Noted French encyclopedist / TUE 1-27-15 / German WWI admiral / Indian state whose name means five rivers / President who lived at Oak Hill /

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Constructor: James Tuttle

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (**for a Tuesday**) 

THEME: Er .. Oh …  — all theme answers end with final syllable that rhymes with "roh"

Theme answers:
  • KILIMANJARO (17A: Africa's highest peak)
  • DENIS DIDEROT (24A: Noted French encyclopedist)
  • SUCH SWEET SORROW (38A: Parting, to Juliet)
  • CENSUS BUREAU (48A: Group you can rely on when it counts)
  • JAMES MONROE (60A: President who lived at Oak Hill)
Word of the Day: LOT (64A: Polish airline) —
Polskie Linie Lotnicze LOT S.A. (Polish pronunciation: [ˈlɔt]Flight), trading as LOT Polish Airlines, is the flag carrier of Poland. Based in Warsaw, LOT was established in 1929, making it one of the world's oldest airlines still in operation. Using a fleet of 55 aircraft, LOT operates a complex network to 60 destinations in Europe, the Middle East, North America, and Asia. Most of the destinations are served from its hub, Warsaw Chopin Airport.
As Poland made the transition to democracy from 1989, the airline began a transformation from a Soviet-controlled carrier to a European flag carrier. LOT started a process of fleet renewal with the purchase of Western aircraft to replace old Soviet models. With the arrival of the first Boeing 767-300ER, LOT started inter-continental services to ChicagoNewarkToronto, and New York City. These four main routes have been some of the most popular flights that LOT operates, especially during the summer season when many Poles seek to come back to their homeland for vacation.
LOT found itself undergoing constant management change in the late 2000s due to worsening financials and reductions in market share. After placing orders for several Boeing 787 aircraft and taking delivery of two, the carrier has found itself "nearly insolvent" due to the January 2013 grounding of the 787. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is an odd, loose theme, but I don't mind it. That is, I don't mind the idea. I mind, slightly, DENIS DIDEROT on a Tuesday—his relative obscurity makes him a massive outlier in this line-up. And I mind somewhat more SUCH SWEET SORROW, since it's essentially a partial. It's easy, and hence likely welcome to solvers trying to move through this harder-than-usual puzzle, but it's not good as stand-alone fill. Not at all. So the theme idea is just OK and the execution is a bit wobbly. The fill is quite bad. Demonstrably bad. I count eight (!) entries that I'd consider "Fill Of Last Resort," and that *doesn't* include the more typical crosswordese like AGAR, ONO, ROO, ETAS, OER, etc. On a Tuesday, fill should be *much* much cleaner than this. OLEA? (40D: Olive genus) Bad enough on its own, but somehow worse in a puzzle that already has LEA. Then there's EMER ETH SSE RUS ELUL NOI and SPEE (the last of which I botched because I confused it with that other crosswordese gem, SMEE). And what the hell is up with the clue on LOT? I've been doing puzzles a long, long time, and I'm not sure I've ever seen LOT clued as a Polish airline. I just checked the database: of 253 LOTs, precisely zero have been clued via the airline. None. None. Again, it's Tuesday. I have no idea what that clue was all about.

Scouts earn merit BADGES, so MERITS (?) slowed me down (28A: Scouts earn them), as did my inability to get the vowels right in KIL-M-NJARO. Misread [Part of a televised movie review] as [… movie crew] and so had trouble with CLIP (had GRIP at some point). My SMEE-for-SPEE troubles mean PUNJAB was pretty tough to come up with (46D: Indian state whose name means "five rivers"). Everything else was fairly straightforward, though not necessarily instantly gettable. I was over four minutes today, which is pretty rare for me on a Tuesday. The relatively slow time matters not at all to me. The uneven, ultimately unsatisfying solving experience—that matters.

Hope all you New Yorkers are surviving the alleged End Times Snowstorm. We're only getting an inch or three here in central upstate NY.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Anonymous 12:08 AM  

    This puzzle was directly related to the End Times Snowstorm here in west central NJ. 1-3" snow, leaving us with a (resounding) OH?

    Carola 12:09 AM  

    I'm not sure why @Rex has the theme as "oh" instead of "row, roe, etc." which seems to me harder to pull off. Anyway, I like puzzles that play with sounds, and I thought this one had an unusually lovely array of theme answers, especially the central grid spanner.

    Agree with Rex that it was a more-difficult Tuesday, but it was a quicker solve for me than yesterday's puzzle As an important influence on German Enlightenment writers, DENIS DIDEROT was familiar to me, but seems rather arcane for a Tuesday. Can't account for how I know LOT as the Polish airline, though.

    After I finished, I wondered how thoROUGH the survey of "row" sounds had been and came up with one other phrase that would fit the grid: "outer borough."

