Woman's name meaning "peace" - SATURDAY, Feb. 21, 2009 - Nothnagel + Walden (Methyl orange or Congo red / Some collectible Dutch prints)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: SYMMETRIC MATRIX (23A: Rectangular array that's identical when its rows and columns are transposed, as this puzzle's grid)

Word of the Day: DRUSE - A member of a Syrian people following a religion marked by monotheism and a belief in al-Hakim (985–1021), an Ismaili caliph, as the embodiment of God.

Short write-up today, partly because I'm very busy and partly because I want to go bang my head against the wall for a while right now. I did not find the puzzle hard at all, as you can tell by the difficulty rating. In fact, I finished in about the half the time it took me to do yesterday's puzzle. And yet I still managed to make a mistake. I looked the grid over and over and over and couldn't see how. So I check (Google) all my "weird" answers (i.e. stuff I couldn't have defined before I did the puzzle, e.g. REDOXES - 13D: Electron-transferring reactions, briefly) to see if they exist in real life. It's not til I get to my last weird answer that I find the problem - "Wha ... wait ... you mean there's no such thing as a WEED BIN?" No, but there is a profanity-laden rap song called "Bin Laden Weed," in case you're interested:

I had WAX paper before I ever saw 37D: Trough (feed bin), and I just figured WEED BIN was one of those old-timey, WTF answers that you see from time to time on Saturdays. Never questioned it, because WAX paper seemed so solid and WEED BIN ... it's two recognizable words, anyway. FAX paper (37A: Kind of paper)? I thought that was just called "paper." Harrumph. Mike and Byron are too smart and crafty not to have planned that little pitfall. Or else I am alone in my buffoonery, inventing problems where no person in his right mind would have any.

The rest of the puzzle was great. Noticed the odd symmetry immediately and thought the puzzle would have something to do with insects, which is what I see crawling toward the NW corner if I focus only on the black squares. Never heard of SYMMETRIC MATRIX and at one point had SYMMETRIC METRIC until ANAKIN came to the rescue, as he sometimes does (25D: Obi-Wan's apprentice). Tore into the puzzle quickly. First entry - STATLER (15D: Country music's _____ Brothers), followed immediately by GO LEFT (17A: "Haw"), LATVIA (20A: NATO member since 2004), and TRIMS (21D: Prunes). Guessed RAGAS (1D: Hindu musician's source material for improvisation) despite not-clearly-plural cluing, and that allowed me to see the SYMMETRICAL part of 23A. NW should have been tough, but AZURES (14A: Certain blues) made the crosswordy AZO DYE (2D: Methyl orange or Congo red) apparent, and I think there is someone from the old NYT Crossword Puzzle Forum named ZULEMA - thank god, because I've never heard the name, otherwise (3D: Woman's name meaning "peace"). Loved the clue on RAZOR (1A: Item with clear face value?). Thought it might be some kind of acne cream at first.

Back to "weird" answers for a moment. Here were mine for the day:

  • "THE V.I.P.s" (6D: 1963 Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton drama) - had -VIPS and just threw the "THE" up there. What else could it be?
  • NO-PEST (41D: Brand of insecticide strips) - I had ANTS instead of APES at first, which is definitely an instance of "The Simpsons" @#$#ing with my head - they've feature space-going ants and space-going APES.

  • EVELINE (12D: Title woman of a story from James Joyce's "Dubliners")
  • ERNESTO (58A: Automaker Maserati) - that one ended up being easy to guess given crosses

I love that this was a suitably tough and highly imaginative Saturday puzzle that managed to have answers that were predominantly Not from outer space. Nothing feels forced. And it's really my own damn fault for falling into the WEEDBIN (my new phrase for committing wholly to an answer that in retrospect is hilariously wrong).


  • 16A: Cry of relief at an accident scene ("He's alive!") - macabre! I love it! I had HE'LL BE OK at first because I stuck ELI (10D: "Hostel" diretor Roth), which I somehow knew, into the 9D instead of the 10D slot.
  • 22A: Grp. with the debut single "10538 Overture" (ELO) - "Grp." and three-letter length told you all you needed to know here:

  • 27A: Stud alternative (ear clip) - sounds more painful than it is. I'm guessing.
  • 29A: Fruit salad waste (stems) - great, odd clue
  • 30A: Where pizza originated (Naples) - trivia!
  • 31A: Some collectible Dutch prints (Eschers) - not sure why "collectible" is in this clue
  • 34A: Round-bottomed vessels (woks) - nice misdirection with the ambiguous "vessels" there.
  • 35A: Split and boned entree (scrod) - surprised how fast I got this. Had similar feeling about DRUSE (47D: Believer in al-Hakim as the embodiment of God)
  • 36A: A choli is worn under it (sari) - as with the clue, this one makes a valiant stab at Saturdayness. Maybe CHOLI should have been my Word of the Day.
  • 45A: "Collage With Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance" artist (Arp) - stone cold gimme. Three letters and the title is basically telling you it's "Dada".

  • 49A: Who wrote "I dwelt alone / In a world of moan, / And my soul was a stagnant tide" (Poe) - you see a pattern here. Monday answers given fantastic, informative, lively Saturday cluing. If you've gotta serve the basics, may as well dress them up pretty.
  • 5D: They may be seen on a lake's surface (reflected images) - probably the most forced answer in the grid, and yet not really That forced.
  • 9D: A little cleaner? (vac) - I did a little dance in my mind when this was the first thing I came up with, and it ended up being right.
  • 24D: 1990s HBO sketch comedy series ("Mr. Show") - memory! Had the "MR." part and recalled this show instantly. I didn't want it much, but David Cross is one of the funniest guys on the planet, so it's probably worth checking out. Profanity and sacrilege ahead:

  • 31D: Dido (escapade) - whoa. What? I think she meant more to Aeneas than that.
  • 32D: German chancellor, 1998-2005 (Schröder) - recalled him. Thankfully 2005 was not that long ago.
  • 44D: Self-response to "Must we put up with this?" ("I say no") - We had a similar weird response to one's own hypothetical question in a late-week puzzle last month. I guess it works.
  • 52D: Home of Presque Isle Downs racetrack (Erie) - and one last Monday-in-Saturday-clothes answer

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Ulrich 9:11 AM  

I really, really love the grid, with its unusual symmetry, which becomes a mini-theme at the same time. When I tilt my head to the left and concentrate on the black squares, I also see things: I alternate between seeing a crab as we find it on the beaches here in the NE and seeing a sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle, but that may be my too-vivid visual imagination. [And no, her last name is not made up, as hard as that is to believe.]

