## Thursday, May 23, 2013

Constructor: David Levinson Wilk

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (Easy for me, but times at NYT suggest not That easy)

THEME: REN ROA ZIE REA DOS — not really: theme is actually a riddle / play on words

18A: With 50-Across, how one can tell that this puzzle was up all night waiting to be solved? (IT HAS CIRCLES / UNDER ITS EYES) ... thus, there are circles under the letter string "EYE" throughout the grid.

Word of the Day: Carol HEISS (44D: Five-time world figure skating champion Carol) —
Carol Elizabeth Heiss Jenkins (born January 20, 1940 in New York City) is an American figure skater and former actress. She is the 1960 Olympic Champion in Ladies Singles, 1956 Olympic silver medalist and five-time World Champion (1956–1960). (wikipedia)
• • •
I solved this puzzle as soon as it came out, at 10pm, so it wasn't "up all night waiting to be solved" at all.

Like yesterday's puzzle, this puzzle's theme answers are almost too easy to solve. With the first few letters of the "answer" in place (in the NW), I got the whole thing. Then the only thing that was left to do was figure out what other layer there would be to the theme? What do the circles spell out? What does the central Across answer have to do with the theme? Turns out the answers are "nothing" and "it has EYE in it," respectively. My fellow blogger tells me that the Internet Anagram Server's first offering, if you plug in all the circled letters, is A DREARIER SNOOZE, but I'd rate this puzzle somewhat higher than that.

Unlike yesterday's puzzle, however, this one is solidly filled. I do tend to dislike exclamations like YECH and YEOW, since the spelling always feels improvised and arbitrary, and -ULE and ESTH. are gross, but most of the rest of it is OK. Wait, no—I take that back. AMORY WTF!? (63A: ___ Blaine, protagonist of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "This Side of Paradise") I would accept AMORY if the letters in the circles did anything besides sit there—that is, if it mattered what letters were in those circles. But it doesn't. Does it? So ... AMORY seems perverse. There's a certain quirky imagination at work in this puzzle, and I like that. The joke is corny and the puzzle was too easy, but I appreciate the attempt at originality here.

Finished this one in just a few seconds over 5, which is (once again) about a minute to 90 seconds faster than my typical time for this day of the week. I attribute this speed almost entirely to the easily graspable theme, though the fill was all right over the plate, for the most part. I only struggled slightly, in weird places, with stuff like LBJ and VOLLEYERS and HEISS (44D: Five-time world figure skating champion Carol). Had some good guesses along the way. Got ISBN off the "S", ESTH. off the "H", etc. I knew who Stephanie MEYER and MIMI Rogers and SETH Green (6A: Green of TV's "Robot Chicken") and Ned YOST were—I suppose if you didn't, this could've played much harder. But I didn't know AMORY or IRENA (13A: "The Faerie Queene" woman) or HEISS and still didn't get held up.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

nanpilla

I would have liked it better if the circled letters spelled BAG. Actually, it wouldn't have needed the circles that way.

jae

Another easy one for me too.  Like Rex caught the theme immediately and filled in the EYEs.  Found no real resistance anywhere.

This had a lot of amusing stuff...meaningless circles, the obligatory RRN, a skater I don't remember but probably should , a non-theme 15, corporate logos, YECH and YEOW, ASS, NASCAR, a bunch of irritating 3s (EES, ENS, RNS, EZR, ULE)...

Got to like it just for the chutzpah!

Dyscord

LBJ had me stuck until the end and I live in Texas. I feel a much better clue could have been used, i.e. president sworn in on a plane or in Texas or something. Easier yes, but possibly more enjoyable and educational.

okanaganer

This was dead easy except the NW where I didn't know MEYER, IRENA, or ERAT; but it all would have been okay if I hadn't had TUSSLE instead of RASSLE for "Scrap". So 4 wrong letters!...eek.

@nanpilla: BAGs under each of the EYEs...that would have been cool!

Algiers Curla Meyers

EYE agree it's original!
EYE too would have liked the circles to have spelled something...
But then I'd have been so excited I'd probably be up allnight.

My "spooky" sound was gRoAn instead of CREAK and guessed eMORY, so messy corner...YEOW!

Loved FRENZIES.

Lots of names made it hard: MEYER, SETH, LBJ, IRENA, ESTH, AMORY, RAWLS, MIMI, ENYA, EZR, ERIC, HEISS, YOST, ERMA, RHONDA.
but quirky and fun.

Was SHARP over ASS a secret message?! I hope not!

Jackson

Best theme so far this week, but also the worst fill all week.

Today's fill...blech, blech, blech, blech, blech, blech and more blech. But the constraints for this puzzle are so wickedly extreme,that it's a miracle it even got completed. That's one plus.

On the plus-side...after 4-5 years of being shunned by all the major crosswords, Stephanie MEYER finally gets on the board. Get with the "Times" crossword constructors! Stephanie Meyer and Twilight are without a doubt, top-tier pop culture of the last 5 years.

AMORY's strange comments by Rex leave me befuddled...as far as fill goes, I'd put it just as bad as URDU/ULE/ERAT/ENYA. F. Scott Fitzgerald is a famous author and "This Side of Paradise" is not a completely obscure book. Not saying it's good fill, but the excessive bashing and singling out of that one word was completely uncalled for.

5 Stars for the theme, 1 star for the fill....call it 3 stars.

chefwen

What Algeirs Curla Meyers said, I was trying to put in to words what my thoughts were, but she put it so perfectly, I have nothing to add. Thanks Andrea, I had a huge day and you saved my brain from being over taxed. Owe you one.

Anonymous

What the heck does "Easy for me, but times at NYT suggest not That easy" mean? "But times at NYT suggest..." huh?

Anyone?

Thanks

Perches

jae

@Perches -- Rex is referring to solving times recorded on the NYT web site where folks compete to see "quien es mas macho" in fast solving. Apparently he zipped through this one a tad faster than the typical speed solver, hence the quote you wondered about.

Milford

Got the theme easily, but then I felt like I stumbled all over on the fill. But my time says this was a fast, easy Thursday. Cute theme.

Yesterday we had MITOSIS in the middle, today we have ASS. Love it.

Probably the most complicated clue I've seen for ERAT.

Thought 24D was going to be stRike, but YER OUT is so much better.

Glimmerglass

Easy everywhere but NW. Even with EYE from the theme, I struggled because the names were all unfamiliar. Guessed MIMI, then MEYERS, which gave me RASSLE and the corner, but it took a long time.t

jberg

Finished with an error, entirely my fault for not knowing Stephanie MEYER, who certainly gets enough press. So I had tuSSLE crossing one end of her name, and saMI going down from the other. aRENu made little sense, but who knows with Spenser?

Writeovers: TintS before TRIMS, EZe (kiel) before EZR (is that Ezra? Guess I have to bone up on OT books, along with vampire novels.) Oh, and FemmE before FRERE.

Have to run -- more time Friday!

Susan McConnell

Too easy to be much fun.

For starters, the theme clue should have been less obvious, and maybe the circles should have been under individual letter I's (instead of EYEs) just to open up the fill to better possibilities and make it a bit more challenging.

joho

Yes, cute, innovative theme but it was a bit odd to have all those circles which are really just gibberish. I mean, literally they're the circles under the EYES but I expect circled letters to spell something! @nanpilla, BAGS would've been brilliant!

MAYBEYESMAYENO: fun!

My only blip along the way was perMS before TRIMS.

@acme: SHARP over ASS ... good catch!

I liked it, thanks, David Levinson Wilk!

John V

Like @jberg, got snagged in the NW, IRENA/RASSLE cross. No likey RASSLE. Good theme, liked it, saw CIRCLE appeared and it was all down hill from there.

Good Thursday offering.

loren muse smith

This one was a tough one for me. I saw the trick really late, and even then I struggled. The fact that the letters in the circles didn’t spell anything kept making me think that I was *really* off in my answers.

I love the idea of the theme, though – the “literalness” of it!

ULE – I hope I never hear a doctor tell me I have any kind of thing that has this suffix. It just feels BAD.

How on earth did I remember ALGIERS? But I did!

Flirted with “returners” before VOLLEYERS.

NASCAR – here’s a funny Pepsi Max commercial:

Thanks, David. I enjoyed this one.

Pete

Yeah, that NW was inexcusable. Three names across, coupled with a clue that provided no way into that block at 18A, crossed with two names going down, a ridiculous clue for ERAT and RASSLE.

Circles are bad enough, but circles merely reside under other words just don't make it.

ed wallace

Thought this was fun and fairly easy for a Thursday. Lost a minute or so at the end by having IRENe rather than IRENA until I noticed ReSSLE didn't make any sense.

Nice job David!

ArtO

Hand up with others who, unlike Rex, didn't know NW persona off the bat. Got a toe hold in the middle starting with MGM and blew through the rest. Loved the originality of the theme.

BTW, Surprised that Rex knew Yost. Eddie played (and managed) quite a while ago. A clue Rex usually gripes is way too dated.

jackj

What’s a fifteen letter word for IT HAS CIRCLES UNDER IT’S EYES?

In David Levinson Wilk’s world, it’s RENROAZIEREADOS, (a word denied entry in the Urban Dictionary because it wasn’t “street credible and was unsuitable for rapping purposes”).

Not a very difficult challenge today but still a fun one as the rigor of placing the word EYE five times in specific grid locations, (to allow for circles to be placed under entries containing that theme word), is mostly responsible for some familiar fill, but with a clever phrase, MAYBEYESMAYBENO playing the “belt” in the puzzle’s midriff, all is not lost.

Clearly this puzzle is strongly tilted to theme and clever it is, but finding a way to include the likes of FRENZIES, AGITATOR, OTTERS and LAUREATES, (among others), adds some piquant prose that tempers the EZR, EES, ENS, ESTH, CIA, ULE and LVI crosswordy necessities that have invaded the grid.

Among the puzzle’s proper nouns, LBJ, ALGIERS, NASCAR and MACYS easily trump MEYER, IRENA, ERIC and SETH but Carol HEISS rules the roost and memories of her dazzling double axels will likely remind many what a superb athlete she was, tussling in competition with Tenley Albright, back in the day.

Mr. Wilk has given us a hearty serving of an intelligent, clever, fun concoction that earns a favorable vote from this quarter as, “The EYES have it!”

Thanks, David!

lawprof

I found this puzzle particularly satisfying because I had nothing, zilch, nada in the top third. First fill was 25A ALGIERS (considered ALGeria, until the terminal letter had to be an "s" because 14D was clearly a plural).

Still, the NW was a complete mystery until I picked up the theme and was able to fill in the EYE part of 1A, which brought everything together. But for the longest time I thought this was going to be a DNF.

For me, these challenges that go from hopeless to triumph in an instant are the most enjoyable. Thank you, Mr. Wilk.

chefbea

Had to google the people in the north west. Other than that..pretty easy.

Loved the clue for 25 down!!!

Carola

I wasn't the GAYEST person when after my first "fill in the easy ones" pass I had only ERIC and ERMA to keep me company. Finding ERMA more congenial, I started from the bottom and meandered to the top, enjoying much along the way. Thankfully caught on to the reveal before tackling that NW corner, where the EYE let me guess at MEYER. Anyway - finished, but it wasn't easy for me at all.

@acme - I had the same thought about all the names; I counted 24 proper nouns or acronyms. It seemed like a lot, but perhaps that was because I knew so few. MAYBE EARL, ERIC, ENYA and ERMA can go on a double date.

oldbizmark

what is this? tuesday?

Gill I. P.

Between MEYER, SETH, YOST, RHONDA IRENA, ERIC and the other nine names, I said YECH...MGM CIA THE EZR LVI AOL and ULE made me scrambling to find something I really liked. THE theme was just fine and then I kept looking at VOLLAYERS and thought YEOW....
Not my favorite DLW by a far shot...

Nick

Way too many trivia answers. Felt like a random quiz. No fun. Again.

Anonymous

Perches

Bob Kerfuffle

Very clever puzzle. I had to check twice that the letters in the circles made no sense before surrendering to the idea that it was only the circles themselves that counted.

But - wish I had time now to look this up - wondered about 41 A, "Language whose alphabet reads from right to left" - URDU. Is URDU simply one of those languages in which everything reads from right to left? Could the same clue be used for, say, Hebrew? Or does the Urdu alphabet appear "backward" in otherwise left-to-right text?

Two Ponies

Too many names.
Who says or writes yech???
The gimmick was OK but the fill was horrid. The NW should have been tossed back for revision.

Weirdball, bizarroid puz theme. So, clearly I'm on board with this. Actually, he had me with ULE. Or that cool "me say" clue.

Are the circled letters, themselves, part of some cool meta-puz? Maybe yes. Maybe no. I'll have to get back to you on that one. Don't see any dice numbers, tho...

thUmbsUp.

Sandy K

Thought it was clever, but couldn't wait to figure out what the circled words would spell out...

Agree with @Nanpilla- should've
been BAG, or REd, or something. That really would've been impressive.

Paul Keller

The NW corner got me as well. After guessing TUSSLE then HASSLE, I was left with _ASSLE and still couldn't get RASSLE. Sadly, I didn't know that was a word. I used google to find MACYS. From there, I found it possible to get the rest of the NW without knowing any of the names. YECH replaced YUCK leading to ITHAS. That allowed me to correct ETRE to ERAT (I was trying common latin words). I was then able to figure all the names without having known any of them. All that is just to say that the NW was tougher than the rest of the grid and too tough for me, but I wouldn't say it was unfair.

North Beach

Shouldn't 29A clue be Mic holders instead of Mike?

Bob Kerfuffle

@North Beach - My Merriam-Webster's dates the use of "mike" for "microphone" to 1924.

I have always preferred "mike." "Mic" looks to me as if it should be pronounced "mick."

R. Duke
This comment has been removed by the author.
R. Duke

ArtO - Rex knew Yost because the clue is for Ned Yost, current manager of the KC Royals.

Notsofast

Nice work! Fun and crunchy! A tip of Richard Petty's festooned cowboy hat to NASCAR and RASSLE!

benko

The theme was easy, but some of the other fill was hard, for me. I lost a lot of time with RHONDA.

Anonymous

1) Ugh! Yuch on Yech!

2) Too many abbreviations for all the three letter answers.
LBJ, mcs, jrs, Ezr, Ees, mgm, cia, itt, ees rns,. aol, and of course the random year of LVI.
3) Don't leave out the four letter sbbrevs of esth and ISBN
4) and the 6 letter NASCAR

Having the circles be meaningless in terms of English made the puzzle odd.

quilter1

Making monster cookies for my grandson today so came here late. I remember Carol HEISS skating--on black and white TV! But DNF as that tiny SW corner remained a mystery. I enjoyed the puzzle.

mac

How funny, it's about the circles, not the letters in them.

Medium Thursday for me, not as smooth as it could be. I like frenzies, Algiers, laureates, volleyers, rassles is a new one, and my spell check doesn't like it either.

Liberace

27D deserved a better clue

Eric

I don't know...I always look forward to Thursdays and expect to be "Aha!"'d. This was more a "hm, i get it. ok."

Nevertheless, it's always a pleasure seeing my name in the grid (ERIC). Even more so since I just out with my buddy SETH over the weekend. Coincidence that they're crossing?

Also, as an el-hi jewish day school student (side note: I only know "el-hi" from crosswords and am tickled pink to finally use it!), I have an issue with considering ESTHer and EZRa as part of the Old Testament.

The "Old Testament" refers almost explicitly to the Torah, aka the Five Books of Moses (Gen, Exod, Lev, Deut, Num). ESTHer and EZRa are both found in the Book of Writings.

The Tanakh is the compendium of the Torah, The Book of Prophets (Nevi'im), and the Book of Writings (Ketuvim) (T + N + Kh = Tanakh). So, had the clue referenced either the Book of Writings or the Tanakh, I'd accept it. But to say these two books were in the Old Testament is just simply incorrect.

Steve Marcotte

Anyone else have Wednesday's puzzle printed in today's paper?

Anoa Bob

First impression: YEOW, that's a lot of black squares! Yep, 40 of 'em. That usually means a lot of short, suboptimal fill. Yep, plenty of that too. YECH! At least 20 three-letter entries. (I was going to say three-letter words, but so few of them are actually words. Well, there is an ASS.)

There's a liberal sprinkling of POC's (Plural Of Convenience), including three of the longer entries, RAILROADS, and the HEISS assisted LAUREATES and VOLLEYERS. Easy way to make 8-letter words fit into 9-letter slots.

Overall I thought it was an imaginative theme idea, but the black square laden grid put too much constraint on fill options.

retired_chemist

A good puzzle. Medium here.

Lots of names, but I knew MACY'S and ALGIERS, pulled SETH, MIMI, ENYA, HEISS, and RHONDA out of thin air, and had some idea about RAWLS. AMORY needed all the crosses.

Got the theme before all the EYEs were in place, so it helped.

Fun theme, liked most of the fill. No complaints.

Thanks, Mr. Wilk.

syndy

I loved the crossword circle as the anti-hero!The fill is SO bad I wonder if it was on purpose!MAYBE YES MAYBE NO! EYE can't be the most constraining theme to work in.surely? Certainly not fill that resembles a Batman episode.SO it kinda amused me.(much more than blogger is)

Benko

For Christians, every book of the bible prior to Matthew is considered part of the Old Testament, so the clue is fine.

Nero

Another mid-century date that coulda been almost anything. YECH.

MMC (I, V, X) may not be in the middle of the century, but they are between the first and last years of it. Ergo, they are valid answers.

Ellen S

Before I get distracted by discussing the puzzle, @Loren, it's not hard to make links for the web addresses you often include. However, the tutorial OFL links to in his FAQs shows a lot of options that Blogger doesn't support, but worse, it is wrong. The FAQ thing says you can put in "mywebpage.html" but you need to put the full address: "http://www.mywebpage.html". You can easily get the correct address by copying straight from the address bar on the page you want to link to. I made a tutorial, that MetaRex was able to use, so I bet you can, too.

I had fun with the puzzle once I got to it. I had missed most of last week, so I never noticed that R.alph Bunker's Gridfinger app had given me last Thursday's puzzle. Finished it and came here to discover my error. Then no matter how much I deleted the just-finished puzzle, Gridfinger would not display it. Sulked off to bed and did the puzzle this morning, BAGS UNDER my EYES from staying up doing the wrong one.

This was filled with bonuses: not one but two Old Testament Books (abbr) in one puzzle, even if they're not, really. And not one but tworandom French words plus the setting of a random French novel! And a RRN! And a non-word -- RASSLE. I didn't mind "YER OUT", because it was clued ("Ump's cry")in a way that signaled, at least to me, a colloquialism. But RASSLE for "scrap", I just dunno. That corner held out to the end. I put in MEYER right away and then began to doubt myself, because it gave me nothin'. Not helped by my putting in "by the CIRCLES" instead of "IT HAS CIRCLES."

@Eric, as a secular Jew who never went to religious school, I thought everything before the New Testament is in the Old Testament, so I appreciate the info.

@Bob Kerfuffle, wikipedia says Urdu has a right-to-left alphabet, but I don't understand that either. The language is written right to left, like Hebrew, Arabic and several others. But ... well, I guess they'd write the alphabet that way, too.

Bird

Disappointing puzzle. Today is Thursday so where’s the gimmick, the rebus, the switching of letters? And this should be a Monday/Tuesday puzzle if change some of the cluing/fill.

Write-overs:
YUCK before YECH
STRIKE before YER OUT

Uglies:
RASSLE
VOLLEYERS (What the?! Yeah they might volley, but does that make them volleyers?)
LVI
MCS

Z

Parent missed a meeting on Monday. I adjusted my schedule and agreed to meet this morning at 7:30. No shows again. What an ASS.

RASSLE? Twilight is just something the boys make fun of in this house, so -EYE- could have been rEYEs or fEYER or lEYEl for all I knew. Got RASSLE but it seems not quite right for "scrap."

Otherwise, I like the use of the circles. Happily, the computer versions are able to accommodate the circles so I didn't have to read complaints about the inadequacies of the software.

ALGIERS

Lewis

The NW had too many unknowns for me at first, but I cracked it open by changing YuCk to YECH. I think putting BAGS under the EYES would have made the puzzle too easy after a solver figured out the gimmick. I think making the words in the circles spell something would have made this grid way too constraining.

I did smile at the theme and was proud to complete this without Googling, considering the number of answers that weren't in my wheelhouse.

A good workout for me...

Rob C

@Eric - I've always been under the impression that New vs. Old Testament is a Christian distinction and terminology. And being that the clue was offered using this Christian terminology, the clue/answer was correct. Do Jews call the Torah the Old Testament? I'd like to be enlightened if I'm wrong about this.

M and A Anagram Report

Goin the anagrams route with the 15 circled letters didn't yield a whole lot. My faves:

2. I SEE ZERO ON RADAR

Item 1 could be one of the tavern commandments. Item 2 pretty much sums up my research efforts.

Possible honorable mention to
I NEED ZORROS AREA

It don't make much sense, but ZORRO kinda rules. Anybody do better? Heck, if y'all spent the day watchin Zorro reruns, you pretty much come out lookin like masters of time management, next to M&A.

sanfranman59

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

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

Thu 13:32, 16:53, 0.80, 15%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 8:24, 9:49, 0.86, 20%, Easy-Medium

Carola

@M&A -
Ramona, duck! = M and A, u rock! Agree about Zorro.

Melissa Tidwell

My (print edition) of the Times also had Wednesday's paper in it instead of today's. Weird. When I opened the Arts section and saw the article about Pearl Buck's newly discovered novel, I thought, "didn't I read about that somewhere else recently?" It turns out I did, yesterday, in the Times, on that same page that somehow turned up in Thursday's section, wrong date at the top and everything. Very poor proofing somewhere along the line. The website should be offering a free download of the puzzle for us print subscribers who were denied our brain workout today.

DPH

Drivers in NASCAR races wear fire-resistant clothing, but they are not "members" of NASCAR any more than a baseball player is a member of the league in which his team plays.

LaneB

Loy og Google opportunities for this one: enya, seth,rhonda,warwick and HEISS. I don't know my Old Testament, so I had to look up the books and figure based on the letters already in place. I simply can't do the later-week puzzles without resorting to some Googling.Otherwise, no fun at all.

Mitzie

Wilk! That's what I tell my 3-year-old he has when we put water in his milk cup.

Tita

@Liberace - LOL!!

Wow - how unusual that the dead tree solvers are the ones complaining for a change.

@Ellen - so solly - there are occasionally delays in updating of the puzzes.

OK - I've got a backlog of Daily Shows to catch up on - been out all week.

@Mr. Levinson Wilk - my favorite thing about yer puzz is that, as @mac said, it's not about what's IN the circles.

michael

An exceptionally easy Thursday for me. I slowed up a bit in the NW (tussle instead of rassle), but not for long.

sanfranman59

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 7:18, 6:14, 1.17, 96%, Challenging (8th highest ratio of 179 Mondays)
Tue 9:09, 8:09, 1.12, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 8:47, 10:00, 0.88, 24%, Easy-Medium
Thu 13:26, 16:53, 0.80, 15%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:21, 3:46, 1.16, 94%, Challenging
Tue 5:23, 4:49, 1.12, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:10, 5:45, 0.90, 25%, Easy-Medium
Thu 7:58, 9:49, 0.81, 15%, Easy

Go Sharks!

Frank Solensky

21A: "Churchill, e.g.". Tory? IIRC he was in both the Liberal and Conservative parties but never the Tory party.

Phil @

Eric is mistaken. For Jews the equivalent of Christian Old testament would be The Hebrew Bible ( which is a neutral term that is often used in secular scholarship) Tanakh or sometimes Torah. However "Torah" may also be ised more narrowly to refer to the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses (i.e. the first five books of the OT: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).
PHIL

rain forest

Mostly what everyone has said. This was a fun, easy puzzle where once you saw the first set of circles under EYE, the rest were simply entered, and then the theme revealer filled in.

FYI, and I know I'm speaking to maybe only three people, YECH is/was a favourite word in MAD Magazine which I read all the time as a lad. I miss MAD and POGO...

spacecraft

@Two Ponies: MAD Magazine used the expression "YECH" frequently--sometimes spelled with an extra C, for, um, emphasis.

Yes, this is another theme that gives away the store, so does not quite make it into Thursday territory, IMO. And although I did very much enjoy the twin framers of the central 15 with AGITATOR and FRENZIES, I would hardly call the fill "solid."

Unless you mean solid consonants: LBJ JRS RNS MGM MCS. Add to that EZR, ESTH, EES, ENS and the dreaded Romanumeral, and the result is YECH.

Hardest part (and that not very) was sussing out RASSLE from just "Scrap." I guess not mentioning "slang" was enough to upgrade it to a Thursday slot. MAYBEYESMAYBENO.

Dirigonzo

Easy if you knew most of the proper names, which I did not but I still managed to RASSLE it to one blank square, #1 right up there in the top left corner. By the time I arrived back there I was too tired to run tha alphabet (again) and I knew neither the author or the actress so I called it a day. "Sharp-ass frÃ¨re" sounds like urban slang for a really well-dressed dude in QuÃ©bec.

Waxy in Montreal

Well @Diri, guess that excludes me especially on a hot day in Ã‰TE here on the ÃŽLE de MontrÃ©al.

Another fun puzzle, perhaps Tuesday-like in difficulty but, like yesterday's, fresh and a pleasure to solve. Only real difficulty I had was in the NW corner but figuring out the theme led to the EYE in MEYER and the rest fell into place.

Waxy in Montreal

BTW, the fact that I'm far more familiar with the works of Russ, rather than Stephanie, MEYER may speak volumes about my life and times!

Dirigonzo

@Waxy - if you mean this Russ Meyer, "Meyer is known primarily for writing and directing a series of successful low-budget sexploitation films that featured campy humor, sly satire and large-breasted women such as Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" (wiki) I think you'd agree he was not an "ass-frÃ¨re" but more of a...well, you know what I mean.

Waxy in Montreal

@Diri, yup!

Anonymous

Didn't know any of the proper names, either -- gotta be a popular culture fan, I suppose. But Googling the Twilight author revealed that her first name is not STEPHANIE but STEPHENIE. One day, when a seven-letter word is clued "Twilight author Meyer" this information may be of value.

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