City founded by Shiva / SAT 10-16-10 / Kahn of Broadway / Viola da old stringed instrument / ___ Meets Godzilla classic 1969 cartoon

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: VARANASI (17A: City founded by Shiva, according to legend) —

Varanasi (Sanskrit: वाराणसी Vārāṇasī, Hindustani pronunciation: [ʋaːˈɾaːɳəsiː], also commonly known as Benares or Banaras (Hindi: बनारस, Urdu: بنارس, Banāras [bəˈnɑːɾəs] ) and Kashi (Hindi: काशी, Urdu: کاشی, Kāśī [ˈkaːʃiː]), is a city situated on the banks of the River Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is regarded as a holy city by Buddhists and Jains, and is the holiest place in the world in Hinduism (and center of earth in Hindu Cosmology). It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and probably the oldest of India. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow, reading that information about VARANASI, I've suddenly become very embarrassed about Never Having Heard Of It Before. Needed every single cross, which made that NW corner one of two really thorny parts in today's puzzle. I had UTA ("Meryl's "Prime" co-star is UTA Hagen???") and ON THE TOP up there, but then eventually PASSIONFRUIT became undeniable (7D: It's also known as a maypop), and so ... ON THE TAP? No. ON THE ... CAP? No. Oh, ON THE MAP (14A: In a position of prominence). I *guess* that's a position of "prominence." Seems more like a position of general visibility, about equal to Every Other Place ON THE MAP, but idiomatically, perhaps it makes sense. Loved that NW corner otherwise. Good ole SEND and AMEND got me started, and most of the rest of it fell into place pretty easily—but the VARANASI crisis meant no easy turning the corner into the rest of the puzzle. The other rough spot: the SW, where all four of the "-MB-" words were unknown to me as clued (and GAMBA was just flat-out unknown—48A: Viola da ___ (old stringed instrument)). Worked my way into that corner with TWIN BILL (53A: It's more than just a game) and SATIATE (55A: Fill up), but didn't know "NOVEMBER" (50A: William Cullen Bryant poem that begins "Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!"). Eked out that corner by guessing the somewhat awkward UNBELT (40D: Being disrobing, possibly), and then guessing BANE (44A: Unhappy influence), which allowed me to guess BAMBI (44D: "___ Meets Godzilla" (classic 1969 cartoon)). Finally, vaguely remembered GUS (39A: Kahn of Broadway), which is the only way I got the "S" in SEARLE, whom I've never heard of (41D: English illustrator who created the "St. Trinian's" cartoon series). Is he famous? N.C. WYETH famous??

After starting in the NW but failing to get out unscathed, I rebooted at 23D: VOIR dire and BOORS (26A: Insufferable guests) and SEINES (I remembered it, for once! 29A: Fish catchers) and STAT (29D: "At once!"), and then eased down smoothly into the SW (by far the easiest corner). Cut back up through the middle, where I finally got enough letters to infer the name PIERRE L'ENFANT (rings a bell only faintly) (15D: Architect interred in Arlington National Cemetery), and to figure out PUSSY WILLOWS (21D: Russian Orthodox substitutes for palm branches on Palm Sunday). Guessed NESTS up top (8D: Forest homes), which allowed me finally to see SEPTUPLET (20A: One in a crowded delivery room). Once that was in place, the NE was a breeze, despite my not knowing what TAILFANS were (fins yes, fans no) (11D: Crayfish features), and never having heard of a PONCE (30A: Puerto Rican seaport) that wasn't attached to a DE LEON.

Overall, an exemplary Saturday puzzle. Harrowing at times, but ultimately doable, and full of wide variety of interesting words and names. Good stuff.

[La ROUX22A: Soup thickener]

  • 16A: Hydrocarbon with two carbons (ETHANE) — off the initial "E," for the win! (I suck at science clues, so that was big for me)
  • 27A: Mobile home dweller (SNAIL) — I think my opinion is that this clue needs a "?" Is a shell really a "home" in the way, say, NESTS are?
  • 31A: Expressions of affection made with the eyes (BUTTERFLY KISSES) — brace yourself for some mid-90s treacle:

  • 42A: 1940s musical innovation (BOP) — not a lot else that could be, especially once I got the "P" in there from TWOPENCE (3D: British coin introduced in 1971)
  • 1D: Literary adulteress's surname (BOVARY) — PRYNNE fits.
  • 3D: Father of Agamemnon (ATREUS) — Agamemnon and Menelaus are often referred to in the Iliad as the ATREIDES (sons of ATREUS). I wonder if the ATREUS / VARANASI crossing Naticked anyone?
  • 12D: Creator of the Mayfair Witches (ANNE RICE) — I'd have guessed Shakespeare or Updike before ANNE RICE. Luckily, I had the ANNE in place before I ever saw the clue.
  • 31D: Island nation with a trident on its flag (BARBADOS) — know nothing about its flag, but crosses made this easy.
  • 47D: 1962 title film character played by Joseph Wiseman (DR. NO) — apparently there's some kind of context on to see who can come up with the most off-the-beaten-path ways to clue DR. NO (see also Thursday's puzzle).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Evan 12:43 AM  

The ATREUS/VARANASI pair was pretty brutal for me. Kept trying to talk myself into believing the R was an H. ATHEUS? The Greek god of atheists, perhaps? Man, that would be ironic if it were true.

PRYNNE was also my first guess on 1-Down, but I couldn't think of a synonym for "licks" that goes P---TSUP. POINTSUP? You know, with your tongue, to lick stuff....???

And fear not, Rex, I still read your blog, even with the NYT deciding to unlock their puzzles immediately.

The Bard 12:47 AM  

Julius Caesar > Act III, scene I

CASCA: Speak, hands for me!
[CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and BRUTUS stab CAESAR]
CAESAR: Et tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar. [Dies]
CINNA: Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead! Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets.

Bop, Bovary and beer 1:52 AM  

This is a great puzzle.

ATREUS and CAIN – No brotherly love here.

I fell into the UTA / ON THE TOP trap.
4a."I appreciate it," THANX
I assume texters use THX. BTW why's the comma in the clue?

"Jeff in Venice, Death in VARANASI" is a good Geoff Dyer novel. He also wrote two great ones, "But Beautiful" and "Out of Sheer Rage".

andrea twopence michaels 6:26 AM  

There seemed to be a sort of theme in the a compound phrase starting with P:
I mean, I don't know how folks create themeless (or why!) but I wonder if Patrick Berry, a bit of a two word phrase that also starts with P himself, unconsciously started out that way...

I was on a roll once I realized that a plant product (Hey, two words, starts with P!) was NECTAR not a NEwcAR!

And what would be the term for writing in BORES instead of BOORS?
Is the phrase "unsufferable boor"?
I think not!

Ashamed to say I didn't know VARANASI either, but the whole puzzle felt like that...I got it all, and even sort of quickly...but didn't KNOW know anything (NOVEMBER, GAMBA, PIERRELENFANT, etc.) It was TRULY a CROSSword puzzle for me.

QUITE a contrast to the fabulous Scrabblosity of yesterday's Peter Wentz Puzzle...This had but one X and a couple of Vs and that was it!
(Just my TWOPENCE worth)

dk 7:58 AM  

With @Evan on Prynne and others on VARANASI. Then I hauled off and misspelled BOVARY

Always found BUTTERFLYKISSES lame, but thats just me.

After a week in the gym I have modified the Dave Clark Five tune to "Sore All Over." No fool like an old fool... as "they" say.

*** (3 Stars) Nice and tough Saturday.

THANX Patrick

The Hag 8:11 AM  

I thought this one was a thing of beauty.

The House of Atreus has stayed with me because of the horrific act that caused it to be cursed. They had it coming - trust me. Agamemnon's wife Clytemnestra is also a literary adulteress. (Was she Mrs. Atreus? Did ancient Greeks have last names?)

@andrea whatsername michaels. (and Rex) Like you guys, there was plenty that I didn't KNOW know, but got anyway. For me, that's the sign of a great puzzle. You figure things out and learn something new in the process without needing to rely on google.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

Never felt like I needed to comment before. Couldn't finish. Bottom right was atrocious. Obscure proper names crossing = garbage. First puzzle of 2010 I was unable to finish.

glimmerglass 8:34 AM  

@The Hag: Well said: "You figure things out and learn something new in the process without needing to rely on google." Good, hard but doable in time, Saturday puzzle.

Leslie 8:39 AM  

I had heard of a viola da GAMBA before, and for some reason it had stuck with me; also, "BAMBI Meets Godzilla" is an unforgettable artifact from my youth.

How delightful that PUSSY WILLOWS are used in Russian Orthodox Palm Sunday services!

I really liked the mix of hard and easy in this one. Giveaways like NESTS and STAINS encourage me to keep digging until I get the VARANASI-type answers. BTW, I too am embarrassed at not knowing about that city.

foodie 9:02 AM  

ETHANE opened up the NE for me, otherwise it went pretty much a la Rex. As I was grasping at straws in the NW I considered ANNASASI which is completely the wrong spelling for Anasazi, not to mention on the wrong continent (if you have not visited Anasazi you're missing something. That whole area is breathtaking). Anyhow, I wonder if VANASASI is a Europeanised spelling of Benares? In the WOD the Urdu writing definitely spells Benares and no V is in sight.

I agree it's an excellent Saturday!

@andrea, I too had BORES for the same, insufferable, reason.

Vega 9:04 AM  

Started with Prynne, too. Like acme, I don't quite "get" themeless crosswords, but agree that this one was just right. I like UNBELT a lot; it's just so accurate.

Well, I am gratified how being Indian and/or Hindu has been such an asset lately. Varanasi=big fat gimme. I'm not gloating; it's more like the look on Djokovic's face after the point when he won against Federer in the US Open semifinals. Pretty much, "I'll be damned."

Mercy, that '90s video is nauseating.

Howard B 9:35 AM  

Bambi meets Godzilla! What a reference today. Forgot about that little gem. I had read about Varanasi somewhere, not enough to remember the background and history (fascinating), but just enough to maneuver through the crossings. The lower-right, with those names and GAMBA, was a nasty spot.

And believe it or not, that @%^# BUTTERFLY KISSES in the middle, which I only knew as that song; I had *no idea* that it was an actual phrase for something.
Wow, found a linguistic Grand Canyon of ignorance right there to drive through.
I'm sitting there with BUTTER... entered, and eventually had to let the rest of the puzzle fill it in. Good stuff.

Rhetorical Question of the Day 9:44 AM  

RP's "I wonder if the ATREUS / VARANASI crossing Naticked anyone?"


Nancy in PA 9:45 AM  

Hand up for "Prynne" and "bores"...knew viola da GAMBA but thought it unlikely that GAMBA and GAMBIA would cross...TWINBILL gave me fits. And OSCINE is the word I learn over and over and never remember when it's called for. Very enjoyable Saturday!

H. Prynne 10:01 AM  

Oh, what? Why did everyone just assume it was me? Just because I didn't off myself in a melodramatic way like Emma or Anna doesn't mean I'm the most wanton woman in literature. What about Connie Chatterley? Talk about a floozie!

nanpilla 10:02 AM  

The R in VARASASI/ATREUS was my last letter in. Tried UNpanT before UNBELT, then TWINBILL took care of that. Figured ETH_NE could have an A or E, (or even a Y, if you didn't want to call it acetylene) so left that blank for the cross. Same with SE_TUPLETS, could be X or P. Hand up for BOreS before BOORS. Otherwise a surprisingly easy Saturday - took me much less time than yesterday's.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:03 AM  

Agree with Medium. A good Saturday puzz that looked quite hard at the start but actually went down well, at a half hour for me.

My one letter write-over, as noted by Rex et al., at UTA/UMA.

Had to smile at (as noted by Nancy in PA) the crossing of GAMBA and GAMBIA (seems to me the natives would like us to call their country "The Gambia.")

But anyone, why are STENOS, 54 A, specifically "Monologue writers"?

JayWalker 10:04 AM  

I almost broke my arm patting myself on the back for finishing today's puzzle and feeling REALLY GOOD about it. I'll admit I did have a frisson of doubt about what "cail fans" were on a crayfish, but I squashed my hesitation and declared a victory for my side. And . . . "whap" made sense to me about "get[ting] rough." Oh the shame! I'm originally from Detroit, so "plant" - "new car" -- made sense to me.

mmorgan 10:07 AM  

Impressive... and harrowing indeed.

After a very blank start, I started slo-o-o-o-wly making really good progress and was finding things I didn't know just filling themselves in (NOVEMBER, BUTTERFLYKISSES, PASSIONFRUIT).

Was held up for a while having DOCILE for 52A (OSCINE -- never heard of the word) and DALI for 47D (DRNO).

And I struggled with Prynne for a long while for 1D, giving up and not seeing how to complete BO_AR_ -- oops! But I didn't know the first letter to VARANASI (had NEWDELHI first but didn't like it) and I couldn't figure out why 25A (info on wine bottles) could be the plural YRS, since a bottle just has one year on it! (Now I get it.)

But my real DNF problem was the NE, which just refused to fall en masse. Tried OUTPUT and OXYGEN for 8A(Plant production), didn't know the Mayfair Witches, etc. Total failure there, but I was pleased and surprised to get everything else in the puzzle except for the V and Y in BOVARY.

Very enjoyable workout, in any case!

(Hey @ACME -- isn't it "insufferable"? ;-)

Lindsay 10:07 AM  

Yes! Yes! Naticked at Varanasi/Atreus! I went with "h". Like yesterday, my first answer into the grid was wrong. 50A Invictus, crossed with 51D via. Apparently I think I remember more from college than I actually do.

Otherwise no problems, though I came frighteningly close to filling in "twi-night" for "twin bill." Slammed on the brakes in time.

OldCarFudd 10:15 AM  

My experience today was almost exactly like Rex's. Hand up for bores before boors; that was my only writeover. Not that I knew a lot of this stuff but, like The Hag, I could deduce it (deduce being a short word for Scientific Wild-Assed Guess). Glad to learn about Varanasi. Great puzzle!

ArtLvr 10:34 AM  

Fabulous Saturday puzzle! VARANASI was a huge surprise, as antique dealers know items of Benares Brass from that pilgrimage area. (Wiki mentions other alternatives I hope we never see in the crossword: "Varanasi, Varenisi or Kaasi".) I saw BOVARY and ROUX right away as my key to the NW, so that corner fell fairly easily anyway...

I agreed with @Andrea about Patrick's "P" words -- much fun with PONCE, PUSSYWILLOWS and PASSIONFRUIT given clues new to me too.

My favorite answer was PIERRE L'ENFANT, since a cousin visiting New York City with me long ago had trouble getting his tongue around L'Enfant Plaza. He kept calling it ELephant Plaza! I was so bemused that we drove around it several times at a SNAIL's pace just to hear him say it.


edith b 10:41 AM  

I found this one on the easy side to such an extent that I assumed I was missing something. I guess I was just on Mr Berry's wavelength for the entire puzzle as every guess I made turned out to be correct.

Because I generally think Patrick Berry's puzzles are thorny my feeling was just eerie but I enjoyed the solve.

mitchs 10:41 AM  

Another hand up for atHeus and for this "exemplary" Saturday puzzle.

JC66 10:43 AM  

Tough but enjoyable; a perfect Saturday puzzle.

Hand up for the VARANASI/ATREUS Natick.

FWIW, First Google listing when one enters insufferable BOOR:

"Did you mean: insufferable bore"

fikink 10:46 AM  

Ditto @The Hag. This was an intelligent puzzle that was ultimately gettable and taught me a thing or two to boot. I really enjoyed messing around in the kitchen this morning while thinking about your puzzle, @Patrick.

I was particularly taken with PUSSY WILLOWS and the appearance of my heart, GUS.

@dk, BUTTERFLY KISSES remind me of people who go around saying, "They lell in fove..." erp!!!

@H. Prynne, you go, Girl!!!

@Bob Kerfuffle, I assume because they take dictation from insufferable BOORS.

David L 10:49 AM  

Looked as if it was going to be tough, on a first scan through the clues, but then it began to fall and ended up on the easy side of medium for me. Knew Varanasi from the Geoff Dyer novel, but had SCARFE (Gerald, sometime NYorker illustrator) instead of SEARLE at first.

Hadn't heard of BUTTERFLYKISSES -- neither the song nor the phrase. What are they, exactly? Do I want some?

PuzzleNut 10:58 AM  

Big DNF for me. Most of it came together like a good Saturday, but the NW KILLED me. A really dumb mistake started the problem (HESTOR for BOVARY - which is the surname again?), which confirmed OKRA for the soup thickener. Once I wouldn't let those anchors go, I was sunk. Even with SEND, UMA, PASSIONFRUIT and PIERRE filled in correctly, I couldn't get past my bad start.
Two other areas worth noting. Misread the Mobile home dweller (didn't see the word "dweller"), so I slapped in TEPEE and EDGE, which took some time to write over. Had a tough time figuring what a SNIIL was but decided TAILFANS must be OK.
My other write-overs were RanTS for RIOTS and TWOPENny for TWOPENCE. At least those didn't last long.
Looking back, BOVARY would have really made the NW a lot easier, but I'm not sure the VARANASI ATREUS cross wouldn't have still stopped me.

joho 11:02 AM  

This was harder for me than what I'm reading here. And in the end I looked up VA in the dictionary to get the "R" because I had no clue about VARANASI ...or ATREUS. A true Natick.

I was happy to get everything else, though, so not at all unpleased with Mr. Berry's puzzle.


Peter 11:10 AM  

I found this an exceptionally easy Saturday puzzle, probably because (a) I've been to Varanasi, and (b) had heard about the Russian Orthodox Pussy Willow tradition only last week. Once I got those two, it was off to the races. Only real shot in the dark was the SEARLE / GAMBA crossing.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

I've been sufficiently disappointed in the quality of the puzzles lately that I've been considering not renewing my subscription (due in the near future). I've posted a few times generally expressing frustration with the puzzles.

But this one was good, so I should post for this one, too.

Mel Ott 11:54 AM  

Doesn't 36A violate some xword rule by having the prefix "re-" in both the clue and the answer?

Otherwise, a delightful Saturday puzzle, except for the VARANASI/ATREUS natick. Guessed right.

Someday I have to learn to distinguish my UTA actresses from my UMA actresses. That slowed me downfor a while. I knew that PIERRE L'ENFANT designed/laid out the nation's capital. So I got him from the initial P.

And I loved those three long P answers right down the middle of the grid. And crossing BUTTERFLY KISSES! I could only take 1 minute of the video, however.

I agree with @The Hag et al. that I really like a puzzle that has a lot of stuff that's new to me but still gettable from the crosses, so I learn some things I didn't know before.

JaxInL.A. 12:15 PM  

This puzzle amounted to an unending series of missteps for me.  Felt confident of nothing in the NE except Prynne, which kept me from getting ROUX and AMEND.  Trinidad fits nicely where BARBADOS should go, and had tenPENCE for that new British coin.    

My biggest mistake, and the thing I could not overcome without multiple visits to Dr. Google, was having B_TT_____S_ES and feeling all happy about getting BaTTinglaShES which now occupied the entire middle of my mess of a puzzle. Had initially guessed remEMBER for the name of the poem, then forgot to take out the other wrong letters when I got LENFANT. So even though I knew all of the elegantly crossed GAMBA, BAMBI and GAMBIA, I still made a dogs breakfast of the SE.

I did get UMA right away. I don't think Prime got much play but it is worth seeing once. Meryl is 30-something Uma's long-time therapist when Uma falls for a new guy who, unbeknownst to Uma, turns out to be Meryl's barely 20-something son. Gyrations and machinations ensue about the appropriateness of the therapist continuing counseling without disclosing that it's her kid, the age and faith differences between the lovers, etc. Salvaged from being sappy by having a complex but interesting ending, and watching Meryl as a NY Jewish mother.

I'm grateful to @PuzzleNut for telling a tale of also getting stuck with some bad guesses. So, I learned a lot and had a good time in the end, once I gave up and resorted to Google, and got over being an idiot. 

fikink 12:55 PM  

@JaxinLA, thank you for reminding me that I saw that movie. I just entered UMA because I thot the two of them had to have starred in something together. (I first entered TOM, thinking Tom Cruise.)

I agree with you, it is fascinating to watch Meryl morph into such diverse characters, from Sophie to a Jewish Mama.

Henry Shapiro 1:56 PM  

You really should be embarassed about Varanasi -- it was the first clue I got. Would take too much space to relate the legend here, but Shiva saves the world by having the Ganges flow through his hair, making it flow more gently. Check out Shiva Nataraja -- the goddess Ganga is in his hair.

D_Blackwell 2:11 PM  

I just typed 'anagram' in Google and was prompted "Did you mean: nag a ram"? Ha. It took me a minute to get it. Probably lots of you have seen it, but it is new to me.

Sparky 3:01 PM  

I got BOVARY because of ROUX and guessed UMA. Tripped on ATtEUS and VAtANASI. I'm trying to give up looking up myth figures in my Edith Hamilton. Had RESTorES so missed FRY and SNAIL. What's a sniil sez I? But I was close though no cigar. Yesterday total loss; Thursday, my comment was erased through my own clumsiness. There's always tomorrow. Sunday mag section sitting on my coffee table right now and I'm sorely tempted. Have a good weekend.

Ben 3:13 PM  

18 grueling minutes of fun.

Quite tough, as a Saturday should be, and excellent to boot (ditto).

Patrick Berry is the man!

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

Huge groan for "thanx" being anything texters would use if they shorten the thought. Maybe e-mail to friends, not texting,

Inarush 3:45 PM  

@Anon 3:38p

Much like Jul. for July ---


Unknown 3:45 PM  

@Rex Parker: If you'd never before heard of Varanasi, I'd highly recommend the "twin" novel "Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi" by Geoff Dyer. I'd never heard of it before I'd read that novel, and now I can never forget it. Some stunning and indelible descriptions of that city.

Detective 4:09 PM  

This puzzle has a secret theme:


TAILFANS know what I'm talking about.

mac 4:50 PM  

Tough but very good puzzle. I call a Natick on Varanasi/Atreus, too...

Never heard of butterfly kisses and now I'm afraid to listen to that clip.

Needed crosses for quite a few answers, but odd things like roses and pussywillows came no and just one letter in place.

jae 5:00 PM  

First DNF for me in a while. I too blew ATREUS/VARANASI crossing and completely crashed in SW. Didn't know the BAMBI reference or GAMBA and spelled LENFANT wrong, so I was doomed. On the plus side NE and SW were pretty easy. Nice tough Sat.!

andrea prime michaels 5:10 PM  

yes, I meant INsufferable, just a typo, but that obviously was a huge meant-to-mess-with-us...
and @the hag articulated much better what I was trying to say about learning a ton without actually knowing any of it, but not enough to have it stump me. Yay, Patrick Berry!

AM loving the comments today, from @H.Prynne chiming in (ha!) to that guy @David L asking if he wants the @detective's interesting "narrative"!!!

@fikink, @JaxinLA
Meryl was Jewish in that movie? a for sure reason to skip...the ONLY time I've ever seen her be totally not believable was trying to pull off being Jewish in the quintessential Jewish woman role in "Heartburn".
She and Jack Nicholson were the two least Jewish people alive and it was bizarre, given she can do ANY accent, nationality, whatever, but not that. And i've never been able to figure out why, exactly.
On the other hand, if it's about therapy and cougars in the making, maybe I SHOULD check it out!

michael 5:22 PM  

Nice puzzle. Like many others, I got everything except for atreus varanasi. I have heard of Benares, but that's no consolation.

JaxInL.A. 5:31 PM  

@Andrea, Meryl is pretty good in this particular Jewish mother incarnation, but there's no real accent other than an educated New Yorker. I never saw Heartburn. I don't need to see Prime again, but I did like it enough to say it's worth a try. The characters are much more complex than the usual rom-com, and the choices they make are more interesting.

@Hester, you made my day. I'll do my best to keep your fellow fallen women (why fellow, not sister, usually?) in mind for the future so I don't get so badly stuck next time. Might help if I read Mme B. Got all the others but missed her somehow.

Rube 5:34 PM  

Was saved in the NW by not knowing how to spell Prynne - (Thought Prinn) - so waited for BOVARY to reveal. Had ENtice before ENtrap before ENAMOR. Wanted ATRiUS at first. Realized later that this was confusing Leto Atreides and his house of Dune fame with the Greeks. (As probably was Herbert's intention.)

Tx or Thx, yes. THANX, definitely not.

Never heard of VARANASI, but apparently this city is as important among the world's religions as Jerusalem or Mecca. Worth remembering. But then again, I had heard of Benares.

Wife gives BUTTERFLYKISSES to little kids. Blecch.

Know PASSIONFRUIT as Lilliquoi in Hawaii. This Maypop thing is apparently in the South.

Any Saturday puzzle I can do without Googles is a marvelous puzzle.

Sam S Ara 5:36 PM  

comic lovers –
anyone here read/enjoy LOGICOMICS?
In it, a performance of The Oresteia follows a discussion of the curse on the House of ATREUS.

Shout out to Indian Studies Professor Diana Eck:
BANARAS, City of Light (1982)
Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to BANARAS (1993)

JaxInL.A. 5:53 PM  

Oh, and @andrea, your quasi theme here of compound 2-word phrases beginning with P is explicitly the theme in today's Houston Chronicle/Wash Post puzzle. Coincidence? (cue mysterious music)

mmorgan 6:01 PM  

@andrea -- shucks, I assumed *you* were @H.Prynne.

As for @detective... ouch!! ;-)

Glitch 6:40 PM  

@andrea & @mmorgan

Actually, according to WordNet at least, "in/un-sufferable" are interchangable in today's context:

•S: (adj) impossible, insufferable, unacceptable, unsufferable (used of persons or their behavior) "impossible behavior";


Boor:(n) peasant, barbarian, churl, Goth, tyke, tike (a crude uncouth ill-bred person lacking culture or refinement)

Bore: (n) dullard (a person who evokes boredom)

are not ;)


sanfranman59 6:42 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 6:01, 6:56, 0.87, 7%, Easy
Tue 11:25, 8:57, 1.28, 97%, Challenging
Wed 12:25, 11:38, 1.07, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 17:18, 19:04, 0.91, 40%, Medium
Fri 29:50, 26:18, 1.13, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 24:53, 30:34, 0.81, 11%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:25, 3:42, 0.92, 19%, Easy
Tue 5:34, 4:37, 1.21, 96%, Challenging
Wed 6:10, 5:44, 1.08, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 8:44, 9:09, 0.95, 50%, Medium
Fri 15:17, 12:49, 1.19, 86%, Challenging
Sat 14:31, 17:29, 0.83, 16%, Easy

andrea boar michaels 7:05 PM  

Interesting! So not a complete typo after all! I know BORE and BOOR are not interchangeable (other than not wanting either as guests)...I just meant that by purposely putting "insufferable" in the clue when that always triggers BORE was a pretty big implanted mislead on the constructor/editor's part. Bec you never say "Insufferable boor"...
Now for our South African friends, Unsufferable Boer is probably a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

insufferable bore at this point 7:08 PM  

Not to mention at THE OPERA, insufferable booers...and @chefwen can probably attest to unsufferable boars at the luau.

edith b 7:24 PM  


Didn't Meryl Streep "play Jewish" very well in Sophies Choice even though she was described as a Polish-Catholic camp survivor?

