1987 Robert Townsend satire / THU 2-8-18 / Month before Shawwal / Goddess often pictured in chariot / Biblical king who sought counsel of Witch of Endor

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Constructor: Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Medium (Easy, w/ hardness around the proper nouns, maybe)

THEME: "HOLLYWOOD / SHUFFLE" (57A: With 61-Across, 1987 Robert Townsend satire ... or a hint to deciphering four clues in this puzzle) — actors' names are clued via a "shuffling" (i.e. anagram) of their names:

Theme answers:
  • MEG RYAN (18A: Germany)
  • TAYE DIGGS (19A: Steady gig)
  • ANSEL ELGORT (33A: Ernest Gallo)
  • MARISA TOMEI (43A: "It's-a me, Mario!") (wow, slow clap for that one)
Word of the Day: "HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE" —
Hollywood Shuffle is a 1987 satirical comedy film about the racial stereotypes of African Americans in film and television. The film tracks the attempts of Bobby Taylor to become a successful actor and the mental and external roadblocks he encounters, represented through a series of interspersed vignettes and fantasies. Produced, directed, and co-written by Robert Townsend, the film is semi-autobiographical, reflecting Townsend's experiences as a black actor when he was told he was not “black enough” for certain roles. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a funny puzzle, because at its core, the theme is almost ridiculously basic. It's just an anagram puzzle. Clues are anagrams of answers. Who the hell cares? Well, if you can nail the revealer, such that you can adequately answer the question "Who the hell cares?" (or at least "Why?"), and if your anagram clues are interesting / ridiculous enough, and your grid is clean enough, then yeah, your ultra-basic concept can actually fly. I was in college when "HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE" came out and remember it well; plus, I watched almost every major motion picture from 1987 back in 2012 (I do weird, year-long things like that sometimes), so the movie is relatively fresh in my memory. There will be many solvers who have never heard of it, just as there will be many who either haven't heard of or, for the life of them, can't remember how to spell ANSEL ELGORT (the star of "Baby Driver" (2017)). I hate-loved seeing his name because I am among those who know who he is but will never, ever remember his name. He was in some teen thing that my daughter knows about ("The Fault in Our Stars," the Divergent series), and so I love torturing her by absolutely butchering his name. Athol Endswort? Engelbert Ampersand? But the truth is, I honestly *can't* remember what it is, and Eggbeard Athelstan sounds just as plausible as ANSEL ELGORT to me.

I am generally opposed to mining a show like "Game of Thrones" for every name its got because it's a cheap way to get bad fill into the grid. Also, I don't watch "Game of Thrones," and resent being asked to know stuff about it time and time again (can I get some clues about "Better Call Saul" or "Atlanta" or "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," please?). Anyway, ELIA (2D: ___ Martell, "Game of Thrones" princess) was a mystery, as was TAYE DIGGS for a while (until I realized what was going on). So starting out was slightly rough, but the fill around those answers was all very easy, so off I went. Only two real struggles. First, I wrote in RAMS and ARAPAHO ... then second-guessed everything when I couldn't figure out how 7D: Total arithmetically could fit the -R- pattern. SUM or ADD, I thought (it's ARE). Then I didn't know 6A: Month before Shawwal and of course there was the still enigmatic [Germany] (MEG RYAN), so I froze a little. Also wanted the Elisabeth on the Rolling Stone cover to be SHUE (my go-to "s"-spelling Elisabeth after Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (look her up!)) (21A: Actress Elisabeth who's been on the cover of Rolling Stone, ironically ... is a great clue). Also don't really understand NON- as a prefix for "denial" (?). So slower up there than I would've liked, and slow again in the SW, where I couldn't see OFFER (50D: Word that becomes its own synonym if you add "pr" to the front) or WHIT (55D: Tiny amount) and guessed SUN for LYE (62D: Burn cause). Two Acrosses down there were cross-referenced, adding to the slowness. But as I say, this was mostly easy everywhere else.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. AM RADIO (63A: Band not known for music?) was definitely known for music at one point, so that clue was weird

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:17 AM  
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Lewis 6:19 AM  

This felt fresh and fun. I liked SIDEEYE and loved the clues for AM RADIO and MOSS. Never heard of ANSEL ELGORT, but it came through fair crosses.

Funny how the brain works. My last square was the E in ARE. I was sure of everything else in that corner, but couldn't crack "Total arithmetically" after ADD and SUM didn't work, and I just didn't see ARE as the answer even with the AR_! But the killer was that I forgot that 18A was a theme answer (being symmetrical with SHUFFLE), and as I mentally placed vowels in that missing square I was seeing 18A as a regular answer and actually choosing between the "adjectives" MOGRYAN and MEGRYAN, thinking they were adjectival synonyms for Germany that I had never heard of, which is very strange in its own right. That is, I was seeing MEGRYAN only as an adjective (accent on the first syllable MEG) because my brain wasn't accepting that it could be anything but that part of speech. I was looking directly at MEG RYAN but didn't see MEG RYAN! That is wild... and kinda cool. And, yes, kinda dumb.

Trombone Tom 6:22 AM  

OMG are the comments starting off this way? Yecch!

I agree down the line with @Rex today. I pondered the arithmetic clue for a long time before seeing ARE.

And ANSEL ELGORT was a total WOE. Never heard of him. But even for someone like MEG RYAN the cluing was not much help.

Speaking of cluing, the one for AM RADIO was a great misdirect. Unlike @Rex I identify AM with "talk radio" and seek music on FM.

Did not recognize the anagrams until I looked twice at TAYE DIGGS.

This Eric Agard puzzle was indeed made tougher by the anagrams.

Harryp 6:35 AM  

Solved the puzzle, but didn't get the anagram theme until I looked again at MEGRYAN and saw Germany. Good puzzle.

BarbieBarbie 6:52 AM  

I had @Lewis’ MEGRYAN experience, plus one- I never did see it as MEG RYAN until I came here. [red face]

I got the anagram thing and even ANSELELGART or whatever, and I STILL was overthinking the theme- never having heard of AE I thought there had to be some inventing of Hollywood names going on, with first and last names borrowed from different people, or that Ernest Gallo wasn’t the real name of Julio’s brother, or... then MARISATOMEI’s clue was that cartoon-Italian stuff and I was trying to relate that somehow to the Gallo one... so this was a hybrid puzzle for me, a very crunchy theme embedded in a very easy puzzle. I guess Shortz has some kind of policy that proper names need to be offset by gimmes, but that only guarantees that nothing will be really rewarding. Not my favorite Thursday. And I love Thursdays.

Still, there was SILENTO and NOT STIRRED. And AHAS. So, OK puzzle.

Almost never have to prove I’m not a robotic

ncmathsadist 7:03 AM  

Simply hated it.

Two Ponies 7:05 AM  

I was really looking forward to some Thursday fun...and I still am.

Not a fan of anagrams or proper names so this couldn't be worse if it tried.

Stink eye or evil eye but not side eye, whatever that is.

The only Moss I know is Kate.

Why the ? in the clue for hanks? Hank of hair is pretty straight-forward to me.

After I was done I wondered if this was a role call for Harvey Weinstein's casting couch.

Biff Gnarly 7:12 AM  

While Rex may not watch Game of Thrones it sounds like he does watch Vikings.

kitshef 7:26 AM  


Other than that, enjoyable enough. Nice tip of the cap to Sindiland’s remarkable poet.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

Not fun.
Did not like this.

