2000s teen drama set in California / WED 12-19-18 / 2002 animated film with woolly mammoth / Relative of discotheque / Cartoon uncle of Scrappy doo informally

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Constructor: Seth A. Abel

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:24)

THEME: ANAGRAM (lol, seriously, that's the revealer) (38A: Each asterisked clue vis-à-vis its answer) — just what it says

Theme answers:
  • SYCOPHANT (20A: *Acts phony)
  • NATURALIST (11D: *A trails nut)
  • GARBAGEMAN (28D: *Bag manager)
  • THEHILTON (52A: *Hint: hotel)
Word of the Day: TOPSY (31D: Young slave girl in "Uncle Tom's Cabin") —
Topsy – A young slave girl. When asked if she knows who made her, she professes ignorance of both God and a mother, saying "I s'pect I growed. Don't think nobody never made me." She is transformed by Eva's love. During the early-to-mid 20th century, several doll manufacturers created Topsy and Topsy-type dolls. The phrase "growed like Topsy" (later "grew like Topsy") passed into the English language, originally with the specific meaning of unplanned growth, later sometimes just meaning enormous growth. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow this is not good. The theme has no cohesion. At all. The revealer is just ANAGRAM. So the clues are the anagrams of the answers? Well whoop-dee-do! Also, no. If you're going to do this, the clues Have To Function As Real Clues Do (even if they are somewhat odd and wacky-ish). This is to say you canNot have a verb phrase (i.e. [Acts phony]) cluing a noun (SYCOPHANT). A million billion times, no. The others are at least all match, clue to answer, in terms of part of speech. But that SYCOPHANT clue is absolute GARBAGE, MAN. Also garbage: THE HILTON. First because of the THE, and second because jeez come on give the theme *some* kind of unifying principle; at least let all the answers be *people*. Types of people. That's a very, very loose category, but at least it's Something. But no. No. THE HILTON. I'm just surprised this theme is as badly executed and as poorly thought through as it is. I'm surprised it was accepted at all. And the fill is so puzzlingly bad. I started rewriting corners out of boredom. Try it. It's fun.

But seriously, OENO- UNPC TVPG all in one 4x4 corner??? You gotta try to be that bad. And throw in Yet Another jokey SOTS clue (1D: Ones always tossing things back?). This puzzle's really ticking all the regrettable boxes. ITAT ALETAP SCOOB TOPSY THEOC TERR TAI. It's too rough in too many places. But can we go back for a second to the fact that the revealer is ANAGRAM. I'm just ... that is the answer. Sitting in the middle of the grid. That's the total extent of this puzzle's logic. That's all it's got. The answer set needs to be much tighter and the revealer needs to be ... something. Some kind of phrase with wordplay. Something infinitely better than the simple description, ANAGRAM. Amazing.

Hey, the NYT is raising their pay rates for constructors. I tweeted about it as soon as I found out:

They're still doing the stupid two-tiered pay system, where cronies (sorry, people who have had 10 or more puzzles published) get paid Considerably more. But the big bump up is a very welcome and long overdue development. Pay's still too low, but it's a big improvement. Base pay: $500 for M-Sat, $1500 Sun. After a constructor's 10th NYT puzzle publication, it goes to $750/$2250. Note, however: today's puzzle was the constructor's .... 12th. Just to give you some idea of what that sweet veteran pay scale is gonna buy you. . . .

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 12:38 AM  

Easy once ANAGRAM appears. UNPC hardest to see!

okanaganer 12:50 AM  

Hoh boy, embarrassing error (note I say "error" and not "DNF" because that means did not finish! But I did finish, dagnabit, but with an error; all you guys stop using DNF if you finished with an error dammit!)

TAR for "Give a whuppin", and ACRE for "Target of an astringent". Cuz I was thinking... I cain't rightly remember exactly... an astringent was like an astrolabe, where you would survey, you know, an acreage?

Anoa Bob 12:52 AM  

I just watched PBS's "Frontline" show tonight on the role of Facebook in the spread of disinformation and divisiveness around the globe---scary stuff---so wasn't sure what to expect for "Social media button" at 49D. Glad to see it was SHARE, not SCARE.

Speaking of spread, one order that I never want to hear, from a cop or otherwise, is SPREAD EM. Well, maybe in a GO GO BAR.

Based on my experiences playing baseball and softball, I would say that the "Path of a blooper" (47D) is not a simple ARC. If the ball has any spin on it, and it almost always has, then the the path of the ball will curve one way on the way up and then curve the other way on the way down. The more spin, the greater the effect will be. The art of catching the ball is knowing where it will land after all those gyrations.

The computer generated, illuminated paths that that we sometimes see on TV game broadcasts are ARCs, so I guess that's close enough for xwords.

Larry Gilstrap 2:28 AM  

Themers based on an ANAGRAM were fortunately clearly confined to the clues with the asterisks. Not my wheelhouse, for certain.

Ahab in the cluing always a welcome sight, and with the clever misdirect involving the pun on inspiration results in fun. @Lewis, consider that one for your weekly plaudits.

Pretty sure, evangelical Christians are most commonly BORN again, not REBORN. You'll likely find that ALE TAP situated between the lager TAP and the pilsner TAP. Final quibble, I've lived and worked for many years in Orange County and THE O.C. was a TV show and rarely heard in these parts before or since.

Love a good POD CAST, and there's tons of them out there.

Liked it more than Rex.

jae 2:44 AM  

Easy. Tug before TIC was my only erasure. Clever, liked it more than @Rex did.

chefwen 3:10 AM  

Not too fond of Anagrams so not overly enthusiastic about this puzzle. Solved it as a themeless and figured out the anagrams after the fact.

O.K. Kinda cute I guess.

I occasionally watch Shark Tank and think 57A Keven O'Leary is a pompous ass as I would anyone who refers to himself “Mr Wonderful” Yuk. Spare me.

Mother that might have a beard was fun.

Eye before AIM at 56A was my sole write over.

I’d like a rebus tomorrow DEARIES, Thank you!

Loren Muse Smith 3:27 AM  

I have tried and tried to embrace anagrams, but they just don’t do it for me. Maybe it’s because written language is so after-the-fact and arbitrary? I dunno. But serendipitous anagrams are pretty cool:

dormitory = dirty room
eleven plus two = twelve plus one
the eyes = they see
grammar Nazi = show-off

So I liked this anagram theme more than the ones that just mix up letters in between words (“mixed greens,” say, with wayne gretzky, fire grenade, ledger entry blah blah).

Funny that SOT(S) rears its head again today in the north with SLUG, OENO, BAR, ALE TAP.

The clue for AIM upstaged everything for me, though. “Sharpshooter’s asset.” Hmm. A good aim is simply an asset for a sniper? Like their AIM is just a useful advantage? This guy has one job. One. It feels like saying that a weight-lifter’s asset is strength.

“They measure miles in meters” – the citizens of every country on this planet except the United States. Liberia, and Myanmar. Pfft.

I liked GARBAGE MAN crossing GOAT. My garbage man truly must be one of the Greatest Of All Time. He braves the mile-long, icky, one-lane gravel road every Thursday come hell or high water, and I’m beyond grateful. But I feel uncomfortable calling him a GARBAGE MAN, though. Like, there must be some euphemism these days, right? If you’re gonna tip anyone this season, tip your residential sanitation agent. These guys are badass heroes imo.

@Gill I from yesterday – c’mon! Get your gaucho-clad fanny to the ACPT this year! The Stamford Marriott has scotch. Lots of it. (I feel the same way about smoking.) Here’s the link. Get your (discounted!) room as soon as registration opens at the first of January or you might be hoofing it from some nearby hotel. You really will not regret going and hanging out with us. Seriously!

Seth – very cool that you got REBORN under ANAGRAM, which is essentially letters reborn. Hah.

Speaking of anagrams 3:40 AM  


Larry Farnsworth 4:44 AM  

This puzzle is an example of why I almost give up sending puzzle submissions to the NYT. I don't understand how utter garbage like this can be accepted, and don't get me wrong, a ton of my stuff is garbage, but REALLY??! I've gotten swifter rejections from puzzles that would wipe the floor with this one. UGGGHHH. So I guess the pay increases will also help us get more of this kind of nonsense? YAY.

'merican in Paris 5:37 AM  

Wow, I had the same error as @okanaganer: TAr crossing ACrE. My own day-um fault for not noticing the clue for ACNE. After searching and failing to find that, my time was just average for a Wednesday, so I agree with the medium rating. Good to know I shouldn't call that a DNF.

Prior to that I had a write-over at 1A. Had cLUb before SLUG, and was wondering how cOTS throw things back, and what kind of BAR is a bOG_BAR -- some variant of "boogie"?

I enjoyed @Rex's rant this morning. THE HILTON is pretty weak. But it was SYCOPHANT that finally made me realise that the clues are just ANAGRAMs of the answers. (Apologies for the British spellings. I am writing this on a new computer, and when choosing the language as English, it defaulted for spell-checking to British English. I'll figure out how to get it on American English one of these days.)

For what it's worth, I find wearying the constant characterisation of people who express concern about grammar as "grammar nazis". (Should there be an analogous term for people who claim to not give a damn about grammar -- e.g., grammar Butlers?) Some people hold a conservative view about certain changes in language out of a desire to avoid the proverbial Tower of Babel. How and when they should express their concern is of course something that can be debated.

Lewis 5:40 AM  

Coming up with clue/answer anagrams must be a bear, and props to Seth for coming up with these. But the best part of the puzzle for me was some terrific cluing, to wit: [Ahab's inspiration?] for SEA AIR, [Beehive contents] for HAIR, [Average guy] for NORM, and [They measure miles in meters] for CABS. Clues like these make my heart smile, sometimes all day.

Flying Pediatrician 5:45 AM  

This was a bummer. I chuckled a bit when we had SOTS today, but guffawed seconds later when I filled-in NBA (not THE NBA). On the radio, Will Shortz seems so measured, sincere, and clever. I’d think he’d do a better job cleaning things up? His puzzle editing personality seems so different than his radio persona.

I’ve been crazy about PODCASTs for over a decade, originally on account of an hour-long train commute in Philly. Does anybody else listen to “Ask Me Another?” They do ANAGRAMs of the staff names at the end: “Her Ripe Begonias” for Ophira Eisenberg is just so funny to me.

Z 5:53 AM  

If I wanted to do ANAGRAMs I’d do the Jumble every day. Absolutely agree that there’s no actual theme, today, just a conceit (def. 2.1. We see all kinds of letter rearranging in themes, but always in the service of some unifier (as in @LMS’s example). Heck, even the Jumble has the punny drawing that gives some meaning to the final anagram. Here, nothing. Nada. Rien. Niente. Nani mo. Dim byd. (Ain’t Google Translate great?)

Scene From Z’s Brain

Young @okanaganer - Dad, I finished cleaning my room!
Pater @okanaganer - You’re not finished until you clean it correctly.
end scene

@anoa bob - You have your y-axis perpendicular to the ground. The blooping ball does not. The TV is rendering that path accurately in 2 dimensions as the ARC that it is.

Today’s pointless attempt to preempt poor arguments: “regrettable” is not the same as “ban.”

“Crony” is too harsh. While I do think there is a certain clubbishness detectable at times, the notion of paying more experienced constructors more is fine by me. However, the reason given (experienced constructors need less editing) is a whopper. No No No. If anything, the higher pay should come with higher demands, higher expectations. You’re experienced, you know what a good puzzle looks like, we know you can do high quality work, only the very best puzzles are going to get published. The fill should be polished. The themes should be original and creative. Making these kinds of demands would actually require more editorial oversight.

Hungry Mother 6:08 AM  

Up monitoring lowish glucose levels for my diabetic grandson. This went down pretty quickly, but felt difficult at times. I guess a typical Wednesday for me.

'merican in Paris 6:11 AM  

Forgot to answer @LMS's question: "I feel uncomfortable calling him a GARBAGE MAN, though. Like, there must be some euphemism these days, right?"

Trash collector? By the way, I agree that these people are unsung heroes. Our son, at age 3, just adored them and their vehicles, and would shout gleefully "Twash twuck!" whenever one came into view.

Z 6:13 AM  

@‘merican - Not to pick on you but you provide a good example, I draw a distinction between your comments regarding the usage of / and the behavior of “grammar nazis.” Your point is that the way / is used renders statements incomprehensible. I may disagree, but your position boils down to “I’m not sure what the writer is trying to say.” When I use the pejorative it is because the position being argued publicly is, essentially, “even though we all understand what you’re saying, my way of saying it is a preferred, superior, way of saying it.” For me, copy editing is fine, public scolding not so much. Of course, we all risk looking like the latter if we engage in the former.

Sagacious ship’s dog 6:18 AM  

That night, in the mid-watch, when the old man—as his wont at intervals—stepped forth from the scuttle in which he leaned, and went to his pivot-hole, he suddenly thrust out his face fiercely, snuffing up the sea air as a sagacious ship’s dog will, in drawing nigh to some barbarous isle. He declared that a whale must be near. Soon that peculiar odor, sometimes to a great distance given forth by the living sperm whale, was palpable to all the watch; nor was any mariner surprised when, after inspecting the compass, and then the dog-vane, and then ascertaining the precise bearing of the odor as nearly as possible, Ahab rapidly ordered the ship’s course to be slightly altered, and the sail to be shortened.

CHAPTER 133. The Chase—First Day.

Matthew G. 6:47 AM  

Liked the theme more than Rex did, hated the fill as much or maybe more than he did. The NE corner was hardest for me, with BRAD and TAN and ACNE (in the manner they were clued), as was the LEO/TOPSY crossing. Those two spots required about half of my total time. A pity, too, because I have an eye for anagrams and would have been off to the races from the theme with decent fill/cluing.

OffTheGrid 7:06 AM  

So if one simply entered "X" in every square, that would be a finish? Ok, but I think finishing implies solving correctly.

DevoutAtheist 7:10 AM  

As we atheists like to say, "Born OK the first time".

BarbieBarbie 7:20 AM  

So funny, I was just thinking how I read lots of contributors to this comment section for the insights on puzzles and language, and really appreciate the things people point out that I would never have thought of (twelve plus one, WOW!! Cool!!) but can do without some of the rocks. And here came ‘mericans with a rock-shield. For my part, I’m still getting acclimated to the way that social writing reflects speech rather than polished prose. I can’t enjoy a book that’s poorly-written, no matter how well-plotted (Tom Clancy, if you weren’t dead would you be listening?) because when the language doesn’t flow smoothly it gets in the way of the reading experience. But something like Rex’s posts or these comments are very enjoyable in their un-edited, badly-spelled, auto-completed forms.

Anyway, the puzzle. I don’t find anagrams fun, so I solved it like a themeless, and it was both Maleskan and easy. Not my favorite. Kind of boring.

Suzie Q 7:35 AM  

I guess a theme like this is supposed to make me stand back in awe after I'm done. It certainly didn't help solve it.
I did appreciate the clever clues for tree, sea air, and cabs.
Ale tap sounds made-up.
Whatever happened to Paul Hogan? A type-casting casualty?
Maybe we'll have some fun tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

amyyanni 7:36 AM  

And the Moby award goes to Sagacious! The best part of the puzzle today, thank you.

kitshef 7:37 AM  

Embarrassing DNF (sorry, okanaganer) today at ACrE/TAr. I figured ACrE couldn’t be right, but couldn’t see any of the acrosses being wrong.

Tried to fit THENBA into 11A.

Cheers fan in me liked SOTS symmetrically placed with NORM.

RooMonster 8:29 AM  

Hey All !
Puz was nice. Didn't deserve an all out Rex beatdown. Maybe could've clued Revealer in a different way, but all I'm coming up with is Ran A Mag. Or Agra Man. Neither one fits for a definition of ANAGRAM, though.

I do agree that the NW corner is icky. Quick redo gets me
A touch better. But hey, who am I to correct? (Even though I just did!)😎

Didn't fall into the ACrE/TAr pit (har), since I had AChE first, but TAh didn't make sense, so changed to TAN, as in TAN ones hide. 21D had PuN before PEN. That seemed more correct IMO.

Overall an OK AS IS puz. Anytime there's a SPORK and a SCOOB it can't be too bad.

"SPREAD 'EM!" "That's UN PC!"

Kitty 8:37 AM  

As someone recently posted:
All clues referencing alcohol abuse should be eliminated. It is a disease that ruins lives.

Peter the Great 8:50 AM  

Loved it ! Nice to see the proper spelling of czar for a change.

Dawn Urban 8:50 AM  

Lost my way in NE corner. Put in "pore" instead of ACNE. No gold star.

HAIR, for what is found in a beehive?, was a nice surprise.

Thank you for the Simpsons GARBAGEMAN video!!

Whatsername 8:57 AM  

I liked this, A lot. Mostly finished without any clue to a theme but then had a pleasant aha moment when I saw the revealer. This took some effort of construction and credit is due the creator. (Thank you Mr. Abel.) No need to go giving a whuppin’’ just because you don’t like anagrams.

As for the puzzle pay issue, it seems inequitable that the M-S scale is the same regardless of the day. It stands to reason that more thought, time and effort would be required to produce a Thursday-Saturday than a Monday or Tuesday. If I was purchasing individual puzzles, I’d be willing to pay for W-T-F because those are my favorites. But I would never bother with a Monday because there is usually so little challenge in solving them. Just sayin.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

Really liked this one, some great clues such as 'Ahab's inspiration', and I love anagrams. Surprised there isn't more cross-over between people who like crosswords and those who like anagrams, since they're both word puzzles. Yes there was some junky fill, but if it's easily gettable I don't mind it - give me that any day over a TV/film or baseball "legend" from the 1940s that is a total Natick unless you know every crossing letter.

La Moda 9:08 AM  

Sanitation Engineer

mmorgan 9:17 AM  

I didn't love this, but my reaction wasn't nearly as negative as Rex's. (I do find his most scathing rants to be quite entertaining.)

Interestingly, I had everything filled in except the NW -- having SLam for 1A was holding me up -- and even with three of the theme answers and the revealer filled in, it didn't actually register with me that those clues and answers were anagrams, until I filled in the missing letters in SY_ _ _HANT. Oh, I thought. Duh.

Does anyone say ALE TAP? I found that one a bit cludgy.

And for the longest time I couldn't figure out why “They measure miles in meters” was CABS. Another duh! Clever clue, that one. Also "Beehive contents."

And SOTS again! Until yesterday's rowdydow, I only thought of it as an "innocent" synonym for "drunkard," but now I know.

S'Terrible 9:19 AM  

I"m still dropping the NYT xword after my subscription is up for renewal. I am cancelling for two reasons: not paying their constructors a modern fee (while still charging us a modern subscription fee), and for that subscription fee (a fee that is unique to the NYT), we get garbage, ERGO and to wit, this puzzle.

When the NYT can get their sh*t together and pay well for elite puzzles worth paying for, I'll be back. Otherwise, this bump in pay is too little too late.

I'm not going to disagree with you commenters here that this puzzle was "enjoyable," but come on...is it worth the subscription? You can get equivalent or better puzzles for free in other places. Why the hell would you pay for this?

It's like continuing to buy certain kinds of cars because you've always bought those cars. There is no virtue in that. You continue to buy cars because they're good. If the quality of those cars drops, it's time to move on.

'merican in Paris 9:22 AM  


Interesting debate about puzzle pay. I always assumed that a good Monday, while not so valued by experienced players, would actually be a challenge to construct, especially if the constructor strove to use only reasonably familiar words and proper names. So, in that case, 95% of the effort would be in the construction, and only 5% in the composition of the clues. As one moves to Wednesday, the relative shares shift (I would guess) to, say, 80% and 20%, but total hours involved would be about the same.

Not having ever constructed a puzzle myself (it's on my bucket list), this is all pure supposition.

I would agree, however, that a good themeless Friday or Saturday, especially if it has few black squares, must require a lot of working, and reworking, and reworking.

I stand to be corrected, however, and would welcome some further thoughts on this question from actual crossword constructors.

GILL I. 9:41 AM  

So we have NAG A RAM Wednesday. Cool beans. Happy the pay rate has gone up. Can we get a puzzle that doesn't feel as if it was constructed 20 years ago?
I really liked GO GO BAR crossing SYCOPHANT. In my ICE AGE youth I was a GO GO dancer. Yup. In Madrid at Le Scandal. Franco eased up and actually allowed mini skirts and dancing in a cage. I had knee high white boots and my up and down arm movements would've made the ape family proud.
I am now REBORN and nobody swings arms like I do with the nae nae.
Speaking of pay raises to the constructors....Thanks, @Rex...I guess. @Whatsername, I think the two most difficult days to construct are probably Monday and Saturday. Monday has to cater to the newbie without being ancient and boring. ACME and Lynn Lempel are my two favorite Monday people. Saturday has to be hard as well as entertaining. For some reason, regardless of the day of the week, if your 1A and 1D starts with a boring dumb entry, I already start to put on blinders.
@Loren...I just might have to dust off the gauchos, see if they still fit, and find a way to get back east....I might also wear knee high white boots..... ;-)

Curmudgeon 9:53 AM  

@Barbi, the other word that describes the blog along with unedited, etc., is "loony." Yeah, the raise is all because of you and we all do the puzzle so we can read the blog. No. Just no.

This puzzle was a battle for me and the NW corner was the last to fall because of Gogobar. Wish it had been Gogolbar, would've added a literary flair. The anagrams were no problem because I got them from the crosses and had no idea what was going on with a theme. Basically, I'm a clueless dolt.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Quite easy, but fun. I enjoyed it very much. Thanks Mr. Abel.

Nancy 10:06 AM  

Because I've been doing puzzles for much too long, I immediately knew, without any crosses, that the trickily clued 1D was going to be SOTS. "Uh oh," I thought. "Here we go again with the complaints. Hope the blog comments today won't drive me to drink." Haven't read them yet.
Well, I actually did see @Lewis as I was scrolling down, and he thinks the cluing is really good. So do I. I like the same ones he does: HAIR; SEA AIR and CABS.

By the time I got to the revealer, there was nothing left for the revealer to reveal. I already knew we were dealing with ANAGRAMS. Being lazy, I made no attempt to figure them out on my own but simply let them fill in.

Are all Evangelicals "born again"? What if they feel they were born correctly the first time -- i.e. into an already Evangelical family, where of course they were baptized as infants? That's actually a sincere question, not a sarcastic one. Wouldn't being "born again" be redundant?

I had S--RE for "Social media button" and almost wrote in SNORE. Have you read today's horrifying Facebook news, everyone? Get away from that awful, awful company as fast as your little feet will carry you! Why anyone continues to voluntarily expose themself to their pillaging and marketing of your personal information is just beyond me. Meet your friends elsewhere -- trust me, it's not that hard. (Rant over).

GetWynded 10:07 AM  

Loved all of it, expect for GoGo Bar that was weak. A long time night club hag in my youth and old enough to remember/partake in discos - never once were they referred to as go go bars. That's more like a strip club.

TJS 10:16 AM  

So the English professor who is offended by "sots" has no problem with "m f s"' What an "a hole."

QuasiMojo 10:21 AM  

Hear hear to @‘mericans — there is a difference between pointing out a typo or a grammatical error in a book or a magazine or in a menu where one assumes one is trying to be correct, and very often one is being paid to copy edit, and acting all snobbishy when someone has an error in a blog or comment. When someone has corrected me I feel grateful not miffed. One time I mispronounced “concatenation” in a meeting and someone kindly pointed out the correct one. If I misspell a word here it’s usually because of auto-correct. But I wouldn’t take it personally if someone spelled it correctly for me. We can all improve. You can defend the right of people to speak poorly and inaccurately or ignorantly all you want. But I find it odd that people who take the time to point out mistakes are considered Nazis. Let’s use loaded words like that for when they are valuable tools not just prissy insults.

As for the puzzle, I liked it. I broke a Wed record and thought the anagrams were first rate. What’s so bad about The Hilton? That’s what it’s called. Which reminds me people yesterday got all bent out of shape over The NBA. That has appeared numerous times in the puzzle. As had SOT which I singled out as being lazy fill for that very reason. If the rates are going up at the NYT I hope this will be the onset of a new age of better puzzles with tighter themes, less lazy-ass crosswordese, and junk PPP. I did a crossword from Newsday recently that was light years better than the dreck we’ve been getting at the NYT of late. I’ve tried weaning myself off from this blog to concentrate on other sources for puzzles, but the insights and commentary on other blogs, such as Fiend, are not as sharp or entertaining as those here. And believe it or not the PC police on those other sites is much more strident and ludicrous. You can almost hear them shout “Spread ‘em!”

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

Rex is an A hole. And proud of it. But to take credit for the pay raise is risible on its face. At first, I assumed Sharp was kidding, but apparently not. He is delusional.

Nancy 10:26 AM  

@GILL -- If you make it back East for ACPT and don't also make time to come into NYC to hang out with me, I'll track you down, separate you from your beloved gaucho pants, and use said gauchos as a suspension device to hang you upside down from the ceiling by your knee high white boots. Understood?

John Child 10:39 AM  

I love anagrams and enjoyed this very much. Many of the “dings” are justified, but I had a good time, and that’s the point of solving puzzles.

Anderson Cooper == Ace Snoop or Nerd?

GHarris 10:42 AM  

The Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village was a disco (and the place where Lenny Bruce was arrested in 1964 for giving an indecent performance).

Kiki 10:44 AM  

We can't rid the world of alcoholism and drug addiction. But these days we don't insult people who suffer from them with words like DRUNKS, SOTS, or JUNKIES. We also don't call prostitutes WHORES or any woman with multiple sex partners SLUTS. I think these words, like the N word, aren't appropriate for the puzzle, even if you say "archaic insult for..." because it's a cruel and ignorant jab at the vulnerable among us.

Yet I'm okay with NAZI because that's not a judgment call. That's a fact of history. And that needs to be called out, and one way we do that is making sure our kids know that word.

Everyone, have a great day!!!

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

I'm no expert on evangelical sects, but it may be the case that they want personal assent to the baptism which can only come after the age of reason. As I say, I don't know that for sure. And of course they're may be an initial baptism in infancy, but openly avowing and accepting Christ is a big thing for the born again group. They often talk about their second birthday, the day they were baptized (of their own accord).

pabloinnh 11:06 AM  

Oh, oh, SOTS again. Another rowdydow. I'm suggesting that when a constructor is tempted to use the word "sot", he replace it somehow with "topor". Doesn't carry the same negative baggage, and topors are always jolly, right? Check out the Franz Hals painting for proof. I know the letter count is incorrect, but I'll let the smart guys figure that out.

I liked this fine but I like anagrams. Stuck in the NW like a few others with SLAM for 1A which I cleverly changed to SLAP. No help there. Way too obvious when the dawn broke, ouch.

Hey @GILL.I.-didn't catch your act in Madrid way back when, but then again I was a struggling college student who tended to frequent the hole-in-the-wall dives where a chato of vino tinto went for three pesetas or so, plus they gave you some snacks. Good times.

Lee Gerston 11:19 AM  

Long time reader, first time commenter.

Fill wasn't great, but I didn't mind the anagrams if only because the anagrams were definitions or examples of the clues themselves (the Hilton is a hotel, a naturalist would enjoy trails, blah blah). So kudos on that.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Anoa Bob @12:52 a: Seriously with the "arc" dispute? Can you say "overthinking"?

GILL I. 11:27 AM  

Hey @pablo. I know you told me the years you were in Madrid, but surely even a struggling college student went to a GO GO BAR in Spain. Although like @GetWynded said, they were never called that.
I misremembered Le Scandal. The club I danced in was called La Boîte. (and I, too, was a struggling college student)...I just looked it up and it's still there! It's now a gay dance club and it looks like a ton of fun. There are some pictures and videos...Maybe you'll remember it?
@Nancy. WHAAAT...are you kidding? I promised you a drink at "Tavern on the Green!"

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

This puzzle makes me angry for the puzzles I've had rejected by the NYT. I hope Seth A. Abel gets paid before the big raise.

Bax'N'Nex 11:37 AM  

I try not to read Mike's criticisms any more...too much vitriol and negativity this early in the morning.

But occasionally I will read through you X-word nerds posts. So my question is "How is a 'Conceit' different from a 'Concept'?" (other than the obvious answer..."The spelling") Need to be educated and too lazy to delve in too deeply. From what I saw, it seems like the same thing. "Conceit" just more high-falootin', maybe?

Thanks and Happy Holidays, peace and prosperity to all!

John H 11:38 AM  

I particularly liked the Ahab clue. Also looked it more than Rex, except that I am 100% with him on the parts of speech issue.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Gill I. Morality/politically correctness sheriff Rex is certainly NOT going to approve of your new avatar/picture! :)

Whatsername 11:45 AM  

@'merican in Paris and @GILL --

You both make an excellent point re the challenge of striking the proper balance in a Monday puzzle. Obviously, I had not considered that aspect. My only attempt at construction was many moons ago when I hosted a bridal shower, an extremely simple grid with a wedding based theme. At the time I thought it was terribly clever and so did my guests, but in retrospect, it was probably the definition of ludicrous. I agree it would be interesting to hear the thoughts of a pro.

@ Nancy -- I was baptized as an adult in a Pentecostal church where the teaching was that to be born again you first allow your old (sinful) spirit to die. Then when you are water baptized, those old sins are washed away and you are born again with a new faith filled spirit. Even though they may have been baptized as a child, people generally don't knowingly commit sins until they are older, and this forgiveness and acceptance of Christ as an adult is something that many people find fulfilling.

Nancy 11:46 AM  

Right, GILL, you did!!!!!!! Can't wait!

jb129 11:46 AM  

"Spread 'em" - really?

jberg 11:51 AM  

THE OC? I honestly assumed that the title must have been THEO C., named after the protagonist. I've gotta watch more TV.

But how can I, when figuring out the ANAGRAMs is so much fun? But I'm a little puzzled -- @Loren, who claims they don't interest her, immediately goes on to contribute several new ones, which @Nancy, who has actually written 45 pages of poems where you have to fill in the blanks with words that are anagrams of each other, says they bore her. Go figure!

I liked the same clues as @Lewis, but I also liked 38D and 54D; the former because (living as I do in a city that has at least 4 different Washington Streets) I seriously considered putting in AVENUE DS as the thing NYC has seven at; the latter because I misread the clue as "British sort," and was thinking that OGRE wasn't really being fair to our trans-Atlantic cousins.

@Nancy, @anonymous -- I think to be born again you have to be more than assent to baptism; you have to have a personal experience of God, i.e. a revelation. I'm not saying no one ever fakes it, but that's the idea, I'm pretty sure.

Masked and Anonymous 11:55 AM  

ANAGRAM as a revealer is sorta a bit … no frills. Otherwise, theme was ok by m&e.

Really admired the vast vowel run in SEAAIR.

Really got a charge out of the raised-by-wolves openin NW corner. As @RP says, it's always fun to try to redo em. M&A went a slightly different route than @Roo did…

1. Sports go-getter
15. Jai ___
17. Current DC boondoggle subject
1. Shark flick
2. Brand name that sounds like a bullfight shout
3. Math class with many derivatives
4. Measure of heavy gas pressure [almost fart strength for a cow herd]

Not extra fond of the results, tho -- it loses a U, compared to the original version. And U's were already at a premium, in this WedPuz.

staff weeject pick: AIM. Has the most xword puz anagrams.

Thanx, for the unf, Mr. Abel. Long time, no see.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

Canook 11:56 AM  

@Nancy @Anonymous 11:00AM: having grown up in an "evangelical sect," and having spent some time studying the history of Christianity, I can say that Anonymous's answer on the importance of personal assent is generally true. The theological thinking around this is somewhat muddy, depending upon which denomination of "evangelical" Christian you're interacting with. Interestingly enough, it's not really a particular sect of evangelicalism which is emphasizing individual salvation, but the notion seems to have crept up in various Christian off-shoots along with a growing Enlightenment focus on the individual (e.g. Locke's definition of the self).

I feel indifferent about anagrams, so the theme was a fat meh. I hadn't really thought about how garbage that NW corner was until OFL pointed it out, but generally no sparkle in this one for me as well. Agree with @mmorgan on ALETAP; that one was irritating.

Mary Louise 12:14 PM  

I'm a fan of this puzzle so I guess I'm in the minority. I wouldn't want anagrams every day or even monthly, but occasionally, sure. I don't think anyone who calls people m*****f*****s should be criticizing other people's word choices.

Carola 12:20 PM  

My first ANAGRAM was THE HILTION, and I was delighted at the congruity of clue and letter-shuffle. Then I went back and filled in the reveal and the other theme entries and thought all were creative and witty, the non-parallel SYCOPHANT notwithstanding. Agree with others about the SEA AIR and CABS clues; also liked ANKLETS, GOGO BAR, SPREAD EM, the Cervantes quote.

Masked and Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Higher pay for NYTPuz xwords is encouragin news. The puzbiz is getting a bunch more competitive, with all them different xword sources that have popped up. [M&A blames the trade war with China.] The NYT will probably get more puzsubmissions to choose from, which makes things a smidge more competitive, which could boost the overall quality of their stuff even higher. $300 to $500 is quite a basepay rate jump.

M&A could now earn almost 20 cents/hour, for a daily NYTPuz. [Takes me quite a spell to construct one, and my acceptance rate ain't real great. I'm too weird for my own good. You've maybe seen the runty evidence of this.]


About time for a Christmas-related puztheme or two. Not many shoppin days left, yah know.
… Maybe not anagrams of XMAS, tho ...

QuasiMojo 12:35 PM  

@Gill, I was in Madrid in the summer of ‘79. I went to a go-go bar but it was guys dancing in cages. Lol. Sorry I missed you. I did see La Chunga dance the Flamenco though. Amazing.

Teedmn 1:04 PM  

I couldn't get 1A right off the bat so I tried 1D. "Really, could it be SOTS?", I snickered to myself, totally UN-PC-like. It is as if the puzzle was sticking its "tongue of the mind" out at us.

In fact I didn't put SOTS in right away and got another chuckle along with an "oh no, not again" feeling when that's what it turned out to be.

An Obama daughter is always _A__A, arg. Had to guess "Beats it" was more likely to start with S than M but when SEAAIR started its emersion, I was becoming apprehensive that I had an error. Ah, that kind of inspiration, nice clue.

This was fun, Seth, thanks.

michiganman 1:30 PM  

I liked the puzzle. I like anagrams and a lot of the fill was clever and Aha! worthy. I do the Spelling Bee everyday (part of NYT online puzzle offerings). I highly recommend it if you enjoy anagrams. If you get enough of the possible words you get labelled a "Genius", so that's kinda nice.

I could do without the vulgarities and ugly name calling on this blog. Is the moderator on vacation?

Anoa Bob 1:42 PM  

ARC redux: I wasn't thinking about the path of a blooper (or pop up, fly ball or line drive) so much as recalling the many times I saw them while playing baseball (Little League through college) or softball (later years). Based on those experiences, I don't believe the path can be accurately described by a two dimensional figure, such as an ARC. It would have to be a three dimensional one, something like the path of a sinuous line on the surface of an elongated section of a torus. I don't know if there is a name for such a figure.

I'll have to think some more about that.

Joe Bleaux 2:08 PM  

Medium, @Rex? Wheelhouse thing, I guess, but I filled this one in as fast as I could put pen to paper. It was almost enough to make me wish I'd noted how many minutes and seconds it took me. Almost. And while I do enjoy anagrams, I agree that today's conceit, or concept, didn't cut it as a theme. As usual, ditto @Lewis's kudos for clever cluing. I think NANNY might've been a better answer for 46A ... but then I'd have thought "Billy's bearded sister" might've been a better clue for it, so never mind. As a recovered "Grammar Nazi," I've long since stifled an urge to correct, but thanks to all who condemn that nasty slur for compulsive pedants who can't resist pointing out that ... ah, never mind that, either.

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

I feel like I'm missing something with the ANKLETS clue. Are tennis players known to wear anklets? A google search for "tennis player anklets" returns no notable results.

Rainbow 2:34 PM  

Well, an ANKLETS can be jewelry or socks. I suppose female tennis players would be more likely to wear ankle jewelry than men but either might wear anklet socks.

Crimson Devil 3:31 PM  

Bearded mom coulda been a wild turkey hen. I’ve seen a few.
J.J. Audubon, no less, drew one.

Blue Stater 3:37 PM  

An anagram exercise is a poor substitute for a real crossword puzzle, of course. This was, as OFL points out in excruciating detail, an especially bad effort. And the news about the enhanced payscale for cronies is disgusting if not surprising. Not a good day.

mmorgan 3:58 PM  

Is a pangram with anagrams a pananagram?

chefwen 3:59 PM  

@GILL I. 9:41 I’m going to need a picture of you in them, thar GOGO boots. @Nancy, please provide.

Mr. Benson 4:12 PM  

I like the name of the constructor, whose first and last names are two of my first three guesses when the crossword clue is "Son in Genesis" and the answer is four letters.

goodtaste 4:41 PM  

Please stop this.

GILL I. 5:27 PM  

PS...@chefwen...I think I do have one somewhere. Might become my new avatar. ;-)

Nancy 5:38 PM  

Well said, @GILL.

To all those who explained the "born-again" rationale, I appreciate it. I already knew that all born- again Christians are Evangelicals. I just didn't know that all Evangelicals are born-again. Thanks for the explanation.

Z 7:02 PM  

@David Schinnerer - As I was using the terms, ANAGRAMS in a puzzle are a “conceit”, a “device,” like filming a movie in black and white instead of color. There is no particular reason, or “concept,” needed behind the use of the conceit. But think about Wizard of Oz, where there’s a thematic reason for using black and white film for part of the film. Or, using @LMS’s “mixed greens” theme, imagine a puzzle with anagrams of salad greens (I don’t know if that is even possible). Now there is something more than just a bunch of anagrams, an underlying concept that unites the anagrams. It is this underlying unifying concept that is missing from today’s puzzle, making the ANAGRAMS just a conceit.

@Whatsername - I think of the difference between doing a quality Monday and a quality Saturday as being like the difference between being a sprinter and a long distance runner. Yeah, they’re both “running” but the muscles and skills you develop to be a sprinter are not the same as a long distance runner develops. I think it is easy to underestimate just how hard it is to come up with original, creative themes because, like sprinting, it looks easy.

@Anoa Bob - I think wind factors in, but absent a wind I do think the flight path of a hit ball can be described in two dimensions, just not two dimensions perpendicular to the field, and it’s that tilt that causes a fielder to perceive the flight as curved in a third dimension. But... now I’m wondering how much the stitching and spin alters the flight path.

@Nancy - I don’t think it is necessarily true that “all born-again Christians are Evangelicals.” Evangelicals may disagree.

bauskern 7:28 PM  

I think they were called GOGO clubs, not GOGO bars. I thought this was a real challenge for a Wednesday. And laughed when I saw SOTS as 1-down. I've also never heard of an ALETAP. I would have guessed KEGTAP, but SASHA stopped me.

Whatsername 8:06 PM  

@Z — I think you are absolutely right. Even when I dislike a puzzle, I try to be cautious with criticism because the worst effort of the creator is still better than my best attempt would be.

Anonymous 8:50 PM  

There is no single "proper" spelling of czar/tsar.

People in English-speaking countries who are big bosses of an organization are definitely czars.

The monarch of the Russian Empire was the царь in Cyrillic The word as a whole is transliterated as either czar or tsar, more often the former. But the first letter of that word is usually best transliterated as ts, which is also how it's pronounced. So there's nothing wrong with the English word tsar either.


Z 11:02 PM  

@anon8:50 - I’m not sure but I think @Peter the Great was joshing. We’ve had quite a run where TS was clued by an actual царь while CZ was always being clued as a US government official.

@Whatsername - I hear you but, personally, I don’t have any more problem criticizing a constructor than I do criticizing a Tiger not performing well on the baseball field. Nor do I chafe when a teammate criticizes me fairly on an Ultimate pitch. All I ask is that criticism be fair and about the actions, not the people.

crabsofsteel 4:46 AM  

I'ld much prefer answers which are words instead of contractions like SPREADEM because the clue gave me no clue that the answer was one. DNF.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Actually, born only once.

Debra 8:49 AM  

Super puzzle, thanks!

spacecraft 11:15 AM  

Oh come on, Fearless One, it wasn't THAT bad. I mean, it ain't no PB1, but geez. I realize the SYCOPHANT one jumps parts of speech, yet it is the cleverest of the bunch, and what a great word! The second greatest one in the grid. #1? SAGAN, my namesake and, if I may, DOD (Dude of the Day). Props to SASHA for the traditional title.

To be sure less than ideal, with two (!) THE's on the SAME LINE (!!). I haven't seen this byline before, so thought it was a debut. His 12th, you say. Oh well. Hitting the revealer early (I started with gimme IOCEAGE) greatly simplified the solve; an easy Wednesday. Gonna give it a par. No grid with SAGAN in it could score worse.

thefogman 11:25 AM  

I loved this puzzle.

Bravo to Seth A. Abel, aka A Hale Beast.

Burma Shave 11:47 AM  


AZURE certain, she was ANTSY to let him
grab her ANKLETS and PLEAD, “OH, DEARIE,
don’t TEAS me TOO much, just SPREAD’EM.”


thefogman 1:54 PM  

She was a loyal and obedient handmaid until she said: "I'm SYCOPHANT Lydia!"

leftcoastTAM 2:09 PM  

Took time to get a foothold on this one. After fill-in, didn't take time to figure out how ANAGRAM applied to the themers. So didn't finish? Guess not.

Pausers that look easy: UNPC, PEN, TEAS, and TREE, the latter "leaving" and not leafing? Okay. And who ever says DEARIE these days?

Liked this better than Rex did, but he has a point.

Wooody2004 2:33 PM  

I always thought it was notPC and GOGOclub. Didn't Batman do the Batdance in one of them clubs? Adam West (or Mad Sweat) was the best batman.

Learned from Crossword: Topsy from Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Learned from blog: Eleven plus two anagrams into Twelve plus one. Atheists wear Tee shirts that say "Born OK the first time".

This is about the earliest I ever finished the puzzle and read the blog, so I decided to post something. I post a few times before but I was always the last comment. How do you guys find time to finish the puzzle so early?

rondo 2:50 PM  

I don’t mind ANAGRAMs that much. They are a big part of the Harper’s Puz. So they weren’t knee-slappin’ funny, most “wacky” puzzle stuff isn’t. One itsy write-over having Tug for TIC.

Combine 16a and 19a for today’s math term: ARCTAN.

It SEEMs that SASHA’s real first name is Natasha, which is usually short for Natalia. SASHA is usually short for Alexandra. Either way, you GOGO, girl.

Nothing HAIR-raising here, about PARR for the course.

Diana, LIW 3:13 PM  

Hi @Woody - depends on what you call early! ;-)

The anagrams made it easier - I play Jumble every day, even tho they drive me nuts. Always remind me of that late, great constructor - you-know-who. Ack - can't remember his name, but I can picture him. Funny guy. Merle???

Diana, Lady you know who, being a SLUG

Wooody2004 3:51 PM  

Hi, Diana LI Dub! I do the puzzle on paper so I have to wait for it. If I finish by 9:00AM I feel like I got my day off to a good start. I do the jumble too. Are you thinking of Merle Reagle?

Diana, LIW 4:04 PM  

Merle Reagle - brilliant, @Other Dub! Merle would often greet others by anagramming their names off the cuff. A great punster, too.

I wouldn't do the puzzle any other way than paper - tried some mechanical means, and they lost their luster quickly. Give me a pencil, and much-needed eraser.

Lady Di

rainforest 5:25 PM  

@Woody - I think I'm the "king" of commenting late, but you're welcome to try. Welcome, and come by often.

@Burma Shave - isn't your third anniversary of poesy right around now?

Yeah, kind of a bland theme, but the actual clues/answers were relatively cute. Not a SYCOPHANT of ANAGRAMS, but it is what it is. Har.

Given how evangelical Christians vote, I was tempted to try to get "hypocrites" in there. If that's UNPC, so be it.
Not the worst puzzle ever.

BS2 8:11 PM  

@rainforest - The first verse was created innocently on Monday, February 9, 2015 (the syndicated puzzle of Monday January 5, 2015) and somehow the streak has not ended. So in 2.5 weeks it will be 4 years, or 1461 consecutive days - even through the days of harshest moderation - and well over 1500 separate verses (counting double and triple days).
Still no inquiries on the book rights.

thefogman 11:19 PM  

Burma's Puzz Poems. The miniseries...

Unknown 1:51 AM  


  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP