Celebrity cosmetician Laszlo / THU 3-27-14 / Frog's alter ego, in a fairy tale / Abba not known for singing

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Constructor: Jean O'Conor

Relative difficulty: Slightly tough for a Thursday

THEME: FULL CIRCLE — grid contains the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle, plus the FULL CIRCLE kicker

Word of the Day: TASMANIA (Southernmost state) —
Forever the butt of mainland jokes, Tasmania) has shrugged off the stigma of its isolation – the whole world seems to be discovering the physically dazzling, unique and accessible island. Suitably impressed, and a tad sheepish, the rest of Australia has finally stopped laughing and started visiting. ‘Tassie’ (as it’s affectionately known) has it all: vast, uninhabited slabs of wilderness, swimming at Seven Mile Beach, bountiful wildlife in Narawntapu National Park, gourmet food and wine in the Tamar Valley, a thriving arts scene and new-found urban cool.(www.lonelyplanet.com)
• • •

Matt Gaffney pinch-blogging for Rex for one day, and I got a very nice crossword to write about. It will probably be one of the five puzzles I nominate for Crossword of the Month at my blog next week, and that includes work published anytime in March in any medium in the country. It's a novel and interesting theme idea and, with one point of exception, very nicely executed.

The grid conceals PI R SQUARED and 2 PI R in symmetrically placed down entries, which tell you the measurements around or inside a circle. Then there's a nice-but-not-necessary FULL CIRCLE kicker clued as (10-A: With 66-Across, back to the beginning ... or a description of 21- and 48-Down?), referring back to the formulas. And here are the six entries that cross them:

Theme answers:

LIFE OF (PI) (20-A: Best seller about shipwreck survivors)
R MONTHS (24-A: September through April, in a culinary guideline)
(SQUARED) AWAY (28-A: Settled up)
SIDE 2 (47-A: Where to find "Yesterday" on the album "Help!")
MAGNUM, (P.I). (53-A: Tom Selleck title role)
R MOVIES (58-A: "The Godfather" parts I, II and III, e.g.)

Note some fine points in the execution of this theme: 1) the two formulas are placed symmetrically in the grid; 2) PI is used as one lexical unit in both cases, not just as the letters "PI" in a longer word; 3) the R is used as the letter R itself in both cases, not as part of a word. That is really maximizing this theme's potential; if she had just used the letters PI in longer words and/or just used the R's as part of longer words no one would have complained (or if they had, they would have been plausibly accused of nitpicking), but these two elegant touches  elevate the theme considerably.

Another aspect of the execution I liked was how much information was given to the solver. I knew something was up in the middle of the grid but didn't know quite what; then I thought we might be getting two PI R SQUAREDs or something? But no, two different formulas, with "full circle" describing both. So a nice little mystery to unravel.

Apple Pi 

So what's the exception to this puzzle's execution? It would have been extremely cool if it had run on Friday, March 14th, a.k.a. National Pi Day (3.14 being the date, of course). Maybe it's rare to have a Friday themed puzzle, but I'm pretty sure it's happened before and this would've been a perfect time for an exception. Would've added another nice level of "aha!" for solvers at no extra charge.

The grid was good, with not many Scowl-O-Meter triggers (WAC/DAR might be a tough cross, but not much beyond that) and some nice entries like BIKINI TOP, Word of the Day TASMANIA, ARTEMIS and SEWED UP. The whole NW corner is elegant.

That's it from me. Visit a bunch of cool crossword websites here.

Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent of CrossWorld for today only


Pi Patel 12:10 AM  

You know, the tiger was only my animal self, right?

jae 12:19 AM  

Medium for me and just about right for a Thurs.  A bit of trickiness, some crunch, and a fair amount of zip.   Plus, I feel a little like I 'm back in the 9th grade for some reason? 

Haven't seen PSY in a while.  Is that over?

Spelled ELIXIR right this time (good morning @lms).

Nice pairing of BIKINI TOP and SEDUCER.   Now if 41d had been clued "Dog's greeting" we might have something going.

Thanks for filling in Matt.

Liked it. 

Evan 12:21 AM  

I'm a little more lukewarm on this puzzle than Matt was (thanks for filling in). It's a clever concept, no doubt, and the last spaces I filled in were the rebus squares. It was an interesting challenge, but a few things brought it down a couple of notches.

First, I thought the asymmetry of FULL and CIRCLE was kinda inelegant -- I mean, the circle is such a great symbol of balance and symmetry, I would have preferred FULL CIRCLE to have been one entry, and perhaps matched with another 10-letter answer having to do with shapes or circles in particular. Second, R-MOVIES felt a little off to my ear, where R-RATED MOVIES seems more natural. I mean, I've never heard of G-MOVIE or PG-MOVIE before, either. B-MOVIE is the only letter+MOVIE term I know as an actual phrase.

Finally, I don't see why they had to do SERENADED/DAR/C-SPOT, with DAR crossing WAC. Why not SERENADES/SIR/G-SPOT, with SIR crossing WIG?

I will fully agree with Matt on doing those other indie puzzlers' stuff -- Andy's latest was a real tough one to crack, but very satisfying once I got it.

John Child 12:25 AM  

The Magmic app doesn't accept the solution Matt posted though. It requires SIDE[PI] for me. Anyone else see this?

Matt Gaffney 12:28 AM  

Evan's own puzzle is here, which I neglected to include: www.devilcross.com

Agree that the asymmetry of FULL / CIRCLE is a little jarring. Maybe this would've been a good time to have a circle of circled squares spell FULL CIRCLE in the grid? Might be tough to pull off.

R-MOVIES was a little weird too, which I notices as well but didn't bring up.

I doubt G-SPOT would be acceptable in an NYT, and I'd be surprised if it's ever been used. I'll check now. Wrong, it's appeared eight times, including one I wrote in 1997. So yeah, should've been done then.

JFC 12:29 AM  

Matt, I mean no disrespect but here is my problem. I read Rex day after day and he harps on fill being sub par, either because it is trite or doesn't register with the common experience. This puzzle is so ELITIST it makes me ill. You say nothing about inserting "2" or the need to know geometry in solving this puzzle's theme ("R" means something?). Radius doesn't quite come across. Otherwise, I agree the puzzle has wonderful cluing. But not everyone who does this puzzle is "elevated." You know, if you remove ev, you get elated....


Anonymous 12:31 AM  

I can't count the number of times I've come to this blog hoping, praying that Rex will open up a big can of whoop-ass and tear the constructor a new one. And I'm almost always disappointed. He always seems to respect the puzzles I can't stand and to save his sharpest barbs for the ones I like. But this time... this time I was sure that with a puzzle this horrifying... But it was not to be. Not only was Rex away from his desk, his stand-in thought the puzzle was mighty fine. Oh the humanity. I confess that gimmicky puzzles usually try my patience and so I frequently avoid Thursday altogether, but today against my better judgement I thought "what the hell". I got through it but what a chore! Our guest reviewer is certainly right that this puzzle should have run on pi day. That it did not only leaves me saying "why? Oh why?". Does anyone say "R movie" isn't it "R-rated movie"? And it's "Magnum P.I." not "Magnum pi", so I don't see what's so clever about these crosses. And "r months"? Do people know this? I googled this and apparently it has to do with when it's safe to eat oysters, unless you're in the southern hemisphere I guess. Also it's "sewn up" not "sewed up", as any boob can tell you. You hold a banister on a flight? What is the explanation there? And finally "oaty"? Ugh. I need a drink.

SarahF5 12:32 AM  

What do you mean by SIDE[PI]? I'm frustrated with the Magmic app as well...

John Child 12:37 AM  

@SarahF5 I mean that SIDE2 isn't accepted but SIDE and then PI as a rebus square is declared correct.

Anonymous 12:43 AM  

Thank you, John Child. How did it ever occur to you to try SIDE [PI]? Thanks to you I got a top ten magmic time!

Michael Berman 12:45 AM  

So you find "Yesterday" on SIDE PI - wow, Magmic is seriously broken (again)

Anonymous 12:53 AM  

Weird, you're totally right. So vertically the bottom formula is PI/PI/R. How did you figure that out? Clearly a mistake in the app versions... Thanks!!

Andy 12:57 AM  

John , thank you for the side pi solution. I thought I was losing it there for a while.

Grrrrrr Magmic..........again

Bob O'Brien 12:59 AM  

OK... I'm using magmic... i got the PI/PI/R vertically... it's still not letting me go. Did you spell "SQUARED" out in the upper formula? or is "SQ" correct?

wreck 1:03 AM  

Thanks John Child --- same Magmic issue. By the way... my app is STILL hanging up when trying to open while "LOADING!" I have to completely power down my ipad every time I open the puzzle.

JTHurst 1:04 AM  

With trepidation I started the puzzle realizing it is rebus Thursday, but the East side seemed to come easily with no rebi except for r months, r movies, and c spot. Then the West ground to halt especially on the rebus squares (I hate rebus puzzles). It also did not help that I put artemis in 56a instead of 36a. I had a hard time with that. I then solved 1a with my crosses and sat and pondered 'list on'. What does that have to do with Clay pounder, trying for the life of me to find some tennis relationship.

Then it dawned upon me like the clouds parting, the sun driving away negative puzzle thoughts, and I realized Sonny was pounding on Cassius (had't changed his name yet) and I started laughing, nay laughing but roaring, and it all seemed rosy and fine in cruciverbal land. One clever clue and solution can make all things right.

Anonymous 1:07 AM  

"Pi PI R " is "two PI R" not mathematical, but it works.

Anonymous 1:08 AM  

In Indiana we say R-Movie: "My mom doesn't like R-Movies -- too much violence."

So, maybe a regional thing.

Enjoyed it!

Anonymous 1:12 AM  

I can't get magmic to accept my puzzle. Right now I have PI R 2 in the top rebus and PI PI R in the bottom one, per instruction here. Still not working. Help?

wreck 1:16 AM  


You have to spell out SQUARED instead of 2

SarahF5 1:17 AM  

Thank you, you're a lifesaver! Or at least a sanity-saver...

Carola 1:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 1:57 AM  

I really enjoyed figuring this one out, although I was verrry slow on the uptake. I'd gotten my start below the diameter and figured the "Help" clue must refer to SIDE a, to fit with a Down answer beginning aPI_, where the blank might also be a rebus SQUARE for a kind of MOVIE. Much grid roaming with ??? over my head. The cross of PERSEVERE and SEWED UP tells the rest of my tale.

Thought TAX EVADER was great, as well as SEDUCERS with SERENADED (Bryn Terfel as Don Giovanni).

@Anonymous 12:31 - Think of a banister on a flight of stairs.

@Matt Gaffney - Thanks for the write-up. I hadn't noticed your point about the Rs. More to admire!

Steve J 1:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 2:00 AM  

Matt: How is the fact that the editor didn't choose to run the puzzle on March 14 a flaw of the puzzle's execution? As I know you know, constructors don't get to choose when their puzzles run. Saying this is an issue with the puzzle's execution is like saying Peyton Manning had a bad day because, while he went 30-for-36, with 427 yards, 4 TD and no interceptions, he was playing on a Thursday. If one thinks this is a good puzzle, the editor's choice to run it on a different day has absolutely nothing to do with the quality or execution of the puzzle.

As far as the puzzle itself, and what is within the constructor's control: My take is similar to Evan's. This was an interesting idea (and hardly elitist, @JFC's protestations to the contrary; remembering basic mathematical formulas is just as appropriate for a Thursday as remembering where TASMANIA is located, remembering conductors or operas, etc.), but the seemingly random placement of the theme answers stripped it of its potential elegance. Yes, the two formulas are symmetrical, but FULL and CIRCLE just appear to have been plopped wherever they would fit. I definitely would have liked to have seen symmetry there.

Despite that, and despite Magmic's sucking yet again (@John Child: Thanks for pointing out how to get the puzzle to submit as correct; how you figured that out, I'll never know), this was a record-fast Thursday for me.

Loved the clue for TAX EVADER, by the way. BANISTER had a really nice clue, too. Meanwhile, the clue for ONE ALL (which, yes, I read for a very long time as O'Neall) was incredibly clunky.

Steve J 2:05 AM  

Btw, thanks for the links to the various indies, Matt. All but a couple are in my regular rotation, but I'll definitely check out the couple that are new to me. If they're as good as the others, I know I'll be happily entertained.

Phill 2:12 AM  

DNF only because.. Get this..
Pi z z A pi e

Knew r months but couldn't connect
Z away? Who knows maybe I need to coin a new phrase.

Guessed an epic series may be called 'e' movies

Otherwise fun puzzle elsewhere

chefwen 2:28 AM  

Got the whole thing done minus one square. Being dumber than a box of rocks with anything mathematical (much to my father's dismay) I just couldn't figure out how SIDE A OR B was going to work with 48D. Oh well, color me stoopid.

With all of the griping about Magmic, I'm so happy with my little piece of paper and pen.

Anonymous 2:32 AM  

Thanks @ John Child. I can't imagine how you figured it out.

Moly Shu 4:12 AM  

Same hangup as @chefwen, SIDEa/b. Finally got to 2 and finished. Got the gist of 1A at first reading but put Norton in instead of LISTON, then thought, wait a sec, he was Ali when he fought Norton, who did he fight when he was Clay?


NAAN and ORO, not so much.

One day atomic numbers, the next day math. What will tomorrow be?? Quantum Physics?? (I'm hoping for baseball)

Really liked this one. Thanks @Matt for the write up.

Danp 5:47 AM  

I never heard of 2(PI)R. I was simply taught (PI) D (for diameter). I've also never seen a puzzle where a digit was used only once in the puzzle.

pauer 5:51 AM  

Neat puz! Might have been better to spell out FULLCIRCLE using circles, but the idea was certainly novel and should be applauded. Sounds like Magmic should not be app-lauded. :)

FWIW, I also offer a free monthly xword on my website, www.patrickblindauer.com, and you can also preregiister there for my next Puzzlefest (an interconnected set of xwords with a final answer), which has a collegiate theme and should be ready in the next day or two. Hope to see you on campus.

Glenn 6:09 AM  

Holy smoke, John, however did you figure out the Magmic error? Thanks!!!

Rex Parker 6:56 AM  


Muscato 7:13 AM  

Oy. Between the math and the Magmic glitch, add me to the grumpy list on this one. I'd rather wade through a few ULEEs and ONERs than deal with formulas (and in rebuses) to boot over my morning coffee.

I lost time because apparently I'm the last person in the world who remembers the obscure Tom Selleck flick "Quigley Down Under." Well, it fit, sort of, for a whle...

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

And leaving out the R movies (R rated where I live), since when do we say Side 2 and not Side B or B side?

A good puzzle with serious problems.

Danp 7:29 AM  

Singles are sides A and B, but albums are sides 1 and 2.

AliasZ 7:41 AM  

It would have made this one more interesting if FULL CIRCLE were a single entry, symmetrically paired with Archimedes or Pythagoras (Πυθαγόρας). Otherwise it was a pleasant enough puzzle, R-MOVIES, PSY, ONEA and ONEALL notwithstanding. Also, the π theme could have been expanded to include the Πttsburgh Πrates, πckled πgsfeet, πanissimo πzzicato or a πnt of πlsner.

I had the love the ELIXIR of Love by Donizetti not that long ago, so here is Satchmo and MACK the Knife.

SpongeBob lives in BIKINI Bottom.

RavTom 7:47 AM  

Another joy of solving on paper: no Magmic problems. It took me a while to put in LISTON, because in that fight he was much more the poundee than the pounder.

Susan McConnell 8:18 AM  

I agree that this would have been really fun to find on 3/14...what a missed opportunity. I liked, not loved it. I had just done the latest Fireball last night, so had to chuckle when I came across the LAVA clue.

And I had never seen acrossanddown.net before...that was fun!

NCA President 8:31 AM  

I liked the puzzle overall. Unlike yesterday's foray into chemistry, I do remember geometric formulas.

I love when I finish a puzzle and the whole theme along with the answers "click," like they all fit into a zen-like balance of the obvious and mystery.

But with FULL and CIRCLE being placed asymmetrically, it just didn't quite click into place. I finished but was still left wondering. It's no big deal, but it's like setting a great cup of coffee down to go do something and completely forgetting it until it's become cold and no longer great. You still drink it, but grudgingly.

Mohair Sam 8:34 AM  

Liked this one a lot, not quite as much as Mr. Gafney, but a lot. Played easy/medium here. Thought the theme was very clever, and really didn't notice or care about the placement of FULL CIRCLE. Sure, making it one word might have made the puzzle better, but as Dumas said "Better is the sworn enemy of good." I wonder how many strong clues would have been lost and crosswordese added to "perfect" this effort.

I say and hear movie letters without the word "rating" frequently so had no problem there.

But like @RavTom I hesitated in entering LISTON because he was indeed the poundee. Kinda like cluing Ahab as white whale whipper.

This played like a tough Wednesday for us, so maybe O'Connor/Shortz should have made the grumps happy here and waited 4 years to run this thing on a Pi day. Just sayin'.

Z 8:36 AM  

@magicmic users - get a different app. I use Crux when I solve on the iPad. There are others that have gotten rave reviews here.

If I remember correctly (I haven't looked at a Scope and Sequence lately) the circle formulas are first taught in 7th grade, now. 7th grade math can't be too elitist for the NYTX, can it?

I thought Cassius pounded Sonny, so I'm glad Frazier was too long. Only other hang up was -serIES before I got the theme. I had the entire east solved except for the theme made itself apparent to me. Fixing -MOVIES, made the R and the the theme apparent (R-MOVIE in Michigan, too - a Midwest thing?). Played pretty easy here, although I didn't look at the clock before I started.

I like the BANISTER clue, had me in a plane before I landed on my steps. Cute.

I wonder how often you hear PSY at HOEDOWNS.

Milford 8:54 AM  

For whatever reason, the only way my puzzle got accepted by Magmic was to have SIDE P. So the circle formula reads P - PI - R. Which of course makes even less sense.

And yes, I had SQUARED completely spelled out in the rebus square.

Hope that helps.

Sir Hillary 8:54 AM  

This is an example of a puzzle that was well-constructed and clever, yet did absolutely nothing for me. The best thing I can say is that the theme and the formulas were the last pieces to fall, so at least the best part was saved for the end.

Writeover: Steals/SHIFTS (baseball on the brain). Anyone else?

County fairs are not my area of expertise, but is FOURH really legit? Isn't it always 4H? To me, it's like saying the Post-It manufacturer is ThreeM.

DeeJay 9:01 AM  

For you Beatles fans out there, Yesterday was released on the UK version of the HELP album, but not on the North American version.

loren muse smith 9:14 AM  

Very early on I got what I can only imagine a lot of us middle-of-the-road solvers get: that Rebus Tickle. Elite solvers probably mostly mow through something like this and not experience those several minutes, and then several more minutes (and then several more), that you know there's some funny business going on but you can't quite sniff it out yet.

I got the PI part, but (@chefwen, @Moly Shu) – me, too, for not losing SIDE "A" or "B" – my ultimate undoing. I just didn't see/remember the math formulas. Formulae. Formulaes.

@Steve J – "remembering basic mathematical formulas is just as appropriate for a Thursday as remembering where TASMANIA is located, remembering conductors or operas, etc." Hmm. Let me chew on that one for a while. For me, "basic mathematical formula" is an oxymoron these days. And I did not know that TASMANIA was the "southernmost state." I got it with the crosses, but I see your point.

I resisted SEDUCERS forever because it doesn't feel feminine to me, and "sirens" feel more like seductresses.

"Plastic" before ELASTIC. "Lego" before NERF. Pele before PEAL. ;-)

SEWED UP – I get a kick out of watching these irregular verbs go mainstream, not that I'm all sweeped up in language or anything. Yesterday I heard someone say, "We speeded along. . . "

LIE LOW. Ok. So the part of me that gets a kick out of watching the above sewn become SEWED completely vanishes and The Usage %$#hole Police emerges when it comes to the fact that the whole LIE/lay distinction is vanishing. Two days ago at PF, I tried a new machine. The paid-for-professionally –stamped-on-instructions said, "Lay on the padded blah, blah. . ." Mercifully I quashed the urge to scamper off to tell someone behind the desk that, in fact, it should say "LIE on the blah blah…" But this internal struggle gets worse: when faced with actually saying the word lain, The Usage %$#hole Police quietly goes back down inside, and I say laid because it sounds better.

Matt – appreciated you filling in. I always enjoy your takes on the puzzles.

Rex – thanks for the link to Hayley's page – I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Jean – impressive rebus. I liked that the whole thing centered on just two little 3-square parts. Cool.

dk 9:19 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 Moons) Hold on to your fork: It is Pi day.

The spelling out of SQUARED as a rebus or whatevah messed me up. Once I realized it was side 2 not B (as in a 45 PRM) I was tucked in. Away I went looking for radi etc.

May we please poop can OATY? Do we call some Chex ricey… no we do not ee?

evil doug 9:22 AM  

Gotta love a woman who says "laid".


Glimmerglass 9:25 AM  

@Anonymous12:31. Next time: Drink first, blog second.

Casco Kid 9:37 AM  

90 minutes. No googles. One error: Scratched at EBeN/eVIA. Total guess with that erroneous 'e'. True Natick for me. Who or what are EBAN/AVIA?

Entire west side was Friday hard.

live for ONTV
StealS for SHIFTS
casius for LIPTON
Riot for ROAR
oNLINE for INLINE (consider the source!)
MaS for MDS, as medical assistants are true patient helpers

@wreck, I have the same "Loading" bug in Magmic. Faster soln is to press the Home button twice in rapid succession then slide the apps laterally until Magmic is in full view, then drag Magmic off the screen to the north. That kills the process. Much faster than doing the 2 minute full reboot.

@john, thanks for the PI PI R reveal. My time suffered twenty minutes while I checked everything else twice, then checked Rex's solution twice.

Pete 9:40 AM  

In looking at Across and Down (and anyone who's looking for a graphic artist and not hiring that woman is an idiot) it occured to me that next year Pi day will be on 3/14/15 which is Pi to five significant digits, and the year after will be 3/14/16, Pi rounded off to four decimal places. Whatever idiots that find Pi day amusing will be in absolute hysterics.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Perhaps the first time in years that I didn't get the theme answers before all else. How embarassing that anyone would say that knowing two simple, elementary math formulas makes this elitist. If people who do the NYT crossword think this way our country is in great trouble.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

@casco kid
Abba Eban was an Israeli diplomat
Avia is an american shoe company

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

What is an R month?

RnRGhost57 10:19 AM  

Not as easy as pie but glad I PERSEVEREd.

I believe Connie MACK was the last manager to wear street clothes while sitting in the dugout during the games. Always thought that some managers (Lasorda, Weaver, Pinella) would have looked better doing the same.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

An "R" month has a "R" in it, and it's said that it's safer to eat oysters and clams, for example, in these months.

tensace 10:27 AM  

R-month is any month with an R in it. It's an oyster thing.

schmuzz 10:27 AM  

@chefwen and @danp

got the RMOVIE but didn't figure out until too late about 45's and LP's.....

so i kept in SIDEA which led me not to remember
2 PI R

but i liked it!

chefbea 10:33 AM  

Wow!!! Too tough for me. Didn't get it al all. Too many comments to read, will read them later.

Loved the clue for banister!!!...kept wanting baby something.

lindamitch 11:02 AM  

I take issue with 29 across in today's (march 27) puzzle. Whoever heard of "sleepytime TEA?" It's "Sleepytime GAL."

Milford 11:03 AM  

Liked the math-related rebus, even if the whole SIDE-2-oh-wait-maybe-it's-PI? nonsense on Magmic. Yeah, it may be time to switch to a new crossword app. The Magmic one is cheaper ($17/yr), but may not be worth all these stupid hang-ups.

MAGNUM P.I. was my lightbulb moment for this theme.

I admit that the plural reference in the clue for LIFE OF PI threw me (as the first blogger entry mentions). I read it years ago, and maybe I misunderstood the ending...

Loved the BANISTER clue, as well as the "love notes" for SERENADED. Even the play on words for "duties" for TAX EVADER was fun.

Wonder if the OLIO/ELIXIR tripped up anyone with the mistake ELIXeR/OLeO instead.

@lms - I thought of you when I confidently wrote in LIE LOW instead of Lay LOW.

@schmuzz - like the avatar! Go State!

JTHurst 11:20 AM  

@LMS why oh why did you bring up the lie/lay grammarian paradigm. My mother, the grammarian, would espouse her liturgy on the subject to me almost daily. Chicken's lay, people lie. Which I would counter with, "What about the bedtime prayer, Now I Lay me down to Sleep." Which she would counter by saying "You are laying yourself down." And so forth.

Now onto then and than, affect and effect, and so on.

Maybe Evil is right just leave it at 'laid'.

Arlene 11:20 AM  

I agree about this not being run on Pi Day. It had me leery about putting those PIs in the squares. And, yes, I solve with paper and pen, so no problems there. Just tough enough to worry about finishing - and then satisfying when it's done.

John V 11:21 AM  

DNF. Wanted SIDEB so got hung there. Got LIFEOFPI just fine but the SW did me in. Plus, just ran out of time this morning.

Thought the clue for ELASTIC felt more like Friday, making that corner pretty tough.

Steve J 11:24 AM  

@lindamitch: Sleepytime Tea.

@Z: R MOVIE must indeed be a Midwest thing. We said it growing up in Minnesota. Sentences such as "We snuck into an R MOVIE last night" were often said or heard in late junior high/early high school.

mac 11:47 AM  

DNF because of the Side A/B issue.

I initially thought it was a completely different theme, with FourH, Cspot, Rmovies and SideA/B, but I did find the "pi" squares.

This must have been a lot of fun for the people who had the formulas at their fingertips....

Sleepytime tea is delicious, and you can get it in the U.S. and all over Europe.

Matt Gaffney 11:47 AM  

Steve J. -- I should have clarified (thought it was self-evident) that the scheduling of the puzzle is the editor's task and that the constructor has nothing to do with it.

Pauer -- ugh, forgot to include you in that. So many awesome indie puzzles out there.

joefrombrooklyn 11:51 AM  

Overall easy puzzle except for the you-know-it-or-you-don't theme. I'm a long way from geometry so have completely forgotten these equations. This does not mean a crossword should not use them but the crosses that went with them were quite difficult. "R Months" and "R Movies" are obscure and clunky, respectively. "Squared Away' is okay but not great. "Side 2" could just as easily be "Side 1" "Side A" or "Side B."

I cannot remember the last time I had every square of a puzzle filled EXCEPT for the theme answers. That's pretty unsatisfying.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Side 2 tripped me too. Somehow i thought that 'a' was for the 'area' part of the formula.

My other issue which really caused a DNF was i could not let go of 'Rev' for 'ROD' as the slang term for gun, and i had 'ivS' for 'MDS' as patient helpers - this led me to think there was another rebus that somehow needed to be shoehorned into that area. Also could not figure out why the other gun clue at 36D has an abbreviation hint '.e.g.'. Should have been clued with '?' IMHO, since 'guns' are probably pretty low on the list of alternative defs for 'arms'.


Casco Kid 12:07 PM  

Sorry, but pi day as March 14 smacks of idle xeno-imperialistic numerology. In most of the world, it is written as 14/3, anyway. April 31 (or May 1) may be a day of celebration elsewhere but the only "pi" of interest to everyone -- including mathematicians -- is the one in the oven.

Knowing when the aphelion and perihelion fall, and the fact that they are pi radians (on a projected unit circle) away from each other seems marginally more interesting and useful. Jan 4, 2014 was the perihelion. July 4 is the aphelion. They are each other's pi days. And there you have it. Two PIs. One full circle/minimally-eccentric elipse.

And avoid the oyster shooters on Uncle Sam's day.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

The magmic glitch was very frustrating. SidePI? Really? Kept trying 2 and TWO, etc. Grrrrrr!

Malsdemare 12:10 PM  

I got this one!!? Holy cow, Batman, I got it. I'm doing a happy dance. And I loved it! Googled once for Laszlo, but got all the rest. Geography, math, pop culture, clever clues, did it all. In fact, I've really enjoyed this week. Y'all probably can't tell but I'm pretty pleased with myself.

Relevant to the copperhead/rat snake discussion of yesterday: here in Illinois we have fox snakes that look exactly like rattlers, even to lying in dry grass and shaking their tails to mimic a "rattle." Can't find the words to describe the experience of coming nose to nose with one while weeding. Fortunately. I had the sense to take a picture of him and sent it off to a herpetologist who confirmed fox snake. They eat mice and ground squirrels so we named him Ray and watched out for him when running the tractor mower.

@lms I'm a freelance editor and the bastardization of English is a nightmare. Authors don't like having their pearly prose corrected when it 'sounds' funny to them. I spend a lot of time trying to be tactful as I repair some really awful stuff. On the other hand, every once in a while someone comes up with something like "pullet surprise" for the Pulitzer, and my day is infinitely better.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

What a bunch of whiners it is a crossword puzzle, not Strunk and White.

wreck 12:18 PM  

I just saw on the "Magmic Forum" that they re-coded the app to accept "2" this morning!

No one there even mentioned the "LOADING" error!

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Should have said looking for another 'theme-related element', instead of rebus for Northern California area where gun clues ran roughshod.


Jisvan 12:24 PM  

More kudos to John Child, Magmic Gitch Buster! Went to bed with a heavy heart after a 90 minute wrestling match with this puzzle, then came here this morning as a humble supplicant to find the error of my ways... SIDE PI! We can add SIDE PI to our crumhorns of plenty, already overflowing with pewits and eyeholes... (Sigh of relief.) Gotta love the Rexworld bloggers...

Jack Sheedy 12:27 PM  

Where was this puzzle on March 14th?

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

Wreck -
You don't have to power your iPad off and on when you get that "downloading" freeze. Just double click the home button. All apps appear with the last screen above and the icon below. Put one finger on the screen image and swipe up. That actually quits the app. You can tell if you did it properly because the black NYT splash screen will appear the next time you launch the app.

wreck 12:34 PM  

@ Casco and Anony 12:29

Thanks - I didn't think of the "close background app" feature! I have to remember to clean the background apps more often since this started in IOS7.

desi 12:36 PM  

The best tea ever! I got it instantly. But maybe that's because of my insomnia

Scarab 12:46 PM  

If anyone's interested, here's the full explanation from Magmic:

The puzzles are served directly to Magmic from NYTimes and we don't change them. The error was purely technical and related to how the rebus was coded. It presented because this was an ultra-rare case where both rebus elements AND numbers are in the solution.

The problem occurred because the NYTimes puzzle file format uses numbers to identify a rebus so this created a conflict where the number 2 became incorrectly referenced as a rebus. (1 was PI, and 3 was SQUARED)

I apologize for the problem and, as I said in the previous post, I corrected the problem by re-coding the puzzle. If you would like to get the updated copy, just click the refresh button in the app.

Beadola 1:15 PM  

anonymous @7:25. This is late, but perhaps you'll check back. Side A and B refer to 45's and Side 1 and 2 are albums (vinyl). The clue was which side a song is on a full album.

p.s. Rex - thanks for that link. Very clever. I'll be checking her after your blog in the future.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 1:40 PM  

thUmbsUp. Well-rounded puz. Liked the chemistry and math lessons, this week. Throw in yer dirty words and sports, from earlier on, and it's purtineer just like a high school reunion.

Kinda refreshin how all the revealer answer stuff all leaned to the right. Used to own a dog like that, called Goldwater. Suffered from Johnson problems. (har. How's that, for made-up yarnin, @muse?)

Weeject Woundup: PSY is now a nut commercial sensation.

Got a truck-driver friend with a wife named DAR -- short for Darlene.

EAU begs the question: why did French dudes decide to call their water somethin that sounds like "oh" or "ow". Maybe the first water sampled was real cold, and irritated some fierce cavity problems?

WAC: WORC cry?? This is why they pay M&A the big bucks.

Other pressin points, raised by this puz...
* $100 : CSPOT :: $1000 : ___ ?
* LISTON was more of a Patterson pounder, as I recall. Clay after their fight: "I'm still pretty!"
* Where's @63? (Am droppin the 4-Oh part)
* Why another M&A puz so soon? (Other than goin for the Gaffney Puz of the March, before it's too late) Check out 1-A, for yer answer.


Another day-um runtpuz, here:

M-SPOTS? Didn't think so.

Ray J 1:42 PM  

Abba EBAN meets Yma Sumac (and other crossword friends).

Yma Dream

bookmark 2:05 PM  

@M&A: Heard David Mitchell speak last night. He said ZachrySpeak is what English will sound like in 400-500 years. I now think of you as a wise old soul.

okanaganer 2:08 PM  

@Casco: in your honor I have decided "xeno-imperialistic numerology" is my new hobby.

Date shorthand formats are so unpredictable. I like using YYYY-MM-DD-HH:MM:SS format which is hard to misinterpret if the year is written with all 4 digits (plus, computer photo folders sort quite nicely when so named). Therefore the ultimate pi instant will occur in the early morning of May 9, year 3141. Can't wait!!!

Freddy Murcks 2:26 PM  

C SPOT? I have heard of a C note and a ten spot, but I have never once heard of a C spot. I hate it when crossword constructors use a term as though it's common knowledge when it in fact exists only in the puzzle maker's mind.

Dictionaries 2:34 PM  

Yup, C-spot is totally made up.

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

I don't like the Tasmania clue. I resisted for some time because I knew for sure Tierra del Fuego was much farther south than any state in Australia and figured the clue had to be going for something else. The only catch I could think of is that in Argentina the subdivisions are called provincias and not states. Even so, I repeat, I do not like the clue.

Regarding the comments on SEWED vs. SEWN, since the clue is Finalized, would it not be the same to say either, "We finalized the deal," or "We sewed up the deal..."

Lewis 3:13 PM  

Rex, thank you for posting that site - cool.

Felt just right for Thursday. FULL CIRCLE is a clever reveal. Yes, nice clue on BANISTER (the flight being a flight of stairs).

Learned about where TASMANIA is, and I must admit I didn't know where Crimea was until recently...

Anonymous 3:32 PM  

Where was this explanation posted? Just curious at this point, but I was keeping an eye on the support site last night looking for something to this effect, never saw anything and still can't see any posts more recent than the question posted by a user to a 2-year old thread.

wreck 3:48 PM  

@ anony 3:32


desi 4:14 PM  

Zero errors but cannot submit the result. Tried the commenters' tip above. No joy. I'm using the nyt crossword app for iPhone... It sometimes won't accept rebus answers as correct.

Questinia 4:37 PM  

Solving rebuses on the NYT app for the computer is pure joy. When suspecting a rebus square in the grid just click the esc key, enter necessary letters and punch return. Voila, teeny-tiny letters making your rebus look refined, elegant and huzzah-ready.

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

As mentioned earlier, don't look for Yesterday on the U.S. Help! album. For money reasons, Capitol invented a different album called Yesterday.. And Today, and there you will find Paul crooning Yesterday...

Anonymous 5:41 PM  

Flight of stairs

Dolgoruky 5:45 PM  

OK, OK, I get it! A bit TOO clever? I got it of course, but "Southernmost state>" What about Tierra del Fuego?

mathguy 5:49 PM  

I stared at "Settled up" referring to a blank square followed by AWAY for a long time before "squared" occurred to me. That explained there was only one square following MAGNUM. Then I was able to finish quickly.

Back when I was teaching junior high, the two formulas were taught in the eighth grade, maybe the seventh. They're probably taught earlier now.

A very nice puzzle, I would say.

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

@John Child Thank you SO much for posting about SIDE PI!!! I was losing my mind trying to get it to submit and I googled it a million ways figuring somebody must have had the same problem, and came up empty. I couldn't believe I was the only one! How did you figure that out? I never would have, because it's wrong! It's 2PI*R for circumference, not PI*PI*R. What on earth were they thinking? Not to mention SIDE PI makes absolutely no sense for SIDE 2!

Fred Romagnolo 5:58 PM  

Side B from me; and gal for sleepytime. If the pi symbol is acceptable for P. I., then four H is acceptable. I have no idea what psy is. But, I didn't have to google. I finished.

retired_chemist 6:01 PM  

Very nice puzzle. Minor complaint: AL thought I didn't finish because I too didn't like a single number in the grid. My fix: SIDE (two)/(two)(PI)R. I think TWO PI R it is just as correct as 2πR. So there, AL. I'm saying I finished even if you don't.

Hand up for pLASTIC @ 56A - thought for a moment that p-BAN was an instrumentalist with Abba. Rethought and saw the light. Very nice, that square.

22A was sweetie, leading to LEvi for 12D and some delay in the NE.

Thanks, Ms. O'Conor. Well done.

Tita 8:36 PM  

Agree 100% with Mr. Gaffney. Once I finally, finally, figured this out, the "why not on PI Day?" question came.
It took me forever because the PIs were dependant on pop that I happened to not really know.

Had MAGyver for a while, and thought maybe those were aMOVIES.

Great crunchy fun.

Thanks Ms. O'Conner!!

OISK 9:08 PM  

Finished it, admire the theme, but did not enjoy very much at all. Others have already cited my objections = It is Magnum P. I., not Pi, what is "Psy" (68 across?) never heard of Rmovies or Cspots, or the clue for "tea" Too contrived for me this time.

michael 9:10 PM  

Hesitated with Liston because, as was pointed earlier, he was the one who goy pounded. Just amazed that someone thinks a puzzle is "elitist" because it includes the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle. These seem a lot more basic than, for example ,he Temple of Artemis.

Tita 10:00 PM  

Lots o' comments, so had to stop by here in increments.

@lms - I sheepishly confess that LAY/LIE is one grammatical nit that I don't get, and probably do wrong...

@Malsdemare - my current daily battle is with "on premises" vs "on premise".
The latter *sounds* righter, right?
(In the software biz, you're either "in the cloud" or on computers in your building - on premises.)

Bob Kerfuffle 10:02 PM  


(Don't dumb down the puzzles just for me, please!)

sanfranman59 10:05 PM  

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 5:18, 6:13, 0.85, 2%, Easy (4th lowest ratio of 221 Mondays)
Tue 9:07, 8:32, 1.07, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:40, 10:13, 0.95, 38%, Easy-Medium
Thu 18:31, 18:41, 0.99, 46%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:31, 3:58, 0.89, 4%, Easy (8th lowest ratio of 221 Mondays)
Tue 5:35, 5:11, 1.08, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:46, 6:14, 0.93, 30%, Easy-Medium
Thu 14:23, 11:12, 1.28, 83%, Challenging

Since this puzzle set a new low for the number of successful solutions submitted online, I trust the Top 100 rating more than that for All Solvers. I'm guessing that like me, there were quite a few who couldn't come up with the rebus squares. I found the rest of the puzzle to be relatively easy, but ended up with a DNF.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:14 PM  

Fun puzzle, but the theme answers were the last I filled.

Anonymous 10:36 PM  

@Fred Romagnolo - never heard of Psy!!!? He is a South Korean singer. "Gangnam Style" has almost 2 BILLION views on utube and "Gentleman" has 600+ million views. But then I have preteen/teen kids. The videos are pretty entertaining actually. You should watch. You may be lucky number 2 billion! My son had a friend dress as Psy for Halloween a few years ago. He did the dance and everything.

M and Also 10:42 PM  

@BobK: har. Well, KPT #10 weren't dumbed down on purpose. Actually thought it might be a curveball for the speed-solvers, as they might have to go check the other puz. Forced research.
Maybe just a dumb constructioneer? Or a smart solver? Probably both.


Tita 11:51 PM  

@M&A - 9:26. Had to cheat.
How do I get to #9?

Anonymous 11:56 PM  


M and A Help Desk 12:01 AM  

See M&A comment at 12:18PM in yesterday's comments.

Dick Swart 12:22 AM  

I know it is late for a comment, but this is an accolade.

To have the puzzle all filled in except for 21 and 48 down and then to ponder the clue of 'full circle'.

And then to see the answer as a masterful example of cluing, an example of the flexibility of words, symbols, and sounds, and a reward to cap off the puzzle at the end!


loren muse smith 9:20 AM  

In my opinion, kids do not need to understand the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs in grammar classes; this understanding does nothing to promote better communication as, deep down (with these glaring exceptions) speakers know the difference. You never hear anyone say

*She slept the baby.
*John captured yesterday.

because we do for the most part intuitively understand transitive/intransitive.

But we have this problematic small group of pairs - sit/set, lie/lay, and rise/raise. There may be a few more pairs, but I'm typing this in a hurry.

The first words in the pairs are not supposed to be used if there's an object.

*Please sit the book on the table.
*Just lie the dress on the bed.
*I'm going to rise the flag.

What they should be –

Please set the book on the table.
Just lay the dress on the bed.
I'm going to raise the flag.

English is slowly changing so that the distinction between these pairs is disappearing (most cases in the past and past participle usages), and people like me notice ,silently correct others and just feel all superior, smug, and snooty.

Really, at this point, I say just teach people not to use set unless you're setting something - that is – don't say

*The folder is setting on the bookcase.

and call it a day.

Theoretically, arguing that understanding the concept of transitive/intransitive makes us better communicators is the same as arguing that understanding the process of digestion makes us better digesters.

But I digress.

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Only got to this puzzle today (Saturday). A quick solve to the last letter, and then stuck on the W_C/D_R cross with no idea. Got the Pi squares despite being a musician.

Fun puzzle!

John Wills 2:46 AM  

I am really thankful to you for the information you have provided. You are helping others to grow their knowledge by sharing such a valuable information you have. This post is amazing & I'm glad for it.
iPhone 4 Parts.

spacecraft 11:45 AM  

Rant alert!

I did not finish this puzzle--not even prying into the NW at all--and I know why. By that time I was so thoroughly disgusted with all the letter-as-letter entries I just said **** it. ONEA: we've seen this before (too amny times, IMO); that's not too terrible. It gets worse with CSPOT: nobody says that. C-note, sure. Not spot. AH, but the recipient of today's yellow linen is FOURH. No, no, NO!!! Have you EVER seen it written that way? Betcha a CSPOT you haven't. Not just yardage, but a game ejection.

Yes, I had MAGNUM and a square left over, knew that PI was the natural answer, but still missed the connection as 3.14 etc. Now that I see the solution, I must admit to a headslap for not seeing LIFEOFPI--though to be fair, the clue really should have included ",with 'The.'" Matter of fact, I might just have gotten it with that. Okay, I have a spare hankie in the other pocket: FLAG for omitting "The." Turns out that was a vital piece of information.

However, I may still not have done that NW section. To call the hapless Sonny LISTON, who never landed a full-force blow
, a "Clay pounder" is wildly inaccurate. I even thought of LISTON, but rejected it for that very reason. Nobody "pounded" that guy.

"[SQUARE] AWAY" simply never occurred. And the album SIDE? I was stuck in the A/B loop, BECAUSE OF ALL THE OTHER @#$^& LETTER-AS-LETTERS!! Never saw the NUMBER.

Sound the all-clear; rant is over.

Can't even pull a decent poker hand. Sheesh.

Piscene Patel 12:24 PM  

Sorry, spacecraft, cool your jets: Book and movie both have full title of "Life of Pi."

rain forest 12:58 PM  

Have to say I thought this puzzle was brilliant, period. Not bragging, but the Beatles clue refers to the album Help, and albums' sides are 1 and 2. Using both the symbol for pi in one themer, and the spelled out PI in the other was clever/nice/cool.

I read LIFEOFPI, and saw the movie, and liked them both, even if I don't completely understand the allegory.

Coming FULLCIRCLE,what a nice, fresh, sparkly effort today, but I'm reminded that pie aren't square; pie are round.

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Tsk, tsk, tsk, all that nitpicking! While I DNF because of one square (48D), I believe this puzzle was one of the best I've done. It's clever, unique, difficult but doable. Consider my hat tipped in respect for Jean O'Conor. Thank you Madame.

Ron Diego 10:45 AM PST 5/1/14

Solving in Seattle 2:41 PM  

The last entries for me were 21D & 44D. I suspect I am not alone. IMO, this was a clever, well constructed puzzle. What would have been fun would have been a black circle in the puz.

@JAE, good suggestion for 41D: "Dogs greeting." That would clean up the clunkiness of CSPOT.

@LMS, thanks for the transitive/intransitive lesson. You smart chick.

Jean and/or Will. It took me awhile to put in LISTON, partly because he didn't pound Clay (other way around) and because I had fraser (sic) in 1A.

Saw the flick, LIFEOFPI, and had no idea what its meaning was.

Inter alia, I liked BIKINITOP crossing KEG. They kinda go together.

Sixes over fives. On a roll.

Dirigonzo 4:29 PM  

Never have I been more glad to solve pen on paper so "technical difficulties" don't sap all the joy out of the puzzle. I actually figured out the PI R SQUARE gimmick early on, the FULL CIRCLE tipped me off to the other rebus answer, and all I needed was to see SIDE2 to bring this puppy home. Did anybody else try StealS for "Goes from first to second, say"? Favorite clue: Do-si-do whoop-di-dos - what else could it be but HOEDOWNS?

Fives full of eights. (Late thought on @spacy's holdings yesterday - I think in poker circles that particular hand is referred to as "the orgy".

DMG 5:16 PM  

Good puzzle, but I failed the rebus squares. I took the clue to mean the answer would read in either direction (don't ask). So with SIDEa and MAGNUMpi, I put in aMOVIE, making the rebus "a pi a" which reads the same from top or bottom. This left me with "pi r ?" for the other rebus. Never thought of an actual circle, so even with AWAY in place, couldn't see squared. Actually suspected tha might be something wrong with OATY. so it goes. Clever puzzle, unclever me!

@Diri beats my full house.

leftcoastTAM 5:34 PM  

@sanfranman59: You still think it would not be useful to post the number of all solvers compared to the average number for the day of the week? Why not? Today you make a point of the disparity.

Waxy in Montreal 5:58 PM  

@Diri, yeah, I was in the STEALS camp at 3D too.

Initially dismissed a "pi" rebus cuz the original puzzle dated from 0327 rather than 0314. SEWED it UP once I realized the shortzmeister was probably not as pi-cky as me.

Not sure if LISTON KNEELS was intentional but that's sure what he did in the first round of his second fight with Clay (Ali) in Lewiston, Maine, before toppling over.

Really fun Thursday. Hope Jean O'Conor was paid several CNOTES for its creation.


Strange captcha that I won't even attempt to interpret: "ulagmen entertain".

Dirigonzo 7:50 PM  

@Waxy - nice to see you back (even if hockey fans in my neck of the woods don't necessarily agree with the GO HABS GO sentiment). I remember exactly where I was when the imfamous Clay vs. Liston fight(?) took place but it's too long a story to post here. Suffice to say, I missed the LISTON KNEELS experience.

Waxy in Montreal 12:25 AM  

@Diri, never away but doing more lurking than posting of late. Sorry about the Bruins tonight - they deserved a better fate.

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