Engraved stone marker / WED 5-1-19 / Article's start in journalism jargon / Compassionate Uncle Tom's Cabin girl

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:24)

THEME: Anagrammed STATE CAPITALS (36A: What the answers to the starred clues are each anagrams of):

Theme answers:
  • IN SLANG (Lansing) (20A: *Not formally worded)
  • UP LAST (St. Paul) (21A: *Like the pitcher in a batting order, often)
  • MALES (Salem) (26A: *Peacocks, but not peahens)
  • ROVED (Dover) (44A: *Wandered)
  • ANTI-U.S. (Austin) (54A: *Like some foreign protests)
  • HAIR GEL (Raleigh) (55A: *What keeps a part apart)
  • DOMAINS (Madison) (24D: *Internet addresses)
Word of the Day: Samantha BEE (36D: Killer Bee?) —
Samantha Anne Bee (born October 25, 1969) is a Canadian-American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actress, and television host. Bee rose to fame as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where she became the longest-serving regular correspondent. In 2015, she departed the show after 12 years to start her own show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
Bee became a US citizen in 2014, while retaining her Canadian citizenship. In 2017, Time named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world on their annual Time 100 list. (wikipedia)
• • •

I'll try not to dwell on this one, since early Twitter feedback seems to indicate that everyone already knows what's wrong with it. There's just no point to this. Why are you anagramming STATE CAPITALS? Why not anagram cheeses or dog breeds or characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And what is the point of the anagram? Why anagram and not, I don't know, make them run diagonal or form circles or something. I keep expecting there to be another level here, something beyond a puzzle that straight-up tells you "these answers are anagrams of STATE CAPITALS" and that's it. Maybe the state codes of the states in question ... spell something out? ... no? ... uh ... is this a metapuzzle scavenger hunt, some epic quest that only like four people will understand and if you go to all these capitals in a certain order ... you win a THING? Am I currently in a VR GAME? There must be some explanation for why this puzzle is happening. But I'm at a loss. Also, why punish solvers by making them do homework at the end of the solve For No Reason. Of course I couldn't resist de-anagramming these capitals, but I did not feel good doing it. "MUST I!?" Turns out, yeah, I must, but only because I'm compulsive.

There are three UPs in this puzzle. Probably not high on your list of "things wrong with this puzzle," but it's really jarring to me, especially since two of them appear in crossing answers (UP LAST, HAUL UP). DUE UP is a pretty flagrant dupe (i.e. answer containing a duplicated word), with the baseballiness of the phrase really calling attention to UP LAST and its explicit baseball clue (21A: *Like the pitcher in a batting order, often). UP UP UP. Yuck. Also, ST. PAUL is an abbrev. ... which feels like cheating. You can't anagram the abbrev. version! Also, ANTI-U.S. is an abbrev. but nothing in the clue signals it. SAM I AM and SAMANTHA feels like a dupe, esp considering she's known commonly as "Sam Bee." Also, why is her clue [Killer Bee?]. It's great if you're a fan of hers, but "Killer" hardly gets at who she is or what she does except in a very metaphorical, highly elliptical way. Sometimes you actually do need to resist the wordplay.

FAN SITE (18D: MuggleNet or The Leaky Cauldron, for "Harry Potter" readers) and VR* GAME (45D: Something that requires a special headset to play, informally) are cool, but they're overshadowed by this nothing of a theme.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*VR = virtual reality

P.S. PRNDL stands for "Park Reverse Neutral Drive LOW," i.e. the gears on an automatic transmission

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 2:30 AM  

Mostly medium with a tough NW. The “theme” did not help, but the solve went pretty smoothly except for the NW. Did not know UGANDA as clued and needed some time for SAM I AM to surface. Plus, dorm before HALL.

Liked it, it was sorta fun sorting out the anagrams post-solve.

Larry Gilstrap 2:39 AM  

STATE CAPITALS haven't changed much since the first time I crammed for a test in 6th grade, but seriously, you could clue my mother's maiden name, present me with an anagram, and I'm pretty certain I would glaze over. Exhibit A: HAIR GEL becomes Raleigh, NC after a significant passage of time.

That being said, not a fan of highly segmented puzzles; It's still only Tuesday on the West Coast of these United States. Taking a break to find stuff I liked...

SUN used as a verb, which I'll conjugate as a regular verb: double the "N" and add "-ed". An architect who avoids a floor #THIRTEEN is probably complying to the wishes of the owner. I've heard of some recent structures in Orange County that are missing Fourth floors. Superstition is insidious.

Every morning I awake and peer at my phone in anticipation of Armageddon. My wife eagerly does the same hoping for the arrival of the Royal Baby, hoping for the news that IT'S A GIRL, or even a boy. I follow baseball.

Hartley70 3:20 AM  

Love crosswords/Despise anagrams. HAIRGEL gave me a headache and now I’m cranky.

I prefer NOUGAT to peanut which I tried first. SAMIAM was nostalgic. STEROID was tricky and I’m guessing these juicers are in gyms not the small appliance department. BLONDEALE felt like green paint to me, but I suppose it’s a thing if you say so.

Loren Muse Smith 3:31 AM  

Like Rex, I was certain I was missing something here. I even went to Wordplay to try to find Joel’s comments. But, nope, no secret hidden tie-tighter-together THING. He said he had put together some anagrams of major cities for his brothers do to on a car trip and decided to tighten it into only state capitals.

I’m mystified that anagrams just don’t excite me. I did play around with other capitals, but even that was kinda blah. BOAR TONGUE, A USA GUT, ENDIVE CROP. . . MISSED ONE

I had a dnf because of “rome/Mr. Game.” Rome. Sheesh. I was glued to CNN as I solved. And I’m too old to fathom any kind of special headset, so a video game deal called Mr. Game made total sense to me.

I tried “space bar” for HAIR GEL. Get it? It keeps a part apart? Too long.

“Gnashed – grinded” – GRITTED. I guess you grind or gnash your teeth at night when you’re not all mad and stuff. You GRIT your teeth when a snotty mean-girl ninth-grader gives you attitude but you’re a weenie and a coward.

DOMAINS. I domain squatted once a long time ago. Bought the name “My Crate” (this was pre-Facebook) because I was convinced pet owners would want to create a My Space-ish page for their beloved dog. I still don’t know how I feel about it; the idea of domain-squatting feels dishonest and stinky. But I did it. Thirty bucks for a couple of years of owning the name. I wouldn’t do it again.

Since English nouns aren’t marked for gender, who got to decide that ALE and coffee roasts are BLONDE and not just blond? However it’s spelled, this descriptor feels affected and snobby. What. Now we can order a BLONDE venti, half-whole milk, one quarter 1%, one quarter non-fat, split quad shots (1 1/2 shots decaf, 2 1/2 shots regular), no foam latte?

(@GILL I et al from yesterday – a while back sometimes I would hit “publish” and my post wouldn’t appear. This was pre-moderator days, so I emailed Michael, horrified, to ask what I had said that was so objectionable. He said he had not deleted it and that sometimes the comments just disappear into thin air. It hasn’t happened to me for a while now, though.)

Anonymous 4:30 AM  

Solved it as a themeless in a normal Wednesday time. Immediately thought, "That was unpleasant." And then promptly forgot about it to the point where I forgot to de-anagram the capitals (other than Salem and Dover, which were so obvious that they happened automatically).

Anonymous 5:36 AM  

I thought Monday’s puzzle was awful, but this was worse - deeply unpleasant. I wonder how it got accepted.

Oh yes... That’s how.

Jon Alexander 6:00 AM  

Got the theme right off the bat starting in the NW working straight down to the middle section. My Scrabble skills kicked in and I was able to get the revealer with just -T-T——P— by just looking at INSLANG and wonder what the star was for. Overall, thought the puzzle was just fine, although I DID notice the three UPs!

I mean even Superman only got to two UPs before he said to himself “enough” and switched the last thing said to “Away!!!”

Brookboy 6:09 AM  

Didn’t bother with the anagrams. Ain’t my kinda stuff. Besides, I knew that I could come here and find them. Which I did, and other than a cursory glance I forgot all about them.

I liked the puzzle, thought it was moderately easy. I got my foothold in the southeast corner and ended up in the northwest. The violation of the enigmatic rules that drives Rex up the wall doesn’t bother me at all, so no points off there. I thought the puzzle was a good Wednesday puzzle. Thanks, Mr. Fagliano.

Lewis 6:22 AM  

I'm not an anagram person, the Jumble puzzle gives me a headache, but I am a crossword person (you should have heard bark out the answers to the "Crossword Clues 'G'" category on Jeopardy last night), and, purposely ignoring the theme after seeing what it was, I enjoyed the themeless solve, finding enough grit to massage my solving muscles.

One thing I greatly liked about the SE is the confluence of DELETE, LEDE, and the anagram of EDITORS.

BarbieBarbie 6:23 AM  

Normal puzzle, normal time, it was an easy themeless with themers to figure out later. The UPs annoyed me, mainly because two of them were symmetric, so I wanted one more or one less. Other than that, good Wednesday, medium difficulty. HAIRGEL was my favorite answer.

Roberta 6:26 AM  

Just an easy themeless, if you ignore the theme, which I did. I paused to wonder if the 3 "ups" related to the theme (no) but otherwise it felt like Monday or Tuesday.

Aketi 6:32 AM  

I did hav HOPE for this puzzle when I encountered SAM I AM and I usually like anagrams, but STATE CAPITALS? I asked myself MUST I figure them out? After unscrambling Dover and Salem I told myself no.

webwinger 6:43 AM  

Somehow this really appealed to my inner nerd. Reminded me of a cool mint-green pencil box I had in fifth grade (maybe still have it, in some deeply buried box) with two white gear wheels in the lid that matched states and capitals in opposite windows. I like anagrams (confess to doing the Jumble almost every day), and wasn’t at all put off by having do a solve-after-the-solve. Think this must have been a real bear to construct, so hat’s off to JF.

I wasn’t much bothered by @Rex’s nits, but did have one of my own: The clue for the 36A revealer should be “What the answers to the starred clues are ALL (not each) anagrams of”, given the plural answer.

amyyanni 6:46 AM  

LOL, @Jon Alexander over Superman. As for THIRTEEN, can affirm the 31 (535 step) story building I was in Saturday for the Ame. Lung Assoc. Climb for Air was lacking a thirteenth floor. Which I mention b/c unfortunately I also found this puzzle lacking. Anagrams are not a favorite so perhaps that's it. IT'S A GIRL was fun; just attended a baby shower for a girl, happy fun (with No Stupid Shower Games, yay!).

Suzie Q 6:57 AM  

Anagrams give me a headache too so I didn't bother trying. There were so many awkward answers today. They were painful to me and I felt embarrassed for Mr. Fagliano. He usually writes decent puzzles.
No fun today.

I didn't know Clueless was a remake of Emma. I never saw it but it reminded me of having just seen The Heiress which is an adaptation of Washington Square. Great performance by Olivia de Havilland supported by Montgomery Clift.

RavTom 7:15 AM  

You know that when both @OFL and @LMS dislike a puzzle, it didn’t work.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Second time this week that the theme has had no impact on the solve – other than to build up some plaque in the fill (ANTIUS, THEEU and SANDP all in one corner??)

Very hard to get going – my entry was ADE.

One of the many, many things that irritates me about Nats' manager Dave Martinez is he likes to bat the pitcher eighth., so I considered that instead of UPLAST. I can’t believe we gave up Dusty Baker for this bozo.

QuasiMojo 7:30 AM  

I love anagrams. I don’t understand the hatred of them in crosswordsville. I also love state capitals. So I was optimistic that I would love this puzzle. But the prevalence of forced fill left me dissatisfied. THE U.S.? I don’t like phrases that require THE for no reason especially when the usual terminology in such a context is U.S.A. And having THE E.U. right next to it kind of made me wince. Who is this Bee person? I also have no idea who Sam I Am is. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a place here but too much SUCH and SUCH makes for a dull time. The IN of In Slang seemed tacked on. I’m over analyzing it. The bottom line is this could have been wonderful with some tighter editing.

Regarding the disappearing post thing. I had a rash of such experiences a while back @GILL, and discovered that sometimes the software didn’t register the post and this was indicated by my not getting the little notice on top that said the comment was in a queue or some phrase like that. When that happens I just repost the comment in a few minutes.

Rug Crazy 7:44 AM  

RILE BRET (anagram for terrible)

Hungry Mother 7:48 AM  

SW almost made me DNF. I stared and stared and stared and finally saw ANTIUS and wagged STELE. Close call.

Steve 7:59 AM  

Wow! Between this blog and the NYT Wordplay blog, I'm taking one thing away from today's puzzle... NO ANAGRAMS in any of my grids! I thought that I was an outlier with my choice to ignore the anagrams (I prefer to solve for speed), but everyone just blew by them. My list of things to avoid in construction now stands at three. 1) NO Roman Numerals. 2) No pluralising words that are overwhelmingly used in the singular. 3) No Anagrams!

Steve Out

RooMonster 8:12 AM  

Hey All !
I like anagrams. *Ducks*
So of course I unscrambled them all when I finished. Toughest one for me was ANTIUS. ST AINU? UNITAS? Har. Maybe Johnny Unitas got a CAPITAL named for him.

After reading Revealer clue, I thought the anagrams would be anagrams of the Revealer itself. But, upon getting said Revealer, I got the Aha that they'd be separate things. Still didn't help with sussing out the CAPITALS until after you got the anagrammed word.

Impressed by the 8 letter words above and below Revealer. Hard to get clean words in the Downs. Slightly bummed by the closed off corners. Although, they are big areas by themselves, so that helps. Plus, the fill is clean.

Writeovers, dorm-HALL, taN-SUN, Iwish-IHOPE, eu___-THEEU. Noticed the three UPs. Sometimes one NEEDs to Re-UP. Good for @M&A. One F, bad for me. :-)


@mericans in Paris 8:13 AM  

Like others, I solved this one as a themeless. When I got to the reveal I did a mental shrug and refused to take the time to unscramble the anagrams. I don't mind anagrams, but I'm not interested in them if they are not NEEDed.

Easy for me: barely more time than the Monday and Tuesday puzzles took me. Had difficulty gaining purchase with the first 10 aacrosses, so switched to downs, and got SAM I AM immediately. (It helps to have read, and read, and read Dr. Seuss books to an appreciative child.) UGANDA was next in, and I was off to the races.

Nice to see words like CHISEL, Jules VERNE, and GRITTED in the GRId. I HOPE to see more like that in future puzzles.

Interesting to see the jingoistic RAH RAH, the target of the Brexiters (THE EU) and ANTI-US in the SW corner. Today, May 1st, is an important public holiday in 3/4 if not more of the world, and I suspect there will be more than one ANTI-US protest taking place. The gilet jaunes will be out in force again in France.

Let's HOPE that the bloodshed in Venezuela (a TENSE situation) is kept to an absolute minimum.

Nancy 8:21 AM  

This puzzle made for a wonderful Wednesday themeless* -- harder than most Wednesdays, with many difficult clues and no junk. I couldn't enter the puzzle in the NW corner, which is really unusual for me on a Wednesday, so I moved to my right and entered there.

*Oh, there was a theme? Yes, but you didn't have to do it. When I got to the revealer and realized that I not only had to know STATE CAPITALS (which I mostly don't) but anagram them as well, I asked myself MUST I? I decided no, I mustn't. Some other thoughts:

I've decided to award 1A with the dubious honor: Vaguest Crossword Clue of All Time.

I was really, really nervous about being in an elevator with a missing button (37A). Panicky, in fact. When I saw that the answer was THIRTEEN, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

gregg 8:53 AM  

I remember that pencil box also. But it only had 48 capitals then. Those were the days...

albatross shell 8:55 AM  

Favorite answers: SAMIAM SAMANTHA- well-clued because a comedian "kills", I guess, and a gimme because Bee was capitalized.
Favorite clued answer was STEROID - audible laugh.
Filled in on the easy side. SW looked difficult at first but THIRTEENTH SANDP REPASTS all fell with two or fewer crosses.

My only hangup was the NW where I thought little chipper had too many meanings, so I just filled in whatever came to mind around it and come back later. Ended up with CHIckEL INkLiNG and FiNSITE. Had to stir the POT a minute or to finish.
I did not know PRNDL. Very happy to have a mnemonic for remembering what gear I'm in.

Z 9:06 AM  

Not my cuppa. As I've said probably too many times before, the fact that letters are used to make words, and you can rearrange them to make different words has never struck me as particularly interesting. I mean, 12 can be rearranged to make 21. Big Whoop. I know lots of people enjoy anagrams. Fine. Give me green eggs and ham instead.

Klazzic 9:10 AM  

I find it amusing that for all the bitching and moaniing of the commentariat, y'all come back the next day to solve. C'mon folks, it's a freakin' crossword puzzle. Enjoy it. It's not like Attorney General Fred Flintstone lied about the Mueller report or the Orange One's little fingers mistook the nuclear codes for his twitter rampage. This puzzle was just fine. Give it a rest. Good day.

GILL I. 9:14 AM  

You start me off with Dr. Seuss and I'm thinking I'm gonna like this thing. And I did. I really did... and I'm glad this puzzle happened. I even didn't mind the homework even though I'm not much of an anagram fan. Maybe because it's May Day and I always think of the maypole dances I was forced to participate in at the Mother's Club in Havana. You had to wear pink ribbons in your hair and there was always some dumb boy (sorry BRO) who wouldn't do it right. They didn't have to wear pink ribbons.
Oh, the puzzle....Well, I always enjoy Joel's cluing and that's what I liked here. I was having trouble getting started but finally got some momentum. 16A Picky EATER took me forever. I prefer Odor EATER. The cluing for STEROID was pretty neat and my favorite state capital was HAIR GEL. I liked ANTI US as well even though I had a hard time seeing AUSTIN. If I absolutely had to move to Texas, I'd pick Austin. I wouldn't tell them I was from California, though...they hate us. They blame Californian's arriving in droves for the incredible hike in their cost of living. We tend to do that.
I hope this gets published. I'd hate to have to re-type it UP UP UP again.

Mr Crankypants 9:14 AM  

I’m disappointed that PIMENTOS wasn’t Included. It would have been appropriate.

GILL I. 9:37 AM  

Just so you know...I didn't means to add an apostrophe after Californians but I just finished re-reading The Californian's Tale by Twain. Yeah, sure......

Odd Sock 9:43 AM  

@mericans, Agree about Venezuela. If the government had not disarmed their people they would not be able to run over them with tanks.

I struggled to find some clue/answer with some spark but juice/steroid was as close as I could come. Yawn.

RooMonster 9:45 AM  

You always crack me up with your Non-Car-ness. The PRNDL isn't a mnemonic, it's on a gear shift to let you know what gear you're in. Here is an example of one.

Damn car clues!


Clueless 9:49 AM  

Free Association to SAMIAM

WHO, as in name of whom, is SAMIAM speaking to?

SouthsideJohnny 9:51 AM  

This is a good example of how requiring a theme (or in this case at least a half-assed one) results in mediocrity. I understand @Klazzic’s point that it is harmless enough, however it seems like if the NYT is going to have a “requirement” they should either enforce it or suspend it from time-to-time if they don’t have any adequate submissions. The clue for 13D seems off - Gain or Profit perhaps. Maybe NET SALES is technically correct to an accountant, but when? Not in an income statement or balance sheet (maybe net Revenue?]. The clue for Sam Bee also seems forced, although I suspect she would take it as a compliment. A very sub-par effort today to go along with Monday’s disaster. Hopefully things will improve soon.

Dorothy Biggs 9:54 AM  

I normally like JF's mini puzzles...he has a sense of humor that I like. Like others, I was okay with this puzzle as a themeless. I didn't care for the anagrams in the same way Rex mentioned: when the puzzle is done, I'm done. I might glance over it at the end and relive moments, but by and large, when I'm done solving, I'm done solving. See also puzzles that ask me to connect the dots or that damned meta-puzzle thing a few years ago or whenever there is a "contest" that you find the hidden whatever and then mail in your answer to be entered into a drawing. Solving anagrams, especially these anagrams, felt like that last thing. Waaaay too much work. I'm mildly curious about the answers, but only mildly...and I do have my day to get on with...so no.

So I liked the first half of the solve, not the second half. If I want to solve anagrams, I'll play the app I have on my phone where I get 7 letters and have to find all the words it spells.

Nancy 10:01 AM  

@Roo (9:45)-- I think you've confused me with @albatross shell (8:45). I didn't say a word about PRNDL in my comment. Remarkably enough I remembered, sort of, PRND (but not L) from my long-ago Learner's Permit days -- days when I what I "learned" was that I almost certainly did not have a Driver's License in my future. Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive -- right, Roo? The L, which seems to be for LOW, was a mystery to me because I was being taught on an automatic shift. LOW is only for stick shifts, right? But even without the help of knowing what a "Venmo request" is, LOW came in by way of logical deduction.

I'm glad that "my" comment so amused you, Roo. But I'm afraid you have @albatross to thank for your entertainment. I'll try to do better next time :)

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

On the off chance you're around, I liked the puzzle Mr. Fagliano. Thanks.
not only were the anagrams fun, the fill has some nice bits too: stele, nougat, lede, Sam I Am, mail fraud, and The EU, and Anti US. Not too shabby!
And Part of PRNDL was quite good. Well done sir.

jau 10:12 AM  

It's me being Rex-picky but the DELETE key is not in the upper right of all keyboards - it's in the middle right on mine at the office and upper-but-not-right on the one on my laptop. Like so many of Shortz's edited puzzles, there seems to be so little fact checking (for want of a better word).

The answer to why keep doing them if we complain is that other outlets' puzzles are worse and less satisfying in puzzle ways, at least to me.

Michiganman 10:15 AM  

Two, Two, Two puzzles in one! Easy/Med Xword and anagrams. As @Nancy and others point out, you can skip the after solve capitals if you want. I like anagrams so I did them. ST. PAUL was the trickiest and the last one for me to get(It's ok to anagram an abbreviation [but it's probably not ok to use anagram as a verb]). ( Cruising around the puzz I saw the revealer clue and moments later entered INSLANG and LANSING popped right up (talk about my wheelhouse). "OH, the revealer is STATECAPITALS". Some have commented that they don't like anagrams in their Xwords. There are anagrams in every Xword. It's just that they're not usually noted. Today, e.g. ROPE PORE, LOW OWL, SILO LOIS, RAH HAR, You get the idea.

Rainbow 10:28 AM  

Green Acres offers this for today. Lisa learns to drive

David 10:38 AM  

Did it as a themeless even though I got the revealer, as did somebody else, with T T L

The NE was on the UP and UP, so I figured 40A would be signed UP, but I already had SUN and saw 32D would be TENSES, so I put in ENLISTED instead. Then I was surprised by the third up. If the first three up strike out, the pitcher won't have to bat.

I don't dislike anagrams at all, but I'd like them to have more meaning than these, I did not bother looking at them past the fill.

Clueless is to Emma as She's The Man is to Twelfth Night.

Wanted Weisse ale, I guess blond is a thing and we really needed another BRO puzzle.

SANDP, NASDAQ, DJIA, when did Americans succumb to the myth that the market equals the economy? Probably around the same time (late 1970s) they succumbed to the myth that they lived in a capitalist society rather than a democratic republic. And here they are, 40 years later, wondering how they got here. Happy May Day everyone.

bagelboy 10:42 AM  

Around normal Wed. time for me. didnt love the large segmentation also, and never really looked at the theme to help the solve. Got stuck in the NW with RWANDA briefly.

pmdm 10:53 AM  

Like some others, I don't mind if a Wednesday puzzle has no theme. While I will try to solve the Jumble puzzle when I pick up a paper that runs it, I really am not a fan of anagrams. (My preference is for Acrostics.) At first I felt unhappy with this puzzle, but in the end as a themeless it won me over.

I went to a NY Philharmonic concert yesterday. Two symphonies were on the program. NYT published a reivew a few days ago. The reviewer couldn't figure out why the second symphony was paired with the first. I guess the review couldn't figure out "the point." Yes, there is a reason critics don't have statues dedicated to them. But I guess it's pointless for me to complain.

There's a neat trick sometimes used during a speech. You says something like "I'll try not to dwell on this" and then go on and on.

I really don't care is there are five UPS in a puzzle as long as my package gets delivered properly. (I don't even notice it until coming to a site like this one.)

I enjoy a fair challenge, and I thought the puzzle succeeded with that criteria.

RooMonster 10:57 AM  

Ha @Nancy!
I just reskimmed the comments and saw my faux pas. With your kvetching about car stuff, apparently the ole brain just assumed it was you! No offense meant. I like your posts and your stories always bring a smile.

See my previous post/link. :-)

Three and out (thank God)

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

Thank you, thank you, thank you. That is undoubtedly the best thing I'll see all day. And I work in television. MWAH!

Carola 11:10 AM  

I'm in the Bad Attitude Club today: I got as far as STATE CAPITALS and thought, Oh, god, a Jumble theme (= Just shoot me now) (Hi @Lewis and @webwinger). Nonetheless, I gave it a try - looked back up and unraveled MALES and INSLANG, but struggled in vain with UPLAST, thought "Life's too short," and threw in the towel. A tip of the hat to those of you who were fine with solving it as a themeless. My Bad Attitude extends to a refusal to do that with an early week puzzle; for me, it's mostly about the theme on those days.

jberg 11:22 AM  

When even @Nancy, who has written a whole book of poems where you have to fill in missing words that are all anagrams of each other, does not like it, you know you have a problem. Me, I liked it because I love anagrams. I guess the point of doing it is to give yourself some tight restrictions (they have to be from a predetermined set of 50 words, and you have to be able to arrange them symmetrically) and then make a puzzle following those restrictions. Good enough for me.

I do drive, but our only car has a manual transmission, with a little diagram of how to find the six gears on the handle of the shift knob -- so I had to get LOW before I could figure out what PRNDL meant.

ANTIUS sounds like that guy Hercules had to hold up in the air in order to win the wrestling match.

@Loren, to answer your question, it's because BLONDEs have more fun.

Speedweeder 11:27 AM  

Klazzic: My thoughts exactly. I wish everyone would just lighten up. If you don't enjoy solving puzzles, find another hobby.

It wasn't necessary to unscramble the anagrams to complete the puzzle, but they added another layer for those of us who enjoy that kind of thing. What is wrong with that?

I suspect many of the commenters here don't enjoy crosswords so much as they enjoy complaining about them.

Leslie 11:38 AM  

@GILL You'll have to ask LMS, but I think the apostrophe could be correct. Usually one uses possessive with gerunds(gerundives?) (e.g. he resented my leaving him to do the cleaning up). I'm not sure if Californian's arriving is in the same case, but I think it is.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

NE went in last. Don't know why.

And, in the Real World, it's S&P.

I've decided to award 1A with the dubious honor: Vaguest Crossword Clue of All Time.

Not so sure about that. How's about folks come up with other words which work? We can make a list. And Santa Rex can check it twice.

@mericans in Paris 12:04 PM  

@Nancy at 10:01 AM -- "LOW is only for stick shifts, right?"

No. A stick shift would say "1" or "2" for a low gear. Many automatic transmissions offer a LOW gear for when one is driving up a hill at a slow speed or starting off on snow or ice.

pabloinnh 12:08 PM  

I like anagrams, I like puzzles, I like acrostics, I'm just too easy. Do the Jumble every day, harmless fun. I cruised through this one, got the theme, unscrambled the capitlals, finding Austin to be the trickiest (hi Roo), but then, but then..

For some reason I included BLONDEALE as a themer. Try making that into a state capital. I did, and you can't do it. There, saved you some time.

Hi non-car @Nancy. No, a stick shift doesn't say L on it anywhere, and please don't try to drive my standard shift car. Thank you.

OK Wednesday by me. Thanks JF.

@mericans in Paris 12:12 PM  

P.S.: Here is a web site that will create anagrams for you. I was curious whether one could create an anagram for Tallahassee. Here's my favourite, which would go well with one of the sub-themes (AGHA, EMIR, SAND P):


Nancy 12:19 PM  

@Rainbow (10:28) -- Very funny clip! It could have been me behind the wheel if I were blonde.


If you don't know what @jberg (11:22) was referring to, here's one example. One group of letters, anagrammed, will complete this poem in a way that makes sense. (My pleasure, btw, is not in solving anagrams; my pleasure is in forcing other people to solve anagrams. :) All the groups of anagrams in my [unpublished] collection were gotten from the Internet. I didn't have to figure them out. My challenge was incorporating them into assorted poems for others to solve.) The poem I've chosen should have particular resonance for this august group. Five letters. Look for perfect scansion.


The ----- today wasn't tricky enough,
The editor just made it tougher.
He wants all our ----- to be dripping with sweat,
He wants all us solvers to suffer.

Now you know the -----; it's a Saturday grid,
The clue will be weird and Shortz-sited,
The answer as long as a passage of -----,
Your ev'ry attempt will be blighted.

And just as a ----- is a thing that will grow
From a seed to a bean to a bean dish,
A puzzle's a thing that will grow through the week
From the docile and sweet to the fiendish.

One anagrammed group of letters will complete this poem. (5 letters)

kitshef 12:46 PM  

@Nancy - what fun! You should self-publish.

@Klazzic - I like hamburgers, but if I'm served one that is cooked to a brick, or smothered in relish, I won't like that particular hamburger.

Joseph M 12:50 PM  

Antius? Theeu? Sandp? Musti? What language is this crossword puzzle in? And why have the state capitals been scrambled?

For the second time in a week, I wrote in “tan” and had to change it to “sun.” And had the hardest time trying to figure out what a little chipper might be. Otherwise this was a pretty routine solve.

Glad to see a shout out to my favorite comedian autobiography “I, Hope.”

jb129 1:05 PM  

I don't have anything to say to make commentators smile except that I liked it. Thank you Mr Fagliano!

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

@kitshef: Do you also require your hamburgers to have a theme, but only one which hasn't been done before? And to go from well done to medium-rare based on the day of the week? Do you time how long it takes you to eat?

I suspect many of the commenters here are very picky eaters.

GILL I. 1:11 PM  

@Leslie 11:38...Thanks. When I hit the "publish" button and then read my comment, it looked wrong to me. It is true about "The California's Tale" but I'm pretty bad in all grammar aspects. I tend to over use commas or put them in the wrong place.....and I like to over use dot dot dots. :-)
@Nancy: Can I share one of your neurons? Good going - nary a LOW point in your poem. :-)

jb129 1:13 PM  

BTW - I totally agree with Klazzic & Speedweeder. It's really just a crossword puzzle - for your enjoyment or not.

Teedmn 1:16 PM  

I'm terrible at anagrams and not so hot at state CAPITALS. I took Civics in school as a summer school class so as to miss one of the most boring teachers ever - 8 AM to noon five days a week for six weeks the summer before 9th grade but I think it was worth it. But we didn't memorize the state capitals like the school year class did. All I remember from that summer school class is what Caveat Emptor means. I remember a cartoon in the textbook showing a store named Caveat Emptorium, which I still find amusing.

So the post-solve homework, as Rex dubs it, was a 4 out of six correct pop quiz. I first looked at ANTIUS (what language does that come from? Har, it's ANTI-US, EYELID-roll) and tried to make SAINT paUl out of it so when 21A turned out to be ST PAUL, I chuckled, but never did see AUSTIN. But I got RALEIGH so not too bad.

MAIL FRAUD - I don't think my Dad, as the Postmaster of a small post office, saw much of it - he was more likely to be filing paperwork on damaged rural mailboxes, one of the banes of his job. And he was fond of explaining that it was a federal offense to put non-official mail into someone's mailbox. Last year, when he was living with us, he called 911 because he saw a postal jeep driving around the neighborhood on a Sunday!! No one sent him the memo that that was a thing now that USPS has joined up with Amazon and FedEx and UPS. I think he finally called the local branch and they explained it to him. I was aghast that he was playing postal inspector!

A strange little theme today, but it occupied my brain, so thanks, Joel Fagliano.

Runs with Scissors 1:54 PM  

Fun to solve. Got the the bit didn't unscramble. Posting from my phone and that's a pain, so, that is all. Liked it.

Aketi 2:35 PM  

@Nancy, you made my head hurt and my sweat drip in a good way.

CDilly52 2:43 PM  

Well, I found this so scintillating that as usual, I was solving in bed after reading and...I fell sound asleep with the app open so the clock just kept ticking until my sick cat woke me up a couple ours later to eat a tiny bit of food. So this probably was the longest recorded solve tome in the history of the timed app.but all in all, and sick cat notwithstanding, it really just had no spark for me. I think it really WAS a slog and the anagrams? Meh.

Joe Dipinto 2:45 PM  

The clue for 17a should have been:
What Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were recently charged with

I think the puzzle is fine; the anagrams don't really represent a theme to me, just an "oh, by the way, here's a little Easter egg."

@Nancy, I'll work on solving your verse -- right after I cue up a garage-rock classic from 1966, "You're Gonna Miss Me" by the 13th Floor Elevators.

Joe Dipinto 3:45 PM  

@Nancy -- got it.

Bean dish/fiendish is positively Sondheimesque.

albatross shell 3:48 PM  

I am WAY honored to even accidently confused with Nancy. PRNDL's meaning didn't come to me until after I got LOW on crosses. Maybe I was a bit slow because I had been driving a manual for the last 15 years. Whenever I go from manual to auto I amazed at how little skill it takes to drive, and when I go back to manual I am amazed at how hard it is to drink coffee while you drive.

I was trying to make a joke off someone's wonderful comment yesterday about using the colors of the rainbow as a mnemonic to remember ROYBGIV.

Molasses 4:02 PM  

Count me in the anagrams-give-me-a-headache crowd but even more I can’t stand not knowing the answer. I think I finally got it with help from an ESL or maybe homeschooling website. Clever poem, @Nancy!

albatross shell 4:08 PM  

Isn't the clue for STATECAPITALS the most ambiguous clue in this puzzle. I got SUCH on the S and H. And then there was the T T T clue. And once there was just blank space for the clue, I think. Don't remember the answer on that one.

Nancy 5:22 PM  

To those who liked it, thanks so much. Want more? While most of the collection-- 41 poems -- are in hard copy only, I have over time emailed some of my puzzle-friends with maybe 10 or so that I typed up for them online. Anyone here who wants those, and who can supply me with an email address, is welcome to try their hand at solving them. I'll go back in my files, find the emails, and forward them to you.

Not everyone enjoys this particular kind of challenge though. I "gifted" @Hartley a while back with a Xerox of the entire hard copy collection. If I remember correctly, she tried really, really, really hard to be polite and sound enthusiastic :)

oopsydeb 8:18 PM  

I was going to bother with the anagrams after finishing the puzzle, but then realized Rex would do that for me. Thanks, Rex.

As long these anagrams happened, I say they should have gone with FRINGED SLIP for my state capital.

tea73 9:11 PM  

Coming very late to this. I thought Nancy's anagram might be sprout, until I realized it has six letters - oops. When I was in Girl Scout Camp we did various games to pick chores. I knew all the state capitals as that was a regular challenge. But I've forgotten most of them in the intervening 50 years or so. The only one that helped with the answer was Austin. I'm only posting because in Taiwan we stayed in a hotel with no fourth floor - four being an unlucky number in China.

Lewis 9:19 PM  

@nancy -- "Bean dish -- Fiendish" -- Hah! and Brava!

Anonymous 9:26 PM  

The fact that they were state capitals didn't mean anything as I solved "State Capitals" long before actually getting the clues that were the anagrams. I therefore never needed to even bother solving the anagrams or waste the time.

Runs with Scissors 10:57 PM  

@Clueless 9:49 AM

WHO, as in name of whom, is SAMIAM speaking to?

On the off chance you're serious, SAM is on acid and speaking to the one only he can see, and with whom only he can interact. It's obvious.

spacecraft 10:35 AM  

Well, for what it's worth, the layout of the STATECAPITALS almost aligns geographically. The southern ones are all south of the northern, and they're also correct east/west except for the LANSING/STPAUL pair. In fact, DOVER is on the east coast while SALEM is on the west coast. MADISON is central longitudinally, if a bit north otherwise. UP to that point, I give props.

Then, THINGs go downhill, culminating in an (oh, no!) ampersandwich. The line above it, THEEU, isn't exactly a winner either. However, I GROITTED my teeth and solved it, rather easily. Look: ITSAGIRL--SAMANTHA Bee! She will "Bee" the DOD.

Anagramming: ANTIUS had me stumped for a few seconds; otherwise, no big deal. Had 20 and 21 been switched, I might have gone with a par, despite 63. As it is, bogey.

Burma Shave 11:35 AM  


Well-CHISELed MALES are annoyed –
NEED not commit “MAIL”FRAUD.


rainforest 3:16 PM  

This was probably a little tougher (at least the anagramming part) for a Canadian, but overall, a medium puzzle. I don't mind anagrams, or state capitals, and I don't care if there was a "reason" for these ones. It was a diversion.

Watching video of Trump's UK visit revealed much ANTI US (or, at least ANTI Trump) protests which the Orange One somehow mistook for "cheering". What an idiot.

Let's all just applaud that a Wednesday level puzzle appears on a Wednesday and gives a certain amount of enjoyment. I've never understood the idea that there must be a reason for a puzzle. But, that's just me. Hey @Spacey - I don't mind "ampersandwiches" if they reflect how they are pronounced.

Diana,LIW 4:23 PM  

Felt easier than Mon or Tues, except for PRNDL crossing VENMO. I guessed right, and now know both.

And yes - I'm glad I thot of the ampersandwich!!!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Syndiecat Crosswords

rondo 5:15 PM  

Pretty much flew through this puz, not paying much attention to the anagrams. At least St. Paul made the cut, even though we’re LASTUP.

Since I’ve been streaming with Sling I actually know who yeah baby SAMANTHA Bee is. Before Sling the cable TV references were almost unknown to me. Now I can have a chance at +/- 25 stations of ‘em, though I’m often stuck on ESPN and sometimes BBC America.

Anagrams = wordplay. It’s a word puzzle.

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