Six-Day War leader Weizman / THU 12-6-12 / Federal agcy 1946-75 / PayPal purchaser / Bit of attire for Mr Monopoly / NL East team informally

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Constructor: Jill Denny & Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: PH SCALE (49A: Theme of this puzzle) — a "PH" rebus with seven "PH" squares as well as BASES up top (5A: Substances high on the 49-Across) and ACIDS down low (62A: Substances low on the 49-Across)

Word of the Day: PHISH (49D: Do some online skulduggery) —
intr.v., phished, phish·ing, phish·es.
To request confidential information over the Internet under false pretenses in order to fraudulently obtain credit card numbers, passwords, or other personal data.

Read more:
• • •

For someone who got ASNER and HAM ON RYE with exactly no crosses, I had an oddly hard time starting this thing in the NW. This is partly because the first "PH" square is up there, and I couldn't see it, and partly because I had SOCRATES for SOPHOCLES (42A: Contemporary of Aeschylus), and therefore my 3D: Arrange looked like it ended in -ORGAC, which is CARGO backwards, which I thought was somehow part of the theme (no; answer is CHOREOGRAPH). I straightened this all out in time, and then went on to demolish the rest of the puzzle, but the initial slowness actually put me at a below-average Thursday time. Picked up the first "PH" square when I figured out that 1D: Bit of attire for Mr. Monopoly (isn't his name Somebody Moneybags?) had to be a TOPHAT, and PHNOM (phinally!) conphirmed it (17A: Half an Asian capital?). Oh, I also got remarkably stalled at the end when I could not for the life of me come up with BUSHEL (5D: Whole lot), despite having B-S-EL in place. I just assumed one of those crosses was wrong. All I could think of was PASSEL.

Aha! Rich "Uncle" Pennybags: "An attempt to rechristen Rich "Uncle" Pennybags as Mr. Monopoly was made in a Hasbro marketing effort in 1999." It does not say if the "attempt" was successful.

The theme is very nice—BASES up high, ACIDS down low, PHs everywhere. Jill Denny and Jeff Chen are allegedly married (Jeff Chen alleges this, so I'm betting that it's true).

  • 22A: Vixen feature (ANTLER) — Timely. Vixen is a reindeer. At least I hope so.
  • 35A: Nigerian native (IBO) —That's some 4-alarm crosswordese right there. Gimme for old hands, mysterioso for others.
  • 44A: N.L. East team, informally (PHILS) — Nice clue. Gracefully avoids the [plural name] trap.
  • 60A: Six-Day War leader Weizman (EZER) — 3-alarm crosswordese. I forgot it and had something like EDER (a biographer ... no, damn, that's EDEL. Who's EDER?! Oh, right, the German river) or EBER (a ... no idea ... some Old Testament guy?) in there at first. 
  • 29D: Speculate superficially (PHILOSOPHIZE) — Would not have thought "superficially." Seems kind of harsh on Socrates et al. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


D_Blackwell 12:33 AM  

Getting away from PASSELS and getting to bushels was tough. That was the last area to fall. It didn't help that I was looking for a PH up there to balance (Ha!) the PH square with PHASERS / PHILS, which was the next to last area to fall because I had LASERS / LILS. Yeah, WTF is LILS, but LASERS just 'had' to be right.

I would have liked the clue for PHILOSOPHIZE to be "Navel gaze".

syndy 12:36 AM  

I wanted TOPHAT but I put in Spats and wondered,by the time I got to APHID I was sure.I had the same thought about PHILOSOPHIZE as Rex(good thing SOPHOCLES is less thin skinned)Is it odd though that the reveal was so ,oh I dunno, ubiquitous?but I liked it Flying WALLENDAS and all!

WillGH 12:39 AM  

Don't forget the theme answer of water in the middle.

Santa 12:42 AM  

That would be "Vixen's feature" for 22A. My Vixen is the only one with antlers. No other vixens in the world have antlers.

jae 12:55 AM  

Pretty easy for a rebus.  Caught it immediately and then the only issue was symmetry or the lack there of, which turned out to be the case.  Smooth grid with a smidgen of zip...PHISH, STEAMIER, PULSATE...a couple of fairly obscure names...EZER, BAIO (unless you were into mediocre 80's sitcoms)...a longshoreman mini theme...SCOW, HOLD, STOW, BUOYS (?)...and the return of UNCUT.   In short, an OK pleasant Thurs.

Erasure:  Me too for  paSsEL for BUSHEL plus the occasional spelling mistake.

Not sure why 17a has a ?

Elle54 1:04 AM  

TRIUMphED led me to mine

Rube 1:35 AM  

I can't believe no-one has mentioned etui as the goto answer for "Needle holder". That and Bora for "Half of an Asian Capital" kept me out of the NE. Took as long to straighten those out as the rest of the puzzle. At least EWER held true.

Also had "Entre" acte before NOUS, and said before ORAL.

I thought that all female deer don't have antlers. Turns out that female deer do have antlers. According to one site, male reindeer drop their antlers in early winter while female reindeer don't drop theirs until the Spring. Thus ALL Santa's reindeer are female. Who'd have thunk it.

Rube 1:37 AM  

I can't believe no-one has mentioned etui as the goto answer for "Needle holder". That and Bora for "Half of an Asian Capital" kept me out of the NE. Took as long to straighten those out as the rest of the puzzle. At least EWER held true.

Also had "Entre" acte before NOUS, and said before ORAL.

I thought that only male deer had antlers. Turns out that female reindeer do have antlers. According to one website, male reindeer drop their antlers in early winter while female reindeer don't drop theirs until the Spring. Thus ALL Santa's reindeer are female. Who'd have thunk it.

Gopman 1:54 AM  

No one mentioned AERO-engine? Never heard that term and I'm a pilot.

Aero Cady Michaels 1:58 AM  


Esp with the BASES/WATER/ACIDS!!!

How solidly constructed!!

Again word for word what @Rex experienced, putting in ASNER, HAMONRYE despite falling into ETUI trap, paSsEL, SOcratES...

UNCUT as a bleedover !!! Ouch!
(@Ulrich, still grinning from yesterday!)

Given PHilosoPHize has two, I wonder if the NW started out with PHonograPH?

And in a similar one my pals Michael B and Brent did, they too had TOPHAT, which is an outlier of sorts as it's not an "F" sound. But that's a plus.

Unusual to have husband wife team... Byron and his new bride, Patrick Blindauer with Rebecca, now Jeff Chen and Jill Denny (Jiff Chenny?)

Anyway, just PHabulous!

Clark 2:02 AM  

As a philosopher, I was going to take offense to 29D. But, here's what Merriam-Webster has to say.

Philosophize: (1) to reason in the manner of a philosopher (2) to expound a moralizing and often superficial philosophy.

So the clue is not a comment on what I do, it is a secondary definition. Whew!

chefwen 2:17 AM  

Got the gimmick early on, but this was still a slow solve for me. Like others have said the NW was the sticking point. 24A slantED was of no help and TOPHAT was just not coming. It took a while but in the end I TRIUMphED.

Thanks Jill and Jeff for a fun and not too easy (just right) Thursday puzzle.

Jeff Chen 2:53 AM  

Jill: How about a pH puzzle which contains bases at the top, water in the middle, and acids at the bottom?

me: You're insane! Impossible. Cannot be done. All that plus seven pH squares? No no no no NO! (hissy fit thrown)

me, several weeks later: I told you it could be done. Why do you never listen to me?

Loren Muse Smith 6:05 AM  

@Rex – I encountered IBO a long time ago in a linguistics course and always feel smug when it’s my toe hold. I forget that thousands of others are just as confidently filling it in, too!

I didn’t fall into the “etui” “passel” “said” traps but dug myself in ridiculously with a very early “asphalt” instead of PH SCALE! So I had the rebus but in the wrong spot and was trying desperately to understand everything in terms of tar and pavement. Sheesh.

I finally saw HWYS and then PHISH and, Whew – phixed the problem.

Terrific fill and utterly, utterly accessible to this IBO-familiar nonscientist.

@Andrea – totally agree about TOP HAT. Loved it.

@Chefwen – I adore Limburger cheese, too, and my family has the same storage rules. (I’m way too busy at work right now to spend a lot of time here. Sorry for the delay.)

PHNOMinally phun, Jeph and Jenny! Great story about this puzzle’s conception!

r.alphbunker 6:12 AM  

Got the rebus at PHISH.

Water you know. The PH of water is seven and there are seven PHs.

I expect that @retired chemistry professor will get a kick out of the theme

Danp 6:24 AM  

Loved the puzzle, though "vixen feature" left a bit of an olfactory tickler for me.

OTD 7:06 AM  

Excellent puzzle! Started out with ETUI, but then got the rebus with PHNOM and TOPHAT and was off and running. Took me a while to get it done, but loved the PH clues and answers. Way to go, Jill and Jeff--or was it Jeff all the way??

Zygotic 7:31 AM  

I meandered about for quite awhile being totally clueless about the theme and with tons of white space. My first impulse was TOP HAT at 1d, but it was too long and I had what seemed like a lot of HA- words so I was thinking something funny was going on. UNCUT and BUSHEL (never considered paSsEL) finally gave me enough to see BASES, which made ACIDS and PH SCALE obvious, and I pretty much finished on the fly from there. My final hold up was the ITeR/CeDY crossing. I knew the "E" was wrong, but had to guess between ITAR/CADY or IToR/CoDY. CADY seemed familiar and IToR looked absolutely wrong, so I got it right at last.

All-in-All a fine Thursday. I had lots of fun with it.

Tita 7:51 AM  

etui, lASERS, and a sad DNF due to OWeS/BAnA (actor Natick - boo/hiss).

Wonderful theme and puzzle - loved that TO[PH]AT/[PH}NOM cross as the two non-F-sounding instances of the rebus.

Don't think a TACH is a needle holder = yes, there is a needle there,'s a stretch.

Thanks Jill & Jeff!

MaryRoseG 7:55 AM  

Love a good Rebus! ToPHat was my fave. A PH id gave it to me as a BUSHEL of them ate my lovely hibiscus tree this spring.

Not a ladies week, but a lady on the team today so that's ok too.

JaxInL.A. 7:57 AM  

I had com for the E.E.C. part, which gave me tAlcS for the first PH substance (it's alkaline, right?). That made me struggle for the entire NE.

Loved the clue Delivery person for OBGYN.

Thanks for the story (and the puzzle), Jeff (and Jill). (J names rule.)

Happy rebus Thursday, everyone.

baja 7:58 AM  

Science and math puzzles - my hearts a flutter. Thanks so much for these.

Unknown 8:35 AM  

Very PHun. I thought ETUI, but just *knew* the deli thing was HAMONRYE. Enjoyed it...thanks Jill & Jeff!

Milford 8:41 AM  

Food theme yesterday, and science theme today - what's not to love? It even makes it OK that I DNF today due the lASERS/lILS I left, even though lILS make absolutely no sense. I just never thought there would be another rebus answer, since there was already three on the west and three on the east.

So thank you @r.alphbunker for pointing out the fact that there was a neutral number 7 of pH! Love this blog!

Unlike many of you, I was irritated by the one outlier of TOP HAT not having the "f" sound, but that may be because I erased the entire NW countless times trying to get it filled in correctly.

OB/GYN and WALLENDA clues were wonderful. Thank you Jill & Jeff!

joho 8:42 AM  

I think it's PHunny that a lot of us wanted the less common paSsEL before BUSHEL.

12D clue should've been: "PHat chance!"

Jill and Jeff you two should be very proud of yourselves for creating such a PHabulous puzzle!

jackj 9:01 AM  

Having heard that Will Shortz was swearing off rebus puzzles, it seemed that the reveal might be the obscure FSCALE that rates tornadoes, but then ACIDS didn’t make a lot of sense though if we add WATER to it and accept that the Asian capital is (PH)NOM PENH then sneaky, sneaky Jeff, Jill and Will gave us a rebus and the reveal is (PH)SCALE.

And as Thursday puzzles go, Jeff and Jill have TRIUM(PH)ED!

For goodies among the theme related clues, CHOREOGRA(PH) tapped its way into the spotlight while (PH)ILOSO(PH)IZE mused with SO(PH)OCLES over the HAMONRYE and other mysteries of life; all words rarely gracing a grid.

It’s hard to single out a favorite from the fill but when pressed, BUOYS seems like a good candidate, with TACH, LIVEN, OBGYN and PULSATES also in the running.

SCOW, clued as “Cargo vessel” seems a stretch, unless the cargo is garbage and HIVED, though a legitimate word, conjures up slaphappy visions of the Three Stooges having trouble trying to corral a swarm of bees.

And, like many others, played hop-scotch on one clue, going from PASSEL to BUNDLE to, finally, BUSHEL.

This was a special Thursday puzzle and kudos to Jeff and Jill for a brilliant achievement!

evil doug 9:10 AM  

Started with 'fish', giving me 'fscale', and dreading the possibility of some musical theme.

When does the big inter-regional 'soda/pop/Coke' debate begin?

This time of the year I like to dress my vixens in antlers---and a nice red ball-gag that sort of looks like Rudolph's nose. Quite festive!

Some Wallendas flew better than others. That lesser branch of the family was known as the famous "Falling and Dying Wallendas".


Glimmerglass 9:18 AM  

Vixen is one of Santa's reindeer. Female reindeer have horns; most other kinds of female deer to not. A vixen is a female fox. This was easy medium, except for the NW, which took me forever. Of course I threw in etui for 1A, but nothing worked. Later when I caught the Ph rebus, I tried (ph)ono for 1A and oniON RYE (is there such a thing?) for 4D. TO(PH)AT is really an outlier. I thought of it first, but it's been in a very recent puzzle, and it wasn't an F sound like all the others. TACH is also enough of a Saturday misdirection to throw me. It should have had "briefly" in the clue (short for tachometer). Moreover, a tach *has* a needle (like most gauges), but it's purpose is not to hold one.

dk 9:21 AM  

Evil, In NY we called them soft drinks and when I first asked for one in a bar in the mid-west the bartender queried: "you mean one of those fizzy drinks." I adjusted my antlers and said "may I have a sooooooda for my son." That worked.

Jill sorry to hear Jeff is a sea anchor for your creativity :)

This puzzle was just plain fun.

📞📞📞 (3 PHones)

Jim 9:25 AM  

Naticked by IT_R with C_DY, But other than that, I enjoyed it.

chefbea 9:39 AM  

Haven't done the puzzle. Printer is out of ink. Can't get to Staples til this afternoon. Haven't read the write-up or comments either.

@Mac..just want to say re: your comment of last night..Trader Joes just opened here last Fri. Can't wait to buy the chicken Parm on a stick!!!!!

jberg 9:49 AM  

So I read the clue for 1A and said to non-puzzle wife, "Ha! Etuie! They're sending us up with a puzzle full of cliches!" Went from there to ULAN Bator and TWIN-engine (second time this week! I thought) - anyway, it took me a really long time to dig out from those errors. Without OMOO, I may never have made it at all.

Well, actually I didn't -- I didn't know PIA or BAIO, and guessed fiRE for WARE, so I couldn't see OWNS, gave up and came here, thinking at least I could join in all the howls about how a VIXEN is a fox and doesn't have antlers. I was forgetting the season.

Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Like many others, had paSsEL, but also tried BarrEL before BUSHEL. Caught the rebus late at APHID. NL East team went from natS to fIsh to PHILS.

Seven levels of PH-SCALE, and 7 PH squares is a real neat way to tie this one together.


John V 10:06 AM  

Fun, but very challenging for me. Got the rebus at PHSCALE (duh!), seeing the BASE, WATER and ACID fitting the bill. Cool!

However, screwed up the West, BIAO/NIA cross absolutely brutal, so I had FIRE for 36A, FRA for 30A, just a real mess.

Fun puzzle. Thanks, Jill and Jeff.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:25 AM  

Welcome home, Thursday Rebus! And Thank You Jill and Jeff!

My old friend in this puzzle is the OBGYN. A few years ago, I commented that OBGYN is a unique form of word shortening, but @mac was the only one commenting who understood what I meant. As a consequence of her support, I was encouraged to attend the ACPT, and later Lollapuzzoola. Thank you, @mac!

(OBGYN uses more than just the first letter of each of two words, and the resulting word is spoken as five separate letters: O - B - G - Y - N. I know of no other like it.)

Two Ponies 10:41 AM  

Happy to see the return of the rebus. Sad to say DNF.
Some of the clues just were not on my wavelength. Why is stick to = hew? Also did not like the clue for tach. It reminds me of seeing needle holder = fir. Yuck.

Sandy K 10:42 AM  

Held off on putting in etui...Went to 5a which took me to PH SCALE. The theme PHell in PHairly well after that.

PHinally went back and put in good ol' Ed ASNER and HAM ON RYE, so etui never went in...TOP HAT and PHNOM were my PHinal answers.

Lots of PHaves in the PHill. Agree with those that PHelt this was a Phun rebus!

Horace S. Patoot 10:45 AM  

@Bob K. OBGYN is the perfect candidate for an acronym (initials pronounced as a word: "Objin"). Other abbreviations that bug me but don't fall into your category are GSW (five syllables) for "gun shot wound" (three syllables). Or WWW for "world wide web" (nine vs. three syllables). There is apparently more at work than saving time.

GILL I. 10:56 AM  

Phooey - couldn't phinish. Loved your write-up today @Rex, very phunny. Had *every single mistake* that everyone else had. My Entre was a cote (always thinking food) and like @Z IToR would not give up his seat.
Did get the PH at PHONE so I caught on quickly but, alas, the WATER did not HOLD.
Thanks Jill and Jeff for a really great puzzle - can we have more, please?

Ulrich 11:21 AM  

Here's another wrinkle in this delightful puzzle that nobody seems to have mentioned yet: The PH scale has 15 values (from 0 to 14). So we have indeed ph values at various points of the scale in their respective columns.

How do I know this? Last year, I removed the weeds from patch of land that was supposed to grow into a lovely meadow, but never did, turned the earth, and made a vegetable garden. Being somewhat obsessive by nature, I had the soil tested, and that was the occasion I learned about the ph scale.

Masked and Uncutamous 11:39 AM  

pg for TuesPuz
ph for ThursPuz
Life of pi for SatPuz (est.)
Another phunky phearless phorecast from M&A.
Pretty good week for puzs. Liked this one most of all; hard to beat a rebus with a stick.

Non-retired-chemist brain thought maybe 37-A would be SALTS. Isn't that what's left over, after the acid hits the base? But, ever alert for patterns...
UNITER twice.
Then UNCUT twice.
Next up, WATER twice? Deice.

Masked and Anonymo4Us 11:59 AM  

... and pj's for Sunday mornin'.

Ulrich 12:12 PM  

Before someone takes me to task for implying that the ph scale has only integer values (it's bound to happen), let me clarify: I expressed myself poorly. What I wanted to say is that the position of a ph rebus square in a column spanning 15 rows can be directly interpreted as a value on the scale, and I like this because it makes the revealer apply literally to the whole grid.

Mr. Benson 12:40 PM  

How can you have PHISH in the grid and not clue it via Vermont hippie jam band goodness?

Arby 12:51 PM  

Got the rebus at PHONE/PHANTOM, but had to reset at that point and start over. I was solving in the new NYT puzzle app (which I am trying to like, but still don't). I could not for the life of me figure out how to enter multiple letters, though I'm sure I've done it accidentally at least 5 times before. What is the magic incantation that opens up a square for more than one keystroke?

Downloaded the puzzle in Across Lite and finished in record time, but that is tainted because I had already discovered many of the answers.

Arby 1:14 PM  

Found it. You have to hit escape. I'll spare you from my complaining about how incredibly poorly this is implemented, but that's the last nail in my trial of the new NYT app. Back to Across Lite from now on.

Acme 2:26 PM  

What are you saying (twice! ;)) about poor RudolPH?
Maybe Dec 24 is still consided early winter there...
that's why sometimes you find pieces of antler in your xmas stocking (next to your lump of coal)

mac 3:09 PM  

Great puzzle! I also had the most trouble in the NW, confidently putting in ETUI. When I didn't get anywhere with that, I tried CASE, which turned 4D into EGG ON RYE. Choreograph saved me there.

@Bob Kerfuffle: I'm so glad I commented!

@Gill I: LOL re - cote!

I was totally confused with the vixen, couldn't imagine a female fox with antlers.

chefbea 3:24 PM  

Finally got to Staples for ink. Got most of the puzzle even though I know nothing about the PH scale. wanted etui as did others.

Loved the clue for ware!!

Victor 3:35 PM  

Wasn't able to be here yesterday and just read it. I had to comment: I was in W country (Texas) last year and at the fair they were serving deep-fried butter on a stick. Yup--1/4 lb. stick of butter with a stick in the end, coated and deep-fried. Only in Texas.

Bird 3:49 PM  

Started out really liking this after discovering the theme (great theme BTW), but my pleasure morphed into meh as the pH locations were asymmetrical and not universally employed. Mostly, the pH was at the start or end of a word, but one time it was in the middle of two words – TOP HAT (@acme – I didn’t even think about the sound aspect so that’s a minus for me). I admire the multitude of pH squares, inclusion of ACIDS, BASES & WATER and the work that went into the construction, but the resulting grid left me so-so satisfied.

I like the cargo mini-theme, but where’s the PANTS? I like the mis-direction of 22A. I liked 3D and 38D. I also like that there is not a single RRN, RCD or RGL.

I could do without 3-letter state abbreviations. I don’t live in WIS, but does anyone use that abbr.? I don’t care for HIVED or the lack of a hint that 32A is abbreviated – need a “familiarly” or “informally” in the clue.

Write-overs include ENUI at 1A, STASH at 18A and RISES at 41A.

Deli choice threw for a little as I was looking for this or that as in WHITE OR RYE.

Entre NOUS is a excellent song by one of my favorite bands, Rush, so that was a gimme.

sanfranman59 4:07 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 16:52, 18:43, 0.90, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:49, 9:23, 1.15, 81%, Challenging

With rebus and other gimmick puzzles, I trust the Top 100 rating more than the All Solvers rating. This is because such puzzles generally have a lot fewer online solvers. Today's puzzle is no exception.

Lewis 4:18 PM  

@rube -- exactly! ETUI and BORA held me up in the NW as well.

ED -- I love the horrific thought of a FSCALE theme! And your vixen comment made me laugh. You're getting your edge back.

I like that the PHs were assymetrical - kept me guessing. I loved this puzzle. Some parts flew, others were very crunchy, especially the NW. But with my persistence, it yielded.

I don't know much about the PH scale, aside from it being ACID on one end and BASE on the other. But is it always WATER in the middle? They don't call it something like NEUTRAL?

Bird 4:25 PM  

Correction - I meant ETUI at 1A.

@ED - I like the idea of F-SCALE.

@Lewis - Maybe asymmetry, and making you guess, on such an easy theme is a good thing. Adds to the challenge.

Zygotic 4:50 PM  

ETUI is a mistake that only an experienced crossword solver would make.

jae 6:19 PM  

@Z ...and only if he/she failed to read the clue for 2d before entering it.

Stevlb1 7:07 PM  

PASSEL instead of BUSHEL. So close, yet so far.

Bob Snead 8:56 PM  

Lots of people being extra nice to this puzzle, not quite sure why. But whatever. My biggest issue today is that I expected Rex to post a Bukowski photo, which he did not.

Also totally naticked at HEW/SCOW.

Anonymous 9:40 PM  

@ Bob Snead

"Lots of people being extra nice to this puzzle..."

If you read the comments, most people appreciated the well-constructed theme, the above-average fill, the fun of filling in the rebus, and they didn't get naticked. ; )

Spacecraft 11:43 AM  

Weird. Not a single blogger has mentioned MY only writeover: tell me you didn't see "Cargo vessel" and write in SHIP. Man, I could not make sense out of the "North by Northwest" (shameless plug for my all-time favorite flick) to save my bacon. Some very odd clues in this area helped obfuscate:

"Whole lot" for BUSHEL
"Stick (to)" for HEW
"-engine" for AERO (WTF is that?)

Eventually I hit on TOPHAT, which ought to be part of another theme entirely: PHrases containing a P-end word followed by one that starts with H. This helped straighten the whole thing out.

Simple clues can often be the toughest. "Ring," "Won," "Lifts," "Pop," "Complete," "Arrange," "Lugs," "Beats." Look at any of these and you think: this could be ANYTHING.

Started with HANSOLO and BIN, then ran through the NL East for a team with second letter I. HMMM. FISH? Left it, went down and filled in the SE. "Destructive pest" ending in -ID = APHID. Uh-oh, only four letters. Suddenly, I could solve that problem and the baseball one too: my beloved PHILS!! Any grid housing the guys in red is thumbs-up by me!

Can't believe OFL missed WATER. Very cleverly done J&J. Now if we can give poor OMOO a few weeks off...

rain forest 1:44 PM  

Clever! As a former chem major, my first answer was BASES, then I looked at the bottom, and ACIDS went in, and optimistically checked the centre, and yes, WATER. pHscale wouldn't fit, and so I didn't realize there was a rebus (not really a rebus, but that's what we say) and so I worked over to the NW and after rejecting TOPHAT because a TACH is not a needle holder, and I'd never heard the term AERO engine, I went elsewhere and picked up PHONE/PHANTOM, which got me PHSCALE, and the entire NW. Except for the CADY/ITAR cross, everything else was a snap. Ashamed that I knew BAIO, for some reason.
For those taking notes: Some salts are neutral, but most are either basic or acidic depending on the base/acid combination from which they spring. Pure water is neutral, but most water on the planet is very slightly acidic because of dissolved gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, etc.

DMGrandma 4:10 PM  

Got the trick at PHONE which helped me separate SOPHOCLES from Socrates. Enjoyed the puzzle but ended with an error, tASER crossing tILS. would have helped if had known to either look for 7 PH's or the pet names of teams. Also don't know the difference between a PHASER and a tASER. So much to learn!

Dirigonzo 4:32 PM  

I loved this puzzle for all the usual reasons plus it reminded me of all the reasons why I like winter in Maine better than summer: 1- Don't have to spend time every day measuring and adjusting the PH of the WATER in the pool; 2- NOPE, I guess that's the only one.

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