Thursday, July 11, 2019

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Semordnilaps — The themed clues are given backward, and split across two words (mostly). The theme answers are also entered backward.

Theme answers:
  • DEZIMOTSUC (Customized) - 17A: Red root (To order) 
  • STNEDUTS (Students) - 26A: Slip up (Pupils)
  • DEGNEVA (Avenged) - 38A: Diaper (Repaid)
  • GNITSIXE (Existing) - 51A: Went on (Not new)
  • RETEPTNIAS (Saint Peter) - 63A: Name tag (Gate man)

Word of the Day: Omni (67D: Old Dodge —
The Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon were subcompact cars produced by Chrysler from December 1977 to 1990.[2] The Omni and Horizon were reengineered variants of the European Chrysler Horizon, and were the first of many front-wheel drive Chrysler products to follow, including the Dodge Aries/Plymouth Reliant and the Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager/Chrysler Town and Country. (wikipedia) 

• • •
Well hi-diddly-ho crossword solverinos. I'm Jake, covering for Rex while he continues his crossword sabbatical (Rumor has it he's touring all the great Will Shortz-related landmarks across the US of A). While he does that and listens to the Eagles, I'm here, listening to my current favorite band and ranting about a Thursday crossword.

(This is irrelevant to the crossword, but if you aren't listening to Lake Street Dive, you should change that.)

Usually I hate Thursday puzzles. I was actually excited when Rex said I could fill in for a Thursday puzzle because I figured I could easily get a few hundred words down quickly, full of complaints and blog-friendly expletives. Starting this puzzle, I actually found myself enjoying it? What? As this odd feeling of a fun Thursday puzzle washed over me, I hit the first themer and immediately remembered why Thursday puzzles bother me so much. But like a medieval soldier with a POLEAX or a competitive eater stuffing MEAT down my gullet, I did my duty and kept on going. 

I actually enjoyed the fill on this one. I like the clue on SEE ME (20A: Note below F, perhaps?) While I was a great student in school, on the rare occasion I got one of those notes, I usually ignored it. I'd like to take a moment and apologize to my ninth grade English teacher, sorry that I never handed in that essay Ms. Dalton, but look at me now, I'm a guest blogger, that's worth an essay or two!

I also really like the answers WHEN IN ROME and CHATTERBOX, as well as the clue for WHO (32D: "Am I supposed to know this person?") That clue just felt sassy, and who doesn't love a bit of sass? (Not my ninth grade English teacher.) 

As for the theme, I knew as soon as I saw the clues that something was up. Usually my go-to is to reverse the clue and see if it spells anything. However, the use of two word clues threw me off and I sat there twiddling my thumbs for a few moments before realizing the clues were over two words. Then once I got that, it took me another moment before realizing I'd have to type the answers in reverse. Let me just take a moment to say how annoying it is to type in reverse. It doesn't make solving more difficult, only more tedious. If someone creates a crossword solving software that has a reverse typing option, you'll forever be my best friend.

Overall I give this puzzle a solid 7/10. There was nothing too challenges, the fill was fun. It wasn't bogged down with a ton of crosswordese, and it used the word ASSES, and I have the sense of humor of a child, so that's still funny to me.

Well, that's all I got folks. Thanks to Rex for letting me guest blog today. Hopefully I get to do it again. I leave you all with one more song, because that's what I'm listening to right now.

(An ode to whatever Rex is drinking right now, and another plug for one of my favorite bands.)

Signed, Jake Goldstein, Man who walked into CrossWorld accidentally wearing an outfit similar to the employee uniform and who is now blogging like he works here.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook


Runs with Scissors 12:52 AM  

Mostly fun, but a bit of a slog in places. Sometimes the conceit is a bit too conceited. Maybe that's on me.

I enjoyed the solve process. Once I saw one of the backward answers, and looked at the clue the same way, it fell. Getting there was not easy. But that's okay, because easy is not my objective.

Gotta love the Mafia-style OFFS. It evokes a CORNUCOPIA of bad TV which will POLEAX you.

When I first saw GNITSIXE, I thought maybe a new language had been invented.

WHEN IN ROME, RETEPTNIAS is at the basilica.

Okay, can't come up with much else. On to Friday.

Mark, in Mickey's North 40

jae 1:03 AM  

Easy except for needing to figure out the “theme”...which took a while. This was a tad more work than fun, but still a solid Thurs., liked it....or pretty much what Jake said minus the stuff about Lake Street Dive.

Harryp 1:39 AM  

I got this done not knowing the emordnilap aspect of the theme. Even when I found that out, it was to boring to break out all of them. Slightly Challenging Thursday, but not that much.

Larry Gilstrap 1:57 AM  

The themers are backwards gambit sees its yearly light of day.
Well, it is Thursday after all and summer has finally arrived here in the low desert. I have a gift for recognizing patterns of letters moving left to right, so this left me feeling a bit inept. More than a monkey wrench in my solving machinery.

I'll claim a Natick at the BBC/BCCS cross. Sure, the World Service clue seemed automatic, but I still have an AOL account and am languishing in email Mayberry RFD, truthfully. For me opening email is punishment and a really lousy way to contact me. Obviously, I feel the same about actually sending a message and CCs are found in a clinic. Every time I visit Canada, I'm impressed and I'm certain CBC is a terrific news source.

Years ago I read a review characterizing an over-zealous actor as one who was "out HERODing HEROD." How would you like to claim Massacre of the Innocents on your C.V.? Villains and tyrants get trotted out as fill from time to time, so I can cope.

Lewis 6:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:25 AM  

If the theme answers didn't have to have symmetrical pairs, LOOT could have been clued, in italics, "Revel" or "Was".

Conrad 6:30 AM  

DNF here because I had EDamMOTSUC (custom made) instead of EDZIMOTSUC (customized) and insisted that had to be right. It didn't, and it wasn't.

@Larry Gilstrap, is it possible that the review wasn't referring to HEROD the actual Judean king but rather to the part of Herod in "Jesus Christ Superstar"? Actors have been known to ham up his song quite a bit.

BarbieBarbie 6:40 AM  

Very clever, fun to solve, great fill. I was having fun with this puzzle even before figuring out the theme. “Note below F” har!

amyyanni 7:06 AM  

Just can't love Thursday puzzles, but when in Rome.....this was ok. At least the downs were amusing.

QuasiMojo 7:26 AM  

Aside from "When in Rome" which seemed to me a misunderstanding of its meaning (it refers more to opening oneself up to a new experience, not just going along with others) I thought this was a solid, slightly difficult and amusing puzzle. I knew something was backwards but it was too early this morning to make out what it was. I still managed to fill it all in without groaning or crying out CRAP. Although I did whimper when I put in OPEL before OMNI (a car I've never heard of.) Nice job Alex. And props to Jake for subbing well.

kitshef 7:29 AM  

I liked it. A good head-scratching experience until the theme clicked. Funny how things that might have bothered me on another day (BCCS crossing BBC, PEG crossing MPEG) were added bonuses today. WHO WHAT and WHEN all crammed into the west, I would have enjoyed on any day.

Biggest issues today were self-inflicted: taG before PEG, SOothE before SOLACE, DReck before DROSS, and ball CAP/knit CAP before SWIM CAP.

I do prefer a CAB with my MEAT, but I would never, ever call it a CAB, so I suppose I’m not a connoisseur. But I suppose connoisseurs don’t buy two buck Chuck, either.

OffTheGrid 7:48 AM  

This was the most pleasing puzzle in a long time. It was soon apparent that the themes were nonsense as entered. It was one step at a time, getting the downs to get the letters in the themes. The first awakening was somehow seeing SAINTPETER. Ah, theme answers are backwards. That helped complete a couple of others. Still not done. Kept studying the situation and saw that clues are also backward. I enjoyed this more than probably any Thursday puzzle. Great fun to figure it out. And I appreciated that there was no revealer.

Nampa 7:56 AM  

Nice Thursday puzzle.

GHarris 8:07 AM  

Loved it. Got the theme midway and that opened it up. Guess that’s why I loved it.

Suzie Q 8:45 AM  

Not so much fun today. The four long down answers were cool but I prefer word play over word search.

Nancy 8:48 AM  

Wow -- was the trick well disguised or what??!! I finished the whole puzzle -- not with ease, mind you -- dutifully writing the italicized clue answers backwards, since that was the only way it seemed they could go. I used letter pattern recognition to complete all of them, since I had no idea whatsoever why this was happening. But when I had DEZIM-------, I knew that answer would go backwards and I did the same elsewhere.

Before coming here to find out what the bleep was going on, I decided to look at all the theme clues more carefully. And then I saw it -- I think at "went on" first (51A) and then confirmed by "name tag" (63A). The backward clues were so, so, so hard to see -- at least for me. The disguise was brilliant. The execution was genius. A superb puzzle! Kudos, Alex!

Gretchen 8:53 AM  

No fun. Tried too hard to be clever. First time in years I had to look up the solution. I hope tomorrow's puzzle is more fun.

Nancy 8:56 AM  

Nice letter today, @GHarris. I agree wholeheartedly, as of course you knew I would. But the orange object of your letter won't get away with it. Roberts will stop him. And a Roberts who feels dissed and ignored may want to stymie him in other situations as well. Fingers crossed.

Outside The Box 8:59 AM  

JPEG AND PEG crossing each other? C’mon.

Outside The Box 8:59 AM  

Correction : MPEG and PEG

Z 9:01 AM  

Huh, not even in my top 5 Lake Street Dive songs. But they are definitely worth a listen.

Slow on the uptake. Having the clues be the actual Semordnilaps while the answers as written are just gibberish is, uh, interesting. I guess having the Semordnilaps in the grid clued normally would not be challenging enough. Otherwise, pretty good puzzle, though a little dark. Murder at 1A. A single THORN from Jesus’crown of THORNs. HEROD, the MaoChe/Idi of the New Testament. ASSES AVENGED WITH a POLE AX. Like I said, a wee bit dark.

Whatsername 9:11 AM  

Oh my! What have we here? A critique filled with knowledge and insight with a nice bit of of humor mixed in. That’s what I’d call a very entertaining blog. Thank you for sharing your time with us, Jake. Hoping to see you back soon and often.

This is the kind of Thursday that I hope for every week. Tricky but doable. I finished with a big smile and never squinted once. I imagine this one was fun for the constructor as well. Thanks Alex! Picked up on the reverse theme concept right away and relished the challenge of figuring out the rest. Thought the clues for BCCS, SAINTPETER, TESTS and PEG were especially clever. Tried SKIMASK in 4D and had WHIP in 32A so could not see HUMANITIES which muddled up the SW for a bit. Loved the subtle use of WHO/WHAT/WHEN there and liked INTOTO and POLEAX together, two entries that just seem appealing and great cross fill.

Today was definitely a win-win IMHO. Best writeup in a long time and best Thursday puzzle I’ve seen in a while. Again, I extend my compliments and gratitude to both creator and reviewer.

Carola 9:16 AM  

The theme popped into view fairly early when (backwards) pattern recognition showed me STUDENTS, which then unlocked the clue. Favorite: SAINT PETER as the gateman. @Runs with Scissors, thanks for pointing out the ROME connection.
Me, too, for having to correct CUSTOMmade.

benjaminthomas 9:20 AM  

@Quasimojo - All due respect, but I think you are mistaken.

"The phrase 'When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do' refers to the importance of adapting yourself to the customs of the people who are in a certain place or situation and behave like they do."

I think this is much more about going along then it is about opening yourself up to new experiences.

QuasiMojo 9:41 AM  

@benjaminthomas, well, isn't that the point? It's about someone new to Rome who may not have tried Grappa before but does so because that is the custom. The clue as written makes it sound like someone at a party who says "I'll have a beer too because all of you are drinking beer." Not exactly the point of the phrase.

Lewis 9:43 AM  

I don't know if it was intended, but that [-] clue for DAH was a terrific misdirect for me. I was thinking that the dash was part of the theme and that the theme answers maybe turned 90 degrees or made a skip. If it was intended, it was devilish and a stroke of genius; if not, at least in my case, it made this puzzle even trickier.

GILL I. 9:48 AM  

Well...the first thing out of my mouth is to say how much I've enjoyed the guest bloggers. I'm exhausted. I've had a ton of family here for the last two weeks wanting all of my fine food and drink and I know no one here gives a flying fig about my whines. Even so...I finally had some time to go back and read the write-ups. They were fun and today Jake made me laugh. Is it too early to have a drink?
I don't do backwards well. I did figure out that this was going to be the soup du jour. click on the neurons and see what you can do. I did. Gave me a smile. Loved the SAINT PETER clue. And just to make you groan and hope I go away again, I'm giving you a joke....(Hi @Quasi).

St Peter asks the Blondes about Easter:

Three blondes die and go to ST PETER. He says, " I have one question, and if you get it right, I will let you into Heaven."

He asks the first blonde,
"What is Easter?

She answers. "That's the time of the year when our whole family gets together and we eat turkey."

SAINT PETER says to the ext blonde. "What is Easter?"

She answers: "That's the time of year when the fat jolly guy comes down the chimney and our family gets together to open presents."

ST PETER asks the third blonde, "What is Easter?

She says, "That's when Christ died and they put him in a tomb behind a rock."

"That's right!" exclaims ST PETER.

"Then, once a year, " continues the third blonde, "we roll the stone away and he comes out, and if he sees his shadow, we have six more weeks of winter."

Aren't you glad I'm back?

Crimson Devil 9:51 AM  

Tough Thurs. Double reverse flummoxed this dense solver for long time.
Quite a construct, and review. Kudos all round.

C'mon Jake 9:56 AM  

terrible review, terrible puzzle.

Bob V 10:00 AM  

Your blog was a good fill in for Rex but your taste in music leaves a lot to be desired. The band was good not great but to each his own.

Dorrance Smith 10:06 AM  

Craps is crap..and great for all Don’t players

pabloinnh 10:32 AM  

Can't believe I got all the way to SAINTPETER backwards before the light dawned, but after that I went back and filled in all those other themed clues in a hurry, and then I felt smart, which is what a good Thursday puzzle should do, and this one did exceptionally well, so a great puzzle.

"It out Herods Herod" is from Hamlet, and that makes me feel even smarter, so enough for today. Dying from smugness is rumored to be terrible.

Thanks for the Thursday fun, guys. I'm off to probably do something dumb.

GHarris 10:37 AM  

@Nancy From your mouth (pen, pencil, keyboard) to God’s (CJ Roberts’) ear. As the saying sorta goes.

David 10:46 AM  

Bohemian and hippie are not synonyms. Other than that, and the theme, I liked this puzzle.

The theme killed me until I peeked at the blog. So finished by cheating.

Dodge Omnis and Chrysler Horizons were made in Ontario with parts sourced from Germany while Lee Iaccoca was riding a wave of popularity with his catchphrase, "Be American, Buy American". That bit of theater makes Americans confused to this day about international trade, American manufacturing, and when outsourcing started (fact: long ago enough for the Kennedy administration to try and do something about it).

Loved the long downs and not much junk in the short fill.

@kitshef, In my experience only wine salespeople call it "Cab".

jberg 10:50 AM  

It took me some time to understand the theme, but then I enjoyed it. Actually, I noticed first that the answers had to be written backward -- it took maybe another minute to notice that the clues had to be read the same way. The first one I got was 51A, and I thought maybe it was a phrase completion clue: went on EXISTING.

I wish Gal GADOT would release some more movies in the US, though, so we wouldn't have to get the same clue every time.

@larry et al., it's from Hamlet:

Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to
you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it,
as many of your players do, I had as lief the
town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air
too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently;
for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,
the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget
a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it
offends me to the soul to hear a robustious
periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to
very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who
for the most part are capable of nothing but
inexplicable dumbshows and noise: I would have such
a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it
out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it.

It's about bad acting -- that's why that critic was using it. Or were you sending us up?

@Jake, nice write up. I hadn't noticed ASSES, but I did see CRAP. Don't know what's happening to the Times.

Joe Dipinto 10:57 AM  

♪ Boy: I've some traits, I warn you, to which you'll have objections
Girl: I, too, have a cornu-copia of imperfections

Took till it was over to figure out what the heck was going on here. It was fun along the way though. Lots of snazzy long answers.

"I'll have the reteptnias with dezimotsuc glaze, and a glass of degneva."
"Oh crap, sir, we're out of reteptnias. May I recommend the sautéed Gnit Sixe?"

For the Xanadu resident I wanted Olivia Newton-John but she just wouldn't cooperate.

"Honey, did you pack the asses?"
"I thought we were taking the ox team."
"Mmm, let's not this time."

Anyway, enough chatterboxing. It was a worthy Thursday thingie.

Disregard the signs and the omens,
When in Rome I do as the Romans do

Z 11:19 AM  

@benjaminthonas and @quasimojo - Yeah yeah, but if all your friends jump off an aqueduct are you going to jump, too? I’ve heard it both ways, i,e, as in opening up to new experiences and as succumbing to peer pressure.

@Lewis - We’ve definitely seen “-“ as shorthand for “this is part of an answer clued elsewhere,” so it misdirected me for awhile, too.

@David - Sure, but the clue says that BOHO chic is influenced by hippie style, which is correct.

@jberg and @pablonh - Thanks for the reference. Now I want to use “periwig pated fellow” at least once this week. My guess I’ll find occasion given his orangeness’ propensity for malignant malapropism.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

I kept waiting and waiting for 51D.

Nancy 11:30 AM  

There are times, @Joe Dipinto, when you are just too much. This is one of those times. Your comment today (10:57) is great from pot to mottob!

Anonymous 11:31 AM  


Nice to see someone who appears to know that it isn't the Chinese or Mexicans or Canadians 'stealing' American jobs. It's American Corporations setting up production in such countries, in order to squeeze an extra penny of profit. If this goes on long enough, nobody in the USofA except the 1% will have enough moolah to buy the stuff made in China, etc. What do the Corporations do then? Demand more tax cuts for the 1%?

xyz 11:36 AM  

Not exactly palindromic, but I figured out the answers were entered sdrawkcab in the grid pretty early, never tried to figure out the clues, I am terrible at anagrams, where my dyslexic wife is of course awesome at them.

llarevO, eht elzzup t'nsaw 19A, but I didn't have much fun, either.

!em rooP

Rev. Gary Johnson 11:46 AM  

Lake Street Dive is what plays in all the elevators in hell.

Missy 11:56 AM  

Please explain your comment, I have no idea what this means. Thanks!

Molasses 11:57 AM  

@Lewis and @Z, same here on the " - " clue.

I finished filling in the puzzle, getting the backwards words fill-in-the-blanks style, got the happy music faster than my average, and then spent a good ten minutes staring at it, trying to make sense out of it, looking for ways the surrounding answers could combine with the backwards words, trying to anagram the answers, etc. Briefly tried anagramming the clues but I'm not very good at anagrams so I gave up before getting to aha. Even after referring to Wordplay, it took me way too long to parse "red root" backwards. It seems particularly evil to have that as the first tricky clue.

Basking vicariously in all of your satisfying aha moments when you figured it out.

jb129 12:03 PM  

"See Me" 2nd time this week - so now I will remember it.

Didn't bother to read the comments. When I saw who the constructor was, I knew it would be filled with self-conceit.

She/He didn't let me down.

John Hoffman 12:06 PM  

I have about 3/4 done, but I have no idea what’s going on with this puzzle! Even after reading the description. I’m lost.

zephyr 12:11 PM  

“When in Rome do as the Romans.” Definitely a going along with phrase.

crazyloon 12:17 PM  

when I see the name Eaton Salters I run for the hills.
Too gimmicky for me. I guess some people derive pleasure from spelling back wards. Joyless puzzle.

BartletForAmerica 12:19 PM  

I absolutely hated this. I would have been fine in print I think, but doing it backwards on mobile was much more frustrating for some reason. First time I've cheated in a long while.

zephyr 12:22 PM  

In Xanadu lived Kublai Khan. Not Kane!!! No fare.
Note below f was catchy- since we had esharp recently I thought it’d be fflat. Windows counterpart almost got me as I had a—-l- which looked ready for Apple, though not quite a good correlation. Nice puzzle. I do it at lunch with my coffee. Makes a nice break.

Joseph M 12:28 PM  

Nice review, Jake.

Alex is one of my favorite constructors and this puzzle is an example of why. Creative, well constructed, challenging but not impossible. Love the whole idea of semordnilaps, especially when two words backwards spells one word.

Although I had figured out the trick, I got hung up in the middle with the semordnilap for DIAPER. Had TOG NEVE for a while thinking that the words as well as the letters within the words were in reverse. However, this didn’t feel right and I was happy to realize that the correct answer was DEGNEVA.

Great clues for SEE ME, AISLE, WHO, MEAT, and WITH among others.

My only complaint is the singular CRAP (for at least the second time in recent memory).

Bonus semordnilaps hidden in the grid: WARD, HEM, ART, LOOT, OMEN, and DAH.

Whatsername 12:36 PM  

@GILL: Hope all went well. I can’t imagine having my family underfoot for two weeks. I’d probably check into a hotel on about day 5. I go by the old saying that after 3 days, fish and house guests begin to smell.

So YES! I’m glad you’re back. Now where the heck is Loren??

Z 12:48 PM  

Alert - Well written article about racism. It’s mostly written from a perspective I agree with but there are a couple “See Z is an idiot” moments.

@jb129 - Yep. No problem here ever. I was an assistant principal in a high school with a print shop. Our principal had the shop print SEE ME notes for her - she didn’t even have to write it out. Teachers dreaded getting them.

@John Hoffman - The italicized clues are backwards. When read the opposite way they become the actual clues. You then have to enter those answers backwards to solve the puzzle. So Red root should be read as To order. The answer is CUSTOMIZED, which goes into the grid as DEZIMOTSUC.

puzzlehoarder 12:50 PM  

A routine Thursday. I discovered the bass-akward themes and clues fairly early on. The South Central and SE corner sections were still a little tricky to complete. The 57A tennis star must be new. She's a debut clue for that well used entry and I've never heard of her. I was slow coming up with the French phrase as well.

OXTEAM is some desperate green paint and no credit as a debut entry. Acronyms like MPEG are usually slow for me to dredge up.

The above mentioned glitches provided a little extra puzzling at the end but all in all the solve was average.

Fred Romagnolo 12:56 PM  

I know Soho; what's Boho? In my whole life (I'm near 88) it's been CRAPs, never CRAP. I've heard CAB, but not from a connoisseur. POLEAX can also be found in Hamlet. I can see SET as a goal, but not SET AT. I've got to go along with the bloggers who are wary of this constructor.

OffTheGrid 1:03 PM  

For anyone who is still confused.

This theme had nothing to do with palindromes or anagrams.

Palindrome-Word or phrase that reads the same right to left as left to right.
OTTO, a man a plan a canal panama

Anagrams-different words with same letters.
lair, liar, rail

Masked and Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Noticed mighty early on that the themer at 17-A was gonna end in -UC. And that its clue was in italics. 'Bout it, noticin-wise. Immediately bolted over to the NE corner, and worked easily thru the AS?E? & CRAP, arrivin at ?TNEDUTS, for the second themer. Noticed that its clue was also in italics.

Tho ?TNEDUTS really looked like it might end up bein Russian for "stable genius", M&A finally wised up and got ASSES/STNEDUTS. "Ahar! Russian for 'sainted stable genius'!" M&A finally concluded. "OR … maybe STUDENTS spelt backwards..." M&A threw in, as an afterthought blurt.
… ker-click!

After that, things went pretty smoooth, altho coaxin "To order" outta 17-A's "Red root" clue still took a few extra modest nanoseconds to plow thru and harvest. Kinda liked the theme mcguffin -- especially when the backward clues would split up the original words.

This puppy had a lotta feisty-good clues. And some primo longball fillins [fave: LET SNOT -- better clue has been waived, as already lotsa other primo clues, like I said]. Fun stuff.

staff weeject pick: PEG. Mainly cuz it crosses MPEG (short for More PEG). Honrable mention to BBC, for crossin BCCS.

OMEN backwards is NEMO. Just sayin. Some of the weejects [lil darlins] also rise to this occasion, btw.
STRULB really oughta be somethin. Maybe in Russian …

Thanx for the feisty fun, Mr. A E-S [sea backwards, but who's noticin]. Nice job.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

P&G follow-up:

Masked and Anonymous 1:18 PM  

@Jake: Funky-good write-up. Please immediately advise, on official CrossWorld uniform particulars. Arm bands with little black & white squares?!! Snark-skin boots?!!


Teedmn 1:23 PM  

RED ROOT was the root of my problem with the theme - for some reason I saw PUPILS and REPAID in SLIP UP and DIAPER almost immediately but that TOO RDER blew my theory away. Not until RETEPTNIAS showed up did the GATE open fully for me.

Even after getting the theme, I despaired of ever filling in everything above SEE ME and HEROD (though I do pat myself on the back for splatzing in SEE ME as my first entry!) S__M CAP, WHAT? ShaM? SkiM? I blame having FirE in for 2D's "Let go". Thinking 5A was ScAB was my other hold-up in the north.

Since Alex Eaton-Salners regularly gives my brain a workout, I wasn't surprised at all to see that name as the constructor today. Nice Thursday, thanks!

Teedmn 1:31 PM  

I have a vaguely crossword-related tie-in to Jake's band of choice, Lake Street Dive. I was traveling to Lollapuzzoola, seated next to a guy on the plane. Around the time we began our descent, he and I started talking. He was a musician and he urged me to check out a band, Lake Street Dive, named after the Minneapolis street which is home to many dive bars. This seemed apt since we had just left that city for NYC. I never did get around to checking the band out so I appreciate the reminder.

Z 1:51 PM  

@offthegrid - You omitted what is at play today, a “Semordnilap” (that’s “palindromes” spelt backwards, is a word or phrase that spells a different word or phrase when spelt in reverse. So Otto is a palindrome and Red root/To order are Semordnilaps. I apologize to everyone who already new that, but “Semordnilaps” has been tossed around all day without an actual explanation (unless I missed it- always a possibility).

KevCo 1:56 PM  

Liked a lot of the cluing. Solved without sussing the theme at all. I could tell the answers were written backwards and was able to grok the few missing letters I needed because I knew I needed to make real words (had "G_IT_IXE," for example), but I never even sniffed that the clues themselves were phrases written backwards.

Perhaps most significantly, am I to understand that Rex Parker, arbiter of taste and enemy of all things plebeian, loves the Eagles? The Eagles?!?!?! That band feels like everything Rex hates incarnate. And their music blows, with one notable exception, which has been overplayed to the point that it's lost all its charm.

I don't even know what to believe in anymore.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

which has been overplayed to the point that it's lost all its charm

Well, to restore the charm, just turn up the volume to 11.

OffTheGrid 2:35 PM  

@Z. Thank you for enlightening me. Had not heard "Semordnilap" before. I love learning new things in puzzles and on the blog. BTW my name is BOB.

@Fred. I think "Went after" here means pursued with the intent to harm. SETAT can mean that but mostly just in crosswords.

Anonymous 2:46 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hungry Mother 3:04 PM  

I finished solving this one while sitting at my gate at Newark Airport, waiting to fly to Copenhagen. My wife and I have a two week northern European cruise on the MSC Poseia, which we sailed on a few years ago with a couple of granddaughters. I got the idea of the theme right away, but it was still a slog. I finished with two hours more until boarding.

RooMonster 3:41 PM  

Hey All !
Took me a head scratch or two before figuring out what the deal was. Got it when I had for 51A GNI_____. Said to myself, "Hey, that's ING backwards, maybe the answers go in backward?" (Could've been GNIess?) But still took an answer or two to see that the correct backward answer would come from reading themer clues backwards. Aha, indeed. BAWS, as it were.

@Nancy, I got CAPITALIZED themer clues, not italicized ones. Weird.

Haven't read far into the comments yet, but I'm sure @Lewis liked this one.

The ole brain has troubles reading things forward, never mind backward. At least puz wasn't MEH (37A).


Take It Easy 3:42 PM  

I think that the music you like probably blows.

fifirouge 3:56 PM  

The puzzle was a mess for me today. Working through the top half, I dropped in HuROn at 21A with confidence. Then for some reason my brain *insisted* that "Keep Climbing" had to be the North Face slogan. That plus the "-" clue on 27D and I was convinced I was looking at some sort of rebus/displaced letter trick. Banged my head against that section for a long time, wandering around the rest of the puzzle trying to find the other themers and coming back to it. With no luck.

Eventually I figured out the backward answer thing with SAINTPETER, but I suck at reading backwards so I couldn't suss out any of the others (never figured out the backward clue thing, which didn't help), and yet I was STILL convinced 21A was HuROn and 22D was "northface". Finally I realized that there were no other "-" clues in the puzzle, so it couldn't be part of the theme. That allowed me to accept that 31A couldn't be anything but SOLACE.

Even then I ended up having to google "Keep Climbing" because 22D looked like n_LT_ (HuROn, dammit! Never heard of HEROD). I knew both 26A and 38A were backwards but without the backward clue concept, couldn't make them fall.

It came together after that, but man was it frustrating.

FWIW, the North Face Slogan is apparently "Never Stop Exploring." Frankly I think the two companies should consider swapping slogans.

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

@Fred Romagnolo: "BOHO" is short for Bohemian chic which consists of loose, colorful clothing and Sixties hippie style fashions.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

Hi Big T here, I’m glad I wasn’t reviewing this puzzle, as I hadn’t a clue what was going on until o read jakes write up!
And a DNF as I had dANE rather than Kane, which I don’t understand either.
Oh well. This is my first post after reading the blog for years.

Anonymous 5:20 PM  

Xanadu is Kane's estate in Citizen Kane, as well as being Kublai Khan's relam.

Speedweeder 8:04 PM  

While I wouldn't say their music blows, I am not a huge Eagles fan. For me, the notable exception is Take It Easy, but of course that's because it's really a Jackson Brown song.

I read that for a certain generation, the Eagles are considered the greatest band ever, on the order of the Beatles. That was a shocker to me. Never would have guessed.

Anonymous 8:45 PM  

Jackson Browne rhymes like a three year old and he used to beat up Daryl Hannah. Not a fan.

redfj60 9:26 PM  

Loved it. However as a muggins cribbage player I was really disappointed that “deckhand” turned out not to be “crib”.

Z 9:59 PM  

Hey, @pmdm and I were having a nice exchange via email (apparently his comment got moderated out for some reason) and he pointed out this puzzle from April 9 (link is to Rex’s blog, if you want the puzzle it is the April 9, 2019 puzzle). I liked today’s better than the April one. I really really hate notes.

Monty Boy 10:46 PM  

I finished the themers fairly handily, finally getting both clues and answers were backwards.

I'm apparently the only one having trouble with DROSS, which I know onlyas slag or waste from smelting processes. It's not rubbish to me, which is household waste, or TRASH. That gave me lots of trouble sorting out. I had a couple of reasonable (to me) crosses, that just didn't work. Took a long while to finally work it out.

Nancy 10:53 PM  

@GHarris -- Seems he caved completely. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dan M 11:06 PM  

Solid Thursday trickery, but I'm mostly commenting to say THANK YOU for introducing me to Lake Street Dive. And they're from Boston which makes it extra stupid I've never heard of them before, but also extra likely I'll get to catch them live. Awesome.

Win Emmons 2:18 AM  

Yes, CRAP is not a roll of the dice. CRAPS is.

Monica 1:02 PM  

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Boante Ray 8:14 PM  

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rondo 9:35 AM  

Oh oh. More spellcasters.

Italicized clues? Now that would have been helpful. They are not printed in italics in my paper of choice, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, but a quick check of the Mpls. Trib shows that the fish wrapper from the other side of the Mississip used italics. Time for another letter of reprimand. BTW, it wasn’t that long ago (in geological time) that both of those papers had a morning *and* afternoon edition; in St. Paul it was the Pioneer Press and the Dispatch and in Mpls. the Tribune and the Star. At some point they each became one edition as the Pioneer Press – Dispatch and the Star – Tribune and finally simply the Pioneer Press and the Tribune. Now, of course, neither is any longer in the broadsheet format. Hard for a bum to get any sleep with those itty bitty papers these days.

Alex’s favorite band Lake Street Dive gets plenty of air time on Minnesota Public Radio’s 89.3 The Current (you can stream it). If you’ve ever been on Lake Street in Minneapolis you’d appreciate just how apt that name is.

Anyway, once I sussed the backwards STUDENTS, things went much better. Everybody’s favorite Gal, GADOT makes a yeah baby appearance. Interesting puz; better than a rebus.

Burma Shave 10:11 AM  


LET’SNOT be cheaters WHO DOIT WITH imprudence,


spacecraft 11:10 AM  

Sadly, a one-square DNF--but not on account of the harder-than-snot theme and Saturday-level clues. No, it was just the abbr. cluster in the NE. Square 16 did me in. Had no idea about either 9-down or 16-across, so I guessed sOHO because at least I'd heard of that. It's a shame, too, because I was building up a ton of triumph points on this one. Why did he do that in such an otherwise great puzzle? And no, my paper did not italicize. I had to root out which clues were drawkcab. Oh well. *sigh*

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

Jake, you forgot to mention Rex being spotted at a Gun Show, wearing a MAGA hat and an IRA tee-shirt....

rainforest 1:23 PM  

I started out not getting anywhere in the NW, so I went to the NE and rattled off all the downs except for the last letter of 26A but I noticed that staring at me was STUDENT backwards. A look at the clue, and the jig was up. From there, fairly easy, but I did take some time with GNITSIXE, mainly because I didn't know GADOT.

So the theme was initially tricky, but once you get it, the puzzle reverts to a regular themeless as long as you remember to read the italicized clues backwards.

Some nice clues and lively downs. Liked it.

leftcoast 3:36 PM  

Started on the East side, so the first themes to emerge were STUDENTS and SAINTPETER. Still, seeing the reversed clue/answer gimmick took most time.

Last to go was CUSTOMIZED after getting that it wasn't CUt TO M[something].

The two PEGs in the middle south were distractions, and SWIMCAPS and ASSES in the North were resistant.

Long downs in the NE and SW are good ones, and helpful to boot.

Very clever, with a big "aha" on discovering the trick (regardless of its use in the past).

Nice work by AE-S.

Unknown 9:45 AM  


All you bozos who are commending this puzzle are some really twisted pieces of work.

And to those of you who write lengthy entries, you obviously have too much time on your hands and should find some sort of productive activity to occupy your time.

Never commented before - won't comment again.

Get a life.

burdavis 10:57 PM  

BOHO is short for bohemian. Totally with you on CRAP and SET AT.

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