Portmanteau legally recognized since 1977 / THU 11-12-15 / 19th-century nativist group / Three-time NHL All-Star Kovalchuk / Boomers of old in brief / Oscar-winning role for Hattie McDaniel

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Constructor: David Kwong

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: P AND A (40A: Popular zoo attraction ... or a hint to 11 squares in this puzzle) — 11 "PA" squares, just like the clue suggests

Word of the Day: The KNOW-NOTHING PARTY (32A: 19th-century nativist group) —
The Native American Party, renamed in 1855 as the American Party, and commonly named Know Nothing movement, was an American political party that operated on a national basis during the mid-1850s. It promised to purify American politics by limiting or ending the influence of Irish Catholics and other immigrants, thus reflecting nativism and anti-Catholic sentiment. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, whom they saw as hostile to republican values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, but met with little success. Membership was limited to Protestant men. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class membership fragmented over the issue of slavery. // The most prominent leaders were U.S. Representative Nathaniel P. Banks, and former U.S. Representative Lewis C. Levin. The American Party nominated former President Millard Fillmore in 1856. He was never a member, nor a nativist. (wikipedia)
• • •

Once I figured out I was dealing with a rebus (always the tricky part), my first thought was "buncha PA squares, so what?" But the clever grid architecture—revealer dangling there in the middle, with both the P and A apparently (but not, ultimately) "unchecked"—and the often sparkling fill won me over. Seriously, that is an A+ handling of the rebus revealer, and how the hell can anyone be mad at a puzzle that puts SAM PECKINPAH on top of the KNOW-NOTHING PARTY? (32A: 19th-century nativist groupOKAY, maybe the fill gets a little dicey in the corners (see esp. the SE corner), but there's too much delightful stuff for that short stuff to have much of an effect on solving pleasure. Also, the "PA" hunt keeps you on your toes in such a way that an ENSE here and an OPE there isn't likely to distract you. "PA"s are scattershot, which I like—makes grid more of a minefield. Feels a bit weird to crave a minefield, but I feel what I feel. I think what I really crave / enjoy is the Unexpected, and the delight that can come with it. For instance, the triple-PAPAPA in PAPAL PALACE: that was a pleasure to uncover.

I knew something insane was going on in the NW, where I started, when I couldn't get the stupid traditional German band to play anything I recognized. Me, "Well, it's OOMPAH ... but the "H" from THO is f*%&ing things up, and even then the answer is too long ..." So I had this empty sandwich: SCIATIC and IMPLODE were the bread, and in-between—mostly air. It was only after I allowed myself to drift down the grid a bit, to the out-and-out gimme SAM PECKINPAH, that I realized "Oh ... PA." Then the German band started playing nicely.

The only real Danger Zone for me was the very last corner: the SW. I didn't immediately get what kind of DEPARTMENTS I was dealing with (58A: Ones getting the business?), so the front end was blank, and the [Portmanteau legally recognized since 1977] was not nearly specific enough for me to get it quickly, even with the -MONY part in place ("Is ALIMONY a portmaneau...?"), and my first pass at the short stuff was not fruitful, so I had a wee moment of "uh oh."

But then I tested SPAY (60A: Fix) and got SALES and it all came together without Too much difficulty. SALES DEPARTMENTS is yuck for a marquee answer. Kind of a let-down after the more explosive and impressive upper half of the grid. And yet even there, things stayed interesting, as the fill was solid and the "PA"s were still peskily hiding. This puzzle was fun to solve. This Is All I Ask.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. ICYMI, here's my BuzzFeed crossword from yesterday (co-constructed with Lena Webb). Give it a shot if you've got time. Thanks.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Susierah 6:52 AM  

Best Thursday in a long time. Just plain FUN! I am so glad Rex liked it! We need more like this.

Mary Watts 7:13 AM  

Ditto Rex!

Mike in DC 7:27 AM  

Fun puzzle. The clever grid arcjtecture Rex mentions is a picture of a panda's face.

Samantha 7:32 AM  

So I'm new to the app...it doesn't let you fill in the double letters? That's lame.

Roo Monster 7:35 AM  

Hey All !
So apparently it's supposed to be grid art? Cause I submitted a grid art puz with a pumpkin face, and it was rejected by Will saying he doesn't accept them anymore. Hmm. Me bitter? Naw.............

This puz was... interesting. Had to search for the rebi, which I know people like. Thought at first the revealer clue meant the 11 squares in the center. But after sussing PANDA, figured out the PA rebus. Nice longer answers. Light dreck. Overall good, not too easy ThursPuz.


George Barany 7:49 AM  

Much to love about @David Kwong's puzzle, which was eminently fair with respect to the two unchecked squares, and has left/right symmetry which offers all sorts of possibilities not available to the more conventional crossword symmetries. Also, pleased to see such a positive review from @Rex.

I wonder whether the 11 appearances of the rebus PA was a belated acknowledgment that yesterday (11/11) was Veteran's Day.

Lewis 7:59 AM  

@rex: "This puzzle was fun to solve. This Is All I Ask." -- Amen, brother!

The grid looks like a cute little panda with a Mohawk. For "Horse in a harness", I wanted MR ED. Terrific clues for COMES, ARSENIO, and AWAYGAME, and some beautiful answers -- PANACEAS, PASSE, PALIMONY, FLIPPANT, OSMOSIS, and LAPAT. There's a mini theme of words that end in A (7). I'm wondering if David originally tried to get PAPAHEMINGWAY into the grid.

I was wondering if the first two letters of the reveal should have been rebusly squeezed into one square, and I'm still not sure about that. Overall, this felt like a great hunt, enriched by those fine answers and some clever cluing. Started my morning in s__des!

Lobster11 8:03 AM  

I liked what Rex liked, especially the "minefield" aspect. Unfortunately, DNF for me because of LIRA/TREO/LEON.

blinker474 8:21 AM  

This was great. I do love rebuses, especially non-symmetrical ones. It had to take a long time to get 11 rebus squares, so congratulations to David Kwong.

chefbea 8:25 AM  

I'm the first?? I think not. Too tough for me. Came here to let Rex tell me what the theme was and I still didn't get it. P and A??? Then I realized. Now will go back and try to finish the puzzle

Charles Flaster 8:27 AM  

Cannot decide if it is easy/medium or medium/easy. Enjoyed hunting for the PA rebus and picked up the trick at KNOW NOTHING PARTY.
Liked cluing for OSMOSIS, AWAY GAME, and ARSENIO.
There was some questionable fill as Rex suggested but the overall effect was cute.
Good puzzle for a Father's Day , someday.
CrosswordEASE--SST and SLR.
BTW "The Wild Bunch"was one of the goriest movies of its time but worth a watch.
Thanks DK

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

I ran into some of the same blocks as Rex -OOMPAHPah, etc. ALIMONY/PALIMONY wasn't easy. SPAY and SPAT were the 'duh' triggers that made the rest of the PA squares fall into place, even though I didn't get the revealer until later.

A clever rebus is a joy to work through. This one worked really well. Congrats to David Kwong for a fun puzzle.

Z 8:46 AM  

Once I got that PA was missing I started keeping tick marks to keep count. Minefield or symmetry? I think the asymmetrical PA placement really works. I was a little surprised at using up triple PA in one answer, but then I decided that was pretty cool.

Took me longer than it should have to come up with the KNOW NOTHING PARTY. Any resemblance to current American politics is purely depressing. Names and religious affiliations have been changed to increase the irony.

Brian W. Ogilvie 8:58 AM  

Is the grid meant to look like a panda's face? It looks like one to me.

Tita 9:02 AM  

Love a good rebus...took me forever...went through whole grid with almost nothing filled. Took me a long time because so little of the fill were gimmes.

The NE was my undoing, because I just couldn't let go of [pa]ntheon for Hall of fame. I was soooo proud of that answer...
I was just about ready to give up, when, suddenly, i got it.

A dnf, THO, because I didn't notice that my neRf ball, LEif as the LL Bean guy, and LIRe left me with two unfillable squares. Oh well.

Thanks, Mr. Kwong. A perfect Thursday rebus.

GILL I. 9:13 AM  

This was sweet! I really mean this was a Godiva "G" box of chocolates wrapped in shiny gold sweet.
I did have to work hard, though. Like @Rex, SAM PECKINPAH was my first AH moment. I already had PANDA so I knew this wonderful little PA trick was lurking just about everywhere. I always assume the long answers will be filled with the rebus answers but I enjoyed finding little gems like PASSE, PARTI, PACER (I almost put in MrEd) and SPAY and SPAT and, well, all of them.
KNOW NOTHING PARTY was the hardest for me to suss out. I wanted Anti Catholic something or other and I had that TH but, thank you very much, KNOB came into view and then I remembered the name of the awful PARTY.
I'd take this every single Thursday. EVERY time.
Wonderful, fun puzzle, David Kwong. You're DA MAN.
Oh, I had to look up PALIMONY. I know it of course - doesn't everybody? but I couldn't remember why. Remember Lee and Michelle Marvin? I, like thousands of others, followed that case with glee. I think every single Hollywood actor did as well...

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

I am sure someone will mention this way before my comment gets published, but I believe the grid art is an added bonus, which makes this puzzle more impressive by an order of magnitude. It looks like a panda's face.

Lots of trouble spots and tricky clues/answers, but expected for a Thursday. Recognized the rebus, but the random scattering of PA everywhere made it tough to pin them down.

Last area was around BELG answer for Lux neighbor, because at first I had AWebnAME for the 'marked by @' answer at 30D.

Nice challenge DK and WS.


Nancy 9:21 AM  

Always happy to see a rebus and I saw this one early -- right off the bat at OOMPAHPAH. Then, after racing through most of it, I thought, oh, no, am I really going to Natick on this at the 44A/34D cross? (LL Bean/ early smartphone). But I didn't yet have YARN at 35D, I had YAR-, and would you believe I had to run the alphabet to get the N? (That was the toughest clue, I thought, in the puzzle, and once I got it, my favorite.) Everything else went smoothly. My favorite theme answer was PAPAL PALACE and my favorite non-theme answer was AWAY GAME. An enjoyable rebus, but not an especially tough one.

Nancy 9:26 AM  

Just went back to read y'all and I'm GOBSMACKED at how all of you see a panda's face in the grid. One of you even sees a panda with a Mohawk, yet! And me? I see an asymmetrical grid design. Period. But that's just me, I guess.

quilter1 9:30 AM  

Did not know the smart phone so finished with one blank square. Cute theme and once I got it the rest came smoothly.

Hartley70 9:38 AM  

On apple device keyboards tap more and then on the next keyboard tap rebus

Mohair Sam 9:41 AM  

Well if you're a Civil War era history buff who loves "The Wild Bunch", has a son who was accepted at LASALLE, visited the Vatican recently, has jogged a few PACERs, and saw a CNN piece on a PANDA last night this puzzle played easy for you. And you're me - talk about hitting the sweet spot!

And hand up with Rex and just about everyone else here - this was a lot of fun in spite of the SSR, ERS, and SSTS. We ran into a little resistance, as did OFL, in the SW and resorted to a PA count to get things done. Why can we never think of SPAY or neuter for fix?

Lots of clever clues; PAPALPALACE a gem of a themer. Thank you David Kwong.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Hey Samantha. If you're on a mac, the ESC key opens up the square for the rebus. For other platforms, you'll have to ask the NYT puzzle help desk or hope other bloggers will weigh in.

Today's puzzle was excellent. Started very slowly, kept at it, and cracked the rebus within a reasonable time.

In a word, it was:


Hartley70 9:55 AM  

This was a dream of a rebus! I had a DNF because of the O in LEON, but that didn't lessen my delight one bit. I shop there all the time and never considered the name at all. Who would name their child Leon Leonwood Bean anyway? Isn't one Leon enough?

I love a little knowledge with my breakfast and I only knew PORTMANTEAU in it's suitcase incarnation. Luckily I could see PALIMONY anyway, so I didn't get stuck there. I got NOTHING which gave me the name of the party, but I remembered zip about it so a post-solve Google was interesting. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thanks David, it was really swell!

Ludyjynn 10:00 AM  

Really, really nice puzzle. What Rex said.

I esp. liked the 'six degrees of separation' between PALIMONY and SAM PECKINPAH. Here goes: Actor Lee Marvin was originally cast in 1969's "The Wild Bunch" in the role ultimately played by William Holden. He had a falling out w/ director PECKINPAH and left to take the lead in "Paint Your Wagon", with Clint Eastwood. In the 1970s, Marvin was sued by his live-in girlfriend of 5 yrs., Michelle Triola, for financial compensation after they split up. The Court decision regarding so-called PALIMONY was later overturned in his favor in the absence of an oral or written agreement between them.

@Lewis, hand up for Mr. Ed. I'm kind of disappointed he didn't make the cut!

Kudos to David Kwong for what was for me the best puzzle in the NYT in quite a while.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:01 AM  

Good one. Thank you, David and Will, for a classic Thursday rebus.

Tiny "but" . . . I know it is used "in the language," but it continues to bother me: How does one self-destruct by IMPLODEing (17A)? I suppose if functioning within Earth atmosphere, one could have pre-installed a very large vacuum supporting one's outer structure . . . .

jae 10:27 AM  

Finally, a tough Thurs.  Even after I got the PA rebus it took some effort to finish. 

@Tita - me too for nerf but I managed to fix it.

Here COMES the Sun  maybe The  Beatles's  best song.  Always makes me smile.

This was @Rex delightful.  Liked it a lot!

old timer 11:11 AM  

It's funny the bits of trivia that slosh around in your brain waiting for a good crossword, isn't it? In my case, Mr. LEON L. Bean, a name doubly memorable because LEON is a province in Spain, right next to the much larger Castile -- there's a Nuevo LEON in Mexico, too.

Had SCIATIC right away, and 4D could only be A PA L, and it *is* Thursday, so the rebus was easy to find. My only writeover was etd, changed to ETA. Not that the puzzle was all that easy, but it was doable, and enjoyable for all the reasons @Rex points out. The cleverest clue -- and there were many -- was the one for AWAY GAME. I had been looking for something to do with e-mail.

I think the only questionable answer was YENS. Has anyone ever seen a plural YEN in real life?

Joseph Michael 11:15 AM  

This puzzle required a lot of **tience but was fun to solve in the end. However, it is beyond me how anyone can see a panda face in the grid. Maybe I need some more ****ya.

Carola 11:17 AM  

Agree with @Rex - very entertaining. I saw the rebus with the introductory OOMPAHPAH, when A PAL and IPAD had to be right. Loved the little suprise of finding EACH ONE of the remaining PAs. Just-tricky-enough clues kept things interesting ("Out," "fix").

AliasZ 11:26 AM  

This puzzle was a stePAbove the usual rebus fare. It had more PAPA's in it than an Athens, Greece, phone directory, yet not one PAPArazzo nor a PAPAya. Why did David Kwong decide on eleven rebus squares? Because he didn't want twelve.

If you squint real hard, you may actually notice that the black squares in the grid slowly taking the shape of the face of a PandA. That reminds me, I haven't done a NYT P-and-A puzzle in a while. I should get back to doing those.

Some iffy fill is PArt and PArcel of a puzzle with so many rebus squares, but the excitement of finding the next PA was PAlPAble. I was glad to PArticiPAte in such pleasant PAstime while watching PAssePArtout traverse the PAmPAs of Argentina (or was that a different Verne novel?). Many Jules Verne novels had been read my millions, where "read" is a PAssive PAst PArticiple.

Let me stoPAlready, but not before offering the third movement of Symphony No. 3 in B minor, Op. 42 by Reinhold Glière, titled ILYA Muromets. Wikipedia tells us this ILYA guy was no hockey player.

Have a cheerful "OomPA LoomPA doomPAdee doo" Thursday.

thfenn 11:33 AM  

Loved it. Ditto all that's been said already. Started with OOMPAPA before I knew there was a rebus, started to catch on with IPAD, then FLIPPANT, then PAPALPALACE...

Managed to more or less attack this clockwise and then the middle, so the revealer was really fun. So many great clues and answers in this one.

Samantha, not sure what app you're on, but in the online version you press 'Esc' to open up the square for a rebus.

Arlene 12:09 PM  

I got the rebus ATPAR and worked backwards. Definitely fun hunting for the PAs and getting the PANDA reveal. I did need some help looking up for PECKINPAH and ENSE. And checking LASALLE and SCIATIC. But finishing is the triumph for me - glad everyone enjoyed this as well.

ArtO 12:23 PM  

Love rebus Thursday and this was great. DNF due to SW. where Rex was stalled.

Andrew Heinegg 12:27 PM  

I generally don't care for rebus puzzles but, this one was fun. The reason I don't generally like them is that the revealer generally requires some too easy cluing. And, while I thought that was the case here a bit, there were enough good long revealers to make for a pleasurable solve. I do think that, Thursday tradition aside, this was more like a Tuesday or maybe Wednesday difficulty level. Overall- bravo!

Chuck McGregor 12:31 PM  

I used to play tuba/sousaphone in jr. high (or whatever they call grades 7 - 9 these days, if anything). As a start, I figured out OOMpaHpaH with help from 4d, 6d and, being Thursday, that rebuses were possible. Were they symmetrical? Wandering around, I got SPAT and SPAY and thought they were. FLIPpaNT quickly cured me of that, alerting me they could be lurking anywhere.

Finally got it all, agreeing with others that it was a fun solve (did need a couple of reveal/checks).

In my Boy Scout days, we toured a NIKE (named for the goddess in 33d)missile base in Westport CT. I had a camera (35 mm but not an SLR) and was instructed by our Army tour guide what not to photograph because those things were classified. When around the actual missiles (we were allowed to touch them!), this dictum included their rear ends. Well, "brat" that I was, I took one of the rear end when he wasn't looking. I still have it (and did not sell a copy to the "Reds"). It doesn't really show much of value that I can see, but as a kid, having some "top secret" information was A(real)HI.

It sure was eerie visiting an active missile base, only some 15 miles from my home, in a decidedly suburban setting, ready to shoot down incoming Russian bombers. It must have had an APO address.

"In the 1950s Bridgeport [CT] — an important manufacturing city, with military production places like General Dynamics, Remington and Sikorsky — was presumed to be high on the Russians’ target list. Nike missiles would defend it. They had to be launched from a high elevation, not far from the city. Westport seemed a perfect spot. The town was rattled." [Quelle surprise!] Read more

Continuing this digression, I had a dream when I was maybe 10 (c. 1955). I was on our street with a friend and we saw low flying Russian bombers coming towards us (OK, I'll say it) in the SKY over a small grassy field, a bit strangely flying away from New York City (about 35 miles west). I knew they were going to drop their bombs or maybe already had on New York and was profoundly scared knowing I would assuredly die. This nightmare haunted me throughout the entire cold war. I still vividly remember it and the feelings of fear and dread to this day. At the time we were doing those "flash drills" at school (duck and cover if a nuke went off, which must IMPLODE in order to explode).


On a lighter note, as if things could be darker than contemplating the denouement of civilization, I was happy to see the appearance of LEON Leonwood Bean in place of yet another REI and because I mentioned Bean's yesterday and (to run on)(also Warning -- possible TMI:) 'cause I'm wearing my L.L. Bean PJs and slippers and (for those in the know [odd, know used as a noun?]) a Reny's bathrobe.

If I wanted something to remain permanently I'd rather it were STONY than ININK, but to EACHONE his own.


Evan Jordan 12:38 PM  

If you tap "more" on the key pad, the next menu has a key "rebus". Tapping this enables the entry of multiple letters in one cell.

Chip Hilton 1:11 PM  

Fun, indeed! Like @quilter 1, I had trouble with the smartphone (and my own lack of recognition of the multiple meaning of capital on 38A.) but otherwise, flew through once I got the PANDA. How great was PAPALPALACE?!

This is everything a Thursday should be. Challenging, clever, and yup . . . fun.

Teedmn 1:22 PM  

You want a rebus on Thursday and then you unfortunately get what you ask for: I didn't do well on this one - I even used Google once, which I haven't done in ages, but the SW was holding me up and my lunch hour is just that. So I looked up ILYA. Perhaps, with more time, I would have thought of LAP AT because I certainly wanted LAP but...

And there's the DNF of the Middle East where neRf started and YeRf ended. Forgot to change LIRe and TREi looked familiar as a phone. As an avid knitter, seeing YARN there was a big doh on my part.

My writeovers are myriad but my favorite is wifE for 'Trophy figure'. Not nearly as silly is having invesTMENTS for a time in 58A. And there's my original OOMPAPA before I discovered the Rebus at PANDA. Squinting, I can make out the face, but at first I mistook the ears for eyes and that through me off.

Thanks, DK, for a nice variation of my (usually) favorite style of puzzle.

Samantha 1:30 PM  

Ah ha!! Thank you so much!

BarbaraB 2:38 PM  

Re: your last question above, I'd say no. PANDA spells out "P and A," which is the hint to the 11 rebus squares.

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

I'm not loving 50 across. Palimony may have been recognized in some states in 1977, but I had never heard of it and it doesn't exist in my state or the five states that abut my state. And the definition didn't help, since, where i come from portmanteau is a briefcase. We sometimes use it in diplomacy to mean an area of the world or department. So the clue didn't match a word I didn't know, so down the whole thing went. I must have flunked roarshack. I don't see a panda's face in the grid.

chefbea 2:50 PM  

Just did the small easy crossword puzzle that is in our newspaper and lo and behold...panda was one of the answers!!!

Numinous 3:02 PM  

@Samantha: I use the iPad app and have a separate keyboard (shameless plug, a Logitech and I love it). Pressing the return key opens the square to a rebus. Pressing it again closes it.

As I cruised through the puzzle the first time, I started to enter Sergio Leone. I thought it was amusing that at least the S was correct. I had already seen 24D and knew LMN was correct when SAM PEKeNPAH dawned on me. going through the downs I realized that it had to be PECKeN[PA]H. That E gave me a DNF that I was totally incapable of seeing no matter how hard I looked. I've never heard of LIN Jeremy or Jeremy LIN so LeN looked just fine.

I'm with y'all who can't see a PANDA in the grid. I get the idea, eyes and a nose, but I still don't see it. I did dig the "scattershot" PAs once I got the hang of it all. So I liked this one. I'll rate it as easy. Had it not been for that errant E, I'd have been done in way under my average for a Thursday. I spent a good ten minutes searching for that pest before I finally gave up and hit reveal.

BigWool 4:42 PM  

Susierah - Why do you care if Rex likes it? If you like it, that's all that matters.

aging soprano 4:49 PM  

I am so PAroud! A year ago I couldn't even begin a Thursday Rebus, and today I almost finished one. Considerable improvement. I got the PA theme at PECKINPAH, but didn't see the revealer right away, and was expecting the PAlestinian Authority. That's what PA stands for around here. Happy that it was a PANDA.
@ChuckMcGregor, you mean you were wearing L. L. Bean PAjamas?

aging soprano 4:59 PM  

I am so PAroud! A year ago I couldn't begin a Thursday Rebus, and today I nearly completed one. Considerable improvement.
I got the PA Rebus at PECKINPAH, but didn't see the revealer until some time later. Was half expecting it to be the PAlestinian Authority; that's what PA stands for around here. Liked PANDA better.
@ChuckMcGregor, were you really wearing L. L. Bean PAjamas?

Chuck McGregor 5:35 PM  

@aging soprano 4:59 PM

HAR, Good one! I (obviously) missed that opportunity :<(

old timer 6:27 PM  

Re: LL Bean. 30 or more years ago, I settled on my clothing styles for once and for all. Bean is a supplier for me (river driver shirts: favorite winter wear). So is Brooks Brothers (for corduroy pants and sweaters and dress shirts), Barbarian (rugby shirts), Penney (underwear and socks), and though I have little call to buy more suits, many of those that I have are from Nordstrom.

schmuzz 8:21 PM  

i so wanted to fit in the DO NOTHINGPARTY - but couldn't make it work...can't wait to show this to my friend who listened to David Kwong speak at the 30 under there 30 convention a few years back...

Jon Roberts 8:27 PM  


Tita 3:40 PM  

Me too for Trophy wifE, @Teed.

@ChuckM - I never knew about Nikes in Westport! Cool writeup.

spacecraft 11:12 AM  

I have to smile at this for a different reason. One of the most-advertised law firms out here in Sin City is Peters and Associates, AKA (of course) as PandA--complete with the bear avatar. They have billboards everywhere. You syndifolks know me with the [letter]AND[letter] format, so as I travel about town I just have to grin and...OKAY, I'll say it: BEAR it. But of all that genre I'm most used to PANDA, so when I saw that cute-nosed grid and those two uncrossed squares, I could practically fill it in without even reading the clue. So for me the jig was up from the get-go. All I had to do was look for PA squares. Thus the NW fell first and easiest (!!).

None of the longer entries was too much trouble; the medium part of my easy-medium rating came in those crimpy corners. Three wince-inducing themers in the south: LAPAT, PARTI, ATPAR. Seldom do I like a puzzle LESS than OFL, but I have to take off for crutch fill such as SASSILY and those overworked (even while mothballed) planes: SSTS.

There was a true natick at TRE_/LE_N, but what else could complete a name but LEON? But TREO? Total WOE. As was ENSE, but that bad boy went in easily on crosses--and I agree about the yuckiness of that corner. Just enough to bring it to a B+.

Burma Shave 12:10 PM  


NINA talked to me SASSILY and was FLIPPANT like a smartie,
IMPERSONAL really; charter member of the KNOWNOTHINGPARTY.


rain forest 1:34 PM  

I concur with pretty well everyone--I really enjoyed this one. Interesting to find out how various people cottoned on to the rebus. In my case, I thought the nerve ended in -TIC, and I chanced CHEESE TRAY off that C, and for some reason, I just knew the revealer was P AND A. My first use of that was SPAY, and then PAPAL PALACE (brilliant). Back to the NW for that corner once I twigged to SCIATIC after trying to fin a PA in there. Unlike so many, I had to get many crosses to see SAM PECKINPAH, stupid me, and of course the last area to fall was the mideast.

Lotsa fun, and I rarely gripe but two things come to mind. One, too many people seem to really care that their take on puzzle agrees with OFL, as though that matters a damn. Two, when you have a gem of a puzzle like this, why do people still have to point out where crosswordese has snuck in? I don't get it.

Serendipitously,I beleve that the party of 32 across have been having debates recently. 19th century, meet the 21st.

rondo 6:14 PM  

11 PAs following 49 Rs , fascinating. I didn’t feel as much love for this one as most everyone else seemed to. Rebus bias, you know. But any puz with a RON in it can’t be all bad.

Yeah baby UMA makes another frequent appearance; she sure gets around, lets PARTI.

OOMPAHPAH, I’ve got an Eb tuba for sale if you know anyone looking. . .

EACHONE to his own. Not my favorite of the week.

leftcoastTAM 7:13 PM  

I go with Rex on this one.

The OOMPAHPAH/APAL crossing provided the initial scent and the PANDA revealer came pretty soon. Then it was a matter of finding the PA squares, which made the whole exercise interesting.

Not like counting Rs.

leftcoastTAM 7:31 PM  

@rain forest:

Many people, like me, make note of agreeing with Rex mainly because his hypercriticism makes it such an infrequent opportunity.

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