1952 Brando title role / SUN 2-3-13 / Puppet of old TV / Paavo 1920s Finnish Olympic hero / Clockwork Orange hooligan / Insect's opening for air / French Champagne city / Potter's pedal / Language related to Tahitian / Either end of edge in graph theory / Familiarity breeds contempt children

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Constructor: Dan Schoenholz

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "A Whiff of Cologne" — long English words borrowed from German

Word of the Day: KAT Dennings (78A: Actress Dennings of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin") —
Kat Dennings (born Katherine Litwack;[1] June 13, 1986) is an American actress. Emerging with a role in an episode of the HBO dramedy series Sex and the City, Dennings has since appeared in the films The 40-Year-Old VirginBig Momma's House 2Charlie BartlettRaise Your VoiceThe House BunnyDefendorNick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, andThor. She also co-stars in the CBS television series 2 Broke Girls. (wikipedia)
• • •

Somebody's proud of his ethnic heritage. These long words make for an oddly and unexpectedly interesting puzzle framework. Pretty thin (there are only seven theme answers, only about half feel undomesticated / Germanic), but solid. The theme answers themselves are inherently interesting—i.e. if I saw any one of them in a regular old themeless grid, I'd probably be impressed. So thematically, no great shakes, but still fun to solve. Fill-wise, it's a very solid effort. BEERY is terrible (79A: Like many a fraternity party), but I'll chalk that up as a bonus German answer—hinting at the missing OKTOBERFEST, maybe. Otherwise, nary a groan from me, possibly because I barely had time to groan or emit other noises, as I absolutely torched this grid. Under 9 minutes?! That's nuts for a Sunday. I figured 1A: Pop-___ was TARTS, so I mentally wrote it in and then worked the Downs. Got all of them, immediately—a good sign that a puzzle's gonna roll over fairly easily. I forgot the exact spelling / pronunciation of NURMI (22D: Paavo ___, 1920s Finnish Olympic hero), so that was a minor issue, and the KAT / MITE / MINER section gave me a legitimate scare at the end, when I thought I might get flat-out stopped there at the finish line. But reason / process of elimination prevailed. Only word I'd absolutely never heard of was SPIRACLE (80A: Insect's opening for air), but the crosses made my ignorance practically irrelevant.

Theme answers:
  • 21A: Alternative to white (PUMPERNICKEL)
  • 102A: Low grade? (KINDERGARTEN)
  • 44D: Rapper? (POLTERGEIST) — probably the hardest of the theme answers for me to turn up—not surprising, given the clue's vagueness and "?"-ness.
  • 30D: It's a blessing (GESUNDHEIT)
  • 15D: Novel that focuses on character growth (BILDUNGSROMAN)
  • 46D: Forceful advance (BLITZKRIEG)
  • 50D: Informal social gathering (KAFFEEKLATSCH) 

I was quite fond of PIPE IN (18D: Import, as water or music) and UPRIVER (25A: Like St. Louis vis-à-vis New Orleans), as well as the clue on 1D: Alternatives to comb-overs (TOUPEES). Loved the quote used in the TWAIN clue (36A: Who said "Familiarity breeds contempt—and children"). The clue on ZAPATA (68A: 1952 Brando title role) might have taken me a while to get if it hadn't been for BLITZKRIEG. As it was, I had the "Z," so—piece of cake. The "Clockwork Orange" hooligan was much easier to get (ALEX), though I *still* want him to be an ALEC. Not sure why, but Kukla, Fran and OLLIE were the first thing that came to mind at 85A: Puppet of old TV. Lucky. I did not know REIMS was a [French Champagne city], but I am aware that it is a city that exists, so with the R--MS in place: easy. Took a while to get TREADLE (largely because of my aforementioned POLTERGEIST problems—once I had that "T," TREADLE was a cinch) (96A: Potter's pedal). As you can see, there really weren't a lot of big or interesting moments in this solve. Just your typical little snags and eventual workarounds.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Pete 12:15 AM  

BILDUNGSROMAN was kind of out there among the them answers. Heard/read about it first a week or so ago, never expect to hear/read/speak it again. Surprised I had to know it today.

Spelling was the main problem here, which are K's and which are C's. That and reading Peloponnesian but thinking Punic, and wondering which war they were talking about. Not that that detail would have made any difference.

jae 12:15 AM  

Mostly very easy for me too, although the middle and south east occasionally VEERed toward medium...SPIRICALE, EBERSOL, CUPOLA, PLIER, TILING... Ditto for the somewhat hairy MINER/MITE cross.

WOE that was a learning experience:  BILDUNGSROMAN.  Turns out I'm currently reading a novel that, so far,  seems to fit this genre:  Richard Ford's Canada.

Pretty solid but ho hum Sun.   Lacking both zip and chuckles.  But, BILDUNGSROMAN kinda made up for it.

paulsfo 12:16 AM  

I did get stuck for a while in SE, and had "riana" for LIANA (maybe I had "riata" in mind) but i agree. If *I* thought it was easy, then it was easy :)
I liked the "present-day personality" clue but, otherwise, could have gone for some more clever, witty, difficult cluing.

