE look good. I should maybe have known ARAN/SERRA, though I guessed right there. TIDALLY is Flandersesque, ANS next to ANTZ is cute, and OH HI is...something.


Noam D. Elkies 12:37 AM  

Enjoyed this one, especially after seeing the daily puzzles go from the musically sublime [Mstislav] to the musically(?) ridiculous [F****r Flav — I don't care if the two -lav names rhyme (and now I see that this F****r is seven years older than I am, so it's not even a symptom of N.Last's youth)]. I guess Shortz is not Jewish, so rather than 84D:GO_FAST on this Yom Kippur weekend he's atoning by giving us a whole theme of puns on classical composers' names. Nice too that the theme puns are all new (except possibly 83A:HAYDN_GO_SEEK) and unforced (except, appropriately, 105A, which does seem to grasp at Strauß, I mean straws).

Still quite hard in parts; the SW was particularly mysterious, even though it is headed by the theme entry (93A:MY_BIG_FAT_GRIEG_WEDDING) that was the first thing I put in the grid(!), and it turns out I guessed wrong in 93D:MAEVE, putting in Meese (needless to say I've never edited an Encyclopædia of Popular Contemporary Writers…). Other mysteries include 67D:ARAN and 70D:LAR. The clue for 41D:SHOE would have been mysterious too, but I remembered an even worse pun on "Fermat's Last Theorem" that had this usage of "last". (Presumably Natan knew it; of course there's no relation between any kind of "last" and the "oblast" of the clue for 52A:OMSK.)

Favorite non-theme touch: 89A:VOODOO economics crossing 89D:VEEP, as in Bush 41 who gave us this phrase. Also nice to use the musical feint "Bass part" to clue 47D:FIN (which here has nothing to do with a musical finale). The other smilie face on my copy of the puzzle adorns the clue for 95D:BOWLS. The 56D:OBIT clue is neat too. 46A:RAREFIES is a nice word, with the rare -efy suffix rather than -ify; and the symmetrically placed 81D:MARIETTA is clued with a neat piece of trivia. (The Carolinas are also named after royalty, as are two boroughs of NYC in a generic way, though Kings has reverted to its Dutch name Brooklyn.)

I have "107D:UGH" marked next to the clue for 91D:ODOR, but Rex is right: I hardly recall a noticeable odor there.

Slight wrong turn at 108D: having guessed ...STRAUSS for 105A, I put in "sic", not sure whether this actually works for "go after"; but the correct 108D:SUE certainly does.

2D:UPI, 43D:RPI. I just found out with the ubiqutious UPI stands for, though I might have guessed it. Guessing the spelling of the name represented by the R of RPI would take much longer…


Evgeny 4:41 AM  

ha, I won the bet against myself that Mr. Parker will like the theme's implementation...

Loved the puns, especially because the correct pronunciations of the German/Austrian composers' names are so stuck in my head that some serious outside-the-bachs-thinking was needed with Bach and Strauss. Luckily, Chopin, Händel, Liszt, Haydn and Grieg fit the respective phrases to make clear how it all works.

SHEDEMON was a gimme, b/c just last week at a trivia quiz, there was a question as to which band is named after a type of male demon. None of my team knew, so first thing i did when i got home was to wiki up on Incubus.

Evgeny 4:41 AM  

ha, I won the bet against myself that Mr. Parker will like the theme's implementation...

Loved the puns, especially because the correct pronunciations of the German/Austrian composers' names are so stuck in my head that some serious outside-the-bachs-thinking was needed with Bach and Strauss. Luckily, Chopin, Händel, Liszt, Haydn and Grieg fit the respective phrases to make clear how it all works.

SHEDEMON was a gimme, b/c just last week at a trivia quiz, there was a question as to which band is named after a type of male demon. None of my team knew, so first thing i did when i got home was to wiki up on Incubus.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:29 AM  

Only fifth post, if I can type fast enough, and yet I am still resigned to only echoing what has already been said:

Agree with NDE, HAYDNGOSEEK sounds very familiar, but the other theme entries are fresh and funny.

