Toy rocket company since 1958 / SUN 5-8-11 / First player listed Total Baseball / Millennia old Jordanian city / He wrote None but brave deserves fair

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Constructor: Daniel A. Finan

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Working in Opposition" — two-word phrases where first word is an adjective and second word is its opposite (in plural noun form) ... except for the central theme answers, which somehow has a third central neutral part: (BAD FAIR GOODS)

Word of the Day: RISIBLES (65D: Sense of humor) —

n. pl: sense of the ridiculous : SENSE OF HUMOR {an article which tickled my ~ immensely—Vinnie Hicks} (Webster's 3rd Int'l Dictionary) [Vinnie Hicks??? That's an authority?]
• • •

Puzzle concept is fine, I suppose—pretty typical Sunday fare—but some of the fill was less than ideal. I think that Theme Density is overvalued, and that lots of puzzles are getting published lately that have tremendous Theme Density but also (likely because of said Density) significant flaws and infelicities in the fill. Eleven theme answers today, but ... it's not like the theme is scintillating, so do I really need eleven? Wouldn't nine do, especially if the grid could be cleaner?

Couple of rough crosses that I didn't fill in until all surrounding squares were filled: BIAS TIRE (35D: Radial alternative) / ESTES (54A: Toy rocket company since 1958) (never heard of the latter, and had BIO-TIRE at first because I assumed the first word of FAULTY SOUNDS was FOUL ...); and SUA (58D: ___ sponte (legal term)) / NOURI (64A: "Flashdance" actor Michael) (unusual (in xwords) Latin word and marginal actor with uninferrable name? Not good). Real puzzle of the day is RISIBLES, which is the terriblest word I've seen in a while (if RISIBLES is a word, then so is "terriblest"). Hard to find on the internet — well, hard to find in English. In French, it's common enough. I believe in RISIBLES only slightly less than I believe in RIBLET (51D: Barbecued bit) (did you know there's a RIBLET Mansion overlooking the Spokane River, named for Royal Riblet. Or that "The Riblet Tramway Company was once the largest ski chairlift manufacturer in the world" (wikipedia)?). As names go, DAVI is pretty terrible / obscure. Didn't know KERRI either, but at least that sounds like a name that someone might have (10D: Walsh with 2004 and 2008 gold medals in beach volleyball). Not sure I've ever seen ALI cross ALII before. I wonder what it's like to fly EL AL during the month of ELUL (67A: Month before Tishri). Those flights should be required to distribute crosswords to all passengers, esp. those headed to TEL AVIV. What else is there to say about this one? Not much.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Capris? (LONG SHORTS)
  • 30A: Domes to let in London? (ROUND FLATS)
  • 38A: Pre-2004 purchase from G.M.? (NEW OLDS)
  • 47A: Sour notes? (FAULTY SOUNDS)
  • 56A: Fractions of acres? (LITTLE LOTS)
  • 70A: Shabby wares sold at an expo? (BAD FAIR GOODS)
  • 83A: What socialists campaign for? (LEFT RIGHTS) — this one just doesn't sound right. Really sticks out.
  • 91A: B and O, for presidents #43 and #44? (LAST INITIALS)
  • 101A: Career criminals? (PRO CONS)
  • 111A: Material for a biographer with a recorder? (TAPED LIVES)
  • 121A: Best-looking rear ends? (TOP BOTTOMS)
Couldn't decide between TUT and TSK at 122D: Utterance of a finger wagger, but now see that TUT was already in the grid at that point (66A: "King ___," song premiered on SNL on 4/22/78). My favorite finger wagger was Dikimbe Mutombo, although his utterance would've been something like "not in my house" or "no, you may not put the ball into the basket at this time."

  • 37A: Verizon forerunner (GTE) — I had MCI, which is apparently now a subsidiary of Verizon.
  • 60A: He wrote "None but the brave deserves the fair" (DRYDEN) — the poet who gets most screwed by the typical Brit Lit I / Brit Lit II survey course divisions. He tends to fall into the gap, like Howard falling between the beds on his second honeymoon with Mrs. C in Season 6 of "Happy Days."
  • 78A: Lead singer of the fictional Pussycats (JOSIE) — who's the lead singer of the *real* Pussycats?