I also found this puzzle way easier than yesterday’s--goes to show what having a gimmie for one of the long answers right off the bat does for you (SCHRODER, and no, I won't go on about the missing umlaut). I had learned ERNESTO from an earlier puzzle, and ESCHERS was another gimmie in the SW. From there, a steady counterclockwise movement got me through most of the puzzle, helped enormously by finding the "reflected images" right away and slowed down a little by my first choice for the transposed answer, where I started with "symmetrical grid". In any case, the NE was my only hold-up, where I spent as much time as in the rest of the puzzle.

evil doug 9:23 AM  

My favorite show with "Mr." in it is "Mr. Meaty".

I would submit 23A. as the longest clue I've ever seen. And throw in 45A. and 49A., along with a lot of other three- and four-liners, and this puzzle's clue word-count must be a near record.

ELO is ELO unless it's REM.

Love "chewing", be it on, up, out, gum or cud.


JannieB 9:24 AM  

This was far from easy for me - about on par with yesterday as there were fewer gimmes. I never did get symmetric matrix. I had REGAE(?) at !D and thought it was some sort of "eye" thing. I never corrected a typo on the east coast so I ended up with eyemetric matter. Don't ask.

Definitely a hard slog for me, and not as rewarding as yesterday, IMOO.

nanpilla 9:26 AM  

After yesterday's pummeling, this one felt like the physical therapy I needed to recover. REDOXES was one of my first answers. It helps to have been a chemist in a former life. However, that just made me think that 23a might end in BOX, which slowed me down for a while.
But it helped me think of JURY BOX, which made me take it out of 23a, figuring it wouldn't show up twice. So wrong thinking comes to the rescue again.
Hope to meet many of you at the ACPT. Yesterday was almost enough to make me rethink even going, but today has me feeling a little more confident that I won't look like a total idiot. Only one week left to practice. Eeeek!

imsdave 9:32 AM  

What a difference a day makes. Smooth and easy Saturday. I missed the grid design and was really impressed by the two long theme anwsers after reading about it here. My only erasure was NAPOLI (lot's of pizza joints have Napolitano in their names) and it sort of made sense to me.

Crosscan 9:35 AM  

Another day, another wipeout. Draw a line down the middle - east side I solved, west side a disaster. Wonder if the constructors split it up that way.

I'm still going to the ACPT, but I'm not doing next weekend's puzzles until the plane home.

Kurt 9:40 AM  

I agree that this was easier (and fairer) than yesterday. But when you somehow become convinced that 23-Across is GEOMETRICMATRIX, you're in big trouble. And when you decide on TIECLIP instead of EARCLIP, the party is definitely over.

I still loved the puzzle. Just suffered a little northwest toe stub...

twangster 9:41 AM  

I agree ... this continues the run in which Saturday is much easier than Friday. Seems like this is the case more often than not, which is puzzling.

ArtLvr 9:55 AM  

Easy-schmeezie? I'm glad I had a second chance at the puzzle this morning, as last night's attempts were INSANE. I guess it partly depends on where you start...

"Rag" paper in the SE, for example, went with ACETONE, then dead end for a while.
"Fogey" for RELIC crossing "Agitated" (provoked) rather than ELICITED and "Natural" for LITERAL in the NE, ditto. Also "Reduces" for REDOXES.
"Adenauer" for SCHRODER and "Saute pan" for CREPE PAN in the SW. Finally saw ESCHERS after getting ESCAPADE in the SE.
Even "Bros" before SONS in the lower middle area, and I was toying with the Presque Isle in northern "Minn" or "Wisc", before deciding ERIE was more likely for a racetrack!

Well, at least morning light brought clarity, returning to REFLECTED IMAGES and then working from CHEWING ON onward to the end with JAW of Wrench and JURYBOX.

How did I know Dido = ESCAPADE? Remembered it as a group prank in a ski lodge refectory in Switzerland, where a group of college students thought it hilarious to parade around in pyjamas or something... not MOONED, however.

What a weird start to the day! At least the Fogey turned fairly easily into the RELIC and one could say of the Time(s) TRAVELER -- HE'S ALIVE!


bill from fl 10:08 AM  

I thought only the SW was really easy; the NW was hard, although I made it harder than it had to be by unaccountably forgetting that SYMMETRIC has two Ms. Even after I fixed that, I had to convince myself that ZULEMA was a name and AZO was dye. In the NE, I was thrown for a while by having FRONTAL instead of LITERAL.

@Ulrich, does Schroder violate your umlaut rule?

hereinfranklin 10:10 AM  

I must be on a different wave length--I found this one nigh impossible and much harder than yesterday's. EAR CLIP did me in. I have been wearing earrings for decades and have never heard or seen the words EAR CLIP. But with the variety of piercings available now, it may be something new.

janie 10:11 AM  

d'oh, i fell into the WEEDBOX, too. but -- while i found this puzzle challenging from beginning to end -- i also found it to be highly rewarding. more so than yesterday's. i think a lot of the fill yesterday felt like made up phrases (even tho they weren't). today's just felt more natural to me. and i loved the conceit for/execution of the grid.

"fruit salad waste" -- PEELS, SEEDS, *STEMS*!!!


Leon 10:12 AM  

Great puzzle Mr. Nothnagel and Mr. Walden.

Thanks RP. The leap to Bin Laden Weed was hilarious.

SYMMETRIC reminded me of ESCHER'S Reptiles.

PhillySolver 10:32 AM  

Perhaps it is implied elsewhere, but I believe that both long answers provide the theme. SYMMETRICAL MATRIX will create REFLECTED IMAGES.

Hard puzzle, but not in the stratosphere of Friday's puzzle. I am lucky I never entered wax paper or I would not have given it up either. I almost went in the weed bin with seeds for STEMS. There may be a few other symmetrical fill matches, but my head started spinning in trying to figure them out.

ArtLvr 10:35 AM  

@ Leon -- thanks for the link to Escher's Reptiles, one of my favorites, especially with the tiny puff of dragon smoke exhaled by the creature at the top!

Ulrich 10:35 AM  

@bill: yes, it does, as Pöe is not the crossing poet's name.