And to make somewhat the same point as Evgeny, a succubus really deserves to be called a SHEDEMON rather than she-devil; I have the feeling there is a real difference, which I don't have time to research now.

Good puzzle over-all.

Anonymous 6:30 AM  

VOODOO economics: This is obviously another puzzle about Ronald Reagan. I know. I'm grasping at stra....

Eric Berlin 6:31 AM  

An hour before I solved the puzzle, I was watching the credits roll on some kiddie movie -- "Big Fat Liar," it turns out -- and the soundtrack at that moment was "Move It Like This." According to those same credits, this VERY simple song was written by no fewer than ten people. Ten! And that doesn't even include LL Cool J, whose previous work was sampled for the song.


Borden 6:51 AM  

First post -- love the site.

I remember a lot of diners having those mini wall jukeboxes in each of the booths.

JenCT 8:45 AM  

Gave up on this after a while. Had too many mistakes:

3D - was thinking Hideki Matsui, not Kazuo, so put in GOD (short for Godzilla) - instead of KAZ.

13A - Wouldn't give up on ALERO for the longest time (CIERA.)



Anyone else wanting ZITS for 42D?

I don't know how you do this every day, Rex. Many kudos.

Leslie 9:05 AM  

I'm so mad at myself. Thought I was done, only to see that I had an accidental DNF. Right in the middle, where OMSK crosses GMT, just didn't see that I wasn't all the way finished and now I can't write in those answers without feeling like a cheater. Dang it!!

Such a clever theme--Kevin Der's puzzles are pretty much guaranteed to be a lot of fun. My favorite theme answer was MY BIG FAT GRIEG WEDDING, although they were all great. Favorite non-theme clue and answer: 18A.

Sil 9:14 AM  

Diner Counter-top Jukebox in the final scene of The Sopranos.

ArtLvr 9:27 AM  

Amazing accomplishment -- Kudos to Kevin!

I worked at this mostly from bottom to top, so GRASP AT STRAUSS revealed the theme early on. In fact my only error turned out to be in the number one square, where I was stuck on a corn Cob and a Cuke! JOB was brilliant, but JUKE not so hot. Maybe that's just sour grapes?

Loved all the theme puns, especially CHOPIN SPREE -- and even the clues for the fill like SWAY mostly showed Mr. Der's masterful Command of the crossword art!


Vega 10:20 AM  

Argh, this was unbelievably harder (damn you, northeast corner!) than I wish it had been because once I finished, it seemed like it should have felt easy. Because of "on the rocks," I couldn't get "on ice" out of my head, leaving two extra squares opaque to me. I *am* up on my Hindu gods, and know INDRA only as king of the gods. Kind of embarrassing, actually, but always cool to learn stuff from crosswords, even about my own religion.

I need to remember that oblast means something other than a geologic formation.

Great cluing and great puns. So fun, and generally very fun puzzle to feel good about finishing. But CHOPINSPREE? Mildly curious to see that this one didn't get comment when STRAUSS did.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:20 AM  

In case you missed it, here is a three minute conversation (sorry, preceded by a 13 second commercial) between Liane Hansen and Natan Last on the week of puzzles by Brown University students.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Rex is way too young to remember juke boxes, much less juke boxes in diners. Suggest Rex go watch Top Gun (again) to get that lovin' feeling....

jesser 11:14 AM  

@IreneZiegler The Sunday NYTimes #crossword puzzle wiped the floor with my non-absorbent butt. #BillShortzMustRepent

Yeah. What Irene said.

I'm gonna go be productive now.

Demorov (After today's puzzle, that would be me, but with an N replacing that V) -- jesser

Mel Ott 11:22 AM  

I admit I don't like puns in the first place, but CHOPIN for "shopping" is just dreadful!

I was going to say the same about STRAUSS but if I understand @Evgeny the German/Austrian pronunciation is closer to our "straws", which would redeem it somewhat. Is that so?

