WEDNESDAY, Jul. 8 2009 — Big name in women's apparel since 1949 / Batcave figure / Style of truck with vertical front / Ants archaically

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Constructor: Tim Wescott

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Magic Squares — Completed puzzle features nine magic squares (square-shaped arrangements of letters where the sequential Across words and Down words are identical). See "Note: When completed, this puzzle grid will contain an unusual feature that appears nine times. Can you find it?"

Word of the Day: EMMETS (22A: Ants, archaically) n. Archaic.

An ant.

[Middle English emete, from Old English æmete.] (answers.com)




Short write-up today. Not a lot to say about this one. There are nine magic squares, of differing sizes, arranged (with rotational symmetry) throughout the grid. There they are. I'm sure this was challenging to construct and probably deserves some applause. I solved it quickly and had no idea what the "theme" was — just this vague sense that a lot of the intersecting words seemed a lot alike. I did notice that ABOVE intersected ABOVE in the middle of the grid, but didn't stop to ponder why that was important. When I finished and saw the note, I'm pretty sure I said some version of "ugh" out loud. I'm solving a crossword here, not playing Word Find or looking for Waldo.

Saw a lot of word crosses (e.g. ABOVE/ABOVE, OPE/OPE) and thought that was the deal, but there were too many of those. Then saw that 2 TREES and 2 HEARTS formed a square at the middle of the puzzle. Finding the other squares was easy.

  • NW: ROB x BEE
  • N: BING x GATE
  • NE: CRAM x METS
  • W: CUD x DEN
  • Ctr: HEART x TREES
  • E: WES x SAL (like this one 'cause it's all names — party of three)
  • SW: CHAS x SHED (this one's weird because all SW-to-NE lines parallel to and including the diagonal ("SSSS") are made up of just a single letter)
  • S: RUMP x PRAY
  • SE: ROE x EEN
Bullets:

  • 36A: Hindu god (Deva) — didn't know this. See (unrelated and differently pronounced) "Diva" at 2D: Diva's workplace (opera house).
  • 38A: Style of truck with a vertical front (cab over) — another unknown.
  • 41A: "101 _____ for a Dead Cat" (1981 best seller) ("Uses") — possibly the best clue for USES I've ever seen.
  • 45A: 1978 Yankees hero Bucky (Dent) — I'd have gone with [Gotham D.A. Harvey] here, but I'm a Sox fan, and a Batman fan, so no surprise there. Would have made a nice tie-in with 1D: Batcave figure (Robin).
  • 55A: Bacardi concoction, perhaps (rum punch) — I'd have gone with the Elmore Leonard novel of the same name. "Bacardi" makes RUM part too easy.
  • 5D: "Aha!" elicitor (idea) — I had TADA. HA ha.
  • 9D: Dorky sort (schmo) — "Dork" and "SCHMO" aren't in same universe to me. "Dork" skews toward "nerd," where "SCHMO" skews toward "any schlubby nobody you might see on the street, i.e. Joe SCHMO."
  • 12D: Mine opening (adit) — my very favorite bit of crosswordese. One of the first that I collected and remembered in the early 90s when I started solving. Thanks, Eugene T. Maleska.
  • 24D: Sneak peek, informally (prevue) — when you just can't bring yourself to write that seventh letter.
  • 31D: Louisiana city named for the fifth U.S. president (Wes T. Monroe)
  • 32D: Big name in women's apparel since 1949 (Evan Picone) — here's what's troubling me this morning: How Did I Know This?
  • 54D: Arthur who wrote "A Hard Road to Glory" (Ashe) — I actually said out loud to my wife last night "Who's Arthur ASHE?" (thinking he was a writer as opposed to the tennis player). Wife: "You know who Arthur ASHE is, honey."
  • 56D: Super, slangily (Uber) — on crossover of word from German to English, see here. For the T-Pain album "UBER" ... you'll have to wait 'til November. (T-PAIN is a very famous rapper whose name will eventually appear in a puzzle — his songs are characterized by heavy use of Auto-Tune to give his voice an aggressively digitally altered sound). [if you are easily offended, there is a good chance there's something you won't like in this video, so don't hit "Play"]


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

79 comments:

Crosscan 8:19 AM  

This is cool. Easy solve (fastest Wednesday ever).

Nine word squares and no repeated answers? Amazing.

You still get your crossword, and a bonus. What could be wrong with that once in a while? I say Ugh to your Ugh.

Bravo, Tim Wescott!

John 8:28 AM  

When I was on a raft trip down the Colorado River, at one overnight stop they set up the portable toilet in a mine Adit. Sorta Cool.

This puzzle was easy, but dont really understand the point.

DanaJ 8:31 AM  

I liked the "magic square" thing, especially the SW corner with all the ASHes and HASHes. But I was a little grossed out by contemplating the SHEEN of unwashed hair with my morning coffee.

The Oxen of the Sun 8:47 AM  

As a low-intermediate crossworder who usually stalls out after Wednesday and can get through about 1/2 a sunday in about an hour i thought this puzzle was incredibly fun and pleasing! There were some corners that I got stuck in but could piece the letters in by working around the symmetry of the squares.

joho 8:49 AM  

@DanaJ ... that, too, was my "ugh" in this puzzle. I would have preferred something like "West Wing actor" for the clue.

That was my only "ugh." I thought the theme was worthy of a Wednesday when we're expecting some kind of gimmick. I liked it.

I loved HEARTHS next to EMBERS. In in the middle OVER and ABOVE intersect. That's cool.

Thank you, Tim Wescott!

Alex 8:55 AM  

Having noticed the theme (as usual didn't even notice there was a NOTE) would have helped with my little Natick from not having seen A Chorus Line and not knowing EVAN PICONE. That last N seemed to have several possibilities (PICORE, PICOLE, PICetc).

Otherwise no problem. Impressed by the construction after the fact now that I've been told the theme but at the time the only note I took of it was that CHAS/CHASMS crossing seemed kind of cheap.

foodie 9:04 AM  

I had noticed the repeats in two adjacent sides of the squares, but did not bother look further until I read Rex's comments and realized that all sides of the square are involved! Doh! It really is an impressive feat of construction. However, because of the nature of the theme, the fill felt a little repetitive --and easy because it's malapop city!

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

Really appreciate the diagonal symmetry of the squares! Fun!

Charles Bogle 9:21 AM  

agree w @joho; @oxen in the sun also makes good point. I always appreciate puzzles like this where it's clear the constructor put a lot of time and thought into everything; it doesn't have the look and feel of being "phoned in"; and, for an intermediate type, it's "doable"--also, little if any conventional fill or "spoor"
Nice job Tim Wescott!

dk 9:28 AM  

err... camping in New Mexico and I have that certain SHEEN.

Busy grossing out the Starbuck's patrons with the above mentioned hair condition, dirty clothes, 3 day growth of stubble and the speed at which I solved this puzzle.

Climbed a teener (mountain over 13,000) and will have reoccurring nightmares of falling off cliffs for the next few weeks, but with the full moon, late spring flowers, etc. it is all worth it.

OK, on to Albuquerque (would love to see that on a grid) and perhaps a shower.

ta ta 4 now, dk

treedweller 9:29 AM  

Ah, so this is where my Tuesday puzzle went!

Bonus points for the two TREES.

I saw several places where words intersected with themselves, but didn't catch on to the squares until I came here.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

With words it's a word square, with numbers it's a magic square.

mac 9:50 AM  

Thank you Rex, didn't notice the Note and didn't investigate the several repetitions I noticed.... Like CC, my fastest Wednesday ever. I also like the hearths and the embers next to each other. Schmo is different from a dork to me too.

I never heard of the word cab-over (how do you parse it?), but it does make a lot of sense.

Yesterday fingers through brylcreemed hair, today greasy hair, what happened to the breakfast test?

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Best Wednesday time ever, just like a monday, one smoke. I found 9 + shaped like words as in NW corner ope crossing ope. Makes more sense to me than bing across and gate down. Maybe its just me. Golfballman

Glitch 10:13 AM  

For enquiring minds,

The truck with the vertical front, is a semi, with the CAB OVER the engine.

You may have seen one *open* at a highway rest area, it's hinged about at the front bumper, and the whole cab tips forward to access the engine.

.../Glitch

mccoll 10:14 AM  

Easy puzzle but a tour de force of construction. I liked it and did actually use the theme crosses now and then to confirm letters.While i solve on paper and don't time myself, this was a pretty quick Wednesday. Thanks TW and RP.

