Remote-sensing orbiter / THU 9-20-12 / Crasher of 1979 / Laughable Lyrics writer / New Jersey setting Coneheads / Ottoman Empire founder / Whence phrase Put not your trust in princes / Radial choices / Seasoning from laurel tree / 1963 Johnny Cash hit

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Constructor: John R. Conrad

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: FIRE rebus — six FIRE squares, one in each corner and two more closer to the center

Word of the Day: LANDSAT (17A: Remote-sensing orbiter) —
Any of various satellites operated by U.S. government organizations, used to gather data for constructing images of the Earth's surface.

Read more:
• • •

I've been dickering around w/ my iPhone and new apps that are being wonky and now I look and it's like 5 minutes til my scheduled bed time (I have to have a regular bed time or I go all wobbly, particularly in the a.m.). So, not gonna spend much time on this one, which is just as well. This puzzle is the very definition of "adequate" or "acceptable." It is a rebus. The rebus squares are where you might expect them to be. Once you get one, you can get most of the rest right away. The fill varies from fine to awkward then over to dated and eventually around to I don't care much. Anyone who goes to Edward for LEAR (6D: "Laughable Lyrics" writer) and whatever that song (song?) is cluing AMY (19A: "Once in Love With ___") clearly comes from a cultural world I don't really live in much, if at all. They can't all be in my wheelhouse, sadly. I kept waiting for the boom or pow or bang, and instead it was just the hum and occasionally clang of basic machinery, doing what it does, chugging away, giving me this very serviceable, workmanlike rebus puzzle. If there'd been another layer to the FIRE motif, maybe I'd be able to work up more enthusiasm here.

  • RING OF FIRE (65A: 1963 Johnny Cash hit)
  • FIRESTONES (64A: Radial choices) — read this as [Radical choices]; trouble followed
The theme density makes great fill a near impossibility, so maybe I should be happy with what I've got, which is not a total disaster. Still, I look at the NW corner and see ALIENEE (one of my least favorite 7-letter crosswords) (15A: Property recipient, at law) over whatever it is that LANDSAT is (OK, I know what it is, sort of, now, but still ... gibberish to me when I solved it), and then RETAR (...) over Random Roman Numeral MDIV (28A: Year Michelangelo's "David" was completed) over awkwardly-spelled and Latin-pluraled AMEBAE (32A: Pond creatures), and my heart does not flutter. Speaking of Latin-pluraled, ET ALIAE is a huuuuge *ouch*, in that no one uses that ever ever ever. Ever. ET ALIA / ALIA, you can make a case for. They are reasonably common shorthand. But the feminine plural? No. Just ... cramp-inducing.

Didn't struggle in very many places—at least not for long. I've got bay leaves in my kitchen cabinet, which, as far as I knew until just now, is where they come from. There, and the store where I bought them, in their little jar—god's gift to soups. Also blanked on OSMAN, as I am wont to do—valid answer, not great fill (52D: Ottoman Empire founder). If I were named OSMAN and I founded an empire, I'd call it, I don't know, the Osmanian Empire, or Osmandu. Or Narnia. Ottoman Empire is what I'd call my empire if my name were Otto. What else—wanted PASSAIC for PARAMUS because ... "Coneheads?" What year is it? If you want me to get PARAMUS, I'm gonna need to see "mall" in the clue (38D: New Jersey setting for "Coneheads"). Wanted nothing for ARIES (49A: Friendly if a bit careless sort, supposedly) because astrology is bullshit and how in the world is this clue valid? Might've had some trouble with SKYLAB except I had -LAB before I ever saw the clue, and so knew the answer before I even looked (41A: Crasher of 1979).

For some reason the clue on PSALMS (38A: Whence the phrase "Put not your trust in princes") has put this song in my head, so I'll leave you with it. (You'll be happy it's not this) Good day!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:24 AM  

This was a lot like yesterday's (deja vu?) for me.  I struggle a bit in the NW, caught the rebus and sailed through the rest.  So, easy-medium.

Really wanted anytIme for 1a, but knew 7d so didn't try it.

Erasure:  wInSOME for LISSOME (had no idea it was spelled that way or maybe I'm thinking of lithesome?)

Center of the grid looks like a target?

Problem area:  SE with ROTI, ETALIAE, POMADES, OSMAN could be tricky.


Random comment remotely related to the puzzle:  Kevin Smith's Chasing AMY is worth a Netflix look and might have been a better clue.  

Nice solid Thurs. rebus.  Liked it even though it was a tad zipless i.e what Rex said.

syndy 12:41 AM  

More in my wheelhouse than Rex-I didn't hate it and would have to rate it easy.AMEBAE was just disturbing though!PARAMUS was a complete wtf luckily IMPETUS was not.Silly goose that I am I thought that NENES were...

GILL I. 1:13 AM  

Yes, after getting one FIRE, I got the others but there was no FIREWORKS for me. I'm sure this was a bear to construct with 6 rebus squares to contend with but it Tweren't SWANK for this AMEBAE. And LANDSAT? Ditto on the gibberish. I'll raise you NENES to your ETALIAE because no one nunca nunca nunca says NENES for youth - at least not in my Spanish hemisphere. It's JOVEN I say! NENES are baby's and I know no one cares but sheesh!
I actually got MDIV for Michelangelo's "David"
Yay me. If you read "The Agony and the Ecstasy" a billion times like I did, you would know when that brilliant man did all of his works.

Anoa Bob 1:26 AM  

Wonder if TINY TIM ever did a cover of LET IT BE. Or even better, RING OF FIRE.

Thought clueing 4D WED "Lent's start,e.g.: Abbr." was uncalled for, especially next to the inelegant INSTR at 5D. Invoking Tyler Hinman's dictum "If you don't like the clue, blame the editor", I'm gonna FIRE my criticism AT WILL.

And with that, I will CEASE FIRE.

Anonymous 1:27 AM  

The black squares form a cross. Crossfire.

GILL I. 1:41 AM  

Ok, so it's babies and I SEE NOW the crossfire. Still not thrilled.

Jeep 2:01 AM  

Astrology is not bullshit, Rex.
You should stick to what you know.

chefwen 3:08 AM  

I'm a rebus junkie and always look for one on a Thursday. You'll have to throw me on the "loved it" wagon. Got it early on with RING OF (FIRE) and sailed happily through. Got a little messed up with remnant at 39D and retread at 64A, not noticing the plural, so that area needed a little sweeping up after I caught onto the FIRE theme.

Thanks John R. Conrad for my rebus fix.

Am I getting better or are the capchas easier to read as of late?

Medieval Guy 3:09 AM  

Right on Jeep. Let's burn the witch at the stake!

Eejit 3:56 AM  

I reckon astrology prolly is bs, but who knows. One time I got in a cab in London with some friends and I said something to one of them, can't remember what. The cabbie looked at me and said, "you're a Libra". Made me wonder.

Medieval Guy 4:30 AM  

@Eejit - Hope you're wondering about helping to gather wood for that stake burning.

Loren Muse Smith 5:56 AM  

How cool is it that it begins with FIRE AT WILL and ends with CEASE FIRE???

“Cayenne” before BAY LEAF, “pricier” before STEEPER, you “done?” “okay?” RANG?

@jae – I was thinking “lithesome,” too.

Loved the clues for SPOUSES and IRS!

I felt that ROTI was too similar to “roast.”

I lived next to PARAMUS and didn’t see it until late.

Really hard Thursday for me, but I finished. Thanks, John and WILL.

And thanks, Rex, for the eyeworm. I'm going to picture you going "all wobbly" all day now!

Deb 7:04 AM  

I'm also a sucker for a rebus, so when I caught on at FIREWORKS, I was sold. I agree ETALIAE was bizarre, LANDSAT obscure, and AMEBAE annoying, but I feel you're being hastily unfair with your gripe about astrology, Rex. The clue is valid because it plainly states "supposedly." And you'd have to have been living under a rock all your life not to have a smattering of awareness of astrology - if only of the signs themselves. (And particularly crossword denizen ARIES, fer gawd's sake.)

For once, I was unannoyed by RETAR, since it's the first word I was able to put in the grid. By the end though, it was relevant as hell. I was listening to AM RADIO as I solved, and Leslie Marshall was talking about the violence that was FOMENTed by the anti-Muslim film. Her question was, that while free speech is an important and sacred concept, don't those of us who enjoy it also have a responsibility to consider the effect of our words. I couldn't help but wonder how this situation differs from yelling FIRE in a crowded theater, and I sat and thought about that from all angles at length and yet still took forever to see the FIRE rebus.

And the finished grid! You've got all this violent FIRE play going on, and there sits the Red Cross (in a b&w movie setting), right smack-dab in the middle of the worst of it, tending to the wounded.

One last thought: Isn't FOMENT a great word? Whenever I see or hear that word, I think of someone attempting to enrage someone so much they FOAM at the mouth. And again relevant to me as I solved, since that's certainly what the anti-Muslim filmmaker accomplished (and I believe, intended).

Milford 7:08 AM  

Always seem to go into Thurdays with out thinking "rebus", so nice aha for me at the RING OF FIRE/CROSSFIRE union. Medium for me.

I thought the grid looked like a flower, but I guess it could be crosshairs or a target. A lot of the rebus answers were explosive in nature, but maybe that is just what will happen when FIRE is the theme.

I liked IMPETUS and ON RYE. Hated AMEBAE. Didn't mind ET ALIAE, at least it made me think. POMADES is kind of an ikky word, and pretty dated.

According to astrology, my beloved husband and I are supposed to hate each others' guts.

Ruth 7:21 AM  

I sniggered at seeing FBOMB in the grid!

Glimmerglass 7:39 AM  

I thought the clue for WED was Thursday-appropriate. It was my first entry. Didn't catch the rebus until BACKFIRE/SPITFIRE, but it was smooth sailing from then on. Somebody who does YouTube should post Ray Bolger singing "Once in love with AMY," from "Where's Charley" (or "Charley's Aunt" -- I get them mixed up). The song is a real treat.

Sue McC 8:22 AM  

Fun, and I liked it, but it felt more Tuesday than Thursday. Ditto the snigger at FBOMB :-)

dk 8:31 AM  

Man-o-man! Finally a rebus that makes sense to me (in other words I got it) and our dear leader pans it.

Boring story note: The same GF (she was (and perhaps still is) LISSOME and a dead ringer for H. SWANK) with whom I went to see Led Zep road with me on the back of my Honda 305 to Woodstock. We were a little wobbly on the ride back. Did you know that Route 17 is sometimes purple with… never mind?

Shout out to Sue S. Remember when you traded in your Corvette for a red pickup. I just traded in my BMW for the same.

I am glad I spent 10 days in France it really helps with the puzzle now if I could just get rid of the 666 birthmark maybe I would get the Biblical references.

I carp with others on some of the fill. And, who uses POMADES. Back in the day a pomade user was known as a gas head. Final odd note RINGOFFIRE allegedly refers to the same thing as Rosebud (Hearst/Davies reference).

🌟🌟 (2 Stars) Solid journeyman puzzle hobbled by a few foreign words. But I do like ham ONRYE. Make sure the mustard is on the meat side or your deli career will be short lived.

Perhaps fried chicken embryos and beer for breakfast (see Coneheads skit).

Doris 8:31 AM  

@Glimmerglass: It's the utterly delightful musical "Where's Charley?" based on the famous Brandon Thomas farce "Charley's Aunt." Music and lyrics by the great and irreplaceable Frank Loesser. Ray Bolger and Allyn Anne MacLerie were the original "Charley" and "Amy." The late Raúl Julia was terrific in one of the revivals. Don't remember who played "Amy."

Ω 8:33 AM  

A Red Cross or a targeting sight? I guess it is in your perspective. Personally, I prefer coming up with silly clues for "moon."

@Deb - Yelling "fire" in a crowded theater - apt analogy.

KTM 8:40 AM  

I loved this. I'm a new solver and enjoy Thursday and Sunday most. (M,T,W easy, Fri and Sat sometimes DNF). I had quite a few answers filled but had problems in the corners, and thought "Thursday is trick puzzle day." Found the four corner rebuses and worked the rest until I was stuck in the middle. More rebuses? Oh yes! I really enjoyed the progression of how the answers revealed.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

Could someone explain how FIRESTONES are "Radial choices"?

joho 8:44 AM  

I'm always fascinated by rebuses so liked this one. 12 theme answers in one puzzle is way better than AVERAGE!

Pretty easy once I got the trick early on. Only glitches were SwEEter before STEEPER and AMEBAs before AMEBAE.


Nice shout out to Orange at 19A!

@Anoa Bob, LOL at TINYTIM trilling RINGOFFIRE!

Thanks, John Conrad, the crossfire in the center was a nice touch!

Sir Hillary 8:46 AM  

I didn't solve today, so will keep my comments brief.

When I saw the solution but had not yet read Rex's write-up, I was hoping the revealer would be a clue about third base, which is known as the "Hot Corner". Lots of those in here.

We had RINGOFFIRE last Friday - nice to see it again.

@jae - Great call on "Chasing Amy". Excellent movie.

Sir Hillary 8:48 AM  

@anonymous 8:44AM - Think automobile tires.

Michael Hanko 8:49 AM  

I am annoyed by puzzle features that lower the difficulty level of my solving experience by more or less filling in squares with no thinking required. This happened yesterday, when the first words of the quote gave away in one fell swoop the rest of this hackneyed expression, and then again today, when I was able to plop FIRE in all those boxes automatically.

Please make me struggle a bit — that's the fun part!

On an unrelated note, has anyone here ever heard the expression "in one's wheelhouse" anywhere but in Rexland? In what circles is this presumably nautical expression prevalent?

jackj 8:58 AM  

John Conrad’s publication dates for his Times puzzles are nothing if not erratic; eleven of them published from 1995 to 2012 with five-year hiatus periods twice in those seventeen years. (Will must have been dishing them out using the same schedule that contraband foie gras is now dispensed in San Francisco restaurants).

Today we get a 12 alarm FIRE rebus puzzle, the first of which for me was LINEOF(FIRE) and then the other rebuses were easily completed by virtue of no serious clue trickery and symmetrical placement of the rebus entries.

The fill had something for everyone:

LETITBE for Beatles fans to TINYTIM for Dickens’ devotees;

PARAMUS to ALAMEDA for a cross-country geography lesson;

SANREMO to TRIESTE for Europhile geography buffs, (or, if you prefer the Uggs version, try BUL to ALG),

there was also some highly questionable cuisine for foodies with BAYLEAF ON RYE

and just good old word play with FOMENTS, SNIPPET and LISSOME.

For my money, this AVERAGE rebus is pumped up by some interesting fill, (not the least of which are the eye-popping AMEBAE and ETALIAE), with a net result giving us a report card comment of, “Satisfactory, plays well with others”.

Thanks, John Conrad; see you here again in 2017?

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

From anonymous 8:44, thanks Sir Hillary. After I posted, I went outside for a smoke and it hit me immediately. Funny how the brain can overlook the obvious. Reminds me of when I was a boy scout and we had to sit around a fire chanting "Owah tahgoo Siam" until we figured out what we were saying.

John V 9:06 AM  

Methinks @Rex took 1A a tad too literally. I thought this was a good rebus puzzle. For a long time, I thought it might not have been, but RINGOFFIRE revealed it. But, maybe because of Will's request of a few weeks back that he's like to see more non-rebus Thursdays, I found myself thinking, "Oh, ANOTHER rebus. Yawn."

@Michael Hanko, "In one's wheelhouse" is definitely in my wheelhouse; in the language, in my experience, not limited to this xword Petri dish.

jberg 9:15 AM  

It's definitely "crossfire" - not only the black squares, but the rebus squares make a partial cross as well - though to be perfect you'd need two more, so FIREBOMB & SPITFIRE would have to be replaced by words starting and ending in fire - probably too much to ask!

What I really admired was the way the constructor first thought of two New Jersey towns of the same length, starting with PA, then thought of a clue for one of them, all for the purpose of making so many of us have the PAssaic writeover. That's real craftmanship!

Full disclosure: John Conrad is the first 2/3 of my name, so I'm biased.

Georgia O'Keeffe 9:17 AM  

I think the grid looks like a vagina.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

Charles Bukowski's "Ham on Rye" is a must read!

Osman I 9:27 AM  

My empire was the Osmanlı empire. It was just some ignorant jerks in western Europe that translated it to Ottoman.

Jes Wondrin' 9:30 AM  

"What I really admired was the way the constructor first thought of two New Jersey towns of the same length, starting with PA, then thought of a clue for one of them, all for the purpose of making so many of us have the PAssaic writeover. That's real craftmanship!"

Your basis for saying that was what, exactly?

mac 9:35 AM  

Easy-medium Thursday for me, I would have enjoyed a little more crunch. I also read "radical" for a bit.

I don't even know what pomade looks like! Landsat was new for me, and I had a malapop, ring of fire, at 8A.

Solid rebus, but not a lot of spark, which I first had at 14D, excuse the pun.

chefbea 9:46 AM  

Had a little trouble but got all of the rebus.

I always use bay leaves when making a roti.

When living in Italy a while back there were several laurel trees near us and I use to pick the leaves.

Loved union members

A Lounge Lizard 9:50 AM  

@Rex - That comment about astrology was out of line - it's a powerful tool. Why, almost every evening, I go to clubs, park myself next to an attractive woman and wait for her to say something, almost anything. I then assert that she must be a Virgo, her statement had the sensitivity and depth of caring only Virgos have. One out of thirteen times she actually is a Virgo, and bam, I'm in like Flint!

What other approach virtually guarantees a 1/13 chance of success?

orangeblossomspecial 10:06 AM  

@ Michael Hanko: 'In one's wheelhouse' is a common baseball expression for a pitch that is in the batter's power zone. It also could refer to a question that can be answered easily due to knowledge or preparation.

Carola 10:11 AM  

It took the comments to make the puzzle catch fire for me - Thanks @Anon 1:27 and @Milford for pointing out the crossfire and the ring-of-fire shape, which I'd completely missed. Nice!

I liked that there were also some fire EATERS, and that ROTI, which I envision on a SPIT over a FIRE.

LOL at Rex's "Otto-man" Empire and @Anoa Bob's musing on TINY TIM and RING OF FIRE.

Tita 10:28 AM  

@Rex - thanks for your "If I had an Empire" bit. Hilarious.

@Anoa Bob - FIREATWILL - you made my day!

@LMS - cool observation re: FIREs

Anyhow, I'm also a rebus junkie. I loved this. Thanks Mr. Conrad, even if some of the criticism is spot-on.

@chefbea - living in Italy - how wonderful! I will be just south of Rome for a month - any foodie tips?

Lindsay 10:41 AM  

re: retar .... The Road Opening Ordinance has become an issue in my town; the process by which utilities can get permits to dig in the streets, and the standards to which the trenches must be filled & patched.

So a couple of weeks ago I was reading state law on the subject, and was confused by repeated references to "relay pavement". I kept picturing guys on steam rollers handing off a baton. Finally, I saw a reference to "relaid pavement" and felt ..... very foolish.

Relay pavement = RETAR.

Liked the puzzle fine. As I noted earlier this week, RING OF FIRE always puts me in a good mood.

Sandy K 10:44 AM  

I liked the idea of the FIRE rebus, but a lot of the answers just seemed somewhat past their DUEDATE and for that reason, didn't Light My FIRE...

Bob Kerfuffle 10:48 AM  

A decent rebus puzzle, IMHO, but terribly easy. I had finished puzzling before I had finished my cereal. Perhaps tougher cluing would have made it more Thursdayish.

I did have a big smile, remembering previous discussions on the blog of "et alia" and "et alii", to see 63 A, "And other women: Lat." for ETALIAE. Now that's really spelling it out; no room for argument!

Call me old-fashioned, or just compulsive, but has no one yet posted a link to "Ring of Fire"?

Two Ponies 10:50 AM  

Like yesterday, I got the theme too early so the fill was just to kill time.
The clue for psalms made me expect something from the Bard.
Pomades reminded me of George Clooney's obsession in Oh Brother Where Art Thou.
@ John V, Love your Petri dish comment. So true!
@ Deb, I say saturate the media with sarcasm and mockery of every deity until it becomes unremarkable and show the world we are not afraid.

Rob C 10:52 AM  

I thought it was a fine puzzle. Friday or Saturday looking grid on a Thurs. was required by the theme denseness. Given those constraints, as Rex eventually and begrudgingly points out - "not a total disaster". I'm kinder than that. I'm willing to live with some of the crosswordese and obscurity to get all 12 of the theme phrases.

Liked TINY TIM and BAYLEAF. I thought the word 'supposedly' made the ARIES clue acceptable. If mythology, fictional literature and other such things are acceptable as the basis for a clue, why not astrology? Nobody ever questions "Greek love child" and similar clues.

hazel 10:53 AM  

@lms - Geat observation - FIREATWILL/CEASEFIRE! Makes the solving experience seem like we were running a gauntlet somehow.

My opinion of this puzzle is certainly influenced by the fact that I hated yesterday's puzzle so much. Got the drill at FIREWORKS. And then there were plenty of toeholds to piece together the other stuff I didn't know.

A reassuring solve - deservedly easy after my frustratrion with yesterday's - which irritated me so much i couldn't bother to finish!! Definitely in my wheelhouse or to use a related baseball expression we hear in ATL - puzz "was right down Peachtree."

Ray Bolger 11:01 AM  

Are you willing to give 7 1/2 minutes to "Once in Love With Amy" and watch until I dance off into the sunset?

Ulrich 11:07 AM  

To me, the most noticeable thing about the grid is that it is pretty--very pretty. And a lot can be forgiven when that's the case...

With Italy and Slovenia both in the European Union (the Euro Zone, actually), i.e., without noticeable borders between them, Trieste finds itself more in the middle of things theses days than it used to be, when it seemed to be located in some dead on the Italian border. Definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in that neck of the woods...

Ulrich 11:10 AM  

..."in some dead end on the Italian border" of course!

Google has managed to make preview unworkable, and I have been paying the price.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

I'm really sorry that @Rex only had 5 minutes for his write-up. I'd like to know more, like, for instance, what he really thinks about astrology. Imagine his dilemma if this puzzle were more than adequate and he would have to spend more than 5 minutes. I'd like to have that clock that allows him to write his commentary in less than 5 minutes and do the puzzle in less than 2.

I like the puzzle because it has Ring of Fire and I love Johnny Cash...down, down, down....


hazel 11:24 AM  

@ulrich - we were in Slovenia a few years ago - though we didn't get to TRIESTE, i echo your recommendation for a visit to "that neck of the woods.". Slovenia was delightful.

dick Swart 11:25 AM  

RE: Once in Love with Amae...

Latin plurals meet Ray Bolger.

Easiest Thur in years!

Mel Ott 11:55 AM  

Wow, @Rex, I hope you got a good night's sleep.

I usually enjoy rebuses (rebi?) and this was a pretty good one.

Not a random Roman numeral. If you know that the Italian Renaissance and Michelangelo flourished in the early 16th century, you can guess that the answer begins with MD__.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Fastest collapse of a rebus for me as 45A had to be either Stuka or Spitfire and since Stuka didn't fit with 46a no brainer of IRS....... but still I had fun with this one.

As the week goes on I never expect every clue and answer to be in my wheel house.

Mr. Benson 12:32 PM  

Wow, I tore through this one in record time for me. I saw the rebus when "FIREALARM" popped into my head at 1D, figured "yep, it's a Thursday" and was off to the races. Barely even slowed down after that. I live right near PARAMUS and had no idea "Coneheads" took place there, but in any event I already had most of the crosses before I saw it.

Interesting that RINGOFFIRE is a theme answer twice in a seven-day period. That's one versatile ring!

John V 12:53 PM  

Poking around xwordinfo, I see that John Conrad had a SATURDAY rebus puzzle, 2/10/96, which was water all around, with a rebus layout almost identical to today's puzzle and a grid that is not terribly dissimilar to today's. When was the last time we saw a Saturday rebus?

Here's the link.

Unknown 1:25 PM  

Just love, love, love a Rebus, any Rebus!

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Unless I'm mistaken, this puzzle was not written in the 21st century.

The most recent entries are IMAC and GOOGLE, which have been around since 1998.

Maybe this has been lying around on WS's desk the days of POMADES, ETAL.

Lewis 1:59 PM  

For "remote-sensing orbiter" I wanted HUSBAND.

quilter1 2:03 PM  

AMY was my first entry as I can sing that song. I really liked this one.

Bob L 2:06 PM  

As a small boy growing up in the south of England in the '40s whose main ambition was to be a fighter pilot in the RAF, 45A SPIT[FIRE] was a gimme, and the obvious trick of [FIRE] in the corners made this a fun puzzle for me. Most unusual for a Thursday...

Thank You John Conrad.

Sparky 3:27 PM  

At first I couldn't see the "trick." After all, it is Thursday. Got it at RINGOFFIRE and off to the races. I like rebuses particularly when you can draw a little picture in the box.

ETALIAE took a while. Sort of amused by the contortions. Shout out for Orange. I'm done.

jackj 4:14 PM  

Two Ponies@10:50AM-

Your reminder of George Clooney's POMADE obsession in "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" had me recalling that the equivalent of the Odyssey's Lotus EATERS in the film were the Christians who were baptized.

sanfranman59 4:18 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 15:24, 18:48, 0.82, 20%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 8:40, 9:20, 0.93, 41%, Medium

Two Ponies 5:11 PM  

@ jackj, Yes, and my favorite was the sirens in the river.

ksquare 5:15 PM  

I've always pictured the wheelhouse as the control room of a ship, but can't imagine what the significance of something being in or out of it is. Please explain.

Bird 6:00 PM  

I liked this one. My 16A moment didn’t come until I got to 44D. I kept
looking for the Rebus or other trick along the way and was frustrated until
that point; with very little fill to show for it. The discovery made the
puzzle much easier. The last to fall was the SE corner. Could not remember
POMADES so that made 52D and 56D difficult to deduce.

AMEBAE and MDIV left a sour taste, but the rest was OK. 47A went from IP-D
to IPAD to IMAC.

I almost put in OTTO- for 52D thinking it would be OTTO I or OTTO V, but
resisted until I got some crosses. Still needed to guess the M though.

@lms – Nice observation about the start and ends!

@Deb – I agree with your assessment that a free speech society has the
responsibility to censor its own words. But – nobody should get injured or
die because of what is said. If you protest, march, boycott or write a
letter I will have a conversation with you. If you get violent, I will
avoid you.

Let’s go GIANTS!

mac 6:03 PM  

@ksquare: I just envisioned them wheeling their arms around. They do a lot of that, it seems.

mac 6:04 PM  

The robot catchers have given up, the captchas are getting easier.

jae 7:51 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 7:53 PM  

@ksquare -- Yes, the wheelhouse is the control room or command center of a ship. If it's in your wheelhouse it's under your command/control. Out of your wheelhouse not so much...

laura R 8:05 PM  

Stop don't understand cluing for 41D: "More dear" and how that translates to "STEEPER." Plz help!

Anonymous 8:06 PM  

@Laura R - Steeper in price, as in one had to "pay more dearly"

Bob Snead 8:16 PM  

I like rebuses, but sorry, this one was boring. Pick an arbitrary word, rebus it, make it symmetrical, and that's supposed to be fun? I need more than that!

Carola 8:28 PM  

@Bob Snead - I had a similar initial reaction, but the comments pointing out the "crossfire" shape in the center and the ring of fire around the perimeter changed my mind.

retired_chemist 10:03 PM  

I think the grid looks like a camel.

Hamlet III.2


God bless you, sir.

My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.

Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?

By th' mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.

Methinks it is like a weasel.

It is backed like a weasel.

Or like a whale.

Very like a whale.

I’ll go see my mother soon. (to himself) They’re trying as hard as they can to mess with me.—I will go soon.

sanfranman59 10:16 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:30, 6:48, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:26, 8:56, 0.94, 40%, Easy-Medium
Wed 14:52, 11:49, 1.26, 95%, Challenging (10th highest median solve time of 166 Wednesdays)
Thu 15:33, 18:48, 0.83, 20%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:41, 1.04, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:47, 4:39, 1.03, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 7:34, 5:56, 1.27, 94%, Challenging
Thu 8:25, 9:20, 0.90, 34%, Easy-Medium

acme 2:29 AM  

Wouldn't it be 1 in 12 times? Or are you allowing for cusp babies and non-believers?

Don't be so put out, it's classic of Sagittarians to dismiss astrology!

Spacecraft 2:03 PM  

This one had me going for a while. Even with TINYTIM and AMY in place, I couldn't get untracked in the NW for the longest time. Eventually figured out that Mike's year had to start with M, and so 1d suggested ALARM--but the extra square brought a frown. Then it hit! The ISEENOW of the rebus turned the puzzle from challenging to easy. AVERAGE? Medium, I guess.

Some horrible fill here: witness the twin 1-point Scrabble entries of ALIENEE and ETALIAE. Man, now I know what to do when I get a rack full of vowels! Add RETAR, the arbitrary Roman number and the awkward abbr. INSTR, and you have a headshaker.

Even so, there are bright spots: FOMENTS and SNIPPET for two. I liked it overall because it made me think, yet the solution was gettable. Wanna do another one John? FIRE away!

Waxy in Montreal 3:08 PM  

Thought the 40D clue (Union members) deserved to end with a ? given the answer. Also not fond of AMUSERS for Comedians, etc. at 54A - I suppose it's technically correct but not a term in general use.

But those are just quibbles. On the whole, really enjoyed this puzzle, especially the rebi. Interesting too that LISSOME is derived from - and is identical in meaning to - LITHESOME. Do we need to FIRE some words from the English language?

Ginger 3:37 PM  

I liked it. Got the rebus at LINEOFFIRE, and sailed on. rot before PAP slowed up the SW, but not for long. RINGOFFIRE could have been clued as the Pacific coastal regions with volcanos and earthquakes. (I live very near Mt StHelens)

ETALIAE was a bit much, but on the whole there was plenty of crunch. Thanks Mr. Conrad

Solving in Seattle 6:51 PM  

I had my sights set on a Thursday rebus and wasn't disappointed, although it was kind of easy. The FIRE answers were fun and TSO symmetrical. Once you caught on you knew where to look for them, especially at the corners. @Diri's neck of the woods took me the loongest. Had to Roget willowy to get LISSOME.

Good job John Conrad

Mr. Fitz 9:24 PM  

Isn't the Osman empire Utah? :)

Anonyrat 5:55 AM  

@ Bob K - Ring of Fire in the puzzle twice in a week, and still no links to the WOV version?
And, no one has yet posted a link to Amoeba?!

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

Mostly easy except for the SE corner. Had ORO for ORE, and with OSMAN and ROTI crossing ET ALIAE, it just wasn't worth working that hard. The World Series was much more interesting so DNF.

Dirigonzo 10:15 PM  

Didn't get the Thursday paper until this afternoon, so weekend puzzle partner and I tackled this one before we moved on to the Friday puz. WPP spotted the __WORKS in the NE early on and said, "That should be FIREWORKS, but it doesn't fit". I explained what a rebus is and we romped through the grid with not much resistance anywhere. Given the weather forecast for next week it would have been appropriate if there had been a (fire)STORM somewhere on the Atlantic seaboard.

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