David L 11:23 AM  

DNF because of that NE corner. Didn't know KAZ or ELEMI, and I had to think about OPAL before seeing how it works...

I'm generally an abhorer of puns, but these were good, except for GRASPATSTRAUSS -- does anyone (who knows even a bit about music, that is) pronounce Strauss like straws?

And 6D: Even if it'll never happen again = JUSTONCE? I don't see how to make that work. I mean, I can see a vague similarity but not an exact equivalence of the phrases.

archaeoprof 11:27 AM  

@BobKerfuffle: thanks for that link. What a good week of puzzles it was, too.

Loved this splendid effort from Der Kluge. Laughed out loud at every one of the puns. Even though the crossing SERRO/ARON was a Natick for me, it took none of the shine off this extraordinary puzzle. Best all-around Sunday in a long, long time.

Unknown 11:38 AM  

I love Kevin Der puzzles, and this one was no exception. Great puns and some real insidious cluing. I had to get ERWINS through crosses, but fortunately, I have a galpal named MAEVE, so I got the correct German spelling of ERWIN as opposed to IRWIN. Otherwise, I might have had a one letter DNF as in yesterday's STOLA. ARRGGH !

A few comment to Rex:

As @Borden and @Sil said, individual Juke Boxes were ubiquitous in all the real diners of my youth. Wall mounted, they had little metal tabs at the top for turning the selection pages, and a letter and number keypad at the bottom. Naturally, the music was piped in through the central sound system. You never knew how long it would take for your selections to play, but you knew that you and your girl friend were gonna be there for hours, so it didn't much matter. I humbly submit that the "Fifties" diners, were the "Real" diners !

Riddle: How do you get down from an elephant?

Answer: You don't. You get down from a duck !

As a hunter who has picked literally thousands of ducks and geese, pure down is definitely the softest stuff you will ever palpitate. It takes about 60 Canadian geese to make a 100% real down pillow. That being opposed to the commercial pillows that claim they are down, but are really mostly breast feathers. The nice part, is that you will also end up with 120 breast fillets in the freezer. Canadian geese are delicious and can be cooked many ways. The breast meat has no fat content to speak of, and is an extremely good source of natural protein. The legs are a bit tough, but a crock-pot works wonders on them. Eiders and Goldeneyes are sea ducks, ergo, extremely fishy tasting. That being said, if you know how to prep them, you would never imagine that your are eating something that feeds mostly on sea grass and small crustaceans.

We real waterfowl hunters have a saying, " If it flies, it dies and If it dies, it frys! "

Bon Appetit !

mac 11:38 AM  

Fantastic puzzle, Kevin! Gnarly alright, had to hop about a bit, but finished without errors. Flying off the Handel made me laugh! I also think I've seen Haydn go seek before.

Never heard of an informal name for a juke box, tried jbox, but that didn't last long. Liked Aeolian (harp), is that the same as wind harp? Sweet name for a duck, goldeneye. Like "weal" and "sway". Agree with the comments on BO in the gym: not in mine, either. But the subway on a rainy day....

Noam D. ElkiesI 11:40 AM  

Forgot to mention: if your 49A:CHOPIN_SPREE includes Études as well as nocturnes and mazurkas then you probably know that "The 53A:AEOLIAN Harp" is the nickname of this Chopin Étude (so called even though it does not use the "natural minor" mode that sometimes goes by the name "Æollian mode").


Norm 11:41 AM  

Very cute puzzle. Yes, some of the puns were a stretch, but that just ramped up the difficulty a bit. I would actually call this one easy rather than medium-challenging, but then yesterday's was challenging in my book, so it all balances out.

Rex Parker 11:49 AM  

Look, I watched "Happy Days," I know what a jukebox is and that stereotypically, *old* diners featured them. Most places calling themselves "diners" today, however, simply don't. Of the many I've been to in this area, literally None of them have JUKEs. Not that there aren't some exceptions around here somewhere. I just haven't seen them.

Diners where I live are largely breakfast / lunch joints, w/ booth or counter seating and watery coffee. I happen to Love them. I also happen to love the lack of JUKEs therein.

