Mythical Greek who clew Castor / THU 11-6-14 / Product of organic decay / Hoopster Jeremy / Belated observation of 4/14/12 / Feast of unleavened bread / Airplane with propeller at back

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: PARTING of the RED / SEA — the word PARTING literally parts the (unclued) words RED and SEA. Assorted related words can be found around the grid:

Theme answers:
  • MOSES (19A: Leader of a noted 37-Across)
  • EGYPT (54A: Location of the 37-Across)
  • ISRAELI (11D: Beneficiary of the 37-Across, in modern times)
  • PHARAOH (41D: Loser on account of the 37-Across)
Word of the Day: PTOMAINE (37D: Product of organic decay) —
A basic nitrogenous organic compound produced by bacterial putrefaction of protein.

[Italian ptomaina, from Greek ptōma, corpse, from piptein, ptō-, to fall.]

Read more:
• • •

I was surprised at how straightforward this ended up being. The trick didn't trick me at all. Puzzle was easy enough that the PARTING RED SEA bit just filled itself in rather easily. I mean, I already had MOSES at that point, so putting together the answers/concept from inference wasn't tough. And that's it—the middle, literal part and then four pretty predictable related answers, with the slightly awkward cluing ("beneficiary" (?); "modern times") needed in order to make ISRAELI relevant. Not sure what subtextual message is being conveyed by aligning (via symmetry) ISRAELI statesman Abba EBAN with a YETI. Or former Egyptian president Anwar SADAT with the family UNSER. Perhaps nothing. But perhaps conspiracy theory. Fill on this one is middling to below middling, except for BEER PONG, which is fabulous, both because it's a colorful phrase, and because it ties in perfectly with the theme (Don't believe me? Check your bible … it's toward the back somewhere …)

I did not know PTOMAINE, so I needed every cross there. I also had no idea what the clue at 43A: Belated observation of 4/14/12 was going for, so when I wrote in BARGAIN (43D: Deal) and thus picked up the "B" in BERG, I had no idea why BERG was right. I get it now, but I wonder if this clue isn't trying a little too hard to be clever. The clue refers to the sinking of the Titanic. So the date in question is 1912, not 2012. "Belated observation" refers, presumably, to the fact that no one saw the BERG 'til it was too late to do anything about it. OK. Fine. But what you have to ask yourself is: what did the Titanic hit? If you answered iceBERG, and you did, then you can see at least part of what makes the payoff here somewhat underwhelming (leaving aside the fact that many solvers will have to look up the date, or won't even bother). All of which raises the question (or at least a question): are there other, non-ice BERGs? "'Look out for that dirtberg!' she cried." I don't think I've seen any other prefixes on BERG besides ice. So you'd think we'd let BERG stand alone in common parlance. And yet …

I had PADWAN (!?) for OBI-WAN for a tiny bit. Forgot about IDAS (3D: Mythical Greek who slew Castor), as I (and millions of others, no doubt) am wont to do. I always, and I mean always, spell SAO PAULO "Sao Paolo," so that happened. Went for PEEP AT before PEEPER (47D: Eye). Misspelled PESACH "Pasach" (25A: Feast of unleavened bread). So basically my mistakes were not exciting. And the puzzle itself was not that exciting. And so here we are.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Whirred Whacks 12:11 AM  

    Good solid puzzle: I liked it.

    For 27 down: "October War leader":
    Looking at _A_A_
    I first put down (Moshe) DAYAN, who was the Israeli Defense Minister during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. That didn't work, and then I wrote in SADAT (who was Egypt's leader).

    For 49 down: "Blue eyes, e.g."
    I had _RA__
    I put down FRANK before TRAIT

    Steve J 12:19 AM  

    Didn't click with this one at all. Seemed too straightforward and flat. Didn't even notice RED nor SEA as I solved, leading me to having to hunt around for them after I was done, as PARTING was obviously missing something as a theme hook. Even with the RED SEA in place, it was missing some verve or a good punchline or something.

    No verve outside the theme, either. Nothing wrong with this one, but nothing noteworthy, either. Just there.

    Elaine2 12:19 AM  

    I liked it, too.

    BTW -- "Pesach" could be considered a theme answer, because in Jewish tradition the parting of the Red Sea took place during what became the holiday of Pesach (Passover). But there's no other theme answer which is symmetrical with Pesach, so maybe it wasn't supposed to be a themer.

    Carola 12:20 AM  

    Much easier than yesterday's for me. Solving experience similar to @Rex's, with the theme and RED SEA PARTING appearing quickly. Smiled at being able to write in OBIWAN immediately after struggling yesterday with OB???

    I liked the line MOSES EMIGRATED to describe the Exodus, needed to look up PESACH to understand how it fit with that theme. Also liked the ecumenical inclusion of two Christian saints and ONE SEC facing off against ETERNITY.

    Charles Flaster 12:29 AM  

    EZ . Very well done . Why wouldn't it run during Passover? Nice positioning of PESACH above EBAN and RED/PARTING/SEA.
    ISRAELI gave me the spark to see the theme and rather straightforward after that.
    Exactly same feeling as Rex about BERG .
    Loved cluing for EBAN, OREGON and SKI POLES.
    Had in a sec for ONE SEC but IN A SENSE corrected that.
    Inglourious Basterds( note sp.) and Nebraska were two enjoyable( relatively recent ) movies for me.
    Bravo MG.

    jae 12:40 AM  

    Pretty much the opposite of Rex.  Medium-tough Thurs. for me.  Tricky clues, cross referenced theme, a couple of WOEs (PRESACH, IDAS, NISI) made for a bit of staring, especially in SW. 

