Heavy ankle-high shoe / WED 6-5-19 / Three stooges laugh sound / Landon who lost to FDR in 1936 / Arp Duchamp output / Co-owner of Pequod / Title girl in 2001 Oscar-nominated French comedy / 2005 dystopian novel adapted into 2010 film

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Constructor: Rich Proulx

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:05) (though I'm seeing people say it's both very easy and very hard, so who knows?)

THEME: SEVEN WONDERS (49A: Monuments of classical antiquity ... or what literally is missing from this puzzle) — seven answers need "WONDER" before or after them to make (full) sense:

Theme answers:
  • DRUG
  • BRA
  • WOMAN 
  • LAND (32D: Domain of the Queen of Hearts)
Word of the Day: "NEVER LET ME GO" (19A: 2005 dystopian novel adapted into a 2010 film) —
Never Let Me Go is a 2005 dystopian science fiction novel by British author Kazuo Ishiguro. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize (an award Ishiguro had previously won in 1989 for The Remains of the Day), for the 2006 Arthur C. Clarke Award and for the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award. Time magazine named it the best novel of 2005 and included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.[1] It also received an ALA Alex Award in 2006. A film adaptation directed by Mark Romanek was released in 2010; a Japanese television drama aired in 2016. (wikipedia)
• • •

Bizarre theme execution here. The NW is essentially a (half-way decent!) themeless puzzle: lots of white space, splashy marquee answer, Totally Devoid Of Theme. Then you go tripping through the rest of the grid, encountering theme material on the NE-to-SW axis, though probably not even knowing you're encountering some of it, as stuff like BRA and DRUG went in for me without my knowing they were theme material. The "WONDER"s sometimes come before the answer, sometimes after. Maybe you think there's a pattern, but beyond symmetry, there really isn't. Then the revealer comes, and the wording of the clue is weird: they are the "SEVEN WONDERS *Of The Ancient World*" in every formulation I've ever heard. Why not just say "Monuments of the ancient world" in your clue? (clue isn't bad, just odd, for this reason). And there you are. The "Seven" part, by the time you get it to it, is less big revelation and more "oh, is that how many there are? I wasn't really paying attention." There's an added problem if you decide to overthink the theme, which I saw expressed by Evan Birnholz (Washington Post xword writer/editor) on Twitter: if you know that the SEVEN WONDERS have largely disappeared, then you are apt to wonder (!) if there's some theme connection between the actual "wonders" being gone and the word "WONDER" being gone seven times in this grid ... the problem with that idea being that one of the original SEVEN WONDERS still exists (the Great Pyramid of Giza). So ... yeah. Frustrating to see an *almost* next-level theme idea not quite come into focus. Thankfully, I was not thinking as deeply as Evan.

Those giant corners are so weird for a mid-week themed puzzles. I'm not mad, as they are pretty well filled, but the puzzle definitely took a quality dip once I moved from that NW corner into the rest of the grid. Themes are just Hard to do perfectly, and if they're not done perfectly, they mostly just feel like a burden on the fill (resulting in ASYLA and DROITS and KOR AGIN UTE OISE and what not). Giant corners are pretty E-R-S-T heavy, but they came out OK.

DADAART feels painfully redundant (YEW TREES slightly less so). The second half of OVERFILL held me up pretty bad, for some reason. Seemed like those four letters could go anywhere (16A: Exceed the capacity of). I lucked out with PELEG, having seen it just this past weekend at the tournament (I've read "Moby-Dick" and would've gotten it eventually, but it was nice to have PELEG fresh on my mind). SLOW JAM is great. This puzzle feels like a good themeless that got infected by Dutch Theme Disease (that's a play on "Dutch elm disease," not a slur against the Dutch). The NRA remains a terrorist org. that profits from the blood of children (40A: Range org.) and you should keep them the hell out of your grids. Good day.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Lewis 6:46 AM  

    @rex -- Dutch Theme Disease -- Hah!

    Many beautiful answers massaged my sensibilities: ORACLE, SLOW JAM, BROGAN, LEMON DROP, YEW TREES.

    Gullible me never made the connection and I blithely accepted every single theme answer -- "Oh, maybe the Queen of Hearts is in the tarot deck and her domain is land", "Oh, I guess Stevie Wonder is so well known that he regularly just goes by 'Stevie'", and so on.

    When the reveal emerged it was more a "D'oh" than an "Aha!" You got me fair and square, Rich. I loved this!

    Speedweeder 6:57 AM  

    Nice puzzle, my favorite themed puzzle of recent weeks. Was about halfway done when I had the aha moment and figured out how DRUG and BRA were appropriate answers. Had fun going back and looking for all of the missing wonders.

    Hungry Mother 6:58 AM  

    Short and sweet. It will be a ful day.

    Solverinserbia 6:59 AM  

    Thought there might be a rebus or trick of some sort when "one hit wonder" seemed obvious but didn't fit. Got it when I solved STEVIE. But I ended two squares short of golden. DAD_ART _BLARE and BROGA_ AGI_.

    CDilly52 7:20 AM  

    @Lewis, I am right there with you. I finished the puzzle fairly easily and even after I finished SEVEN WONDERS, I went looking for the other ones and could only find WONDER BREAD, and “Alice” has always been a favorite read of mine yet, also lime yiu, I just assumed 32D has something to do with Tarot or some other arcane “something” about which I am unaware. Timed easy for me but seemed more difficult.

    Small Town Blogger 7:21 AM  

    I figured out the theme early on which helped - I ticked off the missing wonders as I filled them in, so I knew how many more I was looking for. This was an easy one for me - no references to GOT!

    Christy 7:37 AM  

    Man, true that about having Peleg in my mind because I haven’t read Moby Dick and so that would have been an all-crosses-needed name for me.

    amyyanni 7:44 AM  

    If themers are so difficult to create, why not have more themeless puzzles of varying degrees of difficulty? (And I am a Kazuo Ishiguro fan. Lovely to see the reference to a riveting novel. )

    QuasiMojo 7:54 AM  

    I scratched my head in WONDER trying to figure out how I had never heard of a recent super hero movie named WOMAN. I also wanted DON'T LET ME IN, thinking it was some slasher movie from a repentant killer's POV. Don Giovanni did a lot more than just "serenade" his victims. Despite a few other hunh? moments (JD POWER?) this struck me as a very solid and clever puzzle.

    GILL I. 8:14 AM  

    I wondered what was going on when STEVIE was missing his WONDER. Then I got the reveal and went scouting for the other WONDERS. This was fun. I love me a scavenger hunt.
    Perfect Wednesday for moi. Nary a head scratcher; just a pause here and there. JD POWERS went in without a flinch - well maybe a little wince. They were very much involved with Mexican and all of our promos. I briefly dated one of their SFO executives. He was an incredibly handsome and witty man until his wife called me and told me he was very married with 3 children. Sigh. I always wondered why I always got attached to the unattainable gays or married ilk. But alls well that ends well...
    Then I get to [WONDER] BRA. I always wondered why women ever wore those torture contraptions. They push you up so much your eyebrows arch. I much rather go the sag and drag route.
    {WONDER} BREAD always brings back memories of my dad. Every single time I see white bread, I smile. He was such a bread snob - then I caught him slathering mayo and thinly sliced onions on what he called disgusting-no one should eat this stuff - white BREAD. It was good!
    SLOW JAM makes me think of Toes. Don't know why.
    Mother TERESA was a WONDER WOMAN....and I love me the NYUK nyuk Stooges. I own a Curly and Moe....
    Can I have me some seconds, Rich?

    mmorgan 8:14 AM  

    I mostly liked this but I also got several themers without realizing they were missing a “wonder” and had trouble finding all seven post-solve. I got really tripped up with OVERFlow at 16A, and with aDPOWER at 39D (which seemed reasonable; never heard of JD). Something about ASYLA seemed strange and wrong (especially as a down answer) but there’s also something lovely about it.

    Clueless 8:19 AM  


    Birchbark 8:22 AM  

    Kan --> KOR, as both host the 38th parallel.

    Out the window, a deer is sort of prancing back and forth, a little confused about what to eat next.

    Runs with Scissors 8:26 AM  

    Fun little puzzle – I think we’re on a roll. I’ve at least liked the last 8 or 9, and fully enjoyed most, and truly admired a few.

    CRONUTS. Croissant donuts? I can’t say I’ve ever been tempted. It’s right up there with the donut burger. But, to each his/her/its own.

    DADA ART. Is it? Eye. Beholder. ‘Nuff said.

    DROITS was fun to see. Too bad it couldn’t be maladroit. I like that one even better. Sounds so…so.

    I just know there will be ructions over the 40A entry. If you’ve ever been on a range then you’ll get it. If you haven’t, you won’t.

    Finally, a “graffitist” clued correctly. They’re not artists. They’re DEFACERS. Vandals.

    We got some radiation hazards with the RADON. Whatever happened to that scare, anyway? Just another hysterical flash in the pan the media could get behind for its 60 seconds of fame???

    And again with the BRA. As a themer, yet. Har.

    Fun diversion. Just chewy enough. Found all SEVEN WONDERS, but the wonder BRA was the last to fall. So to speak.

    Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

    kitshef 8:48 AM  

    Loved it, which rarely happens on a Wednesday. Lots of theme density but also works in some nice non-themers like LEMONDROP, CRONUTS, BROGAN and QUILTED.

    And SLOW JAM and PELEG and FRUGAL.

    Nice sisterly corner in the SW with LADY DI, AMELIE and (WONDER) WOMAN.

    Pete 8:53 AM  

    This puzzle pressed each of my old man-get off my lawn buttons, and pushed them early. First, NEVERLETMEGO. Ishiguro wrote a near perfect novel about the evil of the British Nobility and those who support it. Just because you're the seventeenth consecutive first born male of the luck sperm club doesn't make you other than a sniveling bigoted coward and idiot an if you are a sniveling bigoted coward and an idiot, yet you get away with it if you're the seventeenth consecutive first born male of the lucky sperm club. Worse still are those who live their lives in service to these, those who look up to them, those that enable the whole horror show. This perfect book got read as honoring the quiet dignity of those who serve. The movie, even worse.

    Ishiguro then wrote the a corrective novel, Never Let Me Go, trying to be less subtle. Throughout the book he's virtually shouting - "Hey idiots, you're nothing but spare parts for the upper class. Yes, we let you run around and have fun for a while, but never forget that you will your life in service to us?

    This gets classified as a "dystopian science fiction"? Its 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21th century Britain writ large.

    SLOWJAM also annoys me, as I'm old enough to know JAM musically as one thing, and now it's a completely different, almost opposite, thing. Damn kids and their funky jargon.

    Finally, I consoled myself last evening with the notion we would have an abundance of Stevie Wonder this morning. Nothing in the world makes sense, except that YEW TREES are different that YEW bushes and thus you need the modifier. Also, YEW TREES are iconic symbols in graveyards in England. If only they stood for the death of the nobility, not merely for death.

    Wood 8:54 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Nancy 9:04 AM  

    So I completely "bought" stand-alone BREAD at 8A. I thought ONE HIT was an odd answer to 15D, but I accepted that too. WONDER didn't pop into my head until WONDER DRUG came along at 25D, and now the rest of the puzzle started to make sense. But I'm still trying to guess what the revealer will be. BLACK WONDER? HIDDEN WONDER? WONDER SQUARES? WONDER BOXES? I wondered and wondered.

    "Aha", I said -- but only after the answer filled in. SEVEN WONDERS! Now why didn't I think of that??

    A very enjoyable puzzle that I found harder than most Wednesdays. Made harder by the fact that my "heavy, ankle-high shoe" was a BROGue for a long while. Sort of a cross between a BROGAN and a clog, I suppose.

    Nancy 9:27 AM  

    "They push you up so much your eyebrows arch." You are too, too funny, @GILL!

    And I couldn't agree with you more, btw. I'm waiting for the lingerie company that's prepared to engineer the world's most comfortable bra. It should be called "The Letdown Bra". WOMEN the world over will clamor to wear it. Even the ones who might OVERFILL it.

    pmdm 9:29 AM  

    Clueless: Your comment can refer to the oddness of how the word looks or to your true puzzlement. If the second, the explanation involves Latin. Many singular nouns ending in UM become plural if the UM changes to an A.

    Kendall 9:33 AM  

    I’m glad the rest of you seemed to enjoy this puzzle. For me it could not have been any more the opposite. Half of the clues seemed like proper nouns or abbreviations (or worse, both). I’ve been doing the NYT puzzle for a decade and I can confidently say I’ve never struggled this much on a Wednesday. At one hour of solve time I was 40% finished. For reference my average Wednesday completion time is 17 minutes. I had to double check I hadn’t accidentally clicked a Saturday puzzle. At 90 minutes I finally gave up and went to bed. Tried to finish with my wife this morning and made no extra progress. Gave up again and came to read the blog. There’s just absolutely no way I was ever getting the SW corner. It’s 3 proper nouns crossed with the theme revealer that I never picked up on all mixed in with some foreign language and the words “defacer” (my iPad refuses to even let me type this word) and “ablare.” Enjoyment is always subjective but I just don’t see how Rex didn’t destroy this corner in his write up.

    Moving on to Thursday and pretending this puzzle just never existed.

    Sir Hillary 9:42 AM  

    A Thursday-ish theme on a Wednesday? Sign me up.

    Took me a little while to figure out what was going on. Like others, I put in a couple themers (BREAD, LAND) before sussing the theme and thought okay...I guess. Then I figured it out with DRUG, and it was fun finding the rest. Also enjoyed the many long entries, which reinforced the late-week feel.

    Nicely done.