C. Ross Word 12:29 AM  

I agree with Rex that this was an easy, fun solve. I believe there was an 8th theme answer: REALPOLITIK. Other political fill: TRUMAN, TAFT, VOTE, ENACT, OBAMA. Nice puzzle from Dan Schoenholz!

JFC 12:30 AM  

"Otherwise, nary a groan from me, possibly because I barely had time to groan or emit other noises, as I absolutely torched this grid. Under 9 minutes?! That's nuts for a Sunday."

I'm going to sleep on that coment. Maybe when I wake up I will understand what that has to do with anything.

The puzzle was as flat as a stale glass of Beck's....


Brian B 1:17 AM  

Agree with C. Ross: REALPOLITIK is an eighth theme answer.

Rube 1:19 AM  

I put this puz into the category of computer generated with too many very obscure words: NURMI, AVEDON, BILDUNGSROMAN, and DAWG. Fortunately All except DAWG were easily gettable from crosses. I probably should have known DARLA, but didn't, so had 1 wrong square for a DNF.

Needless to say, it took me a whole lot longer than 9 minutes.

Two thumbs down.

Go Niners!

chefwen 2:13 AM  

Growing up with a Viennese father and Grandmother made this one very easy for me. 15D was my only ??? was not familiar with that novel.

My real screw up was at 10A as I kept reading the clue as SALON before SALOON and kept trying to think of something that kept running in a salon. Hair dryers, dyes, rinses??? Reread the the clue and had a major head slap. DOH, I'm sure I know a lot about bar tabs.

Had a great time with this Germanic puzzle. Thanks Herr Schoenholz.

If anyone didn't think about @Ulrich while solving this, please stand up.

Evan 2:15 AM  

I agree that this was easy -- except for one thing which completely doomed me: The fact that I've never, not once, ever heard the term KAFFEEKLATSCH. I assume it has to do with coffee, which a) I don't drink, and b) wouldn't have helped me with the -KLATSCH ending at all. Basically, a lack of experience in both the coffee-drinking and German language REALMs conspired against me to make the crossing answers there much more difficult to figure out than I expected them to be (THE CITY was really causing me problems; so was SPADED, where I had SEEDED; and so was MITE, where I had MOTE). To top that all off, I've never heard of the actress Dennings, so I was forced to pick between KAT and PAT. Went with the latter. And thus my horrible week of finishing with mistakes continues.

Some other observations:

1. The puzzle has 14 cheater squares -- seems like a lot for a Sunday. Doesn't really matter too much, but I can't help but wonder if at least two of them could have been excised from the grid.

2. Amazingly, this is the first time the word SULLEN has appeared as an answer in the NYT puzzle during the Will Shortz era. How does a common six-letter word with that many Scrabble-friendly letters not make it in there at least once during the last 19+ years?

3. GREEK right over BEERY seems apt -- but I can't say I've ever used the word BEERY before.

retired_chemist 2:30 AM  

Was anyone else looking for French theme words based on the French spelling of Köln? First to hit me wrong was 6A SALA, Spanish, then SOLEIL was OK (French). PUMPERNICKEL was a common English word like KINDERGARTEN. It wasn't until BILDUNGSROMAN I decided that Cologne was, after all, a German city and that "a Whiff of Köln" wouldn't have made sense. But I do think the title should have been more evocative of the German language.

The theme answers were good, the fill OK, but our Friday and Saturday puzzles spoiled me. This one is lacking in sparkle compared to them. A Nike puzzle - just do it.

They Yankees are apparently worried that 56A isn't producing enough 54A's anymore (at 38) to justify what they had to pay to get him out of Texas. I say, good. A constancy in my baseball fanhood has been a dislike of the Yankees - where I live has more or less determined whom I root for.

Danke schön, Herr Schoenholz.

Anschluss Karla Mitternachts 3:10 AM  

Herzlichen Gluckwunsch! (Or however you say "Congratulations!") to Dan Schoenholz.

No Schadenfreude here...

And yes, how can you not think about Ulrich!!!

By the way, Herr Ulrich Flemming has a fabulous self-published book called, "Wild Things in the German Language - They exist only in the Dictionary"

It's a charming book about words that don't have an equivalent in English and are all animal-related... with charming drawings.

It was born from his blog inspired by THIS blog, so you should check it out:

evil doug 4:33 AM  

Noah Beery Jr. had a regular part playing James Garner's dad on Rockford Files. Still in syndication, so as legitimate as, say, hip-hop producers or Kat Dennings....

Went to lots of frat parties, polished off plenty of kegs, suffered many bouts of beer flu---but never used nor heard the word 'beery' until this morning.

Evan: I think Americans bastardized KAFFEEKLATSCH into 'coffee clutch'.


jae 5:07 AM  

@ED -- (a) Are you now doing Sundays? It's too early to glomb one from the local Koffee Bucks.

(b) Much better clue for BEERY. Might have made this a tad tougher. Loved the "Rocky" character on one of the best PI shows to ever grace the tube. Just saw Angel reincarnated as a lawyer in the movie Arbitrage, worth a look. The only thing that comes close to Rockford these days is the much too infrequent Jesse Stone series.

evil doug 5:36 AM  

Nah, I just look at the solution, the handful of clues discussed, and go from there. Cluing is always key to me, so I don't get much of a feel for that on Sunday.