    The clue for 9d reminded of a clue used for an ACPT puzzle a few years ago...Snake carving?  Nice to see a variation of it.

    Erasure:  anakiN before OBIWAN

    Liked this a lot.  Thanks Matt!

    Unknown 12:46 AM  

    55 min and a bit of a nail biter for a puzzle that was much easier than that. Medium mostly with some medium challenging fill. After RHEn went in as my bird (!?), PARTING became invisible, but really, the word PARTING pictographically parting RED and SEA is at best dissonant and at worst impaired. The redundancy is inelegant. Oh. Also unfortunate that ISRAELI couldn't be Israelite. (Was Benjamin's caucus ever known as Disraeliates?)

    charades for BEERPONG created genuine slowness in the NE

    PTOMAINE is certainly new. So is PESACH. I committed to GUARANTOR (two A's) to pull it out. Nice clue for OREGON. I'll be hearing from the retired priest re: [Priestify] Yes, I expect to get a lot of mileage from that.

    Clark 12:59 AM  

    Obi Wan, my current avatar, is pleased to see his full name instead of the lame Japanese sash. This was much easier for me than yesterday, though I have never come across PTOMAINE before.

    Debbie 1:36 AM  

    I would just like to point out that Pesach is also a theme answer. The 7th day of that festival marks the Parting of the Red Sea.

    RnRGhost57 1:47 AM  

    Enjoyed the Jewish motif. Thanks Mr. Ginsberg

    George Barany 1:48 AM  

    Stopping by to comment about PESACH = Passover, and see that @Elaine 2 and @Charles Flaster and (in the time it took to write out and proofread this) @Debbie have already noticed that. Unfortunately, nothing theme-related in a symmetrical position.

    Abba EBAN (ISRAELI ambassador to the UN) and Moshe Dayan (general with eye-patch; not an answer in puzzle but the misdirect on 27-Down) were prominent figures associated with the 1967 6-Day War, while Anwar SADAT (the correct answer to 27-Down) was a party in the Yom Kippur War. Not providing links today because all of this easily found on google, and that includes this joke widely told by Eban (and many others):

    A scorpion and a frog meet on the banks of the Jordan River. The scorpion asks the frog to ferry him across. The frog responds, "are you out of your mind!? How do I know you will not sting and paralyze me as we cross?" The scorpion argues, "C'mon, be reasonable. If I were to sting and paralyze you, I would drown as well!" The frog is convinced of this logic, and begins carrying the scorpion across the river. With only a hundred yards or so to go, the scorpion stings the frog. As the poison begins to take effect, and the frog struggles to remain above the waves, he cries out, "Why?" The scorpion's reply: "This is the Middle East."

    George Barany 1:58 AM  

    Not to overstay my welcome, but it occurred to me after posting that there is a new movie coming out in about a month from now, called "Exodus: Gods and Kings," starring Christian Bale as Moses. (Interestingly, the same actor played Jesus in a 1999 made-for-TV movie).

    Plus, I trust most readers of this blog are familiar with this blanket description of essentially all Jewish holidays (including Chanukkah, Purim, and Passover, to name just three): They tried to exterminate us. We won. Let's eat.

    Hitler goes to a fortune teller. She tells him he will die on a Jewish holiday. Which one, he asks? Whenever you die, it will be a Jewish holiday.

    chefwen 2:05 AM  

    I made this a lot more difficult than need be. Negativity always enters my head when I see cross reference and blank clues. AARGH!

    On the plus side I did like the clue for SKI POLES and TIRE IRON.
    BEER PONG brought a laugh. Did not know PESACH, that was my WOD.

    Moly Shu 2:10 AM  

    Mostly easy here, picked up the theme at ISRAELI. Agree with the BERG problem. Had to come here to find out what the answer meant. Don't like it, now that it's been explained. Now, something along the same lines, how is ADDS an answer for tots? Is tots an abbreviated form of totals, and if so, who uses it and in what context? These two diminished my enjoyment of the puzzle considerably.

    Did like the clues for OREGON, SKIPOLES, and ESSEN.

    jae 2:58 AM  

    @Moly Shu - Yup, tots = totals as in "let's tots up that bar tab and split it six ways"...

    Anonymous 4:10 AM  

    No, as in "He tots up the bar tab and gets it wrong - can you believe that?"

    GILL I. 5:01 AM  

    This had a whatevs vibe for me. Maybe if BRYANT had been tossed out I would have enjoyed it more. I also want to know what happened to Passover....!
    For some reason, HONOLULU, ST THOMAS and SAO PAULO look all wrong in this puzzle. I'm also confused with AMAN being unanimously after "to".
    Liked HEDONIST because every time I go out, I want to have a good time.
    Favorite part of this was getting a groan chuckle from George's joke.....?

    mac 5:11 AM  

    Medium for me.

    I started out with problems, because on the printed grid the lines under Dern and mope were not there - I expected trouble. Also, when Idas showed up, I wanted to somehow rebus an M in.

    Agree, clue for ski poles was great, and beer pong is fantastic.

    Conrad 6:35 AM  

    I fell into two of Mr. Ginsberg's traps: kiDS for ADDS and BaYlor for BRYANT. That made GUARANTOR very hard to see and the puzzle medium-challenging here. Aside from that it was an easy Thursday.

    Anonymous 7:20 AM  

    I didn't understand why the word "manner" was the answer to the clue "sort"

    LHS 888 7:56 AM  

    Easy-medium Thursday for me. 45 min. to finish. I spent the first 10 min. looking for a possible rebus. ESSEN was a gimme and my first entry. ISRAELI was the first themer in. AMAN was a gimme that gave me BRYANT off only the N. BERG was no problem for me as I was able to get the abbreviated Titanic clue.

    Mid-west was the last to fall. I know Passover. PESACH was a WOE that I was only able to get from crosses. Fortunately SADAT was my first guess, else I would have been in some trouble. Only write-over was hangon before ONESEC.

    Hand up for spelling SAOPAULO with 3 O's at first, but YURI sorted that out quickly.

    I really liked this puzzle. The theme was get table and helped me thru some potential trouble spots. Thanks MG / WS!

    joho 7:58 AM  

    I can never remember how to spell PHARAOH.

    Thought the PARTING of the RED SEA was clever and appreciated the bonus answer, PESACH.

    STTHOMAS and HONOLULU made me dream of traveling to breezy, sunny beaches.


    Dorothy Biggs 7:59 AM  

    Had "anakiN" for a while before I saw the error of my ways.

    Tots =/= ADDS. It just doesn't.

    I just deleted an entire rant on the presence of the Abrahamic myth in this puzzle and in our collective psyche...while beautiful and, for some, quite meaningful, it is, IMO, way too prominent in our culture. Glad the Greeks got a shout out today too. I'm looking forward to a Sisyphus-themed puzzle in the near future.

    And somewhat related, I don't think "ISRAELI" is equivalent to Israelite. An Israeli lives in the state that was formed in 1948. It consists of lots of different kinds of nationalities (many are European) of people who settled there after it became a state. Israelites were a tribe of people who ostensibly came from the middle east. I think you would be truly hard pressed to find someone living in Israel who even part way is connected to the 12-tribe version of people from the Bible.

    Speaking of tribes, I am from the tribe of Nebraska and grew up near where the film was shot. So I guess I benefitted from that. DERN, it seems, is my MOSES.

    Bottom line, the puzzle was really easy but too religious for my blood...

    tthax 8:10 AM  

    Can someone please explain the answer to the "snake's place, in part" clue, which I got but I don't know why.

    zac 8:14 AM  

    Snake river.

    zac 8:16 AM  

    Also, tot does equal add. It's right there in a standard dictionary. Not knowing and something not being real are two completely different things.

    silasxl 8:34 AM  

    Odd solving experience. It felt difficult, but I finished it faster than I did Monday's. Hand up for Anakin. As an alum of the University of Alabama ( undergraduate and law), I'm ashamed of how long it took me get 34 down. Roll Tide, y'all!

    joho 8:36 AM  

    @Gill I.P., TO A MAN means unanimously.

    Anonymous 8:37 AM  

    What a perfect puzzle for...November?

    Anonymous 8:52 AM  

    Surprised at how many people are not familiar with PTOMAINE.

    he's BACK 8:53 AM  

    Wow, rex's full and complete assininity is on display today, isn't it? The arrogance ("oh well I had MOSES already!"), the condescension ("fill is below middling"), the pedantry ("are there other, non-ice BERGs?").
    And today he likes BEERPONG, when the last time a similar clue came up he was oh so saddened because it was an activity in which his precious daughter would be participating in the near future.
    Once an ass, always an ass.
    Fun puzzle, nice theme, nice cluing.

    Sir Hillary 8:53 AM  

    Not too exciting, but a good set of theme entries and Jewish/Middle East extras -- PESACH, SADAT, EBAN and (almost) SHIM[on] Peres and A[m]MAN Jordan.

    Nitpick: I would call SAOPAULO a World Cup venue, not a host. Brazil was the host.

    Horace S. Patoot 8:56 AM  

    I took three years of German about 45 years ago, but I won't let that stop me from opining: BERG is German for "mountain". A mountain of ice is therefore an eisBERG. Thus, I don't find iceberg a bit bothersome, because it is a direct translation and a distinction from the more ordinary type of berg, which is the rock type.

    moses supposes... 8:57 AM  

    I confidently put ANAKIN where OBIWON was supposed to go. Left me wandering in the (sinai?) desert for a bit, but then the Red Sea parted and all was well.
    Fun puzzle!

    LHS 888 9:00 AM  

    @silasxl - I was lucky to remember that my Dad played for Bear BRYANT at the University of Kentucky back in 1948, or so!

