Home of ancient Greek scholars / THU 1-6-14 / Director Christopher actor Lloyd / Teacher/astronaut McAuliffe

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: JAPANESE (57A: Language that gave us the words heard phonetically in the answers to the starred clues) —

Theme answers:
  • WAS SOBBY (18A: *Blubbered?)
  • ARI GOT TOW (25A: *What happened after Mr. Onassis contacted A.A.A.?)
  • PSEUDO COUP (35A: *Imaginary overthrow of the government?)
  • CARRY OKIE (47A: *Give a Dust Bowl migrant a ride?)
Word of the Day: Lloyd NOLAN (50A: Director Christopher and actor Lloyd => NOLANS) —
Lloyd Benedict Nolan (August 11, 1902 – September 27, 1985) was an American film and television actor. […] Although Nolan's acting was often praised by critics, he was, for the most part, relegated to B pictures. Despite this, Nolan costarred with a number of well-known actresses, among them Mae West, Dorothy McGuire, and former Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Gladys Swarthout. Under contract to Paramount and 20th Century Fox studios, he assayed starring roles in the late 30s and early-to-mid 40s and appeared as the title character in the Michael Shayne detective series. Raymond Chandler's novel The High Window was adapted from aPhilip Marlowe adventure for the seventh film in the Michael Shayne series, Time to Kill (1942). The film was remade five years later as The Brasher Doubloon, truer to Chandler's original story, with George Montgomery as Marlowe.
The majority of Nolan's films comprised light entertainment with an emphasis on action. His most famous films include: Atlantic Adventure, costarring Nancy CarrollEbb TideWells FargoEvery Day's A Holiday, starring Mae WestBataan; and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, with Dorothy McGuire and James Dunn. He also gave a strong performance in the 1957 filmPeyton Place with Lana Turner.
Nolan subsequently contributed many solid and key character parts in numerous other films. One of these films, The House on 92nd Street, was a startling revelation to audiences in 1945. It was a conflation of several true incidents of attempted sabotage by the Nazi regime - incidents which the FBI was able to thwart during World War II - and many scenes were filmed on location in New York City, an unusual occurrence at the time. Nolan portrayed FBI agent Briggs, and actual FBI employees interacted with Nolan throughout the film. He reprised the role in a subsequent 1948 movie, The Street with No Name. (wikipedia)
• • •

I like this one OK. The pronunciations don't work quite right on two of them; or, I should say, the accents/stresses seem off. "PSEU'-do coup," as opposed to su-DO'- ku; "A'-ri got TOW'" as opposed to "ari-GA'-to." Then there's the odd syntax. Clue on CARRY OKIE includes the indefinite article "a" while the answer doesn't (awkward, seemingly unparallel), and there's a similar problem with the strange phrasing of ARI GOT TOW (something it's impossible to imagine anyone's saying under any circumstances at any time). And yet there's something weird and slightly charming about the theme, and while the fill isn't great, neither is it terrible. I didn't know SOBBY was a word, but that's the answer that (to my ear) works best.

Three OHs—UH OH, OH ME, OH BROTHER. That's laying it on a bit thick, and that's not even counting the PHARAOHS (which would make a really great name for a cereal—green pyramids! blue asps!).  "OR A close second" doesn't mean a thing to me. When do you say that? I do like the energy of "IT'S A TRAP!" and "I'M THERE!" Didn't hit any real snags in this one. Seems like a puzzle that's not likely to give most solvers any significant trouble. Had ODEON for ODEUM but Jon HAMM helped me fix that one. TNT for TNN (10D: Old cable inits.)—pretty forgivable (though I guess TNT is current, not "old"). Not much else to say. Light, mostly enjoyable fare.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


wreck 12:10 AM  

It was kind of quirky on the pronunciations, but no real complaints - I guess it was fair. It took me longer than most Thursdays lately.

operapianist 12:41 AM  

I took the awkwardness of the answers as veiled racism... Anyone else? Enjoyable puzzle though! Thanks Joe.

jae 12:41 AM  

Easy Thurs. for me.  My only erasure was OHMy to OHME.  Delightful clever amusing...really liked it!

Everyone should have memorized the Sarah McLachlan anagram of AIDA by now.  You will see it again.

JRW 12:42 AM  

It's... not NOT clever, I suppose, and the fill isn't all hot garbage (unlike some recent NYT puzzles). But the theme-y stuff? Why, look, I just found this soapbox. I wonder if it will support my weight? (Rant to follow.)

The pronunciation issues here go beyond the syllable stress issues you mention. My problem (and it may be mine alone) is with the constituent sounds of these "homophones."

Let's leave aside for a moment that the Japanese sound system lacks an /r/ phoneme (bear with me, because I'm not using standardized markings for phones/phonemes/allophones, and I'm using Roman charaters for the Japanese). The clue did say "phonetically" (acoustically), not phonemically (in terms of contrastive sound units specific to each language). ARIGOTTOW still isn't quite phonetically equivalent to arigato, because English speakers don't typically produce the "correct" Japanese r-like phoneme (typically an alveolar flap) when speaking Japanese words. Whatevs. Pass given.

But the vowels? The Japanese word karaoke is pronounced "kah-(r/l)ah-oh-kay." Not "CARE-ee-OH-key." E for effort, but the karaoke is pretty much not "heard phonetically in [this] answer," as the clue claims. Three out of four vowel sounds are distinctly different in terms of acoustics and formation (and there's that pesky /r/ consonant again, controlling the vowel in "care"). A westernized version of a Japanese word could be heard. Just like, if I was to describe someone wearing many socks as being particularly "socky," that would not be acoustically equivalent to the Japanese word sake, or "sah-kay."

