Prelate's title /THU 9-2-10/ Dashiell Hammett hero Beaumont / Initials 1967 Beatles song / Nautilus leader / Active volcano near Messina

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Constructor: Patrick Blindauer & Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: EVERY ACROSS / ANSWER READS FROM / RIGHT TO LEFT (24A: Start of instructions for solving this puzzles) — just what the instructions say; note that with the exception of the instructions, all the answers look just fine in the grid (i.e. all non-theme Across answers look like regular crossword entries, reading *left to right* just fine)

Word of the Day: RT. REV. (11D: Prelate's title: Abbr.) —

Right Reverend
• • •

Well, I'm not a huge fan of stunt puzzles most of the time, because the stunt tends to be an architectural feat accomplished only by gutting the puzzle of solving pleasure. Today, I feel that way a little—got the gimmick early, in the NW (where I started), and then spent the rest of the puzzle simply dutifully filling in a grid with lots of short and mostly ordinary fill. It's just that I was entering the Across fill backwards. Would have been an "Easy" puzzle had I done it on paper, but because of the way the cursor works on my software, I couldn't simply enter stuff backwards; I had to imagine how it was spelled backwards, and then enter it that way. This is an important difference. If I'd done it on paper, I wouldn't have lost time thinking of how to spell something backwards. I'd just have started the answer on the right and written leftwards. Anyway, this is immaterial, really. The point is, I was not thrilled. Then I finished and noticed that all of the backwards Across answers also made perfectly good non-backwards words (or abbrevs. or other xword fill). *That* impressed me. But still, it was a belated impression. Not a lot of grid interest when you've got no non-theme Across answer longer than 5 letters. PATRON SAINT (6D: Denis, to France) and CHOREOGRAPH (25D: Stage) are nice, but otherwise, this is just a dull puzzle that's been flipped around.

Biggest struggle was in and around RT. REV., and abbrev. I've never seen. I have *heard* the term "Right Reverend," which is the only thing that allowed me to leave that corner as is. I could imagine a valid answer, and everything else looked good, so I moved on. Never heard of a few things: PER curiam is new to me (33D: ___ curiam (like some court rulings)), as is this clue for RAJA (AJAR in the grid) (63A: The Blue ___ (Hank Azaria's "Mystery Men" role)). That is not a movie most people saw, and today, I am most people. Wanted ANAT. for ASTR. (26D: College sci. class), and needed almost every cross to understand LOFT (27D: Overhead cost for an artist?) — I had LAMP at first. It makes (a kind of ) sense, I swear.

  • 44A: Dashiell Hammett hero ___ Beaumont (NED) — "The Glass Key" is an interesting, strange novel. NED Beaumont is *always* referred to as "NED Beaumont," full name.
  • 68A: Divisions politiques (STATE, i.e. ETATS) — Love this one. French word for "states," spelled backwards, is "STATE."
  • 35D: Much-discussed initials of a 1967 Beatles song (L.S.D.) — I have no idea what was "much-discussed" or why. I wasn't alive. Aah, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," of course. Here's's take on the alleged drug reference.

  • 15D: John who co-starred in "Sands of Iwo Jima" (AGAR) — whoa, that's a new AGAR clue (to me). Six movies with John Wayne, but then a lot of B-movies, including such promising titles as "The Mole People" and "Tarantula."
  • 46D: Bit of A/V equipment (MIC) — slowed me down a bit. I wanted MAC, and before that I didn't know what I wanted because I had ALTI (ITLA) instead of ACRO (ORCA) (56D: Height: Prefix).

If you don't know about it yet, be sure to check out Patrick Blindauer's new puzzle website—he's one of the most consistently entertaining constructors around, and his site offers a new free puzzle every month.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


nanpilla 12:14 AM  

Loved the puzzle! The fact that it took me forever to figure out the trick probably added to my delight when I finally "got" it. The fact that they are all valid crossword entries reading left to right is amazing. Only two palindromes - and symmetrically placed at that.

Thanks, acme/pauer!

des 12:23 AM  

I got the theme trick quickly, in the North where 5D LTD and 6D SIE cleared up my search for 14A ITSA (girl) and 18A EDIT. Since I soon recognized that all the answers were words in both directions (except for the theme clues!), I used that to help finish the puzzle. My only other stuggle was in the SW because I didn't know 58A ROOD, although I got it from the crosses (I had to use Google to find the meaning).
Rex - I was expecting you to use that as the word of the day. Oh well, wrong again.

Clark 12:31 AM  

Two of my favorite things: Thursday and Andrea. Took me a while. I would put in a bunch of acrosses and then take them out again to put in some downs. I was sure of PER curiam. (Sometimes the Supreme Court issues an opinion per curiam, by the court -- an opinion that is usually short and is not signed by any individual justice.) From that I saw that EIRE was backwards. It still took me a while to figure out what the rule was.

Nice job BP and MCA.

SethG 12:31 AM  

Found the gimmick right away, and realized right away that the entries worked in both directions. Loved it. Otherwise, found the puzzle a bit sloggish.

Someday I will not confuse Orange Glo with Miracle Gro. And LT REV sorta almost makes sense. It took me far longer to identify that error than it did to solve the rest of the puzzle.

Zeke 12:32 AM  

It's not a good sign when you're in mid solve and you begin to wonder if this would be less painful for someone fluent in a Semitic language, where right to left is the norm.

Great conceit, probably unimaginably difficult to find 36 words which are each words spelled backwards and fit, but once you get the idea, less fun to finish. I may retract that, as I felt compelled to finish. Not really sure

CoffeeLvr 2:20 AM  

Well, I did it, and liked it despite the very real struggles. First teased out the bassackward theme in N. Calif, thanks to ROTOR as a rack for the downs, and eventually saw SPIT/TIPS. Just as I sometimes have trouble seeing or spelling a long Down answer, I found it very hard to recognize a reversed answer from partial crosses.Got the instructions sorted out almost at the end. Loved seeing that the Acrosses were words either direction.

Thanks to ACM and pauer for a challenge that had me turning the light back on so I could finish this one.

Steve J 3:17 AM  

Well, I don't know what to think of this. Perhaps on another night where I had more time/patience (I'm trying to both get packed for a very long vacation to a place very far away, and to finish off some of the enormous pile of work I should get done before I go), I would have been able to figure out the trick. But I didn't have the time nor patience to do so, and I finally caved in after about the amount of time it should have taken me to solve a Thursday.

I sat staring at stuff that made no sense, where I had crosses that I knew had to be right, but the letters just weren't fitting together. I picked up that there was some trick going on in the NW, almost instantly when ENOLA (well, ALONE) and SPAMS wouldn't go together. I had stuff like that littered all over the puzzle. Reversing things didn't occur to me.

Add in that the instructions weren't really revealed by crosses, because I now trusted absolutely nothing I was doing, and I was stuck (especially since I tend to take a pass through accrosses before downs).

Now that I see that all of the backwards accross answers were valid the other direction, I'm very impressed. But I didn't really enjoy being completely stumped. I'll chalk that up to my fatigue and stress, though.

In the midst of all that, there was some nice cluing. The dirty middle-aged man in me chuckled at the multiple Penthouse clues. And I loved the reference to "Mystery Men." Excellent movie, and anyone who likes superhero stuff should enjoy the very respectful spoof that it is.

r.alphbunker 4:57 AM  

I didn't realize that all the across words were also "backwords" until I was checking my answers at the end. What a nice surprise! I started the Fireball puzzle right afterwards and it initially felt odd that the acrosses were not backwards.

Falconer 6:05 AM  

Absolute ''backasswords'' awesomeness-- loved it! At first, I was muttering to my wife that something was up with this puzzle. A rebus? I was sure about Spams, Peels and Enola in the northwest but they wouldn't fit. Then realized SIE had to be right, and LTD had to be right, and 17A had to be EDIT, and suddenly, sproing!, it came to me -- the trick was backwards acrosses.

I love self-referential, nested puzzles in which a code must be cracked to solve other codes. This is exactly the kind of challenge that makes crosswords fresh, fun and invigorating. And when you see the constructors were able to make all the backward words read forward, an already inventive puzzle was revealed to be fully mind-blowing.

Thanks Patrick and Andrea for an amazing Thursday effort.

Glimmerglass 8:32 AM  

Tumbled to the gimmick almost immediately. Enola Gay is a gimme, and 1D figured to be spams, with lalas, ecole, peels, and recap easy fills. That meant that the "instructions" were easy to fill in with only a few crosses. Very easy for a Thursday. But I loved the fact that the backwards entries were also words.
Does one of you know whether there's a word for a pair of letter-groupings which is a word in both directions? ("Backasswards" doesn't count.) If no literary term exists, it will be necessary for us to invent one.

David L 8:46 AM  

Like RP, I tumbled to the trick early then struggled to enter all the answers backwards in AcrossLite. Very ingenious, if somewhat exasperating to actually solve.

And I liked the fact that the backwards acrosses are real words -- except for 28A, HSI. I assume it must mean something, but it's a mystery to me.

The Big E 8:50 AM  

@ACM - in going with today's theme, this is one LIVE puzzle!!! GAH!
I think I may have done something inaner (hee hee) than anyone else...

Somehow in the SE (having just gone through all the across clues occasionally looking at down clues and getting flummoxed), I decided (without having gotten the theme) that this was some bizarre symmetry thing where every across clue was entered in it's symmetrically opposite location and every down clue was entered upside down. Bottom line, I did not pay attention to the actual "instructions" once I had them in. I was merely uber-impressed with myself for having filled the grid correctly (albeit inverted).
Then when I realized what I was actually SUPPOSED to do, I had to go through each answer and correct them. UGH UGH UGH!!! Doing my little creative inversion not only cost me precious time, but (like Rex) was even more difficult in the software going back and forth between across clues to figure out which was which... OOF...

In my defense, it was late, I was tired, and I WAY over-thought things... Yowzers.

nonetheless, a fun (though trying) puzzle. let me say it again...

David 8:50 AM  

Constructors have to regard this one as a tour de force! We solvers may not be quite as impressed - at least Rex isn't.

When early on fill started going awry - one knows it has to be SPAMS and ENOLA but they simply don't cross - I started thinking rebus. But a rebus for every word?

RMS gave it away to me; TIPS has to end in S and the only S was at the beginning?

Yes it became a bit tedious to enter words backward on AcossLite, but the reward was seeing that all the acrosses were indeed words in their own right. It's a remarkable piece of work - kudos!

jesser 9:05 AM  

There was so much ink blotting on this thing by the time I figured out the trick that I went back and printed the grid anew to make it pretty. Didn't notice that the words worked backward and forward until Rex pointed it out, and that is a beautiful thing, indeed!

With the trick revealed, I had no writeovers, which is a tad rare for a Thursday -- especially a Thursday with a rabbit in its hat.

Loved the clue/answer pairing at 12D. Hated with white-hot passion the answer at 53D. Made me almost as batshit as yesterday's ugly 'PLED.'

Is there anything Hank Azaria *doesn't* do?

Overall, this is a magnificent Thursday puzzle, in my book (with only that one nit cited above). I had quite a few TADAS as I ripped through it. Congrats and thanks, Andrea and Patrick!

Shelter board meeting today, so I won't be able to keep track of the running commentary. I'll check back later, however, as I can't freakin' wait to see the constructors' bon mots!

Sestel! (Wouldn't that have been fun if it worked backward and forward?) -- jesser

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Loved this puzzle! But I got seriously hung up for a while when I erroneously spied a rebus AFTER getting the backwards thing... trying to put A-TT-N for "this might be of interest" and ENRO-LL for the the "matriculate" clue.


Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Brilliant construction. Very enjoyable puzzle.

Joe 9:19 AM  

I figured out the gimmick fairly early as well. And soon after, I realized that the backward entries were words in their own rights. This actually helped me *a lot* with the rest of the solving experience. I loved this. Thanks andrea hilarious middle names always michaels. And Patrick too.

joho 9:28 AM  

I started this late last night and got nowhere. In the light of morning, I got nowhere. I am embarrassed to say I simply didn't ever get it. I gave up because I had to get on with my work day.

Brilliant, Andrea and Patrick! I had sOciOPATH at 51D and wrote in the margin: "You're both sociopaths!" This is a magnificent Thursday, you should be very proud of yourselves.

kiestir ... what I fell on doing this puzzle!

retired_chemist 9:30 AM  

Took me a LONG time to figure out the gimmick because I am an across solver. Then, like Rex, doing it in Across Lite was clunky because of the backward spelling. But it was worth it - nicely done, Patrick and Andrea!

Off to MI today for father-in-law's funeral. He passed yesterday. At 94, lots was wrong with him. He had almost no life and no will to live for the last couple of weeks. He was a really good guy and I wish I had known him longer. Patti and I met in 2005 and were married in 2007,so I knew him only a few years.

Bree is improving and the house sitter is a terrific dog guy, so she will do well while I am gone.

Back Monday probably.

Glitch 9:32 AM  

One of the best "trick" puzzles I've seen in a long time --- Nice job acm & pm!

Being slightly dyslexic actually helped on this one!


The Big E 9:45 AM  

@Patrick Blindauer - I am very sorry for not having included you in my LIVE sentiment, as you were clearly indicated as one of the puzzle's creators. My sincere apologies.
So to you, I say LIVE, TAP, LIVE! (If you don't go by that nickname, I'm sorry - but it helped with the sentiment!!!)

chefbea 9:49 AM  

What a great puzzle!!! Thanks Andrea and Patrick.
Took a while to get going but finally got it all done, and I too did not realize that the words from left to right were actually words also!!!

Now to wait for Earl. Puzzle husband and I are going to the beach in a while to watch the big waves. I'll report more later

hazel 9:56 AM  

Got the gimmick almost immediately - with ORG/GRO and ALONE/ENOLA, in fact.

Had Necco for NILLA for the longest time and spent at least as much time in that corner as I did on the rest of the puzzle.

Pretty cool. What's a HSI though?

The Big E 9:59 AM  

One question - I noticed (for the most part) that the across answers made good answers themselves (even backwards) once I was done, except two:

Shouldn't giro always be gyro no matter the context (as a prefix or as a greek sandwich?) I couldn't find a usage of giro that wasn't so highly esoteric that it, and hsi, made me not want to accept that as an intention in the construction. Am I wrong? Can anyone give me examples of giro or hsi in past puzzles and what their cluing would be? Outside of something REALLY esoteric like "Hang-___ coins of the Ching Dynasty," I definitely can't come up with anything for "hsi."

Again, though, really did have an immense appreciation for this puzzle! LIVE, though... very LIVE! :-)


BostonKen 10:15 AM  

I also got the "backwardness" of the puzzle fairly quickly AND realized that the acrosses were valid answers read left-to-right. That helped in some cases (e.g. I saw that "NECCO" could not be the answer to 55A - "Brand of wafers". Coming from Boston that was a natural association.) Once I got the trick, I enjoyed seeing the reverse words appear.

The only question I have (beside the "HSI" that The Big E questionsed) is what is "TAMA" (59A)? The only TAMA I find is a brand of drums.

Smitty 10:15 AM  

@Rex I had ANAT too and tried LT GEN for RT REV
@Glitch - I'm slightly dyslexic too, but it made things worse - esp. since I'm too blind to see the keyboard...
@Hazel - had NECCO also (a friend used to use them to play "communion" when she was a kid)

I really wanted ORCHESTRATE for stage

Great puzzle! Tricky without being forced.

Sparky 10:20 AM  

Got the trick with RECAP and ENOLA early on but then took a while to realize how many were backward. Lots of filling in and then erasing to change. Bit by bit the light dawned. Started to see the second trick with ROTOR and MADAM but also starting to get a headache and didn't want to bring on a migrane. Never saw the P in PEELS and the P in TOPS so DNF. But I enjoyed the working and head scratching. Thanks Patrick and Andrea.

OldCarFudd 10:23 AM  

I bow in awe.

JC66 10:24 AM  

Hand up for not knowing HSI

Isn't GIRO a greek sandwich on which the hero (pronunciation) sandwich is based?

Also, isn't TAMA Janowitz in the puzzle from time to time?

Van55 10:24 AM  

As gimmick puzzles go, I thought this one was superb. It took me a short while to figure out the game, and once I did, the solve was easy and fun. And there's precious little trite fill, if any. At least none I care to cavil about. Nice job, Patrick and Andrea!

JC66 10:26 AM  

Oh, yeah, great job, ACME & Pauer.

Sparky 10:27 AM  

@retiredChemist. Sorry about your father-in-law. Sincerest sympathy to Patti and you. Safe journey to MI.

David L 10:30 AM  

and another thing, since I'm being picky: AMAT is clued as "word from a Latin lover." But amat means 'he loves.' A Latin lover might well say AMO, and an egocentric Latin lover might say AMAS, but why would a Latin lover say AMAT? A jealous lover about to challenge a rival to a duel, possibly...

I didn't balk at GIRO since I'm familiar with it as a UK term for a kind of bank transfer, but as others have pointed out, the sandwich or the flying machine is GYRO.

Glitch 10:33 AM  

@The Big E and others

Date Clue Author

Sun,6/4/06 Philosopher Chu ___ Patrick Blindauer
Sun, 9/25/05 Chinese philosopher Chu ___ Matt Skoczen
Wed,6/1/05 Fu-___ (legendary Chinese sage) Nick Grivas
Sun, 2/4/01 Fu-___ (legendary Chinese sage) Frank A. Longo

Date Clue Author

Sat, 5/30/09 Big name in cycling helmets Matt Ginsberg
Sat, 4/28/07 Early copter Sherry O. Blackard
Sun, 1/20/02 Early whirlybird Brendan Emmett Quigley
Fri. 12/7/01 Copter's forerunner Joe DiPietro
Fri, 5/1/98 Copter's forerunner John Wolting
Sun, 2/6/94 Copter kin Arthur S. Verdesca


TAMA 17 times, first name of author Janowitz


The Big E 10:49 AM  

@Glitch - thanks! Still not thrilled with them, but appreciate the edification!


JaxInL.A. 10:51 AM  

This puzzle tickled me from start to end. Got the trick pretty fast with SIE, LTD and EDIT and then ENOLA let me know that the words read both ways.

Never noticed before that Enola is Alone.

I actually know a wonderful Enola (Aird) who thinks profound thoughts on parenting, culture, and public policy, so I love to see her in a grid. Google her.

I, too, protest ISH and GIRO but for heavens sake, I've seen much worse transgressions in theme puzzles.

Thanks for a solving romp that kept me smiling this morning.

ArtLvr 10:55 AM  

Brilliant and fun, but quite dizzying. Congrats to Patrick and Aerdna. A TOUR de force, not a ROUT, but it definitely should not be FACED with DECAF rather than strong coffee...

For me, the palindrome which morphs into an entirely different word backward is a malindrome!


Two Ponies 10:59 AM  

Fantastic puzzle!
My right brain got a good workout.
This must have been a real bear to construct. I can hardly wait to hear what Andrea and Patrick have to say. I'll be SO disappointed if they don't drop by.

Off to Ohio in the morning to meet PuzzleMate's 96 year old grandfather. I suggested this trip so that the visit would be a happy one unlike @ret_chem's. Sorry.

joho 11:07 AM  

I see Giro bike helmets everywhere including on my own head.

Mel Ott 11:15 AM  

Great puzzle!

Took some trial and error with different letter substitutions before I got the theme. Once I did and proceeded to fill in the the grid I was pleasantly surprised (and amazed!) to see that the acrosses spelled real words when read from left to right. That was the real payofff for me.

Very well done, indeed.

chaos1 11:16 AM  

First, I need to remind everyone how much I detest gimmick puzzles.

Second, I need to admit that I loved this one. Mostly because the construction was, IMHO, brilliant.

I knew deceit was going on immediately in the NW. It took me longer than it should have, to realize that all the D's were correct, and that all the A's were backward. I wasn't too concerned about the theme clues after that, knowing that they would fill themselves in.

That being said, I was very impressed upon completion, when realizing that all the across clues looked like a normal grid. Brilliant! Think Guinness commercials. Brilliant! No real "natick" crossings for experienced solvers. Congrats to Patrick, Andrea (WOTD) Michaels, and of course, Will.

I was surprised that so many fellow bloggers mentioned HSI and TAMA.

ISH, is commonly used crossword fill, much like EST or ETTE. ISH is usually clued as " Sorta ending maybe? " while EST is usally clued " Superlative ending." I see no nit for that application.

As to TAMA, here again, crosswords 101. It's not what a Latin lover would say, but a phrase that a lover of Latin would be very familiar with. AMO, AMAS, AMAT.

Excellent puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Sorry that the letter U wasn't allowed to participate in today's fun. :-(

80-words! Or 116 words, dependin' on how you look at it. [But then, where's the rest of the clues?!] More for yer money!! Thumbs up.

Cheer up, 44... or, I'll have to start includin' a joke at the end of each of my comments. [You **really** don't want to hear my jokes.]

ArtLvr 11:38 AM  

@retired_chemist -- all my sympathy to you and your bride on the death of her father... It was good that there was hospice at the end.

David L 11:52 AM  

@glitch - thanks!

But really, Fu-Hsi, legendary Chinese sage? Not that legendary, if the response of this crowd is anything to go by!

He who is without title 11:54 AM  

About Rtrev: Catholics have quite an involved hierarchy involving their clergy: reverend, monsignor, bishop, archbishop, cardinal, pope are some titles, each being addressed differently. A bishop is called right reverend. As it happens, I played organ in a parish whose pastor was a bishop. (He's now rector at St. Joe's Seminary in Yonkers NY.) Nobody in the parish called him right reverend. We just called him Bishop Walsh. While the right reverend title is a proper title, its use is somewhat arcane, at least so it seems to me here around NYC.

I'm not certain if their are other Christian denominations that use this title.

dk 12:25 PM  


It goes without saying I have a great deal of respect for both Andrea and Patrick as constructors but....

** (2 Stars). I don't like tricks, rebuses etc. So in the land of the lost where these types of puzzles are enjoyed it appears many of my puzzlemates liked this one.

Figured out there was some kind of trick. Proceeded with the downs as I ran my puzzle trick decoder.

Backwards SLOP and BON opened my eyes. Once I got the trick the fill seemed very easy for a Thursday.

Also wanted necco for NILLA.

HudsonHawk 12:36 PM  

Greetings from the left coast. I took a new job in Newport Beach last month, so haven't been a regular solver lately. But I saw on fb that Andrea & Patrick were responsible for today's puzzle and stopped off at Starbuck's to grab the paper.

I've actually seen Mystery Men and liked it. Thus I knew Blue RAJA, but wasn't sure if it was Raja or Rajah, so went looking for a rebus. FLO-JO cleared that up and revealed the reversal, and then things fell pretty easily. Enjoyed it (especially that they all work in reverse--I like the Malindrome term, @ArtLvr), but I sympathize with Rex. Valid points.

shrub5 12:50 PM  

This puzzle was a masterful achievement for the constructors but for me, the solver, not much fun at all. It took me a while to figure out the trick. Still, it was a big, fat DNF...ran out of time and enthusiasm.

I did appreciate some clever clues: Voyage kickoff (BON/NOB) and Late-night beverage (DECAF/FACED.)
Not sure I get PRESSERS/clue??

Tinbeni 1:06 PM  

Simply a FUN Thursday solve.

Thank you Andrea & Patrick.

Tonight's toast is to You!

fikink 1:08 PM  

Ditto everything @Falconer said (for the second day in a row!). This was my kinda puzzle.

Thanks Patrick, Andrea for the joy of it.

@Retired_chemist, safe travels to your FIL farewell. Glad Bree is in good hands.

foodie 1:12 PM  

Genius! It was simply awesome. Not only because one admires the brilliance of the constructors, but because as a solver, it made me stop and appreciate something about the English language. I had no idea how many words were palindromes. I wonder how true that is in other languages- I definitely feel it would not be true in Arabic. But may be in Latin-based languages?

Having grown up reading/writing both from left to right and right to left was not much of an advantage. It's very context-specific. The letters have to look right to trigger the reading direction.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

To Shrub5:


Think de-creasing.

JC66 1:45 PM  

@ Glitch

Thanks for the info.

I'm not great at spelling so GIRO (GYRO) didn't bother me, but I agree with with @David L about Fu-HSI...pretty arcane.

glimmerglass 1:48 PM  

@Artlvr. I like malindrone! Or maybe morphindrone. Since they're all also anagrams, perhaps it should be echoanagrams. Mirrorgrams? Mirrordrones? Stop me!

fikink 1:57 PM  

Damn, @foodie, you nailed it! That is exactly why I loved this puzzle...for those of us who think in pictures and analogies, this was a wonderful left brain/right brain exercise. And the fact that we consume a word in a snapshot coupled with them being words right to left, left to right is a double WOW!

Zeke 2:01 PM  

@glimmerglass - According to joon (over at LACC), there is a coinage, semordinlaps, which defines them.

lamut 2:07 PM  

Absolutely brilliant! Enter answers backward and have them spell a different word going forward. Wow!

Beautifully done. Thanks for the challenge!

Zeke 2:10 PM  

@Foodie - I was waiting for you to weigh in on whether being a native Arabic reader helped. I hadn't thought of the letter formation being a driver in the reading/writing flow. Thanks.

shrub5 2:40 PM  

@anon 1:32pm
Thank you, thank you!!
I did think of ironing but didn't get the "de-creasing" aspect.

edmcan 3:16 PM  

Quite the conceit all right. Finished it and got the trick fairly quickly, but I found it a slog :-(

PuzzleNut 4:05 PM  

A very enjoyable puzzle. I managed to make it much more difficult than it should have been as I hadn't noticed that EVERY across was backwards until I finished the theme answers. Not sure if I was mislead by the palindromes or what. I also thought some of the DOWN answers might be backwards, but I finally saw they weren't. However, my inability to see this early on made for a much more challenging puzzle.
Also, didn't notice that all the across answers can be read in both directions until coming here, so I am doubly impressed by the puzzle. Next thing we'll see is a puzzle where both the clues AND answers can be read in both directions!!
Can't help but wonder how the collaboration works on something like this. Did one of you come up with the main idea and the other helped fill it? Did you independently come up with the idea and decided to collaborate upon discovering that? Do constructors have weekly parties where you bandy about your ideas? Enquiring minds would like to know?

foodie 4:56 PM  

For me, discovering the secret-- that the across answers were backward did not turn it into an easy puzzle. There were many unknowns remaining, including whether or not the theme answers were going to be oriented consistently with the rest of the puzzle. But it was truly helpful to realize at some point that all the acrosses were words in both directions. And I used this feature to complete several of the answers- For example, I had CROP in lieu of HOOP (or PORC in lieu of POOH) at one point for the circus prop, until I realized that PORC is not a proper English word (it's a French pig)... So, the puzzle was layered and allowed the solver to come at the solution from multiple vantage points. It really is a thing of beauty.

mexgirl 4:58 PM  

Count me in the "fans of this puzzle" club!
I agree with what's been said about how fun (and important) it is to make your brain switch from one side to the other. I enjoyed this a lot!
Thanks PB and ACME for making us think outside of the.....line!

CoolPapaD 4:58 PM  

Amazing, fun, clever, and everything else positive that has been mentioned. Thanks!

sanfranman59 5:07 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Thu 24:39, 19:16, 1.28, 89%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 12:15, 9:15, 1.32, 89%, Challenging

As Rex explains in his write-up, the online solve times for this puzzle are undoubtedly slowed considerably by the fact that there's no good way to type answers backwards in the user interface. I ended up with an average time for me, but it felt like an easy Thursday once I got the trick (which was fortunately fairly early on).

Moonchild 5:41 PM  

What a marvel this was. And what a wonderful thing our crazy language is. I thought the entire concept of the forward/backward theme was very original. I loved the way it made me think. I had to get partially through the grid before I saw the "forward" words emerge and it was a great moment.
If you love words, language, and wordplay how could you not appreciate it?
All of you grouches go to your room and don't come out until you are ready to play nice! (As my mother used to say.)

Bob Kerfuffle 5:46 PM  

Just got to do puzzle late this afternoon, as I was out celebrating my little sister's 62nd birthday.

Don't know if that affected my solving, but, as did PuzzleNut, I floundered around a bit thinking that some of the Down answers were entered bottom to top. Didn't work, of course, and finally finished correctly. Today, I don't think write-overs count.

@foodie - I don't think we could automatically dismiss PORC because it is a French word; what is MAL?

archaeoprof 5:58 PM  

Like @PuzzleNut and @BobKerfuffle, I briefly tried to make the downs go both up and down.

Now wouldn't THAT be a ridiculous feat of construction!

PIX 6:17 PM  

A brilliant puzzle...and an example of why Thursday is the best day of the week in puzzleland.

a grouch 6:43 PM  

Not for me.

Shamik 7:44 PM  

@ret. chemist: Condolences and safe travels. May you all enjoy celebrating this long-lived man!

I am ok that I got a letter wrong. I am ok that my time put me in the challenging time zone. I noticed en route that the words were valid when read L to R. Brilliant construction.

aerdna alrac slaehcim 8:35 PM  


Two Ponies 9:13 PM  

Well-earned smiley face Andrea!

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 7:08, 6:58, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:09, 8:52, 0.81, 3%, Easy
Wed 11:51, 11:44, 1.01, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 24:26, 19:16, 1.27, 89%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:54, 3:43, 1.05, 82%, Challenging
Tue 3:49, 4:34, 0.84, 6%, Easy
Wed 5:59, 5:46, 1.04, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 11:48, 9:15, 1.28, 89%, Challenging

Stan 10:20 PM  

A true "ecrof ed rout"




fergus 11:02 PM  

What a mess -- but in a good way. Write-overs everywhere. Thinking of Andrea feeling slightly sadistic reminded me of the Tyler Hinman puzzle at last year's Alameda tournament. It wasn't all that hard, but nothing seemed to flow for me. Every time I got stuck I would look over to Tyler. True or not, he seemed to be wearing a smirk of sadistic glee, mocking my cumbersome progress.

Sfingi 12:16 AM  

It's past midnight. I finally got it. Fri. is already up.
OMG, I'm speechless, Andrea and CO., I had no idea! Brilliant.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Found this one easy, perhaps because I'm a bit dyslexic. Seriously, I realized almost immediately that all the across words were to be entered in reverse. Since the answers were otherwise easy, it took only a few minutes to complete.

dugglesmack 10:47 AM  

@sanfranman59 - just wanted to say thanks for your work compiling the solve times. I know this comes a bit after the fact, but I get the syndicated version. Anyway, it helps me to know I'm not the only one having trouble when I get stumped. When my time is below average for the day (using all times, I'm no expert), it always gives my morning a great start!


NotalwaysrightBill 12:29 PM  

Thanks @Zeke for the semordnilaps link: looked at it and learned that the trick has a plethora of other names also. Have chosen "volvograms" as personal favorite, the implications of overwrought security coming and going I suppose. Too much Miles Davis' "Live/Evil" at an early age to really enjoy the ruse in today's puzzle, though, caught between the rtrevpatronsaints and penthousepinupsgams as it was. A couple of name strains: Geoffrey Beene, Flojo. And no "tsp" on the bottle of Robitussin sittin' in front of me. Tadas to the constructors for all the dimples on this cutesie.

Lurking, Just Behind You! 2:14 PM  


I hope you are still receiving the major kudos that this puzzle merits. BIG smile once I sussed out the theme. One of my favorite puzzles of the year. One of the few, in fact, that makes me happy that I do them on paper and not online.

Cheers to you both....GO GIANTS!

flateri - what my praises are to you both...hopefully not the hollow kind.

Jeff 8:46 PM  

Go Giants indeed!! This puzzle was different and that makes this teacher-solver during lunch smile. I simply love puzzles, but after thirty plus years of solving I can get jaded, but I have never seen a construction like this one. Congrats ACM and PB for being the highlight of my day!

Dirigonzo 9:09 PM  

Absolutely BRILLIANT construction, but not much fun in the solving. I do puzzles for fun, and to learn new stuff. I didn't learn anything either (except how clever PB and ACM are as constructors.) Still in awe of the concept and execution, though.

Moody942 1:41 AM  

I figure this may be a little late but I catch the syndicated puzzle in the Chicago Sun-Times. I never did get the theme though I had lots of opportunities. DNF. It just never clicked even though there were answers I knew were right, but oh well. Great puzzle. I kowtow before the writers. These are the kinds of puzzles I look forward to though I don't always solve them. Coincidentally, and I know this is a stretch, HSI in aviation stands for Horizontal Situation Indicator. It's a navigational instrument. As this is my first time posting, I would just like to say I love the blog and am happy I came by it.

pauer 7:07 AM  

Thanks syndicated people!

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