Speaking of umlaut: My favorite soccer team, 1. FC Köln, is leading at half-time against the odds-on favorite home team, Bayern München (Munic). Now I won't be able to tear myself away from the life-ticker until it's over. At least I have this blog to pass my time...

joho 10:38 AM  

I liked this puzzle much more than yesterday's. More interesting clues and answers and more doable. However, the NW did me in so I missed three squares. @JannieB I, too, had RAGAE. I guessed ENDMETRICMATRIX ... wrong! I should have recognized AZODYE. I wouldn't know ZULEMA in a million years. Still this was a fun Saturday and felt just about right. Thanks to Northnagel & Walden!

mac 10:40 AM  

A medium, and a very enjoyable one, for me today, but "redoxes" got me. Of course I knew ELO, but reduxes sounded so much more familiar that I hoped there would be another band with this var. name..... I too tried rag, fogey and metric first. Liked jury box, razor and wee ones. That last one looked weird after a few crosses. This is another one of those puzzles that look easy when the grid is filled - it's mostly about the great clues. As usual, Mrs. Nothnagel and Byron came through with a winner!

Favorite clue: 26D, some are heaping. Somebody cooks!

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

No falling in the weed bin only because I insisted on FLY paper. For a while.

The POE lines reminded me of a British Romantic poets class way back when, having to identify the authors of a bits of quoted poems--an English-major's version of "drop the needle" in music history classes. Who else could those lines be written by?

Greene 10:44 AM  

I was just commenting to @fikink last night that I thought we were due for a Byron Walden atomic bomb, so I was delighted to see the authorship today.

I thought it was going to be a true atomic bomb too, because my first time through the grid I got...nothing. But a little time, patience, and staring really does pay off. I finally remebered THE VIPS after grousing that Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Cleopatra, The Comedians and God knows what else wouldn't fit for 6D. Finally nailing THE VIPS made me feel better, but didn't really open up the grid at all.

Once I thought of AZO DYE, however, that lead to AZURES which lead to STATLER which lead to ESCHERS and the whole west just opened up. The east coast was more challenging, but the very amusing MOONED and my new friend ASIA MINOR led me right into the northeast where the ELO appeared. Having THE VIPS and ASIA MINOR made the 8 letter acrosses pretty easy. Finally ANAKIN Skywalker gave me entrance to the southeast and the puzzle was mine.

This was an excellent puzzle; challenging, but ultimately fair and with oddly beautiful symmetry in the grid to boot. The cluing was humorous and just sly enough to keep me guessing. In short, everything I love in a Saturday puzzle. Great work guys!

mac 10:47 AM  

@phillysolver: when I came down this morning, the arts section of the newspaper was opened to the puzzle at my usual seat, and my husband had filled in "seeds" for 29A. He claimed it would be an easy puzzle today.....

I spent the most time on the NW because I was convinced the name meaning "peace" should be some form of "Irene", maybe Serena? What set me straight was "go left", after that all fell into place. Love when that happens.

Doug 10:50 AM  

Super write up! Thought for sure that a COBRA is what helps a Hindu musician.

Got about 2/3 without any outside help and was pleased that all the blanks were truly arcane, like AZODYES and ZULEMA.

I had the "ö" copied and ready to insert for a witty comment to Ulrich--Alas, my big moment was pulled from under me!

Megan P 10:53 AM  

Loved the puzzle, which WAS much easier than yesterday's but still challenging and fun. And elegant - great grid. Didn't much like earclips, though - but as someone suggested, maybe Kids These Days are wearing paperclips in their ears? It might look cool to have long strings of them that connect in the middle.

mac 11:02 AM  

@Megan P: As a jewelry designer/maker I am asked very often about ear clips or clip-ons. These are earrings for people who haven't pierced their ears. And yes, they often hurt.

HudsonHawk 11:03 AM  

I am in the minority with hereinfranklin. I had an easier time yesterday completing the puzzle. I actually got off to a faster start today, moving pretty quickly from the SW to the NE. But once the NW and SE were isolated, I was in trouble.

The SE eventually came into view, but it took awhile. And the NW was brutal. It didn't help that I had ISOMETRIC MATRIX for too long. Even with AZURES and GO LEFT, I toiled. I've never heard the name ZULEMA, and I was also on the acne medicine wavelength for 1A.

fikink 11:05 AM  

@greene, Yes, when I saw the constructors' names I thought you might be more prescient than I ever imagined and
@ulrich, Mike's name always recalls our favorite fireman's aid and I thought of you, too. Nice having you both to breakfast this morning!
Certainly a better showing for me this morning than yesterday.
I, too, insisted on WAX paper because I use it almost daily.
Rex, thank-you for "the pen of sick kids" - It made my day. David Cross is a very funny fellow.

Badir 11:18 AM  

As a mathematician, I got SYMMETRIC MATRIX right away with no crossings, which was very helpful. For some reason, I put COMMUTER in for TRAVELER at first. Hey, a lot of commuters in New York City have to change subway lines, right??

@ Crosscan, I'm sorry to have to admit that I feel a little tinge of glee when you complain about wiping out on the puzzle. :0 You see, I decided I needed to pick some regular on Orange's solving-time list to calibrate my solving times against, and most of them are fast enough that it doesn't scale well. But I realized that "one-and-a-half Crosscans" is a good benchmark for me! Whenever I make that, I feel like I've done a good job. But now when you wipe out, you're not putting your times on her blog!? How am I supposed to gloat then?? And if you don't do the puzzles this week, how will _I_ know how I'm doing??? :)

Crosscan 11:32 AM  

@badir: My wife says I need to go on a diet to avoid becoming One-and-a-half Crosscans.

Friday - 29:53
Saturday - 46:16
both with multiple errors.

Gloat away.

(Unless I really aced both and I'm just trying to lull Rex into a false sense of security. You decide.)

Rex Parker 11:32 AM  

First, I love any comment that starts "As a mathematician..." - never know what zaniness will follow.

And second, you can get Crosscan in half-can sizes? I had no idea.


PlantieBea 11:37 AM  

Slow and steady on this excellent puzzle, but ultimately I did not win the race. The NW was a mess with ISOMETRIC Matrix for a long while, SALOMa for the peace name and RED DYE for the AZO place. Had to come here to fix the mess I made.

I also made a WEED BIN with WAX paper.

steve l 11:49 AM  

This was a very good puzzle, and for just the reasons that yesterday's wasn't: An experienced solver can look at it, see nothing at all, get a foothold here and there, and eventually get it all. It's all logical; not that obscure or contrived. (OK, things like AZO DYE will be obscure for those with less experience, but trust me, yesterday's puzzle had much more obscure stuff in it: Loch REE? SHORE COVER?) I "got" SYMMETRICALGRID right away, but after a while, made the appropriate adjustment. Didn't fall into the FAX ball of WAX, because I saw "Trough" and put FEEDBOX--again, later had to modify it to the correct -BIN. But that's what a good Sat. puzzle is about: Even the experienced get it half-right and have to make adjustments. Put BELLAMY before changing to STATLER Brothers, thinking a little more recently in the country genre.

