Obama's stepfather Soetoro / WED 2-21-18 / Mixed martial arts cage shape / Tandoor-baked bread / pre-1917 autocrats / Dr Seuss book that introduces phonics

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Constructor: Ori Brian and Zachary Spitz

Relative difficulty: Medium (once you get past that initial ??? period and realize there's a bleeping rebus on a bleeping Wednesday)

THEME: PO BOX (41A: Certain mailing address, for short ... or a hint to 14 squares in this puzzle) — rebus puzzle where "PO" are squeezed into 14 different squares

Word of the Day: AMAL Clooney (58A: ___ Clooney, human rights lawyer) —
Amal Clooney (née AlamuddinArabicأمل علم الدين‎; born 3 February 1978) is a Lebanese-British barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specialising in international law and human rights. Her clients include Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, in his fight against extradition. She has also represented the former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, and Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. She is married to the American actor George Clooney. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a puzzle with 14 PO BOXES. That, it is. It is that. My feelings couldn't be more neutral. It is what it says it is. There it is, take it or leave it. Take or leave 14 of these PO BOXES, why don't you? The concept is one that sounds like it would be cool, or cute, or clever, but it most just ... is. The fill also is. There it is. Fill never gets worse than, say, LOLO (16A: Obama's stepfather ___ Soetoro), but it never gets better than, say, MAGNETO, either (27A: Ian McKellen's role in "X-Men" movies). Just a lot of PO BOXES, in a grid, on a Wednesday. The end.
 [these tweets were posted independently of one another, almost simultaneously]

I flailed at first, not surprisingly, since when's the last time there was a Wednesday rebus? Feels like ages. I only look for a rebus on Thursdays, and maybe Sundays. I've seen them on other days, but I don't like them on other days. This one, though, ended up being Wednesday easy once you figured out what was going on. Just ... remember there are "PO" boxes out there to be found, and you're fine. I actually had a good 1/5 or so of the grid filled in before I finally hit a "PO" box. Went down from the NW, through the center and all the way over to 37D: Salk vaccine target (POLIO) before the theme shoved its way into view. I must've gotten PO BOX along the way but no really registered that it was a revealer. No matter. After that, it was just a matter of going back over earlier trouble spots, filling in "PO"s, and then proceeding with "PO"-search powers activated. Honestly, nothing about this puzzle stood out as remarkable to me, one way or the other, except AMAL Clooney, whose name I had literally just (seconds earlier) read on the NYT's home page—she and George are donating $500,000 to the student March Against Gun Violence. Her work with Yazidi refugees was pretty much the centerpiece of David Letterman's recent interview with George Clooney (the second episode of his new Netflix show, "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction..."). I'm writing about this because, again, there's nothing in the puzzle to write about. Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


a.corn 12:27 AM  

Exact same reaction. That puzzle was a puzzle. PO BOXes. Hmmm how about that. Ok.

Clark 12:41 AM  

I love me a rebus. Any day of the week. Especially on a non-Thursday because the more days we have rebuses the better. GS-- gave it away.

Harryp 12:44 AM  

I can't believe a Tuesday puzzle showed up tonight. I saw the 1st PO at POLLUTE, then 2 at POLAROPPOSITES and was off to the races. Guess the crunchy, clever, witty solves couldn't last.

TomAz 12:44 AM  

If we like crossword puzzles, which I think is a fair assumption on this blog, then we need to accept: Most of them are going to be average, or slightly better than or worse than average. This is, after all, the definition of average*. To rail against the averageness of an average puzzle is folly. To fault an average puzzle for its very averageness is even worse: it is delusion.

Once I got past the mild (and yes it was mild) surprise of finding rebuses on a Wednesday, this played like an, ahem, average Wednesday puzzle. It was fine. It neither shone brightly nor stank horribly. I think this is acceptable. This is not Lake Woebegone where all our puzzles are above average. I enjoyed the puzzle for being a puzzle that was not bad.

The rebus was so obvious and the rest of the fill relatively straightforward I can see why this was placed on Wednesday. I almost got Naticked at AMAL/RANDI, being familiar with neither, but, A was the only logical vowel there. Any other vowel and I'd've shouted about it.

*so yeah I actually defined the mode, not the mean, math folks. If we assume a roughly normal distribution we're fine.

jenn 12:47 AM  

I'm pretty new to this crossword game. If I can get half of a Wednesday filled I assume Rex will call it easy. This one I almost completed (just gave up in the southwest corner) and it's a medium difficulty! I actually figured out the rebus on my own which never happens. Not much else to say about the puzzle just happy to feel it click for once.

Unknown 12:51 AM  

Hasn’t this theme been done before? And not all that long ago?

cwf 12:51 AM  

Congrats, @jenn.

I, like @Clark, am a sucker for rebuses, so I liked this one from the top half down to the middle. And then, you know what? I liked it from the middle to the bottom. Yeah, once you get a simple, repeating rebus it just becomes a thing you look for. But I'll take a rebus over a usual Wednesday any Wednesday.

Ben 1:08 AM  

I liked this one. Felt current (Amal), edgy (GSpot), and lots and lots of themers. Clever theme I had not thought of before. Rex couldn't pick an obscure word of the day. Boo hoo. He complains about awful crosswordese fill and then gives no credit when the puzzle essentially avoids it entirely. Methinks he is a bit PMPUS.

chefwen 1:11 AM  

I’m with @Clark & cwf. I’ll take a rebus any day of the week, no problem.
Got the trick right at the gitgo with 1D and 20A and the rest was just finding all the mail boxes. Super easy and a lot of fun.
Biggest flub was spelling the AMAZIMG RANDI with a Y instead of I, easy fix.
Me thinks they’re flipping the days of the week again.

Unknown 1:26 AM  

This was a good puzzle. Not only was it a rebus, but chock full of rebus - 14 of them! No complaints here.

John Child 1:27 AM  

Excellent puzzle, though as @chefwen said, flipped. This was the quickest time of the week so far. “Rebus? It’s Wednesday. Oh yes, a rebus.“ And I was off.

puzzlehoarder 1:35 AM  

Even with the little bit of time required to figure out the rebus this still came in well under the Wednesday average. Other than the rebus not much to it.

jae 1:48 AM  

Easier than yesterday's. Where are the scheduling POPO when you need them?

crackblind 1:52 AM  

I'm surprised Rex took so long to catch the rebus. I got it with HARPO and the rest of the puzzle fell together pretty easily after that. I even was able to use crosses to solve all the clues that gave me trouble, even the proper names I blanked on (I'm looking at you LOLO & AMAL!). I more than halved my Wednesday average and would have done better if I hadn't mistyped a letter that took ame nearly a minute to find.

Was it perfect? No. But it was a fun Wednesday puzzle.

Larry Gilstrap 2:08 AM  

Such a great post I just made. I enjoyed it. Hello Blogspot.

Mike in Mountain View (home of the Google) 2:32 AM  

@TomAz: Actually, you described the median. The mode is the result that occurs the most, whether or not that answer is the arithmetic average (the mean), or the result that is in the middle if you list all of the results from smallest to largest, or vice versa (the median, where there is an odd number of results; if I remember correctly, median of an even-numbered list of results of length x is the number that is the arithmetic average of the x/2th result and (x/2) + 1th result on the ordered list of results). Yes, if there is a normal distribution, the same result may be the median, the mode, and the mean. A single outlier may significantly alter the mean (e.g., the mean of 1,2,3,3,100 is 21.8, but the median and the mode are both 3 and therefore in some ways more "average" than the mean.

Mike in Mountain View 2:33 AM  

Also, I liked the puzzle.

andy 3:33 AM  

Yeah, it was pretty obvious at Harpo something was up. Otherwise what Rex said. Yawn.

Greg 3:37 AM  

I would have like this puzzle just fine, but I was wildly irritated at the fact that there were two P's that were just P's, not PO's. I suppose I should have been equally put off by the independent O's, but I just couldn't get past those P's.

Loren Muse Smith 4:02 AM  

I was delighted to have an off-rebus-day rebus. Unlike others, I resisted putting a PO in one box forever. Kept checking the date. Confidently filled in “possum,” knowing that there are indeed OPOSSUMs and possums.

@jenn – that southwest corner was tough for me, too.

I have to disagree on the deal that this is just … There. The reveal is so terrifically apt and elegant that I couldn’t believe it had never been done before. Turns out it has, but this one by Jules Markey on August 21, 2014 is a little different. (Spoiler alert – the link shows the solution)

And of the sixteen(!) entries with rebus squares, six of them have two occurrences of the rebus; three are acrosses:


And three are downs:


I loved this puzzle. On a Wednesday. Nice job, you two. Don’t listen to the, ahem, spoil sports.

Maria 5:05 AM  

This was a perfectly fine and pleasant 10 minute distraction over a cup of coffee ... nothing wrong with that on a Wednesday morning!

BarbieBarbie 5:17 AM  

This was a wonderful puzzle. Easy refuses belong on a Wednesday;I can just imagine the angry comments on a Thursdayif all the rebukes were the same. Here the Aha was that there were rebuses: I was stutter-stepping along, filling in what I could, when I noticed 10D and the lightbulb went on. After that, it was fun the way an Easter Egg hunt is. Yeah, pretty easy if you go by time, and that time includes 14 pairs of Rebus On/ Rebus Off on my iPad. But fun. What more is there? Thanks guys.

BarbieBarbie 5:18 AM  

Arghh, sorry about all the Autocorrect

Alexander 5:58 AM  

Found this one much easier than my typical Tuesday, completed in about half my usual time

Once I hit -M-M for the cheerleader clue I caught the rebus and made things much easier.

Alexander 5:59 AM  


smalltowndoc 6:12 AM  
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smalltowndoc 6:13 AM  
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smalltowndoc 6:15 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I love rebuses and, given the cluing, this was a perfectly reasonable Wednesday. The incredible theme density is very impressive, especially given the (relative) absence of bad fill.

HOP ON POP brings back fond memories of reading bedtime stories to my son and daughter. Was it really so long ago? Well, they’re both on their own, one married, so, yeah, it *was* that long ago. Sigh

Anonymous 6:25 AM  

Before SATAN, hAdes. It seems like it’s been a while since I’ve seen a particularly interesting, original use of rebuses.

Lewis 6:33 AM  
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Lewis 6:48 AM  

Wednesday rebuses are rare -- three in the last five years where several letters fill single boxes four times or more. I have a close-to-home reason to really like this. Someone very close to me started doing NYT puzzles regularly about a year ago, and has gotten to the place where she completes practically every Monday and Tuesday, and now maybe two-thirds of Wednesdays (and doesn't attempt Thursdays and beyond -- yet). I've told her the concept of rebus puzzles in the past, and while she's heard my words, I could feel her brain not wanting to take it in, like it's too tricky to think about.

So this puzzle is perfect for her (and I surmise, perfect for many at her level of solving). I will give the puzzle to her with no hints as to what is to come and I can't wait to see what happens.

Two Ponies 6:56 AM  

A Wednesday rebus!

Loved the 2-fer answers and the little mini themes like our recently seen Erica Jong right there above G-spot.

I recently learned here on the blog about the Amazing Randi. Very cool guy worth looking up if you think he's just another magician.
He's still waiting for someone to claim his million dollar prize.

I will never see a comic book movie like X-Men but I do admire Ian McKellen. I highly recommend a film he made called "Mr. Holmes".

Passing Shot 7:09 AM  

Hate rebuses on Thursdays, hate them even more on other days. But Tuesday-level difficulty once I figured out what was going on, so there was that.

Sir Hillary 7:33 AM  

Yes, it felt rudimentary, but it was fun having a rebus on a Wednesday.

And @Rex — GSPOT was certainly worth commenting on. But in a crossword as in life, you have to find it first.

George 7:35 AM  

GSPOT? I thought the NYT was supposed to be G-rated! However, I am all for 'racy' content. Also wished MAGNETO was clued electromechanically, but I liked this. My biggest disappointment was no music video in Rex's blog today. well, I can always hope for tomorrow.

QuasiMojo 7:50 AM  

To the commenter above, thanks to POtus, the NYT is no longer G-rated. Besides the G-SPOT has been debunked. How can something that does not exist offend?

Ho-Hum rebus but a cinch to finish. I think I almost matched the time of one of Rex's twit friends!

POPO for POlice was a missed opPOrtunity.

I tried to watch an X-MEN movie once. Emphasis on once. I fell asleep. With my 3-D glasses on. Not even Ian McKellen could save it.

@Nancy, it's time now for you to step up to the plate and design an anagram rebus!

DeeJay 7:51 AM  

What fun this puzzle was! Like Lewis, I've got people close to me who will be delighted to tackle this one. Not everyone has a PhD, by the way.

Kevin 8:00 AM  

How do you not clue LOLO as LOLO Jones, very recent former Olympic bobsledder and hurdler, when the puzzle comes out DURING the Olympic bobsled event! I heard her name on TV minutes before this puzzle came out!!!

RavTom 8:11 AM  

Having LOLO and LALA in the same puzzle (and even similar positions) made this a lulu.

Abalini 8:15 AM  

Finished on a hard-Monday, easy Tuesday time. Saw the rebus immediately and it felt like “see clue, punch in answer”. Normally I do acrosses first and then downs (so Rex thinks I am a heathen) but this one just allowed itself to be filled in by regions. Liked the puzzle.

@LMS nice one with “spoil sports”

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

First Wednesday I've given up on in a while. Checked this blog and saw why I couldn't get anything. Stupid bullshit gimmick that is no fun.

Suzie Q 8:32 AM  

Part of my fun was realizing that we got an early surprise and the moment of confusion about what day of the week this was.
That might be a small Aha moment but, hey, some days you gotta take any little joy that comes your way.
Thanks guys. Is this a debut? I don't recognize your names.

The Hermit Philosopher 8:34 AM  

What a 54D jerk OFL is! Who the hell cares what day a rebus appears? This was sparkling fun for any day of the week.

‘Mericans in Colombia 8:43 AM  

Mrs. ‘Mericans and I solved this one in bed together over our first cups of coffee. Completed it in 23 minutes, which was a record for a Wednesday for us. So, in short: perfect.

Got that there was a rebus after suspecting something was up at HAR_ and then working our way down to P.O. BOX. That reveal was all we needed and the rest of the grid almost filled itself in.

Agree that this puzzle should prove POpular with folks looking for rebus-based crosswords to introduce to their newbie friends. Fill was clean, but I’m surprised nobody complained about the plural, ARSONS. Wouldn’t just ARSON work?

Happy that we finally got to enter PORPOISE, after wrongly guessing dolphin for SEA LION two days in a row.

Off to explore Bogota.

Ann 8:44 AM  

Nice for a novice to get a rebus - and figure out how to insert it on her iPad.

Stephen Minehart 8:53 AM  

I think this puzzle was much better than average, in fact, quite good. A puzzle cannot be all things for all solvers, and I think this puzzle will appeal to novice and casual solvers more than it does to many of the commenters here. I expect the readership of this blog skews towards those people who solve Friday and Saturday puzzles in 10-minute times, rather than the average solvers.

I started solving these puzzles regularly 2 years ago, and at the start I could only finish about one half of Thursdays - at that time I would have really liked this puzzle. Now that I finish Saturdays more often that not, I understand where Rex is coming from, today was not that remarkable if you've seen a rebus before, but I think think this will appeal to a lot of solvers who are at the level where they are spending some real time with a Wednesday puzzle. This is a great blog, but I don't think Rex Parker, an elite solver at the far end of the bell curve, should be the target audience for a Wednesday puzzle.

Harp 9:02 AM  

M a/o NET crossing L a/o LO is messy. MaNET is a name as is LaLO. In fact, Lalo is probably more well known than Lolo because of Lalo Schifrin, the film composer.

Stanley Hudson 9:04 AM  

What TomAz said in his first two paragraphs.

mathgent 9:10 AM  

Fine puzzle. Rebuses are always welcome here, regardless of the day of the week. But I agree with Rex -- it's a little flat.

The comment by @TomAz (12:44) is intriguing. I liked his line about crosswords in Lake Woebegon.

Nancy 9:12 AM  

Oh, joy, oh happiness -- a rebus on a Wednesday! It always makes it crunchier when you're not expecting it. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't want another one tomorrow -- not that I'm greedy or anything. For some reason I saw PO BOX early -- leaving no doubt that it was going to be a rebus or what the rebus was going to be. Which made me a lot happier about the TEMPO/POLLUTE cross, where I had been very perplexed. Some thoughts:

ERICA Jong -- you're b-a-a-a-ck! We don't see you for, like, decades, and now it seems that you will perhaps be with us always. Just like ONO and UMA.

MAGNETO is actually the name of a movie character? He attracts the chicks? Is that it?

Does it seem like there are an awful lot of Ls in this puzzle?

Anyway, loved it. Loved yesterday's too. It's shaping up to be a good week. Please keep the good times ROLOing.

Z 9:14 AM  

1A and 6A didn’t immediately click, so I was wondering if “poms” might be legitimate and checked the downs. MONET and MOTHS went right in, POM POM was obvious and the rebus revealed before I was really started. Still, I liked this fine. The revealer is apt, there are lots of interesting enough POs to find, and the fill only strains a little bit under the weight of 14 rebus squares (I’m looking at you INIS/ISIS). I would say slightly better than average in my opinion.

@jenn - congrats. I would ask that you brave sharing what caused your DNF. Seeing how others fail or struggle is one of the most useful things about the commentariat for newer solvers. First, you are not alone. Second, seeing how others struggled gives insight on how to wiggle around tough spots. And third, sometimes writing out how I struggled with a section “flips the switch” - helping me with future puzzles.

@chefwen - Even though I now know it is RANDI I still leave the last letter blank until I confirm. Same thing with the MONET/MaNET thing. Yes, I knew O was correct, I still left it blank until I confirmed.

@QuasiMojo - Based on what I see on Twitter the G-SPOT debunkers are bunch of ignorant men who wouldn’t know good sex from an evening with Rosie Palm and her daughters. Or maybe the key isn’t so much the finding as the seeking.*

@Mike in ... - “most of them are going to be average,” is closest to “mode” in meaning so I think @TomAz’s footnote is an accurate enough preemption of any “well-actually” comments.

*Wondering how many people will take a Twitter citation as intended seriously. If you did please verify that a russian bot hasn’t secretly stolen your humerus. If you just want to say “not funny,” though, I won’t argue.

Jeff 9:16 AM  

I got the rebus thing right away, flew threw this at top speed, never slowing down for even a second, blowing through every yellow light in the grid (LOLO and LALA and NIA all came from the crosses). Until I hit the cross at AMAL / RANDI. WTF? DNF.

Tita 9:19 AM  

I loved this, for precisely the reasons @lms laid out.


@Lewis...pls report back on your friend's thoughts about the rebus.

chefbea 9:24 AM  

What a fun easy puzzle!!!

Canon Chasuble 9:24 AM  

What a joy to find this puzzle: clever and witty at the same time. Lots of great answers like POmPOm and hoPOnPOp. Only one (big) mistake: at first had "hades" instead of "Satan." A nice way to start Wednesday.

DavidL 9:41 AM  

Speaking of the NYT being for mature audiences, who remembers the front page story the day after the Access Hollywood tape? It was breathtaking to see the NYT print the f word just like that, first column on the right (I think). So no, GSPOT in the puzzle should raise no eyebrows.

Not evil doug 9:43 AM  

"Well, Jerry, I've been thinking. I've gone as far as I can go with George Costanza."
"Is this the suicide talk or the nickname talk?"
"The nickname... George, what is that? It's nothing. It's got no snap, no zip. I need a nickname that makes people light up."
"You mean like Liza!"
"I was thinking T-Bone."
"But there's no T in your name. What about G-Bone?"
"There's no G-Bone."
"There's a G-Spot."
"That's a myth."

Unknown 9:44 AM  

@sir Hillary, i wanted to make a comment on the GSPOT clue as well but can’t improve on yours. Like others, got HARPO pretty quick and then the grid started to just fall in for me. One of my fastest times for a Wednesday, 9:21, which is probably not that impressive to most here but was just shy of my personal best so I liked it. I thought the puzzle was clean as well with little fill. I can see where more veteran solvers would say ho hum but for me this was one of the more satisfying solves.

Not evil doug 9:45 AM  

GEORGE: Magellan? You like Magellan?
JERRY: Oh, yeah,. My favourite explorer. Around the world. Come on.
GEORGE: Who do you like?
GEORGE: I like DeSoto.
JERRY: DeSoto? What did he do?
GEORGE: Discovered the Mississippi.
JERRY: Oh. like they wouldn't have found that anyway.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  
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Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Surprised no comments on MALTS. I’m more familiar with MALTEDS.

GILL I. 9:54 AM  

Cute! Sounds like something HOP ON POP might say. Dr. Seuss gave me the rebus - HARPO confirmed it.
My son's favorite DS quote: "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
This is really the perfect novice rebus. I can't wait to show it to the spouse. He's up to Wed. snuff now and finally caught on to tricky Thursday. I should think he'll be delighted with this one.
Yes....I want ERICA in every possible puzzle. Clue her with Eroica or erotica or a G-STRING. "It's better to know how to learn than to know."

Biff Gnarly 10:01 AM  

No political rant about being reminded of a president through a forced tangential reference? Oh wait, I forgot, some of those are allowed and some of them are taboo.

'Mericans in Colombia 10:21 AM  

@Biff Gnarly: You talkin' about 39A? The answer there was DEPOT, not DEsPOT.

Amelia 10:31 AM  
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True Grits 10:44 AM  

A Wednesday puzzle on a Tuesday and a Thursday puzzle on a Wednesday. What the #%$! has happened to "the world's greatest puzzle"! And why are there ***14*** P.O. boxes??? That is such an arbitrary number I am literally having heart palpitations as I write this. Has Will Shortz lost his mind??? Or has he just completely given up???

Carola 10:57 AM  

Easy fun. Because of the layout in the newspaper, the clue for the reveal is right next to the clue for 1A and it caught my eye immediately. That helped me see the first PO BOX right away at TEMPO. I thought the constructors came up with a great array of PO's, especially HOP ON POP, POMPOUS, PORPOISE, POLAR OPPOSITES. The two hardest for me to see were ACTU?? - I so wanted ACTUate - and POLL (I'd seen that the Mafia boss couldn't be a don, but CAPO hadn't yet come to me). One do-over: LAST Lap.

Stanley Hudson 10:58 AM  

@‘Mericans in Colombia 10:21 AM, genuine LOL.

Some years ago a friend spent a few unhappy months working at Home Depot, which he labeled “Home Despot.”

Oldfatflappy 11:00 AM  
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Kimberly 11:14 AM  

Thought one down was TIME until I saw ERICA, then realized it had to be TEMPO. Literally checked my calendar thinking I’d lost a day. Then saw HARPO and realized they were all POs. Then it was a Monday-level easy puzzle.

I kind of like this week so far. Every day has been unexpected...out of the norm. I hope it’s been intentional. It’s been fun to see things shaken up.

Weird having LOLO and LALA. Surprised they didn’t squeeze in a LULU somewhere. Two looks “oops” where three looks intentional.

jb129 11:16 AM  

WHO CARES what day of the week it is!

Polio gave it away immediately & I loved this puzzle.

Anon 11:18 AM  

The App did not require the PO rebus in the 14 boxes. I just put in the P and it counted me as complete when done.

GHarris 11:47 AM  

Got theme immediately and tore through the grid only to founder at crossing of hoponpop (of which I had never heard) and holy smokes. It didn’t help that I had strip for strap.

John Hoffman 12:04 PM  

Fun Wednesday!

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:25 PM  

This was a good puzzle. I can see the experienced solvers having an issue with seeing a rebus on a Wednesday, but I don't yet have such standards so I was like "oh OK, PO rebuses" from almost the get-go. NE corner gave that away, and the rest was smooth.

I usually complain about short words, so guess what? This one didn't have many, thanks to the rebuses! I agree with Rex that there weren't many super exciting answers, but the PO ones were really cool. PORPOISE! HOPONPOP! POMPOUS! These are all fresh and fun words. (Or maybe I like the PO sound, I don't know)

I liked the fact that the puzzle didn't half-ass it. If you're going for rebuses, go for rebuses. 14 of them, and they don't mess the fill up. That's very nice execution. If the clues were also funny/punny, this would have been a very solid puzzle.

GRADE: B+, 3.8 stars.

Mrs. Bigger 12:26 PM  

I solve on my phone, and my time for rebus puzzles is always a bit longer than my time for other puzzles just because of the extra steps it takes to press all those buttons. Obviously this doesn't really matter but is there a way around this? In other words, would the puzzle have accepted my answers if I just filled in the P and not the O? Probably not-- I guess I'm looking for permission to shave about a minute (maybe even a minute and a half) off my time for this one.

jack 12:33 PM  

Ah, come on. Decent puzzle for an average week. Figuring the rebus is fun and I thought this one kind of clever, but then, I don't look for profundity in the weekly CW; Sunday maybe.

Mrs. Bigger 12:34 PM  

And oops-- I see someone answered my question just above me. Is this generally true for completing rebus puzzles in the app?

eric 12:37 PM  

Re GSPOT: this is the same young constructor who gave us last July's
Trump-subtweeting puzzle with DICK, BALLS, ARSE and SEXSCANDAL. That seemed more boundary-breaking than this one.

Masked and Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Not real unusual to have a rebus in a WedPuz, but it *is* real unusual to have this many rebus squares in a WedPuz. Congratz to the Two Po'Boys, for pullin this off.

@RP: The last WedPuz with a rebus was on 5 Apr 2017. Sorta. It had N's with tildes on em. Before that it was 23 Dec 2015. Sorta. It had one (multiple-letter) rebus square in it. If U are desperate to know the last WedPuz that had *multiple* rebus squares with *multiple*-lettered rebus values, that'd be 22 Jan 2014. It had 2 rebus squares. Back in 3399 BC, some Egyptian dude named Rheabuss Runtycuss splatzed the first ever rebus puz into one of his signature hieroglyphic wall graffiti tags.*

staff weeject pick: PIC. Dares to have a standalone P in it. Also, PIC rhymes with "pick".

LALA and LOLO were pretty cool.

Thanx for the first ever NYT pozzle, Brian & Spitz.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

*requires verification.

Joseph Michael 12:55 PM  

I enjoyed the surprise of a Wednesday rebus. Solid puzzle. Fun to solve. What's not to like?

The clue for 71A might have been - Clinton quote: "It depends on what the meaning of ____"

Teedmn 1:01 PM  

I shook my head when I hit the revealer - I had EAT UP and ROLOS going down so I saw a non-rebussed PO forming. "There will be fur flying among the puzzle purists today" was my brief thought before I read 41A's clue and realized it had rebus immunity as the revealer.

So a nice puzzle and I appreciate, with all of the other rebus aficionados, the Wednesday surprise. But I haven't yet memorized George Clooney's wife's name so that 55D-58A crossing was almost AMil crossing RiNDI. I finally decided it had to be RANDI and spared myself the DNF but it was close. I always give a heavy sigh as I go to look at xwordinfo on those days (all too frequent) that I'm pretty sure I've DNFed. Not quite the angst I might feel on my way to the guillotine (no hyperbole here :-) ) but a heavy sigh. Happily avoided today.

Textese LOLO = "laugh out loud, once" for those times when a bark of laughter is expelled from your body against your will. Or is it "laugh one's lips off" (I prefer NSMTO = "nearly spit my teeth out)? Or the Karate exercise for taunting your opponent: Laugh on, laugh off? I needed all the crosses for that one, as clued at 16A.

Thanks, OB AND ZS, for the fun Wednesday.

Ellen S 1:01 PM  

@TomAz — in addition to @Mike in Mountain View’s explanation of mean, median and mode, and the other discussions of the meaning of “average” I’d like to point out that it is possible for all the children in Lake Wobegon to be “above average” if they have good schools and are compared to the national average. Also, more significant for the NYT puzzles, it is possible to *raise* the average of many characteristics: life expectancy is not stuck at some fixed “average” — the average life expectancy can be raised by providing better nutrition and health care and things like job safety and seat belts. Average reading levels can be raised by better schools made available to everyone. And the “average” NYT crossword can become better or worse depending on, at the very least, the standards for acceptance. Today’s “average Wednesday” was constructed by a couple of UChicago students. My alma mater, which has produced such luminaries as Loeb and Leopold. And some other monsters I’m too lazy to dredge up now, but I think my point is, a UChicago Crossword puzzle should be Above Average. Or else why the heck should I donate to the College Fund??

Also, speaking of murderers, I was a bit put off by 67A, what may be at the end of your rope. Just ... brrrr. I don’t like imagining NOOSEs at breakfast, or ever.

Otherwise I liked the puzzle but it was spoiled a bit because I accidentally filled in the revealer early, ranging over the clues because I was stumped by the themers. I figured it was a rebus, but didn’t stop to consider what all the unsolvable ones had in common. I’d have felt better if I had compared POLIO and HARPO and had an Aha! moment on my own.

James Wesley, Rawles 1:04 PM  

Good to hear from the White Redoubt.

Birchbark 1:16 PM  

"Stop! You must not HOP ON POP!" One of the pivotal moments in the literary canon.

Put that in a head-to-head with "Call me Ishmael," and I'd give the edge to Melville but not by a lot. Both win by a good two lengths over Best of times/Worst of times (apologies, @Nancy, guessing @Larry Gilstrap would agree).

Plus, the chagrin on those two little Pop-hoppers' faces is perfect when he says it. If the book is on your shelf from the old days, dust it off and check it out.

"Fish in a tree? How can that be?"

RooMonster 1:20 PM  

Hey All !
PO(wer)ful puz today. Odd to have a WedsRebusPuz, as others have mentioned. Liked the many POs everywhere. I think I figured it out at POLIO, thinking that had to be it but it didn't fit. Went back over to GSPOT, which I wanted also, and then the ole brain POndered, "Could this be a rebus?" And lo and behold, it was! Which helped tremendously with 10A. I kept thinking, "How is an iMaM a Cheerleader's handful?" (Don't want to tell you what first POpped into my mind... ) :-P

So a very cool puz. It's good, but I think it's getting more praise than normal since it's not on Thursday. Just a POmPOus opinion.

POm juice
POol table
POt stickers
Har. I could go on, but no one cares.

ProPOse a POrPOise

Joe Bleaux 1:28 PM  

Nary a pedantic purist raising a flag about pompoM instead of pompoN? OK, then. @Nancy, indeed there were a lot of L's (14, if I didn't miss any). But, different sensitivities for different folks: I felt there were lots of O's, so I counted the ones not included in the rebus boxes, and found 15! @BarbieBarbie, nailed it (fun like an Easter Egg hunt ... zackly!)

tea73 1:35 PM  

I crabbily typed in POMS for 10A before catching on that it was a rebus. I prefer my rebuses to appear Thurs - Sunday, because on those days I solve on paper. Filling in the rebus box online is tedious. I like me a rebus, so I liked the puzzle. Not the most exciting rebus I've ever done, but fine.

I still remember the first rebus I ever encountered. I was in college and my then boyfriend now husband, and his roommate used to do the Sunday puzzle together. It was sometime near Easter and we had to fill in eggs for things that sounded like egg. So I think there were some things like EGGzactly. Going from this puzzle is impossible to the light bulb going off is what I like about themed puzzles.

Ralph 1:57 PM  

Very clear and thorough. In the Olympic ice skating scoring, they dropped the high and low scores of the 5 judges, and averaged the other 3. Would it have been better to just take the median (i.e. drop the 2 high and 2 low)?

Anonymous 2:13 PM  
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Dick Swart 2:18 PM  

Having had classes in which my grade was a "gentleman's C'", i have no problem with average fill befitting a Wednesday. And I got the PO right away in the first corner, so it was just a question of looking for fun answers like "pompom' and 'hoponpop'.

Jack the Lad 2:30 PM  

"Filling in the rebus box online is tedious."

First world prob, IMHO.

Aketi 2:40 PM  

I love random acts of chaos livening up my week, what better than a rebus with lots of POBOXes, lots of circles of the letter O kind that don’t annoy Nancy, an OCTAGON of the kind that delights me, a hint of nostalgic Dr Seuss, and a dash of ERotICA.

In addition to all the other repetitions others found, there are three embed UPs, two of which are part of UPON. Found those while looking out for Us for U, @ M&A.

Banana Diaquiri 2:44 PM  

there is no Gspot: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G-spot


Holy Contrarian 3:02 PM  

I am religious but not spiritual.

I eat breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast.

I cross-dress when I do the xword puzzle.

I never root for the underdog.

I hate pictures of kittens.

I drive a semi-truck every day to my place of employment, an interior decorating firm.

Unknown 3:24 PM  

G spot's a little explicit for the crossword isn't it? We gonna see PENIS later this week? Or FUCK?

Lewis 4:08 PM  

@tita a -- She accurately completed the whole puzzle and was justifiably quite proud. Having never done a rebus she just put P in the rebus squares, figuring the O was "just missing". I explained that in this type of puzzle you put all the letters in the box, and she said "Oh, that's what PO BOX meant! Makes sense!" I was very impressed that she got this completely on her own, never having done a rebus before.

Dr. Rob 5:10 PM  

With two older sisters and my mother a newspaper editor, I had flashbacks from 50 years ago when I dared to say POMPOM instead of POMPON. Instantly corrected and thoroughly chastised (by my sisters), it was a lesson that little brother never forgot. To my surprise only one comment today?

Hartley70 5:54 PM  

I love a rebus any day of the week. Thanks, boys, for jazzing up my Wednesday.

Jerry, fingers crossed!

Anonymous 6:24 PM  
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Kimberly 6:44 PM  


The very concept of a “first world problem” is a logical fallacy designed to twist one’s brain; boring a hole into the rational thinking process and driving a truckful of propaganda in there.

Never invalidate your own existence by virtue of not living in a pre-industrialized world. Having running water does not guarantee one a trouble-free existence, nor does it make those troubles irrelevant. Granted, the user-friendliness of a puzzle app doesn’t usually rate high, but calling it a first world problem drowns the baby in some pretty toxic bath water.

Shaming the masses into accepting their lot in life simply because they have indoor plumbing makes fearful zombies of us all, succeptible to more and more abuses because we dare not complain about anything.

The luxury of ignoring critical thinking skills and an education in logic and philosophy? That’s a first world problem, and one which should be eradicated posthaste.

Z 7:23 PM  

POMPOM v. POMPOn. Short version - Second N originally but second M is now more common in English.

@Banana Daiquiri - Did you read your link? That’s about as definitive a “dunno” as you can find.

@Mrs. Bigger - In my experience there is no “generally” with the apps for any variation that occurs. What is true today may not be true after the next app update. PuzzAzz handled variations better than the propriety app in the past, but I haven’t opened the NYTX app in ages. You might try asking your question early tomorrow to see if regular iPhone solvers can provide more insight.

Anonymous 7:31 PM  

Well said @ Kimberly.

Betty 8:33 PM  
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Jack the Lad 9:14 PM  

@Kimberly, spare me puhleez. It speaks volumes that you don't recognize the irony of lecturing me about a "logical fallacy" (sic) even as you enjoy the leisure and the means to muck around on a two-bit crossword blog.

Go watch some reality TV, hon, and catch up on Instagram and Pinterest during the commercials.

By the by, it's "Jack the Lad," not "jackthelad."

Rick 9:44 PM  

I knew someday my inability to distinguish between Manet and Monet would hurt me. Today was the day.

Anonymous 9:51 PM  

Jack the Lad's "first world problem" appears pretty tongue in cheek. And lacking a sense of humor would be a negative in the 1st world, the 3rd world and all the worlds in between.

KFC 11:16 PM  

@Jack The... watching commercials is a third world problem.

Hungry Mother 1:42 AM  

As did others, loved the rebus regardless of the day. HOPONPOP brought a smile of recognition.

pcardout 8:53 AM  

Just got to this on Thursday, and repeat the general appreciation of Rebi any day. Yes, mother, HOPONPOP was fun. Always appreciate computer creferences (USER friendly), but why not kick it up a notch and clue six across as "___ shell" or "Typical Linux command line tool".

Rita 9:12 AM  

I'm late to the party, but want to add my vote for this puzzle as perfect for some of us. I can't manage Thursdays (yet?), so a rebus on a Wednesday is a nice gift.

Kimberly 11:35 AM  
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Unknown 12:28 PM  

Boring. Ho-hum. I got the rebus and then bailed.

kitshef 8:33 PM  

Yaaaaaayyy!!!! Recent Thursdays have been tepid and uninventive, so I got a real thrill out of a surprise rebus puzzle.

Burma Shave 10:27 AM  


but POMOPOUS, RANDI, imPOLITE and banal.
As TACTLESS as SATAN he’d SIT and plan
‘TILL on his LASTLEG said, “BAH, I’ll screw AMAL.”


spacecraft 11:51 AM  

One question: how did OFL get out of the NW without TEMPO/POLLUTE? I found the rebus next door, with (had to be!) HARPO which led to HOPONPOP--and out. Once that was unearthed it was Monday-easy.

There's a mini-theme: "Is there an echo in here?" LOLO, LALA, ISIS. Somebody call the POPO!

Nothing too objectionable in the fill; the puzzle's chief point of interest seems to be the appearance of a rebus on a Wednesday. DOD is the remarkable AMAL Clooney. Par.

Longbeachlee 1:00 PM  

Manet/Monet vs Lalo/LOLO is a Natick in my book

Diana, LIW 1:45 PM  

Well Rebi trip me up, usually, so I was happy to get this one. Especially on a not-really-expected Wednesday. Knew early it was a rebus, but wasn't sure at first how many letters there were - and where. Then it slid easily enough along.

Too bad Rex doesn't seem to enjoy puzzles any longer. I don't mind his Lewis Black persona, but he honestly seems depressed at times. Like today. Perspective, Rex, perspective. You've got yourself a fantastic life and puzzles thrown in to boot.

Still smiling from ACPT, but don't miss the East Coast weather one little bit. Brrrrr.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, Warmly

rondo 3:17 PM  

I’m no fan of a rebus, especially when not on Rebusday; kind of a NAAN-starter, but this was so easy it’s hard to complain. The GSPOT alone made it worth the time to solve.

Speaking of GSPOT, yeah baby AMAL could be one of my night visitors. XACTOmundo.

And I always like to see my dad’s nickname HARPO in a puz, so, OK.

leftcoastTAM 4:00 PM  

I like rebuses (rebi?) any day of the week. So hurrah, shake those POMPOMS!

Helped to solve, as well as a bit tedious, counting all those PO's.

Liked the pairings of LALO and LALA, as well as ISIS and IBIS. NAS and NIA weren't bad either.

Ultraliberals and ultraconservatives are POLAROPPOSITES literally but not necessarily POlitically. There are some overlaps and similarities of POlicy positions and POLITICAL temperaments.

The second A in AMAL (yes, a classy yeah baby if I may TACTLESSly say) was the last letter in.

leftcoastTAM 4:22 PM  

Oops! It's LOLO instead of LALO. Thus MONET instead of MaNET. Anyhow, while back at it, would like to add another pairing: POMPOUS and PORPOISE. There.

strayling 6:02 PM  

Well at least it inspired me to look up the difference between MONET and MANET.

Blogger 1:09 PM  

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