Title on certain language videos / THU 8-23-12 / Effrontery / Cafe alternative / Some World of Warcraft figures / It spent 5519 days in orbit / Locale of some Mayan ruins / Villain player Rocky III

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Constructor: Mark Feldman

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: LEARNING YIDDISH (40A: Title on certain language videos ... with a hint to entering six answers in this puzzle) — apparently there are such a thing as "LEARNING YIDDISH" videos (???); Yiddish, like Hebrew, is written right to left, so this grid has English words borrowed from Yiddish written out "backwards"

  • HAPZTUHC (17A: Effrontery)
  • PELHCS (20A: Lug)
  • ATNEY (33A: Gossip)
  • ZTULK (46A: Butterfingers)
  • ZTIBIK (56A: Offer unwanted advice)
  • EZOOMHCS (66A: Shoot the breeze)

Word of the Day: ROADEO (45A: Competition for truckers) —
n. a competition, usually held annually, for professional truckdrivers testing driving skill.
• • •

I got that the words derived from Yiddish were going backwards, but LEARNING YIDDISH and its clue ("certain language videos"?) meant nothing to me. Don't know what these videos are. Presumably they are videos to help one learn Yiddish. I had to infer that the backwardsness of the answers had something to do with Yiddish's being written (like Hebrew) right-to-left. Turns out, I was right. That's the rationale. So what we have here, essentially are English words that everyone knows (no LEARNING YIDDISH actually required) written backwards. Alright then. And for some reason this was worth breaking the upper limit on word-count (this is an 80-worder—max is 78; I've seen that limit broken on a 15x15 only once to my recollection).

This just wasn't for me.

I had two moments of stupidity, early and late, that kept me from a very fast time (the puzzle was pretty easy once you grasped the theme): I wrote in INRE for ENCL (7D: Abbr. on a business letter). So I had HAPZTUHR and thought "Why won't this be CHUTZPAH ... it's got most of the letters ... what the?). I was happy with MENI at 4A: Biblical word on a wall (MENE)—sounded close, in my head. So I fumbled a bit before figuring it all out. Then it was pretty smooth, fast sailing until, ironically, I got to 68A: Genre for Q-Tip (HIP-HOP). Q-Tip rapped for A Tribe Called Quest, a group that made what is probably my favorite album of the '90s: "The Low End Theory." So ... I know who he is. This did not keep me from imagining that the answer was some invented hybrid "genre" POP RAP or RAP POP. I think of HIP-HOP as a bigger cultural phenomenon (encompassing dance, fashion, politics, music, etc.) and "rap" as a musical genre within it, but I think HIP-HOP is valid as a "genre." I just dropped the ball.

Most of the fill is solid, if unremarkable. A little unpretty to have ASSESS and SSTS along the bottom edge (that's one big safety net of "S"s), not to mention PSST at the bottom of the eastern edge, just around the corner, but everything else is very familiar and relatively smooth (as it should be—80 words, dear lord). I like the clue on LAO—away from the typical geography clue, into tasty cuisine (44A: Cuisine whose staple food is sticky rice). I had no idea IMPS were in "World of Warcraft" (3D: Some World of Warcraft figures). I do know that MR. T was in "World of Warcraft" at some point (I remember the ads) (4D: Villain player in "Rocky III"). BELIZE is not a country I think of in relation to the Mayans, but the "Z" forced my hand (27D: Locale of some Mayan ruins). I don't think the clue on AHA applies unless you are a hammy detective portrayer (62D: Cry made with a raised index finger). THÉ is tea in French, just as "Café" is coffee (65D: Café alternative).

The end. Yo!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


JFC 12:30 AM  

Not sure why Rex did not like this puzzle, even after reading his blog. So I'm not sure why he didn't, except I think he has little tolerance toward gimmicks. I got the gimmick with SCHMOOZE. To celebrate I did not raise my index finger and say aha, but poured another vodka....


jae 12:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 12:39 AM  

Just what I want from a Thurs., clever, smooth and tricky.  Fairly easy after I caught the theme, but a lot of staring before that happened.  My guess is med.-tough.  Very nice Mr. Feldman!

My only non"WTF is going on" erasures were  rAZors for KAZOOS and changing the Y to I in LIS.

Iffy cross: OLIEN/PYTHON.  I considered a C but I think that's an acid.

Confession alert:

It's my experience that, for those of us solving with zero help, there are two ways to DNF.    The first is the DOH DNF.  This happens when you realize that you knew or should have known the correct answer and with a bit more effort/scrutiny/thought/checking you would have gotten it.  The second is the "you got me" DNF.  This is the Natick wrong guess, the WTF blank square, or the no way I can do this DNF.   I find my self reluctant to admit to the former mostly because I feel like an idiot.   I'm going to try to be more forthcoming about the DOHs.  So, my name is John and yesterday I had a DOH DNF.   ROHANN didn't look right so I googled it and, sure enough, nothing that made sense came up.  I went back to the grid, stared for about 5 secs., said DOH, and put in JOINED.  

Liz 12:48 AM  

Could someone explain the whole "natick" thing to us newbies? And the secret handshake?

retired_chemist 12:52 AM  

Very nice puzzle. Enjoyed the theme Got it at ZTULK when BELIZE was a gotta-be answer and I had LEARNINGY____ for the reveal. A double epiphany.

Two easily corrected writeovers, TOO-TOO @ 62A, STAT @ 58AS, balanced by three lucky guesses, LAO @ 44A, OLEIN @ 50A and ACRE @ 60D.

LYS/HYP-HOP would have been cool....

Thanks,Mr. Feldman.

chefwen 1:04 AM  

I loved this one. I can hear Grandma Sophie saying all of those wonderful words 17A was one of her favorites, 66A another.

Nice shout out to our beet loving chef at 57D and our "in house" EVENT planner @LMS at 28D.

@Liz - go to Rex's FAQ page, you will get a plethora of information, including NATICK.

JFC 1:23 AM  

@Liz - You can follow Chefwen, but you should know that she is a Packer fan and therefore highly unreliable. In this instance she might have a point but I would suggest to you that NATICK means anything you can't solve and you need an excuse because you are smarter than the constructor....


Scott 1:34 AM  

Only issue is you could just as well have SCHMOOSE/SEISE instead of SCHMOOZE/SEIZE. Both are acceptable alternative spellings.

Anoa Bob 1:59 AM  

Having made several excursions along "La Ruta Maya", I decided to focus on the mid-west's 27D "Locale of some Mayan ruins" to try to crack this one open.

Started with "Mexico" but finally switched to BELIZE which gave me ZTUR_ at 46A. WTF!? I had ENter at 30D. The big Aha! came when ENter became ENROL and the ZTUL_ could only be KLUTZ spelled backwards. Beautiful!

From there the rest of the solve was grin city all the way. Ton of fun. Thanks Mr. Feldman

Agenda Cimarron Mirs nee Eisenberg 2:16 AM  

My guess on the 80 words is because of the difficulty of having four Zs(!!!!) which were not arbitrary as they were part of the theme...
AND the whole backwards thing.
I'm guessing it explains the whole SST/ASSESS S-pileup.

I've admitted it before and will admit again, I only learned the 78 word rule after making puzzles for over 20 yrs! I feel it shouldn't matter, I'm still astonished anyone would notice
(or care...but people do care, so that's that)

But I've also known about 100 words in Yiddish, am Jewish and over 50, am not uneducated, and yet, I am learning with this puzzle that it was written from right to left!
Hebrew, yes, but Yiddish?
I think of Yiddish as more German with Hebrew words, not the other way around...
I've only seen Yiddish transliterated into English. I didn't realize it used the Hebrew alphabet!

(I've even compiled a list of the 200 or so Yiddish words acceptable in Scrabble...half of which are variations in Spelling, but to be honest @Scott, i don't think SCHMOOZE with an S is one, at least it's not acceptable in Scrabble.
(ohmygod, it IS good in Scrabble!). Wow, my life has just been upended!

So the whole thing made no sense to me...and yet, how can I not like a puzzle with SCHMOOZE, SCHLEP, KLUTZ, CHUTZPAH, YENTA, KIBITZ???!!!

What's not to like, nu?

Was ECHO was a REECHO of ECHO two days ago?
Is MIR from "oy vey iz MIR"?

syndy 2:53 AM  

Yes to INRE masking HAPZTUHC for a good long time but ZTUL? cleared the whole thing up.except for the HYPHOP! LIZ Natick is a city outside of Boston that no right thinking puzzle editor should expect us to know.unless crossed by very obvious answers we cry Foul! I am not a robot!

Jeremy Mercer 4:45 AM  

What's the rationale behind the 78 word limit? Does the grid become too clogged if there are more than 78 words? (I didn't find today's grid claustrophobic.) Is the rule official or unspoken? Any insights would be appreciated ...

Z 7:03 AM  

Is "meh" Yiddish?

@Liz- The Secret Handshake is secret.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 7:04 AM  

Do you know the importance of a SkyPager?

Milford 7:22 AM  

I liked the gimmick, but I didn't get the theme until I got the long, middle revealer (which was awkwardly worded, yes). MR. T, ERUPT and NO HELP had already made me doubtful of any word that had a TUH in it, and had my AHA with HAPZTUHC.

Pretty amazing to get all these Yiddish words into a grid, front or backwards, IMHO.

@jae - also thought that OLEIN/PYTHON was a potential Natick - first I had OLEIs and PYTHOs, but thought the N might better bet.

A mini shout-out (sort of) to my hometown Kalamazoo with AZO (airport code) and KAZOOS.

Four tries on the captcha. That never happens.

Joe The Juggler 7:32 AM  

Typo in the blog: Mr. T was in one of the Rocky movies, not "World of Warcraft".

Noam ד. Elkies 7:34 AM  

Neat puzzle - אַ דאַנק (Yiddish for "uoy knaht")!


Tom 7:40 AM  

Oy Vey!

Z 7:53 AM  

@joe the juggler - Mr T was one of those famous people in the WoW ads with their own WoW characters. No typo.

@Jeremy Mercer-The rules exist. I'm sure someone will come along and provide a link.

Glimmerglass 8:10 AM  

The Mayan ruin Alton Ha is in Belize -- not much there, no glyphs. I didn't know Yiddish was also right to left, so even when I had LEARNxxxYIDDISH, I was trying to make something clever, like Pig Yiddish (which would probably have been offensive to the observant). OIL, LAO, and NAOMI were very slow to emerge from the foggy atmosphere (I had no idea ARGON was more common than nitrogen). I'm much too old for hiphop, so I tried HyPHen for Q-Tip (it does have one, and LyS is correct). T-TOP saved me at last. This was a "challenging" puzzle for me, which is why I liked it.

John V 8:11 AM  

Neat gimmick --- that I never saw. Had a wrong letter here and there but did not see the right to left gimmick. I am quite sure I never new that about Yiddish. Good puzzle, not in my sweet spot, alas.

Milford 8:22 AM  

@Glimmerglass, the ARGON is .93% of the atmosphere. I think you may have missed the decimal point. You are right, it is mostly nitrogen and oxygen.

evil doug 8:24 AM  

Q: How do you say "f**k you" in Yiddish?
A: "Em tsurt."

Q: Cry made with a raised index finger and a raised ring finger?
A: "Read between the lines."

Wanted Sally Rand for the fan woman.

Liked what a speedster may do, something perhaps hidden, and buzzers that aren't bees.


dk 8:34 AM  

@chefwen, @JFC must of had a few to many vodkas -- Packer's fans unreliable - tsk, tsk! But his definition of Natick is spot on.

I suppose as @John V notes "a neat gimmick" and given the Yiddish and Hebrew words that have shown up lately, Golem yesterday, I should have been prepared.

Alas, as a WASP I was not prepared and I cry foul. I did not know the programing language either.

I now imagine Mark as a nebbish constructor rubbing his hands opining "bring me that girl and her dog."

I knew Andrea (my dove) would like this one. so here it goes: one star for the gimmick and one star because Andrea likes it. Take away one star for an obtuse theme and take a way another star as I can. That leaves us with

🌟🌟 (2 Stars) I want a puzzle where table manners, Lacoste shirts and Polo are woven into theme. I want my day in the sun.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

FYI: the famous 1996 election day puzzle was 80 words.


joho 8:52 AM  

All we need now is a SCHMEAR of cream cheese on a bagel!
I loved this one. Didn’t get the theme until KIBITZ … then gleefully went back and got the rest. I wasn’t crazy about the reveal but it didn’t matter because the backwards YIDDISH was so amusing.

Thanks, Mark Feldman, for a fun and fresh Thursday! Gotta love a puzzle with a sense of humor!

OldCarFudd 8:59 AM  

I have finally been to Natick! One more thing crossed off my bucket list. There's a phenomenal private World War II museum there, which I visited last month on an old car tour.

I enjoyed this puzzle and found it rather easy. For some reason (I'm a non-Jewish agnostic) I knew Yiddish was written right to left. Once I got chutzpah and schlep I knew I was dealing with Yiddish. That language has added marvellous color to English.

quilter1 9:07 AM  

@evil: I thought of Sally Rand first too.

jackj 9:10 AM  


No yiddisher kop here only a goy alter cocker who thinks this whole fershlugginer mishigas will create enough tsuris to make zaftig shiksas plotz and shaygetz mensches grepse.

Oy yoy-yoy, I’m all verklempt.**

And, “Ski-_____” DOOS???

For that one, Mark, may your loofah be laced with dung beetle shards!

** Comment not approved by IAYT (International Association of Yiddish Translators).

fruitypants 9:35 AM  

Thanks for the Low End Theory reminder!

"Not the best not the worst and occasionally I curse to get my
point across, so bust, the floss
As I go in betweeen, the grit and the dirt
Listen to the mission listen Miss as I do work"

So good!

Loren Muse Smith 9:35 AM  

Hand up for not knowing Yiddish was written from right to left.

@jae – I had “razors” first, too.

@Tita – another funny mistake.
Seeing the word “path,” I absent-mindedly filled in “arc” for “slalom path.” Unfortunately I stink at skiing, and my path has been known to be an “arc” when I hit an unexpected bump. Ouch.

Thought I had a malapop twice – “ever so” before ALL TOO and then “ever so” before EVEN SO.

I’ll forgive all the S’s because there’s a PYTHON rounding the corner of PSST, SSTS, and ASSESS.

Mr. T crossing CHUTZBAH and YENTA crossing GEISHA and SENSEI. Cool.

HIP HOP artist crossing KAZOOS – I can just picture whipping out his trusty KAZOO for a kicky little riff.

Nice one. A sheynem dank, Mr. Feldman!

chefbea 9:51 AM  

Great puzzle!! Got the theme at Kibitz but did not know python. Had rodeos instead of roadeo. DNF

Of course love the shout out at 57 down.

Carola 11:02 AM  

Ve-e-ery clever! Took me a while to catch on. Starting out, I got stuck up along the Canadian border - I was sure MENE had to be right, then wrote in and erased ENCL because of the problematic C. Stymied. Roamed. Finally, thanks to KAZOOS, I got ZTIBIK and ZTULK - so I thought the theme was "words spelled backwards that start with K and end with Z." EZOOMCHS proved that theory wrong but allowed me to get YIDDISH from the Y and then the rest. I liked the Biblical references - ELI, MENE and NAOMI.

@Acme - neat on noticing MIR! German (continuing from yesterday) would be "Weh mir!"
@chefwen - Go Pack!
@JFC - love your Natick definition.
@dk - and some Sperry Docksiders, too (sockless)? Or Bass Weejuns? :) (I'm thinking back to my dress-related culture shock when I went east to college.)

Thank you, Mark Feldman - very fun.

ksquare 11:14 AM  

@Z7:02 I never heard MEH from a Yiddish source but there is FEH, a word that defies translation but is close to Disagreeable or worse.

ksquare 11:17 AM  

Why do I keep getting the garbage can with my comments? I don't intend to delete them!

Barbarian 11:30 AM  

I dropped in a few of the easier answers, then saw "butterfingers" & wrote in "klutz". Then saw "Lug" & put in "schlep". Then hunted for more Yiddish & found "schmooze" & "kibitz". THEN tried the crossfill & was stymied!! Took me waaay too long to flip those answers. Waaay too long. Oy...

Sandy K 11:57 AM  

Kvelling as I got thru the whole megillah, but it wasn't bashert.
Was a bisel too careless- tsores with DENE instead of MENE.
This dein kopf left in DRT not MRT- Oi vai iz mir!

Mr.Feldman, you're a SHTNEM!

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Apparently @evil's 8-across isn't all that hidden. Your blog moniker well suits you.

As a Yiddish speaker here in Brooklyn, 2 nitpicks:
56A clue is just off. KIBITZ means to tease, or kid around (i.e. @evil may choose to save face and reply "I'm not anti-semitic, I was just kibitzing". Or not.)
Also, chutzpah is Hebrew, not yiddish.

Otherwise, a fine puzzle. Thanks, Mr. Feldman.

Sparky 12:06 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rex Parker 12:11 PM  

Why are there only 14 lines in a sonnet?

Rex Parker 12:13 PM  

And MAS, if you can do the 1996 puzzle, you can take 92 words for all I care. That thing was magic. This ... less so.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Walk-ons and Ski-doos ruined the whole experience for me. "He wouldn't actually put these godawful things in here-- oh, crap, he did."

Name plurals are bad enough. Isaos anybody? Completion plurals are worse AFAIAC.

I normally cringe when the theme involves a particular language or culture I'm not that familiar with, but I didn't with this one. Just like somebody noted above, I got the theme with Belize and ztulk, which allowed me to fill in "Learning Yiddish". The rest of the words were familiar.

r.alphbunker 12:22 PM  

I initially thought the programming language was Pascal instead of PYTHON and was ready to complain because Pascal is a dead language.

@jae re: correctness
In the 2010 ACPT tournament a contestant that made no mistakes but needed the time limit to finish each puzzle would have ended up 407th (out of 643) in the standings. I thought it would be higher. The first wrong square costs you 170 points so a contestant that took the time limit and finished with a single wrong square in each puzzle would have finished 501st.

Zen Master 12:23 PM  

"Why are there only 14 lines in a sonnet?" - A Koan I've never heard of?

All kidding aside, I've just typed 5 correct captchas in and it still won't take my post.

When the cosmos is giving you a hint, always take it. - Confuscious


Sparky 12:25 PM  

The light dawned when I saw HA__TU_C made sense backwards. Then I sought out the other theme words. I thought the first word of 40A might hint at the backwardsness but it was not to be. I, like others, did not know Yiddish printed R to L with Hebrew alphabet but I have only heard the words. Are there strict rules to spelling Yiddish? My take would have been Hutzbah. Like Gaelic, spellings seem to have a fashion that comes and goes.

Had inre before ORSO, ArcanA/AGENDA, LyS so never got HIPHOP. ROLEO, ROADEO, RODEO, who knew?

There was a movie on TV last night with both Teri Polo and Esai Morales. I did not hang around long enough to see if the music was by Yoko Ono or Yma Sumac.

But Who's Counting 12:37 PM  

This is the third 15x15 puzzle this year with 80 words.

JFC 12:54 PM  

@Chefwen - I sent you an email offering another bet that should be easy for you to win since I still feel guilty about taking your money last year. You will be pleased to know that my Chicago grandson (who is too young for Yiddish) has decided to be a Packer's fan just to irritate me. He takes after his great grandfather on his father's mother's side (my late father-in-law) who was a latent Packer's fan and became active to irritate me....


evil doug 1:13 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 1:19 PM  

"There was a movie on TV last night with both Teri Polo and Esai Morales. I did not hang around long enough to see if the music was by Yoko Ono or Yma Sumac."

Sparky! Good one!