  • 89A: First player listed in "Total Baseball" (AARON) — "Total Baseball" being a statistical encyclopedia. Not hard to get even if you don't know baseball. Hank AARON is kind of a big deal.
  • 95A: Battlefield sorting system (TRIAGE) — so, if you guessed Dewey Decimal System, you were wrong.
  • 7D: Millennia-old Jordanian city that's a World Heritage site (PETRA) — learned it from crosswords and actually *remembered* it today, possibly for the first time. Did not know, and thus could not remember, the [Modern locale of ancient Illyria] (ALBANIA)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. You can now purchase five crosswords from this past weekend's Crosswords L.A. Tournament. Price is just $5, all of which goes to the charity Reading to Kids. Worth it for the Tyler Hinman puzzle alone. Go here to purchase the set. You'll be glad you did.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter or Tumblr]


Bob Kerfuffle 7:05 AM  

As I worked my way through this puzz, I thought it was taking an inordinate effort. Sure enough, it is an oddly over-sized 22 x 21 grid.

Finished with one mistake: Was so proud to have thought of SKORT at 9 A, didn’t realize the answer was the more prosaic SKIRT (crossing a Japanese name, would have been no help, even if I had looked.)

Otherwise got by with three write-overs: 78 A, ROSIE before JOSIE (D’oh!); 61 D, ELISSA before ELISHA; and, 115 D, VIVE before ABAS!

Having a hard time accepting RISIBLES as “Sense of humor (65 D).”

And, To Whom It May Concern: Happy Mother’s Day!

Glimmerglass 7:47 AM  

When did an EKG become an ECG? I've always been proud of knowing that the middle initial is NOT a C. Risibles is awful, crossing a singer I never heard of. Grumble grumble.

The Bard 7:57 AM  

Hamlet > Act I, scene V

HAMLET: O my prophetic soul! My uncle!

Ghost: Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,--
O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
So to seduce!--won to his shameful lust
The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen:
O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there!
From me, whose love was of that dignity
That it went hand in hand even with the vow
I made to her in marriage, and to decline
Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor
To those of mine!
But virtue, as it never will be moved,
Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,
So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd,
Will sate itself in a celestial bed,
And prey on garbage.
But, soft! methinks I scent the morning air;
Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,
And in the porches of my ears did pour
The leperous distilment; whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man
That swift as quicksilver it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body,
And with a sudden vigour doth posset
And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
The thin and wholesome blood: so did it mine;
And a most instant tetter bark'd about,
Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust,
All my smooth body.
Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd:
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhousel'd, disappointed, unanel'd,
No reckoning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head:
O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!
If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not;
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damned incest.
But, howsoever thou pursuest this act,
Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
Against thy mother aught: leave her to heaven
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge,
To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once!
The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,
And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire:
Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me.

OldCarFudd 8:45 AM  

Finished with two blank squares - the s in risibles/Astley, and the u un sua/Nouri. No idea and not worth Googling. Thought new Olds, pro cons, last initials and bad fair goods were pretty decent. The rest, not much.

Smitty 8:51 AM  

The aha's (badfairgoods, Nelson, scalpels) were spoiled by the number of huh?'s (riblet, Nouri, Elul, ssgts, Bai, ECG, caffe, jiffs, ashed) ...oh and the WOD RISABLES, which looks even better when "pluralled"

Smitty 8:53 AM  

sorry - RISIBLES, s'cuse me

conomist 9:03 AM  

I agree that this left a bad taste in my mouth...BUT, I started laughing out loud at the fact that we got Rick-rolled. Even the venerable NYT isn't safe.

That might just have made the SUA/NOURI Natick bearable.

(Also, ECG is actually a really acceptable abbreviation for an electrocardiogram, and is probably the more commonly used these days)

conomist 9:05 AM  

Also, Captcha = dismeh.

Which kind of sums up this puzzle.

matt 9:11 AM  

I found the puzzle pretty easy except for that BIASTIRE/ESTES/NOURI center which just wouldn't come for me. I'm actually pretty sure I actually built ESTES rockets when I was little. As far as names go, if you look up Robert DAVI you'll probably recognize him from something. I'm not sure how that's any more "terrible/obscure" than other crosswordese names.

J.D. KaPow 9:31 AM  

Unfortunately, the "Aaron" answer only works now with OLD baseball encyclopedias. I've got nothing personally against David Aardsma, but he ain't no Hank.

ArtO 9:54 AM  

Let's all give a great big round of boos for "risibles." UGH!!!

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Rex - "so so I reqally need eleven?" > so do I really need eleven? I do those things all the time.

jackj 10:24 AM  

There is the oft told tale of the gent who was continuously hitting himself on the head with a hammer and when asked why, he answered, "Because it feels so good when I stop".

Just like that modern-day Epicurean, that was my feeling about this puzzle, finishing it brought great pleasure that the painful slog was over.

Nevertheless, there is still a lingering memory of the torturous solve, ASHED. ASHED?? ASHED, indeed!

quilter1 10:38 AM  

Finished, but did not enjoy the solve. Too many actors, singers I did not know and only got from crosses. In 25 years of working in hospitals I never heard ECG used. Ditto the complaints above.
OK, gotta go get Mom for church. Happy Mother's Day.

GILL I. 11:06 AM  

Wow, a barbecued bit is a RIBLET?? I'll have to remember that little tidbit.
Off to go fill the LONG SHORTS with CALORIC goodies.
Happy Mother's Day.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

@Rex - "Puzzle concept is fine, I suppose"? Seriously?
"83A: What socialists campaign for? (LEFT RIGHTS) — this one just doesn't sound right. Really sticks out."? As opposed to the others? Not that I could critique all of them, as I showed mercy to myself half way through. No, that's not quite true, I opted for SNL half way through, and for the past two years that's been a punishment also

chefbea 11:54 AM  

Got the theme right away but had trouble finishing. Googled a bit and then came here.

Never heard of jingoist???

Loved batter's need!!!

Happy mother's day !!

CoolPapaD 12:08 PM  

Like most Sunday puzzles, this had a lot that made me smile, but.....

My car has been veering to the left lately - maybe I have a BIAS TIRE on there..... NEVER heard of such a thing. Luckily, I too built (and was just talking about) ESTES rockets when I was a kid, so this was somewhat gettable, but the NOURI/RISIBLES cross left me with an error. That section was just painful.

@conomist - Would have been great if Rex had Rick-rolled one of his embeds. That would have made all this worth it!

Happy Mother's Day!

CoffeeLvr 12:23 PM  

I was neither HOT nor COLD on this themes of opposites, just tepid. I didn't even try to wrestle with Saturday's puzzle, so was really looking forward to this one last evening. I was disappointed. @conomist, your Captcha captured my mood exactly.

I agree with Rex's listing of crappy fill and finally resorted to using Check for some of the obscurities. We did get PARAGON, ALBANIA, TREBEC, CALORIC, FRONDS, TRIFECTA, JINGOIST, and GLITCH.

The shout-out to NORMAN OK, home of the University of Oklahoma, seems suitably mediocre. (Yes, they have a good football team, but that's all.)

Stan 12:34 PM  

I agree about the infelicities (à bas risibles!), but I think many Sunday-only solvers are very theme-oriented, and this gave them a lot to uncover. In other words, the daily puzzles attract aficionados, but Sundays have to play in Peoria.

Tptsteve 12:42 PM  

I guess the theme was ok, but I decided not to bother finishing because nothing in the puzzle gave me any sense of excitement-- it kind of bored me, and with the sun shining, there are other ways to spend my time.

Happy mother's day to the moms.

@Rex- if you ever have a chance to see Petra, you should. I never recalled it from x-words until I'd been there.

Mel Ott 12:43 PM  


RISIBLES? Is that a plural? For sense of humor? Stacked next to an obscure Latinism (SUA). Crossing 3 obscure proper names (NOURI, ALI & ASTLEY).

I liked RINKY-dinks. And I liked....

I might have liked TOP BOTTOMS if I weren't so pissed off at the puzzle by then.

mac 12:46 PM  

Thought this puzzle was fair. One mistake: Noury/tyre, bias tire is totally unfamiliar to me, so I thought it was a Brit brand.

Ash is a verb? If it is, I'm thinking ash wednesday, when the catholics get ashed by the priest.

1D: Nelson! The only wrestling term I know!

Isn't EKG the German form?

Just bought the LA puzzles; have to plant a few annuals before I will let myself do them.

Happy Mother's Day!

miriam b 12:46 PM  

I think the C replaced the K in EKG during WWII when the German word Elektrokardiogramm fell out of favor for, I suppose, political reasons. Yet a couple of years ago a nurse who administered this test corrected me when I called it an ECG.

jae 1:08 PM  

The RISIBLES/ASTLEY cross brought an end to 3 plus weeks of no errors for me. Fortunately I remembered NOURI from Flashdance or it would have been worse. conomist's captcha sums this one up for me too.

joho 1:19 PM  

Here, RISIBLES really IS ridiculous!

Great write-up, Rex.

Wishing all moms a wonderful day!

Lindsay 1:35 PM  

Seriously thought about quitting at the ORY/ERI cross.

I'm totally down with risible, but what to do with the extra square? I went with RISIBLEn/AnTLEY, because I know Antley is an actual name. A jockey, maybe?

syndy 1:37 PM  

for battle field sorting system wanted "kill them all-God will recognize his own" but probably not.DID NOT WANT to put that final S on risibles!IT IS WRONG!!!Anyway we're all agreed so there's little point in belaboring it -how don't I love thee!

Sparky 1:54 PM  

Couple of holes. A_TLEY/RISIBLE_ cross. Have heard of risible but that's an adjective. Had Beanie or Beret for Girl Scout answer. SKIRT isn't specific enough to my mind. Also Bey for 9D so that section stayed a mess. Got the theme with LEFTRIGHTS and LONGSHORTS. Didn't realize 38 and 101A also theme. Had EkG also.

Was pleased that I almost finished after two draggy days. Nice write up @Rex. Happy Mothers' Day.

JenCT 2:08 PM  

Wow, first time Blogger ate my comment! (I'll have to save before posting from now on.)

Anyway, I said how the NE corner was a mess for me - had the wrong pitcher's name, that he was from TOKYO, and that MCI was the Verizon forerunner.

Lots of yucky fill and a so-so theme. Meh.

I've eaten RIBLETs at Applebee's.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone.

The Crossword Committee 2:09 PM  

Looks like things got a tad desperate in those 2 areas for the constructor. We certainly got a bit desperate, when we tried to solve them.

But overall we enjoyed the theme and most of the solving fun. Took a vote and awarded it 7.5 Sunday griddles out of 10.

Martin 2:56 PM  

Although Rex quotes the big book, "risibles" is also in the abridged M-W Collegiate 11th desk dictionary. It's not real obscure. I don't get why words we don't know are bad words. Why do crosswords if you don't enjoy learning new ones?

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

I'm enjoying the complaints about biastires. I am old enough to recall the bias tires on my first cars. The transition to radials in the early fifties was a welcome change. Being in one's seventies is an advantage in puzzling...up to a point.


Anonymous 3:23 PM  

A Mother's Day puzzle so dense
Leaves its solvers feeling quite tense
Bad clues aren't risible
They should be invisible
If they can't make a dollop more sense

jae 4:11 PM  

@Lindsay -- I went with the "N" too.

Arundel 4:18 PM  

RISIBLES? Multiple senses of humor? I'm having a hard time contextualizing the plural. While singularly correct, beyond "The Life of Brian", it's not a commonly spoken word!

But that's the trouble with so much of this puzzle. Reasonable words clued oddly, intermixed with the truly odd. St Clare of ASSISI? Who knew? Cluing a working actor's name with a credit from 1983? The C-TEAM? Don't call 'em. The Disco ERA? How 'bout the Nixonian or the Paleozoic? And I'm curious - in what ski area do they use a T-BAR to get to "the high country"?

Count me among the not quite satisfied.

chefwen 4:22 PM  

Husband and I tag teamed this one which makes it less of a slog, and we both loved it. So many write overs I won't even enumerate them but we had a blast passing it to and fro. Of course all the incorrect first entries were his (he will tell you that they were mine.)

Greek style lamb riblets are delish!

Last letter in was the I in RISABLES/ALI. Had to Google after the fact to make sure that was even a word.

First Mother's Day without mine, so it's a little sad but I did get a sweet card from "the boys", two dogs and my kitty boy. Plus my husband is making me crepes for brunch, so all is right with the world.

JaxInL.A. 4:39 PM  

How is this for weird? I have a law degree, so put in SUA sponte without blinking, and I worked as a tour guide at Universal Studios in the early 80's when Michael NOURI was playing Lucky Luciano in "The Gangster Chronicles." I had to say his name many times a day for a couple of years, so that popped right in, too.

That oddity notwithstanding, did NOT enjoy this. Did Mr. Finan set out to include as much crosswordese in one puzzle as possible? He managed to avoid ewer, and a couple of common partials, but not many slipped by.

And the worst (RISIBLES, ASHED, ISLS etc.) inspire such odium that no one has yet complained about C-TEAM (is that a real thing?), NURSERS (really?), and SASES. And ALII is just wrong.

I did really well yesterday and I enjoyed the puzzle. This one, not so much, even if I did finish.

I want to wish a happy Mother's Day to all of the women who didn't give birth but have nonetheless played crucial roles in the lives of children. Five such women have blessed my life and I try to honor them every year on Mother's Day. All my love to EJ, Connie, Joan, Carol and Nell.

Captcha = prawnhat. Really.

Martin 4:42 PM  

"Risables" has its own entry in the abridged, desk dictionary, The M-W Collegiate, 11th Edition. To my way of thinking, making the cut in this volume means a word is not that obscure. Of course there's no arguing with the standard definition of obscure: a word I don't know.

I really don't get why so many people love words enough to do crosswords, but don't like learning new ones.

Martin 4:44 PM  

"Risables" is pretty obscure. "Risibles" isn't.

Rex Parker 4:51 PM  

Martin, you're simply wrong here. It's not just that *I* don't know it. It's that most people who have commented today have never heard of it, and (subjectively now) it seems a stupid and useless word. It's easily the most obscure (non-name) word in the puzzle. Not sure why you're so worked up about it. Yes, it's in a dictionary. But good luck finding it in the wild.

At any rate, you've certainly made your point.

Just searched [quote "risibles"] on google and my site came up 4th (?).

Oooh, I found a quote ... from 1864.

Martin 5:11 PM  

Here are 8 citations from the Times in the 1980s. Not exactly au courant, but a bit more recent than the Civil War. What makes me worked up, exactly?

Kurisu 5:36 PM  

I know the word "risible" (although not as a plural noun), so that one wasn't so bad for me. I actually knew "sua" also from Law and Order.

But there was tons of stuff in here that I didn't understand even after getting it -- CAN, JINGOIST, TRIP (tripmeter?), EGG, ABAS, ALII...

The worst crossings for me were ELUL/DIDO/LOESS, BAI/CAN, HESS/ABAS, and the whole NE corner. Never heard of ENURE (I had INURE instead), IRABU (not MATSUI), BIAS TIRE, ESTES...

Jim 5:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kurisu 5:37 PM  

Ok, now I understand how EGG is a batter's need. And apparently "pokey" is some slang word for a jail that I've never heard. Ugh...

Jim 5:46 PM  

Comment was eaten somehow, but, again:


And, hopefully I've done it right this time, one of the funniest bits of all time:


JenCT 6:07 PM  

@chefwen: first Mother's Day without mine too; hubby made me chocolate chip-orange scones. Yum!

@Jim: classic Monty Python!

GLR 6:24 PM  


My Random House Webster's College Dictionary has an entry for risible (no final "s") as an adjective and an entry for risibility as a noun (which seems to fit the clue in the puzzle), but not a risibles in sight.

Regarding the 8 citations from the Times, it certainly appears that Richard Shepard considers risibles "in the language." He probably thinks today's puzzle is just great.

mac 6:53 PM  

@Jim: that MP clip was hilareous! Thank you!

Risible was no problem for me; it was the plural that was odd. I even started thinking a vowel could be risible! Autley sounds just fine.

Had a taste of barbecued riblets yesterday; today it's a bit of short ribs from the freezer and asparagus. Mother's Day Dinner will be at Il Mulino on Wednesday, when both guys are back. Had a nice surprise: an orchid and a package from a nice clothing store, waiting for me in the kitchen, after poor husband left the house at 5.30 on his way to London....

jberg 7:23 PM  

Can't argue with Martin's citations, but I would have sworn that if RISIBLES is a word, it still doesn't mean sense of humor. I would have guessed it meant "funny things." It must be a back formation from risible (which can mean either 'funny' or 'pitifully laughable' -- same root as derisory, right?). I got it, but didn't like it.

Generally, just way too many obscure names. I finally had to search for a couple of them in order to finish.

I remember when radial tires were the hot new thing, so the concept of a bias tire was fine - but still thought it was clued badly. BIAS TIRES are an alternative to RADIAL TIRES. The alternative to RADIALS tout court ought to be Biases, or bias ply, bias plied, or something of that sort. (No one ever said "biases" in that context, though.

Yet another in the series of euphemistic oaths at 128A. Today we get euphemisms about sex and excrement, but back in the day it was the name of the Almighty that could not be said openly, since the Ten Commandments prohibit it.

Oh yes, the theme answers - LEFT RIGHTS does not make sense, socialists defend universal rights. I liked the other ones, though, and the three-way BAD-FAIR-GOODS was a nice tough.

PurpleGuy 8:09 PM  

@JenCT and @chefwen - first without my mom,too. I'm celebrating with what she would have wanted;
Moet & Chandon Champagne and caviar !!!!

The puzzle ?
I finished it ,but agree with all the comments so far.

Rex- thank you for another spot on write up.
RINSIBLES indeed !!!!!

Happy Mother's Day


miriam b 8:13 PM  

All you knitters out there will appreciate the fact that it takes some time to wind a skein of yarn into a ball if y9u have a SLOW SWIFT.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:36 PM  

@mac et al - In the chemical laboratory, to ash a sample is to place a precisely measured amount of a substance in a precisely weighed ceramic container, place it over a Bunsen burner in the presence of air until all the organic matter has been burned off, and re-weigh to determine the inorganic content.

KarenSampsonHudson 9:12 PM  

The singers/actors were mostly obscure to me. Risibles? What a joke! I did like the theme, but too many clues were too labored...producing too much labor on my part. It IS Mother's Day, after all:-).

william e emba 10:48 PM  

Come on everybody, where is the love?

Seriously, I don't get what all the bitching about RISIBLES is for. I was, like pretty much everyone else, only familiar with the adjective "risible". I made the logical deduction that it apparently can serve as a noun, meaning "joke", and that in the plural, it gets the sense of meaning joke-filled, as in "sense of humor".

I'm cool with that. It's part of what I enjoy about puzzles qua puzzles. Not just trivia, but mental wrestling with wordspace.

And yes, RISIBLES was my second to last fill, with BIAS TIRE coming in last. It certainly helped that I was into ESTES rockets as a kid.

The only time I do not like the puzzling aspect is when it is all wrong. This usually occurs when a scientific term is flat out clued incorrectly or incompetently, and the puzzling becomes "how would an idiot misinterpret XXX".

Rex: Merriam-Webster does not cite somebody because he is an authority, but because he provided a succinct and illustrative usage.

Bob K: I noticed long long ago that ISAO Aoki is a vowelagram: his first and last name have the same vowels. Since he's always clued with one of the names, the other is almost a gimme.

Pete 11:11 PM  

@Martin - Why I don't like learning new words? Here you go.

Starting about two weeks ago, one of the hosts of the morning drive time jock show I listen to started using the word 'illumine', e.g. "The complete inability of Phil Jackson to adapt to what the Mavericks were doing on defense illumines why he's not the greatest coach ever".

So, being a word lover, I looked it up to learn the exact context that illumines might be preferable to illuminates. (Actually, I'm a DB who was looking for verification that the guy was an idiot, but that doesn't really figure into my point here.) Seems dictionarys list illumines as a 'literary' form of illuminate.

So, I leared that illumines is a real word. One used exclusively by guys who subscribe to an Improve your Vocabulary program, and should be wiped of the face of the earth.

william e emba 11:28 PM  

Of course, I just had to look RISIBLES up.

According to OED2, it does not mean sense of humour at all, but the physical equipment that makes laughter possible! That is, your RISIBLES are your facial nerves and muscles that activate when you laugh. Well, haha me!

According to W2I, it means something close to a sense of humor, but not quite. It says it's actually a synonym for one meaning of "risibilities": a sense of the absurd and ridiculous. Well, haha me squared!

But as Rex quoted, the W3I thinks it means a sense of humor.

Of course, part of the difficulty of being a lexicographer is figuring out what meaning is implicit in obscure usages from long dead writers whom you can't actually ask. The examples they cite seem to not be quite so definitive.
Pete: so what? Some people mangle the language. Get over it. Some people don't.

One of my favorite authors has long been Michael Brodsky (author of Xman, ***, Dyad, and more) who can only be read with three unabridged dictionaries and a notebook at your side.

efrex 11:37 PM  

I liked BAD FAIR GOODS and a couple of the theme entries, but the sheer amount of prefixes, suffixes, crosswordese, and obscure names made for a real slog. Ended with Naticks at HESS/ABAS and ORY/DRYDEN; about standard for a Sunday puzzle for me, but not at all pleasurable.

Pete 11:39 PM  

@WEB - The point was, some words aren't worth knowing.

Ben 1:43 AM  

I take it you didn't live in Denver in the mid-90's. There was a series of television ads for the Nuggets in which Mutombo would wag his finger and, in his fabulous fabulous deep monotone, say "Man cannot fly... in the House of Mutombo." That's what he uttered.

chefwen 3:04 AM  

@JenCT and @PurpleGuy - I thought of you both as I typed my comment earlier. I bet both Jen and I were wishing we were with you to honor our Mothers, I don't know about Jen, but I LOVE caviar. All I had was a glass of Rombauer Chardonnay, but that was good too.

BigSteve46 9:26 AM  

Bravo CROSSWORD COMMITTEE commenter! Far worse than "risibles" which was at least inferrable and solvable by reasonable crosses - was the whole DRYDEN/ELUL/DIDO/JOSIE/ELISHA? area. These were obscurities crossing obscurities (not DRYDEN) which I consider a x-word no-no. Failing grade to the constructor of this one.

mac 8:37 PM  

Pete: you need a "like" button below your comments....

Mary in Bend, OR 3:22 PM  

Michael Nouri is a good actor, currently playing an officer in the Mossad on NCIS, and a businessman on All My Children! (Don't judge!) I thought the opposites puns throughout the puzzle were very funny, but it did take me one hour to complete.

Dirigonzo 4:14 PM  

No ACME today (he said one week later, from syndication-land)? I thought of her when I had EGADS at 109d, where it was wrong, before it showed up again at 128a, where it was right. Doesn't she have a word for that?

miriam b 4:36 PM  

@Dirigonzo: That's a malapop.

Dirigonzo 5:00 PM  

@miriam b - thank you, I thought it was something like that. I think it's great when prime-timers take the time to reply to posts from syndication solvers one or five weeks later.

Stephen 11:58 PM  

Well, I see that no one here wanted to whine about TBARS (Towers in the high country). I actually considered TBARS, but since it did not fit the clue, I refused to put it in. The T-bar is the thing you put your fanny on; the tower is the thing that they sling the cable over. The clue is looney.

That, crossed with RIBLET (gag!) and that, crossed with a name I never knew (TREBEK) gave me serious obstacles for days. Did not want to give up. Am so glad I did. Not believing there could possible be a K at the end of "famouis answer giver" meant I was never to get ARK (animal shelter). The only thing I can say for this sequence of yuck is that I now at least *like* the clue for ARK.

The theme density was striking. I liked them all. But I don't like not finishing.

Stephen 12:01 AM  

My understanding of the ECG/EKC weirdness is that the medics prefer using the German form (with the hard K) because it is phonetically much easier to distinguish from EEG (ElectroEncephaloGram).

Yeti 6:24 AM  

@Stephen - The TOWERS which are T BARS are ski lifts which TOW (pronounced TOE) one up the hill. Previous discussions (and there have been many) of this clue/answer set have focused on the fact that, fortunately, T BARS have become very much less common.

Most crossword solvers are familiar with Jeopardy! and its current long-time host Alex Trebek!

smacker 7:06 PM  

one of my pet peeves with this puzzle (and there was more than one): simians are apes; they are never monkeys. i refused to put in "monkeys" because it's just wrong/incorrect.

i don't mind the use of "risible"; it is a word i'm familiar with. i think it was used incorrectly in this puzzle, though, and that's irritating.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Sorry to comment on such an old puzzle, but I'm surprised Rex nor anyone else had anything to say about 105A - Eastern wrap. Does wrap refer to clothing? Certainly the correct answer OBI does not refer to clothing in any dictionary I have. Obi or obeah refers to sorcery. If the clue was Eastern rap, I could see the answer being obi

Dirigonzo 2:24 PM  

@Anony 11:24:
Obi (帯, おび, , literally "sash"?) is a sash for traditional Japanese dress, keikogi worn for Japanese martial arts, and a part of kimono outfits - Wikipedia

I don't rely on wiki for anything important, but I think it's good enough for this. "Obi" as a wrap shows up a lot.

CarolOfPasadenaCA 11:55 PM  

Yipes! Egads! Sorry for this late entry. I'm new to this group, but have been a voyeuristic fan for a long time. Found this torn-out x-word folded up in a book, so did it two days ago on the plane. Can someone explain "goer" for 43A "Convention conclusion?" ?? Also, everybody seems to know what "captcha" is except me. Happy Merry to all!

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