South American landmark whose name means old peak / THU 5-16-19 / One-named singer with "ö" in her name / Not kosher in Jewish law / Superhero with lightning bolt symbol /

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium (5:36)

THEME: RAMP UP (45D: Increase rapidly ... or a hint to connecting four pairs of answers in this puzzle) —in four themers, the letters "UP" are represented in the grid by a "RAMP" of three black squares. So answer starts on one plane and finishes two rows higher, three columns over:

Theme answers:
  • MACHUPICCHU (26A: South American landmark whose name means "old peak")
  • "KUNGFUPANDA" (29A: 2008 animated film set in ancient China)
  • "IFYOUPLEASE" (47A: Start of a polite request)
  • D'ANJOUPEARS (51A: Fruit named for a region of France)
Word of the Day: D'ANJOU PEARS (51A) —
The D'Anjou pear, sometimes referred to as the Beurré d'Anjou or simply Anjou, is a short-necked cultivar of European pear. The variety was originally named 'Nec Plus Meuris' in Europe and the name 'Anjou' or 'd'Anjou' was erroneously applied to the variety when introduced to America and England. It is thought to have originated in the mid-19th century, in Belgium or France. (wikipedia)
• • •

Yikes, that D-apostrophe at the front of the anjou pears answer was dire. Didn't really register that that answer was a themer at first, and when I finished with DANJO all I could think of was how my fruit knowledge had failed me. That was probably the toughest part of the puzzle for me, aside from the typical Thursday challenge of figuring out just what the hell the gimmick is. I got MACH and knew that the rest of the answer had gone ... somewhere, but I had no idea where. This pattern continued. The rest of the answer reappeared nowhere in direct proximity to where it got lopped off, so eventually, when I hit the "-" clues, I just looked back at / tried to remember the answers with their latter halves missing, and filled in those squares that way. My brain does not like the fact that "UP" is two letters and the "RAMP" is three squares long. That non-correspondence is real nails/chalkboard stuff for me. Buuuuut I can appreciate how the RAMP is just an entity that is going UP, and that if you don't have an obsessive brain that needs letters and boxes to agree in number, that is enough. I do like the Chutes & Ladders quality of the grid, with answers just whack-a-mole'ing / wormholing up in completely unexpected places.


I had:
  • RATS for NUTS (5D: "Dagnabbit!")
  • CON for FOR (11D: One side of a debate)
  • KRONER for KRONOR because Swedish monetary plurals lord have mercy (43D: Money in Malmö)
  • LOAFS for LOLLS (42A: Wears pajamas all day, e.g.) — this clue is dumb and judgey. I've definitely word pajamas all day while actually working so take that, you smarmy button-down Madison Avenue go-getter of a clue
Other issues:
  • I misspelled POLLACK, of course (POLLOCK!?)
  • I feel bad for all the people who are encountering TREF for the first time today (53D: Not kosher, in Jewish law). Crashing and burning on this answer is a rite of passage for many. Welcome to the club. 
Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Patrick O'Connor 12:06 AM  

I'm glad you forgave him the D' of the ANJOU PEARS. I loved this puzzle.

Heh heh, in your write-up you say you've definitely "word pajamas." I always figured you had word pajamas.

Anonymous 12:12 AM  

Ramps are three squares because each U-P pair is separated by a space.

Runs with Scissors 12:13 AM  

Much fun!! Although some of the “dash” clues flummoxed me for more than a couple picoseconds and one I’m still not sure HTH it’s theme-connected.

Lots to like: OOLALA we have SHAZAM, even though I’ve never heard of said dude since I don’t do comic books; LEGION, which one must travel to France to find as a military unit; ROTUNDAS! I’ve always thought of them as fat buildings; the High HOLY DAYS; TATAMIS; BIDON (more later); . Et cetera, et cetera.

I always thought the French fruit were Anjou pears, not D’ANJO(U). The French can’t spell any better than we. Gotta look that up later, if’n I remember.

Favorite clue-answer only light-bulbing after the solve: 58A Button-downs = KEYSTROKES. Masterful misdirect!

I’ve never used bread to SOP up soup, so that took a few micro-seconds to suss out. Plus, POLLACK was unknown to me. I don’t know who directs what, because who cares?

LAMAZE classes.

The other meaning of BIDON: A cyclist’s water bottle. If you don’t know about the Velominati, it won’t make sense. Don’t worry about it.

NUTS, the overall theme is still escaping me, although I note the missing “U” (@M&A will surely comment on this) at 26A, 29A 47A, 51A. I don’t understand the outlier missing “P” at 20A since no other answer seems to follow along. Some day it might be important to know why.

Naaaaah. It was great fun without knowing.

Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

Pete 12:38 AM  

That U just under MACH was a really annoying red herring for me. Really annoying.

Casarussell 12:46 AM  

Hi, I'm Bryant--I crashed and burned on TREF for the first time today.

("HI, Bryant")

puzzlehoarder 12:47 AM  

It figures that after spending a Thursday's worth of time on yesterday's puzzle that today's should come in like a Saturday. By the time I fully understood the theme the puzzle was nearly filled in. It allowed me to fill in some mystery spots to finish.

Maybe I'm just too literal but rather than claiming debuts like KUNGFUPANDA in the xwordinfo lists they should be putting in drivel like KUNGF, IFYO and ICCHU etc. If that's the kind of entry they want in their puzzle by all means take ownership of it. Especially EARS crossing EAR.

What can I say, I'm just not a theme person. At least I remembered TREF this time.

jae 12:49 AM  

Very tough. Spent a ton of time trying to figure out where the UP went. Turns out nowhere. Not familiar with SUPERSLOMO...SLOMO yes, SUPER not so much. This was more irritating than fun, probably because of my “obsessive brain”. That said, a tricky clever Thurs. which I begrudgingly liked.

@ Rex - Me too for rats and kroner.

