Plant protrusion / THU 12-4-14 / Woman's name with ring to it / Singer on Canada's Walk of Fame since 2005 / 1977 horror film set at sea / Car that famously debuted on E Day /

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Constructor: Kacey Walker and David Quarfoot

Relative difficulty: Medium or Challenging, I don't know

THEME: ANAGRAMS (63A: What the three possible answers to each of 26-, 36- and 44-Across are, leading to 27 possible solutions to this puzzle) — three theme answers are clued as SCRABBLE racks (7A: Game with its own dictionary); each theme answer has three possible solutions, all ANAGRAMS of one another

Theme answers:
  • WORRIED / ROWDIER / WORDIER (26A: Play in 7-Across with the rack DEIORRW)
  • RESIDED / DESIRED / DERIDES (36A: Play in 7-Across with the rack DDEEIRS)
  • GARDENS / DANGERS / GANDERS (44A: Play in 7-Across with the rack ADEGNRS)
Word of the Day: SKID (25D: What one might attach to a vehicle after a snowstorm) —
1. The act of sliding or slipping over a surface, often sideways.
a. A plank, log, or timber, usually one of a pair, used as a support or as a track for sliding or rollingheavy objects.
b. A pallet for loading or handling goods, especially one having solid sideboards and no bottom.
c. One of several logs or timbers forming a skid road.
3. skids Nautical A wooden framework attached to the side of a ship to prevent damage, as whenunloading.
4. A shoe or drag applying pressure to a wheel to brake a vehicle.
5. A runner in the landing gear of certain aircraft.
6. skids Slang A path to ruin or failure: His career hit the skids. Her life is now on the skids.
• • •

I admire the construction, but I didn't enjoy the solve. This is likely just bad luck on my part—putting in one of the three possible answers and having the necessarily forced/awkward cross clues make no sense to me. I say "necessarily forced/awkward" because they are clues that have to work for two different words. That's twelve different Down clues, each of which has to work for two different answers. So I wrote in RESIDED for the central Across, and then couldn't do anything with the short stuff on top of it. Nothing. This is all because I had never, ever heard of a SKID, meaning "a runner attached to the underside of an aircraft for use when landing on snow or grass." Just, never. So I kept going "well, it's SLED …" And that's pretty much where I stayed for a long time, until I realized, "oh, just put one of the ANAGRAMS in and see if that changes anything." Then in went DESIRES, and I saw SKIS, and then, hey, it's SIRI (31A: One with all the answers?), not SAGE or SIRE or whatever the hell else I'd been trying. Seriously, that SLED trap, combined with the actual answer's being a word unknown to me, really put a damper on my enjoyment of this. This is very much a constructor's puzzle—one meant to elicit "oohs" and "aahs," but not necessarily designed with solving fun in mind. But I will say that, to its credit, that ANAGRAMS thing actually worked. I mean, it saved my ass. So at least knowing the theme actually helped with the solve.

My other major issue with this puzzle was that, aside from that one epic faceplant in the middle of the grid, it was a cinch. Tuesday/Wednesday-easy. Having SCRABBLE as a flat-out gimme was just, well, too much gimme. And there were no great / interesting longer answers. So all the interest / challenge was in those crosses. Which meant all the interest / challenge was in the clues that were, by necessity, most tortured. I'm not mad at the puzzle. I think it's smart. It's just not a flavor of puzzle I personally enjoy. Also, I am an inveterate hater of SCRABBLE, in general, so this thing had its work cut out for it from the jump.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. I do not recall "Citizen Kane"'s having Roman-numeraled scenes (5D: When Kane dies in "Citizen Kane") (SCENE I). I mean, it's great, but it's not Shakespeare.


    Elaine2 12:05 AM  

    I thought this was a LOT of fun! I am not a puzzle constructor, but was completely impressed by the incorporation of the anagrams into this puzzle. (I love Scrabble, so maybe that's it....)

    My only quibble was with Across Lite, which did not know I had finished correctly. There ought to have been some kind of note to say that the software wasn't quite up to the task.

    wreck 12:09 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    wreck 12:11 AM  

    I'm not sure if this was super easy, or so hard I didn't really solve it.
    If the objective was to get one correct solution to the puzzle, I finished faster than Tuesday or Wednesday. If the correct solution was to recognize ALL the anagram possibilities - I DNF.

    Steve J 12:15 AM  

    Pretty damned impressive. I've solved a lot of puzzles with impressive construction feats that left me cold from a solving experience, but this wasn't one of them. Yes, a few clues are awkward out of necessity, but that wasn't enough to detract from the impressiveness of the construction and how it actually supported solving the puzzle.

    Unknown 12:20 AM  

    55 min. Clean. But that was strange. I got the hint early that this was SCRABBLE, so words could run in any direction (which is allowed in Scrabble, right?) so I had [SFO info] Ate, which is etA running up the grid. jaws had to be the horror movie at sea, or maybe it was swaj? Oh, brother. Now, multiply that by about half the number of clues, and my solve was chaos.

    As I started enforcing the letter requirements on the theme clues, I slipped and started conserving wrong letters elsewhere in the grid. Puzzle fatigue.

    The 3 tiled answers each have 3 anagrams.


    and while there are 27 combinations, each giving a different crossword puzzle, they are NOT radically different from one another. Recluing is trivial, as it turns out, due to the grid design. That's special.

    Regardless, 2-for-2 since moving to Puzzazz.

    jae 12:20 AM  

    Wow, just wow!  What a debut! Relatively easy puzzle (except @Rex for the middle) if you don't count the time it took to figure out all the permutations.   I ran out of margin space.  

    Nice to see DQ back.  Liked it a bunch.

    Steve J 12:21 AM  

    @Casco Kid: No, words have to read left-right or up-down in Scrabble, just like in crosswords.

    jae 12:22 AM  

    Oh, and Xwordinfo has a dynamic grid display showing all the possibilities. Worth a look.

    Whirred Whacks 12:23 AM  

    Liked this a lot. At first, I thought having the SCRABBLE letters for three of the answers would make this simple. Not so, the ANAGRAMS made it quite a challenge.

    My goofiest answer before I got the solve was for 16A: "Showed one's support, in a way." Initially I had CO-OKAYED before HOORAYED.

    Also had DENVER before BRONCO. Since football is a team sport, one usually thinks of the BRONCOs winning a championship.

    Truth in clueing department: Monday's puzzle had the following clue "You really _________ !" said the adoring seismologist" for ROCK MY WORLD. At swimming practice today, I talked to a couple of senior geologists who work at the U.S. Geological Survey (Menlo Park), and asked them if they knew any self respecting seismologists who would say anything remotely like that. They said, "No." :-)

    John Child 12:35 AM  

    I liked this very much - SCRABBLE ANAGRAMS with an OBSESS for added zing. In retrospect I wish the reveal had been less revealing, but I might not have seen the full glory of the puzzle then. And a bonus appearance of Yogi BERRA a too. Yum!

    Unknown 12:38 AM  

    I take it back. Same clues work for all permutations. That's why the cluing seemed so strange and why this took me so long to solve. Wow. A shimmering 27-fold Schrödinger. Wow.

    Moly Shu 12:39 AM  

    In a word, awesome. As a scrabble degenerate, I found this great all over. Knew that OFL was a hater, but he still gave it a tepid thumbs up. I think that is a ringing endorsement. I went with WORDIER, DESIRED and GARDENS with no crosses, finished quickly, then went back and permutated (is that even a word?). INERT before NOBLE , I know nothing about science. Liked the shoutout to @Acme. Even EEL didn't bother me that much. Sorry @Ellen.

    okanaganer 12:44 AM  

    Just want to say !!!!!!!!!! (that's a round of applause).

    The evolution of the Schrodinger puzzle continues. Weird grid layout, and very segmented. But multiple Schrodinger squares, all over the place, and they work. Fun Thursday is back, and how...Thanks K.W. and D.Q.

    Negative answers: WORRIED, DERIDES, DANGERS, DEBASE.

    Questinia 12:51 AM  

    Very glitzy and intricate. Good to see David Quarfoot.

    Clark 12:56 AM  

    I loved this. Working out the three solutions each for the three acrosses (and realizing that the crosses were likely to be a bit sketchy) -- most fun non-rebus Thursday ever.

    Thomas808 12:58 AM  

    I thoroughly enjoyed it. True, it was easier than a typical Thursday, but I think the theme justified it. I liked playing around with the theme answers to see each one's three possibilities and the different crosses. It was like the famous BOBDOLE / CLINTON puzzle in 1996, but unlike that puzzle, the clue for 63 across made it pretty clear what was going on. Once I saw that, it was pretty fun working it out.

    David G 2:19 AM  

    Strangely, I accidentally typed DERIDED for 36A as my last answer, and before I could correct it, the Times iPad app congratulated me for successfully completing the puzzle!

    Charles Flaster 4:35 AM  

    Easy especially if you stopped at one solution which I did.Used WORRIED,RESIDED and GANDERS thereby finishing in 9 minutes and stopping.
    Liked cluing for SIAM and CEO (even without the abbr.).
    Great job by KW and DQ . Thanks.

    Jisvan 5:13 AM  

    "Ooh, aah"! Perfect diversion for a bout of insomnia.

    George Barany 5:27 AM  

    Just a quick hello to congratulate debut constructor @Kacey Walker and veteran @David Quarfoot on this amazing puzzle, and to call your attention to @Hayley Gold's webcomic about it. Click on the link to your left and/or visit

    I was thinking about how to put this puzzle into some kind of perspective. The 1996 Election Day puzzle is, quite justifiably, legendary. Now suppose that the theme had been done 4 years earlier, when CLINTON ran not against BOB_DOLE, but in a three-way race against G_H_W_BUSH and H_R_PEROT?! Well, we can't go back in time, but are any of my constructor friends game enough to try this as a 25th anniversary tribute, a shade under three years from now (November 2017)?

    Danp 5:51 AM  

    I laughed when I got the answer to 20A Like the rightmost elements. It was so-o-o-o not what I was thinking.

    jberg 6:11 AM  

    Yeah, the hardest part was remembering that the halogens were NOBLE as well as inert. I even considered putting my doves in a COTt first.

    @Rex May not like scrabble, but 32D loves it so that was a nice inside joke.

    I knew what a SKID was; my problem was thinking that DOWRIED was an anagram, and wondering if the DAIL really complained that much. Finally the light dawned.

    I'm trying to post from my phone--hoping for the best!

    George Barany 6:16 AM  

    @jberg. NOBLE gases, like helium, neon, argon, etc., are column VIII in the Periodic Table, and are considered inert (although there are a handful of noted exceptions, contact me off-Rex if you are interested in knowing more). Halogens, like fluorine, chlorine, bromine, etc., are row VII, and are highly reactive. I wonder how many solvers were thinking politics rather than chemistry with that clue.

    GILL I. 6:27 AM  

    I think I'm in the @Rex camp. I don't know....maybe because I didn't catch the conceit until after I was done.
    I can imagine this was a BEAR to construct - maybe to just be able to do it? I'm so confused.
    Kudos to the minds that come up with convoluted ways to make a Thursday impressive.

    Anonymous 7:10 AM  

    Wow, most impressive. And fun!

    @Rex, I'm beginning to think you're one of those people who would complain even if they hung you with a new rope! ;-)

    Unknown 7:20 AM  


    Anonymous 7:35 AM  

    "This is very much a constructor's puzzle—one meant to elicit "oohs" and "aahs," but not necessarily designed with solving fun in mind."

    My feeling exactly.

    Elle54 7:43 AM  

    After I put in Worried, desired and gardens I didn't look for the other solutions. Lazy, I guess

    Dorothy Biggs 7:45 AM  

    Interestingly the NYT site didn't require the rebuses in order to play the little jingle at the I finished sans rebi and didn't know it existed until I came here. Surprised, I went back and checked the applet on the site and instead of rebi/rebuses it just flashed the different letters like some kind of Times Square neon sign.

    I had WORRIED, DERIDES, and GANDERS. Like I said, since I got the little jingle at the end, I just figured I guessed right as to what the correct anagram was....which made the puzzle very, very easy.

    I wish the applet wouldn't have allowed me to go on...I would have liked to have been forced to find the alternatives on my own.

    Oh well...I don't think it counts as a DNF if you don't know that you DNFed, right? Right?

    jberg 7:49 AM  

    @George Barany--D'oh! Thanks for setting me straight. I had a feeling halogen wasn't right, but didn't let that stop me.

    By the way I really enjoyed your "40th worst crossword puzzle in the world!"

    Unknown 7:52 AM  

    I couldn't disagree with @Anonymous at 7:35 (and Rex) more. I loved solving this with my first anagram answer, and then going back and seeing what changed if I used a different anagram. I don't think you need to be a Scrabble fan to enjoy this. Any regular reader here could predict that Rex was gonna have issues with this one. I expected much worse than he gave today!

    joho 8:25 AM  

    Exquisitely awesome, elegant and mind-blowing! This is a "trick" puzzle that doesn't feel gimmicky or forced ... just perfect.

    Kacey Walker and David Quarfoot, you have set the bar for all to attempt to jump over. Good luck to them!

    I don't play SCRABBLE, regardless I can appreciate how the game plays into this puzzle ... in spades. And, of course, SCRABBLE being a word game -- it's the perfect fit for a crossword.

    @Rex, I'll bet if you knew SKID your take on this would have been way more positive. Too bad you didn't get SKIS first as that slow down soured you on the whole puzzle.

    The inclusion of ACME, who's a competitive SCRABBLE player, was icing on the cake.

    I can't say enough about this one ... LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it!!!

    Danp 8:44 AM  

    The on-line subscription app shows that 44A can be GARGEN. When I google this, I get 20,500 hits, but they all seem to be misspellings of garden. When I google "define gargen", it assumes I misspelled garden.

    Anonymous 8:47 AM  

    I play way more Scrabble on my tablet every day than I should. I loved this. Makes up for that horrible puzzle on Tuesday.

    dk 8:48 AM  

    🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

    A puzzle for Rosebud..... errr Andrea.... ACME.

    I am so confused and that is due to this offering. The double lettering for the ANAGRAMS is cool and alll but not the solid solve preffered by this old poop.

    So on with the cranky pants.

    Hey, at the rate the sales are going Santa will owe me money.

    Unknown 8:51 AM  

    Did anyone else get *exactly* my triplet solution? WORRIES, DERIDES, GARDENS

    What triplet did you get?

    Bird 8:55 AM  

    Liked it and impressed by the construction but was not about to make 27 copies and solve 27 puzzles.

    My three were WORRIED, DESIRED. and DANGERS. I wonder what Freud would say.

    Unknown 8:59 AM  

    Um, I'm going to have to, uh, disagree.

    Didn't really like the puzzle. I think the complexity of the concept interfered with the quality of the puzzle. At least it did for me. Not a Scrabble guy so that may be part of it. When it snows, one puts skis on your airplane. Not skids. Old biplanes had tailSKIDs to help slow them on turf runways.

    SE corner took me forever. I can never remember the Super Bowl winner a week after the big game, so 15 yrs is always going to be a struggle. Had ROTARY but just couldn't grasp the rest for some time. I will say MED-CHALLENGING for today's rating.

    Unknown 9:00 AM  

    @Bird It's the new Myers-Briggs. ;)

    Wait a sec . . . 9:01 AM  

    Who considers a plane a vehicle? I mean that's gotta be a stretch of the definition to make the clue for 25D work. SKIS and SLED are much better answers.

    OISK 9:02 AM  

    Worried, derides, ganders. Loved this puzzle, I very much agree with Molyshu. Lots of erasures for me, but enjoyed the solve. Most of my trouble came from finding an anagram that isn't - instead of "derides" I started out with "reddies". The coffee hadn't kicked in yet, I guess, but the idea that the word I was thinking of was "readies" didn't strike me until I got "Sis" . Again, congratulations to Kacey and David. Brilliant!

    AliasZ 9:03 AM  

    Mighty impressive puzzle, and tremendous fun to solve.

    My favorite type of puzzle is one in which after moments of "Huh?" come moments of "Aha!", and then I can sit back looking at the completed grid, working through all the permutations and multiple clue meanings for a half hour, and then admire the creativity and difficulty of its construction for another half. This then was a doubly satisfying puzzle for me: one that gave me great pleasure figuring out, and admiration for the cleverness afterwards, whether I liked SCRABBLE or not. I happen to love ANAGRAMS, but I suspect it was admirable even for those who don't.

    Of the twelve clues with two possible answers each for the Schrödinger squares I found only one really "tortured." All others were great: for W/RAIL, R/WEED, R/DOES, BUD/R, BEAN/R etc., and especially "Tip of GreenlanD" and "Suffix with block". No torture whatever in any one of them. The clue for N/ROTARY on the other hand was somewhat of a stretch. If I were Kacey Walker and/or DQ (which I clearly am not), I would've tried to change it to N/ROTATE and clue it "Something members of a pool of stenographers often do?" (perhaps a little less tortured).

    This may have been a Rorschach test. I had WORRIED, DERIDES and DANGERS as my original entries. I obviously gravitated subconsciously towards the negative, although I fancy myself as a ROWDIER, even WORDIER, DESIRED and GARDENS type of personality. But I'm not going to OBSESS about it. I'm no psychoanalyst.

    Wow it's late! Gotta run.

    Tita 9:05 AM  

    I liked this a bunch. I didn't think it was conceited at all - merely impressive. ANd that's coming from someone who things anagrams are a great boor. In fact, in honor of that, I changed my avatar...

    Funny, tho - I love SCRABBLE.

    Well done, Kacey & David, and thanks for a fun solve.

    (Have I mentioned lately how I hate providing free labor for a money-making endeavor of google's? Not to mention, I feel like I am aiding and abetting a privacy invasion each time I help them reveal to marketers everywhere some poor soul's home address...)

    Bird 9:06 AM  

    @Casco Kid - Ah, thanks. I'll make an appointment

    Rob Buccino 9:12 AM  

    SKID trivia: "Skid Road" was a term used by loggers for the paths they would slide or roll logs along on their way from the hills to seaports, and is often considered the source for the term "skid row" as a description of a down-and-out neighborhood. Does that mean a log pulled behind a team of oxen is a "skid"? Dunno.

    Tita 9:18 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Tita 9:29 AM  

    Also, could someone please elucidate what was "special" about the grid, as a few of you have said, that enabled this construction feat?
    Was it forcing the anagrammed words to either start or end their respective crosses??

    Z 9:31 AM  

    Too much of a good thing. I'm in the "impressive construction not fun to solve" camp.

    Not a rebus puzzle - there is only one letter per square. It's a Schrödinger puzzle. Let's keep our jargon straight, people. It's important, after all. And don't forget the umlaut.

    @Tita - check out my late link yesterday. Apparently The Google is working on making CAPTCHAs less something. I predict just as many spellcasters as ever.

    I wanted ANABEL/ATTN. Totally flummoxed by wanting the "vehicle" to be a truck or a car. Went dental with "Pulls" and wrote in exTRACTS. Those are all run of the mill stumbles. The anagram bit putting 12 squares in play - too much. It has the same effect for me as someone with too many accessories, a TEEN with too many tats and piercings, a craft beer that blends too many styles. Just too too.

    Z 9:34 AM  

    @Tita - Twelve downs have clues that work for two words, allowing for 27 "correct" solutions as clued. Having the three themers all have three ANAGRAMS with cluable anagrammed letters is pretty impressive for the constructors to put together.

    Norm 9:37 AM  

    @Elaine2: AcrossLite apparently wants the alternative letters entered in rebus mode -- and apparently in a specific order. I couldn't be bothered.

    Great puzzle! I don't see why one would be against it just because you're not a Scrabble. (Yes, talking to you, Rex.) Just let work as an anagram puzzle and ignore the Scrabble references.

    LHS 888 10:12 AM  

    Put me in the "Wow!" camp. I didn't DETECT the full beauty of this until I finished and got no Mr. Happy Pencil on A-Lite. I went back through and found an error. Still no MHP. Looked at the SCRABBLE clues and tried the ANAGRAMS. I never got MHP because @Elaine2 this puzzle was beyond A-Lite's capability, but I did sit back and admire the elegance of the thing for a few minutes before coming here.

    @Casco - My 1st triplet was also WORRIED / DERIDES / GARDENS, but I was glad to find all of the permutations before I finished.

    cane > BEET
    rElASE (guess I was thinking release) > DEBASE

    Favorite Word: AKIMBO
    Favorite Clue: BERRA

    Many thanks to KW & DQ / WS for an awesome puzzle. I say again, Wow!!

    RooMonster 10:16 AM  

    Hey All !
    Unlike yesterday, I thought this was a cool puz. Once I got SCRABBLE, which I had in lightly until the first Scrabbly clue (26A), I was off and running at unscrambling the words. Figured out the three permutations of the letters first, then solved rebus-style. So my grid ended up looking like Rex's. I put in the common letters as regular letters, then rebi'ed the ones that could change. Turned out, there were four pair of squares that could only have two letters in them, therefore I was able to see both the down answers. Hope that made sense! :-)

    I love doing the Jumble puzzle, so that helped with this! Also like Scrabble!

    Had _N_A for 29A, wanted enya forever until I finally sussed out SKIS/D. Only writeover was changing spelling of NOBLE to NOBel, trying to get 18A to be reTRACTS, or deTRACTS, which I never saw ATTRACTA, so those two squares were wrong, ergo a technical DNF.

    Wondered at first why grid was so segmented. Now I know! Cool puz, executed well, clean fill. To quote M&A, thUmbsUp!!!


    Steve M 10:19 AM  


    Zeke 10:20 AM  

    Put me squarely in the didn't enjoy, admired in retrospect (after having it explained to me) category. I weight the two aspects of a puzzle experience99.9% enjoyment, 0% post solve admiration. I just throw out the 0.1%.

    I knew something was up, hidden behind the scenes, as the puzzle couldn't possibly have been published had there not been. Without the gimmick, it's just a bad, uninteresting themeless wich just happens to have SCRABBLE and ANAGRAM in the puzzle, and three entries the authors were too lazy to clue. With DQ as one of the authors, I knew this couldn't be, but there it was. I just had too much of a sour taste in my mouth to be bothered to figure out what the gimmick was.

    pmdm 10:21 AM  

    Hey, AliasZ, what exactly did you say????? And where's your 41A You Tube link?

    Josh 10:23 AM  

    I'm with Rex on this one. Very impressive as a feat of crossword construction, but not a very fun solve. (For an example of a puzzle that fits both of those criteria, look no further than Ben Tausig's AV Club puzzle this week.) Though the two eight-stacks are very nice, as well as the symmetry of the two theme answers that lie therein.

    Any chance that this puzzle is presaging a Quarfoot themeless on some upcoming Friday or Saturday? That would be a very welcome sight.

    LHS 888 10:24 AM  

    Forgot to add...

    @Casco - Your Myers-Briggs reference made me smile. I had the same initial triplet as you, and I'm an ISTP. Does that mean you are an ISTP, too?

    pmdm 10:24 AM  

    AliasZ: Oddly, the first time I opened these comments, your comment did not display, hence my comment. But I reopened the comments and your comment displayed. Weird. So ignore my comment.

    Sir Hillary 10:26 AM  

    Interesting solve, much different than usual. I had a feeling we would get a rebus today, which can be hell on a pen-solver, so I looked over the clues before writing anything in. That enabled me to figure out what was going on beforehand. Then I wrote in SCRABBLE, ANAGRAMS and all theme answer variants before anything else. The fun therefore became reading the clues for the 12 Schrodinger squares -- all of which worked quite well in my view. "Tip of Greenland?" is a clue that would be pretty lame in a non-Schrodinger context but was brilliant as used today.

    I wouldn't want to solve puzzles this way very often, but today it was fun.

    I agree with @Norm in that I see no connection between one's opinion of Scrabble and one's opinion of this puzzle.

    Great Thursday!

    mathguy 10:30 AM  

    What an impressive piece of work! Even before coming up with clues that lead to two different words, the constructors found three sets of seven letters each having three anagrams. And the three anagrams each had their vowels in the same position. For example, the three anagrams for 26A have the pattern _ O _ _ I E _ .

    old timer 10:35 AM  

    I was way impressed. I thought it was a lot of fun. My only quibble: While a "rotary" is something a lawyer might have called on (and a very senior lawyer, these days), a "notary" is not a thing, but a person. You need a Notary Public to authenticate deeds and affidavits.

    But I just knew Rex would be a little miffed. We ordinary mortals only had to solve the puzzle once (at least on paper). He had to come up with up to 27 different solutions.

    mac 11:12 AM  

    Impressive piece of construction, but in the end the words are not very interesting, something I find important.

    Nice pairing of shucks and oyster.

    Ellen S 11:28 AM  

    I liked this even though anagrams hurt my brain. Puzzazz treated this one very nicely. It did not require a rebus, but accepted any of the anagrams (I am WORRIED, DESIRED and GARDENS -- what personality type does that make me?). After successful completion with any of the anagrams, Puzzazz offers the option of "Show Explanation", which shows you the three possibilities in each set, written completely across, rather than with rebus squares like Rex's grid. So, @NCA President, at least according to Puzzazz, you did not DNF.

    Oh, and it does not allow "GARGENS".

    Put me in the "I liked it" camp, even with the EEL (thanks for thinking of me, @Moly Shu; when they start showing up every day, I'm calling an exterminator).

    Masked and Anonymo2Us 11:30 AM  

    This was SUPER! Wins the PURSE! Not the best, PER U'S, tho.

    Wanted WEED, but then wanted WORRIED. WORRIED's clue made SCRABBLE a moo-cow conquest. Immediately then peeked at SCRABBLE's symmetric partner, read its clue, and saw why I had wanted WEED so day-um much.

    thUmbsUp for 27 flavors.
    fave flavor: WORDIER, DESIRED, DRANGES(the D is silent).

    As fun as a trip to the ice cream parlor. Kinda easy for a ThursPuz, altho it did take a while to sample all the flavors...



    joho 11:32 AM  


    David S 11:37 AM  

    One of my fastest (and most fun) Thursday (or any day) puzzles ever; I guess it took me 10 minutes. It helps that I'm really good at anagrams and love Scrabble (I'm one of the highest rated tournament Scrabble players in the US).

    It also helped that I looked at the 63A clue, which says that there are 27 solutions. That meant that all three anagram clues had 3 solutions (3 cubed is 27). So if I wasn't sure of a down clue, like SKID, I just tried a different anagram (and got SKIS), and then back-solved.

    It really was an amazing puzzle, and I was all the more impressed that it avoided too much crosswordese (ARES, ETES) while using fun words like AKIMBO, CHRISTIE, and CARNIVAL.


    Anonymous 11:39 AM  

    Great puzzle! I enjoyed it. Found it challenging but do-able. I couldn't come up with all the anagrams by myself, but after looking up a few, I was impressed by how it could all fit together.

    I'm annoyed that Across Lite wouldn't accept individual solutions as correct.

    Leapfinger 11:46 AM  

    HOORAY for a beautifully ORCAstrated puzzle!

    What were the ODDS, after starting with BEET *and* EEL in the NW? But the grin started with seeing TEC hiding in DETECTS, then grew with the banner headline: DEALER ATTRACTS [MOI]STY NOBLE BABE. Loved the ring of ISABEL and the Major suit, CEO (hi, @JChild!). Also leaned right with the elements, @GeorgeB and @DanP; how could I not, after TEABAG, and with PEKOE and ST. ROVE right in the grid?? It was AMo long before the theme came into play.

    The theme? Pure inspiration! Initially went with ROWDIER-DESIRED (actually first thought was for DESIREE)-GANDERS. Spent time mulling RAIL/WEED vs WAIL/REED, but it wasn't till 44A that my brain exploded: the [Tip of Greenland] GEE/DEE and blockADE/AGE were evil inspiration, and made me go back to define the triple doubles. The only crossing Down I thought a bit weak was AIR/AID, which seemed to need some support, eg, First AID Station. Altogether love the idea of a Schroedinger puzzle!

    Had the Cleveland BROWNS before BRONCO, and CAROUSEL before CARNIVAL. Considered Enya in ANKA's place, but ... um, No. Also, I'll drive anywhere, even in Manhattan, which gave me BYCAr/B.

    @CascoK, interesting that you brought up the Meyer-Briggs test, developed by the Jung ISABEL Meyer-Briggs. I took that test in a course several years ago; at the time, I was apparently a Visionary. Now I'm an idealist Diplomat. Can you SEE IT?

    @AliasZ, you had to rush off without a music link today; I thought you might have been interested in a Troika. Based on theANAGRAMS, you know.

    Hope everyone's enjoying their Thursdays as much as me mine.

    noone 11:49 AM  

    I'm a Scrabble fan, so loved the anagrams. But the NYT version doesn't allow rebus on my Mac, while it does on my iPad—SO on my Mac, when finished, if I scroll over the anagrams,, the permutations appear but I can't enter them as squares.
    The APP needs work!

    Unknown 11:52 AM  

    @Whirred Whacks:

    But remember, "Geology is the Kardashians of science."

    AliasZ 12:24 PM  


    No 41A, way too many possibilities. Instead, let me go with the Roman CARNIVAL Overture, OPUS 9 by Hector Berlioz, played here by the SFO Symphony under Pierre Monteux in 1946, the only way this piece should ever be played -- although Paul Paray comes close, and it's in stereo.

    On a lighter note, and staying within SFO, let us also listen to Francisco Tárrega's guitar transcription of CARNIVAL of Venice (variations on the Neapolitan song "O mamma, mamma cara"), OPUS 10 by Niccolò Paganini.

    I just realized I went from OPUS 9 to OPUS 10. Not only that, but Paganini and Berlioz were good friends. In fact, the work "Harold in Italy" OPUS 16 by Berlioz was commissioned by Paganini as a viola concerto.

    Enjoy your scrabbly Thursday.

    Davidph 12:24 PM  

    Awesomely clever puzzle. Loved it.

    @Casco, Bird: My solution was WORRIED, DERIDES, and DANGERS. The darkest three. Group therapy, anyone?

    Martel Moopsbane 12:27 PM  

    WORRIED, DESIRED, GANDERS for me. Didn't realize the rest was there until I got here.

    Fred Romagnolo 12:28 PM  

    I had nether before DEBASE, Coolidge before CHRISTIE, and inert before NOBLE. I treated it as a regular (not tortured) crossword with WORRIED, RESIDED, and DANGERS which seemed to work well. This blog showed me what else was going on. I'm impressed, but I'm with @Rex, more fun for the maker than the solver. Is Schroedinger any relative of Schroeder? Cause Beethoven's birthday is coming up, the 16th (some scholars hold out for the 17th, but we can give that to the Wright Bros.). It's also the birthday of my chihuahua-mix, Rudolph Valentino. He'll be 7.

    Dan Ruby 12:28 PM  

    NYT app would not accept DG rebus in the cross with "Block ___". Lost my streak as a result. BTW, streaks were recently add to the app. Other stats said to be coming soon.

    Fred Romagnolo 12:38 PM  

    As a Long-time San Franciscan (actually, a native) I can appreciate @Alias Z's judgment of Monteux's conducting, we worshipped him out here. He world-premiered some pretty impressive stuff, especially "The Rite of Spring."

    Andrew Heinegg 12:42 PM  

    Worried, desired and ganders here; But, no Freudian business here. I filled in the words off of the fown answers.

    Andrew Heinegg 12:49 PM  

    As always, no accounting for taste ; I thought it was a good enough idea but, the execution was lacking and good ideas without good execution seems like something that should have been passed on or at least had some major modifications done.

    retired_chemist 12:56 PM  

    Only one so far besides me reported the cane => BEET writeover, which made the NW my last corner.

    Finished in about 9-10 minutes with a "correct" solution and could not understand why AL was still hiding Mr. Happy Pencil. Saw nothing wrong with WORRIED/DESIRED/DANGERS. AL apparently had ONE solution in mind - WORDIER/DERIDES/DANGERS - and I stopped as did others with my one solution (of 27). So - DNF or a solution AL can't handle?

    Basically easy - Thursdays are usually a Fridayish time here and today was faster than that. And fun.

    Thanks, constructors.

    wreck 12:59 PM  

    If anyone cares, my 3 anagrams were WORRIED

    Lewis 1:03 PM  

    Cool how SCRABBLE and ANAGRAMS mirror each other. Clever clue for MINT. It must have been tough to come up with the anagrammed theme answers, and figure out workable clues -- kudos for that. Figuring out that the third letter of 21D could have been an R or D confirmed B as the first letter for me, and that gave me NOBLE, so the theme helped with the solve.

    Wow for construction and workmanlike solve makes for an above average puzzle. Looking for more from you KW and always enjoy your puzzles DQ!

    Bob Kerfuffle 1:09 PM  

    Marvelous puzzle.

    Since I approach Thursdays cautiously, I didn't have any single "first answers." I saw that more than one answer was possible in several places and proceeded, very slowly, from there.

    With @RooMonster and @Leapfinger, I wanted ENYA to fill the _N_A at 29 A, and SIRI was my last entry. I got so deeply confused that for a while at 29 D, instead of AIR STATION and AID STATION, I had the not-so-unreasonable MIR STATION (the Russian space station) and MID STATION (that point where you can get off a ski lift if you don't want to go all the way to the top.)

    Lewis 1:13 PM  

    Factoid: Two well known ANAGRAMS based on famous names are "so I'm cuter" for Tom Cruise, and "insane Anglo warlord" for Ronald Wilson Reagan.

    Quotoid: "I like my money right where I can SEE IT... hanging in my closet." -- Sarah Jessica Parker

    Unknown 1:20 PM  

    @Andrew You can't escape the couch by doing the downs on this one. If anything, there's more to analyze. BTW, you and @Martel Moopsbane had the same 3. That's positively zodiacal, dude. Ya know, we got a discount on couples counseling . . . ;)

    LaneB 1:22 PM  

    Didn't see the rebuses but still filled the whole thing and it made reasonable sense, so I consider it a win and go away happy--even more impressed with the cleverness of it all. And concurring with Rex 100 per cent.

    Unknown 1:36 PM  

    @LHS888 I'm a ROFL, but I'd be proud to be a ISTP, like you, as it suggests some kind of cyber engine performance enhancer.

    As I blow through my post limit, captca is getting harder and harder. I can hear the Oscar orchestra starting its crescendo. Thanking the Academy . . .

    retired_chemist 1:40 PM  

    Another anagram factoid - Spiro Agnew => grow a penis.

    George Barany 1:55 PM  

    @retired_chemist -- or spine, as the case may be

    I would refer anyone who enjoys anagrams to:, which is just one section of a larger site that also allows you to create your own.

    Virginia 1:59 PM  

    I had a hard time with this one. The Scrabble answers were easy enough, but the NW practically killed me -- for some reason, my brain just couldn't pull out OBSESS or DETECT. I'm not proud of it, but I resorted to putting near-random letters and then using the "Check Puzzle" command to see if any of them were right. I had trouble with the right-hand middle block as well -- although I must say I kind of prefer my alternative answers: ASS for "workout target," CTO for "major suit," and STAR for "black _____".

    Overall I didn't find this puzzle particularly fun to solve -- although I had a good laugh at the CHRISTIE quote -- but I do admire the cleverness of the construction.

    GILL I. 2:11 PM  

    Catherine Zeta Jones => Jeez, Satan...Nice throne.

    Hartley70 2:13 PM  

    @Casco I chose WORRIED RESIDED DANGERS which probably means I'm afraid of my house. Come to think of it, it did catch fire in the 90's so who knows what evil lurks within?

    It's all been said by this time in the day, but I'll add my voice to the LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT chorus. It went faster than my adored rebus and I normally hate a jumble, but this just tickled my fancy, you clever constructors!

    pb 2:22 PM  


    chefbea 2:23 PM  

    just got home from our NARFE Xmas party. No time to read all 91 posts. I love scrabble but could not figure out all the anagrams

    Of course I loved 2 down

    Roy Leban 2:25 PM  

    As I said over on Wordplay, brilliant puzzle. A couple of people suggested I come over here and explain what was going on behind the scenes and why people solving anywhere but Puzzazz had such an awful experience.

    Start with the picture at the top of Rex's post. That's what the .puz file thinks is the answer. Each of those squares is supposed to contain those two letters, so the answer to 26A is WROWRRDIEDR. You're only correct if you enter two letters in each of those cells, in that order as if it's a rebus, not alternate letters. Yuck. .puz format has a feature that lets a rebus cell also allow a single letter (e.g., CAT or C), but only one single letter letter is allowed. So the first cell in 26A accepts either WR or R but not W. That might allow ROWDIER but not WORDIER. But, and it's a big but, the third cell in 26A also accepts either WR or R. This is because of a deficiency (one of many) in Across Lite format. So, in fact, the only correct entry (other than WROWRRDIEDR) is the nonsense word RORDIER. It's not even an anagram!

