European blackbird / THU 5-7-15 / Insect's resinous secretion / Rishi in Hinduism / Perelman prolific Russian science writer / 1932 Ford featured in american graffiti / AA rival / Miami area informally / Slapstick trio member / Pulitzer-winning critic Richard / Toon foil

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Constructor: Tracy Gray

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: GOING GREEN (59A: Reducing one's carbon footprint … or a hint to this puzzle's theme)— the … prefix? … ECO is squished into tiny boxes seven times in this grid.

Word of the Day: YAKOV Perelman (13A: ___ Perelman, prolific Russian science writer) —
Yakov Isidorovich Perelman (RussianЯков Исидорович Перельман; December 4, 1882 – March 16, 1942) was a Russian and Soviet science writer and author of many popular science books, including Physics Can Be Fun and Mathematics Can Be Fun (both translated from Russian into English).
Perelman was born in 1882 in the town of BiałystokCongress Poland. He obtained the diploma of forester from the Imperial Forestry Institute in Saint Petersburg, in 1909. After the success of "Physics for Entertainment", Perelman set out to produce other books, in which he showed himself to be an imaginative populariser of science. Especially popular were "Arithmetic for entertainment", "Mechanics for entertainment", "Geometry for Entertainment", "Astronomy for entertainment", "Lively Mathematics", " Physics Everywhere", and "Tricks and Amusements". (wikipedia)
• • •

Feels like it's been a while since I've seen a Thursday rebus. Rebuses often provide a nice challenge, but they also have a way of sucking thematic life out of a puzzle, and of being repetitious; both these things happen today, a little. There's just one theme answer (kinda like yesterday …) and then there's a bunch of rebus squares, all the same, which are just letter strings. I mean, this is what a rebus is—a letter string condensed into a single box—so I'm not pointing out anything startling, just noting that there's nothing content-wise or even clue-wise about this puzzle that relates to GOING GREEN. Just seven ECOs. Since ECO- is just a prefix, the whole concept is a bit odd. Would've made a nice Umberto ECO tribute, maybe. The puzzle certainly isn't terrible as is. It's straight-over-the-plate rebus. Vanilla rebus. Adequately done. Actually, in the longer ECO-containing answers, perhaps better than adequately done. Definitely got some joy out of uncovering / discovering WILE E. COYOTE and PENTECOSTAL.

Less pleasure in the short stuff, which is somewhat subpar today, sadly. UAL and NSC are never good fill, and somehow crossing them with LAC and EOLIC (!), respectively, made them harder to take. EDER's back … wait … I think I'm confusing EDER and EDEL again. Since neither is good, maybe it doesn't matter. ERLE EDIE SKEE EOLIC NSC is By Far the roughest patch, there in the SE. Rest of the grid comes out around average, I guess. Why do I associate ENGRAM with some kind of cult? Is there some Scientology crap that involves a something-GRAM? Anyway, didn't know ENGRAM was a legitimate thing, so that took time, as did the somehow not-YAKOV-Smirnoff YAKOV. That Perelman dude is old and obscure. Is there any reason a modern US reader should know him? Seems a long way to go for YAKOV. Also, seems horribly forced. We all know there's just one YAKOV. It's Smirnoff. Contriving a "new" clue for YAKOV only makes people think harder about YAKOV Smirnoff (and when has that ever been a plus?). Right now, a million solvers are thinking "But I only know *one* YAKOV…" I hear you, Million Solvers! In Soviet Russia … crossword solve you. Here's how I know there's just one YAKOV:

When your YAKOV is less searched-for than Stalin's eldest son (whom I only just learned existed), then your YAKOV is probably not crossworthy. Seriously, Yakov Yurovsky and Yakov Sverdlov google better than YAKOV Perelman. What? You don't know who the YAKOVs Yurovsky and Sverdlov are?! I can't believe etc.! Outrageous. (Trivia: Yurovsky was chief executioner of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia (aka The Tsar), and Sverdlov was a Bolshevik party leader).
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:09 AM  

    Easy-medium for me.   My main problem was reverting to my early days of learning crosswordese and putting in WAdi before WASH. 

    EDER: I think I prefer the river to the critic. 

    DEUCE COUPE: also fine Beach Boys song.

    ENGRAM was an interesting neuropsychological concept until L. Ron "borrowed" it.

    Tracy has an explanation for why ECO at Xwordinfo. 

    Fun rebus, some zippy fill, liked it.

    JFC 12:21 AM  

    Sometimes, Rex is a YAKOV....


    Bill Holland 12:32 AM  

    I kinda took the theme as "going green" by dropping all of the COs. Since there is CO in each direction, that's CO x 2, or CO2, so we're eliminating CO2. (Groan.) The NYT iPad app checked the puzzle OK with just an E in the ECO squares.

    Steve J 12:43 AM  

    Decent, if not scintillating, Thursday puzzle. The number of ECO rebuses got to be a wee bit much, but they enabled some nice fill - ZYDECO, SECOND NATURE, DEUCE COUPE and, my favorite, WILE E. COYOTE.

    While this was mostly easy, I got stuck in that stairstep center section. Didn't parse AA as American Airlines, so I just assumed "if it's a crossword, if it's UA_, it must be UAE" at 28A. Since I didn't know LAC, since I couldn't see ICE COLD, I made a mess of that little section.

    Really wanted 55D to be YOWZA when I first read the clue and had the Y filled in.

    Jim Walker 12:50 AM  

    Got the theme off DEUCECOUPE and WILEECOYOTE. There doesn't seem to be any need to clue YAKOV or ICECOLD at all. Why not just say "whatever you get when you fill in the downs". Didn't think this one sparkled. Didn't hate it.

    Tom Rowe 1:06 AM  

    Lie detector on a polygraph - blip? Are you kidding me? In the first place, a polygraph does not detect lies. At best it gives you readings on stress and an operator interprets the truthfulness. Then call that a blip? Terrible clue for that word.

    John Child 1:22 AM  

    On the easy side for Thursday, but after a long drought we got a rebus. I find it hard to dislike a rebus. ;-) Best puz of the week so far, but I'm looking forward to a little more mental exercise Friday and Saturday.

    My follow-up report on Nepal for anyone interested:

    chefwen 1:57 AM  

    I've been waiting for a Thursday rebus for quit a while and was happy one finally appeared.

    Hand up for the wadi/WASH SNAFU.

    Got it at SeECOnd nature and the rest was a romp. Loved it Tracy, thanks!

    chefwen 2:04 AM  

    Someday I will learn how to spell. Let's try quite a while. Geez!

    dmw 2:10 AM  

    I used to think rebus's were difficult, but not now: I was slogging through this one when wileecoyote crossed deucecoupe (might have clued that with a Beach Boys hit reference), and then it went really fast.

    Charles Flaster 2:55 AM  

    Medium before the reveal and easy after GOING GREEN.
    One write over that slowed me was 23Across with Harrison for DEUCE COUPE?? --it fit!!
    Always liked the anagram of regime → emigre.
    CrosswordEase-- MERL,ERLE, EDIE and DRANG.
    Thanks TG.

    Anonymous 4:51 AM  

    I agree with Bill Holland. Puzzle was not a rebus. The theme was dropping co in the across and down, hence less CO2.

    GILL I. 5:58 AM  

    Oooof. YAKOV??? I'm with @Rex. If it ain't Smirnoff it ain't YAKOV...
    I finally got the ECO at ICE COLD PECOS...DADE COUNTY is an informal area? What happened to Little Havana? YIPES was Yegad, and I thought SAFECO is a supermarket.
    Other than those little (hic)cups, and taking way too much time to complete, I rather enjoyed the romp.
    I love me a fun rebus and this was one that went PING!!!
    Speaking of all that ECO GREEN stuff...Last week we were at 90 degrees and today it's snowing just up the road. DRANG it's cold.
    ADIEU. What happened to CEELO and who is this SKEE guy?

    Loren Muse Smith 6:50 AM  

    Boy, I was right there with @Bill Holland, thinking "CO 2" at first, with magnificent disregard to how getting rid of carbon dioxide would be considered GOING GREEN. Details shmetails. Took me a bit to sort all that out.

    I didn’t read the clue in its entirety, so for “workplace blah blah” I put in “OSHA,” which gave me “Scooby Doo” for the toon foil. If I had just opened pawn to king four, I could’ve avoided all that.

    Early on I considered a ridiculous “spicy” for SPINY:

    I’ll have a MESS of AGED ANTEATER TOES over rice, but tell Chef to go easy on the habanero this time, ok? I had some wind-related trouble last time.

    Speaking of which, EOLIC was a new one for me. Now *there’s* a word!

    I liked WASH down with ICE COLD and LIONs SHARE.

    I think Tracy did a great job with the rebuses. That they weren’t symmetrical made it hardish – exactly what I like in a Thursday rebus. Nice job, Tracy!

    Steven M. O'Neill 7:33 AM  

    If you have a lot of free time, you could try googling for "Яков" and figuring out what all the auto-suggestions that come up are. Too much work for me, though.

    Carola 7:48 AM  

    An enjoyable challenge for me. First pass through the grid got me very little - I even had to be thankful for ELHI for once, just to get a wee TOEhold. Had ??? when GRECO and ECOLES wouldn't fit their spaces, but didn't notice they share an ECO. On SECOND pass, I got WILE E. COYOTE and DEUCE COUPE - wonderful cross!

    Like @loren, I liked it that the rebus squares were scattered and thought the ECO crossings were very creative. GRECO ZYDECO! Would love to hear some of that.

    Cute that the DEUCE COUPE is one of those ECOcars we sometimes see in crosswords.

    Oh, and add me to the WAdi group.

    Hartley70 7:51 AM  

    I made two of the previously mentioned errors before I saw the rebus at the theme, Harrison/DEUCECOUPE, wadi/WASH. I've never heard a SLOOP called a knockabout. I ended with one letter off with nsa for NSC. It may have been an easier rebus, but it was still a rebus, so I'm starting the day on a happy note. Thanks Tracy Gray!

    Z 7:55 AM  

    Meep! Meep!

    On the ene drive from Detroit to Toronto one can't help but noticed all the EOLIC energy being harnessed. It is a pretty impressive sight as one carefully obeys the 100 KPH speed limit on the 401.* A nice word for a GOING GREEN puzzle.

    The asymmetric placement of the rebi made this tougher. To me, difficulty from randomness isn't a plus. That's not to say the randomness is a huge flaw, only that symmetry lends an extra touch of elegance.

    *If you've ever driven the 401 in Southern Ontario you know that speed limit line is a joke. I usually do 120 (about 75 mph) in the slow lane.

    Anonymous 7:59 AM  

    Originally had "flimflam" where "claptrap" should be. My bad.

    Anonymous 8:09 AM  

    Regarding TOES. Shouldn't that be: "First inch or two of a foot" rather than "Last ..."?

    Gerry W.

    Lewis 8:11 AM  

    Like @stevej, didn't think American Airlines for AA, and never heard of LAC (though I think I'll remember it now), so just guessed at the L (and guessed wrong). Otherwise, the puzzle had some bite for me, and I like bite if it's fair, and it was. The puzzle gave me a good workout, and my brain is happy.

    Even though, as Rex alludes to, this puzzle didn't have a lot of overt pop, it still felt sharp, deftly done, never boring.

    I wanted more clever cluing on this Thursday, though I did like the clues for REST and TOES. Lots of good vague clues that were fair. I like hearing BLIP and PING ALOUD.

    I grew up in DADECOUNTY, and whenever we went to the beach there seemed to be an undertow, so I like DADECOUNTY under TOES here.

    NCA President 8:15 AM  

    I didn't know that a dry streambed was called a WASH or that a knockabout is related to a SLOOP. So, yeah, that took a little while to parse that all out.

    Other challenges: MERL, EOLIC (which, I guess in an ECO puzzle is appropriate), ENGRAM (I consider a Snafu more of a mistake than a that M in ENGRAM was hidden for a while), LAC (?!), DAM, and CLAPTRAP (as clued).

    I only know Ruy LOPEZ from puzzles.

    Got the theme from GRECO-Roman.

    Overall, okay I guess. Learned that Alabama has a you know, there's that.

    Lewis 8:27 AM  

    Factoid: Any time you tie a knot in a ROPE, you weaken it; in drop tests and pull tests, a rope typically breaks at the knot. The strongest knot you can use is the figure-eight follow-through, which, when pull-tested, breaks at 75 to 80 percent of the rope’s full strength.

    Quotoid: "The LION and the calf shall lie down together, but the calf won't get much sleep." -- Woody Allen

    AliasZ 8:30 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Bob Kerfuffle 8:30 AM  

    Medium difficulty, greater than Medium pleasure.

    I thought the revealer might be CARBON SEQUESTRATION, but it didn't fit.

    The Oxen of the Sun 8:31 AM  

    Count me among the CO2 group. I first saw the rebus in PRECOOK, which didn't help. I very confidently wrote in PRE[CO2]K, which would have also been a very interesting rebus. Oh well!!

    AliasZ 8:34 AM  

    I was thrilled to learn a new word today: ZYDECO. I hadn't been aware of the term itself, even though I was familiar with the musical style it represents. I especially enjoyed reading about the theories of the word origin at Wikipedia.

    WYLE E. COYOTE and the PECOS River brought to mind one of my favorite lines in all of Mel Blancdom, the immortal words of Yosemite Sam: "I'm the fastest gun north, south, east, aaaaand west of the PECOS".

    If you PRECOOK food in a preheated oven, you'll end up with dinner that hasn't been cooked yet in an oven that hasn't yet been heated.

    This was great fun from the EDER River through Triny LOPEZ, YAKOV Smirnoff, Umberto ECO and Doménikos Theotokópoulos aka El GRECO, all the way to Sturm und DRANG, the famous law firm in Vienna.

    Thanks Tracy Gray, me Leica.

    Masked and Anonymo6Us 8:43 AM  

    Fun fun fun puz puz puz.

    Whoa... Is there an eco in here?

    on the road in La.

    Jude 8:49 AM  

    Totally agree with @Tom Rowe -- lie detectors have been debunked, they're not supported by science. They don't detect anything, except the foolishness of anybody who accepts them as a reasonable thing. So, the clue and the answer are both mistaken on 26 down.

    jberg 8:53 AM  

    At first I thought GOING GREEN meant that you took ECO out of the answers -- but you don't, you just crush them together, so that doesn't really work. I liked it OK, except for EOLIC (doesn't everybody say aeolian?). I did sort of like the non-arcade-game clue for SKEE.

    I think we've had LAC before; it's what shelLAC is a variety of.

    You know you've done too many puzzles when you look at 14A, think 'prep,' and then tell yourself 'no, it's probably ELHI.'

    Mark 8:55 AM  

    It's a little sloppy to equate PENTECOSTAL with fundamentalist. I think members of both groups would say it's not the same thing.

    OISK 8:59 AM  

    Add me to the list of those who thought this was about getting the "CO" out, although why CO and not COO, which would make more scientific sense? Then, when I came here, I saw the "ECO." Never heard of a deuce coupe, and hope never to again. What is "Golds" gym? That's where I DNF, but should not have anyway. I got "second nature" but didn't write in the "CO" and so did not see "SAFECO." I had "Fate" instead of "Sage." Knew it was wrong, but just got tired. Very fine puzzle that I messed up!

    h_lina_k 9:05 AM  

    The only reason why I thought anything of the theme was due to its timeliness since we just crossed a co2 threshold that some scientist consider a potential tipping point level (400ppm) this week.

    joho 9:22 AM  

    Tracy Gray, I did not think this wonderful puzzle had a hint of vanilla in it! Not a whiff!

    I got it at the WILEECOYOTE/DEUCECOUPE cross and thought, "it doesn't get any better than this!." WILEECOYOTE!

    Loved ZYDECO, too.

    Harder than the usual rebus for me and more fun, too!

    Nancy 9:29 AM  

    Oh Happy Rebus Day. (Even though I naticked on one letter, the L of UAL/LAC. Forgot to guess; forgot I forgot to guess; and never filled it in. Would have been wrong, anyway.)

    Saw ECO the first time it appeared: in SECOND NATURE. But I (good-naturedly) disagree with the clue: "Swimming or riding a bike for most people." That absolutely should have been "for SOME people." Here's why, in 2 parts:

    Part 1. If you had ever seen me on a bike for the first (and last) time, many moons ago, shaking like a leaf, hands sweaty on the handlebars, and pleading with my (much younger!) brother: DON'T LET GO!!!!! DON'T LET GO!!!!! DON'T LET GO!!!!!, until he said: "Just get off, Nancy. I can't deal with this", you would understand that riding a bike is not SECOND NATURE for "most" people. Some, certainly, maybe even many, but certainly not all.

    Part 2: Swimming is SECOND NATURE for me, but I had three tennis partners, superb athletes all, every one of them a better player than I was (sob), but all three were deathly afraid of water and couldn't swim. Not at all. Were afraid to even try. So swimming was hardly SECOND NATURE for them.

    Wondering what you say to this, Tracy and Will?

    But it didn't prevent me from solving the puzzle, minus one letter, and it was a puzzle I really enjoyed.

    RnRGhost57 9:32 AM  

    A fine puzzle overall, though not all PENTECOSTALS are Fundamentalists and the reverse is emphatically not true.

    Laurence Katz 9:35 AM  

    Cluing for "zydeco" is inaccurate. Zydeco is cajun music from the bayou. Though it may be played in New Orleans, it is not from there. Similar mistake is made when people confuse cajun food (from the bayou country around Lafayette) with Creole food (from New Orleans). Clue should have been "Some Louisiana music."

    Skir Skulls 9:40 AM  

    My knowledge of engrams comes from (where else?) Star Trek (orig series) episode "The Ultimate Computer " where Kirk is about to be replaced by the newest GPS and there's plenty of talk about memory engrams there which stayed with me in my own engrams no doubt ...

    Nancy 9:42 AM  

    Oh, I forgot: @Lewis, @Bob K, @Aketi, @Hartley, -- I left you all a message at 6:52 p.m. last night about your blog comments yesterday.

    Rhino 9:42 AM  

    Impossible for me. Struggled through until I got to the SW, finally started cheating, and then, when I saw the answers, I just gave up. Not a puzzle on my wavelength.

    In other news, we sold our house quickly and for a good price, but our friend Dave has prostate cancer. So yesterday was a weird day and adulthood is hard.

    Anonymous 9:42 AM  

    23 across: Harrison went right in

    Mark Trevor Smith 9:47 AM  

    Hyper-correction alert: Please don't mess around with "whom" unless you really know what you're doing. "whom I only just learned existed" should be "who I only just learned existed"

    grammar nazi 10:07 AM  

    @Mark Trevor Smith: You beat me to it! You're going to make me superfluous, which I'm sure would upset nobody on this board.

    Anonymous 10:14 AM  

    Here's the thing: very few people self-identify as "fundamentalist." The word is almost always used pejoratively. So Islamists who kidnap school girls, Jews who throw rocks at children for not dressing modestly enough, and Christianists who blow up buildings see themselves as "protectors of the faith" and "messengers of god," but not fundamentalists. Most of us see them as disgusting.

    Anonymous 10:17 AM  

    @grammar nazi - You always were superfluous.

    NCA President 10:22 AM  

    Pentecostals are indeed fundamentalist...from wiki:

    "Fundamentalism is a movement manifested in various denominations with various theologies, rather than a single denomination or systematic theology. It became active in the 1910s after the release of the Fundamentals, a twelve-volume set of essays, apologetic and polemic, written by conservative Protestant theologians to defend what they saw as Protestant orthodoxy.

    Yes, "fundamentalism" has grown to become a term with loaded meaning, but technically, anyone who claims the bible to be the inerrant word of god (and who usually, as a result, interprets it literally), is a fundamentalist.

    Anonymous 10:23 AM  

    Yes, Bill H is right...we're removing CO!

    Notsofast 10:29 AM  

    By not doing four or five puzzles a day, and not having to write a daily crossword blog, I'm easily pleased. I thought this puzzle was fun - and that's what I'm looking for!

    Steve J 10:30 AM  

    @Z: The lack of symmetry in a rebus puzzle is a feature, not a bug. Especially when you have the same rebus, if the placements were symmetrical, it would make things far too easy. Having to discover them ramps up the difficulty in a fair way (especially since you already know the letter string to be on lookout for), which makes it more engaging.

    @AliasZ: Both precook and preheated are weird words. Pre, of course, means before, some something that's precooked means it's in a state before cooking - same for preheated. Of course, what we're going for is previously cooked. But that doesn't fit on a food box as nicely.

    @NCA President: Having grown up in fundamentalist circles, you're correct, Pentecostalism is a subset of fundamentalism. Not all the variants of fundamentalist Christianity get along very well, though, and Pentecostals were viewed with suspicion among the more traditional evangelical branches of fundamentalism.

    @Anonymous 10:23 a.m.: While removing carbon monoxide is a good thing, it's not really helping the green cause.

    Mohair Sam 10:35 AM  

    Hand up with @Gill I for thinking all these years that SAFECO was Safeway's corporate name.

    The other hand up with @Nancy for naticking on the infamous "L". We ran through about a dozen AA's ("ack-ack" anyone?) and never landed on the airline. Rats.

    Thought it was a terrific Thursday rebus (got it like so many others at DEUCECOUP), thanks Tracy Gray.

    And we agree with @LMS that having non-patterned rebus square locations enhances the challenge.

    r.alphbunker 10:39 AM  

    Hands up for WADI. According to xwordinfo it has only been used 4 times in Shortz era since 2005. The first recorded use of it was by Eugene Malaska in 1957.

    Zeke 10:41 AM  

    I've given up on being irate about YAKOVs, names clued by "blah blah blah fill in a Russian sounding name" long ago. It's a cheap trick to insert difficulty, but what the hell. What I didn't like was SAGE clued by Rishi atop a Yakov crossing a the proper noun SAF[ECO] with the rebus thrown in. It reeked of false difficulty thrown in for who knows what reason.

    old timer 10:42 AM  

    I started off believing that the CO was just being left off the end of a word, so, knowing Seattle, confidently wrote in SAFE at 1D. But when ALOUD, SHARES, AND PIPEUP gave me DEUCECOUPE I discovered we were dealing with a traditional rebus -- and an ECO-friendly rebus at that. I had always wondered what the Beach Boys car was. Now I know.

    I thought it was a very good puzzle, all in all. Fairly easy once you got the trick.

    I still don't know why "knockabout" is SLOOP. And certainly don't know why DADECOUNTY is an *informal* name for the Miami area. Strikes me as pretty formal, though evidently the county was renamed "Miami-Dade County".

    I had "Wadi" before WASH, but I did know what a WASH was, since my aunt and uncle had one in their backyard.

    Rex Porker 11:03 AM  

    I live by the credo, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." So today I will muster all of my good will and heap my highest praise on this puzzle: "adequately done." This is the equivalent of 3 stars from Michelin, 2 thumbs up from Siskel and Ebert, or a 10 from the Russian judge at the Olympics. Now I won't be able to speak for the rest of the day--I have used up all of my kind words until tomorrow. It was exhausting, and I need a drink.

    Leapfinger 11:08 AM  

    @rhino, glad to hear it; sorry to hear it. Yup, weirdness abounds, and almost everything is a mixed bag.

    @lms, as you point out, the guy has great moves, but I just think Ruy LOPEZ a lovely name.

    Saw we were getting a rebus early on (Yay!), but had to decide whether it would be [SEC]OND or S[ECO]ND NATURE. Liked how it was put together, and the little PECOS in the middle surprised me too. @Z, I agree that symmetry adds elegance, but asymmetry allows surprise. I know I enjoy surprise.

    Do wadi di, did i wadi di wah. Yup.

    Biol assignment for the day: see how insect LAC relates to shelLAC and LACquer.

    I will never TIRE of a grid that harbours Echidna; the SPINY Anteater harbours at least 10 weirdnesses. If we can have a Biol Factoid for the day, it would be that male Echidna have one (1) head at one end, and four (4) heads at the other,
    and I don't mean TOES.

    Gray GOES GREEN today, and on my colour-wheel, Gray-GREEN is SAGE. Thought this was DAM good, Tracy; glad to see you're keePING on!

    All UAL have a great Thursday.

    Z 11:14 AM  

    @Steve J - I agree that the risk of symmetry is making a rebus too easy. On the other hand, the difficulty from asymmetry, especially when it's the same rebus every time, is about the same level as a word search to me. Again, I don't want to suggest that I see this as some sort of major flaw. More that I have a slight preference for symmetry.

    grammar nazi 11:15 AM  

    Aww, anon@10:17. You're sweet!

    Joseph Michael 11:19 AM  

    Not sure if we're removing COs or adding ECOS, but liked the puzzle, especially WILE E COYOTE and DEUCE COUPE, the latter of which is more a Beach Boys song for me than an American Graffitti car.

    Though AA was Alcoholics Anonymous and wanted SOT as its rival until American Airlines came into view.

    But, if I'm taking an exam and change one of my responses, am I SPAYing the answer?

    Leapfinger 11:25 AM  

    Drat. Not sure why that embed didn't work; for some reason, the address resisted being copied. Pretty sure all the "_" and L/R >'s were in place.

    If interested, here's the DIY:

    Ludyjynn 11:37 AM  

    Finally, a rebus that didn't make me feel like a STOOGE! I saw the theme early; HENCE a TIDY solve for me. A couple of lucky guesses that snagged others: SLOOP and UAL, prevented me from PIPINGUP w/ a YIPES or DAMn. Instead, I uttered a victorious "YES!" ALOUD upon checking Rex.

    ____ on a radar screen would have been a less controversial clue for BLIP.

    Really enjoyed the ECO answers, esp. the DECORUM/ECOLES cross and the ZYDECO/GRECO cross, although I agree w/ @LaurenceKatz re the cluing there.

    @Nancy, never say never about riding a bike. My brother failed at it as a child. Then, one day, as an adult in his twenties, something clicked and he got the hang of it. Today, at 65, he rides several miles daily! Finally, SECONDNATURE to him.

    Thanks for A LIVEly solve, TG and WS.

    Benko 11:38 AM  

    I agree that Pentecostalists are a fundamentalists, but that the reverse isn't necessarily true. Like @stevej posted, others sects tend to be wary of Pentecostals--they believe that the biblical era of prophecy never ended and also that possession by the Holy Spirit makes you do things like speak in tongues. Religion fascinates me.
    Also had wadi before WASH and thought the UAL/LAC crossing was the worst potential natick in a long time.

    AliasZ 11:41 AM  

    @Leapy - and all those with a morbid curiosity about the private life of Echidna the SPINY anteater - here is the correct link to that video.

    Or one could opt for some ZYDECO instead.

    Anonymous 11:45 AM  

    Wow. Rex threw a fit over YAKOV which I figured out without knowing who the heck he is or was. The dumbest clue in the puzzle by far was ERLE Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason's creator). NO SH*T! The clue could have been "that mystery guy that's in nearly every freaking puzzle"

    wreck 11:47 AM  

    Being from DFW, AA was parsed right away(Corporate HQ). I didn't click on the ECO rebus until RECORDS, then it fell pretty fast.
    I'm still concerned we have not heard from @Numinous in awhile and haven't heard from @Retired_Chemist among a few others!

    Roo Monster 11:51 AM  

    Hey All !
    That center square, really wanted EGO, for IN GOLD instead of ICE COLD! Neat little RebusPuz, odd that 2 Rebi were in the SW corner. Caught what the Rebus was at DEUCE COUPE, and rereading revealer clue. Wanted a Rebus in the reveal answer, but, alas, was not to be.

    Got the puz 100% correct today! Last letter in was the L at UAL/LAC, knowing that AA was American Airlines (from my job), and figured it was United AirLines. One writeover, stash-> DEFER. And can never get that Sturm und, kRANG? DRANG! Drang it!

    Some neat pairings, SPINY TOES, DAM NIP, AGED MESS, IDLE LION. Also PIPE UP different to see.


    GeezerJackYale48 11:54 AM  

    Thank you, Laurence Katz, for ZYDECO. Not New Orleans music.

    chefbea 12:03 PM  

    Late to the party. Too fought for me. Did get the theme but still DNF

    Anonymous 12:09 PM  

    The most enjoyable this week, but the UAL/LAC crossing felt a little naticky. Also didn't love LOPEZ crossing PING and EDER... Chalk it up to gaps in knowledge, but that first E in EDER could be any vowel, and that P in PING could just as easily be a D or T.

    Anonymous 12:39 PM  

    If it's UAL, I wonder why it's not AAL.

    Grammar Nazi: I prefer "no one" to "nobody".

    Fred Romagnolo 12:41 PM  

    @G Nazi: you're not superfluous - we could all use the corrections. As an ex-English teacher, I'm with you. Remember, most anonymice are evil trolls. @Nancy is perfectly correct, neither swimming nor cycling are second nature until you learn how to do them. People still drown! EOLIA is an example of the capriciousness of crossword puzzles: it's a "convenience" word. I didn't know DEUCE COUP, or that a SLOOP was a knockabout. ZYDECO also new to me. I agree that there's nothing informal about DADE COUNTY. TOES are the last inch if you go from the top. I learned, but will promptly forget, SKEE -Lo

    Leapfinger 12:48 PM  

    Thanks for the two links, @AliasZ.

    One thing I find interesting about ZYDECO: even though the music is very lively, whenever I've seen it, the dancing shows a lot of DECORUM. A great deal of obvious enjoyment, but nevertheless a fairly staid two-step, nothing like what one might see at Carnaval. Admittedly, my sample is small and may be atypical.

    Maybe we can rustle up a discussion of Cajun, Creole and Ladino as dialects: compare and contrast.

    How does Art DECO RUM compare with Art Nouveau Beaujolais? Will have to compare and contrast.

    Mark Trevor Smith 12:59 PM  

    @Fred Romagnolo "Neither swimming nor cycling IS second nature"; I wouldn't have mentioned it if you hadn't invited: "we could all use the corrections"

    GILL I. 1:19 PM  

    Good grief @AliasZ and La Leapster....! What the hell is that alien coming out of that cute little monkeys netherworld? If I were the mate I would EEEEE all the way home.
    Grammar people...You're all boring, and as we say in Spain, a bunch of "pendejos."

    Lewis 1:36 PM  

    @nancy -- Thank you for your kind words yesterday; happy to have that effect! And I see that you are a Bob Dylan/Leonard Cohen fan. Two of my very favorites.

    grammar nazi 1:44 PM  

    Anon @ 12:39: I prefer noone because it's a dook.

    Roo Monster 2:39 PM  

    GeE, COuld wE COntain all thE COldness to each other? It's finE COrrecting things, but lets not seethE COgnitive negativeness. That can bE COmpared to likE COhereing a vilE CObra to thE COccyx!



    Anonymous 2:44 PM  

    You bitE COck.

    Martel Moopsbane 2:57 PM  

    GN, I disagree with your characterization of noone as a dook. Peter Noone is the Herman of Herman's Hermits.

    Roo Monster 3:06 PM  

    Only when they challenge me to a fight! >:)


    grammar nazi 3:08 PM  

    Then said Peter Noone is a complete dook. Q.E.D.

    Anonymous 3:18 PM  

    Roo I love to watch you makE COmedy!

    Anonymous 3:27 PM  

    I agree with Gill, these grammar correctors hold about as much charm as a nasty case of hemorrhoids. Supercilious? How about self-righteous, sanctimonious? Sickening.

    weingolb 3:36 PM  

    I'm a Canadian who picks up the NYT everyday; I like having an American perspective. Do I want to know what ELHI is though? UAL, EEOC, NSC, or SAFECO?

    I know less-than-stellar fill gets roundly criticized as it is, but can dreary ethnocentric fill also get its due?

    Or maybe that's already a thing, and I've chosen to be ignorant of it as I have ELHI, UAL, EEOC, etc.

    Anonymous 3:49 PM  

    Yakov was a gimme off the v.

    John V 3:51 PM  

    Hand up for simply omitting the CO as other have noted. That seems to fit the revealer better, i.e. reducing ones carbon footprint by getting rid of carbon monoxide. Did not think of using ECO rebus.

    Z 4:49 PM  

    @Mark Trevor Smith - "Agreement between neither/nor and the verb is frequently a matter of notional agreement: hence Standard English in all but its most Formal and Oratorical situations will usually accept either number of the verb." Nothing in the Columbia Guide to Standard American English (1993) about the number of the beast, though.

    Martel Moopsbane 5:12 PM  

    @Z, thank goodness, since that rule permits "neither he nor I are" as opposed to "neither he nor I is" and "neither he nor I am", neither of which work(s) very well.

    Origin of the rebus 5:20 PM  

    Here is what Tracy had to say about the puzzle:

    From Xwordinfo -

    Thank you bloggers for the inspiration for this puzzle which came to me in the summer of 2012 after reading one of your posts complaining about the overuse of certain 3 and 4-letter words in puzzles! I remember looking at the list of words and thinking it would be fun and a bit rebellious to take one of those words and include it as many times as possible in one puzzle — as a rebus. I figured, if a certain word had been used 800+ times in the past, then what's another 14 times more?!

    I zeroed in on the overused prefix ECO from the list when I saw how many interesting words and phrases had imbedded ECO letters. (Yes, even KATI(ECO)URIC!). I also thought I could tie in the ECO words to some kind of an Earth Day-related revealer. It was only when I was writing my cover letter to Will, however, that I had the sick realization that Earth Day 2013 was going to fall on a Monday — not exactly a rebus friendly day! After my puzzle was accepted in January 2013, I looked ahead on a calendar to see when Earth Day would fall on a Thursday and was dismayed to see that Thursday got skipped altogether due to Leap Year in 2016 — so I wasn't really sure when I would see my puzzle published.

    bwalker 6:10 PM  

    Typical Thursday rebus. Hated the whole thing. Wish I could be more positive. Ugh!

    L 6:44 PM  

    Hand up for dropping CO (which i thought was very clever of me to sort out) and the other hand up for WADI at 9A. Anyone say DNF?

    kitshef 7:08 PM  

    Absolutely terrible.

    Goes wrong in so many ways. Trivia that no one, anywhere knows (YAKOV Perelman, Wilson DAM).

    Words one would never encounter outside the crossworld (MERL, ERLE, EDER, EOLIC, and most abominably, ELHI.

    Inconsistent clue/answer. If American Airlines is AA, then United is UA. If United is UAL, then American is AAL.

    And then there is the fact that the theme is unclear. Some think it's ECO, some think it's taking out the CO, twice.

    Loved having Ruy LOPEZ in a puzzle - that's the only good thing I can say.

    SilkY before SPINY, NSa before NSC, rnEA before uvEA (I was a 'taking out the CO' believer, and was thinking of cornea).

    Worst puzzle since that "change of heart" fiasco last autumn.

    Anonymous 7:27 PM  

    kitshef--you are what is called, in the crossword (and the real word), a douche bag. You make some reasonable points, then blow it all with your Ruy LOPEZ comment.
    So, just like Rex, YOUR little favorite obscurity is great, but the obscurities you don't know are unacceptable. Learn some perspective, some tact, and some humility. Otherwise, please shut the fuck up.

    Anonymous 7:28 PM  

    I would have clued 9a as "ironically, a dry streambed."

    Teedmn 7:29 PM  

    Yay for the return of Rebus Thursday! Thanks, Ms. Gray.

    I got the rebus at S(ECO)ND NATURE but not because I was marching down the rows entering answers as I read the clues. No, today was a hunt and peck adventure and 19A was just where I finally had enough filled in that ECO was obvious.

    And still a DNF due to EOLIa and sAC. And all of you who had WAdi have panicked me. How have I been doing the NYTimes crossword for yea these last 15 years and WAdi was not a BLIP on my radar at all?

    SARI, I lost my DECORUM.

    mathguy 9:17 PM  

    We just drove 400 miles from Savannah to West Palm beach and ate dinner. Skimmed the comments.

    I thought that Rex was struggling to criticize the puzzle. I liked it a lot.

    Anonymous 11:30 PM  

    Rex, your smug and endless negativity is tiring.

    Phil Eichenauer 11:34 PM  

    I thought the master theme clue for "GOINGGREEN" should have suggested what was missing from a reduced carbon footprint...thus removing "CO" (carbon monoxide) from the answers and eliminating the need for the rebuses altogether.

    Steve J 1:10 AM  

    @kitshef: UAL and AA are not inconsistent. American Airlines. United Air Lines. The two companies spell the shared term differently.

    And there's nothing unclear about the theme. Those who think it's taking out CO2 are wrong. You end up with gibberish if you just leave E in those squares.

    Fred Romagnolo 3:39 AM  

    2Mark Trevor Smith: You got me!

    Anonymous 9:38 AM  

    To the Canadian objecting to ELHI as an Americanism, I'd add that in 63 years of life I've never seen this term in print or spoken orally -- it exists only in crossword puzzles. Now, to Yakov Most of Rex's points about this puzzle were fair, but the ranting about "Yakov" isn't. When a crossword asks for the name of an obscure foreigner, it isn't demanding that you've ever heard of it -- it's just asking you to put in a name that is closely and uniquely associated with that country. Since 13D was a gimmee, the question really was: 5 letter Russian forename beginning with Y". If that wasn't simple enough, it fills itself in once you get "even out". This is a basic longstanding principle of crosswords, that Rex forgot because he's so into trivia and regards a puzzle as a trivia contest. But no, this puzzle is just asking you to put in a foreign forename known to anyone - no knowledge of this writer required.

    Andrew Heinegg 11:15 AM  

    Is this WA's slight alteration of the Bible? It was the lamb and the lion, not the calf and the lion, no? Good yukker, tho;

    Andrew Heinegg 11:16 AM  

    Is this WA's slight alteration of the Bible? It was the lamb and the lion, not the calf and the lion, no? Good yukker, tho;

    Burma Shave 9:33 AM  


    YES, I’m SARI if your lover ACTS ICECOLD to YOU,

    --- MERL DRANG

    spacecraft 10:29 AM  

    Looking at the first two across clues in the NW--WOEs Rishi and Perelman--I knew I'd have to DEFER the area till later (last, actually). Beatty and Sparks: those NEDS I know, so I started there. Hum, it crosses the reveal line. With DRANG a gimme, it wasn't long before I was GOINGGREEN. [I know ENGRAMS from a STTOS episode where a scientist imprinted his into a computer--which promptly took over the ship.]

    Trouble came in the SE: the fugitives had to be EMIGRES, and the absurdly Monday-clued ERLE and EDIE were immobile, so what was R_RDs? I also couldn't finish PR___ in the down. (Needless to say, the *#@$ rapper at 72a would have to go in 100% on crosses, as would its counterpart at 1a.) Then the aha! moment arrived, and I was in (re)business.

    One writeover: my WASH was a WAdi. Sometimes my brain goes TOO crosswordy. We have them everywhere in Las Vegas--and they're just called WASHes. Despite the WOEs, I was able to backfill the NW without too much sturm und...well, you know. So the medium rating is fair.

    Loved the chess clue: e4-e5, nf3-nc6, bn5. Sorry, Trini and superbabe Jennifer. Also loved that #1 Acme customer. And ZYDECO is a stroke of near-genius! Not a fan of EEOC (in crosswords, not the actual org.), but most of the fill was OK by me. I liked it. B+. (The rapper scuttled all chance of an A.)

    @rondo: I agree, we post at near the same time--you're not on when I log in but you're there by the time I'm ready to post--and we do often think alike. Great minds indeed.

    rondo 10:32 AM  

    Today I do not revile the rebus with letters all jammed into one square. I thought this puz was fun! Lotsa ECOs spread out there. How else do YOU get ZYDECO into a puzzle?! And just yesterday we had Queen IDA, YOU must listen to her RECORDS if YOU haven’t yet. Fun stuff.

    I will agree with earlier comment re: clue for BLIP. A BLIP might be a spot on a radar screen, but an indicator on a polygraph would be more like a surge or a spike on the graph, not a BLIP. I should know since I took a polygraph test – and passed. No spikes on the graph, nor BLIPS. But I still don’t trust law enforcement.

    Beach Boys’ Little DEUCECOUPE is a fun song and brings back fun memories.

    LAC Qui Parle (Lake that Speaks) is a MN county bordering SD. I spent a great deal of time there in 1982 on a construction project. The contractor rented a house for some of his guys across from the city park; those of us with campers were allowed to park them gratis (all in a row) in the city park. Since the project was the biggest show in town, we became quite the attraction for the local ladies. There were frequent after dark knocks on my camper’s door that summer – single, married, younger, older, all looking for something out of the ordinary out there on the lonesome prairie, and unafraid and undaunted about going for it. Can’t imagine the hushed small-town tete-a-tetes that surely took place about who was doing what with whom, because so many were. Unforgettable times! Companionship I did not LAC.

    And no, that was not the reason for the polygraph.

    @Ron Diego – is that interesting enough? I’ve got plenty (no LAC) of ‘em.

    So, I enjoyed a rebus. What next?

    3797 pretty good!

    eastsacgirl 12:02 PM  

    Hand up for thinking CO before ECO but quickly sussed out at DEUCECOUPE. Actually pretty fun rebus. Easy medium. Still have to catch myself on WILEECOYOTE. Always start with WILEY. Brain fart.

    KG 12:58 PM  

    I did the same thing. Thought it odd, but it worked.

    KG 1:02 PM  

    That's what I thought

    rain forest 2:33 PM  

    Having little luck in the North (but thinking that WILE E COYOTE was involved), I scooted down South and had much the same experience as @Spacey, getting the rebus at the RECORDS/PRECOOK cross. Then back up to Wile E, and things went relatively smoothly from there.

    Loved ZYDECO and RUY LOPEZ. Zydeco, btw, derives from Cajun pronunciation of "les haricots verts". Factoid for ya.

    Stalled in the middle (LAC, UAL, etc) and guessed right. The SW was last, and I needed every cross to get MERL. Crosswordese? First time I've seen it.

    Nice to have a rebus once in awhile, and I prefer the assymetric rebi, personally. An entertaining puzzle for sure, and as a bonus, it gave @Rex an opportunity to yack off.

    Food fotos. Nailed it.

    DMG 3:59 PM  

    Struggled with this one even after t discovered the PECOS river. In the SW I initially rejected DADECOUNTY because it didn't seem like an informal name, but ECOLE settled that corner. In the NE I was truly slowed down because t thought the name was WILEYCOYOTE, and couldn't make it work any way I tried. Eventually worked around it, helped by abandoning WAdi for WASH. Finally ended up with something called a DEUCECOUPE. and came here to,see what it was supposed to be. Surprise, I actually DF a Thursday!

    Alas 1129

    leftcoastTAM 5:31 PM  

    Fun rebus today. Got the theme at SAFECO because of the Seattle Mariners' field and the confirm at GRECO-Roman. So it seemed to be SECONDNATURE to move along nicely in my DEUCECOUPE until I crashed into a DNF at the LOPEs/sYDECO crossing, not having run the alphabet to Z.

    Some chuckles of consolation:

    From the real-timers:
    Anon 2:44's perfunctory response to Roof Monster 2:39.
    Anon 7:27's unvarnished response to kitshef 7:08.

    From syndiland:
    BS's ribald poetry.
    rondo's romp in Minnesota.

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