TUESDAY, Aug. 5, 2008 - Joon and Caroline Pahk (Author/illustrator who used the pseudonym Ogdred Weary / Superboy's crush)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy/Medium

THEME: ANAGRAMMED NAMES, as explained by 62A: What the clues for 17-, 27- and 48-Across all contain.

At 10:10 ET I sent Joon a message:

me: Nice work young man!
Joon: thx!
Sent at 9:10 PM on Monday
Joon: did they really name him odin?
that's so awesome
me: they really did

You know what else was awesome: this puzzle.

  • 17A: Writer who created the character Vivian Darkbloom (VLADIMIR NABOKOV). Clare Quilty's writing partner and eventual biographer in Lolita.
  • 27A: Singer who nicknamed himself Mr. Mojo Risin' (JIM MORRISON).
  • 48A: Author/illustrator who used the pseudonym Ogdred Weary (EDWARD GOREY).
  • 62A: What the clues for 17-, 27- and 48-Across all contain (ANAGRAMMED NAMES)

I started this puzzle the way I often do, going through the first across row and then moving back through the downs that cross that row. I think I got only STAR going across, but then quickly got several key downs that gave me a good letter pattern for the first theme answer. I think I incorrectly started with ROAM for 13D: Travel the country (ROVE), but then ran through several more at first glance.

  • 11D: "Kon-___" (TIKI). Speaking of Thor, as we were yesterday, this is the raft on which Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific, and it's a not uncommon crossword answer.
  • 9D: Samuel Barber's "___ for Strings" (ADAGIO). I'm only fair to middling with my classical music knowledge. But this is one I can name. Barber wrote this when he was even younger than Joon is now, which makes me wonder what I've been doing with my life.
  • 8D: Superboy's crush (LANA). Learned it earlier this year from a puzzle.
  • 7D: Walter Scott title (SIR). That's pretty much what I remember about him, his title. I think I sometimes confuse him with the other Sir Walter, Raleigh.
  • 5D: Late newsman Russert (TIM). Timely, and sad. I'm guessing WS changed this clue recently.
That left me with xxxxxMxRNAxxKxA, which was just enough of a pattern to let me see NABOKOV immediately, despite my incorrect ending--I've gotta think having the K in there made a big difference.

I quickly filled in the rest of the top. Including
  • 4D: Snorri Sturluson work (EDDA). As Icelandic-sounding a name as can be. Didn't need to know who Snorri was to understand what he might have written. With that and 3D: Fervor (ZEAL) in place I finally came up with...
  • 1A: Woodworking tool (ADZE). I know the names of lots of tools, but no matter how specifically they're clued it always takes me several crosses to figure out which one they're looking for. Also, I'm not sure who the "they" is whot is doing the looking, but someone chastised PuzzleGirl a few days ago for using the passive voice so I didn't want to say "that is being looked for". I apologize in advance for the math-majorish quality of the rest of my writing...
I filled in the rest of the north, moving across, and continued on to the next theme answer.
  • 27A: Singer who nicknamed himself Mr. Mojo Risin' (JIM MORRISON). This was in The Doors' L.A. Woman, and because someone will ask that part starts around the 5:00 mark of

I thought for a second about what JIM MORRISON and VLADIMIR NABOKOV could have in common, but I quickly remembered a discussion we had in the comments here back in March about the anagram. I checked, Vivian Darkbloom looked good with the K and some Vs, and I immediately jumped to the next theme entry.
  • 48A: Author/illustrator who used the pseudonym Ogdred Weary (EDWARD GOREY). You had me at "author/illustrator"!
His most famous work is probably The Gashlycrumb Tinies, an alphabet-book with a (delightful) twist. I'd been unfamiliar with his pseudonymous work--apparently, he used several pen names, most anagrams of his actual name. His first Ogdred Weary book was The Curious Sofa, a pornographic illustrated story about furniture, which looks awesome (and is not in either the Minneapolis or Hennepin County library catalog).

A very fun and creative theme to the puzzle, which marked the NYT debut by frequent reader/commenter Joon and his wife Caroline. Congrats, guys!

There was very little I didn't like about this puzzle, and most of what was new to me I learned from googling after. I had a fast, smooth solve, and never saw the few things I didn't know. And, as usual, I'm running a bit late, so here, quickly, is

  • 15A: Work that begins "Sing, goddess, the wrath of Peleus' son ..." (ILIAD). I think Rex teaches this seemingly every term; I relied on help from the crosses.
  • 16A: Older brother of Michael Jackson (TITO). Just yesterday Andrea Carla Michaels was telling us (again) about a cartoon Venn diagram in which the overlap between Yugoslavian dictators and The Jackson 5 is Tito. It's not (that I could find) in the New Yorker Cartoon Bank or on GraphJams, but if anyone happens to find a copy let me know.
  • 22A: Keep ___ on (TABS). Sometimes, I highlight an answer just so I have an excuse to post a picture. In this case, I had trouble deciding which one to use. I settled on the cans. But then I decided to use both to give you guys a taste of just how hard this crossword blogging can be. How would you decide? This is a real dilemma!
  • Another dilemma occurs when 40A: "Saturday Night Live" bits (SKITS) crosses 31D: "Saturday Night Live" genre (SATIRE). So many skits, how can I decide which to show you? Do I go with something underappreciated like Census Taker? An old classic like Word Association? Or do I look for something to honor someone on our minds right now, like Down By The River, featuring Christina Applegate, who we're all pulling for? Turns out, I zig and not zag, and don't embed any of them. That SethG--you never know which way he's gonna go!
  • Heck, I'm not even going to post a link for 43A: Mr. T series, with "The" (ATEAM).
  • What you'll get, because PuzzleGirl requested it: 5A: Real-life scientist played by David Bowie in "The Prestige," 2006 (TESLA). Enjoy!

  • 45A: Inter ___ (ALIA). Could this be a hidden theme entry? I suppose someone could dig up some dictionary, somewhere, which includes ALIA as a plural of alias. All it takes is one!
  • 53A: Unidentified man (MISTERX). Yet again, as I go through this I picture what Rex would say about each entry. And I feel slightly guilty that I don't have the appropriate comics background to really do this justice.

  • 66A: Teeming (with) (RIFE). This always makes me think of L. Bob Rife, from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, which BeckyWow got me for my birthday once.
  • 71A: Revolutionary car part? (AXLE). I wasn't sure if the axle actually spins or if it stays steady while a shaft inside the axle rotates. Turns out, the answer is "yes". "A pin or shaft on or with which a wheel or pair of wheels revolves."
  • 6D: With 10-Down, ABC series starring Jonny Lee Miller (ELI) and 10D: See 6-Down (STONE). Yeah, never heard of it.
  • 23D: They may be drawn with compasses (ARCS). Typing now, I'm picturing the Spirograph, which doesn't really draw arcs at all.

  • 27D: Fanatics wage it (JIHAD). I like a little holy war with my morning coffee as much as the next guy. This is not quite symmetric with 32D: Doha's land (QATAR). I'm pretty sure QATAR is our ally in the war on terror, and don't remember what I meant to say here.
  • 30D: Badlands sight (MESA). I went camping in Badlands National Park once after we rescheduled a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area because of storms. Turns out, we had tornadoes and the BWCA had perfect weather. We slept in a truck, stuck on the top of a hill.
  • I didn't understand what 58D: One-L person, in an Ogden Nash poem (LAMA) was even asking. It makes sense once you watch
and realize the guy switched the lines. So weird.
  • 44D: "The Great Gatsby" gambler Wolfsheim (MEYER). Glad I never saw this clue.
  • 49D: Lower the allowed electrical capacity of (DERATE). Glad I never saw this clue.
  • 59D: Big movie fan's option? (IMAX). The movie is big, the fan may or may not be.
  • 63D: Cambridge sch. (MIT). Without a doubt the best sch. in Cambridge. Come to think of it, I think Joon works in Cambridge.
Anyway, I was obviously kidding about the picture at the top. That's Loki's friend Finn, who turned 1 on Saturday, when Loki was born. (If you're new here, my friends were living with me while waiting for their kid to arrive, and the kid's name is actually Odin. Finn's name is actually Finn.) Here's Loki resting comfortably, and more pictures are at his [photographer] dad's picture site. (Update: And the full birth story is up on their blog!) His parents (and I) thank you all for the well-wishes. Loki and family head up north today to spend time with his grandmothers, and I become much lonelier.

But, since it's baby (and child) picture day, we'll let Yggdrasil Pahk get the last word. And if you want, you can call him Sam.

46A: "Toodles!" (TATA),


chefbea 9:50 AM  

I'm the first?? That's a first for me. Good write up. Adorable baby!!

Fun puzzle but I thought a bit tough for a tuesday.

Jeffrey 9:55 AM  

Joon! Its like one of the family has made it big. Congratulations to you and Caroline on this puzzle.

It is a good Tuesday. I would have had no clue on the theme answers but the fact they are anagrams make them easy to get as you just look for the missing letters as you go. Without that, those would have been Wednesday-ish.

Also didn't know ELI STONE but it sounded better than ELO STINE so I guessed right.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

i thought it pleasantly tough for a tuesday, and felt really proud for finishing it! way to go joon and caroline
- joyce from plano

Ulrich 10:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 10:07 AM  

Congrats to joon--it is our cyberfrined, right?, and Caroline (I assume puzzle wife, not puzzle sister) for a fine puzzle--I enjoyed it pretty much from beginning to end, at a difficulty level that seemed to me perfect for a Tuesday--with one big exception: square 68--I still don't understand why "nalt" is an alternative to "shake"

Speaking of literary anagrams: Orange recommended here in the depth of last winter (which wasn't much of a winter here in CT) the book of literary parodies Holy Tango by Francis Heaney. I bought it the next day and can only pass her recommendation on: This guy is really good!

Jeffrey 10:11 AM  

That would be "MALT", Ulrich.

Ulrich 10:25 AM  

@crosscan: But my friend wiki says her name is Lana--and Seth's write-up concurs. Anyway, if the correct answer is Lama, I have another question: how is "malt" (a substance) an alternative for "shake" (a process)?

RodeoToad 10:33 AM  

Four-star day on puzzle and write-up. (But how can you criticize a write-up with pictures of cute babies in it? That's cheating, Seth.)

Joon and Caroline, missed opportunity to clue 42A and 67A as "Alternative answers to 28D?") Granted, that would have been stupid.

That Census Taker skit had me LingOL.

Haven't read Snorri's stuff, but I read "Njal's Saga" as an undergraduate and re-read it or parts of it pretty often. It's a freaking hoot. Those Icelanders don't mess around. It's the ur-pulp-fiction. The chapters are usually a page long and it has about ten thousand characters, most of whom are introduced with a couple of sentences of description and then killed in gruesome manners. The descriptions are hilarious: "Njal was wealthy and handsome, but he had one peculiarity; he could not grow a beard." Here's the complete Chapter 57:

"A man called Starkad, the son of Bork Bluetooh-Beard, lived at Thrihyrning. His wife was called Hallbera. They had three sons, Thorgeir, Bork, and Thorkel, and a daughter, Hildigunn the Healer.

"The sons were all arrogant, brutal men, who had no respect for the rights of others."

Jeffrey 10:34 AM  

Is it just us, Ulrich?

6D is LANA - Superboy's crush.
58D is LAMA - One-L person, in an Ogden Nash poem

MALT is short for MALTED milk; SHAKE is short for Milkshake. Both are drinks you can get at an ice cream shop.

chefbea 10:36 AM  

@ulrich you go to the icecream shop you can order a milk shake or a malted milk shake. Get it?? I'l make you a good one - either shake or malt

Ulrich 10:41 AM  

@crosscan: OMG--now I look like a complete idiot.

@chefbea1: Thx!

JC66 10:43 AM  

great puzzle!!!

JC66 10:46 AM  

and write-up!!!

Alec 10:47 AM  

What a debut! I got the theme right away because I'm a fan of Nabokov (and anagrams), but this was a pleasure from start to finish. Possibly my favorite puzzle so far this year...

Bill from NJ 10:50 AM  


The clue refers to a humorous poem by Mr. Nash which is as follows:

The one-l lama, he's a priest
the two-l llama. he's a beast
And I'll bet a silk pajama
There is no three-l llama

The shake in question is a milk shake and a malt is a milk shake made with malt. You may have heard of a "Malt shop", a hangout for teenagers from the '50's

Barry G. 10:52 AM  

Morning, all!

Great puzzle. Challenging, but gettable. Well, almost. I had no clue for the 6D and 10D combination and finally got ELI STANE via the crosses just because I mispelled NABAKOV. I mean NABOKOV. See? I did it again. Even knowing it was supposed to be ELI STONE doesn't ring any bells. A quick check of the IMDB reveals that this is actually a current series? Man, I need to get out more. Or stay in more, I suppose.

As for the rest of the puzzle, I got stuck for awhile in the SW corner after confidently putting JOHN DOE instead of MISTER X for 53A. And... that was about it, actually. Didn't know who Mssrs. EVANS (37A) and MEYER (44D) were, but got them both via the crosses, and everything else was pretty straightforward.

PuzzleGirl 10:57 AM  

Joon: I'll be honest. When I saw your name on the puzzle I thought "Oh crap. What if I hate it?" Turned out to be a non-issue though because this is a truly awesome puzzle! I enjoyed every minute of it. My missteps were: keep A LID on (for keep TABS on), JOHN DOE (for MISTER X), and ROAM (for ROVE).

My favorite clue is "besmirch." Gonna have to try to use that word today. DIS is also a great word.

Congratulations to you and Caroline on an elegant and enjoyable debut!

Bill D 11:00 AM  

Don't have much time but I wanted to congratulate Joon & Caroline on the superb puzzle,Seth on the blog, and everyone who had anything to do with the babies.

Didn't know Gorey had pen names - I'll have to track that stuff down now! Also didn't know, although I was a huge Doors fan, that Mr Mojo Risin' was an anagram of Jim Morrison. It was all about the music for me.

Great stuff all around - puzzle, blog, procreation - kudos to all!

Two Ponies 11:03 AM  

Great debut Joon and Mrs. Looking forward to more from you two.
@ Wade Love your joke. It's like some wacky playground dialogue but with a southern accent.
Is it I?
It is.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Loved this puzzle! Congratulations Joon & Caroline!

Nice fresh clue for EDDA. Nice fresh puzzle. Before I got the theme I had VAN MORRISON ... but quickly changed it to JIM.

@Ulrich: watch the video in the blog regarding the Odgen Nash poem.
Although, that guy is really annoying.

@SethG: fantastic write up. The Census Taker is one of my favorites. That and The Continental. If fact, everything that Christopher Walken does is hilarious. Have you seen him making a chicken in his kitchen on You Tube? He's serious, but the video is too funny.

This was just a fun, perfect Tuesday experience with an added bonus of baby pictures.

ArtLvr 11:23 AM  

I found it a teeny bit harder than a Tuesday, my own fault but I finally got all the way through without help... I wanted 53A to be "John Doe" too long, rather than MISTER X, even though it gave nary a single helpful cross. Then XMAS started the SW clean-up, and I ended up in MARS. Whew.

Favorite person: TESLA, what a genius... ESTES was Sen. Kefauver, who campaigned in a coonskin cap like those we were discussing here the other day! If we hadn't had our "fill" of Texan rogues, we might have seen the clue [Billie Sol ___, notorious Texas con-man], instead of the Adlai connection?

My given name being Cornelia, I've always known Caroline to be a special anagram-mate. Congrats to the Pahks!


Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Had Mystery before I realized it was MisterX from the crosses. Tricky as Mystery Man fits well and shares all but 2 letters.

Also first thought that anagrammed referred to the answers and not the clues. It did not make sense to me, so I decided that one can find "anagrammed names" mixed up in all 3 names. That actually worked. However, when I read the clues again I realized that I had to look at the clue and its answer to find the anagrammed name in each.I fall for this all the times: when clue is in the clue I look to the answer instead of the clue. Anybody else do this?


Bill from NJ 11:28 AM  

This was a name-heavy puzzle, which is good for folks good with names. Since I am good with names, I had an easy time with this one. Aside from all the names, this was a pretty good Tusday effort and Congratulations to joon and Caroline for their NYT debut.

I guess I can say I "knew" him when

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

What a confusing week - first the Monday puzzle should have been on Tuesday, and then the Tuesday puzzle should have been on Wedndesday. Did I miss a day somewhere?

I certainly missed the X in Mister X, which I wasn't familiar with. I had it as Y, i.e., a man of MYSTERY. Of course, that meant that YMAS was a brief holiday. But what do I know? Maybe it represented Yule and Christmas combined? After all, my parents were Jewish.

Overall, a great puzzle - congrats!

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

oops - Profphil beat me to it .. that is, the discussion about the MYSTERY confusion. I forgot to mention that if you try to use MYSTERY you get YNIT for "still alive" and even I couldn't really justify that one (a variation on YET???).

