Gulf of Aqaba resort city / FRI 11-28-14 / Trading insider Boesky / Space blanket material / Italian port on the Tyrrhenian Sea / Theater magnate Marcus / Mother of the Freedom Movement, to friends / Tolkien protagonist

Friday, November 28, 2014

Constructor: Tracy Gray

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: BLACK FRIDAY (56A: Time of annual madness … or a hint to four squares in this puzzle) — rebus in which "SALE" appears in four different squares.

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: ESALEN (64A: Big Sur institute) —
The Esalen Institute, commonly just called Esalen, is a retreat center and intentional community in Big Sur, California, which focuses upon humanistic alternative education. Esalen is a nonprofit organization devoted to activities such as personal growth, meditation, massage, Gestalt, yoga, psychology, ecology, spirituality, and organic food. The institute offers more than 500 public workshops a year, in addition to conferences, research initiatives, residential work-study programs, and internships.
Esalen was founded by Michael Murphy and Dick Price in 1962. Their goal was to explore work in the humanities and sciences, in order to fully realize what Aldous Huxley had called the "human potentialities".
Esalen is located about 45 miles (72 km) south of Monterey and nine miles (14 km) north of Lucia. Esalen is situated on 120 acres of Big Sur coast. The grounds were once home to a Native American tribe known as the Esselen, from which the institute got its name. (wikipedia)
• • •

A puzzle to celebrate idiotic consumerism. Great. Fantastic.

Even if I didn't find the "madness" this puzzle is celebrating slightly repugnant, even if I was a huge love of BLACK FRIDAY shopping, I would still have found this puzzle wanting. There were a couple big reasons for this:

  1. It's just a SALE rebus. I mean, that's it. Straight. Basic. Kind of dull. If you're going to have a revealer like BLACK FRIDAY, it seems like you could exploit black squares or the letters FRI or something, anything interesting. That's certainly what a Fireball or American Values Club or other high-end independent outlet would've done. Something truly creative. This is simply a SALE rebus. Four SALEs. I do not see how this is an adequate way to represent a self-described "Time of annual madness." Four SALEs is not madness. It's barely Presidents' Day weekend.
  2. While the theme does get us a couple nice rebus-containing answers (SALEM'S LOT, and, especially, NEWS ALERT), it also gets us dreadful old crosswordy answers like the ADAM'S ALE / ESALEN crossing, and the improbable and utterly uncrossworthy middle-name version of Rosa Parks's name. Also, SALEM and JERUSALEM are too related to inhabit the same grid. Salem, in the bible, is the "royal city of Melchizedek, traditionally identified with Jerusalem." This is where other SALEMs get their name. I consider JERUSALEM and SALEM dupes. Bad form.

Fill overall is middling, with EILAT and SHMO being the most irksome stuff (though that ALOHAS MESON SYST bank is pretty rough, too). Most of the rest is solid, but none of the non-theme stuff really shines. The main difficulties in this puzzle were a. figuring out that there was a theme at all (who's looking for it on Friday?), and b. just finding out where those four squares were. I didn't know until quite late that there was a theme. I had almost all the N and NE worked out. But I had SPRINGS A - (crossing NEWS RT, which I didn't blink at). So I thought there was a rebus of some kind, but from where I was sitting, it looked like the rebus was "LEAK." Then I scanned the clues to see if there was a revealer, and found it, and then things got much easier from there. The cluing is really uninspired on this one. I'm looking around for clues to single out for praise, and honestly don't see any. Seems like your big blow-out BLACK FRIDAY puzzle should be bolder and more creative than this. So many people will be working the puzzle today—what the hell else are you gonna do, stuck at home with the family you've already spent so much time with? Why not give solvers something daring, bold, and truly tricky?
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Anonymous 12:20 AM  

    Never have I ever heard of the expression "Adam's ale". Even after getting this as the final remaining rebus out of four, I was thinking the "water" clue must be some kind of weird dig at Samuel Adams beer.

    Rex wants a "truly tricky" puzzle on a night when many people are tripping on tryptophan after a long day? No thanks, this one was adequate.

    mathguy 12:26 AM  

    I love rebuses and this is a pretty good one.

    Not crazy about ROSALEEPARKS crossing EILAT. Hadn't heard of the resort city or that she had a middle name. But that didn't spoil it.

    Good crunch, some clever cluing, a few fresh entries (JERUSALEMCROSS).

    jae 12:29 AM  

    Easy-medium for me.  Caught the rebus when it had to be SALERNO and Bag before BED was my only erasure.  ERIC CARLE was a WOE. 

    Nice change of pace for a Friday.  Liked it more than Rex did.  Seemed to me that, in addition to theme entries, HOT LICK, BARDOT, HARLEY, KAT, BICARB, ADELE...contributed some zip.

