Latex-like glove material / THU 10-1-15 / German expressionist who was blacklisted by Nazis / Field ration for short / Cooper preceder / Sci-fi play of 1921 / Renaissance fair props / Any old person so to speak / Bandleader who became 1950s sitcom star / judge of 1980s-90s TV / Goddess in chariot drawn by peacocks / Fifth of eight-part scale / East of Eden family name

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Constructor: John Guzzetta

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging


THEME: word ladder ... in rebus form —from WARM to COLD in five boxes:

Theme answers:
  • WARM (___ BODY / ___ UP)
  • WORM (EAR ___ / ___'S EYE VIEW)
  • WORD (PASS___ HINT / S___S)
  • CORD (FOR THE RE___ / ___IAL)
  • COLD (HEAD ___ / GO ___) 
Word of the Day: AZOTH (37D: Mercury, in alchemy) —


noun
1.
mercury, regarded by alchemists as the assumed first principle of all metals.
2.
the universal remedy of Paracelsus. (dictionary.com)
• • •

Very uneven. Unusual and ambitious, but also, at heart, just a boring old word ladder. From WARM to COLD. Why? And why in tiny boxes? Don't know. It definitely required some effort to piece together, that's for sure. Couldn't see the theme at all, or even fill in all the rebus squares properly, until the grid was completed, and I could work backward from COLD—CORD—WORD. Some of the rebus answer clues were almost no help. [Renaissance fair props] for SWORDS??? Ha, no. I could've guessed all day long and not solved S-S. Further, I had no idea what kind of BODY was called for at [Any old person], and I was convinced that ___UP was CUE UP (1D: Get ready to play). I've heard of BIRD'S EYE VIEW, but never ever WORM'S, and EAR ___ made me think only of EAR CANDY. Even after I figured out it was EAR WORM, I thought there was something going on with BIRD'S EYE VIEW and EAR WORM, i.e. a rebus where the crossing elements ... act out adages? The early BIRD catches the WORM? Honestly, I was giving this serious consideration for a while. So I had to work for it, which is great. It's just that figuring out that it was all for the sake of ... a word ladder? That was something of a let-down.


The fill was also uneven, with a bunch of stuff giving me great joy (INFERNO! OTTO DIX! BESTIARIES! SCREEN SHOT!) and some stuff leaving me wondering "what?" AZOTH? NITRILE? (41D: Latex-like glove material). Those two and TRASK (7D: "East of Eden" family name) I would've tried desperately to ditch if this had been my puzzle. Still, overall, I think the good outweighs the bad. It was important that the non-rebus fill be pretty gettable, because you need it to fill in the areas around and eventually *find* the rebus squares. It was pretty clear early on that a rebus was in play. Here's what my grid looked like a couple minutes in:


At this point I've located the first two rebus squares, but still have no idea what goes in them, how many there are going to be, etc. Once you know they're out there, you end up looking for them everywhere, including places they're not (which, today, included the NE and SW corners). I just noticed that the rebus squares today are symmetrical. I generally don't think much of symmetrical rebuses—too easy to find. Better to make people really look, and let maximal grid smoothness dictate where the rebus square goes (rather than forcing the grid to accommodate a fixed rebus square). But today I clearly didn't even notice the symmetry, and the grid doesn't seem to have suffered too much. So symmetry seems neither plus nor minus. 

Bullets:
  • 5D: The P.L.O.'s Arafat (YASSER) — Spelled it YASSIR, one of a string of misspellings today that included PADMA for PADMÉ (56D: "Star Wars" queen) and WOPNER for WAPNER (55A: Judge of 1980s-'90s TV)
  • 38D: "___ the light!" ("I SAW") — I went with "I SEE." I'm not sure what context is intended in either case. 
  • 14D: 2003 OutKast hit that was #1 for nine weeks ("HEY YA") — I'm happy to be reminded of this catchy song. Given its popularity and its five-letterness (i.e. shortness) and its vowel-endingness, I'm kind of surprised I don't see it in puzzles more often. I'm kind of horrified by how the old the song is now. Still feels current to me :(
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

    78 comments:

    Whirred Whacks 12:11 AM  

    I enjoyed this puzzle, and thought it was cleverly designed. Nice job, Mr. Constructor.

    I caught the rebus early with EAR WORM and WORMS EYE VIEW.

    I liked that the clue "band leader who became a 1950s TV sitcom star" yielded two 5-letter answers:
    --Desi ARNAZ (which was correct) and OZZIE Nelson (incorrect)

    Anonymous 12:13 AM  

    I guess this was just in my wheelhouse. One of my shortest Thursdays ever. Saw WARM and WORM right away, and as I worked clockwise, got COLD and had it pegged. I thought PASS(WORD)HINT was especially good crossing SCREENSHOT.

    -Brennan

    Z 12:21 AM  

    The Tigers have been in (WARM)body mode since late July, so I got that and then EAR(WORM) pretty quickly. HEAD(COLD) went in third and I was wondering what could be connecting WARM to WORM to COLD. I echo Rex's disappointment at discovering it was just a word ladder. It's a good word ladder, but that is like saying "it was a good pils." Sure, but I want something a little more daring.

    NITRILE? AZOTH? Otherwise no complaints.

    Steve J 12:36 AM  

    I don't typically find word ladders remotely interesting, but somehow putting one in a rebus livened things up a bit (and actually helped me in a couple spots once I picked up on what was going on). But what I particularly liked about this one was the fill. A lot of really good stuff: EARWORM, SCREEHNSHOT, INFERNO, DIMWITS, MINUTIA, BESTIARY, NASCENT. Certainly more than enough to overcome one or two rough spots.

    woolf 12:45 AM  

    "I'm kind of surprised I don't see it in puzzles more often. I'm kind of horrified by how the old the song is now. Still feels current to me :("

    I mean, we're people who do the New York Times crossword daily, so our collective sense of what's contemporary in pop culture MIGHT be skewed. Heck, I felt like WAPNER and INXS were pretty cutting edge stuff.

    Question for the group: was the inclusion of unaccented PATES (not "pates" as in heads) and unaccented PADME (not "Leia" as in defensible cinema) a coincidence or a weird choice?

    Generally good stuff; was genuinely flustered regarding how to get Best Sellers" into BESTIARIES because Game of Thrones and vodka brain.

    jae 12:57 AM  

    Long time no rebus and long time no word ladder.  So, why not?  Very different solving experience than Rex had.  Easy-medium for me.  EAR WORM gave me the rebus and seeing WARM BODY for 1a gave me the ladder.   NITRILE and AZOTH were WOEs which caused the medium part. 

    We recently watched the Channel 4/AMC series Humans about sentient humanoid robots.  RUR, which I only know through crosswords, let me catch the show's shout out to the author.  The last name of character who deals in stolen robots was Capek.

    Hard not to like a twofer on Thurs.  

    chefwen 1:09 AM  

    I must be half a bubble off, this took me forever and then some to figure what the hell was going on. Had it pretty well filled in except for the holes where I didn't know what was going where. The light finally came on way down in the SE corner with HEADcold and GOcold, did a uey and had to work my way back to the top. Had to do a little cheating on the way, so, utter failure in this camp. Part time puzz partner is AWOL, and that didn't help either.

    Hopeful for a better outcome tomorrow.

    Wednesday's Child 1:14 AM  

    Haven't done the puzzle yet.

    I am curious. Last month the NYT had a total of 36 constructors (some puzzles had 2 contributors), 33 males and 3 females. These numbers are fairly representative of previous months.

    We know that the structure of the male brain is different from that of the female brain. So, does the male's propensity for a more compartmentalized approach to the processing of information have anything to do with the above numbers? What is it? Male privilege? Cultural influence? The environment?

    Men and women are different physically/biologically, hormonally and neurologically. Different, but equal. What do you think? Why the representation disparity between male and female constructors in the NYT crossword puzzles?

    Jisvan 2:03 AM  

    Since latex allergies have become more common and are sometimes severe, most hospitals have switched to NITRILE gloves. They are often brightly colored as well: purple, blue, pink or green. (You can still blow them up and draw funny chicken faces on them.)

    Beijingrrl 2:37 AM  

    An easy rebus for me, which is not usually the case. I flew through this one. "Hey Ya" was still No. 1 when my son was born in late January 2004.

    Loren Muse Smith 4:41 AM  

    Like @Whirred Whacks, I had quite a different experience from Rex. Since I dispatch any fill-in-the-blanks first, I caught on to the trick just a few seconds out of the gate with HEAD COLD/GO COLD. As soon as I had COLD squished into that square, I looked up to 1A and saw WARM BODY/WARM UP. Then somehow I just figured it was a word ladder. Lucky guess.

    EARWORM/ WORM'S EYE VIEW were next, and I figured somehow that the rebus squares would be symmetrically placed, so I had almost the whole thing done in Thursday record time.

    I say "almost." Had a dnf because of the OTTO DIX/DREDD/MODS/INXS crosses. Three blank squares. Given more time, I maybe could have seen MODS, but that DIX/INXS cross… I doubt it.

    I spelled it "Yassar" first, Rex.

    Here's an earworm I got earlier thanks to Facebook. Maybe it can compete with ("Shake it like a Polaroid picture.") Sometimes singing in different KEYS just doesn't matter. Brought a TEAR to my eye because, well, don't we all feel this way about our dogs?

    Word ladders are harder to do than they look. So a rebus, a word ladder, DIMWITS, SCREEN SHOT, BESTIARIES… I liked it even though I couldn't finish. Dems the breaks, huh?

    RiqueV 5:01 AM  

    Wapner is not misspelled Wopner in the puzzle. Perhaps a DNF for Rex?

    Elle54 7:38 AM  

    Got Ear worm and swords right away, so saw the word ladder. Liked! DNF at Innx/Dix

    jberg 7:49 AM  

    ETS was my first entry, then thought EARWORM, remembered that it was Thursday, and I was off -- but it then took me a long time to find another rebus square, maybe because I was looking for more worms. Also because I wanted to suit UP at 1D. Finally got WARM BODY, and the rest was easy -- although I didn't notice the symmetry until FOR THE RECORD, so it only helped me with the SE corner.

    I was surprised to learn that you can see Kilimanjaro from Nairobi, but I just looked at a map and I guess it's plausible. I had Mombasa in there at first (from the last a, from 'fantasy art' at 28D), which was less plausible.

    I love word ladders, even when they give you a chill.

    selfrighteousindignation 8:02 AM  

    I was initially stymied by the 1A/D rebus but found Cold which twigged Warm (opposites? I thought) Once I got Worm, I knew it was a ladder. The rest was easy peasy. The K in Keys/Trask was my last fill. Had to guess at Trask but my military background wouldn't allow me to see Command and Control in terms of a keyboard.

    zac 8:12 AM  

    How did you selectively read the Wapner section to find the misspelling without reading the part about it being a misspelling? I'm curious.

    Lewis 8:22 AM  

    Combo rebus/word ladder -- rather than ask "why" -- if it works, how about "why not?"

    My first rebus entry was WORM, and the second WORD, so I saw what was going on. I started with "fogey" for "Any old person, so to speak", and I'm guessing I'm not the only one. Great clues for KEYS and ETS (finally not an outer space clue), and some excellent non-theme answers: MINUTIA, FORTHERECORD, PASSWORDHINT, and SCREENSHOT. I like that LID is on top, and KEYS in, and my adolescent brain found a Boggle-style curse word starting with the S in SOL.

    Some definite areas of battle in this one, which is what I look for, plus the gravy I just mentioned -- a prime solving experience! Thank you John.

    AliasZ 8:25 AM  


    I don't remember ever seeing a rebus word ladder. How refreshing. And just when the temperature turned from WARM to COLD in NYC. Well, cool.

    Didn't know HEYYA, NITRILE, AZOTH, OTTO DIX (sounds like car dorks) or PADME. Fair enough for Thursday, I guess. I loved SCREENSHOT, ANT FARM, BESTIARIES, INFERNO without the Dante clue, and MINUTIA. Too bad BLAMEON, an echo of URGEON from the other day, is camouflaged like a chameleon as a clumsy partial.

    - I find it odd that an old person is singled out as a WARM BODY.
    - Is DIMWIT better than retard?
    - The CITI of RANOVER is often misspelled as Hanover on maps.

    The LIMITER, usually combined with a compressor, is an electronic circuit designed to prevent overmodulation in recordings and live broadcasts for those audio engineers who don't know what they are doing. It limits the overall dynamic range and causes a pumping effect, making a whisper sound as loud as a roar.

    I liked the puzzle, except for the UFO crew at 6A.

    Cheers.

    Generic Solver 8:29 AM  

    The fact that the rebus squares *are* symmetrical still does not change the fact that they are randomly placed, especially the two that are not in the corners or center. Having said that, I had five WTF moments where I could tell more letters were required, so that randomness didn't do me in. However, I suppose I'm not hip enough to know EAR WORM and don't know photography, so I couldn't guess the "worm" square. Otherwise fine, but weird.

    Anonymous 9:19 AM  

    Mischievous is not the same as arch. Mischievous is more playful, arch drier and snootier.

    Schatzi 9:25 AM  

    Password Hint? ARISTOPHANES!!!!!!
    http://youtu.be/2_sFmt8xPY0

    Anonymous 9:28 AM  

    love it when the stars align! sailed through this but didn't get mr. happy pencil due to misspelling WArNER. nice start for the day… thanks mr. guzzetta!

    Lobster11 9:33 AM  

    I can see why you wouldn't be impressed if you think of this as a"boring old word ladder... in tiny boxes." I think of it as a rebus, which happens also to be a word ladder, and that seems pretty clever to me. I also liked much of the cluing. Unfortunately, DNF because I was unaware of the meaning of ARCH as "mischievous," and also had no idea about the crosses TRASK and HEYYA.

    Jamie C 9:36 AM  

    Took me (and Aliasz and others, it seems) too long to parse that the clue was " person" rather than "any " An AHA moment. The rebus was obvious after EARWORM and PASSWORD HINT which allowed me to fill in the first and last squares and work to the middle from there. I liked it because the rebus/word ladder helped solve the puzzle, and of course I am always partial to DIMWIT.

    The Rhino 9:40 AM  

    I had a lot of fun with this one. The fill felt fresh. Even TRASK, which Rex called out, worked for me - but East of Eden is a novel I reread every couple of years. I liked the word-ladder, but I have no strong feelings against them (as some apparently do). Overall, I'd give it a solid A-.

    Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:41 AM  

    Didn't know TRASK or HEYYA and never figured out KEYS, so didn't finisdh that section.Likewise didn't know WAPNER or RUR or PADME so I didn't finish that corner. Almost didn't finish the upper right hand corner because I didn't know DREDD and I thought 'slept with' was BELAID, which was annoying my sense of propriety. But then I remembered OTTO DIX and that cleared up. But, does anyone call moderators 'MODS'?

    GeezerJackYale48 9:49 AM  

    Well, I qualify as a 1-Across, so some of these clues were tough for me. Theme answers came quickly enough, but I have never heard of "Inxs", "Tri Tnt" (or "Tnt Tri" whichever), "Bestiaries", or "Heyya". I have needed hints with my passwords and a screenshot seems logical to send to a tech specialist - so I eventually did get there. Good challenging exercise for the gray (very gray)matter.

    Lewis 9:50 AM  

    What would have been more elegant is if the ladder went from WARM to COOL (rather than COLD) as they seem like better opposites (the opposite of COLD to me is HOT). So I've been trying to make a word ladder going in five steps from WARM to COOL, but haven't succeeded. Maybe someone here can???

    Jamie C 9:53 AM  

    Ha my carats got destroyed by blogger. The clue was "ANY OLD person" rather than "any OLD PERSON..."

    Sir Hillary 9:58 AM  

    More information than anyone here needs: When I work out on treadmills that do not have a TV screen, to keep my mind off the tedium I do simple word ladders in my head. Usually, they are opposites (HARD-EASY, SLOW-FAST) or related words (PIG-STY, MOON-BEAM). All to say, I have done the WARM-COLD walk before.

    Even so, it took me quite a while to figure out what was happening here. Like @Rex, I wanted [cue]UP at 1D, and it wasn't until I got to the SE corner that I caught on. From there, it was a pretty easy solve back up to the NW.

    A few things outside my knowledge base (PADME, AZOTH, NITRILE, OTTODIX) but all gettable via crosses. All in all, I give this one high marks.

    Nancy 10:02 AM  

    I caught the fact that it was a rebus (Yay!) long before I caught the fact that it was a word ladder. HEAD COLD/GO COLD was the first in and EAR WORM/WORM'S EYE VIEW immediately after. CORDIAL got me CORD next, then came WORD. WARM was the last in. It was great fun and I felt pleased with myself for being so smart. Still, it sort of seemed arbitrary, because I hadn't noticed the WARM to COLD progression. Once I came here and saw that, it seemed less arbitrary. But I really liked it a lot. Much fun.

    Courtney 10:04 AM  

    I'm in the same boat--I was getting rebus answers pretty early, which made this a super quick Thursday. Same groaners as Rex, but otherwise a pretty great puzzle.

    Nancy 10:09 AM  

    @Alias -- Any old person doesn't refer to any OLD person. It refers to a non-specific, very unimportant person, as in ANY old person. Like you would say, "oh just bring me any old dish rag", even if it's a brand new dish rag. If you see what I mean.

    Mohair Sam 10:13 AM  

    Well we liked this one a lot. Had us totally ferdorkled with the combo rebus/word ladder for the longest time. We had WORM and CORD very early and could not figure what they had in common. And the nifty misdirect at 1A (old) threw us off track. Eventually Mrs. Mohair yelled "PARIAH/HEADCOLD! it's a damned word ladder" and we were saved. Lots of fun.

    "East of Eden" a favorite here, but still struggled with TRASK. Interesting that HEYYA and EARWORM are so close. Btw, isn't HEYYA still number 1, and didn't they get the date wrong on the INXS song, wasn't that last year?

    Ladder/rebus mix a nice change-up, nice mix of unusual and up-to-date long answers, symmetry for heaven's sake - what's not to love? Great Thursday John Guzzetta.

    @Wednesday's Child - Ace constructor Liz Gorski has insight on the subject - I'm not good at linking - Google her name with female and crossword construction and you'll find some interesting reading.

    GILL I. 10:13 AM  

    Took me forever to figure this out. Wanted WARM and COLD and never imagined a word ladder. I guess I really knew it wasn't EAR WARM or EAR BIRD so that confused me even more.
    I did this late last night @Nancy (hi) so a small drink of Fundador in my favorite CORDIAL glass finally made me yell PAD ME!
    I had BESTIAlity by gum and that was a LIMITER. Also, I didn't know the same words as @AliasZ and dang, I thought MINUTIA was (IAE) at the end.
    @jberg...On a clear day you can see forever...! We flew from Mombasa to Nairobi many moons ago and could see Kilimanjaro from the plane. You can take day trips from Nairobi to see Africa's highest peak. Next time maybe...
    I'm still a NASCENT Thrusday solver [sigh] and still get flummoxed by the tricks...This got me good.

    demit 10:24 AM  

    AliasZ– think of saying the phrase "any old person" the way you say "any old time." Took me awhile, too—it was the last square I filled in,—then I realized the clue was a misdirection.

    Leapfinger 10:27 AM  


    I wasted a whole bunch of time trying to think of a unisex term for 'Any old person'.

    To quote a British blog-pal's recent plaint, I can't remember how long I've been senile.

    Caught the rebus with EARWORM -- I'm subject to them -- and the WORD ladder after PASSWORD_HINT, which thankfully let me extrapolate that the ladder went from WARM to COLD. Timely, bien sur? as is the CORD of wood. FOR_THE_RECORD, the symmetry was a big help in pinpointing the last location, would have been better had my map-reading not taken a wrong turn South of Petaluma.

    My only regret is that we didn't get more RAREs to round out our NASCENT BESTIARY, keep company with the Owlet Moth and Mole Rat. AZOTH it goes.

    Consoling myself with the NAIROBI Trio. (Kovacs, Hungarian)

    Good Guzzetta, Rex Rules.

    Roo Monster 10:28 AM  

    Hey All !
    Well, as your resident Verbumleitermaus. I have to like this puz! And, actually, I do. Word ladders (to me) are always fun, and then this particular one is rebiied! (Like that? Plural of rebus, plus -ed! [Not sure if that's past tense, present participle, present part-past, now... :-) ]) But anyway, a cool puz, although dreckness ensues. NITRILE (huh?), AZOTH (huh??), TAY, (huh?), clue for ARCH (huh??). But, there were also some good stuff in here.

    Writeovers: I See, like 99% of you -> I SAW
    nItWITS-> DIMWITS, which got me wIN for LID
    BirCH-> BEECH, MINUTAE-> MINUTIA. Wanted either scan or seek for AMFM first.

    So 100% correct, although I had to resort to Goog for TRASK and HEYYA. Would that be a correct DNF?

    WARM BODY INFERNO
    RooMonster
    DarrinV

    Leapfinger 10:31 AM  

    Hmm. Also wondered whether one single MINUTIA doesn't get lonesome all by itself. A Singular of Convenience?

    Five minutes to WAPNER.

    Malsdemare 10:38 AM  

    My first two entries, after about 30 seconds, were WARMUP and WARMBODY. Even put in EARWORM quickly only to remove it when WORMSEYEVIEW eluded me. Caught the word ladder at PASSWORDHINT. I have no idea why, but I had this one COLD; well, aside from no knowledge of the judge or the queen or the 1988 band. Sigh! All that inspiration and dnf.

    But it was great fun. Thanks, Mr. G.

    Guilherme Gama 10:49 AM  

    Non-native English speaker here. I had seen EARWORM before, but I confess WORM'S-EYE-VIEW is new to me, albeit logical.

    I'm surprised to see people bothered by the lack of accents in PADMÉ and PATÉ. I'd taken for granted that there are no accents in English crosswords. For instance, I often see AÇAÍ spelled as ACAI, and in this case the lack of a cedille in "ç" changes the pronunciation in a much more dramatic fashion.

    Tita 10:58 AM  

    Thanks, Jamie C - until I read your comment, I did not parse any old person right. Makes it a great clue!

    Wow - what a dilemma - I love rebi, but am 'meh' over word ladders. Rebus wins - I thought it clever to combine the two.

    Liked seeing MINI Cooper under LID - mine is a ragtop - so its LID is usually flipped.

    This was a pretty big DNF for me...
    ISee the light demands, and deserves, the "!" at the end. ISAW the light is rather postclimactic, and deserves only a ".". So ISee it stayed.
    That mistake cost me the puzzle, since I had no clue about the queen (nADME), the judge (eAnNEs), or the play(RUs).

    Thanks Mr. Guzetta, for a fun, if failed (for me) THursday.

    Blue Stater 11:20 AM  

    Sorry for the OT, and sorrier still for the fact that I asked this question about six months ago and lost the answer but: how do you enter rebus answers in the puzzle application that the NYT has online (i.e. not AcrossLite)? This time I'll save the answer on my desktop.

    Of course this wouldn't have come close to helping me with this monster, but for the first time in the 20 years or so that WS has been running these, I got close to completion before I had to give up.

    cwf 11:42 AM  

    I enjoyed this, though it was frustrating in places. The symmetry was helpful for me in placing CORD, 'cause I was kinda stuck in the SW.

    The ladder is timely as I'm sitting here in my Brooklyn apartment unable to shut my windows because of a broken collarbone (and because the windows are old and stuck in place) and I before starting the puzzle, I turned off my fan for the first time in months and rolled out the space heater. It's chilly!

    I do believe the drawings in that TMBG video are by Kaz, who, I just learned from wikipedia, has worked on SpongeBob Square Pants (which, given his work in the 90's, is kind of unsettling).

    old timer 12:06 PM  

    I SAW the light, I saw the light. No more darkness, no more night. Now I'm so happy, no sorrow in sight. Praise the Lord, I saw the light.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVr0M7WCBu4

    Obviously OFL doesn't hang out at folk music parties. Because that song, though written by Hank Williams, has passed into the oral tradition.

    Got the rebus at EARWORM, confirmed it at HEAD COLD, then went back and put in WARM at the other corner, shaking my head at the insult to we elders, calling us mere warm bodies (anyhow, older people tend to be cold all the time). Didn't think about putting the emphasis on "any" instead of "old".

    So, there I was wondering when I would find CORD to complete the ladder. Got that with CORDIAL. I remember when it was traditional in some circles to finish a nice meal with a glass of B&B (Benedictine and brandy).

    Took a while to remember Judge DREDD. Never heard of NITRILE, but gettable on crosses. Same with AZOTH, though I had seen the word before. Like many of you, I had "Ozzie" before ARNAZ. When I was in elementary school, I probably never missed an episode of "Ozzie and Harriet", and in fact Don Defore was a neighbor of ours.

    Chip Hilton 12:18 PM  

    Sorry, Rex, but for me, the placing of the rebus word ladder was critical in the solve. Having found CORD and WORD, I realized what was going on and assumed that the word ladder would go top left to bottom right with a dead center participant. That meant WORM's position was a gimme. With that foothold, this became a fun exercise.

    I was stuck on Ozzie Nelson for a good while, never thinking of Desi. Which of those two TV characters was the bigger buffoon? Tough call.

    John V 12:47 PM  

    Got the rebus right away but agree that the fill was uneven; esp NAIROBI/ARNAZ crossing. WAPNER/PADME: what is up with that??????

    But, did think that developing a word ladder rebus was pretty cool, starting off WARM, finishing COLD. Well done for that.

    The Ridger, FCD 12:59 PM  

    "I Saw The Light!" is a classic Johnny Cash song.

    chefbea 1:06 PM  

    To tough for me. Couldn't figure it out. No fun!!

    Anonymous 1:13 PM  

    Not sure why it's considered clever to just put entire words inside individual boxes -- seems like it would make a puzzle easier to build if you can just disregard the one-letter-per-box rule. but what do I know? Could someone explain the rules of rebus puzzles? Are there any rules, or am I destined to foreverafter have to worry that individual boxes might randomly have entire words?

    Anonymous 1:25 PM  

    Knowing there was a word ladder got me into an impossible situation. I already had WORD, CORD, and COLD. So I confidently wrote 1-D as GIRDUP. Less confidently, I wrote 20-A as BIRDSEYEVIEW and looked for a place to use something to get from BIRD to WORD. Of course I never found it and ended up with 1-A as GIRDBODY, which caused me to throw up my hands in defeat. I still like GIRDUP as being a good answer, probably better than WARMUP.

    Anonymous 1:27 PM  

    I can't believe that HEYYA is 12 years old?! I actually couldn't bring myself to put it in until I confirmed it with crosses. I feel old today. . . :(

    Masked and Anonymous 1:55 PM  

    Happiness is a WARM WORM. After I got about that far down into the rebus/ladder, I was startin to see where this puz theme was headed. Even tho I held out a faint hope for a WURM entry, I wasn't holdin my breath.
    Overall, a Fun solve, and learned more new stuff: NITRILE. HEYYA. OTTODIX. BESTIARIES. AZOTH. TRASK. Plus memory reboots: BMI fat. PADME. Singular RARE. Also, have now successfully forgotten: FOGEL.

    @009: yessir. YASSiR. BED-DID sounded a bit clumsy, tho.

    Kinda neat summer --> autumn word ladder transition. Colder than snot here, last night.

    Weeject Wall of Famer: RUR. This lil jewel turns up a lot in grids, compared to turn-ups in the general population. Reasons:
    1. R's are very convenient letters, in fillin grids. There are many RE- and -ER words, plus more, if U are willing to get a get a bit creative. (yo, @YASS-ER)
    2. RAR, RER, RIR, ROR, and sometimes RYR are all rubbish. RAR does have a sorta "other farside of RARES" potential goin for it, but it's a mighty tough thing for a constructioneer to mine.
    3. There's only one way to clue it, so it becomes a near-gimme, for any seasoned solver. So, no harm, no foul.
    4. R.U.R. play was the coiner of the word "Robot", and hence is a pretty ground-breakin dealy, to word people.

    What we really need now is a new schlock film-version of that old RUR play, to give it some modernization punch.

    {Why M&A was swatting at a lot of flies in his TV room, this fall?} = ? (Answer afar below)

    Masked & Anonymo4Us

    **gruntz**




    Answer to fly-swattin clue: SCREEN SHOT.

    Teedmn 2:00 PM  

    Wandering around looking for a gimme, my second entry was EARWORM. The clue for 20A allowed me to parse the cross and I was off. Some writeovers: MINUTae before MINUTIA (and I see, looking up my first choice that I spelled it wrong. MINUTIAe doesn't look correct to me but it is, oh well.) I put in MRE at 68A but, expecting rebus symmetry of a different sort, took it out again. After I changed 'off THE RECORD' to FOR THE RECORD, ANT FARM fixed that. Hand up for I See before ISAW and I had to mumble Judge WAPNER's name out loud a few times to bring it to mind (WAlkER, no, WAcnER, no.....).

    I liked the theme and was even able to use it to help solve 57A 'cause I was stuck in the SW for a while. AZOTH, while not a gimme, was not a WOE either and gave me ARNAZ.

    But I finished and read the whole @Rex write up before I finally got the clue for 1A; I kept putting the emphasis on 'old', not 'any' and was thinking that most of the old people I know feel cold, hmmm. Doh!

    Nice one , John Guzzetta.

    Ron Jeremy 2:15 PM  

    Is a SCREEN SHOT the same thing as a "money shot"? 'Cause I've had a lot of "money shots" appear on screen, and I've never heard them called SCREEN SHOTs

    Roo Monster 2:25 PM  

    @Lewis 9:50AM,
    As a (the?) Verbumleitermaus, I got from WARM to COOL in six steps, lowest count I got.
    WARM
    WORM
    WORK
    CORK
    COOK
    COOL

    Hopefully that'll work for ya!

    RooMonster

    OISK 2:34 PM  

    Having never heard of HEYYA, knowing INXS only from puzzles, Padme???, Ottodix, all meaningless minutia to me - I am very pleased at having been able to solve this one! Got the rebus very late, and took over an hour, but I got it. Got a kick out of the word progression once I saw it, so the overall experience was not bad. Didn't know there was a firth of Tay, but I have been to Loch Tay, so it was an easy guess, and much as I DREDD pop culture clues - this one was doable.

    joho 2:38 PM  

    Who would think of marrying Rebus to Word Ladder? John Guzetta, who says, "I do!" that's who! What a fun Thursday this was! Word play tied to more word play. I loved it from WARM to COLD.

    Wednesday's Child 2:38 PM  

    @Mohair Sam - thanks for the Liz Gorski connect.

    Got WARM and WORM fairly quickly (though I thought it was going to be suitUP which didn't pair well with suitBODY. I stumbled around a bit and found HEADCOLD, then I knew that we had a ladder thing going on. I noticed the symmetry, figured the word progression and filled in the two remaining rebi.

    I had fun with this but DNF'd with BESTIARIES and CITI.

    I kept thinking of an OLD person, too.

    Thanks JG.

    Casco Kid 2:45 PM  

    Good solving experience! 50 minutes, no errors, but at 35 I was at wit's end, groping for the crosses-only DREDD, OTTODIX, AZOTH, INXS, HEYYA, and the illusive WARMBODY/WARMUP, PASSWORDHINT/SWORDS while trying to decide on iMIR or EMIR and in whether BirCH trees have burs for crossword purposes only. Because we all know how for-crossword-purposes-only can turn white into black as easy as WARM into COLD.

    I had rejected FORTHERECORD and EARWORM by the 10th minute for lack of space and was trying hard to make floorVIEW work. Slowly, PADME emerged. TEAR/RETRO added much needed order in the south. Suddenly [COLD] and [CORD] mean a word ladder was in play. 35 minutes to see that. After all was said and done, I am left to admire the symmetry of the ladder. Nice work, Guzzetta!

    AZOTH remains a WTF.OutKast? That video looks more like an SNL skit that anything. For reals? But I'll take the W. You know I will. Still looking for a way out of Rex's first grade. No social promotions. Nope.

    Z 3:29 PM  

    @ANON1:13 - A rebus puzzle only needs to follow basic crossword rules except when it doesn't. I'm guessing you're relatively new to the NYTX, because this type of puzzle is relatively common, especially on Thursdays and Sundays. That's not to say that a rebus can't appear any day of the week. In short, never forget that it is a crossword puzzle.

    Ludyjynn 3:43 PM  

    WAPNER was my opening gimme. Three reasons to love the guy: he dated Lana Turner in high school; he was awarded both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star in WW II for his US Army service; he is critical of Judge Judy's demeanor, she being the only other tv jurist with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    Liked the puzzle a lot, despite a DNF at the first NW quad ladder. I would not relinquish 'ante' UP and justified 'ante'BODY in my pea brain! The rest of the trick WORDS were easy, starting with EARWORM. ICU, I happily announced as each one uncovered itself.

    FORTHERECORD, I did the puzzle while waiting to be called at the doctor's office, where there are boxes of purple NITRILE gloves lined up on the wall in every size under the sun.

    Thanks, JG and WS, for so many lovely words today.

    Lewis 3:56 PM  

    @roo -- In true Verbumleitermaus fashion, you came through. As good as today's puzzle was, I think your ladder, with the extra step, would have made for a better, more elegant one. Bravo!

    RAD2626 6:25 PM  

    Very fun. Got rebus early with WORM and ladder early with WORD. WARM and COLD went in late, having fallen for the 1A misdirection. Enjoyed entire puzzle. @Chip Hilton Desi for sure. Ozzie was just a 50's doofus, along with Jim Anderson and Ward Cleaver among others. No gainful employment but lots of cardigans. Desi was a comic foil to his genius comedic wife. Clear win for Desi.

    Leapfinger 7:45 PM  

    Om mani PADME hum... I don't know if that would have been sans critiism, but that would have been better than pure guesswork for me.

    Still think that AZOTH is 26 past the Nth number.

    kitshef 8:55 PM  

    Knowledge is an odd thing. @Rex clearly knows more words/phrases/abbreviations than I ever will, yet has some odd gaps in knowledge that I thought were known everywhere. EARWORM and ISAWthelight being the examples from today.

    Loved this puzzle, because of course it's not 'just a word ladder', it's a rebus and a word ladder, two great tastes that taste great together. Plus it had things I don't know, but crossed fairly, so I get to learn. THIS is what I want my puzzle to be like all the time.

    da kine 11:00 PM  

    I just made the horrible SW corner better in about 20 seconds. Take out that latex glove bs and put in NITRITE (sodium ___: meat preservative). Swap out TAD for TAY. Swap out RETD (out of work? Abbr.) for RELY. Not the cleanest fill, but better than TAY and NITRILE.

    The Ear Worm 11:26 PM  

    So perhaps I had a leg up, given my posting moniker, but my first half looked a lot like OFL thought EARWORM for 6D, but that put me looking for worm drive or something and wasn't loving it, so left it blank and popped down to get COLD in the lower right corner, from there it was pretty fast to see warm and then with WORM back in play, WORMSEYEVIEW fell and the word ladder was revealed giving PASSWORDHINT and the rest just dropped into place.

    So yeah, easy-medium time for me, not like the Friday I just slogged out, but I'll wait for his post tomorrow to comment on that.

    Kevin Mcgue 1:22 AM  

    The plural form of euro is "euro" in any language, always lower case with no s, something the European Union is quite clear on. "Euros" made me lose faith with this puzzle.

    Ron Beasley 9:55 AM  

    Quite likely the worst crossword construction I have ever seen in the NYT. Randomly plugging in letters in place of words? Why? Too lazy or incompetent to design a crossword with complete words, it appears.

    Burma Shave 11:57 AM  

    SCREENS HOT, WARMUP

    My DREDD was to LIMITER CUTE WARMBODY,
    ISAW she was a RARE, NASCENT INFERNO.
    FORTHERECORD she was both CORDIAL and naughty,
    YASSER, put the BLAMEON me. (I BEDDED her though.)

    --- RAUL WAPNER

    spacecraft 11:57 AM  

    Man, I must be one of those WARM BODYs. HEYYA feels OLD??? To me it's post-whenever-I-stopped-listening-to-what-passes-for-music, and about as catchy as a COLD.

    Which is where ISAW the light. I had made a couple of start-stops around the grid, then settled in the SE with RUR/ICU-->ICELAND and so on. The last down had to be GOCOLD, and when HEADCOLD fit I had my rebus.

    But what of the NW? Was #1 the HOT corner? No, but I was getting, heh heh, WARM. And then I saw the obvious EARWORM/WORMSEYEVIEW, and the jig was up. Now all I had to do was look for, let's see, WORD and CORD seemed most likely, plugged 'em in, and voila!

    Not, however, without some guessing in the SW. The NITRILE/AVIA cross was a natick for me; AVIA must be an off-brand. Don't know all of the firths, either, but TAY sounded the most...Scottish. Guessed the I.

    A few do-overs: my DIMWIT was a nItWIT, my SCREENSHOT a tesT, and (hand up among the crowd) my SPAR a mast. Yeah, yours was too. AZOTH was a WOE that went in all on crosses.

    This was a pleasure to unearth. I don't share OFL's "so what" attitude on the outcome. It's the first time I've ever seen a word ladder compressed into a rebus, so for me that equals "fresh." A-.

    rondo 12:53 PM  

    Oh boy! A word ladder rebus cramming 4 letters into a square along the way (down). My favorite things!
    I wasn’t getting much until I filled in the CORDIAL and then the search was on. Until then I had the _VIEW and was wondering how to get the WORM into it. Aha. Almost all of the rest was no prob. But good thing I’ve read a lot of Steinbeck, because OutKast means almost nothing to me.

    Not seeing any yeah babies, but a WARMBODY is a good start.

    Just had my BMI computed yesterday while enrolling into next year’s insurance. 22 if you’re interested.

    Much of the fill was pretty good once you got past the tricks. PADME and AZOTH only by crosses. I suppose not too much to BEECH about.

    eastsacgirl 1:53 PM  

    Was easy/medium for me. Got the rebus at EAR WORM. Didn't catch the WARM to COLD theme but still a fast pleasurable Thursday.

    Anonymous 3:04 PM  

    Liked this one a bunch! I had little fills all over the place until I cracked it at For the record and Cordial. From there I went to Headcold because I had Wapner, pariah and ID tag. So that was it and I then worked from below deck to top mast. The last dragon to fall under the mighty sword was the NE section. That area took the longest time, and, I'm going to be 79 and wanted to reach my Bday with a complete grid. Whew!

    Anyway, I agree this definitely was a "Ten" in my book and fun to do.

    I really appreciate now knowing about Otto Dix but couldn't care less about Padme, Not a trekkie. Also got a kick out of bestiaries. Now there is a word you don't hear while getting your hair cut. I doubt if that little trinket will ever come up again.

    Ron de la Diego, La Mesa, CA. (Where bestiality may be practiced in some circles but never bestiaries, Oh no).

    Nigel Pottle 3:58 PM  

    You misunderstood the comment. Rex first misspelled it as Wopner just as he misspelled Padme as Padma.

    Tom Morehouse 4:48 PM  

    Seeing it was a word progression rebus, I made up a DIMWIT rule: the rebus squares would be within the nine-letter words only, thus keeping me from filling the NW and SE corners. I was especially misled by the "Any old person..." clue for WARMBODIES because I didn't get the subtlety of "ANY old", not "any OLD", as was nicely explained by @Nancy, way above.

    leftcoastTAM 7:45 PM  

    To Rex:

    Okay, this is after your usual hours since I'm a syndilander way out West, but I think you've heard a lot of complaints about the moderating, batching and delaying of posts.

    Let me complain once more.

    You're taking away a lot of the fun and interest in your blog. I think you're going to lose more posters who have interesting, sharp, often biting things to say, as well as those who have enjoyed the openness of it.

    It's your blog, and you have every right to do what you want with it, but I hope you will think a bit more about the effects of how you've changed it.

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