JannieB 11:38 AM  

Congrats Joon & Caroline - great debut, great puzzle, adorable son. I found it a bit rough going for a Tuesday, but enjoyed the challenge and the freshness of the fill. Finished without googles, but it took a bit longer than normal. I only wish this were a trend.

@PG - how is the dog?

@Seth - great job as always.

miriam b 11:39 AM  

You've all said it all! Wonderful debut, wonderful writeup, wonderful babies! and three of my favorite anagrammed people, to boot.

jubjub 11:40 AM  

joon -- great puzzle! This puzzle was on my wavelength -- I filled in all the theme answers with no help from the downs. I'm a big fan of Nabokov and Gorey :).

I haven't seen the movie version of The Prestige. Read the book a while back. I didn't know it had David Bowie in it! Now I have to see it. When I was a kid David Bowie as The Labyrinth guy freaked me out.

My only trouble was the crossing of ALLAN and EDDA, as I can never remember if it is ALLAN or ALLeN and I don't know what EDDA is.

@Andrea, your TITO Venn diagram helped me immensely :).

My boyfriend's brother married a Swedish lady, and they were thinking of naming their baby Viking, as that is, I'm told, a common name up there. Of course, they were also considering Balthazar ...

crackup 11:44 AM  

Great puzzle for a Tues. Gorgeous babies.
Everyone's already mentioned the one L lama, malts/ shakes and don't forget frappes, I got confused between the Moon and Mars.

Ulrich 11:47 AM  

@bill from nj and joho: Thanks to you, too.

I actually have the Nash poem somewhere in the back of my mind (from previous puzzles, no doubt), but when I was staring at LA_A at 58D, I thought "oh, this must be the girlfriend" (which I had gotten before--silly me) and never looked back to the puzzle--big mistake b/c, as has been pointed out by orange gazillion times, the NYT puzzles are vetted, and real bloopers are extremely rare.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Excellent puzzle, Joon (and Caroline). Congrats. I confess I didn't even see your name until I came to the blog, and then I was like, "Wait, Joon is filling in for Rex today??" I often enjoy your insights, and am happy to see you are a talented puzzlemaker as well. But please try to get beets into the puzzle next time ;)

Cute kid, that Yggdrasil. Though he doesn't look particularly Old or Norse.

Had some typical foul-ups others cited: "John Doe" for Mister X, e.g. Wanted Lane for LANA, but Egonize made no sense.

Did feel more like a wednesday to me.

What, people, no Salmon recipes??

@Ulrich, next time you are in Brooklyn we can go for a taste-testing of malts and milkshakes, as well as the famed "egg cream," which contains neither eggs nor cream.


Anonymous 11:55 AM  

Oh, and I did not like both ESTE and ESTES in the S/SE...

jeff in chicago 12:23 PM  

Fun puzzle. Thought I was going to set a Tuesday record, until I hit the SW. (Sound of screeching brakes.) Then lucky guesses of MEYER and MARS got me through it.

The Ogden Nash poem guy (David Henry Sterry) weirded me out, but I couldn't stop watching the clips of him. What is wrong with me?

Like billd, I have listened to The Doors for years, but never realized the Mr Mojo Risin' anagram. The things ya' learn here.

Congrats Joon in the debut, and thanks Seth for the writeup.

Parshutr 12:32 PM  

The axle itself does not necessarily rotate; the wheel(s) affixed to it do.
And I tried various wrong guesses to "Alternative to shake" -- like STIR and BAKE...

Luke 12:37 PM  

Excellent puzzle! Although I was staring at the answers trying to figure out how they were anagrammed before I realized that the anagram was in the clue. Bah.

Joon you are a physicist correct? I think you mentioned it yesterday with BARYON so I cannot say anything wrong about this puzzle. I think it goes against some law of physics or something. I'm sure if you set up a Hamiltonian or something it would lead to that answer.

Did like the Great Gatsby clue but I had to look that up since I'm absolutely terrible with names. Heck I look up most actors/actresses names in these puzzles because I'm too lazy (or don't want to perhaps) commit them to memory. Oh well, eventually they will stick.

Actually, since Joon has posted here, how much did this puzzle differ from the one you submitted? I'd be curious to hear what changes happened between yours and the published version.

HudsonHawk 12:53 PM  

Great work all the way around. I feel compelled to quote Lester Bangs in Almost Famous (and give a shout out to our Canadian bloggers):

"The Doors? Jim Morrison? He's a drunken buffoon posing as a poet.
Give me the Guess Who. They've got the courage to be drunken buffoons, which makes them poetic."

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

@omnie: great question for Joon. I, too, am interested in how much editing took place ... and how much changed -- or not -- is your puzzle?

Bill D 1:07 PM  

I believe a "3-L lama" is a large fire in Brooklyn.

alanrichard 1:07 PM  

Great puzzle - cute baby. I had the top 2/3 done before I realized the theme was anagrams. Now I'm ready to go hunting and SNAG A RAM!
(Actually I'm vegan & would NEVER go hunting). I figured Ogdred Weary was an anagram and then I realized the theme.
Estes Kefauver fimally made a puzzle, too bad it was postum.
My younger daughter, Laurie, loves Jim Morrison and the Doors and plays their music all the time. Shes also an artist who's going to Carnegie Mellon, and has done portraits of Morrison and other people she likes.
Anyway - great puzzle!!!!

Doug 1:08 PM  

@hh g'd'eh, eh from Vancouver.

Burton Cummings from the Guess Who played at the "British Columbia 150th anniversary" celebration yesterday, and he was still hanging in there and belting out the tunes. I saw them play in Toronto for the 500,000 person audience at SarsStock and they killed.

Great puzzle, and once I figured out the anagram theme it went fairly quick. Had to type the Russian author into MS-Word and then cut and paste to make it work, as I didn't know the name and could not for the life of me keep the letters in my head.

Is Pahk the Brooklynized version of Park? I'm reminded of the Godfather II scene at Ellis Island: "His name is Vito
Andolini from Corleone" and "Fine, Vito Corleone. Welcome to America." (I've embellished the dialogue in absence of the the video, lest I get zinged by GF purists!)

Unknown 1:20 PM  

I loved the puzzle and the solving challenge. No major slips, but I could see this one being much harder with different clues. I didn't know Eli Stone or Meyer and DERATE comes up, oh let's see, never, in my conversations.

My tangent is a response to Wade and my accidental encounter with Njal's Saga emerging from buying and then adding to a collection of Penguin Classics. I read about a dozen sagas which made reading Giants in the Earth a true pleasure.

If chefbea and foodie are passing on DILL recipes, then I will refrain also. Seth, thanks for the reflection on the yin and yang of life with pictures of a cute innocent baby and Karl Rove.

dk 1:29 PM  

A note to Sam,

Research the title of aqua-man. It is given to the most supreme kayaker, That will put you one up on that Loki character.

Joon and Puzzlespouse - kudos. I had johndoe instead of MISTERX and that caused this to be a 10 minute Tuesday.

DERATE was also an issue for me as I wanted it to be rheostat which of course does not fit, match any of the crosses etc.

Back in the day Morrison Hotel was considered to be one of the top ten rock albums.

@seth, Loki has your hair.

chefbea 1:49 PM  

@billd lol loved the 3 l ama (fire in Brooklyn)

@phillysolver How bout cold poached salmon with a dilled cucumber sauce? yummm

fergus 2:28 PM  

Had to peck around and be tentative with quite a few answers, which makes for a good Tuesday. Only saw Caroline in the quick glance at the author, so was ready to offer plaudits to this unknown constructor, and then learned, soon enough, that Joon was with Caroline. Now I wonder what it would be like to do a debut puzzle by a constructor who I sort of "know?" The other constructors who comment here had already established their identity (in my mind) through their puzzles, so it is a fresh question, of at least moderate interest to those who still haven't produced a puzzle with any satisfaction.

Someone mentioned the other day (it wasn't Joon was it?) about the dearth of good short fiction in the latter half of the 20th century. But maybe that was recognizing that Nabakov wrote most of his short fiction before that deadline?

Anyhow, this was one of the most lively grids, and with a stimulating theme to boot. And hardly any crosswordese; the only faint whiff came from MIT, the place where the pantheonic student attends graduate school, after ETON and undergrad at ELON.


And a note to Mac, in Vancouver: when the tide is extra low, which it should be just after a new moon, check out the Spanish Banks NW of Kitsilano. You can walk way far out and get some fantastic views. But watch the tide, of course ...

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

I'm up late tonight. Quiz night tonight. Missed out on 180 bucks by one year. What year was the stapler invented, was the question. No googling allowed. Wasn't as impressed as others today by the puzzle. Don't know why. Despite being a vicar's daughter, desperately wanted the last supper question to be "more wine, anyone?"

Joon 2:47 PM  

hello all, and thanks for all the kind words.

here's the lowdown on the constructing/editing process: for our parts, i came up with the theme idea, and caroline helped out immensely by rejecting one of the answers as too obscure. (what, you think jim morrison is better known than 19th-century italian librettist/composer arrigo boito, who used the pen name of tobia gorrio? really?) the inspiration was really noticing that vivian darkbloom/VLADIMIRNABOKOV was exactly 15 letters.

the fill was a collaborative effort all the way. i wrote all the clues except for DILL, which i gratefully delegated to her. my thinking was that the theme could be tough for novices to pick up on, so i was aiming towards a thursday level of difficulty in most of the cluing.

will's changes were uniformly excellent--the puzzle you solved is definitely much better than the one we submitted. he tweaked the grid in two places: 30D used to be MBTA, the [Boston subway syst.], and 40A used to be SKIVE, which is britslang for shirk. (harry potter fans will be familiar with the word.) i guess MBTA as an answer doesn't travel well outside the boston area (although i recently saw it incorrectly clued for MTA). SKIVE is just plain too obscure for a tuesday, so that was a good change. plus, the ensuing SNL crossing in the middle was very cool. as john farmer observed, there ended up being a pretty heavy NBC vibe in the upper midwest of this puzzle: TIM russert, ELI/STONE, BROKAW (i guess he's the russert pro tem), and two SNL references.

the only change i wasn't thrilled with was ELI/STONE. ELI was originally clued as [Priest who raised Samuel], in honor of our son's biblical namesake--but that's the exact clue we saw yesterday for ELI. STONE was [Execute, in a way], which is maybe too gruesome for the breakfast test and maybe too tricky for a tuesday. cluing them together as a proper name gave some people vowel troubles when spelling out NABOKOV (all kinds of things look like they might fit for that middle schwa vowel), but the theme does constrain it somewhat--as crosscan pointed out, the only other option is ELO STINE (and VLADIMOR NABIKOV).

other than that, will's changes were just making the clues crisper or more tuesday-appropriate. some examples: i had [Huge name in movies?] for IMAX, and i like the new version much better. i left out "son of peleus" in the ILIAD quote. i had [Three-star V.I.P.] for LTGEN. ARCS was the tricky and math-geeky [Chords fit inside them]. TIM was the even geekier [Enchanter from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"]. EVANS was [Surname of U2's The Edge], which is probably not so well-known. (then again, i don't know who harold EVANS is, either.)

i'm thrilled about the EDDA clue remaining untouched, as snorri sturluson is one of the greatest names ever. if sam has a little brother, i'm going to push for snorri sturluson pahk. (it's even more mellifluous than yggdrasil.)

the clue whose intactness surprised me was MEYER wolfsheim--i'm a huge gatsby fan, as i think i mentioned here last week, and that character was based on the legendary arnold rothstein, who allegedly financed the throwing of the 1919 world series. but he's not a major character, and when i heard that the puzzle was going to be tuesdayed, i assumed that clue would get changed.

the upshot of this is: will shortz is very good at his job. this fact should surprise nobody.

as for pahk, there's no brooklyn involved, but something similar did happen--my dad arbitrarily changed the spelling when he immigrated. (in korean, it's the same name as the ├╝ber-common park.)

RodeoToad 3:03 PM  

Joon, thanks for sticking up for Gatsby, which took a beating here a couple of weeks ago. It's sublime. I can't imagine it ever not being so. It's probably number four or five on the list of books I've re-read most often. Wolfsheim's nostrils!

ArtLvr 3:07 PM  

Many thanks, joon, for the great explanations! And congrats again....


Orange 3:12 PM  

Every so often, a blog reader asks if they can send me a puzzle they've constructed. Often these are semi-dreadful first efforts, with plenty of fill that would beg an editor to reject the puzzle, and clues that entertain the constructor but violate the usual mode of published crosswords.

So when Joon wrote me in June and said he'd made a puzzle for his friend's birthday and wondered if I might post it on my Google Groups page, I felt that familiar foreboding. But it was good! (You can download it at that link—it's the puzzle called happybelatedbirthday.puz).

Like PuzzleGirl, I had that moment of "Uh-oh, what if I hate this?" when I saw Joon and Caroline's byline last night—but it passed quickly as I grooved on the anagram theme.

chefbea 3:13 PM  

thanks joon for all the explanations

dk 3:14 PM  

Joon, thank you for the additional insight into the construction and publication process. Given my addiction... err love of puzzle your write up was like manna from heaven.

Agree whole heartedly with @wade Meyer W (aka Arnold R) was a great clue from a great book. When I lived on a lake in Maine I installed a blinking green light on the end of my dock.

Call me Daisy Buchanan.

chefbea 3:19 PM  

I was thinking... maybe foodie and I should collaborate on a puzzle about food but I see it's already been done


Anonymous 3:20 PM  

Bravo Joon and Caroline!
(did your dad change John to Joon?)

Loved the anagrams...

and really loved that you fully explained both the collaboration process AND the before and after with Will
My pet peeve is some constructors
(I've been asked not to name names) like to take the full credit...
Weird that Tito appeared again (Thanks for the shout out, Seth, doll)
This totally reinforces my theory that every single day there is one overlap from the day before and till Will informed me it was a coincidence, I thought that it was intentional and secretive and clever.

Also, Joon, very impressed by the sophisticated anagramming and your being aware of them to begin with AND having them fit into the puzzle, and yes, Caroline improved that 800%!
(ARRIGO BOITO would have resulted in so many WTFs your head would have come loose from spinning)

(My tip off and first answer entered was that I learned the Jim Morrison anagram from this blog just a few months ago)

Got that same tingle when reading Arthur Phillips' second book
"The Egyptologist" (he wrote the amazing book "Prague") and hated the protagonist's name: Ralph Trilipush...till I realized it was an anagram for Arthur himself!

All in all, still kind of thought the sophistication level was a Wednesday, esp bec it's nigh impossible to spell Nabakov correctly (oops! just checked)

Recently there was a Jeopardy! final question and not one of the three spelled it even close to correctly.

@john farmer/joon
Just for the record, ELI STONE is on ABC, not NBC...

bravo again!

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

As a namer, my only complaint about ODIN is that he was not born on a Wednesday!

(Odin aka Wodin aka Wotan = Wednesday)
altho Joon was probably not born in June...his comments come across as a Scorpio with a Mojo Rising.

crackup 3:26 PM  

There's also gravlox for the salmon/dill connection,and the norse-esk themes runing round.

Two Ponies 3:28 PM  

Joon, Thank you for the fascinating run-down on the process. It is great to hear how the "other half" lives.
Caroline was right about the librettist.

jae 3:37 PM  

Marvelous puzzle. Congrats joon and Caroline. Add me to the ROAM and JOHNDOE group. For me this was between a hard Tues. and an easy Wed. EVANS and MEYER are fairly obscure (I'm old enough to remember ESTES) and GOREY I knew, but learned from doing puzzles. Also, ELI STONE would be tough if you didn't follow current TV. In all a delightful and challenging olio of stuff.

miriam b 3:48 PM  

@ andrea carla michaels: If people would pronounce it this (correct) way, the correct spelling would follow.

vlah-DEE-meer nuh-BOE-kof

IIRC, Alex did pronounce it right on Jeopardy!; I believe he's 1/2 Ukrainian, and his Russian pronunciation always sounds OK to me.

Opera lovers would get Boito if the name of his one opera, Mefistofele, were worked into the clue. That's a good opera, with an eerie whistling aria by the title fiend. Of course, the anagram would throw anyone.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

Thank you Joon for your blow by blow explanation of your puzzle process. You confirmed my belief in Will Shortz ... he really does a great job of enhancing the clues.

And I can't go without saying: Sam is a cutie pie!

fergus 4:09 PM  

The Vlad pronunciation guide reminds me of the Police song ... where Sting sings of "that book by Nabokov" with the emphasis on the first syllable.

I learned the correct pronunciation from Czelaw Miloszc (probably spelled incorrectly) in Russian literature class at Berkeley in late 70s. Dropped class, however, since he sounded so incomprehensible, which my friend, who stuck it out, said was due as much to strong drink as it was to strong Polish accent.

Luke 4:36 PM  


Very cool!

"ARCS was the tricky and math-geeky [Chords fit inside them]. TIM was the even geekier [Enchanter from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"]. "

I would have loved both those clues and I'm sure the ARCS answer would have taken me a few seconds.

It's very interesting to see what Will Shortz does to the puzzle + clues.

Doc John 4:49 PM  

A great debut, Joon (and wife)! Thanks for the commentary, too. Very enlightening. Like jubjub I did have a stumble on ALLAN (had the e instead and since I was unfamiliar with Snorri, edde looked just fine to me). I liked the anagram theme and picked it up as soon as I saw Mr. Mojo Risin. I'm not positive but I think I was the one who first mentioned that it was the anagram of Jim Morrison way back when (well, in the scope of this blog, anyway).

Nice to see Tesla in the puzzle and the tie-in to The Prestige. A good movie made even better by giving broader view to the fact that a lot of Edison's "inventions" were, indeed, stolen and that he was a huge bully.

How to get from MARS to LANA you ask? Well, I first learned that Olympus Mons was the largest known volcano in the solar system and that it was on Mars from reading a Superboy comic book (Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes- the issue where Bouncing Boy marries Duo Damsel). And who was Superboy's girlfriend? Lana Lang, of course. OK, I admit it- I'm a huge nerd!

Jeffrey 4:56 PM  

Today in syndicate -land time [July 1] joon wrote:

i recently learned that i'll have a puzzle published in the NYT (yay!), but it's a puzzle i thought would be a thursday and will says it'll run on a tuesday (uh-oh). i've got my fingers crossed, but it's not an obvious theme and the cluing will have to be overhauled pretty seriously for it to be appropriate for a tuesday. i'm already steeling myself against rex ripping me a new one 9-10 months from now.

Looks like you did ok.

doc john - that would have to be after Triplicate Girl lost a life and became Duo Damsel. And wasn't Bouncing Boy thin for awhile?

crosscan - living in the 20th, 21st and 30th centuries

miriam b 4:58 PM  

@fergus: My German lit prof at Barnard (way before the 70s.I must add) was an elderly American gentleman who really knew his stuff. After the first class, all of us were perplexed. We couldn't say for sure whether he'd been speaking English or German. Everyone finally agreed that that class had been conducted in English, and we proceeded to enjoy the course (Lessing, Goethe and Schiller) gradually accustoming ourselves to the prof's indistinct speech. Most subsequent classes, BTW, were taught in German.

Bill from NJ 5:09 PM  

@doc john-

I saw that you mentioned Richard Jordan yesterday as a favorite actor of yours.

He is one of mine ,too, yet he is pretty obscure to be on someones best list. I enjoyed him in Taylor Caldwell's Captains and the Kings and the various heavies he played

Bill D 5:19 PM  

Once had a left-handed professor with a strong Russian accent for a physics course, Electricity and Magnetism. Once a day, while illustrating the Right-Hand-Screw Rule (which tells you which way the current flows from an electrified coil, if memory serves), he would stare incomprehendingly at his hand, knowing it was all wrong. After a few seconds he'd switch hands, saying "Ah, de RIGHT-hand Screw Rule..."

Doc John 5:24 PM  

@ crosscan- yes, Duo Damsel had lost one life (which happened before I started reading S&LSH). In fact, for that issue (#300), she had supposedly lost a second life (making her, what, Mono Miss?) and Bouncing Boy had also lost his power (and gotten slimmer). So they figured, hey, what the heck, let's quit the LSH and get married. Duo Damsel's other persona showed up at the end of the story, though.
Note to self- purge memory banks.

Believe it or not, I've never been to Comic Con!

@bill from nj- I'm sorry to have misled. Although I liked his acting, I didn't say that Richard Jordan was a favorite actor, just that he made a much better Dirk Pitt. I haven't seen enough of his work to classify him as a favorite. I'm going to keep an eye out for The Captains and the Kings, though. He tragically died in 1993 from a brain tumor at age 55.

mac 6:13 PM  

Thanks, Seth, for the great write-up, baby pictures and links - I'll check them out when my husband is out of the room, I suspect they will be noisy.

Thanks Joon and Caroline, I enjoyed your debut puzzle a lot. Did what so many seemed to have done and first filled in John Doe and Allen, but it was easy to fix them. Otherwise no erasures, but I have to admit that I owe a thank-you to Will for changing some of the clues.... I only know Eli Stone from looking at the TV line-up on the internet guide. Vito today seems too much of a coincidence! What a cute boy you have.

I really, really LedOL, Wade, when I read you comment!

@Fergus, thank you so much for your tip, but I think we are running out of time. We are boarding the ship tomorrow afternoon. It's beautiful and warm in Vancouver, but apparently it's in the 50's in Alaska.

Not a lot of food in the puzzle today, and mars bars, malts and dill are not my thing. I'm on vacation, and I'm not cooking!

Leon 6:16 PM  

Fantastic NYT debut Joon and Caroline Pahk.

Great write-up SG.

An old favorite anagram name: "Carolus Lodovicus" = "Lewis Carroll."

Bill from NJ 6:41 PM  

@doc john-

Sorry that I misunderstood about Richard Jordan. I have a weakness for potboilers and that's what Captains and the Kings was: a thinly disquised saga that was loosely (and I do mean loosely) based on the Kennedys. It was a miniseries from the mid 70's and if you have a weakness for glittering trash like I do, it might be worth your while. Otherwise, give it a pass. Sorry that I misunderstood.

Anonymous 6:57 PM  

Pretty easy going, but 12D "All-inclusive" (ATOZ)? Don't get it. Brain freeze from too many malts?

Jeffrey 7:00 PM  

@dpnflorida: A To Z. Enjoy your malt.

Anonymous 7:00 PM  

I'm an idiot. A to Z. Never mind!
Had the same hangup years ago on an answer "randr" which was short for R and R, (military leave).

Ulrich 7:00 PM  

@tintin: I appreciate the thought--thx. The execution may pose problems.

@leon: "Carolus Lodovicus" looks more like a humorous Latin version of "Lewis Carrol" than an anagram.

RodeoToad 7:03 PM  

Whoever gave me that tip about Zatarain's red beans and rice a week or so ago--Mac, Foodie, one of you beet-eaters--changed my life. I'm never going to eat anything else again.

Michael Chibnik 7:32 PM  

This was a wonderful puzzle, especially on a Tuesday which can be a blah puzzle-day. I found it very easy, perhaps because of all the names, but enjoyed the clues (exceptionally good I thought) and answers a lot.

alanrichard 7:45 PM  

So what ever happened to Superman's girlfriend Lana.

Leon 7:58 PM  

01/27/1832: Lewis Carroll is born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Carroll invented his pen name by translating his first two names into the Latin "Carolus Lodovicus" and then anglicizing it into "Lewis Carroll."

Billy Belman 8:24 PM  

Fantastic puzzle -- it took me a while to get the unifying clue, in part because I assumed that it could only be "TWO GENIUSES AND A HACK," which I now recognize is too long for a theme answer. Lizard king, indeed.

Gorey used some great anagrams. My favorite is Mrs. Regera Dowdy, who is credited as translating two books credited to Eduard Blutig.

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

@leon, an anagram is where all of the same letters are switched around. They have to be all the same. So JIM MORRISON has all the same exact letters as MR MOJO RISIN.

miriam b 8:31 PM  

...Mrs. Regera Dowdy, who is credited as translating two books credited to Eduard Blutig...

Wonderful, An anagram AND a bilingual pun worthy of our friend Nabokov!

Billy Belman 8:32 PM  

@miriam b:

What's the pun I'm missing in Eduard Blutig?

Doc John 8:37 PM  

Well, as long as we're doing literary anagrammed names, how about ANNA MADRIGAL?

miriam b 8:41 PM  

@Matt Moses: The works supposedly translated by Mrs. Regera Dowdy were in German. The German adjective "blutig" means "bloody". So, stretching it a little, "bloody" can = "gor(e)y."

Anonymous 10:32 PM  

Congratulations on a fun debut puzzle (by a frequent commenter whose office turns out to be 40-50 yards from mine -- small world), and thanks for yet another fine guest blog!

Tried to solved from Downs only; not quite easy enough for that, but I did get the partial theme answer ANAGRAMMED this way -- so I had to use the Across clues for the other theme entries, but knew what to expect. Good thing I did, since I didn't recognize the third anagram and had to piece it together.

I first encountered the anagram "VIvian Darkbloom" in one of the books of Douglas Hofstadter -- who also anagrammed "Mathematical Games", the title of Martin Gardner's long-running column in Scientific American, to the title of his spinoff column "Metamagical Themas" in the same forum.

Another famous literary anagram: Voltaire = Arouet l.j. (l.j. = le jeune = the younger, with the Latin identifications I=J and U=V).


Leon 10:44 PM  

@ulrich & @Tintin:
Thanks. Brain fade. My bad.

Joon 11:34 PM  

random odds & ends addressed to me:

fergus, it was indeed joon who was lamenting the recent short fiction. and yes, i specifically had nabokov in mind as the last great practitioner of the genre. his collected stories is one of my most treasured books. they're absolutely luminous.

wade, dk--gatsby rocks. as for the haters, all i have to say is: the eyes of doctor t.j. eckelberg are watching you.

orange--you're too kind. to be fair, that birthday puzzle wasn't my first effort. the first puzzle i ever made was indeed irregular in many ways: inconsistent theme, some short theme answers, a smattering of incredibly obscure fill entries... and oh look here, this clue is [Gonorrhea]. i kid you not. anyway, like the man portrayed by john cleese who was turned into a newt, all i can say is: "i got better."

acme: my original TITO clue was also josip broz, not jackson. i don't have a strong preference, but since we had the yugoslav dictator yesterday, will treated us to the other side of the venn diagram today. and yes, apparently ELI/STONE is on ABC. i apparently can't read the clues correctly even in my own puzzle! still, the NBC vibe is pretty strong.

miriam b, thanks for sharing the correct way to pronounce nabokov. i know it (and have no trouble spelling it) but i get lazy when speaking. and BOITO has been in the grid a few times, though not recently. at any rate, i think we can all agree that morrison is a happier choice as the 11-letter partner of mr. gorey.

crosscan: yup, it did turn out okay. (as i said, will did a great job with this one.) i'm still very surprised that it was only six weeks from acceptance to publication. and i'm lucky (?) to have gotten the seth treatment and not the rex treatment--although i think this one would be [right][up] his alley.

NDE: yes, i toyed around with some other anagrams, notable voltaire and francois rabelais = alcofribas nasier. but voltaire is imperfect because of the u/v and i/j switches, and rabelais was unfortunately 16 letters. i'm familiar with metamagical themas, though it didn't occur to me in the context of this puzzle because it's not someone's name. (it's also 16.)

whew, what a day.

fergus 11:54 PM  


I don't want to pester you after a long day, but what do you think of Annie Proulx or Alice Munro? I've read enough of their work to say that they're pretty accomplished practitioners, too.

Joon 10:43 AM  

to be fair, i haven't made an exhaustive survey of contemporary short fiction. my only qualification to make outlandish claims like "there are no good short story authors in the last 50 years" is the fact that i have an anthology called "the best (american?) short fiction" which i read cover to cover... and everything in it after hemingway is crap. or at least, not my cup of tea.

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