Bunyan's ox or Hoggett's pig / WED 11-1-2023 / Peak in the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain / Photographer Goldin

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Constructor: Steve Weyer

Relative difficulty: SO HARD (32:51-- easily double my usual Wednesday time)

THEME: ARS MAGNA — Phrases built from three sections of anagrams in a row

Theme answers:
  • [Actor Sean does some things that aren't nice] for ASTIN ISN'T A SAINT
  • [Silent film star Bara didn't want to leave us] for THEDA HATED DEATH
  • [Artist Edouard mistakenly proposed 11:00] for MANET MEANT TEN A.M.
  • [Fictional lawyer Perry cries "I give!"] for MASON MOANS, "NO MAS!"
  • [1545 treatise whose rearranged letters aptly suggest 17-, 26-, 44- and 59-Across] for ARS MAGNA, which anagrams to ANAGRAMS
    • Darn, this would hit so much harder if I had ever heard of this before

Word of the Day: IROC (Vintage Camaro owner's boast?) —
International Race of Champions (IROC) was a North American auto racing competition, created by Les Richter, Roger Penske and Mike Phelps, promoted as an American-motorsports equivalent of an all-star game. Despite its name, the IROC was primarily associated with North American oval track racing.
• • •

Hey squad, and happy First Wednesday of the Month, aka Malaika MWednesday! Today reminds me of the fact that Election Day (in the US) is not on the first Tuesday of November-- it's on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November. The idea being that you have at least one day in November to be reminded to vote.

But as I'm writing this, it is neither a Wednesday, nor November! It is October and it is HALLOWEEN!! I was a devil at one costume party, and Princess Jasmine at another. But the best costume I saw by far was a squad of ppl wearing safety vests and clutching a rope. They were dressed up as The Daycare Kiddos On A Walk!! Please let me know your costumes in the comments

I adore vine-ripened youths, I see them toddling about Brooklyn, carefully looking both ways at intersections, and am overcome with the desire to pinch their cheeks

There were an enormous number of proper nouns in this puzzle, which I assume will be the source of complaints. I'll join in. My rule for proper nouns is similar to my rule for puns-- if I know the proper noun, then I love to see it in a puzzle. If I've never heard of it, then I don't like it. I am very selfish that way. 

I did not know a lot of these (Attack of the Crab MonstersMUIR Woods, Bosch, DE SOTO, NAN Goldin, YANN Patel, Brandon Teena, Hoggett), but namely the four in the theme answers!! Who are these people?? Famous, I'm sure but I was clueless, wading through the puzzle like I was pushing my way towards the bathroom at a crowded party where I know only one person, and they've abandoned me to flirt with a stranger. I don't think I could name a single actor in a silent film regardless of whether they're a star... I don't think I could even the name of a single silent film! (I will flag that "silent film" is an awesome example of a retronym.) MANET sort of rings a bell as "the guy who is not Monet even though they have similar names" but 1800s French art is not my forte. We can also debate whether something like ASTIN / NAN is a Natick. Not knowing either of those people, I had "Nat" their originally. But then I saw the pattern in the theme answers which allowed me to puzzle (ha!) out that letter.

I'm sorry I don't have anything more to say-- I think this was a fine puzzle, it was just hard and filled with things I didn't know, and I like to solve easy puzzles filled with things that I know. I don't think it was a bad puzzle, but beyond "I got my ass kicked and at the end of the day it's a theme I've seen before" I don't have a lot to contribute. These were my final four squares, where I essentially ran the alphabet til I was told the puzzle was complete: 

This image includes ASS and ARSE which I swear was an accident

  • [1957's "Attack of the Crab Monsters," for one] for B MOVIE — Jerry Seinfeld's meme masterpiece Bee Movie came out when I was ten years old and I did not know the title was a pun. I simply thought it was an excellent name for a movie about bees. More movies should be named that way! Boat Movie or Boxing Movie or etc.
  • [Online zine] for EMAG — On my tombstone, I would like someone to engrave "EMAG is not a word"
  • [Six Flags ride named for a powerful animal] for EL TORO — I absolutely filled in "Eeyore" first here and I will not be ashamed of it.
  • [Tamale dough] for MASA — What's the singular of tamales? I thought it was tamal, but maybe that's just in Spanish. (The singular of paninis in English is panini, though in Italian it's panino.)
  • Can someone please explain what HYPOS are and why [Little shots?] works as a clue? Not seeing anything on Google.
xoxo Malaika

P.S. If this puzzle seems familiar to you, you are probably remembering this one.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:23 AM  

Hypo = abbreviated (little) form of hypodermic

Breakfast Tester 12:36 AM  

Does 15A qualify as a kealoa? (Asking for a friend.) ๐Ÿ™ƒ

okanaganer 12:45 AM  

Hi Malaika; you made me laugh a couple times, "ASS and ARSE which I swear was an accident" and EEYORE for the powerful animal.

Someone may have already beaten me to this but: HYPOS is short for "hypodermics" which are needles. Ergo short=="Little" and needles=="shots".

I always totally dread Halloween, until after the last trick'r'treaters leave when I think: that was kinda fun! About 275 this year (I bought 300 bars and have a few left over after giving out multiples after 8:30). Not quite Joe Dipinto's 1000, but it was tiring especially when I had to pee at the height of the traffic. I started the puzzle at 8:30 and was interrupted a few times, all by teenagers. It actually seemed pretty average difficulty. I can't say I was that trilled by the anagrammed 5 letter words, but maybe I'm just having theme fatigue.

Odd typeover: for "Peninsula south of the Pyrenees" I immediately entered ISTRIA because I remembered it from my visit to Croatia although it's south of the Alps. And by odd chance it was so close to the correct answer, it held me up for a bit.

[Spelling Bee: Tues 0, last word this 5er. QB 7 straight!]

Photomatte 12:55 AM  

I solved this puzzle on Tuesday night, which means I can properly use the expression "at the end of the day, it was pretty easy." Using that phrase - at the end of the day - to really mean "ultimately," or "when it comes down to it" is just silly. Every time I hear someone say something like "at the end of the day ... yadda yadda yadda," I always wonder what they were doing at breakfast time.
Also, are we at the point where an IROC - a car from the 80s - is now considered a vintage Camaro? I dunno, I always think of 1969 or 1970 as the two "vintage" years for the Camaro. Or should I say, "at the end of the day, I consider the 1969 Camaro to be the most valuable" Because, you know, at breakfast I was leaning towards the 1985 IROC :-) :-) :-)

Anonymous 1:10 AM  

Little shots - HYPOdermic. Har har.

jae 1:20 AM  

A skosh easier than medium, but then, unlike Malaika, I knew all the PPP except YANN. After briefly pondering what a 16th century algebra text had to do with this puzzle I had a delightful epiphany. Wacky anagrams work for me, liked it.

@Malaika - HYPO is short for hypodermic needle which is used for giving shots.

Anonymous 1:27 AM  

HYPOS is short for hypodermic needles, so they are "little (wink wink, nudge nudge) shots".

chrisborgia 1:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jfknorth 1:44 AM  

Perhaps hypos is short for hypodermic needles which you Americans call shots? And even though I actually knew Theda and Manet and Astin and Mason this one it was still way too hard for a Wednesday.

Anonymous 1:50 AM  

I have nothing kind to say about this puzzle.

Anonymous 1:50 AM  

Hypodermic injections -- hypos being the "little" version

Anonymous 1:52 AM  

Hypo here is short for hypodermic, so little here means short for and it’s “shot” because a hypodermic is the type of needle you use to give medical injections. one of seven billion terrible clues with terrible answers and this wretched puzzle.

Breakfast Tester 2:23 AM  


In the April puzzle that you referenced with the same anagram gimmick, the entry for 16A is B TEAM which is in the same spot as today's 16A B MOVIE... pretty spooky! ๐Ÿ‘ป

Anonymous 2:40 AM  

I think with HYPOS, they're saying it's a shortened way to refer to a hypodermic needle which feels stretchy to say the least.

KJGooster 2:47 AM  

HYPOS are hypodermic needles, to give little shots with. And if you want some light reading, the Wikipedia page for Ars Magna has a link to a PDF of the original -- 40 chapters, all in Latin.

Not really a fan of the theme but I plowed through it OK. Longform KEALOA right up front in the NW. And I enjoyed the little Spanish Inquisition in the SW, with EL TORO crossing IBERIA AND DESOTO.

Anonymous 2:57 AM  

I feel like even if you don't know Sean Aston from the Lord of the Rings ... or the Goonies ... or Rudy ... or Stranger Things ... or Encino Man (lol) ... he appears in the NYT crossword enough that you'd have *some* familiarity with him?

JJK 3:07 AM  

This was really hard for me in some parts, I love that Malaika also found it “so hard”. One could have eventually gotten the themers, and I actually think the three anagrams thing is pretty clever, but the crosses were really hard in certain places. TAMERS? TEENA? NOONER??

I was very familiar with all the theme names (being of a certain age) but does anybody else think there’s a disconnect in that ASTIN, MANET, and MASON are all last names, whereas THEDA is a first name?

Malaika, HYPOS is short for HYPOdermic needles, used to give shots.

Anonymous 3:14 AM  

This was a horrid Wednesday. My time made yours look good (it has been a very long time since I’ve been even half as stumped).

As for hypos, the connection I made was hypodermic needles (ie you might feel a little prick/pinch).

Anonymous 3:32 AM  

Hypos = “small” (short slang for) hypodermic needle. I know this usage from Star Trek TOS.

Andrew Z. 4:14 AM  

DNF as I just couldn’t get the SW corner. ARS MAGNA is the revealer??? WTF?!

Btw, I think HYPOS is short for hypodermic needle. (Another crummy answer in a long list of them.)

Anonymous 5:51 AM  

26 ACROSS is a bit of a cheat, since Theda Bara’s name (obviously not her real name) was an anagram of Arab Death to begin with.

Conrad 5:54 AM  

I tried to solve without reading the clues for the long acrosses, and almost succeeded. I had NAt instead of NAN at 5D and that made ASTIN hard to see until I read the clue. Never heard of ARS MAGNA and I didn't get that there were three-for-one anagrams until I came here.

Areawoman 6:40 AM  

I was enjoying picturing Rex dressed up like Princess Jasmine at a party until I realized it was Malaika today...

SouthsideJohnny 6:43 AM  

I’m surprised at the amount of love this one is getting thus far. I thought it was atrocious. A strong candidate for the biggest stinker of the year (absolutely in the top three). Geez, this makes some of the slop we were served in October actually look tolerable. It’s really kind of sad to see how far the mighty have fallen.

Scott H 6:46 AM  

To hand out candy and ultra violence, I dressed up as Alex from A Clockwork Orange.

Wanderlust 6:52 AM  

I may be the first commenter not to answer the HYPO question.

Pretty easy for me, which proves Malaika’s point about PPP. I knew all four themed people, but I didn’t know the interesting factoid about THEDA Bara, thanks @Anonymous 5:51. I looked it up on Wikipedia, which says the origin of her stage name is disputed, but publicists for her 1917 film Cleopatra noticed the anagram to Arab Death and claimed she was “the daughter of an Arab sheikh and a Frenchwoman, born in the Sahara.” She was actually the daughter of a Jewish businessman, born in Cincinnati. But her mother was Swiss, so there’s some exoticism for you.

As for the puzzle, not my favorite type. As Rex would say, these kind of answers need to go really big on the wackiness to land, and only one did for me. MASON MOANS “NO MAS” made me guffaw. He always won, so presumably he never was on the ropes like Roberto Durรกn.

The other theme answers were kinda meh for me, and the revealer just plopped. Yeah, ARS MAGNA is an anagram of anagrams, but I’ve never heard of it so it was a whiff for me.

Malaika, we had an alien themed Halloween party and I went wrapped up in dying vines and gourds and other autumnal detritus, playing a denizen of a planet that plants seeds on their bodies so they always have food at hand. My people live for only a year, and I told everyone I was nearing my death and invited them to eat anything they wanted from my body. Some did pick Brussels sprouts off a stalk hanging from my neck.

+1 for loving your Eeyore guess for the powerful animal.

Rob 7:09 AM  

Cute theme, but that cross at 26A/26D is real rough. THRUM isn't a very common word, and THEDA can't be inferred unless you already have the other anagrams. I didn't understand 29D (DOT) at first and initially tried DHETA.

Lewis 7:13 AM  

So, after yesterday’s scary movie theme, I almost put in my post the name of the first scary movie I saw as kid – a movie that mightily frightened me – but decided against it because I thought it would be too obscure. That movie? “Attack of the Crab Monsters”! Now I wish I posted that, because what are the chances of anyone running into this title two days in a row?

Iris 7:32 AM  

There were a few names I didn’t know, but the ones that were anagrammatized seemed easy, which opened up the entire puzzle. I did feel putting a fictional character in with real people was a theme violation. Malaika, please look up Manet. You’ll immediately realize you do know Dรฉjeuner Sur L’Herbes, a hugely shocking painting in its day.

kitshef 7:37 AM  

Cut-and-paste from Sunday: Anagram- (or letter bank-) based puzzles are almost always among my least-favorite, and today is no exception.

Challenging for me – more so than an average Friday. The only WoEs were the revealer ARS MAGNA and ROSITA, so the difficulty presumably came from the clues. Although I only remember TAMERS specifically giving me trouble. Some days are just hard.

Why the heck was TEENA clued as the documentary, rather than more simply as the person?

Lewis 7:54 AM  

Wow at Steve’s finds, and wow at his constructing chops, coming up with an answer set with hardly a whiff of junkness, considering that he had an uber-high 68 theme squares to build around. This on his debut puzzle, making me hunger for what he comes up with next.

I loved the gorgeous words THRUM and GLITCH, not to mention the sweet quintet of four-letter semordnilaps – MACS, ABUT, EMAG, ADOS, and RAGA. But what really struck me was the massive collection – 15! – of schwa enders, to wit: MAUNA LOA, TINA, RAGA, IBERIA, ARS MAGNA, HYENA, MASA, ROSITA, RASA, TIARA, COPA, AVIA, TEENA, BETA, ESTA. I don’t ever remember a 15 x 15 having 15 before.

There were several areas I had to return to while solving, making my work-hungry brain very happy.

Steve, I adore language quirks, and your puzzle had me “Dang!”-ing here and “Hah!”-ing there. A big yes. Thank you for a most splendid outing!

Dr.A 7:54 AM  

I’m late to this party (PST) but does anyone care to explain why MAC is a sierra runner? I cannot figure that one out. Also can we put IMAM to rest? I find that to be such crosswordese. Such a huge Meh. I also felt the first name in with the the last names was very incongruent and then what on earth does the revealer even mean? Very weird. And by weird, I mean bad. Sorry constructor. Thanks Malaika. Such a cute pic!!

Anonymous 7:56 AM  


Bob Mills 8:04 AM  

Got the theme, which I thought was clever. Did the anagrams OK. But still didn't finish it because of the OMS/BMOVIE cross.

What in heaven's name are OMS? Meditation sounds? I'm 82 years old and have never heard anyone say, "om," while meditating (or not). I went through the entire alphabet, and O-S didn't pan out (because I had "apia" instead of AVIA for the Reebok competitor).

Andy Freude 8:07 AM  

Great write-up, Malaika. My solving experience was almost entirely different from yours, since so much was in the wheelhouse of this old, white, hetero cis-male. But our finishes were exactly the same. Never heard of IROC, and I just don’t understand the MACS clue. What’s a Sierra runner?

Ando 8:11 AM  

Having to rearrange letters to reveal "ANAGRAMS" is like solving the secret code to find that it's "DON'T FORGET TO DRINK YOUR OVALTINE"

mmorgan 8:13 AM  

@okanaganer — 275? Really? I’m not sure whether to feel grateful or jealous. I had my usual zero, which is fine with me, bah humbug.

Puzzle was easy, the PPP I didn’t know came easily. I never really like anagrams but these were almost bordering on cute. I love the image of Raymond Burr howling “No mas!”

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

Since Rex isn’t “here” today, here’s an Elvis Costello song that connects to today’s puzzle: https://youtu.be/8VZxgy6fBJ4?si=AglZk_rXWrl83Fr5

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

Oh look, another crossword puzzle constructor who thinks he is creating questions for trivia night at the local pub. What a waste of time. I could stump the whole world too if I googled a bunch of obscure nonsense and crammed it into a grid. Congrats on ruining my wednesday morning.

Doug 8:34 AM  

Somehow I think we've already found the worst puzzle of November (sorry Steve Weyer). This was just painful to solve. I'm a big fan of the silent film era and I needed to get Theda Bara on the crosses. I had to get a lot on the crosses, actually. Had to cycle through vowels to get "Teena" and "Lei," which is never a sign of a fun puzzle. Said "what the hell is that?" way too many times.

Malaika, if you've never seen the 1995 Best Picture nominated taking pig film "Babe," about Farmer Hoggett and his sheep pig, well, you should put that at the top of your queue pronto! I mean, c'mon, "Oscar nominated talking pig movie!" It's great!

Lewis 8:37 AM  

When my cat Wiley meows, it is always a mystery as to what it means. It never makes sense. There is no context to explain it. Every time. I’m still trying to crack the code. But I’m content to believe that he is brilliant beyond measure.

Bernie 8:48 AM  

This actually felt very doable to me as someone who is not super great at crosswords. Don't know who Theda Bara is, but I worked that all out. Tamers/Macs got me though. I just couldn't land on that M. When I did, it felt like a real "oh duh" moment.

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

It’s so interesting how different various swords can be for different people - I finished this in just over 10 minutes, which is much much faster than my usual Wednesday time!

RooMonster 9:17 AM  

Hey All !
I believe that HYPOS has been adequately answered...

Was waiting for a RexRant on this one. The first Themer seems amiss with the A by itself. Then again, the last Themer splits the final fiver.

Large open corners, which I know weren't easy to fill, so kudos on that. Four 15's, again nice.

Had my stupidest DNF I can recall today, had MoUNtLOA for MAUNALOA. Wow, is about an I can say on that one. How does the silly brain not know the MAUNA part of the namesake KEALOA? Dang.

Anyway, November is here. Daylight savings ends soon. Leave the darn clocks alone! Switch to one time and leave it there.

No F's (alright, this is like the 76th puz these past weeks without any F's. That's a BIG NO. Fix it, puz people! ๐Ÿ˜

Rex Modem 9:17 AM  

Sierra was an operating system for Macintosh computers.

Beezer 9:25 AM  

I guess I can see why many did not like this puzzle but I guess it was in my wheelhouse (which always helps for liking) and I thought it was clever and fun. Maybe my mind is too filled with useless trivia…you know, things like IBERIA, John MUIR, MANET, explorers like DESOTO, and silent movie stars. Setting that aside, I thought there were quite a few good word play clues.

I also like it when I learn something and today I Googled and learned about Brandon TEENA. What a horrible tragedy.

@Andy Freude, Mac computers have run on the Sierra IOS in the past. I think the current one is Sonoma.

efrex 9:25 AM  

Oof! This was whatever the antithesis of "wheelhouse" is for me. Slogged through, but got completely hung up on the TAMERS/MACS/IROC trio. For those not getting the MACS clue: Sierra is the name of the previous operating system for Macintosh computers. That's a Saturday-level clue for a section that's already pretty beefy. Not a car person, so IROC meant nothing to me, and, well, everything Malaika said applied to me too.

Interesting idea, Mr. Weyer, but not my cuppa. Sorry!

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

For those asking, Sierra was the name of an operating system for Apple Macs, thus Sierra 'ran' Macs. (And IROC / IRock! was a kind of Camaro, like GTO was a kind of Pontiac.)

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

I often think that crosswords mirror the theme from “Slumdog Millionaire ;” a series of absurdly difficult questions/clues that somehow speak to one person’s life experience.
Some days I find the day’s puzzle extremely hard, only to check the blog and comments to find that others found it easy or stupid easy and decide that dementia has started.
I found today’s puzzle one of the easiest Wednesday puzzles in a long time. It just spoke to me.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  


Joe Dipinto 9:33 AM  

@okananager – my 1000? Not getting what you mean.

andrew 9:41 AM  

Corrupt SEEDY C needs a HYPO Warning. A far deadlier “health” organization than yesterday’s nod to trigger-happy, pol-buying, gun “safety” advocates.

pabloinnh 9:41 AM  

If you like ANAGRAMS, this one's for you, and I like ANAGRAMS so I liked it just fine. Had to look twice to see that ASTIN had been rearranged twice and thought that was pretty cool and since I knew THEDA and MANET and MASON those went in posthaste. Nice trick.

Don't have a MAC so the Sierra connection took a while.

After I graduated from college I needed a car. I wanted a sports car, like an MGB or a Triumph or something but my Mom thought they were dangerous so I wound up with a '68 Camaro with a 327 engine, a 4-barrell carb, and 4 on the floor, which was the hottest car I have ever owned. Wish I still had it, it would be worth a nice piece of change.

Made the acquaintance of Det. Bosch, Mr. TEEENA, and Srta. ROSITA today, but they were all fairly crossed.

We had four (4) trick-or-treaters, my son, his wife, and their kids. Just right.

I thought your wordplay was pretty impressive, SW. Splendid Work on your part, and thanks for all the fun.

Liveprof 9:47 AM  

That's odd -- I thought HYPO was what you get when you hit the wrong key on your hypewriter.

Malaika -- I loved the art lesson on MANET! ("the guy who is not Monet"). Way back when I was an undergrad at Brandeis we were on that old trivia contest show the GE College Bowl and were up against U of Chicago. We won, but it was very close, and it later emerged that we wrongly received credit for Monet when it should have been Manet (or vice versa). So the producers decided to stage a rematch the following week. Not to crow (much), but Brandeis won the rematch handily (and waltzed off with the prize Mo-ney).

[If memory serves, we went on to win the maximum four additional contests including a victory over a hapless Arizona State squad by the score of 510 to minus 15. Ouch!]

Friends Marc and Gerry went down to NYC to watch one of the matches in person at the studio. While in the city, they tried to sneak into the Museum of Modern Art without paying, but Gerry tripped over some barricade and they were caught. As the museum guards rushed towards them, Marc threw his hands up in the air and started shouting "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" They were taken into the manager's office and explained they were starving students who just wanted to visit the museum but couldn't afford the fee. The manager graciously invited them in as guests.

I lost track of Gerry, but Marc went on to become a very successful doctor/researcher. Sadly, he passed away last year. One of the funniest men I ever met.

Diane Joan 9:56 AM  

Hello Malaika,
I thought the puzzle was clever but I could see that someone would be annoyed if they don’t like anagrams. Anyway I didn’t dress up but my grandsons were in costume as a cute dinosaur and a zombie Patrick Mahomes. I went to see the older one’s school parade and the Addams Family costumes were great. All trick or treating was done by 7:30 in my neighborhood. Lots of extra treats were leftover and our non-food items were a hit!

Gary Jugert 9:56 AM  

That was fun. Didn't know lots of stuff, but crosses to the rescue. I need to remember these days when things fall into place easily when the days inevitably arrive where I need to research ten things in a puzzle.

I got the joke on MASON and went back and filled in the other three even though I knew none of the other people. The joys of spelling.

Who knew ELMO had a Spanish girlfriend? How can he get one and I can't?

Tee-Hee: DARN they swear a lot in the NYTXW. We needed @Malaika to "accidentally" bring us her ASS and ARSE today. Is she the NYTXW slush pile editor? Hmmmmm.


1 Bring me a horrible meal.
2 What the Pyrenees do.
3 Those who work from forest.
4 "I'm orange due to a spray tan mishap."
5 Suspicious wives.


My Fascinating Crossword Uniclue Keepsake from Last Year: ... to be fair, he did put a lot of cheese on his asparagus. VEG DIED FAT.


Gary Jugert 9:58 AM  

For a couple of you asking: Sierra is one of the bygone operating systems for Macintosh computers.

Sam 9:59 AM  

Sean ASTIN played Samwise Gamgee in LOTR. Big name.

It’s YANN Martel not Patel.

Charlotte 10:02 AM  

@Wanderlust that sounds like an amazing party!

Didn't we have a similar anagram puzzle on Sunday? I was surprised to see a similar theme so soon!
The Goonies is my favorite movie, so I knew Sean Astin (and he's clued quite often in NYT), but I got tripped up because I had "aintasaint" instead of "isntasaint" for too long.
The clue on 57D made me laugh...darn!!!

Nancy 10:08 AM  

I was fine with this -- a kind of wordplay puzzle I always enjoy -- until I got to the revealer. And then I said: "What on earth...???"

First of all, I've never once heard of ARS MAGNA. (I have heard of Magna Carta, but that was an entirely different century.)

But even if I knew it, I wouldn't understand its relationship to the theme answers. Where are the "T"s in the first three themers to be found in ARS MAGNA? Where's the "H" of the 2nd themer? I do not get this at all!!!

That does not prevent it from being a quite enjoyable puzzle that was fun to solve. My favorite answer was THEDA HATED DEATH. Don't we all?

A few non-theme-based asides. BIGNO. Yes, that's exactly what I give you when you threaten to paint my walls green.

Wonder Woman's TIARA is a weapon? You don't say. Like James Bond's watch or ring or cigarette lighter or whatever it was, who can remember, turning into a switchblade? Something like that, maybe?

Lovely clue for TAMERS, btw.

Now off to find out what this lively but puzzling puzzle is all about.

mathgent 10:16 AM  

Malaika displayed a nearly-identical puzzle from earlier this year. I must have done it but it didn't ring a bell.

Impressive coming up with a name and two anagrams of it that form a sensible phrase. Very nice puzzle.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

and MACS run an operating system known as Sierra.

egsforbreakfast 10:25 AM  

Malaika. I went as the two state solution. It's hard to describe my costume, but it involved a knife through my head, a fright wig and angel wings among other things.

Gotta run, but I liked this puzzle a lot more than most people seem to have. Thanks, Steve Weyer.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

It always frosts me that Chevy usurped IROC. It's true, that series used Camaros for years. And they were fine race cars. But the inaugural season of IROC was genuinely international in scope. And that year they ran infinitely more sophisticated Porsche 911s-- RSRs specifically. The winner that year was none other than Mark Donahue, an immensely talented driver and pretty good engineer.

Two things no one will care about: He was born in Haddon Township, NJ--about 7 miles from where I sit. And more important, when Porsche's head of Can-Am development development asked Donahue if the 1500 Plus horsepower 917-30 created for the series had enough power, Donahue famously replied "it will never have enough power until I can spin the wheels at the end of a straightaway in high gear."

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Both the theme and the fill felt like a throwback to something that would run 10-15 years ago.

Carola 10:45 AM  

Hats off to Steve Weyer for finding a way to make ANAGRAMS fun. After this creative effort and the recent letter bank puzzle, I'll need to rethink my auto-kvetching about this kind of theme. Even though the anagrammed words only had five letters, the answers weren't obvious to me, and I enjoyed figuring them out. My favorite was Perry MASON's NO MAS - apparently Hamilton Burger finally got the best of him.

Do-over: a Blue ox before BABE. Help from previous puzzles: IROC, COPA, BTS. No idea: ROSITA, TEENA.

Chip Hilton 10:49 AM  

MoCS seemed so sensible - snakes squirming across the open plains. I should’ve seen the Mac computer connection, but alas . . . I learned today that I’ve been spelling two words incorrectly for quite some time: It’s not THEtA and it’s not RoSA. Live & learn.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

I’m with you. MACS? Oh! Typing this just made me get it. Sierra is a Mac OS. Doh!

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

The current operating system for an iMac is called Sierra. That answer eluded me, too. Kept seeing some kind of X-Games athlete. Forehead slapping moment when it was finally revealed.

jberg 11:05 AM  

I didn't know ASTIN, but I guess I've seen his name because once I got it I sort of recognized it; and once I got the rest of the answer I could put the other three themers in with no crosses. I did know NAN Goldin. She became famous for exhibiting candid photos of her friends who were sometimes drunk, taking drugs, and/or nude. More recently, after the opioid crisis (which hit some of her friends) she began crusading to have museums change the name of anything named "Sackler," since the Sackler family had made opioid drugs and promoted them unethically. A group of about 50 would go into a museum, preferably one where Goldin's work was in the collection, and have a sit-in. There's a very good documentary about it, "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed."

I somehow didn't read the part about rearranging the letters in the revealer, so I came here befuddled. Now that we know, we can expect to see "anagram of anagrams" as a clue sometime soon.

I'm a PC user, so my Sierra runners were "skiS." That was the hardest part of the puzzle.

Malaika, two costumes in one evening! I'm impressed.

Newboy 11:17 AM  

I have enjoyed PANDA puzzles greatly over the years and still dip back into xwordinfo for the excellent stash it makes available, but ironically I sat mystified at ARS MAGNA. Luckily, Malaika saved my morning….ISN’T she A SAINT? Great puzzle by another debut constructor, so even though I personally felt pretty silly for missing the extra theme fun, it was a shining moment in Crossworld. Thanks to Rex and Will and Steve and Malaika whose cumulative contributions make me smile even though we face the darkness of standard time on top of yet another election.

jb129 11:20 AM  

I always think of Rosemary in "Rosemary's Baby" playing Scrabble to get "Roman Castevet" when I see anagrams.

So now that I've shared that nonsense, I'm going to say that I liked this puzzle a lot.

Fun stuff, thanks, Steve!

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

As a rollercoaster junkie, EL TORO was a gimme. That said, it was a very New York-specific clue.
(It's a GREAT coaster, BTW.)

Whatsername 11:28 AM  

Not a bad idea for a theme but as Malaika said, if you did not know the themer names it would’ve been next to impossible. I did know them and had a tough time of it. Not with the theme answers but because of the crush of proper names and trivia surrounding them. Really. Right at 40% by my calculations. I’m going to use the word unacceptable. And the revealer meant absolutely nothing, never heard of it and had no desire to unscramble it. I did have to smile though at 1A, a cat’s meow meaning IM HUNGRY. That’s pretty much 24 hours a day at my house. They’re furry four-legged bottomless pits.

GILL I. 11:34 AM  

OK...so my first question involved 18D and wondering very audibly why TAMERS was an answer. Why in the world would wild horses attempt to drag anything away?
Grumble, grumble.
ARS MAGNA. I can't remember if I like ANAGRAMS (or however you spell them) or not. Today they grew on me. THEDA HATED DEATH. Squeal of delight. She, and everybody else! I also liked that ASTIN ISN'T A SAINT. I guess ISNTA can be one word here.
The hardest one for me was the ending for MANET MEANT ...... All the downs leading to what he meant had my head doing some spins. You see...I didn't know TEENA and trying to figure out what is celebrated in Hawaii. on May first. POI? KOI? BIG NO? I had MANET mistakenly proposing the A TEAM. Erase, erase, erase.
Peet's coffee and thinking cap and cheating solved that problem.
I wasn't particularly happy with the plethora of proper nouns scattered hither and yon. They seemed to pop up in crucial spots. Please don't do that. Oh...and don't get me started with THRUM. Is that really a monotonous hum? THRUM..really?
But in the end, like @Beezer, I did think this clever. My grandmother taught me some ARS MAGNA when she had hoped to finesse my horrid ENGLISH. Like MASON, I would yell NO MAS! But she made them fun and it only confirmed my beliefs that the English language is strange.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Definitely toughest Tuesday in memory. And weird… But perhaps ultimately satisfying.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Sierra is an OS of Apple. Tired of imam but not emag? Emag is WAY worse…

Glo 12:43 PM  

This puzzle was a BIGNO.

Tom T 12:49 PM  

Delayed a little by confusing Bara with Gabler. (And MANET with the artist he is not.)

Clever puzzle.

Mitchell brown 12:53 PM  

So let me get this straight. If the clues refer to things YOU don't know, that makes it a bad puzzle??

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

There are days when you start the crossword and immediately know you hate it and everything about it. This was one of those days. This puzzle felt like the guy at trivia night who insists on wearing a fedora because that is the extent of his personality. Blech.

DuckReconMajor 1:16 PM  

I knew El Toro from the Youtuber ElToroRyan, like @11:20Anon I go down a roller coaster rabbit hole every once in a while.

I knew IROC as the racing series like in Malaika's posted definition, because my dad is a huge motorsports nerd. It seemed extremely obscure, especially for a Wednesday. But I have learned from this thread it was much more well known as a Camaro trim in the 80s.

Speaking of, I'm not as much older than Malaika as I'd thought. I can at least say I wasn't an adult yet when the aforementioned Bee Movie released lol.

bocamp 1:37 PM  

Thx, Steve, for the ANAGRAMSy scramble! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Hi Malaika; good to see you again! ๐Ÿ˜Š


What I thot to be a fairly easy and smooth solve, turned out to be a couple of minutes over avg time.

Was pretty much on S. W.'s wavelength all the way, with the exception of ARS MAGNA, which needed all the crosses.

Took me a while post-solve to fully grok the theme.

Fun adventure; liked it a lot! :)
Will Nediger's Mon New Yorker was relatively easy (1+ NYT Sat.).
On to The New Yorker Sun. cryptic by Stella Zawistowski. ๐Ÿคž
Peace ๐Ÿ•Š ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness ~ Freudenfreude & a DAP to all ๐Ÿ‘Š ๐Ÿ™

Anoa Bob 1:40 PM  

Not a big fan of anagrams. They seem more like random happenstance than creative ideas, the kind of stuff that computer programs can crank out until EL TORO comes home. Here's a site that specifically anagrams names.

Once again I must come to the defense of the HYENA (27D). As here, it often gets clued as a scavenger but it really is a predator. It competes with lions for prey. They are mortal enemies.

The HYENAs will make a loud ruckus after a kill---that's why they are sometimes called laughing HYENAs---the lions will here this and come and chase away the HYENAs and get an easy meal. Nature photographers will then arrive and their photos will show the lions feasting and the HYENAs circling around looking like scavengers waiting for the lions to leave.

More on this in Ethologist Hans Kruuk's The Spotted Hyena: A Study of Predation and Social Behavior. By the way, the females are the larger, dominant members of the species.

JennyO 1:54 PM  

A hearty Thank You to everyone who explained Sierra runners!

okanaganer 1:55 PM  

@Joe Dipinto, I thought I remembered you posting recently that you typically get about a thousand trick r treaters. I may have gotten the wrong person, but with a quick look back I can't even find the post, whoever it was. I hope I'm not imagining it?

okanaganer 2:21 PM  

Sorry Joe, it was @Lewis who has a thousand! (yesterday). Stupid brain.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

This puzzle made me do some research on TEENA... wow, what a completely horrifying incident. Brandon, may you rest in peace.

68Charger 2:28 PM  

What a low budget movie it was, but when I first saw it on tv, it scared the heck out of me! I'll aways remember Russell Johnson, who would later play the Professor on Gilligan's island, being in it!!
There is some interesting trivia on IMDB regarding this classic!

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

That was the only one I had trouble with today.

Tom Q. 3:10 PM  

Well, I'll be the outlier who liked the puzzle. I thought a word that anagrammed to ANAGRAMS as revealer was pretty funny.

Of course, I am old, so most of the material was innate knowledge to me.

Theda Bara was history long before my youth, but she's always been one of the most-cited silent stars.

Sean Astin was a prime actor in a hugely famous film trilogy that I thought everyone had seen (as well as the offspring of famous actors).

Perry Mason was on HBO MAX (sorry...just MAX) within the past year.

And Life of Pi was a huge best-seller only a decade or so ago (with an Oscar-winning movie adaptation), so I don't get why YANN Martel is so obscure.

Brandon TEENA I guess more qualifies, but Hillary Swank did win an Oscar playing the role, so, again, unless we're saying crosswords should limit themselves to things prominent only in the past 10 years, it seems fully fair.

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

Great write-up. So honest and refreshing, thanks to M. Thanks to @Lewis for revealing the schwa endings. Are all of these theme answers truly anagrams? THEDAHATEDDEATH is —HATED and DEATH are anagrams of THEDA . The words following MANET and MASON also fit the theme but the ASTIN words are not anagrams of ASTIN.

Regardless of that, ok puzzle!

johnk 3:36 PM  

Short of editing. No, I mean Shortz of editing.
Look it up:
"carb / (kษ‘หb) / noun, short for carbohydrate"
The clue needed an abbreviation indicator --e.g., "Short of starch, as some foods?" 34A, 53A & 62D had it, why not 9A?

On a positive note, I knew all of the proper nouns except one, which is a rarity for me.

CDilly52 3:42 PM  

This was a fun, clever and funny near disaster. Malaika, I got stuck in the same place, but only lacked a single letter and had to spend a couple minutes figuring it out. I would have listed this as easy but for one little square.

I was really sailing through this puzzle, so SO pleasantly surprised. The names were all in my wheelhouse. I got a kick from the reference to the Hawaiian-Emperor chain because it is the home (as several have already commented) of the famous KeaLoas, i.e. both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are located there. That alone made me chuckle. Such a clever little crossworders’ “in joke.” Classy.

In the early acrosses, I had no reference for “Attack of the Crab Monsters,” but was at least 80% confident it was a horror flick. I left it alone to see what might develop as I moved on.

Kind of an odd solve pattern because I was whooshing across the while puzzle except the right side of the themers. Rather than stop to try to suss out the trick, I made a conscious decision just to keep going, across only. I was rather chuffed to get the Camaro owners brag, “IROC” instantly. The across only thing worked a treat today. I rarely do this, either across or down only.

When I got to the bottom, I just went back to the top to fill in with downs. In the NW corner, I was finished. In the NE corner I only lacked 16A and as soon as I read 9D asking for Trail Blazers’ org., the B in NBA confirmed that “Crab Monsters” is a B MOVIE. The rest if that top NE piece was done, and it quickly told me all I needed to know about the theme. It’s a familiar one to me as a 60+ year solver; been there and done that. Just see what else you can do with the letters in a base word. In this case it’s an actor’ or artist’s name.

So I re-engaged my whoosher, and glided off to complete my mission. I was thwarted in exactly the same spot as Malaika but I lacked only the M in TAMERS/MAC.

The real near killer for me was the M in TAMERS and MAC. That M was my last square and I argued with myself for several minutes and ran the alphabet twice before tentatively hitting the M button and surprise of surprises, getting the happy music!

Neither across nor down would help me make a final decision. Wild animal tamers, sure but we think of horses being broken and trained, not tamed and wild lions and tigers being (shamefully and often cruelly) tamed for entertainment purposes. And yes, my lawyer-brain makes me overthink things. A lot.

As for the MAC, my family all use Apple/MAC products. I have an iPhone but have always had to have a PC for work because there were no Apple products that were easily compatible with all the systems in the state agencies and courts, state and federal for a very long time. It was too complicated to try to manage PC at work and MAC at home. I was today years old when I learned of the Sierra OS. Thank you earlier folks who enlightened me.

Sure, this theme has been done and done. But I don’t care because for me the theme sat a distant third chair to minimal junk and clever word play! I was stunned to see that this is a debut. Steve Weyer, keep ‘em comin’! Puh-lease! I laughed at MANET MEANT TEN AM. It must have taken quite a while to find words of the same length that would all anagram to use every letter two times. I enjoyed the solve and your constructor’s notes. Great job!

Phil 3:57 PM  


Short shot is actually a typo for a nonPC phrase known to have caused many barroom brawls involving height-challenged patrons.

Anyway the answer is TYPO

Crosses being STRUM for monotonous hum and SHEDA HATED DEATH for 26across. Sheda of course being a rather obscure rapper.

Good luck and enjoy

dgd 4:01 PM  

Not really a cheat although the urban myth you mentioned may have inspired Theda etc anagram. Origins like you claimed for Theda Bara are usually fake and so it is with this one. Her first and middle names at birth were from the daughter of of Aaron Burr, Theodosia Burr, and it was made shorter and more exotic for her screen name. Arab Death was invented after the fact as is common to create the false origin. Anagrams aren’t exactly a recent invention. BTW her sister also took the screen last name of Bara.

Joe Dipinto 4:19 PM  

@okanaganer – I looked back at yesterday's posts later and figured out that you were referring to Lewis. 1,000 trick-or-treaters! Glad it wasn't me :-)

dgd 4:20 PM  

The Wikipedia entry I saw says she was born Theodosia Burr Goodman. She was named after Aaron Burr’s daughter. That’s undisputed. As I said before the studio just took her given names and made them shorter and more exotic I doubt very much some publicist would come up with the phrase Arab death, which isn’t really a thing in English, and create a name out of it, coincidentally being very similar to her given names! The reverse, creating the name Theda Bara first then hitting on the anagram which as anagrams often are sounds off.

Anonymous 4:24 PM  

As to imam vs. Armagh totally agree that emac is way worse. At least imam is actually in common use in the real world!

Anonymous 4:29 PM  


Anonymous 4:35 PM  

CDC is extremely dangerous?
Far worse than the NRA?
Since you referred to the latter as a gun safety organization which it hasn’t been since the ‘70’s I am assuming you may be trolling the libs. Otherwise we are in cloud cookoo land. On both counts.

dgd 4:45 PM  

I thought your first uniclue was hysterical!
I understand that some people have serious problems with carbs but most people can eat them without complications. So no carbs is a fad diet. (The fact that I am Italian American and just love pasta of all kinds has nothing to do with it….. maybe a little).

Nancy 5:07 PM  

It's @Lewis!!! No, it's @Joe D!!! No, it's @okanaganer!!!* Whatever. Anyone -- anyone at all -- who must contend with more than 1,000 trick-or-treaters coming to their door on Halloween has my most sincere sympathy. I know you all think I'm exaggerating -- perhaps even riffing -- but actually I'm not. Truth to tell, I'm breaking into hives just thinking about it.

*And yes, I do know it's Lewis we're talking about. My deepest condolences, Lewis. I was thinking of emailing you yesterday to let you know how sorry I was, but I figured you were still in Recovery Mode.

Anonymous 5:18 PM  

Yeah he’s an eye roll, for sure, you get used to it

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Funny things, crosswords. Sometimes people say one is difficult and I find it hard. You say this was hard for you but I found it fairly easy and enjoyed it. Solved it in 8 minutes. I’m old (55) so I got most of the references.

CuppaJoe 6:12 PM  

Fun puzzle.

“Manet/Degas” is now playing at The Met until January 7. Don’t know if Theda Bera has a role in it. Not a B movie.

Astin and ars magna are not in my wheelhouse. I’m sure I’m learning Spanish by guessing: is it ESSO, ESTA or some other vowel-filled string.

pabloinnh 6:42 PM  

Hey @Anon., 5:29. You're 55? You're not old.

Anonymous 7:18 PM  

Saying om while meditating is an extremely well-worn cliche in TV and movies, if even you’ve never meditated in your life.

Gary Jugert 7:20 PM  

@dgd 4:45 PM
Thanks! I'm in full support of pasta and my belly shows it. Some people wanna live free or die; I wanna die fat and happy. ๐Ÿ

Anonymous 10:53 PM  

Agree. This was no typical Wednesday.

Anonymous 1:40 AM  

A slog.

Anonymous 5:25 AM  

I’m actually fine with most of the proper nouns (srsly, how can anyone not know Brandon TEENA…? Maybe if you aren’t old enough to have read about Matthew Shepard in the newspaper, I guess? Sad.). But I digress. I absolutely loathe this style of clueing. Just not a fan of “close enough in hindsight” but “about three tics off from any normal human interpretation.” I’m fairly tolerant of cleverly constructed grids that surely serve the constructor more than the audience, because at the end I get to appreciate the art. This puzzle lands like nothing more than a trivia host gloating bc they have the answer book. Sure, I solved it fine. But meh. Quite a slog. Good for you. THEDATISTANASOMASOM ANAGRAM. Yeah…great 1500s-1980s fun.

Anonymous 6:33 AM  

18D quotes Rolling Stones lyrics for “Wild Horses,” with “them” instead of “‘me” and and added “presumably.” So, TAMERS and not JAGGER. I thought it was clever cute.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

What an absolutely joyless solve. Did not know THEDA which made the middle section a bit difficult. None of the themed celebrities has anything to do with each other aside having five-letter names, and none of the themers makes any sense as a standalone sentence. This puzzle also took me nearly twice my average Wednesday time.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Excellent puzzle and it’s a debut! Hope to see more from Steve Weyer. Much harder than the usual Wednesday. Could have easily been a Friday. Great gimmick. ARSMAGNA is new to me.

spacecraft 11:48 AM  

Those were my final four squares too, except I never did fill them; nothing made sense. Sierra runners = MACS???????????? Ooh, somebody gotta 'splain THAT one to me. DNF, a stupid puzzle anyway.

Wordle bogey.

Burma Shave 12:55 PM  


OR A time that ISN'T sooner,
for A LEI, carpe DIEM,
I TRUST we'll have A NOONER?


Waxy in Montreal 2:31 PM  

@Spacey, as explained in some of the earlier comments, SIERRA was the Operating System for Macintosh computers (MACS). I didn't grok it either so the entire region, especially MACS, TAMERS & IROC, was a BIGNO for me - was ready to do a Duran (NO MAS) at that DOT, er, point.

However, had no problem with the theme answers as am familiar with all 4 personalities but 'anagram' as an anagram of the extremely obscure ARS MAGNA (what?) as the reveal certainly did not RING my chimes.

BTW, Perry Mason almost never lost a case - it was his adversary, the least effective DA ever, Hamilton Burger, who actually got to do all the moaning.

Diana, LIW 4:16 PM  

If you know a whole buncha names and characters from sci fi lit, great. I don't. So pllggghhhhhhhhh

Diana, not a troll or Tolkein figure, Lady in Waiting

rondo 5:39 PM  

NO NO NO as in BIGNO NOCARB NOMAS. And yesterday had 3 OUTs.
And yes, poor Ham Burger.
Wordle par.

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