"Inflammatory ailment": THURSDAY, Feb. 14, 2008 - David J. Kahn

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Hearts" - a "Heart" rebus puzzle, where the word (or picture of a) "heart" is inserted into various squares throughout the puzzle.

Happy Valentine's Day. I would be lying if I said that this puzzle was anything other than disappointing. First, we have had a "heart" rebus before, and not too long ago. But that's OK. There are always new and exciting ways to execute themes that have been tried before (see yesterday's "SOUP to NUTS" for a good example). The bigger problem here was that the execution was kind of weak. The puzzle just felt sloppy, especially given that it's a. a holiday puzzle, and b. constructed by a reliable pro. My two main complaints:

1. Symme ... try? Now, I realize that 180-degree rotational symmetry was abandoned to make the "heart"s form a kind of heart shape, and I would applaud such creative daring ... if this wasn't Precisely The Same Conceit As Last Year's (much more elaborate) Valentine's Day Puzzle.

2. The word "heart" means "heart" in almost every theme answer today. Almost. The vast majority are compound words featuring "heart." But then there's the legal but horribly jarring buried non-"heart"-sounding "heart" in NOW [heart] HIS. [Heart] HS is also pretty horrible, but at least the vowel sound in that case is consistent with the "heart" in the other theme answers. NOW HEART HIS! NOW HEART HIS! Again, a totally legitimate move - burying a word like that. But in this puzzle, where only one other theme answer gets anything like that kind of treatment... it felt inelegant and jarring.

Theme answers:

  • 22A: Brave one (lion HEART)
  • 4D: Gave up (lost HEART)
  • 9D: Symbol of generosity (open HEART)
  • 25A: Palm reader's reading (HEART line)
  • 37A: Intinsically (at HEART)
  • 39D: Alabama nickname (HEART of Dixie)
  • 40A: "Listen up!" ("Now HEART his!") - ... [cough]
  • 24D: Depresses (disHEARTens)
  • 11D: Michael Redgrave war movie, with "The" ("Captive HEART")
  • 42A: Ending with soft or light (HEARTed)
  • 55A: Was sympathetic (had a HEART)
  • 56D: Middle of the country (HEART land)
  • 58A: Exam measurement unit (HEART beat)
  • 58D: Genuine (HEART felt)
  • 65A: Jilter (HEART breaker)
  • 65D: Family gathering places (HEARThs)

One last gripe before I get to the Miscellaneous part of my write-up: REDEAR!?!?!?!?! (6D: Inflammatory ailment) What the @#$# is REDEAR? I've never heard of this "ailment" in my life. Is it like an ear infection? Hang on ... OK, here's the definition I got off of some medical site:

Red ear syndrome: An unusual type of head pain in which the ear becomes red and burning. Attacks may be brought on by triggers such as touching the ear, heat, chewing, drinking, coughing, sneezing, and neck movement. May be associated with migraine, irritation of the third cervical root, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or thalamic syndrome. It may also occur without obvious structural cause.

I still say "???" Did anyone not start with the Far More Common (and in-the-language) RED EYE? I wanted several times to change EYE to EAR, but a. there's no such thing as RED EAR (or so I reasoned), and b. that would make the answer to 23A: Running around be ADO, and that's just silly (so much for my reasoning).


  • 1A: Words ending many riddles (am I) - interesting way to clue this. Nice not to have to go to French all the time for this letter string.
  • 8A: Montmartre : Paris :: Arbat : _____ (Moscow) - no idea. Total guess off the "M"
  • 17A: On a lounge chair, maybe (poolside) - again, interesting. The "E" here is where the other "HEART" would have been had the puzzle theme had perfect 180-degree rotational symmetry.
  • 20A: O'Toole of "Cat People" (Annette) - oddly, the first thing I put in the grid. I say "oddly" because I've never seen the movie, and know only two O'Tooles, so I went to this answer figuring one of them would have to be right. Not Peter, so ANNETTE. This helped me get the cleverly clued 5D: Life lines? (obit) very quickly (I got Killed by an OBIT clue at last year's tournament)
  • 29A: "The Canterbury Tales" pilgrim (Friar) - had the "E" from incorrect REDEYE where the first "R" was supposed to go here, so even though I wrote a chapter of my dissertation on the "FRIAR's Tale," it took me a while to get this answer.
  • 36A: Australian ranch pest (emu) - there's a fact I didn't know about EMUs.
  • 43A: Great Leap Forward figure (Mao) - his countryman General TSO (35D: General on a menus) sits across the grid.
  • 45A: There are eight of these before "Baby" in Elvis's "A Big Hunk o' Love" (nos) - coincidentally, NOS was in the syndicated puzzle yesterday (Jan. 2), only it was spelled (to many people's consternation) "NOES." Apparently there are no rules on how to pluralize "NO."
  • 46D: Native-born Israeli (Sabra) - unknown to me. Maybe I've heard of this before, but if so, I'd forgotten. Almost made me doubt the "S" in "NOS."
  • 49A: Bub (sonny) - I don't consider these equivalent At All.
  • 2D: Cult figure (Moonie) - I thought the Reverend MOON was the "cult figure" and a MOONIE was his follower. Maybe the term "figure" is being used very, very loosely here. Maybe MOON is an appropriate figure for a Valentine's Day puzzle - he is famous for the mass pseudo-weddings called "Blessing Ceremonies," including one at Madison Square Garden in 1982 that involved 2075 couples.
  • 10D: Fresh as a daisy, e.g. (simile) - clever. Very good.
  • 13D: _____ Accords, 1998 Israeli-Palestinian agreement (Wye) - I think I've heard this phrase, "WYE Accords," on TV, but I've surely never seen it spelled.
  • 18D: Three-time U.S. Open champ (Lendl) - the player I loved to hate growing up.
  • 37D: Asian domestic (amah) - Old Skool crosswordese, just like her pal ERLE (62D: _____ Stanley Gardner).
  • 60D: Tolkien race (Ents) - when you see this clue, the answer is either ENTS or ORCS.

Good day to you.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Today's other puzzles:

  • LAT (C) 7:09 - Linda Tay Stevens: another Valentine's Day theme. Clever, though the theme answers are kind of a stretch and the theme-indicating clue is astonishingly dry and non-specific.


Alex 9:53 AM  

I was in the middle of the puzzle when my computer spontaneously rebooted. But I was so not particularly enjoying the experience that I didn't bother coming back to finish.

I really dislike rebus puzzles that use text strings too long for display within the square. I know you can just use the first letter but don't like how that makes it hard to read the result.

But while I was doing it I was thrown off by two guesses that were wrong. RESTORE instead of REFRAME was hard to dislodge. Arbat sounded more Arabic than Slavic so I guessed Madrid off the initial M. Fortunately ORL dislodged that pretty quickly.

DONALD 9:54 AM  

Happy Valentine's Day!

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

I also was disappointed with the different use of HEART in the middle square.

I first wrote in ORCS for 60D, then got ENTS from the crosses. I was mystified, though because I didn't remember this race from "Lord of the Rings" at all. I was asking myself if there could have been otolaryngologists in Tolkien. (If there had, they could have helped out if Frodo had contracted RED EAR.)

Norm 9:56 AM  

Had exactly the same reaction to NOWHEARTHIS. Feh!

Pinky 10:13 AM  

Happy Valentine's day all! I (heart) this site.

I always wanted to make a Godzilla bumper sticker saying "I 8 NY"

Naja 10:22 AM  

The first time I came across "sabra" was in Spielberg's Munich.

easl 10:32 AM  

Had to Google it AFTER getting it from crosses, but here it is:

The Oct. 1998 summit at WYE MILLS, Md., generated the first real progress in the stymied Middle East peace talks in 19 months. With President Bill Clinton ...

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

So, how did we get a Valentine's Day theme on Feb. 14 if the puzzles are six week later?

Bill from NJ 10:51 AM  

Poof! What a mess. I was bogged down forever in the N, having LAND instead of LOST.

I got the theme right away but too damn many mistakes. At 31A I had EVER and, as a nice Jewish boy, am ashamed to admit I missed EHUD.

PhillySolver 10:57 AM  

On line solvers...I tried my own solution to enter a symbol and failed. Then a kind blogger(JJF) sent me the Help entry from Across Lite 2.0 and if you do this, you can get a heart. It makes the puzzle a lot prettier.


You can enter graphical symbols using a symbol palette. To enter a graphical symbol into the current cell, click Shift+Insert keys together (or select Insert->Symbol from the Edit Menu). A symbol palette will appear. Click on a symbol in the palette to select the symbol to enter. You can leave the symbol palette up or close it using the Esc key or the close (X) button on the top right corner.

Go edit your puzzles and you will see the real beauty of the construction.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

As I started this puzzle, I thought, "Where's the "love" theme?" Got to 22A had Lion_ and thought Lion-y? No. can't be and then I had my a-ha moment. Ran around the puzzle filling in all the hearts I could, figuring a larger heart shape was in there somewhere. The rest of the puzzle was solved rather quickly and easily after that. Had heart rate at 58A which threw me off for a bit and I wasn't too crazy about 40A and 65D where the word heart was broken (LOL). All in all, a pleasant little puzzle.

jae 11:08 AM  

I liked this one. Thought the hidden heart was clever and the two deviations for HEART felt necessary to pump up the difficulty level.

The REDEAR definition doesn't have much to do with inflammation, so the clue seems off. (I also started off with REDEYE.)

Had the same reaction to MOONIE as Rex, and the same thought about not going French for AMI.

I know the term SABRA but needed a couple of letters to recall it.

This seemed much easier for me than yesterday's, just as Tues. seemed easier than Mon. this week.

Doug 11:17 AM  
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Doug 11:17 AM  
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Doug 11:18 AM  

I like how the constructor tried (I think) to make a human heart out of the grid, albeit in an Etch-A-Sketch kind of way. What was that dumb toy from decades past in which you planted colored beads onto a grid and then lit it up? Even knowing there was no high tech back then I wince at how dumb it was and how overjoyed the kids were on the TV ad! "It's a bunny!"

Every time we have people over and we cook/clean for half a day, I fondly remember our Thai AMAH while we were overseas. Then I think "Hey, you paid her $500 a month to do this EVERY DAY" and think that she is not quite as fondly reminiscent of those great times.

11:17 AM

Jim in Chicago 11:26 AM  

I'm also not feeling the love for this puzzle.

As pointed out by others, my main objection is that "HEART" usually but not always is used as a supplied word. Rex points out nowHEARthis, but I have the same problem with HEARThs. Bad construction, sorry.

Other problems for me.

Once I had the theme I gleefully filled in theHEART of darkness, which turned out to be badly wrong.

Does SONNY really equal "bub"?

for 58A - don't they usually check your heart RATE? Where did "beat" come from?

I really dislike the cross of TAXMAN and MADMEN - too close to each other.

Finally, my fun bit. Before I had the theme, for "Middle of the country" I had the LAND part, and really, really, really wanted the answer to be BLAND.

SethG 11:28 AM  


Perhaps this is what you're thinking of?

All I can say is I _loved_ mine.


PhillySolver 11:38 AM  


Give people fair warning! Dude,
those old commercials stink and if that tune stays in my head I am going to rip out your _____ .

Doug 11:56 AM  


Hey Seth

That's the one! "Lite Brite, Lite Brite, turn on the magic of shining light!"

Only a puzzler could have pulled that bit of arcana out so quickly!

Megan P 12:13 PM  

This puzzle was fun for me, and I admire the way the constructor superimposed the heart pattern over the grid matrix.

Plus I like having the rebus word appear in surprising ways: hearth, nowhearthis.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Re SABRA: When Israel was first established in 1948, native-born Jewish citizens were so rare, compared to the flood of European refugees, that a special term was applied to them, to wit, SABRA. Now, almost 60 years later, the majority of citizens are native-born, and I'm guessing that the term isn't used much anymore, except in crosswords.

Rex Parker 12:25 PM  

Just to repeat, the very same "heart" pattern can be found (bigger) in last year's Valentine's Day puzzle (to which I link in the write-up). So while it may be enjoyable, it's essentially a retread of last year's concept.


Greg 12:36 PM  

Anonymous: The "Ents" are the talking, living trees who beseiged Saruman (sp?).
Jim: I had the same issue at first with heartrate vs. heartbeat, but the clue says "unit," and your heartrate is # beats per minute, so I guess the heartbeat is the unit!

Overall I agree with most of you that the puzzle was a little off, due in no small part to the hearths and now heart his clues.
I did like the "Lord of Darkness" clue, though - that seemed pretty fresh to me! :-)

Happy V-day all!

Karen 12:38 PM  

The puzzle looks symmetric to me, I'm not sure what Rex is complaining about.

I got stuck on TEMPLE; the combo of clever cluing on SIMILE, and no idea about WYE accords or CAPTIVE RIVER HEART or whatever that movie was.

I had both the Lite Brite and the EtchaSketch as a child. And I'm now a terrible artist.

Greg 12:53 PM  

I don't (and I feel this is Rex's beef as well) have an issue with the symmetry of the locations of the hearts themselves, but the fact that a couple of the clues were not the word "heart," but rather parts of other words or sentences that don't actually have anything to do with a heart, such as "Now hear this!" Yeah, the letters in the center spell out the word "heart," but that's a stretch as far as the theme of the puzsle SHOULD go... Hearths is a little less of a stretch, but still not up to snuff compared to the rest of the "heart" clues!

Orange 1:22 PM  

The puzzle is perfectly symmetrical. The black squares pattern has rotational symmetry, and the heart rebus squares have left/right symmetry.

I believe there is a Lite Brite in my house. My son never plays with it any more, but I like knowing that it's here.

I suppose the HEARTBEAT is an [Exam measurement unit] in that the heart rate is measured in beats per minute. HEARTRATE wouldn't fit the clue, because a rate is not a unit, but certainly there are better clues out there for HEARTBEAT.

Wade 1:27 PM  

Thumbs down from me, too, for all the reasons cited. I'm not really a stickler for symmetry or other design-type matters; it's just that the clues were rather dull, and the NOWHEARTHIS seems out of sync with the rest of the flavor of the puzzle (even with HEARTHS).

I didn't get NOWHEARTHIS, by the way, though I got all the other themes--I just had NOWTHIS (as in a newscaster moving to the next story), which made me wonder what DISHENS meant. But I was so underwhelmed by the puzzle I just let it go.

johnson 2:16 PM  

@David: I liked the puzzle. No complaints.

It may be my only Valentine this year.

@Doug: I also liked my Lite-Brite!

jls 2:42 PM  

another shout out for the puzzles strengths.

like others here, really appreciated the various ways that "heart" was incorporated into the theme fill. just when ya think you've nailed the gimmick, kahn fools ya.

and for reasons i'll never understand, this was a relative easy thursday for me -- so i took it as a valentine if you will... (and even if you won't!).

so many cranky posters today. hope your day has improved!!


little mary sunshine...

Fergus 2:42 PM  

I was going to come down on rebus symmetry, simply because it offers too much help, but couldn't complain when the heart-of-hearts appeared. Even if it's only vertical axis symmetry I don't really want to know where to drop the in the symbol.

My lovely little diagram was smirched by having two forgivable mistakes. First was POOLS at 29D for Takes in, a legitimate but wholly different meaning than FOOLS. (That made me wonder whether there was a VICAR on the road to Canterbury?) The other mistake was putting in HOMILY instead of SIMILE, and now that I've looked up the former, my answer is not so forgivable. I was under the impression that a homily was a sort of trite expression, but it is actually an "admonitory or moralizing discourse." Not entirely wrong, but wrong enough.

Also, a quibble on the preposition locating the TEMPLE with respect to an eyeglass frame. The temple of the pair of glasses or that place by the forehead? Under doesn't really work for either, unless I'm missing something.

PuzzleGirl 3:05 PM  

@greg: I'm afraid you still have it wrong. Rex (and others, including me) would actually prefer that the rebus word NOT be translatable as the word itself. NOW HEAR THIS is actually a preferable use of the rebus, but because all the rest of the answers used HEART to mean HEART, that takes away from the quality of the rebus. Pretty sure I have that right.

@Orange: Re better clues for HEARTBEAT. So right. Like the old Tony DeFranco and the DeFranco Family song: "Heartbeat, it's a lovebeat / And a lovebeat is a good vibration / Oh a heartbeat it's a lovebeat / And when we meet it's a good sensation." Maybe not.

kathy 3:18 PM  

I'm with you, Alex, on the rebus--too hard to have an aha moment when you are looking at a blank square that is actually supposed to accommodate another word.

But phillysolver--thanks for the info on inserting a symbol--that's great. Even if I put a completely irrelevant symbol in, at least it will be a hint that the letter that is there means more than the letter itself.

I found this puzzle difficult, but I didn't feel like it was a challenge like I normally would--I just didn't care and went to Orange's blog to fill in the blanks (why am I complelled to do that if I don't care? you be the judge)--thanks, Orange!

Rex, I know you were unimpressed by the LA Times puzzle, but I thought it was at least an original attempt at a theme for Valentine's Day. Like you, I remember past "heart" puzzles, and the concept grows stale.

Question for those of you with kids--how did VD turn into a holiday deserving of all-day parties at school? That and Halloween. I don't get it.

Happy Thursday, all!


Greg 3:29 PM  

@puzzlegirl - why does this necessarilly have to be a rebus puzzle, as opposed to a simple puzzle (I don't know what you might call it in crossword terminology) where the word itself, in the way that "heart" did for all but two clues. goes into the square. Such puzzles have been done in the past with suits of cards, weathervane directions, colors, etc.
I have seen several such puzzles where the rebus you seem to want here doesn't exist.
If you wanted it to be a rebus, it would seem that Kahn erred on the wrong side by having rebus-style "heart" clues fall into the vast minority!
Just my two cents, but I don't think that this puzzle was intended as a rebus, nor do I think it should be looked at as such!

karmasartre 3:51 PM  

I loved the variation on the rebus. Makes for more thinking.

I know someone who was in a Moon arranged and conducted mega-marriage ceremony. He is now divorced.

@Kathy - thanks for reminding me it's VD. Initials for a holiday only Vic Damone's parents would appreciate.

PuzzleGirl 3:54 PM  

@greg: A rebus puzzle (someone, please correct me if I'm wrong) is a puzzle in which some of the squares are filled in with more than one letter or with a symbol. This puzzle, then, is by definition a rebus. There are two ways (that I can think of) to go about using the multiple-letter/symbol squares. One is to have the resulting phrase use the multiple-letters/symbol literally and the other is to "bury" the multiple-letters/symbol in a phrase where it loses its literal meaning.

I personally don't mind rebus puzzles where the symbol square is taken literally, it just makes the puzzle quite a bit easier. When the rebus piece is not used literally, it makes for trickier solving and, I can only imagine, more difficult constructing, which makes me appreciate the puzzle more.

There are examples of both types of answers in this puzzle. I find that, I don't know ... sloppy I guess. I would rather the constructor make a decision about which way to go and then stay with it. Just my preference.

Catherine K 4:26 PM  

Montmartre is a square in Paris, and Arbat is a square in Moscow. I had to Google it to make sure, but that seems to be what that clue is all about.

I read that the square in Montmartre and the steps leading to the Sacre Coeur is a scary, seedy area to traverse. Apparently there are "wrist bandits" that try to get you to let them tie a band on your wrist and then coerce you into paying for it. If you try to ignore them, they become quite aggressive.

william e emba 4:44 PM  

I really only know ARBAT from the famous Rybakov novel CHILDREN OF THE ARBAT, which really pushed the edge of Glasnost when it came out. The author had refused foreign publication for twenty years.

SABRA was originally the Hebrew word for a prickly pear cactus that grows in Israel. SABRA is also the name of a Marvel superheroine who fights for Israel. She debuted decades ago fighting the Hulk. She has had some of the most cloying dialog of any comic book character ever. I recall the Hulk almost choking on it. ("What is this, I'm fighting the entire IDF recruitment board?")

john f 4:51 PM  

Just thought I'd add a word or two about rebus puzzles. The Times and the Sun are where you'll find them most often. (I think the Crosswords Club does them too, and I'm not sure about Games mag.)

The word "rebus" (from the Latin plural for res, or thing) is often used to refer to a picture or symbol. The heart in today's Times' is a good example. One of the earlier examples from years ago used a picture of a PIN in the answer grid. The word "rebus" makes a lot of sense when a picture can be used for the letters that are squeezed into one square.

In a more general sense, a rebus puzzle is any crossword that uses multiple letters within a square. I can think of a few rebus puzzles built around the word IN. Try to draw an IN and you'll have a problem. It's not a thing you can picture. But when you put the two letters of IN in squares, that's generally called a rebus puzzle, even though it's not really a picture.

Generally, whether the rebus is a thing you can picture or not, a rebus puzzle treats the rebus as a string of letters to form whatever longer answers fit the grid. The rebus string might work as a standalone word (AT HEART), as a separate syllable (HEARTBEAT), or simply as letters that run across one or more words (NOW HEAR THIS). In some puzzles, like today's, they do all of the above.

I realize not everyone's happy with that. I think it's a fair point to say there should be a bit of consistency within a puzzle, but a mix is often the way it works.

There are other variations with rebus puzzles. Theme symmetry may be there, or not. Sometimes the rebus is one word repeated, or it could be different words in different squares. And sometimes you get one like Francis Heaney's recent puzzle in the Sun.

I am a fan of rebus puzzles, so I'm glad the rules for rebuses are a little more relaxed. That way we get to see them more often, and that's okay with me.

green mantis 5:19 PM  

I've looked at several links now and it appears that the only inflamed things concerning red ear are those of us trying to make sense of that damn answer. I mean, if you're going to go to bizarre medical condition land for your fill, at least make the clue unassailable. Gak.

I think I'm going to make a t-shirt for Valentine's Day that says, "V.D. is no holiday."

And finally, I encountered wrist bandits in Mexico while on a horseback riding trip. The bandits in question were in the neighborhood of eight years old and I'm fairly sure they laid a pretty heavy duty curse on my head when I refused their bracelets. When the apocalypse comes, the only survivors will be cherubic eight-year-olds aggressively peddling delightful woven jewelry.

Greg 5:22 PM  

@puzzlegirl, @john, et. al:
thanks for the clarification and education on rebus puzzles! :-)
I clearly did not have a full understanding on the matter, and sorry if I spoke too presumtiously on the matter earlier - I appreciate the knolwedge!
Happy Valentine's Day all!

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

The previous Times puzzle with a heart was a Sunday puzzle with, of course, haDmore squares to fulfill the intended valentine. No comparison can be made.

Bill from NJ 7:03 PM  

I never met a rebus I didn't like and naturally assumed the multiple letters represented a syllable, a word or, as John F said, letters that spannned one or more words.

I didn't realize how rigorous folks could be on the subject but this is an idiocyncratic pursuit we are all involved with here and it is impossible for me to be critical.

After all, we are all word people.

Rex Parker 7:15 PM  

"No comparison can be made" is perhaps the dumbest-ass thing anyone has ever written on this blog.

I love when readers disagree with me, but come on. Give yourself a name when you comment and try making at least a little sense. You might begin by not making blanket proclamations in the passive voice.

Today's theme and last year's Valentine's-related theme are Identical. Identical. A "HEART" rebus where the HEARTS can be connected to form a HEART shape. Identical. The fact that last year's was a Sunday puzzle is irrelevant in the extreme.


Orange 8:08 PM  

I don't know, Rex—he/she/it has a point. Sunday puzzles are almost twice the size of dailies, so they're different beasts in many ways. The Sunday has 14 [HEART] squares stretched out in a 21x21 grid, whereas Kahn's puzzle today has eight rebus squares squeezed into a considerably tighter space. Most 15x15 rebus puzzles have nowhere near this many rebus squares, certainly not filling in L/R symmetrical spots that make a shape. To get 16 phrases that contain the letter string HEART to interlock in this way—especially in the corners, where pairs of entries criss-cross—is no mean feat. To expect those rebus entries to also be 100% consistent (either all meaning heart or none meaning heart) is too much.

Also, the rebus entries in that Sunday puzzle include HEARTIES, which doesn't quite use HEART as a stand-alone piece, and it has the oddball phrase GREAT-HEARTED, in a puzzle that also has GOOD-, SAD-, and HARD-HEARTED, along with and DOWN-HEARTEDNESS. That's about four too many HEARTEDs, and a tad clunky in my book.

Kathy 8:15 PM  

Thanks, rp, for responding to anonymous 5:58--I snorted aloud when I read the comment. No comparison can be made--it's the same theme, but last year, it was bigger. Why didn't I think of that? Dumbest-ass indeed! (On another note, can you hyphenate dumbest-ass? Isn't dumbest an adverb?) Sorry, I honestly don't care. Just amused by the comment and your response.

Kathy 8:20 PM  

Orange--I cheated off of you today and you're agreeing with the anonymous one?!

I think the comparison has to be made in that the theme is exactly the same. You are right that the level of difficulty is different, but the theme is where you need to make a comparison.

Still will cheat off of you in the future, though!


PhillySolver 8:29 PM  

Me? I'm trying to think of the right thing to write so I can be considered the smartest-ass on the blog.

Maybe I just did.

doc John 8:42 PM  

I won't get into the current discussion concerning the similarities/differences of the two heart puzzles. I will say that I enjoyed this puzzle, found it challenging and fun. I also liked that HEART wasn't always its own word- made it harder (and my only mistake: in the Paul Lynde square- had to make the T in NOW THIS to look like ♡- no easy feat!).

I did not notice any mention of the inclusion of the word WOOED- appropriate for today's puzzle.

Ah, ANNETTE O'Toole, who played Superman's girlfriend in one movie and now plays his mother.

RED EAR?- Please. Even RED EYE isn't too close- it's usually called "pink eye". And if it's medical terms you want, look no farther than OPEN ♡.

Rockonchris 8:45 PM  

I'm with you, JLS. I enjoyed the puzzle. This time last year I hadn't started doing puzzles yet so this rebus/theme was new to me. I also don't see much reason to have strict rules about how to format rebuses (rebi?). It's all fun, just different.

PuzzleGirl 8:46 PM  

My husband laughs so hard when I tell him there's controversy on the crossword blog.

Big Lefty 8:48 PM  

Last one I filled in was the nowhhis and when I did, I looked and shook my head. Tossed the paper down like, wow, that was kind of dumb. One other was irregular too. Generally, I don't like rebus puzzles so much. Too gimmicky and they look goofy at times, really. Someone here also seems to feel a need to provide higher-level insights to Rex. I see them and chuckle, really. It's his blog. Hang in there Rex, you have a great thing going here.

Kathy 9:06 PM  

puzzlegirl, you gotta stop telling your husband! He's better off not knowing....


Anonymous 9:40 PM  

great post, john f

Michael 9:52 PM  

I got this, but really slowly -- at about Saturday speed on a Thursday. "red ear" didn't help..

Really clunky -- not unlike the Iowa-Michigan basketball game I'm watching.

karmasartre 10:01 PM  

When people say "there is no comparison" they are, in fact, comparing things....as in one is far better than the other.

adfero lux 10:03 PM  

okay bub, i've got to say bub/sonny is a fine pairing as they're both used as "an often insolent term of address." you can picture a grumpy old man using the terms interchangeably.
but i can find nothing to indicate that an emu has been branded a pest. the last time i checked cows weren't pests. i was glad to see you mention it.

jilmac 11:57 PM  

I moved very quickly all the way through this puzzle then came to a grinding halt which completely floored me. After realizing it was a heart rebus puzzle I was so sure that 4 across was The Heart of Darkness, that I never went back to it even when that whole section would not work!!!! I didn't see the heart shape.

Guess I should start these puzzles in the morning instead of at 11pm!!!

Doug 1:14 AM  

@catherine k

Montmartre isn't seedy in a dangerous way, just a touristy way. Overall it's a quite nice area (it's high up and you can see Paris quite well) and in the central square you find the "starving artist" scene has evolved into "Dali prints - buy one, get one."

Like most famous places, it's been allowed to be overrun with vendors hawking a lot of junk, but not like say the Colosseum in Rome with its "take a pic with the gladiator!" Paris has a lot of things to watch out for, especially pickpockets on trains, but if someone tried to have a go at you in a public place like Montmartre you just walk away or flag a cop if it persists.

rce 6:21 PM  

RE Orange's point at 8:08 - of course she has a point. The conceit may be the same but the difficulty in achieving symmetry is certainly not. "Dumbest-ass" comment seems a bit of an overreaction.

Eric 11:42 PM  

Here in Madison, we have a "Cafe Montmarte" and a Russian restaurant named "Arabat," which helped with that clue.

For those of use who haven't been doing the NYT puzzles long, the heart rebus was new and exciting. It took me waaaay to long to realize that was what was even going on here, but then the puzzle fell nicely. I imagine for you long-time solvers, there's not a whole lot new under the sun.


john in bethesda 6:19 PM  

this puzzle was just no fun. I found it archaic and arcane, with no flow to keep you at it

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

I agree with you on the faults of this puzzle, but thanks for giving the definition of redear. I have been getting this for years and no doctor has ever been able to tell me what it was. So thank you Dr. Parker

Jet City Gambler 4:49 PM  

49 Across: Corleone slain at a tollbooth

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