WASSOBBY is not so hot either, "phonetically" speaking, since /s/ and /z/ are distinct sounds. WASSOBBY would be pronounced "wuz SAH-bee." The final consonant in "was" is a voiced /z/, not an unvoiced /s/. (It might be reduced in rapid fluent speech, granted, but the voiced /z/ follows the vowel. That's why we say, "This IZ nitpicking," not "This ISS nitpicking." That'd be ab-zurd!) Wasabi, on the other hand, is pronounced "wah-sah-bee." No /z/. Not to mention the vowel in "was," depending on your dialect, likely rhymes with "fuzz" (rather than "Oz"). Or its a schwa.

I solve my NYTs in a Tokyo SBux before teaching English, so I know I'm in the minority here. I grant most people won't notice or care. But dern it, an accurate clue would read, "Phonetically CLOSE TO a word from this language..."
Especially given that there's no rhyme or reason given to the selection of the theme words (other than, I guess, "Japanese words English speakers have probably heard before"), and no real thematic purpose (the clues are random nonsense unrelated to the "homophones"), I was irked.

So then I yelled at the internet for 10 minutes.

JFC 12:48 AM  



paleolith 12:51 AM  

My only real complaints were the obscurity of ELEA and ODEUM. JRW is of course correct about the language, but that's how it goes in crosswords. I even learned what "thank you" is in Japanese, and that's a plus. Sayonara, sensei ...


wreck 12:56 AM  

So the theme should have been Japanese words that most Americans mispronounce.

RnRGhost57 1:41 AM  

I liked it. Small minds are easily amused, I suppose.

chefwen 1:45 AM  

We hosted a Japanese student for a year, quite an experience. one of my favorite meals that she loved was rack of lamb. I overheard her on the phone one evening saying to a friend that Wendy was making her favorite meal "lack of ram" had to really hold myself back on that one.

My biggest mistake was filling in sweater set at 12D and was loathe to take it out . Jon filled in DROME and the end of arigoTOW which forced me to take out my beautiful sweater set and get back to reality. Bada Bing, Bada Bang, we were done.

Good one Mr. Krozel, thanks.

Anoa Bob 1:52 AM  

I lived in Japan for two years in the 80's (in the Tokyo area and in Okinawa), so I see/hear where @JRW is coming from. I doubt if there are any words or phrases in English that have exactly the same sound as words or phrases in Japanese.

I don't think Mr. Krozel was going for an exact, syllable-for-syllable, syntactically correct rendition here, but for something more playful and lighthearted. On that level, it was a fun solve for me.

POC alert: What do OJ, SENTRA, HT, ARCHER, NOLAN, CD RATE, HUN, NESTLE, PHARAOH, IOU, & LESSEN have in common here? The sound of a tire leaking air, to wit, SSSSSSSSSSS. (For you naysayers, I say SHHHHH.)

Unknown 1:56 AM  

Entire NE had no relationship between clues and solutions. Awful.

Civic alternative is Accord, not Sentra. Jeez.
A warning to the unwary is a NOTABENE, which crosses ACCORD and ACHE just fine.
What does ARTIER have to do with anything, let alone it's insipid clue? ARIGOTTOW. I still don't get it or it's clue.
Old cable inits? RCN, for me. Or really any TLA will fit given the plethora of cable garbage that is/was out there.

I'm in a foul mood after 2 hours of pounding and no evident pathway to solve NE. I don't see how any of you could have gotten through it. But Rex called it easy-medium. I call it stone cold unsolvable.

The rest of the puzzle was solvable, but was also just ugly. I solved WASSOBBY, but that's just crazy. EMMA, HAMM, NOLANS, ADIA and ADHD had to be googled for everything else to fall in place. My bad on those, I guess. IMTHERE was the only bright spot. Everything else was strained.

Nasty piece of work, this one.

Steve J 2:24 AM  

A little fluffy (as in lightweight) for a Thursday, and not without a handful of problems, but I had fun with it anyway.

I spotted both the differences in accented syllables that Rex noted, and at least one of the pronunciation issues @JRW noted (I don't know Japanese, but for whatever reason I know the correct pronunciation of karaoke) as I was solving. But I also recognized that that's how most Americans pronounce these words. I think @wreck has the theme right. A little tweak to the revealer's clue would have been beneficial.

No significant issues throughout the rest of the puzzle, other than my perennial wonder at who has ever said "OH, ME" anywhere outside a crossword.

@cascokid san: Civics and Accords are different classes of cars. If someone were shopping for a Civic, they'd likely be cross-shopping cars in the same class, such as Corollas or SENTRAs. As far as ARTIER, the "affected" in the clue is in the sense of the phrase "an affected air". Being arty does not automatically equate to being affected, but it's a common enough cliché that the clue made sense.

(@JRW: Thanks for the info on Japanese pronunciation. There are at least a few linguistic geeks here - I'm one - so I enjoyed the info. Also, I'm glad this only irked you instead of ired you. If it had, you'd have to say crossword-only "OH, ME" at being put in a state of crossword-only verb.)

Anonymous 2:26 AM  

Good fun with generally fair crosses. A few stumbles but in the end, it all worked out well. In the world of crossword puzzles it seems to me (and in a land where we don't all pronounce many words quite the same)that we need not be concerned that the Japanese/English is off a bit. This is a puzzle and it's supposed to be fun.


Curious 2:43 AM  

@JRW - Other than that how did you like the puzzle?

Alamort Carryokie Momandpops 3:03 AM  

Seemed wildly original and whimsical.

