1998 De Niro crime thriller / TUE 9-10-13 / Former Israeli P.M. Ehud / Some B&N wares / Major swag / Nutrient-rich cabbages / Root used in energy drinks / Sleuth in slang / Villain in 2009 Star Trek film

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: CHINESE (71A: Language that's the source of the words answered by this puzzle's starred clues) — the phrasing is pretty convoluted, but you get the idea

Word of the Day: ELKO (47A: City in Nevada) —

Elko (ShoshoniNatakkoa, 'Rocks Piled on One Another' is a city in Elko CountyNevadaUnited States. The population was 18,297 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Elko County. The city straddles the Humboldt River.
Elko is the principal city of the Elko Micropolitan Statistical Area, a micropolitan area that covers Elko and Eureka counties and had a combined population of 46,942 at the 2000 census. It is the largest city for over 130 miles (210 km) in all directions, making it, as its city motto states, "The Heart of Northeast Nevada".
It is home to Great Basin College, as well as to the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office serving most of northern and central Nevada. (wikipedia)
• • •

The most exciting thing about this puzzle so far is that I learned the word "micropolitan" while looking up ELKO. Cool word. This puzzle offers up some slightly interesting trivia. I'm not at all surprised to learn that GINSENG comes from CHINESE. There's very little element of surprise or revelation here, except for KETCHUP—I had no idea KETCHUP came from CHINESE. Slightly weird to see Korean HYUNDAI right there alongside (and longer than) the CHINESE theme answers, but not a big deal. My favorite part of this puzzle is likely completely coincidental: STEAMED / ARTICHOKE. That's a nice, delicious crossing right there. Central and symmetrical and tasty. The fill is weak in places, but not much worse than average, I'd say. Much of the weakness was likely related to theme density.

Theme answers:
  • 1A: *Relative of an orange (KUMQUAT)
  • 8A: *Tropical storm (TYPHOON)
  • 23A: *Lingerie material (SILK)
  • 37A: *Act deferentially (KOWTOW)
  • 43A: *Like an eager beaver (GUNG HO)
  • 52A: *Food, slangily (CHOW)
  • 70A: *Root used in some energy drinks (GINSENG)
I thought this was *much* harder than it ended up being. My first pass at the NW yielded almost nothing. Had KALES and wasn't even sure about that. Yipes. Corners felt somewhat big and open for a Tuesday, so I had a feeling of flailing around a bit more than I normally do on a Tuesday. But then I finished at the clock said 3:14, which is actually faster than last week. My bearings were likely thrown off by my having been solving puzzles out of Patrick Blindauer's new book, "Wide Screen Crosswords," just before solving this one. I was using the Downs-only method—tough. So I figured Tuesday NYT using Acrosses *&* Downs would be a breeze. So then I overestimated how much I was struggling. I swear this all somehow makes sense.


QID was painful, but again, I'll write it off to the theme density in that corner (4D: Four times a day, in an Rx). Wrote in RENO for ELKO (no surprise there). Wanted something like "OK, OK!" at 61D: "I know! I know!" ("OH OH!") —I think I was putting the stress on the wrong (i.e. latter) word in "I know!" Knowing NERO (14D: Villain in the 2009 "Star Trek" film) and RONIN (51D: 1998 De Niro crime thriller) and having recently been thinking, against my will, about "We Built This City" by Starship (which has a reference to MARCONI) (64A: Radio pioneer), helped me zip through this relatively unobstructed.  All hail disposable pop culture and the wondrous bounty it provideth.

See you Wednesday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

75 comments:

August West 12:18 AM  

Some "theme." Prevailing reaction: Okay? So what? "Theme" answers easily entered from their clues, without any help from the reveal. The negative impact on the fill to accommodate those eight words hardly seems to have been worth it.

QID, ATWT, OONA (again), HMS, ONEG, AAA, EMAG, CDS, DCCC, OHOH...

This one should have been crumpled in a ball and circular filed in advance of a new idea.

Y'know, I'm just not going to say anything at all.

Artichoke Chatter Metals 12:20 AM  

Wow, I learned a lot thru this one, tho it seemed quite easy, tho same experience as Rex...
First pass nothing right away, only writeover Reno?ELKO.

And surprised that KETCHUP was Chinese. And concur weird that HYUNDAI, Korean, overshadowed the shorter CHinese words.

Soon as I saw the name of the constructor and the first two words I knew what the theme was and Zhouqin continues to dumbfound me.
Here is a gal who came to this country as an adult, learned English starting from a language that bore zero resemblance to her own and now makes NY Times crosswords with ease.
It's startling.
And there she is in Minneapolis, it's so incongruous. Plus you won't meet a sweeter, more friendly enthusiastic lovely gal.

Just so you don't think I'm just KOWTOWing, I'll RELAY that I HATED the clue for BOTTLE.
Of all the ways to clue BOTTLE, that has to be the worse.
And given the Times proclivity to not wanting disease in the daily crosswords, I'd say this borderline crossed that. Ick Ick Ick.

Loved seeing SWE in the puzzle, not bec I'm fond of that abbrev (I'm not!) but just spent a week or so in Stockholm, one of my favorite trips in my life.


Bleedover of STEAMED and from yesterday's LA Times puzzle EDASNER in full! (Plus a nod to Mpls via "The Mary Tyler Morre SHow")

Attn: Minneapolitans! WIll Shortz will be at the
U of M Sept 12th, tix still available and hang out with him afterward!

Overall, GUNGHO on this puzzle and even more so on Zhouqin whose facility with language and what she has overcome to create what she has done, totally humbles this YANK!

jae 12:22 AM  

This looked like it might be tough coming out of the printer, but it ended up medium for me too.

Erasure: urn for TUN.

Random observation: 5 answers ending in I

Late week clue for 44d...Eldest Bluth brother.

There is a bit of iffy fill...KALES, SWE, EMAG, QID, RRN...but it's mostly OK.  Interesting theme which did not help the solve, liked it and learned something.

John Child 12:38 AM  

I don't think that eight random words that originate from Chinese is a particularly interesting theme. How about admiral, borax, cotton, guitar, magazine, racquet, spinach and zenith (Arabic)?

I do think that the grid is pretty - I see a 9x9 box in the center.

"You're a marvel, that's wot you are," ses the 'TEC, shaking his 'ead. "Have one with me."
- 1909, W.W. Jacobs, Self-Help

August West 12:40 AM  

RRE - "Elko", PHI 1.28.05

Questinia 1:00 AM  

QID right off the bat but then proceeded mostly all in acrosses making this a faster Tuesday than usual.

KeRi before KURT. In the SE, CHATTER/COLUMNS with that funny OHOH caused the only hesitation (apart from BOTTLE) with a pass to the SW before finishing.

I agree with @ acme, however, as I wanted to interpret recourse as a positive thing, which it generally is. So either BOTTLE was clued with cynicism or relapse would have been the better, more accurate word. It made the heart of the puzzle a little sad since it is describing someone who feels they have no other recourse but pain. But I suppose that's the reality. I can certainly understand how this clue could alienate some people not expecting to be emotionally thrown by a crossword.

Otherwise, there is an elegance and range to Zhouquin Burnikel's constructions.

retired_chemist 2:14 AM  

Easy and enjoyable. The reveal is little to no help in solving but the fact that these words came from Chinese is interesting. KETCHUP particularly.

TANGELO before KUMQUAT. MONSOON before TYPHOON. ATE AWAY before ATE INTO. OK! OK! before OH! OH! And nobody yet has commented on the ugly RRN DCCC. I guess if it's defined clearly in the clue it isn't random. But still ugly....

Thanks, Zhouquin Burnikel.

jae 2:58 AM  

@r_c -- I refer you to my list of iffy fill...

John V 7:29 AM  

The whole of the North was much harder than the puzzle over all. Wanted ATEAWAY for 15A; KUMQUAT making only its second appearance in the puzzle.

Fun and different look for a Tuesday, I enjoyed it!

Glimmerglass 7:30 AM  

I didn't remember 4 times a day, but it had to begin with Q (Latin for four). That gave me KUMQUAT, and the rest was easy.

Milford 7:31 AM  

A little on the harder side for a Tuesday, somewhat due to the words, and somewhat to my inability to parse out EDAS___ for way too long, and the HAU?/E?KO cross making me have to run the alphabet

Thought with KUMQUAT that our mystery language might be Arabic. KETCHUP was interesting to learn it's Chinese word origins.

