Noted Finnish chair designer / THU 11-18-10 / Dressing tool / Hypothetical fundamental particle / 1990 autobiography subtitled Baseball Wall Me

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: QUADRUPLE PANGRAM (43A: What this puzzle is, orthographically)— grid contains four of every letter of the alphabet

Word of the Day: KAMA (CLUE) —

Kāmadeva (Sanskrit: कामदेव) is the Hindu deity of human love or desire. Other names for him include; Ragavrinta (stalk of passion), Ananga (incorporeal), Kandarpa ("inflamer even of a god"), Manmatha (churner of hearts), Manasija (he who is born of mind, a contraction of the Sanskrit phrase Sah Manasah jāta), Madana (intoxicating), Ratikānta (lord of Rati), Pushpavān, Pushpadhanva (one with bow of flowers) or just Kāma ("longing"). Kamadeva is son of Hindu goddess Sri and, additionally, is the incarnation of Pradyumna, Krishna’s son. [...] Kāmadeva is represented as a young, handsome winged man who wields a bow and arrows. His bow is made of sugarcane with a string of honeybees, and his arrows are decorated with five kinds of fragrant flowers. The five flowers are Ashoka tree flowers, white and blue lotus flowers, Mallika tree(Jasmine) and Mango tree flowers. A terracotta murti of Kamadeva of great antiquity is housed in the Mathura Museum, UP, India. (wikipedia)
• • •

Probably a little easier to pull this kind of thing off when you make the grid 16 wide, but the grid couldn't very well have been normal size, given the 16-wide QUADRUPLE PANGRAM across the middle, so nothing to complain about there. Actually, given how out-of-control Scrabbly the grid is, I'm astonished at how clean it is. I don't mind the four cheater squares (black squares that do not add to the total word count—they make a grid easier to fill), because they seem justified in this taxing theme environment. For every little thing I'm not in love with (JQA, IN HOT, AKIM), there is something inventive and cool ("WHOA WHOA!," "HEY, KID!" (51D: Geezer's cry to a young 'un), A.V. CLUB (52D: Tech-savvy school grp.) that makes me forget the small stuff. Pangrams do not normally impress me at all, but the high bar on this one really impressed me.

I could tell right away that something weird was up when I had four Xs in side a 4x4 section of the NW. I was thinking that there'd be some kind of connect the Xs or treasure map theme ... but then I never saw another X. But I saw some Zs. And Js. And Qs. Still, had QUADRUPLE well before I had PANGRAM. I was moving along at a fast enough pace that I didn't care to stop and figure out what the hell was going on. Plow forward until you can't—that's my motto (it'll look great on a coat-of-arms, I think). After I got the central answer, the puzzle actually did get easier, because I went into those (damned isolated) corners expecting and hunting for odd letters and letter combinations. Big help in the south with KOOKY (69A: Like the Addams Family), especially since I had no idea about AKIM (64D: Actor Tamiroff), though I know I've seen him before. North section took the most work—literally (well, figuratively, probably) scratched and clawed for ever single letter—could not see the connection between IVANA and the Taj Mahal until after the puzzle was done, actually (I'm assuming the IVANA is Trump and the Taj Mahal is a casino or hotel or something) (16A: Onetime name at Taj Mahal) (funny that AGRA is also in the grid, since it's the site of the Other Taj Mahal=>34D: Locale of a much-visited mausoleum).

Clues felt amped up a bit today. 36A: Stone work is a devilish clue for "J.F.K." (intersecting presidential mongrams!), and 54D: Awards show with a Best Play category, with "the" had me thinking TONYS and EMMYS before finally hitting ESPYS ("oh ... *that* kind of 'play'"). I did not know that a TUP was a [Male sheep, in Britain]. I had a male turkey there for a bit. Then I remembered the word for what male sheep do to female sheep (see "Othello"), and that fit nicely. In the end, I clearly found this puzzle easier than most others. I had an only slightly slower-than-average time, but the times at the NYT site are abysmal. I crushed people who normally crush me. No idea why this should be. Perhaps it was the easy start—1A: Fighter in the "Iliad" was clearly AJAX, and the first thing I did was confirm the "X"—yep, XERXES fits (4D: Persepolis king). Slid right down into the heart of the grid from there and, with the exceptions of north and south, never struggled inordinately. Lots of names in this one, but I either knew them or fought through them, and they all seemed fairly crossed, so: thumbs up.

  • 20A: Annoyance, in British slang (AGGRO) — one of a mountain of words I know only because of xwords. It and words like it (e.g. ADZ (48A: Dressing tool) and INEZ) really helped me move through the puzzle with reasonable facility.
  • 49A: 1990 autobiography subtitled "Baseball, the Wall and Me" ("YAZ") — former Red Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski. He was in the first set of baseball cards I ever collected (1978). "The Wall" is the Green Monster in Fenway Park.
  • 53A: Basketball's Isiah Thomas, to fans (ZEKE) — Yeah, I guess I've heard that. It's not as strong a nickname as YAZ, though. Not by a longshot. Mostly people called Isiah "Isiah," whereas people called Carl Yastrzemski "YAZ" routinely.
  • 76A: Longest-lived First Lady (BESS) — there's something odd, bordering on disrespectful, about omitting her last name completely. Or does [First Lady] automatically denote first name?
  • 13D: It's about 90 yards of a football field (ACRE) — I couldn't make sense of this until just now, mainly because "90 yards" is a unit of length, not area. But I see where area is implied.
  • Noted Finnish chair designer (AALTO) — Like AGGRO, I learned this somewhere along the way (although, truthfully, I wanted EAMES at first, since he's first in my chair designer arsenal).
  • 3D: Hypothetical fundamental particle (AXION) — I feel like he was also a dude punished in Hades ... whoops, that's IXION ("bound to a solar wheel for all eternity" because he TUPped (a fake cloud version of) Hera)

[32D: "___ little silhouetto ..." ("Bohemian Rhapsody" lyric)]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. an animated look at each letter of the alphabet in the grid, by Brian Canes:


Knicks Fan 12:12 AM  

I looked through ever reference source I knew, could find on the internet, anything, and I didn't find one reference for ZEKE meaning "Destroyer of a once proud franchise". Anyone?, Anyone?

dbleader61 12:51 AM  

"Whoawhoa" a favourite for me as well...maybe because I was reminded of Foghorn Leghorn cautioning Henery Hawk (don't remember which episode)..."Whoa, I say WHOA, boy!"

Rube 1:31 AM  

This puzzle is not a Wednesday on so many levels it will be fun to read the gripes tomorrow. I had about 6 Googles which is 6 more than usual for Wed. Still ended up with blanks before giving up, (I have to get to bed, tomorrow is a busy day).

The NE was the worst, apt = QUICK?!, TKOD??, AGGRO??, ASFAT??. Still don't understand IAM = modern sum.

The AVCLUB at my high school may have known how to thread a 16mm projector, but I'm not sure they could spell their names.

I hope this satisfies all those who keep commenting about, "almost a pangram".
Love KAMA but thought JFK was way beyond Wednesday cluing.

Anonymous 2:03 AM  

RT Rube: Modern sum = IAM is a play on the Latin "sum" which means "I am" in English. As in Descartes' "Cogito ergo sum" = "I think therefore I am"

John T. 2:57 AM  

Re: "This puzzle is not a Wednesday on so many levels"

Truer words have never been spoken.

Anonymous 3:17 AM  

You guys realize it's Thursday, right?

jae 4:24 AM  

Yeah! Tougher than the usual Thurs. Got NW QUICK but the rest was tough!
I actually tried CAA for 36d (Chester A. Arthur) at first. Plus, CHAW for CHEW held me up in SE. FOUND for BASED was also a problem. HEYKID, delightful puzzle!

glimmerglass 8:09 AM  

Wow! This was a hard Thursday! Got PANGRAM, but had to work hard on QUADRUPLE. That actually was a help to me in the North, where I wouldn't have gotten FRIZZ and MIFF without the need for a 4th F. I had had "were" then "knew" for 6D, and nothing worked. "Frizz" bailed me out (oh, it's EVER). Like Rex, I found this the hardest section. I did wind up with one error -- misspelled AQABA and had never heard AGGRO. This one was fun, well over an hour.

rckharo 8:10 AM  

90 yards ... acre ... 90 yards ( length) = 270 ft; 50 yards (field width) = 165 ft; acre is 42,436 sq ft; 270 X 165 = 44550. Close enuf.

joho 8:22 AM  

Peter Wentz must have zoned out in a Zen state while creating this PANGRAM masterpiece.

Strangely I didn't really struggle like I thought I would until I hit the NE corner. I looked up AQABA to confirm the spelling and that helped me to see AGGRO.

I had pcCLUB before I got AV after filling in the fantastic WHOAWHOA!

Fantastic Thursday!

mmorgan 8:25 AM  

A marvel of construction, and highly enjoyable. I thought "Stone work" (36A) was a terrific clue (at least once I got it!)

Certain sections (e.g., NW) would stay blank, then suddenly fill themselves in (all those X's!).

Got stuck for a while in the top, especially with 6D ("If I ___..."). If I FELL ("in love with you," Beatles)? Nope. If I WERE ("a rich man," Fiddler)? Nope. Finally got it with IVANA (another great clue). Not so happy with MERIT for 5A (Excellence). Also had Emmys before ESPYS.

Finally, sadly, DNF in the south as I did not know IRVIN (football, meh) or AKIM, and YMCAS just didn't seem right! (Even though I had KOOKY.)

Oh, and I had a typo on 45D (MAW instead of PAW) so I was trying to figure out what on earth a QUADRUPLE MANGRAM is! Any ideas, Andrea?

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

Crossword mavens,

For three years and two days I have done crosswords daily. As of now, I have finished maybe 10-15%. Of those that I finish-without googling-it can take hours.

Sometimes when I see the answers I feel stupid. Sometimes when I see the answers they are stupid.

I am dumbfounded that some of you can finish within minutes. Absolutely dumbfounded.

What is your secret?

How does your mind work well for these puzzles?

Is part of it getting into the head of Will Shortz?

I look forward to your answers.


Props to Rex Parker.

deerfencer 8:57 AM  

Nice challenging Thursday and impressive throughout. Hand up in the SE for CHAW instead of CHEW and had to Google the Lawrence of Arabia and Tamiroff clue.

The one glaring clunker IMO was the clue for SUGARING, which could have been much improved by tying it to maple sap harvesting, a popular activity in northern climes.

fikink 9:04 AM  

QUADRUPLEPANGRAM!!! Peter Wentz, you the BOMB!

Like Rex, AJAX started me off with a XERXES confirmation and I thought this would be a breeze. Ha!
Haven't seen the word SQUAWK in a long time - how scrabbly!

A DAZZLING puzzle wherein it helped me to have the theme early on to finish a la @glimmerglass.

@deerfencer, CHAW, me too, and I like your suggestion for SUGARING.

Tinbeni 9:06 AM  

What a FUN Thursday ...

Bamm ... in the grid again.
BINGED, what I do when I "toast" everyone at Sunset.

Throw in my favorite 'Football team' ... AJAX, how can it get any better.

Well, I just noticed it is the "Great American Smokeout Day" SOOOO I guess I better go get a carton and smoke Two Packs today. (Hell, the change of pace will do me good).

Darryl 9:17 AM  

@Anon 8:28 / I.M. I too am in awe of those who finish within minutes, but have learned that that's not the point, nor is whether you know or don't know an answer makes you stupid.

Just looking at the NW corner, to be able to fill that in based solely on one's personal knowledge, one would have to know all the secondary characters of the Iliad, know a hypothetical particle which makes cold dark matter a possiblity, know 5th century BCE Persian history, etc. Not really feasable, not without starting one's life over and getting multiple advanced degrees in Quantum Physics, Greek and Latin Literature and Ancient History.

For me, AJAX is the most important character in the Iliad that I seem to never be able to remember. So, I'll look him up again in the hope that maybe I'll remember him the next time. Ditto XERXES. It's just remembering things after you've first been presented with them, which for me, for most of human knowledge, is pretty much now. I first ran across TUP in a puzzle back in July and made (extensive) fun of it then. Today, all I could remember was TU_. Had I remembered it, maybe I could have gotten QUADRUPLE, which would have opened the whole puzzle up for me, but I didn't, so I had an epic fail.

AXION? That's just something some crazy French guy made up to explain someting equally crazy astropysics shit that other guys made up. See, astrophysicists are all crazy. They've spent decades making shit up to try to explain why the further out in the universe you go, the faster things seem to be moving away from the center of the universe, from the point of the big bang. You know why they're farther away? Because they're moving faster. Why? Initial velocity, and the fact that they escaped the gravity of the rest of the universe more quickly, due to their initial velocity.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Embarrassing confession: I was able to finish all of this and grasped the theme but was left with QUADRU__E PANGRAM. I had never heard of TUP or AALTO and for some reason, the word QUADRUPLE did not occur to me. I was thinking there were 4 of each letter in each corner so I was thinking more of QUADRANT but that didn't work. So I went with QUADRUONE PANGRAM and called it a night.

jesser 9:20 AM  

Only writeover was at 31, where, like Fearless, I wanted eAmes. Never heard of AALTO, but the crosses made it inevitably clear.

My undoing was at 55A, where I had TV_ _ and Could Not get on the wavelength necessary to parse the last two letters. I finally threw in c and w, because cHASE and wARMS are words, even though I couldn't make them fit the clues. I figured it was trickery of the Stone Work ilk. I was wrong, and I'm irked at myself about that.

This was a KOOKY puzzle with much construction MERIT. I predict it'll show up in a compilation book. It's that good, even if it was AGGRO as hell for me down in DNFville.

I AM outta here. Happy Thursday, everyone!

Stist! (One of those people who never shut up about states' rights) -- jesser

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

A constructor shines; a solver shrugs.

PuzzleNut 9:28 AM  

Started strong in the NW with all those X's, and certainly expected an X theme. Had AnION at first, but LUnE couldn't be right, which led to my first aha moment (when in doubt, try an X). Moving east, here come the Z's. OK, this is a high scrabble count puzzle, not X related. Continued clockwise and DMZ, ADZ, AGRA and MEAD convinced me of the PANGRAM portion of 43A. I had ???????LEPANGRAM and thought, aha, a DOUBLE pangram. Next came the R in GUARD, so I upped my expectaions to a TRIPLE pangram. With AQUAS, I got SQUAWK, and I'm now stuck because TRIPLE no longer works. Aha, QUADRUPLE. That gave me JQA, and was wowwed when I got JFK (really great clue).
Last area was the SW where I had EmmYs and ??arm. At this point, I started counting Q's, which I saw I was one short, and EQUI fell, LUNE finally fit and EQUIP fixed the awards show.
Amazing puzzle on so many levels. Didn't know AALTO or AGGRO, but everything else was clearly correct once I finished. I really appreciate that in a difficult puzzle.
My minor nit was TKOD, but who cares.

mitchs 9:38 AM  

Wow, loved it! Hat's off to those who completed the NW first. I had to infer about everything. Kicked myself for not getting ALEX right away. Very memorable line in C. Orange: "Well, well, well, wittle Awex, they don't call me Dim no moah!"

dk 9:41 AM  

Shout out section
@twangster, at least you remembered how to spell SQUAWK. Idid not.

Odd fill section
SUGARING was odd for me as I know it as an process done in late Feb early Mar.
Note:Rex you should take a family trip to Parkers Maple Barn in Mason, NH.
Also I knew CHEW as chaw.

Worst parenting moment section
Gave my son (at age 13) the codes so LARA Croft was naked .

Rating section
*** (3 stars) Curse you Wentz for the Addams Family theme running through my head.

Lame section
In my hood similarly round is: as phat

nanpilla 9:41 AM  

I actually had a few moments when I thought I wasn't going to be able to finish this one. Then I started counting letters, and that allowed me to finish that devilish north section. FRIZZ opened it right up.

What a wonderful work-out for a Thursday. Took as long as a Friday for me, but with the fun of a great theme. Thanks, Peter!

Captcha: boxyz - looks like something that could have been in this puzzle.

quilter1 9:59 AM  

I love it when I have to work hard and this was a good challenging Thu. However, the NE defeated me. All I had was TKOD. DNF for the firt time in a long time. @Anonymous 8:28, after while you figure out that people have different knowledge sets and sometimes you just don't know and so you learn something. I'm older and so knew AKIM Tamiroff from old movies. But I only knew AXION from listening to a series of physics lectures while driving recently--lucky. And sometimes you just follow your first thought, like TKOD. I solve pen on paper, don't time myself and usually finish in 30 minutes or less, but I'm easy and if I need to leave it and come back later that's OK. The time isn't important for me. You'll figure out what is important to you. The speed solvers are having their own fun.

David L 9:59 AM  

I was cruising along at a good clip, enjoying all the wacky words, then ran into a wall and DNF. Couldn't figure out the JFK/KAMA cross (had RAMA, couldn't make any sense of the across clue) and also failed to see the AVCLUB/TVPG cross. Is TVPG really a thing? I mean, I know what TV is, and I know what PG is, but when do they get put together like that? (And yes, you're probably right, this is something very common and I just haven't noticed it....)

anonymous four 10:02 AM  

minor quibble: how do we know BESS is the longest lived FL? that somehow suggests to me that all the ones now living will die at an earlier age than she did.

Anyway, fun puzzle!

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

I always approach Thursday will some dread. I know it’s harder than Wednesday, but for whatever reason Thursdays too often are more difficult than the following Fridays and Saturdays. So with bourbon in hand and pumpkin pie and whipped cream as a chaser I dove into this masterpiece. Total blank. Another scan and another total blank. Fortunately the pumpkin pie was delicious and the bourbon warming. My first breakthrough came in the NW. Why? I have no idea why Ajax and Xerxes came to mind. It’s been more than 50 years since reading the Iliad but my mother always used the Ajax cleanser and Xerxes sounds like a STD. Emir was easy and Xbox only dawned on me because the NW was raining X’s like my shower curtain rains cats and dogs. I was forced to skip to the South where gradually blanks started filling in. Zeke? Vaguely, somewhere in the dark folds of my failing memory I sensed that like I sensed Xerxes. Others were easy. But the theme, the theme? That middle. Quadruple was readily gettable (is that a word?) but pangram wasn’t even in those dark folds. It wasn’t even in the pumpkin pie or the bourbon. Not only could I not find it anywhere on my body, I couldn’t find it staring across Lake Michigan. Oh, it’s all the letters in the alphabet, but after looking at the NW I wasn’t sure if we were talking about the Greek alphabet or the English alphabet. The NE came around, not because I know British slang but because I am so fat. The North was too much for me. Me Tarzan? How many Tarzan movies did I watch at the Karlov Theater as a boy? Every friggin one ever made by Johnny Weissmuller, that’s how many (Lex Barker was way to suave to be a jungle vine swinger). So, you think I got that one. Not a round chance. So with multiple cheats, including letter checks, Googling and letter reveals – the works – I finished. Now I know there are those who would write DNF, but I always say a finish is a finish, like the 6 hour marathoner, and, besides, it was a Thursday....

BigSteve46 10:20 AM  

Oddly enough, I had no idea what a pangram is! So I'm sitting with a "Quadruple WTF" on my hands. I enjoy reading this blog and find Rex's commentary clever and amusing. On the other hand, it kind of poisons the simple pleasure of the crossword to see it has just become another kind of in-crowd/codeword type of thing. Oh well, as long as I can keep solving them, I shouldn't complain - except that I just like complaining!

Glitch 10:23 AM  

@David L.

If you watch TV (some here never do), TVPG is one of the ratings in the upper left corner of the picture at the start of every show, and often, at the start of internal segments.

It was also meant to work with the now seldom mentioned V-Chip to automatically block content deemed "objectionable".

More at: TV Ratings .


David L 10:31 AM  

@Glitch, thank you, I guess I've seen that but it evidently hasn't registered. I mean, I don't let my TV set tell me what I should be watching and what I shouldn't, dammit!

chefbea 10:32 AM  

Tough puzzle. DNF. Googled a lot then gave up and came here.

Loved stone work/jfk

Howard B 10:49 AM  

Total wreckage here. I didn't know my British slang, didn't understand the ACRE clue, missed the boat on TKOD(?!) and AS FAT(!!), etc.

Great feat of construction, a rough ride on the solving end. Was an old-fashioned wooden roller coaster with lots of splinters along the way. This one definitely evened the playing field.
Still recovering ;).

JaxInL.A. 10:51 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaxInL.A. 10:52 AM  

With a few small differences, I had much the same experience as @PuzzleNut, with a lot of Rex's experiences thrown in. I seemed to be in the zone today, but not for any single reason. Amazingly finished in much shorter time than my usual Thursday. What fun!!!

AJAX popped right into my head not, as @Darryl implies, because I have more than passing acquaintance with Greek literature, but because I do xwords. Character in Iliad, four letters, good bet it's AJAX. That one word had me thinking "ooh, @ACME is gonna love this," which put the notion of a pangram in my head literally from the first word. Words just popped into my head repeatedly, and I had the NW and the entire center latitudes plus DAZZLING in about 5 minutes. I can't remember _ever_ doing that well on a Thursday. Maybe it helped that I have the kind of hair that FRIZZes in the damp. IVANA was a stumper for a while, though.

I slowed way down in the NE and in the Texas region. I let myself Google sports clues if I can't get them from the crosses, and so I looked up Michael IRVIN. That helped free up that block. Didn't know AKIM but the Addams family TV show theme song came to the rescue with KOOKY.

Then it helps to know some basic things about a couple of other languages. Most helpful for crosswords: Finnish uses loads of double vowels. So when I had AA_TO for the Finnish chair designer, I didn't worry that it was obviously wrong and waited for the crosses to fill it in.

Another help, @Anon I.M. at 8:23, comes from remembering the astoundingly smart people interviewed in the movie Wordplay who said that they sometimes get halfway through the puzzle before being able to write anything at all. Sometimes all I can write is an S or two for clues that are plurals, or ED at the end of the word for clues that are past-tense. But sometimes that helps get me started. Knowing some of those words referred to here as crosswordese also makes a huge difference.

If you are serious about getting better at this, you might try Amy Reynaldo's book How to Conquer the NYT Crossword Puzzle. I bet she gives the best advise of all. Good luck.

anacred: what you get from being really good at re-arranging letters

joho 10:57 AM  

I was thinking the best adjective for this puzzle is PANOGRAMIC!!

@quilter1 ... love your quilt ... did you create it?

Two Ponies 11:06 AM  

Simply Dazzling Puzzle.
I really had to flex the old gray matter but it felt so good!
Clever clues had me grinning but the sports clues made me squawk a little.
Great to be able to say vici.

Mel Ott 11:07 AM  

Help me out here - I don'y really know from pangrams. What exactly is the definition of a QUADRUPLE PANGRAM? My first impression was exactly four of every letter as indicated in Rex's definition, and I was in awe of the difficulty in constructing such a puzzle. I'm not about to count each letter, but a quick glance indicates there are more than four of each vowel.

So does QUADRUPLE PANGRAM mean at least four of each letter? Or exactly four of each consonant?

Ulrich 11:12 AM  

I, too, had problems with the TVPG/AV CLUB crossing, my last empty space. Obsessive as I am, I started to count letters and lo and behold, I had only 3 v's! And then I slapped myself on the forehead: Of course, I've seen TV PG in a puzzle before!

As a side effect, I can report to all interested parties that the A's beat all other letters by a wide margin in this adorable puzzle.

Tetu 11:14 AM  

And I thought there might be a "macclub" where the tech-savvy kids hung out....

Ulrich 11:16 AM  

@Mel Ott: I, too, thought initially that there had to be exactly four of each letter, but then a quick count of the spaces to be filled in showed that this could not be the case. Anyway, given how few vowels the alphabet contains, 4-of-every-letter would probably be impossible even on a smaller grid.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

loved this puzzle even if it took me about half an hour and one lookup. I did not like chew, though. had chaw. it just made more sense.

to the super fast finishers, do you do these on paper first? I do them on my phone or computer, and even if I know all the answers it still takes me at least 6 minutes to read all the clues and type in the answers.

not that I'm concerned about my time, I'm just curious.

The Big E 11:28 AM  

had two mess-ups:
one, I had LURE crossed with ARION, which kind of made sense...

Then for Stone Work, I had JAR, and I figured AURY was some greek word I had never heard of and RAMA sounded like a plausible Hindu god to me! :-)

All in all a really cool puzzle, and count me as one of those who (now that I have seen the answer and figured it out) LOVE the JFK answer!

Happy Puzzling all!

quilter1 11:35 AM  

@joho, I executed, but the designer is Kimberly I. Graham. Find the directions for this quilt by googling Sampler of Psalms quilt. Thanks, this is one of my better efforts.

Two Ponies 11:42 AM  

@ Anon 8:28/I.M.,
Before coming to this blog I would solve (or not complete) the puzzle every day too but usually discard it and forget it. The difference now is that by discussing it here I remember more of the new stuff and certainly have become more savvy to the tricks and styles of the constructors.
We don't all concern ourselves with timing the solve (as has been beaten to death) but I am sure that if you hang around with this crowd your percentages will surely improve.

imsdave 11:48 AM  

WOW - I am speechless at the brilliance of this feat of construction. Tough, fair, and totally awesome.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

@ Anon 8:28, You are one of those I suggested should quit a few days ago. Alas, it appears you are now trapped, hoisted by your own petard, so to speak, and destined to do these at least as long as Will Shortz edits them, if not for the rest of your conscious life. So with that I bade you good luck. From what you wrote I submit you are right on track to obtain what you wish for....

glimmerglass 12:02 PM  

@rckharo: A football field is 160' wide, not 50 yrds.

mac 12:16 PM  

Fantastic puzzle, but DNF for me. Didn't think of Eddy Stone! Also, TVPG was a mystery for me.

Loved the whoa whoa and squawk.

All packed to go to Holland. I'm opting for the scan this evening.


Van55 12:19 PM  

To me this was just another example of the constructor displaying his brilliance at the expense of the solver's enjoyment. It's one thing to create a quadruple pangram replete with (32) proper nouns, many of which are quite obscure (e.g. AALTO) It's another to compound the difficulty of the solve with unnecessarily brainy clues e.g. the clues for ASFAT, LUXE, IAM, IVANA,

Yeah the puzzle is a masterpiece of sorts. I hated it.

Accuracy in Puzzledom 12:23 PM  


I guess 0.99173553719184 may be considered about 1 acre unless you're one of those nitpickers who post here ;).


SethG 12:30 PM  

For the chair designer, I wanted A(a)rnio. And I entered INEZ with no crosses, having never read the book. So it's evident I do plenty of crossword puzzles, but I did not fly through this one.

Apparently, the Brits can use aggro for any aggr* word.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

rckharo also had other stuff wrong, but was close enough. An acre is 90 3/4 yards of a football field, which makes "about 90 yards" certainly correct.

But I don't understand what P>G> is questioning about glimmerglass's comment?

Shamik 12:32 PM  

@Anon 8:28: Practice. Practice. Practice. Then practice some more.

This is one of those puzzles that a constructor creates for other constructors to go "Ooooooh!" Finished it in a challenging Thursday time of 15:53. And admired it for its construction, but not for its fun factor. Although I did like KOOKY and ISEEA.

Put me in and take me out of the EAMES chair because I don't know who else designed furniture until the crosses saved me. Very few gimmes today, but that's ok.

Now....will someone tell me WHERE on the NYT site the online solvers' times are? Mine disappeared when they dropped the answer code.

hazel 1:06 PM  

Definitely love/hate for me. Figured out the quadruple pangram well before I’d sorted out a couple of entire sections. When I found myself counting Ks and Zs and Xes (NW was plain brutal to me) to finish up, though, I had had enough. Because that doesn’t really feel like high level solving, it just feels like low level counting.

@Ulrich, please elaborate on the qualities of this puzzle that make it “adorable”, a very interesting choice of words!!

I did think that some of the clue/answers were inspired, but others, were just rococo - a bit too much for my taste.

So, I worked really hard to make this comment a pangram. So what you say? Exactly.

@mac - i've been opting for the scanner for months (knee sets off the alarms) and good grief there's been a lot of hoo ha over nothing,

r.alphbunker 1:09 PM  

re: speed solvers.

I made my peace with this. In high school I ran cross country and made the all-state team. But anybody could beat me in the 100 yard dash. Later on I heard that sprinters have "fast twitch muscles". Speed solvers must have something similar in their brains. My brain lacks that feature, so perserverance gets me through most puzzles without googling.

The Big E 1:11 PM  

@mac - what do you mean by "Eddy Stone?" I don't understand the significance or meaning?
Stone work, unless I am totally mistaken, is Oliver Stone's movie JFK... Did I miss a post in reference to Eddy Stone?

Evgeny 1:27 PM  

Just in case someone missed this week's tech-savvy-kids discussion - if you're looking for a particular word/term/phrase in the comments, hit command+F on a mac or control+F on a PC and look for the word.

this being said, figuring out the theme really helped in finishing the puzzle. actually, as i've never seen anything like this before, it made for a whole new way a theme can help. So, low level counting was part of (somewhat higher level, for a thursday) solving.

John V 1:41 PM  

Been a very long time for me to have a Thursday DNF, but that's where I am. (May be residule jet lag.) Called it quits after a net of about 2 hours, on and off the train,. Did okay in the South, got killed in the North.

So it goes. Oddly, saw ...pangram, but couldn't fill the front of this answer.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

to anonymous....stick with gets easier, at least it did for me. i now can most times complete sun thru wed and sometimes thurs. think of all those who give up;they don't come here. enjoy the challenge. admire but don't compare.

william e emba 1:52 PM  

Cool. After getting the NW, then the middle North, it was clear this was some kind of pangram. So when I looked for the theme revealer, I saw that I had four Xs and that QUADRUPLE PANGRAM fit, and I was off. Still, I crashed and burned in some corners and slowed down, but I slogged through in the end.

BESS Truman is indeed the longest-lived First Lady as of 11/18/2010, the date of the puzzle. That someone today--heck, someone not yet with that title--may someday outlive here is irrelevant. (And why the small "first lady" in the clue?)

From Neil Gaiman Sandman #2:"She's right, my ducks. Might as well call us Tisiphone, Alecto, and Magaera -- and that takes us back, eh?"

Actually, we had TUP in the puzzle this past summer. Remarkably, Rex did not comment on the word whatsoever in his write-up, as he explained in a comment after noticing a number of posters commenting on TUP (including one quoting Othello for the verb sense):

[REX:] Finished puzzle — and write-up — without ever seeing TUP or its clue. Wife says "I knew TUP was something a sheep does, I didn't know it was a sheep itself." Me: "... ... ... what puzzle are you doing?"

Clark 1:55 PM  

DNF for me in the NE. I had SUGARING in that corner and otherwise nothing, nichts, nada.

Fun solving moment: I had pUP instead of TUP, and that helped me get AQUAS and QUADRUPLE. Then the change from SUpportS to SUSTAINS straightened me out. Do we have a name for that? A mistake that is just a mistake (not a malapop) but is nevertheless a path to success. (Well, relative success. AQABA? AS FAT? QUICK? AGGRO? Yikes!)

Ulrich 2:12 PM  

@hazel: Architects are trained to look at the formal characteristics of the the things they see, like an urban context, and then to "play" with these in the creation of new designs that have to fit into some context. One way to look at a xword puzzle is to see it as a collection of letters that have to fill a grid (aside from forming recognizable words, of course). One way to play with this characteristic is to see if all letters of the alphabet can be used, which leads to the concept of a pangram, and given that concept, one can try to raise the stakes by increasing the number of times each letter is being repeated. I appreciate that kind of thinking. I called it "adorable" just to irk the people who make a distinction between appreciating a construction and the solving experience--I said this before, I find this distinction bogus.

I have also come to accept that some people believe they know everything that is worth knowing so that everything they do not know is, by definition, obscure. However, it pains me to see this label applied to Alvar Aalto, one of the great pioneers of modern architecture and one of the most influential industrial designers of the 20th century--his chair and vases are ubiquitous (easy to find by googling).

PlantieBea 2:24 PM  

Crash and burn puzzle for me; DNF the AQABA/QUICK/FIGS combo in the NE. This one was one of the more difficult Thursday puzzles I've worked in quite a while.

Van55 2:33 PM  

Google search "aalto + chair" = 162,000 hits. Not totally obscure to be sure.

"Eames + chair" = 1,840,000 hits. Demonstrating that AALTO as chair designer is relatively obscure.

And no, Ulrich, I don't for a moment believe that everything outside of my own limited sphere of knowledge is "obscure" nor do I think most of us believe that.

Priscilla 3:02 PM  

@David 12:51am
I remember that episode. it was Every Single One, wasn't it?

efrex 4:03 PM  

This one totally chewed me up and spit me out. Haven't had a Thursday like that in a while. Also had "Pangram" in the center, but couldn't get anywhere else.

the clue for ESPYS was just a sadistic one for pen-solvers (tried TONYS and OBIES)

Accuracy Pt. II 4:21 PM  

[Prompted by an Anon's comment]


I was attempting to point out that with your (non-trivial)correction, the clue could have stood without the almost, except to the ubernitpickers that show up from time to time.

Sorry if it came out wrong.


Joe 4:23 PM  

Almost finished this one.
Had problems in N and NE.
Thrown by the Taj Mahal clue, but I would have gotten it.

Put out = MIFF? Don't get it.
Isn't JELLS usually spelled GELS?
Was able to intuit TVPG and AJAR.

TKOD--bad clue. That's not a "kind of" way to get eliminated from a boxing match...that's a definite way to get eliminated from a boxing match. There are only three ways: KO, TKO, DQ. That's it.

ACRE - knew the concept. But I always heard it as "an acre is approximately the size of a football field without the end zones."

sanfranman59 4:50 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 24:55, 19:03, 1.31, 93%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 13:50, 9:12, 1.50, 96%, Challenging

This one is well-ensconced in the Challenging range. I'm guessing it will end the day in the top 5 median solve times for both groups of solvers (of 75 Thursdays in my spreadsheet). I certainly posted one of my higher Thursday solve times.

chefwen 5:11 PM  

I was too tired last night after I was done with this one to even comment. Correction - finished with a DNF, but believe me I WAS DONE, done in! Northeast gave me the most trouble and I Googled my butt off.

Thursday must be the new Friday with a theme.

@TwoPonies - Love you new avatar. TwoCute!

@Mac - Have a safe journey.

skelinch - what the TSA guys see.

Unknown 5:18 PM  

I have to say I hated this puzzle. Way too many proper names, Hindu gods, foreign terms (male sheep in Britain? WTF?). I got all but one square, Googling only as a sanity check, but I"m not sure how I pulled it off. I defeated it out of hatred and resolve, like defeating the Nazis; I feel a sense of accomplishment, but there was no joy in the task.

I managed to fill in all the names without actually *knowing* any of the answers. I guessed "Zeke" without knowing if it had any connection to "Isaiah". I only just now got the JFK clue. I had no idea what a quadruple pangram referred to until Rex's explanation. Slower than my average all week -- maybe Friday will be gentler.

Kurt 5:22 PM  

Best Thursday puzzle of the year! Loved every bit of it.

Mr. Wentz, I bow to your constructing acumen.

Wayne Rhodes 5:25 PM  

I don't get the theme either, as there are way more than 4 s's and g's, etc. There are 199 letter-squares. Four x 26 would be 104. Seems pretty lame....

The Big E 5:28 PM  

@wsrhodes - A Pangram is when you have at least one of every letter. Hence, a Quadruple Pangram has at least 4 of every letter. I think it is pretty impressive to create a puzzle with at least 4 Js, 4 Xs, 4 Qs, 4 Zs, etc.
just saying...

Anonymous 6:15 PM  

Where is Andrea Pangram Michaels? All I could think about was how much she would love this delightful puzzle.

Evgeny 6:19 PM  


Google search "nabokov + novel" = 426,000 hits; "updike novel" = 323,000 hits

"rowling novel" = 1,120,000 hits.

Demonstrating that Nabokov and Updike as writers are relatively obscure. Also that Nabokov, Updike and Rowling as persons are relatively obscure when compared to Eames.

My point is, Googleability is almost as bad a measure of obscurity as one's own knowledge.

birnfam 8:15 PM  

@anonymous 8:28 --

Been doing these puzzles 25-30 years, almost always finish with no googling, but wouldn't set any speed records. The trick to me is lateral thinking (call that getting inside the head of Will Shortz if you'd like). How many ways can a clue be interpreted? Explore them all! For example, 36A, Stone work...just knew I should be thinking of an Oliver Stone movie, not a retaining wall...but as a beginner, you have to train your mind to consider all the possibilities. Stick with of luck.

Van55 8:24 PM  

Oh my. Too bad this has to be my last post on the blog. Or maybe not.

Evgeny, it cannot be gainsaid that Rowling is relatively better known in today's society world-wide then either Nabokov or Updike. I think you perfectly illustrated my point. That doesn't mean that Rowling is more important or a better novelist than either Updike or Nabokov. It only means that her name is better known than theirs.

I am not sure what the fact that searching "Eames + chair" results in more hits than "Rowling + novel" proves, if anything. It's apples and oranges in my view. Frankly, I would guess that J.K. Rowing is a better known name than Eames by far.

I will stand by my opinion that the Finnish guy is relatively more obscure than Eames.

That said, yesterday's (?) OYEZ was a gimme to me, given my education and experience. That doesn't mean that it's not obscure to most people who have different sphere's of knowledge, nor does it mean that those who think it obscure are dummies.

fikink 8:27 PM  

@Anon 828 - Do as @birnfam suggested, and then you will revel in Cryptics, straight crosswords becoming too pedestrian for your taste, and then you will explore string theory and then you won't care what happens to us mere mortals as you bask in philosophic joys.
Ein Prosit,
Ein Prosit
Gemeutlichkeit ;)

Anonymous 8:37 PM  

Ooh, he said gainsaid!

But why does he keep talking about a search for "Eames + chair"? Is he using the plus sign in his query? If so, he's doing it wrong...

I cannot wait until tomorrow to find out!

Ulrich 8:47 PM  

obscure: Of undistinguished or humble station or reputation--acc. to the Free Online Dictionary; i.e. it's not a popularity contest, and by that definition, neither Aalto, nor Eames, nor Nabokov, nor Rowling are obscure. I stand by my initial point: The fact that one doesn't know something does not make it ipso facto obscure.

Another point I made a long time ago here: Please, don't use "obscure" or "arcane"--period. I'll never forget when someone who didn't know Althea Gibson, the tennis player who broke the color barrier in women's tennis, was called, on this blog, "Althea f***ing Gibson" by someone who had never heard of her

mmorgan 9:18 PM  

Okay, then, can we all just agree on the suppositions contained within this typology?

1) If you know something and other people know something, then it is common knowledge and too easy and obvious and the puzzle constructor is an asshole

2) If you know something and other people don't know it, then you are brilliant and the puzzle constructor is a clever genius and other people are assholes

3) If other people know something and you don't know it, then it is a meaningless, trivial, and irrelevant and worthless piece of knowledge and other people (and the constructor) are assholes

4) If you don't know something and other people don't know something then the constructor is an asshole

This is kinda what's known as the "Third Person Effect" in my field (mass communication research). Can we just accept it and move on? (Even though the constructor loses 3 out of 4 times. But that's the risk they take. ;-)

@Anon 6:15... also waiting for ACME...

In any case (and more seriously)... clearly the consensus is that we had a superb puzzle thrown our way today. Hats off to Mr. Wentz! More, please!

Sfingi 10:11 PM  

@Anonymous828 - In case you are serious - which is always a question if you are an Anony Mouse - after a year and a half, my work matched Rube's today. I won't buy a NYT tomorrow or Saturday.

Advice: A. do another CW each week - I do 2 others: The local which is delivered (which is the LA) and USA Today, which is always a Wed. in difficulty.
B. Study the Crosswordese
C. If you can stand it, watch Wheel of Fortune. You get better at "seeing" the word or phrase on a couple letters.
D. Realize "One sees what one brings." I have a sister who is an art professor (and Fulbright Scholar), for instance. I had a German grandfather and Hubster speaks Italian. You may very well follow sports.
I have read Updike and Nabokov, but never Rowlings. I wouldn't read Hesse's Sidhartha or JD Salinger as an adult or I'd have to puke. So I'm glad I read them as a whipper snapper.

BTW - This was a deep and brilliant puzzle. It took me a long time and 5 Googles.

I do enjoy knowing and getting the things I do know and get.
Alvar AALTO - most of his stuff is in Northern Europe. Super clean. But there is the Mt. Angel Abbey in OR, which is softer. He is arcane - unless you've had discussions about him.

ArtLvr 10:25 PM  

Stunning, DAZZLING super puzzle! I adored it, so I suppose I agree with @Ulrich that it was adorable.

At the end, it took me ages getting Chaw to CHEW, but the rest went swimmingly. I especially liked the "Stone work" and the "Modern sum" clues.

@mmorgan's Four Rules of a "Third Person Effect" might add up to a One-off? Well put, anyway, and kudos galore to Peter Wentz for his Pangrammatic Home Run.


sanfranman59 10:30 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 8:19, 6:57, 1.20, 99%, Challenging
Tue 8:37, 8:57, 0.96, 45%, Medium
Wed 10:41, 11:39, 0.92, 32%, Easy-Medium
Thu 24:53, 19:03, 1.31, 93%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:18, 3:42, 1.16, 95%, Challenging
Tue 4:22, 4:36, 0.95, 41%, Medium
Wed 5:41, 5:44, 0.99, 54%, Medium
Thu 13:14, 9:11, 1.44, 96%, Challenging

Not quite a top 5 median solve time for the All Solvers group (it ended up in 6th), but this is the 4th highest median for the Top 100 group. I guess it couldn't be a Friday because of the theme, but it sure played like one.

andrea dazzzzzled michaels 1:51 AM  

Pe-ter Wentz! Pe-ter Wentz! Pe-ter Wentz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a day for my computer to not print the puzzle!!!!!!!!!!!
When my friend Maria told me it was Peter Wentz, I said, "Print it out right away, he always does those fabulous puzzles with lots of Js Ks, Xs, Zs!"

Did the NW corner first and was in heaven.

AKIM/IRVIN a total Natick to me.
Lots of sports I didn't know...YAZ or KAZ? ZEKE???!!! Michael Irvin? TKOD. I had to Google...
My bad, not his!
Didn't get JFK...and I thought Alecto, Megaera, Tisiphone were tURks!!

Even doubted KOOKY bec I think the song goes they are creepy and spooky, mysterious and a lot of things!

Here are the lyrics:

They're creepy and they're kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They're all together ooky,
The Addams Family.

and the lyricist is named Vic MiZZy!!!!

Having a QUADRUPLE heart attack I loved this so much, even tho I'm a DNF. But WTF Qarez?!!!

nancy 10:09 PM  

10:08 p.m. Friday and I'm just now finishing. It was too hard for me.

NotalwaysrightBill 2:18 PM  

Syndicated paper solver.

"ISEEA little silhouetto of a man, Scaramouch, Scaramouch, will you do the Fandango?"

DNF, so nope.

"Feed the birds, TUPence a bag . . ." Lots of British "Me TARZANs in this puz (got INEZ from knowing Lord Byron's Don Juan): WTF, the KAMA Sutra probably has a whole chapter devoted to it, so why not?

Didn't know a PANGRAM from a constructor's hole in the ground: live & learn, AGGRO in between.

Biggest nit (19A It might be run in a hospital=FEVER): "A FEVER runs its course" or "a patient runs a FEVER;" but "a FEVER was run" seems altogether "ooky."

Biggest learning-word for me: LUNE for a crescent shape.

captcha: ingst: German > Spanish > English: is another Thursday puz really coming again?

Cary in Boulder 3:30 PM  

Somehow made it through this one, though I had to Google Alecto, et al. I had JAR/AURY like @The Big E did. "Stone work" drove me nuts but I finally got the reference. Also had to Google PANGRAM. Once I knew that, the north became a whole lot easier. SUM=IAM still bothers me, although I understand it.

Guess I'm gonna have to subscribe to the online version since I hate being 5 weeks behind in this conversation.

Captcha (something else I had to Google): famboxi = stuck with your relatives for the holidays?

Randy Chong 5:08 PM  

Am I the only one who wrote in MYSELF for Me follower?

NotalwaysrightBill 11:02 PM  

@ Randy Chong:

Tried MYSELF myself, but it just didn't work with 16A (Onetime name at the Taj Mahal = IVANA), which was such a gimme. Right? I swear, some of these clues are such "What have I got in my pocket?" questions.

Nullifidian 2:37 AM  

Writing in late from syndication-land:

Perhaps this was clued in a way that just hit my interests, but I not only didn't find this challenging, I found it as easy as a Monday. Maybe the puzzle creator is the same age as I am.

The QUADRUPLE PANGRAM theme is interesting, but of no help in solving, so I did it as a themeless. Nevertheless, as I said, I didn't find it too hard. FURY gave me JFK, so I found that fairly easy, though I liked the cluing.

There doesn't seem to be much else that I can say. I don't know why, but I just blazed through this, which surprised me for a Thursday.

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