Evgeny 11:53 AM  

first of, sorry for posting twice up there. No idea how to delete a comment once made...

@ Mel Ott: Strauss and Bach are the two names that are not pronounced in German the way they would need to be pronounced to fit the phrases. I don't know how to do phonetic transcription, but Strauss sounds like "Shtrah-uss" with a stress on the "ah", nothing like straws and Bach like "Bah" (voicing the H like at the start of a word), definitely nothing like "Bok(s)"

@ all who don't like Chopin for "shopping": Many tend to mistakingly think that because this is a French name it has to be pronounced in a French fashion. Chopin, however, was Polish, and his name was pronounced accordingly: "Sho-pen" with a stress on the "o" and distinctively voicing the "n". And this is kinda close to "Shoppin'", fo'sho'

chefbea 11:59 AM  

Loved all the puns. Got Haydn go seek right off.

Great sunday puzzle

Ulrich 12:00 PM  

Well, if you think Chopin for Shopping is stretching it, you should be livid about Bachs/box (hardly any resemblance at all), with Strauß/straws a close --ish second (Strauß rhymes with vows--doesn't sound like straws at all). I'm hoarse from the groaning I did all morning...if my club hadn't fought the hated Bavarians of Munich to a tie yesterday IN Munich, the day would be ruined for me:-)

On the upside, a reunion with ADIT, which was the first word I learned from puzzles--opened my eyes to the existence of crosswordese--I started recently my personal dictionary of that language.

Ulrich 12:01 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 12:05 PM  

Sorry, didn't see Evgeny's post before I posted mine...I'm watching soccer on the side.

@Evgeny: Get a google account and set up a profile. Then post under this account and you will be able to delete your comment, also have your very own avatar.

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

Sorry, Rex, but a diner is not a diner without a juke. The diners you go to are pseudo-diners, not real diners. Happy Days does not make for a real experience at a real diner. Any puzzle that starts out across with JUKE and develops puns out of classical musicians (notwithstanding the picky phonetics) and ends on the downside with SAX is a real puzzle worth real DINERo....

PS. Can somone tell me if there was a juke in the diner in the movie "Diner?"

CoffeeLvr 12:44 PM  

Ahh, so close and yet so far. Google does not always help, nor the MW 7th "New" Collegiate.

Cannot believe I did not see JOB for 1D - my first thought when I see plant with no context is factory. I got stuck with cOB, after considering hOB, a tool for cutting gear teeth. (BTW, the third Google search response is my dentist, Dr. John Huke.) Of course, I struggled to see KAZ - this is where Google failed me - wrong Matsui, so figured we Americans just cut his name down to mAZ.

And in Texas - could not let go of an ineffective command to my dog, StAY, or to IrEAd for the start of a rumor - didn't remember LAR Lubovitch, but I think he has been in puzzles before. That all said, I knew a rEDGEROt couldn't be right, but sometimes I am just ready to be done.

I expected this to be very hard for me, as my knowledge of classical music is superficial. However, given the puns, they were easy to medium to get.

Had no idea TOD is German for death, but the crosses insisted.

Favorite clue, 85D, like the Ford logo. More car logos than not are surrounded by an oval, circle or something in between.

Favorite entry @61A - OBLA di, OBLA da, life goes on.

Unknown 12:47 PM  


Apparently I have incurred "The Wrath Of Rex!"

@Rex: I did not mean to insinuate that you are unfamiliar with the Jukebox era, or it's history vis-a-vis original diners and Americana. Perhaps your umbrage was directed at @Anonymous's comment, for implying that you are too young to remember any version of them?

That being said, I was merely pointing out, that the individual booth Jukeboxes were much more prevalent in early diners, as opposed to the huge stand-up Wurlitzer's commonly associated with malt shops like Arnold's in Happy Days.

