1824 Vienna premiere / THU 6-17-10 / Tony-nominated choreographer White / Eponymous doctor with maneuver / Hit 2006 film banned every Arab country

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Constructor: Corey Rubin

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: ODE TO [JOY] (13D: Work incorporated in 33-Across ... or a description of this puzzle?) — a rebus puzzle with six "JOY" squares; BEETHOVEN'S NINTH runs across the middle of the grid (33A: 1824 Vienna premiere)

Word of the Day: ONNA White (35D: Tony-nominated choreographer White) —

Onna White (March 24, 1922 – April 8, 2005) was a Canadian choreographer and dancer nominated for eight Tony Awards. White was especially adept at choreographing dance numbers for actors with little or no dance training. [...] // She choreographed both the stage version and screen versions of The Music Man (1962), 1776 (1972) and Mame (1974) // The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted Miss White an Academy Honorary Award for Oliver! (1968), one of the rare occasions that the Academy recognized choreography on film. Other recipients include Gene Kelly for "career achievements", Jerome Robbins for choreographic achievement on film", Michael Kidd (Ms. White's mentor) for "services to the art of dance in the art of the screen" and Stanley Donen for "body of work". Fred Astaire's was much earlier, and was for his body of work. Onna White's Oscar is the only one that states the name of a film, i.e. "To Onna White for her outstanding choreography achievement for "Oliver". (Ref. The Academy of Motion picture Arts and Sciences.) (wikipedia)
• • •

If you'd told me in January that by mid-year, my fastest Thursday time of the year would come on a *rebus* puzzle, I'd have told you you were nuts. But here we are. This is the easiest rebus puzzle you're ever likely to see, probably because you can't really hide "JOY." Every instance of "JOY" involves a meaning related to the word "JOY" (compare, say, "DOG," which can be hidden inside, say, "DO-GOODER" or "DOGMA"). Once I got through the (pretty obvious) trap at 1A: Poe poem, with "The" ("BELLS") ("RAVEN! Wait, that's too easy for Thursday!"), and completed the NW corner, BUNDLE OF [JOY] was quite obvious. Wrote out BUNDLE OF, saw there was just the one square left, and immediately wrote and circled "J" (to symbolize "JOY"). And I was off. Quickly. If it weren't for some fumbling in the areas surrounding ONNA (!?!?!) and POO (11A: Cutesy-___) (that clue/answer is my very least favorite thing about this puzzle), I'd have been under 5 minutes today. Instead, just a handful of seconds over.

As for POO—first, inherently, yuck. Second, I don't know the phrase "Cutesy-POO." Never heard anyone say it ever. Figured it had to be PIE, even though "Cutie PIE" is probably the phrase I was thinking of. 12D: Present was at least a little ambiguous. PIE led to IN HAND, which felt plausible, if not great. But ODE TO [JOY] was undeniable, so I was left with Cutesy-PIO (actually, at first, I think I had AT HAND and "Cutesy PAO!"). Eventually, ON HAND revealed itself to me, as did POO. But come on: In a very easy, otherwise ENJOYABLE puzzle, do you really want your solver bogged down in POO? I hope not. I also really hope I wasn't the only (fast) solver to have a POO problem. Look how much you're making me write POO!?! It's like a cruel joke.

[Encore presentation!]

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Newborn (BUNDLE OF [JOY])
  • 8D: One way to jump (FOR [JOY])
  • 30A: Hershey's brand (ALMOND [JOY])
  • 13D: Work incorporated in 33-Across ... or a description of this puzzle? (ODE TO [JOY])
  • 26A: Gratifying (EN[JOY]ABLE)
  • 28D: "Dubliners" author ([JOY]CE)
  • 47A: Euphoric (OVER[JOY]ED)

  • 38D: What there was in Mudville (NO [JOY])
  • 43A: Pastime for a car thief, perhaps ([JOY]RIDING)
  • 53A: Best-selling novel of 1989, with "The" ("[JOY] LUCK CLUB")
  • 53D: Al ___, 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the triple jump ([JOY]NER)
Can you guess the one moment in this puzzle where I exclaimed "Dang [yes, I say 'dang'], that's good!"? Hint: nothing to do with JOY. Second hint: nothing to do with RIBOSE (6D: Nucleic acid sugar). Answer: SET-UP MEN (10D: Relief pitchers prior to closers). It's a pitch-perfect baseball term that I can't remember ever seeing in a puzzle. These are the guys that get no love—the ones that hold down the fort until it's time to bring in the Big Gun: a Rivera or a Papelbon or a Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) (all of whom rarely pitch more than an inning — in 2009 Rodriguez appeared in 70 games and had just 68 innings pitched). I also love BAWDY (17A: Blue) and the grid's heartfelt declaration at the top of the grid: "I LOVE / BORAT"! (18A: Hit 2006 film banned in every Arab country except Lebanon).

  • 50A: Region known as the Valley of the Moon (SONOMA) — Noooo idea. Thought the answer might actually be a place on the moon itself. According to Jack London, by way of the Miwok and/or Pomo tribes, SONOMA translates to "Valley of the Moon" (wikipedia).

  • 59A: Top of a Roman candle? (IGNIS) — that is, the Latin ("Roman") word for "fire."
  • 65A: Elizabethan dramatist Thomas (KYD) — author the hugely popular and fantastically violent "The Spanish Tragedy."
  • 34D: Eponymous doctor with a maneuver (HEIMLICH) — "maneuver" part made this a gimme.
  • 40D: Container on a pole (HOD) — which sends brain immediately reeling: "Pole? Which "pole"? The Poland pole or the North Pole or the stick kind of pole or ...?" A HOD is what bricklayers use to carry bricks and mortar.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Greene 7:34 AM  

Ah, rebus Thursdays, how I LOVE you. Agree with Rex that this was about the easiest rebus puzzle I've ever done. I unlocked the gimmick at the James JOYCE clue (28D) and never looked back.

I tore through this thing quickly, but got completely stuck in the south central area. I misspelled 63A as CREAM and ended up with ALGAE for 51D. I felt pretty solid about this answer too because of the crossing L from JOYLUCKCLUB. Could not see IGNIS to save my life until I cleaned out the whole section and started anew. Finally saw SPAS which led to SLIME which led to the correct spelling of CREME and done.

Cutesy-POO was a fairly common phrase where I grew up, so no problem there.

Berlin's I LOVE A PIANO and ONNA White satisfy my Broadway Jones for the week. The Wiki entry on Ms. White is so true: she really had a gift for making nondancing actors look expert. One just needs to think of Robert Preston sailing through the "Shipoopi" dance with Shirley Jones in The Music Man or the library dance sequence from the same film. The steps look quite complicated, but they're really not. For a choreographer, that's a really tough assignment.

foodie 7:42 AM  

I like a puzzle with an upbeat vibe and this certainly had it! It felt like a Wednesday with a rebus.

PIE, PIO?, -IO? -OO? POO???????? You're making me go from PIE to POO?

And the PASOAN in 11D was highly questionable.

Favorite theme answer: JOYLUCKCLUB-- I greatly enjoyed reading it.

A chuckle out of BYTE and its clue.

Favorite comment from Rex: "You can't really hide JOY". What a wonderful thought!

fikink 7:45 AM  

ONNA - a great crossword name; didn't know she choreographed The Music Man. Thanks for the story @Greene.

"...probably because you can't really hide 'JOY.'" This is true, @Rex.

"Present" clue for IN HAND was off-putting.

HOD describes a slow, distasteful, rude person in these parts (Iowa)

I enjoyed the easy Tuesday-ish Thursday, for I have much to do today, but, had I the time, I would have missed the usual Thursday challenge. huh?

nanpilla 7:51 AM  

@greene : Had the exact same problem in the Texas area. CREam and algae seemed so right! I think I spent half of my time in that area, and finally just erased everything and started the section over. This ended up making it take much longer than my usual Thursday, so it was depressing to see Rex's easy rating.

Also had Pie instead of POO, which didn't help either. And OPUSES is just ugly, although correct.

CaseAceFos 8:02 AM  

I feel like I've been SETUPMAN, with this Thursday creation composed by young Mr. Rubin, where I almost missed the (RE)BUS!

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

i thought "SETUP MEN" and 10d was about salesmen. "pitchers" being a double entendre for tossers and pitch-mnen, and "closers" as in ones who close the deal. if you've bought a car recently you know they gang up on you, and the "set-up person" is the one who continues to talk with the sales manager and then, at the last minute has to take a call or something and gives way to some other guy who closes you. but i'm probably making too much of it all...LOL

there is a wine called "valley of the moon" and it's from :cue dramatic music: sonoma county.

i've never heard of cutsey-poo either. i wonder if it is a colloquialism for some remote part of the united states. after all, i grew up saying peek-a-boo and everyone in the south knows it as peep-eye. it could happen.

the good thing about the embedded "JOY"s was the randomness of it and the absence of any clues in the cluing. that at least kept me guessing.

and is it me or are thursdays official "REBUS" puzzle days? sunday has them too occasionally...but thursday seems to be the day of preference.

Leslie 8:18 AM  

Another day where I've got nothing new to add. Yes, I've heard CUTESY-POO before, so it's my own darn fault for reading the clue as "cutie," not "cutesy." But still, not as common a phrase as "cutie-pie" by a long shot. At least Rex made me lol with his rant on typing out POO so often.

A tip of the hat to Corey Rubin for inserting the JOYs symmetrically in the puzzle. I'm impressed!

CaseAceFos 8:20 AM  

"To melt the ice, do ESKIMO's take a hot POO before even uttering a word?" MANET men smoke, but Fu Manchu. Seems Corey R. has a Nice-a ROONEY BAWDY of work ONHAND for us, and if that's the case, I say, ALMOND to that!

Jo 8:24 AM  

Not as easy as for some, though POO was one of my first words. Would have got trapped in RAVEN if I had not known for sure that ESAU was one of Abraham's grandsons. Had to rummage through Poe Poetry for The Bells. NW corner and Center last to get. Liked SETUPMEN even though it was my last word.Always something to be learned; had never heard of TVA, Chris ISAAK, I LOVE A PIANO, ONNA White, EL PASOAN or RIBOSE, and JOYNER was a distant memory. Got the rebus because I was sure that Joyce wrote Dubliners. Got quickly to BEETHOVEN from there but still took a bit to land on the NINTH. What can I say? It was very early in the morning.

joho 8:25 AM  

I, too, say POO to POO. I will even say that I POO POO POO. There, I've created my own pile.

Other than that I loved this puzzle. Perhaps a bit easy but so much fun, who cares? My solving experience was full of JOY. Only write-overs were LAne before LADD and, of course, Pie before POO!

An added plus was me joyfully humming the theme song while filling in the squares.

Thank you, Corey Rubin!

SethG 8:38 AM  

This is one time a good "I ___ house" partial would have been appreciated. And you went with _Andy_ Rooney? Now?

Yes for PIO. I left HEIMLICH blank at first because I was pretty sure it wouldn't be VALSALVA's maneuver, my first thought. It wasn't. I'm good.

John V 8:42 AM  

Easiest Thursday in memory for this non-speedster. NW was hardest, second day in a row. Thought 57D was clever (part of a gig).

The rebus give away for me was 28D, "Dubliners" author.

hartless 9:02 AM  

What a joyful romp! I too could quibble over poo, but why? This puzzle was too much fun to dwell on the negative. Thanks, Corey.

ArtLvr 9:13 AM  

I have to say it -- Corey Rubin's work was a JOY to behold! Delighted to see BEETHOVENS NINTH right across the middle, and the symmetry of the JOYs. I loved I LOVE A PIANO too...

Other than starting off with Poe's Raven rather than the BELLS, and wanting Cutesy Pie pie) where POO popped up in the end (pun), all went well.

HEIMLICH was a gimme, but I never heard of SONOMA as Valley of the Moon, and never saw ONNA because it came along with crosses. So glad she was the WOTD -- many thanks to Corey, Rex, @Green et al for the upbeat Thursday!


PanamaRed 9:27 AM  

Thoroughly enJOYed this one. Had the same thought as Rex and others on 1A - put RAVEN in at first, knowing it wouldn't last.

@Rex - nice write-up on POO, I, too, started with PIE.

Didn't know IGNIS - thanks for the explanation.

Thanks, Corey.

dk 9:44 AM  

The anal expressive POO and itsup instead of HERES at 66A caused some delay. The real killer was eaus (waters) for 51A instead of SPA.

Got the theme with JOYCE changed altoids to ALMONDJOY and I was off to the races theme wise.

The sign of the CRAB is coming up.

** (2 Stars) Fine Thursday but a little simple -- like me!

OldCarFudd 9:46 AM  

With a choice of bibb or cobb lettuce, I chose the wrong one, so I ended up with The Cells and Osaak. Otherwise, a fun puzz.

Cutie-pie means a pretty girl and is a compliment, except to feminists. Cutesy-poo means an over-the-top-cloying situation, or decor, or even a line of argument, and is anything but complimentary.

@SethG - I know what Valsalva means, and have done it many times while flying (especially descending in unpressurized aircraft), but I don't think I've ever heard it referred to as a maneuver.

Orange 9:49 AM  

I didn't have trouble with POO. Asked my husband, "Cutesy-blank, 3 letters." He didn't know. I said "Cutesy-poo, have you heard that term?" He scowled. Our kid said, "That's what I was thinking of!" Guess the boy gets that from me.

Orange 9:50 AM  

Can one do a vuvuzela Valsalva maneuver?

ArtLvr 9:55 AM  

p.s. Thomas KYD was special to me too, as the only other play attributed to him with certainty, besides "The Spanish Tragedy" (1589) noted by Rex, was his last: "Cornelia" (1594) -- and that's my first name! He adapted it from a French play.

Borrowing was common in those days, and it's fascinating too that Kyd was perhaps the author of a lost play known as an Ur-Hamlet, and he's considered to be the father of the Revenge Play. In his time, he was said to be more popular than Shakespeare... so why not adapt his Hamlet?

Kyd, one-time roommate of Christopher Marlowe, was also the one who was arrested and tortured for heresy. He attributed the offending manuscript to Marlowe, whose death was covertly arranged afterward. Kyd himself was released from prison but died in poverty in late 1594, only 35 years old!


Rick Stein 9:56 AM  

Orange: that might be a vuvuzelectomy, which I understand many attending World Cup matches in South Africa would love to happen!

I was a little slow on figuring out JOY, but when the breakthrough occurred I zipped along nicely.

Smitty 10:00 AM  

had the same pie/poo problem and even threw a coo in there as a var. on Coochie Coo. (never heard of cutesy poo

JC66 10:06 AM  


Great write up, as usual, but I'm just a little curious why 33A BEETHOVENSNINTH isn't considered a theme answer.

Van55 10:21 AM  

I didn't give a POO about POO. Fell easily for me. SW was a struggle. Didn't know KYD, SONOMA, ONNA or the key of Schubert's seventh. More medium than easy for me, though, though the JOY rebus was a cinch.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:27 AM  

I, self-proclaimed lover of rebus puzzles, somehow managed to find this JOYful crossword medium-challenging.

I can't find any particular reason; I was just spinning my wheels and not getting the big picture until I came to 38 D (What there was in Mudville) which slapped me in the face and poured cold water on my head with its unmistakable answer.

The rest went much more easily after that, although the side-by-side SLIME and OPUSES still resisted a bit.

I would go along with @foodie, who found PASOAN questionable, and I would add, ugly in any case.

But overall, I liked the puzzle.

retired_chemist 10:28 AM  

Cutesy-POO was my first correct entry. Knew it wasn't PIE. First incorrect entry: RAVEN, like most of us, which I kept in play until late. Tried TOO @ 16A, and thought the side by side double O's would lead to some very interesting answers. Not....

Got into the theme at 20A from _____EOF_ and 50A ALMOND_ simultaneously, with enough of 13D in place to confirm ODE TO JOY. Immediately went to 33A - enough was there to confirm BEETHOVEN'S NINTH. About as easy a time as I have ever had with a rebus.

A lot of nice fill, most of it commented on by Rex and others above.

Thanks you, Mr. Rubin.

mitchs 10:28 AM  

Rex, thanks for the dose of Stevie in the morning.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

This wasn't easy for me ... in fact, embarrassingly, I couldn't solve the middle clue despite getting the rebus quickly. I knew Joyce was right but didn't make the connection to the theme. Had NAY for NAE, ANNA, ALPE for ALPS, and never heard of HOD. So I was left with a jumble of random letters and finally gave up and peeked.

bookmark 10:44 AM  

Michael Dirda's review of THE NINTH: BEETHOVEN AND THE WORLD OF 1824 by Harvey Sachs is in today's Washington Post. Well worth reading if you're a Beethoven fan.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:48 AM  

Also, 28 D was doubly easy because yesterday was Bloomsday!

PuzzleNut 11:08 AM  

Dang, another good time for me, only hear how easy most others found the puzzle. Started with raven and Pie, but wrote them both in lightly as I figured they wouldn't stand. Another write-over with ScuMs. Almost entered JOY for Mudville, but then was OVERJOYED when I saw the rebus. From there is was smooth sailing.
I'm a big classical music lover and the 9th is right up there with Beethoven's Violin Concerto. Could listen to those pieces forever.

Glitch 11:11 AM  

Backing up @OldCarFudd:

Cutesy Poo WARNING: Gnome Alert

...and as long as I'm here:

Hod Picture


jae 11:29 AM  

Fun breezy puzzle. @joho -- me too for LANE which slowed me down a bit in NW. I didn't read the clue carefully for 53a and had JOYOF for a while, which left me staring. Only other misstep was ATBAT for 7d. Nice easy Thurs.

retired_chemist 11:43 AM  

Another clue for ONNA would be Japanese woman (女). In my book (though perhaps not everyone's) this would be less obscure that ONNA White.

lit.doc 11:52 AM  

Wow, more fun than struggle on a Thursday! Especially after watching the (late rebroadcast) of the Spain vs. Switzerland futbol match, I really needed a little gentle puzzle love. Got it. Done in 33:13, my fastest Thursday ever, so no surprise Rex gave it an E for Easy.

Rebus theme was a gimme at 28D and, better, 38A, another gimme, told me that the rebuses were probably symmetrical. Turned out to be true, which really aided solving.

Clueing was nonetheless good enough to force me into RAFTS of write-overs. 51A EAUS/SPAS, 61A LOGIC/IRONY, 64A MANET (yeah, I know, keep reading), and then 54, 55, and 56D GOAT/CRAB, ARIA/LONE, and SOIT/UNES in quick succession, which restored MANET. Whew. Oh yeah, me too with RAVEN right out of the gate.

Gotta take issue with 27D’s clue. The opposite of “aye” is “nay”. “Nae” is Scottish dialect for a negation, no? Someone talk me down.

@OldCarFudd, you nailed CUTSEY-POO. That’s exactly how I’ve always heard it used.

lit.doc 11:54 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
lit.doc 11:55 AM  

Uh, how 'bout 38 DOWN instead.

Tinbeni 12:00 PM  

Still can't get my head around Cutsey POO.
Not an expression I'd use.

NO JOY in Mudville gave me the rebus (not a rebus fan, but ...) and this became a one mug probably fastest solve ever.

ONNA was the learning moment.
I wonder if she hung out with OOLA, OOOLA and OONA.

Noam D. Elkies 12:11 PM  

Yes, a mostly JOYful experience (figured out what was going on at 28D:[JOY]CE after remembering that (1) no it wasn't Poe and (2) I already saw Poe in the 1A clue — yes, I resisted "Raven" until getting more information). No problem with 11D:POO, which I deposited on the grid with no crosses; really if you have to POO on your puzzle how else can you clue it? (Answer, courtesy of xwordinfo: via Nanki-Poo or Poo-Bah.) No love here for 10D:SHTUPMEN, but better that than some random fifth baseman who played for the Mudville Muddle in the 50's or whatever. 11D:PASOAN is worse, but poo happens. Yes, I was briefly distracted by eaus/eaux for 51A:SPAS, and more randomly by "oses" for 41D:ENES (hydrocarbons, not carbohydrates). Nice clues for 18A:BORΔT and 59A:IGNIS, the latter of which could have had a more fatuous clue.


shrub5 12:15 PM  

Same experience as @twangster. DNF. Ended up with a big fat mess of poo in the CREME/SLIME/SPAS/OPUSES area -- had cream/algae and a hodgepodge of partially completed answers when I ground to a halt. Also had a few wrong letters/blanks so that I could not see BEETHOVEN'S NINTH. Just ran out of patience there and now I think the answer was obvious from 13D.

I did get all the theme answers and detected the rebus at BUNDLE OF JOY. Especially liked NO JOY in Mudville and ALMOND JOY -- sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't...

I had POD for 40D) container on a pole -- was thinking of beans or peas on a pole!

Learning moments from @Rex and others: IGNIS, SET-UP MEN and ONNA White (thanks for the info, @Greene -- always appreciate your sharing of theatre knowledge.)

Looking back over the puzzle, I'm taken by its elegant craftsmanship. Very nice work, Corey!

Shamik 12:31 PM  


While I liked finding JOY in this puzzle, I found it medium-challenging for a Thursday for me at 11:29. And it felt like a slog. And I had ADT for AST as in Atlantic Daylight Time. Thought for sure there had to be a MAC-D computer somewhere.


Masked and Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Casper the friendly Rebus. Cool. Good scattering of U's, lotsa J's (sorta), and POO up top. I'm in. Thumbs up on a pole.
Crank crossword constructor friend says to 44: better clue for POO="Alley Oop traveling backward in time". Nice oldie funny paper ode there.
Hi-Yo Asstapiano, away... on a tangent.

Clark 12:35 PM  

A beautiful simple rebus. I like that. JOY STICK was where I saw the light. The Valley of the Moon is the way to go to get from my parents' house to (one of) my sister's -- so that was a gimme.

fifth grader 12:38 PM  

@ M & A - Wouldn't that be poO yellA?

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Now I know my 3 letter Elizabethan playwright. Here's looking for you, KYD.

lit.doc 12:51 PM  

@NDE, I think SHTUP MEN would have been a terrific bit of fill!

leah712 1:27 PM  

The picture of the dark chocolate almond joy practically has me in tears--I am so sorry I missed its brief appearance. To whom can we appeal to bring it back? Oh yeah, I liked today's puzzle.

JenCT 1:45 PM  

Got the rebus at BUNDLE OF JOY.

Wrote in PIE first, as well.

Darn, now I have to go to the store - wicked ALMOND JOY cravings...

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

@Leah712 - Let's go one step further, and find out to whom to appeal to simply ban milk chocolate.

Masked and Anonymous 2:00 PM  

@fifth grader: True, son...but, believe me, crank crossword constructor friend [too wordy...let's call him Tonto...or Erul...] ain't as smart as you.


SavoringSolver 2:00 PM  

I'm a long-time follower of Rex's wonderful commentaries and the brilliant and funny community of solvers. I've never posted, but now I have a question for you speed solvers: where is the fun in this? I don't get it. I'd make the parallel to fine dining versus a hot dog eating contest. Or worse--perhaps fine dining versus a filet mignon speed-eating contest.

For me, today's puzzle was the epitome of savory solving; taking the time to enjoy and appreciate the work that resulted in beautiful symmetry, luscious use of the word "joy" in the rebus, the elegant placement of "Beethoven's Ninth" across the center of the puzzle, and the joy of "Ode to Joy" running down the side from "Poo".

So kindly explain how and if the kicks one gets from speed solving somehow equal the pleasures of slower appreciation of the complexities and intricacies of the puzzle.

Finally, thanks for the laughs and the education you provide, Rex!

Rex Parker 2:00 PM  


Best. Candy. Bar. Ever. I bought a case from the aisle at Target when I first saw them. That bar came and went way too fast. And I don't even eat candy bars. Just dark chocolate. Usually.

Rube 2:00 PM  

Was wondering about El PASOAN so Googled it and found out it refers to someone from El Paso, Boo, that's terrible. I would have thought it would be El Pasan like it's San Franciscan, but then I've never even been to El Paso. That makes Rex a Confluencean. Then again, there is Idahoan, I guess, so never mind.

Cutesy-POO was a gimme for this west coaster. Agree with @Lit.Doc about NAy/NAE. Got the theme at JOYSTICK but was awfully suspicious about Dibliners. Thought the clue for NOJOY was great. SONOMA was another gimme for a Northern Californian, (Dang, that's another "n" rightly attached to a place name. But it already has an "a" at the end so... Aw, forget it.)

Learned how to spell BIBB lettuce today. Am I the only one who thinks that 19A is inappropriate for the NYT? Otherwise, really enjoyed this puzz.


Rube 2:04 PM  

That should be Dubliners.

(This is to get the follow-ups.)

JenCT 2:43 PM  

@SavoringSolver - I'm with you, mostly - sometimes I "speed solve" just to see how fast I CAN solve, and other times I just take my time & savor the puzzle (especially on Sundays!).

edmcan 2:44 PM  

Poo! Took me entirely too long to get the rebus-the puzzle then fell in about 2 minutes.

andreabb michaels 2:50 PM  

Puzzle was easy as POO for me, despite some writeovers (same as separated at birth Joho's: LAne, etc)

Had coBB salad, what's with lettuce and double BB endings?

Loved this puzzle and the tie in straight across the middle...
there was total JOY in Mudville today, the might Corey has struck (it) out of the park!!!!!!!

And symmetry to boot!

sanfranman59 3:47 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 17:12, 19:06, 0.90, 40%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:09, 9:10, 1.00, 57%, Medium

lit.doc 4:08 PM  


I agree that the main point of a pastime is enjoyment. I doubt that very many among us except the Competitive Solvers track times for any reason other than as a metric for improved proficiency.

That I can now solve a puzzle in, say, half the time it would have taken me a year ago isn't because I'm striving for speed. I'm simply getting the hang of puzzling a little, which greatly increases my pleasure in solving.

Struggling for an hour and a half isn't something to savor.

Dough 4:22 PM  

I love the dudgeon @Rex expresses at words new to him. Don't crossworders look eagerly upon learning new words? Well, I think it's cutesy poo (of which, in quotes, there are 34,200 results in Google).

I also love rebus puzzles. Today's was just delightful and very well crafted. Kudos to Corey Rubin. I love how the denouement 15-letter entry across the middle does not involve the rebus! That's rare and a beautiful thing.

chefbea 4:24 PM  

fun rebus Thursday. Started it this morning, then had much to do so just finished it. For joy and bundle of joy gave me the theme.

Rex Parker 4:28 PM  

"Monkey balls" (in quot. marks) gets 112,000 Google hits. For the record.

mac 4:48 PM  

This was a very enjoyable medium for me. I got the rebus at joy riding, then worked my way up. I love the Joy Luck Club, and also the Kitchen God's Wife.

I too put in algae for low-life, and tried to get both eau AND eaux into the puzzle! What's that, a malapop squared?

For a moment I wondered who this Apianio was she loved..... Nice to have both he and she in the puzzle. Once heard and saw a 3-year old boy sing Ricky Martin's hit, it was a riot!

I've also been looking for the dark chocolate almond joy! Used to have them every time at intermission at the Westport Playhouse.

@Greene: great info as usual, and @Rex: great write-up.

We made the move back to CT - life is a little easier again. It's just that I have to get into the car to get groceries.....

retired_chemist 5:46 PM  

"Cutesy-poo" "Monkey balls" Googled together gets one hit - this blog. Proves nothing of course. Monkey Balls appears to be a video game. Who knew>\?

foodie 6:02 PM  

How did I miss the dark chocolate Almond JOY? We need to start a campaign!

@Mac, I had to really get used to the idea that, in Manhattan, grocery stores will deliver.

@Savoring Solver- I too enjoy savoring a good puzzle, but I love the speed solvers. I am most certainly not one of them, but not by choice. If I could do it, I would, and would enjoy it as a whole different dimension of mental activity. It's a specialized skill that is a testimony to the power and beauty of a fine brain in action.

I think a good analogy would be the contrasting the fun of ice skating by your random skater on a Sunday afternoon, versus watching a professional figure skater. A great deal of talent, training, precision and grace goes into the latter, and it pushes the limits of what we thought humans can do-- a beautiful thing to behold.

retired_chemist 6:13 PM  

@ Savoring Solver - I think lit.doc and foodie have it right, I am not a speed solver but I enjoy improving any skill that I have. That I can now do the occasional Saturday in under 15 minutes, where a year ago 25-30 minutes with a couple of errors was tops for me, is a good feeling.

william e emba 6:23 PM  

About 2/3 through the puzzle, I was thinking, "what, no JOY LUCK CLUB?" That was about when I read the clue for 53A, noticed that answer fit and that [JOY] completed -NER to give an athlete whose name I recognized. As it is, it's Al's ex-wife and sister who were probably the one's I actually remembered.

About the only crap clue is "DO A favor". Surely the abbreviation D.O.A. can be clued in a way that passes the breakfest test. Say, by the movie?

There is nothing wrong with NAE being the opposite of "aye". After all, aye is also Scot.

andrea-poo michaels 8:47 PM  

I don't know if this counts as a bleedover, but ESKIMO was in Pancho Harrison's LA Times puzzle yesterday, so he must have kayaked over here to this one...
but I hear that ESKIMO is now being considered non-PC.
Maybe they'll change the name of the icecream treat to ESKIMO POO

Van55 9:39 PM  

Andrea poo! Funniest post on this blog ever!

acme 9:48 PM  

um, thanks @Van55 but I suspect there will be a few who might (rightfully) dispute that! but glad you got a chuckle.

sanfranman59 10:03 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 7:09, 6:55, 1.03, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:22, 8:49, 0.95, 44%, Medium
Wed 12:55, 11:50, 1.10, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 17:10, 19:06, 0.90, 40%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:40, 3:41, 0.99, 50%, Medium
Tue 4:33, 4:31, 1.01, 60%, Medium
Wed 6:37, 5:48, 1.14, 84%, Challenging
Thu 8:22, 9:09, 0.91, 43%, Medium

fergus 10:36 PM  

I even wrote in TOUGH above the grid after I'd finished it, so I see I'm in a distinct minority in assessing the difficulty. Either I just missed the obvious Clues, been doing manual labor and/or reading Joyce. You might think that the wordplay therein would correlate well with xwords, but maybe not?

Anonymous 11:41 PM  

Tim Finnegan lived in Walkin Street, a gentle Irishman mighty odd
He had a brogue both rich and sweet, an' to rise in the world he carried a HOD!

Unknown 3:28 PM  

Wow! Any day that I can say I had less trouble with a puzzle than Rex Parker, is a good day for me. It will probably be ages before it happens again, if ever.

That being said, there are a lot of posts here. I haven't started to read them yet, but I will. Let me offer my two cents, by pasting the post I put up on Wordplay. Then I can take my time reading this blog, and perhaps responding to certain input.

Excellent Friday puzzle. Even though I finished around 15 minutes faster than usual. IMHO, the difficulty factor was about right. Rex Parker has it rated as "Challenging", and Rex usually tends to rate puzzles easier that they are.

This submission by Karen Tracy/Will Shortz proves that a puzzle can be difficult and challenging, without entering into the realm of the arcane. Ultimately, we do them for enjoyment, right? Save the "Tim Croce Debacle" type puzzles for Saturday. Give us the option to weigh the "Aggravation Verses Reward " factor, before we decide to exercise our innate "fight or flee" response.

I started by looking for a toehold, and found the first one in the NE. I was pretty sure 9A was BAOBAB, even though I've never seen The Lion King. ( I have no children, and I am not a big fan of animated movies or TV shows. Everything I know about them, comes from crosswords.) That being said, 9A bolstered 10 & 11D. I took a stab at ALOEVERA for 13D and obviously 14D had to be BEEFSTEW. Those entries didn't clean up the whole NE, but they got me started.

On Fridays, I don't solve for speed, because I'm not at that level yet. I generally bounce around, looking for a place to start. Had this been an early week puzzle, I would have gone through all of the across or theme clues first, and 34A would have gobsmacked me immediately. " I'll Do The Thinnin Around Here Baba Looey! " Once I had 34A, it was off to the races. That's not to say it was a cakewalk.

34D got me started on the SW, and that corner fell relatively well. 56 & 61A broke open the SE. I thought this was the easiest quadrant of the puzzle, even with the general obscurity of 48D and 42A. Struggled with 37D for a bit. Fell in love with WINSOVER for too long, but a win is not necessarily a rout. When I sussed that out, I got 47D, probably the most famous Chicago columnist ever? The Y in ROYKO gave me the Y in 8D, and I nailed it with four of the bottom five letters.

The NW was the toughest quadrant for me. The only Gimme was 27A, but I was pretty sure about 4 & 5D. I took a wild stab at ZAFTIG for 1D, and thanks to paulymath @ 5 for confirming that the word is indeed Yiddish. I had always thought it was. The light went on at 15A, and I was done. Last fill was 3D and favorite fill was 8D.

Nits: Hated 60A. Has anyone ever said, " I need some guidance here, let me consult some ADEPTS? " This puzzle was great, so I'll give Tracy that one stretch.

Didn't Know: 33A - 39A - 40A, ( Only as Madame ) -42A - 54A - 3D - 6D,
( Wanted Riata ) - 32D - 48D

Favorites beside 8D: 1D - 12D - 21D

Best Misdirection: Tie - 7D and 30 D - Honorable mention: 35D

Unknown 11:54 AM  

@chaos1 - Guess you shoulda read the comments first! Looks like you entered a Friday note on a Thursday puzzle... ;-p

(Good thing _I_ never makes misteaks... mistooks... errors!)

RexMD 1:42 PM  

I'm ashamed to admit that this puzzle was very difficult for me. Got the theme almost immediately but the small fill was torture.

Still trying to figure out what "GRE" means. Does srs. refer to high schoolers or old people?

Totally spaced on "I Love A Piano". Could not mentally seperate A and P. Kept wondering who Apiano was? Why hadn't I heard that name before? What did she do to capture the heart of Irving Berlin? The next question of course was, why am I such a dolt?

Really disliked "creme". Technically it's correct, I looked it up, but come on! When you're referencing something as American as the Hostess Ding Dong, it's cream. Maybe it should have been clued as "Le Ding Dong filler".

Overall I did like this puzzle. It put my brain into overdrive and as you can see from my comments, it needed the exercise.

Unknown 8:38 PM  

So I didn't get "Ignis", but what is 60D----------"Gre"???

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