Limestone variety / SUN 1-13-13 / Knee-length hip-hop shirts / Steamed bun in Chinese cookery / Worshiper with a pentagram / Women's suffrage leader Carrie Chapman / Poison hemlock Queen Anne's lace

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Magic Square" — isolated 3x3 grid in the center of the puzzle is a magic square, a concept which is defined by the puzzle's core theme answer

119A: With 98-Across, 34-Down and 48-Down, what each line in the center square should do (ADD UP TO FIFTEEN / HORIZONTALLY / VERTICALLY / DIAGONALLY)

Bonus theme answer: MATHEMATICAL (36A: Like magic squares)

Word of the Day: TALL TEES (78A: Knee-length hip-hop shirts) —
[clue is about the best definition I can find]
• • •

Congrats to Liz Gorski on her 200th NYT puzzle!

Love this non-standard grid and the non-standard numerals inside it. Once you grok the concept, though, it's Phenomenally easy. Once you've got a few of the numbers filled in, you can deduce the others, and since the others are actual answers in the grid, much of the grid just fills itself in (down to the adverbs in the main theme answer). So it's clever and surprising, but not in a way that increases the challenge. This isn't to say I didn't struggle here and there with the fill (which is mostly quite nice). Didn't know where to put OSHA and where to put whatever the other one was at 2D: Workplace welfare org. and 3D: Workplace rights org. I knew one of them was OSHA, but the only other initialism I could think of was NTSB, so I needed crosses to get NLRB. Hesitated for quite a bit until BIENNIAL came into view (54A: Poison hemlock or Queen Anne's lace)—figured that [Hitch] was RUB, but thought it might also be RUN ... can you get a "hitch" in your stockings? Y LEVEL nearly crushed me, as I didn't parse it right at first (one word???) and then thought the Mercedes were SES, giving me Y LEVEE ... also considered Y LEVER, since a lever is a tool, but there aren't Mercedes SRS, are there. In the end, I figured that since there were other better clues for both SES and SRS, SLS had to be right. Had WOW where OOH was supposed to go, and had Noooo idea what OOLITE was (22A: Limestone variety). But I'm happy to learn the word because it means I'll have a good rhyme ready when I finally get around to writing that limerick about OOCYTEs. As for other hang-ups—there were none.

There were some very cool answers I'd never seen in a grid before. I've seen TALL TEES before, but didn't know they had a name (until now) (78A: Knee-length hip-hop shirts). I've eaten many a [Steamed bun in Chinese cookery], but either never learned or forgot that such a bun is called a BAO. And [Start of an agreement that's not really an agreement] is a great way to clue the partial-yet-somehow-also-self-standing "YES, BUT ..." Can't say I've seen many SATANISTs in puzzles before (84D: Worshiper with a pentagram)—that was interesting. So was the LOWISH bidding at 122A: Like some unexciting bids. The grid features of cavalcade of crossword characters, none of them real Crosswordese but all of them fairly common to crosswords—people like Peter O'TOOLE and Frank CAPRRA and Carrie Chapman CATT and ATHOL Fugard and Ilie NASTASE (who appears here in his less crosswordesey last-name form) (126A: Tennis Hall-of-Famer born in Bucharest). Lastly, I enjoyed REAR EXIT (70A: Back door), both for its originality and its hidden "REX." It's like Liz is waving at me.

See you tomorrow,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


retired_chemist 12:14 AM  

Easy. A few writeovers as usual, and a couple of new words that Rex mentioned. Fun to solve.

Thanks, Ms. Gorski.

6 tries at teh captcha. Are they getting nastier?"

Dan 12:19 AM  

Dislike: TATI/ATHOL crossing

Like: Mother TERESA/SATANIST crossing

Dick Buttkiss 12:31 AM  

Dislike: OOH/ATHOL crossing. Why, you may ask. Well, since you asked, since when did football players start wearing hip-huggers? Because, you know, sometimes these get pulled on during the course of a game, leaving their butts exposed for all to see. Then the juveniles in the audience say OOH, ATHOL on the air!

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

First and foremost: Awesome Gorski crossword; theme and execution. No getting around that it was easy to get and then easy solve all the theme stuff. But so what? It's a great idea done as well as it could be done. (Couldn't help but think of Dan Brown's 'The Lost Symbol' the whole time.)

Awesome seems to be her minimum standard. Reminds me of a phrase that I've used for years (though I didn't write it) --- "Perfection is our goal. Excellence is acceptable."

I thought the quality of the cluing varied wildly, though. There were a number of clues that I marked as outstanding. There were also quite a lot of clues that I marked as being pretty poor.

Second: On the download page, I was screwed into printing the second-rate version of the crossword (with the botched clue numbers). No mention whatsoever that the correct grid is only available by PDF - and no PDF link on that page anyway. WTF. Seriously? They can never ever do simple and obvious things correctly? Really? (And the NYT 'upgrade' can't handle this puzzle correctly either?)

Sure, the blog mentions the problem, but who the f... goes to the blog first? Not me. I only occasionally go there anyway. Not surprisingly, the post is always a puff piece, not worth the read. And for observations and insights, you come here.

This one felt slow. Steady - but slow - the whole way through. And yet, when it was done my time (for me) was excellent. Very strange.

NE was last to fall - STOICS crossing OOLITE and TCU. I was torn between N and T for OOLITE, so much associating -ITE with 'metal' and -INE as more 'minerally' and really seriously wanting the N. Only because I kept looking for what S?OI?S could be did I suddenly see STOICS and knew that it had to be correct. (Was wondering about the choice between TCU and TSU.)

Finished grid. (1:06:04)

Anonymous 12:36 AM  

I so wanted to finish this with a good time because it was fun and I 'got' it right away. But, it was not to be. I DNF because of a tappo I just could not find. (Doing Sunday puzzle on an iPhone is challenging.) Had to come here to discover I had YLEVER/SRS.

Congratulations to Ms. Gorsky and thanks! (Didn't she do a lot of "quip" puzzles way back?)

chefwen 1:14 AM  

Easy as rated. Got it done before the disappointing Packer game. @Rube you were right, I'll be rooting for your team for the duration, congrats! Should have taken a bath (inside joke) @Carola - at least the Packer dip was good.

ASLant before aSLOPE at 20A, wOw before oOh at 73A and no exit before DETOUR. Fun puzzle Ms. Gorski, but I wanted to draw on it. Bring me some more cocktail glasses.

jae 1:30 AM  

Delightful breezy Sun. with a twist.  I caught on about a third of the way through and filled in the rest of theme answers, so, easy for me too.

No erasures and only OOLITE and YLEVEL were WOEs. 

16d was the most obscure clue for ULNA I've seen, yet 4 letter bone has got to be... 

Carola 2:01 AM  

Admire the constructing feat - YES, BUT I've enjoyed solving other Elizabeth Gorski's puzzles more, when the themes have been tricker. (And, okay, when there's something to draw.) That said, I did need the EIGHT to open up the NE corner for me, so I can't complain that it was too easy. Anyway, for me it was more fun solving the non-theme parts of this one - plenty to like there.

For the one who's beyond belief, I had atheist before INFIDEL (which pairs better with the IMAM); "heretic" fits the spaces, too, I noticed.

@chefwen - Talk about getting handled! Oof! Glad your dip was good - my planned-on green-theme guacamole never happened due to still-rock-hard avocado, alas.

Evan 4:01 AM  

A few random observations:

1. Maybe I'm mistaken but I don't think the NYT was going for the more salacious meaning of HOOKS UP. I figured they meant "setting someone up with someone else," which I guess is why they needed a question mark on the clue. But if you're in college and you randomly HOOK UP with someone at a party....well, that's a love connection in its own way.

2. I misread the clue for LOWISH as "Like some unexciting biRds." Didn't question it and got it through the crosses anyway.

3. I don't usually notice the bleed-overs that @acme and others mention, but RIBCAGES carried over from the other day.

4. Looks like the dead tree version and the Across Lite version have different clue numbers after the magic square in the middle. Can't Across Lite be programmed to ignore starting numbers in special squares like that?

evil doug 4:01 AM  

Right across the equator: "In flight, rear exit" is the D.B. Cooper extortion/skyjacking story in a nutshell.

And I'd find one's name hidden in 'rear exit' to be rather vivid in its excretive imagery; are you sure Ms. Gorski isn't sending you a different message than a 'wave'?


paulsfo 4:49 AM  

Worked a 14-hour day yesterday, and this puzzle was even more fun than that.

I liked the "revolutionary figure" clue (after I got it).

