Mattel acquisition of 1997 / WED 11-9-22 / Prophetess in the Torah / 1987 thriller featuring the same characters as TV's "Californication" / 1990 action film featuring the same characters as the film "Collateral"

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Constructor: David Tuffs

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "same characters" — famous movies are clued as having the "same characters" as some other movies (or TV shows), only in this case the clues (obviously) mean "characters" as in "letters (in the titles),," not "roles (in the shows themselves)"

Theme answers:
  • "FATAL ATTRACTION" (17A: 1987 thriller featuring the same characters as TV's "Californication"?)
  • "SISTER ACT" (23A: 1992 comedy featuring the same characters as the film "Secretariat"?)
  • "TOTAL RECALL" (39A: 1990 action film featuring the same characters as the film "Collateral"?)
  • "DAREDEVIL" (54A: 2003 Marvel movie featuring the same characters as TV's "Riverdale"?)
  • "SINGIN' IN THE RAIN" (61A: 1952 musical featuring the same characters as TV's "Stranger Things"?)
Word of the Day: "GOTTI" (22A: Travolta film with a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) —

Gotti is a 2018 American biographical crime film about New York Citymobster John Gotti, directed by Kevin Connolly, and written by Lem Dobbsand Leo Rossi. It stars John Travolta as Gotti, alongside his real-life wife Kelly Preston as Gotti's wife Victoria in her penultimate film. [...] Gotti underperformed both critically and commercially; it grossed just $6 million against a $10 million production budget and received universally negative reviews from critics, who lamented the writing, aesthetics and performances, although its use of makeup and Travolta's performance received some praise. It is one of the few films to hold an approval rating of 0% on the website Rotten Tomatoes. (wikipedia)
• • •

As for the theme, I never saw it. That is, as I was filling in the last themer ("SINGIN' IN THE RAIN"), I thought "wait, there's no revealer clue? ... what is this theme?" Then I noticed that the theme clues had information in them beyond "1987 thriller" and "2003 Marvel movie" (which had been all I'd needed to get the answers). So the first themer clue I actually read all the way through was the last one. I of course knew instantly that "SINGIN' IN THE RAIN" and "Stranger Things" don't share any characters, so I knew instantly that "characters" meant "letters." And that was that. I'm kinda glad I spared myself that revelation until the very end because it meant that as I was solving I at least had some *hope* that a clever revealer was on its way. If I'd seen the "character" pun first thing, well, the puzzle would've been even harder to endure than it was, and it was pretty hard to endure, *in spite* of being *exceedingly* easy to solve. Once again (this is happening an awful lot lately), I couldn't even make it out of the NW corner without thinking "that's a lot of subpar fill for one small corner, I hope it's not all gonna be like this." But it was. ADE to ATT to ITT to OER to OBI to ETE to IDA (crossing IDAHO). And I'm leaving a lot of other sad repeaters off that list. The fill was so complacent. So yesteryear. I don't understand the total lack of emphasis on clean grids at this establishment. The theme is (apparently) everything, and all you have to do is get the fill into plausible "yeah I've seen that before" shape. I will say that the SE corner is 10x better than the NW corner, and "I CAN'T SEE!" is an unexpected answer, lively in its urgency (41A: "It's too dark in here!"). But for the most part, filling this grid in was a dreary exercise. I was writing in answers almost as fast as I could read the clues: still dreary.

There's something depressing about wasting one of the longer answers on a cross-reference that sends the solving clear to some other part of the grid for the other part of the answer, which ends up just being bad short fill they're trying to dress up (in this case, the DEE from DEE / REYNOLDS). That's like someone noticed "Hey, we've got this cruddy DEE sitting here, maybe we can spruce it up by tying it to REYNOLDS?"). But you're not "sprucing" anything, you're just making the solve more clunky and awkward (and not fooling anyone: DEE is DEE is DEE, below average). MAPLE / TREE was also a disappointing crossref. I have to go back to my left to get a second word as obvious and semi-redundant as TREE? Come on.


Back to the theme. I don't know how hard it is to find movie / TV titles that share "characters," let alone find movie titles you can do that with that also fit symmetrically in a grid. But I don't know if it matters. The concept, done once, sort of merits an "oh, cute." But turned into a theme, the cuteness wears off. Or, in my case, you don't even notice it because the movies are so easy to guess without the theme part. I thought the theme was going to have something with "ACT" at first (after "FATAL ATTRACTION" and "SISTER ACT"). Something about ACTing ... in movies ... I dunno. Anyway that's not where it went. It went to "characters." OK. I think using TV show titles is a glaring inconsistency. If TV shows had also been among the theme answers, *or* if all the titles in the clues had been TV shows, I wouldn't have cared, but as is, it looks like your movie theme just wouldn't work so you cheated and went to TV a few times ("Californication," "Riverdale," "Stranger Things"). I like movies, and I like seeing them in my grid, and I like "The Well-Tempered CLAVIER," so maybe I'll try to take whatever joy that offers me and head into my Wednesday. Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Natasha 5:53 AM  

I found it strange that this puzzle had REYNOLDS and SINGININTHERAIN as a theme answer and didn't cross reference them at all. I wonder if they wanted to until DEE showed up?

Conrad 6:12 AM  

Like @Rex, I didn’t read the theme clues until I finished. Unlike @Rex, I said “Oh, that’s interesting” and didn’t really grok the significance of “characters” until I came here. Yeah, it’s early in the morning. My only overwrite was mai before ETE for the Cannes time at 59A. I don’t know when they hold the film festival, I just expected something more specific than 1/4 of the year.

tompdavis 6:34 AM  

I got the theme right away. Again, this is a know cryptic type of clue called a letterbox. Seems constructors are borrowing heavily from cryptics for cluing these days: "womens name found in Issue" for SUE, and "one backwards musician" for ENO, obviously anagrams have been themes, and now letterboxes...

Anonymous 6:35 AM  

Aw, Rexie, c’mon. This theme was really clever. Who knew so many movies and TV shows shared the same letters? Unusually, I saw the theme right away and couldn’t believe anyone could build a whole puzzle on such an unlikely conceit. As I sailed through this easy puzzle, I looked forward to hitting each themer, wondering what surprising pairing would come next. A total delight!

Darren 6:40 AM  

I got the theme immediately and still hated this puzzle. It was a total slog.

Anonymous 6:42 AM  

Ete (summer) is not even correct. You’re correct that it’s held in Mai (May), which is still Spring. Printemps obviously won’t fit. This one threw me.

Anonymous 6:45 AM  

I get the complaints about the fill and I also got most of the theme answers without using the theme per se. But once I got the theme I thought it was way less of an “oh cute” and more of an “oh wow holy ****.” I think Rex is way underestimating how hard it was to come up with these and the fact that it’s possible to do it with any titles of pop culture at all seems like an utter miracle. Complaining that they’re not all TV shows or movies is asking way way too much here.

Stix 6:50 AM  

Unintentional highlight for me was having LAPDANCE instead of TAPDANCE. I was like, "there's a lap dance move called the Shirley Temple?!" LOL

Georgia 7:02 AM  

Oh, I was impressed with finding "same letters" of long, popular titles. Clever, easy and fun to solve.

vtspeedy 7:08 AM  

39 Down- definitely not “lapdance”

Bob Mills 7:22 AM  

I remember Bach's "Well-Tempered CLAVICHORD," not "...CLAVIER" An OK puzzle, but with too much popular culture for my taste.

GAC 7:24 AM  

I never got the theme until I arrived here. Like Darren said, It was a total slog.

Lee 7:35 AM  

I still don’t get the theme. Is it that they have the same amount of letters? In which case you could count the boxes and know how many letters you need. Dumb this morning after a night of watching returns, but I didn’t get it at all

Anonymous 7:48 AM  

You’re right. The Cannes Film Festival takes place in May, which is Spring, so ete/summer is wrong.

Son Volt 7:54 AM  

The movies were a throw in - I saw this as a glorified Spelling Bee - provide a group of letters and see what words fit. Fill-wise it followed suit from the first two puzzles this week. Some entries were so simplistic I thought I was doing the TV Guide puzzle and others like “.” follower were just cringeworthy.

Rough to include so much trivia with a theme that is trivia based. I did like CARRERA and CLAVIER is just odd enough. Not much else beyond that.

The MAPLE TREE remembers

This has been a highly unforgettable week of puzzles so far.

MarthaCatherine 7:56 AM  

@Lee--All of the theme answers were anagrams of the titles in the clues.

Impressive to find that many titles that could be so completely anagrammed into other movie or TV show titles.

Todd 7:57 AM  

This puzzle felt easier than Monday's and my times were about the same.

Dr.A 7:57 AM  

I kept thinking “oh Rex is going to rip this one apart”. I was not wrong!

kitshef 7:57 AM  

I feel like if the theme is pop culture, you should avoid it as much as possible in the fill. So get rid of GOTTI and DEE REYNOLDS, for example.

But really this type of theme is not for me. I knew all the movies, which is something.

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

Prophetess????? Was the constructor born in 1860 and has been unaware of every social movement since?

Not anagrams, just a mishmash of shared characters.

Not my puzzle.

Lewis 8:07 AM  

So far, in David’s five puzzles, the themes have centered on word quirks. In his last puzzle, he found two-word phrases where the second word meant the same as the first in another language, i.e., WITHOUT SIN, where “sin” in Spanish means “without”. In his puzzle before that one, he found two-word phrases where the second word could be anagrammed to another word that completed a different-yet-valid phrase with the first word, i.e., ROCK IDOLS, where “idols” becomes “solid”, making ROCK SOLID.

So, I see David as a treasure hunter of sorts. He’s very good at it, IMO. He leaves me wondering, “How the holy heck did he find these?” He leaves me hungry with anticipation for what will be coming next. And he gets me to thinking, “Ain’t our language grand?”

I liked LIE sharing column 5 with LEI, and RED in the same word as DEVIL (54A), and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN flips on my inner happiness as I perfectly flash on the scene from the movie. It’s kind of how I felt as I zipped through this puzzle. Thank you, David!

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

The answers are not anagrams of the titles in the clues, are they? In respect of “Sisteract” it needs one more “r.” Also, it has an extra “s.” This lack-of-one and presence of extra is true of each clue title and answer. The clue title and answer do share the same letters, just not all of them.

TTrimble 8:35 AM  

Very easy for a Wednesday. My time today was better than for both yesterday and Monday, which is pretty unusual. A few missteps include "AP exam" before "AP TEST", "oh ho" before "oh MY" before "MY MY" (I like "oh ho" much more), and a little embarrassingly, but under the influence of "oh ho", "IsaIAh" before MIRIAM. I know Isaiah is a prophet, not a prophetess.

Honestly, the theme itself felt superfluous in terms of solving the puzzle: I just filled in names of movies as the letters appeared. I did see the theme, but it didn't really excite me. If they had been true anagrams, now that would have been quite the coup. (Maybe impossibly hard to pull off.)

I don't know the difference between a Camaro and a CARRERA. They both GO FAST is about all I know. Anyway, CARRERA had to wait for some crosses. Mildly disappointed that it couldn't be Carreras, because that would have been quite the confluence of musicians there (along with ARETHA and SARA [Bareilles]).

I think Rex made some decent points, but something about the phrase "I like the Well-Tempered CLAVIER" is funny to me; it's almost like saying, "Oh yeah, the Well-Tempered Clavier -- that's a good collection of pieces." It's not wrong. Just a very weak thing to say.

SB today: so far g but not p. I don't look up any stats about the puzzle until I have a feeling I've hit pg (getting every p), so no idea how many more I have left. Yesterday held steady at pg -2, missing an 8 and a 7. Guess I'll bite and look them up.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Was surprised by the Été (summer) given that the festival is held in May (not summer), so almost certainly should be answered with mai!

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

I think having “Gotti” as an answer two days in a row is, at a minimum, in poor taste. He was someone whose only claim to fame was being convicted of five murders, among other things, and heading what at the time was the largest criminal organization in the country. That organization murdered dozens more and committed untold additional crimes.

The Smolny Institute 9:01 AM  

I would have been more impressed if they were true anagrams, but as someone pointed out in an earlier comment Secretariat --> Sister Act means missing leaving an extra "e" and adding an extra "s". Same pattern with all the other themers. I realize it is a difficult thing as it is, but seems like if it were anagrams it would be even more amazing. Still a pretty fast solve. Agree with Rex about MAPLE TREE being redundant and two lookie loo's is two too many.

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

If you never saw any of the ten movies or whatever that were referenced, you would simply never catch the "character" reference. It didn't matter, since the grid was easy.

pabloinnh 9:06 AM  

I fell for the "characters" misdirect and just thought, oh good, more names from things I haven't seen. The titles were at least familiar enough to go right in and I didn't catch on to the anagram aspect until SINGININTHERAIN, when I did the required Doh! dope slap.

I'm with @Lewis in being impressed by the ability to find all of these, and with OFL on most of the fill. MAPLE here and TREE there was not good, and any puzzle that needs both IRK and IRE needs some work.

Don't know what the EXITPOLLs said, but this NH household breathed a big sigh of relief this AM.

Nice piece of sleuthing to come up with these, DT. Doubtlessly Tougher to find all these than it was to solve the puzzle, but thanks for some fun.

pmdm 9:17 AM  

I am another who did not understand the theme until being explained what it was. And most of the theme entries were easy enough to fill in after a few crosses provided hints. This made it, for me, a so-so puzzle even though I am a little impressed at the construction. I would welcome more, if not exactly with open arms.

Bob Mills: I believe only "Book One" originally had the description as "well tempered." I believe the original title indicated clavier (meaning any keyboard instrument). The a-minor fugue can only be played if you use a pedal keyboard, so I don't think clavichord at all is correct. Others may correct my recollection if I'm wrong. By the way, the c-minor and "Book Two" E-major fugues seem well suited to an organ performance. Anthony Newman's first recording was interesting in that he used a number of [historically correct] different keyboards. By the way, yiu can locate a more recent version of him playing book one one You Tube, and he uses a very big harpsichord.

Nancy 9:22 AM  

OOPS. I wrote down SINGINg IN THE RAIN without counting letters and ran out of room. Even worse, I wrote it down in my new, much hated Bic pen with its improbably bulbous tip producing heavy thick black ink -- making it impossible to correct to SINGIN' IN THE RAIN neatly or even legibly. Grrr. Even worse, my original eraseable Papermate pens, which are out of ink, aren't made anymore and my substitute Pilot Frixion supposedly eraseable pen doesn't really erase and is as hard to see as pencil.

But enough about me. Now to the puzzle itself: Who woulda thunk that so many movies with long titles and lots of letters would anagram to other movies with long titles and lots of letters? How bizarre. How wonderful for the purposes of this puzzle.

GOTTI really got 0% on Rotten Tomatoes? I didn't think anything did. No wonder I never heard of the movie -- though I have of course heard of GOTTI.

I hate foods that are TART. I love foods that are tangy. I don't regard those two things as even slightly synonymous.

An easy-ish Wednesday -- even with the pop culture clues.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:26 AM  

rAREDEVIL is not I think a movie. Not one I've seen, but then I haven't seen most of the ones they used either. Yeesh.

As a clavichordist I am offended that the HIP (Historically Informed Performance Practice) cops have attempted to rename the WTC. The clavichord was what people played at home, which is where most people would have played a collection of Preludes and Fugues in all possible keys. CLAVIER means any keyboard instrument, which statistically would have been most often a clavichord at that time in Thuringia. But I seem to be pretty alone in that. But it's at the volume level of quiet conversation, it's too soft for 'normal' (to modern sensibilities) concerts in concert halls. Which they didn't have at the time. But don't get me started.

Gary Jugert 9:28 AM  

Another joyous day on the planet with a little time to knock out a puzzle. Don't know if I'm missing something important in the theme. Guess I'll go read 🦖 to find out. I put in the movie names, but why those tortured clues? More things for my muse to ponder.

FRET and LEI given off a hint of ukulele love. I would put AVIARY on my favorite word list, but APIARY and AERIE feel like the same-ish word and equally wonderful so it gets out of control by association.


1 Because she said she didn't have enough time left on this Earth, Nana told the punchline without the setup.
2 Meeting of upper management.
3 Rafael on a moped.
4 The guy at the university in charge of rolling out the baroque harpsichord decorated to look like a unicorn barfed rainbows on it.
5 Exam for high schoolers in clicks.
6 "So, what d'ya think of the worms?"


fuzzle47 9:31 AM  

Re. CLAVIER vs. clavichord. It's definitely Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, a clavier being any of a number of keyboard instruments, of which the clavichord is only one example.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Riverdale has two r’s. Daredevil has two d’s.

Beezer 9:39 AM  

This puzzle was just fine for me and thought it played very easy (due to crosses) until I bombed in the SE nook with ISAY and RBI instead of MYMY and RPM. The REAL answers were much better than my lame ones. I will say that while I think the idea is very clever, I have no interest in solving semi-anagrams and merely relied on crosses until a film name I knew (all of them) was decipherable.

Yeah. The ETE thing. I’ve paid no attention to when the film festival is held in the past but thought MAI seemed reasonable because it’s three letters and one of the few months I have learned/remember in French but did a quick scan of 46D and ARETHA made me “see the light” with ETE. Didn’t realize Cannes is REALLY held in May until I came here. Then I skipped out and did some searches. Hmmm. Apparently ETE can or used to mean “the hot season.” Ok. Then I look at Cannes weather in May…I don’t think an average high of 72 is particularly hot. BUT! For some a reason more than one website on the festival referred to it as held “in the summer” for example one “visit Cannes” website said:

Located at the famous Palais des Festivals, where the Cannes Film Festival takes place in May, every summer. You'll learn how films are made and even be able to participate in dedicated workshops for kids and adults.Jun 28, 2022

So. Go figure.

RooMonster 9:41 AM  

Hey All !
Fill not too terrible, considering amount of space the Themers take up. There are two in each NE and SW corners, only one row apart. Tough to get any kind of clean fill, or even fill that's actually a real thing. Plus, said corners have three 6's each!
Then the middle Themer connects three times with the two above and below it, in which those are the ones only one row from the other two Themers, which connect 6 times! AND the very edges of middle Themer connects to the upper and lower Themers.
So you can see this must've been super tough to fill.
So lay off, Rex. 😜😁

As for the solving experience, I liked it, and the ole brain actually figured out what was happening. As has been said before, the Themers use the same letters as the Clues, but not all of them, and some are doubled up. Example: SINGING IN THE RAIN/STRANGER THINGS - Two extra I's, two extra N's, only one T used, you get the idea. Still neat, and a joy to not be flummoxed until Rex Explains It All. New TV show? Rex Explains The Universe. Har.

Happy Hump day. Happy No More Political Ads Day.

Two F's

Diego 9:43 AM  

Didn’t ring my bell—much preferred the Monday and Tuesday puzzles—though it was certainly easy enough. Way. Too. Much. PPP.
Refreshing to see a Bach reference amidst the relatively garbage-y films, excepting of course Singin’ in the Rain, a masterpiece for the ages.

TJS 9:54 AM  

Hey, a personal record for me! Fastest time I have ever quit a puzzle ! Got to sister act and said "enough". What is happening to the NYT Crossword ?

TTrimble 9:57 AM  

Beats the heck out of me why some seem to be insisting that it's "The Well-Tempered Clavichord". Never heard that in my life. Bach titled it "Das Wohltemperirte Clavier", using the spelling of the day. Anyway, why not just look it up. If you want to claim that's still wrong, take it up with the Wikipedia editors, and please get back to us if you've changed their minds.

TJS 10:04 AM  

Anon 8:44. Rex is far too busy dealing with J.K.Rowling to be concerned with the Gottis' of the world.ely different opinion of the puzzle.
If I had stayed long enough to get to the Shirley Temple lap dance I would have had an entirely different opinion of the puzzle.

pabloinnh 10:10 AM  

Hey @Roo-First answer in SB for me today was PABLO. Of course it wasn't on the list, didn't care. No ROOS today though.

AJ KIMMEL 10:16 AM  

The correct answer to 59 across is 'mai' not 'ete'. The Cannes film festival is held during the second half of May. Summer in Europe begins on June 21.

Joseph Michael 10:16 AM  

It wasn’t until I finished the puzzle that I realized the “characters” in question were letters not roles and that boosted my admiration for the theme by a notch. So, if I were grading it, I would now give it a D.

Impressive stunt, but not much fun to solve. Too much trivia put my CLAVIER in a bad temper.

Carola 10:28 AM  

I liked the cross of TAP DANCE and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (just after the 2-minute mark). Otherwise, for me any anagram sort of theme = FATAL.

Perry 10:28 AM  

This is one of those puzzles where the theme was utterly pointless and a complete waste of time. I finished easily without understanding the theme. I had to come here so that I read an explanation of the theme. It probably took a long time to craft and clue the theme. What a waste of effort.

Nancy 10:32 AM  

You're so right, @AJ KIMMEL (10:16). I had MAI too at first.

@Gary Jugert -- Your uniclue #6 today may be my all-time favorite.

bocamp 10:34 AM  

Thx, David for this smooth Wednes. puz! :)

Easy-med (Tues. time).

Liked the theme. Checked the anagrams post-solve; nicely done!

May queue up a few of these movies for later this week, just for fun. GOTTa see how GOTTI managed a '0% rating' on Rotten Tomatoes. Fave Travolta film: 'Get Shorty'.

Unknown or hazy: CLAVIER, MIRIAM, CARRERA, REYNOLDS; thx for the fair crosses! :)

Kealoas for me: ETHOS / ETHic; IRE/ IRK.

Enjoyed the romp.


Enjoyed Agard's puz yd; def a challenge! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Liveprof 10:39 AM  

Has anyone tried a BIC razor? It's awful -- you get ink all over your face.

GILL I. 10:42 AM  

Well, I started out thinking there was some sort of ACT I was going to enjoy. I never saw the character pun thingie and I can't even visualize the clever notion of why you'd even want to. I appreciate artistic license dedicated to changing things in an interesting way, but this felt like a Dali really gone strange.
Now that this puzzle has been explained to me, should I jump up and TAP DANCE? Do I get to choose between a JETTA and a CARRARA? I liked the VAMP sitting on top of the DEVIL.
I don't particularly like zipping through anything and then finding myself with a bit of indigestion. I want to end my meal with a TART sweet dessert. The chef was creative today but his gastronomy creation lacked eye candy.
FATAL ATTRACTION: Boy did that movie give me the ANGST Agita, Dyspepsia disease. Talk about the worst sort of date movie. I mean I love Michael Douglas and {especially} Glenn Close but when Glenn goes all pathological, it was like watching a horror movie filled with all the "canned formula for violence" a perfectly sane person could do without. I suppose the ATTRACTION is that Michael was willing to be seduced. The wild and passionate sex scene gave it all away.
My dos centavos: I'll take Gene Kelley SINGIN' in the RAIN with Jean, any day of the month. I'd even hold the umbrella.

burtonkd 10:44 AM  

"Das Wohltemperierte Clavier" gets my vote, since that is what Herr Bach put on the manuscript.
This music famously works on just about any keyboard or musical ensemble. "Switched on Bach" made an early case for the Moog synthesizer.

I'm with Lewis on cleverness of theme, and didn't slow down enough on anything else to take time to be bothered with the rest of it, but I don't have to write a column. These aren't "anagrams", they just share the same letter sets - think Spelling Bee.

Joe Dipinto 10:52 AM  

J.S. Bach's "Well Tempered Clavier" is mannerly and pleasant enough, but I prefer the insolent brusqueness of son P.D.Q.'s "Short Tempered Clavier".

Whatsername 10:52 AM  

I love anagrams are normally enjoy movie based clues. This was no exception, I enjoyed the theme immensely. However with a Proper Name based theme, IMO those puzzles should have a minimum number of proper names/places/things in the remaining grid. Clearly that was not the case here. PLENTY of trivia in the theme answers and no need to add 20+ more in the fill.

Funny we would have GOTTI two days in a row and before yesterday I’d never even heard of that film. It must be really bad.

Bruce R 10:56 AM  

+1 for LAPDANCE. Had _APDANCE and concluded it must be LAPDANCE because what else could it be? Seemed odd but it's not really my area of expertise. I eventually made the correction thanks to LOTALRECALL.

doghairstew 11:00 AM  

Well the answers never claimed to be anagrams. The clues said "featuring the same characters" which is precisely what the answers did.

The idea that there are a bunch of movie titles out there that are perfect anagrams of each other, and the constructor should have have used THOSE... That's kinda like me wanting to buy a nice sporty sedan that also washes dishes.

Masked and Anonymous 11:03 AM  

Theme was kinda different … and was very helpful for solvin all them movie themers. Seems like the constructioneer might suffered more than M&A did, cuz he had to find all those matchin letter combo flicks in the first place.

staff weeject pick: NAB. Cuz it has the same characters as BANANA. End of discussion.

Some mysterious answer values: DEE+REYNOLDS. CARRERA. CLAVIER. SARA.
fave fillins: EXITPOLL. Timely. And a nice, high % of pollees thought Trump sucked. KITKAT.

Thanx, Mr. Tuffs dude.

Masked & Anonymo s :-(


Whatsername 11:04 AM  

Well this just made me TOTALly feel like SINGING IN THE RAIN!

Phrazle 411: 1/6
🟩🟩 🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:04 AM  

Clavier is not an English word, except in esoteric musical circles. At the time in Thuringia it was usually used to mean clavichord, because that was the vast majority of domestic keyboard instruments.

egsforbreakfast 11:04 AM  

An APTEST is the APTEST H.S. exam scored on a 1 to 5 scale that I can think of.

Hand up for briefly joining the lap dance crew. I mean, I’m no aficionado (really), so it seemed reasonable that lapdancers might have moves called the Shirley Temple and Shim Sham. With moves like that, I might give one a go if I had 6 or 8 Old Fashioneds in me. You know, the kinda night that leaves you without TOTALRECALL.

Given how many commenters continue to say that this puzzle employed anagrams, ICANTSEE telling them that they’re more mixed up than the characters. But it’s been said enough times.

I’d have to say that RINGO is the STARR of this puzzle.

I thought it was clever, easy and fun to solve. Almost every day, Rex lists a bunch of 3 letter answers and calls them tired or crosswordese or lethal. Fact is, there aren’t many good 3 letter words that haven’t been used a Brazilian times. Get over it. Thanks for a good time, David Tuffs.

mathgent 11:04 AM  

I liked the movie titles, but that wasn't enough to make up for the lack of crunch and sparkle. And there were 24 Terrible Threes. Not good.

Gary Jugert 11:10 AM  

May in Nice, France:
Average high: 70°
Average low: 58°
Average rain: 1.8 inches.
So ETE-esque? ETE-ish?
Chances a cruciverbalist will look at a calendar rather than out the window to determine ETE-ness, 100%. Chances we'll blame Will for such a shocking oversight (undersight): Pretty high. C'mon, admit it, you'd strap on a Speedo with the rest of them Euros. It's summer enough.

Beezer 11:11 AM  

@Nancy, if you want to have a love affair with a pen I HIGHLY recommend the Zebra SARASAdryX20 (0.7 tip). You can order a pack of 12 online for a reasonable price. In what seems to now be a shameless product plug, I’ll go ahead and say since I have Amazon Prime, I get free shipping. However, if you have an office supply store near you I’m sure they would have it. The pen was recommended to me and I have uttered NO curse words at a pen since I started using it. Hah! When I was working, our office pens were pretty much as you described and I started ordering the Zebra pens on my own dime just to save myself heartache.

@Liveprof…🤣…are you alternately sometimes @The Joker? Hmmm. I always thought the prof part meant “professor” but NOW I’m wonder in’ if you are a “professional” LIVE comedian… All I know is I’m gonna scrutinize in the future…

egsforbreakfast 11:15 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:16 AM  

I agree! I kept trying to make it mei, but obviously that didn’t work. So when I wound up with ete, I’m like, we’ll that’s just wrong! I also didn’t like how the movie titles weren’t clean anagrams of the “clues”. That, to me, would have been much more clever.

Gary Jugert 11:16 AM  

@TTrimble 8:35 AM
Bach wrote some pretty good songs. 🤣

Dan 11:16 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle!

I got what the clues were telling me fairly early on. That added dimension made the puzzle a whole lot more fun as I started looking at each remaining themer.

You said "I'm kinda glad I spared myself that revelation until the very end..." When I read that, I thought the opposite. I was so happy that I caught it early enough to enjoy it because I think if I had missed it and only discovered it at the end, I would have missed out on the true fun I had solving this one.

Newboy 11:18 AM  

“Once again (this is happening an awful lot lately)”—agreeing with Rex that is. As one who seldom darkens the cinema foyer, I totally missed the theme, so nice to get that explained & MIRIAM always clicked with me as a singer, especially in those early releases on vinyl which itself clicked. Also neat to get the IDAHO seal clue tidbit explanation since we’ve lived here for half a century and never even thought about who or how or why someone gave us ESTO PERPETUA as its motto.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Fair critique. I thought the theme was clever, but was all too easy for a Wednesday. With a lot of meh fill. Felt like a Tuesday. I would’ve liked to see the movies/shows clued with a little more difficulty—even clued only with the “same characters as…” part would’ve been perfect sleight of hand. And then, IMHO, getting the word PANGRAM in there as a revealer hint would’ve been icing. But that’s just my personal take on what I was kind of hoping for, to make it sing a little more.

Artlm 11:28 AM  

I suspect I’m going to be a lone voice in the void: I’m an off-and-on crossword solver. What i like about crosswords is the word play. What I find annoying and “put offish” is how often the references are to movie actors and movies (very few I think are worth the time), sport figures (I don’t follow sports, I do them), and entertainers (most of whom I don’t find entertaining). Have crossword puzzles always been like this? Do we really need to clog our brains with the name and characters played of all the 220 cast members of a tv series?

Pete 11:46 AM  

@TTrimble - Sometimes when people say "I remembered it as...." they're describing their mistake, not insisting that they were correct.

And, it's most definitely the class of instruments, not having CLAVIER substitute for clavichord, that was intended. The Well Tempered part describes a fixed, standardized tuning, which didn't exist for instruments at that time. Bach's genius here is that he came up with a tuning system, then wrote an extended series of compositions in all possible keys, demonstrating the breadth and scope of the voices provided by this tuning. No longer did one have to re-tune the harpsichord when switching between compositions. Virtually keyed or fretted instrument playing western music follows Bach's tempering. Most of us have never heard anything but Bach's 12 notes in our entire lives, except for the occasional sitar, a shamisen, or an oud. Or my kid playing the violin.

tea73 11:48 AM  

Solved in record time so not a slog. Movies filled themselves in when I didn't recognize the descriptions. Never actually cottoned on to the McGuffin. Was impressed when I thought it was anagrams, less impressed now that I realize it's only almost-anagrams.

sixtyni yogini 11:49 AM  

Thanks 🦖 for enlightening me on the theme.
Haha I was so annoyed by the useless addition of ‘same “characters”’in films - clues.
Seems I’m still a green horn 🧩solver.
Easy either way and kinda fun - only after learning about “characters”

jberg 11:54 AM  

Two things I don't know much about: popular movies and car model names. So yeah, I had a lot of fun with this one, not. I have seen SINGIN IN THE RAIN, heard of all the rest except DAREDEVIL. So naturally I assumed we were dealing with sequels, not letterboxes.

For those who don't do cryptic puzzles, let me try to clear up the confusion. In a letterbox, all of the letters in the source word must be used, but they can be used more than once; and all of the letters in the answer word must be found in the source word. This type of clue was supposedly invented by Will Shortz, so maybe this puzzle appealed to him.

Anyway, it was nice to learn about Emma Edwards Green.

Anoa Bob 12:28 PM  

At first I thought the "same characters" thingie meant we would be dealing with anagrams. But then I noticed that FATAL ATTRACTION has one C while "Californication" has two. When I saw a repeat with two Ss in SISTER ACT and only one S in "Secretariat", my solve buzz was pretty much SPOILED. Since I don't know squat about movies and TV shows, this quickly became a NFM (not for me) puzzle.

Never seen the alleged TV show but I do like the Red Hot Chili Peppers so it was nice to be reminded of their 1999 Californication. (Even if you don't care for their music, the video is worth a watch for its phantasmagoric, dream-like effects.)

Liveprof 12:45 PM  

Beezer -- Ha! Thank you for the kind words! But please don't conflate me with The Joker -- such conflatulence would be unkind to him (or her).

TTrimble 12:45 PM  

Sure. Some may be insisting a little more than others, though. I'll say no more.

Yes, the story of tuning and temperament is very interesting. I remember when I first started teaching again, a few years back, and was feeling my oats a little. I wanted to show my students how you could estimate log to the base 2 of 3 by hand, using a little music theory. "Do any of you study music?" Sadly the answer was no. (Well, I'm going in anyway.)

I mentioned that the ratio of frequencies going up an octave is 2:1 and the ratio of frequencies going up a perfect fifth, say from C to G, is 3:2. (I say here perfect fifth, as understood by the ancient Greeks.) But on a piano, say, you go up 12 semitones to reach an octave, and 7 semitones to reach a fifth. So going through 7 octaves on a piano, you've gone through 84 semitones, which is the same as 12 fifths. If those ratios were exact, then this ought to mean that 2^7 = (3/2)^{12}, or that 2^{19} = 3^{12}. But that's not actually true; something's off. Had I digressed still further, I might have talked a little about musical solutions found to this offness, including mention of Pythagorean temperament, "wolfs", equal temperament, and so on.

I didn't do that deep a dive into all this, and I don't think I'd have the guts to ever attempt the discussion again, not at my university. But I did say that 2^{19} being a small percentage off from 3^{12} means that log to the base 2 of 3 is approximately 19/12. One student actually got into the discussion; I'm not sure about the others. I think she was an outlier. I'm glad no one asked if this was going to be on the test.

(Good luck with your kid and the violin. Not an easy instrument. Is there actually an easy instrument? I'm guessing no: whatever the instrument, they find a way to extract the maximal juice so that technical challenges will always be there.)

Gary Jugert 12:49 PM  

@Nancy 10:32 AM
Thanks Nancy. Once in awhile one of them works. I am still waiting for my call from WS to join their clue-writing team.

okanaganer 12:49 PM  

Funny how some non-theme answers always provoke a lot of comments... CLAVIER is to be expected I guess, but who woulda thought ETE would be such a controversy?

I wholeheartedly agree with Rex's dislike of the unnecessarily cross referenced clues/answers. DEE / REYNOLDS was particularly annoying today.

[SB: yd 0, no really odd words.

@TTrimble, it baffles me why the NYT didn't add a couple of more stats to SB. The only ones they show are the score / ranks bar -- which for any non-beginner isn't that useful or interesting except for Genius and QB -- and "You have found 25 words". Why don't they at least say "You have found 25 of 28 words, and 1 of 2 pangrams". I made a Javascript hack to add this to their page and it is a nice convenience.]

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Agreed. The weaknesses could’ve easily been improved with another pass at the fill, and some more challenging clueing. But the theme itself is really cool, and obviously challenging to put together. Big fan of the pangram.

jae 1:01 PM  

Yep easy and easier than yesterday’s for me. Knowing all the movies helped.

Joke before JEST was it for erasures.

I knew DEE but did not know her last name. In the series she was always “Sweet DEE”. That said, I only watched a few episodes...never really got into it.

After reading Xwordinfo I now know that the SB is a “letter bank” and that this puzzle theme is based on “exact letter banks”. Liked it a tad more than @Rex did.

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

I got the theme early on except I didn't understand the difference between just having the same characters and being full blown anagrams until later. When I saw SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, I thought, "Hmm, that looks a lot longer than "Stranger Things". I did the count and, wow, there's only a one letter difference, seemed larger than that. But that led me to count the others and I finally got the true theme. I did enjoy the play on "characters" as letters rather than roles.

Thanks, David Tuffs.

SFR 1:09 PM  

@Anonymous 9:38 AM Good catch!

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

The art of a crossword solve is a mix of pure trivia knowledge, wordplay, and also word structures. The answers cross for a reason. A good construction will have the right balance, so the more esoteric or trivia answers are deducible by filling in enough of the more “get-able” crosses, if you don’t know the answer outright. I don’t always know all the trivia, but I see the words or names take shape. And if you solve long enough, you’ll see the common names that have become crosswordese (used a lot for their consonant-vowel structure), and that takes the edge off a bit, too. Happy solving!

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

They are pangrams, which can still help the solve because you can see the limited set of letters you have to choose for your fill. Would’ve been more useful if that revealer was offered, though. But also a bummer the answers were too easy to suss without even getting the theme.

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

But that didn’t stop me from filling it in and laughing!

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

they aren’t anagrams though. they share the same characters but not in the same amount. Plus sister act uses the “s” twice from secretariat. It would’ve been a more passable theme if they were anagrams.

SharonAK 4:21 PM  

EASY??? Not much of a crossword puzzle since it must have been 85% or more proper nouns/trivia.

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

Daredevil is not a correct anagram of Riverdale. It has 2 D's and 1 R. Riverdale has 2 R's and 1 D.

MyMy 6:55 PM  

The constructor on XWordinfo explained that it was not anagrams:

"I'm a huge fan of letter bank wordplay (where two phrases aren't anagrams, but they do have all the same letters), and I'd been looking for a way to make a puzzle out of them for a while. I knew I wanted to refer in some way to letters as "characters," since that was the synonym that seemed most ripe for puns, but it took a while to get to the current iteration."

Anonymous 7:10 PM  

Puns/anagrams and cryptic puzzles are right up my alley, so I saw "Sister Act" / "Secretariat" right away, but the letter counts mismatched 9/11 due to dup letters. It clues "same characters",
not "anagram", but I'm sorely disappointed that none of the five themers are actually anagrams, it makes the theme seem tedious/pointless to me. IMHO they're not "pangrams" either, my dictionaries define pangram as a sentence using all 26 letters. Bah humbug.

NYDenizen 7:33 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Newboy 7:54 PM  

Finishing the afternoon by reflection on why the grid was so flummoxing & why I grow more appreciative of it as the hours pass. Clue 61a & Logic alone should have alerted me that a (1952 musical featuring the same characters as TV's "Stranger Things"?) would have a contemporary series peopled by 90 year-old cast members! Truly a strange thing indeed.

Phil 7:55 PM  

I can’t believe no one except anon commented on the RIVERDALE error. Including Rex

Phil 7:59 PM  

Ok reading more of the comments i see they’re not anagrams. Meh

Anonymous 8:15 PM  

@4:53- None of these are anagrams. That would’ve been a mean feat LOL.

NYDenizen 9:11 PM  

Wordle 507 2/6*

⬜R⬜A⬜ I 🟨S🟨E


albatross shell 11:05 PM  

TOTEM TETON TOTAL TETE TART plus VAMP and TART (over EVIL) added to the fun in this generally GOFAST solve.

Also enjoyed getting all the movies mostly from seeing the letter pattern with a tad of help from the limited letter selections once I got the theme.

Very solid theme. Quite amusing. No necessity for the theme to be any more than amusing although I can appreciate when there is more.

Solid construction. Only one double PoC. Better than average fill to say the least. Breezy fun. Good Wednesday.

None of the "letterbox" clues worked for any of the other "letterbox" answers. None of the theme answers were "letterboxes" for any of the other theme answers.

Anonymous 11:52 PM  

Some weak points but I thought it was pretty clever.

CDilly52 12:28 AM  

It’s late and t’all have said everything that needs saying. I set a personal best for Wednesday. Interesting exercise in construction but that’s it. Not that figuring out what films have exactly the same letters would be an easy thing, but then again, with computers, perhaps it is. This sounds like something my husband, a systems designer and programmer could have created. i can almost hear him saying, “sure, I would simply create a subroutine . . . at which time I would uncharitably and absolutely unintentionally start hearing the teacher sound from the Charlie Brown cartoons. Computers and I have a love-hate relationship.

Anyway, too easy, too light on interesting and sparkly fill, but mildly entertaining to see how many films have precisely the same letters. And I absolutely agree that “Gotti” was a dreadful film and yes, dang it Mai occurs during printemps, not ete!!!! As many times as Stravinsky and Le Sacre du printemps is referenced both in English and French in crosswords, avid solvers should know both words.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

I made the same "lapdance" mistake, and had the same chuckle.

thefogman 10:09 AM  

The theme is pretty ho-hum. And besides the theme content, the fill is pretty dull. Not a terrible puzzle just not very remarkable.

spacecraft 10:54 AM  

First of all: it is YET ONCE AGAIN time to play Reveille at top volume for our van Winkle-like syndilinker: he's taking another NAP. Still on Saturday! Wake up, you PRAT!

Now to the we HAVE to? A major misdirect in the theme itself?! No harm solve-wise; the titles were inferable with PLENTY of easy down crossings, but this just doesn't work. Plus, I started to write out the well-known musical at 61 across without realizing that the title actually contracts "SINGIN'." So I have an ink mess on the east side of that line. Who knew without lookin'?

More irritation: of all the bleedovers in the world, you pick GOTTI? YEESH! Sorry, David: double bogey.

Good old ADIEU served me well: YBBBY, YYBGB, GGGGG. Bird and 3 out of 4.

Burma Shave 11:37 AM  


and that DAREDEVIL VAMP’s JEST twenty,
she’s so VANE and SPOILED for action,
MYMY, her kids have PAPAS a PLENTY.


thefogman 11:52 AM  

Some people are saying the titles in the clues are anagrams of the answers. That is not correct. The answers use the same letters as the titles in the clues, but not in the same number. That is why the clue states “featuring the same characters” (i.e. letters) instead of an anagram of ———. For the gimmick to work, you need to give me true anagrams or forget about it. Plus, the movie titles should have something in common to really make it great. They don’t. Which is why it is okay, but just okay.

rondo 7:24 PM  

Yeah, same characters. Not really that interesting. Got the meaning right off.
Wordle birdie. After 200 of them, 150 done in 4 or less.

Diana, LIW 8:24 PM  

I ditto @Foggy.

And - twas easier than yesterday. MYMY

Diana, LIW

Anonymous 9:54 PM  

Let's rid ourselves of the NSA in real life and in crossword puzzles. Cringe-worthy every time it appears.

More of a Tuesday easy puzzle, and okay for me. I didn't mind the short stuff as much as Rex, probably because I haven't seen nearly as many puzzles as he has.

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