Misteps SENates/SENTRAS, gLUm/BLUE
Jumbo/OBESE (because i guessed SomethingJoad)

My understanding is in Japanese, all the syllables are given equal emphasis, but definitely not in English.

By the way, loved MOMANDPOP and ITSATRAP!

I will tell one ESL story from the days I was teaching Japanese and other foreign students. We were doing homophones (or, oar, ore, bear/bare) i was having them make up their own.

Gal from Venezuela got up and said CHOOSE. I thought that was terrific... CHOOSE/CHEWS...but then she said, "Choose between two things..and choos on your feet."
Then Yuki got up and said "Lun"
"Yes, you lun from books...and you lun to the store."

Still laughing 32 years later.
(esp trying to explain to a rapt classroom of sweeties that I wasn't laughing at them, I was just suddenly remembering a joke from earlier that day)

Domo arigato, Joe K.
Can't wait to read Ms Muse's comments.

Keenan Mahoney 3:04 AM  

Man... if this was supposed to not give solvers significant trouble, then I should probably hang it up.

OJS is awful. I've never heard of ELEA or ODEUM (or ALAMORT for that matter, but I'm not great at French). ASCII next to REORG next to TNN killed me in the NE corner, I had nothing for any of them thus it was blank for a loong time.

I don't know, I feel like I need 10 more years of random knowledge and maybe a few more years of learning arcade crosswordese to do well on this. I like difficult puzzles, but this was not fun.

JRW 4:11 AM  

@Alamort -

Yep. English is a stress timed language; Japanese is syllable timed. Okay, actually mora timed. Which is a more complicated way of saying you're right.

@Curious -

It was okay. I worked through it without incident. Winced at some of the more wince-worthy stuff (OJS, dear god I'm sick of ADIA and her Greek cousin ELEA). Liked some of the more modern stuff (IMTHERE, ADHD, ITSATRAP -- though the lack of Ackbar in that clue is a crime). The theme stuff kind of took me out of it, but at least it gave me something to get weirdly, impotently frustrated by. At. Whichever preposition ends that sentence best.

@SteveJ -

Glad my weird, impotent frustration was fleetingly interesting (if I had a dime for every time...) I have a whole bunch of hyper-specific knowledge and interests that I don't get to yell about on the internet very often, which happen to include the Japanese language, phonology, and the NYT crossword. If tomorrow's puzzle is about college football, 1980s Spider-Man comics, and typesetting, I'm sure I'll be back with fresh gripes.

John Child 4:42 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danp 5:31 AM  

I don't think JRW understood the theme. The constructor is saying these words are English words that come from Japanese. As such, English pronunciations are appropriate. I might question (as Rex does) whether Arigato is an English word just because everyone understands it. I don't picture anyone ever using it without intending a foreign reference.

John Child 5:43 AM  

Somewhere between meh and OK as far as the theme goes. I didn't really like it as I was solving, but on reflection I thought it was cute if flawed.

I've done a lot of Friday and Saturday puzzles quicker, so challenging here.

T'wasn't Krozel's very best

Zach 5:52 AM  

Living in Japan now; it's actually quite accurate. In some ways (pseudo coup) it's true to the correct pronunciation and in others (carry okie) it's closer to the Americanized word. The other two are bigger stretches. "A Riga toe/tow" might be clueable and better? Someone should do one of these types of clues for "skosh" which I always assumed originated in the Midwest but was actually brought back from Japan after the war. The Japanese is sukoshi and it means the same thing.

Glimmerglassp 7:06 AM  

@cascokid: I got into the NE via ASCII. FIR and the first word in ARIxxxxx said that 8D ended in two i's. "Civic alternatives" had to some kind of car (no need to cut that too fine). CONSENT is not a hard clue. xNN had to be TNN, and REORG isn't much of a stretch. The clue for ARTIER is "Affected" not "Effected."

NYer 7:18 AM  

@rex: it's actually aRIgato, not ariGATO.

@JRW, Japanese words ending in the vowel "e" are pronounced "eh" as in "meh". Not "ay". Thus, "kah-rah-o-keh" and "sah-keh". Just like Latin.

Almost Naticked at eLea/aLamort but finally sussed it out.

jburgs 7:39 AM  

Liked it. Easier and much more enjoyable than Tuesday's arcane middle initials stuff.

jberg 7:44 AM  

Come on folks, these are bad puns! Part of the bad puniness of them is that you stretch both the grammar and the pronunciation, hoping to elicit an appreciative groan from your audience. ARI GOT TOW is certainly groanworthy, if nothing else.

As for how you pronounce Japanese -- I know it's really equally stressed syllables, but to my ear it always sounds like a normally (in English) unstressed sound is being stressed. Thus "Asakusa" sounds like "Asaksa," "Kamakura" like "KaMAkura," etc. I think it's my hearing, rather than the way anything is actually said.

Anyway, once I realized that Robin Hood's band were not robbERS and the theater was not a veNue, this one was fun - in a groany way.

baja 8:02 AM  

Made me smile - which is enough for me.

Questinia 8:25 AM  

Oh Hey Go See My Sue!
That's "Good Morning" in Japan speak.

Super subarashii puzzle, Krozel-san

@ acme and @ chefwen: raughing my head off!

Now for some mmm-mmm good natto! Yup. Got some in the fridge. The breakfast that eats like deer droppings suspended in spider webs and bar puke. But oh the health benefits!

Bai bai!

St. John Travel Forum 8:26 AM  

Karaoke is not pronounced carry okie, except by people who pronounce it incorrectly.

Z 8:32 AM  

There is nothing better than yelling at the internet for ten minutes than bad puns.

@cascokid san - NE, no problem. NW, yikes. I had ElGreco in Madrid, was thinking solids not liquids for brunch, I'm not all that familiar with NYC geography so it could have been a Circle or a Park, "like death" makes sense post solve but my first reaction was "death style?!?" And on And on. Put in --THERE, not getting the I'M part. That opened the NW up for me. I'm glad it was right.

No paper this morning (actually, the FREEP arrived but not the NYT, which is weird since they are brought by the same person) so I solved in Across Lite. Everytime I solve in an electronic format I am reminded that I prefer paper and pen.

AliasZ 8:38 AM  

This was fun -- but then I usually love Joe Krozel's puzzles. The playfully punny theme was a welcome change from the usual Thur circles and/or rebi.

There is no reason to get STEWED over a crossword theme. Over-analyzing it doesn't enhance, and should not take away from, our enjoyment of it. This is supposed to be playful and clever fun and entertainment, no? I never considered crossword puzzles a medium of scientific treatise.

Here are some additional clues for play on Japanese words:

- Take Asian car maker's principal to court? SUE KIA KEY
- Alas, the machinery is sticky? OH, RIG GUMMY
- Refuse cancer treatment? CHEMO NO!
- Persian ruler's gone AWOL? SHAH MISSIN'
- Groan uttered by skeleton? BONE SIGH
- Disgusting actor Eric? ICKY BANA
- One taking bets on the Vegas Cirque du Soleil show's success? KÀ BOOKIE
- Et cetera.

My one complaint today is the isolated mini-puzzle (IT'S A TRAP!) in the NW and in the SE, only one word allowing passage into each, although it's all in the family: OH BROTHER and MOM AND POP.

Speaking of POP and passage, here are the OJS and their Stairway to Heaven.

Great fun, JK/Will. Thanks.

Unknown 8:43 AM  

Got WAS SOBBY and immediately knew this was gonna be a groaner. I'm torn between thinking it is semi-cute and thinking it is kind of in bad taste.

Loren Muse Smith 8:46 AM  

Aw, heck. I decided last night I would take the day off today from commenting as it’s a bit wobbly here on my mother-in-law’s laptop. Just the whole business of signing her out and myself into gmail and then signing her back in. . .

Well, aH ME. (Before OH ME - @jae, I don’t know about the latter, but I say “ah me” all the time, case in point – yesterday when I received a polite email from Rich Norris’ assistant, Patti. . .)

I try my best to do the fill-in-the blanks first, so I had “in A” for 51D, saw JAR, and JAPANESE was my third entry. Ii desu, ne??

@JRW – Anyone who needs a soapbox to talk about things linguistic is ok by me! I see your point on the pronunciations, but after rereading your comment a couple of times, I take it your issue is more with the word phonetic in the reveal’s clue? If it’s really a complaint about how we pronounce our versions, I have to differ, and, of course, I have a story. . .

Ok. So yesterday I was (not in a library of fifth graders saying SHHHH (@ mac -your spelling wins IMHO - SHSHSH)) rather visiting a gourmet food store in Chapel Hill – one where I used to work aeons AGO – and was talking to the guy in the cheese department. I told him that when I worked there, the cheese manager insisted we pronounce “Gouda” as /X ow dah/ (the capital X representing that startling throat clearing noise.) Insisted. The guy and I stared at each other for a moment, and then he said, “Wow. Awkward.” I said, “Yeah. It was.” We Americans say “goo dah.” Just like we say CARRY OKIE and not KATA OKAY “Karate instructor’s so-so rating?” And we drank “comma KAH zees” in the late ‘70s rather than “commie kah zays.” Or just like our Louvre rhymes with move. So if it’s a question of being as true to the pronunciation of the word in its native form vs. our Americanization of it, I vote for sticking to our version. I never want to have to look at someone and say /X ow dah/ again. And (@Captain G Piecost),I’m going to wow the crowd with my CARRY OKIE prowess rather than my KATA OKAY prowess.

Andrea – funny ESL story! My biggest ESL teaching memory was asking Lu Mei on the very first night about leaving her young sons in China for two years while she pursued her degree. . .questioning her to the point that she WAS very SOBBY. Sheeshsh. If I had been a mom then, I would’ve kept my fat mouth shut.

Loved 13D. I RAN HOME many times as a kid, having done something bone-headed. UH OH.

@Alias Z - good list. I add my avatar. . .

Joe – I always like your puns. Fun Thursday!

wordie 8:52 AM  

A la mort is gravely, it's adjectival, so the clue is wrong.

I thought the puny theme answers were kinda fun, though 47A is clued incorrectly as has been pointed out.

Loved the rant re pronunciation! Velly intewesting!

Tracy Bennett 9:03 AM  

My horoscope this week says to refrain from provocation. So I hope this doesn't seem like I'm doing that. I offer a suggestion that's probably not practical to implement, but would be interesting: if bloggers would write critiques of puzzles without the benefit of knowing the byline ahead of time. Don't misunderstand---I like today's puzzle, and I like most puzzles. As a solver, I'm in this for fun and variety and I always assume the constructor is giving me something he enjoys. I'm talking about what gets "a pass" when connected to certain bylines and not others (from editors, but also from bloggers). I that blogging is subjective, and isn't meant to be otherwise. I still think it could be an interesting experiment, even if you don't share the results publicly.

Questinia 9:13 AM  

My mom was going to help my twenty-one year old female Swedish cousin find an au pair job in the states by advertising in the local Pennysaver newspaper. My mom told the newspaper that the ad should include that my cousin is Swedish, wants a job in a family as an au pair, and that she is twenty-one.

The next week my mom and dad were barraged with phone calls at all hours of the day and night with inquiries. All from men. Mainly single men.

Wondering why this was happening my mom opened the newspaper and the ad read:
"OH PAIR!!" (in caps and double exclamation marks) 21 year old Swedish girl looking for a position.

John V 9:16 AM  

Fun, funny. A 77 word puzzle from Joe Krozel! A nice twist.

This was not the final puzzle at Westport, because, as Will told us, this is a 16 wide grid and the white boards for the final are 15x15.

OISK 9:20 AM  

Love puns, so very much enjoyed this one, although it broke very slowly for me. Once I got the first theme answer it went smoothly. I agree with Rex; there are so many better ways to clue "Ora" than …close second. I also had "Ah me" instead of "Ohme" for a long time. I knew ADIA because it appeared recently, which makes this also the second time I recall having heard the name "SarahMachlachlan." Suitably difficult for a Thursday, clever, funny, mostly well clued…This one gets an A from me, and I am a tough grader...

ludyjynn 9:23 AM  

Fun, crunchy (medium) Thursday. @wreck and @aliasZ are on my wavelength, esp. the additional clue ideas, which made me laugh some more.

Unknown 9:26 AM  

Average for me, 'tho it felt like more of a struggle. ORA close second? Ehh, I don't think so. WASSOBBY is a manufactured answer. I didn't mind the puns. They were groaners, but, hey, whaddyagonnado?

dk 9:38 AM  

Mr. Moto sitting in for dk. Enjoying the pun-ish-ment. Most satisfactory. There will be more.

Killer for me was HAMM. I may be the only one in America who finds Mad Men tedious so --- no HAMM for me.

Thank heavens I know such au currant terms like ODEUM.

Liked the lame puns (as you might imagine) and have PSEUDOCOUP in the center of something that Mr. Shortz edits is inspired.

🌕🌕🌕 (3 Moons) If only Godzilla was in the grid… sigh

dk 9:38 AM  


ArtO 9:44 AM  

I'm with @jberg. You've got to stretch in many ways (definitions designed to be obscure or tricky; pronunciation), etc. when solving so why get so worked up over one of the best constructor's efforts.

Answer. To let him know he's not perfect.

Unknown 9:50 AM  

@steve j Thanks. I'll keep comparison shopping in mind next time, where "alternative" means "competition" and not "the other car the dealer shows me." I didn't take a stab at ARTIER beyond trying out the ER for a while. I can rationalize it better this morning than last night, but it is still pretty far from anywhere I'd reach. It would have to emerge from the crosses. NOTABENE fits its clue better than ITSATRAP.

@glimmerglassp I went right passed ASCII in my consideration of PC file formats. I blame on the ACCORDS. #DopeSlap

@Z I had El Greco in oviEDO for a while. All Spaniards go to oviEDO for a while. In August.

Thanks gor the hanf-holding, gang. Still feeling pretty burned. But I've was close to solving Tue and Wed this week, so it was time for karmic payback.

@jae add 2 more hours to my run at 10000.

Notsofast 10:03 AM  

Light-handed, strange and clever. My kind of Thursday.

quilter1 10:19 AM  

I liked it and enjoyed getting the theme before the reveal. Felt smart today, a rare thing.

Milford 10:31 AM  

Puns are fine with me, fun Thursday puzzle. I am 99% ignorant of the JAPANESE language, but I can appreciate the discussion of it today.

I technically DNF because I had OKIy before I realized it was OKIE, but I never changed OH My to OH ME. Oh well.

I guess I lucked out because I knew for certain that El Greco had lived in TOLEDO. One of my favorite cities, my husband (then boyfriend) and I spent a lovely long weekend there. I think our fonda we stayed at was about $6 per night in 1990.

Also lucked out by knowing ODEUM, as it was name of the old indy theater we went to in Lansing.

@Q - your au pair story made me literally LOL.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:45 AM  

Definitely good for a laugh when I first decrypted the theme!

My copy of yesterday's local paper was delivered this morning, so I did the LAT Xwd. Mildly surprised to see the same nine-letter entry appearing in both Wednesday's LAT and today's NYT! No conspiracy involved; these things just happen.

Nancy 10:56 AM  

Liked "Curious"'s comment to "JRW" more than I liked the puzzle. Not hard, but I found it forced and rather meh.

Carola 11:06 AM  

Inspired and goofy - liked it. As I was struggling to figure out what happened with ARI, my eyes fell on the clue for the reveal, and suddenly WAS SOBBY made sense and I figured out we were dealing with a TOW and not a painful "OW!" Loved PSEUDOCOUP. And the non-theme ARCHERS, BEWITCH, ALA MORT, BLANCH, PLATEAU.

Billy 11:10 AM  

@ wordie
"A la mort is gravely, it's adjectival, so the clue is wrong."

It's adverbial, but the clue is indeed wrong.

Also, "Words always preceding a date" should be "Words always followed by a date."

Some posters here really really need to lighten up about (current American) mispronunciation being equivalent to racism.

Two Ponies 11:16 AM  

This one leaned towards the hard side of medium for me. Once I got the theme the fun really started.
My knowledge of Japanese is pretty much limited to these words and parts of a sushi menu so the pronunciation discussion is lost on me. Love the ESL stories!
I guess the clue for arcade is true today but the last arcade I was in only had pinball machines and nobody died.
Some nice fill like archers, plateau,and bewitch. Thanks Joe.

jburgs 11:18 AM  

I used to try and pronounce non English words that came up in the way that a native speaker would.

Then a friend told me, "You know ..... you still aren't really pronouncing it right, so you sound both dumb AND pretentious." It was a good lesson I never forgot.

wordie 11:19 AM  

@Billy, you are right! Oops! I also second your other comments.

Love the funny stories several have shared.

GILL I. 11:29 AM  

I'm liking the comments as much as this fun puzzle.
@chefwen @ACME and @Questinia...My sides are ACHing!
My favorite English phonemes are the two "th" sounds. My Filipina friend (who is completely bi-lingual) still speaks about missing her "mudder" back home.
CARRY OKIE and WAS SOBBY made me laugh out loud...Oh, the phonetic stories I could tell - and they're all funny!

wa 11:52 AM  

The main theme was, at once, tortured and clever.

leah712 12:02 PM  

Worth it for "was sobby."

Ellen S 12:33 PM  

@cascokid san, I don't know if this will make you feel better, but I've been solving for 30 years. It has definitely gotten easier, as I've learned the crosswordese: any plant is an ALOE (amazing how many places it grows and uses it has!), almost all trees are OSIERS, mine entrances are ADITS, etc. Newly added, that Sarah McLachlan song. And just easier as I get a better "feel" for the kind of answers that might be expected But not always. Sometimes you eat the puzzle, sometimes the puzzle eats you. Once in a while I can sail through a Saturday. Other times I am completely stumped by a Thursday. I would have been stumped by today's if I hadn't started like @Glimmerglassp, with FIR crossing ASCII in the NE.

With that toehold I got through the puzzle with one minor cheat (I let "reveal error" erase the r's in SOrrY).

@Billy, only one poster said anything about racism and that was @Operapianist commenting on the awkward answers. I don't think he was referring to the "(current American) mispronunciations" as much as to the possibly pidgin English phrasing of "Ari got tow" and "Carry Okie". And, replying to his query, I don't interpret those as imitating sentence structures of English learners. If that had been the intention, I think all four theme answers would have been bad English. I think they were just clumsy because of the need to approximate the sound of unrelated Japanese words.)

@JRW I loved your rant. Keep the soapbox handy. Everyone with an ESL story: hilarious.

Oh, hey: on another subject altogether. The news keeps reporting the flu deaths of people under age 65. I gather those numbers are unusually high, but one story casually dropped in this sentence: "Hospitals are only required to report deaths in people younger than 65." I hope that meant "report to the Health Department", rather than hospitals can just toss us in the dumpster. But I think what that means is we have no idea how many people over 65 are dying of the flu, since likely most will wind up in the hospital when it becomes A LA MORT.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Someone said up thread that the karioke clue is not a homophone for carry okie but it IS if you are from the NYC area. We don't say care-y. We pronounce it just like the first syllable in karioke.

I skip M-W 12:55 PM  

Good puzzle. I,be never been to Japan but surprised no one mentioned that "arigato" is the Japanese mispronunciation of the Portugese for thank you. And "tempura" also is from Portugese for fried. Mis-hearing goes both ways, as the funny stories by Acme et al. attest.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:10 PM  

@Ellen S - LOL!

Yes, I remember years ago in another context a report which mentioned "excess deaths" in some population, which were defined as being the deaths of those under the age of 65. Even then I took it personally!

Z 1:12 PM  

@Ellen S - The CDC certainly seems to have stats about flu for the over 65 age group. - CDC Flu Stats

Regarding A LA MORTE - literally "has the death," so seemingly idiomatic. For comparison, I might say of someone who is gravely ill that they, "look like death." It seems that adjectival/adverbial is a non-sequitur in this case. Would someone more fluent than I care to differ?

As for racism in the puzzle - here is a quick definition of terms that might help us to understand whether or not these puns are characteristically racist in nature. Some prof's quick definitions that I just found - not meant to replace years of study.

Mohair Sam 1:25 PM  

Lotta fun with this one. Played difficult here because of the NE. We loved the erstwhile gimme COrrEcT at 20A, and you can write affected all day and I will think effected - so ARTIER was tough for us.

@Rex - I hear "ORA close second" now and then, and use it a lot. It's a fun modifier of false confidence. "The ACPT? I'm dead sure I'll finish first . . . or a close second."

Very enjoyable Thursday - thanks Jow Krozel.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

I think the clue for "Blanch" (Boil for a short time) is slightly inaccurate since blanching is a two-step process that includes plunging in ice water. Perhaps I'm wrong? Enjoyed the puzzle nonetheless.

mac 1:39 PM  

Lovely long words, but I did not enjoy the theme much. I had "was a baby" at 18A, is "sobby" a word? Spell check does not accept it here.

Disappointing puzzle by Joe Krozel, whose work I usually like a lot.

Bird 1:41 PM  

No joy here as the clues were too tough/obscure/cute. First round got me next to nothing. Had B at 1A thinking it could be BANG, BLAM or BOOM. Dropped in OJS only because nothing else seemed to fit. And so forth. But once I got to 57A and looked back at what I had, answers fell a little easier.

So Christopher Lloyd has cousins that share parts of his name. Cool.
Thought alas = AH, ME.

@Anoa Bob – FYI, HTS is not a POC. The neighborhood is Washington Heights.

Kretch 1:46 PM  

As someone who rarely gets through Thursdays unscathed I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Perhaps a warped sense of humour and very little "PC" allowed me to jump past all the perceived slights and complete handily.

Blue Stater 1:50 PM  

The comments of JRW and others make it clear that once again, where a degree of expert knowledge is required to edit and solve a puzzle, the present regime comes up short. I've seen a lot of (IMO) misguided criticism of the late Eugene Maleska on this blog and elsewhere, but when it came to the field of my own expertise -- and, I suspect, that of others as well -- he was always right on the money.

okanaganer 2:04 PM  

I took one semester of spoken Japanese, just for the heck of it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I remember the instructor, Sensei Tanaka, mentioning how hard it was to replicate certain foreign names using Japanese syllables. "Canada" is dead easy: KA-NA-DA! But "United States"?...forget it!

A memorable example from his list was McDonalds:

chefbea 2:16 PM  

too late to read all the comments. Did not like the puzzle and couldn't figure it out. Understood wassabi. but the others made no sense at all.

Kretch 2:27 PM  

okanaganer - Always wondered if you lived in that valley..

Fred Romagnolo 2:52 PM  

still can't reconcile "pseudo" with dreamed or imagined

Lewis 3:31 PM  

@johnc -- I liked your ditty!

@Billy - "Words always preceding a date" should be "Words always followed by a date." Why? What's the difference?

I liked the clever clues -- such as to BANG, REHAB, and REP.

sanfranman59 3:59 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Thu 18:11, 18:30, 0.98, 44%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:40, 10:36, 1.01, 51%, Medium

Numinous 4:10 PM  

I just have to laugh at a lot of the comments here. It's so very cool that opinions can vary so broadly and that things some find amusing will set another off on an extreme rant. There is a quotation, I forget from whom that seems to me to apply to puzzle clues as well as to puzzle the criterati: "I wrote what you read but did you read what I wrote?" (Perhaps someone could clarify for me.)

Thanks to @I skip M-W for sending me on a linguistic search for obrigado and tempura which lead to a longish list of Japanese words from Portuguese. I'd forgotten about the 16th century contact. That led to Wiki discussions false cognates and false friends as well as a journey into discussions of proto-languages which set me off on some interesting speculations I'll comment on elsewhere, perhaps.

I really enjoyed this puzzle even though I found it hard. I loved wrapping my head around the puns with no real thought to the accuracy of pronunciation. ARTIER only gave me a moments pause, affect is no stranger to my vocabulary.

A thought occurs to me. It seems as though this blog exists because of the premise that there is an objective standard to which all puzzles should adhere. Yet none of the participants here can agree on that standard. The occasional discussions of crucimetrics bears that out. The above, possibly apocryphal quotation, supports that too. To me, puzzles reflect the infinite variability of language and offer a trip into the mind of the constructor (setter, in English English). It is that person's mind ONE is asked to enter and, as a consequence, that person's rules apply. The editor helps but it is still the world of the constructor. Were it not for the differences in our individually constructed worlds, crosswords would be bland theasaurical exercises.

So, yeah, I struggled with some of the fill but I enjoy the struggle when it is rewarded with "ahas" and lately, most solutions have been just that in an "Oh, now I see," kind of way.

Joe Krozel, danke, merci, grazi, gracias, spasibo and arigato.

Numinous 4:23 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Numinous 4:31 PM  

@Fred: Pseudo: Not real . . . .

BTW, I loved the ESL stories. I've acted as TA in some ESL classes and they really took me back.

And I really feel for you, @cascokid. I've been doing crosswords off and on for nearly 50 years and I still have problems. Maybe my mind is going though.

Anoa Bob 4:37 PM  

When I was in Japan I rode the trains and subways a lot. Since foreign words are written in katakana, which I had learned, I would while away the time waiting for the next ride by trying to decipher signs on billboards, vending machines, and such.

My first breakthrough came when I finally realized that a sign by a doorway at the train station with the syllables EH-RAY-BAY-TAH, meant ELEVATOR! Woohoo!

@okanaganer, I took a photo of a MAH-KOO-NOH-DAH-ROO-NOH in Okinawa. It had the golden arches and a sign that read DOO-RYE-BOO-SUH-ROO which is, tada, DRIVE THROUGH!

I still have my business card that was in English on one side and Nihongo (Japanese) on the other. My name in katakana is ROW-BAH-TOW FOO-ISH-SHA.

Kanji, the adopted Chinese characters, looked like random chicken scratching to me. Still does.

okanaganer 4:39 PM  

@Kretch...you bet; I'm in Penticton, down in the south near the US border. The "Palm Springs of Canada"...nice balmy -15C right now! (+5 deg. F)

okanaganer 4:48 PM  

Domo arigato, misto ROW-BAH-TOW!

wordie 4:53 PM  

@Lewis, re your question to Billy, not every date is preceded by "use by", but "use by" is (sort of mostly always) followed by a date. One can say "use by plugging into the socket and running over the carpet", e.g., so it's not always followed by a date. All-round bad clue.

@Z, it's "a (with accent) la mort" which means more or less "to death" or "gravely" or "fatally" as in "fatally wounded" or "gravely ill." It modifies an adjective, so it's an adverbial phrase. Maybe not an analysis that interests you, but it blows up my dress as a language aficionada.

Z 5:54 PM  

@wordie - accent or not, it's idiomatic, so the issue of whether or not it's adverbial is moot as far as whether or not the clue is wrong. I think the clue is correct. In fact, you used the clue as one of your meanings in your last post. However, my French is so rusty that I forgot the distinction between a and à so I'm more than willing to admit that I could be wrong.

Mohair Sam 7:41 PM  

@Numinous. Liked your post except disagree that "this blog exists because of the premise that there is an objective standard to which all puzzles should adhere."

Face it - this blog exists because of the subjective standards and opinions of Rex. Period. And that creates all the fun.

Not grandpamike 7:55 PM  

From September 28, 2006's blog post:

"First, please do not comment on puzzles the day they are printed. Further, many across the country get today's puzzle next week, so you shouldn't give away the fun for them.

Second, many of the words you are objecting to are entirely familiar to anyone who has solved puzzles even relatively briefly.

Your criticism that some of these words are not familiar to all people generally is an unfair criticism. Like any pastime, this one has its own world, and that includes stars with interesting names, animals familiar to those who watch the Animal Channel, etc.

This blog is just a bad idea.


Some people never listen. And apparently this blog exists so that mugs like us can kvetch.

Z 8:49 PM  

For @cascokid san. The first paragraph is certain to make you feel better.

Numinous 9:39 PM  

@Mohair Sam, Ok, Sam, may I call you that? I'll agree with you, up to a point. Yeah, It's Rex's blog and he gets to say what he likes. And, that is fun. However . . .

It seems to me (high school sharing in class cop out) that Rex makes a lot of statements that are not prefaced with any equivalent of "IMHO". Many of the contributors here also act like there is some arbitrary standard that should be adhered to.

Back to agreeing with you. Yeah, it's Rex's blog and it's a lot of fun for us. Nevertheles I still think the notion of an objective standard pertains and endures, however shakily, amongst the commenters.

So, can we agree that this blog is a lot of fun and that the varying viewpoints of all the participants, including our gracious host, makes it so?

Today's "Fun With Linguistics" eventually lead me to the wonderful perfection of the clue for 47A: "Give a dustbowl migrant a ride?" Long stories can be good but I'm going to comment on this on my (shameless plug) blog. It connects to other stuff that fascinates me that was tirggered by this puzzle. So, I'm going to go write that now.

Mohair Sam 10:27 PM  

Yes @Num, we can most certainly agree.

sanfranman59 10:38 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 6:04, 6:22, 0.95, 27%, Easy-Medium
Tue 10:30, 8:18, 1.27, 94%, Challenging (13th highest ratio of 217 Tuesdays)
Wed 8:25, 10:26, 0.81, 7%, Easy
Thu 18:20, 18:35, 0.99, 44%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:01, 4:00, 1.00, 47%, Medium
Tue 6:33, 5:14, 1.25, 96%, Challenging (9th highest ratio of 217 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:26, 6:15, 0.87, 15%, Easy
Thu 10:09, 10:24, 0.98, 42%, Medium

Anonymous 3:51 AM  

An awful lot of linguistic racism here. Funny to some, I guess.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

Jimmy Choo - a footwear designer.

Anonymous 5:32 PM  

Warning for slighly crude sexual humor.
A better clue for arigottow might be "foot fetishist Onassis scored?" which would require a slight change of fill: arigottoe.

I have another one:
The clue is "immune organ of midwestern diety" The answer is "ohiogodsthymus"

hee hee.

spacecraft 10:43 AM  

I enjoyed this one. Don't know if I'd call it easy-medium; it seemed I had to think about almost all the answers; no real out-and-out gimmes. Yet I didn't take all that long to finish. I call that "smooth," an adjective I hadn't applied to a Krozel before. This guy's getting better.

Toughest part was the middle. Was it OHMY, or AHME? And "Red state handouts" threw mr for a bit: you have to get out of the Dem./Rep. thing. Lots of the clues were like that, but none meanly unfair.

Good job, Joe. High coup.

No hand to speak of; I fold.

rain forest 1:47 PM  

@Spacey - "high coup". Good one. Could be clued as "overthrow of a mountain regime".

When teaching high school, an English teacher showed me something a student from Japan had written for a famous American - President Ring Kong. Aware of pronunciation issues, I was surprised to see it written that way.

A very enjoyable Krozel oeuvre today. When I entered WAS SOBBY, I said it aloud, and immediately thought of that green stuff you have with sushi, then went to the revealer, and the game was up. Lots of clever cluing, a few stretches, but a nice romp with a few chuckles thrown in.

Per your advice, @Diri, I omitted reading most of the comments today.

Dirigonzo 3:41 PM  

I RANaway before I RANHOME and my multivolume set was enc(yclopedia - remember those?) but other than that I second @spacey's assessment - smooth. I love punny puzzle (Frank A. Longo has been letting me down lately) so this was great fun for me.

@rainy - there are a few commenters I read regularly and I almost always click on @Z's links, the rest I scan or pass by completely. Nice to see you back.

Could two low pair (I'm speaking of my poker hand here, just to clarify) possibly hold up again?

sdcheezhd 4:15 PM  

Slow going. TRESMAL for ALAMORT. CUDDLES for NESTLES. GOAHEAD for CONSENT. Couldn't figure out what PSEUDOCOUP was supposed to be until I got here.

DMG 4:47 PM  

This puzzle and I seemed to be in two different universes. When I got the theme from the butchered "ARIGATO" , I looked, vainly, for the other themers to be similar conversational expressions. Also, thinking only of ice cream cones, and putting enthusE where INSPIRE was wanted held me up for awhile. I eventually slogged through, even accepting the excruciating WASSOBBY. So it was a DF, but not a fun one. Look forward to tomorrow!

@Diri: My full house is 5's and 3's. Wow, as I was writing that last sentence, my hand miraculously changed. Npw I have two pairs, 9's and 5's. gonna run before something more happens!

Dirigonzo 7:24 PM  

@sdcheezhd - I couldn't figure out the phonetic sudoku either but as someone said five weeks ago, having it in the center of the grid was a nice tip o' the hat to Wil Shortz.

@DMG - I hope yu mean you had inspirE where ENTHUSE was wanted because otherwise I have to redo that entire corner!

DMG 7:49 PM  

@Diri: Yeah- I got them backwards. I think this puzzle scrambled what little brain I have left!

Joe in Montreal 11:10 PM  

from syndication land. ALAMORTE is not right, and I just didn't like ODEUM. ODEON yes.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

I play golf 3 times a week and didn't get +2. Grrrrrrr

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