Mexican hero Juraez / WED 9-18-13 / Second-highest pinochle card / Adage regarding skittishness / Plant with fluffy flower spikes / That inverted bowl per Edward FitzGerald / Green vehicle briefly

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Constructor: Paul Hunsberger

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: TENT rebus — Five "TENT" squares can be found throughout the grid

Word of the Day: E-CAR (42D: Green vehicle, briefly) —
(Engineering / Automotive Engineering) a car powered by electricity
[electric car] (
• • •

Love the crossing 15s. Rest of it is just average. Buncha tents. If there were a revealer (or if the puzzles had titles, as they really should—as all the old (and great) New York Sun puzzles did), maybe something with involving "camp," this would've had a little more vroom, a little more coherence. But as an "arbitrary letter string" rebus, this one is fine. Even though I picked up the gimmick early, I still found the puzzle much harder than usual. Knowing the TENTs were out there didn't make them that much easier to find—the two towards the east were particularly tough for me to see, since once is in a German phrase / plant I don't know (11D: Plant with fluffy flower spikes = KITTENTAILS) crossing, and the other ... I don't know, I just had a hard time finding it. That SE corner was the hardest for me by far, though I really should've grokked TENTACLE much earlier. Had "MISTER!" for "LISTEN" (!?!!) (68A: "Hey"), wasn't entirely sure about BENITO (50D: Mexican hero Juárez), had no idea about ABCD, and E-CAR? Forget about it. Never seen it in a puzzle (it's not in the cruciverb database, so I guess it's never been in a mainstream puzzle). E CAR looks like an abbr. for East Carolina, which is a university, I think. Yes. It is.

[7A: 1970s-'80s sketch comedy show]

My only real objection today is to 70A: The "cetera" of "et cetera" (SO ON). I know Latin, a bit, and that is, how you say, not ... accurate. "Cetera" is a neuter plural noun, meaning "the rest" or "the remaining." I know that the abbr. "etc." can be translated as "an SO ON," but ... no. If you want to break it down into its constituent parts, then you need to be precise about what they mean. I was so baffled by that clue that when I'd finished, and had SOON, I thought "... how in the World!?" My outrage was slightly mitigated when I realized I hadn't parsed it correctly. Two words. SO [space] ON. Still not right, but at least it's ballparky, I guess.

I'll leave you with this whimsical image of slavery. I think it depicts when the first sudoku came over on the ships from Africa. Not sure. But isn't it adorable? Also, classy.

I look forward to the sequels, "Waterboarded By Sudoku" and "Genocide-oku."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


August West 12:00 AM  


A rebus on Wednesday.


Sniffed it at GUTEN TAG/KITTENTsomethingorother, nailed it at PATENT/COMPETENTLY and then went hunting.

Finding where the rebus answers were located was aided considerably by the high percentage of Mon-Tue "worthy" fill (KID, I DO, EXT, TEN, MAT, TOY, NÉE, NAH, NOW, BARK, SSR, URL, TIMEX, IN AIR, ABCD, and SO ON). This cruddy surrounding pap went in so quickly that the remaining open spaces devolved to thin linear crossings where I needed only to pick the right place to pitch my TENTs.

The longer fill (e.g., VENGEANCE, ABOLISHES, TAKE A HINT, TEMPLETON) was bland ... okay ... but so literally clued or self-evident in their correctness as to lack any sense of zip. While I appreciate one's ability to cross ShortatTENTionspan at the mid-point of OncebitTENTwiceshy, there wasn't a single grin, groan or aha moment to be found in this grid. Chore complete.


Anonymous 12:03 AM  

Arbitrary rebus squares. Sucky fill.


jae 12:10 AM  

Ah, the rare Wed. rebus.  The PEWIT of Wednesday's if you will, and about right for a Wed. after I caught on.  So medium for me with no erasures and no WOEs. 

CLONER and TOUTER are wince inducing but the grid seems mostly fine. 

Liked the 15s, liked OCTOPI/TENTACLE, liked that I finally remembered KEW, liked the subtle hint of zip....DONG, @Rex liked SO ON that wasn't SOON, liked it.

lit.doc 12:11 AM  

Ditto "Rebus on Wednesday. Cool." Reveal could simply be a title, something about "Xtent".

Steve J 12:22 AM  

I used to hate rebuses. In fact, the first time I encountered one, I was incensed, as I thought it was completely unfair, broke the rules of crosswords (one letter a square), etc. I've since come to really enjoy them, at least when they've got something clever going on.

I wish this one had something clever going on. We have a lot of TENTs and then, well, nothing. As Rex mentioned, this is begging for some kind of revealer to give it some sorely needed zip. Instead, I just sat staring at it, wondering what I was missing. Apparently, nothing.

The long 15s are indeed very nice, both incorporating the rebus well (nice job finding phrases where the TENT could be dropped right in the center) and using solid phrases. The other theme answers were pretty good, too (other than, perhaps, KITTEN TAILS - I've known CAT TAILS, but never KITTEN TAILS; perhaps it's dialect), so while the theme lacks flair, at least it's comprised of solid fill.

SE was brutal for me, and I had to resort to a cheat to get it finished. All I had down there was DYSONS, ASWAN and CASINO (plus the horrible ECAR), and nothing else would come to me. I knew 54A was where the last TENT had to be pitched, but NOT ENTIRELY never would have occurred to me.

Incidentally, something I learned relatively recently: OCTOPI is incorrect. Octopus comes to us via Greek, but we've appended a Latin plural to it. If it were kept consistently Greek, the English plural should be octopodes (and, indeed, historically that was apparently more common). Thus endeth my bit of linguistic trivia for the day.

Steve J 12:24 AM  

Incidentally, that sudoku book cover is horrible. Must have been an amazing sequence of poor decisions that led to that.

Anonymous 12:27 AM  

Monday and Tuesday desperately needed something to make up for their less-than-stellar crosswordese/themes...and looks like we're waiting another day.

okanaganer 12:31 AM  

Lots of Canadian Content tonight!... er, today. OTTAWA (hockey season starts in a couple of weeks!), plus ONT. (notice they line up!) plus SCTV! The show and most (all?) of its stars are/were Canadians: John Candy, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, and SO ON.

I had one error: WRITTEN TEST for 25A, and EST for 22D, seemed quite reasonable to me.

Clark 12:43 AM  

I figured it out at 23A, but I sort of got it wrong. Looking at GUTAG, I thought, where's the missing TEN. And there it was at 19A. So I figured there were a bunch of missing TEN's (which works) for some reason I couldn't figure out. It never occurred to me that thinking of it as a TENT rebus would sort everything out. Doh!

Evan 12:45 AM  

The only thing I can think of as a revealer for this puzzle is that the rebus squares sorta form the outline of where the TENT stakes might go, except for the middle....and since I'm not much of a camping person (though I'm supposedly going camping this weekend), I don't know if there actually are certain tents where you would put a pole on the inside. For one of those big, fancy golf tents that you'd see at a public event, yeah, there'd be poles in the center. For a camping tent, I dunno. So that was confusing.

I generally liked the rebus answers, and thought TAKE A HINT, TEMPLETON, and VENGEANCE added some good non-theme material. Some of that short stuff is real ugly, though. I really don't like strange noun-from-a-verb conversions like TOUTER and CLONER. A ON is a bad partial, and might have been better clued as the AON Center in Chicago (though I could see many objecting to that as not suitable for a Wednesday). ATNO is one of those entries that isn't great no matter how you clue it (as the partial phrase AT NO, or the abbreviation for Atomic Number). EXT crossing TEXT struck me as a bit of a crutch. DYSONS isn't my favorite plural, though it's defensible. And as Rex said -- ECOCAR, yes, but E-CAR???

So, points for being different and throwing a rebus at us on a Wednesday, and for having some fun theme phrases. But the lack of a clear revealer is a little odd. I'd even take one of those notes where the NYT says, "When this puzzle is complete, draw a line from A, to B, to C, etc" so you can see the rough TENT shape.

Anonymous 1:05 AM  

What in the HELL is up with that book title and cover?

Chad Montgomery 1:12 AM  

I like it a lot. Thursday theme on Wednesday was a surprise. The speed solvers won't be happy.

With OTTAWA stacked right on top of ONT, why would you not pair the clues.

ECAR --- Contrived and bogus entry. Would love to see what sources and uses Shortz would point us to as justification. It'd be a hoot I bet.

It has always seemed foolish to me that the NYT doesn't use titles. That said, as bad as the titles usually are on the Sunday crosswords, it probably is for the best. Shortz is terrible with titles.

chefwen 1:14 AM  

I did the same thing as @Clark with ten before TENT, worked for me. But, I guess I'll have to chalk this up to a DNF, rats! I sure had fun doing this one and will put it in the "operator error" category. I'm used to that.

mathguy 1:22 AM  

I like rebuses so I enjoyed this one. But usually the rebus squares are in a pattern and there is a link to the word in the square. So not a great construction.

Questinia 1:24 AM  

I had this benevolent image of all of us dutifully inserting the requisite TENT in the requisite square.
That we were all fully expecting it was ultimately for a purpose.
That we would certainly happen upon the elusive yet undoubtedly unifying clue that would give each of us a transcendent moment to assuage our collective exisTENTial guilt for solving without purpose.
That when we found that reason, we would all do it again and become willing and enthusiastic scriveners of TENT.

This was a godless puzzle.

(@ jae, thank-you!)

MetaRex 2:19 AM  

LATENT? Ya might stick it in the SE where LISTEN is...and then ya might deal with the lopsidedness problem by sticking in POTENT in the NW as a match...and after all that gut work ya'd get OFL and us sayin' nah, not really...and we'd be right. Hey, constructing is hard, as I dimly remember from my days in the Maleskan salt mines...nice job by Paul H.

Aswan Casino Merits 2:41 AM  

That cross was magnificent...
and fun to be surprised on a Wednesday with "Pop Up" TENTS!!!

I did expect a reveal, not sure why and I for one would love to see titles on every puzzle, that would be fantastic.

And I beg to differ, @ Chad, I think Will has been good with titles...
Tho I suspect he didn't cross-reference ONT and OTTAWA specifically as to not draw attention to it, but yes, tres Canadiennnnn, tho I doubt most folks know SCTV had such a heavy (no pun intended, John Candy fans) contingent of North North Americans.

I had GUTAG and thought maybe that was the way Germans said "Gutten Tag" that it was German for G'Day, type of contraction...
which was a strange justification and a long way to go till it dawned on me...Rebus!!!! Yeah!

Like @Rex, I had mISTEr too so took me awhile to get TENACLE...and I love that pairing with OCTOPI.

I started off with an incorrect -S.
And I assume KITTENTAILS are somehow related to CAT O'Nine tails? Little ones?

Both the ong nontheme answers TAKEAHINT (nice!) has the letters T-E-N-T, as does TEMPLETON (Tho not in order)
and that little TNT going down all added extra atmosphere.

By the way, I thought it was TWICE Burned....but BITTEN seems better and, of course, necessary for the theme unless there was a NED rebus!
(Sharpen your pencils for THAT, Simpson freaks!)

r.alphbunker 3:13 AM  

Was the puzzle submitted during the Occupy Wall Street protests. That would explain the TENTs.

But perhaps the intent of the puzzle was that it had an inTENT?

Thought it hard because I don't expect a rebus on a Wednesday

Gareth Bain 5:38 AM  

Just a heads-up: today's LA Times by Zhouqin Burnikel is a real stonker!

dk 6:21 AM  

Just not the kind of Wednesday I look forward to. And, it took me forever to get COHORT.

**(2 Stars) unlike some I have not grown to love the rebus...

Anonymous 6:34 AM  

"I'm a wigwam! I'm a tepee!" I'm a wigwam! I'm a tepee!"

"Will you relax?! You're two tents!"

Z 7:19 AM  

I have a beautiful aerial view drawing of a tent on my finished puzzle. It is the je ne sais quoi that makes my puzzle complete.

Maybe that cover is for the Fifty Shades crowd? Maybe??

Finally, first thought at 1A was 'congress' but then I realized that 'intelligent' in the clue precluded that answer. Plato claimed Socrates said (loosely translated from the original Greek), "Never trust anyone who wants the job."

Susan McConnell 7:30 AM  

Like @Clark, I thought it was TEN. Just confused because I was putting a T in the rebus square and that meant that the letters T E & N were missing.mplus when I got to the end and there was LISTEN I was wanting it to make the theme something like LIST TEN....

For the record, I like my delusion better than just a bunch of tents. I thought the fill was about average for a Wednesday and had some zip here and there.

loren muse smith 7:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gill I. P. 7:53 AM  

Just came back from our incredible vacation and come to find that my incompeTENT neighbor forgot to water my plants! HOW CAN YOU FORGET TO WATER SOMEONES PLANTS????Waah. Maybe I'll buy some KITTENTAILS.
I found this puzzle hard. I had to travel to the basement and find PATENT before I got the rebus thing. Took forever to get OCTOPI and OTTAWA, My hurricane wanted to be SANDY - but that was last year- and though I've read "Charlotte's Web" a million times to my then children, I wanted to fit Carlton instead of TEMPLETON into that damn square. Ritz instead of OMNI, GUTAG looked just fine, isn't a TEXT written any way?
So bah over all. But I am glad to be back to my puzzledom.

Mohair Sam 7:56 AM  

Big rebus fans here, so we loved this one. Got the rebus at GUTENTAG / KITTENTAILS crossing. Dead sure of the German, and stumbled on the plant in a recently read book set in the South - I think @Steve J is right, it is likely local dialect.

LOL at Rex's comments on the Sudoku book cover. I'd love to get a tape of the "creative" meeting in which someone comes up with the idea of a handshake and manacles for suited white guy and someone else says, "Great idea!"

loren muse smith 7:58 AM  

Got the trick very early with PATENT/COMPETENTLY and was thrilled to have a rebus on a Wednesday. I immediately went up in the northeast and played around with a symmetrical TENT, saw that wasn't going to happen, and was even happier. I echo @August West and @lit.doc: not Thursday, no reveal, no (exact) symmetry – Yay! Keeps us on our toes. I applaud Will for running this on a Wednesday. (But @August West – what's bland about VENGEANCE, ABOLISHES, TAKE A HINT, and TEMPLETON? I thought they were great!)

I don't know what a croupier is, so his workplace was a "castle" for a bit. Also – I was switching between Property Envy and Sister Act II (SHORT ATTENTION SPAN and all that) and had that rat's name as "Simpleton" before I started paying ATTENTION. Sheesh.

"Idee" before PRIX. And I DO love King DONGs.

@Rex, Acme – me, too for "mister" first, wondering why "sister" or "lady" didn't come to mind, too. Just yesterday I was thinking about how LISTEN, and "look" are interchangeable for "hey." Interesting.

@Chad Montgomery – I'm with Acme – I always get a kick out of the Sunday puzzle titles.

@Steve J – seeing NOT ENTIRELY almost saved me down there, but, @jae DYSONS was my woe, and I had a dnf, thinking that first S in DYSONS was another rebus square and wanting two words and not a plural for NOS.

On TIMEX – anyone interested in such things can read about an historic trek to the North Pole back in 1986. The owner of Wintergreen Dogsledding, where my daughter and I mush, Paul Schurke, was part of the team. They navigated using a sextant, which apparently relies on the time of day. Rolex was a sponsor of this trip, and each team member was given a Rolex before they set out. Paul told me that right before they started, he was in a drug store and for some reason threw a cheap TIMEX in with the stuff he was buying. Well, in the arctic temperatures, every single Rolex stopped working. It was the TIMEX that ultimately helped lead the way to the North Pole.
North Pole

Paul H – loved your little campground! Will – loved a Wednesday rebus!

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

Lovely - a puzzle that can't be solved on iOS since there is no tent character in the keyboard (at least not one I can find).

Glimmerglass 8:02 AM  

ervcellaA rebus that is actually a rebus! That is, one draws a picture of an object which sounds like the missing syllable -- for example an eye for the pronoun I. Yes it's a bunch of tents, but they're hardly random. I thought this was an excellent Wednesday (or Thursday) puzzle. Except for SO ON, which is not, as Rex says, what "cetera" means.

wordie 8:03 AM  

E-car?!? Is that sold by e-tailers at their URL's for e-cash or bit coins? Ugh.

Imfromjersey 8:21 AM  

I recently subscribed to Tausig's American Values crosswords, and as I was solving I thought, Tausig would have had a different type of clue for 13D, wink wink.
As others did, I figured out the trick with Guten Tag. Had Ritz for OMNI briefly too. Challenging but then got easier once I grokked the rebus part.

joho 8:26 AM  

Along the already mentioned OTO/OTTAWA and fantastic OCTOPI/TENTACLE we have OTO/LISTEN and WRITTENTEXT/TOME/OPUS.

I like @Aswan Casino Merits at first thought GUTAG was an abbreviation and tried to convince myself that KITTAILS are a younger, cuter cattail. I finally got the rebus at TENTACLE/NOTENTIRELY. I love a rebus no matter what day of the week it runs ... and I loved this one, too. I'm actually surprised at the lack of love this is receiving!

I did wonder, though, if a CLONER is a TOUTER. Probably.

The center 15 crossing is spectacular.

Thank you, Paul Hunsberger! I say you got an AON this one!

joho 8:28 AM  

First word should be "Among..."

John V 8:35 AM  

Just thought that TEN was missing. Didn't occur to me that it was a rebus. Yes, challenging, esp SE.

Mitzie 8:35 AM  

1) What good is this puzzle without some sort of revealer? Or purpose? Or anything? I like rebuses as much as the next person, but come on...unless I'm missing something, just random TENTs with no explanation or revealer?

2) I don't really mind the Sudoku cover. No more offensive, for me, than seeing the word 'enslaved' in a crossword puzzle.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

@Rex, @Glimmerglass. SO ON may not be the precise Latin translation of CETERA, but at least it fits the everyday English usage of ET CETERA, which is AND SO ON (not AN SO ON). Since the ET is AND, then CETERA is SO ON. So it seems fine to me.

John V 8:47 AM  

Just thought that TEN was missing. Didn't occur to me that it was a rebus. Yes, challenging, esp SE.

jberg 8:51 AM  

Me too on finishing with WRITTEN TExT/EsT - didn't much like it, but the X just never occurred to me. It was my last letter, so I just thought "There!"

It was nice to see an Arctic TERN, just a day after someone mentioned it here.

Anyway, I liked the rebus, and also liked ABOLISHES - don't see that one much, do we? But I don't see the tent picture there - too lopsided, it would tip over in a wind.

Michael Hanko 9:07 AM  

Isn't 'sharing a TENT' a thing? Maybe that's the implied revealer.

Milford 9:20 AM  

Like @Gill I.P., I just returned from a vacation, one in which I did not a single crossword. Trying to play catch-up with puzzles, my house, my kids, and also recovering from watching the "Breaking Bad" episode I missed Sunday.

A rebus on a Wednesday! Who'da thunk. Smelled a rebus at GUTEN TAG.

Not much to add about the puzzle that others haven't already said. Agreed that it needed a revealer or just something else.

That Sudoku it a couple?

Z 9:28 AM  

I agree with @anonymous8:46. To say SO ON is not an accurate meaning for "cetera" is wrong. It may not be a one to one vocabulary match for "cetera" but it is an accurate translation for the second word in the phrase "et cetera." The complaint is the same as saying je ne sais quoi just means "I do not know what." That may be what the words mean, but the phrase means something different. To me, the beauty of the clue is, since this is the NYTimes, it might be calling for Latin vocab. But no, it is calling for the more plebeian "the SO ON part of 'and SO ON.'" There is a certain puzzle beauty to clues that trap those who know more.

@ACME - I think we need a phrase for this phenomenon - what do we call being delayed or even getting it wrong because I know too much?

Bob Kerfuffle 9:29 AM  

Always love a rebus, even more when it is not expected (based on the day of the week.)

Reminded me of a line in an old Boy Scout Handbook along the lines of, "When preparing gear for a camping trip, find what's best for all intents." (Yes, it was an inTENTional pun.)

As did ACME, I hesitated at 38 A because I thought it was "Once burned, twice shy."

Lewis 9:33 AM  

Some puzzles, we ask that the reveal be left out, and others, we cry for one when it isn't there. This is one of the latter, where I, and it seems like most of the commenters wish there was one.

If only CAMPSITE were spelled CAMPSIGHT, that would be a good reveal, with its double meaning, but oh well.

I am not happy with TOUTER. Not in the language. A TOUT, yes, IMO.

CLONER feels like its not ready to be a common word yet. Maybe in ten years.

The puzzle felt easier than a typical Wednesday to me because there were a lot of easy answers for getting footholds. And even without the reveal, it was, as usual, a fun solve for me.

@acme -- loved your "popup"!

Laurence Katz 9:40 AM  

In defense of "cetera" clue: the first definition of "etc." I learned was that it means "and so on." Not a literal translation, but expresses the meaning accurately.

chefbea 9:57 AM  

I too got the theme at patent. But DNF...had trouble in the northwest.

Shouldn't the clue for 11 down be..plantS with fluffy flower spikes.....cuz the answer is plural.

Carola 10:11 AM  

A lot of fun to solve. Similar to others....when I couldn't come up with a 5-letter German greeting (other than the unlikely "Hallo"), I figured there was a rebus. Finally found it in the SW with PATENT/COMPETENTLY and then enjoyed the hunt for the rest. Had the most trouble with the terrific TENTACLE - for a moment wondered if we were also going to have a barn(ACLE).

Slowed down in the center by thinking "ONCE Burned TWICE SHY" and by two ERRORS up top: CAPn and A iN (thinking of a class rather an exam).

Liked learning KITTENTAILS and the two contrasting non-TENT structures, TEMPLE and CASINO.

I also stared at the completed grid, wondering about a theme that tied the TENTS together - came here to find out what I was missing :) After the fun of solving, it doesn't seem quite fair to call the puzzle NOT ENTIRELY satisfying because of the lack of a reveal, but still...

ArtO 10:15 AM  

A Wednesday rebus! Certainly got my at-tent-ion.


quilter1 10:38 AM  

Cattails, yes. Pussywillows, yes. KITTENTAILS, never. Otherwise I found it pretty easy and solved before finishing my first cuppa.

quilter1 10:41 AM  

Oh, and in Iowa TEMPLETON is a locally produced rye whiskey that is supposed to be excellent. Don't drink it myself.

wa 10:42 AM  

Knew there was something going on due to the 15 letter clues but initially thought it had to do with short and shy.

Rebus-to take Greyhound again or many country stars.

mac 10:44 AM  

Tough Wednesday, and a nice surprise rebus. I had to dance around for a while until I got the trick, then it fell smoothly.

I think we've established several times that octopi is wrong, but I did write it in right away...

Weird how I mentioned the arctic tern yesterday, and it showed up in the puzzle today.

The V in vengeance was the last letter I filled in. Beautiful word.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:49 AM  


Sandy K 10:50 AM  

Got the rebus at GUTENTAG...I'm with those that liked the rebus, but were not ENTIRELY satisfied w/o a revealer- or as Rex said- a title.

Liked @Acme's "Pop-up tents"...

@Carola- PB puz could've been called 'Think Outside the Box.'
"As you wish" clue sounded like I Dream of Jeannie, whereas other clue sounded like Pres, Obama, maybe, saying,"Well, okay then"...we won't bomb Syria. SO BE IT.

Jeopardy question last night- Who played PAVLOVA in a 1952 movie musical?

Steve J 10:54 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: Thanks for that kittentail link. Meant to look that up last night but didn't. Definitely not just another name for cat tail or pussy willow. Different plant altogether, I see (and I've seen them many times when heading up into the mountains here in California).

Questinia 11:01 AM  

@ Bob Kerfuffle, thank-you for the link to the magnificent wildflower! Don't have them in the NE and for some reason I didn't think kittentails were native. They're blue!
Completely penitent regarding this puzzle now.

Citizens for Commercial-free Puzzles 11:15 AM  

One brand name in a puzzle is bad enough, but three (TIMEX,
DYSON, OMNI)? Only a TOUTER would use that many
brand names in a puzzle.

And to pick another nit: there's nothing specific to e-tailers
about a URL; it can be the address for all sorts of entities
that don't sell anything, so referring to e-tailers in the clue
for 66A is a misleading distraction.

Two Ponies 11:17 AM  

I always love a rebus esp. when I'm not expecting it. I really enjoyed solving this. I thought it played about average in difficulty for a Wed.

August West 11:32 AM  

@lms: Hi Loren,

There's nothing wrong with ABOLISHES, TAKEAHINT, et al, per se, each potentially powerful answers, if more dynamically clued. As noted in my op, they struck me as bland today, when they could have been spectacular. I mean, once you've already inserted SCTV, HARE and OPEN, what else could the theme of "Ben Hur" be? TEMPLETON *is* the rat from "Charlotte's Web," and SO ON. I just entered them with a perfunctory detachment because, "OK, that's that," without any sense of snap. . Imagine the same fill clued by Jeff Chen.

gifcan 11:40 AM  

Must have been in my wheelhouse as I had an easy F (as opposed to DNF).

I had ONCEBITTEN . . . What? Oh, a rebus!

I thought KITTENTAILS was going to be KITTENToes as a variant of pussytoes but it fell short.

Enjoyed the puzzle. Liked @Mohair Sam's suited-white-guy comment.

Tachyjacky 11:42 AM  

Whenever I come across a puzzle that seems all wrong, and my answers don't fit, I usually assume I am an idiot and quit, only to come here and find out it was a Rebus. I have always despised Rebus puzzles, so much so that they ruin my day. My brain just refuses to process in that way and I do not like being "bad" at things! Until today, that is! I got this puzzle right from the get-go. The little lightbulb went off in my brain {this is a rebus!} and I plowed through the puzzle. One of my all-time best Wednesday times with NO errors. Made my day! I am hopeful that when next I encounter a clue and my very answer is too long for the boxes.....I won't quit , because I can do Rebus puzzles now. Ya think?

CJ from Green Bay 11:45 AM  

Wow. All the theme answers intersect. Clearly, this puzzle was meant to be.

Rex. What, no paperback cover story behind your featured Sudoku book? Maybe over at your alternate site? Looks like a crime story theme, to me, with a bit of romance mixed in. Plus, "enslaved" gives it a kinky possibility or two...


Jim in Chicago 12:46 PM  

Grasping at straws to explain the appearance of multiple tents today. Today does mark the beginning of the Jewish Harvest festival "Sukkot" during which observant Jews build little huts that look sort of like tents. The name of the structure is Sukkah, which I imagine would be pretty hard to turn into a rebus!

Ray J 12:46 PM  

Loved it. I can relate to both 15s.

@jae: Hand up for finally remembering KEW.

@Bob Kerfuffle: Yes, the MERIT badge gives it a bit of a scouting feel. OTH CAPT and AMMO put it in the military camp.

@Lewis: I think CAMPSIGHT woulda been great.

A few things that would have made me happy: The pairing of VESTIBULE & FOOTPRINT (yes, I realize the grid has no room for two extra 9s) with a FLY and a FLAP thrown in for good measure. I understand those first two would probably be outliers for the non-backpacking contingent.

BlueStater 12:56 PM  

I (predictably) did not care for this one at all. The invasion of rebuses and other non-Xword phenomena into the rest of the week continues. I particularly object to piling Pelion upon Ossa in 55D, where there's the trick (rebus, TACLE --> TENTACLE) *plus* a curveball clue ("Arm of the sea?"). Not fair, I think. Then there's the error Rex pointed out. No competent copy editor would have let SO ON into the paper as a definition of "cetera," but my guess is that the puzzles don't have to go through the copy desk. Another bad idea for a paper that used to care about accuracy..

Z 1:04 PM  

@TachyJacky and new solvers - The key to Fridays, Saturdays, Rebuses and the like is often, I believe, a little self-confidence. Whether you think you can solve it or you think you can't solve it, you're right.

wreck 1:06 PM  

Well -- I like the rebus puzzles! I see we are still on a pattern of being one day ahead of the normal "difficulty" factor.

Notsofast 1:52 PM  

Medium for me; and lots of fun! REALLY liked "Writer's block buster" - that alone earns a tip o' the hat! But I agree that five random tents, with no why or wherefore is damned strange. Are we all missing something?

ahimsa 1:54 PM  

I have to start by applauding @Rex's comments on that "Enslaved by Sudoku" book. Yeah, "classy" is just about the right word for it. (sarcasm alert!)

I enjoyed the puzzle. A bit challenging, yes, and tricky to have a rebus on Wednesday. But the puzzle did not seem as hard as most Thursdays so I thought it fit for today. So thanks to Paul Hunsberger for the fun puzzle!

However, as @Questinia imagined, I dutifully filled in all the TENTs and then wondered, "Am I missing something?" (maybe it is "pop up" tents?) Oh, and I didn't think to draw a little triangle (solving on paper) so I have a scrunched up TENT in each square. I need to see the actual letters when I'm solving in order to figure it out. :-)

I had never heard of KITTENTAILS that was fun to learn. I was hoping to see a photo in the write-up so thanks to @Bob Kerfuffle for the link.

@TachyJacky, congrats on completing a rebus puzzle! That's great.

So many comments already, and I'm sure I missed something, but I gotta get going.

Henry Ford 1:55 PM  

@Z - Ahem. Remember to cite your references when quoting (or paraphrasing) someone.

Bird 1:56 PM  

Looks like someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.

Wasn’t expecting a rebus on a Wednesday, but I liked it. Sussed it out at the crossing of 25A and 5D. Had WRITTEN TEST at first, but EST didn’t make sense. Love the long crosses.

Only nits are for 20A (at least it wasn’t clued for the insurer) and, IMO, memorable connotes goodness (in fact synonyms in Word include brilliant, outstanding, superb, and terrific) and I would rather forget IRENE.

I think a revealer would have made this puzzle too easy. I liked the challenge of discovering why I couldn’t fill in answers when I know I’m right.

We have E-CAR and E-Tailer. I know we all hate E-stuff, but it looks like WS doesn’t mind it so I guess we are stuck for now.

Happy Humpday!

Dick S 2:03 PM  

Et cetera = so on?

Cheap usage, could say the same for et alii and et seq. when all three have distinct meanings.

Et sic de similibus.

Masked and AnonymoUUUs 2:06 PM  

har. Follow-up volume in the series:
"Sudjoku Unchained". [the D is silent]

Poor Shortzmeister probably had about as much to do with designin that book cover as I did. And then gets his name plastered all over it. Welcome to the publishin biz, dude. Sorta like what Constructor Paul thought, when he saw 50% of his puzs clues today.

M&A and Enslaved by 10-Down.

stairbob 2:09 PM  

I guess I don't have a SHORTA◬IONSPAN because I saw the rebus right away and finished this one much faster than Monday's. Hurrah?

oldbizmark 2:24 PM  

i am not complaining too much because it was fun but some of the fill was junky. "A ON" and "NAH" are two such examples. Otherwise, i don't see how this was a "CHALLENGING" puzzle. The fill came easy with "OCTOPI" and "OTTAWA" out of the gate and pretty much filled itself in and revealed the revealed like a flasher with no clothes on. I was expecting to see "EASY."

Z 2:34 PM  

@Henry Ford - Only when the source is known and relevant. Generally speaking, one shouldn't believe everything one reads on the internet, but The Henry Ford is probably more reliable than your average website and they don't source the quote to you. I am full of aphorisms and adages from Aesop to "Ben Franklin." So, while I agree that Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy, I recognize that it probably wasn't Ben who first said it and no longer attribute the saying to him. Now, "In the long run people are going to buy the cheapest and the best article no matter where it is made," that was you. Over and out.

OISK 2:55 PM  

Loved this one. Happy to see it called "Challenging" since I had little trouble and much enjoyment. For me, this was easier than yesterday's pop-culture infused Tuesday. I actually missed a square yesterday, having never heard of the Bangles. (didn't get to post yesterday, but it annoys me when words like "pink" and "bangles," which can be clued so many ways, are clued using rock groups or people - is "pink" a person?- completely unfamiliar to me. I understand that others enjoy it). Today, though, really great puzzle! Wonderful! Thank you!

Henry Ford 2:56 PM  

@Z - You'd better do some more research as there are more (reliable) sites than not that cite me as the source of that quote.

And relevance should not be a factor when citing a source.

Anonymous 3:36 PM  

This is an example of why I like to attempt to solve puzzles first using across clues only. I could not get the rebus gimmick that way, and once I started to use down clues it fell apart very quickly. I don't use the online version and I don't very often remember to time myself, but I'd estimate well under 4 minutes. Now what do I do with the rest of my lunch hour? Very easy for a Wednesday, I thought. -Skeptic 53

jus' wonderin' 3:48 PM  

@Henry Ford - Do any of these "more (reliable) sites" tell you when you said this or where you wrote it?

sasses 4:11 PM  

Just a thought that SHORT at (TENT) ion SPAN could be the reveal.

Brett 4:28 PM  

I am crestfallen at the lack of symmetry in the theme output. An arbitrary gimmick, arbitrarily constructed. Harrumph.

sanfranman59 4:43 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)

Wed 13:01, 9:44, 1.34, 97%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 8:23, 5:36, 1.50, 99%, Challenging

Rex Parker 6:14 PM  

You cash a check, your name's on the book, you probably should care a *little* about what the book looks like. A TAD. A BIT. A SKOSH. E-CAR.


Rob C 8:10 PM  

Challenging Wed. for me. Someone commented yesterday that the puzzles seem a day ahead on the difficulty scale this week. A rebus on a Wed. is QED for that theory. Themeless tomorrow? I liked the unexpected challenge.

Like @Clark and many others it appears, I thought it was TEN that was missing at first. I also stared at GUTAG and KITTAIL for a while and tried to convince myself it was right.

Tita 8:20 PM  

@Clark et alia - I merrily put little "10"s everywhere, till I realized tha' tweren't working.

We have a giant orange tent, with a pole in the middle, @Evan, that we used to bring to Jones Beach. Was great when we were mere wains - jump inside for a catnap, changing out of sandy suits...

Veiled words was cute - and stepdaughter wore a sassy veil when she said IDO 2 weeks ago. (See it in the pic?

@acme - me too, wondering if GUTAG was au courant...

I grew KIT[TENT]AILS from seed last year. But I think the seedpacket called them bunnyTAILS.

@Gill - if you lived on the right coast you wouldn't confuse those 2 hurricanes... :(
As to your plants - we were gone for 3 weeks, and had similar results. They're mostly rebounding...

@lms - great TIMEX story!

@bobk - I guess bunnyTAILS are totally different - thx.

OK - sucker for a rebus - thanks Mr. H.

sanfranman59 10:36 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 6:22, 6:06, 1.04, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Tue no data
Wed 13:16, 9:44, 1.36, 97%, Challenging (6th highest ratio of 194 Wednesdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:01, 3:48, 1.06, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Tue no data
Wed 8:01, 5:36, 1.43, 99%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 194 Wednesdays)

Aaron 11:36 PM  

This puzzle contains a number of similarities to that of October 12, 2006, by Dave Tuller. For one, it's exactly the same theme. Tuller's also specifically uses "guTENTag" and "once bitTEN Twice shy".

BedfordBob 12:11 PM  

Since I complained about yesterdays puzzle, I thought I needed to post today. Thank you Paul H. It was the most fun I have every had on a Wednesday (with a NYT puzzle at least).

I speak German and had the AG at the end of GUTENTAG and thought I smelled a rat. Then I had SHORT ? SPAN and that was my aha! moment.

I love rebuses (rebi?)and the words came quickly to fill in the things I didn't know.

Great puzzle for me.

spacecraft 12:16 PM  

Wedensday: middle of the rebusiness week! Hump day (maybe we should rename it HEMP day). Lot of imperfections in this one; like life, I guess. I agree with @Gill I. P. that WRITTENTEXT is a lot like green paint, and with @Lewis that TOUTER is bad: TOUT fills both noun and verb roles here.

Also, our TENTs have been pitched in asymmetrical squares. I know, I know, "Why don't YOU try it then?" But I guess we've become spoiled. We expect features to be symmetrical, otherwise we start thinking the constructor in incompeTENT (this one is not, trust me). Look at the long fill, and the solid work on the corner 6-stacks.

I glommed onto it right away in the NW: had PENI_ at 5d and needed something to pass the censors. Despite never having heard of KITTENTAILS, I found this layout to be no more than easy-medium. The biggest WOE for me was parsing 70a. I looked at the completed grid, and SOON, and the clue again...Finally it hit me: a post-solve aha! moment. Actually, the latin word "cetera" literally means "others." Sorry, Peter.

Solving in Seattle 2:08 PM  

I was TENTative at first, but caught on to the rebus with the 15 crosses. Checked my iPhone to make sure it was Wednesday. Otherwise, kinda easy.

DMG 2:47 PM  

Enjoyed this one. Caught on at PAT(tent) when I wondered why the clue didn't indicate an abbreviation! Never heard of NEOcortex ( will look it up), and just shook my head at SOON which I parsed as one word. Sometimes you just have to accept and let some one wiser explain!

rain forest 3:42 PM  

Enjoyed this one, and I'd rate it relatively easy, even though my time, if I timed, might not say so. That's the problem with using solving times--they really only cater those care about how long they take. This puzzle was easier than last Friday's, but took me about the same length of time (estimated) because I was slow to see TENT as the rebus. Finally got it at the PATENT/COMPETENTLY cross, and then it was pretty smooth from that point.

As always, some of us are more bothered by awkward fill than are others.

capcha; neentex adjacent to the neocortex

Dirigonzo 4:15 PM  

I spent far too long staring at a partially filled grid wondering why absolutely nothing would work when I decided I had to somehow cram SHORTATTENTIONSPAN, which I knew had to be correct, into the allotted space. Things got remarkably easier after that first TENT popped up and I already pretty much knew where the others would be found due to my earlier trouble with things I thought should be right but wouldn't fit. As usual, my completed grid was NO(TENT)IRELY correct with OWS, WRITTENTEsT.

@Z wrote: "@ACME - I think we need a phrase for this phenomenon - what do we call being delayed or even getting it wrong because I know too much?" I don't know what you call it but I think the principal behind it is, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but too much is downright lethal". Or something like that, anyway.

ecovto - the "green" version of an aircraft that can take off from a very short runway.

Ginger 6:58 PM  

Took me forever to realize it's a rebus. KIT TAILS sounded okay, kept thinking it was related to a pussy willow. Thanks @Bob Kerfuffle for the link. I've seen the plant many times but didn't know the name. ONCEBITTWICESHY sounded okay too...then ... finally, NO(T)IRELY tipped me off. Went north and filled in all the weird squares. Toyed briefly with (ten) not.

Personally, I enjoyed the AHA, it's a gimmick. Somehow it's more challenging without a reveal or a note. I also like the randomness of the TENTS. Nature is not often symmetrical, nor are any campgrounds where I've pitched a tent.

TAM 8:02 PM  

PDT here. Yes, rebus on Wednesday was a bit surprising but fun. For me the revealer was the TENT at the middle of the two 15-cel crossings. Took awhile to figure it out.

shyesor 8:16 PM  

Chad Montgomery: I never have understood "speed solving". If I am doing a really fun puzzle, I might come back to it several times over a few days, doubling or tripling my pleasure. Can you imagine telling your lover "that was really great, honey, I think we climaxed in record time!"?15

Dirigonzo 9:55 PM  

@TAM & @shyesor - comments like yours are why I am glad blogger offers an email update on comments. Thanks for joining the party!

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