Looked up the rest of the theme words as well, and am a little surprised to see that the word origins of TYPHOON and SILK are perhaps not rooted so much in Chinese. And even though I'm sure @Rex may have put the CHOW dog pic up as a joke, it looks like the dog name and the food origin may be similar...ew.

Speaking of CHOW, that STEAMED ARTICHOKE in the center was indeed lovely. Now we just need our dish of melted butter. Mmmm.

I remember "We Built This City" being voted worse song in the history of rock-n-roll. If I get it as an earworm now I'm going to blame @Rex.

Going to be hot one today.

jberg 7:49 AM  

ARTICHOKE is right at the heart of the puzzle, too, neatly echoing its clue.

cYclOne before TYPHOON, ATE away before INTO, STEwing before STEAMED -- otherwise it all went right in, despite the obscurity (for a Tuesday) of the clues for NERO and RONIN, the horrible plural of KALES, and the strangely singular GOB (better clued as a sailor).

I'm with @ACME on the bottle - an alcoholic's recourse would be AA, I hope!

I don't know any of them, but aren't there several CHINESE languages? I would have guessed that these were mostly Cantonese, but actually I have no idea.

schmuzz 7:58 AM  

RRN?

Z 8:07 AM  

Ah, Tuesday, the red-headed step-child of the puzzle week. I liked the puzzle fine. KUMQUAT in and of itself is just a fun word. It is almost Suessian in its splendor. It more than makes up for the vileness of DCCC (note: all Roman numerals are inherently random in crossworld - any semblance of order is given after the fact by the cluer).

Two writeovers, ATE away and THEsES. I didn't get STEAMED about it, just a little puzzled as I looked at -TEAsED and thought my error was somehow in the (now correct) ATE INTO region.

Heat Alert in Metro Detroit, Miggy got tossed two pitches into his first at bat last night, and Rex is planting ear worms. At least the puzzle was fun this morning.

Z 8:12 AM  

@schmuzz - RRN = Random Roman Numeral, an escape hatch for constructors, often used in conjunction with random Pope Leo's, King Olaf/vs or Ottos, or just random year as today. Also guaranteed to get a demerit from me whenever employed.

Evan 8:26 AM  

Marconi plays the mamba,
Listen to the radio.
Don't you remember?
We built this city.....


That's how I remembered that answer too. Per @Milford, I had no idea it was such a despised song (yet I do know almost all of the lyrics). And I'm sure like a lot of other solvers, I had no idea that words like KETCHUP and TYPHOON and SILK had Chinese roots. Amy writes on her site that SILK is a little iffier, though the Free Dictionary says that it comes from the Chinese word ssǔ, so, cool. Learned something new either way.

Carola 8:52 AM  

The puzzle could serve as Exhibit A for why I'm always happy to see Ms. Burnikel's name at the top - interesting and witty. The THEME appealed to me - fun to be reminded at how "good" English is at absorbing words from other languages - not only for things, like KUMQUAT but also for feelings - GUNGHO - or behavior - KOWTOW.

Liked MARCONI next to CHATTER over the radio waves. Not sure how the constructor really feels about that STEAMED ARTICHOKE, as it crosses BOREDOM at the bottom :)

toko sepatu grosir 9:11 AM  

it's right? -_-

joho 9:13 AM  

How can you not love a puzzle that starts off with KUMQUAT?!

Wonderful theme density as well as educational. KETCHUP? I was thinking KETCH is a Chinese ship that's not right. Isn't that a junk?

Lately I've been fixing unwanted plurals just to see if I can. Today I changed the NW to KASEM/MILK.

All in all a fine Tuesday puzzle, thank you Zhouqin! I, too, am amazed at your mastery of English!

(Is DCCC a shout out to you?)

FearlessKim 9:25 AM  

Sorry, Rex, but I enjoyed this so much! Any puzzle that starts off with KUMQUAT and TYPHOON -- KUMQUAT, people! -- starts my day off right. Lovely words, of Chinese origin or not, including several with odd letter strings: mq, yph, qi, hy, mn. In fact, the whole puzzle seems consonant-heavy, in a very good way. Any of our puzzle statisticians out there?

Nice to see Mali again, after Matt Gaffney's recent landlocked country puzzle.

And yes to four corners of stacked 7's and that long central axis: ARTICHOKE is one of my favorite forms of CHOW. Reminds me of the time we decided to do a comparo of artichoke accompaniments. A table full of steamed artichokes, and bowls of melted butter, bearnaise sauce, and homemade mayonnaise. The winner? The homemade mayonnaise. Try it sometime, and you'll understand why mayo is the ubiquitous condiment that it is.

Thanks, Zhouqin!

Lewis 9:27 AM  

More grid gruel than I'd like -- AAA, EMAG, QID, KSU, UNOS, ATWT, DCCC, OHOH, TEC, TUN, UNA, SWE. Some are giving this a pass, due to "theme density", but it still felt like too much to me.

I liked seeing MARCONI, HITME, and I like how GUNGHO looks. Despite the gruel, I enjoyed the solve.

chefbea 9:52 AM  

What a yummy puzzle....what with all the chow!!! And a bottle of booze to chug down. Loved steamed artichokes with home-made hollandaise sauce. Puzzle husband always puts ginseng in his tea.

Evan 9:53 AM  

@joho:

Unless MILK comes from Chinese origins, you can't change SILK. But as a general exercise, yes, I agree that MILK/SET DOWN/KASEM would be better than SILK/LETDOWN/KALES.

DBGeezer 9:56 AM  

English gets many words from our foreign brothers and sisters. E.g.: Assassin and pajama from Hindi.

DBGeezer 9:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
joho 9:59 AM  

@Evan, of course! The "S" in SILK cannot be removed!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:09 AM  

Just one think-over (That's when I hesitate long enough that I don't actually enter a wrong letter.): With the Y from YODEL at 9 D, thought 8 A had to be CYCLONE, took a while to get to TYPHOON (as previously noted by @jberg.)

r.alphbunker 10:16 AM  

A recent wordsmith week featured Japanese words that have made their way into English. Tycoon was one of them (http://wordsmith.org/words/tycoon.html). The etymology was "From Japanese taikun (great lord or prince), from Chinese ta (great) + kiun (prince).

And I just received word from Barnes and Noble that Sue Grafton's new novel "W is for Wasted" has been published. This means that WIS doesn't have to be a state abbreviation anymore!

lawprof 10:53 AM  

In our early years together, Anne and I lived just down the road from Castroville, CA, the "Artichoke Capital of the World." To this day, 45 years later, the only thing we fight about is whether you use your top teeth or bottom teeth to scrape the meat off the leaf.

Steve J 10:58 AM  

How can someone not love a puzzle that starts with KUMQUAT? When it's crossed with QID. (That was a completely new one to me; then again, I've never had a prescription that requires for doses per day.)

I had an abnormally high number of writeovers on this one, which made it tougher than a typical Tuesday for me: TONE > TUNE, ATEAWAY > ATEINTO, LACE > SILK, RENO > ELKO, TUB > TUN.

Somewhere, I once knew that KETCHUP originated from Chinese. I'd lost that bit of trivia until this puzzle.

Can we pass a UN resolution or something to ban all e-anything (other than email, the only word that made it into regular usage) from crosswords? That and the other grid gruel - plus a theme that provided some interesting trivia but no wordplay - made this one kind of meh for me. (There was some good fill, thoguh, to balance out the gruel: ARTICHOKE, KOWTOW, TYPHOON - actually, many of the theme answers were good fill in isolation - YODEL, MARCONI.)

loren muse smith 10:58 AM  

Of course I gobbled this one up – language, language, language. And not just Chinese – Latin, French, Spanish, Arabic (Egyptian). . . And MALI, BALI. It's a UN of a puzzle: GUNG HO, TUN, HYUNDAI, UNOS

I've said it here before – GINSENG is the only "English" word that ends in ENG.

Rex – excellent catch on the STEAMED ARTICHOKE cross.

I had one square blank before I had to leave to take my husband to the airport. Because I had "bean" for BRAN, I was grumpy about the "Mae _oni"/_DS cross since I don't know "B&N." Oh well.

I had a family KOWTOW to me in Japan. It's extremely uncomfortable – like how you feel when someone is giving you a toast and you have to act all humble – times DCCC.

"I know! I know!".

Thanks, Zhouqin!

I Love a Gershwin Tune 11:06 AM  

I have never heard of "We Built This City" (and from what I've
read about it today, I have no desire to change that), but when
I hear about Marconi, the song I think of is the Gershwins''
"Who's Got the Last Laugh Now":

They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the
world was round
They all laughed when Edison recorded sound
They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother when they said that
man could fly
They told Marconi wireless was a phony, it's the same old cry
They laughed at me wanting you, said I was reaching for the
moon
But oh, you came through, now they'll have to change their
tune
They all said we never could be happy, they laughed at us and
how!
But ho, ho, ho! Who's got the last laugh now?

mathguy 11:24 AM  

Eleven gimmes for me, but still had some challenging parts. Happy to learn QID. Thought that "I know! I know!" was a bad clue for OHOH until Rex reminded me of the third-grader jumping out of his seat with his hand up

Melodious Funk 11:39 AM  

@ILoveAGershwinTune, what a wonderful song that was. I read and hear it simultaneously, kinesthetic for an old musician.

Those mis 20th century lyricists and songwriters were indeed brilliant. Think of Yip Harburg, Johnny Mercer. Harold Arlen. How about this one? (Ear worm alert!)

You gotta accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative an' latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In Between

You gotta spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
An' have faith, amen, or pandemonium's
Liable to walk upon the scene, amen

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the arc
An' what did they do, what did they do?
Just when everything looked so dark?
What did they, what did they, what did they do?

Man, they said, "You better accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative an' latch on
To the affirmative, don't mess with Mister In Between
No, don't you mess with Mister In Between"

To illustrate his last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the arc
An' what did they do, what did they do?
Just when everything looked so dark?
What did they do, what did they do?

Man, they said, "You better accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative an' latch on
To the affirmative, don't mess with Mister In Between
No, don't mess with Mister In Between
No, don't you mess with Mister In Between
No, don't mess with Mister In Between"

Songwriters
Mercer John H; Arlen Harold

jae 11:52 AM  

@lms -- Pretty sure you do know Barnes and Noble.

chefbea 12:07 PM  

Love all those Gershwin songs!!! Thanks

Ray J 12:13 PM  

A high-fiber puzzle (OATS & BRAN) that left me hungry for something to pair with KETCHUP. Meatloaf might do the trick. While skiing in Switzerland several years ago I stopped at a mountainside cafeteria for a burger and fries and was surprised that ketchup packets were extra. Something like 5₵ apiece I think so no big deal. I guess I take ketchup for granted (Diner freebie, maybe?)

Thanks for the lesson, Ms. Burnikel. I enjoyed it.

mac 12:43 PM  

Good puzzle, dense theme, with just a couple of sticky areas. I like learning little facts like this.

No ketchup on the steamed artichoke! I make a dense vinaigrette with fresh herbs, capers and shallots, the remnants of which go on the best part, the bottom.

I think I use my bottom teeth to scrape the meat off the leaf!

acme 12:54 PM  

Just checked... the original clue for BOTTLE was "Antiques Roadshow object". Perhaps a little obscure for BOTTLE, but the replacement was not a step up!
If I were in Mpls Thurs with the rest of the gang, I'd hit Will over the head with one of those fake breakaway bottles!

But as Johnny Mercer and Howard Arlen apparently wrote, "Ya gotta accentuate the positive..."
and with
KUMQUAT, TYPHOON, MALI, ARTICHOKE, KOWTOW, GINSENG, KETCHUP there was plenty of that to spread around!

@lms
ENGlish GinsENG
gotta be some puzzle in that... GinsENGlish?

Masked and Anonymo6Us 1:06 PM  

This little gal constructs some mighty fine puzs. Love the 7-stacks on a Tuesday. Got yer KUMQUAT, flyin right outta the chute. Really gets yer rodeo off to a primo start. Puts some lipstick on the brahma bull.

fave weeject: QID. Sorta like a cross between QED and just kiddin. Useful. Must try to squirrel that tasty acorn away somewheres, where I can dig it up again.

fave fillins: KUMQUAT. KETCHUP. KOWTOW. Way to go, Chinese wordsmithies. Also kinda like how HYUNDAI gets to sneak into the puppy litter, and mix up the breedin a little. Luv, luv luv: DCCC. Looks like a DC-3 in a tailspin, huh, Evil Duck? har.

@joho... After gruelin hours of blood sweat and tears, all I can shoehorn into my Smelly Puz magnum opus is five U's. P.U. May have to discard.

M&A

Sandy K 1:17 PM  

Liked the THEME. Grid was big on Ks- KUMQUAT/KALES, KOWTOW/KURT, KETCHUP/ANKH, SILK/KSU, YANK/ELKO, BARAK/ARTICHOKE.

Thought Alcoholic's recourse would be 'rehab' but BOTTLE was a sad fit...

@Acme- always enjoy all your insights- esp info about out constructor! And a few days ago, the Jeopardy YMCA and Yereven? answers...they boned up on their capitals!

@lms- you're right- truly a UN of a puz! And love figuring out your pics- today I thought "Why does Loren have a picture of kids playing Twister? Then it HIT ME- KOWTOW! Good one!

r.alphbunker 1:20 PM  

My wife and I are going to attend Will Shortz's lecture in Iowa City tomorrow. I bought a pair of tickets for some friends of ours as a gift so that they could attend also. However something came up and our friends are not able to attend and the theater does not refund tickets.

So, If anybody reading this lives near Iowa City and wants to attend, please email me at rbunker (at) lisco.com to arrange how we can do the ticket transfer.

Mysterioso 1:23 PM  

Oh, my, big bleedover/giveaway in a comment above.

Not allowed to say which comment; not allowed to say bleeding over from what!

For those in the know: Gives me a chill!

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

@August West - "Y'know, I'm just not going to say anything at all."

And yet you post twice.

ahimsa 1:35 PM  

Cute puzzle! I have a friend who has been studying Mandarin for years (just as a hobby) so many of the theme words were not a surprise. Except for SILK! I had no idea that was from Chinese but it makes sense.

As someone said above, why not other languages? I know lots of English words that come from Hindi. I'm sure folks here know many of them but one that surprises a lot of people is shampoo. But I guess the tough part is coming up with enough interesting words of matching length.

Others have already mentioned it but my favorite part was the ARTICHOKE running through the "heart" of the puzzle.

Kudos to Zhouqin Burnikel!

Bird 1:40 PM  

A decent puzzle with plenty of theme answers. I too liked STEAMED crossing ARTICHOKE and preferred OK OK over OH OH. Couldn’t believe KETCHUP has it’s roots in China.

LaneB 1:52 PM  

47MNW corner too tough at D4 ,5 and. 6 . Did not know QID, ATWT at all and had UNaS making LETDOWN a mystery

At D8 I put THEsES rather than THEMES which fouled up STEAMED. Had to register a DNF on a Tuesday fer chrissakes!

P.S. Hated OHOH as an answer for " I know! I know!"

acme 1:58 PM  

@LaneB
If you were in the right demographic for "Welcome Back, Kotter" there was a character named Arnold Horschack who always waved his hands saying "OH OH" for "Pick me Pick me! I know I know" as someone up above mentioned like a third grader...
That might make you like it more, or hate it less...

LaneB 2:04 PM  

@ Carola. Glad to find another acrostic fan on the blog. My Sundays are full what with the acrostic and the 21 X21 puzzl e. Too bad the former is only every other week. Nice of you to share your comment

Arnold Horshack 2:06 PM  

Actually, I used to say, "Ooh-ooh-ooooh!" because I was trying to imitate Joe E. Ross's phrase from Car 54, Where Are You?.

ahimsa 2:17 PM  

I forgot to add one minor quibble about the clue for 2 Down ("Organs men don't have").

I know that it's only a small percentage of them but not all men are lacking UTERI. Some transgender men have them.

No complaint meant against the puzzle author or editor. I realize that most non-trans (cisgender) folks don't ever think about these things. I just didn't want to ignore any trans folks out there who might be reading this.

sanfranman59 2:40 PM  

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

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

Tue 8:14, 8:14, 1.00, 52%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:19, 5:01, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging

BigSteveSF 3:17 PM  

strangeness ^3 (cubed)

Reading a lot about Oona lately. Apparently she broke JD Salinger's heart. He later went for Joyce Maynard, Oona for Charlie Chaplin. She may have dated some other people in between.

At Labor Day BBQ, someone recited the joke (I'd heard before):
Lady hires a hit man to kill husband who works at a grocery store.
The hit man's name is Arthur. He says he'll strangle him in the produce section, where the husband works. But since he hates the guy also he'll only charge a dollar. Two others get in the way.
He has to take them out also. Headline in the newpaper the next day "Artie chokes Three For a Dollar". My wife says this everytime we enjoy artichokes.

BTW, true story. One of my sister's collegue's wife was arrested for putting out a hit on him. She offered to pay in rare stamps. Look it up.

And this morning I went to watch them put in America's Cup boat. Really neat to see them put on wing (not a sail!). The Prada boat was putting packed up for shipment. They lost to Kiwis.

I rival ACMe for connections to a crossword.

Steve J 3:38 PM  

A couple people asked why not include other languages. Of necessity, you have to put a pretty small box around a theme like this, since English grabs words from so many languages. I'm reminded of one of my favorite linguistic quotes: "We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."

acme 3:53 PM  

As all sorts of body parts raced thru my head before settling on UTERI (took me a while as it had been banned in one of my Monday puzzles...and this corner today was blank, so I had to get from the bottom up, so to speak)
it reminded me of the joke about the little girl who comes home from kindergarten crying bec the boys had teased her about not having what they had.

Next day she returns to school laughing and when the boys try to make her cry again, she said, "My mom said with what I have, I can get as many of those as I want!

(No artichokes were hurt in the retelling of this story)

quilter1 4:04 PM  

Wow, I'm having trouble getting to the puzzle this week. Couldn't even look at it until 2 p.m. It seemed easy, yet a little crunchy. I had TUb before TUN which made CHINESE kind of invisible till I got more crosses. I know KALE, but think of it more as big leafy greens than cabbage. KUMQUAT is fun to write.

jackj 4:16 PM  

In the matter of whether one scrapes the meat from an ARTICHOKE with the uppers or the lowers, I am happily "ambiscrapeous".

I am always amazed at the intelligence and cleverness of C.C."s puzzles and this one intensifies my appreciation of her work.

Thank you, C.C.

LaneB 4:37 PM  

@ acme
Thanks for the explanation of OHOH. Actually, I'm in the right demographic for MARCONI.

LaneB

Peter Simpson 7:00 PM  

Daring for me, as someone with the given name Peter, to question the Chinese bona fides of someone named Zhouqin, but....

I loved the puzzle, but to call the unifying theme a "language" when it traveled across a whole bunch of dialects and pigeons just seems somewhat off and a little like trying to pass off Chinese food sold in pre-1975 restaurants in America as Chinese food.

Most of the words are familiar to Americans from Cantonese, some like silk, traveled a long way (along the Silk Road and through Mongolian)to get near to their English equivalent, and ketchup, while a gift from the Chinese migration to Malaya, I think, owes much more to that language.

Anonymous 8:31 PM  

"Y'know, I'm just not going to say anything at all"

If only . . .

retired_chemist 8:40 PM  

@ peter - Pigeons?

Walter Pidgeon 9:50 PM  

Did someone say pidgin?

Peter Simpson 10:09 PM  

Pigeon, as most of you will know, is pidgin for pidgin.

acme 1:28 AM  

@dbgeezer
I think it would be a lot of fun to do a puzzle with Hindi words...go to it!

Mysterioso 3:20 PM  

In @Melodious Funk's 11:39 comment, Noah's Ark was somehow transformed into an ARC, which caused it to draw attention to itself, which was quite a bleed-over and give-away to this past Sunday's radio challenge from Will Shortz: Think of a famous name, wherein moving the first letter to the end yields a phrase meaning the opposite of a curve. Due to translational differences in rendering the name, it has been suggested that a better clue would have been "yields a phrase meaning not such a big boat." Answer below, after the spoiler space. (Contest entries are due at 3 PM EST, so this can now be published.)













Marc Antony => arc antonym

or

Mark Antony => ark antonym

spacecraft 11:14 AM  

KETCHUP maybe should have been the WOD, when we would've learned that it comes from the Amoy "koetsiap" meaning seafood sauce. Interesting that it seems to have been developed for use on fish.

I agree, though, that the theme evokes a "So what?" I guess the scrabbliness of most of the entries is supposed to count, and it does--but not at the expense of all that yucky fill. My fellow "Z"-bra has already thrown the Romanumeral flag, and most of the short fill isn't much better. It's all been listed.

Mildly surprised to find a "medium" tag on this one; nothing in it gave me any trouble except maybe the spelling of BARAK. I'm left with the feeling that it could've been reworked. That's easy for me to say; if you then ask "How?" I'd have to give you the old Col. Nicholson: "I haven't the foggiest."

Solving in Seattle 1:51 PM  

Gung ho (at Dictionary.com)
also gung-ho, gungho, 1942, slang motto of Carlson's Raiders (2nd Marine Raider Battalion, under Lt. Col. Evans Carlson, 1896-1947), U.S. guerrilla unit operating in the Pacific in World War II, from Chinese kung ho "work together, cooperate." Widely adopted in American English c.1959.
Borrowing an idea from China, Carlson frequently has what he calls 'kung-hou' meetings .... Problems are threshed out and orders explained. ["New York Times Magazine," Nov. 8, 1942]

Love STEAMED/ARTICHOKE at the heart of the puzzle. I'm the DCCCth blogger to notice that.

Threw down KALES and got KUMQUAT on the "K." Then a TYPHOON of childhood memories were evoked. As a young boy I lived on a 3 acre rural lot where we grew, among other things, a loquat tree and a KUMQUAT tree. I would pick a bunch of these delicious, cherry-sized citrus fruit morsels, rinse them off with the hose, and EATINTO them like peanuts. Yummy CHOW.

Now off to KOWTOW to the UTERI.

Waxy in Montreal 1:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 1:55 PM  

Three of my granddaughters are currently learning a few phrases in Chinese to be able to greet a group of exchange students from China who will be studying at their school later this year - I'll be sure to pass along my newly-acquired Chinese vocabulary from this puzzle to them especially KETCHUP, often the grandkiddies' fav food.

CUMQUAT/CALES seemed fine to me but apparently KALES can't be spelled with a C (KUMQUAT can). Otherwise, pretty routine Tuesday effort. ELKO was new to me but GOB ruled out any variant.

Ancient (somewhat sexist) joke - Q: What's the difference between an enzyme and a HORMONE? A: You can't hear an enzyme.

Dirigonzo 2:23 PM  

I see @Waxy decided to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by @ACME on the re-telling of ancient (somewhat sexist)jokes; were it a duel to the death I suspect they both would have been shot (by the bystanders if not by each other).

Anyway, ATEaway in the NW, rolex in the NE and (inexplicably) ALi baba in the SE, plus a few strategically placed misspellings all made for a complicated, but still fun, solve.

If KETCHUP is from Chinese (thank you @spacecraft for the further explanation of the origin) where did catsup come from? Just wondering.

Dirigonzo 2:28 PM  

The answer to my question can be found here.

DMG 3:13 PM  

No problems with this one, though I was surprised to,learn KETCHUP comes from the Chinese. I always thought it was of Indonesian extraction. Loved the old music memories!

@SIS: You might want to check your tree memory. All the kumquats I have known, including those from my tree, have extremely bitter skins. I don't know anyone who can eat them in their natural state. The fruit makes good marmalade, but it is best enjoyed boiled in a sugar syrup, cooled and stuffed with cream cheese ( pineapple if you can get it). Then those little fruits are the food of the gods!

Cary in Boulder 6:28 PM  

FYI, when we were in Indonesia about 15 years ago, we were often served Kecap (pron. k'CHOP), a soy-based sauce with our meals. There are sweet, medium sweet and salty versions. Not surprised to learn that it comes from the Chinese, though. They've been around a mighty long time.

Solving in Seattle 7:53 PM  

@DMG, totally ate our KUMQUATs off the tree. Yes, the skin had a slightly citrus bitter taste, but the overall experience was sweet/sour tangy. Also, if you've not eaten a loquat, you need to. Off the tree, our loquats tasted like a cross between a pear and a tangerine. Delicious.

All of our canning energy went into grape jam from our concord grape arbor.

Ginger 8:54 PM  

Felt tough for a Tuesday, yet only had 2 write-overs, (cUMQUAT & HaUNDAI), so, guess not so much. This is a word lovers dream, and as has been said, no BOREDOM here.

Also like to mention, today's posts are especially sparkling.

Thanks CC and thanks to all the Rexites.

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