Prince's partner / THU 7-28-11 / Greek island where Zeus said to be raised / Baltic Sea feeder / Anatomical dividers / Villainous monk Da Vinci Code

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: UP — an "UP" rebus wherein all the Down answers that contain an "UP" square must be read from the bottom UP to be understood

Word of the Day: Wade BOGGS (1D: Five-time A.L. batting champ) —

Wade Anthony Boggs (born June 15, 1958) is a former Major League Baseball third baseman. He spent his 18-year baseball career primarily with the Boston Red Sox, but also played for the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. His hitting in the 1980s and 1990s made him a perennial contender for American League batting titles, in much the same way as his National League contemporary Tony Gwynn. Boggs was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. With 12 straight All-Star appearances, Boggs is third only to Brooks Robinson and George Brett in number of consecutive appearances as a third baseman. His finest season was 1987, when he set career highs in home runs (24), RBI (89), and slugging percentage (.588). He also batted .363 and had a .461 on-base percentage that year, leading the league in both statistics. In 1999, he ranked number 95 on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. (wikipedia)
• • •

I grew up idolizing Wade BOGGS, so this puzzle got off on the right foot with me. Actually, that's not true. It took me a little while to get BOGGS, as BRETT and CAREW were my first guesses (both former A.L. batting champs—Carew 7 times, Brett 3). At first I floated through the grid, in and around what would turn out to be the rebus squares. SEPTA to NEAT to LTR to RA I to AS TO ... SHALT to TSE TSE to TOIL to OUTER to ECOLE to SATIRIC and DOLOR. Finally saw MEASURED [one square] and new "UP" was the key. Took me at least another minute before I figured out why 27D: Union requirement, maybe? and, a little later, 3D: Prince's partner weren't working. --UP-- = PAUPER ... but then SEPTA becomes SERTA, which made me wonder if there was some bygone mattress commercial with a prince that I was forgetting. Once I realized PAUPER just wasn't going to work, I put "P" back in SEPTA and the upside-downness of the answer became clear. Needless to say, after that bottom half of the grid was somewhat easier than the top half (but still tough). I enjoyed this ambitious and legitimately tricky puzzle, even though I finished with an error. At 19A: Refill when you don't really need to (TOP UP), I wrote in TOPE. Seemed very, very right. Sadly, NOE (the resulting cross) makes no sense at all for 13D: Over (NOPU, i.e. UPON). Crosschecking your answers = always a good idea, esp. in a minefield of a puzzle like this one.

Three tenacious wrong answers: IN AWE for [Taken] (IN USE), WINDOWS for [They may be cleared with a spray] (SINUSES), and (funniest of all) WEES for [Pygymy couple?] (WYES)

Theme answers:
Note that the word "UP" appears in all Acrosses and no Downs (well, it's a word part in UP-DOS, but I'm gonna count it), creating a nice, consistent signal for you to read UP.

  • 15A: Villainous monk in "The Da Vinci Code" (SILAS) — once again, forgot his name. I think I just really resent this clue, which expects me to read Dan Brown or see some horrible-looking movie. Would be nice to see some love for Paul SILAS now and again, if you really don't want to use a George Eliot clue.
  • 41A: Actor Johnson of "Plan 9 From Outer Space"(TOR) — ugh, as if this puzzle weren't hard enough. Also, OUTER is in the grid. Whoops.
  • 48A: "Curb Your Enthusiasm" shower (HBO) — I think I prefer "airer" to "shower."
  • 68A: Greek island where Zeus was said to be raised (NAXOS) — also, a fine discount Classical CD label. I have a lot of NAXOS music.

  • 5D: Indication of deflation (SSSS) — easily the worst answer in the grid. A puzzle this ambitious and interesting can get away with an answer or two like this (and assorted detritus like ODER (14A: Baltic sea feeder), AHSO, RAREE, LAK, OLA, etc.)
  • 11D: It may be the only thing in a bar (WHOLE NOTE) — probably my favorite clue/answer pair in the whole puzzle.
See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. If you cannot attend the Lollapuzzoola 4 crossword tournament (coming up next Saturday, Aug. 6—details here), the tournament creators are giving you an opportunity to Solve At Home! From the tournament website:

"NEW -- Solve at home! Can't attend the tournament, but still want to play? No problem! For the low low price of $10, the complete set of puzzles from this year's tournament will be hand-delivered to an email address of your choosing. We'll ship the puzzles (in PDF format) on August 7, the day after the tournament in New York. This offer is only available through Sunday, August 14, so if you want to participate in the fun and games from afar, act quickly!"


CoffeeLvr 12:19 AM  

I will never state that I like a puzzle with a rebus without any qualification again. Actually, the puzzle is pretty good, except for the weaknesses Rex emphasized. But my solving experience was not fun.

And TOR? I couldn't even dig him out from IMDB - although he is in there if you already have the answer.

syndy 12:30 AM  

Don't know my Baseball-threw in BONDS.ALSO loved WHOLENOTE which helped some I could see there was a rebus-but not how it worked ! Had septa early but finally figured out PAUPER and what the deal was.WHUP is my second favorite!challenging but the payoff was worth it!nothing BUSH league about this one!

chefwen 1:28 AM  

That was so much fun I want to do it again.

Ended up with the same error as Rex with TOPe and NOe???? Never did fix it. Had to Google LUC, NAXOS, and TOR. Caught onto the trick with COME UP SHORT and SOUPS. After my initial Googles and getting the gimmick it was a blast.

Loved it, thanks Alan Arbesfeld, this is going in the two thumbs category.

chefwen 1:35 AM  

That would be two thumbs UP!!!

Another thing, I always thought it was TOP off not TOP UP, so I Googled it after the fact and I suggest no one with a faint heart should read the Urban Dictionary's definition.

capcha - corbang OMG

Anonymous 1:46 AM  

Can someone explain "how Rubik's cube is best solved" ALONE? I figure more than one person won't be handling the cube at a time, but ???? -- seems weirdly obvious. Am I missing something?

andrea whup whup michaels 2:39 AM  

TOP(off) made this solve take a full hour, but I enjoyed. TOIL, indeed! But I like everything Alan Arbesfeld does.

Almost no writeovers in the lower half and the right side of the puzzle but my top NW corner is SUCH a mess, as I started with AARON/ARAL/NARES and PAUPER going the wrong way.

The wrongways look dreadful: UPHW, UPNERP, NOUP. Blech but cool, bec you still have to read the UP in the same order somehow. Freaky.

BRITTLE was the final key to both my success and my feelings of late.

LTR and the SUPT almost did me in and exactly why shitty abbreviations shouldn't be used, esp in such a tricky puzzle.

But I liked AA's challenge to TOPTHIS!

Found it interesting the contrast between ACUTABOVE and MEASUREDUP and their almost exact opposites: GOUPINSMOKE and COMESUPSHORT.

Again, I didn't know APTED for a Bond film, only as the director of my favorite documentary (series) of all time: 28UP

I also don't know "Mighty LAK a Rose" and refused to believe it was correct, so that was a real slow down as well.
I needed my own color-coded sign:


jae 2:50 AM  

Hard to rate the difficulty of this one. Once I caught the rebus it seemed kinda easy-medium. But it took a while to catch on. Liked it a lot. Tricky Thurs. are fun!

@chefwen/andrea - I tried TOPOFF early on thinking it might be a multiple rebus. Didn't work out.

@anon 1:46 -no.

lit.doc 3:19 AM  

19A ate my clock. On road trips, I’ve been known to TOP[OFF] my tank. This clued me to the (probable) rebus, but doomed me to looking for two or more prepositions and, thus, blinded me for aeons to the meaning of the UP rebus. TOP[UP]?! REALLY?!!

Ultimately, DNF, even after resorting to a Check ALL about two-thirds through the puzzle. Never even entertained the possibility of 55D “RAREE show”, which Google now tells me is a real something. Geez.

That said, I love rebus puzzles, especially when they’re not spoiled by a give-away title. This was a brutally interesting puzzle, aside from that lethal 19A CLUSTER[FEBUS]. I so hope the Rexter has a cogent explanation of that one.

(later) OMG, Rex has posted and I am soooo relieved by his Challenging call. @RP, me too re 11D. Glad a musical background suggested the right meaning of “bar”.

@AWWM, me too re both the NW generally and BRITTLE specifically being the key. And SAE sat smugly in LTR’s chair for such a long, long time.

@chefwen, thank you for enriching my puzzlement re TOP UP. Apparently, crosswords are going to pot. Although, in fairness, TOP UP reeeeally passes the breakfast test, if breakfast is watching cartoons while chowing pre-sweetened cereal. Or so I hear.

John Hoffman 5:07 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Hoffman 5:08 AM  

I was disappointed by this puzzle.

The rebus theme is clever, but there's WAY too much weird stuff. First off the theme clues TOP[UP], [UP]DOS AND S[UP]T were too much of a stretch. Second, there was too much truly obscure fill like APTED and RAREE, LUC, TOR. And odd jokes like OLA and WYES.

I'd like to see the theme done again with normal words.

Emo 7:21 AM  

How Rubik's Cube is best solved (ALONE).

Other possible (similar) answers:

with clothes on

while awake

after lunch

SethG 7:32 AM  

You top off the tank but top up an account. This might add airtime to a cell phone, money to a prepaid charge card, or bring your small stack of poker chips up to the largest buy-in amount.

TOP(UP) was one of my first answers. Started with SSSS, then ASP, then AH SO and TOP (UP), then UPON. So I both found the rebus right away and realized right away that the UP answers went UP.

Still some trickiness in the solve, but none because of the rebus.

Smitty 7:53 AM  

I had it at COME UP SHORT

It had me at SIT UP FOR

I couldn't remember the name of the raft in Kon Tiki
and couldn't let go of BRICKLE

Nancy in PA 8:05 AM  

This one had to be done in two sittings but finally I whupped it. TOPUP didn't bother me--doesn't your breakfast server top up your coffee for you? SOUPS and PAUPER gave me the most trouble--when UP was the beginning or the end or a word unto itself I was fine. Didn't like SUPT but that's a small quibble for a puzzle this fine. Good practice for Lollapuzzoola!

Z 8:07 AM  

Aaargh. Should have known it was going to be a bad morning when I read the clue for 30A and put in "whiSpered" at 24A. Worked through that error and actually had the whole NE filled (with TOPs at 19A). I could not see what UPNEdP could possibly be, so I was thinking TOd and/or TERP were wrong and I was missing some sort of trickeration.

Muddled through the rest of the puzzle despite missteps like ITSAbomb, but never could get past the insistence that 60A should be afro and 67A should be whys, so a DNF. It took Rex to clue me in to the reading the down clues up.

So, this puzzle did me in. Love the concept, but I think the quality is lessened by dreck in key places, WYES, SUPT, and TOPUP especially. On the other hand, PRENUP, PAUPER, UPSET, SOUPS all seem perfectly fair. If the constructor had seen four theme answers as enough I think it would be a better puzzle.

@chefwen - I would add that the Urban Dictionary never passes the breakfast test - but that never stops me. The things we have names for....

David L 8:08 AM  

Even after I figured out the rebus I had trouble making sense of PUON, SPUT and SOPUS -- but it became clear eventually.

TOPUP and TOPOFF are pretty much interchangeable for me -- but I don't like the "when you don't really need to" part of the clue. If I want my G&T topped up it's because I want it topped up, dammit.

Also ASPs don't crawl, they slither, on account of their leglessness. And to me, ACUTABOVE means significantly better than, not slightly.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

I had a different DNF: in the bottom left corner I had SEtup for SEED, giving me the crosses RAREt show (which I parsed as RARE-T, as some sort of slang for "rarity") and upetpa for the name of the director I didn't know.

dk 8:09 AM  

what @John Hoffman said.

yy (2 WYES)

Greetings to our old friends BOAS and TSETSE wonder what they have been UP to.

Local gas station has a no TOPUPs sign. It is also where Apis relieve themselves... You know a BP station.

OldCarFudd 8:12 AM  

I enjoyed this, and agree it was fairly easy once you saw the gimmick and a bear until then. I like Rex's tope error!

I got TOP UP right away, because I have a slant on it that may be unique in this group. If you're trying to do a distance flight in a glider, and you see
a patch of sky ahead that looks less promising than the sky you're in (for instance, because it has no cumulus clouds, or has a high overcast), you'll TOP UP your altitude. That is, you'll get as high as possible in a nearby thermal before venturing out into an area that might not give you another thermal for several miles. I agree, however, that gas tanks get topped off.

joho 8:32 AM  

I actually asked myself at seeing MEASURED followed by one black square,"What's UP with this puzzle?!" But I didn't figure it out until PAUPER. After that I loved every minute of this except for TOPUP. You definitely TOPoff a gas tank. But OFF/ON made no sense for Over.

Thank you, Alan Arbesfeld, for such a creative and clever puzzle. Loved it!

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Why does it bother me that i cannot authenticate Naxos as Zeus' birth place?

Campesite 9:05 AM  

Rebus puzzles seem to get such incredibly positive responses, it surprises me the Times doesn't publish more of them. Are they simply too difficult to pull off successfully?

Thanks to @rexparker for this retweet:
Will Shortz (@Will_Shortz)
7/27/11 9:47 PM
An innocent NYT crossword clue I wrote for ROCK CANDY: Something hard to suck on? Test-solver Frank caught it before it ran. [Whew!]

Pete 9:07 AM  

This puzzle gave me a headache. I groked the concept, probably with RE{UP}AP, but always failed to carry through. My mind insisted that the downs read backwards, even though I knew that the {UP} portion was to be read as UP. Time after time I just ended up with a sequence of letters which were nonsense, even though I completely understood what was supposed to be going on.


retired_chemist 9:23 AM  

Good one! Challenging and fun.

Finished - eventually - with an error. NEXOS/OLE - didn't know NAXOS but should have seen OLA coming.

Got the idea of "UP" very early but the theme downs made no sense until 59D. I was sure of COME(UP)SHORT and ALERO but kept wanting to switch the UP and the O to get SO(UP)S. And then the light dawned....

Gor BOGGS with one cross, BRAE, ODER, SINUSES, TERP, ALERO with none. OTERO county is becoming the western OCALA it seems. Only county in NM I can name other than Bernalillo, which is NEVER gonna appear in crosswords.

Thanks, Mr. Arbesfeld.

John V 9:27 AM  

Well, didn't have this done at 14th Street, but did shortly after. Finished with one, one letter error, 29D, had RAA, RAI, with 39A SATUPFOR, which looks as good as SITUPFOR, if you are willing to ignore the tense of the clue. Grrr. Agree with @Rex that 11D was the best clue in the puzzle, best indirection.

Surprisingly, played medium until I saw the rebus and UP gimmick at 27D, which I knew would be pre-nup. Overall, LOVED this one. Rough paper-solve time about 45 minutes, which for me is a good way to start any Thursday.

Adam 9:27 AM  

I disagree with Rex just a bit on the SSSS clue/answer. Sure, having SSSS in your grid is not ideal. But it didn't bother me nearly as much as it could have for two reasons. First, it doesnt flank the end of 4 stacked plurals, but sits at the beginning of an across stack. And second, I thought the clue was pretty decent. Three s's are the sound of an ASP, sure. But four s's? That's gotta be an indication of deflation!

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

At first I thought the "UP" theme was also being carried out in the longer down answers, as some of them have a "vertically higher" aspect to them -- ACUTABOVE, TOPTHIS. But it's not found in the symmetrical counterparts to these answers (WHOLENOTE and BRITTLE). Did anyone else notice this?

chefbea 10:07 AM  

4th time I have tried to post!!!!! thought third time was the charm. lets see if blogger eats UP this post

exaudio 10:35 AM  

Had everything but the whup/wyse cross. When oh when will I learn that if the answer just isn't coming to look at the letters and not the meaning of the clue?

Tobias Duncan 10:35 AM  

SSSS uglier than SUPT?

Never heard of this APTED guy so I looked him UP on the wiki.

Michael David Apted, CMG (born 10 February 1941) is an English director, producer, writer and actor. He is one of the most prolific British film directors of his generation but is best known for his work on the Up Series of documentaries and the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

one letter wrong...had 52D-68A crossing as OTERa and NAXaS, alas...once I figured out the rebus after running into same issues Rex and other have mentioned I did finish the remainder farily quick...but, I still think there is too much obscure, crappy fill and suspect cluing:

7A How Rubik's Cube is best solved = ALONE - stinker clue

29D Thor Heyerdahl craft = RA I - got it off the crosses, but huh and who cares?

39A Pay sudden attention to = SIT UP FOR - what's sudden about that?

55D _____ show = RAREE - don't know, don't care

5D Indication of deflation = SSSS - groaner

- cranky deion

Mac Becket 11:04 AM  

Thought of Tony OLIVA also for 1D - he was A.L. batting champ in '64, '65 and '71

JaxInL.A. 11:06 AM  

Uncle! I got the rebus right away with TOP UP, but never did tumble to the "read up" requirement. Even with help I could not finish this one.

I Googled for Zeus' growing up place but found only Crete. When I erased all of Texas and re-started I finally saw NAXOS, but many other answers stayed hidden. Still can't find a reference to it as the place where Zeus grew up. Any help?

Ended with cRAE/cLIPS, which worked as well as BRAE/BLIPS for me.

@Rube, sorry if I posted a spoiler yesterday when I noted that two words appeared in both NYT and LAT puzzles.. Never occurred to me that it was a problem, since I didn't say where the recurring entries appeared in the puzzle, and they popped right out at me because they are unusual. Won't do it again.

Two Ponies 11:07 AM  

I'm a rebus fan and this was good tough fun. Slow start but things got rolling with measured up.
I was surprised to see Top up and Top this in the same grid.
I knew the pygmy gimmick but it took awhile to figure out how to spell it out.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:32 AM  

Wonderful puzzle. Loved it.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

A five letter word for the place where Zeus was raised (68A) would be Crete. Naxos is where Theseus abandoned Ariadne who was in turn rescued by Dionysos...And here on the West Coast the cafe waitress asks if she can top off (19A)your coffee.

foodie 12:14 PM  

I tumbled to the rebus and the directionality relatively early on, but still found it challenging, and was relieved to see Rex's rating.

I appreciated the point that Rex made: That UP holds its meaning in the horizontal, but only indicates a flip in directionality for the verticals. Very nice! UPSETS is on the fringe but its very apt given the scrambling of the standard order.

My main complaint is about the central TPUS/SUPT... to have an abbreviation in the very middle of the puzzle is rather unfortunate, given how elegant the puzzle is. Would it have been possible to rework it? CUPS, PUPS, SUPS would all fit, for example. I understand you'd have to rework the whole area, and that it's all very intricately woven. And I don't remotely pretend that I'd know how. I just feel that this is would have made a really terrific puzzle even greater.

I greatly appreciated some of the echos in the puzzle: COME UP SHORT vs. MEARURED UP. And the directional meaning of non-theme fill that added to the gestalt: A CUT ABOVE, TOP THIS. It's all very spatial...

jberg 12:16 PM  

Gah, how embarrassing! I got the rebus with 14A, got the "up" gimmick pretty soon after that, but just could not stop thinking that "Beat" at 60D meant "tired," and didn't think of pygmys as a litteral. So DNF, with a blank scare in the lower left corner.

Also didn't understand that 27D was PRE-NUP - I figured that you had to PREN UP for your labor union before they'd let you work, even though I couldnt imagine what that might be.

Having the director of a bunch of UP films was a nice touch, even though only @ACME seems to have known that about him. What you learn from crosswords!

Oh yes, NAXOS, where Ariadne got abandoned. Since she was from Crete, that must mean they're near each other. Don't know about Zeus, though.

@Smitty, I'm not sure of this, but seem to recall that the name of the raft in Kon-Tiki was Kon-Tiki. Rai was a later raft used by Heyerdahl to test another theory of some sort.

lit.doc 12:29 PM  

"How Rubik's Cube is best solved"

WITH A CLAW HAMMER (15 letters! Woulda made a nice central cross)

@Z and @chefwen, whoa. I stopped at Urban Dictionary's first stoner definition. Reading on, I certainly wouldn't want *that* for breakfast!

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

So, who was the first guy who thought it necessary to come up with words for letters?

How do I explain to someone what a 'Y' is. I know, I'll spell it WYE, that will be a big help. See, that captures the essence of 'Y', but you don't need to know what a 'Y' is. Oops, wait, I spelled 'Y' was WYE using a 'Y'. Gotta be something wrong there. Let me try ESS.

Captcha: BRING. Which brings up the correcting your child's grammar issue, BRING vs take was a big one in my childhood. All this to make the point that noteably absent in the how you should teach your child was the complete absense, amoung all us word lovers, of anyone piping up and saying their parents' relentless correcting their grammar when they were children made them love grammar. Gotta make you wonder.

efrex 12:56 PM  

Ugh. What a slog... made the same mistake on PAUPER as Rex, but finally worked through that one. An unforgiveable amount of crud/ obscure names for my tastes. ALERO/OTERO cross was a complete guess, never heard of a RAREE show or Michael APTED, and four foreign words (ECOLE, IDEE, ESTO, BRAE) got my hackles raised UP too far to appreciate the theme.

Masked and Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Fun upz. Fun trumps everything else. Even a backwards theme abbreviation (TPUS). This one upt pu a heckuva fight, tho.

Frenchy Word of the day: Elementaire (37-A). I know this was just part of the clue, but dang. For the likes of me, the clue can just go ahead and say, "Abandon hope, all M&A's who try to enteer here."

Silver Bullets:

- TOR. Fave short fill in the puz, because of the clue's shout out to the legendary "Plan 9" flick. Directed by Ed Wood. Bela Lugosi died during filming, so Ed subbed his dentist in the rest of Bela's scenes. Jaw-droppingly bizarre pic. Thumbs way up.

- SSSS. Always an M&A-pleaser. First of all, it's a gimme, which was sorely needed. Second, I could just hear old 31 scribblin' furiously in the margins, as I filled 'er in. Har.

- NAX?S/OTER?. This was trouble brewing, but escaped with a correct guess on NAXOS. Figured just about all them Greek island names end with an -OS.

- SEED. Wanted TEEUP. Seemed OK, since didn't have any idea who Michael UPETPA (56-DOWN/UP) was, anyhoo.

Bravo, Mr. Arbesfeld. One of your best.

andrea up michaels 1:17 PM  

@jberg, @Tobias
I made the connection of APTED to 28UP (I anxiously await 56UP which should be out soon) but didn't make the 28UP connection to the UP rebus till your posts!!!!!!!!

Do you think that's why he was clued as the Bond director rather than the UP series which is what he is best known for????!!!!

If Alan A has intentionally included APTED my respect for this puzzle has just quadrupled!

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Terrible puzzle; challenge is the premise, but some of these answers are a pretty thin.

Rex, thanks for the help.

Alan, I won't bother with another one of your puzzles again.

Masked and Anonymous II 1:30 PM  

P.S. Almost forgot to suggest that the default clue for SSSS should always be:
"Sound made by a cornered crossword constructor"

Rube 1:34 PM  

Great puzzle! After much struggling, got the theme, like others, at COMES[UP]SHORT/S[UP]OS. Then it was fairly smooth sailing from there.

Did not like the lack of symmetry of the [UP]s, though. There should have been one where BLIPS is to match PREN[UP]. [UP]SETS is nearby, but would have looked better on the edge of the puzzle.

Had to Google for APTED as I had TryTHIS and could not let it go. Got the other pop culture answers from the crosses. I've seen RAREE in about a dozen xwords in the past couple of years -- it's becoming a gimme like OCALA, as pointed out by @R_C. Have no problem with SSSS, but did not like OOH. Ariadne auf NAXOS is a R. Strauss opera and a gimme given the X in the middle, even though I had no idea where Zeus was raised. I've since learned he was born on Crete.

@JaxinLA. No problem.

jburgs 1:59 PM  

Re: 29D Answer is Ra 1.
"In 1969 and 1970, Heyerdahl built two boats from papyrus and attempted to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Morocco in Africa. Based on drawings and models from ancient Egypt, the first boat, named Ra, was constructed by boat builders from Lake Chad using papyrus reed obtained from Lake Tana in Ethiopia and launched into the Atlantic Ocean from the coast of Morocco. After a number of weeks, Ra took on water after its crew made modifications to the vessel that caused it to sag and break apart. The ship was abandoned and the following year, another similar vessel, Ra II, was built of totora by boatmen from Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and likewise set sail across the Atlantic from Morocco, this time with great success. The boat reached Barbados, thus demonstrating that mariners could have dealt with trans-Atlantic voyages by sailing with the Canary Current.[12]"- From Wikipedia

Lewis 2:13 PM  

Will someone please explain to me the OLA answer? Thanks!

Tobias Duncan 2:17 PM  

@ Lewis

John V 2:27 PM  

@Lewis, 63A clue, "Pay back?" (note the question mark), means something that goes at the back (read: end) of the word "pay". Thus pay+ola = payola.

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

I generally enjoy rebuses, so I really wanted to like this puzzle.

However... Dude. WYES? I don't even get it. I mean, ok, I get it - "pygmy" has the letter "y" in it twice. But what does "wye" have to do with the letter "y" other than being a homophone? (Well, not really, because a homophone is a word and the letter "y" isn't a word. But I digress.) Am I missing something?

Then there's the cluing for ALONE. 7D "How Rubik's Cube is best solved". What? I can't make heads or tails of this. There's nothing inherently solitary about Cube solving. There were (are?) all sorts of tournaments and cons.

Throw that together with stuff like LAK, RAREE, APTED and this was a strangely annoying puzzle to me, despite my like of the theme answers and enjoyment of ITS A TRAP, PATINAS, and WHOLE NOTE.

Cheerio 3:14 PM  

Is RAREE in usage? I have never heard the word in my life before. Not that I hang out at places where you might find a "raree show." But it sounds like a word that must have long gone out of style, though does indicate that.

Cheerio 3:23 PM  

I enjoyed the "tomato or vegetable" clue because it set me off to thinking about how a tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable, and I could get nowhere else with it.

hotbetterthancold 3:24 PM  

I don't get the clue for "adore". Can someone one tell me? I bet i'll do a head slap when I hear the explanation.

hotbetterthancold 3:28 PM  

Never mind. I put the emphasis on the wrong word. Thinking similar to a great deal....

sanfranman59 3:30 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 24:48, 19:10, 1.29, 89%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 15:55, 9:19, 1.71, 99%, Challenging

Doc John 3:37 PM  

Am I the only one who thinks NAXOS/OTERO is a Natick?

Chip Hilton 3:46 PM  

@Bob Dively, @Cherrio: Consecutive posts that addressed my two quibbles. Is it indeed WYES because there are two Y's in pygmy? Imagine that. And RAREE show? Really?

I was with Rex on windows/SINUSES for awhile; Carew for BOGGS initially; and WEES for WYES to the bitter end. My lone error.

I found this a challenging (there's that word) Thursday puzzle and, for the most part, quite enjoyable.

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

Loved this puzzle...After I gave up trying to make top off work and tried top up, i suddenly saw what was going on and had no real problems after that...I was so excited that I had finished the puzzle with no googling and no errors I ran to show my spouse.... Pretty pathetic.... Now, on to Friday and Saturday...where I'll probably get my comeuppance.

Sydney 3:52 PM  

I didn'tmean to stay anonymous...this is Sydney here

jackj 4:04 PM  

Alan Arbesfeld gives us another gem for his 85th Times offering, a rebus with a twist.

When 3 down read REPUAP, it was immediately clear that Alan had added the "read UP" trick to his rebus puzzle and, except for the superb entry for PRENUP, every other theme entry flowed easily.

Wade Boggs was a deserving Hall of Fame player for his exploits on the field but, when he made a deal to be paid by Tampa Bay to have his Coopersto, despite most of his career being spent with the Red Sox and secondarily with the Yankees, the baseball world questioned his ethics and a rule was instituted that those who run the Hall of Fame would thereafter determine which team would represent the player at Cooperstown.

In Boggs case, Tampa Bay was broomed by the HOF and his plaque shows the "B" of the Boston Red Sox. Presumably, no money changed hands.

Thanks, Alan Arbesfeld; (eligible for the Crossword Hall of Fame, wearing a NY Times hat, no doubt).

jackj 4:09 PM  

Sorry for the repost but, somehow the third paragraph became totally garbled.

"Alan Arbesfeld gives us another gem for his 85th Times offering, a rebus with a twist.

When 3 down read REPUAP, it was immediately clear that Alan had added the "read UP" trick to his rebus puzzle and, except for the superb entry for PRENUP, every other theme entry flowed easily.

Wade Boggs was a deserving Hall of Fame player for his exploits on the field but, when he made a deal to be paid by Tampa Bay to have his Cooperstown plaque read "Devil Rays", despite most of his career being spent with the Red Sox and secondarily with the Yankees, the baseball world questioned his ethics and a rule was instituted that those who run the Hall of Fame would thereafter determine which team would represent the player at Cooperstown.

In Boggs case, Tampa Bay was broomed by the HOF and his plaque shows the "B" of the Boston Red Sox. Presumably, no money changed hands.

Thanks, Alan Arbesfeld; (eligible for the Crossword Hall of Fame, wearing a NY Times hat, no doubt)."

JenCT 4:15 PM  

@David L - agreed, ASPs don't crawl, therefore I took it out, thinking it must be wrong!

Just couldn't get into the puzzle today - DNF for me.

Good thing I'm only going to Lollapuzzoola for the fun of it...

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

I liked this one, except WYES. What the heck is that to do with pgymy couples?? Share Rex's mild irritation with SILAS; I ain't gonna read that book.

I skip M-W 4:23 PM  

Got to this late. As a non-rebus lover, I found this cute, especially with the Apted clue, as explained by @Tobias Duncan and @jberg. If Apted lives to do 56 up, that will be perfect. had no idea he did a Bond film, but how else could he have been clued?
Old Olds is a bit redundant, isn't it, unless it was intended to confuse.
Lak was essential for me, as it led me to correct 10 commandments verb.
@Rex, thanks for the Scarlatti, but it made me realize I prefer the harpsichord versions, which I have aplenty on my old LP's. One day I have to get a new turntable.

Wendy 4:26 PM  

Dear Anon. after @lit.doc Thank you, thank you, thank you. I got the grid filled out but did NOT get that joke. Crap, that one was hard, or I am sort of dumb. I appreciate the explanation.

mac 4:31 PM  

Fabulous minefield!
Last AHA was pre-nup, not knowing Tor, and love the fact that Apted did the Up documentaries! Brilliant.

Only negative for me was supt.

Tyler 5:12 PM  

I think the more accurate theme title is "7 Up"

Chip Hilton 5:13 PM  

@I skip M-W: Wow, I would've missed the Scarlatti video if not for your comment. Thank you (and Rex for posting it)so much. At the opposite end of the tempo spectrum, check out Scarlatti's Sonata in B Minor, K87. Wonderfully emotional piece. Ivo Pogorelich's version works for me (piano - my preference).

acme 5:26 PM  

The more that I think about it, the more it seems intentional that Alan put APTED in there as the last word on that side...bec 7UP is the first in the UP Series.

Maybe the clue was "The director of this seminal British series...blah blah blah...and a hint to the theme of this puzzle."
And Will, or someone, decided that it wouldn't be well enough known and the UPs could stand on their own...
Bec even tho the first film released in the US was 28UP (a compilation of the 7UP, 14UP, 21Up and 28UP that had appeared on the BBC every seven years) really 7UP was the first.
I don't know if Alan reads this blog, or the comments, or the comments this late in the day, but if he does, and you are out there, might you chime in on this?

Rube 5:50 PM  

Re WYE: Without going into too much boring detail, Wye is one of two configurations used for 3 phase electrical generation and usage, (the other is delta). It is called that because it is configured like a "Y" with equal legs.

fergus 6:12 PM  

As mac said a minefield, sorta like playing rebus battleships, and as acme noticed the UP part of the APTED reference.

(I'm an exact contemporary and sufficiently British to know and fear a multiple of 7.)

The LAK I still seek, but no doubt it's kosher.

abccba 6:29 PM  


Rebus symmetry (or lack of it) is a function of difficulty. Late week I wouldn't expect it (or consider it a fault).

I assume those having a *problem* with RAREE are newbies that missed the last 14 occurrences (4 in the recent past).

Finally, the anons that complain, and can't bother learning words they don't use daily should, perhaps, consider KenKen (all the answers are, after all, in common use).


acme 7:01 PM  

ok, got my answer...lurking brilliance was but an unconscious coincidence. AA's original clue for APTED was "Director of Gorilla inthe Mist". Will changed it to something more contemporary. It had zero to do with 7UP.

joho 7:07 PM  

@Sydney ... congratulations!

@I skip M-W said ... old Olds isn't redundant ... it just means that the ALERO is no more i.e. extinct.

bcbnyc 7:29 PM  

Hard puzzle! In what way is "barb" the answer for "dig"?

Bob Kerfuffle 7:44 PM  

@bcbnyc - Both Barb and Dig can be defined as "a cutting remark."

Michael Massmann 7:58 PM  

Somebody please explain "wyes"?

Anonymous 8:10 PM  

@JaxinLA: to find NAXOS google "Greek island where Zeus raised". That's how I found it as I sure wouldn't have gotten it wit out a google.
Discovered the UP rebus early on, but was a bit longer before I realized the verticals had to be read up. Thought maybe the UP was moved "up" a position as knew S-UP-O-P-S had to be SOUPS. Doh!
Did not like WYES / WHUP but probably cuz it was my Waterloo. I always thought one opened up a can of WHOOP a##...
Overall I loved this puzzle. It was challenging, clever and FUN!
Detour 9:58 PM  

@Michael Massmann -

noun, plural wyes.
the letter Y, or something having a similar shape.
Electricity . a three-phase, Y -shaped circuit arrangement.
Railroads . a track arrangement with three switches and three legs for reversing the direction of a train.

and there are two letters "y" in pygmy.

syndy 10:14 PM  

Not hearing the love for SUPT! When I read the clue Immediately I knew the answer should be SUPT but it would not fit!I changed the answer for 34 across several times but could not get past the problem that 36 had to be SUPT! which worked on my subconscious to tell me something was UP! Gotta love the SUPT!

Stan 10:32 PM  

Best clue for TOR ever!

Not to champion The New Criticism (very old criticism now), but the puzzle constructor's conscious intention, or the editor's, just doesn't matter. There are seven UP answers in the puzzle that read upwards. Michael APTED, who famously directed "7 Up," also appears. So the connection is there in the puzzle. Kudos to those who noticed it -- went right by me.

nebraska doug 10:44 PM  

Tor Johnson was a wrestler and "actor" in many Ed Wood movies, I highly recommend seeing the movie,"Ed Wood" with Johnny Depp as Ed Wood. Martin Landau won best supporting actor for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi. Easily the best movie by the vastly overrated Tim Burton.

william e emba 12:00 AM  

I found the puzzle thoroughly challenging. I got the UP early on from MEASURED-, but took forever to give up on the idea there was a unique rebus, and I had confidently filled in SO{UP}S and WH{UP} heading down, stalling all development in those parts of the puzzle.

On the other hand, I believe I am the only one here who found TOR Johnson a gimme. I've seen "Plan 9 From Outer Space" several times. The film is as bad as everyone says, trying and failing at pretty much every level. I actually recommend it.

Sorry, OTERO County is not a Natick. It's appeared in the puzzle way too many times. I got it immediately off the initial O. As Rex described it once upon a time--and which made sure I'd never forget it again--it's become the West's Ocala.

However, I had difficulty with ASHCAN, perhaps uniquely on this board. I believe using it for "trash receptacle" is obsolete. The only sense of the word I am familiar with is in comic books. Ultra cheapo comic book editions--extremely limited, unfinished artwork, missing dialog, on paper suitable for immediate trashing, and so on--are called "ashcan"s. They were very common back in the 30s and 40s as the industry was ratcheting itself up, and everyone wanted to claim copyrights and trademarks on all the good names as fast as possible.

sanfranman59 1:14 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 6:44, 6:51, 0.98, 48%, Medium
Tue 8:36, 8:55, 0.96, 44%, Medium
Wed 13:32, 11:53, 1.14, 83%, Challenging
Thu 25:13, 19:10, 1.32, 93%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:40, 3:40, 1.00, 51%, Medium
Tue 4:12, 4:35, 0.92, 24%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:18, 5:52, 1.07, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 14:52, 9:19, 1.60, 98%, Challenging

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Was the Ra ever called the Ra I? Just because there is a Ra II doesn't make the first one Ra I- does it?

JenCT 11:40 AM  

@Anon 11:13 - I think it wasn't referred to as the RA I UNTIL there was an RA II, and then it's been used to distinguish between the two.

Nancy 2:26 PM  

Loved this puzzle! I wish there were a trick puzzle every day. Or that every day were Thursday.

rain forest 2:08 PM  

Excellent puzzle, and lots of fun, especially when you are trying to parse the upside-down words and reading them with the up backwards.
Supt was just fine. An overseer of schools is the superintendent, so who else would it be?
A most enjoyable solve (and no mistakes!)

Deb 2:56 PM  

I caught on to the rebus when PAUPER, GO UP IN SMOKE, and MEASURED UP fit (having written PAUPER reading down, which worked at that point), and thought to myself that it was too bad the constructor hadn't made the UP rebus read UP. Ha.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

Solve went pretty much the same way Rex's did.

Liked: The UP directional gimmick.

Disliked: the corner additions to the gimmick, which felt forced. I don't "top up," I top off. SW was even worse; I'm not thrilled with WHUP as a theme word especially when it mandates WYES. And can we just have one UP-themed puzzle that doesn't include the word UPDO(S)?

Overall, though, a fine puzzle. Would liked to have seen "CHRISTMAS ___" as a clue for 61d to keep with the theme Andrea noticed yesterday (or rather, 36 days ago). Alas, no such references in this puzzle unless I missed something.

@jackj - Boggs' ethics were called into question long before the Tampa Bay/cap issue.

Dirigonzo 7:35 PM  

I was thoroughly prepared to hate this puzzle until I finished it, at which time I decided I loved it. It took my literal-thinking mind way too long to see the vertical reversal implicit in the rebus so when it finally appeared the resulting "aha" moment left me wanting a cigarette.

Finished with one error - SHAnT instead of SHALT, I guess because I view the Ten Commandments as more prohibitive than permissive.

Anonymous 4:20 AM  

DNF--and it wasn't my fault. I have no idea where the name NAXOS came from; in my book Zeus was raised on Crete, and so that seemed the end of that. After I couldn't make any sense of the south, I had to give up. But there was also the NE. TOPUP?? No one says that. It's "top off."
This whole puzzle was just full of awful stuff. You have a five-letter AL multi-champ--and it's NOT Carew? Ridiculous. WYES? No hope. RUNAT for quickly approach? Run to, maybe--but run AT? Who would "run at" anything? And RA (Roman numeral)I? You canNOT, in the words of McEnroe, be SERious!
This is a constructor who wants his solvers to COMEUPSHORT. He wants them to fail. Well, congratulations, my friend, you pulled it off. Tell you what. I'll set your own puzzle in front of you in ten years--and you yourself won't get it!
"UP" yours!

Mighty Nisden 10:51 AM  

Took all day to come close to finishing. Loved this puzzle but could not figure out WYES until I got here.

Had Owe for 63d and could not figure out 65a because of it.

@Rex - It would be great if you could post back in syndi land when there is a limited time offer or anything that is time sensitive. I know that may be a little bit of work but the Lollapuzzoola 'Solve at home' would have been fun.

Eastsacgirl 4:23 PM  

Wow - was glad to see the puzzle rated as challenging because even though I got the UP theme quickly took a while to wrap my brain around the "down" answers. Only had a few letters couldn't fill in. Otherwise a pretty fun puzzle.

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