Dickinson with modeling agency / WED 6-1-16 / Elephant boy boy / One-named singer from Iceland / Coffehouse combo often / Em polly in literature / NCAA's Aggies informally

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Constructor: Wren Schultz

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: diacritical marks — four of them in the grid, both as answers, and as the marks themselves, which can be found (if you solve on paper and care to write them in) at the intersection of four sets of words throughout the grid:

Theme answers:
  • CEDILLA (7D: Mark in the intersection of 58-Across and 43-Down) (GARÇON and CURAÇAO)
  • TILDE (22D: Mark in the intersection of 56-Across and 38-Down) (SI, SEÑOR and AÑO)
  • CIRCUMFLEX (45A: Mark in the intersection of 19-Across and 11-Down) (ÎLE and MAÎTRE D')
  • UMLAUT (Mark in the intersection of 17-Across and 1-Down) (ÖYSTER and BJÖRK)
Word of the Day: ASGARD (37A: Odin's realm) —
In Norse religion, Asgard (Old Norse: ''Ásgarðr''; "Enclosure of the Æsir") is one of the Nine Worlds and home to the Æsir tribe of gods. It is surrounded by an incomplete wall attributed to a Hrimthurs riding the stallion Svaðilfari, according to Gylfaginning. Odin and his wife, Frigg, are the rulers of Asgard. // One of Asgard's well known locations is Valhöll (Valhalla), in which Odin rules. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is at least interesting. It takes a common crossword observation / complaint (esp. where the TILDE is concerned)—that crossing a letter with a diacritical mark over it with one that lacks such a mark is like crossing two different letters—and makes it the subject of the puzzle, with four crosses that actually get the diacritical mark thing right. OK. Interesting concept. There is some weirdness here–hilarious, to my mind—in that the examples for UMLAUT are neither of them actual words or place names. They are names belonging to musical acts. BJÖRK's, at least, is a given name. BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, however ... yikes. That's not just an umlaut—that's a "metal umlaut"! It's used "gratuitously or decoratively" in band names (mostly metal bands, hence the name). The most famous instance, to my mind, is the double metal umlaut in Mötley Crüe. I thought BJÖRK's umlaut was also decorative, but it's her actual given first name, apparently (Also, according to one very reliable source, "Thë ümläüt wäs ïnvëntëd by Ïcëländïc sïngër Björk ïn 197Ö."). Anyway, the UMLAUT portion of this puzzle is bewildering and funny. Which, I think, is actually a plus. Here's an interesting article on the difference between the UMLAUT and the dieresis (same symbol, different function). There really aren't many (any) English words with true UMLAUTs. Apparently, with German loan words in English, most of the time the diacritical marks are "suppressed." I'm just reading wikipedia here, so don't quote me.

The grid is choked with crosswordese, which is its main problem. As if AÑO and ÎLE weren't enough, there are old friends like RLS and AESOPS and ENE SLO SABU STR ILO REN. This incarnation of REN (49A: "Footloose" hero ___ McCormack) actually slowed me up more than almost anything in the puzzle besides another even worse piece of fill: CMIX (I miscalculated my random Roman centuries and started off with M...). As for the names of the diacritical marks not lining up symmetrically in the grid ... I just don't care. Concept is worth the "violation" of grid etiquette. Junky fill is a far bigger problem, and even that didn't ruin the solving experience completely.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:33 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this. As Rex said, it was easy for a Wednesday. The best part was the comment about Björk: (Also, according to one very reliable source, "Thë ümläüt wäs ïnvëntëd by Ïcëländïc sïngër Björk ïn 197Ö.").

Hats off to Rex for the punctuation at the end of that sentence. Period, quotation, parenthesis, period. Impressive. Not ****, as was clued a few puzzles ago, but ★★★★.


jae 1:17 AM  

Easy-medium for me with a slight hiccup at the MARMOT/ILO cross. I was iffy on the MARMOT spelling and I couldn't remember if it was ILO or ILA until I saw agcy. in the clue and knew it had to be O (I may have confused the Longshoreman's Union with the UN). I also had to go back and spell GARÇON right.

Delightful debut. A nice twist on a crossword problem that is frequently the source of negative comments. Liked it.

Ellen S 1:56 AM  

@Rex says, "Junky fill ...didn't ruin the solving experience completely." Or in my case, didn't ruin it at all. I flinched at the RRN (and got it wrong!) but everything else was great fun.

Mark 2:13 AM  

I thought it was a really inventive puzzle and didn't mind the crosswordese. I liked it.

chefwen 3:04 AM  

Other than your basic UMLAUT and TILDE diacritical marks are not something I just KNOW so CEDILLA and CIRCUMFLEX crosses had their work cut out for them. Other than those two gaps in my limited knowledge I'll have to agree with Rex that this was pretty easy.

BLEW IT and SAID AH were obvious and easy as I was filling them in, but when I went back and skimmed over the puzzle they looked very odd as one word. BLEWIT sounds like some sort of a cute little song bird and SAIDAH, one of those new girls names that seem to be popping up everywhere. Or maybe I'm just tired. Anyway, cute puzzle.

Phil 3:18 AM  

Häagen as in Häagen-Dazs, now that would be a true bogus entry ;)


Max 4:15 AM  

Husker Du on the blog! My favorite band ever ever ever. Had they been in the puzzle I would've fallen over

Loren Muse Smith 5:02 AM  

Boy I was all over this one like a duck on a Junebug. I loved that Wren takes that ubiquitous TILDE complaint and saying, "Here you go, buddy." When this gripe rears its head, I always wonder why people don't get their nose all out of joint with entries like façade or entrée. Then I think maybe the tilde'd N is a letter in its own right, but the cedilla'd C and accent aigu'd E haven't earned full-fledged letterhood yet. Then I forget to investigate the deal and share it with everyone. Mercifully.

I know I write treatises here, but man, you should see what's usually left on the cutting room floor. Rex – this morning I got to mark through "metal umlaut" in my margin. I totally agree that it's cool to cross them and not confuse this mark with the diaeresis. Nice.

So here's what little I know about the circumflex – it seems to mark a long-lost S. MAÎTRE/master, ÎLE/isle, bête/beast, fête/feast… For some reason this pleases me to no end. So in this spirit, we have the apostrophe showin' a dropped letter. (Heck, our possessive apostrophe I think was born when we started dropping the is of his - so man his becomes man's.)

It's really two-faced that I go out of my way not to use whom, but boy, do I run around using the diaeresis whenever I can. In my defense it seems more purposeful, makes it easier to read words because you've just undiphthongized those two vowels. So a couple of years ago I was at a body shop in Wirt County, WV, standing in the "office" (read nasty little room with a metal desk, concrete floor, car parts everywhere, car partish smell…) and the guy was on hold as we both waited. I was standing under a calendar duct-taped to the wall that read Wirt County Farmers Coop. I should have trusted my gut should not have gone there, but, hey, it was so silent as we waited there, so I said

You know, if you just added two little dots over this second O, everyone would know it's co-op and not coop. Those two little dots used to be pretty common.

He stared at me for a bit – in retrospect I guess he was trying to process this useful little tidbit – and then just nodded his head. Polite. And the silence grew. Awk. Ward.

In my attempt to impress my son's girlfriend – who likes wordplay, too – I bragged to her that of the bajillion rejection letters I've received from the NYT, the one that hurt the most was the rejection of a theme repurposing the ed of something like rear-ended to be read like sex-ed, driver's ed. To tighten it up, I made them all doggie classes, and I clued REAR-ENDED as a "MEET and greet" course. Actually, I couldn't fill the &^%$ 21X, so it became a collaboration with a gifted constructor whose name I won't share because the idea was probably a stinker and he'd be embarrassed and was just being kind to help. Anyway, it still stings to see "MEET and greet."

Terrific theme idea. I'll remember this one for a long time.

Struggling 5:38 AM  

For me crossing of ASGARD and AANDM mad otherwise easy puzzle impossible to finish.

Trombone Tom 5:56 AM  

I liked this as something interesting and new, but it skewed easy for a Wednesday (and it was very much in my wheelhouse).

This must come as a great relief to those Spanish speakers who dread repeatedly seeing that in crossword puzzles twelve months are an anus.

I generally solve with pen and paper, so no problems with encountering diacritical markings. If you solve online this can be a real pain.

I liked #Rex's write-up, especially regarding the umlaut.

Kudos to Messrs. Schultz and Shortz. (Is that a great name for a law partnership or what?) Maybe next time Wren Schultz will include some great street food in his puzzle. In Wordplay he notes that it a passion of his.

Lewis 6:44 AM  

This was an interesting theme, interesting and different. I say this often enough regarding the NYT crossword to be truly impressed with what constructors come up with and Will's getting it out there. The strength of this puzzle, for me, aside from its foreign flare, are its good number of stellar answers: LAY_BARE, MARMOT, MAITRED, HELIX, CURACAO, and SLEIGHT.

There is a mini-theme of answers ending in O (6), and it's a good thing that the basketball hoop wasn't referred to as "ring", which Ted Cruz was ridiculed for (I almost said "crucified", but I don't think Ted would like that). I thought that the smattering of ugly fill was justified by the strong theme, but I would have liked a little more cleverness in the cluing, as I expect on a Wednesday. But because I enjoyed this puzzle so much, I don't want to be too diacritical.

smalltowndoc 6:58 AM  

Agree with @rex. Great concept, lousy fill (at least the three-letter answers). This puzzle made me look up and learn about CIRCUMFLEX and CEDILLA. But let's retire monograms (RLS), made-up abbreviations (STR), partial copyright names (SLO) and random Roman numerals forever. More than one of these in a puzzle ought to trigger a "do over" mandate from the editor.

Aketi 7:10 AM  

Once again I've proven to myself that I can't read directions. I started getting the various marks right away (thank you Monsieur James for teaching me those in high school even though you threw chalk at me). Yet I couldn't quite muster the imagination to think beyond the shapes of the crosses. I thought there was some mysterious computer code that I didn't know about involving geometric shapes. Once I saw the AÑO, SI SEÑOR cross I definitely slapped my head at my stupidity and then LOL because there would be no discussion of the meaning of ANO versus AÑO today. Someone finally found a way to get a mark into a puzzle. Thankfully the ouzzle didn't get into the accent aigu and grave, which I only managed the memorize long enough to survive Monsieur James' class.

Glimmerglass 7:17 AM  

This puzzle as so easy that I got confused and asked my wife whether the Calif. primary was today or next week. By the way, I loved ILO REN in The Force Awakens.

Unknown 7:19 AM  

I thought AANDM was backasswardly clued but I got. No spell check line on backasswardly, who knew?

Unknown 7:20 AM  

Cute idea! I would've enjoyed your puzzle :)

QuasiMojo 7:22 AM  

I LOL'ed along with this puzzle since it seemed to be a direct response to all the complaints about "año" over the years. Nicely done. See ya mañana!

Dorothy Biggs 7:51 AM  

I liked this puzzle too. When I wrote in BJÖRK I was actually thinking how often those letters don't match up with their crosses. And then, low and behold, they do and are part of the theme! Nice.

My only (very small) nits to pick are the CMIX and ENE answers. I just think that random Roman numerals and random compass directions are cop outs. While CMIX is at least relatively original and a bit off the usual RRN path, it's still just a random collection of letters that test your ability to remember your Roman numerals. I'm surprised there's no D in there.

Otherwise easy puzzle. I got hung up on KAGAN. For some reason I thought it was KeGeN. Then KAGeN. Finally, once I figured out the crosses, KAGAN emerged.

Also, there may be a potential natick at the SABU/FAROE crossing. S-BU/F-ROE could be every vowel. I guessed because SABU rhymes with Abu...another crossword staple.

Lobster11 8:07 AM  

"The grid is choked with crosswordese, which is its main problem." As a chronic Crosswordese-Griper-Abouter, I couldn't agree more.

DNF because CEDILLA, crossed with ILO and DRED, were all WOEs for me. I thought those were unfair crosses for a Tuesday. I'm glad to have learned CEDILLA, but not this way.

pmdm 8:19 AM  

Not being a particular fan of pop culture, I did not know 17A or 1A. And I did not know 1D. I cry foul.

Doug 8:30 AM  

This was funny for me. All through the solving experience I kept thinking, "What is Rex going to say about this puzzle?" I usually don't do this, btw. So....easy for a Wednesday. He's going to like the clever, inventive theme (because at least it's about language), and he's going to crab about the junky fill. Heh, heh. Was I right? Garcon, more champagne! As a writer I was trained to almost never use the banger (if the phrase wasn't strong enough, the ! wouldn't help much), more formally known as an exclamation point. The rise of digital media has, of course, thrown this suggestion out the door.

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

The diacriticals put me in mind of Kierkegaard's parable of the Orientalist's Wife (plus ça change, feminists).
@Lewis - not charitable of you to cast Ted as humorless. Says more about you, is the cliche.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

@Aketi - I think of the accent grave as pointing down to the grave (assumes a left-to-right orientation).

Doug 8:38 AM  

After the matire'd seated us in our favorite restaurant in France, we asked the garcon for oysters and champagne to start.

Pat 8:44 AM  

Typo in article about Bjork's name. It just says "I thought 's umlaut was also decorative, but ..."

kitshef 8:52 AM  

Pretty much 180 degrees from yesterday, which had good fill but a weak theme. Today we get a great theme but CMIX crossing XED, plus STR ILO ENE SAIDAH ASU ACU RLS DEE ETS AANDM.

I enjoyed today's more - I'll always accept some low-grade fill for a super-neat (and in this case, dense) theme.

I've always had a particular fondness for this Björk video.

And I wonder if Blue Öyster Cult is now better known for the SNL Cowbell skit than anything they recorded.

Unknown 9:00 AM  

I think the theme was a creative one. I had to remember (dig deep for) CIRCUMFLEX and CEDILLA, from ages ago. Those are words I don't hear very often. I scratched my head when I did not know USAIN after I filled it in. I checked the intersections and it cost me a few seconds. I guess I would call it Easy-Medium.

Mohair Sam 9:01 AM  

Great theme, lotsa fun. Learned each and every one of the theme names in some class or other decades ago and immediately discarded them from the memory banks (except TILDE) hoping they wouldn't be on the test. Who could ever need that information? Paid the price today. Thanking heaven for junk fill, or we'd have been fried.

Held up for a few minutes at 17A because I didn't know that Blue Oyster Cult did the UMLAUT thing, but were dead sure that BJORK did. Eventually we trusted Will and the constructor.

Very clever theme Wren Schultz. Fun Wednesday.

jberg 9:07 AM  

Great theme. I hesitated over CEDILLA vs. CEDILLe, but figured the clue was in English so the answer should be (also, the crossing words were in two different languages, which was nice).

A AND M as "Aggies, informally" was a little strange -- is "Aggies" the formal name? But obvious enough.

The high point of the day, though, was @Rex's two cross references to the Uncyclopedia and the New Yorker's discussions of styles (of course, I followed the link to the comma shaker in the first article). If you didn't read those, do so right now! You won't be sorry.

@chefwen, see blewit -- probably what you were thinking of. There is also the bluet, several varieties of wildflower.

Horace S. Patoot 9:16 AM  

By all means, go to Paris and call all your waiters garçon. They'll love you for it, and be so impressed with your language skills. Just remember to leave a big tip!

Ω 9:19 AM  

I drive a C-MaX. I like it a good deal more than my 2010 Prius, about as much as I liked my 2006 Prius. Besides going weeks at a time without buying gas (18-22 miles around town on a charge) and being made in the US (for now - production is getting moved to Mexico), I actually have several inches of clearance above my head as I drive. Granted, the clearance thing doesn't matter to most people, but when you're 6'4" it's an issue. Sure, C-MaX is a Product Name. It still would be a crossword upgrade from CMIX.

Blue ÖYSTER Cult?

I have never cared about the AÑO/ANO controversy, but if I did I might think Will was giving me a mïddle fïñger.

@Lobster11 - DRED Scott was a WOE? Your 8th Grade US History teacher is spinning in their grave.

Next up - ÉÎÉÎÖ theme.

chefbea 9:25 AM  

Tough puzzle..too much I didn't know.. Did the puzzle while having my granola. Will have spinach salad (tossed) for lunch!!! Did you all see my tossed salad story the other day?

ultramet 9:27 AM  

I had a problem with cedilla..the word is cédille not cedilla, as this diacritical mark is really found in French not Spanish/English.

Nancy 9:46 AM  

I found it enjoyable. I went to my Webster's to make sure that SLEIGHT could be used without any OF HAND included. Evidently it's a word all by itself. My only blip was that I wrote down PROTEIN instead of GRANOLA at 39D, but the gimmes LOL and ALI straightened me out. As for the theme: I've heard of all the marks, so I didn't need to cross-reference them. And, therefore, I didn't bother to.

crabsofsteel 9:49 AM  

Cultural note: the French do not call their waiters "GARÇON" which is the equivalent of "BOY" or "SONNY". Use "Monsieur" if you don't want to be served a lollipop. Otherwise, a clever puzzle.

Anoa Bob 9:54 AM  

¡Por fin!

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:07 AM  

How dies Gotcha! mean I SEE ?

Chim cham 10:37 AM  

Huuuuuuusker Duuuuuuuu!!!!!
I'm gonna flip ma wig!!!

Tita 10:42 AM  

@lms...you're not alone. I get a huge kick out of that factoid...the accent letting us know that once upon a time there used to be an S. What is it about he French that a) decided as a nation to officially get rid of that pesky S that no one actually pronounced anymore, and b) commemorated its exile with circumflex and accent aigu.

Had 16A been clued Ferry accessory, I woulda gotten it lickety-split, having just taken about 12 different ferries from South Carolina to Kingston, CA. A large red AXE with the ship's name emblazoned was always prominently affixed to an outside bulkhead.

I too liked this novel theme, not only for its inside-jokiness, though that adds to the cleverness.

Will occasionally avoids the AÑO issue by clueing it as Portuguese, which has no ñ. We reserve the tilde only for ã and õ.

Ironically, Curaçao, discovered by the Spanish, was named by them Curación But it was first mapped by a Portuguese mapmaker, who translated it to Curação. So in that name place alone we are talking 3 diacritics...

Btw...the linguistic and historical tangents, and resulting new knowledge, that this particular puzzle have sent me down are one of my favorite things about crossword puzzles...and this blog. (I did not know that about Curação...I always assumed it meant heart - coração. Wiki the island and read the etymology section...fun stuff!)

Thanks, Mr. Schultz. I loved this puzzle. And btw, it played challenging...almost naticked in the NW.

mac 10:47 AM  

``Cute, enjoyable Wednesday! Those things have been hammered into my brain with 7 hours of French starting at age 12.

Love the name Wren!

old timer 11:05 AM  

Thing is, we normally spell "facade" without the cedilla, in English, even though we mentally put it in and pronounce the c line an s (or "soft" c). We never write with a circumflex accent, in English. But we sometimes feel forced to use the umlaut if it belongs on a foreign word, and always should use the tilde if we must use a word like "señor". So naturally, we solvers get more pissed off at "ano" instead of "año" Plus, we who learned Spanish know what an ano is (hint, we all have one).

So this puzzle was a reward for those of us who have cringed at "ano" for años y años.

Interesting (to me) side note on the circumflex accent: What it is actually telling you is that the word used to have an "s" before the vowel. Ile de France used to be Isle de France. A maitre used to be a maistre. A hote used to be a hoste, et cetera. So if your French is kind of shaky and you mentally add the s that used to be there, it can help you guess the meaning, by thinking, for instance, "maitre is maistre, say that looks a lot like master."

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Another interesting article on CIRCUMFLEX http://www.200words-a-day.com/circumflex-in-french.html

Sheryl 11:19 AM  

Easy Wednesday, except that 2 crosses kept me from finishing: (1) ASGARD and AANDM, (2) FAROE and AXLROSE, SABU.

Rex says SABU is old crossword-ese. I didn't know it. I'm also lousy at geography and don't know much about popular music. Or sports or mythology. (((sigh)))

jack 11:31 AM  

Nice idea; don't think I've seen this theme before in (English) crosswords. Is it me or is the dieresis making a comeback, or are people going out of their way to write words with a double same-vowel that is part of two syllables? Is it that necessary? If we have a word like 'reelect,' it does give us maybe slight pause but in context we understand it to give a person another term in office. In the past just to be clear I would spell it as re-elect, using the hyphen; now i see it printed as reëlect.

Joseph Michael 11:50 AM  

Quirky. Amusing. Original. Nice to have a theme for a change that doesn't feel like a RERUN.

Did not find it all that easy, however. Was not up to speed on my diacritical marks (what kinda FLEX?) Nor was I familiar with a number of the names, such as USAIN and Blue OYSTER Cult. When it came to A AND M, I BLEW IT.

An enjoyable solve nonetheless. Congrats, Wren, on a memorable debut

Masked and Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Well, for sure the theme gets high marks!
(Them CEDILLAs marked definite low spots, tho.)
Sign of a truly advanced civilization's lingo: They underline their U's.

Hey. How'bout them O's with the lines thru em? [Example: More og Romsdal, with a / thru the "o" in "More". (I'm norse makin this up!)]

@indie009: "Easy"? Nope. I hate to be diacritical of anyone's ratings system, but this here WedPuz was hard, for the M&A. Bullets for the M&A-Brain defense:

* CEDILLA and CIRCUMFLEX. U coulda told M&A that these were Viagra competitors, and he'da bought it. Well … not "go to the drugstore and buy it" bought it, but still …

* Krazy Kross-references. This always costs M&A møre than a few precious nanoseconds. Have enough trouble, trying to read them real itty-bitty crossword grid numbers, as is.

* ASGARD. Hopeless: Can just never remember this puppy. Knew it had somethin to do with diapers, tho. Got er from crosses, so … ok.

* BJORK/JANICE. M&A wishes to accent this crossin with a WTF-mark. Ditto, for CURACAO/GARCON. The WTF-mark could look sorta like this here: #@%?!

Enough with firin off the bullets, cuz overalls, I thought this was a primo 3-F puz. [Feisty. Funky. Fun. (What were y'all thinkin I meant?) ]
And a debut, tu buut! [Add accents to previous phrase, to taste.]
And 007 U's! And an ampersandwich! thUmbsUp.

fave moment of desperation: CMIX. Man, M&A just troweled in about 150 lbs. of that stuff, patchin holes in the back patio to cfix up the hail damage. Knees hurt; so I get an excuse, for my slo solvequest time today.

fave weeject: First, wow. 26 of the lil darlins to choose from. Gotta give the nod to ANO -- which was honored by participatin in a themer role, today.

Thanx and congratz, Mr. Schultz.

Masked & Anonym007Us

De butt:

Mohair Sam 12:02 PM  

@chefbea - Yes, did see your sadly "tossed" salad story the other day and loved it - you're lucky the perp didn't have a blender to help you with the antipasto.

@Sheryl - yeah, SABU/FAROE a tough cross - but Rex is right, although we haven't seen SABU much in the NYT lately, it is standard old 'ese.

Kimberly 12:05 PM  

Roman numerals are just an excuse to have random, jumbled letters in a crossword. When it's as vague as "some early year, ya know, a long time ago" it's just pure laziness. I hate seeing them in puzzles, especially because I can never remember them. They only ever come up in crosswords, and I don't remember my Ls from my Ds and my Ms (especially since the only time I studied them was one week in fourth grade 40 years ago). So mostly I hate them because they make me feel stupid.

Tita 12:19 PM  

@anon @ 11:41...thanks so much for that link...

Re: the dieresis...i always thought it was a good idea...gave the word a little bit of swagger...a touch of class. Not to mention clarity.

Hey...maybe we could take a page from that book and adopt the circumflex to indicate the no-longer-used umlaut...

And they do sometimes help... It bugs me to no end that my tech background forces me to read "coax" as "co-ax", short for coaxial cable, no matter the contact. Wouldn't coäx be coöler?

Martel Moopsbane 12:29 PM  

@Lobster 11, would the CEDILLA/ILO/DRED crosses be fair on a Wednesday?

And ou est l'accent aigu in the clue for 52A?

Lewis 12:33 PM  

@anonymous 8:31 -- Point well made and well taken. Thank you!

Ω 12:43 PM  

It is MAÎTRE D'hôtel, which always make the Americanization "MAÎTRE D', seem a little odd to me. It's like saying "Loren is the host of." Awkward.

@anon8:31 - @Lewis didn't actually say anything about Cruz. His comment was about how others spoke about Cruz. And, seriously, on the list of reasons to not like the guy, not knowing something about sports is #1,432,576,098.

@ultramet - Oxford says CEDILLA comes to English from Spanish.

@Great Falls - Can you explain again? Oh, Right. GOTCHA.

Joe Bleaux 1:28 PM  

Hand up on that! Gotcha means "I got (caught) YOU!" Only in puzzles -- a couple of them recently -- has it come to be synonymous with "I get (understand) IT." Glad I ain't the only one bugged by this.

xyz 1:47 PM  

Crosswordese? ¿What Crosswordese? Yeah it brought this puzzle grade down half a point, but I loved the idea. Overall the puzzle was very easy, all the goofy words were easier to easy with crosses.

More like this would be a good thing.

Lobster11 2:34 PM  

@Z - Yeah, I'm not proud of not having been able to come up with DRED. But you'll be glad to know that after looking it up, I gave myself a good dope-slap on behalf of my 8th-grade teacher. (I'm still grumpy about the grid being "choked with crosswordese," however.)

Passing Shot 3:25 PM  

Enjoyed this, though it was a bit easy for Wednesday. I'm new to puzzles and don't speed-solve but this was half my average Wednesday time. MARMOT was close to last; I happened to look at my rain jacket label and made the connection. Thought it was someone's name, had no idea it was an animal. The things you learn...

puzzle hoarder 3:49 PM  

This puzzle would have been easy for a Monday. We just had BJORK last Friday. ASGARD was challenging for me when it showed up 7 weeks ago but not today. SABU was an entry in an old puzzle I did last night. I wasn't aware of how ese SABU is. This may be due to the over three years absence it's had since it's
last appearance.
As for the ese I don't complain about it as it's annoyance in easy puzzles is usually in inverse proportion to my gratitude for what little I can find of it in the hard ones.

Dick Swart 4:10 PM  

I was stationed in Schwäbisch Gmünd for two years ('57 - '59). Talk about Umlaut City'

The English version seems to be Schwaebisch Gmuend. This was too long a version to write down. Written name was usually Schwabisch Gmund. And close enough for any one seeing the letters or hearing the mispronunciation.

Our former Kaserne, The Bismark was built in 1937 as a modern complex for trained battalions. It was not dubbed the "Bismark" Kaserne. Can you guess what popular leader's name night have adorned the entrance sign? Right! (Names beginning with "T" and ending with "P' are close seconds).

It no longer contains our tracked 8" howitzers and mobile rockets (atomic, if the need arose)). It became a demonstration sight for German Greens, Univ of MD Extension, and now a school and festival site for events including a Festival of Medievil Church Music.

Yes, please excuse me. I know this point-out on umlauts has become a trollish fantaszie. This is what happens when you get old but can still type.

Anonymous 4:42 PM  

@GFRCPB&J - In addition to "caught you!" gotcha can mean "I understand."

chefwen 4:51 PM  

@jberg - thanks for the BLEWIT mushroom info, I hadn't heard of them. I'll take a pass on the jellied soup, but the other recipies sound delicious. I'd have to use a substitute or grow my own.
(Still think it sounds like a songbird)

Sue in France 5:02 PM  

Diacritical marks in puzzles have been the subject of many a comment on this blog so I thought I’d chime in about how they work here in France. It’s quite simple, diacritical marks are ignored. Here are a couple of examples from a puzzle I just looked at. “Fané” and “être” cross on the final “e” of each word. “Reçu” and “chaire” cross on the “c”. “Active” and” île”cross on the “i”. This is no more a problem than the fact that an apostrophe is missing in “AESOPS” in today’s grid. It’s a convention.

According to the Wikipedia article entitled “Crossword” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossword ) in the section on orthography, each language has its own conventions. German, for example, doesn’t really use umlauts in puzzles, but rather the vowel follwed by an e. The article states that Spanish, like French, ignores diacritics, except for the tilde.

Does anyone have any practical experience with Spanish language crossword puzzles so we can know for sure that Wiki is right and that ñ and n are always distinguished in them? (Crosswords made for students of Spanish don’t count!)

Alton 11:03 PM  

Hüsker Dü! One of the best shows in my undergrad days in the Social Room. Finished the puzzle with no difficulty. Like someone else said this was easy for a Monday.

Aketi 12:04 AM  

@M AND A, if your abbreviated alias was crossed with A AND M it might have provided an opportunity to include ampersand as an answer to potentially add to your list of potential WTF marks, SORTA impressed that it can ampers& part of itself.

I appreciated your interpretation of the meaning of ASGARD far more than the INFANCY PANTS in a former puzzle. It also covers both an END and an ANO in the puzzle.

Anonymous 12:05 AM  

@jberg AandM usually is Agriculture and Mechanics but some schools out West its Mining (New Mexico). The common nickname of course is Aggies as in Texas (A&M) Aggies and New Mexico State Aggies.

Many land grant schools were A&Ms that later changed to State as in Oklahoma A&M => Oklahoma State and New Mexico A&M = New Mexico State. Purdue University is the only land grant school named for a person. Otherwise it might have been Indiana A&M. In some states an existing school got the land grant charter, such as University of Illinois.

Snag 1:13 AM  

Cirsusflea seemed possible for cirumflex to me.

Snag 1:14 AM  

Cirsusflea seemed possible for cirumflex to me.

Tita 8:04 AM  

@Sue in France...I can speak for Portuguese puzzles...diacritics count. in all 1 of the xword books I have owned.

Jane B 10:57 AM  

I had 'circonflex', the English circumflex never crossing my mind, (strong French teaching) and that stumped a and m and rerun. But what's USAIN?
Agree with all that this was fun and liked the theme.

kitshef 12:28 PM  

@Jane B - USAIN Bolt is the two-time and current Olympic champion in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4x100 relay, and the world record holder in all three events - the 'fastest man on earth'.

Ω 2:40 PM  

@Lobster11 - Well, as long as you gave yourself a good strong one. ¡Har!

Burma Shave 10:27 AM  


ALLTHEBEST with no clothes, she SAID,”AH” and BLEWIT.


spacecraft 10:59 AM  

I think my tolerance level is shrinking. (Wish it could trade places with my belly!) The north was so painful to fill out...the RRN not bad enough, but forcing the horrid XED; but then when I got to the Aggie clue and realized it had to be A&M (no, I will NOT type out the conjunction!), I was a straw's weight away from tossing--along with my breakfast--it in.

The straw was my bad eyesight. The print is so small I sometimes can't make out the numbers in the grid. I saw the "_De la Cite" clue and knew it was ILE, but in my confusion I thought it belonged at 25-across. But there is no MARMet, it's MARMOT. I never double-checked that there could be a SECOND IL_ entry so close by. What are the odds? So I just quit there. A second DNF in a row--and it isn't even Thursday yet! All I can say is, PLEASE get rid of all the crappy fill!

rondo 12:40 PM  

Again, to be accurate, it is not an UMLAUT (used to change the pronunciation of a common vowel in German) nor is it a diaeresis used for emphasis when used in her name BJÖRK. In the Icelandic and Swedish alphabets Ö is a distinct vowel; in German it is not, it is a modified O with an UMLAUT. Swedish has three extra distinct vowels in Å, Ä, and Ö, so a 29 letter alphabet. German has the same 26 letters as English. Metal bands use the UMLAUT over any vowel they see fit, and sometimes Y. Actually, as clued in this puz, as long as foreign words are being used, the correct answer for ASGARD could/should have been ÅSGARD or ÅSGÅRD, depending on which Norse language you want to use, but then how would you cross that? Only in the Swedish korsord puzzles I’ve done. Or by using the TV show Stårgåte (ever notice that?).

I actually though it was cool that the Ö was crossed correctly and didn’t expect to see others until seeing more clues. Very cool idea save for the above mentioned ÅSGÅRD issue.

So we have crossing yeah babies in JANICE Dickinson and BJÖRK today; the “first” supermodel and the singer who has been known to lose her tutu. I guess Erik ESTRADA, his teeth, and his motorcycle cop outfit made him a yeah baby for the ladies back in the CHIPs days; cue disco music.

Then there was the RRN, the RD, and the ampersandwich. Those are sure to increase @spacey’s golf score.

I was hoping to see a “TEED off” answer today to complete the trifecta from the MN Xword tourney cohort. It’ll happen sooner or later. But still SORTA fun with the diacritical stuff.

leftcoastTAM 12:55 PM  

Very easy Wednesday--EXCEPT for the ASGARD/ACU/USAIN/CIRCUMFLEX/SISENOR cluster. SISENOR was key to sussing out the others, fortunately.

Then, carelessly stayed with AANDe (engineering)instead of going for the familiar AANDM, resulting in a dnf with CIRCUeFLEX instead of the very gettable CIRCUMFLEX.

Fault myself first, but the confusing clue for AANDM second, because AANDM does not "informally" refer to the Aggies; it is a more complete and formal completion of the name of the university.


Sailor 1:17 PM  

Loved this puzzle, AND the comments it generated. One of the most entertaining mornings since I've been coming 'round here.

bananafish 1:36 PM  

When someone informs/corrects you regarding something ("we here at the New Yorker use diacriticals - as a new writer here, you will have to get used to adding them"), you can reply with either "Gotcha" or "I see", both of which in that context mean "I understand and will comply". So there is absolutely nothing wrong with one being clued for the other.

I also want to make the case for use of roman numerals. I actually enjoy their use in crosswords. When you know a roman numeral has been used, you have narrowed down from 26 possible letters to 7 possible letters (I, V, X, L, D, C and M). This is a tremendous help in most cases and can add tremendously to the detective work part of solving a crossword - you know, the "puzzle" part of "crossword puzzle". (Too many here seem to be fans of words and not fans of, well, puzzling.)

rain forest 2:16 PM  

I like it when a constructor tries for something new, inventive, different, and sometimes educational. I knew all the diacritical mark terms, but it was still fun to find them at the crosses of two words. I don't know how to include them in my typing, so I won't even try here. Just fun to see how they were presented.

This was a fine example of and easy puzzle that was fun, and like others, I didn't notice the -ease. Rarely do anyway. Alas, as with all theme puzzles, once done, never to be seen again lest @Rex go all TRex on it.

Diana,LIW 3:04 PM  

The last letter I put in the grid, the "a" at the end of ASGARa, gave me my dnf at this Natick. Now I see - Texas A and M. Like our old friend Channel "A and E."

Very clever "nyah nyah" at a common crossword complaint.

Anyway... "Don't just sit there, eat!" could be a good motto.

Haven't read all the comments yet - did anyone mention that "GARCON!" can be considered rude? Monsieur or Madame is what I've always heard in France.

Good Wednesday, all.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 6:03 PM  

@bananafish: I'm fully with you on the roman numerals issue. You make a very good case for those of us who like to puzzle them out.

Wooody2004 6:05 PM  

"Welcome To The Jungle" would be a good title for the next MAD AXE sequel.

Didn't like ESTRADA crossing RERUN. That show hasn't been on in eons. Erik ESTRADA was on my flight the other day. I said "Hey, you're the guy from "CHIPS." He said, "Yes. Would you like another drink before we land?"

Teedmn 10:41 PM  

@rondo, thanks for the discussion of Scandinavian vowels vs. the umlaut. Kevin Brixius, the late, great leader of the band I was in, wrote a song and submitted it to some group that was soliciting songs to celebrate the opening of the Blue light rail line back in the day in Mpls. He wrote one called Two Vikings which they accepted. I had suggested that in the chorus, the drummer and I should be singing "Å, Ä, Ö" behind him (even though the two Vikings in question came from Norway - just a little Swedish joke there). So we did.

Diana,LIW 9:30 AM  

@Spacey - My tolerance level is becoming more critical as well. However, thee might calm down. Try this: breathe in - think happy thoughts - breath out - let go of crappy thoughts. Repeat as needed. Then, do a trick I've learned. Do some really crappy puzzles. When I get the Monterey Herald, there are two, small, crosswordese-filled puzzles every day. The NYTP will once again shine as a beacon of hope and reason and zest. (Altho I also retched at XED. Life has small speed bumps.)

@Rondo - Another lesson from the language-fluent - thanks. Was hoping for Ste. Theresa. Teed me off that she didn't show. (Breathe in, breathe out.)

@BS Saw that one coming. (Get it?)

I now see that @Crabsofsteel agreed with my Garcon note.

Per @Kimberly's comment - at least with RRNs we have 7 letters to remember, but the Greek alphabet? At least nine, right? Teedmn? Anyone?

@Spacey - my old eyes do tricks on me every day. I've learned to check "Was that 38 across or 58 across?" and check that I've read the words correctly. lotsa humorous changes ensue

@Woody - Erik E was in today's paper's "people" column. Apparently, he's joining the law enforcement folks round abouts to help teach kids how to be safe on the internet. Good for him.



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