    AliasZ 9:01 AM  

    The key to figuring the BERG clue was not the year of 1912 vs. 2012, but the date when the iceBERG was observed belatedly on the night before the Titanic actually sank (4/15). Thus when I saw the date 4/14, I knew it had to be the infamous iceBERG, and the year was 1912, not 1812 when Napoleon was defeated in Russia, or 1712 when Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor was crowned king of Hungary, or 1612 when German composer Hans Leo Haßler passed away. On the other hand, the reason Austrian composer Alban BERG was passed over [see what I did here?] in favor of the iceBERG must be due to the fact that he was celebrating his first wedding anniversary around the same time the Titanic sank, but very few people would know that.

    SKIP OLES? -- OK, i'll skip'em. I will not root for the toreador.
    PTOMAINE reminded my of Claudius Ptolemaeus (Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος AD 90-168) the Alexandrian scientist known as Ptolemy. He wrote on astronomy, geography, optics, music, astrology, etc.
    POSEDAS -- members of the family of one-time Yankee catcher, hip-hip-Jorge Poseda. Right?
    HEDONIST -- comes from "he done this, he done that, he done lotsa things." It's only logical to call such a person a HE DON-IST.

    Loved the puzzle, thanks Matt.

    He who binds to himself a joy
    Does the winged life destroy;
    But he who kisses the joy as it flies
    Lives in ETERNITY's sun rise.

    William Blake (1757-1827)

    With this and a dancing and leaping madrigal by Hans Leo Haßler (1564-1612) I will now part. (Hi @Leapy)

    PARTING is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow. - Shakes.

    Lewis 9:06 AM  

    This was a good one -- look how clean the grid is, and look, only four threes. I loved the clues for TIREIRON, BRYANT, EBAN, and SKIPOLES, and I loved the BERG clue, as it gave me a very nice aha moment. I liked ODDONE and GOOP.

    And, to think like @leapy for a moment, was it not MOSES who said, "Let my PEEPER GOOP"?

    Ludyjynn 9:06 AM  

    Liked it, but would have appreciated it more if it ran during PESACH. Would have been nice to see 'exodus' in the grid.

    I really appreciated the BERG answer taken in context of the theme, as so many Jewish surnames, mine included, as well as the constructor's, have that suffix!

    @GeorgeB, your Hitler 'joke' made my day.

    @NCAPres, many, many of those who EMIGRATED from other places to ISRAEL can trace their roots back to the 12 tribes. As can many Jews who remain part of the Diaspora.

    This one fell easy for me. Thanks, MG and WS.

    Anonymous 9:13 AM  


    When you figure out the clue to 9D OREGON, be sure to explain it to the author. "I can't do my own puzzles"

    Bird 9:13 AM  

    Meh. Liked clues for 1A and a few others, but not much else. The trick was too straightforward to be enjoyable.

    I've never heard TOT used for add. Who says that? That corner was a bitch.

    Bring back the rebus

    Agree that 59A was a venue.

    Lewis 9:19 AM  

    Factoid: SAO PAULO has the largest number of helicopters in the world, with 2,000 flights a day in 2012. The second and third positions are held by New York City and Tokyo.

    Quotoid: "Do your damnedest in an ostentatious MANNER all the time." -- George Patton

    jberg 9:23 AM  

    Nice to see all of you talking about me! @Rex, there are many of us non-ice BERGs, but I have to admit we're mostly not crossworthy, aside from the afore mentioned Alban, and maybe Moe and Gertrude.

    But nice as it was to see my name in the puzzle, I didn't understand it either until I came here. Now I'm impressed by the number of commenters who knew the date!

    Captcha today = the number of the beast. Not sure what will happen after I enter it!

    jberg 9:23 AM  

    Whew! Got through that safely.

    Unknown 9:39 AM  

    Check out for smart xword reviews!

    Z 9:59 AM  

    Injuring ETERNITY with a TIRE IRON seems crass. OBI WAN would use a light saber.

    @George B - I like my humor the way I like my coffee, dark and bitter. Four Star of Davids for you.

    @Carola - besides Thomas and Paulo, we also have ST. EM, patron saint of Oz.

    @Gill IP - the tropics with SKI POLES and a YETI in a puzzle about three millennia old EGYPTian politics caused me some dissonance, too. For those saying PESACH doesn't have a thematic parallel - I'm thinking you can make SPARSE work with a little thought.

    Anakin like so many others, but I am seemingly unique in trying uRsiNe before BRYANT. Ursine Bryant rolls of the tongue, though.

    Ellen S 10:50 AM  

    Hand up here for SAO PAoLO before YURI fixed it. That "o" is so wrong when I put it in Google, I am only offered alternatives with the correct spelling.

    @Bird, TOTS is derived from totals, and I say it, but maybe not as often as I say PRITHEE. (to lunch date: "Prithee, after you've totted up the bill including the tip, would you tell me my share?"

    JenCT 10:59 AM  

    @George Barany: LOL, several times!

    Ooh, how thrilling to use this blog to anonymously take jabs at @Rex.

    Some people really need to Get A Life

    r.alphbunker 11:06 AM  

    Why not have MOSES between RED and SEA?

    I like Matt Ginsberg's work. He did a lightbulb joke puzzle for the New York Sun in 2007 that is fun:

    Thanks for the joke. I have heard the scorpion/frog one with the punchline, "Yes, but that is my nature"

    And search for "Red Sea" at for some cartoons featuring Moses. I loved the one that showed him crossing Grand Central Parkway

    "Let my PEEPER GOOP"
    Best xword generated pun ever!

    @Z you might like Jim Holt's "Stop me if you've heard this: A history and philosophy of jokes"

    r.alphbunker 11:06 AM  

    Why not have MOSES between RED and SEA?

    I like Matt Ginsberg's work. He did a lightbulb joke puzzle for the New York Sun in 2007 that is fun:

    Thanks for the joke. I have heard the scorpion/frog one with the punchline, "Yes, but that is my nature"

    And search for "Red Sea" at for some cartoons featuring Moses. I loved the one that showed him crossing Grand Central Parkway

    "Let my PEEPER GOOP"
    Best xword generated pun ever!

    @Z you might like Jim Holt's "Stop me if you've heard this: A history and philosophy of jokes"

    Bob Kerfuffle 11:31 AM  

    Sorry to say, but . . . meh.

    old timer 11:35 AM  

    I thought it was a good puzzle. Not as tough as some Thursdays but not easy either. My first answer was "a man". Tot for add is in my vocabulary.

    I wanted "seders" where "pesach" is, but I did remember the spelling of the holiday. Also wanted St. Croix for St. Thomas.

    At first I thought the blank spaces has something to do with from "SEA to shining SEA" One SEA was right, and the other became clearer as the theme did.

    The puzzle was full of words that even a copy editor needs to spell-check. PESACH, yes, but also PHARAOH.

    jdv 11:35 AM  

    Challenging. SW was painful. After many minutes of staring at a completely blank corner, I threw URDU at the wall and it stuck. ORDAIN quickly followed. ADDS=TOTS is Stumper-level cluing. Even when ADDS was filled in, it took awhile to register. Not sure if TOT is related to IN TOTO. Needed all the crosses for PESACH and PTOMAINE. Overall, this puzzle felt awkward and well outside my wavelength.

    Fred Romagnolo 11:55 AM  

    Can't @he'sBack not see that his (hers?) remarks are distasteful, and only make him (her?) look like a snot? Oddly enough I got started with GUARANTOR. Didn't know Bryant, a coach? a player? Is the school Bama? Don't know BEER PONG. I had no idea that OBIWAN wasn't two words. Finished because of crossings and guesses. If you remember to pronounce it in 3 syllables, it helps to remember the spelling of PHARAOH. Liked the RED PARTING SEA gimmick, worthy of a Thursday.

    Leapfinger 11:59 AM  

    Dang, @Lewis, you out-thought Leapy today. Your 'Let my PEEPER GOOP' still has me aroar! That O.D. DONE DONE me in!

    @Rex, if you'll allow suffices, there's BERGschrund; if you insist on prefices, you can't ignore SteinBERG, D.

    @GeorgeB. I think that frog-scorpion tail took place on the River yORDAIN. [I too loved 'priestify, @Casco]

    Lovely multi-faceted post, @Alias, and not only because of that mad wriggle at the end.

    @NCAPrez, ISRAELI also GRATED on me as being INAPT vis-a-vis ISRAELIte. IN A SENSE, they covered their, um, selves with that clunky clue ending. And if there aren't complaints about other mythic figures, no need to bend the shape for religious ones.

    Not a tough solve -- only a couple of early stutter-starts with INASEC and a WAG at AJAX before IDAS -- but a nicely integrated theme and some top-notch fill and clues. No need to REDescribe all the theme components and supporting players, only an apology that PESACH put some solvers at a disadvantage.

    Just loved the 'winter plantings' SKIPOLES. I've found the seeds tough as nails to germinate, so usually start them from cuttings. If they survive the summer drought, they're lovely in bloom thoughout the winter, often till PESACH. Rather like hardy cyclamen, for which I never SKIP OLES. OTOH, Polo Serbs a different ball of wax.

    Also liked how some fill was suggestive with a few early letters in place. Thought TIRE- might prove to be TIREsias, wondered seeriously whether s/he had ever appeared in a NYT grid. Anyone?

    Ditto PTO- which I quickly thought would turn into PTOMAINE, but held off, since the EGYPT vibe made PTOLEMEE [var] a possibility. Is it kosher to say eGYPt? How about vibe-ish? More may come up later about PTOMAINE, but I'll wait, just to stay clear of the breakfast test.

    Almost forgot: @CascoK, got a major kick out of your RHEA x WREN crossing, but sadly suspect an anatomic if not a genetic incompatibility. Never hurts to try, though.

    Bottom line: No aggravated MOPEry atall, just a very nice meander that made this HEDONIST tres happy. Shan't be taking a TIREIRON to this MG.

    [hmmm, 1919... what happened then?]

    Mohair Sam 12:15 PM  

    Liked the thing a lot. Might have been an easy Thursday but was absolutely positive of dAyAn, and PESACH and the whereabouts of Charlotte were Greek. After a long workout we finally got PTOMAINE and everything fell in a hurry. Still, it was medium/challenging based on the effort expended.

    BERG a gimme here, which gave us BARGAIN and opened up the SE.


    Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:19 PM  

    Woulda preferred CHARLATANHESTON in the middle. Don't seem like I'm askin for all that much... But, hey -- lots of little red ponies in this puz, too. Frinstance...

    1. I really have a soft spot for a themed puz that only has one finger (of black squares) juttin out at the top and bottom of the grid. Primo. Used to see that a lot in the old NYT puzs, back in the days when PHARAOH was still solvin. thUmbsUp. Or, at least, fingersUp.

    2. TOTS = ADDS. Say what U will, but I luv inhabitin a specialized planet where that there first sentence is true. Planet Ginsberg. I'm welcome there, any old time.

    3. Little known facts. YETI license. MOSES once lived in HONOLULU and STTHOMAS. NISI actually means somethin.

    4. Themers are shorter than the non-themers. Now, normally this is considered scandalous, right here in River City. How are the poor, defenseless solvers supposed to solve a real hard NYT puzzle -- PUZZLE, mind U -- if U do something **tricky** like that? gasp. 3.25 stars. Blah, blah, blah... etc. har. I say: bring it on, dude. Theme rules? We don't need no stinkin theme rules. snort.

    5. BERG. This was worth the price of admission, just for the button it evidentially pushed on @63. Wowzer. Pop some popcorn, Idas, we're gonna be here for a (fun) while... dirtBERG? har! Great stuff. Might I also suggest ginsBERG? Brilliant imbedded selfie, Matt.
    11/6/14: The Day 63 Hit the BERG at 43A. Epic.

    6. HATE(S). As in, I have many HATES for pewits. And U folks think I talk funny?!?

    7. Five U's. One above average. Lil darlins.

    Happy Partin of the Red Sea Day, y'all!


    Mr. Benson 12:42 PM  

    BERG as opposed to iceBERG is just fine, because the guy with the binoculars is said to have yelled "BERG!" just when it was too late. I believe this happened just before the Celine Dion music started playing.

    Zipporah 12:43 PM  

    Row 8 should have been


    Mohair Sam 1:09 PM  

    The 4/14 clue made BERG a gimme for Gillian Welch fans because of her wonderful song "April the 14th" which she also calls "Ruination Day." It is the date Lincoln was shot, and the date the Titanic hit the BERG.

    Zipporah 1:22 PM  

    Sorry, @r.alphbunker. Din't intend to step on y'r MOSES' Toeses.

    Anonymous 1:22 PM  

    This puzzle ranks as one of the more obscure puzzles. And I like Matt Ginsberg puzzles, however he must have spent a lot of time figuring out how to be more clever than usual.

    Whirred Whacks 1:32 PM  

    My Masters swim coach opens every workout with a joke, and it gets everyone in the mood to perform.

    I think @George Barany should post a joke on "Rex Parker" every day! It would get all of us cruciverbalists in the mood as well.

    Rim shot!

    M and Aberg 1:40 PM  

    @WWhacks: yep. Hard to beat a good warm-up (or postmortem) joke.

    Example of a ('berg-like) partial selfie:

    Peace on Earth, good will toward all the 'Bergs...

    Last Silver Bulletberg 1:46 PM  

    Anagram partial selfie:


    I have a lot of loves for rimshots.

    M ANd A

    Anagram, you say? 1:48 PM  

    It's good to have someone who gives

    a dAMn!

    Not the Real George Barany 2:10 PM  

    Two engineers are meeting for lunch. The second arrives on a bicycle that the first doesn't recognize.

    "Where'd you get the bike?" the first asks.

    The second explained, "It was the weirdest thing. I was walking over here when a beautiful woman rode up on a bike, hopped off, tore off all her clothes and said 'take what you want!' So I took the bike."

    "Good call," mused the first, " the clothes probably wouldn't have fit."

    r.alphbunker 2:21 PM  

    @Not the real George Barany
    As an engineer I must really respond to the libelous joke you posted.

    Three engineers and three salesmen took a train to a product show. One engineer bought a ticket and the other two did not. Each salesman bought a ticket. When the conductor was coming around punching tickets, the three engineers when into one of the bathrooms. When the conductor knocked on the door the programmer who bought the ticket slipped it under the door and the conductor went on his way.

    The salesmen observed this and on the return trip only one salesman bought a ticket. The engineers bought none. The salesmen went into the bathroom awaiting the conductors knock. Instead one of the engineers knocked, got the ticket which allowed them to repeat the trick without having to buy any ticket.

    Fred Smith 2:47 PM  

    r.alph --

    As the salesman who actually bought a ticket on the return trip, I must object to your having caused me to get thrown off the train after the real conductor came by!,,

    -- Fred

    Train Conductor 3:46 PM  

    Yeah but the three engineers just planned to go for the day, and the three salesmen were manning booths for the whole product show, so haha, the engineers had to stay two extra days to save the price of three tickets.

    And the clothes might have fit his wife.

    analgesia 3:54 PM  

    Today was the first time I realized that it is almost ANACIN skywalker. A painless enough character, I suppose...

    Joe the Plumber 4:09 PM  

    @Train Conductor - An engineer with a wife? You're kidding, right?

    Phyllis Stine 4:10 PM  


    Another term for bladder?

    Martel Moopsbane 4:16 PM  

    Why did the engineers need tickets? Weren't they driving the train?

    mathguy 5:40 PM  

    @George Barany: Loved your blanket description of all Jewish holidays. I hope I remember it for when I have lunch with Al Winetrub next week.

    GILL I. 6:31 PM  

    @joho...Thank you. I've NEVER heard To A MAN before nor for that matter, INAPT without its E. You might as well throw in the TOT for good measure.

    ZenMonkey 7:31 PM  

    My mother (50-year NYT solver) and I agreed this is the Jewiest puzzle for no apparent reason we've ever seen. I wonder how well it plays in places where our tribe is not so firmly ensconced as NYC. I honestly wouldn't expect any gentile to know PESACH (as opposed to "Passover"). Although that didn't stop me from inviting my non-Jewish friends to my grandma's seders and enjoying their attempts to politely deal with gefilte fish.

    REM 8:07 PM  

    Take a break, driver 8.

    Anonymous 8:13 PM  

    Biorhythms must be bad or mood or something. Thought puzzle was very hard and not very satisfying, having nothing to do with religious flavor.

    And on that front...prefer George's links to other puzzles over bad Hitler jokes.

    Just saying.

    GILL I. 8:16 PM  

    @ZenMonkey:....You really aught to stop be here more often. Your stories are wonderful! I'll have to use Jewiest sometime soon....;-)

    Teedmn 8:18 PM  

    I agree with @Rex and others that this was mostly workman-like rather than clever. My one Aha moment was more of an "I see" nod upon filling in BERG.

    However, a few things learned - didn't know Honolulu was the southernmost capital and hadn't known the name IDAS.

    Big smile for PTOMAINE. A fellow Chem-E student back in my college days lived in a house consisting of eight guys, each of whom had to cook a meal. My friend would often call the evening's offering PTOMAINE. All these years, I've mistakenly thought it was similar to salmonella, not a decay product. Though I guess my friend wasn't misusing it, necessarily. Just me. :-)

    GILL I. 8:43 PM  

    Maybe that should be ought? I don't know any more.

    ZenMonkey 8:56 PM  

    @Gill what a lovely thing to say, thanks! I love the adjective "Jewy" but you realllly have to know your audience!

    Leapfinger 9:12 PM  

    What is this? "Jewier Than Thou" hour? N.B. There are no good Hitler jokes.

    Gill-Fleur, aught has nothing to do with it, but if you're going to throw in the TOT, you may be throwing out the bebe with the eau de bain. Neertheless, shall stand behind you to a woman!

    Now have a new earworm going: PTOMAINE to the tune of "Cocaine"

    Z 9:45 PM  

    Good Hitler via à vis bad Hitler jokes, jewiest puzzles, Jewier than thou posts.... Me, I'm the Klein Bottle of Jewishness. TULIP, and a Spellcaster for good measure.

    If you wanna hang out you've got to take her out, PTOMAINE
    If you wanna get down, down on the ground, PTOMAINE
    She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie, PTOMAINE

    If you got bad news, you wanna kick them blues, PTOMAINE
    When your day is done and you wanna run, PTOMAINE
    She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie, PTOMAINE

    If your thing is gone and you wanna ride on, PTOMAINE
    Don't forget this fact, you can't get it back, PTOMAINE
    She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie, PTOMAINE

    She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie, PTOMAINE

    Teedmn 9:46 PM  

    Hey @Leapfinger, I'm sure that if one got PTOMAINE poisoning, one would wanna get down, down on the ground, PTOMAINE :-).

    OISK 10:44 PM  

    @Ralph Bunker - IIRC, it wasn't Moses who parted the Red Sea, it was Aaron. (or more correctly, it was G-d). Didn't like "tot" as a clue for "add" , but generally enjoyed the solve, which was about right for a Thursday. I had an uncle named "Pesach," and Moses's brother Aaron, according to legend, is my direct ancestor, through a few thousand years of males. It was kind of a "Jewy" puzzle, which doesn't bother me, of course, while yesterday's "pop song" puzzle was very annoying to me. I liked today's.

    ZenMonkey 11:14 PM  

    Sorry, Eric:

    If you wanna putresce, better cook your food less
    If you're looking to spew, eat that hamburger blue

    You might die, you might die, you might die...

    Anonymous 1:48 AM  

    A very deep Yiddish/Jewish puzzle, to a very annoying degree. If such density was star trek & wars or sports, there would be tons of serious whining. PESACH? Crossing SADAT? Ick.

    Ellen S 1:51 AM  

    Sure glad I came back here. Jewiest? What a perfect description of the puzzle.

    @Gill I.P., instead of neertheless, you might try natheless. Pogo Possum (or one of his friends) used it in a sentence: "Natheless to say, I'm only here because @Rex han't posted on the Friday puzzle yet."

    spacecraft 12:00 PM  

    Not easy-medium for me. I know a few Jewish holidays, but never heard of PESACH till today. That sucker went in 100% on crosses.

    OBIWAN was not an immediate gimme, either. It coulda been ANAKIN...for all I knew it coulda been GEORGE!

    I felt as though I needed a TIREIRON to pry into this baby; finally found one in OSTE, which led to the tool, and my first themer was EGYPT. Hmmm. Rusty on the geographic end, I didn't even know EGYPT HAD any seas, yet UNSER et al gave me SEA--and right then I should've grokked it: RED--PARTING--SEA, but I got stuck. The center was a chore: I thought of PAYTON or BAYLOR, but forgot about ol' Paul for the field bear. Still hung up on THE--(some name)--SEA. Finally I stopped trying to stretch BAHAMAS into 44a when STTHOMAS lit a bulb, so the schedule thing was just an EVENT (go figure, when so many of the other clues were downright mean--"Tots" for ADDS, e.g.), and then I saw it. Not THE, but RED! Ah, the mental clouds were PARTING!

    Snake's place = OREGON...that went in on crosses, too, and it took a while: ah, the river. One thinks of Idaho, but of course it could meander into neighbor states. Or from them, I don't know.

    PUSHER. Of all the ways to clue that. I had no idea such a contraption could fly, much less what it might be called. Yeesh, my captcha just changed! Time to wrap up.

    Tough all the way--but done! A.

    1740: WAIT ONE SEC! What was the first one??

    Anonymous 1:06 PM  

    I recall Obiwan being a title, not a name.

    rondo 1:11 PM  

    Kinda medium-ish today. One major writeover at 1a, had the OLES at the end and put in pothOLES - as if I could plant my tire into one, as often happens in this neck of the woods.
    The longest 2-word sentence in the bible - MOSES EMIGRATED??? It's right there on the fourth line down.
    Appreciated how few 3 letter words today.
    My former dentist warned me of the 3 RHEAs - pia, dia and gono - quite the chair-side manner.
    Nothing EERIER than when the HEDONIST PEEPER LEERS.

    10700 = 8 I won't MOPE.

    bob m 2:27 PM  

    Red Sea is not in egypt

    bob m 2:31 PM  

    Red Sea is in gulf of Aqaba between Asia and Africa

    Z 2:45 PM  

    @bob m - The Israelites were fleeing EGYPT when the PARTING of the Red Sea by MOSES occurred. The clue and answer are fine.

    Moses 2:47 PM  

    @bob m - The clue for 54a (EGYPT) reads "location of the 37 across".
    37a answer is PARTING. If the PARTING didn't occur in EGYPT, how the hell did my people and me escape those Egyptians??

    703 - holy MOSES

    Pharoah 2:58 PM  

    @Z - judging your taste in music you should try streaming this:

    3024 = 9 a winner but small consolation for all those chariots lost in the RED SEA

    Z 3:20 PM  

    @Pharoah - I didn't realize dead demi-deified despots had such good taste in music. Thanks.

    DMG 4:30 PM  

    Clues tha send you looking for other clues make me dizzy, so I just ignore them until the end. Worked just find on this one where RED was the final fill, and the mystery was revealed. Not much more to say, so until,tomorrow....

    123 pick-up-sticks.

    Dirigonzo 4:36 PM  

    HONOLULU, ST THOMAS and SAO PAULO and the crosswords that emanated from them gave me all the traction I needed for most of the grid, and the HEDONIST in me came to the rescue in the NW. I've always been warded to avoid PTOMAINE poisoning and now I know how to spell it.

    4876 - MOPE.

    Anonymous 5:27 PM  

    Did this one in minutes: minutes during breakfast, minutes during lunch and minutes with coffee mid-afternoon. Anytime I finish a puzzle and its correct, without research, it's a greaaaat grid.
    Thanks, Matt G. for a good workout.

    Going around the world for 6 weeks and I'm not even going to think about all you Syndy Solvers. So there, take that!

    Naah, I'll miss you all and wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Pleasant Kwanzaa, and glorious Festivus. And, I suppose the atheists should be wished a Happy Day Off, God bless you.

    Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA

    99999 = 9 Top that, your Spacecraftiness. :) I lied

    rondo 5:45 PM  

    @Ron Diego - pleasant travels

    rain forest 6:09 PM  

    Good one. I liked it in its mediumness, its cute theme, and its mixture of cluing.

    @Ron Diego Well, I'll be thinking of you. Bon voyage!

    1445 Merde

    Solving in Seattle 8:07 PM  

    Thank you very much, Matt G. for a pleasant solving experience. A little bit of everything today: geography, history, aeronautics, abominable snowmen, Jewish holidays... DERN, this was fun. Loved MOSES EMIGRATED.

    Only question: how does Tots end up ADDS?

    Ron Diego, have a trip of a lifetime and stay safe.

    386. If it hangs on to win let's have a BEERPONG party.

    Dirigonzo 8:57 PM  

    @SIS - the answer to your question, courtesy of tot1 (tɒt)

    1. a small child.

    2. a small portion, as of liquor.

    [1680–90; perhaps short for totterer]
    tot2 (tɒt)

    v. tot•ted, tot•ting,
    n. v.t., v.i.
    1. to add; total (often fol. by up).
    2. a total.

    [1745–55; < Latin: so much, so many]

    Solving in Seattle 9:18 PM  

    @Diri, thanks for clearing it up for me. You're good to have around.

    423. too bad it doesn't count.

    Anonymous 1:19 AM  

    Can't believe you didn't call Editor Will on allowing "true fact." Is that opposed to a "false fact"?! A fact is true by definition. This fatuous redundancy is as annoying as "free gift"--a gift if free by definition.

    Dirigonzo 4:07 PM  

    @anony 1:19am - I read "true fact" as highlighting the irony of issuing a hunting license for a mythical creature, proving, I guess, that one person's annoyance is another person's chuckle.

    @SIS - you're welcome, but I hope you don't think I'm all dry facts and definitions - I can be the life of the party once the BEERPONG gets started.

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