ZULEMA is undoubtedly related to SHALOM/SALAAM. So are SALMA, SELMA and SHULAMIT.

To the less-experienced: HAW, ELO, ANAKIN, ADE are some crosswords worth remembering.

Most of the puzzle, though, required figuring out, not remembering: Some are heaping (TSPS); Polish stripper (ACETONE) (Note: Burlesque artists are rarely famous and rarely in crosswords.) DEAREST for Honey. Saturday is a thought process; if this puzzle ate you up, hang in there. It'll come with practice.

thornibus 11:49 AM  

wanted INVITRO for stud alternative. I must stick up for FAX paper as legit, Rex. Some of us still have the thermal paper rolls that only work in a fax machine.

Shamik 11:52 AM  

Put me in the WEED BIN with all the rest of us weeds. My time for a Saturday made this a dead center medium for me at 21:43.

But what was it about yesterday's puzzle that I so enjoyed about a challenge? What is it about today's that makes me so not like this one?

My fruit detritus was similar to others' but I had a few other oddities stuck in there before correcting them:

NAPOLI for NAPLES (dumb mistake)

As we say often in our family: "It's not that this is bad. I just don't like it."

treedweller 12:02 PM  

I only got about half of this one (SW to NE) before googling, but definitely found it easier and more gettable than yesterday. I never considered FAX paper, but ruled out wax because I couldn't see a way for the initial X to work going down. I really tried to make "tar" paper work, which probably explains a lot of why I never finished that corner. Also didn't help that I couldn't see JAW and kept trying "box" (box-end wrench? Anybody?), though the initial X thing was still a problem.

NW was doomed because I immediately stuck in "watch" for 1A. I suspected all along it was wrong, but never came up with an alternate. The rest of the puzzle was a slog, but I enjoyed dropping in an ARP here and a MRSHOW there till I filled in a good bit.

A day or two ago, when ELO was an answer yet again, I resolved that any obscure song title with an abbreviated three-letter band name was going to be ELO. It worked today (thanks for ruining my confidence in that strategy, @Evil--but at least I can recognize a few REM songs).

The past two days have confirmed for me how remote my chances are at the tournament (Pluto is closer), but I'm taking that as a sign that I shouldn't worry about results and instead I will just enjoy the puzzles and the experience.

Amy Reynaldo 12:22 PM  

The ZULEMA from the forum is a regular at my blog and at the Crossword Fiend forum. She was pleased to see her name in the puzzle, because really, what were the odds?

This puzzle took me a few seconds longer than yesterday's, so I'd peg them both as Saturday-grade, but not tough Saturdays.

I'm gonna call him Edgar Allan Pö from now on (and I'm pronouncing that the German way, too).

Amy Reynaldo 12:28 PM  

By the way, the STATLER Brothers were from Staunton, Virginia. I had a friend who lived there some years back (she worked at the Woodrow Wilson birthplace/library/museum), and now a noted crossword constructor makes his home there. The internet tells me the Confederate Breastworks are also in Staunton.

Ulrich 12:43 PM  

@Amy: The umlaut makes all the difference b/c Po means behind/rear end etc in German (Pöchen is the diminuitive, used mainly when kids are told what to wipe).

What a Saturday: First this great grid, and then Cologne beats Munic at Munic 2:1.

Jet City Gambler 12:47 PM  

So a tourist gets off the plane in Baltimore, he's a big seafood buff. He gets into a cab and asks the driver, "Where can I get scrod?" The cabbie turns around and looks at him. "Buddy," he says, "I've been asked that question many times, in many ways. But that's the first time I ever heard anyone use the pluperfect subjunctive."

edith b 12:58 PM  

I refer to received knowledge and wordplay as the way to distinguish between the two things you need to be a solver of late week puzzles but I like steve l's description.

I consider myself a better rememberer than a figurer-outer but I am making progress.

I though the SW was solidly in place but I fell into the WEEDBIN just the way that Rex laid it out. Since I solve in Across Lit I never saw the error.

I moved smartly into the SE and got the mini-stack of POE ARP right away. I had ES*APA** at 31D for Dido and not knowing any better, entered ESCAPADE and figured out the rest of that corner.

I worked steadily through Fly-over country, picking up REFLECTEDINMAGES along the way and had a flash of insight but why the grid looked the way it did and entered SYMMETRICMATRIX without further ado. If you fold the puzzle along the line that runs from 1A thru the S in WEEONES in 59A, the black squares match perfectly. I'v never seen a grid like this before.

I ended up in the NW about a half hour later and guessed AZODYE and GOLEFT.

RAZOR was my last entry and it felt solid because I recognized commenter ZULEMA from Orange's blog . Will wonders never cease.

Good solid Saturday for me. I'd like to thank Rex for making me a better figuerer-outer than a rememberer and therefore a better solver.

bill from fl 1:07 PM  

@Ulrich, come to think of it, Poe (w/umlaut) would be a good name for death metal band; the lyrics would fit right in.

PlantieBea 1:08 PM  

Does anyone know how often NYT puzzles have deviated from the standard rotational symmetry (C2V the way I learned to name these things) to a reflected symmetry? I thought it was a nice change.

bigredanalyst 1:12 PM  

I thought both today and yesterday were much more challenging than normal Sat/Fridays.

Today the SE came quickly (never even thought of WAX so I avoided that trap) and then nonthing.

Brute force (and a lot of time) gave me the SW.

Even though I had ASIAMINOR early, the NE proved difficult (especially when I tried to spell TRAVELER with two Ls).

And the NW was impossible until I came here. I kept thinking about acne-creams for 1A (RETIN stayed there for a long time). And TIECLIP stayed in my grid for a long time. After exhausting my brain thinking of poker variants.

Never heard of REDOXES or AZODYE so as a rookie at ACPT next week I'm getting nervous!

bigredanalyst 1:12 PM  

I thought both today and yesterday were much more challenging than normal Sat/Fridays.

Today the SE came quickly (never even thought of WAX so I avoided that trap) and then nonthing.

Brute force (and a lot of time) gave me the SW.

