Anoint in western pacific / THU 9-15-16 / Isabel of mathetmatics fame / Squire message / Manila alternative in guessing game / Clan from ocean / Gaiter locales for short / Wand representer in myth / Croat who won academy award in 1999

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Challenging (hilariously so)


Word of the Day: Deseret (63A: Steered, today => UTAH) —
The State of Deseret (Listeni/ˌdɛzəˈrɛt/) was a provisional state of the United States, proposed in 1849 by settlers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in Salt Lake City. The provisional state existed for slightly over two years and was never recognized by the United States government. The name derives from the word for "honeybee" in the Book of Mormon. (wikipedia)
• • •

More than 2x my normal Thursday time. Not really a problem in and of itself, but what I spent that time doing: ugh. Seriously, 2x ugh. Slow start, not surprisingly, but not that long into my poking around and getting nowhere, I picked up the anagram gimmick. Seeing that there were three parts to the "revealer," though, I figured there were three elements to the gimmick. There were not. There was just the one. And I had already discovered it. And the rest of the long, tedious solve was just ... anagramming. Over. And over. To what end? Just to ... the end. Considered opening an anagram tab an just plugging in first words so I wouldn't have to bother with the stupidity of it all, but decided just to gut it out. SATS are *things* that high schoolers obsess over? I resent having to anagram a word in order to get something as stupid and vague as "things." "O, CANADA" is a "strain"? Gah. And the grid is just ... instructions plus a forgettable themeless. That's what the puzzle boils down to. Solver pleasure given zero consideration here. One "aha" moment followed by a long slog to the finish line.

The fill doesn't even matter. There's nothing to say. Anagrams. The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:01 AM  

Hate Poem
I hate you truly. Truly I do.
Everything about me hates everything about you.
The flick of my wrist hates you.
The way I hold my pencil hates you.
The sound made by my tiniest bones were they trapped
in the jaws of a moray eel hates you.
Each corpuscle singing in its capillary hates you.

Look out! Fore! I hate you.

The blue-green jewel of sock lint I’m digging
from under my third toenail, left foot, hates you.
The history of this keychain hates you.
My sigh in the background as you explain relational databases
hates you.
The goldfish of my genius hates you.
My aorta hates you. Also my ancestors.

A closed window is both a closed window and an obvious
symbol of how I hate you.

My voice curt as a hairshirt: hate.
My hesitation when you invite me for a drive: hate.
My pleasant “good morning”: hate.
You know how when I’m sleepy I nuzzle my head
under your arm? Hate.
The whites of my target-eyes articulate hate. My wit
practices it.
My breasts relaxing in their holster from morning
to night hate you.
Layers of hate, a parfait.
Hours after our latest row, brandishing the sharp glee of hate,
I dissect you cell by cell, so that I might hate each one
individually and at leisure.
My lungs, duplicitous twins, expand with the utter validity
of my hate, which can never have enough of you,
Breathlessly, like two idealists in a broken submarine.
—Julie Sheehan

GILL I. 12:04 AM  

Is this something we'd see at the ACPT?...If so, I'll be at the bar. Make that a scotch please - or better yet, make it a double and put it on my tab.

Whirred Whacks 12:08 AM  

I think deciphering the WWII German Enigma code was probably more straight-forward (and enjoyable) than this thing.

TrentonTron 12:17 AM  

I'll admit it- I really found this enjoyable, much more so than the average Thursday puzzle. I can see why everyone is hating on it, but I thought it was great. The fact that I am a Scrabble fanatic probably didn't hurt, as I figured out what was going on pretty quickly and really enjoyed deciphering the anagrams. Some of them were devilishly clever, such as Clan anagramming to NaCl. The only rough patch was the SE, as I didn't know SOBE, BOCELLI or EMANUEL, even having figured out the anagrams (except Rahm). I really liked how some of the clues were a dead giveaway once you got the anagram (Gardenia, e.g. for FLOWER) and others were still difficult. Overall it was cool to see something new and different. Much better than last week's Thursday.

chefwen 12:31 AM  

@GILL I - I'll meet you at the bar after I scruch this up into a tiny ball for my cat to bat around. Order me a Vodka on the rocks with a twist.

David Krost 12:36 AM  

In what has to be a first, I agree with every word of Rex's review. Enough dais (wink).

Randy 12:36 AM  

I thought it was fun. Difficult and frustrating, sure, but fun. If the puzzles have been a bit easy and uninspired lately, it was at least nice to see one willing both to do something different and to be exceptionally challenging.

I will admit though that I expected the three theme answers to explain three rules. It was a bit disappointing to see they were just anagrams, but then again, writing a set of rules that could reliably transform each word into another would be almost impossible.

Anonymous 12:39 AM  

Hated it more than all other horrible ones put together. Ugh, I like anagrams, but to do so many in one puzzle makes it hard to have consistently high-quality cluing. I'm not at all surprised that the constructor said he had the grid a long time ago and just recently did the clues. Yeah. It kinda shows.

Scott 12:46 AM  

Neat, but a real grind. Its awfully tough to ask me to figure out an anagram, hope it's the right one, then figure out the word for that (often tough) clue, then repeat 70+ times. 1:15, 3x my normal Thursday. Would've bailed 10 minutes in if I didn't have a streak going...

Anonymous 12:46 AM  

I meant to add to my 12:39 comment, this one will make all future bad puzzles seem not-so-bad in comparison, if I can keep the horror fresh in my memory. That's the most positive thing I can take from this experience.

phinneas 12:55 AM  

A serious question, how does anyone actually solve this? You'd literally go through every single clue and yield nothing. What then? I got two answers, both wrong: AROMA for "Folgers concern" and a tentative PIERRE for "Curie's partner, once". Thought about NON for "Veto in French parliament" which is kinda right either way but... yikes. Awful.

kbehroozi 12:57 AM  

Brutal, bordering on sadistic. Took me an hour and a half longer than my typical Thursday time. This should have been saved for September 31.

Anonymous 1:19 AM  

Must comment for the first time because I've never disagreed more. So few challenging puzzles, this was great. Satisfying to find the gimmick, several misleading anagrams, and still cryptic clues? So much more of this please!

Francois Trufaux 1:21 AM  

Once you see the gimmick the puzzle becomes complete drudgery.

Funniest, most enjoyable review I've read in a while.

Mr. B 1:26 AM  

I enjoyed it, though it took a while to get the aha moment. After discovering no Croats winning an Oscar in '99 I new something was going on and 'actor' came quick. Afterwards, it was a fun game of anagrams. I hit my average time.

Anonymous 1:29 AM  

We are consumers of a product called a crossword puzzle--this atrocity is Wilk Shortz saying Fuck you, people who pay my salary. Absolutely ridiculous...trebly so for a Thursday. His judgment has been suspect for years, but this is the worst. I hope his boss reads these comments. Appallingly horrific judgment displayed here.

Randy 1:42 AM  

For me it was "Procured for many big 2000s comedies" because the clue on its own didn't really make sense and I was positive it was about Apatow. A lot of the clues seemed off so I knew something was up, so once I got that procured -> producer I realized they were all anagrams. I would be interested in seeing what the entry clue was for most people here, I'm guessing probably the Tori Amos album which I was totally unfamiliar with.

Randy 1:52 AM  

If I do have one gripe, it's that the hadji -> jihad anagram was in kinda poor taste considering the suspicion considering the suspicions so many people cast towards devout Muslims, and the equivalences they make between the two. Maybe a clue related to the goddess would have been better.

Cricket 3:00 AM  

After staring at this for 9 minutes without a single square completed, I cheated like never before to preserve my 452 day streak on the app. What a waste of time. This was one of my least favorite crosswords ever in 25+ years of solving. Tedious and not one bit fun.

Ellen S 3:03 AM  

My entry clue was 45D "Harm in Democratic politics"-- I already suspected anagrams, and loved this one because, frankly, it works even un-anagrammed. (And you would not believe how much trouble I had getting autocorrect to allow the last word of the previous sentence.)

I was surprised (even still, capable of surprise) by the level of vituperation in @Rex's review. I wondered if it was a Rodney Dangerfield routine, or George Carlin, or David Mitchell -- a rant because after all he's paid to rant. My feeling was (as was the constructor's) that people who enjoy anagrams would enjoy the puzzle, and the rest of us, very much including me, would, as @Gill I says, head for the bar. I filled in EMANUEL, and crossed it with TOME; then put in SASHA and APP, and looked around and gave up and came here.

Nice try, Ian; I don't believe your effort deserves all the fury it has brought forth, but on the other hand, I didn't like it either.

jae 3:35 AM  

I stared at this for about 15 min. before I realized what was going on. I then filled in the theme answers. I then slowly began to anagram. I finished correctly. My first thought after finishing was "just because you can doesn't mean you should".

Did. Not. Like. It.

Loren Muse Smith 4:00 AM  

Man oh man. I finished, but it wasn't pretty. Cottoned to the trick fairly early with ELDEST/TOME, and I braced myself. I stink at anagrams. Stink. So, @phinneas, toward the end, I gave up trying to rearrange the words in the clues and just squinted at the grid to guess what letters could work. Then I'd revisit the clue to see if I could get the anagram. Bass-akwards, but it worked. There are probably many clues whose anagrams I still don't see, but I don't have time to go back and rearrange the letters. ("Gardenia" for "drainage" – thanks, @Trenton Tron. I would have lived the rest of my life not getting that one.)

Right in the middle we have INTRO crossing FIRST WORD. Very nice.

And there's FRIGATE right over SAILED.

And SEXT crosses MOXIE. Hey, there, Anthony. What's shakin'?

So this was a real test for me. Anagrams aren't my thang, so did I enjoy this? Little Miss Sunshine Prisspot Who Loves'em All? Hmm. I guess kinda. I'm really glad I stuck it out and finished, but I sure got impatient and discouraged because it was darn near impossible. &^%$ frigate anagrams…

Magoo 4:04 AM  

I loved the puzzle. Haters gonna heat

Martín Abresch 4:09 AM  

Screw you, haters! This puzzle was great! Loved it!

How often do you get a puzzle where you go through every single clue and not have a single answer? I knew something strange was up, and boy was my brain sweating!

My first attempt at escaping the "trap" was in the NE, where I put CREDIT for "Visa offering." The E belonged to "Folgers concern," which had of course suggested COFFEE, but there were only five squares. Could there be a rebus? Nearby clue "Nepal V.I.P." suggested DALAI LAMA, but, again, there wasn't enough room. More rebus squares? What if both LAs in daLAi LAma were rebuses? It fits! And the I crosses the I in credit! What else is there? Er ... um ... huh ... *scratches head* ... well ... sigh.

So I struck out to find my fortune elsewhere, and I returned to the beginning. My British cryptic sense was tingling, and I took a look at 2-Down: "Manila alternative, in a guessing game." Manila made no sense, but what kind of guessing games are there? Animal, mineral, and vegetable! Manila = Animal! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Now, I should mention that I love anagrams. The other year, I coded an anagram solver and, on Facebook, posted top ten lists of anagrams of my friends' names. Indeed, I, Martín Ronald Abresch, often use an angrammatic alias online, the suitably pretentious Carl Berndash Omniart. I can tell you straight away that my name anagrams to Blind Marathon Racers, Moralist Rancher Band, Sir Charlatan Bendmor, Sober and Carnal Mirth, and Aberrant Scholar Mind, among many others. What I'm trying to say is that I may have enjoyed the slow rest of the puzzle more than most.

My favorite clue and answer pairs:

Clan from the ocean: SEASALT
Isabel of mathematics fame: BLAISE
Nailed, for short: INTRO

I liked many more, but these made laugh out loud.

Oh, and, of course, the trap/part anagram. Such wonderful serendipity!

Finally, whether or not you liked this puzzle—and I suppose that I can see why some of you Philistines wouldn't—the theme was well-executed. The clues had to have taken a ton of work. With the scrambled first word, they couldn't look too strange: they couldn't give the game away too easy. The clues themselves had to be especially fair. Ian did a perfect job with the clues.

There will be many people (including many skilled solvers) who will go through every single clue and not get a single answer. That, I think, is rather remarkable. What could be more dramatic in terms of a puzzle than to start with a big, fat zero?

This puzzle was devilish, hilarious, and absolutely fabulous—one of my favorites of this year. Well done, Ian!

Mark 4:51 AM  

I'm really happy about this puzzle. It was nice to have really tough Thursday and the clues were really clever. Even when I got the trick, it was still hard to figure out all the answers. So finishing was hard even though the actual fill was very clean. It was very satisfying to get everything. I liked that I was mislead by Trap #1, #2, #3, thinking there might be three tricks when actually Trap anagrams to Part and then it all made sense. I must confess, I did have to look up the name of the Amos album to get the trick.

John Child 5:48 AM  

Martin Abresch: About "starting with a big, fat zero": I wasn't thinking how much fun I was having. Impressive for sure, but no foothold whatsoever in a puzzle is frustrating. I bailed.

I'm back as a (fairly) regular visitor. I had a difficult summer and did only a handful of puzzles over the last few months. I feel rusty. I also realized that I missed this community a lot.

paulsfo 5:51 AM  

I got PICA without understanding why. Finally gave up and revealed ANAGRAMTHE, which allowed me to progress. Did about 2/3 of the remainder and then ran out of steam and stopped.

Hardest Thursday ever for me, by far.

Passing Shot 6:11 AM  

DNF. Too clever by half. I'm sure the constructor is pleased with himself.

Jeff Anderson 6:13 AM  

I liked it.

da kine 6:15 AM  

I thought it was technically excellent and very well constructed but it was boring as all get out after I figured out the trick (APOTOW,so pretty early on). Even knowing the trick it took me 4x my normal solve time.

ZenMonkey 6:20 AM  

I liked it too. Was thrown off like others thinking there were three parts, but what can I say, I enjoy twisting my brain around this kind of thing. I get the dislike but am surprised (and entertained) by the rancor. "Hadji" clue bugged me as well. There were a few anagrams I still haven't twigged to, but between the anagrams and figuring out answers from crosses, it was very Scrabble-y.

Eddie 7:11 AM  

Yeah I gave up too and revealed to see if my suspicions were correct. I knew when I saw trio for Under the Pink by Tori Amos that something was amiss. It was late and I was emotionally and mentally tired and didn't have the patience for solving a puzzle before I solved a puzzle. At first I thought cryptic then I thought anagrams but figured surely they wouldn't anagram all the answers. Oh well. Just not the type of crossword I want to do, so I didn't.

Not my least favorite ever though. That still goes to the one where they featured commonly misspelled words which were intentionally misspelled in the puzzle. That still makes me angry.

Irene 7:14 AM  

What I want to know is how people got into it? What was your first entry? I searched the clues for just one I could be sure of but was completely defeated: ergo, no fun at all.

Please guys. What was your first fill?

Meg 7:22 AM  

I'm really glad that there were people who liked this. Personally, the only reason I finished it at all, is because I have a streak going. I love crosswords, but this one had all the joy sucked out of it.

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

As Jay Sherman used to say - "It Stinks!"

It's me 7:42 AM  

Got the trick at 1A. Wish I'd given up then.

Joseph Welling 7:50 AM  

Any veterinarians here? "Neuter" is not a synonym for SPAY, is it?

So why not take this puzzle to the next logical step and make the answers anagrams too? If some 125 anagrams are fun, then wouldn't 250 be even better?

So "Resist in the White House" would be LAMIA
"Isabel of mathematics fame" would be SCALPAL
"Stew ____" would be DEN
and "Tab material" would be everyone's favorite fill answer, AHS

I'm beginning to really dislike Thursdays. . . .

Jim Crotteau 8:00 AM  

Challenging certainly but for me it was a joyless slog.

Jim C. in Maine

Susierah 8:00 AM  

Hardest Thursday ever for me, and a DNF. But I loved it. I got nowhere, except a few wrong guesses, after several passes. I finally gave up and googled 1A, and when I saw Tori Amos instead of a trio, I figured out the anagram angle. I thought it was fun to unravel the answers, but still could not finish the center top. Very challenging and twice my normal time!

Adam Frank 8:02 AM  

Worst. Puzzle. Ever. I had no way in and for the first time in years left the puzzle unfinished and didn't care. Anagrams in a cryptic are fine, or occasionally in a regular puzzle, but every damn clue? Horrible experience all around.

evil doug 8:04 AM  

I'd repeat my comment from yesterday, but it's not worth the trouble.

evil doug 8:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 8:10 AM  

Super concept and construction, Ian, and props to your courage in publishing this, Will!

I am a crossword lover, but no fan of Jumble. Anagrams don't come easy to me. I grokked the theme early on, and even the three-part reveal, and laughed and smiled an the constructor's and my cleverness. But after solving several answers, my brain started to crinkle at the arduous task of the anagramming. What I settled on was giving each clue a short period of time to reveal itself, and if it didn't, I went to an anagramming site to get the anagram. Doing that, it was a fun and challenging puzzle with no ugh, and I loved it.

If you love anagramming as well as crosswords, this puzzle is your big O.

Twangster 8:16 AM  

Count me as one who used an online anagram solver to speed things up. Otherwise it would have taken forever.

I would guess for most people the solving process went like this:
1. Realize none of the clues made sense.
2. Realize first word of clues is anagramable. (Initially I thought this only pertained to the clues with more than one word.)
3. Start with some of the simpler clues (3 or 4 letters).

Lewis 8:17 AM  

@loren -- Anthony comment: Priceless!

Alysia 8:29 AM  

I think you mean, "put it on my bat."

Unknown 8:33 AM  

Had to google 1-A for entry. Only decent non-answer prior to that:

Courses that bring you down? SLOPES

Also solved many of the clues by guessing the grid first and antigramming.

chefbea 8:35 AM  

46 comments already!!! I googled a few things and made no sense to me. Absolutely hated the puzzle. No fun

Jim in Chicago 8:42 AM  

Stared at it for 10 minutes. Binned it. Total fail for me.

Mr. Benson 8:50 AM  

Hated, hated, hated this puzzle. Loathed everything about it. I've been doing crosswords for about ten years and this might literally have been my least favorite I have ever done. It was a nasty slog from start to finish. I didn't even figure out all of the anagrams; in many places I just filled in things that looked like words after I had enough crosses.

Joaquin 8:51 AM  

I've been doing the NYT crosswords for years - decades, really. I love the puzzles and I love solving them. But my love for today's puzzle is less than my love for any other puzzle ever.

r.alphbunker 8:57 AM  

Spent a lot of time at this site:
When I asked it for anagrams of "stuntpuzzle" it came back with "Sorry cannot solve anagram stuntpuzzle" which pretty much described my experience today. Details here

ArtO 9:03 AM  

Too old for this one! Beyond the pale.

Congrats to all you geniuses who figured it out. Automatic qualification for Mensa.

John V 9:06 AM  

Never got started. Nothing. Inappropriate.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

The whole thing was awful enough. But the clues Trap #1 #2 #3, don't just imply three different things they mean that there will be three different traps. Otherwise, it should be something like Part #1. That's a good example of adding injury to an insult.

chefbea 9:14 AM  

If you want the list of anagrams Jeff Chen has listed them at Xword info

Amie Devero 9:16 AM  

Got 10 minutes into it and discovered the trick. When I realized it was pervasive, I completely lost interest. Didn't even bother finishing it. If I wanted to do a series of anagrams all morning I wouldn't choose the NYT crossword. Ugh.

Ben Smith 9:16 AM  

Loved. This. Puzzle. That said, I'm half-decent at anagramming things in my head and love the MIT Mystery Hunt, so I may have had the right mindset for this from the start.

Roo Monster 9:18 AM  

Hey All !
Ok, I usually like anagrams, do the Jumble every day, but this was a bit too much. Especially once you figured out the anagram, the clues were still vague-y. At least could've let the ole brain settle for more straightforward cluing. I imagine it was really tough coming up with all the clues, really tough, but put me in the "just because..." camp.

Had 7 total letters in after 10 minutes, finaly got SASHA after shamelessly cheating in the SW. Reread clue, and saw Resist Anagrammed to Sister, looked at 17A, and saw the theme. Was wondering why the clues read as they did, all kinds of tos, fors, whos, and ins.

As much as I appreciate the cleverness of the clues, it made solving near impossible. I'm sure the expert puzzlers who think easy puzs are a waste of time will like this. Sadly, not me.

Alternate curse word=FRIGATE, so...


Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Hadji group - ISIS.

Bookin' the Cooks 9:20 AM  

I hate anagrams. One or two in a puzzle are OK but having the entire crossword be clued with them made my head hurt, which is not fun. Couple them with OCD that doesn't allow me to abandon an unsolved crossword puzzle and there you have a recipe for torture. Pure, unadulterated joyless torture. Aaagh!!!

@Loren pretty much described my process for completing this sadistic thing, except my first *correct* solve and clue-in was 1A. And for that I had to cheat because AMOS wasn't fitting and neither was the record company, so I temporarily plugged in WTF and then went googling to see if there were any crossword solving souls out there who got it.

Gonna go take a couple of YELLNOT now before I scream.

Mike D 9:21 AM  

So much whining! Of course a puzzle like this is going to get a strong reaction, but come on! It's a Thursday, it's a brilliant gimmick, the construction is beautiful, it is original, and it was incredibly satisfying to stick it out and complete.
All of this whining--from Rex and from commenters here--is getting old and kind of pathetic. Just think of the world we spoiled brats inhabit where we get all worked up because a crossword puzzle--a frickin' crossword puzzle!--was not to our liking. Yeah, the champagne in my mimosa wasn't chilled enough this morning and I really do prefer Beluga to Ossetra caviar, but I guess I'll just have to make do. Talk about first world problems....

DeeJay 9:23 AM  

Guys and gals, it is a puzzle. The challenge is to solve it. For those who didn't solve it, try harder next time. To those who did, congratulations. To those who did and now complain, thank the Lord you weren't chosen as one of the geniuses who cracked the Enigma code.

DeeJay 9:23 AM  

Guys and gals, it is a puzzle. The challenge is to solve it. For those who didn't solve it, try harder next time. To those who did, congratulations. To those who did and now complain, thank the Lord you weren't chosen as one of the geniuses who cracked the Enigma code.

Mike D 9:25 AM  

Oh, and to all you dolts who missed that "trap" is an anagram for "part:" the joke is on you.

Bookin' the Cooks 9:27 AM  

Yeah, that was bad conflation.

Bookin' the Cooks 9:30 AM  

Or maybe we don't take our whining as seriously as you do? Lighten up! 😜

Eddie 9:38 AM  

Good grief to those sniping at those who didn't like it, chill. These are our opinions and opinions can't be wrong just different. It doesn't make us dumb, lazy, worthless, or deplorable. We are just voicing (some more vociferously than others, granted) our opinion that we didn't like the construct of the puzzle then moving on with our day. Have a blessed day :-)

Billy C. 9:40 AM  

I once had sex with a goat.

Tita A 9:50 AM  

Gah!!! Indeed!! the never-before-seen 100% agreement with Rex.

Hate anagrams.

If my sister hadn't called me up about this puzzle, it would have become only the second puzzle in my life that I just quit.
Instead, we shared the drudgery - me using an anagram site, her guessing answers.

Love @Anon @ 12:46!!

Only minutely interesting observation - some cues worked both ways {Hi @Ellen S) - I had SPARES as the pre-anagram answer, and I also bought a PAIR of hose. Yawn.

(I'm sure that next time I'm at the bar (hopefully with @Gill and @Chefwen), I'll make small talk about "did you know Kevin Spacey was Croatian?".)

Nancy 9:50 AM  

I loved, loved, loved -- but also hated, hated, hated -- this puzzle. It's so amazingly clever, so fiendishly difficult -- just the challenge I've always said I crave. But then, as Rex and so many of you have pointed out, once you know the gimmick, the solve is pure drudgery. And so, Dear Reader, I eliminated the drudgery on all the clues I couldn't anagram immediately. I used "Anagram Solver", one of the Internet's best kept secrets. Sometimes I used it simply to assuage my curiosity after I had the answer. SEXT, for example, my last answer in. What on earth is "Squires"? I typed it into Anagram Solver, and out came -- amidst an awful lot of gibberish -- RISQUE. Ah. Of course.

I am glad for the chance to toil at such a challenging and imaginative puzzle. Still, I'd prefer not to see another of its dink for a long, long time.

Mr. Benson 9:53 AM  

@Anon 9:12 -- that was part of the gimmick. "Trap" is an anagram for "Part." You can read those clues as Part #1, Part #2 and Part #3.

(I got that aspect all right, but even hated the answers to those clues -- since when is ANAGRAM a verb??)

Arlene 9:53 AM  

I got nowhere on this puzzle - knew not to spend more time on it. Came here and other blogs thinking that I'd go back and try to solve after reading about it. But, interestingly, the puzzle said, no - use your time for more noble pursuits.
Perhaps another day I'll sit and solve, just to say I did. People are going to be talking about this one in years to come.

QuasiMojo 9:56 AM  

This took me a very very long time. A "huge" amount of time. It was downright brutal. But I finished it. The trick was pretty obvious from the first clue but I am behind the curve (or curves?) regarding Tori Amos. No idea of her oeuvre. Give me Amos Oz anyday. My big problem is that I hilariously put in Kilmer for Cruise's partner, thinking of the ludicrously homoerotic film Top Gun (which was 30 years ago!) Plus I had Spacek instead of Spacey, thinking the Times was being politically correct by not using "actress" for "actor." "Papua" instead of "Palau" for the longest time. But I soldiered on. Personally I love anagrams. This puzzle reminded me of the one that used to be in the back of New York Magazine, from the Sunday Times. Those used to take me a week to do. I enjoyed this one, even if it was indeed a "slog."

mathgent 9:59 AM  

I love anagrams. I enjoy cryptics. But this was too much of a good thing.

I got the gimmick at "Isabel of mathematics fame." I knew that are no famous mathematicians named Isabel and that led me to noticing that Isabel is an anagram for Blaise. Blaise Pascal, the developer of the Pascal Triangle, one of my favorite topics in mathematics. Then I started looking for other anagrams and found them everywhere.

Then I got parts 1, 2, and 3 and the fun was over. The rest was work.

I haven't seen a post from @Nancy yet. She also loves anagrams. I wonder how she liked this one.

Feel good that I got it and admire it more than love it. So B plus is the best I can do.

Danchall 10:00 AM  

I enjoyed it! I am a cryptics fan so I didn't consider the mental translation a slog. Even knowing the theme didn't make the puzzle a pushover. Some words have multiple anagrams. I considered Opt OUT, Lager volume=PINT. It was a change of pace, a way of thwarting our usual automatic pattern recognition.

I'm not surprised that a good number of people disliked this puzzle, but I don't think that makes it a defect of the puzzle, the constructor, or the editor. I like the idea of different kinds of puzzles. I think it's a good thing that once in a long while we see a puzzle that defeats even well-above-average solvers. And if we rule out the kinds of challenges we aren't comfortable with, it's hard to call them challenges.... But everyone is fully entitled to enjoy or abhor according to their own lights.

Leapfinger 10:01 AM  

@Francois Trufaux 1:21

It's Truffaut.

Unless you meant True/faux, in which case may I offer you a Truffle?

It's Support Your Periodontist time; will return asap for the general enjoyment.

Mohair Sam 10:06 AM  

Tremendous feat of construction to get all clues to make sense on two levels. Never figured it out, got PENA, got PICA, got a few wrong, got frustrated, came here and gave thanks we gave up. Terrible we are at anagrams, never would have been able to read enough of the clues to finish the puzzle. Not our cup of tea, but if you're a solver who enjoys unwrapping anagrams this had to be blast.

Having six answers in place before we gave in (including "warm pup" off PENA based on the original "Nestler" clue at 39D, makes perfect sense) probably why we never saw the anagram trick. I think anyone who knew the Tori Amos album had the key that unlocked.

I still can't figure out half the anagrams with the answers in front of me. I used to take about half a day on The Jumble.

Daryl 10:13 AM  

Loved this one, thereby confirming that Rex's and my taste are usually diametrically opposite. Reminded me of the cryptics I used to do. Wish I had a paper copy to work with - anagrams much easier that way.

Livengood was good n evil.

Z 10:13 AM  

@everyone - Tell us how you really feel.

Hand up for wincing at the Hadji -> Jihad -> ISIS sequence. People who aren't psychopaths understand that waging Jihad is about the internal struggle to overcome temptation in order to do good in the world. Not that different from the Calvinist notions I was raised with that sin is part of our nature as a result of the fall and we must seek the grace of god if we want to avoid hell. Still, I agree with Reza Aslan, ISIS is "Muslim" because they say they are. No one gets to deny their psychopaths just because we don't like that they punch elderly women with oxygen tanks or swear at Trump supporters and think that deplorable is too kind a description.

Besides the anagramming, who knew Tori Amos's album? Who knew GUERRERO is a state in Mexico? Who else tried jApAn and mALAy before PALAU? Who knew that Pepsi bought SOBE in 2001? Who tried ziTS before SATS (and, seriously, which one has more high schoolers obsessing?)? And who else beside @Muse and me didn't bother solving a fair number of anagrams or did them bass-ackwards? PuzzAzz has a "Show Explanations" button that reveals all the anagrams post solve. Something like a fifth of them I only saw when revealed.

Nancy 10:13 AM  

@Mike D -- No, I didn't cotton on to the fact that "Trap" anagrams to "Part." Which makes this puzzle even cleverer and fairer. Thanks for pointing it out.

@Irene (7:14) -- To answer your question. I went through the entire puzzle, not knowing one single answer, so I knew something was Very Wrong. By then, I was all the way down at "Hose purchase," and I thought immediately: Aha, shoe purchase. But a shoe purchase can be just about anything, so I didn't write anything in. But I now could go back, looking for anagrammed clues. The first two I saw were "ink/kin of elite type" and "Manila/animal alternative in a guessing game." Those were my toeholds.

Tita A 10:14 AM  

@Irene - Resist in the White House.
But, I was still suspecting a 3-level [trap], as did Rex, so it was far from "off to the races" even when I got that.

Since I've been pigeon-holed as a Philistine, let me say to @Danchall...
I suppose that you also challenge your brain by determining what day of the week any particular date falls on, or perhaps by solving square roots of large numbers.
125 times a day.

Don't hate on me for being selective (and honest) about my Thursday crossword joy.

Oh - and said sister anagrams everyone's names for the placeholders at the table. And she hated this.

Daryl 10:14 AM  

Oh and I got the gimmick from "ink of elite type"

Hartley70 10:18 AM  

I despise Jumbles. They give me a pain in my head and I prefer to get that by beating my head against a wall because you get that lovely smacking sound. There aren't enough hours in the day to spend one minute more on this.

@Gill I and @chefwen, I'm buying.

David Cole 10:18 AM  

I really enjoyed it (I love anagrams), and was ready to criticize the 3 Trap clues for implying 3 different traps. Then I read the comments, and realized I didn't apply the anagram test to the three revealer clues!

Stared at the puzzle for at least 30 seconds, almost had a bout of vertigo when nothing made sense, then realized that there had to be something big going on. Caught on at 43A "Pipes purchase of 2001", which luckily was confirmed just below with 53A "Isabel of mathematics fame" easily moving to BLAISE.

Chuck McGregor 10:20 AM  

Too many comments already to expect this will be read by many.

Like others, I got nothing for any of the clues. So I ended up revealing some of the NW. Still made no sense so I revealed the "Traps" and that explained some of the NW I had revealed. At that point I had no desire to continue. I like anagrams, but not in such vast quantities to just read clues correctly. Revealed it all and saw --

MOXIE: The "nerve" that this would be clued as anything other than my favorite soda. In Maine it is said that if you don't like MOXIE you're probably not from around here.


Unknown 10:24 AM  

I was wondering exactly the same thing. I put in exactly 2 answers, and as it turns out they were right only because my dyslexia kicked in and read the anagram of the clue by mistake. Usually I can get through a Thursday puzzle with some effort, but this seemed impossible to even start.

J.D. KaPow 10:27 AM  

Figured out the theme when I saw harm->Rahm. Then quickly realized trap->part in the revealers and was able to write those answers right in. Then I looked at the still mostly empty puzzle, thought about what solving would entail, said "screw this," and went on with my day. Fortunately, the time invested (wasted) was pretty small.

Happy Pencil 10:32 AM  

In all my (I guess) years of reading this blog, I think this is the first time I've ever seen @jae say he didn't like a puzzle, so that's not a good sign! Personally, I would have to say I appreciated it more than enjoyed it. It was a bit of a slog once you figured out the gimmick, but I broke it up into three separate solving sessions, which probably helped mitigate that. I also like cryptic crosswords, like some others here, so that likely gave me an advantage, at least when it comes to resolving anagrams in my head.

No offence to those who used an anagram solver -- I don't blame you! -- but in my view, you did not solve the puzzle if you did that.

Like many people, I went through all the across answers without filling in a single thing. But I did notice that several clues were awkwardly worded. Then I noticed that it was really just the first word that was awkward. I thought maybe the first letter of each clue would spell something, but no. Finally, I saw that they were anagrams. I think my first correct answer after that was ORANGE for the Halloween shade, but even once I knew what I was doing, it still took me some time. 59 minutes flat in the end, way high of my usual Thursday time.

Overall, I side more with @Martin Abresch on this -- and thank you for pointing out the TRAP/PART anagram, which I had failed to notice, even though I finished the puzzle and got my happy (and very satisfying) pencil.

Cheerio 10:32 AM  

I would like to have an answer key just for the anagrams. I don't want to talk the time to sort them out (it is a work day after all), but I want to know what they are. I can't even work backwards from the answers to get some of them.

Austin Robison 10:32 AM  

I was wondering exactly the same thing. I put in exactly 2 answers, and as it turns out they were right only because my dyslexia kicked in and read the anagram of the clue by mistake. Usually I can get through a Thursday puzzle with some effort, but this seemed impossible to even start.

GILL I. 10:34 AM  

@Alysia....dang, I wish I had thought of that. Y'all come on down...I'll keep the bat open.

Generic Solver 10:35 AM  

What are the chances that the person who is #1 on the leader board and solved in 1:45 did not first solve the puzzle offline and then fill in the answers in the applet? If that's a legitimate solve time, I am in total awe of that solver.

PhiskPhan 10:38 AM  

I finished the whole thing without help, but it took forever and was very annoying. I think "abhors material for making toys" was the jumping-off point for me -- there was obviously no word or phrase that could possibly be the answer, and I realized that was true of other answers as well. So I began poking around and it gradually dawned on me. Couple of points: I finished the last several answers without getting the anagrams (I never did get "abhors," and by that time was too tired to even bother), and it wasn't until I saw some of the comments that I realized "Trap 1" etc. was supposed to be "Part 1." Cuz the word Trap kinda made sense, I guess.

Nancy 10:49 AM  

@Happy Pencil (10:32) -- I get what you're saying about Anagram Solver being cheating, pure and simple, but, hey, it's such a beautiful day today after such a ghastly hot summer, and I just want to get outdoors. I believe every anagram would have been gettable for me through much trial and error, but it might have taken several hours and I didn't want to waste them on drudgery. I fervently believe this would have been a solve without the use of Anagram Solver -- and so my conscience, if it isn't entirely clear, at least feels) clear. If you see what I mean.

Stanley Hudson 10:50 AM  

Sussed out the anagram gimmick quickly from Tori Amos and TRIO. But migawd what a slog. Myth of Sisyphus comes to mind.

crabsofsteel 11:06 AM  

Got OCANAD, but I'm glad I gave up because never in a million years would I have guessed OCANADA. Strain is right!

pmdm 11:13 AM  

After a certain amount of time, I knew I wouldn't be able to figure the gimmick without some help. So I decided to look up what group put out the album Under the Pink. That revealed the gimmick to me. Then I had to decide if I wanted to solve the puzzle. I decided to slog on. Given that of my own free will I chose to do the puzzle knowing how difficult it would be, I don't think believe it makes sense to criticize the puzzle itself. At most, I could criticize myself as not being as smart as Jeff Chen and abandoning the puzzle.

What I can criticize is the arbitrary restraints Mr. Shortz places on the puzzles. This puzzle most certainly should have been published on a Friday or Saturday. Probably on a Saturday. Because it did not satisfy the arbitrary word count maximum for a themeless puzzle, it would up being published on an inappropriate day of the week. I do hope that Mr. Shortz will reconsider what he allows to be published on Saturdays when a puzzle like this pops ups. To end with an oblique reference, I don't want any ifs ands or buts from him.

Joseph Michael 11:15 AM  


jsquared 11:23 AM  

Brilliant! Took me an hour to finish. But only after reading the comments did I get that "trap" anagrams to "part."

Now I may even take another shot at one of Emily and Henry's Puns & Anagrams puzzles. They're the only specialty puzzles I've never made ANY headway on.

More Whit 11:23 AM  

First time I visited Dr. Jameson before noon since ... well, never. Enjoy the beautiful day in the NE, and I definitely am NOT referring to the puzzle. Anagrams devolving into nonsense.

Chaos344 11:30 AM  

Wow! I see that there are already 99 comments, so I'll just make mine and then go read the rest.

This was my fastest Thursday puzzle ever! At least I think it was? I've had similar speedy solves on other Thursdays.

I opened the puzzle, read about ten clues, realized there was some ridiculous gimmick going on, (other than a rebus) closed the puzzle, and when directly to The Wall Street Journal. Total time 45 seconds! That's 45 seconds of this day I'll never get back! Grrrrr!

Happy Pencil 11:33 AM  

@Nancy, I do see what you mean, and believe me, I am not criticizing those who decided they had better things to do with their time. My point is just that a true solve, at least in my book, means no outside assistance whatsoever.

Everyone has a different point at which they decide they're done or have committed enough time, and that's fair enough.

mac 11:37 AM  

I had been warned this was going to be a tough one, so no surprises here. Still, only having a couple of esses after the first run-through was scary. After finally figuring it out, I was on my (slow) way.
Still challenging, though. Love Pascal and the sea salt.

skua76 11:37 AM  

Aargh! Went through every clue like everyone else. Then Googled 1A figuring that would be a revealer. Stared at Tori AMOS thinking the album might have been reissued by a trio. Couldn't find. Finally went to one of those automated xword sites (several actually) but of course none of them gave an explanation for AMOS. After more staring, finally saw it. And SLOGGED on. I'm pretty much with Rex before I attack today's Jumble, off to Xwordinfo to see the anagrams I couldn't get (thanks @chefbea).

Jim Finder 11:45 AM  

Agree with TrentonTron. This puzzle is a new kind of challenge. Its being different is no reason to hate it.

Emily 11:48 AM  

I had other things to do today. I expect Thursday to take me a third of what this one did, and only kept at it to preserve my streak. This was the hardest puzzle in recent memory.

old timer 11:49 AM  

I had NON and had thought about EIDERS and wrote in "glided" where SAILED is, and gave up. Came here, read the revealer and went back to try again. But it was too painful. I do not have the patience to solve 130 anagrams. In fact, I don't know even now how to anagram "veto".

Not. Fun. At. All.

Joe Scala 11:50 AM  

Man can't believe so many people hated this!

I was sucked in right away - I knew something was up but couldn't figure it out until I misread "Dairy" as "Diary" and found ENTRY, which happened to cross with NON (veto and vote both kind of work for that clue).

There were certainly some borderline clues in there (OCANADA?) but overall I liked the multi-dimensional aspect to it

I also thought there were 3 different "traps," was mildly disappointed to find there was only one, but overall I enjoyed this.

Anyway, like others have said "haters gonna hate"

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

finished and still don't know what the anagrams for 'abhors' and 'courses' might be

Brett Hendrickson 11:54 AM  

This painterly puzzle was maddening and demanding.

I'd be curious to see what this puzzle cost the U.S. today in economic output since, if others are like me, a lot of us had to finish this one at work today.

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

What an awful puzzle. The worst part was that in many cases, even when you figured out the anagram, the resultant clue was vague and useless (the "reigns"/singer in a music hall being Bocelli was the standout for me, I mean that could have been ANYONE).

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

100% agree with Rex.

Anagramming the first word of a clue is clever, but only if there is some kind of theme behind the anagrammed words. And also making every single clue start with an anagram, and a dull one at that, just makes the solving a tedious slog.

Only decent clue was CLAN for NaCl.

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

@DeeJay: Most of us who are complaining about this puzzle are not doing so because we couldn't solve the puzzle or because we didn't try hard enough.

I'll go out on a limb and say that most of us here would rather encounter a very hard puzzle than a very easy puzzle. We solve puzzles for the challenge.

The problem with this thing is that the anagram gimmick was very poorly executed making the solve a dull chore and not a fun deciphering experience.

Matt Mullins 12:03 PM  

Nope, I liked this one a lot. Yes, it was a slog in a couple places, and I would maybe argue that the cluing could/should have been more straightforward given the already-2-step solving process.

Probably more enjoyable for the writer than the solver, but the unusual nature of this grades out at a solid B+.

Jim Finder 12:05 PM  

Trap anagrams to Part.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

@Generic Solver

This is true nearly every day and not just for the number 1 on the list.

SEC 12:11 PM  

Big Tori Amos fan in college so figured out the gimmick at 1A. The rest was a slog. A crossword that I admired but did not enjoy one bit.

Lewis 12:12 PM  

Nonetheless, however anyone feels about this puzzle, I do believe it will be remembered for a very long time. It is a concept that need only be done once, but what a classic concept! It's a coup for the NYT to have published it.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Cottoned on at "gilded smoothly". First entries: ERS, EOS, DEERE, APP, SEASALT, PASCAL. Took a long time. Liked it. So many anagrams jumble the mind after a while. To some others: AAH, it was hard!!!!

The Clerk 12:26 PM  

Loved it! Looks like the comment section clearly delineated who enjoys a challenge. Took me about 2-2.5 times more than average. Worth it.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Even worse Jim

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

Does D stand for dick?

The Clerk 12:30 PM  

Oh, and abhors is HASBRO

Masked and Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Stirf ThursPuz I can ever remember that had zero clues endin in a question mark. Different.

Clever idea … for a runt puzzle, maybe. 7x7 puzs can (almost usually) get away with theme axe-murder, becuz they don't last all that long (20 or so clues, max). Put a theme like this into a 15x15, and U get that overly sloggish feelin that @RP and half the Comment Gallery had, today.

M&A solvequest: Had a spot of trouble gettin started. Eons of nanoseconds later, finally got the drift, at Harm EMANUEL. Said to self: "Well, the @RP blog & comments will be a long, funny read, today." Worked the rest of the SE corner. Then said to self: "It's Miller Time". Did me a REGION, of the rest. Gave puz to PuzEatinSpouse to finish; she now hates the Shortzmeister, Ian Livengood, and m&e. "Some NEVER!" she snorted, goin off disgustedly to divvy up the cinnamon rolls. So … nope, she still luvs m&e. No c-rolls for Will & Ian, tho. har

No use commentin further, as too many comments out there, already, anyhoo. (A hoot to read em, tho.)

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Anonymous 12:41 PM  

Courses is SOURCES

puzzle hoarder 12:42 PM  

Needless to say this is not my Kindle of puzzle. After much wasted time trying to solve this the usual way I knew there was some simple trick. Count me as one of those who thought there'd be three tricks. Discovering the trap/part anagram from the comments makes me think please just stop. With taste this poor in humor it's not surprising the constructor associates hadj with terrorism. I never got the "trick" and googled the album. Ironically I'm very adept at scrambles however an anagram is a whole different kind of manila. Finishing was still a slog. I'm just glad it's over.

Pete 12:46 PM  

Tori AMOS was a gimme (hey, there's give and take in any relationship, no?) at 1A, so the conceit was clear from the start. The rest was painful, and I quit about 1/20 of the way through, so I suffered much less than others. Maybe because I suffered (relatively) so little, the horror of this puzzle was more than offset by Ms. Sheehan's poem.

Gregory Schmidt 1:01 PM  

I despise anagrams. I'm not good at them, my mind doesn't rearrange letters, and for the same reason I don't play scrabble. I used an Anagram website so I could just get through this. Please relegate these to the Variety Puzzles. 'nuff said.

Carola 1:01 PM  

I ran through the clues a couple of times before I caught on with MINERAL. I'm horrible at "jumble" types of puzzles, so this took me a long time to finish, but I toughed it out to the end. Although...I guess I have to give myself a technical DNF, as a couple of entries I got from pattern recognition and logic without deciphering the anagram.

I enjoyed it (I think) - at least I smiled at a few of the entries when I understood how the anagram worked: O CANADA, MOXIE.... "Nailed" anagrams to "Denali" and I had a hard time letting that go.

Lise 1:05 PM  

I totally loved this puzzle. I disagree with "Anonymous" that it was poorly executed. It was beautifully executed and it is not Mr. Shortz's fault if some of us (myself included) had other things to do today. Sometimes it's fun to work a puzzle off and on, when there are some free moments. (But then, I print mine, so I won't get food all over the keyboard).

I'm a fan of Puns And Anagrams puzzles so this one was fun for me. Also challenging. But that's why I like puzzles. They're puzzles, after all.

Thanks, Mr. Livengood.

AliasZ 1:08 PM  

If anyone cared, here are all the anagrams (courtesy Jim Horne):

1.Tori 5.Teen's 10.Neuter 14.Kin 15.Nation 16.Drove 17.Part 19.Jihad 20.Top 21.Region 22.Avis 24.Shade 26.Ship 27.Slog 28.Glided 31.Secured 32.Caper 34.Nap 35.Triage 36.Part 39.Dawn 42.Name 43.Pepsi 46.iPad 47.Posh 49.Large 51.NaCl 53.Blaise 55.Straying 56.Spots 58.West 59.Things 60.Part 63.Deseret 64.Nerve 65.Steins 66.Former 67.Diary 68.List

1.Producer 2.Animal 3.Strain 4.Slump 5.Slashes 6.Weak 7.Resort 8.Casual 9.State 10.Golfer's 11.Mail 12.Plane 13.Agreed 18.Item 23.Sources 25.Hasbro 26.Gardenia 29.Agree 30.Lead-in 33.Cruise 37.Maher 38.Decimal 39.Relents 40.Run 41.Fighter 44.Singer 45.Rahm 48.Actor 50.First 52.Sister 54.Bat 56.Risqué 57.Shoe 61.Vote 62.Cool

This music will soothe all the savage breasts: Deux Gnossiennes by Erik Satie played by PASCAL Rogé.

Enjoy your Thursday!

anonymous 1:09 PM  

I quit after 5 minutes and two times thru the clues. A first for me to give up so quickly and very glad I did so.

Larry Gilstrap 1:11 PM  

I enjoy crossword puzzles because of my fascination with the way groups of letters are associated with meaning, often nuanced. Anagrams eliminate that joy of recognition. A group of letters become associated with a word whose meaning is irrelevant. Also, I am lousy at solving anagrams. I rarely DNF the puzzle. Today, I DID TON TARTS. How 'bout giving a brother a heads up? I'm not angry, just morose.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Every clue in the puzzle is incomprehensible without the revealer, which is provided by three long horizontals that can't possibly be guessed unless you have at least a few crosses, none of which can be determined without knowing the revealer in the first place.

I'm a little suspicious of those of you who claim you finished this one in good time.

Dick Swart 1:21 PM  

With 'amphora' as my only entry on it, I returned the sheet of paper to my printer (I print xwords on both sides), unworried about show-through from my fountain pen or grease spots from my morning treat.

CLB 1:42 PM  

Started around midnight. Got blanked first time through. Reread 1A and realized that Tori was no trio, so found my entry point. Slogged slowly through the NW and SE, but was having no fun so quit at 12:30. Probably would have taken me at least an hour to finish. First DNF in a long time.

The *one* interesting thing for me about this puzzle: usually I look to clues with shorter answers for easy prey. In this puzzle I found myself looking for clues with short first words.

wgh 1:42 PM  

I thought this puz was pretty creevl.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

After 10 pleasureless minutes I decided to see what Rex Parker had to say. What a relief to see that it wasn't my lack that made this puzzle so worth ditching. Life is short. Thank you, Mr. Parker. Am still getting pleasure, btw, from your Frank Lloyd 2/3 of an architect comment.

Nanny 1:43 PM  

@Billy C 0940

Yeah, BUT, did the goat have sex with you?

[Otoh, have to say I'm not all that surprised.]

SailorSteveHolt 1:47 PM  


0/10 would not recommend.

Penna Resident 1:58 PM  

didn't see it until 45D, which was my first entry. painful. then 52D was easy - but had 2 options. then 61D was easy - but had 2 options.
64A anagrammed to Verne so answer was jules, confirming the french oui. more than an hour to finish; and without knowing 3-4 of the clues.

with 366 puzzles in the year i think its ok to mix it up once in a while even though i had a really hard time with it. i used to think rebuses were unfair and now i look forward to them. rex often complains that puzzles are boring, forgettable, done many times before, so at least this one isn't that.

Passing Shot 1:59 PM  

@Anonymous 12:01am and @Pete 12:46pm -- the Julie Sheehan poem is brilliant, and worth the pain of having attempted this (for 20 minutes anyway -- life's short and some of us have day jobs). Rex used a great phrase a few months ago -- "cruciverbalist onanism." That's what this was. No fun for the solver, but I hope IL enjoyed himself.

QuasiMojo 2:14 PM  

Glad to see some of my faves on here enjoyed it as much as I. Oh by the way, anyone else have "samovar" first before "operate" for urn? That was before I figured out the ruse.

Jay Apking 2:26 PM  

Thank you Ian! Great puzzle and I know there are a lot of us who love a great challenge.

Teedmn 2:31 PM  

SPAS crossing ASH after 12 minutes. My time was in the stratosphere but I wrestled it to the ground, boxed its ears and after my anagramming headache faded, I gave a couple of fist pumps. YES!!!

I loved SEASALT from Clan from the ocean. I would never have sussed "Blaise" from Isabel so good thing PASCAL filled in easily. I don't hate the Trap answers because then I had three fewer anagrams to decipher.

Great puzzle, Mr. Livengood!

Trey 2:39 PM  

Kicked my butt. But I really liked it. 20 minutes knowing that something was up, but like Rex thought it was 3 tricks rather than one. After figuring that out, it was a challenging slog, but I like having to think rather than guess the name of a 20th century prime minister

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

I've solved thousands of NYT crossword puzzles and rarely have I despised anything as much as this. It was just . . . pointless.

This was just a big Junior Fu#%ing Jumble.

If you liked this puzzle your new name is "Rain Man." Same for the constructor.

newspaperguy 2:57 PM  

There only two ways to assess crossword puzzles, it seems:
Too easy. I hated it.
Too hard. I hated it.

Evan Jordan 3:03 PM  

Genuinely happy for this puzzles solvers and impressed by the formal wizardry displayed by Mr. E. DevilOne: but I was among those who got the gimmick after a few minutes and, upon realizing the extent of its saturation, opted to live with the temporary irksomeness of quitting over a lifetime of paralysis that would surely be my reward if I attempted to complete the puzzle and suffered a massive stroke. Hyperbole aside, I do think it's worth considering how many crossword lovers hated this. Was John Cage's 4'33" conceptually groundbreaking? You betcha! Do I listen to recordings of it as never as possible? Right again!

webwinger 3:06 PM  

Today's puzzle was to take me past my previous streak record of 60, so my dismay at getting nothing on the first pass was particularly acute. I sensed something unusual but inferrable was going on, and when I googled (acceptable under "house rules") "Under the Pink" (which I'd never heard of) it quickly became clear. Agree the rest was a slog, but enough small delights to make soldiering on seem worthwhile. Finished in 3 times usual Thursday with streak intact. Then found the storm of invective here more entertaining than the puzzle. We humans can be very cute and funny when we get so worked up over nothing.

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

The point of a puzzle is to feel you've accomplished something when you solve each clue. On Monday you solve a little something; on Saturday you solve a big something. But however simple or complicated the riddle is, the point is that you feel satisfaction when you get it. There was zero satisfaction here. When I finally finished all I felt was resentment hat I had wasted time I could've spent doing... Well, frankly, the Post crossword would have been more satisfying than this one. Thankfully these are rare - let's hope they stay that way.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

Wow did a gang of criminals hold a gun to your head and make you do the puzzle? Poor guy.

Anonymous 3:34 PM  


Masked and Anonymous 3:34 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 3:37 PM  

After summoning up the additional courage that only 3 cinnamon rolls and a vodka chaser can adequately provide, I went back and finished this sucker up. Not so bad.

Is @sanfranman out there today? His solvetime stats would be particularly interestin, for this here rodeo.

@John Child: Welcome back, dude! Hope U can stay, in spite of today's strangeness. Still in Tibet? (Might wanna linger there a little longer, until seein how this election turns out -- and maybe also to see what the FriPuz is now gonna look like, if it's harder than the ThursPuz.)

@Ian Livengood: Pretty day-um different. But, I do like me some different. We do, U realize, kinda like to be able to solve these suckers within a certain … oh, say … "history of the universe" timeframe, tho, right? har. Gotta wonder what went thru yer mind, when U heard this puppy was gonna actually get published, on a Thursday. (Let's move to Tibet, just to be on the safe side, perhaps?)

@The Shortzmeister: U know that comment I made yesterday, about "More Cowbell"? Congratz, for trottin this here out one time, but … now yer startin to scare us, dude! Tond kema em emoc wond heert.


Martín Abresch 3:40 PM  

Is there a German word for the increase in pleasure one gets when others hate something that you love and when others give up on a struggle that you surmounted? Because that's what I'm feeling.

This puzzle was a blast to solve. The howls of hatred are bringing a perverse smile to my face. Am I a sick individual? Apparently.

Those who revealed or cheated to get the trick should be disappointed in themselves. Surrender in the face of a challenge? Never! Have faith in your abilities! Be ambitious! Work it out for yourself and then go about your day with a straighter stand.

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

I'm sure it's been mentioned in one of the hundreds of comments above but I didn't want to read through them all. "Anagram the first word of each clue"? False! It should have said "anagram the first word of each clue, then try and find alternative meanings for each of those anagrams;" THEN it would've been more accurate. For example, in 10-down, 'Folgers' was the first word yet the answer was 'swing.' There's no anagram that will turn Folgers into Swing. In fact, I can't even think of an anagram of Folgers that would yield a synonym for Swing. Terrible puzzle. A child playing with a set of wooden blocks could've done better.

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

Hey folks, want a challenge or not? I am not a fast or competitive solver, but I usually only do Thursday, Friday and Saturday because easy is boring for me. For the first time I can remember, I went through the whole list of clues without a single hit. I employed my rarely-used crutch of Googling a proper-name clue that I had little or no hope of guessing, here the first one, and that also signaled the gimmick and got me sloooowly up and running. I enjoyed the challenge.

MaharajaMack 3:53 PM  

Unlike almost every other Thursday, I got this immediately because of the Tori Amos clue. That said, I didn't come close to finishing because there was no help. You MAY have gotten the pun, but there were no crosses to help. And some of the anagrams were so bad that no answer made sense. When I go back with the completed puzzle and try to suss out the anagrams, there are some that still make no sense to me. Argh.

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

@Martin Arbresch, there's always scha·den·freu·de
ˈSHädənˌfroidə pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune. Would you like some anagrams of it? :D

bookmark 4:02 PM  

@George Barany constructed the USA Today Crossword today. Good one!

Hungry Mother 4:06 PM  

At 2:38, not exactly my fastest. Luckily, I'm resting my legs today. I am lousy at anagrams, so I had to figure out what strings of characters looked like answers. I thought about looking at all of the permutations, but a word of 8 different letters has 40, 320 permutations, so I didn't do that for many words.

David 4:07 PM  

Not going to read through the massive number of comments today, but I gather lots didn't like this. That's fair, I get it, but I enjoyed the solve. It was damn tough to get started confidently, even though some of the clues made it very clear there was a "clue is lying" theme of some sort. But even once figuring out some or all of the theme, it was still a legitimate workout going through it, with some funky misdirects, essentially layering an extra type of puzzle on top of the Crossword. I got a bit frustrated trying to figure out the trick, particularly because of the already-mentioned "Trap 1" instead of "Part 1" mislead, but at the end I had been challenged, had done some mental gymnastics, and was satisfied.

Mohair Sam 4:16 PM  

@Anonymous 3:45 (the second one) - Look Rosie Ruiz, I'm glad you finished your marathon - but don't knock the rest of us for not taking a cab to the finish line.

Roo Monster 4:28 PM  

Probably gonna hit the 200 Comments mark today. Yeow.

@Anon 3:45pm, folgers anagrams to golfer, so SWING does make sense. I did like your descriptive themer, though!

To all who say we as a group are obsessing over puzs when there are worse atrocities in the world to worry about, this is a crossword blog, not a Fix-the-World blog. And how much anti-sympathy to what you preach about is taken away when you waste your time putting others down on an inconsequential blog? Why idiots seem to be the only ones with time on their hands to infiltrate and putrify various venues is unreal.


Anonymous 4:31 PM  

Mohair Sam: I am absolutely not knocking non-cabriders. I said I use that crutch (or anything similar) only rarely, and regret needing it here; hat tip to those who got through unaided. I note that Rex admitted to seriously considering using an anagram solver. I am not aware that absolute purity on this sort of thing is considered a requisite outside of competition. Anonymous 3:45

Annette 4:44 PM  

I know it's childish of me to dislike something just because I couldn't figure it out. But there have been puzzles I couldn't do that I still admired. This one...nah. I'm happy I didn't waste an hour or more to finish it; in fact, I resent the 13 minutes I lost staring at it to no avail.


Su 5:11 PM  

I do see what you mean, and believe me, I am not criticizing those who decided they had better things to do with their time. My point is just that a true solve, at least in my book, means no outside assistance whatsoever.

I'm relatively new to crosswords, and I have a whole scale of achievements that top out at "solved with no outside assistance whatsoever." Asking people in the room, googling, checking what I already have, revealing, etc. Filling in a Wednesday, say, without any checking to see if I'm on the right track might be a personal best.

Your "true solve" is definitely the acme of the solver hierarchy, and I won't consider myself proficient on any given class of puzzle until I can do that at least some of the time. But I'm enjoying solving and getting better.

This puzzle frustrated me as a relative beginner because I couldn't find a way into it at all on my own. I googled for the Tori Amos clue, and I've used the anagram server a couple of times, which I probably wouldn't have done if I'd had scrabble or bananagram tiles handy for solving the anagrams myself; I can't do that kind of thing in my head.

That said, I do like anagrams, so once I accepted that this was across-the-board a different kind of crossword than I was used to, I managed to have some fun with it.

Mohair Sam 5:30 PM  

@Anon 4:31 - My shot was nothing personal. A few others a had said what you said. I just wanted to have fun with the Rosie Ruiz metaphor.

Anonymous 5:33 PM  

Kevin Spacey did not win an Oscar in 1999.

TomAz 5:44 PM  

What happened to the apostrophe in Curie's ? Is that anagram-legal?

Jerry Herlihy 5:46 PM  

Love, Julie

Jerry Herlihy 5:52 PM  

Is the NYTimes willing to spare a full page tomorrow to explain each ridiculous anagram? Personally, I prefer Julie's hate poem.

Mike D 5:58 PM  

Oh the anons (yes, you @5:33 pm) are especially tedious today. Every goddammed time there is an academy award clue, someone thinks he (usually)is smarter than the constructor. The film was in 1999. It's a 1999 award. Yes the ceremony is in 2000, but we talk about oscars the year the film was released, not the year the ceremony is held.

jae 6:02 PM  

@lms & Z - me too for the bass-awkward approach to solving. I still don't know some of the anagrams.

@lms - I feel exactly the same way you do about @$&:¥ anagrams. Plus being dyslexic doesn't hep.

I actually considered using the online anagram solver, but my inner purist said no.

@Quasi - Samovar occurred to me but by then it was obvious that nothing was as it seemed.

@Irene - My entry was seeing kin for Ink which gave me PICA which gave me APATOW and I was off and slogging.

Everett Wolf 6:04 PM  

Phenomenal puzzle. Stopped coming here, since I started to dislike Rex, and the negativity that increased in the time I used to visit, but had to see the special brand of vitriol Rex would produce for this. He did not disappoint. ;-)

Airymom 6:11 PM  

Solving it was torture and impossible for me (had to look at the completed grid and then Jeff Chen's list of the anagrams), but I give Ian credit for trying something different.

Kate 6:19 PM  


t-dawg 6:21 PM  

I liked it.

It was really hard. It was strange and wacky and different. I don't need every day's or every week's crossword puzzle to be exactly the same, and I don't care about it messing up my stats/solving times.

Good job, NYT.

obertb 6:33 PM  

I absolutely hated this puzzle. Worst puzzle ever. If I wanted to do anagrams, I'd do the Jumble in the paper. This crap makes my head hurt. I DID open an anagram solver just to move things along, and then thought, f*** it, this just ain't worth the trouble. Yeech.

Atram007 6:35 PM  

My kingdom for a well-constructed, gimmick-free puzzle. Once I saw it was anagrams (early on) I just quit. it's not a crossword at all. disaster.

Unknown 6:45 PM  

No, anagram of hadji is jihad. Jihad group is ISIS.

Malsdemare 6:58 PM  

Oh my god! I'm okay with anagrams, but a whole puzzle? No, just no! You can shoot me now. i'm in the bar with everyone else.

jbengould 7:09 PM  

Part of the difficulty was that these were not jumbles (where there is supposed to be just one actual answer). Many of these had multiple possible anagrams. Everyone knows a regal volume is a PINT! (Though I prefer a good ael)

Dave 7:12 PM  

I enjoy cryptics so I'm not completely averse to anagrams, but I have to agree with the vast majority of commenters: this was absolutely brutal. A painful, seemingly endless slog. I do the puzzles on paper so I don't know what my time was, but it certainly felt like it took longer than any other puzzle I've done in years.

Also the clue for 19 across!? I realize that "hadji" is an anagram for "jihad," but still. That's like cluing "Vietcong" as "Gook group."

Bookin' the Cooks 7:21 PM  

Folgers=Golfers 🙂

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

I think they are Hasbro and sources.

Anonymous 7:32 PM  

For the first time in 40 years of daily NYT puzzles, I didn't bother with this one.

Happy Pencil 7:38 PM  

@Su: Keep plugging away and you'll be proficient before you know it. I actually got much better at solving because of CascoKid, who no longer posts here, unfortunately. His daily descriptions of his sometimes frustrating solving experiences, and especially his tenacity in the face of that frustration, taught me to be more patient and not to throw in the towel so quickly. Once I made the decision to give each puzzle a decent shake, I found I could solve a lot more than I realized and didn't need to Google nearly as much as I thought I did. I am by no means as good a solver as many here, but it's rare for me now to get a DNF.

I don't know if CascoKid still reads the blog and just doesn't comment, but if so, I hope he will see this post and know how much he helped me improve. I'm a better solver because of a lot of the commenters here, but especially because of him (and Rex, of course). Thanks, all. That's my three -- a rare chatty day from me!

RAD2626 7:43 PM  

I have been through the 189 comments and do not recall seeing a single shout out to the amazing Merl Reagle who could anagram your name upon introduction. He would have loved and blazed through this I think.

I am with @Nancy and @Lewis. I got the gimmick at 1A but still struggled. I learned something about myself. Although I do Jumble (and thought I was pretty good at it) I clearly stink at multiple option anagrams. This took freaking forever. 2x would have been a blessing. But I persevered and congratulate Ian on creating a solvable monster.

@John Child. Welcome back. Assumed you bailed out during monitor days. May your fall, winter and seasons to come be better.

Bookin' the Cooks 7:46 PM  

You're absolutely right, he won in 2000 for his role in a movie released in 1999. The awards are always the following year. It's surprising how many websites (not AMPAS) have listed the years incorrectly!

Bookin' the Cooks 7:48 PM  

I beg to differ. We talk about awards in the year in which they are won. See the official AMPAS website.

Doc John 7:55 PM  

Yes. What a friggin' slog. And I did resort to anagram software.

Anonymous 7:57 PM  

After attempting this puzzle, I have decided to pursue learning the Icelandic language for that would be far easier than this exercise in futility from today.

jberg 8:05 PM  

My apologies -- it took me all day to solve this, and I have to cook dinner now, so I'm going to skip reading the 195 comments. My experience was just like OFL's -- three 'trap's so I figured there were three different gimmicks. After a while, I gave up and went for a walk in the park with my wife, during the course of which I realized that "trap" is an anagram of part. That let me know that EVERY first word was an anagram, and then it was just a long slog. I still don't get some of them, (freight?), but got the answers anyway -- except that I went for OUT/TO each clue, then changed it to OF, so DNF. Hag!

Z 8:43 PM  

FYI - If comments >200 there is a second comment page.

Tom 8:59 PM  

The worst puzzle in 18 years of playing. Not enjoyable in the slightest. I'm sure the person creating this mess is proud of himself. Ridiculous waste of time. I do the puzzles for enjoyment and to relax. Hate, hate, hate anagrams.

Questinia 9:17 PM  


BlueStater 9:17 PM  

I've said this many times before, but this hot mess prompts me to say it again. This is not a crossword puzzle. It is another kind of exercise altogether. If I (and, I would guess, a majority of NYT puzzle-solvers) want an anagram game I'll go elsewhere, like maybe Games magazine (assuming they publish things like this and that it's still around). I don't expect or want this from the NYT. The editors of the NYT need to sit WS down and tell him not to do stuff like this any more. I estimate the likelihood of this happening as not greater than that of the Red Sox scoring runs in the clutch this year.

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