1985 Kate Nelligan title role - WEDNESDAY, Mar. 4, 2009 - C.W. Stewart (Steel helmets with visors / 1980s Geena Davis sitcom / Choice for a dog)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: IN OR OUT - a rebus puzzle where either IN or OUT will work in eight different squares; whole theme is tied together by the central answer, IN OR OUT (39A: Choice for a dog, as well as a hint to this puzzle's theme)

Word of the Day: BASINET - A small, light, rounded steel helmet, terminating in a point and often closed in front with a visor.

Had no idea what was going on with all the slashed clues, so jumped straight to an easy fill-in-the-blank answer, 11D: Kemo _____ (Sabe), and worked from there. Within a few seconds I had the theme at ASK [IN/OUT] (and [IN/OUT] SET. The theme did not make the puzzle difficult. If anything, it made the puzzle easier than it might have been. The difficulty in this puzzle came from non-theme answers I'd never heard of, or clues that were mystifying. BASINETS is the big stumper of the day (29A: Steel helmets with visors). Looks like a misspelling of the things babies sleep in, but it isn't. Turns out I've seen them before, possibly in Monty Python skits. I spent some time as a kid playing D&D and I trained in grad school as a medievalist, and yet somehow I never stumbled across BASINETS. I've also never been to or heard of MALABAR (45D: India's _____ Coast), which wanted first to be MANDALAY and then to be MALOMAR. Then there were some familiar answers in the N and NW with pop culture clues that did Nothing for me. Geena Davis was in a sitcom? In the '80s? I was in the '80s. I remember her as a maid for some family in some obscure sitcom that maybe possibly Julia Louis-Dreyfuss was in ... but I don't remember "SARA" (15A: 1980s Geena Davis sitcom). Unless ... nope, I've never seen THIS:

Turns out, I was getting Geena Davis confused with Courtney Thorne-Smith (who does that?). The Julia Louis-Dreyfuss comedy was "Day by Day" (not to be confused with "Step by Step," dear god):

Also got thrown by 17A: 1985 Kate Nelligan title role (Eleni), as I have never seen the movie, read the book, or had any association with this name, ELENI, except in crosswords, and I intend to keep it that way. ELENI is on my banned-for-life list when I construct. EBOLI is the only other word I can think of on that list.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: Revenue / Result (IN/OUT come)
  • 1D: Fjord / Bargain locale (IN/OUT let)
  • 6A: Many a holiday visitor / Bandit (IN/OUT law)
  • 6D: Foot part / Go beyond (IN/OUT step)
  • 10A: Welcome, as a visitor / Try to make a date with (ask IN/OUT)
  • 13D: Map feature / Start (IN/OUT set)
  • 26A: At a lecture, say / Surpass in quality (IN/OUT class)
  • 26D: Arriving at the tail end / Survive (IN/OUT last)
  • 48A: Sub / Excel (stand IN/OUT)
  • 33D: Submitted, as an entry / Emitted (sent IN/OUT)
  • 67A: Soon to get / Trying to get (IN/OUT for)
  • 52D: '60s protest / Skip, as a dance (sit IN/OUT)
  • 68A: Ushered / Showed to the door (led IN/OUT)
  • 51D: Hit so as to make collapse / Win over (beat IN/OUT)
  • 69A: Attract / Protract (draw IN/OUT)
  • 60D: Tired / Total (all IN/OUT)

I had no problem getting IN OR OUT (39A: Choice for a dog, as well as a hint to this puzzle's theme), but I had a hell of a lot of trouble trying to figure out what it meant. "Choice for a dog?" My dogs do not get to "choose" IN OR OUT. I tell them where to go, and they go. IN OR OUT is much more of a choice for a cat than for a dog. You can let a cat IN or put it OUT and not really have to worry. Dogs, you have to keep track of. For various reasons.

This puzzle is Bibled up tight today, with ABEL (35A: Genesis victim) and LEAH (34A: Daughter of 28-Down) and LABAN (28D: Brother of Rebecca, in the Bible) all in close proximity to each other. I don't mind having my Bible knowledge tested - it's good for me - but I have to call one Bible-related foul today. SLEW (59D: What Cain did to 35-Across) and SLAYS (42A: Has rolling in the aisles) in the same puzzle? I see how you tried to get around their being the Same Verb by cluing the one via comedy, but come on. I can't remember ever seeing two forms of the same verb in one grid. Oh, and BERTS (29D: Some Muppet dolls)? Really? Multiple BERTS? What year is it? If there are Muppet dolls in bulk, they are Elmos.


  • 65A: The Box Tops' "_____ Her in Church" ("I Met") - that sounds wholesome ... or sacrilegious. Let's find out:

  • 5D: Periodicals not brought by a postal carrier (e-zines) - ooh, this goes on the Banned List too.
  • 9D: They may be covered and circled (wagons) - I Love This Clue
  • 54D: Peter at the ivories (Nero) - remembered him, vaguely, but got him briefly confused with Laura NYRO
  • 58D: Marge's TV daughter (Lisa) - Possibly my favorite character on the show, and thus one of my favorite characters ever invented anywhere ever.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS For those who haven't seen it yet, my 2009 Tournament wrap-up can be viewed here.

PPS If you were not at the Tournament but want to get an overall sense of who was there and what it was like, bloggers Ryan Hecht and Brian Cimmet recorded a bunch of interviews while the tourney was in progress, and have assembled those interviews into an hour-long podcast. It's informative and funny, and you can listen to it directly from their website, Ryan and Brian Do Crosswords.


Hungry Mother 8:55 AM  

The in/out theme saved the day for me.

Parshutr 9:06 AM  

The in/out theme was very refreshing, like COLA. Nice to see that LOPEZ wasn't Trini-clued today. I had no idea about ALB/LABAN cross, the B was a lucky guess I guess. Also nice to see TORA clued vis a vis Afghanistan, not Japan/Pearl Harbor., thereby avoiding more Crosswordese.

nanpilla 9:10 AM  

I like most of the IN/OUT clues because they meant two diffent things, not just the opposite. The LED IN/OUT, however, seemed weak. Why didn't they change it to LET IN/OUT, with the clue: admit/alter(as in clothes).
The down would have changed to NEET, easy enough to clue as depilatory brand. Just an idea. Otherwise, a solid Wednesday in which the theme helped a lot with the solving. Having read The Red Tent recently helped with some of the Bible clues.

NinaK 9:12 AM  

Wow, Alfre Woodard and Bill Maher were in that sitcom!

joho 9:16 AM  

@rex: my dog, Riley (see avatar) definitely chooses to be either in or out by tapping his paw on the sliding door just off my office. Or by growling ... or barking.

My husband tried to order a t-shirt that says "Let the dog in, Let the dog out, Let the dog in, and so on down the shirt. But he was not successful as all the shirts were not in stock, but out!

I liked this puzzle. Seemed very Wednesdayish. This week has been great so far. I'm looking forward to tomorrow!

Glitch 9:18 AM  

Have to disagree with today's writeup, probably a classic case of age difference / life experience.

Found this puzzle very (almost too) easy, not even a "one cupper".

Saw the rebus right off the bat (1A),and using the "rules of symmetry", the corners and mids fell pretty much as I got to them.

A lot of "gimmes" gave me reasonable access to the more obscure answers via crosses, just them them fill themselves in, and didn't over think them as they appeared --- I do that analysis after I'm done.


xyz 9:20 AM  

Novice alert *First Rebus*.

Recognized it very early and the in/out certainly made it easier to finish somewhat quickly. I didn't care that I fouled up a couple of Bible clues, I took some pride in that I solved it and only missed three guessed letters.

Sort of a victory for some of us who would never have had a clue 2 1/2 months ago ....


Kurisu 9:21 AM  

Lots of wrong answers today, although the puzzle was fairly easy:

Death to EZINES.

foodie 9:29 AM  

I like it when a theme reveals the quirks of the language. The way English uses particles to transform a meaning is one of the mystifying features for the non-native speaker. Look at the way SIT IN/SIT OUT is clued...

The theme did make it a lot easier for me. Still, I had some rough spots-- Messed up the LABAN-LEAH intersection (wanted LIBAN). Y'all know these people and their relationships? That was my Natick.

RodeoToad 9:32 AM  

I remembered a Geena Davis sitcom from the 80s, but I thought it was called "Angie," and when that wouldn't fit I thought maybe the show had used a cute spelling, so I filled in "Angi." Turns out there was a show called "Angie" in 1979-1980, starring Donna Pescow [?] about a waitress in a Philadelphia coffee shop, probably an "Alice" ripoff. I used to watch that crap gleefully.

"Smokey and the Bandit" was a huge event in my childhood, one of the first movies I saw in a theater and certainly the raciest one I'd seen up to that time. A 1977 Trans-Am is still the only car I can identify with 100% certainty.

I did the puzzle on paper and never know what to do with those trick squares. (Don't know what to do with them on AcrossLite either, for that matter.)

Rex Parker 9:39 AM  

"Angie" was a mid-90s Geena Davis MOVIE.


Anonymous 9:41 AM  

Loved it loved it loved it! Yes, I got the theme almost immediately,and yes, it was very easy after that but such fun and so clever--good way to start the day. Wade, I just put in an X and hope I remember what it stood for (I do the puzzle on line only).

HudsonHawk 9:53 AM  

@nanpilla, I also had issues with 68A, but probably because I confidently wrote in SAW IN/OUT first without crosses. Then changed it to LET before I looked at 56D. NEEDless to say, that last square in 56D is a big blob of ink in my paper (it's hard to write a D over a W and a T). OK puzzle. I was momentarily tripped up by TESTED/TASTED at 49D.

Do rebus puzzles ever make it into the ACPT?

Kurisu 9:53 AM  

Re: BASINETS, I learned that one from video games -- role-playing games often need a lot of different words for armor and weapons in order to give you stronger and stronger equipment throughout the game, so they employ all kinds of technical and obscure words like BASINET.

Ulrich 9:59 AM  

@joho: I'm with you re. the quality of this week's puzzles so far and found this one particularly easy for a Wednesday b/c the rebus was so easy to get.

@hudsonhawk: Yes. Last year's Sunday puzzle was a rebus with the old directional spiel (up, down, right, left--easily drawn with arrows).

Xavier 10:00 AM  

This puzzle was a homerun in my book. I got the theme the second time I ran across it. Sure it made the puzzle easy, but it felt so natural. I loved NRA clued as a civil liberties union when it is in such stark contrast to the more common (in my world) ACLU.

@redanman, Congratulations on your first rebus! I was just telling some friends that rebus puzzle are pretty much guaranteed to show up on Thursdays or Sundays, because he just got his first rebus (a syndicated Thursday, I think).


Anonymous 10:06 AM  

clockwork orange?

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

clockwork orange?

Jeffrey 10:07 AM  

I'm pretty sure the "obscure" sitcom that had Geena Davis as a maid for a few episodes was Family Ties.

This was a cool puzzle. Good week so far.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Wade - I use shift+asterisk, which gives an open circle.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

I was about to call a Bible Foul, the crossing of two biblical names where neither made any sense, at LE_S crossing L_BAN. Then noticed that I didn't know how to spell MINORAH, so at least LEAH was inferable, being the only possible answer. Still think crossing two biblical names constitutes a Bible Foul.

Doug 10:20 AM  

I really liked this puzzle. I scanned it early in the a.m., sort of clueless for about a minute or two. Started like Rex with Kimo Sabe. Got the theme a couple of sips of coffee later, and then it went fairly smoothly. I didn't get basinets until almost the end, and had to fill it in backwards. Ster was appropriately the last word I filled in -- right below the inorout. Beautifully designed. I just guessed at alb.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

I was more than momentarily tripped up by TASTED/TESTED. I needed Rex to point out my error. Clearly I don't know my non-Judaeo-Christian Gods that well, because BAEL seemed as reasonable as BAAL. My excuse: Root Canal Phase 3b Brain Fog.

The nuances of Geena Davis' 1980s career are a mystery to me. You know, I'm foreign.

Two Ponies 10:27 AM  

What a fun surprise today. I was impressed by the number of theme answers. Bible clues make my eyes glaze over as I know most of my Bible clues from crosswords. Luckily they were easy from the crosses.
Well said Foodie. Ah, the quirks of English.
Luckily my dogs have their own swinging door but I remember asking the question plenty of times before we got that wonderful device.
@ Anon 10:06 I can hear Alex(?) saying something about "the old in & out."

addie loggins 10:29 AM  

Solved this puzzle on the computer this morning, as we have 4 inches of snow here in Reno and the NYT doesn't get delivered when there is snow :( I couldn't figure out how to type the in/out in a single square (I do now -- thanks smev!)but by my own account it was one of my fastest Wednesdays ever (more than 2 minutes faster than yesterday). So I am pleased.

I even got LABAN correct, which was a total guess. EZINES: Kinda' stupid(along with ETAIL), but ever more common these days. And it confirmed LOPEZ for me, so I guess today at least I am grateful for it. I didn't see the movie, but ELENI is a terrific book (which is one reason I didn't see the movie -- I hate it when the movie fails to live up to the book, see, e.g., The Legend of Baggar Vance, Bonfire of the Vanities).

It always seems a bit weird to me when the long answers aren't part of the theme. Is that common with rebuses?

Overall, a pleasant way to start my day, which moves next to a slow and scary drive to work through the snow.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

@29A: I knew the word basinet from reading about Shakespeare, but even with Google am unable to locate Shakespeare actually using the word in a play. Can anyone find a citation? The front piece of the helmet (that guards the face) is the Beaver (eg Hamlet Act1, Scene 2, line 245)

I thought the puzzle was a lot of fun and perfect for a Wednesday.

retired_chemist 10:40 AM  

Very Wednesday. And fun. Took me longer than it should have, though.

I lost a little time trying to figure out how to put IN/OUT as appropriate in Across Lite, then finally gave up and just used IN. But I was slow anyway.

Apparently BASINET and BASSINET have the same French origin, for all you etymologists out there......... Baby in a BASINET sleeping in a BASSINET. What a visual!

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Refreshing to get a gimmick puzzle on a Wednesday, even though it wasn't especially tough. I get jaded by the same old themes.


Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Who in haal is Baal? Didn't catch my error until I came here. Very clever puzzle, though. Put in basinets and thought, "that can't be right."

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

I really liked it - it had a little bite with some clever clues. I liked the rebus - the way it was laid out and used adjoining words.

I thought many of the same things as Rex, especially basinet. I wonder if it was named that because its shape, which looks like a little basin turned upside-down.

I liked the use of slew-slay-Abel-able. I've never seen that happen before. For awhile , I was thinking about a type of dog to choose rather than choice for a dog. And I mentioned Julia Louis-Dreyfuss yesterday. I don't remember Day by Day at all or that show with Geena Davis.

jeff in chicago 10:51 AM  

Really liked this one. Got the theme quickly (with ASKIN/OUT) and cranked it out. I did it in Across Lite and I have I's in some squares and O's in others. It was whatever answer popped into my head first. BASINETS was definitely new to me.

The "Sara" clip was amazing. Alfre Woodard, Bill Maher, Bronson Pinchot, a very young Matthew Lawrence ("Boy Meets World"), one of the Hudson Brothers. I have no memory of this show. Of course, I was in college at the time, and thus probably not in the target audience.

I'm one of those who might quibble about the NRA clue. Civil liberty? Hmmm. And the clue for BAAL. False god? Is there any other kind? (Perhaps I reveal too much about myself.) But this constructor clearly likes his bible clues. Not a problem. I actually knew all of them, and did NOT learn them from crosswords.

Rex Parker 10:52 AM  

It has been called to my attention that BAEL is an accepted alternate spelling of BAAL, which means that either "A" or "E" works perfectly in that square.

Def. of BAAL (BAEL) here.


Anonymous 10:53 AM  

There were three answers that bothered me:

1. Technically, it is "It is either you OR I" not "OR ME". Right? The pronouns follow "is". "It is I," so "It is either you or I." Sounds awkward, but after this article, getting me/I correct should be mandatory:


2. The NRA as a civil liberties group is perhaps acceptable, but strangely political. I think your agreement with this clue turns on whether you think gun control laws are a good idea.

3. People who still worship Baal must have been annoyed to find out they were praying to a false god.

With all the Bible clues, the NRA answer, and the Baal clue, this puzzle felt... strangely like it belonged on the Op-Ed page more than puzzle page.

But maybe I'm just being nit-picky.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

@Jae - Okay, we have reached consensus - I did not like Borat.

@Retired Chemist - It's just that flat statements without context sometimes sound hard. But generally I agree.

santafefran 11:00 AM  

A very clever, enjoyable puzzle for me.

I always have trouble with the spelling of ADAMANT, wanting to insert an e for the second a so just thought NRE was some obscure civil liberties group until coming here. Doh!

Don't INLAWS become OUTLAWS after a divorce?

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

@ andrea carla michaels
A note from the past in a way.
Yesterday in Syndiland I did the Jan 27 puzzle (BORN homonyms). I'm here today to say
Even if I don't catch the whole theme - yesterday I only got the MILLE BORNES and BOURNE as I was finishing - there's fun in the extra wordplay. And I noticed related answers: for MILLE BORNES (once I googled to see what it was) I noticed SEDAN, PROWL CAR, and RAGTOPS. for JASON BOURNE saw AGENT, ACT ONE (they got how many movies out of that?)and I ROBOT (similarities of dilemma)
I got a bit upset at the suggestions to do away with themes. To what end? since I don't see the themeless being any better in their clues, fill, etc, why take out that extra wordplay? If a given theme isnt' fun for a solver, how has it hurt him? Grrr.
I did agree the clue for TESTER and the answer AIR TASER were questionable, but have seen equally bad in themeless puzzles.
As I write this, I've been thinking of starting a Movement to Require Themes in All Crosswords. It would need a slogan. The best I've come up with is NO THEME NO GOOD. Blah,guess I'll forget that.

PS I could happily do without long quotes as themes.Too difficult when there is no way to fill all those blanks except by crosses. Just once the quote was funny enough to be worth the trouble.

mac 11:07 AM  

What a fun Wednesday! I left my pencil in the room so had to do it in pen, and am I good at almost invisibly making a d out of a t (68A)....

@nanpilla: I had a little stumble there as well. Read the Red Tent a few years ago (not great) and maybe that was the reason some of the biblical names came so easily.

@foodie: Maybe there should be a categorie "Non-Native-Speakers" at the ACPT!

I never saw those two series, but I may have been out of the country at the time. For me Geena Davis will always be my favorite Commander-in-Chief. Thorne-Smith seemed to be the beginning of all those annoying double-named starlets, male and female.

Sharon 11:12 AM  

Wonder why my "theme puzzles rule" comments posted as anonymous.

PlantieBea 11:12 AM  

I enjoyed doing this puzzle, but it took me a while to get the theme. However, I breezed through once I finally filled in IN OR OUT. Found errors in OPAL/ELANI spelling and the now not-wrong TESTED/BAEL crossing. Thanks for the clarification on the latter, Rex.

Agree that reading "The Red Tent" helped with the Biblical names.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

BAAL is fairly well-known, although the "Lord of the Fly" variant Beelzebub is much better known in English.

The OED does not list any Shakespeare quotation for BASINET. Curiously enough, there doesn't seem to be a fixed spelling until the late 1800s.

LEAH is certainly a famous Biblical figure.

jae 11:17 AM  

Sort of indifferent to this one. Got the theme early so it was fairly easy but I kept putting in the wrong answers at first (SODA, AUDI, SAW, DRAG,...). Maybe it was a bit to biblical for my TASTE.

In an earlier life we had a dog and 2 cats. I often told people I was a doorman in a pet hotel.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Can someone explain how tired = all in? How is this typically used?

Adam Winer 11:18 AM  

For an ELENI that is worth an association, how 'bout Eleni Mandell:


Shamik 11:23 AM  

@santafefran: Nope. INLAWS don't always become OUTLAWS in a divorce. But then I've been blessed with great inlaws all the way around.

Only reason I'm not fond of rebus puzzles is that I do them in Across Lite where one needs to stop, click edit/insert/multiple letters. Slows down the time. ; )

The only time I ever heard a Box Tops song it was "The Letter." For 2:43 it was excruciating to listen to "I Met Her In Church." Kept waiting for it to end or improve. Kind of like watching "2000 Miles to Graceland." This song was a SIDEB/BSIDE if ever i heard one.

As for SARA, I vaguely remember liking that show, though couldn't readily come up with the name. Off to watch the clip.

Greene 11:33 AM  

Arrgh! One letter wrong in the grid. For 49D I put TESTED, which gave me BAEL for 51A. Having never heard of BAAL or BAEL, it seemed ok to me. Turns out that BAEL is a legit alternate spelling of BAAL. Still and all, TASTED is a better answer than TESTED. At least the rebus was a breeze. Agree that doing rebus puzzles in Across Lite can be a bit of a pain.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Neat rebus puzzle -- I think it's been a while since we've seen one, even longer since there was a rebus on a Wednesday. My first thought on 1D:[IN/OUT]LET was KANYON, used in Israel for a shopping mall (from the verb KANA = bought, but with a pun on "canyon"). As it happens it was the SE corner where I first figured out what was going on.

Apropos Hebrew, 28D:LABAN (modern Hebrew "Lavan") means "white"; the familiar "Edom" (not in this puzzle) is basically "red"; and 51A:BAAL [neat that BAeL/TeSTED would have worked too -- a theme for another puzzle? Anyway, add that to the Biblical theme] usually means "owner" or "husband". And 34A:LEAH is "tired", which you may be getting with this digression. Oh, and I wonder whether Anonymous 10:20's minor misspelling "minorah" is intentional...

I wondered too about 42A:SLAYS and 59D:SLEW, especially since the latter could have been clewed as a noun (albeit losing the connection with 35A:ABEL).

@Nanpilla: another solution for 68A:LET[IN/OUT] is to change IMET to INST, forming ORNE (a French river or départment) and NEST at 55D and 56D.

@Yossarian: I think "or me" can be justified in some contexts, e.g. "I wonder who(m) the boss will fire -- is it you or me?" (since if I get the nod the boss will "fire me", not "fire I", while "you" works as either subject or object).

On to Thursday,

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

@NDE - I had entered MINORAS as the holiday display, which was led to my confusion. Had I spelled MINORAH correctly, I wouldn't have been faced with LE_S but with LE_H, from which I could have guessed the missing A.

re I/Me - I was always taught that one had to look at the implied rest of the phrase. In this case, it would be "Is it you or I(me) that he will fire", in which case I is preferable. I recall SethG posting a link some time ago about these types of gramatical questions, the gist of which was while you may be technically correct, the language has changed and get used to it.

pete1123 11:46 AM  

I couldn't find a clip of it, but I love Ry Cooder's version of "Coast of MALABAR" with the Chieftans. Can I get an "amen" on that?

archaeoprof 11:56 AM  

@Rex: thank you, thank you, for the Who "Squeeze Box" clip.

Xavier 11:58 AM  

@Yossarian, personally I get more irked when people incorrectly say things like "They gave the gift to Chris and I," when it should be "They gave the gift to Chris and me." At least when someone says "It's either you or me" they are not making a conscious effort to get it right.

Also, regarding NRA, if you are willing to allow that a civil liberties org. is one that fights to protect rights granted by the constitution (and its amendments) then this answer is not controversial.


Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Ba'al (BAAL) was the main god of the Phoenicians and therefore of Hannibal, the general who crossed the Alps with the elephants in an attempt to destroy ancient Rome.

Unknown 12:03 PM  

I queried...
I TESTED the water
I TASTED the water
After a quick review, I went with TESTED as being a better sub for tried, but I was thinking checking the temperature or the more philosophical trying something out.
I agree on the 'Red Tent' reviews, but it reminds me, (this is for you Chefbeet (sic)), the Dining In section in the NYT today has a great recipe to try involving the unmentionable veggie.

fikink 12:06 PM  

After Tellicherry, Mr. Fikink seems most often to use MALABAR peppercorns in his kitchen concoctions.

Kurisu 12:13 PM  

The idea that "...or I" is preferable to "...or me" is a fairly arbitrary rule; "It is me" or "It is him" is not a new construction. A search of mastertexts shows that is was used by Shakespeare, Dickens, Hardy, and Stevenson.

Doc John 12:19 PM  

I liked the puzzle but the number of theme answers made it easier. Once I figured it out, just find where two cross and put in IN/OUT. There were a couple of toughies like BASINET and ELENI (got that one thru the crosses but was doubting myself right up until I came here.)

To the poster who asked about ALL IN: it is basically a synonym for tired. Here's a lame joke about it:
Q: How would you get into your house if you were locked out?
A: I'd run around it until I was ALL IN.
(Group groan)

So what's wrong with "Step by Step"? Any show that has a rollercoaster (Magic Mountain's Colossus) as a prominent part of its opening can't be ALL bad! ;) (That was made even more interesting by substituting the big parking lot that's really next to it by a seashore.)

As for "Angie", Doris Roberts was in it and that alone made it worth watching!

edith b 12:28 PM  

I knew this was going to be a rebus but I didn't know what form it would take and I really like the way it played itself out, half front end, half back end.

Eleni reminds me of My Dark Places by James Ellroy as both books deal with the murder of the author's mother and both books are heart-breaking and gut-wrenching in their pursuit of the truth of "what happened.".

Very different books but both worth the effort.

Campesite 12:31 PM  

BAAL/MALABAR crossing tilted toward Thursday-Friday level.

I wish I could have made it to the tourney this year--sounds like another wonderful time. Rex, please let us know about the upcoming SoCal event.

Two Ponies 12:43 PM  

Re: me vs. I Did the clue make you miss the answer? If the answer is no ....then you might be too picky.
@ jeff in chicago As usual I agree with you. Whether Baal or your invisible friend in the sky it's all the same to me.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Baal/Bael was thoroughly discussed the last time he appeared a few months ago - with the exact same clue, I believe. I still find this clue to be distinctly Judeo-Christian in slant. Who is to decide which Gods are true and which are false?

Anybody who doesn't get the dog connection to "in or out" has never stood at their back door in subzero weather grunting to an indecisive dog "OK you DECIDE - IN OR OUT", I'm cold.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

I'm a relative newbie to completing Times puzzles online. How does one get it to accept the solution to this puzzle? I know to hit the + key to enter multiple letters in the same square, but this one requires at least 5 letters (inout?) and the + key only allows 4 letters. I've tried all 'in's, all 'out's, half 'in's/half 'out's (as in Rex's solution on the blog), but it won't accept my solution. I checked my solution against Rex's and don't see anything that's wrong.

miriam b 1:17 PM  

I zipped through this puzzle in a trice just prior to taking my new cat,********************************************************************************************* Polly Dactyl, to the vet for shots. I'd been apprehensive about getting her into the carrier, so I donned a BASINET, a beaver, and a gorget as well as a pair of gauntlets; but I was pleasantly surprised to find her very compliant. I have even allowed her to contribute to this post.

Back to the puzzle: I'm in awe of the constructor's feat.

BTW, when I see LABAN I think first of the Armenian yogurt and water drink.

chefbea 1:17 PM  

I too started out with sabe and got the theme right away.

Going to make bread today with my new bread-maker.
while it's baking I will read the food section of the NYtimes.Yummm

Bob Kerfuffle 1:25 PM  

@Rex - IMHO, no responsible cat owner ever lets the cat out. (The life expectancy of an indoor cat is eighteen years. The life expectancy of an outdoor cat is eighteen months.)

Just two write-overs today: SODA before COLA and TESTED before TASTED.

Today is my turn to be ungrateful. Like Rex, I didn't get the theme at first and worked my way in with a few crosses. After I "got it" across the North, I wondered, "What clever alternatives come next?" But as every x/y answer kept coming up in/out, I was internally screaming, "Enough already! Make it stop!" (Sixteen theme answers!) There's just no pleasing some people!

Chip Hilton 1:28 PM  

I was stumped at the MALABAR/BAAL intersection, so went with MARABAR, thinking of the Marabar Caves in 'A Passage to India'. Also left guessing at LABAN/ALB. Sorry, too much religion for this man Chip.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

@Anon 10:20 -- while there's really no correct way to spell the Hebrew word מנורה in English, the standard transliteration (and the one used in today's puzzle) is mEnorah -- whence my "mInor" wordplay.

Re Me vs. I, I was suggesting that "It is ..." itself stands for something else (since I'm not an "it"), and in context it might naturally stand for an object rather than a subject. In any case, as others have observed, "it's me" is by now idiomatic, even if technically incorrect; cf. "I could care less".


Anonymous 1:31 PM  

@Two ponies: It didn't keep me from getting the answer, but as the son of a writing teacher--and as someone who can't believe some of the assaults on grammar committed by his well-educated and generally fairly erudite law students--I've become a bit neurotic about these kinds of things. But I also posted that comment before I finished my first cup of tea, so odds are I was a bit cranky.

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

i figured out the theme pretty quickly but could not figure out how to get "in/out" in the one square when using across lite. could someone please explain that for the next time i need to put more than (1) letter in a square.

Two Ponies 1:37 PM  

It's OK Yossarian, I get that way too. (Love your name BTW)
Besides, we can always depend on NDE to help us get it straight.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

@NDE I can't believe two things
1: I actually spelled it MINORAH in my post,
2: I didn't catch your joke.

It's been a real bad day.

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

I saw 49D.tried as "subjected to a trial" so thought tested was a better answer than tasted.

Unknown 2:10 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - I could say that no real cat lover could keep such free-spirited animals cooped up indoors all day. But that would be rude and presumptuous. Really I think it depends where you live, and none of my cat's lives have been shortened by going outside.

Not sure if it's been mentioned, but the INSERT key lets you type multiple letters into a box.

I had BANABAR instead of MALABAR. I knew the word, but not where it was. BEAT sounded like it could be some 60s version of 'gist', and BAEN sounded plausible!

I go for 'it is me'. 'it' is the subject here I think. You wouldn't say 'it irks I'

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

You have to hit the + key once to add 2 letters to a square and twice to add 3 letters to a square, so you would have to type +IN or ++OUT for each answer. But don't go by me. I had LET IN instead of LED IN for 68A and it drove me crazy so I broke down & checked it here. Then after changing that one square and proofing the entire puzzle, it still said it was incorrect online. Maybe the IN/OUT thing is messing up the online scoring?

chefwen 3:08 PM  

I had no trouble at all with this puzzle except for the BAAL/BAEL write over and I too knew MALABAR from the peppercorns. Enjoyable Wednesday and looking forward to Thursday.

Had to keep the kitties in when we were living in the middle of coyote country, but here there are no preditors and Paddy is enjoying life to the max.

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

If you liked this puzzle (as we did), try the 2006 NY Times Sunday puzzle that used a similar gimmick . . ."Light Thinking" of 4/30/06

{sorry, i can't figure out how to post a link)

evil doug 3:52 PM  

All I can think about is In-n-Out burgers. If you're ever out west, particularly in coastal SoCal, go in for some really fine fast food burgers, fries and shakes.


Anonymous 4:09 PM  

Clockwork Orange: The Quote is " No time for the old In N Out ,luv; Ive just come to read the meter!"

Anonymous 4:21 PM  

Maybe your cats' lives haven't been shortened, but if they still have their claws, you can bet that plenty of baby birds have had their lives shortened by those cats. Cats and downtown glass office buildings have a huge impact on wild bird populations.

Rex Parker 4:25 PM  

Does anyone know a good cat blog I can direct people to...?


Margaret 4:35 PM  

For multiple letters in Across Lite, I just hit the Escape key and type in as many letters as I need in the pop up box.

I've been looking (and looking forward) to a rebus as it feels like a long time since we had one. This one was mildly amusing but too easy once you got the theme.

imsdave 4:36 PM  

@Nanpilla and Noam - the big problem with the LETIN/OUT change at 68A, is that it is the inverse of 1D which I think is a nono.

Nice puzzle with good theme density and minimal crap fill.

I solve on paper, and when I get a rebus, I just black out the square.

retired_chemist 4:48 PM  

@ Rex: you missed the cockroach etc. discussion - perhaps you could find a cockroach blog too. Or maybe there is a combined cat/cockroach blog....

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

imsdave @4:36 is right -- I missed that forest for the trees. It would be fine (indeed wonderful) if each theme answer was reversed like that, but there are probably not enough such double pairs (e.g. inlet/outlet & let in / let out) to make an entire puzzle. NDE

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

Shift + Insert is what works for me in the rebus squares. No limit, apparently, on how many letters you can enter.

Anonymous 6:08 PM  

Sorry - Ctrl + Insert is what works for me.

Anonymous 7:03 PM  

Excellent puzzle, C.W., and that 4/30/06 Gorski is very nice, as well (here's a link to the puzzle: http://select.nytimes.com/premium/xword/Apr3006.puz and one to the solution: http://www.xwordinfo.com/ShowPuzzle.aspx?date=4/30/2006&g=4&d=A).

Gotta love that the rebus is creeping earlier into the week. Will there ever be a Monday rebus?

Great meeting some of you at the ACPT (would you pronounce that ack-putt?).


miriam b 7:07 PM  


Maybe there is a cat/cockroach blog, because there certainly is such a story - Don Marquis' book about archy the cockroach and his feline friend mehitabel. The book is a series of observations typed by archy, who writes in lower case because he can't depress the cap key. I guess he's a garden-variety cockroach rather than one of those humongous ones some of us have encountered.

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

It's nice to see all the letters typed in and all, but you can get the applet to accept your solution if you only type the first letter of the rebus word. I find getting the full words entered to be more trouble than it's worth.

Anonymous 7:19 PM  

Well, I kept thinking "nra" can't possibly be the answer, could it? Then I saw that it was, conceded the logic, and made a face.

retired_chemist 7:33 PM  

@ miriam b -

You rock! Thanks for reminding me of archy and mehitabel. wotthehell wotthehell. toujours gai!

miriam b 7:45 PM  


there's a dance in the old dame yet

retired_chemist 7:54 PM  

@ miriam b - memory lane in spades. next you will tell me you live in shinbone alley.

joho 8:02 PM  

@rex: your cat blog comment is priceless.

@imsdave: I solve on paper,too, and just write really tiny in those rebus squares. Funny how we all do it our own way.

@evil doug: In-N-Out Burger is my favorite!!!! Oh how I wish we had them in the Cincinnati area. Nobody knows what I'm talking about.

jae 8:29 PM  

I'm with Bob Kerfuffle and Margaret. The reason this one left me a little meh is that I was looking for more after getting the theme early on. There wasn't any.

Anonymous 8:45 PM  

There was a parody of shinbone in one of the 1940's Sherlock Holmes movies. It was refered to as Fishbone alley.

retired_chemist 8:59 PM  

I am going mad here with the archy thread. I cannot find "toujours gai, tojours gai, and let who will be clever" via google. My Don Marquis stuff was lost about 3 moves ago. Did I make that quote up?

Not crossowrd related but, to me, WONDERFUL reminiscence.

chefwen 9:10 PM  

mmmmm! In n' out Burger. What I miss about So Cal. The above Burger joint, Rubios, and El Polo Loco. What I don't miss - traffic.

jeff in chicago 9:30 PM  

"cat blog" gets 892,000 Google hits. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

mac 10:46 PM  

retired-chemist and Miriam: it sounds like a match made in heaven.

I just signed up to support Peter Gordon in his quest to produce more Sun-quality puzzles. Rex recommends them, as well, just click on his mention in the sidebar.

mac 10:47 PM  

P.S., in an earlier comment, I got so carried away about my non-native-speaker status that I spelled category the Dutch way....

Anonymous 1:18 AM  

it's ok, you should see all the ways it's spelled on the cat blog!

Too tired to write but wanted to thank Sharon for the big back up on the whole theme thing...

Speaking of which, I LOVED this puzzle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

@Jim in Chicago (not to be confused with Jeff in Chicago)

E_X_A_C_T_L_Y...it brought back so many memories of my beloved Aggie and standing at the back door, freezing, asking "IN OR OUT???" after she had been whining and scratching and when the door opened standing there so indecisively...
she was a good girl.

MALABAR (which I didn't know) also reminded me of MALOMAR and I was going to tell my Malomar story again just to irk the mean man who said I've begun to repeat my stories, but I don't think I will...

I started to put in LANCE for LABAN
how embarrassing is THAT?

liquid el lay 3:23 AM  

GOMEZ was hanging around until OPEL showed up and prefered LOPEZ.

SLAYS taught me that ILSES spells with the S before the L.

I changed BAAL to BAEL to accomodate TESTED which had to be right. Couldn't see TASTED.(Though I would have used solution A had I seen it, I think solution B, BAEL x TESTED, is best)

I read some where-
Zen cat: Door closed, come in; door open, stay out!

xyz 1:46 PM  


Thanks, technically "First rebus recognized and used to finish ASAP"

All you cat folks - keep your domesticated cat indoors, spay, do not declaw. Our black cat (the one in the cardboard box in my avatar) is Foster aka lucky cat as he was rescued from a foster home. Ignoramuses (ignoramii??) in the US think of black cats as bad luck, but in the UK they are good luck. Foster is indeed Good Luck.

Rex, be thankful it's cat people, not chimpanzee people ....

Megan P 8:25 AM  

This is a test, this is only a test.

Megan P 8:30 AM  


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