Intermediate in law / THU 8-21-14 / Cryptozoological beast / bag of shells Ralph Kramden malapropism / 1948 Literature Nobelist

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Constructor: Jules P. Markey

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: POST OFFICE BOXES (39A: Mail conveniences … or a hint to eight squares in this puzzle) — eight PO boxes, one at the beginning of each word in four two-word theme phrases:

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: MESNE (47A: Intermediate, in law) —
1. (Law) intermediate or intervening: used esp of any assignment of property before the last: a mesneassignment.
2. (Law) mesne profits rents or profits accruing during the rightful owner's exclusion from his land
[C15: from legal French meien in the middle, mean³]
• • •

Very easy, as rebus puzzles go. Once you grok the concept, you can sail through this thing pretty easily. There is a certain elegance to the execution here, as the "PO" boxes follow a pattern. More often (I think … I may be making this up, but I feel like it's more often) rebus boxes are more haphazardly arranged in the grid, balanced in terms of overall dispersal, but not perfectly regular and predictable, as they are today. As a solver, I tend to like the unpredictable arrangement better, but there' something to be said for tying your one little letter pattern ("PO") tightly to the longer "theme" answers. I can't decide  today if the predictable positioning makes the puzzle more or less dull. There's a certain repetitiveness that sets in once you figure out the rebus pattern you're searching for. Once you realize you're just hunting "PO"s … yeah. Then that's what you're doing. At least the four longer answers give you some kind of additional structural integrity. You're not just playing "find the PO"—you actually get results at the end where "PO" matters. Still, there was something workmanlike about this. Maybe it's that the puzzle was just too easy, or the answers weren't interesting or the clues clever enough. There just wasn't any "ooh" moment.

Biggest problem here was probably the fill, which is below average in too many places. I can take an ITER on the chin now and then, but when you give me an ITER / MESNE combo, I'm gonna get a little PO'd (20A: Roman road + 47A: Intermediate, in law). I think AMERE is one of the worst partials (5 letters) I've ever seen (7D: "___ bag of shells" (Ralph Kramden malapropism)). ALAW is a pretty strong contender in the 4-letter category (14A: Is ___ unto oneself). Actually, now that I really look at it, the rest of the grid is solid enough—it's just dull. SOPORIFIC (ironically, the most exciting answer in the grid, along with MAKE A FIST) (8D: Sleep-inducing + 3D: Prepare to give blood). The whole thing was a walk around the block—nice, but insufficient exercise, and I'll have forgotten about it 15 minutes after it's done.

I don't think POISON POWDER is a thing. Or, rather, I know that it *is* a thing, as I googled it. But if the first (entire) page of results is any indication, it's exclusively a Pokémon thing. According to, "Poison Powder causes the target to become poisoned. Poisoned Pokémon lose 1/8 of their maximum HP each turn." Whatever that means.

I really wish this theme had been tied to the police. I mean, POPO describes this theme a helluva lot better than POST OFFICE BOXES does. Hmm, there appears to be a Mr. Popo in the Dragon Ball universe. Before I explain what Dragon Ball is and how it does and does not relate to Pokémon, I'm just gonna sign off.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Zeke 12:14 AM  

None of you, none, could understand the fullness of excitement I felt when switching to the comments, hoping against hope, hope that had turned to certainty based solely on my need, that one of you had explained "what Dragon Ball is and how it does and does not relate to Pokémon".

How am I to sleep with this disappointment swirling around my head, my soul? How could I possibly sleep?

wreck 12:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
wreck 12:19 AM  

I somewhat see Rex's complaint about "Poison Powder" not being really common, but doesn't Ricin fit the bill as such?
This was easy-medium for me as I caught the PO rebus right off the bat at TEMPO.

Whirred Whacks 12:45 AM  

I liked this a lot (more than the Rexster), but I believe that he came up with the cleverest use of PO in this review sentence:

"I'm gonna get a little PO'd"

Made me smile!

jae 1:32 AM  

Easy-medium for me too.  Pretty much what Rex said, solid but lackluster.  

Liked the clue for ASHE.

Had uke  before LEI and Clot before CAKE and had no idea about MESNE (thanks Rex).

Another luke warm liked it.

RnRGhost57 1:50 AM  

Pleasant rebus, perfect for a late summer Thursday . . .

chefwen 2:27 AM  

@jae - Stop it! My first fill was uke, thinking "how could someone living here, not know that"? Second fill was Clot. Are we joined at the hip or what?

Not too easy for me, caught on early enough, but ran into difficulties around POP CORN POPPER as I had GAsket before GARTER and mooch before SPONGE, that threw a whole wrench into the system. Finally unraveled most of it, but still had a few white spots that remained unfilled. Dang! Hate when that happens on my favorite puzzle day.

Loren Muse Smith 4:44 AM  

I can't believe this – I couldn't help but be, for me, a spoilsport and look at the clue for 39A and guessed immediately POST OFFICE BOXES and the rebus. I flew through this like nobody's business.

Rex – I agree with @Whirred Whacks - your PO'd was great, but your POPO idea was even better.

Liked MODERN right next to OLDIE and MAKE A FIST right next to POWER POLITICS. Cool.

@M&A – I'll respond to your protractor advice over at the runt site, unless those guys start to get annoyed there, too. (Hey – then we'll just have to figure out how to have a blog where we can simply chat sometimes! I live *way* out in the country and *way* away from like-minded people, so the temptation to run my mouth here with those I consider some of my favorite people is just too great. . .!)

Jules – can't pooh-pooh this one. Fun rebus and neat idea.

mac 5:00 AM  

Easy but nice rebus, I enjoyed the solve. I got the theme pretty early on, at POsition, so it fell quickly.

I like the double Is starting at 32A and "make a fist".

Gill I. P. 6:38 AM  

A MERE bag of shells sealed this deal for me and since I am the pineapple of POlitness, I will add loving SOPORIFIC (which I could use about now).
Caught on early like the rest of ye all. TEAPOT gave it away for me. Yay, go looking for the PO's and, I did.
MESNE was my biggest head scratcher but OLDIE/MODERN gave me the M I needed.
Thank you Jules (I love that name) Markey. This was a fun rebus....

Nooby 6:44 AM  

Am I the only one that couldn't bail on EXPANSIVE (versus EXTENSIVE)? I had no idea on the legal term cross and stared at G_RPER forever. Never crossed my mind to change EXPANSIVE as it fit the clue so well. Or so I thought.

Moly Shu 6:53 AM  

Stuck on the AMERE/TARRED cross, just couldn't get that R for the longest time. Other than that, mostly easy. MAKEAFIST straight in and the rebus at TEMPO, hi @Wreck. leech before SPONGE, nes before WII, and wanted saber rattling to somehow fit at 4 down. Learned MESNE, and always like different clues for LOO. Nice little rebus, liked it.

Tita 7:16 AM  

Same writeovers as @jae & @chefwen, and @nobody - I went from EXploSIVE to Expansive before finally getting it right.

I was working late, which was definitely SOPORIFIC, so I didn't get that the PO placements were predictable. Hey - Poisoned POkemmon fits the theme too.

But I digress... The puzzle played harder for me since a) I try to avoid looking at the reveal till I just can't make any more headway, and 2), not seeing the symmetry.

Fun fact - scans and ocrs newspapers starting from the 1700s. I found this by post-googling to see if CARL MESNE is a thing - or, um, a who. And he is - somewhere in Tennessee in the 60's.

Also loved 6 Down - wanted to drop in LALALA right away, but that uke kept it at bay for a long time.

Thanks, Mr. Markey, for the fun Thursday rebus!

jburgs 7:20 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle.
Have never come across ANA (All Nippon Airline) before.
Could someone explain the Kramden malapropism?

Regarding Mark Twain. I read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court last year. I was expecting a light hearted type of read (Disney make a movie from it didn't they?). Was a big surprise to find it was such biting satire.

Susierah 7:20 AM  

Well this was much harder for me, but I loved it! Great Thursday fun. I did not get the rebus until spoke for umbrella part. Then, yes it became easier to fill in all those blank spaces. Spent a long time trying to finish up the pole position area. I had top position, but when I finally saw "lei", and erased "top" was I able to finish. But, it took me 56 minutes.

I don't see what "predictable pattern" Rex is talking about. I'm just not seeing an order of the po's. Let me go back to my puzzle and stare at it.

Tita 7:24 AM  

Must add - I googled the Kramden quote - unable to figure out what the phrase was that was being corrupted. Learned about "a string of poloponies" from Ralph's buddy Norton.
Can't say I much liked the Honeymooners, but I do like the round-about link back to today's theme.

(I never liked the sitcoms where the main character never, ever, gets a break.)

So google has sourced enough of our crowd to identify lots of these street addresses, that now it is using them as the actual captcha? Grrr. Now we are being forced to increase the accuracy of the work we already did for them. I guess not enough folks entered 42.

Susierah 7:24 AM  

Never mind, now I see it, but I think it is a pretty week criticism, and it didn't help me finish any quicker seeing the pattern.

AnnieD 7:57 AM  

Ah I see. According to Bill Butler, "a mere bag of shells" was supposed to be "a mere bagatelle" or a trifle. I had no idea...I kept looking for a spoonerism...

Mohair Sam 8:07 AM  

Liked this one a lot. Impressed that there was a pattern to the rebus, not a random sprinkling of PO's.

@nooby - Yes, you had company with EXpaNSIVE for EXTENSIVE. Drove us nuts for too long: "Hey Honey, do you use a GARpER when you water the flowers?", "No? Hmmm, Maybe LIEGE is wrong. . ."

@Rex used up the PO jokes I was planning here. Maybe we PO in the LOO? Sorry.

Glimmerglass 8:12 AM  

@annieD. Thanks for the idea that "a mere bag of shells" was originally a corruption "bagatelle." To me, it's always made sense as a metaphor. A bag of peanut shells is worthless. Or clamshells or any kind of throwaway containers -- even spent ammunition.

Arlene 8:22 AM  

I had UKE and EXPANSIVE before getting to the right answers. Is there a pattern to the PO's - it's not symmetrical.

Casco Kid 8:24 AM  

Analytical labs test unknown white powders every day. Sure, POISONED POWDER is most definitely a thing, especially in Agatha Christie as in The Pale Horse, where thallium was laced into talc. Excellent clue.

1:04. One brainless error as I spelled soporific wrong and finished with LEr for LEI. Doh! But what a fun puzzle 24 minutes until I finally read the theme revealer clue, and then I was able to fix lots of wrongness.

NW took 20 minutes by itself. rate before TEMPO. I had MAKEAFIST but took out MAKE when it didn't cross anything. [ is _____ unto oneself] was left then done then AmAn before finally ALAW. TACIT didn't click. Couldn't remember ITER. PlayPOLITICS before POWERPOLITICS. What a nightmare the NW was.

George Barany 8:24 AM  

Nice POuPOurrii of comments. Need to summarize in a POwerPOint presentation.

AliasZ 8:29 AM  

This is my kind of theme, I mean, in real life it is what I do all day long: cut PO's -- purchase orders. It is great spending other people's money, just ask your favorite shoPOholic POlitician.

A POrtentous POlemic may POtentially POllute this POwwow on a POtPOurri of POints from POlish POetry to POrtuguese POttery, so I'll POstPOne my POmPOus POstaPOcalyptic POwerPOint exPOsé and instead, grab my POmPOms and POse with a POrPOise for a POintillist POrtrait.

This here is A MERE bag of shells. Enjoy!

joho 8:58 AM  

I remember learning ITER when I first starting solving so it brings back happy times.

I always love a rebus and this puzzle is no exception. POSTOFFICEBOXES is a great reveal which cleverly turns the grid's BOXES into POBOXES. Fun!

My favorites were MAKEAFIST and LALALA where I could actually see and hear somebody with their hands over their ears.

I thought this anything but SOPORIFIC and a puzzle I'll surely remember more than 15 minutes ... thanks, Jules!

bswein99 9:05 AM  

I agree--a little too easy for a Thursday. But still fun. It's anachronistic to call serfs a "CLASS" but I did like the sprinkling of feudal clues: serfs, LIEGE, and (de)MESNE.

Lindsay 9:13 AM  

If you put POISON POWDER in POST OFFICE BOXES you will find yourself in a federal court ALAW.

I learned this the hard way.

Hartley70 9:26 AM  

I always am happy to see a rebus and this was fun even if a bit on the easy side. I saw the trick right away from POPCORN POPPER, but I liked PITH. I also fiddled with EXPANSIVE and CLOT for a minute. ASHE was nice. My last fill was AMERE. I'd never heard the quote but it worked. It was an enjoyable puzzle that ended too soon.

Z 9:31 AM  

I'm firmly in the Like It camp. I wandered around without much until ISOLDE gave me a foothold that eventually led to S(PO)KE which made POST OFFICE BOXES obvious. The solve went quickly from there. I wonder how many frequent solvers put in NES before WII. I also noted, again, that FLORA and FaunA are both five letters and you have to wait for the crosses before you fill in the middle. ASHE was a gimme here, with son #2 returning to school in ASHEville (he's actually camping down there right now). I had no idea what E(PO)NYM was going to be until I got the theme, though.

A little surprised at how long Agatha Christie has been dead. According to Wikipedia she has sold roughly 4,000,000,000 books. That's a lot of books, none of them insipid. (PO)ISON (PO)WDER seems much in keeping with my remembrance of her mysteries. I probably haven't read one in 30 years, though, so maybe the murders were gorier than I remember.

@Tita - 42 Forever! But the Google Overlords are pretty insistent these days.

Laurence Katz 9:42 AM  

Like Nooby, I filled in "expansive," which left me to contemplate a "garper" ("Mesnea" was just as meaningless to me as "mesne," so no worries there).
Strange but enjoyable solving experience for me in that the first answer I filled in was "postofficeboxes" and went looking for the POs after that. Never figured out a rebus so fast before.

chefbea 9:57 AM  

Guess this puzzle was made for us!! Puzzle husband spent 31 years working at the PO and we now live in North Carolina...not Ashville...near the water.

Was a fun puzzle. Loved hose attachment!!

Carola 10:06 AM  

Rainy morning, cup of tea, rebus puzzle....ahhhh. Speaking of tea, I saw TEAPOT and EPONYM right away and filled in the reveal....then slowed way down but eventually got it all. Loved POPCORN POPPER (one of nature's perfect foods) and, well, all the long PO entries.

Add me to the momentary GARpERs - I had to go back and see if the clue said something like "Follower of John Irving."

Besides the grid felicities others have mentioned, I liked RAPT + ELATE, DEPOSE + MESNE, PHONY + SPONGE. Interesting to see the Wizard of Oz theme continue with TOTO.

Bonus; I learned how to spell SOPORIFIC. In my head it had always been "sopoforic." Yikes.

@Z - Yes on "nes" but only lightly pencilled in :)
@bswein99 - Nice feudal connections. ISOLDE could join them, too.
@Annie D - Thanks for explaining the bag of shells.

Ellen S 10:07 AM  

I had jal (and then twA) for the carrier to Tokyo, and ddt for the weedkiller and I was starting to think Will had found an ancient puzzle that had fallen behind his desk, or not his, but Maleska's, or Margaret Farrar's, and decided not to waste it. Reference to Ayatollah Khomeini didn't bring it much closer into the present day. So when I found the rebus and began to actually solve the puzzle, it was a great relief.

Nancy 10:14 AM  

Have you noticed how the smartest people in American history all seem to have been Deists? (48A) Always a good guess when you don't know the religious belief.

Agree that this was a bit too easy for a Thursday, but enjoyable. I didn't like the clue "first place" for POLE POSITION at all and I still don't get A MERE. Other than that, fair and fun.

jberg 10:14 AM  

Easy enough, and figuring out the malapropism justifed AMERE for me. Bt I really didn't like the partials, esp. WIN big. American SAMOA wasn't much better!

ANA does go to Tokyo, but from where? Pretty obscure in the US market, but its initials are going to get it into puzzles!

I had the Clot, but not the uke. But I did, for some reason, put down 'idylS' for the utopian settings, which had me stumped for the umbrella part!

Notsofast 10:20 AM  

LOVED ' a mere bag of shells". Miss Gleason a lot.
A fun solve with some snappy fill. Thanks, JPM.

quilter1 10:26 AM  

I had bare an arm before MAKE A FIST, and made the expansive mistake but over all easy and fun once I spotted my mistakes. I like a rebus puzzle as much as the next solver. GARTER reminds me of high school. I am older than panty hose and girls were expected to wear skirt or dresses and nylon hose, so garter belts were necessary. Sitting on garters all day was, excuse me, a pain.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:32 AM  

OK puzzle.

Another hand up for UKE before LEI.

When I had just finished the grid, I was ready to plead for an explanation of "A MERE bag of shells."
Then I convinced myself it must be a reference to "bagatelle," and soon found this confirmed in the Comments.
BUT, "bagatelle" still does not sound to me like something Ralph Kramden would say, or want to say!

The Humour Analyst 10:59 AM  

Zeke, my good fellow, perhaps you should eschew any further attempts at sarcastic wit. Trust me, it is Not your forte.

Please reconsider. I say this from the pineapple of POliteness.

Charles Flaster 11:05 AM  

Love it.

mathguy 11:06 AM  

I agree with Rex exactly. Probably the easiest rebus I've ever done.

AliasZ: Nice post!

Charles Flaster 11:13 AM  

EZ in 11 minutes.Last two Fridays and Saturdays have all been close but DNF for all four so I was happy to get a fun,easy rebus.
Got PO early at soporific and loved the clue.
Rex-- mesne/iter are both old time crosswordEASE so that helped.
As an aside does anyone gave a good resource for Puns and Anagrams especially by Mel Taub? Always look forward to them.
Thanks for a solid puzzle to JPM.

joho 11:27 AM  

@Charles Flaster, crosswordEASE: good one!

And so true when our familiar "friends" show up.

Master Melvin 11:32 AM  

@Tita: Actually Ralph Kramden gets the biggest break of all at the end of most episodes when he discovers (again) that he has a wife who loves him deeply despite all his screwups. And we end with a smooch and "Baby, you're the greatest."

Pete 11:46 AM  

Thank god we have a professional Humor Analyist among us. I didn't get @Zeke's joke - what was it?

John Child 12:07 PM  

@Casco Kid you were ahead of me today. I finished faster but had multiple errors. Not medium here at all. I spent a lot of time looking for state postal code rebuses and found several down various rabbit holes, but was outdone by this puzzle.

Leapfinger 12:07 PM  

Reuned last night with a West Coast ex-niece-in-law last seen about 20 years ago. As a conversation-carrier, she hadn't lost a thing, which was good for the rest of us: that meal of duck confit, scallops, reductions ad absurdio, et ceterae had left the other 6 of us quite SOPORIFIC.

I'm blaming all the blood flow abandoning my brain to tend to the GI tract for my early thought,"It can't be a rebus; it's Wednesday!" SHIITE, what-all can happen in the WII hours when you're TARRED in NC!!

When I finally sorted out that week excuse, while SPONGing down my POPCORNmaker, the backfill went fast.

Liked the ASHEville shoutout to @Lewis, our erstwhile POst PP-maker.
@Lindsay: PO Boy! [Girl?] You should have tried POISON POTION; I understand Federal ALAW allaws you 2 ounces.
ShoPOholic?? POssibly, but only today, with a special disPUnsation on account of a POlished PianO Bag o' shells. 'Sviatoslav' is so tongue-rolling Good!
Have some RAPT memories of GARTERS myself, @quilter1, but can't think how you came to be sitting on the bumpy bits.[?]

Had some minor REDO with KIERA/KEIRA, as I often do with Eliason/Esiason and others like hymn, but no other SOUR notes, really.

The now thing apparently is for POPO to be the POPOlice, but for those who Kipple, there's the Great Grey Greasy LimPOPO River, and for those with the memory of The Elephant's Child, there's Vaughn Monroe's "Feet Up, Pat Him on the POPO (Let's hear him laugh)". I'll be kind, and not inflict.

Overall, most pleasant. A noble gem from the Markey of Jules.

Leapfinger 12:15 PM  

How does one handle a captcha that's a pictcha of a flowering cactus? Or a cut avocado, with the PIT in situ?

The Humour Analist 12:52 PM  

'Before I explain what Dragon Ball is and how it does and does not relate to Pokémon, I'm just gonna sign off.'

Thank you, @Pete, for backing me up. At the risk of overthinking this, the implication was that @Dragonball-Zeke could not live happily ever after without understanding the DragonBall-Z:Pokémon relationship. I'll help him out by suggesting: Let's Go Back To...Peoria...

Everyone know the one about the three [Chinese] wives discussing the placement of their husbands' dragon tattoos?
Third wife:"I like my man with his Dragon on the ground!"

RooMonster 1:21 PM  

Hey All!
Late to the party, will read comments later. I had some trouble getting a toe hold on this puz. Maybe just tired? Had KIERA in atop EDENS, first mistake with the spelling. Actually figured out the revealer before any of the "po boxes"! Had POSTALzipcodes, but didn't fit, then thought POSTalcodes, again didn't fit. Finally got it, then went looking for the PO's. Went a bit quicker after that.

EXcesSIVE, then, EXpaNSIVE, finally EXTENSIVE. unDO for REDO, asTa first for TOTO, but FLORA straightened that out.

Bad clues, methinks, 2D, send for ELATE a stretch, 50D, offspring for ISSUE(?)

Two America clues, that was neat. Overall an okay puz, once I (finally) got started, flowed nicely.


Anonymous 1:28 PM  

I don't see the pattern, can someone explain?

Zed the Answer Man 1:44 PM  

@anon1:28 - Long theme answers are Two Word Answers with each word beginning with (PO).

LaneB 1:46 PM  

Got the rebus early (SPOKE) but struggled anyway starting with mARRED instead of TARRED and ending with a DNF because of failure to get the clues for a16 and a26. Much too recondite for this oldster.. Never heard of ANA and got fouled up by inserting JAL. StuFf like CELS and ETHNO made it harder for me also. Still, an interesting Thursday.

Leapfinger 1:53 PM  

@Anon-1:21, addend to @ZedtAM: Also, 2 Across, 2 Down in symmetrical placement, so you knew Where To Look.

AliasZ 2:01 PM  

The letter in square 5 could have just as easily been G.

Lewis 2:31 PM  

@AliasZ -- good catch on square 5

Thank you @leapfinger for the shout out -- yes, nice to have my hometown (Asheville) in the puzzle. I was held up for a while because I wanted POPCORNstand, and it wasn't as easy feeling to me as it was to Rex, but I always like those happy endings. Like yesterday, decent blue collar puzzle. Did like the GARTER clue.

Two puzzle answers could have letters switched with PO -- ELS to POLS, and SASE to SPOSE.

Pete 2:35 PM  

@Humor Analyist - I wasn't backing you up, I was wondering what you thought the joke was. I didn't get it, though you obviously had, since you declared that it wasn't a good joke. Your intrepretation seems to fall way short.

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

@Zed-1:44 and @Leapfinger-1:53 thanks fr your help. I had finished the puzzle, but I thought maybe the placement formed a picture like connect-the-dots or something.

Sorry for the Anon, I'm not a usual commenter and didn't want to deal with ID issues. I love the NYT Puzzle and do it daily, this blog makes the whole thing more fun.

Z 3:10 PM  

@Pete - I took it as sarcasm - @Zeke wasn't really lying awake wondering about the relationship between Dragon Ball Z and Pokémon. I also took @HA's posts for sarcasm. I also thought you were being sarcastic originally, which probably means we've had a tad too much sarcasm lately.

RooMonster 3:15 PM  

"I Sarcasm, Therefore I Am"
Isn't that how the saying goes? :-)


OISK 3:39 PM  

Nice puzzle. Generally, the greatest difficulty gap is between Wed. and Thurs., but not this time. I liked the theme and almost all of the cluing. I don't care for "Amerian ___" for Samoa. It is perfectly valid, but there are so many better ways to clue "Samoa," relating to its location, Margaret Mead, Robert Louis Stevenson, Apia, Pago-pago… "is A LAW unto oneself" is a phrase I haven't heard in a very long time." How about "F = MA, for example"? But despite these minor nitpicks, a very well constructed Thursday puzzle.

sanfranman59 4:14 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 17:43, 17:37, 1.01, 54%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 12:29, 10:56, 1.14, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Katica 4:27 PM  

Dang. I saw that G works for 5D, but clearly missed that it also works for 5A!

@Lewis, I dunno about your extras. The consequent "Chickee, D'POPOSE!" seems cumbersome as a hipPOPOtamus, and I doubt that SAM OPA, the Ecuadorian goalie, is well-known enough to be grid-worthy.

@Anon 2:51, if you click on Name/URL, you'll get a box that allows you to type in any name you like without any further ado. Today, you can be EA PO, if you like.

Davis 4:42 PM  

MESNE is one of those legal terms that even most of us lawyers aren't familiar with.

H. Analyst 4:47 PM  

Darlin' Pete, the fact that you didn't see a joke in the firstmost post backs me up. Good joke or bad, I saw it as a ham-fisted attempt at humour. Any subsequent interpretation is extraneous: at that point, I was just riffing on yesterday's Peoria comments and my cogNOMEN

@Z, had not intended outright sarcasm, thought I was just gently Pokéfun.

SenorLynn 5:50 PM  

30 min. Good 'un.
@chefbea, I retired from PO after 29 yrs. I keep track of how quickly the whole concept is disappearing. Today had a newspaper story of new students at SMU; they don't have PO BOXES, but will get an e-mail when there's something to pick up.
@Nancy, I think most of the Deists just didn't want to be called atheists.

Tita 6:00 PM  

Re: the misdirect at 44A - have I mentioned how my mom went to Home Depot with her son-in-law's Christmas list, and asked where they keep the "executive hose"?
I did? Well, yea, I thought so.

@Quilter - I guess I was at the cusp. I remember being SO excited when my mom finally agreed to buy me my first pair of stockings. Elation followed by abject disappointment...the saleslady handed me ... pantyhose! To me, they were just tights.
Hey - I'm 14!! I'm grown up! I don't wear tights any more!!

chefbea 6:17 PM  

@senor Lynn E-mail me and we can discuss PO things

Anominous 7:10 PM  


Just opened my email; the NYT is offering runtz!

Oh, the irony, eh SOUR Grapers?

Norm 8:27 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Norm 8:28 PM  

Davis, Davis, Davis: mesne conveyance ... first year property. You can't have forgotten it. I loved the property class because it was full of that feudal stuff. I also love how Rex can get bent out of shape by an ITER crossing (come on, Rex, it's classic) but any wacko rapper names are praised because they're current and fresh.

Anonymous 8:44 PM  

I'm just a PO boy from a PO family....

Pete 8:50 PM  

@Humor Analyist - No, I was gently intimating that just because you didn't get a joke doesn't mean there wasn't one there, or that it wasn't funny. It could be that you just didn't get it, it may have been too subtle for you. That, and we try not to go around insulting people here just because a 5 line post didn't meet your expectations.

Lewis 10:35 PM  

@katika -- You made me laugh! I should have been clearer; I wasn't suggesting that the crosses would work as well. I was just saying that those answers taken by themselves were the only two I could find in the puzzle that you could switch a letter with a PO.

H&R Block Analyst 10:37 PM  


Permit me to clarify a few points.

In the recent past, @Zeke has had an outsized effect on these boards, by effectively driving out most of the runtz group and by shutting down the PPP. He cited the these as taking up Rex's real estate, when this is a base canard, a blatant fallacy, since the real estate expands as comments are added. He did this entirely on the basis of preference, as far as I know, his own, for I saw no vote or any indication of democratic process. He accomplished his ends by the simple expedient of making some people feel unwelcome.

I (not 'we') am not enamored of approaches that disguised mean-spiritedness with polite, reasoned verbiage, so I leapt at this chance to retaliate just a little, to needle that purposely bombastic humour which I would simply have enjoyed, were it not for the history I just described.

I, not 'we', do not go around insulting people. I don't even have to try not to do so, because it is not in my nature. I did, however, think a little payback was in order.

Are we done?

Anonymous 10:52 PM  

It wasn't a problem that PO in POST wasn't 'boxed up'?
Seriously just asking


Black eyed Susan 11:05 PM  

Are you kidding I LOVED A MERE! Spouse and I say "a mere bag of shells" to each other often to get a chuckle when we're dealing with something or other. The only problem was I thought it was POSTPOSITION not POLEPOSITION so I couldn't get it to work out. Oh we'll LALALA I had fun with this and that's what it' s all about, right?

Zeke 11:48 PM  

Damn, I cause trouble even when I'm not here.

@Giberish Analyst - It was Rex who said that he's received a significant amount hate mail about the PPPs, and to please have the comments section not be cliquish and be accessable to all. As he had mentioned it, and multiple responses that night said that no here one had complained, that
"people were just running to Daddy", I gave my reasons for objecting to them, and I dropped it. Since I've done so, M&A has said that he's happy having the runt puzzles in their own little niche, and Lewis has, with lesser fanfare, continued his observations. Some people have supported the PPPs, some not. Certainly, it was not merely my own preferenece, given that the volume of mail caused Rex to comment on it.

If I have had an "outsized effect" on this comments section I can only assume it was due to the validity of my arguments rather than people fearing my wrath; my wrath has no bite as, unlike most people on the internet I am not a dog. I simply made a point, none of which was mean spirited (though I will agree that it was "reasoned verbiage"). Agree with it or not as you see fit. The truth probably lies in Rex's mentioning the hate mail.

Last time Rex mentioned readership, approximately 30,000 people per day read the blog, 40% read more than one page. That's, conservatively, 10k people per day reading the comments. I don't know why each of them comes here. I assume it's to find intelligent comments about the puzzle, funny, expansive stories triggered by elements of the puzzle, explainations to the NN Down clue/answer pair. I'm pretty sure they're not hear to read your calling me an ass, nor my response to you.

sanfranman59 1:29 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 6:45, 6:02, 1.12, 88%, Challenging
Tue 8:58, 7:54, 1.14, 81%, Challenging
Wed 9:14, 9:18, 0.99, 49%, Medium
Thu 17:49, 17:37, 1.01, 56%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:36, 3:57, 1.16, 93%, Challenging
Tue 5:36, 5:21, 1.05, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:04, 6:05, 1.00, 48%, Medium
Thu 12:06, 10:56, 1.11, 67%, Medium-Challenging

gpo 7:34 AM  

This was medium-challenging for me. I thought I had printed and was doing Wednesdays puzzle, so it took me a really long time to understand that there was a rebus involved. After that is was easy, sure

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

I found it enjoyable, very few gimmees and no pop culture trivia, indeed, no need to Google at all. 51A was a dirty trick (in a good way) and threw me down a blind alley that wasn't a lot of time. Here I am trying to squeeze "Lennone" [Lenn] [O] [N]" into 3 squares! Had he said "John from London" or "From England" I'd have gotten it immediately, but by using "from Liverpool" he put me on the wrong scent! Complete solve, but it took me longer than necessary because of playing that trick on this old Beatle fan.

Phil 5:05 PM  

POstPOSITION is the first place no?

uke as well made it dnf in that corner

Anonymous 6:37 PM  

I remember!

Anonymous 7:02 PM  

Thank you! I like it. Just trying to picture that petite, demure Chinese wife.

Anonymous 7:22 PM  


Anonymous 7:02 PM  

Another with Uke before LEI, Clot before CAKE.

PITH/ETHNO crossing led to DNF.

Sure that it's obvious, but why the ? for 23A - Cozy thing?

Master PO* 12:12 PM  

Ah, grasshoppers, good day to you. Today's puzzle has my name in it, and so, though I counsel against vanity, makes me smile.

I do not, however, appear in perfect symmetry as Master Rex suggests. Comparing nos. 18 and 61 across, for example, the student will note different POSITIONs of the rebi.

My own solution was POWERed by beginning in the SW, where the _ISO--start to 61a begged POISON, and thus DEPOSE for testify. Once the first rebus was in, the central revealer opened like a cherry blossom.

To be sure, much of the cluing was EVEN more enigmatic than I, YETI completed the grid in less time than usual for a Thursday. OFL complains about the fill, but fails to mention SSR or that "endless summer" ETES. Can we not have even one printemps in there? Withal, though, it is not any worse than might have been expected with the EXTENSIVE theme requirements. I enjoyed it fully.

Master Jules, you have passed your test. Congratulations.

spacecraft 12:14 PM  

*Guest blogger for spacecraft

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

Wow, did it ever take me a longish time to figure this one out. All the way down to when I had wder. And then it fell into place. Great puzzle, no complaints, all is good. Thanks Mr. Markey

Ron Diego 9/25/14

B'ham 1:40 PM  

I generally enjoy scanning through the comments on Rex's page, but some of the commentators take themselves way too seriously. And are unnecessarily snarky and/or smug. Not being a professional commentator, what is a runtz group and what is a PPP?

Solving in Seattle 2:31 PM  

Nice job, Jules. I knew I was in for a fun ride at the ITER/RoLITICS cross. Like @Ron Diego, I "groked the concept" at 61A with ISON-WDER. Just add PO to the recipe and voila.

pOUR before SOUR.
narcotIC and hyPnotIC before SOPORIFIC.

Like the clue for GARTER.

Poor Mariners. Go Tigers!

445. RATs.

Dirigonzo 3:23 PM  

I knew early-on that get an extra letter into EPONYM but it wasn't until I read the reveal clue that I understood how to do that. A few write-overs further complicated things but all fixed in the end, and I thought it a lovely Thursday rebus puzzle.

@spacey - has a guest blogger now?

@B'ham - one of the prime-time commentariat was constructing mini-puzzles, which he dubbed "runt puzzles", and posting them on another site for anyone to solve. The feature was quite popular with several solvers who would do the "runts" and then comeback to Rexville to discuss them, which apparently some found to be inappropriate for reasons I don't understand. The PPPs were a post-solve activity created by another solver, @Lewis I believe. I believe it stood for Post Puzzle Puzzle (or some such thing) whereby Lewis, who is obviously quite sharp-eyed and detail oriented, would describe a feature common to several answers in the grid and ask others to find them. Again, several participated and further discussions ensued. These discussions of extra-puzzle activities obviously annoyed some, who complained causing the creators of both activities to take their discussions elsewhere. Or that's the situation as I understand it from my admittedly hurried perusal of the comments on a daily basis.

We here in the syndiburbs tend not to get involved with the politics of the comments of 5 weeks ago, but we do have our own little distraction with the baccarat variation that we play with the capchas.

And if you're just joining our little group, welcome.

4200 - good enough to beat @SIS but will it hold up?

DMG 3:43 PM  

DE(PO)SE was my entry into this rebus laden game. Guessed at the M in MESNE as intermediate things tend to be mid something. Did have to replace the old-fashioned GAiTER with a more modern GARTER, and in retrospect think they are not thhe same thing, just both foot related! Have to look that up.

169: hands seem to getting closer to the goal.

Anonymous 6:15 PM  

Didn't get it til late in the game.
Alas, I did POly! No crime, though so don't call the PO-PO!

Z 9:36 PM  

@B'ham - @Diri pretty much got it right. The only thing he missed is that someone(s) emailed Rex to complain about the PPP, claiming the real-timers were being too insidery. Beyond me why the PPPs upset anyone.

If you are interested go to for all kinds of fascinating stuff.

BTW - In real time, today is the 8th anniversary of Rex Parker Does the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.

sdcheezhd 9:45 PM  

I had POSER for PHONY so then TENAM had to be TWOPM to avoid the OE and SN so that messed up the whole top and I didn't get the rebus until all the way down at SPOKE and then it was pretty easy going from the top up to finish in the NE. I agree on POISONPOWDER, it may be sort of a thing but not an Agatha Christie thing.

I'd like to think synditime is real

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