Perhaps I missed the point but her role in that movie was heartbreaking and utterly believable.

mmorgan 7:48 PM  

@Glitch (yo @andrea):

Not that this tells us much, but in terms of usage stored on-line, each of these variations produces the following number of Google hits:

"insufferable bore" - 5650

"insufferable boor" - 2370

"unsufferable bore" - 300

"unsufferable boor" - 26

"Unsufferable" may be an acceptable synonym, but it clearly garners far less usage.

Of course, this is like the battle between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams over "unalienable" vs. "inalienable" rights in the Declaration of Independence. Adams favored the former and Jefferson the latter. There's a great scene in the musical '1776' in which (if memory serves) Jefferson prevails but Adams mutters "I'll speak to the printer about it later."

Anonymous 8:08 PM  

@ edith b - not surprised u missed the point. Meryl is the finest actress in the past 30 some years and ranks with the greatest in all filmdom. She was Polish not Jewish or Catholic in her dialect in SC. Now that we have UMA tomorrow we will probably get OPRAH (thx to David Letterman)....

K. Kamehameha 8:30 PM  

Boars at luaus are delicious!

Anonymous 8:39 PM  

How can we forget Niels BOHR?

mmorgan 8:46 PM  

Not to mention the Boers.

Alhough they are actually pronounced BOOers, they take up a lot a space (in all kinds of ways)in South Africa.

Alice in SF 9:30 PM  

Whee--I'm two up on Rex because of Varanasi (been there and saw the funeral pyres on the banks of the Ganges, a tad unsettling for Westerners) and the viola da gamba (a dear friend plays it and performed for one of the celebrations of our 200 years of existence. He looked mighty funny in his white wig and 18th century clothes as he's Chinese. He loves to show off the photo with his costume.) but, of course, Rex is 10,000 up in me at the least.

Alice in SF 9:31 PM  

That's on me, not in me. Sorry for the typo.

apparently 11:13 PM  

your mind was poisoned by the @Detective!

mac 11:37 PM  

@mmorgan: that is "boeren", not boers.

Brian 1:00 AM  

Me again.
So, many comments reference googling. Why bother resorting to goog when you got Rex? Is it not cheating in either case? And if you come to Rex for the cameraderierre, what's the problem if he posts it at the end of the day?

NotalwaysrightBill 5:17 PM  

Syndicated paper puzzler.

Favorite puzzle in a month of Sundays, my idea of what a xword should be: from what I already know plus a little application, I get to discover new words and ideas in an entertaining way.



And VOIR "dire".

And a slew of proper names I'll forget within the hour but, what the heck, run 'em at me a hundred MORE times and see what happens.

Thought that a ROUX was more of a sauce in its own right than a thickener. Have a widened concept of it now, THANX (I keep waiting for MASA to show up as an answer to that clue).

Comments gettin' frisky, snickerin' away over here. Never misunderestimate where BUTTERFLYKISSES might take ya.

Randy Chong 6:23 PM  

@ rube It's actually lilikoi for passionfruit in Hawaii (not lilliquoi)

Unknown 4:39 AM  

Determined to fill in a Sat. grid without Googling. As a result I had one wrong square: guessed H instead of R on that nasty NW cross. Started with DRNO and CAIN in the SW which yielded ANECDOTAL and was off to the races. And I turned "scarlet" when I found I'd entered the wrong "letters" for 1d. Favorite clues: "Case load?" for BEERS and "Monologue writers?" for STENOS. Lotsa fun.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP