Oka River citiy / WED 1-11-12 / Five-time All-Star second baseman Chase / Mecca for oenophiles / Toy consisting of 80 feet of wire

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Constructor: Chuck Deodene

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: HATCH CHECK — "CH" is added to end of "-AT" word in familiar expressions, creating wacky expressions, which are clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: Chase UTLEY (52D: Five-time All-Star second baseman Chase ___) —
Chase Cameron Utley [...] is a second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball. A native of the Greater Los Angeles area, he was raised in the city of Long Beach. He was a star baseball player at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, before moving on to UCLA. He now currently plays for the Philadelphia Phillies as a second basemen. (wikipedia)
• • •

Simple add-some-letters theme with no revealer—not very impressive, but you do get one great theme answer (BATCH OUT OF HELL), which is often as much as you can expect from this type of theme. I'm kind of mesmerized by this grid, specifically by how its middle is chock full of theme squares but with black squares placed so artfully that the theme answers don't seem to crowd each other or create any complications at all. And it's not like this grid has an excessive number of black squares (40 is a little high, but not distractingly so). The grid's not even at the maximum word count (the max is 78—this one's 76). It takes some care to get a 14/15/14 progression of theme answers to come out well, with a nice light touch and no real strain on the fill. Fill-wise, there's nothing spectacular, but only -ITES is really irksome. The rest is very solid (though I could do without the ORAL / OREL pairing). So the puzzle is skillfully made, if not scintillating.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Fabric store employees? (SWATCH TEAM)
  • 23A: Repair for a torn pullover? (PATCH ON THE BACK) 
  • 35A: Attend a tennis tournament because one is a fan of? (GO TO THE MATCH FOR)—this wins the award for Most Awkwardly Phrased Clue Of All Time. Why not just [Support by attending a tennis tournament]?
  • 50A: Cookies baked by Satan? (BATCH OUT OF HELL)
  • 59A: Arrest made on a side street? (ALLEY CATCH)
I made pretty good time through this one, with my one and only big holdup coming at 54D: Sidestep (EVADE). I had the "V," which is about the least helpful letter to have with that clue. I wrote in AVERT. When that proved wrong, I could think only of AVOID. Bah. Annoying to get held up by something so rudimentary. Got COLD CASES pretty easily, but not sure why the investigations are "Dead-ended" as opposed to "Dead-end." Maybe because they hit a dead end ... in the past? I think that still means they are "dead-end" in the present, but whatever. Interesting to see OKA in a clue here today (39D: Oka River city => OREL) after it featured so prominently in my write-up of that disastrous Friday puzzle. Did not know that a [Young termite, e.g.] was called a NYMPH. Very incongruous with the images of NYMPHs that dance in my head (from time to time). Broadway clue looked impossible to me until it wasn't (3D: 2005 Broadway hit based on a 1974 film => "SPAMALOT"). My parents live reasonably close to NAPA, but I've never been (14A: Mecca for oenophiles). Do they still make the SLINKY (13D: Toy consisting of 80 feet of wire)? It's fun for a girl and a boy. It's fun for a girl and a boy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:04 AM  

Evil Doug,

When the 1959 Green Bay Packers lost the NFL Championship to the Philadelphia Eagles (the last time a player play both offense - center – and defense – linebacker: Chuck Bednarik of the Eagles) Lombardi yelled at his team afterwards, telling them that they will not lose another championship game again. And they didn’t as long as he was their coach.

I do not want to see you prostrating yourself again as you did yesterday. I vomited and it went all over the puzzle I hadn’t finished. So the rest of the day was a little messy….


Tobias Duncan 12:17 AM  

Come on now anon 12:04, lets not have this bleed over into day freakin three. We usually try to leave yesterdays business behind around here.

I liked this one, thought SWATCHTEAM was cool.A tad heavy on the sports again today but not horribly so and nothing that could be clued differently.Honestly I wish we could keep it at two per puzzle and maybe six per week.

Detour 12:27 AM  

A little slower than a normal Wed for me, but still smooth. Know nymphs from hubby's flyfishing and all the flys (and nymphs) he ties. Just introduced Monty Python & the Holy Grail (SPAMALOT) to the kids (8 & 10). They loved it except for the ending. And man, do they (the pythons) look young!
@Tita. Re the catboat sail you asked about last week. Could it be "Inland Cat". Their eblem is a black cat head with a red "I" across it. It is an inland lakes sailboat, but maybe someone dragged one out to the ocean?

Detour 12:31 AM  

And yes, they still make SLINKY. And kids still stretch and tangle them until they are unuseable.

santafefran 12:32 AM  

Fine Wed puzzle with fun theme phrases.

SPAMALOT had me in stitches; not being a Monty Python fan (yes, it's true) I was prepared for a slog, but loved it.

I liked USOC over GO TO THE MATCH FOR and ITES over SITE. Wanted TICS to be TIES....

More juxtapositions which I won't mention. dk? evil doug?

foodie 12:38 AM  

Rex, I like your observations about the design of the puzzle!

It helped a lot to know that Regel, the clue for ORION means foot, which immediately indicated that I was looking for a constellation named for a human-- ORION the hunter.

BATCH OUT OF HELL is really funny. I also liked ALLEY CATCH.

Some very fine fill, NYMPH, OP ART, DON'T BE SHY and SLINKY. Lots to like about this puzzle!

@Tobias Duncan, I agree with you. Yesterday was like watching mud wrestling-- entertaining in its own way but not sustainable.

Anonymous 12:48 AM  

@Tobias -- What can I say? I ran out of allowed comments yesterday and wanted to get it out of the way early today.

Besides, I thought this puzzle was a truncated Sunday and had nothing to say.

Have a nice day....


pk 12:53 AM  

Orion is the only constellation I know, so that was a gimme.

Batch Out of Hell just floored me. First theme answer, and I am still in shock. Or awe. Or something. Loved it. Just Playin'

Jeffrey 12:57 AM  

"But there ain't no Coup de Ville hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box." Nobody writes lyrics like Jim Steinman.

Larry I from L.A. 1:00 AM  

Maybe this isn't as unusual as it struck me today, but a lot of intriguing, sorta off-kilter fill (by my rough count, six answers ending with C and at least 11 ending with a vowel other than E).

Two demerits, however, for the top left and bottom right downs. Seems to me that ANS is essentially an abbreviation made up on the spot, and the less said about HRE (Holy Roman Empire, I presume?), the better. At least they were both gettable from fair crosses.

chefwen 1:08 AM  

After my celebratory lunch with a couple of friends (this is the beginning of Birthweek) I didn't think I would get through this one as quickly as I did but everything fell into place rather nicely. One write over at 8D RAT over Reb. It went a lot faster than my typing is going tonight.

Being a cat fancier ALLEY CATCH was my favorite, BATCH OUT OF HELL was pretty good also.

Thanks Mr. Deodene and Rex.

davko 1:08 AM  

A relative walk in the park, but tightly constructed and low on banality, with a nice mix of topics.

The nymph stage is not particular to termites, by the way, but to all insects, as well as some other invertebrates ( I know, some wag will say certain vertebrates, too, but let's not go there).

@anon I'm with Tobias. Whatever you think of the puzzle, no excuse for some off-topic rant. We're guests in this house, remember, so let's not trash the place.

Aromas Campy Mao-chaels 1:14 AM  

Synchronicity! Solving this puzzle while watching back to back COLDCASES!!!!

Got ALLEYCATCH from the crosses and thought that was a play on something, maybe CATCH ALL. Reverse the phrase then add EY?
Sometimes. It's hard to see the forest for the trees!

Once i finally got he was adding CH, the rest was a breeze and fun...and totally agree BATCHOUTOFHELL is brilliant.
I was stuck trying to get DEVIL in there.

Anyway, great puzzle!

I think you have that slightly backwards...Sundays are enlarged Wedensdays...that's a good thing, why so dismissive?

And, this ain't my style, but what is COCK over TUSH about?!?!?!

Unknown 1:42 AM  

I put 'devil's food cake' instead of batch out of hell until I realized the theme - most annoying that it had the right number of letters.

jae 2:33 AM  

Smooth easy Wed. I was going to say something about Meatloaf but Rex beat me to it.

@ chefwen -- Me too for REB to RAT.

r.alphbunker 2:37 AM  

What about O[CH] and [CH]IC? And [CH]uck Deodone?

retired_chemist 3:27 AM  

Hand up for REB, and for liking this puzzle and the theme. And for liking @foodie's comment about Rigel meaning "foot." Always good to learn something.

Finished with a (stupid) error: Made SYNC_ into SYNCH, never looked carefully to notice that the clue required a plural, wondered about "Getting to YEH," but left it.

NCAA before USOC, CST before NFC, TADS before DABS (which BARACK fixed for me), GLUM before DOUR, and BON Esprit before BEL. Made it kinda crunchy for a Wednesday here.

Thanks. Mr. Deodene.

Rudy Shankar 6:31 AM  

Loved this puzzle and the theme was revealed slowly to me. Expected 17a Clue to have a watch theme but perhaps that company is no more, as I did expect the Roger Federer's name to appear in the clue for 35a ( I would definetely go to the match for). But the most fascinating clue was for the belt of ORION. The star Rigel is a distant second to the stars surrounding the constellation and of course its foot. Going NW through Orion's belt is the giant Redstar Betelgeuse (not that Beetlejuice). Being 10 times bigger than Rigel (sort of like comparing Romney's and Santorum's polling margins), Big B is the red star to look for in that neighborhood. And it is about to explode, cosmologically speaking. I remember reading once that if big B were where the Sun is its periphery will be where the earth is... Theme for Melancholia 2?

So make peace fellas!

exaudio 6:44 AM  

A perfect Wednesday. Loved the theme, and several of the non-theme answers were fun too.

Z 6:54 AM  

@SantafeFran and @Aroma Campy Mao-chaels - what's next, Santorum in the puzzle? (Google it - but it won't pass the breakfast test)

Maybe the coffee hadn't kicked in, but I struggled to get going on this. Finished the SW first but couldn't get out of it. Then the NE fell, but again I couldn't get out. It was HIGH C forcing me to put in the U in LUC that gave me TUSH that finally opened up the rest of the grid. BATCH OUT OF HELL made the theme obvious and it was easy breezy from there.

Chase UTLEY was a gimme for me because the man he replaced at 2b in Philly starred for my Tigers for several years. We let him leave and haven't found a competent replacement, yet. Still, I wouldn't consider any second baseman famous enough to be puzzle worthy. They are the "city with a million residents" of baseball.

Otherwise - I really enjoyed this puzzle. It felt like the captcha game to me as i sussed out the themes.

AnnieD 7:29 AM  

This was a perfect Wed puzz. When I first started, i was like, uh oh. But made a few anchors on the grid and then the pieces fell into place nicely. Once I caught on to the theme it just kept going smoothly. And while I usually get tripped with the sports references, there weren't any naticks here for me.

I keep wanting MADRE after SIERRA but we just had LEONE recently so went with that.

I, like others, enjoyed the theme answers. And had my own moment when I had _ _ MPY in 15A and could only think BUMPY?!?

David 7:51 AM  

great entry from the Bat Out of Hell album liner notes:

"Lewd and lascivious effects - Jim Steinman"

Fun theme, got it early on at the bottom after typing ALLEY in quickly, then the CH, and then zoomed from bottom to top. Favorite theme answers were PATCHONTHEBACK and BATCHOUTOFHELL.

dk 7:53 AM  

Who can not love a puzzle with COCK, TUSH, LEG, ORAL HELL and ePEE in it! I have chortled coffee all over my keyboard. Thanks to the abundance of LSD in the last few puzzles I am enjoying the pretty colors.

Spelled CHIC as shic... what would you expect after reading the above. Otherwise a steady march to a solid conclusion. 35A was a little PESKY but predictable given the theme.

FULLSTOP was a phrase I heard often during my stint as Eurotrash, that fill brought back happy memories. ALLEYCATCH has me humming Brian Seltzer (Stray Cats) tunes.

*** (3 Stars) 80 feet of wire! Who GNU!

dk 7:55 AM  

Oh! Let us not forget NYMPH.
snicker, chortle and a little burp.

GILL I. 7:57 AM  

Well, madame contrarian here again. Can someone pass me the cranky pants? I think they're floating around back east somewhere.
I didn't dislike this puzzle, it was just confusing. The CH(s) were sort of tossed out there; no pattern nor reason just a nonsensical phrase with a CH hither and yon.
I like the word CAMPY because my Mom used to use that word when she tried to explain something she couldn't explain.

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

35A - awkward clue/awkward answer. They both end in a preposition.

jesser 8:51 AM  

With as much sexual innuendo as THIS puzzle carried, I think ALLEY CATCH does not refer to felines. Just saying.

Only writeover was OREm before OREL at 39D.

The NW was hardest for me, but SPAMALOT broke it open.

We who have worked a long time in my place of employment have a special place in our hearts for SLINKY, owing to the time a county commissioner broke down in tears during an open meeting explaining how, once a SLINKY is broken, it can never be rightly repaired. The story went on and on, and the tears fell and fell, and it turned into the world's most strained metaphor about (drum roll) morale among public-sector employees. Well, yes, Commissioner, comparing us to a broken SLINKY makes us feel so much better. And the tears? Good on ya!

I personally thought PART II was pretty ugly down California way, but no one else seems to mind, so ok.

Today is radio day. If anyone (Bueller?) cares to listen in, go to 101gold.com around 7:50 a.m. Mountain time.

I can't resist: Happy Hump Day!

Pete 9:05 AM  

Mornings are a difficult time for me, where I daily have to adjust my concept of what the world should be, with just a little work could be, as compared to what it actually is. One of my techniques in doing so is to seek out items of interest, noticeable things, sometimes beautiful things, and to cherish them in the, usually vain, hope that they will counter-balance the mountains of needless insults that are daily hurled upon us all.

Today, I shall have to content myself that I have lived to have experienced, as so many haven't, an archetype in life, that 35A is in fact "Awkwardly Phrased Clue Of All Time". If I don't give value to it's epic awkwordness, I'd just cry.

Loren Muse Smith 9:24 AM  

Confidently filling in NCAA, ARIES (is that even a constellation?) and AVOID, I managed to dig myself into a hole in three separate sections. Once I saw my mistakes, it was a quick fill. Having a Monty Python reference and MAO in the same puzzle, I was reminded of one of their skits:


jackj 9:26 AM  

Chuck Deodene has been contributing crosswords to the NY Times, in the Shortz era, since 1995 (this one appears after a 2 year hiatus) and reflecting on his past reputation, compared to today’s puzzle, this seems one of his lesser efforts.

The theme is simple, add CH (CHuck?) to common phrases and create unrelated, goofier phrases like “Fabric store employees?” for SWATchTEAM (Boo!) or BATchOUTOFHELL (Yea!) for “Cookies baked by Satan?”

There is some decent fill, especially the 9 letter entries of DONTBESHY and COLDCASES and some proper nouns which are fun for most but, no doubt, troubling for some, SLINKY, SPAMALOT, UTLEY and YURI.

One gets the impression that this one has been sitting in Will’s Wednesday pile for many moons and we probably shouldn’t be looking for a renaissance of Deodene’s in the future, unless Will and Chuck further team up to continue pushing the envelope with sexual double entendres.

Tobias Duncan 9:44 AM  

Check out the live link jesser put up.He just walked in the radio booth with the cutest puppy!
GO jesser!

JenCT 9:44 AM  

SPAMALOT took me a while; thought there were a lot of names: MAO, ARP, LUC, YURI, BARACK, OREL, UTLEY, though all gettable from crosses.

Mini-kitty theme? PAW, SLINKY, TALON, ALLEY CATCH.

chefbea 9:45 AM  

Thought the puzzle was great!! Got the theme right away. Knew someone would comment on cock etc!!!

Loved to play with slinky in my youth. Would start at the top of the stairs and watch it go down....all by itself.

archaeoprof 9:52 AM  


But can't most sopranos easily hit a HIGH C?

@Foodie: regel means "foot" in Hebrew, too, but with a very interesting connotation. When used of a male, it can refer to anything and everything in the male anatomy from the waist down. That's why the story in the book of Ruth is so interesting: Ruth uncovers the "feet" of Boaz. Highly suggestive, but don't tell the Baptists...

John V 10:00 AM  

Easy, save for 7 NW, which felt awkward. Solved with AcrossLite as raining like a bat out of hell. Dead trees, please.

Posting from my DroidX. Ugh.

retired_chemist 10:01 AM  

Just curious: Was that part of Ruth written in Hebrew or Aramaic? Or, is regel also foot (or whatever else) in Aramaic? All you Aramaic speakers out there.....

JC66 10:05 AM  

@ Z

I think you might have forgotten Jackie Robinson.

quilter1 10:06 AM  

I solved from the bottom up and once I got BATCHOUTOFHELL(so good) I rocked until I got to the NW. Once NAPA went in--I thought about the ubiquitous Asti--all became clear.

I baked a BATCHOUTOFHEaven Monday. Brown sugar butter cookies crammed with toasted hazelnuts, dark chocolate chips and dried Bing cherries from Trader Joe's. Also a batch of peanut butter blondies.

Drake beat Bradley last night in a really weird game, but hey, a win is a win. Go Bulldogs.

Tita 10:15 AM  

@Detour...alas, no...mine had the more traditional gaff-rig with a long boom. And while I like Inland Cat's logo, imagine just the top 1/3 of that cat's silhoutted head...
But I appreciate the thought - thanks.

@Foodie - thanks for Regel=Foot!! I love astronomy, and while I knew that most heavenly object names are from the Arabic, never knew their meanings. I knew Rigel was in Orion, but now I know why!

@loren - yes, it is a constellation., and even one with a foot, though it be cloven...(it's a ram).

@JenCT - thx for pointing out the kitty theme...

Liked this puzzle - all the things y'all have said.

Can't resist this capha report..."quilyclu" - clue for a porcupine-themed puzzle?

efrex 10:18 AM  

The sheer brilliance of BATCHOUTOFHELL makes up for a lot of sub-optimal fill in my book. Not a lot to add, except to make sure that everyone here knows that I did not let out a puerile guffaw at the proximate COCK and TUSH; nope, not I...

archaeoprof 10:23 AM  

@ret-chem: the oldest text of Ruth is in Hebrew.

They're both Semitic languages, so there is a lot of overlap between Hebrew and Arabic.

Two Ponies 10:34 AM  

Great puzzle.
My first notion for "muscular jerks" was some dumb jock insult.
Having study instead of stuff and the damned baseball player I've (of course) never heard of made Batch out of Hell hard to see but what fun when I did.
@ Pete, Thanks for your poetic post.

KRMunson 10:40 AM  

Am I the only person who had trouble with "Swatch Team"? It was my last theme answer and I was thinking of all the "short A" sounding words, like "clatch" and "hatch". Swatch just didn't seem to fit.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:45 AM  

As I worked this puzzle, I recognized it for what it is: A shout-out to (my ancestral home of) Switzerland, with the CH added representing the vehicle tags one sees on the roads of Europe. (CH stands for Confederatio Helvetica.)

retired_chemist 10:45 AM  

@archaeoprof - Thanks! Inquiring minds....

GenJoneser 10:51 AM  

@Crosscan Well put! Steinman is the man when it comes to lyrics. "And we're glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife" You have to look at life through a unique eye to include that phrase in what is essentially a teenage love song.

And let's not forget Meatloaf's delivery and interpretation. He turned out to be quite an actor in film as well.

Thanks @David for that liner note. You sent me straight to my vinyl collection. Amazing I didn't wear out the grooves on that album. Truth be told...had "Bat Out Of Hell" on 8 track first. My Dad ordered it through one of those clubs they used to have. Anyone remember those annoying track changes in the middle of the song? On BOOH there was one during "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth" that I can still hear. Drum beat fading out, track changes and then drums fading up again. Ah the good old bad old days.

Masked and Anonymous 11:20 AM  

Liked just about every single thing in this puz.
thUmbsUp, Chuck.

- Row 9. After yesterday's U-void, it was a batch out of heaven, for old M&A.

- The me. It was Phi Beta Capcha calibre. Gotta be a good reveal idea out there somewhere, waiting to be chipped in... CCHPOUNDER or CANDHSUGAR is all I got, and that don't quite get it.

- PARTII (sorry, @jesser). It's like you're bearing personal witness to the constructor wiggling his sorry ass out of a tough-fill corner. Ditto on ITES, down there. Har. Just entertainin'.

- NYMPH. No vowels in there. Unless you're into "sometimes". It's so...

David 11:25 AM  

I was 11 years old when I bought that album for my mother for her B-day. Loved the cover art, the songs, everything, even more than she did. When I read those liner notes I was mystified, and went running to the dictionary to look up lewd and lascivious (though I had an inkling). "Oooooohhhh, now I get it".

Noam D. Elkies 11:34 AM  

Yes, a straightforward but well-crafted Wednesday puzzle, with some nice supporting mid-length words and little cr*p (I'm looking at you, WOTD 52D:FUTLEY).

Anyone else sidetracked by "sour" for 66A:DOUR? Seemed plausible working back from the SE corner...


retired_chemist 11:46 AM  

@ M&A - CH IN might work for a reveal....

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Agree that BATCHOUTOFHELL makes up for GOTOTHEMATCHFOR. all in all, I liked this puzzle, very easy for me, don't know why. Very few false starts..

North Beach 12:18 PM  

What does it say about my erstwhile college habits that Cram = STUDY? Nice misdirection.

eadderbo - cannibalize her boyfriend?

Noam D. Elkies 12:31 PM  

P.S. I like Rex's name "Hatch check" for the theme.

Thatch's all, folks,

syndy 12:34 PM  

I'd call this puzzle splightly.Playful(SPAMALOT)sparkly (OPALS)and SLINKY!35 across-clue and ans both torturous but amusing from this side.(is it SHORTZ or is it DEODENE?)betcha they were devil's food cookies

MikeM 12:47 PM  

I always thought 1978 was a great year for music: Bat Out of Hell, Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town and The Cars first album, Bob seger's Stranger in Town, Billy Joel's 52nd Street among others

Masked and Anonymous 12:51 PM  

The "CH in a..." Syndrome?

Two Ponies 1:29 PM  

Downton Abbey fans there is an article in this weeks Time about the castle and the real people that live there along with some nice photos.

Stan 1:35 PM  

Good punCHy theme. Nothing to kvetCH about here.

Welcome back, CHuck.

Lewis 1:45 PM  

@davco -- excellent post, and I agree

I was naticked at the end of LU_ , as I didn't know Besson's first name, and the soprano's feat of high... what? G? A? B? D? E? I did guess right, though.

Lewis 1:45 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JenCT 2:40 PM  

@MikeM: you forgot "Macho Man" by the Village People...

donkos 2:54 PM  

@foodie -- thanks --
It helped a lot to know that Rigel, the clue for ORION means foot, which immediately indicated that I was looking for a constellation named for a human-- ORION the hunter.

These are the types of posts that I find most useful - definitions or clarifications that will help me remember a word or clue for future puzzles.

While I don't mind being entertained by a posting, the real value is learning stuff that will make me a better solver - I still haven't completed even a Monday anywhere near as fast as @Rex's time.

Sparky 3:10 PM  

Thanks @Tobias. I liked the GNU grazing in the middle. Last night the planetarium show discussed ORION and named all the stars. Came in handy. Had OfTOHELL before I figured it OUT.

Pleasant puzzle. Thanks CHuck.

Ulrich 3:12 PM  

A game of inches!

Mr. Benson 3:28 PM  

I checked out this blog expecting to see some harsh criticism of the SW corner, with PARTII next to ETCETC, crossing ITES sitting on top of its anagram SITE. That didn't bug anyone else?

sanfranman59 4:02 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Wed 11:18, 11:50, 0.96, 42%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:11, 5:52, 1.05, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

Cripes! Since I was 100% certain that dour is not a word while sour clearly is... I ended up with evase (which I was 110% sure wasn't a word). What can I say? I'm a jackass.

foodie 6:25 PM  

@Archaeoprof et al, actually even in Arabic, Regel can have the broader connotation of "appendage", not usually a sexual organ, but something like legs. As I was posting last night, I hesitated whether to say foot or leg, and decided that foot was more precise. But you can say for instance "Regel el-Tawleh", which would indicate the leg of the table.

And speaking of body parts in Orion, the other bright star, Betelgeuse, has an interesting naming history. I kept having trouble parsing that name. My husband said that it had to do with armpit (again in Arabic) and I could sort of make myself believe with some allowances. But I recently found in the free dictionary an explanation that I buy a lot more, from the linguistic standpoint:

"The history of the curious star name Betelgeuse is a good example of how scholarly errors can creep into language. The story starts with the pre-Islamic Arabic astronomers, who called the star yad al-jawz', "hand of the jawz'." The jawz' was their name for the constellation Gemini. After Greek astronomy became known to the Arabs, the word came to be applied to the constellation Orion as well. Some centuries later, when scribes writing in Medieval Latin tried to render the word, they misread the y as a b (the two corresponding Arabic letters are very similar when used as the first letter in a word), leading to the Medieval Latin form Bedalgeuze. In the Renaissance, another set of scholars trying to figure out the name interpreted the first syllable bed- as being derived from a putative Arabic word "bat" meaning "armpit." ... the error stuck, and the resultant etymologically "improved" spelling Betelgeuse was borrowed into French as Bételgeuse, whence English Betelgeuse.

Adam Woods 6:43 PM  

Disadvantage to using 2Across on your phone to solve these things is not seeing the theme(s) except on Sunday.

With HATCH CHECK not only would I have had less consternation with PATCH ON THE BACK which had been PAINT IN THE NECK for the longest (silly me), but I would have also been totally charmed by NYMPH especially if the clue had been more connected to flyfishing like "Little Bugs for Anglers" since HATCH CHECK means, essentially, How to Win at Flyfishing.

Anonymous 6:55 PM  

I stayed away for the day and am now back. There is a noticeable absence.

@Acme, That's why I like you, so positive, so enlightening. You are absolutely right, Sundays can be viewed as a larger version of Wednesday (or Monday or Tuesday or Thursday). But I was only talking about this particular puzzle and it seems like a truncated Sunday. What's wrong with being truncated? Why is that negative or bad? My classic comics were truncated versions of the real book. I like truncated. Brevity is always better. That's why I truncated my reply (you should have seen how I really felt)....

Captcha: reade


Jes Wondrin' 6:59 PM  

You know how when, after taking a dump, a dog will scratch at the ground. Why isnt' there a term for that?

Anonymous 7:00 PM  

Earlier this week, the commenters here roundly condemned Evil Doug for his salaciousness. Today, he refrained; and in his place, folks are falling all over themselves giggling about cock, tush, and leg.
Come on back Evil Doug, save us from the amateurs.

"Honi qui mal y pense"

Rudy Shankar 7:28 PM  

@foodie Origins of Red Giant Betelgeuse star in Orion

Thanks much for the etymology of the word! I wonder if astronomy had a special place with Arabs who could watch the sky in relatively arid conditions. Big B has fascinated me for its relative proximity to our Solar System and how it may spell the fate of our own Sun several billion years from now

retired_chemist 7:44 PM  

What @Rudy said. Always fun to learn. Thanks, @foodie!

Noam D. Elkies 7:44 PM  

@Anon 5:56 — while I happen to know the word "dour", your not knowing it and guessing sour/evase doesn't make you a jackass; "evase" is a plausible back-formation from "evasive". Still, most -sive words correspond to -de verbs: abrade, collude, conclude/exclude, corrode, decide, deride, (d)elude, dissuade/persuade, explode, intrude/portrude, invade/pervade, seclude, etc. The only exceptions I can find are "abuse", and "incisive" which corresponds to the far-from-common "incise". Um, and adhere/cohere, but those don't end in -se either.


ArtLvr 8:30 PM  

@ foodie et al --Wow! I really enjoyed your discussion of the ancient roots and later twists of REGEL and Betelgeuse. With all the media coverage of political verbiage lately, my subconscious kept muttering "Nunc deMITTus"! Well, I had to google the rest. Nunc dimittis is Latin for “Now dismiss.” (These are the opening words of the Vulgate translation of the Song of Simeon, Luke 2:29–32 -- Now dismiss your servant, oh Lord... etc). It'll be a looong stretch to November elections!

ArtLvr 9:00 PM  

p.s. Do catch The Ed Show tonight on MSNBC if you can, as he reads the children's classic "Goodnight Moon" updated to "Goodnight, Mitt". Also see:


andreach carlach michchaels 9:31 PM  

@foodie, @nde, et al
I don't know if this is related, but it was weird when I lived in Greece that the word podia seemed to mean both leg and foot, as if they didn't distinguish between those two parts...
and it's always amused me that fingers and toes are usually the same word in other languages, they are the "digits" of either the hand or the foot, but the idea of foot fingers and hand toes makes me giggle.

Somewhere, I'll see if I can find it (or someone more adept can) there is a YouTube of Neil deGrasse Tyson explaining how all the stars are named in Arabic, bec whoever discovers gets to name...and how it's terrible that the space program here is being cutback, not properly funded, etc. bec then we can't name new discoveries, etc.
We argued about it a bit bec to me it hovered between being fascinating etymologically/historically but in present context seemed mildly anti-semitic (against Arabs, that is).

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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, 6:50, 0.88, 7%, Easy (9th fastest median solve time of 133 Monday puzzles)
Tue 8:16, 8:52, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:27, 11:50, 0.97, 44%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:18, 3:40, 0.90, 9%, Easy
Tue 4:21, 4:34, 0.95, 40%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:59, 5:52, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Someone more adpeth than Andrea 12:41 AM  

Here it is.

Acme 2:48 AM  

Thank you for finding it, what you posted is a 4 min version of the ten minute one that is listed right on the side where he shows images from 9/11 to stir the crowd unnecessarily to sort of show where muslims are now as opposed to 1000 years ago scientifically, it's that part i thought gratuitous, but the video you posted starts right afterward.
In any case, he's usually pretty fascinating...and he is specifically talking about Arabs naming the stars.

chefwen 3:15 AM  

This is so far off the subject at hand (which is waaaay over my head) but I just have to mention to @Rudy that your avatar makes me want to smile and dance.

Scotty from Lothian 12:51 PM  

OCH? Not from any Friend of mine.
NORI - is a sushi related clue too easy?
This constructor went to too great off lengths to be obtuse or clever.
I hate any puzzle with Obama in any form. Categorically.

COCK over TUSH? Seriously?

Bob Kerfuffle 1:13 PM  

@ACME - Re your observation of "foot fingers and hand toes", I am reminded that the German word for "glove" is "Handschuh", or "hand shoe"!

Exterminator Portland OR 4:49 AM  

I say that your blog is awesome! Happy New Year!

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You've made my day! Thanks again
Dingo Men's Choppers Western Shoe

Dirigonzo 5:46 PM  

From the syndicate, my drag revue (15a) was vAMPY before it was CAMPY, and I needed all of the crosses to produce the WOD but hey - that's why it's a crossword puzzle, right?

I lived in Germany for 3 years (a long time ago) and while I knew the cars with CH stickers were from Switzerland I did not know until today what the CH stands for. Thank's for that tidbit @Bob Kerfuffle.

Anonymous 6:24 PM  

Completed while standing in line for Pliny The Younger.

Only one misstep: my walk-on was waiting for the CUt, to see if he made the football team. I didn't really like the clue for that answer, and that should have been the tip off to look for another answer.

Happy birthday to me, five weeks ago. Will have to treat myself to a Sierra ______ tonight.

Dirigonzo 6:35 PM  

@anony 6:24pm - What a great birthday - 1/11 (3 aces!). Happy birthday 5 weeks ago.

Prune 4:21 PM  

I found the theme worth doing, if a bit pedantic. The 15-letter answer detracted, due to the incredibly awkward clue -- nearly required by the phrase itself. Perhaps "support to no end"?

As a psyche minor and counselor, I put my fandom back into my wallet with the inappropriate clue for DONT BE SHY. It suggests that the constructor didn't bother to look up the denotations and connotations of introversion, instead promulgating a common, harmful stereotype.

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