Mythological thread-cutter / FRI 6-25-10 / Native Australian winds / Bellini opera set in English Civil War / George Sand title heroine

Friday, June 25, 2010

Constructor: Robin Schulman and Byron Walden

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: "I DO" — rebus puzzle with 9 "I DO" squares (including five in the central Across answer, "IDOIDOIDOIDOIDO" (34A: Abba hit of 1976)) — further, the first letters of the Across clues spell out a message, which puts the puzzle and theme in context:


Word of the Day: "I PURITANI" (31D: Bellini opera set in the English Civil War) —
I puritani (The Puritans) is an opera in three acts, by Vincenzo Bellini. It is his last opera. Its libretto is by Count Carlo Pepoli based on Têtes rondes et Cavaliers by Jacques-François Ancelot and Joseph Xavier Saintine, which is in turn based on Walter Scott's novel Old Mortality. It was first produced at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris, January 24, 1835. At the same time, Bellini composed an alternative version intended for the famous Maria Malibran, who was to sing it in Naples; in fact, this version was not performed on stage until April 10, 1986 at the Teatro Petruzzelli, Bari. (wikipedia)
• • •

I'm going to be an ogre for a second and say that I thought the puzzle was massively self-indulgent *before* I found out that the first letters of the Across clues spelled out a message *about the constructors themselves*. I knew Byron was getting married, and I figured this co-constructor was his wife (or wife-to-be), so my initial feeling when I uncovered the "I DO" rebus was ... not as charitable as it ought to have been (I have "REBUS—f*ck" scrawled atop my puzzle). And then—well, to find out that this very hard puzzle was so hard (in part) because of the self-congratulatory hidden message!? Grrrrr. But ... Byron is one of my very favorite constructors, and he is getting married today, after all, and thus I am having a really hard time carrying my irkedness much further. So it stops here. From here on out, the only person I'm upset with is ME. Oh, and Robin and Byron: congratulations.

I was my own worst enemy today, in many ways. Started off with ALDA to ARAB to ADDS and thought "huh, not so bad." But things toughened up from there. NW was a slog, mainly because of the deliberately misdirective clue + rebus combo in DIDGER(IDO)OS (18A: Native Australian winds). But here's where I maimed myself—I thought the rebus was "ID"; i.e. I thought DIDGERIDOOS was spelled with just the one "O," and despite "getting" MA(IDO)FHONOR (11D: Shower holder), I somehow just imagined that first "O." And so I went looking for "ID" squares. This quest came to a halt only after I realized the Abba song and saw that "ID" squares wouldn't cut it. Rebus revelation was groan #1, "IDO" (not "ID") revelation—groan #2. Groan #3 would be the worst of all. By a mile. By miles and miles.

See, after groan #2, I found the puzzle quite doable: SE went down very quickly, and NW only a little less so (PALPS, yuck—1A: Bug detection devices?). And then we arrived at the great SW. Neither of the long Downs made any sense to me, but ATE KOSHER went right in (51A: Shunned shellfish, say). Somehow managed to swing PLANT FOOD (56A: You might get it at a nursery) and GO FOR (46D: Fetch), and then ... the fatal blow. Off the "G" in GO FOR, I opt for HOT DOG at 45A: Ballpark fare. Absolutely perfect answer. Further (further!!!) I "confirm" HOT DOG with TOOK TO at 39D: Accepted. Not the greatest fit, but it made total sense to me, and it's Friday after all, so fits aren't always great. The point is, HOT DOG was unimpeachable. And thus began the longest period of freefall that I've had in months and months. Deathly cutesy cluing on SILENT R was bad enough (38D: February 4th, to some?), but with wrong letter solidly in place, answer was completely invisible. Same for WORTH A LOT (30D: Dear). "I PURITANI" was just a bunch of letters to me, so I can't blame HOT DOG there, but ... oh man. Nothing more lethal than having a wrong answer of which you are certain. Wasn't until I really tried plugging "IDO" into any possible answer (I knew it was in there somewhere) that my brain went "Hey, buster. DOG has "DO" in it ... any chance that's important?"... &%^ING CHIL(I DO)G!!! And SA(ID O)K TO!?! Limp to finish line from there, with "U" in (unheard of) TRUSS (37A: Wooden or metal framework) and (extremely unheard of) "I PURITANI" being the last letter in the grid.

Remaining "IDO" answers:
  • 19A: Davy Jones or any other Monkee — TV (IDO)L
  • 3D: Teen drivers? — LIB(IDO)S
  • 20D: Spanish man's name that means "peaceful" — PLAC(IDO)
  • 26D: Bribed — PA(IDO)FF
  • 27D: George Sand title heroine — IS(IDO)RA
  • 28D: Some snowmobiles — SK(IDO)OS
  • 35D: Punctilious type, slangily — (I-DO)TTER
  • 59A: Good place for a smoke — HUM(IDO)R
  • 49D: Birthstone for most Leos — PER(IDO)T
  • 25A: Inhabitants of central African rain forests (OKAPIS) — lucked out; was cluing OKAPI recently and so know more than I ought to about them.
  • 1D: Final section of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" (PART V) — figured this would be something strange or possibly literally in Greek. No. Just PART V.
  • 2D: Brand with the slogan "All Day Strong" (ALEVE) — wanted CERTS. Really.

["When you wanna smooch, does she ... call the pooch?" !?!?!?!?!]

  • 4D: Geithner's predecessor at Treasury (PAULSON) — didn't know it off the bat, but it's a very familiar name, so it came from crosses quickly.
  • 5D: "Bird" with a flexible nose (SST) — as SST clues go, that's pretty good.
  • 10D: Mythological thread-cutter (ATROPOS) — One of the Fates. I wanted Ariadne, but she didn't cut thread—she just gave Theseus thread so he could find his way back out of the Labyrinth.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


SethG 12:18 AM  


I got the rebus quickly from DIDGERIDOOS/MAID OF HONOR. Changed HOT DOG to xxxxIDOG quickly enough, but the NW remained just about impossible. Because of PALPS. I didn't know PALPS.

syndy 1:36 AM  

Yup HOTDOG!and i had go fer and that didn't help either; of course I cheated because i knew i didnT know how to spell didgeridoo and looked it up-BUT aside from that just like the man said.Congrads Byron and Robin serious smack down

Doug 2:36 AM  

Some kind of puzzle, whew. Congrats to the constructors -- Coincidentally I said today that a bride should get whatever she wants on her wedding day, so indulge away.

Cluing was top notch and the rebus was just right. How about all the The ABBA IDOs as a big centerpiece?

Actually had lunch with a Muslim colleague today who requested shellfish--How 'bout that?

r.alphbunker 3:37 AM  

Great write up by RP. I had zero chance of seeing what was spelled out by the first letters of the across clues because I was doing it on an iphone. It took a long time to accept that there was a rebus in the puzzle because I did not think that Friday's had rebuses. I finally broke down with "pa[id o]ff" because what else could bribed be?

Does anybody know of any other Fridays or Saturdays that had rebuses?

I wish the constructors a happy life together. Curiously the word that I had to type in was "iijil" - Jill is my wife of 25 years.

Thanks for a memorable puzzle.

andrea (ido) humor michaels 3:43 AM  

Good place for a smoke = HUMOR...hmmmmm
Re-read that about 384 times before it dawned on me (There's a stone called a PEROT, right?! Wrong)

What's interesting is all the right answers sort of floated thru my brain at some point before being There's a stone called PERIDOT what about HUMIDOR don't you get CHILIDOGs at the ball park and the Monkees are teen IDOLs yet I resisted putting them in.
Even the Abba clue I thought MONEY MONEY MONEY!

Sorry not to be there for the wedding but IDOIDOIDOIDOIDOIDO love that they did this puzzle.
How DID he make five IDO rebuses in a row????!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for pointing out the ACROSS first letters. TOTALLY missed that but it wasn't completely true the way the puzzle was printed...
a capital A in 25A African messed it up along with the E in 32A.

Mistake at the end: pReSS instead of TRUSS.

And it took awhile before AMore became AMITY, but it's usually the other way around in life, no? "That's AMITY!" doesn't have the same ring to it.

Congrats to the lovebirds!!!!!!!!!!!

PanamaRed 7:20 AM  

Enjoyed this one, especially after I was totally smacked down by yesterday's puzzle. Got the rebus at TVIDOL and LIBIDOS, then PLACIDO, which made IDOIDOIDOIDOIDO a gimme.

Smooth sailing from there except for the SW, where I fell into the same trap as Rex and others with HOTDOG. Had kinda the same d'oh moment as Rex when I thought there had to be an IDO in there.

Thanks Rex for the explanation of the first letter of the across clues, and thanks and congrats to the constructors.

r.alphbunker 7:58 AM  

Did the constructors create the puzzle first, decide it was a Friday and made Friday the wedding day?

Or was the wedding set to be on a Friday and they made the puzzle a Friday one?

fikink 8:00 AM  

Got the rebus as @SethG did, then sabotaged myself as @Rex did with too much faith in HOTDOG.
A spectacular puzzle!
And Congrats to the constructors on both fronts.

Tomorrow is Saturday. Hot Dog!

Miss Manners 8:15 AM  

Congratulate the groom. Tell the bride you're very happy for her.

JenCT 8:23 AM  

Okay, this went over my head - wasn't expecting a rebus on a Friday.

Had STIRRERS before FROTHERS, don't know LODESTARS. Knew PALPS, but didn't think of it.

Whew! A humbling puzzle - I admire those of you who got it. Great writeup, Rex.

Congrats to the wedding couple!

Leslie 8:25 AM  

This puzzle is amazingly good. HUGE thank-you to Rex for pointing out that the Across clues contain a message. I did not see that at all. But you include that, on top of all the "I do's," and it's just awesome.

At 45A, I so wanted "corn dog" instead of CHILI DOG--so much so that I was willing to consider that maybe some people spell it "cornidog." But no, no, no. I spend way too much time up north, unwilling to give up and keep going southward in search of answers; TERR at 24D came to me, and made me want TOP HAT at 23A, but didn't go there for the longest time because I was insistent that 9D should be "breed" rather than BEGET. I fumbled around like that for ages before finally going southward with a gusty sigh--and getting HUMIDOR and PERIDOT, thus getting the rebus theme for the first time. After that, speedy and fun.

ArtLvr 8:32 AM  

Yes yes yes! Congrats to Robin and Byron...

MA(ID O)F HONOR came quickly, so I was looking for more IDOs, but made the mistake of thinking they'd be symmetically placed -- that slowed me down a bit.

Having STAC for Staccato kept me from trying a Hot Dog, thank goodness, but TRUSS took some thought. Chilis beckoned for a while until it had to be CHIL(IDO)G... and Bellini's I PURITANI was the hardest to see. For some reason I put in PONTOONED and took it out twice!

In the SE, the Birthstone for most Leos couldn't be a Pearl if ending in T, so the PER(IDO)T popped into place. I finally finished in the NW after giving up Canto for PART V -- should have known PALPS and PAULSON early on...

I loved the VESSEL near the WINECASK, and toast the happy couple both for their puzzle and their wedding celebration!


dk 8:45 AM  

Robin and Byron, enclosed please find a gift certificate for a life time of therapy for the boy or girl you may BEGET.

My knowledge and love of ABBA is equaled only by my AMITY towards Ally McBeal, Lost and the comic strip Cathy. Thus, I found my grid with some really nice fill: LODESTARS, PLANTFOOD, etc. Then Got DIDGERwhateverman and MAIDOFHONOR, however the theme was lost on Oceania Air as far as I was concerned.

To add insult to injury lovely wife came home with a DVD of Mama Mia a few nights ago. So far I have dodged that bullet but I think I may have to pay the piper this evening.

Stumped two days in a row, insulted by some lame ANON on Wednesday -- what a week. I expect tomorrow will be my coup de grace.

**** (4 Stars for the best rebus I ever hated and the stellar positioning of the across clue first letters)

pps. @MASKED ANON, my sister (shooter of Barbies) just scored a M3A1 (aka grease gun) wanna come over and play. Revenge is a dish best served at 450 rounds/min cyclic.

Off to my anger management class - TTFN

Sam 9:05 AM  

AID to the (puzzle) weary...

I got a rebus... but the wrong rebus. I put in "P-aid-OFF" and "S-aid-OKTO" and figured that I was a genius for tumbling to this so early.... Needless to say it sent me off on a wild goose chase for a very long time.

I did ultimately get the puzzle, and congratulate the constructors, for my mental constriction today as well as for their nuptials.

Van55 9:06 AM  

Congratulations to Robin and Byron. May you enjoy a magnificent partnership for the rest of your lives together.

I did need a bit of help from Google today, but at least I finished correctly, unlike yesterday. Got the rebus from HUMIDOR/PERIDOT. Knew PALPS right off the bat and loved the pun in the clue. Didn't know IPURITANI, but Google did.

Practically no crosswordese other than the always horrible SST. Rex says, "'Bird' with a flexible nose (SST) — as SST clues go, that's pretty good." I say, "AIDS -- as fatal diseases go, that's pretty good."

redhed 9:14 AM  

was totally defeated by this puzzle. (Did much better yesterday). I also had a rebus thought in mind, but just couldn't get there. My sleep-deprived mind was just not in it. However, LOVED the theme after Rex explained it and thought "aw, how sweet!" Then I was no longer frustrated by my feelings of utter stupidity. May the happy couple live long and prosper!!

No BS 9:23 AM  

Congrats to the happy couple. I have never, ever been so satisfied with a puzzle and amazed that I did it without cheating. It was worth a lot. What a tribute to the unconscious mind. Maid of honor revealed the theme and spelling of didgeridoo followed from that. There were hardly any gimmes. I tip my tophat to them, wish I could meet the maid of honor. And Rex, you are, as you admit, being a touch churlish. What a wonderful celebration of their shared passions. I laughed, I cried. Mazel tov! to Robin and Byron. And thanks to you, too, Rex, because I wouldn't have seen the "across" acrostic in a million years! So I wouldn't have known that I had been invited to the wedding. Profaner that I am, still will I shun shellfish today in their honor.

Ketch BS

nanpilla 9:23 AM  

Congrats, Robin and Byron on your wedding and a great Friday puzzle!

Took way to long to realize the rebus. I just couldn't get a toehold anywhere for the longest time.
@Leslie : I had BreEd first also, and, of course, hotdog.
@Artlover, I had STAC, then took it out for a while to put in hotdog, then realized it HAD to be right, which helped me find CHILIDOG.

This is the type of puzzle that you are so proud of yourself for finishing.
And thanks, @Rex, for pointing out the acrostic nature of the across clues - added bonus I didn't see!

chefbea 9:35 AM  

Great puzzle which I could not finish. Got a few of the i do's but had to google too much so gave up. Love abba and Mama Mia.

Congrats to Robin and Byron

JC66 9:47 AM  

Congratulations, Robin and Byron.

Loved this extremely difficult puzzle.

After spending almost an hour completing it, I didn't notice the across clue acrostic. Did anyone? Just asking.

Technically speaking 9:49 AM  

The opposite of hatred (as well as love and amity) --- all strong feelings --- is apathy --- no feeling ;-)

That nit aside, great puzzle.

To the couple, I'm sure your wedding day will be wonderful and I add this toast:

"May this be the least happiest day of your life!"


David L 9:52 AM  

I pronounce this difficult but good (difficult but bad means DNF). I got the rebus at HUMIDOR/PERIDOT, but then was misled mightily because I expected the IDO to show up in the corresponding square in the other three corners. Then saw TVIDOL and DIDGERIDOOS so was able to struggle wearily to the finish line, like John Isner yesterday at Wimbledon (although I finished quicker than he did, ha!).

Never heard of IPURITANI but filled it in after getting the first four letters, and thinking, hmm, English civil war, puritans, what can Italian for puritans possibly be?

Happy day to the happy couple!

mitchs 9:59 AM  

DNF. I was convinced by the 4 IDOs in the middle that the rebus answers would be symmetrical. So I confidently placed IDO in the NW and SW appropriately. After 45 more minutes I punted.

foodie 10:14 AM  

what a great way to start a life together- getting it announced in the NY Times and getting paid for it :) Seriously, it's such a fun gift to give to each other, something you can pass on to the children and grandchildren and challenge them to come up with creative ways to commemorate great moments in life. Way to go!

The puzzle itself smacked me upside the head, kicked me in the belly and spit on me. To me, discovering it's a rebus puzzle feels as if I'm heading for a walk in a beautiful park and I hear there will be snakes slithering out from unexpected places.

But still, I found much to love-- the "I DO" in the heart of the MAID OF HONOR, the LIBIDOS crossing TV IDOLS, and especially the puzzle having ROSY, AMITY, WORTHWHILE ENRAPT, STIR, LIBIDO-- Hold those thoughts, and may you be each others LODESTARS for ever and again!

Denise Ann 10:23 AM  

I just went back to the NYT site to see that I did indeed complete this puzzle last night, because I certainly did not consciously fill in the words that Rex explained today!!

Of course, how would I have known about the hidden message?
A very hard puzzle.

Jo 10:25 AM  

fabulous puzzle, even more so after Rex pointed out the acrostic. I stumbled on the rebus because being a leo knew that my stone was a PERIDOT, which gave HUMIDOR as well and the five IDO'S, being an ABBA fan. Some problems: BREED for BEGET, ROSE for ROSY, so had trouble with that entire section. I learned it as the rhododaktulos eos, the rose-fingered dawn, which I have referred to each morning I watched the sunrise out of the ocean this week. The last to fall into place was SILENTR which I still do not understand. Congrats to the happy couple!

joho 10:30 AM  

Oh, I can't believe how spectacular this puzzle is! And I didn't even see the acrostic shout out to the remarkably creative lovebirds. Mazel Tov you two!

I got the rebus at DIGERIDOOS/MAIDOFHONOR. But even getting the IDO didn't make the going easy. I read the clue at 51A as "Stunned shellfish, say" which really created problems for me. What, you club a lobster? In that same section I had fOE before HOE which added to the mystery.

But in the end, I finally prevailed, only to marvel at this masterpiece.

Brava, Bravo Robin and Byron!!!!!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:38 AM  

Bit strange to be following immediately after @Jo, since a. BREED before BEGET was my only write-over in the 3/4 of the3 puzzle I completed, and b. I read Homer only in English translation, and I had learned the phrase as "rosy-fingered dawn", thus a gimme for me.

(@Jo - the fourth letter of February is a silent R.)

Great puzzle, but one I could not correctly finish because of multiple failures in the SW, which seems to have been the tough spot for many. For one thing, 30 D, "Dear" and 58 A, "Nautically equipped . . " crossed so well, but wrong, as WELL-LOVED and SEAWORTHY, with 56 A also fitting those letters if it were EVERGREEN. And I failed on the Fourth of February, thinking it might be something like "Eid En Wr", the newest Muslim holiday!

Don't know if I could ever have straightened it all out, but one hour was my limit today.

All the best to Robin and Byron!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:40 AM  

@joho reminds me: I also parsed "Shunned shellfish" incorrectly, and thought it might contain the rebus if it were "RANCID OYSTER"!

foodie 10:42 AM  

@Rex, I really enjoyed the vivid description of your inner struggle-- from your REBUS-f*ck, Grrrr irkedness to "it stops here. From here on out, the only person I'm upset with is me"! When I talk to students about emotions, and describe the brain circuits that underlie them, I tell them that initial reactions take place in this primitive lizard brain of ours, they can be strong and impossible to avoid, but slowly the more evolved parts of our brains kick in and reinterpret. Many people work hard to ignore/forget the initial reaction. You gave us beautiful text, on a fun topic, to demonstrate these workings. I greatly appreciate the fact that you don't just tell us where you finally landed, but how you got there.

@Andrea, I did that same HUMOR/PEROT thing as you did- a resistance to the idea of a rebus. I love your IDO Humor middle name!Perfect!

@Doug, as far as I know, there is nothing in Islam that prevents people from eating shellfish. "Halal", the Muslim equivalent of KOSHER only overlaps in certain ways-- most notably, no pork allowed, and the way that animals are slaughtered. But Islam does not prevent certain mixtures that I believe exist in KOSHER traditions, e.g. mixing dairy and meat.

jesser 10:44 AM  

I DO admit that this puzzle kicked my ass and then drop-kicked me in the nads for good measure.

I came here prepared to blast it, but then Rex gets all sappy on me, and I hear wedding bells in the distance, and who can be mad anymore?

Not I. Congratulations Robin and Byron! Mazel Tov!

Tinbeni 10:46 AM  

As Norm Peterson would say:
"It's a Hot Dod eat Dog world and I'm wearing Milk Bone underwear."

Got the rebus IDO's but my PONTOONED boat took me A SEA.

I'm getting pretty good at DNF's lately.
Oh well, no biggie.

Nice to see you haven't Lost your sense of HUMOR.
Last night I started watching the movie Executive Decision until I saw the plane was Oceanic. Figured they were doomed, so I changed channel.

OK, how do you really feel about SST? LOL

PuzzleNut 10:57 AM  

A very good Friday puzzle. Like another poster, I wonder if any of us mortals found the acrostic before visiting with Rex.
My downfall was EDDe and ROSe. The "turning point" had me brain locked. Went through the alphabet and only recognized EDDA and EDDO, somehow skipping the letter Y. Neither ROSa or ROSo seemed possible, so I punted with ROSe. Oh well - glad to have finished the rest of this one without cheating.
@jesser and @Masked - thanks for the suggestions yesterday. Both sound pretty challenging, but I've got a month of vacation in Northern NM with limited internet access, so I'll have plenty of time to stretch my brain.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Great puzzle, great day for the constructors. May a cross word never come between them.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

Thought, wha? rebus on Friday? Ok, then. NOT symmetrical. Ok, then. Not nearly hard enough for Friday if you tumble to those 2 things early on, I thought. Then the SW happened. That corner took as long as the whole rest of the puzzle, and in the end, @Jo and thank you, @Bob Kerfuffle, I did not understand SILENTR. Which would not be so strange if I actually, personally, pronounced all the r's, which I don't.

And apparently I've forgotten my password. Ok, then.


Two Ponies 11:36 AM  

I'm getting really tired of throwing towels.
This one made me feel like I had a head full of vuvuzelas.
The SW was my Waterloo today.
What a scribbled up mess.
Plant food in and then out.
Never got pontooned (has anyone ever used that in a sentence?) as I was sure it was ____roped. Cross that with some unknown Italian phrase and I was toast.
I also was thinking May Oyster.
I never saw the hidden message but I think it is a wonderful gift to each other.
@ dk, You have had a bad week to be sure. An hour on the range with your sister's new toy could be a tonic. It usually is for me.

Zeke 11:39 AM  

I couldn't begin to describe the many ways this puzzle beat me up. I eventually hypothesized the rebus at TV(IDO)L, but the computer I'm solving on wouldn't let me insert the three letters. I took that to mean it wasn't a rebus, hence I was totally screwed.
I missread the clue for 51A as "Stunned shellfish", and only came here to find out how he forced AGOGQUAHOG into the puzzle. Turns out he didn't.

HudsonHawk 11:42 AM  

Loved it, and completed it without errors, but I almost caved in the SW. I had SAID OKAY and GO GET rather than SAID OK TO and GO FOR, so the acrosses for 56A and 58A were hopelessly muddied for wayyy too long.

I, too, would love some clarification on SILENT R. I get that there's one in February, but...

Bob Kerfuffle 11:47 AM  

@HudsonHawk - and the 4th (letter) of February is the silent R. Us hoi polloi say Feb - u - airy, y'know.

syndy 12:06 PM  

What / THERES a way to get all three letters in? tell tell tell PLEASE tell need all the help i can get, also why does my capyha not come up and just a box saying "VISUAL VERIFICATION"?

Zeke 12:21 PM  

@Sydney - you should be able to hit the insert key, then type in the letters of the rebus. Except sometimes/some configurations/I don't know which ones.
Your capcha not showing up is a delay on the part of blogger. Hit refresh.

Zeke 12:38 PM  

@Sydney - the instructions I gave above are for Across Lite.

Shamik 1:00 PM  

Very enjoyable puzzle. Also saw early on that it was a rebus, but just couldn't get what the rebus was until HUMIDOR/PERIODOT. Still, ended up with an error at PALMS/MAULSON. Last corner to fall was the SW which took Forever!

Robin and Byron...may you grow as individuals and still figure out how to grow as a couple.

HudsonHawk 1:02 PM  

@BobK, thanks...

Shamik 1:04 PM  

I like that there's no set rule on when a rebus can appear.

chefbea 1:25 PM  

I forget what DNF stands for

Moonchild 1:43 PM  

What a killer puzzle.
I mean that in a good way and a bad way. Good in construction, bad in what it did to me.
I thought a didgeridoo was an instrument.
Like most folks the SW was the worst but also in the NW I tried
ex-idol for the Monkees clue.
Since the Monkees were there it's too bad 29A wasn't clued with Herman's Hermits. (Peter Noone for you youngsters)
The whole wedding thing is very romantic. Too bad the anagram was lost on me until I can here.
@Rex, Not to doubt your puzzling prowess but being in the inner circle of puzzledom did someone tip you off? Would you tell us if they did?

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

Wow, I guess I'm today's curmudgeon. The puzzle just plain didn't work for me. I gave up and looked at the answers after I'd put in about half the answers -- I'd had enough. I don't finish only about 3, 4 times a year. I got the rebus part fine, and there were answers I knew or should have known, but I just didn't see a point to putting any more effort into it.

Of course, I wish the newlyweds all the best.

mitchs 1:48 PM  

@Chefbea: You braggart. Did Not Finish.

joho 1:59 PM  

@moonchild ... a DIDGERIDOO is a wind instrument.

Odile 2:05 PM  

Wow!! Really enjoyed all the thematic cluing and the "aha" moment with the central 5 "i do"s.

Had the most trouble with the NW, in part because I was trying to make the rebus somehow accommodate "What the Thunder Said" (the title of _The Waste Land_, part V---in fact, that's the clue that sent me looking for a rebus in the first place). So my only real groan was when I finally figured out "part v"--THAT'S all you wanted??? I still don't totally get "flexible nose" and "palps." Thought "February 4th" should have been "February's 4th," but still loved the tricky clueing there.

Completely missed the acrosstic in the clues until I read Rex's write-up, but that's a very, very nice touch.

@Moonchild: a didgeridoo is a WIND instrument.

Masked and Anonymous 2:20 PM  

@dk: Just a reminder that whoever "Masked Anon" was, he weren't me. Some other masked rudedude. Don't wanna be waxed on a contract by sis's paint gun. Peace and love, amie.

Congrats to the happy couple. Kinda wondered if that was part of the story, after gettin' IDO rebus at HUM?R crossin' PER?T [like other solvers above], then instantly dashin' to the grid center to see how many IDO's I could unload there [Har! 5!]. Wasn't quite sure, cuz "Robin" could be like ROBIN Williams, or somethin'. Never saw the Across clue message comin', til 44 set me straight.

Either way, no time to go out and buy a weddin' gift at that point, cuz had lots of daylight to burn, before this puz was toasted. Finally got to where was facin' a big, gapin', empty SW corner. Had my WI at 30-a. Had my R at end of 35-d. Felt like I was ajumpin' off a 30-foot cliff into unknown, ido-shark-infested waters. And to make things worse, them sharks was asymmetrical. Threw in BTW at 56-d, BADOYSTER at 51-a, HOTDOG at 45-a, and was soon drownin' in my own mistakes. After many hours, finally swum safely to shore, gurglin' a lot.

Fun stuff. Thumbs up to any FriPuz that's about somethin'.

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

Odile, PALPS are insect appendages used for sensation. Look at SST pictures here.

Moonchild 2:26 PM  

@ Odile, Now I get it! Cool. I really like that clue now.
See, I was thinking of a real wind name like zephyr or scirocco.

Masked and Anonymous 2:36 PM  

p.s. @Andrea ___ Michaels: Congrats to you and joon on landin' today's WSJ Puz. Am mighty impressed. More weddin' bells? [Haven't worked the puz yet, but will be lookin' for hidden msgs.]

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

I find non-symmetrical rebus puzzles to be really annoying. I'm also starting to get really irritated at the use of non-english words.

edmcan 3:22 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
edmcan 3:24 PM  

I can't say anything that everyone hasn't said already. A fun, but confounding puzzle. The SW just sat there for me, no matter how hard I stared at it. Had kosher and the downs, but that's it. YIKES! I still don't get the silent R cluing though...

It is nice to know that I had the same rebus reaction as RP though!

eva 3:37 PM  

I agree with David L's conclusion: "difficult but good." Lots and lots of fun clues! I'm a Leo whose birthstone is ruby, but fortunately I knew that my mom's is PERIDOT. I thought I was remembering it wrong when it wouldn't fit, though, so I didn't figure out the rebus until I finally succumbed to the MAID OF HONOR.

Even after unlocking the cute IDO IDO IDO IDO IDOs, I was convinced I wouldn't come anywhere near finishing. So I was quite pleased to finish with only one letter wrong - I had hastily put in TRESS instead of TRUSS, and then couldn't make heads or tails of IPeRITANI.

Congrats to Robin & Byron!

shrub5 3:52 PM  

I got started in the SE corner and like @Jo above, I'm a Leo so knew PERIDOT -- and detected the rebus very soon when HUMIDOR worked. When I realized that IDO were the rebus letters, I wondered if the puzzle had anything to do with marriage so was on the lookout for that theme. When I got the central IDOs X 5, I figured it was a tribute to the ABBA song. I filled in MAID OF HONOR completely through crosses so I didn't even see that wedding tie-in until much later.

I was amazed to find out that the across clue first letters yielded a message and NO I did not figure that out myself! Thank you, Rex. That just added another dimension to this wonderfully constructed puzzle.

The last letter filled in (with great uncertainty) was the P in PALPS/PARTV. I was not familiar with the word PALPS -- figured it was maybe police-speak for a pat-down of someone checking for a bugging device??? I must have been asleep that day in biology.

Many LOLs today:
@Bob Kerfuffle: RANCID OYSTER!
@Tinbeni: Milkbone Underwear!
@jesser: your entire posts always crack me up!
@dk: thus far dodging the bullet of the "Mama Mia" DVD!! It is a stinker IMHO but the live musical was very good and probably spoiled me.

Best wishes to Robin and Byron!

JC66 4:05 PM  

@ syndy

If you're using Across Lite on a Mac, use the esc key.


I'm going to do the WSJ puz now. I know I won't be disappointed.

Clark 4:10 PM  

Ok. That was really hard. I love me a rebus. Maybe even especially on a non-Thursday. I was heading for a DNF. Semi-puzzle partner came to help, and I told him that it was unlikely to be a rebus cause it was not Thursday. Just then I spotted TV (IDO)L, and he spotted IDOIDOIDOIDOIDO. [By the way, the movie Mama Mia is priceless.] Even then it was a struggle. HUM(IDO)R was the best.

retired_chemist 4:28 PM  

Finished with a modicum of googling. This one was tough. Period. But I liked it.

Caught on to the rebus at HUM(IDO)R/PER(IDO)T, got the NE/SE done in reasonable time and then truly messed up the Mountain and Pacific time zones. Googled for I PURITANI, which gave me the SW. Googled The Waste Land and realized that ACT IV (the V being a sure thing from VESSEL)was wrong. PART V and guessing ALEVE @ 2D broke the NW open, so I finished with two googles.

Why does writing that make me feel like I have been at confession and now need to do penance?

Congratulations, Robin and Byron, and thanks for a fun puzzle that beat me today.

Sparky 4:28 PM  

Best wishes to the happy couple. What a nice present you gave us. I finished today early in the a.m. Had to make it to physical therapy. Then frustration. Entered a comment, ticked the wrong button and it disappeared. So I went to Gristedes. Picked up the rebus at Maid of Honor and confirmed it with paid off. Nooodled around and wondered why I Do? Ah well, it's June. What a wonderful surprise to find the answer in the blog. I had to look up Bellini in my Opera Reader and check Leo's stone as I hung on to Pearl far too long. But I finished. Yippee. Thanks Sydny and Zeke. I have had that problem lately but I don't have a refresh button. I go out and back again. @DK you have a rare wit. Hang in there. Good weekend to all. I look forward to Saturday's puzzle.

chefwen 4:34 PM  

Wowzers! Loved this puzzle. Along with others, figured we had a rebus with DIDGERIDOOS and MAID OF HONOR, but it sure took me a long time to get there, thinking it's Friday, no way is there going to be a rebus. Happily, I was wrong.

Puzzle looked like something my cat dragged in when I was finished, and there was a smattering of holes in the SW area, but I was ecstatic that I got as far as I did.

chefwen 4:39 PM  

Signed off too soon. When Rex explained about the ACROSS letters I let go with an audible AWWWWWWWW!

Congratulations to Robin and Byron and thank you for a beautiful puzzle.

chefwen 4:44 PM  

@everyone - Read today's Non Sequitur cartoon, you can get it at Go Comics. Quite apropos!

John V 4:49 PM  

Totally did not expect a rebus on Friday -- and that was the good news. NW and SW just wouldn't give. Alas.

joho 4:53 PM  

@chefwen ... thank you!

chefbea 5:18 PM  

I would love to do Andreas's puzzle. How can I get it on line ad print it out?

Masked and Anonymous 5:22 PM  


Two Ponies 5:38 PM  

The WSJ puzzles can a snooze at times but today is a nice change and will not disappoint.
Thanks Andrea and Joon!

andrea carlido michaels 6:00 PM  

@Two Ponies, ChefBea, JC66, et al
Thank you for mentioning the WSJ! (Joon's clever idea). But if anyone wants to comment about it, Puzzle Girl did a nice write up over on Orange's blog!
(Don't want to ruffle feathers here or interrupt the love fest for Byron and Robin on their special day!!!)

Altho Robin claims to not even solve puzzles (since a bad incident in 8th grade), they are a match made in heaven.
I don't think Robin is taking Byron's surname, but wouldn't that be great if she changed the spelling of Robin to THAT would be something!!!

Jeff 6:17 PM  

Wow! Amazingly difficult puzzle, but worth it to see the hidden message (thanks for the writeup Rex) that I completely missed. Whew, my brain hurts now. Congrats to the constructors!

atropos carla michaels 6:35 PM  

Bleedover: APROPOS to ATROPOS, tho the P bled to a T!
ATROPOS was new to me, also wanted ARIADNE. Is that where we get the expression "to thread our way thru a maze"?

If my calculation is correct, they should be saying their IDOs right about NOW!

LoJ 6:51 PM  

Ugh. So terrible. If you have to wrangle awkward answers ("WORTH A LOT"? "I PURITANI"?!) into a puzzle just for self-indulgence, keep it to yourself. Don't torture the entire readership of the NYT with it.

Hobbyist 6:57 PM  

I had such an easy time with this as was trapped on a flight to California to attend a wedding tomorrow. I had no distractions and figured fate had put me on the right wavelength. NEVER saw the acrostic. Just thought that June is a big month for weddings and the puzzle reflected that.
I'll tell the bride when I see her.

sanfranman59 7:13 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Fri 39:17, 26:35, 1.48, 100%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 22:24, 12:56, 1.73, 100%, Challenging

Judging by the numbers, this is a Saturday puzzle in Friday clothing. These median times are more than 3 minutes beyond any of the other 54 Fridays in my spreadsheet. Is there some unwritten rule that Saturdays can't be rebuses? That's the only explanation I can come up with for why Will published this puzzle on a Friday.

That said, I seem to be getting better at this since I managed to complete it without cheating. I don't usually complete Friday puzzles that rate as Challenging.

Sfingi 7:16 PM  

Because my local newspaper ruined my LACW by putting today's answers next to it, I tried this one. I put in IPURITANI (Bellini is Sicilian), SOLO, ATEKOSHER, LODESTAR, ROSY and ground to a halt.

Interesting Bellini fact - his body was moved after 40 years from France back to Sicily.

After I while I suspected a rebus, since I wanted PLACIDO; never heard of Red Rock State Park and kept wanting ArizONA (a state) for SEDONA. Thought the rebus might be "AR" (Arizona, Aarfy, arrival). Just didn't know that song's name.
Had "fake" for TVIDOL, "car" for HEN, Ringo for STARR.

By the way, I could never understand why it's ROSY-fingered dawn or WINE-dark sea. Do Greeks have a different palette than I do up in my icy estate? Greek scholars, do tell.

FROTHERS? - Is this a real device? Don't go to those pricey places. And pricey isn't always WORTHALOT.
To me, a FROTHER is a rabid raccoon.

Google: Too many LEO stones and DIDGEROOS is spelled too many ways.

Didn't understand SILENTR.
February has one, but fourth? Are the newlyweds from the NE but moved West?
May they be among the 50% whose marriages last.

All in all the CW looks like it was brilliant and educational, but I crashed.

sanfranman59 7:50 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Two Ponies 7:52 PM  

@ sanfranman, Thank you, as always, for the data. As I was grinding through this I was wondering if I had seriously overslept (like 24 hours).
You comment on your own solving experiences so seldom that I must give you a tip of the old top hat for getting through it.
3-ish and out.

sanfranman59 7:52 PM  

@Sfingi ... Google returned this interesting exposition on the origins of "wine dark sea". Rosy-fingered dawn seems to me an apt description, although not being a morning person, I'm much more likely to witness a rosy-fingered sunset. Re SILENTR, surely you've heard people pronounce the word as Febuary, silencing the fourth letter.

chefbea 8:28 PM  

@masked and anonymous thanx. I printed out the puzzle and will do it tomorrow

retired_chemist 8:30 PM  

I wonder if the first nucular explosion was in Febuary?

sono andrea 9:12 PM  

It was published on Fri not Sat, bec as the acrostic says, Byron/Rob(y)n are tying the knot TODAY.

As Byron is easily in the top ten constructors of all time, he deserves plenty of indulgence!!!!
He's so, so...ZOLAESQUE
and it's his special day

foodie 9:31 PM  

@SanFranMan, I imagine that Will ran it today because it was his present to the bride and groom who got married today... But he could have given us a little present by easing up on some of the cluing!

I was happy to see the 100% difficulty rating, not only because of my own struggles, but because it helped me validate my QDI (Quick and Dirty Index) for difficulty, which showed it to be at least an average Saturday. And in looking at the solving times, there is this very loooong tail of people who took many hours to finish.

@Andrea, I love your Robyn/Byron suggestion. A whole new way of being into each other!

jae 10:13 PM  

Charming and challenging, best wishes to Byron and Robin. I started the same way Rex did with an ID rebus. Many missteps along the way and I ended up missing it by one square. Don't want to go into it as its a tad embarrassing, lets just say I invented a new word somewhere in SW.

Martin 10:57 PM  


When Atropos cuts the thread, we die. That's why the deadly nightshade plant has the lovely Latin name Atropa belladonna and gives us the poison atropine. That's also how I remember which Fate cuts the thread.

Jackie 11:11 PM  

Aw! I loved the theme -- didn't think it was self-indulgent at all, what with all the reminders that June is the hot month for weddings. (See the most recent New Yorker cover, which was staring at me as I did the puzzle.) Many warm wishes to the bride and groom!

Am I the only one who went with FRANKS for "Ballpark fare"? Not that I have ever called a hot dog a frank in my life, but apparently the countless commercials for said product I absorbed in my youth have left their mark deep in my brain.

On the other hand, it took me minutes of hard thinking after completing the puzzle and reading Rex's commentary to get the "February 4th"/SILENTR business. Nice one, guys.

syndy 11:19 PM  

thanks for the info folks

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

Our culture is in a spiral of self indulgence.

I don't know the people who wrote this puzzle, and have no reason to celebrate their wedding.

I don't blame them- people have a right to be goofy about themselves (yeah, yeah... congratulations.. :) -

I blame the editor. It's the New York Times! If you don't stand for decorum and taste, who will?

[btw- very difficult, couldn't do it- don't know the Abba song]

from the cover of darkness...

Rex Parker 2:05 PM  

Nothing more self-indulgent than trolling. U.S.A.! U.S.A.!


Anonymous 2:26 PM  

Rex, I must concede that you have a point. Maybe I'm part of the problem.

And I must admit I was sore at not being able to get anywhere with this puzzle.

But I will point out that as much as I esteem your work here, I do not hold your blog to the standard I would expect from The Times! Just the same, maybe I should have dropped the first sentence and should have done it uncloaked!


Anonymous 7:54 PM  

Have never seen a chili dog at the ballpark. My only complaint with the puzzle.....and I have been to a lot of ballgames.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

Lame theme, forced cluing. PONTOONED? Give me a break

Anonymous 12:37 AM  

I love the rebuses . . . they make me feel SMART when I get them. Got libIDOs right away, I guess from being a mom. Oh geez, that didn't come out right. I still don't get the "silentr" clue . . . Why the 4th? people don't say "Feb(no r)uary fou(no r)th, do they? Oh well, happy life to the newlyweds.

bilz 10:40 AM  

chili on a ballpark hotdog?
remind me to never sit right
in front of you.

Tayvl 3:10 PM  

@Anonymous: The clue refers to the fourth letter in the word "February", not the fourth day of the month. Which makes it an outstanding clue. Didn't figure it out until I'd finished the puzzle...

LongBeachLee 6:07 PM  

A truss is a structural frame that the members are in triangular pattern, think railroda bridges. I learned about them as an engineering student in the 1950s, before computers. They are easy to analyze, so were popular to teach and apply.
Rex, how did you uncover the hidden message? Tell the truth.

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