Flaming Gorge locale / THU 1-9-14 / Lucy title character in Sir Walter Scott's Bride of Lammermoor / Richard War Zone Diary journalist / Rock Roll Hall of Fame inductee with only one Top 40 hit

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Constructor: Caleb Emmons

Relative difficulty: Medium (Easy, but having to do all that mental shifting was time-consuming)

THEME: SAN ANDREAS FAULT (7D: Site of slippage … both geographically and in this puzzle) — the entire grid east of SAN ANDREAS FAULT must be shifted up one square for the crossings to make any sense

[It's possible that BANANA PEEL (21A: You might slip on it) and PATCH OF ICE (48A: You might slip on it), because they involve slipping, are also theme answers, though what they have to do with earthquakes or fault lines, I don't know.]

[Is BREA on the fault? (38A: City in southern California) It's not a very big place, but that might also be a theme answer?]

Word of the Day: Frank ZAPPA (1D: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee with only one Top 40 hit) —
"Valley Girl" is a song by the musician Frank Zappa and his then 14-year-old daughter, Moon Unit Zappa. It was released on Zappa's 1982 album Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch. Moon supplied Frank with much of the content, speaking typical "Valley girl" or "Valspeak" phrases she heard at "parties, bar mitzvahs, and the Galleria".[1] Zappa intended to lampoon the image, but the single popularized the Valley Girl stereotype nationwide.[2][3][4] There was a significant increase in "Valspeak" slang usage, whether ironically spoken or not (not the least of which was the film, Valley Girl). This song was also included in the compilation album Strictly Commercial.
The song was Zappa's only top 40 single in the United States, peaking at #32 in the Billboard Hot 100, although he had charted hits in other parts of the world. It is one of the most unusual Zappa tunes because of how relatively "normal" it is, and is played entirely in 4/4 with the exception of the 7/8 groove at the very end. (wikipedia)

• • •

THE PUZZLE: This is an interesting puzzle, but there's really not a lot to it. You just shift the east half of the grid up one. The end. There are no theme answers except the central one. I'd expect some kind of themeish action to be happening in the NW and SE. Maybe a quake-related word or two? Something? So it's thin. It's well made, otherwise. Fill is clean. PEACH FUZZ is a great answer (3D: Sign of puberty, maybe). It's not as exciting as it wants to be, however, because it's really just an easy themeless that's broken in the middle. I've seen an earthquake-related puzzle done before, and now I can't think of where. I'm waiting to hear back from my friends with better memories. But the existence of other fault line puzzles isn't a knock against this one. The main negative for me, actually, was just the headache of having to continually reimagine, or revisualize, I guess, how the fault-crossing answers worked. There was a significant element of tedium there. This is not to be confused with difficulty, of which this puzzle has very little. The weirdest / most interesting element of the grid is probably the lonely little "T" down there at the bottom (65A: ___-square). One of the few times you're going to see a true one-letter answer in a crossword puzzle.

Picked up the theme at SHINY (15D: Glistening, as Christmas ornaments), or, rather, at MESS (5A: Clutter), or, rather, at the whole north area. Got UTAH and TONI to fit in the grid, but the obvious answers above and below them (MESS and BANANA…, respectively) just didn't fit. I already had SAN ANDREAS FAULT at that point (that answer was transparent), so the first thing I thought was, "oh, right, slippage." The rest of the puzzle was just a matter of making the necessary mental adjustments. What's weird is, before I had any idea what the theme was, when I was still moving through the NW and W, I was thinking "this is a nice grid … can't see the theme yet, but this is really well filled. Ungratuitous Zs. MUTANT (5D: Certain horror film villain). Good stuff." And then there was the theme. Which was fine, but, as I say, obvious, and more annoying than interesting or difficult to work out.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    okanaganer 12:09 AM  

    Yikes! "Medium (easy)..." is a humbling assessment, Rex.
    Figuring out how exactly where the "slip" occurred made my head ache, although I did finally get it.

    However: my error at QUAI / SID (correct answers: QUAY / SYD!!!) was pretty annoying.
    Another at RAPPA / RIPS (correct answers: ZAPPA / ZIPS) was equally annoying.
    Caleb you make my brain ache!

    jae 12:13 AM  

    Easy for me except for the trick, which was both clever and @Rex annoying.  Actually, more annoying than clever.   The trick took a while to figure out but not in a crunchy way.  More in an annoying way (especially since I struggled a bit with spelling SAN ANDREAS).  

    Did I mentioned I thought this was annoying.

    WOE: ASHTON as clued (Kutcher would have been a gimme). Some how I never got around to reading Scott.

    So, pretty much what Rex said, ambitious but there was something about it that was a tad...

    Steve J 12:14 AM  

    Nice idea and well-executed, but agreed that the theme/idea felt quite thin, even if you factor in BANANA PEEL and PATCH OF ICE as theme answers (BREA isn't on the fault; it's roughly 50 miles away).

    My head hurt parsing all the acrosses intersecting the fault (which I felt like caused the grid to shift down, not up, in the east). That indeed got tedious quickly.

    A few bits of nice fill - ZAPPA, PEACH FUZZ, ENZYME - but I felt like the puzzle lost a little something with no real long fill outside the theme answer. Liked the clue for SUBDIVIDE a lot.

    (Rex: Jeff Chen over at Xwordinfo said this puzzle reminded him of an old Acme puzzle. Is that the one you're thinking of?)

    retired_chemist 12:34 AM  

    I liked it. Medium, only because it took me some time to suss out the gimmick. Did that by getting a few crosses and figuring out SAN ANDREAS FAULT. I had UTAH, TONI, SUER, and ELMS, all without the slippage, and that was enough given the clue. Obviously had to go back and "slip" those. But the algorithm and the rest of the slipped answers were now clear.

    Final square was in the SE - 66A was BEaT and BABEa was - at a guess - some biblical city I didn't know. But Mr. Happy Pencil stayed hidden, and BABEa was the most likely error, so I stared at it and soon saw my error.

    Fill was good, the T of 65A being the most interesting. RH(ESUS) factor - cute. pier before QUAY, prime before CUBED.

    Nice one, Mr,. Emmons. Thanks.

    Questinia 12:35 AM  

    So, this puzzle has some zip, one piece of crunch (RHESUS) and engages in some scrabblef-ing but not enough to make the earth move.

    Knew something was amiss at MESS and when the puzzle began to look like my closet.
    It reminded me a bit of that vertiginous hurricane-themed puzzle which I also did on an iPad on a rollicking late train out of NYC.

    First thought the "missing s" in MESS had slipped on the "black ice" of the black square (landing who knows where) until I got SAN ANDREAS FAULT as my fifth entry and got the theme. Otherwise would have expected 7D to have been POLAR VORTEX.

    I imagine RHESUS would be difficult for many as it is generally known as Rh Factor.

    Fun puzzle.

    Anonymous 12:47 AM  

    I dunno, but when you have something like 62 squares involved in this puzzle's theme... I wouldn't exactly call the theme thin on the ground.


    ESP 1:16 AM  

    I had every letter in SAN ANDREAS FAULT shifted down one square, with the T at the top, until the very end.

    Somehow it made more sense to me that the shifting would occur in that column.

    chefwen 1:17 AM  

    I need a Tylenol. San Andreas Fault was one of my first fills, but figuring out what and where things were slip slidin' away was as @Rex and @jae said, both tedious and annoying. I do look forward to Thursday puzzles, maybe next week.

    I loved PEACH FUZZ. How about a nice PEACH TORTE?

    Carola 1:45 AM  

    Liked it very much - found it fun to work out how the words were broken across the fault line. It took a while for me to see SAN ANDREAS FAULT, though, as my first thought for the site of slippage was "tectonic plates," which I kept trying to make work somehow. Finally gained solid footing in the ELMS, SUER, RATE area and saw the FAULT.

    Is (sure-)FOOTED an "anti-theme" answer? - it meets the FAULT but doesn't slip.

    Knowing the opera "Lucia di Lammermoor" helped me with ASHTON. Don't want to SAY how long it took me to PARSE the Scrabble champ NOONE. Liked ZIPS, SPED, MACH ONE, spies with their INTEL and CODE.

    Anoa Bob 2:45 AM  

    If I understand my plate tectonics correctly, the SAN ANDREAS FAULT is a section where the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate meet and, thank you Simon Winchester (highly recommended), where they have a lateral slip action.

    The slippage is to the north for the Pacific Plate and to the south for the North American Plate.

    Unless I'm missing something (an ever increasing possibility). the puzzle is bassackwards. It shows a shift to the north for the eastern North American Plate. (And no slippage at all for the western Pacific Plate.)

    In addition, I think I'm seeing the purported shift in the grid as being represented only in one column (15D and below) rather than occurring in the entire eastern Plate as it normally would and correspondingly in the entire eastern part of the grid.

    This one sent me into a jabberwocky tail spin and I'm hoping that, with the brain power I see regularly displayed on this comment board, someone can set me straight.

    retired_chemist 2:56 AM  

    @ Anoa Bob - Interesting. I would not have looked at it with such an eye for detail. Now that you bring it up, though, it seems to me that the E is shifted downward (i.e. to the south). The final S in MESS is below (S of) the rest of the word.And so forth.....

    Unknown 2:59 AM  

    I had Earthquake Fault where San Andreas Fault was supposed to be, I originally figured the theme was moving answers up or down, but with the wrong down answer couldn't figure it out. I finally got the right answer with Mess/Shiny.

    The two letter runs gave me a clue right off that something was up.

    andrea carla michaels 3:29 AM  

    Yes, this is the theme of my first puzzle for the NYT, June 2000.


    (It was, surprise, a Monday!)

    I have often mentioned this very puzzle on this very blog, as it was my very first (and what I consider to be my most original)

    No surprise @Rex can't remember (or is blocking me out), but I'm sort of bummed that Will has!

    This puzzle was clearly made without knowledge of mine, but Caleb could have been alerted that it's been done...
    SANANDREASFAULT is definitely marked as a theme in the cruciverb database, even tho you can't tell that the original grid was all bumpy and funky-looking.

    Mine was a simple Monday theme:


    BUT I had asked Will to put a little tear in it to look like an earthquake had gone thru it.

    Will raised a few of the middle column squares up a quarter and lowered others...
    Sadly, the fun effect didn't show up on line then...still doesn't!

    Even back in 2000, before folks solved online, many thought the puzzle was somehow misprinted bec it wasn't a perfect square.

    I received a nice letter from Manny Nosowsky congratulating me on literally "thinking outside the box" which is what spurred me on to construct others.

    In the end, I guess it's moot

    a) it's been 14 yrs (tho same publication)

    b) this one is new to 99% of the solvers as there is so little overlap between Monday and Thursday solvers

    I suppose I should be flattered!

    MetaRex 7:28 AM  

    Thx much to @Anoa Bob for geological enlightenment...

    To me the opposite seemed clear, namely that the eastern plate had shifted to the south...

    One explanation of the split...

    If ya see pre-quake CA as all in a row and nicely aligned, the eastern plate has shifted to the S...if ya see it before the crack-up as misaligned and then after the crack-up as in harmony, then the east has moved N.

    Or...it depends on whether ya look at it from the rock point of view or the people point of view...possibly those of us like @Anoa who shift to the rock point of view are the suppler, speedier CW denizens compared to those of us who remain locked in our people-centered ruts...

    Loren Muse Smith 7:46 AM  

    I feel like I'm back squinting my eyes and trying to see St. Anselm's argument again. I finished. Every square. I read Rex' write up. I read the other smattering of comments. I went where I never go before I post a comment – to Amy and then to XWord Info. And I'm hardly any closer to sewing up my understanding. Of course I saw that acrosses were bending down across the fault. But I take it that it's only that 9th column that has shifted down? So when you "step down" to get MESS, UTAH, TONI. . .where does that leave NNAPEEL, ATMSBROAD, BRELO, and RAICE? Talk about MORSE CODE and BABEL!

    Early on, I was stunned when I saw the two-letter 31A and 43A. I've come across this phenomenon *many, many* times - I'm happily well into filling the grid of a potential masterpiece, a grid courtesy of Crossword Compiler that I tweaked here and there to fit my needs, only to notice that I have 2 or 4 two-letter blanks in the grid. So my initial reaction was "oops." Then, "Cool!" And confidently put AR in the first blank and LO in the second.

    I had "prime" beef and number first. CUBED is much better and reminds us of that RADICAL sign. (When my son was very young, he would panic and ask how he could be sure I was his real mom and not just a monster with a mom mask on - I guess at this point I should look back and wonder how I was behaving to elicit such a question! - I would immediately say, "Ask me a question about you." And he would say really fast, "What's my favorite food?" And I would answer quickly, "Chicken with Bar-B-CUBE sauce." He called it that for years percause all kids have their funny takes on words. We had a pet Kermit Crab for a while.)

    "Cutter" before MUTANT, thinking, "Wow. People will whine about *that* one over their breakfast."

    Liked OOZE crossing BOOS, SPED and MACH ONE, PARSE again to confuse us smack dab next to A ROSE.

    @Questinia -"First thought the "missing s" in MESS had slipped on the "black ice" of the black square (landing who knows where)" That was my biggest problem in the beginning: I was certain that it was PATCH OF (black) ICE, and all the black squares up and down the FAULT would work that way – some kind of "black" something. (Hey – did you get you some crunchy okonomiyaki yesterday? – dai suki desu, nee!)

    @Questinia again - "I imagine RHESUS would be difficult for many as it is generally known as Rh Factor." Do what? Come again? As in Resident Hayseed FACTOR? Yup. Guilty as charged. Must be some kind of science term I'll google later *after* I've ESSENed a TORTE, a BANANA PEEL, and some TATER Tots to sooth this solver's soul.

    DIRGE. Hmmm. Urge, emerge, scourge. That IRGE is weird. And I don't want a DIRGE at my service – play this instead

    worth watching to the end

    Andrea!! You have a blue name and a great avatar! Love your website and all those names!

    This is the first time I've completed a puzzle and felt like I'd been BELTED, DRUBbed (hunh??) and CUBED into an OOZE of BABEL.

    All of you seem to get the finished product; I feel like a kid outside peering in the window between my cupped hands and watching all the fun. So my question is (and I printed out a blank puzzle to suss this out and still can't get it) – what happens to the 10-15 columns after you shift?

    @Anoa Bob - "This one sent me into a jabberwocky tail spin and I'm hoping that, with the brain power I see regularly displayed on this comment board, someone can set me straight." Let me come stand next to you.

    Caleb – this is a puzzle right up my alley, exactly the kind of shenanigan I love. I just wish I had been more INTELligent!

    Nancy in PA 8:09 AM  

    It helps to be RH negative and hence know rhesus---it matters in multiple pregnancies, let me tell you! I didn't find this annoying at all--though I had to write little L shapes in the corners of squares to help and all those Ns in BANANAPEEL and NYET were particularly vexing to place. I used to be a "Monday is too easy" snob so probably missed @ACME's 2000 predecessor. My loss. Around 2009 I started reading this blog and realizing Every Puzzle Has Its Charms.

    r.alphbunker 8:16 AM  

    Paper solvers had the advantage here. They could have cut the puzzle in half and shifted the right side up. People at Puzzazz are probably working frantically on putting that feature in their program as I write this!

    Your debut puzzle was "in the news" a couple of week ago when it was featured in my heatmap demo.

    What I would love to see is an image of the paper version of the puzzle. Could you scan it in and post it here?

    Tita 8:23 AM  

    @okanaganer -me two for ending with rAPPA/rIP!

    For Bagpipe music, maybe, malapopped in noisE instantly.
    My avatar is my stepdaughter surrounded by men wearing kilts (one her brand new husband, another her dad) - there were no pipers - though of course there were plenty everywhere else.
    Bagpipe music evokes marching in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

    Puzzle? Clever! That 2-letter entry made it clear something was up - and down.
    I would not have rememebered our @Acme's puzzle, except that our @r.alph had used it as a counterpoint to OFL's very pointed critique of her most recent puzzle.

    @lms - blackICE makes me shudder - have had 2 very dicey experiences with it.

    This puzzle was way hard for me,in spite of knowing RHESUS, because of lots of pop names that I wasn't sure enough of to confidently understand exactly what the trick was.
    SW was last, hiED made it an iROTO-type, but unlike rAPPA in NW, I did fix the SW.

    ALso liked clue for SUBDIVIDE, and the whole puzzle. THanks Mr. Emmons!

    Mike in DC 8:28 AM  

    The IMES in TIMES almost appears at the top of the puzzle, where MES lives. Yes, it's on the same side of the fault line as the T, but it's still an interesting almost. Or maybe not.

    Loved this puzzle.

    Unknown 8:29 AM  

    Got SANANDREASFAULT up front, but didn't see the shift until TONH Morrisson. Can't say I loved this one. The fill was very easy for a Thursday but once you figure out the shift, sit back and look at the completed grid, all you see is a mess.

    Howard B 8:58 AM  

    Medium for you, Soul-crushing for me. Figured out the theme early but just couldn't piece it together correctly. Depends on your type of intelligence.
    Themes with a visual element (shifting, movement - not anagramming) mess me up - every single time.

    I love how experiences differ so dramatically for each solver, especially on interesting themes such as this.

    Loren Muse Smith 9:08 AM  

    @Howard B, @Anoa Bob, and the rest of us who couldn't piece it together. If you solve on paper, go get those scissors as @r.aplh bunker suggests and cut the puzzle up between the 8th and 9th column and then shift the east up one square. It'll be crystal clear. Sheesh.

    This was really, really cool, Caleb!!

    Sir Hillary 9:08 AM  

    Interesting concept, but this was a bitch if you solved with pen and paper, as I did. Like @ESP 1:16AM, I shifted the entire central column down (with T in square 7) rather than starting at the first column east. This seems perfectly legit until I realized that 65A would have to "slip" upwardsm which made no sense. By that time, crossing the whole central column out seemed a MESS, so I will count this one as being correctly finished mentally but not on paper.

    My overall feeling is one of annoyance. That may be due to my own foibles and perhaps not fair to Mr. Emmons, but it feels like the mistake I made should have been more obvious earlier.

    FearlessKim 9:09 AM  

    One of my favorite moments with this grid was looking at the finished product and seeing AA in the middle! Nice little theme answer, and just in the right place! Thanks, Mr. Emmons!

    Sarah 9:21 AM  

    My brain is still achy. Could NOT get this at all. I had all the fill possible, and the 2-letter clue let me know there was something going on, but I just couldn't figure out what the trick was. Even now, the grid is so illegible and weird that I can't even see how all the clues fit. Chalking it up to a learning experience.

    joho 9:37 AM  

    Yep, this one really MESSed with my brain and made the answers hard for me to see. The "straight" answers like FOOTED were even difficult to figure out. Yikes!

    Time for my Aleve, please.

    Brilliant, Caleb!

    Oh, I loved the lone "T" at 65A: cheeky!

    joho 9:42 AM  

    @Howard B, @Anoa Bob, @loren muse smith ... so now I'm not only drawing on my puzzles I'm cutting them up! Perfect way to see the trick!

    Z 9:43 AM  

    Great Puzzle.

    @ACME - You are the Sir Hillary of earthquake puzzles.

    I have an inky mess that is supposed to represent the N of SHINY/BANANA PEEL. That is where I worked out how the shift was happening. Hand up for prime numbers/beef, rIPS before ZIPS, as well as BABEa before BABEL since BEaT worked fine for "Wallop."

    For those who can't find their scissors or don't want to slice their computer screens, here are the theme answers (with a space at the break):

    MES S
    UTA H
    TON I

    N YET
    AR LO
    BRE A

    RA TE
    SU ER
    EL MS

    With the triple Zs in the NW, this one earns a Two-Hearted Ale Beer-Rating.

    chefbea 9:52 AM  

    Boy what a tough puzzle!!! Couldn't get it!!! @Andrea thanks for showing us the finished east side of the puzzle. Think I'll cut my paper in half to see how it really works

    quilter1 9:56 AM  

    I kind of got what was going on but couldn't quite figure out where things went. Not fun for me.

    RnRGhost57 10:09 AM  

    At first was all BABEL and NOISE, but after much PARSE-ing, it JIBEd.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:36 AM  

    Very clever puzzle, though I solved with a heavy heart remembering ACME's recent comments on how her version (the original one) had been ill-treated.

    Hardest section for me was the NE, where I could only hear the bagpipes DRONE and was almost totally fooled by the Scrabble clue. Also, 9 D could have been SENSE or even MONEY, 11 D was tough, and don't 12 D, womanizers, do more than LEER?

    In the end, finished with no write-overs, an advantage of a puzzle that makes you think very carefully before making an entry.

    Evan 10:50 AM  

    Like many others, it took me a while to suss out how the answers "slipped." It didn't help that I thought 32-Across was just RH, and that the -ESUS were just extra letters tacked on in the same way that -YET was attached to FOOTED. Also didn't help that my first "Security Council veto" was NO using the first two letters of 25-Across. And to top everything off, I had the same trouble that @retired_chemist did with BEAT and BELT in the southeast corner, an area which I made even tougher on myself for confusing JIBE with JIVE.

    Still, I thought this was a very clever puzzle in the end. It's the kind that makes me relieved that I switched from pen to pencil while solving on paper.


    I wasn't solving the NYT back in 2000 when your debut came out, but I'm not so sure the two puzzles are as similar as you might suggest, even with the general earthquake concept and SAN ANDREAS FAULT running down the middle. I can't find a PDF copy of it, so it's hard to imagine what it looked like. Did your puzzle stretch a couple of the rows out so that they looked more like a long rectangles rather than squares? Or did Will separate the rows altogether so that it looked like three mini-crosswords? Either way, I think just the fact solvers had to grok today's answers by moving diagonally makes the two puzzles significantly different from one another. Please correct me if I've gotten the idea of your 2000 puzzle wrong since, again, it's tough to visualize without seeing a copy of how it appeared in print.

    (As an aside, I don't understand why you'd suggest that Rex might be "blocking you out" -- it's easy enough to forget where one has seen similar puzzle themes within the last couple of years, let alone almost 14.)

    jburgs 11:03 AM  

    Fun puzzle for us members of the 99%.

    Did not find it "annoying." Yes, it was a bit of a challenge especially for those of us with a discrepancy between our Verbal and Performance scores. Good practice.

    Only real probem was with putting ZZTOP in before later realizing ZAPPA.

    Steve J 11:04 AM  

    Interesting to see how differently people are perceiving the spatial relationships of the puzzle. To me, the line east of the fault seems like it's been shifted down, as in everything was once aligned but now is not after some slippage.

    But more than a few view it as needing to slip the east up in order to get the answers to line up, so the grid is pre-slip.

    @Anoa Bob: If you perceive the puzzle as being post-slip, it makes sense regarding the movement of the plates relative to each other (in reality, they're both moving north; it's just that that Pacific plate is moving at a faster rate than the North American plate).

    I also thought about whether the entire eastern half of the puzzle should have shown a shift (such as all black squares where 8A is, and the SE downs appearing cut off). But thinking about how faults - and specifically the San Andreas, which I've lived close to for the last dozen years - work in human lifespans, you notice slipping only close to the fault. Build a fence that crosses the fault line, and within a few years it breaks apart, and each half gets further away from each other. But go even a short distance away, and you don't perceive any movement, nor will you in your lifetime. From that perspective, having only the adjacent column shift makes sense.

    @Loren: I also had PRIME beef/numbers at first. I then had ROUND ones before I finally got to CUBED.

    @Bob Kerfuffle: I thought the same thing regarding LEER.

    Unknown 11:08 AM  

    Agree with Rex 100%. Easy puzzle, but a littlle challenging to make the mental one-line shift. Fun Thursday.

    mac 11:18 AM  

    Tough solve. I knew I had to shift, but it was not until very late in the game that I figured out not to shift whole answers but parts of them. Do you realize how hard this puzzle is when you don't get San Andreas Fault right away???

    Peach fuzz is one of my favorite answers in a very long time.

    GILL I. 11:19 AM  

    I *really* liked this puzzle. It took 3 sittings before the head bang after getting SAN ANDREAS FAULT.
    It helps that I'm a visual sort of person and I like to draw on my puzzles so I made little L's like @Nancy in PA.
    What held me up was trying to make this a rebus of some sort. I knew UTAH was correct so after staring and staring and making a ton of NOISE, TONH was a huge aha!!!
    A BROAD overseas is a fulana...
    Hey,y!ou could make a crossword puzzle with the names of Frank Zappa's children:
    DWEEZIL, MOON UNIT, DIVA THIN MUFFIN and AHMET EMUUKHA. Now that would make your head explode.
    Thank you Caleb Emmons for a very enjoyable puzzle and for informing me that NO ONE has scored more than 850 points in Scrabble. That is very useful information...!

    Anonymous 11:24 AM  

    These type of puzzles frustrate me and are not enjoyable -- the whole reason I do them in the first place!
    Just my opinion - but I think every numbered clue should stand on its own as an answer as well as work with the "gimmick."

    Sandy K 11:24 AM  

    My eyepits hurt, but thought this was very clever.

    Knew something was up- or down
    at MES. Took me a while to figure out where to put the slippage.

    Like others, I finally saw it at SHINY. Agree with @Susan M- the final product looks like a MESS.


    Very n
    ice, Mr. Emmons!

    Unknown 12:04 PM  

    Another google-free smooth solve. :) I agree with Rex's take, but the labor of the translation was enjoyable in light of an actual solution.

    PapaLeroux 12:38 PM  

    I enjoyed this one. I had SUER AND ELMS where they didn't belong, but that gave me FAULT. I guessed at SAN ANDREAS and immediately saw the gimmick. Some great fill. PEACHFUZZ, DIRGE, NOONE, QUAY, ENZYME.

    Thank you, Mr. Em
    Opps. Slipped!

    Mohair Sam 12:42 PM  

    So SANANDREASFAULT was a gimme. Quickly decided that the end of MESS had fallen in the black space (fault line) and was the first letter in SHINING which was a perfect answer and ended with G in another black space. Figured that ARLO was Ar to his friends and the hidden G was first letter in Guthrie, and there must be an uthrie factor out there somewhere.

    Combine that with a stubborn insistence that numbers/beef had to be PRIME and we were fried. Big DNF here.

    Nifty puzzle however, I thought the clues were clean with a minimum of crosswordeze - and the theme was clever (too clever for us, but what the heck).

    Numinous 12:49 PM  

    Brilliant puzzle, Mr. Emmons.

    This is, as @Steve J says, exactly what one would see at the ~FAULT-line. Fence. Google "earthquake offset photos" for further examples; some of them are very cool.

    I expect those who have not lived int the western quake zone might not get it. Once I saw the gimmick, it was a gimme. I grew up across the bay from San Francisco (Frisco to the uninitiated). I've lived through a lot of earthquakes including the only one (up to that time) ever recorded in Sydney, Australia. In 1994, I was living a mile from the Newhall (2nd) epicenter of the Northridge quake. I was awakened in the pre-dawn hours by the sound of an approaching roar. Suddenly the bed and whole house was jumping up and down with the accompanying sounds of toppling furniture and crashing crockery. FEMA rated the area where we were at 8.9 on the Richter Scale. A friend of mine lived over the 9.9 epicenter. His house was totally trashed while the house across the street was almost untouched. Earthquakes are "interesting."

    Tyler Clark 12:54 PM  

    I feel like a complete idiot. I put BERMUDA TRIANGLE in instead of SAN ANDREAS FAULT and convinced myself that letters were both shifting AND disappearing. Still finished the puzzle with everything correct except the middle column.

    AliasZ 12:56 PM  

    Nifty trick. Took me quite a while to figure out what happened to the end of AR and how AA becomes ABROAD, but when I did it (as I watched the Rangers neither DRUB nor BELT the Chi Blackhawks, but barely beat them) I had a very enjoyable and satisfying post-solve aha.

    Rex, BANANA PEEL and PATCH OF ICE don't have anything to with earthquakes or fault lines, but they cause slippage, as does the SAN ANDREAS FAULT between two tectonic plates, and between the East and West sides of today's puzzle. At least that is how interpreted it, and I am sure so did Caleb Emmons and Will. Actually, I created a neat graphical representation of the completed grid with the West side moved up one row. You can see it here.

    I bet dollars to donuts that the one test solver who loved it per the note by Will Shortz was my old friend Martin H.

    Good one Caleb, absolutely worth the effort.

    Tita 1:02 PM  

    @evan - i'm not opining on your query to @acme - I am just pointing out that @Rex points out over and over how there are crossword databases and crossword infos and many other sources that constructiors can, and should, avail themselves of (sry for the dp, @lms).
    So it isn't a stretch to wonder why he didn't do that this time around.

    Actually, I wonder alot more how he takes the time to research all the stuff he DOES research - so it really does not amaze me if he doesn't.

    @Tyler - awesome!!!!! I absolutely love that this puzzle can be interpreted in such a wasy, plausible mind you, that we could have so many examples of imaginitively "finished" grids.

    @rex - 2 years ago, I sent you snailmail with a handwritten note, in hand-drawn grid format, and never heard back. I assumed you didn't send thank you cards or emails, and used the global thank you on your blog.
    But now that you are mentioning thank you cards, I wonder if my card ever made it. My other guess is that my "grid" was so pathetically corny and terrible that you it made you completely block it from your brain...!
    (My onilne banking doesnt go that far back - and they wonder why I don't opt out of paper statements...)

    Two Ponies 1:14 PM  

    I would have admired this much more if the trick had not left us with things like nnapeel, raice, sute, etc. If there had not been nonsense like that then it would have been brilliant. Perhaps that would be asking for the impossible.

    Numinous 1:24 PM  

    @Two Ponies:

    I respectfully disagree. Along the fault line, what you get is wreckage exactly like NNAPEEL, RAICE, SUTE, etc.

    Bird 1:32 PM  

    Yes - "more annoying than interesting or difficult to work out"

    Kept wondering what the hell was going on when I knew the answers, but they didn't fit. When I got to 31A and saw that it was only 2 letters I worked my way back up the fault line for my AHA! moment.

    Masked and Anonymo6Us 1:36 PM  

    This puz was just plain cracked.
    It really broke me up.
    Nearly split my head plumb open.
    Needed a whole new slant to solve it.
    Seemed a bit uneven.
    Whose fault was this?
    I'm pretty torn up on how to rate this.
    Puz went good with my Quaker Oats.
    But enough of this sar-chasm,

    fave big guys, post-quake: FOOTEDYET. ATMSBROAD.
    fave weejecta: T (letter before the really good stuff, pre-quake). UAE (famed brother of DUAE and LUAE, post-quack). AR (Cockney guffaw, post-quake).


    Loren Muse Smith 1:54 PM  

    @M&A - Excellent!
    However... "fave big guys.."
    I, uh, shudder at your size-ism. Makes my innards churn.

    Masked and Abominable 1:55 PM  

    Better clues, if they had been needed...
    FOOTEDYET = "Peg-legged abominable snowman, with both its side I 's removed".
    ATMSBROAD = "Gal with an attitude who refills the cash machine".

    OK, no more cracks about this puz...


    gifcan 2:04 PM  

    Enjoyed it because I was able to finish it. Clever.

    Thanks for the visual @AliasZ!

    Thanks for the Amazing Grace @LMS. Wow!

    T was fun. Thanks Caleb.

    jburgs 2:29 PM  

    @Numinous 1:24

    Excellent point to counter the haters.

    Benko 2:31 PM  

    This is the kind of gimmick only a constructor can love. For us solvers...not so much. I can kind of appreciate it in retrospect, but the solve was teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedious. I don't feel like a philistine when I say this was not one of my favorite puzzles.

    Anonymous 3:20 PM  


    I assume that was directed towards me. So be it -- like I said, it was just my opinion.

    Lewis 3:21 PM  

    I did love the challenge of figuring out the gimmick, and it outweighed for me the tediousness.

    It is a great concept. The puzzle, especially shifted, looks like those pictures you see of fences shifted apart by a fault line... as someone earlier pointed out (AliasZ I believe).

    H777 3:39 PM  

    I've never seen so much nit-picking criticism from both Rex and the folks on this forum! This was a very clever puzzle.

    Richard Edward 3:45 PM  

    "Nitpicking" is one word. No hyphen.

    ahimsa 3:55 PM  

    Cute theme! I enjoyed the puzzle a lot even though it was a bit of a struggle to keep that shift in mind while filling in the answers.

    @Andrea, I thought I'd add that I definitely thought of your puzzle while solving this. :-) (to repeat @Z, "Sir Hillary of earthquake puzzles")

    But while they may share the same main theme entry of SAN ANDREAS FAULT they feel like completely different puzzles to me -- a Monday straightfoward (but clever!) theme vs. Thursday trick theme. It would not even occur to me that this one was in some way a copy of the first one. But I like both of them!

    As many others have reported I figured out today's trick early, right after I filled in 7 Down. It was still not easy for me even after getting the trick. I really should have used a highlighter or something to keep track of the shift. :-)

    No trouble with RHESUS. I still remember when we learned about ABO blood typing (we tested ourselves to learn our own blood type) in some high school science class 30+ years ago.

    Strangely, my slowest area was not across the shifted part but in the SW corner. I had no idea about 54 Across (SARAH). And my prefix was Pheno- (no idea why phenotype came to mind!) for a long time. I stared at that for a long time before I finally figured out the more obvious PROTO- as a prefix for type.

    @AliasZ, thanks for creating that shifted version of the grid!

    @M&A, to add to your punny list I thought I'd bust a gut laughing while reading your message.

    Someone asked about the @ symbol a few days back. When I first saw it I thought typing @xxxx would send an actual alert, email or private message of some kind to xxxx (iff xxxx was a valid blogger account). A lot of online forum software does something like that. But no such luck. One has to scan for it. It's easier to use the find function in the browser or similar search tool email.

    Anonymous 3:57 PM  

    Oh my god, that was ridiculous. I tried all kinds of way more complicated movements before I finally figured out how simple it was. Ugh


    PS Richard Edward, you remind me of that New Yorker cartoon of the lawyers around the conference table: "Let's make sure all the irrelevant documents are in alphabetical order."

    H777 4:10 PM  

    Most dictionaries also approve of the hyphenated version -- "nit-picking".

    OISK 4:48 PM  

    I loved this one! Solved it on the "B" train, and had it almost complete (I thought) at De Kalb avenue, but there was one blank square that turned out to be the "i" from shiny, and it took until 42nd street for me to change my early answers and "move the earth." This also broke a three puzzle losing streak for me!

    Brilliant puzzle. Even the pop culture (Zappa, of whom at least I have heard, and Syd Barrett of whom I certainly have not!) didn't bother me this time.

    LaneB 5:09 PM  

    Completed the western half no problem and filled in quite a lot of the eastern. That was it, however. Never did get the gimmick and STILL can' see how it works, scissors notwithstanding. Hate feeling dumb but this often happens in the face of gimmicks and rebuses. Much too literal- minded or unimaginative or lacking in puzzle- solving experience. Take your pick.

    Richard Edward 5:13 PM  

    Not good ones.

    ahimsa 5:19 PM  

    @LaneB, Did you look at the image that @AliasZ created? http://nytimespuzzles.blogspot.com/2014/01/blog-post.html

    That might help you see the gimmick. This image shifts the right side of the grid up by one row so that the answers which were split at the center "fault" (7 Down) now line up correctly.

    Hope this helps.

    sanfranman59 5:46 PM  

    Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

    Thu 23:28, 19:03, 1.23, 84%, Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Thu 15:05, 10:45, 1.40, 89%, Challenging

    Anonymous 6:18 PM  

    I thought it was pretty cool that the answer "Utah" fit in the section of the grid that looks like the State of Utah.

    J-P 6:21 PM  

    DNF! I got about 90% and I got the basic idea of the theme/trick but I couldn't make it fit. I was overthinking, had "tee" for t-square, had utah, Toni, etc. just couldn't get the area around the fault from banana peel south to Brea. It was a "MES".

    Oh well, I guess I was overthinking, but the rest was pretty quick and easy. Still, now that I've read here, I like the concept. I just had a blind spot in that I couldn't figure out the offset formula. Still, lots of cleverness that I enjoyed!

    Rob C 6:30 PM  

    Great puzzle. However DNF. I got all of the east and west and knew there was a trick around the center - the 7D clue made that obvious. But I settled on Continental plate or shelf at 7D and never recovered. Since I knew there was a trick, it was tougher to see that my 7D was wrong. I thought some of the odd things I was seeing was part of the gimmick. Yep, I missed this party.

    Scarab 6:59 PM  

    Wow -- I keep coming close to the "Top 100 solvers" times and have been waiting for the day when I would finally barely squeak in there. From the comments here I was thinking today might be the day. Well, yes and no. My 11:28 didn't exactly barely squeak in! (Yay me!) I'm pretty pleased with that after only about a year of regular solving.

    I'm really not sure why, but this one just clicked for me.

    Rube 7:15 PM  

    Apparently, Hazel, a crosswording geologist from days gone by is no longer blogging here. So, let me point out that the San Andreas is a right lateral strike slip fault. That means that when you stand on one side of the fault and look across to the other side, that other side has moved to your right. The two sides of this puzzle have the same relative motion. Bravo Caleb.

    What's not to love about this puzzle to a geological type from California. With the gimmick apparent early on, this one went down pretty fast for me, (for a Thursday).

    Z 8:17 PM  

    If you're interested, I have posted an image of a blank print version of @ACME's debut.

    Masked and Abyssmal 8:24 PM  

    List addendas:
    Rut row!
    This thing was dayum shifty, dude.
    If only I coulda had one more crack at it...
    That puz cut me a new one.
    Someday scientists will hopefully be able to predict stuff like this before innocent solvers are hurt.
    I'm all shook up.
    What a cravass-hole!
    Sure hated to see a banana split like that.
    OK, enough, already -- break it up!

    ...the more I think about this fractured example of crusiverbalism, the more I admire it.

    Outlaw M and A 8:29 PM  


    chefbea 8:55 PM  

    @M&A LOL

    August West 9:42 PM  

    Late to a conversation in which everything's been said. Count me among the fans, although, like @jae, sometimes it just annoyed me. Thought the execution was good, and it was fun working through the...annoyances.

    Plus, it's got ZAPPA. And ya gots to have ZAPPA!

    Numinous 10:09 PM  

    @August West:
    Remember Steve Allen? He followed Jack Paar and preceded Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. Check out Zappa in 1963.. What a nice young man he was.

    Numinous 10:18 PM  

    If that doesn't work,, search" Steve Allen show, Frank Zappa Playing music on a Bicycle 1963 " on Youtube

    Numinous 10:47 PM  


    I saw Frank Zappa in concert in Sydney in 1971. It was very strange. A good friend of mine, Norman, bought up a whole row of tickets about six rows back from the stage and gave them out to all his friends. I was given two. The night of the concert, I stopped at Tummies, my favorite bar and restaurant for a drink or two before going. I was hoping to see someone I knew to invite her to the show. No luck, but a waitress in the bar introduced me to a pregnant girl, saying that she had been recently dumped by her boyfriend and might appreciate the attention and the diversion to break her out of her depression. What the heck? I agreed and asked her and she accepted.

    I got to know her a little during the drive to the concert and decided I quite liked her even to the point of asking her out for a later date. We arrived a little late to the show. The only remaining seats in our row were between Norman and his sister, Diane. I sat next to Norman, my date sat next to Diane. I was really enjoying the show but every time I checked on her, she seemed tense. Intermission came and she asked me to take her home. I was seriously disappointed but did as she requested.

    After a long silence, she finally told me why she wanted to leave. It turned out that Diane was the girl her ex had left her for and her ex was sitting on the other side of Diane.

    Way to go, Daniels! Lets just divert this damsel in distress from her depression and make a good impression in the process!

    Need I say I never saw her again? Zappa was strange and so was the whole world surrounding him!

    dk 10:53 PM  

    I was certain Andrea had scored 850 in a scrabble tourney :)

    Not my cuppa. Too much time spent far#ting around with the grid: just sayin!

    ** (2 stars) we need a focus on plate techtonics, not fault lines

    ANON B 10:54 PM  

    After an hour of thinking I
    finally figured out why 65A is
    T-Square unless I'm wrong and
    it's Times Square.
    And if I ever meet Caleb Emmons
    I'm going to deck him.

    sanfranman59 12:12 AM  

    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 6:54, 6:22, 1.08, 81%, Challenging
    Tue 8:02, 8:12, 0.98, 44%, Medium
    Wed 8:49, 10:26, 0.85, 13%, Easy
    Thu 23:04, 19:03, 1.21, 82%, Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:02, 3:58, 1.02, 55%, Medium
    Tue 5:03, 5:09, 0.98, 41%, Medium
    Wed 5:20, 6:11, 0.86, 12%, Easy
    Thu 14:17, 10:45, 1.33, 85%, Challenging

    gifcan 12:27 AM  

    great story @numinous!

    Anonymous 11:29 AM  

    I sadly have to say Me and
    Queen Victoria are not amused by this puzzle.

    Ron Diego 8:15 PST 2/13/14

    spacecraft 11:45 AM  

    Epic fail DNF. Sorry, but my mind just doesn't work like that. As I may have mentioned, on INTEL tests I'm good with math, good with English...spatial relations? I am a spatial relations moron. Give me a Rubik's Cube and I'll probably die before I get two sides done.

    The fatal error, PRIME for "Like some numbers and beef," was simply something I could not let go of. What's like some numbers and beef? Why, PRIME, of course! If you tried to tell me that answer was wrong, I'd have looked at you like you were nuts. Yeah, OK. CUBED. I guess that works too. There was just zero hope of my ever finding it.

    And now my computer wants to update itself, so I must say, see ya tomorrow. It's not my fault.

    Torb 12:39 PM  

    dnf. just too obscure. had the outside totally filled in. could not fathom the loony trick. i now despise mr. emmons......

    Solving in Seattle 1:57 PM  

    I wonder what it's like to live with @M&A.

    It took me quite a while to wrap my head around what was going on. Figured out -FAULT down south, but the top part OOZED on me. The gimmick fell with the MORSE/FAULT/ITEM columns and 500 people had to be RACERS. So I took the formula up to the top and soon SANANDREAS appeared. The irony is that I grew up on it in San Bernardino.

    So, let's make some NOISE for Caleb! Bravo! and encore.

    Stay warm you guys in the Polar Vortex.

    Capcha: ogercern. Fear of Shrek and others?

    Dirigonzo 3:41 PM  

    My solving style involves a visual component - I often see words appear when a few letters are in place. After a little staring at the partially filled-in grid today I saw the PATCHOF standing by itself, and the ICE on the line below revealed the tectonic shift in the grid.

    We are experiencing what used to be called a Nor' Easter today, but I have to say "Polar Vortex" has a much more cataclysmic ring to it; whichever, it's snowing pretty hard and apparently is going to all night.

    If there's anybody left at the table, I have a straight, 6 high.

    DMG 5:48 PM  

    Knew something was going on. When I got PATCHOF I decided the black square represented black ice. But that didn't work anywhere else! Then I seriously questioned the name of the fault. Is there another SANsomethingFAULT? Finally got it at AR/LO. Cleaning up everything else left my paper pretty unreadable. In the long run, it was a clever puzzle, but I didn't enjoy it.

    .@Diri: you sure beat my little house! Little consolation, I imagine for the black ice you are experiencing. Try to stay warm and safe. That goes to all of you in the grip of this winter. Probably shouldn't tell you my daffodils are blooming!

    Waxy in Montreal 6:09 PM  

    Everything @spacecraft said. Even the computer update part.

    Unknown 10:36 PM  

    Wahoo! for the first time ever, I finished a Thursday puzzle while it's still Thursday, and with no Googling. Well, finished incorrectly, with BEaT and BABEa. Hey, I'm no Bible scholar, maybe Babea is a place in Genesis I've never heard of.

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