    Joe 9:44 AM  

    After noticing two answers with WONDER missing, I really expected the revealer to be the phrase "No wonder" to indicate what was going on. Instead, it's an awkward reference to the seven wonders of the ancient world, and there isn't really any connection there.

    @mericans in Paris 9:45 AM  

    Man, did I miss what was going on. I SEE IT now. I guess therefore, by some measures, that means I DNF. In most cases the missing word WONDER wasn't absolutely necessary for the answer, such as DRUG, but I did WONDER at the mere WOMAN at 58A. Very clever.

    Took me 3/4 (that's a ratio, not "3 or 4") of an hour to complete, however. Was at 10 minutes when I hit the half-way mark, but had no idea what was the network at 5A, and wasn't sure whether it was dALES or VALES. I had mistyped a "Y" at the end of 7D, otherwise I would have seen CELT immediately.

    Had to set aside the puzzle for several hours, and then PELEG popped into my head. How weird is that? Also was thinking only of Diana, and so it wasn't until the second look that I could see LADY DI emerge.

    Loved 50D. My brothers and I used to imitate the Three Stooges all the time, especially the NYUK-NYUKs. Drove our Mom bananas.

    Anybody else notice that YEWT and UTE are homonyms?

    Lot's of French today, which helped in critical places: LIEU, DROITS, AMELIE, PIAF, and OISE. Well done, Monsieur Proulx.

    EdTech@mjbha 9:48 AM  

    National Rifle Association = Shooting Range

    Brian 9:58 AM  


    GHarris 10:00 AM  

    Did this one in bed on my iPad just before sleep. Somehow was putting in answers I didn’t know I knew. Was flying through this even before I got the theme which helped me to the finish line. Wow, I feel as though I have reached a new level of crossword solving skill. Hope I don’t prove to be a one hit wonder.

    Anonymous 10:07 AM  

    Haha. Rex thinks a lighthouse and hanging gardens are monuments.
    You may think he's an educated fellow, but he's really not.

    Wonderful puzzle Proulx. Thanks.

    Tuttuttut 10:07 AM  

    They are Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the newer list, which got a lot of press a while back when they updated it. Agree on Dada Art and Yew trees. So glad Rex isn't "mad." That's nice for adults to not get made over a crossword puzzle.

    RooMonster 10:30 AM  

    Hey All !
    Well, puz did its trick if it was to make me WONDER. Had wrongness in the NE corner, with ECO in, my 18A was snoOze, but then I figured out RADON, so knew snooze was wrong, but the having _RE__ for the "Classic White", put in cREst! Figured out 18 had to be NODOFF after getting ONEHIT, and seeing 12D was probably DEF.

    And still hadn't figured out the theme at that point. When i reluctantly wrote in LAND, I reread Revealer clue, already having SEVEN WONDERS in, and saw it was WONDER LAND, scanned over to see WONDER DRUG, then the Aha when I relooked at STEVIE and ONEHIT. Which helped at WOMAN, as I couldn't see a one word 2017 hit.

    Had UAE in already, but when I read 5D clue, stupidly started writing in speLlED. Ugh. My 38th Parallel was also Kan at first, wondering if that was a know fact about Kansas.

    One-letter DNF. :-( The Pequod is not in the ole brain as the boat in Moby Dick, so I had sELEG, as in Bud Selig (I think that's the correct spelling?) thinking it was some sports team I never heard of. Sure, sARENT didn't make sense, but I was pretty sure the S was right, my hold-up being the R of DROITS, and having sA_ENT, just couldn't figure out PARENT.

    So an OVERFILLed post about solve. Liked A BLARE and A TONCE. A Har. :-)


    David 10:37 AM  

    @Pete, love your rant.

    I'm an artist of the musical variety married to a visual artist who's also a writer. We've both been enmeshed in the study and history of our disciplines for decades.

    Fun thing one learns: we may not like some art, we may loath some art, we may not understand the context of some art; but that doesn't make it "not art". Those guys referenced were Dadaists from the Dada School. "Dada Art"? Not so much. "Yew trees"? Indeed.

    As usual, when I got to the reveal I just kind of shrugged and thought, "okay". I still think it's not nice to have no editorial policy on plurals. It gives constructors a too easy way out. Make a choice, Will.

    I learned "tare" today. Nice. Things I see way to often in NYT puzzles: iced in, ice in, bra, nra, ute, otoe, pta. Please find some new words and concepts.

    Overall a nice puzzle for me even without the knowledge of missing wonders, though it did answer 58A for me. When I was a kid she was my favorite, and that was a wonderful movie.

    RooMonster 10:39 AM  

    @Anoa Bob
    How about that SASSES? A POC that's an "enabler" POC! It supports four other POCs! Wow. You might call it a DEFACER.

    And, easy fix to get rid of (snarling, nasty, despicable, why-do-they-exist) NRA (don't @ me, just trying to Rex-sympathize) :


    jberg 10:43 AM  

    I considered BRA, but didn't put it in because I couldn't understand what it would mean for Hanes to own a bra; make, yes, so I supposed they own millions of them, but you wouldn't put it that way. Then I looked at 32D, saw that wonderLAND wouldn't fit, so decided that the Queen of Hearts might have Love as a domain. Got STEVIE, but was content to let it stand by itself. But finally saw WOMAN, and realized it might work with an implied WONDER, took my first look at 9A and saw that BREAD worked similarly, and I was off and running. I still needed the revealer to know that I had to look for seven of the things. This is just the kind of solving experience I love.

    DADA ART isn't redundant, it's contradictory -- DADA was mean as an attack on art, wasn't it? They got the name because they would rush into artistic events shouting DA DA DA DA! But the art world is very good at appropriating anything that opposes it.

    I love Ishiguro, but I couldn't finish NEVER LET ME GO; it was just too depressing, although brilliantly written.

    @Pete, I basically agree with you, but the aristocracy hasn't been running things for a long time. First they were hammered with death duties (the cute English name for the estate tax), and now they can't even hunt foxes.

    Wood 10:53 AM  

    Not in common usage... But -a is the plural suffix for 3rd declension nouns (ending in -um in the nominative singular) derived from Latin. Like media, quanta or atria.

    Jyqm 11:15 AM  

    Hip-hop, r&b and reggae songs have been referred to as “jams” for over 40 years...

    Hartley70 11:21 AM  

    I found this a bit mystifying as I solved because the clueing seemed off and then full of surprise when I got the reveal. LAND was the answer that showed me something was up when Love wouldn’t work. I rarely enjoy a Wednesday puzzle as much as I did today, despite the 3am start.

    Katzzz 11:25 AM  

    Best use (maybe only use) of brogan in a song:


    Z 11:27 AM  

    Exactly what @jberg said about BRA. I think what might be making this especially hard for people to suss out is the themer placement. Typically we’d expect NEVER LET ME GO to be a themer because of its placement. The first one I ran into was (WONDER)LAND, and there’s no reason to expect that to be a themer. I got all the way down to (WONDER)WOMAN before I realized anything was going on.

    I thought this was a fine Wednesday with a nice little twist on expectations. Packing the themers on the NE-SW diagonal does strain the fill, but it didn’t bother me too much.

    At least a half dozen NRA only comments. They add nothing to the discussion.

    Carola 11:30 AM  

    Clever and fun to solve. I was happy to accept BREAD, DRUG, and ONE-HIT with a shrug and an "Okay, I guess," but I balked at a WONDER-less BRA. Still, I couldn't see how to make a rebus work. It took the reveal to switch on the light bulb (so nicely crossed with I SEE IT), What I didn't see, though, was the symmetrical placement of the WONDERS; now I like the puzzle even more.

    @Nancy, while my initial inclination was to write in BROGAN, I had a "Wait, is that actually a word?" moment and thought, "No, you're being influenced by the neighboring RADON + Pierce Brosnan," so I wrote in BROGue.

    jb129 11:30 AM  

    I loved this puzzle! Kept me going much longer than most Wednesdays. Got my "aha" moment several times (lucky me- go figure...)

    A very enjoyable time - thank you Mr. Proulx (do you know a gentleman I worked with in advertising, first name, "Roger?"

    JC66 11:32 AM  


    Nor does @Rex's NRA comment add anything to his review.

    pabloinnh 11:36 AM  

    I'm with the late-to-notice-the-theme crowd, and also had fun trying to nail down the seven wonders. My only complaint is ABLARE. Every time I see a clue involving trumpets and noise I think, oh please please please, don't be ABLARE, and it always is. I know it's just good old crossword ease but it always strikes me as a made up word.

    Thanks for a swell Wed., M. Proulx. I like Annie's books too.

    Also, cronuts are delicious. Wish I had one right now.

    Andrew B 11:58 AM  

    Struggled with this one quite a bit. The theme didn't click for me until 'WOMAN' thought 35A did send my lawyer brain spinning on how Haynes was possibly able to own the trademark on the word 'BRA'. Anyway, found enough crosses to suss out 'SEVENWONDERS' and from there most of the themers fell into place quickly.

    Seven Rexes for me this morning. Maybe the theme filtered into my brain subconsciously somehow ;)

    Masked and Anonymous 12:33 PM  

    A theme mcguffin that really makes one wonder … very nice. It's just too bad that there ain't a cool wonder-phrase to splatz into the puzgrid, where NEVERLETMEGO resides. 'Twould keep the theme symmetry going, all the way to the rodeo. Longest themer I could think of, with ALICE IN (missing) LAND already sorta used up, was REX THE (missing) DOG, from my old comic books.

    Darn solid fillins. fave longballs, one for each length: CAVERN. SLOWJAM. YEWTREES. LEMONDROP. NEVERLETMEGO.
    staff weeject pick: BRA. Honored runt word -- got to be an official themer. Primo weeject stacks in the NE & SW, btw.

    ABLARE. har

    Slightly feisty WedPuz at our house, probably due to the sneaky theme and the wider-open-than-snot NW & SE grid corners. Fun stuff.

    Thanx, Mr. Proulx. wondroUs.

    Masked & Anonymo4Us


    Anonymous 12:34 PM  

    Interesting but super-hard for a Wednesday.
    Were those who found it easy younger than me? (53)
    Of course, most are...

    Re: Asyla - yeah, wtf.

    A few on the edge, though that made it interesting for sure.

    jae 12:50 PM  

    Medium-tough. Gotta like a tricky Wed., especially if it has STEVIE Wonder as a theme answer.

    Teedmn 1:11 PM  

    A WONDER-ful puzzle today. _RA at 35A as a Hanes product had me scratching my head - surely they couldn't own the rights to all such lingerie products - moving up to the NE gave me WONDER BREAD which gave me WONDER BRA.

    This eureka (which is what I wanted in at 43D for a while when my fundraising groups were PacS) moment did not really ease the rest of my solve - at the end, I only had 5 of the 7 and had to hunt down WONDER LAND and WONDER DRUG.

    I've been reading about CRONUTS for a while but have never run into them in the wild. I might ask someone for a bite of one, just to satisfy my curiosity, but I can't imagine wanting one. All the butter of a croissant and then deep fried? Eww.

    Nice job, Rich Proulx.

    puzzlehoarder 1:18 PM  

    A Thursday puzzle on Wednesday was a pleasant surprise. Before I hit the revealer I'd noticed a number of answers which seemed vaguely correct but didn't quite hit the mark. After the revealer all became clear. Nice aha moment.

    Anonymous 1:25 PM  

    Well. The clue didn't include 'of the ancient world', so it had to be a bad clue. But, of course, there've been any number of 'Seven Wonders of the Modern World', too. And, of course, the clue is literally (which it tells us) true; WONDER is 'missing' from those seven answers. A kvetch too far.

    Anonymous 1:33 PM  

    I love your puzzle assessments, but could really do without any of your political commentary. Everyone has an opinion and you knapsack what they say about that, can't we enjoy your puzzle expertise without your opinion being foisted upon us?

    Janet 1:58 PM  

    It took me a while to figure out the SEVEN themed answers. I had ton check this blog to see which ones I had overlooked. Why weren’t they marked * as usual?

    Joe Dipinto 2:04 PM  

    I'm eternally grateful to this puzzle for reminding me that I was the proud possessor of a Quick Draw McGraw lunchbox as a youngster.

    I liked it, in general. Though it does seem like there should be a theme-related answer where NEVER LET ME GO was plunked. (ANCIENT WORLD has the same letter count.)

    Things to wonder about:

    Is "chanted Apr" what you see when you arrive late for the film "Enchanted April" and have to leave before it's over?

    When you don't feel like tipping your hat, is it a no-doff occasion?

    Did the Frugal Gourmet overfill himself on cronuts?

    Anonymous 2:21 PM  

    Joe Dipinto!!!!!!!!!!!! Naughty boy. And who actually saw The Fruge??

    Pete 2:22 PM  

    @jberg - I'll agree with you once the House of Lords is disbanded. 100 hereditary nobility, a couple of dozen clerics, and an unspecified number of anointed few, appointed for life, sit in judgement of the elected hoi polloi, polishing & possibly rejecting their best efforts. Anyway, my point was primarily that almost everyone I met who read the book or saw the movie came away from it with how noble the main protagonist was in his service, not that it was an obscene waste of a life. The whole book was an elaborate setup about how a life can be wasted in service of false gods.

    Just after the movie came out, and everyone started yammering about how honorable and devoted the Anthony Hopkins character was, Ishiguro sat down to write a book where the point was that was a class of people were just spare parts. When someone important needs a kidney, they'll get one of yours, when they need a liver, they'll get part of yours. When someone needs a heart or your other liver, they'll get that, and you're dead. They'll literally suck the life out of you. It was as if he felt that no one got the first book, that they'll figuratively suck the life out of you, he made it literal.

    Whitey 2:25 PM  


    big oof on this puzzle. Big. Oooooof. Very little fun and lots of meh. Count me in the difficult and did not like group

    Anonymous 2:51 PM  


    No need to leave these shores or even this decade to find a superb book on a class of people who are essentially treated as spare parts. Check out Dignity by Chris Arnade. Just out this week. It's superb.

    Joe Dipinto 3:08 PM  

    @Pete 2:22 -- I saw the movie of "Remains Of The Day" when it first came out, and no one I knew thought it made the Anthony Hopkins character look noble. On the contrary, he seemed so willfully clueless as to be ultimately contemptible. The film didn't make that point with a sledgehammer, but it didn't need to -- the subtext was clear, imo. Anyone who didn't take that away from it, well ... maybe they should see it again.

    Anoa Bob 3:11 PM  

    We were issued BROGANs in basic training, called boot camp in the Navy. I guess that was appropriate, seeing as how they were boots of a sort. Simply made with rubber soles and leather uppers that came up to the ankles, they were some of the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. We had to march in formation everywhere we went every day and, with heavy use like that, the leather quickly formed to the shape of my feet and they felt like the finest custom-fitted shoes. Still remember the sound of eighty BROGANs hitting the pavement in unison as we marched along on a gorgeous summer day under the pure blue San Diego sky.

    Yeah @Roo, definitely noticed that very handy SASSES in the bottom right-hand corner. The mother of all POC enablers that is itself a Plural of Convenience would be ASSESSES. xwordinfo.com tells me it has appeared in an NYT puzzle 8 times in the Shortz Era. Six of those times it was in a bottom row where it could maximize its gratuitous grid fill power.

    Further snooping at xwordinfo has uncovered a tie with the five-S ASSESSES' for POC supremacy. There has been a single instance of an SSSSS (that's also five Ss) during the Shortz Era. It was clued as the sound of a tire going flat. Top that.

    Vanda 3:27 PM  

    @Anonymous 2:51 -- Thanks for posting. I've used a different metaphor, but I've felt like nothing more than a bit of fuel for the rich, ever since the Great Recession did terrible things to millions of us (the greedy played with "financial products" for their own gain; the resulting chaos flicked many of us off the survival ladder for good, while the greedy suffered not at all). And, others have had it worse than I have -- at least I had some opportunities from birth though early middle-age.

    At some point, I'll read that book -- not yet, but at some point. Thanks.

    Anonymous 3:44 PM  

    Joe Dipinto,
    Noone with a bit of sense saw it any other way than you and friends. Hell, Stevens is so ashamed of himself, Lord Darlington and the rest of them that he disavows any association with it all. It's in the book and the movie--the pub scene.

    Unknown 3:56 PM  

    very nice structure....bad execution

    Runs with Scissors 4:05 PM  

    @Anoa Bob 3:11 pm

    Thanks for the flashback - I haven't about my boondockers in forever. Agreed that when broken in they were great. Flight deck boots were even better. Wore 'em out ages ago.

    Jason 4:30 PM  

    Japan decided NOT to invade the mainland of the US in WWII because there would be "a rifle behind every blade of grass".

    The 2nd Amendment is the primary reason that tanks and troops DON'T march through OUR cities in times of war.

    The NRA promotes safe, responsible gun ownership as an integral part of our NATIONAL SECURITY.......NOT terrorism. And they're also a non-profit organization. Your stupidity is showing.

    iamjess 4:30 PM  

    @Kendall ME TOO. My sentiments exactly.

    Anonymous 4:50 PM  

    I'm not bothered by NRA as an answer. I wouldn't even be bothered by Nazi.

    But couldn't they, every now and then, provide a clue related to the National Recovery Act? Its passage and declaration as unconstitutional are an important piece of American history.

    Anonymous 6:01 PM  

    The 2nd Amendment is the primary reason that tanks and troops DON'T march through OUR cities in times of war.

    The Allies won the war because the USofA had more iron ore and coal and oil than the rest of the combatants combined. It was our ability to produce all manner of materiel, not a gun behind every blade of grass. Both the Germans and Japanese soldiers exhibited far greater unit cohesion under attack. Yes, the good guys won. No, it wasn't because of Minutemen.

    Puzzled 7:21 PM  


    I'm sure the thousands of miles of ocean had nothing to do with Japan's not trying to attack the west coast. Jeesh! You gun nuts and your delusions!

    Anonymous 7:55 PM  

    Scottish sword dancing is very traditional.

    Yam Erez 8:23 AM  

    Anonymous, what's up with "materiel"? Been seeing it a lot lately.

    shashinyc 12:07 PM  

    I'm bored by constructors' overuse of multiword phrase answers (AT ONCE, I SEE IT, NOD OFF,ICED IN, IT AN, etc.) that are neither clever, surprising, or delightful. They feel lazy and careless. Yes, I'm in a particularly cranky mood, but I also felt equating graffitist with DEFACER was judgmental -- you could even say racist. OK, I will now take my chill pill.

    Burma Shave 10:16 AM  


    with a LADY fast as Quick Draw MCGRAW –
    all ATONCE a SLOWJAM’s a sin


    spacecraft 10:26 AM  

    Wow: the syndilink is only one day off now--will WONDERS never cease? Dare I hope they'll get the Sundays straightened out?

    Had a bit of trouble getting started, so I went south--to encounter an interesting revealer clue. So I tried to get as many downs as possible. A big holdup was mis-attributing the blind quote to Milton (which fits, diabolically). Eventually I had enough to get SEVENWONDERS, and of course STEVIE crossing. Eyes open, I polished off the rest pretty quickly.

    Hand up for OVERFlow before OVERFILL, a much more common expression. Other stuff you never hear includes ABLARE and OWETO. You may consider ITAN honor; I consider ITAN awkward partial. There was a Klingon commander named KOR, I think; if we must have KOR, why not him? Although, he was probably a member of the NRA.

    That's all my fill woes; not horrible as themed puzzles go, and there's a lot of good stuff as well. I went old school (surprise, surprise!) for DOD Lynda Carter as the quintessential WONDER WMAN. Give this a par.

    rainforest 2:06 PM  

    Nice, different, subtle and well-crafted Wednesday puzzle. Parts were easy and other parts quite difficult for me. I wasn't even thinking about a theme until I entered STEVIE, and WONDERed, "where's WONDER?". Then I got DRUG and the penny dropped, or maybe the shoe, or possibly the BROGAN.

    Once I got SEVEN WONDERS and read the entire clue which I had previously overlooked, I knew there were 5 more of them. Got 'em all.

    Nice shout out to our LADY DI down there in the SW. Way to go.
    Liked it a lot.

    Unknown 3:43 PM  

    extremely hard for this 84 year old.

    Diana,LIW 3:46 PM  

    Well this LADYDI emailed OFL the other day, and now I find SyndieCatLand w/o any problems - just hit the handy dandy button. @Spacey - you must have been here very early - 10:26 on EST (which is the default time here).

    Only one problem - couldn't think of Korea - wanted some larger phenom - like the equator. But, after a walk about the neighborhood, I immediately put in the K. (The Stooges laugh could end with many letters - K, R, G, H, you get the pic.

    Double AAs crossing in the middle - was this meant to be a misdirect? Made me question an answer or two for a moment.

    Gotta WONDER what's up for tomorrow?

    Diana, the Lady, and Lady-in-Waiting

    leftcoast 3:54 PM  

    Neat and clean SEVEN WONDERS symetrically placed.

    NEVER LET ME GO helped, and was helped by, crosses in the extended NW.

    Lots to like. Nice work by Rich Proulx.

    rondo 5:26 PM  

    I was thinking of a miracle (DRUG) and WONDER (BREAD) combo for a while, with maybe a marvel (comic) and a spectacle (eyeglasses) to boot, but no. Of course they all became WONDERS.

    The people’s princes and our very own LADYDI (she’s been crowned, and I’ve seen her crown) get the yeah baby today.

    OK puz.

    Anonymous 8:34 AM  

    I liked the theme and got it early, but as Z and others mentioned, it felt weird to have all the long clues be non-thematic.

    Wikipedia's unsourced opinion notwithstanding, NEVER LET ME GO isn't a dystopian novel. The novel focuses on the one facet of that alternative society that's different from ours, and it poses an ethical dilemma that's meant to be unsettling, but to say that the entire society or novel is therefore dystopian is absurd. Is our real-world society dystopian because of poor labor conditions at Amazon, which affects far more people than the small number of donors in the novel? Of course not. That just means society is flawed and has room to improve, not that it's dystopian. Mentioning a movie as part of that clue also felt misleading; everyone knows the novel, but the small-budget film (budget and U.S. gross each around $10M) was a non-event, whereas the clue led me to expect sonething like The Maze Runner because 1) it's dystopian and 2) the notability of the movie was comparable to the notability of the novel.

    It took a long time for me to stop dismissing UTE as an answer. I know that's not a term for a person from Utah, so only later did I realize the clue "Beehive State native" was trying to say "one of the particular Native American tribes in the area that later became the Beehive State," but the clue still seems to suffer from a generality-specificity mismatch.

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