Moroccan city known as Athens of Africa / THU 8-22-13 / Singer known as La Divina / Ford last produced in 1986 / German wine made from fully ripe grapes / Site of WW II's first amphibious landing / O'Hara's choice novelist / Owner of Moviefone / Commercial figure holding six beer mugs / Suspended avian home

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Constructor: Stu Ockman

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: CALL BOX — one CALL in each corner, two non-symmetrically placed CALLs in central Across answer

Word of the Day: SPATLESE (24D: German wine made from fully ripe grapes) —

Spätlese (literal meaning: "late harvest"; plural form is Spätlesen) is a German wine term for a wine from fully ripe grapes, the lightest of the late harvest wines. Spätlese is a riper category than Kabinett in the Prädikatswein category of the German wine classification and is the lowest level of Prädikatswein in Austria, where Kabinett is classified in another way. In both cases, Spätlese is below Auslese in terms of ripeness. The grapes are picked at least 7 days after normal harvest, so they are riper and have a higher must weight. Because of the weather, waiting to pick the grapes later carries a risk of the crop being ruined by rain. However, in warm years and from good sites much of the harvest will reach Spätlese level.
The wines may be either sweet or dry (trocken); it is a level of ripeness that particularly suits rich dry wines from Riesling,Weißer Burgunder and Grauer Burgunder grapes for example, as at Auslese levels the alcohol levels may become very high in a dry wine leaving the wine unbalanced, making wines with at least some residual sweetness preferable to most palates. However, most German wines are traditionally dry, and the amount of sugar is not the only factor balancing a wine. Dry German wines can be very balanced and usually get higher rates from German wine journalists than a comparable wine with more sugar.
Many Spätlese wines will age well, especially those made from the Riesling grape. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one was OK. Here's the thing—it's just a bunch of CALLs. Not sure what's clever about that. I guess the central answer, "DON'T [CALL] US, WE'LL [CALL] YOU," functions as some kind of marquee or banner answer, but ... there's just four more CALLs. I mean, that's all there is to this. Fact that they are in the corners made the last couple corners (for me, the bottom two), sooooooooo much easier to get than the top two. I'm generally opposed to symmetrical rebus squares for this reason. Big corners are kind of cool, though the fill in the Downs gets very dicey in places. Actually, fill gets very dicey all over. APSOS, MONGST, HADAC (!!!!) (if this were a "COW" rebus, maybe), AMARO (54D: Ruben ___, Phillies Gold Glove-winning shortstop), HAILE (3D: Two-time Olympic running gold medalist ___ Gebrselassie), UTO-, FES (!?!?!) (10D: Moroccan city known as the Athens of Africa). Too much collateral damage for an only so-so theme. Also, 14D [CALL] BOX should've been a revealer. That's clearly the hook. Why it's just buried in a random answer in the NE, I don't know.

Theme answers:
  • DON'T CALL US WE'LL CALL YOU / RECALL / RAPSCALLION (that last one is the Very Best of the "CALL"-containing words)
  • CATCALL / CALLAS (66A: Singer known as La Divina)
Thought Homer's muse was ERATO, so that slowed things up considerably. Had big missing chunks in the NW and so abandoned it. More trouble getting into the NE (when two corners put up bad resistance, on a Thursday, it's a rebus, for sure). Picked up the theme by piecing together the central answer. I really should have two difficulty levels: the level before you pick up the theme (hard) and after (mostly easy). Maybe that's true with most theme, but it's *especially* true today. Predictably cornered CALLs heighten this effect. There's a repeated CAT in the grid, which I thought was a no-no, but apparently not. Both answers are sharp, but I wouldn't dupe CAT. Not good form. If either of the answers were totally unrelated to the feline cat, then no problem. But that's not the case.

  • 39D: "O'Hara's Choice" novelist (URIS) — really wanted O'HARA here.
  • 65A: Commercial figure holding six beer mugs (ST. PAUL GIRL) — I approve this clue and answer. Lovely.
  • 15A: One's initial response to this clue, perhaps ("I HAVE NO IDEA") — I want to hate this, but can't. It's pretty clever.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


August West 12:00 AM  

Took a flyer on marge for Homer's muse, but quickly realized she was CALLIOPE when ...THEDOGSOFF materialized. Bounced over to the NE corner and, sure enough, there was Lauren BACALL. Plugged CALL into the remaining two corners and was off to the races. Very quick Thursday despite some gunk (primarily CHIEN crossing MONGST, and SPATLESE, which I'd never heard of). Laughed out loud at 15A, and loved the clues for THROW, BATON, AHORA and PILES. Can see myself getting hung up on APHIS and UTO-Aztecan, but I never encountered them before all correct fill was banged in. Enjoyed it, for the few minutes it was around.

Still have no idea (as I type before Rex's review drops) what the "theme" is. It appears to be: "Let's throw the word CALL into the corners and put two more here"

jackj 12:02 AM  

Today’s Stu Ockman puzzle started out promising to be a real barnburner.

My first entry was a snap, with ORR, but ORR messed up the likeliest answer for its next-door neighbor seeking “Much of central Eur., once” that obviously should have been SSR.

What to do?

Allemande left young man and fill in OWE, SOT and URIS; sashay right for AUS, TOR and EYE, read the clue for 38 across and fill in the unexpected gimme DON’T(CALL)USWELL(CALL)YOU and abandon any thought that the puzzle will be overly demanding.

And things rapidly filled in from there as this non-Trekkie still engaged in a Vulcan Mind Meld with the constructor to race to a happy and speedy finish.

Bolivian prez.? EVO. What is that third across clue? IHAVENOIDEA! That Muse for Homer? ERATO. No, Homer was an epic poet, not a love bug, so it’s (CALL)IOPE, of course.

And so it went.

It was convenient that the other rebuses were in the corners and BA(CALL), (CALL)AS and TOOCLOSETO(CALL) easily finished up the theme.

Stu still gave us some fun bits sprinkled around the grid like the afore hinted at central Eur. clue that showed itself not as an SSR but as part of an earlier occupation, the HRE and still on a geographical kick, “Superior home: Abbr.?”, wasn’t looking for the head of a nunnery it was after the WIS(consin) version of Superior (Lake or city, take your choice).

STPAULIGIRL and GUADALCANAL were first rate as were RAPS(CALL)ION, CROIX and GOSSIP and let’s not forget the elegant MONGST, certain to have made even Erato swoon with its appearance.

Though it didn’t end up as the hoped for barnburner, Stu Ockman gave us a truly fun puzzle and for that I can CALL myself satisfied!

And if “satisfied” isn’t enough, then “You can CALL me Ray, or you can CALL me Jay, or you can CALL me Johnny or you can CALL me Sonny, or you can CALL me RayJay, or you can CALL me RJ… but ya doesn’t hafta CALL me Johnson”.

JFC 12:36 AM  

As I recall Carly Simon was once married to James Taylor. So today I dedicate this song by JT to Rex:


B Donohue 12:36 AM  

Finished in the "midwest" once I figured out the middle theme answer. I had originally penciled in "piS" for ADS, which caused a substantial holdup, delaying my getting ALGAE.

It took 40 minutes, but was fun and rewarding to solve. I've definitely never heard of the expression "HET up" before today. CALL THE DOGS OFF and all of the other long theme answers were fresh and amusing.

Thank yo, Stu.

jae 1:13 AM  

Finally, a Thurs. rebus.   Easy-medium once I caught the rebus so like Rex said, probably medium-tough over all. 


Me too for Erato before CALLIOPE and also era before AGE. 

Very zippy.  The 11 stacks were excellent.  Fun solve.

Nice one Mr.  Ockman!

retired_chemist 1:19 AM  

Medium for a rebus, which usually gives me more trouble. Hand up for ERATO @ 1D and a consequent slowdown and time sink in the NW.

Smelled a rebus when I had BA?/?BOX in the NE. Decided to think about that later since my first thought (PHONE) BOX lead to the inane BA(PHONE) for 12A. Did not see the theme until 56D, where CAT(CALL) made (CALL)AS obvious. The rest of the corners then fell into place, the pesky ERATO was replaced with (CALL)IOPE, and matters went smoothly from then on.

If it were not for the foreign words SPÄTLESE, CHIEN, and CROIX I might not have finished. Lhasa APSOS went in and out a couple of times. 34A was IT'S A (trap), 47A was FOOL, which at least gave me OTELLO (but also GTO for 41D) before it had to be changed. After a few crosses I saw GUADALCANAL (nice to learn that factoid) and eventually the SE fell.

A solid puzzle and an enjoyable solve. Strong cluing throughout. Thanks, Mr. Ockman.

Mark Trevor Smith 1:39 AM  

Fun, and the ipad app made the rebus insertion smooth even though it was my first ipad rebus. At first TOOCLOSEFOR (I often like to start at the bottom) made me think that there might be COMFORT hanging off the corners somehow, but that delusion didn't last long. I wanted to write in HET right away, but couldn't believe that such a weird old-fashioned expression (was I even remembering it correctly?) would be in there. And don't the framing CALLs in the middle line cure our ills and make US WELL (if only there had been a house call somewhere)?

Benko 2:45 AM  

I also had Erato, the muse of lyric poetry, which slowed me hella down.
I liked GUADALCANAL,, SPATLESE (THO I put Riesling first), ST PAULI GIRL.
I hated MONGST and even more so UTO.
Teutonic booze was a better minitheme than CALLBOX was a real theme.

Benko 2:54 AM  

Also.."FES"...did anyone else need the standard "Var." in the clue? Never seen that spelling, although I know Arabic is based on phonetics rather than alphabetics and can be spelled numerous ways in English.

Steve J 3:09 AM  

Wow, it's been a while since I've had such a mixed reaction to a puzzle. The parts I liked, I really liked. The parts I disliked, I really disliked.

Likes: 15A (like Rex, I want to not like it, but it's too good not to like), DONTCALLUSWELLCALLYOU, RAPSCALLION, FATCAT (I'm not sure why Rex thinks both reference felines - FATCAT certainly doesn't - but while the two in the same grid is ungainly, I do like this one, particularly as clued), DODO (surprised that doesn't show up as fill more often).

Dislikes: APSOS (nothing in the clue indicates this is a plural), HADAC (awful), the fact that I can never remember any of the muses (not the puzzle's fault. that one; that's all on me).

Intense dislike: SPATLESE. Not the wine; many spätlese Rieslings are indeed fantastic. The spelling. I know that diacritical marks are customarily ignored in crosswords. Problem is, English has a standardized and conventional approach to spelling German words that contain vowels with umlauts: They are standardly and consistently replaced with the vowel plus E (i.e., ä, ö and ü become ae, oe and ue, respectively). It's not acceptable English spelling to leave off the E, which is why you don't see Gothe or Goring in place of Goethe/Göthe or Goering/Göring, for example. This was one of the last spots of the puzzle to fall for me, since I saw quickly that both AUSLESE (another German wine categorization) and SPAETLESE would not fit.

Likes probably outweighed the dislikes. Agreed with the rating of hard-ish before discovering the rebus (I got it at CATCALL/CALLAS, and recognized the symmetry at BACALL/CALLBOX) and easy thereafter.

Steve J 3:14 AM  

Oh, regarding FES:

It doesn't need a var., as Fes is actually the spelling of the city, while Fez is the spelling of the hat. Fez is, of course, often used for both, but the city is spelled Fes. And it's not really a transliteration currently as Morocco is legally bilingual, with both Arabic and French being the legal languages of the country, which means every city has an official Romanized spelling as well as its Arabic spelling. (Of course, the French spelling would have originally come from a transliteration.)

That said, most English-speaking people are more familiar with the Fez spelling.

Incidentally, FES is an absolutely wonderful and gorgeous city. Had the privilege of visiting there last year.

chefwen 3:30 AM  

Caught on very early with 14D, had the BO in place, beautiful Lauren BaCALL confirmed the CALL BOX. The rest was pretty much smooth sailing.

Heading off to 25A in a few days to visit Dear Old Dad, he will soon be 94, still driving, if anyone is in the Mequon/Thiensville area, be very careful. Have told him 20 times about our visit, sent itineraries etc. still has no idea.

@jberg - Off to Menominee MI after WI, I'll pick up some Oleo Margarine for you.

loren muse smith 4:08 AM  

@chefwen – safe travels!

@jae – when I saw that “trockenbeerenauslese” didn’t fit, I got SPÄTLESE off only the LE very early. Funny how we’re usually on the same page. Me, too for “era” before AGE.

@Steve J – good point about wanting “spaetlese,” but this German major put it in with no hesitation. After reading your point, I wish I, too, had hesitated.

And again, @Steve J – I agree that the clue for APSOS was tough since it didn’t indicate a plural and it’s one of those words whose spelling makes me feel wobbly. I was trying for an h somewhere way before I went with the plural. Cool that CHIEN was right under it.

I found this one really, really hard. Had PILES of trouble and felt like a big DODO until CALLAS showed me the rebus. I kept checking the day of the week. Had that rebus tickle in the back of my mind with DON’T CALL US. . . but it was way too early and I couldn’t have guessed which letters were in the same BOX.

Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, French, German: AMO, CROIX, CAPO, AHORA, CHIEN, SPÄTLESE, APHIS, ODEA, DE LA, ALGAE, TRE. . .

So the RAPSCALLION does the CATCALL? And CTRL crossing HTTP pleased me.

@Benko - our friend, @Ulrich, must be pleased with his ST PAULI GIRL before dinner and his SPÄTLESE after dinner.

Two state abbreviations. @JFC – nice clip. He HAILEs from NCAR.

Thanks, Stu. Tough Thursday but gettable. I liked it.

jae 4:42 AM  

@lms -- Oddly enough Trockenbeerenauslese is vaguely familiar to me. A grad school friend of mine was into German wines and took the time to explain some of the varieties. Unfortunately SPATLESE never came up. And, my beverages of choice are Scotch and Vodka so I tend to ignore wine lists...hence WOE.

NYer 4:48 AM  

I'm new to AcrossLite, can anyone tell me how to fit rebuses using it? I had to switch to the iPad app (subscription expires this week, alas) when I divined the theme at DON'T CALL US....

Gareth Bain 5:14 AM  

@NYER: Press insert.

Elle54 7:09 AM  

It took the ROLLCALL corner for me to get it. Loved "don't call us, we'll call you" Hahaha!

dk 7:17 AM  

@chefwen, if you make to Saint CROIX Falls, WIS --stop by. Just made a peach and mango salsa. Word to the wise wash your hands before you go to the necessary room when working with chili-peppers... and then do not wipe the tears from your eyes. That said the salsa on grilled chicken... yum.

I have ORIOLES all over my yard, my real office is outside of Baltimore... ya think I could spell ORIOLES.

Learned all the muses from Center City NOLA. The blocks are a little rag tag but inspirational every time I bike through (son and sistah live in NOLA).

My house HADAC till the compressor pooped out.

Any rebus that I can figure out within a minute or two is ok in my book. Some of the fill was DICEY as our dear leader opined but all in all.

I continue to be amazed at the staying power of AOL. Reminds me of ADP and Ceridian (nee Control Data) who remain alive as a testament to the power of the "float."

🍩🍩 (2 doughnuts) MONGST!

Glimmerglass 7:44 AM  

CAPES crossing CAPO; CAN IT crossing CANAL.

jberg 8:04 AM  

Like everybody else, I found this a stumper until I got the theme, backing up into 1A (Ii came to 1D from EWES and POL, so I knew it was some kind of OPE, but I would gone with a made-up mIOPE until I had _ THE DOGS OFF. After that it was a breeze.

Unlike everybody else, I thought HAD AC was fresh and timely, as was CAN IT. I used to drink a lot of German wine, so that was no problem.

@chefwen, thanks for remembering the margarine! And @dk, I know what you mean about the peppers - I've been there, and I'm not talking about rubbing EYES (well, I've done that too). A truly memorable sensation.

Mohair Sam 8:05 AM  

When tormenting others I have often been begged to "Call off the dogs," never to CALLTHEDOGSOFF. Anyone else?

That said, it was a fun puzzle. Skewed easy for a Thursday here because 3 of the 4 CALL corners were gimmes (CALLIOPE, BACALL, CALLAS), and RECALL led to a quick filling of the theme answer.

Has RAPSCALLION ever been used in a puzzle before? Great word! And I loved the clue for IHAVENOIDEA.

Z 8:22 AM  

Since ST PAULI GIRL was the hook that got me started, I am predisposed to like this puzzle.

Is there a Superior, WIS? I took the clue to reference the lake so was thinking "ont(ario) or maybe mic(higan). Otherwise, my big WOE was the AOL/AHORA cross. Just could not see that O.

@Milford - does the closing mean a new mom de blog for you?

Carola 8:32 AM  

A pleasure. RAPSCALLION, CALLIOPE, GUADALCANAL, SPATLESE - a really high fun-to-fill-in quotient. Liked the theme a lot, too - liked the array of CALLs in their BOXes.

I liked the little opera theme, with CALLAS, OTELLO, and - with a stretch - da CAPO aria. I've read that it's not unusual to hear CATCALLs from the upper TIERS of Italian opera houses, so I thought the cross with CALLAS was interesting. Wonder if she ever heard them. Also liked her mirroring the American star BACALL in the opposite corner.

@Steve J - I think we have to throw in the towel on umlauts being recognized after "uber" became ubiquitous. Grates on me, too.

@chefwen - Welcome back to WIS!

Milford 8:38 AM  

I liked this, a good old Thursday rebus, just wish there had been more rebus answers to find!

Actually did this fairly quick, with the diva(CALL)AS giving me the hint.

Did not notice the international flair while solving, but yes, there was a lot of it. We drink a lot of La CROIX water around here - good substitute for pop. The only German wine word I know is Gewürztraminer, but that didn't fit.

Thought it was RAthSCALLION, but maybe that is an alternate version of the word? Loved it as an entry for the rebus, tho.

Loved I HAVE NO IDEA. We could use more clues like this from time to time.

Daughter has a friend named Callie who's given name is CALLIOPE (yes, a Greek family), but she pronouces it Cally-ope. Always thought it was Cal-EYE'-o-pea.

joho 8:43 AM  

I always love a rebus and that includes this one, especially because we've been rebus deprived.

Lauren BACALL tipped me off quickly and surprisingly I got RAPSCALLION (my favorite like @Rex)/DONTCALLUSWELLCALLYOU next ... just like that!

I so wanted "Deterrent to swimming" to be shark.

I briefly had Ott before ORR.

Fun puzzle, thanks, Stu!

Milford 8:47 AM  

@Z - "a new mom de blog for you?"

Haha, not sure if that was a typo or not, but I like it as is!

Nope, I am still Milford, our move was a mere 1 mile, our kids didn't even change bus routes for school. Plus that move was seven years ago, the close was on the sale of house we put on the market in 2006, right when everything in the housing market went to hell in Michigan. Two sets of renters later, we are free of the property.

I forgot about ST.PAULI GIRL, an entry I got with absolutely no crosses. I'll bet if someone created an all-beer crossword I could break that elusive 5-minute mark.

John V 8:50 AM  

So, this sometimes happens: start a puzzle, it seems hard. Put it down, return, it fills itself in. HOY. Got the theme with the spanner.

Fun, nice to have a rebus. In all, pretty easy Thursday,I thought.

ArtO 8:55 AM  

I'm with Mohair Sam... You "call off the dogs". Otherwise a nice tough solve made much easier once you CALL the question.

For the vinously challenged, German wines become progressively sweeter, more unctuous ( and expensive) as you go from spatlese to auslese to beerenauslese, to trockenbeerenauslese which rivals France's Chateau Yquem. Great way to finish a decadent dinner.

Blue Stater 8:55 AM  

Very surprised to see Rex's rating of this one, which I finished in record time -- a record, that is, for me, for a rebus (because I really hate rebuses, which in my book aren't crosswords), and for Tricky Thursday. There was some very bad fill, as Rex pointed out, but I got the theme early, and all the "calls" helped me get the rest.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

Not sure why Ruben AMARO is getting so much grief... as fill anyway. He's the General Manager of said Phillies, and if you've been paying attention, he's been in the news a lot this week. He is getting a lot of real-life grief for forcing Charlie Manuel to resign [read: firing Charlie Manuel].

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Correction - Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is the son of gold-glove winning Phillies shortstop Ruben Amaro Sr., my bad. Point stands that I don't view this as bad fill, although it may have made more sense to clue it using the GM AMARO (Unless this was somehow created/edited prior to 2008).

quilter1 10:07 AM  

Crunchy but gettable. I liked it and got the theme from the long center answer. My aha moment of the day.

Stephen Grant 10:09 AM  

Rex, a little typo in your column. your bullet says STPAUL GIRL. It is of course STPAULI GIRL.

chefbea 10:16 AM  

Too tough for me. Knew it had to be a rebus but wasn't sure. Googled a bit and then figured it out.

Is it ok to have Pauli crossing Paul???

@Chefwen..have a great trip

gifcan 10:44 AM  

Loved this puzzle, I was stymied and then, aha! Yeah, @joho, rebus deprived, great comment.

Same with @Mohair Sam, I had a couple of crosses that were not working with CALLoffthedOgS and then I thought, Oh, it's CALLTHEDOGSOFF.

I liked Rex's thought that there should be a pre- and post- difficulty rating on a rebus. This one was quite easy once the CALL-in-the-box was discovered.

Thanks, Mr. Ockman, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Is 58D wrongly clued? SCIS for "Agronomy and metallurgy Abbr."?

Shouldn't the clue have an "e.g." or "for example" to make it correct?

Ellen S 11:09 AM  

Same as everyone, tough until I got the rebus, then easy. I didn't have a problem with CALL THE DOGS OFF/CALL off the dogs, though. The same to me they are.

Also hand up for ssr before HRE. Likewise Erato before CALLIOPE. Years ago I knew all the Muses, and their spheres of influence; the puzzles then were full of them. Never mind erotic poetry; I think Erato's real specialty was being the muse of Eugene T. Maleska.

Oh - @NYer, I thought in order to do rebuses in AcrossLite you have to get the not-so-lite (paid) version. @Gareth says "Press Insert" but I don't know where the Insert key/icon/thingy would be. So I got the paid version and howled in anger (CATCALLed) when I discovered that the Rebus icon only appears when it is a rebus. Meaning, you can tell as soon as you open it that you are solving a rebus puzzle and only have to figure out where they go. That sure spoils the fun!

@Milford, I see by your profile that Middlesex is one of your favorite novels. I think that makes you, me and my daughter the only ones with that opinion. I bought it off a remainder shelf at a big-box store, expecting crap because, it's on the remainder shelf, and it's a NY Times best seller. It was marvelous, epic (that would be CALLIOPE's domain, but Erato had a hand in there, too. And Clio and Melpomene. And he was Greek!

Fargo is my favorite movie. Not because of the wood-chipper scene.

I loves me a puzzle that makes me think but I don't have to look anything up. Thank you, Stu.

Steve J 11:13 AM  

@Z: Yep, Superior, Wisc., is across the southwestern tip of the lake from Duluth.

@Carola: Yes, I thought of "uber" later. Sigh.

Meanwhile, whenever I see STPAULIGIRL, I always chuckle to myself wondering how many people know what that phrase actually means. (I also chuckle at a Hamburg beer having a label featuring a woman in full-on Bavarian dress. It's as much a non-sequiter as putting a cowboy on a tin of Boston baked beans.)

Two Ponies 11:27 AM  

This one certainly had it's highs and lows. I was happy to have our Thursday rebus back but those were the easiest parts of the grid.

M Rivers 11:28 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. Even though I caught the theme early and finished quickly, I found the clues fun. Generally easy does NOT equal enjoyable, but today was different. And I love rapscallion. I wrote an essay about my errant grandfather, who left his maybe-wife and two infant sons, never to be seen again, called "thoughts on the rapscallion," and so both the hint and the answer had me smilling in memory of the vanished Dennis.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 11:50 AM  

I liked this puz, even before I took it outta the box. I mean, look at it. Stacked 11's for openers. A trans-grid pipeline across the center. And yah know it's weirdo theme ThursPuz time, to boot. It just calls out, "Come on, punk -- show me what yah got."
Didn't care what the fill was; I had my thUmbsUp, already.

Let's talk a spell about HADAC. This could be the start of a brilliant primo puz theme idea, all on its own. Has that subtle smell of desperation/persperation that M&A so cherishes. And hey -- its bro, APSOS, is down there, too. Shoulda been clued as "Call for help in the grocery store", of course -- but... Wait, there's more!... HAILE! CROIX! CHIEN! CAANS! APHIS! Day-um. Clear candidates for the same type of cluin, by gummybars. (@lms: get after this, U heavy-hittin constructor, U.)

Nice rebus. Fun solve. As always, no refunds.

JFC 11:57 AM  

Interesting. This bunch usually jumps on an incorrect clue like hyenas on a bloody carcass. Guadalcanal might have been the first successful Allied amphibious landing in WWII but it was far from THE first.

Another interesting. From what I’ve seen Rex and Amy are on the same page far more often than not. Not today. Rex appears to be in the minority on this one.

Last interesting. “I want to hate this, but can't. It's pretty clever.” That, folks, is what I call a true revealer.

But, to be fair, he makes some fair points today (oops, two “fairs” in the same sentence)….


mmespeer 11:58 AM  

@NYer and @Ellen S I solve on a Mac laptop on AcrossLite. If you go up to Edit, scroll down, choose special entry, choose multiple letters, type in and then press return. Hope this helps. I found the "call" at the intersection of catcall and callas.

Rob C 12:08 PM  

Fun, tough Thurs. Rex says
"it's just a bunch of CALLs. Not sure what's clever about that. I guess the central answer, "DON'T [CALL] US, WE'LL [CALL] YOU," functions as some kind of marquee or banner answer, but ... there's just four more CALLs. I mean, that's all there is to this."

Can't figure out what Rex's criticism is about. As far as cleverness of the theme, aren't many rebuses just words hiding in a square. And this one has a 'marquee' answer in the middle in place of a revealer, so I don't think it's that. As far as theme density, by my count: 6 rebi, 11 theme answers encompassing 66 squares. That's about as dense as a theme gets. So I don't think it's that.

Kept on going back to CALLIsta for 1D, not sure why, but that made that entire corner tough to see. Eventually worked my way through it.

Really didn't like the clue for Lhasa ____. There's no indication that it's a plural and took me a while also. Other than that one nit, I thought it was a very good puzzle.

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

Whoever came up with "kind of jet" -> "prop" should be .

Yeah, 'propjet' exists, but it's just another name for 'turboprop' (aircraft using a propeller driven by a turbine engine). And "jet" is short for 'jet-propelled vehicle.' A propjet is most definitely NOT jet driven.

Sandy K 12:14 PM  

Enjoyed the CALL BOX theme and hand up for happy to see a rebus...

...but I gotta CALL a big fat NATICK. THO I have tasted my fair share of Liebfraumilch and Riesling, I HAVE NO IDEA how to spell SPATLES_ and since it crosses a French pooch...had CHI_N. Maybe I should have surmised the E after a few runs of the alphabet, but I didn't.

Also- UTO, EVO, that old-timey HET, MONGST others? CALL Dr. Fill.

Rob C 12:20 PM  

Re: my previous post. @Sandy K's post just reminded me that there is a revealer: CALL BOX. So I'm really not sure what Rex's problem was with this one.

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

My first "not-back-to-school day" after retiring in June, so of course, 55D ROLLCALL shows up!

Just wondrin' 12:59 PM  

Is it just me or does @anonymous 12:11 sound like the empty-chair ED?

mac 1:25 PM  

I enjoyed solving this one, but maybe because I got the theme before I found the reveal. Maria gave it away.

Have to fess up to Fez, era and Erato write-overs, and I also think Spaetlese is the proper spelling of that wine.

@EllenS: you three are not the only fans of Middlesex. Oprah got a huge number of people to read it. I loved it.

Safe travels, ChefWen!

Milford 1:34 PM  

@Ellen S. - Thanks for the reminder that CALLIOPE was the heroine :) of "Middlesex" - I had forgotton that!

Yeah, I have a hard time recommending books I like, because my taste does run to the slightly twisted or disturbing and I'm afraid I will offend some. But "Middlesex I liked for several reasons - the history of both the Greek diaspora, and Detroit before and after the riots, a Greek family with very familiar characters,and the interesting medical descriptions of her condition. Plus I just simply find Jeffrey Euginides a wonderful writer.

3 and out

Ray J 1:36 PM  

SW corner almost got me. Somehow managed to pull CHIEN out of the dark recesses - the three years of HS French I had was a looong time ago. Still, I had AMC for the Moviefone thing (no idea), so I was looking at PIcES and AHmRA for a while. PILES finally straightened me out, but good grief! - Four languages squeezed into that little corner. Other than that I liked this one a lot.

@Steve J – I’ll bite. What does the phrase actually mean?

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

A St Pauli girl is a hooker.

Mongst and Anonymous 2:01 PM  

@Ray J: yep yep. Recess, indeed, for CHIEN. Saw "Un Chien Andalou" at some college days film mini-fest, looong ago. But there it was, in remote storage, six hundred years later. Amazin', what eyeball slashin will do for one's axon reflexes.

@ArtO: Never knowingly had SPATLESE, even tho have stayed in Germany for a spell. Cool word. Looks like it could double as a term for insider spatula lingo. Or is it pronounced like "spat lazy"? If so, can see why it ain't a top seller in my neck of the woods.

STPAULIGIRL was my 11-letter gimme, today. Also got MONGST much faster than a normal person would. QED.


Wikipedia 2:20 PM  

ST PAULI is an area in Hamburg with a red-light distinct.

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

Just got back from Fes a few weeks ago! The city (as opposed to the hat with -z) is always always always spelled like this.

Was funny to see it in the puzzle today!

Benko 2:51 PM  

It's pronounced "Shpawt-lay-zuh".

Once More Before The Warranty Runs Out 3:03 PM  

Thanx, @Benko.

Crossword solvers are the nicest peoples.

To return the favor, be sure to check out the LA Times puz, today. It does a conversion that U can't help but like. And I ain't talkin fully ripe grapes to shpawt-lay-zuh, here, Herrs und Frauen.


Mr. Benson 3:04 PM  

I thought it was considered a no-no to include one of the answers in a clue. The clue for 45A is "Throw off" and the answer for 2D is THROW.

John Child 3:04 PM  

I really liked this. It felt hard as I did it, but my time was just what I expect on Thursday. I didn't see a lot of the icky fill because I had the crosses filled in before looking at the other clue. Fun for me.

ahimsa-NYT 3:30 PM  

This was challenging for me but I finally got the CALL rebus from RE(CALL) at 28 Down.

My favorite entry was I HAVE NO IDEA, probably because that's how I feel so often while solving. That entry was the second one I filled in, right after EVO at 4 Down.

@M&A, you always make me laugh, but today you get the "trip down memory lane" award for that reminder of Un CHIEN Andalou! I also saw that back in college. It was a late night double feature with Eraserhead playing at midnight. Quite memorable, with lots of fodder for future nightmares.

Steve J 3:35 PM  

@Benko: No W sound in spätlese. The ä sound is essentially like English's long A (as in "late"), so the pronunciation is shpayt-lay-zuh.

chefbea 4:02 PM  

@Mand A or anyone else..can you send me the puzzle so I can print it out.? I can't seem to get it

ahimsa-NYT 4:06 PM  

I just checked all the comments and I don't think anyone has mentioned that song from the '70s, DON'T CALL US WE'LL CALL YOU.

What, too obvious? :-) Anyway, here's a link for those who don't know it:

Outlaw MandA 4:08 PM  

@ahimsa-NYT: Eraserhead! Wow. There yah go. David Lynch. Jack Nance. U musta went to the same college film fests as me. Did U also see the Russian flick where a dude gets locked up in an old haunted mill overnight by the villagers? Draws a protective circle around himself on the floor, while poopin pants. What WAS that one called? Aaaahhhh. Memo-ries.

Ein shpayt-lay-zuh, bitte.


Nice Peoples 4:33 PM  

@chefbea: Go to here

WA 4:39 PM  

Yesterday, I was stupid, today I was smart as the puzzle did not hold much of a challenge except for the German wine.

And the old Moroccan actor who played their version of Davey Crockett-Fes Parker.

chefbea 4:59 PM  

@nice peoples thanks. Just printed it out

sanfranman59 5:09 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 16:47, 16:30, 1.02, 59%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:31, 9:30, 1.00, 52%, Medium

leah712 6:53 PM  

Rex, did you include the "Call Me Maybe" clip for me, because I said I liked last year's song of the summer much more than this year's "Blurred Lines?" Whether or not it was for me, thank you. I love all the players in that video.

gifcan 7:55 PM  

Now you're influencing my reading selection. I went to the library today and got Middlesex. I read the first page and thought it probably wasn't a book for me. By page four I had laughed out loud twice. I continue reading.

LaneB 8:50 PM  

Finally staggered to the finish, erring at the cross of HRE and HTTP. Got the rebus fairly early in the game but had trouble figuring out the three long stacks at the top and bottom plus the 15-letter one in the middle. Didn't expect the 2 rebuses in the middle so that delayed the process considerably. I'm always happy to get the puzzles containing rebuses; thus, I came away today both satisfied and admiring of the constructor, Stu Ockman. Thanks to you, Sir.

Mette 9:02 PM  

Well, I was stymied up front by reading the clue for 57A "mantles" as manties. That made the answer either boxer or brief. Yes, either should be plural, but there were only five spaces.

mac 9:19 PM  

I think the answer to 15A would have even been better had it been: I have no clue.

retired_chemist 9:39 PM  

@ mac - that's GOOD!

Anonymous 9:59 PM  

15A was nice, except for the fact that is was inaccurate.

i am an amateur solver, who barely finished today because of the near-SW. ie, APSOS, thinking it must be a horrible irregular misspelling with an h somewhere), and chien which i knew in 8th grade but is not common enough to be allowed here (like hora or dia or hoy). and yet my first entry (with no crosses, stated redundantly) was 15A, as it was SO obvious.

sanfranman59 1:03 AM  

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 6:23, 6:12, 1.03, 68%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:01, 8:16, 0.97, 40%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:43, 9:43, 1.10, 75%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 16:44, 16:30, 1.01, 58%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:02, 3:49, 1.06, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:09, 5:03, 1.02, 56%, Medium
Wed 6:11, 5:35, 1.11, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 9:26, 9:27, 1.00, 48%, Medium

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

15A Thought answer was "I have no clue," with emphasis on Have, originally. Like that better, though it doesn't fit.

feipeng wu 2:08 AM  

Thanks for sharing...


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spacecraft 11:53 AM  

Weird. I always seem to be the one following our invader, @DatingOnine. This guy is entrenched: four days straight now. If I may borrow a line from "Trading Places:"

"Nobody wants your drugs here, LOUIE." Or your hookers, either. STPAULIGIRL, you can stay.

Today not much was making sense at first, so I hunted around for a way in, finding it in the SE with DEPAUL and OTELLO. Wondered what the last across was; TOOCLOSETOO?? I had all but the last letter. Coming down, I thought the clue "Class starter" meant the first word of a familiar phrase, such as FIRST--which wouldn't fly (no stste abbrev. ends in F). Meanwhile, 46d was giving me headaches. AMIDST was ruled out because "midst" was in the clue, and AMONGST didn't fit. Finally figured out it was (')MONGST, and GUADALCANAL (really? Who knew?)came to light.

And at last, the aha! moment. Dashing up to the NE, I knew that my 3-letter actress was actually six-letter (and five-star, in my book) BACALL. Same for the SW: the fabuous Maria CALLAS sang out. And in the NW, CALLIOPE and, naturally, CALLOFFTHEDOGS.

Oops. With those letters on top, IHAVENOIDEA how to fill in the NW. Luckily, I had the phrase right but in the wrong order, and it soon was fixed.

And now the center fifteener was obvious: I had tried the standard lie "We'll let you know." but that was a letter short. I really wanted that; hated to give it up. But the actual answer is every bit as good.

I know what OFL means when a puzzle seems awfully tough pre-aha but almost fills itself in post. How do you rate those? I guess you shrug and average it out: medium. But anything that produces a genuine AHA! is good by me. It certainly was a lot more fun than yesterday.

DMG 3:50 PM  

Didn't know the Messrs. Caan or Mr. Orr, so I bombed on the computer key-guess I've been sticking to the IPad for too long! Other than that, it was a fun puzzle. The revealer for me was BACALL, when the more obvious Monroe would bend itself to the space. Other "revealer" was realizing even baby birds wouldn't call home a NEZT!

rain forest 5:19 PM  

This puzzle provided more fun than almost any I can recall, helped by the fact that HAILE, EVO, SPATLESE, DE LA, and AMARO, were gimmes, and by my immediately putting down HADAC (yes, really). Along the way, those gimmes gave me enough letters to fill in two of the theme answers, which, of course, made the other longies relatively easy. RAPSCALLION - brilliant. I guess, if I had to pick out something I didn't like it would be APSOS, but URIS was already in place, so I didn't have to grind my teeth over it. But really, whether one thinks that there was much to the theme or not, this was a lot of fun.

Dirigonzo 5:22 PM  

I didn't have much going into the grid until I arrived at the downs EYE/TOR/AUS which gave me the YOU ending of the long themer across the middle. I already had _BOX up above so the CALL rebus burst into view and I was no longer ATSEA. Addle/THROW, biter/APHIS and era/AGE spoiled an otherwise pristine grid - not too shabby for me on a Thursday.

Solving in Seattle 5:58 PM  

I arrived early at the restaurant to meet my business partner, so I ordered a glass of Riesling and pulled out today's puzzle while waiting. Looked at the clue for 24D and said, "naw, couldn't be." And, many crosses later, it wasn't.

Rant: Poetic contractions. MONGST just stinks more than the other noxious fills that fit this catagory.

Rave: Really fun solve, Stu. Broke the rebus code on 38A with two letters.

Anybody mention DEPAUL crossing STPAULIGIRL?

era/AGE only write over.

Liked the clue for 12D.

Can anyone explain how Manties=CAPES, because IHAVENOIDEA?

@DMG, nice to see you back this week.

@Z, go Tigers. Hope they win it all.

Capcha: callios (no kidding). What Stu Ockman was in constructing this puzzle?

ecanarensis 7:15 PM  

I'm with you on the 'jet' ...I really, really wanted VTOL in there, which created problems all around it. When I finally, grudgingly allowed PROP to plop in, I wanted to CALL foul, because I felt so Harri[er]ed!

Other than that stumbler, this was one of the easier rebuses for me, once (of course) I got the CALL.

Is it just me, or are foreign words becoming more & more common? And is it a sign of increasing acceptance of the Global Village, or just more cheats?

Dirigonzo 8:05 PM  

@SiS - It's time to stop denying the effects of the aging process and get some reading glasses. The clue reads "Mantles" which, loosely defined, can mean CAPE. If manties was your captcha what do you think it would mean?

Solving in Seattle 8:14 PM  

@Diri, I retrieved the puzzle from the recycling bin and looked at the clue again, and by golly you're right. I could have sworn it was an "i" instead of an "l." I didn't have my reading glasses with me at the restaurant and the glass of Riesling was pretty full.

As for a capcha "manties," I really don't want to go there.

Z 9:03 PM  

@SiS - Miggy is ailing, the new SS can't hold a bat, the old SS may be playing left field, and we don't have a good history with things like four day breaks. Am I worried? Nah. GO TIGERS! (and thanks for the shout-out)

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