Thursday, October 13, 2022, Amanda Rafkin


 The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect, illustrated in the preceding 3 minute video, is a metaphor for the key idea behind a science called CHAOS THEORY: a small  initial event in one location can be greatly amplified through a series of chain reactions that ultimately result in a very large event happening very far away.  The classic example is that of a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon River basin, ultimately causing a storm in Siberia.

Today veteran constructor (NYT and LAT) Amanda Rafkin riffs on Chaos Theory with a theme taken not from science, but from the dark arts.  Here's her reveal:

60A. Power that enables the Scarlet Witch to rewrite reality, and a hidden feature of the answers to the starred clues?: CHAOS MAGIC.  As I'm sure we're all aware, the Scarlet Witch is a denizen of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and not someone you'd want to mess with:

Scarlet Witch

And how does she accomplish this magic?  Don't be fooled by the above picture, as she doesn't do it with circles (CSO to AnonymousDNLC).  She simply flaps her butterfly wings to unscramble the anagrams cleverly concealed in the following themers:

15. *"Love Story" star: ALI MACGRAW.  Get out your handkerchiefs:

26. *Sports event whose medals feature braille inscriptions: PARALYMPIC GAMESHere's a link from the 2020 games with their history, some curiosities, the differences with the Olympic Games and the elements that make them a unique sporting event, different from all the others.

Paralympic Games 2012

45. *Candy smokes: BUBBLEGUM CIGARS.  For expectant fathers who've kicked the nicotine habit ...

And if you still don't see them, here's the grid with the themers highlighted in RED with the embedded, scrambled anagrams in BLACK on WHITE:
Be under no illusion that it was a simple trick to come up with three 2 word themers, including 2 grid spanners, embedded with scrambled MAGIC.

And now for the rest of Amanda's cruciverbal prestidigitation:


1. Point of Grant Wood's "American Gothic"?: TINE.  Nice indirection and something you wouldn't want pointed at YOU.
American Gothic
Grant Wood 1930

5. Knight's title: SIR.

8. Rescue squad VIPs: EMTS.

12. Tibetan monks: LAMASLAMA is a Tibetan word meaning"highest principle"and is a title for a teacher of the Dharma in Tibetan Buddhism. The spiritual leader of all of the Tibetan lamas is the 14th Dalai Lama, currently living in exile in India.
Dalai Lama
13. PPO counterpart: HMOPreferred Provider Organization vs. Health Maintenance Organization.

14. Terra's Greek counterpart: GAIA.  In Greek mythology, Gaia is the personification of the Earth  and one of the Greek primordial deities. The Greeks considered Gaia to be the ancestral mother of all life.  The word geology is derived from her name and in recent years she has inspired the Gaia Hypothesis, which asserts that the entire Earth is a single organism.  This hypothesis was formulated in the 1970s by chemist James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn Margulis.  A similar idea was put forth around the same time in an essay from The Lives of the Cell by physician Lewis Thomas.

17. Prophetic sign: OMEN.

18. Place to go for pro tips?: SALON.  Mani-pedi place?

19. __ closet: LINEN.

21. Reddit admin: MOD.  Reddit Moderators do more than just administer the site platform, but play an active leadership role.  Hand up if you're a moderator or participant in Reddit?

22. __ vincit omnia: AMOR.  Or as the Beatles would put it ...

23. Tight-lipped: MUM.

24. Pulitzer-winning novelist Jennifer: EGANJennifer Egan is an American novelist and short-story writer. Egan's novel A Visit from the Goon Squad won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.
Jennifer Egan

31. "ur 2 funny": LOLLaughing Out Loud.

32. Some autumn babies: SCORPIOS.  Those babies born between October 23 and November 22 that is.  SCORPIO (♏︎) is the eighth astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Scorpius.
Scorpio Astrological Sign

33. Link letters: URLUniversal Resource Locator, text that can be translated into the IP (Internet Protocol) address used by routers to locate a resource on the World Wide Web (e.g. this blog).

36. Corn core: COB.

38. Paramore music genre: EMO.   Paramore is an American rock band from Franklin, Tennessee, formed in 2004. The band currently consists of lead vocalist Hayley Williams, guitarist Taylor York and drummer Zac Farro.  Here's "All We Know" from their 2005 debut album "All We Know is Falling":

39. __ Arbor, Michigan: ANN.

40. Grottoes carved by waves: SEA CAVESTwenty of the most beautiful sea caves in the world.

43. Cookbook writer Garten: INA.  Also known as the Barefoot Contessa.

50. Common mixer: SODA.

51. Rapper Lil __ X: NASMontero Lamar Hill (born April 9, 1999), known by his stage name Lil Nas X  is an American rapper and singer.  Here's his country crossover hit Old Town Road (didn't think I'd like it, but I did):

52. "Ok, ok! Turn the alarm off!": IM UP.  I usually get to the alarm before Teri hears it.

53. Cheer syllable: RAH.

54. Supreme being: DEITY.

57. "Goosebumps" series author: STINERobert Lawrence Stine born October 8, 1943) has been called the "Stephen King of children's literature".  He has published a total of 62 books in the Goosebumps series, beginning with Welcome to Dead House (1992) and finishing with Monster Blood IV in 1997.  There have been several adaptations.  Here's a trailer from the TV series:

58. Ridesharing choice: UBER.

62. Muppet who once testified before Congress: ELMO.   ELMO testified before Congress in 2002 in support of federal funding for music education and research.  Despite thoroughly scouring YouTube and CSPAN I was unable obtain footage.  I suspect that the video has been classified, and may have been squirreled away somewhere in a closet in Florida.  But here's the Archive proving that it actually happened.

63. Darlin': HON.

64. Don: PUT ON.

65. Sunflower edible: SEED.

66. Covert __: OPS.

67. Gets better in a wine cellar, hopefully: AGES. A CSO to our Chairman.  I don't think he lives in a cellar, but I'm sure he's getting better as he AGES.


1. Professional with a fitting job?: TAILOR.  My Mother (1925 - 2020) was a TAILOR.  She began an apprenticeship in England just prior to WWII, which was interrupted by a 2 year stint in a factory welding fins on 500 lb bombs.  She completed her training afterwards, married my Dad on VJ Day, came to the US, had 5 children, and taught all 4 daughters to sew.  She could do anything with fine fabrics and furs and she could fit anyone in a dress or suit (assuming there was enough material!).  I believe she was the last of the great British seamstresses.  Here she is in her early 90s having a cuppa tea:
Mary Seeley

2. Unethical: IMMORAL.  Is there a difference?  It's complicated.

3. Flatbread served with tikka masala: NAAN.  "Flatbread" gave away the crosswordese NAAN, but if you've never had tikka masala here's an easy recipe:
Tikka Masala
4. Key used to exit?: ESC.

5. Cocktail ingredients: SHRIMPS.   Does the recipe call for "2 dozen SHRIMPS" or "2 dozen SHRIMP".  I thought they were the DEER of the aquatic world.

6. "Ms. Marvel" star Vellani: IMAN.  Somehow I had this confused with "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", but this story is about Ms. Marvel, an American TV fantasy miniseries that also takes place in the Marvel Universe, created by Bisha K. Ali and featuring the character Kamala Khan / Ms. Marvel.  Here's the trailer:

7. Investment firm T. __ Price: ROWE.  Teri worked for them for 20 years as a programmer in their IT department.  Here's Trusty, their logo:

8. Subject of inflation: EGO.  Today's Latin lesson.

9. "Dancing Queen" musical: MAMMA MIA.  Who said the Bee Gees invented disco?

10. Get really drunk: TIE ONE ON. Was Amanda intoxicated by all those vowels?

11. Hourglass stuff: SAND.  Or "Sand stuff: HOURGLASS".

12. Alpaca kin: LLAMAThe beast, not the priest (see 12A).

15. "Stat!": ASAP.  Not the same:  STAT is NOW!, not just SOON.  OTOH, I used to work in a clinical path lab, and when all the doctors ordered all the tests STAT, they got them ASAP.

16. Morose: GLUM.

20. Campari aperitivo: NEGRONI.  Invented in Florence by the dauntless Italian Count Camillo Negroni in the early 20th century.  Here's a recipe for his eponymous cocktail.

23. Top 10 Lionel Richie song with the lyric "Honey, you're everything I need": MY LOVE.  I hope you've still got that hankie handy:

25. Unfilled space: GAP.

27. Spot for a small business?: LOCAL AD.

28. Raw bar need: ICE.  Chesapeake Bay sushi.  Yum, yum ...
Oysters on the half shell

29. Stand-up folks?: COMICS.  This marvelous COMIC had to start somewhere ...

30. Nine-digit ID: SSN.

33. __ port: USB.  They say that "the nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them".  Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard that establishes specifications for cables, connectors and protocols for connection, communication and power supply (interfacing) between computers, peripherals and other computers.   That said, "a broad variety of USB hardware still exists, including 14 different connector types, of which USB-C is the most recent and the only one not currently deprecated", e.g.

34. Like tote bags and metal straws: REUSABLE.

35. Opera that inspired "Rent": LA BOHEMERent is a rock musical loosely based on Giacomo Puccini's 1896 opera.  The musical tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in Lower Manhattan's East Village in the thriving days of bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. 

After reviewing a few clips of Rent I'm willing to bet (although I won't be around to pay up if I lose) that La Boheme, having already survived 126 years will still be on a stage somewhere in 2148, whereas Rent will not.  Here is the scene from Act I of La Boheme where the landlord Benoit breaks in on the Bohemians to demand the rent ("affito" in Italian), perhaps the origin of the musical's title.  The Bohemians proceed to get him drunk and eventually cajole him into admitting that he is cheating on his wife.  In mock outrage they throw him out of the apartment, and shortly afterwards will head out to the streets of Paris to party (4 mins):

37. Implore: BEG.

41. Oil in some dispensary products: CBD.  I had COD for this initially until I realized that you don't need a prescription for it.  Replace the O with a B and you get CannaBiDiol, a cannabis derivative for which you may or may not need a prescription, depending on the state you live in.  The is evidence for some health benefits from CBD, but the jury is still out.

42. Shades for lifeguards: SUNTANS. RAYBANS fit but didn't perp.

44. Really work up: AGITATEIRK, IRE, and RILE were all too short.

46. Deli spread: MAYO.  On a BLT on toast.

47. Buddies: AMIGOS.  Today's Spanish lesson my friends.

48. Skirmish: RUN-IN.  The meaning of this clue has a significant dependence on whether you connect the words with a hyphen or not.  Here it is with a dash.
Here it is without a dash:

49. Design detail, for short: SPEC.  A good SPEC is a necessity for an accurate time and materials estimate.

53. Wishes undone: RUES.   The Scarlet Witch could wish it undone, but the results might be unpredictable.

55. Reverberate: ECHO.
56. Blue-roofed breakfast spot: IHOP. Breakfast served all day long.
International House of Pancakes. 

57. Self-satisfied: SMUG.

59. Fish stick?: ROD.  Cute clue, but I'd much rather have beer-battered fish fillets with chips.

61. Spot for a cucumber mask: SPA.  C'mon.  What does a cucumber have to hide?


As always, thanks to Teri for proof reading and for her constructive criticism.


Amanda Rafkin, you are invited to post anything you'd like to share about this puzzle, its evolution, the theme, or whatever, in the Comments section below.  We'd love to hear from you.