Advertising figure with a monocle / MON 9-17-12 / "Don't look ___!" / Bridge player's combo / So last year / "Quit your beefing!" / Blood group? / Basic drawing class / Curt summons

Monday, September 17, 2012

Constructor: Adam G. Perl

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: MINCE MEAT (57A: Pie filling … or a hint to the answers to the six starred clues?) — Six answers end in (or, in the case of two, comprise only of) anagrams of "meat."

Word of the Day: CALLA lily (62A) —
Zantedeschia aethiopica (common names, Calla lilyArum lilyVarkoor, an Afrikaans name meaning pig's ear); syn. Calla aethiopica L., Richardia africana KunthRichardia aethiopica (L.) Spreng.Colocasia aethiopica(L.) Spreng. ex Link) is a species in the family Araceae, native to southern Africa in LesothoSouth Africa, and Swaziland. (Wikipedia)
• • •
Greetings, Internet. This is Finn Vigeland, constructor of a puzzle Rex once called "not-at-all cringe-inducing," which, coming from Rex, is a huge compliment. You may also know me from my not-quite 15 minutes of fame on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

I'm subbing for Rex, who's recusing himself on this puzzle, likely because he's sick of this type of theme, and I can't blame him. Some will say "GET OVER IT!" (36D: "Quit your beefing!"), and while I can appreciate a good "anagrams-at-the-end-of-theme-answers" theme, I found this one was inconsistent and the fill, for the most part, tired. Symmetrically placed MR. PEANUT (10D: Advertising figure with a monocle) and the well-concealed RED CROSS (40D: Blood group?) were highlights, but they couldn't quite save the puzzle for me.

Theme answers:
  • META (1A: Prefix with physics)
  • ASPARTAME (20A: Substance marketed under the name NutraSweet)
  • LEMME AT 'EM (24A: Fightin' words)
  • THERE'S NO I IN TEAM (39A: Coach's cliched reminder)
  • CHECKMATE (49A: Chess ending)
  • AT ME (69A: "Don't look ___!")
The biggest problem with this theme is the repetition of AT in the rearrangement of MEAT in two theme answers. LEMME AT 'EM is an equivalent anagram to [Don't look AT ME], in my estimation, with the only difference being the fact that AT ME is a partial, which is my second problem with this theme: Having a partial as one of your theme answers is really UGLI (35A: Aptly named fruit).

I would have eliminated one of those and expanded the entry containing META, which is awful lonely at 1A. How about something fresh like THAT'S SO META, potentially clued better than my feeble attempts of [Response to a joke about a joke] or [Comment on a film about filmmaking]? (Is "that's so meta" in-the-language beyond my broader circle? Would love to know what people think.)

Besides the repetition of AT and the partial business, I'm a little put off by the fact that some of the MEATs are their own words (META, TEAM) and the others are part of a previous word (ASPARTAME, CHECKMATE). Especially considering that "tame" and "mate" are actual words, this theme could have been reworked to iron out these kinks, methinks. (Rhyme unintended.)

I do like the revealer, MINCE MEAT, but would have liked it more if it were referenced not with mince as an adjective, like [Pie filler … or a hint to the answers to the six starred clues?], but as a verb: [Pie filler … or what the six starred answers do?], since they literally mince meat into different pieces. Minor point, though. THERE'S NO I IN TEAM, while not an original answer, does look nice as a central grid spanner.

[6D: "You're A REAL pal" … sort of]

So, I enjoyed some of the theme, but found it flawed. The fill was up and down. Good parts: Looking at R?DCR??? for 40D made me think the C was wrong, but the correct answer quickly fell into place after I moved over and got CLARA (49D: Barton of the 40D). Good misdirection with [Blood group?]. This puzzle also featured a number of long clues for short answers, including the ones for LIE (23A: What "can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes," per Mark Twain) and EARS (2D: What friends, Romans and countrymen lent, in Shakespeare), but I kind of like when that happens, so I was fine with that. Not sure why the "in Shakespeare" is necessary in 2D… where else did friends, Romans and countrymen lend parts of their body?! (Don't answer that.)

Besides the last theme answer, there were quite a few partials in this puzzle, including 6D: "You're A REAL pal" and 38D: "I'M AS surprised as you are". I guess the North is a little dense on theme (with the semi-stacking of 20A and 24A), but the result is 14/15 Wheel of Fortune letters (I forget what Rex calls them, but I mean RSTLNE). The IMAS section only has to deal with the end of 39A, and considering it crosses the obscure AARONS (47A: ___ rod (molding with a twined serpent design)), I would have tried to redo the East.

  • TEN ACE (43A: Bridge player's combo) — This looks a lot like "menace," but it does not rhyme with it. Curious.
  • OON (33D: Suffix with ball) — I always wondered if this was valid, because I don't really associate a balloon with a ball, though I guess it is ball-like. A quick Googling of "balloon etymology" puts my fears to rest: it comes from the Italian palla, "ball," + -one, suffix indicating great size. Who knew?
  • SEE ME (6D: Curt summons) — Anyone else read this as [Court summons]? Wanted WRIT or SUBPOENA or something.
  • PASSE (5A: So last year) — Also contributing to my troubles in the north, since I first had RETRO, then OUTRE, since I apparently don't know what OUTRE means.
  • BASIL (68A: Pesto ingredient) — My dad (hi dad!) makes absolutely delicious pesto. We get our Italian food in Little Italy in the Bronx, near Fordham University. Check it out if you get the chance!
I've got to get back to my homework, so thanks to Rex for the chance to put aside some of my urban studies reading to self-indulgently blog!

Signed, Finn Vigeland, Competitive Spit-Taker of CrossWorld


Pete 12:18 AM  

So, which MEAT anagram are we counting for LETMEATEM? the letMEATem, or the letmeATEM?

Seems like only one anagram of MEAT per entery would be preferable.

syndy 1:16 AM  

Doesn't seem like not being likely to like a theme would be enough for Rex to recuse himself over,that'a the point of this blog isn't it? been intrigued since RP posted on facebook. just inquiring. The puzzle ,blat just blat maybe METAblat.although I,ve had many an engine DIE on me not one went pfft.(one did throw a piston through the block but I can't do justice to the noise)

Anoa Bob 2:21 AM  

Meara meta mata arti? Amana ares areal? Ateat mer assam! Twa tres rois!! (Oon lav, anno coho.)

Tenace calla enlai atme. Aahs, imas dia musica ugli.

Rube 2:33 AM  

Not sure what our nouveau host meant by the beginning of his blog, but MINCEMEAT adequately describes this theme.

As usual I have to declaim ATEAT, which is why I'm blogging today.

Also, as I remember it, Aaron turned his staff into a snake... singular. Why is this plural? Wanted Caduceus.

chefwen 2:52 AM  

It's Monday - the only thought process occurred with the AARONS/NEALE crossing. Maybe AAHS CALLA MEARA can throw a little sunshine my way.

fvigeland 2:59 AM  

@Pete: Didn't even notice MEAT lying smack in the middle of the answer. Guess it wasn't minced very thoroughly.

@Rube: I edited the post to clarify. I meant it would have been cooler to clue MINCE as a verb here, not just as an adjective modifying MEAT. Perhaps I'm getting too nitpicky.

Aspartame Clara Mincemeats 3:27 AM  

What Finn sees as inconsistencies, I see as variety!!!
SEVEN variations of MEAT...
Two alone, two as stand alone words, two as part of words, one a partial...What's ____ like? (NOTTO)

People are following @rex's lead and are perhaps getting way too nitpicky and needlessly snarky. At least today's blogger has made puzzles himself, so why not lots more appreciation of the construction knowing how many dozens of things have to gel?

Just to name a few: parallel entries, many more of them than usual, grid spanning, not been done before, reveal that makes sense, smooth fill, a theme that tickles Will, phrases with energy, words that even novice solvers are familiar with, fewer than 42 black squares, maximum word count constraints...etc etc

I thought this was meaty...and everything was just ducky!
Happy New Year, all!

Acme 3:35 AM  

Wow, just watched the Fallon video, you guys are super cute and that was incredibly disgusting!!!
Finn, maybe we should collaborate on one with SPIT, PITS, TIPS (and your pal SIPT?)

jae 3:43 AM  

Medium for me.  Hand up for the Curt as Court misread which required a few seconds of staring.  Seemed like a smooth Mon. with a  reasonably clean grid to me. Liked it!  What do I know? I do know that Aspartame Carla Mincemeat had the same take as I did on this one!

fvigeland 4:13 AM  

@acme: I like to think I'm not quite as snarky as Rex, but this one just rubbed me the wrong way. The partials in the theme really did it in, but it was topped off by the IMAS ROIS AREAL OON SSTS NNE AAHS factor.

Or maybe it's because I'm a vegetarian.

(On a serious note… would totally love to collaborate on a puzzle with you!)

Evan 4:42 AM  

I'd add THE PLAYER and GET OVER IT as highlights of good fill, but Finn's objections about the partials and the inconsistency of the theme answers are well taken.

I'm wondering if anyone out there was tripped up by the CALLA/CALL crossing -- it almost got me. I've never heard of CALLA, and the clue for 58-Down ("Telephone") really made me hesitate between CALL and CeLL. I settled on the former because if it were the latter, the clue likely would have had some additional information (like "Modern telephone" or "Small telephone, for short"). But for a Monday, that was a tense moment where I felt only a little more confident than a 50-50 chance of guessing correctly.

And from an aesthetic point of view, I don't really like that crossing much. I know they're different words, but CALL is completely contained in CALLA and they cross one another. Put the two in different sections of the grid and I'd have had less of a problem with it.

GILL I. 6:19 AM  

I thought this was a perfectly fine Monday. It doesn't have the zippiness that some of our other prolific constructors toss in, but it didn't go pfff either.

Deb 6:36 AM  

Was bugged by the fact that one of the theme answers had a whole lotta minced meat in it, but otherwise this was a typical Monday.

The wedding was bloody amazing, btw. Made me sorry I've only attended WASPish ones to date. Kinda made me sorry I AM so waspish, for that matter.

Zwhatever 6:47 AM  

TEN ACE may not rhyme with menace, but TENACE does.

Medium plus for me, especially in the south. RED CROSS slowed me down, I wrote in Cells off the C. I liked that the tired retired SSTS were used for the start of words instead of the too frequent line of plurals. And I had to check myself at 44A because I've been known to misread the clue number and wondered if I'd done it again. It also took a majority of the crossings before GET OVER IT appeared to me.

I'd put this in the "not at all cringe inducing" category. I didn't cringe once (well, there may have been a little cringe at the RCD, weird suffix that seems like it is just part of the word, short Spanish word triplets, but I'll GET OVER IT).


The Bard 7:26 AM  

Julius Caesar > Act III, scene II

ANTONY: Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

John V 7:28 AM  

Finished with an error. AARONS rod cross with NEALE. Classic Natick.

Milford 7:57 AM  

@Z - holy captcha tally.

Found this a a real mix of super easy cluing, with some really tough answers (AARON'S ROD, hello). I first thought the theme answers were going to be anagrams of team with no "I", but I guess that was pretty close.

Like @Finn, I thought 2D was a little over-Monday clued by adding "in Shakespeare" , but I was feeling that way about a lot of clues today: 22A-"in comedy", 1D-"WWI spy", 46D-"50's political slogan, 51D-"on Sesame Street".

I didn't mind the inconsistencies in the theme answers. I did like that 36D GET OVER IT was clued as "Quit your beefing!" to tie into the theme!

Glimmerglass 8:16 AM  

TENACE (the card term) is pronounced like "tennis" and does rhyme with menace. I've always thought it was a silly term. A tenace is two cards that surround an opponent's card (e.g. AQ, KJ, etc.). Oddly, while ace-queen is a tenace, ace-ten is not. East puzzle, silly theme, it must be Monday.

Sue McC 8:17 AM  

I wasn't crazy about this one...mostly agree with Finn's write-up. I fixated on the top middle section, where AREAL crosses AREAS and REELS. It made my head spin on a Monday morning.

Oh, and THAT'S SO META hasn't reached northern Hartford county yet.

Kevin 8:19 AM  

Most of the grid flew by, but some difficult crosses got me stuck. Never heard of a CALLA lily or Zhou EN LAI. Also never heard of Stiller and MEARA (because I'm not old) or ASSAM - and the ridiculous ATEAT doesn't help there.

I like the revealer though - a more imaginative verb than most similar puzzles than I can recall (i.e. mixtape).

joho 8:28 AM  

I liked it but wasn't crazy about the fact that in LETMEATEM, MEAT wasn't really minced but served in a slab. But the theme was dense and well done making for a really good start to the week. Thanks, Adam!

@Vinn, loved the clip! I also enjoyed your puzzle when it ran.

And, yes, Happy New Year to all of you who celebrate ... Google "rabbi" and "howling dog" if you haven't seen that clip, it's hilarious!

Wreck Sparker 8:50 AM  

Tenace as spoken at definitely doesn't rhyme with menace.

joho 9:06 AM  

Whoops, sorry, make that Finn!

jackj 9:11 AM  

No vegans allowed, as early week specialist Adam Perl gives us seven courses of MEAT, MINCED that is, in all its blue-plate special anagrammed permutations, from META to AT ‘EM, no pink-slime added.

A rather TAME theme but somewhat distinguished by having so many theme entries, all of them interesting (to varying degrees) and at least sufficient by virtue of their quantity to stave off most of the inevitable brickbats and for those who will still feel the need to carp, Adam flat out tells them to GETOVERIT.

The fill had a few nice attractions; MRPEANUT and SYNODS provide a bit of early week tension, as does AARONS rod (that probably would have been friendlier if it had been given a biblical clue, rather than the decorator’s appellation).

There was, of course, a rather large helping of crosswordese used to season the puzzle’s MEAT, but seeing ASSAIL, a 50 cent word meaning “beat the stuffing out of” in the grid was as good as adding a large dose of MSG to pump up the puzzle’s flavor.

Lojman 9:52 AM  

LETMEATEM: the carnovore's delight!

It's like something that Man vs Food guy would eat!

Loren Muse Smith 10:03 AM  

@Finn – worried about being so worried? That’s so meta. Not in-the-language for me, but I’m going to give it a go. I like it!

Fine Monday in my opinion. Even though anagrams don’t really float my boat, this was perfectly entertaining. I think it would have been even better without the stars, kind of sneaking in META and ATME.

I dnf owing to the NEeLE/AeRON cross, which worked just fine for me.

Whenever I’m playing around on Crossword Compiler, I immediately dismiss grids with theme answers even partially stacked. So, nice one, Adam!

@Evan – two notes in my margin: 1)CALLA/CALL cross

The filled grid kind of looks like lots of other entries and their anagrams.

Never can tell if it’s going to be “loo” or LAV.


Didn’t BASIL Rathbone and Peter LORRE play in a couple of movies together? Liked GET OVER IT and MR PEANUT!

Thanks, Adam. AMANA get to work now.

Sandy K 10:25 AM  

I thought this was fine Monday fare. What's wrong with MINCEMEAT? (must be some vegans here)

META, asparTAME, lemmeATEM, theresnoiinTEAM, checkMATE, revealer, and ATME.


Katherine Hepburn famous line-
"The calla lilies are in bloom..."

Two Ponies 10:29 AM  

I liked this just fine. It is Monday after all.
As a few others said, the cross of Aarons/Neale was a speed bump in a smooth solve.
"That's so meta" is not part of my vocabulary, probably never will be.
Thanks to whoever took the time to check the validity of -oon as a suffix. We have hashed it over before but I don't think we Googled it. So, is it a suffix for any other words?

Sandy K 10:36 AM  


Sorry to repeat your vegan reference, but got held up by the capchas and did not see your post...

hazel 11:11 AM  

Isn't Zora NEALE thurston kind of an old crossword friend? I feel like i've filled her name in a thousand times - could be i'm just that familiar with her, and i just think i've bumped into her in xwds?

Anyway, i thought this puzzle fit the bill, and was a peppy solve. Never had a mincemeat pie.

@finn - i watched the vedeo too. did you win the competition???

Bob Kerfuffle 11:13 AM  

Good Monday puzz, IMHO.

One write-over: 40 D, REDCELLS before REDCROSS.

As someone who can with difficulty solve puzzles but could never construct one, I'll casually offer this suggestion: When ACME and Finn re-work this theme, include the diagonal answer META METAMORPHOSES as the revealer.

Carola 11:22 AM  

My reaction to the puzzle was "Wow, super Monday!" I thought the theme answers were clever and that much of the rest was original (CLARA Barton, CALLA lily, MR. PEANUT and others.)

I liked the "fightin'" aspect of the theme - "LEMME AT 'EM, I'll make MINCEMEAT out of 'em!" + team sports + chess with its PLAYER. ARES is there for when the fighting gets really rough.

@glimmerglass - Thanks for explaining TENACE. I took it as a card combo.

Thank you, Adam Perl, for an unusually fun Monday.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Bridge player combo or 1972 MVP. Go, Fiore Gino!

chefbea 12:05 PM  

Wasn't around this guests so no time for puzzles. Did today's but no time to stick around. I'll be back on schedule tomorrow

jberg 12:12 PM  

Two days in a row with BASIL - on Sunday, pesto part; today, pesto ingredient. "He played Sherlock" would have been better, and not too hard for a Monday - otherwise something about conquering Bulgaria.

Like @Bob_kerfuffle, I had RED CellS before CROSS, but old Peter LORRE fixed that.

For those who don't know CALLAs, google Frieda Kahlo, and look at a random painting. If it has flowers in it, they are probably calla lilies.

I agree that the theme could have been tighter, but otherwise the puzzle was fun, and certainly easy!

Carola 12:32 PM  

@Two Ponies -

Your question made me curious. Here's what I found in the Oxford English Dictionary under the entry "-oon, suffix":

An element occurring in loanwords, mainly from French, from the 16th to the 18th cent. Many of these French words are themselves borrowings of Italian or Spanish augmentatives, e.g. balloon, poltroon, cartoon, festoon, while a few are native French derivatives, as harpoon, platoon; on the pattern of such borrowings, a few Spanish words in -ón have also appeared with -oon in English, e.g picaroon, ratoon. But the -on element of the French etymons can be of various other origins, as in dragoon, galloon, shalloon, and hence -oon is not strictly a word-forming element in English, although there are a few English formations in which it occurs, notably spittoon; also the rare octoon. A further entry also cites pontoon.

Unknown to me were picaroon, ratoon, galloon, shalloon. I recognized "poltroon" but wasn't sure I could define it so looked it up: "An utter coward, mean-spirited person, worthless wretch." Great word!

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

i thought it was gonna be a puzzle with no i in it except the sayingabout team...and i think there were no i's in the meat anagram answers.

John V 12:38 PM  

Alternative theme answer, tying to the revealer: Someone found in Queens? A MET.

Just sayin'

Anonymous 1:02 PM  


You probably would've heard of "legendary comedian Jerry Stiller and Ann MEARA..." the parents of Ben Stiller, and

Zhou ENLAI or (Chou En-Lai) the first and longest -serving Premier of Communist China, and

ATE AT and CALLA lilies,

if you were old- or if you did a lot of puzzles!

Keep doing them and MEARA and ENLAI won't be words that ATE AT you!

Two Ponies 1:11 PM  

@ Carola, Thanks. I got curious as well and learned a few things.
Doubloon is an augmentative form of the Spanish coin, doble, used because it had twice the value.
Also, in the harpoon discussion I learned that the first whalers were Basques!

John V 1:16 PM  

OON=Flatbush suffix with HOWYAD.

Three and out.

Sandy K 1:29 PM  

@John V

LOL! I'm from Brooklyn!

dmw 1:41 PM  

Hi Finn, thanks for a fun writeup. One "correction" of sorts: "TEN ACE" is not the bridge players combo, I think, the answer is "TENACE," meaning a broken sequence of honor cards, where the declarer (the player of the hand, to you non-bridge players) usually "finesses", that is, leads up to an A-Q, for example, trying to catch the King or win two tricks with that card combination.

JHC 1:48 PM  

Among my crowd, "That's so meta" is usually used sarcastically, implying contempt for and/or boredom with the vogue for self-reference. Which I suppose, makes "that's so meta"... so meta.

Masked and Anonymo2Us 2:02 PM  

Top ten ace reasons for recussing from blogging a xword puz...

10. Patrick Berry appeared to me in a dream.
9. Someone put alcohol in my beer.
8. Grid had too many wobbly, pink squares. (See also #9)
7. New Zealand export laws.
6. The dogs ate my newspaper. And my laptop.
5. Didn't wanta miss a single Newt Romney ad.
4. If I Perl one, I gotta knit *two*.
3. The rare, but dreaded, MUSIC?/?ARONS crossing.
2. Blat infection.
1. Not enough U's.

Lewis 2:03 PM  

@anoabob -- excellent post!

As someone said earlier, don't get too picky with the theme answers, it's just a Monday for heaven's sakes!

Never heard of Assam tea, so learned something.

mac 2:25 PM  

Perfectly fine Monday, and I saw the clue as lemmeATEM. Did notice the MEAT in the middle, but thought that was a fun twist.

I also got caught by the Aeron/Neele situation, too bad. @Loren, I did finish the puzzle, just had one little square wrong.

Oh, yes, I also started with red cells, but that one was easy to fix.

Sparky 2:32 PM  

This went fast for me. From the first word I assumed a play on "meta" was implied. It's such an in word right now. It can also refer to qualitative changes in something.

Bin before URN my only writeover. @Hazel: Zora Neale Thurston definitely an old friend in Puzzleland. There is no meat in mincemeat pie anymore, but minced is British for cut up very small.

Jerry Stiller all over TV right now and Anne Meara still working,too. Good one, @BobK. I'd like to see that puzzle.

When we had processions at church we carried baskets of small flowers to strew except on Pentecost when we caried one Calla Lily. I don't know why.

You gave me a good Monday start Adam G. Perl. Thanks.

Sparky 2:47 PM  

Watched the video. You are a good sport, Finn. I liked the write up too.

mac 3:03 PM  

Agree with @Sparky!

fvigeland 3:30 PM  

@dmw: I've read "TENACE" as two words all these years. Thanks for setting the record straight. How weird that a combo of the two cards 10/A comes close to being a tenace itself.


TENACE was properly defined (by link) by Z and then at least two others chimed in with also-correct definitions. Have we stopped reading each others' posts before writing?

Nice little Monday. Not quite a pearl, although it is a Perl. The inconsistency in the theme noted by Mr. Vigeland was a bit off-putting.

SACCHARIN before ASPARTAME. Tried THERE IS NO I IN TEAM and found it was one letter to long. Said WTF - what else could it be? When 28D gave me the S in THERE'S, well, D'oh. I hate doing that.....

Thanks, Adam.


sanfranman59 4:13 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Mon 6:30, 6:48, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:54, 3:41, 1.06, 81%, Challenging

"That's so meta" is a revelation to me. It's yet another reminder that I'm now part of an older generation. My Uncle Google returned this story from a recent "All Things Considered".

Like others, I'm surprised that the AARONS/NEALE crossing passed Monday muster. In my experience, NEALE is not uncommon in Crossworld. But I don't recall ever encountering AARONS rod before in the context of room decor.

andrea blueintheface michaels 4:32 PM  

Yes, AARON should have been clued as "Baseball's Hank and, um, some other AARON...whatshisname who wrote "West Wing".

MEAT in lemMEATem is NOT the intended anagram, but as someone said, a sweet surprise. A bonus meat.
LEMMEATEM is simply a great phrase with AT'EM in it.
The META phrase Finn suggested is great, just wouldn't be known on a Monday... and there are no great phrases with TAME (let alone the correct length) so ASPARTAME is as good an entry as any to go with CHECKMATE.
I'd argue till I was blueintheface that this one was balanced and that it is not inconsistent!

You have SIX+, yes SIX+ distinct anagrams of MEAT that you have MINCED in ALL SORTS OF WAYS...
That is variety, non inconsistency!!!
It would be inconsistent if you had four, where three were stand alone and one was not.

For those who anagrams don't float their boat, point taken... but, personally, I think having anagrams is the very essence of word play. To a) notice them, then b) take them and put them in phrases and have a bonus first word and end word is a sterling Monday puzzle. I'm only sorry it was not more appreciated once again! It's the same folks who dis Scrabble as well!

Anagrams in crosswords is a nice mindmeld of Scrabble and Crosswords...which is why, I guess, I'm so PARTIAL to all senses of the word!!!

Too bad MEARA's last name isn't MEATA, will have to save that for a R becomes T puzzle!

Tita 4:50 PM  

I miss reading the comments here! I agree with those who liked the puzzle.
Speaking of anagrams and word games, played Bananagrams in the park with my's an obsession with her. I love the rules she makes up on the fly. For an 89 year old for whom English is a 2nd language, her ability to play, and play well, is remarkable!

Oh - and didn't Marie Antoinette say LETTEMEATMEAT?

Tita 4:51 PM  


jae 4:51 PM  

@Hazel et. al. -- I too have run across Zora Neale Hurston (its Hurston not Thurston) more times than I can recall. Mostly, however, in late week puzzles. I, therefore, humbly retract the comment I made about no Naticks on Mon. a couple of weeks ago. AARONS Rod which was a WTF for me coupled with the somewhat obscure NEALE may well be a legit Natick for early week solvers.

John in Philly 5:31 PM  

Loved the blog comment about Little Italy in the Bronx. When I attended Fordham, back in the "Bronx is Burning" era of the 1970s, a local person once said to me, "Little Italy is five blocks south -- if you make it.....". never forgot those directions!!

Anonymous 5:54 PM  




Zwhatever 6:02 PM  

@Milford - I swear a couple of times the captcha seemed straightforward and I still got it wrong. Again I say that the captcha generating robot can no longer read its own handwriting.

@Wreck Sparker - TENACE has three pronunciations at the Free Dictionary, with something close to "tennis" being the third answer. I've only ever heard the third, but I'm not a big bridge player. Ten-Ace is not a TENACE, and the source is the Spanish for "forceps," suggesting that it is close to "tenacity" in pronunciation, so I'm thinking the "tennis" pronunciation is closer to American English usage. Any top level bridge players out there willing to shed some light on the "proper" pronunciation.

Now, lets see if I can solve the captcha faster than I solved the puzzle.


Miette 6:18 PM  

@Rube: It wasn't plural. It was possesive, as in ownership (i.e. The staff belonged to Aaron).

And AARON's staff was not difficult at all for people familiar with the Bible.

Sparky 6:22 PM  

I see my fingers got ahead of my brain. I should Google before I post. The British call hamburger mince. Minced means cut up in little bits here in the U S of A too. Minced pie did have meat in it at one time. You can still do that if you want but you will have to make your own mincemeat. Thanks @jae for the correction on Hurston.

Plum Pudding has suet, kidney fat, finely minced.

Geometricus 7:08 PM  

Can't believe no one has mentioned the presence of AS
In the clue for I'M AS shocked as you are. Thought that was verboten, Mr. Shortz.

quilter1 7:09 PM  

My grandma's mincemeat had meat. It was kind of gross IMHO. I had problems posting this a.m. I didn't see the theme until I came here, but it is clever and well done. Night, night, all.

jberg 7:44 PM  

If anyone is still wondering why @Rex recused himself, go solve the puzzle on his Facebook page and all will be made clear.

Milford 7:59 PM  

@jberg, yeah I saw that earlier, too. Hmm.

I don't know about you all, but the captcha is starting to throw in words with the panel that used to just have a blurry number. Am I supposed to decipher that, too??

JFC 8:30 PM  

@jberg - I don't do Facebook. So for the sale of us who can't stand FB, Twitter and other social media, please spell it out. Thank you in advance....


sanfranman59 10:11 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:30, 6:48, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:41, 1.04, 71%, Medium-Challenging

retired_chemist 10:17 PM  

@ Z - I was president of the campus bridge club in 1960-61. The pronunciation was like "tennis" and I doubt it has changed in 50+ years.

Zwhatever 11:03 PM  

For non-FBers who wonder why Rex recused.

Thanks @Retired Chemist. I wonder if the Ten Ace pronunciation comes from the Spanish source or from people who think of it as two words. Both of the cited websites' sound files had the Ten Ace pronunciation.


roll up displays 2:17 AM  

I love the whole idea of it all. I think this is one of the better posts that I've read about advertising recently. Thank you for sharing it with us. Great info!

Loren Muse Smith 9:05 AM  

I discovered my trouble with anagrams way before I started crosswords. My non-puzzle husband and I would compete with the Jumble every day. Invariably, he KILLED me; I am (to this day) incapable of rearranging those real-word-looking-Jumble letters to make new words. No idea why.

By the way, your USA GOLD anagram was terrific!!

(The anagram non fans are) “. . . the same folks who dis Scrabble as well!” No! As a family, we play Scrabble all the time – living room has a dictionary that my husband insists we use (hence no “google,” ”phish,” “app,” “dis,” etc.), an egg timer for slow husband, designated floor spots for everyone. . . I love Scrabble. – I just have to keep my vowels and consonants completely separate.

I appreciate the sentiment that an anagram puzzle could be the very essence of wordplay in that the trick manipulates the words themselves, without adding or subtracting letters. “To a) notice them, then b) take them and put them in phrases . . .” I would argue that other tricks accomplish the same thing and *for me* are just more, er, buoyant: parsing a phrase differently (TANKING, THUMBSCREW), having identical words with different pronunciations (SEWER SEWER), having homophones (TRIPOLI TRIPLE E), and just over-the-top cluing (PUT A CORK IN IT) – these manipulations are all accomplished, like anagrams, with only the letters in question.

When I sit down to solve a puzzle, I feel a bit crestfallen when I

1) see “Quip, part 1” (Matt Ginsberg, you sneak, you)
2) see that the theme involves anagrams
3) see that it’s a vowel progression

Before this blog, I probably wouldn’t have finished such works, but I do now have an appreciation of them and have learned that the serendipitous crosses, fun pairs sharing a grid, and lively fill are all worth it.

Hey – à chacun son goût! I can remember vividly staring at my linguistics students, so surprised that they weren’t as taken with those Athabaskan morphemes as I was – seeing the biology major leave the room at the end of class, grateful to have said morphemes done with, undoubtedly headed for his carrel in the library where he would breathe in the beauty of the Kreb Cycle.

Medusa 9:39 AM  


Maybe you're referring to Diego Rivera's portrait of Frida Kahlo (Nude with Calla Lilies)? But Kahlo herself wasn't noted for paintings of flowers -- that's Georgia O'Keefe.

Ed 12:14 AM  

Good for a Monday. However, 23A - WRONG. Twain did not say that; it's a miss attribution. I guess, sadly, the NYT crossword will not be dictated by fact-checkers.

I expect better.

Ed 12:16 AM  

Damn iPad. "Misattribution."

Spacecraft 11:47 AM  

Some here seem to misunderstand TENACE (direct from the Latin "tenere," to hold). In bridge, a tenace can be any two cards with a 1-3 power gap "in position," as they say in poker. Thus, if any two of the picture cards have already been played, A-10 becomes a tenace. it "holds" power over the intervening card because of position (i.e., being able to play AFTER it).

@Ed: you did not mention the correct source for the "lie" quote: Charles Haddon Spurgeon in 1885. There is still some doubt, though, as to whether Twain quoted him, or vice versa. Twain did, in fact, use this saying, though he tweaked the ending "gets its boots on."

To the puzz. The theme stayed pretty well hidden for me till the reveal, though I felt like a dope when I saw it. I guess I'd been concentrating too much on the beginnings of the theme answers, when all the action was taking place at the end. I agree that LEMMEATEM was overkill; there's MEAT--in order--right in the middle.

Hand up for the REDCellS writeover.

Despite good long downs, the fill in this seems...impatient, as if Mr. Perl had a deadline to meet. The block of down 3's in the middle is awful, yet I don't know how I'd tweak it. You know: those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who don't want to bother teaching, criticize.

rain forest 12:24 PM  

5 weeks later...just want to interrupt the "let's find out what is wrong with this puzzle" fest, to say that I thought it was pretty good, and fun to solve. I don't care what Finn might have done--he didn't, and the puzzle we solved was just fine. Good start to the week, in my opinion.

Ginger 1:54 PM  

Fun Monday. Took quite a while to get the theme even after I'd finished, then AHA. Haven't had a mincemeat pie in years, and now my appetite is whetted. With rum sauce, yum.

Callas are great in arrangements; I like to use their large glossy leaves as an off-set.

@Z thanks for the link to Rex' puzzle. Five weeks later it's not likely still available on FB.

Solving in Seattle 7:30 PM  

My grandmother tried to get me to eat MINCEMEAT pie. YUK!

I, too, enjoyed Mr. Peri's puz. Learned what an AARONS rod is.

To those who have not read @Anoa Bob's post at 2:17, go back and read it. I laughed out loud.

It's rainin' in the Pacific NW now after 3 solid months of sunshine. Next stop here for the sun, mid-2013.

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