Edwardian era transport / THU 7-9-20 / It comes on little feet per Carl Sandburg / German city where Einstein was born / Sound followed by whistle in cartoons / Colorful bit of cereal / Face of modern technology

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Constructor: Joe Kidd

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (?) (somewhere in the 5-minute range, didn't put anything in the theme squares because I think the shapes speak for themselves)

THEME: O boy — "O" shapes in four squares stand in for various "O"-shaped things: a RING, a CIRCLE, a LOOP, and a ... ROUND :(

Theme answers:
  • DOESN'T RING TRUE (19A: Sounds a bit off) / SPY RING (5D: Network of secret agents)
  • CIRCLE DANCE (26A: Hora, for one) / CIRCLE THE WAGONS (26D: Unite in defense)
  • FROOT LOOP (49A: Colorful bit of cereal) / THREW FOR A LOOP (10D: Caught off guard)
  • THIS ROUND IS ON ME (55A: Offer at the bar) / ROUND OUT (57D: Bring to fullness)
Word of the Day: HANSOM (51A: Edwardian-era transport) —
a light 2-wheeled covered carriage with the driver's seat elevated behind 
 called also hansom cab (merriam-webster.com)
• • •

Got the gimmick quickly but didn't *fully* get it because I seriously thought they were all just gonna be "CIRCLE"—I got CIRCLE DANCE first, and then at 5D: Network of secret agents, I got the SPY part and thought, "sure, SPY CIRCLE, that's a thing..." This is why it took me a bit to get DOESN'T *RING* TRUE—I was a little miffed on the clue there, since ... I dunno, somehow I always think contracts should be indicated in the clue (?). I just couldn't see / anticipate DOESN'T. Had DOES and figured that was the entirety of the verb. The contraction possibility just didn't (!) enter my head. But once that was all straightened out, the rest of the theme stuff was easy ... well, LOOP was easy. ROUND was ??? because man that is a horrible final themer. No one is going to look at "O" and say "look, a ROUND," whereas they might indeed describe that shape as a circle, ring, or loop. I guess there are round crackers that are called "rounds," but ... I just don't think that theme square works At All. Total outlier compared to the others (which all work nicely). I've seen theme concepts like this before, and they're fine, but the clunky execution there really dropped the puzzle a notch in my estimation—and on the final themer! The worst place to blow it. The fill on this one also wasn't great. Really liked LOSE BIG (8D: Be routed), and the theme answers were very lively, but most of the rest of the fillis pretty TWO-BIT (50D: Cheap). Lots of TETES MOS EATOF OFNO IGET GOAS ERRS ESS etc.

The SW corner was the hardest for me because I had a DUH / D'OH screwup that made me repeatedly mistrust HANSOM. Don't like the clue on "D'OH" (48D: "How could I be so silly?!") which indicates something stronger than mere "silliness" on one's own part. "Stupid" is more accurate. It comes from Homer Simpson, after all. Really hated that that corner had not one but two "words in quoted phrases by famous people"-type clues. I don't want more than one of those per puzzle, if possible, and I definitely don't want two in the same damn corner. There's gotta be better, more interesting ways to clue both DESTINY (43D: "___ is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice": Willliam Jennings Bryan) and FOG (54A: It "comes on little cat feet," per Carl Sandburg), although the FOG quote is at least ... interesting. Leave the Sandburg, ditch the Bryan. I also don't think LINEN is a [Bit of bedding]. It's not a "bit" of anything. It's a general term for bedding, or just fabric-y things. No one says "oh look, a LINEN." Bit, shmit. Anyway, this is all to say that that corner was yucky. But overall the puzzle was on the easy side. It's a middling, passable Thursday effort.
"Am I ... FOG?"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:04 AM  

Easy. It might have been more fun without the circles, but they seem to be part of the theme? Sparkly rebus answers but @Rex has a point about the fill, liked it.

Harryp 12:08 AM  

Average puzzle, Liked the Rebus, but although I have bought my share of rounds at bars, I was too cheap to think ROUND right away for 55A, and it took EMOJI, clearing up the SW to get CIRCLE for THE WAGONS. I had FRuiT before FROOT(LOOPS), but worked it out. Fun Puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 12:25 AM  

Nice choice on O. Henry – "From The Cabby's Seat".

Last fare for the night.

puzzlehoarder 12:40 AM  

I can really tell I haven't done any solving for a few days as I kept thinking how hard this was for a Wednesday. Then I remembered that I'm doing tomorrow's puzzle of course.

I got the theme at 26D. The other rebuses weren't hard to figure out. What cost me some time was having a FRUIT/FROOT write over at 49A in conjunction with a TAWDRY/TWOBIT one at 50D.

While I didn't write it in, my first guess for 43D was DECENCY. I was slow in coming up with HANSOM. All was clear in the end and when I realized it was a Thursday it didn't seem so hard.

mathgent 12:40 AM  

No comments posted yet. I’ll come back later but put me down as a rave. Absolutely loved it.

Anonymous 12:46 AM  

Instead of ROUND they could have used HALO. The editing on this puzzle is subpar at best.

chefwen 2:51 AM  

Love that little pink bean on Alfie's paw, so cute.

Got the theme right at the git go with 10D and 49A LOOP. My biggest problem there was spelling FROOT fruit, never ate that cereal so how was I to know? GO AS set me straight. Had next ROUND is on me at 55A until I remembered the capital of Belarus. DOH!

Cute puzzle, but a little too easy for tricky Thursday.

GILL I. 6:12 AM  

I'm a piece of toast in the morning gal but my kids liked cereal. I even remember Toucan Sam. The misspelling of FROOT fits in with millenium and accomodate. I'm good at that.
I got this little thing at RING. So like any other red blooded American, I went looking for other RINGs. FROOT to the rescue. So now I have a RING and a LOOP. Ah, yes....now we can add a CIRCLE. I saw that Hora clue and I thought about an hour in Spanish. Oh, wait....it's the dance. Happy feet.
I don't think I've ever said THIS ROUND IS ON ME. "My turn" is more my style. I'm imagining Clint Eastwood in "Hang 'Em High." After he gets cut down from the tree, he becomes a marshal and invites everyone in the saloon to a free beer.
Two little ERRS. I had tawdry instead of TWO BIT and my mojito garnish was a little lime instead of the obvious MINT. Easy to fix. And EASY it twas.
Little pink pinkie paw caught my eye. Sweet!

Lewis 6:33 AM  

I had a brief moment early on where it hit me that I just might not complete this, because I didn't seem to be getting anywhere, but then, in my other ear came a knowing voice that said, "Oh yes you will, just keep going." (It turned out to be correct.) Does this happen to anyone else?

I loved the devious cluing, the cleverness of giving crossword circles actual meaning, and the amazing feat of having the circles symmetrical in this particular theme.

I also liked the crossing of two textiles (FELT / LINEN) and two mythical beings (GNOME / ELF). Finally, when I see MINSK, I think "minks" and I love that it is joined by KIT, a baby mink.

One terrific experience for me. Thank you for this, sir. You are neither an average or sloppy Joe!

Leslie 6:35 AM  

Cute but felt Wednesday-ish to me.

Hungry Mother 6:49 AM  

I can’t not like a rebus puzzle. This was very fast until I hit the SNORING/GOAS area, where I stared for a while trying to get neW deal to work.

OffTheGrid 7:01 AM  

This was a bit easier than most Thursdays but it was crisp. I'm in the growing FRuiT group. That was my only real snag, though I also wanted lANdau for HANSOM at first. I thought the ROUND answer was fine. I got it from the down clue, bring to fullness, and then the bar clue was easy. I grokked the theme earlier at FROOT LOOP, even though I botched the spelling. A lot of the cluing was clever without being esoteric. The theme, once known, certainly aided the solve. Nice one, Mr. Kidd.

amyyanni 7:12 AM  

Thanks for explaining the O.Henry appearance, @Joe D. Loved clues for ERRS, FOG, and SLED. Like @chefwen, had fruit instead of FROOT, like @GILL, had lime, not MINT, which I cemented in with roil instead of BOIL. So I got my money's worth today. Oh, and @Lewis, yes, 100%, found it tougher than usual for a while.

TTrimble 7:20 AM  

Also found it fairly easy for a Thursday. Just a few seconds from my personal best. Put in HANSOn before HANSOM, and FRuiT before FROOT, and had begun putting in some letters for "tawdry" before righting myself. I could have had my PB had I not gotten stuck on DOING; particularly, the N required first changing over to FROOT before I could see SNORING. Subsequently, I liked the cluing for HEIR.

One says "take out the LINENs" when changing the bedsheets; I'm not sure how best to singularize "linens", but that's how I internally justified the cluing for 65A. Didn't gnash my teeth at ROUND, but I see Rex's point -- it looks as if maybe the part of speech for the rebus switched from noun to adjective in that single instance. Actually, if you really want, in the interest of (1) consistency and (2) charity towards the constructor/editor, to have the same part of speech for each of the rebuses, then notice that each of RING, CIRCLE, LOOP, ROUND could be read as a verb, each being approximately synonymous with "complete a 360". For what it's worth, that'd also be the relevant part of speech in some of the answers (circle the wagons, doesn't ring true, round out). Not that that really matters.

I don't know why Rex is so upset about contractions. They're pretty commonplace in crosswords without indication in the clue, no? For example, D'OH I should think is a contracted form, and I didn't see him griping about that (well, he *did* gripe/cavil about the cluing for D'OH, but not for that reason). I think what it really is, is that Rex doesn't like contractions if and only if they interfere with fulfilling his prime directive, which is to post an awesome time (i.e., awesome from his perspective -- others like me are already in awe). I won't mentally dock him for leaving the circled entries blank.

--[[SB Alert]]--
Aw, dammit: NAIAD. Would'a had QB yesterday but for missing that. Oh well, today's another day.

kitshef 7:22 AM  

I guess this was fine. It had the misfortune to run after back-to-back A+ themes, so it felt a little flat.

IMO, William Jennings Bryan was dead wrong.

I always make sure to get three servings daily of FROOT.

TTrimble 7:24 AM  

That happens to me all the time. It often happens for example when I'm working an acrostic: the situation just looks hopeless at first. But in the end, I always get 'em. I'm a stubborn cuss.

Snoble 7:28 AM  

@Lewis, thanks for pointing out the clue symmetry--I appreciate any elegant element life offers, though sometimes it has to be pointed out to be consciously recognized. ESS followed by EES was the antithesis of elegant.

pabloinnh 7:35 AM  

Yep, the FROOT/Go as/ _____deal intersection was a head-scratcher for too long, due to spelling FRUIT properly, as happened to many. Nanoseconds indeed. Finally decided that the New Deal would have required a capital D in the clue, went with RAW, changed FROOT, and there you are.

Liked the rebus. RING was obvious and CIRCLE came next so then it was a matter of seeing what the other rebus squares were going to be, which was fun.I agree with OFL that ROUND is a stretch for a noun. Liked TWOBIT and also THREWFORAO, which is something my mother used to say.

Nice easyish Wednesday, for which thanks, JK. Rebus power!

Petsounds 7:36 AM  

Just could not get ROUND. The phrase familiar to me is "This one's on me," but that didn't fit, and 57D didn't help at all. Spent ages on that almost-Natick. Not enough time spent in bars.

Agree with Rex about LINEN's not being a "bit" of anything. A bit of bedding might be a pillow or a bolster or a sham, but not LINEN. Linen is the whole ball of bedding wax. And I don't think "consume" is the same as EATOF, even biblically. "French beans" was too cute by half.

I needed the downs to get "Face of modern technology," but I liked being stumped on that one. Good clue! Also liked the clue for WEED, which wasn't as big a misdirect as the constructor probably intended, just because it's now officially weeding season in my flower beds.

Enjoyed this one overall, but not quite as much as I enjoyed that photo of Rex's cat's little foot.

ChuckD 7:39 AM  

I liked it - the theme was pretty tight and the fill was workmanlike. Once I got theme it went pretty quick. FROOT was a little odd and Rex was right about some of the short gluey stuff but overall a nice puzzle. Not a real Sandburg guy and don’t like cats so I would ditch that and keep Bryan. STEED over WEED not great - but I liked MINSK crossing NEON. I’ve never visited but the visual for me is gray and cold - far from vividly colored.

albatross shell 7:53 AM  

Okay, it was easy. Nary a cheat or a Google, so hooray. Very classic phrases for the theme. WTF is a GOAS? DOH, itsa DOOK. GO AS.

The fill? Short and unspectacular? Yes. But wonderful too. Why? Almost no proper names or pop culture. FROOT Loops which I had no idea wasn't FRuiT. Lost seconds there. OCHS TORAH. The crosswordese was fairly respectable too. HANSOM my fave fill.

I felt the same way as Rex, that ROUND seems a bit off. But take a look at M-W.
First definition of round as an adjective:
shaped like or approximately like a circle or cylinder.

First definition of round as a noun: A circular piece of a particular substance.
"cut the pastry into rounds".

So I guess it passes the circle test. As much as hoop and ring anyway.

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

Anybody else like EATOF running into FROOT?

Pamela 8:18 AM  

Like @Lewis, it took a while before I got going on this one. SPY cell was my first rebus attempt, so 19A was impenetrable for a very long time, until I finally realized that all the other rebusses were circular in shape.

Even then, many stops and starts. FRuiT LOOP, raW deal, DuH, lime, scrub for SCRUM, making all possible missteps, limping along. But I remembered the Carl Sandburg poem from early days in school, back when I was young enough that knowledge sticks for a lifetime, unlike now, when so much goes up in invisible smoke.

Like yesterday, when I pushed the wrong button in the elevator in my building, 7 instead of 11. No problem, no one else in with me to see, no line downstairs waiting. Pushed 11, my floor. Start thinking about the violin I’ve just borrowed to replace mine, which needs repair. I’m playing later with friends and hope this one has a nice sound. Door opens, I get out, go to my door. The key doesn’t fit. Oh no! I’m on 7. OK, go back, call the elevator. UP button doesn’t light up, maybe it’s broken, I push DOWN. It stops on my floor, then comes down to get me. I get in, but by now someone has called it back to the lobby so I go down again, get him, push 11. He gets in, and out at 3. Elevator stops, I get out. Oh no! I’m back on 7!!! Up button was working after all, which I’m not happy to have learned. OK, I’ll walk. Up 1 flight. Huff, puff. We have very high ceilings. This is the downside. Up one more. Dying now. Enough health, I’m wiped out, I broke the 7 jinx, only 2 floors to go. On 9, I ring for the elevator. Get in. Push 11, stand there in a daze, get out when it stops, head slowly to my door. Key doesn’t fit. I’M ON 10! One last burst of frustration and fury helps me drag myself up the last flight of stairs to my elusive home, where I collapse gratefully into the first comfy chair I come to.

But fog on cat feet? That I’ll remember until I die. Speaking of which, Alfie’s are charming, not foggy at all. Keep those photos coming, please!

So yes, I liked this puzzle. Plenty of crunch, a little cleverness here and there, cool rebus theme. Thanks, Joe Kidd!

@TTrimble- Me too, no NAIAD. Didn’t have LANAI, either. 🀬. On to today’s, hoping for better. Good luck!

Anonymoose 8:24 AM  

Verb/noun breakdown:

RING, noun in the down answer, verb in the across

LOOP, noun in both

CIRCLE, verb in down, noun (or adj?) in across

ROUND, noun in across, verb in down

Nancy 8:43 AM  

Yay! A rebus! And a nice one. If it hadn't been for a spot or two, I would have said it's too easy for a Thursday, but I had trouble with the hideous FROOTLOOP (God, I hate it when companies deliberately misspell their products); couldn't for the life of me figure out how DOI-- was "effort"; and didn't pick up "dress like" as GO AS either. So I did struggle a bit in that one section. But all THIS IS ON ME -- no ROUND required.

One clue I hated; one clue I adored:

"Bad thing to do" = NONO. Very awkward usage, since you don't "do" a NONO.

"Response to 'Who's a good boy?'" = ARF. My favorite answer in this puzzle. One of my favorite answers in any puzzle.

Not all the fill was scintillating. But the rebus was very nicely done and I was happy to see it.

TTrimble 8:44 AM  

--[SB Alert]--

Yay, a QB! Today's didn't seem difficult -- the obscurity factor seemed rather low. I see only two that might be outside the average solver's ken. Emphasis on might.

bauskern 8:59 AM  

Haha, putting down FRUIT instead of FROOT was my mistake for awhile, but how was I to know? We were never allowed to eat junk food as kids! Haha. So while I have zero cavities, I had no idea how to spell it.

Loved the rebus. Had no issues with ROUND, it's a common term.

When Rex says he finished "somewhere in the 5-minute range," is he timing himself or not? I'm guessing that really means 6 minutes, and he's embarrassed. Don't worry Rex, we all know you're really fast.

blinker474 9:00 AM  

That was a very nice puzzle. When reading the comments on the puzzle I remain mystified why Rex, and others, complain about the fill. We all know that there must be fill or there will be no puzzle. Or a puzzle with a lot more black squares, which we would all hate.

RooMonster 9:17 AM  

Hey All !
A Rebus today, which is nice. I'm actually surprised everyone liked this so much. No complaints about short fill? Especially from Rex. Tons of (relatively speaking) black squares, 44! Dang.

But, again, Rebus. Agree that ROUND is off. The clue for ROUNDOUT is also bizarre. Maybe "Bring up?" would be better. (Look at me, non-puz person correcting a published person πŸ˜„). Can someone explain the ESS clue? It's not clicking in the ole brain.

Did know FROOT LOOP spelling, at least. *SMUG*

This FELT Wednesday-ish if not for the Rebus. Just sayin'. ☺️

Five F's (there ya go!)

Lewis 9:23 AM  

I would like to elaborate on a point I made earlier. The circles in the grid are symmetrical. This means that Joe had to find theme answer pairs that not only had to be the same length, but the "circle word" could only fall in a particular square. It would have been much easier if he could have put that circle anywhere in the answer. Yet he came up with phrases that sounded in the language despite this tight restriction.

This shows considerable skill, work ethic, and dedication to the art of puzzle construction. And while this feat didn't make the solve any easier or harder, it brought elegance to the puzzle (as @snoble mentioned earlier). You didn't have to do it this way, Joe, but I appreciate that you did.

Suzy 9:25 AM  

Too think all these years I thought they were Fruit Loops! Sigh...

Z 9:25 AM  

Like Rex, I left the rebus squares “blank” because the rebus was already printed in the grid.

Hand up for favorite clue being “Be routed.” Definitely had air travel on my mind until three nanoseconds after I filled in the completed answer. D’OH.

Sign that I might do too many puzzles: I wanted laNdau before HANSOM.

@puzzlehoarder - Hand up for wanting DEcencY but I already had LINEN so knew it wouldn’t fit.

@TTrimble raises an interesting point, is D’OH a contraction? Why does it have that apostrophe?

Hand up for wasting three precious nanoseconds on FRuiT. GOAS fixed it. I assume GOAS are non-heteronormative boas.

No problem with singular LINEN.

Solheim Cup org.? Seriously? I assume you golf fans got this and I somehow knew immediately it was women’s sports, but my first thought was hockey.

Suzy 9:27 AM  

Oops— “too” bad!

Nancy 9:40 AM  

@Lewis -- I didn't notice the symmetry of the circles -- grid symmetry being something I simply don't notice. I agree it's impressive and should be acknowledged, but I also think it falls into the category of Unnecessary Things Constructors Do To Make Themselves Unnecessarily Miserable.

*Cryptogram Alert* -- Maybe only for @Joe D, since no one else here seems to do them. I found today's wonderfully apt -- my favorite of all those that have appeared since this feature began in the NYT. And, btw, for anyone who has been doing them: wasn't that German word monstrosity concoction from last week grossly unfair?

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Please explain 22 across, “Word containing itself twice”.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  


Z 9:46 AM  

@Lewis9:23 - I was wondering why there were only four circles and about the doubled cheater squares before 26A/after 49A. The symmetry must have driven these decisions. I really like that touch of elegance. And I think Rex is too harsh on the short fill. ERRS, EES, and ESS grate a little, but there’s really not much to harp on in the short fill.

I forgot to ask earlier, what’s the second most famous Sandburg quote? Maybe it’s a generational thing, but it really seems to me like everyone knows this poem but not a single other Sandburg line.


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

If I had to guess it would be Hog butcher for the World, but I’d forgotten that was Sandburg until I visited PoetryFoundation.org

@bauskern - Why you seem to need to think Rex cares what we think is beyond me.

jberg 9:46 AM  

No problem with DOH/DuH— the clue only fit one, even if loosely. But as a non-cereal-ester I needed the crosses for FROOT/FRuiT LOOPS.

I was just thinking of Sandburg the other day, trying to think of a context where it made sense to say the cat came in on little fog feet, so it was nice to see it here.

Drive-by comment, TTYL

Another Anon 10:00 AM  

@Roo & Anon. The letter "S".

Cosmo 10:02 AM  

I can never hear Hansom without thinking Beef-a-rino (sp?)

GHarris 10:13 AM  

Picked up the theme quickly once I saw the circle dance and moved through rather seamlessly. Like many others, had to degrade my spelling (fruit to froot) in order to finish.

MLSchrenk 10:13 AM  

Me too!

JC66 10:14 AM  

To clarify, the word ESS has two S's in it.

MLSchrenk 10:15 AM  

I read Hora as hour in Spanish. Took a while for it to click

William of Ockham 10:18 AM  

The images of the circles are in fact the rebus - a picture puzzle, perhaps the most clever part of this one.

Puzzle itself super easy and immediately transparent at SPY# crossing DOESNT#TRUE

TTrimble 10:20 AM  

@Anonymous 9:42
"ESS" is how you spell the letter S (much as "alpha" is how you spell the Greek letter), and S appears twice in ESS.

So I troubled to look up D'OH, and found this. As you can see, it's a contraction in a sense: it was created to satisfy a need to shorten a much longer doooooooooo (which according to the article is rooted in Laurel and Hardy), but Dan Castellaneta was asked to shorten it to meet time constraints. So it's not apparently an amalgamation of two separate words (like DOESN'T -- I was wondering whether it was DUH + OH or something), but it serves the same purpose of quickening speech, like "ma'am". On the other hand, it doesn't seem to actually elide over internal sounds, so it might not quite meet the criteria set out in the Wikipedia article.

(Still, I think maybe my original point stands: does Rex show annoyance at "ma'am" if the cluing doesn't give a heads up for a contraction? Not as far as I can recall.)

Joaquin 10:22 AM  

The best part of this puzzle was @Lewis' counter-punch to @Rex's usual nit-picking. Thank you, Lewis, for pointing out stuff that I would never - in a million years - notice on my own.

Whatsername 10:22 AM  

Kind of a Thursday that knows how to Wednesday but I enjoyed it. First thought it was going to be all the same rebus because I had RING DANCE but quickly saw it should be CIRCLE, and it became clear there was more to it. I would’ve liked HOOP in place of ROUND but overall very clever and fun.

I didn’t notice at first but thanks to @Lewis for pointing out the nice symmetry in the placement of the circles. Loved the clues for HEIR, ARF and WEED. First time I had seen or heard the term ORAL tradition but now that I know what it is, I really like it, so perfectly descriptive of its meaning.

@Pamela (8:18) Enjoyed your elevator story and OMG, can I ever relate! The other day going to the recycling center - a place I’ve managed to drive to unassisted probably a hundred times - I was thinking of all the other errands I had yet to do and missed a left turn. Went around a couple blocks to get back to the main street, then missed the same turn again because it looked unfamiliar coming from the opposite direction. Ah, the joys of senior moments. But like birthdays, when I consider the alternative, I’m okay with that.

kitshef 10:23 AM  

I have been told that the apostrophe in D'OH represents a glottal stop. I don't hear it that way, but younger ears might.

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

The word "ess" contains the letter "s" twice.

bauskern 10:32 AM  

@Z Why you need to think about what I care about is beyond me. LOL. We all have our quirks.

And you were thinking of "Stanley" Cup when your mind drifted to hockey.

Carola 10:41 AM  

A very nicely done puzzle, and fun to solve. After quickly getting 19A x5D, I enjoyed the little fake-out (for me) of thinking "Oh, it's all RINGs [I'd also cast an eye on the "ring" dance below], too bad it's going to be so easy" - thus "THREW ME FOR A LOOP" really did so.

Me, too, for FRuit. Moment of shame: "rANSOM" cab, geez. Also, I mis-garnished my mojito with LiME.

@Lewis, thank you for pointing out the symmetrical circles.

egsforbreakfast 10:44 AM  

All of you who got stalled by FRuiT are either too young to remember or so old you’ve forgotten. Toucan Sam, mascot for FROOT LOOPS, had a secret language, comprehendable only by kids. That language was, in fact, Pig Latin (igpay atinlay to you native speakers). Sam didn’t label it as such, but that’s what it was. At the end of the commercials, Sam would sing a ditty ending “OOT-FRAY.OOPS -LAY”, and his little kid buddy would intone “I know what it means!” So, given the contrast with UIT-FRAY, it’s easy to CIRCLE around to the correct spelling.

As to the question of rebus consistency, I would point out that LOOP is the only one that is employed as a noun in both directions.

This is a true story that I have to relate as it seems quintessentially Rexian:

Easy-mediumship puzzle, probably slowed somewhat by having nine stitches sewn into my head mid-solve!!!

mathgent 11:01 AM  

Three of the clues have a chance to make Lewis’s list this week. The clues for ERRS, ESS, and ARF.

There is no agreement among us on the definition of a junky entry. I thought today’s was junk-free. MOS came closest.

I had 17 red plus signs in the margin. Sparkle Plenty.

My favorite themer was CIRCLETHEWAGONS.

I didn’t notice the symmetry of the circles, but I think that I would have been bothered if they had been scattered.

Well-conceived rebus, excellent sparkle, enough crunch. I’m very well taken care of.

pmdm 11:10 AM  

I tend to speed read the write-up because it tends to be predictably the same day after day. I read the solver comments a bit more slowly. I connect with some. For instance, the comment Lewis made about the symmetry of the rebus squares. But those comments that strike me as a bit more self-indulgent and needlessly picky tend to make me ask if I could spend my time better. But I guess this comment can be aimed back at me.

True, entries like DOH and DESTINY can make a corner more difficult, but that would only bother a speed solver. Which is why I sometimes think those who do not pay attention to the clock get more enjoyment from the solving process. To each his/her own.

Today at XWordInfo there is a link to a list of all NYT crosswords that include a rebus. For those who haven't visited the page yet, try and guess how many rebus puzzles have been published since Shortz became the editor. See how close you are to the actual number. And, if like myself you enjoy rebus puzzles, pray that Shortz does not decide to diminish their frequency. But I would like to see more published on a day other than Thursday (and the occasional Sunday) so their appearance would surprise unexpecting me.

Leaving the crossword world, I will be eating inside a restaurant for the first time since early March. Rain is in the forecast so outside is not an option. It will be a very odd experience (especially since we will have to enter wearing masks). And even though it is a very fine restaurant, we will probably goggle our food down to avoid as much as possible te threat of becoming infected (which would likely kill either of us if we became symptomatic). We live in truly strange times.

albatross shell 11:15 AM  

@Pamela 818am
Just out of curiosity were you saying you will never forget "fog comes on little cat feet" cause you saw it in the puzzle or from reading some time ago. Just wondering it is still taught in schools. No need to mention when you went to school though.

@Z 925am
Did Rex leave the rebus squares blank?

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

no one who's (contraction) drunk enough to buy a ROUND (for the whole damn bar) is going to say the full IS, now is he? ROUND'S it is. slurred all the way home. THISH ROUND'S ON ME!!! bartender, fill 'em up!

Crimson Devil 11:26 AM  

Good Thurs rebus. Especially liked HEIR, GOAS, LOSEBIG, ARF, ESS, WEED, and being reminded of Annie Savoy’s LETSNOT.
Learned HANSOM; never understood distinction ‘tween DOH and DUH.

Viejo Gringo 11:29 AM  

How is DOING effort?

What? 11:29 AM  

Pretty easy but fun. I liked ARF and FROOT.

JD 11:32 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Newboy 11:36 AM  

Skipped here first cause I wanna save Rex & y’all for dessert.

If yesterday was “cute,” I don’t know what to call Joe’s sparkling Thursday main course! Brilliant seems fair since “clever ” doesn’t go far enough to appreciate ⭕️ (Is there a better EMOJI for “fully?”) how this theme opens and then fulfills its DESTINY. ARF/ELF brought a giggle and I only FELT TESTY when FRuit didn’t work! I could see the box and Toucan from our 70s breakfast bar, but FROOT wasn’t a part of the mental picture.

I seldom feel pure delight when Mr Happy Pencil chimes; today I did πŸ₯΄

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Loved it! Why? Because I couldn't get anything, then managed to puzzle everything out. On a Thursday! - newbie

Ethan Taliesin 11:57 AM  

I would have preferred to find the rebuses on my own without the circles in the grid.

albatross shell 12:02 PM  

Doing definition 3:
Example: That will take some doing.

When in doubt go dictionarying.

Sir Hillary 12:14 PM  

Good stuff. @Rex is right that [ROUND] is not as good as the others, but I don't have a big problem with it. Not sure what else you could use -- halo (suggested by someone else)? zero? orb? All of those have issues.

Speaking of zero, I was hoping @Rex might embed a video for Zero 7's "DESTINY".

Having just finished a NYT review of a new biography on Newt (above the crossword in today's paper), I misread 11D as "Gingrich's creator". I have to say, the photo of him accompanying the article makes him look like Whoville's town sourpuss.

Masked and Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Played out slightly on the hard side for some reason, at our house. But it wasn't becuz of the theme, which was neat and we latched onto its mcguffin(s) pretty quick. The words weren't very hard, so it musta been the clues that put up a fight. Looks like 4 of em were ?-mark clues, which chipped in at least some of the extra feist.

staff weeject pick: ARF. Its primo clue wins it the prize.

least fave themer: FROOTLOOP. (I had FRUITLOOP for waay too long. This gobbled up some nanoseconds. What can I say … I'm mostly a Cheerio dude.)

Nice touch, with the OFNO & NONO GNOMEs.
Luved that there were four different rebus values. Always like different theme angles. ROUND was just ever-so-slightly desperate, I'd grant. But no biggie.

Thanx, Mr. Kidd. Who's a good ThursPuz? ARF.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Birchbark 12:27 PM  

LINEN -- Reminded me of "The Bicycle Thief." A man pawns the bridal LINEN -- his hungry family's only possession of any value -- to buy a bicycle, so he can get a job as a delivery clerk. [quasi-SPOILER ALERT] The day goes to pieces from there, the final scene the grand finale of all bummers.

If you decide to watch "The Bicycle Thief" anyway (it is a masterpiece after all), consider following it with "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" and see what a farce does with similar material. Makes me laugh, in any event.

@Pamela (8:18) -- Your elevator story is so much like one of my recurring dreams that I almost fell asleep to see how it ended. Glad you made it home safely.

TTrimble 12:30 PM  

"It took some DOING" = effort.

JD 12:31 PM  

Got off to a slow start. Brain freeze at Hora and Unite in Defense. Group Dance and Group Effort type thing? Didn’t ring true and wasn't frootful.

Couldn't even get Spy Ring, in spite of an obsession years ago with le CarrΓ©'s Smiley books and all things Cold War.

Middle fell quickly, but still don't see Effort meaning Doing. Can anyone explain? After more push back in the south, circled back and the fog lifted with that clever little NW corner.

Lotsa great fill ... Smug, Miffed Gnome? Another dwarf, Touchy. I'm in!

And I love saying Scrum. Legend had it at Penn State that we didn't have a Rugby team in the '70s after they were banned for warming up in front of a visiting team using a skull they'd filched from the anatomy lab.

@Frantic, Gratitude for acknowledging my lamentation over that extremest right leaning thing.

@Z, that conversation started yesterday with a post about Bass.

(Having trouble posting today, last try)

old timer 12:35 PM  

Hands up for writing FRuit LOOPS before FROOT. Remembering the FROOT spelling saved me from a DNF.

I never knew that Fog poem was by Sandburg, because Herb Caen adopted it as a poem about San Francisco, and it's famous fog. I didn't even know Chicago had fogs. Possibly Sandburg never even visited San Francisco, at least not as a young man.

Joe Dipinto 12:39 PM  

@Nancy – I like today's Cryptogram too, though I wouldn't say it's my favorite. I didn't do the previous two – that is, I looked at both of them briefly without coming up with anything, and then didn't go back to them. I did see the solutions the next day.

Lindsay 12:44 PM  

I was expecting @Lewis to point out that Circle Dance (Hora) is just above the Torah, so I will do it. DUH and HANSOM DNFed me, alas.

My father used to quote that first line from Sandburg regularly, so that helped...

JerryM 1:01 PM  

22A? Can somebody explain? ESS huh?

Teedmn 1:04 PM  

I join the FRuiTLOOP group today and, combined with the DOESN'T RING TRUE clue for DOING, (though thanks to comments here, I see how it works now) that section held me up and bled down into the fourth themer where ROUND was not making the rounds.

But all turned out well and I'm on team "liked it".

Thanks, Joe Kidd, nice job.

JC66 1:17 PM  


See my 10:14 AM post.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

I have never been, but know folks who lived in and around Chicago. Which sits right up against Lake Michigan. Which acts much like an ocean when it feels like it. cf. "The Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot for what can happen on the Great Lakes. Gets foggy.

albatross shell 1:41 PM  

@oldtimer 1235pm
Chicago is on a lake, was a swamp, and its name is a native word for skunk weed. I have never been there more than 48 hours at a time. But my guess is foggy.

Nancy from Chicago 1:50 PM  

I got stuck in the NW corner for the longest time, mostly because I wanted the "ranch" answer to be "dude." I had to leave and come back several times until finally STAB came to me which gave me BOSSED and ACRE and then I was done.

Thanks for the Alfie picture! Such cute toes.

Now I have a yen for some Froot Loops, which I probably haven't had since I was about 8.

GILL I. 2:05 PM  

@Pamela 8:18....I don't mean to laugh at your expense, but I am....After I laughed, I did a secret phew. Things like that happen to me a lot. Like @whatsername, it' usually in the car. I tend to sing out loud while I'm driving - especially when Adele comes on. I will forget to turn off a road I travel a million times and end up in a different county. I'll reach for Siri for directions but my battery has died on my phone. I try to re-construct how I drove to practically Nevada and nothing works. Pull over to a gas station and ask for directions. I'm getting pretty good at knowing where the gas stations are. I am so glad I'm not alone....

ghostoflectricity 4:11 PM  

Such a cute kitty boy!

Cate 4:36 PM  

ROUND as a type of song, a perpetual canon, row row row that boat. More noun, less adjective.

Hartley70 5:08 PM  

I’m late enough to have lots of comments to read and I have to say ditto to @Nancy. I really liked this puzzle and decry the brand name FROOT. Spelling errors are tolerated to an appalling degree in students, and need we ask why when a cereal box marketed to kids is an offender? I’d like to auto-correct each box as a public service.
Aside from that I loved the FOG clue, ESS was fun and most things were just enough out of my comfort zone to make me pause even though my time was Thursday average.
And oh Rex’s photo of the little kitten paw with it’s still pink little pad made me so happy.

Pamela 5:17 PM  

@whatsername- My commiserations- Sounds familiar!

@GILLI. No offense taken. Later, even I laughed as I told the story to a friend on a Zoom chat. By then the other members of the quartet had left, the borrowed violin had been well up to it, and I was home for the rest of the day. Whew!

@Birchbark- It was like a bad dream while it was happening, but now the whole thing looks just so ridiculous!

@Albatross Shell- I remember the poem from school- possibly grade school, but in any case quite young. Long, long ago.

Frantic Sloth 5:36 PM  

@Pamela 818am Hilarious! I know it's not nice to laugh at the afflicted, but since joining their ranks, I feel entitled to do so. πŸ˜‰

Puzzle was easy for a Thursdee. Thought theme was okay, but a little meh for a rebus. And then appreciation grew after reading @Lewis's 633am comment concerning grid/circle symmetry. He always gets right down into the nitty-gritty details that I'd never notice in 10 lifetimes. You're a treasure, dude!

@JD 1231pm Grateful for your gratitude, but in the interest of full disclosure - I was actually mocking you. In jest. You know, in fun. Like repeating your very words using the font you loathe. You know, ha ha and all that.

That Alfie and his jelly beans!


JC66 6:02 PM  

@Hartley70 & @Nancy

This might not matter to you but FROOT LOOPS doesn't contain any fruit and the misspelling of the name is supposed to be a "cute" way to indicate that while calling attention to the product.

Joe Dipinto 6:20 PM  

My brother once worked with someone who fed her poodle Froot Loops and nothing else. All the dog's teeth fell out.

I miss John X. He must be off having untold adventures somewhere.

Anonymous 6:51 PM  


there's a reason for that olde saw, "clean as a hound's tooth", their usual diet includes no sugar. humans, on the other hand, ain't that smart.

syracusesolver 6:52 PM  

Well, I got FROOT right away because someone from Stanley Steemer is coming tomorrow to clean my rugs. [sigh]

In xwords a circle usually highlights the letter it contains. To have it actually stand for its shape—in four different ways—adds a clever literal twist to this puzzle.

It was a fun solve.

Anonymous 7:04 PM  

You’re kidding, right? Rex desperately cares about what people think. Including people on this blog. There are far too many examples of Rex jumping in here to respond to something to believe the fiction that he doesn’t read the comments.
But more than that, he has a twitter account to pontificate. That’s what Twitter is for. To get other people to listen to you.
Rex has many fine qualities. But he is also clearly desperately needy.

Newboy 7:10 PM  

@pamela & @gill posts like yours are the reason I keep coming back to this place! Great tales that anyone can relate to and, if lucky, enjoy in dreams as well.

Anonymous 7:33 PM  

Joe Dipinto. I don’t believe that story for one second. Any, and I mean anything that might serve as corroboration?
Per pound, Froot Loops are pricier than store brand dog food. Who would choose to use a small box of pricier food when a bigger and cheaper bag is easily available?

Brenton 8:12 PM  

The word ess has two esses.

Brenton 8:13 PM  

"That took some doing." is something people say. That took some effort.

Brenton 8:22 PM  

Enjoyed this one quite a bit. Enjoyed the theme, didn't have a problem with ROUND (it's a thing, Rex).

I enjoyed LETSNOT, ESS, ARF, STEED (originally had HORSE, then BREED), FELT/SEEN.

Also made the FRuiT/FROOT mistake, and was also tricked by HORA as Spanish hour.

Anonymous 8:40 PM  

Who would choose to use a small box of pricier food when a bigger and cheaper bag is easily available?

Well... lots of folks are willing to vote against their own self-interest if some candidate feeds the voter's paranoia. feeding a pet the 'food' they always crave isn't much of a stretch.

GHarris 8:42 PM  

If anyone has an interest in my take on today’s Supreme Court rulings my letter to the Times is online now and will appear in the print edition tomorrow.

Anonymous 8:59 PM  

Anon 840
What? Tell me about the pets craving. How would a pet develop a craving fo Froot Loops? It would take some time. And that suggests my first question. Who would substitute a more expensive less healthy food for a cheaper, more healthy equally available chow?

Tom Alexander 9:32 PM  

My man loses heads up for president three (3!!!) times and gives arguably the most interesting quote about destiny ever, which is all the more interesting based off of the aforementioned fact, and Rex prefers “foggy cat feet”. Smh

Joe Dipinto 10:12 PM  

@Anons – Okay, I lied. I just wanted the attention.

All I have is that one piece of information, which had been told to my brother. I do not have first-hand knowledge of the situation. The story may very well have been exaggerated. But my brother saw the dog, as I recall, and he said its teeth did look quite rotted out, whatever the cause.

spacecraft 11:32 AM  

LOTSA hands up today: FRuiT, which nearly caused a DNF in the SE central ("Effort" = DOIMG?? That is one tough puppy to see); leaving the circles (rings? loops? rounds?) blank and let them do the talking; dislike of APs IGET and GOAS.

I do not, however, mind ROUND as a theme shape. A childhood memory was tweaked: there was a radio comedy show called "Life with Luigi," which nowadays would be outrageously PI. One of the characters was overweight "Rosa," about whom Luigi would say: "Rosa is not fat; she's ROUND." Yeah, I know, but that was then.

Little to pick from for DOD; we'll go with Miley Cyrus, whose real name is DESTINY. Guess the parents knew what was coming.

I liked the Sandburg quote, and most of this puzzle. As @Lewis noted, the rings are perfectly symmetrical; that's certainly a shot saved, in the LPGA or anywhere. Because all the theme phrases are so in-the-language, I'm giving this one a birdie.

thefogman 12:33 PM  

“Am I fog?” Like Rex’s cat, I’ve often asked myself the same question...

Burma Shave 1:55 PM  


There's LOTSA OTHERs to DO what's NOT my DESTINY,


rondo 3:55 PM  

Had a suspicion so I left it as FR__TLOOP until I got the crosses. But I did have RING in the CIRCLE box before THEWAGONS came around.

SATE yourself, the four corners take a SEAT in the EAST.

@spacey is dead on about DESTINY.

Better than the normal Thurs-puz rebusiness.

leftcoaster 4:00 PM  

Struggled mightily with FRuiT, FRuiT, FRuiT. Never encountered FROOT, FROOT, FROOT. "How could I be so silly?" Wasn't hard at all. DOH !

Enjoyed the theme and the rest of it anyway.

Diana, LIW 6:22 PM  

I wish all rebi-type puzzles had circles like this one - I got it pretty quickly. My only question was how to spell WAGON (with an O), and of course, changing the FROOT.

Diana, LIW

Anonymous 2:08 AM  

Liked it in part since the theme helped with the solve rather than more often than not just being dead weight. Took a fair amount of time, and trial and error, to finish.
@Rondo, SATE.....TAKE a SEAT in the EAST and drink TEAS.

Unknown 12:28 PM  

“Oh yes we will.” My wife and I say that on many puzzles!

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