Lady Di 1:03 AM  

For the most part I liked this, but OOLALA is not a thing. There is always an H at the end of the OOH.

Anonymous 1:13 AM  

Regarding the 3 squares for 2 letters...I thought of it as U P and therefore 3 squares. But that then doesn’t make RAMP UP but rather RAMP U P, which isn’t quite there either I guess.

Anonymous 1:34 AM  

EAR ACHE crossing EARS? No Rex Rant™ about that, even though he highlighted it?

But what a tricky theme. Check out Jeff's comment on his construction struggles at xword info.

For 22D "Vandal" I initially had DAMAGER (a bit silly, I know), then DEFACER (better).


Mike in Mountain View 1:48 AM  

Great theme idea and execution. I found the puzzle challenging but enjoyed the aha moment.

Suzanne Lander 2:13 AM  

I had many of the same issues as you and then many more. I had:
* SLOWMOTION for SUPERSLOMO (13A: Sports replay effect)
* SLANT for ANGLE (4A: Perspective)
* WIZARDOFOZ for STAGEACTOR (17A: Person behind the curtain?)
Always have trouble with Thursday's.
While I am quite familiar hearing the word TREF, I was spelling it TRAF. Duh. Even after I'd filled in all the boxes and completed the puzzle, I didn't understand how the ramping up was happening; it seems that whenever I see those confounded little dashes, my mind goes blank! Thank you, Rex, for enabling me to fall asleep tonight with this mystery resolved.

Anonymous 3:29 AM  

This was another astoundingly creative crossword puzzle. I can’t imagine how the constructor was able to create the two-tiered theme. (Hell, I can’t even imagine how one constructs a straightforward puzzle.)

There is a very successful restaurant in Williamsburg in Brooklyn called Traif. It is wildly popular, mainly because the food is surprisingly good. When it first opened, the owners said that they had decided to call it Traif because the neighborhood is heavily Jewish, and they serve a lot of non-kosher dishes. Until this puzzle came along, I had thought that traif was, in fact, the word that means non-kosher. So vhat do I know? he said with a shrug.

Once I saw the theme, it became a lot easier, but that’s not to say it became easy. I had the same trouble with a lot of the misdirects that others had. So even after coming up with the theme, I ended up with a DNF. Even so I did like the puzzle, and I am in awe of the constructor’s ability to put it together.

Loren Muse Smith 3:57 AM  

Rex – me, too, for thinking I didn’t know my fruits. Once I saw the trick and the dashes for certain clues, I just thought the second half of the phrase would be up a little higher than the first part. Seeing that some letters were missing (but not noticing that they were all U P oops) I was looking for them to appear and kinda staircase their way up. @Pete – I thought I was onto something with that U under MACH.

The aha moment was delicious. To see that the UP was en route on the ramp up to the second part – wow. So satisfying. I loved that the two pairs are stacked.

Rex’s D’ANJOU was my EAR/EARS crossing. Chen is a master, and there was no way that was going to happen, so that just mucked up all kinds of stuff for a while.

Hand up for “rats” and “kroner.” I also had “lazes” before LOLLS. Oh, and “nee” before AKA. Dumb. “nee” is a full-on word, not just “letters.”

Loved the clue for BRR. “Sound made while clasping oneself.” It’s just such a surprising group of words. Actually, now that I think about it, it’s odd; don’t we usually clasp something with our hands (not our arms)? So a shivering, twittery person with small hands really can’t fully get ahold of himself?

@Runs – agree that the clue for KEYSTROKE is brilliant. So is the one for GPA.

STAGE ACTOR – We’ve finished reading Macbeth and have moved on to watch the BBC television stage production. I made the mistake of commenting that I read somewhere that actors are trained not to blink. So now it’s impossible not to just concentrate on watching the actors not blinking. Even more impossible not to sit there and not blink yourself. Some of you are trying your hand at not blinking right now. It’s hard, isn’t it?

I’m with @Patrick O’Connor – glad that Rex forgave the D-apostrophe. This was a terrific Thursday.

BarbieBarbie 5:50 AM  

DNF because KEYSTRiKES and KRONiR. But I loved this puzzle. (Got TREF on the crosses so phew.) Lots of writeovers and grid repairs even though the theme clicked early. Great great great great. It’s going to be a good day.

Aketi 6:26 AM  

I thought they were all going to be mountains when I got the MACH ICCHU U P ramp. Since I went in EARS first on the DANJO so while I lost a nanosecond it wasn’t too hard to add the D. I once painted our bedroom in Benjamin Moore’s ANJOu pEAR. It’s a soothing color.

@LMS, leave it to U to add an U P ramp to Ur avatar.

LaTiDa 6:57 AM  

Hated this. Oo la la is not a thing. I’ve complained about it several times. The phrase is Ooh la la. Go ahead google “oo la la” in google books which is the most accurate way to find phrases actually being used in a language. It does not show up. In any century. Plus the Naticks today were totally unfair and annoying. FUeey.

Roo 6:59 AM  

Is OOLALA really said in the US to mean "fancy"? I live in France and am married to a French man and nobody says it to mean that.

For a start, most people say just "Ohla". Then, it's used to mean "Oh dear god, that's not good". If the thing is really not good you can wind up to a big "Ohlalalalalala". Occasional usage for surprise, but not at the "fanciness" of the thing. So no OO and no "fancy".

Loved the puzzle.

I also wear (word) pyjamas all day and work so paf to that.

Jeff 7:00 AM  

Weezer is not emo...

Suzie Q 7:03 AM  

I haven't watched a feature length cartoon since Fantasia so all I know of the genre I learned from crosswords. With that scant amount of knowledge I happily wrote in Mulan. It didn't take long to realize that was wrong but I had no idea how to fix it. Fung Fu Panda?? WTF?

Jon Alexander 7:21 AM  

Tore through this soon as I hit MACH I knew something was up (no pun intended). Luckily I want along the top and drop into the first “-“ quickly. Like Rex, my brain wanted the ramp to contain three letters, but I quickly saw the basic UPward motion of the ramp so I was able to has it out. Give the central UP to all the themes, they became pretty to parse out.....except for D’ANJO....dunno why, but my brain wanted Bijou, but I guess that is a cheese not a fruit. That was the only hiccup for the grid though and I cam in well below my avg time.

I feel there is a small irony in recognizing the umlaut in BJORK (I have no umlaut key), but not recognizing the apostrophe on one of your themers...

OffTheGrid 7:21 AM  

This puzzle is an outstanding example of constructor masturbation.

kitshef 7:25 AM  

This was brilliant.

Very difficult for me. Thought for sure I was headed for a DNF with so many WoEs in the grid: TATAMIS, POLLACK, SOP, and KEN, plus that difficult clue for KGB, and not knowing the plural of krona.

But, after a while, it all came together in a beautiful and pleasing fashion.

I was hoping for a Bjork video.

RavTom 7:26 AM  

You weren’t wrong about the restaurant. The word is Yiddish. Since Yiddish is written in Hebrew letters, several transliterations can work. TREF, treif, traif, treyf, and probably others get used.

OffTheGrid 7:32 AM  

@LMS. Loved your poke at Agent Orange.

70 in nampa 7:36 AM  

Yeah, no...

Speedweeder 7:38 AM  

Jeff 7:00 - I had the same reaction. I've heard lots of stuff by Weezer and never would have described it as EMO. So I looked it up in Wikipedia, and here's what it said: "Weezer has been described as alternative rock, power pop, pop rock, pop punk, emo, indie rock, emo pop, geek rock, melodic metal, and pop". So I guess the clue is correct, and I have no idea what emo is.

Hungry Mother 7:42 AM  

Cool theme, but the fill slowed me down. Had STRATa for a while near the end. Challenging, but doable here.

Odd Sock 7:50 AM  

"Well, ain't that fancy!" is lah-di-dah.
Oo(h)-la-la means sexy.

Sop is a verb. It is what you do with the bread and even then it is gravy you sop up not the bread itself. Missed theme opportunity?

This was such a strange puzzle. Low-brow clues like Dagnabbit, Doofus, and Ain't but then there's begone and sayst which sound Shakespearean.
Three clues pertaining to Judaism. Throw in some Swedish, Japanese, ancient South American and there is barely room for your commercial names like Galaxy and Kraft. To complete the list are three movie titles and an obscure superhero. Super in a clue and an answer? I suppose if ears and earache are OK then super gets a pass as well.

Like I said. strange puzzle today.

jammon 7:54 AM  

Why isn't this called "STEP UP?" Those three squares are steps, not a ramp. NOT a fan...way-too-cutesy.

Paul Emil 8:02 AM  

I use to like Jeff Chen's puzzles.

Bob Mills 8:25 AM  

Brilliant puzzle. I say that because I finished it 100%. If I hadn't, I'd have called it an ugly puzzle.

mmorgan 8:27 AM  

I thought Rex would hate hate hate this.

I somehow missed the revealer which made this crazy tough for me. With MACH and ICCHU in place, I figured out that the second parts of words or names went ... somewhere... but couldn’t make the connections and thought that there had to be a UP rebus in there somewhere. The U under MACH also tied me in knots. Not knowing the KUN___ movie didn’t help either. And thinking that 34D was HOLiDAYS dug my misery knife in even deeper.

Now, knowing the revealer and seeing the RAMP UP pattern, I can really appreciate the nifty construction work here.

Rug Crazy 8:27 AM  

The only thing I enjoyed about this was finishing.

amyyanni 8:32 AM  

Wonderfully inventive! Also love keystrokes clue. Got stuck on REF (in the NE) as I was thinking of when you sneak up on someone and surprise them with "Boo!" Clasping (BRR) and Rotundas are fun words.

Unknown 8:33 AM  

No one noticed ORGASM? Once seen, it cannot be unseen. Did this get snuck in by the creator, and the editors didn’t catch it?

pabloinnh 8:37 AM  

The big headscratcher for me was 1D, as SHAZAM is not a superhero but a word you say to become a superhero, which means I am probably as old as Billy Batson. Noticed some answers missing the U and eventually looked up and found others missing the P and the clouds parted and all was sunshine and lollipops. The key here was taking a break to have breakfast with the granddaughter, leading to happy brainwaves and a fresh approach.

Another "be careful what you wish for" lesson, as this was a thorny Thursday indeed, but in the end I thought it was terrific. Muchisimas gracias to JC.

Steve 8:41 AM  

@LMS - "So a shivering, twittery person with small hands really can’t fully get ahold of himself?" I see what you did there... ;-)

@OffTheGrid - if it was as you said, then Jeff must have felt REALLY GOOD when he was finished...

Z 8:50 AM  

I think today’s theme fail is worse than yesterday’s theme fail. Is it U_P or is it UP. Standard crossword is to ignore spaces, so UP would work in the RAMPs, but no. We get a non-standard space that isn’t reflected in the revealer answer. On a scale of 0-10 where 0 is “not a fail” and 10 is “this should never have been published the theme is so broken,” yesterday’s non-specific themer was a 3 and today’s extra space is a 6. Id est, I can accept that this was published but I found that space twice as irksome in this house.

Crossing TREF with TATAMIS is a real “fuck you new solvers” moment. Not just two foreign words, but two foreign words transliterated from different alphabets! Thanks for playing.

I see Joe BIDON made the puzzle. He is definitely in my list of Top 50 Democratic Presidential Candidates. Barely, but he makes the list.

@Jeff - As I reflexively said “three letter music genre = EMO” I also asked myself, “Is Weezer EMO?” I just looked and Wikipedia lists EMO in their list of genres after alternative rock, power pop, pop rock, and pop punk. I will repeat for Shortz and Chen, Wikipedia is a good place to start research. To start, not to finish.

GILL I. 9:06 AM  

I'm not sure how to describe my feelings about the puzzle. Weird comes to mind.
I had MACH and the ICCHU so I went looking for the UP. Like @Pete 12:38 that U underneath it at 29A annoyed me no end. Finally got to the reveal and thought RAMPUP what the hell. Then I looked at THREE black squares going to the missing UP and again thought....WHY THREE?
After yesterday's brilliance, this fell flat for me. Always thought the PEAR was Anjou. At least my produce man does. The reveal itself is so dull. RAMP UP means to increase, no? And it's all by itself in that little nefarious corner waiting to bite you.
I confuse BOOGER with GOOBER. Well, to be fair, you do pick them both. Isn't a GOOBER a pea? What happened to HOLY Week? Is the high time only one DAY? I like Sydney POLLOCK but I sure wish he'd been clued as the director for "Out of Africa." So SHAZAM is a superhero? All these years I thought of it as an exclamation like when you pull a quarter from behind an EAR and then SHAZAM, it appears in your grandpa's hand.
LAMAZE doesn't work; go for the epidural.

SouthsideJohnny 9:09 AM  

Brutally tough (actually unsolvable) for me today and way above my pay grade. It definitely seemed Friday or Saturday tough. The theme is so difficult to discern that it was no help with anything, and thus the “-“ clued answers were all out-of-bounds. Throw in the usual helping of trivia, foreign words, et al and I was completely sunk. Oh well, I’ll see how much of Friday’s effort I can piece together and hope I fare better on Sunday.

David 9:11 AM  

Movies sports cartoons comic books products not for me. Just ugh.

Don't all the Abrahamic religions have "High Holy Days"?

Native plural of krona but English plural on tatami, which should be tatami mats, not tatamis.

Interesting construction which, of course, I had no clue of until coming here. Defilers exhumes azaleas were my easiest. Slow motion over Wizard of Oz just didn't do it.

Tough Thursday for me.

EdTech@mjbha 9:12 AM  

Most Jews who keep kosher spell it TREIF, which always throws me.

Stanley Hudson 9:19 AM  

I like weird so liked this.

QuasiMojo 9:32 AM  

Shazam became a superhero due to copyright issues over the name Captain Marvel. There have been countless articles in the NYT and other rags explaining it all when the recent film Shazam opened a few weeks ago. This puzzle, like the comic book Shazam, was too contrived and complicated and trying too hard to be contemporary and not at all a success. Stage Actor as clued made little sense. He or she is not acting when behind the curtain. Stage Manager or Prop Master might have worked but why bother? Looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully a puzzle that is worth my time.

Nancy 9:34 AM  

Really, really weird. The good news is that there was a lot of crunchiness. The bad news is that I think I broke all my teeth. The two-letters-to-be-entered-in-three-spaces thing just Doesn't Work. It's Unfair. It Makes No Sense At All.

And then you embed all that weirdness in a plethora of pop culture. Making the solving experience even more frustrating. I'm extremely proud of myself for finishing, but I certainly didn't enjoy it. I think this puzzle really went off the rails. Or maybe off the RAMP.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

IF YOU PLEASE is not a "pair" - neither is D'ANJOU PEARS (three words). If "IFYOU" is half a pear (sic), then "U P" in the "ramp" (steps?) is not correct.

You can have "poire d'Anjou" or "Anjou pear" but not both.

webwinger 9:53 AM  

After being solidly in the FOR camp re yesterday’s surprisingly controversial puzzle, I can’t generate much enthusiasm for today’s. Overall the gimmick just seemed too gimmicky. Didn’t fully get the theme until after staring for a while at the completed grid; think the solve would have been considerably easier had I figured it out en route. Agree that “increase rapidly” does not work as a clue for the revealer RAMP UP; like an earlier commenter I first filled in stePUP. OTOH, I don’t think either TREF or TATAMIS is out of line for a Thursday.

BTW, I’m glad to see that @Rex is still in his “word pajamas”.

SJ Austin 9:54 AM  

EMO: a genre of music that apparently now includes every band ever.

Sir Hillary 9:58 AM  

Excellent puzzle. I will confess to being initially put off by UP in a three-square RAMP, but I got over it, as it appears @Rex may be leaning toward. I like the concept of thinking of the third square as a space, but it really doesn't pass crossword muster (see STAGEACTOR, IFYO[U] and, of course, RAMPUP).

Fun that SUPERSLOMO and STATIONARY share a grid. Love GOOBER crossing GOOF. Clue for KEYSTROKES is wonderful.

I used to DOZE during LAMAZE class. Not my finest hour.

Forget ICCHU, KUNGF and IFYO -- is there anything worse here than SAYST?

A few people have noted what is by far my biggest pet peeve today. My Chemical Romance? EMO. 30 Seconds to Mars? EMO. Sisters of Mercy? EMO before it was even a thing. Weezer? Um, no. Now, maybe if Rivers Cuomo wore eyeliner...

Two really good puzzles in succession. ANDA way we go...

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Nice get! Hadn't considered that, good call.

Piehole 10:39 AM  

Meh. No space between KUNG and FU or IF and YOU. Still imperfect.

Blue Stater 10:46 AM  

Just awful (and the page tried to prevent me from posting this).

Watta Goober 11:11 AM  

I'm not on Jeff Chen's wavelength and it's about more than age and gender. I can fill in most of his puzzles, rarely all, and it's because of some crucial break in the way words work in my mind.

In conversation:

Bread used for soup .. sop? Could you please pass me the sop? Huh?
Wears pajamas all day ... lolls? I wore my pajamas all day. Really, did you just loll? Lol!
Person behind the curtain ... stage actor. I think of the stage actors as people behind the curtain. Really? Most people think of them as the people in front of the curtain.
Blunder ... goober. I just goobered! WTF are you telling me? I made a terrible goober. Try blowing your nose!

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Other than the epic fail of using three blank squares to resemble two letters, I laughed out loud when I saw the "answer" for 53 across (Japanese floor coverings). Having lived in Tokyo for a number of years, I've never heard that word pluralized with an S. Why not? Because the plural of tatami is tatami. When looking for an apartment, one can tell the size of the place by how many tatami it is (notwithstanding today's modern lingo, such as 3LDK which stands for 3 bedrooms with a Living room, Dining room and a Kitchen); nobody ever says "my apartment has 9 tatamis."

Puzzled 11:13 AM  


RooMonster 11:30 AM  

Hey All !
Uh-oh, this can get confusing. I've been posting here as @RooMonster for a few years, and if I post more than once, I usually end my second post with @RooMonster, and my third post as @Roo, so you see the problem. Not sure if you can change your name? I know that's asking alot, but I'm not even phone-literate enough to get my profile pic back! So might not be able to change my stuff. Food for thought.

Anyway, puz was cool. Thought it odd at first as to why a two-letter UP went up three squares, but I'll take the break in the words as the third space. However, if you go to xwordinfo, the finished puz has an arrow, UP, then another arrow. Interesting.

Took a minute to figure out theme. Got ANDA first, thinking the others might be adding-a-letter type things. Then got ICCHU, and that theory went out the window. Figured it out at IFYO, as wanted mayi first, then IFimay (one letter too long), then realized the black square would be a U, revisited KUNGF, and connected it to ANDA, then the "Ooh, I see..." Aha moment.

ladidA-OOLALA (agree missing the H), LOafS-LOLLS (see I'm not alone), ten-SKY (nice misdirect), pvtS-CPLS (should've known better), Scat-SHOO (because of my ladidA).

And, of course, my one-letter DNF, STRATa/aSSA. Thought ASSA was a weird name, but hey, there's plenty of odd names out there.

Hopefully, don't have to change my blogger name to ASSA.


Anonymous 11:36 AM  

We enjoyed it, got the gimmick when we spotted the steps/stairs/ramp and the four "-" clues and knew Machu Picchu, so there had to be a trick. We thought Rex would have figured it out in a split second if only because of the grid construction, which he usually examines very carefully, much more so than we do.

Sydney PollAck was the man behind a lot of very good films, as a director and a producer; he acted in a number of films, as well.

Jackson PollOck was, well, Jackson Pollock.

Newboy 11:41 AM  

Oh boy! Jeff Chen & Thursday make me smile. All that I needed to get the juices perking: great theme, wonderful cryptic clueing in spots and enough predictable answers to give me a degree of confidence in choices I wondered about. Big TEN clouded my vision for far too long in seeing Montana & EWU squaring off in the BIG SKY playoffs. Fun, Fun, Fun. Now I can read previous posts to see if others ramp up similar enthusiasm.

Z 11:53 AM  

@RooMonster - Regarding your photo? Is a copy on your phone? If so, it should be easy. On this page click on your blue name. This should take you to your profile page. In the upper right should be an “edit profile” button. Click it. Now find the add photo button, which will then ask you to browse to the photo you want. Pick the photo you want for your avatar. Then don’t forget to “save profile” at the bottom of the page. Since I don’t have my earlier avatar on my phone, I picked this lovely foot shot as my new avatar. You can do this.

@watta goober - Sometimes the word play is intentionally inverted. So, What would you use to SOP up your soup? Bread. Therefore, bread used for soup is a SOP.

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

I went to, what was called, Palestine High due to the overwhelming number of Jewish kids, and no one spelled it TREF. Nor were there high HOLY DAYS, by that name. Each was specifically named.

Bad enough to make me pine for a true rebus. And that's really bad.

jb129 11:58 AM  

Love Jeff's puzzles - but this one was too tough for me.

I was surprised to see "EAR" twice in one puzzle - & I wish they'd better make their minds up on whether it's "Oooh la la" or Oolala (2 down) but whatever (I had la di dah first anyway).

I guess what might have been a fun puzzle was a toughie for me

jb129 11:59 AM  

Better bone up on my on "Crazy Rich Asians" names

Larry Gilstrap 12:00 PM  

Tough little Thursday solve. Filling non-themer squares in the NW and the SE really didn't help much. The hyphen clues resulted in consternation until I realized the South American landmark had to be MACHU PICCHU and that letters don't have to jibe with black squares. Satisfying feelings result from recognizing the themers, all very real in the language things. Nice!

I'm a bit of a botanist, but AZALEAS and rhododendrons prefer a wetter climate than we have in Southern California, especially in the desert.

MOBILES are hung, but that genre eluded me for way too long. Ever see that giant Calder in the Smithsonian? Memorable.

I experienced a serious BJORK phase for much of the 90s. I found her appealing in just about every conceivable way, even the nutty part. She is a musician, after all. Chen's cluing even dodges the tilde fanatics, or whatever you call that diacritical mark. Don't @me.

I taught lots of kids dressed in black garments, finger nails, dyed hair, even lipstick, which symbolizes EMO to me. Weezer's music, on the other hand, is characterized by ironic wit and a playfulness that seem the antithesis of adolescent despair.

Speaking of dourness, thank goodness the KGB disbanded in 1991, developed a conscience, and shut down the high jinx. Think of all the trouble a malevolent group might have created.

Bruce R 12:01 PM  

+1 for Weezer not being emo. Not even close.

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

Nobody I know who SOPs, largely of Italian descent, SOPS soup. They SOP red sauce. White sauce in a pinch.

Geezer 12:12 PM  

These are words; EARS, LEASE, MACH

These are not words; ANDA, DANJO, ICCHU, IFYO, KUNGF


albatross shell 12:15 PM  

Yes, EMO has become the worst answer in all of crosswordese-dum. ENO plays EMO. Beethoven? Classic-EMO. Cage? Silent-EMO. Atonal-EMO. Twelve-tone-EMO. If it fits put it in. Should this bother me or should I be happy I know an answer? I never ever understood what alt or alternative music was and I'm a geezer, which I had in before GOOBER which is a peanut in America. Don't they sing Eating GOOBER Peas in school anymore? I always thought it was an insulting term for a Georgia redneck too, but the dictionaries do not mention this, so now I dunno. Dentist appt. Gotta run.

Carola 12:20 PM  

What fun! Challenging at first, in the best "What the heck's going on?" way, followed by ICCHU's sudden switch from "This can't be right" to "Aha!" when I understood what MA?? was doing at the foot of the down RAMP. I especially liked the DANJO EARS, but MACH RAMPing UP to ICCHU is nice in reflecting the tiered geography of the site.

Major struggle with SOP: My first thought was "rye" - like those bread bowls you get with chili. Nope. SOy bread? Finally remembered POLLACK.

Me, too, for all of @Rex's bullet points on do-overs.

MJT 12:21 PM  

I just knew 1D was THE FLASH and it was a Thursday so I wasted a good few seconds trying to work out the trick right here. Silly.

I had the same problem with the three squares/two letters until I realized there's a space. the three squares are U, space, P. Macchu_Picchu, KungFu_Panda, D'Anjou_Pears.

I'm lucky to have an extremely bougie friend who cans and labels her own D'Anjou pears for people every Christmas or I would have no idea what that was either. Although before I got PEARS I thought the revealer was JUMP UP.

A Rex-worthy quibble, I feel: "TATAMIS" is an anglicized pluralization of tatami, so why KRONOR for Krona? I'm fine with either pluralization in theory, I just want a puzzle to be consistent internally.

Joseph M 12:31 PM  

Challenging, but fine puzzle.

Took way too long to figure out what was going on. I knew it had something to do with MACHU PICCU but couldn’t imagine why it was so strangely split in the grid. Finally the theme showed itself with a giant aha! and the rest suddenly got a lot easier.

The theme makes sense to me in that two shaded squares form a rising RAMP to the “up” rebus in the third square. Mystery solved.

I STILLS can’t wrap my mind around KEYSTROKES as “button-downs.” And I fully reject the H-less OO LA LA. So the puzzle ain’t perfect. But overall it was a satisfying solve, even though the constructor misspelled Joe’s last name.

Also must congratulate the poster above who detected the word ORGASM rising secretly in the grid. If twelve thousand monkeys at typewriters were constructing crossword puzzles, what are the odds of any of them randomly producing this letter arrangement?

Malsdemare 12:33 PM  

Yeah, I hope @Roo is gracious enough to change his name. Lots of us shorten names of posters (lms, mals, etc.) and Roo is one of those shortcuts.

This was a challenge. It took me longer than many of you to catch the gimmick, mainly because of the proper names I don't know. Who the hell is Weezer? I know Stanley POLLACK, but I think the only movie I am reasonably sure he directed was "Tootsie," and I know that (if I'm right) because he had a cameo in it as Hoffman's agent. Oddly, I knew TREF, DEFILED, and lots of other stuff, but it was slow to fill and in the end, I screwed up (hi, RooMonster) at the STRATa/aSSA wreck.

'Twas a fine puzzle.

Odd Sock 12:49 PM  

Sorry @Z, @watta goober is right and so was I earlier.

Teedmn 1:00 PM  

What a fun Thursday puzzle! I started off on the wrong foot with 2D being la-di-dA. So my soup bread was "old" and I penned in "day" in the first black square, thinking "day-old" bread. Rebus in a black square was NOT today's theme but I tried.

AZALEAS got me out of that mess. And KUNGF[UP]ANDA got me onto the right track, theme-wise.

Is Weezer really EMO? I put in "alt" first. I love the misdirection on 9A, that the Boo in the clue is not trying to scare anyone.

I find this puzzle L'AMAZEing, so thanks, Jeff Chen.

JC66 1:15 PM  

Growing up in a Conservative (leaning more towards Orthodox than Reform) Jewish family, the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were referred to as the HIGH Holidays, so The clue for 34D "High time in Judaism" works fo me.

Fred Romagnolo 1:17 PM  

Sop is also a noun; it's what you give to a crying baby to quieten him; (Or her, to fend off nasty critics) I got the gimmick, but still DNF'd cause I'm not up on pop singers with an O in their name;(that's umlauted O)and spelled Kroner, instead of kronor. I've come think of Chen as being in the exalted company of Berry and Reagle, so I breathe heavily when I see his name as I start a puzzle. I agree on ooH la la. When I was a stage actor, I performed in front of, or with an opened curtain; never tried to frighten Dorothy and crew.

Unknown 1:18 PM  

Hah! ORGASM ascending upwards to intersect with LAMAZE. Cause and effect, eh?

Masked and Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Different kinda puztheme mcguffin -- so different, everyone's still kinda tryin to figure out its inside-the-puzramp details. Like.

M&A envisioned the 3-blacksquare-ramp as U+uparrow+P, since the ramped-up answers always had a word boundary between the U and the P. Looked at it as a mid-ramp pause, to catch yer breath.
Jeff Chen envisioned the ramp as uparrow+UP[rebus]+uparrow. Maybe that made him feel better, about his RAMPUP [aka UPSTAIRS] revealer?
Debusta gut, I say. Up is Up. …and day-um primo avatar, @muse darlin.

The Chenmeister is one of my fave constructioneers, and can do no wrong. [CPLS is close, tho.] Only 72 words, so lotsa interestin longballs, includin: SHAZAM. EXHUMES. ROTUNDAS. GALAXY. LCHAIM. STATIONARY. GOOBER.
TATAMIS seemed sorta newish, to the floor-covering-forgetful M&A mind.

staff weeject pick: "uparrow+UP[rebus]+uparrow", all dressed in black. honrable mention to the REF/FOR pair, which totally sucked m&e into the dreaded UMP/PRO trap (yo, @RP).

Nice use of extra weird random black squares, all over the puzgrid. Lends it an aura of quiet desperation; hard not to admire with a quiet, reverent "har".

Thanx for the feisty ThursPuz fun, Mr. Chen. Go od job.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Weezer is EMO the same way that LUIS was the first human character on Sesame Street: Correct if you misunderstand what you read on Wikipedia.

(I will never freakin' forgive that Luis thing)

Z 1:41 PM  

@Odd Sock - Well, sure, SOP is a verb. Even a cursory review of a dictionary or ten will reveal that SOP is also a noun. The ambiguity of “is it a noun or a verb in the clue?” is a common crossword cluing motif. I see at least three other examples in today’s puzzle alone. In short, your are right, but you are also wrong in the way that matters for the puzzle.

Ed Rorie 1:59 PM  

The National Gallery of Art, where the Calder mobile hangs, is NOT part of the Smithsonian!

OISK 3:14 PM  

I don't know what Weezer is, nor what "emo" is, except that the latter appears so often that I look for it when there is a 3 letter genre clue. Never heard of a singer named Bjork with an umlaut either. Nor of Angela Bassett. Solved it in superslomo...nearly gave up several times, but I did finish. Proud, but not pleased...

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

Mohair Sam if you're lurking...
The Calder comment made me think of some old Calder trivia I once posted here that I believed you enjoyed, you know, as a kindred Philly boy.
The trivia is that on the Ben Franklin Parkway there were three generations of Alexander Calder works on display: Alexander Milne Calder who did the Statue of Billy Penn atop City Hall, Alexander Stirling Calder who did the Swan at the Four Seasons Hotel and Alexander Sandy Calder who did Ghost which is suspended above the main staircase at the Phila. Museum of Art. The Four Seasons moved, so the middle piece is gone. But two out of three aint bad. Anyway hope to read a Mohair post again soon. ( And debate David the biologist about Aristotle)


Joe Dipinto 3:42 PM  

Wow, for me this was way more challenging than most Friday and Saturday puzzles have been of late.

No problem with the ramp-up consisting of three boxes; it's a more suitable visual than a mere two boxes would be.

I must concur with @roo's observation that "Oo-La-La" does not mean "Ain't that fancy", and with @Odd Sock who pointed out that the answer should correctly have been "La-Di-Dah".

I always forget Sydney Pollack directed "3 Days of the Condor"; I want to say Alan J. Pakula, who also helmed several 1970s paranoia-fests.

As of today I am changing my name to D'Joe Dipinto. Thank you for an exceptional puzzle, D'Jeff.

Space Is Deep 3:56 PM  

Agree with others, Weezer is not EMO! Bad, bad clue.

Rainbow 4:22 PM  

Why can't I find ORGASM. I've been looking for ORGASM for a long time. I want to see ORGASM. I'm really frustrated. Can someone please help me find ORGASM?

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

@Odd Sock says
"sop is a verb"
I say
"dictionary is a noun"
take the hint, Odd Sock

Mike Herlihy 5:57 PM  

Nice catch!

Mike Herlihy 6:02 PM  

From the end of DANJO upwards to the middle of LAMAZE.

MsLevyESL 6:13 PM  

I don't understand the button down clue for key strokes. Can someone please explain!

Mike Herlihy 6:18 PM  

From the end of DANJO upwards to the middle of LAMAZE.

Z 6:32 PM  

@MsLevyESL - On typewriters and analog computer keyboards each letter has a KEY which is really just a button that you push down to generate KEYSTROKES. Why are the buttons “KEYs?” No idea. But I presume “keyboard” comes from it being a board of KEYs.

Joe Dipinto 6:32 PM  

@MsLevy: You press down the button with the desired letter in order to effect a keystroke.

Runs with Scissors 6:38 PM  

@Z - keys because they're direct descendants of the typewriter keyboard which contained. . . keys.

albatross shell 6:42 PM  

@mslevy 6:19
You push the buttons down on a keyboard when making KEYSTROKES.

Roo 6:47 PM  

@RooMonster I see your problem but won't change my name as it's my actual real name but also the default Google choice and I can't be bothered messing around with it when I bang out a comment with no thinking in advance. BUT I have been here around 10 years and have probably posted 5 times in that period, so you won't see much clash! In any case, I appear with Roo as the title and you as RooMonster. (PS I'm female not male as suggested above.)

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

It would help the argument if those who synonymize KEY with BUTTON will produce a link to a keyboard manufacturer who also does so. A KEY is not a BUTTON. Under the KEYcap is a SWITCH, not a BUTTON.

Gritty Bang Bang 6:55 PM  

@Anon 3:26, the middle sculpture in the Alexander Calder sequence is very much still in place. It’s nothing less than the enormous Swann Memorial Fountain in the center of Logan Circle, which sits smack in the middle of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

And as all good Philadelphians know, the sculpture of Billy Penn atop Philly’s City Hall tower by Alexander Milne Calder, when viewed from said Parkway, looks very much like he would approve of today’s puzzle, hidden words and all. (

JC66 7:43 PM  

@Anon 6:48"

Think typewriter buttons.

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

The "key" in a keyboard comes from a typewriter key.

Why the buttons on a typewriter were called keys gets a little hazy - maybe related to the telegraph?

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Nancy, I don't know whether you'll see this (don't know whether you clicked on "get alerts that new posts have been posted") -- but I want to let you know that I LOVED your puzzle, and I hope you have more in the pipeline. I would be ecstatic if I could come up with something that clever. (I'm new to this blog, plus I'm a syndie solver, so it took me a while to put 1 and 3 and 2 together and realize that that puzzle was your creation.)

And, I sympathize more than you can know about the noise (won't give you the gory details, but I've been through something similar). Best wishes.

Anonymous 7:58 PM  

Um yeah, I know. Moving the Swan fountain? Really?!!!
It was a poor joke for a long absent friend.(Though i cant bring myself to go to the new Four Seasons)
I agree that Billy would approve of today's puzzle.

BarbieBarbie 8:19 PM  

@anon 745: but even that begs the question. Why is a telegraph button called a key? Did it originally fit into a slot when pressed? Weird.

JC66 8:34 PM  


Maybe because they were shaped like keys.

Anonymous 8:36 PM  

analog computer keyboards

That's just too much. There are no more 'analog computers', and haven't been for at least 50 years. May be 60. All KEYboards are analog (or digital, depending on where you draw the line), in the sense that each SWITCH generates a particular signal, which is interpreted by a microprocessor, which is then sent to the cpu. Again, a KEY just that. Not a BUTTON. One might argue that smartphone, and other 'virtual', KEYboards are software BUTTONs, but the function remains that of a KEY. Just like the 'Publish Your Comment' BUTTON below.

Speedweeder 8:51 PM  

@BarbieBarbie 8:19 - I think typewriter and telegraph keys got their name because they resembled keys on musical instruments like organs and pianos. Now as to why those are called keys, I have no idea.

DigitalDan 9:04 PM  

For the record, SUPERSLOMO is accomplished by recording at a very high frame rate, so that when slowed to the standard frame rate, it can still be rendered at full quality.

albatross shell 9:29 PM  

Look at a push-button phone or remember if you need to. Look at the buttons on keyboard of a computer. Notice the similarity. Look at Merriam-webster definition of a button: 3. A push-button. I do find the origins of the naming of keys, buttons, switches and boards interesting, but it has little to do with the accuracy of the cluing. A little common sense would help.

albatross shell 10:07 PM  

I was surprised today when I bought my first smartphone,a galaxy 10+. From landline only to that. I had a cheap cell phone for about a 18 months a few years ago. I expect it to ruin my life. But to the point, the camera has a SUPERSLOMO option. Might have hit on that answer earlier, if I purchased it last week.

Joe Dipinto 11:50 PM  

Anybody want some sautéed button mushrooms? They're really good. I also have key lime pie if you'd prefer something sweet.

Z 10:11 AM  

@anon8:36pm - My iMac and iPad are both computers. The iMac has an analog keyboard and my iPad has a digital keyboard. As for the rest, you’ve tied yourself into so many knots that you stopped making sense. Compare “a small switch for opening or closing an electric circuit” to “a small button or knob that when pushed operates something especially by closing an electric circuit.” Yep, dictionary definition of “key” and “button.”

Bill Millions 12:53 PM  

All four themers are missing “P”... just check Rex’s post in the “Theme Answers” section?

Also, almost all movie lovers care about who directs the movies. It’s okay to not love movies; I’m just answering your question.

Jon R 3:40 PM  

Loved the theme, but just blundered big time in the SW. Having three different Jewish-themed clues is very rough for a lapsed catholic solver, so I could piece LCHAIM and TREF together from crosses, my error of LOAFS for LOLLS made 34 down impossible, especially with DANJO in the mix (i knew it was wrong, but tried to force ANNJO). My HOLYDAYS ended up being HOAYAAYA which I prayed was the name of some specific high time, but alas it was not.

Burma Shave 9:35 AM  


YES, the SUPERSLOMO shows the REF the ANGLE FOR what’s,
to the KUNGFUPANDA, SEW UGLI a LEG kick to the NUTS.


rondo 11:59 AM  

I got it all on crosses (with Us in black squares) and the RAMPUP thing after the solve. Quite the construction, kinda sucks for the solve. Really wanted cOrriDAS where ROTUNDAS went, glad I held off.

Weezer has been described as alternative rock, power pop, pop rock, pop punk, EMO, indie rock, EMO pop, geek rock, melodic metal, and pop. So let's just call them EMO? As far as EMO goes, almost none of it went anywhere. EMO kids hate themselves too much to be popular.

KRONOR a Swedish gimme. Probably few other folks knowing the location of Malmö?

Angela BASSETT as Tina Turner, yeah baby. OOLALA.

Gotta say Mr. Chen knows his KRAFT.

spacecraft 12:27 PM  

Totally impossible. Who is ever going to get this? The two people on the planet who know what a DANJOU PEAR is?? Ungettable. DNF by a LONG way.

Diana,LIW 3:06 PM  

I don't get it. All the squares are filled in, and I don't get it. I feel dumb.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for answers, think I'll go look

leftcoast 3:10 PM  

@#$%^!! Thanks, Jeff.

Diana,LIW 3:17 PM  

'K, I looked up the explanation from Rex.

I guess this a real feat for a constructor. But for this solver, it kinda reminded me of my feet after a romp at the gym - a little stinky.

Diana, LIW and not that other Lady Di!

leftcoast 3:46 PM  

@rondo -- Yes, that's exactly how Wikipedia describes Weezer.

rainforest 4:17 PM  

I had a lot of trouble with this. I had filled in much of it, but was staring at MACH, IFYO, KUNGF, and DANJO (which I initially thought was the real answer) and was ready to give up when, almost simultaneously crosses gave me ICCHU, and I hit the revealer.
Thus, MACHU PICCHU with the help of the ramp, and KUNGFU PANDA.

I had to spend some time working out DANJOU, remembering ANJOU PEARS, but then it all fell into place. So, ultimately, a very clever theme/revealer, with a pretty damn good puzzle to boot.

Incidentally, the NW was filled in pretty smartly (nice to remember POLLACK), and then I hit the hard parts. So, an easy start, a challenging middle, but a pretty straightforward finish. YES!

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP