THURSDAY, May 7 2009 - E Gorski (Mysterious art visible from sky / Fictional hero on quest to Mount Doom / 1986 Turner autobiography / Sud's opposite)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: ROUNDS THE CORNER (40A: Gets past a last difficulty ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) - four corners of the puzzle are rebus squares representing a CIRCLE, HOOP, RING, or ZERO, depending on which answer you're reading

Word of the Day: NEUROPATH (16A: Phobic sort) - n. a person subject to nervous disorders or neuroses (Webster's 3rd Int'l.) [not a word that most online dictionaries recognize - I think the word may be a clinical term for what the rest of us call a "NEUROTIC" (n.) ]

Liz Gorski continues to write daring puzzles. This one took me an embarrassingly long time to get traction on because I Would Not Leave the NW corner, where I had everything but the first letters of 1-, 2-, and 3-Down, and Could Not Believe that I couldn't make answers work. TRAMS didn't make sense to me - is that what those things that transport people up to the tops of ski slopes are called? (3D: Suspended air travel?) And SOMAS? I know that word from Huxley, I think. Yikes (2D: Bodies of organisms). But the big problem, of course, was not seeing the rebus element. I figured the [New York City tour provider] was the A LINE or B LINE or C LINE or something like that ... but only HOOPSTER made Any sense in the Across. And then HOOP ... CIRCLE ... it just clicked. What was delightful was discovering that the pairs of "0" meanings were replicated symmetrically in the grid, with HOOP/CIRCLE recurring in the SE and RING/ZERO occurring in both the NE and SW. Something off-seeming about AWE-INSPI[RING], in that it's the only theme answer where the rebus part of the word is not a free-standing word or part of a word where it is used literally (as in HOOPSTER). The fill felt a little strained in parts (MYRRHS (26D: Some aromatic resins)? CODY'S (41D: Buffalo Bill _____ Wild West Show)? CRUMP (66A: Crunching sound)!?), but the cleverness of the theme, the elegance of its execution, and the great long answers flanking the central 15 - PROUD PAPA (31A: Cigar distributor, perhaps) and HIS OR HERS (43A: Unisex) - more than make up for any infelicities.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: B-ball player - [HOOP] STER
  • 1D: New York City tour provier - [CIRCLE] LINE
  • 6A: Like the Grand Canyon or Fourth of July fireworks - AWE-INSPI [RING]
  • 14D: Showtime, at NASA - [ZERO] HOUR
  • 47D: Teeny dress measurement - SIZE [ZERO]
  • 67A: Welcome January 1, say - [RING] IN THE NEW
  • 55D: Mysterious art visible from the sky - CROP [CIRCLE]
  • 68A: 1950s fad item - HULA [HOOP]

Straight to bullets, as today is my last day of teaching for the semester and I'm suh-wamped.

  • 18A: Rush job? (talk radio) - a great "?" clue. Dead on. The "Rush" in question is Limbaugh, in case that wasn't clear.

  • 22A: "Burma Looks Ahead" author (U Nu) - I knew the name was palindromic, with "U"s on either end. "N" was the only letter that sounded right sandwiched in between.
  • 10D: Sud's opposite (nord) - ugh, embarrassing how long it took me to recognize that this was not "Sud" as in something on your beer or in your tub, but sud, as in French for "south."
  • 36A: Fictional hero on a quest to Mount Doom (Frodo) - I thought this might be a video game clue and was hoping for ZELDA (as in "The Legend of ...")
  • 26A: Piccaso's muse Dora _____ (Maar) - knew it. Then forgot it. And even if I'd remembered it, I would have spelled it wrong.
  • 47A: "Notch" on Orion's belt (Hera ... I mean STAR)
  • 49D: Clinton's first defense secretary (Aspin) - this puzzle slightly exceeds the optimal level of people of middling celebrity
  • 8D: Calculus pioneer (Euler) - I see him so often now that it's hard to believe that not that long ago I actually wondered aloud "Who The Hell Is He?" Mathematicians everywhere chortled.
  • 13D: 1986 Turner autobiography ("I, Tina") - a good book title to remember. 5 letters, vowel heavy, unusual letter combinations ... it shows up about once every six months, by my absolutely unreliable estimation.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. If you didn't catch "Dinner: Impossible" last night on Food Network, you missed an interesting window into the world of crosswords - the whole episode was shot at the 2009 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and constructor (and frequent blog commenter, and occasional Rex substitute) Andrea Carla Michaels was basically the star of the show. She helped the chef cook the luncheon for the tournament-goers, and every dish had to represent (visually and ingredients-wise) a familiar saying, e.g. "high on the hog," "spill the beans," etc. I caught glimpses of Dan Feyer, Ellen Ripstein, Trip Payne, Francis Heaney, Tyler Hinman ... and me and my wife ... it was cool.


Alex 8:04 AM  

Clever theme, and I appreciated the symmetry in how the definition of the circles in the corners diverged between across and down.

Still, you were unusually forgiving of the fill, I thought. I can live with the occasional "unu", "euler" and "maar", but "neuropath"? And "crump"? "Crump"?? Particularly crossed with one of the more obscure clues for "Norma" that I can think of.

chefbea 8:10 AM  

Dinner Impossible was fantastic!!! Andrea, you are a true star!!! We have to teach to how to become a real foodie. Saw Rex at the beginning and then again later on.

The puzzle - Had trouble figuring out that the Rebus was different for each word. But a fun puzzle

I'll be eating lots of penne and will see the Trevi fountain next month when I go to Italy. Oldest grand daughter is graduating from highschool.

Pinky 8:31 AM  

Liked the theme, not too keen on some of the clunky (crumpy) fill.
Zero hour is more military than NASA's "showtime" (T minus one or Liftoff) and had me hunting for some way "minus" could work in that corner
I got ROUNDS THE CORNER right away, but expected it to play out with across words continuing somehow into down words.
Fun puzzle, tho!

SethG 8:49 AM  

This felt like a bit of a mess to me. I figured out the Ring/Zero (both Ultimate teams!) from the upper right, then the consistency in the lower left helped me understand the switch. But ugly stuff in the other corners (SOMAS and TRAMS crossing LORRE, and THRU/THORO/"a sound"/"an opera") meant I spent too much time just finding combinations that worked.

The entire middle was awesome.

Yay famouser people I know!

Tony from Charm City 8:52 AM  

I had a few issues from the outset. I started out by entering CAGER and noted that nothing made sense on in 1D, 2D, or 3D, especially having CLINE for 1D, although I had no idea what Patsy Cline was doing providing tours in NYC.

Even when I figured out that it was a rebus, I had other issues since I had RING in the space at the end of 6A. It wasn't until I finished the souther hemisphere of the puzzle that I figured that the letter O fit the bill for everything and then was able to go back to the NW and clean up the mess.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Did any one else get tangled in the NE? Not knowing UNU or MAAR, and thinking of a pompous Ted Turner, I went with USU, MAIR and It Is I... Please tell me you did the same. Also I could only think of baseball for B-Ball player so I couldn't think hoop. Maybe because the Red Sox are crumping?


joho 9:09 AM  

I loved this puzzle! Give me a rebus any day and I'm happy. My worst mess was in the NW which I did not get until HULA gave me HOOP in the SE. I kept trying to fit in RING. Very impressive that four different words represented by 0.

Thank you Elizabeth Gorski!

@andrea carla michaels: you were absolutely wonderful on the show last night. I'm so glad I DVRed it so I watch again. I missed Rex ... have to go back to find him. What fun!

treedweller 9:23 AM  

I still don't like CRUMP as a sound. It could have been clued as a dance style, but maybe that's too far out of the NYT sweet spot. I bet BEQ would have clued it that way. Crossed with Yet Another Opera I Never Heard Of, the M was a mystery for a long time and ultimately a (successful) guess.

I didn't fare as well in the SW, where I started with "ejections" and never caught the mistake. (ASPIN? Aspen? Sure, whichever. Treji? I know it's something like that). I liked the corners, though.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

I was earnestly hoping "Rush Job?" would be PROGROCK, but alas, no luck.

PuzzleGirl 9:46 AM  

Sounds like my experience was very similar to Rex's. Would NOT let the NW corner go for the longest time. I knew "Circle Line" but couldn't figure out how that would play into a rebus for CENTER at 1A. Ugh. When I finally just let it go and moved on, things went pretty smoothly. Except that I wanted CORN MAZE instead of CROP CIRCLE. Two totally different things.

Five letter math guy? EULER. And I'm sorry but there are no words to describe how strenuously I object to crump. CRUMP??? Bah!

If you didn't catch "Dinner: Impossible" last night, I think it will be on YouTube shortly. Andrea was definitely the star of the show, which should surprise no one!!

Michael Leddy 9:53 AM  

The corners threw me -- I could figure out the answers but had no idea what to enter. Zeros, huh.

For CRUMP, how about "Helen of Mayberry"? Helen Crump, aka Aneta Corsaut.

Ale Man 9:57 AM  

In today's NYT Corrections section.

The crossword on Wednesday gave an erroneous clue for 24-Across, seeking the answer “Moses.” The clue should have read, “Adoptee in Exodus” — not “Genesis.”

dk 10:05 AM  

@joho or others, May I get a copy of your copy of Dinner Impossible? I need it for my Acme shrine :). HULA0 was my first as I am of a certain age.

This rebus for this puzzle was AWEINSI0. Ring was the last rebus I got after running around in circles.

I like Mr. Leddy's clue for CRUMP. I had mare for sud's opposite until I realized it was not stud. Still high from yesterdays puzzle I guess.. .

And given my profession and years of study of course it took forever to get NEUROPATH.

Great original fill thank you Ms. Gorski.

mccoll 10:13 AM  

Either I'm getting faster or the puzzles are easier. I got stuck in the NW so I left it and went on the diagonal to the SE where CROP-O gave me the rebus. I popped an "0" in every corner and filled in the grid. Et voila!
I have a degree in Psychology and Neuropath is uncommon to the vanishing point.I liked Hoopster and Rush job for talk radio. I don't get a rush from Rush. Thanks for the puzzle EG and catch up on your marking Rex.

ArtLvr 10:14 AM  

It was an UDDERly great puzzle... Had me going around in circles at the corners, trying to find the one word for the rebus squares, like ZERO in the New Year? But I finally accepted that the 0 did it.

The whole Dinner Impossible espisode was a riot, and Andrea was adorable... All the shots of the tournament were impressive too! Will was beaming like a PROUD PAPA, justifiably.


Anonymous 10:24 AM  

I can't get the online system to accept my puzzle. Tried zeros and letter O's in the corners. Anyone else able to do it?

Two Ponies 10:34 AM  

I love a rebus puzzle and this was no exception but some of the fill was awful.
Unu - who knew?
Crump as someone already said is Opie's teacher not a sound I have ever heard.
Norma does not ever bring to mind an opera but I knew it from xwords.
Thoro??? No.
On the plus side is Junior crossing Proud Papa.
I got 0 Hour from the lyrics to Rocketman (Zero hour 9 a.m.)
I hope I can find Dinner Impossible on YouTube.

Anne 10:34 AM  

This was a really clever puzzle and kept me guessing for a long time. I finally googled some in order to finish. I also started with cager and would not let go for way too long. And even when things began to click into place, it still took some time for reasons already mentioned. Also neuropath sounds way more scary than simply neurotic - which I think most of us are to some degree. At least most of the people I know.

XMAN 10:35 AM  

I should have gotten it...but I didn't.

Great puzzle nonetheless.

william e emba 10:49 AM  

I started with 1A CAGER, and then when I looked at 2D "bodies of organisms for AOMA-, thought, hmm, maybe this is a rebus, and I thought about (BI)OMA(SS) for a while. Ah, head of steam, maybe that's S(SS)S? That didn't work out too well.

U NU, ASPIN, NORMA, EULER are all common crosswordese. I don't recall seeing Dora MAAR in the puzzle before.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

The actual title was Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show, so there's nothing strained about the fill-in.

jeff in chicago 10:51 AM  

Like it. A lot. And I'm not much of a rebus fan.

ZEPPELINS, PROUDPAPA, TALKRADIO, HISORHERS...sweet! Two "Taming of the Shrew" clues? Nice!

CRUMP? Not so much. THRU and THORO? Ehhhh.

Really liked "Dinner Impossible" as well. Never saw the show before. Do they usually have a non-cook guest? Great concept for comedy, and Andrea delivered. Favorite ACME moments? Avoiding cream splash, and reluctantly handling the meat.

joho 10:53 AM  

@dk -- I'm afraid I can't transfer my DVR to you in order to contribute to your ACME shrine. Would if I could! Hopefully somebody else can ... or maybe it will be on YouTube.

George NYC 10:57 AM  

This is a puzzle where local knowledge really helped. The CIRCLELINE is one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of NYC tour providers (along with DIESELEXHAUSTBELCHINGDOUBLEDECKERBUS which didn't fit). And the TRAM to Roosevelt Island from the Upper East Side is famous for its semi-annual breakdown midway across the East River.
Great puzzle!

JEM 11:01 AM  

I'm a fan of Dinner Impossible and crosswords, so last night's was doubly fun. I recorded the 1am showing and just watched it. Check the schedule--it may be aired again in the coming days.

Ulrich 11:05 AM  

I shook hands with Ms Gorski at the ACPT this year and told her that she was one of my favorite constructors. So, I started this one with great expectations and was not disappointed. If anything, I was pleasantly surprised by the twist the puzzle puts on the genre.

I won't deny that isolated clues could be improved--was that the editor's handiwork? In any case, those are more than compensated for by large blocks with great fill IMHO.

And people, please get used to the fact that if you don't know something, that doesn't automatically mean it's obscure and has no place in a puzzle.

retired_chemist 11:07 AM  

Terrific puzzle. I figured out that it was a rebus fairly quickly, but I took too long to catch that the A and D readings of the rebus were different.

I agree to disagree with the cluing of 66A CRUMP - didn't know the word and there are different interpretations of what a "crump" sounds like in the online dictionaries. But the crosses were straightforward, so no harm no foul.

Ahhh, Rex - I was sure you would have connected FRODO to the theme as a bonus Ring reference.....

How does a Zeppelin (61A) make a raid? See Wikipedia: "without notable success," although they apparently did have SOME success, as described in the article. Sounded to me like a great big easy target for anti-aircraft artillery, since one hit should do the Zeppelin in. Was their altitude out of range for the guns of the day?

fikink 11:08 AM  

@mccoll, "uncommon to the vanishing point" - Nice! (I am going to borrow it.)

I am still wondering about CRUMP and had SOCIOPATH before NEUROPATH, which response seems a little beyond the pale, even for me. Got the rebus with CROPcircles and HULAhoop, of course.

Lisa in Kingston 11:11 AM  

Like wm e emba, I tried to stuff biomass into 2Down. It seemed so reasonable, cuz I had NBAer for 1Across (but wait a minute, that can't be right, there's a B in the clue, already!).
Snagged the golden ring at Awe inspiring, and the puzzle was a merry-go-round from there!

retired_chemist 11:13 AM  

If anyone can refer me to a YouTube posting of Dinner:Impossible, or can provide an alternative way to view the episode, please do. I forgot to ask my wife to DVR it.

Elaine 11:24 AM  

I had fun with this one, although was confused until I got the rebus.

Nice to see the correction on Exodus/Genesis for the 'Moses' clue. Now if someone would only acknowledge the Harmonica/Ocarina error from Sunday....

Clark 11:32 AM  

I don't know baseball, but I know who Hank Aaron is. If you're going to do crossword puzzles, listen up. The composer is Bellini. The opera is Norma (tragedy of a Druid priestess who falls in love and sacrifices her life for her lover etc.). The singer is Maria Callas. The style of opera is Bel Canto. The famous aria is Casta Diva:

Maria Callas singing Casta Diva from Bellini's NormaI loved this puzzle.

PhillySolver 11:36 AM  

@Lisa, Merry-go-round...very clever
Ulrich, You are sage
@George, Been on the tram broke down twice.
Amazing, 4,000 years later and Moses is still making news.

Ruth 11:39 AM  

Anonymous 10:24: to get the online puzzle to accept your answers put in just the first letter of the rebus squares as if they were spelled out. I put in the ones that correspond to the Across answers and it worked fine, not sure if putting in the Downs letters would work cuz who cares?

Orange 11:49 AM  

Nancy Shack, who takes hundreds of photos each year at the ACPT, is working on posting the video. Nothing from the Food Network seems to last on YouTube, so presumably the channel asserts its copyright on YouTube. They probably don't monitor Nancy's site. ;-) Probably not 'til later today, though, so be patient.

I can't believe Rex didn't post George THOROgood and the Destroyers today.

Ulrich gets some backup from a picture KarmaSartre sent me last night. You know that site? See Karma's creation here. (That's my post for today, so blur your vision if you don't want spoilers for the LAT, CS, or Tausig crosswords.)

George NYC 11:53 AM  

@anonymous 10:24

Try hitting SHIFT-ESC when on a rebus square.For this puzzle, a Symbols Palette pops up. Select a circle and it pops into the square..

PlantieBea 12:08 PM  

This was clever puzzle and it took me a while to catch onto the four circle meanings. I didn't like crump, but I accept it since it's in the online dictionary.

We really enjoyed the Dinner Impossible episode last night and Andrea, you were wonderful! Are the kitchen/chef scenes as intense as they're edited to look? The puzzle dishes were really fun to see although the some of the oral cluing gave too much away. Very fun for the foodie/solver side of me.

Two Ponies 12:08 PM  

I just checked YouTube and nothing yet.
The Food Network site doesn't have videos of episodes.
If anyone finds it I'd love to watch it.

PlantieBea 12:11 PM  

Supposedly the Food Network has programming on demand. Maybe some of you can find last night's Dinner Impossible there. Alas, our cable service doesn't carry this on-demand channel.

Campesite 12:14 PM  

I was on the same wavelength as Ms Gorski today, and absolutely loved this puzzle!
Treedweller: loved your suggestion about cluing crump as a dance style, but I think it's spelled with a K.

Badir 12:26 PM  

As a mathematician, I l0ved the theme! Yay, circles!

@Alex, you can live with the occasional Euler?! Euler is great! You should love it every time you see his name in the grid! I worked with someone who had "EULER" as his license plate!

My wife and I enjoyed watching _Kitchen:_Impossible_ last night, too. I knew most of the people that Will had guessing dishes; in addition to the folks Rex mentions there were Dave Tuller, Justin Smith, Chris whatsisname, and Mark whosit, for instance.

Noam D. Elkies 12:43 PM  

It's been a while since we've seen a mid-week rebus puzzle, and this was a good one -- thanks!

Fortunately I started in the SE corner, which made the HOOP/CIRCLE corner easier to see. (No, I didn't know 66A:CRUMP either: I guessed correctly from "crumpet", but it seems this was just a lucky coincidence.) I should have made a final tally, which would have caught the central symmetry; happily Rex clued us into that.

The rebus square in 6A:AWE-INSPI[RING] was a nice bonus. It's actually not as much "off" as I thought at first, because its counterpart 67A:[RING]INTHENEW doesn't use the round meaning of the word either.

As a mathematician, I'm not sure what to make of the clue for 8D:EULER -- yes, he did greatly advance calculus (e.g. both of the "two works he would be most renowned for" according to the WIkipage are calculus treatises), but I would only have thought of Newton and Leibniz as pioneers of calculus. In my line of math I regularly use the Euler 34D:PHI function, but I wouldn't expect to see it in the puzzle except maybe Friday or Saturday.

Nice to cross 61A:ZEPPELINS with 51D:AVION. The crossing of 31A:PROUDPAPA with 27D:JUNIOR was already noted here. Did anybody else start on 31A by completing .....P.P. to -PIPE and then wonder what the [mild obscenity] a "proud pipe" might be?


P.S. "[mild obscenity]" reminds me: why the FAC is an F-major chord the avatar of COIXT RECORDS (@9:37AM)?

Leslie 12:59 PM  

Like some of you, I guessed it was a rebus LONG before I figured out that the same word didn't necessarily fit in each rebus blank. Once I got that, things went pretty easily.

Never heard the term "neuropath," and you can put me (sadly) on the "Euler?? Who's that??" bench.

Did anyone else get "Padua" from mentally running through lyrics from "Kiss Me, Kate?"

foodie 1:01 PM  

I loved today's puzzle, and actually did it fast (for me). Very clever!!!

NEUROPATH feels very old fashioned. The more common term is neuropathy, which does NOT mean neurosis, but rather a disease of nerves, usually not in the brain but in the periphery (e.g diabetic neuropathy) So numbness or tingling in a particular part of the body... I don't doubt that the meaning described is out there, but really uncommon nowadays.

Enjoyed "PROUD PAPA" "HIS OR HERS" and of course the very fun corners.

And thinking about the show last night still makes me smile : )

Karen 1:05 PM  

I ended up putting H's and R's in the corners, which were much lesss elegant than O's. Very cool rebus idea.

I kept expecting the Rush clue to lead to a musical answer.

It seems that CRUMP dancing is technically correct, but the preferred spelling seems to be krump.

I'm getting better at my Picasso mistresses/models...this time I saw the clue and knew I should know MAAR's name. It finally did come to me.

Ulrich 1:08 PM  

@Clark: I could not have said it better myself. Let's also not forget that this is the third time the Druid priestess appears in a puzzle this month or so.

@Phillysolver: Thx--I don't have the patience of a sage, tho.

@Orange: Boy, is that ever to the point!

Bob Kerfuffle 1:21 PM  

Excellent puzzle, excellent. Biggest rush was discovering that circle/hoop and ring/zero were in symmetrically paced pairs.

Just one write-over, had ADAMN before ADARN. (Agree with above, I was thinking only Newton or Leibnitz would fit the down clue.)

Rex says he was in a rush, but as william e emba lists in passing, it is "U Nu".

Z.J. Mugildny 1:43 PM  

Almost a truly fantastic puzzle. The brutally forced NE and SE corners take it down a few notches to the "good" level, in my opinion.

Also, as a mathematician I'm with Norma D. Elkies on the Euler clue. It's not an out and out mistake, but not a great clue. Netwon and Leibniz are the known pioneers of calculus, and while Euler did some great work in calculus, he did some great work in many fields of math (the dude wrote like a 1000 papers). It seems arbitrary to single out calculus.

retired_chemist 1:43 PM  

@ Leslie - yes. "I've come to wive it wealthily in Padua" from Kiss Me Kate was the trick for 12D for me too.

mac 1:44 PM  

Smart, elegant puzzle, except for the thru/thoro crossing and the crump, all in the same little corner.

I figured the rebus out at Circle Line, but it took a while before I guessed the words would be different, and then I just put O's in all 4 corners and really enjoyed finding hula hoop!

With "teeny dress measurement" I was stumped for a while; thought of spaghetti strap. Loved the Rush job clue, but cringed at the same time. I also thought of the Frodo / ring connection. Lots of nice words and fill, like proud papas, Zeppelins and his or hers.

@Philli]ysolver: fun post.

Z.J. Mugildny 2:27 PM  

Noam D. Elkies I should have written (not Norma). My apologies.

PIX 2:35 PM  

@Clark: thanks for the opera mini-lesson...have you got anything about rivers?
@25D: the end=death. Dylan would disagree; he actually wrote a song called "Death is not the end". One of his worse ever.

A fun puzzle.

Paul 2:48 PM  

The rebus totally threw me- I guess I haven't been solving long enough. The rest of the fill came fairly quickly- and I concur with Foodie about 'neuropath'- seems misclued to me. Like others, I was a bit stymied in the NW, putting down cager.

edith b 3:03 PM  

Not having a backgound in Psychology ironically helped me today as I thought NEOROPATH was just a compound word I was unfamiliar with. Had N****PATH to begin and tacked on NEURO as an afterthought.

Like a lot of people I had a hard time in the NW but given that it was a Gorski I assumed a certain symmetry was at work. I was only vaguely familiar with the term HOOPSTER for a basketball player but used what I saw in the SE as an aid.

There was a lot I didn't like in this one but the good eventually outweighed the bad IMHO.

Donald 3:09 PM  

I have to wait until I get home from a trip to Croatia to see "Dinner Impossible." I DVRed it & can't wait.

Loved this puzzle -- I get internet in my hotel.

Bill from NJ 3:28 PM  

I watched Andrea on TV last night and was absolutely charmed. My wife really liked her accessorizing, being a scarf-and-hat person herself, and ignored all the crossword puzzle stuff.

I, on the other hand, liked both her red scarf, squashed hat AND the crossword puzzle stuff.

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

I ain't worried about missing Dinner Impossible episode -- everything on Food TV repeats ad nauseam.

Ok, I won't bring it up again.

---> Joe in NYC

ileen 4:02 PM  

0 didn't work, O didn't work, +++RING/HOOP didn't work, Ctrl+Esc didn't work. Finally H in NW & SE, R in NE & SW worked. That's way too much trouble. How hard would it be to have a line beneath the puzzle on Rebus giving instructions? Why isn't it consistent for everyone?

Rex Parker 4:07 PM  


I just used the first letter of whatever the word should have been in the Across answer. Miraculously, that worked. Try it.


Irfan 4:32 PM  

"Zelda"? come on, thats the name of the princess not the hero! "Link" is the hero in The Legend of Zelda.

I loved the theme though Awe-Inspiring was a tough one. When I started i had "Americana" as 6 across

Leon 5:39 PM  

Fantastic puzzle Ms. Gorski.

Like others, I had CAGER for one across but knew it was an air ball. HOOPSTER,that was some crossover, you had me on an iso play. I can't call A FOUL because the puzzle was too much fun.

Ruth 5:42 PM  

"Crump" is pretty commonly used in medical slang, in the past tense: "His patient crumped last night," meaning went downhill fast, had a cardiac arrest, sudden deterioration. "Looks like he might crump, so keep an eye on him." I don't think this is just idiosyncratic to where I am now--pretty sure the meaning would be clear to any hospital medicine type. Any of you other doctor types get a familiar ring from this?

PIX 5:53 PM  

@Ruth: I more or less agree with what you are saying about "crump" in "my patient crumped (severely deteriorated) last night and now he's in the ICU"...{lord knows i had more than my share of patients "crump" on me; how dare they!}...but i don't see this as having anything to do with the clue as written: " a crunching sound"...patients don't make crunching sounds unless something really weird is going on.

fikink 6:25 PM  

"My patient crumped last night," sounds uncomfortably close to "My patient croaked." I'm glad patients usually aren't privy to physicians' exchanges.

My dictionary defines crump as "a loud thudding sound." Now that you mention it, it does sound like someone "dropping dead." :)

Charles Bogle 7:01 PM  

I freely confess to only two months of experience trying the nyt puzzles. I must use google and on-line dictionary-and some translation help-to do Wed and Thurs (can't always get Thurs); Fri forget about; somehow, I was able to do the Saturday Ky Derby puzzle--the only time I've made any progress on a Saturday!

This particular puzzle shows me why so many of you derive so much pleasure from this skill and hobby. I was not savvy enough to figure out the "rebus" motif. In fact, my puzzle was empty or nonsensical in the corners.

Seeing the very clever wrap-up, I'm motivated to keep going. What a delightful, mind-teasing puzzle this was! Hat's off-

How do you know when there's a "rebus"? Any pointers? Any suggested permissible on-line guides for the "medium" puzzler?

Re some clues, agree w "crump" being fuzzy (but at least I put it down). No idea what "thoro" means, but got it too

I put JETER in the NW corner. When eventually I had to change it to OSTER, I knew I was finished, and I don't mean in the sense of having successfully completed!

jae 7:07 PM  

Very enjoyable for me too. I thought it was pretty easy once I got the rebus except for the much discussed SE corner. Had the same experience as some of you with MAAR. I knew I'd seen it but couldn't come up with it without the crosses. Fun puzzle!

humorlesstwit 7:25 PM  

@Charles Bogle - Welcome to the insanity.

The only way I know that it's a rebus is that it is Thursday (occasionally Wednesday), and that the only way the answers make any sense is if it is a rebus. Today's was particularly difficult in that the rebus was different across and down. When this occurs, I just open my mind to the possibility that it is a rebus, fill in the crosses that I can, and let my mind wander over the possible solution. I ended up with 4 blank corner squares, with the rest filled in, until it occurred to me that the across & downs didn't have to match.

Ruth 7:39 PM  

I guess I was thinking that maybe "crump" could be clued as something related to the medical slang thing, but--probably not mainstream enough.
If patients ever do anything that makes a "loud crunching sound" that is almost always bad!

chefwen 7:47 PM  

Joe in NYC you stole my post verbatim.

Andrea, I'm not a vegetarian but I could actually feel your pain while you were handeling that meat.
Great job! That was a fun show.

Stan 7:48 PM  

What a lovely puzzle!! Thanks, EG.

Got 0LINE and CROP0 before filling in a single letter, then made the jump to the 'real' theme via HULA0 and 0STER. I wonder if '0' is technically a cypher rather than a rebus...

Best episode of DI *ever* last night (and I watch the show). Like everyone said, Acme was stellar. Plus Mr. Shortz-cake and all the others.

Ulrich 7:56 PM  

@Charles Bogle: To add to HT's comments: Rebuses are also not unheard of on Sundays. Plus, certain constructors are known for their fondness of the genre--Gorski is one of them, and prominently so. So, when I saw Gorski on a Thursday, I knew the odds were better than 50-50 that it would be a rebus. Still, it took me a while to figure this one out b/c of the twist she put on it--overlaid rebus squares i.t. of across vs. down answers, NOT i.t. what I drew into the squares--circles in each corner once I caught on to it in the SE, which was the first corner I solved (I had the least of my troubles there, like fikink, I believe). But this is all decoration around HT's basic advice: If all over the place the answers you want to put in or know to be right are too long for the squares available, think REBUS!

michael 8:05 PM  

I solved this completely and liked the rebus and many other aspects of the puzzle. Still, it seemed a bit hard for a Thursday.

And -- crump? neuropath?

fergus 9:19 PM  

I thought CRUMP was quite amusing and apposite -- if you crumple something then the sound must be ...

This was a great, colorful puzzle. Though I could find the odd bland entry, all the Clues seemed fine.

This kind of reminded me of that spectacular Halloween TRICK or TREAT puzzle where the Across and DOWN rebus squares signify an alternative. This is a gimmick elevated to a very clever form of artistry. Admiration for Ms. Gorski raised even higher.


A friend and I realized that we were sitting back to back at an outdoor cafe when I had just dropped in the circles at the corners. Maybe my little aspirated AHA alerted her to turn around in recognition. After a brief explanation of the puzzle quirk, I was told that this was unfair, and that solvers ought to be warned about such shenanigans. I just left it at "Thursday is gimmick day" because I won't bother to explain these things to the uninitiated -- for reasons many of you know quite well.

andrea "peaches" michaels 9:35 PM  

Hi hi!
First, Re: Elizabeth Gorski's AMAZING "ring" cycle!!!! What elegant construction to have the corners match AND two different sets. Seriously, how did she do that?

As super clever as the rebus was, it was a nightmare for the finalists at the LA have a rebus in the final that stood for four different things was crazy.
As a last-second play-by-play commentator/sub, by the time I explained what a rebus was and how it was being used (while not wanting to give anything away for those spectators solving along with the finalists)...
they were done!

Fabulous puzzle, but not so great for a finals. It's the reason, I think, that the non-Eric, aka Jordan Chodorow got "tripped" up.

As for "Dinner Impossible", thank you, Rex, for letting us all take up space reserved for Elizabeth today.

What I'll try and do is find out where it's posted and write in and provide a link. And maybe when/if I can come down from Cloud 99999 I'll write something about it.

Let me just say, that calm and zen you saw was actually exhaustion
(4 a.m. wake up call!) and it was a ton of work and chaos and screaming (and that was just BACKSTAGE at Will! ;)
I actually have him to thank BIG TIME for everything, as he was the one who roped me into the whole thing despite my HEAVY protestations, since I don't cook, and am not interested in food.
U nu?
(Originally I was told I'd breeze by, come up with some dish ideas based on food phrases and leave...It turned out a "little" more was involved!!!)

I thought Will came off great!!!
And some great shots, tho too brief of Merl and all.

Must really, where would I have been without PuzzleGirl (who offered me a place to stay!) always the secret unsung heroine, but that's for the other write up!

And of course Rex who insisted I come to the ACPT to begin with, which is what set off the whole chain of events.

Synchronicity...Rex and Sandy are featured TWICE, wonderful coincidence considering the hundreds of folks they filmed!!!

I now wouldn't have traded the experience for ANYthing.
This has brought SO much unexpected joy into my life, what will I have to discuss with my therapist next week?!

fikink 9:37 PM  

@Charles Bogle, Ulrich is right, the SE corner was unlocked for me with CROP CIRCLE and goes to my (ongoing) point about the serendipitous element of puzzling. Some things you know to be correct by virtue of who or where you are. When that happens and you know you're correct but do not have enough spaces for your answer, think "rebus." Then it is a matter of deciding where the rebus occurs in the word and you have to play with the intersections. (That's what makes EG's twist today so cunning.)

John from CT 9:52 PM  

Nope, didn't like it. Didn't like the changing rebus, crump, somas, or much of the puzzle. It didin't click for me.

mac 10:09 PM  

@fergus: my husband, who is not a puzzler (although I think he would be fantastic at it if he got into it) always says that: it's not fair, it's nasty, they try to trick you, which is exactly what I like.

Lisa in Kingston 10:23 PM  

@mac & fergus, that nails it. It's what I like, too. Trick me, just try and trick me! I can't solve for speed (yet), but I really love the tricksy clues.

fergus 11:03 PM  

While very fond of my friend who proclaimed the unfairness, her comment went straight to the contrary heart of what I like about 'tricksy' puzzles. And what I dislike about 'helpful' explanations.

The major crossing at the middle is sufficient to imply the essence of the Clue, so why belabor it?

Yet if the editor guy finds it necessary to be so direct in pointing it out, why not say that circle symbols will occupy the corners today?

I jest exaggeratedly. But I rest my case.

kathy d. 3:49 AM  

Liked this puzzle a lot, especially the corners with the rebi (plural of rebus; is it like hippopotami?).

That was the most fun.

Elizabeth Gorski rules!

Will look out for her puzzles in the future.

Kathy D.

Pitz 10:35 AM  

As a novice NYT solver this was the first time a Thursday ever really clicked for me. I enjoyed it greatly, even though I was un-able to finish it. It was such a pleasure to read your blog today and finally be able to say, "Yes, I saw that too!"

Charles Bogle 8:25 PM  

THANK YOU commentators for the thoughtful and helpful responses to my strategy questions! Hopefully, next time there's a rebus, I'll at least be primed and pumped. And thanks for welcoming me to the gang!

AlWeiss 12:42 PM  

Isn't there some other principle of xword construction (similar to the Natik Principle) that says that you shouldn't have a section of the grid that's connected to the rest by a single letter? I, too, was slightly stumped by the NW corner and didn't have another way to get in there. After I gave that up and started in the North Dakota area, things began to fall into place.

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

I am so happy - I have at last found a magnifier which enables me to see a little more - enough to get back to crosswords. This is the first one I've tried, and I got it all without googling! I am so happy - just had to tell somebody who would understand what it is like to be cut off from a favourite pasttime.

XMAN 5:56 PM  

@Anonymous 3:22: I can see why tou're so happy! I'm happy for you!

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