Dom Pedro's ill-fated wife / FRI 1-7-11 / Indus outlet / Overseas fabric spun from flax / Ice cream eponym / Subject 2002 Senate authorization

Friday, January 7, 2011

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: CENTAVO (56A: Bit of change in Cuba) —

Centavo is a Spanish and Portuguese word, derived from the Latin centum, meaning "one hundred", and the suffix -avo, meaning "portion" or "fraction". Centavo means, strictly, "one-hundredth". // It is a fractional monetary unit, used to represent one hundredth of a basic monetary unit in many countries around the world [...]. (wikipedia)

• • •

The grid is solid, with impressive wide-open spaces in the NW and SE. But there's nothing remarkable, nothing memorable—at least not in the way of fill. Here's what I don't get: why would anyone bother making a themeless At All if the grid didn't *start* with at least a couple killer, original entries. Feels like the grid *shape* was driving this one more than anything (it does look cool). Some of these entries are probably original, but none of them *feels* original, current, interesting. They're fine words and phrases all around, and there's nothing particularly unattractive about this grid. But there's not much to love, either, and precious little to comment on ... which I guess makes my job easy tonight. Perhaps I should be grateful.

I was slowish on this one because of a bad start in the NW. Got ISERE (5D: French department or a river that runs through it) and EDY (7D: Ice cream eponym) and then CREASED (15A: Iron-deficient?), but went nowhere after that. Lots of tentative entries, all of them retracted. Got going for real near the grid's center, where the wrong answer, CAP, seemed right after I got RASTA. DEBI (20A: Actress Mazar of HBO's "Entourage") was a gimme (though not from "Entourage," which I've never seen), and she got me SILENT ... something, but I couldn't tell which "part" of "carriage" was supposed to be SILENT. The "I" or the "A?" Or the "E?" Thankfully, the cross told me the answer instantly—I just (finally) ordered my books for Spring semester today, and at the top of the list was "INFERNO" (33A: Source of the line "Midway upon the road of our life I found myself within a dark wood..."). Very famous opening lines. Anyway, SLAP ON (instead of SLAM ON36A: Apply with force) really killed my chances of seeing ARMORED CAR for a while (28D: Robber's target), but other than that, SE was comparatively easy.

Had a rough go of it in the SW, where 38D: Spade mashie (SIX IRON) was gibberish to me ... only "mashie" rattled some golf/crossword memory in my head. "Spade," however, is a detective to me, so I had no idea what was going on, and though I wanted KLAXON at 45A: Loud horn, I had no idea how that "X" could factor into the "mashie" clue so I wavered there. Very proud of plonking down CENTIVO (56A: Bit of change in Cuba)! OK , so it's CENTAVO—that's still some pretty good (if wrong) guessing. DUET was the real problem down there in the far SW (49D: Puccini's "O Mimi, tu più non torni" e.g.). I wanted ARIA (of course), and then had AVA as the [Palindromic girl] (ADA). Once I accepted that STOUTEN was a word (58A: Bulk up), I figured everything else out. The "K" in KLAXON was enough to get me TAKEN TO TASK (4D: Censured), and from there the NW was not nearly as tough as it initially seemed. SECTION ONE seems weak and arbitrary (3D: Prime seating area at sporting events, maybe), but I really like RICKETY (17A: Unstable). The "W" in SCREWS (1D: Pressure, metaphorically) / WHINE (22A: Complaint) was the last letter that went into the grid.

  • 16A: Subject of 2002 Senate authorization (IRAQ WAR) — might have been a lot harder if HQS hadn't been so easy (11D: Command ctrs.).
  • 40A: Dom Pedro's ill-fated wife (INÉS) — I got this by remembering Don Juan's mother, who is INÉZ (which is also my grandmother's name). No idea who Dom Pedro is. . . 14th-century Portuguese prince. His dad had INÉS killed because he didn't like her influence on Pedro. Does not appear that INÉS was actually his wife at the time of her murder (though Pedro claimed they were secretly married). According to wikipedia, "Legend has it that [Pedro] had Inês's body exhumed from her grave and forced the entire court to swear allegiance to their new queen by kissing the corpse's hand. She was later buried at the Monastery of Alcobaça where her coffin can still be seen, opposite Peter's so that, according to the legend, at the Last Judgment Peter and Inês can look at each other as they rise from their graves." Morbid.
  • 2D: Overseas fabric spun from flax (IRISH LINEN) — just pieced this together from crosses. --N-N gave me the "fabric" and IRI-- gave me the "overseas" part.
  • 9D: Indus outlet (ARABIAN SEA) — like the "in"/"out" opposition in the clue.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


nanpilla 12:17 AM  

This one seemed really hard, but somehow finished in 30 minutes, which is a medium time for me.

Wanted cavalry for saber rattlers. Thought I was being so clever with the non-s plural and all.

Tried loire before ISERE, dined in before SATHOME, and grasscloth before IRISHLINEN, which doesn't even make sense - that's wallpaper.

Didn't like STOUTEN or CHOICER, but the rest was a good solid workout.

SethG 12:21 AM  

One of my faster Fridays, and it felt like it could have been even faster. There was a lot of stuff that was oddly easy to piece together for a Friday.

I did play guess the silent vowel, have SLAP ON, have to get used to the idea of STOUTEN, and end on the W. LAPSING hurt worst of all.

r.alphbunker 12:26 AM  

These were the initial wrong entries that I had to get rid of

Resisted hitting the hints button so this one has no asterisk after it. It feels good to finish without help. I wish the program would disable the hints button for the first hour.

foodie 12:32 AM  

I loved the clue for SCREWS.

And having FLY as a zipper hider was an interesting choice.

It took me embarrassingly long to think of ARABIAN even though I had IAN SEA

CHOICER, STOUTEN seemed a little RICKETY. Rest felt solid.

ted 12:56 AM  

I don't like the clue for ARCS. An arc doesn't satisfy the Euclidean definition of a line. Two points define a line, and lines can intersect at only one point, so if you imagine arc A intersecting line L at two points, you can see why arc A is not a line. Moreover, the shortest path between two points on a sphere is actually an arc. So in planar geometry, an arc is not a line, and in spherical geometry, an arc is not indirect, so I call shenanigans on that clue. MAYBE there's some geometry I'm not aware of where the clue/answer pair makes sense, but if that's the case then I still say it's a bad clue/answer because what kind of person is really going to be thinking in those terms?

ArtLvr 1:04 AM  

I didn't notice that the timer was kaput until I looked for it at the end, too bad! Like @nanpilla, I found it easier than expected at first glance...

I loved the KLAXON, though it led me to think of a Fan for Cooler until I saw the PEN, and wondered if the clue for LAPSING really fit Elapsing better? I think of a lapse as a gap (as in memory) or an omission (as in sin of), not just Passing (as time).

STOUTEN sounds like a lapse of a LO-FAT New Year's resolution!


jae 3:01 AM  

Tough one for me (especially the west side) with way too many missteps to list (e.g. LIPIDS, SLAPON, ARIA, ANA..AVA... etc.). Rex is right, no real grabbers but still a very solid Fri. I enjoyed the challenge. I did wince at STOUTEN.

Indrea carlin minchaels 5:08 AM  

SO many of the same errors: Inez, cap, dinedin, Ava (at one point NAN!), etc.

Had to struggle thru the male sporty-ness of it all!
Should I know Ty Cobb was a centerfielder, much less that that was abbreviated as cfs, or SIXIRON? Not to mention TAPIN, STADIA (instead of arenas) and this SECTIONONE
(Wrestle to the ground anyone who thinks that's an actual phrase)!

You are such a guy, Joe DiPietro! Even your name sounds like a guy's guy.

Loved RICKETY, KLAXON and that MANX wasn't TEN O',
but wished PRES was PREz and INES was INEz, or better yet, INEj, and then it would be a pangram!

Side(A) note: INON didn't need the IT...and it mirrored INONepiece.
But maybe some of the lack of shINe IN this puzzle was bec there were too many INs:

SistINe, INes, tapIN, whINe, honINg, INonit, INonepiece, INferno, IrishlINen, lapsINg, GreatPlaINs.

Thought Rex had a really interesting take on the grid's look vs fill and it almost inspires me to attempt a Friday, just to see if I could construct one, or have a deeper appreciation of what it must have taken to do this one.

Glimmerg; 8:10 AM  

NW was hard for me. Got EDY and SISTINE (except I had it Sistene until ISERE), then ran out of gas. Wound up starting with INFERNO and working south, north, and west. Left the NW for last, after I could guess SECTION ONE and TAKE TO TASK. About average difficulty (for me) for Friday. Didn't care for STOUTEN (is that really a verb?), but the rest was fine. Never heard of DEBI Mazar, but the crosses were clear enough. SCREWS was my last piece of the puzzle -- good clue, and I'm angry at myself for not seeing it sooner.

joho 8:29 AM  

When I finished I decided that my goal for today was to eat some CHOICER meat so I can STOUTEN up.

As mentioned by @indrea carlin SECTIONONE is not a phrase that's in the language. I don't think SLAMON is, either. Salmon is a thing.

SIXIRON made me think of the golf company named Srixon.

David L 8:40 AM  

This turned out to be an easy Friday for me (not quite sure how easy, because the little clock thingamajig hasn't been starting automatically, and I forget to turn it on until about a minute in...)

I agree with most of the complaints -- don't like STOUTEN and CHOICER, INONIT is clunky, SECTIONONE is doubtful (are all STADIA numbered the same way?).

I'm really baffled by the idea that there's a SILENTI in carriage. The way I say the word, the last syllable rhymes with 'ridge,' so you might argue the 'a' is silent, but surely not the 'i.'

@ted: Euclid defines a line as "a breadthless length" (Def #2) and then separately defines a straight line (Def #4). So a line in general can be curved. I thought this clue was clunky but not unreasonable.

Oh, and ENOTES ... does anyone really use that phrase? Did they ever?

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Today I have decided to join the nitpickers, even tho I liked this Friday puzzle, which was more challenging than fun (tho no cheats other than a delay in MHP appearing before I worked out the SW)

Iron-deficient was clued with a ?, so we knew it was not anemic and likely meant the steam-producing kind.. But CREASED? I always thought steam irons were used to put creases in pants. So how does that clue make any sense? WRINKLED would have made more sense.

Did not like SAT HOME. It lacks a preposition and sounds like a caretaker for a house instead of how it’s clued.

Did not like the clue for IRAQ WAR because it was the subject of authorization in both houses of Congress.

Tired of SEEing RED all the time, so much so that I now SEE RED every time I see SEE RED or any variation therof.

Otherwise, there really was too much to like to WHINE any further....

Go Bears (especially this weekend when they will be home like the Giants, but, unlike the Giants and 23 other teams, will be playing next weekend)

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

Good puzzle.

Didn't like the way MANX was clued. Do they really call it a Manx cat? A poodle dog? A Mr. Ed horse?

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

Golfers will sympathize... I plugged twowoOd intead of SIX IRON (38D: spade mashie)... I thought mashie was a wood club, not iron... then after I corrected that one, I plugged woodSEt instead of CREASED (15A: iron-deficiency?
As I also put it SIxTINE (that the chapel name I know in French) instead of SISTINE, the NW corner eluded me.

From Bangna/Bangkok

retired_chemist 9:17 AM  

Finished with an error. Count me among those who do NOT think the I in CARRIAGE is silent. Enfermo in Spanish means ill, a cognate of infirm, so I figured ENFERNO was the Italian word.

Also hand up for not liking the clue for ARCS. Or STOUTEN as an answer.

Hand up for CAVALRY as saber rattlers, ARIA for the Puccini DUET, NAN as the palindromic girl, STRESS @ 1D, RUIN @ 27A, andmore.

NW was FUBAR for a long time because 19A (glycerides, e.g.) was LIPIDS. That led to INDIA LINEN, which was part of what got me off of the VATICAN choir @ 1A.

Challenging IMO. But a fun solve.

Ulrich 9:20 AM  

Given that I could do this w/o stopping, it goes down as an easier Friday for me (don't ask how long it took, though!).

Now, does anybody know why we can say "blacken", "whiten", or "redden", but not "pinken", "bluen", or "greenen"? Or, for that matter, "stouten", but not "leanen"? Is there a rule involved, or is this simply one of those English features that exist solely in the form of special cases, to be learned by rote?