Anonymous: I choose "Or not."
Father: Tell me your sins, my son.

Jerry: Well I should tell you that I'm Jewish.

Father: That's no sin.

Jerry: Oh good. Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about Dr. Whatley. I have a suspicion that he's converted to Judaism just for the jokes.

Father: And this offends you as a Jewish person.

Jerry: No, it offends me as a comedian.


Masked and Anonymo2Us 1:25 PM  


78-word limit isn't so much a rule as a guideline. A little like "parley" implies safety, in pirate movies.
Think it's kinda like "one-sixth of the grid can be black squares" and "black squares must be arranged symmetrically" rules. As Merl Reagle once observed, "Any goofball can make a crossword", if there ain't any rules enforced. I know that's kept the likes of me from makin' 'em, much.

Sorta like not puttin' yer grid answers in backwards every once in a while. Take ISAOS yesterday, e.g. Or OCAT in many other puzs. Guideline.

"LEARNING ___" rings fairly true to me, no matter what thing you put in there. Sorta like "ONE ___".

Now we come to the all-important "S" rule. SSS has been used 137 times. SSSS has showed up 16 times. Someone even got by with SSSSS, once. Makes ASSESS and SSTS look almost as good as ASSES and ELBOWS. Guideline.

As for today's little guideline bender, thUmbsUp. Any puz that has this much HAPZTUHC is KO by me.

Rube 1:25 PM  

Got LEARNINGYIDDISH early on, but not knowing it was written backwards didn't help with the theme answers. (??)

Hand up for LyS before LIS. Also had Nsf before NIH and url before DOT as well as a few spelling errors.

Never owned a Ski-DOO, but did have to give away my Sea-DOOS last week. They were two-stroke and are no longer allowed in National parks, such as Lake Powell where they were kept. Hopefully they will enjoy an extended life in Mexico, their new home.

I always enjoy a good, doable Thursday puzzle, no matter what our fearless leader says. Actually, I'm not sure that he did indeed not like this puzz.

acme 1:26 PM  

A few years ago, Rich Norris, editor of the LA Times puzzle, informed me (post publication) that one of my puzzles had 80 words.
It was in the days I was making puzzles by taking other grids and altering them here and there to fit my needs. It's still the way I'd recommend to start, but once I learned the rule (which I'm still not sure is written or highly suggested) I began to see why it's more elegant to have fewer.
It's just not necessarily a deal killer, nor are the "cheater" squares...it's a matter of elegance and visuals according to the taste of some editors.
On the other hand, some care about pangrams, circles, etc. some not. It's taste and not hard and fast rules to make grids sing more. It takes away from the enjoyment or not depending on the solver's taste as well.
Every puzzle is a collaboration of sorts between constructor, editor, solver...and in this day and age, blogger.

Note about yesterday, @Rex posted a "Babes in Toyland" video, this cool now-defunct all-girl rock and roll band from Minneapolis!
If you want to know more about them, my friend Neal Karlen wrote this fantastic book called "Babes in Toyland: The Making of a Rock and Roll Band".
What's funny is it is sitting on my shelf next to his as-yet UNREAD gift "The Story of Yiddish"!!!!!!!!
Looks like I gots some reading to do!

Someone also gave me a book of Yiddish curses
"If You Can't Say Anything Nice Say It In Yiddish" which is hysterical. Let me open the book at random:
"I will bury you in the ground, as though you were a treasure"
"May you have the juiciest goose- but no teeth, the best wine - but no sense of taste; the most beautiful wife - but be impotent."

By the way, the entire thing is written in Latin letters.
There are three columns: English, Yiddish and How You Say It.

Nowhere is there one written Hebrew character...
However, in the introduction it says, "It wasn't until the 16th Century that Yiddish became a written language. The language was written with Hebrew characters but vowels were added to make it easier to read. When you see Yiddish written today, you usually see it written in transliteration....In this book, I primarily use YIVO Yiddish transliteration which was developed by the YIVO Institute for Yiddish Research. There are other Yiddish transliterations, which is why you will see Yiddish words spelled differently sometimes, but the original Yiddish using Hebrew lettering is all the same."
(Written by Lita Epstein)

Anoa Bob 1:28 PM  

I read all the publishers' specifications, listed at cruciverb.com, several years ago when I decided to try my hand at construction.

Each gave do's and don't's, including max number of black squares and words (38 & 78 are the general standards), but also said these were guidelines that could be broken if circumstances of any given puzzle warranted it.

I've seen the 38/78 "rule" broken numerous times, sometimes thinking the puzzle's quality warranted it, other times not.

I look at what I would call a puzzle's "forgiveness factor". It's similar to what sociologists call "idiosyncrasy credit". Basically it means that the better, more valuable you are, the more you can get away with violating accepted standards before you get smacked down.

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle so that 40 words, Ski-DOOS, walk-ONS, AZO, NIH, ATL, etc., did not exceed the forgiveness factor. Your mileage may vary.

notsofast 1:35 PM  

40A should have read "HSIDDIYGNINRAEL' to early make this an elegant construct. Or maybe the whole puzzle could read right-to-left! Also noted TWO baseball references!!!

john 2:07 PM  

*Mark Feldman is a mensch & the kvetchers on this one don't belong in his or in my universe…if they liked it they'd be rooting for the Packers, nicht wahr??!?

Shalom, MF!!!!!!!!

More please!!!!!!


Anonymous 2:08 PM  

@notsofast - STUDYING YIDDISH is English, not Yiddish. We write English left to right, not right to left as Yiddish is written.

Anoa Bob 2:15 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anoa Bob 2:17 PM  

Make that "80 words", not "40".

andrea carla mishigas 2:19 PM  

@anoa bob
Exactly! "Guidelines"! "Idiosyncrasy factor!"
'Sides, 80 is double 40, more biblical!
I'm making a book of Jewish puzzles ("Who Nu?") and I want it to have 40 puzzles for that very reason!
(Maybe Mark Feldman/NYT will let me include this one?!)

GILL I. 2:24 PM  

I love the Yiddish language. The words are so much fun to say. My favorite is "farputst."
I got it at HAPZTUHC. Boy, I just knew it had to be chutzpah so I spent a ton of time trying to figure it out...Oh, it's backwards!
Once the theme got figured out, it was easy and amusing.

John G. 2:25 PM  

I liked this puzzle, except for the skort answer. I kept putting skirt and then falsely
resigned myself to the fact that schoomze was really schmoize in Yiddish. What is a skirt?

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

I would have written the last word in clue 40A as elzzup.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

@John G - A SKORT is a combination skirt /shorts. Skirt on the outside, shorts underneath for modesty.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:32 PM  

Apropos of nothing really, but all this talk about the number of words etc brought to mind The World's Worst Crossword.

Bird 3:50 PM  

That was a fun elzzup. Slow going at first with a few answers here and there, but as soon as I caught on it was off to the races. Thanks Mr. Feldman. I guess it would have been too much to ask that the revealer be right to left?

I liked the cluing for Q-Tip – kept trying to figure how COSMETICS would fit and if the Rebus was in play. Some stale fill (ATL, ISP & ESS), but there is more than enough freshness to make up for it. And as @lms already pointed out, all the ESSes in the grid let you know there is a PYTHON nearby. Handup for PASCAL before PYTHON.

And four Z’s in the puzzle!

Did Josephine Baker dance with fans?

Loren Muse Smith 3:55 PM  

Ok. So this is a good story that I’ve wanted to post but work has been too busy.

This past Monday, I began a new part-time job teaching a college level English grammar and composition class to ten inmates in a maximum security prison. I inferred from what a lot of them said that some would never be getting out. (One guy told me he was eligible for parole in the year 5000.)

At the beginning of class, I was chatting and getting to know them. I forgot what lead up to it, but one guy said something that made me say, “Touché.”

Then I said, “Hey, wanna see that word?” So I wrote it on the board and explained its meaning. I was pretending to fence, and this one guy said, “EPI.”

I said, “Huh?”

He said, “EPI. Ya know. That’s what you’re holding.” Then he nodded at the stack of the Monday Times puzzle I had brought with me in case I ran out of things to do. “I learned it from crosswords. E- P- E- E.”

I blinked, “Yes! E-P-E-E!”

Then he said, “SAR.” And I smiled and said, “And you never know if it’s TS”

and he finished, “or CZ.”

Then he rattled off EMIR, ULEE, and OLEO. I taught them the word crosswordese.

We did have a few minutes at the end of class, so I passed out “Rob C’s Monday Times puzzle. Four of the guys had never, ever done a crossword. We did a lot of it together, and I totally had’em.
I go every Monday night and plan to take the day’s puzzle. I'm not planning on solving them during class time, but I get there early, and maybe some will come early (they're allowed) to discuss the week's Monday puzzle.

I’ve dug up some tricky Thursdays for Mr. Epee; he blew through that Monday like it was nothing.

Sherriff Joe 4:03 PM  

@lms - Rehabilitation through crosswords. Amazing.

We need a puzzle themed aroung captchas. Grrrrr.

John V 4:03 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: Funny stuff with the worst puz! Had not seen it and thanks for sharing it. I solved it a bit under my normal Thursday time of 103 seconds. Just sayin'

Lewis 4:35 PM  

@loren -- great story, thanks for sharing.

Fun puzzle. It took a while to get a foothold, but patience yielded results. I did not like DOOS or ONS as there is no indication of plural in the clues.

r.alphbunker 4:38 PM  


Great story. A while ago I gave a talk at a programmer's meeting about converting from Java to Javascript. The example I used was the crossword puzzle program that I am working on.

I knew that a programmer from Mongolia would be in attendance so my opening slide was a puzzle that had the clue {Stop on the trans-Siberian railroad}. Since the answer, ULAN BATOR, is the capital of Mongolia, I figured that that the guy from Mongolia would get it.

But no, some young American in the back row got it. When I asked how he knew that, he said he learned it in some video game. I wish I'd asked him if he ever heard of Natick.

Sandy K 4:54 PM  


That was a great story! They are lucky to have you!

I used to teach in an inner-city school which sometimes felt like a max security prison...

You are not only talented, but brave. Good luck and thank you for sharing.

Hope to hear s'more!

Tita 5:01 PM  

So many comments, so little time.
@Bob K - is that puzzle actually solvable? Hilarious.

@lms - phenomenal story. Let us know how that progresses.
And thanks for noticing that hissing PYTHON (which I also thought was Pascal).

I'll need to update my Hall of Fame for sure, too - thx for offering up that sacrificial blooper.

Liked the puzzle, got theme after struggling with sT_LK, thinking there was an alt. sp, for BELIsE.

Funny - I wonder if the 18A clue had been "What a speeder may do", instead of "speedster", if that would have made it easier or not. For some reason, that was one of the last things I got, perhaps because I when I got ANY, I put in BY at the end, thinking some variation of fly by.

DNF, not knowing MRT, ELI, WoW, AZO, or CIMARRON.

Tita 5:06 PM  

Your comment days ago - about "rainando"...
Priceless! I love those insights into how languages evolve. One of my favorites in Portuguese is "Esteve muito frio e o lago esta freezado."
(It's been very cold and the lake is frozen.)

I must be out of practice posting here - needing lots of retries with capchas. Oy veh!)

Anonymous 5:12 PM  


Noticed you got in first with your comment this morning and yesterday...

Do you get a sense of accomplishment? I tried to get in first, but get my paper too late..

Your anon friend

GILL I. 5:40 PM  

@Loren: WOW! You go girl! I wonder what they would say if you asked them what "putzing" means?
@Tita: Hah...I just LOVE these. I finally got yesterday's - I'm a klutz fur ein that's for sure.

Chip Hilton 5:48 PM  

Misspelling CIMARRON (2 M's, 1 R) cost me a 100% puzzle and hid the obvious MRT from me. I enjoyed the theme greatly and thought it perfect for my favorite puzzle day of the week.

Carola 6:48 PM  

@Loren, I'm in awe, that's all. I hope you'll share more stories.

David Steinberg 7:00 PM  

Very clever puzzle today! Coincidentally, I wrote about a puzzle from the Maleska era with a similar theme yesterday at http://www.preshortzianpuzzleproject.com/

mitchs 7:04 PM  

@Loren: they're lucky to have you and so are we.

JFC 7:13 PM  

@Anon 5:12 PM - No. I had forgotten about the night before due to my short-term memory loss. But I was ready to comment and I know how much Rex looks forward to my comment. So what should I do? Wait for someone else to comment first? I think there was a period last year when I was first three days in a row, so I haven't broken my own record yet....


Bird 7:46 PM  

@Bob - I finally got a chance to check out that awful puzzle. Finished in record time. Not. Good chuckle though.

I'm placing a service desk request to Google to get rid of the captchas. I doubt anything will come of it, so we might have to matters into our own hands. Wow, 6 attempts. Maybe it's a conspiracy against Rex.

Anonymous 7:56 PM  


Do you know who's the all-time winner? I'm rooting for you to tie tonight and go for the win early Saturday!
It's almost like having Olympic fever again- can't wait to see if you go for the gold...and I'm sure Rex is waiting with baited breath!
: )
PS liked your natick exlanation too.

Z 8:05 PM  

@KSquare - If I have to explain the joke it must not be very funny. Oh well.

@RP 12:11 - I'm still waiting for the answer.

fyingsT - Is the captcha getting personal now? Maybe we can petition google to replace the funny letters with haiku in Yiddish. It would be just as easy to decipher.

JFC 8:14 PM  

@Z - I had that same question but then I said to myself if there were more or less it wouldn't be a sonnet. I think the better question is why are XWPs 15x15 squares? Never mind that not all are....


Google 8:24 PM  

this is a sonnet
or fifteen by fifteen cross
Yiddish Haiku nu

mac 8:26 PM  

Wow, this was a clever puzzle, whick I enjoyed and got fairly quickly with klutz, but the comments take the cake!

What a great group we have here. Loren, good for you! You may want to talk to Sfingi!

Thank you, MF.

Jim in NYC 8:35 PM  

A few years ago there was a puzzle where one of the answers was NATICK, a suburb of Boston, crossing with another word, which I don't remember. Some commenters said that Natick and the other word were so obscure that it was unfair to have them crossing. The rule then arose that henceforth two words should not cross unless both were gettable by at least 25% of the solving population.

Andrew Wyeth 8:43 PM  

@Jim in NYC and @Liz - N.C. WYETH. NATICK was clued by it's location in the Boston Marathon. I belief the language in the comment section that day was blue.

Jim in NYC 9:12 PM  

@Andrew & Liz, see Rex's FAQ section for the exact Natick Principle. Rex coined it in response to that puzzle.

I promise I am not a robot, but I find most of the Capchas completely illegible.

joho 9:40 PM  

Anybody else having a problem with Blogger? I can no longer sign in with email address and password. So I just check name and use joho but obviously no blue name or avatar.