    However, this week's AV Club offering was more daring, tougher, and trickier.

    Hartley70 1:33 AM  

    I'm happy! Finally some ADAMSALE (never heard of it either) after a very long rebus drought. I got the rebus after SPRING AND AK. Then it wasn't too hard to find. I had the most trouble with the left side because both EILAT and JERUSALEMCROSS were complete unknowns. Not the easiest Friday by far for me and most least as any puzzle could be at 1:30am with postprandial indigestion..otherwise known as "I can't believe I ate the whole thing!"

    AliasZ 2:02 AM  

    Oh look, a themeless Friday puzzle with a theme. Cool!

    I liked the fact that the grid was not overrun by too many theme entries and rebuses thus causing the fill to suffer. True, the EILAT | ROSA LEE crossing was tough, I also did not know the ESALEN Institute but here knowing ADAM'S ALE helped me out. Overall, I give two thumbs up to Tracey Gray for this puzzle.

    I enjoyed the fill too, especially the NE/SW corners, with the 8-stacks, and some yummy WORDS like BARDOT (what ABROAD she was ONCE!), TEAKETTLE, SUPINE, TESLA COIL, MYLAR/RAYON in the SE and the ASCETIC/HOT LICK pair.

    I am sure some of us could use a little BICARB after yesterday's overindulgence, and won't be visiting an IHOP any time soon.


    You cannot talk about trains represented in music without mentioning Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) and the "Toccata" from his Bachianas brasileiras No. 2, subtitled O trenzinho do caipira (The Little Train of the Caipira) [caipira = country bumpkin, yokel, hillbilly, redneck, hick]. I strongly urge everyone who is not familiar with this piece to give it a listen. You will be transported through the Brazilian countryside aboard a little train drawn by a steam locomotive.

    Have a great trip, and a happy Friday.

    George Barany 2:26 AM  

    Congratulations to @Tracy Gray on her tenth New York Times puzzle. Many people consider 10 as the threshold number to reach OLD_PRO/VETERAN constructor status! So for sure, solvers were thrown a curve, not expecting a rebus on a Friday. Then again, there were Friday-tough crossings and clues, as already pointed out in @Rex's review.

    I was rather pleased to be able to retrieve from long-term memory the name of the author of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" which was a regular staple of bedtime reading when my now-adult kids were still toddlers. In view of the tensions in Ferguson, it was sobering to be reminded of a civil rights pioneer from an earlier era, albeit one whose middle name is not taught in the history books.

    BLACK_FRIDAY also marks the US opening of the Alan Turing biopic "The Imitation Game," starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Yesterday's hard-copy paper, below the fold on page 25, ran a half-page ad that included a puzzle from 1942 that was purportedly used to recruit code-breakers to Bletchley Park. Our friend Ralph Bunker has posted that puzzle, along with some analysis, at this site. Several experts at cryptic puzzles solving and construction were consulted in this undertaking.

    Moly Shu 3:18 AM  

    Except for EILAT and ESALEN, Monday easy here. Liked a theme and rebus on a Friday. Good one.

    Danp 6:14 AM  

    I'm not sure I ever heard of Eilat, which is no excuse for letting Rabat ruin my chances in the SW.

    I did think the SNL clue was clever. Hot lick, on the other hand, strikes me as a term Grandpa might use to sound hip when talking to the kids.

    r.alphbunker 7:09 AM  

    The theme worked for me. On Black Friday you try to find the SALEs.

    Wrote ROALDDAHL in immediately as the author of the "Very Hungry Catepillar"

    Jim Walker 7:27 AM  

    Walking across the border from Aqaba to EILAT is like time traveling across hundreds of years. The former is the dusty, mysterious fortress city, a take-off point for a journey to Wadi Rum, where Lawrence of Arabia was filmed, or to the ancient silk-road city of Petra. The latter is a modern, hip, Israeli tourist and scuba diving center. Both deserving of a visit, and a mention in xwords.

    Although I agree strongly with OFL about the obscenity of Black Friday, it is a thing. Thus I thought the use of SALE was appropriate and clever.

    chefbea 7:42 AM  

    A lot I didn't know but it was fun trying to find all the many people will be doing today. I might indulge though and go to the MAC store and get the I phone 6...a great price....unfortunately @Mac won't be there.

    Shout out to Rex at I-hop!!

    Dorothy Biggs 7:50 AM  

    As a "Non-constructor, long-time solver, comments-poster with an opinion," I agree with Rex that this could have been so much more. I don't know what, but I know I was looking for it. I got the SALES rebus, but kept expecting the other shoe to drop, aka "madness." In fact, if there was any "madness" at all to be had, it was scuttled by the revealer pointing out the number of rebus squares. No mystery, no madness...just kind of a simple, entry level Thursday solve. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but back to the point: this could have been so much more.