@DavidL and @ret._chem.: I'm glad you can also hear the "i" in "carriage".

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Got the NE corner by myself and a few other words scattered around the grid. With a little bit of googling got the SW corner. I lost my patience afterward and peeked at the answers.

So for me it was a very challenging puzzle for a Friday. How can people finish this puzzle in under 5 or even 10 minutes boggles my mind.

mmorgan 9:39 AM  

I struggled a lot with this one, but I liked it, even though it was a DNF. I was tempted to quit very early on (I have other stuff to, in part), but I stayed with it. Long Downs just kept magically appearing, out of almost nowhere... but they didn't always help.

Hand up for ARIA at 49D and ANTE at 25A (for a long time). And I had WASHOME for SATHOME (8A) and PASSING for LAPSING (18A).

I thought a fly WAS a zipper... Guess not.

Really liked PEYTON (39A: Place name in 1960s TV).

Finally gave up in the NW, but was surprised to see I actually had everything else.

(@r.alphbunker: What is the "hints button"? Do you mean the one that reveals correct/incorrect letters/words or something else?)

JC66 9:43 AM  


Thanks for commenting on my avatar yesterday. I didn't take the picture, my dive buddy did.

JC66 9:45 AM  

And what's the deal with the timer not starting automatically?

OldCarFudd 9:56 AM  

DNF in the southwest. Had aria and nan, got rid of them when I figured out stouten and centavo, then tried goes for at 53A, and then gave up. I probably should have gone away fora while and come back later, because the stuff I lacked was all gettable (a word on a par with stouten) but I was too impatient. Other than that, I thought it was a good, well-clued puzzle.

David L 9:57 AM  

@Ulrich: I'm pretty sure there's no rule about whether or not you can '-en' to verbify words. It's just usage and habit. The interesting thing is you can facetiously add '-en' and people will know what you mean. I was recently discussing with a colleague a document that we had to tidy up in the appropriate house style, and I said, just send it to the copyediting dept, they will nicen it up in the correct way. Why not? You can neaten things up, after all.

@JC66: I thought it was just my timer...

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Anon said:

"Didn't like the way MANX was clued. Do they really call it a Manx cat? A poodle dog? A Mr. Ed horse?"

Yes, they do call them "Manx cats". Manx by itself does not denote an cat or any animal for that matter. "Manx" means: from the Isle of Man. Just like "Maltese" means from the island of Malta.

-Martin Ashwood-Smith

jesser 10:10 AM  

I did fine everywhere but the NW, where I clung stubbornly to 'put oN nOTice' at 4D and that mucked up any chance of figuring anything out, even with EDY and NETS in place. I know better than to cling to things. Dammit.

Beautiful morning in southern NM. High is expected to be near 60, and I've got Fridayitis Big Time, so it remains to be seen whether the golf course will evade my abusive application of the SIX IRON and its bag mates.

Happy weekend, Puzzle Pals!

Eummestmo! (and you also missed Larry and Curly) -- jesser

Ulrich 10:20 AM  

@DavidL: It may have something to do with the ending consonant. It seems to work always with adjectives ending with a t, and we have examples for d, k, and c(e). So, "pinken" should work, as in "I have to pinken that sky" when I'm working in Photoshop. I'm laughing, though, b/c "pinken" comes awfully close to German "pinkeln"--to pee, colloquially.

quilter1 10:26 AM  

Proud to have finished, but it was a bit of a tussle. Solved from NE to SW then SE to NW. In the arena where we watch Drake basketball SECTIONONE is not very prime being close to the end of the floor. You can't see the action at the opposite end very well. I doubt if anyone has used STOUTEN in a sentence lately. Oh, I just did! Drake vs. Bradley tonight. Go Bulldogs.

retired_chemist 10:31 AM  

@ DavidL, Ulrich -

Agree -en by common usage can make many an adjective or noun into a verb. Ulrich, what is the situation in German, where -en is the infinitive verb ending? I wonder if the English practice originated with the borrowed words from Old German.

skirk 11:26 AM  

Rex-- What's your position on enote? I'm pretty sure it's not an actual thing. Like where do these enotes get written? Except maybe on evernote, when they're just called notes, or evernotes.

Two Ponies 11:31 AM  

Med-challenging seems about right.
My last letter was changing slap to slam. Arporedcar looked ridiculous and I was blinded until I actually wrote it horizontally in the margin so that armored was visible. I have trouble reading long verticals sometimes. The only example I can think of is "slam on the breaks" but that's good enough.
@ Ulrich, I love the color question. We seem to say the ones you mentioned instinctively so I'm having fun thinking of other colors that don't work.

Van55 11:33 AM  

I agree that there is not much to say about this one, so that's what I will say.

Rex Parker 11:33 AM  


ENOTE is loathsome, but all things E- have become so entrenched that I can't bother wasting my breath with it any more. I can accept a loathsome answer or two in an otherwise nice grid. Squawking about bad stuff happens only if a. it's Truly, uniquely bad, or b. lots of little bad stuff piles up.


mac 12:02 PM  

I guess I am contrary today, I liked this puzzle a lot, found it medium and I also like "stouten".
@Ulrich: I think I have seen or heard "pinken" in a medical situation (on tv most likely).

Had centimo for centavo, slapon, passing (silent I was my last entry), had Arabian but wanted Gulf instead of Sea, know Klaxon better as Claxon and had a nice aha moment with duet instead of aria.

Yes, I had a good time with this one.

treedweller 12:08 PM  

Second ENOTES with identical clue in a couple of days (first may have been a diff puzzle) and I don't like it any better. I still held out a long time because I prefer my first guess, E-vites. At least that's really a thing.

I did get it, though, unlike the entire NW into southern Calif. Along with lots of blank spaces, I had "rumpled" for CREASED. The rest was just mysterious to me. I even googled for the choir and the dept/river, but the terms were too vague and I never figured them out. I won't WHINE because that's one of the answers I couldn't get. I did consider it, but only briefly and never wrote it in because it seemed like a pretty random guess that easily could have been wrong. I think that points to puzzling fatigue. Took me awhile to get the rest of the puzzle and I just didn't care anymore.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

the worst disconnect I've had with a puzzle in months. I didn't like a lot of the clues/answers -- stouten, creased, choicer? But whether it was the puzzle or my headcold, I don't really know.

As they say, tomorrow is another day.

E-notes may be set in concrete in crosswordese by now, but crosswords is the only place I've come across that usage. Doesn't help matters that if the grid is empty when you come across the clue, 'tweets' fits just as well and is, to me anyway, a much more legitimate term.

Masked and Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Quietly beautiful grid fill. Am normally underwhelmed by a puz with no theme to suss out. This one seemed like subtle, well-crafted poetry; pulled me in, and grabbed a-hold. Nice job, Joe DP. I'm impressed, and not even quite sure why.

SW put up the biggest fight. I built up a whole elaborate, but plausible, interconnectin' set of white elephant hogwash down there. Wanted NODS for "Indirect lines"; talk about tryin' to overthink a clue...

Lindsay 12:52 PM  

Started the xword in a funk before heading off to an unpleasant one-on-one meeting. Fortunately, the meeting turned out to be shorter (i.e. less unpleasant) than I had anticipated, because the person with whom I was meeting walked out. Point of dispute being is it a good idea for a committee to do nothing for the purpose of making the Chair look bad at a deadline? (my position: no). Came home in a better frame of mind and finished the puzzle more or less lickety split, although I went with 45A CLAXON at first which made 4D TAKEN TO TASK and hence the entire NE a little murky.

Rex Parker 12:53 PM  


Your position was the correct one.


syndy 1:06 PM  

so relieved that I'm not the only one to stare at arpored car in deep distress!Breezed through the northwest then nada had ruin, aria,passing,slap on (slap off)and had to slowly deconstruct! but got my happy pencil in the end!

retired_chemist 2:03 PM  

@ Lindsay - I too am with you. I have seen what you describe. NOT good.

You must be in academia. Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small.

sndrea xyz michaels 2:17 PM  

@two ponies
Thanks for the SLAM ON the brakes, I couldn't think of ANY...closest I got is when you try to force a jugsaw puzzle piece into place!

I'm with you, as always...thought fly=zipper, Never thought that fully about it till now (only sisters, all-girl-school, etc)
Waiter! There's a zipper in my soup!