@loren muse smith ... you are amazing. And where are you adorable parents?

Bernie M, #438273211. Attica NY 10:25 PM  

All of you people are such hypocrites, fawning all of LMS. Sure, it's a nice thing visit prison once a week to teach inmates grammar. Nice, but ultimately, no big deal.

Me, I got myself sent up deliberately, just so that I could teach the inmates about high finance. I do this 24x7, and will do so for the next 257 years.

My ultimate goal is to reduce recidivism among the criminals. With my instruction, they can do a few jobs, invest their money and live off their investments. I figure if I turn someone from a life of crime to someone who only uses crime for seed money, I can cut future criminal acts by my students by up to 80%.

Let's see LMS cut the recidivism rate by teaching her pupils the differences between transitive and intransitive verbs. Yeah, that'll make a big difference.

johnranta 10:45 PM  

I hatef this puzzle. First off, there are no spelling conventions for Yiddish. Kibbitz versus kibitz? For me it always had two "b"s. Shlep versus schlep? But who's to say? If the spelling is so imprecise, it's like you're making up words. Anyone can fake the spelling of yiddish to force fit a puzzle. Such meshhuganah. I mean mishuganah. Or is it mishugganah? And python is not a programming language. It's a scripting language. If you don't know the difference, then your clue for python should be something about snakes.

Sparky 11:23 PM  

Why thank you @ED. Gratifying to find someone reads my posts and appreciates my occasional little jests.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Wow, Bernie M. actually signed in. I'm impressed. I'll bet Mr. Ponzi himself would have made a good mentor. All of their tutees would become rich..........for a little while, anyway. Smells like an ED spoof to me.
Ron Diego

JayF 11:48 AM  

Would spellling "Yiddish" backwards at 40 across elevate or lower the quality of the elzzup?

Ginger 2:11 PM  

This puzzle ate my SKORTZ. Never got the gimmick, though I should have. I blame my impatience, I don't blame the puzzle. It is brilliant IMHO.

Spacecraft 3:08 PM  

Got stalled up top; couldn't make anything work (small wonder!), so went down with the gimme BEAS.KIBITZ fit in 56a--but the B was in the wrong place. Trying to figure out what went in 47d with a K, I looked at 46a. Wanted KLUTZ. Gee, two words starting with K and ending with Z. Theme? I had, fleetingly, considered CHUTZPAH for 17a--but the T didn't coincide with the MRT gimme. Then the whole thing smacked me all at once.

Already had GYI in the middle of 40a, and my very first annoyance had been that the H of gimme HALEY wasn't in the right place for SCHLEP. Of course: Yiddish--and so, sdrawckab! In a flash it was done.

I'd have to call this "challenging-easy" because it was a high hump to get over, but once over it the jig, as they say, was up.

I was mildly disappointed that all six of the themers didn't contain a Z; only four of them did. And for such a theme as this, sacrifices had to be made in the fill. Still, an enjoyable solve.

Capcha: cceeeks 13: Jason, where are you?

DMGrandma 3:15 PM  

Left some blanks in this one! Tho I got the backwards spelling bit, I figured it involved words with a "z". That left me wondering how ATNEY fit in, but there it was. My q-tips are non-vocal, and spelling ZTULc with a C meant I couldn't see KAZOO. Never got YIDDISH, too many crosses eluded me. HALE?. Ski what? My last programming languages were SPS, SOS, and Fortran IV, though I have heard of Java. Guess by now puzzles should have taught me SENSEI, but by that time I'd worn out my little gray cells.

Now to see if they'll let me solve the robot word!

Dirigonzo 4:02 PM  

What's Yiddish for, "I give up!"? I ultimately worked the grid down to two blank squares, where totally unknown (to me) names crossed theme answers and since I did not know that Yiddish is written backwards I did not catch the gimmick. Now it's ALLTOO obvious but I just never saw it. A wonderful puzzle spoiled by my own ineptness.

But there sure were a lots of "s"s.

Ellen S 6:20 PM  

Here I am posting a month after the puzzle, but what else to do? Pay for it online...just so I can be contemporaneous with the blog? Anyway, hand up here for Pascal. I knew it couldn't be, but I never heard of Python and I have used Pascal. The official Python site is headed "Python Programming Language", not "scripting language" so that's all right. But I didn't like ASAP for "Now!" -- ASAP can be a little later if "now" is not possible. And "Hey you!" Sounded like shouting. I put in PSST, but under protest.

rain forest 6:30 PM  

I loved this puzzle, and I got it. I didn't know that Yiddish is written backwards, but when I saw "gossip" and had the t before the n, I suddenly twigged, put in "yenta" which solved that section and then found "schlep" which I initially thought it had to be, but wasn't working. After that it was mostly smooth and enjoyable sledding. Who gives a rat's ass if there are 80 words. Big deal, when you can construct a puzzle that is so much fun.

Anonyrat 8:51 AM  

@lms 9:35 AM - Unfortunately, a kazoo is not what hip-hop "artists" are known for whipping out.
@RexParker 12:11 PM - Why does an elephant have four feet?

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP