Jewish month of 30 days / THU 9-10-20 / What every infinitive in Esperanto ends with / David Lynch's first feature-length film / Loser to Wilson in 1912 / Vocal opponent of 2001's Patriot Act for short

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (low 5s, first thing in the a.m.)

THEME: a bunch of BEETHOVEN stuff (in honor, I assume, of his 250th birthday, which is this year) — you've got his name and then a bunch of longer answers that have nothing to do with him, but which contain, in non-consecutive circles, the nicknames of three of his symphonies, which are, we are told, SYMPHONIC, and then you've got the opening eight notes of his 5th symphony, appearing in letter form, with one of those notes being a rebus because you have to put the full name of the note in the box and that note is E FLAT (inside DEFLATED) (4D: Released air from, as a balloon). So GGG[EFLAT]! FFFD! (13A: With 70-Across, dramatic opening of 62-Across's Fifth)

Symphony name-containing answers:
  • PUERTO RICAN (30A: Ricky Martin, e.g. [Third]) (3rd = "Eroica"
  • SPANISTUTORIAL (39A: Exercise before a trip to Latin America, say [Sixth]) (6th = the PASTORAL symphony)
  • SCHOOL RALLY (48A: Event before a college football game [Ninth]) (9th = the CHORAL symphony)
Word of the Day: SHEBAT (23A: Jewish month of 30 days) —
Shevat (HebrewשְׁבָטStandard Šəvat Tiberian Šəḇāṭ ; from Akkadian Šabātu) is the fifth month of the civil year starting in Tishre (or Tishri) and the eleventh month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar starting in Nisan. It is a winter month of 30 days. Shevat usually occurs in January–February on the Gregorian calendar. The name of the month was taken from the Akkadian language during the Babylonian Captivity. The assumed Akkadian origin of the month is Šabātu meaning strike that refers to the heavy rains of the season. In Jewish sources the month is first mentioned by this name in the bible book of prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 1). (wikipedia)
• • •

This feels like one of those rushed tribute puzzles you sometimes see shortly after a famous person dies, only in this case the famous person has been dead for going on two centuries, so why this should be so conceptually ragged, I don't know. This here is the (everything but the) kitchen-sink approach to making a tribute puzzle, which is, in the absence of a core concept, you just throw as much different kinds of junk in there as possible. And I love Beethoven. It would be weird not to. Just this week I've listened to "Eroica," Piano Sonata No. 21 ("Waldstein"), and the Violin Concerto in D major (Op. 61). So insofar as I have Beethoven dancing around my head right now, I can say this puzzle was enjoyable. But as a puzzle, it was a bit of a mess. The very cutest thing about it was the "opening notes of the 5th" gimmick, which felt original and creative (even though I didn't know the exact notes and had to get them from crosses ... I could infer that the first three of each four-note set were the same note, but what that note was, shrug). 

And then there's the little rebus twist with E FLAT going in one square. Clever. Also, potentially destructive, as people won't be looking for a rebus and will possibly rationalize some other answer for DEFLATED. I myself had an error in that square because of dumb morning brain. I got the gimmick, but instead of writing in the E (which the software will accept for the full EFLAT—it generally accepts just the first letters of rebus elements), I wrote in "F"—you know, for FLAT ... wah wah wah WAH. My brain somehow accepted "D" FLATED as a correct rendering of 4D. Ha. Anyway, as I say, that part was original and interesting. But the non-consecutive squares garbage, wow. And two of those answers just felt awkward: forced on the one hand (SPANISH TUTORIAL???) and dated weirdly phrased on the other (SCHOOL RALLY). "Hiding" a name in non-consecutive squares never ever ever feels like an accomplishment. It just looks a mess. And then there's the very sad SYMPHONIC, an adjective, which is here instead of the much more appropriate noun (singular or plural) entirely because of reasons of symmetry, i.e. neither SYMPHONY nor SYMPHONIES has the same number of letters as BEETHOVEN. So we get SYMPHONIC. Not the things themselves, but the word describing those things. Sigh. 

The fill is largely OK, though it also feels pretty old in its general orientation, and there are some Rough patches. UNPILE???? And that ... is somehow related to "disentangling?" (31D: Disentangle, in a way). Have you ever used the word UNPILE in your life? No, really? Maybe there's some niche activity where that's a thing, but if something is in a pile, and I take it out of a pile, I would never say, for instance, "I'll be there in one moment, I'm just unpiling my laundry!" I actually had UNPOLE at one point before I noticed that TOS didn't work for 44A: "___ So Sweet to Trust in Jesus" (hymn). That "X" in the SW is total Scrabble-f***ing, as XED isn't good fill so what are you even doing??? Just put two solid real words in there, no one cares about your "X." No idea what NEOcortex is, but that was easy enough to infer (34D: Prefix with cortex). No idea about SHEBAT either (23A: Jewish month of 30 days). I'm familiar with SHABBAT, but not the month SHEBAT. And it's a variant spelling ... not that the non-variant spelling would've been easier. That answer took every cross. No other real problems, though. I'm fluent in crosswordese, so the fill was not tough (OGEE! OGLE! INRE!), and as I say, I'm a BEETHOVEN fan, so the theme stuff was largely a cakewalk. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Hungry Mother 6:12 AM  

Loved this one today. A rebus and some circles that actually helped the solve. Toss in some Thursdayish fill and we have a winner. Faster for me as well.

Kevin C. 6:19 AM  

I can't recall ever encountering a tribute puzzle I've truly enjoyed. Can anyone think of a fun, cohesive, NYT tribute puzzle off the top of their head?

Lewis 6:25 AM  

Oh, David, you got me, and got me good! You lulled me, with the rest of the puzzle, into thinking this was a Thursday tribute puzzle, and that the words in the circles constituted the Thursday trick, along with the delightful GGGE / FFFD. You made me believe that DEED had a meaning – “air from a balloon” – that I never heard of, because it had to be right. And I was left thinking that it was a fun solve, but disappointed that there wasn’t a more devilish Thursday trick. And then BOOM, in the app, just as I finished, the rebus appeared, and I was filled with a big “HAH!” and “OH, YES!” -- one of those great moments for me that will sit along with an elect few in my inner crossword Hall of Fame. You set me up and flim-flammed me good, David. I am wowed by how you did it, and ever so grateful that you did!

Conrad 6:34 AM  

When I was in school (back in the paleolithic) we called them pep rallies. SPANISH TUTORIAL is a thing but possibly better clued as "Extra language help, perhaps?"

And, of course, the eternal "About" quandary: is it AS TO or INRE?

But nits aside, any puzzle that inspires @Rex to post Beethoven According To Peanuts can't be all bad.

@Rex, I believe that football commentators will say something like "The refs have to UNPILE the scrum to see who has the ball."

smalltowndoc 6:39 AM  

I liked this puzzle. The theme was clever and well-executed. I judge the quality of a theme by (among other things) how helpful it is as an aid to solving the puzzle. That is the case for this puzzle. It was clear early on that the circled letters corresponded to the names of the symphonies, which I knew despite my nearly complete lack of classical music knowledge. Who knew that my save Music History 101 course would ever come in handy! (Penn, class of 19**).

I did have to cheat once by using the web to find the score for Beethoven’s 5th (although I totally missed the fact that the E is flatted! See below).

My only real complaint is that, as Rex pointed out, my app accepted "E" as a correct answer for "EFLAT", making me wonder how "DEED" could possibly be the correct answer for 4D. Learning from Rex’s write up that that square was rebussed (like to see that nonword in a xword) only raises my level of appreciation for this puzzle.

Ernonymous 7:13 AM  

I guess I'm the only one who had DIED for the dead balloon? GGGI made sense to me, I even sang it. The I note, it's next to the H Sharp. That's why I shouldn't puzzle in my sleep.So many DEEDs and only one DIED.

kitshef 7:14 AM  

I have a tin ear, and while I am sure the puzzle is correct that the fourth note of the 5th symphony is not the same as notes 1-3, this comes as a huge surprise to me.

