SUNDAY, Apr. 26, 2009 - T Payne (Comedy webzine founded 2000 / * picada burrito filler / Anakin Skywalker flew one in "Star Wars Episode I")

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Roughly Speaking" - rebus puzzle with "ER" or "UM" (sounds of hesitation one might make when speaking) crammed into 35 (!!!!!) different squares

Word of the Day: ESDRAS - n. Bible. (Abbr. Esd. or Esdr.)

One of four books of the Vulgate, the first two of which correspond to Ezra and Nehemiah and the second two of which were rejected as apocryphal but are sometimes included as an appendix to the New Testament as 1 and 2 Esdras. (

Wow. This puzzle is astonishing. I have never seen such a dense rebus puzzle. At times, it felt as if I was being riddled with bullets or pelted with tennis balls from a tennis ball machine, but more often I enjoyed myself and found myself amazed at the inventive ways Trip filled the grid. I actually had to fight with this puzzle, and sometimes fights annoy me - if the puzzle fights dirty, with cheap punches and what not - but today, even though I got smacked around a little, I ended up with respect for my worthy adversary.

The first big punch in the mouth came in the NW, where I couldn't parse 3D: Statement of philosophy to Save My Life. Latin phrase with two rebus squares clued as if it were a general term and not a very very specific, unique statement ... ugh. If I had ever seen the abbreviation SLC (1A: 2002 Winter Olympics host: Abbr.), I might have had an easier time with COGITO (ER)GO S(UM). But I couldn't remember where the 2002 Winter Olympics were held, and SL- did nothing for me. Slovakia? That can't be right. The main problem - if you're not looking for a multi-word Latin phrase, then parsing a long answer like that with even just a few missing squares can be rough. In that same section, I was balking at SISL(ER) (55A: Baseball Hall-of-Famer), which felt right, but which wasn't making COGITO (ER)GO S(UM) any easier to see. Never mind that this LYELL guy is a complete mystery man to me (34D: 19th-century geologist Charles). After finally finishing off the NW, I was actually mildly afraid to continue. How much more @#$#-slapping would I have to take? The answer was - some, but not as much as the NW had led me to fear.

In order to get so dang many rebus squares in a puzzle, you gotta ... stretch the limits of crossworthiness here and there. RALLYES (54A: Driving events that use checkpoints) are apparently real things, but what kind of spelling is that??? I had RALLIES, but then EBAI was clearly wrong (40D: Its first sale was a broken laser pointer). Further ESDRAS!? (30D: Either of two books of the Apocrypha). Wow ... I really should pay attention to that section of my Bible more often. Not only have I never heard of it, I was 80% sure it was wrong. ESTRUS I can imagine saying. But -SDR- is not a common letter sequence. And yet all the crosses seemed (and were) rock solid. So I left it. And it was right. In other Stuff I Didn't Know ... I've seen NO BID in puzzles a lot, but never CUE BID (75A: Bridge tactic). Bridge, opera, Broadway musicals ... all stuff I know very little about. And yet I manage, somehow.

My least favorite clue/answer of the day was 82D: Shoat holder (sty), as it reminded me of the swine flu that is about to destroy us all.


  • 25A: Worries for ransom recipients [S(ER)IAL N(UM)B(ER)S] - love this. Great clue for an original (and very rebusified) answer
  • 7A: J.J. _____, co-creator of "Lost" and director of 2009's "Star Trek" [ABRAMS] - he's everywhere right now, and the "Star Trek" movie is in a major hype phase. The latest issue of "Wired" is guest-edited by ABRAMS. It's got puzzle folks in it. You should check it out.
  • 27A: Resident of Asmara [(ER)ITREAN] - without rebus, I wouldn't have known. But with just that one rebus square in place - gimme.
  • 33A: Santiago, to Hemingway [OLD MAN] - nearly put in RED MAN. I wish I were kidding.
  • 44A: Anakin Skywalker flew one in "Star Wars Episode I" [POD RAC(ER)] - that's the "Episode" when I stopped caring
  • 52A: Greeting you shouldn't say at an airport [HI, JACK] - cheeky, but I like it. Really should have had a "?" on it, though. I could greet a guy named "JACK" with that greeting and absolutely nothing would happen. If I had that disease where I couldn't modulate my voice and so I shouted the greeting, then maybe I'd have a problem.
  • 56A: Flanged weapons [MACES] - yeah, I've decided that "flanged" is up there among the most awful words in the English language.
  • 70A: Salon product for flat hair [VOL(UM)IZ(ER)] - great, fresh answer with super rebus power
  • 79A: Reason to get all gussied up [HOT DATE] - gotta call a foul here. The word "gussied" belongs nowhere near the word "HOT." There is nothing "HOT" about the word "gussied."
  • 80A: _____ picada (burrito filler) [CARNE] - haven't heard this phrase. I know "CARNE asada," but only from "Taco Bell" commercials.
  • 94A: Professional who may wear goggles [AVIATOR] - this came to mind instantly, but a. I didn't think you had to be a "professional" to aviate, and b. I feel like I just saw a clue that referenced the fact that "goggles" are antiquated or old-timey. No such indication here.
  • 111A: Pitched quarters [TENT] - I think this is supposed to be tricksy ("pitched" = verb?), but this is another I got instantly.
  • 113A: Seventh-brightest star in a constellation [ETA] - I learned the whole Greek-letter way of naming stars from crosswords. ETA is the seventh letter in Greek alphabet after alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon and zeta.
  • 4D: Gang hanger-on [MOLL] - one of my favorite words from crime fiction. Best when preceded by "GUN"
  • 9D: Guitarist Cooder and others [RYS] - misread it as singular at first and wrote in RYE ... did not look right.
  • 11D: Bird once hunted by the Maori [MOA] - yay. I love this (gigantic, extinct) bird. Look out also for the (much smaller, non-extinct) KEA, a parrot that Will rarely puts in the puzzle, but that I've seen in other puzzles multiple times. KEA are common as pigeons in parts of NZ.
  • 16D: Feather, to Fernando [PL(UM)A] - can you feel the PLUMA, Fernandooooo...?

  • 17D: State trisected by a river of the same name: Abbr. [TENN.] - entertained CONN. and PENN. there for a while.
  • 56D: Comedy webzine founded in 2000 [MOD(ER)N H(UM)ORIST] - I love fresh, contemporary answers, but what fresh hell is this? Never, ever heard of it. I live on the damned web. How embarrassing.
  • 62D: 2003 sequel to a popular 1994 comedy [D(UM)B AND D(UM)B(ER)(ER)] - this deserves some kind of award. A four-rebus answers Intersecting Another Four-Rebus Answer -> B(UM)P(ER) TO B(UM)P(ER) (98A: Crowded, in a way). My god, he's got five rebus squares just in that little 3x5 section in the SE. Wow.
  • 65D: Groucho Marx foil Margaret [D(UM)ONT] - didn't know it. Did she play the dowager figure in one/many of the movies? I think so.
  • 70D: End of a famous claim [VICI] - see also SUM (3D)
  • 75D: Dark quaff [COLA] - nice one. "Quaff" sort of suggests beer, but no ...
  • 105D: Largest known dwarf planet [(ER)IS] - an example of why there is no substitute, when trying to get better at solving, for practice practice practice. As you all know, my knowledge of astronomy is iffy at best, but first ETA, and then ERIS went down easily. Having seen ERIS before, and knowing the "ER" theme, I didn't even hesitate here - even one year ago, there would have been hesitation aplenty.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
(waiting for someone to give me a wrap-up of yesterday's Crosswords L.A. Tournament)

PS Orange's write-up of Sunday (syndicated) LAT is here.


JannieB 7:51 AM  

What a fun ride this was - I guessed "rebus" in the NW and the only thing slowing me down was the mechanics of entering them into across-lite. The typing took forever. I thought this would get a much easier rating as I had no real problems with it.

I did question both Esdras and Rallyes but the crosses couldn't be denied. Last fill for me was Tre/Stripper. Took forever to parse that!

Bravo, Trip Payne!

Dough 7:58 AM  

I solve M-F online and get my Sa and Su NYT delivered. I was happy to solve on paper for this one. @Rex, your experience with this puzzle matched mine exactly. Just as you are weak with Bridge, opera, Broadway musicals (all of which I'm fair to great at), I am weak on all the Trekkie, Star-Warsy stuff, iffy on baseball, and one-d on college football. Anyway, I had to guess the "d" of the podracer thing and wrote it off as trek-drek. I was thrilled to read that you didn't know it either! Made my morning. This puzzle had very little "know it or you don't" stuff and a lot of patient work-it-out stuff. My favorite entry in this puzzle was "b(um)ste(er)." Nice clean familiar phrase with two rebus squares.

David 8:10 AM  

For me the PODRACER/ESDRAS crossing was a NATICK even though I saw the movie. IMHO Esdras should be considered too obscure for a Sunday where the cross is not a household term.

retired_chemist 8:12 AM  

Wow! Almost exactly the same sticking points as Rex. I'd have to call it challenging, because I eventually had to google in the NW. COGITO ERGO SUM was tough, not because I didn't know it, but because of a conflation of several errors in its crosses. I had SERA unshakably, albeit incorrectly, instead of SERUM @ 59A. Never read Old Man. Started with AYERS as a guess @34D (Ayers Rock, but the eponym was a non-geologist I later found out). Left the A (34D thus being AYELL; who knew from LYELL?) despite proving AYERS wrong, so ?ADMAN was my 33A partial. BAD MAN? MAD MAN? Had to google SLC (1A) and that got the C for COGITO, and then it all fell into place.

But I really enjoyed the challenge. Took forever to uncover the rebus, much longer than it should.

HIJACK was a gimme because I have used that line as a joke before (just not in airports).

RALLYES seemed a stretch to me too.

Overall, kudos to MR. Payne.

Ruth 8:12 AM  

It's also cool that there's not a single place that I can see where he put in an ER that isn't rebussed (if that's the word). Nor is there a non-rebus UM, but that would be less likely. That must have been hard.

HudsonHawk 8:18 AM  

Very impressive puzzle, and generally a lot of fun. I moved fairly quickly after I figured out the twin rebuses (rebusi?). I wanted George BRETT but it just wasn't happening with the crosses. That's when I rememberd SISLER and the ER came about. The SERIAL NUMBERS/IN SUMMARY crossing led me to the UM rebus and I was rolling.

As I entered DUMB AND DUMBERER I started to worry that I would run out of squares. I agree with Rex, that corner is pretty friggin' impressive.

I finished in the Cook County/Lake Michigan area, staring at six empty squares to begin 44A and 48A. I wasn't sure what kind of RACER was involved in Episode I (never saw it) and while OBJET seemed logical, I was also unfamiliar with ESDRAS. Only when I figured out PUMICING did it all come together. Well done, Trip!

I'm OK with RALLYES, though I also entered RALLIES first. Lots of sports cars over the years have had RALLYE packages or models.

HudsonHawk 8:25 AM  

Oh, and I was prepared to call foul when I thought the dark quaff might be LAG(ER), but COLA was a nice misdirection.

retired_chemist 8:56 AM  

@ HudsonHawk - lagers are actually light beers, both in color and body.

Megan P 8:58 AM  

My favorite rebus puzzle of All Time. And my first opportunity to use the keystroke method of entering multiple letters on a Mac that I learned. . . right here!

JannieB, if your machine is a Mac, try the esc key.

Margaret Dumont represents a phenomenon I experience as I get older and olderer - she was a total battle-axe who now looks (to me) (sometimes) almost dishy.

HudsonHawk 9:05 AM  

@retired chemist, yes I know--that's why I was ready to call foul.

Orange 9:09 AM  

@Ruth, Trip mentioned the difficulty of avoiding all non-rebused ERs in his remarks at the Wordplay blog. Given how common that letter pair is in crossword answers, I'm envisioning a lot of cursing and tearing out a corner when stray ERs cropped up.

One of the commenters at my blog said it was LYELL who opened up the span of time for Darwin, as he insisted that the earth was millions of years old, not 6,000 years old.

A crossword tournament rookie named Jordan Chodorow swooped into a fast first place after the main rounds of Crosswords West competition. Two ACPT regulars, Eric Maddy and Eric Levasseur, were the other finalists, solving with color commentary from Tyler Hinman and TV's Michael Colton. Eric M. took 1st, Eric L. 2nd, and Jordan 3rd. Both Erics have competed in divisional finals at the ACPT, so that experience may have helped them.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:16 AM  

Great, fun puzzle. Did it at the beach yesterday also (cf 4/25.)

When I first looked at it, I read the title, Roughly Speaking, and the clue for HIJACK somehow jumped out at me and it was my first fill. But that gave me the wrong idea about the theme (Things People Say That They Shouldn't?) and I had to make a lot more entries before I got the idea.

Only one write-over, had GRASP before CLASP (108A).

Sad to say, had to come home and do several googles to get the Acrostic.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

I got the rebuses right away from COGITO ERGO SUM. After that, the ERs and UMs were very helpful in getting at other answers -- like BUMPER TO BUMPER.

My speculation is that DUMB AND DUMBERER was the orginal inspiration for this great puzzle theme.

Loved it!


Karen 9:35 AM  

I got the rebus with MUMBAI, but confirmed it with PODRACER. I was amazed going through the puzzle with how often those four letters showed up. Although when I saw Trip's name in the byline I knew we were in for a good puzzle.

The SLC Olympics were the second to host curling, and the first to televise tons of games on CNBC, making American flock to curling clubs. Thank you Mitt Romney.

My last square was the intersection SISLER/LYELL, as I don't know either of these folks.

Ale Man 9:45 AM  

Lagers have quite a range and include Dark Lager/Dunkel styles.

Shiner 97 — Bohemian Black Lager is one example, as is Jever Dark.

Peter S. 9:45 AM  

What a hoot! It's been a while since I've caught myself smiling so much.

(Did anyone think that the puzzler, at one time, desperately wanted 43-Across to be P(ER) ANN(UM)?)

Don't know why I lucked out, but it was the Descartes and Lyell that came easy to me -- and made me love the puzzle. (Much more than PITI(ER).)

And, yes, LYELL was a huge influence on Darwin, who took the first volume of Lyell's Principles of Geology (1830) aboard the Beagle.

But Lyell wasn't the "discoverer" of an immensely old Earth by any means. Most geologists accepted that idea by the 1830s. Indeed, LYELL's work built upon that of his mentor James Hutton, the "father of modern geology," who famously said that the planet had "no vestige of a beginning -- no prospect of an end." Lyell was famous for refining and expanding Hutton's ideas, especially what came to be known as geological uniformitarianism.

Denise 9:58 AM  

I worked for more than an hour and a half on this puzzle -- perfect Saturday night fun with "Cheaper By The Dozen" on the DVR.

However, I see that I missed a few "er"s -- settled for less than perfection.

I just loved it. Why is it called a "rebus"? I thought a rebus had pictures.

Susan 10:31 AM  

I thought the best clue was 39D, Poor orator, perhaps, which was the whole key to the rebus.

I really liked this puzzle, too, but I confess that I wouldn't have appreciated the elegance and complexity of its construction half so much six months ago, before I started following this blog!

JannieB 10:31 AM  

@Megan P - yes I use a MAC and know about the ESC key - it just took me a lot longer to key the entries in since there were so many rebus squares to deal with. I'd have finished very quickly on paper - that's all.

David 10:37 AM  

@hudson hawk, I think the plural of rebus might be rebi (as in alumnus - alumni)
I caught on to the rebus early but never heard of DUMBANDDUMBERER so the south east didn't get finished without Rex's help.

Greene 10:38 AM  

This was an outstanding puzzle in every respect: amazing construction, high solving satisfaction, great fun factor, moderate difficulty (but still highly doable), and two different rebus entries going simultaneously. Hats off to Mr. Payne!

This puzzle illustrates, rather handsomely I think, what I was talking about in my post yesterday. Received knowledge will not take you very far with this puzzle, but a love of wordplay coupled with some mental agility will take you across the finish line.

Lastly, what a pleasure to solve this puzzle using an iMAC! Filling in all those rebus squares would have been quite a chore with my old PC, but was a snap with the ESC key.

retired_chemist 10:48 AM  

Won't argue with an Ale Man :-)

I, and also the dictionary in the Mac OS 10 dashboard, must defer to him. I prefer dark beers, so I'll have to stop ignoring lagers now, as had been my habit.

Did anyone else start with "ASHES TO" for 22A? That added to my NW issues.

bigredanalyst 11:01 AM  

I thought this was the best Sunday puzzle in a long time. Well-constructed, thoughtful but very doable.

Having participated in dozens of amateur road RALLYES this was a "gimme" for me.

The NW and SE proved the most challenging parts but eventually it all came together.

Thanks, Trip.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Lager Ale Bock Porter Stout the only one that fits is lager and it's not dark so COLA
My fascination with the Marx Brothers finally paid off with Margaret D(um)ont which gave me half the rebus right off the bat. Dubai not in India so it must be M(um)ai.

elomb666 11:09 AM  

Hated 85 Across: B(UM)ST(ER) for "Lousy Tip". Never heard of it.

Susan 11:09 AM  

Yes, retired chemist. Ashes to Ashes was the first one I "got." Ugh!

Susan 11:10 AM  

elomb666, it's bum steer, not bumster.

Ulrich 11:33 AM  

I join the chorus praising the puzzle, even if the ESDRA/PODRACER crossing remained unresolvable to me, my personal Natick today--and I am glad to see that I wasn't alone with this. But I accept this as a price to pay for an above average rebus that was easy to get right away, but stayed challenging throughout because of the density of the rebus squares and their repetition INSIDE ANSWERS, as Rex pointed out.

And the plural of rebus is anybody's guess as it is made up, i.e. Latin "rebus" doesn't mean anything close to what we consider a rebus. So, "rebi" would be a back formation, and a very awkward one IMHO.

Shamik 11:44 AM  

Bravo, Trip Payne, Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

This puzzle was unlike and like getting a cholla cactus stuck in you. Unlike a cholla because it was thoroughly enjoyable. Like a cholla because you had to pull at it bit by bit by bit by bit. I got the rebus at PLUMMER and worked all the way around and back and forth, etc.

Absolutely brilliant. But no medium about it. Solved in 42:21 which makes it my most challenging Sunday puzzle that I've correctly solved since tracking my times. Even had to stop to tell the husband about the rebus and how much fun it was. He shook his head.

My special favorite was SUPERNUMERARIES. It just isn't seen.

My mis-starts are too nUMERous to mention. Only part I didn't care for was RALLYES. One ugly entry can be forgiven in such a well-crafted puzzle.

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

mac 11:44 AM  

Compliments to Trip Payne! One of the most enjoyable Sunday puzzles this year. I love the little double ones, like serum, Sumter, merger and Plummer, and especially bum steer! I got the "um" part in
"in summary" and Mumbai, then the "er" one came sort of naturally. My favorite word is "supernumeraries". Had one mistake, "stropper" instead of "stripper", should have read the clue more carefully.
Got to go marinade for the first barbecue of the season! Enjoy your Sunday.

retired_chemist 11:51 AM  

rebus is the ablative plural of res (thing) in Latin, and is interpreted in the other OED (Online Etymology Dictionary) as "By means of things." That does make sense as we use the term.

Since rebus isn't a second declension nominative (despite the -us ending), rebi is fractured Latin. Never heard it and don't expect to.

alanrichard 11:51 AM  

I thought this was a very entertaining puzzle. It was challenging but solvable. I started in the SW because I knew everything there and got the rebus right away, sort of. I knew it was cons "um" er, but it didn't figure the "er" as quickly. Then when I meandered to the NE I got newspap "er" col "um" n and then it was obvious. UM ER.
Once i realized the theme I knew George Sisler as opposed to Brent. I also was misdirected by lar "er" as compared to the correct answer cola.
What's sort of funny is that whatever knowlege I've acquired regarding: alcohol, opera, and botany is purely through doing the NY Times Puzzles.
Now that I dedicated almost 1/2 hour to this its time to move on to the LA Times Sunday daily and LA Times Magazine.
Oh, it's b "um" ste "er" not b "um" ster - unlesss your name is Dagwood!

jae 12:11 PM  

Great puzzle. The SISLER/LYELL crossing was a total guess for me which turned out right. Amazing feet of construction. The sort of parallel downs of COGITO... and SUPERNUM... made the top half of this an interesting and challenging solve.

Ulrich 12:14 PM  

@retired_chemist: you're right--I didn't make myself clear.

What I meant was that "rebus" doesn't mean "crossword puzzle with squares occupied by more than 1 letter" or, in the more common meaning, "puzzle with pictures representing words", i.e. it's not a nominative, as you say--the rest follows.

Severin 12:26 PM  

I haven't looked at MODERN HUMORIST in years..forgotten it actually. It's um, er, not very funny.

edith b 12:44 PM  

Never have I seen a puzzle that depended more on crosses than this one.

Got the first part of the rebus at {ER)ITREAN and the second part at COGITO(ER)GOS(UM) by way of ANGELAS Ashes thru SLC which I remembered as Salt Lake City.

Pure happenstance got me into this puzzle and the aforementioned crosses got me out.

It was a slog but an enjoyable one as I was able to Keep on Truckin', as the Dead said right thru to the bitter end.

Clark 1:00 PM  

@retired_chemist -- Thanks for the latin lesson. Oh that ablative plural! I too put in Ashes to ashes, along with a whole lot of other mistakes to begin with.

It takes me forever to spot a rebus puzzle. Over and over again I think I know what the answer must be but it is too long. It has to be Mumbai, but it doesn't fit. You'd think I would catch on.

Great puzzle.

jeff in chicago 1:01 PM  

Simply fantastic. I think Greene said it best. Challenging, but doable. Fun and very rewarding. Thanks, Trip, for a great puzzle.

With all those rebus squares, there are only two words in the entire puzzle that don't include a rebus square or cross a word that does. HATE (52D) and COLA (75D). Frikkin' amazing.

jeff in chicago 1:03 PM  

And of course I loved DUMONT. She's my favorite dame! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->

treedweller 1:04 PM  

SISLER/LYELL = ugh! Everything else that stumped me eventually came together (though I had to confirm SUPERNUMERARIES on google), but I was left with a gap in the end.

I am impressed with the puzzle, and this is obviously one of my blind spots rather than some unforgivable obscurity, but no success here today.

Frieda 1:07 PM  

This was for me the best fun ev(ER) in a rebus puzzle, or a Sunday puzzle! A MESS was my first entry right there at the top, and I thought oh, no, I hope that's not this is going to rebus at EN(ER)O like lighting a sparkler and enjoyed the fireworks all the way down to D(UM)B AND D(UM)B(ER)(ER).

In the ashes-to-ashes camp briefly at 22a; now I know ESDRAS, and (ER)IS and ETA--thanks Rex and the Google.

I know it's an effect of reading Rex and comments here for about a year, and doing lots of puzzles when I can, as quickly as I can (now "enrolling" in crosswordese 101 at the LAT site) that things like TOAT or NOTIT don't slow down solving; happy to move on to OSSA from ETNA. What all that means is the big Sunday grid is (now) fun to work out without getting bored/discouraged.

I knew LYELL--one of the gimmes for me. Very much enjoyed the glosses on that from @Orange (and *her* blogger) and @Peter S. Thanks @retired chemist for "rebus" parsing! My favorite use of the word is from Giordano Bruno, "Natura est deus in rebus."

Great grid, great fun, bravo Mr Payne!

Leon 1:10 PM  

Thanks Mr. Payne. It was the hardest Sunday in a while. Er, um it was enjoyable.

Margaret Dumont Tribute.Here's Groucho on Irving Thalberg and Dumont. Go to 7:00 for Dumont.

fikink 1:40 PM  

As Karen did, I found the rebus at MUMBAI and MUMBLER and as BobK, had GRASP for CLASP.
Nice Sunday brunch puzzle: MEATy (which I first had for "heart") and entertaining.
Also, has DUMBANDDUMBERII for a time.
What a long strange TRIP it's been! (Thanks, Edith!)

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Merl Reagle's Sunday puzzle today had a few overlaps with the Times puzzle:

CACTI (clued similarly as "desert flora")
ETAS (clued as "Greek letters"
SOOT (clued as "Spots on Santa")

And as a bonus, SCOUT, clued as "(HARPER LEE's) "To Kill a Mockingbird" girl")

mccoll 1:45 PM  

Great puzzle! I had to google Harper Lee and the rest is historee. This thing is unbelievable! He might have included (ER)ROR MAK(ER) and ST(UM)BLE B(UM) but that would be a lot to ask. A tour de force. Why can't pitched be a past participle? "The tent was pitched on the lawn."

Lili 1:58 PM  

I figured out what was going on with this puzzle because I've just finished reading Abraham Verghese's "Cutting for Stone," which enabled me to answer 27 Across -- "Resident of Asmara" -- with "Eritrean." Except, of course, that the E and the r had to go in one square. A ha!

I needed my husband's help with Sisler, but that gave me "sum," which gave me -- well, you know.

ArtLvr 2:16 PM  

Yes, it's indeed a tour de force... I was going to start in the NW, which is not my wont, but after getting TOO SOON, ANGELA'S, and HST I went astray -- it did seem that WONKS would be nice for LONerS?

The theme soon emerged though, no problem, and very clever and enjoyable it was. Gratias, Trip!


Crosscan 2:32 PM  

Well my earlier comment never posted for some reason. Perhaps the boredom police wouldn't let it pass.

All that's left to say is WOW!

chefwen 4:12 PM  

I too discovered the rebus with mUMbai and mUMblER and thought that this would be easy, but as the clock ticked away I couldn't believe how empty the grid remained. It ate up much of my Saturday afternoon but it still was a fun ride and I finally was able to put it down and remarked to husband how bruised but satisfied I felt. He didn't care, just looked at the finished puzzle and remarked "oh, UM and ER" and handed it back unimpressed.

Expo bIll 4:12 PM  

I need to to go the ER after doing this one.
aftER 5 easy xwordERs these past sunday, i figERed they would make one hardER.

Jane Doh 4:30 PM  

Pure genius!


chefbea 5:04 PM  

Wow what a great puzzle. Thank you Trip!!!

Took most of the day to complete cuz we were busy doing outside stuff. Beautiful day, in the 80's. Nice walk at the beach.

My only quibble.... I've never seen tbsp as the abreviation for tablespoon. It's tblsp. imo

And for those of you who had not heard of a bundt pan - the recipe in the new york times magazine has a picture of a bundt cake. Think I will make it.

Rex Parker 5:11 PM  

I've never ever seen TBSP as anything else. The "L" in TBLSP seems ridiculously superfluous. TBSP and TSP are the only spoons you're likely to see, and the "B" is enough to differentiate them.


Doug P. 5:25 PM  

One correction to Orange's Crosswords West post. Michael Colton had to leave early and missed the finals, so Andrea Carla Michaels (aka acme) filled in for him & did a fantastic job.

The tournament was a huge success and great fun for everyone. The organizer, Elissa Grossman, did an amazing job of pulling everything together. You'd think she's been doing this for years.

mac 5:42 PM  

There are many abbreviations for these measuring spoons. I've also seen teasp. and tsp., the latter being "tablespoon" in recipes. In many English recipes (receipts) tablespoons, dessertspoons and teaspoons are used, to make things more complicated. I just opened a random 12 cookbooks (I collect them, buy them as souvenirs)* and in EVERY SINGLE ONE tablespoon and teaspoon were spelled out.

*@Ulrich, I even bought a little cookbook in Tahiti. Can't say I have done anything out of it yet.

I cannot locate a New Zealand cookbook, maybe I ran out of time, but I do have one from Australia, the same trip, called: 101 Ways to Cook a Sheep.

Full disclosure: I buy shoes as souvenirs, too.....

Roxie 5:48 PM  

I was so proud of myself for knowing a baesball answer. Brett! George Brett! He's a Hall of Famer from my area. ER...UM...No. It took forever before I finally let it go. Another baseball clue killed me. Sisler crossing with Lyell. Might as well have been Sisser and Lyels, don't you think? I had no chance. But I loved the incredible feat of construction.

archaeoprof 5:51 PM  

Wow, what a remarkable puzzle! I liked BUMSTEER. My dad used to say that.

But I lived in NC for years, and I just got back from spending the weekend there. Nobody in NC would call themselves an EASTERNER. "Southerner" if you please...

PuzzleGirl 6:08 PM  

Awesome awesome puzzle. Couldn't finish it in one sitting and wasn't able to get back to it until late in the day today. Put me in the George Brett camp. I also had "per annum" for a while. ANGELA's Ashes came to me immediately for some reason so I didn't have a problem there. This puzzle really is amazing.

chefbea 6:23 PM  

I guess I must have dreamt that there is an L in the abbreviation of tablespoon. Looked in several cookbooks and Mac is right - its written out and not abbreviated. Googled it and It is either T or tbs


joho 7:34 PM  

And the award goes to ... Trip Payne!

Ulrich 7:42 PM  

@mac: No mahi mahi with vanilla sauce for you? It actually tastes better than it sounds, but still...

@puzzlegirl: It's the ashes, right?

wsrhodes 7:48 PM  

Have been doing the puzzles in the Chicago Tribune for many years and the abbreviation for tablespoon is always TBS. But perhaps that has now been usurped by Ted Turner.

joho 7:56 PM  

I should have said ... and the ORYX goes to ... Trip Payne!

fergus 8:03 PM  

I thought Mrs. Teasdale's name might have been Margaret, so I entered RUFUS (T. Firefly) as her foil. And yet that didn't seem quite right. She appeared in number of guises in other movies, but I don't think the actress name DUMONT ever registered through numerous Marx Brothers replays.

Thinking I was going to crack a beer after a few entries, I realized fairly soon that this puzzle would require some rather scrupulous attention. And now it's almost 5pm, after a very lively and relatively exchange with Mr. Payne.

Sustained, entertaining interest throughout. I'm a big fan of non-symmetrical rebuses.

Z.J. Mugildny 8:03 PM  

This puzzle was the s**t!

fergus 8:06 PM  

... relatively lengthy, I meant. What's happened to my blue and orange trashcan option?

Vega 8:30 PM  

Amazing! Ditto the positive comments from everyone else. DUMBANDDUMBERER crossing BUMPERTOBUMPER = brilliance. Agreed, though: North Carolinians are Southerners, not Easterners.


fergus 9:27 PM  

Since I was keen to the theme, I thought what may go around the office was a rUMor, rather than a MEMO.

There were so few flaws to this superb puzzle that Cluing a North Carolinian as an Easterner was, I concur, a clumsy superfluous misdirection.

I've been trying to teach some awareness of the COGITO to 7th graders lately, yet without noticing any of the assured revelation one might get from slightly older young scholars. I guess it's either too obvious, or too profound.

micheal 10:19 PM  

great puzzle, but rallyes and esdras are really unusual answers. Weird as it looked, rallyes had to be right but the esdras/pod racer clue was too much for me.

Chris Kern 10:50 PM  

I must be the only person for whom ESDRAS was a gimmee -- that was one of the first answers I entered in the grid.

However, I'm still stuck on the puzzle so you're all better than me anyway :D

Chris Kern 11:00 PM  

Wow, I made a total mess of the NW, I was creating my own puzzle up there with STASH (1D), LOSERS (2D), HSH (28A), and ASHESTO (22D).

Karla 11:12 PM  

Huge, huge help. Thanks. But what's wrong with "flanged"? "Flanged" is awesome!

fergus 12:03 AM  

One last laugh from this puzzle was Santa's SOOTY boots.

Usually, you throw away Sunday's stretched efforts, but today's got yet another wrinkled smile over the vertical connection of VICI and ONAN, among other little subordinate constructor asides.

Since I seldom look at the video connections Rex provides, I'd vouch for EMMY LOU any time. Her duets with Neil Young are enough to persuade anyone.

andrea carla michaels 3:09 AM  

b(um)med I've missed out on this puzzle, but am traveling and was only able to do the acrostic with the agreement I give back the rest of the puzzle page and now I've seen too many spoilers. :(

But just wanted to check in to say I'd be happy to write something up about the LA tourney when I get back to San Fran tomorrow or Tuesday...what is it exactly that you'd like to know?

Was just discussing with my 97 yr old grandmother whether "quaff" was pronounced the same way as "coif" bec when we were talking about her hairdo, and mentioned coif/coiffure she said talking about it made her thirsty and I suggested perhaps bec it sounds like "quaff" as in "quaff your thirst..."
but now I'm not so sure and it's midnight and I need to go to bed.

Anonymous 4:15 AM  

Great, great puzzle. Took me all day, sporadically, but finally finished at midnight.

It's so clever, with a great mix of answers from low brow to high brow, from TV and film to philosophy, from baseball to burritos.

Will become a standard by which other rebuses are measured.

Ellen 12:40 PM  

Francis Heaney's "Holy Tango of Literature" was first published in Modern Humorist.

Stan 6:51 PM  

Finally finished this (yes it's Tuesday and I started on Sunday). But enjoyed all the little payoffs on the way (like SERUM and PLUMMER and the amazing bottom right corner).

Put me in the "Ashes to Ashes' crowd -- it just seemed so right! Plus we're watching it on BBC America...

Colleen 10:36 PM  

agree - awesome puzzle! did not catch on to the rebus until Monday night, but after that all fell into place.

one question (and I am totally new to this blog) -
4Across - "It scans for problems" - I immediately thought MRI [an abbreviation - and the correct answer], but did not put that in, because the clue itself is not an abbreviation, and did not note it otherwise... isn't that against "crossword law"?

Dave/Shelton, CT 6:00 AM  

This is the first time commenting on the NYT Xwrd...and it's four days later...but the "power of Christ COMPELLED me" to do so even at this late date because of the UNIVERSAL approval of this grid...

Me? Not so much. This is one of the WORST NYT puzzles I have ever attempted. It is the equivalent of "mental masturbation" wait, it IS MM! It's a "show-offy" look-at-me construct that includes way too many obscure answers to needlessly gin up the difficulty. ESDRAS? CUE BID? SUPERNUMERARIES? You've gotta be KIDDING, people?!? I LOVE a challenge...but after getting through it, I hope to be rewarded with the solving experience. In the end it was so frustrating, I blogged on to fill the last few words in the grid. UGH!

IMO there are way too many ER's and UM''s a puzzle a great constructor like Payne puts together for his cache of five other finalists/constructors who finish in the Top 10 of the tournament every year to impress each other rather than make a puzzle for the enjoyment of us "plebians". As I tell my daughter often "Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD".

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

From syndicate-land, WHAT A GREAT CROSSWORD! Three hours of head-bangs, groans, AHA's, etc to finish. Jumping around got me over to 68A: PLUMMER which gave away the rebus.
67D: SALIERI - AHA!. I knew this name! From where? A previous crossword.
Things to remember: every greek peak is not ETNA. Santa's boots are never DIRTY. Every 4 letter weapon is not EPEE(s).
Made the other mistakes mentioned in the blog (ashes, grasp) plus 62D: put DUMB(er) initially and with ETNA still in place .. well, it took a while. Removing ETNA let me 'see' bumper-to-bumper and finish off the corner.
35 UMs and ERs. AWESOME puzzle Trip Payne. Great blog too, I've been reading for a while without commenting but today required a note.
Now, back to my regularly scheduled life ...
Whoa! There's a Stan already on the blog. I will be SeniorStan, if that's ok.

Stan 11:22 AM  

@Colleen: Interesting question on MRI. I think the short answer is that very common acronyms (NASA, NASCAR) aren't usually signaled as abbreviations in clues. There's a really good discussion by Patrick Merrell which you can get to from Orange's blog:

Scroll down to Crossword Links on the right and find "Rules of crossword clues"

@Stan/@SeniorStan: Either is fine with me! I look forward to your (our?) future posts.

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