Final words of Numbers 5:22 — THURSDAY, Aug. 20 2009 — Old comic strip "* an' Slats" / Dickens creep / PDQ Bach's Sanka Cantata

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
(Medium for me, but rebuses are notorious time-killers and always befuddle a significant chunk of the audience, so I'm shifting the rating up a notch)

THEME: PARALLELOGRAM (36A: What's revealed by connecting the special squares in this puzzle in order)
— a rebus puzzle where numbers 1-5 (respectively) appear in five squares throughout the puzzle. Connect 'em -> PARALLELOGRAM

Word of the Day: ASTERISM (12D: Constellation) n.

  1. Printing. Three asterisks in a triangular formation used to call attention to a following passage.
  2. Astronomy. A cluster of stars smaller than a constellation. [ed. so ... NOT a [Constellation] ...]
  3. Mineralogy. A six-rayed starlike figure optically produced in some crystal structures by reflected or transmitted light.

Favorite Clue of the Day: 14A: The fool in "A fool and his money are soon parted" (antecedent) — complete and utter WIN. Stymied me for a while. When I got it, I actually said "wow" out loud.

Nothing like the avant-garde work of Liz Gorski to breathe some life and excitement back into the week. If the geometric metaphor weren't inapt, I'd call this puzzle "loopy." This is a hey-look-what-I-can-do puzzle that is actually entertaining. For some reason it reminds me of the part in the movie "Airplane" where a staff member with air traffic control (Johnny) is handed a paper and asked "what do you make of this?" and he starts folding it up and saying "Well I can make a hat, or a brooch, or a pterodactyl ..." Or a PARALLELOGRAM. Why not?

There were scads of weird ("loopy," I say) answers that I'd never seen before that all still seemed to work somehow, e.g. BE ORIGINAL and I DON'T DRIVE and [FOUR]-DAY (51A: Nice kind of work week? Nice? I was looking for something French). My wife is currently held up by the oddly-clued if totally gettable AMEN AMEN (37D: Final words of Numbers 5:22). She currently has the puzzle down to a few blank squares, but she's totally in the woods on this answer. Understandably doesn't know that damned sprinter, IRENA (41A: _____ Szewinska, Olympic sprinting gold medalist of 1964, 1968 and 1976) and has misspelled Uriah HEEP as HEAP (61A: Dickens creep). Further, she clearly hasn't worked out [FOUR]DAY yet, but she knows there's a rebus involved. This is all to say that what she really wants for 37D is "AM I NOT A MAN?" (where somehow "OTA" is rebused into one square?). Sounds more 1960's Selma, AL than biblical to me. Maybe the crosswordesey (and biblical) "IS IT I?" is running interference in her brain.

The rebuseseses:

  • 15D: Be an utter bore? (dr ONE) — first thought: something with a cow. Then I realized that "utter" wasn't, in fact, spelled "udder."
  • 20A: Toddler's attire (ONE sie) — clue that first tipped me to the theme.

  • 13D: Best Director of 1992 and 2004 (Eas TWO od) — easily the best rebus answer of the day. If I have any complaint today, it's that too many of the numbers are used *as numbers* in their answers.
  • 21A: Time for potty training, maybe (age TWO) — my least favorite rebus answer.

  • 53A: G.M., Ford and Chrysler (Big THREE)
  • 55D: School basics (3 R's)
  • 51A: Nice kind of work week (FOUR-day)
  • 41D: How mini-pizzas are usually cut (in FOUR ths)

  • 22A: Rests (takes FIVE)
  • 24D: Like the symmetry of a starfish (FIVE fold) — makes me think of the band Ben Folds Five. I really want to play a Ben Folds cover of a Dr. Dre song right here, because it's beautiful, but the song is so profane that even the title would annoy some of you, so I'll just direct you here. Again, profane as a mother@#$#er, so Do Not Click Through if that's not your scene.

Gotta wrap this up, as I got up late (power outage screwed with all the clocks and I failed to reset them properly).

  • 7A: Easter flower, in Is-sur-Tille (lis) — as in "fleur-de-"
  • 18A: Humanoid trees in Tolkien (ents) — big old gimme
  • 25A: Chorus line opener (tra) — man, I wanted "ONE" so bad. I could see that "Chorus Line" was not in quotation marks, so the clue was not about the broadway musical, and yet "ONE" was hard for me to shake. Yeah, I know, it's the finale, not the "opener."

  • 27A: Handel cantata "_____ e Leandro" (Ero) — "Hero and Leander" is a familiar poem to me; otherwise this answer might have crushed me.
  • 23D: Beer from upstate New York (Saranac)! Wow. Do people know this? I live upstate, so SARANAC's all over the place, but I have no idea what kind of reach it has outside the region.
  • 33D: _____ cloud (region of comets far beyond Pluto) (Oort) — learned it from xwords. A great word/name.
  • 36D: P.D.Q. Bach's "Sanka Cantata" and such (parodies) — never listen to him, but I know what he does, so PARODIES was a cinch. Got it off the "P."
  • 38D: Albanian coin (lek) — this came easily. Not sure why I know this, when I can't keep my int'l monetary units straight to save my life. You say RIAL, I say BHAT, etc.
  • 44D: 1958 #1 song with the lyric "Let's fly way up to the clouds" ("Volare") — more easy. Got it off the "V." VOLARE means "to fly."
  • 48D: Old comic strip "_____ an' Slats" ("Abbie") — like OORT, learned it from xwords. Was able to get it off the "A," though I was pretty tentative about the answer til the crosses came.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


dk 9:05 AM  

Knew the beer from my years in VT and upstate NY.

Had one and not TRA.

Spelled Parallelogram with an a not an o.

Solved this 1 from the bottom-up and once I had 1SIE (first 1set), AGE2 and BIG3 I got 36A.

The Northwest slowed me down as I was focused on you know oil, bubblin crude, texas tea.

Medium-Challanging for me

I guess BEORIGINAL is what constructors are told as well.