Didn't know BONGOS were a salsa instrument, so I looked it up and found this interesting list:
Typical instruments
piano, bongos, conga, timbales, trumpet, trombone, claves, cowbell, maracas, güiro, double bass/bass guitar, flute, saxophone, vibraphone, violin, tres/cuatro

Loren Muse Smith 8:00 AM  

No surprises here. Elegant, elegant, elegant.


IMAM and SAHIB, painted NUDEs and TULIPS, singers PERCY, CELINE, ARLO. . .

And did you notice KEEP right next to SAVE?

@Evan – I smiled at the RIBCAGE bleedover.

Beautiful puzzle, Liz. HAVANA be like you!

Glimmerglass 8:06 AM  

Easy, but entertaining if only to admire the construction. Most puzzlers will have at some time encountered magic squares, even if (like me) they are not particularly excited by numbers. But for the poor words-only puzzlers, this might be a bit of a challenge. @Dan -- thanks for pointing out the TERESA SATANIST encounter.

Nancy 8:42 AM  

The marriage of mathematicians and literati! Good combo-loved it and finshed it!

joho 8:52 AM  

I think it's a real tribute to Liz that her present brilliant puzzles are often compared to her past brilliant puzzles ... they may vary a bit in levels of praise due to trickiness or drawn pictures but they are always referred to as BRILLIANT!

Ms. Gorski, you are quite simply the BEST!

Unknown 9:02 AM  

Super fun and easy, with the exception of the NE corner where BLUESY was elusive and I didn't know OOLITE. I kept running the lyrics to Hound Dog hoping to hit on something, but kept coming up empty. Eventually hit on ULNA and BONGOS and finished the corner. I heart Liz Gorski puzzles!

Horace S. Patoot 9:09 AM  

I think it's a tossup whether TEAL will be clued 'Bluish' or 'Greenish'. Perhaps bluish was too close to bluesy.

Oolites are fun rocks to look at. They resemble a pile of tiny delicate porcelain spheres, but are tough as the dickens to break with a hammer.

jackj 9:41 AM  


OOLITE sounds like part of the theme song for Yale Country Day Care Pre-School for Whiffenpoofs in Training rather than just a crosswordy type of limestone but, it was one of the highlights of Liz Gorski’s 200th Times puzzle.

Putting together a Magic Square puzzle was a neat construct by Liz, as ever, and her command of grid logistics is second to none, but the overall puzzle played second fiddle to the construction, resulting in a somewhat disappointing experience.

Perhaps if the numbers in the groups of three were randomly placed in the grid and/or weren’t clued to tell you where they went in the Magic Square, it would have provided a little bit of a test but having the likes of “Top row”, “Middle row”, “Bottom row” as the clues for the number strings, it resulted in a “no effort required” theme resolution.

Not that there weren’t some nice uses of language to contend with as SLITHER, HOOKSUP, TALLTEES, BRISTLE, BIENNIAL and INFIDEL come quickly to mind.

And, the start of the puzzle with OSHA and NLRB tying in to CONJOB seemed like an introduction to a refreshing cynics look at our federal bureaucracy and I awaited the inevitable replay of the public’s view that Congress was less popular than cockroaches and colonoscopies but, alas, Liz had higher aspirations.

Favorite answer came from the clue “Start of an agreement that’s not really an agreement” for YESBUT; sort of what I might reply to the question “Did you enjoy the puzzle?”. “Yes, but ….”

Congratulations to Ms. Gorski on her Crossword Hall of Fame achievement and I’m sure she hit her 200 home runs without the aid of PEDs!

Tita 9:49 AM  

DNF, Liz!! You and ACME have conspired to give me a struggle these past 2 Sundays...

Did not know _AIMI...alphabet run didn't help - still don't know why Hitch is RUB.

I just love BAO stuffed with pork - ubiquitous in any Chinatown. I always remember that word, because the word for bread is so similar in so many far-flung languages.

Thanks @Dan & @Loren for the combos.

Loved: Road sign that may elicit a groan...(I thought (Koala xing, or some such cutesy-poo homeowner-erected sign);
The snake SLITHERing around the edge of the magic square;
Everything everyone else mentioned.

Small nit with KEEL for Bow attachment - a sprit, maybe a spar... but a keel is ATAD more fundamental, and not an "attachment", which sounds somewhat optional.

This was great fun, and crunchier then expected. Clever to combine two kinds of puzzles in one.
Thank you Ms. Gorski!

billocohoes 10:20 AM  

@Tita -

"rub" = 'hitch' as a snag or problem, at least since Hamlet

To die — to sleep.
To sleep — perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.