Hmmmmmmm....Fourbucks! It's coffee time!


YontifSadie 7:05 AM  

Wow, I can't believe that I'm the only person who really disliked this puzzle. Even after some needed googling I still had to drag myself through this one. I must still be suffering from post-delighted puzzle syndrome after last week's puzzle, which made this week's all the more depressing. Ugh.

OTD 7:22 AM  

Easy for a Sunday. Once I had the NW filled and found PUMPERNICKEL the theme was easy and able to get them with little trouble. As with Rex, the only fill I didn't know was SPIRACLE.

Danke, Mr. Schoenholz.

Mohair Sam 8:24 AM  

Fun theme, but way too easy. Not surprised a whiz like Rex got it in under 10 minutes.
We never heard of spiracle or bildungsroman but they filled quickly. I think too many of the 5+ letter fill was in the gimme category when checking just one cross (sparta, soleil, arkin, ebersol, truman, zapata, wyeth, greek, thecity, obama, and on and on).
And once you got the theme (we started with blitzkrieg) they all filled on a letter or three. Except our friend bildungsroman.

I like a tougher Sunday - Maybe this one just hit us in the sweet spot.

Smitty 8:33 AM  

Not easy for me - My time says med-challanging.
The big spritzes of Cologne were easy with one exception - never heard of BILDUNGSROMAN.
I did enjoy it tho.

joho 9:13 AM  

Great write up, @Rex. One thing you said really struck me: "Only word I'd absolutely never heard of was SPIRACLE (80A: Insect's opening for air), but the crosses made my ignorance practically irrelevant." The crosses were also the only way I got that answer and I realized that's my definition of a well executed puzzle. It doesn't matter how obscure the answer if the constructor gives us a fair way to find it.

It makes sense the Mr. Shortz liked a German theme from Mr. Schoenholz!

Not ausgezeichnet to me because on a Sunday I look for more of a intriguing puzzle. This was too easy to figure out, but enjoyable just the same.

Glimmerglass 9:14 AM  

[Viva Zapata!) was in a NYT puzzle very recently. This puzzle wasn't so easy for me. Didn't know BILDUNGSROMAN at all, but guessed the -ROMAN ending on a cross or two, because "roman" is French for "novel." Even though the other German borrowings are familiar to me, their spellings are not (IE or EI??). Some of the fill was gimmes, but some was clued oddly (MENSA members are by definition bright, but why are they stars?), and some was (to me) obscure.

joho 9:14 AM  

"of an"

Miss Priss 9:24 AM  

Note to @ Anschluss Karla: always wondered what schadenfreude meant so I wiki-ed it (taking joy from another's misfortune) and saw some variants-- "Skaddenfreude" to describe the delight that competitors of Skadden Arps took in its troubles of the early 1990s. Another is "Spitzenfreude", coined by The Economist to refer to the fall of Eliot Spitzer. I think I found a new favorite word with which to have some fun!! Tausend dank!

P.S. iPad auto-typed Anschluss and schadenfreude--wow!

Z 9:25 AM  

Not easy here, but all of my own doing. Starting off with Pop rockS was indicative of how the solve would go for me. My excuses were lame and good before I found A POOR one. I, too, was thinking Carthage first, so that didn't help.

When I'm in a soda shop I get a malt, I can get a COLA anywhere after all.

I tilled my soil, seems more efficient to me than those that SPADED theirs. Then I went with coFFEE KLATSCH so that section was a struggle twice over.

Saloons are in westerns and BAR TABS are more Cheers, while my brain kept wanting vertically for the overhead photos even though it was too long, so the NE ended up being the last section to fill.

So this was a 2 hour solve for me. Minus time for making and eating breakfast and coffee refills and feeding the cat and reminding her that she had been fed - probably an hour of actual solving time.

Coffee clatches were common when I was growing up. It was what the moms did on Friday mornings. I never saw it spelled out, but always heard it as "coffee clatch." Men often did the same thing, only they did it at the donut shop and never called it a "clatch." Whether at the donut shop or someone's living room, there was certain to be coffee and gossip.

Miss Priss 9:33 AM  

Anschluss--also very interesting word--nice history lesson for me!

Ulrich 9:49 AM  

When I saw my hometown in the title, I was selig ("blessed" or "blissful" in German) and then I flew through it, of course.

And @Andrea: Thank you--I'm blushing! Since you let the cat out of the bag, I may be forgiven when I point out that I just added audio clips to the iBooks version--for those who want to learn German with a Cologne accent!

Here are some explanations for people interested in this sort of thing: klatschen can mean "to clap" (one's hands), "to applaud" or, colloquially, "to gossip", "shoot the breeze". It's of course in the latter sense that it appears in Kaffeklatsch.

Bildung means "formation"--the process, not the result! But in the context of learning, it means the state of your education, as in Halbbildung ("halfeducation"), another very useful German compound noun referring to a state where someone knows a little bit, but not enough, about many things. Roman means "novel", borrowed from Franch.

And Kinder is the plural of Kind (child)--a kindergarten may be a kinder garden, indeed!

jackj 10:10 AM  

Ach du lieber, what a puzzle! A clever theme, nicely constructed by Dan Schoenholz, whose name seems to hint he has a heritage that helped inspire him today.

Some of the theme words have been so subsumed as English usages that one tends not to reflect on their Germanic origin, cases in point, PUMPERNICKEL, KINDERGARTEN and GESUNDHEIT.

Then there are arcane phrases like BILDUNGSROMAN that only a Mutter could love, but not to be overlooked is the best theme-related clue of the puzzle, “Rapper?”, cluing POLTERGEIST.

The fill seems equal to the theme and the international flavor gave us interesting answers like SOLEIL, MAORI, SALA (note the tiny accent mark in the clue that points to its Spanish heritage), KRONE and the Flying Finn, Paavo NURMI to name but a few of them.

Asking for “Booth, e.g.” and expecting ASSASSIN was brilliant cluing, then, what seemed like a blatant redundancy, AERIALLY, actually worked quite well, as did BARTABS, TREADLE, SULLEN and the Roosevelt combo of TAFT and TRUMAN.

Finding Dick EBERSOL, (husband of actress Susan St. James), in the puzzle may seem a stretch to some but for me it immediately brought to mind the terrible incident in Colorado a few years back when the TV executive’s chartered plane crashed on takeoff, killing one of the EBERSOL sons and seriously injuring Dick and a second young son. Tragic.

Finally, my favorite bit in the puzzle wasn’t one word, it was a grouping of them in the lowest right corner, bordered by SPIRACLE, where CHAOTIC, LOWRENT, EDGING, HOD, DAWG, MAORI, DARLA, TILLING, GTE and ENACT combined to give a serendipitous treasure chest of lively, clever, melded answers.

Dankeschön, Dan but, what, no DELIKATESSEN or HOFBRAUHAUS?

Carola 10:29 AM  

Liked it, thought it was a solid Sunday. Since I know German, it didn't feel like a fair fight themewise, but I had to work enough at the rest to keep things interesting. Also needed to work out SPIRACLE from crosses, wondered for a while why TREdDLE didn't work, had westON before AVEDON.

As @Ulrich noted, there's some bonus German in there with SELIG. Also KRONE (crown), MENSA (student cafeteria), and the river MAIN (as in Frankfurt am Main).

Liked OVERVIEW over AERIALLY and the almost-right DEE-DUCT and HOD DAWG.

[captcha: Mutrat: Mut - courage, Rat - advice]

OldCarFudd 10:30 AM  

And no Weltanschauung (with TWO Us!) or Zeitgeist or - - . Some fun stuff here. I struggled with Bildungsroman, because I knew it but couldn't remember it. The others went in after one letter, or no letters at all. It really was easy.

I gagged over the clue for TRES. The Three Musketeers (Les Trois Mousquetaires) is a famous French novel. Why is its Spanish translation used here? Surely there are better Spanish-based clues for TRES. Other than that, a winner of a puz.

lawprof 10:37 AM  

Pretty easy Sunday. I noticed a lot of words of German derivation, but didn't tie it to the title of the puzzle, so it worked pretty much like a themeless, but fun nonetheless.

I blushed like @ulrich, but for a different reason: had tEEn for "Cougar's prey" at 33D before it clicked -- this is, after all (sniff) the New York Times.

lawprof 10:38 AM  

Pretty easy Sunday. I noticed a lot of words of German derivation, but didn't tie it to the title of the puzzle, so it worked pretty much like a themeless, but fun nonetheless.

I blushed like @ulrich, but for a different reason: had tEEn for "Cougar's prey" at 33D before it clicked -- this is, after all (sniff) the New York Times.

Unknown 10:46 AM  

What is a "cheater square"?

mac 10:47 AM  

Very fun a quick Sunday puzzle. Learned spiracle, and surprised myself knowing Selig.

Oddly enough for 26D my first thought was laissez faire.

I have Ulrich's book right in front of me and it is charming!

Junief 10:48 AM  

I give up: will someone please tell me what the red box in Rex's grid signifies? (The gray ones too, for that matter.) Many thanks

FAQ - click on it sometime 10:54 AM  

@David Barnhouse and @Junief - at the top of the blog is the link to the FAQs (frequently asked questions) for this blog. Your questions are answered there. Many other mysteries are also solved by looking there, but not yet a definition for a PAUL ReAN.

Suz 11:04 AM  

Ugh. Was really hoping it wasn't just a blatant editing error, but... Yes, "homey" is technically in the "urban dictionary", but the correct spelling (there is a correct spelling) of the slang term is "homie". Should have at LEAST tacked a "(Var)" onto the end of that one. Especially irksome since the clue has an alternate (more correct, given the spelling) meaning. Filled this one in last - although I knew what had happened I refused to give into it til the very end:(

Nosegay 11:06 AM  

@Junief: The grid was solved on Across Lite. The grey square indicate the word that he has selected to input the answer. The red square is the actual letter he is going to input.

This was one of the few puzzles that the majority consider easy and I had a rare DNF and I wasn't even close without Google.

Tita 11:11 AM  

PLIER set?? Wrench, screwdriver, sure - but PLIER seems pretty arbitrary.

This was a terrible puzzle! And hards as nails.
A 1920's Finnish athlete? Graph theory? Insect openings?
Import water? Import music? Really?

