So-called father of Czech music / THU 4-13-17 / Alternatives to cabs / Certain opera singer for short / Uncommon period in basketball / Strength of solution in chemistry / Bygone fuel giant with torch in its logo / Capital more than two miles above sea level

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Constructor: Michael Shteyman

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: TRIPLE OVERTIME (54A: Uncommon period in basketball ... or a hint to 19- and 37-Across and 4- and 48-Down) — each theme answer has three OTs in it

Theme answers:
  • GO TO THE OTHER SIDE (19A: Made it across)
  • DOT DOT DOT (4D: Continuation indication)
  • ONE POTATO TWO POTATO (37A: Start of a counting rhyme)
  • HOT TO TROT (48D: Eager)
Word of the Day: OTTER POPS (39D: Frozen treats with "six zippy flavors") —
Otter Pops are a brand of freezies—a packaged, frozen dessert—sold in the United States. The product consists of a clear plastic tube filled with a fruit-flavored liquid. Some varieties claim to contain 100% fruit juice. Otter Pops are a frozen treat, but stores generally sell them at room temperature and the consumer puts them in the freezer. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a well-made puzzle that I found totally boring. Got the rebus gimmick very early, and then just assumed I was hunting "OT" squares ... didn't get that there were three of them in selected answers until I hit the revealer. At least the revealer gave the repetitive exercise of filling in "OT" squares some raison d'etre. DOT DOT DOT seems like a preeeeetty cheap way to get your "OT"s. Also, ONE POTATO TWO POTATO is not as coherent and stand-alone as you'd like a themer to be. I mean the clue (37A: Start of a counting rhyme) basically shouts "not a thing" at you. But as I say, this thing has a concept, it executes that concept solidly, and then fills things with utterly inoffensive fill, the highlight of which (for me) was PUMP IRON alongside OTTERPOPS. That pairing gives the grid some color. The rest of the grid just sorta happens.

Theme came to me pretty easily after I got the three non-theme-related Acrosses in the NW (IPAD, ENID, SADAT) and then pieced together a couple of the Downs, and then, with B-G- in place, knew what 13A: Close-minded sort had to be (BIGOT). DOT DOT DOT and PINOTS followed hard after, and then it was a flat sprint. Finding OTs never proved hard, and once you got one, you could turn up the cross real quick. Slow moments came at LHASA (I still can never decide if that second letter is an "H" or "L" ... every time!), and IN SUM (wanted IN TOTAL, briefly—and mistakenly—thinking it had an "OT" in it...). Also thought OTTAWA was OTASCA (it's ITASCA ... and it's a *lake*, argh), and couldn't see the last three letters in MEZZO until I finally got the first two (Z BAR!?). Also, unfortunately, the horrible RECT occupied more of my time than any other answer in the SE (64A: Door shape: Abbr.). You never suspect ... RECT. That clue / answer pairing is about as exciting as a door shape abbr. Most confusing clue was probably 42A: One drawn to kids' entertainment? (TOON). It's a great clue, but all I could think of, before I got the right answer, was "... pervert?" And now if you'll excuse me, I vant to go to Z BAR.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


evil doug 6:39 AM  

O say obey oye gosh shoot pooh shoo dot dot dot...

GeezerJackYale48 6:43 AM  

Z bar? Harrumph and pshaw. While I am it: pooh. Otherwise good fun.

Lewis 6:43 AM  

Slow start, then swaths filled in, and next thing I knew I was in the top middle, in a state of AGITA over a wealth of answer possibilities that didn't pan out. That section took me as long as the rest of the puzzle. I do like its rhyming cross of SHOO/POOH. Maybe that will turn into a Gridiom for a rhyming cross, a "shoopooh"?

Betseeee 6:48 AM  

The clue on 13A bothered me. I know "close-minded" is common usage these days, but it's nonsensical. Maybe I'm closed-minded about these things, but I expect better grammar from the NYT.

Loren Muse Smith 6:50 AM  

Funny how you get that rebus tickle, tooling around looking for low-hanging fruit, finding none. Well, of course I had the gimme SMETANA. Right.

OTROS/HOT TO TROT finally led the way. Whew.

I was just asking some younger co-workers if they ever did ONE POTATO to figure out who would be It. Nope. They had no idea what I was talking about. (In Chattanooga, it was not ONE POTATO… but rather one tay two tay three tay four… Couldn’t be bothered with the extra syllables; we had a game to play.)

I really, really appreciated the two down themers - seeing the three OTs so close together was satisfying. Even DOT DOT DOT.

SALSA DIP felt kinda weird. (Like eating steak meat.) It’d make more sense to me as a dance move.

@Lewis – like your SHOOPOOH. Been there, done that, tracked it into the house. Damn dogs.

@Betseee – I need to try to be more opened-minded to your complaint.

BarbieBarbie 6:57 AM  

No problem with RECT because it fell out of the crosses. No problem with MEZZO because I am one. The theme was fun, but I didn't get the "triple" until it was over.. Weirdly, I got Dotdotdot with no crosses and no theme-grok.i had to leave it for later to figure where the rebus fell.
Been thinking about yesterday's cis/trans clue. To me cis/trans means "same side" and "opposite side." Molecules, good. Oceans, good. Genders, not quite-- I know it's used that way but I think it's twisting the language. Not that words don't evolve, so I guess here's an example.

John Child 6:59 AM  

A one-l Lhasa is a city,
But a two-l Llasa just ain't pretty.

I finished with PINOS at 2-D, {Cab alternatives}, and was righteously furious. What utter rubbish! I had the bib of my cranky pants mostly buttoned up when I saw the missing rebus. As Emily Litella said, "Never mind."

Trombone Tom 7:04 AM  

What @Rex said . . .

Glimmerglass 7:10 AM  

Pretty easy for a Thursday. I blew it with MEZZO, probably because I've seldom seen it written. I never heard of a ZBAR, and I spelled MEZZO like it sounds, with a T instead of the first Z.

kitshef 7:11 AM  

Outlier here. Hardest puzzle in over a year; completely RECT me.

Top central section was particularly thorny. 5/6/7/14D and 5/14/17A all either WoEs, tricky clues, or very vague clues.

After a long struggle, still ended up with a four-letter DNF. Cross of SMETA_A/_ALA was guess-a-consonant. Went with F. 2nd guess was K.

Other problem was ME___/_BAR/_EST/_YE, where I went with MELBA.

@Hartley70, you will note that all my problems were directly related to classical music/opera.

Little Timmy 7:13 AM  

That cross of SMETANA and NALA is kinda rough. I got it, because I am a super-genius and because I just flat out guessed right the first time. I've never heard of either. I'll bet NALA is from The Lion King. Never saw it. It reminds me of the old TV cartoon Kimba. Hated that too.

r.alphbunker 7:25 AM  

Had to get rid of IBAR as the answer to 60A {Letter-shaped construction piece} in order to get 50D {Certain opera singer, for short} MEZZO which I had never heard of but it look enough like mezzanine for me to chance it. I now know that it is a female singer with a voice pitched between soprano and contralto.

Details are here.

puzzle hoarder 7:29 AM  

As always I was too literal and mentally inflexible to figure out the rebus in the first two sections. The NW was a slam dunk by comparison and easily gave up the key at ITHINKNOT. With the exception of SMETANA the rest of the fill was simple and it was just a matter of where the rebuses fit. The SE was particularly tricky and it has a cramped truncated look compared to the much more elegant NW. Overall this was a fun solve.

Irene 7:31 AM  

Good one, with plenty of amusingly clued answers: Yodel; Toon; Enid; Spy.

But Otterbars was beyond me. Are they sold in limited regions?

And I don't believe zbar.

Forsythia 7:46 AM  

Thank you @kitschef! I got the puzzle but hard slogging. No prob with the counting song, but I doubt my 30-somethings ever used it. I didn't know OTTERPOPS, although I am guessing I had them as a child but they were called freezer pops. Put in doubLE before TRIPLE...and that gave me the aha when I saw the OT OT OT in the theme answers. I must need a second cup of coffee to get a rebus puzzle not on paper! Way too many write overs with the online mechanics for me.

Bill Weeden 7:52 AM  

How does the video you posted fit the theme? Sorry if I'm missing something obvious but I can't get it.

Greg 7:53 AM  

And I will bet a silk kielbasa
There isn't any three-l Lllasa

pmdm 8:00 AM  

r.alphbunker: Don't believe everything you read. There are four divisions of women singers. From highest to lowest: soprano, mezzo soprano, alto, contra alto. So a mezzo is pitched between a soprano and contralto, but that is misleading as so is an alto. To be 100% specific, a mezzo's ranges lies between that of a soprano and an alto.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

42A One drawn to kids' entertainment?

Shouldn't that be "for" kids' entertainment? How is a cartoon drawn to kids' entertainment? Do the characters step out of the cells and crash the party? Pooh!

Tim Pierce 8:05 AM  

The SMETANA/NALA cross was indeed rough. I'm surprised Rex didn't call that out immediately as an ugly blot on the fill. I've never much cared for The Lion King so "mate of 8-across" didn't help me a lot. Combined in that corner with the oddly vague "Power bit" clue for WATT (I kept thinking of drill bits) and the OTTAWA river, that hole was tough to fill.

chefbea 8:08 AM  

Worst puzzle of the week!!! Couldn't figure it out. Had onion dip for 8 down. DNF

Birchbark 8:16 AM  

ZBAR is legitimate. It's what the bear did to my birdfeeder post in the meadow last week. Really smiled at the YODEL clue, once cracked.

Elle54 8:19 AM  

When I see OT, I think of my profession, Occupational Therapy! The constructor inadvertently designed a puzzle to help us celebrate 100 years of our profession in April, Occupational Therapy month. Congratulations to all the great OT's out there!

razerx 8:34 AM  
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Knitwit 8:43 AM  

I had fun with this one! A great ah moment when I figured out the rebus early on.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Liked it.

RAD2626 8:55 AM  

Knew SMETANA but thought it was spelled SMEatNA so that slowed things up for a bit. Like @John Child and Rex' writeup had the erroneous GO TO THE OTHER SIDE which left us with the obviously dopey PINOS. I never corrected it but the app said I got the puzzle correct. Must be any of the rebus letters is an acceptable answer in the app. I give myself a 1/2 DNF. Thought the concept, execution, and fill were all good. Truly do not know how the constructor keeps it straight. No computer can help with the rebus interlock. Nice puzzle.

Hartley70 8:56 AM  

Well I am never going to complain about a rebus because I love those little suckers. At some point I always start wondering just how many letters can be squeezed in one square, like college kids in a VW bug back in the day. Today was just little old OT so the limit still hasn't been reached. The longer the rebus, the better the online solvers will do. I'd like my peeps to have the advantage for once.

Seeing BIGOT and the DOTs right away made this an easier Thursday than usual, but the theme was CUTE. CUTE reminds me of OTTERS which remind me of OTTERPOPS. What is an OTTERPOP? It must be a West Coast frozen treat.

I have no idea how to explain ESTS as sport lingo. I seem to remember EST as a strange type of Californian therapy session performed over a long weekend in the woods. I bet they didn't make time for televised sports either.

Nancy 8:57 AM  

Oh what fun! The puzzle was driving me crazy, until I found the revealer. Then, even once I knew that there would be a triple OT, I kept missing one of the OTs in just about every theme answer. (Except for DOT DOT DOT, of course.) So that the puzzle kept on driving me crazy, which is the joy of the whole thing. I agree with @kitshef that this was hard -- though not quite as hard as he seemed to find it. Such clever construction, don't you think? Three OTs in every answer! This would have been easier if I'd known LIOTTA, but LIOTA seemed just as right to me. (LIOLA, leading to LITER at 52D, was also a distinct possibility.) Once again, chemistry was a woe, as I never heard of a TITER. But every time a theme answer fell into place, I said Aha! Which turned out to be a lot of Ahas for one glorious morning. Delightful.

Arden 9:01 AM  

Well done but way too easy. Saw rebus within first few minutes. Disappointed that it fell so early.

Stanley Hudson 9:02 AM  

Enjoyable start to Thursday.

puzzlehoarder 9:03 AM  

My first set of comments disappeared into the ozone. Maybe these will take.
The NE was where I started. Anywhere there puzzle was rebus free or nearly so it was quite easy. ITHINKNOT gave up the rebus. The SE was still tricky even with the revealer. That section has a very cramped truncated look compared to the much more elegant NW. SMETANA had me digging through the hoard to see for myself just how many times I could write it downn in the past and still have it look completely new. I remember those frozen squeeze pops but I have no idea where the OTTER comes from. Overall a fun solve.

Mohair Sam 9:12 AM  
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Z 9:18 AM  

Unlike @glimmerglass I have seen MEZZO spelt and unlike @r.alphbunker I even sorta know what it is (sopranos who can't hit the high notes*) so I threw down MEZZO no problem. The resulting Z-BAR seemed unlikely so I went with a t-BAR and wondered what sort of prole spells it MEtZO. A BASE DNF.

Unlike @anon8:02, I looked at the use of "to" as a nice prepositional misdirect. Just remember, prepositions are linguistic contortionists.

*Seriously? The "sorta" didn't tip you off that it's a joke?

evil doug 9:18 AM  

Otter Pops are for pussies. Eat Bomb Pops! The politically incorrect frozen treat shaped like a Titan II nuclear missile!

Nancy 9:20 AM  

@Hartley (8:56) -- "The longer the rebus, the better the online solvers will do" ??? Why on earth is that? I should think it would be just the opposite.

And also Hartley, was your tongue firmly in your cheek when you asked why ESTS are "sports lingo"? Because they're not. A "ballpark figure" is an estimate, whether you're talking about a batter's number of RBIs or the height of the Empire State Building. As in: "I'm not sure if this number is precise or not, but it's somewhere in the ballpark of what the correct answer is."

Tita 9:20 AM  

Loved it! Though a DNF due to @Glimmer's MEtZO.

@lms... I'll always try to be more opened-minded, thanks to you.

I don't buy Rex's complaints today. This was everything a rebus should be. I found it pretty tough. It took me a long time to suss the theme, avoiding the revealer as I did.
dyne before WATT and dvorzak before SMETANA made it hard to see that themer.

Clue for RECT is an abomination...that whole Corner is pretty awful. But I didn't care as I was solving. Who was it here who coined "cheap puzzle date"?

Thanks for making my Thursday, Mr. Shteyman.

Betseeee 9:27 AM  

Hee! Now you made me think it through, because I've seen the argument (which you may not even be making but I've already started to type...) that "close" is correct because it matches the tense of "open." But my thinking on this is that "open-minded" feels right because being open minded is a present-tense kind of attribute, open to change. But "closed-minded" means you've rejected new thoughts--you have previously closed your mind to them. Also, I always read that with a soft "s" as in close = nearby, which really makes no sense.

I never tried to articulate this before. Thanks for prompting the thought. :)

Mohair Sam 9:31 AM  
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Mr. Fitch 9:32 AM  

This was easy for me except for north for some reason. I wanted SCAT and EYE, and didn't know the Czech guy. Sometimes once I latch into "this has to be it" I have a hard time brainstorming alternatives.

Mark 9:39 AM  

The puzzle was great.

GILL I. 9:39 AM  

FUN...My solving experience was a bit like @Nancy's. BIG[OT] gave me the OT OT OT idea but DANG DANG DANG I had trouble finding exactly where the OT's otta go.
My first counting idea was thinking the EENIE MEENIE one but that ended in TOE. So that was a WOE. OH...ONE POTATO - that one! insert an emoji smiley face.
BEANS OYE OTROS RECT just made me say CUTE but I don't understand why a smart-alecky snot is not CURT.
PINOTS are dopey? My favorite kinda wine. Where's NCA Pres...?
In my choir singing days, I was a Mezzo. I so wanted to be a soprano but I could never quite hit the screeching high notes. My music teacher always made me sing "The Lords Prayer" and when I got to "Hallowed Be Thy Name" she yelled're a MEZZO!!!. As I got older I became an Alto and now I'm pretty sure I could try out for Baritone.
@Hartley. Number one son loved OTTERPOPS. They had to be grape and they took up the entire freezer. I actually tried one and kept thinking this would go well as a swizzle stick in a Manhattan.
The days of EST....! My San Francisco girlfriend endured countless hours listening to that idiot Erhard. She spent her hard earned money being told that she could not go to the bathroom.
Thank you MS...this got me in a good MOOD.

QuasiMojo 10:00 AM  

Thank God for Ray Liotta. Even though I haven't seen "Goodfellas" (I'm not a Scorsese fan, all those F-bombs you know) I knew of him and thought I guess I've been spelling his name wrong all these years (at least in my mind.) But once I forced that extra T in there, I gOT the theme and finished the puzzle in a "flash."

I am such a literalist that I thought "Swiss air lines" must be "contrails" -- then I wondered about "yodel" but since when does a yodel have words? So the "lines" part of it threw me off. Even musically I wonder if a yodel has lines. It's just a question of changing pitch. I need a Ricola after all that. Or perhaps a bowl of Muesli.

I agree about "closed-minded" although apparently dictionaries these days don't. It's similar to "cut-and-dry" which is really supposed to be "cut-and-dried."

What on earth is an Otter Pop? Oh for the days when Good Humor used to come right to my house.

Charles Flaster 10:10 AM  

Very easy and enjoyable.
Creative cluing for
In 1957, North Carolina defeated Kansas
(Wilt Chamberlain) in (TRIPLE OVERTIME)(think I saw it on TV )to win the NCAA basketball championship.
More amazing UNC won the game before, semi finals, ALSO IN TRIPLE OVERTIME.
Mind blowing!! What are the odds of that happening again?
Thanks MS

Charles Flaster 10:23 AM  

Sorry--"more amazingly"

Lindsay 10:24 AM  

I usually start in the SE corner so --- kind of pathetic but --- my first answer was RECT. Couldn't think of what else it might be, unless you live in a hobbit house.

Promptly found the revealer TRIPLE OVER TIME and concluded that the key concept was "over" and the theme would be stacked. Which, together with a lack of movie-lion knowledge slowed me down a bit.

I've seen L-bar enough that I initially left square #60 open so MEZZO posed no problem, though I did fall into the PINO(T)S trap at first. Not being a wine drinker.

Loren Muse Smith 10:31 AM  

@Charles Flaster – Mom sat in her living room in Newton, NC and listened to that game in front of the radio. She was friends with Lennie Rosenbluth, Tommy Kearns, Quigg, et al. We have the cover of that DTH framed. I found it in a box of her college keepsakes.

@Betseeee – I honestly gave it no thought, either – just typed that to be a smarty pants. Now that I think about it, I agree that closed minded is a better match for open minded – two adjectives, not two verbs.

@QuasiMojo – cut and dry, skim milk, ice tea, whip cream, king size bed, wax paper. Close minded… I can’t summon up the energy to care. Maybe I use to. ;-)

I certainly don’t see this trend as some kind of grammar apocalypse. Now a grammar apocope… well, yeah. Hah. Unapocalyptic apocope.

Charles Flaster 10:48 AM  

Wow. I remember a lot of UNC players were from NYC!! Frank McGuire was the coach and he was from NYC. Amazing game. My wife went to Overbrook HS and graduated ten years after Wilt.

Ellen S 10:48 AM  

What @Glimmerglass said. Only I had seen MEZZO spelled, but couldn't believe Z-BAR was a thing, so I went with MEtZO.

Urban Dictionary says a "Z-Bar" is a Xanax tablet. Seems more likely.

"Ballpark figures" and "not eso(s) or esto(s)" seem to be this season's EELs.

Otherwise, I liked it.

evil doug 10:49 AM  

UNC? Death penalty, baby!

Ellen S 10:57 AM  

@Evil - how about a slogan: "Eat Bomb Pops, but be careful not to drop them!"

The Clerk 10:58 AM  

Strongly disliked this puzzle. Rebus was fine but the fill was yuck.

Hungry Mother 11:06 AM  

MEZZO was fair enough, but I didn't see it without the red letters. The theme was a good one.

Charles Flaster 11:07 AM  

Please read below.

Ellen S 11:09 AM  

@Loren, @Betseeee -- Glad you finally agree. I don't think it's complicated, though: look at a door. If it's shut, it's "closed", and if ajar, it's "open". So, yes, adjectives and I think they've been used that way my whole life. Different in the South? In the midwest, the apocope apocalypse in that case happened a looong time ago.

QuasiMojo 11:11 AM  

@LMS, I'd forgotten about some of those! Apocope is a very cool word. Thanks for sharing it.

RooMonster 11:12 AM  

Hey All !
Had doubLEOVERTIME for a while, which was screwing up the themers. Had GOT OT HE OTHERSIDE and gave a sideways Huh? look at it. Also screwed up the HOT TO TROT area, when thinking there were only two OTs. Fun stuff. Couldn't think of SIMBA forever, but once I got NALA, the ole brain finally clicked and I got it. Who the heck is SMETANA? Filled from crosses.

Add me to the list of DNFers with tBAR. What kind of nonsense is ZBAR? Blargh. (Hi Rex) So, we have (random letter)BARs, NUTs, and STARs. OYE!

Tried to fit Republican into 13A. Closed minded. Actually Narrow minded, as if something doesn't fit what they think is correct, then it's wrong, and there won't be any other way to think about it. To appease the people I will inevitably piss off from that statement, I don't care who is President, whether Rep or Dem. But, Trump? Hell, Pence would've been better.

IN SUM, fun puz, lots of blocks, but okay given the theme. It was CUTE.

O SAY can you not be SAD AT

Tita 11:22 AM  

@Quasi... One of my favorite things about our neighborhood growing up - Bob the Good Humor man. The coolest truck ever. Real bells - not electronic - that he would jingle. And Chocolate Eclair ice cream bars. Heaven.

Once my older brother decided to play a trick on Bob. Planning his devious stunt for a week, he carefully constructed a replica of himself, stuffing a pair of jeans, shirt, and drawing a face on a paper bag. The Yankees cap to top it off was the final touch.
The balcony at the front of our house was the stage for his pre-meditated trick. He crouched behind the parapet, and when he heard Bob pull over, he made the dummy jump up yelling "Wait for me!! Wait for me!!", then threw the dummy over the side.
He erupted in gleeful laughter, imagining Bob's horror at the thought of his favorite customer plunging to his death.

Well, Bob never even noticed. Just went on giving the rest of us our Creamsicles. Took my brother years to get over that disappointment.

Aah, summertime.

Glow 11:26 AM  

My problem with Smetana - who I never heard of, sadly - was that I had Smemana, which looked totally wrong (and was). I carelessly saw SADA_ and put in Sadam, without carefully re-reading that clue. My bad.

Glow 11:30 AM  

Oops - meant Smemona.

Nancy 11:36 AM  

@Loren (10:31) and @Quasi -- Never heard the word "acapope." What a great word. And concept. For me, it's a pronunciation thing -- the acapope versions are so much easier to say. I know I say "skim milk", "ice tea" and "whip cream". But I also fervently hope that I would never, ever write them. Here's a test for all of you: Say "I'm not going to do that" out loud. Did you just say: "I'm not gonna do that"? Well didjoo? Or are none of you as sloppy in speech as I tend to be?To me, it isn't about how you say it; it's only about how you write it. And what I write is "skimmed milk", "iced tea", and "whipped cream." And I do think that that's a distinction worth holding onto.

Rob 11:43 AM  

Technically a DNF for me. WTF is a ZBAR? MEZZO is fine, but ZBAR defies belief.

I'm considering this one a completion because I correctly solved the ones that are actual words.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:53 AM  

I mildly objected to 62A, UPTOP in 5 etters which should have been 4.And I had bOsH for 6D, which messed up that area a lot. I thik someone's already pointed out the silliness of SALSADIP, the Spanglish edition of Shrimp Scampi.

old timer 12:12 PM  

Z bars exist and the clue properly said "construction piece". Used in flashing, I find. "Skim milk" was at one time the ordinary name for what we now call "nonfat milk." Goes back to the days when milk was not homogenized. You skimmed the cream off the top of the bottle and what was left was skim milk. I have never seen "skimmed milk" though I agree with @Nancy that "whip cream" is an abomination and "ice tea" while fairly common is not as literate as "iced tea."

I thought the puzzle was fairly clever. Took a while to figure out the rebuses, which I only got after finding TRIPLEOVERTIME and concluding there would the three OT's in some of the answers. That gave me ONE POTATO TWO POTATO after which I got the others.

Back in the day I often listened to classical music on the radio, so SMETANA was a gimme.

Nate 12:22 PM  

I genuinely hate rebuses. Like, loathe them. I wish they were not a thing.

I gave up halfway through this puzzle, but had I figured out the rebus gimmick, I probably would have fared better. Ughhhhhhhhhh. I'll dig into the archives for my Thursday puzzle, thank you very much.

MBI 12:34 PM  

Oh you poor souls who haven't had Otter Pops! ...actually they're just regular freezer pops, nothing really special about them. But I remember them!

Also, I looked up what a Z Bar is and they're weird-looking

Unanymous 12:49 PM  

@Rex, it takes a dang 'Merican to conflate the capital of Canada with a lake (or state park) in Minnesota. Gaaak.

@Loren, opened-minded, teehee

SPOND 12:55 PM  
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Anoa Bob 1:04 PM  

I like SMETANA's music but misspelled his name---SMETe
na---at first.

With AMOCO in place at 53D, I confidently dropped in arCh for the door shape at 64A. What!? Doors can be shaped like RECTifiers? They can be RECTilinear?

I have, with much gnashing of teeth and beating of breast, railed against Z BAR in the past, lamenting that it exists only as a crossword puzzle construction piece, and no where else. I felt like I was a lone voice shouting into the wind, so glad to see some others question its legitimacy today.

Xwordinfo says it has been used seven times during Mr. Shortz's tenure. Today's constructor has used it three times, the first in 2002. Z BAR's crossword construction piece cousin, the I BAR, has appeared so many times I lost count. It's debut was late in the previous century, in '94.

The "letter-shaped" comes from an end-on view of the construction piece. A piece shaped like a Z would be inherently weak and unstable, laughably so, and would do a pancake collapse under load. The only legitimate letter-shaped construction piece I know of is the I BEAM. I BAR? That's a watering hole for egotists.

I betcha, not one, but two six-packs of Labatt Blue that we will see one of these _BARs again in a NYT grid, and sooner rather than later. That letter sequence is just too convenient to let their questionable existence beyond crosswords get in the way.

Mohair Sam 1:08 PM  

If I'd ever eaten a mazzo bread I would have written MEZZO and avoided the dnf, but it's matzo bread (and you can get it mixed into balls). So I blame my Jewish friends, and Happy Passover to them anyway.

Lasha before LHASA is spite of having read "Seven Years in Tibet" - Double before TRIPLE sent us chasing the wrong geese for a while. Fala before NALA too, because I'm a dog person.

NBA theme on day after the regulation season ends and the playoffs begin overtime. Nice.

Random Bystander 1:09 PM  

@GreaterFalls, there's no OT in UP_TOP.

Teedmn 1:39 PM  

This took longer than I thought it should. I got the rebus at SHO[OT] but I had the hardest time seeing the rebus when it spanned two words. D[OT]D[OT]D[OT], no problem, but H[OT]T[OT]R[OT], I THINK N[OT]. For those [OT]ROS, I couldn't seem to slip in the OTs into the right squares without adding A L[OT] OF black ink too.

50D was a near DNF. With MEi_O in place (hello i-BAR) I was blank on what gESTure might be a kick or punch at 63A. And I was starting to strain my memory to remember the names of the characters in "The Mikado" as a possible "certain opera singer", MEi_O looking vaguely Japanese to me, when a run of the alphabet gave me ZEST and a reason to turn i-BAR into Z-BAR.

LHASA started out as LA PAZ and then morphed into AS(t)ANA (I can't explain it). Luckily I didn't put in the bowlful of SALtines at 8D (fun party!). In any case, I was in OT for my usual Thursday time but it was all fun, so thanks, MS!

Chim cham 1:40 PM  

Especially funny write up today, Rex:D

QuasiMojo 2:05 PM  

@TitaA -- I am so glad that the Good Humor Man didn't notice your brother's gag. He might have been traumatized. lol.

jae 2:24 PM  

Easy Thurs. for me. Had eye before SPY and it took a couple tries to get the OTs right in the POTATO answer, but that was about it for snags. I did have a technical DNF. Like many of you I was about to put in MEtZO but checked with my wife who has more of a musical background than I do and she gave me the second Z.

Pretty cute and smooth, liked it.

JC66 2:49 PM  

Learned SMETANA years ago and never forgot him because his name means sour cream in Yiddish and my wag of a father always asked for his coffee "with smetana."


Ever eat a pizza?

Mohair Sam 3:34 PM  

@JC - Peet-za pie? Sure, and I make the best one in Allentown.

RAD2626 3:36 PM  

PINOTS are great. Marcassin, Martinelli, Peter Michael all spectacular year after year. The word PINOS without the rebus T Is dopey.

Also thought NALA had something to do with Narnia but the Aflac lion did not fit.

Cassieopia 3:37 PM  

Smetana composed The Moldau, one of my favorite pieces of music, so that was easy. Ray Liotta gave the rebus away and the rest was just plain fun.

@evil, amazing prescience.

evil doug 3:43 PM  

...and delivered by my beloved C-130,too, Cassie....

Aketi 3:43 PM  

Lucked out and despite almost no sleep, got the YODEL and OT quickly in the wee hours with GOT TO THE OTHER SIDE. Then went back to yesterday's puzzle that I didn't do because I was on the road yesterday and the last clue I filled in merely because I spiraled my way there was OTS.

Hahaha, @evildoug, if you watch Trevor Noah on the topic of what I grew up euphemistically calling woosies, he sheds a whole knew light on their strength. Every single Black Belt Martial Artist that I know who gave birth to a baby, mentally chanted "not as bad as labor" during their black belt test, because we remeber how powerful our bodies really are when we pushed a baby out of own own.

ahecht 4:01 PM  

If it were me, I would've replaced MEZZO with METTA (Buddhist benevolence), leaving you with a perfectly reasonable TBAR, TEST, and AYE. However, according to XWordInfo, Will isn't a fan of METTA.

Milo Yiannopoulos 4:37 PM  

Otter pops? Bomb pops?

I prefer cocksicles.

Mohair Sam 6:26 PM  

@Evil Doug - Yes, the C-130. Redemption!

Andrew Heinegg 10:56 PM  

What OFL said, exactly.

Unknown 12:41 PM  

The problem with the guess "Itasca" for "tributary of the St. Lawrence River is not just that it's a lake, but that it's in the middle of Minnesota, 1000 miles from the St. Lawrence AND is the source of the Mississippi river.

Anonymous 10:54 PM  

I definitely did not read every comment here, but... Did any one else assume "ipod" was too easy for the first answer and assume the answer was "thinkpad" ("think" occupying the first square and making the answer to 1 down "thinking" (of you)

Geophany 1:37 AM  

I solve on the iOS app, and it gave me the victory screen before I could type in HOT, so I finished with HO TO TROT. hmmm

Burma Shave 10:02 AM  


She’d STRUT so CUTE and PERT and PRIM, and PUMPIRON like a fighter
so I GOTTOTHEOTHERSIDE of the gym, and GOSH, YES, the GAP got TITER.
so I got UPTOP in a FLASH to go, OYE, like it was TRIPLEOVERTIME.


BS2 10:15 AM  

Be ONALERT - all theme answers in order of their appearance.

spacecraft 10:52 AM  

In a record high-scoring affair, the T's beat the O's 28-26, thus averting [DOTDOTDOT] well, you know. Got into it with DOD RITA, a rare TRIPLE award holder. The revealer soon followed, and the great phrase HOTTOTROT gave the store away. So yeah, easy.

Hand UPTOP (but NOT for a ^5) for that mess of a SE corner. I guess theme constraints did it in, though the NW fared better with the same handicap. I have never in my life heard of OTTERPOPS, so that baby was 100% crosses. Most of the rest was pretty easy and unobjectionable. Screwed up my rebus squares in the grid spanner by inverting some T's and O's, so a bit of ink spillage there.

Another hand up for WOE is a ZBAR? Zan's LASTNAME? ITHINKNOT. Par.

rondo 12:39 PM  

@spacey – a ZBAR is simply an NBAR tipped on its side. In Russian it’s an ИБАР (ee bar) tipped on its other side. Clear now? Me too.

As to the rest of the puz, Ray LIOTTA and the revealer and HOTTOTROT saved the day. “Knew” it was BIGOT and ENID in the NW, but Angst instead of AGITA held them back for a while. And then it poured DOTDOTDOT SADAT OTTAWA WATT A LOT, etc.

OTTERPOPS?? By crosses.

Before BP came calling, there was AMOCO, preceded by Standard. One of the two gas stations in my little town was still called the Standard station for years after they became AMOCO. And the other by the family’s name who owned it previous to Conoco. Old habits DOTDOTDOT . . .

YES SIR, yeah baby RITA Moreno is a SHOO-in, GOSH what talent.

EDKOCH just won’t go away, but INSUM, even with my usual dislike of rebi, this puz could hardly be RECT.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

This one rated a giant "HUH?" Rejected.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Some of these were tricky. Especially Fiddesticks. Aside from the fact that the t is missing three times in the long answers,is there any other pattern to the omission of the letter t? Some answers not even connected the long ones also omit the t. Ottawa,for instance. And Otterpots.

Did Mr T. write this crossword? We pity the fools.


Torb 1:57 PM  

I've installed thousands of feet of it.

Torb 1:58 PM  

I've installed thousands of feet of it.

leftcoastTAM 2:25 PM  

The TRIPLEOVERTIMEs, OTs, were clever enough and not hard to find once the theme was exposed and the revealer clue pointed the way.

Felt pretty good about my "solve" until, after coming here, saw an error at the MEZZO/ZBAR cross. ZBAR?! tBAR yes, ZBAR no, no, no. So stuck with MEtZO/tBAR.

Downer MOOD ensues.

Diana,LIW 2:52 PM  

Never heard of OTTERPOPS until the Bloomsday Race this month, where kids were selling them along the course. Then there was an article in the paper about how the race coordinators hate the OTTERPOPS because people leave those slick wrappers on the route and they're hard to clean up. So OTTERPOPS was my first clue to rebidum.

GOTTOTHEOTHERSIDE sealed the deal. Yesterday, I got the puzzle but forgot to look for/at the theme. Today I got the theme and the themers, but some other PPP caused a dnf. Maybe I could put the two puzzles together?

But oh POOH, I got the rebus!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 3:49 PM  

Well, this was fun, easy/hard puzzle for me. My hang-up was self-inflicted in the NE, where I cleverly "sussed out" that, while I was in the NE, all the OTs were on the left side of the puzzle, so there was going to be some other rebus on the right. This, because I was sure 9d was "unlikely" after ruling out "n(ot)likely". I spent ages in there, second- and third-guessing myself. I don't know why I get obsessed in a corner like that, but I suppose that's my solving method. POOH.

Once extricated from that corner, things went pretty quickly. No problems with MEZZO but I never heard of a ZBAR, pronounced Zed BAR, here in Canada.

I thought there was lots of nice cluing throughout, and several sparkly entries: UP TOP, HOT TO TROT, PUMP IRON, I THINK NOT, among others.

I was stupid, but I still had fun. 8:55 PM  

Rex -
Since you mentioned Lake Itasca, and it is the source of the Mississippi River here in Minnesota, here is the background on that name. It's not an Indian name as some suspect. When explorers were searching for the river's source, they thought they had found it more than once, and they were subsequently proved wrong. When they finally found it they referred to the Latin words "veritas caput" or "true head." Dividing these words and using the last four letters from the first word and the first two from the second word gives "Itasca."
I'm not done yet, however. These explorers weren't fully up on their Latin. Veritas means "truth" so they should have used veritas, which is the word for "true." But maybe Itusca wouldn't have sounded as smooth, so there you have it.
David Miller
A former Latin student in Minnesota - and fan of Rex's column.

wcutler 3:38 AM  

This might have been my favourite puzzle ever, except I think I've felt this way before. And I'm enjoying the comments just as much. Thanks to @Rex for giving @John Child the opening for his Ogden Nashery. Thanks to @LMS for providing the apocope link, as I was unable to find it in my searches (what search engine found it?), and along with @QuasiMojo for providing the examples. @rondo, that was so interesting about the ИБАР. I hope that wasn't a joke. Was it a joke? Wikipedia just tells me it's a river, doesn't offer any disambiguation link.

John 5:28 AM  

The puzzle seems to be little boring even though found to be new at a point..DOT,, DOT,,DOT.:):)Awesome guys.

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