Pearl Mosque city / WED 12-26-12 / Rose-red dye / Cooper's handiwork / Boomers babies / Folkie who chronicled Alice / Egocentric person's mantra / Often-dry stream / Qin dynasty follower

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Constructor: Dan Schoenholz

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "ME ME ME ME ME" (35A: Egocentric person's mantra)— rebus puzzle w/ 13 different "ME" squares

Theme answers:
  • 4D: Chile relleno, e.g. (MEXICAN MEAL)
  • 18A: Best Director of 1997 (JAMES CAMERON)
  • 56A: Statistic from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (MEDIAN INCOME)
  • 33D: ABAB, for one (RHYME SCHEME)

Word of the Day: MARE (29A: Dark area on the moon) —
The lunar maria pron.: /ˈmɑriə/ (singular: mare /ˈmɑr/)[1] are large, dark, basalticplains on Earth's Moon, formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. They were dubbedmariaLatin for "seas", by early astronomers who mistook them for actual seas. They are less reflective than the "highlands" as a result of their iron-rich compositions, and hence appear dark to the naked eye. The maria cover about 16 percent of the lunar surface, mostly on the near-side visible from Earth. The few maria on the far-side are much smaller, residing mostly in very large craters. The traditional nomenclature for the Moon also includes one oceanus (ocean), as well as features with the names lacus (lake), palus (marsh) and sinus (bay). The latter three are smaller than maria, but have the same nature and characteristics. (wikipedia)
• • •

The "-Challenging" part of the difficulty rating comes almost entirely from being blind-sided by a rebus on a Wednesday (nine times out of ten, roughly, these types of puzzles appear on Thursdays). Once you suss out the rebus, the puzzle isn't that hard at all. As you might imagine, rebusing "ME" is not very hard. Gajillions of words have that little letter string in them. So this puzzle ups the construction difficulty level (as well as the stylishness) of the grid by managing to get all the "ME" squares into the puzzle's central answer and the four long answers (one in each corner of the grid). So the "ME"s aren't simply scattered around the grid—they're quite neatly contained; five in the central answer, and then two in each of the long answers. They aren't symmetrical, but thank god for that. I like that there is some rhyme / reason to the "ME" placement, but exact symmetry would a. likely be impossible, and b. would make the puzzle too easy to solve. The real trick in making a puzzle like this isn't getting the "ME" squares into the grid so much as making sure you don't have *any* "ME" strings that have *not* been rebused. All "ME" strings are rebused. No strays. "ME" is such a common sequence that you'd have to be quite vigilant to ensure that none appeared in your grid in a non-rebus context. Anyway, I thought it was a decent rebus puzzle, and that the constructor did a reasonably good job of making a potentially weak theme concept rather interesting.

I picked up the rebus at Anouk AIE. Had a hard time picking up MEXICAN MEAL, perhaps because this is a supremely weak phrase. It's a "green paint" answer—i.e. it's a phrase one might say, sure, but it is far too arbitrary an adj./noun pairing to qualify for crossworthiness. MEXICAN STANDOFF is a thing, MEXICAN MEAL is not. MEXICAN FOOD, yes. MEXICAN MEAL, no. MEXICAN JUMPING BEANS ... you get the picture. Anyway, it's an answer that was perhaps necessitated by the theme constraints, and it's gettable, so let's move on. I wanted BIOTA were BIOMES ended up, and I wouldn't know either of these words were it not for crosswords. See also the unlovable, use-only-when-desperate EOSIN (41D: Rose-red dye). Otherwise, the grid was pretty light on tired fill. After I picked up the theme, I had no real trouble anywhere except near the end when I put in the reasonable EENY at 65A: Choosing-up-sides word and then noticed that it had to be MEENY ... but didn't bother to actually go to that square and change it. So I didn't get a Happy Pencil when I was done. This is what happens when your brain makes changes to your grid but your fingers don't.

Thanks to Jenny and Liz and Milo for filling in for me the past couple of days. Very nice to relax with family and go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Sadly, I did not get the one thing I wanted for Christmas, which is for the NYT to release the puzzle at 9pm instead of 10pm Eastern time. Yes, that is likely the saddest thing anyone has ever requested from Santa, but that hour, man ... you have no idea.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:04 AM  

    The rare Wed. rebus.  Liked it a lot.  Smooth, sorta symmetrical, clever and just about right for a Wed.  Easy-medium for me once I caught the rebus.

    Pretty multicultural...French  opera/actress/suite,  Japanese cartoons, Mexican food, Chinese dynasty, English school, North African transportation, Sub-Saharan antelope, Indian tourist attraction,  Canadian province, Korean-American golf pro...

    And, a plug for the upcoming season of "Cougar Town" now on TBS.

    What's not to like?

    Anonymous 12:19 AM  

    Somehow caught the gimmick almost right off and then pretty much smashed it apart; 14:07 is a strong showing for me.

    Threw a dart on the EOSIN / SES cross which I was pretty sure was right, but that square may claim some victims.

    ROTI sucks, but blends into the crosses pretty well.

    It's good. Liked it a lot. People that have to work harder at a Wednesday will probably have the most appreciation for it.

    syndy 12:22 AM  

    I kept trying to spell Ms Anouks name and wondering what else besides a CAMEL was a caravan transport but the penny still didn't drop!Not until RHYMESCHEME! DOH!So many problems solved.This might have been too easy if I had caught on faster but I'm citing tryptophan!thumbs up,

    Anime Carmen Mimeos 1:35 AM  

    Who loved this puzzle? MEMEMEMEMEME
    for every reason @Rex said, in particular that all the long answers had TWO rebuseseseses in them!

    Even agree on the minor nit that MExican MEal = Green paint. Maybe the chile relleno was served with stale coffee!

    Also caught on at AIMEE but with ANIME thought that the puzzle was going to be ME with an went looking for RESUME. Wasn't till I realized that MExican had no accent that it all becaME clear to ME.

    Nice, Nice nice.
    I particularly liked JAMESCAMERON...
    Esp bec I kept reading 5D Sweet talk as Sweet talker and kept trying to cram in CAsanOva...making the director SAM someone. Raimi?
    So nice AHA moment pour moi.

    Great going, Dan! Esp for surprising us all on a Wed with a rebus (tho I suppose that credit belongs to Will.)

    Ellen S 2:33 AM  

    Ooh, I like @Jae's reference to "the rare Wed. rebus" ... is that like an ELAND as opposed to a GNU?

    I've heard of EOSIN (not in a good way) so that was easy, same like @Syndy I knew I knew how to spell Anouk AIMeE's name, and CAMeL for the caravan transport, but figured something was up when 18A spelled JAMS instead of JAMES. At that point I didn't know who the director was but nobody is named JAMS (JAMeSCAMeRON is one of my least favorites, a pretentious poop in my opinion. He should direct Nicholas Sparks moviefications; then I can avoid everyone I don't like all at once. Sigh. Maybe he had humble beginnings and I'm the one being a pretentious poop.)

    But I'm feeling humble, HONEST I am, because I want to humbly ask, how do you commenters know all about the constructors (like Victor Fleming being a judge). Is it from going to crossword puzzle events or running into them at the beach? has all kindsa stats, but no personal profiles on constructors that I can see. Hizzoner has a Wikipedia entry, but if I hadn't known I was looking for a judge, I wouldn't have known which Victor Fleming I was looking for--it could have been the director of The Wizard of Oz writing puzzles from beyond the grave. Should I be taking notes? At this point in my development as a solver, I can recognize Acme and Rex's names and that's about all.

    Anyway, today's (tomorrow's) puzzle ispired me to research how the heck to do rebuses in Acrosslite, and I found out that the upgrade version supports multiple letters, so I sprung for it so now rebuses are not so scary. Good thing I'm retired. Too bad I have so many volunteer responsibilities. They get in the way of my amusements.

    jae 3:59 AM  

    @Ellen S -- Pretty much by following this blog and Amy's for the last 6+ years. jackj's post's are also very informative.... so... osmosis.

    Gareth Bain 4:14 AM  

    I'm probably in a very small minority here, but I use eosin every day looking for babesia/erlichia on blood smears... That stuff doesn't come off if you get it on your hands!

    acme 4:35 AM  

    Judge Vic was in Wordplay doing his charming song.
    "Crossword corner" (which I don't even think Rex provides a link to) does interviews with LA Times constructors (you can google Judge Vic and CC and see a long interview with him)
    and often Deb Amlen at "Wordplay" does an interview and asks what prompted the's a nice feature.
    Knowing something about the constructor adds a whole
    'nother layer to the enjoyment.
    For example, Gareth Bain is a veternarian (see above commenter) you can see how it informs his work.
    Plus many constructors like to include private jokes/shoutouts, so the more you know, the richer the experience, like with any writer. Over the years, folks have chimed in here too when the waters seem safe.

    OTD 7:03 AM  

    Like Rex I got the rebus with Aimee and after that the puzzle was easy. Nice one. Enjoyed it.

    Anonymous 7:28 AM  

    I liked this puzzle fine, and it was well-constructed and all that, but...

    It seems (and maybe I'm wrong) that this is just another example of "rebus for the sake of rebus." No revealer, no nothin'.

    Again, I don't mind it...I just don't fully *get* it. If I inexplicably rebus a random word and sprinkle it throughout a puzzle, does that really constitute a theme?

    And then, to top it all off, MEXICAN MEAL?

    Sorry to be a Negative Nancy. Feel free to emphatically disagree.

    Anonymous 7:45 AM  

    Caught the rebus early and loved MEMEMEMEME, but it took me a long time to finish the puzzle for a Wednesday.

    The northwest was the hardest because I so dearly wanted THANK YOU for 20A, Speech Opener (and still don't see Tout's Hangout as RAILS). Filling in Xers confidently for Boomers' Babys made this corner a mess.

    Bernie 8:26 AM  

    As part of my job, I work all the time with government data. If you want MEDIAN INCOME, you go to the Census. The BLS has total income and average income, but not MEDIAN INCOME. How does one write a letter to the Times about the puzzle?

    Anonymous 8:29 AM  

    YES!!!!! I want the NYT to release it at 9:00 too!

    Let's start a letter-writing campaign.

    Zwhatever 8:40 AM  

    GLOVE opened up CA(ME)L to me and the game was on. Everything but the west coast played easy for me. At one point I had everything but the westernmost 5x15 area done. Nothing clicked to BIO(ME)S and SERA, which finally showed me how that X in GEN-X was going to work. My "soul" write-over was r.i.p. to IOU, which is suppose is a little less depressing for Boxing Day.

    I do have a question - SES clued as his. It seemed off to me. Shouldn't it be SIEN?

    No one has mentioned the little bonus homophone, EMMYS.

    @Ellen S - What @jae said - osmosis from reading the comments.

    Zwhatever 8:47 AM  

    Oh Look - A chart from BLS of MEDIAN INCOME

    Milford 8:49 AM  

    Also surprised by the rebus, didn't think of it as a possibility until the SCHEME in the SE, but then it was a fun rebus hunt!

    First had ME all ME in the center, thinking it was also a two ME entry, but was delighted to find it was the much more childish, whiney sing-song of MEMEMEMEME!

    Pretty funny to have JAMES CAMERON be a ME ME answer, since he is so friggin full of himself.

    @Gareth, never used EOSIN dye much in labs, but my med tech mom did, and so I do know that eosinophils are white blood cells, named after the dye, yes?


    Thanks, Dan!

    jackj 9:04 AM  

    It’s only his third ti(me) out as a Ti(me)s constructor (two Wednesdays, one Sunday) but Dan Schoenholz gives us a clever, bouncy, quality piece of work with which to contend.

    The the(me) was revealed early on in the first clue for ANI(ME) but early discovery didn’t in any way diminish the fun, especially since the (me)ga rebus reveal in the middle that gave us MEMEMEMEME was a certain smile inducer, (not to (me)ntion the subliminal hint through EMMYS at the bottom).

    The best of the rebus answers was unquestionably RHY(ME)SCHE(ME) a first ti(me) usage in a Ti(me)s puzzle and one that had (me) writing exclamation marks in the margin!

    The non-the(me) entries were intelligent and lively, especially CAJOLE, SLOVEN, TWINGE, ANECDOTE and IRRITATE and the only quibble from (me) co(me)s with the use of EOSIN crossing with SES that required a good guess to avoid being Naticked.

    (EOSIN s(me)lls very much like a Maleska contrivance and sure enough it was used 22 ti(me)s in puzzles he edited during the 6 years 1987 to 1993, while in the 18 years of Will Shortz it has only sneaked in 11 ti(me)s).

    But, nothing to MOPE about today, this is a 450 foot HO(ME)RUN blast from Dan Schoenholz.

    jberg 9:19 AM  

    For some reason (that old 'add an e for French rule @ED mentioned yesterday) I wanted 5A to be CLAIRe, and when I saw AIME, I figured the theme was "drop an E at the end" - which in turn made me think that 12D was a terrible insult to the people of Slovenia. I also spend a lot of time trying to remember Sam Peckinpah's last name, once I had the _AM at 18A. I didn't see the theme until the RON at the end of CAMERON came into view -- after that it was a snap.

    Two writeovers: treasury before INTERIOR, and MEXICAN MEAt before MEAL (yes, yes, I know chiles aren't meat, but that's the relleno part, right?)

    Happy Boxing Day, everyone!

    Oh yeah, those touts hang out leaning on the RAILS at the side of the track, watching the horses work out to see if they notice anything that would improve their ODDS.

    Anonymous 9:20 AM  

    : one who touts: as a : one who solicits patronage b chiefly British : one who spies out racing information for betting purposes c : one who gives tips or solicits bets on a racehorse. So a TOUT Would be hanging on the RAILS Watching the horses, hoping to pick up some useful racing information.

    @Z: SES is the Possessive plural of son =his.

    I enjoyed this, as I tend to enjoy all rebuses (rebi? I like @Acme's rebuseseses :) And how appropriate to have a MEMEMEMEME theme the day after Christmas!

    Bernie 9:23 AM  

    In response to the link about BLS median income- that is data pertaining to median earnings, which does not include income from other sources, such as investments. The BLS is mainly concerned with labor, and thus earnings, but not all income. Only the Census has that.

    Anonymous 9:24 AM  

    This is FearlessKim at 9:20, BTW. Can't get the program to accept Name/URL. I've been lurking for some time, being too strapped for time to post, but have been enjoying all of your comments, as always. Wishing everyone a very happy new year!

    John V 9:29 AM  

    @Anonymous 9:24 Name/URL seems to be a Google glitch this morning. Been crashing our iPad.

    BIOME/MEAL cross was last to fall. Go the the rebus at HOMERUN. Fun, easy. Pretty sneaky, Will. Is the idea since this is Boxing Day, we are "boxing" the rebus?

    Thanks, Dan Shoenholz, for a nice puzzle.

    Anonymous 9:41 AM  

    Great puzzle.
    Once i got 'rhyme scheme' and 'home run', I was home, so to speak. Although I never heard of beomes or eosins, most of the fill was standard crosswords

    joho 9:53 AM  

    This was absolutely delightful from beginning to end for MEMEMEMEME. I especially appreciated the double MEs in the long downs.

    Thanks to Will for the surprise rebus and also to Dan for a phenoMEnal puzzle!

    We're experiencing a blizzard here northwest of Cincinnati, the snow is coming down an inch a minute! So we're having a white Christmas after all. It's really beautiful but my new desk won't be delivered today. Luckily we have everything we need at the house as the roads are dangerous. Very grateful to be warm and cozy!

    @Rex, for your sake I hope they do release the puzzle at 9:00. Why not?

    lawprof 10:00 AM  

    I'm fortunate to have home delivery of the NYT, so I have the pleasure of doing the puzzle on paper, which (at least for me) is a more involving, tactile experience than using a keyboard.

    Moreover, I do it in ink because the messier the final product, the more challenging, and ultimately satisfying, the puzzle -- and I'm left with the physical evidence of the struggle.

    Today was a mess. Got off on the wrong foot in NW with xers at 14A, which gave me treasury at 3D. Actually picked up the rebus fairly early at the RHYMESCHME/HOMER crossing, so the entire East Coast fell pretty quickly, but the West took a fair amount of rehab before it came together. All in all, a delightful exercise.

    Tita 10:16 AM  

    My German boss opened a speech to a large group of Japanese in Tokyo with an elaborate ANECDOTE. The translator repeated it with just a few syllables. When his speech was over, he asked the host how it was possible for the translator to have repeated his story so concisely.
    The answer - He told hte audience "Our illustrious guest has told a joke - please laugh."

    Pop Tarts are a guilty pleasure for me...

    Like HIGH seas and teas, liked Winner takes ALL.
    Love rebi, and loved learning that rebusing is a word!

    52D reminds me of the now defunct Cape Cod Cooperage, who started selling defective barrel staves, which then became more profitable than barrels, so they starting making "defective" staves for crafters. My Mom has painted dozens.

    Happy Boxing Day, everyone!
    Thanks for a fun fun rebus, Mr. Schoenholz!

    MetaRex 10:24 AM  

    The puzzle has a musical note implicit theme...think Maria Callas or your favorite diva going "Mi-Mi-Mi-Mi-Mi" in the middle and then "Mi-Mi" in each long answer.

    The weakness of MEXICAN MEAL in the upper left is nicely countered by the good ME crosser ANIME and the good fill GEN-X right below it.

    it's all about me

    Anonymous 10:42 AM  

    "YES!!!!! I want the NYT to release it at 9:00 too!

    Let's start a letter-writing campaign."

    I vote no. Slippery slope. If 9pm, then why not a consistent 6pm as with Saturday (I mean Sunday.) and Sunday (I mean Monday.)?

    I wouldn't let any puzzle out before midnight.

    ". . . so I have the pleasure of doing the puzzle on paper, which (at least for me) is a more involving, tactile experience than using a keyboard.

    Moreover, I do it in ink because the messier the final product, the more challenging, and ultimately satisfying, the puzzle -- and I'm left with the physical evidence of the struggle. . . ."

    I used to do the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday crosswords in Across Lite, but felt that I was missing a lot of the experience; was blowing them out too fast. I print them all now and get a lot more out of the early week puzzles. I still shoot for speed (to a point) in the early-week puzzles. Solving on paper costs me a couple of minutes at least, but I don't think that I want the skills to be super-fast.

    I also love looking at a crossword that shows the battle scars of write-overs and the margin notes of really cool entries that weren't the right entries (especially the longer ones).

    Ink only of course. I don't want the experience sanitized. One write-over is easy. I do try to avoid two write-overs in one square, because then it looks like a bomb went off there.

    Tita 10:47 AM  

    Amen to earlier availability of the puzzle!!! Esp. now that I need to rouse way early to get to my Italian countnerparts, it is wreaking havoc with my sleep patterns! A letter-writing campaign indeed...!!

    I'm solving on my tablet, using a stylus (or actually, just my finger), to write.
    The more erasures I make, the messier the grid becomes. I also have lightly entered letters for those I'm unsure of, and I can highlight to boot (for things I want to talk about here!)
    (I'm a converted pencil/paper solver.) I include a screenshot of today's puzzle here (scroll down).
    (I entered my rebi squares as little smiley viasages of ME!!!) ;)

    WA 10:48 AM  

    For some reason, I deduced the theme early and the puzzle was easy. But I had the same issue as others. Mexican meal? And I love Jams Cameron more than his movies.

    Anonymous 10:49 AM  

    Of course, there's nothing to stop the NYT from leaking the crosswords early to 'favored bloggers'. I would vote against that as well. Surprised that it doesn't go on already, though.

    Amlen and Xwordinfo get them early don't they? Curious about the relationship of the latter, especially now that they charge for access to a lot of it - which I think the NYT should be providing as a value added service to subscribers.

    Airymom 10:51 AM  

    Is there anyone else who saw "Les Miz" yesterday and didn't think it was pheno-me-nal?

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:52 AM  

    Do I like the puzzle? To borrow from a puzzle from the recent past, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do!

    But just out of curiosity, why not list all the shorter words crossing those listed by Rex as "theme answers" as theme answers as well? Especially the five crossing the center MEMEMEMEME? And, as @Z and @jackj note, the related EMMYS?

    Carola 11:05 AM  

    Very neat. Kinda wish I hadn't cottoned on to the rebus right away (ANIME/MEXICAN...), so that the solving fun could have gone on longer. I like being faked out - as long as I eventually get it. I did need to wait on the central reveal, though, as I solved by circling around the center chunk. Got the first of those MEs from MEADE and then had fun writing in four more without looking at the clues.

    Serendipity - this is my GEN X daughter's birthday, so today she gets to say ME ME ME ME ME - and her name is in the grid: G. LOVE.

    Last word to get filled in was EOSIN, entirely from crosses - only then did I think of eosinophils. Never knew eosin was a dye.

    Zwhatever 11:23 AM  

    anon9:20 - Isn't the possessive plural of "his" "theirs?" I couldn't remember "son," but having the -ES made that moot, anyway. My thought process was, "mES is mine, tES is yours, so it must be SES.... But isn't that plural?" After the solve I plugged in "his" into my translation widget and out popped "sien." Then I popped "SES" into the translator widget and out popped "its." That would be neuter singular, not "his" and not plural.

    Any French speakers want to chime in and relieve me of my ignorance?

    Sparky 11:24 AM  

    Pretty much what @jae said. Had xers which held up that corner. Got it with RHYMESCHEME, then filled in the center MEMEMEMEME's. Found this puzzle to be quick, amusing, and fun. Like seeing GNU now and then and MYRNA's first name.

    I use a Frixion erasable pen to solve and a green Flair to mark my frequent mistakes.

    The salmon was delicious the company fine. I am growing too set im my ways. That's why a rebus on a Wednesday was a Welcome surprise. Ta, ta.

    Tita 11:34 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Tita 11:36 AM  

    @Z - in French, the posessive pronoun matches the noun owned, not the owner...
    Marie's paper is "son papier" - Marie is clearly feminine, but paper is masculine, hence "son". When plural, it is "ses papiers".


    (Deleted previous, totally unintelligible comment!)

    Tita 11:39 AM  

    @Z - to further discuss, a frequent mistake made by native speakers of languages with such agreemtns is to say "I visited Marie and his uncle." instead of "her uncle".

    quilter1 11:55 AM  

    Caught the rebus at RHYME SCHEME and away I went. Very enjoyable and a nice Wed. surprise. I like saying "rose red."

    Rob C 12:01 PM  

    Had a lot of fun with this. Figured out the rebus early b/c there's so many of them in all parts of the grid, they were hard to avoid. 18 counting the Acrosses and Downs-impressive. Even with that significant constraint, the fill was fine.

    Found the clues kind of straight-forward, but that was probably on purpose so the rebuses (rebi?) would be gettable enough for a Wed.

    Didn't like MEXICAN MEAL either, but I always looks for the good and as long as the bad is kept to a minimum, I'm ok.

    Unknown 12:13 PM  

    Darn it, ACM! I was all set to say something about MEXICANMEAL/green paint/STALECOFFEE and you beat me to it!

    Fun enough. Though I didn't like the ME-less Ms in MARE & MIMeOS, MOPE & MYRNA, & EMMYS. Maybe it's just ME.

    chefbea 12:23 PM  

    Too tough for me,me,me. Maybe cuz I'm still full from all the eating yesterday.

    Torrential rains here and tornado watch in effect all day. Wild weather everywhere.

    Ellen S 12:28 PM  

    @metarex, good job with the link!

    I used to (pre-iPad) solve in bed in ink. Two disadvantages: 1) the pens would stop writing because I needed those write-upside down in outer space kind; 2) if I fell asleep the ink would leach out onto the sheets. The iPad presents other dangers: one time I fell asleep with it perched on my chest -- in portrait orientation so it was tall enough to whack me good in the face when it fell over. I've always heard that more people die in bed than anywhere else; now I know why!

    MeXICAN MeAL didn't bother me, but I didn't like MIMeOS for "predecessors of photocopies". I used to use a mimeograph machine and we never referred to its output as "mimeos." I (dimly) remember phrases like "I'll mimeo the newsletter," but not "I'll make some mimeos on the mimeo." I'm not sure but I think we just called them "copies."

    Anonymous 1:30 PM  

    I liked the puzzle but I'm wondering if anyone can tell me how to solve rebus puzzles with the new NYT software. Is it possible to fill in multiple letters or should I just stick with Across Lite?

    Lewis 2:05 PM  

    @Z -- great catch with EMMYS. I feel sure that was put in on purpose. I didn't catch that.

    Was Naticked at EOSIN/SES, and hand up for XERS.

    This was a fun solve. That happens occasionally, maybe a third of the time. I don't mind the workmanlike puzzles, but the fun solves are more special.

    Joe The Juggler 2:40 PM  

    I still think you're misusing the term "rebus puzzle". A rebus is where words or syllables are represented graphically. A "rebus puzzle" is what used to be underneath the squares in the game Concentration.

    I don't think it's accurate to use it as short hand for "putting more than one letter in a square".

    Joe The Juggler 2:44 PM  

    There are arguably some crosswords puzzles that are rebus puzzles (where, for example, the black squares represent a word graphically, or a bunch certain letters form a cross or an X or some such), but this isn't one of them.

    Wikipedia has a pretty good article on rebus puzzles.

    AcME 3:24 PM  

    @joe the juggler
    It's just shorthand. Maybe you can envision a Mini me version of Dan standing in his puzzle with a cartoon bubble over his head shouting "ME!"...or the state of Maine...

    @Susan McConnell
    Sorry to beat you to the punch, but that's what I get for being a late night semi- insomniac! Your point about all the crossings og MEMEMEMEME (MEADE, AMENDS, CARMEN, MIMEOS, PRIME also being listed as theme answers is a really good would highlight the brilliant construction and density even more so...
    And even EMMYS which @Z and @JackJ caught...very sly, if intentional nice synchronicity if not.

    What a nice and concise explication of the French and a perfect example with "son oncle" and why foreigners get so confused with the his/her thing. I realize now I've been making that exact mistake en francais and probably in italiano all these years. Does the possessive agree with the object and not the subject in italiano too?! Merci, mon frere!

    PDVN 3:40 PM  

    Just another anti-vote for the term "rebus" used in this context. It's bad enough that Will bends the rules of Crossword puzzles and sticks in two letters (damned annoying, in fact!), but to call this a rebus is just wrong.

    Tita 3:43 PM  

    @Helen...that is one hilarious post! si...anche in Italiano, mon frère...(lol)

    @Joe the Juggler...I try to always find a way to make it a true rebus, as I did today...see screenshot on my blog... Basically, what acme said.


    Anonymous 3:44 PM  

    Good question @Z! The plural refers to the agreement between the article and the noun in French -- in order to say "his pants" one would have to use the plural pronoun: "ses pantalons". Better?


    Anonymous 3:47 PM  

    Yes indeed it is quite the same in italiano!

    -- fearless

    retired_chemist 4:04 PM  

    Didn't catch the rebus - just thought a bunch of e's were left out and completed accordingly. Had IMMMM for 35A instead of (ME)MMMM, which was my only error. Easy puzzle once you get the rebus, I believe.

    Qvart 4:30 PM  

    I was only going to spend a week doing the puzzle and posting comments, but since Rex had a puzzle on Christmas Eve and I couldn't get the paper in my hometown, I decided to reup my subscription. Might as well keep commenting since I'm getting the puzzles on my computer everyday.

    If any of you saw my previous comment about cutting Christmas short in my hometown and heading back to where I live, here's how it went:

    It should have been a 5 1/2 drive - good weather, no traffic - but about three hours into it my battery light started blinking. Pulled over somewhere in southern WV to inspect it and found the alternator had come loose. Fiddled with a wingnut bolt and got everything back in place so I took off again. A few miles down the road - same thing. Pulled off again in VA and couldn't get the alternator to stay in place so I drove a few miles down the road and got a motel room for the night. Got up early this morning and took my car to a garage for an easy $25 fix. Got back on the interstate, but a few miles down the road I hit some slushy bad weather so I pulled off at a travel plaza and paid for a couple hours' worth of internet access. I downloaded today's puzzle and tried to work it while listening to the weather and talking to people who had just gotten off the interstate. Things didn't sound good so I waited awhile longer before venturing out again. I finally made it home though, and only 28 hours after I left (!).

    Anyway, I figured out the "ME" theme but didn't know how to enter more than one letter into a cell in AcrossLite so I saved the puzzle for later. Just finished it at home.

    No comments today besides the time: 5:42. Time to turn off my brain, have a beer, and warm up after the white-knuckle driving.

    Hope you all enjoyed your holiday. See you tomorrow.


    mac 5:46 PM  

    Nice Wednesday! Busy having fun with Christmas guests, but I enjoyed this one.

    Agree with you on both people, @Ellen!

    Off to have more food.

    Joe The Juggler 7:05 PM  

    "@joe the juggler
    It's just shorthand. Maybe you can envision a Mini me version of Dan standing in his puzzle with a cartoon bubble over his head shouting "ME!"...or the state of Maine..."

    I don't understand. Are you saying if it were something that it's not, it'd then be a rebus puzzle? Or "shorthand" means referring to something that's not a rebus as a rebus?

    There are no such bubbles, and even if there were, I don't think "me" in a balloon can be considered a rebus for "me".

    I understand there's no quick and easy term for a puzzle that involves putting more than one letter in a square--but using a word unconventionally doesn't make it work that way.

    I think, however, the term "rebus" as used by Rex Parker and followers of the blog has become a shibboleth to see who's "in" and who's not.

    Anonymous 7:25 PM  

    My only complaint is that there is an "M" (in Mare) that is NOT a rebus. If there were many "M"s without an "e," that would seem fine, but ONE?

    retired_chemist 7:58 PM  

    @ Anon 7:25 - there ARE several others. MYRNA/MOPE, NOM/EMMYS, SCUM/EMMYS.

    Merriam Webster 8:11 PM  

    Language evolves.

    Milford 8:19 PM  

    @Joe - on my Magmic app, anytime I want to add anything other than a single letter to a square, I have to select the "Rebus" option. So that is where I learned the terminology, not from this blog. It's not a conspiracy.

    Yes, I understand the true, original meaning of rebus (it's Latin for thing), but it's probably just that there is no better word for this type of puzzle trickery.

    Rookie 8:33 PM  


    We called the output of the mimeo machine, aka the ditto machine, "dittos.".

    Victor 8:35 PM  

    There's a whole bunch of us for whom EOSIN was no problem, as we learned it from H&E stains in pathology. That's hematoxylin and EOSIN, a standard staining technique for microscopic tissue examination--the cytoplasm comes out a pretty red/pink and the nuclei a deep purply blue. Docs, pathology lab rats and multiple others have actually seen the pink of EOSIN.

    Enjoyed the puzzle lots!

    Zwhatever 8:50 PM  

    More about Rebus Crossword Puzzles

    Thanks for the French re-Education. It's been a long time since I've forgotten that agreement was with the object, not the subject.

    Sfingi 9:38 PM  

    First rebus I got immediately. Wasn't sure about the French and sports girl.

    Didn't get the NYT yesterday. It wasn't even delivered Upstate on Christmas. I cared because it's Science Tuesday, my favorite.

    sanfranman59 12:03 AM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:46, 6:12, 0.93, 18%, Easy
    Tue 7:32, 8:37, 0.88, 14%, Easy
    Wed 12:31, 11:52, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:31, 3:39, 0.96, 26%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 4:24, 4:57, 0.89, 13%, Easy
    Wed 7:05, 6:34, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging

    Unknown 3:26 AM  

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    Joe The Juggler 10:55 AM  

    "Language evolves."

    That doesn't make "rebus" mean putting more than one letter in a square. Similarly, a lot of bloggers have used "virii" for the plural of "virus". We could probably even find that usage in apps, but it's still wrong.

    Zwhatever 11:35 AM  

    @JtJ - If it makes you feel better, draw little pictures. The multiple letters can oft be depicted by pictograms, but that is beyond the programming for most crossword puzzle software.

    Joe The Juggler 4:39 PM  

    @Z: Even if that were how this puzzle is (and it's not), it would still not be a rebus puzzle.

    I'm not making this up or simply trying to be difficult.

    For fans of crossword puzzles to discuss the exact meanings in puzzles to then be so sloppy with language seems inconsistent to me.

    Tita 6:01 PM IS a rebus...
    As many of us have said, draw in little smiley faces that represent

    Those poor souls who use a computer to solve, and don't yet have our wonderful app, are constrained by technology to write letters.
    But that is a purely artificial limitation.

    Same for that "world" rebus...I drew a little globe...others had to enter a "w".

    Ellen S 7:21 PM  

    @Rookie, yes, dittos, but still not convinced about "mimeos". Oh, well, long time ago.

    @Victor, @Gareth , et al, I knew EOSIN only because a dog I had once was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis. $500 for the endoscopy but I don't remember extra lab charges, like to see if tissue samples turned color when stained with actual eosin. And what she said to do about it was put the dog on a diet of brown rice, boiled fish and tofu. It did fix the dog's intestinal problems, but I was convinced at the time that she was practicing highway robbery, not veterinary medicine. (@Gareth, I mean no offense -- I have the greatest admiration for almost all the doctors who care for my beasts. This one probably just had to pay for her endoscope. I don't blame her ... much ... for being a ganniff, gonif, ganev.)

    @Joe the Juggler, the AcrossLite paid version has "Rebus support." I think Rebus is what lawyers call "a term of art." A word that has a special meaning in a particular context; in this case, in crossword puzzles, "rebus" means a square that has anything in it other than a single letter of the alphabet.

    Spacecraft 11:35 AM  

    Wow. MEdium-challenging for OFL; easy-MEdium for ME. Wasn't sure about 1a, So I slid to the gimME CLAIR. I dimly recalled soMEone named Anouk AIMEE, but not how to spell the surnaME, exactly. At first, I bought that it might be only four letters. But as soon as I saw the clue for 18a I thought: wasn't that the year for "Titanic?" It's gotta be JAMESCAMERON; that would fix up Anouk's naME, and--wait--there's another ME--let's check out 10d. Oh yeah. From then on I virtually flew around the periMEter. Thecenter was the last to fall; there were no easy entries for me. "Correspond" is a perfectly OK clue for AGREE, but it was just "off" a bit in my mind, that I wasn't sure of it. Then when I saw the Bizet thing I thought: oh, bonus! there's one in the middle, too!

    ONE!! Yowsah, there's five! Color ME impressed! It all fits so beautifully; an absolute triumph of construction. Kudos to Mr. Schoenholz! (New? Smashing debut!)

    I would NOT call GENX "good fill." It's HACKneyed at best; gratuitous scrabbliness at worst (though not here; it was needed for the theME answer MEXICANMEAL--already noted as this outstanding puzzle's weakest link).

    And finally, whatever one might think of Mr. CaMEron's private personality, one must admit he makes very entertaining films. In fact, I watch Abyss, Titanic and Avatar over and over when they come on TV.

    L O V E Y O U W I F E

    rain forest 1:13 PM  

    Nice! I very much enjoyed this one, and caught on, like others, at AIMEE, which begat JAMESCAMERSON (pompous ass), which took me back to the NW where I had wanted XERS originally, but now "saw" ANIME, and so GENX (should have got AGRA immedieately anyway.) What's the problem with MEXICANMEAL? The clue says, eg., and chile reileno is an example.

    I think @JoetheJuggler had issues with poop in his diaper as a baby. Can't believe the perseveration about "rebus", which is really just a convenient way of describing this type of puzzle, and if, like @Tita, you draw a little picture, it IS a rebus.
    Really liked IRRITATE, EOSIN, RHYMESCHEME, SELECTED, ANECDOTE, among others of this uniformly solid fill.

    Connie in Seattle 2:16 PM  

    Hi @acme. I saw another mini theme with Susan LUCCI who played ERIKA going to the EMMYS and losing year after year crying ME ME ME!

    Waxy in Montreal 3:52 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Waxy in Montreal 3:54 PM  

    Sometimes figuring out the constructor's little trick too early can be a negative. Like today! Got the rebus quickly at the AIMEE JAMESCAMERON nexus, so roared back to triumphantly enter GEN ME at 14A which left me up the ARROYO sans paddle to MOPE and HACK my way out.

    Overall, thought this was an excellent Wednesday effort. Particularly enjoyed the bonus EMMY(s) homophone as others have mentioned.

    And Canadians might get an extra kick from RAILS appearing beside CPR as the latter is also shorthand for the Canadian Pacific Railway up here.

    Red Valerian 3:58 PM  

    I thought that maybe the number of MEs was the number of times that Susan Lucci was nominated for an Emmy. 13? or 26 (if you count A and D)? I can't be bothered to search more, but it does look like more than 20 times...

    Anyhow, I enjoyed it! Took me longer to get than it should have, since today is not Thursday. What fun.

    @Waxy, didn't notice RAILS CPR--thanks!

    Dirigonzo 4:22 PM  

    I smelled a rat early on when some apparently obvious answers wouldn't quite fit, but it wasn't until I arrived at Round-tripper, which I was certain had to be HOMERUN, that I realized that I wasn't the problem, ME was the problem. Shout-out to Canadian solvers (nice to see some here today)at 30a with mention of ONTario, and shout-out to me at 59a (Untalented writer > HACK) - but hey, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

    DMGrandma 4:43 PM  

    Got off to a slow start thinking IA had to be something along the lines of Merrie Melodies. Later put "write" for "correspond", so both those had to be worked out. But EOSIN was a gimme from working crosswords and I guess the same should be said for PEONY. Otherwise, no idea how I just knew it. MIMEOS still looks strange, even after the explanation. I come from the world of ditto and xerox . Like others, my last fill was MEXICANMEAL. where I come from rellenos are part of a meal. Can't imagine what the reaction would be if I put one all by itself on a plate and sai "there's dinner."

    The "me's" across the center were cute, and after I got two I just wrote in the rest. Cute theme, Some fun words.

    Solving in Seattle 7:09 PM  

    ME thinks this was a clever puzzle. Caught the rebus on JAMESCAMERON. 57D had Ink before ICE, otherwise pretty straight forward. The EMMYS homophone, as was pointed out, was cute. Learned BIOME today.

    Ginger 9:14 PM  

    The CAMEL gave it up, but not before I checked the date to see if it is in fact Thursday. Then off to the races. Fun puzzle, with lots of trickery going on. Love the MEMEMEMEME revealer. Only write over was my inability to spell EOcIN! Easily fixed.

    SmacD 11:37 PM  

    It's January 30 here in Syndicationland, but as this puzzle was originally published on Boxing Day, could the ME ME ME ME ME theme be Will Shortz's sly comment on the hyper-commericalization of Christmas? Or is it just ME?

    SmacD 11:43 PM  

    Oops, just noticed a typo: it should be "hyper-commercialization," not "hyper-commericalization." But I doubt anyone was confused.

    Anonyrat 3:49 AM  

    Ah merde, we're back to the putain Francais again ... ROTI was fortunately gettable from the crosses, but, as @ Anonymous 12:19 AM and @ jackj 9:04 AM anticipated, I was Naticked by EOSIN crossing a RFW (Random French Word).
    Is Aimee Anouk famous? Never heard of her. Guess I'll have to look her up.

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