I disliked the expectation that I should know those words, and I disliked SCHOOL RALLY. And SHEBAT. And that clue for PENNY. And UNPILE. And AN I.

On the other hand, I loved ERASERHEAD.

Not good, on balance.

Some have heard this before, but my two favorite O HENRY factlings: He created the Cisco Kid and coined the expression banana republic.

Unknown 7:24 AM  

The Hebrew month is Sh’vat. An accepted spelling is Shevat. Shebat? Never saw that spelling ever and it is not accurate as to the actual pronunciation of the Hebrew word.

Ernonymous 7:30 AM  
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Joaquin 7:30 AM  

Really? One rebus square?
Well, last Thursday there were none, so I guess it’s a start.

Nickyboy 7:32 AM  

One single rebus makes it seem, to me, that someone didn't know how to finish constructing their puzzle, was stuck, and said "ah, the hell with it! Stick in a LONE rebus in one square!"
Lame. If you are going to use one, use them throughout.

Z 7:40 AM  

Let’s see, a quote tribute puzzle followed by an tribute to 9/9 followed by a tribute puzzle. Alrighty then. The only bright spot was the brief glimmer of hope that the vocal opponent of the Patriot Act would be the ALA. Nope, just the usual ACLU.


ChuckD 7:42 AM  

I’m not big on the tribute puzzle - this one was not terrible but I always feel that tributes take up too much of the grid and as a whole the puzzle suffers. Beethoven is fine - the cheater circles got filled in and the themers went in after that. Agree that SCHOOL RALLY is a little off and SYMPHONIC can describe multiple types of music. Our friend ACLU shows up after spirited discourse yesterday and I like seeing BUNKER HILL any time.

Overall I’ll take it. Easy puzzles always lean me towards the positive side of things. I saw ERASERHEAD in a midnight show in Poughkeepsie in ‘78 - needless to say I did not impress the girl I was trying win over that night.

mathgent 7:51 AM  

According to Jeff Chen, these are the only Beethoven symphonies with titles. Eroica is often in the puzzle but I didn’t know the other two.

I had everything but the NW and SE so I called in The Closer. She explained that GGG? and FFF? were musical notes and we started going “duh duh duh DUHHHH, duh duh duh DUHHHH.” FFFD seemed right for the second phrase, so GGGE must be the first one, but DEED? That can’t be right, I said. She lost interest and went back to the BBC mystery she was watching. I kept on staring at it until I saw DEFLATED with the rebus square. I had one of those little mental orgasms that Lewis often has. Wow! That made it all worthwhile.

There was some other good stuff, too. PUERTORICAN hiding EROICA. “Grumpy co-worker.”

pabloinnh 7:53 AM  

There I was looking for the fastball E and I get a changeup EFLAT. Swing and a miss. No problems anywhere else, well, AGA for ALY, but easily fixed, and even as a retired Spanish teacher I'm not sure what a SPANISHTUTORIAL would be, exactly.

My favorite part of this was seeing OGEE again. Longtime solvers will say hello to an old friend. I'm still looking for ADIT and ATLE, by the way. At least we have our own ANOA on a regular basis.

OK Thursdecito, DJK, and the next time I see you as constructor I'll be on the lookout for booby traps.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

So, Rex didn't actually complete this puzzle?

JD 7:57 AM  

Again the NYT has chosen a clue that's related to something "in a way" and then wrongly applied that relationship to the answer (see calve rant of one day last week that I can't remember).

Pivot ("to turn on or as if on a pivot") doesn't mean Slue ("turn or slide violently or uncontrollably in a particular direction.")

Slue is to Pivot like punch in the face is to handshake because they both involve extending your hand to another person.

This is important because it's a matter of integrity and trust. Here's another example of that issue. If a rebus jumps out at me in one answer, I trust there will be the elegant symmetry of another rebus at the cross referenced answer. But that doesn't happen here.

So when solving, I'm stopping to make decisions based on what fits vs. what's true. Suspend disbelief and keep moving isn't a fun choice.

Why would I opt for something in my life that lies to me every day? Oh wait sorry, now I've drifted off into politics.

The puzzle was a relatively easy Thursday, but it was a grab bag. Low party favor rating.

JJK 7:58 AM  

The theme was super easy for me, as I’m a Beethoven lover and also played his symphonies in high school and college orchestras (second violin section). I got the composer name right away and then could easily fill in all the circles with the symphony names. But I was flummoxed in the NW because I didn’t get the EFLAT (thought it was just E) and spent a lot of time trying to figure out how DEED had anything to do with a balloon.

Same nits as others: symphonic just sounds stupid, they’re symphonies. No one says SCHOOL RALLY, it’s a pep rally. You would beef up your Spanish by taking lessons, not a tutorial (probably).

But mostly I liked this because it was about good old Ludwig.

Dan M 7:58 AM  

Thought the theme was worth the often crusty fill. Only gripe is with the NYT iPhone app, which accepted E instead of EFLAT in the rebus square, which caused me to totally miss that very clever bit of the puzzle (had no idea how DEED was correct). But all in all this was about as entertaining as a tribute puzzle can be!

Marion 8:07 AM  


Greg 8:08 AM  
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Unknown 8:18 AM  

My poor husband! I woke him up in the middle of the night with my epiphany: “On it’s a flat! DEFLATED,” He was not impressed. We are still puzzling over “slue.”

Pamela 8:21 AM  

Peanuts’ Beethoven is priceless. Thanks, Rex

I knew Beethoven from the Fifth clue, but stupidly miscounted the squares where his name belonged and thought it wouldn’t fit. So for a while during the early part of the solve I was bewildered, wondering what possible ‘Fifth’ something I should have been able to think of. Having leer in place of OGLE at 3D made it worse, because it hid the 3 G’s, and I moved on quickly. I made my way down toward the south leaving many blank squares. One gimme along the way was ERASERHEAD- I saw it years ago when it first came out and have never forgotten that weird guy and the buzzing fly. With that and BOX and EVE making BEE, my guy was unmistakable, the majestic GGGEflat righted itself and all was well.

Years ago, when I was still just coming back to playing violin after a hiatus of several decades, I joined a small community orchestra at a college on LI on the urging of a friend. I didn’t think I was good enough yet but she insisted, so I went. This was no stellar group. Most of the players were similarly unaccomplished, to put it mildly, but enthusiastic. At the first rehearsal, the conductor raised his stick, the first notes rang out, and I heard and felt the music all around me, almost like I was being enveloped by it. I was in ecstasy! I felt that way the whole time we read through the 4 movements.

There was a concert eventually, for family and friends, but I had to be away for work. I asked to see the video that had been made and could only watch the very beginning. It truly was a terrible orchestra. But Beethoven’s music survived even that group to reach out and touch me in a way I’ll never forget. Ever since, I get a touch of that thrill every time I hear it, even in my head, like today.

JD 8:25 AM  

@Unknown and @Marion, you're supposed to believe it and keep moving.

JD 8:30 AM  

@Giovanni, Non stupidità. Misplaced trust in the integrity of the NYT crossword universe.

Z 8:39 AM  

@JD - As is often the case, SLUE (or slew) has multiple meanings and 50% of the ones listed match the clue. Personally, “slew” is the past tense of “slay” and SLUE is what a car does on icy roads, but English. Oh, and “slew” can also be lots of people and etymology online tells me SLUE is old nautical slang for a drunk. Anyway, the clue is fine.

Spatenau 8:40 AM  

I rationalized BLED for DEFLATED, but knew it was wrong because of the crosses. And, yes, I never would have guessed that a rebus was involved since it was the lone rebus in the puzzle.

Teresa 8:43 AM  

Finally, a puzzle for us musoids! But I never expected only a one-clue rebus so the whole time I was living in fear that the puzzle-maker somehow didn't realize there was a difference between E and E-flat. Didn't finish because of that but had fun.