    LEAVE seemed apt beneath the SORROW of parting. Nice that there's a SERMON to get preached to the CHOIR. Not sure how I feel about the DUMB BLONDE cross.

    Hope all in the path of the storm are safe and snug.

    wreck 12:13 AM  

    I think the theme was actually "roh" more than just "oh," but didn't really matter anyway since I never saw the theme until I finished the whole puzzle. This took me several minutes longer than a normal Tuesday.
    As an Eagle Scout, I can attest that I never earned "MERITS."

    jae 12:34 AM  

    I time myself on Mon. and Tues. and I almost always solve on paper (cuts down on typos and @djogba from yesterday, it's more more pleasant for me also to do the physical writing).  Wed. - Sun. difficulty for me is a function of how much I get stuck/need to jump around, so it's kinda time based but with out the pressure of a stop watch.  All that said, my time today was medium- tough, but I think this would be a very tough Tues. for a beginning solver...ELUL, ELISA, LOT, PUNJAB, OLAY (as clued), OLEA...all seem like late week clue/answers.  

    Got LOT without crosses only because the book I'm reading mentioned the airline three pages ago.

    Liked the theme a LOT. Very clever choices.  

    Steve J 12:52 AM  

    Whatever it was - o or row - it's not a theme. This was a Tuesday themeless with some answers that rhymed, if you ask me.

    I've long said I'd like to see some easy themelesses show up in early-week puzzles from time to time, rather than always confining them only to Fridays and Saturdays. But I would hope they'd be less uneven than this. Some of the long answers (not just the "theme" ones) are good, but there's a lot of very clunky short stuff. Too much.

    This also felt tougher than a normal Tuesday to me, but my time wasn't too far above my Tuesday average.

    chefwen 1:28 AM  

    I'm with@Carola - Thought the theme should have been RO, ROW, ROE your boat, you know the rest. Did not know DENIS DIDEROT, did not know the Polish airline LOT, so this played difficult for a Tuesday. Took me a lot longer than usual.

    Had to look the spelling of KILIMANJARO after the fact, I got it right. Yeah me. Didn't! See the DUMB BLONDE crossing !til Carola pointed it out, cute!

    Liked it. Thanks Mr. Tuttle.

    TokyoRacer 4:11 AM  

    Theme? I didn't even realize there was a theme. In fact, I agree with SteveJ - there was no theme.

    SUCHSWEETSORROW is way too easy.

    I hate puzzles where if you don't know a proper name and a proper noun like a Jewish month (which only Jewish people know), you can't get one letter.

    GILL I. 5:15 AM  

    For all intents and purposes, entrees are actually the little olives and such you eat at the beginning of the MAIN DISH. But I could care less since this is used and made only in the U.S. of A.
    Cute Tuesday puzzle disguised as a Wed.
    Did you hear the joke about the DUMB BLONDE named ELISA who walked into a bar...?
    PUNJAB BEDS are very comfortable...Try it!

    GILL I. 5:25 AM  

    Oops...should have been intensive purposes. My bad....English kills me!

    Anonymous 5:52 AM  

    Hey Gill - you got it right the first time.

    While I agree with TokyoRacer that I don't like when names cross because you cannot get a letter, it was an interesting parenthetical that only Jewish people know the Jewish month (I'm Jewish and I didn't know the month, but I did know Sermon). I guess only non-Jews could get the answer for Church address.

    The puzzle was difficult for a Tuesday, but doable. I didn't even look for the theme, but it is clearly the ROW sound endings.

    Elle54 6:49 AM  

    I liked it!!! Got Suchsweetsorrow as a stand alone entry. Looked for theme at the end and saw Ro

    Rhino 7:26 AM  

    I found this puzzle moderate to moderate-easy while Rex and most others found it moderate to moderate-hard!

    So, yeah, it's a pretty great day.

    chefbea 7:51 AM  

    Found this pretty easy. I did know Lot. Wanted badges for 28 across. Made a big pot of minestrone soup yesterday...that was our main dish for dinner last night!!

    Dorothy Biggs 7:52 AM  

    If you are that person who solved this puzzle in 1:01 (as seen on the NYT site), please stand up and be recognized. I'm not going to lie, that is impressive. Even if you cheated to get that time, that's still impressive. I don't think I could even just simply read the clues in a minute's time. If you got that time (or any of the other times under 2 minutes), please tell us how you do that. I don't want to be able to do it, but I'm curious to know just how it's physically done. That's just freakish.

    I took a more leisurely pace and got done fairly quickly despite Mr. Diderot nestled in there.

    I wanted to put in CHI at the start but balked because there was no room for "town..." as in CHI-town. CHI would be one of those "on the scoreboard" towns.

    TIL that ROO is a male. I am 55 years old and for as long as I've watched Winnie the Pooh, I've always thought Roo was a daughter to Kanga.

    ELISA v. Maria. I get tripped up on that every time.

    Lennon taking Yoko's last name as his middle name is like those people who tattoo their wedding rings on their fingers rather than go the conventional wedding band route. Definitely give him props for his confidence in his decision...

    joho 8:07 AM  

    I liked that it took me a few moments to see the theme which I didn't fully get at first, either. Thought it was OH until I saw that it was ROE. Oddly that took me off on tangent wondering why Scooby-Doo adds an "R" to words as in Ruh-Roh.

    So, in the end this was LOT more fun than a normal Tuesday!

    r.alphbunker 8:23 AM  

    It was fun finding the theme after I solved.

    @NCA President

    I was able to do it in 31 seconds by hitting the fast forward button here :-)

    zac 8:28 AM  

    @nca president.

    I'm pretty sure if you solve the puzzle quickly on your platform normally, then use my platform to enter only the acrosses (that you've already solved) onto my platform that is sitting next to you, you could get it under 2 minutes as well.

    That's the only way 1:01 is possible. In my humble, happy with 4:40 way of course.

    Like you, I would love to hear an explanation that didn't involve, errrrrrr, well yeah. Cheating is really the only word that fits.

    weaselsnark 8:31 AM  

    I was put off by that parenthetical too. I wasn't ever a Boy Scout so I guess it's not fair to put something about them in the puzzle either....

    abstractblueman 8:43 AM  

    I couldn't get "bounced" out of my head for 41 down, but that was the least of my problems with this one! I managed to finish it without any cheating, but roughly 20 times slower than the amazing time of 1:01 :)

    AliasZ 8:46 AM  

    Very cultured theme today. It became obvious to me after the second theme entry and soon confirmed by such sweet sorrow: five examples of different ways the 17th letter of the Greek alphabet "ρ" (rho) can be spelled. The reason some may have found it difficult to see the correct theme, or that there was even a theme, is that in physics "ρ" is the symbol of density.

    Of course there are always more ways to spell "ρ" (just ask Russell Crowe or David Groh) and there are always more examples.

    The old Roman poet called Cicero
    Has not heard "The Marriage of Figaro"
    For he's long been dead
    Since he lost his head
    And didn't play tennis with McEnroe.

    Now let me see if I can make it in to work. To quote Cicero: Dum spiro spero.

    While I am doing that, you should listen to the Chorale Prelude, BWV 686, "Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir" (from deep affliction I cry out to you) to words written by Martin Luther, by J.S. Bach, played here by Pierre CocheREAU (1924-1984), one of the most prominent French organists of the 20th Century.

    Stay safe out there!

    Anonymous 9:10 AM  

    Fun Tuesday. Oh yeah, and another dickish write-up by rex. "I don't really care about my time, I just mention it every chance I get." Does anyone really buy his bullshit?

    Ludyjynn 9:26 AM  

    Just last night, my brother and I had a lengthy conversation about his quirky experiences working for the U.S. CENSUSBUREAU in 2010. One of his more interesting remarks was telling the newbies to follow their instincts w/ regard to safety: if you feel the hairs at the back of your neck stand up straight as you are about to enter someone's abode, turn around and walk!

    I recently listed here, as a public service for crossworders, Jewish or not, all of the Hebrew months, including ELUL, which occasionally pop up as fill. You're welcome.

    Mae West could never be described as a DUMBBLONDE. An early film innovator, she cleverly managed to use innuendo to get around censorship rules in movie production. She also gave Cary Grant one of his earliest film roles; clever lady.

    Agree w/ others' nits re CHI, MERITS. Clueing was weak.

    Didn't see the theme til I read Rex; fairly easily solved as a themeless, IMO.

    Not looking forward to having to LEAVE the house and scrape snow off the car and shovel a path. Luckily, we got a LOT less than was originally forecast.

    Thanks, JT and WS.

    Ω 9:28 AM  

    Twentieth - Ah, there it is.

    Anyone care to guess where I DNF'd? Stared at CAB-n for a good long time before I took the DNF.

    I'm not Jewish but I've done enough Xwords to get ELUL.

    Dan Feyer solves in 1:08

    DUMB BLONDE, sure. But even better I NODDED during the SERMON.

    Honeysmom 9:35 AM  

    Feeling a little smug today -- finished faster than usual, even for a Tuesday. Theme didn't matter and didn't see it at all. Remembered movie "Snows of Kilimanjaro" so that helped. Fun!

    RooMonster 9:39 AM  

    Hey All !
    13 minutes here! That's flying for me! Wasn't going for a fast time, like I said yesterday, I actually like to read all the clues (Across & Down) and don't like when answers automatically get filled in. No ACPT for me....!

    This puz was fun. Must confess to not figuring out theme, read over themers a few times after completion, but then said Bah, and came here to find out. ROH endings. OK. Like some, badgeS for MERITS. Also IsLET for INLET, which led 16A to be HOS!Figured couldn't be right, right?

    @NCAP, yes sir, ROO is male. As is this Roo!

    Let's see... RO, ROT, ROW, REAU, ROE, and a ROO and RUS! Nice.


    Leapfinger 9:46 AM  

    For sure, RO, ROT, ROW ( keep REAU-ROEing), but no Boat in sight, unless you say that was the Junk Fill. Which I didn't mindETH. After the O, OT, OW endings, I anticipated -OE and OH; I guess one out of two ain't bad.

    Started with a 1D ASIS, but the snow leopard of KILIMANJARO fixed that.

    More themish-mosh:
    SUCH SWEET SORROW is a classic, and has the legs to stand alone.
    Ditto M. DIDEROT; I don't have anything by him, but still have my well-aged Petit Larousse. A definite misnomer, as it's thicker than it is wide. I pored over it as a kid; wonderful colour plates.
    Once upon a time, I had a 'Come to my CENSUS' BUREAU. Four drawers.

    Good crosses, @Carola! Got me looking also, and there LEAVE/RETURNED and ELIOT/ALIEN (as in E.T., phone home)

    @Gill, the most comfortable thing I ever slept in was a big Brazilian hammock.

    @ALIENZ, you outdid yourself in yesterday's selecions!

    Thought that Polish airline =LOT might be a joke, but apparently not. Can never tell what a RUER RUS...

    Really like the 'Lead zeppelin' clue (esp with Graf SPEE not far behind), and a great one-two punch with 'Cash cache'.
    Would love one day to see CACHE COW; any clue for that will be a real PUN JAB.

    Till then, BIN there, Dun that!

    Good Tuesday, and maybe all you NYCers should stay in your BEDS!

    Generic Solver 9:47 AM  

    This played really easy for me - I recognized Kiliminjaro immediately for a strong foothold, maybe because I had been listening to "Africa" by Toto the other day - "Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti".

    And "Lead zeppelins?" -> Aviate was one of my favorite clues of the year.

    Yes, I'm a musician.

    Lewis 9:54 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Lewis 9:56 AM  

    I liked the clue for SERMON.

    I was a scout and we called them merit badges. Did anyone here ever call them merits? I think finding a new and accurate clue for LOT is to the puzzle's credit, rather than using the same old.

    Lots of long O sounds in this puzzle besides in the theme answers: OLAY, WOES, NOI, DOJOS, OLEA, ONO, OER, SOLE, COVE, HOWSO.

    Felt Tuesday crunchy, yet too easy for Wednesday. Just right for me!

    John V 9:57 AM  

    Well, hard for Tuesday as noted. I still have no idea what the theme is.

    LOT was easy. Go figure v

    Unknown 10:16 AM  

    Z - same here. Eventually got to CABLE but ETH is dumb.

    Agree with Rex on this one, but I think I enjoyed it more than he did. I have no issues with SUCH SWEET SORROW. It may be a partial phrase, but it is a well-known one.

    Solved late, since I was out shoveling a poop route for my dog. We probably have about 18" and still falling here in north central CT. At least it's light and fluffy.

    Leapfinger 10:27 AM  

    A couple of good laughs already: the Rho density factor, and @Z's long, strange trip to 20th, 30th, 40th et alii. Nicely done!

    Let's hear it for intensive porpoises, Ms G.

    @Steve, @TRacer, I'd say this is as much a theme as is a vowel run. Or the twisted endings we just had.

    Homonym, homonym, homonym onward!
    Into the valley of the Nay-sayers wrote the row of RoughRiders.

    Glitch 10:28 AM  

    FWIW (Per the NYT site):

    Assuming the puzzle is available @ 10:00:00

    Docikson posted a 3:23 solve @ 10:03:50
    snegu a 4:06 @ 10:04:19
    solon a 4:08 @ 10:04:31

    OTOH: Neither Nyt4's 1:01, Shapiro's 1:11, nor ReeseCup's 1:26 were posted among the first 100 (in the first 12 minutes or so.)

    Also, if you watch some of the speed solver videos, it appears they are reading the next clue as they are entering the current answer. True multitasking.


    Anonymous 10:46 AM  

    @Susan McC, ETH is dumb? Care to elaborate on that value judgment?

    @Glitch, good ebunking there.

    r.alphbunker 10:50 AM  

    A revealer for the puzzle could be {What was simulated in the restaurant scene of "When Harry Met Sally" or what was simulated by the theme of this puzzle}. The answer has six letters.

    Thanks for the link. I have used it to compare Dan Feyer's solving style with mine.

