Yugoslav-American tennis great / THU 1-17-19 / What Alice goes through to find Jabberwocky printed backward / Movie franchise that set record opening weekend gross in 2018

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Constructor: Ross Trudeau

Relative difficulty: Easy (4:12—the only thing keeping me from being even faster was the weirdness of trying to spell answers backward)

THEME: THE LOOKING GLASS (7D: What Alice goes through to find "Jabberwocky" printed backward) — when you go through THE LOOKING GLASS (from W to E) you find the *grid* "printed backward").

Word of the Day: Bay of YACSIB (25A: Bay of ___, body separating Spain and France)
The Bay of Biscay (/ˈbɪsk-ki/FrenchGolfe de GascogneSpanishGolfo de VizcayaOccitanGolf de GasconhaBretonPleg-mor GwaskognBasqueBizkaiko Golkoa) is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Point Penmarc'h to the Spanishborder, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal.
The south area of the Bay of Biscay washes over the northern coast of Spain and is known as the Cantabrian Sea.
The average depth is 1,744 metres (5,722 ft) and the greatest depth is 4,735 metres (15,535 ft). (wikipedia)
• • •

I've been handling Alice in Wonderland thank-you postcards all week, so seeing Alice in a puzzle today was a nice bit of coincidence. This theme works because the clue works. Without the clue, this is a puzzle that doesn't know how a mirror works (east would have to be the *west* in reverse, not its own thing in reverse). So this is a good example of how theme cluing can make a puzzle. Please see yesterday's puzzle for how theme cluing can ruin a puzzle. Today's puzzle is whimsical and super duper triple-scooper easy, so it is bound to be a crowd-pleaser (people Lovvvve puzzles they can crush, esp. self-styled "tricky" ones, in my experience—take a note of that, you constructors who are in love with difficulty porn). My main problem with this one was how rudimentary it was. I solved straight out of bed in the morning (slowest mode I have) and I couldn't write in the answers (especially the backward answers) fast enough. Sincerely, there was just a single answer that I had to work for even a little, and that was 1A: Made jokes (JESTED). Wanted KIDDED. Wrote in JOSHED. But my trouble there didn't last long, as ECO DANSE ALPACA MELLON PAIL all fell without my trying. And then the key: wrote in SOLOS ANTIHERO SOS, then WACO, then tried 7A: Slim amphibian, which read "blank W blank blank." Nothing. No idea. Huh. Weird. And *then* I looked at the long Down clue. With LOO- in place, that answer was impossible not to get. I'd've gotten it with nothing in place. Then I looked back at the slim amphibian answer: TW--. And that was that. Wrote in NEWT backward, and then wrote in *literally* every other Across answer on the east side that I looked at, As Soon As I Looked At It. The easiest east half of a grid I've Ever worked on, Despite every answer's being backward.

I loooove crushing puzzles and coming near record times, but today's success felt very much unearned. I tied my Wednesday and beat my Tuesday time. And honestly there's nothing to this grid but backwardsness. As word-redirecting themes go (and I've seen a lot), this is very simple. The element I actually really like is the palindromification of the central Acrosses (the ones that cross the "glass"). These *kind* of violate the spirit of the puzzle (i.e. they're operating on the (apt) principle of reflection when no other answers in the grid are). But whatever. It's a neat way of handling the problem of mirror-straddling words.  The concept may be simple, it definitely works, and has nothing irksome about it. So hurray.

The fill isn't really commentary-worthy. Pretty plain. ESCORTEE is certainly weird (39D: One taken by the arm), as is OXES, which ... has only this context, which is not even a good / common one (65A: Dumb ___ (oafs)). I know "X"s are cool and all, but better to go German city ESSEN and ONES here, I think. Real thing x/w real thing. But this is a tiny thing. This puzzle isn't really about the fill at all (again, except those central Acrosses, which is why I appreciate them).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld (Twitter @rexparker / #NYTXW)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


DeeJay 6:50 AM  

What fun! Agree totally that too many trick puzzles are often too challenging for typical/young solvers. I've been doing puzzles for decades and whenever I solve a really tricked-up puzzle, I feel a pang of pain emanating from my daughters' 20-something psyches.

They've only been solving for a decade, combined. They have a lot to learn.

jammon 7:04 AM  

There was a lot of whining about yesterday's puzzle, which I enjoyed...Rex, you're a good reverse barometer. The plural form of ox is oxen, and this puzzle is crapola.

Dave 7:15 AM  

I didn't notice the words crossing the mirror like SOS - very elegant!

kitshef 7:19 AM  

Loved it loved it loved it.

Plopped in RAP, then took it out when PLEASE had to be right, then put in RHOMBI, and with two words in the grid I had the theme sussed out.

Great fun, absolutely loved it. So impressed that the words crossing the looking glass were palindromes.

Bonus of two Simpsons clues was also very much appreciated. Loved it.

Although, yes, it was too easy especially in the E.

A guy in Nampa 7:21 AM  


OffTheGrid 7:29 AM  

I have a question for puzzle experts. 11D. When I see a clue like "the magic word", in quotes, I expect the answer to be an equivalent of what is in quotes. PLEASE is not. One does not say "the magic word pass the potatoes". Should the clue have simply been -The magic word- without quotes? Anyone care to comment? Thanks.

Amy Yanni 7:36 AM  

Finished in good time, so no excuse not to work out before work....and that's my only complaint.

stwidgie 7:39 AM  

Glad you connected so well with the puzzle today! It took me an enjoyable 18 minutes (without coffee). :^)

QuasiMojo 7:41 AM  

Yllanif a elzzup htrow gniod neve fi ti saw ysae.

Had RESCUER before REVIVER. Both optimistic but thankfully true.

Enjoyed your video choices today Rex.

Hungry Mother 7:50 AM  

Super easy and fast. Lots of fun spelling things backward and having palindromes in the appropriate places. More great wordplay!

Crimson Devil 8:06 AM  

Quite a construction feat. Congrats Mr Trudeau.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

One point about how well-constructed this is - every across answer that intersects the central theme answer either:

-Starts or ends on the theme answer, meaning it is entirely forward-reading or backward-reading;


-is a palindrome perfectly symmetrical about the center

Meaning the constructor never has to break the rule about how the looking glass ought to work.

puzzlehoarder 8:19 AM  

While I appreciate the effort required for this kind of conceit it didn't generate a better solving experience.

GHarris 8:19 AM  

Seems strange that Rex failed to mention the palindromatic words across the middle seles, reviver, sos.

Suzie Q 8:33 AM  

I loved this for many reasons. It stretches the fun of puzzling beyond simply filling in a grid. Great work Mr. Trudeau.
I'm sure oxes/oxen is going to generate some fuss but in the context of the clue I think it works. I don't think I can explain it without sounding like a clumsy oaf myself.
Doing a puzzle like this gives my brain an odd sensation like trying to write with your nondominant hand. It feels like I'm using some little gray cells that aren't usually asked to work that hard. It almost gives me a headache.
Misreading prognosticated as procrastinated slowed me down a bit.
I also noticed the esta/etre crossing.
Newts are slim?

CDilly52 8:34 AM  

The tight grid impressed me sooooo much! The clever use of the palindromes in the center absolutely made the puzzle for me. What forethought and skill. Fun!

Z 8:38 AM  

I think the easy east exists because, until the penny drops, nothing makes sense. If you suss the trick early the east will be easy, but if you don’t the east is going to befuddle.

I agree with Rex about the palindromification of the words that cross THE LOOKING GLASS. That was my favorite part of the puzzle. Normally SOLOS and SELES would rankle, but here they have good reason to be used. KU EHT was a little wince inducing, but I was more than charmed enough by the five palindromes to forgive Trudeau a wee bit of ughly.

Anyone else confused by Rex’s east/west thing? I’m not at all sure what his point is there.

Rob 8:41 AM  

An easy solve, sure, but I'm very impressed by, particularly, the straddle words. Nice construction to get all of those to work.

SOS 8:41 AM  

".eM taE" :dehcatta eton a dah taht ekac elttil saw ti ,ti tog I ecno tub ,evlos "ysae" ro "tsaf" a sa ti ecneirepxe t'ndid I oS .thgis nialp ni gnidih saw hcihw...emeht denmad eht tuo derugif I litnu tluciffid saw sihT

SJ Austin 8:44 AM  

I put in NEWT immediately, which meant THELOOKINGGLASS didn't work, which slowed me down considerably. But once I got that cleared away, yes, it went fast. Pretty fun.

Lewis 8:45 AM  

The theme has a classic feel -- one of those that can only be done once so it better be done right. And it was, and it was done elegantly. Furthermore, Ross played this perfectly for me, who has heard of "Through The Looking Glass" but never read it, so I needed the hint "...printed backward" in the reveal's clue, to understand the theme.

Being ever on the alert for backward words, this puzzle had great appeal for me, and my inexplicable obsession with double letters appreciated the mini-theme of double E's (6) and the three doubles in THELOOKINGGLASS.

Z 8:55 AM  

@OffTheGrid - Speculating here, but without the quote marks the clue would be asking for a “real” magic word like “abracadabra” or “open sesame.” PLEASE isn’t an actual word used in magic so the quote marks indicate that. Again, I’m not at all sure this is accurate.

@GHarris - I think you missed the paragraph between the videos.

@WowWayToTellOnYourself late yesterday - Interesting that you think “don’t be an asshole” means “renouncing their masculinity.”

Brit Solves NYT 9:01 AM  

The fact that the words that cross the mirror line are palindromic make this a good execution of a theme puzzle idea. Enjoyed this one! Only answer I found ungettable without all the crosses (not being American) was Chick Corea.

Art Balini 9:15 AM  

Fastest Thursday ever and surprisingly no do-overs given the likelihood of errors in spelling backwards.

@Z I think Rex was making the point that a normal looking glass would require the east to be an exact reflection of the west, hence the themer clue works to indicate the east is a reversal of itself.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Most solos are accompanied.

CDilly52 9:17 AM  

He did, late I. The blog: ”The element I really like is the palindromification of the Central Actosses. . . “

GILL I. 9:18 AM  

Very, very clever. Haven't enjoyed a Thursday this much in a month of ages.
My very first entry was THE LOOKING GLASS. It just had to be. Nothing else mattered. Off with her head! Moving on down the rabbit hole I came upon 33A (Brexit land) and stared and stared. What in the world could start with a K? I mean I know Theresa May and Corbyn are probably going to be Kicked out but dang....AHAHAHAH. THE UK drawkcab. OOOOOh....I'm going to love this. Next in was YACSIB because there's only one Bay of Biscay or, in this case, YACSIB. Another oooh.
The East side mirror - what a lovely concept and feat.
Had trouble in the south area so I went back to the attic to see what Alice may be up to. Chick COREA and KRUSTY the clown went in wham bam. I'm not sure who I like better.
And so it went. Little by little. Feeling grand that I could remember things like AENEID and ASHRAMS and RHOMBI and simply enjoying everything about this puzzle. My only dead end came to the beer clue. I have enough trouble deciphering backward words and then you throw in a beer commercial and I freeze. It took some doing, but I finally figured out the STELLA/ALLETS. Big grin.
I'd like more puzzles COMO ESTA (but only if your puzzle word is feminine)
Gracias, Ross T. En hora buena.
PS. May I suggest "A is for Alice" as a book for a child learning the ABC's. It's full of wonders.

Gabe Tuerk 9:19 AM  

Easy peasy. Would’ve made more sense as a midweek Wednesday, with the reflection on the central axis. Only thing I entered in error was 1-D - wanted SATIATES over JAMPACKS. Well short of half my average time

Nancy 9:21 AM  

When 7A just had to be TWEN...
And by then I had THE LOOKING GLASS, too...
Writing everything backwards on the right-hand side was not a problem at all.

But I did have two major problems, one in the East and one in the West. For me, "the magic word" (11D) was PRESTO, I never thought of PLEASE. And that loused up LAEM, YACSIB, and SAEDI for the longest time. You put in PRESTO and see what you come up with! And not ever having heard of a LOLCAT (whaaaaa????) didn't help, either. The only thing that would have fit -- I had the O -- was TOMCAT, and that didn't work at all.

In the NW, I JOSHED instead of JESTED (1A), and that, when I didn't know either of the pop culture clues, was a disaster. When I finally changed to JESTED, I saw ELEANORS (2D), my favorite clue in the puzzle. But when you have oLEAN--S, you're never going to see it.

Other than my problem with the completely unknown COREA and KRUSTY, I enjoyed the puzzle and pronounce it DOOGYREV.

CDilly52 9:24 AM  

In junior high school we used to get a piece of chalk in each hand and write simultaneously, going in opposite directions. This puzzle reminded me of that silliness and explains Rex’s early comment that without the THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS answer, had we simply (and metaphorically) placed a mirror in the middle of the grid, the W answers would have been the ones that appear backward, like writing one’s name, for example, with both hands in opposite directions. Now, everybody go find a blackboard (or a whiteboard these days) and try it!

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

From Rex: "The element I actually really like is the palindromification of the central Acrosses"

mmorgan 9:24 AM  

Easy, then a slowdown...THE LOOKING GLASS was too obvious to be right but I’m couldn’t find anything wrong with it...so I went with it and then the whole right side stood still for a bit, but once the conceit was clear, the rest came easily. I quite like the look of all those backwards across words ... RABOSI and RETEET and YACSIB really should be words in their own right. It might have been even cooler if the downs had been backwards as well, but this was quite enough for me, thank you very much. Fun Puz! Can’t wait to hear what some will complain about. Let’s just please leave Gillette out of this puzzle.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  



OXES-people, metaphorically

CDilly52 9:29 AM  

And an alice fan, too!

Nancy 9:32 AM  

How did I miss the palindromes? HOW DID I MISS THE PALINDROMES??? Thanks, everyone, for pointing them out. Such a construction feat takes this lively, enjoyable and imaginative puzzle and ratchets it up all the way to brilliant!

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

PLEASE! No more backwards comments. We get it! You are clever.

Sir Hillary 9:39 AM  

I found this to be a complete bore. Way too easy, and the gimmick does nothing for me. Yes, the construction is clean, but are five simple palindromes really that impressive? And why would it be harder to fill the right side of a grid with backward words than it would be with forward words?

And we have some really bad POCs -- ELEANORS, HATREDS, BASALTS, MARCS (wait, scratch that last one).

To be fair, there is a nice POI (Plural of Inconvenience) in RHOMBI.

Banner day for Homer -- NED's neighbor, doppelganger of KRUSTY, wrote "The Aeneid" (wait, scratch that last one).

So, not a bad puzzle, but a real snoozer.

Z 9:42 AM  

@Art Balini - Of course. Obvious now that you have explained it. Thanks.

Stanley Hudson 9:44 AM  

Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet small.

Roo Monster 9:50 AM  

Hey All !
This must've been a bear to construct. So for that I applaud it. Also, the backward-ness concept is cool, but tough to figure out. I had the whole West done, but couldn't get anywhere in the East. Had GOES STAG and SENSES written in. Only two Acrosses in the East, and couldn't get the Downs to work. What's happening? Finally had to Reveal Word for NYC, then saw the top two long Acrosses had funky letters in a row, and then the Heap Slap/Aha/Lightbulb moment. Oohh, everything's backwards. Then it was easy. All the answers I had wanted, worked backwards.

Wasn't there another puz not that long ago that did this? The ole brain seems to think so. And if you missed the palindromes across the MIRROR, they were SOLOS, SOS, REVIVER, MGM, SELES.

So bravo to Ross for a good ThursPuz. I'm surprised Rex liked it.


MARCS 9:56 AM  


Bob Mills 10:02 AM  

The plural of "ox" is "oxen." Otherwise a fun puzzle, once the trick is clear.

Unknown 10:13 AM  

The phrase you can replace it in would be "Say the magic word"/"Say please". The replacement does not have to work in every context you can come up with. Speaking as the mother of a toddler, this one was probably the easiest clue for me since I say both versions a million times a day!

Elaine Zabriskie 10:15 AM  

Help me out here, what in heaven's name is ecnuoeno? Can't find definition anywhere on the web. Really? What kind of clue is that?

Anonymous 10:16 AM  


I thought I knew how mirrors worked, but perhaps I was mistaken.
If the phrase "Through the Looking Glass" the mirror? If so how do MGM And reviver and solos etc go through the glass?
That is to say, isn't the mirror solid? How is that some parts of word pass through?
Don't get me wrong fellow inmates, I love the puzzle. Love it. It's just Rex's arrogance gets to me and his explanation of why this puzzle works and yesterday's doesn't rankles.
I'm sure someone can explain it. Probably Z with his 4th post of the day.

Moana 10:17 AM  

It doesn't have to replace in every context you can come up with. But "Say the magic word"/"Say please" are pretty dang interchangeable. As someone with a toddler, probably the easiest answer for me since I say either version a million times a day!

Elaine Zabriskie 10:19 AM  

Cancel question, forgot, it's Thursday

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Parents of small children asking for a treat often say (or used to when I was a kid), “What’s the magic word?” The clue strikes me as a fair elision of that formula.

Charles Flaster 10:31 AM  

Very easy but makes you think.
Breakthrough was changing to PLEASE from PrEsto.
Thanks RT

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

It is what is said to a child when they are asking for something

jberg 10:50 AM  

Well, Alice goes through THE LOOKING GLASS, so I guess palindromes can do the same thing.

Unlike most of you, it took me a really long time to see the trick.I put in WACO, which ruled out 'newt' -- I'd held off on that because I wasn't sure if they were slim, though I guess they are if you compare them with frogs and toads. But then I finally got it, and was delighted. Then, and only then, did I notice the palindromes.

You folks complaining about OXES -- really? Would you actually say "those guys are a couple of real dumb oxen?"

Great puzzle!

B Right There 10:53 AM  

Fun times. I feel dumb as an OX since we flew through the west and stalled on the east since we were on Acrosses. When we finally hit the Downs, we were sure of PLEASE, but still didn't grok the theme. Looked back over the west to see if we had missed some sort of rebus trick, but no. Finally I said to hubby, "How could we get the left half so easy and nothing on the right?!" ... *crickets chirp* then, Ding! Lightbulb goes on over head and we finished without further ado. The aha moment was delicious. Agree on OXES as the plural in the context for peoople. Hands up for JoShED instead of JESTED. Never heard of COREA. Can never remember how to spell AENEID. But all in all, pretty light fare for a Thursday, and can appreciate the construction.

TJS 10:55 AM  

Thought that this was a great puzzzle. Spent way too much time trying to figure out how a country in the EU was named after Harvey Kuehn.
Amazed that so many, like Rex, love puzzles that they just destroy in record-breaking time, when that is the experience I detest the most. Just an oddity of human nature, I guess.

Ethan Taliesin 11:19 AM  

Got a few straightforwards, hit THROUGHTHELOOKINGGLASS, and thought "fine, here we go then."

The only thing the slowed my time was trying to find my two typos after I finished, which was like "Where's Waldo?" Though if I were a smarter man I'd have just checked the downs only (!HUD).

Also, I did get some strange satisfaction out of spelling HELL YEAH backwards. Being simple is the gift that keeps on giving, to paraphrase the old Shaker ditty.

jae 11:20 AM  

Yep, easy.

FOREcast before SEEN was it for erasures.

Pretty smooth with a great theme clue, liked it a lot.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  


fair enough. But ONLY the palindromes go through the looking glass. All the other words are merely reflected by the looking glass. That's two different phenomena. If Bruce Haight had taken the liberty of mixing two things, Rex would've excoriated him. Which is really my point. As I said, I think the puzzle is superb. But I also believe that a fair reading of Rex's assessment of today's puzzle with his takedown of yesterday's effort is a perfect example of why Rex can credibly be called a crank. He's just a mean-spirited bully with some axes to grind and some personality issues to address.

old timer 11:40 AM  

As YDOOW EIRHTUG once wrote, "all they will call you will be ESCORTEES."

ESCORTEES was the only cringe-worthy answer, too, I thought. Great, classic puzzle for this Thursday, though it created many writeovers before I got the trick.

pabloinnh 11:47 AM  

Anybody said "ingenious" yet? No?

OK, I thought this was ingenious, and lots of fun, even if it went too fast after the backwards thing became clear, which was almost right away.

Merci bien, M. Trudeau.

Masked and Anonymous 11:55 AM  

KUEHT theme. M&A's solvequest started out kinda slow in the East, but then suddenly made a dramatic "comeback". Middle revealer was a sittin duck gimme, for a ThursPuz, unfortunately -- and U come across it so darn early in the puzsolve, also. That was my only big complaint about an otherwise pristine mint-cool puz.

fave comeback words: FED [Looks better thisaway, btw]. PAR. MARCS. RETEET.
SEXO woulda been way cooler, sittin on the other side of the lookin glass.

Stuff I had no earthly idea I knew and didn't hardly even trust myself to write em in: ASHRAMS. BISCAY.

staff weeject picks: MGM & SOS. Mirror image weejecta.

Thanx for the eazy-E but reflective ThursPuz, Mr. Trudeau.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Carola 12:00 PM  

Super easy, because....MELLON x DANSE x SOLOS + a glance at the clue for 7 Down = THE LOOKING GLASS and the understanding that the NEWT was going in tail first. SOLOS and SOS clued me to the remaing palindromes, and filling those in right away made the bottom half go extra fast. Do-over: (the reversed) HEar hEAr - I've been streaming the Brexit debates - before HELL YEAH.

Help from previous puzzles: LOLCAT, KRUSTY, NED; experience with the backward entry trick.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

Don't see how this was such a construction feat. You build the west, then build a new west and flip it to fill in the east. Just a gimmick; nothing clever about it. And as someone else pointed out, solos are usually accompanied. Unaccompanied would be a cappella.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

A lot of fun, but of course, easy when you get the trick. Thanks very much Mr. Trudeau!

Anoa Bob 12:24 PM  

Someone, I think it may have been Leonardo da Vinci (yep, just checked) wrote many of his personal notes cryptically by doing it backward, a technique known as "mirror writing". In mirror writing, which I think today's puzzle is kinda, sorta going for, not only are the sequence of letters in a word backward, but the letters themselves are backward.

One modern version of mirror writing would be the completely flipped-around "Ambulance" printed on the front of the vehicle so that in the rear view mirror it looks normal.

So when I saw THE LOOKING GLASS down the middle of the grid, that's what I was primed to see, words on the left "reflected", i.e., at least spelled backward on the right. I was a bit let down when this didn't happen---probably impossible to do within the confines of a crossword grid---and I just saw a bunch of words spelled backward on the right side with no connection that I can see with anything on the left side, or anything else, for that matter.

For those five palindromes passing through THE LOOKING GLASS to work as mirror writing, they would need to be SOLLOS, SOOS, REVIIVER, MGGM, and SELLES, right?

I opine that these SAEDI didn't stick the landing for me, but I see so many of you smart cookies out there give this puzz high MARCS, so I guess that's my fault. I'll go sit quietly in the corner now.

Whirred Whacks 1:04 PM  

Ross Trudeau: I enjoyed your excellent puzzle a lot. Good job!

I especially liked the answer RHOMBI. Why? Believe it or not, I own the registered trademark for that word (USPTO #5063268) in the toy and game category. “Rhombi” is one of my “Ball of Whacks” line of magnetic, manipulative geometric products.

I’m currently in Maui, and I got this thought while swimming this morning relating to yesterday’s “punny” theme. What does Rex do in his blog whenever he sees a puzzle created by yesterday’s constructor? BREWS HATE.

Enjoy your day everyone!

Dumb ox 1:06 PM  

I think when you are assigning an animal’s perceived qualities to a human (big and or dumb/hapless) all bets are off with the plural form. I can hear Moe Howard saying “Listen, you dumb oxes!” I do not hear him saying “you dumb oxen.”

Teedmn 1:07 PM  

As @Z 8:55 points out, 11D had to be either "abracadabra" or PLEASE. When my plopped in "rap" at 11A didn't PLEASE me, I took it out and went back to the center of the puzzle. I got 7D off the O in ANTIHERO, then plopped in PAR at 11A and the rest is history.

I like this puzzle but it was disappointingly easy for a Thursday gimmick puzzle. I kept telling myself, "Stop feeling so smugly smart - everyone, but everyone, is going to think this is super easy."

I did have my own LOOKING GLASS moment when I got done with the east side and had to start thinking forwards again in the west - it felt weird! And while solving in the east, I kept looking at the end of the answer's number to see what the across clue was; e.g. at 38A, I looked in the clue list for 40A and wondered where the HELL YEAH it was.

Like @Rex, I loved the palindromic centers and smiled at how cleverly they were kept to a small number.

TIDED over, as clued, was cute, food- rather than money-related. I was confused on 58A because I read the clue as looking for the answer, not the question, but it filled right in once I got the C for COMO ESTA.

Nice job, Ross.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  


Right you are. Rex likes Trudeua, hence his giving him a pass on gimmick which doesn't hold up to any logical scrutiny.

Masked and Anonymous 1:17 PM  

@AnoaBob: Wow yep, that'd be an epic puzfeat … one where all the gridwords on the left side are reflected backwards on the right, and all the reflected words are still some sort of (possibly different/possibly palindromer) valid words/phrases/crossword-acceptable gibberish. One could make that one's life work -- tryin to construct a grid that would work like that … call it "Da da Vinci Puz"! Great idea -- Definitely go for it, dude!

… Meantime, hmm bet U might also be able to get it to work as a runtpuz …

Kinda partly agree also about yer THELOOKINGGLASS crosser observations, like f'rinstance maybe needin SOLLOS, instead of SOLOS. SOS is surely OK, tho? -- cuz O is an East/West-symmetric-like letter. M&A almost commented on that, but then forgot to cuz the budgie bit m&e. Sooo …
Better 7-D revealer, with all-symmetric letters: THUUOOUIUUUUAUU. Primissimo. QEDsville.

M&A Backward-Thinkin InstitUte

okanaganer 1:22 PM  

Really into palindromes etc lately so loved this theme. To make it much more difficult you could use only letters that are mirror-able themselves... ie A H I M O T U V W X. Um,... forget it.

During my commute the other day in my SUBARU I was behind an identical SUBARU which has the name spelled out in big letters across the rear hatch, and thought about that ambulance thing thing @anoaBob mentioned, and realized that backwards it would be U R A BUS and burst out laughing. Things are extra funny when you're stuck in rush hour traffic.

Karl Bradley 1:23 PM  

The Bay of Biscay does not separate Spain and France. It is adjacent to them. You can make a case for the Pyrenees...

Joe Dipinto 1:49 PM  

I liked this puzzle. It had me at Gatsseog. But -- Nellie is (or can be) short for Eleanor? Well knock me over with a rabosi. They could have gone with "Rigby and Roosevelt". What dumb oxen the editors are!

I'd stay longer but Marc's lolcat needs to be fed. Also, I have to practice my Eco Danse solo. Lead on, rhombi! Don't e'er sae di!

Whatsername 2:16 PM  

I give high marks for the construction of this and love the idea of Alice in Wonderland for a theme. Clever and enjoyable, thanks Mr. Trudeau. I would liked to have seen more "Alice" related answers worked in though. So many to choose from: Mad Hatter, March Hare, Rabbit Hole, Dormouse, Tea Party, Hearts, Tarts, etc. I liked the mirror concept but that's a puzzle I would have really loved.

Not to be a grumpy Cheshire Cat, but I do have a bone to pick on a couple of clues. First, 20A/"performances with no accompaniment." Vocal SOLOS are frequently accompanied by instrumental music, and an instrument solo with background accompaniment is still considered a solo. Dictionary.com defines as: "a musical composition written for performance by one singer or instrumentalist, WITH OR without accompaniment."

The other quibble I noticed was 39D/"one taken by the arm." Assuming ESCORTEE means "one being escorted," then that person would be TAKING the arm. The ESCORT, say an usher at a wedding, would offer his arm to be taken by the one being seated.

And on we go. Tick tock, tick tock.

OffTheGrid 2:23 PM  

@Anoabob points out something that to me is hilarious. That is the AMBULANCE written backwards so appears normal in rear view mirror. OK, but if the sirens and flashing lights don't get your attention, will this little trick really help?

Brian Grover 2:25 PM  

My least favorite solve of the week, which I guess makes me the anti-Rex. Super easy, just gimmicky, nothing “ingenious” about it. Most amazing thing about this puzzle is that the constructor only knows two rappers and one of them is Master P. Was this puzzle written 20 years ago and placed in a time capsule?!

Aketi 2:47 PM  

I got all the palindromes first, then realized that the letters in the west read from left to right and the letters in the east read from right to left.

It seems to me that if you wer Leonardo DaVinci and creating this Puzzle with a quill and ink, that it would be much easier and less ink smearing would occur if the letters in the west were written from right to left with the left hand and the letters in the east were written from left to right with the right hand.

I wonder if the individual letters of all the right to left scripts are also written from the top down. My son refused to write his letters from the top down. To this day he writes them from the bottom up.

There are scripts that go from top to bottom and then right to left, but why are there no scripts that go from top to bottom and then left to right? Or from the bottom of the page up?

Aketi 2:49 PM  

@Whatsername, who said the SOLOS referred to vocal SOLOS? You assumed that. One can do lots of things SOLO.

JC66 3:17 PM  


Cute avatar!

Whatsername 4:11 PM  

@Aketi - While I did infer the word “accompaniment” was intended in the musical sense, I did not assume the reference was strictly to vocal solos. That’s why I included a comment about instrumental solos and a definition of the word which includes both. Of course there are many solo activities, but the word “performance” in the clue implies the answer is some type of theatrical activity.

JC66 4:22 PM  


There are types of performances other than musical.

DigitalDan 4:22 PM  

Elaine Z: Two tablespoons = one ounce. The space is silent.

Karl Grouch 4:50 PM  

Loved it.
(Though it felt a bit too easy in the west).
Thx for a very enjoyable moment Mr Trudeau

Masked and Anonymous 5:42 PM  

@AnoaBob: Shoot -- this "Da da Vinci Puz" idea kinda went south on m&e, when I tried it out in a runtpuz.
(See below) Note in particular the problem U get into, with the Down answers.

Thank goodness, if I was able to get to U in time.

M&A Help Desk


Adam Frank 8:21 PM  

I love Alice and I liked this puzzle, but the palindromes bothered me, since the violate the puzzles internal logic. East of the central long down answers are entered right to left. So it should be SOLSO, SELSE, and (the one that bothered me the most) REVIREV. I actually thought these detracted from the theme and I’m surprised @rex didn’t mention it. Otherwise, really easy and pretty clean.

Z 9:39 PM  

@Adam Frank & others- Rex wrote, These *kind* of violate the spirit of the puzzle (i.e. they're operating on the (apt) principle of reflection when no other answers in the grid are). He also wrote, Without the clue, this is a puzzle that doesn't know how a mirror works (east would have to be the *west* in reverse, not its own thing in reverse). So this is a good example of how theme cluing can make a puzzle. This echoes what he wrote yesterday where he suggested that better cluing could have made that theme.

On the other issue, guitar SOLOS, James Harden, and, truly, even choral SOLOS where the orchestra/band/piano accompany the singer are without the accompaniment of the chorus. I think the clue works fine.

bg 9:40 PM  

We’re relative novices compared to all of you, so we had a harder time with the puzzle but had fun with it once we started to piece together how the theme worked. May not have got it for even longer if the backwards letters didn’t enter as grey on the Crossword app. It was like a big siren declaring that something was weird.

crabsofsteel 10:48 PM  

I dislike gimmick puzzles, which this one was in spades. Worst answer: KUEHT. Please.

Christophe Verlinde 11:19 PM  

Puzzle was a piece of cake because I ALWAYs fill out the DOWN answers first.
My assumption is that most puzzle makers put in their theme answers ACROSS.
Is that indeed so?

Tom in Nashville 11:27 PM  

Liked the palindromes down the middle. A nice touch of detail to reinforce the theme.

E A 11:21 AM  

Yeah, I will never like gimmicks like this where I have to deliberately misspell words (yes, putting in backwards is a deliberate misspelling to me haha). It's very tough to do on the app and the answer doesn't match the clue! Yes, I am very stringent about this. It's part of my lack of charm LOL

thefogman 10:22 AM  

Did I like it? HAEYLLEH! And I don't care how long it took (or didn't take) to solve. Measuring the nano seconds isn't my thing, unlike KRUSTY the Krossword Kritic, who actually enjoyed a themer - for once. Who could have FORESEEN that? PLEASE, more like this Mr. Trudeau.

spacecraft 12:06 PM  

Uh-oh: I just saw OFL through THELOOKINGGLASS. Well, almost. I began a little differently: at 11-across. I thought it should be RAP, but I've always been told that the "magic word" is PLEASE...wrong place! It was then that I spotted 7-down: a gimme and the whole thing. I thought: I just bet the E/W spanners are gonna be palindromes...and I was right! In fact, the west gave me more trouble than that mirror-image east. Not a Simpsons fan, but still, by osmosis, managed to come up with KRUSTY and NED. The NW (where else?!) was the last to fall.

OFL is right, too, about the fill; this one isn't about that. The few groaners he mentions are the same as mine, and I was prepared to forgive a lot more for pulling the trick off. As a bonus, the two "weejects" in the east (PAR, FED) are forward words in their own right--and both much better entries than the clued ones!

DOD is oldtime actress snevetS ALLETS. Crushed it, had fun doing it, so despite PAR appearing in the grid, this baby is a solid birdie.

Diana, LIW 2:42 PM  

oh where, oh where did my comment go

Lady Di

Burma Shave 10:52 PM  


don't JAMPACK her PLEASE, she's not INLOVE with ASHRAMS.


Unknown 12:28 PM  

Can someone please explain what "Kueht" means? What does this apparently made up word have to do with Brexit?

Unknown 12:36 PM  

Never mind figured it out. Mock me.

Anonymous 10:08 PM  

Easy?? Try fitting these answers into the grid from 2/14/19.
East Bay Times provided that mashup this morning (Thursday March 21).

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