Sunday, 6/13/10—5th Bloggiversary!

NYT 14:22
Reagle 7:29
LAT 6:58
BG no time at all
CS 11:01 (Evad)
WaPo Post Puzzler 6:02
NYT second Sunday puzzle: diagramless 16 minutes

Oh, dear. I’m not prepared to celebrate this blog’s fifth birthday. I’m posting without even doing any crosswords this evening. What kind of crossword blogger am I, anyway? One with an out-of-town guest to entertain. And sadly, being glued to the computer doing crosswords and writing about them is in direct opposition to the goal of “go out to dinner and carouse.”

So I’ll be back later tonight for some inattentive puzzle blogging. In the meantime, please do go ahead and talk about the puzzle as you usually do. Pretend I shared some fascinating insights about Francis Heaney’s Sunday NYT debut, expressing praise where due and perhaps finding a minor point of complaint. I hope the theme is readily understandable so you’re not coming here for help, but knowing Francis’s creativity, he may have done some crazy stuff in this puzzle.

Ta ta!

Francis Heaney’s New York Times crossword, “Flag Day”

FlagDayMiniHere’s the solution grid, with the color/rebus squares rendered visually and thus much clearer than a screen capture of my applet solution.

Brilliant theme! Absolutely brilliant. Well done, Francis. Now, Flag Day isn’t until the 14th, but it would be a shame to hold this puzzle until the next time Flag Day falls on a Sunday.

Off to the movies now!

Okay, back home (saw Get Him to the Greek), after midnight, houseguest has turned in for the night.

I am a sucker for geography-oriented themes and for good rebus gimmicks, so this mash-up hit my sweet spot. Not every three-stripe flag has three vertical stripes like the French tricolor; some go horizontal. But there are at least six tricolor-flag countries whose names can be found in (reasonably) familiar words or phrases with flags, and Francis includes them here. The country’s flag stands in for its name in these longer answers, and the individual colors occupy rebus squares to complete the crossing Down answers:

  • 22a. FRANCES BEAN COBAIN showed up in my puzzle as BWRSBEANCOBAIN, with the BWR standing in for {BLUE}, {WHITE}, and {RED} in MR. {BLUE}, E.B. {WHITE}, and TI{RED}. FRANCE is at 90a.
  • 36a. ACQUIRE LAND splits its country (found at 49a) across two words and introduces LIME {GREEN}, ALAN {WHITE} (who??), and WEST {ORANGE} for the flag.
  • 51a. Philip Glass and his ilk are MINIMALISTS. MALI is at 69d, clued as a [Country with a green, yellow and red flag]. {GREEN} TEA, {YELLOW} ROSE, {RED}UCER.
  • 80a. SANGUINE ABOUT includes GUINEA (75d). The colors are in WHIR{RED}, LESS {YELLOW} (not such a crossword-worthy phrase, no, but we can make exceptions for really cool and intricate themes), and [Drugstore eponym] WAL{GREEN}. Anyone else think of South Dakota’s WALL Drug here?
  • 98a. PYBYRCS looks odd in the grid. PYROMANIACS has ROMANIA at 19a. {BLUE}S MEN, “BIG {YELLOW} TAXI,” and SNO{RED} fill out the flag.
  • 110a. DIGITAL YEARBOOKS are nothing I’ve heard of, but certainly plausible. ITALY is at 66a, right in the middle. The colors are {GREEN}ER, {WHITE}NS, and D{RED}GE.

Never heard of ELECTRUM, 60a: [Alloy of gold and silver]. That’s not used in jewelry, is it? I did know AGAMAS, more or less, the 24a: [Brilliantly colored lizards]. I never remember if it’s AGANA or AGAMA—AGANA is a town on Guam, and both words are old-school crosswordese.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “The 50-Year-Old ‘Psycho'”

Region capture 9Happy 50th anniversary, Psycho! The Hitchcock movie came out five decades ago, and Merl marks the anniversary with quotes and trivia from the movie. Two theme answers are only 3 letters long (the symmetrical 4a: BRA and 131a: CAR), while others are so long (the three quotes) that they occupy two entries apiece.

All in all, a strikingly entertaining theme, wouldn’t you say?

The puzzle must be pretty easy, because I solved it in a decent amount of time despite being brain-dead.

In sum, “A BOY’S BEST / FRIEND IS HIS MOTHER.” Aww, so sweet!

Updated Sunday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review

Our most generous (and discerning!) blogstress has relented to the overwhelming hue and cry for my return (Thanks Mom!), and seen fit to bequeath me the CS/WaPo “Sunday Challenges” going forward. With the unemployment rate what it is, I’ll take any gig I can get!

To the puzzle: Not since Kevin Der’s showy double quad stacks (with a ninth in the center for good measure) have I seen a grid like this. Here’s how I would rank the eight 15s in terms of their pleasure quotient:

  1. MAKE A MENTAL NOTE – very in the language and something I am sadly less good at retrieving once noted.
  2. CALM STATE OF MIND – tough from its clue “Mediator’s goal,” I kept trying to get some form of AGREE in there. [Corrected clue–“Meditator’s goal” which makes a heck of a lot more sense. . . thanks ArtLvr!]
  3. EMOTIONAL NUANCE – which actor has your vote for who displays this most effectively? I guess I’d go with the incomparable Meryl.
  4. ETERNITY AND A DAY – have not heard of the movie, but easy enough to get with a few crossers.
  5. WHERE THERE’S LIFE – comedies from 1947, even with Bob Hope, are very far from my ken. The phrase “Where There’s Smoke,” on the other hand, is very familiar to me.
  6. LARGE BILLED CROW – a what? I don’t even want to go look for a picture of one of these!
  7. and 8. (tie) SLEVELESS DRESSES and SALES ASSISTANTS – these sibilant entries have more curves than Gina Lollobrigida!

All in all, a pretty good set considering the demanding constraints of the double quad stacks. Let’s see how the crossers hold this grid together:

  • My big question mark was ATHA, “Baile ___ Cliathe (Dublin, to the Irish).” Literally, this translates to “town of the hurdled ford” from the Gaelic. (Anyone run into a “hurdled ford” on a trip back to the ol’ sod?) Interesting too that Dublin comes from the English “Dubh Linn” or black pool. Guess it wasn’t the scenic city on the Liffey it is today when so named.chiclets
  • CHICANES or “Race course curves” is new to me. I know CHICANOS, CHICLETS and CHICK LIT.
  • Also news to me was that Elmer FUDD had a family. Did any of them ever appear in a CEL?
  • AMAL McCaskill last played in the NBA as a 76er; today he plays for the San Miguel Beermen in the Philippine Basketball League. (Were you as surprised as I was to find out that the Philippines has a basketball league?)
  • ANIL’S Ghost” is a novel by Michael Ondaatje. I’ve only read (and seen) his The English Patient. An excellent novel rendered beautifully on the screen by Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes.

See you next Sunday!

Michael Shteyman’s second Sunday diagramless crossword in the New York Times

Hang on a minute here—Michael only used about half the squares. I feel cheated out of having more clues to grapple with!

I do like a diagramless that makes a picture. (Brendan Emmett Quigley’s got a number of those in his book, Diagramless Crosswords.) Today, it is a violin. I think. I wasn’t sure what instrument it was and checked the comments at the Wordplay blog, and people said guitar, bass guitar, and violin. The contours look more violinish, do they not? The STRINGS ATTACHED go down the middle, and the circled letters represent the A, E, D, and G strings of a violin. The neck looks far too short, though.

Favorite entries: SEX CHANGE, DUNE BUGGY, “G’DAY, MATE,” LACUNA, GAG ORDER, and TRIBUTE. Least favorite: REATA meets ENNA.

I didn’t use the reflective symmetry to help figure things out until I worked my way down to the bottom of the puzzle and started paying attention to the word lengths that would have to match their partners across the central strings.

John Lampkin’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Final Advice”

Region capture 10The theme entries caution students of various disciplines to avoid coming off as confused or inattentive, and phrases that connote a lack of focus are aptly paired with the disciplines they ought to belong to:

  • 23a. [To ace Music Theory, don’t wander off __] IN LA LA LAND.
  • 28a. [To ace Oceanography, don’t let the prof know you’ve __] GONE FISHING.
  • 40a. [To ace Agricultural Science, avoid __] GRASPING AT STRAWS.
  • 69a. [To ace Electrical Engineering, don’t fall __] ASLEEP AT THE SWITCH.
  • 95a. [To ace Math, avoid being __] AT SIXES AND SEVENS.
  • 114a. [To ace Cosmology, don’t get __] LOST IN SPACE.
  • 120a. [To ace Culinary Arts, avoid being __] OUT TO LUNCH.

Easy puzzle overall, no? Favorite entries and clues:

  • 20a. [It goes from one joint to another] clues the TIBIA, which extends from knee to ankle.
  • 63a. [Brobdingnagian] means giat or GOLIATH.
  • 103a. [Kids’ transports] are SCOOTERS. My kid loves his.
  • 116a. [Clementi work] is a SONATINA. I don’t know much about classical music, but this word has spun off a joke among my crossword friends. We need to come up with a recipe for a drink called the sonatini and convince the bartender at the ACPT hotel to mix sonatinis for us.
  • 118a. [Mideast capital once called Philadelphia] is AMMAN, Jordan.
  • 126a. [Piano players?] are your HANDS, appropriately but surprisingly.
  • 42d. [Big snow fall?] clues an AVALANCHE. If you’d like to read a narrative nonfiction account of an avalanche disaster, check out my friend Gary Krist’s book, White Cascade.
  • 88d. [Dispossessor?] clues an EXORCIST.
  • 103d, 104d. Punctuation time! [/] is a SLASH and [,] is a COMMA.

In the “Say what??” category, we have 73d. Apparently JENA is a [German university city]. Other JENAs I’m more familiar with are the one in Louisiana and actress Malone.

Patrick Berry’s Washington Post “Post Puzzler No. 10”

Region capture 11Unusual grid for a Berry, with the two Down 15s anchoring the quad-stacked 9s to the rest of the puzzle.

Favorite clues and answers:

  • 1a. [Vibrant multicolored gem] is a BLACK OPAL. “Black” doesn’t sound so vibrant and multicolored, but there you have it.
  • 36a. [Auto service chain founded in 1921] is PEPBOYS. Had no idea it was so old.
  • 37a. [RFK and others] are STADIA. Great clue.
  • 47a. [Wanted poster’s antithesis?] is a TROLL. Man, it took me forever to understand the clue. The people you want posting comments on your blog are like all of you—smart and interesting and respectful and funny. (Do I have the best commenters here or what? Yes. Yes, I do.) You don’t want TROLLs trying to bait you.
  • 55a. [Handled badly?] is a good clue for PAWED.
  • 1d. [Column topper] is a great clue for the author’s BYLINE.
  • 11d. “JUST THE OPPOSITE!” is clued [“You couldn’t have it more wrong!”].
  • 27d. CEBU is [The Philippines’ “Queen City of the South”]. You know any Cebuanos?
  • 30d. [Ancient Rome’s seven] is just Roman numeral VII, not the Seven Hills of Rome.

Two things I didn’t know:

  • 44d. ALPERT is clued as [Partner of recording exec Moss]. A&M Records, I presume?
  • 50d. GLEE is the TV [Series set in Lima, Ohio]. Yeah, I don’t watch it.

Henry Hook’s six-week-old Boston Globe crossword, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Region capture 12All right, I confess: I didn’t solve this puzzle. I just used the autofill. Why Black Ink uses brown eyes for revealed squares, I can’t tell you.

Before the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy fades into oblivion, it makes a last stand as a crossword concept. ASK and TELL are chopped out of the theme entries, which are clued straightforwardly. The resulting answers in the grid look weird:

  • 21a. [Blanche DuBois’s sister] Stella Kowalski becomes SA KOWALSKI.
  • 23a. [October coverup?] is a HALLOWEEN M(ask).
  • 41a. [Nursery rhyme recorded by Ella Fitzgerald] is “A TISKET, A T(ask)ET.”
  • 88a. [Horse, for example] is a B(ask)ETBALL GAME. Terrific clue.
  • 109a. [“U.S. Smile Capital”] is POCA(tell)O, IDAHO. You don’t say.
  • 111a. [ConAgra’s hometown] is OMAHA, NEBR(ask)A. I like the pair of city/state names.
  • 7d. [Non-Darwinian theory] is IN(tell)IGENT DESIGN.
  • 11d. [Eyed skeptically] is LOOKED (ask)ANCE AT.
  • 54d. [“Buck Privates” duo] are ABBOTT AND COS(tell)O.
  • 57d. [“Trattoria” entree] is CHEESE TOR(tell)INI. Not sure why it’s “Trattoria” in quotation marks.

I’m not wild about how the theme entries are presented. They’re just sort of chopped up, and the removal of the ASK and TELL doesn’t create anything fun.

Cool fill includes SKETCHY, CAT HAIR (!), and ODALISQUE. Quick, use those three things in a sentence, and make it funny.

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49 Responses to Sunday, 6/13/10—5th Bloggiversary!

  1. Jeffrey says:

    Readily understandable? Crazy stuff? Uh oh.

    If someone needs help, here’s the spoiler – the theme answers use the country name across 3 squares, while down it is the country colours in the order listed in the flag clue.

    For example – 36across is ACQU-IRE LAND. with IRELAND filling the last 3 squares.
    IRELAND’s flag colours are given at 49across – green, white , blue. So reading down, 15D is LIME-GREEN, 16D is ALAN WHITE and 17D is WEST ORANGE.

    Speaking of Orange, Happy bloggiversary Amy! Glad to be a small part of this amazing site.

  2. Happy blogiversary indeed.

    Crazy stuff? Indeed so. I think after all the time it took me I got the puzzle right. Not one I could do rapidly, but it was fun. Thought I could do it after my glass of wine and before the dogs needed dinner. I have some hungry dogs at this point so I gotta go.

  3. Tuning Spork says:

    Amazing construction. What a blast. Well done, Francis Heaney!

  4. Jim Horne says:

    Congatulations, Amy. Five years is a long time to be doing this day after day. Every other crossword blogger is following the trail you blazed.

    Everyone here should visit Liz Gorski’s Crossword City.

  5. Ashish says:

    Happy Fifth, and thanks for all that you do! Love coming here late nights when I am stumped by the Friday-Saturday themelesses!

  6. joon says:

    i can’t decide what’s more amazing: francis’s puzzle, or amy’s five years of blogging. what’s that, you say? i don’t have to choose just one? oh good. :) kudos to both, then.

  7. Ajaxman says:

    I agree, this is a very original and well constructed puzzle. I was not able to complete the puzzle on-line because I don’t know how to either enter a color or enter a word over four letters long into a single square. Oh well, guess I need to email the member help center.

    My favorite fills:
    – “GO ON STRIKE” (if it were the Sopranos it might be GOON STRIKE)
    – “MESTIZOS” (just sounds like a cool word)
    – “PYROMANIACS” (only a crossword creator would see “ROMANIA” in the middle of that)

    Less favorite:
    – “My mama done TOL me” (alas it’s hard to complain after a crossword puzzle like this one)

  8. Bruce S. says:

    Happy 5th. Glad I found your blog last July.

  9. cyberdiva says:

    Wow! Congratulations, Amy, on your 5 amazing years. What a spectacular achievement! And thanks, Jim, for the link to Liz Gorski’s lovely tribute.

    Congrats too to Francis Heaney for an extraordinary puzzle.

  10. Deb Amlen says:

    You are a trendsetter and you do it with style, sistahfriend. Happy blogiversary!

  11. Ghulam says:

    Great puzzle from Francis Heaney. And happy 5th Amy.

  12. Sam Donaldson says:

    A fitting puzzle for the occasion, and I don’t mean Flag Day. It’s most appropriate to have such an original, fun, and well-made NYT puzzle run on the anniversary of an original, fun, and well-written blog.

    I loved how IRELAND, FRANCE, MALI, et al appeared in the grid and were clued according to the colors of their flags – a nice technique to keep solvers from getting too frustrated.

    I join the chorus in thanking Amy for her dedication to excellence in the craft. Today’s crosswords are better thanks in no small part to her efforts.

  13. Lloyd says:

    Holy cow, Amy. 14:22 to solve the NYT? It took me that long to figure out the gimmick (ACQUIRELAND did it for me). But what a wonderful puzzle!

    Happy 5th anniversary!


  14. rick says:

    You can have some fun if you use the country names: expensive blender beef could be whirGU, you can ride in a big MAN taxi, being green with envy might cause lime IRE, and being more out could also be less IN.

    Congrats on five years. Good anniversary puzzle timing.

    The hardest part for me was going back to find the countries, for some reason I ignored the downs and just scanned the acrosses.

  15. janie says:

    took me the looooongest time to put together the two components of francis’s glorious puzzle — but that made for a most satisfying “aha” indeed. quel construction!!

    and quel occasion for our hostess with the mostess — congrats and “brava, diva!” you set the bar!!


  16. Matt says:

    Happy Blogiversary! Five years is practically infinite in internet-time– I’m not sure my (such as it is) memory reaches back that far.

    And the puzzle is a doozy. I was confused for a while about the multiple correspondences between color, country name, and rebus-clue, but the illustration makes it all very clear. The rebus entries are amazing, it’s even more amazinger that names of all the countries-and-colors are included in the grid in a symmetric fashion.

  17. Doug P says:

    Congrats on the anniversary, Amy. I don’t know how you find the time & energy to do this everyday, but I appreciate & admire your devotion. You’re a excellent Ambassador of the Grid!

  18. Gareth says:

    Congrats on 5(!) years of trail-blazing writing, sorry I’ve only be here to enjoy (nearly) two of them!

    Agree that’s it’s a great puzzle to have on the ‘versary… Like most people I’m sure I met up with Romania pretty quickly… had a whiff of the theme when FRANCESBEANCOBAIN didn’t want to fit, but decided there must be another kid… Once I got down to the bottom-right and BIGYELLOWTAXI also wouldn’t fit… and PYROMANIACS too… So wasn’t too hard to figure out but what a theme! Like it even better with your coloured in grid… Had a bit of trouble sorting out MALI and GUINEA whose flags are rather similar… but this is a great rebus!!

  19. sbmanion says:

    A wonderful service to us all, Amy. Congratulations.

    Beautifully constructed and clever puzzle.


  20. ktd says:

    Congratulations on the fifth anniversary of the blog. Thank you for your great work and here’s hoping there are many good years of blogging ahead.

    The Sunday NYT puzzle–this is the stuff of cruciverbal dreams

  21. DO says:

    Happy anniversary, Amy! You’re the best. And, since you invited complaints about the puzzle, allow me to level mine at the diagramless. Not Michael’s puzzle, but its appearance online. I had to buy the print edition of the Times ($5!) just to solve it. How come we can sequence the human genome but can’t figure out how to make Across Lite generate shaded squares?

  22. Howard B says:

    Wow. Congrats and thanks.
    Finally got around to the Times, and a fittingly amazing puzzle for the bloggiversary.

  23. Andrew "nmHz" Greene says:

    Great job, Francis! Once I realized what was going on I had to print out a clean copy because my magazine copy was completely trashed.

    This puzzle reminded me in a small way (and in a good way) of Peter Gordon’s puzzle the day Will debuted as editor. I think this one will also go down as a classic.

    And congratulations on five years, Amy! I loved the way Francis and Will worked in a hidden tribute to you in today’s puzzle (it’s at the intersection of 36A and 17D).

  24. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Thanks so much, everyone!

    @DO: You didn’t have to buy the paper. A PDF of the second Sunday puzzle is always available online now (ever since the magazine stopped guaranteeing that it would be printed each week). Scroll down a tad here for the links, which are also available atop the Wordplay blog’s sidebar (but that site can entail averting your eyes from spoilers). I believe this link——is always functional and provides whatever the most recent second Sunday offering is.

  25. DO says:

    That’s why I go by DO. It’s short for “D’oh!.”

  26. Meg says:

    Congratulations, Amy! What amazes me about you is that you are both incredibly smart (and fast!) and kind. That is a unique combination.

  27. Ladel says:

    For one who dwells on the surface of the Earth, first anger and frustration, then, with a wee peek at one answer, an explosion of understanding, and finally, the glow of participating in another’s genius.

  28. Meem says:

    Congratulations, Amy. And the NYT puzzle was literally awesome. Agree that this one belongs in the museum of constructors’ wild imaginations!

  29. Martin says:

    Congrats Amy on your 5 year anniversary!

    – Very clever and highly original NYT puzzle from Francis Heaney today.

    – Evad: If you were wondering what a large billed crow looks like… here ya go:


  30. ArtLvr says:

    Amy, congrats from here too on your 5-year Bloggiversary!

    @Evad, in the CS at 1A, the clue isn’t “Mediator’s goal” but “Meditator’s goal”! Thus CALM STATE OF MIND… Those quad stacks were really smooth!

    @Martin, the photo of the Crow is much appreciated. Headines in Albany’s newspaper today expose the mistake of having a NYS Pathologist who is not a pathologist — He misdiagnosed the thousands of crow deaths in NYC a few years ago, being hipped on toxicity in the environment, and thus delayed discovery and control of a serious outbreak of West Nile virus which caused several people’s deaths. He’s under investigation now for other misconduct….

  31. Mel Park says:

    Let me say congratulations too, Amy. You have a wonderful blog. I read it every day and it has acquainted me with a larger list of daily puzzles than I had before. The NYT today was a wonderful ah-ha experience. The last to fill was GUINEA. It was the only country-answer that was crossed by its rebus pairing, ASANGUINEABOUT.

  32. Evad says:

    Thanks for the clarification ArtLvr, I’ve corrected the post.

    Had a Rob Green moment I guess…should do a better job keeping my eye on the ball!

  33. Rex says:

    Amy was one of the first people to visit my site and comment regularly, so I do owe her a lot. I also think I still owe her at least one drink for the wallet made out of old “Grease” trading cards she bought me once. Let me know about that, Amy, and congratulations!


  34. M.A.Pee says:

    Ok, that would be Peel not Pee!!

    The flags also reminded me of the World Cup that just started (although the puzzle flags don’t entirely match up to the 32 teams. Ireland didn’t qualify :(

    Thanks for having such a wonderful site. Happy anniversary.

  35. John Farmer says:

    Congrats, Amy, on your 5th, and hats off to Francis for the awesome puzzle.

  36. Dan F says:

    Happy bloggiiversary! Here’s to many more.

    Shout-out to janie for so much entertaining commentary on the CS puzzles… hope you’ll be back filling in occasionally! And kudos to Martin Ashwood-Smith – that’s only the second time (after Kevin’s in the NYT) that a double quad-stack has been published.

    Oh yeah, that NYT puzzle was pretty decent too. Why can’t all Sundays be like this?

  37. Evad says:

    Dan, I’m just taking the Sunday CS puzzles. Fear not, janie’s back full-time with her weekly gig.

  38. janie says:

    aw, dan — thx! as of tomorrow, i’m back “full time” — meaning that i’ll be covering the cs puzzles monday thru saturday. keeping company in amy’s blogosphere with evad and joon and jeffrey and sam is a treat. now if only some of their solving prowess would find its way to my brain…


  39. Dan F says:

    oops, sorry! I can’t read too good. Glad to hear it – not to say that Evad isn’t awesome too!

  40. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I’m late to the party but Congrats and thanks Amy. And phenomenal puzzle, Francis. But everyone already knew all of that.


  41. Pat Merrell says:

    Wow. Five years. Has it really been that long? I’m sure it seems longer than that some days, and shorter others. Congratulations!

  42. Congrats on the 5-year mark, Amy! And suitably brilliant Sunday puzzle to celebrate with. This was a treasure hunt down to the wire that culminated dramatically for me. I had no idea of the name of the Love Child in the NW, and no way to get it with the crossings, so it wasn’t until there was one flag left that I could go backwards and piece together FRANCES BEAN for the most satisfying finish ever.

    Not so satisfying with the Diagramless. I completed it, but with no evidence of shadows and circled letters on my graph paper, the theme was a mystery. My best guess was that the prominent fill SEXCHANGE was the theme, and that the picture somehow graphically represented such, and I almost make it work! Rorschach would have been proud of me.

  43. PhillySolver says:

    Late entry but heartfelt congratulations and thank you for the major changes you have foster in this world of crosswords. I hope there is at least five more.

  44. Mel Park says:

    To Lee Glickstein:

    The shape of the puzzle is a guitar. The letters in the shaded diagonal read “strings attached”. The four circled letters outside the diagonal read G, D, A, E which, I am supposing, are the notes that the four guitar strings are normally tuned to.

    But, I didn’t get the theme either when I did the puzzle on a printed pdf page. I redid it in Across Lite with the grid filled in and, only then, did the theme pop out to me. I should have seen it on paper if I had paid attention to the border of the grid.

    I love diagramless puzzles and thanks, Amy, for recommending BEQ’s “Diagramless Crosswords.” I’m about a third through it.

  45. Jan (danjan) says:

    Happy Bloggiversary, Orange! (BLOGGIVERSARY should be in a puzzle!) Thanks for doing this every day; it has really enhanced my solving experience. I’m so glad the April Fool’s Day resignation was a hoax!

  46. Jeff says:

    Thanks for continuing to blog, Orange! Reading it is a very entertaining part of my day. I get cranky without it.

  47. John Haber says:

    Fascinating construction. I first saw a long entry or two like GO ON STRIKE that didn’t seem thematic, so I figured maybe it’d just be a lot of country trivia for flag day, not even symmetrically placed. When I finally got a contrary theme fill, thanks to BIG YELLOW TAXI, I still didn’t immediately think that there were only six questions about a country, and maybe they’d match up. That was satisfying.

    After that, there was some (for me) trivia I could have lived without. I hadn’t heard of OHMAGE or GIA before, and at first assumed OHM would get a prefix (although then it would really have to be longer), but OHMAGE was such a plausible word that this wasn’t hard. NW was much harder for me, start with MR BLUE and then the big theme entry. I swear I was a huge Nirvana fan and loved Hole’s “Live through This,” but I just don’t have patience with gossip so had no idea. But it worked out ok.

    My hardest and last to fall was the NE, partly because the two uses of GUINEA were in fairly close proximity, partly because of AGAMAS and the possibility of East/West Orange, partly because of a rapper there, and partly because, hey, hasn’t every TV show ever been on someone’s vanity plate?? The one I couldn’t guess in the end was SH_B/_LI, between an A and an E.

    Glad for the blog. Keep it up!

  48. Matt Gaffney says:

    I’m still bitter about falling for the April Fools joke so I refuse to wish Amy a happy bloggiversary.

    OK, happy bloggiversary.

  49. Alex says:

    I came here after my first puzzle debuted four years ago and was buoyed by your encouraging words. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Happy bloggiversary!

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