Even though I had ASIAMINOR early, the NE proved difficult (especially when I tried to spell TRAVELER with two Ls).

And the NW was impossible until I came here. I kept thinking about acne-creams for 1A (RETIN stayed there for a long time). And TIECLIP stayed in my grid for a long time. After exhausting my brain thinking of poker variants.

Never heard of REDOXES or AZODYE so as a rookie at ACPT next week I'm getting nervous!

SethG 1:22 PM  

Allow me to amend a comment I've made before. "I like Mike Nothnagel puzzles, I just can't _do_ Mike Nothnagel puzzles."

Turns out, I can do Mike Nothnagel puzzles, provided that they are cowritten with another mathematician. And I still like them.

SO much better than yesterday's for me. MOONED was awesome, and was entered with no crosses. I did spend some time on NAPoli, and a bit of trouble getting into the SE but nothing too bad. (Finally entered with the J after checking to see if any odd letters didn't appear elsewhere...) There are several Presque Isles, but just one LATVIA!

Gary K. 1:31 PM  

This had a nice mini-theme, which IMO included not just the unusual layout and the two longest entries but also ESCHER, who was intrigued by reflected images on water surfaces. Use Google Images to find some of his woodcuts along these lines. As a mathematician, I filled in SYMMETRICMATRIX right away, while saying to myself "Paula can't really be using this."

In addition to the unusual layout and the

Badir 1:34 PM  

@Rex, as a mathematician, I guess I should write a few more zany comments.

@Crosscan, as a mathematician, I can see that you still solved Friday twice as fast as I did, despite your errors, so I'll hold off on the Friday gloat. But this morning, after my roughly weekly RAZOR ritual, I beat you on the INSANE SYMMETRICAL MATRIX. Nyah, nyah! :)

I really liked HESALIVE, though I was first thinking more like "HEISOKAY". Well, at least he didn't die, eh?

Also cute that FAX meets XEROXES.

Nebraska Doug 1:41 PM  

A good two day run for me. Thought today's puzzle was much easier than normal for a Saturday, maybe in my top ten of all time fastest Saturdays. Started off with a gimme in 1D, RAGAS. Only got stuck briefly in the SE, made the same mistake many others did with WAX. Friday took MUCH longer, but I managed to finish it with one frustrating error, I guessed wrong on the cross of PHIAL and APGARSCORE.

Frances 1:45 PM  

@edith b
Thanks so much for explaining the symmetry of the grid. I finished the puzzle in my usual Saturday 40-60 minutes and had no trouble filling in SYMMETRICMATRIX, but couldn't for the life of me make sense of transposing rows and columns.

Free Lunch 1:59 PM  

Nice to know that "haw" means "go left." I always assumed it just meant "go," probably due to its incorrect application in so many Hollywood westerns.

For future reference I looked up how to get an ox to go right. "Gee," you'd say. Please make a note of it!

Clark 2:10 PM  

I tried looking up college student pranks in Switzerland and discovered that 'dido' [origin unknown] is "a mischievous or capricious act: prank, antic -- often used in the phrase 'cut didoes'" (Merrian-Webster). Often?

jubjub 2:35 PM  

Nice puzzle. Easy for me as I also put in SYMMETRICMATRIX immediately, and, strangely LATVIA, cuz I think there was a recent puzzle informing me of their 2004 induction. Sometimes I worry about the imbalance in the trivia I know -- I'm thinking I only know about things with either a lot of vowels in them or a nice vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant pattern :).

David Cross is great. My favorite quote of all time is "Chicken pot chicken pot chicken pot pie", which is from a sitcom he guest-starred on. I think I remember reading an interview with him where he complained that he was most famous for that one line.

Time for lunch ... maybe I should try and find some "split and boned" SCROD. Sounds delish :).

foodie 2:49 PM  

I LOOOOVED this puzzle, which shows that I don't just love what's easy for me (I somehow knew that...). Slow and steady, it unfolded in a very enjoyable way. And as I re-examined it, I fell in love with it some more. I hope it's going into the Oryx WEEDBIN (a good name for an addiction file).

Yes, mac, somebody must cook! Not only the heaping "TSPS", but Woks and a Crepe pan, for an interesting meal with Pizza from Naples (appetizer portion?), an entree of Scrod (split and boned) and a Fruit Salad (I recommend adding a touch of HONEY and some cinnamon).

I had a problem with Z's today... I wanted DRUZE to have one, that's the more common spelling. And I wanted SULEMA not to have one. That name is from Arabic and it is in fact related to Salam, Salem, etc.. I fixed "AZENINE", but squinted at RASOR and left it alone!

PS. Al-Hakim (The Druze God Embodiment) means "The Wise One"

PPS. Druze is plural. Care to guess what the singular is? Durzi... May be useful for puzzles and Scrabble.

Xavier 3:14 PM  

As a mathematician ... I was happy to see that all the other mathematicians also threw down SYMMETRICMATRIX right away (it the first answer in my grid). I probably would have tanked this puzzle without it's steady presence from start to finish. Rex, I'm glad you are intrigued by the zaniness mathematicians have to offer.

@stevel, you are right about the link between ZULEMA and SHALOM/SALAAM et. In Arabic, and related languages like Hebrew, word stems are not contiguous letters. They are consonants with place holders for vowels. So the stem for PEACE is S_L_M, giving SALAAM, SALMAN, SULEYMAN, etc. Unfortunately this made me put SULEMA.

I also put REDUXES for REDOXES. I wish I had better instincts as far as ELO goes. Rex, I'll take your tip under advisement. Otherwise, I totally loved this puzzle! There is an admirable dearth of abbreviations among the short answers. It also helps that this is arguable my most successful Saturday effort ever.


retired_chemist 3:22 PM  

Liked it a lot.

As a chemist...... :-)

We had a good day with 2D AZO DYE, 13D REDOXES, and 38D ACETONE (although I had SCRAPER for far too long).

A quibble: I never used REDOX as a noun, nor did any of my colleagues to my knowledge, in 40 years of teaching. REDOX REACTION is the way to say it. So adjectives have plurals in MN/BW world? :-)

SYMMETRIC MATRIX was a gimme since I had a few crosses by the time I got to the clue.

When I filled in ABD (all but Dixie) I thought I was going to break the 15 minute Saturday barrier. NIECE (43A) was another gimme and my entrée into the deep south. The C led me to the aforementioned SCRAPER. And then..... a BUNCH of wrong stuff, since (a) every letter of sCraper except the C was wrong, and I, as well as foodie, spelled 47D DRUZE.

if I ever do break 15 min on Saturday you will hear me roar from TX to NY. Wade will need earplugs.

chefbea 3:41 PM  

So much easier than yesterday, actually easier than most saturdays for me.

I love Escher - didn't know he was Dutch.

Was going to mention all the foods, but Foodie beat me to it.

@jetcity gambler - great joke!!

Adrian 3:52 PM  

Since everyone else is doing it..

As a mathematician (who uses matrices every day), I also got SYMMETRIC MATRIX immediately, and then felt a) smug that I happened to have the right sort of knowledge for once, and b) dubious because that's not supposed to happen.

When the next thing I saw was ANAKIN my jaw dropped - a puzzle explicitly designed around my body of expertise! It went rapidly downhill from there though.

I also initially put WAX, but that helped me get the rest of that corner and led me eventually to fix it to FAX (which I would never have guessed on its own), so that duplicitly actually helped me.

Noam D. Elkies 4:05 PM  

As a mathematician, I noticed the unusual symmetry first, and was then delighted enough by the related gimme at 23A that I ventured to solve a Saturday puzzle for the first time in may a 46A:MOON[ED]. I'm glad I did, though I too was waxed and weeded out by the ?AX/?EEDBIN cross at 37. Thanks, Nothnagel & Walden!

Anybody remember the April Fool's puzzle many Mondays ago (probably 2002) that had not just the grid but even the entries forming a symmetric matrix? Each word appeared both Down and Across but with different definitions.

As for 3D:ZULEMA, I eventually pieced it together though I don't recall ever running across the name before; with ??L?M? in place, I guessed SHLOMI (which turns out to be a man's name), then SALOME which has both the etymology and gender right but happens not be what was needed here. ZULEMA seems to be from the same Semitic root seen in Shalom/Salaam as well as (Jeru)Salem, Solomon (Shlomo/Salman), etc.

As a non-chemist, I remembered REDOX (reduction/oxidation) -- very easy, actually, given the X from 23A:SYMMETRICMATRIX -- but didn't know to wonder about the legitimacy of the plural. I see now that 13D:REDOXES makes a nice pair with 39D:XEROXES further down the last column of the matrix. More about such pairs tomorrow (to avoid spoilage, though my beef does not concern the main 21x21 puzzle)...


joho 4:28 PM  

Wow, I had no idea there were so many mathemeticians on this blog. Being mathematically challenged SYMMETRICMATRIX was Greek to me creating my Waterloo in this puzzle along with 1, 2 & 3 down.

The movie The Matrix I know.

jae 4:30 PM  

I'm with the minority who found this harder than yesterday's. Well, the North half anyway. In the SW I did need my wife's help in recalling SCHRODER. (Honey, who was the %#@! chancellor of Germany before Merkel.)

I also had a dumb error. Didn't know ZULEMA and had it ending in Y which gave me EYECLIP and MESHOW. I think if I had thought about it a little more I might have been able to fix it, or maybe not.

Not being a mathematician I tried GEO and ISO before SYM and also had NAPOLI at first. In all a fine puzzle with lots of clever cluing that was just a tad frustrating.

steve l 4:36 PM  

I think Zulema may have gotten its Z through Spanish, in which (in most countries) Z and S are pronounced alike.

Those of you who put SYMMETRIC MATRIX right away are into math, and recognize it as a fixed phrase. I put SYMMETRICAL GRID at first because in Crosswordese, it's a grid, not so much a matrix.

To me, a MATRIX sounds more like a movie.

foodie 4:46 PM  

as a neuroscientist, I am embarrassed to say I entered INSANE as soon as I saw "fruity". I figured it was just an un-PC stab on my part, except it turned out to be true...yeah, the constructors were in a gastronomical mood.

Interesting about mathematicians and the NY Times Puzzle. The American Mathematical Society lists 32,000 members, the Society for Neuroscience lists 38,000. But at least among the commenters on this blog, there seems to be more mathematicians than, say, neuroscientists. Which makes me wonder if mathematicians are more apt to solve (and construct) crossword puzzles? Has somebody looked at the composition of solvers? I actually tried to google it but did not get far...

retired_chemist 4:46 PM  

@JAE - I had NAPLES but was prepared to switch to NAPOLI from the crosses if needed. fortunately not.

@ Steve I - I sympathize. Check out my b***h yesterday about the 35A "plot line" clue. C. P. Snow was right.....

Anne 5:10 PM  

As a newbie, this was very hard and much harder than yesterday. Like Rex, my first entry was Statler and there we parted ways. I followed the same strategy as yesterday, I kept doing things, running errands, etc. and going over the puzzle again. I am astonished that I managed to finish over three-fourths of it without googling. Then I googled a lot. I'm getting better!

Wade 5:11 PM  

As a guy who video-tapes nutcracker dolls singing songs about shaving cream, screw all of youse who liked this puzzle! I still don't understand the clue or the answer about symmetrical matrices (I thought all crossword puzzles had, whatayacallit, rotational symmetry. Is this something different? Never mind. I don't want to have to try to understand. Maybe one of you have already explained it above, but forgive me, I skipped ahead of any comment that started "as a mathematician" or "as a carpenter's wife." (I know, that one's recycled. But there's a new crowd here these days.))

I did finish the puzzle, in a painful manner, but fell into the METRIC trap and stayed there, because I feel the same way about Star Wars that I feel about hobbits: I. Just. Don't. Care.

Actually, I'm just spouting off. It's pretty cool puzzle, and I love you all.

fikink 5:16 PM  

@retired chemist, that is precisely why I so enjoy this forum; the two cultures mingle so civilly and so many insights are born of the one attempting to interpret the other. (I am still awaiting your Parkerhouse RENT ROLLS.)
And Wade, don't make me come down there!

Wade 5:37 PM  

Okay, somebody please call my bluff and explain that clue/answer. I don't know what it means to "transpose" a column and a row. Would somebody please Google that for me? (Because, as many of you know, Googling is beneath me.)

I saw the Statler Brothers in concert in Wichita Falls in about 1977, the original lineup: Harold, Phil, Don and Lou (only two of them were brothers). Best use of a Statler Brothers song was "Flowers On the Wall" in Bruce Willis's getaway scene in "Pulp Fiction."

retired_chemist 5:38 PM  

@fikink -

well said. We DO communicate and I enjoy that. A lot.

Maybe Foodie or ChefBea will devise a recipe for Parker House Rent Rolls for us.

@ Wade (my fellow Texan) - yes it is different. "Symmetric matrix"specifically refers to symmetry about the main (NW to SE) diagonal. The usual crossword symmetry is twofold rotational (C2 for the mathematicians etc.)

So which of you mathematicians is going to construct a Hermitian crossword puzzle? :-)

retired_chemist 5:49 PM  

@ Wade -

OK - transpose. In today's puzzle, make the top line read RAGAS ESCAPADE and the first column read RAZOR TRAVELER. Second line would be AZODYE SCHRODER and second column AZURES HESALIVE. And so forth for the entire puzzle.

More mathematically, if you designate each square by its coordinates (x,y) meaning (row x, column y) then the transpose matrix has its (x,y) identical to the original matrix's (y,x).

Naah - didn't think that would sell... Is that a Snow job? :-)

PlantieBea 5:51 PM  

@Wade: Not a mathematician so maybe you will read this :-) This transposing happens in matrix algebra (linear algebra), for example, by applying a function (maybe multiplying by -1?) when row 1 of a matrix is changed into column 1, row 2 to column 2, and so on. A matrix is just an array of numbers in columns and rows. Rows and columns can be transposed in spreadsheet programs, too.

And that's all I remember from the fog of linear algebra.

chefbea 6:05 PM  

@retired_chemist Did I miss something? what are parker house rent rolls?

retired_chemist 6:20 PM  

@ Chefbea - an old puzzle had RENT ROLLS as an answer and I had made a joke, playing off the Parker House Roll Call on this blog. No way I could find which puzzle this was anymore....

muchael 6:23 PM  

I'm not a mathematician, but I was a math major in college and wrote symmetric matrix in right away. Reflected images was also not hard for me. But the rest of the puzzle was a slog, which I eventually got.

I was messed up for a while by putting in Druze (perfectly ok) instead of Druse. But then couldn't think of any possible answers with the second letter "z", thought of asinine and then quickly finished the pussle.

fergus 6:40 PM  

And hearkening back to linear algebra (the only math course I didn't like, but ultimately found useful in the cool filters for statistical analysis) I plonked in ISOMETRIC for my MATRIX, and there it stayed. Saturday pen strokes start out pretty faint but ISO went in full bore, so I scr3wed up the Northwest corner pretty bad. Even had DELTAS has my sort of blues. What with the TIE CLIP leaving the red-orange tints apparently ending in ST, I was desperately seeking a variety of RUST, given the REDOX suggestion. The "Haw" became WE LAFT -- I knew that was crap, surrendered and came to visit Rexworld.

As has been noted, but I cannot help duplicating, the Reflection of the Matrix on the lake was one of the most beautiful Crossword images ever conjured up. I know it's an arcane aesthetic sense, but it is nice to know that others appreciate the artistry there.

David_Krumholtz 6:53 PM  

@Wade - I'm not a mathematician but I play one on TV. Unless someone explains this more clearly, I've not a clue.

allan 7:00 PM  

As a total idiot, i still have no idea what you mathematicians are talking about.

Today was definitely easier than yesterday, although i had to get some google help. The SE fell into place immediately, and then there was the remaining 3/4 of the grid!

Words that are rapidly becoming crosswordese: latvia (how many times in just the last 2 weeks?), and ernesto (also becoming a common answer).

Can anyone figure out a quick way to get a "q" in the puzzle to make it, in addition to the terrific puzzle it already is, a pangram as well?

bye for now

treedweller 7:06 PM  

@ wade et al.
Forget all that x,y stuff. Take the puzzle out of the paper, fold the top right corner down to meet the bottom left corner, and hold it up to the light. All the black squares overlap exactly.

Ulrich 7:07 PM  

@David: Here's an explanation from a non-mathematician (but geometry lover): "normal" puzzle symmetry means that if you rotate the grid about the center point by 180°, you get the same pattern of black squares (try it!). But this will not work for today's puzzle. What will work is mirroring the grid about the main diagonal (from NW to SE): bingo, you have the same pattern!

mac 7:12 PM  

I am not a mathematician, but I love that show about the mathematician played by David_Krumholtz.

dk 7:32 PM  

As a sometime photographer who has had a show of RELECTEDIMAGES which are SYMMETRICMATRIX (make it plural and it will be grammatically correct), I... think I will have a glass of wine.

Great puzzle, write-up and blog discourse.

retired_chemist 7:34 PM  

@ Muchael - pussle? CUTE!

retired_chemist 7:38 PM  

@ DK - enjoy your wine! I already had mine - Lindemann's Shiraz. I agree - great fun with puzzle, writeup, and blog.

fikink 7:41 PM  

Oh my goodness, dk, I was just thinking about a photo I took of a butterfly and was going to ask if we could think of the symmetric matrix as a Monarch folding its wings (but I thought you'd all peg me as an incurable romantic).
More wine, anyone?

Anne 7:46 PM  

Thank you, TreeDweller, for something I can finally understand.

Wade 7:54 PM  

Thanks, fellow Texans Retired Chemist and Treedweller, and fellow Earthling Ulrich. I get it now. I don't know that I appreciate why it's impressive, but I get it. I worked in a liquor store in Austin with a woman who was perfectly symmetrical. You don't realize people are not normally symmetrical until you run into one who is, and it changes the way you look at everything. She never stood at a 45 degree angle while I was around; otherwise I'd have probably understood this puzzle right away.

jae 8:00 PM  

Try this Wade if none of the above has clarified it for you. Take the puzzle and turn it on it's side (that 90 degrees for you math types). Then turn the paper over so the blank side is facing you (again, a 180 degree rotation) and hold it up to the light. Ta da! It's the same puzzle.

jae 8:01 PM  

Apparently, we cross posted.

retired_chemist 8:16 PM  

@ Wade - LOL re symmetry woman.

@ Muchael- maybe I'll have a zecond glazz of Zhiras.

chefbea 8:20 PM  

@treedweller - thanks. I cut out the puzzle and tada
it works... with no beets!!!

Bill from NJ 8:49 PM  


Well. we have the flip side of your request for more readers and input. Your inbox is jammed with stuff, we commenters (and lurkers) must spend a considerable amount of time reading so as not to appear stupid when we answer questions from other commenters and not say something a dozen others have already said.

As trial lawyers say- "asked and answered."

Plus, of course, a lot of anonymice making all manner of comments, both on point and off, some asinine some not, some snarky some not.

So why do I love it here so much?

fergus 9:22 PM  

... and now Wade, as a fellow who has no truck with the Hobbit stuff, crime fiction, Star Wars, or other things sci-fi, I defer to the true mathematicians for compositional elegance.

The mostly-knowing dabbler recognizes that the array of letters on a grid is an abstruse logical composition, based loosely on common language, and the Clues are for wry wits' experimentation.

Such is a conclusion from the puzzle today.

Robert T 10:09 PM  

I think the transposability of today's puzzle was a tour de force that only "retired-chemist" seems to have understood. Or was it thought to be so obvious as to not merit mention? I took 23-Across
literally and did the puzzle by filling in the answer to the clue for 1-Across in the space for 1-Down, and so on, getting the resul retired-chemist described. Only after I finished did I realize that i also works following normal rules. Nothnagel & Walden deserve a medal for a really ingenious puzzle."

mac 10:33 PM  

My goodness, Robert T, this is incredible. Not surprised it was Nothnagel and Walden who constructed this piece of art! We do have some brilliant crossword people around.

Ulrich 10:51 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
kathy d. 10:57 PM  

I found this puzzle to be much harder than Friday's. Friday's= one sitting, one google.

Saturday's= several sittings, four googles.

Kathy D.

Ulrich 11:00 PM  

@retired chemist at 5:49 and Robert T: But isn't that the direct result of the symmetry selected? I.e. you get this once you set up the grid that w/o further effort. And isn't it true that for languages reading from right to left, you would have to select the other diagonal as the mirror (axis)?

Gary K. 12:10 AM  

@Robert T and mac, there's no need to be so impressed. It's as Ulrich says: any puzzle with this sort of symmetry could be filled in as RT described, no matter how crummy the entries or clues.

andrea carla michaels 1:24 AM  

Alas, by the time I've gotten here today, Sunday's puzzle is already up and blogged...

Undaunted, I will add my two cents since I've just spent about an hour reading everybody!

Mostly I just wanted to say that I always make the mistake of spelling ASININE with two S's.

And for two minutes I thought it was bad to have FEEDBOX cross with JURYBOX so I knew one or the other was wrong.

DRUZE would not help in Scrabble as it's capitalized, and some folks, like me, probably put in DRUID!

altho on the crossword/Scrabble matrix,
guessing Z's and X's when I get stuck really loosens the whole thing up.

Trying to understand the mathematicians' comments has made my brain start to bleed. So I did that fold trick but somehow still only vaguely understand that that must be neat.
Can I now make a plane out of it?

Robert T 2:14 AM  

@Gary K. & Ulrich: Yes, it "is this sort of symmetry" that makes it work. I'm impressed because I've never seen such a grid before. Have either of you?

@Ulrich, I think you must be right about what's needed for a right-to-left language.

liquid el lay 5:50 AM  


I did what Rex did times eight. Weedbin redux. (though not at FEEDBIN)

Had NEWVOWS (Burton/Taylor drama) for a while and lamely ended up with TYEVIPS x YESALIVE

Everything else was OK but the NW where I crammed in a lot of wrong words. I had to serve the monster I created in 23a. Let me explain:

I could not resolve a puzzle grid to a mathematical matrix, so that even though I had the word part ..ETRICMATRIX I would not see it as math. Above, I had a lot of white space and put in

BASER for RAZOR (use it to apply make-up)


GEDAFT for "Haw" - both exclamations..

AZELIA for AZODYE as a flower with chemical sounding color variants.

necessity is the mother of invention, they say.

Why did I do all this? One word:


Now I know what a dielectric is (and a symmetric matrix for that matter) and I've always liked the dielectric/dialectic collision of two alien worlds across two really similar sounding names... and I don't really know what dialectic means, and, it might kind of work, and I kind of forgot about the R..

I thought SUDEAR was a reasonable name,

and I had to live with ARTCLIP, but hey, when you've already let in TYEVIPS you can do such a thing.

And that was my Saturday puzzle.

some fun words I didn't have to invent:

"..must we put up with this?" ISAYNO! - was fun too.

had ALADIN for ANAKIN for a while.. thought "fruity" meant gay, if anything- so resisted INSANE

Would have done it "backwards" had I looked at 23a before starting, and been smart enough to.

fergus 6:49 AM  

Liquid, I completely empathize with your experience in the NW, and got a good laff out of New Vows.

The el lay is LA n'est-ce pas? So few comments from down south, compared to the chatty boreal region.

liquid el lay 11:06 AM  

Fergus, yes, it's LA.

And I must confess that when I had REA_TO all I could see was REALTO! (RIALTO, pop. whatever, location somewhere in so cal- I don't know where) all misspelled, and not even seeing REAL TO.. Yeah, LA.

liquid el lay 12:44 PM  


Oh, and I got OK with grid-as-(mathematical) matrix concept when I assigned the values of blank=0, black=1

liquid el lay 12:48 PM  


I'd have been happy if they clued it "grid, when blank=0, black=1"

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Ok got the earring reference but I chose "dangler" which would be a good word just not for that space . .
I don't get the Dido reference AT ALL. I had "fag" paper ( i e. cigarettes which made me brought me to "geroxes" and since I don't know either "geroxes" or the correct word . .
All in all , a few triumphs and an interesting puzzle

william e emba 4:05 PM  

The following is an example of a 4x4 SYMMETRIC MATRIX:

1 2 3 6
2 5 7 0
3 7 8 1
6 0 1 9

(It's supposed to come out as a 4x4 grid, top row 1236, left column, 1236, etc. It works when I preview in Firefox.)

A matrix is a rectangular array of mathematical items of interest, typically numbers. They are a significant concept. Square matrices are generally more interesting. Amongst the square matrices, one singles out those that are symmetrical across the main diagonal, heading from NW to SE.

You can verify this visually, or you can verify it verbally as I began above, comparing row n with column n.

william e emba 4:07 PM  

There have been the occasional left/right symmetric NYT grids.

boardbtr 5:13 PM  

Five weeks later--it must have been easy since I got it with no googles. Very rare for a Saturday. However it took a long time with much struggling to get it. I believe that Anakin was my only gimme and Niece fell from that. The SE fell from there but the rest was just skip around. I didn't know the HBO show. Wasn't sure if it was Mr. Show or Mrs. How until I got here.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

kathkin said
five weeks later as well.
Many years ago I worked at an ad agency and Shell was one of our clients. When my office got too crowded with account types and art directors, I would simply declare the area a "Shell No Pest" zone to clear out the riffraff. That was the only gimme in this puzzle. A very hard slog indeed. But worth every battle.

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