    The NYT app and web solver improved on this slightly. For example, the first cell in 26A accepts W or R or WR or RW. This lets all the correct answers be correct. But, as David G points out, the NYT app allowed DERIDED for 36A. And Danp points out GARGENS was accepted for 44A. These are not anagrams. They also accept RORDIER and WOWDIED and lots of other nonsense words. Why? There are 12 Schrödinger cells that the NYT considers to be completely independent. 2^12 is 4096, so the NYT accepts all 4096 possibilities (4069 of them wrong), and that's not counting the variants where you put more than one letter in a square.

    Puzzazz gets it right. There are 27 answers and only 27 answers to this puzzle — three anagrams for each of 26A, 36A, and 44A, and 3x3x3 is 27. Puzzazz accepts those answers and only those answers as correct. When you're done, Puzzazz provides you with the opportunity to see an explanation of what was going on, in case you missed it. We don't show that explanation automatically and there's no distracting and hard to read animation -- the answer is laid out simply and clearly. See the iPad snapshot that @CascoKid helpfully posted: (this snap after Show Explanation has been done).

    Why does Puzzazz get it right? First, Puzzazz understands the puzzle. Our puzzle engine is far more powerful than anyone else's, and we use ipuz format ( instead of the ancient .puz format. The underlying answer is because we care. Puzzazz is the only company building puzzle solving technology founded and run by people who are both long-time puzzle constructors and software developers with experience building great user experiences. We love puzzles as much as you do. We're not games guys who want to turn the wonderful world of crosswords and puzzles into the next Angry Birds.

    BTW, if you haven't heard, Puzzazz is giving away a free puzzle ebook as a "thank you" to all our supporters. Jumping to Conclusions is 100 hangman riddles by Bruce Leban with a foreword by Ken Jennings. Offer is good through the end of the year. Get your copy here:

    mathguy 2:38 PM  

    Am I reading the comments above correctly? Are some of us saying that the puzzle was easy while only finding a few of the anagrams? Didn't 63 A register?

    The crossword itself was not difficult to accommodate the limitations of the theme. The challenge was to find all of the anagrams.

    RooMonster 2:50 PM  

    Cool beans, Mr. Roy Leban! I just use the online NYT puzzle thing, either print it out when I'm working, or do it online on my days off. Sorry. Maybe if I were more tech savvy, I'd use Puzzazz!

    The best non-word that came up was WOWDIED. I'm going to start saying that!


    r.alphbunker 3:59 PM  

    I am currently working on a 78 word puzzle where each answer has three legal permutations. There will be 16,423,203,268,260,658,146,231,467,800,709,255,289 different solutions to this puzzle.

    I will need help testing this.

    Hartley70 4:06 PM  

    @Casco Oh and I'm an ENFJ and proud of it! I think? It doesn't appear to be the axe murderer category.

    Moly Shu 5:15 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    anonymous 5:16 PM  

    Ignored the anagrams and was stymied with sled and thus siri and anka. Glad I did because don't think it would have been worth the extra time and effort to make a complete 3 way solve.

    Roy Leban 5:21 PM  

    @RooMonster: I think my favorite word is WOWDIER, as in this puzzle is WOWDIER than the CLINTON/BOBDOLE one.

    @r.alphbunker: If you can pull that off, you will be famous! But, you are off on your total. Since the Across and Downs interlock, they are not independent. Assuming you had 39 Across words and 39 Down words, you would have only 3^39 or 4,052,555,153,018,980,000 different solutions -- 4 quintillion instead of 16 undecillion. Still impressive, and Puzzazz can handle it.

    Moly Shu 5:25 PM  

    @R.alph, count me in. Do you have a rough estimate of how long you think it will take to, say, solve 1/3 of the permutations?

    r.alphbunker 5:41 PM  

    @Roy Leban

    Thanks for the correction. I won't need as many testers!

    Since the ipuz format is non-proprietary could you publish the ipuz representation that you used for today's puzzle?

    Also, while I have your ear here are two suggestions about Puzzazz

    1. Could you provide a non-skeuomorphic option for the bookshelf

    2. Could you implement an option that would keep my handwritten letters in the grid and use OCR only when you are checking the solution?

    @Moly Shu
    Given how busy everybody is nowadays, there probably won't be enough time. :-)

    Questinia 5:49 PM  

    @ralph bunker, count me in but I can only do the first 203,268,260,658,146,231,467,800,709,255,289 or so.

    Z 6:10 PM  

    @r.alph bunker - Will the cat be alive or dead when we finish?

    Outlaw Z 6:12 PM  

    Not everyone loves the Myers-Briggs. Maybe we should replace with the Casco-Kid Test.

    Anoa Bob 6:12 PM  

    SCRABBLE fan here, so no problem on that front.

    Nice to see my home town, Port ISABEL, TX, get some grid time.

    Also nice to see in the comments that one or two other people on this planet are still followers of Freud. I've been in strict Freudian psychoanalysis for 37 years. I'll give it three more years and if we haven't made a breakthrough in decoding the underlying dynamics of why I'm simultaneously both anal retentive & anal expulsive, I'm taking my business down the street to our local phrenologist.

    Teedmn 6:34 PM  

    I. Did. Not. Read. The. Clue. For. 63A!!!! (FYI @Mathguy :-) )

    I was going along thinking three anagrams were a pretty easy Thursday theme. Had ANAG in 63A, looked at the first part of the clue, "What the three...", filled in the rest of the puzzle and wondered why Mr. Happy Pencil was smirking at me. checked all my answers, no typos. Hit the check all button (had WORRIED, DERIDES, GARDENS @Casco) and GARDENS had four Xes in it. Changed it to DANGERS, was impressed the downs worked and saw Xes in WORRIED and DERIDES now.

    You would think I might now go back to the reveal and read, but you would think wrong. So now I had RESIDES and ROWDIER (wow, the downs still work!) but I had one X over the W in ROWDIER. Flummoxed at what could possibly be changed, I came to the blog. Now I'm left kicking myself at not having the full solving experience.

    What a great accomplishment, KW and DQ!!

    Roy Leban 7:11 PM  

    @r.alphbunker: 0) The translation from .puz to ipuz is done on the fly in the app after the .puz file is downloaded from the NYT web site. Some Puzzazz features, including supporting multiple answer words, require more than just ipuz. If you want to look at an ipuz example, check out last week's AVCX puzzle by Francis Heaney. AVCX mailed out an ipuz file that supported that puzzle since .puz couldn't even come close.

    1) The bookshelf isn't skeuomorphic. We got rid of that in 3.0 a year ago. If you don't like the category organization, you can switch to all books by release date or books by author. Is there something else that is bothering you?

    2) Interesting suggestion. I worked on a product in 1992 that had that feature (Perspective for PenPoint). It wasn't that great because printed text is actually easier to read than your own handwriting (even for people with great handwriting), plus you wouldn't know things when something had been mis-recognized. That said, TouchWrite is a lot better than the handwriting recognition back then. I will put this on our suggestion list.

    Gene 7:56 PM  

    Fantastic puzzle. Knew Rex wouldn't care much for it. I see it as a tour de force.

    Anonymous 11:57 PM  

    Really clever and a hella hard construct, I can imagine. HOORAYED had me stymied for what seemed like forever.

    Paul 4:10 AM  

    On top of it all, scrabble was at 7 across for the seven letters of the full rack anagrams

    Unknown 3:55 PM  

    How I Got My Lover Back {}...

    What a wonderful and a straight forward spell caster that has brought back joy and happiness into my life after i saw a post on how he helped a lady called Nicole Morgan; i decided to contact him for help, when i told this God sent man Dr Eboehi on how my lover left me for 2 years without calling nor texting me, When i shared this my sad experience with Dr Eboehi he said everything would be okay within 3 days i was like am i sure what this man is saying is real, So i decided to give him a try and at first i was thinking he was a scam and i taught he was like other spell casters who come online to add pain to people's life not knowing there feelings but to make money, this great man Dr Eboehi is never like that because he is for good and to make people happy with the one they love, am just so happy, Even before the 3 days i just got a call from a man who has left me for 2 years saying that he his sorry and that he wants me back to his life i was so happy, He invited me for a dinner which i met with him there and we both talked, he said he wants to prove that he would never leave me for any other lady he engaged me and also made me had access to all his account am so happy all thanks goes to this great man Dr Eboehi a man who has brought back joy to my life, friends that need help in getting their lover's back i would advice you contact Dr Eboehi via email: because he is the right man to help you get your problem solved.

    Thanks... Stacy Donald

    spacecraft 11:01 AM  

    Hey Stacy: we got it the FIRST THREE TIMES! So shut up already!

    Wait: that's the racket! Never mind lost spouses and all that crap. Dear spellcaster: can you please help me? I keep running into these testimonials. Can't you make them go away? I'll do ANYTHING! I'll PAY ANYTHING!

    THAT's how they make their money!

    On to today's multi-puzz. Pretty much what OFL said: gimmes at 7 and 63a; no fill of interest other than AKIMBO (I don't know that it means simply legs spread and hands on hips, as superheroes are wont to stand; the word evokes in me much less balance--but it's still a GREAT word); and a sticky spot that takes it out of the "easy" column.

    Though my sticky is not his. Originating in northeast PA, I know what a SKID is. I had trouble more north. My REVUE started out, paradoxically, as a RErUn. Didn't see what 6d was "aiming" for till I had everything else in the NW filled in, and STRORE made no sense. Then I sensed--DETECTed--STROVE. and ergo, REVUE. That was quite the aha! moment. It also took me forever to get the BY part of BYCAB.

    But again, poor Rex is saddled with another hate: SCRABBLE. If I had the time, I'd feel sorry for the guy.

    Anonymous 12:49 PM  

    Spacy, spacey, I laughed my ess off reading your last remark. Amen, brother!!!

    I must remain anon. I'm reading this from Sydney Aus.


    rondo 1:30 PM  

    First of all, I didn't mind this puz at all, even kinda admire the construction.
    Secondly, all of the pseudo-intellects that complained so bitterly about DS's puzzles becoming Trivial Pursuit-like are falling all over themselves in near orgasmic throes whan the puz combines Word Jumble, Anagram Solver, and SCRABBLE. Either you know stuff, or you don't. Must be that these brainiacs can shuffle around letters until something fits, but they know nothing of sports, or entertainment, nor what an aglet is! I don't care about a SCRABBLEy puzzle; just a degree of difficulty with an iota of intrest. Enough vitriol from me.
    There wasn't much to dislike here. Might not be a sparkler, but just fine in my mind.(Tho it's time to retire EEL and ETES and EPEE.) Especially with that NOBLE BABE ISABEL.

    Okay BUD, what are the ODDS that I'll get a number to play:

    rondo 1:46 PM  

    BTW for the anagram crowd NOBLE BABE ISABEL = BABBOON BILE SALE. Don't buy it.

    rondo 2:09 PM  

    Oops too many Os

    DMG 3:17 PM  

    Simplistic Sal here just took the ANAGRAM thing to mean that the "theme" words could be parsed 3 different ways and you had to find the one that fit the down clues. So, that's what I did. Had the most trouble with 36A, Toyed with ROE vs DOE played with SLED vs SKID, And kept toying with the possible permutations until suddenly Mr. ANKA, came to my rescue. Thus I ended with DERIDES, and a smile! Never thought to look for the other ANAGRAM"sets". So goes Thursday.

    265 I think. Not that great!

    rain forest 3:44 PM  

    I thought it was fairly easy at first, except for the ROTARY, AKIMBO section, and I had put in
    WORRIED, DERIDES, DANGERS in the themers. Then I read the revealer clue, and so went back to figure out the other possible answers.

    However, I didn't put two letters per square where required--I just wrote the alternative answers at the side of the puzzle. Does that count, or is that a DNF? Regardless, I'm in agreement that the construction is impressive, though not mind-blowing, but as a solve--enjoyable.

    Waxy in Montreal 8:57 PM  

    Very impressive construction and fun to solve as well. Ashamed as a Canuck that I had ENYA before ANKA for far too long.

    Interesting that there is no single-word anagram for ANAGRAM (or ANAGRAMS), Sorta like the word PALINDROME not being a palindrome.

    My fav anagram trio: SINATRA, ARTISAN, TSARINA.

    KariSeattle 9:48 PM  

    Yay!!!! Fun to solve even though I was stuck on Anka Siri! A bit crunchy for me but doable! : )

    Unknown 11:36 PM  

    Put me in the "impressive construction not that fun to solve" camp. Still, kudos to KW and DQ.

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