Best Picture subject nine inches shorter than actor who portrayed him / THU 1-26-17 / Le Duc decliner of 1973 Nobel prize / Whisky first produced for King George VI's 1939 visit to Canada / Supervillain in 2015's Avengers sequel / Subject of 1820 compromise / Sports star with signed jersey in Vatican / Feature of many minion in Despicable Me

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Constructor: Hal Moore

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: A LITTLE BIRDIE (36A: Secret's source ... that can be found four times in this puzzle) — rebus puzzle where a "birdie" name is made "little" (i.e. squooshed into a single square) four times.

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: Le Duc THO (20A: Le Duc ___, decliner of the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize) —
Lê Đức Thọ (About this sound listen; 14 October 1911 – 13 October 1990), born Phan Đình Khải in Hà Nam Province, was a Vietnamese revolutionary, general, diplomat, and politician. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1973, but he declined it. [...] Thọ and Henry Kissinger were jointly awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in negotiating the Paris Peace Accords. However, Thọ declined to accept the award, claiming that peace had not yet been established, and that the United States and the South Vietnamese governments were in violation of the Paris Peace Accords:
However, since the signing of the Paris agreement, the United States and the Saigon administration continue in grave violation of a number of key clauses of this agreement. The Saigon administration, aided and encouraged by the United States, continues its acts of war. Peace has not yet really been established in South Vietnam. In these circumstances it is impossible for me to accept the 1973 Nobel Prize for Peace which the committee has bestowed on me. Once the Paris accord on Vietnam is respected, the arms are silenced and a real peace is established in South Vietnam, I will be able to consider accepting this prize. With my thanks to the Nobel Prize Committee please accept, madame, my sincere respects.
The ceasefire would not last, with the war ending when Saigon fell in 1975 and North Vietnam captured South Vietnam. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hard as hell because of the nature of the rebus—even when you know it's a rebus, and even when you know it involves A LITTLE BIRDIE, you have no possible way of knowing which of hundreds of birds it might be, or where the rebus squares might be (though at some point you can infer that there will be one per corner). Cluing was also slanted hard, especially in the rebus answers. Since the theme itself isn't that clever, there's not much to this but its challenge, which is OK. It's nice to have a challenge once in a while. And the birds, though hard to turn up at times, did provide a kind of "aha" moment when they appeared. So it played like a Saturday, and that was kind of irritating, and the concept is no great shakes, but I had an OK time, as frustrating solves go. I have to say, though, that I was predisposed to be irritated by this puzzle because Yet Again (seriously, this happens a couple times a month, it seems), the NYT puzzle site had a glitch. This time, it just wasn't providing the .puz file. Not there. This was what I got:

So I had to solve in the applet, directly on the site, and I ****ing hate that interface. Since it doesn't behave quite like the AcrossLite interface, I fumbled with the cursor a lot more than I do normally. Unwieldy. Blecch. The NYT makes massive profit on the puzzle, continues to pay constructors abysmally, and yet can't manage to deliver its product on time without technical glitches for what seems like more than a few weeks at a pop. Embarrassing.

[Cover of a Bon Iver song]

Fill on this one is OK, though THO is a no imho (20A: Le Duc ___, decliner of the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize). I mean it's bad fill. Even if you'd clued it as shortened "though" it's bad, but here, it's massively dated and pretty obscure. So even worse. And -IZE is terrible, but there's really not much else that's inherently unpleasant. Aside from the many many missteps, e.g. NECK for NAPE (8D: Common spot for a sunburn), MAN for IT'S (11D: "___ alive!"), RAH for AYE (12D: Word of support), ORBS for ASPS (5D: Ancient symbols of sovereignty), HERB for C[LOON]EY (3D: Rosemary, for one), which is as obviously-by-design a trap as I've seen in a while. I also had trouble with the proper nouns. Couldn't bring up SAPPHO from that clue (1D: Plato's "tenth Muse"), couldn't remember ULTRON (kept thinking VOLTRON), no idea who BEA Benaderet is (I'm guessing she's at least as old as Le Duc THO), and KIERAN Culkin was a name I eventually halfway remembered, but from where, I don't know. I do know I couldn't pick him out of a line-iup. The toughest part, though, was the birds, and that LO[WREN]T / T.E. LA[WREN]CE was far and away the hardest to find. Parsing either of those without the bird is tough. That was my last square, though I briefly thought it was T.H. LAWRENCE (because of T.H. White, probably). The LOON was the second-most elusive bird, followed by the CROW (my first bird, which was the last square I got in that corner, but the first bird I actually found). TERN was probably easiest to turn up, though it came second for me, and I knew to look out for birds by then. Once again, the puzzle plays old, but the challenge was in general a welcome one.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:07 AM  

Medium for me.

Eject before EXPEL was it for erasures.

Nice little ice-cream mini theme.

Very smooth and (I disagree with @Rex) very clever, liked it a lot! Nice debut!

Patrick O'Connor 12:07 AM  

Bea Benederet was the actress playing the proprietress of Petticoat Junction, one of CBS's '60s rural comedies that were in effect spinoffs of the success of The Beverly Hillbillies. She no doubt had a real career before that, but eight-year-old me only knows what she was on TV.

Josh 12:16 AM  

D H Lawrence, I bet is who you were thinking of.

Mike 12:16 AM  

Took the same path as Rex with the birds (if I'm recalling correctly). Same thoughts on it too: challenging but almost entirely because of the birds. Not much super exciting in the fill. I like LOWRENT but I think that's just me liking a term.

Brian 12:21 AM  

Felt challenging but when I got the congrats message my time said easy. Canadian whisky did it for me. Cheers.

razerx 12:57 AM  

Got the theme immediately and then the rebus pattern so all smooth sailing. I didn't know the movie so stuck with DH but the crosses were weird. I didn't bother looking up that movie so left it unsolved. Good challenging puzzle!

Unknown 1:09 AM  

According to information posted elsewhere, this is @Hal Moore's New York Times debut, so congratulations for that! Congratulations squared for eliciting such a gracious review from @Rex.

I failed on the Canadian whisky, but enjoyed the tidbits about the relative heights of @Peter O'Toole compared to the hero of "Lawrence of Arabia," as well as the factoid about PELE. Reluctant Nobel Peace laureate THO didn't bother me, since it brought to mind @Tom Lehrer's famous quote about why he stopped performing political satire.

Carola 1:13 AM  

This was fun! Loved the concept of the LITTLE BIRDIE - and having to find the secret spots where the four of them were hiding. The TERN was the easiest for me to flush out, followed by the WREN (definitely helped by recalling LOWRENT from a recent puzzle), then the CROW, and finally the elusive LOON. That NW corner was really hard for me to crack, despite my remembering Le Duc THO. Eventually that H and the O from SONS triggered "Wait a minute...SAPPHO?" and the dark clouds parted.

Loved AGAMEMNON x HELLENIC + SAPPHO. and TELL ME over the LITTLE BIRDIE who knows the secret. Do-overs: herb, ice cream Soda before SHOP.

@Hal Moore, thanks for the most enjoyable brain-racking. I look forward to your next one.

Uncle Joe 1:29 AM  

Loved it. I love rebus puzzles, especially when you reach that point wondering why nothing fits and then you go Aha! There is a rebus afoot!

I got the top half fairly quick, and the revealer fast too. When I got to the bottom half I struggled because I seemed to forget there were rebuses. I got TELAWRENCE by just guessing the bird was WREN and moving from there.

THO is a completely legitimate answer as clued. The Vietnam War was kind of a big deal, Rex. Ignorance of basic/factual/recent American History is no excuse.

Also, BEA Benaderet was the voice of Betty Rubble on the Flinstones and is therefore immortal.

chefwen 1:32 AM  

Too rich for my blood. First thing I filled in was herb at 3D (Hi @Carola) that was a dead end, Finally got the LITTLE BIRDIE clue and managed to find the LOON and the TERN. Finished the top half and ate dirt on the bottom. Got fed up, impatient and threw in the towel. One of those "life is too short" moments, I've got dogs that I need to play with.

Will try again tomorrow.

John Child 1:46 AM  

@Geroge, thanks for the reminder of Tom Lehrer's comment about political satire. If anyone doesn't know or recall it, follow George's link to a 2000 article in The Guardian that is well worth your 4 minutes.

I loved this challenging Thursday. I found the birdies is he same order as @Rex and agree that the wren was hardest to see. A typo gave me a DNF, but I had so much fun that I don't care. How was this not the POW? Congratulations on the debut to Mr Moore!

Carola 2:07 AM  

I meant to add how much I admired the elegant construction - four 4-letter birds placed in symmetrical Across rows and in 4-space Down columns.

Anonymous 2:12 AM  

I liked this one. The WREN rebus was actually the first one that I got — maybe I knew that because I've read a couple LA(WREN)CE biographies and know that he was short —, followed by CROW and LOOM. So I didn't run into serious trouble until trying to finish off in the NW. Finally got out by thinking about 4-letter bird names and thought of TERN.

Anonymous 2:27 AM  

For an older TV-watching generation, she was Blanche Morton, the perpetually befuddled next door neighbor of Gracie Allen.

Anonymous 2:33 AM  

Crown Royal did it for me, because it was such an obvious answer it had to fit somehow. The "wren" came last, and that solve gave me the most pleasure.

Dan 3:37 AM  

I acknowledge that he's fictional, but the best I came up with for the TELA[WREN]CE clue was VALANCE. Which really didn't help much. The SW was tough in general, I thought.

Loren Muse Smith 4:20 AM  

I dunno, Rex – the reveal A LITTLE BIRDIE with four bird rebus squares that force this dead-tree solver to spell the four little birdies in tiny little letters – plenty clever for me.

I made the same goofs as others: “herb,” “rah,” and the sunburn spot – but my guess was “nose.” Helloooo, zinc oxide.

I had two mistakes no one has mentioned yet – “in there” before NOT HERE (60A) and an ice cream “tub” crossing MLK’s “art” (49A/39D). I eat the whole little tub of Ben and Jerry’s The Tonight Dough. I used to put some in a bowl, but after invariably going back and getting more and then more, I’ve just embraced my piggishness and now sit there and eat the whole thing a la Bridget Jones.

@Carola – great catch on the A LITTLE BIRDIE/TELL ME cross.

@Josh – me, too, for thinking DH Lawrence.

@Uncle Joe – I got LAWRENCE the same way – banking on some kind of WREN square.

@Dan – the southwest almost did me in.

So, Mr. Hal Moore – excellent Thursday debut. I’m, well, bowled over that you throw your hat in the ring with a rebus. Congrats!

Taffy-Kun 5:07 AM  

No has mentioned that after you get your first rebus it was a huge help to assume the other rebus she's (rebi?) would also be 4 letters. Thousands of birds but not too many with 4 letters - swan, duck... Great debut.

Taffy-Kun 5:09 AM  


Charles Flaster 5:14 AM  

Loved this one.
Medium with a DNF at dhLAWRENCE.
My TERN was first and then looked for other birds with LOON last to fall.
Two nits to pick-- clue for 58D should have a plural; 54D would be more reasonable if clued as"type of district".
Writeovers were NAPE for NosE and EXPEL for Error.
Always enjoy alternate clues for ALOU.
This was a great debut.
Thanks HM

Questinia 5:48 AM  

I generally suffer from TPA- Thursday Puzzle Anxiety. Not knowing what's going to happen, the anticipation of the trick, the hypervigilance involved... putting a little birdie on it helped. Thanks Hal. Though would have appreciated @ M&A, a pewit.

Brett 6:22 AM  

Good write-up for a good puzzle. I had never heard the cover of the Bon Iver song--so beautiful.

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

Not relevant to today’s puzzle, but many here may be interested: the Stanford alumni magazine has a nice article about @David Steinberg (current sophomore), including a Stanford-themed puzzle he constructed and some comments from Jeff Chen, class of ‘92.

kitshef 7:25 AM  

Loved it. Played mostly pretty easy (and was surprised and inflated to see @Rex say challenging), other than the SE, where KIERAN is a WoE and CROWN ROYAL would never have come without most of the crosses.

First in was THu, corrected almost immediately thanks to ULTRON.

The more I look at this, the more I admire the fill. NO THERE and TELL ME, no. But the rest, yes. Great clues for PELE, SAPPHO.

Glimmerglass 7:29 AM  

Great rebus puzzle! Pleasingly challenging. @Rex, there are not all that many four-letter common birds. By the time I got to the bottom, I was looking for a WREN. LOON was harder (when I finally decided that herb had to be wrong, I looked for other kinds of Rosemarys). CROW was my last birdie (perhaps because a CROW is a large bird, not that the size of the bird itself matters). I also couldn't print the puzzle last night -- this is happening often. Annoying, but for me only slightly.

seanm 7:36 AM  

medium challenging for me. had the hardest time finding TERN for some reason. really wanted that to be something CITY even with the FRA. agree that THO as clues is probably too obscure even for a saturday, definitely for a thursday.

i liked the puzzle quite a bit overall. nice concept, solid execution

Tim Pierce 7:37 AM  

My solving experience was eerily similar to Rex's, from the order of finding the birds to the stumbles at NECK/NAPE, ORBS/ASPS, HERB/C(LOON)EY, and "THLAWRENCE". Since I solve on paper, I didn't catch that last error until I came to the blog, and came away thinking that "HHM" was the absolute worst fill I'd seen in a very long time. My bad.

This is an excellent challenging rebus: many rebus puzzles fall quickly once you cop to the theme and can practically guess which squares will have the rebus and where they are. Not this one. Very well done.

Tim Pierce 7:39 AM  

@Kitschef: I don't know if it makes you feel any better about the fill, but 60A is "NOT HERE", not "NO THERE."

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

I rate this puzzle in the impossible category. Not more than a smattering of answers spread around the edges of the puzzle. I have to admit that my brain is not wired for rebus.

Tom in StPaul 7:55 AM  

My birds began in the south, CROW, then WREN. LOON was a head-slapper after the herb feint for CLOONEY. NE was my dnf, with ANoMIe making it impossible to find a bird to fill o****AL. Enjoyed this immensely despite the dnf!

Passing Shot 7:57 AM  

I'm with @chefwen on this one. Got [CROW]NROYAL and realuzed it was a %#?! rebus. Spent a lot of time on the LO__/__LA_CE cross and threw in the towel. Breakfast awaits.

Z 7:58 AM  

@Questina (and @M&A) - Yep. I had high hopes for a pewit appearance. Almost ruined this fine effort by not coming by for a tweet.

Whac-A-Vowel at AGAMEMNON/BEA (is BEe ever a person's name) totally crushed by Whac-A-LAWRENCE in the SW. Lady Chatterly? The Arabic dude? Welk? Jennifer? That really good player on Old Man Winter who will. not. shut. up? I finally figured out that no silent H or long H or whatever was going to work and it was a tricksy reference to HEM and haw. Easily a third of my solve time spent in that little section. If that WREN had been a pewit I'd'a crushed it.

An anonymouse pissed me off yesterday. Rather than respond here, I did the good Christian thing and emailed Rex and offered to double his winners for a subscription to AVCX and thus donate to Planned Parenthood (Rex accepted). Five more people get a great crossword subscription and another woman or two gets some needed health care. Thanks, anonymouse, for the good you inspired.

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

"The NYT makes massive profit on the puzzle..." And nowhere else. Birdcage worthy.

RAD2626 8:29 AM  

Got lucky. NW fell into place quickly so got LOON right away and the theme answer and SE went fast. Had trouble in NE and SW, the former because of my sunburned fAcE and the latter because of Larry's initials. Fun puzzle and I would rate as Medium in the challenge category. Thought the cluing was pretty direct.

Matt 8:33 AM  

New to the crossword game. How does one tell it's a rebus? There was one a few months ago where every clue on the east and west vertical lines started (or ended) with AL outside the puzzle. I know Thursday's typically have some twist but is there any way to hone in on what that twist is? Without ever thinking about fitting full bird names in a single square, this becomes impossible for my novice brain.

BigMistake 8:55 AM  

I'll admit - DNF... I figured the theme within 6 fills (fraternity got me), but I was undone by Clooney. Should have figured out balloonist though.

First Thursday DNF in a long time - I am partially ashamed :-(

evil doug 9:01 AM  

My favorite muse is nymPHO. Then Loren.

Excellent workout.

QuasiMojo 9:04 AM  

I gotta "crow" -- what a great puzzle. I finished in 26 minutes which is not bad considering I couldn't type in the rebus and had to go look for instructions on the FAQ page. I love the movie "The Birds" and felt this was a clever way of getting them into our hair, à la Tippi Hedren.

I am a sucker for anything Hellenic, including Plato, Sappho, Aeschuylus, and Agamemnon. Massive fan of the movie Lawrence of Arabia so I was in awe of the constructor's ability to slip them all in.

My one bugaboo was "orbs" before "asps." "Tho" Le Duc was tough too. Nice to see "Duc" and "Duke" together, with Ella.

Congrats to the newbie for a fine debut.

John Child 9:11 AM  

@Matt: Thursdays are often tricky. I fill in shorter answers, anything I know and any crosses thus made clear. The giveaway for a rebus is an answer that has to be right but doesn't fit. Today it was.63-A for me, {Whisky first produced for King George VI's 1939 visit to Canada}. Canada, that long ago... Seagrams probably... Crown Royal, for the king. Where where in the answer is the rebus? Hmm. 4 letters, so check the crosses. Ah, IN[CROW]D. That helped fill in the revealer.

That was my thought process. Your mileage may vary.

Passing Shot 9:14 AM  

@Matt -- I'm also a relative newbie. I don't know that there's any particular trick to telling its a rebus. It usually dawns on me when I'm [absolutely] positive of an answer but it doesn't fit. For today's puzzle I only had a handful of scattered answers after about 15 minutes, but the SE corner was the first to fall. I had _NROYAL and (because I have a slight [hiccup] fondness for whisky, knew it had to be CROW, thus a rebus. Didn't help much with the rest of the puzzle, though.


1820 Stone Colonial House 9:16 AM  

As a birder, I loved this puzzle but it still played hard for me. Got wren first. Once I got it through my head that little wasn't meant literally, it went pretty fast. Crows, and loons and terns are not "little birdies." Would have been nice to spot a chickadee or a warbler. We've had pink footed goose hanging around here that has had the birding community in a flap. Fun puzzle cause looking for our feathered friends is always fun.

Nancy 9:20 AM  

Oh, what a wonderful and challenging puzzle! I was feeling so, so smart because I finished it -- or so I thought -- with no help from the pop culture clues. I knew neither ULTRON nor KIERNAN, but once I got A LITTLE BIRDIE, I had both a toehold and the info I needed to complete. Or so I thought. FraTERNity was my first theme answer, and then I knew what I was looking for. When I "finished", there were two answers I objected to: PDS at 58D (what on earth are PDS; PTS I've heard of, but not PDS) and HHM at 59D (shouldn't it be HMM?). Came here to discover I had DH LAWRENCE instead of TE LAWRENCE and that it was PTS and that 59D was HEM. No matter. I'm dumb, but the puzzle wasn't. Can't believe this is a debut. Gorgeous job!

Sir Hillary 9:29 AM  

From @Tim Pierce: This is an excellent challenging rebus: many rebus puzzles fall quickly once you cop to the theme and can practically guess which squares will have the rebus and where they are. Not this one. Very well done.

Yes, yes, yes. Best rebus I have seen in a while.

I solved as I imagine many others did:
-- Middle section first, including the revealer.
-- But even then, not sure what I was looking for (maybe CHICK in a lot of places?) or where.
-- Scuffed around in each corner, filling in the easier non-rebus entries but still missing the nests.
-- Finally, [CROW] showed itself...pretty tough not to get it off _NROYAL.
-- By contrast, has there ever been a less apparent near-answer than TELA_CE? Not for me -- I probably stared at it for 10 minutes before the light went on.
-- [TERN] was last square filled. FRA[gil]ITY? FRA[nticc]ITY? Yikes.

Really tough cluing -- e.g., for ANEMIA, SEEP, MUDDY, SMELTS and C[LOON]EY. Great "?" clue for ROOFER.

@QuasiMojo -- Nice call on Duc/Duke. Especially in a puzzle that could have had [DUCK].

Really good Thursday -- I'll take Saturday-esque crunch any day I can get it. Congratulations and thanks to Hal Moore.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

I forgot it was Thursday (the week's been busy... was sure I was solving a Friday) so didn't even think to look for rebuses. Got "crown royal" and it didn't fit, so I assumed it was another Canadian whiskey I didn't know... until I figured out both "fraternity" and that I'm a dunce.

I still need help on Thursdays; even so, I only needed "Tho" and "Sappho" for most of the puzzle -- before getting stuck on the bottom left. Put it away for the night and ended up only needing "pts" (brain fart; should've gotten that) to get the rest. Overall, I found the fill more doable than most Thursdays -- except when I got stuck, I was VERY stuck.

Don McBrien 9:59 AM  

DNF on the bottom three lines of the puzzle. Couldn't see LOWRENT, INCROWD or NOTHERE. Didn't know TELAWRENCE or CROWNROYAL at all. Normally I can fight through obstacles or knowledge gaps like these, but I couldn't even find the rebus squares. Largely because the northern rebuses are so symmetrical, I was looking for that symmetry in the south and was just too fixated on it.

Over the past few years my DNFs have become less frequent, and when they happen, they are due to one or two wrong or empty letters. So it was humbling to throw in the towel with significant empty white spaces left.

Mohair Sam 10:05 AM  

Well we loved it, totally disagree with OFL's complaints. But it absolutely whupped us in the North because we thought the Bushes had beagles, and everybody was rushing towards gravity, and a station was a base, and constant was even. And oh my. . . . .

Like everyone else here it took me a minute to realize that DH wrote and TE was actually in Arabia. After seeing O'Toole's image on screen, it's kind of hard to picture old T.E. looking up to everybody, isn't it?

I usually eschew all things royal family, just not interested. Discovered today I'd been making a lifetime exception for a certain booze.

@Rex - The list of those who have declined the Nobel Peace Prize is far far shorter than those who have accepted, hence Le Duc THO is not "massively obscure" - you just don't know him. SAPPHO may be equally obscure to the history professor down the hall, that doesn't make it uncrossworthy. And no, THO wasn't a gimme here.

Happy Pencil 10:16 AM  

LOON was the toughest for me to see, but that was mostly because I struggled in that corner generally. Couldn't think beyond Erato and Calliope, had orbS for ASPS, and couldn't imagine what would be carried in a basket. I also thought the villain was Antman, for some strange reason, but that at least gave me the T and the N, which eventually helped me sort myself out.

A rebus where the answers change each time is a terrific challenge. I was helped by assuming (correctly, as it turned out) that all the LITTLE birds would be four letters. That led me to WREN in the bottom corner. The other two were easier to suss out.

I'd call it medium overall. I was below my average time, but it put up enough of a fight to be enjoyable. Great debut!

Hartley70 10:17 AM  

Fantastic Thursday! I had FRATERNITY right off the bat as a potential rebus, and loved the theme when I got to ALITTLEBIRD. My "little" quibble that only WREN truly qualifies, didn't lessen my enjoyment one bit. My only stumble was the Marvel villain because I despise their comic book movies, "Pow!" The crosses gave it to me with THO "O" being my final entry.

You could have knocked me over with a "feather" when I came here to see Mr. "Speed Demon" (his potential Marvel moniker) gave it a challenging rating. I'm sure he's just having a tough day and may find out later he's wearing two different shoes or his tee shirt is on inside out.

This is a perfection of a debut, Hal Moore.

Nancy 10:23 AM  

@Hartley (10:17) -- It's A LITTLE BIRD because all the birds are squeezed into a tiny space. Not because all the birds are little in real life. So all the answers do qualify -- not just WREN.

Tita 10:32 AM  

@Carola - thanks for pointing out all the other combinations... ALso, the ROOFER was ALOFT.

What everyone else is saying about the discovery process... Since the first LITTLEBIRDIE I found was WREN, I wondered if there would be three other WRENS, that being almost a generic name for a LITTLBIRDIE.

Next one was LOON, which made me happy, because it meant it was going to be even harder. Non-symmetrical rebuses that could be any of a million names - YAY!!!!
Yes - this was definitely a challenging puzzle. And I loved it for that.

Yes, I put in herb at 3D, knowing it could also be name, not knowing there was a rebus afoot.

My dog was named either AGAMEMNON or AGApito, depending on how my mom feels when you ask her.

And my NosE, being decidedly closer to the sun then the rest of me, is what gets frequently sunburned.

Thanks @George for the Lehrer link.

And a hearty thank you to Mr. Moore for a puzzle I'll remember!

(Oh - I saw my first sharp-shinned hawk at our feeder yesterday - while he's got to eat too, I'm glad he didn't make the puzzle today... WOulda made those little WRENs nervous)

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

Super debut. Hard but fun, Loved it.

GILL I. 10:35 AM  

I had to wait forever to finally print out the puzzle because I can only do them on paper...When I finally did, I licked my lips in anticipation for my Thursday rush. Well, licking was about all I did. Stared at this thing for an eternity. Saw PELE and SPANIELS and that was it. To wit was NAMELY and I just left it there. Boy, I just wasn't seeing anything. Went to the middle and got my LITTLE BIRDIE. OK, so FRA[TERN}ITY is right and so is the BAL[LOON]IST I wanted. Yay me. So it is MISSOURI and it is SAMUEL not David and then things began to fall into place - for awhile...
I had a feeling WREN and CROW would enter the picture but I couldn't see how or where. The only whisky I could think of was Old CROW. Finally got IN[CROW]D so the [CROWN] ROYAL was another yay me.
Hand up for DH LAWRENCE and just leaving it there.
Congratulations Hal Moore on your debut. This was a wonderful puzzle that made me utter AHA a lot.
By any chance do you like ice cream?

AZPETE 10:35 AM  

Found this on the easy side. Naticked at 58D & 62A. Wanted PDS (for periods) which got me DE Lawrence. Oh well, a rare "finish" on a puzzle Rex called "challenging". I liked it. 🙌🏻😁

Stanley Hudson 10:43 AM  

Great rebus puzzle. Kudos to Matt Moore for a superb debut.

And a tip o' the hat to the late great Mary Tyler Moore.

r.alphbunker 10:45 AM  

Loved the puzzle. Hand up for finishing with ThLA[WREN]CE.

I solve with a program that lets me play back my solution. Click here to see it. The first page that comes up lists how Jeff Chen's word list rates the answers of the puzzle. Click the Solvers link at the top to see my solution. Click the "-->" at the left to step through the puzzle letter by letter. You will see that, like @John Child, I tiptoed around the puzzle avoiding the answers that contained the rebuses until I got FRA[TERN]ITIES.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  


Good for you! Cooperating with grave evil. What a marvel of morality you are. And Anonymouse. I'm wounded. Not as much as the babies that Planned Parenthood kills, but really hurt.

About the puzzle. Most of the birds are quite large. Only wrens are wee things. Loons are enormous. Crows too. Terns vary a good deal in size, but coincidentally one of the larger species is the royal tern. The appearance of royal in crown royal gave me pause.

Great puzzle.

Leapfinger 10:48 AM  

Thought this was just lovely, everything a rebus Thursday should be. Having the BIRDIES be not of a feather definitely ups the ante. (Until I caught on, I suspected there was a reason for the concatenation of Dukes/Ducs in the clues, but No.)

Seeing the fluidity of the NOT_HERE/NO_THERE recur was enough to have me take a more PHOTOID look at the completed grid. Surprised I was at the many messages and observations suggested therein:
*AL OFT AMAZED his ROOFER ALOFT with tricks he'd learned in his BALloonIST FRAternITY
*My former UPTEMPO has reached an IMPASSE now that I'M PASSE; it may have dried UP TEMPOrariliy from something nutritional SUCH AS ANEMIA
*It's a fact of climate change that, as ocean waters warm, SMELTS DEEPEN while sardines (and tarpons) pale in comparison.
*In the Bible, prophets told their SONS "BE A SAMUEL", while Judges told their daughters "BE A Deborah"
*The clue for Radio City's RockETTEs seemed pretty Manhattan-centric, but what else would you expect in the NYE YOKE Times? Personally, I would've gone with ALOU ETTE, gentil ALOU ETTE... the old two birds in one swell foop, dontcha know.

In a more jugular vein: It seems that every day there are new cuckoo developments, some that merely hard to swallow, others that frankly stick in the gullet. There's too much potential for someone robin the country blind. I've thought of that MLK quotation about the ARC of the universe bending toward justice more than once. I hope he was right, and will rely on the power of the CONStitUTION; keep in mind more than two can play at that game.

(aside) I owe a big Thank you to the friend that mentioned the Bix Beiderbeck festival is returning to Davenport this year. Regretably, I won't be able to make it.

If I may, I'll echo @Carola's 1:13 closing, and 2:07 also. Superb debut, Hal!

Mr. Fitch 10:51 AM  

Pretty tough little puzzle.

I'd have appreciated a little more theme-denseness with six instead of four rebuses, but I'll take it. There's nothing formally innovative here, but it's fairly well done. The HERB/CLOONEY trick was devious, but good. WREN was last to fall for me, too.

Tita 10:52 AM  

Need to add - it was so challenging because there was no slam dunk rebus answer for me. I'm not a Whisky drinker. Guessed the rushing clue was a misdirect for frat house or fraternity, but had Ever for Constant.

Friday/Saturday clues, enough PPPs that I didn't know but didn't mind.
In fact, I forgot that I had a dnf due to being cowed by rEA - how could I not have seen BLT!!! That's how much I loved the puzzle.

@Hartley - love your speculation on why Rex rated the puzze as he did...

John Child 10:54 AM  

Little birds as in four-letter birds is how I interpreted it.

Three and out. SEEYA.

Nancy 11:08 AM  

@Mohair (10:05) -- It's LBJ who had beagles. "Him" and "Her", if memory serves. It was reputed (if memory serves) that he was wont to pick them up by their ears. A last-century version of Mitt Romney driving to Canada with Seamus strapped to the roof of the car.

Adding others to my comment to Hartley -- The birds are "little" because they're squeezed into a tiny square. Not because they're little in real life. Sheesh.

Hartley70 11:12 AM  

JEEZALOO, @Tita! What are you putting in that feeder? Fresh road kill, raw hamburger? I hope the hawk was just lurking, perusing the potential menu, and you didn't have to put on your rubber gloves to fill it! Cool to spy him, though. I never have.

@Nancy, I see your point, but I like to imagine you print solvers trying to fit the darling little "tufted titmouse" into the tiny square. I wonder, how small can the computer letters go?

Anonymous 11:26 AM  


is it possible that your sharpie is a coopers? ( maybe a tercel or immature?). Bird-banders at Cape May, NJ have a pretty good data set on sharp-shinned and coopers winter distribution. Sharpies really need uninterrupted tracts of wood ( forest really.Even logging roads in dense foret can throw them).
Coopers don't. They hang around patchy woodlands and suburbia in pretty fair numbers. As I say, the banders get lots of coopers band, never sharpies.

old timer 11:41 AM  

I got the revealer early and [CROW]NROYAL, and needed no help in the NE because I had MISSOURI early and NAPE, therefore FRA[TERN]ITY. Googled for THO in the NE and ULTRON since I don't go to many movies. But I had wanted BAL[LOON]IST from the get-go, so I smiled when I wrote in C[LOON]EY. I had nothing there at the start because I could not choose between "herb" and "name". In such cases I leave te squares blank.

DNF because in the SW I had confidently written in "Hmm" as the start of a hesitation. So I did not see LA[WREN]CE of Arabia, and I would not have guessed LO[WREN]T in a million years. That little birdie square will remain forever blank on my paper.

Bill Weeden 11:42 AM  

Really surprised you'd never heard of Bea Benaderet, who was not only (as already noted) the star of "Petticoat Junction" but a radio star and a regular on "Burns and Allen."

Joseph Michael 11:46 AM  

Congrats to Hal on an impressive debut.

Yes, it was tough but with a lot of great pay offs. Fun theme, clever cluing, and crunchy fill like LOW RENT, IN CROWD, and AGAMEMNON.

Random thoughts:

A LOFT is where an artist works.

PHOTOID sounds like a creature in a sci fi movie.

And NO THERE is part of a Gertrude Stein quote about Oakland.

Joe Bleaux 11:50 AM  

I think the NO THERE was meant to be read as NOT HERE, which works OK with the clue. (But I agree it's weak fill, nonetheless.)

mac 12:01 PM  

Great debut, congratulations!
Tough, but fun to look for the birds once I got it. No idea of Lawrence of Arabia's initials, so I also got stuck with D.H.

All in all an enjoyable Thursday.

RooMonster 12:02 PM  

Hey All !
Tough, tough puz here. Was thinking the ole brain went on the fritz for a bit. Fully expected Rex to say, "I did this in 5.5 minutes", but thankfully he found it Challenging as well, so there's still hope for me in ability to comprehend. Seems like it's going by the wayside recently. But that's a subject for another blog, :-)

Did like puz overall. Difficulty in sussing out the Birds. First one was CROW, also easiest of the corners. Already had Revealer before any of the LITTLE BIRDies. LOON was toughest for me, as couldn't get off the Herb aspect of Rosemary. WREN was next toughest, as the TE wasn't registering as initials. I was like, "TELA what?" Did online today, so use of the Check Puz feature helped. Didn't use the Reveal Square feature, so at least no "cheating" involved.

Lots of black squares, 42. Usual limit is 38. Just an observation. Had evE for NYE, giving me EBAv for the Fortune 500 company, saying to myself, "Well, that's a new one!" One head slap later, changed to EBAY.

Who is ECO? Threw in poe first run through. @Lorens tUb for CUP, Stew-SEEP. When did percolate change meanings? Doesn't it mean stew/bubble/about to explode? Or has it always been SEEP, like making coffee? Or am I really losing it? :-)


His Radiance 12:13 PM  

Difficult, but enjoyably challenging.

His Radiance 12:25 PM  

Difficult, but enjoyably challenging.

Freda 12:28 PM  

New puzzler - not very good yet, but keen and I thought this one was fun. George B's reference to Rex's "gracious review" made me laugh - is Rex always cantankerous and kinda dyspeptic where the NYT is concerned?

chefbea 12:30 PM  

Too tough for me

Happy Pencil 12:42 PM  

@John Child, I too thought the birds were "little" because each one was only four letters, although I see @Nancy's point. I guess both work.

Happy Pencil 12:44 PM  

Aha! Constructor comment from Jeff Chen's site: "The birds would be 'little' in the sense of each one having to fit in a single square, and I would use all 4-letter birds for consistency – that seemed like the sweet spot between not interesting enough (3 letters) and too difficult to hide inside longer answers (5 letters)."

So Nancy for the win. And that's my three posts for today. See ya!

Mohair Sam 12:46 PM  

@Freda (12:28) YES! Always cantankerous and kinda dyspeptic - that's why we love him. And welcome.

@Nancy - Lyndon it was, thanks - I remember the photo with the doggie ears. And I was hunting for little birds with other fools until ONEEYE made CROWNROYAL an imperative.

The Oxen of the Sun 1:01 PM  

Thought this was a great puzzle but DNF due to the SW. For a second I had "AL[CAPON]E" for ALOU, which was a glorious sort of mistake (mixing up my hits).

Moly Shu 1:03 PM  

Early in the solve I knew 13a had to be BALLOONIST, so figured a rebus was afoot but didn't know what or where. It could be BALL or ALLO or LOON, so I left it blank until I got CROW. Very difficult here, the E in HEM being the final entry.
@Z, an anon pissed you off? C'mon man, chill. Even though you and I don't see things the same way, good on you for donating. I admire your conviction.
@Rex and @anon8:05 re "the NYT makes massive profit on the puzzle" umm yea, no kidding. That's kind of the whole point of being in business. I just never get why a business making a lot of money is percieved as a negative. If you don't like the product or the way they treat their employees, etc. don't patronize them. I've done it, but I don't begrudge them for making money, I just won't assist them in doing it.
I'm also going to join the @M&A pewit bandwagon. Woulda been "primo".

Masked and Anonymous 1:13 PM  

nginx!* Truly great potential puz fill! Or another one of them "@$#!" substitutes. [@RP: M&A's 404 weren't found, neither, the past two evenings in-a-row. U are not alone, bro. Makes yah feel nginx-ed, no?]

And, in alternative fax puznews:

This debut ThursPuz was for the birds. But, in a real good way. No pewits (yo, @Q). Or budgies (yo, @hootenanny, @pastaboy, @stopwatch, and @bob). As many have already chirped out, "ALITTLEBIRD" turned out to be a real good hint, in numinous ways. Fun stuff.

Thrilled to get to see the debut puz authored by the Hal 9001 computer. Quality work, @Hal. Moore, please. har

Tolerable easy solvequest, at my house. Filled in all the other squares in the NW, and then the rebus alarm duly went off in the M&A brain-look-alike. Ended up with some nanosecond bird-related droppings in the SW. Also thought it was an H in T.H. LAbuzzurdCE. Never can remember Umberto ECO. Wanted UTO.

Rebus splatzes ain't symmetric. But, hey -- most bird droppings ain't.

fave weeject: THO. Mostly becuz the lil darlin unexpectedly got no respect at all, in the blog write-up today. Perfectly good semi-word.
Honrable mention to -- (har) -- the o de sperado, IZE. Hal ... Don't make me come down there and re-wire U.

Thanx, Mr. Moore. [Relative of Clayton?! probably not. Also: Good job, @Mary Tyler Moore]

Masked & Anonymo5Us

* nginx: free web server software created by Igor Sysoev in 2002. Igor went missin the followin year, while drivin on Interstate 404. Alien abdication is suspected.


Teedmn 1:18 PM  

@Carola, kudos on "flushing" out those BIRDIEs. I suspected a rebus when BALLOONIST wasn't going to fit at 13A but I put in BUSTS at 13D in anticipation of such. I went down from there to get the revealer so the first BIRDIE to come in sight was the TERN rather than the LOON.

Like many, I considered ThLAWRENCE (which I only got because LOW RENT arrived out of nowhere) but Mr. Eliot momentarily made me think TsLAWRENCE but HsM and HhM made me HEM and haw and finally guess the E.

This was a wonderful debut and one I would certainly "shakes" a stick at (great "shakes", actually, @Rex). And the effort to MUDDY the waters with clue obfuscation only increased the fun. At 14:05, this was an average Thursday for me. I do share @Rex's dislike of the NYTimes solving app so I can sympathize with that frustration.

I enjoy the immage of A LITTLE BIRDIE saying "NOT HERE" when the beneficiary of the dirt demands "TELL ME"!

Congrats, Hal Moore, on the debut, and thanks.

Greg 1:43 PM  

PTS crossed with TELAWRENCE (whom I don't know) made that square a letter guess. Also, having ULTRON, SAPPHO and THO all bunched up - yeesh.

Tita 1:53 PM  

You've sent me back to my Audubon book and He appeared to me to be grey - I thought at first it was a pigeon, which we don't have around here. Only mourning doves.
It wasn't too much bigger than a mourning dove, Sadly, he had left his perch on a rock and flew into a low branch by the time I got my phone, so the pictures I have are inconclusive.
Belly appears white. A white spot or two on his back. Only very clear feature is the black stripes on the tail with a white edge, that appear to be all the same length.
I'll show the pictures to my local birders. Thanks for the info!

We are in about 14 acres of woods right by a large lake on the outskirts of a small city (Danbury).

Oh - and what "made me look" is that my deaf cat Venus was doing a very odd and loud combination meow/gurgle at the window. She clearly knew that was not an ordinary visitor.

@Hartley - no evidence of a successful hawk strike.

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

@Responders to Tita - Standard bird feeders are also know as Sharpie Feeders, as they attract the birds upon which sharpies feed. It's doubtful that Tita mistook a Sharpie for a Coopers Hawk, as the Coopers are twice as big.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Donating to an organization that promotes abortion and selling fetal body parts is the Christian thing to do?

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

Anon 1:53. No sir ( or ma'am)
Fist, both sharpies and coopers feed on song birds.
Second, The size disparity is not quite as you describe. On average in terms of mass, A female sharp Shinned isn't nearly that far away from a young male Coopers. ( Hence tercel--1/3 the size,...)
But its habitat that's most telling. Sharpies do occasion back yards, even feeders. But not this time of the year.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Congrats to Hal for his debut puzzle. Clever puzzle over all but I thought the clue for "anemia" was weak, no pun intended; weakness is a symptom of anemia but not a synonym for it. Also nape instead of neck was lame IMO; no one says "man, my nape is really sunburned".

Chip Hilton 2:21 PM  

Great fun, exactly what I hope for in a Thursday puzzle. I went inside out, completing the center first, and when FRATERNITY fell, I figured each quadrant would have another little bird lurking. I was thrown a bit when I assumed the rebus squares would be symmetrically arranged but found the final two, thanks to IN CROWD and LOW RENT. Alas, while I could picture the towering Peter O'Toole in his portrayal, I could not recall Lawrence's middle initial, so went with M, as in HmM. In no way did that error diminish my pleasure on this delightful puzzle.

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

Anon 1:53.

Hope this link is live. Note the 6th ( I think) paragraph.

If the link isn't working, just Google sharp-shinned size versus coopers. You'll see the vast range in sizes especially from male to female.

Trombone Tom 2:29 PM  

I'm with @chefwen and @chefbea on this one. Finally put together the top half and then decided that, with tending to my wife who just had a knee replacement, there was not enough time in the day for this.

Tough but fair puzzle. On another day (or maybe another planet?) I'll take another shot at one of Hal Moore's efforts.

Wally K 2:34 PM  

"To wit" seems a wrong clue for "SUCH AS." It's like confusing "e.g." for "i.e." "To wit" means "namely" or "specifically"; that is, it names or specifies a thing. "Such as," on the other hand, merely leads to an example of something. Such a misleading/wrong clue was a horrible way to start the puzzle.

Hungry Mother 2:46 PM  

This is why I love crossword puzzles. I don't have to remember some obscure director's name, just use what's left of my brain cells to figure things out. So much fun.

Blue Stater 3:30 PM  

Brutally hard, unfair, no fun. Other than that it was great. Relieved, I suppose, a propos of Rex's comment, to see that that the quality control of product delivery is of a piece with the quality control of the product itself.

Outside The Box 3:47 PM  

Agree !

Larry Gilstrap 3:59 PM  

I came on to the bird rebus early in the solve, it is Thursday, after all, but balked at the A LITTLE BIRDIE revealer. The size thing caught my eye, but I see now. Three different WREN species inhabit the desert around here: Cactus WREN, Rock WREN, and Canyon WREN. Fun to watch their antic behavior.

I guess the ARC is still bends toward justice. I'll take heart from the wisdom of Dr. King.

Headed off to remind myself of the ALOU brothers. They came into the league with SF. My phone says that the three brothers had long careers, as did Philipe's son Moises. For perspective, a major league baseball career hits total of 2000 would be considered that of a great hitter. But, four guys blasting 7,228 of them, and they're brothers? Amazing! Great clue for shopworn fill. Kudos to the constructor.

foxaroni 4:01 PM  

Had I figured out that "a little birdie" was NOT a golf reference, I might have been able to complete the puzzle (although probably not). After getting the revealer, I thought that words with "par" in them would have words underneath with the word "two" in them. So..."two" under "par." (NOTE to puzzle constructors: feel free to use that idea in a puzzle.)

Nice NYT debut, Mr. Moore.

Bella 4:01 PM  

I was doing well up until WREN, alas. Flipped by a bird.

MotsCroisés 4:24 PM  

Not one mention of Katharine Hepburn and "the loons!"? She'd surely not have missed the ones here.

I think the whole "little" debate is pretty silly. It's just a phrase, guys, not an absolute standard of measurement. You could stick a dodo in one of these rebuses and the gimmick would still work.

Masked and Anonymous 4:25 PM  

@foxaroni: That "under par birdies" idea sounds mighty familiar. See NYTPuz on 25 May 2003, fer'instance. I'd bet tomorrow's cinnamon roll ration that there's been at least one other puz usin a similar idea, also. Sooo … good theme idea!

This other has nuthin much to do with today's puz…

I get the impression that the NYTPuz gives its constructioneers a disadvantage, or at least a sorta handicap, by not givin its daily puzs a title. This forces constructioneers to cram revealers into the grid, instead of maybe into the title. When they can't fit all the themers plus a long revealer into the grid, they go market their titled puzs to someone else, like the WSJ or LATimes or Fireball or Runtz-R-Us or somesuch.
Then, the NYTPuz misses out on some really primo puzs, maybe.
Now, I do know that "Crossword" is kinda like a title tradition for the NYTimes, tho. [ok. So THO ain't got Patrick Berry Usage Immunity. So shoot me.] So, might take one of them executive orders?
Other takes on this? … [p.p.s.s. Not on the "shoot me" part, btw.]
… Bueller? … Bueller? …



puzzlehoarder 4:50 PM  

If the NYT gave out a rookie of the year award this kid would be a shoo-in. Our host's praise was more grudging than gracious. If a puzzle doesn't make you puzzle what good is it? Smoking out the rebuses in those four corners was the most fun I've had in a long time. My order was TERN, LOON, CROW and lastly and most difficulty WREN. Based on HUH at 59D I originally entered a horribly misspelled TULOUSE at 62A for that short French painter. Had to erase that crap and let HEM and SMELTS come to the rescue. I don't know the writers initials from the soldiers so no DH misdirect. As often happens in puzzles ignorance trumps acumen. Hi@Nancy.

Tita 5:16 PM  

I can't tell y'all how happy I am at all the controversy and difference of opinion going on here in Rexville.
Delighted because it's about the puzzle's subjects - LITTLEBIRDIES.

@Anon@1:53 - thank you so much for your vote of confidence in my ornithological prowess. "It's doubtful that Tita mistook a Sharpie for a Coopers Hawk..."
I'm sure that my fame as The Parrot Whisperer" is what makes you think that my expertise extends to all our feathered friends.

Alas, I don't believe I have ever seen either bird before. I have seen a few live birds of prey up close at a few Audubon activities, but not these.
We've got plenty of red-tailed hawks - I can recognize them by their Nazgul-like screeches that turn my blood cold.

Thanks @OtherAnon for that link. Alas, it is still inconclusive for me. Only thing is those tailfeathers... They are square.

The CT DEEP site seems to back @FirstAnon:
History in Connecticut: The sharp-shinned hawk is a common migrant from the end of the summer until early November in Connecticut. Some individuals stay in the state during the winter, frequently preying on smaller birds visiting nearby bird feeders.
Interesting Facts: In the Northeast, the sharp-shinned hawk is the most common accipiter seen during migration. In Connecticut, sharp-shinned hawks are seldom seen except during fall migration, when they frequent open country, woodland edges and shorelines.

Turns out they are threatened in CT, so for that reason, I hope it was a Sharpie.

Anonymous 5:36 PM  

Sheesh! Birders and their holier-than-thou attitudes. This isn't eBird, it's a crossword puzzle blog.

Z 5:43 PM  

@Matt - Thursday is high alert day, followed by Sunday, for rebus and trickeration possibilities. Trick puzzles can and have appeared on any day of the week, but most often show up on Thursday. As to how one knows, for me it is usually having spaces that just won't fill easily, but today the clue/answer at 36A was a big give away, which made finding CROW, TERN, and LOON easy. With WREN I tried it in three or four squares until LOW RENT made sense.

@Roo Monster - Umberto ECO, pretty famous author, used to be almost as frequent in the puzzle as Eno and Ono. Nowadays we usually get some sort of global warming related clue.

@Moly Shu - Thanks. I should also confess to being a schadenfreude addict.

@Mohair Sam - I can't help but think about Star Trek and its "Prime Directive" when I read about people like Le Duc Tho. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon (of HUAC infamy before becoming president), truly a bipartisan effort in ignoring Washington's advice, all out of a fear of communism. Makes you wonder what Kennan and McNamara would make of our current administration, doesn't it.

Anon 1:53 5:59 PM  

@anon 2:17 a) I never said that Cooper's don't frequent bird feeders, simply that sharpies do. B) It's the middle of January - all b
irds are their full adult size. C) I live in North NJ, and we have year round resident sharpies

Mohair Sam 6:21 PM  

@Z - When I was a GI stationed in England in 1966, while Nam was red hot, I framed an editorial from the London Times and hung it on my office wall. It was titled "The United States is not the World's Policeman" - it was written by then U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. If you listened to Trump's Inaugural Address he said essentially the same thing. We can only hope this administration actually means it. I think they might.

As far as Le Duc Tho is concerned - neither side was keeping the truce. Dictators never quit until they get what they want, or they are defeated. Kissinger knew this too, the accord was always a sham.

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

Z said:

An anonymouse pissed me off yesterday. Rather than respond here, I did the good Christian thing and

Z, unless your name is just Z, you're an anonymouse, too.

gifcan 7:19 PM  

Sorry, but abortion is not health care. Selling body parts is not health care.

Anonymous 7:23 PM  

Great, fun puzzle. Bea was the first answer I penned; Tho was the second. I continue to be bewildered by criticism that focuses on the critic's ignorance of history, 20th Century pop culture, and any answer with which he is unfamiliar. I am not elderly, and I read more than comic books. Not to have heard of Le Duc Tho is dismaying.

Anonymous 7:27 PM  

Methinks the doctor should keep his opinions to himself.

Anoa Bob 8:03 PM  

M&A @4:25 I've said as much here, but it's been I'm guessing well over a year, maybe two ago. I've done puzzles without titles and ones with and I join you in being amazed as to why any editor would not use titles with their puzzles. It adds at minimum another theme entry, and since constructioneers don't have to worry about letter count constraints, they have more room to be creative and come up with a clever title that adds substantially to the overall puzzle quality.

In spite of the merits of having titles with puzzles, two top-tier venues, the NYT & LAT, don't have them. Oh, wait. They do, but just on Sunday. That makes it even more illogical, methinks. If it's okay for one day of the week, why not the others?

Anonymous 8:06 PM  

george w. had terrIErS, not SPANIELS. his dad had a springer, but "both bushes" did not. :( :( :(

Anonymous 8:08 PM  

Anon north jersey birder,
I'm not far from you. Below 195, so South Jersey. We have resident sharpies too. But not in anything like the number of coops.
I only suggested the question about the ID. It was you
Who chiimed in with the idea that it was doubtful anyone could mistake a coopers for a sharp skinned. I've birderd with some of the heavyweifhts,and been in their company when they've hedged on making the coop/sharpie call.
You sound like you're a birder. If you're up for up, I'd be happy to spend some time afield with you. SEOS are around. Always a treat.

the coop/ sharpie ID.

Anonymous 8:16 PM  

I enjoy this blog when it has the occasional diversion to things such a ornithology, abortion not so much.

Andrew Heinegg 8:24 PM  

Thought this was a tough but interesting and ultimately doable. I am personally shocked that, with all of the oldies around the blog, as my father used to call people of a certain age, there was no rememberance of Bea Bernadet as the woman next door on the Burns and Allen show. She was terrific with a signature laugh that was memorable indeed.

Anonymous 8:29 PM  

I never would have believed someone that would write that he/she would do the Christian thing by donating to an organization that commits partial-birth abortion on babies with Down Syndrome. Congratulations your schadenfraude worked.

Anonymous 8:39 PM  

Pardon my poor syntax on post at 8:29. I was a little upset.

Anonymous 8:54 PM  

Anon 839,
Nothing to pardon. Z and his pals' idea of healthcare is so warped it could put anyone off their game.

Nancy 8:56 PM  

Sharpies. Coopers. I have no idea what they are -- although we do have red tailed hawks in Central Park. But once again I'm feeling Nature Envy of those on the blog who live amongst the critters.

Phil 9:02 PM  

NosE before NAPE
yea to yes before AYE
Brainblock on S__Y for lively when I was able to ignore the PP cross It came to me.

But I was looking for a WREN so that helped THO I also was trying to fit robin somewhere.

HTF (Happy to finish) my new opposite to DNF

Anonymous 9:28 PM  


Sharpies is slang for sharp-skinned hawk. Coop or coopers means coopers hawk. They are true Hawks or accipters. They're marked by small heads, broad wings, and long tails. They're the common woodland raptor of North America.
Red tails are related. But they're buteos. Much bigger bodied than accipters. They also have rounded wings, but as you probably know
Thay have wide, broad tails. Think Pale Male of a couple of years ago.
The third kind of "hawk" is a falcon. They're also in the Big Apple. They have slender bodies, like a accipters, but they have very pointed wings, and yes, lol good tails.
There are other differences of course, but it's the work of a weekend to become conversant with critters in your hood.
You're more than up to it.
They're both regulars in NYC.

Phil 9:36 PM  


other reclues
NYE and ECO and I guess ARC along with mentioned THO

mac 9:38 PM  

The Oxen of the Sun and his capon win the day!

mac 9:46 PM  

...and I have to admit to orbs for asps at first as well.

Sherm Reinhardt 9:48 PM  

Entertaining moment for me was getting KIERAN from crosses, not knowing who that was, and thinking it was somewhat obscure (though I don't know many actors' names), and then googling "Famous Kierans" and right there on the splash photo of the first website, a photo of him.

Andrew Heinegg 9:56 PM  

You are a font of misinformation. Have you been offered a position in the Trump administration? Partial birth abortions of any kind are illegal and Planned Parenthood does not perform them. But, don't let the facts get in the way of interfering with women getting the care they need.

Did you lend your gun to the man who courageously tried to stop the boy prostitution ring in the pizzeria in D.C. run by Podesta and Hillary? You are truly a blessing to mankind.

Phil 9:58 PM  

TIPPI was curiously absent

Elle54 10:03 PM  

I think Bea was Cousin Pearl, Jethro Bodine's mom. ( Beverly Hillbillies). This led to the spin off Petticoat Junction. I think she played the piano for the silent movie theater. Anyone remember,"Ride them horses, Ben, Ben!" ( Ben Hur). Hooterville, the Hooterville cannonball, Jethrine (jethro's sister), Jethro eating his cereal from a mixing bowl

Anonymous 10:03 PM  

Semantics pal. They regularly perform third trimester abortions. You can call it whatever you want.

Anonymous 10:15 PM

Anonymous 10:20 PM  

I'm not a good linker but basically says preform children have no rights until they leave the womb. Sorry Andrew.

Anonymous 10:22 PM  

unborn or preborn not preform

Phil 10:36 PM  

Ooh google NYE is a flock of pheasnts... thank you @HM for not Hhitting us with that clue ;)
With a little squinting you should be able to get a haiku from everything.


Numinous 10:42 PM  

I had an early doctor's appointment and, stymied in the [WREN] corner, I abandoned the puzzle until I got home. Based on the clue, I was also trying for something like Toulouse Lautrec but just couldn't find a bird i there anywhere. Shabby finally saved the day. I don't know how I came up with it but LO[WREN}T sprang to mind. I had PTS and HEM and had to think deep and hard to remember his initials as T.E.. Thomas Edward LA[WREN]CE makes so much more sense than that American Leaguer, Designated Hitter LA[WREN]CE. Okay, okay, I just cheated and looked up what the T.E. represented.

DNF, because I had to look up the Culken guy. Otherwise I thought this was a pretty Gorram* good Thursday opus. Took me slightly over my average time but kept me engaged for most of the day pondering the rebus. CLOONEY was the first one I got. I knew that people rushing were going for a FRA[TERN]ITY or a sororITY. That gave me the Aha on E[TERN]AL. [CROW]N ROYAL was soon to follow. I think this was pretty remarkable debut so I'll be looking for more from Hal Moore.

Memory is hazy so I don't recall if it was a Coopers or a Red Shouldered hawk that was living in the trees behind the house we were living in last year. I do recall that she sounded like the red tails I heard in California. I bunch of little birds would be in the trees and on the lawns until a mockingbird would turn up and imitate her call and they'd all take off in a panic. I enjoyed watching them.

*Thank you whoever reminded me of Firefly/Serenity.

Anonymous 11:12 PM  

Ugh, hating this hysterical conversation about the extremely small percentage of woman who opt for late-term abortions for a whole host of reasons. Educate yourselves and then remember that it's someone else's body and not yours, and shut the hell up.

Lee Coller 11:21 PM  

I got the rebus right off, I had BUSTS and HIM, and the clue for 13 across a quickly realized had to be balloonist, the trick was figuring out how the rebus worked. I guessed "loon" and the rest fell into place. That was before I even found the revealer.

gifcan 11:32 PM  

I completed the center part of the puzzle first so I had the revealer. The likely place for each answer was one per corner.

I was thinking of 'little' birds, title, finch, even wren. Then it hit me, any bird becomes little when you cram it into one square.

Nice puzzle.

Big Jim 2:08 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
midnight madness 2:40 PM  

Baloney. If "a little birdie" keys to the rebus words, then by any rule of fair play the four birds have to be LITTLE birds. Wren? Yes, indeed. Crow? No, a crow is not a little bird. And loons and terns are, in fact, very LARGE birds. Taking it too literally? I think not -- the foundation of the puzzle must be accurate, and here it wasn't.

Phil 7:45 PM  

I think little as in 'fits in one square'

Babs 8:52 PM  

Agree,totally w/ anon #2. Come on, Rex.

JenCT 12:15 AM  

I just had to chime in on the hawk comments:

Like @Tita, I live in CT also, and have Cooper's Hawks stop by my house every single day. They usually get a Mourning Dove.

Last week, a Sharp-Shinned Hawk got a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, sadly. The woodpecker was almost bigger than the hawk! Though I see the Sharpies rarely, they do stop by occasionally.

Hi @Tita, @chefwen, @Rex, @Loren et al.

Burma Shave 10:16 AM  


IT’S Lesbos did STOP HIM and his CROWNROYAL lust.


Diana,LIW 1:02 PM  

I'm not a fan of the rebi, and face Thursday puzzles with a bit of apprehension. OTOH, I always enjoy it when I figure out a rebus puzzle and conquer it. As was the case today. Those little birdies had me scratching my head, but I got them all into their respective nests.

I think I saw a California Condor last year - perhaps it was a Turkey Hawk, but it was pretty huge. Whoever it was, it impressed me as a big birdie.

Personally, I have no problem with the size of the birds in today's fun game.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 1:04 PM  

A real toughie, but I solved it: triumph factor a boatload of PTS. Started in the center with BEA Benaderet of old "Petticoat Junction" fame, BLT and right there in the middle of a host of guys, DOD ELLA. Yeah, baby, I'll take All Of You.

It's a good place to get a foothold, especially if it contains the reveal line, as today's does. I don't typically hear that expression with the -IE ending, but it'll pass. The prexies' SPANIELS took me into the NE, where my time seemed ETERNAL till that word flashed into my mind. Oh, so: rebusiness! From then on it got a LITTLE easier...but not much. Cluing was Saturday-ish.

One blot: my moral universe had an ARm instead of an ARC. Can you get a CUP of ice cream? Oh, you mean like a CUP-shaped CONE?? Or, are we size-dieting: " Exactly one CUP, please." Ice cream is not soup or coffee. The only thing that saved me there was the fact that "mUP" makes even LESS sense.

How could I not know KIERAN Culkin (any relation to McCauley?), or that uber-famous, multi-award winning (?) "Igby Goes Down?" Who saw that one...both of you? But, it all crossed in.

I was more impressed by the theme--and execution--than OFL, and agree about the almost-clean fill. So I'll take advantage of a rare opportunity to lift my score directly from the grid: BIRDIE.

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

Good, fair puzzle if you pull all the rebus out. It really was for the birds.

rondo 1:49 PM  

ALITTLEBIRDIE tried to TELLME today would be the hated rebus. Knew it would be BALLOONIST, but only entered the B, because rebus-iness. Went over to the NE where things took a TERN for the better and the top half was done before the revealer. Steady from there on out.

Surprised of so few mentions of BEA Benaderet having a prominent role SUCHAS Gracie’s next-door neighbor and best friend on the Burns and Allen TV show, years before Petticoat Junction. Even I know that, and the B&A TV show started running years before I did.

Can’t look at PHOTOID without wanting it to rhyme with void.

Anyone with a voice like ELLA gets a yeah baby from me.

This one took a little extra time due to the BIRDIEs being stuffed into their random square cages. Time to relax, anyone want to share a STIFF one? IT’S on me.

centralscrewtinizer 3:50 PM  

Hardly a "gracious review" George. More like damned by faint praise. The puzzle review version of kicking the dog after a bad day. That it was a debut and Thursday rebus only adds insult to injury.
A great puzzle at any rate. Had a dismaying first ramble, but soon knocked down the two big central crosses and felt pretty good....for not very long. Could not find secret birds, but feeling certain CROWN ROYAL had to be there, I went looking more closely and came up with 'tern', which led to 'crow' and quickly 'wren'. Took a while to mop up in the NW since I had 'bumps' instead of BUSTS (pho looked phine) and, of course, 'orbs'.
Did Nancy ever figure out she had a DNF?

leftcoastTAM 4:48 PM  

Two wrong assumptions on my part made this much more difficult than it had to be: one was that the BIRDIES would indeed be "LITTLE", the other that they would be located symmetrically.

Getting CROW in CROWNROYAL early on disabused me of the first assumption. But I stuck with the second almost to the end.

Result was that CLOONEY didn't show up till late, having made the trip as a (non-symmetrical) BALLOONIST. On his own, KIERAN Culkin appeared late in the game, too.

Clever, tough, and fair, but requiring almost more time than it was worth.

Wooody2004 6:15 PM  

I liked the SLY reference to the FINE brothers, aka The Three Stooges, with CURLY, (T.E.) LAWRENCE, MO (MISSOURI) and sometimes SHOP. I thought they had a short about little birdies but I was mixing them up with W. C. Fields in My Little Chickadee. However, Google pulled up a song by 3 S's called "Two Little Birdies". I'd embed it if I knew how.

I loved the BUSTS aloft over a CUP.

I'll STOP.

leftcoastTAM 6:22 PM  

There's a lot of rationalizing (above, among the realtimers) of the LITTLE adjective for "birds", as they refer to them. The actual wording/spelling in the puzzle is BIRDIES. Would you call a CROW, a TERN, or a LOON a "BIRDIE"? No, and especially not A LITTLE BIRDIE".

It's a small point, but it annoys me enough to raise it.

leftcoastTAM 6:36 PM  

@Wooody: Funny call on the BUSTS ALOFT A CUP. (An A-CUP, though, wouldn't hold a whole lot.)

Wooody2004 7:01 PM  

@TAM AYE, there's the rub.

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