Sparky 2:18 PM  

Took a while but almost finished. Small hole in SW. Had Nan also, Ava; aria, NG, then trio; asks for and decided Nerts. Fair amount of putting in, erasing, putting back in on this one.
SE filled in first, then NE. RASTA and KLAXON my first entries. Felt relieved because yesterday left me totally in the dark. Look forward to Saturday.
Have a good weekend.

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

@Lindsay - Holy Shit! You're Lindsey Graham?

Hugh 2:39 PM  

Not sure about "pinken" used medically but we often say "pinked," as in "this patient has pinked up," referring to the improvement in color seen when a cyanosed (blue) patient is given oxygen.

TimJim 2:51 PM  

Tough one. Many write-overs. Had to come back a couple of times to finish. Hand up for NAN/ARIA. And I agree, an iron is often used to put in a crease, so not a great clue.

shrub5 2:59 PM  

DNF by a couple of squares. Another hand up for CLAXON before fixing to K. Had LAY IN instead of TAP IN for the hard-to-miss shot therefore making LAPSING and SAT HOME hard to see.

RUNS FOR / DUET / ANNO / STU was the big problem area, exacerbated by having LO CAL rather than LO FAT. I feel the same as @anon 8:53 and @TimJim about the iron-deficient clue for CREASED.

Despite the twists, turns, potholes and dead ends, I still enjoyed the journey on this puzzle.

Lindsay 3:18 PM  

@retired_chemist -- not academia, but local politics. Specifically, a charter commission with a statutory deadline that falls in February for submitting a draft charter. I reason that if we don't write and submit a draft, the entire commission looks bad, not just the chair who, it was at length alleged, is in the pocket of special interests ....

This toxic political environment is exactly why the voters formed a charter commission in the first place.

And of course, in my earlier post, I meant NW, not NE. Directionally challenged.

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

Confess some amusement over women debating whether a fly is a zipper, tho I suppose the unisex barbershop will cause that sort of thing. Also confess I always thought of them as the same thing on men's pants (Never recall teling my wife her fly is unzipped). However, w/o Googling this piece of trivia, it occurs to me upon great reflection that the fly has an overlap that hides the zipper (or buttons for that matter).

Also agree with Rex about E-this and E-that. Another product of the unisex barbershop. Soon we will all become part of the Eworld....

Captcha is dulva - another product of the unisex barbershop?

Go Bears

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

If there's a silent letter in the word "carriage", it's the final E. Not the I, for sure.

PS: is ENOTES used anywhere in the real world?

william e emba 3:47 PM  

Started off easy, plodded along medium, and actually finishing was challenging. I had STRESS for the longest time at 1D, but fortunately I did not waver in keeping ISERE. It did not help at all that I filled in ENTERS when I meant ESTERS.

As a mathematician, I am happy with "line" being used in generalized senses. In particular, "lines" in a spherical geometry correspond to great circles (ARCS) on a sphere.

More interesting, though, is that one of the tributaries to the ISERE River is the Arc River, not to be confused with a second Arc River south of the first!

That's right, France has two ARCS! And as shipping lines go, well, I guess both are kind of indirect. Or, as Asterix would say, These Gauls are crazy!

mmorgan 3:52 PM  

"The 'fly' was originally the piece of material covering the opening of the trousers, but came to mean the opening itself, whether button, zip or velcro driven. Sources: OED and Chambers Dictionary"

From "Why do people call a guys zipper a fly?"


I'm really glad that's settled.

tringlo - treet chariot...

sanfranman59 4:25 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Fri 25:32, 26:13, 0.97, 46%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 13:35, 12:51, 1.06, 65%, Medium-Challenging

n.t. 4:33 PM  

Weird! We ended on the W too, but ISERE/CREASED was our penultimate entry (although EDY was a gimme for me)

Moonchild 4:43 PM  

My first glance at the clues seemed hopeless but I got it all at last.
Sometimes your clothes have a crease where you don't want it so you iron it out.
I'm supposed to know a 14th century Portuguese prince's wife?
Interesting story though.
I liked that Iraq War crossed Arabian Sea.
Don't know enough about geometry to care about the accuracy of arcs.