    I didn't notice ESALEN and I'm glad I didn't. EILAT does not sound Aqaba-like. Those two answers were probably what made this a Friday puzzle.

    It seems like whenever there is a SALE rebus, SALERNO and ADAMSALE shows up.

    I thought KOI and ROI were weird to have in the same puzzle.

    Otherwise, puzzle.

    I might go out and get my annual clothes shopping done...for myself...since everything appears to be cheaper today. Or maybe I should wait for Cyber-Monday?

    Carola 8:17 AM  

    Quite challenging for me, and fun to figure out. I got off on the wrong foot by filling in the entire word JERUSALEM, leaving me two squares for what I assumed would be a rebus. I crossed the S with S[ALER]NO, which didn't work with the OLD PRO cross, so the "ERR" ALERT went off. Abandoned the area and pressed on.

    Didn't catch on to the SALE idea until (thank God for the old crossword stalwart) ADAM[SALE], and then all the "madness" made sense. I've never read Stephen King, so was glad to have heard of [SALE]MSLOT. Besides BLACK FRIDAY, I liked NOSHES as an apt post-Thanksgiving entry.

    evil doug 8:17 AM  

    H2O subtheme: Ladle next to Adams ale is kinda cool, with steams, Rio, Cape Cod, abroad, Arno, alohas, tea kettle, koi and spring a leak also tangentially in play.

    Fun for me.


    evil doug 8:21 AM  

    ... Also ria and hot lick from Kat.


    evil doug 8:23 AM  

    Her show sucks, but I'd drink Kat's bathwater.


    AugustJune 8:30 AM  

    A tough one for me, partly because the iPad app says you're correct with just the first letter of a rebus, so I scratched my head at Stephen King's SMSLO... for some time. NE was the hardest area, just got no traction at all until I finally pieced together teakettle and things started to fall into place. Getting tired of seeing RIa almost as often as Ore. BLACK FRIDAY came quickly but the trick was finding the sales. Never heard of Carle.

    Nancy 8:37 AM  

    Definitely not what I've come to expect for Friday puzzle, but not bad over all. I, too, didn't care for the Rosalee/Eilat crossing - that was a tough part.

    XXX Part - TAC?? Could someone explain this to me?

    evil doug 8:47 AM  


    Dorothy Biggs 8:48 AM  

    @Nancy: XXX = Tic TAC Toe

    Nancy 9:03 AM  

    @evil doug and @NCA President - Duh! not enough coffee yet this morning maybe. (Or my head was just in the wrong place.) Thank you!

    John Child 9:17 AM  

    I was aNOID by the NE crossing of the caterpillar author and BEGAT. BEGoT sounded better to me, and having no idea of the author's name left me with a DNF. A quick dictionary check shows both to be past tense of beget, with the begat form marked as archaic in many sources. Google Ngram viewer shows the two neck and neck in usage over the last hundred years, so maybe it's just sour grapes because I guessed wrong. Otherwise I thought this was a little easier than yesterday's puzzle, and good fun.

    Anonymous 9:20 AM  

    My wife (a far better puzzler than I) thinks Rex has become a wee bit jaded. I agree. This wasn't a bad Friday challenge, though if I can solve it, it warrants no more than an easy-medium rating.

    Teedmn 9:21 AM  

    I had fun with this puzzle. I was so happy to see a rebus after my disappointment in not getting one yesterday that I didn't look for any further excitement from the execution. I thought something funky was going on when 17A didn't really click, but SALEMSLOT gave me the rebus.

    I agree that the revealer shouldn't have given the 4 squares away. That took away much of the mystery, though I didn't see it till I was mostly done so....

    I liked the clue for ALOHAS, having ROI, RIO, RIA and KOI was fun, TBAR and SKEE :-). I Had Sired before BEGAT but BED helped that out. AllPRO before OLDPRO, cut before SET. Nothing too STYMIEing except I had a technical DNF because I just couldn't suss NEW SALE RT - I was thinking it should be NEW SALE AT and didn't think ERIC CAaLE was impossible. NEWS ALERT didn't fall until I read the comments here. Thanks for a fun BLACKFRIDAY puzzle, Tracy Gray, and good luck to all the bargain hunters - I'm staying home with the new inch of snow we got overnight.

    Anonymous 9:22 AM  

    ERICC?RLE and BEG?T were a Natick for me since BEGAT and BEGOT are perfectly acceptable answers and I'd never heard of Eric Carle.


    Maruchka 9:22 AM  

    It seems that, in NYC anyway, there is a new tourist attraction - BLACK FRIDAY. Of course, it all began on T-Day.. trains were chock full of bags and boxes and bodies yesterday.

    Neighborhood streets had a lovely and quiet emptiness. Rare, these days.

    I agree with @Rex on the clueing. Fortunately, ESALEN, SALEMS LOT and JERUSALEM were early gimmes, and served the fill-in well. Onward, New-Age Soldiers!

    Fav of the day - HOT LICK. Link to Dan Hicks:

    @Carola - Happy NOSHES day, indeed.

    BTW: Made my first-ever steamed persimmon pudding for the feast, and it came out just fine. A tasty alternative to pie.

    joho 9:25 AM  

    @Nancy, Tic TAC Toe.

    Perfect day to run this expected rebus! I got it at SALEMSLOT and thoroughly enjoy seeking out the SALES from that point on. Turns out I DNF with one square wrong with BEGaT (I can't be the only one, can I?)

    I loved it -- thank you, Tracy Gray -- and congratulations on your new OLDPRO status!

    joho 9:30 AM  

    Sorry about my redundant remarks, posting on my phone is slow going compared to me typing at my keyboard!

    jberg 9:32 AM  

    I was really proud at dredging up the name of ERIC CARnE -- until I came here and was reminded that it was CARLE. Moral: keep checking the crosses until they make sense! I was so sure of the N that I even considered whether SNL had a writer named Best (until it showed up elsewhere in the grid).

    Aside from that, the hardest thing was realizing it was a Thursday rebus on a Friday. Shows the advantage of not getting into a mental rut, since a BLACK FRIDAY puzzle does need to be on a Friday.

    Even when I saw the revealer, I was thinking the basketball 'madness' of March; I even considered 'march of ides,' if only the F had been one square later. What a rabbithole that would have been, @Casco!

    Major gripe with the puzzle: the clue "Charles for one" = ROI. It should have been "Charles for nine" to be accurate (although also too easy). More ambiguous, "Charles, e.g."

    Unknown 9:33 AM  

    I could understand that Rosa Parks' friends call her Rosalee, but under what circumstances would her friends call her Rosalee Parks?

    Unknown 9:35 AM  

    I prefer AliasZ's write-up to Rex's today.

    Eilat helped me parse what was happening with RO(sale)EPARKS. We visited Eilat in the early 90's while in Israel for a friend's wedding. It is a lovely natural playground with springs, trails, waterfalls and crossword-friendly IBEX sightings.

    Unknown 9:36 AM  

    Damn. BEGoT/ERICCoRLE. 75 minutes to get the rebus, off (SALE)MSLOT and JERU(SALE)MCROSS. Great puz. Wish I knew the difference between BEGAT and BEGoT.

    Latest iPad app now asks me, every day it seems, "Are you sure you want to out yourself as an idiot?" whenever I check my solution. Surely, that feature should be user selectable.

    Ludyjynn 9:37 AM  

    The most significant BLACKFRIDAY event, IMO, is that many animal rescue organizations around the country, including the SPCA in your state, are having a SALe on all animals whose fur is primarily black in color. These animals are not as readily picked, so the adoption fee is being waived today! Please spread the word to anyone you know who may want to add a family member for the holidays.

    My cat, Felix, is black w/ a small patch of white on his neck, and is the sweetest boy. His predecessor, Lucky, an all black kitty, was retrieved by me from cage no. 13 at the Md. SPCA. She was also extraordinary. Maybe they know they have to try a little harder to get a forever home.

    I liked this puzz. except for the ADAMSALE clue and got the theme early on. Found it med.-chall., a good Friday workout.

    ALOHA, All. Be careful out there.

    Thanks, TG and WS.

    retired_chemist 9:47 AM  
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    retired_chemist 9:49 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    old timer 9:51 AM  

    I thought it was a good puzzle. I found it easy-medium for a Friday, which can be a DNF day sometimes. It did help that I was a fan of Dan Hicks and his HOT LICKs. Helped also that I got the rebus early, when I had Jeru -- cross.

    retired_chemist 9:51 AM  

    @chefbea - I woudn't bet on your finding an iPhone 6 at the Apple Store today. The one here has been perpetually sold out in store and the 6 is available only by placing an order and waiting a few weeks. I heard Best Buy locally has them but can't verify. I was supposed to get one for my birthday but we haven't found one to check out yet. Not sure if I want the 6 or the phablet.

    Speaking of birthdays, mine in September is the same as Brigitte BARDOT's, a fact I have treasured ever since I learned it. If I had known it in the summer of 1957 when I saw AGCW as a recent HS graduate, I would have flipped.

    They NYT app gave me a correct solve even though I had just the S for ADAMS/ESN. I thought ADAMS was another name for ADAM'S ALE, and wondered that the Institute was ESN instead of EST, which is still west coast but was something different. So DNF even though the NYT thinks I did.

    Found it tricky enough and interesting enough for a Friday despite not usually liking rebuses or expecting one today. Cute clue for TAC. Expected to see complaints about the obscurity of TESLA COIL, which was easy here but only because I used one many times. Not one so far....

    ERIC CARLE - needed all crosses. ADELE - a blind guess after a couple of crosses.

    Thanks, Ms. Gray.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:04 AM  

    OK puzzle to me; happy to get our Thursday rebus on Friday.

    Noted the ambiguity of BEGAT/begot, but CARLE seemed way more likely than CORLE.

    But one might ask, what investment does one make, the return on which is a Charles?

    wreck 10:09 AM  

    Hand up for the BEGAT/BEGOT - CARLE/CORLE Natick. I wasn't expecting a Friday rebus, so it took me awhile to start hunting it down. SALEMSLOT was the tip-off.

    Lewis 10:24 AM  

    I learned ADAMSALE, was helped by knowing ERICCARLE. I would have liked more clever cluing; I expect at least two or three on a Friday. That said, I had to work hard on this one, with the southwest and middle giving me a struggle. And I love that hard work!

    I remember when I was new to solving seeing some mentions here about a "second sense" that clues the solver that a rebus is going on. I didn't get that then but I get it now.

    pmdm 10:44 AM  

    AliasZ: You are quite right. I knew I was forgetting one of the famous locomotive musical depictions, but because I needed to cook dinner I didn't have time to look it up. So thanks for completing the list.

    I just have to include a link to the Alkan piece. I have to smile whenever I listen to it, is't so absurdly fast. I own most of Alkan's piano music so I've read this one through, though hardly at the speed of this recording. I am in awe of the execution of some of the right hand leaps (which you can see since this You Tube posing includes the music.

    If I wanted to provide somebody with an example of something dour, I might use today's write-up. If I continue, someone might be able to use my comments as an example of something unkind, and I don't want to go there. So good listening.

    pmdm 10:56 AM  

    Forgot to include my comment to NCA President. Your remark about the metronome and tempo markings is of course correct. That's why I talked about tapping one's foot instead of tempo markings. The natural rate of tapping one's foot better describes the feeling of the tempo than the composer's tempo marking. Wasn't it Stravinsky who actually stopped using words to describe the tempo and used the metronome marking exclusively in his latter works>

    Whirred Whacks 11:02 AM  

    Medium-challenging for me.

    Before I recognized the rebus, for 34A ("Many an informative tweet"), I had


    which makes more sense within the context of Twitter than the actual answer of


    BLACKest thing about today was the ugly 49er loss last night. :-(

    I'm enjoying the day at home with family up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Hope you enjoy yours too!

    L 11:27 AM  

    Eilat is a fantastic beach resort city. Go!

    Lewis 11:34 AM  

    Factoid: The JERUSALEM CROSS consists of a Greek cross (looks like a plus sign) with crossbars on each end, and in each of the four quadrants formed is a smaller Greek cross. Explanations for the symbolism of the five crosses include the five wounds of Christ, Christ and the four quarters of the world, and Christ and the four evangelists.

    Quotoid: "If the RATE of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, it would have recollapsed before it reached its present size. On the other hand, if it had been greater by a part in a million, the universe would have expanded too rapidly for stars and planets to form." -- Stephen Hawking

    Anonymous 11:34 AM  

    How did Rosa Louise McCauley Parks morph into Rosalee? Did this puzzle's creator just decide to give her a new nickname?

    RAD2626 11:35 AM  

    @pmdm and @ AliasZ

    On trains, also consider Steve Reich's extremely moving Different Trains for string quartet and tape which includes actual train sounds and background commentary by Holocaust survivors. The Kronos Quartet made a wonderful recording of the work.

    I enjoyed the puzzle and thought it fairly easy for a rebus.

    Bird 11:35 AM  

    Yay rebus. Boo execution. I too was looking how black squares fit in or possibly hidden Fridays, but disappointed in discovering the theme at 10D.


    Mohair Sam 11:37 AM  

    Liked this one a lot. Played medium for us except in the NW where it was challenging. Probably because I have never seen a SHMO as an average guy (my brother-in-law uses it like Schmuck), and I have never seen ScHMO as that variant.

    Like many I stay away from shops on Black Friday, but the existence of the day bothers me not in the least. Perfect theme - it's Black Friday, you find the SALES.

    Unlike @Rex I do not know ADAMSALE from crosswords, but rather from having heard water described as such many times. I'm betting that for most of us the term is not at all crosswordy.

    Very clever cluing today and a couple of nifty answers (HOTLICK, and TESLACOIL stand out - talk about fresh).

    No problem with SALEMSLOT and JERUSALEM in the same puzzle. Somebody get @Rex a drink.

    mathguy 11:53 AM  

    @Whirred Whacks: I feel your pain. I think that the Harbaugh-Kaepernick era is coming to an end.

    Masked and AnonymoUs 12:28 PM  

    har. What a sad-soundin guitar break... one HOTLICK? Reminds me of the puz's U-count.

    The first corner conquest was the NE, slowed only by LOEb and the hungry bug dude. SALE-d seemlessly into the rebusfest, at 10-D, assisted by a quick peek at 56-A. Really like themed FriPuzs. themedafterallthUmbsUp.

    Weejects were a pretty well-behaved little lot, today. But little gentle whiffs of desperation were admirable, here and there:

    * ESALEN. Now there's a themer with some hard bark on it.
    * EILAT. Roseilat, to friends.
    * NOID. Did the dude kicked out of the bar then have noid rage? Is a fake idcard that says "McLovin" on it constitute POID? I smell a runtpuz theme, here...
    * TBAR. Top ten reasons to be kicked out of a TBar... ah, but then I would perhaps overdigress...
    * RFDS. Juicy plural abbr. of convenience. Thanx, Tracy. And congrats, on yer tenth rodeo. Qualifies U for the constructioneer's rest home, whenever U turn 70 or use PEWIT twice in a puz -- whichever comes first.


    mac 12:37 PM  

    Took me a while to figure out it was a rebus. Just didn't expect it on a Friday. All in all, M to me.

    @chefbea: Hope your bird turned out ok! Good luck with the 6, apparently they're hard to come by in CT as well.

    So nice: we had Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant in NY late yesterday afternoon, and it was fantastic. On the way out we were handed bags with turkey sandwiches, French dressing and cranberry sauce because we didn't have leftovers at home!

    dk 1:10 PM  

    🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

    Very funny. Like yesterday a great little trick for the t-dazed and confused.

    Buried and cooked turkeys came out great. Tender and moist birds made carving unnecessary. Don't need no teef neither.

    Off to the annual Barbie Shoot.

    M and A News Desk 1:11 PM  

    Update. I am being told by a semireliable source that they have recently yanked that cruciverbalist retirement home age requirement up to 78, due to overcrowdin. 72, if U can no longer dream up any decent puz themes.

    "Keepin It Accurate-Soundin"

    nuzzle put 1:32 PM  

    With youse guys on the ROSA LEE answer... could find no authentication of such a contrived SALE entry. Makes me want to cancel my long running contribution to the NYT electronic version and place it with BEQ if this is the best editing job we can expect!

    Dorothy Biggs 1:35 PM  

    @mathguy: Wait, what? There was a Harbaugh-Kaepernick era? I thought eras were longer than 5 years?

    M and A Lee 1:41 PM  


    ** themeless gruntz **


    Unknown 2:01 PM  

    Isn't anybody tired of cutesy comments on NYT puzzles? The bloggers are more interesting sometimes. Rebus, natick, who cares?! More fun to do the puzzle with pencil in the paper, than trying to figure out constructors thoughts when composing computer layout! .Sorry, Rex. I'm an English major and even you sound bored!

    Anonymous 2:12 PM  


    Rosa Lee McCauley Parks Facts

    On December 1, 1955, Rosa Lee Parks (née McCauley; born 1913) refused to relinquish her seat to a white passenger on a racially segregated Montgomery, Alabama bus. She was arrested and fined but her action led to a successful boycott of the Montgomery buses by African American riders....

    bookmark 2:47 PM  

    @M&A: I am thankful for your comments. You say so much in so few words that get to the heart of the puzzle. And you make me laugh out loud. You're the main reason I read this blog.

    Why Not Have It Both Ways? 3:13 PM  

    The Guardian says,

    "· Rosa "Lee" Louise Parks, civil rights campaigner, born February 4 1913; died October 24 2005"

    Zeke 3:15 PM  

    @Anon 2:12 - Your reference sucks. Her middle name was Louise. Her name was Rosa Louise McCauley Parks. Maybe her mother called her Rosa Lee, but that's not her name.

    Questinia 3:34 PM  

    @ Z moral authority
    ... to elicit "normative behaviors" in the cafeteria.

    If I were to ever construct a puzzle it would be sure to have the word

    ...♨︎ Glögg ♨︎..

    in it.

    Z 3:48 PM  

    We were always more Sandra Boynton than Eric Carle, but no real issue there. RO(SALE)EPARKS was new to me, but I'm guessing is defensible with that "to friends" tacked on. "Z" is in no way my actual name but more people on the planet call me that or "Mr. Z" than call me by my given prenom, so that a cultural icon might be called something else by friends is hardly noteworthy.

    I've said it before and I'll probably say it again, comparing the NYTX to any of the independents is not a fair comparison. To use my beer metaphor, IPA's are always better, but brewer's of IPA's have a freedom to experiment with bitterness because they aren't trying to please everybody. Would I ever introduce a new beer drinker to good beer with a Two-Hearted Ale? Only if I want to dissuade them from ever trying IPA's again.

    Leapfinger 4:17 PM  

    Glorioski! A themed Friday rebus!! What more could we ask on a festive weekend?

    This OLDPRO MAW started with the MAJOR NW WORDS, but soon ran into trouble with JERicho ROSe, a Christian symbol which I believe is related to the Rose of Sharon. Also thought the 31D ticket would end in SEAT or SHOW, and the 32D transformer would end in CHIP. For a while, I suspected a possible cheat with either a possible ROSEPARKS/EILAT or ROSAPARKS/AILAT, but discovered NO, SHE'S right, when the rebus finally hit ABROAD.

    Liked HARLEY, BARDOT (always have) and MYLAR, upon which we used to run our gas chromatographs long ago. Was very pleased to deduce RAYON from the clue as given, but overall had some truly difficult times in the solve, probably due to all the preamble and postamble of the ongoing festivities. The whole familia (except the EXES) put in an appearance, so a LOT was going on and the MESON scene was chaotic at times.

    @Alias, it may have been RIO that reminded me of the Brasilian trenzinho ; I remembered it from a previous WP appearance, and had re-found the Villa-Lobos. Needless to say, a little Caipirinha is always welcome.

    Re the theme, my personal POV is that perhaps half the population is morbidly shopaholic, but who am I to be a NOID? If that keeps the economic engines greased and rolling, maybe that's RESIN d'etre enough. So, to all who aren't ASCETIC-assed, shop responsibly, and HOT LuCK in the PARKing LOTs!

    ps @Q, were I ever to try constructing a puzzle, I would srely need some of that ♨︎ Glögg ♨︎ in me!

    Doc John 5:46 PM  

    Interesting that you should point out the similarities between Salem and Jerusalem. The actual title of the King book is 'Salem's Lot because the actual name of the town is Jerusalem's Lot but everyone shortens it to Salem's Lot.
    P.S. That book scared the crap out of me. I'll never ever descend a stairway to a basement without first turning the light and making sure said stairway is actually there.

    Leapfinger 5:47 PM  

    Who is this MCROSS of which we speak? From Glengarry McRoss perhaps?

    @Maruchka, I have a friend nearby who has persimmon trees, so lately I've been supplied with ample of same. Love them firm like an apple, love them ripened to a soft center to eat with a spoon, like a pudding. Have decided I need a persimmon tree of my own!

    Anonymous 5:55 PM  

    We wonder if Rex could construct a "perfect" crossword puzzle that Rex would actually like?

    Why not do one and submit it under a pseudonym, then have someone do a review of it….WITHOUT knowing you, Rex, were the constructor.

    Another suggestion: Don't give up your day job.

    Have fun, Rex, with these puzzles, instead of being a grouch about them. Life is too short.

    mathguy 6:14 PM  

    @NCA President: You're right. The Harbaugh-Karpernick era may be over before it actually began.

    Elle54 6:15 PM  

    Great! I liked it!

    Chip Hilton 8:02 PM  

    I loved this. Always enjoy rebus puzzles and the NE corner one proved difficult to find. I finished with an error, going with ROSELEa and aILOT, but otherwise survived. Thanks, Tracy Gray, for an enjoyable activity, far from the maddening crowds at the mall.

    OISK 9:13 PM  

    Two near Naticks on the same word…Never heard of "Hotlick" (what IS that??), and Erin with hotlink was possible - guessed right. Eric Carle, or Eric Corle? Guessed right again. Never heard of Esalen either, but Adam's ale was vaguely familiar…so with a lot of luck, I have completed 5 weeks of perfect solving. Is it that there has been less pop-rock-hip hop culture, and fewer product references? Or, is it that constant exposure to such references have made them less of a problem for me? Enjoyed the puzzle, which I thought was clever, and Friday appropriate.

    Benko 10:17 PM  

    @oisk HOTLICK was originally a Nashville country term--session guitarists would memorize "hot licks" which were popular country music guitar phrases. later the term was appropriated by heavy metal and hard rock guitarists to characterize their lead guitar playing. If I remember correctly.
    @z: But Bell's two hearted was the first IPA I ever actually enjoyed! Now, with a distorted palate from super hoppy beers, 2 hearted seems tame in comparison! though still tasty.

    Z 10:20 PM  

    @OISK - BARDOT, SNL, ELMO, SALEM'S LOT, NEWS ALERT clued via Twitter, HOT LICK (a reference to modern guitar playing slang), HARLEY via the movie Easy Rider, ADELE, IHOP, BILBO, KAT, and RAYON. That's 11 pop culture/product clues. We've seen worse but I feel like that is within the norm. I think "constant exposure" wins out over "fewer."

    @Questina - I was joking with the "moral" comment yesterday. Still, I could have a fine time arguing over, "Because truth does not change...." In vino veritas and all that, doncha know.

    Z 11:27 PM  

    @Benko - For someone who thinks Michelob is good I might suggest a wheat beer like Summer Time Ale or a Belgian Trippel like Final Absolution or even a gentle Kolsch like Full Circle in order to open them up to the possibility that beer can taste like something other than just corn. All of these are what themes, rebuses, answers that turn left, or answers that read up instead of down are to crosswords. Eventually one turns into a lover of Hopslam Ale which is to beers what an odd-shaped puzzle with numbered black squares where answers are missing beginning or ending letters (or none at all) and where the missing letters spell out a complaint is to puzzledom. What is Hopslam without gentler beers? Not that I care about beer or puzzles or Moral Authority.

    Leapfinger 7:37 AM  

    Old Peculier.

    Hoppy T'giving

    Cheerio 12:49 PM  

    I loved this! Thanks!

    rondo 12:01 PM  

    Had that one last blank square in the SE and needed one more SALE, so there it went without Natick.
    Will always think of STYMIE as one of the Little Rascals/Our Gang kids.
    Need I say yeah baby for BARDOT???
    Different COO clue today.
    RIA, RIO, ROI, KOI, blah, blah, blah . . .
    And so a new work year begins.

    And the captcha says: nuthin'

    spacecraft 1:36 PM  

    Oh boy. Brain, brain, come back! This was the DNFest of all my DNFs. I had no clue what was going on. "An argument" = WORDS. Of course. Did that ever occur to me after an hour of headbanging? No-o-o. JE_U...with crusades had to be JESUS-something. I just couldn't shake that. OL_P__ for expert just would not come. OLD PRO? Well, I guess so, after the fact, though I don't think I'd clue it that way. You don't have to be old to be an expert; just ask any WSOP Main Event champion in the new millennium. It's not flaggable, but it was off center enough that it totally eluded me.

    Despite the BARDOT/OMAR gimme, I couldn't pick it up anywhere else, either. nyLlON didn't help, and neither did a six-letter early Stephen King work, which was


    Carrie. No matter what else happened that puppy was probably never getting erased. So, epic--or MAJOR--fail. Most of my grid is still blank. No grade today.

    1311. Not a great start to the year.

    DMG 2:23 PM  

    @spacecraft. I've had days like that! And I thought for a bit that this was going to be one of them. Puzzles have "taught" me that a"Time of madnes?" is in March when there is some kind of a sports playoff or something. When I finally got enough crosses to see BLACKFRIDAY, I was able to change gears and relalize the rebus was SALE not the ALE I had been trying to have make sense. Even then It took awhile to see it worked in both directions. That happened when I gave up ARNO ( is there such a place?) for SALERNO! So I ended up with a well written over puzzle, and a blank at the author/tweet thing. Maybe Cptcha will be nice?

    641 I guess not!!

    rain forest 2:55 PM  

    Heh heh. I got the rebus at JERUSALEM CROSS/SALERNO and said, oh yeah, this is Thursday. If I'd realized that it is in fact Friday, I wonder what I would have thought. Doesn't matter anyway, because I think rebuses or themes should be allowed to show up any day of the week.

    I liked this one, and 'medium-challenging' describes it for me.

    check please.

    Waxy in Montreal 7:40 PM  

    Sometimes there's a payoff - having read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" multiple times to all the grandkids over the last decade, ERICCARLE was a gimme and a welcome intro into what seemed a rather tough grid. Quickly provided NEWSALERT and then the BLACKFRIDAY theme making this much less daunting than it initially appeared.

    The EILAT/PSAT and TESLACOIL region as well as KOI STYMIEd me for too long in the SW as did NOSHES where I stuck with NACHOS for some reason.

    Not sure you could describe BB's performance in "And God Created Woman" as acting but that didn't stop me seeing it many times AGESAGO.

    Seems I now need to attempt to prove I'm not a NASA design. If you read this, guess I'm not.

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