Ships whose rudders don't touch water — THURSDAY, Jul. 16 2009— Destination of Saul / Container for folding scissors / Singer of Wagner aria Liebestod

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: IT ADDS UP (33D: Possible title for this puzzle) — anagrammatic equations: ELEVEN [PLUS] TWO (17A) and TWELVE [PLUS] ONE (57A) are ANAGRAMs (35A) that both total THIRTEEN (12D). The [PLUS] in both equations is entered as a rebus square (with whole word "PLUS" or "+" symbol going into a single square)

Word of the Day: TILSIT (2D: Swiss cheese)Tilsit cheese or Tilsiter cheese is a light yellow semi-hard cheese, created in the mid-19th century by Prussian-Swiss settlers, the Westphal family, from the Emmental valley. The original buildings from the cheese plant still exist in Sovetsk, Russia, formerly Tilsit on the Neman River in East Prussia. (wikipedia)

Found this one very painful to solve. When I look at a clue like 17A: 35-Across of 57-Across that equals 12-Down, my eyes glaze over and I stop caring much about the puzzle. It's one (not so great) thing to be referred all over the grid in a puzzle theme, it's another to have the resulting clue be such an inelegant, clunky, almost unreadable disaster. Is it "13" day? Couldn't this have run on some day having to do with "13?" That would have given it at least some significance, some raison d'etre. I love Gorski puzzles, usually, and I love the spirit of this one, with her typical exciting use of multiple thematic elements, e.g. the equations, the anagrams, the rebus squares. But the process of filling it all in was a huge drag, and since the underlying basis for the puzzle is just an odd coincidence of math and language ... I felt the struggle unworth it. Hate having that "so what" feeling? at the end.

My time today was nearly twice my normal Thursday time. This is partly because I gave up mentally at the clue to 17A, and partly because I made Huge errors in the NW at first. Started easily enough with A DEEP (1D: "Take _____ breath") and PITT (22A: The Big East's Panthers, for short), but then wrote in "I'M LATE" for 3D: Cry just before a rabbit appears? Did she hear the cry before she saw the White Rabbit? I couldn't remember, but that was my justification for going the "Alice in Wonderland" route. Appropriate, since it caused me to fall down a hole that I had a hard time getting back out of. Compounded problems up there by going with EONS instead of AGES (5D: So, so long). Never having heard of TILSIT, I floundered muchly.

Non-theme fill was trouble throughout. Not one of the more smoothly filled grids I've seen from Ms. Gorski. Heavier on the crosswordese and abbrevs. than I would have expected (I tripped on CWTS, 54D: 100-lb. units, entering KWTS, which gave me the almost correct-looking DAMASKUS at 53A: Destination of Saul when he had his conversion, in the Bible). Many opportunities for me to screw up: OAST for OVEN (23D: Brickmaking need) and CASELOAD for CASEFILE (11D: Detective's work record) were among the more notable stumbles. I think my favorite thing about his puzzle is the answer "B + AVERAGE. Great use of the rebus square in a long, uncommon answer. Otherwise, fill is kind of blah and theme, while technically impressive, was not much pleasure to work out.


  • 7A: Commercial prefix with vision (Uni-) — no idea what this is. Had this experience a few times today, most notably with ...
  • 29A: French novelist Robert _____, upon whose work the 1973 thriller "The Day of the Dolphin" is based (Merle) — Thanks. That 1973 thriller I've never heard of really helps. MERLE Haggard would be rolling in his grave if he were dead. Norman and Oberon too.

  • 14A: Ships whose rudders don't touch water (dirigibles) — OK, that's good fill. No idea they had "rudders."
  • 19A: Bobsled challenges (esses) — embarrassingly long time spent figuring out what E-word this could possibly be.
  • 39A: Container for folding scissors (etui) — speaking of E-words, this one is spearheading the crosswordese revival today. ASTI, APSE, and ELEA want their pensions! Clue on APSE, 61A: Half-dome construction, was a toughie. Had me thinking of Yosemite.
  • 8D: Red-spotted _____ (newt) — wanted TIT. Considered trying TEAT.
  • 9D: Singer of the Wagner aria "Liebestod" (Isolde) — a common enough crossword name, but I still needed many crosses to get it.
  • 36D: Britain's Royal _____ Club, for plane enthusiasts (Aero) — lot of this hard clue dress-up going on with the common fill today, which is at least more interesting than run-of-the-mill clues, e.g. [Plane prefix].
  • 46D: Puzzled (non [PLUS] ed) — got it quickly — the whole SE was oddly easy compared to the rest of the grid — but really thought there was another "S" in there. NONPLUSSED? No, that looks wrong too. No wonder I don't use this word.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


John 8:06 AM  

Started the puzzle and thought, "This puzzle's difficulty level is for a day of the week we dont have yet!"

All in all, took about an hour. A slow but steady solve. Can Saturday's puzzle be any harder? Well see!

Morgan 8:28 AM  

I thought it was hard, but not nearly as much so as others, apparently. Took me 19 minutes as compared to my usual 12-15 for Thursday.

I also thought the theme was really cool! As a "numbers" guy, I didn't even know that eleven plus two was an anagram of twelve plus one. Sorta neat! Some of the fill was tough, though, esp. TILSIT and TOHAVE. But I adored the clue for SPELT!

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

.. guess I'm feelin' extra smart today..
Whizzed right through this.
Great puzzle.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

So glad Rex found this one challenging. I managed to get through it without cheating (a first for a Thursday puzzle), so I think I'll attempt Friday's puzzle!

Eric 8:30 AM  

For some reason I liked this puzzle. Usually don't pay attention to the theme during fill but did on this one and it paid off. Big issues was getting red of Red Spotted Deer and switching to Newt then all ok again.
Finished in better than usual Thursday time in about 20 minutes on paper but then I'm not that consistent as it seems to depend on my level of brain activity sometimes and not the puzzle itself.

treedweller 8:34 AM  

I'm with Rex--the rabbit hole of self-referential clues almost lost me completely. PLUS, 3.3 at my school was a B-minus (3.7 or 3.9 would have been B+). PLUS, I thought the two PLUS clues were supposed to be anagrams of THIRTEEN, so until I had it almost completely filled from crosses, I had no theme answers. PLUS I had to google ELEA (again). Twice my normal Thursday time.

I did enjoy DIRIGIBLES. I kept trying to figure out how a boat could steer without the rudder touching the water, and thought a lot about those boats that sort of float above the water (not hovercraft, which might have been a good/bad answer if I'd thought of it, but those really fast ones whose name I don't know). I chuckled when I finally saw the correct answer.

A grudging respect for this one, but not much love, I'm afraid. But kudos to the crosschix for their dominance over the puzzle this week!

SusanMontauk 8:37 AM  

So maybe this puzzle was for those of us over 50 or something. I thought it was easy even though I, too, glazed over at the cross referring clues. Yes, I had eleven (blank) two for awhile, but I just kept going and figured it out at the end. The middle was the last to fall because of B+AVERAGE. I usually struggle more than most of you. I think maybe this was a good one for me because it lacked popular culture fill. Don't ask me about the Simpsons, but I had some tilsit just yesterday. And I usually dislike clever puzzles, but this one had me thinking in several different directions, which I like, and being directed to a quirky arithmetic/English language trick. She was clever, but so was I.

I know there are times when I can hardly do a Saturday puzzle and Rex and my husband and many of you out there breeze through, and occasionally vice versa. Sometimes it just feels like catching the same wave length as the creator. Determining the level seems very tricky stuff.

ileen 8:41 AM  

Fell asleep before I could finish last night, so my time is ridiculous. However I can help Rex in that Univision is the most popular Spanish language television network in the US. It may even be seen in some Spanish speaking countries as well-not sure about that one.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 8:45 AM  

After I got 35-Across, I was concerned for a moment that La Liz had violated one of my Ten Bullshit themes ( I guess she just barely squeezed by. But I'm a hafta agree it seemed too-eager-too-please, especially when La Liz doesn't hafta do that.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

@ArtLvr re. yesterday's puzzle..

A "Vang" is a device used in sailboat rigging, be it line/blocks or hydraulic piston, that serves to apply downward pressure on the "boom" (the horizontal spar that holds the "foot" of a mainsail), the purpose of which to control the shape of the sail.

Sorry, it's just so rare that I know a word that others may not... I had to share.

.. glad to see you clued in this puzzle today..

JannieB 9:00 AM  

I really liked this puzzle, mainly because I solved the math part. I don't usually like the clues that refer to other clues either, but I felt very smug once I caught onto to the anarebus/rebagram (ACME???) idea.

I knew dirigible, but wanted to spell it with an E. Telsit looked okay to me. Also tried deer at 8D - never seen a newt, doubt I could count its spots!

Challlenging but fun for me.

Denise 9:07 AM  

When I got to non-+-ed, I figured the whole thing out, but I could not enter the + in the grid.

I still would have been wrong, because I had B- (tough grader!).

Dirigible was a fun AHA, and I got many crosses very easily.

Is Univision the Spanish channel?

joho 9:11 AM  

I love Elizabeth Gorski puzzles and that includes this one.

I'm mathematically challenged so was very proud of getting ELEVEN+TWO and TWELVE+ONE as ANAGRAMs for THIRTEEN. I'm always up for a rebus.

Thanks, Ms. G!

joho 9:12 AM  

Oh, and also loved the shout out to ARTLOVER.

PlantieBea 9:13 AM  

I had an easier time with today's puzzle. Got ANAGRAM quickly and then stopped to wonder who actually stops to think about TWELVE + ONE and its mate being anagrams. This puzzle should have been placed on a Friday the 13th with some bumped up cluing to honor the THIRTEEN, I think. Favorite rebus answer was NON+ED.

Two writeovers easily fixed were--AT SEA LEVEL and DIRIGIBLES which I spelled with an A.

@ REX: Thanks for the TILSIT explanation (new for me) and Jefferson Airplane. The Hemmingway corner was my last to fall. I currently have A Moveable Feast on the to read stack and could only come up with The Old (Man and the Sea) or A Farewell (to Arms), neither of which fit.

Thanks Ms. Gorski for this enjoyable puzzle.

toothdoc 9:14 AM  

@Denise - Yes, Univision is a spanish language channel.

I had the same eyes-glazed over trouble with the 17A clue but felt a definite sense of accomplishment when I finished the puzzle in my normal Thursday time (20 minutes or so, split between patients). It helps that I'm still thrilled when I figure out that its a Rebus. Ah the joys of crossword naivete.

Sara 9:19 AM  

Glad I didn't go to treedweller's school.

Usually I don't like clues that refer to other clues, but this time I had fun. Loved the whole process (long time -hard work).

Orange 9:23 AM  

Yo, Rex, you need to do some training on heavily cross-referenced puzzles that alienate you. You just know one of them is gonna be served up at the ACPT, don't you? Maybe try some daily affirmations that you are stronger than any set of cross-referenced clues.

Over at my blog, Crosscan coined a new term. There was a clue in another puzzle that began to give specific info and then acknowledged, in a breaking-the-fourth-wall way, that we don't know a damn thing about that particular category (Norwegian kings, in this case) so why bother getting specific? Crosscan said we should call those OLAFs from now on. That MERLE clue is a classic Olaf.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

agree with Rex, I hate puzzles with the cross-referenced clues. They aren't really clues at all. I mean can one make any sort of guess to 17A with out any letters in the grid? These should go into the no no rules of construction. Did finish after that aha moment at 12 plus one. Golfballman

pednsg 9:29 AM  

I LOVE EG puzzles, and I thought this one was fabulous - genius. I would LOVE to hear some of her constructor thinking like we had the opportunity to hear yesterday.

Jannie B and I had had similar issues - I thought dirigibles had a "u," and TULSIT looked as good as any cheese I'd not heard of! Like yesterday, I finished my first run-through with way more blanks than letters, and then realized EG + Thursday = rebus. The + in non+ed came to me during a commercial in the Daily Show, and from then on it went fairly quickly.

I was so hoping that Rex would link the video (shown on the Daily Show many times over the last few years) of Sen. Ted Stevens talking about the internet being a series of tubes, for 23A. Classic!

The memory of my mom's folding scissors brought a huge smile to my face...

eze666 9:32 AM  

Anyone else hung up on the Hemingway title? The "addition" theme wasn't too tough, but what novel or story are they referring to with "To Have..."? I had "The Sun.." and "The Old.."...

dk 9:40 AM  

What @treedweller said.

Happy to see ARTLOVER in the fill instead of the NON+ED Rex :):).

B+Average was my first fill, my GPA was 3.5 thanks to French 1... I am over it now, LIVETH dk who graduated college in 1972.

YIN, OVA, I tell you the crosschix are trying to take over. Next they will want Supreme Court justices who are empathetic.

GAVEL down and off I go.

Dough 9:40 AM  

I loved the puzzle. The cross-referencing forces a completely different approach, looking for openings until you get what's going on. I solved for years on paper, but now solve with the java thing online. So, how to enter the "plus" sign? I used the ampersand, which works, but is "incorrect." I wish there were a universal key (asterisk perhaps) that you use to enter the odd-ball squares on rebus puzzles. Maybe there is and I just haven't learned about it yet?

Retired_Chemist 9:53 AM  

Enjoyable. Put me in the like-it camp.First entry was 14A DIRIGIBLES. Then several others in the NW, and it fell. Recognized the rebus from the arithmetic implication in the clue and the almost complete ELEVEN__WO; blanks HAD to be +T and I was off to the races.

Off to the dog show now -

Kurt 9:55 AM  

It's really interesting to read these comments. About half of us hated the puzzle and the cross-referencing. The other half loved the puzzle and the cross-referencing. I can't remember such a binary split among this group.

Put me down in the "Loved It" column.

And the Orange/Crosscan suggestion about OLAFs is a keeper. MERLE was definitely an Olaf.

chefbea 9:55 AM  

What a great puzzle. Got anagram right away and then had a though time figuring out the anagrams.

I believe there is a shout out to Foodie also.

I do make lots of pies but don't do the lattice top very often - too time consuming.

Howard B 9:59 AM  

Respectfully disagree with Rex today, as I enjoyed the heck out of the anagram (although I agree the cross-reference was difficult to parse and a bit intimidating at first). Not a cheese fan in general, TILSIT even less so. Loved the rebus angle, and the nasty cluing threw me as well. I didn't even notice the extra 'IT ADDS UP' theme connection until the end. The anagram is a great little language quirk though.

I usually store a cross-reference clue in the back of my head while I solve, until I stumble across the other half later on, then I fill in the blanks - that didn't help as much in this case.

Ulrich 10:01 AM  

Count me among those who loved the puzle--expected a rebus, then gave up b/c it seemed to fill itself w/o it, only to reappear later. But then I'm generally intrigued by self-referential stuff...

Was furious tho at EG for the Tilsit clue b/c I know that Tilsit is not in Switzerland--thx Rex for ferreting this one out.

Filled in TO HAVE after a minute's thought b/c the respective movie was the occasion when I fell madly in love with the young Lauren Bacall.

archaeoprof 10:04 AM  

Two writeovers for me today: ATPLAY over "at ease", and OSIS over "itis." The rest of it came slowly, but steadily. The clues for SPELT and COSTAS made me smile.

In DC this week, and I'm going to visit Ford's Theater this afternoon. Yesterday's NYT had a positive review of the new museum there.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

"To Have and Have Not"

Dough 10:11 AM  

To @Orange, I love the idea of calling them OLAFs. I'm in favor of them! I like to learn something about what I know nothing about. Because, as we all know, each word has OLAF of its own! The alternative is to return to old Maleska days where this dead fish of a clue sits there, you fill in some rancid letters, and nothing is gained. He, doubtless, envisioned us all running off to our unabridged dictionary to figure out what the whole mess was about.

Noam D. Elkies 10:12 AM  

Darn, I missed this one, ironically by attending a math conference. Looks like a neat puzzle, even if the anagram is well-known. (NB there are many other such anagrams, but only trivialities like 4+16=6+14 and trivial variations like 111+2=112+1.)

As for cross-referencing — as I noted already, it's supposed to be a puzzle. That's what makes it fun. It's already common in crosswords that we can't fill out one part until another gives us a crucial inroads. We're also familiar with boring examples of circular cross-referencing like cluing each of YIN and YANG as the other's opposite. Today's puzzle is a more interesting logical tangle to unwind. As long as all the pieces fit together at the end (pardon the mixed metaphor), I don't see why there should be a problem.

—NDE (in MFO <>)

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

This puzzle is completely awesome. Cross-referencing between clues is just another technique for creative, tricky construction, and I welcome it.

I got "TILSIT" from the "TI...." as a result of having memorizied Monty Python's "Cheese Shop" skit as a child. Very cool!

alanrichard 10:23 AM  

I love anagrams. Brings back old days as a kid doing the jumble and when there was a New York Telegram and they had a long word that you had to make as many 4 or more letter words from.
This was challenging. I got the middle right away and just built out from there. And the new word for the day for me was TILSIT - thank goodness for contextural analysis - and thank Rex for explaining what TILSIT is.

Crosscan 10:36 AM  

Am I late to my own party? Yes, MERLE is an OLAF, but you know that already. Hang on, editing my comment to remove other repetitive remarks...

I learned today that I do know how to spell DIRIGIBLES, although I didn't know TILSIT again. I also learned that ELEVEN + TWO is an ANAGRAM for TWELVE + ONE. I have not learned where I can use that information. Perhaps at my niece's Bat Mitzvah.

"As you turn ELEVEN + TWO, say did you know ELEVEN + TWO is an ANAGRAM for TWELVE + ONE?" I'll be the life of the party.

Crosscan, who has black-rimmed glasses that took a week to arrive despite being purchased at Visions 1Hour Optical.

Norm 10:36 AM  

Wonderful puzzle. Wanted DIRIGIBLES to be CATAMARANS or HOVERCRAFT. Thought that ANAGRAM would be PERCENT. A great new clue for ETUI (although I keep my folding scissors in my Dopp kit). I tend to share Rex's dislike for puzzles of this ilk where one clue refers to another and neither gives you any hint of what is going on, but I ended getting a real kick out of this one. The combination of math, anagrams and rebus was brilliant.

ArtLvr 10:39 AM  

Thanks to all for celebrating the ARTLOVER at 20A -- It changed my feelings about our latest Xchix puzzle! I'm Doyenne for a Day rather than QUEEN.

Initially I thought this was going to be another "Cosine of 2 pi" conundrum, but luckily not... Like Rex, I mostly dislike chasing down Rabbitholes (i.e.cross-referencing clues) but these were especially link-worthy. I also wanted NONplusED to have a double S... Was anyone else tempted to try ICE fog?

On balance, better than a B+ bonus Thursday!


Susan 10:41 AM  

It was a fast solve for me, but my time doesn't show it because, as usual, I had trouble making it take the extra letters. Am I the only one who struggles with this? I spent about 5 minutes of my 22 on that! (I know, I could have just put P but I don't like the way it looks and I also spent a certain amount of time trying with no success to make it do the + sign as opposed to writing plus.)

ArtLvr 10:42 AM  

p.s. Anon at 8:56 -- I'm glad you elaborated on the Vang! Now they tell me a new sail is required, as the the old one is no better than a bed sheet! Sheesh.


Ruth 10:46 AM  

I'm with COIXT--Monty Python and the cheese shop sketch took me immediately to Tilsit, even though I'd 'a thought Tilsit was in England.

Free Lunch 10:47 AM  

If this puzzle wasn't cross-referenced, I never would have been able to finish it. This helpful aspect is part of the charm of a cross-referenced puzzle, so I wouldn't be so quick to pooh-pooh the genre wholesale.

I really liked how disguised the rebus squares were. (Just two!) I had 2/3 of the puzzle filled before I even suspected it. Usually if you finish a corner without one (I'd filled the NE and SW pretty quickly), you can safely assume there won't be a rebus.

Sadly, I misspelled "dirigibles" and invented a new kind of cheese. Doh!

ArtLvr 10:51 AM  

@ Susan -- for a rebus square, on a Mac, hit the Control key along with Escape, type in your letters, then hit Return.


XMAN 10:51 AM  

Just want to say I love this puzzle. And...


Susan 10:52 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
foodie 10:53 AM  

What NDE said re the definition of puzzles. To my mind they're meant to be knotty, and this one is, almost literally, with a center (ANAGRAM) and looping elements coming together-- the 3 forms of THIRTEEN. I admired it greatly.

And my hometown was in the puzzle!!! Thanks ChefBea for noticing. DAMASCUS, the longest continually inhabited city in the world! I really didn't appreciate it until I left it and then returned with an American husband and later American kids and realized how much there was to show them. In spite of political tensions, people love Americans and feed them plenty : )

Susan 10:55 AM  

Oh, btw, I have a PhD in French lit. and have NEVER heard of 29A Monsieur Merle. At least I've sort of heard of Kings called Olaf.

And Univision is completely awesome. It was our main source of entertainment the summer we lived in South Texas with no cable. "Sabado Gigante Internacional!"

Thanks, ArtLvr. I use a PC and what's weird is, I follow the directions and it doesn't work consistently. Like I got the first one in no problem (once I relocated the directions on the FAQ page) and then tried literally 20 times before getting the second one in. It might be because of the Euro setting on my keyboard, which messes other stuff up.

johnpag 11:00 AM  

Finished, and still didn't get the idea of twelve+one and eleven_two being anagrams, thinking anagrams have to do with words, not numbers. Checked the Wikipedia entry for "anagram" and guess what, it's used as an example. NOW I see it.

BTW, I taught in college for 30 years. 3.3 is a B-, maybe a B. No way it's a B+

Tim 11:05 AM  

Would have liked the puzzle, but the anagram is old, very old, methinks it has appeared on Jeopardy as well. Yes, I appreciate the thirteen and the itaddsup, but still meh! I am with REX and BEQ on this one.

Rex Parker 11:08 AM  

I teach college now. If a B is 3.0 (which it is, just as A is 4.0, C is 2.0, etc.), then there is no way in hell that 3.3 is *less* than a B.

Where are you people teaching/studying that a B does not equal "3.0?"

fikink 11:09 AM  

Loved this puzzle. It is right up there with the Manny Nosowski Thursday from a few months ago.
And like Joon's yesterday, I "wove" this puzzle. Love it when that happens.
Working at Hickory Farms of Ohio when in high school gave me TILSIT today.
The cross-referencing must play havoc with speed-solvers.
@pednsg, agree the Ted Stevens clip would have been fabulous.
@chef bea, yes DAMASCUS to Foodie and ARTLOVER - EG must read here.
@ulrich, the movie also gave me TOHAVE just because of Lauren Bacall's famous line in that movie ;)
@Norm, I would love to watch you sail!
@artlover, I hear you about the sailors' "needs" list!

Thanks Ms. Gorski, thought your puzzle was BOFFO

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

@Rex - In some places, 4 is the new 3. How else are kids going to be able to brag about their 3.9 averages?

I too don't like self referential puzzles, they just make my eyes glaze over. I didn't like this puzzle, even though I admired it in may ways. I'm entitled not to like it, and to say so. I'll spare one and all the complete list of things that I simply don't like about which I have informed opinions, each of which are widely and highly esteemed among others.

ChemProf 11:31 AM  


+1 on current college profs that understand 3.3 is a B+ :)

edith b 12:08 PM  

The theme did me no good today as I fundamentally misconstrued what ANAGRAM referred to and, once I figured out it was a rebus, couldn't parse NONPLUSSED. Is NONPLUSED an alternate spelling? I don't think it is but I didn't dig too deeply to confirm (or deny) that fact.

I used my knowledge of Ms. Gorski to figure out it was, in fact, a rebus. There is often something special - or precious - about a Gorski puzzle but I gave up thinking about what it was and went ahead and solved the thing.

Thank God for Rex and Orange as, in the past when this happened, I either had to write a letter to the Times (often with no answer) or just live with the fact that I didn't understand what was happening.

I did like the relative obscurity of the Hemmingway title, though.

Pinky 12:16 PM  

As with most puzzles, getting one or two lucky guesses helps the rest of the puzzle fall quicker

I had a few of those today.

But I guessed TILSIN for TILSIT giving me NO HAVE for the Hemmingway title. Who knew?

Daniel Myers 12:18 PM  

Count me in the "adored this puzzle" camp---EXCEPT

@Rex--Anent NONPLUSSED: As far as I am concerned, your first instinct was correct. It should be spelled with two ESSES. I've always done so, and the OED backs me up with every modern citation of the verb in the past tense. Perhaps the American spelling is different - A la cancelled vs. canceled etc.

Mike 12:24 PM  

I lost a little time with the rebus. I use the iPhone app and while it let me put "+" in, it didn't accept it when checking. I had to change it to "plus" to get it to work. And I had to hit google twice, so not a total success for me, but I liked the theme answers.

Geek 12:29 PM  

Yay! Finished what I thought to be a difficult puzzle in a decent time with no Googles (OK, I'll admit that once I was done I checked to see if MERLE really was an author). I'm in the group that doesn't like cross-referential clues, especially three of them linked together. However, I loved the puzzle and was amused by the rebus squares (rebi?). Liked the cross of OVA and OVEN (got to get the bun to the oven somehow). I always thought the word was spelled nonplussed, but I see that M-W says NONPLUSED is an acceptable alternate. Caused me to pause, but I went with it anyway. And doesn't ORINGS always make you think of the Challenger Shuttle disaster? So sad. In spite of that - Thanks Ms. Gorski for a fun puzzle!!

SethG 12:32 PM  

I liked it, it was faster than my average Thursday, yadda. I did almost decide on TILSIN like Pinky did, but I changed it at the very end like Pinky didn't.

Add NEWT to your Monty Python references.

Incidentally, Aug 13 will be a Thursday, so Rex's idea would have worked. Though I assume that day will be used for a boy puzzle with a "Steelers v Cardinals preseason game" theme.

Daniel Myers 12:39 PM  

@Geek--Rebuses is the correct English plural. It's a very rum word, etymologically. In Latin, it's already the Ablative plural of "res" thing.---Blast! I'm beginning to remind myself of my old schoolmaster, not a good thing in any sense.

Karen from the Cape 12:55 PM  

I enjoyed the math puzzle. I didn't get the cross-references at first, but it gradually revealed itself to me.

I didn't know CWTS. Looking it up, it is a centum weight and is related to the short/long ton units, being either 112, 108 or 100 pounds. I agree with Orange's blog that you probably don't pluralize the abbreviation, just like you don't pluralize multiple cm or kg. I wanted to put down CWMS since that's the only CW word I know.

I was watching the Telefutura channel last night, a subsidiary of UNIvision, to see my team the Revolution lose the semifinal game of the Superliga. Most of the commentary goes over my head, but I love how the announcers yell Goooool!

Clark 12:58 PM  

I am in the loved-it camp. A clue like 17A does knock be back for a minute. But I pick myself up and say Bring it on. If the puzzle can make 17A make sense to me in the end, then I am for it. And "ANAGRAM of TWELVE+ONE that equals THIRTEEN" works just fine for me. To each her own on this one.

Campesite 1:13 PM  

I had one extreme gimme: I work at Univision!
Somehow an easy puzzle for me for a Thursday.

Shamik 1:34 PM  

Medium-challenging for me at 11:41 for a Thursday. Kind of liked this puzzle even though it's just better to ignore the theme until it's almost all over.

Love the idea of OLAF's. To clarify for myself, is that when the Polynesian food fish crosses with the Togo monetary unit?

BEQ and Rex need to be curmudgeons. It's part of their charm. Or are they too young to be curmudgeons and instead fall in the acerbic category? I, for one, like the idea of young men being curmudgeonly.

Happy to be working. Happy to be awake. Happy to be commenting.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:36 PM  

Another lover of self-referential puzzles here. Even though I went through a short stage of thinking I would never finish this one, it all fell into place when I finally grasped the significance of the blank space between TWELVE and ONE in 57 A.

Like PlantieB, I had ATSEALEVEL before ATEYELEVEL. Also had OLDEST before ELDEST. And poor 10 A went from RETS (returns?) to ESTS (estimates?) before settling on PCTS!

still_learnin 1:37 PM  

I had a hard time with this one. I find myself straddling the fence as to whether I love/hate the puzzle. Given my skill level it's hard for me to hate any puzzle I can finish. :-)

I especially liked the cluing for BIC [Signature piece?].

Bob Kerfuffle 1:38 PM  

Sorry, meant "PlantieBea".

Crosscan 1:44 PM  

Here's an example of an OLAF:

(3 letters)Baseball great Mel who scored 1,859 runs.

The "who scored 1,859 runs" makes it an OLAF because it is information that no one will actually use to solve the clue. If you don't get it from Baseball great Mel, the rest won't help you, as the subset of people knowing the second part and not the first part is near zero.

Glitch 1:47 PM  

Not generally a fan of cross-referencing clues as they are IMO mostly an *easy out* for the constructor.

However, today they WERE the theme, every bit as much as drawing a boat --- so *ok this time* :-)

Googled the Hemmingway title after the fact to check I had it correct and found:

*To Have and Have Not* also holds a dubious place in Hemingway's canon, as it constitutes clearly his worst novel. Indeed, referring to the book as a "novel" is problematic, since it actually consists of two short stories and a novella loosely linked

On a fishing trip in 1939, director Howard Hawks told Hemingway:

"Ernest, you're a damn fool. You need money, you know. You can't do all the things you'd like to do. If I make three dollars in a picture, you get one of them. I can make a picture out of your worst story."

"What's my worst story?"

"That god damned bunch of junk called To Have and To Have Not [sic.]."

"You can't make anything out of that."

"Yes I can. You've got the character of Harry Morgan; I think I can give you the wife. All you have to do is make a story about how they met".


Shamik 1:51 PM  

Thanks, Crosscan. So I guess it's just a plain old Natick when the food fish and the monetary unit cross.

Daniel Myers 1:55 PM  

Speaking of Hemingway, he was recently outed as a former (rather ineffective) KGB agent - code name ARGO. It's all over the British press. But I haven't heard a peep in America. Here's a quiz the Guardian dreamed up based on the writer/spy theme after the outing, for those interested:

Paul 2:09 PM  

I loved this puzzle- if only for the fact that it is my first solved rebus puzzle. I agree the theme was a bit tortured, and it took me quite some time to get going, but I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I finished it- even did a little dance.

poc 3:19 PM  

I agree about NONPLUS(S)ED. It should have two S'es.

Re plurals, I don't know about rebus(es) but amaze your friends with this one: what is the correct (Latinate) plural of virus? It turns out there isn't one. It's one of a small number of Latin nouns (vulgus -- the crowd, mob, common people -- is another) that has no plural form. A nice irony is that software likewise has no plural in English.

This was a good Thursday puzzle, but I can't say I'd rate it as Challenging.

treedweller 3:21 PM  

Maybe I just don't understand the whole +- grading system like I thought. I started with the 100 scale. 90-100 was an A. If you break that down, in my mind, 95 is an A, 90-94 is an A-, and 96-100 is an A+.

AHA--I'm just getting the next step now. If 4 is as high as it goes, that has to be A+, then 3.9 to 3.? is A-, and so on. I guess by the time I was getting my GPA in a 4-point scale, I really didn't care much about the pluses and minuses anymore. Frankly, by the time I got to my senior year, I didn't care all that much about the threes and fours, either.

So I was wrong, but that's still why I struggled in the top half of the puzzle.

Two Ponies 3:24 PM  

I started out this one like Rex with a fair amount of eye-rolling and muttering (if I wanted to do a math puzzle I'd do ken ken.)
However, as I worked through it my feelings got warmer and I ended up adoring it. Kudos to Ms. Gorski.
Dirigibles started in my mind as hydrofoil.
I like the new "Olaf"!

johnpag 3:41 PM  

I stand corrected. I always graded on a percent basis until the end of the year, when the percent had to be turned into a letter grade. That letter grade was turned into a 0-4 grade to compute the GPA and a B+ was factored in as 3.3.

Glitch 3:43 PM  


In my school's GPA scale, the top was 4.0, which is equvalent to an A.

The A+ did not exist.

(Actually, even an A was a theoretical concept to me).

As far as your 100 point scale, if "passing" is the traditional 65 (D-), it breaks down rather nicely if you make the top A, not A+ (5 point steps).


Anonymous 3:48 PM  

The NY Times crossword app for iPhone handles rebuses swimmingly.

But I still think they stink! We need some kind of indication in the clue, like when it's wordplay, etc

ChemProf 3:51 PM  

Not to pummel a suspiciously inactive horse, but the most common scale (or at least the one we use) goes:
A+ 4.0 A 4.0 A- 3.67
B+ 3.33 B 3.0 B- 2.67
C+ 2.33 B 2.0 C- 1.67
D 1.0
F 0.0

So the A+ folks get gypped (the grade exists but doesn't count for anything beyond an A), though one has a hard time mustering sympathy. :)

We just recently did away with D+ / D-, which might be uncommon (they used to work like the rest).

Ulrich 3:54 PM  

@fikink: And yes, I could whistle ever since.

@Crosscan: I like the term. But this type of clue has its uses--I always took it as the life-saver handed out by a constructor to those who are hopelessly lost: Mr. Google will reward you with an unambiguous answer if you use the clue in its glorious specificity in your search (didn't try Mel of the 1,859 runs, though, b/c I had all the crosses I needed)

foodie 3:59 PM  

@Shamik, since Damascus is in the puzzle, I wanted to mention that the other name for the city is Cham or Sham and someone who hails form it is Shami... So, I always think of you as somehow related to me with a little extra piece... may be in an Olaf sort of way.

So, is there an equivalent of curmudgeonly for women? Having the freedom to be curmudgeon-like is one of the things I'm looking forward to in my old(er) age.

Daniel Myers 4:03 PM  

@foodie--In England, FRUMPISH is a rough feminine equivalent to CURMUDGEONLY

Crosscan 4:07 PM  

@Ulrich - point taken. It may be that OLAF is the anti-NATICK:

The OLAF Principle. If you include a proper noun in your grid that you reasonably expect more than 3/4 of the solving public to have heard of, you need not include additional information that will not increase the potential number of solvers.

JannieB 4:15 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JannieB 4:17 PM  

@Daniel Myers - on this side of the ocean frumpish connotes a dowdiness of appearance, not an aspect of personality.

Daniel Myers 4:36 PM  

@JannieB - Yes, that dowdiness is connoted on yonder side of pond as well, but in combination with a sense of a cross-tempered person.

The only alternative that comes to mind offhand is SHREWISH, but that's even futher off the mark, methinks, containing no sense of the endearing.

Ah well, there's always the quaint CROSSPATCH. I take it you're familiar with the nursery rhyme.

miriam b 4:40 PM  

I'm completely blown away (though not NON+(S)SED by the fact that the words ELEVEN TWO anagram to TWELVE ONE, in addition to the numbers 11 and 2 anagramming (is this a word?) to 12 and 1.

You're a credit to our alma mater, Ms. G.

fikink 4:48 PM  

@Daniel, WHOA! I fail to see the female equivalent of curmudgeon being frumpish. A curmudgeon is more an ill-tempered sort than one who is dowdy. Do Brits use the word in such stark contrast to us? I think cantankerous is more near the mark over here.

Daniel Myers 4:49 PM  

@miriam b - Anagram, though rare, is indeed a verb as well as a noun.

Citation from OED in 1670--"To anagram my art into a vermine (i.e., art into rat)."

The more familar form is "anagrammatize".

Daniel Myers 4:56 PM  

@fikink -LOL-Becalm thyself! - First definition of FRUMPISH in OED - "Disposed to mock or flout; jesting, sneering; also, cross, ill-tempered"

chefbea 4:59 PM  

@Daniel Myers - I like that word - anagrammatize -
Sound like something Roseann Rosanna Danna would say

fergus 5:06 PM  

First time ever I've been so completely at odds with Rex for two days running. On the Relative Ratings, I mean. Other than adjusting the + sign for PLUS to make the ANAGRAM work, this floated along ... like a DIRIGIBLE (whose proper spelling I owe to Kiki's Big Adventure).

But I didn't really care much for the puzzle. Surprised, half-way through, when I checked the constructor -- her stuff is usually much more graceful. But especially with respect to my unusual recent lack of concordance with Rex, puzzle aesthetics seem more subjective.

Lon 5:18 PM  

Maybe it's because I'm math-y as well as word-y, but really enjoyed the arithmetic clues. But I picked up on the "B+AVERAGE" pretty early and cruised through from there.

Sara 5:21 PM  

horse still not dead yet

95-100: 4.0
90-94: 3.5
84-89: 3.0
80-84: 2.5


Anonymous 5:22 PM  

Loved this puzzle! Thanks Elizabeth!

Anne 5:25 PM  

I am definitely late to the party and I was glad to see Rex thought it was challenging as it took me far longer than usual to finish. My eyes also glaze over when I see a theme like this and I try to work around it as long as possible. In spite of that, I liked it and felt good when I finished.

Rex Parker 5:26 PM  


The horse is dead. Those numbers are anomalous at best. GPA convention is 1.0 D, 2.0 C, 3.0 B, 4.0 A. There is no disputing this.

Any other system is some kind of modern modified baloney with no cred beyond wherever it's being used.


imsdave 5:33 PM  

I loved this puzzle - a good tough Thursday - multiple easy themes add up to a great theme.

@Ulrich - ditto on Bacall

No great insights - just wanted you all to know I was still alive (barely)

fergus 6:24 PM  

For a while, I've been meaning to comment on the diction of Mr. Daniel Myers. All the slangy terms and interjections (Blast!) appear so dated to me, like they came right out of my (British) parents' generation. Even when I lived in England for several years in the late 1980s, the terms he often uses would have seemed to be throw-backs. The youthful appearance in his avatar (?) makes me wonder whether there's been some hip revival of bygone colloquial speech?

Rex Parker 6:37 PM  

Dear god please let that conversation happen somewhere else.

Perhaps this is a good time to revisit the "three and out" rule.


Two Ponies 6:46 PM  

Rex, I second the motion.
Besides, on the day of such an interesting puzzle, whether you loved it or not, we could be chatting about that and not GPA's and synonyms for grumpy old men.

treedweller 6:57 PM  

And DIRIGIBLES. Please. let's don't forget the dirigibles.

Anonymous 7:15 PM  

Does anyone know British slang for

joho 7:34 PM  

To me the sign of a really interesting, strong, fresh puzzle is over 100 comments on this blog ... and it's only 7:30. So ... I call this puzzle a winner!

Glitch 7:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 7:39 PM  

@rex I third the motion

Glitch 7:41 PM  


Too bad the 100 or so commments generated by the puzzle weren't all about the puzzle.

Interesting the turn the blog takes some days, not always for the best.

Anyhow, found the puzzle today had a pretty good beat and was easy to dance to --- I give it an 88 ;-)

.../Glitch (3.0 and out)

PIX 7:47 PM  

This puzzle was fantastic. As for my time: it took me one train ride into Manhattan (minus time for a nap) and half the ride home. Perfect for a Thursday. Thank you Ms. Gorski for making the train ride great fun.

fergus 8:24 PM  

So, in my third post I might point out that curiosity about expression and language variations among countries separated by a common language is quite germane to the ongoing discussion we have here.

Even if what I said may be construed as a sly wind-up, my question to DM was essentially about current usage. Whether there's irony, sarcasm or some atavism involved? How those of us, when flummoxed by a Clue/ANSWER combination, might be enlightened by a further shade of meaning?

The puzzle employs many stretches of language -- and just as I would ask Mac about Dutch, Ulrich of German, and now Susan of French, I want to inquire about English English from the current most ready source in our sphere.

mac 8:47 PM  

I'm just devastated; I posted this brilliant, sparkling comment just after JannieB at 4.something, and it seems to have disappeared. I'm not sure I still understand my scribbles and notes...

I liked the puzzle, and it was a medium to me. Don't usually like self-referenced puzzles, but these were a little puzzle on their own.
We haven't had a rebus in quite a while, and I enjoyed that part of it, but I don't think I've ever done one with only 2 rebus squares.

I got the Tilsit, but it's a pretty esoteric and not originally Swiss cheese; the best-known are Emmenthaler and Gruyere.

@Foodie: of course there is not a really feminine term for grouchiness; I can think of one that will work for both genders: ornery, a wonderful word!

It doesn't quite look the same...

joho 9:12 PM  

@mac ... I think the feminine term for grouchiness is bitchiness, sorry to say.

@fergus ... I don't think DM is british.

3 and out.

Daniel Myers 9:24 PM  

@Fergus-"Blast!" was whimsy, something my Latin master @ Winchester might have said, if you read the post in full. This IS an actual picture of me. If you google my very real name, you can find my Amazon profile and see another picture of me and watch several videos of me reading poetry.

I never quite understood your post of a few days ago disapproving of my "disarray" and saying that "by your standards" any girl would be "long gone."

What exactly is your problem with me? What shall it be, pistols at dawn?

michael 9:33 PM  

Wonderful puzzle that took me a while, but mostly because I was distracted with other things. Where I teach 3.3 = B+. Perhaps it is different in other places.

joeyshapiro 9:48 PM  

Knew tilsit only from the Monty Python cheese shop sketch. Like to see someone try to fit Venezuelan beaver cheese in the grid.

Only part of the theme I liked was the nonplused from the plus cross in the SE corner (though I prefer the spelling nonplussed).

Retired_deadhorse_Chemist 10:05 PM  

Re GPA - My undergraduate school in the fifties/early sixties made A = 5, B=4, C =3, D = 2, and I presume lower grades were still lower point values. Don't care to enter an argument, just to provide a fact.

Anonymous 10:09 PM  

I hesitate to chime in but to be brutally honest things were smoother and more harmonious before Master Meyers showed up.
@joho I think you are right.
Daniel, you seem to have a "talent" for diverting the nice conversation into an argument. Every single day.
A daily quote from the OED does not win you friends.
I am not a mean person but you seem to have a need to bring it out in me and others.
Maybe you should start a journal or something to take out your puzzling frustrations on. I come here for puzzle conversations and a good laugh. I'm tired of constant micro analysis of every single tiny thing.
Squeek the Anonymouse

Ulrich 10:14 PM  

@Daniel Myers: I would be already happy if you would memorize the first 15 integers that are greater than 3.

mac 10:33 PM  

@fergus and dm: sorry to distract from your preparations. Get a good night's sleep, gentlemen!

@Joho: I know some really bitchy guys!

mac 10:34 PM  

That was miraculous, or I should go to sleep now.

Retired_deadhorse_Chemist 11:01 PM  

Re GPA - My undergraduate school in the fifties/early sixties made A = 5, B=4, C =3, D = 2, and I presume lower grades were still lower point values. Don't care to enter an argument, just to provide a fact.

Retired_deadhorse_Chemist 11:06 PM  

Re GPA - My undergraduate school in the fifties/early sixties made A = 5, B=4, C =3, D = 2, and I presume lower grades were still lower point values. Don't care to enter an argument, just to provide a fact.

retired_chemist 11:14 PM  

Apologies - every time I reloaded this blog my comment was getting reposted. Hopefully no more. It was barely worth posting once.

Daniel Myers 11:25 PM  

@rex, furgus, anonymous, ulrich et al.----My apologies once again. This time my departure is permanent. I only returned because I was asked to do so via e-mail by another longtime blog participant who told me that I was missed by her and others. Sorry for stirring up all the rancour.

You have a great blog, Rex. Thanks for putting up with yours truly.


Stan 11:39 PM  

Late post: Did this on the beach (before going to work). It looked impossible at first but then became really fun, and certainly not impossible.

So put me in the non-Rex/BEQ column for a change. Brilliant puzzle-in-a-puzzle, IMO, and a great addition to Grrl-Power Week.

Anonymous 11:44 PM  

@ DM, Part of me says "Have a nice life."
The other part of me says "Don't let the door hit you in the ass".

Stan 11:56 PM  

@Daniel Myers: Please stop departing.

But do realize there is a (never-enforced) three posts and out rule which is at least a guideline for what makes a good, engaging daily puzzle blog.

Well, that's just my opinion. Je suis dehors.

XMAN 12:05 AM  

Whoa, Daniel! Most of the comments criticizing you were over the top. You're not so bad. You may react too much to return posts. You only have to let go a little, and that's a maybe. I enjoy you, pal, and if you go, I will miss you.

XMAN 12:08 AM  

@The last anonymous: DM often has valuable comments. Besides, a pain in the ass is at least a sensation--an experience--more than I can sat for many.

edith b 12:22 AM  

I often find the grid more interesting than the puzzle and roughly is true of Mr. Daniel Myers as I tend to like how he uses the language rather than what he says.

I think if he had adhered to the three and out rule of thumb, others would have found him a lot less tiresome. IMOO.

Goodbye, Daniel.

andrea etui michaels 1:21 AM  

enjoyed toiling over the puzzle, love liz, didn't like all the abbreviations. but cool.
Nonplussed is one of those words I'm always afraid i'm using exactly opposite and then remember it's not what i think it is but then can't remember if it's now what i thought before or now what i know it isn't.
so i can't tell if i was nonplussed by the puzzle, nonplused, confused, or enjoyed!

oh, and I misSPELT TILSeT so had PETT :(

Tough having to wade thru 100+ comments today.
Wade! I miss Wade!

Bleedover: ONE has been in the grid four days running now!!!!!!!!!!!!

Loved seeing DAMASCUS for foodie and Artlover for artlver and glad to see crosschix continue to rule this week, but still not entirely sure I get what an Olaf is...
(but that might be professional naming jealousy, if I had any!)
@Crosscan, if you want your glasses in an hour, go to univision!

Lisa in Kingston 1:50 AM  

Whew, glad that's over with.
Where is Wade, anyway?

Rex Parker 6:38 AM  

As edith says, if people would respect the basic three-comment limit, I think there'd be greater respect and harmony all around.


Glitch 9:46 AM  


I agree the 3 count limit is a good guideline.

I have another suggestion:

If somebody irks you, don't read them (their "name" is in big letters).

If they post something interesting, there will usually be an @ comment back to them, then go look.

I treat a couple of posters this way.


poc 10:31 AM  

@joeyshapiro: I too knew TILSIT from the Python sketch. Fortunately Venezuelan beaver cheese is unlikely to appear as it doesn't actually exist (there are no beavers in Venezuela). In fact I think it's the only cheese in the long list which isn't real.

Of course someone could construct a Python-themed puzzle. Now there's a thought to conjure with ...

miriam b 12:08 PM  

@/Glitch: Now a lot of us will be wondering whether we've been weighed and found wanting, LOL.

foodie 12:51 PM  

@Daniel Myers, I agree with several others who expressed hope that you will not depart, but rather remain but observe the 3 post rule. Beyond enjoying your perspective on language, I feel that we as a community need to learn to give each other feedback in a clear and kind way, and accept this feedback to modify our behavior, but without being binary.

I think there is genius in Rex's 3 post rule. It makes one have a budget of sorts, discourages quick reactions and running arguments while encouraging thoughtfulness.

I hope you will reconsider...

hertzig 2:06 PM  

I'm a mathematician. I LOVED the theme of this puzzle. Far from a "huge drag". Well worth the "huge drag". An exciting "odd coincidence of math and language" . . .

Singer 1:22 PM  

Late post from syndication land. I liked the self-referential theme clues. Had trouble at first with the rebus corners until I actually got thirteen, which opened them up wide. Every dictionary I looked at had nonplused as an alternate spelling to nonplussed, so it is acceptible entirely. And Rex is absolutely correct that 3.3 is more, not less, than a B. To me a puzzle is more of a puzzle if it drags you in a few circles to get to the end. The point is to make it a challenge, and this definitely was a challenge.

Anonymous 5:46 PM  

This is the first time I've seen a post from syndication land, where I live. I've often wondered about chiming in five weeks later. This is a first for me in another way. It is the first Thursday puzzle I legitimately and completely completed in some reasonable amount of time. The key for me was B+ Average. Until I understood it was a grade, I was thinking about the numbered lines in a legal transcript. After that, it was fun for me. Hey, thanks.

XMAN 7:36 PM  

@Anonymous 5:46==There's often someone to say hello and welcome.

Singer 1:02 PM  

@Anonymous 5:46, I have only been posting off and on for a few weeks. See my post several days ago (might have been for puzzle 0715) where I lament that it seems kind of pointless since it is so long after everyone else has comment and argued their way through the puzzle. But there are a lot of folks in syndication land, and sometimes there is a response. I would certainly enjoy more of that. Welcome to the blog - it is a fun read, ususally.

Singer 1:05 PM  

Just checked - my lament was on Tuesday, puzzle 0714.

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