03.03 Thu

March 3, 2011
Don Gagliardo

Theme: Anagram Crossing — Six pairs of anagrams "cross" in the grid.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: Orates (SPOUTS).
  • 5D: Anybody's guess (TOSS-UP).

  • 18A: Sea cows (MANATEES).
  • 10D: Arises (EMANATES).

  • 28A: Noodles, say (PASTA).
  • 24D: Spanish appetizers (TAPAS).

  • 48A: Pole symbol (TOTEM).
  • 35D: Sacred choral piece (MOTET).

  • 61A: Orchard grower (PEAR TREE).
  • 37D: Comeback (REPARTEE).

  • 68A: Word with health or illness (MENTAL).
  • 49D: It's beneath the crust (MANTLE).

  • 36A: One of six in this puzzle (ANAGRAM CROSSING).
Hey look! It's another awesome theme idea! I have to say that I didn't really notice the theme while I was solving. Once I got the reveal answer, I knew there was something going on with anagrams (obviously), but I couldn't really see them until I went hunting for them after the grid was completely filled. I almost wish there had been circles on the letters where the anagrams crossed each other — that might have been enough of a hint. As it turns out, the crossing anagram pairs are placed in the grid symmetrically, which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the price for that is paid by the fill. Don't get me wrong, there are some super sparkly entries in this grid. Like AZARIA, SNIPER, ON CAMERA. Even NEBRASKA looks good to me today. But the short fill? Let's just say that there's a rumor going around that I had a better time making that awesome colorful graphic up there than I did solving this puzzle. Not sure if it's true. Might just be a rumor.

There's a running joke over at Rex's blog that the God of Crosswordese is named OOXTEPLERNON. Those 12 letters were actually placed in a puzzle grid all in one row: OOX, TEP, LER, and NON. Now that's some ugly fill right there is what that is. I can't even remember how LER was clued. I mean, come on. LER? Seriously? Well, this puzzle's NAB ABU ETA ORT row comes very close to OOXTEPLERNON status. The only thing holding it back is that NAB is not completely terrible.

  • 16A: Astronomy measurements (AZIMUTHS). I had a vague, vague recollection of this word way in the back of my brain somewhere.
  • 17A: Engrave (INCISE). One the other hand, these two words mean nothing to me when they're paired like this. Not saying there's anything wrong with this clue/answer, just that all I could think of was teeth.
  • 19A: Brief needlework? (TATS). Short for "tattoos," which are created with needles. If you ever meet me, ask me to tell you PuzzleHusband's tattoo story. It involves some body language that I can't really get across effectively in writing, but it's pretty funny. [Edited to add: No really. In this case TATS really is short for "tattoos" and there are three ways you can tell. One, for the "making lace" definition of TATS to work here the clue would need to indicate that the answer will be a third-person verb (i.e., "he tats," "she tats"), but it doesn't. Second, did you see the question mark? A question mark at the end of a clue means there's something fishy going on. Typically, it means that you need to put aside your first idea of what the words in the clue mean. What's the first thing you think when you see the word "needlework"? Sewing, knitting, stuff like that. But the question mark is telling you to think of the word in a different way. Like ... the needles used to create tattoos. The question mark might also have been trying to get you to look at the word "brief" in a different way (like if there was a specific word for sewing underwear?), which brings me to the third thing. The word "brief" in the clue is indicating that the answer will be a short form of a longer word. There's nothing "brief" about TATS when it refers to making lace. That's the whole word. On the other hand, TATS is a short form of the word TATTOO. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your lesson for the day.]
  • 21A: Label for some Glenn Frey hits (MCA). I tried POP first.
  • 57A: Babe and Baby (RUTHS). All I could think of here was Babe the Pig and then I'm all "But what the heck can 'Baby' be referring to?" (Again, I'm not telling you this to criticize the clue. I'm just giving you a glimpse of how my mind words when it's in solving mode.)
  • 66A: Mount McKinley's home (ALASKA). I can't remember the last time I thought of this mountain as "Mt. McKinley." Not that I spend a lot of time thinking about this mountain (or mountains in general), but when I do it's always "Denali" to me.
  • 4D: Platoon, for one (UNIT). Just can't get away from Charlie Sheen these days, can we?
  • 20D: Deejay Casey (KASEM). "American Top 40": a staple of my childhood.
  • 40D: Big 12 school soon to be in the Big Ten (NEBRASKA). Which will bring the total number of schools in the Big Ten to … 12. The Powers That Be have also decided that there will now be two division in the Big Ten and they will be called "Legends" (Iowa, Michigan, Michigan Stat, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern) and "Leaders" (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin). The thing that always amazes me when I see stupid stuff like this is that, okay, I get that someone came up with the idea and thought it was good. But then somewhere, at some point, other people agreed with that person. First guy: "My thought is that we'll name the divisions in such a way that nobody will be able to remember which team is in which division. And if we make the division names sound really snotty and condescending, that will be even better!" Everyone else in the room: "Great idea! Let's go with it!"
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 23A: Acting teacher Hagen (UTA).
  • 35A: Mal de __ (MER).
  • 42A: Some tech sch. grads (EE'S).
  • 54A: Frat letter (ETA).
  • 55A: Food scrap (ORT).
  • 56A: Geneva-based workers' gp. (ILO).
  • 22D: Dept. of Labor agency (OSHA).
  • 33D: One-time Time critic James (AGEE).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 7A: Hourly wage, e.g. (BASE RATE); 15A: Refuses to (CANNOT); 20A: Megan's "Will & Grace" role (KAREN); 22A: Physicist with a law (OHM); 25A: "It __ far, far better thing ...": Dickens (IS A); 26A: Wages (PAY); 27A: Get (SEE); 30A: The Simpsons, e.g. (TOONS); 32A: Wedding dance (HORA); 34A: Fabled mattress lump (PEA); 43A: Top ten item (HIT); 44A: Sign (OMEN); 45A: Pricey (STEEP); 50A: Wall St. exec's degree (MBA); 51A: Collar (NAB); 52A: "Aladdin" monkey (ABU); 59A: Gijón goose egg (NADA); 63A: An iamb's second half gets it (STRESS); 65A: Noteworthy (ESTEEMED); 67A: Relax (REST EASY); 1D: __-fi (SCI); 2D: Temple of the gods (PANTHEON); 3D: Being filmed (ON CAMERA); 6D: Chateau __ Michelle winery (STE.); 7D: The Tide (BAMA); 8D: Hank who voices many 30-Across (AZARIA); 9D: Cosecant reciprocals (SINES); 11D: Groove (RUT); 12D: At the original speed, in music (A TEMPO); 13D: Jail, in slang (THE CAN); 14D: Tests that are hard to guess on (ESSAYS); 29D: Speed: Pref. (TACHO-); 31D: Meeting time qualifier (OR SO); 38D: Solemn acts (RITES); 39D: Bold (IMMODEST); 41D: No-see-um, say (GNAT); 45D: Hard-to-see shooter (SNIPER); 46D: "Thy Neighborís Wife" author (TALESE); 47D: WWII torpedo launchers (E-BOATS); 48D: Some learners (TUTEES); 53D: Siam neighbor (BURMA); 58D: Actress Lamarr (HEDY); 60D: Sweater style named for Irish islands (ARAN); 62D: Like some mil. officers (RET.); 63D: Yosemite __ (SAM); 64D: ESPN reporter Paolantonio (SAL).


Palmdalian said...

First time posting here. Great color graphic, it's exactly what I was looking for! Like you I knew there were anagrams in there somewhere, but unlike you I didn't have the patience to hunt for them, so googled and found your site.

Enjoyed this puzzle. Seemed to me there were some unusual answers to ordinary clues, like SPOUTS for "Orates." I had "emotes" at first.

Thanks for the nice write-up. I'll be back -- just started practicing for the Crosswords L.A. Tournament, which will be my first crossword tournament.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand Karen (20A) and Kasem (20D). What am I missing?

Google said...



Anonymous said...

I could only find two of the anagram crossings so, thank you for the colorful diagram. Nicely done.

I think you may have misunderstood 19A. There is a kind of needlework called "Tatting" that has nothing to do with tattoos (check out at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatting). I'm not sure that this is what they had in mind, but it is the direction that got me there - your reasoning would work as well. What was going through THEIR minds?

Avg Joe said...

Agree with all comments PG. Very ambitious theme and good execution. As for the Babe/Baby clue, I thought that one was excellent. Took me a while, but loved it when I got it.

Nebraska is one of Bruce's darkest but most under appreciated albums. Very happy to see that answer in the grid, even though we're joining the conference that can't count.

Anonymous said...

Tatting is how lace is made.

binkerbo said...

To me refuses to is WILLNOT not CANNOT. Slowed me down a lot.

SethG said...

Tatting is how lace is made, but lace is not a tat. TATS could be an answer for [Makes lace], but the clue called for a noun.

ANAGRAM CROSSING is awkward, but I'll give it a pass due to the complictedness. But yeah, didn't use it during the solve, just looked at afterwards and said "uh, ok".

Nighthawk said...

Impressive work, by both the constructor Mr. Gagliardo and the colorful @PG. Thanks to both.

But though fun and very clever puzzle, I couldn't help, afterwards, but think:
UTA -- OHM, ISA; OHM, ISA -- UTA. KAREN, Casey, Casey, KAREN. Babe, Baby -- AGEE, AGEE -- Babe, Baby.

And when are we going to have a Partridge in the PEARTREE?

*David* said...

I had patience to find three of the six anagrams. As opposed to yesterday I liked the originality but the concept didn't really coalesce in a way that I cared. For all intents and purposes this was a themeless to my way of thinking.

Got problematic in the SE where I put RUNT for RUTH, PLANTERS for PEAR TREE and NCO for RET. Lots of clean up needed down there, at a certain point I just erase it all and start over seems to work better then trying to find the actual problem fill.

Anonymous said...

The Babe/Baby was my first fill - a definite gimme as there's only one Babe and he had a candy bar.

I liked the puzzle had to guess which vowel went in azimuths and guessed correctly. YAAY.

My mother used to make lace for dresses but she crocheted - our neighbour (male) used to tat. Not sure where the difference is, it seems mostly now people crochet with wool not cotton? Enlightenment please.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 8:43 - The Baby Ruth was named after Pres. Cleveland's daughter Ruth, not The Babe.

lit.doc said...

@PG, your dazzling graphic presentation of the puzzle was the coolest thing about the puzzle. Thank you!

As to the theme, certainly I'm astonished at any constructor who can create such an elegant complexity. But, as a solver, I want my theme fun to be an integral part of solving, not an exercise left for later.

Rube said...

Agree with @lit.doc that the theme should be part of the solve, not an afterthought.

Have to disagree with @pg in that in the string NAB_ABU_ETA_ORT all of them are words in their own right. Admittedly mostly obscure words, but they do stand on their own.

Wanted uBOATS but had to settle for EBOATS. Googled and found out that an e-boat was a WWII German torpedo boat, called Schnellboot or S-Boot in German, [schnell = fast]. In English the "E" stood for enemy. My FOTD.

Pleasant if uninspiring puzzle.

Larry Sittig said...

Re the theme, @lit.doc says it perfectly. To have a theme that is indiscernible while solving, and solving made unpleasant by too much junk, doesn't justify even the amazingly intricate theme. (If she/he said it perfectly, why did I say it again? Oh well.)

You who count such things, wouldn't this qualify as a record for theme squares, especially if you count the crossed squares twice?

I can see CANNOT, as in "I cannot in good conscience." But SPeakS for orates messed up the NW for a long while. I don't like SPOUTS there.

StudioCitySteve said...

Liked it, not too bothered that the theme didn't help the solve - it was fun looking at it afterwards and "solving" the theme - ohhhh! I seeeee!

Don't get me started about Nebraska and the Big Tweleventen conference and the crazy division-naming (much less the truly terrible logo that was recently launched). I'm a Notre Dame football fan, so I'm happy to mock from afar. ESTEEMED BAMA fans and SAL will SEE i'm not IMMODEST when I say the Big 10 teams do not belong in the PANTHEON.

PuzzleGirl said...

Hi, everybody. I've edited the post to include a detailed explanation of why the word TATS in the grid really does refer to TATOOS and not lace. Check it out.

@Palmdalian: Welcome to the blog. I hope you continue to join us. And with any luck, I'll see you in L.A. in May.

@StudioCitySteve: I know you didn't just dis my Hawkeyes.

Hiram said...

@Anonymous 8:56 - Maybe not.

"The Curtiss Candy Company has traditionally claimed that the Baby Ruth candy bar was named after President Grover Cleveland's daughter, Ruth Cleveland. Skeptics, however, are quick to point out that not only did Ruth Cleveland die 16 years before the introduction of the Baby Ruth bar, but the company had originally negotiated a failed endorsement deal with legendary baseball player Babe Ruth. Some have suggested that secretly naming the candy bar after Ruth was a way to tie him to their product without paying any royalties."

John Wolfenden said...

I loved "Babe and baby" for RUTHS and "An iamb's second half gets it" for STRESS. And MANTLE is a cool word.

I agree with binkerbo about "Refuses to" for CANNOT. I also think "Arises" for EMANATES isn't quite right. EMANATES means "comes out" or "issues forth."

EES is short for electrical engineers. Not crazy about that clue since it could have been the plural of the letter E instead.

Had APU for ABU and EBOAT for UBOAT. "No-see-um" was a new one for me.

BAMA made me think of the Steely Dan song Deacon Blues. Never could figure out why he refers to the Crimson Tide in that song.

C said...

I liked today's puzzle more for the solve then anything else. The theme seems more like a personal achievement for the constructor as opposed to something the solver would enjoy.

Some interesting words like BURMA. Made me start up my iTunes and listen to some Mission of BURMA and for that, I am very appreciative.

SteveD said...

Had uboat until the very end. Never heard of an eboat. The PAC 10 also grows to 12 this year but they had enough sense to name their divisions North & South.

Neville said...

Oh man - can we have more colors in crossword puzzles? Seriously? Because your interpretation is simply awesome!

Doug P said...

Ditto Neville. The grid rocks.

Tuttle said...

Never could figure out why he refers to the Crimson Tide in that song.

As an example of "the winners in the world" since the song was written at the height of the Bear Bryant era when The Tide were the best team in the nation. "Deacon Blues" is possibly a reference to Wake Forrest who were, without a doubt, the worst college football team of the era.

Why Fagan chose college football for his metaphor I do not know.

Bruce said...

@PG - But what about the fact that my Nana tatted me lace briefs? Apart from the fact that I'll never forgive her for all the times I got beat up in gym class.

lit.doc said...

@PG, the editorial emendation was terrific. Thanks for clearing things up, clue-interpretation wise.

Joon said...

that grid diagram really is beautiful, especially because it highlights all the places where the anagrams not only cross each other, but also other anagram pairs (and the central theme entry). very elegant construction. i don't think i would have been particularly impressed by just having 6 pairs of anagrams, because there are so many options to choose from.

John Wolfenden said...

Tuttle, thanks for the explanation...interesting stuff. Growing up in North Carolina I was aware of the Demon Deacons and their perennial basement status in the ACC. One of the UNC chants went, "Duke is puke, Wake is fake, but the one I really hate is State."

Sfingi said...

When I saw the name "Gagliardo," I moaned, and decided not to wait to look things up. But after Googling for ABU MCA STE and ALASKA, I took off.

At the end, I did misspell AZIMUTHS crossing AZARIA, using an S.

But I never noticed the theme. I kept looking for the anagrams, and found only PASTA - TAPAS. Oh well.
Did like the color presentation.

So, the only thing I really disliked was THE CAN, just cuz I hate using articles with nouns in answers.

I never thought of TATtoos. I actually have a couple tatting devices.
And wondered why our dear president was called The Tide.

Never heard of an EBOAT, but don't really know what a U-boat is either.

@Anon843 - that's not the point. They both share RUTH.

mac said...

Very good puzzle, and PuzzleGirl set a new standard for the write-up! What an attractive grid.

Tutees somehow took me a long time to get, maybe because I'm not up on my Ruths, and I still don't get the mantle/crust connection.

Ben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CrazyCat said...

I really liked this puzzle except for the AZIMUTHS/AZARIA cross. HORA PEA MER! Too much MENTAL STRESS.

Didn't have time to search for all six ANAGRAM CROSSINGs (found four). So I was very impressed to see what our ESTEEMED Puzzle Girl did with her beautiful, colorful grid diagram. My nits were ILO and EES.

Enjoyed the discussion about BAMA and Steely Dan's, Deacon Blues.

Anonymous said...

Ok. I cheated my butt off on this one. But wanted to chime in for @mac. The mantle is just below the crust on our Earth. @pg great write up. I saw anagram and it helped but never noticed the CROSSINGS. Oh well. WarmInHouston

imsdave said...

Too late to the party to count, but put me in the wow category. Huge props for the puzzle and the writeup.

mac said...

Thank you anonymouse! Didn't know the term.