Spellbound singer 1991 / THU 2-4-10 / Cousin of boubou / Unboring retailer / Stevenson's misanthrope

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: I don't know … Medium?

THEME: Anagrams — let's let the note explain: "The answers to the combined Across clues are anagrams of each other. The order in which the answers in each pair are to be entered in the grid is for you to discover." So seven seven-letter answers originating on the W side of the grid are followed immediately by their anagrams terminating on the E side of the grid.

Word of the Day: Boubou ([52D: Cousin of a boubou] => CAFTAN)

The Grand Boubou/Bubu is one of the names for a flowing wide sleeved robe worn by men in much of West Africa, and to a lesser extent in North Africa, related to the Dashiki suit. It is known by various names, depending on the ethnic group wearing them: Agbada (Yoruba, Dagomba), Babban Riga (Hausa), K'sa (Tuareg) Grand Boubou (in various Francophone West African countries) and the English term of Gown. The Senegalese Boubou, a variation on the Grand Boubou described below, is also known as the Senegalese kaftan. The female version worn in some communities is also known as a M'boubou or Kaftan. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was easyish once I figured out what the heck was going on, but the figuring out was no mean feat, given that a. the instructions are (perhaps necessarily) convoluted, and b. the instructions were not fully legible in the AcrossLite version (actually, I use Black Ink software, so maybe the AcrossLite experience was different). I had an email alerting me to this legibility issue, which I decided to read only after I opened the .puz file and realized I had no idea what I was dealing with. I think I was stumbling on the word "combined" in the Note for some reason. I thought "combining" was some act I was going to have to perform; instead, it was just a description of how the theme clues were already laid out. Anyway, once I realized it was all a simple anagram trick, the puzzle went down pretty quickly, though I have to say that with all the fiddliness of the Note and the See-this, See-that nature of the theme clues, I kind of lost interest before I'd even really begun. This is a technically interesting and impressive puzzle, but not the most entertaining solve. I do admire the construction, and the overall solidity of the fill.

Theme answers:
  • 1A: With 8-Across, World records? * Natural seasoning (sea salt / atlases)
  • 15A: With 16-Across, Division division * Cut (abridge / brigade)
  • 17A: With 18-Across, Was sorrowful * Separate (grieved / diverge)
  • 41A: With 43-Across, Coagulate * Galley (thicken / kitchen)
  • 67A: With 69-Across, Longtime Penn State head coach * Versatile (protean / Paterno)
  • 71A: With 72-Across, Moderate tempo * Done (andante / at an end)
  • 73A: With 74-Across, Like St. Petersburg in 1914, 1924 and 1991 * Drift (meander / renamed)
After I realized that my time would be kind of meaningless, given all the time I'd wasted trying first to see and then to understand the note, I meandered through the puzzle, filling all the answers rather IDLY — ironic, given that the "D" in IDLY was the last letter to go into the grid, and one that took many seconds of staring at blankness before it would appear. Actually considered an "L" at first. SHED just didn't click for me at 46A: Radiate, as light. Weird. PLEBS looks wrong (25A: Common people), though I'm sure it's not. I want it to be PLEBES, but I think PLEBES have a military significance. Two different words. I (yet again) misspelled the Puppet Master SARG (had SERG) and figured that with Rome involved, maybe 2D: River that was the ancient dividing line between Rome and Carthage was the ARNO. And the "O" was right! But the rest was not: EBRO!

  • 48A: Stevenson's misanthrope (Hyde) — Mr. HYDE. An important work, if only because it served as the basis for this:
  • 51A: Tailor's chalk, typically (talc) — if you say so. I figured it was just ... chalk.
  • 8D: "Spellbound" singer, 1991 (Abdul) — as in Paula. Replaced on this season of "American Idol" by Ellen DeGeneres. Here's some vintage, epic, loony, theatrical, vintage (early 90s) Paula — in concert! She stole Madonna's Blonde Ambition hair. There are men on stilts. I ... don't know what else to say ...
  • 33D: Antiknock additive (ethyl) — I always have to guess at chemicals. I've seen "ETH-" before, and "-YL," and ETHYL sounds like something, so sure, why not?
  • 39D: Unböring retailer (Ikea) — between the umlaut and the "retailer" and the four-letter length, this was a gimme.
  • 50D: Vintner's asset (palate) — wanted NOSE or something like it.
  • 58D: Hormel canned it in 1937; Congress in 2003 (S/spam) — the first is meat and the second is unwanted email, right? So ... I don't like the clue, if only for grammatical reasons: the referent for "it" should be constant. I mean, it's cute(sy), and I get it, but yuck.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. here, for your enjoyment, is (quite possibly) the APEX of (bad) political advertising:

Here's what I wrote to a friend who asked (IDLY) about this ad, "WTF?"
Just saw this a couple minutes ago. So ... the people of CA are ... sheep? And Tom Campbell ... well, let's see. He used to be a sheep, but then he got caught on one of those meadow pedestals and when he fell back to earth he was a guy, but he still wanted to have sex with sheep, I think, so he made this vaguely sheep-like costume but forgot that sheep don't have glowing red eyes unless they are really drunk or possessed by demons, so Carly whoever, who won't show her face because staring at it would be like staring at the face of God — awesome but blinding —she noticed Tom "Fake Sheep" Campbell and is now telling the other sheep all about it. I could be wrong.


SethG 12:38 AM  

Zeugma! I guess it's technically syllepsis, and the grammaticians will be mad at me later, but I like saying zeugma. I liked the Hormel/Congress clue.

I always picture JoePa in his whale pants. He was the first theme answer I got, and overall I was amazed MG was able to put together a fun, creative wordplay theme with no thematic compromises.

Tuareg is a people? Who knew...

lit.doc 12:51 AM  

This was one of the more astonishing CW devices I’ve yet encountered in my young [cue laughter] crossword life. Not a contender to unseat Peter Gordon, of course (if you don’t already subscribe, you really should), but reeally clever. Finished—googling—in 69:54. Yeah, baby, the clock was still green! Woulda been some faster were my buddy Jameson not helping, but not, I think, by much. Wow.

Ended up having to work S to N, though whether due to the crosses or to my particular knowledge set I’ve no notion. First theme answer I got was ANDANTE/AT AN END, followed (kinda) quickly by MEANDER/RENAMED and PROTEAN/PATERNO, followed gradually by THICKEN/KITCHEN at the equator, and, eventually, the top three. Very cool.

And no cavils along the way about the fill. Hat off to Matt Ginsberg. N.B. AcrossLite solvers: me too what Rex said about the online legibility problem, so I just printed the puzz.

chefwen 12:52 AM  

Wow, that was one weird campaign ad!

It took me a long time to get a toe hold but I finally did with SEA SALT. After getting a lot of the little fill to try to pull it together, I was then off and running. Finished with only one and a half glasses of wine consumed. Pretty good for a Thursday.

19A SOAVE = blech!

43A = Where I live!

Messed up by putting peons in before PLEBS and hoist before WEIGH, but both easily fixed.

Off to watch crazy people on AI.

retired_chemist 12:52 AM  

@ rex - my AL note was fine. And necessary. Without the directions I would have floundered for a loooong time.

Liked it very much, but then I enjoy anagrams. Stacking three anagramable clues, having the anagrams also stack successfully, and doing it twice - wow. My hat is off to Mr. Ginsberg.

Considering this tour de force, it is nothing short of amazing to me that the short fill is so good. OK, some is crosswordese (e.g. EBRO, ARIA), but in those cases the clues are fresh.

Hand up for FISH BAIT @ 10D, ABS @ 22A, TEPEE @ 45A, DIETS @ 57D.

Small whine about ETHYL (33D) - it ain't a stable substance but a radical. The term is short for the compound tetraethyllead, which is (was) the actual additive. But ETHYL is common shorthand so it;s gettable. More so than the real additive, I wager.

Thanks and huge props to Matt. Gotta finish before my way cool CAPTCHA (unhip) turns over.

lit.doc 1:07 AM  

@SethG, damn your erudition. I had so hoped to go to bed after posting. But can’t resist. My take is that, re zeugma v. syllepsis, the situation is much like metonymy v. synecdoche. The difference is more notional than actual. Most of what we call figures of speech are, in classical rhetoric, called figures of invention—terms to aid an orator in extemporizing—not terms of analysis.

Enjoyed your post. Good excuse to not go to bed. Quite yet.

Elaine 6:23 AM  

Is it safe to come out?

Failing to get any traction at the top, I started with Downs in the South...then saw the clue (bless that Penn State hubby o' mine) and PATERNO, ANDANTE, MEANDER, and their anagrams fell in a TRICE. Hesitated too long, distrusting my first thoughts (SOAVE, HOGAN, SCHLEP, KITCHEN) ...but then was overconfident with FISHBAIT, ASH, and SAUCY.

Have to take a semi-Fail--I Googled "Spellbound"--popular music is Not My Area. (If you are a rock band fan, take the quiz @The Life and Times of Michael5000; I knew one, count it, ONE, answer.)

Nice puzzle! Thanks be for the relatively merciful cluing.

Unknown 7:26 AM  

I have to say that the construction of the puzzle is amazing. It is not easy to stack a bunch of 7-letter words together that have anagram pairs facing across from each other AND fit reasonably well with the crossing down answers. That said, some of the cluing really threw me off and confused me. How does "Boom" mean SPAR? I'm also never heard of TRICES, CAFTAN, or PLENA.

As for that political ad.....not really much to say. It's a fail on every level -- except the hilarity scale. I have to think Carly Fiorina's handlers were on serious amounts of acid to have approved that video.

Elaine 7:44 AM  

I had never heard of "America's Puppet Master"...and just Googled SARG. Who knew? Weird tie-in: I just read A.S. Byatt's _The Children's Book_, which involves German puppetry (among many other things.)

Thanks for "zeugma"--my new word! Only knew "syllepsis."
For an interesting Tuareg view, Google Hollis Chatelaine and view her quilt...


Think of sailing ships-- a SPAR (noun, not verb) could be called a boom.
"In a trice"--quickly; (I've never seen it as a plural, but have to believe Will Shortz looked it up.)

Think "Plenary session" at a conference....

And CAFTAN ...Lounge wear that might be associated with, "I'm going to slip into something more comfortable"...or just a lazy weekend morning. Not a new thing, but perhaps you had another name for it?

Unknown 8:28 AM  

Initially I groaned when I saw all the 'with this/see that' clues but then realized they were right beside each other, read the note, and started a very pleasurable solve.

Had the peons/plebs misstep, and pale for tailor's chalk before fixing it to talc.

Lots of good words, and my favourite clue was possibly 'passed out on the table' for dealt. Great puzzle.

joho 8:40 AM  

Before you open your MAW or YAP or prepare your PALATE, carefully THICKEN and season that SAUCE simmering in the KITCHEN. Do not SCALD before pouring through the SIEVE. It only takes a SEC to spoil the meal. Too much SEASALT or SOAVE can be disastrous. If you burn, people might be LED to FLOAT bits of SPAM in the broth as a diversion. So, be sure not ERR, WEIGH carefully your ingredients so AT THE END of your efforts all will SAYEST, "Yum" and will not be GRIEVED. You'll know true success when your eaters are only comfortable in CAFTANs and are forced to go off to the GYM to get TONED and SHED a few pounds.

Loved the puzzle, thanks, Matt!

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

When I Googled "America's Puppet Master," the second entry on the list was CHENEY.

Steve R 8:59 AM  

It was an amazing feat of construction in that Mr. Ginsberg managed to the combine two puzzle constructs I most abhor, cross referenced clues and anagrams, into a pleasurable solving experience.

We saw SARG here within the past week, no? I've had a long held believe that Mr. Shortz feeds us answers/clues gracefully, SARG clearly defined with obvoius crosses early in the week, a little less so later next week. Any idea if there is anything to this, or is this just words popping up randomly?

I've read/heard PROTEAN probably thousands of times in my life and from context I always thought it was synonomous with great/powerful, not varied.

hationl 9:00 AM  

@Anon 8:53 CHENEY was clearly the only correct answer for 12D. Except for the whole not fitting aspect of it.

fikink 9:05 AM  

Thanks for the Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive, Rex. And, just as @Steve J mentioned when we were discussing your EMU - MAC wordplay a while back, Australia is referred to as Oz in the credits.
Also, the FCINO ad is killer! Koyaanisqatsi and Philip Glass come to mind in all manner of disturbances.

The puzzle was enjoyable for me, although I can understand how it might be problematic to a speed-solver. I think I usually like what Matt Ginsberg puts out.

@R_C, you said it best re: the anagram feat.
@lit.doc and SethG, you have put a whole lotta googling ahead of me tonight.
@anon 8:53, LOL

jesser 9:09 AM  

Can I get an Amen for the downs? Yes, I thought so.
I never did see the note, so this was sloggy for me, and the downs pulled me through. Spelling ETHeL incorrectly was a blunder that I didn't see until I came here, and I subsequently said "Doh!"
It probably speaks volumes to my recent past personal history that the first answer I wanted for 10D was ATTORNEY. It even fit! But LIVEBAIT eventually prevailed, much to my dismay.
Loved being reminded of Art Linkletter in the clue to 47D. Yes, kids do say the darndest things!
Anyway, I finally figured out the word jumble pattern, but it bugged me that the order in which the clues were given was reversed in relation to the answers, which seemed a tad too misdirectional.
I'm agreeing with everyone about the construction, however. The Wow Factor is high, while the Fill Suckage Factor is quite low. OOXTEPLERNON got the day off.
And now, work beckons, so I am ATANEND. Peace in Rexville!

Unknown 9:16 AM  

The "Carly" of the sheep ad is none other than Fiorina, once CEO of Hewlett-Packard. We last heard from Ms. Fiorina during the '08 campaign when she said of McCain, "I don't think John McCain could run a major corporation."
Why is this noteworthy (other than being true)? At the time of her statement to MSNBC, she was working as a McCain campaign advisor...

Ulrich 9:33 AM  

I agree wholeheartedly with the praise heaped upon the constructor. And for once, I did not mind a note (although it could have been formulated more elegantly). It could have been avoided by saying, e.g, , at 1A "Natural seasoning or anagram of 8A", but this would have had to be repeated 13 times--so, yes, putting it all into a note upfront makes sense.

@SethG: Tuareg, the blue men of the desert, feared or romanticised depending on whether you were on a caravan trying to get through their territory or a European "desert lover". In dire straits now since their territory was divided up and fell to countries to the south whose inhabitants THEY used to terrorize.

treedweller 9:34 AM  

I was impressed, but defeated by this one. SARG was unknown, peons blocked my view of ABDUL and BAIT, and so I never quite got ATLASES (even knowing it was an anagram--ouch!). But the one google for the singer (Solidarity, Elaine!) got me through it.

That ad may be, as you say, a low point in political ads, but I predict we have not begun to plumb the depths that will be discovered now that corporations can spend freely.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:36 AM  

Holy God, did I like this puzzle. Hard and inventive. Wow. A+.

So you embed the Men At Work video, yet the vastly superior Pulp only gets a photo? What gives?

hazel 9:57 AM  

A grid full of awesomeness!!

I play against the clock and the instructions were clear as a bell - sending me to the downs first (like @jesser). Made it a relatively easy solve, but still a very engaging one - at least partly because I like that feeling of being awed while I'm solving - and I was just shaking my head the whole time. What a fun puzzle! What a feat!!

Unknown 10:01 AM  

@Anon and hationl
Though it was Cheney who sent Bill Kristol (see list on right: Rex Parker's "New Best Friend") up to Alaska to interview Mrs. Palin more than a year before the gift that keeps on giving was presented, I doubted you until I googled the puppet master clue.
And it was Cheney who has given us Scott Brown, who is going to be a real blast. Cheney: 'Let's see: I gotta find a decent looking guy, with family, who's corn pone and can speak Tea Bag...'
Turns out, there is a god and it's called Google.

mitchs 10:02 AM  

Rex, I think your pre-solving tedium colored your take on this one. I absolutely loved it and thought it was entertaining and irritating all the way through. I didn't get the solving note...maybe that's what made it all the more pleasurable. PATERNO led the way to discovering the key. Up until that point, the top was nearly blank. Great stuff, Matt!

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

My very first entry was SNARK for "cheek" but eventually overcame this diversion. The NW offered not one, but two, opportunities for me to misplace an E before an I, but this pair of errors was mutually correctable. Clearly, the answer for "be human" was all too correct.

retired_chemist 10:13 AM  

Slowed down some by putting the gimme PATERNO on the left. Wasn't working, but it HAD to work. So I reread the note, et voilà!

Zeugma and Syllepsis were a vaudeville act, right?

PlantieBea 10:14 AM  

I solved the puzzle printed from AL. Didn't like the note, but I'm so glad it was there so I could appreciate the construction of this amazing puzzle. Wow, kudos Matt Ginsberg!

My last entry was the Y in the SAYEST/SYNCH crossing. I balked at entering the slangy ETHYL for the lead additive, too. Had to right the GYM entry for the Joe's ABS.

Super puzzle, Matt Ginsberg.

Awful, confusing ad, but funny redux, Rex.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:15 AM  

Medium, sure - for a Saturday.

Amazing, excellent puzzle!

Just one write-over, put in SAYETH before SAYEST.

Now I must google to find out what the heck SARG/Puppet Master is all about!

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

rex, rex, rex, you're gonna hurt some folks' feelings with your comment on the political ad. somebody worked long and hard to come up with that. my own more and more fervent wish is for a new level of hell to be built for all creators of political ads. failing that, relegating them all to youtube only would accomplish the same thing.

as for the puzzle, it didn't register much one way or another for me except that I hate the "world records - atlases" cluing -- even with that damned question mark. there's cute and there's whatever this clue is.

mitchs 10:15 AM  

BTW, can someone help out a relative newbie to this lively, but at times inscrutable, blog? CAPTCHA? No idea what that means and can't glean from the context. Four and out? Four post maximum, maybe? Thanks, and sorry to interrupt all the well deserved praise for this litle beauty from Matt.

retired_chemist 10:21 AM  

@mitchs - just Google CAPTCHA wikipedia. It's there.

Van55 10:21 AM  

What's not to admire? I agree with BEQ. Masterfully done, inventive, and almost entirely fresh. A+ from me as well.

Jeffrey 10:33 AM  

Ah, a puzzle that requires me to scribble on the side.

KITCHEN crossing IKEA and SWEDE.

How can there be boubou without Yogi? I guess the BABE met the Yankee quota. And to quota Yogi, it ain't over until its over. And its over. A+

Jeffrey 10:34 AM  

And before someone says I should have written it's: I used puzzle spelling.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

What a great puzzle. Got the left side very easily. Had trouble with the right. Never heard of paterno.

Had sayeth also which didn't help

Didn't we have a lesson recently about Sarg??? Or was that the LAT?

Blog not letting me in again

Its me Chefbea the beet

chefbea 10:44 AM  

I'll try again

it works now

dk 10:46 AM  

Used to walk by TEDS house on my way to Claremont while SCHLEPing student papers, my research, etc.

I just don't like anagram puzzles. The downs (e.g., LIVEBAIT) saved this one for me. Made the peon error and misspelled SOAVE (u4o), all of which made the solving experience not so great.

Here we have an example of a fine puzzle that is wasted on this solver. File this one under pearls before swine: pour moi.

*** (3 Stars) in spite of me

slypett 10:47 AM  

MG must have slaved away at this for days, and all he gets is voluminous praise? Shame on us all!

Dough 10:50 AM  

I didn't see the note, so, seeing all those asterisks and what have you, I decided to just ignore the acrosses and work on the downs. The NE came together and I saw ATLASES and BRIGADE forming. I considered anagrams as a possibility and then everything fell into place. By the end, I was confused that the order of clues for the anagram entries was not consistent, so I'm glad I came here to discover that it was "part of the game." It's an impressive construction and lots of nice words and clues (I especially liked the IKEA umlaut! Nicely döne!) Tony SARG used to be very common in puzzles, but has fallen from favor of late. It was nice to see him again.

Two Ponies 10:57 AM  

Awesome puzzle.
I cannot believe I solved it relatively quickly considering there were so many unknowns (for me).
I still don't understand 58D.
Anagrams are not my strong suit so I was forced to write in the margins and cross off letters and fill in blanks as answers revealed themselves.
Lots of fun.
Hand up for thinking Cheney.
Didn't we just have hogan?
@ mitchs It has become a self-imposed courtesy here to limit one's posts to three a day.

Chorister 10:58 AM  

Seriously, I thought the SPAM clue meant that the Senate banned it from the cafeteria. I did. I thought somebody had been slipping it in the famous Bean Soup or something.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

I don't like anagrams, but I had a ball doing this puzzle.

I had to use a lot of downs to get some traction on the theme answers, and had more problems in NE than anywhere else.

@r_c I wrote down abs first too. (sigh)

MsCarrera 11:13 AM  

I get the idea that when someone wants to refer to someone's previous comment/question, one prefaces the name with @. Does that somehow trigger an automatic alert to that person? It seems to me that one must still peruse the whole comment section to determine if someone has made reference to another's comment, unless it is because I don't have a Google account. Please advise - thanks.

Ulrich 11:24 AM  

@McCarrera: I think the @ is just a convention that helps visual scanning and distinguishes general remarks from those addressed to a specific person.

However, I want to point out that in any browser that has a "find" command (probably accessible from the "Edit" menu), that command can be used to check if something has been mentioned so far in a comments section. For example, I use it to check if someone has addressed me when I don't have the time or patience to search through 50+ comments to find my name, or to check if someone has already commented on "Tuareg", say.

Stan 11:24 AM  

As usual, I was disappointed that SWEDE was not clued "Rutabaga, abroad" -- but otherwise completely enjoyable and just challenging enough. Big congratulations to Matt on this one.

I think Daphne Zeugma was on 'Melrose Place'.

chefbea 11:31 AM  

@two ponies I think it was yurt we had a week or so ago. Now Im mixed up. I thought they were the same. I'll have to google

OldCarFudd 11:35 AM  

Zeugma and syllepsis? This ol' math major woke up in the wrong blog!

I started the puzzle without realizing there was a note (no duh!) and got all bollixed up. Then I noticed the note, and the going got easy . But what a fantastic bit of construction! WOW!

Unknown 11:35 AM  

@mitchs and others confused by some of the terms here...
In order to get an avatar and to see the world in blue and orange, you have to create a blogger id. The link is in the section below where you write your comments. It is a right of passage that is a true mental challenge and fickle enough that you have to repeat the process on occasion. The captcha is the password you have to enter to get your post accepted and is designed to prevent certain types of spam posting, but it does not prevent trolls.

There is some Rex etiquette required to participate. You should not post more than three times a day unless provoked by glitch. You should not mention clues/answers to other puzzles unless we argued/over analyzed/ revolted about it here the day before. You should not sign your post anonymous unless you hate Rex and all he stands for. Accept that Andrea "something" Michaels is always the same person and is funnier than we let on. Certain nonsense terms were developed to describe common solving experiences and most of them are explained in the side bar to the right of the daily post. Despite being a common experience, the terms are often misused and therefore are often discussed which clarifies nothing, so avoid that trap. None of us use our real names, but we are better known by this community than most of our neighbors.

Rex accepts donations and even though he is in one of the most underpaid professions, he has found a side line that is even less rewarding.


J Carville 11:39 AM  

I don't know what your problem was with that ad. Rule #1 in political advertizing is to always, always, identify your intended audience as a flock of mindless sheep.
Surprisingly, they don't seem to mind - they always think you're talking about the other guy. Dumb bastards!

anonymous 8:53 again 11:46 AM  

We had a clue about Navajo abodes/HOGAN just last week, I think, and IGLU earlier still. A lot of people seemed not to know HOGAN. At first I held off, as 'lodge' was also possible, or 'tepee' if the O was wrong. I think wikiup should show up soon, followed by kiva and pueblo (although a kiva is not a dwelling so much as a ceremonial space.)

A HOGAN is definitely not a yurt; wrong continent.

'canned' has two meanings-- put up in a tin/fired or thrown out; clever, no?

edith b 11:49 AM  

Did this one in a very work-man-like fashion and built from the SW corner up.

No problems with the vocabulary as I knew Tony SARG thru Bill Baird.

Once I puzzled out the gimmick, I had no further problems aside from the fact that I am not good at anagrams. Loved TRICEs, though.

ArtLvr 11:50 AM  

@ chefbea, welcome back! When you get tired of signing up for blue blogger reinstatement, you can type in your Name and avoid anonymity: it comes out in black. Or copy your comment and go sign in again, pasting in your saved comment afterward.

Me too, I didn't see the Note before starting the puzzle, just left the top blank until I got to ERR, then did it all mostly from downs until anagrams emerged. Very tricky, especially the Link letters HTTP. Loved it!

@ joho, Excellent recap with all the linked words and would add SAGS to be TONED away at a GYM.

@ v., Props on noting foot-in-the-mouth Fiorina whose career from CEO to McCain advisor to FCINO coiner hit an APEX for fact being stranger than fiction. She takes the cake for the HYDE (or brains) THICKENed after exit from the KITCHEN's heat.


imsdave 12:04 PM  

Not much to add to the thread today - you have all spoken for me. But I felt the need to drop in, just to express how much I liked this puzzle. I'm about as good at anagrams as I am at spelling, but that did not detract one whit from my solving experience.

Kudos to Mr. Ginsberg and Mr. Shortz.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

These puzzles should properly be done in an actual newspaper - so no sympathy to those of you whose pdf files wont open, etc.

MsCarrera 12:20 PM  

@Ulrich & @PhillySolver - Thanks to you both for your responses.
@Ulrich - Even though PhillySolver says that none of you use your real names, is there any chance you are related to brothers Richard & Roger Ulrich from Utica, NY?

Shamik 12:33 PM  

@PhillySolver: You mean that isn't your real name? LOL

I only saw half the note on my AL screen and could have seen more if I moved Matt's name out of the way. Seeing Matt's name gives me goose bumps because he has a way of constructing puzzles so that 70% of the time I get at least 1 square wrong. But this one I solved! Woohoooo!!!! And it felt like a slog and my time came out challenging for me for a Thursday. And yet I come here and find that others found it a slower go.

Off topic...anyone who knows anything about matrix math, I need help with a puzzle to find a geocache. Please e-mail me at shamik1954@yahoo.com. Thanks!

Glitch 12:42 PM  


[uncloaking] We are not amused [cloaking]


Shamik 12:47 PM  

My bad. I have a 50% solve rate with Matt Gaffney, not Matt Ginsberg. That's more of an 80% solve rate. See why I need help with math?

V. 12:48 PM  

<<...I kind of lost interest before I'd even really begun.>>

Yeah, me too. Hated it.

Blanche 12:59 PM  

Nice, easy puzzle for this anagram lover. Nice, easy week. . .so far.

mitchs 1:00 PM  

Just testing. Thanks, Phillysolver.

lit.doc 1:01 PM  


[dropping trou] But we are [undropping]

Thanks, @PhillySolver, your comments were as informative as funny. :)

Ulrich 1:03 PM  

@phillysolver: I WAS amused!

@MsPorsche: No, my full name is Ulrich Flemming--Ulrich as in Lars Ulrich, drummer with Metallica, and Flemming as in Flemming Rasmussen, producer for Metallica, which assures that I share a lot of space with said band on search pages...

MikeM 1:14 PM  

@mitchs - I agree, thank God for Joe Paterno. I stared at this puzzle a good five minutes and had 95% unfilled until Joe P got me started. Loved this puzzle, Matt G. It amazes me how you were able to stack all these anagrams. Finished errorfree and googlefree; my overwrites were BLISS for BLIPS and IDLE for IDLY.

Stan 1:27 PM  

@Ulrich: Your last comment was priceless. There's a Venn diagram in there somewhere.

andrea renamed michaels 1:28 PM  

Loved this!!!!!!!!
I had to think for EVERY single definition...and of course as a Scrabble pplayer I love anagrams!

It would have helped if I had read the note ALL THE WAY THROUGH!
So I got ATLASES/SEASALT within two seconds...but did not put them in the right order!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So two seconds to be off and running, 30 minutes or more to solve bec I also had MEANDER/RENAMED in the wrong order.

And I LOVED the SPAM clue...
SPAM, AMPS, MAPS, PAMS, SAMP all good in Scrabble by the way!

awww, Thanks!
Today I will not be amusing, just praiseworthy for Matt/Will!

MsCarrera 1:36 PM  

@Ulrich - Very astute of you re MsPorsche. Most think Miss Carrera is my name.

melissa 1:52 PM  

wow, definitely was NOT a fan of this puzzle-- why the heck is everyone so bonkers over it?

and am i the only one who took issue with the order of the themed clues versus the answers? eg. "1/8 world records - seasoning" to me means, left to right, "atlases" & "seasalt," not vice versa.

archaeoprof 2:07 PM  

Another hand up here in appreciation for this remarkable feat of construction. At first I found it off-putting, but the more I worked the more I admired it.

Is it true that crosswords help prevent Alzheimer's? If so, this puzzle must be a double dose!

PS: for some reason 51A made me think of that episode of "Friends" when Chandler goes to Joey's tailor.

Matt Ginsberg 2:15 PM  

People seem (mostly) happy with this, which makes me happy as well. For those of you who didn't like it, I'm sorry!

I posted a long note about how I constructed the puzzle at the wordplay blog, if folks are interested. (Short version is that I tricked crossword compiler into helping me.)

Thanks for all the feedback! See many of you later this month in Brooklyn, I hope --

CoolPapaD 2:17 PM  

Loved this - lots. Anagrams are usually so frustrating for me, mainly because I generally suck at them (those Jumble things in the paper - ugh), and because I KNOW that the letters are right there, mocking me, taunting me...

I had so many write overs (MOAB, FISHBAIT...) that I nearly had to reprint another AL puzzle. In the end, I won, but it was hard-fought.

Loved the way AD HOC was clued.

Like others, I am off to Google this SARG fellow....

adverbialist 2:21 PM  

loved it! but am very fond of anagrams....and I love clues like 5D. they always trip me up!
impressive construction.

mac 2:34 PM  

I loved this puzzle. Never saw the Note, but I figured it out with "thicken" and "kitchen". Before that I thought the two words might not be completely in one 7-letter space. Hogan and Sarg were gimme's because of other puzzles in the last couple of weeks. Love the word meander. Weigh for the anchor, palate and caftan are nice, too!

@PhillySolver: great comment!

retired_chemist 2:54 PM  

@ melissa - see the note. It says the order in which the answers in each pair are to be entered in the grid is yours to discover. That was part of the theme - get one, you get the 7 letters of the other, but you have to use crosses to place them.

Jim in Chicago 3:16 PM  

I liked this puzzle. I also had the entire bottom finished and not a thing on the top and finally had to work through it letter by letter over lunch with a friend. Had to double-check SARG since he is a total unknown.

Does anybody have a clever answer for why "unboring" was used in the clue for IKEA? I got the answer immediately, but is there something very clever about the use of unboring, in particular, that I'm missing? Was IKEA founded by a Mr. Unbor? was the first store located in Unbor Sweden? Or is this just a case of "I'll take a random word, put an umlaut over the o and call it done?"

Jim in Chicago 3:18 PM  

Just googled "Ikea unboring" and discovered that it was an entire ad campaing launched in 2003. Guess it had no effect on me!!

Lars Unbor 3:18 PM  

@Jim in Chicago - Apparently Ikea had an ad campaign based on that phrase.

sanfranman59 3:24 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Thu 24:01, 19:39, 1.22, 92%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 11:16, 9:26, 1.19, 89%, Challenging

Based on the online solve times, this one slots as a Challenging Thursday/Easy-Medium Friday. Medium Rex? Really?

Howard B 3:28 PM  

@Andrea: Very Scrabbly, I agree. Once I understood what the heck was going on, it grew on me. Like five o' clock shadow, only less stubbly and more fun.
Speaking of anagrams, Andrea Michaels, as charmed alien? scam a headliner? I'm not very good at this. I'll leave it to you Scrabble professionals.

Thanks for the challenge, Matt.

Bob Kerfuffle 4:01 PM  

@archaeoprof -- If only crosswords helped prevent Alzheimer's!

My only connection to medicine is as a consumer thereof, but from what I read in the papers, only physical exercise helps to keep the mind functioning. It's certainly counterintuitive, and it means I am doomed. Maybe if we did crosswords while on a stationary bicycle . . . Nah.

Scarlet-O 4:56 PM  

This puzzle made me cry.

MEDIUM??? I wouldn't want to run into a challenge.

I turned off the clock after about a minute of fruitless labor. I loaded up google thirty seconds after that.

tekchic 5:00 PM  

I'm a Thursday dropout usually, but this one kept me intrigued until I made it to the end. LOVED the anagram and "where does it go" part. Great puzzle! I stayed up way too late working it on my iPhone last night before finally finishing it (thanks Google) later this afternoon.

Steve J 5:00 PM  

Oy. I did something I don't recall doing on a Thursday in ages: I threw in the towel. I just could not get going beyond about 50% of the fill.

Reason 1: I suck with anagrams. I suspected I was in trouble as soon as I read the note about anagrams. I was right.

Reason 2: The note was indeed convoluted, and I misread that the order of the answers was not defined by the clues (I thought it referred to the letters, which in hindsight would have been redundant).

So, I had much of the middle completed and a good amount of the SW. Or so I thought. I had PATERNO on top of ANDANTE, and absolutely none of the downs (other than SPAM) were working. I couldn't figure out what was going on there, I could make no headway up to, so I finally came over here to figure out what was going on. The ordering became clearer, but now I knew what the answers were, which kind of spoils the fun of continuing with the puzzle.

Excellent feat of construction, even if it flew right by me.

Captcha is oddly appropriate, given my experience with today's puzzle: "fumed".

Steve J 5:03 PM  

Forgot to mention: Rex, the anti-spam legislation referenced in 58D was formally called the CAN-SPAM Act (which stood for "Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing"). So the use of "canned" is cross-referential. Personally, I loved the clue.

Clark 5:13 PM  

Beautiful puzzle.

@SethG -- Thanks for ‘zeugma’ and ‘syllepsis’. I am going to learn them, which will up my geek quotient considerably -- and that’s saying something!

Thanks @PhillySolver for laying out what’s what.

Moonchild 5:33 PM  

Whew! I cannot believe I wrestled this one down! I'm so pleased.
I do not know what SethG is talking about. How strange that I got through the puzzle without Googling but now I need it to decode the comments!
That is one messed up political ad.
Creeped me out.
I take it that the Matt I read above was Matt Ginsberg? Very cool.

Matt Ginsberg 5:38 PM  

@Moonchild: Yes, it is I! -- Matt Ginsberg

Zeugma 5:42 PM  

A captcha that is an anagram for DEMEROL! Neat!...except for the part where "deremol" does not make a real word, that is.

But some of us ARE using real names (like Bea)...do you think that is a mistake??

@Jim in Chicago
The umlaut over the O in 'Unboring' (which I can't reproduce here) might have reminded some solvers of the city Malmo (imagine an umlaut over that O, as well) which is Swedish...and how many Swedish retailers could there be in common NYT knowledge? Thin, but gettable

SethG 6:02 PM  

Clark, you appear to be saying that having known these before already made me geekish. You're probably right. OldCarFudd, I was a math major.

If the clue had said "[...Congress didn't in 2003], the answer would have been PORK. I've been to Hormel, I think not to Congress.

That's okay, Moonchild. Turns out, most people in real life often don't know what I'm talking about, either.

chefbea 6:17 PM  

@phillysolver My real name is not Bea. My name starts with a B and a long time ago my friends started calling me Bee. When I got my first computer and needed an address I tried Chefbee but it was taken so I spelled it Bea. Of course we all know that Beet starts with a B as well. Maybe I should change my blog name to chefbeet!!!

AV 6:36 PM  

Another wonderful construction - great job, Matt!

Stan 7:01 PM  

Further developments in the demon sheep adwars: here.

Stan 7:11 PM  

The previous post in no way implies an endorsement by @Stan or his affiliates.

Oops, 4 and out.

Leon 7:45 PM  

Since the Captcha is now ASHOO,
God bless you !

mac 8:08 PM  

@Stan: but how about your avatar?

That sheep ad is unreal. How stupid do they think the voters are?

fikink 8:50 PM  

@mac, very.

dittryri 9:10 PM  

I brought my hubby in to view the sheep/Campbell ad, and now he is avoiding eye contact...should I be worried? Is the glowing red-eye bit normal? He keeps trying to offer me tea bags.

If I don't post tomorrow please send a

Shuddering 9:52 PM  

@Anonymous 12:05pm:

"These puzzles should properly be done in an actual newspaper - so no sympathy to those of you whose pdf files wont open, etc."

Who would not only feel that way, but actually post that? No wonder you posted it anonymously. Get a life, you misanthrope.

p.s. Yes, I too am posting anonymously, but just to spare us both further embarrassment. I'm sure I won't change your lousy attitude, just registering my disgust.

michael 10:08 PM  

I'm glad that I solve on paper and like anagrams. Never heard of sarg, but easier for me than for most of you (not all that common an event!)

lit.doc 10:19 PM  

@SethG, you say "geekish" like it's a baaad thing. I embrace my manifold geekhood. Life is good.

@chefbea, how 'bout maybe ChiefBee?

@dittryri, LOFL!

sanfranman59 10:27 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 7:39, 6:56, 1.10, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:25, 8:44, 0.96, 46%, Medium
Wed 10:51, 11:58, 0.91, 27%, Easy-Medium
Thu 24:51, 19:40, 1.26, 94%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:54, 3:41, 1.06, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:18, 4:28, 0.96, 45%, Medium
Wed 5:10, 5:53, 0.88, 18%, Easy
Thu 11:08, 9:26, 1.18, 87%, Challenging

Ben 11:43 PM  

@Steve R, I believe the word "protean" is a reference to Proteus, a sea god from mythology who was a shapeshifter. Thus "protean" refers to something showing variety or many forms. (I did not google, going from memory from HS or college 20 years ago.)

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

Late post, but surely I was not the only one who saw "Spellbound" singer with 5 letters and thought Siouxsie Sioux?

Singer 2:03 PM  

From the time warp of syndication:

I really liked this puzzle, but I also like anagrams and the Word Jumble.

I solved in about normal, maybe less than normal Thursday time. The note about the anagrams was quite clear IMHO. I solved the puzzle by doing as many downs as possible on one side of each anagram stack, then solving the acrosses from the partials, then determined the anagrams that went on the other side.

Knew most of the downs, although SARG was unknown to me. Only write over was tepee for HOGAN. I did have PLEBE at first, and wondered what kind of word eynch was for about 30 seconds.

PROTEAN was difficult - I got PATERNO immediately, but still needed most of the downs on the SW to get PROTEAN.

Waxy in Montreal 5:03 PM  

Even though SARG, SOAVE, ANDANTE and PROTEAN (as versatile) were complete unknowns to me, if there's a Hall of Fame or Oscar for crossword puzzles, I nominate this brilliant creation. Well done Mr. Ginsberg! And thank you. The blogger who suggested this was a double-dollop of Alzheimer's prevention therapy was bang-on IMHO.

Anonymous 7:33 PM  

i would rather have seen a reference to "a puerto rican musical genre" for plena

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