Arby 10:27 AM  

Couldn't finish because I didn't know "emmets" or "Adit". I also misspelled PNOM as PNAM, so couldn't figure out SCHMO. Other than that, finished pretty quickly. What's the time penalty for one incorrect and two empty squares?

Didn't see the note, but did notice the repeats. Must have been difficult to construct, and may have helped me out with my problem in the NE if I had known the gimmick while solving.

Ulrich 10:28 AM  

To me, a really fantastic puzzle--I would put it on the list of contenders for best Wednesday of the year, some iffy clueing notwithstanding (agree on the DORK/SCHMO nit). Magic word squares are not any old gimmick--they are a natural extension of a word grid, and if they observe xword symmetry at the same time, I can only rise for a standing ovation.

COIXT RECORDS 10:39 AM  

Great puzzle! I don't understand the complaints about this type of theme...if you don't care about the secondary aspect of the puzzle (which is only supposed to be a fun extra anyway), why not just ignore it and treat it as a themeless or something. And hey, at least there aren't any circled letters or coloring instructions to annoy you this time! ;)

archaeoprof 10:39 AM  

I second Ulrich's motion: best Wednesday of the year so far.

Easy, yes, but all the way through I kept thinking "something's going on here..."

Thanks, Rex, for explaining it.

retired_chemist 10:41 AM  

Enjoyed it. Easy. Some fun fill but nothing remarkable. Thought the theme was the use of a sequence of letters for both the across and the corresponding down clue, sort of like @foodie saw. Had to come here to see it was “magic squares,” a new concept to me. That was a well done feat of construction, even if I missed it.

I have known several Emmet(t)s, none evoking particularly fond memories. Wish I knew Emmett Smith (of Dallas Cowboys and now Dancing with the Stars fame) – that would raise the bar.

Wasn’t EWES EWSED in a clue yesterday? PNOM is just ugly, deserving of a poison PENH letter.

Agree that Dork is not a great clue for 9D SCHMO. Knew Monroe LA, and I suspect that Wes T. Monroe was named for Monroe the City, not directly for President Wes T. (love it!) Monroe.

Z.J. Mugildny 10:42 AM  

I don't think the magic squares really do much for the solver. They don't give you much of an "aha" moment, but overall I think this puzzle was a success. The construction is impressive, and the fill is mostly smooth and lively. Also, it's something different -- unusual theme and grid shape -- which is appreciated.

XMAN 10:45 AM  

Thought I'd HADIT at ADIT/EMMETS, but brazened it out with the T. Of course, if I'd known the theme, it would have been a cunch, as was the rest of the puzz.

Nonetheless, this is a constructor's tour-de-force, and a pleasure to behold.

Mary Kay Stoloski 10:46 AM  

Doesn't it help with the 'oomph factor' that the centers of the squares were also repeats of their crossings?

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Rex, you have the terminology wrong. Word squares and magic squares are completely different things. They both go back thousands of years, they're both square, but they have nothing else in common.

In a magic square, each row, column and diagonal add up to the same total. For example:

2 7 6
9 5 1
4 3 8

HudsonHawk 10:49 AM  

The word squares were pretty cool. Overall, just an OK puzzle, though. Didn't care for the partials as much:

HAS A HEART
HAS HE
HAD IT

Rex, as a Sawx fan, I'm surprised you didn't refer to 45A as Bucky F&*%$ng DENT. Legend has it that he was using a corked bat. (For non-baseball fans, Dent was a very light-hitting shortstop that hit a game changing home run in the 1978 play-in game that decided the A.L. East championship. Every Boston fan that I know still uses that epithet).

Two Ponies 10:54 AM  

Nice Wed. puzzle to solve but must have been difficult to construct. Well done Mr. Wescott.
I knew cab over from that CBer trucking song Convoy.
I would not have gotten rum punch from an Elmore Leonard clue but thanks to some discussion here recently have have started reading his work and I like it.
Emmets is a great word of the day but I doubt I will see it outside of xwords.
Just back from a week in Jamaica where I had plenty of rum punch. I grabbed a NYTs at an airport Monday and cracked up at seeing Ras Tafari after being surrounded by dreadlocks all week. It had been 30 years since I had been to Negril and was so pleased to see that much of what I loved about the place had not changed. It was a wonderful week.

PIX 11:02 AM  

Yes, easy for a Wednesday, but I didn't fully understand the whole world square business until I read about it here...so deceptively challenging. Great fun!

@ 14A:
QUEEN MARGARET: How fares my lord? Help, lords! the king is dead.

SOMERSET: Rear up his body; wring him by the nose.

QUEEN MARGARET: Run, go, help, help! O Henry, ope thine eyes!

King Henry VI, part II > Act III, scene II

foodie 11:10 AM  

@ Mary Kay Stoloski, you know, you're right. It's an amazing feature! I started to say that this is dictated by the other requirement, the identity in the perimeter. But that is only true for the 3x3 squares, where there is no way that the central crossing is not the same word. But for 4x4 and especially 5x5, this is an additional feature. For example, for the NE, one could have had:

CRAM
RATE
ALIT
METS

(RALE as in a breathing sound; ATIT as in "I've been AT IT for hours").

This would meet the perimeter identity but not the central rotational identity criterion, and is a lot easier to pull off.

I think for this puzzle to have risen to ORYX level, the cluing should have been more interesting/clever. Construction-wise, the more I think about it, the more I admire it : )

jeff in chicago 11:19 AM  

I filled this in so fast I never noticed the gimmick until after I was done. Having read the note, I looked closer and saw ABOVE crossing *ABOVE* and several other similar crossings, but did not totally parse the "magic squares." So overall it seemed a bit too east for a Wednesday, but I am impressed by the construction and had fun with the solve. The 5X5 square in the middle seems particularly good.

"101 Uses..." was in the back of my brain, and I got the right answer, but I was confusing those cartoons with "Kliban's Cats" by B. Kliban. Kliban also did some non-cat work, much of it...shall we say...subversive. My favorite is this one. Slight crude. Proceed at your own risk. (Sorry to derail!)

misterarthur 11:32 AM  

Don't forget rude and rude (NW)

Doug 11:54 AM  

Had no clue there was an added feature, and was more pleased to be surprised here than I would have been doing the puzzle.

What I most liked is that there was a lot of fill that I've never seen before, not just in a puzzle, but ever. And it was gettable, as opposed to regular Friday/Saturday fare that's just impossible if you're not into Eng Lit and opera.

jimmy d 12:12 PM  

Excellent puzzle, thoroughly enjoyed it!!

Favorite part: BUCKY F'N DENT!!!! Go Yankees!!!

tekchic 12:22 PM  

My fastest Wednesday time ever, liked both the clues and answers. Cranked through this one before bed on my iPhone last night.

I will call on the Emperor's New Clothes though... I can't see it/the gimmick? I'm looking at the solved puzzle -- I don't see the picture I'm supposed to see. I'll keep staring at it. Maybe I'll have an AHA moment. :)

tekchic 12:28 PM  

Aah I see it now, not so much a picture like I thought...more of a letter arrangement in the grid. Cool. Don't think I'd have seen that without Rex pointing it out and me re-reading it a few times haha :)

fergus 12:37 PM  

I think the Note should have added that the solver should examine extra closely the intricacy therein.

What would one call a Malapop BINGE?

retired_chemist 12:46 PM  

@ fergus and lots of others - The word "malapop" confuses me. I don't see an operational definition emerging from its frequent uses here. Is is a humorous form of the word "malaprop?"

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

Very very impressive construction, Tim. I am only now, a half hour after completing, discovering how intricate the grid was. Remarkable really.

Jim in Chicago 12:49 PM  

I'm normally not a big fan of theme puzzles since it can make for a very awkward puzzle. This one was a nice compromise, since it could have stood on its own without the theme. Getting the word square thing early on made an already easy puzzle even easier, and this was probably my fastest Wednesday ever.

Karen from the Cape 12:55 PM  

I read the central clue as a trunk with a vertical facing, and thought that CABOVER was a completely new term, probably related to wines. The truck makes much more sense.

I knew EMMETS (from xwords), but don't know Evan Picone.

Fast for a Wednesday.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

can someone please explain the ants/EMMETS thang.. thanks!

chefwen 1:01 PM  

I don't time myself but I seemed to have whipped through this one and was done before I could even enjoyed myself. Was trying to get it done before a friend was going to stop over for an EVENING glass/bottle of wine, and it worked. Didn't really get the theme, noticed the recurring words/letters but did not take the time to figure it out until I came here. Only write over was SOR over DAR.

Glitch 1:27 PM  

@r_c

Coined here (I believe), malapop is when an answer turns out to be incorrect, but *pops up* somewhere else as correct.

@anon 1:01

See Rex's writeup, it's the word of the day.

.../Glitch

fergus 1:39 PM  

I think it was Acme who coined the Malapop term. Another local coinage, Neon, still confuses me, though.

andrea f&^%ing michaels 1:46 PM  

Wow. You're right, the more you look the more it grows on you.
I have to admit I totally didn't get what was going on till this discussion.
I thought it was words that he had added an extra letter on to many times
(eg Heart and then Hearth, uber and Tuber) that I thought it was a reverse of what you try to avoid while constructing...

(like that NOGO/IGO) so it's incredible now that it's been explained to me)

@Retired_chemist
Love the poison penh joke!
and the ewe was sort of a bleed over, tho today's actual bleed over word is OMEGA
(I'm still in shock that there is one a day, and as I've mentioned before for many years I thought that was intentional and that you were supposed to find the word that was in yesterday's puzzle!)

As for malapop, I guess I'm the most guilty of using/abusing it...and having coined it, I'll try and explain it again (or at least how I intended it)

It's when you put in a word that turns out to be wrong, but then later turns out to be in the grid in an entirely different place with an entirely different context.

(So not just if there are two words that could be the same (like RANT/RAVE and is RANT in one place and RAVE in the other and you just misentered...)

I'm trying to think of an example.
Say you conflate an author...like there is a clue for some English book you confuse with Lucky Jim and you enter AMIS which is totally wrong. But later in the puzzle they ask for "Friends in France" and the answer is...AMIS!
The first AMIS you entered for the author (which turned out to be KANT or someone else) would be the MALAPOP...bec you popped it in and it was wrong, but was later right for something else.
AND YES< it was supposed to also be a play on the word malaprop (that is the extra magic square connect the dots bonus of it all!)

Pfew! Is that clear (er)?

fikink 2:00 PM  

@andrea, that is why we love you!
@foodie, the more you write, the more I appreciate this puzzle.
@fergus, I think "neon" is an EdeeB thing, kinda like my "looper."
@jeffinchicago, great cartoon!

p.s. @Daniel, glad you returned and, yes, that was a highly-nuanced lure :)

Amanda 2:14 PM  

But, do you know Arthur Ashe, Zombie Slayer? http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=51681359439

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

Half of my brain wants to give this puzzle a 10, the other half a 2. The solve was pretty boring, because you just kept typing in the same words, but in retrospect the 10 rating popped up because of the construction feat. Unfortunately, you just can't average the two.

None of this is as interesting however as the insect activity outside my office. I spent the spring watching with amazement at the fearless and tireless guardianship of the carpenter bees protecting their nests in the eaves of my building. They've been replaced by hornets of some kind which have take over, and are carrying back nesting material of, in relationship to their body mass and size, epic proportions.

PlantieBea 2:33 PM  

I loved this puzzle and its symmetry! I buzzed through it last night. For me, the low difficulty level didn't take away from the pleasure of figuring out the gimmick.

When I was in grad school taking a course in crystallography, we had to examine pieces of wallpaper to identify types of symmetry. This puzzle felt like that exercise all over again. Although I don't like to mark up my puzzles, I did run lines through the reflected letters and was delighted to see the rotational symmetry of the each word square hold through. Nice construction, Tim Wescott!

I could tell something was up as soon as I filled the first two repeats. However, when I filled in CABOVER in the center, I thought that there might be a C OVER R factor in the nine unusual features mentioned at the top of the puzzle. 10 Down, CRAMMED, a part of the NE magic word square, has this arrangement. Obviously I was overthinking it and made that realization once I completed the thing and found the nine squares.

Favorite corner was the SW with all the C's and H's.

retired_chemist 2:34 PM  

@ glitch & acme - thanks for the malapop explanation.

Daniel Myers 2:59 PM  

Anent EMMET---I've never heard this apparently still current use (according to the OED) because I grew up in Surrey, not along the Cornish coast. But, as of 1984 at any rate, Cornwall residents still called touristy types EMMETS due to their slow pace. Perhaps residents of NYC can relate.

@fikink - Thanks, and a very successful - ambiguous as well as nuanced - lure at that.:)

mac 3:00 PM  

@Glitch: thank you, I do remember seeing those tipped-over cabins in parking lots.

I haven't seen the name Evan Picone on a lable for a very long time. The 101 uses.... made me think of my Australian cookbook: 101 ways to cook a sheep.

This morning, on the car radio, I heard that Bucky F. Dent will be in New Jersey today, in a town I can't spell the name of. O, and I found out that Hall & Oates are coming to Connecticut soon!

Anonymous 3:05 PM  

i thought this was much easier than yesterdays. Saw the symmetry right away which helped a lot. Stumbled on EMMETS and SCHMO intersection for a while.

fikink 3:09 PM  

All this time, I believed Brother Dit that "Bucky Dent" was the Ipana toothpaste mascot's real name. He even told me that the "Dent" referred to Bucky's two front teeth!

Clark 3:27 PM  

Put me in the Loved This Puzzle camp. A couple of times I noticed that the same word seemed to appear twice, and I stopped to see how that was happening without breaking a rule. When I finished I went looking for something that had been done 9x. Diagonal strings of 2 identical letters? Way too many. Of 4 (Ss in the SW)? Not enough. . . . Woah! How could so much symmetry have gotten by me? What is cool is that it was done 9 times. Basically, the whole puzzle.

And @Rex, in case you're not feeling the love today, I really enjoyed your write up. Nice gentle humor in the bullets. And I always enjoy the appearances of your wife. (I imagine her to be a more fallible puzzle person, like me!)

@Mac -- 101 Ways to Cook a Sheep reminds me (for no reason that I can think of) of a recipe I have (from the book Slow Food) for "Bear Stew for 4,000 (yield about 550 gallons)." (There's also a version of it for 6 to 8.)

Mike 3:50 PM  

I'm in Rex's camp today, but a bit more positive, an 'okay' puzzle . The gimmick has been used before in Games mag. Glad to have found Rex and Amy's blogs, as an alternative to the corporate/official blog (the NYT?) can appear self-serving, with constructors giving each props for 'innovation';it's a conflict of interest IMO......

your independent blogs are very helpful, and I loved the variety of comments. glad to have found these.......thx

edith b 4:34 PM  

@fergus-

I use the word NEON to describe what others call a "gimme" because it is something that stands out from the page and I dislike the word gimme. An expression of individuality, as it were. Thanks, fikink.

I saw what was happening with this puzzle, being a leisurely solver and all, but a secondary puzzle built around words like TREES PRAY HEART do not thrill me.

I recognize it as a feat of construction that adds nothing to the puzzle IMHO.

chefwen 5:00 PM  

O.K. gross recipe of the day from my West Kauai's Plantation Heritage cookbook, under the Korean section - Dog Soup (Yukijang) 2 large pieces black dog, beef brisket, or flank steak, and so on...

Sorry Rex, I know this isn't a cooking blog.

Martin 5:30 PM  

The recipe is likely not very authentic based on the title. Yukejang (not yukijang) is any meat soup. Dog soup specifically is bosinjang.

Koreans raise a special breed for food. They are very fond of other breeds as pets. Somehow they view them as different creatures entirely. Talk about compartmentalizing.

acme 5:37 PM  

waaah. I know there is a tie in with "101 ___ for a dead cat", it's not my blog, etc. but can we not go here? It's totally upsetting me.
Can we YIP this thread in the tail?

Bill from NJ 5:39 PM  

@Two Ponies-

I remember the song Convoy also and the line "a cabover Pete with a Reefer on" was confusing to me.

I asked a truck driver friend what that meant and he told me it was a Refrigerated Truck manufactured by Peterbilt with a sleeping compartment over the cab.

Clear as mud, eh?

Clark 5:51 PM  

@acme --

I hear you. How's this. Right now there are about 1001 swifts and swallows flying around right outside my window eating what must be about 10001 bugs, with an occasional seagull flying through the wild tangle. And my two very much alive cats are loving every minute of it (from their perches on this side of the glass).

treedweller 6:28 PM  

Bucky F'n Dent! (and, yes, I am planning to begin using that as an interjection unrelated to baseball or the man.) I just realized the full extent of the gimmick. At first, even after Rex explained it, I only noticed the outer edges of the squares. Now I see the middles work too. Pretty impressive, IMO. Without getting any of it while solving, I finished the puzzle faster than Mon or Tues, so I still think it was too easy, but that's a scheduling complaint, not a puzzle complaint.

Steve 6:40 PM  

I found more types of "gimmicks" in each of the nine sections.
1. The 9 magic squares (mentioned)
2. 19 examples of 3x3 symmetry. For example in northeast:
CRA
R
A
3. One 3x3 cross of identical letters in each of the nine sections. Example in northwest:
O
OPE
E
4. The diagonal string of A's, S's and H's noted by Rex.

Quite a feat done without having to "stretch" spellings!

Two Ponies 6:57 PM  

@ Bill from NJ, Good to hear from you and to know that I'm not the only one who remembered the song. Big Ben this here's the Rubber Duck!
@ acme I don't want to hear about dead cats either and even less about dog recipes! That is the prime reason I will never travel to the Far East.

Ulrich 8:34 PM  

@acme, TwoPonies: I would have said I'm your soulmate, but that seems to imply now that (1) I'm Argentinian; and (2) I'm the mistress of a Southern governor--last time I checked, neither appears to be true...

retired_chemist 8:50 PM  

To counteract the depressing influence of dog recipes I give you photos of our two week old puppies.

PlantieBea 9:04 PM  

@Retired Chemist--they are absolutely adorable! Now that's a better way to end this day's commentary.

archaeoprof 9:43 PM  

Break 1-9 for Bill in NJ:

"a cabover Pete with a reefer on,
and a Jimmy haulin' hogs"

Oh what fun that CB fad was...

mac 9:52 PM  

@Bill in NJ (Hi!) and archeoprof (Hi to you too!): what we don't learn on this blog!

@ret-chem: wonderful puppies, and digging a little deeper I saw your and your wife's photo as well! My favorite was the one of Dylan in the field, though.

sanfranman59 10:16 PM  

This week's numbers ... the numbers in parentheses are the number of solvers.

Mon (all) 6:38 (879) prev 4 week avg: 6:51 (898)
Mon (Top 100) 3:24 prev 4 week avg: 3:43

Tue (all) 9:25 (848) prev 4 week avg: 8:32 (844)
Tue (Top 100) 4:50 prev 4 week avg: 4:21

Wed (all) 8:17 (795) prev 4 week avg: 13:58 (652)
Wed (Top 100) 4:26 prev 4 week avg: 6:19

Based strictly on the online solve times, this was an extremely easy solve for a Wednesday puzzle. I guess it qualified for a Wednesday based on the word square gimmick. Like others, I couldn't see the theme until after I finished it last night. Even then, I needed to consult Orange's blog to get it. An amazing feat of construction to be sure, but if it's lost on so many, what's the point?

chefwen 10:27 PM  

@retired_chemist - Yes that was definetly the best way to end the disgusting commentary that I started.

The puppies are absolutely adorable and the big guy, veerrry handsome!

Two Ponies 10:59 PM  

@r_c, Bravo on the beautiful pups.
I have a Dylan as well but he is a Cairn Terrier.
Thanks for sharing.
@ulrich I'm usually tuned into you and your humor but you have me stumped this time. Must be the pinot grigio.

Ulrich 10:17 AM  

@Two Poinies: Sanford called his love interest in Argentina his "soul mate"--admittedly a little weak on the humor side--must be the Shiraz.

WilsonCPU 11:47 AM  

Another "Late Notes from SyndicationLand":
I was impressed by this construction, enough that I added up all the theme squares (125!), and found there were more of those than non-theme letter squares (62) and black squares (38) put together!
I find that amazing.
Yeah, I really should get a life...

Singer 11:47 AM  

So is there a joke in there somewhere about the 5th president? The 5th president was James, not Wes T. I don't get it. Puzzle comment: too easy for Wednesday. I didn't see the note until I came here. I do like the construction and feel it to be masterful, but this is really a Tuesday puzzle unless you throw in that you have to find the theme in order to qualify as having solved the puzzle.

Singer 11:53 AM  

Oh, and by the way, I do understand that the name of the town is West Monroe.

Waxy in Montreal 5:50 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 5:52 PM  

SyndiComment:

They've forgotten the note in my paper! Not really needed though to determine that special constructs abound...

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