Wassailing times / WED 5-6-20 / Places surfers frequent for short / Robert who was subject of 2003 true crime book Deadly Secret / French city whose last two letters are silent

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Constructor: Ali Gascoigne

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (the "Challenging" part is due solely to the time it took to discover the rebus + the time it took with the fiddly extra keystrokes required for entering the rebus squares) (4:50)

THEME: YOU ARE HERE (52A: Words on a mall map ... or a punny hint for eight squares in this puzzle) — "UR" appears in eight squares:

Theme answers:
  • TURKEY BURGER (17A: Cookout option for someone avoiding red meat) (crosses = SOUR, ROURKE)
  • NEUROSURGERY (11D: Mental operation?) (crosses = DURST, URLS)
  • RESTAURATEUR (27D: Wolfgang Puck, e.g.) (crosses = URSINE, SLURP)
  • TAURUS (36A: Practical, stubborn, ambitious sort, so it's said) / LAURIE (28D: Actress Metcalf of "Lady Bird")
  • EUROS (58A: Capital of France) / HEURE (50D: Part of un jour)
Word of the Day: Robert DURST (19A: Robert who was the subject of the 2003 true crime book "A Deadly Secret") —
Robert Alan Durst (born April 12, 1943) is an American real estate heir; the son of New York City mogul Seymour Durst; and the elder brother of Douglas Durst, head of the Durst Organization. He is suspected of having murdered three individuals in different states: Kathleen McCormack Durst, his first wife, who disappeared in New York in 1982; Susan Berman, his longtime friend, who was killed in California in 2000; and his neighbor, Morris Black, who was killed in Texas in 2001. Durst was the subject of a multi-state manhunt after Black's body parts were found floating in Galveston Bay, but although he admitted to the dismembering of Black (which he was not charged with), he was ultimately acquitted of his murder on the grounds of self defense. 
On March 14, 2015, Durst was arrested in New Orleans on a first-degree murder warrant in relation to the Berman killing. On November 4, 2016, he was transferred to California and soon after was arraigned in Los Angeles on first-degree murder charges. In October 2018, Los Angeles County Superior Judge Mark Windham ruled there was sufficient evidence for Durst to be tried for the death of Berman. His trial began on 2 March 2020 but was postponed when Superior court judge Mark E Windham announced that the trial, which had been under way for six days, will stand adjourned until a later date due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (wikipedia)
• • •

Solved early in the morning so thought that my immediate difficulty in making the NW work had something to do with tiredness, but nope. It's just a rebus where a rebus (mostly) isn't supposed to be. Something seemed very wrong at SO_ (2D: Mixed drink with lemon or lime juice) and then I knew what that something was as soon as I saw how many spaces I'd been allotted for 6D: Mickey of "The Wrestler" (i.e. not enough). After that, it's just "UR" square after "UR" square. Not the most fun treasure hunt. The revealer at least gives it a little oomph, a little zing, but only a very little. And while there are a few longer Downs that boost the interest level a little in the non-theme fill, mostly we're dealing with a barrage of overfamiliar 3-4-5s (you know, the short stuff). PERSE and ARLES and OREOS and then an occasional clunker like YULES (plural?). I think this is very much an adequate puzzle, but only just. It might have been more interesting with tougher clues on a Thursday. Then again, it might have been more irksome that way. Anyway, what you got here is a JV Thursday puzzle. Thursday lite. Rebuses for Beginners. The sad thing is that actual *beginners* will absolutely Not see a rebus coming on a Wednesday, and are likely to be more annoyed at rebuses than ever! Don't Fear the Rebus (baby take my hand)!

I would not (not ever, never ever) use creepy murderer dude DURST when I had '90s Nu Metal icon Fred DURST at the ready. I mean, close call, but I don't think Limp Bizkit murdered anybody, so tie goes to the non-murderer. I briefly thought ROURKE was ROARKE, which, you know, is a reasonable error, and since there's no such thing (I don't think) as a TURKEY BARGER, I figured the real spelling out easily enough. I also had the physicist dude as Max FRANCK. That really feels like *somebody*'s name. Huh. Weird. Nothing else here was that noteworthy or engaging. Oh, except seeing LAURIE Metcalf's name! Love her! Easily my happiest moment of the solve (that, and knowing exactly how to spell RESTAURATEUR—huge rush!).

Take care, folks.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Loren Muse Smith 6:24 AM  

    Wow. What a mean little head-game to play on us stay-at-homers whose days are all mixed up. I woke this morning thinking briefly that it was Saturday. Just as I’m getting oriented, I keep seeing NEUROSURGERY and looking at the top of the grid at the day and feeling like my world was underwater. I finally went with it, and bam. Puzzle solved.

    Rex – early on, I spelled it “Rorke” and didn't even blink.

    I have no complaints at being thrown a Wed curveball.

    It’s weird – I never hesitate to use the shortcuts imo and fwiw. But when I get a text with UR in it, I feel disappointed. I don’t think it comes from an I’m educated and you’re not attitude; both my advance-degreed husband and sister use it. It just feels like they sold out. Like they got nose rings while I’m left standing there with my pearl earrings watching them cross over to the other, hipper, side. I can’t figure out where the aversion comes from since I run my mouth all the time about the playfulness of language. Listen, playfulness is ok as long as it doesn’t involve the UR abbreviation. Ok?

    I had to look up the “barrel : cooper” deal. I absolutely didn’t see that it was a thing made/person making it relationship. Cool. I did a google dive and learned that a cooper might work with a hooper. And the fletcher could join forces with a bowyer.

    So serendipitously, I was in this mindset when I read the clue, “one who makes do.” Hah! Everyone. If we’re lucky. Eat your greens and all that.

    I’ll say again that I love the word SKULK. It does feel like a guilty sneak, but still. My dog Hank is a world-class skulker, skulks even when he hasn’t done anything wrong. Probably skulked his way out of the womb.

    Liked ACCIDENT PRONE/CLOD. UR-using sister has had three spectacular falls in Sebasco Estates, Maine. One off a bike, one at the tennis courts off the bleachers, and one in the gravel driveway. The tennis court fall was especially tough because she had shown up all by herself for a round-robin. Didn’t know anyone else, but what the hell, right? She had on brand new tennis whites, but everyone else was in cut-offs and t-shirts. So she was sitting, already conspicuous, waiting on the little bleachers when an errant ball came her way. She stood up and was like, I’ll get it but didn’t see a little raised border and fell right off. It’s one thing to fall in front of strangers. It’s another thing to fall in front of strangers when you look like Miss Prisspot Fancy Tennis Player.

    Hungry Mother 6:25 AM  

    I saw the rebus right away and had fun solving. Average time for a Wednesday.

    Lewis 6:37 AM  

    Spot on Wednesday crunch level, helped by the fact that the rebuses were asymmetrical, not to mention some mischievous cluing. I am guessing I am not alone slapping in ABA before TSA. A jolly good romp from a Londoner, and thank you Ali!

    Lewis 6:37 AM  

    In addition, this puzzle triggered a sentence that I've never written before and will never write again:

    "DURan DURan sat on some fine fURnitURe amidst the hURly-bURly of King ArthUR's court, mURmURing about natURe verses nURtURe and its effect upon natURal resoURces."

    Okay, anyone who wishes to add, yoUR tURn...

    GILL I. 6:46 AM  

    Well, I play PEEKABOO with a hanky. I use my fingers for Tiddly wink or maybe pickup sticks. I couldn't get those out of my mind. Need to AMBLER and re-focus. Oh, Ali...why do you clog the upstairs with the likes of ANDRE ANNA MOANA DURST RO(UR)KE and give me head spins? YO(UR) call. Move along, sez I.
    Finally figured out the UR bit when I got to the reveal. YOU ARE HERE. Well, duh....where else would you be?
    Went back upstairs and looked at the rebus TURKEY. Oh, so that mixed drink is a SOUR and not SOY? And, pray tell, why wouldn't you have whiskey in front? I love a whiskey SOUR.
    I thought Groucho's disguise was his mustache. A person who makes do isn't a pooper? SOLED? Why not.
    Yeah, throwing a rebus to me on a Wed. is like eating eggs Benedict on Monday. Everyone knows that is a Sunday feast. No matter, I like being surprised. Didn't like the name pile-ups but this was kind of cute.
    I tried a TURKEY BURGER once and it tasted like PLANCK. No HEAD CHEF or RESTAURANTEUR that I know would serve it. Hi Gordon Ramsey.....

    amyyanni 6:47 AM  

    Refreshing Wednesday. Couldn't remember Robert DURST, not sure about ANNA, so I had to look up ANDRE. Thank you for hearing my confession, fellow xworders. Looking forward to Blursday....

    Z 7:09 AM  

    “Tie goes to the non-murderer” both made me laugh and cringe because you just know some anonydiot will take issue.

    I saw the rebus early and was a little torn. Rebus - cool, shout-out to Umberto Eco - cool, being reminded that Eco is right - ugh.

    Rebus placement gets the arched eyebrow. Six are found in the themer length answers. Okay. But then there’s no room for two more in the long revealer so we’re just going to randomly throw two extra in the general vicinity? I had no problem uncovering those last two, but the seem just slightly suboptimal.


    pabloinnh 7:16 AM  

    Caught on at TURKEYBURGER and then it was off on the UR hunt and had fun flushing them out. Discovered in the process that although I was a champion speller in middle school and still get asked the how-do-you-spell question by my wife, I would have been knocked out of the competition by RESTAURATEUR, which clearly needs another N. No idea about the Veep actress but did know Max PLANCK. I may catch up with contemporary culture now that there are no games on.

    Fun stuff AG. Liked the revealer, as in "Put the UR here". And that's what you do. Solid, Jackson.

    kitshef 7:20 AM  

    A surprise rebus, with the rebi asymmetrically placed, and STILL this was easier than this Monday’s. I'm having trouble getting over how misplaced that Monday was.

    Dandy puzzle. I’ve always heard USER manual, but Google likes USERS just fine.

    The trouble with TURKEY BURGERS is they lack juiciness. Give me an impossible burger any day. Onion, mustard and mayo. Those OREOS will make a fine dessert.

    Anonymous 7:31 AM  

    Why why why do I have to know French to solve an English x-word? And today not only French, but a French word with a Rebus tossed in for fun....and also two French words in the same quadrant (SE) makes this annoying trend even worse. (

    Anonymous 7:47 AM  

    ok how on earth did you add two letters to one square? (I usually do paper.....)

    QuasiMojo 7:51 AM  

    Once you got SOUR the amusement factor diminishes CHOP CHOP, so this felt more like an exercise than fun.

    Did anyone ever call Cleopatra CLEO? It seems more like a cat name. I would have prefer a clue for the great CLEO Laine.

    The E in ARLES is not entirely silent. It's there but very subtle. And the S could be sounded in a sentence in which it is adjacent to a word that begins with a vowel. "Les femmes d'Arles ont des belles voix."


    All in all an interesting idea for a humpday puzzle but not yet ready for prime time.

    agarlock 7:52 AM  

    Learned today that RESTAURATEUR is not spelled with an 'N'. Made it almost 40 years without realizing.

    OffTheGrid 8:10 AM  

    I really enjoyed this but not right away. I floundered in the NW so moved into the middle where I saw the rebus. The problem was I made up my own. I had L 'AU' RIE and T 'AU' RUS and thought there might be a gold thing going on. But I was troubled that the rebus only worked one way. As I solved and encountered all the UR's I looked at the center again and saw LA 'UR' IE and TA 'UR' US. My little side trip somehow made it more fun.

    Teedmn 8:20 AM  

    Gah, typo. I thought FEET crossing HEURE but typed FrET.

    Will Shortz is not helping those of us who are day-challenged by putting a rebus puzzle on a Wednesday.

    RESTAURATEUR was hard to see.

    I never thought of PEEK-A-BOO as being played with the hands, nice clue.

    A fun Wednesday puzzle, thanks Ali Gascoigne.

    Nancy 8:38 AM  

    It took me a long time to figure out what the rebus was. Once I did, I felt a sense of relief. Now, finally, it was going to be a lot easier. Or so I thought -- until I got to the pesky, Natick-y, proper-name-riddled NE corner.

    It would have helped if I'd seen NE[UR]O SURGERY, but all I was thinking of was HEAD SURGERY. Which didn't help with any of the unknown names. I was all set to give up -- in protest as much as anything else. After all, I don't have a streak to maintain; I have no interest in Googling names; and my self-image has never rested on how many pop culture names I know.

    And then, out of some deep unfathomable place, he came to me. ANDRE!!!!! Not from watching wrestling. I don't watch wrestling. Not from reading about wrestling. I don't read about wrestling. But from the world of crosswords, I'm quite sure. And in the nick of time! THANK YOU, ANDRE!!!!!!

    A lovely rebus -- except for the NE corner. At the very least, couldn't DURST have been clued with a Shakespeare quote rather than a proper name?

    Frantic Sloth 8:38 AM  

    Didn't know MOANA or Max PLANCK because I'm not a 12-year-old physicist.

    Other than that, I had a blast with this one because:

    1. REBUS!!
    2. Fun/often challenging fill (well...there was OREOS, but don't care.)
    3. It's a REBUS!!
    4. Not too easy or too hard - perfect Wednesday.
    5. And because of that (#4) I can be sure that today is Wednesday(Hi, @Kathy!).
    6. Did I mention it's a REBUS!!?

    One minor itsy bitsy quibble: SKULKS is closer to a "sneak of shame" than just a stealthy move. Stealth is for spies and burglars. SKULKS are for people like me who are on a steady diet of their own feet.
    As ever, just IMHOpancakes.

    Anonymous 8:48 AM  

    Probably a dumb question, and I'm relatively new to crosswords, but why do they call these rebus puzzles? I always thought they were puzzles with illustrated pictures like the old game show Concentration, not just using multiple letters in one crossword square.

    Doug Garr 8:48 AM  

    I knew it was Mickey Rourke but I just spelled it ROURK, which of course certainly screws up skulk. I got the revealer right away and then thought, what a rebus on Wednesday? After that it was just counting URs and the rest of the solve was pretty smooth. I liked the fact that I struggled early on and then picked up speed. All in all, a pretty good puzzle, I thought.

    Z 8:50 AM  

    @Anon8:48 - Because.

    Kathy 8:51 AM  

    ZEROS, oh my! Great answer, once I opened my mind as to how this riddle-dee-dee could start with a Z. I am in the pro-rebus camp and had no trouble seeing the UR in the emerging TURKEY, thus keeping my eye out for seven more URs. (Don’t fear the rebus—good one, Rex!) I sped through this until a major slowdown in the NE which was riddled with proper names. I will own up to the fact that I played “guess the final letter” at CAMUS/COTES, a small electronic cheat.

    Overall a fun romp for a Wednesday. And FLETCHER, a new word in my quiver.

    Food shortage update: Yesterday hubby ventured up to the Whole Foods in Providence looking for meat, the looming next shortage. While there he spied a lone bag of flour so he grabbed it! Fortunately he made it home with the goods without anyone threatening “your flour or your life”.

    OK, now that makes me smile at an old joke, “your money or your wife” “uh, let me think...” Was that Jack Benny? Rodney Dangerfield?

    Anonymous 8:52 AM  

    Thanks for the Clarification Z

    Anonymous 8:58 AM  

    So now he doesn’t want murderers in the puzzle. I really hope constructors don’t listen to this guy. Their puzzles will suffer if they do.

    bauskern 9:04 AM  

    Who knew that RESTURAUTEUR didn't have an N in it? Love learning something new each day. Caught on to the rebus within a minute, so made for a very easy Wednesday. My only quibble with the puzzle was that it was constructed in three very discrete diagonal thirds, with not a lot of entry from one area to another, so I could see someone getting stuck in a section. But that's a very minor quibble for what was a fun way to start the day. P.S. I'm not sure that Fred Durst would be knowable to many 60 or over (I daresay many of the people who frequent this site).

    Barbara S. 9:06 AM  

    Anyone else immediately go to ancient Sumeria and the city-state of UR? There's a wonderful ziggURat there, called the Great ZiggURat of UR. It's a temple to the moon-god Nanna. The site is now in Iraq. And it really is ancient, among the very earliest civilizations on earth. Also mentioned in the Bible as the birthplace of Abraham, patriarch of the three desert religions (although there some scholarly dispute about it). It's believed to have been founded around 3800 B.C.E. To put that into some perspective, King Tutankhamun lived about 2500 years later.


    Be Considerate 9:07 AM  

    Please wear masks when out in public. Not for yourselves but for the brave people working on the front lines is grocery stores. Most spreaders. of this disease are asymptomatic. People who don’t wear masks are giving them a giant middle finger only to go home to their safe houses.

    ! 9:09 AM  

    Disagree with anon 8:58. They should only have happy things in the puzzle.

    Petsounds 9:11 AM  

    @QuasiMojo: What you said. Across the board, and especially on CLEO for Cleopatra, which is popping up more and more, for no good reason. And there's the sublime CLEO Laine, just waiting for her moment in the xword sun.

    webwinger 9:11 AM  

    Not bad, not bad at all. Excellent use of short rebuses and revealer. Mostly very straightforward clues, probably to keep the difficulty Wednesdayish (which it was) in the face of rebus-induced challenges. Happy to be back in edenic ARLES for an extra day. (Autocorrect tried to make that endemic, which may be what our viral nemesis is becoming.)

    @Rex: JV Thursday—har! PLANCK a gimme for anyone with a modicum of education in science. I keep finding myself thinking that a very significant reason for the generally poor quality of journalism related to the pandemic is that it is mostly being covered by reporters with little personal background in STEM subjects. Same can be said of many decision-makers in government. (Apologies to commentunitarians who may share such deficiency, but nothing like the present time to show how important it can be. Maybe the transition to online schooling will somehow help the next generation in this regard.)

    @Kathy: Jack Benny, who cultivated the persona of a tightwad, famously quipped “I’m thinking it over”, after a brilliant comedic pause, to the repeated question “Your money or you life!” Maybe Rodney twisted it to “wife”?

    Nancy 9:18 AM  

    Anon 8:48. I imagine it started out like this in crosswords:

    When creating a rebus puzzle, you originally were required to use something that could be drawn in a picture like C-A-T or A-R-M or H-A-T. Eventually the editors had had their fill (pun intended) of cats and arms and hats and needed different letter combos that solvers hadn't seen a hundred times before.

    So what to call it when your rebus is an UR that can't be drawn? Don't try to find a new word. Just call it a rebus and everyone will know what you're talking about. Works fine for me.

    Frantic Sloth 9:19 AM  

    My 2 cents on the DURST case scenario:

    Murderer/non-murderer - I don't care. What I do care about is whether I have any chance of knowing the answer and Fred DURST just doesn't cut it for me.

    What? 9:22 AM  

    I think it was Benny who responded to “Your money or your life” with “I’m thinking, I’m thinking”.

    TJS 9:22 AM  

    @Nancy, possibly from "The Princess Bride"? He played a large role in that one.

    @Kathy, it was Jack Benny, but it's "Your money or your life" repeated, and the response "I'm thinking, I'm thinking." From his radio show,originally.

    Boy, I found this puzzle incredibly irritating. Too much work for no payoff. And I don't like flirts/toys, or clod/buffoon either. Maybe in Britain, here not so much.

    xyz 9:30 AM  

    NW didn't work so I went to the revealer and wrote that in and boom, just the mechanics to do.
    Way too many names in the top 1/3, otherwise very easy

    Med/Science Nit:
    NEUROSURGERY has ZERO(ES) to do with the mind, ugh terrible clue, not (?) cute at all.

    Anonymous 9:32 AM  

    I thought 75% of 1,000? was brilliant.

    John R 9:33 AM  

    I worked this puzzle on my phone again today and was able to find the rebus button (eventually). It was in a different place than on the web app. When I filled in the last letter the app told me I had a mistake. I found it and was able to get the completion music. I had entered LEAD Chef instead of Head Chef, I should have checked the cross . LEAL did not make any sense in place of HEAL.

    I have lots of room for improvement on speed. Today I was six times slower than Rex.

    David 9:37 AM  

    @Gill I, turkey is generally not fatty enough to make a good burger, and not very tasty. Crush some garlic with salt and then work it gently into the mix along with some cumin and a bit of duck fat. Then you have something both edible and enjoyable.

    Ha. Just thought of it. Horrendously overcooked strip steaks (the way 45 likes them) should be called Plank Steak. How would you like that cooked? Rare, Medium, Well, or Planked?

    I was surprised to see a rebus on Wednesday and had to check my calendar because who knows what day it is? Yesterday I thought it was odd to have "sloughed" on Monday, then I discovered it was Tuesday. Other than that it was a normal solve. I love those "you are here" maps; of course I am!

    Skulk. That's a word I like.

    Bertie 9:44 AM  

    A little dot dot dot key appears on the lower left corner of the phone/tablet keyboard, and then a rebus bar appears above.

    RooMonster 9:55 AM  

    Hey All !
    Add me to the "Thanks for further screwing up my days" group with a WedsRebusPuz.

    Had a sneaky (as opposed to a SKULKy) suspicion this might be a rebus as I went through the Acrosses, and seemed an answer or two was coming up short. It was confirmed by the tell tale Revealer. Whenever you see something like "hint for (X number) squares" in the Revealer clue, look for a rebus. Pro tip. (Har, like I'm a pro!)

    UR's are HERE, as in they are here in the puz, so a stretchy Revealer that's defensible. Speaking of defensible, who decides what words get the -able prefix and which ones get the -ible prefix?

    SE corner was Sacre Bleu! Yikes. I take it (not really knowing French) that a HEURE is an Hour for the 'Un jour' which is a Day? Any Frenchies out there? Plus he EST. Ugh, why not use the regular Abbr. clue for estimate? Not another French word.

    Didn't know (obviously) HEURE, so guessed at the E, and got the Almost There message. Argh! Turns out I had ESs, and FEEs for the iambs and trochees clue, even though it made no sense. FEET, I knew that! But that was the very end of the puz, and the ole brain was French fried by then. Another (add to the loooong list) one-letter DNF.

    But, overall a cool puz, wondering what the hell tomorrows is going to be. Although, seems usually the ThursPuz is a let-down after a tricky Wednesday. We'll see.

    Two F'S (but a boon of U's for @Mr. Masked)

    mathgent 9:55 AM  

    Great line from Gill. A rebus on Wednesday is like Eggs Benedict on Monday.

    As an unabashed rebus lover, I had a lot of fun solving last night. But besides the crowded squares, I also got a kick out of SKULKS, the clue for ZEROES, the clue for TAURUS, seeing that 7 to the third power is 343, learning that RESTAURATEUR doesn’t have an N.

    ANDRE the Giant is known outside of wrestling circles for being in the cult movie whose title I forget. With Billy Crystal and Mandy Potemkin. Never-Ending Story?

    Mickey Rourke. I enjoyed everything I saw him in. Underrated, IMHO. Although I think that he got an Oscar nomination for The Wrestler.

    No junk, intelligent and imaginative cluing, and a rebus. My cup runneth over.

    Dexter Green 9:57 AM  

    QuasiMojo: I believe the French is Les filles d'Arles ont de belles voix. (nouns with preceding adjectives use the partitive de. There are exceptions.)

    57strat 9:59 AM  

    Rebus on a Wednesday? I knew something was up pretty much from the start. when I figured it out I could go back to all the places I was stuck and everything fell into place. Aha moment. Liked it a lot.

    CDilly52 10:01 AM  

    @Quasi: your correction of the ARLES clue sent me straight back to music school and struggling with that “to pronounce or not” rule in French Diction class! Spare me forevermore from having to sing any aria in French! Love to hear, was never going to be proficient!

    Barbara S. 10:05 AM  

    I always like rebus puzzles, and I'm pretty easy about which day of the week features them. In today's outing, I particularly liked the answers which had two.

    2D SOUR "Mixed drink with lemon or lime juice" immediately conjured my mother. She was mostly a wine-lover but every once in a while she'd order a Whiskey Sour in a restaurant. And always said to the server, "And please make it *very* sour." The tarter the better, in her view.

    I liked 41A TSA "Org. whose workers look into cases."

    5D My last head-scratchingly obscure reference for the day involves AMBLER ("Person going for a stroll").
    There was an author named Eric AMBLER, a Brit, who wrote thrillers of various kinds in the mid-20th century. He had the reputation for realism and grittiness, and was apparently an influence on the likes of Graham Greene and John le Carre. Possibly his best-known work today would be the novel on which the film "Topkapi" is based. That was an all-star-cast heist movie made in the early '60s about the theft of a priceless dagger from the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. That particular story wasn't gritty at all -- sun, sea and skullduggery.

    Re: SB
    Oddity of yesterday's letters: you could make "Trafalgar" out of them -- not that it was accepted.
    BUT I'm still puzzled (har) about the question of whether SB accepts proper nouns. I thought not, but a few days ago, PANAMA went in with no problem.
    Can anyone explain this?

    JC66 10:05 AM  

    Your money or your life.

    OffTheGrid 10:08 AM  

    I use Jennie-O fresh ground turkey for burgers. It's actually fairly MOIST. Add salt, pepper, cheese, mayo, dill slices and mustard. YUM!

    OffTheGrid 10:17 AM  

    @Barbara S. I wondered about PANAMA too as it occurs regularly in the BEE. I think it's a reference to the hat, which originated in Ecuador, not Panama.

    Joe Dipinto 10:18 AM  

    Oh, who cares about the XWord puzzle – the important thing is will the word REBUS be in the spelling bee today.

    Lionel Richie walks into a bar and the bartender says, "Why the long face?"...

    Georgia 10:19 AM  


    Z 10:20 AM  

    @Anon 8:52 - You’re welcome. @Nancy said the same thing, but personally I’m all about brevity.*

    @Barbara S - Yes. See @Z 8:50 (also - think hat, but mostly @Z 8:50)

    Called it. Just my opinion, but “murderer more well known than 90’s Pop Music argument” is a valid argument (arguable, but all PPP answers are like that) while “not having murderers in puzzles will make puzzles worse” is breathtakingly inane. Anyone really think that if DURST or Gacy or Bundy or Hitler never appeared in another puzzle we would miss their absence?

    Sir Hillary 10:22 AM  

    OK, decent enough. I enjoyed the fact that most of the URs appeared twice in one entry. @Lewis, you took that to a whole new level -- well done.

    Initially dropped in ROarK -- isn't that how Rand spelled Howard's last name? Fixed it pretty quickly though.

    Robert D[UR]ST is a m[UR]derous a-hole. Fred D[UR]st is a non-m[UR]derous a-hole. @Rex has it right on the moral argument, but I would say the former is better-known these days.

    I will never not spell or pronounce it as RESTA[UR]ANT[UR]. Puck used to be HEADCHEF as well, but I doubt he spends much time over the stove anymore.

    bigsteve46 10:25 AM  

    A couple of observations: it seemed to me a little in the "natick" neighborhood to have "Anna" and "Durst" on top of each other. I didn't know either - but they were reasonably inferrable. Couple of references to "eggs benedict" in the comments, reminded me of the off-color gag line as how it's one of the two things a guy rarely gets at home.

    Whatsername 10:30 AM  

    Yummy yummy I loved this puzzle. I’ll take a rebus any day of the week and this one was fun. I liked Rex’s term “Thursday Lite,” and it was a great one for beginners to learn about the rebus without too much difficulty. It also made me realize that a cheesebURger from Red’s Giant HambURgs is what I’ve been craving during the lockdown. Topped with grilled onions and sweet potato fries on the side.

    This DURST guy sounds like bad news for sure. A few too many coincidences there. Yikes!

    @Crimson Devil (and any other fans): Wanted to make sure you know Hiaasen has a new book coming out at the end of September titled Squeeze Me. Here’s a clip from the preview: “It's the height of the Palm Beach charity ball season when a prominent high-society dowager suddenly vanishes during a swanky gala. Kiki Pew was notable not just for her wealth and her jewels--she was an ardent fan of the Winter White House resident just down the road, and a founding member of the POTUSSIES, a group of women dedicated to supporting their President. Never one to miss an opportunity to play to his base, the President immediately declares that Kiki was the victim of rampaging immigrant hordes. This, it turns out, is far from the truth.”

    Also Grisham just announced his latest due out in October - A Time For Mercy - featuring Jake Brigance from A Time to Kill. Looks like some great fall reading in store.

    Anonymous 10:41 AM  

    @Barbara S re Panama - I think the adjective panama regarding the hat was sufficiently differentiated from the proper noun to make it viable.

    Newboy 10:41 AM  

    Liked it clear to the 28A/D Natick where both LANA & LAUIE SKULKed maliciously in the non-memory. I would have needed NEUOSUGERY to recall either. Thanks to Mrs N. for the assist once again. And thanks to Ali for a rebus on Wednesday, always an amusing bonus to any solve.

    Anonymous 10:42 AM  

    Isn’t anyone going to point out the problematic “you-you” crossing? Same word, same meaning?

    Anonymoose 10:44 AM  

    @Joe, I thought it was "A horse walks into a bar............

    CDilly52 10:45 AM  

    Got the rebus immediately-had a TURKEY BURGER for dinner last night. However, what really threw me is the rebus on Wednesday. When I got the rebus, I immediately let fly an “epithet” and got up off the couch to go pull in my refuse and recycling bins (recycling absolutely full) thinking to self, “you absolute idiot, you have worked at home so many weeks you don’t even know what day it is!” Silly Self assumed the rebus meant it was Thursday and she had missed Wednesday (the real trash/recycling day) and put the bins out on Thursday instead! Imagine my joy when I saw everyone e’s bins out on their curbs. another Right puzzle, wrong day situation.

    If it weren’t for the extra minute or so I spent on the bin checking trip, I believe I would have set a personal Wednesday record, albeit still thrice @Rex’s espoused “slow” time. In my speed, I missed the reveal entirely. Had lots of letters there already, and only glanced at “words on a mall map” to verify that my assumption was correct. Yep. Filled it in and moved on. Only after the “happy music” signaling completion did I go in search of the reveal. Liked it. I often miss some of a puzzle’s high points when solving as fast as possible, so I never try to set records because I enjoy savoring a puzzle.

    Rebus still meant pictures quite often in my early solving days. They appeared often on Sunday the “crazy theme” day. Gran was never a rebus fan because she disliked trying to draw something in that tiny square. And she was a bit of a puzzle purist - she hailed from Germany. Her desire for order and consistency ruled her daily life. I can still hear her on one Sunday, Valentine’s day, when the rebus called for a simple heart. She said “Vell, at least the herz ist easy to draw.” All my memories of her come with her German accent and mixture of German and english vocabulary.

    Liked it. Fun and clever and to top it all off, I just heard the city truck at my driveway dumping my bins. All good.

    Nancy 10:48 AM  

    Me too!

    CDilly52 10:49 AM  

    @Gil. Agree totally on the turkey burger. Mine always use dark meat only, onions, green Chile’s and garlic, and spices. But the duck fat is key. Accept no substitutions!

    I’m also a fan of the maps. I need all the existential validation I can get!

    RooMonster 10:49 AM  

    Yes, @Barbara S, PANAMA is the hat.
    Today's wouldn't take UTAH. It's just a state, not a hat or an apple corer. 😋
    Also, today's Bee refused RUGRAT!

    RooMonster Gonna Miss Bee-ing Once I Get Back To Work Guy

    Anonymous 10:50 AM  

    How about Mao and Che ? Keep them out too ? They murdered many more than these other guys. Or are their murders mitigated by their valuable short names ? The slope is very slippery. Let em all in.

    Nancy 10:53 AM  

    Although off topic- i SO agree re: masks!! I could do a real rant on people who don’t wear masks but as it’s a crossword puzzle I won’t. Nuff said.

    Anonymous 11:02 AM  

    99.99% of the time, after I fill in the last letter, the paper gets re-assembled and the puzzle slinks down into the lower brain stem without any thought of the 'hidden' cutesies embedded. Just this once, there is 37 A/D showing HEAD and HEeL connected. I'm so proud of myself.

    Anonymoose 11:03 AM  

    Yeah! What's wrong with rugrat?

    Carola 11:04 AM  

    A fun one. Confusion reigned until TAURUS appeared (zodiac-wise, U R HERE right now); then I was able to go back and take care of the TURKEY BURGER and NEUROSURGERY and enjoy the hunt for the rest. Favorite: URSINE. Also liked the S's of Slightly Bad Behavior: SKULKS, SNOOP, and (depending on culture) SLURP; the Reduced Romance of FLIRTS x CLINCH; and the central cross of CAMUS and CAMEL. Me, too, for repeatedly counting squares, frustrated that RESTAURAnTEUR wasn't going to fit.

    I deal with the TURKEY BURGER = compressed sawdust issue by a) not buying the extra-lean kind and b) adding a panade of breadcrumbs, heavy cream, and Parmesan. Luscious.

    Dcubed 11:14 AM  

    Well, I learned today, that an answer is allowed to have more than one rebus in it. I like a puzzle with rebus answers, but when they are all the same, it takes something away from the excitement. Don't get me wrong I still enjoyed the puzzle a lot!

    QuasiMojo 11:20 AM  

    @Petsounds, glad you agree, especially about the one and only Dame Cleo.

    @CDilly, I used to love singing in French because I was told, perhaps erroneously, that one could roll one's R's when singing opera music. So much easier than the speaking version which I struggled with in high school.

    @Dexter Green, merci for the suggested correction. I am not an expert in French but just wanted to point out that to my ears the clue for Arles seemed off. And thanks for not pointing out my other errors in that post. Maybe it's the isolation and eye strain from watching too much TCM on my phone, but I am having trouble reading the small print on this blog, and am making more typos than usual.

    @Nancy, I was a late acquiescer (sp?) to wearing a mask but now I welcome it since it hides my gray whiskers. :)
    The odd thing though is smiling at people and realizing they can't see it! I still smile anyway. I can't help it.,

    Z 11:27 AM  

    @Anon 10:50 - Michael Che works for me. It seems simple enough, “tie goes to the non-murderer.” And, again, the “counter-argument” was “puzzle’s will be worse without them.” I don’t know anyone who has ever said, “Oh Goody! Mao!” Yoko Ono is bad fill, too, but at least Yoko Ono’s crimes are aural. The inanity continues. Come on Anons, please come up with a decent original argument for choosing the murderer clue over the non-murderer clue. You can do it.*

    GILL I. 11:32 AM  

    Yay @Kathy....Husband to the rescue with flour...When I finally found the LAST one on a shelf, I hid it in my basket - covered it with my peanut butter and pasta sauce cans....May I recommend making some beer bread? You don't need yeast; it's easy to make and keeps for a while.

    Ratched 11:34 AM  

    Was wondering why head n(ur)se was a director of courses. Now I know why. She/he wasn’t. People like Rex who who fret over names in a puzzle need to grow up.

    Lorelei Lee 11:50 AM  

    @everyone here. I almost agree with all of you today. But here in Furloughville, where my mind is turning to mush, these were some of the thoughts going through my head as I solved.

    1. You "slup" soup? Huh. I guess that's the sound a slurp makes.

    2. Tarus? Looks funny. Eh, it is what it is.

    3. Usine. You genius you. It's good to know stuff like that.

    Not kidding.

    @Nancy, @Quasi, I just draw a smiley shape over my mouth area and try to make my eyes sparkle mischievously (which they don't actually, I know). I probably look like a nut.

    Turkey meatloaf is delightfully moist if you add a shredded carrot but then it might not be the right texture for a burger. I'll try it, and report back. If I can force myself to clean the grill and get it ready for summer. And go to the store and luck into finding ground turkey. And get up the energy to shred a carrot.

    For those SB fans, I try to look at all the possible word endings before I start and then rotate the heck out of it. Yesterday I turned out to be a genius. I know it's true cause I know stuff like usine.

    Whatsername 11:53 AM  

    @QuasiMojo (11:20) I had that same aha moment about smiling while wearing a mask and like you, I still can’t help myself, it just comes naturally. Then when I realize what I’m doing I just hope the other person can see it in my eyes.

    @GILL (11:32) I did the same thing the other day with some sanitizing wipes I had the good luck to run across. Put them in the bottom of the basket and carefully covered them up with other items to make sure nobody would be tempted to grab them. Who would ever have thought it would come to this? And YES @Kathy - I second the suggestion on the beer bread.

    egsforbreakfast 11:56 AM  

    I asked some time ago, for no particular reason, whether it would be upsetting if the successor to Will Shortz abandoned the unofficial traditions as they pertain to difficulty and format of puzzles on different days of the week. There weren’t many responses then, but today’s comments make it clear that it would bring chaos to many of our lives. We would not know when to do household chores, what meals to eat, whether to work at home or relax at home and which sport to watch in reruns. I’m not making fun of this feeling. I just find it interesting.

    @Barbara S and @Roo Monster. I don’t know if you have taken to looking at nytbee.com. It’s interesting even if you’ve already finished the SB, and it’s vital if you want to cheat. One of the best features is the list of “Valid dictionary words not in today’s official answers”. The list is subtitled “You may be wondering why these words aren’t here*”. The asterisk takes you to a note at the bottom of the list that says “Because the New York Times considers them obscure or offensive”. Rugrat is in that list today.

    Speaking of SB, I noticed in doing yesterday’s that FLAGRANT can be made from the unrelated words FLAG and RANT. One could devise a XW clue such as “Obvious overreaction to a gridiron penalty” for FLAGRANTFLAGRANT. I came up with several similar examples, but only by long trial and error. If you look at lists of compound words, one or both of the constituent words mean the same or close to what they mean in the compound word, whereas in FRAGRANT, RAMPANT and STALEMATE, for example they are unrelated. Does anyone know if there is a name for this type of word? Or a good way of searching for them? Or want to give me other examples?

    jberg 11:56 AM  

    I guess I'm the only one who had the T and the K for a red meat alternative and went with TiKa masala (variant spelling when both Ks wouldn't fit in). It quickly proved itself wrong, but I couldn't see what it was until I got to NEUROSURGERY, and the rebus revealed itself. There's something to be said for not having all rebuses the same day, it adds that little bit of chewiness to the solving experience.

    @Loren, a little sibling jealousy there, maybe?

    @Z it does seem to be that if you need RIPPER, you're going to go with Jack, and if you need VLAD you're going to go with the Impaler. Or else you redo a big part of your puzzle to avoid them.

    Probably anyone calling here CLEO to her face would have suffered a horrible death, but I think I've seen her referred to by that name frequently in the late-20th/early 21st centuries.

    OK, I've got to run.

    Anonymous 12:01 PM  

    Well, I was going to make a comment about the puzzle, but ANONYDIOT waylaid me. Nice job, Z. lol

    Bob of Concord 12:04 PM  

    @Barbara S. 10:05

    You wondered why the Spelling Bee accepted "Panama," even though it's a proper noun. That's because it's also a common noun, as in "panama hat."

    As a rule, I always try the proper nouns and am surprised at how often they work.

    Crimson Devil 12:04 PM  

    Loved Steve’s reference to eggs benedict: I thought same immediately. Great minds.
    Cannot wait, Whatsername, for Sept and Hiassen’s take on Le Grande Orange and Potussies!
    Somehow only recently learned of absence of “n” where it should be, so felt quite smug re WOLFGANG.
    000s masterful.
    Goldie Locks Thursday, ur Wednesday.
    Rugrat good for me but not Sam, re SB.

    Z 12:13 PM  

    @jberg - No fair, you’re not an anon. Maybe someday Vlad and Nikita will be crossworthy. Good Reads has a top 266 Bodice Rippers and there are bandage peelers and bandage rippers, so maybe some non-gruesome serial killer options there. Stil, Vlad is pretty much murderer or redo the grid. The question there is probably how much you need that V to get your pangram.

    Barbara S. 12:13 PM  

    @Z 10:20
    Oh, Z, you're a card -- tu es une CARTE. (Hmm, something tells me it doesn't work in French. I think I've just called you a "menu.")

    @OffTheGrid 10:17
    @Anonymous 10:41
    @RooMonster 10:49
    Thanks, all, for throwing your hats in the ring!

    In less than 24 hours, I've become a link addict.


    Masked and Anonymous 12:15 PM  

    Primo rebus choice. Really gives the finished puzgrid a scenic look. thURmbsURp.

    Was kinda sURe I knew how to spell Mickey ROURKE, until I bumped into 6-D in the early solvequest moments. Lost precious nanoseconds, just sittin there waitin for that answer to grow a square. Then figured out that 17-A could start with TURKEY, and things got real again.

    Luv the ZEROES clue -- very very runtpuz-like. One of five question-marked clues, today. The Shortzmeister is bouncin back real admirably from last weekend, when the two themeless puzs' ?-clue-counts was also the butt-end 75% of 1,000.

    fave sparklers = THANKYOU [always room for politeness in yer WedPuz]. PERSE. SKULKS. CLINCH. PEEKABOO. HEADCHEF [Alt-universe clue possibility: {HEADSHOP cooker?} ].
    Also admired USERS's ability to not explode under the stress of copin with its separated U & R, tryin hopelessly to gravitationally/magnetically merge into a single rebus orb thingy.

    staff weeject picks: SO(UR) & (UR)LS. M&A can totally dig the theme-respect vibe for the little runtwords.

    Thanx for the fun and the U-R-so-sneaky WedRebusPuz, Mr. Gascoigne. Better ONE clue = {25% of 1,000?} ? Just askin, for a wiseguy friend.
    Also: Nice black-square odes to Utah.

    Masked & Anonymo5U&8URs

    p.s. Well-written, semi-friendly blog write-up, @RP. Less WARZONE-y than usual.


    Mo Pariser 12:16 PM  

    Will someone kindly explain EUROS [58 Across]? Is it just because the word Euro is capitalized in France? But why plural? Not understanding. Please and thanks.

    Guerrero 12:26 PM  

    Vlad has been in the NYT puzzle many times, all clued, in various forms, for the Impaler. It would be a shame if he were put on the no fly list.

    JC66 12:26 PM  

    @Mo Pariser

    Capital = Money; see definition #4.

    Doc John 12:28 PM  

    I'm a little surprised and disappointed that you didn't use the Devo song "Peek-A-Boo" as today's music video.
    Of course, I also love "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" so I can't complain too much!

    Bob of Concord 12:30 PM  

    @Z, 11:27

    Taking up your challenge on why to include murderers

    1. They come from all countries, so nice geographical diversity

    2. They appear in all historical periods, so they can be pitched to young and old solvers alike

    3. They inhabit every art form, from the high culture of opera to the popular potboilers and romances

    4. Mass murders seem to have such interesting and memorable middle names (what other group does?)

    5. Many have lots of vowels

    Banya 12:37 PM  

    I liked it. I agree with Rex's comment that seeing a rebus on a Wednesday would infuriate beginners. It definitely would have infuriated me. I hated rebus puzzles at first and was always wary of Thursday puzzles. And seeing a rebus on an earlier day of the week would really make me hate the puzzle. I've gotten much better at puzzles now, and have even started to like rebuses. It still took me a little while to figure it out. Getting the revealer helped on that front. I wanted RESTAURATEUR to have an N in it. Creep before SNOOP and I couldn't think of PACS. I wanted BLOCS which obviously didn't fit.

    RooMonster 12:40 PM  

    @egs 11:56
    While not completely following your rules, I once tried "Amazing dry erase board?" For REMARKABLEREMARKABLE.

    I think if you pursue your list further, you do pull a @Nancy, and hook up with a puz maker and get one published!


    Nancy 12:47 PM  

    I was wondering why everyone was addressing me about the mask issue and then I realized it's a different Nancy who brought it up today. I actually haven't discussed masks at all. Not today, not on any day. All my energy goes into trying to breathe through the damn things. (I pull them down much more often than is said to be advisable. But then, I'm always outside. I haven't been inside anywhere at all other than my home in 7 weeks. Don't even ask about my hair. Not to mention my teeth.

    Here are some other things I haven't been talking about in recent weeks:

    SB, whatever that is. For my first six years on this blog, nobody talked about SB, whatever that is.

    Baking bread. I actually thought all the women here had lost their collective minds when discussing how much it cheered them up during the pandemic. Then I read not one but two separate articles in the NYT about how women were baking bread to lessen anxiety and avoid depression. Different days. Different sections of the paper. Different reporters. But it seems to be a thing. A thing I really don't understand, but a thing, nonetheless.

    puzzlehoarder 12:48 PM  

    A full on Thursday rebus on a Wednesday was a bit of a surprise. This went into Friday territory because I spent so much time trying to see if there was any way to fit an N into 27D. Nope. It can be spelled without that N. Maybe it's more CHIC to say it that way.

    I was wrong about yesterday's SB. It wasn't hard after all but RAGTAG was the one word I didn't get. How ironic that it won't accept RUGRAT today.

    Yes PANAMA is a common noun when referring to the hat. It's made from the jipijapa plant. Put that in your crossword and smoke it.

    jb129 12:53 PM  

    I really liked this puzzle. But for someone who only eats turkey burgers, I'm embarrassed to admit that even getting the rebus, this one tripped me up.

    Beth 12:53 PM  

    Versus ;)

    Pamela 12:55 PM  

    I had RESTAURAnT until URSINE. Funny, because I had the correct word in my head but it didn’t fit until then, giving me that little rush of glee for having known it all along. After that, the easy clues sprinkled in here and there helped with the tougher crosses until I got back to the mid North. I found TURKEY, but the second word remained a mystery. Fletcher was familiar, but I thought it had to do with some sort of thatch. Roof didn’t fit, so I had bRoom. Then hotZONE going made sense with the AITCH. SLOP ITCH all around. Eventually I realized that Mickey had to be ROURKE, but finally went to Google for MOANA, which I should have known from other puzzles, and that did it.

    Way too many names today, especially annoying after a two day respite. For the first time ever, I counted them: 11. Seemed like dozens when I was working on it.

    @Lewis- Very cool! I pass...

    Frantic Sloth 1:01 PM  

    @Nancy with an avatar 1247pm. We might need to pay closer attention to things like one of "the Nancys" has an avatar and the other does not. When directly addressing either of you, I suppose the addition of the time will help.

    Rules According to Frantic Sloth Who Hopes She Is Safe from the Same Confusion and Rather Believes She Is.

    Joe Dipinto 1:41 PM  

    @CDilly – so your grandmother spoke Germglish? Mine tried to speak Italglish but she didn't get very far with the -glish part.

    As for the how-can-people-tell-you're smiling-with-a-mask-on conundrum, I'm perfectly happy to seem sinister and creepy. I mean, if you have to wear a mask, you may as well work it to its full advantage.

    sara 1:51 PM  

    many people are enjoying the clue for ZEROES but i don't get it! can someone explain please?? hope i'm not asking too late in the day...

    Anonymous 1:51 PM  

    "The sad thing is that actual *beginners* will absolutely Not see a rebus coming on a Wednesday"

    Some of us experienced solvers can't stand them, either. As far as I'm concerned, they don't meet the basic definition of being a crossword. Not that it was difficult. The fact that I put in SneaKS for SKULKS probably cost me more time than the rebus. But I still hate them, regardless of how easy they may be. I especially hate them when they come on the wrong day.

    Also, no comment from Rex on 36A? I'm expected to know astrology now? Shame on you, NY Times. Don't promote that BS. You shouldn't have to be familiar with that pseudoscience crap to do a puzzle. Quiz me on state capitals all you want. Don't make me learn that garbage.

    Anonymous 2:00 PM  

    How to let them see you smile, Kentucky-style:


    “Who durst befowl mine Oreo?”
    The comely Usine,
    From “Moana,”
    Act IX, Scene XVII


    GILL I. 2:04 PM  

    @Nancy 12:47
    SB is the crossword spelling bee. You can thank @pablito from NH for getting the ball rolling. I haven't played it yet and I'll let others explain how you, too, can get on board.
    As far as baking bread....I've been making my own for quite some time. I don't bake because I have anxiety or depression - never entered my mind. I bake because the smell of fresh loaves drives me to insanity. No additives - no preservatives - just pure, lovely, soft, scrumptious, delectable, sexy bread wafting through the house.

    Kathy 2:05 PM  

    @Gill I @Whatsername, beer bread sounds like a fine reason to break open my new bag of flour!!!

    JC66 2:17 PM  


    There are 3 zeroes in 1000 - 3 out of four of the digits or 75%.

    old timer 2:20 PM  

    RESTAURATEUR went right in. It is in the dictionary, though "restauration" isn't. The first restaurants, in France, claimed to restore your physical and mental health. You would walk in, tell the waiter your problems, and he or the chef would create a menu designed to restore you.

    Come to think of it, I use my favorite restaurant that way. Walk in not knowing what I will order. Depends on how I feel. It does help that they also have a fine supply of liquors for my one cocktail -- and a good selection of local wines to follow. It was a bright day for me when they finally re-opened for takeout, having been one of the first in my town to get one of those forgiveable loans, which required them to hire back their staff. Since they were being paid anyway, going the takeout route made sense.

    Of course they are wearing masks. Required for workers and customers inside of any building outside the home. Not required when you are in your car, or just outside, unless you can't avoid close contact with someone else.

    BarbieBarbie 2:26 PM  

    @Z, I loved the short-answer UR words. One rebus square, the one in TAURUS, was the middle square of the grid. Put a “UR” here, right spang in THIS grid, it said. And the other one? Wow. Answer HEURE, which is what you get when you put a UR in HERE.

    This constructor is amazing. I’m a fan. This was a fun, fun, fun Wednesday.

    tea73 2:35 PM  

    Thanks to whoever it was that alerted us to using the insert key for a rebus. That has improved my life no end. This is not the first time we've seen a rebus on a Wednesday so I have no issues with that. It took me forever to cotton on to what was going on though SO? for the drink should have made it obvious. I didn't see it until the revealer and then whizzed around the puzzle filling in all my blank spots.

    @Loren Muse Smith I think the reason UR bothers me while other initialisms (is that the right word?) don't is that I always read it as "yer".

    Max PLANCK was a gimme. My husband worked at one of the many Max PLANCK institutes in Germany in the 1980s.

    Way back when I took a gap year in France and took a class in French diction. We were taught the phonetic alphabet and then had to translate passages into it. There were slightly different rules for poetry and prose. I really enjoyed it, though I don't think it actually helped my own pronunciation as much as it was supposed to.

    Oh dear this Keyword/CHEESEB*GER IN PARADISE is going through my head.

    Richard 2:48 PM  

    Was this the most straight-forward way ever to clue OREO, or what?

    Love rebuses (rebi?, help me out here). Knew how to spell ROURKE, so I knew there was a rebus in there somewhere, but floundered for a bit: R(OU)RKE gave me M(OU)lan as the Disney character for a while. But the light bulb came on with the revealer -- "you are" -- get it? get it? nudge, nudge. From that point a UR rebus hunt. Great fun. Nice when the revealer actually helps with the solve; otherwise it can be a bit anticlimactic. Not this time.

    I'da spelt it "restauranteur." Now I know better.

    webwinger 2:53 PM  

    @Kathy: Think you might also have been conflating Benny with Henny Youngman, another comic who came out of the mid-20th century upstate New York Borscht Belt tradition,* whose act involved his playing violin between one-liners. (Jack Benny also was a violinist, allegedly quite accomplished, and the owner of a Stradivarius.) Saw Youngman numerous times on TV in my youth. His shtick seemed pretty dated even then; could not be further from our present day sensibilities. His most famous line was “Take my wife—Please!” And yet, (according to Wikipedia) he was a devoted husband to his wife Sadie until her death after nearly 60 years of marriage.

    Don’t recall ever using the word myself, but somehow noticed many years ago that RESTAURATEUR lacked an N. Must have something to do with the French language.

    Getting an urge to bake from today’s comments. Maybe I’ll make a big round loaf of rye bread using @GILL’s terrific recipe again...

    More COVID thoughts for the day: I find it troubling that the drumbeat for more testing, and relentless emphasis on the federal government’s responsibility for its continued inadequacy, goes on and on—when there are other good reasons why testing has been so problematic, and claims for its importance rest largely on theoretical arguments—while we’ve mostly stopped hearing about the far more scandalous persistent shortage of high quality masks and other PPE, which is entirely the result of poor preparation, of far greater consequence than the predicted but unrealized shortage of ventilators, and can be blamed directly for some of the very worst elements of the pandemic: added risk and stress for healthcare workers; inability to allow physical proximity for the families of the ill and dying; and especially submission to devastating stay-home orders before universal masking was recommended (in contrast to the approach successfully taken in most Asian countries). If a worsening of the pandemic over the next few months finds us still struggling in this regard it will be an absolute outrage.

    Denominator—does any journalist even know what that means? How can a NYT report on numbers of deaths in excess of normal fail to state anywhere what the normal number is? Apart from the NYT’s invaluable continually updated summary statistics articles (for the US and for the world), it seems like we are never given the numerical context necessary to interpret figures that are thrown out.

    Finally (and please don’t get all upset folks), if COVID considerations are too off-topic to be legit here (hey, the blog is, after all, called Rex Parker Does The NY Times Crossword Puzzle, and I almost always include at least one link to a NYT article), what about all the Spelling Bee comments, for those of us who just can’t manage to enjoy that diversion?

    *If you are unfamiliar with this wonderful lost world, you might check out the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing, or the current HBO series Marvelous Mrs. Maisels.

    puzzlehoarder 3:07 PM  

    RUGRAT is too obscure for the SB? The other day the three words I came up short on were APPELLEE, EXEMPLA and EXPELLEE. Two of them can be found in my Webster's but EXEMPLA is such a non word it doesn't even show up in my Scrabble dictionary.

    Currently I'm stuck at 17 words for today's SB. There's 9 points still to go for the QB.

    TUATARA and GUAR may be obscure animals but I'm familiar with them because they each have their own picture in my Webster's. Does SB take them? Not a chance, the volcanic rock TUFA either.

    Lorelei Lee 3:27 PM  

    @people talking about rugrat. Rugrats was a cartoon about some toddler. Webster has it as rug rat. That might be why it doesn't show up in SB. I personally find it rejects quite a few words, and yet can accept some really obscure stuff.

    David Steere 3:27 PM  

    I can't believe Rex didn't call out the racist clue for 1-Across. Once again, a tin ear at the Times.


    jae 3:37 PM  

    Medium. Fun Wed., liked it.

    Off to do the SB. Looks like I’ll be skipping RUGRAT.

    Mo Pariser 3:52 PM  

    Oh maaan, obviously. Thanks that went about a mile and a half over my head. I wish there were a more consistent use of ?'s for clues that are puns

    Pete s 4:05 PM  

    I would have agreed that the Durst tie should go to the non murderer until. First Rex says use the non murderer and then uses the murderer as his word of the day. Then after reading word of the day I am so fascinated by this that I go to Amazon to see about a book. Then while trying to decide whether to by paperback or kindle and reading 5 star reviews I find out there is a six part series on HBO called “The Jinx”. I’ll probably watch “The Jinx” then buy the book cause I want to know more. I guess the tie will go to the more interesting. “He is a man for whom murder is an option”. And his trial is on hold because of Covid19

    Melissa G. 4:21 PM  

    The Durst clue was bad enough but I would argue War Zones is worse. What a buzzkill. C’mon people. Be better.

    sara 4:46 PM  

    today's SB was (for me) a killer! i just gave up early. whereas for some, I rush straight through to Amazing without a stop. curious! the cheat site is terrificall helpful but today, even though i knew what lengths words I was looking for AND what they began with -- no luck. that part of my brain just wasnt there.
    I go as far as I can myself and then look at the grid (how many words of what lengths with what initials) and get more -- but some of the "approved" words are SO strange and weird that I have stopped trying to get ALL, it would drive a person crazy...

    Z 5:07 PM  

    @Bob of Concord - I couldn’t help but notice that the people with some interesting and original arguments was willing to attach a nom de blog.

    @BarbieBarbie 2:26 - Fair. For me it’s that the two are different from the rest that niggles. If all 8 had been more randomly placed I’d have been happier. It’s the “6 in three long answers but 2 are not” that I find a little suboptimal. Again, not a huge thing, just something that niggles the orderly part of my brain.

    pabloinnh 5:10 PM  

    Hola @GILL I-I am reluctant to claim any credit for the SB thing, because I think it sort of sprang up organically. An idea whose time has come, mostly because it keeps you occupied longer than the actual crossword. Messing around with words is a fine use of one's time, I think. Today I am two four-letter words short of the much coveted QB, but I have made every single four letter word possible using these letters, (probably), and I am convinced that my missing words are not really words but words on the SB list, and they're welcome to them. He dicho.

    On the other hand after reading about your bread, I think I'd like to marry it.

    Bob of Concord 6:00 PM  

    Says @Anon 8:58am, if DURST is banned "puzzles will suffer."

    Well, let's see.

    If Durst goes, I guess CLEOpatra would have to go as well. Would the clue for CAMUS (a novel about murder) survive?

    But these cases are penny ante compared to the carnage in WARzones. And what about the greatest killer of them all, "poverty" (RAGS)? Or would that be HATE?

    Then, somewhere between the individual perps and the root causes, we have lethal weapons, represented today by ARROW. That, too, gone?

    Bob of Concord 6:21 PM  

    The 6:08 pm poster is posing as me (Bob of Concord). It is not my post. Pretty sleazy thing to do. Oh, well.

    Anonymous 6:44 PM  

    Rex and his band of woke scolds are doing irreparable damage to the Times puzzle, Robert Durst. Whatever. NRA, DeVos, RE Lee. The list of unacceptable names will only get longer. These people and organizations exist or are part of our history. Banning them from crosswords won’t change that. Deal with it.

    Anonymous 7:15 PM  

    How about BARBER? NO! Why? Because Sweeney Todd.

    A Moderator 7:36 PM  

    @Bob 6:21 - I agreed.

    BobL 7:40 PM  

    Love the Bee. Don't think Bee comments belong here.

    albatross shell 9:03 PM  

    I do not mind an occasional rebus whenever. But I am enthusiastic about eggs Benedict on any day and at any meal. Sunday supper only. Bah, humbug.

    Brevity be damned. Rebus is a misappropriation of word. It is at least brief, blessed brevity, with a good one two punch. Wish there was a snappy way to name it for Tom Lehrer. You know, a crossword with too many letters fit into a square.


    CHRIS. Did I mention I was named for A.A. Mine's son? One of many albatrossapodes I've lived with.

    Is there even ONE CAMUS CLAIR? I hope her middle is Emeline.


    COVID advice: do not SLURP USERS FEET. Fails breakfast tests.

    Sweet youth: OREOS and CAMELs.


    Z 9:10 PM  

    @BobL - I can’t think of a game I’d enjoy less than the Spelling Bee (Ooh, letters make words, does ZZZ count?), yet I manage to ignore all the SB BS.* Others clearly love it, so the off-topicness seems pretty innocuous. Certainly less annoying than the Rex Psychoanalysis (Psychorexanalysis?) to me.
    *Symmetry - How could I not?

    Anyway, just came to the internet to look up old testament mountains because I solved the Fireball on paper and thus no magic “you did it” signal. I did get the mountain right. Crossing an old testament mountain with Yiddish... Some constructors insist on being on brand even in different venues.

    albatross shell 9:31 PM  

    @Z 910pm
    I think people were threatening to burn their scrabble boards if ZZZ counted. They might burn their phones once they figure out ZZZ is secret code meaning you, Rex, and the third brother are triplets.

    Anonymous 10:19 PM  

    Webters New Collegiate indicates two spellings for restauranteur.

    Reason 10:50 PM  

    Including War Zones in a family puzzle is not cool. This Durst guy had like three murders and he is objectionable ? War zones have many more than that.

    albatross shell 10:59 PM  

    However, if spelled with an n, it is pronounced with the n. Traditionally a misspelling. So then we have a usage-Traditionally-correct split in a different way.

    JJM 5:44 PM  

    I started doing NYT cross when the pandemic started. Have been doing Chi Trib/LA Times since I was a kid. Never had seen rebus until I arrived at NYT. Initially didn'tnget it as I had never seen one.... then caught on, but thought that they mainly appeared on Thur's. So, today's rebus took me a while because I kept staring at Mickey ROARKE ( Iknow I have it spelled incorrectly), took me 10 min to figure that out... then caught on quickly.
    Very tricky.... at least for me.

    Unknown 6:30 PM  

    As a lover of the Marx brothers for 60 years (I have close to a dozen books on them) I have never seen any reference to Groucho having a prosthetic nose or any other proboscis disguise

    rondo 8:47 AM  

    Quite an inkfest in the NW trying to fit in Mickey ROURKE and his TURKEYBURGER; stAt before ASAP and then SneaKS/StaLKS/SKULKS. Learned my UR lesson there; thought maybe something to do with texting, but not so much.

    Options again with ANNA, LANA, and CHRIS-crossing LAURIE. How about that CLINCH?

    Surprise rebus that made a mess. Plenty of French stuff. Not my favorites.

    rondo 11:00 AM  


    LANA’s CLOD BARBER said,
    Now I’m a FRAYED her HEAD


    Diana, LIW 12:36 PM  

    Dear Will - I know it's confusing with the shelter in place thingy going on, but it really is Wednesday. You confused everyone. But we still like you.

    Got the rebus (me!!!) at EURO - that just had to be, and since I was in that corner, the YOUAREHERE clinched it. Altho I'm getting them more and more, I wonder if I really ever will LIKE the rebii. Probably more than a ton of PPP - that's for sure.

    Did you know that one volume of the OED weighs 6.4 pounds? I do now that I know who makes arrows and that ants are formicators. I did not make that up, even tho spellcheck thinks I did.

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the vaccine so I can visit Wolfgang's

    spacecraft 3:29 PM  

    So, ca you get aythig you wat at Alice's RESTAURAT? Apparetly, the letter betwee M ad O has bee baed. I shall try to get alog without it.

    That gives us a strage ame for DOD: Aa Chlumsky. This was mostly a good puzzle to do; I do't mid rebi i the least. THAKYOU, ALI, for a amusig midweek puzzle. Birdie.

    leftcoaster 3:46 PM  

    Started at the bottom and worked up and out from there. That course exposed the revealer too early, as the YOUARE/UR rebus theme became a bit too obvious.

    Potential naticks: ANTS/DURST cross and the LAURIE/TAURUS cross. Needed a couple of pauses.

    Have to own up to a dumb mistake in the SE corner: Guessed FEEs instead of FEET for "lambs and trochees" making for an ESs instead of an EST. Sacre bleu!

    Enjoyed it, but excuse my French.

    leftcoaster 5:06 PM  

    @Diana -- Good one on "formicators".

    Anonymous 10:56 AM  

    I thought all Groucho Marx disguises feature a nose (plus glasses, eyebrows, and mustache): https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/groucho-marx-disguise

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