BILDUNGSROMAN? I speak a little German, read alot of books, but admit ignorance at this term, which I have since googled. It seems pretty out there for one of only a few theme answers.

@ret_chem - I was mystified by the title too. LOL for "Nike Puzzle".

@acme - I second the thumbsup on @Ulrich's book. In fact, he brought a copy for our wonderful hostess @mac yesterday. (A real book version - so nice!)

Oh - just noticed I had one error - HeP and POLeTIK...didn't care.

Es tut mir sehr leid, H. Schoenholz - I normally adore language-related hijinks - but this was a plod.

Z 11:11 AM  

For you orginalists out there - it is duck tape, not DUCT tape. The neologism belies the material's many other uses like building floating crafts or suspending people from walls.

John V 11:21 AM  

Not solving today, as am feeling a tad overdosed from Westport yesterday. Good stuff in the hopper for this week, folks. I'll be skiing much of the week which works out fine!

Unknown 11:30 AM  

I can't see the point of doing a x-word if you are willing to 'google' the answers - just go straight to Rex's solve and save yourself the effort.

quilter1 11:44 AM  

Knew most of the German words so it was a pretty smooth solve all the way. My only nit is the "End to end" clue = DEE. Don't like that kind of clue.
Football game? But Downton Abbey is on.

GILL I. 12:03 PM  

At first I though "oh great, German, the one language I can never seem to understand...!"
The spelling gets me as well. Husband is pretty fluent so he helped me with PUMPERNICK(EL). I should know the spelling since I practically live on that bread.
Like others, BILzUNGSeOMAN was new to me. Now I know a new word...!
I enjoyed this puzzle. When I finished I revisited the words. Some I liked like SOLEIL AERIALLY POLYP CHAOTIC and SPIRACLE (which I think I learned from crosswords)
It entertained me and brought on a feew good memories. KAFFEEKLATSCH came easily since in my line of work with Mexicana we would have at least one a month for our agents...
@Auschluss KM and @Ulrich - thanks for the heads up...My husband's BD is coming up and I think this would make a real nice present....

B Donohue 12:06 PM  

DNF because of the SE corner, despite long time spent on this. Couldn't get POLTERGEIST or KINDERGARTEN, even with German girlfriend's assistance.

KINDERGARTEN clue was brilliant; I can't say the same about POLTERGEIST. "Booth, e.g." clue for ASSASSIN was great; I felt like a rock star (it's all relative) when I got that without crosses. Have incorporated KAFFEEKLATSCH into personality since seeing it recently in NYTX. Funny to also see VIVAZAPATA so soon again.

B Donohue 12:07 PM  

Meant to write "KAFFEEKLATSCH into vocabulary/lexicon"...

dave 12:09 PM  

Random quality of the dusty and musty pop culture fill made this a drag.

JenCT 12:10 PM  

@Lynda Chick: You might Google to get just one answer (which will allow you to keep working on the puzzle) as opposed to peeking at Rex's answers & seeing all of them.

Nice to see everyone at @mac's house yesterday (even though we missed the tournament!) Uploading pix now to my computer.

GILL I. 12:16 PM  

@JenCT - I HOPE YOU SHARE......!
Go 49ers.....

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Of German descent so pretty easy for me when I connected Cologne w/pumpernickel & kaffeeklatsch.
also didn't like the dee answer.

Toggle 12:30 PM  

Viel Spass. Vielen Dank!

However, I can't believe nobody's complained about 102A Clue Low Grade and 83D answer LOWRENT. Thought that was verboten??

Ulrich 12:45 PM  

@Carola: Kudos! And Taft is German for "taffeta."

Anoa Bob 1:07 PM  

Another possible clue for BEERY would be Wallace BEERY, uncle of Noah BEERY, Jr. that Ed mentioned above. Wallace BEERY played in a lot (over 250, wiki tells us) of early to mid 20th century movies, including Long John Silver in Treasure Island and the title role in Viva Villa!.

BEERY also appears in my trusty Random House Webster's College Dictionary (I'm rarely out of arm's reach of a dictionary or two), and means, appropriately enough, smelling or tasting of beer.

BEERY can also be a synonym for "maudlin", as when people, say some frat brothers at a keg party, become drunkenly sentimental or mawkish, perhaps to the point of crying in their beer.

retired_chemist 2:01 PM  

@ Z and anyone else interested: DUCT tape is the generic term. Check out your ducts in the attic and you will see where the name came from. So many people called it DUCK tape, however, that someone registered the trademark and began manufacturing and selling under that name.

Carola 2:03 PM  

@Ulrich - I find this so interesting - I never "saw" Taft in the grid, even though I'd know exactly what it was if I read it, say, in a novel, describing a dress. "Knowing" a language - complicated!

Masked und Anonymous 2:09 PM  

Ausgezeichnet! SundaythUmbsUp. Let me count the ways:
a. Ten U's. Not sure if the rest of the puzs last week had that many in total. M&A is a little like Pocksa...Pauxi... that groundhog dude, Phil. Gets scared and goes back into his hole, if doesn't see sufficient U-know-what-respect.

b. Puz auf Deutsch. A lingo M&A knows, unlike French. Was momentarily shaken, when beeholdin' the puz title. Always forget where Cologne is. Name has a whiff of eau d'Bastille in it. Almost scurried right back down that there hole.

c. Cool lookin' grid layout. @Evan seemed to be uncomfortable with the cheater squares. A double-edged adz, perhaps. Cheater squares can generate some pretty interestin' patterns, even tho to some they might mark the tombstone of minor construction bailout.

d. Schoen holz translates into good-lookin' lumber. And the dude used the good wood to build this puz's fill. Only blip for m&e was around REALPOLITIK, cuz I wasn't realfamiliarik with that koncept. And let me be the 1000th dude to point out to @31 that that was an intended themer. Just in case there is a kash prize. har.

e. SuperSunday. Gotta go Ravens by vier. Cool, subtle, hidden reference to the big game in today's big puz! Somewhere. Surely.

f. Points off for SOLEIL, REIMS. Totally atoned for, by DAWG and BEERY, howsomeever.

until the next U-day,

Qvart 2:11 PM  

@Rex hit every nail on the head. I had the same thoughts about pretty much every aspect of this puzzle.

Not sure BILDUNGSROMAN is something the average English speaker knows, but if you know a little German (or got the crosses) it wouldn't hold you up too much.

Thanks for the Ramones vid. As soon as I filled in BLITZKRIEG I had that song stuck in my head.


Wikipedia 2:11 PM  

"Duck" Tape came first

William Safire 2:18 PM  

"Duck" Tape came first

Sparky 2:45 PM  

Well I liked it and finished it in 1 hr and 57 min which makes me happy as a doodle bug. Heard all the words before including BILDUNGSROMAN but unclear on its meaning; spellings often letter by letter.

@Suz: I had warm before DAWG. @quilter1: Downton repeats Tues. 1AM, Sat. 6PM, and Sun. 9PM. before new episode. OR I think you can watch it on the computer.

Husband will be glued to TV while the game is on. I think I'll balance my checkbook, or I could prepare IRS material for the people at AARP. I might even do both.

Acme 2:55 PM  

It's interesting that half of BILDUNGSROMAN is really French, anyway... And I do wish we could make sequels sometimes because there are so many more that would be fun.
I had a German roommate off and on, years ago, Ralf who bought and sold Porsches, which he'd ship back to Germany.
He came home all excited one day to say he had sneezed and someone said "gesundheit!" and he said, "how did they know I was German?!?"

Schadenfreude is common enough to come up automatically, one of my favorite words and I expect some on this blog experience it when my puzzles get torn apart! As for Anschluss, I too had to look up the meaning, i admit... I was trying to think of a German word that sounded like my name!

@anon 12:19 from Thursday who had the aunt Kate who was turning 100... You must be related to my friend Matt Payne! Are you out there? Can you write to me as we are trying to figure out if it's the same Kate (his grandma turned 100 this weekend and there was a huge party). I'm just at my name at gmail.

Elle54 3:01 PM  

Not easy for me. Got the NW , then slowly had the top done stared, stared, and stared. Almost gave up. We are talking hours. Finally finished but messed up on THE CITY, MITE, section, oblatE, and red dOt. I don't know German, but have heard all the words except Bu...roman. Knew EBERSOL
My hat is off to all of you quick solvers. Good job!

MetaRex 3:30 PM  

I think ED and others are right in defending BEERY given the actors w/ the same letters. The underlying issue is whether a common meaning for a word makes up for a stretch clue. Yep, says moi...ya can clue EAT w/ "Eli Zabar store" and it's fine by me...it's not fine by me if ya clue ETI as "Leading insurance provider."

Had a v. good time in Westport at the tournament yesterday. Rexeans were representing...thx v. much to mac for hosting us!

Gotta keep mum about the Westport puzzles. I'll just note the party games that Will did an excellent job in leading us in. CWP fans being the detail-obsessed unruly lions we are, I'll focus on a little byplay between the ringmaster aka the Puzzlemaster and us unruly Westport beasts...

More at The ringmaster and the lions

Ulrich 4:42 PM  

@Tita and mac: Thank you, too! and @chefwen, lest I forget!

I just made a big bowl of potato salad, which was requested by the host of the Super Bowl party I'm now headed to..

L Lorimer 4:53 PM  

Did someone notice an 8th theme answer? REALPOLITIK seems to be another. Coined from the German c 1914 according to M-W.

Doctor Colonel Mark 5:11 PM  

Once I saw the Obama clue, I just assumed every answer was nazi based. I wish the constructors would knock off the politics. It's annoying. This puzzle was easy and sucked.

Nigel 5:41 PM  

Rex, the fact that you finished this puzzle in nine minutes says it all. Boring, boring boring. I don't time myself and certainly took more than 9 minutes, but it was too damned easy for a Sunday. I expect some intelligent and challenging stuff - this was pale in comparison to most Sundays. (By the way, may I say I hate the hidden letter "prove you're not a robot" bit - I can never seem to read the number and also often have problems with the words. I wish there were a better way. Just clicked the redo button and got a much clearer number and word. Luck of the draw.)

Milford 6:20 PM  

Medium Sunday, maybe because the theme didn't take up too many spaces?

I know very little German, but the puzzle was fun, especially trying to find other German words I thought might be in it - like Verboten and Willkommen. Never seen BILDUNGSROMAN before.

Had phAT before NEAT, but then I failed with thinking "homey" meant snug or something before DAWG. So my cool factor cancelled.

@Lynda Chick - I can't tell of you are serious, but I personally am solving the same time as Rex, the night before, and couldn't check that way even if I wanted.

quilter1 6:47 PM  

But, @Sparky, I don't *want* to watch the Super Bowl. Really hate football. I have a nice TV and comfortable bed from which to watch while recovering from my broken back. 4 more weeks to go.

Unknown 7:43 PM  

This was slow going until I got the theme (at PUMPERNICKEL) and then it was fun. Didn't know BILDUNGSROMAN but what the heck else could it be? Wouldn't have known ZAPATA if I hadn't complained about it in the EXCLAMATION MARK puzzle.

Mmm, Pop TARTS!

JenCT 7:51 PM  

@quilter1: best of luck on your recovery - hope you caught the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet:

Puppy Bowl

mac 7:54 PM  

In hindsight, Bildungsroman is pretty esoteric. Because I studied German literature I knew the term, but someone who just tried to learn to speak the language would not know it.

@Ulrich: isn't that Kartoffelsalat? My favorite.

sanfranman59 8:06 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 8:03, 6:12, 1.30, 99%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 163 Mondays)
Tue 8:44, 8:37, 1.01, 56%, Medium
Wed 9:24, 11:33, 0.81, 9%, Easy
Thu 19:38, 17:05, 1.15, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 20:59, 20:59, 1.00, 51%, Medium
Sat 25:19, 24:55, 1.02, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 26:43, 29:32, 0.90, 32%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:32, 3:39, 1.24, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest ratio of 163 Mondays)
Tue 5:00, 5:01, 1.00, 47%, Medium
Wed 5:40, 6:29, 0.87, 17%, Easy
Thu 11:52, 9:37, 1.23, 83%, Challenging
Fri 12:14, 12:07, 1.01, 54%, Medium
Sat 15:34, 14:36, 1.07, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 17:48, 19:31, 0.91, 31%, Easy-Medium

Ellen S 9:41 PM  

When I finished the puzzle laaaate last night, Rex hadn't posted his comments, and today got away from me. Ah well. Writeovers included True before TIER; GESUNHEIdT instead of GESUNDHEIT (I do usually spell better than that; I said it was late), ELvISh / ELFISH (is there such a word?), SeeDED/SPADED, aleTAps/BARTABS, but got them all corrected without cheating. Not too much trouble with the German until Bildungsroman which I got most of on crosses, mostly, except I had "L" instead of the D, (which made 28A lEE, which made no sense but it made no sense anyway until the headslap moment) so that's "D" for DNF.

Final writeover was the puppet clue for which I immediately wrote Kukla, and was bemildred (one of Walt Kelly's musical bats, "Bewitched, Bothered and Bemildred") that it didn't work until I realized it was OLLIE. Who I like better.

Favorite answer was OBLATE which I knew immediately. Learned it from some science fiction novel referring to the sight from outer space of "the oblate disk of the Earth."

@Nigel -- I can't remember who "clued" me in to the fact that you don't have to actually type the numbers correctly, only the letters, and "some" numbers. Not even the same number of digits. Whoever it was (@Thanks?) said he always uses 42. And that is the secret of life in the crossword puzzle Captcha universe.

acme 11:48 PM  

Can't find you off line, but just reading about your own personal Broke Back Mountain :(
Fast and speedy recovery. How dreadful.

retired_chemist 11:54 PM  

@ Ellen S - The secret of life in the crossword puzzle Captcha universe - mind-blowingly profound.

Tita 11:56 PM  

Howdy, @Ellen S...that woulda been me...(not he!)
Funny..I had mentioned that I always answer "42", but not why... indeed...it is as you say.
Of course,I can't use it if a 4 or 2 is actually in the answer.

@Nigel...it's also case insensitive. Makes this inane process a tiny bit less painful...

@rex...how about you update your faq to clue people in to how to ace the capcha ordeal

Sparky 12:01 AM  

@quilter1: glad you are coming along with recovery. Hope the episode was good; I'll watch tomorrow. We need a second TV.

@Nigel. Tita gave us the 42 solution.

jberg 12:56 AM  

I got the theme at BILDUNGSROMAN - a gimme if you ever studied literature, not just German literature, or even read book reviews of the NYT/NRYOB sort. But having got it, it didn't seem like much. German words? There are German words, French words,Spanish words, sometimes Russian words in puzzles all the time - and, as has been pointed out, French and Spanish words in THIS puzzle. So I'm with @Rex on its being a thin theme, even with 8 of them. But most of the fill is good - not every day you see Joe ORTON in the grid!

I learned SPIRACLE in high school biology, and I bet all you saying you never saw it before did, as well. But of course we all see lots of things that we forget totally.

I would have put in plowed or tilled at 55A, but the "in a way" in the clue seemed to suggest it was something less common, so I waited until crosses gave me SPADED.

The one thing about this grid was that I kept getting stuck - there are lots and lots of little sections barely connected to each other, so I had to start over (rather than working from crosses, as I like to do) 5 or 6 times. Aside from that my only problems/writeovers were niNTH before TENTH, BLITZKReiG before BLITZKRIEG (having ignored the rule that ie sounds like ee, ei sounds like aye) and c before the initial K in KAFFEEKLATSCH - I term I heard a lot growing up in Wisconsin.

Ellen S 1:10 AM  

@jberg, no fooling about "we all see lots of things that we forget totally." Never mind high school biology. (DNA hadn't been invented. Gregor Mendel was still investigating inherited traits of pea plants.) I forgot that it was @Tita who only a couple of weeks ago told me the trick about how to enter the number for the captcha.

@Tita --Yeah, I don't know nothin' about sports, but I did read Hitchhiker's Guide. That's all I remember but all I need to know, right? But I don't get why you can't use 42 if there's a 4 or a 2? I just used "51" on a post I just did to yesterday's puz, where the actual number was "510".

Ellen S 1:16 AM  

and I just entered "56" for the actual answer "6501". Is it specific to 42? Are the captchas being individually validated by Douglas Adams from beyond the ether?

And dang! -- it really ISN'T case sensitive. Here I've been killing myself making my entries lower case when the auto-correct keeps capitalizing the first letter. Thank you @Tita.

@Rex please add these gems to the FAQs so future commenters don't founder on the Captcha shoals.

LaneB 2:03 AM  

Had to delay puzzle solving to witness my beloved Niners getting screwed by. The officials. Well, a great comeback anyway. Did manage to finish

Joma 5:31 AM  

Fun puzzle once the theme revealed itself. Didn't get kaffeeklatsch and Bildungsroman though. But got the rest of the theme answers.

Crossword Puzzle 5:50 AM  

Like puzzle games and this one specially. This might be one of the oldest puzzle game which I loved till now. There are so many puzzle games are available now but still this one would be my favorite.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

you are not the only one! arggh! i just refused to quit, but didn 't get the theme for ages. still don 't know what bildungsroman is even though i got it.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

Sometimes I long for the time before computer generated puzzles!

rain forest 5:33 PM  

9 minutes, Rex? Heck, I grazed 8 minutes...for the top quarter--close to 45 minutes overall. I never time myself, but I decided to do this in one fell swoop with an eye on the clock. Actually threw down KAFFEEKLATSCH off the K of which there were a lot. BILDUNGSROMAN was only discovered from the crosses. Weird seeing that emerge. If I can do a Sunday in under an hour, and at one sitting, I like it. The SW was beautifully constructed, in my opinion.

Spacecraft 1:36 PM  

For me this was a tale of two hemispheres: the west laid itself down after only respelling "coffee" to the German equivalent. The east saw me struggling mightily. Never heard of BILDUNGSROMAN, REALPOLITIK, EBERSOL or ZAPATA. I eventually got it all on crosses and finished ok.

Wanted ONE as "all's partner," as per "los TRES mosqueteros." And I thought the TWAIN quote was simply "Familiarity breeds."

As one of German heritage, I enjoyed this one. Nice end to the week.

Dirigonzo 7:55 PM  

I spent all morning clearing two feet of snow out of he driveway and all afternoon trying to get the puzzle ROPEd and hogtied - I'm not sure which was more exhausting but I'm glad they're both done.

My solving experience mirrored @Spacecraft's, except I finished with an error. I had BARTApS running in the saloon at 10a and Bildung could as easily have been Pildung from what I (don't) know. I did eventually see the theme and that was a big help as I just started putting "K" in when I was uncertain, and it actually worked a lot of the time.

BWHinLA 3:38 AM  

I live in LA area and get the Daily Breeze Sunday edition, which carries the NYT Sunday puzzle, one week delayed. I also do the LA Times Sunday puzzle. This led to my seeing a nearly ang coincidence: both puzzles had "Wyeth" as an answer, and both clued it by a refeference to "Christina's World".

SharonAK 12:25 PM  

@ Linda Chick
Before i began solving NYT puzzles I had seen films, read books, etc where prople solving crosswords were OK with looking up answers in dictionaries and other resources. Looking up rivers, cities on rivers, etc, got me into the atlas and I learned a liitle geography. Looking up leterary references I also learned a little, or refreshed my knowledge of plays, novels ,etc.
Granted, Google makes it easier and provides info I have no resource books on. But it is still true that I usually learn something by Googling for an answer. Going straight to Rex, or calling the "clue hotline" is quite a different thing. Ihave, before I found Rex, called the clue hotline occasionally when I was totally stuck on a puzzle that I was enjoying enough to want to go on with it. Often I got several "ah ha" moments from the puzzle once I got past a block.

By the way,
How did you become oaware of this blog if you never google for answers?

Beth 4:44 AM  

Syndication here - I STILL don't understand how "rapper" is a clue for poltergeist (in my paper it was "r apper" which probably made it worse).

JenCT 9:25 AM  

@Beth: that was a really tough one, but POLTERGEISTs
make noise to make their presence known.

Dirigonzo 4:14 PM  

@Beth - I don't know if it will help you feel any better about the clue, but my paper (Maine Sunday Telegram) had it printed the same way as yours did. When most of the answer was in from the crosses I decided the spacing was a publishing error that had no significance to the clue.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

The printing for 44-D in my local paper came out with a space between the R and the rest of the word - "R apper?" - which led to some serious confusion. Otherwise, fun.

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