Classic 1921 play set partly in factory / THU 10-27-11 / 1957-91 King of Norway / Helps for autobiographers / Citiy near Ben Gurion airport / Glace after thawing

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Constructor: Kurt Mueller

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: GHOST in the Machine — a GHOST rebus, with four "GHOST" squares and a central Across answer that reads "HAUNTED" (38A: Having spirit?)

Word of the Day: RADDLE (32D: Make by interlacing) —
v. t. (răd"d'l)
To interweave or twist together.
• • •
Despite some rough fill around the edges, I quite enjoyed this one. Thus ends a four-puzzle slide the likes of which I hadn't seen in the NYT in a while. I was getting a little worried. This one has a nice central idea, with entertaining, lively theme answers. Those giant corners mean that some of the shorter crossing material is a bit ugly (e.g. HAEC, OOO, EERY, AUT (!?!?!), and virtually every Across answer in the NE). But the long answers are splendid, and uncovering the GHOSTs was actually fun. Rebus actually made things easier than normal today—there are only so many GHOST phrases, so once you have one GHOST answer in place, the cross comes almost instantly. Took me a little while to pick up the theme—I actually traversed the entire grid from NW to SE before uncovering my first GHOST at "[GHOST]BUSTERS"—but once I had it, I tore through the puzzle from there on out. Would've been under 5 if I could have remembered how to spell LHASA (61A: Tibetan terrier=>LHASA APSO). I always want to go with LLASA, which is some kind of conflation of LLAMA and LLANO, I think. Wrong continent on both counts. Anyway, fixed my mistake and still came in with a very speedy time, just over 5.





Theme answers:
  • PALE AS A [GHOST] / [GHOST] TOWN (8D: Result of a boom and bust, maybe)
  • GIVE UP THE [GHOST] / MARLEY'S [GHOST] (47A: Fictional character who says "I wear the chain I forged in life")
  • [GHOST] WRITERS (27A: Helps for autobiographers) / [GHOST] OF A CHANCE
  • HOLY [GHOST] / "[GHOST]BUSTERS" (69A: 1984 film whose soundtrack had a #1 hit with the same title)
There were two words I can't remember ever seeing before today: RADDLE and LIPARI (3D: Italy's ___ Islands). Other than that, everything else was fairly familiar. Kind of magical how nicely WOODY ALLEN (the filmmaker) fits alongside ROGER EBERT (the film critic) (28D: Who wrote "It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens" + 29D: "Life Itself: A Memoir" autobiographer, 2011). I love BEANIE BABY for its fantastic datedness (11D: Toy collectible of the late '90s). Grown people lost their damned minds collecting and selling and trying to make fortunes on the BEANIE BABY craze. "The craze lasted through 1999 and slowly declined after the Ty company's announcement that they would no longer be making Beanie Babies and made a bear called "The End"" (wikipedia). "The End" came in two models—noose-around-neck or gun-to-head.






No GHOSTs in "R.U.R." (Classic 1921 play set partly in a factory). Just robots.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

83 comments:

Tobias Duncan 12:14 AM  

I got on to this rebus within one minute(that is absurdly fast for me) and without ever leaving the northwest. Its official, I now love rebuses! I was once the voice of rebus hatred but I can see now that I was a fool.I tore through this thing like wildfire but was left with some holes in the middle that I could not make sense of.Guessed right with the unfamiliar RADDLE but like all good Americans, my geography is horrifyingly bad so LIPARI was unknown.RUR? I think this one has stymied me before but I thought it was so ugly that I would never see it again so it did not go on file.Oh god, just looked it up in wikipedia. I feel like I must turn in my nerd card.I was just telling someone how much I love vintage Sci fi.Oh the pain!

It makes me angry that there is a team called Jazz and that they are from Utah and that if I am to continue to enjoy crossword puzzles I must find out what sport they play and commit it to memory.

Rube 12:32 AM  

I must say that having done crosswords for ~ 2 years, RUR was a gimme. Also, like #31, RADDLE and LIPARI were completely new to me. I think I'll Google the latter and (try) to commit it to memory. (Note also that LIPARI has appeared in the NYT only 3 times in the last 17+(?) years.) Still, a very quick and enjoyable Thursday puzzle... especially since I DNG.

Apparently the LIPARI islands are tiny dots on the map north of Sicily. They're volcanic in origin and straddle the gap between Vesuvius and Etna, (per Wikipedia).

Got the GHOST rhebus immediately on (Ghost)TOWN, but forgot to check the symmetry, thus taking a bit longer to solve than should have.

Your Musical Tathagata 12:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
MaharajaMack 12:46 AM  

A number of answers here just made me mad. I'm a geography nut, but LIPARI islands? A DEUX without, "to Henri"? OOO? TNT? No, CNN is the Atlanta-based cable channel. HAEC? And when I see Var. I will now know that means "awkward spelling to make it fit". I guess my big gripe was that so many of the over-obscure words anchored the center - it left me with nothing to piece together the generic fill. Okay, I'm done. I just had to rant a little to justify my inability to complete this without waiting for Rex to finish his first.

jae 1:26 AM  

Easy and fun Halloween rebus. I got the theme at 1a and just kept going (except of course for @maharaja CNN). Me too for not knowing LIPARI or RADDLE but still a very easy solve. Hope the weekend gets ATAD tougher.

Evan 1:40 AM  

Finished this puzzle in record time for a Thursday -- not much further behind you, Rex! Like Tobias and Rube, I caught onto the gimmick almost right away, but it was (GHOST)WRITERS which did it for me. I'm surprised that I got the trick that quickly. I'm also sad in my own way that the puzzle didn't include THELANDOFWINDAND(GHOST)S, which probably isn't funny to you unless you're familiar with the Mr. Sparkle> episode of "The Simpsons.">

@ Tobias:

The Utah Jazz are professional basketball team. Two years in a row (1997 and 1998) they made the NBA Finals, only to fall to Michael Jordan and my Chicago Bulls. A few decades ago they moved to Salt Lake City from New Orleans, but kept the team name.

chefwen 2:58 AM  

Like others, caught on very early with 1A, although, I kept thinking white as a ghost, but it wouldn't fit, had to wait for PADS and A TAD to set me straight. After that it was pretty much smooth sailing.

My mom got me started on the BEANIE BABY craze as she volunteered at a gift shop in the hospital near to her house and kept sending me dozens at a time. I finally got sick of the little creatures taking over our house and called Dr. Laura offering to send them all to her so she could include them into her "My Bag" program for displaced kids. They said it was one of the best donations ever. Now our house is Beanie Baby free (except for a few favorites).

Fun, easy, and timely puzzle Mr. Mueller, thank you.

dk 6:15 AM  

Tobias, Minnesotian's have the same issue with the Lakers.

This puzzle is candy corn. My favorite part of Holloween.

Do you know why GHOSTs can not have BABYS?

Holloweenies!

*** (3 Stars) Way easy but fun.

Dewey Screwus and the Snooze 6:52 AM  

I tried to fill "I Wanna New Drug" in place of "Ghostbusters," since THEY"RE THE SAME SONG. Supposedly Dan Aykroyd (who is batshit crazy) is trying to make a Ghostbusters sequel but having no luck raising money, interest, etc. I never really understood what was so great and beloved about the original, but maybe I need to watch it again. I do understand what is so great and beloved about new drugs.

JaxInL.A. 6:54 AM  

I was mildly disappointed that we only has four GHOSTs. I LOVE a good rebus and this qualifies. I worked this around clockwise from the NE with almost no jumping around, something I rarely do. Got the rebus at GIVE UP THE GHOST and flew through.

I did try briefly to see if RAvvLE might be an alternate spelling. RADDLE is in my brain somehow, but only at the level of recognizing it once it was in there. Apparently ravel's archaic meaning is to tangle or become confused. Now ravel and unravel have the same basic meaning modern use. So, no knitting up those raveled sleeves of care today.

I'm still coasting on the fumes of Patrick Berry's brilliance, so I don't mind too much that this week's early puzzles have not met that impossible standard. Hey, we daily solvers demand volume, one every day in a variety of venues. Plus, these things have to be a labor of love or compulsion because they don't exactly pay well, as @SethG pointed out yesterday.

Both husband and daughter have birthdays this weekend, plus we are making a costume of daughter's design as a "punk ninja." (?!?) Much preparation for festivities.

Okay, @dk started it. Why did the GHOST cross the road? To get to "The Other Side."

exaudio 7:16 AM  

I knew Lipari from the grocery store. I believe it's a line of Italian food. Did not know RUR, though.

Glimmerglass 7:33 AM  

Easy. Got 8, then 13. Drew little ghosts at 27 and 69 on symmetry before I looked at the clues. I'm one more who never heard of RADDLE or LIPARI, but the crosses were so solid that both were a "whatever." RUR is a gimme (Rossum's Universal Robots). Shows up clued with some idea leading to robots.

SethG 7:41 AM  

I used the wrong Atlanta network, and that's the only slowdown I had.

Except for a moment thinking it should be Footloose. Also 1984!

Z 8:09 AM  

Since there are four ghosts in the puzzle, I prefer to think of this as a Pacman puzzle, not a Halloween puzzle. I'll just ignore that HAUNTED in the middle because I hate it when the facts stand in the way of a great idea.

I also like that I have little bedsheet style ghosts in my grid, instead of a meaningless "G."

My 9th Grade Latin teacher was right, I did remember hic HAEC hoc just like she said we would.

@Tobias - the irony of the whitest team in the NBA, playing in the whitest state in the union, being named after a musical style with it's origins in the African-American community should be enough to remember that the Jazz play in the NBA in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Did not know LIPARI or RADDLE. Got both from crosses. LIPARI is the name of locally distributed cheeses.

Final letter, "X." Just was not parsing those two clues correctly.

AnnieD 8:12 AM  

I enjoyed this very much. Half the fun for me is, as I solve on paper, drawing in little ghosts in the squares.

Quick easy fill with only slight trips where others did as well...rur, raddle.

mac 8:13 AM  

After finding the first ghosts at "give up the ghost" and "pale as a ghost" I drew in cute little ones in the other two spots. Actually they look like gingerbread men.

Considered Ute fan for 23D, and cradle for raddle, but as said before, the crosses were too solid.

Very easy for a Thursday, but a good puzzle.

joho 8:16 AM  

@chefwen ... my first thought at 1A was whitEASAGHOST and I laughed when the actual answer was PALEASAGHOST! Kind of an altered malapop.

Well, I love halloween with all it's ghosts and goblins so this was welcome and fun. I did cringe at some of the fill. Wanted OOO to be bOO.

Thanks, Kurt Mueller, your puzzle had some tricks and was a treat.

jberg 8:20 AM  

This would have been nice on the holiday, but I guess you can't have a rebus on a Monday. Still fun - I'd have got it quicker if I could only train myself to "think seasonal," but I never do, so the seasonal puzzles always take me by surprise.

Like @Rex, I didn't get the rebus until the bottom - for me, 51D, H_ _ _ _ gave it away. I even wondered "what could those two letters after MARLEY be?" The rest was easy, except for my own misspelling of LHASo at 61A (and I know better)! I'm from Wisconsin, and now live in Massachusetts, so Fond Du Lac is not a Natick for me, nor is Natick, for that matter.

Two writeovers - buT for YET at 52A, and the more interesting rAN for WAN at 19A, "Opposite of flushed." I was thinking of toilets instead of faces.

David 8:21 AM  

Enjoyed this one a lot, finished in just over 10 minutes, close to a Thursday record. As often happens with rebus puzzles I got it way down in the South, with GHOSTBUSTERS, and then, like Rex, quickly nailed the others.

Benefited greatly from getting BEANIEBABY and WOODYALLEN with 0 or 1 crosses (though I briefly thought about OSCARWILDE). Confused LHASA APSO with IPSO FACTO and put an "I" in for the "A" at first, fortunately ETRADE easily helped me realize my error.

evil doug 8:25 AM  

Nice one, Kurt.

'Eating out' is a fun phrase on so many levels.

Liked my eternally dead Cubbies crossing Ebert on life and Woody on death. I've senesced to an age where I'm not afraid of death, but I dread inconvenience.

For 44A I wanted "meta-challenge".

Evil

M07S 8:47 AM  

@JaxInL.A. said..."Apparently ravel's archaic meaning is to tangle or become confused." Thank you for that. The meaning I remember for RADDLE is to become confused. That sense of the word no longer seems to be in the dictionary.

This was one of the easiest puzzles I have ever done. No Googles and no hang-ups...except HuiC before HAEC.

Why did we take Latin in high school and is it still offered as a course? And how many of us are still carrying "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres" around in our heads?

jackj 9:01 AM  

An easy puzzle, with ghosts spreading their symmetrical spectralness over the grid, with the best rebus being MARLEYS(ghost), mainly because it preempted the expected and obvious, CASPAR.

The fill was largely dreadful (excepting the pluses of FREEUP and YESINDEED) being HAUNTED by things like HAEC, NLERS, NHL and EERY and further "boos" go to the killer "A's", three letters all, ALB, AHI, ATH, ANT, ASU, AGE, ATF and, saving the worst for last, AUT.

This puzzle, like so many before it, again cries out for an answer to the question, "Has anyone ever actually seen RUR?"

weavergal 9:03 AM  

I'm a longtime weaver and use a tool called a raddle to warp or "set up" my loom. I never knew the word also meant to interweave or twist together. How appropriate. Thank you Kurt.

joho 9:06 AM  

Oh, @Rex, I forgot to mention "The End" bear because I thought you were making it up and was surprised to learn it existed (happily without the "noose-around-neck" or "gun-to-head.")

Sarah 9:08 AM  

Yup -- fun rebus, sucky fill. EERY, really? That's just cheap. On the "these two songs are exactly the same" tip: The Kinks,"All Day and All of the Night" and The Doors "Hello, I Love You" are EXACTLY the same. More obscure and otherwise totally different songs that are essentially the same: Hanson's "MMMBop" and the Indigo Girls' "Galileo" -- you can sing the chorus of both songs at the same time and they have exactly the same chord progressions.

efrex 9:33 AM  

Easily the fastest rebus I've ever cottoned to: (GHOST)WRITERS/(GHOST)OFACHANCE went into the grid with no crossings. Glad it was so easy: I didn't have a pencil, and dong Thursday puzzles in pen often leads to messiness for me. Not today, though: only writeover was TNT for CNN.

Just how many friggin' OLAFs/OLAVs *are* there?

Big honkin' Natick at the LIPARI/RUR cross. *grumblegrumble* How come I'm a big enough nerd to draw my four ghosts as Pacman's Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde, but never heard of RUR before? Oh, well...

Oh, and I would appreciate an explanation of the EAU clue...much obliged!

efrex 9:34 AM  

Easily the fastest rebus I've ever cottoned to: (GHOST)WRITERS/(GHOST)OFACHANCE went into the grid with no crossings. Glad it was so easy: I didn't have a pencil, and dong Thursday puzzles in pen often leads to messiness for me. Not today, though: only writeover was TNT for CNN.

Just how many friggin' OLAFs/OLAVs *are* there?

Big honkin' Natick at the LIPARI/RUR cross. *grumblegrumble* How come I'm a big enough nerd to draw my four ghosts as Pacman's Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde, but never heard of RUR before? Oh, well...

Oh, and I would appreciate an explanation of the EAU clue...much obliged!

quilter1 9:36 AM  

So cute! I was just dropping in words all over the puzzle and tumbled to the rebus at MARLEYS ghost. Then it was easy going to the end.

I like rebuses and didn't mind the old fill. Looked in my big old dictionary for RADDLE but it was not there.

Like, like, like.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Aefrex: Glace is French for ice. Eau is French for water, ice after thawing,

John V 9:48 AM  

So, if it's Thursday, must be a rebus? Hooray!

Easy, save for the middle, ADEUX/XTRA crossing. I cry foul on the clue for ADEUX; should have had some French reference. Stared at _TRA approximately forever and did NOT see the X. LIPARI islands completely new to me, as was RADDLE. Saw the rebus at 1A/8D crossing. Liked INSITU, TSUNAMI.

For today's weather, could have used a FOG rebus. S'bout it. Used up all my words yesterday.

Jp 9:49 AM  

Wow! I got the rebus before I came to this blog. The first ghost to pop up was the GHOST BUSTERS. I needed some googling but for me I'd rate this one as easy. Some ugly fill in NE but nice enough. Never heard of RADDLE or LIPARI.

chefbea 9:54 AM  

I too got the rebus at pale as a ghost.

I knit and crochet but have never heard the term raddle.

Now to make spider treats out of oreos and pretzel sticks. The kids love them

600 10:09 AM  

I caught on to the rebus my first time through, but not until HOLY GHOST. Then it was smooth sailing around all the edges. The center was rough; I figured the Jazz must be a team, but didn't know from where, couldn't remember if it was ADELE or ADELA, never heard of RADDLE or EERY, but they fell to crosses fairly easily. The RUR LIPARI crossing was actually a Natick, but I guessed right and up came Mr. Happy Pencil. No Googling, no checking, an acceptable time: good puzzle!

I loved seeing the Woody Allen quote, and it was a gimme. I repeat that quote often, and with attribution. It's one of my favorite Allenisms, along with "Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering - and it's all over much too soon."

Hand up for trying white as a ghost before crosses brought PALE. Also, I didn't recognize "senesce" so had to wait for crosses there too. Did anyone else have journals before GHOSTWRITERS? I was so delighted when it fit, but of course 27 down made the right answer clear. I tried Jacob Marley too, before I found the rebus, but that wouldn't fit.

Along with JaxinLA, I do wish there had been more ghosts.

@Z--Love that way to remember the Jazz. It might even help me. I'm probably more sports ignorant than @Tobias. So thank you.

Can someone tell me what a malapop is? I keep seeing it used here, and I just can't figure it out . . .

Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

Can't jump on the bandwagon today.
The rebus phrases were OK (except I always hear/say white not pale) but the fill was way too ugly.
Eery? No way.
All-in-all not worth the price of admission.

joho 10:42 AM  

@600 a "malapop" was coined by Andrea Carla Michaels and is what happens when you guess the wrong answer for let's say, 1A, only to find out it is the right answer at another place in the puzzle, let's say 20D.

Matthew G. 10:43 AM  

Thursday record for me. I started the grid with IN BIG, and tore through the northeast like it was a Tuesday. Got the rebus seamlessly at GIVE UP THE GHOST, and tore through the rest.

Only serious hiccup was trying ADELE instead of ADELA. I was thrown off because: (1) my wife likes a singer named ADELE, whereas I've never heard of anyone being named ADELA; and (2) the preferred demonym for a person from Utah is UTAHN, and I wasn't sure whether the non-preferred alternative was UTAHEN or UTAHAN.

Matthew G. 10:45 AM  

Also, how cool is it to have WOODY ALLEN and ROGER EBERT standing side-by-side? My favorite critic and one of the all-time great directors lined up so well.

r.alphbunker 11:00 AM  

@jackj
Re RUR:
No more excuses, here it is: http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/capek/karel/rur/

I have often thought that the knowledge you need to solve a crossword puzzle is a mile wide and an inch deep.

For example, I "discovered" the rebus when I entered GATSBYS [GHOST] off of the _ _ _ _ _ YS _.
I have never read the Great Gatsby but the phrase felt familiar and that was enough. There aren't any ghosts in the book are there?

But nonetheless GATSBY got me [GHOST] and was soon corrected. Like @John V mentioned a while back solving a crossword puzzle can be a risk taking enterprise. You can't be afraid of writing wrong answers.

syndy 11:06 AM  

sometimes crossword puzzles have three letter entries-get over it.such a joy,and I like learning new words-so RADDLE is a plus,LIPARI Isles would have been if there was any chance of my retaining it.I only wish I could have done this on paper so that I too could have drawn cute little ghosties!( I insisited on typing G H O S T knowing only the GH was going in.

TimJim 11:12 AM  

Too much yuck in the puzzle, and the rebus didn't sing for me, although I got it. I did like the long fill. RUR and LIPARI was a personal Natick. I've seen RUR in crosswords many times but never remember it. (A "classic play"? Really?) Yesterday's theme was cleverer.

Steven D Skelton 11:13 AM  

The puzzle was obviously in reference to the upcoming release of Modern Warfare 3 and the playing public's sadness that the character "Ghost" is truly dead and not coming back.

jesser 11:21 AM  

I got the trick at PALE AS A GHOST, and then pretty much tore through it with no writeovers. The R in RADDLE was the last letter to fall, and only because it had to be an R to make FREE did I commit to it.

My nit is at 16A, because I do not think the answer fits the clue. I'm sure, for instance that -- had my life taken different turns -- I could have ADAPTED TO, say, prison or homelessness, but I don't think I'd ever be 'comfortable with' either one.

Crazy day today, so this is all I have, except for responses to three comments about my soon-to-be car that I saw yesterday before heading home, so: @Two Ponies -- I'll be pimpin'!; @CoffeeLvr -- Thanks! and @ArchaeoProf -- I love that old Cash nugget!

@Rex and Rexville: Happy Thursday!

Chip Hilton 11:24 AM  

I enjoyed the ghosts - quick and easy. But 2 crossings left me clueless. LIPARI and RUR, TNT and ATF.

I remember seeing some islands off the Amalfi Coast while touring there. We were told they were once owned by Rudolf Nureyev. So, Amalfi was my first and only hopeful guess.

Good luck to everyone in tomorrow's PB Sweepstakes.

andrea cyrano michaels 11:24 AM  

Fabulous!!!!!!!!!

Got off to a shaky start as I had PADS so put in PAnicked for 1A,
but did not GIVEUPTHEghost so quickly got the rebus and loved loved loved it!
TIMELY!
And a small BOO to those who thought 4 rebuseseses was scant!!! I mean, there were EIGHT phrases with GHOSTS!!! Only one missing practically was Casper (but then someone might complain there was both MARLEYS and Casper!)
Seriously, BOO again for being even mildly disappointed (tho I love you otherwise ms JaxinLA)

And those long downs...WOW.

I too made the LLASA mistake, and felt rattled by RADDLE, but I even like that RADDLE sounded like "rattle" which again goes perfectly with ghosts who rattle their chains!

And getting EERY in there too was brilliant, regardless of the variation! (tho small nod to @Mararajamack that it is about making it fit)

Also stumble as I tried to fit BEANbagBABY...how soon we forget!

Anyway, were I the ROGEREBERT of crosswords, I'd give this two thumbs way way way up and would add a couple of big toes too!

PHANTASTIC!

Stan 12:06 PM  

Enjoyed it! A well-executed theme to kick off Trick-or-Treat season justifies some less-than-ideal fill (grout).

AUT = cross between an AUK and an ORT.

Masked and "HAEC" Anonymous 12:28 PM  

OOO... (HAEC.) NAE, AHI knowed AHI was INBIG LIPARI sh*t (HAEC), WHENI got throwed AUT on my RUR ("EAU!" -- landed with a RADDLE) down ATH ye olde pub. (HAEC.) LOD HEB mercy, ADELA, ASU so often LAC to say, AHI'm just an old SOD (HAEC) always REDA to SITU ATF down to have an XTRA round. (HAEC.) USSR.
:)

600 12:28 PM  

@joho--Thanks. I'm putting that in my own personal "do not forget" file.

@andreacyrano--Don't take offense that some of us (me--JaxinLA can speak for herself) would have liked more ghosts! I realize there were eight ghost phrases as is, but it was so much fun that I wanted more. Didn't Mae West say something like too much of a good thing is wonderful? Well, it would have been.

I also tried to fit BEANbagBABY in the space available. You're right--how quickly we forget.

@MO7--Your memory is way less holey than mine: from Latin, I remember "agricolam amo."

@Chip Hilton--I thought winners had already been notified. Am I misinformed?

exterfin--what the handicapped dolphin had?

foodie 12:37 PM  

Best line ever (IMO) comes from Ghostbusters :" Back off man, I'm a scientist!"

Fun, fun puzzle, RADDLE notwithstanding

foodie 12:39 PM  

PS. At one point I had a rebus in the center: GhosthUNTEr instead of HAUNTEd

Masked and Anonymous 12:49 PM  

P.S. Part 1 really needs an "EERY" between "ASU" and "so", for completeness.

Spooks! ThUmbsUp. Where's PacMan?

Mel Ott 1:05 PM  

I like rebuses, so I really enjoyed this. I would usually crab about the stacked proper names in the SW, but they were easy - so no harm no foul I guess.

RADDLE is a totally new word to me. Thank you.

@Tobias et al: That's also why the team that was at one time known as the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers ends up in a city devoted to the automobile. (I'm old enough to remember trolleys in Brooklyn.)

rjbrunner 1:35 PM  

I enjoyed leaving the GHOST squares empty. It gave this fun puzzle an unfinished though complete feel. Eery and haunted.

Sparky 1:36 PM  

Hand up for drawing little ghosts. I love it when a rebus gives you a cat or a pine tree, some easy shape. Tried JacobMARLEY first. Saw rebus at GIVEUPTHEGHOST, so that filled in 47A. Searched out others after that.

Thanks for demonym @Matthew G. Didn't know that word and have trouble figuring out how to spell them. Guessed on the A; lucky for me.

@chefbea. I kept a few Beanie Babies too, three birds and a Santa, for which I paid $25! And I was in my '60s.

@jackj. Never saw RUR but did see The Insect Comedy starring Jose Ferrar.

Truly enjoyed this Thursday. Thanks Kurt. I believe I can go on.

archaeoprof 1:59 PM  

Didn't Ray Parker pay a settlement to Huey Lewis for that song?

Here's to Latin teachers everywhere.

Or, put differently, "Back off, man, I teach Latin!"

Evan 2:07 PM  

@ Chip Hilton and 600:

Yes, the winners of the PB crossword contest have already been notified. Per Will Shortz:

"For the record, we received 4,763 entries in the contest, of which 4,555 were correct.

I looked at every one of these myself, except for about the last 700, which my assistant helped me with on Monday.

Drawing methodology

Insanely, I decided to make a list of all the correct solvers — all 4,555 of them — by copying and pasting their names into a document. This took all weekend and half of Monday. My arm is killing me! The result fills 88 pages of 52 names each.

The number 52 suggested a deck of cards. My assistant and I randomly selected 25 page numbers. Then we drew cards from a deck to select particular names on those pages. (Diamonds represented names 1-13, clubs 14-26, etc.)

The 25 lucky people chosen in this way have all been notified by e-mail now.

Their names will appear in Wordplay on Friday, along with a final, brief contest wrap-up, including some of my favorite comments from solvers."

jackj 2:14 PM  

r.alphbunker-

Thanks for the link but I'll pass on reading more than RUR's title page.

mac 2:53 PM  

@Evan: for a moment I thought you were doing all that worked and I was going to suggest you get a life!

Chip Hilton 3:00 PM  

@Evan: Thanks for the update. I stand corrected (and, sadly, uncontacted).

jae 3:12 PM  

@andrea & jberg -- Me too for needing to fix LHASO.

RI Squasher 3:22 PM  

Long time reader, first time commenter. I got laid off from my job in April and decided to use the extra time to improve my squash game and do the puzzle every day. I sat down with my first Monday those many months ago having done about 5 Times puzzles in my life, and never finishing one. That day was a struggle but since then I've improved enough to do Mon. usually in about 10 minutes and Tues. in about 20. I can always do Wed., sometimes quickly, sometimes with some work. Thurs. and Sun. are rarely quick and require a lot of work (I barely bother with Fri. or Sat.) In fact Sundays usually take a very long time and I have given myself a deadline of Tuesday at noon to either be done with it or put it down once and for all (No, I don't work on the puzzle every minute of the day between Sunday and Tuesday).

One thing that always trips me up is a rebus, I just don't ever think about it while I'm solving. When I did the B/W puzzle last week I had most of it but just didn't see the B/W thing and gave up. However, today I really felt like all my solving skills honed over the last several months came together. At 51D/69A I knew something weird was going on and started to look at the other spots where things just didn't fit as I had them written in already (like 1A/8D). Then it just clicked. I did have some problems with the rest of the fill but some things came to me that two months ago I never would have gotten and ALB has finally stopped tripping me up (I had never heard that word before doing puzzles). It took me longer than it apparently took most of you but it was very satisfying to write in the last D in PARED (RADDLE is a new word to me).

I've learned over the last few months that while you need a lot of general knowledge to do these there are also some tricks you need to learn, different ways of using your brain, which is great and fun.

The other pleasant surprise of doing the puzzle everyday is reading this, and other, blogs and getting to (virtually) know some of you just by reading your comments. I found myself rooting for Joon on Jeopardy as if he were my best friend.

As much as I need a job soon I'm enjoying the time I have to do things like this and my only hope is that when I do get something my new boss will understand that I'll need some time every day to do the puzzle.

(Sorry for the long post)

sanfranman59 3:55 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Thu 12:01, 19:04, 0.63, 2%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 6:40, 9:19, 0.72, 9%, Easy

@RI ... Welcome aboard and don't be a stranger. Sorry to hear of your employment woes. Yours is an all-too-common plight these days.

Keep plugging away at the puzzles that are tough for you. You'll be completing Fridays and Saturdays in no time. When I began doing NYT puzzles several years ago, I could only rarely solve a Friday and never a Saturday (without consulting with my Uncle Google, that is). In 2011, I've successfully solved 75% of Fridays and about 60% of Saturdays. In case you don't know it already, Thursday puzzles tend to have some kind of gimmick to them (often a rebus). So be on the lookout. The only other day of the week where you might occasionally see a rebus is Sunday.

mac 4:06 PM  

@SanFranMan: you took the words right out of my mouth! (No, this is not Meatloaf). Welcome, @RI Squasher!

chefbea 4:15 PM  

Welcome @RI Squasher. Glad to have you in Rexville.

David 4:37 PM  

@RI Squasher, right on!! Your recent experiences and progress mirror mine once I got hooked on these damn things. Keep it up, you'll be celebrating an error-free Friday before you know it....

Lewis 4:39 PM  

I've heard of red ants and black ants, but never white ants...

captcha: gynco -- no comment

fergus 4:40 PM  

Often with a rebus I draw a picture in the square, though today I started with Ghos.. when I ought to have drawn my own tiny icon. Reminds me of when I first figured out a rebus, perhaps 30 years ago with the letters PAN, which showed up the next day in the solution with their own little Q representation. That blogoshpere, back in the early 1980s, was three or four others at work, or a housemate who most thoroughly enjoyed our communal subscription to the new slick national edition of the NYT. Reminds me also of how instantaneously we expect feedback in current communications.


captcha is miamb = so many amusing allusions, with sophisticated and crude wordplay suggested

joho 4:43 PM  

@RI Squasher ... so glad you spoke up, look forward to hearing more you!

Stan 5:35 PM  

@RISquasher: You rock! Thanks for posting.

But I think your hope to solve puzzles on the company clock might be unrealistic.

Z 6:09 PM  

@RISquasher - Welcome. How's the squash game? I only did Sunday's for a long time until "Natick" led me to Uncle Google who led me to Rex.

For me M-W is done before work with my coffee. Thursday is usually a before work with coffee, sometimes I have to come back to it after work. Friday is a before work start, after work finish most of the time. Saturday's I enjoy with coffee and soccer. I still have to rely on uncle Google or uncle Rex most Saturdays.

Lots of references to Natick today - I saw a semi-truck from the second most famous crossword suburb, Edina, nearly cause an accident today on the Southfield Freeway. What's it say about me and my nerd card carrying status that my immediate thought on seeing the town on the door of a semi was "Minneapolis suburb?"

acme 6:28 PM  

I was in Boston this weekend celebrating my mom's 80th. We passed Natick and I painstakingly explained what that had come to mean on the blog (after I explained the blog!) and got a resounding silence and total non-interest (lest I use dis/un incorrectly).
So, once again I say, thank god for this blog!
(I even weakly tried to explain that some people even enjoy my comments!)
;)

fergus 6:32 PM  

Time passes and while the quality of your write-ups has attained virtual perfection, the commentary has become neutralized. Look back a couple of years ago to see how you orchestrated the dialogue .. Mista Rex?

Quite congenial currently nonetheless, yet this blog is in need of some provocation, to become as stimulating as it once was.

chefbea 7:58 PM  

Time for the cards!!!! Hope they win tonight!!!

fergus 8:22 PM  

Baseball guy in me with nothing at stake wants a seventh game, yet I want the Texas team to prevail.

I'll stumble down to an appropriate bar to witness the denouement.

Stan 8:27 PM  

We love your comments, Andrea!!!! (Note the punctuational homage.)

Funny image of you trying to explain the blog while driving through Natick. Happy birthday to your mom.

jackj 9:48 PM  

RI Squasher-

Welcome and congratulations on the way you're tackling the puzzles.

Since I went through my own crash course when I first decided to become adept at solving these rascally rebuses, (and all the other puzzles offered), I have found it was definitely worth the effort.

You might want to consider expanding your solving to include the CrossSynergy and LA Times daily puzzles to give you additional insight into the cluing game as played by some of the other talented constructors/editors.

sanfranman59 10:01 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:21, 6:51, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:08, 8:52, 0.80, 3%, Easy (4th lowest median solve time of 123 Tuesdays)
Wed 10:10, 11:49, 0.86, 21%, Easy-Medium
Thu 12:01, 19:04, 0.63, 2%, Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 124 Thursdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:35, 3:40, 0.98, 44%, Medium
Tue 3:55, 4:34, 0.86, 7%, Easy (9th lowest median solve time of 123 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:29, 5:51, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium
Thu 6:21, 9:19, 0.68, 4%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 124 Thursdays)

JaxInL.A. 9:50 AM  

@acme, (tongue firmly in cheek)

Hey, 8 is the new 3 for theme answers, right?

I didn't say it was reasonable (says the non-constructor).

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

Spacecraft here: I LIKED this puzzle. It was fun to do, even though easier than most of the ones I enjoy.
If I ever knew the WOODYALLEN quote, I forgot it, but when I saw it I thought: that sounds like something Woody Allen would say. Then later when I came back and filled in crosses, OMG it was him all along!
Glommed onto the theme while coming up with the trinity member. FATHER was one too many letters; SON was two too few. Holy ****! Who ya gonna call? And I was off to the races.
But for the unfortunate NLERS (pardon me while I go AAAUUUGH!!), I'd have given this one two thumbs up, a la ROGEREBERT. Sorry, dude. A thumb and a half is it.

custest: what gangs give recruits to see how bad they can talk

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

This puzzle was a bust for me. I couldn't get anything to fit. I suspected it might be a rebus, but couldn't figure out where. Had to go on line to get most of it. Hated it!

Dirigonzo 4:26 PM  

@Spacecraft - Had I arrived here before you I was going to toss NLERS up as a big, juicy softball for you to take a swing at but I see you got it on you own.

I hadn't tumbled to the rebus yet when I arrived at Trinity member and "ghost" fit so that messed me until _BUSTERS came along to set me straight.

Let's see what Rex was doing on the first day of December in 2006:
- "Solving time: around 25 minutes"
- "Another crossword constructor whose name sounds suspiciously like a pseudonym. "Nothnagel" is also an anagram of HANG NOLTE! NOLTE is a not infrequent Guest of the Grid (he was here just a few days ago). I'm quite pro-NOLTE, so naturally I'm a little suspicious of Mr. "Nothnagel's" true motivations. Luckily for him, his puzzle has done nothing to rankle me. It's really tough in parts, but (mostly) fair, and even, in parts, impressively clever."
- "ALL OF MY ANSWERS WERE WRONG. I'm not even going to bother relating how I figured that out. Let's just say it took me a while. Oh, I will say that part of my problem was that I could Not convince myself that the answer to 15A: Celebrated smiler was really MONALISA. "Too obvious," I thought. "That's a trap." ... said the already trapped solver to the Gimme that was trying to rescue him."
- "Here we come to my only beef with this otherwise tricky-but-fair puzzle: my most hated of puzzle phenomenon: abutting geographical obscurities. I am sure that champion solvers do not blink when they see 46A: Town SE of Sacramento (Ione) and (lord help me) 49A: Ukrainian hub (Lvov), but the only IONE I know is SKYE, and the only LVOV I know is that choking sound my dog makes sometimes."
- "Any puzzle that crosses ALTO SAX (12D: Cannonball Adderley played it) and CEMENT MIXER (It goes around at a construction site) at the "X" deserves at least a solid pat on the back."
- Rex said this in reply to a comment from @Linda G: "While I am TRIM and FINE, my nose is not red."

Anonymous 9:49 PM  

DK!

Minnesotans never say Minnesotians. That's almost as bad as Utahan for Utahn.

Anonymous 1:47 AM  

akpeds

@Masked and "HAEC" Anonymous: Thank you, that was hysterical!
@ RI Squasher: here in syndication land, 6 weeks later: welcome. Am just a little ahead of you on the solving curve, but I don't time myself, since I then get upset if I get interrupted during solving, and also I think I might get so competitive as to not enjoy the whole experience as much. It is great fun to read comments and feel part of the "tribe".

Masked and Anonymous Comes Clean 2:09 PM  

M&A Travelin' back thru time, to explain hisself...

OOO... (HAEC.) NAE, AHI knowed AHI was INBIG LIPARI sh*t (HAEC), WHENI got throwed AUT on my RUR ("EAU!" -- landed with a RADDLE) down ATH ye olde pub. (HAEC.) LOD HEB mercy, ADELA, ASU EERY so often LAC to say, AHI'm just an old SOD (HAEC) always REDA to SITU ATF down to have an XTRA round. (HAEC.) USSR.
:)

This was me bein' goofy, with the oofy fill bits in this puz.
Translation:
Yikes... (hic) No, I knowed I was in big, slippery sh*t (hic), when I got throwed out on my rear ("Ow!" -- landed with a rattle) down at ye olde pub. (hic) Lord have mercy, Adela, as you every so often like to say, I'm just an old sot (hic) always ready to sit my ass down to have an extra round. (hic) Yessir.

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