Characters in Romola Gondoliers / THU 7-7-16 / Gilbert protagonist of Vampire Diaries / Onetime Caribbean native / Spherical symbol of authority / Political comic who once had a one-man Broadway show

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Constructor: Joel Elkins and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: CHECKPOINTS (34A: Border stops ... or a hint to four squares in this puzzle) — a TSA rebus

Theme answers:
  • "THAT'S AMORE" (17A: Dean Martin classic) / SET SAIL (4D: Go to sea)
  • LIGHT SABERS (21A: Jedi defenses) / MORT SAHL (9D: Political comic who once had a one-man Broadway show)
  • WARTS AND ALL (54A: Everything, the good with the bad) / IT'S A BOY (50D: Delivery room announcement)
  • YOU DON'T SAY (58A: "Really?!") / TENT SALE (47D: Outside clearance event)
Word of the Day: SEA HARES (24A: Mollusks once known as lepus marinus) —
The clade Aplysiomorpha, commonly known as sea hares (Aplysia species and related genera), are medium-sized to very large Opisthobranchia with a soft internal shell made of protein. These are marine gastropod molluscs in the superfamilies Aplysioidea and Akeroidea. // The common name "sea hare" is direct translation from Latin lepus marinus, as the animal's existence was known in Roman times. The name derives from their rounded shape and from the two long rhinophores that project upwards from their heads and that somewhat resemble the ears of a hare. (wikipedia)
• • •

I've never encountered the TSA at a "border stop"—only in airports. But maybe they're at border stops too, I don't know. Or maybe that doesn't matter, and it's just that the TSA are a form of checkpoint. Good enough. This rebus was remarkably straightforward and easy to uncover. SET SAIL was obvious before too long, and after that ... just more TSAs. Some of the TSA-containing themers are quite good—actually, all of the Acrosses are, though I especially like "YOU DON'T SAY..." and "WARTS AND ALL." The fill is about average. Very serviceable, with only a few real rough spots. I don't know why I keep ending my puzzles at the very roughest part, but several times in the last few days my last square has been in the junkiest answer. Here, it was the "A" is TESSAS. So many TESSAS. Hardly anyone is named TESSA, and you want me to accept two. What's a "Romola"? As plural names go, that was rough. But the only other parts that really made me wince were the verb-to-noun monsters EVADER (bad) and TOTALER (worse). I think I'd accept those only if they were clued [Tax ___] and [Tee___] respectively (I'm not serious, esp. about that last one).


Clues are snappy and fun, for the most part. I enjoyed remembering "I'm With Stupid" t-shirts. Clue at 1A: "___ Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World" (2012 book) (IKE'S) is a valiant attempt to save us from having to endure a second plural name (after TESSAS). The clue in IDI is hilarious in its superfluity (26A: ___ Amin, Oscar-winning role for Forest Whitaker). 99% of solvers will get IDI from [___ Amin], and the other 1% are actually fictional because I can't imagine anyone having a go at a NYT Thursday puzzle who doesn't know IDI Amin. Anyway, the whole bit after "Amin" about Forest Whitaker is fantastically unnecessary. [Oscar-winning role for Forest] is a much (read: infinitely) better clue, one I'm sure has been used before. Why not here? Don't know. Current clue's not bad, just baffling. If you had told me my favorite clue was going to involve Miley Cyrus, I'd've told you "shut up," but as fill-in-the-blank quotation clues go, I loved 49A: "Pink isn't just a color, it's an ___": Miley Cyrus (ATTITUDE). I like the sentiment, as well as the sheer weirdness.

I don't know what SEAHARES are, but the crosses were all fair. I guess they ... kinda ... look like hares. I forgot that the "Vampire Diaries" girl was an ELENA (56A: ___ Gilbert, protagonist of "The Vampire Diaries"). The non-Kagan kind. EWEN Bremner was beyond me (65A: Actor Bremner of "Trainspotting" and "Black Hawk Down"), so that SE corner was probably the toughest, between those names and the tough-for-me partial 53D: "How can ___?" ("I LOSE"). I wanted only "IT BE?" but that obviously didn't work. OK, that'll do. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

P.S. "A Little Back-and-Forth" by Byron Walden is a great puzzle and you should do it (if you subscribed to the American Values Crossword Puzzle, you'd know this already)


Gabe Tuerk 12:19 AM  

Never seen anything but __ Amin or Dictator fill-in-the-blank and don't know much about Forrest W in the role. Agree on superfluosness there. Didn't like Sudses nor At nine and stacked together the awkwardness compounds but I'll take the cross warts and all

Donkos 12:21 AM  

I ended at Tessa too, which sounds like an alternate pronunciation of TSA.

Pete 12:22 AM  

Well, 26A did get a non-homicidal black man referenced in a puzzle (even though he played a homicidal black man in the movie), so that's good, no?

The TSA has nothing to do with borders. Perhaps if 34 A had read "Boarder stops..." it might actually have had something to do with with the TSA, and have been cute, and, oh I don't know, made some damned sense.

jae 12:23 AM  

Easy-medium for me too with the top half easier than the bottom. The ARAWAK/KETONE cross was tough, but I vaguely remembered ARAWAK from a visit to Aruba many years ago. I also caught the rebus very quickly so the only problem was sorting out WOEs like TESSAS, ELENA, EWEN...I LOSE took some effort.

SEAHorse before HARES (did not read the clue carefully)

Cute theme, liked it except for the couple of @Rex clunkers.

George Barany 12:31 AM  

Nice debut for @Joel Elkins, and (in a way) @Andrea Carla Michaels too, since she tends to not author puzzles (particularly those with rebus components) this late in the week. @Rex's review is mostly positive, identifying numerous excellent features of the puzzle, as well as a couple of the sticking points.

If you'll indulge me, I want to express some concern about the KETONE clue. The prototype ketone is acetone, CH3(C=O)CH3, but we can all agree that would be too easy, due to the ONE portion of the name being repeated. However, who but an expert would know that camphor is a natural product containing a ketone functionality? Thus, the clue is not particularly useful to a non-chemist, who would have to rely on crossings.

The real problem, however, concerns the second example, fructose. In the real world, both in the solid-state and in solution, an intramolecular cyclization takes place so that the ketone functionality is masked. The open-chain form is, at best, a very minor equilibrium species. So now we have a clue that is useless to a non-chemist, and imprecisely misleading to an expert.

Lest I come across as too pedantic, I want to share an anecdote that shows how scientists can have senses of humor. When the great Nobel laureate biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi first isolated vitamin C from Hungarian peppers, he knew that it was some sort of sugar, but did not have enough information to propose a specific chemical structure. He therefore suggested the name "ignose" [note, sugar names end in OSE; see ribose, glucose, fructose, maltose, sucrose, etc., etc.], but the journal editor wrote back that this was undignified and inappropriate. Szent-Györgyi shot back with his alternative suggestion: "godnose" !

Anonymous 1:13 AM  

What George Barany said. That clue was both useless and misleading. I wanted AROMATIC but that's
too long and fructose isn't an aromatic. I'm not a trained chemist, but I know a few things. After a few
crosses KETONE was the only answer I saw. Good thing, because I'd never heard of ANARAK. ANORAK, yes,
but not ANARAK.

Good Thursday workout for me.


Larry Gilstrap 1:13 AM  

I pony up around April 15, so I am no tax EVADER. Was Mort Sahl's prop a clipboard? Hand up for being that guy doing the puzzle on such a device. For some odd reason, my early TV watching involved shows that featured SCUBA divers. SEAHARES was a total gimme. Go figure, it must have been the "lepus" in the clue. A tricky Thursday. Leaving my shoes on for a few more minutes.

phil phil 3:31 AM  

'How can I lose' and 'how can it be' would both need a bang. !

How can I lose ?

phil phil 3:43 AM  

@George Barany it will amaze those on ketone diets see fructose clued as a ketone. A diet of avoiding carbs.

I remember in a 1st yr chem lab being cautioned by the instructor not to taste the poisionous concoction we made, some ketone compound. It had that delicious aroma of cognac.

r.alphbunker 3:54 AM  

I smiled when I saw TSA which doesn't happen in the real world very often.

This is a timely puzzle for me since I am traveling. There were rumors of three hour TSA waits in Chicago which fortunately were not true and we got through in about 20 minutes. I got through this puzzle even faster. The only delay was ARAWAK which got pulled aside and was given a thorough examination before I let it through.

Plurals of names can be used in lightbulb jokes, as in how many Rex Parkers does it take to change a lightbulb? Two is what comes to mind first. One to change it and the other to write about the experience. My guess is that Acme could come up with a better punchline.

Loren Muse Smith 4:17 AM  

I agree with @George on Rex's write-up – mostly positive but identifying a couple of sticking points. Very nice to read.

Rex – I love that picture of the SEA HARE. It looks like a brontosaurus whiling away an afternoon on his back underwater, not a care in the world.

I smelled a rebus early, too, but for the wrong reason – I was going for "how can I 'refuse'?" for 53D. So I had a brief ridiculous thought that the trick would involve some kind of FU. Hah! Didn't really fit anyway.

Rex, I see your point about BORDER STOPS. I went more with the literal idea that the TSAs involved stops between the borders of words in a phrase. So things like "tsarina" or "jetsam" wouldn't work.

Two great words – FOMENT and CONTRITE. I never hear the word FOMENT out in the wild, but I do know people who love to stir the pot. Actually, I didn't even remember/know that it was a verb.

And CONTRITE – Don't we all just want people who do us wrong to show a little contrition? Dogs have that nailed. Now if my husband could just learn to wag his rear and squint his eyes a little after he has loaded the washer so full that the top clothes are not even wet when the cycle is finished…

And I agree with Rex that WARTS AND ALL and YOU DON'T SAY are great. I also liked IF THAT.

So, Joel – your NYT debut! Congrats! You and Andrea delivered a nice

Loren Muse Smith 4:39 AM  

@Sheik Yerbouti (from yesterday) – here are three of my all-time favorite puzzles:

Going Around in Circles by Patrick Berry

A Cut Above the Rest by Jeff Chen

unbelievable weekday puzzle by Patrick Berry

Anonymous 5:26 AM  

We had ELYSE from Family Ties less than a week ago (Saturday 2 July) - really?

Marty Van B 6:02 AM  

It took me quite a but longer to arrive at the TSA squares than it should have. The revealed had me thinking there was check mark shape involved which made sense because the themers had more letters than could be filled.

The southwest was the hardest section. Never heard of an Arawak or a ketone. Sudses looks and sound ridiculous. And then California geography always kinda grated me; it along with FDR's work programs always feel like a cope out.

This was still way, way more enjoyable than yesterday's awful puzzle. Thumbs up!

Dolgo 6:43 AM  

As you all must know by now, I try not to whine. But I thought this one was a lot trickier than the previous comments indicate. I still don't get how the theme (TSA)works here. Maybe I'm just dense.Y each, I knew Arawaks. Yeah, I've read enough George Eliot and seen enough G & S operettas. And who couldn't guess "Mort Sahl," "lightsabers," etc., etc. The gimmick of the day emerged early, but there seemed to be no reward for catching on, at least for me. Insomnia doesn't get mollified when you have to work TOO hard!

Glimmerglass 6:47 AM  

lepus marinus is Latin for rabbit of the sea.

Conrad 7:54 AM  

Aren't there CHECKPOINTS when you drive (or walk) between the U.S. and Canada or Mexico? And aren't the U.S. sides of the checkpoints staffed by the TSA? If they were only at airports they'd be the ASA. I think the puzzle has that one right.

RAD2626 7:55 AM  

Fun puzzle. Rebus jumped out with SET SAIL/THAT'S AMORE right away. Interesting how many options pop to mind for 53d. Maybe based on mood or mindset. I put in "I help?" and was sure that was right since "you do that to me" would not fit even with a giant rebus.

Nancy 8:04 AM  

I'm always, very, very happy to see a rebus, but this one was unusually easy for me. Probably because MORT SAHL was a gimme, which also gave me LIGHT SABERS. Until then, I was thinking what on earth are LIGHT BERS? Loved WARTS AND ALL. I do think the answer to 53D ought to be How can...I LOSE MY GREEN PAINT?

Love your comments today @Ralph Bunker. Nice to see you back.

Yes, this is the earliest I've ever posted. Am very tired. Don't ask. Will now watch the tennis -- if I can keep me eyes open, that is.

msue 8:21 AM  

Figured out TSA gimmick fairly quickly, making this grid a bit faster than my usual Thursday. Didn't know TESSAS, making that the last word solved - all those S's makes me wonder why it doesn't show up more often in puzzles. Agree that TOTALER was a stretch, but not too awful. My biggest embarrassment was misunderstanding Rex's suggested fix for the 39D clue "TEE_____" All these years I've thought teetotaler was TEA TOTALER...probably conflating it with TEA SIPPERS (a phrase you would hear if you grew up in Texas.) How did I live this long with that glaring confusion? I've lived a cloistered life, apparently. No wonder my solve times are so dismal.

GeezerJackYale48 8:25 AM  

Yes, George Barany and Anonymous: what you said. The answer had to be "ketone", but knowing fructose was a sugar did make me wonder.

Z 8:27 AM  

I like the call back to yesterday with today's THAT'S (TRI)AMORÉ.

It's hard for me to like anything associated with the TSA. Government boondoggles ($5.1B for FY2017 - give or take whatever wrangling happens) that aren't particularly good at solving the problem they are supposed to fix while intruding on my privacy? I'm GENERALly not in favor of trading away freedoms for security, but I'm really not in favor of trading away freedoms for insecurity and hassle and being forced to deal with the surly equivalent of humorless mall cops. Give that $5.1B to NASA so we actually get something for our money. Or the EPA. Or as college grants. Or some scientist researching the triamory propensities of SEA HARES. /rant

Anywho, @ACME and Joel Elkins had a big hill to climb to get me to like this puzzle. They managed to move me off my initial reaction. Nicely done.

@Donkos - Knowing @ACME the TESSAS observation was probably a little easter egg she was hoping people would find.

@George Barany - Har! I recognize the word KETONE. "Some vaguely sciencey word you will recognize, sort of, when you get all the crosses" would have worked just as well for me.

@Anonymous Brennan - Hopefully that's a typo and not a DNF.

Anyone else amused by the notion of an ECOGUN? Or the IMAGE of IKE'S NAVE? Or the Short Short Story RON-ASP-BED-ETC? Or the new Harlequin Romance, Curl, Ink, PDA?
Just me?

kitshef 8:28 AM  

The phrasing for the reveal specifies that the answer, CHECKPOINTS, is a clue to the rebus, NOT the clue, Border Stops. CHECKPOINTS is most definitely acceptable for TSA - they even call their process CHECKPOINT security screening.

Puzzle was so-so. I liked SEAHARES and ARAWAK and LIGHTSABERS (where I wanted LIGHTSABreS and still think that oughta be correct). But the theme was pfft, and between that and SUDSES, ONEIS, TOTALER, AMEBA, EVADER, DIRER the experience was disappointing.

Len Van Vliet 8:30 AM  

Mort always carried a folded newspaper.

Lobster11 8:34 AM  

I'm mostly with OFL today: I enjoyed it a lot -- especially the clever cluing -- but had a few minor gripes. Technically not a DNF because I correctly guessed the crosses at TRENTE/TESSAS and KETONE/ARAWAK, but as I always say, I don't like guessing.

Unlike OFL, I didn't mind EVADER so much, and I actually liked TOTALER because the clue was such a fiendish misdirect. The ones I didn't care for were DIRER, SUDSES, and AMEBA as spelled. I realize that this is widely accepted as an alternate spelling of "amoeba," but I'm pretty sure I have never seen that five-letter spelling anywhere but in crosswords.

Two sets of early, stupid errors really held me up for awhile: (1) I wrote in "It's Amore," sans rebus, before I sussed out the theme, which not only screwed up half of the crosses but interfered with my ability to get the rebus theme. (2) I confidently wrote in "Scallops" (off the initial S) for the WOE SEAHARES, which then gave me the crossing "RCA" (overlooked the plural) for GES, which in turn gave me the crossing "ATL" (having misread the clue as "N.L. East...") for STL. Man, there's just nothing like an error crossing an error crossing an error to get yourself tied up in knots!

Wm. C. 8:42 AM  

@Professor Barany 12:31am -- (and similar sentiment to several other chemistry buffs following)

Your last paragraph was way too late -- the pedantics were way-TMI. Who cares if there was a bit of an error in the reference to ketone?

I know little of chemistry beyond my required freshman college requirement (barely got a C), but vaguely knew that camphor and fructose were types of compounds (the word "aromatic" now comes to mind), and similarly associated "KETONE" with some kind of chemical compound class, so I got it off the "KE" start. I suspect that 90%+ of solvers had some similar experience with this. Again, who cares?

Am I being ignorant or apathetic about this Shortz faux-pas? I don't know, and I don't care. :-).

Carola 8:50 AM  

Hmmm, tough-ish for me, even though I got the rebus early on with THAT'S AMORE. For some reason, I found the cluing difficult today.
Really liked how the TSAs formed the seam between two words - nice! Also liked how CONTRITE and ATTITUDE were at cross-purposes.

chefbea 8:51 AM  

Fun puzzle!! Got the TSA right away but there was a lot I didn't know Thought Arawak would be WOD.
Would put some dough in the oven but it's too hot here...could probably put the dough outside and it would bake. Thanks Andrea for a fun puzzle....oh, of course knew STL

jberg 9:05 AM  

OK, folks, settle down here -- "Border stops" is not a clue for TSA, it is a clue for CHECKPOINTS, and is perfectly fine for that. Checkpoints, in turn, is "a hint" to TSA, and is also fine as such. It's a strength, not a weakness, that the revealer is clued as something other than the rebus.

I didn't much like DIRER, and I continue to object to the idea that quantum mechanics focuses on the ATOM (photon would be more like it, though electron would be OK), but I loved the theme, and at the moment I have a very warm spot for the AAA, which gave me a lift indeed this Tuesday. I was driving my car to the dealership to fix a dodgy clutch (look up what that is, young'uns) when the car stalled with the battery somehow dead just at the top of the exit ramp from the Mass. Turnpike. You can guess who I called! After a somewhat protracted discussion of whether my car was still on the Turnpike, in which case they couldn't touch it, they dispatched a friendly, helpful guy with a tow truck who got me to the garage comfortably and efficiently, turning what could have been a nightmare into a mere speed bump (sorry about that mixed metaphor). So I just had to love this puzzle.


Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Can someone explain to me how "Totaler" is the answer for the clue "Summer?" I know that Rex complained about it but I just don't get it at all. What am I missing?

SandySolver 9:07 AM  

_Romola_ is a fat George Eliot novel, much beloved by approximately 5 living readers.

puzzlecrone 9:14 AM  

Romola is an historical novel by George Eliot set in Renaissance Florence. Tessa is a minor character ill-used by Romola's husband. Agood read for those who love the Renaissance, Firenze, or both.

NCA President 9:18 AM  

I'm with @Gabe Tuerk: SUDSES? This is a word no one has ever used. ATNINE is a lot like the puzzle this past week that just added an A before a word. NINEam, is better., no.

@Anon 5:23am...Thanks to that puzzle this week that had ELYSE in it, I was able to get that pesky Y in her name.

As @George B predicted, I got KETONE from the crossings.

Can we come to an agreement on the spelling of AMEBA? Amoeba?

IDI Amin should just be pre-filled in to every puzzle that contains it. IIRC, the guy was a brutal tyrant. Why does he stick around?

I agree with Rex about TOTALER and EVADER...verbs to nouns by adding -ER. I would also add DIRER to that list. For the life of me, I can't figure out why some comparatives are okay and others aren't. DIRER is okay, curiouser is not. Or worser. Or funner. Or anything else that you want to call better than something else but not quite the best.

I do xword puzzles for many reasons, and one of them is that you get to see the language up close and personal. Curiouser, indeed.

Teedmn 9:23 AM  

I had the MORE of 17A and the LI of 21A. Figuring we were looking for a rebus but not where THAT'S AMORE and LIGHT SABERS would be scrunched, I held off putting anything in. I got 34A and went back to THAT'S AMORE. "Hey, they are looking for things that can be checked. HATs can be checked..." So now I had _ _ hat _ _ A for 2D and _ _ A _ _ for 4D. I refused to believe 4D would be aSail for "Go to sea" and with good reason. When I came across TSA in LIGHT SABERS, this did not make me rethink HAT as a rebus. It wasn't until I saw the next TSA in the SW that I moved my rebus spot in 17A and could finally see KAHUNA and SET SAIL.

ARAWAK was new to me. I liked the clue "Warheads?" for GENERALS and "Headlock?" for CURL. And it took me about the same amount of time as Wednesday's puzzle (and about 1/3 the time it took me to do yesterday's AVCX!)

Congratulations, Joel Elkins, on your debut, and Acme, it's good to see your name again, on a Thursday no less!

AskGina 9:36 AM  

Why is to totaler an answer for summer?

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Loren Muse Smith - Get a front load washer which is all you can get here in Europe. Then you will not have an issue with some of the clothes not getting wet.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:54 AM  

Line in the sand is SOS? seems like at least three lines, or less than one.

Why does a PDA make people go ick?

Rex wondered what Romola was; it's a historical novel by George Eliot, set in Florence at the time of Savanarola. Way more familiar to me than rap stars of sitcom stars, in general. But it wasn't on the reading lists in high school, it was for the people who were force-fed Silas Marner and Middlemarch and said, 'Oh Boy, I want to read more of that.' The kind of people who grow up to want seven-day delivery on the Times.

Bill Foy 9:56 AM  

A checkpoint isn't limited to a border. As Merriam Webster defines it, it is "a place where people, cars, etc., are searched by someone (such as a police officer) before being allowed to continue"

GILL I. 10:04 AM  

@George B: Godnose! I'm glad you post early so that I can chuckle away the morning.
Loved this very fun and lighthearted puzzle. You can see the playfulness coming from @Andrea, especially with an answer like WARTS AND ALL. On the other hand, Joel Elkins might have been the impetus behind the likes. No matter, it's a great debut.
THATS AMORE got me started and YOU DONT SAY was the last to fall. I didn't want it to end.
Kudos Joel and Andrea. Bestest, funest Thursday puzzle in a while....

Horace S. Patoot 10:07 AM  

Did I miss something with SOS? Are we supposed to imagine some marooned unfortunate who scrawls SOS onto a beach, praying for rescue, as the wind and tides destroy his work?

Roo Monster 10:14 AM  

Hey All !
Was going along swimmingly til the ole brain decided to stop working in the NW. 1,2,3D just weren't appearing. Throw in the oddish AUDIO clue, and the dubber clue, which I was thinking would be music related and couldn't get off that thought, and I died up there. 1A, WOE, 25A, bad clue for me. So a big cluster. Finally pulled it all together up there, but still had a DNF with ARAWAK. Ouch. Had to Reveal Word on that one. :-( Also don't think SUDSES is a word. I got SUDSES all over the place when I put too much detergent in the washer. No. Not a good clue for NODDED either. Bobbleheads Bobble, not NOD. Another misdirect at Summer clue. Couldn't get off hOTsomething.

Did like the rebus and themers. Just a few self-inflicted wonkies that slowed me down. Need to FOMENT my brain cells...


E.J. Copperman 10:15 AM  

So I'm the only person on the planet who doesn't know ARAWAK?

Tita A 10:17 AM  

An airport is considered a border, in that it is the entry/exit point for international travel.

@r.alph...great comment about reaction to seeing TSA.

A DNF...could be RON or dON, and thought a native of anyplace would most likely end with -an.

Loved clue for CURL.
Fair warning...if you meet my mother, she will casually ask you to explain what CURLers are.'s a trap. If you use your hands to assist with the description, you fail the test.
One should not speak with one's hands!

Thanks ACME and Mr. Elkins. I love me a good rebus, and as a frequent traveler, the idea was cute.
And thanks @lms for pointing out that those TSA agents are working the borders of the words!

Hmmm...Andrea...I might have an idea for a theme... I'll email you!

Goober Pyle 10:22 AM  

My second cousin is named TESSA.

AskGina 10:54 AM  

Oh wait. Summer popped it my head during the commute. As in, "Jimmy, run fast and get me a summer!" "Sure thing Miss Lane! Wait, you mean a calculator?"

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

@GEORGEB. Spot on on fructose. Love GODNOSE.

cwf 11:27 AM  

"Look, daddy! I'm a Butthole Surfer!"
-Todd Flanders

Joseph Michael 11:30 AM  

Got the TSA theme immediately so this seemed quite easy for a Thursday. Except for the SE corner where my EDENA and my OWEN yielded "How can... I DO SO?"

Nice to see Acme's work again and congrats to Joel on his debut. Fun puzzle

Charles Flaster 11:30 AM  

Great debut for JE. Rebus pretty straightforward.
Liked cluing for GENERALS.
Writeover--AUDIO for radio.
Thanks JE and ACM.

Z 11:41 AM  

@AskGina - Way to put Two plus Two together you summer, you.

@Dolgo - I think you're overthinking it. Four squares in the puzzle are TSA. TSA runs CHECKPOINTS (hint, hint). That's it.

@jberg & @kitshef - "It's a strength, not a weakness, that the revealer is clued as something other than the rebus." Hear! Hear!. I agree 100% Those of you confused by the clue not referencing the rebus, that confusion is what turns the "puzzle" of the rebus up a notch.

@Conrad - U.S. Customs and Border Protection mans the crossings here in Detroit. I haven't flown internationally since 9/11/01, but I believe you have to clear both TSA and Customs at the airport.

@Greater Fall River - PDA is an initialism for Public Displays of Affection, a common cause of concern in the hormonally rich environments of Middle and High Schools.

@Horace S Patoot - Yes.

@Roo - SUDSES as a verb form?

@Tita A - I had a friend in college who literally could not speak if you held his hands. I see him on local TV now and he is able to speak without hand gestures.

Masked and Anonymous 11:59 AM  

har. T-ESS-A'S.

Gotta luv a good ol-fashioned ThursPuz rebus. Thanx, Mr. Elkins & Ms. Acme.

Got 4 U's. check.
Cute clues. check.
Smoothish fillins off a 74-worder. check.
Lotsa weejects. check. fave: SOS -- @indie009/WHA had an SOS-themed NYTPuz, once, long ago, back before light sabers.
Lotsa wiggly, snaking black squares. check.
Lotsa long answer corner stacks. check.
Assymetric rebus squares. check. (More fun to uncover)
TESSAS. ch-har-k.
Passes all my check-points. rebusthUmbsUp.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

William Palmer 12:02 PM  

I fly all the time. The less I hear about the TSA the better.

Numinous 12:31 PM  

I had guessed THA[TSA]MORE well before I filled it in. When I got to LIGH[TSA]BERS I knew there was a rebus but was hesitant to guess where. I'd also thought TEN[TSA]LE but it wouldn't fit so I moved along on my first pass. Once I got back around to CHECKPOINTS, I got it. A certifiable "Oh, okay," moment. Somehow I knew that Miley had said pink was an ATTITUDE but I've no idea why since I don't like her at all. I was thinking the [TSA] was going to be on that line but I couldn't figure out how. Good thing it was elsewhere, I enjoyed this puzzle, WAR[TSA]NDALL and was pleased to see ACME's name on it. Now, why do I know the name Joel Elkins?

CHECKPOINT reminded me of one I'll never forget. When I was nineteen I was travelling around Europe with my grandfather. When we got to Berlin, we decided to split up for a while; he went on to Dresden to meet a chick while I went back to Zurich. We spent a day in some government office in East Berlin getting permission for me to leave East Germany by a route different from where I'd entered. That was bad enough. It got worse. That night, at the second stop an East German railroad guard entered the compartment I was in. She told the woman I was riding with that she had to take her daughter to a car that was reserved for mothers and their children. Then she took my passport. That left me alone with nothing to do but stare out the window and worry about ever seeing my ID again. Outside the train there was an East German guard strolling back and forth along the length of the carriage. He looked to be about my age. When he looked up and saw me watching him, he slid the machine gun strapped to his shoulder down and into a "ready" position. That kinda freaked me out and I studiously avoided looking out the window for the remaining half hour or so the train sat in that station. Eventually I got my passport back only to surrender it again to a West German railroad guard. He just looked at it and gave it back. I can't tell you how relieved I was to get to Switzerland.

I love that puzzles can be so evocative.

Tom 1:11 PM  

Under more DIRE circumstances (definitely not DIRER!) I might say SUDSES if I couldn't think of a better entry. Would you ever say "I always SUDSES up before I rinses off."? Maybe Gollum would...Even my spell check says it's wrong, wrong, wrong.

Constructors don't qualify for poetic license, unless of course e e cummings or William Carlos Williams decided to posthumously submit.

Molson 1:17 PM  

I wanted 53D: "How can ___?", when I had just I_O__ to be How can I GO ON?

Jennifer H 1:55 PM  

For the several folks confused about 39D:

"Summer" here is not cluing the season. It's meant to be read as "One who does sums (addition)". Which is someone who totals things up, aka a TOTALER.

I really enjoyed this puzzle: the vocabulary, the clues, the rebus, and the overall construction. Lovely! I'm even willing to give them TOTALER because of the clever cluing. (SUDSES was definitely DIRER, though.)

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

PDA = public display of affection in this case. My first experience of this term was in the military where it can get you written up.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

TOTALER = one who creates totals or SUMs, thus a SUMMER. I know, ugh.

Wm. C. 2:48 PM  

TSA is for airports, and maybe seaports.

Land borders with Mexico (and to the extent that they care) Canada are covered by the Us Border Patrol.

The US border with Canada, some 4,000 miles at the Lowe 48, plus another some 1500 with Alaska, is the most lightly patrolled international border in the world (the EU is a separate situation, of course).

Mexico, however, is heavily patrolled, not only for illegal Mexicans, but also transmitting Central and South Americans.

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

I really laughed when I thought 11 D: Warheads? was latrines, not generals.

old timer 4:11 PM  

My earlier comment did not post, though I suppose it may. I liked the puzzle and it was fun looking for the TSA squares.

I have no problem with SUDSES. SUDS is a word I've seen as a verb before, meaning to lather up.

My explanation for why a TSA airport checkpoint is a border stop is that the checkpoint is the very important border between airside and landside at any modern airport. Landside, you don't need to be screened and can even visit a restaurant if you want. And supplies don't need to be screened either. Airside, everything must be screened and everybody must have proper credentials to work airside or deliver anything there.

Hungry Mother 4:26 PM  

Should have been easy for me, but somehow I wanted MORTSAUL, even though I knew much better. Too much "Breaking Bad" and spinoff maybe? No problem after I came to my senses.

Hartley70 4:59 PM  

@r.alphbunker, you are cracking me up. Yesterday's post ended with a "bang", and you've got your sass on today too. Good to see you back.

A rebus is a rebus is a rebus and nothing can compare on a Thursday. TSA is perhaps on the easy side, but still most enjoyable. I have come to anticipate an ACME puzzle with joy because they seem fresh faced, clean cut and just All American fun. Congrats to Joel for his debut collaboration. You work well together.

@Tita, does your mother know she's become a star in this world? You could sell tickets for a public public appearance, with a sampling of her baked goods of course!

@EJCopperman, possibly, but you're excused if you are writing from Bhutan.

@GreaterFallRiver, snogging on a crowded subway is gross, unless the couple happen to be famous movie stars and you've got your camera.

@Pete, you really improved the clue with "boarder control". IDI should have been clued as just "Forrest Whittaker role" to make it a little tougher. I hope WS is paying attention.

Carola 5:40 PM  

@puzzlecrone, I love both the Renaissance and Firenze, but it was your "ill-used" that makes me want to pick up Romola and give it another go.

Sheryl 6:04 PM  

The southwest was the slowest part for me. I'd never heard of REYES and I didn't understand the "Summer" clue until I read Rex's write-up. So the R where they crossed was a guess.

Anonymous 6:05 PM  

You actually don't have to prove motive at a murder trial....

eveostay 6:05 PM  

I had just Lena's tweet about "e-bikes" so when I finished today's puzzle, I immediately thought that 3 down was "e-vader". Perhaps this is what you watch when you stream Star Wars online?

Sheryl 6:16 PM  

Someone who sums is a "summer" or totaler.

GILL I. 6:33 PM  

@Wm.C. - I rarely jump in with any kind of PC protocol, but here I go.
Mexicans, and for that matter, Central or South American or anybody, are not illegal. People are not illegal. They may enter illegally but they ARE NOT ILLEGAL. Change it, if you may, to undocumented alien.
Remember....words matter here.

Stuart 8:00 PM  

Surely it matters that "ONEIS the loneliest number" is not a Three Dog Night lyric but was written by the Beatles' favorite American tunesmith, Harry Nilsson? Doesn't lyric imply they wrote it? Maybe could have used hit...

Nancy 8:26 PM  

@Loren (4:19 a.m.) -- I cracked up at your CONTRITE dogs video link. So adorable.

Anonymous 11:42 PM  

Gill I. 6:33 I do not understand why "undocumented" had to be introduced to the vocabulary when we already had "without papers" from decades earlier. Does it have something to do with the term being associated with a particular immigrant group and considered a slur? If that is the case then "undocumented' could be taken as a slur as well.

Ellen S 10:42 AM  

@Gill, thanks for the catch on "illegal". Anonymous 11:42, you're just being picky. I don't think "without-papered immigrants" would be objectionable, just clumsy. Papers=documents, it's the same thing. You could also say, "In-this-country-illegally people". Or, hey, I have an idea: refugees. That's what they are, from death squads or poverty or both. Very few people endure all the risks and dangers to travel to a strange land where they don't know the language or customs, unless they are desperate. And all too often that desperation is caused by the policies of the very country they are fleeing to. It doesn't speak well of us that we treat those immigrants as if they were, indeed, illegal.

@ACME, good to see you in print again. Fun Thursday!

the redanman 11:22 AM  

Very poor quality clue to the rebus square, just awful. I kept trying to use the word check in the black squares at the borders, so much time wasted. And the NYT is purportedly so literate. Bah.

Burma Shave 11:10 AM  


YOUDONTSAY it’s alright to LOOK and CHECKPOINTS on that girl??


spacecraft 11:49 AM  

Not a word about ARAWAK--or SUDSES??? By the time I got to the SE, I was thinking "How can IGOON?" which is what I tried for 53-down. Two huge problems in an otherwise nice grid. I liked the cluing that calls to mind the scene on the ice planet Hoth when Luke was about to become monster food: "USE the force, Luke!" And so he did, retrieving his LIGHTSABER just in time.

I have a CHECKPOINT story, but it's way too long to go into here. Suffice to say, I could have been spirited away as a spy to the salt mines, but I was saved from my own stupidity. I'm just glad the Iron Curtain is gone.

Back to the puzzle, I finished with a guess for square 60; KETONE winning me over. (Hmm, why is KETONE red-lined?) This would have been a birdie but for those two "ick" inducers. Par.

BTW, Olympic golf tees off today; good luck Ricky and Matt!

RONdo 12:01 PM  

One eeler to another: “That’s a moray.”

My ATTITUDE must be changing. For a rebus puz, this wasn’t half bad. And I’ve gotta appreciate any puz with RON in it, no? Last week I wanted to spell ELYSE with an I; not falling for that again. And ERENOW I don’t think wild child yeah baby Miley Cyrus has been USEd as a quote source.

Didn’t Darth E.VADER play around with LIGHTSABERS? ILOSE track. Gotta admit the Star Wars stuff is known to me mostly from xwords. Never paid much attention to it, except Princess Leia.

@George B must be the leader of the KETONE Kops. A real KAHUNA, methinks.

Nary a w/o, so no INKfest. A little heavy on three letter answers, 19 if I’m a good TOTALER, and IFTHAT matters. Nice to see the @ACME handle on a Thurs-puz.

rain forest 2:25 PM  

I've heard SUDSES used as a verb in commercials, but I'd never do that. "This detergent SUDSES better than that one." And anyway, suds are useless (unless you are talking beer). It's the stuff in solution that cleans your clothes, teeth, skin. The suds are merely window dressing.

Speaking chemically, ahem, calling camphor or fructose a KETONE, simply because it has a carbonyl function (-C=O) is like calling glucose an alcohol. I don't really care, honest, but if you are going to use a chemical clue, at least use it correctly.

A pretty enjoyable puzzle (nice to see ACME again) and pretty easy except for a bit of stupidity on my part with THAT'S AMORE, where I had the ORE in place and added THAT to the beginning and didn't notice that I hadn't filled in the entire answer. Till much later. Once I did, the rest was straightforward, and fun to do. I continue to pause when I have to use American spelling, as in --SABERS, where --SABRES is preferred.

I think we may all have a TSA story, but suffice it to say that these people are the rudest and most humourless examples of humanity. Whether they are effective is moot.

Good Thursday

Sailor 2:59 PM  

@Z: Loved your suggested clue for KETONE: "Some vaguely sciencey word you will recognize, sort of, when you get all the crosses." LOL! So true, and it seems most everyone DID get it, in spite of the complaints. So OK, then.

I thought this puzzle was entertaining, and (mostly) surprisingly easy for a Thursday, in spite of my FIW in the SE. ELENA and EWEN were complete unknowns, so I did NOT get all the crosses to suss out 53D, which could have been any of several things. I went for I DO SO and obviously guessed wrong.

leftcoastTAM 3:37 PM  

Got the TSA rebus early, and it helped but not enough, especially in the NE and SW corners.

Did finally sort out the TRENTE/SEAHARES/TESSAS/AAA crosses in the NE though.

The SW, not so good. ARAWAK/KETONE cross was the problem, and not just the K's. Wild guesses of ARApAn/nETONE was an injury, and pARTS instead of WARTS added insult, self-inflicted.

I like rebuses, and this was a good one.

leftcoastTAM 3:50 PM  

@rondo: Thanks for your response yesterday, a good one. @Lady Di, appreciate your mulling the thoughts. Will add responsiveness of fellow solvers to my list of x-word "worthwhiles."

Diana,LIW 3:52 PM  

Danced all around the grid, and soon had enuf mid stuff to get CHECKPOINTS. Then, THAT'SAMORE gave the TSAs away. Finished the top half off all by myself, but succumbed to looking up ARAWAK, ELENA, and EWEN. Haven't read all the comments yet, but it sounds like they were woes to lotsa folks.

Got KETONE from a dark brain recess. High school chemistry was an awful experience. The teacher did not like 16-year-old people, and she left after that (her first) year. All I remember is "always add acid." Fortunately I sat next to a genius, Harris B., who had the periodic table memorized and could turn what she said into English.

But hey - I got a rebus? And filled them in all by myself! I think I'll advance myself to puzzle 5th grade. Wow - the other kids look bigger here.

From yesterday:

@Lefty - the more we know, the more we can know. Our memory banks just grow and grow. (Used to teach this stuff.) That's one of the reasons X-words are great - you add file drawers to your memory cabinet. Like I know little of chemistry, but have learned a bit from GeorgeB and the like.

@Rondo - speaking of memory, "it's all about the story." When you attach a story (or strike a remembered story) to an idea, you will remember it. (See Joshua Foer's TED talk on memory.)

And thanks for the shoutout - @Teedmn, that goes for you too!

Enjoy Lollapuzzula, @T! Anyone else going?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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