I'm sure that you like the 21st century version of a "Diner" sans Jukebox. I wouldn't want to have to listen to Lady Gaga singing Bad Romance while eating my bacon and eggs either. Soooo, I wasn't trying to punk you or cast aspersions on your knowledge. I was just saying that your interpretation of a " Real Diner " might be different from those of another bygone era, no?

Peace !

Sparky 12:49 PM  

DNF. NW corner stayed with six open squares. Double Violin Concerto favorite of mine and the ballet Concerto Barocco. Anyway, this was a bit of a slog for me. Finally came here. BIG FAT GRIEG WEDDING first aha. Picked away at it from there. I didn't think puns had to be an exact match to the subject word. They wouldn't be funny if they matched exactly. @Rex. Johnny Rockets, a chain of new diners has those small booth juke boxes so you'll know to avoid them. @Evgeny. If you just don't hit Publish you can do a lot of editing of your post. @Ulrich. Thanks for the info yesterday and today on Google account. I'm still such a dunce I'm sticking to my name in black. Oh yes, the puzzle: a MIST could hang over anything. Why Amazon? Why OH HI? There were a couple of things like that nagged at me. All in all an okay play.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

@CHAOS1, what a wuss! You certainly don't live up to your pseudonym in commenting on psuedo-diners. Rex is just plain wrong and he refuses to admit it because he is the king. Fortunately for Rex he is not the emperor because he would arrive at his diner sans juke without any clothes on.... Have to go play some golf now. Enjoy the pro football games.

Damn it, folks 12:59 PM  

They're PUNS not Homophones!

... and why do we have to have the same discussion every time?

(At least the differences in pronunciation have gone international.)


John 1:01 PM  

This puzzle makes a good case for reinventing the WEAL!

The puzzle was very enjoyable indeed!

Many of the classic stainless steel diners were made in Paterson NJ, near where I grew up.

Ive seen a jukebox in a Waffle House. It was a huge-looking thing that didnt really belong.

r.alphbunker 1:29 PM  

NW corner did me in also. Finished with KEZ, EREMI and OPER. I was not happy with the answers but wanted something to do with phones for the ringtone clue. EREMI looked familiar but I now realize I was thinking of eremite.

As an afterthought, did telephone operators go the way of jukeboxes? It's been ages since I have talked to an operator.

I tend not to like puzzles with elaborate shaggy dog clues. But this one was professionally done.

The Hag 2:08 PM  

I keep telling myself that I should just skip the Sunday crossword as it is really not my thing. Overall, I find them not very challenging. However, due to their size, they still take me a while and I usually finish with at least one error because of the increased probability that there will be some proper name that I don't know. :/

At least this one was less of a slog than last week. A couple of the puns were clever, but busy/Bizet, hidin'/Haydn and handle/Handel are so old they are practically decomposing. *snerk* But there were some decent clues and good words, most of which others have already mentioned, and a couple of lucky guesses kept me error free this week.

TheVeganButcher's tweet made me realize that perhaps I've soured on the Sunday puzzle because I usually do it the evening before and I've given up Saturday night drinking.

syndy 2:35 PM  

So much fun-took forever, and enjoyed every minute. Had national and party for long-time-no-see.lovely fill Naughty Marietta and schroedingers cat saying meow to let us know he's still alright

Masked and Anonymous 2:38 PM  

Overall, am just plain in awe of anyone who would have the patience to construct somethin' like this. I am not worthy, Kevin G. and Shortzmeister. ThUUUUUmbs up. (How's that for subtle, stat fans?)

Almost in awe of anyone who hangs in there long enough to solve the SunPuz correctly, like old 44. My hat's off to yah, Rex-o-saurus, et al. Me, I got all but a couple letters today before even the cinnamon roll aftertaste played out. Had some personal nat-tick nit-picks at YPRES/APOGEAL and SERRA/ARAN, and guessed poorly.

Engine lite almost came on at GRASPATSTRAUSS. Painful. Constructor friend Erul says: "need to BUILD A BETTER STRAUSSTRAP!" Har.

Unknown 2:44 PM  

@Anonymous regarding diners: LMAO! Touche! I do sometimes have a tendency to be overly genteel, but it's really not my style. Hope you break par. Go Giants!

@David L: Think of it this way. Haven't you ever approached a familiar stoplight that turned red a split second before you could safely get through it? Didn't you say, "Sonofabitch, JUSTONCE, can't I catch this thing ! " Betcha you have!

@Damn it folks: Exactly! It's a pun! Why do we go through these obsessive preoccupations with homophonics, pronunciations, etc? O.K. STRAWS and STRAUSS Seems a Serious Stretch? Alliteration anyone? Point is, that it's a crossword puzzle, and not a final exam on foreign language enunciation. Who cares if the emPHAsis is on the wrong sylLAble? Sometimes, we all get a little carried away by our own perceived erudition. Just Sayin?

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

Word of the day, elemi, is old-time crosswordese. Down refers to the feathers from ducks and geese. And who could forget Schrodinger's cat, featured in a Martha Grimes mystery.

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

Thank you Rex, for making me feel less bad about my struggle with this today. I thought it was the ulra-loud football pre-game show in the background here!


joho 3:47 PM  

Very busy day for me so I arrive late. I thought this puzzle to be a ton of fun of puns. I agree with everybody who agrees that we're not speaking in German here, but with an American accent. Close enough for crossword constructor work.

Thank you, Kevin Der!

Ulrich 4:05 PM  

Come on guys--people express here openly what they do or do not like about a puzzle--too much (for them) pop references, too much (for them) opera, too many (for them) names etc. So why can't I say the gap between the pronunciation of words I know and how they are used in puns make me, personally, groan? I didn't say it was a bad puzzle because of this--I just gave the reaction of someone who speaks with a German accent--what's the damn difference? There may be some people out there who are, in fact, interested in how something is pronounced, even if they didn't make it here today...

Damn it folks 4:23 PM  

@Ulrich, you wrote:

"So why can't I say the gap between the pronunciation of words I know and how they are used in puns make me, personally, "groan?"

You absolutely can, especially since the "proper" reaction to a pun is a "groan" :-)

You wrote further:

"I didn't say it was a bad puzzle because of this--"

AHA! That's the difference between your comment and the others!


CoffeeLvr 4:37 PM  

@Ulrich, one of the reasons I read this blog is to learn things I did not learn solving the puzzle. Today I learned how to more properly pronounce Strauss, reflecting his German heritage. Thank you.

I do agree that if I had known how to say anything but strows, I would have had way more trouble filling in the front half of 105A.

Evgeny 4:46 PM  

I can top @Ulrich, I even said I loved the puns! Pointing out imprecisions and not liking the puzzle are very different things. My point was, and I'm sure @Ulrich felt the same, that knowing the correct pronunciation made it much harder to come up with the correct answer. That's all.

This doesn't count as more than three comments since the first one was just doubled by accident :-D

Have a stressless workweek everyone.

PuzzleNut 5:51 PM  

Had a day full of my daughter's soccer and worked this puzzle while watching one of her practices. I'd like to think that was the reason I had so much trouble with this one.
I got the theme early on (HAYDNGOSEEK) and I knew all the composers, which helped, but I still had a lot of trouble in a lot of places. The NW and SW were my last fills, but amazingly, I got everything correct. Felt a little like a Saturday in that way.
@JenCT - I didn't write in ZITS, but that was my first thought.

Anonymous 5:52 PM  

Unlike Ulrich, I'm not a native speaker of German, so take all this cum grano salis.

[BTW, the name of the "ss" ligature "ß" is pronounced like "sz" -- "ess-tset," so you can read the rest of this easier.]

@Ulrich 12:00 PM said...
... Strauß rhymes with vows ...

No; it rhymes with "house" -- unvoiced s represented in German by "ß"; Straus would rhyme with "vows" (voiced s).

Which reminds me of an off-blog conversation with Ulrich about how to represent unvoiced s at the beginning of a word, where "ß" can't appear. IIRC his answer was to use "s" and the native speaker knows how to pronounce it (like many such ambiguities in English).

Lurkin' Larry (really down after Friday's Cal shellackin')

go bears

Steve J 6:09 PM  

@P>G>: The reason people keep having this discussion is because puns, by definition, exploit homophones and homographs (or, alternately, words with multiple meanings). If the homophone isn't there, it's technically not a pun.

More pertinently to crosswords, it makes the pun very hard to get if you know the correct pronunciation of a word (such as Strauss - at least with Bach, you're dealing with the fact that most English speakers pronounce it like they pronounce "bock"). Like others, I had STRAUSS sitting there for a long time, not able to grasp what pun you could possibly make out of it, because even in the way it's said in English, the diphthong is nowhere close to the one in "straws."

That said, the theme concept was such a good one (and I ordinarily hate puns, being a subscriber to the notion that they're the lowest form of humor) and so well-executed elsewhere (I loved NATIONALLISZTPARTY), I was quite willing to forgive the pronunciation variances.

Outside the theme, I had almost exactly the same problems Rex had: SHEDEVIL, ALERO, GAY, etc. I don't know if it was the puzzle itself or being rusty since this is my first puzzle after being out of the country for a couple weeks (Australia tends toward cryptics in their puzzles, which I don't like and therefore skipped), but this ended up being the toughest Sunday I've encountered in a while.

Glitch 6:29 PM  

@Rex wrote:

Maybe because they are real diners and not "50s Retro Diners ... Diners where I live are largely breakfast / lunch joints, w/ booth or counter seating and watery coffee.

Given the above, you appear to have no true diners in your area.

Unless you can consider the long established "diners" around here, dating from the 40's/50's, with their jukes and bad coffee, not to be real.


"Dam" it folks 7:47 PM  

... puns, by definition, exploit homophones and homographs ... If the homophone isn't there, it's technically not a pun." (@SteveJ)

Actually, "by definition":

•A pun, or paronomasia, is a form of word play that deliberately exploits an ambiguity between similar-sounding words for humorous or rhetorical effect. Such ambiguity may arise from the intentional misuse of homophonical, homographical, homonymic, polysemic, metonymic, or metaphorical language.

Note the conjunction used is "or", and the use of "similar-sounding".

Puns are Pfun, but they do take a freedom of thought that pedantics might fine difficult ... and I'm sure the author appreciates your forgiveness.

P>G> --- (Don't worry Rex, 3 and out of here)

jae 8:11 PM  

This was a tough, clever, and fun puzzle for me. Yes for ALERO and SHEDEVIL. I needed my bride's collaboration to finish this. She knew MAEVE, which I've seen before but had forgotten, and she helped with a couple of spellings. (Dyslexia is not a good thing when you are a crossword addict.) Nice Sun. Kevin Der!

dk 8:45 PM  


Kevin, thanks for this theme, it had me chuckling for quite some time.

*** (3 Stars)

mac 8:45 PM  

I know the German/Austrian pronunciation of Strauss very well, and still Americanize it almost daily......

@John and Rex: that's right! If you love diners, you need to go check out the New Jersey ones. There are more of them per cap. than in any other state, and they exported the steel ones on wheels. I remember coming to the US to get married/honeymoon many years ago, and going to my first couple of diners. The personal Juke Box gadget at the table was the most memorable aspect. Not the food.

Anonymous 8:45 PM  

@CHAOS1 -- Thz. Happy to make someone laugh these days. I struggle with golf like I struggle with these puzzles but enjoy both and enjoy lobbing verbal grenades whenever the opportunity arises.

@r.alphbunker -- Alas, the operator has gone the way of the full service gas pump and so it goes. Don't miss them as much as Howdy Doody, Kukla, Fran & Ollie and Foodini. Too bad Rex wasn't around then. He would have liked the jukes....

Steve J 8:53 PM  

@P>G>: I was working off the same definition as you. I guess it comes down to what people find similar-sounding. To me, "ow" and "aw" do not sound similar, which is why the Strauss pun is, to me, problematic.

But we're both getting pretty pedantic with this. As I said, it's a great theme even with a couple instances of words that can be legitimately quibbled over.

edith b 9:57 PM  

Struggling with these kinds of homophonic-type puzzles allow me to substitute alternate prounciations not necessarily my own.

My New York accent notwithstanding, I almost always arrive at the "correct" solution.

Mel 10:25 PM  

This diner thing is the stupidest "discussion" or, more accurately, display of one-upsmanship I've seen on this board. There is no rock solid definition of the word "diner" or what constitutes a diner. Some have jukeboxes, I guess. Some have a counter and stools. Some serve shitty coffee. They probably all serve eggs, unless it happens to be a day when the topic du jour is not earthy authenticity and is instead ultra-correctness, in which case you'll all be claiming never to have eaten anything except vegetables grown by peace-loving organic farmers who play Liszt for their cabbage.

michael 10:39 PM  

Liked the puzzle, thought it was easy, like diners, think they were better with jukeboxes. But they're still diners without them.

Anonymous 11:37 PM  

It's getting late and still we have no consensus on jukes, diners or homowhatevers v. puns. Let's call it a day. It is apparent that some nerves are frayed and need rest. Personally, I will go to sleep thinking about Lana Turner dancing with John Garfield to the diner's jukebox music in The Postman Alwaya Rings Twice....

Wog 1:08 AM  

My first post. My first Sunday puzzle finished on Sunday! And Rex rated it medium-challenging, it does not get any better than this. You all are probably asleep by now, but thanks for all your work and comments, I really enjoy the blog, even if I normally read it on Tuesday.

Unknown 9:38 PM  

Thought I had solved the entire puzzle, without too much difficulty. Then I saw that my letter in the very first square was wrong: c instead of j (cuke/cob vs. juke/job!). Still think the c works there. Other opinions?

Timjim 9:41 PM  

Two Naticks for me: SERRA//ARAN and MAEVE/APOGEAL. Other than that, much fun!

Stephen 8:19 PM  

The root of human is humor, correct etymology notwithstanding. I have had my conversational forte disparaged countless times by people repeating that mantra about puns, but every time it sounds like dogma. You go, Kevin Der!

I drag myself in here sheepishly on a Tuesday night to see why I missed a couple of clues, and tonight I see none of the dozens of commenters even bothered to to be bothered by this:
Why is a Laguna composition AGUA?
Someone at least mentioned his issue with JUST ONCE, but no one exegisized. "Even if it'll never happen again..."?

Lotsa clever cluing here. Thanks for the mind stretching!

Fidel Nixo 9:43 PM  

@Stephen - "Laguna" is Spanish for Laogoon; Agua is Spanish for water.

Stephen 9:58 AM  

Gracias Fidel Nixo. I actually knew enough Spanish to grok the words, but now that you make me look at it I see what my brain broke on... in a puzzle rife with musical references, I was stuck on one interpretation of "composition" and not able to see the other. Wow, this guy Der is good.

Ann 2:20 AM  

I get my puzzle a week and a half after you all, but posting anyway.

Enjoyed this one...had to think outside the Bachs for sure.

We have Waffle House restaurant/diners here in the south, and they all have jukes.

Just sayin...

BobbyF 8:47 PM  

This past Sunday's puzzle was definitely a challenge, in large part because I am not very adept at distinguishing one composer from another, either by name or composition. The fact that I was able to virtually complete the puzzle, having deciphered all the tricky composer-stuff, while failing only on 'serr(o)' and '(i)rwins', suggests that the periphery of the brain is capable of a stretch not fully understood nor appreciated.
Or, perhaps, maybe because my father was an avid classical music devotee really did have a resounding impact on me, at least in respect to the names, if not the music itself. All said and done it is shocking to me that a gamey name like "Mozart" never got into the act.

Dirigonzo 10:34 PM  

One week behind the crowd and I *almost* finished this puzzle, but I did get all of the theme answers and I enjoyed all of the puns. Not once did the term homophone or homograph come to mind - does that mean I'm "homophobic"?

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