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50 puzzles by Matt Ginsberg
with Jeff Chen comments

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501/17/200810/24/20197
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Matt Ginsberg

46 Daily crosswords by Matt Ginsberg

Thu 10/24/2019
SNUBAGRAMELBA
PERUSAILALIAS
OMITBUTTHEBEST
TOSNEEZEATOGRE
ELSETOWEAR
HINTATHIPPO
AMILOVESTURNS
MUCHSALADTOIT
SPEARSPYONFLU
NOTESROILED
BURGERLIES
ASISUPMYSLEEVE
LEFTBEHINDAMID
MILERANNASMOG
STENOTHEYYALE

About ten years ago, I struggled mightily with a puzzle that ended up blowing my mind. No matter how hard I struggled with that one, I couldn't fill in its lower-left corner. But when it all clicked, it clicked in a big way. It's now fixed in my memory as one of the ground-breakers I tell non-crossword people about (as they roll their eyes and pretend they have somewhere else to be).

Today's plays in a similar vein, with NOTHING appended instead of SECRET — let's call it "secret lite." It works, literally NOTHING there, with NOTHING prefixing BUT THE BEST, TO SNEEZE AT, etc. (NOTHING) UP MY SLEEVE was the best themer; such a snazzy phrase, and perfect for this theme.

I wanted much more out of the puzzle, though. Once I figured out the first themer, the rest of the solve was like listening to my daughter tell the same knock-knock joke over and over. (Dishes who? Dishes the police, open up!) The theme would have had more punch if it had been limited to just the four long entries, instead of a full ten dishes-the-police repeats.

There is something to be said about (NOTHING) BUT NET, though, as one of Matt Ginsberg's companies (funded by Mark Cuban!) is investigating a camera / software system that might be able to predict if a basketball shot is likely to go in. I always look forward to chatting with Matt; he's always got several somethings up his sleeve.

Overall, too easy for a Thursday puzzle. Will Shortz doesn't like it when solvers have to leave squares blank, but I wonder if a central 7 that had to be filled with literally nothing (the down answers would skip those seven letters, similar to the SECRET puzzle) would have been more memorable.

Sun 8/25/2019"HOW'S TRICKS?"
AMIRMESASSWAMAFAR
RODEOOAKIEOHHIDRNO
ANYCOLDTIMEDEADCHEAT
BALANCESESSAYSHEESH
LAHRDEALSTARR
HURLANTIWELSHREADS
ATATIDALSWEARATDOE
WINCEMAKERSALUTTINE
KLEINNEMEAPAGECRANK
SEEPAGEMATHASARULE
HBOBAPTISMSID
SMELTERSIGNNEMESIS
SPARECRIBCHAROSAUDI
WIGSHODADCROWHOUSES
ARIMADEIRALAYONHAS
TEMPEESTERUDONOILY
OAREDASAPUSSR
IAMBICHOMEREDHARRIS
CRESTAREANOWYOUSEEME
AINTSULKASHENERNIE
NATSHEMSLEASTYOND

NOW YOU SEE ME / NOW YOU DON'T = phrases where ME is added / other phrases where ME disappears.

Wait, what?

C is the thing that appears and disappears?

Huh.

We'll C about that.

Elegant touch that Matt crossed NOW YOU SEE ME (across) and NOW YOU DON'T (down), and then arranged all his C additions (across) and C subtractions (down) to match. I like that parallel structure.

Solid gridwork, not an easy task given the sheer quantity of theme material. Nothing to write home about in terms of bonuses, but ED HARRIS, BAPTISM, NEMESIS, SEESAWS, SMELTER, GOTCHA, SHEESH are all assets.

Crossword glue? I was nervous when 1-Across turned out to be AMIR, a variant of the usual EMIR, but thankfully the rest of the puzzle went smoothly. When a Sunday puzzle flows with just some RANEE, ANAS, ATA, SASE, that's a win.

The trick might have struck me more strongly if adding / removing C made more sense, and if I hadn't seen the concept a few times before. I'd have also liked theme answers to be paired up and crossed, even more strongly mirroring the NOW YOU SEE ME / NOW YOU DON'T crossing.

The inequality of seven additions but only three subtractions threw me off-balance. Good thing this wasn't a tightrope-walking puzzle!

Today's puzzle wasn't David Blaine. But it wasn't your weird uncle Stevie pulling a stuffed rabbit out of his hat, either.

Thu 11/1/2018
ESTATEADSURAL
SLAPONBOAPEPE
PITTEREGGPLANT
TAILORGALILEO
TENACEUNMAN
BPLUSNORISK
LOADSLECHFAT
OLDEJELLYPLOW
BOYNEVEPIANO
RETAGSELWES
SAMOAGEISEL
CHITTERSPRANG
HECTOREDASGOOD
MARETEATIEROD
ODORENDENRAPT

Some of my favorite puzzles are those that take two different theme types and combine them in an interesting way. I thought Matt did well to start with two-part phrases, where the halves differ by one letter (in the same spot) — Patrick Berry did something in the same vein a few years ago, as did Patrick Merrell. PITTER PATTER entered into the grid as P(I/A)TTER is pretty fun already. But adding a Schrödinger element in the down direction? Very fun!

It's sort of a rebus meets a Schrödinger meets … a repeated word theme? Not sure exactly how to describe it, but it was creative.

I was especially delighted by the AS GOOD / AS GOLD find. I've seen similar theme concepts using PITTER PATTER, JELLY BELLY, and GALILEO GALILEI, but there's something golden about the AS GOOD / AS GOLD find. It was so interesting I had to stop during my solve to admire it.

I also liked how accurate most of the Schrödinger clues were for both options. [Sticky stuff] as GLOP or GOOP = perfect. Same goes for [Scratch, say] to describe FLAW / CLAW. I thought that one was particularly brilliant since it works so well for either option — but in very different ways. FLAW as a noun, CLAW as a verb.

And this former MBA loved the MICRO / MACRO find! How have I never thought of that before?

On the downside, BLOT felt much more apt for an ink stain than a BLOB. And although LET ON / LET IN worked well both ways, it wasn't as interesting to me, as a change of preposition isn't going to win any awards.

ADDED NOTE: Astute reader Luke Vaughn points out that although it's "just" a preposition change, look at how cleverly both fit the clue. LET ON, as in admitted a truth, and LET IN, as in admitted into a party. I stand corrected!

Overall, such an enjoyable experience to uncover those themers. This is a well-made puzzle with great bonuses like DOGGEREL and APTITUDE.

ADDED NOTE: I forgot to mention, Matt is (among many other things) an author! I enjoyed Factor Man, a thriller about a tech guru's world-changing invention.

Sun 2/11/2018PARONOMASIA
ABLEWILDETETHADJ
WOODSFIVERSORATORIO
ORCHESTRATESDINETTES
LEORELENTSLOCKSMITH
MOANERSSPAASIF
GROUPIESGERIATRICIAN
MATTELWERELODECLU
AMIDEIGHTEBBSPIET
IBOOKCUESMOUSETRAPS
LONARENAFIRMSAILHO
SLEDTIREDCALM
LIFTEDTITOEERIEPET
IDEALOGUESBALISCHMO
LEVYALSORUMBALACE
TSEINRIPAIXROARER
STRATOSPHEREDULCIMER
ILLSINBLINEARA
MISTLETOEORIGINSCOO
ISHEDEADPROFITEERING
ALLROUNDRELETSYASIR
SAYSMGSODORSETTE

What cool finds! ORCHESTRATES sounds like "orca straits" = a neat a-ha moment. I love it when you're left with a "how in heck did the author find those?" feeling. I missed some of them as I solved, so I highlighted them below. I don't want anyone to miss WHEATIES as "wee tees"!

The overall solving experience wasn't nearly as fun as the themers, though. EDH in the starting corner didn't bode well. I glunked through about a dozen of these gluey bits, making my solve feel inelegant. A couple of nice bonuses in HOT MIC and ORATORIO didn't alleviate that.

Why so much gloop? Take another look at the grid highlights below. While it's an amazing feat to get so much themage interlocked, there's isn't a subspace that doesn't have two or more themers running through it. No Bueno!

After highlighting the themers, my opinion of the puzzle changed — I would have expected more crossword glue than Matt needed. It's an amazing job, given the fact that a standard 140-word Sunday puzzle is hard enough to make …

But it's still too much fluff. And it was so easy to miss those themers, that even I — an inconceivably anal constructor — didn't see or appreciate the interlock until I did my highlighting. Heck, I missed highlighting a themer and then had to go back through a third time! So I don't think it's a good layout for the NYT's mass audience. Doesn't do the themers justice.

But some great finds that made me want to go back and appreciate each one. I think it could have been a standout puzzle if the themers had been pared back and then presented in such a way to make them easily noticeable — perhaps all in the across direction, or even shading the theme squares.

It's tough when your themers are normal words/phrases, and BORDEAUX is the same length as ORATORIO, DINETTES, IS HE DEAD, ALL ROUND. Way too easy to confuse what's theme and what's not.

Thu 9/21/2017
TWOTIMCADSTEW
RESOLEONEBYONE
INSULTPARANOIA
STOPSDSLSALAR
EUBIESPACY
GIVEEARMOIST
ODESSTRIKEEGS
BEEABASENOT
SOPHLANCENORA
SOFTGAFLOWER
TATTLFLEAS
ELATEEELHELEN
MAKESUREMODELA
PIESHELLPRIVAT
INSTYESSENILE

Neat idea here, Adlai Stevenson not a TWO TIM but a TWO TIM(ELOSER). Interesting find, that the second half backward forms a real word in RESOLE. I'm glad Will ended up starring the appropriate clues, as these themers would have been tough to pick out, in what was already a very tough puzzle.

Icing on the cake to get a double UEY in the center, STRIK (ESABA) LANCE flipping twice. Great discovery!

It threw me off that all these answers pulled UEYs … to the right. Seems like a big traffic no-no. But since Matt lived in England for a long time, I let this hiccup pass.

I would have preferred to have the themers run vertically, so the UEYs would be done in the proper direction. (Sorry, Anglophiles!)

Nice bonuses in TOO LATE NOW, SYNAPSE, TOUPEES, PARANOIA, PIE SHELL, and … VEEPSTAKES? That last one didn't register for me, but what a great term to learn. (Pols jockeying to get named to a Presidential ticket.) Considering the high theme density, not easy to work in these bonuses.

Wait, wait, wait, you might say — it's not that dense, considering the shorties in SALAR(YCAPS) and TATTL(ELATE). But when you stack pairs like this, the grid quickly becomes inflexible. So, a good job executing, with just a bit of IDEO, ELAL, INST.

Okay, AFLOWER felt inelegant as an "A prefix" constructor's crutch, but it does have dictionary support. GIVE EAR … it also has dictionary support. But again, hmm.

Maybe these entries are more common in England?

I would have preferred going up to 76 words, perhaps by rearranging black squares to break GIVE EAR and AFLOWER into two words apiece. For me, this would have made for a more elegant-feeling grid.

Overall though, a clever idea with some great finds. Fun to figure out all those answers pulling UEYs.

Sun 11/27/2016MIXOLOGY
CAFESCADSAMPSBIFF
USOFAOTOENORTEIDOL
BEARBRYANTGROUNDZERO
SCLERANEHIRANTOACE
MAITAISWIMGOGGLES
OFFSENTRIESMSU
PLEABARGAINSEMBLAZON
TIARAILLSTACOERATO
SPRINGELKOBODIDDLEY
DEERSNAILEDSERE
ETASTARTINGTIMESSIS
DADSATEATONSAKE
DREAMBOATWASPSIPHON
ADULTURSATALELIEGE
SEXTANTSPRENATALCARE
IDOBIASTIRELED
RADIANTHEATONERUN
EGOMARIATURFEDAMES
PARISMETROPIANODUETS
OMAREAMESONCEERECT
TAGSTERANITERUTHS

MIXOLOGY indeed, two common words interspersed to create snappy phrases. My favorite was GONZO + RUDER = GROUND ZERO, as GONZO is such a fun word to say, and GROUND ZERO is a vivid entry. BIDE + ODDLY = BO DIDDLEY was another fun example.

I'm not usually a fan of circles quasi-randomly strewn through a long entry, as that usually seems haphazard and inelegant. But this worked okay for me since the resulting phrases were all pretty darn good. I would have liked the two words to stand out better — it's awfully difficult to see GONZO and RUDER unless you're really squinting and toiling and grunting — but it's still a fun discovery.

I enjoyed some of the long fill Matt worked in, too. SEXTANTS and EMBLAZON were particularly nice. Good bonuses.

I wasn't as much a fan of the BIAS TIRE, SALT II, DONE IT ALL, PLAIN FACT sorts of entries. The first two are legit but are more neutral than positive for me, and the latter two seem slightly off to my ear — SEEN IT ALL and THAT'S A FACT or COLD HARD TRUTH seem much more spot-on to me.

And then there's AGNATES and SNAILED … hmm.

I also wasn't a fan of the plethora of gluey short entries required to hold the puzzle together. I don't mind a little A SEC or NEHI here or there, but it did feel like I encountered a lot of gluey bits during my solve — AEREO, NORTE, ISIN, OSA, SERE, etc. Sunday 140-word puzzles are so, so, so tough to make smooth.

Nice theme idea. It would have been great to have some way to make the individual words stand out more, but overall, enough interesting finds to keep my attention.

Fri 7/15/2016
GREASYAFRICANS
LAURIERAILEDAT
ANGORAALLINDIA
CHEMISTLEASERS
IONATAPEDODOS
AMISSBENDROBE
LEEISONOPENIN
UNIONIZED
LERNERACESPCS
AXESEINETAROT
CASESSTUBDEVO
EMPTIESPLUMBER
DIETDRUGOPIATE
UNCLELEOTURKEY
PETEBESTSPEEDS

Cool finding, UNIONIZED either pronounced as UN-I-ON-IZED by a CHEMIST, or UN-ION-IZED by a PLUMBER. Fun mini-theme holding this themeless together.

Themelesses are usually seeded with a few strong entries, and many times these get moved around from place to place, shifted back and forth without regard to symmetrical placements, in order to get better flexibility in filling. Forcing a placement of UNIONIZED in the center of the grid, along with CHEMIST / PLUMBER in symmetrical spots, is a tough way to start.

I like a lot of the entries Matt worked in, UNCLE LEO one of my favorite minor characters of all time. DIET DRUG right on top was fun, too. I'm not totally familiar with PETE BEST, but his auspicious place as a person called the "the fifth Beatle" makes him a neat addition to that corner.

But as a solver, I like a lot of grid flow, and this grid was too sectioned off for my taste. Each of the four corners was a bit of a mini-maze, with one entrance and one exit. I ended up getting badly stuck in the NW, as GREASY didn't totally seem like [Insincerely polite] and EUGENIE / IONA didn't come quickly. No doubt, sectioning a grid off like this helps immensely in construction, but can sometimes lead to dead-ends and frustration for solvers.

And overall, there wasn't enough sizzling fill for my taste, many of the long slots filled with the type of ADDED ON, LACED UP (not far away from UP UP), RAILED AT, PREBAKE entries that felt more neutral than colorful to me. It's tough to create a snazzy themeless when you fix three entries into place with such little flexibility.

I did really enjoy the UNIONIZED syllabication differences though. It would have been really neat to find a few more of these and create a themed puzzle around them.

Sun 8/2/2015LITERALLY SPEAKING
REPOTSKOSHSTGESAI
ARUBATHANKUCALLBACK
TUBERHEREINOKAYBYME
SPLITSECONDSTERNSEA
OTISANAORCASECT
CARLOTTORNTOSHREDS
AVENUESSEWEDONOTOE
MINCEMEATSEERSPOTON
ANEEDSODDRIFTAPART
SYMSSOTRUEOATS
SLYSCRAMBLEDEGGSTHO
BAALFLIMSYSWAB
MIXEDMEDIAMGMATONE
ANODESAMPSHASHMARKS
LOUDSWIPEATTEAROSE
INTERMINGLEDLEANTO
DEEDHEAROPTAMAT
THECLEFTFASTSHUFFLE
HALFTIMEOTTOIISILOS
UNBROKENNEESONCRAFT
DDAYENDORSONGETTY

Really nice finds; phrases that are self-descriptive of a word hidden inside. Sounds confusing, so here's an example: SPLIT SECOND = an order to split the word SECOND into S and ECOND. Another? CALL BACK is a hint that CALL is within CALL BACK … but backward = L L A C.

Segg, anyone?

Matt gives us 11 themers, with a mix of anagrams, split-ups, and reversals. It got a little confusing to me, so I categorized them:

ANAGRAMS: 5

SPLIT-UPS: 5

REVERSALS: 1

To have just one reversal thrown into the mix — and at the very top of the puzzle — felt a bit odd. Sure would have been nice to have a second one to balance it out. Right in the middle of the puzzle would have felt more elegant, too, but CALL BACK is unfortunately an even number of letters, so that's not possible.

As neat as it was to realize that the letters L L A C were within CALLBACK, I think the theme would have cohered better with just the five anagrams and five split-ups.

A lower number of themers would have helped cut down the gluey oddballs, too. I had a rough go of certain sections where themers crowded together, notably in the DIGHT / STAGY area, which felt a bit FLIMSY. I can see the construction difficulty level there is high — that area needing to coordinate around three themers — but staying away from that type of intensely constrained arrangement might have been better.

A little better result in the symmetrical spot, but any time you have to rely on Maleskan words like ORLE, a shift in black squares or themers might be better.

I really enjoyed some of the longer material, TWO ROOM FLATS in particular. Neat that "lodgings" accurately describes a singular lodging. (I had to look that up after it stymied me.) PUBLIC ENEMY and START A FIRE were sure OKAY BY ME.

ME LIKE … well, me no likey that as it sounds odd without the final Y, but it could easily be personal preference.

Some cool finds; perhaps a bit too much packed into a single grid.

Sun 11/30/2014ZAP!
ADDSFOISTCLARAIBMS
BROAMINDEDHORUSMEAL
ANNOUNCERSIRISHBALLA
ROOSAUDIHARSHAGILE
TITLECANITPREK
TSETSECHANGEOFADRESS
WINCECHAROSERETNT
ONTHESHAYSIDEREDSHOE
AGETASSIWINHAWN
MERINOSARSONZLOTYS
FIVEOCLOCKSHAOW
PAROLESUITSOOCYTES
IDOLSORTBRRROPA
LAYDOWNAOPTIONAGENCY
ANAZOICIOTASRAYON
FOLLOWTHELEAERWARMTO
PINSEDITSCANNA
SLAVEWEENYFJORDRNA
LAIESFIRSTELUCIDATES
ULNAINUSELEGALAVICE
RESTNEPALMESSYANKA

A Tale of Two Puzzles today. Interesting twist to a rebus theme, ADs getting zapped in the across direction to form wacky phrases. And it was fun to search for those little AD squares, each one a miniature a-ha moment when I uncovered it.

I'm not totally sure I got it, though. Why was the AD zapped in one direction only? And am I using that "ad zapping" term correctly? I did a search for "ad zapping" and got quite a mixture of results. It also felt awkward to have an extra AD that wasn't zapped in the across direction … at 1-Across, right at the very front. I wondered for the longest time if that was supposed to be a hint to the entire puzzle somehow.

Strong choices for themers, both getting snappy base phrases like FIVE O CLOCK SHADOW (something we rarely see because at 16 letters, it doesn't fit into most weekday grids) as well as resulting answers. BRO MINDED gave me a chuckle, exactly the way a kooky-themed puzzle should kick off.

But other longish fill includes ARISTOS, BARDED, EDESSA. Perhaps a case can be made for EDESSA, I suppose, as it has historical significance. I'm curious who uses the words ARISTOS and BARDED. Bueller?

Some brilliant clues to make the short fill really stand out. I kept a running list because there were so many ones that brought a smile to my face. I think it's worth going back through these entries to appreciate how fun their clues were: FIN, PINS, PAROLE, IDOL, COCAS, RNA, MEAL. And the clue for TASS might confuse some, but once you realize it's referring to ITAR-TASS, the old Russian news agency, it sings. I'm usually satisfied if I get three or four of these playful clues in an entire Sunday puzzle, so to get eight blows me away. Very well done.

Yet other short answers were tough, of the type that potentially turns non-addicts away from crosswords. SERE is ranked so low on my word list that I only can access it when I'm in truly desperate measures. OSO is near that level, as is the extended BRRR. It's funny how strongly just a couple of those types of entries can affect a person's experience (subjective, of course). Will recently mentioned SLA and SDI are entries he's very strongly discouraging as near "puzzle-killers," and I feel like there are a few more that could be added to that list.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience, a hunting expedition for those AD squares lurking in the grid (in the down direction, at least), and making the leap that the ADs had to be zapped in the across. As with most Sunday puzzles, some compromises in the eternal quest to bring out the best of times. Dickensian, indeed. (Although Will says he's not purposefully trying to fool Dr. Fill at the ACPT, I love the image Matt paints of Will twirling his Snidely Whiplash mustache as he plots a la Uriah Heep.)

POW Thu 11/6/2014
SKIPOLESOBIWAN
HEDONISTRESALE
INASENSEEERIER
MOSESEMIGRATED
DERNMOPE
PESACHHONOLULU
AVASEBANNINES
REDPARTINGSEA
INAPTYETIBERG
STTHOMASSPARSE
AMANTIER
GUARANTOREGYPT
ORDAINSAOPAULO
ODDONETIREIRON
PUSHERETERNITY

★ I really enjoyed this one. Sometimes puzzles trying to do too much fall flat, but this hybrid of part tricky Thursday and part themeless-style fill worked well for me. There's not a huge amount of theme — PARTING of the RED / SEA, plus PHARAOH, ISRAELI, MOSES, and EGYPT — but the visual PARTING of the unclued entries RED and SEA was a neat added bonus.

Although there's not a huge theme density at 37 theme squares, the fact that there are essentially five seed answers (four short ones plus RED / PARTING / SEA across the middle) ups the level of difficulty. Matt does well to spread his themers around, placing the four loose ones into different quadrants of the grid, which allows for high flexibility in fill. Take for example, the SE corner. With just EGYPT fixed into place, Matt has great freedom to place colorful entries like SAO PAULO, TIRE IRON, and PEEPER, working that corner through dozens of possibilities.

And the clues are strong, with themeless-level cleverness. YETI gives us a really interesting bit of trivia. [Snake's place, in part] mystified me, until I realized the "snake" was actually a capitalized "Snake," i.e. the Snake River. Great use of placement, hiding that capital letter at the very beginning of the clue. BERG also gave me a great a-ha moment when I realized 4/14/12 was talking about 4/14/1912, not 4/4/2012. Excellent piece of deception.

Just like any puzzle, it's not perfect, with its smattering of OSTE, IDAS, ALEE, A MAN. But notice how these four bits of crossword glue are spread out? That deft touch made those four bits less apparent for me during my solve. And I did find PESACH a bit of an ODD ONE, but it was buried in the recesses of my memory banks somewhere. A Jewish buddy of mine confirmed that it's totally legit.

Overall, a highly entertaining solve for me. I like puzzles that break molds and conventions, and I found the mixture of the trickiness of a Thursday and the chock-full goodness of a themeless to be spot on.

Fri 3/7/2014
ICKINESSFLAGON
THENANNYTATAMI
CITATIONCITRIC
HATSSWEEDEATH
TALIAMONGST
SCHADENFREUDE
ERATORENTDEA
MAZESPADELOST
IBMCHANROOST
ALLMYCHILDREN
ACTAEONERSE
RASTAECTOSEAS
BRUINSREBOTTLE
OVINESAROMATIC
RETORTNOTGREAT

As you're reading this, I will be having a drink with Matt, one of the most fun people to hang out with at the ACPT. He and I share a lot of interests including xws, bridge (yes, the old person card game), and programming, among other hobbies. Reading his Notes made me laugh and also go back to his older puzzles to see if I hadn't missed an Easter Egg (a surprise bonus inside a puzzle, not overtly called out, that only astute solvers will pick up) he cleverly slipped by.

Before getting to the puzzle, another story about Matt. He wrote me about one puzzle to see if I understood it, and I was honestly baffled. I stared at it for the longest time before finally admitting defeat. Check it out and see if you agree with Matt or Will on the clue for 36A. Now that I understand it, I side with Matt. The fact that I couldn't figure it out on my own probably means Will was right, though.

Ah, the puzzle, a extremely tough workout for me, especially the northern hemisphere. Matt works in some great marquee fill, my favorites being GARAGE DOOR, HAZMAT SUIT, and the incredibly difficult to spell SCHADENFREUDE (note: I spelled this wrong even after I double-checked it; thanks David Barnhouse!). What is the latter, you ask? It's that feeling you get of guiltily giggling behind your hands when a bird poops on the head of your enemy (not that I've ever done that — neither the giggling nor the pooping). Ah, those wacky Germans.

The north was so difficult for me, starting with SCHADENFREUDE appropriately enough (no giggling, please). I didn't know what MENE was, so I jammed MANE in, misspelling it SCHADENFRAUDE. Rats! And then the cluing in the NE corner was so opaque that it took a good guess on DEATH to break things open. I might have preferred at least one easier clue up there — [Furnishing in many tearoom] is a really nice clue for TATAMI, but surrounded by so many other vague clues, that area played like a hard Saturday more than a Friday for me. If you had trouble too, take solace that tomorrow's puzzle came much easier to me; perhaps the same will be true for you.

I didn't really get what THE NANNY / LOST / ALL MY CHILDREN meant, or why it was funny as a statement, so I was really glad to read Matt's Note. On previous puzzles, I've tended to agree with Will more than Matt (in the interests of catering to a larger number of solvers), but on this one, I think I like Matt's subtle tongue-in-cheekery better. Sorry Will!

Fri 7/12/2013
JUSTADROPSTARK
ANTONIONIREGAL
CRANKCASESMOTE
KEYHONESTPURE
PASSTSRRATTAN
ODIOUSVEILICE
TYNANGENTLESEX
RUSEDEBS
SWISSALPSUNDER
HASELSEETERNE
OREIDARNASICS
OWEDDESOTOVAT
TOYEDMODELLERS
AROSEINORDERTO
TNUTSLAZYSUSAN
Sat 5/11/2013
DRAWERBASILICA
REMORAARCHIVAL
ELIJAHHARAKIRI
WORTMAIMVEEPS
ASSYRSAILED
LOTTSANTANA
PARAGUAYMOOCOW
OREURBANIIIVA
RIESENWINDYDAY
TAKESTOGAEA
ATONCEANDES
SASHAFORTGRAM
LOCATIONRATITE
ENIWETOKECZEMA
DESKSETSFEEDER
Sun 4/7/2013FITTING REARRANGEMENTS
IDAHOAIDAJEERRARE
SOLINGINORDERTOEBON
LOADERDORMITORYZEST
ARSENALISEESEAHORSE
SNOOZEALARMSLENDER
OUTEATKAABEETS
COMTEDEBITCARDUSETO
ANOSGONEBADMARGNIN
DLRMORGEORGEBUSH
DOESOVERSOONNGAIO
YAZOOSETAMOILORNIS
NSYNCPABAAIRRIFLE
ASTRONOMEREYEERR
MFGTRAMREVERSECRIB
ARENABADCREDITBONGO
DONORENEFIGARO
EMINEMFIREOFLONDON
NATURISTDUCTLATEFEE
ITISDIRTYROOMPALOMA
COVESLOWLANESEMILES
EZERTODOLOSTSADAT
Sun 12/16/2012HEARING DOUBLE
ASPICCAMEAAWOLACR
SOREATOLANDLAVATOO
WOODYOUMINEDBLESSERS
ENSOLMOSNEEDTHEDOE
AYEOFKNUTEPROTDINT
TIARAANOLOTRKARAT
NODOSEMAIDOFMETTLE
MADMENALEEINI
ASKERSHASITASLANT
COHOSCESTGOODKNIGHT
KAAARIAALAEROD
KNOTFORPROPHETTIETO
SLOOPSAMOURDIMWIT
IWOGRIPSPATES
HALVETHERITEBROOCH
AMEEROXENLOOFOEHN
IPSOINREBYRDOFPRAY
LESISMOOREUNDERELM
IDOLATRYAISLEOFWHITE
NUNSHEASNEERFORGET
GPSHEELEDDYSWENDS
Sun 9/23/2012BREATH-TAKING
WOLFISHMESASBADDEST
ENOUNCEBLUSHALIENEE
BONSOIRAIRLINETRAVEL
GENOMEELIZAROIL
HAINIGHTOWLSREMITS
ITSSOTRAINAMBLE
SALADSETRESNOOKEDU
STATEOFTHEARTAYEAYES
NISEIIPASSBEAN
MADESUREASLANCABLE
IDSARMTOTHETEETHREW
ADORNOBIESTRAITORS
SLUEDINEDSTRAW
MENTIONSEVENYEARITCH
ADDMORSEILYARUNWAY
JULEPPEAKSPAESE
WATUSIOLDSCHOOLEER
ATONTHOSEVALDEZ
FORESTOFARDENPOETESS
ENTAILSTBONEESCARPS
RESUMESSYNODRAILSAT
Thu 9/13/2012
PAPWHYADLIBS
AREAREALIEGES
YONRESTFRENCH
DUNKSBOCARIAA
ISAYOUZOSATUP
REMOUNTMALTESE
TSETSECECERED
OMELETTES
EATAGIOSPASMS
ARRAIGNCASHCOW
SMALLEROSIONE
TOILIDOLOBOTE
MINORSOOZEPAT
ARETHAFRAUEGO
NEESONSPFDEN
Sat 2/18/2012
ROASTERSTUSHES
ONTHELAMINLOVE
CALAMINEMARLEE
OPAPASTIESDAS
CASCOHAIROORT
ORTHLONIWANDA
AGORANATTER
SWAPOUTSERMONS
TIGERSTHEME
ASNAPARODAGOG
THOUIMUSILONA
EBSRHYTHMSRBI
POTSIEHOOLIGAN
ENIGMAINREPOSE
NECTARSEASONED
Thu 9/8/2011
STUERWINSELECT
EASTERLYIRONER
TRACTILEDENALI
HEFYENSEMITIC
APRESSKIEEK
WOLFEVERITE
PTUIAESCENSE
MERRYPRANKSTERS
AESOPMOSRASP
TURRETKESEY
IVARAISABLE
NOLIMITBLUJFK
DITTOSTOODLEOO
ILEAVEAVOGADRO
CARTEDREMEDIAL
Sun 9/4/2011THAT'S DISGUSTING!
ARTSLEAFLIKETSGARP
NEHILENAOLINSHELTER
GAELICWARNINGHAVARTI
ELIOTEGADARTESIAN
RASCLASSICACTIONSUIT
ELLHUGOLIENMLS
DEEDRUSTICBUCKETS
OSAKAABOMBALCAN
UPFORUNSETLAILAALI
SUMSCANNEDKINGLYRIC
ERATRODINCNOTESPEE
FINETUNICPRONETOENT
UTILIZEDBEETSPANSY
LYCEEIRESTZIPIT
ORIGINALCYNICLEVI
SOOWISCOTOERAM
TOPICOFTHEMORNINGARP
ALIMENTSCERAGONNA
MANMADEGREATLYMYSTIC
PLEASEDPUTTOSEALIST
SADDERASSENTTOOCHS
Sun 4/17/2011END OF THE LINE
TSAGULAGWADESPSALM
AOLERATOERODEALLEE
ISTILLDOBUTIUSEDTOTOO
COINSNUBSRESERVOIR
HOMERSSEULLUCIA
INAPEDESTRIANSPOCKET
TEAMOTIORESTUP
FADSKIPITNAANURI
ESAUTHROUGHNOTDYING
NIMBLEINSNOVAE
APOORJUDGEOFANATOMY
ALIENIREDEWIER
NOITAKETHATBACKSLAP
OWNROUXSTREAMOHM
DETACHSITONTOP
SOTHATSHOWITCOMESOUT
TAROTMIDISTERNA
SUPERDOMENEEDSUTIL
ISINAGLASSJARONMYDESK
DANDDELSIEEZINEGOT
ERASEDOESTDEPOTANO
Thu 3/10/2011
READINGCELLAR
ALBANIASOMEONE
WORDSPRONOUNCED
BIOSYBILDAME
ASAMIITEMLOY
REDONDORAPINE
BAILEYNOTES
DIFFERENTLY
SPELLANGELI
CAMEASGOESBAD
RDATORISHARE
ATRAMISSMNIA
WHENCAPITALIZED
LASTONEIMANAGE
SITSBYRAINIER

I read Matt's note three times before finally e-mailing him to figure out what I was missing. I literally slapped my forehead when I heard back from him: of course "differently" is pronounced "differently", whether or not the D is capitalized. Good one, Matt!

Thu 2/3/2011
RAKESMOWSAARE
ADOUTICEEPOOL
BORNELATEENOS
BLEUBLTSARETE
IFACLUEPFFT
HERPOLLUTES
TUEINSANAROCK
ISMISSINGUSETHE
EDITINDENTSOW
RATSTAILTYS
SUNSNEXTONE
SCOOTTEARAVON
ROWSORTSATEIT
IDEAWANTCURSE
SENDSLAYESTER
Fri 12/3/2010
ATWOSHEATBAR
LEADCHILLHOMO
TELEPHONICELMS
APELOADHARLEY
RESTARTHERMIT
SEAICELUMMOXES
MESSILYPURL
FREEDTECGYPSY
LAVAPINESOL
UTENSILSQUAHOG
INDENTCUREALL
BOOTEDGOADNEA
ANDIOPENSEASON
LADDWENCHGOLD
ELSENASHAMES

This puzzle can be seen during the pilot episode of "Perception" on TNT.

Sun 5/16/2010DOUBLE CROSSERS
FASERINTHERDSPANO
AREGOANDRETTICHETER
DEFOGBEAUFORTHECTOR
ENAETEKENNYPEAHEN
SANGRIASLESREEFSLR
YAMMERERLESSTIA
DONNECAVSATTERSGT
VOWDWAYNEABUSEETHE
IDEAMANOLDCARSTROT
CONVERIONJENNIFER
ESSEEMUSIRTGIARCA
DURATIONCONTRTION
GTOSSAVANNAITSALOT
SAINERHOPANDNOTEKE
ULMDETERSMAIKIDDI
CLEPRAYCELERITY
KILPRODPHDTOLUENES
PITIEDSEARSALTIDO
COMICSHOLLOWEDIONIC
PLINKSSTEEPENSORECK
LITTLTSETSESNESTS
Thu 4/8/2010
BRILLIGGIMBLE
LINEARAFORAGED
ALCOHOLREADING
SEASONGYRERYE
RECAPCLAD
BANDERSNATCH
OREOIGNORAMUS
DIEOUTMYSORE
YARDSALESETAL
LEWISCARROLL
CAKESNIDE
HUHWABEJAILED
ARAPAHOSULTANA
TAKESONORIENTS
SLITHYBEAMISH
Sun 2/14/2010THAT'S AMORE
NEHIAETNABLINDHAJI
OPENRERANSODOMOLIN
WHATISLOVESCIFIOILS
TUNETAMSKOANKALE
FRIENDSHIPSETTOMUSIC
MEATPIEOCATREPEAT
KEYSTONEROWANASSN
TDSELMSNOLOAD
THEBEAUTYOFTHESOUL
PUTOUTMILELAICORZO
CHANGESLUNTSTHEREIN
BORERUHROOHSORELSE
SHARINGYOURPOPCORN
TEAPOTOPAHGYM
VEGAREMUSSIGNORAS
PAMELARINGLEERING
AMANYSPLENDOREDTHING
NONETRODEMILDRED
DOURHITITALLYOUNEED
ASEAMOTTSALIENTREO
SELLAROSEMEESESSGT
Thu 2/4/2010
SEASALTATLASES
ABRIDGEBRIGADE
GRIEVEDDIVERGE
SOAVESAUCEGYM
ERRPLEBS
MAWBABESAYEST
ODESTAXIINTWO
THICKENKITCHEN
HOGANSHEDHYDE
SCHLEPTALCLED
DEALTYAP
SECBLIPSFLOAT
PROTEANPATERNO
ANDANTEATANEND
MEANDERRENAMED
Thu 12/3/2009
LTRSSIRNOSOUP
POETPLOSECURE
NOGOAREAARTIST
LAGGARDSVOIT
MARYIISHEAUNE
ITDONAITCHIER
DEEMGOETHE
DENVERLETTE
SEAGODHONE
KRISHNASETHEM
REFISPSAVAILS
ANODSTARMAPS
KONICAURBANPOP
OILRIGNCODUNE
WRYESTGOBESSU
Sun 11/1/2009COMPOUND FRACTURES
CAPSBATTABHORCDS
APOCRYPHAPIANOTWEET
RETROSPECTACLESVILLE
BATESKATFLEWAKITE
ELEPHANTOMSPORADICAL
AILSYANCORTESPAS
RELCRAGWADIDOTE
PSYCHEDELICACYNODICE
AAHALAEATMISOS
CONTRABANDONLIPBALMS
UTAHSEDGEEFILETAME
OHFATHERROULETTERMAN
METRORAJAMOICI
ORATORGUITARISTOCRAT
ILAYSVENNOELEGO
RECLECTERSTLAFEW
PERHAPSODYFOREVERIES
HIROSHIMAZOLAASAN
OSAKACENTIPEDESTRIAN
TETESARDENMAKEHASTE
ORANSYNCNYESTHAW
Tue 10/6/2009
ERIKOMNIOCCAM
RAMAREAMELLIS
ISMYCAMPGROUND
SPOORDEALSEGO
BLEEDRECEDES
HEADQUARTERS
ARTDOZEYECCH
IREDSTILTTHRO
RYDERNOAHAAA
THANKSGIVING
SPAREMESTINK
AOKIOUTSSPECS
BLITZKRIEGEDAM
LARUEORCARUSE
ERASENETSSPEE
Sat 8/15/2009
MASTSSRIUSPS
UNPAIDMANIACAL
STILLERANDMEARA
THECOVERSOFVON
EELSISTOOBELT
RMSBOOMRBONES
COURTRAGS
THISBOOKARE
AAASEPICS
TURKEYSENEPTL
OSHAOLORDSHOE
UTETOOFARAPART
GREENHOUSEGASES
HILLTOPSDARING
SASSOSERECTO
Sun 6/21/2009FAMOUS LAST WORDS
OSCARWHAMHAMWILDE
MAORIAUTOMATABESEEM
ISLASREMNANTSRILEUP
THEBENDSGROUCHOMARX
ITEFOCIEDAM
LOUCOSTELLOSTAIRUMA
AKCSOFAPIERRECPUS
BRAESDOGGONEITCASTS
SALVADORDALIBEPOLITE
ARISONOPENALIZES
DESPOTNWTJASROGERS
EXTENSIONBUYECRU
PEERGYNTCONRADHILTON
OTROSFIREDOORSNARCO
TEENYEMENILEOSATE
SROMORESDYLANTHOMAS
IRONADESEEN
PANCHOVILLAPAPACIES
IAMTOOILLEGALSRANDI
DAEWOOPLAYEDUPOLDEN
ERROLSSNROSSFLYNN
Sat 5/30/2009
JUSTMEBANDB
ONEHALFSAMPRAS
JACUZZICHORIZO
OWLYITZHAKVAC
BAUMECOLIPEAK
ARDORHOOFOURS
SEEOUTSCRIMPS
CLAPKAVA
SPHERICPETARD
SLOESZOGRUMOR
WOLDOZARKMAMA
AWEHOAXINGZAG
GINFIZZSEIZING
ESTEVEZTERENCE
HAZEDDODGED
Tue 4/28/2009
ICERSTOMBDEAF
SAMOAINGAUCAL
PRIMPGIRDLORI
STRAIGHTGALLON
NEATCUNNING
STRONGCLYDE
AHASEALEASHES
WISESPEAKSICK
SNACKSANERGHI
LOSERNACHOS
SIMILESBANA
ONAPARSLIPPERY
LUGSASTIATRIA
ISMEPEENSOBER
DEADHARDTREND
Sat 4/4/2009
PAGECHILIAPRS
ERRSLOMANERIE
ERASOPPOSITION
LICENSESENNETT
EVENNESSCHASER
RAFTERPORETRY
LUIPETERI
LASTLETTERS
LAREDOREG
TOPNUDEBEEPER
SPADESRELEGATE
HERESTOSECURED
INACTIVATELAVA
REDONAMEDATEN
TREYGLOSSRENT
Sun 2/1/2009GRID-IRONY
STIRHUMSABITOFBELTS
TILEDASIAROSITAOXEYE
ALLIEZEALMOLTENATONE
PLENARYHIPBALLCARRIER
LEGATECAVESMELINDA
ERAHASHMARKSOEDPOLK
DSLGUAMIPSERIPOPEN
MORALSTHEATRESLIEGE
TWOMINUTEWARNINGRUNLOW
RATEDIVANNEGLECT
ANINDOSESOCKICKOFF
IDOSUPERBOWLSUNDAYFRO
TANTEEOMNIRASPAFAR
FATCATSENGRAGENT
PROAMSPASSINTERFERENCE
OVULESTRENGTHAIRERS
LETSNOTADINATNOIRA
ERSEKEGTIGHTENDSVIS
STREAMSSOILSEASELS
NEUTRALZONEDNAESTELLA
IXNAYTENORSTRODADIEU
PETRIIBERIAEGADYENTL
SCOTTPOTENTDEFYREST
Tue 12/2/2008
CREWSACLUBOOM
LEGITCLAPIONA
INGLEHUSHSONY
NEEDEDCHOOCHOO
KERPLUNKLOU
ISLAADMIRED
PINGACATPTERO
SOUSCREECHDIN
SWISHESAIPONG
TATTOOSSTAT
RAPBEEPBEEP
SPLATTERDOOMTO
OLAFFLEEGAMAL
HOMEOINKETYPE
OPEDRATEESSES
Sat 10/4/2008
OHBOYMFORIPOD
PERSEEIRENASA
TREATNARCISSUS
IMAGINATIONIS
MAKESITNUGGETS
ANSSAEPENSEE
THERMSSIOUX
MOREIMPORTANT
GENIISTRESS
RIPESTYENRUE
ERASMUSLECTERN
THANKNOWLEDGE
TYRANNIESOTHER
AMORENNEWRONG
BALDYSERNATTY
Thu 9/4/2008
THORNITINADDE
RELEEDECISION
AUDIOLEISURELY
PRESCIENCEHULA
PERSONALITY
UNCAGEOMEGA
DUKEHREIDEALS
ONESECONDCUE
ZIPPEDSRSSHEA
EXTRATUKTUK
INFINITIVES
AHEMANDALUSIAN
ROYALTIESRUNTO
THECHECKNICER
SODDARKSSTENT
Thu 7/24/2008
MAKOFLESHWORF
ALEXEULERELAL
DUMBULLETSLADY
EMPORIUMELFIN
WINSITUATION
CROSSEOTTO
HERIRONEDOUT
ONCEISNOTENOUGH
POSTDATESTHE
EINEPLEASE
CHIRODRIGUEZ
HASNTDIRTPOOR
ALLIRAINGOAWAY
SEATATONESIRE
MYMYEMMYSSESS
Sun 7/13/2008PARTING THOUGHTS
BRASHATLBOPPRISKIT
RECTOCRUCIBLEARCANA
UNARMTOBOGGANCIARDI
TODIEQUIETLYINMYSLEEP
AGUASTINDERHYENA
BESTIALHOESHHSMTN
ENTERSMINPAYEES
EERLIKEMYGRANDFATHER
FREDIDOAUSTENRAVE
GEARDEMESNEEMERIL
BETHESDANOTSHREWDLY
ATCOSTINVOICERETD
SIAMAVENUEMARDIOS
SCREAMINGINTERRORMEA
YVETTEHAYREFERS
STLINABORNLAGASSE
PRIMALATINALECAR
LIKETHEPEOPLEINHISCAR
IBERIAASTOLDTONIECE
FALCONCLASSIEREDDIE
FLYINGEASTTREDEEDS
Thu 2/28/2008
WRAPGRIMEMAIL
EASERANIGAGNE
ABITADINGOOFF
RESERVATIONGOT
ROARDUOS
TAOISMORIGINAL
ELFSEINEFORA
NOTHINGISBETTER
THEONOSIRINK
SANCTIONGIANTS
KERRPACT
THETRANSPARENT
RAVELNEAPEMER
IRENECOLLSIMI
MESSYESMETTOP
Sun 2/3/2008JUST FOLLOW DIRECTIONS
LOFTDEADONUPSIDEC
HELLOERNESTELEONORA
TOMEIERESTUHARDLOOK
TIECLIPSPOPGUNAANDE
PICKEDSMISLEDPAYEES
STEROSIERTIS
ACCSALINESTWOHEADS
LOOSSLATSWOONXMEN
LOUTSOLEOTEEFSTALE
ALREADYSUPRASCARRIE
TRIADSTEAKAILEY
SMELLYJOININGREMLIN
OASISFERNNEMOSELMA
CLANDLEIFSAGEWING
KINGLEAREASEONTSOS
AUKSPATESOHM
SPAWNSPEARLSCLEANSE
PALEOMOESHALIARLIAR
ONEFLESHHANSOMOASTS
SETTINGSARTUROAWAIT
EDASNERSTANDCDINE
Thu 1/24/2008
SPARSOTCOCHS
PINATAROADJACK
ARISESAERIALLY
CAMPAIGNTRAIL
ETAMARAYNEWE
SELFAVGSDAK
LYNNEMEKONG
GROUNDRUNNING
OLEOLESNOOD
JAGRSEASOLE
SDIAPOPSTPOD
NAILONTHEHEAD
COALMINEAVANTI
BULLSEYEHITTHE
STDSDIDSHOES
Thu 1/17/2008
ABSORBSTHEBLOB
TEQUILASUNRISE
REITMANUGLIEST
ANNENDERENOS
ASKPILAF
SILLYESESREI
TREASUREISLAND
PATRONSSCOURGE
ANIMALCRACKERS
TINVITUSERST
BETHSCBS
OHSOOSCARFIB
REPOMANAVARICE
BLAZINGSADDLES
SPREADSSESAMES

4 Variety puzzles by Matt Ginsberg

Sun 1/4/2015
SPASPOPSSCOTS
PINTARESTERRA
LANELOANAREEL
INERRANTALINES
TOEOUTSARIS
ILESLINEMAN
TRADEPLUSSATE
UIESTEAMEDYON
TAREREINESSIE
SLOSHEDARTE
PEASEORALES
TOHOLDLEVELONE
ITOUTPERIAGUE
MOOSEANINNARD
ESTERTANGENES
Sun 3/3/2013
CHARSSASHIDE
HOSEASAKIENOS
OOHEDIRAERANT
UPENDINGGAMINE
TESSRECODES
AMBERSVOLES
SUERURISRATER
ILESEEDERSORE
SERRADANOCOIN
ETAILMALLET
RIFLINGLAVA
INLANDFINESSES
SUITRILERHODA
ERTEERASSERIN
REESIANESTEE
Sun 5/13/2012
DISPARATEHOSTA
UNTUTOREDOSCAR
STATELESSSCALE
TONLATSSTIPES
LINESTILES
RESEEDBEALL
ATTARSERGEANTS
NAANSLAVETEAT
ISRAELITEFIBRE
GNATSLOOSEN
COACTSTURN
MANIASDOSELET
IRONSTENTSTAKE
SENSEOVERTAKES
STETSMARESNEST
Sun 5/17/2009
GLAMVISADAMS
RARACELTSEXIT
AMINARLESCIDE
SEATINGMILEAGE
ANTESSEALER
PRESTOPATES
ROYONEALRESIN
ICEDSEDERDALE
EASESRISESHIE
TIMONCHOLER
MASALAGUTEN
ACTIONSROSERED
CHANSUGARSALE
HEREORALSITIN
USEDNESSEAST