THURSDAY, Apr. 26, 2007 - Mike Nothnagel

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium Rare

[Updated, 10:20 a.m.]

THEME: an ARM and a LEG ... and an ARM and a LEG - rebus puzzle with two "ARM"s, two "LEG"s, and a grid-traversing, theme-indicating central answer, 37A: Bargaining phrase ... and a hint to this puzzle's theme ("It's gonna cost you!")

I am very sorry that I have little time to write up this puzzle today, because it's a good one. My favorite part is actually IT'S GONNA COST YOU - nicely colloquial, and indicates the theme clearly but somewhat indirectly. Points to "an ARM and a LEG" but stands on its own as a perfectly in-the-language phrase. Nice nice nice.

When did you realize you were dealing with a rebus? My first indication that something was screwy came when I couldn't get DEAR! to work for 2D: "My stars!" ... but it had to be DEAR! It wanted to be DEAR ME! but of course that wouldn't fit ... Abandoned the NW in favor of the NE where I had NOBLE GAS for 9D: One column in the periodic table ... but that felt wrong. Shouldn't it be NOBLE GASES? Plus, NOBLE GAS gave me the indecipherable --LEDLY for 21A: Frequently used adverb on Court TV. Not sure what finally tipped me off to a rebus, but I think it might have something to do with a totally unrelated clue: 25A: Dog-_____, which I really wanted to be LEG (ended up being EAR). Coincidentally, that answer sits just beneath what I eventually discovered to be the first rebus square, containing the word ... LEG: NOB[leg]ASES intersects AL[leg]EDLY, and aha aha aha! Well, maybe just one aha, because I wasn't quite sure what the significance of the rebus was yet (although to my credit my first thought was, in fact, something to do with ARMS and LEGS). Maybe just LEGs ... maybe appendage names ...

Eventually saw that 17A: Events for some teens had to be BARMITZVAHS - even thought it didn't fit - and so the ARM snuggled into its rebus position, giving me the DE[arm]E! I hadn't wanted for 2D way back when I started the puzzle. From there, the puzzle was fairly smooth - though not at all boring.

Our other ARM and LEG involved the following clues:

  • 38D: Food company whose name is spelled out in its advertising jingle (Osc[ARM]eyer)
  • 48A: Starts to like, with "to" (w[ARM]s)
and
  • 60A: Something never shown in bars (circ[LEG]raph)
  • 47D: Feature of many a pirate (peg [LEG])
This last intersection is by far my least favorite, for two reasons. First, that clue at 60A is wicked hard, and the answer is not a phrase I hear, ever. Do you mean PIE CHART? Because if so, the phrase is ... PIE CHART. Good for PI rebus, not so much for ARM / LEG rebus. Second, PEG [LEG] is horribly out of place among all the other rebus-affected answers, as LEG is used literally, where in all other instances, ARM and LEG are used as letter sequences in non-ARM, non-LEG contexts. That's the rebus gold standard - rebus should not be used literally in any of its crosses. Or so SEZ REX, anyway.

Anyway, the puzzle was still a blast. I'll add a handful more observations a little later in the morning. Wanted to get this up quickly, before I take Sahra to school - very busy day today. Aside from a full day of teaching / meetings / what not, we've got Sahra's Spring Concert tonight - and I have to prepare to teach my wife's high-schoolers tomorrow! Currently, as if to mock me, the song "Too Much Pressure" by the ska band The Selecter is playing on my iTunes (set on "random play"). They just keep repeating "Too Much Pressure!" At least they are singing it in a fun, bouncy, danceable way and not in an ominous, gloomy, soul-crushing way.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS - back for a few more observations. I'm giving myself 15 minutes. Go!

9A: Fancy button material (nacre) - for how common these letters are, you don't see this word very often in puzzles. I had IVORY here to start with. Other confusion in the puzzle included my having STAG for CO-ED (11D: Not same-sex), which is not only wrong, but so wrong that I literally could not have been wronger if I'd tried.

55A: Places of prayer and reflection (pagodas) - I would never, in a million years, have come up with this answer for this clue. To me, pagodas are like ... vendor stalls at a fair or mall or something. This was one of many clues that made the SE the roughest part of the puzzle for me.

56D: Brave (dare) - hmmm. I think this is a rather iffy verb-for-adjective switcheroo. "Brave" can take a direct object. Can DARE? I mean, it can, but ... One can "brave" a storm, but you would not DARE a storm (unless you were insane or Noah or something, and even then you'd be daring it TO DO something).

The SE corner was chock full o' these one-word clues. In addition to [Brave] you have:

57D: Mimic (aper) (noun or verb?)
58D: Drop (shed) (noun or verb?)
67A: Gather (herd) (pretty much only a verb)

I am not a poker fan, and despise the cultural / ESPN obsession therewith, and yet I love the doubling-down on poker over in "Maryland" portion of the puzzle:

31D: Start of a poker game (buy-in)
32D: Poker player's declaration ("I fold!")

I have to go to the STACKS (46D: Library area) sometime soon to do research for a book I may or may not be writing. I like the word APRON for 50D: Stage part, though I forget which part of the stage the APRON is. Normally like echoes in a puzzle, but wasn't that fond of DE[arm]E bouncing off the bottom of the puzzle and returning as AH, ME! (52D: "Alas!"). In my experience (with 30's gangster movies), finks do not engage in TATTLING (4D: Fink's activity). Kindergarteners do that. "Finks" rat people out, hence the expression RAT FINK. I'll close with my favorite pair of answers in this puzzle, which happen to intersect:
  • 63A: "All right already!" (OK, OK) - perfect, everyday expression that I haven't seen recently, if ever, in a puzzle.
  • 61D: "South Park" brother (Ike) - I've seen IKE clued this way before, I think, but it always makes me smile when tertiary characters on animated shows somehow make their ways into the grid.
Signed again, RP, K of CW

28 comments:

jlsnyc 8:37 AM  

>When did you realize you were dealing with a rebus?

because i tend to first solve first what (i think) i know, am not so methodical a solver (by thursday especially...). had trouble getting *anything* by way of fill. 48d (penned) was one of the first; ok, "wrote" -- which seemed mighty direct -- and i was sure it was wrong. until i looked at 48a -- "starts to like, with 'to'" -- three letters, starts with "w," ends with "s". *gotta* be "warms to." it's thursday. *gotta* be a rebus. YAY.

revisiting the ne, "coed" led to a rather quick fall of that area -- with the "leg" in "allegedly" making its appearance. ah hah...

scattered fill around 37a led to a quick fall of that (fabulous) unifying phrase -- and i'm off and runnin'.

only to get *majorly* held up in nw. "bela" fleck was a name i knew but didn't know. only when i put that in was i able to pull the last part into the whole.

a lotta fun to be had with this one.

and rex -- trust there will also be a lotta fun with your jam-packed schedule today and tomorrow. especially with what awaits this evening!

;-)

janie

Scott 9:01 AM  

I figured out it was a rebus when the ITZV combination in 17A convinced me the answer had to be either BAR or BAT MITZVAH. "ARM" worked out best for DEARME and then ARM and LEG was clear from the clue for 37A.

These rebus puzzles induce paranoia; I'm never sure if my guess for an answer won't fit because it's wrong or because it contains a rebus. I should have known, however, that there'd only be two ARMs and two LEGs. How many do any of us have to spend, after all?

Ultra Vi 9:12 AM  

I liked seeing the BELA Fleck reference since I only just learned of him, my previous favorite BELAs being Bartok and Karolyi. Oops - forgot about Lugosi...

Once I had an Arm or two I wondered what other body parts might appear in this puzzle. But after getting the long phrase, I felt that something was slightly awry. It's gonna cost you an arm and a leg! (Not both of each, hopefully.)

Still, great fun. Reminded me of the recent cat/dog rebus, with the theme "raining cats and dogs." Next day, when I saw the clue whose answer was V-NECK, I wanted awfully for it to be TurtleNECK, picturing hoardes of little turtles scampering all over the puzzle.

A word I like that I learned from crosswords: NACRE. Does make nice buttons, but I think several species are now endangered. Mother-of-pearl also appears on the frog of the bow (the part you hold) and costs an Arm and a Leg to replace (as I recently learned the hard way).

mmpo 9:53 AM  

I'm quite sure this was my quickest ever identification of a puzzle as a rebus puzzle (hmm). Most often, I move from NW to NE, but TATTLING took me south, I inferred the O in ITS GO (though I first thought ITS GOT), and based on that O, immediately thought of

My baloney has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R, my baloney has a second name, it's M-A-Y-E-R
I love to eat it every day, and if you ask me why I'll say,
'Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A
(As you may have noticed, there are some things I don't remember well, but I do remember the words to songs...even advertising jingles, which can sometimes be an annoyance...)
It didn't fit. But when I saw the clue to WARMS (Starts to like, with "to"), I was sure. The rest, as you say, Rex, was smooth sailing but not boring. I did have some trouble in the South and SW sections, and ended up with CIRCLE GRAPE! Hadn't been too sure about SEED for Drop, so I just ran through the alphabet, and the puzzle was solved.
Then, I couldn't get the applet to accept ARMs and LEGs, so I just included the first letter, fully expecting an error message at the end, but I got that understated "Thank you for playing" message, and "O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
I chortled in my joy.

Nacre (there's a knock-knock joke in there, waiting to get out) is indeed a fine word. I think that's probably what you see on the pads of trumpet and tuba valves as well, though I'm sure it's more often imitation nacre these days. My first guess for "fancy button material" was IVORY. Between CO-ED and ABLER (not to mention the unlikelyhood of having a four-letter word start and end with Y), that didn't last long, though.

Alex 10:02 AM  

I was pretty sure I was dealing with a rebus because 38D had to be OSCAR MAYER. The only other alternative was JELLO and it would be difficult to lengthen it.

But I got the rebus in the NE corner. ALLEGEDLY was a gimme but didn't fit. Had ALLEGED for a bit before thinking it over and realizing it just couldn't be an adverb.

AL-ED-Y from the crosses (fortunately MESA, LETGO, COED, and ESPY were gimmes) indicated that ALLEGEDLY was in fact right and BLEEP had me thinking NOBLE GASES so I saw it there. Once I saw LEG I immediately saw how OSC[ARM]AYER fit.

I'd already been considering MAR MITZAHS (somehow from just the HS at the end) so that fell quickly.

I have the same complaint about PEGLEG as you. I've never heard the phrase CIRCLE GRAPH before but doing a quick google search finds a lot of pages that say something like "A pie chart (also called a circle graph) is...."

The PEGLEG intersection was even harder to see because I was 90% certain that the SE rebus was elsewhere. I have THENORTH ("Victors of 1865") as a gimme, but when the theme became apparent I was sure it had to be some phrase that included ARMy or ARMies.

All in all, though, my best performance ever on a Thursday. I completed it and only looked up one answer (SE refused to fall so I looked up IKE which was enough to get the rest).

mmpo 10:09 AM  

Oh, and...cute that THE NORTH is in the south. Strangely, this eluded me for a long while, even though it was the first thing I thought of when I read the clue. Somehow, I dismissed the obvious answer without bothering to check to see if it fit.

Orange 10:31 AM  

NACRE is an old-school crossword answer. It used to have boat parties out on the PROA with a herd of ANOAs.

For everything you never wanted to know about nacre, hit up Wikipedia.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

Alex, there's also "N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestles makes the very best" and "K-R-A-F-T" (how America spells cheese) but of course they don't fit,either. Just wanted to expand your universe of spelled out food jingles! And I also thought "circle grape" was worth considering.....
Trish in OP

Nothnagel 11:29 AM  

Merci for all of the glowing words about my puzzle...I sound like a broken record, but I really do appreciate it!

Re: PEGLEG -- I apologize for the literal use of the word LEG in that entry. The first version of the SE corner had a couple black squares in different places, and allowed me to use COL[LEG]ES, but that created icky havoc elsewhere. So, PEGLEG it was.

And, it allowed me to be a Snooty Math Teacher and get CIRC[LEG]RAPH in there.

MN

mmpo 11:32 AM  

Orange,
Well, maybe not quite everything. I don't see anything about the etymology of the word, which is interesting--from Arabic (naqqAra, drum) via Old Italian (naccara, drum)and Middle French (nacre, mother-of-pearl). Am now pondering how you get from "drum" to "mother-of-pearl." And does this have anything to do with Pearl drums? :) Presumably not.
Liked the "mother of toilet seat" quip.

mmpo 11:35 AM  

Notwithstanding unwritten rules, I liked PEG-LEG.

Alex 12:15 PM  

Hmm...don't think I've ever heard those Nestles or Kraft jingles (or, more likely they didn't do their job and I quickly forgot them). I'd have to hear it but that Nestles one looks particularly awkward.

Well, if my ignorance granted me only two options then I'm glad one of them was the right answer.

DONALD 12:50 PM  

1-800-M-A-T-T-R-E-S

Rex Parker 1:11 PM  

Re: KRAFT and NESTLES ... it's all in how you sing them. I think recent KRAFT commercials still sign off by spelling the name. I would have to notate it musically for it to make any sense. K and R are the same note, A and F are same, lower note, and the A is more like a quarter note, and then T is a slightly higher note (higher than AF, lower than KR). With NESTLES, all letters have the same timing, uttered in rather monotonous succession (a la quick-spelling cheerleaders), and the whole point is that those seven letters all correspond with the seven syllables that follow: "Nestle's makes the very best," creating two, rhyming lines.

My allegedly musical explanations are comical to me.

The NESTLES jingle is much older, I think.

And Mike, I understand that PEG [LEG] is sometimes the price you pay for an otherwise great puzzle. See also (yesterday's) ROUTEMAN.

rp

campesite 1:50 PM  

Wow, this was a fun puzzle: fun theme, great construction. BELA Fleck and Peter TOSH too! I was lucky to sniff the rebus with alLEGedly and confirm with bARMitzvah.
This was such a well constructed puzzle I'm surprised the ARMS weren't on top and the LEGS on the bottom. Loved it.

Orange 2:02 PM  

Every Chicagoan who has ever been near a TV knows the phone number for Empire Carpet: 588-2300, Em-PIIIIIRE. (In later years, they added a toll-free prefix.) I know that number just as well as I know 867-5309.

profphil 2:20 PM  

Had an awful time with the puzzle, I'll blame it on my headache. I got the rebus quickly with "allegedly" and figured out the the "central" idea: costing an arm and leg. However I misspelled Oscar Mayer as M"eye" r and decided there were 2 rebuses: arm and leg and eye teeth (as in costing one, one's eye-teeth). I turned Oscar Mayer into eye-r and had one-eye instead of peg-leg for pirate clue - that really cost me an arm and leg and my eye-teeth to boot. Tried to change it to peg-leg but was so addled by then with my headache getting worse that after only solving half, I finally succumbed to checking out your blog and cheating. I'm happy I did because I was so stuck, I'd never be able to finish

Ultra Vi 3:05 PM  

Prof -

You poor thing! What a mess. Hope you are feeling better!

Glad to see that Mike checked in to read all the compliments - really fun puzzle, again.

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

I had the same intial reaction to "peg leg," then thought, wait, it's intentional--this is a puzzle about missing limbs. The puzzler lopped off part of the full rebus answer on purpose! Well, maybe not, but it sounded good in my head.

Ultra 4:06 PM  

Dear Rexy,

Huh?! Comical, yes. I tried humming what you described. I made myself laugh.

profphil 1:00 AM  

Channel surfing and stopped to watch Steve martin on David Letterman playing a banjo with a few other musicians. I thought to myself, "What was the name of the banjo player in the crossword today whom I did not recognize"? I remebered: Bela Fleck. Proud of myself for remembering and then to my suprise after the number Letterman asks the players to introduce themselves and Bela Fleck was among them. How's that for synchronicity?

Orange 7:56 AM  

I just read somewhere that Steve Martin played his banjo at a tribute to Diane Keaton...and the audience kept laughing because they assumed banjo = joke.

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

PEG LEG was okay here too...maybe ARM used in likewise fashion could have balanced things out.

Don't know what the hard and fast is on that one -- although I gather any constructor would rather keep things as consistent as possible...hmm...just can't think of any words that incidentally end in L-E-G.

Twas BRILLEG? Umm, wait a sec, that's not how that goes...

Pen Girl :)

Catherine 11:19 AM  

I was a big fan of THE NORTH and ILIAD... and I feel there was another, but I can't remember what it was. Although, wasn't CENT used yesterday? Yes, yes, it was. Boo.

I was also not a fan of OATEN.

"And I also thought "circle grape" was worth considering....." -- I was trying to figure out what on earth a CIRCLE GRAPE was... and why SEED was "drop". Definitely a PIE CHART in my mind.

Rex Parker 2:06 PM  

Many people found their way to my blog by searching "circle grape," so you're not alone by a long shot.

rp

WWPierre 3:32 PM  

I finished the second cup of tea while reading the blog and comments.

Like jlsync, it was W(ARM)S that gave me my first hint that this was a rebus.

At first I couldn't get a wedge in anywhere so I wandered about sightseeing and aimlessly dropping in fill, (and not a few red herrings). When I got to the Grand Canyon, and read the 48 crossing clues, I was pretty sure it must be a rebus, but never having heard an OSCAR MAYER jingle, I had to wait until the long clue emerged, which took a while because I had BOXES for 33d, "Fights" and was trying to fit ITS STILL IN THE BOX.

Once ITS GONNA COST YOU emerged from the grid, THE NORTH led to SPENDS, which gave me PEG(LEG) I had my ARM and LEG and I was off and running, (with great admiration for the constructor).

Of course, those red herrings still had to be dealt with. Like Alex, I had ALLEGED, but felt uncomfortable with it, and cheered when the second LEG fixed it up. SCAM for REAM,(5a) slowed me up in the N/W, and it took me a while asking myself the question, "What is that Jewish coming-of-age ceremony?" before BAR MITZVAHS finally detached from the tip of my tongue, and the puzzle completed itself.

kb 7:05 PM  

You think you were thrown by the rhebus, I got the "Its gonna cost YOU" and I dumbly thought that the you part meant ME, so for OSCAR MAYER, I had OSCA(ME)YER which then made me put in for Victors of 1865 THE NY (ME)TS. DOH!!!! Also another food jingle is J-E-L-L-O

jae 11:27 PM  

Six weeks ago I was watching Letterman when Paul introduced the banjo players that were going to play with Steve Martin. He mentioned that Bela Fleck was famous enough to be a clue the NYTs crossword. I hope sticking that bit of info in my long-term memory isn't cheating ! :)

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