Tahitian-style wraparound skirt / WED 1-12-11 / Provisional Mormon state / Milton Berle's longtime sponsor / Lake Michigan explorer Jean

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Constructor: Jim Hilger

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: HALF — a rebus puzzle with six "HALF" squares placed symmetrically around the grid (four in the corners, two near the center)

Word of the Day: PAREO (48A: Tahitian-style wraparound skirt) —

The pāreu or pareo (see below) is the Cook Islands and Tahitian word for a wraparound skirt. Originally it was used only to refer to women's skirts, as men wore a loincloth, called a maro. Nowadays the term is applied to any piece of cloth worn wrapped around the body, worn by males or females. It is related to the Malay sarong, Sāmoan lavalava, Tongan tupenu and other such garments of the Pacific Islands such as the islands of Hawaiʻi, Marquesas, Aotearoa, and Fiji. (wikipedia)
• • •

[It's pledge week here at the Rex Parker site (thru Sat.) —read my pitch for donations in the opening paragraphs of Sunday's write-up, here ... and thanks for your faithful readership (and the many kind messages I've received so far)]

An enjoyable and (mostly) easy rebus puzzle. A bit tough getting off the ground, but once I backed that first HALF into the corner in the NW, it squawked pretty quickly. Once the next HALF showed up, I knew what I was looking for and it was off to the races (esp. in the bottom half where I just put the "HALF"s in the corners and got the crosses instantly). Not a terribly ambitious rebus, but fine for a Wednesday (when most people aren't expecting to see one). The strangest thing about this puzzle is the grid—there's a boatload of black squares (42 by my count), including two giant blocks of nine squares each on either side of 1/2 AND 1/2. The chosen theme answers, and their placement, pretty much necessitate this blackness (1/2 AND 1/2 has to be centered, but because of the placement of the theme answers around the edges, nothing can go on either side of 1/2 AND 1/2). Whatever the reason, the result has some unfortunate consequences, namely a highly segmented grid with a *huge* amount of short (and hence uninteresting) fill. 28 three-letter words (I think). Is that high? That seems high? Add in the four-letter words (12, I think), and over half the answers are tiny. There's also some YAKky fill in the longer stuff, like NICOLET (?) (11D: Lake Michigan explorer Jean ___) and DESERET (?) (45D: Provisional Mormon state) and PAREO (!?). TO ANY is a bad partial, but you gotta give a puzzle like this some leeway, especially in the middle where the "HALF" answers aren't safely hugging the wall, but right in the middle of everything. In the end, I liked it. Uneven, quality-wise, but ultimately enjoyable.

HALF-BAKED is my favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. ONE HALF is, by far, the weakest theme answer. Would have loved to have seen HALF TIME, HALF WIT, HALFLING (D&D nerds know what I'm talking about), TWO AND A HALF MEN, or comics legend HAL FOSTER (creator of "Prince Valiant").

The HALFs:
  • BETTER HALF (37D: Wife, colloquially) / HALF DAY
  • FIRST HALF / OTHER HALF (49D: Jacob Riis subjects, with "the")
I somehow don't think of BEAT OUT as conveying the "barely" part of 2D: Barely defeat. I had EDGE OUT (first thing in the grid). That NW corner was the hardest, not just because it came first (before I had the theme), but because of BEAT OUT and then TEXACO (Berle was waaaaay before my time—no idea about his corporate sponsors, 14A: Milton Berle's longtime sponsor), and then DONEN (musical theater names and I do not get along) (6D: "Singin' in the Rain" director Stanley). Knowing UKR. straight off helped. A lot. Potentially tricky words like TOLUENE and HULKS and TYRE (34A: Port on the eastern Mediterranean) all fell 1-2-3. Rest of the grid was a snap except the end, in the SE, where PAREO was a huge mystery, and P-ENUPS made no sense to me at all. I was parsing it wrong, breaking it between the "N" and "U." Something-UPS? After rechecking all the crosses, I had a "D'oh!" moment when PRE-NUPS came leaping forth (44D: Marriage contracts, briefly). Done and done.

  • 23A: "Misty" composer Garner (ERROLL) — more old musical stuff I don't know!? At least tap into some of my other ignorances. Spread the misery around!
  • 66A: "Time After Time" singer Cyndi (LAUPER) — love her! "She's So Unusual" is great, and apt. Apt!

[Cyndi covers Prince!]
  • 53D: Moe parodied him in some W.W. II-era Three Stooges shorts (ADOLF) — ... and yet you will never see HITLER in an NYT puzzle. I guess he's less evil when you call him by his first name.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. THE Song of 2010 ... translated. Awesomely. Adorably. (Sorry— the profanity is in the title itself, so I can't really hide it ... :)


Tobias Duncan 12:10 AM  

My favorite Errol is Morris but he was one L shy of making it into the puzzle today.
I thought Thursday was rebus day?
I have to say for all my bellyaching over the past year about the rebi (yes I know grammar nazis) this one was fun for me.

foodie 12:37 AM  

I agree it's an enjoyable puzzle and the rebus was not too overdone.

But that NICOLET/ERROLL intersection was infelicitous. And I don't love the clue for AXIALLY, either.

I've been waffling on whether I like or dislike the BEAT OUT clue. My initial reaction was the same as Rex, but there is this sense of unexpectedness and close competition in BEAT OUT.. No?

Sometimes, at WINN Dixie, you can find Pear Preserves, something delicious I have never been able to find in the Northern States.

sanfranman59 12:38 AM  

Argggghhhhh! How the heck do you get the online interface to accept the 1/2s in the rebus squares? I was close to a record Wednesday solve time and I can't figure out how to get the #(%*! thing accept my solution.

chefwen 12:49 AM  

Thought of half baked right away at 1A but figured, that's not even close to fitting, wrote in half at 10A and when none of the downs worked, esp. since I know WINN Dixie, the little light bulb switched on, and I was off and running.

My WOTD was also PAREO which is kind of embarrassing as I live the the freakin' Pacific Islands. I shall commit that one to memory. DESERET was my second unknown.

All in all, it was a fun puzzle. Thank you Mr. Hilger.

Max 12:54 AM  

Hi! I'm new to crosswords and using the iOS app. How do I write 1/2 on the app, do you know? Thanks

Rube 12:54 AM  

Was lazing thru the puzz until the SE corner when FIRST1/2 popped out. Tried 1/2 in the (suspect) NE corner and kapow. The other 2 corners worked and the puzzle fell quickly.

The only trouble was deciding the cross of NICOLET and LOS... a D or an L? Figured L was the better option and was finished.

Only writeovers were KAN/KAS and TVA/COE. Let me tell you, the Corps of Engineers has built a lot more dams then the TVA, but this is crosswordland, so you should go with TVA.

Oops, just realized that RP has BOFF crossing DEF, where I had BOFo/DEo. A little googling for Bofo and I decided I wanted to leave this alone.

Good rebus puzzle. A good time was had by all, (I hope). (I'm going to have to play UNO one of these days.)

syndy 12:54 AM  

wanted half baked right off so I was pleased to realize I was right!(safrandude-ins took H A L F happily)only write over hulls for hulks and trying to spell toluene.can't wait for the rest of the week!

CoffeeLvr 1:51 AM  

Fun puzzle, I learned how to do a rebus in AcrossLite. I have been doing the puzzle online the last few days, and will probably continue, except for the really tough Fridays, all Saturdays, and all Sundays. (They take so long, I carry a paper copy around the house.)

The blacksmith forms the horse SHOEs, but the farrier puts them on. And if you keep (and ride) your horses exclusively on pasture, you don't have to SHOE them, just have the farrier come trim their hooves. And I see a nice crossing at 41A/D, as the horse SHIES sometimes. Although a thorough check of word derivation might show that at one time blacksmith and farrier were synonymous. I suspect "smith" is from the Anglo Saxon root, and "farrier" is from the French "ferrier." I also was once told that the Italian surname Talioferra meant black smith.

and car mich 1:59 AM  

Loved it!
Got it with the first letter but didn't notice the symmetry till Rex.
So now I love it even more.
(Altho I love the suggestion of Two and a 1/2 Men would have been way cool! (Half-way cool?)

SAWEDIN1/2 was by far my fave answer...

My original name for my naming company was "Too Clever by Half".
Unfortunately it was!

I'm with @rube...What the heck happened to the final O on BOFFo???

Had weird psychological brain-freeze on 42D. Couldn't remember NPR even tho I used to be on the show!!!!
I think I'm STILL licking my wounds ten years later that I was replaced by Paula Poundstone!
It's only a matter of time that she replaces me as one of the more frequent posters on this blog!
AS IF! ;)

Steve J 2:25 AM  

@Max: I put in the word HALF instead of the 1/2 numeric symbol. In the iOS NYT Xword app, just click the "more" button in the lower left of the keyboard, then click the "rebus" button. Put in the word from there.

I found this one HALFBAKED. HALF isn't much to hang a theme on. But about half of the HALF intersections were good (especially HALFBAKED/HALFTRUTH), leaving the other half being, well, not so good.

Keeping the puzzle's symmetry going, I had a hard time getting going in both the NE and SW, even with the rebuses sorted fairly early. NICOLET just didn't come to me, even though as a Minneapolis kid it should have jumped out at me (it's the name of one of downtown's major streets, albeit with two Ls), nor ERROL. Down south, I can never remember the name of the "Born Free" lion, and I never would have guessed ARALSEA in a million years.

@Andrea, I didn't realize you were on WWDTM years back. Pity you got replaced by Paula Poundstone. She's one of the most profoundly unfunny people I've ever experienced.

r.alphbunker 6:21 AM  

To enter a rebus in Stand Alone's app hold your finger on the space until the loupe appears and then tap the border. This requires a steady hand and a willingness to not be a speed solver.

I got the rebus immediately from 1A so this was an easy for me.

Joe 6:57 AM  

In case anyone is in the dark, to do rebuses in AcrossLite, you hit ESC and a field comes up where you can enter a stream of letters.

Was anyone else done in by the cross at 6D/25A (DONEN/TOLUENE)? I was way stumped. I suppose toluene is some bit of xword arcana that I should have committed to memory by now, but... no. And Donen? I know my theatre stuff, but... no.

opus2 7:03 AM  

For online solvers and mobile solvers, the easiest way to solve a rebus and still maintain pace is to enter just the first letter of the special character (eg HBAKED or BETTERH). Not as pretty, but my Blackberry version accepted the answers without problem.

I didn't know PAREO or DESELET, so that crossing E was my last square and a pure guess.

Golfballman 7:25 AM  

Speaking of Mormons they used to have the only U.S. recognized crowned kingdom on Beaver Island Mi.

Howard B 8:00 AM  

In the NY Times app (Not AcrossLite), to enter four letters, you can press '+' three times, then the next four letters you type will appear in the square.
An easier solution is to simply type the first letter of the rebus word; this is also acceptable. This has a disadvantage of being less recognizable as a rebus, though.

Am I the only one who finds it amusing to see the lengths that the Times goes to in order to clue ADOLF in a "non-offensive" way? In this puzzle, it seemed to do a double-backflip with a twist in order to avoid that evil German dictator reference. Come to think of it, so did I.

ArtLvr 8:01 AM  

I enjoyed this, very comfortable for a Wednesday. However, I never realized until I checked Rex's solution that my keyboard doesn't offer a 1/2 as my old electric typewriter did! How long has it been?

ELSA of "Born Free" was especially timely since I'd just seen a TV special on the true story, including the making of the movie. Still touching but very sobering, all in all. Population pressures in Africa have put present-day survival of lions in the wild into jeopardy more than ever. DARKEST ending...

Meanwhile, the promised blizzard is closing down the Northeast again. Good luck to all of us here! I am trying to be STOIC, which to me is misclued as merely Unmoved.


joho 8:23 AM  

I did this in 1/2 the time it took to do either Monday or Tuesday. I love a rebus so this was fun and very easy by getting 1/2BAKED right off the bat.

I did learn some new words, though: TOLUENE, PAREO and DESERET-- which is always welcome.

Thanks, Jim Hilger!

Victor in Rochester 8:51 AM  

From my Uncle Miltie days I can still sing "Oh, We're the men of Texaco; We work from Maine to Mexico..."

For the whole thing see:


Elisa 9:01 AM  

This is why it is important to buy formaldehyde and toluene free nail polish.

Crystal Gayle's hair always astounds me.

mac 9:01 AM  

The newspaper man didn't get through the 2 foot snow, so I had to do the puzzle online. Almost immediately discovered the rebus, so had to print the thing out after all.... I'm going to play at figuring out how to put a word in a box.

Toluene/Donen was my Natick, but I had a lucky guess. I also thought of the Corps of Engineers but didn't know their exact acronym; had to let the crosses solve that.

@ArtLvr: saw the same program last Sunday.

fikink 9:03 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Big E 9:11 AM  

@fiklink - I got it at the same point - half nelson! But like joho, I had never heard of deseret or pareo (did guess right on the e) and toulene was also totally new to me.
Sad to say I feel as though now I remember the name Donen, but was trying an L or R and ultimately had to look up the last square! :-(
Nice way to start a Wednesday morning, the only person in my office, and waiting for people to trudge in late with their whiny snow excuses! :-)
Got to say I really like "sawed in half" and "half hearted!"
Have a great wednesday, all!

quilter1 9:12 AM  

Such a fast fun solve I felt like I didn't get my puzzle fix for the day. But I knew DESERET from a brand of medical supplies (can't remember what) and PAREO from somewhere. I've always wanted to live someplace where I could get out of bed, wrap the bedspread around me and be dressed for the day. And that place is not Iowa in January. Brr. Liked the rebus but agree that these answers could have been a little less pedestrian.
What does it mean when my penny pinching BETTER1/2 of 43 years voluntarily bumps the thermostat up two degrees?

fikink 9:15 AM  

Agree with you, Rex, on BEAT OUT. I had NOSE OUT at first, a cousin of EDGE OUT.

@Foodie, "infelicitous" - Nice.

My first awareness of the rebus came with HALF NELSON, for it is the only wrestling hold I know.

@ArtLvr, agree that STOIC means more than "unmoved" describes. One can be unmoved at the sight of something wonderful, like an adorable puppy; whereas STOIC implies something negative, like pain or hardship, that is borne impassively.

Never have gotten used to the idea that RAVELED is a word on its own. I read the word RAVEL and all that comes to mind is Maurice.

Come to think of it, HALF NELSON was my favorite part of the puzzle.

@Big E - I had a "which" where "that" should be, so had to repost.

retired_chemist 9:30 AM  

I'm betting I am not alone in making 10A the word HALF to start with. And, à la Victor, TEXACO was an instant giveaway. He must be a geezer too....

TOLUENE was another gimme here, as were alot of answers. Including the incorrect WYNN (à la ED or EARLY). Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn, and Garcia made up one of the best starting four rotations in baseball history. There used to be WINN-DIXIES all over Texas but I haven't seen many lately in the Dallas area.

How I knew NEH was the book before ESTH I will never know.

Thanks, Mr.Hilger.

Look Up Guy 9:33 AM  

@fikink & @ArtLvr

Definitions of STOIC on the Web:

•seeming unaffected by pleasure or pain; impassive; "stoic courage"; "stoic patience"; "a stoical sufferer"

•someone who is seemingly indifferent to emotions


efrex 9:40 AM  

Enjoyed the theme and the rebus, but got stuck on the short fill. PAREO/DESERET cross was a killer, and needed Google to help with ARAL SEA. Never heard of TVA, and had REGLAZES instead of RESTAINS.

TOLUENE was a gimme for this chemistry geek, but WINN and ERROLL made the NE a bit ornery. Know from OAS thanks to Tom Lehrer ("Send the Marines"), and the rest was pretty straightforward.

mmorgan 9:41 AM  

All the 1/2 answers were pretty easy but there were some other tricky parts (for me). Lots of stuff I didn't know -- ANA (15A), TOLUENE (25A), PAREO (48A), NICOLET (11D) -- but I was able to get them from crosses (or lucky guesses in a few cases). Once I got the theme (and that was pretty quickly), the rest seemed less interesting, and some answers seemed just slightly off (BEATOUT at 2D or RAVELED at 39D).

fikink 9:42 AM  

@LookupGuy, maybe we are talking here about the difference between denote and connote.

Vega 9:47 AM  

Hmm. Like yesterday, I felt disappointed at the straightforwardness of all the cluing here. I want my clever back.

Cyndi Lauper: what's *not* to love?

chefbea 10:11 AM  

Got the rebus right away. Didn't know deseret or tolune or Donnen. But a fun puzzle.

Enjoy your two feet of snow - you guys in the north east. Stay home and make soup

Sparky 10:15 AM  

I like easy for I am a bear with little brain. No computer skills either, as my whole comment just disappeared. Anyway, found rebus with 1D and also 13D. Lots of things in my age range. Love Cyndi. Have a friend who uses the word PAREO; she's from Hawaii. Have another who uses ARISTO; she's from Tuskaloosa. Gofigure.

Odile 10:16 AM  

RAVEL is, like "uncanny," one of those words that have simultaneous and opposite meanings. In this case, to entangle or unentangle. Cool!

Otherwise, this felt mostly clunky to me. NYPD and DARKEST were boringly similar to their clues, while HULKS, BEAT OUT, OH SURE, and SHIES felt slightly off. Enjoyed the cluing for ELF and TELLER.

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

I DNF, the upper middle a complete blank, even tho I got the rebus fairly early. So, ordinarily I might not post. However, yesterday I was fairly hard on Rex for a critique I thought was unduly harsh. Today Rex gives us one of the most thoughtful blogs I have seen for awhile and merely wanted to thank him for that. As an aside, unlike Rex, I remember Uncle Miltie, who was as corny a clown/comic as ever seen on TV. He was also famous for stealing jokes from other comics. TEXACO was his sponsor and, if memory serves correctly, NBC was his network. I recall his announcing that he had just signed a 50 year contract with NBC on one of his programs. Of course, his show did not last that long, but his contract did....

Captcha - genes - what's thqat all about?

DBGeezer 10:28 AM  

In Brooklyn, a STOIC is the boid what brings da babies.

Two Ponies 10:29 AM  

I usually love a rebus but this one was just so-so. The rebus answers were too easy and the fill was not really worth the price of admission. The Mormons have a Goodwill type store here in Vegas called Deseret Industries so I have at least seen the word.
Tyre would have been better but maybe too easy if clued in a British way.
On the other hand my avatar loves it when Toto is in the grid!

Cathyat40 10:37 AM  

@efrex: TVA = Tennessee Valley Authority

When I was a kid, I went through countless Dell crossword publications. TVA appeared in about every other puzzle. I haven't seen it in a long time; nice to see it today - like an old friend :)

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

This was a cute theme. Got the concept of the 1/2 placed in the corners of the grid but missed completely the 1/2 AND 1/2 combination in the center.
The NE corner stumped me. Having ECCE ,ERROL and LOS crossing NICOLET did not help.
There were too many "ugly" words in the NW corner like KAN, ECO, UTA, UKR and ESE.
I would have to rate this one as difficult as I eventually complete Wednesday puzzle without help. In this puzzle the "aha" moments were marred by my inability to finish the puzzle. The SAWED IN 1/2 and 1/2 HEARTED clues were very clever.

JaxInL.A. 10:59 AM  

I got the rebus at the first square, which made me smile. Fine puzzle, a bit on the easy side. Good luck to everyone under snow.

Stanley Donen, working with legendary producer Arthur Freed at MGM, was one of the great film musical directors. Some credit him with revitalizing the genre as it had begun to wane in the early 1950's.

Beginning with On the Town (1949), he directed a decade-long string of iconic MGM musicals still popular today. The best-known is probably the one in today's clue, Singin' in the Rain (1952), (actually co-directed with Gene Kelly).

He directed such classics as Royal Wedding (1951), where Fred Astaire danced on a ceiling; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) with athletic dances that weren't dances; Funny Face (1957) with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn; Pajama Game (1957) with Doris Day; and Indiscreet (1958) with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.

The crew of this blog should know another of Donen's big successes, Damn Yankees, (1958), because it is often used to clue Gwen Verdon's character of LOLA the temptress.

As far as I can tell, Donen is still around. He directed one of the Oscar shows in the 80's, a Lionel Richie music video, and even a couple of movies in the 1990's. I hope he like xwords and sees himself here.

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

68A: Cool, in slang

Should be:

68A: Cool, in early 1990s slang that no one uses any more

This answer also could have been "off the hizzy", if we're talking about this time period.

John V 11:26 AM  

Good thing for AcrossLite, as we're totally snowed in in lower Farifield County, CT. Absolutely tore throught this one. For me to finish a Wednesday in 11 minutes just says that life's good. Agree with Rex re WOTD, all of which just came easy with the crosses.

Matthew G. 11:36 AM  

I liked this one quite a bit.

Strongly disagree with Rex's assertion that {50%} ONE1/2 is a weak theme entry. Quite to the contrary, I think it's a very nice piece of misdirection because HALF fits in the spaces available, and if you reach that corner before noticing the rebus (as I did), it's surely what you'll enter (as I did). Then I saw that its letters couldn't possibly work with WINN, upon which it was sitting, and that's where I picked up the rebus.

Usually I don't like rebuses in which every rebus square is the same word, but this one worked for me, perhaps in large part because the a-ha moment in which I picked up the rebus from the clue that Rex so disliked.

It took me slightly longer than the average Wednesday. I would have finished much faster than I did if not for two things: (1) I wasn't expecting a rebus on a Wednesday, and resisted it until I hit that NE corner; and (2) as much as I love my Crosswords for iPhone app from Stand Alone Inc., it has the @#$%!ing stupidest interface for inputting rebuses that I've seen on any software. In fact, it's one of the strangest and dumbest interfaces for entering anything I've ever seen on any software, period.

Here's a brief digression on rebus entry, in case crossword software developers read the comments on Rex's blog. The best method I've seen, by far, is on the NYTimes's proprietary iPhone app. You tap a button that says "REBUS," and the app zooms up beautifully on the selected square so you can see exactly what you're typing. Next best is Across Lite, with the little ESC window, which works well enough.

Then there's the Stand Alone app. I love this app in every other respect -- it allows me to download my paid NYT and BEQ subscriptions onto one device, along with most of the free puzzles I do, including WSJ, Chron. of Higher Ed., and The Onion. And other than the rebus entry function, the interface is great.

But whoever came up with the rebus-entry function for Stand Alone was smoking something cut with PCP. To put multiple letters into a square, you first have to hold your finger down over the square in question. Shortly, a magnifying glass (or "loupe," as the app calls it) will appear. You must then, without allowing your finger to roll even a little bit (which would move the loupe to a different space) touch the loupe with a finger from your other hand, which brings up a box to enter letters in. It's like a little open-heart surgery in my crossword solving. At least 70% of the time, my first attempt to open the box on the right square fails. Today, with the rebus squares in the corners of the grid (and therefore the corners of my screen) it was almost impossible to get the loupe to stand still.

Please, Stand Alone -- replace this bizarre feature of your otherwise superb app.

TimJim 11:40 AM  

Hand up for Donen/Toluene. When I called up the puzzle, the daily AL hint was how to write more than one letter in a box - thought Why would I want to do that? - found out quickly ... Loved the sign-language video!

archaeoprof 11:45 AM  

Didn't know TOLUENE or DONEN, but somehow the E just looked right.

The clue for STOIC seemed right to me. In ancient Greece, Stoics tried to develop an attitude of "ataraxia" or "untroubledness."

@ChefBea: soup's on at our house. Chicken cheese chowder.

SethG 11:51 AM  

I knew that one of the newspapers in Salt Lake City is the Deseret News. I'm typing this from a coffee shop on Nicollet, and figured the one-L Nicolet could exist. My biggest problem was figuring out sawed, expecting sawn. I think of boff more as a verb.

Van55 11:51 AM  

The rebus manifested itself early on. The puzzle fell very easily for me despite a few unknowns as clued: TYRE, PAREO, DEF (BOFF is just incomplete), DONEN, NICOLET, ARALSEA. I mostly agree with Rex today, though PRENUP was a cinch.

Eric C 11:58 AM  

Learned TNT was tri-nitro-toluene in British equivalent of our high school in physics many many years ago. It absolutely stuck in the part of my brain reserved for useless information (until I started crossword solving again). Easy, very easy for a Wednesday. New Across Lite uses "Ins" key for rebus words.

quilter1 12:00 PM  

@ChefBea: Soup's on here, too. Chicken noodle, stock's simmerin'.

mac 12:07 PM  

@ChefBea: lentil.
I figured out the rebus insert with Across Lite: Edit - insert - multiple letters.

Unknown 12:09 PM  

Way too much snow outside ! Looks like I'll be forced to stay inside and solve puzzles all day. Tsk, Tsk.

As to this puzzle, No Problem. Picked up the theme right away, and it was off to the races. Only hang-up was NICOLET crossing ERROLL and LOS, but I guessed right. DESERET I remembered, but PAREO was new. TRI-NITRO-TOLUENE is clued many ways in many puzzles, and yes, I know it's not normally hyphenated.

@ Andrea WOTD Michaels: I agree with Steve J. You are waaay funnier than Paula Poundstone.

@ Rex: You made my day with that YouTube clip ! I had heard the song before, but seeing that girl perform in ASL was hysterical. I'll bet she's a great dancer. I'm still laughing !

balto 12:16 PM  

I always love getting a rebus -- you know, the words don't fit, the lightbulb goes off -- ahh!

The FU video was fantastic!

Lindsay 12:32 PM  

I'm stunned at how many people were stumped by Deseret. It's fairly basic US history. But then, I'm stumped by anything from the world of pop culture. Knew pareo from flipping through Lands' End catalogues, but toluene was a mystery, albeit gettable from crosses.

Snowing and then some here.

Shamik 1:03 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle and the write-up with full agreement. Loved the sign language video. Made me smile. I don't generally like a lot of swearing, but this tune is so #%^$%*%* catchy and this girl does a great job.

william e emba 1:31 PM  

First entry was KAN, then TEXACO. These gave me ½BAKED and ½TRUTH, and I was off and racing. I had to guess the L of NICOLET. I disagree that it was merely a choice of L or D: the band could have been Jo's or T.O.'s Lonely Boys for all I knew.

DESERET was a gimme, but not because it sticks in my mind from knowing about the Mormons or US history or the occasional online reading from the Deseret News. No, it's because Orson Scott Card named his post-apocalypse Utah country Deseret in his The Folk of the Fringe, which I read so many years ago.

Matthew G. 2:07 PM  

@SteveJ Different strokes for different folks, I guess! One of the main things my wife and I hope for when they announce the panel on WWDTM is that Paula Poundstone is there. Her stand-up comedy is not very good, I agree, but in the give-and-take context of WWDTM her self-deprecating style is sidesplitting, IMHO!

Matthew G. 2:12 PM  

Oh, and that's not meant as a corresponding knock on Andrea by any means. I've only been listening to WWDTM for about two or three years, so I never listened in her era.

The thing with Paula Poundstone is that she needs other funny people around her to be funny. But once she has that, she does add quite a bit in her own right to the mix.

treedweller 2:26 PM  

I also entered the DESERET/PASEO cross last, as a guess. I couldn't think of any other letter that would work, but was still a little surprised it was right.

I caught the rebus almost immediately, which is rare for me even though I love the tricky ones (not that this was very tricky). I expected to storm through the whole thing, but ended up much lower in the rankings than usual. Mostly the non-theme NW slowed me down, along with the aforementioned cross and BOFF. I also spent several seconds trying to decide between ewe and ram for YAK.

Also, I like Paula Poundstone (standup and on the radio), though I'm sure I would enjoy hearing Acme on WWDTM. We should all remember "not funny to me" /= "not funny". As someone who frequently finds things funny that nobody else seems to (and vice versa), I get a little touchy about this.

ataraxia carla michaels 2:30 PM  

Just for the record, I think Paula is one of the funniest people alive, male or female. Have seen her hold audiences in thrall for hours with NO material, just casually asking questions! There is no one (in my book) funnier extemporaneously on stage... (as for WWDTM I'm too jealous and sad to listen, as it was a dream gig for me for only a few sessions before they had a falling out with the engineers at KQED and I was an accidental casualty of their switching from SF to LA...
If she is not funny on that show, my guess would be that it is too confining a format for her, bec she is amazing. We just have a funny history of her preceding or replacing me in Boston, SF, LA and on the radio (but not in rehab...yet!)

In the 50% space I put in, not HALF, but 1/2 OFF, even tho I knew the rebus already, so that was a tricky space for all sorts of different reasons, in an interesting way, I think.

Who are you, Greene??! Loved the Donen history, knew his name and had meant to imdb to see all the things he directed.
Was sort of an oldie-type puzzle, as I'm sure some folks ARE reeling that folks haven't head of the TVA, Uncle Miltie's TEXACO and Stanley Donen or even the "Misty" composer.
(I see "Misty" and can only think of that crazed woman Jessica whatshername who was stalking Clint Eastwood in "Play Misty for Me" before that Michael Douglas/GlennClose rip-off.)

I'll bet there has been a puzzle about those double words: RAVEL, UNCANNY (?! really?), CLEAVE...
if not, I should get a'workin'.

ATARAXIA!!!! I would love to achieve that state!!!
Love this crowd!!! :)

@Van 55
My armchair analysis as to why PRENUP was hard for Rex to see is I'll bet he doesn't have one, didn't even consider one! I have never heard/read/seen someone so romantically solicitous of his wife, which is enviable!
(And if he wasn't before, he'd better be now that she has a blackbelt!)

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

easy and fun rebus

easy week so far

CoffeeLvr 3:03 PM  

@Andrea, I would love, love, love to see a puzzle with lots of double words! At one time, I had a list, which included cleave, but I can't find anything anymore - one that springs to mind: dust (table, vs. bundt cake).

Agree with your assessment of Poundstone, she can crack me up with her tone of voice alone. And the show needs a female contributor.

chefbea 3:06 PM  

Everyone's soup sounds yummy. Send me some

sanfranman59 3:36 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)

Wed 10:41, 11:44, 0.91, 30%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 5:55, 5:47, 1.02, 60%, Medium

A lifelong buddy of mine emailed me the exact same FU video yesterday. I guess it's going viral, huh?

J 4:00 PM  

I HATE rebus puzzles.
But this one I liked, only because I was able to figure it out. (Yay, me.)

Sfingi 6:00 PM  

I can't believe I caught on to the rebus almost immediately. I started at the bottom and knew damned well it was OTHER 1/2, as in How the Other Half Lives. Then I saw BETTER 1/2. Well.
I filled in the !/2 s at the other corners and wondered it there were a couple in the middle.
Like @Seth - I use SAWN as the past tense of SAW, and wondered if it was SAWN in 1/2 S.

When I got to the Mormons, they have been kicked out of at leas 2 states - NY and IA - but, again, like @Seth, I remembered the DESERET news.

There were several words I wanted to check by Googling, but didn't, since I'm getting more sure of myself: TOLUENE, LOS, NEH, HAI NICOLET. But I had a Booboo - BOFo
rather than BOFF. Wondered if DEo was somewhat anti-clerical. But, DEF? What does it mean? Whatever.

@Andrea - I think Paula is very funny; but, why isn't there room for the both of you? I must have heard you without saying boy, they've got to get rid of her. I listen to NPR more than TV. Sounds mean to me, what they did.

Spent an hour shoveling. We finally got ours. More than Syracuse, which is too far West for Nor'Easters. Was a snow day for the kiddies.

Julie 6:57 PM  

Refreshing & fun to have a rebus on a Wednesday. Maybe another tomorrow?

Jaunty 7:42 PM  

Matthew G.: Stand Alone does have a forum on their website where you can voice your concern -- you're probably more likely to have your voice heard there than here. They are very responsive. A few months ago, I posted there about a problem with rebus input in the iPad version of their app. They acknowledged it and fixed it quite soon after.

PlantieBea 8:20 PM  

Just returned on a trial run through the Bahamas on the newest enormous but gorgeous ship of the company that made LADY and the Tramp famous. It was on the chilly side, so not many PAREOs on or bikini BRAs on display. I liked this puzzle--the symmetry of the rebus entries, the obscure stuff like NICOLET and TOLUENE in my grasp, and the fun answers of 1/2 BAKED and BETTER 1/2. I finished in the BOFF/DEF crossing where I guessed at the last F.

tangell 9:00 PM  

Didn't Herr Hitler spell his name "Adolph"/

mac 9:16 PM  

@tangell: no, he did not.

sanfranman59 10:01 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, 6:55, 1.09, 83%, Challenging
Tue 8:16, 8:54, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:36, 11:44, 0.90, 30%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:50, 3:41, 1.04, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:27, 4:34, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Wed 5:31, 5:47, 0.96, 41%, Medium

NotalwaysrightBill 11:12 AM  

Syndi-late, enjoyed the Cyndi Lauper vid.

Fastest Wednespuz in a month of Wednes's.

Sticking point for a bit where I tried to double (thought: I don't know, maybe there's a reciprocal thing going on here) LAVA somehow for the PAREO answer (c'mon, ya gotta LOVE A LAVALAVA). And, besides, my sister spent two years in Samoa on a Mormon mission. So there was that . . . .

BOFF thy neighbor as thyself. Or I suppose a "Prank cigar . . . " is just a prank cigar (at the diametrically opposite north end) and you can BANG instead. Hey, that's AXIALLY pretty Milton Berlesque.


Berle, Poundstone, pound sand

Dirigonzo 7:57 PM  

Had REpaintS down the middle of the grid and that made the whole center section pretty tough until HALFANDHALF straightened things out. All of the words that were new to others were new to me too, so I learned a lot from this one.

I did not know that @NarB did stand-up, too!

lodsf 10:53 AM  

(syndication) Liked the puzzle and ‘mini’ (half?) rebus. Elf as a year-end-helper was cute and unlocked that section since I did not know BOFF in re Broadway nor DEF as slang. Was the puzzle half modern (DEF, Cyndi Lauper, Los Lonely Boys, etc) and half ‘oldie-type’ (as noted by A-C-M)? To the ‘oldie’ half add TELLERS in a cage. I think they let them roam free these days (free-standing teller desks); if anyone actually goes into a bank these days. I listen to WWDTM every week and love Paula Poundstone, but am sure I would have loved the show even more if I had listened when A_C_M was on. Enjoyed all 3 video clips today; thanks Rex.

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