Bacteriologist Paul who coined word Chemotherapy / THU 2-7-13 / Regular in Judd Apatow comedies / Flanders Kelly / Tinseltown terrier / William Steig book on which hit 2001 film was based

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Constructor: David Levinson Wilk

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging 


THEME: H & R BLOCK (67A: Subject of the Final Jeopardy! question that knocked out Ken Jennings after a record 74 wins ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) — an "HR" rebus, with six "HR" squares (and an ampersand [!] for good measure)

Word of the Day: Paul E[HR]LICH (64A: Bacteriologist Paul who coined the word "chemotherapy") —
Paul Ehrlich (born 14 March 1854 in Strehlen near Breslau – died 20 August 1915 in Bad Homburg vor der Höhe) was a German physician and scientist who worked in the fields of hematologyimmunology, and chemotherapy. He invented the precursor technique to Gram staining bacteria, and the methods he developed for staining tissue made it possible to distinguish between different type of blood cells, which led to the capability to diagnose numerous blood diseases. His laboratory discoveredArsphenamine (Salvarsan), the first effective medicinal treatment for syphilis, thereby initiating and also naming the concept of chemotherapy. Ehrlich popularized the concept of a “magic bullet”. He also made a decisive contribution to the development of an antiserum to combat diphtheria and conceived a methodology for standardizing therapeuticserums. In 1908 he received a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his contributions to immunology.(wikipedia)
• • •

From now until May, Thursday write-ups will tend to be fairly brief, as I have a very early morning and thus need to get to bed reasonably early quickly if I'm going to both get up on time and be useful to anyone. I rather liked this puzzle. The "&" acted (oddly) like an exclamation point, punctuating an already unusual puzzle with the unusual inclusion of a non-letter square. You almost never see such a thing. In fact, I can remember only one time where "&" was in a puzzle, and it was in a tournament context, not in the NYT proper. I'm sure it's been done before in the NYT, but ... I can't recall when. Anyway, nice touch. I really really don't like the clue on H&R BLOCK at all. There's something winky and insidery and elitist-seeming about it. Who follows Ken Jennings (a smart, funny guy, from what I can tell from Twitter and other venues) so slavishly that they know this absurd bit of trivia? Don't answer, as maybe it's you, but ... this is not a thing one should be expected to know. It's absurd. On the other hand, by the time I got to the clue, I knew the theme, and so when HUMAN RESOURCES didn't fit, H&R BLOCK was the next logical choice, so belonging to the KJ fan club ended up not being necessary to solve this baby. Now, if you had No idea there was a rebus involved, then it *might* have been nice to have the revealer be a little more ... gettable by the average human being. My time was pretty normal for a Thursday rebus puzzle, which is to say somewhat above average, but not inordinately so.


As is typical for me with rebuses, I had a slow start. Just a couple of answers in the NW and little else. Ironically, SETH ROGEN was the first face that popped into my mind at 17A: Regular in Judd Apatow comedies, but he didn't fit, so I ditched it. Had TEENAGER in there at one point (thinking of the legendary "Freaks & Geeks" rather than any of Apatow's movies). Anyway, even after I got the theme, I was a little worried I wouldn't be able to get into that corner. How am I supposed to know the [State that is home to the Natl. Teachers Hall of Fame]?! (it's KAN). But ASHRAM saved me—and got me to see SETH ROGEN. First picked up the theme at SLEIGH RIDE. After that, none of the "HR" squares presented much trouble. GEHRIG and SHREK (58D: William Steig book on which a hit 2001 film was based) and NEPHROLOGIST and NEHRU (11D: Prime minister who gave his name to an article of clothing) were all gimmes.

Bullets:
  • 34A: Tinseltown terrier (ASTA) — sightings of this dog have declined quite a bit—or so it seems—since I started blogging (over six years ago). This is a good thing.
  • 41A: Home of the Azadi Tower (TEHRAN) — Just a note to say: AZADI! That's some nice Fri/Sat fill.
  • 60A: "Little" name in 1960s pop (EVA) — I think I learned about her name from crosswords, though I certainly knew her music well before that.
  • 5D: Props used in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (NOOSES) — answers here seemed theoretically infinite. First thought: SERAPES (PONCHOS?). 
  • 57D: Flanders and Kelly (NEDS) — an ultra-religious toon and an Australian outlaw. Nice pairing.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

89 comments:

jae 12:04 AM  

Yes!  An excellent Thurs.  Tricky, funny, zippy, risqué...SEETHRU, NAKED, DAME, TUGSON, EEK...

Did not see the Jeopardy episode so had to work for the reveal.  Still came in at medium for me with SW being the toughest. 

Erasures:  hand for FLAG, TUGSat for ON, Tell for TRIP

WOE guy: EHRLICH

I would argue that TLC is a bigger source than A & E ( Honey Boo Boo anyone), but that's picking nits.

Wanna bet Mr. Wilk put in 66d just to annoy Rex. 

Best clue I've seen so far for 29d:  When pigs fly in Germany?

Again, extremely entertaining Thurs. from Mr. Wilk! 

Anonymous 12:10 AM  

Loved this puzzle! Got the theme at ASHRAM, followed by NEHRU, and the rest just followed lickety-split, except for LI'L EVe for EVA. Only nit to pick was the revealer at 67a: H&RBLOCK was the answer (question) on Final Jeopardy, not the subject, which was Business and Industry.

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

On re-reading 67a, i take back my nit @12:10.

L V Cleef 12:21 AM  

NOOSES were a major prop in TGTB&TU. Eli Wallach was forever about to be hanged until Clint Eastwood shot the rope, it was their scam and a major part of the movie.

I, however, was forever bad.

retired_chemist 12:22 AM  

I whine foul. Using AL's ability o insert multiple letters in one square, I put H [AND] R BLOCK/A [AND] E in the requisite square. No dice with AL. After about 2 1/2 minutes I demanded the reveal of the incorrect letter. An AMPERSAND? And AL won't accept [AND]? Bah.

Overall, the puzzle was very good. Basically junk-free fill. A number of interesting answers: TEHRAN, ARMANI, EHRLICH/SHREK, and more.

Got the rebus early at NE[HR]U.

Good job, Mr.Wilk. Thanks.

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

Got the theme at NEHRU and was off and running! Have we ever seen NEPHROLOGIST in the NYT? What a really great word. Loved the ampersand, despite having first entered AND in that block -- that cost me some serious time while Mr. Happy Pencil failed to appear and I searched the grid in vain for an error. Yes and Yes to Azadi! Dad before PAS, but ANTHRACITE off just the A! Enjoyed this puzzle a lot, though my time was wretched for a Thursday. I blame it on the late hour and the Dogfish Head 120 I'm enjoying after rehearsal and during solve. Thanks, Mr. Wilk!

-- FearlessKim

Evan 12:33 AM  

I found this easier than normal for a Thursday. I almost never have a normal solving time for a rebus -- it's either easy or ridiculously hard for me. Don't know why that is.

Pretty fun outing today, though! I wonder how long ago this was submitted to the Times -- I can't help but imagine that David Levinson Wilk originally put this together shortly after Ken Jennings finally lost in November 2004. While solving, I took a peek at the revealer clue early on and my first thought was that the question had to do with Greyhound Buses. I never watched Jennings during his winning streak, though I remember watching a YouTube clip of his final show a long time ago. His guess on the question that eliminated him was "What is FedEx?"

Love the clues for OLE and SNOBS. Among stuff I didn't like, there's ADDN, I'M TO, OSE, and the ING/EEK/DNA/NFL/KAN combo -- get me some non-abbreviations there! I personally didn't care for the HRS at 66-Down -- it's an outlier compared to the other H&R BLOCKs in the grid (and yes, @jae, I thought Rex was gonna carp on that, too). And the EHRLICH/ELBE seems like it could be a tough cross, given how many 4-letter European rivers there are to remember. Other than that, pretty good stuff all around.

Jim 12:33 AM  

Could not get cactus out of my mine for 5 down as I don't think they had them in Italy and would have had to use props.

Michaela 1:08 AM  

I'll cop to knowing the Ken Jennings trivia. I remembered his explanation of why he lost -- the question was about a company that employs most of its employees seasonally, and he said he does his own taxes so it never occurred to him. It was an amusingly mundane way to lose after collecting $2M in winnings.

...just me then?

Armani Carla Mannas 2:34 AM  

I took 66D HRS as an extra reveal, little tie-in wink!

Loved this, so sophisticated to cross ASHRAM and SETHROGEN! SLEIGHRIDE with SINGLETHREAD!
NEPHROLOGIST with ANTHRACITE!
GEHRIG and TEHRAN!
WOW. HuRRaH!

Lucky I got what was happening in the NW corner at ASHRAM, bec if I had to rely just on downs, I would have shot myself, so heavy on sports.
AL WEST this, AL EAST that, REESE and GEHRIG, NFL and HRS... but when I looked over the grid at the end, not ONE across clue was sports-related!
ARI and HRS could have withstood nonsports clues, but whatever.

@ret chem
I also wrote in AND... advantage of doing on paper, ain't no one to tell you it's an incorrect square!

Is no one gonna comment that the first and last words are NAKED ASSES?! EEK!
:)

retired_chemist 2:44 AM  

@ Armani Carla Mannas - and right above NAKED is DAME.

Evan 2:52 AM  

@acme:

Why stop there? You've got a trifecta -- NAKED, ASSES, and the latter is clued by "boobs."

(Should I bring up the fact that the other corner answer SKEETS has a dirtier definition than what they gave, too?)

Ashram Cot Mattes 3:07 AM  

@ret Chem
Yes, I noticed DAME, but it was Julie Andrews, so I didn't want to go there! ;)

@evan
no! That Urban Dictionary has ruined every word in the English language!

Anyway, back to how fabulous this puzzle is...
(except for non-German speakers, NIE/SIE might have been a little trouble, nicht WAHR?)

Joma 4:04 AM  

Got all the HR clues, nice one there. But boo for the ampersand. I was already thinking A AND E, but couldn't figure out the Ken Jennings clue. Nice Thursday puzzle, could have been nicer though :-)

Jim 7:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim 7:08 AM  

Way up my alley today. Great, not good, puzzle in the execution. Dropped in ARMANI in 2 secs and had SET[HR]OGEN in another 2, and we were off to the races.

Biggest delay came in confidently putting in phrenOLOGIST, which is especially stupid, since my ex-girlfriend is a kidney doc. Phrenologists are memorable, instead, as we all know, because they feel and interpret the size of Walt's asshole

Milford 7:34 AM  

Fun puzzle, pretty easy. Got the theme at NEHRU, when I first thought it was some alternate spelling NERU, but then that made for SEETRU, which was a little silly. Loved all the HR words, especially ASHRAM and NEPHROLOGiST.

I love SETH ROGEN, too - made the puzzle fairly current, he was in a Superbowl ad for Samsung with Paul Rudd and Bob Odenkirk. I also don't think he was well known in 2004, unless you count Freaks and Geeks, so I don't think the puzzle could be too old.

Biggest write over was mtv before tlc before A&E.

Funny, I didn't get tripped up by the &, maybe because I was thinking that is what is actually used in the company name?

I personally liked the TUGS ON / NAKED cross.

Danp 7:34 AM  

A better clue for H&RBLOCK might have been "Most of its employees only work 4 months a year", the question Ken Jennings couldn't get.

Rob C 7:41 AM  

Very nice puzzle all around - theme, fill, revealer. Can't ask for more on a Thurs. And it had the LEANEST ASSES on POSING NAKED DAMEs! Yeah, I know it's been beaten to death already.

TEHRAN slowed me down a bit. I always thought it was TEHeRAN, so I tried other possibilites before accepting it. Just looked it up, I see that it is an alternate spelling.

baja 7:42 AM  

Very clever & loved it & would like to see more puzzles like this!

Milford 7:44 AM  

Forgot to say, I also liked the inclusion of the extra HR in 66D HRS.

Plus there is the elegance in HR being the rebus squares, or BLOCKs - that is to say, the puzzle has several HR BLOCKs. :)

Susan McConnell 8:32 AM  

Fun, and an easier than usual Thursday for me, loved the clue for OLE. Got the rebus at SEETHRU, and good thing too, because it helped get the others. Great job, Mr. Wilk!

jackj 8:32 AM  

Hallelujah! Will t(HR)ows us a bone by giving Thursday fans a long hoped for Rebus.

With a smattering of baseball clues providing the likes of REESE, ATL, ARI, and GE(HR)IG and with an apparent reveal of “Smash hits:Abbr.” for HRS to confirm the rebus, things begin to fall in place until we learn that the true reveal is based on something else, the question that ended Ken Jennings winning streak on Jeopardy! Huh?

And then, mirroring those tricky constructors, (can you say Henry Hook), who like to occasionally confuse solvers by including numbers in their puzzles, David Levinson Wilk kicks it up a notch by forcing us to find a lurking ampersand in the theme’s reveal answer and surprise, surprise we learn the theme is based on H&RBLOCK, the people’s CPA.

Who knew that HR words could be so interesting, with the likes of AS(HR)AM, GE(HR)IG, NE(HR)U, S(HR)EK and NEP(HR)OLOGIST lighting up the grid?

But David doesn’t rest on his rebus laurels as the grid is also packed with the liveliness of MANNA, ARMANI and Super Bowl national anthem songstress, ALICIA Keys (nicely clued as “Keys on a keyboard”).

Then, moving right along we’re treated to DISTILL, a crosswordy entry of DNA, made respectable with a clue of “Test subj.” and an entry that might have been clued as “A favorite Obama sport”, SKEETS, (had it been known before this past weekend).

A fun, clever bit of charm that was the quintessential Rebuzzle!

Thanks, David Levinson Wilk.

JohnV 8:32 AM  

Andy Kravis, Westport champ, did this one in 6:45 at the white board. He wrote in the word AND rather than the ampersand. I got stuck at that spot.

Zero here today. Think I will eschew skiing and read today.

h_lina_k 8:44 AM  

Normally at this point in the week I am finishing in 30 minutes(I am not as fast as y'all). But today I was rocking it, finished in 11, and it wouldn't submit. I scoured the grid for 15 damn minutes looking for a mistake, and when I finally cheated it turned out I had "and" and they wanted "&." That was really annoying.

evil doug 8:50 AM  

Thought it might be baseball abbreviations---especially when Pee Wee Reese showed up. But Lou Geh/rig at once lent itself to, and then precluded, that possibility. My son's a human resources guy, but hard to believe that would be the theme.

I don't mind sports stuff, obviously---especially when it's notable people like Pee Wee (who stood tall by Jackie Robinson when the going was tough) or Lou (an all-timer). But I kind of have to agree with ACME now on the tedious ATL/ARI/NFL/HRs constantly infecting our grids. Sports, like rap, is legit if the names pop up regularly in the news or have historical value. ('Alicia' Keys was historically bad at the Super Bowl; maybe lip-syncing isn't such a bad idea after all. Time limits for the Anthem might also be worth considering....)

Kansas as home of the Teachers HOF is a nice tidbit. Also where Brown vs (Topeka) Board of Education originated---speaking of Jackie Robinson and 'All men....'

Evil

MetaRex 8:52 AM  

H & R BLOCK...What a great, precise reveal! It makes all other reveals suffer by comparison.

What JohnV said...the Westport tournament has gone on for six days now with the MTW and TH puzzles that we did last Saturday in the library basement. For anyone who's curious to read some more and to see a pic of Andy Kravis and the other supersolvers Glen Ryan and Peter Rimkus--

The Westport Grand Finale




B Donohue 9:12 AM  

This was a great puzzle, except for the "&". I missed a few tiles including mANNA.

I need to learn how to insert all letters (not just the first letter) for REBUS answers in the on-line grid; that should allow me to solve REBUS puzzles faster... I just found an explanatory link: http://wordplay.blogs.nytimes.com/rebus/. It looks like the easiest thing to do is to just use the "Insert" button on my PC.

How about INSERT for "PC key used to solve rebuses?"

Notsofast 9:22 AM  

For a Thursday, this was a cupcake. "&" was the cherry on top! A

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Sorry - cannot forgive the &. Not a theme - used once - and there is already another theme. Cannot get past that

Carola 9:39 AM  

Liked it! Wowed by the many "HR" crosses - nice constructing feat! Caught on at the NEHRU/SEETHRU cross. Had trouble in the punch line area, with Vcr tape crossing reusABLE ziploc bags. Got that sorted out but see that I DNF after all, as I wrote in the word "AND" instead of using "&."

Liked the combination of words relating to possible wardrobe malfunctions - flimsy SINGLE-THREAD stitching, SEE-THRU, DARN - hopefully not applicable to an ARMANI suit. Thought the ANTHRACITE/ NEPHROLOGIST cross was super.

@Milford - Thanks for pointing out the HR "blocks"!

@Evil Doug - Totally agree with you about the anthem time limit.

dk 9:42 AM  

JohnV, travel tips. Go into Warren and visit the Warren Store. Go to American pie and see the most beautiful young women in VT work in sweet soaked t-shirts. You will eschew Acme's NAKED ASSES in a NSEC.

FYI: Sugarbush was once known as Mascara Mountain back in the days of ski bunnies.

Many pleasant memories of Mad River and the single chair… well and there was the skinny dipping in the creek: Hi Kate!

Very nice puzzle. I wish the H&R file had a bit of tax info as the clue along with Jennings. Only as I am getting a refund this year. But, no matter.

������ (3 Stars) Positive RH factor

Laurence Katz 10:10 AM  

Liked it a lot. And the non-rebus HRs (67d) added to the fun.
Seems to me that ASTA is making a comeback. This is the 3rd time the doggie has shown up in the last week or two.

Jon Stine 10:13 AM  

That was a great Thursday puzzle, other than reminding me about income taxes. :(

Matthew G. 10:18 AM  

I love David Levinson Wilk. We don't see him nearly often enough in the NYT lately, but he makes up in quality what is missing in quantity. Every one of his clues has a little twitch of the eyebrows.

This is one of the best rebuses I can recall. Not too much to add!

I sniffled a little at "Hip, hip, Jorge!" A cheer I'll never get to use in person again.

Sandy K 10:25 AM  

Loved this puzzle!

Got the HR rebus at GEHRIG, which helped me get AWL the others- which I thought were great theme answers and mostly good fill.

Knowing H&R BLOCK is not an absurd bit of trivia, and I hardly follow Ken Jennings "slavishly" on Twitter or anywhere else.

My husband and I watch Jeopardy and were stunned when Ken Jennings ended his winning streak when he got this one wrong. For that reason, it is memorable.

And to constuct a puzzle around this theme SEEMs a DARN good feat! Good one, Mr. Wilk!

600 10:28 AM  

I love rebuses! It makes my Thursday to find one in the puzzle.

Knew something was up at NEPHROLOGIST but didn't confirm it until the second time through when I saw SETH ROGEN and ASHRAM. Then it was Katie bar the door until the last square: yes, the ampersand. I tried "and" and even "n." I could not believe there would be an ampersand. (I too solve in AL, so share @retired_chemist's frustration that Mr. Happy Pencil wouldn't accept AND--though I know the name of the company uses "&." But I've seen A AND E in the puzzle before, and the name of the station is A & E, so I think we can be forgiven our frustration.)

But it doesn't matter. A rebus! I'm a happy camper.

I did have a bit of trouble with little EVA. I wondered what was up when "Anthony" and "Richard" wouldn't fit. But EVA finally manifested herself.

And thanks, @ACME, for pointing out the NAKED ASSES. I missed that.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

"There's something winky and insidery and elitist-seeming about it."

Yeah, kinda like when you said "caesura" was any easy clue because you teach poetry.

Perhaps you could be a little less critical and a bit less arrogant.

Col. Bat Guano 10:42 AM  

Had Herblock, the late Washington Post cartoonist, instead of H&RBLOCK for a long while, until finally seeing A&E.

Liked the puzzle. Still thinking of Dimitri Kissoff (sp?). It's a friendly call.

Two Ponies 10:45 AM  

We finally got our rebus and a fine one indeed.
The ampersand was my last "block" to fall because of VCR tape. Great fun when I got it at last.
I was surprised at myself to find this a med. with all of those sports and foreign language answers. Thanks Mr. Wilk!

JohnV 11:01 AM  

@DK thanks for the tips. Add skinny dipping to the Feb eschew/school list. We've been coming to Mad River Vallley for 25 years. We love it.

JohnV 11:02 AM  

That would be eschew/achoo.

syndy 11:12 AM  

67 down confused me more than anything-It had to be on purpose;but it was so very wrong!?Still my time was good for a thurs.but the feet din dance and the 'AND' was not accepted!@JOHNV are you saying that at the w tournament accepted the
'AND'? Aside from these issues a very successful puzzle!

John V 11:29 AM  

@Sydney. Will, who judged the final, accepted the word AND as part of the rebus.

Fact Checker 11:50 AM  

Rex, if you have a membership in Cruciverb.com you can confirm that this is indeed the first time & has ever been used in a NYT crossword.

Yes, it is absurd ... 11:51 AM  

Jeopardy is one of the more popular shows, and Jennings final game was one of the most anticipated and watched episodes, so the only thing absurd is the absurd comment that it is absurd to expect people to remember how he lost.

Sir Hillary 11:53 AM  

Pretty easy, but tons of fun. Initially thought PAULRUDD at 17A, but then realized with ING at 6A that it had to be SETHROGEN. Then it was just a matter of figuring out which two letters to scrunch together. SEETHRU/NEHRU gave me that part. From there, it was pretty smooth sailing, especially because the HRs were symmetrical.

Having seen none of KJ's epic "Jeopardy" run, I thought 67A would be baseball or human resources. The final ampersand elicited a "niiiiice!" from me -- can't understand why people wouldn't like that. My handwritten ampersand is a backwards 3 with vertical lines extending from the top and bottom -- very much like an E -- so like @Col. Bat Guano 10:42AM I was reminded of the late Herblock.

Great stuff!

lawprof 11:54 AM  

For a Thursday, this one fell pretty quickly. I spotted the rebus early-on with NEHRU and GEHRIG almost simultaneously, but thought the trick was simply a missing H.

Not until the reveal did I realize that rebus square really was an H&RBLOCK, but that blind spot didn't slow me down. Instead, it provided a second "Aha!" moment, so double the fun for me.

Thank you, Mr. Wilk. Lovely puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous 12:36 PM  

rebUzthUmbsUp. Ken Jennings Q seemed like fair game, but I didn't know it.

Fave Clue: Natl. Teachers Hall of Fame one. Ans. was KAN. Emporia, to be more precise. Have seen the brown road sign, as we zoomed through on I-35. thUmbsUp to all you hall-of-famer teachers, present and future. 31 gets my vote. He encourages his students to think in the abstract, mapwise. Maybe he could do the same with us, on the ThursPuzs, when he needs to zoom through.

Joseph B 12:39 PM  

For once I was thankful for regularly seeing a nephrologist, which revealed there was a rebus going on right away.

My last square was the ELHRICH/HRS cross. I'm a big baseball fan, but somehow "home run" did not occur to me. (You see HR in print, but unlike RBI and ERA, no one says it aloud.) Guessed right, and I felt like an idiot when I googled "abbreviation hr."

Mohair Sam 1:21 PM  

Really liked this puzzle. Loved how he used Jackie Robinson to give us the Pee Wee Reese answer. For those who don't know, Kentucky born Pee Wee's friendship with Jackie was critical in getting fan acceptance of Robinson.

There are probably no solvers out here more different from Rex than us (husband and wife who solve together). So it is always fun reading how he saw a puzzle compared to the way we see it.

He found the rebus with the easy ASHRAM and SETHROGEN answers. Pop culture and religion being blanks in our household we finished the puzzle by saying that - hey, this section needs an HR and Seth is a common name these days, let's use it - and I think I heard the term Ashram somewhere.

But the Ken thing? Drove Rex nuts. No brainer here - remembered the subject of the answer was business and threw that right in. Thank heaven for the gimme ONCLE or I'd still be trying to fit things around BUSINESS.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

This one was a lot of fun. With the plethora of baseball clues (with the exception of 21d) I really wanted the reveal to be either homeruns or baseball...but since we already had homeruns at 66d, H&R Block became apparent. I wrote in 'and' as well....but since I do the puzzle in the actual newpaper, what does it really matter? The pleasure factor matters most to me, and this puzzle really delivered. I wish we had enough snow for a proper sleigh ride...that would be a welcomed winter jaunt, indeed!

YouTube 1:51 PM  

"This is one of the most epic Jeopardy! episodes ever."

Ken Jennings Loses on Jeopardy!

Business & Industry

Most of this firm's 70,000 SEASONal white-collar employees work only 4 months a year.

Ken wrote "What is Fed Ex?" losing to Nancy Zerg who had the correct answer, "What is H&R BLOCK?"

Evan 1:51 PM  

@Fact Checker:

This is NOT the first time that & has been used in the NYT crossword.

Sunday, November 14, 2004 -- theme revealer of STOP THE #!%*& CUSSING.

Sunday, June 26, 1994 -- includes the answers UG[AND]AN, ST[AND]S, [AND]RETTI, [STAR]S [AND] STRIPES, S[AND]RA, AND GR[AND] [CENT]RAL STATION.

There are other puzzles which use AND in rebus squares. You can see them here.

Gill I. P. 1:59 PM  

I really TUMBLEd and MESSED up right at the git go.
Was so proud to fill in ARM and hammer at 1A thinking hammer was the rebus. Islam????? was my retreat. Didn't know SETH ROGEN Couldn't spell DiMTRI My kidneys belonged to renal. EHRLICH lost his H and, well, it all made me feel NAKED.
Started all over again in the morning and I FINALLY GOT IT at H&R BLOCK...yay me.
Still had the above spelling problems. I googled SETH ROGEN and EHRLICH just to be sure but this DAME did finally finish.
Loved it despite my grunts and lots of EEKs.

Sparky 2:09 PM  

Got it at SETHROGAN/ASHRAM and have no idea why. He is a total mystery to me, can't visualize him. Had a very good time with this but, alas, DNF. Stuck in SE corner. Watch Jeopardy! faithfully (don't call me) but memory gone. Had TUGSat and GALAS but erased them. Ah well. I do like a rebus.

I dream of the day a singer says, "Come, sing along with me," and then sings the anthem straight on without a lot of toolie, loolie, just as we did in High School.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

"nsec" has never been used outside of a crossword puzzle. If you want to refer to a nanosecond, you say "nanosecond". And if you want to abbreviate it, you abbreviate it "ns".

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

This isn't even remotely the first time & has been used in a New York Times crossword. A&E alone has appeared four times.

Elle54 2:50 PM  

I really liked it. Got the rebus at NEHRU. I was expecting the reveal to be HOMERUNS, but had no trouble getting H&R Block.
Looks like Ehrlich and I share a birthday ( as does Albert Einstein) !

Z 2:51 PM  

Early morning meetings, so had to do this in chunks through the day. Did the north in about five minutes early. Did the east during my second meeting today (the first 60 minutes could have been a memo) and finished the ASTA region this afternoon over my Wendy's combo meal. Only issues were hOrSES before NOOSES - having to guess the N in ADD'N/NEPHROLOGIST. tEPHROLOGIST looks too silly, so I got it right.

I was wondering about the huge storm being predicted for tonight in Michigan. Then I see that @ED has agreed with @ACME for the second time this week. Surely this has induced Hell freezing over and caused this impending storm.

Bird 2:59 PM  

I actually liked this puzzle despite a few nits. It was challenging for me because of the non-symmetry (Nit #1) of the theme. The SE had “&”, which made for some difficulty as I didn’t know the answer to 67A and the NW had “HR”, which is not in the same location in relation to the “&”. So there were two AHA moments – discovering the trick at 9D and figuring out the SE/NW corner problem, when SETH ROGEN was the last to fall.

Nit #2 is the clue for 67A. Alex Trebek provides answers, for which the contestants provide the questions. Maybe the clue should had said “Final Jeopardy! answer”?

Nit #3: That’s a really loose connection between the Yankee Stadium cheer for Jorge Posada and OLE.

Nit #4: IMO 66D takes something away from the grid.

Writeovers include HAND before FLAG, TELL before TRIP, TUGS AT before TUGS ON and MTV before A&E. And I so wanted TATTLE at 50D.

Love the clues for 7A and 39A (Alicia did a beautiful job in New Orleans on Sunday).

Boobs = ASSES? A little T&A? We saw DAME Julie Andrews’ BOOBS in the 1981 film "S.O.B."

@retired_chemist – no &/AND foul when solving on paper

Lewis 3:18 PM  

@z --very funny last paragraph!

I got greedy, checked for incorrect letters. I did have some, and as the machine corrected them, one of them was HR, so the theme was SPILLed. That's my punishment for getting greedy, depriving myself of the joy of figuring it out for myself. Never again... until next time.

chefbea 3:24 PM  

too busy today for the puzzle. Just came here to see what it was all about. No time to read the comments either. Has anyone posted fotos of Westport???

Sparky 3:29 PM  

You Tube. 2010 World Series, Game 4, Lyle Lovett. If anybody cares.

Tita 3:31 PM  


Had hOrSES as props, though was pretty sure that couldn't be right...

Ha ha - ACME - EEK indeed!

This was an odd one, as I started doing it in Westport, but was torn between wanting to watch the finalists, but not look at the anaswers. Kinda hard to do.

Anyway, great puzzle.

Loveed writing in all the rebuses. I like that I can draw them in diagonally, so they read both vertically and horizontally.

Tita 3:32 PM  

@chefbea - I have a couple - will try and post later.

sanfranman59 3:54 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Thu 16:41, 17:05, 0.98, 42%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:18, 9:57, 1.04, 55%, Medium

ileen 3:56 PM  

When Seth Rogen didn't fit initially, I had Paul Rudd in that space too, but ASHRAM made me realize the rebus. And I'm another proud geek who knew the reason for Jennings leaving Jeopardy. He's a really funny guy on twitter & his blog. His books are fun too!

This fell very quickly for me for a Thursday. Maybe I'll even attempt Friday with more confidence.

Rick 4:54 PM  

Rice doesn't have DORMs. It has residential colleges.

the redanman 5:01 PM  

When Nephrologist didn't fit, I tried RENAL........ no luck. GEHRIG was the key, finally. Slow sailboat-like tacking to finish, even with the &. Didn't remember DMITRI had but one "I".

These odd wing abbreviations get me.

Fine puzzle, but I'll bet SanFranMan says difficult.

Airymom 5:53 PM  

Just a terrific puzzle!

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:58, 6:08, 0.97, 36%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:03, 8:30, 0.95, 31%, Easy-Medium
Wed 8:23, 11:33, 0.73, 2%, Easy (4th lowest ratio of 163 Wednesdays)
Thu 16:41, 17:05, 0.98, 42%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:39, 0.98, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:48, 4:57, 0.97, 36%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:11, 6:29, 0.80, 6%, Easy (9th lowest ratio of 163 Wednesdays)
Thu 9:43, 9:43, 1.00, 48%, Medium

Z 10:12 PM  

"Residential Colleges" is too precious.

Lois 10:43 PM  

Although it took me a while to figure it out, I thought the revealer was delicious even without my knowing anything about Ken Jennings's mistake. Not insidery at all, just funny. Great puzzle.

Waxy in Montreal 9:59 AM  
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Waxy in Montreal 10:00 AM  
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Waxy in Montreal 10:40 AM  

Baseball's Iron Horse had to be GEHRIG so figuring out this puzzle's theme took only a tiny fraction of time compared to most Thursdays.

Wondering if the Jorge reference in 8D is yet another syn(chroni)city shoutout, in this case to the new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, entHRoned yesterday?

Spacecraft 11:44 AM  

Well, I wanted brain exercise. Thanks to Mr. Wilk I got it. Like most I wanted GEHRIG right away, but having no idea where that tower was, didn't immediately glom onto the rebus. However, while tackling the NE, I determined that if only I could put HR into one square, it would give me both SEETHRU and NEHRU. That was enough, and it was off to the races.

The SW fell next, but it took a while for me to TUMBLE to the SE, as I didn't know between VHS or Vcr. Then as some of the 67a letters started filling in: I saw it! And that meant...A&E and for ONCE, NOT AandE!! David, you have my everlasting gratitude for that!!

Finally, to the NW, which contains the only non-symmetrical HR in the grid. No matter, two BIG thumbs-up for this one. My only beef is cluing TRIP as "Spill." I know, you can't resist two identical clues. But man, that's a SINGLETHREAD stretch.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

I solved the puzzle as it appears in the Kansas City Star, six weeks to the day of its first appearing in the NY Times. The entries for 8D, "Hip, hip, Jorge" and for 67 A, answer: H & R Block, appear just one day later (March 14, 2013) than when both were in the news, with the new Pope, Francis I, whose first name is Jorge, and the error by H & R Block on their income tax software. How's that for Deja vu all over again, Yogi?

rain forest 2:02 PM  

How could anyone not like this one?I was lucky and filled in the NW almost instantly, uncovering the HR rebus with ASHRAM/SETHROGEN. That made things relatively easy for me, and though I never saw Ken Jennings, H&R BLOCK seemed just obvious, ie, the revealer being H and R occupying a single block in the puzzle. Nice fill, too.

Dirigonzo 3:40 PM  

What everybody else said, and where the opinion is divided, e.g. the ampersand and the extra HRS at 66d, I'm on the "loved it" side. The fact that I entered both ASSES and ARMANI with out benefit of crosses leads me to believe I may need another hobby. And for once I detected the rebus theme very early (which rendered the puzzle perhaps a trifle too easy?).

@Waxy & anony 12:47pm - nice catch on the papal tie-in to the puzzle. Do you think DLW or Will had advance info? My local paper reported the selection under the headline "An American Pontiff" - I wonder how many readers will read only that and think that the new Pope is from the US.

Ginger 4:10 PM  

Took a stab early on (couldn't sleep) and had a smattering of letters, but nothing cohesive, then picked it up later and SET(HR)OGAN jumped out at me. Neat! I love a good rebus, and this did not disappoint.

Had trouble with the ampersand, as all I could see was the great HeRBLOCK.

Lots of AHA moments. Thanks Mr. Wilk.

Syndi Solver 6:32 PM  

Nice puzzle and for some reason easy for me (usually I struggle).

I caught on to the HR rebus early at ASHRAM/SETHROGEN. And I really don't know SETH ROGEN (couldn't pick him out of a line up) but had heard the name and ASHRAM was easy. When I saw only 5 letters for it I was really hoping it was not some alternative spelling like "asram" (so many times that SH sound is represented with a single S, e.g., SRI) so I was rooting for the HR rebus.

I'm posting today mostly to share a link to an old Edgar G. Robinson movie seen on TCM years ago that helped me with ERLICH:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032413/

Somehow this doctor's name, and his being associated with the phrase "magic bullet", has stayed in the back of my mind.

eastsacgirl 8:44 PM  

Got the rebus pretty quick even though I wrote out AND instead of &. So took me a minute to figure it out. For some reason the NW was hard for me. After a couple glasses of wine it all fell into place. Pretty fun Thursday and was glad to see the rating since it took me awhile. ANTHRACITE and NEPHROLOGIST I pulled out the very nether regions of my brain. Glad to know they're still working.

Dirigonzo 8:58 PM  

@eastsacgirl - "In vino veritas" and it helps when solving xwords, too. I presume your reference to "nether regions" implies the standard definition and not the more comtemporary "urban dictionary" meaning?

Greg Baker 9:02 PM  

Excuse me if this has been mentioned, but for us who do the puzzle syndicated, H and R Block is a great theme to remind us all to get our taxes done. One month and counting!!

Greg Baker
gregbaker112@gmail.com
@XwordMusical

Dirigonzo 9:44 PM  

@Greg Baker - a timely reminder, indeed. Because Patriots' Day, which is a legal holiday in Maine and Massachussetts, falls on April 15 this year those of us who file with the Andover Service Center get an extra day to file. Turbo Tax recognizes this, I'm not sure about H&RBLOCK.

sdcheezhd 1:59 AM  

My wife got the Ken Jennings clue right away. Even scarier she remembered his wrong answer.

Maybe I need a PI . . .

Anonyrat 8:22 AM  

Skeet skeet skeet

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBFFTZWyX6E

Plenty of German and baseball - Yay! (Instead of that annoying poofy French/theatre stuff). "ONCLE" hosed me for a long time, since I had no idea tante was also French for aunt, so I had ONkel (German) for 55D for a long time.

@ Yes, it is absurd ... 11:51 AM - Really? You poor whatever you are. My only familiarity with Jeopardy is the SNL parody where "Sean Connery" parses "therapists" as "the rapists." Methinks thou needest to get a life.

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