Feudal laborer / THU 7-19-12 / The Cavaliers' sch. / Dior design of the 1950s / Zeno's home / Thor Heyerdahl craft

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld 

Relative difficulty: Challenging for a Thursday



THEME: OK, I'm calling it cryptic-style word structuring; ARETE can be explained as RET IN[side] AE, hence creating RETINAE, etc. 

Word of the Day: ENDUE (22A: Provide) — en·dued or in·dueden·du·ing or in·du·ing

Definition of ENDUE

transitive verb
1
: provideendow <endued with the rights of a citizen>
2
: imbuetransfuse <a mummy again endued with animation — Mary W. Shelley>
3
[Middle English induen; influenced by Latin induere to put on]: put ondon
<Merriam-Webster>
• • •
Hi there! I'm Andrew, a long-time reader, first-time contributor. And I get a Thursday puzzle on my hands, no less. Thursdays have been wildly variable for me this year, time-wise, and after about a month of pretty quick Thursday solves, this one was pretty challenging for me. Rather than being challenging in a fun way, this was more of a slog to get through. The theme is imaginative enough, but when we're starting with clunkers like ARETE and ALEFS, and our end results include MINTIER and COINSURING and REINSPECTSzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...the grid was helplessly deprived of any sparkle, overloaded with 1-point Scrabble letters. And then there's ESNE, which we'll get to later.

Theme answers:
  • 17-A: [ARETE] = RET IN AE
  • 18-A: [EAGLE] = L IN EAGE
  • 23-A: [SCOURING] = CO IN SURING
  • 34-A: [PLATTE] = T IN PLATE
  • 43-A: [GLANDS] = LAND IN GS
  • 52-A: [SPECTRES] = RE IN SPECTS
  • 61-A: [ALEFS] = F IN ALES
  • 62-A: [TIMER] = M IN TIER
So, credit to Mr. Arbesfeld for managing to get eight themers in the grid. What vexes me is the general blandness of the fill, particularly in the Northeast section of the grid. You've only got two themers in play there -- LINEAGE and TINPLATE, certainly with nice crossword letters in there to work with. FILMNOIR is good, arguably the best entry in the grid, but ENDUE crossing the odd partial SEE 'EM [14-D: "Now you ___..." (magician's comment about disappearing cards)] is pretty week; ITS TRUE is nice [16-A: "No fooling!"], but major points detracted for crossing ITS with IT I [9-D: "What was ___ was saying?"], though at least IT I isn't clued as the oft-used Biblical "Lord, is ___?" context.



And then there's good 'ol ESNE [10-D: Feudal laborer].  I really thought ESNE was retired by anyone not associated with the USA Today puzzle. It's stuffy, smelly, moldy crosswordese that should have died with Gene Maleska. I'm in the process of writing my fifth crossword book, and I can tell you that I'll never, *ever* use ESNE in a puzzle. Even if I'm doing a book about feudal laborers, ESNE wouldn't cut the muster. I'll admit, if I've got a stack that's got JAZZFUSION on top of QUIZMASTER on top of PEPPERJACK that has ESNE holding it together, I may feel tempted. But in this corner, with these letters? Really no excuse for it.

Bullets:
  • 15-A: [You are here] = ON EARTH — Not sure if the clue matches the answer here. I'd say the clue prompts simply EARTH; the preposition doesn't seem to be adequately hinted at in the clue. 
  • 20-A [Isl. off the coast of Australia] = TASM. — Short for Tasmania. I had TANZ. here to begin with, as I seem to always mix up Tasmania and Tanzania. You know another island off Australia's coast? The one where our noble leader Rex currently is? That'd be abbreviated N.Z. 
  • 31-A [Like some orange juice]= PULPY Love me some pulp in my OJ. Strangely, I seem to be the only one in my circle of family and friends that prefers high-pulp. In fact, I've been loudly pooh-poohed in the past for my pulp-preference. The more pulp the better, in my book. 
  • 5-D [Coastal flier] = ERN — Hardcore birders will TUT-[35-D: When repeated, a mild reproach] TUT this and say ERNE is the correct spelling. I'd tend to agree with them, especially considering the book I'm currently working on is all about birds. As part of my research for the book, I'm traveling down to Wabasha, Minnesota this Saturday to check out their National Eagle Center. Apparently they've got five or six bald eagles there and my sister in-law was raving about it. It's funny -- I never was all that "into" birds before starting this book, and now I find myself pretty intrigued by our feathered friends. And the book is shaping up to be an absolute classic; I'll be sure to prod our noble leader to plug the book once it's released (should be early 2013). Also in the bird category here was 5-D's neighbor, 6-D: [Many a pigeon's perch] = STATUE and 49-A: [Arctic diver] = AUK.
I would be remiss if I didn't use Rex's dais to plug my own work over at AriesPuzzles.com. I offer a Rows Garden variety crossword there every Tuesday, free of charge. For those who are unfamiliar with Rows Gardens, they are a variety format originally conceived by the great Patrick Berry, who also has some Rows Gardens (and other crossword types) posted on his site, A-Frame Games. I like to describe them as a themeless crossword on steroids, and I do hope you check out the site. I can say that next week's puzzle, which will be the 85th such puzzle I've posted, is one of the top-five favorites that I've written. So be sure to stop by the site next Tuesday and check it out. 

As I mentioned earlier, I'm working on book number five, "Crosswords for the Birds," and the previous four that I've written have been centered around U.S. states: Minnesota Crosswords was my first, in 2009, followed by Michigan Crosswords and Wisconsin Crosswords. My fourth book, Texas Crosswords, is slated to be released October 1, 2012. I can say the quality of the books have improved throughout the series, and I'm really pumped for the Texas book to come out, as I am very happy how it's turning out. The books make great gifts and are at a Monday-Wednesday difficulty level, so they're accessible to all solvers, too. 

Signed, Andrew J. Ries, ESNE of CrossWorld

124 comments:

Tobias Duncan 12:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tobias Duncan 12:36 AM  

When I first started hanging out with you guys here, I often did not get the themes at all. I was not up to the task and did not really care about them. Andrea and others eventually made it clear that I was missing out on a big chunk of the action and now I almost always figure them out lickety split(thanks guys)but I had to read Mr.Ries explanation three times today before it finally came together in my head. I understood that I was to ad IN to the clue but the cryptic bit was lost on me.
Lord help me I am just not that quick on the uptake sometimes.

jae 12:54 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 12:59 AM  

My take was pretty much the same a Andrew's only I found it mostly easy.  That said,  I never caught on to the theme until I was 90 percent done. Pretty clever but almost zip free unless you want to count GESTAPO and maybe FILMNOIR.  For me this  played  like an easy themeless with some missing clues whose answers were not that tough to fill in. It was OK but not up to the level of the last couple of Thurs.  

Erasures:  bArs for DAMS and dONE for GONE before I caught the theme.

SE corner seemed tricky for the second day in a row.

syndy 2:03 AM  

Thank you Andrew for your write-up. When I finished this my first thought was that I wanted Rex's take but your's did nicely.The trick was interesting until you worked out the answers and then HUH? CO INSURING?The AHA moment was squashed flatter than a fallen souffle.T in plate almost works but what is an L in eage ? very bizarre.

dmw 2:10 AM  

I found the theme bizarre also, and like another commenter, got it but did not understand it until it was explained to me. Had to cheat (solved online and used "Check letter"). Oh well, on to Friday.

Anonymous 2:26 AM  

I find the trick very satisfying, if only in retrospect. I had a general idea that I had to add IN to an anagram of the clue, but I didn't see how nicely it worked until Mr. Ries' explanation.

Elegant, in my opinion.

Deb 4:10 AM  

Ditto the above (Anon 2:26)' word for word. I' m glad we had someone who fully grasped the tricky subbing today; Thanks, Andrew. Off to check out your puzzles...

Deb 4:12 AM  

Lol, make that trick, not tricky.

Extraneous b's, n's and apparently y's on this iPad, Jae. ;)

Jeremy Mercer 4:39 AM  

Great write up today; very pleased to get both a critical eye and a bit of inside baseball after some of the more whimsical entries of the previous weeks.

In my mind, the hugely clever theme more than makes up for the chunks of drab fill.

Rex Parker 4:52 AM  

Fill was dire. Theme was clever. A trumps B.

Thx, Andrew

~RP

Bob Snead 6:04 AM  

In my opinion, the fun theme concept made the otherwise boring theme words exciting. As for the rest of the fill: the sun will still rise tomorrow and we'll all be OK.

Good puzzle.

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

That "NAMED" and "TRADENAME" bothered me. Thought I'd put in something incorrectly. Oh well!

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

Too much self-promotion on the part of Andrew J. Ries, IMHO.

Glimmerglass 7:35 AM  

The theme is, "Add IN somewhere in an anagram of the clue word in caps to create an actual word." You can play with "in[side]" all you want, there is no sense to this "theme." Not clever, not particularly interesting.

The Bard 7:42 AM  

Twelfth Night > Act I, scene V

MALVOLIO: I marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a
barren rascal: I saw him put down the other day
with an ordinary fool that has no more brain
than a stone. Look you now, he's out of his guard
already; unless you laugh and minister occasion to
him, he is gagged. I protest, I take these wise men,
that crow so at these set kind of fools, no better
than the fools' zanies.

OLIVIA: Oh, you are sick of self-love, Malvolio, and taste
with a distempered appetite. To be generous,
guiltless and of free disposition, is to take those
things for bird-bolts that you deem cannon-bullets:
there is no slander in an allowed fool, though he do
nothing but rail; nor no railing in a known discreet
man, though he do nothing but reprove.

Clown: Now Mercury endue thee with leasing, for thou
speakest well of fools!

Z 7:43 AM  

I hope we don't fully get the theme (or maybe the theme answers), yet. I was solving by adding IN and anagramming, so I finished, but never got as much as Andrew on the theme. But if his explanation is fully correct I don't like that some answers are in actual words (M IN TIER) and others are not (L IN EAGE).

A little vowel trouble hurt me this morning as I had STENGaL and AUGeR in the NE. Also DIE Off before DIE OUT and relent before LOOSEN slowed me. This was a nice tussle. Malapop trying ERN at 49A first. The NW was the end game for me, since DEPlEte caused me issues.

On the names argument - AVA and STENGEL and Mr. REE. Hmmm....

-Andrew- I have tried your Rows Garden puzzles a couple of times. I have yet to complete one but I've enjoyed the workout. Thanks.

dk 8:01 AM  

CRANKY PANTS ALERT! �� (one bomb for both the puzzle and the write-up)

Andrew, your write up is a good reason for complying with the request at the top of column two. I am assuming because Rex has great taste (by the way BF blogettes Gone Girl was great) you just kind of went overboard. Sigh, I have been accused of the same in my fawning odes to a certain someone.

Is this the puzzle week from the hot place. I got the theme and thought: no way -- this is so stupid. Then to wade, slog and suffer through the rest. To quote a line from Island of Last Souls: Are we not men!

Okay I have to say something nice as Thumper's dad is perched on my shoulder. The mini theme of FILMNOIR, MUG and PULPY made me smile. But the big hit was ONEARTH as it resulted in the DOH heard round the world.

Tomorrow better be one f'ing great puzzle or else Mr. Happy Pencil is gonna get a new eraser : Just sayin.

Huh! 86 is the number on my robot test and that is just what I plan to do with today's puzzle offerings.

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

I thought the theme was well done and made the less than perfect fill worth it.

In regards to some earlier posts, lineage is a word. Also, the theme entries aren't just "letter(s) in other letters of the clue." Lineage, for example,is l in eage - meaning the e a g e are in the same order as in the orginal clue.

More elegant than most are giving it credit for.

Kfb 8:22 AM  

Wasn't clever or fun. I don't mind difficult as long as there's a little entertainment. None of that here.

sarah 8:22 AM  

I completely agree with the poster above! The idea wasn't just to use an anagram of the clue plus "in," but to move one or more letters from the clue to the front of the new word, then add "in," and then continue with the rest of the clue in order. So, very neatly done.

I really liked 62D, "ESP" for "medium strength."

This is my first post here on this delightful forum, and I hope I've used the correct terminology etc. and not revealed 300 shades of naivete. I am a lone crossword solver who is pretty new at this, and is still at the point where I'm really proud to have even managed to solve a complete Thursday puzzle, let alone a tough one like this. And who knew that "endue" was a word? Not me.

sarah 8:27 AM  

I meant, I completely agreed with "anonymous" above, not the disgruntled Kfb person with the comment right before mine.

mmorgan 8:28 AM  

Somehow, I never got an email (and missed all discussion) about the fact that online access to the puzzle was being taken away from home subscribers. I couldn't figure out what was going on this morning -- using Chrome on my desktop, there was no puzzle, no message, no nothing. Took some digging to figure what happened. I guess this is old news to many but it was a shock to me this morning. GRRRRRR!!!

joho 8:31 AM  

All the explanations of the theme are making my head hurt.

This is one of those crazy puzzles that I completed correctly but in the end didn't care. I knew I was adding IN to the clues but the resulting answers left me cold.

I still have to thank Alan Arbesfeld for an innovative idea and the finesse to pull it off.

Thanks also to the ESNE of Crossworld, Andrew Ries, for his thoughtful write up.

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

Knowing the theme explains, for example, why the clue is SPECTRES and not SPECTERS. It also tells you why an answer is RETINAE as opposed to its anagrams (ARENITE or TRAINEE). This was a great puzzle for Scrabble or Anagrams players, although the theme isn't immediately obvious.

Tita 8:42 AM  

Yes, lots of proper names, and not knowing how to spell AUG[U]R did me in.
But when I discovered the theme, at F IN ALES, happily bounced through the grid to solve the rest. I love this kind of word puzzle.

And yes, @sarah is right (welcome, btw)...her explanation of the trick is the correct one.

I do agree it would have been more cooler had they all been real words, (like M IN TIER, the best one of these), and that the resulting words been better...LANDINGS, FINALES, LINEAGE, MINTIER - all good words....

@Anon 7:15 - also ENDUE/DUETO

@Anon 8:01 - I think Z knows the word LINEAGE - it is the word EAGE he claims is not real. Likes SPECTS and SURING.

Now, what is ITI was saying? Oh yes - had fun in spite of the faults.

kroscoe 8:44 AM  

When I saw ARETE and ALEFS I thought the theme was going to be about words you only see in puzzles. But no, it was just add IN and find an anagram that fits. COINSURING? Really? Lame.

Sue McC 8:46 AM  

I'm with Z on this one. I found it frustrating that some of the clues and answers were real words (ALEFS/F in ALES) and some weren't (GLANDS/LAND in GS). I dunno, it's just a teensy bit off for me. I'm sure this doesn't mean that I'm overly set in my ways,, or inflexible, or can't think outside the box at all.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Great write-up and explanation, AR! Rex thinks A trumps B. I think B trumps A. After all, this is a Thursday when such mischievousness is the heart and soul of the entertainment....

JFC

Milford 8:51 AM  

Completely agree with both points made by Anon 8:01. These answers were not just randomly mixed up letters to make an anagram of the clue with "IN" thrown in. It was actually kind of a cool theme.

Liked FILMNOIR answer, I think it was my first write in. I used to be much more timid about writing in longer answers with no crosses, and am still in awe of those of you that can do in on, say, a Friday or Saturday.

PULPY made me dry-heave a little. Love oranges, hate orange juice.

Shafty 9:01 AM  

BOR IN G

Tita 9:01 AM  

@Folks who aren't getting it - @sarah explained the trick...
No need to anagram anything - see her explanation...(Wow - a street number of 90013 what street where is that? I of course answered '42')

ronathan 9:17 AM  

Well, I couldn't actually do today's puzzle, since they are demanding more MONEY for something that I've already paid for with my home subscription to the Times!! Aaarrrgghh!!

Pete 9:27 AM  

I hava a policy against commenting on themes I was too dense to fully comprehend, as in today's puzzles. I feel I don't have the objectivity to differentiate between annoyance at not getting it with a true analysis of the theme.

That being said, I woke up this morning parsing and reparsing the theme answers, saying that's just stupid. I did this after having the theme explained, in full detail, last night.

John V 9:31 AM  

I liked it, a lot. Very challenging, very rewarding.

When I first looked at the theme clues, I remembered seeing this sort of thing in Patrick Berry's book, but didn't remember how it was supposed to go. Cracked it with GLANDS clue. This was fabulous for me because I am really lousy at this sort of British puzzle.

Having solved puzzled under Weng and Maleska, I frankly found it fun to have an ESNE flashback. Fill trumps theme, @Rex? Maybe most of the time, but, for me, on a Thursday anything goes, including retro fill. Is ESNE any crappier than ToneLOC? Not for the the AARP crowd, is what I'm sayin'

This finance guy loved COINSURING, but YMMV. All we need now is an encoding of SUBROGATION, and all will be well. Constructor challenge?

JC66 9:32 AM  

@ Anonymous 7:15 AM & @Tita

add LANDINGS/LANDMINES to

NAMED/TRADENAME & ENDUE/DUETO

loren muse smith 9:33 AM  

I finished, understanding that I was inserting IN into what I thought was an anagram. @Tita is right - @Sarah explains the trick perfectly – I look forward to more from you, Sarah!

@Tita and @anon 7:15 – add LANDINGS and LANDMINES.

@kroscoe – that was my first thought, too – words you see only in puzzles.

I didn’t object to the fill at all. I especially liked GESTAPO, I GUESS SO (three S’s!), SEE EM (three E’s!), and FILM NOIR.

True, it really would have been a feat if all of the theme answers were actual words, but I liked it anyway. Really clever.

jackj 9:35 AM  

Anyone who has done a Jumble puzzle could probably quickly fathom that this was a Jumble with a twist, just add IN, rearrange the words to a new legit word and, ta da, answers on steroids. (Easy answers on steroids, but the “IN” words are mostly more interesting than the original clue words.)

It seemed to me that the constructor and editor might have assumed the theme could be so perplexing that they needed to be straightforward in their non-theme cluing, but, whatever the reason, the absence of nuance diminished the solve.

PETRI for “Kind of dish” took nary an ounce of thought; NAP, same comment; PAL, UVA, AVA, MOI, DUETO, DAMS, LIT, ESP, TOT, TUT, ONOR, et al, (even one of the long entries, DISTANT), could all be included in the same boat.

Notwithstanding such assisted cluing, there were still some notable words to appreciate, DISTEND, for example and, also, STYMIE and AUGUR are always fun words wherever they arise, FILMNOIR was nicely played as were IGUESSSO and SEEEM but LANDMINES and TRADENAME had a pro forma feel to them and ONEARTH was just downright silly as clued.

A good attempt at a different Thursday gimmick but it didn’t quite seem to make the grade.

Sparky 9:42 AM  

Thank you for Tues. Jul 17 replies @Anon 1:49 p.m. and @Evan. Good explanations of Evan's Rule of Thumb. I really appreciate them. House guest activities eating into my computer time. Didn't get back till yesterday evening. @Tita: a tips column sounds like a handy idea. I can use all the help I can get.

so fla solver 9:47 AM  

Usually these kinds of puzzles have one clue that is the hint to deciphering what's going on, but for some reason this puzzle didn't have that. Consequently, I also solved the whole thing without knowing what the theme was. I was thinking it was something about the word "nit" and nit-picking since I kept seeing extra "i" and "n" letters given the clues. When you are playing against the clock, there is no time to muse about what the theme might be, and frankly knowing the theme wouldn't have affected my solving time.

Carola 9:53 AM  

One cup of tea did not DEFOG my brain enough to let me understand why I was inserting IN into anagrams (I thought) of the clues. Thank you to Andrew and to @Sarah (Welcome!) for explaining.

Fog also lay over the mid-West Coast, where I could not differentiate the cookbook author inA Garden from the actress AVA Gardner - both Barefoot Contessas - so DNF.

@The Bard -
Thanks for the "ENDUE" citation. I looked at END_E for a long time, wondering where I'd gone wrong. Well, actually, I looked at ENDeE for a long time, since, like @Z, I'd misspelled AUGUR. That one I got straightened out.

@dk-
I also liked FILM NOIR and PULPY but had missed MUG - thanks!

The ERN gave me a smile, recalling to mind the fun with Ernest Hemingway from an earlier puzzle. Otherwise, DUE TO not getting the theme, I felt like a crossword ESNE, laboring away for little reward.

Howard B 10:23 AM  

We're pulpy people here too. Which is good because they don't seem to sell out of the pulpy stuff as quickly at the market.

Oh yeah, there's a puzzle. What Rex said. Did enjoy working out the themes as a puzzle in itself, once I understood what in the heck was going on.

thursdaysd 10:25 AM  

I love anagrams, and I don't see them very often, so I enjoyed solving this on the basis of "anagram + IN". Now I know there was actually something else going on, I'm just as happy that I solved them as anagrams.

ENDUE is a word??? OK, but I hope it's one I don't see again.

It seems that I am now stuck using the New York Times' app on my iPad. I find it very annoying that, having paid for mobile access, I can't chose which app I use. If anyone knows a way around this, so I can continue to use the Stand Alone Crosswords app, I'd be happy to hear it. The NYT app is not a good substitute.

Slow Hand 10:26 AM  

dk, could you maybe say a bit more clearly what you mean in your second graf? It's fucking incomprehensible. I can't tell if you're being a d[ic]k to the blogger or complimentary to him.

chefbea 10:34 AM  

Did not like the puzzle. Could not figure out the theme so came here.

The most fun is trying to figure out What Acme will sign in as.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Yeah, ESNE isn't the greatest fill. But, it is still a real, albeit rare word, that fortunately does not appear much in crosswords anymore. In fact words like ESNE are so rarely used in modern puzzles, that they're hardly crosswordese in 2012. So, let bygones be bygones, and let the old slave alone. He has a tough enough life as it is.

wordie 10:38 AM  

I must be missing something? To me, all the theme answers are real words. I got the theme at landings (we have a lower and upper landing on our front stairs). I also got right away that the letters in the clue remained in order with an IN inserted. I liked this puzzle, including the difficult NE, and felt good about finishing it with some musing in that sector, and an assist from my husband on Casey's name. I do think the clue on STENGEL was a bit off, did he change his name or ???

Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

This grid seemed like a postcard from Rex. Tasmania, pulpy fiction, and his favorite crossbirds auk and ern.
I finished the puzzle but the theme, beyond adding IN to an anagram, was beyond me. That might be a technical DNF.
Thanks for sitting in Andrew.
I do think @dk is right. A little heavy on the self promotion.

mac 10:43 AM  

Medium Thursday, but I too just added "in" without realizing the full trick. Very clever.

Liked gestapo, see 'em, guess so, film noir and stymie and the past tense in 30d.

Feeling dumb for not digging a little deeper....

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

I agree with JFC.
B trumps A.

jesser 10:46 AM  

SEEEMs to me everything's been said. I figured it out, but didn't like it. And LANDINGS crossing LANDMINES? IT'S TRUE. Is IT I who saw it and cringed? Yes, I GUESS SO.

Nancy 11:02 AM  

Andrew- thanks for the explanation about the theme. I knew the word "in" was somehow in there but couldn't get the whole picture.

Also, FYI - my family often blends an entire orange and adds it to our juice for extra pulp! You're not the only one who likes things pulpy!

Milford 11:03 AM  

@wordie - I believe the complaint to the answers not being real words is not about the full word answer (i.e. LANDINGS) but that the phrase showing how the theme works (GLANDS= LAND IN GS) makes for a nonsensical sentence.
At least I think that is the issue people have with this.

Martin 11:04 AM  

@wordie,

We mostly think of Casey Stengel as a manager, not the (so-so) outfielder he was before that -- and managers don't bat.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

too much self-aggrandizement (sp?) from the write up, me thinks. perhaps a young'un? found the puzzle to be more of a wednesday so was surprised at the level rating. altho i didn't quite get the theme found it meh! when it was further explained. thought big dos were fiascos for a while. film noir makes me smile.

jberg 11:09 AM  

Like everybody else (well, almost) I figured out that it was an anagram of the all-caps word plus IN (think MINTIER gave it away), and solved it OK (after having to fight off the serfs and peons who wanted to take over 10D), but thought it was boring. Andrew's explanation of what the theme really is did help - in that it at least makes sense - but I still thought it needed something; maybe some relationship between the meanings of the theme answer ("COINSURING your TINPLATE before its REINSTPECTED for a MINTIER LINEAGE," or something along those lines.

Also had to figut off JPG for profilte picture.

You folks complaining that you can't do the puzzle, even though you pay for home delivery - it's on page C3. Not to justify the Times's new policy, I think it's atrocious, but hey, give the paper version a try! I have the opposite problem - can't bring myself to do it online, so I missed all the puzzles from July 7 to today while I was off in Spain and Portugal.

I liked 8A, "Fiestas". The "big dos" clue made me want Afros, but wrong number of letters - and fortunately I didn't think of 'pouffes' until just now.

Pink 11:10 AM  

I also got the theme at LANDINGS which made the rest of the puzzle a breeze. Probably my fastest Thursday finish so I felt very pleased. Had BRANDNAME instead of TRADENAME which slowed me a bit. And spent a lot of time trying to think of a Big Do that started with F besides FRO. I am very interested to check out Andrew's Crosswords for Birds when it comes out.

Tobias Duncan 11:11 AM  

All this pulpy talk is making me crave an Orange Julius from the 80s when they still had a raw egg in them.

retired_chemist 11:18 AM  

Hand up for thinking the theme was "insert IN into an anagram of the clue to make a word." BFD. Went to Amt Reynaldo's blog, where SHE thought the same thing. Then several posters explained the theme (same explanation as here, of course) and I finally appreciated it.

So, solved without full benefit of theme, and thus a bit slow. I wonder if the dichotomous reaction to the theme says more about the solver than the theme. The analytical ones (me) find an algorithm that works and go with it, probing no further. The more teleologically inclined need to find a deeper purpose - and, voilà, there IS one.

Well done, Mr. Arbesfeld.

PuzzleGirl 11:31 AM  

Enough with the criticisms of the guest bloggers. If you can't just say "thank you," then don't say anything at all. Nobody is forcing you to read this blog.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

No one forces us to do the NYT crossword yet we often criticize it.

PuzzleGirl 11:41 AM  

When Rex starts a subscription service I will be happy to field all complaints from people who argue they're not getting what they pay for. But this "not meaty enough," "not experienced enough," "too much self-promotion," "not following the 'directive'" (whatever hell *that* means) ... it's tired. Maybe one of you should start a blog where you critique this blog -- that way everybody who cares would have a place to congregate.

Tobias Duncan 11:45 AM  

I think its fine for Rex and the guest bloggers to criticize the puzzle.

I also think its fine for myself and others to criticize these criticisms.

That is where I draw the line though, criticizing this post I am making right now would put us into a causal feedback loop that could destroy the universe so for gods sake dont do it.

Slow Hand 11:48 AM  

You mean I don't have to read these comments? Really? Free at last! Free at last! Good God Almighty, free at last!

What's up with criticizing a guy who writes puzzles (and a bunch of puzzles, from the sound of things) for letting you know he writes puzzles? On a crossword puzzle blog? Presumably you would want to know of the availability of other puzzles, no? You like puzzles, right? Or does the mere acknowledgment that commerce exists so disgust and unsettle your refined sensibilities--do you find it so unseemly--that you wish never to be reminded of it?

Almost every freaking comment here is self-promotion. You come here to create some identity for yourselves, to show that you're the most forward-thinking, progressive, right-on folks on the planet, who would never eat a meal not prepared by a photogenic indigenous person from locally independently organically grown ingredients these words don't even make any sense and would never offend a person of the Romany persuasion (ever met one?) by claiming to have gotten gypped somewhere along the way. SO LET THE GUY TELL YOU ABOUT HIS PUZZLES!

mac 11:52 AM  

I just went to Cruciverb.com and could open today's puzzle. I do have a paper subscription, but I've never been asked to pay more for the online puzzle.

jberg: You could get the International Herald Tribune when you're next in Europe.

erik 11:58 AM  

but guys, who watches the watchers of the watchers of the watchmen????

enjoyed the post, ries.

Pete 12:07 PM  

@PG - I'm disappointed that the guest bloggers haven't followed the *directive* that Rex gave them. The directive was to "trash the place" without doing permanent harm. Did any of them do that? NO!. What we got was a whole bunch of individually earnest efforts.

Ulrich 12:12 PM  

First of all, I'm with @Sarah, @Tita and others who pointed out that THERE IS NO ANAGRAM INVOLVED when you insert the letter(s). Which makes the theme so straightforward that I could use it for all of the theme answers in the bottom half of the grid, after I had gotten the theme, and that was fun. I do not believe it's fair to blame the constructor when YOU caught on to the theme too late.

I DO agree with the observation that the letter strings into which (again, w/o anagramming anything!!!) one has to insert the letter(s) are sometimes real words and sometimes they aren't, and that's a blemish for me, too.

Jeffrey 12:15 PM  

Yeah, we don't want to see any self-promotion at the site of the 31st Greatest Crossword Puzzle Solver in the Universe!

Signed, 29 (who appears every Sunday at www.crosswordfiend.com)

Davis 12:33 PM  

I, for one, appreciated today's theme. At first I thought it was just a simple anagram-with-letters-added, which would have been disappointed. However, once I saw the pattern to it I thought it was fun, although it did contribute to making the puzzle easy for a Thursday. I didn't catch the "L-IN-EAGE" self-description until I came here, though — that just makes me like the theme more.

I agree that the fill was mostly ho-hum. This is the first time I've seen ESNE — that's a ridiculous bit of crosswordese, though for reasons unique to my background I remembered that "esne" is a 4-letter ending for words that have to do with feudal-era land issues ("mesne profits," "demesne"). I'll have to agree with the guest blogger and say that ESNE should be permanently relegated to the dustbin of awful fill.

Aside from that, my biggest complaint is that this was too easy for a Thursday. Otherwise, not terrible, not amazing. The guest post was solid, though.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

The theme is usually a source of amusement and/or appreciation for its cleverness for me. I thought the theme sucked today.

JC66 1:04 PM  

Casey STENGEL had a modest career as a major league baseball player. H'es semi-famous for giving new meaning to the term "flipping the bird."

Per Wikipedia:

In 1919 Stengel of the Pittsburgh Pirates was being taunted mercilessly by fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers, his old team. Somehow Casey got hold of a sparrow and used it to turn the crowd in his favor. With the bird tucked gently beneath his cap, Casey strutted to the plate amidst a chorus of boos and catcalls. He turned to the crowd, tipped his hat and out flew the sparrow. The jeers turned to cheers, and Stengel became an instant favorite.[

syndy 1:14 PM  

@slow hand: yes I have met some Roms,I lived close to a household of them. It frightens me what is happening to them in Europe now. I sorry if I offended anyone by being upset that history is repeating itselfbut they are a vulnerable people and dehumanizing them makes it easier to exterminate them.

Masked and Anonymo8Us 1:24 PM  

As per my usual bob and weave approach to a ThursPuz, sprinkled in a few answers here and there, to establish my territory. First entries (in order thunk of) were lookin' kinda unusual:
RAI
ERN
SERF (later to get scratched out)
ITI/ITSTRUE (the IT intersection)
ESNE (really wanted SERF, just for sanity's sake)
TASM
IRR
ENERO
ONEARTH -- Better. It felt Real good to get back to planet Earth.

Theme was great. Like most Earthlings, at first thought it was just inanagrams. But was sure Alan and the Shortzmeister had more up their sleeves. They did. Different. Trumps almost everything else [see below]. thUmbsUp.

@31--Good to hear from you. Don't rightly know if A trumps B. Tough call. Do know that U trumps 'em both.

walter white 1:26 PM  

@ Slow Hand. Right on! Let the guy mention his damn puzzles. He has 5 books of them and this blog is about puzzles and people who solve them. If not us, who?? Andrew THANK YOU for the write up (it was a great read) and thanks also for creating puizzles

Z 1:29 PM  

Wow - 73 comments by 1:30. Haven't gotten through all of them and I have a meeting to get to, but I wanted to mention that Sarah and LMS have me convinced. If all the answers had met the M IN TIER criteria the puzzle would have been Berryesque. But the theme is pretty damn good as it is. If I had realized earlier that I didn't need to really do an anagram my solve time would have been quicker. Nice puzzle.

dk 1:30 PM  

@ slow hand, re: your first post. I was saying that sometimes we all say too much. Read your second post for an example or this one for that matter.

Alas, I am not certain what "being a d[ic]k" is but if you hum a few bars I could fake it.

@Davis, Is that your first name? Inquiring minds want to know?

@tita, I am still in awe that your dad signed the Marshall Plan

Bom dia

Gill I. P. 1:49 PM  

I'm so glad @Anonynmous 8:01 and @sarah (welcome!) posted early on. I really, really, really liked this puzzle. I usually do with Alan Arbesfeld and he didn't disappoint.
I suppose if you didn't really get the theme, it would seem a slog. I handed my finished product to my husband and asked him what he'd make of it. He immediately saw the one or two letters at the front of the "in." No, it's not an anagram....Whoopee!
@Carola: A mistake lots make but it's Ina Gar(t)en. She makes the best chocolate cheese cake by the way.
I'm a fresh squeezed, lots of pulp kinda girl.
As soon as I get famous I'm going to let everyone on this blog know all about it.
Peace....

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

Sorry guys. Thought it was an easy puzzle with a dumb theme. Took 20 minutes. Too easy for a thursday

Joe The Juggler 2:13 PM  

I agree with the mismatch between the clue "You are here" and the answer "ON EARTH".

It reminds me of a resume I typeset for a guy a long time ago. Under the heading "OBJECTIVE", he wanted the text, "To search for a position. . . ."

I said, "Congratulations on achieving your objective!"

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

You want to know how I learned what the theme was? I read the line in Andrew's writeup prefaced "THEME" ... "ARETE can be explained as RET IN[side] AE, hence creating RETINAE, etc."

Evan 2:28 PM  

Agreed for the most part with @Andrew. The theme is a perfectly good and clever concept, but when your theme answers turn out to be CO-INSURING and REINSPECTS and MINTIER, then blah. The longest fill answers (FILM NOIR, TRADE NAME, LANDMINES, and I GUESS SO) are way better and more lively than the actual theme entries, and yeah, there's quite a lot of ho-hum fill I'd rather not see.

In the end, I didn't find this puzzle too hard because I caught onto the theme somewhat early -- and was a bit surprised that it was so mysterious to lots of commenters until they came here. If the theme were carried out consistently throughout the grid, then there are five additional theme answers, only one of which I can write in this comment: ELANDMS (at 33-Down). The others would require a picture of some kind to show how AL and CL could each be embedded in a larger E (51- and 54-Down), SUCOR could be embedded in a larger G (23-Across, for CO in SUR in G)....and how on earth would you show a picture of 55-Down? A striped TIE but inside a blank space? Or would it just be the word TIE?

@Pete:

I agree, and I'm now regretting that my short time in the spotlight last Thursday did not involve more trashing on my part. If and when I should ever get another shot, I'll be sure to flat out embarrass everybody.

M in ACES 2:30 PM  

P.S. Most all the guest speakers for the blog have been superb. (The BFF gals are a fun twosome, but they are just a might light on their all-important bullets section.) Andrew seems like a cool dude. I could have a brewski with him and toast the number 29. Hell, after a few brewskies, I'd even toast good ol' ESNE. What the hey.

M&A

Sparky 2:38 PM  

Thank you @Ulrich for saying what I wanted to say.

First I thought the theme was FINAL ES(the letter ess) but that made no sense at all. Soldiered on with pass after pass and, finally, it started to clear. Not so much an Ah Hah! but a "Well what do you know?" Very British in feeling to me. Cryptic, as Andrew succinctly put it. Hand up for serf before ESNE, ERn before AUK; had to switcheroo. Misspelled AUGeR so DNF. Wanted McGuffin before FILMNOIR. Very neat when all is said and done.

Thanks Andrew. Love Dennis Leary. Hate pulp, also Calcium added milk. Yuk.

Carola 2:39 PM  

@Gill I.P. -
Oh, my - not even spelling my mistakes right doesn't AUGeR well for my solving future! :) Thank you! Also for the cheesecake rec.

Matthew G. 2:40 PM  

The fill was pretty bad, yes. But the theme was so nice, and required so much plugging away to understand (for me, at least), that it kept me from noticing the weakness of the fill except in retrospect. In other words, the rewarding difficulty distracted me from the unrewarding difficulty. The a-ha moment when the theme clicked was very nice. So this gets a thumbs-up from me.

Bird 2:48 PM  

No time to read the 80+ comments so apologies for repeats.

I found the write-up great, but the puzzle was disappointing. So the theme is take a word and add IN to form a new word? There had to be more. Where’s the continuity? Why don’t the theme answers link somehow? Why can’t the parsed results all be valid words, like T IN PLATE? LAND IN GS??? RET IN AE??? C’Mon! Clever theme, though done before, but it was just not executed properly.

For the fill – LANDMINES & LANDINGS and TRADENAMES & NAMED and ENDUE & DUETO all in the same puzzle? U-G-L-Y

There are highlights – I GUESS SO and good ol’ Casey STENGEL

Hope Friday is better.

Dirty Little Secret 2:55 PM  

@jberg and other deat tree subscribers:

The [Times Digest] is a perk they haven't taken away --- yet.

Free to subscribers, check the options in your account, it's a 6 page daily e-mail summary INCLUDING the crossword.

Great when traveling, as long as you can figure out a way to print the page with the puzzle.

[Signed] Former Regular, Current Lurker

EdB 3:02 PM  

Nothing to add about the puzzle, but regarding the Denis Leary cut -- I completely agree that Kill Bill was a disaster of a movie. In fact, I have argued for some time that it's the worst movie ever made, once you allow for the fact that any serious contender for that title has to at least be pretentious enough to try to be good.

miriam b 3:03 PM  

After @sarah, @ulrich abd @tita explained with supreme lucidity what the theme was, what part of NOT AN ANAGRAM! do any of you not understand? Sheesh. This calls for a glass of nice PULPY orange juice.

GLR 3:17 PM  

@Andrew, re: self-promotion. I'm a Wisconsin native and 30-year resident of Michigan. I hadn't run across your state puzzles before - ordered those two right after I read your post. Thanks (unless, of course, I don't like the puzzles)!

Evan 3:17 PM  

Correction to my earlier comment:

There are five additional theme clues, like the ones I described. There would be four additional theme answers (LANDMINES, A-LINE, CLINE, and TIE-IN). CO-INSURING would still be a theme answer, but it would be parsed differently because there are two INs in it.

Orange 3:27 PM  

So these are anagrams, right?

I love crosswords, so I'm incensed that Mr. Ries would think to mention his niche crosswords and his Rows Garden puzzles. I mean, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin...obviously Illinois is next and yet he went with Texas. What this says about his soul, I'm not sure.

I've placed 5th at the ACPT and I wrote a book. (Passive-aggressive humblebrag?)

Rex Parker 3:50 PM  

P.S. this puzzle was easy. But I've been doing cryptics for weeks, so that might've helped get me in the right frame of mind.

rp

Z 4:07 PM  

First - after 94 comments only two claim that the theme involved anagrams. Many others (myself for example) solved it thinking it was anagrams but realize that the theme was deeper. No need to yell about it.

Second - A blog critiquing the blog - a metablog - @puzzlegirl, you are a genius.

Third - It seems to me that people who got the theme right away and the people who never got the theme hated the puzzle. Those of us in the sweet spot seemed to find it enjoyable. It would seem we are not all that different from Goldilocks.

That's three and out.

sanfranman59 4:10 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Thu 18:20, 18:53, 0.97, 49%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:36, 9:21, 1.03, 62%, Medium-Challenging

John V 4:22 PM  

@Orange. Not anagrams, cryptics. Anagram would have the same number of letters and same letters on both side of the scramble. This is [Letter(s)] IN [rest of letters] of the clue. GLANDS='LAND' contained IN G and S = LANDINGS

HTH

Dufus 4:25 PM  

@Orange - If you go over to Diary of a CrossWord Fiend you'll find the 102nd clear explaination of the theme of this puzzle. I believe it's anagrams, of a sort.

miriam b 4:33 PM  

@John V and @Dufus: Orange's trenchant wit is evident (at least to me) throughout her post.

retired_chemist 4:48 PM  

@ Z - I am a counterexample to your posit. I never got the theme on my own, yet I liked the puzzle, particularly so once I got the theme via the blogosphere.

@ Dufus - I can't tell if you are joshing or if you really do not know that DOACF is actually Orange's blog.

captcha 4 apabst - a good number for a hot afternoon, although Sam Adams would be better.

Dufus 4:59 PM  

@R_C - How on earth could there be any question as to whether or not I was joshing? Dufus isn't enough of a clue? 102nd? Perpetuating the anagram myth?

And finally M and A 5:00 PM  

P.P.S.S. CNN just did a thing on what listeners would rather do, than watch to another campaign tv ad. Personal fave: "I'd rather go on a 12-hour car ride to Canada on Mitt's roof." Har. Reminded me a lot of some of the clever comments in these parts. U guys are somethin' else. So are the NYT Puzs.

Peace and love,

Rex fan 5:20 PM  

Rex should have a BBQ and invite some of his closest friends. Us!

Geometricus 5:59 PM  

Andrew, loved your write-up, and also love the Rows Garden puzzles. So far I have only completely finished one, but I enjoy the challenge.

Finished today's NYT in 20 minutes, thinking "these anagrams are kind of easy, not too mixed up at all.". You and @Sarah Explained It All For Me.

Deb 8:48 PM  

Andrew's explanation...

cryptic-style word structuring; ARETE can be explained as RET IN[side] AE, hence creating RETINAE, etc....

seems pretty clear to me (disclaimer - I, too, came here thinking it was anagrams). That so many seemed to still not get it until Sarah (welcome!) explained makes me wonder if they actually read the blog. (Or it could just be that they "skim" in the same way I generally do. If I'm reading, say, a magazine article, I almost always skim past paragraph headings and people's names/titles, etc.)

@Pete - I thought I was doing my best to trash the place, but then Rex came in and agreed with me and stole my fire.

@Every-damned-body - Criticizing the puzzle is fine. Criticizing the critic's opinions is fine. Criticizing a guest critic him/herself is just plain fucking rude. (Yes, I said the F word. It has a power that "acceptable" alternates do not.)

Gotta add @You-know-who-you-are: Criticizing and disagreeing with Rex day after day after bloody day is just tiresome.

Btw, I snuck a bit of musical promotion into my own guest-blog and I don't feel one tiny bit of shame for it :P

Carola 9:08 PM  

Andrew, thanks for the link to your Rows Garden puzzles. I've printed off #84 and look forward to digging in.

GLR 9:16 PM  

@Deb - Aaaaaa-men!

May I add my own pet peeve - the commenters who "don't have time to read the comments," but just have to add their own insightful (and often duplicative) thoughts?

sanfranman59 10:14 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:10, 6:49, 0.90, 13%, Easy
Tue 7:35, 8:57, 0.85, 10%, Easy
Wed 11:01, 11:46, 0.94, 38%, Easy-Medium
Thu 18:21, 18:53, 0.97, 50%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:37, 3:41, 0.98, 45%, Medium
Tue 4:29, 4:38, 0.97, 47%, Medium
Wed 5:36, 5:53, 0.95, 41%, Medium
Thu 9:27, 9:21, 1.01, 58%, Medium

Rex Parker 12:45 AM  

Greetings from Auckland. For better or worse, I'm back to blogging in four days. Right now, I'm Starving, so ... see you.

RP

max 1:11 AM  

regardless of any criticism of this puzzle (believe me, i had plenty), is anyone having trouble doing the crossword online on nytimes.com? the box that usually has the crossword on the "Crosswords & Games" page is just missing. it could potentially be a problem with my java, but i was just wondering if anyone is having the same problems.
thanks

max 1:18 AM  

disregard- figured it out
thanks

BlogSpotRemover (!) or (?) 3:22 PM  

Grrrr! This is an example of an "impossible" - level puzzle! The author has a British sounding name, which is bad news, as the popular puzzles there are those "acrostic" puzzles which I can't even be in the same room with. HOWEVER, i was so proud I got 1 measly clue, and I'm wrong! but it sounded so right. Backscratchers activity? I put QUIDPROQUO. Doesn't that make sense? And fit? Grrrr!

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Quite frankly all the negative comments have me asking, WHY? This puzzle was clever and should have been rated EASY or maybe EASY-MEDIUM. As far as "retiring the word esne.....sometimes it's necessary to use an old and well used word in order to complete the fill. Also, in a very difficult puzzle it helps the solver. Didn't care for the writeup one iota. Just saying...
Ron Diego

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Excellent analysis Alan.

When you write, "Even if I'm doing a book about feudal laborers, ESNE wouldn't cut the muster", isn't the phrase "cut the mustard"? Googled the phrase and couldn't track down a clear answer.

Solving in Seattle 2:15 PM  

Really enjoyable Thursday puzzle and even better comments.

4D clue had me thinking RAft, thus a rebus, but finally figured out that it was RA I.

Dropped in DORIC, ENERO, PETRI and STATUE, but continued to wrestle with the NW until I got 17A on crosses. Snapped to the theme with COINSUR...

@SiS lol award of the day to @Slow Hand 11:48.

Go Mariners!

rain forest 2:37 PM  

Not sussing out the theme yet correctly completing the puzzle made me feel kinda smart. Waiting until I read Sarah@8:22 to have the theme explained made me feel kinda stupid. Reading so many sanctimonious posts about a variety of topics made me feel kinda angry.

Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I read the blog.

DMGrandma 4:10 PM  

I admire those who sussed out the gimmick behind this puzzle, I never caught on beyond understanding the need to add "in" to some letter arrangement that supposedly spelled another word. Found it uninspiring going, threw in the towel and came here to,find out what was wrong with MINTIER which I parsed MIN TIER. Finally had to consult the dictionary to dicover it means "more minty!" Duh! Anyway, all else aside, I finished with only the AUGeR error. One square again! and tomorrow is Friday!

Just cycled through something like 7 Captcha thingies to find one I think I can read. Why does it have to be this hard?

Dirigonzo 4:38 PM  

I managed to bollix up the whole grid early on with DEPlEte in the NW, LesSEN in the middle and (very briefly)GErmAns in the SW, so I had to sort all of that out while at the same time trying to understand the theme, which I could see but couldn't quite put in motion to help me solve. In the end I joined ACME's OWS (One Wrong Square) club which put me in the excellent company of @DMGrandma et al!

I confess that I sometimes blog about this blog on my own blog - that way I can get stuff off me chest and no one else has to read it (and usually no one does).

@Spacecraft - thanks for setting me straight on Shelley yesterday; I clearly need to read more, and more carefully!

sw 6:01 PM  

Really, really hard for me but I'm in the minor leagues. Got it but took hours of staring at it.

Spacecraft 8:59 PM  

Aw, rats. I was waiting for the clue ADAVIDAGADDA but I never saw it. Why does this puzzle seem to DEPRESS so many? ITSTRUE, it could be a little more PULPY, but for me it was a fine Thursday. A little--but not too much--thinking about the themers; maybe a couple of cross-letters to kick things off, and there you go. Besides, the wife is NUTSO about Patsy CLINE, so dis this grid at your peril.

My and the blogger's WOTD coincide today; ENDUE is brand-new to me. I don't like it. Favorite clue: "Casey at the bat, once"

Rare triple letters! Did I SEEEM? IGUESSSO.

Eastsacgirl 12:48 AM  

Really had fun with this one. Got it pretty quick with LANDINGS & MINTIER. Knew IN was in the clues and the other letters weren't totally random. Thought I was going to have to pull out my Jumble prowess but really didn't need it. Was happy to see it ranked challenging. *pats self on back*

Anonymous 5:12 PM  

I hope this gets read as I am a "syndicated" player of this game, so my comments are obviously "late".
I see 2 main negative comments that keep cropping up.
The first is that not all are "real" words. The only ones I see that are even questionable are RETINAE(plural of retina), ALEFS(plural of alef [or aleph], both a Hebrew letter & a programming language), & MINTIER(more minty).
The second is that people didn't all seem to see that the "remaining" letters stayed in order.Let me try a slightly different graphic explanation.
Say that (X)=X in, & VW_YZ= the space where X goes, then:
A(RET)E = RET in A___E
EAG(L)E = L in EAG_E
S(CO)URING = CO in S__URING
PLA(T)TE = T in PLA_TE
G(LAND)S = LAND in G____S
SPECT(RE)S = RE in SPECT__S
ALE(F)S = F in ALE_S
TI(M)ER = M in TI_ER.
Did that make things clearer, or muddier? Oh well, thanks for allowing me the attempt
(s)AN OFTEN READER & SOLVER BUT AN ALMOST NEVER COMMENTER

Dirigonzo 8:05 PM  

@Anony 5:12 P.M. - I'm a very "visual" kind of solver, and your explanation actually helped a lot - thanks for posting!

Anonymous 10:21 PM  

Solved the puzzle, didn't get the cryptic part until reading the blog, although I was pretty sure I was missing something. I should have caught on that the letters were not jumbled. Maybe if I had tried a bit harder to list the possible anagrams (by hand) I would have noticed it. Should have had more pulpy orange juice (Mom used to tell me that the pulpy bits were the vitamins!)

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