Irene 7:35 AM  

Hated it and, like one of the other commenters, I always look forward to Thursdays.
Didn't get the anagram till I fell on Marisa Tomei. Never saw Meg Ryan until Rex pointed it out. And definitely never heard of Ansel Elgort or Taye Diggs. Or Side Eye, for that matter.

I question the clue for "waif." And "non" is too generic for the clue.

OTOH, I enjoyed AMRADIO, TMOBILE and SILENTO and the clues for MOSS and TEXT.

QuasiMojo 7:42 AM  

I find Anagrams adorbs. So I was really DIGGing this one. Instead of an AHA moment, however, I had an OMG one. That's when I realized that MEG RYAN is an anagram of GERMANY. (I'm old enough to still think of that country as being two countries, so I always sorta FACE PLANT myself when I remember it's now unified. I even went to East Berlin once when I was a kid and went through Checkpoint Charlie.)

But considering that I thought ANSEL ELGORT was a photographer (I was merging Ansel Adams with Arthur Elgort) and have never heard of Taye Diggs, or HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE, and only know Marisa Tomei from one (ATE IT) movie, I took longer to finish this one than I suspect most of you did.

Because of my SIDEEYE problem, peripheral vision thing going (ELLIPSES here), going... gone, I thought that we had to add PRE (not PR) before OFFER and therefore was thinking PRE-OP something or other.

Loved the clue for MOSS. I just finished reading the "tawdry" new bio of ROLLING STONE founder Jann Wenner. It reminds me of the old saying, attributed to Alice Roosevelt Longworth: "If you don't have anything nice to say about someone, come sit by me."

And yes, Rex, I agree. AGES AGO when I used to lie (not lay) on the beach, I always listened to AM on my transistor RADIO. Cousin Brucie's lilting voice would dominate the air waves. Pals would gather on my beach towel and sing along with me. Now all my friends listen to Spotify Premium on their cell phones. I tried it out for a month. I would "browse" for a singer and then have to slog my way through dozens of cover artists who don't know a WHIT about portamento or putting a song over! And I had to listen to entire troughs of similar tunes. Give me back the annoying ads from the glory days of AM RADIO anytime!

crackblind 7:49 AM  

I figured out the gimmick pretty early but totally got stuck on MEGRYAN because I didn't realize it was one of the theme answers. I had
--GRYAN for Germany, so I thought I was looking for some kind of variation of "Aryan" for way too long.

As for NON as a prefix for Denial, it harks back to the Watergate years, which unfortunately has become way too relevant these days, with the "non-denial denial." Hell, I can still hear Hoffman & Redford arguing about that in my head.

J. McGill 7:54 AM  

S'all good, man.

TomAz 7:56 AM  

I'd never heard of either ANSEL ELGORT or TAYE DIGGS, so I started slow. I had these two across answers that just looked like a jumble.. except they were plausible wordish things (not four consonants in a row). So I completed what I could in the NW and W, and kept plowing through, and then at some point I figured out (AHA) that the answers were just the jumbled letters of the clues. So I had TAYEDIGGS and ANSELELGORT but didn't know what language that was supposed to be. When I made my way over to the NE, I filled in most of that section when MEG RYAN jumped from the puzzle, leapt into my arms, and gave me a nice big smooch. Now I was onto something. Shortly after, MARISA TOMEI did the same. The HOLLYWOOD part of the revealer became obvious from the crosses and then I just dropped in SHUFFLE off one of the Fs, because it made sense and I figured it was just yet another movie I hadn't seen.

I still didn't know who/what TAYEDIGGS and ANSELELGORT were, but was confident at this point to take it on faith that some parsing of those letters would get you some actors' names I had never heard of. Et, voila.

I thought the rest of the puzzle played very, very easy for a Thursday. So many answers that were a simple 'read clue, write answer'. I didn't know RAMADAN for sure, but it was my first answer and the crosses made it hold. (RAMADAN being the only Islamic month I could name). Across the middle swath: SAABS ANGLO USEUP LAM LORE DOTS BURMA ANIME ROLEX I just dropped in with no hesitation. That sure softened things up a lot and made the tricks a lot easier to see.

As one who grew up listening to Casey Kasem's Top 40 on AM RADIO, 63A made me cringe a bit.

52D's clue implies that OFFER and prOFFER are synonyms. I thought they had slightly different meanings. I don't know why anyone would ever feel the need to use prOFFER at all, but, there it is.

I prattle. In the end: I thought this was somewhere between OK and pretty good. I'd've enjoyed it quit a bit more I think if I had ever heard the names of those two actors.

BKH 8:08 AM  

Hi. Barbara here.

I interpreted the clue in 12d to mean that when you attach “non” to anything it was sort of a “denial” of that word.

Andrew Rosen 8:10 AM  

I kinda enjoyed it - would have been even better if the anagram clues were somehow related to the answers.

I feel stupid - but can someone explain the ARE clue - still don’t get it.

Z 8:11 AM  

If my name were ANSEL ELGORT I would oh so quickly change it to Engelbert Ampersand. That is a +1 name if I ever saw one.

“Feature in ‘People’” got me. Did the D’Oh slap when I finally got LILY and ELIA.

I’m not sure I like anagrams mixing with my puzzles. Again, word play > letter play. Toss in the inherent wheelhouse v outhouse nature of doing PPP based anagrams*, and that puts this definitely on the low end of “favorite Erik Agard Puzzles.” I like the cluing (sorry, Rex, but AM RADIO has been the bastion of RWNJ’s for at least 20 years and hasn’t been known for music since I was in Junior High), and the fill was fresh, but still not really my cuppa.

@Alex Wright from late Tuesday - No. I gotcha. But if you accept the transitive property of inequality as your premise you can than prove the transitive property of equality. A somewhat fuller objection just posted on the proper day because *spoilers*.

*PPP is short for Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns. but not Post-Puzzle Puzzler because some people just can’t stand a little bonus challenge in the comments section. No, I’m not still bitter.

relicofthe60s 8:12 AM  

Count me among those who never heard of HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE or ANSEL ELGORT, whose name looks like a typo. But why is it OK to include them but not characters from Game of Thrones, even though millions of people watch it? Oh, right, Rex doesn’t, so it’s bad and wrong. Sheesh.

Z 8:15 AM  

@BKH - You reminded me - I was surprised at Rex’s seeming unfamiliarity with NON-denial since the era of #MeToo has seen lots of these from powerful men. I think Louis CK got slammed with the accusation of issue a NON-denial and a NON-apology, but there have been others.

Suzie Q 8:18 AM  

Isn't it weird that Ansel Elgort(who?) is the anagram of another proper name? Sort of an outlier in the theme. If they all had been proper name to another proper name that would have been cool!

John Child 8:25 AM  

People and things that were and mostly remain completely unknown:

SARA, as clued

Consequently not a whole lot of fun puzzling out the proper names, and a Saturday time to finish. Happy to learn the capital of BOTSWANA and may remember the Hijri calendar month.

Unknown 8:27 AM  

Volume of commentary suggests puzzle challenged anyone > age 30. Once again Rex sour grapes his impotence.

alexscott68 8:31 AM  

"It's a NON-DENIAL denial." —Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee in All the President's Men.

Just means a weasely way of denying some accusation without actually denying it. It's in the lexicon if you are a political news junkie.

TomAz 8:32 AM  

@QuasiMojo: That's the AM RADIO experience I'm talking about right there. Yes.