Tetu 5:08 PM  

I had "unarmed" for "iron deficient" --isn't a handgun called and iron in old Western lit? At any rate, couldn't get the NW corner because of it...

mac 5:38 PM  

@mmorgan: never thought about this before, but a coat can have a fly-front as well, under which the buttons are hidden.

Martin 5:43 PM  

If the "i" in carriage is absolutely not silent (meaning it can't be dropped without affecting the pronunciation) then we would need "i"s in cabbiage, cribbiage, Carthiage, mortgiage, imiage, storiage, stowiage and sewiage. Has ghoti taught you nothing?

Two Ponies 6:24 PM  

Re: carriage. I also think I am pronouncing that "i" but certainly not the "e". The etymology of the word must have some connection to "carry", yes? There must be a better example of a silent i but none is springing to mind. When I saw the clue but not the number of squares I was expecting "Hard C".
@ andrea^^, I have this vivid mental picture of you slamming a jigsaw puzzle together. Too funny.

SethG 6:33 PM  

Don't forget vestiage, Martin. Oh, wait... Can you drop the e from fire or rote and not affect the pronunciation? Does that mean those e's are not silent? Barrage?

I don't think I understand your argument.

Anonymous 7:05 PM  

Good Friday. I needed the break! WE have snow heading this way in Macon, GA. We are pun!

wordphan 7:11 PM  

Was getting "pen-shy" with the Fridays; all's well now.

Martin 7:12 PM  


My argument is simple. Unlike the final "e" in fire or rote (which is there to make the first vowel sound long -- by a fundamental rule of English spelling), the "i" in carriage makes for an exceptional spelling of a French loan word that has come forward unchanged. If in 100 years, the spelling morphs to "carrage," using the template of all those other -age words, its pronunciation will be at least as intuitive as that of carriage. In this sense, the "i" is vestigial and silent. It's quite a separate issue that -age is pronounced "ij" in most words.

The fact that carrage looks "wrong" while cabbage doesn't is why we resist admitting the "i" is not needed.

Ulrich 7:26 PM  

@ret._chem.: The same thought occurred to me, but I see no connection b/c you absolutely cannot create a verb in German by adding an "en" at the end of an adjective.

@Martin: The point is that "carriage" is not pronounced like "carrage" by people like SethG (I presume) or me (which, admittedly, doesn't count for much)...are we getting again into the issue of regional accents in the US?

The best examples of truly, unquestionably silent i's I can think of occur in Italian, where they are used to indicate that a consonant before a, o, u is voiced when in the normal course of things it would be voiceless, as in "grigio" (I'm talking about the second i)--not that the waiters in the so-called "Italian" restaurants around here would know this...

allears carla michaels 7:36 PM  

"Italian waiters"? Did someone just say "Italian waiters?"

Martin 7:44 PM  


I'm curious. If cabbage and carriage don't rhyme, how do the last final syllables differ when you say them? The dictionaries I've looked at show -ij for both, with no alternates. Or are you referring the initial vowel sound? I do hear some regional variation on the first vowel in carriage, parallel with local pronumciation of marry/Mary/merry. (My wife says them all the same while I don't.) But I would challenge the argument that the "i" in carriage somehow affects the first syllable.

"Mariage" is three syllables in French. Someone made the bizarre decision that the two-syllable English pronunciation is best reflected by doubling the "r." What a language!

Ulrich 8:21 PM  

@Martin: I just did a test with non-puzzle wife (of Italian descent, no less) and the results are truly startling: Both "carriage" and "marriage" are two-syllable words (to my shock), but, to my ear, the "a" is silent, not the "i"--now I am, of course, totally befuddled.

@rabbit ears: I did not say "Italian waiters" (whom I adore); I said "waiters in so-called Italian restaurants", with whom I have issues on a regular basis

ksquare 8:24 PM  

@Ulrich Funny that your German use of 'tinkeln' is so similar to the American use of 'tinkle' as a euphemism for 'urinate'.

ksquare 8:25 PM  

@Ulrich Funny that your German use of 'tinkeln' is so similar to the American use of 'tinkle' as a euphemism for 'urinate'.

Anonymous 8:26 PM  

Went into the cabbage patch today and got run over by a carriage. I died and was forever silent....

ksquare 8:32 PM  

@Ulrich Sorry, I meant 'pinkeln',

SethG 8:36 PM  

Martin, how do you say barrage? Isn't that also from the French? Why is this example less instructive than cabbage or storage?

The "e"s in my examples, or say the "a" in coat, cannot be dropped without affecting the pronunciation. But they're still silent, right? The "l" in calm is silent, but it certainly changes the pronunciation of cam. But the "k" in knot doesn't change the pronunciation of not. I don't understand how any pronunciation-change function of a letter impacts its silentude. And I'm a bit lost in your negatives--are you defining "silent" or "not silent" as "can't be dropped without affecting the pronunciation".

Vestige has the same -ij ending, at least passed through French, and has no a. Clearly, that's not a silent i. If we were to change the spelling of vestige to vestiage, would you say that the i or the a is silent? I don't think the fact that vestige and prestige are pronounced differently has any implication with regard to how each letter functions in its own word.

Basically, I see in what you wrote a list of words that have no "i" and are pronounced like carriage is with the 'i'. What I don't see is an underlying principle that makes the i necessarily silent, which seems to be what you're implying.

Anonymous 8:41 PM  

What about carriage and garage or carriage and garbage? Not to mention carriage and marriage....

fikink 9:25 PM  

Late to the party.
Really enjoyed this more cryptically clued Friday with its RICKETY KLAXON and CREASED ARMORED CAR.
Puzzle MENACES me in the beginning as I wander the grid putting in esses and ings to make points of entry. Get to "mashies" and know I have no idea the meaning of the word, so I look at a definition. I find it has something to do with golf clubs and I enter SIX IRON off the menacing S. I am on the way. I ARC my way around the grid and finish in fine form for a Friday. One cheat (looking up mashies)
Good fun, Joe DiPietro.

NATE 12:09 AM  

I'm trying to quit this blog. That's why I waited until now to
1)Ted: Euclid is lucky he isn't alive. He couldn't have solved today's puzzle.
2)Ulrich: If you stop brushing your teeth it will yellow them.
3)The main reason I am trying to quit is exemplified by the endless
discussion about the silent i.
Joe Dipietro thought it was silent
and that's good enough for me.
I hope you will never hear from me again.

Anonymous 1:43 AM  

NATE, don't worry, you'll get confused enough soon enough. See you soon!

Nebraska Doug 8:49 AM  

Solid, enjoyable puzzle for me. Plodded happily along until the NW, where I became mired down. I eventually solved it, but not without a lot of whining. Not sure if I liked some of the cluing, but was very satisfied to finish without a mistake.

Neophyte 1:30 AM  

34d "zipper hider" was an interesting clue for FLY. In camping, the (rain) fly is the outer covering for a tent, and the zippered parts of nylon tents would be under the fly. But I imagine the clue was targeting pants, not tents. I got led astray by the old joke,
Q: What's the difference between a fly and a bee?
A: You can't zip up a bee...

GILL I. 12:50 PM  

Very late to the party since it's Feb. 11 here in California land.
For some reason, I found this easy. I like Mr. DiPietro's puzzles so I guess I could read his mind.
Started immediately with 56A. The centavo ain't worth nada these days; maybe when Fidel pops his socks along with his idiot brother.
All the cars (circa 50's) in Havana had loud CLAXON(s) AAAArugha.

Lurking, Just Behind You 1:46 PM  

Joe DiP is probably one of my 5 favorite constructors (but ACME will always be #1), and this one did not fail to deliver. With the exception of CHOICER, I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
I really hope that in the last six weeks we have not seen the end of NATE....this site is crack to me too, but I am a happy junkie.
Anonymous @ 226 - The Lindsay Graham crack made me spit my coffee.

replate - what those clumsy "Italian waiters" must do frequently.

Marc 5:15 PM  

Medium for me, about par for a Friday.

I really liked OBIT for departure info?

I still have no idea what a spade mashie is, although it's obviously a golf club. Clearly I have never played golf.

lodsf 11:40 AM  

Syndication/catch up. Sign of the times: At first, I quite confidently wrote down TWEETS at 35A: Brief online messages.

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