Eponymous associate Stalin / THU 6-23-11 / Early French settler North America / City home to US Brig Niagara / Stone-cold truths / Seine feeder

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: CLEAN UP (70A: Response to 40-Across ... or what can be done to 12 answers in this puzzle without affecting their clues?) — an OIL rebus. When you CLEAN UP the OIL SPILLS (40A: Environmental woes)—i.e. remove the OIL from the answer—the clue still makes sense.

Word of the Day: Vyacheslav MOLOTOV (63A: Eponymous associate of Stalin) —

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov (Russian: Вячесла́в Миха́йлович Мо́лотов; 9 March, [O.S. 25 February] 1890 – 8 November 1986) was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium (Politburo) of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev. He served as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars from 1930 to 1941, and as Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1939 to 1949 and from 1953 to 1957. Molotov served for several years as First Deputy Premier of Joseph Stalin's cabinet. He retired in 1961 after several years of obscurity. [...] On 30 November 1939, after a futile year-and-a-half campaign to persuade the Finnish government to cede territory to the Soviet Union and give up some sovereignty by conceding specific military and political favors, the Soviet Union launched an offensive against Finland, starting what came to be known as the Winter War. The Finnish Army faced large numbers of Red Army tanks. Being short on anti-tank guns, they borrowed the design of an improvised incendiary device used in the just-concluded Spanish Civil War. // During the Winter War, the Soviet air force made extensive use of incendiaries and cluster bombs against Finnish troops and fortifications. When Soviet People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov claimed in radio broadcasts that they were not bombing, but rather delivering food to the starving Finns, the Finns started to call the air bombs Molotov bread baskets. Soon they responded by attacking advancing tanks with "Molotov cocktails" which were "a drink to go with the food". At first, the term was used to describe only the burning mixture itself, but in practical use the term was soon applied to the combination of both the bottle and its contents. This Finnish use of the hand- or sling-thrown explosive against Soviet tanks was repeated in the subsequent Continuation War between the two countries. (wikipedia)

[How I learned the term "Molotov cocktail"]

• • •

There are some nice touches here that take this puzzle beyond your run-of-the-mill rebus: a central answer that is both a rebus-containing answer and a clue to the theme, plus a final, exclamation-point Across answer that adds an interesting now-you-see-it, now-you-don't dimension to the puzzle. That said, I don't think the puzzle works very well, mainly because the gimmick—that the theme clues work with or without OIL—is not very shocking. The OIL TANKER without the OIL is a TANKER, but what else is it carrying besides OIL? It's still an OIL TANKER. Same thing with FISH OIL. You can take the OIL out, but the part of the FISH that contains the "fatty acid" is nonetheless still the OIL. The OLIVE and SESAME crossing adds an interesting culinary dimension, and in those cases the disappearing OIL actually *does* make a difference, but overall, the disappearing act just didn't make much of an impact on me. Also, the fill is icky in a lot of places, most notably in the area of the last square I filled in: the "L" in LEK (42A: Albanian money) / SILAS (33D: Albino in "The Da Vinci Code"). Whoa. No, no, scratch that. The absolute worst area is the west. RESEE (28D: Take in again) next to UNHAT (29D: Take a 31-Down off, in a way) is up there with the ugliest juxtapositions in puzzle history, esp. considering they both run through USH (a much-hated abbrev.) (39A: Do some theater work, informally) and Briticized MEAGRE (43A: Scanty, in Salisbury). UGH indeed. Throw in (deep breath) NOT ON, ABAT, IS ONE, OONA, ESA, OISE, ULAN, plural OLES, and, well, yeah. I've seen prettier grids.

I think instead of saying UGH all the time, I going to switch to LEK. "LEK!" I think it works.

Theme answers:
  • OIL TANKER (1A: Persian gulf sight) / OIL CAN (1D: Garage container)
  • OIL TYCOON / OIL PAINT (8D: Canvas coat) (best thing about this intersection is that Getty gave his name to a famous museum in L.A., which has more than its fair share of OIL PAINTings)
  • OIL RUB (27A: Day spa offering) / OIL PUMP (27D: Crankcase part)
  • FISH OIL (32A: Fatty acid source) / OIL SKIN (35D: Outer-layer protection)
  • OIL SPILLS / OIL RIG (40D: Gulf of Mexico sight) — essentially same clue as 1-Across. :(
  • SESAME OIL (69A: Asian cooking staple) / OLIVE OIL (48D: Greek salad ingredient)
  • 17A: Early French settler in North America (ACADIAN) — Until this very second, I was reading the phrase as "North Africa"; the French had a more recent presence there, which is what I'm using as my excuse.
  • 20A: City that's home to the U.S. Brig Niagara (ERIE) — Did anyone else try ENID (despite the fact that it's nowhere near a sizable body of water and nowhere near Niagara)?
  • 46A: Country where Bambara is the main spoken language (MALI) — Cool trivia. I would've guessed FRENCH (see Bullet #1, above)
  • 7D: ___ Furterer, line of French hair products (RENÉ) — Wow, really? I just went with "common French man's name" here and trusted it to be right.
  • 5D: Leveling in a ring (KO'ING) — That's not a word, that's a sound effect (see also LEK).
  • 11D: Add a bit of support during a conversation (CHIME IN) — really like this. Common colloquial phrase, but I don't recall seeing it much, if ever, in the grid.
  • 21D: Stone-cold truths (REALITIES) — I'm not sure why they're "stone-cold," unless they belong to Steve Austin or ... Keith Stone (whose face is All Over billboards where I live—we thought he was a real person we just didn't know, maybe a country music star or something. Then we saw the TV ads).

  • 26D: Astounding Stories subjects (UFOS) — an old scifi pulp magazine, which eventually morphed into Analog Science Fact & Fiction and then (1992) Analog Science Fiction and Fact (wikipedia).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]


GILL I. 12:17 AM  

I always thought a PIE HOLE was your mouth.
I've been to many a soccer game and never heard anyone say OLE. Usually everyone's singing a raunchy song. OLE though, can be heard at some good flamenco; Lucero Tena comes to mind.
Also -sheesh- SI SI? no no. Nadia says that unless maybe you're in a Hollywood movie or you're a chihuahua.
Having got that off my CABOOSE, I wish I could say I enjoyed this one. Instead it was an UGH for me.

CoffeeLvr 12:33 AM  

@Gill I.P., "shut yer PIE HOLE" or "shut your trap." Not addressing you, that's an explanation.

I'm a sucker for a rebus; I think my critical thinking skills go out the window. I liked it, but I do see all the crappy fill, especially in the West.

Clever clue for GRANOLA. I was looking for some exotic liqueur.

GILL I. 12:41 AM  

@CofeeLvr. Thanks. I think I will shut my trap or pie hole or whatever.

thursdaysd 1:02 AM  

Pleased to have finished a Thursday, although I had to stare at OLIVES for a while before changing it to OLIVEOIL, and some inspired (lucky) guesses were needed.

@Gill - I agree, I thought OLE was for bull fights, not soccer matches.

syndy 1:24 AM  

Some of this was pretty good-but oh my where it's bad t's truely horrid -how could you put UNHAT next to RESEE and still look at yourself in the mirror? UNHAT was not my first response to "take a TOP off"(also disturbing that 31 got all his history from pop music.)

retired_chemist 1:37 AM  


Found the rebus right away from 8A/8D. Usually it takes me several minutes. CABOOSE, ERIE, and LEK went in sans crosses. Knowing LEK means one does too many crosswords.

AIR TIME was my first answer for 68A, as was SLIGO for 53D.

Agree some of the fill is ugly - NOT ON, UGH, USH, RESEE, UNHAT particularly. Liked most of the rest.

Thank you, Mr. Livengood.

chefwen 2:09 AM  

My first fill was so right, yet so wrong at 16A when I filled in ensnare, laughed out loud when it turned out to be PIE HOLE. I, who love rebuses or is it rebi really liked this one, agree that a lot of the fill was UGH but I still had a great time. Hated 39A USH, have always hated it, but give me a rebus on a Thursday and I am smiling.

jae 3:34 AM  

I had this at easy-medium, mostly because I got the theme at 1a/1d. You've got to suspect a rebus on Thurs. My saving move was changing the S to OILs at 69a/48d (I only had 5 OILs when I hit 70a). I liked this more than Rex but I have to agree about some of the fill. Although, PIEHOLE was good for a chuckle.

acadian chimein meagre 5:09 AM  

@jae, thursdayd
I also had to search and search and search to find the sixth
OIL set since 70A said there were 12.
SESAMEs/OLIVEs seemed fine to me!

All the oils seemed to be one in the same thing to me...which felt like it defied some sort of rule...
OIL rigs, tanker, spills, pump, tycoon, can were all the same oil...
fish, sesame, olive, rub are all extracts.
so, I'm not sure OILS well that ends well here...
tho I guess as a rebus it's pretty slick.

Still, deep down, my favorite part about this puzzle remains Ian's last name.

fmcgmccllc 7:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
David L 7:54 AM  

Saw the rebus early but finished with two mistakes that I couldn't ferret out: S instead of OIL on OLIVES and SESAMES (I didn't like plural sesames but there's so much other crummy fill that it didn't seem out of place), and then I had OILSUMP crossing SENT instead of PUMP/PENT. I submit that the sump is part of the crankcase in a way that the pump is not, and I was thinking that someone who is locked in the pokey has been sent up...

Bah, in other words, and again I say, bah.

davko 8:01 AM  

The CABOOSE seems to have all but disappeared from modern freight trains. I think its use as a metaphor, as clued this puzzle, may already have eclipsed its literal meaning.

If LEK is hackneyed fill for yet another Old World coin, maybe it's time to invoke its alternate meaning as the assembly area for grouse in courtship.

joho 8:09 AM  

I'd love to say that I UNHAT myself to this puzzle and want to RESEE it. But I'd rather be KOING it.

I got the trick when I had TYCoOON. And I enjoyed finding the other OILs but got confused in the SE where there wasn't one.

I still enjoyed it, as I always appreciate a rebus, but well, I just can't gush about it.

Glimmerglass 8:17 AM  

Liked this one. Some of the fill is yucky, as Rex points out, but a lot was clever: PIEHOLE, GRANOLA, MALI, PONIES, even OILPAINT. I liked the rebus. I also had an S on the end of sesame(s) and olive(s), but by then I'd figured out the rebus and substituted OIL for the S. Greek salads contain ripe olives as well as OLIVEOIL. Asian cooking uses sesame seeds as well as oil. That gave me a problem in the SE, where there is no OIL. Aha, the answer is actually OIL CLEANUP, but the OIL has been cleaned up.

jesser 8:49 AM  

At KOING, I said "Sheesh."

Like notable Others, I failed at OLIVEs/SESAMEs. Weak.

My favorite thing about this puzzle was the clue for 61D.

I'm headed out of town for a few days and won't post again until probably Wednesday. I hope everyone has a great weekend! NO DOUBT!

M07S 9:02 AM  

Does anyone remember the title of the "For Dummies" book for crossword constructors? The titles I've found are not about construction.

ArtO 9:19 AM  

One is always on the lookout for a rebus (or, as my wife says, "trick") on Thursday which helped when approaching this puzzle. With an "oon" as my first fills on 8A figured it had to be tycoon which is when the light went on for "oil."

While the fill is ugly, I finished without too much of a struggle and so found the rating a bit of a surprise.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Was anyone else reminded of the ANT rebus with PEST CONTROL being the revealer at the bottom? I think it was around January 2010. One of my favorite thursday puzzles ever.

Anyway, while this puzzle was decent, it is really just a much simpler and les impressive version of the ANT one, for the reasons Rex explained. It is much easier to find clues that work with or without OIL when removing the oil just leaves an object related to the original phrase. The ANT rebus, though, had some very distinct answers with and without the ANT.

GLR 9:24 AM  

I'm not a spa-goer, but do they really offer something called an OIL RUB? Doesn't sound very enticing to me!

Also, I'm not a gear-head, but I don't think of an OIL PUMP as part of the crankcase. Doesn't it just pump the oil *through* the crankcase?

Got the theme pretty early for me, especially for a rebus. Reasonable time for a Thursday - not fast, but not slow, and got the Happy Pencil on the first try.

Didn't care that much for the theme. It was a little helpful in figuring out answers, but would have been moreso if there had been some symmetry to where the rebus squares showed up.

John V 9:27 AM  

Well, after yesterday,which was a huge stuggle for me, this was a breath of fresh air. Saw the rebus right away. Like @Rex, LEK was last to fall.

Played easy/medium on the New Haven RR this morning :)

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Shouldn't KO'ING be KINGO?
Is SESAME an ingredient of anything without OIL or SEEDS? I've never added 2Tsps of SESAME to anything.

@M07S - I'd wait for an authorative answer, but I believe Blindauer's book is simply Crosswords for Dummies. It's been mentioned here before that while it doesn't sound like a construction specific work it really is.

Cheerio 9:42 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle, though I'm not sure yet what makes some puzzles more enjoyable for me than others. The "pie hole" = "trap" was my favorite part - having to rethink the meaning of "trap." I had "pot hole" which seemed to not quite stretch to be a kind of "trap" (for your car tire). I also had to think about why a "canvas coat" clued "oil paint" because I was thinking of a coat that one would wear.

CoffeeLvr 9:47 AM  

@Jesser, have a great trip.

@M07S, the book you are seeking is "Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies," by Patrick Berry. It does begin with seventy puzzles, but then Berry uses them as examples of how to construct puzzles.

@acadian chimein meagre, your post and others like it are why I always come back to read comments here; slick indeed. So funny.

So glad I am not the only Rebus fan; they are the lowbrow end of puzzling. Does anyone else remember solving the rebuses in Highlights for Children?

retired_chemist 9:58 AM  

@ chefwen - hand up for ENSNARE.

isbn for Patrick Berry's book, Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies," is 0-7645-5622-3.

Glitch 10:23 AM  


Tankers on the Hudson River often carry gasoline, and years ago, one ran aground and spilled a whole lot of molasses.

I get fatty acids from eating fish, my wife from taking fish oil capsules. Her "souce" doesn't come out as well on the grill as mine.

The different kinds of oil didn't bother me during the solve, but appreciate your point during my construction analysis phase ;)


I live on a freight line and pretty much all the freight trains going by my place have a caboose at the end.


Rebus symmetry (or lack of it) is a factor in level of difficulty.


Mel Ott 10:47 AM  

The baseball card of OIL Can Boyd made me think of my father. Dad hailed from Greenpernt, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, and used to refer to that Red Sox pitcher as Erl Can Bird.

I liked the puzzle. The cleverness of the construction, particularly my Aha moment when I realized the theme answers worked with or without OIL, more than made up for some crappy fill.

Mel Ott 10:52 AM  

Also, why the ? in the clue for 66D? Seems to me to be a standard clue for AIL, but the ? was one of several things that slowed me down in the SE. (I also wanted OIL in that corner.)

hazel 11:10 AM  

didn't think a lot of this puzzle when i finished it last night because of all the "compromised" fill. but today, looking at the grid, the "oh dear god no" factor sort of faded, and it became a pretty cool puzzle. Rebuses are starting to grow on me, i suppose. And I liked the lack of symmetry for the reason @Glitch states.

Rebuses always make me think of Ian Rankin's Detective Rebus, who has sadly been retired.

jackj 11:22 AM  

Today's rebus offered a chance to cleanse the palate of the dreck served up by the Times yesterday but, instead, Ian Livengood gives us a rather timid, benign, rebus puzzle which only cleanses the palette.

It wasn't a bad puzzle, it just wasn't a puzzle deserving of the name Livengood, one of the up and coming, innovative, intellectually aggressive, young constructors.

I hope Ian will consider in the future that any puzzle which needs NOTON, RESEE, UNHAT, USH and KOING as fill, for example, doesn't deserve his imprimatur.

Matthew G. 11:22 AM  

I'm with Rex on this one. Disliked the puzzle despite liking the added touches on the theme, mainly because of the lousy fill. As I entered UNHAT next to RESEE, I thought to myself, "Rex is going to single that out for scorn," and sure enough. I'm usually a big fan of Ian Livengood's work, but today, not so much.

Agree with the Medium-Challenging rating even though I didn't have trouble with the rebus -- it was the fill that slowed me down today.

Chip Hilton 11:49 AM  

Watch the USA/Mexico Gold Cup championship soccer game this Saturday. There's a real good chance you'll hear an OLE or two.

KOING, UNHAT, and USH: really awful.

SILAS/LEK crossing: just happy that SILAS is a name, otherwise Natick time for me.

Masked and Anonymous and Desperate 12:21 PM  

Gonna usually get a fight, when yer puz's infested with an asymmetric rebusoid. Beeeeeautiful stacks of sevens, each crossed by another seven. Looks like a construction job requiring a hardhat.

Then you get to the oil-soaked East and West porticos. Trouble, trouble, trouble. But gotta save all them nice stacks, we've just built.

LEK doesn't seem so bad, to salvage that wicked E-witch. All the LEK-crossers are "ok". Did you know that lek is also "a patch of ground used for communal display in the breeding season by the males of certain birds and mammals"? Also, sounds like lick. So what's not to love.

Now to work on that W side. Trouble, trouble, trouble. Must save grid. Got M??GR?...hmmm...has to be MEAGRE; nothin' else fits. UH-oh. Three hours later, USH/RESEE/UNHAT start to look mighty good. Like all them girls lookin' lots better at closin' time...

WesIsland 12:30 PM  

Really out of sink with constructor today. DNF. Problem clues were 16A "Trap,"and 62D "Part of a flight." Finally decided on KEYHOLE for 16A and could not get out of airline thinking mode on 62D for the life of me.

And like @Mel Ott did not understand the "?" in 66D. Filled in ERR.

Misread 20A and thought I was looking for a Brigadier General Niagara's home town and wrote in ENID. LOL.

Had PHONES for PONIES at 38A, "Some bettors bet on them."


Anonymous 12:32 PM  

i think this week's wed. and thurs. should have been reversed. didn't get close to finishing yesterday and breezed thru' today which is not usual for me on thurs. i also was confused by the ? on not do well. hated resee and unhat but felt so satisfied when it all fell into place! i rate it easy thurs.

GILL I. 12:37 PM  

@Chip Hilton
You made me go to Google and look up a OLE chant (of all things - I'm bored today) and you are right. But the OLE(s) I heard were mainly from the Brazilian team and they don't count as far as I'm concerned because they don't speak spanish.
I wouldn't miss the USA/MEXICO game if you promised me an OIL RUB.
I'll have my PIE HOLE chanting OLE OLE..

The Card 1:16 PM  

Oils Well That Ends Well

Bob Kerfuffle 1:20 PM  

I was slowed a bit at 8 D, had OILCLOTH before OILPAINT. Seemed to make sense, and it fit!

John V 1:40 PM  

@Anoymous 12:32 p.m., I'm right there with you re: Wed/Thursday difficulty. I finished Wednesday's in about 3 hours. Today was around 20 minutes, a good Thursday time for me.

Sparky 1:45 PM  

Hate UNHAT and USH. OK.OK. First thought rebus. Then led astray by 12 in 70D clue and looked for something in the 12 seven letter across answers such as spelling them backwards. Eventually saw that didn't work. Light dawned around the Y-OON of 8A.

Thanks above, whom I can't find to @ at, for pointing out oil cleaned out of 70A. Its lack bothered me.

@Hazel: Rankin's Rebus was a TV series with John Hannah. Pretty good, too. I'm so happy I finished. To the weekend.

Arundel 2:02 PM  

LEK! Not my fave of rebii. The cluing was so vague that it was just unsatisfying.

The ole-chant is hardly exclusive to football. On April 23 Stan and I were riding the T in Boston, going back to North Station from the BCPT at Harvard. We were on a train that was going out of service two stops before North Station, which is also the location of The Garden. And the Bruins and the Canadiens were just about to face off.

The train emptied onto the platform and we all waited for the next one to come along in a remarkably color-coordinated crowd, mostly black-and-gold, but with a certain group of big white-and-red garbed guys who were speaking French.

By the time we all crammed onto the next train, the competing chants of "Go Bro-oo-ns" and the "Ole-ole-olay-oh" were shaking the car!

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

Agree with what most of Rex says about the fill, but I loved the theme. I had a great AHA moment at 27A/D.

CABOOSE and PIEHOLE in the same line is great, but maybe should have been reversed. I grinned at 12D - haven't seen OONA in a long time.

@Rex - Niagara = ENID?? Come on, you should know better.

JenCT 3:13 PM  


Had RELET before RESEE.

USH should just be banned - it's terrible.

Just couldn't seem to get KOING.


mmespeer 3:26 PM  

I loved Acadian because I am right here in the middle of Acadian country doing this puzzle in Nova Scotia. Salut, mes amis!

sanfranman59 3:42 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 15:35, 19:05, 0.82, 21%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:28, 9:14, 1.03, 62%, Medium-Challenging

I'm not putting much stock in today's All Solvers rating because of the rebus. There's probably a disproportionate number people who would ordinarily fall in the All Solvers group outside the Top 100 who wind up as DNFs either because they don't figure out the rebus or because they can't figure out how to enter the rebus answers in the online interface. FWIW, my own solve time jibes with Rex's Medium-Challenging rating.

mac 4:40 PM  

I like a rebus, love trap/piehole and the caboose, but I can see the problems with some of the fill.

Glad WOD was Molotov, I always thought he created the explosive bottle!

@Gill: I've heard ole chants and songs at German, English, Dutch and French soccer matches.

At 44d I had ---nola, and filled in pianola... Don't even know exactly what that is.

@davko: be careful what you wish for. Lek could be clued as yet another European river.

@joho + @ACM: gush and slick, vry good!

No hilt discussion today?

retired_chemist 4:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 4:49 PM  

@ mac - a pianola is a player piano. Old timey, with the piano roll.... certainly would have been found in some bars, decades ago.

dk 5:12 PM  

Nice shout out to a certain x number of PONIES.

As I am rebus challenged you can guess the rest. A sample: Duster for 8D.

Just back from Nederland CO with a Frozen Dead Guy poster under my arm.

Having given and got same: KOING is a new one on me.

** (2 stars) My fault not yours Ian... but I am small minded and spiteful.

KarenSampsonHudson 7:07 PM  

Did the puzzle this morning (PDT) but had no time to comment, began hectic day. "What is so rare as a day in June?" In desperate need of a bit of leisure to appreciate one!
Either I'm making progress or this was an easy Thursday solve! Satisfying.

ksquare 7:51 PM  

@GLR 9:24 The oil pump doesn't pump oil through the crankcase; it pumps oil FROM the crankcase to lubricate the crankshaft bearings.danivica

Cheerio 11:36 PM  


I have also been thinking about the rare day in June saying. We have had some such days this month on the East Coast. So lovely! Happy Solstice to all!

Greg 12:20 AM  

Hmph. As if John Campbell, despite his craziness over the Dean Drive and Dianetics, would ever have allowed UFO nonsense to grace the pages of Astounding. Hard SF was the rule. UFOs are pseudoscience, not science fiction. I, probably alone of solvers, am offended.

oldbizmark 1:02 AM  

easy peasy, mac and cheesy.

sanfranman59 2:35 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 6:25, 6:52, 0.93, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:31, 8:56, 1.07, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 18:36, 11:52, 1.57, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 103 Wednesday puzzles)
Thu 15:47, 19:05, 0.82, 21%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:37, 3:40, 0.99, 47%, Medium
Tue 4:53, 4:35, 1.07, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:48, 5:51, 1.67, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 103 Wednesday puzzles)
Thu 9:07, 9:14, 0.99, 57%, Medium

Doug 1:33 PM  

I liked this one very much, getting used to rebuses now. Caboose for rear end, how delightful (As in, "Did you see the caboose on her? Hoochi-mama."

For the longest time I thought PETRI must be wrong, since I had OIL PANS (don't know why it would be plural except for the no. of spaces); don't know much of anything about the underside of cars.

And for "take a top off, in a way" I was certainly looking for unsnap or unhalter and very disappointed with UNHAT.

Did not care for ALPINES as "plants native to mountain summits." The word itself is not generally used (mostly just wildflowers), and 99% of the alpine summits I've been to had no vegetation whatsoever. If they had vegetation it was a gnarled conifer or lichen. Those flowers are down in the alpine meadows. Ian may be Livengood, but he's probably doing it at sea level.

impjb 4:07 PM  

Anyone at first have urinals where granola should be? I had the r, n and l...

Anonymous 4:32 PM  

Wanted OP ED for 61 D. Good clue for TUTU as well, though. Maybe some day it shows up twice in the same puzzle.

@David L 7:54 AM
Agree: OIL SUMP is an acceptable answer. I'm calling it a complete solve.

Famously, the late great Casey Stengel once unhatted while stepping up to the batter's box, whereupon a live bird flew out from beneath his cap. I recently resaw a story about that.

Anonymous 4:44 PM  

Had my aha! moment at 40, when I thought, boy, if you could just squeeze "oil" into that square, it would play. Then the light came on in all the other places, and of course CLEANUP went right in. So, no great solving shakes, but UGH! Did he really put RESEE in the finished grid? That has to be the worst. Wish he had given the late great Steve McQueen a shout-out with the clue for HILTS: "'The Great Escape''s Virgil."

Dirigonzo 7:55 PM  

Favorite clue - Eponymous associate of Stalin (mostly because I love the word "eponymous")

Favorite prime-time comment - @Masked and Anonymous and Desperate. "Like all them girls lookin' lots better at closin' time..." So true, so true.

Number two son fixed dinner tonight (a first) and it was actually pretty good - maybe there's hope for him yet! (Now if I can just get him to clean up the mess of pots and pans in the sink...)

Eastsacgirl 11:24 PM  

Second day in a row I wasn't pleased with the fill. Got the rebus right away but didn't have a whole lot of fun throughout


Waxy in Montreal 12:39 AM  

Easy Thursday I thought as rebus appeared early at 1A/1D. Except, kept wondering how an OIL CAN could possibly be a GARBAGE CONTAINER. Time for new spec's I guess... LEK!

Deb 2:21 AM  

@Doug - I had the same thought re ALPINES. I'm a native Coloradoan and have never heard anyone refer to the vegetation above tree-line that way. Alpine tundra, or simply tundra , but not "alpines."

@Waxy, I made the same error, but doubled. I had TRASH in the top left square (I've never heard of a trash tanker, but I figured such a thing could exist), and BACK with RUB/PUMP (don't know much about car engines either). Took me a lot longer than a usual Thursday to get that mess fixed. I also ended with S instead of SEED in the SW.

For all that though, I enjoyed the puzzle (with a couple groans at fill already noted by others). Rebuses are always fun.

BTW, to anyone who might know (or see this): Is there some rule against using numerals in crossword puzzles in rebus fashion? I don't think I've ever seen one.

captcha=gadineds (in kelly green, bold Hoefler Text): Logos R Us' losing design for G. A. Dine, D.D.S.

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