When I had my sister test-solve last week’s mini-puzzle “Matters of Taste,” I correctly predicted that its difficulty level would vary for solvers. It was based on anagrams, which some people seem to see almost automatically, while others struggle to find them even if they know to look. Here, there was nothing very obvious to prompt you to look for anagrams. Once you figured it out, though, you might have noticed that anagramming one word in the title would also yield an in-the-language phrase, matters of state. And indeed what we had were anagrams for the names of countries:
Those three celebrities stacked in the center are, as far as my research revealed, the only three well-known* people (to Americans, anyhow) whose names anagram to country names:
AL B. SURE! -> BELARUS
INA GARTEN -> ARGENTINA
MEG RYAN -> GERMANY
Take the initial letters of the three countries, in order, and you get BAG, which is in the grid at 1-down (and was given a travel-related clue.)
(* I did find others with Wikipedia entries – Mel Davis (Maldives), an NBA player in the ’70s; Anna Miros (San Marino), a member of the Polish national volleyball team; and Iain West (Eswatini), a British forensic pathologist who worked on some high-profile investigations, including the drowning of Robert Maxwell, most recognizable today as Ghislaine’s father.)
It is not looking good for a new puzzle this week, as my attention has been elsewhere. Hopefully I will be back with a new offering next week.