Thursday, May 1, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "GROSS" (38A: "That's repulsive!" ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) - a rebus puzzle where the word "ICK" is hidden inside 9 squares throughout the puzzle

If there had been one fewer ICK, and the ICK in 59A had intersected the second ICK in 35D, this would have been an architectural marvel, with something very close to symmetrical placement of eight ICKS. As it is, it's still impressive - it's just that the ninth ICK looks a little lonely when you highlight them all in the grid (as I've done on my paper). He's down there at the end of BREAD ST[ICK] with no one to play with.

I get questions all the time from beginners who want to know "How am I supposed to know when a puzzle's a rebus?" My answer is, first, check the date - if it's M or T, almost certainly not; W, very low likelihood; Th, definite possibility; F, very low likelihood; Sat, almost certainly not; Sun, possibility. That's just how the NYT rolls. I know when I'm dealing with a rebus because I'll get in a corner and either nothing makes sense, or answers I *know* just don't fit (this happened today with 6D: _____ and snee => SN[ICK]). Otherwise, there is no sign, no hint, no trick. Once you open your mind to the possibility, you'll be surprised how able you are to sniff them out.

Theme answers (aka "The ICKS")

  • 17A: Club founder and president in an 1836 Dickens novel (Mr. P[ICK]W[ICK])
  • 4D: Boonies (st[ICK]s)
  • 6D: _____ and snee (sn[ICK])
  • 18A: Field goal attempter, once (dropk[ICK]er) - wanted this to be GUS.
  • 11D: Hysterical hen of fable (Ch[ICK]en L[ICK]en) - I would have spelled this LICKIN', as in "Finger LICKIN' Good!"
  • 36A: Handle (mon[ICK]er) - this is one of the few places the puzzle begins to creak under the weight of the theme. MONICKER is acceptable, but I've never seen it spelled that way. Preferred spelling: MONIKER.
  • 35D: Awkward situations, informally (st[ICK]y w[ICK]ets) - my favorite theme answer, easily
  • 41A: 5th Avenue alternative (Sn[ICK]ers) - I thought this would be a car, but I clearly got the candy bar confused with ... this:
  • 53A: Century, e.g. (Bu[ICK]) - they make a "Park Avenue," not a "5th Avenue."
  • 59A: Crispy appetizer (bread st[ICK])
  • 56D: Amusement park purchase (t[ICK]et)
  • 61A: Easy winner in bridge (qu[ICK] tr[ICK])
  • 58D: Eat without enthusiasm (p[ICK] at)
  • 52D: Quiz show gizmo (cl[ICK]er)
My first and only real problem with the puzzle was up in the far north, where I made an educated guess at the DADO (7D: Pedestal part) / DSC (7A: U.S. Army award: Abbr.) crossing. I had learned DADO from another puzzle - something to do with carpentry, I thought - and that seemed the least ridiculous letter to front -ADO. DSC I did not put together til after the puzzle was finished. I figured it was Distinguished Service something (it is - "something" = Cross). DSC also stands for Differential Scanning Calorimetry, FYI.

I have a bunch of frowny-faces and question marks on my puzzle paper, indicating stuff I simply didn't know. Foremost among these answers is UREY (54D: 1934 Chemistry Nobelist Harold). That's ... rough. Most people in 1935 probably couldn't have named this guy. Yeesh. Further, I did not know TISCH (48D: Former CBS chief Laurence), though the name rings a bell, and at any rate is far more familiar than UREY. Also did not know 14A: Ex-Dodger manager Walter (Alston). Before my time (i.e. pre-Lasorda). Dang, he managed a Long time ('54-'76). How did I not know his name? The foreign language portion of the exam was a little heavy today, with some rarely seen pronouns like ESA (22A: Spanish pronoun) and CHE (63A: What: It.), and a passel of French words in the far NE (today, the Qu├ębec portion of the grid): ACTE (10A: Part of une piece de theatre) and CHEZ (16A: Word in a French party invitation). Lots of abbreviations today, too, which may be another consequence of such an ambitious theme. No matter. It was worth it - overall, a worthy Thursday construction.

The Rest:

  • 1A: Unicorns and griffins (beasts) - wanted BEASTS immediately, but then thought "Nah, too easy."
  • 15A: What SSTs crossed: Abbr. (ATL) - as in, the ATLantic. Wanted IDL at first ... wrong ocean.
  • 20A: Oregon Trail fort (Boise) - the old state switcheroo. Here "Oregon" = Idaho. See also 30A: City on the Arkansas (Tulsa), where "Arkansas" = Oklahoma.
  • 28A: Perceived to be (seen as) - astonishingly hard for me to parse. I had SEEMED, but that SEEMED wrong. MINOR (21D: College student's declaration) helped me sort things out.
  • 46A: Free _____ (1850s abolitionist) (stater) - not sure how I knew this so easily. I guess having an American historian around the house helps sometimes.
  • 47A: Sir Thomas who introduced the sonnet to England (Wyatt) - right over the plate for me.
  • 57A: Plaything for a kitty (spool) - I imagine this would suck for kitty were there no string on it. Although ... my cats play with twigs, pieces of wadded up paper, the dog's tail, etc. so maybe a SPOOL alone would work just fine.
  • 9D: Draper's offering (cloth) - another one that was surprisingly hard for me to get. I was imagining a much fancier term.
  • 10D: When repeated, antiaircraft fire (ack) - cool comic book sound effect.
  • 13D: Cornell of university fame (Ezra) - you should also know ELIHU Yale and Big Bad Leroy Harvard (OK, so his name was John).
  • 25D: Arctic castoffs (bergs) - first thought: the Inuit elderly? Doesn't someone/thing have to be doing the "casting?" Is God "casting" the BERGS into the ocean?
  • 31D: Noon service, to ecclesiastics (sext) - and my medievalist training comes in handy yet again. Surprisingly useful, my eight years in grad school.
  • 36D: Ones graded E-8 in the Army (msgts) - wow, that is one ugly military abbreviation.
  • 46D: Chest: Prefix (stetho-) - got hung up here with STERNO- ... sternum, sterno- ... makes sense to me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Thanks for all the explanations! It wasn't hard to get, once one knew SNICK was not fitting into three spaces with a rebus....

Trouble was, after finding the ones that belonged, I was still thinking Free Who? at 46-A! ( Stickney? or Stickler? or ?) Had to give that a rest for a while.

Also, same area, "Intel. org." as clue for 49-A had me wanting something to do with Intel the company, disregarding the period... "Hannity" was overlooked too long at 39-D too, didn't mean much even when I noticed!

STICKY WICKET was great though, as were QUICK TRICK and MR PICKWICK. And UREY was a gimme because he'd appeared in another puzzle recently.


Anonymous 9:21 AM  

Without a rebus, I meant to say....

Wendy Laubach 9:23 AM  

This one just killed me for nearly an hour. And now I find I still had an error. "CHE" is one of the few Italian words I should know, but I convinced myself it was "CUE" and never did figure out "STETHO."

I went wrong all over the place, even after I noticed the "ICK." Strangely, I had the worst trouble with "STRUTS," my last fill after I considered, then dropped, then returned to "MOUTH" for sass. (Some weird lapse kept me from accurately filling in the "DROP" next to "KICKER.") Also, I though "Chicken Little" was the hysterical hen, but I must be thoroughly mixing up my tales. It was a long time before I consented to spelling "moniker" with an extra "C" so I could put in the "ICK." Chicken Licken is something I associate exclusively with KFC.

Boy, that "MR. P[ICK]W[ICK]" looks strange in the grid!

PuzzleGirl 9:24 AM  

I really like rebuses! So I liked this theme, and the puzzle in general. Got everything without Googling except the D in DADO/DSC, which made me feel better about myself after having a really hard time on every puzzle this week.

Some awkward cluing spoiled the enjoyment a little (not a lot) for me.

Maybe every single doctor's office I've ever been to is unusual, but they never "cry" NEXT -- they always "cry" the patient's name. Barbershop? Yes. Doctor's office? No.

I chuckled when I read the clue "Quiz show gizmo" -- awesome rhyme! Too bad the answer wasn't "buzzer," which I believe is what people actually call those things. A CLICKER is a television remote. Who's with me?

An "extended LASH"? What the hell is that? (I defer to Orange, who has admitted to having her eyebrows threaded -- whatever that means.)

The other two I had problems with were probably just me. I originally had SECTIONS for grapefruit units and I don't think of BREADSTICKS as crispy. But I will concede both points.

Always always always happy to see one of the Jetsons in the puzzle!

SethG 9:26 AM  

My first answer today was SN[ICK], not sure if I've ever done that before. (where 'that' = 'getting the rebus immediately'). I had the British Columbia (the Yukon?) done in the first minute.

A couple of times I was working on a tricky answer and decided to try the crosses one more time, only to find that the crosses were gimmes that I hadn't actually seen yet. For example, I worked in Florida for a couple minutes before I saw QBs... Go me.

Didn't like DROP/DROP, some day I'll remember the abbrev. for barrels, didn't know about pedestal DADOs. NYU has a Tisch School of the Arts. And ACK Ack was Curtis Armstrong's character in One Crazy Summer.

Ulrich 9:28 AM  

Since I didn't know the long theme answers, or knew a theme answer not in the context clued (quick trick), or found it misclued (monicker), I had to discover that I was dealing with a rebus the hard way: Getting enough crosses that made no sense so that a rebus had to be considered a possibility--and then I had "gross" and everything made sense quickly.

I'm waiting to use "sticky wicket", my word of the day. When I read the story of chicken-licken, though, I found it rather GROSS, ending-wise.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Had no trouble identifying it as a rebus, along with others SNICK was the giveaway.

I just could not seem to get the central part of the bottom. Writing QUE for CHE (stupid Spanish training) didn't help. TISCH is a mystery to me, but the world-famous Miller/UREY experiments (the "flash of lightning in a chemical soup" one) was probably known by illiterate tribesmen in Saharan Africa by 1935... and to the folks we call Eskimeaux (var.). I liked that a BERG is "cast off" into the ocean - as in to set sail. No ropes though.

Guessed right about DADO/DSC as Rex did, but knew the C would be cross.

Getting tired of AYN Rand. Let's find another Ayn.

-En N.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

p.s. Glaciers casting off iceBERGS didn't bother me, but 33-D led to a funny mental image of getting just one eyeLASH extended at a salon!


Pete M 10:05 AM  

I, also, had STERNO. Anyone else try DAIS for pedestal part? No? Just me?

I like "quick trick", especially as I'm partial to bridge clues. For those who don't know, quick tricks are immediate winners (like having the AK or AKQ in a suit when playing in no-trump), as opposed to "slow tricks" which need to be "set up" by first losing a trick (or more) to opponents (e.g., QJ1098 is worth three slow tricks -- you have to force out the Ace and King before the rest are good).

I sniffed out rebus right away, but got slowed down trying to fit in CHICKEN LITTLE instead of CHICKEN LICKEN.

Nice puzzle.

- Pete M

JannieB 10:23 AM  

I liked this puzzle too - found it fair if easy for a Thursday. I liked a lot of the fill - last drop, quick tricks (yes, I too am a bridge nut), Mr Pickwick. Are there any other "famous" Ayns?? We seem to be on a bit of an Ezra run - seems like a new one every day. I too can't get my chickens lined up - Chicken Licken was a restaurant chain in Miami when I was a wee lass; easily confused with Henny Penny and Chicken Little. Someday I'll sort them all out. Cluck cluck.

Orange 10:47 AM  

Rex, what would IDL be? I am completely at sea about that.

Puzzlegirl, I had to Google the lash extensions thing. Holy crapola, who knew? Women who wish to spend plenty of money and time to have giant unrealistic eyelashes can go to salons and have fake hairs affixed permanently (until the lashes fall out naturally). Yes, the industry has decreed that mascara and eyelash curlers are not enough—women need to spend more money on their fricking eyelashes! Give me a break. Oh, and the esthetic result? Just like Alex the Sociopath in A Clockwork Orange. So pretty!

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

@puzzle girl, I am with you twice (at least), on clicker - that's a remote, and doctors' offices. If they said "next", everyone who'd been waiting two hours would jump up and rush the nurse, thinking they wanted to be next.
My big mistake. I left in MSGTI (thinking, there's like I, II etc for ranks) crossed with NIA (some agency I never heard of that does spy stuff?)

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

AHA! It's International Date Line? Am I right?

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

Had lunch at the STICKY WICKET Wicket just hours before this puzzle. A must for any Victoria visitors.

[sorry don't know how to make a link here]

Dwight 11:09 AM  

You know you need a break from the news and opinion columns when your first response to "Cornell of university fame" is WEST.

Different spelling on the first name, I know, but I find my first response troubling...

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

@ Rex, I had hoped for a picture of "his boy Elroy".

Jane! Stop this crazy thing!

Unknown 11:31 AM  

I played home Jeopardy for years and it launched my useless affliction of memorizing useless info. It came with CLICKERS, which I wore out. I had another 'be first' game with them and we substituted those, so I think the clue refers to to the home game versions and not TV.

Rex, keeping with the puzzle words, that would be Elroy Harvard and his neighbor Mit Hoyle. LOL and see to avoid more flak, you made it clear it was a joke, alas.

Ok, this link is one of my favorite YouTube finds and is related to today's puzzle because this skit in Japan is called a Clicker. The ending part is not a rewind, the actors actually reverse their previous actions. This will make you smile... Clicker

jae 11:33 AM  

It took me till SNICKERS to get the rebus but it was pretty smooth after that. Only brief hickup was MAJOR for MINOR.

Agree about doctors offices and clickers.

Should it bother me that ELROY and BAMBA were instant gimmes while I had to get UREY and WYATT from the crosses?

Nice enjoyable puzzle!

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

I really have to remember that rebuses (rebusii?) are a possibility. At this early stage in my puzzle solving career I don't expect to have an easy time with a Thursday, but when I had next to nothing in the grid and was going nowhere fast, I should have had my "Aha! Rebus!" moment.

I wonder if other people had the same reaction as I did the first time they saw a rebus. Mine was something like, "WHAT?! THEY CAN DO THAT? THATS CHEATING!", but with many more 4-letter words spread throughout.

Doug 11:45 AM  

I just watched the freaky Japanese reverse video, but when Roy Orbison went in reverse I had to click off--Too much for 8:30am! Reminded me of the music in Mars Attacks! I never new Roy Orbison in reverse sounded like Slim Whitman.

I finally had to Google SST because I was looking for something to do with MACH or SOS (speed of sound.) When the Concorde pic appeared of course it was ATL.

What a great puzzle. Clever, lots of new info and a challenging rebus. I checked Orange's site last night and was blown away with the 5.5 minute time. At first I thought "Hey, my 54 minute time was better than her 55 minute time" until I looked carefully at the decimal place.

PHILLY - Looks like the Flyers are taking out the last Canadian team (the Canadiens) unless some magic happens Saturday night in Game 5.

Bill D 11:48 AM  

Was just going to cut & paste Wendy's comments here, except that I had CIE instead of CHE for "Italian What".

Loved the puzzle with minor gripe of SEXT crossing NEXT. I, too, kept trying harder answers for some simple ones, like FLOES for BERGS. Stared at _UL_A for way too long before TULSA dawned on me.

ACK-ack is from The Great War, as is ARCHIE. They are slang terms for AA (anti-aircraft) fire or the more recent AAA (AA artillery). Another such term is FLAK, which is derived from the German for AA cannon, more common during WW II. I hope you're taking notes!

Joon 12:08 PM  

"SN(ICK) and snee" means nothing to me, so i didn't piece together the rebus until waaaay down in the SE when i found QU(ICK)TR(ICK). i probably should have had it off the d(ick)ens clue, but for some reason i was thinking of inspector pecksniff when i was looking at MRP___.

fun puzzle, though i agree that a lot of the fill is a bit forced due to the ambitious theme. prefixes, abbreviations, foreign pronouns.

never seen MON(ICK)ER spelled with a C before. i agree that it looks weird.

i also tried WEST for 13D (i don't think he spells cornell any differently) and i also wanted WASH at 33D.

on 54D, i couldn't get harold ickes (which i thought was spelled ickeys) out of my head. i know he's not a chemist, and it didn't look like that was going to be a rebus spot, but still. different field, different harold. i've heard of UREY but i eventually got that one off the crosses.

fave clue: [Start to finish?]

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

A fun puzzle. But rebus really messes with your mind. After you see something like "monicker" with an extra c, you start making all sorts of allowances. For 21A: Sass, I put in "mimmick". Messed me up for a while.

Having had a child who attended Cornell, I always think of Ezra first-- I paid dearly for that word association! I think there has been Ezra Cornells in each generation since the original. There's a story about one of the descendants not hearing about his application to Cornell U. because someone in the Registrar's office thought it was a joke that Ezra Cornell was applying for admission, and threw it away...

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

I got the rebus about half-way through the puzzle, but I didn't know SNIck either, or the long time manager, so I got hung up with SPIck and snee. Aagh.
I knew SEXT from medieval fantasy stories; unfortunately, I erased it for grapefruit SECTIONS.

DJG 1:07 PM  

I had STERNO as well for a long time. However, STETHO makes perfect sense if you think about where a doctor places a stethoscope.

One problem I had is that I don't necessarily associate bread sticks with being crispy. Aren't the fancier ones at Italian restaurants usually quite soft?

Wendy Laubach 1:34 PM  

My only problem with breadsticks is that I dispute the existence of any such word as "crispy." What happened to plain old crisp? "Crispy" is cute-talk.

Stetho makes perfect sense to me now, but I guess I never in my life gave any thought to why a stethoscope was called that. I must have assumed that it had something to do with listening. I just didn't associate it with the body part it listened to.

I've also always assumed that all questions about 50-year-ago Nobel prize winners, like 50-year-ago Supporting Actor awards, are random fill. I'm amazed to discover that people have actually heard of this guy Urey! The experiment rings a bell, but not the name.

miriam b 1:48 PM  

@damon g.: IMHO breadsticks should be crisp. I was once given a gift card for The Olive Garden and grudgingly used it. I was GROSSed out(ICK) by the bendable Wonder-Bread-like alleged breadsticks. Your local mom and pop Italian restaurant usually has the right article.

@Orange: My yoga teacher has invited us to volunteer as subjects for a friend who has just started doing eyelash extensions. Gimme a break. Even if I were remotely interested, I wouldn't do it, as the faux lashes would doubtless collide with my eyeglasses and maybe even scratch the lenses. Another thing: Would I have a surgeon-in-training remove my appendix?

@Rex: A SPOOL is ideal for cats. I know this, as I sew a lot and give the crew my empties.

String or thread or yarn is downright dangerous. Cats have a swallowing reflex which can be activated by their chewing the end of a bit of string. This can result in their ingesting yards of the stuff - and surgery isn't always successful, or in some cases even possible. Disclaimer: I am not a vet; I just play one in front of my TV.

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

A bit of a curate's egg or a sticky wicket for me but kinda fun.

Tim Gillam 1:51 PM  

Rebuses on Thursday are generally easy to spot. If they have no (or maybe only one) answer that crosses the entire grid or is at least 13 letters, that's usually a rebus puzzle. I'm sure there are exceptions, but they are few.

PuzzleGirl 1:51 PM  

@orange: Thanks for the lash extension info. Reminds me of my dad's response to learning that I had gotten a tattoo: "Some people have too much money." And speaking of tattoos: I personally know two women who have had eyeliner tattooed on their eyelids. What is Wrong with people??

@wendy: You make me laugh ... and appreciate the community we have here. Where else can you dispute the existence of words among like-minded people? I hereby banish the word "crispy" from my vocabulary and believe I'm a better person for it.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

My only problem with breadsticks is that I dispute the existence of any such word as "crispy." What happened to plain old crisp? "Crispy" is cute-talk.

Brava, bravissima, Wendy!

"Next" would be a very wrong thing for them to call out in a doctor's office.

Cats and kittens play with anything, as Rex said. Using "plaything for kitty" as a clue for "spool" is no clue at all. Is there a tradition of spool-play that I was unaware of?

Does anyone have a really persuasive explanation for why "clicker" is a "Quiz show gizmo"? Despite the above comments, this still seems to be a non-seq. Remote controls are used with all TV shows, not just quiz shows. And if we're talking about a home game, then it's not a "show".

Great day in NYC for a bike ride.

kate 2:38 PM  

I have never, ever heard that story or its main character referred to as CHICKENLICKEN. Plus, Henny Penny is the hen, right? I always thought Chicken Little was a young lad chicken. I Googled, apparently the story/character are known as both. The whole thing made me testy.

imsdave 2:48 PM  

Apologies to Rex, but I think this has been a very solid week for puzzles. I particularly liked Tuesday. Today's was on the soft side for a Thursday, but very nicely put together, with a nice st*ing point for me with MAJOR vs. MINOR. Looking forward to the rest of the week.

Unknown 2:49 PM  

@ jim in nyc...
perhaps you are correct that a home version of a TV show isn't a show, but I found these two references.
From a January 2008 NYT article...

The clickers are part of an increasingly popular technology known as an audience response system, which has been used for everything from surveying game show audiences to polling registered voters. That technology is now spreading to public and private schools across the country.

and this from Wikipedia...
On the American version of Runaround, host Winchell would say, before giving the correct answer, "When you hear the click, stick!" and then a moment later, "Last chance!", after which point he would press a finger-clicker (a toy device that made a clicking sound).

The NYT article is probably the source for the clue so here is the article....

JC66 3:31 PM  

@ wendy laubach

"Stetho makes perfect sense to me now, but I guess I never in my life gave any thought to why a stethoscope was called that. I must have assumed that it had something to do with listening. I just didn't associate it with the body part it listened to".

I was reading your comment and nodding furiously in agreement until I remembered that the doctor usually moves around to listen to my back, as well.

As for today's sports trivia; two things related (is this a pun?) to Laurence TISCH.

1. His son, Steve, is part owner of the current Super Bowl champion New York Football Giants.

2.CBS bought the New York Yankees in 1966 for $13 million and sold the team to George Steinbrenner in 1973 for $10 million after suffering an operating loss of $11 million. They're reported to be worth over $1.4 Billion today (not including the very profitable YES broadcasting network). Not quite like trading the Babe, but quite a blunder in anyone's book.

JC66 3:34 PM  

Not to mention their on field performance!!!

chefbea 3:55 PM  

Just this morning I drove a lady to the hairdresser and there was a big sign in the window "eye lash extensions" I guess if your eyelashes arent long enough, get extensions...ouch

chefbea 3:58 PM  

pete m - i had dais also.
I got ticket almost immediately and realized we had a rebus. was a fun puzzle

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

I actually know someone who got eyelash extensions in an attempt to be more attractive and land an acting gig or two.

It was my brother.

...I really wish I was kidding.

chefbea 4:06 PM  

phillysolver - loved the clicker japanese game show!!!

dk 4:08 PM  

Gross was a common phrase around our house when I was a kid so when I was looking at 6D (that had to be SNICK) it all came together.

MRPICKWICK and the Chock full o'nuts hevenly coffee.. good to the LASTDROP where favorites.

Perhaps a quick trip to Bermuda for a little AST is in order.

Popeye said ACK ACK as well.

chefbea 4:14 PM  

wasnt there a cereal that my children grew up on called crispy critters. they must have been very crisp. Must say I have never tried to make cereal but I do make a great granola

JannieB 4:21 PM  

@dk - Chock-full of nuts is indeed heavenly, but I think it was Maxwell House that was good to the very last drop.

Wendy Laubach 5:20 PM  

Stethos must refer to chest in the sense of chest cavity, or basically the whole interior of the upper torso, but one of our Greek experts perhaps can chime in.

And of course the word "crispy" exists in the sense that it keeps cropping up. What I meant to say was that I passionately denied its right to exist in a world of right-thinking people.

But I can't deny that "crispy critters" is legitimate slang. OK, all I ask is that the word not be used to describe food in ads, recipes, or menus. Except cute ones.

Doc John 5:36 PM  

This puzzle gave me all sorts of fits! Even though I got GROSS pretty quickly, I didn't get the ICK part. I was thinking that it had to do with gross=144, especially with the presence of MEASURE. Finally, BREADSTICK gave me the rebus but I still had a really rough go of it. Last to fill in was DROP KICKER.

Not thrilled that there was both SNICK and SNICKERS but I'll let it go. I originally had O Henry for the candy bar.

I also had sterno. As for a STETHOscope, I (and all docs) use it all over- the chest, back, abdomen, and even the neck (to check for carotid bruits, a sign of plaque in the artery), not to mention to take blood pressure.

Keeping with the medical stuff, these days, due to HIPAA (a word surely to be seen in crosswords that deals with patient privacy) one is more likely to call NEXT than a patient's name.

Harold UREY is well known to UCSD-grad me. There's a whole building there named after him- it's the one that they drop the watermelon off of every year to see the size of the splat.

Glad I wasn't the only one to get a hinky feeling about MONICKER with a C.

SPOOL reminded me of this from "Kentucky Fried Movie" (paraphrased):
"So, in your job as a spool...?"
"I'm not a spool, I'm a spoon."
"Ah yes, spoon. I guess spool wouldn't make any sense."
(I could have it backwards but you get the idea.)

And finally, what was my fave answer? All together now:

Anonymous 5:38 PM  

re: cats and string danger -- I have to second the caution from miriam b! I lost a favorite cat who'd eaten a juice-laden cord from a roast turkey one holiday, which no one thought of as "missing", of course. It was the kind that had small plastic discs attached (not sure why) -- they don't show up on an X-ray either.

By the time the time we realized the cat was only getting worse and the vet finally decided to operate, it was way too late. I wrote to Butterball to ask that they please include a Warning on their label, since the difficulty could apply to small children as well -- but they never even answered...


Anonymous 5:56 PM  

Mmmm... Snickers. I liked that my first thought was of candy and not shopping. (What would it be? The MirICKle Mile in Chicago?) I don't normally like rebus puzzles (The thought of a 2 in 1 challenge makes me weep... 1 is not big enough to contain 2!) but, this I liked.

mac 5:57 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot! Started more or less in the middle since I couldn't get traction in the NW (I think I erased acte 4 times), but got the rebus quickly because I ended up finding gross early on. Ick was the first thought, and, I also thought Ickes would crop up in the grid!

I love "sticky wickets" although I had never heard of it. I'm going to try and use it, too. Must be a Brit saying, related to cricket.

33D, where I had the starting l, made me think of "lock", probably not quite as strange to extend.

I'm joining the anti-crispy crowd, in general don't like cutifying words. Some of my least favorite: tummy, yummy, veggies, tootsies, and now crispy as well. I guess we cannot get rid of Krispy Kream....

mac 6:07 PM  

P.S. Didn't you ever have those stale, skinny, crisp breadsticks wrapped in paper, which you can then dip into the butter or the olive oil?

P.P.S. I guess I'm a shopper, too, but there was no way I could get Saks 5th or Madison Ave in the space.... Will be checking it out in person this Sunday.

Anonymous 6:10 PM  

My only real issue with this one was the SW tangle, due not to the idea that breadsticks aren't always crispy, but that I don't think of them as appetizers. I guess there's not a word for "forgettable dryish things they bring you whether you like it or not," but when I think of appetizers, I think of smallish but somewhat complex concoctions that generally involve more than opening a bag or slicing a loaf. Awesome Blossom, anyone? Pu pu platter?

So with sterno firmly in place, I wanted Fried Bricks or Treed Fricks, both of which, I assure you, are both crisp and appropriately elaborate as preludes to a meal. You will need tooth pricks, though.

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

Wade, thanks. I'll probably get in touch with you when my semester is over. Arrrr.

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

This is why I read this blog: I knew sticky wicket, but I had vaguely assumed that it has to do with candles that would not burn because they had a sticky wick(et) : )

When Mac said it has something to do with cricket I checked it out, and sure enough, wicket is some sort of cricket surface. Who knew?

I agree with the objection to breadsticks as appetizers-- not even close!

Doc John 7:02 PM  

When I was a kid, I got a toy with Cap'n Crunch box tops called a STICKY WICKET. That's how I learned the term. For years I had no idea what it meant!

Leon 7:20 PM  

Can't get this out of my mind after 18 across: Drop Kick me Jesus.

Michael Chibnik 7:26 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle and didn't find it hard. But I wasn't happy about "monicker" and kept wanting to write in either "henny penny" or "chicken little." Glad to see that I am not alone.

Ulrich 7:43 PM  

For all who haven't had enough of chickens yet: The bonus puzzle by Fred Piscop the NYT offers is titled "Spring Chicken" and contains the most theme answers I have ever seen in a puzzle--after doing it, you will definitely be sick of chicken in all of its forms.

Since there are so many theme answers, the answers are generally short, which makes for an easy romp (but not for those who can't stand chicken)

fergus 8:04 PM  

This one fell into place very quICKly today, from Walt ALSTON to the LAST DROP. I wonder if he was ever the pitchman for Folger's coffee?

I don't think I saw it mentioned but a STICKY WICKET is a good situation for the batsman in Cricket, but not so good for the bowler. To take a wicket in cricket is like an out in baseball. The flyouts are the same; groundouts are similar to being run out; and a strike out is analogous to knocking the little bit of wood off the three stumps behind the batsman. If it's prone to staying there, the batsman gets to stick around.

It took a while, but I got to quite enjoy cricket when I lived in England -- never quite as much as baseball, though.

As Doc John said, any time spent at UCSD leads to a familiarity with Dr. UREY. His name is all over the place. Maybe they even have a college named after him now?

I would guess the distribution of Rebuses would be about 60% Thursday, 30% Sunday and the remaining 10% on the odd Wednesday or Friday. This is probably similar to what Rex meant -- I wonder whether the great information hound, of reddish yellow hue, might know the precise historical percentages?

Bill from NJ 8:15 PM  

Got BAMBA ELROY at once and that presented me with MR - - - - at 17A. I know a little Dickens and MRP(ick)W(ick) came to mind. I immediately scanned the puzzle looking for a clue to the theme and found it at 38A and the whole thing fell in short order.

JAE, no, you shouldn't feel bad about your body of knowledge any more than say, Rex, should feel bad about his areas of expertise. Rex describes clues in English lit as "over the plate" for him. Others who have knowledge of architecture, geography or politics accept those kinds of clues as gimmes and move on. I certainly am not embarrassed by knowing who Walter ALSTON is.

On the other hand, I don't feel superior to others for knowing it either.

I speak a little French and have a smattering of Latin but I always find clues like WHO:It. or SPANISH PRONOUN to be frustrating: three- or four-letter-words full of interchangeable vowels.

It's funny, but UREY is one of those XWORD GIMMES that I have known for years: Once I get the U or Y . . .

mac 8:30 PM  

Very funny, Ulrich, my kitchen smell2 of roasted chicken as I comment......

To my surprise even my lowly A-Z Crossword Dictionary shows the word as "moni(c)ker).

Rex, thanks so much for the cat video, all my friends and relatives send me this sort of thing because they know I enjoy them a lot.

Anonymous 8:35 PM  

Rex, if you don't put artlvr's public service announcement in the weekly wrap-up I'm not sure I can continue to support this site.

Orange 8:58 PM  

Fergus, I'm thinking it's closer to 90% Thursday, 8% Sunday, and 2% other days. If you want to calculate the percentages yourself, see Jim H's rebus puzzle page. There are about 150 of 'em and I'm not in the mood to count the days.

fergus 9:09 PM  

Thanks Orange. I think I'll toss the data in to Excel, and let the machine sort it out. Quick 'eyeballing' makes me guess the answers lie somewhere in between.

dk 9:38 PM  

Blogger jannieb,

Right on 2 counts. Spelled heavenly wrong ant it is Maxwell house that is good to the LASTDROP.

I should be banned....

Have I mentioned the plot line from Lathe of Heaven?

fergus 9:40 PM  


Sunday 61
Thursday 62

= 123/161

38% each

M 2
T 3
W 11
F 14
S 8

Note Friday almost 10% of total

(= 38/161)

Ulrich 9:48 PM  

@mac: Hmm--Let me guess: Rubbed with olive oil, garlic and herbs and roasted slowly until the end, where high heat creates a CRISPY skin--right?

mac 10:02 PM  

Ulrich: Close. Rubbed with olive oil and Dutch chicken spices from the Dutch Store in Norwalk, with about 6 cloves of garlic, half an onion and a quartered lemon inside. 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, then 45 minutes at 350: you want to do the crisping early on. Then let it sit for at least 10minutes before carving. We'll pick at (ha, ha) the leftovers tomorrow, then the carcass goes into a pot with onion, carrot, celery and (again) a Dutch bouquet garni (ha, ha) and filtered water to make a wonderful stock.

SethG 10:04 PM  

Note that the trend is toward more Thursdays--over the last five years, for example, it's about 50% Thursdays, 30% Sundays, 20% other. (And this pattern holds if you look over various periods up to five years.)

In Australia for The Ashes, a biennial challenge series against England, I saw the following in the newspaper:

Flintoff's endeavor was rewarded with Hayden's scalp when the opener got the best delivery of the morning, a searing leg-cutter that pitched about leg stump, lifted and cut away to force him to edge an easy catch to slip.

I recognized all the words, but (even as an avid North American sports fan) it took me much of my trip to understand what they meant together.

fergus 11:04 PM  

Thanks Seth G for further data observation, re Rebi.

Yet think of a baseball writer describing a tense two-out situation with two on and a man at third with a count two and two to an English audience?

Anonymous 7:50 PM  

I had LAST DREG! SO it gave me "Deaf as A GOAT" for quite awhile. Baaaaah. Not to mention IDL and SEEMAS...student's declare their TIMER?

biomedlives 12:41 PM  

Until I found that it didn't fit with other answers, I thought FREE SOILER was the answer for the
1850s abolitionist.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Urey (54=D) was a gimme (right in the center of the strike zone!) - I met him in 1965 @ UCSD. (Also Stanley Miller, actually.) Another gimme was Ezra (13D) - I started my teaching career at Cornell. 4D ST_S was my entry into the rebus - I was trying to think (17A)of a Dickens character Mr. P_W_ and having no luck - stICKs got me pICKwICK by the cross. I then found I had filled up to almost every rebus square without seeing the rebus. I need to be more attentive to the possibility - thanks for the day-of-the-week tip, Rex et al.

@Zach M. - My very tall daughter once lent a dress to a friend. He never did give it back, even though she asked him several times....

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

I got carried away with the "icks" and had "stick to" for 19 down for some time. Also, I guess the SST crossed the ATL and not the IDL. Did poorly with the French in the corner, too. Otherwise, a fun puzzle.

embien 3:01 PM  

A good Thursday for me. I caught the rebus nearly right away when 11D had to be CH[ICK]EN something or other. Last fill for me was TISCH/CHE cross, but I finished with no errors and no lookups (only recently even started attempting Thursdays)

I need help with the rebuses, though. I recall someone (jannieb?) saying use the Insert key to enter multiple letters in Across Lite, but that doesn't seem to work for me. Can anyone help? I am using v1.2a

luchenchan 3:37 PM  

I always love rebuses. Fun to discover. I had STick to start what ended up STEELY and was very pleased when discovered STEELY.

I think there are too many STICKs in this puzzle. If more than one stick let stick be the theme. If ICK is the theme, one stick is the limit, sez I.

My general beef: I am fluent in four languages, have extensive knowledge of other two. French does not happen to be one of them. If we have to have so many French and Spanish answers, could they not be clued a little more humanely? Or conversely, why not have Urdu or Lithuanian answers? That would chastise the francophiles.

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

@ Luchenchan:

And the number of US constructors who know ANY Urdu or Lithuanian is probably .... In Monty Python phraseology .... nearly ONE.

But an interesting thought.

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