    Dan Feyer
    ME(re mortal) (Click fast forward so that I can do it in the same time as Dan)

    Even though these are different puzzles, it is clear that Dan and I have different solving styles. My approach is to usually fill in answers that have the fewest blank squares remaining whereas Dan just fills in the answers as he comes to them. My search for answers is what slows me down.

    xyz 11:13 AM  

    very very messy & uneven

    Karl 11:14 AM  

    I thought this was easy even for a Tuesday. The couple of obscure answers had plenty of crosses to infer. Getting really excited about going to the ACPT!

    mathguy 11:21 AM  

    What to call puzzles with useless themes? Maybe they are useful in the sense that Shortz likes them and they help in getting the puzzle accepted. But useless in the sense that they don't help in the solving while making the puzzle more difficult to construct. How about calling them Gadsbys? Gadsby was the title of the novel written in 1939 without using the letter "e."

    Z: Nice job in exposing the bad clue for ETH.

    Generic Solver: Thanks for the great line from the Toto song. This is the first sentence of The Snows of Kilimanjaro, the great Hemingway short story. "Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa."(

    Joseph Michael 11:34 AM  

    Tough Tuesday. Got the theme early on, but had to guess at DIDEROT, SPEE, ELISA, and PUNJAB. Thought some of the cluing was clever but a lot of clunky fill made this only OK for me. Kind of like an EWER full of AGAR.

    Though I'm an Irish lad, had no problem with ELUL thanks to at least a hundred previous NYT puzzles.

    Anonymous 11:43 AM  

    Some themes are helpful in solving the puzzle and some themes aren't; that criterion alone is not sufficient to characterize a theme. All a theme has to do is provide some kind of unifying concept; some themes are tight and some are loose, just as are different shoes. And you know that the judgment of what constitutes a comfortable fit can vary.

    If the shoe doesn't fit,
    You ought not just quit.

    GILL I. 11:51 AM  

    @Anony 5:25 I know [sigh] my favorite eggcorn is using intensive purposes and I could care less. Especially when we, here in this fine country, say entree for our MAIN DISH....;-)

    Anonymous 11:59 AM  

    Depite the likilhood of being flamed or ignored, I wanted to register my unhappiness with the term BCE. It's awful. And unnecesssary. It's just a smug dig. utterly gratutous. Using A.D. doesnt make you a proponent of anything. Using BCE, does however mark you as smug,and a little intolerant.

    Anonymous 12:00 PM  

    Google "LOT" and see what the first hit is...

    Tita 12:16 PM  

    Gotta admit that this was just off.

    Generally, I like themes that play off how insane English can be, but including a foreign proper names to illustrate it just ain't right. DIDEROT, KILIMANJARO. Actually, all but one are using proper names - not as great a feat as using actual words.
    I forgive BUREAU, because while it is borrowed directly from the French, it is for sure an English word now.
    Could I construct such a puzzle? Of course not! I'm just a DUMB Brunette.

    (I remember one with -ough endings - same spelling, different pronunciations... That was fun!)

    Don't know why I know LOT, but I do.

    @Gill - I too want to know just when did Americans flip the meaning of ENTREE to mean the main event, instead of, well, the entree event?

    Not one of my faves.

    old timer 12:29 PM  

    You want to do the NYT puzzle it really helps to know the months in the Hebrew calendar, along with basic French. Not that I actually *know* those months, but they are all things of which I've heard the din afore, to quote the Modern Major General.

    !8th Century French authors? Not so much, though if you once knew French and want to re-learn it, Diderot and Voltaire are good authors to start with, because their French is pristine and their sentences relatively clear.

    I thought this was a perfect Tuesday puzzle. Took me 10 minutes on paper, same as yesterday.

    I thought the fill was fine, but then there are a lot of short Downs that I never looked at because I had figured out the long Acrosses.

    I did scratch my head about MERITS. Boy Scouts work on merit badges, and I don't think I've ever heard it abbreviated to "merits" OTOH, "demerits" are something students at West Point accumulate.

    Dorothy Biggs 12:33 PM  

    @Generic Solver: I used to think the lyric was "Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like a Memphis above the Serengeti." I like that better than Olympus...

    The singer Seal stopped putting lyrics in his records because he knew people would actually hear their own version of the lyrics and would often compliment him on those lyrics that he did not write and they "misheard."

    Memphis, to me, has a certain je nais c'est qua IMO.

    RooMonster 12:59 PM  

    Test. Seeing if I can post directly from my phone!


    On m'appelle Mimi 1:00 PM  

    Je ne sais quoi.

    Or, as Patrick Dennis had it, Jenny say coy.

    Carola 1:13 PM  

    @Tita, @Gill I - You made me curious about ENTREE, so I looked at the OED, which has a 1759 citation defining it as the course served between the fish and the roast (the complete line-up being soup, fish, entree, roast, sweet), with ham, chicken, and sweetbreads as examples (and presumably in homes with a kitchen staff!). Its earliest citation for N. American usage as the MAIN DISH, served between soup and dessert, is from 1903, in Good Housekeeping magazine. I remember the first time I was in France being surprised that an ENTREE was not the MAIN DISH, which I then realized was DUMB.

    @Tita, I had similar thoughts about the foreign proper names - but liked them so much I forgave them :)

    @mathguy - The theme wasn't useless to me: I saw it after SORROW had fun guessing what the final two "rohs" would be. I needed a couple of crosses for CENSUS BUREAU, but JAMES MONROE went in uncrossed.

    Masked and Anonymo6Us 1:24 PM  

    HOWTO and ONO seem like honorary themers. Maybe also LOT, depending on the Polish pronounciation. Speakin of which...

    I was not believin that the Polish could name an airline using only 3 letters. M&A gets mail from a relative currently residin in Poland. Here's how they say Postage Paid...
    That'd make a heckuva themer entry, btw.

    Further research shows that LOT is kinda like a "trade name" for
    So, okay. The LOTNICZE part means "flights", I think. Maybe LOT means short flights?

    @63 did a good job of roll-callin the desperate fill contingent, today. About half of which has been used by Patrick Berry (but he did not inhale). None of the short fill bothered my solve time or digestion, much. But I get that the exactin teacher in @63 wants all us constructioneers to strive to do our best. Or to make runtpuzs.

    Didn't know the DIDEROT dude. Spelled KILIMANJARO soooo badly, that the written attempt has been officially sealed and hidden in a large storage vault. Did at least have my SPEEs and SMEEs straight.

    Glad to hear from the comments that the Big Snow may have fizzled, in many locales out East.


    Benko 2:06 PM  

    @NCAp et alii:

    1:01 is probably cheating. Almost definitely. But the fastest early week solvers (Dan Feyer, Tyler Hinman, David Plotkin, Glenn Ryan, Andy Kravis among them) consistently solve early week puzzles under 2 minutes.
    I am also one of the freakish people who is capable of doing an early week puzzle in under two minutes. It involves a lot of multitasking, focus, and willpower (for me) to get it under that barrier. I have to read the next clue as I'm filling the previous one, keep the crossings I've already entered in my mind, and keep pushing myself to fill and fill without pausing (something which for me is easier at the beginning and end of the puzzle than in the middle, where I experience "focus fatigue"). I don't know if other fast solvers try as hard or harder or if it comes naturally to them. Even doing a puzzle calmly and naturally, it usually ends up being pretty fast. I did today's NYT in 2-2.5 minutes without trying too hard, so I can imagine that if I pushed myself and was "in the zone", a time of 1.5-1.45 (as posted by the fastest people) is realistic.
    Just trying to help people understand the psychology, not saying faster times make people better or any such nonsense, though crossword lovers in general are pretty great.

    evil doug 2:15 PM  

    Elul seems fair. I mean, after all, the Jewish folks were forced to know "May" last week....


    Lewis 2:46 PM  

    Factoid: BLOND hair tends to turn brunette with age; natural blonde hair is rare and makes up approximately 2% of the world's population. (Wikipedia)

    Quotoid: "At a FORMAL dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." -- George Carlin

    BillyC 2:55 PM  


    FYI, you mean the Israeli Jews, in whose Hebrew language Elul is the 12th month of the civil year.

    There are about the same number of Jews in the US as in Israel (~6m each), and only about 3-4M in the rest of the world.

    Very few in the US are fluent in Hebrew, having memorized only enough for their religious ceremonies. OTOH, the vast majority of Israeli Jews speak fairly fluent English. Also, I would guess, the majority of those outside the U.S. and Israel.

    So, FWIW, most Jews already knew the month of "May."

    evil doug 3:01 PM  

    Duh. Sense of humor much?


    Voice of Reason 3:04 PM  

    @Anon 11:59 A.D and B.C relate specifically to the birth of Christ. As less than 1/3 of the world's population is Christian, how can anyone object to the use of BCE? Except, or course, if you're a Christian and somehow feel that removing a reference to Christ is taking something away from you. If that's so, please explain why taking something away from you is twice as important as imposing the same on someone else who may find it offensive.

    BillyC 3:06 PM  

    ED --

    "Duh. Sense of humor much?"

    Yeah, that about captures how articulate you are, my man.

    Also, aren't you the cheerleader of the "Don't feed the trolls" faction? D'oh!!!

    Benko 3:36 PM  

    As 1 A.D. and 1 C.E are, in fact, the same year, doesn't 1 C.E also refer to the birth of Jesus, though it doesn't say so? It doesn't offer any other reason for choosing that as year one except that's what Christians used and we still use the Christian calendar, though we pretend otherwise. Would you insist that the Muslims pretend that their calendar isn't based around Mohammed? Because maybe some people in the Middle East find it offensive? (Not a Christian.)

    mac 3:40 PM  

    Since the newspaper didn't arrive today I started out doing this puzzle online. It seemed much harder, somehow. I ended up printing it out and then swept right through it. Medium Tuesday for me.

    "Such sweet sorrow" is easy, but so beautiful.

    Interesting, @Benko.

    Ludyjynn 3:46 PM  

    Dear @M&A, Out of curiosity, where do you reside? I just noticed your parting remark about folks living "out East". From my experience, people who live in CA or the Midwest refer to the Atlantic coast as "back East", while we on the East coast refer to those in CA or the Pacific coast as living "out West". Crazy, huh? What's your take on this?

    Growing up in NJ, we went "down the shore" to the beaches, but here in MD, we go "down the ocean" to coastal destinations. Enough to make me scratch my head in wonder!

    Tita 3:47 PM  

    Great discussion today about things of great importance -

    "ENTREE - main course or appetizer?" (Thanks, @Carola, for that research!).

    Re: how we label time - I totally agree. Let's rename July and August, and all the days of the week.

    Being in the software business, I would love to create another sea-change event like Y2K. That was so fun and lucrative, let's just completely randomize our 'start of time' definition.

    Ω 3:57 PM  

    @Evil Doug - Do you like The Princess Bride.

    @Benko - The difference between "In the year of our Lord" and "Common Era" is the implicit recognition in the latter that there are other legitimate ways of counting years. For day to day use it hardly matters. If, however, one wants to write seriously, formally, and globally "Common Era" denotes that you are aware of the arbitrariness of your counting method. Hardly on the level of things like DeflateGate or whether a 1:01 time is cheating, just another thing to be aware of.

    @Anon11:59 - Neither ignored nor flamed...What is this blog coming to?

    Benko 4:41 PM  

    @Z: There are many different ways of counting years, and many of them are based on religious observance. I just think that it is easier for Westerners to dismiss the Christian way of counting years than, say, the Muslim or Jewish way of counting years. I don't think this is solely because the Christian calendar is the most prevalent in the West. I think because most secular Westerners (or their ancestors) personally reject/rejected Christianity they feel this gives them a right to criticize Christian culture in a way that would be considered un-PC with other world religions. I also think this sort of thing contributes to the whole "persecution of Christianity" narrative which is so prevalent in right-wing media.
    Also, I think the use of "BC" and "AD" actually does help us to remember that we are using only one specific calendar out of many, based on Christian counting. It seems to me like it's worse to pretend that the Christian calendar is the "Common Era" for everyone than to admit it's only the Christian way of doing things.
    Ok, rant out.

    RooMonster 4:43 PM  

    @Z, Great movie. One of my all time favorites. Like, 1 or 2.

    To throw my two cents in on time and such, (not that anyone wanted it!) I think we use the Gregorian Calender, or somesuch. I do know many years ago, there was no July and August. To wit, September was 7th month, hence SEP, October 8Th, OCT, November 9th, NOV, December 10th, DEC. But along came big-head Julius Caesar who wanted a month to himself, so July came about. After he died and his son took over, Augustus, he said, Hey, if my dad has a month, I want one to. So, August came about.

    Recanted all that from memory from reading about it somewhere, so no source available!

    Can I get ROO as an added month?


    Ω 5:05 PM  

    @Benko - I disagree only in this - If I use AD there is no indication that I understand the issues, while using CE signals awareness of the issues. The first time I ran across CE in print it indicated "Christian Era," which I think is better than "Common Era" for the reasons you raise.

    @Roo Monster - Right up there with the inspiration for that avatar of yours (decent brew, BTW).

    wreck 5:09 PM  

    "ROOBER" (falls between February 29th and March 1st.)

    Benko IV (sorry, last one) 5:21 PM  

    I've seen it as "Christian Era" too, @Z, and I think that's actually the most preferable option as it seems to appease all sides. Let's vote for that choice,

    Teedmn 8:07 PM  

    Thanks for cluing me in on the theme, all! I spent some time looking at KILIMANJARO thinking there was an alphabet run in there of IJKLMNO but what about the A, the R?

    Looked at DENIS DIDEROT, no such tie-in in evidence, threw in the towel on sussing the theme and came here.

    @Ludyjynn, thanks for the Hebrew months a while back. I wrote them out about ten times in an effort to get them to stick. But the first encore appearance of Elul and uh, um, hmmm. I'm sure glad I memorized the Greek alphabet back when the synapses weren't misfiring!

    Thanks, Mr Tuttle, for the puzzle.

    M and A and Out All Day 8:08 PM  

    @Ludyjynn: Sorta out West.


    Doug 11:00 PM  

    I was going to remark on doing these puzzles for time yesterday, but my iPhone misfired somehow. I get the paper NYT and I do the crossword last, after dinner. I usually multi-task but the puzzle itself is very relaxing, yet stimulating at the same time. I like the accomplishment of solving, no matter how long it takes. And then I enjoy reading this blog - a nice group of people - witty and usually very civil. Sure beats reading comments on political articles. So solving for speed defeats the purpose for me. I travel a lot and I'll save the Sunday NYT magazine for long trips. Bose headphones, good music and the Sunday puzzle makes any plane trip relaxing.

    Anonymous 11:27 PM  

    Actually, no one buys yours.

    Bob Kerfuffle 11:18 AM  

    Had Tuesday's paper delivered this morning with Wednesday's paper, because of the blizzard that wasn't. Easy enough puzzle.

    You can use C.E. to mean Common Era or Christian Era, but, please, for the sake of us extremely sensitive Latin students, if you want to use A.D., place it before the date: A.D. 2015. The Latin Anno Domini means "Year of our Lord," and it hurts me every time I see it misplaced. :>))

    jberg 7:59 AM  

    Unlike NY, we really did have a blizzard; no papers Tuesday or Wednesday, but as I left the house for an early flight to DC, I found those two papers on my porch, apparently a midnight delivery. Today's wasn't there yet (at 6 AM), but will try to get one here at Logan and solve it on the plane.

    Unlike Rex, I enjoyed seeing DENIS DIDEROT, who ought to be famous if he isn't.. Iand I missed the R part of the theme, which is nice, but calls out for a revealer -- you know, "how you should get your ducks," or "the best part of the shad." Except that either of those would duplicate another themer.

    As my friends from Louisiana say, let's GEAUX!

    pfb 10:41 AM  

    Just got to this on Friday. I thought it was fair for Tuesday and a pretty fast solve despite having NTH for a while. I had no idea there was a theme until reading Rex's blog, and I am still not sure it was really a theme, although I have to believe it was not unintentional.

    Unknown 11:52 PM  

    My Name is Marian martins,i am here to testify of the good works of Dr prophet Adefemi.2 years ago,my husband left home,he never returned ,no phone call,no letters,no son got sick ,so ill,things were so tough for me.i had lost hope.About a year ago,i met a psychic,i paid over $700 and still nothing happened,i lost hope son's situation got worse each day.Last Month i saw a posting concerning the good works of the temple professionals.i gave them a try.i paid about $400,for all three spells(bring lover back,healing spells and career spells).within 2weeks,my husband called me and told me he was sorry and that he wants to come back to me and that he would explain everything when he comes back,three days later i got a new job with son's condition is getting better each day and i trust he would be well in a matter of days.i Want to thank dr Prophet Adefemi.To those out their passing through problems you can contact him via

    Burma Shave 9:12 AM  




    spacecraft 11:03 AM  

    A man from the CENSUSBUREAU
    Tried to count Dr. Lecter (oh, no!)
    He shouldn't have come--
    That was really DUMB--
    Now his liver is SUCHSWEETSORROW!

    OFL has pretty well listed my objections to this one; others cited the amusing couplings at 10 and 69.

    This type of theme, with no revealer, should have bumped this puppy up to at least Wedensday. I myself didn't catch the theme till the 4ETH (!) entry. I give it a C: gotta give props for KILIMANJARO.

    rondo 11:49 AM  

    Ro-rot-row-reau-roe, but no boat, so, v. weighed-wade-wayed?? Not that either. Though this puz ran 5 days after the anniversary of that case.

    I found this one rather easy, but was irritated with alot of the fill and you know I adore those 3 letter answers, which have been pointed out in other posts.

    ELISA from Paint your Wagon, what a classic, and both Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood sing! Whoodathunk? Wrote a college paper on it.

    The long themers were OK in my book, and less w/o ink than yesterday, so I'm sure my solve time . . . well, I don't give a ROOsass about that.

    Poetry fest/showdown today?! interrobangly asked

    DMG 2:00 PM  

    This one taught me that KILIMANJARO has two "i"s and one less "a" than I thought. Surprised when CABLE appeared, I just accepted ETH and appreciate @Z's discovery of the source. Also, while I got it, I still don't see how AVIATE fits the clue. True, zeppelins have pilots and are flown, but that seems a stretch for a clue for a word equivalent to "fly". Why did the clue so please @Generic Solver? Once again I must be missing something. Let's see, should "lead" be pronounced "led" or "leed" or.....
    I give up!

    rain forest 4:42 PM  

    Liked it, and I'm just so gosh-darned happy that Augustus Caesar got a month named after him because otherwise my birthday would disappear, CE or AD, who really cares?

    Do you fly LOT? No, I fly a lot.

    Whether it is called a theme or not, the long acrosses all rhymed, something I picked up after SUCH SWEET SORROW, a sentiment I've never experienced.

    I just hope that Dan Feyer really enjoys solving a puzzle in a minute and change.

    Anonymous 4:02 AM  

    Hey Gill, Entrees are the main course. Wasn't sure if you were joking about that. I enjoy your posts.

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