Impressionist Frank / THU 3-28-13 / 1974 John Carpenter sci-fi film / Waikiki warbler / Jar of Hearts singer Christina /Best-selling thriller author Daniel

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Constructor: Randolph Ross

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: THIRTEE(NC)OLONIES — state abbrevs. for the thirteen colonies are hidden in squares throughout the grid. Inhabitants of those colonies (white ones, anyway), became AMERICAN CITIZENS, I guess, after 1776 (35A: Fourth of July celebrants).

Word of the Day: Christina PERRI (21D: "Jar of Hearts"  singer Christina) —
Christina Judith Perri (born August 19, 1986) is an American singer-songwriter and musician from Philadelphia. Her song "Jar of Hearts" charted in the United States after it was featured on the Fox television show So You Think You Can Dance in 2010. Rolling Stone named her the "Band of the Week" on October 26, 2010. On May 10, 2011, Perri's "Jar of Hearts" was featured in the "Prom Night" episode of Fox musical series Glee; the following month, it was featured in the episode "Dance Amongst Daggers" of ABC Family drama Switched at Birth. Perri recorded the song "A Thousand Years" for the film The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (2011) and it appears on the accompanying soundtrack. (wikipedia)
• • •

I've seen state postal code puzzles like this before—more elaborate and more interesting ones. Not that this wasn't somewhat fun to piece together. Lots and lots of "d'oh" moments as I tried and finally succeeded at pushing my way through all the stuck places. Figuring out "NC" was at the heart of the puzzle was a Big breakthrough, as before that I had the group as THIRTEEN ... OLD something? But "old" was in the clue, so ... I had no idea. Wanted "colonies," but it "didn't fit." Until it did. Most of the other state abbrevs. weren't that hard to come up with once I figured out the theme, which actually happened fairly early. But there was a lot WTF-ery in the fill, esp. in the Proper Noun category. Didn't know either CALIENDO (44A: Impressionist Frank) or SILVA (42D: Best-selling thriller author Daniel ___), so luckily that "I" was totally inferrable. "DARK STAR"? (19A: 1974 John Carpenter sci-fi film)?? Never heard of it. But again, pretty easy to guess / get from crosses. Worst section of the puzzle for me, though, involved this PERRI person. Didn't know OSCINE (though I'm pretty sure I've seen it before) and didn't know PERRI, so RECUR (31A: Come and go) was actually the hardest word in the puzzle for me to get. I hadn't gone back and counted yet, but I thought another colony might be involved. I had OSSINE and RESU(ME) and ... I guess that would've made her name PERMEI ... why not? Seems as plausible as PERRI. I was *stunned* to find out PERRI was contemporary. "Jar of Hearts" is a really awkward-sounding song name, and since it was clear she was only in this puzzle because her name was weirdly spelled, I assumed she was going to be of the bygone variety of entertainer. I mean, if your most famous song is "Jar of Hearts," and I've never heard of it, you must be from some other generation. Which is true. Just ... a generation *younger* than me. Not older. It begins.  I guess now if you have one song that went to #17 (?), you can be in the puzzle?  Still, any way you cut it, PERRI is cruddy fill, and proximity to OSCINE was nasty. FORK OVER was pretty nice, though (4D: Pay), and given the severe strictures of the theme, I'd say this came out OK. Mild thumbs-up.

Wow. Listening to "Jar of Hearts" right now. I have never heard a word or note of this song. I guess this is what happens when a song is famous mainly for being featured on TV shows / movies I have no interest in watching. In fact, if you ever catch me watching "So You Think You Can Dance," you'll know it's time to put me down. You hear that, honey? Down!

  • 13A: Waikiki warbler (DON HO) — "ON HER Majesty's Secret Service" was the thing that tipped me off that something weird was afoot. SCATHE / SCOTTS confirmed it. But back to "NH"—I put in "ON HER" and then thought "what in the world could have an 'NH' in that position?" And here you go. Ho.
  • 22A: Inarticulate comebacks (OHS) — "Inarticulate??" I beg to differ. Oh yes I do. 
  • 42A: Priebus's predecessor as Republican Party chairman (STEELE) — he's now a punching bag at MSNBC. Still, way more likable and far better at that chairman job than Priebus is, that's for sure.
  • 55A: Cheerleader's asset (SPIRIT) — I had 50D: Heed the alarm as RISE (not the correct ARISE) and (thus?) I had this answer as SPLIT. It's *almost* a perfectly good answer.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jackj 12:03 AM  

Well now, thirteen rebuses in this excellent Rebuzzle by Randolph Ross, one for each of the original THIRTEENCOLONIES, with a crossing entry of AMERICANCITIZENS, (and with North Carolina’s NC being the center entry), all that patriotic fill reminds us it is a joyous day in American history, July 4.

Heh, heh, slight misdirection there, it’s actually March 28, but not to fret because historically we have a splendid twofer of memorable events:

1) in 1774 the Brits passed the Coercive Act against MAssachusetts (which caused John Hancock to begin penmanship lessons)


2) perhaps more importantly to today’s solvers, on March 28, 1986 Lady Gaga was born in NY and reportedly was immediately wrapped in swaddling clothes made out of specially imported Genoa salami.

So, yes, it’s a day to remember!

There were some very interesting entries to accommodate the theme rebuses of state initials, New Jersey was found in NI(NJ)A and E(NJ)OY, little Rhode Island needed SPI(RI)T and A(RI)SE and the Granite State cleverly co-opted DO(NH)O and O(NH)ER, (no comment on Maryland’s (MD)CIV).

With the limited space left, the non-theme answers were (VA)RIED and mostly intelligent, featuring such as BLOAT for “Swell”, FORKOVER answering the clue of “Pay” and NOTON meaning “Backstage”.

There were a few clunkers with CALIENDO, POETE and PERRI. Some may complain about including the previous RNC Chairman Michael STEELE or there may be others who aren’t familiar with Daniel SILVA, (who writes one of my favorite fictional thriller series featuring Israeli super spy/world class art restorer, Gabriel Allon), but for me they were all known or “gettable” from their crosses.

Two days in a row of puzzles from constructors who can rightly be tabbed as “pros”; we are blessed!

Frank CALIENDO 12:06 AM  

You know me, I do the immiation of John Madden. I thought you loved all things "frank".

jae 12:11 AM  

This was tough even after getting the rebus.  Briefly thinking Vermont was one of the original colonies didn't help.  

Also started off with NENE for 13a.  Any one else?

Tough crosses:  CALIENDO/SILVA/LAINE ( knew him, did not know him, did know her). 


Liked it because I ENJOY a challenging Thurs., but there seemed to be a lot of somewhat obscure names...SNYDER (he died in 2007 and hasn't been on TV since 1999), STEELE (you have to follow politics or at least watch The Daily Show to know him), LAINE was popular 40 years ago, as @CALIENDO mentioned John Madden is mostly it, PERRI and SILVA (no idea)...  On the plus side URI, the COENs, EDNA, DON HO, and OTTO should be pretty familiar.

syndy 12:12 AM  

Is it fair to hide a theme answer in a RRN? I did not remember the Qlessness of the old phones and that rattled my brains!probably did them some good.Ihad cOnTE and POnTE before POETE! thanks for the workout RR!

Greg Patent 12:13 AM  

I loved this puzzle. Also caught on quickly to the ONHER DONHO cross, and the NC right in the middle is positively brilliant. I agree with jackj--two terrific puzzles in a row. And who knew about Lady Gaga's birthday coinciding with the pub date of this puzzle.

Anonymous 12:14 AM  

Perri might be cruddy fill for old folks. Jar of Hearts has 95M views on YouTube, a fair bit more valid a measure these days than the old #17 on the hit list crap.

A Thousand Years: 89M views
Arms: 20M views
The Lonely: 8M views

Bookdeb 12:25 AM  

Hand up for NENE. Then wondered what kind of songbird a DONHO was until the d'oh moment. And there was no uke in the grid for him!

Like the STOVE over the OVEN and bonus NATIONAL.ZIPCODES. Plenty of SPIRIT in this one.

FearlessKim 12:29 AM  

Crazy little puzzle, and lots of fun, even at a time of >2Rex. So glad to see the challenging rating at the head of the blog!

Just flat-out KNEW "ONHER Majesty's Secret Service", but needed the next rebus-containing gimme at 5D SCOTTS to work out what kind of rebus we were dealing with. And even so, the top of the grid was very patchy for a good long while.

Liked STOVE crossing OVEN, DARKSTAR (though I've never heard of the movie, it looks cool in the grid) and LAINE just because she was a damn good singer.

The total Natick in the SW at the SILVA/CALIENDO/RRN crosses ate many minutes. I guess I'm no @jackj!

"Waikiki warbler" = DONHO! So wanted the usual nene there, but "warbler"? Saved by the rebus! (it didn't work with OSCINE, though...)

Even on the last two squares, got stuck in the Mid-Atlantic on "Sneaker brand" with _U_. Finally ran the colonies and found Massachusetts missing, and there was PUMA to finish the puzzle.

Fun! Thanks, Mr. Ross!

Anonymous 12:33 AM  

Did not know Caliendo, Silva, Laine or Perri. Oscine neither. But I did know Don Ho. This one felt a lot harder than Thursdays usually do...

Rube 1:10 AM  

Challenging indeed! Got the rebus concept, erroneously, at (ON)HER and (SC)ATHE. After realizing the theme, changed it to O(NH)ER and the NW fell into place.

About half-way thru I tested a few guesses with the checker. Had some pretty awful entries until I doscovered that if you have the first letter of a multi-letter square correct, the checker accepts it even though the second letter is incorrect.

OSCINE was pretty nasty... never heard of it. Never heard of PERRI either.. Katy Perry, yes. But then I've also never heard of CALIENDO, LAINE, SILVA, or STEELE, making the SW virtually impossible to solve. Never heard of SNYDER either, but gettable from crosses. I reiterate, I will NOT subscribe to People magazine just so I can get some of these pop culture answers.

adDEd caMDen MAsons 1:18 AM  

super hard but fun!

DIdn't help I caught on to the rebus right away with MA and PA...
which led me to thinking the group was some sort of band (Mama's and Papa's?)
plus I didn't notice I had AMERICACITIZENS, so missed the NC.

Didn't know the same folks others didn't know...CALIENDO, PERRI, SILVA
and once I caught on I thought OSCINE hid SOuth Carolina (SC) but I messed up.
(Also I thought ME Maine was an original colony...)

VAried was my last fill after I ran the alphabet trying to make sense of cRIED, dRIED, fRIED, pRIED, tRIED. OY.

Anyway, I thought this was a triumphant piece of craftsmanship.
Don't understand why Will didn't wait and key it closer to the 4th of July, esp some year it falls on a Thursday.

eNJoy/niNJa crossing I think is a perfect example of how brilliant this puzzle is!

retired_chemist 1:18 AM  

Challenging indeed, even though I didn't fall for the NENE option. It's a goose, and if you ever heard one you KNOW it doesn't warble.

Took me a while to catch on and then a good while to solve even knowing what I was looking for. First thought it was just states since I had made 5A S(CA)THE instead of (SC)ATHE.

Christina PERRI was WTF. Ditto CALIENDO and SILVA, except SILVA was at least a name I have heard of. OSCINE - nope, not in my wheelhouse.

Kept looking for VT and didn't find it. Not one of the thirteen, D'oh.

All in all, good fun but not one I could do quickly. Ever. Thanks, Mr.Ross.

acme 1:23 AM  

@Rube, you don't need People mag...
Google Steele and you'll realize he is familiar from the last election.

And I think some of those who think they do not to know who Tom SNYDER is, if you googled him, you will indeed recognize who he is/was, if not from the TOMorrow show, after the Tonight Show.
Or maybe folks would recognize him from old SNL Dan Aykroyd impersonations. (Who knows? Maybe this CALIENDO guy does him too!)

Davis 1:29 AM  

I've actually seen DARK STAR—it's incredibly silly, so I enjoyed it.

Challenging puzzle, but I plodded through just fine until the SW. I didn't know SILVA, CALIENDO, or LAINE, which left me with three guessing squares (the L, the I, and the V). So that part of the puzzle was disappointing.

Almost got hung up in the NE, but I figured that section out by noting which colonies were missing from my grid. Didn't know PERRI, but I figured her out on crosses.

So overall, I agree with the challenging rating. I mostly enjoyed the puzzle, but I suppose this was technically a DNF for me because it took me a few tries to make the right guesses in the SW.

Carola 2:28 AM  

I'll borrow a "Wow!" from Tuesday's puzzle - thought it was masterful. But man, a struggle. Got off on the wrong foot. After the first few rows of Acrosses yielded me nothing, I looked at the Downs. When I saw that ON HER, SCOTTS and SNYDER all had one too many letters but didn't see any internal rebus possibilities, I parked the O, S, and S outside the grid and thought, "Aha! The OSS, an old, secret group, in hiding!" Then tried to make 7D into something relating to intelligence services. SHEesh.

Finally began to get HEP to the actual theme at PUMA x MASON and then saw how THIRTEE(NC)OLONIES could fit - and went on the hunt for the OTHER twelve. Still found it quite tricky.

Another nice cross: DICTA x ACT ON.

If you read LIED as German for "song," it goes nicely with the cross-cultural POETE just below it.

@jackj - Thanks for the Daniel Silva tip. I'm always looking for new thriller series.

Thank you, Randolph Ross - I really ENJOYed working this one out.

okanaganer 2:47 AM  

What is it about Thursday that always kicks my butt?...once again I took as long or longer than a Friday or Saturday. Maybe I'm just thursdaphobic(sp?)
That area around 42 - 46 was a horrible mud bog: six contiguous names crossing each other! Only one I knew for sure (COEN).

chefwen 2:56 AM  

Caught on early enough with PU(MA) and (MA)sons and thought I was home free. Not so. It was very tricky to find the locations of the rest of the states. My sticking point was in the NE area with POETE and TOREADOR. Husband helped me with a few of the proper names.

A fun puzzle that took some thought. I like that in a puzzle.

Thank you Randolph Ross.

Inverter 2:56 AM  


Keenan Mahoney 2:59 AM  

I actually loved that puzzle, one of my more successful tries at a rebus. Somehow missed MD even though I knew Othello had to be later... and am a baseball fan (CAMDEN Yards). Alas. Also don't understand "Yonder yacht" as SHE... so that I couldn't get since OHS didn't see very inarticulate!

hajjandumrah 3:28 AM  
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Joseph B 3:33 AM  

The source of my DNF was the SW, where used DE instead of MD to complete CAMDEN, forgetting I already used DE in the NW. This gave me the unlikely (but believable) first name of DEDRA instead of EDNA, which of course screwed up LAINE on the down.

DEDRA and LAIRE - I should have known something was wrong down there.

Otherwise an impressive feat of construction, though fairly blah clues and low Scrabble score answers. DARKSTAR was the standout of the puzzle.

Loren Muse Smith 5:58 AM  

What’s not to love about a puzzle with the Tar Heel State at its heart?!

@jae – “nene” and SILVA were my first two entries. Then malapop “her” for SHE. Why the “yonder?” Just alliterative value? I think a SHE could be right smack dab next to me, too, so that clue momentarily confused me.

@FearlessKim – even with SILVA, the southwest kicked my GASSES all the way to TAMPA!

@chefwen – I didn’t see PUMA forever, being very happy with my “Ked.”

But two alphabet runs? Because I had PRS, I had the ridiculous thought that the other would be ABCee to mix it up. (And if you're out there and had the same thought, your thought wasn't ridiculous - only mine. ;-)

What everyone else said about all the proper nouns. (Except SILVA – hey, if you’re not reading UPTON Sinclair, you’re reading someone, right?)

Favorite Onion headline: “NINJA Parade Slips Through Town Unnoticed Once Again.”

Really nicely done. I love that the very center square is a rebus square. But this one FORKED OVER a ROUT for me. Again, I’ll blame my dnf on @Rex – if this site weren’t so fun, I’d be more patient and finish a lot more. It’s just that I just can’t wait to ENJOY Rex’ write up and everyone’s comments.

webwinger 5:59 AM  

Agree that this was quite a workout, but also quite satisfying. Caught on to the rebus with (MA)SON; figured out the theme from 7D clue, which quickly led to _COLONIES and _CITIZENS; still took a while to get the central (and perfect!) NC square. Did recall that ME and VT weren’t among the original 13, though it didn’t make the going much easier. Wanted “nene” for 13A, but couldn’t remember the word; pleased when DONHO emerged from the mist. Tom SNYDER was almost a gimme. Other proper names the price to be paid, I guess, and mostly gettable from crosses (with some confirmatory help from Google). (MD)CIV probably the R-est RRN ever, but somehow redeemed by the rebus.

GILL I. 7:05 AM  

A+ for construction F- for solve.
Gadzooks this was hard! I got that it was a rebus but I kept putting those little two words in the wrong places.
@LMS "Kicked my GASSESS all the way to TAMPA" pretty much sums up my experience. P.S. you canNOT imagine what's going through my head right now...:-)
I just didn't know those proper names - CALIENDO, PERRI, STEELE et al and crosses just didn't help. Google was my hot button today but still could not finish.

Elle54 7:12 AM  

Great fun! Loved it!
" Hey ( 14 yo daughter). Who sings Jar of Hearts? ( song fom last year she was singing and playing around the house)" "Christina PERRY" "oh wait that might be PerrI" " that's ok, I had the I."
Rex, isn't your daughter into pop music yet?
Surprised that so many don't know Frank Caliendo. Seems like he's today's Rich Little.
Had a hard time in NE . Put in nene ? Then changed it to NEHNE ( alternate spelling?) and kept trying to put ME somewhere.

Elle54 7:16 AM  

That would be NW. But finally got it.

Anonymous 7:18 AM  

I especially "enjoyed" the slippery rebuses which might have fit in either direction. Made the fill much less automatic. And especially loved the PRS from the preQ days! Remember when a phone number was WAlnut x-xxxx?
I noticed that the capcha has been breached by a concrete company. "Enjoyed your post. My condolences..."

Milford 7:19 AM  

Hand up for nene, it was the first thing I wrote in the grid!

Loved this puzzle, smelled a rebus at Majesty movie title, and confirmed at the BRINY/SNYDER cross. Amazingly (for me) the two long center NC crosses were quickly filled in, and then it was a rebus hunt.

I did DNF, but my two guesses were the P in PERRI/POETE ( also considered an M) where I chose right, and MDCIV/SILVA, where I guessed MCDIi/SILiA and was wrong.

CALIENDO was an educated guess, no clue who he was. Now I'm sorry to say I do remember him, as one of the most annoying people ever.

Anyway, a fun challenge. And that NINJA/ENJOY cross is pretty awesome.

Off to chaperone my third-grader's field trip to the Ford River Rouge plant.

r.alphbunker 7:48 AM  

Great puzzle.

First two rebuses were MA and PA so I thought the "old group" was the Mamas and Papas. Learned that Maine and Vermont weren't part of the original 13.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:51 AM  

Struck me as almost a Sunday-level effort. That's intended as a compliment in this case. After all, 26 theme entries are a goodly number in a daily grid.

The song at the center of @Rex's write-up reminds me of a remark by (a writer?):

"Those who have met me may find that I have a rough exterior, but I really have the heart of a little boy . . . . I keep it in a jar on my desk."

Horace Fawley 8:02 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:03 AM  

Huh. July 4 will be on Thursday THIS YEAR. must have a doozy lined up for then, if this wasn't good enough to hold.

Horace Fawley 8:03 AM  


Do you suppose Randolph is any relation to Betsy? Seems like the 13 colonies are a sort of family business. HA.

So tricky. So fun.

Z 8:11 AM  

Kate UPTON on the cover, Frank CALIENDO doing his NFL Today impressions, a little baseball from Baltimore's CAMDEN Yards, the Pittsburgh STEELE(rs) having A BALL playing in Super Bowl MDCIV, a TOREADOR bull-fighting in PUMAs while cheerleaders show some SPIRIT... yep, it is another issue of Sports Illustrated disguised as a crossword puzzle.

The RRN as part of the rebus knocks this otherwise fine solve down at least three pegs in my opinion.

joho 8:23 AM  

Took me forever to get the trick even though I knew "Bridge" had to be SPAN. Finally got it a DICTA. After that DONHO appeared and slowly all the rest.

This puzzle is truly a thing of beauty, something a POETE would create.

Randolph Ross this is one for the rebus hall of faME! (Had to get Maine in there even though it's not included!)

Glimmerglass 8:41 AM  

Loved it Caught the rebus with DON HO and ON HER. . . . I lived in Hawaii about the year the novel came out, so both were gimmes and revealed the theme. Didn't know SILVA or CALIENDO, but a) Shakespeare died in 1616, b) I'd already found 13 colonies, and c) SILVA is a common last name here (MA) among descendants of Portuguese seamen. Medium for me.

MetaRex 8:52 AM  

This puzzle pushed my buttons in both a positive and a negative way.

A rant (or is it?) on rebuses, the NYT online site, and Naticks is at A Twofer: N.Y. Times plus N.C. Wyeth rage!

I think there's a sharp difference between this puzzle's quality for CrossWorlders and for RealWorlders. Reflections on that are at
Thumbs Up! And Thumbs Down!

Nancy in PA 9:05 AM  

Once again having teenaged daughters and listening to way too much WPST in the car pays off with PERRI as a gimme. @BobKerfuffle, loved the quote about the heart in a jar. It's Stephen King and a good example of a paraprosdokian-- a term I learned from crosswords. And hand up for thinking "nene" for 13A but rejecting it because geese don't warble. Great puzzle.

Tita 9:09 AM  

Ha!! Lots of fun - thanks RR.
The first 2 rebuses I suspected were sPAn and MAson...
So my first Aha! moment was a MA & PA rebus!
I happily drew in a mom and a dad into those 2 squares...
See my rebus artwork here

Oops - next Aha came after erasing ScoTt, then ScoTS, then finally realizing what was up...

@Rex...I was a cheerleader in Grammar School...when I tried out for hte High School team, I prayed to be asked to do a SPliT - I was one of the few trying out who could. But no, they asked me to do a Russian Jump, which I couldn't. Thus ended my cheerleading career.
So yeah - I wanted that first too...

And final story... Back at the dawn of time, my expat mom was insisting that her sister, still in Portugal, use the new ZIPCODE whenver writing to us.
One day, at the end of one of her letters, she wrote, "I hope you're happy to see I finally used your blessed ZIPCODE, though I don't get why it should help."
Checking the envelope, after tye address block, in all caps, the words ZIP CODE.

Joseph B 9:10 AM  

@Elle54 - Thanks for the comment on Frank Caliendo. When I saw impressionist, I was thinking of the 19th century kind, which I'm sure was the cluers intention.

Caliendo does a perfect John Madden and a decent Shatner, but his other stuff isn't as strong. Bill Hader on SNL I think is better. His Alan Alda is uncanny.

Tita 9:21 AM  

Oops - only got halfway through the comments before posting my own - I see I'm in good company with the MA & PA idea...
Was that deliberate on RR's part?
Clever boy.

@Bob K - thx for the quote
@jackj - thx for the Lady Gaga image...

Elle54 9:35 AM  

@Joseph Yes, all those SNL guys do great impressions. I guess I meant that Caliendo is known for being an impressionist like Little. Can't vouch for the quality. Funny, though!

nanpilla 9:37 AM  

@Tita: love your artwork! And your stories!

Liked how Camden (Yards) has Maryland right in the middle of it. The things you notice when you start to play with words.

SILVA and PERRI were lucky guesses.

True Facts 9:46 AM  

@Rex - Wow, how did you come across that map? It was the election eve map in 1781 when the Articles of Confederation were voted upon, and ratified. It was published by CNN, the Continental News Network.

The text was rather uninformative, as it simply stated: "Red states are split on adoption of the Articles of Confederation, while the great purple unknown, well, no one knows because there be heathens out there".

chefbea 9:50 AM  

Hand up for Ma and Pa. Got Ma right away. New it was thirteen colonies but had no idea my state was right in the middle.

Loved stove and oven crossing.

chefbea 9:50 AM  

make that knew.

Matthew G. 10:00 AM  

A mostly lovely puzzle ruined by the conclave of obscure proper names in the SW. Never heard of CALIENDO, LAINE, or SILVA, and could not remember if Ferber was EDIE or EDNA or what. So I finished with a helpless mess of letters there.

webwinger 10:14 AM  

PA was (still is?) the Keystone State (hence the shape in Heinz product labels) because it was "right in the middle". (Pittsburgh was my second home town growing up.)

CBCD 10:38 AM  

Clue - Escamillo in Carmen.

I think 'Damn I know EVERYTHING I am the Shizzle' and I answer BARITONE.


Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

I'm suffering from a rebus overdose.
I know a goose doesn't warble but frankly I don't think Don Ho does either.
The theme and the grid-spanning answers were good but...
two alphabet runs, a RRN, and WAY too many proper names meant not much fun for this solver. Oh, throw in a pope as well.

I see a robot got in at 3:28.

Lindsay 10:48 AM  

Started with CA(MD)EN yards, so I thought we had a medical rebus. Then got PU(MA), so I thought we had an academic rebus. Eventually figured it out.

Maine was part of Massachusetts from 1652 (Puritan takeover in the wake of the English Civil War) until 1820, when it came in to the Union with Missouri as the free half of the Missouri Compromise.

Cheerio 10:54 AM  

Wow - this was awesome! Thanks Randolph Ross - snazzy alliterative name for a puzzler!

This felt tough in an unusual, refreshing way. Glad to see a puzzle with nary an exe or axe. A low count of 3 letter words is a plus in my book, now that I've memorized so many of those.

Heh, heh, heh. I looked up that Perri lady and thought to myself - hah! Another new generation of young ones comes along. It's happening with the celebrities too. Warning to Rex - you may find that can adapt to absorbing the next generation down - but when it comes around again, you may find that you just don't care anymore. Except that now I do care, for the sake of X-words mainly. Plus, the internet makes it too easy these days.

pmdm 10:56 AM  

Looked at the grid and said to myself "for a Thursday grid, must contain rebuses." As a baseball fan, knew 44D had to have a rebus whose position position was obvious. 7D and 35A and MD made guessing the theme a cinch. So it was hardly fun trying to guess the theme.

As I started in the SW corner, I immediately was confronted by 42A crossing 42D crossing 44A which seemed brutal to me and put me in a really bad mood. Totally ruined any enjoyment I would have had solving the puzzle. Thumbs down for me.

Melodious Funk 11:00 AM  

Mr. Kerfuffle, it was Robert Bloch. Stolen many times.

Sandy K 11:23 AM  

Very challenging, but I E*NJ*OYed the solve!

Hand up for nene before DON HO, rewrite for the NC rebus, never heard of PERRI, SILVA, or CALIENDO- thought of Frank Gorshin...but all were gettable.

Good one, RR!

Unknown 11:23 AM  

I agree with @Carola - a masterful puzzle. Lots of well-deserved love for this one. Lots of aha moments.

There's actually 26 theme answers. That leaves virtually nothing to work with for the constructor in terms of the fill. The fact that the it's is only a bit strained with some obscure proper names in a few places is, well... masterful. Even a little bit of ZIP in some places with CODES, FORK OVER and DARK STAR.

Decided not to include disgusting joke re: Jar of Hearts. Dumb name for a song anyway.

jberg 11:31 AM  

Wow! This one took a long time, as I tried CAM DE N, noticed that you could write SAGA by wrapping it around a corner (and spelling GASSES with one S fewer). I thought for a while the trick was rebuses that worked in only one direction. But finally I got enough crosses to see that 7 D was THIRTEEN something, and the scales fell from my eyes.

I'd wanted DON HO from the beginning (I mean, what other answer wouldn't be impossibly obscure), so was really happy when it became possible.

I just narrowlin escaped an error at the SILVA MDCIV cross, as I first had MDCII (really have to bone up on my Shakespear first performance dates); only just before coming here did I realize SILVA was better than SILiA.

Thank God for POETE, or I'd have got all the way down to UPTON before I could write anything in.

Evan 11:33 AM  

Yesterday I said I would probably get owned on Thursday. Amazingly, I didn't! Get owned, that is. I actually had a pretty fast time for a rebus, though not up to Rex's speed (just under 13 on paper). I'm comin' for ya, Rex!

I'm guessing my time was more a case of getting lucky by catching the theme early on -- it could have easily gone the other way, given that I had an almost completely blank grid a minute or two into solving. I knew something was up right away when ON HER wouldn't fit nicely. What helped in a big way was I figured out the grid-spanners first before all other rebus answers. I wrote in THIRTEEN, but when COLONIES was too long, I just went through the letter combos to find the postal abbreviation, and there was NC right in the middle.

I know Frank CALIENDO, and that helped too -- I'm a big fan of his Charles Barkley impersonation. Didn't know SILVA, or LAINE, or Philadelphia's own Christina PERRI, and certainly not OSCINE (good gravy!). But I got them all on crosses. Like @CBCD, I also had BARITONE before TOREADOR -- I once tried out for a choir by singing Escamillo's "Toreador" solo, but my audition wasn't that good.

In the end, I thought it was a good puzzle -- certainly could not have been easy to cram thirteen rebus squares in a 15x15 grid. Can't say I like SCATHE as an answer, only because I've only heard it as the adjective form SCATHING. If I really wanted to be a purist, I would give the puzzle a tiny demerit for the fact that some of the same postal abbreviations appear elsewhere in the grid. Like the PA in SPAS and PAVE, or the SC in OSCINE, or the DE in SNYDER and ZIP CODES, or the RI in [VA]RIED and BRI[NY] and URI and TRIPS and AMERICA[NC]ITIZENS. It's not a huge deal considering the constraints on the grid -- still, it would have been amazingly awesome if the only places you saw those letter combos were in the rebus squares.

Unknown 11:46 AM  

PS - Would love to see Rex give @jackj a shot in the bigs and let him guest host the blog one day. Imagine waht he could do without the constraints of this little comment box.

I always enjoy jackj, Evan and acme's take on the puzzle. It's like we get 4 blogs per day for the price of one.

Nancy in PA 11:47 AM  

OK, Stephen King took the quote from Robert Bloch (and did attribute it).

evil doug 12:19 PM  



mac 12:27 PM  

Nice workout! I hopped around to start with, but got it theme with Puma early on. I also wanted VT, but that would have been pretty tough, going down and across!

Unusual 5-letter alphabet run in the SW, wanted a rebus so badly.

Had to laugh at Don Ho! Last answer filled in was Scott's/scathe.

Unknown 12:34 PM  

@ED - Ha Ha - constraints in production and formatting, not content

Eric 1:21 PM  

Every now and again, we get great puzzles that are both challenging to solve and offer make us say "OH!" Duh! This puzzle did not disappoint. What did I love about it?
- The NC crossing square in the middle with two 15-letter AND related answers. Awesome construction.
- The NJ/CT diagonal from one another.
- NINJAs!!!!!!
- The complete guessing game as to where the rebused squares were located.
- ABCDE...a gimme. On of the few here.
- RESORT humping RECUR
- The STOVE/OVEN crossing
- HEP cats

One of my favorites in a while. Kudos, Randy Ross.

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

does anybody care these aren't the 13 original colonies?

Chip Hilton 2:03 PM  

Great fun. ONHER also got me going although it took me forever to get DONHO. I just kept looking for something with feathers instead of a lei. Of course, I also had CALIENDO sharing a garret workshop with Monet and Cezanne, but that's the joy of misdirection.

One complaint, which Rex mentioned. No way are OHS inarticulate. I figured uHS was a given which led to a major delay on FORKOVER. Small quibble, though, about an entertaining puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 2:07 PM  

@Anonymous, 1:55 PM - We are all happy to learn new facts or to correct old ideas which are wrong. What did you have in mind? Could you be more informative? Can you direct us to further information? (Also might want to keep in mind that the clue says. "Old group whose members are all represented in this puzzle". The word "original" doesn't appear, and I don't believe we commonly think of Bering Strait crossings, Norse camps, etc etc as a well defined group.)

Carola 2:48 PM  

@Milford - OMG, your comment just clued me in to the unknown-to-me CALIENDO - I'd guessed the spelling correctly but had wondered, "I'm pretty good at art history -why haven't I heard of any Impressionist named CALIENDO?"

retired_chemist 2:56 PM  

No problem for me- I KNOW I don't know any but the most famous impressionist artists. A clever bit of cluing misdirection that went right over my head.

Doc John 3:09 PM  

Wow, 2 naticks in the same word!

Notsofast 3:13 PM  

Calling bullshit on @anonymous.

Lewis 3:19 PM  

I beg your pardon, Rex. So You Think You Can Dance is not about the music, first of all. And the talent is rather good and and entertaining. It's not a perfect show, but I love dance, and enjoy watching this. I never watch that other dance show, with the stars. As I said, I enjoy dance.

I liked having the fork, stove and oven in the same quadrant. The puzzle was good, but not fun for me, not a lot of joy. Still, serviceable and a good brain workout.

@acme -- hopefully Will has a great entry already for 7/4. But I wondered the same thing, thinking this would be good for the holiday.

I did count the rebii and was overjoyed when I hit 13, knowing I could concentrate on words without additions.

@loren -- thanks for sharing the Onion headline, made me laugh!

@tita -- great zipcode story

Sparky 3:27 PM  

I too thought Nenes don't warble so left it for later. Big blank in NE corner. First states MD and MA. Completely misled by Impressionist as artist. HTG 3 times. I hate it when that happens. The NC in the center is neat. Tough but a good workout. Thanks RR.

Good stories @Tita. @Rob C: I thought you were being sarcastic.

jackj 3:35 PM  

From today's NY Times Print Edition Corrections:


The crossword puzzle on Tuesday provided an erroneous clue for 26-Across, seeking the answer “Gee whiz.” The clue should have read, “Wow, you’re a regular expert at turning right!” not “Wow, you’re a regular expert at turning left!”

Time to rethink left v. right for some of us.

Evan 3:46 PM  

Appreciate the kind words, @Rob C.


Thanks for the update on the GEE misunderstanding. If I recall, last year someone (can't remember who) wrote that Will Shortz admitted to six mistakes in the NYT crossword puzzle during his tenure. Does this make number 7?

acme 3:55 PM  

Loved the ZIPCODE story!!! Those are the things you can't make up!!!

Thanks! It's great having a place to respond daily without the obligatory aspect! This blog has re-energized my "other" writing career, having gotten me over the hump of being afraid to write every day (a must if you ever want to accomplish anything as a writer)
The tricky part is it is more often than not an excuse to procrastinate (um, like right now) on my "real" stuff!
Personally, I think @rex is at his best (hilarious, poignant, even sweet) when he shares stories about his early years or wife/daughter or something triggered by the puzzle but not necessarily the criticism of the puzzle itself.

And of course, stories like today's from @tita or @lms tend to make me laugh all day. It's why I miss @foodie's presence.

Totally with you on SYTYCD, I was going to say something about how magnificent those dancers are!!! (but sometimes it's exhausting disagreeing with the host!) ;)

MetaRex 4:02 PM  

Thx much, jackj!

Should this affect our opinion of the Tuesday puzz or not? A Meta-ruling at Gee, what do I think now?

sanfranman59 4:05 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Thu 21:58, 16:58, 1.29, 88%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 14:34, 9:56, 1.47, 92%, Challenging

Unknown 4:06 PM  

@Sparky - No, not meant to be sarcastic. I really enjoy their postings. That's one of the dangers with electronic communications - sometimes sarcasm, humor and other things are lost. That's the reason for emoticons.

jackj 4:12 PM  

Rob C-

Thank you for the kind comment. It's a lot of fun to contribute to the blog and always nice to learn that someone reads my scribbles!

LaneB 4:41 PM  

Delighted to finally finish this toughie with only one error [VHS at 10a making 11d hIESTO--not all that implausible] Enjoyed getting the zipxode theme following 38d. It's not often I score when the puzzle is as tricky as was this one.

Tita 4:44 PM  

@Evan - that woulda been me...!
I came here to confidently lead you to the post on either my blog or Rexville where I listed them...

Alas, I can't find it!

It's not in my Hall of Fame, because they weren't wrong answers, they were wrong clues!

The only one that comes to mind had to do with "As God as my witness, I'll never be hungry again." being the last line of Gone with the Wind.
Will admitted that the fact checker, who had never watched the movie, watched it, and when that climactic moment came, and the screen went dark, he checked the clue/answer as being ok.

It was during intermission at Westport 2012 that he told us those.
I can't believe I can't find it!
Will must have burned all references to his mistakes out of my brain and the interwebz...

Leighton 6:37 PM  

A noisy "warbler" in Waikiki is a myNHa bird. Messed me up. Aloha from Hawaii

sanfranman59 1:03 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 5:52, 6:07, 0.96, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 6:56, 8:20, 0.83, 5%, Easy (9th lowest ratio of 173 Tuesdays)
Wed 10:04, 10:22, 0.97, 43%, Medium
Thu 21:48, 16:58, 1.28, 88%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:29, 3:41, 0.95, 18%, Easy
Tue 4:15, 4:54, 0.87, 9%, Easy
Wed 6:01, 6:08, 0.98, 44%, Medium
Thu 13:41, 9:56, 1.38, 88%, Challenging

Spacecraft 12:04 PM  

I have to say this theme execution is brilliant. The two 16s meeting at a central theme answer--and themselves right on point!--is no less than inspired. So is ENJOY / NINJA.

If criticize I must, I might mention the ugly but necessary Roman year, or a grid that gets a bit name-heavy. Did not know PERRI but got it on crosses. DID know Frank CALIENDO; he does a Dubya that brings tears to your eyes.

Hand up for SCOTT, which I had to write over almost as soon as I wrote it because of the plural in the 22a clue. THAT was my tipoff.

Stared at that NW section for seemingly ever till I AHA!ed at DONHO. I had nothing in there. I did think of SOFA early on, but thought it wasn't right because of the clue ("SOFt seat.") That was the last area I finished--but finish I did.

My writeover, along with the constructor's (new? Come back often!) first name reminds me of an old C&W ditty: "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?"

Solving in Seattle 1:34 PM  

I have to agree with @Spacecraft about Frank CALIENDO's Dubya impression. I caught that one on Letterman a few years ago. This guy is THE best impressionist ever. The first time I heard him was while driving in Seattle and listening to KJR sports radio. I turned it on and the local sports jock was interviewing (I thought) John Madden. By the time I got to my destination I was wiping laugh tears away.

I really liked this puzzle. One tough cookie, and brilliant in several ways. Have to agree that the two long crosses with the rebus NC right in the middle brought a smile to my face. Great job Randolph Ross. Bravo and encore!

Had neNe before DONHO. Caught on to a rebus right away with ONHER but it took most of the puzzle to figure out the theme. baritone before TOREADOR. qRS before PRS.

A Don Ho story: I was bartending at Lucky's Steak House in Waikiki while attending the UH. Late one night there was a fight at the door which I broke up. One guy was on the ground getting beaten a kicked by two others. I took the bloodied man to the back room and cleaned him up as best as I could. The owner, Jeanne Luck came in to see what had happened and took one look at the beating victim and said, "Oh my god, it's Don Ho!" I hadn't seen his show at the International Market Place so I didn't know it was him.

From that day on, I was not ever able to buy a drink at Honey's Lounge where he played. I also saw him when he came to play in Scottsdale where I was in school at ASU, and he recognized me and, sure enough, picked up our bar tab. Really nice guy.

rain forest 2:38 PM  

Nailed the due North which gave the THIRT__, and oddly, DONHO was myi first thought, and so SC and NH clued me in. Now, as a Canadian, I didn't know all the 13 colonies, so I struggled, but eventually got everything.

Question for syndi-types: How do you figure that LAYS is a "wise alterntative"? I put in the "S" because of SANS, but I still don't get the cross, unless there is a potato chip made by Wise, which I wouldn't know.

Waxy in Montreal 2:47 PM  

Challenging rating must have been due to some of the more obscure fill, especially names, as I've rarely seen a theme revealed so quickly on a Thursday. DONHO & ONHER immediately provided the NH, indicating additional state abbreviations to come which was quickly substantiated (in my case) by the MD in the Yards/Othello cross. Helped then to jot down the remaining 11 abbrev.'s and actively search for them.

Historical note from part of the former British North America: according to Wikipedia, "at the time of the (Revolutionary) war Britain had seven other colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America: Newfoundland, Rupert's Land (the area around the Hudson Bay), Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, East Florida, West Florida, and the Province of Quebec...which remained loyal to the crown." So, technically, the Old Group referenced in the clue for 7D could have been resulted in an answer of TWENTYCOLONIES. Would have made for one tough Thursday puzzle though!

DMGrandma 4:03 PM  

Off to a slow start, I didn't get the rebus until GASSES, but with THIRT....showing at the top, leading to the wonderful NC center cross, looking for the abbreviations became pretty obvious. Though I admit I spent sometime wondering where Maine was before it dawned on me, it wasn't! OSCINE popped up from my puzzling past, and crosses sorted Lewis from UPTON Sinclair. But names eventually did me in. I ended with the S_LiA mess. Two squares off today. And tomorrow...?

Like @rain forest, I don't understand the use of LAYS, and is CAMDEN yards a baseball thing?

Waxy in Montreal 4:53 PM  

@rain & @DMG: Wise and Lays are both snack brands - in particular, potato chips.

@DMG: yes a baseball thingee, CAMDEN Yards is (are?) the home of the Baltimore Orioles of the American League.

Ginger 5:38 PM  

This is what a puzzle should be, Tough and twisted. I needed to stretch the gray matter, and still DNF. Missed the 'S' at LAYS, and still don't get it.

@SIS thanks for the DONHO story. There are a lot of geese around here, they don't sing, they honk, loudly.

Gibger 5:41 PM  

Thanks @Waxy, for explaining LAYS. I've heard of them, but have never heard of Wise. Must be a geographical brand.

Dirigonzo 6:13 PM  

The week of fun-filled, clever puzzles continues. I picked up on the rebus and the theme early so I made a list of the colonies (I actually remembered all of them - eventually) and solved the grid with an eye out for answers that needed an extra letter. The POETE/PERRI cross was a lucky guess to finish the puzzle.

Spacecraft 6:37 PM  

I used to live 8 miles down the road from the parent Wise Potato Chip plant in Berwick, PA. It never dawned on me that would be a problem for so many.

Syndi Solver 6:45 PM  

Wow, this was a lot of fun! But it was a DNF for me. I couldn't figure out the C in CALIENDO and CAMDEN. I think it's a fair cross I just didn't know either of them.

For those in syndi-land who might still be reading this, and who have never seen the movie Dark Star, here's a scene where a crew member tries to convince the "smart bomb" not to explode by using philosophy.

Syndi Solver 6:48 PM  

Oops! I messed up that link in my last comment - left out the initial part so it did it as a relative link. D'oh!

Here's the link to the clip from Dark Star

strayling 7:57 PM  

Big fat DNF here. Never figured out the theme, although I was sure one was hiding in there. I learned a bit more American history today, so in that sense I won a half full glass of lemonade.

strayling 7:59 PM  

Dark Star is one of my favourite movies of all time. A rare example of the film being better than the book.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

I saw 2 comments about an RRN. What am I missing? I loved this puzzle, particularly that the rebus answers were not symmetrical.

Pope Olaf Olav Leo MDCIV 1:01 PM  

@anon9:20 - RRN means Random Roman Numeral.(MD)CIV at 54A is a pretty Random Roman Numeral, perhaps even the "R-est RRN" ever.

Anonymous 8:46 PM  

Awfully easy I thought. at least for a regular solver who knows to look for such things. With virtually nothing in the grid, one look at the clues for 35a and 7d seemed to indicate a 1776 theme, PU[MA] gave me the rebus, and hence THIRTEEN COLONIES (with NC in the center square)rather than BRITISH COLONIES, and the rest came rather rapidly. Only misstep for me was not revisiting MCIi/SILiA.

Some nice Easter eggs, with (DARK)STAR, NATIONAL, and SPIRIT. All I can say is there must be a pretty good one coming on July 4 (also a Thursday) for this one to be buried in March.

IT104 Blog 2:10 AM  

Everyone, we get great puzzles that are both challenging to solve and offer make us say "OH!" Duh! This puzzle did not disappoint. What did I love about it?

- The NC crossing square in the middle with two 15-letter AND related answers. Awesome construction.
- The NJ/CT diagonal from one another.
- NINJA!!!!!!
- The complete guessing game as to where the rebused squares were located.
- ABCDE...a gimme. On of the few here.
- RESORT humping RECUR
- The STOVE/OVEN crossing
- HEP cats

One of my favorites in a while. Kudos, Randy Ross.

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