Unknown 8:47 AM  

Neil Young tribute in a Sunday forming a heart of gold with “AU”s is one of my favorite puzzles of all time.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

Funny coincidence to see Citizens United and ACLU on consecutive days being that they’re inextricably linked in history.

Joaquin 8:56 AM  

@Z and others - I always associate SLUE with my dance lessons from the 50s (which I hated!). The movie "Daddy Long Legs" featured a dance called the "Sluefoot" which we all had to learn, even two-left-footed clumsy clowns like myself. As I recall, we did a lot of pivoting in that dance, so the clue is correct as far as I am concerned.

Ernonymous 8:57 AM  

@Pablo I loved seeing OGEE too. It was one of the words I was told to memorize, but it's been a few months since its last use. I was shocked when it popped into my head immediately. It's on my list of words to know, but I don't study it. Usually when one comes up and I say " ay papi, that's on my list, what the heck is it?"

JD 9:15 AM  

@Z, A car pivots on icy roads? Pivot is a choice. Careening in a circle not so much. It's a slippery slope here today. The Times lax approach is starting to seriously annoy me. I'll try to bow out now.

But first let me say, @Spantenau, your issues with Bled for Deflated and the rebus make suspension of disbelief a difficult choice. Sometimes the NYT crossword will reward it and other times you'll just be duped.

CDilly52 9:17 AM  

I am lodging a spelling complaint that almost caused me a DNF. Well, I guess technically it did cause me a DNF, but since I am calling a foul on NYT, I am allowing my Google-assisted “correction.”

While in undergraduate school in Urbana- Champaign (go Illini!) a huge number of students were from the northern Chicago suburbs, and of that huge number it seemed to me as if a large majority of students from that area were Jewish. Coming from Columbus OH this was my first real introduction to folks with Jewish heritage and faith. I learned so much, enjoyed some new holidays and of course was introduced to some wonderful food. Along the way, I developed more than a passing familiarity with the Hebrew calendar including the month of SHEvAT. Yep, the only reason I know the months is my deep friendship with folks like Lila and Lewis and Leah and Rhea and Sam and oh so many other wonderful friends. I texted several before I began to “cry foul” and am backed up to the hilt that SHEvAT is correct.

Imagine my frustration when I breezed through this (for me) fairly easy offering honoring BEETHOVEN and not getting the “happy music.!” I poured over my answers looking for a typo and could not find one. So everyone is practically screaming at me now, I can hear you: “CDilly, there’s no such thing as vISTROS, and I absolutely beg to differ. A lovely man of (I believe) at least partial French heritage, Paul Virant owns and operates a charming restaurant in Hinsdale, IL, called Vistro. It is but one of his several interesting and eclectic eateries with a definite sidewalk cafe vibe. I simply assumed that it actually came from a French word similar to BISTROS and since I was certain of SHEvAT, went on about my way. I ended up checking via The Great Google and much to my chagrin, “corrected” my already correct answer to make NYT happy. Heavy sigh.

That little contretemps sullied what otherwise would have been an exceptionally easy Thursday for me. I got a good chuckle in the NW with the actual opening notes. Having played the symphony numerous times and studied the score, I was onto the rebus instantly which kicked off the puzzle nicely.

All the circles did not add any particular pizzazz for me, but it was certainly an impressive feat of construction. The fill was all over the place and didn’t seem to help pull the theme together. In fact, I wish NYT had held this back for publication on December 16th, which was celebrated annually in the Pleanuts strip annually by Schroeder. I believe we get that date from Herr B’s christening rather than his actual birthday which as far as I can tell is still unknown for certain.

I’m a big B fan, so enjoyed the tribute despite my disagreement about vISTROS/BISTROS.

Nancy 9:19 AM  

I had no idea what "released air from a balloon" could possibly be when I had D?ED. And I certainly didn't know what the 4th note of BEETHOVEN's Fifth was. I just knew that it wasn't a fourth G.

I think my very belated "Aha" would have been even bigger if I'd done what I planned to do in the first place, but didn't bother to: Google the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth. But finding "E Flat"/"Deflated" here on the blog was the next best thing.

This puzzle beat me fair and square. Thought for the day: A single rebus square is a lot tougher to suss out than many rebus squares.

And the puzzle has humor. There's something truly funny about GGGEFLAT/FFFD as crossword fill.

The humor and trickery make up for the things I never like in puzzles: Randomly and arbitrarily placed tiny little circles that spell out something inside an answer if you take the trouble to look. I was all set to write a tepid review, but that was before my big "Aha" Moment. I ended up thinking this is pretty nifty -- despite the tiny little circles.

lukiegrifpa 9:21 AM  

E-Flat is the best aha moment I’ve had in a puzzle in awhile. I just read Matt Gaffney’s book Gridlock so it is still fresh in my mind that sometimes you have to sacrifice the quality of the fill somewhat in order to deliver a theme. Sure I could gripe about some of these, but the pluses far outweighed the minuses for me. Your mileage may vary.

Carola 9:23 AM  

The best part of the puzzle for me was, "Gosh, this is an easy cruise for a Thursday" (after the composer and his SYMPHONIC works were all filled in) being reversed by the surprise and shock of the encounter with the iceberg represented by D?ED, where I really struggled to remain afloat. I actually got the "FLAT" part, but failed to write in the necessary "E," as I read the crossing Down as "D-FLAT-ED." So, I F-F-FaileD.
@David J. Kahn, today you got the last HAHA and YUK :)

Sixthstone 9:25 AM  

This was fun and easy puzzle given that I'm fairly familiar with Beethoven. Musical experience helped me figure out the notes in 13-across, and the easy cross DEFLATE gave me the rebus. With the theme figured out, it was off to the races. A little trouble in the center with Shebat and slue (new word for me!), but overall quick and fun. Quite of bit of crosswordese, but I'm fairly fluent so worked out well.

I was expected Rex to go to town on this one. WIth it's many circles, multiple cross-referencing clues, "kitchen sink" theme, and an odd single rebus. But he actually liked it! "Hey Mikey! He likes it!".

Knitwit 9:30 AM  

Liked this one. I did not figure out 13A until I got to Rex’s review. On a different subject, can someone tell me where frequent poster LMH went? Did I miss something? I usually check in here everyday and haven’t seen her comment in awhile.

Joe Welling 9:34 AM  

I learned that OGLE can be a noun.

pmdm 9:35 AM  

For those familiar with the composer (of the music), it was very easy to fill in the themed answers. Except for the [lone] rebus. For such a person, the rebus may have been the only thing on a Thursday difficulty level. For those not familiar with the composer [is that a null set] and/or the symphony nicknames, must have been quite tough.

Enthusiastic thumbs up for me.

RooMonster 9:45 AM  

Hey All !
Well... Interesting, to say the least. Ruined my nice little streak I had going. Did get the FLAT rebus at 13A/4D, however, didn't have EFLAT, just FLAT. So ran into Rex's brain ELIDE on the E. Then, for 70A, figuring in the rebus square of its symmetrical entry, put in FFFFLAT, thinking there has to be another rebus square. Can't just be ONE (EIN, UNO), right? Really, really wanted AIDE for 61D, but stuck with the AIFLATE nonsense.

So a Major fail (major, get it? Musical... Never mind).

SHE BAT - alternate title for BatWoman/BatGirl.

Who put in (probably 98% of us) AGA first for 6D ALY? Only know of AGA Khan from crosswords, and now you throw us another Khan? Sheesh.

Rex's SW corner nit. Change that X to a Z, BOZ, ZED. BOZ I think is s nickname for an older footballer, no? Or a character on "Night Court". Anyone help me out with that? Foggy brain. Still, better fill than that X. IMO 😋

Six FFFFFF's (themers helped)

JC66 9:46 AM  


There are two "correct" Hebrew pronunciations, Ashkenazi and Sephardic.

Pete 9:46 AM  

Man, I hated this puzzle, for all but one reason - it served to cement in my mind the difference between David Kwong (the magician who's puzzles I don't like because I find them too cute) and David Kahn, whose puzzles I hate because they're horrid. Wait, there were two - my software accepted plain old D at the intersection of 1A/4DE, as I wasn't going to try to reconcile how letting air out of a balloon was sufficiently iconic (it really can't be, because time does it 100% of the time, when given time) a DEED to merit that clue.

Multiple cross references, multiple green paint theme answers, theme answers which deman perfect pitch all for a tribute puzzle three months early? No thanks.

AW 9:48 AM  

@Knitwit: I was wondering the same thing about Quasimojo. Haven't seen any posts from him in a long time either. Where did they go?

TJS 9:54 AM  

@JD, Agreed. With everything you wrote.

@Pamela, thanks for giving this non-musician a sense of the experience.

Personally, this has been an extremely disappointing week of puzzles. Let's hope for a big Friday/Saturday finish. But I'm not optimistic.

Nancy 9:54 AM  

Oh, @kitshef (7:14), you poor benighted man. Say it's not so. Now, many here didn't know what the 4th note of Beethoven's Fifth is -- including me. It takes relative pitch to discern that from knowing that the first three notes are "G"s, and, while my brother possesses relative pitch, I don't. You have to have true musical chops and few people do.

But not to know that the 4th note is different from the 3 "G"s. Why that is just...tragic. You poor, poor man. You poor, poor man. To call your ear "tin" is to give it far too much credit. Why I wouldn't even call it aluminum foil.

You poor, poor man. Someone should bake you a cake around now. @GILL?

57stratocaster 9:59 AM  

The last letter I entered to finish the puzzle was the E in e-flat. I knew it was a musical note, so I was going to run the string of a b c d e f g. when E worked, I thought how the hell does DEED = let air out?? Then I looked at the finished the grid, and the software had entered the entire eflat, it made sense. Aha. Not the best Thursday, but certainly interesting.

Unknown 10:04 AM  

Agreed! WAs more fun than any for a long time

Richard 10:11 AM  

Had to go to the piano to find EFLAT. Query: is that cheating?

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Always an amusing bit: The Ninth is, arguably, the loudest, and certainly the longest, of the symphonies; thus the title of CHORAL, which is not by nature a loud piece of music, is a tad ironic. Yeah, I know, 'Ode to joy' at the end. I'd wager that most folk consider that the title of the piece, anyway.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Can't say I particularly enjoyed the theme, but at least a puzzle was finally able to combine MGRS HTS XED INRE REI RIA RYES ONE UNO YUK HAHA all in one grid.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:20 AM  

Bunker Hill is actually in Charlestown, MA, not in Boston.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Loved this. Anything which requires me to sing a symphony in my head is clever, and DEFLATED was icing on the cake.

Rube 10:23 AM  

E flat easy for us musicians. Hard for others. Thats ok, because I don't know authors and book titles so it evens out.

SHEBAT SHEVAT proves again that translating foreign language is not always simple. In Hebrew alone we see sukkos or succoth or sukkot and they are all the same. But it's pretty easy to figure out that the French go to BISTROS not vistros. So stop complaining.
I was hoping the circled letters for Ricky Martin would be MENUDO. But it was not to be. Good puzzle

James Rapson MS 10:32 AM  

Maybe there's not a lot of overlap in the Venn diagram of crossword lovers and football lovers. In football, when players even think that someone fumbles there will be a massive, tangled pile of bodies. The term "unpile" is used frequently, as is the term "disentangle" in the same concept - if you've seen the process of getting these guys carefully removed from the mess you should be able to appreciate why the two words could be approximate synonyms in that context.

Ethan Taliesin 10:41 AM  


Anonymous 10:42 AM  


I'm too lazy to look it up, but, having lived in the North End decades ago, I thought Charlestown had been annexed into being just a neighborhood, like Jamaica Plain, South Boston, Roxbury, and most of what is today's Boston? Originally, Boston was just the peninsula of Beacon Hill and a bit of today's North End. Once the Irish and Italians took over city and state (well, commonwealth) governments, Boston went on a feeding frenzy.

Ethan Taliesin 10:43 AM  

I misread "saloon" as "salon" and so I had DYES before I realized it should be RYES.

AD 11:00 AM  

Shebat is not a variant spelling. It is an incorrect spelling.

Banya 11:08 AM  

I could hear the notes in my head but I have no musical ability so I didnt know which notes. I just knew the first three were the same and the fourth would be different. (and that it had to be A-F!) I got FFFD purely from crosses so when I finally got one of the Gs in the upper left hand corner I filled in GGGE. Weirdly, I got the complete jingle and the program just filled in the EFLAT rebus for me. ...I was wondering how DEED was deflating a balloon.

The only other issue I had was I had SPANISHTUTORing. I knew the ing was wrong but I could think of what else it could be and the downs weren't helping me. Finally figured it out - but that was the hardest part of the puzzle for me.

Peggie 11:12 AM  

Emerita is singular. Plural is either emeritae or emeriti. Or has Latin changed?

Swagomatic 11:15 AM  

I was really enjoying the puzz until SCHOOLRALLY happened. Pep rally, yes, but not school rally. Also, one lone rebus seems a bit off. I give it one pencil.

Newboy 11:16 AM  

Gotta run to a socially distanced meeting in the park, so I may get back to enjoy all the commentariat. Did read far enough to agree with @Nancy and once again find that @Lewis summarized my experience better than could I—and he had posted before I had hit the start button on our coffeemaker! I never will be a speed solver and I can live with that.

Barbara S. 11:22 AM  

@Kevin C. (6:19) & Unknown (8:47)
“Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” This may have been a wheelhouse thing, but I liked the “Treachery of Images” tribute puzzle to René Magritte. That was a Sunday puzzle from a couple of years ago(?). As I recall, you ended up with a big pipe of appropriate shape in the center of your grid by connecting circled squares. As I also recall, almost everyone in the universe detested the puzzle. Tributes are hard to do.

Merriam Webster 11:22 AM  

Definition of Shebat
: the 5th month of the civil year or the 11th month of the ecclesiastical year in the Jewish calendar

Frantic Sloth 11:27 AM  

What the hell was that? Why have any rebuses if you're only gonna have ONE?? To me this puzzle just looked slapped together* or didn't know what it wanted to be. Tribute? Circle game? Rebus? Or just a soupçon of each?

Some people might have preferred doing this without the circles - and who could blame them if they could still suss the SYMPHONICs - but, alas, I seriously doubt I would have known what to look for. So 👍 ⭕️s

But, heaven save me from the scourge that is a looky-loo crossword puzzle!
Needed my "with-see whiplash" neck brace to continue safely and responsibly. Actually this one wasn't as bad as most because I was able to ignore them and do the downs, but that's not ideal by a long-ass shot.

Oh, and so happy to see ACLU here because it means the lively discussion from yesterday can continue. whee.

BTW @Whatsername from yesterday - I saw and answered your comment very late. Nothing important, but didn't want your reply to go unacknowledged.😉

Is next to nada/nothing = UNO/ONE clever or lazy? Only a constructor knows for sure. Discuss amongst yourselves while I OGLE this OGEE.

I really don't know how I feel about this puzzle. That dang non-rebus AIDE in the SE corner really ticked me off, so my true reaction is tainted. Just gonna rate and run. Ciao!


*Time for me to repeat my comment caveat. In reality I hold the greatest respect and admiration for anyone who can construct a crossword. This accomplishment is a feat so far beyond me, I'd need to "Hubble" for it, and would still fall short. Even the "worst" puzzles are light years away from my meager abilities, and despite the criticisms I offer here, I am aware of this always. I just choose to ignore that fact so's I can rassle with the puzzles and the commentariat. After all, this is only the movie. 😉

brainpercy 11:27 AM  

NEOcortex is the part of your brain you used to solve the puzzle. High school biology probably covered it, if not in earlier grades.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  


alas, the dead stay the same. well, they generally rot a bit, but that's not positive change.

Z 11:29 AM  

@JD - Just in case I wasn’t clear, I use SLUE the way you use SLUE but others SLUE differently, people like @Joaquin8:56.

@Peggie - the “like” in the clue means we’re looking at an adjective instead of a plural noun.

@AD - שְׁבָט won’t fit in the puzzle. As for how to transcribe that middle consonant sound ... I’m just guessing that the middle consonant sound isn’t articulated exactly the same by everyone.

@TJS - I liked Monday. After that 👎🏽👎🏽👎🏽

pabloinnh 11:37 AM  

In at least one of the romance languages, an initial and an intervocalic B or V are interchangeable phonetically, so the spoken "bistro" would be identical to the spoken "vistro", and ditto for "shebat"/"shevat".

And that's the SPAHISHTUTORIAL for today, and maybe I do know what that is.

Lewis 11:37 AM  

A general, NYT-puzzle-related comment …

Last night, before going to sleep, just for a fleeting moment, my eyes and mind brightened at the thought that there was going to be a new puzzle waiting when I wake up.

I come into every NYT puzzle excited. I know it’s going to have spark, that great effort will have gone into it, and that – not always, but with regularity – there’s going to be something special, something original, something that catches me off guard in the best way, in it. So rarely have I been disappointed. I am amazed at the cadre of constructors and team of editors that consistently fuel this gift, and am so deeply grateful.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Nope, not buying "slue" at all, b/c the definition of "slue" is to SKID or lose control of movement; it's not a PIVOT, which would be a deliberate movement.

Also not buying "emerita" b/c the clue is PLURAL so the answer must also be plural, and furthermore, I believe that far more men than women are retired (tenured) academics, so I had "emeriti" which would be the correct answer. (Thank you, Sister Rosalie!)

Bill 11:46 AM  

“Schlep” does not mean “tote.” A schlep is some sort of aggravating or annoying journey. To tote something simply means to carry it.

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

@anon/11:40 (no, not me)

thanks to an episode of 'Air Disasters', one SLUEs an aircraft to PIVOT. it is a controlled maneuver which puts the plane on a changed heading. the on-line dictionary agrees.

JC66 12:20 PM  


Check out the first & third definitions of SCHLEP.


To repeat my 9:46 comment, there are TWO common pronunciations of Hebrew, Ashkenazi & Sephardic.

Jesse 12:22 PM  

That rebus killed me. I wanted it to be "bled". There are no other rebuses in the puzzle and that word actually fits the cluing better!

old timer 12:22 PM  

So I says to myself, "Self", I said, "Why don't you walk right over to the piano and play GGGE, and see if it works?" But I didn't. Had I done so, the D flat would have been immediately obvious, since Beethoven's Fifth was the first present I asked for after getting a record player for my 10th birthday.

And I would have discovered how great the puzzle was. DEFLATED is of course correct, and the DEed I and many others put in was ridiculous.

Joe Dipinto 12:23 PM  

My personal fave is No. 7*, with Nos. 5 and 6 tied for second.

*But I hated when they used the second movement in "The King's Speech".


The Top 5 Songs for this week in September 1976, on 77-WABC Radio in NYC:

1. A Fifth of Beethoven - Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band
2. You Should Be Dancing - The Bee Gees
3. (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty - KC & the Sunshine Band
4. Don't Go Breaking My Heart - Elton John & Kiki Dee
5. Play That Funky Music** - Wild Cherry

**Lay down the boogie and write those funky symphonies till you die, white boy.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

I want what @Lewis is smoking!

jae 12:30 PM  

Mostly easy except I had the opposite of the DEED problem. I got the 4d rebus right away and then went looking for a rebus at the end of 70a. Took a little time to realize that a D would do.

Fun puzzle, liked it.

OISK 12:30 PM  

Wrong. To "schlep nachas." uses the word as a verb. Or, do I need to schlep a Yiddish dictionary over to your house?

Shuls 12:31 PM  

Mine too

jberg 12:36 PM  

Hand up for thinking the rebus was just FLAT I figured it apples to the previous square, giving G-G-G flat— but I knew that was wrong. Quite an Aha! When I saw it.

The clue for EMERITA is singular. A woman who is like those other retired profs is EMERITA. @Z the adjective/noun thing is irrelevant, they both decline the same way—although emeritus/a is not a noun in Latin.

In addition to the lone rebus square, there are unpaired theme answers at 65d and 66d. Bug or feature? I like it —the crossword equivalent of “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.”

Joaquin 12:42 PM  

@Bill (11:46) - I suspect you don't know many Jewish women. If you did, you surely would have heard them refer to their "TOTE" bags as "schlep" bags. At least, that's how those of my generation (olds) refer to them.

JD 12:48 PM  

Ok, I accept Slue. An obscure word that means both one thing and its exact opposite.

Elizabeth Sandifer 12:52 PM  

I'm gonna go with "a single rebus square is bad design." Rebuses are fun for the slowly growing knowledge that something is wrong. Throwing a single one in, especially when one of the crosses is a trivia answer like "what are these notes," is just tacky and obscurantist.

bocamp 12:58 PM  

@ David – another fun puz! thx, David! 🎼

"Did he have the Nashville sound? did he? did he?" Thanks for the hilarious vid, Rex. 🎹 🎵

I'm AM in the "mood"! just happened coincidentally to be listening to Glenn Miller's "In the Christmas Mood" album as I was solving. 🎄

Took a course in Esperanto at Walla Walla Community College. First came across it in Holland when my landlord introduced me it to. Such a beautiful language (sounds a bit like Italian, IMO. Here's the first verse of Genesis: En la komenco Dio kreis la ĉielon kaj la teron. L. L. Zamenhof invented Esperanto (one who hopes) in 1873 with the hope that a universal language would foster better communications and relations among the nations of the world, thus obviating the need for wars. "Zamenhof first developed the language in 1873 while still in school. He grew up fascinated by the idea of a world without war. He believed that this could happen with the help of a new international auxiliary language.[2] The language would be a tool to gather people together through neutral, fair, equitable communication.[4] He successfully formed a community that continues today despite the World Wars of the 20th century.[5] Also, it has developed like other languages, through the interaction and creativity of its users.[6]"

BTW, hats off to the Dutch; I believe the language curriculum in their schools has for many years included French, German and English; and, in the case of the family I boarded with, Esperanto.

Time for breakfast; "ĝis poste" 😊

Peace (paco) 🕊

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

I do have relative pitch abilities so with the G in place at 2D, I got 13A's GGGE and thought, "Hmm, I think it's a minor, maybe it's a flat?" Got down to 70A and with the first F thought, "There's my flat" but that's not how it worked. By the time I had gone back to the NW and stared at DEED at 4D, I had long forgotten my original FLAT urge and shrugged and went to I had a few choice words when I saw the flat sign in their grid but when I saw Jim Horn's suggestion for what 4D's clue should have been ("The clue for 4-Down should be, "Like Tom Brady's balls." "), I laughed really hard and suddenly the puzzle was fun. And then I got a second belly laugh with Nancy's "aluminum foil" observation.

Other than the NW, the puzzle was pretty easy, though I found the clues and answers of 64D, 65D and 66D rather annoying.

Over all, I liked it, thanks David Kahn.

Frantic Sloth 1:14 PM  

@Pamela 821am What a lovely memory and description of your solve. Made me smile.😊

@JD (various) tick....tick....tick....12:48pm *sigh* (Dang. I wanted to link an explosion video.)

@Giovanni 857am I love it when you share your solving/learning experiences. It kinda reminds me of myself. Oh...sorry.

@CDilly52 917am Yep. These ridiculous and sloppy editing errors can really dEFLATe one's happy balloon. But, glad you were still able to enjoy - as if that surprises me. 😉

@Roo 945am Much better clue for SHEBAT! 😄

@JC66 946am & 1220pm Are pronunciation and spelling considered the same thing? I'm not being snarky - I'm really asking.

@Everyone asking for Quasi - I've been wondering (and even asked a while ago - alas, with no answer) myself. I just hope he's okay.

@Nancy 954am LOL!!

@Anonymous 1020am Ha ha! And aren't we all the better for it? 😉

@Joe D 1223pm That chart is a priceless echo of today's puzzle - thanks!

@Elizabeth Sandifer 1252pm "tacky and obscurantist" is going into my little book o' stolen quotes. Probably @JD's, too.

Still waiting for @GILL to show up and tell us what's what!

Masked and Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Triple-FFF-D by an EFLAT.

Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary: "Shebat - variant spelling of SHEVAT." Coulda mightaswella then clued SHEBAT as a variant spellin of the Cyndi Lauper hit tune [SHE BOP] … now, *that* woulda been cool.

ERASERHEAD gets a thUmbsUp. Watched that puppy several years ago, at a FriNite Schlock FilmFest with the bro-in-law. One weird flick. Weirder than a she-bat, even.

staff weeject pick: RHO. Fancy, feisty, runtpuz-like Aristotle clue. Wasn't all Greek, to m&e, tho.

Thanx for a puz with both The Circles and a sneaky token rebus, Mr. Kahn. Different, ergo likable. UNPILE? har

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Anonymous 1:18 PM  

While there are mechanical transliteration systems which would always render the letter "ב" in שבט as a "B", phonetically it should be a "V". It would never be pronounced as in this puzzle "SHEBAT". But I was also thrown off as a 30 day month is "full", and a 29 day month is "deficient".

JC66 1:24 PM  


It's been eons since I went to Hebrew school, but, if memory serves, I thing the spelling is different, leading to different pronunciations.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

I have never ever heard of a "school rally" at a high school football game. Maybe in high school, but never in college. College football fans host tailgates. Sheesh

chance2travel 1:37 PM  

How many other people hit 13A and went straight to 62A? That made the SW fall first for me, and guessing the trick on 64D "next to nothing" ONE meant the same trick on 15A was no challenge.

After that, cue the flailing.

I think SCHOOL RALLY should have been clued for High School, not college. And even then I agree it should be a pep rally.

I find scattered circles very distracting during the solve. I'm ok when the circles are grouped together.

I'll never like ILIA

I guess I'll have to count BISTROS and PASTA as my European travel mementos 🙄

albatross shell 1:42 PM  

I am in the very much enjoyed it corner again.
Marvelous theme. Ludwig's third, sixth and ninth. And 8 notes of a wonderful fifth to sip on. Plus a clever rebus.
Freude schoener Goetterfunken.

A movie I enjoy for its sheer audacity and amazingy Kafkaesque atmosphere.
@ChuckD- Definitely not a chick or date flick. She is probably still telling stories about her most Unforgetable date. No matter how hard she tries.

Like Ivan's dogs, I have been trained. Hear the music, the puzzle is over. Forgot: APP allows incomplete inconsistent answers for rebopodes. Note to self: remember dat. InDEED.

ghthree 1:42 PM  

My wife Jane and I both were flummoxed by the isolated rebus. We both realized that the E had to be E flat, but neither of us expected that it read downward as well as Across, and made perfectly good sense.

In many years of solving, I can remember only one other single rebus. The theme was "All roads lead to Rome." If memory serves ROME was in the center, and all paths (including the diagonals!) led to the center.

Deb Amlen reminds us that "You can write more than one letter in a square." I think I'll check her blog and see what she has to say today.

We agree with REX that something like BOW and WED for 62D and 71A would be smoother. Or BON and NED, or BOT and TED, etc.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

*But I hated when they used the second movement in "The King's Speech".

yeah but... it was "Zardoz" that gives me visualization. a cult favorite. hairy James Bond!!

tea73 1:57 PM  

I have a tin ear, but I like music and have dabbled with piano lessons and played the recorder in high school. I knew that it was NOTE, NOTE, NOTE, LOWER NOTE and cottoned onto the rebus. I spent the rest of the puzzle wondering when a note with a sharp would appear, but alas it never happened.

I totally agree pep RALLY is a thing. SCHOOL RALLY is not. My kids thought it was very unfair that they never had pep rallies for the Science Olympiad Team that made it to the State Finals every year my they were on the team.

As an architect, I'm always happy to see OGEE in the puzzle. Hebrew month with or without alternative spellings not so much.

burtonkd 2:44 PM  

@Roo, I'd call it a minor fail (Symphonic work is in C minor, after all)

@pablo - thought about the interchangeable b and v in Spanish - no idea if it applies to Hebrew

@Richard, that is the best cheating example I ever heard.

ditto for the experience of watching the DEED? turn to Deflated after the app accepted the E. I underestimated the puzzle and cursed it for not taking into account the E flat, so it was a nice aha.

@Giovanni, I know you are making a joke, but in German "H" is actually a note - which is B natural for us. "B" is assumed to have a flat. So your H sharp would be C, rather than I:)

As a classical musician, pretty easy.

@Nancy, I'm sure you have some form of relative pitch if you can sing B'way songs. You just need to learn the labels for them. Have you seen those interval guides that use familiar tunes to label intervals? Start "Some-where" over the rainbow on different pitches. If you can do it, you have the octave in your relative pitch bank. Now you just need 11 more to fill in the gaps.

kitshef 2:45 PM  

@Nancy. I used to play guitar. The hardest part for me was tuning it, because you do this thing where you tune each string to be the same note as the next string with your finger on a particular fret. If your target string is too low, you tighten the string. If it is too high, you loosen the string. But I couldn't tell which one is higher.

bocamp 2:45 PM  

Yes, "unpile" may be niche-speak, but it came quickly, as one who was an avid football player and fan.

Fumbles often result in huge piles, from which those at the bottom are praying for speedy disentanglement, LOL. The game officials want to get them "unpiled" ASAP – not so much from a safety perspective – but in order to make the correct call.

Example of "unpile" here and "unpiling" here

"Actually, that’s just typical. It’s why longtime NFL linebacker Ben Leber once said: “In the pile you hear some screams of pain, but you don’t know where it is coming from — unless it’s you.”

Sometimes, no one can hear you scream. Barry Sims, the former 49ers and Raiders offensive lineman, recalled the fear of being trapped underneath an avalanche of humanity.

“What went through my mind was: ‘Oh my god, I’m stuck!’ ” Sims said. “It got me thinking of what it would be like to be trapped in rubble, like after an earthquake. I had to calm myself down and remind myself that everyone would be unpiling in a moment. But, boy, it made me realize that being buried alive would be a scary experience.”


finfodder says:
October 19, 2014 at 6:27 pm

"Another example of incompetence by the officiating and video review. How do you make a statement that there is “no video evidence of a clear fumble recovery” ?? Note to Dean Blandino…it’s the guy with the football after they unpile the players!"

Peace! (and no punching, biting, pinching, scratching or any other nastiness at the bottom of the pile) 🕊

tagmanĝa tempo 😋

Joe Dipinto 2:45 PM  

@Barbara S. 11:22 – The Magritte puzzle you're thinking of was by Andrew Zhou and ran 9/23/2018. The connected letters spelled out the French caption. But David Steinberg had used the same theme for a (much better, imo) Diagramless that ran 4/8/2018.

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

It's SHEP NACHAS, not Shlep

Anonymous 2:50 PM  

Pronunciation and spelling are not the same thing. Pronunciation is how you say a word. Spelling is the letters you use.

Unknown 2:53 PM  

Is it not Von Beethoven??!

Z 2:57 PM  

@jberg 12:36 - Your explanation is much better than mine.

@Frantic Sloth - In the case of trying to recreate the sounds from a different alphabet into English spelling I would say, yes, spelling tries to approximate pronunciation.

@Anon10:42 and @Greater - Wikipedia says Boston annexed Charleston in 1874..

Occasional reminder is that it is almost always the solver‘s thinking, not the clue, that needs to change.

Unknown 3:14 PM  

I have never seen Ludwig von Beethoven spelled as "van" Beethoven. As far as I know, "von" is German while "van" is Dutch. Plainly, the Grey (my joke, get it?) Lady has made an error.

Anonymous 3:33 PM  


I'm going to guess that those lovely South Carolinians weren't told after the War of Northern Aggression. :):)

JD 3:55 PM  

@Frantic, My head silently imploded. I'm still unpiling my feelings.

bocamp 4:02 PM  

@ Unknown 2:53 PM wrote:

Is it not Von Beethoven??!

That was my first thought, too (thinking German: "Von" :: Dutch: "Van".

I've got a jillion Beethoven songs in my Apple music library; you'd think … LOL

Apparently, Beethoven's family hailed from Mechelen in the Flemish Region of Belgium, although Ludwig was born in Bonn,

"Mechelen continues to remember the van Beethovens. On the Haverwerf by the River Dijle, there is a statue of both Lodewijk and Ludwig as a young boy. And the street where Lodewijk lived is now called the Van Beethovenstraat. One of the bridges that crosses the Dijle is also named after van Beethoven. The district of Kampenhout also keeps up the tradition and has installed a bust of Ludwig."

Peace 🕊

Danchall 4:10 PM  

Many Hebrew words have a variety of transliterations when rendered in English. When solving a crossword in English, one approach is to consult an English language dictionary-- and in this case, many of them accept "Shebat." Some call Shebat a variant, so a "var." tag might have been helpful, especially earlier in the week. But not absolutely necessary. Merriam-Webster (Collegiate and Unabridged) are popular and authoritative, and they accept Shebat as a primary spelling. OED online accepts Shebat, but not Shevat. This spelling was not one Mr. Kahn or Mr. Shortz just made up. It's well established.

Unknown 4:21 PM  

A fun puz, with a brilliant rebus.
To those of you whining that there was only *one* rebus on a Thursday, get over it. This was fun!

bocamp 4:47 PM  

Hands up for "pep rally" over "school rally", especially wrt sporting related events. Some of Google's "school rally" hits pertained to other than sporting events. Even so, "pep rally" had far more hits.

I did give "school rally" the side eye at first, but I'll give the benefit of the doubt, as I really liked the theme of the puzzle, and besides, technically, a "pep rally" is a "school rally", after all is said and done. Rah rah, go team. 🏈

Peace 🕊

Nancy 4:54 PM  

Your vote of confidence in my musicality warms me to my quick and thrills me to my core, @burtonkd -- especially since I know you're a professional musician. And yes, you're right about this: whatever note one starts on, I can sing the note an octave below or above every time -- effortlessly. I can also sing the next note in a scale, up or down -- also effortlessly. And even my exceptionally musical brother, who is less than impressed with either the quality of my vocal "instrument" or my untrained "technique", did once tell me that I "hit notes very well." But I'm quite sure I don't have relative pitch, alas.

If you play me a G and ask me to sing an E flat, I can't. (Well, maybe I can now, now that I know it's Beethoven's Fifth.) But if you play me a G and ask me to sing a D or a C or a B flat or whatever, I can't. Nor can I sight-read sheet music to sing. (Though I did study piano and can find all the notes on the piano from sheet music.) All I can tell when you want me to sing something from sight-reading is that the next note goes down or up. I can tell that it goes up a lot or a little. But that's about all I can tell.

After being in my high school chorus, I tried out for Freshman Choir in college. I was handed a piece of classical music and asked to sing it. I just stood there. "I'll help you," said the Senior conducting the audition and played the first note. I sang the first note. And then I just stood there. "I'll help you," said the Senior and played the next note. I sang the next note. And then I just stood there. It simply wasn't going to happen. "Next!!!" said the Senior.

I'm convinced that the reason I didn't get into Freshman Choir is that I can't sight-read. I'm convinced it wasn't any deficiency in my actual singing, though my brother might not be so sure. But thank you anyway, @burtonkd, for your vote of confidence. Maybe if I'd had you as choral instructor I could have learned to sight-read. And maybe not. It would be interesting to know if it can really be taught to someone without relative pitch.

Douglas 5:12 PM  


Photomatte 5:17 PM  

I finished the puzzle fairly quickly but was still surprised when it turned out to be correct. I entered DEED for 4 Down, as my very last square, and didn't know why it was correct until I saw Rex's answers.

Joe Dipinto 5:43 PM  

@Nancy – sightreading and a sense of relative pitch kind of go hand in hand, with singing at least. You need the latter to be able to do the former accurately. I'm sure you could develop it. As burtonkd said, there are "mnemonics" that can be used to memorize the sound of a specific interval.

Rebekah 5:44 PM  

Neocortex is the extra stuff on the outside of the cortex, much of it folded. The more individual consciousness an animal species seems to have (longer-lived, longer childhood, longer memory, more playing--and more inventive playing, and probably also more humorous trick-playing ability, being some of the criteria), the more neocortex a species seems to have, relative to the rest of the brain--at least with mammals (not sure about birds). And BTW most Cetaceans (dolphins and whales) have the most neocortex and neocortical folds--more than humans or other primates, more than elephants.

bocamp 5:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anoa Bob 6:09 PM  

I like BEETHOVEN as much as any of yous but I don't know beans about musical notation, so I had to depend on crosses to get those first eight notes of his Fifth. I guessed GGGE for the first four and the FFFD for the last four seemed to confirm that. When I got the congratulations-for-a-successful-solve message, I was left wondering how DEED related to letting the air out of a balloon.

Oh, a lone multi-letter square. That kind of let the air out of my enthusiasm for this puzzle. In essence this gives us one theme entry with eight letters, GGGDFLAT, while its symmetrically placed theme entry has only four, FFFD. It sure looks like that cramming four letters into one square was done just to get around that huge imbalance. I'm with those who think that was heavy handed and a violation of the basic crossword construction convention that symmetrically placed theme entries have symmetry, that is, they are constructed similarly.

Imagine if this lone multi-letter-square tactic were regularly allowed for any two symmetrical themers with differing letter counts. I shudder to think of it. I'm throwing the flag. Fifteen yards and loss of down.

bocamp 6:13 PM  

@ Joaquin 8:56 AM wrote:

"I always associate SLUE with my dance lessons from the 50s (which I hated!)"

Yup, 1956 was reminiscent of two extremes for me: Don Larsen's perfect game (listened to part of it in the Jr. High caf. on my newly acquired transistor radio) and the dance lessons I was obliged to attend on the weekends (oh, misery, misery).

I don't remember how I finagled my way out of the dance lessons (did the same with my grandma's piano lessons), but I regret not having stuck them out. What I knew, at the time, was that they were seriously getting in the way of my sports activities. What I didn't have (at age 12), was the foresight to see the potential value they both might afford in the future. I suppose it's still a possibility to resume those lessons, tho. LOL

Peace 🕊

Barbara S. 6:15 PM  

@Joe Dipinto 2:45 pm.
I had a look at the completed Diagramless grid from 4/8/2018 -- very clever! But, you know, I've never had the faintest idea how to solve diagramless crosswords. They seem to demand a level of something that I haven't got. On the other hand, I suppose it's a matter of learning the conventions. I remember being utterly flummoxed when I started learning about cryptics. Is there a good tutorial site about diagramless puzzles that you could recommend?

Unknown 6:19 PM  

I just have to point out that “Ren” (as in Kylo Ren) isn’t his last name. It’s a title. I’ll show myself out.

Newboy 6:54 PM  

@Anoa Bob your throwing that flag reminded me of how much I miss my Ducks piling on PAC 12 opponents this fall—almost as much as live music with real audiences! Thank gods great and small that we at least have Crossworld to keep us keeping on. Today’s was grand.

Unknown 6:59 PM  

This puzzle is definitely not a tribute to Beethoven. It is actually an insult. Sprinkling symphony names randomly in answers is the act of a scatterbrain.

Whatsername 7:02 PM  

@JD: I didn’t like Pivot/SLUE either but if you look up the definitions it’s passable.

@Frantic: Your late response did not go unnoticed, I read it this morning, but thanks. I was very late doing the puzzle today so didn’t chime in but for what it’s worth, I agree with everything you said. That seems to be the case more often than not. Great minds and all that. 🤔

Joe Dipinto 7:09 PM  

@Anon 1:52 – never saw "Zardoz" and didn't know it used the 7th. (But unlike "King's Speech", it got terrible reviews on release).

JC66 7:28 PM  

@Barbara S

I'm not great at diagramless puzzles either, but I do know that if the second across clue is 6A, 1A is five letters (etc.).

pabloinnh 7:34 PM  


I have what my singing compatriot Da-Shih refers to as "true pitch", which means if you play a note on a piano I can tell you what it is. If you asked be to produce a B flat, I could come pretty close (so not "perfect pitch). I learned to read music when I was taking piano lessons, and fifty years plus of choral singing and playing guitar and singing with lots of folks, sometimes professionally, (in that I got paid), have certainly not hindered my ability to pick up a piece of music and be able to sing it.

All this is just to say that if you love singing as much as I do, which I think you probably do, don't let your inability to sight read stand in the way. I think you know more than you do, but just don't know what to call it. "Here comes the bride" starts on a FOURTH, for instance. The right kind of choral director will teach you this kind of thing. It's very handy.

Anyway, sing your heart out. It's still the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Joe Dipinto 8:18 PM  

@Barbara – don't know of any tutorial sites for Diagramless-solving. I think I just decided to try it once, and I was able to figure out how it worked. It follows the same numbering conventions as a regular crossword, and the numbering is the main thing that helps you figure out the diagram, via process of deduction.

Typically there's a theme, but the fill is relatively easy. The Times tells you where to put the first square (on a separate page, so if you don't want to know you don't have to look – I kind of prefer not to).

There should be one coming up soon, I think, on the Variety page. Give it a shot! Mostly they have regular symmetry, unless the constructor is trying to draw a picture of something, as in Steinberg's case.

bocamp 8:24 PM  

The "Shebat" / "Shevat"
debate is interesting in more ways than one. Having almost zero knowledge on the subject, I can only go by what the research shows (that is the Google results and sites that the links point to). One has to bear in mind that this information doesn't necessarily reflect usage in common speech. Nevertheless, a Google search results in 448,000 hits for "Shebat" (approx. 1/2 of the results for "Shevat"), which lends credence to its validity as a viable candidate for the puzzle.

It's interesting that Wikipedia seems to pretty much ignore "Shebat" entirely (in fact if one searches for "Shebat" it automatically redirects to the page for "Shevat", where "Shebat" is not even mentioned as a variant. In fact, the only mentions of "Shebat" are: ""Shebat" redirects here. For the village in Iran, see Shebat, Iran." and ""Shebat" (Arabic: ﺷﺒﺎﻂ‎) and Şubat [ʃuˈbat] is the name for the month of February in Arabic and Turkish."

OTOH, Webster is almost the opposite of Wikipedia. In the first paragraph above, the two links point to Webster's definitions of the two words. It clearly favors "Shebat" and relegates "Shevat" to "variant" status. Actually, in its definition of "Shebat", "Shevat" is not even mentioned as a "variant." One has to search for "Shevat" to see it classified as a "variant." Other dictionaries favor one or the other, but usually mention both as acceptable.

All of this is food for thought: 1) Given the large number of examples that validate both of these words as being acceptable, does it really make sense for one to suggest that the NYT crossword is "wrong" to include "Shebat" in its puzzle? 2) Does anyone doubt the credentials of Mr. Shortz and his resource team to "basically get it right" at least a very high percentage of the time? Have they ever been flat-out wrong? Yes, and I think Will would be the first to admit that, if and when it happens. 3) Do the media always get it right? No, and that's why we need to dig deeper to arrive at the best possible answers to our questions and concerns. 4) Let's be open-minded, fair, excited to learn about others, and celebrate our differences, even in small things like "word variations." 🤔 😊

Peace 🕊

TTrimble 9:10 PM  

For heaven's sake --

Please consider double-checking before deciding to pontificate on stuff --

Despite the fact he was born in Bonn and so forth and so on, it's unequivocally Ludwig van Beethoven.

That's all I wanted to say. Please, as you were.

@Frantic Sloth
Yeah, I've been really busy. Kicking back with a few choice Ron Howard movies might actually be a welcome respite from it all. Steve Guttenberg from Cocoon harkens back to a simpler, goofier time.

Z 9:23 PM  

@Anon 3:33 - Ouch. Double D’Oh Slap here. First for the spelling error and the second for the many nano-seconds wasted wondering what you were going on about ... until the light flickered on. 😂😂

@bocamp - Nice summary. The issue of transliteration gets raised seemingly every time a transliterated word appears in the puzzle. The discussion always seems to follow the general outline of today’s, that is some people post that there is one right answer and the puzzle is wrong while others point out that what’s in the puzzle is perfectly defensible. From a constructor’s perspective transliterated words seem to offer some flexibility, which means solvers have to exercise some flexibility as well.

McKay Hinckley 11:09 PM  

I was pleased to see the rebus for E Flat. I got the GGGE but was endlessly annoyed by the fact that it should be flat and that it appears NYTX is content to leave out the flat. I realized the rebus and couldn’t have been more pleased that I didn’t have to live with the wrong notes. Maybe that’s just being a snob about it, I don’t know 😜

bocamp 11:49 PM  

@ Z 9:23 PM – Well put! concise, cogent and in an uncrackable nutshell. 🌰

Peace 🕊

Scrumpythegreat 12:18 AM  


bocamp 12:52 AM  

***SB Alert***

Just had the most amazing finish to today's SB. I was really struggling, needing more than 40 points to QB and stuck, stuck, stuck (like the kid in "A Christmas Story", I wasn't going anywhere). So, I went to the kitchen to grab an apple (putting my AirPods in to listen to my audiobook). I came back to give the SB one more try before heading off to bed. Normally, I would take the AirPods out in order to concentrate on the SB, but the thought came to leave them in and continue listening to the audiobook while working on the SB (seemed counterintuitive, but what could I lose?). Just like that, all the words I needed to reach my goal started coming. I was done in just a few minutes. Go figure. LOL

Peace and sleep tight 🕊 😴

wrollinson 4:20 PM  

Sax-oh-moh-phone... Sax-oh-moh-phone...

rondo 10:09 AM  

Notes and circles and EIN, UNO, ONE rebus, oh my. What a bunch of junk tossed together. At least I was not fooled by the EFLAT; how could anyone let it go thinking it was DEED? PENNY for your thoughts, or maybe PENNY PASTA. Har.

rondo 10:49 AM  

Forgot to mention a couple dozen threes. YUK.

thefogman 11:07 AM  

Enjoyed this one. The EFLAT gave me an Aha! moment after I solved it and I thought there would be more rebuses (rebi?) across the grid. Alas, no. Still very solid and fun, although I am sure it wasn't so much for anyone who got stumped by the solitary rebus...


Burma Shave 11:34 AM  


To TAP INFO professorial, and be TAUT SPANISH speakin’,


Diana, LIW 12:42 PM  

I like BEETHOVEN as well as the next person, and had his corner covered, along with the trope. But when one puts in 8 (count 'em 8) incorrect answers in one's first puzzle go-round, stuff gets dicey. (You might want to take note of that for your future solving efforts.) After cheat/checking those answers, all else fell into place. I believe this is similar to "hindsight."

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana, LIW 12:43 PM  

Oh dear. Now I see there is a rebus - and it makes the one nonsensical answer make sense. Oh dear. Dear me.

Lady Di

leftcoaster 3:07 PM  

Love the thematic BEETHOVEN Symphonies, but the great Fifth was inFLATED then DEFLATED by the GGG EFLAT. Spoiled the MOOD, at least for me. FFFD was a gratuitous irritant.

Unknown 3:35 PM  

It is. VAN is Dutch. VON ist Deutsch.

hmj 5:58 PM  

I never associated loving to work crossword puzzles with being a Beethoven freak.

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