First wife of Pablo Picasso / THU 8-23-18 / Third base in baseball lingo / Stunning creatures of Amazon / O greeting on many lolcat memes / Chain with pepper in its logo

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Constructor: Kyle Dolan

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (6:57)

THEME: CROP ROTATION (50A: Common farming technique ... or a hint to solving this puzzle) — rebus puzzle where "crops" are found in three different squares; at those squares, the answers that feed into them "rotate" ninety degrees, with Across answers headed Down and Downs Across:

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Title for Prince Charles's Camilla + 7D: Third base, in baseball lingo = DUCHESS OF CORN WALL / HOT CORN ER
  • 28A: General amount of money that something sells for + 3D: Stunning creatures of the Amazon = RICE RANGE / ELECT RICE ELS
  • 46A: Behind-the-scenes worker in TV news + 25D: "Or even ..." = STO RYE DITOR / BETTE RYE T

Word of the Day: ABBA (24A: Biblical "father") —
Ab or Av (related to Akkadian abu[), sometimes Abba, means "father" in most Semitic languages. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hmm. First, I've seen this type of theme before: two answers run into each other and then head off at ninety-degree angles. Not sure how many times, or what the revealers were in those instances, but I've definitely seen this. The repetition of a theme type, though, is less of a big deal than the fact the ninety-degree thing simply doesn't evoke "rotation" very well. I get that you've "rotated" the answer ninety degrees, but rotation makes me think circle, and at any rate the answer isn't "rotated" so much as rerouted. You rotate around an axis, which is not what is happening here. So whatever is happening here is neither like crop rotation nor like spatial rotation, so I don't know what it is. Despite having just three "crops" in it, the puzzle is kind of impressive, architecturally, especially since two of the "rotating" pairs of answers end up overlapping (i.e. ELECTRIC runs through DUCHESS, though they are not part of the same "rotation"). And there's some nice fill in here, particularly IT'S A TRAP, LET LOOSE, and I DECLARE. There's just something off about the theme expression, and off is off is off. Offness casts a pall over everything else. Precision matters.

I had no idea ABBA meant "father," biblically. That little answer caused me a heap of trouble, as did VALE, which has an ugh-ish "?" clue (13A: Setting for a peak viewing?). I can see "peaks" from Lots of places. Lots and lots. I've seen lots of peaks, but I'm not even sure I've ever been in a VALE. Plus "setting" and "viewing" suggested some kind of camera setting. "?" clues are so unsatisfying when they don't stick the landing. I have no problem being fooled if there's eventual payoff. I also thought the "?" on SCABS missed the mark (40A: Ones whose work is strikingly controversial?). "Controversial" doesn't quite get at what SCABS do. Too vague. Whereas [One who goes hog wild?] for BIKER seems just right.

Wanted TIE INTO before TIE ONTO (6D: Hook up with, in a way). Saw BARDO in a puzzle for the first time very recently (this past weekend), so very weird to see it again so soon (31D: "Lincoln in the __" (2017 George Saunders best-selling novel)). OIL was hard for me (35A: "Mona Lisa," e.g.) (I thought maybe the clue meant the Nat King Cole song), as was PLAY UP (32D: Emphasize) and LET LOOSE (wanted LECTURED) (18D: Delivered a rant). Thought Picasso's wife was maybe OONA (53D: First wife of Pablo Picasso => OLGA). Loved the fake plural in the clue for TOUPEE (19A: Alternative to plugs). LOL knowing any of those ghouls on "Shark Tank."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:13 AM  

I figured out the trick in that RICE was anagramed somehow in ELECTRICEELS. Oh well. The only way I'll know Charlie's wife's title is when they get honest and make her DTCHESS OF OEDIPAL WISH FULFILLMENT

Patrick O'Connor 12:24 AM  

I loved this puzzle although/because it took me double my normal time: I was perfectly aware there was some box that contained more than one letter, and figured out from the revealer more or less how the trick answers would work, but difficult entries near or part of the trick answers (EAGLEEYE, POULT), kept slowing me down. It's always nice when you have the general idea but you still need to work to seal the deal.

chefwen 12:27 AM  

Partner got CROP ROTATION early on and I knew DUTCHESS OF CORNWALL was the right answer. You can’t turn around without bumping into a magazine cover with the royal family splashed all over it. We were then off to the races. RICE came shortly thereafter, but the RYE corner was kinda slow in coming.

Wanted alps for peak viewing at 13A, but held off, good move, little one.

Hoping hurricane Lane stays on path and doesn’t make a 90 degree turn like Iniki did. Fingers crossed!

puzzlehoarder 1:14 AM  

Great Thursday. We haven't had one like this in a while. I really liked the rebus with a twist.

Certain things made me work extra hard for this. Like a lot of people probably did I threw ELECTRICEEL right in at 3D and I didn't notice the lack of an S but the crosses quickly proved it wrong. I have no idea what BARDO is. I'm not familiar with HAI and I don't really know my royal titles. ABBA had to come from the crosses.

The majority of the fill was quite easy so I got the revealer first and knew I had to be looking for a trick with crop names. It didn't take too long to realize it was an actual rebus. The RICE one went in first quickly followed by RYE.

CORN was much slower. DUCHESSOF strongly favored FORUMS for 21D but I had put SPOILERS in at 29A and I kept thinking 21D could also be TOPICS. I figured 37A referred to soccer teams but I couldn't think of a good acronym. Eventually it was CORNWALL and CORNER to the rescue.

A couple of other sticky points were TIEONTO and ROOTON. The latter sounds like something a plant would do and that 6D clue made me think of dating hook ups so the answer made no sense but it fit.

Pardon the TMI but I enjoyed this one.

jae 1:25 AM  

Very tough, very tricky, and a bunch of fun. Liked it a lot!

Tom 1:30 AM  

I DECLARE, this one was tough. Got CROP ROTATION from crosses fairly quickly, but not how it worked or where they were, or how many there were. Got RYE first, and then had to search my brainpan for what crops are used for rotation. Used to work on my family's 100 acre pear ranch in the middle of Silicon Valley, but obviously never had to rotate crops, although we did plant corn on the ends of the orchard rows.

In the meantime, my blonde sweetheart has just started doing the free minis and midis and was peppering me with questions. Had to tell her Thursday puzzle takes concentration, so leave me alone. She took it well. When I showed her the trick, she said "Good grief, I could never get that." Same way I felt a couple of years ago. Now it just takes a while. Satisfying solve the finally figure it out.

TomAz 1:37 AM  

Rex's gripe about a 90 degree turn not really being "rotation" is a non-issue for me. Rotation is one of the four types of geometric transformation (the others being translation, reflection, dilation). It's perfectly legit, though perhaps unknown to the innumerate.

But man finding this stuff was hard. A good hard, a rewarding hard. I knew something was amiss when I dropped in ELECTRIC EEL and the crosses on top made sense and on the bottom were all wrong. I also knew Camila was DUCHESS OF something, more than three letters and not York so probably even longer, which didn't fit.. eventually I got the RICE rebus but didn't know if we were going food, university, or Condeleezza. But then I got CORN.. and then I guess RYE was easier, though RYE is kinda different from RICE or CORN because it's also a whiskey.. well whatever.

I finished, stumbling, but I finished. I think this qualifies as a 'good' puzzle.

Dolgo 2:01 AM  

Several times in the New Testament, we are told, "Call him "Abba--Father." It's the idea that we are duppsupp to have a personal relationship with the godhead, i.e., he's not sn abstract concept. I got that one right away because of youthful Sunday School attendance. I had a lot more trouble with some of the other clues!

Dolgo 2:04 AM  

PS "Abba" being the Aramaic word for "Daddy."

Phil 3:27 AM  

Yeah, i thought it would circle a black square, but obvious it didn't. It’s a corner so maybe the theme answer was shoehorned in but still a fun puzzle. Not a big 'off' for me.

Rex complains about the pitfalls of too much theme stuff and now with only the three 'corners' there’s some room for positive comments... i think.

BarbieBarbie 5:31 AM  

Well, I’m with TomAz, but also ROTATION is perfectly acceptable in ordinary English without resorting to group theory. When the word executes a motion in the vicinity of a corner, it GOES AROUND it, it TURNS it, whatever... synonyms for ROTATEs. Yes, around an axis. Which is at the corner. Doesn’t need to be in the middle. Revealer was fine.

I love a rebus puzzle, but for some reason this was too painful to be enjoyable. Too much of it out of my wheelhouse, I guess.

beajen 5:36 AM  

I don’t think RICE gets rotated, and definitely not with rye and corn! Can’t grow the last two in water!

joebloggs 6:32 AM  

There is some bad history here. The IRA ceasefire of 1994 was not part of any peace agreement as Loyalists did not agree to cease violence nor did the UK government agree to any real concessions to Sinn Fein. The Oslo accords of 1994 was a real agreement between the two warring parties of the Israelis and Palestinians. I had the PLO there for the longest time and it really prevented progress in that part of the grid. Very misleading and shame on the constructor but more on Will Shortz for allowing that clue to remain as it is. Just awful!

Lewis 6:34 AM  

The theme was clever and well executed, but the stamp of this puzzle for me was the vague cluing. Even without the theme, this was a tough solve for me because of that cluing, which forced me to throw my brain into first gear. Oh, and how I love when that happens!

Finally, when it was over, I calmly looked the puzzle over and noted how clean the grid is, despite the construction difficulties that this theme presents to the puzzle maker, along with its great reveal. This is a Thursday to remember. Bravo!

michiganman 7:03 AM  

I've interrupted my solve to comment. I HATE "?" clues. They remove the challenge. Case in point: 13A. My first thought was some kind of video connotation but then thought mountain when I saw the vile "?". I don't need my hand held!

Cassieopia 7:10 AM  

Not knowing baseball slang, royal titles, Amazonian creatures, or TV workers, I was sunk before I began. I got CROPROTATION and kept looking for the trick - it’s in there somewhere! - and got nearly all the corners, but couldn’t pull this one across the finish line. But what a great puzzle! The fill was really nice and the pieces I did get fell into place with that oh-so-satisfying brain click. EAGLEEYE was my favorite. It’s puzzles like these that keep me wanting to up my game. What a lovely DNF Thursday!

kitshef 7:12 AM  

Very tough and absolutely delightful. I just keep looking at it and getting happier and happier.

River recreation / nightjar (rowbOATS/gOATSucker

Children’s game/Homer’s favorite meal (HOPScotch/porkcHOPS)

Sharp smell/Symbol of Israel (pungenTAROma/sTAROfdavid)

Cathy 7:17 AM  


Anonymous 7:18 AM  

Rex casts a pall over everything else.

FLAC 7:19 AM  

Wonderful puzzle. Especially liked the CORNWALL/CORNER rotation - from the royal family to baseball.

Rex: last time I checked, Binghamton was located in a VALE.

Suzie Q 7:26 AM  

The toughest spot for me was the rice rebus because I wanted to squeeze it in using "eagLEEye".
What is a dap?
I take it that Shark Tank has nothing to do with aquariums.
I sure wish this had left me feeling good. As it is, it just left me sort of glad it was over.

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

@Rex - All things that rotate do that rotation in degrees around their axis. In each case here the answers rotate 90 or 270 degrees east or south off the crop square's axis. This is the best you can do in a crossword grid. Brilliant puzzle, the revealer is spot on.

Music Man 7:46 AM  

@SuzieQ Shark Tank is a reality show which features entrepreneurs pitching their new products/concepts to wealthy investors (aka “sharks”).

Jim Lemire 7:59 AM  

The theme definitely held me up for quite a while. I knew that 3rd base is called the HOT CORNER, but it didn’t fit. It had to be this, but how to make it work? Even a rebus didn’t work here. The other obstacle for me was that ELECTRIC EEL fit in the down squares just fine. Of course it was supposed to be plural, so it didn’t actually fit, but I didn’t see that. fish, two eel, two eel, right? It didn’t help that PRICE fit in the across spaces just fine for 28A and that the ‘rice’ in ELECTRIC so nicely hidden. So I had that section filled in *mostly* correctly...which is probably the hardest error to overcome in crosswords (for me at least). I had good answers, and they fit..,so why can’t I get these other crosses to work!?

Even the revealer, which fell into place easily, didn’t help me at first. I was thinking perhaps the themed answers had swapped “crops” HOT pepper instead, but which ones? And in what order? And, which were thebrhemed answers anyway?

Eventually I saw how it worked with CORNER and CORNWALL (I knew it was HOT CORNER!) and went from there.

Clever, tough puzzle. I liked this. A lot.

prandolph 8:06 AM  

Fist bump, I believe

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Excellent puzzle. It challenged me just about right. Rex, you may need to learn Kevin O'Leary since he may end up being the next prime minister of Canada! The Shark Tank and Dragon's Den were interesting shows. I learned a lot about starting a business (which I will never do). The grid fill was also very good apart from the theme answers.

RAD2626 8:20 AM  

Clever fun puzzle with terrific cluing and a great gimmick. Knew it was HOT CORNER and sadly knew Camilla's title, so caught on early. RYE gave me a little issue but mostly an easy harvest.

When you use photo editing software and you rotate, it turns the picture 90 degrees at a time. Thought revealer totally apt.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

@Flac 7:19 a.m: You are correct. “Binghamton /ˈbɪŋəmtən/ is a city in, and the county seat of, Broome County, New York, United States.[6] It lies in the state's Southern Tier region near the Pennsylvania border, in a bowl-shaped valley at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers.[7]”

Debra 8:31 AM  

Tricky and fun. Good Thursday!

Joe 9:02 AM  

Wow, did I ever hate this puzzle. Puzzles with rebus entries are by far my least favorite kind, and to add a second trick on top of that? Even after I got the theme revealer, I still had no idea what to do with the answers for a long time. I tried Rex's interpretation of rotating the crops around the board, and that didn't help. So frustrating, not a relaxing start to my morning.

clap63 9:04 AM  

Really take issue with Rex's quibbles. Just because rotation "makes [you] think circle" doesn't make it so. In fact to your point, the crops are the axes around which the solutions are rotating. Strikes me as a punny and challenging and wholly legit application of all the terms and concepts.

Nancy 9:12 AM  

Wow! Very tricky, very crunchy, a wonderful Thursday rebus!

Here a DUCHESS, there a DUCHESS, everywhere a DUCHESS, DUCHESS. Damn those Brits! This puzzle could have been so much easier for me if I could have just remembered which DUCHESS Camilla is. Therein lay the key to the kingdom. And I refused to cheat.

I skipped immediately to the revealer -- something I seldom do, even though I probably should -- and CROP ROTATION told my brain how to think, sort of, but it didn't make everything clear. It was HOT CORNER, which I knew from my youthful baseball-watching days just had to be right, that finally got me the CORN answers, thus enabling to understand the RICE answers. PRICE RANGE, not PRICEELS (What dat?) I was so, so, so slow to see both 90-degree turns in each section. As I've said so often, I'm just not visual. And there were WALL and RANGE hiding in plain sight.

Struggled mightily with this puzzle. Loved it to death.

Liz 9:24 AM  

Re 40A, I thought the word "strikingly" made for a very clever clue for "scabs".

JOHN X 9:24 AM  

Finally a decent Thursday puzzle!

I got CROPROTATION very early so I knew something was up with the long answers that din't seem to make sense but I thought perhaps the second half of the answers were switched around or "rotated" like crops. It was finally RYE in STORYEDITOR where I got the double rebus-rotation gimmick and the rest of the puzzle fell quickly but it was satisfying because it fooled me for a while.

It wasn't the hardest Thursday puzzle ever, and I'll continue my crusade to get subscribers to do puzzles in the archive from 20 years ago and judge for yourselves whether they were generally harder than the puzzles of today's era. Pick a random month and do a bunch of them to get a good sample and you'll see an objectively harder and more sophisticated puzzle.

Bill Levine 9:27 AM  

Also Hebrew.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

Rex Parker's opening remarks about rotation today...if there ever was a paragraph to make a person STOP reading Rex Parker, that was it. What a loon he is, a parody of a parody of a parody of himself.

This reply has to do with force. He considers it of the utmost and paramount that he find fault - find fault - find fault - lest he derogate his rôle. It passes into comedy (that was a few years ago) and then into ... whatever this is.

I guess I will join the many of you Slytherins here who still like Slytherin house but haven't much time for Voldemort. Call me Draco.

Rotate. Look it up, Rex honey.

Hungry Mother 9:44 AM  

Wow! I hated this one for a while and then loved it, after I figured out the rebus and the turning. Very crunchy for me, but very enjoyable.

QuasiMojo 9:49 AM  

When I was a kid, a century ago, we used to say to someone who insulted us, "Sit down and rotate!"

This puzzle reminded me of that and other indignities of youth. But I enjoyed it! As for "rotation" isn't that some baseball term for switching pitchers or something? So I don't think it always implies going full circle. Changing of the guard (but not for Camilla, yet) is also a rotation of sorts, but I doubt they turn around 360 degrees.

I also don't think the theme implies that one is rotating crops from Corn to Rice to Rye. Each one is rotating by itself.

I got the gimmick at STORY EDITOR because the DITOR was sitting there staring me in the face. And Thursdays being potential rebus days, or whatever you call it when a trick is going on, I figured it out.

No cheating today, even for ABBA. Interesting clue considering we usually get ones that say "Scandinavian pop group" or former Israeli PM etc.

BIKER, BEER CAN, SCABS, and TOUPEE make a promising list for an Improv set.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Nicomachean Ethics: for it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Shit puzzle.

Stupid gimmick.


Steve M 9:57 AM  

Git crop rotation early on but still struggled

Blue Stater 10:02 AM  

This was purely nuts. Not a crossword at all. I haven't simply given up on one of these in many years, but I had to today. Complete waste of time and energy.

DJ Marie 10:13 AM  

Scab is a pejorative term for a strikebreaker. These people are just trying to feed their families. It seems very arbitrary what Rex and company get outraged about.

David 10:13 AM  

Started this at the tail-end of my attention span last night and wasn’t making much progress—not really thinking about a theme, and trying some iffy first guesses. Came back this morning and blazed through it, with decent pushback but nothing too cruel.

Loved the theme in idea and execution, did not at all have Rex’s concern about meaning of “rotation,” which works fine for me as a 90 degree rotation, like would happen when rotating a PDF. I always appreciate Rex’s comments about where themes are consistent or falter, but today’s does feel overly restrictive for a theme that actually holds together very nicely already. I found the revealer before any of the rebus squares, but it immediately clued me in to what was happening, and RICE fell very despite very little else filled in there. A similar idea, though obviously with very different rebus squares, showed up recently in a fantastic AV Club puzzle, but that’s not at all a knock on today’s offering, as both had dynamite reasons for their respective rotating rebuses, and executed them very nicely.

Great puzzle, perfect difficulty and twist for a Thursday!.

ArtO 10:13 AM  

Tough one. Got the rebus at DUCHESSOFCORNWALL/HOTCORNER but found the others a trial.

Thought the quibble over CROPROTATION unwarranted.

Nancy 10:16 AM  

@Liz (9:24) -- Agree that the clue for SCABS (40A) is great. I also liked the clue for BIKER (31D).

@puzzlehoarder (1:14) -- I also was thinking of dating hook-ups for 6D and was very slow to understand the actual answer.

Did anyone else have ADAM at first for the Biblical father?

JC66 10:19 AM  

@ chefwen

Hope you make it through the storm OK.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

So many people have this right, but I can't resist.
Rex, you're dead wrong about rotation. That risible claim is a perfect example of how your hatred of The Times puzzle and Shortz has compromised your thinking. It appears your emotion has overcome your ability to be reasonable. That's the very definition of a madman.

And how you don't know Abba is father---in fact, many scholars translate it as daddy instead--- is mystifying. Christ uses it in Mark, and St. Paul a couple more times. Romans and somewhere else. But the point is that modern scholars are underscoring the nature of God the father and his relationship to creation. It's as intimate as a daddy is to a child.
Regardless of what you think or value, by any reasonable assessment, the bible is the most important work in Western civilization. That you don't know an important word used for God is telling. And, of course, profoundly ignorant.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

This was very hard for me. I know rebus, I’ve seen rotation. But the rebus plus rotation combination stumped me for awhile. I was surprised at OFL’s rotation comments. I agree with others that the rotation is clear. What troubled me was the lack of symmetry. Three crops, kind of in NW, NE, SE, but very unsymmetrical, and nothing in SW. which felt a bit unsatisfying when it was done. That said overall it was tough and enjoyable.

Whatsername 10:43 AM  

If you want to get technical about it, crop rotation is defined as “the practice of growing different crops in succession on the same land, chiefly to preserve the productive capacity of the soil.” It has nothing to do with turning on an axis or 90 degree angles. Being a native born child of the soil raised on a midwestern farm, I of course thought in terms of crops but more in the sense of swapping one for the other because rotating crops means changing seeds, not directions. Although I now understand the concept, even after solving I still didn’t get the down and across trick. What I did get was a colossal headache. I love a Thursday rebus, but this was more frustrating than fun.

@Joe: Thank you. I thought I was the only one who wasn’t thrilled today.

@TomAz: Check yesterday’s comment board for my response to your “snot” joke. :-]

RooMonster 10:45 AM  

Hey All !
This puz went way over my head. Did not see the Rebus, or the ROTATing aspect. The ole brain just wasn't seeing clearly. Wow. HOT CORNER was a WOE. Not up on my baseball lingo. Didn't help that ELECTRIC EELS actually fit in 3D. Had ELECTRRANGE there, sans Rebus. Chalked it up to too-many-brain-cells-lost-during-younger-drinking-time. :-)

Fill was good, RHEA however was a cheat, as in Reveal Word. Oh well. That cheat ended up with me finishing that central W section. So puz was a NOGO for me. Also didn't have any Holiday quaff, so a NOG NOGO, too. Then when I saw what it was, it was an OHNO NOGO. :-)


GILL I. 10:48 AM  

I've never worked so hard for a Thursday puzzle that brought absolutely NO enjoyment. None. I'm glad a lot of you liked it because I don't want Kyle Dolan to be mad.
So many names and trivia that I just didn't know. My bad. Cluing felt exceedingly forced to me. Maybe I'm in a bad mood.
Got DCHESS OF [CORN] WALL. So what. I don't know a HOT CORNER from a HOT WALL. Naturally I kept looking for CORN. Got to the revealer and saw that I was supposed to be looking for other CROPs. Finally got RICE. I wanted @chefbea to be happy so I went looking for a beet. Instead, I FINALLY got the last RYE.
I sat back looking at my finished product hoping that I could say OH HO this was great. What finally did it for me was 46D. OH NO....please don't let it be SATING. Does anyone - ever - say SATING?
The only clue/answer I liked was 36D BIKER. Says a lot about me.
@joebloggs 6:32. I had about ????? for 34A. 1994 peace agreement -> IRA ??? What friggin newspaper ever said there was a peace agreement. That one made me almost as mad as an ano answer.
Don't know anything about "Shark Tank" other than seeing "As Seen on TV" waiting in line at Walmart. They put those things right near the check-out line. I almost bought one of those NEON purple lights that you put in your toilet bowl that lights up when you lift the toilet lid. In my house, the toilet lid is always up.
CHIPOTLE makes my stomach hurt. That chain almost murdered a bunch of people with E-Coli.
So when you have a super time, you have GAS ? I guess you can LET LOOSE.

TJS 10:55 AM  

@ DJ Marie, When I was about ten years old, for some reason "scab" became a slang usage for disparaging someone within my circle of friends, without any of us knowing the origin of the word. I called my sister a scab in the car one day and my grandmother reacted as if I had used the foulest of language. I was stunned by the vehemence of her reaction, since she was a constant source of praise to all her grandchildren. I learned later that to people who lived in an age where labor unions were in their fledgling state, a scab was indeed considered a betrayer of a deadly serious cause, with peoples' financial lives on the line. Times have changed, of course, and many people now consider unions to be detrimental to business activity, maybe because they did their jobs too well.

Z 10:58 AM  

Hand up for loving this puzzle. Rex missed it on ROTATION as has already been pointed out multiple times. He also missed it on the SCAB clue, as that is a beautiful piece of wordplay in that clue. If I have one complaint it is that this may be a little PPP heavy (I haven't TOTEd up yet so my impression could be wrong). Going Harley Davidson/"hog" for the BIKER clue is okay by me since that's a neat bit of wordplay, but was it really necessary to go with the chain restaurant logo for CHIPOTLE? That is the most trivial of trivia, and adds no value to the puzzle.

@DJ Marie - Not that I expect you to ever understand this since you've been told before and you still don't get it, but there is a difference between a pejorative based on who you are and a pejorative based on what you do.

JC66 10:59 AM  


It's a gas.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Maybe Sharp's hate filled diatribes are meant to be satirical?

Z 11:28 AM  

Now that I have counted up the PPP (that's Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns for you new readers) my impression was wrong but I see why I felt that way. I counted only 18 true PPP answers, but another 7 that I would label "PPP adjacent," i.e. if you aren't really into all things modern pop culture they might be hard for you. I do not think these 7 clues are as challenging as actual PPP, but I empathize with comments like "Not knowing baseball slang, royal titles, Amazonian creatures, or TV workers, I was sunk before I began."

My PPP List:

ABE Lincoln
"O HAI" lolcat meme
ABBA (words clued from sacred works are always PPP)
Lincoln in the BARDO
OIL (Mona Lisa clue)

Erykah BADU
BIKER (Harley Davidson reference in clue)

My "PPP adjacent" List

Tort lawyer SUE (SUE and ANN could be in either list so I put one in each)
The HOT CORNER in baseball
Curl Up and DYE

Masked and Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Real Toughie for m&e, on account of:
1. Rebus, sorta concealed by …
2. … Answer rotation. Or answer turning. Or whatever U wanna call it.
3. OLEARY, BARDO, & ABBA. Lost precious nanoseconds, doin work-arounds.
4. Rememberin who won the World Series. All I knew was it weren't my Twins.
5. Some pretty much SatPuz-sneaky clues. {Winter festival} = TET, {Setting for peak viewing?} = VALE, {One who goes hog wild?} = BIKER, etc.

Also lotsa fun, tho. Gives U a feelin of accomplishment, when U can survive such a solvequest before all the cinnamon rolls peter out.

I got no problem with the CRO-PRO-TAT-ION revealer. First of all, it's made up of four perfectly cute lil weeject words. And, the themers do turn about (revolve, spin, swivel, rotate) 90-degrees, pivotin on them rebus squares, each of which contain a common crop name. And lastly-most, the revealer only claims to be "a HINT to solving this puzzle", not some airtight, technically snot-on, description of what's happenin. QED.

Staff weeject pick = HAI. Even tho its "meme lolcat" clue meant absolute zippo to the M&A. It's one degree-of-separation from HAR, sooo … floats my boat. Primo weeject stacks in the NE & SW, btw.

As @RP generously mentioned, a whole bunch of superb longball fillins. Good constructioneerin job.
POULT *is* uncomfortably close to PEWIT, tho.

Thanx, Mr. Dolan. [Say, Kyle … did U think that "Goldfinger" gal got decapitated by Oddjob's hat? I say "Could be … Too dark to tell for sure."]

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Anybody else, think @Z was guilty of mansplaining to @DJ Marie?
If so, let him know.

Greenwich Miser 11:42 AM  

Agree! My first thought on finishing was “boy, that was fun!”. Rex is starting to come across as a crusty curmudgeon.

JC66 11:47 AM  


Based on that thinking, you could add a majority of the clues/answers to your "PPP adjacent" List.

(I admit I got bored & stopped looking after !A and 4A).

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Today - any day - every day - would make a good rebuttal - taking into consideration both the blog and the comments - to any criticism of the NYT Insider article on Monday. Read that article - read today's blog and comments. Cogitate.
That is all.

Malsdemare 11:52 AM  

I just got home from driving 2000 miles in five days and this puzzle reminded me a bit of that journey. I'd cruise along and then get pulled up short by construction. For one leg of my trip, I thought I'd selected a specific scenic route on Google maps, only to discover the map was taking me another way. That was pretty much my experience here, including the length of time it took to complete my "trip," but complete it I did and very satisfyingly. My only glitch was to google for OLEARY; as y'all know, I'm media stupid.

I got the reveal but not early and that helped some because Mr. Mals, my go-to guy for anything sports-related, said he'd never heard third base described as anything other than the HOTCORNER. But both of us missed AROD until bottom of the ninth. ABBA came after Adam, SATING made me cringe, and it took forever to come up with RYE as my third crop. I had no problem with ROTATION.

I enjoyed it a lot more than the drive.

Joseph Michael 11:56 AM  


This was the hardest Thursday in memory and I had to cheat like hell to solve it. Even when I saw what was going on, I didn’t know what was going on.

impressive construction and wicked cluing, but I think I need a Valium.

Carola 12:11 PM  

A very satisfying Thursday! For me, it was a STORY of slow-wittedness nevertheless ending with a successful solve. Spotty early entries with some missteps (VAil for peak viewing; bOa for the camp gear) and a blank stare at DUCHESS OF not-enough-room-for-CORNWALL meant an unpromising start. After picking my way down to CROP ROTATION, I first assumed that crops would be rotated among entries, like "oat" replacing CORN. Nope. I finally saw the rotation with STORY EDITOR and a minute later, the complementary CORNER turn. The tricky clues added to the fun.

Thank you, Kyle Dolan. This one gets a RAVE review from me.

Gabe Kabak 12:15 PM  

You had no idea ABBA meant "father" Biblically, and actually it doesn't. ABBA, a variant of the Bilical AV, appears nowhere in the Hebrew Bible.

Masked and Anonymous 12:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cassieopia 12:23 PM  

@Nancy 10:16 me, me.

Masked and Anonymous 12:30 PM  

After readin Magnificent Beast @Z's PPP-List, I see that I neglected to include OLGA and BADU in item #3 of my Real Tough List.
Still a real good puz, anyhoo. Had m&e at BEERCAN.

Anyone else confidently try goin with ART/STRESS, before OIL/PLAYUP? day-um. Gave M&A fits.


Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Agree with Rex - unsatisfying.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

@Gabe Kabak - and where in the clue was "Bible" limited to the Hebrew Bible? Perhaps "nowhere"? Because "Abba" - the Aramaic for "father" (familiar) - is several times represented in the Greek Bible.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

Hey Gabe,

Abba definitely appears in the Bible. At least three times. It may not appear in the Tanakh, but who said anything about that?

Teedmn 1:30 PM  

Bah humbug, DNF on this very nice puzzle. And not due to the trick (or not completely).

Getting the revealer after rotating around the grid in search of a clue to the theme, I then went to the phrases I was pretty sure about. 3D was going to be ELECTRIC EELS and 25D was going to be BETTER YET. I saw RICE in the first one and RYE in the second one. In true crop rotation, one changes what crop one plants from the previous season so perhaps RICE was going to be transplanted into one of the other theme answers? This was borne out by what I had in 20A, DUCHESS OF _ER. _ER could be an anagram of RYE?

About this time I decided the theme was becoming too complicated. I didn't know the baseball-ese HOT CORNER. I was focused on the high RBI count of 49A's clue rather than the "Yank" team, so SOSA and BOND both found a home there, making me want a hoAx in 30D which screwed up CHIPOTLE.

My final effort was a perfect grid except for the RO of AROD. So how disappointing to be so close and yet so far away.

Nice Thursday, Kyle Dolan.

jberg 1:33 PM  

Really tough for me. I got the revealer fairly early, but thought it would mean that crop names in answers would have their letters jumbled. I knew it should be HOT CORNER, but I already had WALL, so I thought there must be another term for it, too. Plus, I get confused about World Series winners and years (they all run together at my age) and thought maybe it was the Bosox. Finally, trying to think what she might be Duchess of, CORNWALL occurred to me, and I could suddenly see how it all worked. RICE wasn't much harder, but seeing RYE hidden in BETTER YET eluded me for quite a while.

The revealer is excellent once you interpret it correctly -- not that the crops rotate, but that you rotate when you come to a crop.

Speaking of Cornwall-- interesting Wikipedia article. Cammilla could be called Princess of Wales, but she wanted to leave that to the late Diana. She has also agreed that if Charles inherits she will be styled "HRH the Princess Consort," rather than Queen. Can't help but wonder if this self-effacement is her own idea, or if it was forced upon her.

@Nancy,@Cassiopeia, me too for ADAM.

Do people say HAI about funny cat videos? Or is that what the cat says? I only got that one from crosses.

glen 1:34 PM

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

I think you meant to say the bible is the most harmful work.....

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

ELECTRICEELS does not fit in 3D.

Rabbi Sharon Ballan 2:03 PM  

24A: Abba, is just wrong. I am a rabbi, and the term Abba, is nowhere in the Hebrew Bible. In the Bible it is Av. Abba is aramaic for father, and is the word used in modern Hebrew for father, and is found in later rabbinic texts, but NOT the Bible. Bad clue!

Dan v. 2:04 PM  

I took myself out of this one early. I got the ROTATION-revealer and had enough filled in around 46D to get STORY EDITOR out of the letters that were there already, just by rotating counter-clockwise up to the E of ARESO (42) and then looking down at the rest of DITOR. (I hadn't put BREAST in yet for 26D). I just outthunk myself and never even considered a rebus. You can imagine the time I had with this one, scouring the letters around theme answers to help complete. Yikes!

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

Re: note to DJMarie: YES! YES! Praise ABBA

chefwen 2:14 PM  

@JC66 Thanks for your concern, it’s getting pretty wet n wild out there. Will be spending the day nailing things down.

Hope Friday’s puzzle will be as much fun as this one was. We both really enjoyed solving it.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

Z was spot on.

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

I was robbed. I was looking for the 3rd rebus crop and had R in BETTER. I plunked in T to finish ITSATRAP and got "Congratulations!" even though I DNF. RYE got entered for me. I use the puzzle link from the E-edition.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Rabbi Ballan,

Are you saying that neither The Gospel of St. Mark nor Romans is book in the Bible?

Some Priest

jjpennyless 2:32 PM  

The revealer is perfect. The themer doesn't rotate, the crop does. Think of the theme answer as resting on a section of railroad track, and the rebus square that contains the crop as a turntable. When you get to the turntable, rotate the crop 90 degrees and then you can continue down the track to complete the themer. Perfect, Rex. Couldn't be more spot-on.

GILL I. 2:50 PM  

@Sharo Ballan:
Mark 14:36
"Abba, Father, he said, everything is possible for you. You take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

ABBA was about the only thing in the puzzle that I didn't make me bling

Rabbi Sharon Ballan 3:14 PM  

I said, Hebrew Bible, to all that responded.

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

But why Rabbi Ballan, why did you say Hebrew bible?

The clue doesn't modify Bible, why do you? You now seem to be trying to weasel out of your error by saying you were speaking of the Hebrew bible. That's a non sequitur because the clue wasn't speaking about that.
It's you who are wrong.
I ask again, is the Gospel of St. Mark a book of the Bible? Is Romans a book of the bible?

Anoa Bob 3:32 PM  

So, I was asking this dude where the nearest pool hall was and he said go straight three blocks and then rotate to the right, go four more blocks and rotate to the left and there you are. He was acting kinda strange, too. Or maybe he had a RYE sense of humor.

Another restaurant chain with a pepper in its logo, and one that also starts with CHI-, is Chili's. At first I thought something rebusy was going on there, maybe a picture of a pepper in one of the extra squares. I've eaten at a few of these and thought that the grub was good.

I remember reading an episode in von Humboldt's journal about his travels in South America where some locals had to deal with the ELECTRIC EELS that were in the water where they wanted to go in. They would drive several horses into the water and the EELS would completely discharge their ELECTRIC shocks into the horses. The shocks were not enough to kill them, but were strong enough to cause them to panic and to thrash about wildly while neighing in wide-eyed terror. Must have been quite the scene.

After the EELS had completely discharged there shocks---apparently it takes a few minutes, or longer, to recharge---the locals could go into the water safely.

This one wasn't quite as SATING for me as for some of y'all, but I DECLARE that any puzz with BEER CAN in the grid gets my seal of approval.

GILL I. 3:48 PM  

@Rabbi Ballan: Look at the clue: Biblical "father"
No mention at all of Hebrew Bible.

mmorgan 5:48 PM  

Gave me fits. Great puzzle!

Tim Aurthur 5:54 PM  

I agree that ROTATION is correct. A weather vane rotates. Since the cardinal points describe the dimensions of a crossword puzzle, the actions in this theme remind me of a sudden change in wind direction. Really impressive and well done.

And nice to have ABBA clued as something other than the group that won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974.

ghostoflectricity 5:56 PM  

This puzzle was REALLY annoying. First of all, who combines rebuses with 90º rotations? Secondly, the fill was often obscure. EAGLEEYE- really? Finally, while it is true that the Provos, the extreme wing of the IRA, agreed to a ceasefire in Northern Ireland in 1994, that was not the same as a "peace agreement," and the comprehensive agreement known as the Good Friday Agreement that ended most hostilities between militant Unionists (those who wanted Northern Ireland to remain in union with the U.K.) and militant Republicans (those who want it to unite with the Republic of Ireland) did not come about until four years later, in 1998 (they just celebrated a rather edgy and troubled 20th anniversary this past spring). I know all this in spite of being Jewish and American because I read a lot, know a lot, and remember history. If this constructor is going to get all cuter- and smarter-than-thou with his combining two annoying gimmicks in his theme AND his questionable fill, in order to prove to himself that he's smarter than all us stupid solvers, he should at least get his basic RECENT history straight and Shortz or whoever is editing this particular puzzle should perhaps bone up on these things as well. One of the most annoying see-how-smart-I-think-I-am NYT puzzles in a long time, and that is saying something given the general unpleasantness of NYT puzzles over the last few years.

Unknown 6:22 PM  

Loved the puzzle. Rex, your gripe that rotation should be circular makes no sense—!what circle would crops rotate in? I believe just 2 can rotate although certainly that would never include rice which grows in water. But I for one just look for creative fun and brain teasery —not for hermetically sealed logic in my puzzles. We would all still read your blog if you climbed down from your scolding perch just a rung. Great sense of puzzling community here and a lot of people way sharper than I at puzzlology: fun!

Anonymous 6:27 PM  


How smart are you if you don't know EAGLE EYE?

Amelia 6:31 PM  
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CashPo’ 6:38 PM  

Oh I get it! Crop Circles. Lol. Rex is just messin’ with us.

Joe Dipinto 7:02 PM  

@jberg 1:33 (I'm embarrassed I know this) it's the cats that say "hai", and other purposely misspelled words, in the Lolcats captions.

John Hoffman 7:04 PM  

This was so difficult for me! I never would’ve gotten the gimmick in 100 years. I saw Rex’s write-up and still struggled to understand what was going on. I finally pieced it altogether. Cheers to you smart folk out there!

Anonymous 7:38 PM  

I nominate ghostoflectricity to sub for Rex next time!

Pete 7:56 PM  

@Folks (like all you all folks) - I'm pretty sure that the Jewish people who are pointing out that ABBA doesn't mean father in The Bible know of the existence of the Christian version of the Bible, and that there ABBA means father. If they are Israelis, they would likely use ABBA on a daily basis to mean father. They know the point of the clue.

I would guess that their point that they're sick of THE Bible meaning the Christian bible 100.000% of the time. There are bibles which don't contain the word ABBA to mean father. Clueing ABBA as "new testament father", or even "hebrew father" would avoid telling our Jewish brothers and sisters that their version of the bible doesn't actually exist. That maybe we're aware they exist, and that that's not a bad thing.

Anonymous 8:25 PM  

Did you figure that out by yourself?
Gold star of David for you!!!

Joe 8:28 PM  

I finished this, in what I suspect was a record long time for me. (In other words, weeks of solving for Rex.) Thought it was insanely hard, and only sortvof fun.

twig 8:51 PM  

I guess I'm the only fool who found a potato rolling around between CROP ROTATION and CHIPOTLE. That led me to resist the rebus for far too long, even knowing that rice would be in ELECTRIC EEL somewhere. Finally got it with no cheating, but there's not much satisfaction in beating your head against a wall until you get to the other side. I just have a headache.

Blue Stater 10:38 PM  

Contra Anonymous@7:39 pm, I nominate ghostoflectricity to sub for Will Shortz next time -- and all the time. It might put an end to puzzles like this mess.

Anonymous 10:50 PM  

I will never, ever, EVER enjoy a "rebus" puzzle. It's such a cheat to squeeze more than one letter into a crossword square. They are almost as bad as multiple word answers. Just a cheap trick, imho.

Azzurro 11:22 PM  

Tough one, but I liked it a lot.

TomAz 12:13 AM  

@Whatsername: tee hee

Dolgo 2:05 AM  

It's in the NT, Gabe. And, asi said above, it's Aramaic.

Jodi Lew-Smith 7:23 AM  

Me too! I had PLO for ages and it was painful to have to take it out!!

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

Originally one fist on top of the other, versus knuckles to knuckles, but the usage is probably blurring.

Unknown 3:13 PM  

This puzzle was a stinker! The whole “crop rotation” theme was awful and there was nothing really to grab onto. “Its a trap” was pretty good, but they REALLY missed an opportunity for an Admiral Ackbar reference!

Unknown 2:22 PM  

Stupid puzzle. Waste of time. Why don't they tell you it's a rebus? Bullshit

Unknown 4:52 PM  

Completed 97% of the puzzle and it still didn't click. The theme answers were weak, the gimmick didn't come through, and for such a nice grid the fill was dull. Too much effort for too little reward. I still don't understand how CROPROTATION makes any sense.

Unknown 3:47 PM  

55D: Super time (GAS) ??? Explanation, please!

Claire 11:15 AM  

...which made it a gimme for me.

Burma Shave 9:58 AM  


BEERCAN be made from RYE,


spacecraft 11:27 AM  

This baby gave me all I could want for a Thursday trickeration. Did the SE and sat there staring at that "STORT/BETTERDITOR" square for quite a while wondering what went wrong. All the crosses seemed was one of those "How can I fix this so it makes sense?" problems. Then I found the way, and that cleared up the logjam in the NW as well. The CORN one came along later.

Despite not knowing a lot of stuff--like DOD BADU--I garnered major triumph points, which happens when I ARRIVE at a correct solution to one of these.

Fill also was pretty interesting--and any grid with EAGLE in it is good by me. In fact, that's the score: EAGLE!

thefogman 12:06 PM  

I knew there was a gimmick hidden in the grid. And it was tough even after I figured the gimmick out. Tough but fair - and fun. Who could ask for anything more?

rondo 12:20 PM  

Well, I used to play third base, so I figured out the CORN thing there. Kept waiting for a fourth themer-rebus square to show up, but no. Pretty obscure clue for ABBA IMO.

Not an objectionable use of TAR. And OIL is on the same line.

Anyone remember Bali HAI wine? 99 cents a bottle.

Long before she played SUE ANN Nivens, Betty White was a yeah baby of sorts. Brigitte BARDO(t) has a birthday tomorrow.

Not a big fan of the gimmick, but hard to dis a puz with the missus’ name in it.

Diana,LIW 3:06 PM  

I've been caught up in the *&^% of trying to buy a car for the past few days, and am in absolutely no mood for a *&^% rebus.

Lady Di

rainforest 4:07 PM  

Second straight DNF for me. No idea about BARDO. Didn't see RICE, but should have.

Otherwise, HOT CORNER came to me immediately, and saw the left turn. That also helped to get DUCHESS OF CORNWALL. Then I got the revealer, and shortly after, I got RYE, but couldn't find any others.

So, that little section headed by the unknown BARDO did me in. Regardless, I thought this was a great puzzle, and I feel shame, sort of.

On to Friday.

leftcoastTAM 6:19 PM  

Tough and very clever. Got the RICE and the CORN and the turns they took, but was confused at first by the ELECTRIC(e)RANGE.

Worked my way to the RYE, but couldn't figure out how to use it correctly. Fumbled around for a while and couldn't make sense of it with the available but not quite correct words.

So it was a NOGO today, but an "almost finish". (Does that count for anything?)

strayling 7:49 PM  

Jumping Jack Flash, it's a ...

stitham 10:02 PM  

Rex, your critique of the NYT is increasing! And I think a little unfairly. This Kyle Dolan puzzle was impressive from a construction standpoint. One can indeed rotate things 90° not necessarily a full circle. Your review came a CROPPER, IMO. Just food for thought...

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Two things:

Vale is a resort town in Colorado, hence it has mountains.

TV News does not have "story editors." There are editors for copy and video and in the over 30 years I spent in working in broadcast news, I never heard either of them called "story editors." Story editors work in the realm of fiction. (And please no snark about how the news is fiction these days.)

tonyd 1:26 PM  

If this were a "normal" rebus puzzle, the crops would be rotated from horizontal for the across answers to vertical for the down answers. "Crop rotation" would be a good revealer. But here the across answers make a RH turn after the crop and the down answers make a LH turn either before the crop or after the rotated crop. This is something altogether different and I call a foul. Rex was correct in his objection but he didn't explain it well. The puzzle is solvable if you bend the rules but I think it stinks.

Anonymous 1:43 AM  

2 years later, tuff one for me , got the rebus and rotation but just couldnt pull it off , had taker for 31D , hog/taker and then couldnt get the rice rebus , oh well been a long time since i couldnt finish one soooo all good , still enjoyed

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