But I like Spotify Premium quite a bit, in fact I don't know how I could do without it. When I was a teenager I would only buy one album a week (at most) because I didn't really have the money. so what to buy? It really limited my exposure to all sorts of different kinds of music (with limited resources I tended to focus on what I knew I liked, rather than experimenting). As a grown adult I could afford a bit more and buy albums and then CDs, but still, my reach was limited.

What I like about the concept of a 'subscription' service is I can try stuff out. Now the kids who grew up with Napster etc, this is all they've ever known, but for me, it's been absolutely liberating. Spotify works for me (this is not a paid endorsement) and I find it very intuitive to use, but each to their own I suppose.

RavTom 8:33 AM  
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Stanley Hudson 8:38 AM  

From Roger McGuinn account on Twitter:

Pandora played "Eight Miles High" 228086 times in the second quarter of 2016 and paid me $1.79

But maybe Spotify pays better than Pandora.

Sir Hillary 8:42 AM  

I love anagrams, but recognize the "been there done that" factor when they're used as the basis for a theme. What sets this one apart is the consistency of the set being anagrammed and the excellent revealer. So, while I'm with @Z in thinking Agard has done far better puzzles, this is about as good as an anagram puzzle gets, and it took Agard to do it. All good here.

Germany was married to Dine-in squad, and Steady gig was married to Lazed in mine, although the latter would be much more "Forbidden Broadway" than "Hollywood Shuffle".

Audible chuckle at the MOSS clue.

Wish it had been tougher, but a fun Thursday puzzle nonetheless.

Unknown 8:45 AM  

Not as adept or experienced as most of the readers here. For me, this was pretty satisfying. Had the AHA moment with Germany/Meg Ryan after a bit and then two of the other three fell quickly. Just watched Baby Driver for the first time recently and had no clue about the name. Looked like random letters for longer than it should have to me. First time I have finished a Thursday puzzle with no errors (a paltry feat to most of you I know, but I was pleased) so no complaints here.

Glimmerglass 8:47 AM  

My experience was much like @tomaz. I tumbled to the anagrams with MEG RYAN and MARISA TOMEI, but I never heard of the o5her two. However, in both cases, I had all but one letter from crosses, so it was easy to find it in the clue, Both struck me as gibberish, but at least possible. Then it took me forever to think of SHUFFLE as a synonym for anagram (never heard of that movie). So the SW corner was hard too, for me. Other stuff (SARA, Shawwal, SIDE EYE) were also not in my wheelhouse. So this was hard for me, and I nearly gave up.

Unknown 8:48 AM  

Ellipses = curves, or ovals

Ellipsis = three (always three, Donald) dots indicating something left out.

PromOnMars 8:51 AM  

Loved it. But I know both HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE and ANSEL ELGORT well enough.

Teedmn 8:55 AM  

@Carola, from yesterday, if you get all the way up to Bayfield, do consider taking a side trip west to Amnicon Falls State Park, which is about 67 miles west according to Google maps. I've hiked it twice. Unbelievably beautiful waterfalls around every corner and nice wooden bridges crossing the numerous river branches. It's unlike anywhere else I've been in Wisconsin.

And I'm rather partial to the MN side of Superior also, where it is more rock and cliff; beautiful, historical Duluth and further northeast, Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock lighthouse.

Brendon Bouzard 9:02 AM  

As it turns out, actor ANSEL ELGORT is the son of photographer Arthur Elgort and is named after Ansel Adams, so your thinking wasn’t wildly off there.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Michael Sharp -> Spherical Ham
-> Cherish a Palm
-> Charisma Help
->A Shrimp Leach
->A Champ Relish
->Caliph's Harem

wgh 9:06 AM  

The NW killed me. But enjoyed it overall, well done.

Matthew G. 9:12 AM  

I loved this. I’d rather have a basic theme like this with great fill and fun clues than a tight theme with a boring supporting cast.

The only problem was that I have never, ever heard of ANSEL ELGORT and was sure I must have one of those letters wrong. That does not look like a name!

Nancy 9:25 AM  

21A was worth the price of admission. I nominate it for the COTY Award -- Clue of the Year.

I figured out the anagram theme at ANSEL ELGORT (who????, which was unfortunate for me, since I thought all the theme answers were all going to be just as long, just as hard, and just as obscure. Happily they weren't. I didn't get to HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE for a while, (I needed the crosses to get it since I've never heard of the movie), so while I knew there were anagrams of proper names, I still didn't know why.

I don't think NOT/STIRRED is enough of a Bond specification. You need SHAKEN to come first.

Oh that kind of "young stray" (55A). I wanted DOGIE.

What, pray tell, is a SIDE EYE (64A)? Any relation to a fish eye? A stink eye?

I feel I should have enjoyed this more than I did. But it was a bit too much like work. And there were many too many names.

mathgent 9:26 AM  

Excellent! The fill had crunch and sparkle and yet it was easy enough to allow me to see the gimmick.

Is Hollywood Shuffle worth seeing?

I should look up RAMADAN. It's a month? I thought that it was a season, sort of the Muslim equivalent of Lent.

RooMonster 9:26 AM  

Hey All !
For all those who don't know, here is Taye Diggs. Maybe you've seen him?

Anyway, puz was OK. Took me a while to figure out what the hay was going on. Forgetting how TAYE was spelled didn't help, and Natick crossed with ELIA also didn't help. Caught the trick where alot of you got stuck, at MEG RYAN. The ole brain said, "What the heck does Germany have to do with MEG RYAN?" Then the AHAS, as I said, "Oh, anagrams". Have seen "Baby Driver", but Mr. ELGORT isn't yet a household name. Have seen him in another movie.

lAw for BAN, had me wanting lectric-Shave, but of course didn't fit. Never heard of HANKS of hair. Don't give a WHIT about overpriced ROLEXes ET ALII. Haven't thought about Pixy STIX in forever. It's amazing our parents used to buy those for us! Sugar rush city.

Mini zoo theme today, RAMS, HEIFER, OINK, DOGS, LAM(b), SSS(clue).


K. Wexler 9:33 AM  

@ J. McGill-watch out for slippin' Jimmy

pmdm 9:36 AM  

I'm not comfortable with proper nouns, even when I know them. It's not, surprising, then that this puzzle is perhaps the least liked puzzle I have ever done. If you are familiar with the names, this puzzle is easy. (The reader comments makes that clear.) If not, the puzzle is anything but enjoyable. I have not been a fan of Mr. Agard's in the past for a number of reasons. After trying to do this puzzle (which, with the help of searching the net, I almost finished) I am hopping Mr. Agard suffers construction block. I thought I would never say that, but this puzzle set me over the edge. Now I know how Mr. Sharp feels (most of the time).

By the way, someone yesterday asked what happened to evil doug and I don't think that question was answered (at least when I read the comments). A bit of a while ago, he complained he was getting upset with the quality of puzzles. I don't remembers if he mentioned the WSJ or the LA Times, but he said he much preferred their puzzles and was going to stop solving the NY Times puzzle. That would be the reason. [Mr. Evil, if you still read these comments and I am incorrect, please correct.]

Mohair Sam 9:39 AM  

57A is just flat-out wrong - Robert Townsend wrote "Up the Organization", and he wrote it way before 1987. C'mon Shortz, let's edit these things.

ANSEL ELGORT - "Baby Driver" is mindless fun, we loved it. Awesome car chases, bad guy with a heart of gold, Jack Hamm terrific in the Glen Close roll (bad guy who gets killed but refuses to die - repeatedly here).

@Quasimojo - You took my spot on the beach, my transistor got Murray the K as the DJ (Cousin Bruce came shortly thereafter) and Vin Scully doing the Brooklyn Dodger games.

@Rex - I'm with you - I've read all five volumes of GoT and still get annoyed with the names. Especially when they're of actors and actresses - I won't buy HBO just to watch one story.

The puzzle? Liked it a lot, and I usually hate anagrams (because I'm lousy at them). MEGRYAN saved our day too. Clues for MOSS and AMRADIO were terrific.

Unknown 9:47 AM  


And why is it ironic that Elisabeth Moss (whoever that is) was on the front cover of Rolling Stone?

John Child 9:49 AM  

Three and seven are ten.

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Unknown 9:53 AM  

@John Child: I appreciate the response but your first answer is as cryptic as the clue in the puzzle! What am I missing?

fvigeland 9:54 AM  

“It’s-a me, Mario” translating to MARISA TOMEI is absolutely bonkers. Loved this puzzle.

@pmdm: I’m really saddened to hear that. Erik is truly one of the best and most inventive constructors there is. I think you may not jive with his puzzles because they feel so different—just look at that MOSS clue, that’s classic Erik. That freshness, that feeling that you’re solving a different puzzle than you’re used to in the NYT, is a really good thing but understandably tough as well if you feel like your old habits aren’t helping you solve it. Anyway, Erik’s not going away any time soon… check out the puzzles on his website and you’ll really fall for him.

Chip Hilton 10:05 AM  

What a great day for ANSELELGORT! I’m sure that there are countless solvers who, like me, had never heard the name but will now have it permanently entered in their memory.

I enjoyed this. It took me quite a while to figure out the anagram theme but I had everything but the four theme clues done by then and finally saw the light.

Tip of the hat to Coach Chris Mullin and his St. John’s basketball team. When a team that’s 0-11 in conference beats Villanova, the number one team in the country (days after beating number four Duke), that’s worthy of plaudits.

QuasiMojo 10:06 AM  

Errata: I meant Face Palm, not Plant. I am not really up on the lingo.

@Nat, I was using ELLIPSIS in the plural, ELLIPSES, although I didn't need to. Good point!

@TomAz, that is indeed what makes the orb spherical or the donut a torus. Pandora is like being stuck in an elevator and having to listen to Muzak for an eternity. I have taken to listening to Your Classical Radio which has various channels depending on your mood, but not one alas on Opera.

@Brendon Bouzard, thanks for the info! I love learning new stuff here. (Any relation to Brenda Boozer? She was once married to Tinkle Borer.)

Amelia 10:12 AM  
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ArtO 10:12 AM  

ANSEL ELGORT??!! pullleeze! Never heard of HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE. What a slog.

Nancy 10:14 AM  

@TomAz (7:46) -- You're right -- they're not exactly the same. I can OFFER you a job but I can't PROFFER you a job. PROFFER has to be done physically: e.g. I can PROFFER you a ROLEX watch, but only if I take it out of my pocket and flash it in front of you. And, with PROFFER, the PROFFERer knows that the PROFFERee may choose not to accept. As in the case of the ROLEX being a bribe, for example. And btw, Tom, you can "prattle" as much as you like, as far as I'm concerned. You prattle so prettily.

@Quasi (7:42) and Mohair (9:39) -- You guys may be charmers now, but if back in the day you were lying on the beach anywhere near me, playing some scratchy transistor radio tuned to some godawful AM station, I would have run away from you both just as fast as my little bare feet would carry me.

GILL I. 10:17 AM  

Where have all my Thursdays gone? Long time passing.
Oh, I really enjoy me a good Erik Agard puzzle. Not today so much. I had to work really hard to get TAYEDIGGS and ANSELELGORT to only scratch my head wondering who dat?
I got the anagram bit with MEG RYAN Germany. Because I didn't know those other names I thought maybe there was more to the anagram. I looked at those names backwards, sideways, up and down....Finally threw in the towel. Come here and seems some of you know these names....good-o. And I've never heard of HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE so that made my loud meh even louder.
I did enjoy some of the cluing. I've never heard of Elizabeth MOSS but with the Rolling Stone clue, what other name would fit? Same with LILY. cute!
Perhaps Erik could have clued Starship's second # 1 hit after the stupidest song ever made on this earth by a purported human being was released. SARA is ok - barely.
@Rex...you have your SAUL at 24A for your Better Call Saul episode. Agree that is a terrific series. I wish I didn't have to wait so long for the net episode. But, don't go dissing my GOT. You haven't watched it but millions have. I had to watch three episodes before I became hooked. And I did!
@Stanley Hudson and @BarbieBarbie from yesterday. My husband has zero interest in a crossword blog. He can't imagine discussing puzzle stuff but on occasion I'll read him some of the funny or snide remarks. He always wants to know what I'm reading when I laugh out loud - so I'll show him a post or two. When he got to @BarbieBarbie he said "how do they know your not lying through your teeth?" My reply..."Well, I sent a picture!"

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Today's comments baffle me. I am a 46 year old Midwestern housewife (i.e. not a pop-culture maven), and I zipped through this puzzle in half my normal Thursday time. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

@John Morrison thanks for your insightful commentary.

CY 10:22 AM  

"Band not known for music" clues AM RADIO by contrast with the other band of radio spectrum used for broadcast, i.e. the band associated with FM radio. Given that, to quote Wikipedia, "FM broadcasting is capable of better sound quality than AM broadcasting, the chief competing radio broadcasting technology, so it is used for most music broadcasts", I expect that, for as long as any band has been particularly known as the "music band", it has always been FM. If true, that weakens Rex's complaint.

Of course, both AM and FM [radio] technically refer, not to the bands of radio frequency that are customarily assigned to these two formats, but to the encoding techniques (amplitude and frequency modulation, respectively) they use to convert sound waves to radio waves and vice versa. That's a separate quibble.

I love words 10:29 AM  

Yes @Nat 8:48. And "ellipses" is the plural of both "ellipse" and "ellipsis." So cool.

King of Pain 10:29 AM  

I had never heard of Ansel Elgort until this morning either but FYI and FWIW, his Wikipedia page is a lot longer than that of his anagram, Joseph Gallo, who is long dead and whom no one seems to have a problem with being in the puzzle. We all have our pockets of knowledge. Mine, like most commenters, here, tend to skew older. Let’s not be ageist. Oh, I believe Jon Hamm was Ansel’s co-star. Jack Ham was a linebacker.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

@Calman and how is it possible you are this dense?

Matthew G. 10:32 AM  

Upon reflection, the clue for AM RADIO could have been significantly improved just by adding the word "anymore" to the end of the clue.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

@Nancy There are no two words in the English language that are universally exchangeable. Fortunately, the definition of "synonym" does not require them to be so.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Yes, @Matthew, constructors should make all the clues really easy, just for you.

King of Pain 10:37 AM  

Um Ernest not Joesph but otherwise think I’m right ha ha

Phil Calbi 10:51 AM  

So to be clear, the theme of this puzzle is the title of a 30 year old movie that almost nobody saw, because yeah, a film that grossed only $5 million, even in the 1980s means that almost nobody saw it. But hey, it’s clued using the world famous ?? Robert Townsend?? which I guess makes up for it. And even if that doesn’t do it for you, as long as your acquainted with the ubiquitous Ansel Elgort, a household name in apparently one household, that being the owner of this blog, then you’re fine.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

Phil, you need to get out more.

Hartley70 11:01 AM  

I so enjoyed this one! I was stumbling around in the NW until I had enough letters to wonder how the answer could possibly be TAYEDIGGS. I was expecting a rebus. It was MEGRYAN who really woke me up.

ANSEL and his crazy last name was an identity mystery until I had finished and googled to realize that I knew that kid from the Divergent movies. I might admit to The Fault In Our Stars too, if it wasn't so awfully terrible, worse than TRH of Atlanta maybe.

The RAM falling down from RAMADAN felt a little like cheating.

I have never heard of the HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE so SHUFFLE took a bit of fiddling. That first F had me thinking of some sort of File. It was a perfect revealer.

Unknown 11:13 AM  

I am desperately sesrching for the explanation behind 7D and 67A.

John Hoffman 11:16 AM  

​Whoever heard of this book/movie/play called “Hollywood Shuffle” from 30 years ago? Way too obscure to be a puzzle theme. TAYEDIGGS? ANSELELGORT?

I got the theme very late and had a good amount of trouble in southeast corner. For 57 down “Attention,” I wasn’t thinking of HEED as a noun. As in: “he paid no heed.”

I wish we could have seamless puzzles rather than this oddness. This one was a lot of trouble, with zero fun.

Hartley70 11:18 AM  

@Calman 11:13, ten ducks and 20 ducks ARE 30 ducks. And it hurts when HANKS of hair are yanked out in a schoolyard fight.

jb129 11:21 AM  

I agree with Rex on 21 across (Elisabeth) Moss is a great clue - otherwise didn't like this puzzle at all.

Unknown 11:27 AM  

What if the total is just one? Seems like a horrible clue.

Moly Shu 11:27 AM  

When your clue, Ernest Gallo, is arguably more famous than your answer, ANSEL neverheardofhim, you might want to rethink your gimmick. Or not. No problems here thanks to crosses and my vast knowledge of the Sand Snakes.
@BiffGnarly, good catch. I had the exact same thought.

Jenskis70 11:33 AM  

It was the WSJ.

Bob Mills 11:46 AM  

Good idea, bad execution. The four theme clues aren't arranged symmetrically, and they aren't starred. And really, folks...couldn't we come up with Hollywood people more familiar than Faye Diggs and Ansel Elgort? Maybe Sonny Tufts?

I would have finished it 100% except I had "Hollywood souffle" for 61-Across.

Mark N 11:46 AM  

I thought this was a splendid one with a lot of fun fills... maybe overly-cutesy clues in a few places, but fun and nice AHAS for the theme.

Jenskis70 11:47 AM  

Try VivaLaVoce on Tunein Radio (it’s free). It’s part of Classical WETA which you also might like.

puzzlehoarder 11:48 AM  

This was an easy but never boring puzzle. It came in just a couple of minutes over the Wednesday average. Usually there's a good four minute or more jump between the two days.

Like most people I figured out the anagram theme from MEGRYAN. I also briefly wondered if it was some kind of aryan mash up as I had filled it starting at MAGMA and first going east.

The next two names were unknown so I really had to rely on the crosses, which were easy. TAYEDIGGS was the last to be filled because I had a STEPPLE/STEEPLE write over. Vertical arrangement helps to trigger these "Which letter do I double?" dyslexic misspellings. I was favoring ELIE for 2D up until that point because of "princess" being part of the clue. TAYE was much stronger than TEYE and by then I'd forgotten all about the word princess anyway so it was no problem.

The clue for AMRADIO was great. According to xwordinfo this is only the second time it's been clued this way. Today's version was even more terse than the original and in my opinion better.

From the clue I assumed HOLLYWOODSHUFFLE was a movie and the unknown names were actors as well. The ironic thing is I've seen and enjoyed "Baby Driver" but until now I had no idea who that kid was.

Speaking of kids, I consider Erik Agard to be one of the current crop of wunderkind constructors.

Joseph Michael 11:50 AM  

- Sea Moment
- Nearly Iron Mom
- Mice tours
- A Snowed Johnny
- Smelter Prey
- And Normal Bro

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Ho cakes! Hos gotta eat too Bobby.

DolbyBan 11:56 AM  

@whoever asked about the irony of Moss, it is from the old adage or biblical? axiom that a rolling stone gathers no moss. Can someone finally explain to me if that is meant to be a good thing or a bad thing? Personally I like moss — it’s soft and comfy at times, but I’m not sure I’d want to grow some on myself.

Jill 11:59 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jill 12:00 PM  

The northeast was a bit brutal to me. I had SUM instead of ARE, so I faced some difficulty there. Took me anagramming Germany on a piece of paper to finally figure it out. A bit surprised at the number of people here who have not heard of SIDEEYE. A fun diversion while our computer system is down at work.

jberg 12:05 PM  

Fortunately, I've been working away to solve some anagram puzzles @Nancy sent me (thanks!), so once I saw that 61A was SHUFFLE I gave up trying to parse 43A as something from Donkey Kong and put in MARISA TOMEI, I'd vaguely heard of her and TAYE DIGGS, but got ANSEL ELGORT only because I had all the other crosses so the remaining one had to be a G. I haven't seen the movie, but again had vaguely heard of it.

For all those still puzzled by 7D, give a listen to the children's voices in the background of this song by Danny Kaye.

Sadly, Casey Kasem is dead, to the clue for 63A is right for today.

I plumped for Spotify about a year ago, and have come to like it quite a bit. There's a bidirectional learning curve; I had to learn how to search effectively, for those times when I wanted to hear a particular piece or a particular artist; and Spotify learned what I would like to hear, so that now if I click on the Doscover Weekly playlist, I am very pleasantly surprised - stuff that mostly I've never heard, but that I like. That wasn't the case when I started out with it. According to the Lefsetz Letter, it pays much better than Pandora -- but of course you have to get a lot of downloads to make real money. Many do, apparently.

For hair pieces, see this Kipling poem.

Masked and Anonymous 12:17 PM  

A well-made ThursPuz, but lost many many nanosecs, due to what I didn't know. Did understand the puztheme mcguffin pretty early-on, thanx to the GERMANY shuffle.

ssstaff weeject pick: SSS. Admire itsss desssperation.


Thanx, Mr. Agard. A grad-A puz.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Banana Diaquiri 12:18 PM  

kindly explain ARE as an arithmetic answer? and there is Ansel Adams and Larry Elgart. no other.

Stanley Hudson 12:22 PM  

@Gill I., great story about hubby.

@jberg, thanks for info from Lefsetz Letter.

Unknown 12:26 PM  

I'm not sure if people appreciate the MARISA TOMEI anagram enough. For anyone born in the 80's who played Nintendo games at all (I think that's a big chunk), the phrase "It's-a me, Mario!" is absolutely iconic. The debut of the Nintendo 64 console was a huge moment in video game history, and the instant you turned it on, that's the phrase you heard. It's like the sound bite of my childhood. Here is a 3-second video:

Brilliant. Also, who doesn't love Marisa Tomei?!

Whatsername 12:28 PM  

I got the shuffle gimmick right away with Germany/Meg Ryan. Then was able to get the other three pretty quickly, even 33A who I never heard of by filling in the missing letters. I thought the clue for 65A was a little off. A triangular shaped sign might be used occasionally but for the most part, official Warning signs are diamond shaped.

QuasiMojo 12:35 PM  

Your loss @Nancy. I looked good in my white denim cut-offs back then. :)

Nancy 12:40 PM  

What interesting links you PROFFER, @jberg (12:05)! I couldn't remember the 7D answer, but once I saw it was ARE, I immediately knew what the Danny Kaye reference was going to be. A wonderful song from a wonderful scene in a wonderful movie.

As to the Kipling link for HANK, I thought I knew every Kipling poem ever written but I didn't know this one. Also a very good find. (Though, truth to tell, it did seem like pretty minor Kipling to me, compared to, say, "Gunga Din" and "Tommy".)

My immediate thought on HANK of hair was a song, "Honeycomb," from the Fifties:
Well, honeycomb, won't you be my baby,
Honeycomb be my own.
Got a HANK o' hair
And a piece o' bone,
I made a walkin', talkin' Honeycomb...

Maybe you had to be there. Here's the Youtube link, just not in blue:

Joe Bleaux 12:52 PM  

More slog than fun in places, but still satisfying, so thanks, Mr. Agard. @Z, Yes, most of the accused sexual offenders have made half-assed apologies, but I wouldn't cite Louis CK as Exhibit A when it comes to NON-denials. The first words of his statement were "These stories are true."

kitshef 12:56 PM  

One and one are two,
Two and Two are four.
I only wish to goodness
There wasn’t any more
Adding and subtracting,
Really, what’s the use?
When Churchill was at school
They say he was a goose.
Yet he became Prime Minister
And helped us win the war.
Because he didn’t waste his time
Two and two are four.


Nancy 12:58 PM  

White denim cutoffs! Wow!

BarbieBarbie 1:18 PM  

Speaking of pieces of hair--- and anagrammed MARISA--- coincidentally I was listening to a Radiolab podcast this morning and they were talking about an FMRI experiment where the people running the experiment had to interview the participants to make sure they didn't have any metal on them. One of the questions was "do you have a hairpiece?" and since the lead researcher was Italian, the volunteers kept thinking she was asking "do you have-a herpes?" so they had to change to a question about wigs.

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

I was pulling out HANKS of hair over the SW today. HEIFER was the only thing I had south of EOS. I finally re-read 38A and decided "Bond specification" had nothing to do with stocks and bonds and everything to do with James. Having HEED as a noun also threw me off.

Over in the SE, mANeS before HANKS deafened me to the OINKS of 59D but 54D's magus gift broke that open.

I discovered the anagram part of the puzzle at "Steady gig". However. I did not notice that any of the anagrammed clues turned into new names. Not once did I turn back to read what the anagrams became. I used my pen to cross out the letters in the clue that I already had in the grid and used those to figure out where the rest went. If I had realized I could just see MARISA TOMEI forming, I wouldn't have had to use the process of elimination to place the O and E of BOTSWANA and ROLEX and I might have finished in less than the near 20 minutes it took. Sheesh.

Nice one, Erik.

Phil 1:34 PM  

38 Across Bond specification NON TAXABLE
April 15 closing in

Birchbark 1:40 PM  

I could offer not to, but I would PROFFER not to. -- Bartleby the Scrivener.

Unknown 2:08 PM  

Someone out there must be able to (PR)offer a reasonable explanation for 7D. I really don't understand it at all.

Aketi 2:11 PM  

@Quasi and @Nancy, the only reason did this puzzle today was because I was procrastinating about working on taxes and financial aid forms. I got the theme right away but I was so uninspired that I almost abandoned it to work on taxes. You both made me glad I bothered because of the images that popped into my head from your conversation I see @Quasi strutting in white denim cutoff shorts on the beach with a scratchy transitor radio on his shoulder past @mohair lounging on a beach towel in Hawaiian shorts with a beer in hand and his own scratchy transistor and @Nancy approaching you wielding a Yamaha racket in righteous indignation. @Nancy, while I can envision you in bare feet, I simply could not envision you running away from anyone who pissed you off. I do know, however, that unlike the vision in my head, that in real life you politely but firmly make your point when you are pissed off and that it would be highly unlikely that you would bop someone on the head with a tennis racket or smash the transitor radio.

catpez 2:42 PM  

I, too, saw HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE in college since it was a favorite film on my floor at Dobie dormitory, UT Austin. Friends would quote it ad nauseum.

Never heard of HANKS of hair--wanted HACKS instead (at least getting your hair hacked off makes sense).

While I'll never be good at anagrams, at least per Bobby's grandma, I can still find a good job at the post office.

JC66 2:44 PM  

@ Calman Snoffelevich

Read @kitshef's 12:56 PM post
ARE is synonymous to equals.
When you total something mathematically, you're doing addition.
I hope this helps.

Hand up for not parsing MEGRYAN properly until reading @Rex and having never heard of ANSELELGORT.

I did know Elizabeth MOSS (great clue) from The West Wing, Mad Men and The Handmaid's Tale.

@Nancy & @Quasi

I sported a black SPEEDO!

fvigeland 2:48 PM  

@Bob Mills: all the theme answers (including the revealer) are symmetrically placed.

Dahab 2:50 PM  

Okay, let's separate grammar from actual math usage. No one who actually does math on a daily basis uses the plural for any result, it's always the singular "is." We also don't say "two and two," we say "two plus two is four," just as we say "two times two is four" and "two divided by two is one." As far as I can tell, googling it, it's only English majors arguing for the pluralization.

Unknown 2:50 PM  

@ JC66

It sounds like they are using "total" as a noun, in which case there really should be a comma between "total" and "mathematically". Otherwise "total mathematically" sounds very much like a verb (how can it not?) in which case the answer makes no sense.

GHarris 3:39 PM  

@nancy sorry but proffer does not require a physical object. It is a word most commonly used by criminal defense lawyers who make a proffer to the prosecutor ie. offer evidence or cooperation in exchange for immunity or other favorable consideration.

Hartley70 3:45 PM  

@Calman, I see your point and I am apt to use "is" myself. The clue is flawed but then perfection can be over-rated.

Carola 3:46 PM  

Like many others, I saw the SHUFFLE at MEG RYAN, and my heart sank: I'm a terrible anagrammer. Add to that the never-heard-of TAYE DIGGS, ANSELM ELGORT, and the movie title to yield, for me, a recipe for no fun. For that I had @Rex's variations on the theme of ANSEL ELGORT.

Re: AM RADIO - Let me add Dick Biondi on WLS out of Chicago (mostly heard on low on my transistor under my pillow after mandatory lights out).

Nancy 3:53 PM  

@GHarris (3:39) -- God knows, I've watched enough courtroom dramas both on the big screen and on television over the years to have thought of that! You're absolutely right. Thanks for the correction.

BlueNameComingSoon 4:19 PM  

"total mathematically" is such a mess.

One and four ARE numbers.

One plus four is five.

So the total of one and four is five, not ARE five.

Also, ten "is" the total of one and four. Try that with ARE.

GHarris 4:23 PM  

@Nancy Happy to contribute. Thank you for the gracious reception.

joebloggs 4:56 PM  

I’d never heard of a side eye before either. Check this out:

joebloggs 5:00 PM  

Are is just another way of saying “equals”. So three plus seven equals ten is the same as three and seven are ten except that no one uses that vernacular since the fifties. Annoying as all get up but not wrong grammatically.

sanfranman59 5:02 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 3:32 4:09 0.85 8.5% Easy
Tue 5:03 5:44 0.88 24.6% Easy-Medium
Wed 8:26 5:54 1.43 93.7% Challenging
Thur 8:38 10:11 0.85 27.0% Easy-Medium

I have no idea who ANSEL ELGORT is, but see that he was nominated for a Best Actor Golden Globe, so I guess that's on me. Nor do I recall hearing of HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE. I got the theme almost right away when I saw that 19A was filling in as TAYE DIGGS and went, "what the f ... oh". I furrowed my brow on ARE ("Total arithmetically"?), SSS (boo hisss) and ELIA Martell, but there's not too awfully much junk in this one. The cluing seemed pretty easy for a Thursday. I wasn't aware that a HEIFER specifically refers to a young female cow, so I learned something (always a good thing).

HRH Lee Radziwill 5:14 PM  

I screamed with joy as I was writing in MARISA TOMEI.

Totally delightful puzzle-- almost as delightful as watching the predictable way the commenters here lose their minds at the inclusion of totally standard pop culture references. "Who the hell is MEG RYAN? This puzzle needs more PERRY COMO!"

QuasiMojo 5:14 PM  

@Aketi, @Nancy, @JC et al, “let’s party like its 1969...”

Z 5:27 PM  

Imagine my shock to discover no anonymouse crowing about “Trump’s Stock Market” today.

Math exists with its own grammar, so “is” is a common translation into English of “=.” That doesn’t make “are” wrong or even particularly uncommon. After all, if I am totaling one and two there are two subjects in the math sentence, so naturally a plural verb would be called for. But, that’s applying English grammar to something written in math. 1+2=3 is the same as 3=1+2, so the singular “is” is an equally valid translation of “=“ into English. So the clue is fine and it’s Thursday so either Agard or Shortz purposefully wrote the clue to misdirect the solver. Apparently successfully.

@Joe Bleaux - I never read his “apology,” but I saw lots of pushback that after the “the stories are true” there was a lot of minimizing and downplaying. I have no idea if these interpretations are correct but I’m confident that is how at least some people, maybe even most women interested in the situation, interpreted it. My advice to everyone when we screw up is to keep it short, “ I was wrong. I apologize.” The next sentence after those two is always asking for more trouble.

Joe Dipinto 5:38 PM  

For fans of "The Goldfinch" (the *it* novel a few years back), Ansel Elgort is playing the older version of protagonist Theo Decker in the upcoming film adaptation.

I had mixed feelings about that book and have mixed feelings about this puzzle. The actors chosen for anagramming seem weirdly mismatched-- none are or were really top Hollywood stars (I guess Meg Ryan comes closest but that was back when). And while I liked the MOSS clue it seemed incongruous to have another actress in there that's unrelated to the theme. It's like the constructor was straining too hard to be clever and didn't quite pull it off.

Joe Dipinto 5:54 PM  

Oh, yeah, and did they go out of the way to *not* clue HANKS as the actor? (Who co-starred with 18a, no less.) The whole puzzle just seemed weirdly off.

Joe Dipinto 6:34 PM  

@Joseph Michael 11:50 - If those are actor anagrams you would like us to solve, it would be helpful to post the word lengths of the solutions (4,5; 8,3; etc.) as an aid.

Anonymous 6:42 PM  

@ Z: I don’t know why anyone would want to talk about the stock market on a crossword blog but since you brought it up, I, for one, expect another 10-12% sell off in U.S. equities. I think the S & P Index at 2200 would be a tremendous buying opportunity. Please don’t hold me to this because I, like you, have no idea what I’m talking about. Thanks.

OISK 7:17 PM  

I had forgotten about the "Hank" in "Honeycomb, but I did remember Kipling's misogynistic verse..
"A fool there was and he made his prayer (even as you and I)
To a rag, a bone, and a hank of hair..."

DNF for me. If you want to do anagrams, at least make the names reasonably familiar. Never heard of Taye Diggs - I had Tiye Daggs. (but I should have fixed it). Never heard of Hollywood shuffle, or Ansel Egort either, and not knowing that "ellipses" can also mean "dots," had trouble with that crossing, but got it right.

I had "STAX" for Pixy candy - never heard of Pixy Stix. Then, using the anagram, I had to write "Tiye."
Tiya looks just as good as Taya to me. HOWEVER, the down clue, another bit of pop culture way out of my ken, was ___Martell. I have no idea, but I should not have left "Elii" as my answer.

Starship hit is the clue for "Sara"? Who or what is Starship?

A big " Boo" from Brooklyn.

Quang Nguyen 7:25 PM  

I always mix up Taye Diggs and Tyson Beckford. Does that make me racist ? I also mix up Emma Stone and Emma Watson . Does that mitigate my racism or just make me a racist misogynist ? For the record I was born in Vietnam and raised in the Bronx (not sure if that matters).

Banana Diaquiri 7:36 PM  

"both AM and FM [radio] technically refer, not to the bands of radio frequency that are customarily assigned to these two formats, but to the encoding techniques "

yes and no. yes - Amplitude Modulation is orthogonal to Frequency Modulation no - the spectrum assigned to the AM stations is waaaaaaaay away from the FM spectrum, AM 100s of kHz and FM ~100 mHz

Mohair Sam 7:44 PM  

@Nancy - Hell, I thought transistor radios were chick magnets back in the day - now I know what went wrong.

@Aketi - Sitting here in my Hawaiian shorts and slugging back a beer and wondering how you know me so well.

@King of Pain - Yeah, caught the Jon/Jack thing the minute I hit Publish. Figured nobody would notice - oh well. Jack was one hell of linebacker though, wasn't he?

Steel Curtain 8:00 PM  

Jack Ham was indeed one hell of a linebacker.

Just like Nancy is one hell of a woman.

Diana, LIW 8:04 PM  

Look for tomorrow's Synder party for Burma Shave - 3 years of poetry.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

JC66 8:06 PM  

The best Hamm of them all:


Aketi 8:47 PM  

@Mohair Sam, haha. I could use a beer myself after staring at spreadsheets all day.
@JC66, now I’ve added a mental image of you to the beach party. For some reason I always associate black speedos with black chest hair, go figure.
@Quasi, I was a little too young for beach parties in 1969. I got my first car in 1973 and that’s when I figured out that I could drop my younger siblings off at school, pretend to enter the school anf sneak off to the beach and forge a note supposedly from my parents to cover my absences as long as I went to school often enough to maintain an A- average. We lived in a semi rural area so I could pick up the mail from the postmistress and check for notes from school before my parents got home

Chuck Noll 9:05 PM  

Jack Ham was the best of his era. The best player on the best defense of the 1970’s.

TomAz 9:15 PM  

Jack Lambert was better than Jack Ham. Just sayin'.

And if the ARE horse isn't dead yet: here's this:


Unknown 9:19 PM  

The anagrams were kinda fun. I seem the be the only one here who’s heard of Taye Diggs AND Ansel Elgort AND the film “Hollywood Shuffle. Still, it me took 3 of the 4 actors to figure out we were dealing with anagrams.

MEG RYAN was the last to fall, mostly because I kept SUM in 7-down until the bitter end. That NE was a mess, for sure. Enough of a mess to nearly ruin what was an otherwise fun solve.

So I guess the whole experience averaged out to a solid “meh.”

JC66 9:26 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck Noll 9:26 PM  

Tom Az: look they were were both great and if I were hammered n a bar I might have that argument over which Jack was the better linebacker. But I’m not and neither are you, presumably, so let’s call it a draw. I can’t remember which one I supported anyway.

JC66 9:27 PM  


Re: Black hair...check your email.

semioticus (shelbyl) 9:34 PM  

This was a legitimately great puzzle. The fill was great; some problematic answers potentially, but mostly smooth as silk. Some clues I legit LOLled at; Actress Elisabeth who's been on the cover of Rolling Stone, ironically would be corny in any other context but not in Xwords; and Band not known for music? was superbly done (I don't get what Rex doesn't get about it).

I'm a sucker for word puzzles, and I love anagrams. So I'm obviously biased and I can see why some may think there wasn't anything special about it. That being said, still nicely done.

The WHIT/WAIF/HEIFER corner gave me some trouble, but I guess that's on me. ARAPAHO was crossed fairly. So yeah, it could be just a tad smoother but hell, great puzzle, and it didn't even get the POW! from Jeff Chen. There's a better one to come? Noice.

GRADE: A-, 4.25 stars.

Nancy 9:39 PM  

@Steel Curtain -- You make me blush. I hardly know what to say :)

@Mohair -- Now why do I suspect you made out just fine at the beach, despite the transistor?

@JC66 -- Unlike @Aketi, I associate black Speedos with platform diving at the Summer Olympics.

@Quasi -- I've had the pleasure of hanging out with Aketi in the park. She's much younger than you think. And, btw, where is this group party (5:14 p.m.) going to take place? Are we all invited to your digs in Florida? :)

Anonymous 9:40 PM  

Every day I thank God for Hamm’s beer.

semioticus (shelbyl) 9:48 PM  

Ansel Elgort actually made his debut in the NYT Crossword puzzles last May. The clue was "Actor Elgort of 'The Fault in Our Stars'". And he was a Best Actor nominee at the Golden Globes, which was held a month or so ago, for his role at one of the highly positively reviewed movies of last summer. So no, I don't think it was that unfair/obscure.

I know that some people prefer their pop culture references really dated, and I get it, but still.

Julia 10:35 PM  

Now that is a cool piece of trivia! Thanks!

Barry Frain 10:49 PM  

I just finished the Friday puzzle by God.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Unknown 12:07 AM  

Yeah, I'm dense because I have trouble understanding a horrible clue that many others find equally baffling. I'm here to learn and improve. Sorry if I offended you. I hope you find happiness.

Dirk Bichlet 12:29 AM  

@Calman Ssnuffylesmif, what ARE you babbling about?

Erin Hollander 3:06 AM  

I enjoyed this. I was able to throw down TAYE DIGGS pretty quickly once I got a few letters in there because I do know who he is (very famous Broadway actor who also does movies and television and used to be married to Idina Menzel) and just figured the gimmick would make itself clear at some point. And then after a couple of letters in for MEG RYAN I realized what was going on. Usually I hate proper nouns because I’ve only been doing crosswords about a year and there are SO MANY to memorize, but these were all in my wheelhouse. Knew ANSEL ELGORT because of Baby Driver and because I remember weird name actors way better than the normal name ones (I saw Chiwetel Ejiofor written down once and it was committed to my memory forever).

Liked SIDEEYE. (For those who aren’t familiar, just picture it and you know exactly the look and the emotion.) A lot of teen slang goes over my head (even though I’m in my mid-late 20s), but the constructors rarely seem to have a younger colloquial vocabulary than I do, so it usually works out okay for me.

Also I just looked and this was apparently my best Thursday time ever at 12:54 :D

pcardout 5:16 AM  

A very Au Courant set of themers. I got Marisa Tomei easily, but never heard of this kid and his bizarre name. To me it is "Gort -- Klaatoo barada Nikto"

Joseph Michael 11:31 AM  

- Emma Stone
- Marilyn Monroe
- Tom Cruise
- Dwayne Johnson
- Meryl Streep
- Marlon Brando

BURMA Shave 10:05 AM  


In WEST HOLLYWOOD, EGADS, they’re cryin’


and BURMA makes it into the puzzle

spacecraft 12:21 PM  

ANSELELGORT????? You have GOT to be kidding me. Raise your hands if you ever heard of this guy. No, go ahead, both of you. Ridiculous. DNF, DNWTF (want to), DNBTF (bother to). Now that I see it (quit before I got there), I dimly recall HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE but would probably not have gotten it anyway. It didn't exactly smash box office records. And neither did ANSEL: EGADS! Plenty of DOD contestants, with MARISATOMEI leading the vote. No score for a DNF. Hope to return to sanity tomorrow.

rondo 1:07 PM  

No write-overs, so NOT terribly tough. But that ANSEL EL GORT guy was no help. Took a while to get the trick until yeah babies MEGRYAN and MARISATOMEI started showing up.

AGESAGO, AMRADIO was pretty much the place to get yer music. FM wasn’t much until +/- 1970, at least in my neck of the forest. My first transistor model in the 60s was strictly AMRADIO, alternating from Twins games on 830 WCCO to Top 40 (and episodes of Chicken Man – he’s everywhere, he’s everywhere!) on 1130 WDGY. Ah, yes, AMRADIO.

One plus one ARE.
One is.
‘Nuff about that.

Happy just to be rebusless. I’ll take my martini shaken, NOT STIRRED.

rainforest 2:23 PM  

Shout-out to @Burma Shave - way to go. Anagrams to "rumba haves".

Not knowing TAYE DIGGS, ANSEL ELGORT, or HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE made this harder than it should have been. Those first two don't even sound like names. Nevertheless, once I got MARISA TOMEI, MEG RYAN were not far behind, and I had to accept TD and AE.

I like the name ARAPAHO. They sound like a non-violent indigenous group.

It took a while to see that anagrams were involved here, and it was a bit of fun figuring out the names, unknown as they were/are.

Haven't watched GoT, and don't intend to. I had to finally accept that the plural of "ellipsis" is "ellpses", pronounced E LIP SEES. I guess "ellipsises" is just too awkard.

rainforest, which anagrams to strain for, and maybe something else.

Diana, LIW 2:30 PM  

Almost forgot to post, as I'm getting ready for Stamford. You know, where the ACPT is held.

I'm with @Spacey all the way on this. First of all, I was not in the mood for the shenanigans this puz offered. And then, ANSELELGORT cannot really exist. I barely got TAYEDIGGS. And ME GRYAN was plaguing me for the longest time.

Sure - 2 plus 2 B 4.

Or, as my grandmother's joke went:

At the restaurant:
S, V F X.
S, V F M.
S, V F T.
OK, I F X N M N T.

Lady D

and thanks yesterday to Kitshef (did I spel that rite?)

leftcoastTAM 3:03 PM  

Filled in a lot of it, but didn't really know what I was doing.

1. Didn't see that I was dealing with anagrams.
2. Hadn't heard of a couple of the stars.
3. Had additional PPP problems.
4. Wracked by confusion and frustration.

Need I report a DNF?

rondo 3:08 PM  


G, I C U FN D ₵ 2 F 8 A ^ 4 D IIIIII. Y D L FN U?

5wksltr 5:50 PM  

@anonymous 10:33 - I'm having a hard time thinking of an instance where "flammable" and "inflammable" are not universally exchangeable. Likewise "illegal" and "unlawful".

Diana, LIW 7:37 PM  

@R - As they said in Notting Hill, "poor carrots..."

Lady Di

Anonymous 9:02 PM  

Working on this puzzle was like tasting a nothing burger.

essayem 12:35 AM  

Moss can usually found on rocks/stones

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