Poor woodcutter of folklore / THU 7-5-18 / Gene mutation results / Iceberg's cousin / Hells Canyon locale / She went through huge breakup in 1984 / Successor to Cutlass / de combat out of action due to injury / Heroine of Tennessee Williiams summer smoke

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Constructor: Randolph Ross

Relative difficulty: Medium to Medium-Challenging (6:42)


THEME: "Undercover" orgs. — rebus with FBI, NSA, DEA, and CIA lurking in their own squares. Then there's a revealer, the puzzle-relevance of which I don't get at all: 40D: What the four undercover orgs. in this puzzle might do (WIRETAP)

Theme answers:
  • GARDENSALE / BEANSALAD
  • BAYOFBISCAY / DATEOFBIRTH
  • ENUNCIATION / MARCIACLARK
  • MADEASCENE / ARTDEALER
Word of the Day: TERESA Weatherspoon (60A: Weatherspoon of the W.N.B.A.) —
Teresa Gaye Weatherspoon (born December 8, 1965) is a retired American basketball player who played for the New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the former head basketball coach of the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the Top 15 players in WNBA history. In 2016, Weatherspoon was chosen to the WNBA Top 20@20, a list of the league's best 20 players ever in celebration of the WNBA's twentieth anniversary. (wikipedia)
• • •

I've seen this "undercover orgs." rebus sommmmmewhere before, I'm pretty sure, but that's not my problem with this puzzle. My problem is, the revealer makes no sense. None. I guess these "orgs." might issue WIRETAPs, but there is nothing puzzle-relevant about that revealer. If the revealer is just "something all these orgs. might do," then tons of revealers might've worked. When I finished, I went back and looked for how WIRETAP might describe some kind of wordplay, something actually happening in the grid. Checked the crosses, checked the surrounding material, chewed on it all for a bit, and ... nothing. This is bad puzzle-making. Better to punt and have your revealer be something dumb like UNDERCOVER than to try to get cute with an answer that suggests there might be wordplay but that ultimately doesn't deliver. This failure to deliver an aha punch was made more painful by the awkward, semi-ridiculous placement of the revealer. If you're gonna put your revealer *there*, it better be good. That is not a natural revealer site, so ... if you don't bring some aha ... thud.


I didn't really get that there were "undercover orgs." involved, or that the gimmick was even a rebus, until I was done. Got GARDNLE and BEANLAD (!) and just thought the "SA" was missing. And then the "BI" was missing. I wasn't stopping / slowing to think about it all. Got nowhere in the NW at first (despite the ANG gimme), and finally got started in the N with RIOT DRAB BELGIAN. Then ABEE and AMORE got me into the NE, where I finally hit what turned out to be the first rebus square. Once I got the whole rebus thing (which, for me, was a "missing letters" thing (??)), the rest wasn't too hard. I could sort of tell where they were pretty easily. I only just now noticed that the rebus squares are symmetrical. Not a required feature of rebuses, and certainly not one you can usually rely on. Seems kind of an insult to the "undercover orgs." involved to have your rebus squares form a discernible pattern. The orgs. should be unpredictably placed if they're truly "undercover."


Bullets:
  • 18A: Stooge (TOOL) — I had FOOL, and canNot be the only one...
  • 12D: "It doesn't hurt that bad" ("I'LL LIVE") — Had the "I'LL," wrote in "I'LL BE OK"
  • 13D: Gene mutation results (ALLELES) — learned this word from crosswords, and now it's a word my friend Lena and I use facetiously all the time when discussing crosswords, though I couldn't recreate the context for you if I tried (also, unlike me, she knows the meaning of ALLELES, as she is a scientist-type)
  • 25D: Tart (ACID) — Back when I thought there were just missing letters, I seriously thought this answer would be ACERBIC, but with ... just some of the letters missing (!?). Honestly, I don't know how I finished this thing as fast as I did while also being as clueless as I was.
  • 57A: Derisive (SNEERY) / 47D: Some cuts, later (SCARS) — Had the "SN-" and went SNOBBY / SCABS. SNEERY is barely a word.
  • 3D: Pleasant glance (GLADEYE) — what the hell is this? I've heard of gladhanding, but not GLADEYEing.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. RANDD = R and D, i.e. Research & Development (9D: Big Pharma expense)

P.P.S. here's a very, very generous interpretation of the WIRETAP revealer:


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

121 comments:

CDilly52 12:44 AM  

I actually think the constructor is using (or really misusing) law enforcement jargon. A law enforcement agency or agents talking about wiretaps which are themselves actually court orders authorizing wire surveillance, would in fact use or “do” wiretaps as authorized to collect information. One might even talk about how many WIRETAPS the agency was employing or had employed during the year. More often, though, we simply call them wires. “We are up on theee wires, right now and should be ready to arrest in another few days.” I am not familiar with this constructor so he may have some connection to law enforcement or might just watch a lot of television. Good puzzle, though - just my opinion.

Larry Gilstrap 12:53 AM  

The revealer suggests that the big four of undercover orgs. WIRETAP folks. That seems pretty specific to intelligence gathering, to me. Sure, they have Xmas parties and company picnics, but spying on hopefully bad people must be sleuthy. And the rebus squares are indeed nicely symmetrical, as someone blabbed on Twitter. So that helped me through this tricky solve.

I broke through at the MARCIA CLARK/ENUNCIATION cross. I expect the missing letters to work both directions, which is not always the case. Then I had to try and come up with the other acronyms, which seems easy in retrospect, but not mid-solve.

Wee wee gave me SMA' at first, Robt. Burns fan here, but we went more urban with the correct LIL. Crafty, well done puzzle in my humble estimation.

We completed building a house six years ago, now. A project way out of my comfort zone. I did nothing except pick up nails, soda cans, and cigarette butts, oh, and write checks and sign papers. We came in one month ahead of schedule and under BUDGET. I received the balance from fund control: a check for $.56. Still hangs on the wall.

Trombone Tom 1:10 AM  

Got the theme pretty quickly at GARDE(NSA)LE.

Delayed by my reluctance to accept SNEERY. Is that the latest Disney dwarf?

Nice to have some rebuses to contend with on Thursday. MARCIA CLARK . . . how quickly we forget.

jae 1:50 AM  

On the tough side for me too mostly because I spelled MARCIA wrong (MARSHA) and it took a while to fix...too many bibidos at the picnic.

A fun rebus, liked it.

Harryp 2:14 AM  

I first saw the rebus clearly at the marCIA clark/enunCIAtion cross, but my biggest hang-up was the 21Down GlO, instead of GRO. That kept the Northwest corner in flux for quite a while. Liked MA BELL, R AND D, SKORT, and a bunch of others here. Fun Puzzle.

chefwen 2:39 AM  

Caught on fairly early with the clue for 40D, undercover orgs. Then MARciaCLARK and ENUNciaTION showed up, MAdeaSCENE and ARTdeaLER were pretty easy also, the other two made me work for them. UNREADY and SNEERY made me cringe a bit, but I liked this one.

Frank Birthdaycake 2:49 AM  

I figured it was “beansalad” because there’s no such thing as bean slaw (although that didn’t know glad eye was a bing until today). I figured out NSA and the rest when I got to the wiretap clue. The puzzle went fairly quickly after that.

Anonymous 3:03 AM  

Rex is way to SNEERY toward this puzzle. It's a fine effort. It's clear there's something going on when some of the obvious answers won't fit, e.g. MARCIA CLARK, and to simply assume "oh, it's missing letters," is just a poor assumption. That's on Rex, not the puzzle. The revealer immediately made it clear that one was looking for "organizations," and that then made it fun to hunt the rebus squares and to think of all the undercover agencies that might fit. Kudos to Mr. Ross.

Lewis 6:27 AM  

Randolph explains "WIRETAP" in his notes on WordPlay and XwordInfo -- relating it to when Trump thought Obama was wiretapping him.

@rex -- That the rebi were symmetrical didn't help your solve, nor, I'm guessing, did it help the solve of more than a few, so your objection there didn't land with me.

This was a grand old entertaining puzzler for me with enough I didn't know plus smile-engendering tricky cluing (i.e. BUDGET, LIL, REIN, TOE, AMEN) to forcibly shift my brain into its highest-competency mode, which is utopia for me when I solve. I love that the rebi are not only in symmetrical answers but are symmetrical themselves. And I'LL LIVE is such a lovely answer -- I'm surprised it's a debut.I ended the solve thinking yes! Great experience! Truly, when the puzzle rings my chimes like this one did (thank you, Randolph!), one SNEERY doth not a puzzle spoil.

The cross of CAVE and I'LL LIVE made me immediately think of those boys trapped underground in Thailand, the thrill of learning that they were alive down there, mixed with heartfelt sympathy and concern for what they've been through, and that finding a way out for them is seeming so elusive. They are in the back of my mind, with prayers and wishes...

BarbieBarbie 6:37 AM  

Well, I *did* think the rebus placement showed how you would TAP the black-square WIREs. But I still hated the revealer, because the reveal was in the clue (organizations) and the answer was just a gimmick referring to the placement. I get mad when the editor shouts the answer into my ear, especially this late in the week. Big edit Fail, Mr. Shortz. Other than that I liked the puzzle a lot.

DeeJay 6:57 AM  

A fine puzzle with a literal reveal.

Hungry Mother 6:59 AM  

Love the rebus. I got the theme early on and then smooth sailing. Still suffering from jet lag here after our European vacation.

FLAC 7:24 AM  

I’m with @Lewis: all-round excellent puzzle. Review more “Rex Carper” than “Rex Parker.”

Eugene Trainin 7:37 AM  

You all missed one wrong clue. The word allele has nothing to do with mutations per se. It is simply a normal locus on a chromosome which might get mutated or not. There are always two corresponding alleles,one of maternal descent, the other paternal.

kitshef 7:37 AM  

Love rebuses, so big thumb up. Sure, SNEERY GLADEYE UNREADY are all pretty bad, but the theme was more than worth it.

Also found this quite a bit tougher to get into than a lot of recent Thursdays, which was appreciated. Oddly, it was MARCIA CLARK that finally got me going.

I say ‘oddly’ because I could not pick MARCIA CLARK out of a lineup, could not tell you any attribute about her – height, race, hair color, etc. – did not know she was a lawyer and certainly did not know her role in the OJ case. But I must have heard her name often enough that having read the revealer clue by that point and with a few letters in place, it came to me.

That made me think that there must be a subset of people in the world whose names have permeated my brain, but nothing else about them has.

'merican in Paris 7:38 AM  

I liked this puzzle -- not DRAB at all -- though DNF (had to Google ANG, the "ALE" part of ALERO, and Hell's Canyon, which stradles both ORE and IDA). Thought of @chefwen, who likes her rebuses (rebi?).

I was of course on the lookout for a rebus, and espied my first one at DATE OF BIRTH. It helped that I knew the name of the body of water into which the Loire empties. ENUNCIATION fell pretty quickly, but took me a long time to get the one for NSA. Had BEAN dip for the longest time.

Loved @Rex's observation that the symmetry of the rebuses seemed, for a change, unbecoming of undercover organisation. AMEN to that!

Interesting right-hand column, with DNA TEST following ALLELES. My brother did a 23 and me test last year which showed that he's ranks among the top 2% of the population in terms of percentage of Neanderthal genes. I assume I'm roughly in that category, too. Pretty cool, eh?

WMD. Yikes, that is a term that leaves such a bad taste in the mouth. Would the CIA have not been so eager to assert their existence in Iraq way back when.

I'm off to Saudi ARABIA for a conference at the end of the month. My first time there. And in the scorching heat. It will at least be an interesting experience.

Birchbark 7:39 AM  

What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
-- Wm. Blake

Near as I can tell from a few years of reading the reviews, you're damned if you're symmetrical and damned if you're not.

If anyone needs an extra "L", there are a bunch up in the northeast.

@Lewis (6:27), always nice to see "rebi." For some reason, it makes me want steak for breakfast.

Eric NC 7:39 AM  

@Lewis. Ditto on prayers and wishes for those poor kids.

Beaglelover 7:41 AM  

@rex, "gladeye" is what a girl would give a guy at a dance to let him know she thought he was cute and would dance with him if asked. It was skill I never did master but every time I came home from a dance my mother would ask me, "did you give any boy "The Gladeye?"

Eugene Trainin 7:41 AM  

There is one very incorrect clue which no one noticed. An allele is a normal locus on a chromosome which may get mutated but usually not. There are always two corresponding alleles, one of maternal origin, the other paternal.

Irene 7:56 AM  

Really, Rex, really? You just thought there were missing letters? As though a puzzle just has missing letters?
I thought it was smart and fun, with lots of interesting clueing.
Can't remember seeing UBER in a puzzle before, by the way.
A good Thursday workout for me.

Debra 7:57 AM  

Best puzzle in recent memory. No complaints.

cwf 8:04 AM  

@Eugene Trainin

"al·lele
/əˈlēl/
noun
One of two or more alternative forms of a gene that arise by mutation and are found at the same place on a chromosome."

QuasiMojo 8:13 AM  

I couldn't get Dean Martin singing "That's AMORE" out of my head while solving this DRAB Thursday outing. Anyone who loves opera will know that many arias are not about love or lovers but death, lost children, sorrow, pain, and suffering. I was at least expecting the name of an opera character such as NORMA.

Would anyone here like to be a monkey's uncle? ALBEIT.

Was hoping for O.S.S. in the rebus.

We had a CUTLASS when I was a kid. Never heard of an ALERO except endlessly in the NYT crossword.

I was absolutely sure it was MIRACLE-GLO. But I guess that's Mop N' Glo. Never needed either. Good old elbow grease and some spit usually fixes a dirty floor or a petulant plant.

Some of you have said MOIST is your least favorite word. I think SKORT is mine. Sounds vile.

Amazing how MARCIA CLARK just rolled into place even though I haven't thought of her in nearly a quarter century. At least it wasn't LESLIE ABRAMSON. She had quite A DO.

Only clue that I glad-eyed. BIG JERK for YANK.

John Child 8:16 AM  

I’m with @Lewis today - fine, fun Thursday rebus puzzle.
39-Down Æthelred the ___

michiganman 8:31 AM  

I'm beginning to understand animus towards OFL but still enjoy his analyses. I got the idea of rebus when trying to figure out how to make MARCIACLARK and ENUNCIATION fit. I looked for the revealer and learned that part of the rebus would not be seen-undercover. After that it was a very fun, satisfying solve. The full rebuses (rebi?) popped in after completion-not necessary but no harm except they were no longer undercover. Fun seeing SMEE again.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

The rescue efforts probably did more than prayers and wishes.

pabloinnh 8:42 AM  

Liked the theme and knew something was going on but all was unclear until I hit the revealer and then it was fun to come up with all those agencies. Also learned "gladeye" and will use it when my granddaughter accuses me of giving her the sideye. No, no, that was a gladeye, I can explain. We'll see if she buys that one.

@Birchbark-do you know the alternate opening to the Blake poem?

Tiger tiger burning bright
What has caused you to ignite?

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

It is never helpful if you are: 1. A rockhead and 2. A hater of rebuses. As I am both, I generally doom myself to a very slow or dnf solve because, even though, despite my irrational stubbornness, I sometimes, like today, get the rebus.

My whine about rebuses is that they generally end up with too many uninteresting and/or 'I never heard of that and don't care about it even as a tidbit of trivia'. Allelles was an example of this today and, when the scientifically knowledgeable check in and point out that it is not what the puzzle defined it as, well, then I don't feel quite as bad as I did.

We folks in the NE are suffering through the I-can't-remember-how-many-miserably-hot-days-in-a-row syndrome. You know when the feel temperature is in the 101-110 range and most radio and tv broadcasts tell you to drink fluids, don't exercise and don't go outside for any period of time unless you have to do so. Yeah, that is the fun period we are going through now.

At least it won't lead the very stable genius to Tweet about the weather like he did in the cold snap that we could use some of that climate change warmth.

BobL 9:01 AM  

Please explain the "low draw" answer for me. Thanks

RJ 9:04 AM  

@eugenetrainin I rarely am surprised at the misuse of science clues in crosswords. My husband and I have a combines 70 years experience in chemistry (analytical, organic, & polymers) and we often spend minutes coming up with the answer. Worst case for us - pipette clued as a "laboratory vessel"...said no chemist ever.

Anne Meilof 9:11 AM  

Wouldn't "ain't right" be AREN'T or ISN'T?

Roo Monster 9:18 AM  

Hey ALLLLL !
That was a tribute to the L filled NE. LOL. Three double L's, one triple L, and LIL.

Had bOOb for TOOL first. Like bOOb better. ;-) Threw in tycooN first run through for OILMAN. One other writeover, zoo-DEN.

So what you're saying, the Rebi are twixt and next to the blocks which are shaped like wires? OK. I'll buy that. I'll also give it the sideEYE, but not a NODULAR GLADEYE. :-)

So a rebus for those who were jonesin' for one. And different ones at that. Nothing SNEERY about that. Maybe not THE MOST bestest ever, but we get BUDGET BELGIAN HORS, so it can't be all bad. :-)

TOE YANK
RooMonster
DarrinV

Mohair Sam 9:20 AM  

Played very difficult for us and we liked it a lot. Looking at the grid after we finished I assumed the long wire strand was tapped at both ends and the two short wire strands were tapped in the middle - hence the dreaded symmetry. You know that if the rebi (thanks @Lewis) were scattered without symmetry Rex would have complained.

Spent a lot of time trying to guess MARCIACLARK's nickname hoping for MARu so it would fit my ElocuTION at 44A. Finally found the theme at MADEASCENE then MAR-CIA became obvious. Popped in "birthdate" at 4D and blAh for 4A (Humdrum) - that fit with ADO and the whole mess took forever to straighten out.

Excellent cluing with fun misdirects throughout, a quality puzz.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

I got a smile when I saw Marcia Clark's name in the grid. I also misspelled her name at first. Sadly, I spent too too many hours watching that silly trial way back when. OJ was paying some of his lawyers more than $400 per hour. It was just another example of how rich people can buy justice. At least the civil trial went against OJ and your sins do eventually find you out. How the mighty have fallen.

I enjoyed the puzzle. As mentioned above, Rex often whines about answers not being symmetrical. Then when they are, he still whines. Play a wedding song, he will not dance. Play a funeral song, he will not weep. Strange, it a normal Thursday rebus puzzle and he doesn't hit on that right away. Must be the heat wave.

In any case, Marcia Clark made it obvious to me we had a rebus going on. I just couldn't think of all the possible agencies that might be involved. So I was happy with the clue that told us what we were looking for and how many.

Z 9:30 AM  

Just not feeling it this morning, so I got the revealer before any of the rebus squares. My first take is that the various agencies would be “undercover,” so hidden in the black squares. As a result, when I got MA(DEA)SCENE it was with more disappointment than “aha.” It’s fine as rebus puzzles go, but hardly among the best. SNEERY, ALERO, ALLELE, GLADEYE - that’s some pretty serious gunk that precludes this puzzle from high praise.

I guess I’m also more cynical than most, but that the Fourth of July celebration ends with this ode to the police state we find ourselves in didn’t exactly sit right with me either. “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety,” and all that. Of course, I grew up reading lots of sci fi that explored the question of “who will guard us from the guardians?” - Phillip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, Robert Heinlein (read If This Goes On — if you want to feel a little unnerved, written in 1940). Personally, I would not have run this puzzle immediately after back to back Foirth puzzles. But I am a LIL cynical.

Jtull 9:32 AM  

Rebuses

Stanley Hudson 9:34 AM  

What @Lewis said.

“Honestly, I don't know how I finished this thing as fast as I did while also being as clueless as I was” should be in the Humble Brag Hall of Fame.

GILL I. 9:35 AM  

Loved this puzzle SNEERY and ALL. But....I did think the WIRETAP reveal needed a zing or two. It just sort of sits there being inconspicuous. I supposed it was meant to.
Neat seeing ALI BABA so close to ARABIA and evoking memories of The 1001 Nights. Discovering the rebus at BAY O [FBI] SCAY and thinking I had to find the FBI lurking every which way. Aha.... MAR [CIA} CLARK to the rescue. @ketshef...really? Were you living in some CAVE during the OJ trial of the century? Poor MARCIA was the butt of jokes especially when she dared to change her hair mid-trial. It was awful. She was called a bitch (and that's a mild one) and scorned by lawyers everywhere. I was glued to that trial. I was glued to the car chase. I was glued to the "If it do't fit, ya gotta acquit." When the verdict was rendered, I went to a bar with my husband and said "Let's move to England." After the trial she was ridiculed and never went back to her practice after the trial. I could never forget the look on her face. I even remember the mole on her cheek. Thankfully, she's doing well now; she would - she's very bright!
Strangely, my only real holdup was CARTA at 49A. I would never call a map CARTA - in my simple world, it's "MAPA." CARTA is correct but I'm sure what Latin country uses it that way, yet I think of letters or cards or even a menu before thinking map. No biggie...ILLLIVE
Why is it that I can't stand iceberg lettuce but like ROMAINE.... and those two are cousins?
Nice puzzle RR and I liked the way you clued BUDGET.

Andrew Heinegg 9:39 AM  

Low refers to the total scored in a game and draw refers to the game being tied. So, one all is a reference to a game where only two goals were scored and the game is tied.

Nancy 9:39 AM  

Where in heaven's name is the BAY OF SCAY?
What on earth is a GARDEN LE?
What's a BEAN LAD?
Why wouldn't MARCIA CLARK fit?

It was all quite puzzling until suddenly it wasn't.

ONE OF THE BEST REBUSES I'VE EVER DONE! In addition to the rebus answers, all the clues were tricky. And, of course, all the rebus answers were different. Absolutely adored this puzzle!

RavTom 9:43 AM  

A “draw” is a tie in scoring. “All” means apiece in scoring. So ONEALL is a 1-1 tie, which is a low (point total) draw.

Jim Lemire 9:49 AM  

I enjoyed this. Took me a while to tease out the rebuses (rebi?). I wanted DATE OF BIRTH, GARDEN SALE, and ENUNCIATION...but the just didn’t fit so I knew I was missing something. Pleasant surprise when I realized the crosses also needed something to and got FBI, NSA, and CIA quickly. DEA gave me some issue as it did not jump out to me as quite like the others...though, my mind had gone to code breaking as the theme and not undercover ops. In the end I thought this was fun. I didn’t notice the lack of cohesion with the revealer until reading it here.

Some gripes nonetheless:
1) UNREADY - is this even a word?
2) “Tart” seems to demand an adjective answer here, so ACIDic and not just ACID
3) SNEERY seems like a reach

I will add that, being one of those science types,I was happy to see ALLELE and that it was clued correctly. When I teach genetics, my oversimplification for alleles is “flavors of genes” and my analogy is ice cream. Just like we all know what ice cream is at it’s most basic, we also know that ice cream comes in many flavors, where the details vary. So too with genes. We all have genes for eye color, for example, that do the same basic thing in each of us. But we have different flavors (alleles) of these genes that are different in the details, which is why I may have light brown eyes, my daughter has deep, chocolate brown eyes, my son has grey-blue eyes and others have piercing blue or hazel or green.

Z 9:49 AM  

@Birchbark - regarding rebus symmetry, I think generally it’s a touch of elegance if the rebopodes are symmetrical. Here, however, Rex is saying that it would be more in keeping with the theme of secretive police work if there were no pattern to the rebus placement. I’m not fully convinced by this argument, but that there is no particular consistency in puzzles either way with rebus symmetry certainly lends it some credence. Asymmetry would at least have a reason here.

@Late yesterday posters - “Stout” was, indeed used correctly in the clue. Here is a succinct explanation of the two types of beer.

Fourth, not “Foirth.” What autocorrect chooses not to fix is always a mystery.

Jim Lemire 9:56 AM  

This isn’t quite right either. Any gene variation is an allele...so genetic mutations lead to new alleles. In fact all alleles are the result of mutations. Also, while we all carry two copies of each gene, we do not necessarily carry two different alleles of every gene - we might get the same variant from both parents. Also, just because we carry two copies of each gene does not mean there are necessarily only two alleles for each gene. Just like ice cream comes in 100s of flavors, some genes come in many different forms as well. This is one reason why we, and all living things really, are so diverse

Bruce R 9:56 AM  

Stink eye, evil eye, even the dreaded brown eye. But I learned a new one today with glad eye.

For the person that asked about ONEALL being the answer to Low draw, I think they mean something like a 1-1 tie in a soccer game.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Funny thing about marcia clark is the social commentary of it all. I was so busy with small kids in the 90s that i missed the whole thing, even though I am a lawyer and had just moved from California to the east coast. I suspect that even today i could be a juror in a retrial of that case since I know nothing about it. But I hear it was all encompassing for most of this country, but much like 9/11, it has quickly faded to essential irrelevance. I don't think OJ trial figures are fair game in crossword puzzles.

Also, too many proper names I've never heard of either, Ang, Teresa, Alma and Smee?

Bob Mills 10:03 AM  

I remembered "MarCIA Clark" and got "enunCIAtion," which made the theme clear. Don't agree with Rex about the revealer, which I thought made sense.

Nancy 10:10 AM  

Like @Z and @BarbieBarbie, I, too, was looking for the rebus letters in the black squares. Which made my solve more challenging.

Symmetry, schimmetry. I don't know to break this to y'all, but there are certain solvers on this blog who wouldn't notice grid symmetry if they tripped and fell over it. Well, at least there's one.

@GILL (9:35) -- I, too, was riveted by the OJ trial. Love your colorful (ahem) summation of it. But you have the quote wrong. I'm pretty sure it went:
If the glove won't fit
You must acquit.

Scans better that way.

God, I miss MA BELL. No dropped calls. A real person at the other end of the line you could always talk to.

Carola 10:18 AM  

A fun one. My way into the rebus was the BAY OF BISCAY, which I was just reading about last night in Liza Mundy's Code Girls as the site of U-boat infestation. I had to be reminded of let's see now MARtha Carter?
In my newspaper, I circled the rebus squares and envisioned them as bugs on the line, so WIRETAP worked fine for me.

I loved MADE A SCENE, which as a child I learned was about the worst thing you could do.
Also enjoyed being reminded of King Ethelred the Unready

@Beaglelover, thanks for explaining GLADEYE; that one was new to me.

the redanman 10:19 AM  

Was looking for KGB or GRU, not DEA in SW.

Silly me, too clever by half

Alysia 10:27 AM  

@Anne - Thank you! I came here looking for the answer to exactly that question.

If anyone (please!) could explain how “Ain’t right” is ARE instead of “aren’t” or “isn’t,” I sure would appreciate it.

H777 10:29 AM  

Rex - you need to find a way to be happy!

'merican in Paris 10:36 AM  

@Lewis & @Birchbark -- Rex's comment (and my endorsement of that comment) on the symmetry of the rebuses was supposed to be a bit of wry humor. If you are trying to work undercover -- i.e., hide -- then the last thing you want to do is appear in a symmetrical pattern that allows others to predict where you are.

Noam D. Elkiess 10:38 AM  

Nice rebus, but indeed a clunky revealer, and also a bit of a pity that both [FBI] phrases are of the form "A of B". Got the rebus from NSA, after having to write over "I'll be OK" for 12D:I'LL_LIVE (which looks like the center of a palindrome, e.g. "Kev, I'll live, 'K?"). Didn't fall for FOOL FWIW.

U[NDE]RCOVER

P.S. I see that "Big jerk" is a standard clue for 61A:YANK, though it might be read as a slur against Northerners . . .

mathgent 10:47 AM  

Always happy to do a rebus. This was a good one.

Liked "Wee wee?" for LIL. My mother used that expression in a different context when I was a little kid and we were leaving the house.

I had the same reaction as @Anne Meilof (9:11) upon having ARE for "Ain't right?" It's the opposite of "ain't," not the "right" way to say it.

We saw The Dinner DVD last night. It got justifiably terrible reviews but we had read the entertaining book. It made a miniscule 1.3 million in the theaters. But I would say that it is worth seeing for the superb performances by Richard Gere, Rebecca Hall, and especially Laura Linney.

Other oldtimers might remember Fractured French. It was a popular cartoon book from around the late forties maybe. It had a cute take on "hors de combat."

Suzie Q 10:51 AM  

Even though there is a dark feel to this with spying and all it was a rebus on a Thursday!
As a big fan of stink eye it's nice to know there is an opposite that I will somehow squeeze into a conversation soon.
Good fun today with some clever clues.

Laurence Katz 11:09 AM  

Rex, you're overthinking the theme. It made sense. It worked. It wasn't genius, but it was fine. Unlike "sneery," which is awful.
And you filled in words that had missing letters and didn't stop to think about them? Not credible.

bookmark 11:27 AM  

Marcia Clark is now a mystery writer, with two series so far.

John Hoffman 11:30 AM  

Decades later, $400/hour is on the low end.

jb129 11:34 AM  

Great puzzle :)

John Hoffman 11:36 AM  

Not a rebus fan! But I got this one at MADEASCENE. Alleles is too obscure. Good puzzle.

True Grits 11:42 AM  

The grid is obviously a blueprint of the Oval Office where four sneery undercover orgs., ordered by Obama, have planted wiretaps to listen in on Donald Trump’s conversations about how he did not collude with Russia or obstruct justice or know anybody by the name of Stormy. Notice the subtle inclusion of Obama’s birthplace at 48D, the carta showing The Wall that Mexico will pay for, and the toe with the bone spurs that sadly prevented the president from serving in the military.

Calman Snoffelevich 11:44 AM  

What is the deal with the NYT rewriting history? I've seen this shtick before. When I solved the puzzle last night, the clue for 30A read "Ain't right?". Today I refreshed the page and the clue now reads "Live and breathe".

Why was this changed, and how the ef does the answer "ARE" make any sense in terms of the rewritten clue?

Banana Diaquiri 11:46 AM  

FBI fell first, then CIA and NSA went on the to-find list, ??? left. DEA was the other one, eventually.

and just so OFL knows, R AND D ain't much of an expense at pharma, big or little. they all spend more on marketing, adverts, mergers, and acquisitions. not to mention C-Suite comp. oh, yeah. Pfizer just upped the price on, at least, 100 drugs. every quarter, 10% more. didn't Dear Leader promise he would bring down drug prices with his Superman negotiating skills?

benjaminthomas 11:51 AM  

Is there supposed to be a rule on using a word like ALBEIT two days in a row?

Banana Diaquiri 11:51 AM  

oh yeah. as to ONEALL, that's generally used as xALL during play. as in Wimbledon now, "30 all" and they like. "draw" if a futbol game ends tied.

jberg 11:53 AM  

I actually had 'enunciate' at one point, thinking maybe you could usi it as a noun. So I really needed the revealer, after which I suddenly began to see the rebuses everyplace I was stuck. Very enjoyable puzzle, for me. Hardest part was beleiving that ARABIA is the world's biggest peninsula. I actually put in EUROPE, which is arguably correct -- but it's ll a matter of how one devines peninsula. Also, this is a good example of how territory near the equator looks smaller on a 2-dimensional map, at least in the most common projections.

pmdm 12:13 PM  

In the middle of a heat wave like this one, it tough getting me to laugh (and impossible getting my wife to laugh). So congratulations to you, Nancy (I'm going to have to visit the Bay of Scay) and and you, H777 (I thought complaining makes him happy).

Sometimes the best way to hide is in plain sight, so the rebus symmetry didn't really seem odd to me. But I almost laughed when Mr. Sharp, who has grumbled on occasion about lack of symmetry, complained today about the presence of symmetry. Gee, was that tongue-in-cheek, you humorous person?

My reaction to today's puzzle: just wonderful.

By the way, wiretapping is the least of our worries. Think not? Reads today's op-ed Kristof essay published in the paper version of today's NYT. Online, it's here.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/04/opinion/cyber-war-russia-china.html

And to add to my comment of yesterday, no I'm not crazy. I learned to ride a bike when I was about 7 years old. Living on the second highest hill in Yonkers, the only way to return home after a bike ride forced me to climb a VERY steep hill, so my biking muscles are abnormally large. It's tough to bike around Westchester without climbing a lot of hills, anyway. When you exercise a muscle early on in life, this tends to happen. (Seek out a Buster Keaton film in which he wears shorts. His thighs are quite impressive, like a ballerina's.) [No, I won't tell you which video. Look at them all. They are all worthwhile.] So during extremely hot weather, I bike on flat terrain which is extremely easy for me. I only start sweating when I bike up the hill to my house. (Although I do lost about 15 pounds of water during a 100 mile trip. Biking in a heat wave is a great way to lose a few pounds.)

I listen to WFTM-FM in Chicago. Today the temperature will hit 90 but tomorrow will only rise to the upper 70s. So rejoice, relief is on the way for the East coast.

Harryp 12:16 PM  

Somehow now 30Across is clued Live and breathe! It was corrected.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Rex,
You're the tool today pal.

Z
POLICE STATE? Spoken just like someone who has in fact never lived under a totalrian regime. Brother, you have no idea wnat you're talking about.

Loved the puzzle Mr. Ross. Thank you.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Banana
Nope. R and D is far and away the largest expense of any pharmaceutical.

Calman Snoffelevich 12:37 PM  

@ Harryp: See my post above (11:44 AM). Why did they change the clue? And how does it make any sense? Ridiculous. NYT is doing what Winston did in "1984"; rewrite history by conveniently deleting anything deemed even remotely objectionable by burning it and sending it down the chute into a black hole.

kitshef 12:41 PM  

@Gill I 9:35. I was living in London at the time, and was aware of a trial going on but not paying much attention. Several names however did seep in: MARCIA CLARK, Lance Ito, Johnny Cochrane, Kato Katon ... probably missing a couple of others.

Masked and Anonymous 12:47 PM  

The {Ain't right?} = ARE clue just ain't right. So, it has that self-tail-chasin aspect, goin for it.

WIRETAP is probably just meant to tie the themers together as bein orgs. and bein "undercover", so to speak.

Nice weeject stacks in the NW and SE. staff pick = ARE, tho.

Tough solvequest, due to the variable rebus squares. Until I peeked at the revealer, anyhoo. So the revealer did kinda serve as a solvin aid, at my house.

Thanx, Mr. Ross.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

Alysia 1:12 PM  

@Calman - It makes sense...much more than the original clue.

They LIVE AND BREATHE. They ARE.

Chip Hilton 1:17 PM  

Okay, I’m feeling good about rolling through this in pretty quick fashion, but, I need help. Why LIL for Wee wee? Is it just a cute shortened LITTLE for really really small? If so, I’m thinking that’s quite lame.

Otherwise, I really enjoyed the rebus and the cluing, especially Grace period? and Iceberg’s cousin.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

I wonder if your doctor would endorse your weight loss program.

Blankety Blank 1:18 PM  

I am aligned with the blogger. In fact I discovered a number of letters were missing so just carried on through marking them off. Finished with zero words in under 4 secs. Would have been faster but morning, etc.

Calman Snoffelevich 1:21 PM  

@Alysia: Coming up with a contrived sentence in which the clue makes a bit of sense does not mean the clue actually makes sense. Horrible clue.

Lewis 1:26 PM  

@z -- I think it would have been fantastic if the rebus squares were black squares instead, and we would have had to figure out the covert organization for each one. They, like wiretappers, would have been truly hidden and it would have made for one terrific AHA at getting. The NSA square would have left a two-letter answer, but I think that would have been okay on a Thursday, or just redo the grid a bit to make it work. I'm guessing, though, that Will would have thought it was too hard of a solve that way.

JC66 1:31 PM  

@ Calman Snoffelevich

The NY Times didn't change the clue for 30A because it was objectionable, but because it was wrong.

What's "contrived" about @Alysia's example? If you live and breath, you ARE.

Alysia 1:34 PM  

@Calman - I honestly can’t tell if you’re serious or trolling because you have nothing better to do at the moment.

Common noun plus common verb is pretty much the least contrived sentence structure I can think of. To clarify further: to live and breathe is to be, in the singular sense. When more than one lives and breathes, they are.

Banana Diaquiri 1:38 PM  

@anon/12:37

just go to Yahoo! Finance, or wherever, and look up Pfizer's latest numbers:
R and D - 7,657,000
SG&A - 14,784,000

and that's high on the R and D side in general.

as Dear Leader said during the campaign, "they're getting away with murder". of course, Dear Leader rolled over and stuck his paws in the air once he got to DC.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

Im looking at Pfizers annual report right now. What are you on about banana. I think you need some pharma.

Masked and Anonymous 1:53 PM  

@Chip Hilton: Yer "lame" LIL explanation sounds mighty good to m&e. LIL is a wee form of little; and little = wee.
Next: {Wee wee wee} = ? *

M&A Help Desk

p.s.
Speakin of "wee", what we need more of in our NYT crosswords is Weeject Squares (™).
Example: What they coulda had in today's NW-most corner:
ANG*
LOL*
IDO*
***

… I mean, if U R gonna have ARE = {Ain't right?}, why not have a Weeject Square?

Now, I know what all U griderati purists are gonna say:
"No!" [Or somethin less G-rated, maybe.]

But, imagine the new possibilities …

1. The Weeject Square could serve as a warm-up exercise, for solvin the rest of the puz. IT could have all ARE-like clues, maybe. [double-?? clues recommended, in that case, tho]
2. The Weeject Square could contain a hidden secret message. [Example for the Square above: ANGLO. Or maybe even ANGLOLIDO, if it meant anything.]
3. The Weeject Square could be repeated, in an imbedded form within larger entries, throughout the rest of the grid, thereby becomin the defacto puztheme.
4. @RP would start drinkin heavily again, maybe then mumblin "ARE!" [ or "ain't right"] over and over again in his sleep.
5. The Weeject Square could be repeated in the symmetrical corner, but in an anagrammed form.
6. The grid-spannin diagonal through the two symmetric Weeject Squares could spell out somethin real interestin, such as OKRASOKRASOKRAS.
7. Warnin: Do not try this, at home.


* {Wee wee wee} = DRB.

Masked and Anonymous 2:06 PM  

p.p.s.s.

@Z (m.b.) & @Lewis, re: hide the secret orgs. in the shady squares:
See 16 March 2017 NYTPuz.

M&A Archives Dept.

John V 2:08 PM  

Thought WIRETAP might help find the rebus. But, NO.

fiddleneck 2:12 PM  

But the expression is "As I live and breathe." Hard to think of any other pronoun.

Calman Snoffelevich 2:12 PM  

@ Alysia - Look at any other clue in the puzzle, or any puzzle for that matter. Seeing the relationship between the clue and the answer is usually instantaneous.

1A: Director Lee = ANG.
4A: Humdrum = DRAB.

I'm sure you've done enough puzzles to know the difference between the ordinary clue, i.e. the one that makes sense, and the horrible clue that makes zero sense unless someone bends over backwards and goes through all sorts of painful mental contortions just to come up with a single scenario in which it potentially, might, maybe, make a bit of sense.

Like I said, horrible clue. They were better off leaving the original intact, which actually did make a bit of sense, although "Ain't right?" should really have yielded the answer AREN'T or ISN'T or NOT. Anything but the nonsense they chose.

And no, I'm not trolling. I just like to understand everything that is being conveyed in the crosswords that I pay for.

Banana Diaquiri 2:14 PM  

@anon/1:46

I toll you where to look. I toll you the numbers. those are the numbers. don't make believe, with your invisible friend, that those aren't the numbers. it's murder, murder I say!!!!

Mike S 2:15 PM  

MARciaCLARK solved the puzzle for me. Once I was confident I knew that, the reveal was almost inconsequential. I liked the clues for MODES, REIN, TOE. Jumped at STY, only to correct it later as DEN. SCARS/SCABS held me up. Toughest for me???...Iceberg's cousin. I went straight to GLACIER. After I got MAdeaSCENE, I placed in MORAINE (I was really stuck on geology)...I need TRASH on the top cross to see ROMAINE.

Masked and Anonymous 2:23 PM  

p.p.p.s.s.s.

Whoops.
{Wee wee wee} should = DRIB.

But …

{Wee wee wee wee} could = DRB.

Outlaw M&A

Banana Diaquiri 2:32 PM  

@anon/1:46, et al

and you can go here to see the Gross Profit Margin of Pfizer (you can look up others, of course):
https://ycharts.com/companies/PFE/gross_profit_margin

as you can see, it runs around 80%. where else can you get 80% return?? of course, much of that is peed away on overhead, like the CxO class in the fancy offices. it's murder, murder I say!!!

Whatsername 2:39 PM  

I liked this a lot, a very nice Thursday with a clever rebus. I more or less agree with Rex that the revealer was vague and not really connected to anything else; still it did not detract from my enjoyment of the rest of the puzzle. Can’t say the same though for SNEERY and UNREADY which both seemed off, or the 30 across AINT/ARE debacle where I kept trying to put one of the rebus answers because it didn’t make sense otherwise. I had my aha moment pretty quickly with DEA in 50 across. Had a pretty good idea of what the others would be, but got stuck on 4 down because I had first GOON, then FOOL in 18 across. I just could not see that DOB for the life of me. Anyway a good fun time today. Thank you Randolph Ross.

GILL I. 2:48 PM  

@Banana...I think you have a personal troll.....! @Anony 12:37 as much as you like to trounce on @Banana, he's right again....Johnson & Johnson
spent 17.5 billion in marketing compared to 8.2 in R AND B. I looked it up because Big Pharma is all over the news. money, money, money....
@ketshef....If I knew how to insert emoji's in my MacBook, I would have inserted the little wink wink one. You know, one eyed closed, mouth agape and tongue sticking out? I figured you had to be living in a CAVE and you were...London! That's where I wanted to move to after the trial!

GILL I. 3:02 PM  

I think the time delay for the left coast discriminates. I posted my @Anony 12:37 rebuttal a while back and now I see that my words have been taken right out of my mouth.... Insert dumbfounded emoji...

Joe Bleaux 3:08 PM  

Thanks, RR, for a fine rebus! Lots of us (shout out to @Nancy😉) have been hankerin' for one. @Jim Lemire, I'm with you on UNREADY, but the only thing that came to mind -- some play on "Ethelred" -- would've been too obscure. @True Grit, LOL! (And finally, 53A could've had a seven-letter answer if the puz weren't family friendly: When an interviewer asked Larry Hagman how he landed the J.R. Ewing role, he replied, "The producer said they were looking for the biggest asshole imaginable, and my name was the first one on everybody's lips.")

Alysia 3:30 PM  

@Calman - In my years completing the NYT puzzle, I’ve seen ARE as the answer for “live and breathe” more times than I can count. Not once have I seen someone claim it doesn’t make sense.

To confirm, I checked wordplays.com, which lists ARE as the top-ranking answer for “live and breathe” (ARE being followed closely by “exist”). Synonyms are frequently used as clues; just take 4A (your example) or 57A, for instance. Or 61A which uses a multiple-word synonym for a one-word answer.

First thesaurus result when searching “live and breathe” is “exist.” Exist = ARE. No contortions required.

Banana Diaquiri 3:47 PM  

@Gill I:
@Banana...I think you have a personal troll.....!

well, OK. as long as she's Jessica Rabbit.

Anonymous 3:58 PM  

The ubiquitous Thursday rebus didn't bother me. What got me were the three mis-clued entries in this puzzle:
25 Down was clued as "tart" which is either a sugary breakfast item (noun) or a way of describing how something tastes (an adj). The answer, "acid," is a noun. The correct answer should be acidic.
Also, 62 Across (Wash. setting, in the winter) made me think the constructor was talking about Washington, DC since the state of Washington has two time zones (Pacific and Mountain).
Finally, as someone who's lived in Oregon and has visited Hells Canyon many times, I was chagrined to see the answer for 17 Across (Hells Canyon locale: Abbr) given as IDA. Idaho borders Hells Canyon but, on the Idaho side, it's called Seven Devils.

Aketi 4:05 PM  

@M&A the answer is what 56 across said on the way home

Loved the rebus.

@pdmn, I grew up at the top of a steep mile long hill. In elementary school we walked down that hill to a school bus that took us an additional three miles on flat terrain to our school and then walked up that hill every afternoon. The high school was on the other side of the hill but the road wound down and back up the hill and down the other side to the high school. So before we learned to drive, we could walk the hill and take a bus that would take us back up the hill and down again to school or we could ride our bikes. When we rode our bikes we would have to pedal up the hill once on the way to school and up the hill twice on the way back. In grad school I lived in Ithaca without a car for two years and rode my bike up the steep hill from downtown to campus every day. Even so, I’m still with @Nancy about the 100 miles in the heat. I was thinking of you when I rode a mere 37 blocks on mostly flat terrain today at 1 pm instead of the ride yesterday which was at 10 am and thinking “how do you do it?”

Anonymous 5:28 PM  

From a dictionary:
adjective
adjective: acid

.
2.
sharp-tasting or sour.
"acid fruit"
synonyms: acidic, sour, TART, bitter, sharp, acrid, pungent, acerbic, vinegary, acetic, acetous
"a slightly acid flavor"

Birchbark 5:35 PM  

@'mericans (10:36) & @Z (9:30) -- If I may wax rebopodical, so many people (your intelligent selves included) expect asymmetry here that the truly clandestine move would be to go ultra-symmetrical -- and I mean so symmetrical it's invisible. And only our government probably has the technology to do that, which makes this an editorial stroke of genius. By the way, @'mericans, I think the wry here would pair well with rebi.

@pabloinnh (8:42) -- Even Blake would agree that your version of "Tyger" is better. I'll deploy it in the future.

Anonymous 5:42 PM  

Maybe he doesn't.

GILL I. 5:48 PM  

@Aketi...Have I told you about the hardship my parents made me endure as a child while I walked barefoot in the snow in Havana uphill to our Presbyterian church school 10 miles away and then uphill back home? I've never recuperated. (insert emoji)

Aketi 7:10 PM  

@Gill I, haha, we actually liked our hill because we were completely unsupervised for big chunks of the day. There were rock walls to climb and puddles to jump in and forbidden short cuts with rope swings and tree forts. And a lost water hole that took us about seven years to find No one cared what we did as long as we got back home by dinner time. My poor son got yelled at by his little league coach for climbing a tree. I got into trouble for defending him because the coach was a lawyer and I was given a lecture on legal liability.

BarbieBarbie 7:24 PM  

THE 30A CLUE WAS JUST FINE. “Ain’t “ is, formally, “wrong.” “Are” is the equivalent, formally right, word. “Ain’t right” is “ARE.”

OK pedant-shamers, have at it. Can I help it that I listened in school?

drgerbils 7:40 PM  

If ain’t is the wrong answer ( forgetting that it is not grammatically correct) than “ are” must be the correct or right answer.

drgerbils 7:43 PM  

Lil is a small ( little) form of little. Hence wee wee.

Joe 8:06 PM  

Thanks for the Case/Veirs/Lang video. I love the Silver Lake song, but had not seen it performed.

Alysia 8:51 PM  

“He ain’t going” is wrong.

Corrected (right) would be “he isn’t going.”

“They ain’t going” is wrong.

Corrected (right) would be “they aren’t going.”

They ARE going would have the opposite meaning.

Lewis 9:49 PM  

Thanks, M&A!

BarbieBarbie 10:29 PM  

Good point Alysia. School too long ago. I was focused on the Plural meaning objections, not the opposite-meaning. School was too long ago!

Calman Snoffelevich 10:45 PM  

@Alysia - So "ain't" made right should be either "isn't" or "aren't", as you say (and as I said way above). Then why is ARE (which is the opposite of AREN'T) RIGHT? Making AIN'T grammatically correct but also negating the meaning of the word hardly seems RiGHT to me. What am I missing?

Alysia 10:58 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alysia 11:53 PM  

@Calman - I’m pretty sure you’re not missing ANYTHING. As originally published, it was clued incorrectly, which is why that clue was amended.

Michael McCormick 2:23 AM  

They should mention that it's a rebus.

Anonymous 6:11 AM  

Enjoyed this. It took me a while and had to come back to it, which I don’t mind. A few stinky words but overall entertaining. Did anyone else have elocution before the rebus theme was discovered?

DL 9:06 AM  

Historical revisionism just ain’t right.

DL 9:09 AM  

In Latin, “rebus” is already plural. “Rebi” hurts my glad eyes.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP