Sweet white wine from Bordeaux / WED 12-16-15 / Big brand of sports equipment / Aussie hoppers / Central Park's boathouse

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: DEAD END (34A: Cul-de-sac ... or what either part of the answer to each starred clue is?) — two-word phrases (or compound words) where both the first and last parts can follow "Dead" in a familiar phrase:

Theme answers:
  • WOOD DUCK (17A: *Colorful North American waterfowl)
  • AIRLINE (21A: *Fleet operator)
  • BODY WEIGHT (22A: *Class determinant in boxing)
  • LETTERHEAD (48A: *Top on official stationery)
  • EYEBALL (50A: *Observe closely)
  • SEAHORSE (54A: *Swimmer with a prehensile tail)
Word of the Day: SAUTERNES (5D: Sweet white wine from Bordeaux) —
Sauternes is a French sweet wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section in Bordeaux. Sauternes is made from Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot. This causes the grapes to become partially raisined, resulting in concentrated and distinctively flavored wines. Due to its climate, Sauternes is one of the few wine regions where infection with noble rot is a frequent occurrence. Even so, production is a hit-or-miss proposition, with widely varying harvests from vintage to vintage. Wines from Sauternes, especially the Premier Cru Supérieur estate Château d'Yquem, can be very expensive, due largely to the very high cost of production. Barsac lies within Sauternes, and is entitled to use either name. Somewhat similar but less expensive and typically less-distinguished wines are produced in the neighboring regions of Monbazillac, Cérons, Loupiac and Cadillac. In the United States, there is a semi-generic label for sweet white dessert wines known as sauterne without the "s" at the end and uncapitalized. (wikipedia)
• • •
SPECIAL MESSAGE for SYNDICATED solvers for the week of January 17-January 24, 2016 

Hello, syndicated (i.e. 1-to-5-week-behind) solvers! Somehow, it is January again, which means it's time for my once-a-year pitch for financial contributions to the blog. The idea is very simple: if you read the blog regularly (or even semi-regularly), please consider what it's worth to you on an annual basis and give accordingly. In making this pitch, I'm pledging that the blog will continue to be here for you to read / enjoy / grimace at for at least another calendar year. This year is special, as it will mark the 10th anniversary of Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle, and despite my not-infrequent grumblings about less-than-stellar puzzles, I've actually never been so excited to be thinking and writing about crosswords. I have no way of knowing what's coming from the NYT, but the broader world of crosswords looks very bright, and that is sustaining. Whatever happens, this blog will remain an outpost of the Old Internet: no ads, no corporate sponsorship, no whistles and bells. Just the singular, personal voice of someone talking passionately about a topic he loves. As I have said in years past, I know that some people are opposed to paying for what they can get for free, and still others really don't have money to spare. Both kinds of people are welcome to continue reading my blog, with my compliments. It will always be free. I have no interest in cordoning it off, nor do I have any interest in taking advertising. I value my independence too much. Anyway, if you are so moved, there is a Paypal button in the sidebar, and a mailing address here:

Rex Parker
℅ Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton NY 13905

And here: I'll stick a PayPal button in here for the mobile users.

There. Hope that helps.

For people who send me actual, honest-to-god (i.e. "snail") mail (I love snail mail!), this year my thank-you cards are "Sibley Backyard Birding Postcards"—each card a different watercolor illustration by ornithologist David Sibley. You could get a Black PHOEBE. A California TOWHEE. Or maybe even a picture of some fabled SCARLET TANAGERS (15). Or give via PayPal and get a thank-you email. That's cool too. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As I say in every thank-you card (and email), I'm so grateful for your readership and support. So thanks, not A TAD, but A TON (partial fill! coming in useful!). Now on to the puzzle …

• • •

Only thing this theme has going for it is density, and density alone doesn't cut it. This is just a "word that can precede" puzzle, at its core. So you just brainstorm every damn word that can follow "dead" in a (reasonably) familiar phrase and then start pairing them up. Shrug. There are many many many other words that can follow "dead" in familiar phrases. "Calm" and "language" and "heat" and "giveaway" and "presidents" and "issue" and etc. You've got words in this very puzzle that can follow "dead" (AIM, TREE). So you pair them up to make other phrases. OK. There's no real solver joy involved in this kind of puzzle. It's an interesting idea. Superficially clever. But ultimately kind of dull. Also, I don't think "dead horse" really holds up on its own. You have to beat it to make it work, and that's just cruel.

I like ON THE MAKE, though I generally think of that is much more sexually charged than this clue (32D: Ambitious and unscrupulous) suggests. CAB IT and LOEB Boathouse are absurd NYC provincialisms. ALKA is terrible on its face. See also ANTH and ENTO. I have no idea what a WOOD DUCK is, but that's probably on me. Sounds like a decoy, but I'm guessing it's not a decoy. Unless it is.  LIENOR (ugh) crossing VOIT (?) is a big NONONO. Otherwise, fill just seems normal. The whole puzzle radiates normal. ENYA, ESME, ELO and the ROOS. All sadly, profoundly normal. I thought 43D: New Orleans university (LOYOLA) was TULANE, but that was my only real slip-up with this thing.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Elaine2 12:08 AM  

a wood duck is a REALLY beautiful bird. Look it up!

ghkozen 12:50 AM  

I finished only because I had one square I didn't know and could put in letters until the app gave me good news, but EARTHA crossing LLOSA????? Really? That would be a bad cross on a Saturday!

jae 1:30 AM  

Yep, easy, and me too for Tulane on the first pass.  In fact, the SW corner was the only "not quite so easy" section.  Liked this more than @Rex did, it gave me a slightly morbid chuckle. 

Anonymous 2:01 AM  

What an unpleasant solve. More of these puzzles and I'm taking up Sudoku.

Hays 2:17 AM  

I liked it (and--sorry, not sorry--I like this type of theme, even if they've been done to death), except I couldn't call it easy (for me), because of that SAL/LOEB crossing and the LIENOR (could not convince my brain of that spelling or that it would even be a word in that form) and VOIT crossing. Both added minutes to my time, which is okay if it's satisfying when you finally figure it out, but neither were (for me).

Charles Flaster 3:26 AM  

Agree with Rex.
Solved easily without a theme.
Write over- GLOSTS for strutS.
JET BOAT and WOOD DUCK are both unknown to me.
Liked cluing for NAIL and let's not forget the DEAD END Kids/ Bowery Boys.
Thanks PG.

k10ery 4:35 AM  

This puzzle left me with a DEADENED feeling.

Donald 7:00 AM  

I'm pretty sure jet boats have propellers

Z 7:32 AM  

Some wood ducks. Also known as a Carolina Duck according to Wikipedia.

Which raises the question; How much wood would a wood duck duck if a wood duck could duck wood?

LEINeR at first, so not a hard fix there. EARTHA Kitt is vintage -ese so no problem there. I couldn't come up with Tulane, so avoided some struggles at LOYOLA (I knew that wasn't the one I was trying to remember, LOYOLA is in Chicago in my world). One minute longer than yesterday, so medium.

Is it me or is this a bit high on the Horschack Scale (O-O-O-O-O-O-O). I counted 20, 13 in the top half. It was the two across lines intersecting GOOD that caught my eye, six O's all mashed together in that little space seemed especially excessive for some reason. Where's the vowel parity‽

Dead this and Dead that and no Dead Kennedys?

@casey from yesterday - Congratulations.

RooMonster 7:48 AM  

Hey All !
PG used to be Will's assistant, before Joel. Just sayin.

Ok puz, slight hold up in N central, MIC and the unknown wine. DNF, two letters. EcTO for ENTO (ecto and endo, no?) and ON THE tAKE. Never heard ON THE MAKE.

And FFF? NO NO NO. LOTSA oddness in this one. Tiny NW and SE corners. Theme itself was alright. Kinda on the morbid side, especially DEAD BODY.

I'LL AIM to EYEBALL this BASH a little more. Then CAB IT to the ALLEY where the USER will say I TOLD YOU and CUSS AT me, then ask, DO YA eat GOOD FAT?


chefbea 7:58 AM  

Fun puzzle but never heard of void, JDs. llosa.FFF.

@Nancy..great avatar.

John V 8:30 AM  

SW was last to fall. LIENOR/VOIT cross pretty tough for a Wednesday.

Pete 8:31 AM  

WOODDUCK drakes are absurd, and absurdly beautiful. One day I was looking at a mallard drake, a distant second to the wood duck on the absurd/absurdly beautiful scale, and marveled at the details to the coloration, and wondered at the necessity of it all. I mean, it's all there just to get laid, right? 15 different colors, the streaks, plumes, everything is all to get laid more than the next guy. Just in front of the mallard's tail are a series of feathers forming exactly 3/4 of a circle rising up from his back - exactly 4 feathers, exactly 3/4 of a circle, evenly spaced from small to large, 1/3 to 1". They're perfect. Four perfect feathers, virtually hidden in front of his tail, just to get laid.

I then considered myself in light of the mallard. I got no chance.

crabsofsteel 8:39 AM  


Dorothy Biggs 8:44 AM  

Having branched out and begun doing other puzzles (yes, NYT, I'm dating around), I find that these theme-types are somewhat universal. This "Add End To Any Word And Then Put The Two Words Together To Make Something Else" theme type is pretty common. I've found that it isn't the theme that sets puzzles apart, it's the fill and cluing over all. The theme is just an excuse to do it. Sometimes the theme helps the solve, sometimes it's just a quaint little side show, and sometimes it's really convoluted and takes extra time to suss out.

So I'm calling foul on Rex's take on the theme. It would be like complaining that someone wore pants. Again! Or that someone put hot fudge on that sundae...again! Or maybe a more apt analogy, "Oh my God, you took another breath! Again?"

I could be completely wrong, but for the same reason we constantly wear pants with two legs is that we, um, have two legs, xword puzzles can only have so many different theme types. It's a closed system. So what?

I think yesterday's puzzle with the ensuing conversation about racisim and sexism that it provoked, or Monday's puzzle that pitted One Direction against Traffic are far more interesting to think about than some tried and true and overdone theme. Stop and smell the roses, Rex. There are many layers in these puzzles that can be highlighted and if the theme is old, move on. And yeah, if the puzzle is full of crap, say so...but it probably isn't the theme's fault.

As for this puzzle, I did like VOIT. I've played with their balls many times. :D And I'm honestly tired of ENYA. And, speaking of ONEDirection, they're back!

jberg 8:47 AM  

I liked the theme, liked the puzzle, loved EARTHA Kitt -- who was big until she used the occasion of getting an award at the White House to CUSS AT (not really) Lyndon Johnson for the war in Viet Nam, which pretty much put her career at a DEAD END.

LIENee before LIENOR, Admiral before AIR LINE, needed the cross to get LOEB instead of LOEw, but otherwise easy.

For those who didn't know SAL, Bruce Stringsteen explains it here.

Tita 8:50 AM  

Fun theme, apt revealer, a bit of crud.
LOEB is a well-known name at NYU.

The WOODDUCK Is a beautiful creature, and loved the clue for SEAHORSE.
And really love SAUTERNES, a gimme with no crosses. Have been lucky enough to have an occasional glass of a great one. We camped (tent camping...definitely not glam ping) in the vineyards of St. Emilion and SAUTERNES long ago. What sweet dreams we had!

Thanks Ms. Gamache.

Unknown 8:52 AM  

I liked it okay, but got hung up on the VOIT/JETBOAT crossing. Had vail for awhile and, even though my brother is a lawyer and his initials are JDS, I had no ideas about that clue. I thought for awhile that maybe an eelboat was a thing (also had moray eel instead of sea horse for awhile - a big eel day for me today) but in the end I had to take a DNF.

On the plus side, I had my first conservative Christian tell me they wanted to burn my book. So I guess that's a kind of milestone to celebrate. Right?

quilter1 8:53 AM  

Easy but kind of boring.

Hartley70 9:02 AM  

My insistence on Tulane in the SW made this a DNF...on a Wednesday...ugh. I just got tired and bored and gave up. This is not a good start to the day. Aren't there a whole bunch of Loyolas and don't they usually have another name attached?

The theme was Wednesday appropriate for me. The puzzle was on the easy side until I got to the SW. I was shocked to learn that EARTHA Kitt sang "Santa Baby". I thought they were different generations. I think NONONO is a bit of a constructor cheat, but who am I to talk once I hit "reveal word" on Tulane? Sigh.

Dave in Ancaster 9:07 AM  

Hey, I will travel 50 kilometers (Canadian, eh) to photograph wood ducks. And I just learned to play Santa Baby, which is a hoot. And I see FFF offften enough when I'm reading a score not to be put out by it. However, that boat house thing: no idea, so DNF.

Tim Pierce 9:15 AM  

BEL / LLOSA / ANTH / LIENOR /VOIT /JETBOAT had me hung up for a terribly long time. I guessed LIENER but was unwilling to put it in for a while because it just seemed odd. And JETBOAT is just not a thing, as far as I know.

ELO and DOYA... okay, I guess? I know ELO, certainly, but never heard that title before, so had to run the bank of DEAD things until I guessed WOOD.

SHALLOT also seemed like a dissonant note. Onions are often caramelized. SHALLOTs? Not so much.

I liked the theme fine, but all of the "huh?" in the cluing left me dangling at different points.

GILL I. 9:16 AM  

The WOOD DUCK is probably the most beautiful water fowl in North America. I know it as the Carolina. I'm not much of a birder other than I love watching them....specially bossy boots hummingbirds. I certainly hope they don't END up DEAD.
Didn't know VOIT, FFF, DOYA and actually had Lorca before LLOSA (and I should know better)..
I'll admit to not feeling the love for this one. No real solver joy as @Rex pointed out.
I remember when I first started out I would jump for joy if I finished a puzzle and would yell out how much I loved it. Now, I'm fussy and want GOOD FAT in my puzzle. This was OK but I'm not going to go screaming hallelujah or anything. I also think I'll never remember FFF.
I just re-looked at CABIT and decided that's pretty awful. On the other hand BEAVER (there's a story) made me chuckle.
The sun is out today. Good omen me thinks...

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Um, the exact same theme was done less than four years ago by Jeff Chen. My memory isn't great, but it's easy to find. http://rexwordpuzzle.blogspot.com/2012/03/wife-whose-face-was-never-seen-on.html

Nancy 9:23 AM  

I found this puzzle quite flat. Or should I say ONE D? I'd much rather use this space to thank @Hartley 70 for surprising me with my beautiful new avatar! And she did it all the way from CT to NYC, without laying a hand on my computer. I did give her my Gmail address and password, but I never thought she's be able to do it. I went to the park on a beautiful 63-degree day and forgot all about it.

I got some truly puzzling and peculiar emails from her last night about how she wanted me to post again (I had already posted twice) and how she "couldn't stand it anymore". I had no idea what she was talking about or what it was she couldn't stand, and, finally, after the 2nd puzzling email, I called her. She said she had wanted it to be a surprise, but she had created an avatar for me and it was up, but I needed to post a new comment to see it. "What's it of?" I asked. "Central Park," she said. "Why that's exactly what I wold have chosen!" I said excitedly. "How did you guess?" "Because that's what you told me months ago that you'd put up if you knew how." I actually didn't remember telling her that, but, as the late Nora Ephron said: I REMEMBER NOTHING. Anyway, that's the story of How Nancy Got Her Avatar. Not quite as good as "How the Leopard Got Its Spots," but still. So thank you @Hartley 70 for a really beautiful avatar!

cwf 9:32 AM  

CABIT is the new PIGIT

Ludyjynn 9:34 AM  

Rex, I have a pair of beautiful WOOD DUCK carved decoys sitting on my coffee table as I type this. Stunning birds.

@Roo, hand up for questioning ENTO.

@ChefBea, for this JD (Juris Doctor) LIENOR was a gimme.

@Donald, Wikipedia has a detailed entry confirming that JET BOATs are propellerless. I think you mean air boats, which I have ridden in the Everglades. They have giant props, as I recall.

What @NCAPres. said so well about the theme of this puzzle. Call me vanilla, but I liked its flavor!

Hand up for loving SEAHORSE and everything about these unusual, amazing creatures.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is the NEW YORK Times xword puzzle. We should expect to see occasional NYC references included, duh!

Thanks, PG and WS. Me likey.

chefbea 9:34 AM  

Should have been voit above

Mr. Benson 9:36 AM  

A little harsh on the theme there. Sure, there are other words that precede DEAD like the ones listed, but how many of them can you combine to form an in-the-language expression? "Calm presidents" (ideal leaders in a crisis)? "Issue giveaway" (free magazines)?

Unknown 9:41 AM  

You'd be wrong about that. They're propelled by drawing water under the boat and "jetting" it out the rear of the boat.

Tita 10:00 AM  

@Pete - nice WOODDUCK musings.
@NCAPres - I agree!

Rex -
Please step in...
You either don't want @George Barany to promote his puzzles, or you do/don't care.
If you don't, tell him so and he'll stop.
If you do/don't care, then moderate that predictable, no-value comment from BillyC or Wm or whoever the hell it is.

And while I'm at it, in spite of Rex's direct instructions to lay off him on this topic,
here's my personal Ben Franklin chart on moderation in Rexville.

Much less-
....personal attacks
....wearing out of my index finger scrolling past the above
(and perhaps more satisfaction from denying access to the grenade-lobbing bullies?)
....being tempted to respond to a mindless jerk.

....Loss of some favorite Rexites (LMS, r.alph, for example)
....No more conversation
....Having to consume new comments in bulk, rather than as they post.
....Wearing out my index finger from scrolling past the 77th comment about Tight Ends and Wide Receivers.
....Being unable to resist responding to and/or defending one of our own against said asses.

There - it's clear.
I humbly suggest either going back to the Wild West, or, appointing a few more moderators who can approve faster - the latter would actually be the best of both worlds.

Tita 10:04 AM  


....No spellcasters
....No Grammar Nazi

....We still get spellcasters
....We still get anti-GB posts
....No Grammar Nazi (I liked GN)
....It's easy to scroll past spellcasters and asses
....Can't delete our own posts right after we make them and realize we had tons of typos or a dangling participle. Or forgot something. ;)

Sir Hillary 10:06 AM  

I have no problem with this puzzle. Sure, hardly an original concept, but six different pairs plus a revealer is nice work. Reality is, NYT is now a solid, middle-of-the-road puzzle venue, not the gold standard it once was. Deal with it.

I wasn't aware VOIT was still around. I know the name mostly from inflatable balls (basketball, volleyballs, etc.) when I was a kid and it were part of a ubiquitous ad campaign by their parent AMF. Haven't heard of it for years though.

Guessing OFL is in the middle of finals, because his recent write-ups have had a rushed feel to them.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:15 AM  

Always nice to learn something. I had never known of the difference/similarity regarding "SAUTERNES" and "sauterne" despite having spent time in the company of wine enthusiasts and professionals. (I have never hesitated to note that I am more of a Coca-Cola guy myself.)

Seeing VOIT reminds me of an idle thought I have had recently: When Hollywood gets around to remaking "Cast Away," and you know that, being Hollywood, they will, will they find it necessary to re-name the basketball?

thfenn 10:17 AM  

I liked it. Had TULANE too but that resolved fairly easily with EARTHA. Once again, laboured in the NE, where AtpORt stayed a long time before ASHORE dawned on me. There's a lake I love not far from Vergennes where you can see WOODUCK and BEAVER routinely, and seeing them is always a treat, so I enjoyed this one (along with SEAHORSE). Hard not to like a puzzle with those answers. @ludyjynn, those wood be wood wood ducks? very nice...

Charles in Austin 10:22 AM  

Deadhorse is not just a dead horse. It's an unincorporated community on the North Slope of Alaska near the Arctic Ocean.

Unknown 10:28 AM  

A total bore!!

Did K. Austin Collins' High:low last night. Way more fun. C'mon NYT. Pick it up.

Aketi 10:37 AM  

@Nancy, bravo on your avatar. If you hadn't managed to upload one, I would have offered to MEET at the LOEB boathouse to help you.
@ Tita, the clue for SEAHORSE was my favorite clue today.

I guess NO GO yesterday wasn't enough. Now it's NONONO.
Yesterday we had CLAMOR. Today we have CUSS AT and BASH.
Sounds like the typical escalation of Facebook conversations.

Sometimes all the Kerfuffles keep us from appreciating the BOBs. I have been tracking baby names for the last SIXteen years (having seen over 5000 baby boys) and I have not yet seen a baby named Bob, Bobby, Bobbi, or Robert. I think the complete disappearance of Bobs might just be among the small subset of parents I see in Manhattan. In the US as a whole, Robert was among the top ten names for boys from 1900 to 1989 and only dropped to 61st last year. My name has met a worse FATE. It reigned among the top ten names from 1945 to 1968 and has now dropped to 851st on the list. It isn't even among the names featured on keychains anymore.

chefbea 10:57 AM  

I'm with Tita!!! Agree whole heartedly

Unknown 11:05 AM  

Jet boats use a high pressure pump for propulsion. No prop. Think SeaDoo.

Unknown 11:06 AM  

Jet boats use high pressure pumps for propulsion. No prop. Think SeaDoo.

Mohair Sam 11:25 AM  

A cul-de-sac is a cul-de-sac specifically because it is NOT a dead end. A dead end requires a three point turn, imo. Kinda funny that DEADEND is smack in the middle btw.

Looks like @Nancy's avatar might have been shot from the vicinity of the LOEB Boathouse. Speaking of which, I don't think LOEB and CABIT are too provincial - it is the New York Times, and tourism is the number two industry there, most readers have grabbed a NY cab and been to Central Park. Number one industry is Wall Street working with Washington to fleece the rest of the country's working stiffs.

Hand up for knee-jerking on Tulane, and we have a kid with a LOYOLA (MD) degree no less. Hand up with the No to NONONO crowd as well, yuck.

Given the clue, is BODYWEIGHT not about as green paintish as you can get? Fun to chuckle at OFL's lack of knowledge of the wood duck this morning, he puts himself out there. Air Force vet here who always wants the PX to be a BX, drives me nuts.

Nancy 11:26 AM  

Liked your comment a lot, @Tita. It was witty and accurate, and I agree 100%.

AliasZ 11:33 AM  

Two potential Naticks: JDS|JETBOAT|VOIT and the SAL|LOEB crossing. LDS|LEGBOAT|VOIG occurred to me, then DDS|DERBOAT|VOIR, as well as VOIW|JEW BOAT, VOIB| JEB BOAT and a few others. I had SAM|MOAB at first, bit ON THE MAKA didn't make-ah, then SAP|POEB and a few others. These two spots soured my solving pleasure considerable.

So did the ho-hum "word that can precede both words of a phrase" theme, but it's better not to beat one dead horse with two in the bush.


Lyrics to the Pink Panther theme:
deadend-deadend-deadend-deadend, dead-eeeeeeeeend... etc.
You are welcome.

CA BIT -- behavior imported from the left coast.
I can neither LIE NOR tell the truth -- what a conundrum!

Today is the birthday of Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967). In his honor allow me to present you his rarely performed (in the USA) "Kállai kettős" (double dance from Kálla).

Happy Wednesday.

RooMonster 11:40 AM  

WOw, lOts Of O's tO lOOk fOr, nO? GOOd, Or sOrt Of Odd? ROOs wOn fOr mOst smOOth & grOOvy On shOw! FOr shO!

And a little Random Nonsense...

Crumbly mine find? ASH ORE
Against Yoko? NON ONO
How the Phone Home alien refers to himself? ME ET
Common letter, chunky? FAT E
Stop hurting? END OW
Use the 3rd letter some? C ABIT

Ouch, I know!


GILL I. 11:51 AM  

@Tita....Well said.
Sometimes I wonder if @Rex is bored with all of this and maybe secretly wants us all to go away...

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Would wood ducks duck wood chucked by woodchucks? Theme boring.

Lewis 12:05 PM  

Congratulations to all who got LADE today.

@tita -- What I'd like is if we went back to the Wild West, and Rex checked the comments as he does now and zapped inappropriate comments each time he checks. Seems like the perfect compromise. We get the good back, and the bad doesn't hang around for long.
@z -- Loved your wood duck ditty.

Interesting answers to me were FIRETRAP and ONTHEMAKE. There were mini themes of words ending in A (10) and double L's (5). Not a wow, but certainly a solid and enjoyable solve and Paula's execution of the theme was DEAD on.

old timer 12:14 PM  

This is one of those puzzles where the revealer and the theme makes it possible to finish, there were so many hard (for a Wednesday) spots. I ended up stymied in that little NW corner and finally wrote in WOOD before DUCK because they both can follow DEAD. That left me agape, wondering what in Hell a doya is. Oh. DO YA! I remember that song.

Time to retire, or at least put on the disabled list, both ESME and ENYA. Not forever, but at least for a season.

I had been tempted to write in "Tulane", too. But I knew EARTHA, and LIENOR, and the balls when I was a kid were VOITs, so LOYOLA it was.

No problem in the SE for me. I've heard of the LOEB Boathouse, and wrote in SAL immediately. She's the mule in the song "Erie Canal" and that is the most amazing, perfect performance on Springsteen's "Seeger Sessions" album. Instead of being a simple tune for children, "Erie Canal", the way the Boss sings it, sounds like it really could have been sung by a canalboat man in 1825, tied up at a lock halfway to Albany.

Hands up for @Tita's plea that we either go back to the bad old days or have a crew assigned to quickly moderate posts. I miss the conversation at lot.

Carola 12:15 PM  

I liked having the reveal in the middle, instead of the lower right corner, so that I could try guessing the remaining three theme answers. LETTERHEAD came to me right away; I needed crosses for EYEBALL and SEA HORSE. I thought the puzzle was an excellent example of its kind, and was further livened up with I TOLD YOU, NO NO NO, ON THE MAKE, GOOD FAT, SHALLOT, and FIRE TRAP.

I thought the back door was opening into the house, so ALLEY was the hardest for me to see.

I didn't get to yesterday's puzzle until very late; sounds like I missed an interesting comments conversation. Off to read.

Wm. C. 12:22 PM  

@Donald --

Jet boats have no propellers. They are "propelled" by impellers, which are within the water tunnel running fore to aft through the lower part of the vessel.

If they had propellers (exposed in the vessel's rear), they could be dangerous to any rider who fell off.

Masked and Anonymous 12:29 PM  

thUmbsUp for CABIT. Sounds like some sorta hybrid varmint.

DEADly grid … PaulaG. has done gone total goth, on us. Seemed like a pretty routine solve, til M&A got to the SW. That's where the old JETBOAT went DEAD. Thanks mainly to VOIT & EARTHA, got er goin again, after many reflective nanoseconds, and limped home. No thanks to ANTH & LLOSA. But, hey -- with seven deadly themers, things get nice and cozy & desperate.

fffave weeject: FFF. {Stuttering curse, that might be completed by a woodduck??}.

fave weeject combo congeniality winner: WOW-WII.

Odd to M&A bullets:
* GOODFAT. What we cinnamon roll regulars like to call Emergency Body Weight.
* They put caramel on SHALLOTs? Sold at Mr. GOODFAT body shops, perhaps?
* {Gamboling spots}. Totally misread this clue. While I'm here, tho: Ten bucks on the dandelions, to win.
* Evidently really wanted that X in the SE corner. har. That little area's closer musta given @Anoa Bob palpitations.
* THEO. This is gettin overly rough, when U drag the whole Van Gogh family into yer WedPuz. (For completion's sake … mom: LOYOLA. pop: LLOSA. sista: LOTSA. pet budgie: NONONO.)

Thanx for the puz, Paula darlin. Plucked flea fled firetrap. (repeat, until the woodduck sings) har.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

**gift gruntz**

Geometricus 12:35 PM  

I had "JDl" and SAUTERNEl and couldn't find my mistake. I had a few extra minutes in my 3rd period math class I was teaching so I flashed my puzzle-in-progress on the screen and asked my students to help me find the mistake. Brock Lahr looked up Bordeaux wines on his iPad and told me it was SAUTERNES. What does the S even stand for in JDS? Juris Doctor..Specialias???

@TheRhino, I consider myself a conservative Christian (who also happens to be an Ole: Um Ya Ya!) and I think your book looks interesting. I'd probably buy and read it before I burn it (ha ha).

Teedmn 1:03 PM  

I liked this puzzle. While @Rex has a point that many words can go in front of DEAD, I think the challenge is to find two of those words which make a known phrase, and this puzzle certainly succeeded at that. I had to laugh at @Rex's DEAD HORSE addendum. without the rest of the phrase, it is rather green paintish.

I misspelled SAUTERgne at first, had BAll for BASH, and detox for REHAB, all successfully fixed.

I was camping out in North Dakota a few years ago and was surprised to flush a couple of birds out of the trees that looked like DUCKs as they flew away. "North Dakota, where the ducks roost in trees, hmm," I mused to myself. Later they flew back and I was able to observe them more closely and I realized the red and green colored birds were WOOD DUCKS, so named because they roost and nest in TREEs! Head slap for me; they are not uncommon in Minnesota.

Thanks, PG, for a fun Wednesday.

@Nancy, let me add my congratulations on your acquisition of an avatar. We will never confuse you with the 'driving' Nancy now :-)!

Laurence Hunt 1:04 PM  

I much prefer Eartha to Enya, and Llosa to ELO. Wood ducks are native to our area but are being compromised by invasive mallards. I only knew about Tulane, which my cousin attended. Obviously the Jesuits were in New Orleans as well as Chicago!

Jamie C 1:31 PM  

People in cities all over the world say CAB IT. It is not specific to New York City.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 1:38 PM  

Mallards aren't nearly as dull as black ducks, and Mallard-black duyck hybrids are what we get a lot these days. I am a big fan of the wood duck.

Numinous 1:53 PM  

It still amazes me how different folks have such different solving experiences. I cruised through this leaving big holes int the NE, plowed through the bottom, worked my way back to the top where the answers had become clear feeling that I was just dragging my a**, and finished. When the fat lady sang, she sang that I had finished this in less than half my Wednesday average.

Our solving experiences seem to be based on what things we have experienced in our lives. It should seem obvious that we all have different experiences but somehow, to me, it's not. Children, when they learn something, want to share it with thier parents, relatives, and friends and will go on at great lengths about stuff that's new to them. I'm pretty sure every one of us has done that in the past. Often, we were indulged. The responses I usually got went something like, "Oh, everyone knows that." To this day, I still have the feeling that if I know something, probably everyone else does too. I occasionally wonder where it was along the evolutionary chain that we stopped being born with inate knowledge. I remember being somehow amazed that my daughters, at some point, had never heard of, for example, The Beatles. I think it's sad that every human has to attend the "School of Hard Knocks," and learn things from scratch, the hard way.

SAUTERNES was the first wine I can recall drinking as a child maybe around first grade. My immature taste buds told me it was yucky. I've never tried it since. I prefer dry reds these days anyway. The exception might be Gewurtztraminer.

I solve almost every puzzle as a themeless. Thursday's, I maybe try to figure out the theme and use it to help me solve especially with gimmicks like refuses. But mostly, I finish the puzzle and then look back to see what the big idea was. Sometimes I care and sometimes I don't. You dirty cheating SOB, @NCA Pres, hang your head in shame. I guess you've learned now that all puzzles will treat you pretty much the same way. At least the newspaper chavs will. There are a few others with a higher calling but you need a secret password to get to meet them. I'll stick with my sweetheart. I used to date the LAT but we broke up when I met the Grey Lady. I never had much to do with the pedestrians like TV Guide or USA Today but the one thing they all have in common is themes.

Pax, y'all.

Numinous 2:17 PM  


JDS, retread the clue, it's plural.

@Tita, I heartily agree. I miss the conversations too, they were something I found unique among blogs, a rallying point for aficionados.

@Aketi, my name has never been on a key chain, ever.

@ Nancy, congratulations on your new avatar.

beatrice 2:43 PM  

As a South Carolinian and somewhat birder, I know of the WOODDUCK as the WOODDUCK. I was first WOWed by them at the local zoo some years ago, and if it referenced them as the Carolina Duck, it didn't stick with me. Just don't recall ever hearing this name at all.

On a lighter subject, the pesky FLEA enjoyed a bit of fame at the hands of both Claude LeJeune (1528-1600) and the master Roland de Lassus(1532-1594).



But the French word for FLEA is 'puce', and I knew an old French carol called 'Une Jeune Pucelle'. A bit of research revealed that 'puce' derives from the Latin 'pulex', whereas 'pucelle' -meaning 'girl', 'maiden' - comes from the Latin 'puella'. So apparently the secular works about a flea - based on an amatory poem by the poet Baif - is a play on words, as such works often (always?) were.

I didn't find a good video of the carol itself, but there is a good one of it's appearance in the 'Midnight Mass for Christmas' by Charpentier (1643-1704). This 'noel' is only one of ten on which the Mass was based. The entire work is present on YouTube - even if you only listen to Classical music at this time of year - well, 'old' music doesn't come more charming than this.


John Child 6:13 PM  

Three cheers for @Tita for raising both issues. I too favor a middle ground - frequent moderation or, even better, @Lewis the Wild West plus a ruthless takedown of offensive posts. Both require sub-moderators, and since I live a dozen time zones more or less away from the US, I would be willing to cover the night shift if OFL wants to try either variation on his moderation.

Today's puzzle was fun, but I didn't like the chopped-up grid. There's just one square connecting the NW and SE corners to the rest of the puzzle. I thought that was a NO NO. NO?

kitshef 6:23 PM  

CABIT?? Never heard of it. FFF I say. NONONO. Came here knowing @Rex would hate the theme - this is his least favorite kind. But I thought he's also take more time to crush the cruddy fill (WII, MIC, EMS, FFF, NEO, EDU).

On the plus side, WOODDUCK in the same row as BEAVER delighted me. I wish we could have had SEAHORSE paired with another animal. bONObo might be workable (not by me, though).

@Nancy has inspired me - gotta get me an avatar.

mac 6:24 PM  

I enjoyed this one, rich in theme and Paula's puzzles are usually in my wheelhouse. VOIT had to come from crosses, though.

Music Man 8:47 PM  

Why can I never finish tues or wed but fri and sat always make sense? It makes no sense.

Warren Howie Hughes 9:00 PM  

How much would a WOOD DUCK chuck, if a WOOD DUCK could chuck wood?

sasses 10:49 PM  

Did anyone else notice that the one and only sports-related clue was a brand of sports equipment? Love it!

Anonymous 5:38 AM  

A day late but it's bugging me..."observe closely" for "eyeball"? I dunno. I think of eyeballing something as giving it a quick glance in order to come up with an estimate. "Eyeballing this tree near the Loeb Boathouse, I'd say it's about 20 feet high." If I observed closely, I'd come up with a more precise estimate. (And yeah, "Loeb Boathouse" and "cab it"? We New Yorkers do think we're the center of the universe, don't we.)

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

I cannot believe no one said anything ab AVENCE...

laura R 1:01 PM  

Ugh, I did not like this at all. I have no problem with the theme, but the fill in general, specifically the southwest corner. I am a big fan of the Sports Authority, although I don't consider myself any kind of authority (lol), but I have never heard of "VOIT." So, crossing that with "LOYOLA" when the 1st two hits on Google are located in Baltimore and Chicago is kind of b.s, and then also crossing it with "LIENOR" and "NONONO" is just that. What the "FFF" is that about anyway?!

I didn't know what "EMS" were (Printing Measures), so crossing it with "PXS" (Stores for G.I.s) was just a lucky guess.

Finally, I used to be a goody-goody (I'm under 35) and I USED to say "CUSS" AT, but no more. I tell kids not to "swear." I don't know anyone that says cuss anymore, not even my (goody-goody) parents.

Lastly, anyone who plays with an Xbox knows that "WII" is not really an comparable alternative. Maybe the PS4, but just because it's also a gaming system, it's like saying the Hardy Boys series is a good alternative to the 007 series. Kind of different. (I know to some that's nit-picky, and maybe not the best comparison, but it's all I got.)

Anyway, back to reality.

Burma Shave 11:25 AM  


I EYEBALLed this SOVIET gal from the EAST, and I was ONTHEMAKE,
but NONONO my AIM was bad, a DEADEND would be my FATE,
She was ENDOWed with LOTSA GOODFAT, but she’d BASH me when she spake,
she’d CUSSAT me and OPT to say, “ITOLDYOU don’t mention BODYWEIGHT.”


spacecraft 11:27 AM  

This'll be short if not sweet. I didn't like it. OK theme and all, but the fill had no joy. Too tech-y, too ONED-y, too FFF-y, too EMS/ESME-y, etc. That EMS smacks of Maleska-ism. As for ONTHEMAKE, like OFL said: great entry with a ? clue. Was I supposed to know who LLOSA is/was? Was ANYONE? How come Ogden Nash never wrote about him or his one-l cousin? Meh. D+.

rondo 12:25 PM  

While not a total DEADEND, this puz leaned toward “meh” for me. Not much to get excited about. One write-over at JETskis, which are not allowed on my part of the St. Croix River. Only boats with outboard motors like the Johnson SEAHORSE. Old joke: How big is your Johnson?

Montgomery Ward stereo equipment went under the name of AIRLINE. I had one of their console models. Probably as dead as the aforementioned Johnson SEAHORSE. But nobody ever asked how big my AIRLINE was.

As a former musician (did I ever mention I played in a band that opened for Johnny Cash?), I have a nit, well, maybe it’s bigger than a nit: in a score “ff”, or fortissimo, means very loud (as the clue reads); “fff” is fortississimo, or very, very loud. So what the FFF? NONONO!The NYT xword editor(s) are mistaken (100% wrong) on that one. Or at least 50% short on the “very” issue.

Two musical yeah babies today with the omnipresent ENYA and multi-talented former Catwoman EARTHA. Meow. An unanswerable question: Julie Newmar or EARTHA Kitt?

Aren’t there LOYOLAs all over the country? Marymount comes to mind.

Living on the MN/WI border some of our cheesehead friends used to call us WOODDUCKs. Never really knew why.

ITOLDYOU enough for now, hope everyone got LADE.

Diana,LIW 2:13 PM  

Yeah, this was really easy. Until I didn't finish, and met a DEADEND. SEAHORSE, LETTERHEAD, VOIT, and bASH just wouldn't show up - felt brainDEAD. When my Kitty, Lambo, jumps up on the counter next to the stove I say, "N n n n n n no!" No no no? Never, ever, ever, ever. Thought there was a mini-theme of double letters.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 2:15 PM  

The M-T-W puzzles seem out of order this week, but each has had some gimmick or obscure clue/answer that gives it a little kick.

This one seems like more of a Monday, with its easy theme and familiar fill, except for SHALLOT and CABIT in the NE and LOEB in the SE.

But I SHALLnOT CUSSAT or complain.

leftcoastTAM 5:21 PM  

I'm in the Tita camp.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP