Senta's suitor in Flying Dutchman / THU 2-25-10 / Literary invalid / 1957 Disney tearjerker / Title role in 1950s TV western

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Constructor: Holden Baker

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Ten TINs — rebus puzzle with ten "TIN" squares, tied together by 44A: Artisan whose work is featured in this puzzle? ([TIN] SMITH)

Word of the Day: UELE River (15A: Ubangi tributary) —

The Uele River is a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is a tributary of the Ubangi River, which in turn flows into the Congo. The Uele is the 46th longest river in the world. It is the fifth longest in Africa.
• • •

This was on the Challenging side only because it was a rebus puzzle, and those are always at least a bit of a challenge to ferret out. Once you realize that the rebus is just TIN, and not a bunch of different elements, the rebus squares aren't too difficult to uncover and the puzzle settles into a medium difficulty. Where did you realize you were dealing with a rebus? For me, oddly, it was at GRA[TIN] (6A: Au ___). I had no idea about how good a guess GUINEA was at 6D: Neighbor of Liberia, but that "G" gave me GRA-, which caused me to test the "TIN" in that final square, which allowed me to make sense of 9D: Parts opposite some handles ([TIN]ES). Helped a lot by knowing the surprisingly long-last-named Tom SKERRITT (21D: Emmy-winning Tom of "Picket Fences"). Hurt a bit by being baffled by FT. DODGE (46A: County seat on the Des Moines River). The irrefutable contiguity of "TD" got me to guess FT. DODGE, and it panned out. The cluing felt slightly amped up on this one — deliberately thorny or misdirective, e.g. 64A: Scratch (KALE) (both slang for "money"), 55A: Is too cool (ROCKS), etc. Rebus puzzles are almost always enjoyable to me, and I liked this one, even if it did feel a bit pointless. Just ... TINs everywhere ... and [TIN]SMITH is my payoff answer? ... seems a bit weak, conceptually. I like the pile-up of TINs in the middle, though. That's pretty cool. Otherwise, puzzle's just OK.

Creations of the TINsmith (44A):
  • S[TIN]GER (1A: Antiaircraft missile)
  • [TIN]GLE (2D: "Sleeping" sensation)
  • GRA[TIN] (6A: Au ___)
  • [TIN]ES (9D: Parts opposite some handles)
  • OU[TIN]GS (22A: Picnics, e.g.)
  • MAR[TIN]I (11D: Happy hour order)
  • CRE[TIN] (38A: Clod)
  • "I, [TIN]A" (32D: 1986 showbiz autobiography)
  • "RIN [TIN] [TIN]" (39A: Title role in a 1950s western)
  • AS[TIN] (30D: Actor John)
  • UNS[TIN][TIN]G (24D: In a very generous manner)
  • DIS[TIN]CT (49A: Well-defined)
  • [TIN]KLES (52D: Bell sounds)
  • [TIN]Y TIM (66A: Literary invalid)
  • SELEC[TIN]G (45D: "Eeny-meeny-miney-mo" activity)
  • [TIN] EAR (68A: It's not good for conducting)
  • SI[T-IN] (62D: 1960s event)
As with most demanding themes, compromises have had to be made in the general fill. These include a mind-boggling FIVE partials (A GAME, A SIGN, A LAW, I'M AS, and ALL YE), four of them in the upper third of the grid. I'm not even counting IT'D, which is probably generous of me. TENACITY and OLD YELLER (56A: 1957 Disney tearjerker) and LET IT SNOW (20A: When said three times, a yuletide song) are all fine, but the only noteworthy or memorable thing about the puzzle is the theme — a rather ordinary rebus. Luckily, even rather ordinary rebuses are enjoyable to me.

  • 17A: Inspiration for "Troilus and Cressida" ("ILIAD") — thought sure it would be something like CHAUCER, since he wrote "Troilus and Criseyde" a good two centuries before Shakespeare wrote his play.
  • 53A: Bean pot (OLLA) — knew it was a pot, didn't know it had anything to do with "beans."
  • 61A: One in civvies who maybe shouldn't be (AWOL) — I always confuse "civvies" and "skivvies," so I had to pause a bit. "Someone who *shouldn't* be wearing underwear, eh? ... hmmm."
  • 4D: P.D.A. communiqué (E-MAIL) — pretty swanky, cosmopolitan clue for an ordinary E-MAIL
  • 26A: Figure in Magic: The Gathering (OGRE) — total guess. Figured it would draw from the same pool of monsters as D&D.
  • 27D: Valley ___, redundantly named California community (GLEN) — What? Where? "Community?" Seems to be specifically a community within the city of Los Angeles.
  • 37D: Gary who invented the Pet Rock (DAHL) — this (and the last clue as well) is what I mean about the clues being "amped up" — here, it's a bit absurd. "Who's the most marginal DAHL we can find!? Pet Rock inventor! Brilliant!" Meanwhile, Arlene and Roald wondering "WTF!?"
  • 59D: Senta's suitor in "The Flying Dutchman" (Erik) — Same category as GLEN and DAHL clues. More familiar stuff is foregone for much more marginal stuff. At least I learned something. Too mad it's the type of "learning" I'm bound to forget before I wake up in the morning (it's 11:26 pm EST right now).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


retired_chemist 12:52 AM  

Got the rebus reasonably (for me) early. Still found the puzzle medium-challenging. It had a fresh feel to many of the answers - very nice.

Writeovers: 1D SOAR; 6A au PAIR; 69A NERDS. Not fooled by 60D Some butters (RAMS). UELE River? If you say so....

Thanks, Mr. Baker.

Steve J 12:56 AM  

This felt to me like a balloon that starts to rise and then suddenly loses its air. I started off pretty strongly (I picked up the rebus just a couple minutes in, at the SITIN/TINEAR junction, and MARTINI/OUTINGS quickly confirmed all the rebuses would be TIN), and I was even enjoying it. But then two things happened.

1. It felt like many, many of the rebuses were TING constructions. Now that I look through all the answers, I realize there weren't that many. I must have hit them all in sequence, but at the time it seemed like they were excessive, which took some of the enjoyment away.

2. The entire west coast was a slog for me. NW started to crack first (especially once STINGER finally popped back in my head). I'm sure I wasn't helped in the SW by the exact same civvies/skivvies confusion (spent way too much time wondering who shouldn't be wearing underwear, and if it's because in any way TIN was involved). Took a complete flyer on OGRE, which finally cracked open northern California.

Even though there wasn't half as much TING as I thought, my metaphorical balloon still fell a bit flat. Weighted down by an overabundance of TIN, to be sure. The single-answer rebus just didn't have a lot of excitement (which, for me, is ironic, since I used to hate rebus puzzles but now find them kinda fun).

andrea allye michaels 1:14 AM  

I don't know if this is the first puzzle I couldn't finish, but it's the first Thursday I couldn't finish....
The SW corner never came together as I had TOLLS instead of TINKLES even tho I knew there must be some rebus in there....I had only the AWOL/IOWAN cross.
Zero idea about DRAKE, KALE, ROCKS and I knew what Termagant meant, but I could only think of the word harridan!

Amazed at t all the meaning for "scratch" that went thru my head....tho none to do with money.
I thought about itching, baking from nothing, scratching a mission, but money? even if I HAD thought of that, I didn't know KALE.

Wow, tho, 19 little TINs!!!!!!!!!!! Wouldn't that have been neat to have a two letter word in there with TINTIN that French cartoon?
Tho RINTINTIN was very close...

Plus I love Holden Baker's name, so JD Salinger! And I thought we JUST had a puzzle by him, but I looked at Rex's database and he only came up in 2007 BEFORE I had discovered Rex!!!
I can't believe there was even that time...
and the puzzle was the SEVEN counties of Ireland which seems marvelously inventive.
Holden Baker who are you?!

It took me a LONG time to get there was a rebus....hmmm, where did I find it? (I went thru the alphabet on Au GRA? and it STILL didn't occur to me. Au Graf? Au Gran?

I got it at the OUTINGS/MARTINI crossing.

Oh, and I had ST DODGE for FT DODGE and wondered what CSCS was, but if you do it on paper, you don't know you are incorrect.
But looking back ST DODGE is a bit stupid. Patron Saint of Cars? Jesus Chrysler?

I REALLY think ALLYE is beyond a partial...I can't believe you can have it without the "enter here" or something. I'd like to ask Will about that in a non-accusatory way...

I LOVE clues like "blah blah blah said three times = x"
Speaking of LETITSNOWLETITSNOWLETITSNOW, I'm freaking out about the storm expected tomorrow which means I may be in NY even LONGer!!!!
New York would be one helluva city if they could get this weather thing straightened out!

Oh, I had an Andrea story today...
Walking to lunch with Tony Orbach on the Upper West Side and Len Cariou got out of a taxi... Tony re-introduced himself (as his dad and Len apparently used to be the two major Bdway stars in their day...)
But Len Cariou had been a name I had only seen in puzzles...
Now all I can think is there must be a Merl-type puzzle in Len CariBou. ("Deer-ly beloved Bdway star?")
I gotta move here.

Clark 1:20 AM  

I do love a rebus. 'Artisan whose work is featured in this puzzle?' told me it had to be a rebus, because there was nothing else going on anywhere to suggest that anything was being featured. Having MAR _ _ already got me MAR(TIN)I. I agree with @Rex on the very cool pile up in the middle. I wanted 39A to be RIN(TIN)(TIN) before I saw it was possible. RinTinTIn was a western? I thought he was just a dog. What's great is the way the double TIN works also in 24D. It took me a while to see how there could be two TINs in a plain old adverb.

Anonymous 2:01 AM  

i agree that the theme is kind of random. will is notoriously oversupplied with rebus puzzles, so to choose this one, with its weak concept and less-than-stellar execution, seems kind of strange. not a bad puzzle, but not a knockout either.

rex, are you going to have a longer ACPT recap? would love to hear more.

chefwen 2:08 AM  

Two of my favorite things are happy hours and picnics and that's exactly where I hooked up on the rebus, my favorite kind of puzzle.

Stepped back a couple of generations and had cocky as being too cool. I did have to Google 49D, hanging head in shame, but DRAKE fixed my cockiness.

All in all, I had as much fun with this one as I had with the Tuesday puzzle.

Embarrassingly, my last fill was GRATIN/TINES, a cook should have gotten that first. DOH!!

Parshutr 7:11 AM  

@Andrea...Jesus Chrysler is wonderful, thanks! The second word I put in was MARTINI, off of IMAC.
And let's remember, in case it ever comes up, AWOL = Absent Without Official Leave.
Favorite word - CRETIN, in good company with the PEASANT and GEEKS. And thankfully, TRIG was not clued as "the youngest Palin".

DrGaellon 7:25 AM  

I didn't get the rebus until I looked at your solution. Once I saw that's what it was, I went back and finished it in just a few minutes.

Nancy (hoping not to lose power in PA) 8:00 AM  

Jesus Chrysler made my day! Thanks Andrea. And having to write LETITSNOW while watching additional inches accrue to the 73 (!) that have already fallen on us this winter was cruel. As a Lutheran church in the area put on its billboard: "Whoever is praying for snow--please stop!"

joho 8:05 AM  

I always love a rebus, even a bad rebus ... and this was anything but that. RINTINTIN/UNSTINTINGLY was brilliant. Would have been cool to work in tintinnabulation somewhere near TINKLES.

I guessed the "F" at FTDODGE. Couldn've been PT, but then, Iowa is nowhere near an ocean or big lake, I don't think.

No unsuspecting little kid should ever be subjected to "Old Yeller."

Thank you Holden Baker for a most enjoyable Thursday!

chefbea 8:14 AM  

Tough puzzle even though I got the rebus fairly quickly at martini/outings.

never, never heard of scratch as kale. Kale is a wonderful green - sauteed with oil and garlic. yummm

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

Lotsa work today. I was thinking something's wrong with me as I went through the grid and was not being able to pick up many answers. It wasn't until I got to the bottom, where I nailed TINEAR and SITIN, and then, having solved 35D to 37D looked back and figured the rebus out. But there was lot's of slogging after that, too.

I note that Sammy CAHN wrote Let It Snow (x3, apparently)

Elaine 8:24 AM  

Hand up for TOLLS before reconstruction... and for WTF for KALE. Cabbage, yes; but kale? Just because they are distant relatives does not mean they're interchangeable. My first grid entry Au PAIR was really the only write-over, as I returned after my 11D.

MarTINi opened the door to the rebus, and I really enjoyed uncovering the remainder. I recall RIN TIN TIN (much better TV dog than that sissy Lassie.)

Used to read _Old Yeller_ aloud to my students; the book is terrific, unlike the sappy movie.

JannieB 9:08 AM  

Martini gave me the rebus and I was off and running. Very surprised to see the med/challenging rating. I was done in 9 minutes and thought it was way too easy for a Thursday - continuing the trend of mixing up the difficulty and the day of the week.

Smitty 9:11 AM  

Shouldn't FT DODGE have and abbrv'd clue?

jesser 9:11 AM  

Like others, the rebus popped into my skull at the MARTINI/OUTING cross. Like one other (I'm too hurried and lazy to go back and look up names), I didn't realize RIN TIN TIN was a western, but having the rebus made it pretty obvious.

Only trouble spot was at the UELE River, but G_INEA pretty much forced the U, which was the last letter to fall.

I have tomorrow and Monday off, so I plan to sleep late and will undoubtedly be among the late commenters during the long (for me) weekend. Jesus Chrysler, that's a good problem to have! (Thanks Andrea!)

Reddeat! (the chemical that kills crimson mosquitoes) -- jesser

JayWalker 9:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JayWalker 9:14 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben 9:39 AM  

@Anonymous 2:01am:

I posted a lengthy Brooklyn tournament recap on my site last night. While we wait for Rex's version, you can check mine out here.

MsCarrera 9:46 AM  

It seems I had created a Google account in May of 2008 but never used it. I reset my password and this is a test to see if it works.


@andrea allye michaels - "Jesus Chrysler" may offend some, but it fit in so nicely with ST DODGE that I see why you felt okay posting it.

deerfencer 9:59 AM  

Overall great fun and my favorite puzzle of the week. I did about half (most of the east) and uncovered the rebus before passing it off to my wife, who jumped in and laid down a few key answers. From then we worked on it together.

Had to google the very odd SKERRITT as well as GUINEA and FTDODGE to finish, but no guilt given the relative obscurity of the answers and my weak geography gene.

Agree with joho on the brilliance of the RINTINTIN/UNSTINTINGLY cross and loved LETITSNOW, ironically appropos given the weatherman once again botched the forecast here in SE NY (calling for snow and shutting down the schools when all we're seeing is rain, slush, and general late winter sogginess. Disgusting week weather-wise).

Thanks to Holden Baker for a great late February challenge!

edith b 10:01 AM  

Like @joho, I would have like to have seen tintinabulation in the puzzle as a complement to RinTinTin.

The notion of a rebus never occurred to me until the SI(TIN)/(TIN)EAR cross and I went on a modified snipe hunt looking for the TINS after that

I agree with @Elaine that there were too many degrees of seperation between KALE and Scratch. I found that clue/answer a bit torturous.

Once I realzed what kind of animal I had by the tail, the puzzle went from Challenging to Medium.

As always.

Dough 10:05 AM  

I thought it was a fun solve. Also got it at graTIN/TINes. Fascinating rant about DAHL and ERIK. I basically agree, but if it were Arlene, wouldn't we complain about not being modern enough (btw, she's still alive and active). And Erik Estrada? Really?? What to do when the common clues grow old and there is no one there to replace them? Do we dredge up drummers from '70s bands? Characters from single-season TV shows? I'll take opera, if that's my choice. IMHO

John 10:10 AM  

Those shows in the fifties all had dogs didnt they?? LASSIE, MY FRIEND FLICKA, FURY, JEFFS COLLIE, ROY ROGERS, SKY KING..... I think the only one that didnt was RAMA OF THE JUNGLE. Oh yeah I forgot SGT PRESTON. He had a dog. I really cant remember RINTINTIN as a western, I guess there were horses, and I think a Lawman...

Got the Rebus when I wanted a MARTINT to take on an OUTING. A Very enjoyable puzzle

Jim in Chicago 10:11 AM  

Can a puzzle be easy/challenging? I got that it was a rebus very early on (Martini, for me). I then got most of the TINS down the east coast but none on the Pacific. This left me thinking, should I be looking for RINs, or TINs or maybe nothing at all. But, if the answer to the artisan clue was either the author of Rin Tin Tin or Tin Tin that would have meant an very odd use of the work artisan.

At that point I just decided there were a whole bunch fo TINs, and eventually found them all.

I agree that "tintinabulation" would have been a great addition to this puzzle.

I'm a Doc and you're not 10:12 AM  

Tsk, tsk, tsk

CRETIN (P.C. Alert) is a medical term describing a mentally retarded person from the specific cause of thyroid disease.

shame, shame, shame

Bob Kerfuffle 10:30 AM  

Really liked the puzzle. Took me about a half-hour over breakfast.

First break in the rebus came from TINYTIM, because OLDYELLER was such a gimme and my first long fill.

But I was thinking of throwing in some Devil's Advocate remarks, and already I'm a Doc . . . has beaten me to one: equating Clod with CRETIN is definitely not PC.

Also agree with previous comments that FT DODGE could have had an Abbr. peg, maybe as simple as, "County seat on the Des Moines R."

When I saw the TINs and TINTINs, I thought Herge (sorry about the missing accent) might find his way in, too.

And there might have been an occasional SN rebus!

Stan 10:36 AM  

Really enjoyed figuring these out (especially the two doubles and TINY TIM) until I lost traction in the SW and SLID off the page.

Funny comments today, especially Andrea's (of course). I also had St. Dodge for a while...

dk 10:39 AM  

Got the rebus at OUTINGS. 15 years in So. Cal. and high school and early college swim teams made GLEN and CLARA gimmes. Brother and I would let it slip that we trained with the Santa Clara Swim Club (a big fat lie) to psych out the CRETINs we swam against.

Despite some early fills this one took a long time, over 45 minutes. FTDODGE who knew, I wanted LAKE ERIE to include a the rebus and my old CHESS club days did me no good as I stared at 13d for a long time. The worst was RINTINTIN. I wanted Brett (Maverick) or Ringo (Johnny Ringo), etc. anything but a 25a.

Andrea, rereading Maupin's Tales of the City series and just finished reading selected Herb Caan columns... Only regret in life was not moving to SF years ago.

This is a fine puzzle just not my cuppa

** (2 Stars)

retired_chemist 10:41 AM  

@ Elaine and Edith B - KALE is old slang for money, acc. to my Mac's dashboard dictionary. I think I have heard it before. SCRATCH is informally money on about the 20th definition. I have heard that one too. A long reach, maybe, with two such paleologisms, but not illegitimate.

Two Ponies 10:50 AM  

I have never fully recovered from seeing Old Yeller. That one along with The Yearling and The Red Pony have scarred me for life.
I generally love rebus puzzles but this one did not really glow for me. I got the rebus early and then, like edith b, the snipe hunt was on. The stickiest area for me was trying Ringo where RinTinTin went. I was hearing a theme song in my head of Johnny Ringo (?). I am also trying to dredge up my memories of the show and didn't it take place at a military outpost?
Not a bad Thursday but it was a good thing that Uele was gettable from the crosses. Never heard of it.

newspaperguy 10:59 AM  

Got the rebus easily with martini but still found the puzzle to be a bear. Was "kale" last used by Al Capone? Old Yeller is a must watch--toughens 'em up.

Ulrich 11:03 AM  

I didn't want to comment as all I had in mind has already been said, but when "skerit" is your captcha, you have to take it as a sign.

So, Andrea: Your saintly musings made my day, which started out as dreary as can be here in CT.

And yes, "cretin" or "cretino", if used in common speech, is much more derogatory than "clod" in some languages I know a bit of. I still remember, when I hitchhiked with a friend through Italy in our teens, an Italian lad turning towards us and yelling "cretini"--I turned around and yelled back, in German, "Arschloch", which made us feel really good, not grown up as we were.

Martin 11:06 AM  

Entries like NYSE and FTMEADE are "fielder's choice." They tend to get an abbreviation signal early in the week and not late-week, but even that rule is not hard and fast. This is an editing style, not an editing error.

Rex Parker 11:08 AM  

Professional NYT apologist, to the rescue!


Actually, I agree w/ Martin.


Bob Kerfuffle 11:28 AM  

More on Rin Tin Tin, the TV show:

When I was a kid, say 1957 or 1958, I think RTT was on fairly early on Friday nights. The show was set at a Western outpost, Fort Apache, and opened with a long and loud bugle call. In the summer I would open the living room windows and turn the TV up very loud so that bugle call would sound to my sister and the neighbor kids out in the yard and summon them to the show. (OMG, does that make me an early AV geek?)

I also thought I remembered that the theme song for the show was "Ride Out, You Men of Fort Apache", but Wikipedia and YouTube give me no support. Any fellow geezers to straighten me out?

Arf 11:30 AM  

The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin is an American children's television program which originally aired in 166 episodes on ABC from October 1954 until August 1959. It starred child actor Lee Aaker as Rusty, a boy orphaned in an Indian raid, who was being raised by the soldiers at a US Cavalry post. He and his German shepherd dog, Rin Tin Tin, helped the soldiers to establish order in the American West

OldCarFudd 11:33 AM  

Thank you, Martin and Rex, for explaining about the abbreviation cluing. I, too, had thought it was an error.

And thank you,too, retired_chemist, for looking up the kale definition. I had heard of both scratch and cabbage for money, bu never kale. That had been my last fill in the puzzle.

Thank you, Andrea, for Jesus Chrysler. I think most Christians who are comfortable in their skin would find it funny - and I don't give a hoot about the others.

Agree that cretin isn't PC. Don't care.

Enjoyed the puzzle!

Not an NYT Apologist 11:36 AM  

@Martin - How strange that you should include NYSE in your "Fielder's Choice" category. Following the link to the Wordplay database, every single clue for NYSE contains a hint to abbreviation, including "trading letters" or others which specify "letters".

That said, I don't think such a hint is really needed any day of the week.

Glitch 11:38 AM  

@Bob K

Theme Song Lyrics
Title: "Rin Tin Tin Theme"
By: "Stanley Keyana"

So brave is Corporal Rusty.
Though he is just a boy.
How true as Private Rin Tin Tin
They are the army's ride and joy.

Yo Rinny, Yo Rinny
Pals through thick and thin.

From all the tales of the west
We'll remember best
Corporal Rusty and Private Rin Tin Tin.

Yo Rinny, Yo Rinny
Pals through thick and thin.

From all the tales of the west
We'll remember best
Corporal Rusty and Private Rin Tin Tin.


DB Geezer 11:39 AM  

I got the rebus with TINSMITH, as I had MITH with the crosses. Then when I went west to DODGE, I thought there would be more than one rebus and thought FOR would be the second one. There really should have been an abbreviation in the clue

Thanks for the explanation about KALE @retired chemist. I have heard of scratch for money, but never kale. I started out with NADA until Sir Francis straightened me out.

slypett 12:01 PM  

This puzzle and I parted company somewhere around the UELE River. I was lost in the jungle, in a maze of unnameable brush, with animals hooting, squealing, screaming. Bitten by mosquitos, chiggers, ticks I had no joy. Even when Auntie Google (as at home in the jungle as anywhere) showed up to guide me, I stumbled, fell and had to be carried out on a litter. (We came upon a tribal village during the ordeal.)

I recommend that this puzzle, along with its creator, be consigned to an eternity in quicksand.

Excidic: what you are when you have gastric reflux.

Martin 12:16 PM  


I'm not sure "Trading letters" is an abbreviation signal. I'm less sure about "Frequent 5-Down topic." 5-Down, CNBC, itself is clued as "'Squawk on the Street' airer." In fact, CNBC itself shows how flexible the rule on initialisms is. Acronyms tend to get signaled more often than non-acroynm initialisms, but you better not count on it.

I'm very skeptical that "Stock page heading" has an abbreviation signal.

Moonchild 12:19 PM  

I did OK with this one ....
I got one tin and imagined the theme answer to have something to do with Paul Revere. He was a tin smith, right?
Then, for scratch, I was mislead by the capital S into thinking about the devil, as in Ol' Scratch.
I finally got back on track without as much as adventure as @slypett but it was not an easy one for me.
I liked cretin. It is the sort of insult you can toss at a cretin knowing it will probably go over his head.
I'm hoping to use Jesus Chrysler in conversation or as an exclamation just to see what happens.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Rebus is always a nice challenge. But "kale" and "rock" and the damned Pet Rock dude just muck things up. Finished it, but hated it.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

I don't think Ft. Dodge is fair.
Every instance of Fort Dodge I could find had it spelled out.

Zeke 12:35 PM  

@Martin - Explicity including "Letters" in the clue doesn't hint at acronyms? The difference between Saturday cluing and Thursday cluing doesn't account for how obvious the hint to an acronym is supposed to be?
The NYTimes makes about one factual error per year, maybe. We all (more or less) know that. Sometimes we note that a Saturday level clue slips in on Thursday, and don't include that specific distinction in our posts, or are Mon-Thur solvers and question the validity of a clue which, while it may be valid for Friday/Saturday, seems out of our ken and so question it. These are valid style or editorial judgement points for us to make.

Elaine 12:39 PM  

@Old Car Fudd
I like you, so I am going to ask you to reconsider your "I don't care" 11:33.

When I studied mental retardation as one of the first group of 13 Special Education majors at Ga. State (just College, way back then) the common terms for levels of impairment were idiot, imbecile, moron...No kidding. Instead of Down syndrome, there was 'the M word.' Over the many years of my professional life, I witnessed the changes in attitude as parents began refusing to 'place' their children, instead raising them within their families and working to insure their civil rights--especially educational and vocational. Part of that struggle has been to change the hurtful language that people use to label those who, through no fault of their own, are impaired; it's much more than 'political correctness'--it's basic human respect.

I winced at the clod/cretin bit, but didn't take it up until now. However, I'd like Will Shortz to ask himself if he would have inserted 'the R word'...and if not, perhaps in the name of human kindness it would be good to retire 'cretin,' too. The language is quite rich enough with insults that we need not include every possibility.

On a personal note, our daughter (who has a long list of medical and disability challenges) was on the receiving end of a lot of painful name-calling. Her brother was told, "Your sister is a retard; she walks like an ape." Yeah, yeah-- kids are like that. So...shouldn't we adults be better?
(Oh, P.S.--and please forgive the brag--but our daughter has a PhD in microelectronics and photonics.)

Steve J 1:06 PM  

Re KALE: At this point, I'm not surprised by anything used as slang for money. I'd never heard KALE used, but it's hardly a long leap from cabbage. Looking it up, it looks like KALE's heyday was in the 1930s.

As @retired_chemist said, legit. But, as has been discussed with other things before, there's a difference between legit and fair. This one strikes me as being in the grey area (as other obsolete slang would still be legit, since it's widely known - like bee's knees - but this one seems to score low on both the current and widely known tests).

PlantieBea 1:09 PM  

Oh ACM, you win the prize for the comment of the day. And good points, Elaine.

I found this puzzle to be challenging--worked at it off an on during the AM. Ugh, I didn't see the rebus until I puzzled out the TIN SMITH theme, but after the bell TINKLED, I put the metal to the pedal, OLDE TIN foot, was I.

Like Andrea, I struggled with the SW; had to look up the definition of civvies to figure out AWOL. I also needed help with SKERRITT--never saw Picket Fences or heard of the answer name.

In the end, I liked it, finished with a clean grid, but it took some work.

Martin 1:13 PM  


I'll give you "Trading letters" but not "Stock page heading."

And of course these clues are appropriate to discuss; I never meant to suggest otherwise. And while I think the evidence is that the FTDODGE clue conforms to this editor's approach to multi-word names or phrases with one abbreviation, some solvers might not like that approach. My point is merely that you're likely to see this "error" again, and the careful solver will be on the lookout.

Over half of the 33 KALE clues since 1994 have been slang for money.

Shamik 1:20 PM  

Finished in 10:36, but really wanted that Iowa town to be Pt. Dodge and @Anonymous 12:28 PM: all references I saw had the word Fort spelled out. Doesn't mean the locals don't abbreviate it. Anyone from Iowa want to chime in on this?

Jesus Chrysler! I liked this puzzle.

ArtLvr 1:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 1:33 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 1:34 PM  

So who's solving this crossword?
The Fort Dodge locals or the entire
country? :-)

ArtLvr 1:39 PM  

I was misled last night, trying Au Lait where Au GRATIN ended up -- but I caught on to the rebus hook right away at MARTINIS, like many others.

My second mistake was looking for symmetry in the location of the rebus squares, jumping to the SW from the NE and hitting the ROCKS as far as that potentially easy out was concerned. Tolls for the TINKLES slowed me a tad there, and I never did quite believe in KALE -- just moved on with DOG-like TENACITY.

It didn't get UGLIER though, except for ugh-ly CFCS -- in fact I was able to SAIL along after that, with a tail-wag for canines RIN TIN TIN and OLD YELLER.

UELE gave me GUINEA, and LET IT SNOW was all too timely... but kudos to Holden Baker for this titillaTINg Thursday romp.


dk 1:54 PM  

@elaine, ask your daughter (aka Ms. Smarty-pants) why using just 1 ply of toilet paper over the flash of just about any camera eliminates red-eye. Inquiring minds want to know.

For the other than scientific replies, I already have a room filled with flood-lights, reflective screens, light boxes and a fine collection of barbies... I just want to know why "photonicly-speakin" the TP works.

Moron was no longer a diagnostic term when I practiced but my clients often used that term to describe me. As a highly trained clinician I would reply: "Rubber and glue, it bounces off me and sticks to you." Feel free to try this at home.

Secret word: aurth - The sound stepcat makes when coughing up a hair ball.

Doc John 2:07 PM  

Boy, did I get blown out of the water!
I had "uns(tin)gily" instead and thought G Smith might be some artist who worked with TIN.
At least I got the SW correct (had no idea why KALE was scratch but what the hey). Now I do.

JenCT 2:18 PM  

Like others, uncovered the rebus with MARTINI.

Misread the clue for 61A (Someone in civvies) as "Someone in skivvies who shouldn't be" and wrote in JOHN. Had to laugh at that.

Never heard of KALE for money.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

Although Will Shortz once wrote that when readers complain that there's a mistake in a puzzle, it generally turns out he's right and the reader is wrong, he does not know his Dante. The frequently misquoted line is "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here", not "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here".

He once used "Wellesley student" as a clue for "coed", which I always meant to challenge him on. There are no coeds at a women's college.

Dante Alighieri 2:47 PM  

@Anonymous, 2:20 PM:

Thank you for the reminder! I've been dead so long (about 689 years) that I had forgotten that I had written The Comedy in English, so only one wording could be correct. If I had been so silly as to write in Italian, I would have been subject to the vagaries of various translators!

Rex Parker 2:54 PM  

First off: Dante, nice burn.

Second, here is the Cary (19c.) translation that popularized the phrase: note that Cary's trans. is diff. from both the puzzle's and the above complainer's...

"THROUGH me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric mov'd:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon ye who enter here."

xyz 3:02 PM  

First, Will Shhortz constantly allows TARSAL clued as "ankle" and it is foot, foot, foot! Ankle contains Tibia, Fibula and Talus. Talus is a hind-FOOT bone. Only one of those can legitimately be called "ANKLE BONE" and that's TALUS.

Talk about factual errors! Jesus Chrysler. :-0 Fix that please, Will?

More Medico:
MORON, IMBECILE and IDIOT are medical terms for decreasing IQ levels not in use in present day. Think mild, moderate, profound retardation. (Idiot is actually something like sub 25) CRETIN does not have a specific IQ range as I remember. RETARDED is still an OK word, RETARD is cruel. Developmentally, "IQ" is a ratio of mental age to chronological age.

Anyway, I have yet to grow to like rebuses, but when its the same word/letters and it is symmetrical, well, maybe OK; this was half of that.

Figured out REBUS ALERT at the cross of SIT IN and TIN EAR as I could not make any other 3-letter work for 62D. Then Martini made sense and well, the puzzle was OK. Give it a C from me, or a 3-4 out of 10 logarithmic. (I grade tough as a critic, too)

I had NIKES for 1A for a bi as that is actually an anti-aircraft missile, oh well so much for actually using real knowledge ...

Maybe I'll learn to love a REBUS some day, but not yet despite trying.

OldCarFudd 3:17 PM  

@Elaine - I'm non-trivially annoyed. No, not at you, but at cyberspace. I composed what I hoped was a reasoned answer to your objection, thought I had posted it, and it vanished. So I'll try again.

I totally agree that using a derogatory slur to describe a physically or mentally handicapped person is insensitive and uncalled-for. The same is true of similar words used for race, religion, or nationality.

I think it's different to use a derogatory word to someone to whom it does not literally apply. The word "jackass" comes to mind. If call someone a jackass, it doesn't mean I consider him genetically equine, but only that I consider him worthy of a serious insult. (I run the risk of being slugged, of course.) The clue for cretin was clod - that is, someone of IQ in probably the normal range who's not using it or who's otherwise behaving like a jerk. To me, that puts it in the jackass category. If the clue for cretin had been retarded person, or mental defective, I would have agreed with you totally.

I have long believed that we will have achieved true equality, not when we no longer tell ethnic jokes, but when anyone can tell one freely and everyone will laugh and no one will fell threatened. The problem with ethnic jokes isn't that they aren't funny (some of them make me bust a gut, though never a rib) but that the teller's eth has often threatened or subjugated the tellee's eth, and that makes the tellee nervous, often with good reason. We're a long way from that level of equality.

I had childhood polio. I can ski and bicycle, and even jog a bit, but I limp. When I was a kid, if someone called me a gimp, I worried I might be about to be beaten up. If I heard it today on a ghetto street corner, I'd have the same worry, so for that and other reasons I stay away from ghetto street corners.. But otherwise, it no longer bothers me, because I'm not threatened. I was a bit startled, but not afraid or insulted, when my step-son told me he had described me to a friend as an old lame guy. It was true - how could I object?

Two Ponies 3:18 PM  

Re: cretin. I worked for many years in a state institution for the retarded so I've heard every variation of insults, believe me.
However, this word has crept into modern language as more of a synonym for one displaying poor manners or a degenerate. As clued, I believe it was meant in more of the slang usuage than an out-dated medical term. The Urban Dictionary seems to agree.

mac 3:21 PM  

Figured out the rebus at outings and martini as well, but at that time I had the xxmith already. My grid looked like raisin bread. Love "unstingtingly". Instead of RinTinTin I wanted Shane (only know it from puzzles). Thought the 13D clue for "chess" was good!

@Andrea New York loves you Michaels: LOL! The city wants to keep you.

@Doc John: LOL as well!

excellent crosswordese: meted.

Elaine 3:37 PM  

@Old Car Fudd
Two Ponies

(I'm using up my final post just for you!) You have good points, and I don't disagree...though I will point out that I originally responded because of the "I don't care" part. My own take, again, is that some words are more 'loaded,' and since, frankly, we have so many insults to choose from, we can retire some of the 'grey area' terms. OAF, BOOR were my first thoughts when I read the clue, and I still think either is better than the correct answer. At no time did I think [clod] was cluing a medical term.

Our daughter uses 'crip,' and I don't think she'd turn a hair if someone else called her that...but generally she hangs with people who're pretty unlikely to do so. Among the young folk, cough, cough, 'lame' has come to have a slightly different meaning unrelated to one's gait...but I'm betting your stepson just didn't have an alternate term for gimp (and didn't want to use that one; grey area again.)

retired_chemist 3:39 PM  

My handy dashboard dictionary defines cretin as a stupid person. It also mentions a dated definition: someone who is deformed and mentally handicapped because of congenital thyroid deficiency.

chefbea 3:46 PM  

@mac Did your grid look like Claus Oldenberg's raisin bread???

sanfranman59 3:46 PM  

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 22:19, 19:32, 1.14, 84%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 12:09, 9:24, 1.29, 94%, Challenging

@Andrea ... your memory works better than the tags in Rex's posts. Holden Baker's previous NYT puzzle was a month ago (January 25).

archaeoprof 4:11 PM  

Why did it take so long to realize this one was a rebus?

56A reminded me of the episode of "Friends" where Phoebe finds out the real ending of OLD YELLER.

lit.doc 4:15 PM  

The first place I started to get much traction was NE, despite IPOD before IMAC and initially getting the LAKE ERIE pair backwards (total SWAG on that one). “Choice at checkout” I’d seen very recently, Pet Clark was a gimme, and ICE UP was easy enough from the I. Then I saw the rebus and I thought geez, it’s gonna be one of those Thursdays.

Went directly to 44A without passing Go, started working the crosses, and got it with ___IT_. When I figured out 24D’s stacked rebuses, I thought double geez. Once I got SE filled I could see that the rebuses weren’t going to be symmetrical on the grid (I already had A GAME in NW), and thought double geez with a side of fear.

To my surprise and delight, however, the trip westward went pretty smoothly, save for little bumps like DIRECT before DIS[TIN]CT, and wondering briefly when the heck Dodge had been sainted. Done in just under fifty minutes.

Lots of fun, and maybe my fastest Thursday ever. I bet Rex rates it Easy.

andrea jc michaels 4:27 PM  

wow, I am happy I checked back on the blog!

aha!!!! Thank you for finding that! I knew his name rang a bell! And now it's posted...Holden Baker did that clever ONE UNDER PAR, BOGEY Golf ouTINg!!!
Maybe he will appear on the 25th of each month and if he sees his shadow, 6 more weeks till the next rebus or something...

funny story... the fact that your captcha was SKERIT scares me that they are reading our emails... mine was motor and look what happened!

(Speaking of which, @rex, if you had to delete posts of folks my random comment offended, I am actually sorry. I assure you it was an offthetopofmyheadpostmidnight word thing, not a religious one!

That said, I can't wait to use it again if a similarly appropriate occasion arises within my lifetime!

mitchs 4:36 PM  


I don't have a personal stake in this as do the both of you, but it seems to me that Will's passing this entry is a pretty good ipso facto argument that the term cretin, in current usage, isn't ever meant in a literal sense, if indeed, the user is even aware of the medical definition.

BTW, as an illustration that sometimes "PC", for lack of better term, constructions are useful and even needed euphemisms, No more than 35 years ago I worked in an institution called "Beechwood Home for Incurables". Yikes. (See Dante quote.)

lit.doc 5:21 PM  

The only problem with UELE is that it's misclued. A "uele" is actually an extremely small stringed instrument used at luaus.

@Andrea, I always thought it was Jesus H. Chrysler. Hmmmm.

@Elaine, BRAVA!

"Ye shall reepe as ye shall, so?"

Charles Bogle 6:28 PM  

@andrea: you ROCK, kiddo...also could not finish. Waterloo for me was NW..also RINGO was a tv western in 50's and that boxed me up. I like a rebus too, except when I come up w alternative answers, not rebused, that seem to make sense to me. Drat!


Doc John 6:45 PM  

The comments about "cretin" spurred me to add this about the specific definitions of "idiot", "imbecile" and "moron".

idiot- IQ from 0-25
imbecile- IQ from 26-50
moron- IQ from 51-75

Not sure what the nomenclature is from 76-100 but I'd like to volunteer "palin" (with apologies to Trig and Michael).

CoolPapaD 6:50 PM  

I was totally pwned by this puzzle - hate Googling on Thursday, but the SW (KALE et al) killed me. Still liked it!

Question for those still reading: Is there not a "rule" regarding the symmetry of the rebus squares? Seems to me that some puzzles adhere to symmetrical rebus placement, while many do not. Just asking!

Robert of San Francisco 6:50 PM  

Andrea, St. Dodge is the patron saint of avoiding responsibility. It's his fault that I do crossword puzzles. Gotta go light a candle now...

Glitch 8:49 PM  


Rebus symmetry not a rule, as this puzzle would indicate.

Have solved some which were symmetrical --- it just made them "less challenging", as a themed puzzle where you can enter answers just by knowing they are part of the theme.

I would not expect a Thursday rebus to have symmetrical entries.

Also, given the last few discussions, most "rules" turn out to be conventions and/or editiorial styles, neither hard nor fast.


Anonymous 9:31 PM  

@Doc John, Redanman, et al

The old nomenclature was superceded, as mentioned by Redanman (though there were interim terms such as educable, trainable, etc.) by nicer-sounding mild, moderate, severe/profound. I have taught at all levels. One of the missteps, alas, has been the reliance on 'medical models' of retardation, with essentially unhelpful emphases on etiology, labels, and IQs. None of these are as useful as assessment and goal-setting by effective teachers. Impaired students are not a diagnostic group, but are significantly individual in every way. Sadly, the resulting over-emphasis on written goals and objectives serves only to drain the teacher's hands-on time with students...and drives some to earlier retirement. Hand up, eyes cast down. I just got too tired. If I had done only what was in the goals, my students would have had a staggeringly impoverished program; if I had written goals for all I was doing, I would have done nothing but paperwork. I'd like to believe that rationality will someday return to special education.

You DO NOT KNOW who wrote this post, okay?

Stan 9:43 PM  

A very touching post, Anonymous 9:31.

lit.doc 9:54 PM  

@anonynice 9:31, I'm with Stan. I hear your pain re the currently [insert tasteless adjective] state of public education. I'm maybe four years behind you, and that only because of the looming pension. I'm so tired of having to do everything but what's actually best for my KIDDOs.

@Doc John, LMFAO re your clinical assessment of Michael P!!

lit.doc 9:54 PM  
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Stan 11:20 PM  

Report from Maine: wind noisy, houselights flashing, TV dying, computers oddly stable, 70 mph winds reported on (nearby) Isles of Shoals, cats blase but grouping around us... this may [brrrxzt,pop] be my last {prrrxchhht] transmission... for a while

sanfranman59 1:32 AM  

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 6:36, 6:54, 0.96, 41%, Medium
Tue 11:04, 8:46, 1.26, 94%, Challenging
Wed 11:17, 11:53, 0.95, 39%, Easy-Medium
Thu 22:49, 19:33, 1.17, 87%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:18, 3:39, 0.90, 23%, Easy-Medium
Tue 5:24, 4:28, 1.21, 90%, Challenging
Wed 5:25, 5:50, 0.93, 32%, Easy-Medium
Thu 11:26, 9:23, 1.22, 91%, Challenging

Anonymous 2:52 AM  

should've gotten QUEN{TIN} TARAN{TIN}O in there, that would've been epic

mac 8:18 AM  

@anon 2.52: just stared at a cryptic clue with that name in it!

Rick 12:29 PM  

I'm a relative beginner, so this one took me 24 hours to solve (with about 23 hours of work/sleep in between!). I kept wanting to put "Ottumwa" for the county seat on the Des Moines River. I had the rebus at "ouTINgs". Really enjoyed it once I figured it was a rebus. But clearly I need some more practice before I can do all Thursday puzzles in one sitting.

Ed 5:54 PM  

Love, love, love, your analysis of Friday's puzzle and totally agree.

Waxy in Montreal 9:37 PM  

From SynCity:

Found this a fun but challenging puzzle, doable except for Washington state where STINGER, AGAME and ILIAD went permanently AWOL.

I've been around for almost 7 decades and must agree with those who found KALE a major stretch from SCRATCH. Never heard it used in the context of money.

RINTINTIN was the favo(u)rite TV show of my brothers and myself as kids. Never missed an episode. Interesting that the Canadian Joe Sawyer (Sauers) who played Sgt. Biff O'Hara, a comic relief character in the series, had starred 20 years earlier in the classic 1935 John Ford film "The Informer". How the mighty do sometimes fall.

mrtim 1:57 AM  

My first completed rebus!! Yea!! I caught on to it with MARTINI/OUTINGS. Gratifying to final catch on to one of these things!...

sificligh 12:35 PM  

I also got the rebus at the MARTINI/OUTINGS crossing. I actually did this out of order with Friday's puzzle, which was sort of a coincidence given that Friday was way easier than this puzzle. "Scratch" and KALE as two slang terms for money finally did me in, and I surrendered without having completed the SW corner. Alas.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

My annoyance at the over-obfuscation RP mentioned (cluing of ERIK and DAHL, among others) coupled with the obscurity of UELE turned what should have been a fun solve into a not-pleasurable slog.

In addition, my annoyance at Will Shortz's sexist clues grows: SCOLD clued as "termagant" rather than as a verb performed by someone of non-specified gender. It *really* didn't occur to him that such clues are problematic? Words that punish women for speaking up or speaking out or having agency; words for which there is no masculine equivalent, because it's a given that men are allowed to have agency -- when is he going to *get* it that such language contributes to the continued misogyny in our culture and that misogyny has a real and measurable effect on women's lives?

(I'm solving it on 4-22-19 because the NYT is sharing it as one of its three weekly freebies from its archive.)

Bob Kerfuffle 12:05 PM  

@Anonymous, 11:38 AM -- Thank you so much for the last line of your post above! As one who always checked the box to get all follow-up comments, I have often wondered what triggered comments from the distant past.

Scrolling through this entry now takes me back to my youth, when I was a committed Rexite and always had something to say. I'll even confess, for the first time, that I was behind the comment credited to Dante Alighieri (2:47 PM) which got a thumbs-up from Rex!

Anonymous 6:47 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: Lovely user name! And thanks for sharing your erudition -- I, like everyone or virtually everyone else, had thought it was "all ye." Best wishes.

RP: Thanks for allowing me to comment years after the puzzle appeared. Though I read your blog infrequently (I'm just not blog-oriented), when I do I enjoy it and learn from it. Also, I appreciate your having spoken up about other instances of tone-deaf cluing. Best wishes.

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