THURSDAY, Jun. 7, 2007 - Nancy Salomon

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium-High

THEME: "My Little Runaway" (38A: 1961 Del Shannon lyric (and title of this puzzle)) - rebus puzzle with the word "LAM" appearing in seven squares

[note - typo in the grid: 20D should be GOR and 22A POPES]

The perils of being an amateur grammarian - I saw that this was a rebus early on, but what kind? Figuring the answer to 19A: Not giving the police any more information was DUMMYING UP, I decided that the trick would somehow involve MY disappearing from the grid - so that DUMINGUP went into 19A. Let me just say that the theme answer, MY LITTLE RUNAWAY, only confirmed to me that I was on the right track. MY runs AWAY. Get it? Yes, weak, but ... let's just say that it's weak in a way I've seen before. Then came DON'T BLAME ME (17A: "It's not my fault") - there's no MY to remove, but there is a ME to remove, so now I'm thinking that words associated with the first-person mode of address are what's at issue here. So we remove MY at one point, we remove ME at another. Remove ME here, get DON'T BLAME. This pit only gets deeper - 9D: Frontier sharpshooter is CALAMITY JANE, but there's neither MY nor ME to remove ... and yet (can you see where this is going? God help you if you can...) there is an "AM" (again, keeping with the "first-person" theme). Take AM out, get CALITY JANE, which intersects DON'T BLAME at the "L" perfectly. . . Then I notice that AM is missing from another word, and another ... and I get suspicious. Then I realize you can take an AM out of DON'T BLAME ME. You can't take one out of DUMMYING UP, but you can take one out of CLAMMING UP ... but I still don't get it. Why is AM leaving the grid? Why and how is AM a "runaway?" Then I realize nothing's leaving the grid - rather the word LAM (meaning "run away") is being shoved into various squares, rebus-style.

Despite my struggles, I think this theme is clever. The experience of solving the puzzle was in no way enjoyable, and there's some sticky, icky bits of short fill - but the conception and execution of the theme is at least somewhat praiseworthy.

Rebus answers:

  • C-LAM-MING UP crosses 1D: Total chaos (bedLAM)
  • 10D: Tree-lined promenade (aLAMeda) crosses 15A: Southwestern trees (aLAMos) - never heard of either of these terms as they're clued here; ALAMEDA is a town near Oakland and ALAMOS ... well, to me, there's just one ... ALAMO.
  • 32A: Hubbub (cLAMor) crosses 33D: Hobbled (LAMed)
  • 28D: Con games (flimfLAMmery) crosses 47A: Fiery (afLAMe)
  • 54A: Double dessert (pie a LAM ode) crosses 55D: "Ah, for the good old days," e.g. (LAMent)
  • 59A: Some crime deterrents (street LAMps) crosses 60D: Eastern priest (LAMas)

Featured Five

29A: Swank (tony)
34A: Hunky-dory (jake)

What year is it? Maybe people used to talk like this at Toots SHOR's restaurant back in the 50's (62A: Toots in a restaurant), perhaps while discussing the films of Danny KAYE (36D: "The Court Jester" star, 1956), but you might want to dial down the dated slang for a contemporary audience. Speaking of dated slang, does anyone say GOR (20D: Brit's oath) any more?

11D: "Julius" in Gaius Julius Caesar (nomen)

Cheap. Nothing here to clue you into the answer's being Latin except, perhaps, the "Gaius" part, but all that tells me is that it's his full name. How 'bout [Cog follower?]. Anyone?

40D: Field part (Norma Rae)

I like this a lot, mainly because it Completely fooled me until I had Every Letter filled in. I was sure I was dealing with another rebus somewhere in the answer, so I kept trying to put LAM into NORMARAE to make a word out of it.

27D: Long green (kale)

"Long" is a Ridiculous word to describe KALE. LONGer than what? Spinach, yes. Swiss chard, no.

45D: French filmmaker Clair (René)

Didn't know it, but made a good guess.

Must get to (real) work.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Michael 9:49 AM  

I must confess to Googling the lyric. Caught the "LAM" off CaLAMity Jane/Don't BLAME Me, but had previously veered (hasn't VEER been in the puzzle about 17 times in the past week?) into a pseudo-French "AMI", "AME" Rebus. I usually quake at Nancy's puzzles but once I got the joke it fell pretty easily. Nancy's clues drive me nuts since they're very clever stretches. And Rex, I came out on Norma Rae exactly as you did.

Norm 10:13 AM  

I think "kale" is slang for cash, i.e., "long green" and "The Alameda" is a tree-lined street in Berkeley (and I think there's more than one Alameda de ____ in Santa Fe). Fun puzzle.

mmpo 10:16 AM  

It took me all of 30 seconds to spot this as a rebus puzzle (LE ROI, LONI, LIC, C[LAM]MING UP, quickly confirmed by BED[LAM]).
But this puzzle was nonetheless a long, slow struggle for me.
Who hasn't heard that song (I wah-wah-wah-wah wonder)? And several others by the same singer. But I certainly didn't know the name Del Shannon, and I couldn't have come up with the title of that song without looking it up (yes, I googled this too, being stuck with a gaping white space between MY and WAY, with just one T making me think of My Daddy took the T-Bird away...well, *that* wasn't going to fit, even with extensive rebussing!).
I didn't have much trouble with any of the LAMs, once I had a few letters to work with. Except one. I finished the puzzle and still tentatively had AVEDA (10D) crossing AVOS (15A). AVEDA looked incomplete to me, but somehow it didn't occur to me to try a LAM in place of the V until I'd actually looked up every word retrieved by A?OS at Actually, I had one or two left when it suddenly dawned on me, and I was done (Thank you for playing). Btw, is everyone familiar with this cheat tool --

Hey Rex, you've impressed me in a new way for two days running, now. You've actually stuck to your announced intention of keeping it brief so you can do your "real" work. Good job.

mellocat 10:22 AM  

I also had every letter of Norma Rae filled in and was sure there was something wrong because I could not parse it into anything meaningful at all let alone anything meaningful related to a farm or crops. So I forgot about it and only noticed what it was when I went back later (at which point I'd forgotten the clue) to look at the puzzle -- then it jumped out. Seeing the connection between the answer and clue was my biggest aha of the puzzle. The rebus-related aha wasn't bad either, but more of an aah, so that's the trick.

Howard B 10:35 AM  

The Norma Rae clue was nice and evil, and was the last thing I understood.
Rex, your initial ideas on the puzzle's theme have to be one of the craziest misdirections I've seen - great stuff, and also impressive that you took it that far, and that you figured it out afterwards. You might be a really creative, devilish constructor someday if you ever decided to go that route... I'll be very afraid if you do ;).

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Normarus, Normarae... I was sure this was some obscure Roman term for farmland until my brain clicked. A couple more clues of this caliber would have made the journey a bit more satisfying. Seems clear that the philosphy here is to sacrifice the smaller "words" at the altar of the handful of longer ones. While I agree that longer fill should sparkle, it's only a small part of the experience. In this case, the sparkle was overshadowed by the abundance of mediocre (at best) surrounding fill.

shaun 11:15 AM  

I've known you for 16 years, and I still greatly enjoyed that little tour of your thought processes. Sadly -- or perhaps because of your excellent description -- your misguidedness was making total sense to me all along.
TONY=excellent boggle word

Caren 11:27 AM  

I ran along a similar misdirected path for a while. I knew the not my fault answer had to be don't blame me. And I was sure it was the "me" that was being left out. So I thought the song title had to be something like "...without me...". What a mess. Once I got the "lam" thing, though, off of Calamity Jane, then it was smooth sailing. Loved the Norma Rae clue too!

Linda G 11:34 AM  

I so didn't get why I was putting Norma Rae in there. Like many of you, it didn't hit me until way later.

Loved this rebus, though. PIE A LA MODE was the giveaway.

mmpo 11:35 AM  

My favorite word today: flimflammery. Will be looking for ways to work that into conversation. I learned the word flim-flam from the movie The Flim-Flam Man. So flim-flam came readily, but I thought it was an adjective modifying...something. Mmmmans? No. Job?... I decided to google and see if I would come up with something besides man to follow flim-flam. I found a definition that included flimflammery, and that was that. Did I know this form of this word before? Sounds plausible, but...I really don't know. I do now!

Mimi B 12:03 PM  

Oddly, NORMARAE was the last clue I solved, and until I realized what the deal was, I thought something might be amiss elsewhere. I once lived in NM, so the ALAMEDA and ALAMOS were no problem.

Knew nothing about the song - pop culture is not my thing. However, the DONTBLAMEME clue put me on the right course.

Gaius = praenomen
Julius = NOMEN
Caesar = cognomen

Loved this puzzle and could go on and on, but I have to go now. If I'm late, I'll get a lousy haircut.

Karen 12:16 PM  

For crime deterrents, I initially had STREET OPS, envisioning khaki clad police, but that was rejected by the computer. I didn't think at all about the rebus. But when I put in STREET MPS, which would cross with MAS for Eastern priest, it was accepted. Is this a known bug, or was I just lucky?

I also liked that ONRYE crossed AWRY.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

"Long Green" = cash = cabbage = kale, a kind of cabbage. It's hard to keep up with slang.
"Jake" is old fashioned toughguy slang; see Damon Runyan stories.

If you live in California or the Southwest and are familiar with Spanish (Espanol), you're not surprised by Spanish terms such as "Alamo" and "Alameda". New Yorkers can be so parochial.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

To Rex -
Never heard of the insertion of several letters in one square of a crossword being referred to as a Rebus. I only find Rebus defined as a puzzle containing pictures or other symbols meaning words. Source please?

Orange 1:58 PM  

1:01 anonymous, it's just the word the crossword community has adopted to refer to this sort of thing.

There have been some "rebus crosswords" in which the solver can draw little pictures in the square--for example, if the letters ARM were to be squeezed into a single square in a word like E[ARM]ARK, you might draw a cartoony arm in the square. Drawing's impossible when you're solving online with a keyboard, of course, and some "rebus squares" contain letters that can't be drawn as a picture (e.g., today's LAM, or letter strings like GHI and RST).

In the absence of a better word for these types of thing, we just call 'em rebus puzzles. (Some wags fake-Latin-pluralize rebus into "rebi," but I draw the line there! As it turns out, rebus itself is a plural of the Latin res.)

Wendy 2:08 PM  

Well, before I saw the light, I so wanted the answer to 19A to be "lawyered up." In retrospect, that wasn't as impossible as it might have seemed, since the rebus did get shoehorned into that answer.

This may be one of the few times where I got the theme answer and saw that we were dealing with a rebus before I had very many other things filled in. For a while there it was just me and RON Weasley, and one or two others.

But I realized I was going to be LAMming it up with LAMent, for some reason. (As opposed to hamming it up ON RYE.)

What's up with GREYED? Isn't that a British spelling?

I enjoyed the puzzle very much. Lots of wacky fill. Is Toots SHORs still in existence? Because if it is, Rex, we could have some sort of throwback gathering there during the tournament(kidding).

Anyhoo, loved the commentary and everyone's comments.

Rex Parker 2:13 PM  

If I played "Runaway" for you, I have a REALLY hard time believing any of you (especially over 40) wouldn't know the song.

Thanks for the "long green" explanations. Just file that with JAKE and TONY under "dated slang."

STREET OPS made me laff out loud.

And re: "rebus" ... what she said. Crossword convention. Most of the time, the "rebus" word *can* be drawn (e.g. an ARM and a LEG in today's Bizarro, 6-weeks-ago, syndicated puzzle)

Or you could draw a little LAM(B) in the squares, I guess.

Rex Parker 2:16 PM  

PS sadly, it appears there is now a Bank of New York where Toots Shor's restaurant used to be. We'll have to find a different, x-word-related venue...


Anonymous 2:33 PM  

So because the "crossword community" (is there really a defined group separate from all the rest of us millions who are so elite) call it a "rebus" does that make it so -- come on, what's the real deal! With all your big smarts, really!

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

Thanks for the "source" material about the "crossword community", apparently self-appointed and definitely self-congratulatory, that defines terms (rebus) to suit itself. Reminds me of the Alice character who declared that words meant what he (she) said they meant, no more, no less.

jlsnyc 3:31 PM  

dear anonymous/anonymi -- um, rather a high tone in your response for a friendly venue of exchange. maybe come out from hiding and join the rest of us.

that said -- this is from the oed and speaks to the convention amy offered:
rebus, n.
a. An enigmatical representation of a name, word, or phrase by figures, pictures, arrangement of letters, etc., which suggest the syllables of which it is made up. b. In later use also applied to puzzles in which a punning application of each syllable of a word is given, without pictorial representation.
the entire citation includes print examples, fwiw.

the "punning application" today being the embedded "lam" -- the little runaway...

best --


Rex Parker 4:04 PM  

I almost forgot: Thanks to Mimi for the praenomen, nomen, cognomen lecture. I appreciate it. My Latin courses never taught me Roman naming nomenclature.


campesite 4:30 PM  

Count me among the folks who didn't 'see' NORMA RAE' until well after I'd completed the grid.
I grew up in Oakland, and aLAMeda popped right out. A very enjoyable puzzle that was anything but LAMe.

[Well said, Janie]

Orange 4:33 PM  

I liked the Latin lesson, too.

Anonymous, I assure you the crossword community is nothing more than people who enjoy crosswords--making them, solving them, and/or talking about them. It's really not a wicked cabal at all.

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

i'm probably off base. but one quibble for the 46A clue: showing one's age, in a way.
i initially thought GREYING. answer is GREYED. shouldn't the answer end with ING? one shows his/her age through the process of greying? if it's greyED, i'm thinking you've already showED your age. but i'm prolly wrong and overthinking this. cheers. nunyo.

Orange 5:27 PM  

Nunyo (last name Biznis?), if you are greyed, or at least if your hair is greyed, then you are showing your age. (The convention is that as long as there's a plausible sentence in which the two words/phrases are interchangeable, the clue/answer pairing is kosher.)

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

It was Humpty-Dumpty who said:

When I use a word, it means exactly what I want it to mean, neither more nor less.

Alice suggested it was a question of making a word mean so many things.

To which HD replied:
"The question is 'Who is the master?' That's all."

Anonymous 5:57 PM  

I am another anonymous person but not obstreperous re definitions of "rebus" and the like.Just enjoy all of the comments and today didn't glean Norma until puzzle was complete.

Kitt 7:17 PM  

Well, I wasn't even born at the time of this song...but, Rex I do know it. One of the things that bugs me about these song deals -- like Do Rei Mi (spelling?) last week is that I end up having the song in my head all day even if I don't like it.

But,anyway figured out the first part "My Little..." and then could see the last word started with an "R". Finally, got it. Of course that helped me eventually get "lam."

I was confused early on today and when that happens I automatically think "oh shit, this is a rebus" :)

Took me a bit to get through the what and why of the rebus though. For me it was 28D: tried putting "flimflams" in and nope.....onto plan B.

By the way, I think we have had three references to fraternaties in the past week...Yep, Friday 6/1 9D "fratboy." Wed 6/6 50A "frat" and today 44A "frat".

Things that make you go hmmm......

Good write-up Rex, enjoyed reading your thought processes behind things. Thanks.

Wendy 7:20 PM  

This puts me in mind of something David Brinkley always used to say when people who were the focus of news reports complained about something not being "news" even though it ended up on the air. His answer: "News is what I say it is."

Even truer now than it was then.

Jerome 7:21 PM  

Did't we have ALAMEDA clued as Oakland's county a few weeks ago?

Kitt 7:45 PM  

Good point, Wendy. I like it.

Anonymous 7:51 PM  

Hello Rex (and company):

Lovely puzzle. Gripes mainly with lack of symmetry w/regards to theme.

Which was clever by the way. Know the song. Hate it well.

Also like your *theme* idea for this puzzle. Sounds like a winner. Too bad it's already been done.

DEL Shannon is a c-word mainstay (as they say in the community).

Also, to whom it might concern: don't believe for a second that the community is not a conspiratorial cabal. We know who you are. We will find you.

Pen Girl :)

Orange 7:57 PM  

Pen Girl, you might want to be a little more circumspect with such remarks. I mean, I don't know anything, but if you hear a knock at the door at midnight, you might consider hiding under the bed, Just sayin'.

Anonymous 8:04 PM  

Rabid Rebusettes:

A rebus puzzle consists of pictures of objects, signs, letters, etc., the combination of whose names suggests words or phrases, e.g., a picture of an eye followed by an L followed by an ampersand is a rebus for "island" -- for your edification.

The puzzles you call "rebus" are NOT "rebus" -- they merely have several interposals of same -- a rebus is a rebus is a rebus!


Anonymous 8:13 PM  


Why would I fear the pizza guy?

PG :)

Alex 8:34 PM  

I thought of Alameda as soon as I saw the clue (but of course it didn't fit). But I probably would have discarded it anyway. I wouldn't have thought it an accepted English word and without a foreign language indicator I'd have pushed it out of consideration.

Looking it up to see if it is an accepted word I learned something that makes me like that theme intersection less.

The Spanish root for "alameda" is the alamo poplar. So crossing Alameda with Alamos seems a bit cheaty to get the LAM.

Linda G 8:35 PM  

Picayune: an adjective meaning trivial or petty; small or small-minded.

What does it matter? When anyone on this blog says rebus, those who've been here awhile know what it means. Someone new to the site (we all were once) soon figures it out and follows suit.

Anonymous 8:55 PM  

I usually do the puzzle in the morning or evebning before. Did not get a chance until now. It took me an hour but I finished it with no errors. Then I checked this blog and see that I had popes and it should have been papes. Think "what's a pape"? and then see it's an error and popes was correct. Tough puzzle but pleased that after a long day's work (or any day considering this puzzle) I was able to solve it.

profphil 8:59 PM  

How do I insert "lam" in across lite? I just put the first letter in but it is confusing.

Rex Parker 9:55 PM  


Edit > Insert > Multiple Letters

type in letters you want to go in the space, hit Return.



Wendy 10:12 PM  

News of the weird ... the other day I mentioned the artist Robert Rauschenberg would have been a good candidate for the R and R theme. I just did a google images search for rebus and damned if he doesn't have a painting entitled Rebus! If we had to be purists about our use of the word (which we don't, because we're just that free-spirited), there's all kinds of interesting items there that could be drawn into the square.

Back to my regularly scheduled NBA finals game. GO CAVS!

Anonymous 10:38 PM  

expobill sez:
so "on the LAM"?
pie ala monde got my lam
and every 4th or 5th thursday its a combo/multiple words in a box.
but took .5 an hour to figure it out!
this was a harder week that usual
so I fear for tomorrow!

Ultra Vi 10:50 PM  

I got ETTA, ANITA, and REMAP first and then spotted PIE ALA MODE easily. So, that helped with all the little LAMs. But some of the rest wasn't so quick for me - I never figured out CANA, ALAMOS, or ALAMEDA - that little corner had me fllummoxed.

I was born in the year of "The Court Jester," but I can't place "My Little Runaway." Too many hours practicing scales and etudes, I guess.

Orange 10:54 PM  

Pen Girl, I'm just sayin', you don't know if the pizza guy has been compromised...

Good Spanish etymology catch by Alex...

profphil: At least on the Mac, pressing the ESC key makes a little box pop up in which you can type multiple letters. See if that works for you—quicker than accessing via the menu.

RonB 12:31 PM  

For another Alameda, try Alameda de las Pulgas in San Mateo County. Avenue of the Fleas!!

katya 4:09 PM  

What a puzzle! I was totally lost, in spite of getting numerous clues, because I never saw LAM as "my little runaway." I figured the rebus had to be a missing MY even though I never found a way to make it work.

I even considered the M and Y were separated (ran away from each other) which made puzzle REALLY hard to solve. GOR. Btw, ever heard Brit curse "Gor blimey, stone the crows"? It's an oldie but not to be forgotten. (I missed GOR, had GAD.)

I think mine was a case of letting logic (the rebus has to be buried within the song title) overrule what I saw in front of me: Calamity Jane with no way to get her LAM in there. I figured it was a woman because the puzzler is one. All my other insights were for nothing because of clue blindness.

Anonymous 6:34 PM  

6WL :::::

I had more trouble with the fill than the theme answers. Some sticky clues.

Del Shannon's "Runaway" song was used as the theme music on a mid-80s TV show called "Crime Story."

NormaRae came out of left Field.

I didn't know Alamo was a tree. But I did see somewhere lately, Rex, that your hometown Fresno is also named for an ash tree.

jae 2:19 AM  

Just to let you know age does matter. I was a teenager in '61 and got MY LITTLE.. with just the Y in MY, the U in RUN, and the Y in AWAY. Crime Story was a great series!

Larry 7:09 AM  

I came here this time around to find out why "Julius" meant "Nomen", and as always picked up another tidbit or two... it wasn't until I saw one of Jlsync's comments that I realized that "lam" wasn't just equivalent to runaway, but was a LITTLE runaway. And, I learned a new bit of crossword jargon.

Alameda was a no-brainer, since I live in Alameda County, and my house's cross street (get it? :-) is "Alameda," and is in fact lined with trees... . But not alamo trees. Never heard of those before. But now I'll always remember them. Hmm, was that a Santa Ana wind just now?

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