Bravo Ms. Gorski

dk 9:05 AM  

I am one and two: woo woo

joho 9:16 AM  

If anybody can BEORIGINAL it's Elizabeth Gorski. This puzzle was a blast. Not only a rebus, my favorite, but I got to draw on it, too!

I got it at EAST(TWO)WOOD pretty quickly, so that helped a lot. I filled in (FOUR)DAY because I already had ONE,TWO and THREE in place.

Absolutely loved this one, should it be up for an ORYX?

@dk ... if I come in 3rd, what's that make me, chopped liver?

retired_chemist 9:17 AM  

I really enjoyed this one. Lots that wasn’t obvious but nothing obscure that wasn’t covered in the crosses.

Weaknesses: The parallelogram, frankly, isn’t. The 4, 5, and 1 are not really in a straight line, so the figure is actually a pentagon with one very short side (the 5 => 1 connection). But only a pedant would care, and I will forgive the lapse. I do not understand “fool” as an ANTECEDENT in 14A. That doesn’t seem to fit the dictionary definition.

Saw 4 DAY and BIG 3 as possibilities @ 51A and 53A – oh yeah, a Thursday rebus. Cool. Then looked for the other numbers and found them fairly easily. Is 1SIE/ONESIE (20A) now a crossword staple? I think I have seen it three times in the last two weeks.

Had IRINA Szewinska @ 41A to start – that made 37D AMIN AMEN, but I doubted that IDI AMIN was mentioned in Numbers 5:22. Fixed: IRENA.

Don’t ask me how I knew NED (Washington, 6D), LEK (38D), ENTS (18A), ABBIE (and Slats) @ 48D, picked GAOLS first @ 35A, and got the OORT cloud easily @ 33D from OO??. That takes a mind like Fibber McGee’s closet.

Fun answers, nicely clued: EAS(two)OD, WESSON, ICE SKATERS.

Thanks, Ms. Gorski.

Alex 9:20 AM  

I liked the puzzle but feel the theme is busted in that the 4-5-1 side of the parallelogram is not really a straight line. Yes, if you draw a line between 4 and 1 it would touch the 5 square, but then so could the S in TAKES FIVE, the AFI in AFIRE, the ERO in EROSE and the first four letter in IRENA. The only square perfectly in line between the 1 and 4 squares is the first R in PARALLELOGRAM.

I actually resisted the 5 square being a rebus because of that. And as Orange pointed out her blog a fifth rebus square is needed to get back from four to one. I just think it results in a pentagon and not a parallelogram.

Otherwise, lovely puzzle. Though I am annoyed at how long it took me to think of EASTWOOD when LANGELLA was a gimme.

Elaine 9:23 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle--lots of meaty words, not too many obscure answers, learned a new word (LEK) and despite wanting Genessee (which did not fit) for the beer, got it on _AC at the end.

ANTECEDENT was my favorite-- I was trying to make AN INDIGENT work there.

@Rex-- um, there is a lot of "Amen" in the Bible, and anyone who marched in Selma had to be praying for hearts to be changed, right? Selah.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:24 AM  

I said it on Amy's blog, but I'll repeat the sentiment here: Loved I DON'T DRIVE and BE ORIGINAL. Why? Because (a) they're in the language, and (b) I guaranTEE nobody else has put those in a crossword. Freshness, people!

Otherwise, just cue up the AutoText under Gorski for the usual accolades.

Oscar 9:35 AM  

That was hysterical - what a marvelous punchline that explains the theme and brings it all together!

In case you can't tell, I'm being facetious.

retired_chemist 9:37 AM  

OK - you ANTECEDENT lovers, explain how "fool" in the clue fits its definition. I still don't get it.

Chorister 9:38 AM  

Was held up for a while over onesie, because I have never known a toddler who would be caught dead in a ditch in one.

Otherwise I really like the puzzle tho I, like so many others do so hate to draw on my screen. The drawing isn't so bad, but glass cleaner annoys the gremlins inside who do the work.

Chorister 9:38 AM  

Was held up for a while over onesie, because I have never known a toddler who would be caught dead in a ditch in one.

Otherwise I really like the puzzle tho I, like so many others do so hate to draw on my screen. The drawing isn't so bad, but glass cleaner annoys the gremlins inside who do the work.

Chorister 9:39 AM  

See, the gremlins posted twice in protest.

Kukstis 9:40 AM  

No one else was disappointed when they got parallelogram? I felt like the kid in "A Christmas Story" when he decodes the secret message on the radio and it's "Drink your Ovaltine". Parallelogram?! That's it?!? How boring!

Karen from the Cape 9:48 AM  

I was really invested in having STORES at 3D, even though tics/=sers and taees 5 just looks wrong. So I spent a few minutes trying different forms of the rebus.
After the NE was halfway filled in I was thinking 'stupid constructor want me to know some strange foreign director, easthree**, eastwo**' and then when I looked back at the completed EASTWOOD the light bulb lit. I got the rebus at AGE#, confirmed by 1SIE.

Ulrich 9:51 AM  

@ret-chem: "fool" is the antecedent of "his".

A five-pointed star has 10 symmetries: 5 reflections and 5 rotations. The only way I can make sense of "5-fold" is by thinking that if it has symmetry, like a reflection, it's 5-fold.

A good rebus, if a little big undernourished, for my taste--there's the problem with the 5 (if one insists) and, as Rex has mentioned, the fact that too many numbers are actually numbers in the answers. But I take a EG puzzle any day.

JannieB 9:52 AM  

Loved it. Thought "OORT" would be the word of the day as I don't recall having seen it before. I saw Thursday/Gorski and was looking for the rebus - found it with the 5. NW and SE fell easily, the other two corners took a bit longer. I just didn't want to believe OORT, but it wouldn't be denied. Well done!

retired_chemist 9:55 AM  

Thanks, Ulrich.

Glitch 9:57 AM  



4. Grammar The word, phrase, or clause that determines what a pronoun refers to, as the children in The teacher asked the children where they were going. (The Free Dictionary)

or, ...his [the fool's] money.


Also, use a highliter on the dead tree edition and the 4-5-1 problem goes away. After all, there's just so much accuracy you can get within a 15x15 grid. sheesh.


Glitch 9:59 AM  

Sorry @r_c & @Ulrich

Took too long between preview and post.


joho 10:01 AM  

@Alex ... the line I drew from ONE to FOUR goes directly through the "R" in PARALLELOGRAM and the line is straight, making a perfect PARALLELOGRAM.

mmorowitz 10:02 AM  

Good puzzle (med-challenging for me too). SARANAC-EROSE cross was the toughest spot for me. I've never seen or heard of Saranac here in Chicago. Now I want to try one.

fikink 10:07 AM  

Rex, "so NOT a constellation" was my first thought, also; in fact, it sounds like its size is what denies it constellation status!
An excellent clue for ANTECEDENT!
A nice touch that the theme and the featured book of the Bible is Numbers.
The small "l" in "Chorus line..." tipped me to the fact Liz wasn't looking talking about Broadway. Good editing!
Knowing of the lake gave me SARANAC; don't know it as a beer. Is it good?
I think I learned GOAL from crosswords recently.
Nice puzzle!

Greene 10:10 AM  

I loved this puzzle. For once, I caught the rebus early (off the 4-DAY workweek) and things just hummed along. I got fouled up in the SW where I decided to BE CREATIVE instead of BE ORIGINAL, but eventually VOLARE set me straight. I too wanted ONE instead of TRA, but I've been coming here long enough not to be tricked. Clever clue, same and all.

Thanks for including the clip of "One" from the 2006 production of A Chorus Line. I enjoyed this revival, but it couldn't hold a candle to the 1976 original. Here's a clip from the same number. Ah, so much better. I cannot tell you how exciting this show was 33 years ago when it was new. The audience went berserk during this finale.

PlantieBea 10:14 AM  

I thought I was done with the rebus answers when I got 1,2,3, and 4 and the theme; I was surprised when the 5 appeared. I liked this, but found the NE to be pretty challenging, especially with GAOLS and OORT. EAS2OD was brilliant! I pulled SARANAC out of a hat; I'm guessing other midwestern beer drinkers had trouble with this too? I liked this puzzle E. Gorski!

pednsg 10:16 AM  

I LOVE EG's puzzles, but for some reason, I liked this one more as a friend, but couldn't love it... maybe because I got so hung up in a few sections and couldn't find my way out. VOLARE/OVO was a killer for me. Never heard of the Tolkien trees (an ENT is an otolaryngologist - ear, nose, and throat doctor, in my neck of the woods). I do think that EAS2OOD is one of the best answers in ages.

Is there a term for wanting an answer in a grid, only to have it show up the next day? I wanted STUPOR yesterday so so badly (on the basis of -POR, instead of TORPOR), but eventually gave it up and filled the correct answer from the crosses. Today, here was have STUPOR. Weird, wild stuff!

edith b 10:16 AM  

I love odd words and expressions and it is always a good puzzle when I can remember "Um, this was in a Sunday puzzle once last year OORT and "we had this a month or so ago ABBIE (and SLATS).

BEORIGINAL. Ms Gorski is in spades.


I had to laugh at your use of Fibber McGee's closet. That was the metaphor my Father used to use to describe my penchant for retaining "useless information" - another way he had of putting it.

retired_chemist 10:16 AM  

Thanks, glitch. I am embarrassed not to have seen that, especially since I bug my wife about her unclear/missing pronoun antecedents occasionally. OK, often enough to get me in trouble. No, I dare not go there.....

Jim in Chicago 10:24 AM  

I also though OORT should have been the word of the day. First because it just looks wrong (I double checked all the crosses several times) and secondly because it just makes me chuckle. I just heard a radio segment on the topic "What makes a word funny" and no one really knows, some just are. Like Paella which also just makes me chuckle. The example they used was "plastics" from the movie - the writers could have chosen any of a number of inventions, but plastics just sounded funny.

I totally missed the chorus line opener and had to get the meaning from the blog - duh.

Assuming that EES for "wiring experts" stands for Electrical Engineers, I have a slight quibble, since EEs don't necessarily know how to wire anything, they're the engineers behind the curtain.

Other than that, I also groaned as I filled in PARALLELOGRAM thinking "all this for that? Not even a specific shape, just any ole parallelogram", but the puzzle was redeemed by a bunch of fun fill, and it felt just right for a Thursday to me.

fikink 10:25 AM  

apparently I didn't learn GAOL!
and...s/b "looking for, talking about..."
Sheesh! What editing, Fik?!

Alex 10:32 AM  

@jogo True, it does go through the are perfectly. It does not, however, go through the 5 perfectly.

Sure, it is a minor quibble but I think it mars what was otherwise a clean simple theme. And rewording the theme clue coukd have removed the need for a five altogether.

XMAN 10:34 AM  

At first I thought I couldn't possibly finish it, because the first two passes yielded about eight words. My best goof up was 35a "Clinks overseas." I thought toasts. Has skOLS before GAOLS.

A very clever, puzzling puzzle.

Anne 10:34 AM  

A waist is a terrible thing to mind, or so says my husband in our endless (and futile) quest to have it all. That's why I loved 1D and 39A.

And I loved this puzzle - hard but gettable. I also solved bottom up and knew numbers were involved when I saw Big 3 (being from Michigan, however, I am very aware they are not so big anymore.) Which leads me to Eastwood who directed and starred in a movie called Grand Tarino about an aging auto worker. I liked it much better than most people did.

poc 10:35 AM  

Er, hello? A PARALLELOGRAM has *four* vertices, not five. Trying to justify the fill by saying the FIVE answer is kind-of in a straight line between FOUR and ONE is just lame.

Other than that it was quite enjoyable, though definitely Medium rather than Challenging.

This has to be the third time we've had ONESIE in the past few weeks. It's a word I'd never even heard of before its appearance in the NYT crossword.

Denise 10:43 AM  

I once worked in Massachusetts, in a camp for kids with learning disabilities. We had some tutors who came from Ireland & England. I overheard one telling a little kid, "This is something you just have to memorize: G-A-O-L." !!

I guessed Saranac because I knew the name of the lake.

When I entered the numbers in the on-line grid, I put "2" instead of "two," etc. In the end, I was told that the puzzle was incorrect, and I couldn't find an error.

Clever --

Anne 10:43 AM  

@Fergus - I have two cats and adoration is not enough, they want subservience. I'm not sure what a monkey wants - I have no experience.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Great puzzle! I wasted a LOT of time looking for a nonexistent symmetrical 6th rebus answer in the first square of 49A before I got the theme. Other than that, everything went smoothly. I remember Saranac semi-fondly from my days living in upstate NY and was also wondering if its market was broad enough to be in the puzzle...

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

I liked the puzzle -- my gripe is with the NYTimes applet. It wouldn't accept the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 -- said the puzzle was incorrect with the numerals. It wanted the numbers spelled out -- or in the case of three "thre".

Bah humbug to the NYT for that.

Susan 10:58 AM  

Totally agree, Anyonymous 10:47. I always solve on line and I ALWAYS have trouble getting it to "take" the long answers. Irritating.

But I liked the puzzle. I also wanted "One" for the Chorus line clue, but then realized a) Line isn't capitalized and b) I hope I get it! is the opener of A Chorus Line.

@Rex: Lived many years in midwest, many years in Philly. Now on Gulf Coast. No clue about the beer (or the lake). Got it from crosses.

Clark 11:01 AM  

Defense of the '5': Ok, I had a tough time and had to do some googling. I just did not know SARANAC, EROSE, IRENA, LEK, GOGOS, OORT, ASTERISM, among others. But, having gotten 1, 2, 3 and 4, I was able to get PARALLELOGRAM (before googling), and that leads to the constructors problem of, Do I make the directions complicated by saying "What's revealed by connecting the special squares in this puzzle in order AND THEN GOING BACK TO THE FIRST ONE", or do I somehow indicate with '5' that you should close the figure (since "there's just so much accuracy you can get within a 15x15 grid," as Glitch pointed out). I think Ms. Gorski's solution is the more elegant one -- though it calls for a bit of flexibility from the solver.

Frances 11:05 AM  

I had LICIT for "Kosher"(40A), figuring that an "Albanian coin" (38D) could be LIK as well as anything else. The names of bands being as off-the-wall as they are, how was I to know that the "'Beauty and the Beast' band" (35D) wasn't GOCOS? Oh well, I loved the rest of Ms. Gorski's puzzle.

Vincent Lima 11:22 AM  

A lot of fun, and not especially hard, but the nonexistent PARALLELOGRAM was off-putting.

Alex 11:40 AM  


I think a clue of "What's revealved by connecting the special squares in this puzzle" would have been a perfectly adequate clue for the theme. Yes, there are other possible ways to connect the four corners but none that make sense with what is in the puzzle.

The unnecessary complexity of the clue leads to the unnecessary complexity messiness of the 5.

And now I'm at my three comment limit. I know me responding to it so much makes it sound like I'm horribly offended by it, I'm not. Still a good puzzle, just a disappointing little flaw.

foodie 11:42 AM  

I'm in the "Really liked it but did not love it" category. Regardless of whether or not the rebus squares form a perfect PARALLELOGRAM, that geometric shape conjures four, not five, features-- four sides, for angles. The 5th element breaks that vibe. Moreover, it creates asymmetry in the puzzle. While solving, I kept wondering if there should be another rebus near the TWO... I realize that symmetry is not sacred, but asymmetry does not serve the theme and is not pleasing when the theme answer is a figure which has both rotational and reflective symmetry.

So, @Clark, I admire your eloquent "Defense of the 5" but I feel that a different clue coupled with dropping the "5" would have made for a more elegant puzzle. A case for Less is More :)

jeff in chicago 11:43 AM  

I found this a fun puzzle despite the theme. 1 through 5? A parallelogram? Zzzzzzz. Nonetheless, some fun fill.

And it's Eero Saarinen's birthday. Crossword-land celebrates!

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

I don't believe the clue for antecedent is correct. His is not
a substitute for fool. It's used as an adjective.
Him or her could be used as a substitute ... but obviously not
in this sentence.

Jeff 12:10 PM  

I really liked the fresh fill in the puzzle, but was a but underwhelmed by the simplicity of the rebus. Every time I see Elizabeth Gorski's name, my day brightens! The weight of high expectations though... her last number anagram puzzle I thought was underwhelming as well. Overall, I can't wait to see her next one - her puzzles usually bring such pleasure.

Do people feel like EROSE and LEK are valid for puzzles in general? I'm on my quest to get an xword into the Times, and have tried really hard to avoid esoteric words like these. I suppose it's acceptable if the cleverness of the main puzzle demands some odd fill? Thoughts?


dk 12:14 PM  

@joho, yes :)

@poc, the five brings you back to one like do (or doh in Springfield) a note to follow so brings you back to... a party for Eero! Now thats lame.

BIG3 and out.

Noam D. Elkies 12:18 PM  

I enjoyed it, including the key fill of 36A:PARALLELOGRAM, even if it wold have been nice to have a geometrically correct parallelogram (and for the rebus squares to be more systematic than 8 numerical uses and 2 exceptions in 13D:EAS2OD and 15D:DR1). Guessed there'd be a rebus from the NE, though my first rebus square was the 4.

Wrong turns: "assembly" for 12D:ASTERISM, and "leu" or "lev" for 38D:LEK. Was doubtful about the clue for 43A:OVO, since "ab ovo" is literally "from the egg" and the clue seemed to call for "ab initio", suggesting more rebus action before I got the theme; but I see that defines both "ab ovo" and "ab initio" as "from the beginning" in English, so I guess it's fine.

Besides the nicely clued 14A:ANTECEDENT there's also the fittingly numerical clue for the symmetrically placed 62A:ICESKATERS. 34A:EROSE is a nice word that looks like it should be well-worn in the grid but doesn't show up all that often (let alone in the same grid with 27A:ERO). It also looks like something you might order from ;-)

Most of my other comments have been made already.

Thanks to Anne for the reminder re the connection between 1A:WAISTS and 39A:AMIND :-)

Hasta la Lollapuzzoola,

joho 12:26 PM  

@dk ... great answer!

@Anne ... I liked Gran Torino a lot. So much, in fact, I wrote a note to Mr. Eastwood, something I rarely do. His golf club in Monterey is a client of mine and I addressed it to the pro shop there. His body of work is amazing and his talents abound in so many areas. I really think he's a national treasure.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:31 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle greatly. Very few three letter words, two of which are rebus.

Only one write-over: had put in AMITY for 50 D before UNITY.

Perhaps the puzzle was done with only four rebus-numbered squares in a parallelogram universe?

obertb 12:32 PM  

I don't know about lek (which SOMEHOW was a gimme for me), but erose has been around forever. I'm pretty sure I learned it from xwords.

Now, after finishing this puzzle, I thought everyone was going to hate it. Didn't I read somewhere, a while back (from Rex?), about how puzzles you had to draw on after finishing were ultra lame? (Oh, now I remember, it was the puzzle where you drew a sailboat.) And this puzzle does have a little issue with the parallelogram not being a parallelogram.

But all that said, I liked the puzzle just fine. I like rebus puzzles in general because there is always the satisfaction one gets from figuring it out--that little AHA moment.

And I'm never offended by things like SARANAC [Beer from upstate NY]; I see them as an opportunity to learn something. Next time I'm in upstate NY, where I happen to have some friends, I'm gonna check out that beer!

green mantis 12:39 PM  

Mexican beers: Indio, my favorite, with a pyramid on the label, not available now that I've left the beach, so it's now Superior. But it's chilly in the mountains, and there's this wine bar that brings out a plate of tapas with every glass for a dollar and a half American, so I'm officially a wine drinker now.

Also there's this open air market next to my house, and there was this chicken yesterday, looking around, and then, without getting too graphic, it was for sale, you know, without its feathers, about five minutes later. There are now new categories of freshness in my mental inventory: rotten, stale, day old, good, just picked, and TWITCHING.

A good puzzle that I didn't love, except for I Don't Drive, which reminded me of my grandma.

I love a rebus 12:39 PM  

First: Even with a rebus theme, I thought this was an easy Thursday puzzle. 4 Day Workweek (51A) was a gimme for me and since the only thing different about small pizzas is that they are cut in 4 rather than 6 or 8 pieces.

Second: For those of you questioning whether the figure is a true parallelogram, 36A doesn't tell you to draw the lines though the centers of the squares. Draw the line from squares 4 to 1 so that the line goes through square 5 (as was pointed out is possible). Then just position the vertex in square 2 at the same relative location as the vertex in square 1 (ditto for squares 3 and 4). Then, when you draw the other lines, you get a perfect parallelogram. (Gee, this seems patronizing to be so detailed, but I guess humans are sometimes blinded by an innate love of symmetry.)

Z.J. Mugildny 12:43 PM  

I liked this one much less so than other Gorski puzzles. The five-sided parallelogram and the almost complete arbitrariness of 1-5 with a geometric shape knock it down a few notches. It was still an okay puzzle.

HudsonHawk 12:49 PM  

Awesome puzzle--I can't believe how many people are getting hung up on the 5 issue. With my unsteady hand on the dead-tree version, it looks entirely like a PARALLELOGRAM.

I had one error, however. I filled in OERT for OORT cloud, and didn't check the cross very carefully. After all, we do have the Iona GAELS around here.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  


How can you say antecedent was nicely clued? The clue is incorrect.

treedweller 1:00 PM  

Oh, so *this* is where my garden picture went (the secret is it's shaped like a parallelogram). What's the equivalent of cluevoyance when you predict the theme?

I really wanted IDONTDRIVE to be "flat tire" or similar, so I needed lots of crosses up there. And GOGOS took awhile because I kept looking for a number in "Bangles" to fit with the rebus.

My last letter was the cross of SARANAC and IRENA. Never heard of the beer, could have been Irene. I guessed right.

Otherwise, a smooth, steady fill that was challenging enough not to feel like a DRONE. I enjoyed it.

retired_chemist 1:04 PM  

@ Anons - I am now on the side of the believers in ANTECEDENT. "His" is a possessive pronoun, not an adjective. So it is fine.

@ green Mantis - You want "twitching?" Go to Japan and get the fugu sashimi in a place that really does it right. It is freshly cut, in the carcass, and still twitching on the plate when served. Edo-Gin, just off the Ginza and within earshot of Tsukiji, is one such.

People befuddle me 1:07 PM  

Why to people who have been provided a definition which shows that the clue is correct insist on asserting that the clue is in fact incorrect? Ulrich, then Glitch provided the answer, Glitch the definition, pulled from To echo Glitch:

Grammar. a word, phrase, or clause, usually a substantive, that is replaced by a pronoun or other substitute later, or occasionally earlier, in the same or in another, usually subsequent, sentence. In Jane lost a glove and she can't find it, Jane is the antecedent of she and glove is the antecedent of it.

Ulrich 1:11 PM  

@anonymous: I followed this up and found "his" etc listed as pronouns--they are in fact substitutes, like the "his" in "his money" substitutes "fool's" in "fool's money"--so, I don't see your problem.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

retired chemist,

You cannot substitute "his" for "fool". Therefore it is not an antecedent. Sorry.

fikink 1:14 PM  

@anon 12:51, think of it this way:

"Whose money is that?"

"The fool says it's his."

PlantieBea 1:15 PM  

Grammar lesson here:

In the phrase "his money", "his" is certainly a possesive pronoun used in adjective form. But, possessive pronouns used in adjective form DO have antecedents.

Robert 1:16 PM  

Antecedent is correct. It does not have to substitute. Fool is the noun that is referred to by the pronoun "his". Therefore it is the antecedent.

It answers the question, "whose money?... the fool's money.

People ... 1:20 PM  

A fool and the fool's money are soon parted. The posessive pronoun his replaces "the fool's" Kind of a direct substitution, no?

PS One thing I've learned here - If NDE makes a statement with which I disagree, I go back and check my assumptions, thoroughly, before I proceed. Unless it's about the relative quality of r*ppers.

PlantieBea 1:27 PM  

Another way to think about this is to change person.

I am not parted easily from my money.

I am not parted easily from mine.

My is a possessive adjective, mine is the possessive pronoun. In the first person, my and mine are two different words. Not true for HIS which is the same word in adjective and (pro)noun form. Regardless, and if I understand this correctly, they still have an antecedent which defaults to the person, and not the object possessed.

fikink 1:46 PM  

Gee, ya think Anon 12:51 & 1:12 hit a nerve?

It all underscores what a service Rex provides in hanging himself out here every day.

Rex, again, I salute your cojones!

(even if my dictionary tells me I am being vulgar ...or graphic. Sorry.)

Joseph 1:47 PM  

(1) @Treedweller: You're looking for "ESTheme."

(2) The complaint on 4-5-1 not properly completing the parallelogram is a highly exaggerated nit-pic. Take a breather people and appreciate the creativity for what it is. Wow. How else would you propose directing the puzzler to close the left side of the parallelogram, other than directing her/him (antecedent: puzzler) to draw a line from 4 to 1?

Someone suggested omitting the "5." Well, then the same quibblers would have shown utter disdain for the constructor's incompetence in leaving the left side of the parallelogram open.

... I suppose you could have the 5 and 1 in the same box? Such as: ONE51 (Bacardi proof)? But, then, there would be a 2, 3, 4 and 51. The Quibblers would have NONE of that!

Give me a break, even kid's "connect the dots" brings you back to the "1." Ms. Gorski, well done.

(3) Eas2od and Antecedent were phenomenal!


Anonymous 2:10 PM  

Wow. Returning to these comments after being in the state of bliss that was the Ben Folds clip (thanks RP!), is a surreal endeavor to be sure.

foodie 2:26 PM  

@ Joseph:
"Simplest shape defined by the (four) special squares in this puzzle"

One really doesn't need to draw to see the PARALLELOGRAM...

Given the creativity of both Ms. Gorski and Will, I think they could have solved the cluing problem in any number of ways.

However, I agree with the sentiment that the puzzle overall is an excellent example from a truly gifted constructor. We simply set the bar extremely high for her.

@Green Mantis, great to hear from you! I like your "Twitching" category : ). Seeing this stuff brings a dose of reality to what we eat (and has intermittently driven me towards being vegetarian). Now, sipping wine with tappas is another story!

@Treedweller: I love "cluevoyance"!

chefwen 2:45 PM  

@Joseph - BRAVO!!!

poc 3:06 PM  

@Joseph: you ask "How else would you propose directing the puzzler to close the left side of the parallelogram". Well, I'd change the clue to read "cyclic order" instead of "order". Given that a parallelogram is a rigourously defined geometrical shape, having the "5th vertex" offset from the 1st just sets my teeth on edge, so we'll just have to agree to disagree.

fergus 3:16 PM  

One observation before reading anything: An astoundingly difficult puzzle -- I'm still looking for number SIX. Now, I'll read to see if anyone else was so bewildered. (I confess to one cheat, since I saw a bible close by on the bookshelf ...)

ArtLvr 3:17 PM  

I got TAKE 5 first, filled the other rebus squares across with numerals and then at the end had a hard time seeing what the downs DR1 and EAS2OD were driving at!

Never mind, I liked Liz's puzzle a lot...


Aviatrix 3:20 PM  

I almost quit this one when I just had special squares 2 through 5 and saw they connected to form a TRAPEZOID. But finally I removed CRISCO from 1A, making room to solve the northwest, and I see that the only flaw in the PARALLELOGRAM is a tiny deviation required to accommodate the superfluous five.

I also thought there would be more disdain for EAS2OD and DR1 being the odd ones out. I am happy with it, and I have no disappointment that the answer is a parallelogram. It would have helped me solve the puzzle had I trusted it and not started ranting about trapezoids. It would have been cooler were the rebus a rhombus, but this is good enough.

sanfranman59 4:19 PM  

Thursday midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 20:58, 18:48, 1.11, 80%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 11:20, 9:06, 1.24, 95%, Challenging

I'm guessing that much of the challenge in this puzzle is knowing how to enter rebuses in the online user interface. Not surprisingly, there are many fewer solvers today than there usually are on a Thursday. So far, today's puzzle is ranked as the 4th most difficult for the top 100 solvers in the 11 weeks I've been tracking times (relative to the day of the week).

fergus 4:30 PM  

No surprise after reading Rex and everybody else that he and Foodie have the most incisive evaluation of the quality and deficiency of EG's Challenging puzzle.

OORT and RASA were my only frail anchors, but after I found Clint and remembered my Bible, everything started to add up.

(Anne, neither of those demanding cats are mine, somewhat gratefully, I'm glad that their regular people are back home now.)

Upstate NY has Genessee written all over it, but I pulled out SARANAC without much difficulty, from a sad time in the Adirondacks. Lots of New York and New England beers seem to have double letters ... .

I recall Oscar Wilde's "Ballad of Reading GAOL" as a most moving piece of writing. I read it when I was 21, clueless about the torment that the practitioners of "gross indecency and moral turpitude" must have faced back then.

fergus 4:33 PM  

A rebus a rhombus is a delightful concept, Aviatrix.

Anne 4:37 PM  

@joho - I am so glad you liked Gran Torino (I see I spelled it incorrectly). I thought it was a nuanced and multi-layered movie, both in terms of his career and the societal problems the movie addressed. I didn't think it got the credit it deserved.

@Noam - Thanks.

PIX 4:49 PM  

@24D: "5-fold symmetry" for a starfish is a stretch...they are almost always referred to as having "radial symmetry"...the really interesting fact (or really boring, depending on your view of things) is that as larvae they have bilateral symmetry (i.e.they are very closely related to other animals that have bilateral symmetry e.g. you and me)...they represent one of the few groups of animals that have bilateral symmetry early on but lose it as adults.)...from an evolutionary point of view the starfish are much, much closer to us than most people think..OK, back to the definition of a parallelogram..

treedweller 4:51 PM  

@foodieCredit @Joseph from Monday's comments. I'm a late adopter.

mac 5:08 PM  

As usual, I liked the ECG puzzle very much, and was not at all perturbed by the 5-1 situation. I have to admit I looked for a symmetrical 6.

I started in the SW, since I had to many uncertain answers up above, and I got the 4-day answer almost immediately, after contemplating, like Rex, a French word. I never heard of the NY beer, but erose is an old standby.
I've got to remember that waist - mind line!

Yet another Dutch scientist I had never heard of...

I'm practically in a STUPOR it's so hot and steamy in NY. Hope it's cool in the church in Queens!

joho 5:12 PM  

@Anne ... my husband and I thought it should have been nominated for an Oscar and were surprised when it wasn't.

3 & out!

SuperBowl 5:37 PM  

I got stuck for a while in the NW corner. I first had I CAN'T DRIVE, then I WON'T DRIVE, then finally settled on the right answer. ANTECEDENT was definitely a great answer to 14-Acrosss.

I also chuckled when I got WAISTS (1-Down: Middles that are often too big). It was like the constructor was telling us solvers that we've got to lose some weight! (and it's true in my case)

mexgirl 5:40 PM  

"OK, boys, let's take some pictures!"

Thanks Rex for making me laugh!

andrea satanic michaels 6:02 PM  

No one else had SATANIC for the beer?

(I guess it doesn't help that I'm a non-drinking Midwesterner now in SF.)

ya beat me to it! I was going to alert you that yesterday's secret garden appeared today as a parallelogram with e-rose in the middle!

YAY, Elizabeth Gorski!

PurpleGuy 6:18 PM  

@mac - don't even mention "hot and steamy" _ we're ubnder a heat advisory here. I'm re3ally tired of this "hot and steamy" and I've lived here 35 years.
@fikink - my years in the seminary helped with Numbers5:22.
@pednsg - We talked about that vey experience a couple days ago. Use cluevoyance, ESPhill, or cluemerang. Go to my profile for my email address and I'll give you the explanation. Plus, as a bonus, my steak tartare recipe !!!! Have you been to Hobe Meats yet ? I'm in the Kierland area on Thursdays, so would you like to meet for lunch ??

This was an extremely easy puzzle for a Thursday, and one of my best times.
Being a retired elementary teacher, I'd just like to say, "stop the nit-picking, people, and enjoy the puzzle for what it is. A Thursday entertainment!!!"

Thank you VERY much, Ms.Gorski, for a FUN and ELEGANT, and WELL CONSTRUCTED puzzle !!!

PurpleGuy 6:21 PM  

@andrea satanic michaels - now I KNOW Ineed to give you one of my "wicked" cosmopolitans at the potluck supper. You are BAD,but in a GOOD way !!!

I had the name of the beer from the lake.
My sister and her family lived in Skaneateles while I was in VietNam, so SARANAC lake was familiar to me.

andrea six michaels 6:49 PM  

I like your secret rebus # shout out to Mac!
I'm not sure one wicked cosmopolitan will undo 50 years of not-drinking, but we shall see...

(and, technically, I think pednsg just had a delayed malapop...altho maybe TORPOR was an ANTECEDENT for STUPOR?!) ;)

andrea afire michaels 6:57 PM  

also, did anyone else do the Latin8 declension of putting in ASTEROID, ASTERISK, ASTERISM?

(I also misread the numbers and put the ORELSE in the OPINES about STUPOR)

bleedover (sort of): NYNY/AMENAMEN

Now if only I could get Green Mantis's twitching chicken out of my mind I'll be all set! :(

XMAN 7:10 PM  

The problem of the antecedent is solved! A noun cannot be antecedent to an adjective, which "his," in the subject sentence, certainly is. For example: Judd has the flu and he dislikes discomforting illness. Can Judd in any way be antecedent to the adjective?

XMAN 7:24 PM  

Dear PlantieBea,
While I wish strenuously to deny that you, by dint of properly focussed research, have solved the problem--I must.

I am not enjoying my due portion of HUMBLEPIE.

Glitch 7:26 PM  


whatever [sigh]


fergus 7:26 PM  

Six and Afire,

Plenty of allusions to the wanted number, but not so many aflame.

I still contend that this was most difficult Thursday in living memory. Like a Saturday it was in my contention.

PurpleGuy 7:30 PM  

@andrea # michaels- yes, I had "asterisk," until I realized "PARALLELOGRAK" made no sense !
Trust me... my "wicked" cosmopolitans can undo 50 or so tears of "anything !" Do I detect a "challenge ?" I've watched your appearances on the food and discussion shows, and I feel like I know you.

@XMAN - yes. Substitute Judd for"he"in your example sentence. Judd has the flu and "Judd" dislikes discomforting illness. Also:

He has the flu and he dislikes discomforting illness.

fergus 7:41 PM  

Any fans of Martin Amis recall Nicola SIX (from London Fields)?

Anonymous 7:43 PM  

XMAN --- The pedantic clue for antecedent is correct.

Agreement of English Possessive Adjectives with their Antecedents

Antecedent Possessive Adjective Example
boy his The boy obeys his mother.
girl her The girl likes her brothers.
bird its The bird sat on its nest.
cows their The cows have lost their way.

A better clue would have been
simply "prior."

PurpleGuy 7:45 PM  

@Glitch - don't give up !!! re(sigh).
I believe in you and I'm clapping !!!!!!
(acknowledgement to Mary Martin!!)

Clark 7:50 PM  

Boy, this ANTECEDENT confusion is persistent.

'His' in the 14A clue is (as @PlantieBea pointed out) a possessive adjective. it is a pro-form that refers back to its antecedent 'fool'. @XMAN, you are just wrong when you assert that "A noun cannot be antecedent to an adjective". I refer you to the articles on 'antecedent' and 'pro-form' in the Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar.

Anonymous 8:23 PM  

this is excruciating

Timmy 9:00 PM  

Wow, what a puzzle! Loved it despite all the fools' talk.

@purpleguy: I am with ya - too much nitpickiness here. Forest for the trees folks!

Elaine 9:14 PM  

Wow. I have never checked in for an entire week (consecutive puzzles) before this one.

I am exhausted.

After this, I plan to add my comment (invariably early) and exit, pursued by a bear. Or whatever.

I recommend quilting for those who need an alternative to Comments on Rexxie's blog. (No offense, Rexxie, but you could use a busy-hands hobby, too!)

NOnetheless, what an entertaining bunch!

Sorry, Glitch 9:18 PM  

Fox News has finally leaked over to Crossword Blogs - Statements of opinions masquerade as facts, not to be disputed by statement of facts based on multiple, reputible resources.

fergus 9:27 PM  

As I implied earlier, ANTECEDENT was a Saturday sort of word. Obliquely Clued as well. Number rebus, and we're off to town. Ms. Gorski held me in thrall for at least an hour today, and by my reckoning it's still Thursday.

Glitch 9:45 PM  

Re: Sorry, Glitch Said...

That was not my post and request the author refrain from picking screen names that might cause (intentional?) confusion as to the source.


Clark 10:02 PM  

Saved by the Friday puzzle. Say good night, Gracie.

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:32, 7:02, 1.07, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:57, 8:32, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:48, 12:36, 0.94, 34%, Easy-Medium
Thu 20:43, 18:47, 1.10, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:47, 3:43, 1.02, 59%, Medium
Tue 4:12, 4:24, 0.95, 42%, Medium
Wed 5:39, 6:08, 0.92, 30%, Easy-Medium
Thu 11:12, 9:06, 1.23, 92%, Challenging

Only 271 solvers today, compared to an average of 551 the previous 10 Thursdays. The clunky user interface for entering rebus squares obviously took its toll.

Rex Parker 10:07 PM  

Talk about your conversations with dining room tables.

All apologies to anyone who in any way got involved, but this was, w/o a doubt, officially, the most painful and pointless argument this comments section has ever seen. ANTECEDENT is correctly clued. It was that way this morning when I praised it, it remains that way now, after many people have patiently explained why. The proferred counterargument are apples-and-oranges, at best. When a commenter clearly has No Idea what s/he is talking about and canNOT be reasoned with, I beg you wonderful people: just let it go.


PS LOL @anon 8:23

Rex Parker 10:08 PM  

and thanks to sanfranman for his appropriate qualification of today's solving time results.

Will 10:12 PM  

Fun, medium puzzle for me. Only got hung up on the "s" in erose and isl. Loved "Heep" which rhymed with its clue- creep.

Isn't that about the 3rd "onesie" in the last few weeks?

As for the parallelagram police- get a life. Its a word puzzle, not a geometry textbook.

And you're not even correct. Its not a pentagram or trapezoid, because the 5 and 1 are not connected. Its an open figure.

But within the resolution of a crossword puzzle, it "looks" like a parallelagram, and that's the point.

foodie 10:37 PM  

@Sanfranman,I'm surprised that the existence of rebus squares would cut participation in half! How many of the previous Thursdays were rebus puzzles?

I find that I can enter the first letter of a rebus answer (e.g. T for TWO) and the on line system accepts it as correct. I use a Mac but I didn't think this would matter. Is there a reason not to do it this way?

michael 11:32 PM  

I liked the puzzle, but did not have strong feelings about it.

Except for ero/asterism ....

fergus 11:51 PM  

Rex and foodie, dining room tables, toss-off discussion of Joyce, my cousin's poofter accent, double letters, Narragansett.

Your table is now ready, sir

XMAN 12:35 AM  

@All and Any Who May Still Be Perusing This Blog: I admitted my error hours ago. You can't force me to eat more HUMBLEPIE than I can ingest. Why, that would be HUMBLEPIE boarding! How cruel!

Robin 12:49 AM  

I was sure Anon 8:23 was Rex. But then he chimed in to say LOL. Anyway, I agree with both of you.

evil doug 4:35 AM  

So, just dropped in to check out how things are going--you know, see if I'm missing anything good....

Holy God. Which way is out?


fergus 5:28 AM  

Evil guy,

So late it is, and in passing by, I stumbled upon my desk, which raised the prosody from the day recently passed. And there you were. I can't even remember whether there's some dispute we had, or if I'm annoyed about something you said. Surely the latter must be true, regardless of my current vacant memory.


Tench Ringgold 8:05 AM  

Oh, Rex. "Am I not a man" isn't really 60s Selma, but the old abolitionist cartoon.

Stan 9:17 AM  

Checking in late -- wonderful puzzle.
Bravo, EG!

No comment on the comments.

Singer 1:01 PM  

Holy cow, how much arguing can you have over a well constructed puzzle. Rex wants it let go, but coming in from syndication land I have to say two things:

1) Antecedent is correctly clued. Only fools would disagree - check the Oxford English Dictionary.

2) The '5' in the parallelogram technically needs to lay on top of the '1', but there is no practical way of doing that unless you rebus '1' with the across clue and '5' with the down clue, which is way too tricky for a Thursday. So she took a small liberty and put the '5' adjacent to the '1', and you have to use a small amount of imagination to place it in the same location as the '1'. Other than that, folks, get a life for crying out loud.

Anonymous 4:42 PM  

Are you people geniuses?

Whitney 7:34 PM  

I just want to say this is the first time I recognized that a puzzle was a rebus on my own. Woo hoo! I was so proud of myself for being super smart, and then I came here.

@Anon 4:42 I think they are.

Brian Kampschroer 2:54 AM  

As Whitney was, I was quite pleased with myself for figuring out the rebus and the rest of the clever puzzle on my own, with out any help from anybody else. I am puzzled (he, he) about the answer for the clue, "Partisan leader?": non? Sometimes one little thing can negate the grand triumphs!

RRelf 3:05 AM  

You all really are genius.

Singer 12:19 PM  

Brian, the cluing for NONpartisan is a very common crossword cluing trick. It references the prefix to the word nonpartisan, ergo NON is a "leader" to partisan. You will see that sort of thing often to try to give a twist to the clue that makes you sprain your brain. After doing crosswords for a while, the twist gets a little stale and you think of it right away with no brain sprains involved.

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