John V 10:20 AM  

Me, too, adding congratulations to Ms.Gorski on number 200. Amazing!

Loved the puzzle, the whole concept of it, the execution, the FUN! NE (read OOLITE) as gnarly and last to fall but overall, quite easy.

Thanks, Liz!

Sandy K 10:27 AM  

Congratulations to Ms. Gorski on her achievement! OOH, I'm impressed!

YES BUT, I'm singing the BLUES again- had Y LEVErS and SrS! Gotta get WITH IT!

r.alphbunker 10:29 AM  

Ms. Gorski continues to amaze. This puzzle reminded of an Escher painting of an impossible object. Like @Nancy said it is amazing the she could get the word symmetry and the math to work together.

Noticed that 15 is also the number of columns and rows in most crossword puzzles.

Z 10:40 AM  

Too easy to be great. With EIGHT ONE SIX and VERT------ written in I pretty much knew what 65+ squares were going to be minus a cross or two to establish what was where. This made the puzzle a "fill-in-the-blank" exercise. A little trouble with mixing up Harold RAmis with Sam RAIMI and Y LEVEr crossing some random letter combination (And here I like to complain about RRNs).


@Evan - HOOKS UP with the question mark clue definitely evokes a more Urban Dictionary type of image.

jberg 10:48 AM  

I have to love any puzzle with SLITHER, even it does also have EELY (which I got right away but refused to write in until forced).

I wanted to say 'easy, but a slog.' YES, BUT I can't because I finished with the Y LEVEr/SrS error. Mercedes models are not in my world.

I also wanted NET lOSs at 42A, which I do think is a better anwser - profit and loss are what investors look for.

I keep wondering how this puzzle began - did Ms. Gorski run through possible magic squares until she found two that were the same length when spelled out? Or did she just happen to notice one that worked that way? Either way, a nifty puzzle.

When Endicott Peabody was governor of MA, the joke was that there were two towns in the state named after him, Peabody and Marblehead. Then someone would say, "no, three - you forgot Athol."

Someone should point out that @EVIL is in the grid, too, along with @REX.

chefbea 11:06 AM  

What a Brilliant puzzle. Loved it and found it very easy.

At first I thought it was going to be food related ie-magic squares - you know those yummy bars made out of graham cracker crumbs, sweetened condensed milk chocolate chips etc.

Evan 11:15 AM  


I dunno. When I think of HOOKS UP, I usually think of the Urban Dictionary usage first. If that's what they were going for, then the clue seemed kinda literal to require a question mark -- I don't really see the pun or wordplay there. It's a fun entry either way, so it's not that big of a deal.

lawprof 11:22 AM  

Didn't look at the puzzle's by-line until after I finished and then said to myself, "I shoulda known." Clever, fun, just enough resistance for a Sunday.

Especially enjoyed the juxtaposition of OSHA and NLRB, although I did have EEOC momentarily at 3D. (Employment and Labor Law happen to be my fields).

Other writeovers: Sista/PERCY; ete/MAI; atheist/INFIDEL. Otherwise, pretty breezy once the theme revealed itself.

Milford 11:34 AM  

A fun, easy-breezy Sunday to end a great puzzle week!

My hometown paper was The Kalamazoo GAZETTE(S), so that answer showed the Z in HORIZONTALLY, and the whole theme and the entries and the magic square all fell very quickly after that. Only delay was figuring out if the sums totaled sixTEEN or FIFTEEN.

Amazing that all the actual numbers all fit (in the correct order!) in the grid, but I must admit that I was a little disappointed that we didn't have to solve the magic square ourselves.

First time I've had a google-free Fri-Sat-Sun combo - yay!
I did have an error at BIENNIeL/eTHOL that I had to hunt down, though.

@Anon 12:32 - can I also gently encourage you to adopt a non-Anon handle? FWIW, our times are always very similar.

Congrats to Liz Gorski!

Milford 11:37 AM  

@rex - I think I just got your Magic and Square photo. Good one.

Norm 11:45 AM  

Cute/clever, but sort of humdrum since so much of it filled itself in. Expected more of a challenge when I saw it was a Gorski.

bigsteve46 11:48 AM  

Referring to yesterday's comments on people who time their Xword solving - its clearly the "right" of the individual solver to time or not to time. What confounds me is why the timers would think anybody else would find it of any interest? This applies to a lot of these comments: they are so self-centered that I don't see how anybody else could care about them. One of the problems with internet commenting is the problem with anything that's free. Why not throw something out there? Hence the tsunami of SPAM. If every comment - or email, for that matter - cost a buck, the quality would go way up and the quantity way down. It's the same reason why its almost always a good idea to avoid attending anything that's free - the tidal wave of schnorrers there will drown you!
My rant for the morning ...

Z 12:05 PM  

@Evan - Definitely NBD. I took the "?" as a signifier of something punny or slangy. Nothing punny came to mind so I went with slangy off the H and UP.

@Milford - with EIGHT ONE SIX and FIVE in place I stopped and solved the magic square.

And since we are noting shout outs I see mine in 98A.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

@bigsteve46 - Does the term irony mean anything to you?

Z 12:17 PM  

@bigsteve46 - I don't know why timing is any more confounding in a xword than in, say, a marathon. Sharing the time says something about the solver/runner as well as the constructor/course. I doubt that I will ever solve a Saturday in under 10 minutes any more than I think I will run a Marathon in under three hours. That doesn't mean that I won't find a top runner's time of interest if I ran the same course or that we can't commiserate about the stretch through Natick.

(BTW - I once ran a 15K a longish time ago - but I had to work in Natick)

JFC 12:53 PM  

@Chefwen. My 8 year old Chicago grandson who likes to torment me texted me last night ahead of the game, sending me a picture of himself wearing a cheese head and saying, "Go Packers."


Milford 12:59 PM  

@Z - I did stop also, to solve the number puzzle, but by then I had maybe 5 of the numbers figured out, so it wasn't too hard. Wish I had stopped earlier, I guess.

Also, your running time analogy is spot on. The majority of runners have faster times than me, yet I am not offended or demoralized by other runners' better times. Same goes for crosswords. (Hey, by any chance did you run your 15K at Kensington?)

Love the irony comment, also spot on.

Masked and Anonymo9Us 1:39 PM  

Magic with numbers. Different. Well-constructed. magicthUmbsUp.

Got 2 words for you: Chautisa Yantra. It's a 4x4 that looks kinda like this...

All the rows, columns, diags add up to 34. So do all the 2x2 "U-shaped" sub-squares! Twilight Zoner magical.

Fave word: OOLITE. Amazement for the diet-conscious.
Fave clue: Revolutionary figure, for PLANET.

syndy 1:58 PM  

Yeah Those corners were a little crunchy until I went ahead and filled in the numbers.I dnf because of my lack of Mercedes nominclature-Ylever made sense. I find other peoples' times interesting especially If they clue as how it Falls ie fast for me -average-tuesdaylike etc.I don't time per se but aren't we here to share??

Z 2:07 PM  

@Milford - I ran road races at the same time in my life when I read the Kalamazoo Gazette. Mostly 10Ks (I trained on a route that included Howard Ave from Westnedge to West Main so hills were never an issue for me). The only 15K I ever ran was either at Ft. Custer or in EGR. Now that I've totally bored everyone not from west Michigan and have exceeded three posts - I'm out.

cbj13 2:08 PM  

Hi Rex, long time reader, first time blogger.
In response to your suggestion to put oolite and oocyte in a limerick, I think would be better than if you put them both in a crossword. Here is my attempt. Apology for the scanning:

Oolite, a most obscure noun,
With Oocyte, the cross going down.
I must be emphatic,
Makes such a bad Natick,
Cruciverbs would make you give up your crown

chefbea 2:13 PM  

@cbj13 Welcome. Love your limerick!!! Come around more often.

M and A II 4:09 PM  

Another fave clue: Leaves out of the bag? = LOOSETEA.

@cbj13: Primo limerick for OOLITE. Good for U. Need one, now, for LOOSETEA.

chefwen 4:19 PM  

@EVIL DOUG - If you haven't already done it, I think you would enjoy the L.A. Times Gail Grabowski puzzle.

@JFC - Your delicious Garrett's Popcorn helped me to survive that debacle. Thanks again.

paulsfo 4:19 PM  

@M and A:

Sorry but...

I write limericks for a fee
A passion I practice with glee
But with words so erratic
You might say I'm Naticked
There simply aren't rhymes for LOOSETEA

chefwen 4:21 PM  

@paulsfo - That was terrific!

retired_chemist 4:25 PM  

Cool limericks, even if the rhymes involving Natick are a stretch.

chefbea 4:31 PM  

@paulsfo what chefwen said...all chefs think alike

paulsfo 4:49 PM  

just for you :) (and my third post):

Limericks I pen for a fee
A passion I practice with glee
But though I'm fanatic
I'm stuck (ala Natick)
There simply aren't rhymes for LOOSETEA

M and A III 4:54 PM  

@paulsfo: har.

Howbout also...

There once was a gal from Poughkeepsie,
Who offered her favors duty free.
When Joe asked for oolong
She came on really strong
To offer him her very best LOOSE TEA.

Oolong was as close as I could get to OOLITE. Sorry.

Goose Gossage 5:09 PM  

For M&A with a lookback to yesterday's puzzle, as well:

I'm the pitcher, to friends, known as Goosey,
But to fans I am simply Goose G,
I'm loose as a goose,
To the dismay of all youse,
A problem brought 'bout by LOOSETEA!


retired_chemist 5:33 PM  

Ummm - it's NAY'tick, not NAT'tick. Long A. Hence my nitpick about the rhyme.

Joe The Juggler 5:39 PM  

"There simply aren't rhymes for LOOSETEA"

I dunno. . once when building a structure for a public execution, I used my Y LEVEL to build a NOOSE TEE.

Anonymous 5:43 PM  

I had never heard of OOLITE, but I grew up in southern Indiana and used to play baseball in a small quarry town called Oolitic. When I realized the answer from crosses it made me a little nostalgic.

mac 5:44 PM  

Wow, we're having fun!
Wonderful, easy puzzle, in which I had the same problems Rex had, and I also solved them by filling in the quare and transferring the numbers. That eight helped a lot!

That said, I was staring and staring at the partially filled 23A before I got it.

Never saw the Monet with tulips, will check it out.

Congratulations, Liz! More, please.

Garth 5:48 PM  

"There simply aren't rhymes for LOOSETEA"

How about "Bruce Lee?"

chefbea 6:00 PM  

@Garth how 'bout Chefbea

sanfranman59 6:04 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 7:19, 6:12, 1.18, 98%, Challenging (5th highest ratio of 160 Mondays)
Tue 9:58, 8:37, 1.16, 83%, Challenging
Wed 7:49, 11:52, 0.66, 1%, Easy (lowest ratio of 159 Wednesdays)
Thu 20:13, 17:05, 1.18, 81%, Challenging
Fri 16:35, 20:49, 0.80, 14%, Easy
Sat 21:03, 24:18, 0.87, 21%, Easy-Medium
Sun 27:34, 29:41, 0.93, 42%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:09, 3:39, 1.14, 94%, Challenging
Tue 5:49, 4:57, 1.18, 86%, Challenging
Wed 4:37, 6:34, 0.70, 1%, Easy (lowest ratio of 159 Wednesdays)
Thu 11:59, 9:34, 1.25, 84%, Challenging
Fri 8:54, 11:47, 0.76, 11%, Easy
Sat 12:34, 14:21, 0.88, 29%, Easy-Medium
Sun 19:07, 19:57, 0.96, 41%, Medium

Rube 6:11 PM  

It looks like we have several aspiring Robert Services in the crowd.

This was a medium puzzle for me until the theme became clear, then it got really easy.

I know of a "Dumpy Level", but had not heard of a YLEVEL. Turns out, the easier to use Dumpy replaced the YLEVEL sometime in the mid 19th century, per Wikipedia. (Only an engineer would get excited about this.)

@Chefwen, my commiserations, but it had to be.

John V 6:28 PM  

Someone (can't find who just now) pointed out that 15 is the number of rows and columns in a daily puzzle. So, is the meta-theme, for Liz's 200th that crossword puzzles are indeed "Magic Squares"? Maybe I'm over thinking this, but could be, no? Madame Constructor?

Sparky 6:34 PM  

YES, BUT. Did not have an Ah hah moment, had an Oh, Rats moment. All everyone said above, but not for me. Sorry 'bout that.

@John V, sounds good. Crossed my mind during the solve. Very happy for Liz on her 200th.

Goose Gossage 7:34 PM  

A puzzle containing LOOSETEA,
Was appreciated by chefbea,
Everyone wondered
If number two hundred
Was magical for Liz Gorski!

chefbea 7:45 PM  

@goose gossage that was great.

Have been trying to think of a limerick with me
and using chef wen and the other chef bea
But you came up with the best one by far
So to you I say...a hardy har har.

Goose Gossage 9:13 PM  

Thanks chefbea! For you:

Another foray of the pen,
Recalls chefbea's treats once again:
Magic squares of Graham Crackers
Could not save the Packers,
I'm sorry to say to chefwen!

Three and out!

Anonymous 10:00 PM  

Please excuse my venting. I thought this was THE WORST SUNDAY PUZZLE EVER. Couldn't get a toehold anywhere. Far too many obscure proper names and facts.
Not at all fun. I'm annoyed.
I don't understand all the postive comments. Guess I'm still too much of a puzzle newbie.

michael 11:19 PM  

A very impressive construction -- though almost to be expected from Liz Gorski. Like most of you, I found this very easy. But that's because we all seem to know what a magic square is. I wonder how common this knowledge is among the general community of Sunday puzzle-solvers. I'm sure that the percentage of people in the general public who know about magic squares is low -- I would guess under 1 percent for adults.

Anonymous 11:40 PM  

my puzzle after 59 across was way wrong on the numbering of clues. they numbered the first, second and third boxes of the top row of the magic box...making the numbering all wrong - how does this happen?

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

winder spartan: I also struggled in starting, then got rolling when Nita Naldi and others started coming together. I confess that it took me until a reader's comment before I got the "revolutionary" planet clue. Easy after slow start but a fun and marvelous construction.

Peter Sherwood 1:01 AM  

I first thought 62A Winging it was "on the fly." I liked that.

rain forest 1:54 AM  

Once it was clear that numbers were involved, this puzzle became quite easy, and that's not so bad on a Sunday. This puzzle comes close to what I think a Sunday should be. Mind you, we don't want a flurry of mathematically-themed puzzles coming at us. And, aside from ASLOPE, there was no junk of any kind in this puzzle.

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

How did you figure out what numbers go in the magic square? And why are the clue numbers different in my copy? (Mine doesn't have any clues that go with the magic square.)

Spacecraft 11:43 AM  

Easy-medium for me; the NE was a little recalcitrant but the only "numbers" left by then were 816. "Duh!" moment: me trying to thnk of the Belmonts' Dion's last name (I now think it was something like Dimucci) before finally realizing we were talking about CELINE.

Nice one. There has to be some give in the fill--ISAT, SLS, PDFS neighboring PDA--but overall not too bad. ASLOPE is one of those "Who says that?" words, but legit. Loved BLUESY, SNOOTY, RIBCAGE. Don't know what a YLEVEL is; if you make it YLEVOL its' LOVELY backwards. TALLTEES is fine, if we could lose the hiphop reference. A typically well-done Gorski.

Z 12:15 PM  

@anon 8:32 a.m. - The sums in every direction add up to the same number and every digit is used once in a magic square. Once you get a full row or column from the solve you can pretty much solve the whole magic square.

Dirigonzo 4:35 PM  

Central theme was easy but I struggled around the periphery due to early mistakes: ditch-digging was wOrk instead of TOIL, I had Hollywood in cal instead of FLA, net gain, net lOSs, net COST - you get the idea. And I the only one who tops his pizza with SpinAch - really?! In the end finished with the same OWS as others, none of my friends drive Mercedes (nor do they drive Porches,as Janis Joplin famously sang).

(spoiler alert: if you are going to do the Premier Crossword today do not read any further)
Speaking of shout-outs as several did, our very own @spacecraft has a huge one in Frank Longo's Premier Crossword today - the long theme answer in the very center of the grid is SPACECRAFTREVOLVING. It doesn't get any better than that!

Spacecraft 5:35 PM  

Well, at least I'm Evolving...can't Revolve more than a time and a half before I get so dizzy I can't stand up. Thanks, @Diri.

Bruce Small 11:28 PM  

Oolite was an easy one for me because I worked road construction in South Florida, where Miami Oolite is standard for a road bed. However, as an older land surveyor who has used (and adjusted) one, I assure you it is a Wye level.

Anonymous 11:44 PM  

thanks for share...

Glenn Westmore 11:52 AM  

A Diabolic Magic Square has the additional property of the magic sum along each of its broken diagonals. Curiously, we can construct a Diabolic Magic Square from a Graeco Latin Square! Read more about it on my blog:

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