Woodchuck of the western U.S. / THU 12-31-20 / vivre ability to live elegantly / James Merritt pioneer in American lithography

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Easy (untimed) (didn't struggle anywhere)

THEME: SMALL BUSINESSES (7D: Local economy makeup ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) — a rebus puzzle with different "business" abbrevs. made "small" (i.e. shoved into a single box):

Theme answers:
  • MARGIN CALL / TRAIN CAR (19A: Broker's request for funds / 4D: Diner or sleeper)
  • BITCOIN / EMOTICONS (26A: Digital currency / 8D: Faces of the digital age?)
  • MELTDOWN / WALT DISNEY (38A: Epic collapse / 31D: Winner of a record 26 Oscars)
  • SPELLCHECK / HELLCATS (46A: Highlighter of this clue? / 40D: Violently temperamental sorts)
Word of the Day: MARMOT (38D: Woodchuck of the western U.S.) —
any of a genus (Marmota) of stout-bodied short-legged chiefly herbivorous burrowing rodents of the squirrel family that have coarse fur, a short bushy tail, and very small ears and that hibernate during the winter (merriam-webster.com)
• • •

As with yesterday's puzzle, I can't complain about the concept too much. This is standard NYTXW rebus fare: a rebus puzzle cued by a punny revealer that contains "small" or "little" or else "boxes" or something. Here, very literal: types of businesses (specifically, the abbrevs. that might follow a company name) are made "small" and put into individual boxes. Honey, I shrunk the companies. And there it is. Pretty plain, as rebuses go. Of course, if you've never seen a rebus before, this isn't going to seem plain at all, but trust me, this is about as plain as a rebus gets. For me, the theme was dreary, because in general, all things bizness and biznessssspeak make me want to leave the room. Drains the life out of, well, everything. Maybe if our economic system were more fair and transparent, my feelings about the wonderful world of modern business would be different. But nothing is more boring to me than news about BITCOIN BARONs or whatever. And these abbrevs—are you ever excited to see INC in your puzzle? LLC? It's the slag heap of crosswordese showing up at your house trying to get you to come out and play some rebus games. No thanks. And then the puzzle got it in its head that I might enjoy *bonus* theme material like BARON DIP POOLED NESTEGGS. . . SIGH. This is a topic I care about not at all. As I say, conceptually, it works ... well, mostly. It's a little ugly to have the rebus squares be actually business-related at first (MARGIN CALL, BITCOIN), but then not so much (MELTDOWN) and then not at all (SPELLCHECK). Feels like the puzzle went off the rails. Fizzled out. Also, the rebus elements, besides being a mass of dullness, also involve repetition, which is normally (as I've said recently) a huge no-no. This is what the abbrevs. stand for:
INC = Incorporated
CO = Company
LTD = Limited (UK)
LLC = Limited Liability Company :( 
First of all, "Company" is so generic that it doesn't really go with the others. The others are all abbrevs. that follow a comma in a company name, whereas CO. ... does not do that. And it's just two letters. *And* as you can see it's duped in LLC, i.e. the "C" there stands for "company." Notice that the "Limited" of LLC is also a dupe (of LTD, which stands for "limited"). There's not enough variety, and not nearly enough joy, to make this kind of thing fun. 

I liked WALT DISNEY, in that I was able to get it off the rebus square alone, without looking at the clue. It's a solid answer, too, but I just like when my brain groks the pattern quick like that. I don't actually care too much for the Disney corporation or the man himself. Here, I'll let his niece, Abigail Disney, talk about him (from The Hollywood Reporter, Jan. 25, 2014) (she's responding to the fact that Meryl Streep had said some unfavorable things about her uncle):

I also like the WINGED IT / ART SCENE section, i.e. the SE. Very lively and interesting. Except SPUME. SPUME is one of those words that I would be happy never to see again. Big "moist" energy on SPUME. The fill overall on this one seemed quite solid, with short junk appearing only rarely. Probably wouldn't have clued ELS and DEE both as letters. DEE is a name, ELS are urban transport, mix it up. No idea who EMILIA is, but the puzzle's so easy that it hardly mattered (15A: Actress Clarke of "Game of Thrones"). Just needed enough crosses to make a plausible woman's name; only issue was whether she was gonna be an EMILIA or an AMELIA. I briefly got SUVA confused with APIA (another South Pacific capital), which created a mild delay in the south (49A: Capital of Fiji). Other than that, the only bit that slowed me down at all was at the very beginning, when I wrote in PCT at 1A: N.B.A. stat (PPG, which stands for "points per game"). Knew the next two short Acrosses in that section cold, and so had CLE- at the beginning of 2D: District attorney's offering, maybe (PLEA DEAL), and so I thought, "ooh, CLEMENCY, that's a cool word." And it is. It was just wrong.

Have a happy New Year's Eve (even if that means you're out by 10pm)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:46 AM  

Not easy here, not hardly. Instead of MARG[INC]ALL I had MAR[gin]cALL. That crossed GRUB at the rebus square, so "Okay; it's the rebus going across and just the first letter on the down side." That was confirmed by TR[ain]cAR right next door, crossing at the c. Didn't have a clue for a rootless, leafless plant starting with ain at 17A, but that's okay; all will become clear ... NOT.

Got SMALL BUSINESSES and wondered what country had businesses called "gin" and "ain", but what do I know? Looking for single letters in the downs made the remaining three rebi hard to see. I would have done fine if I'd started anywhere but the NW.

Anonymous 6:50 AM  

Not a big fan of rebus puzzles to begin with. Add Bitcoin, Pooled assets, Nest Eggs,and Baron (really, do we need that reminder right now?)and you have something way too focused on money. Happy New Year.

Lewis 6:58 AM  

The play on “small” made for a clever theme, and the solve gave me some good fight in places, and that fight is one of the great pleasures of crosswords for me, and so thank you for that, David, and congratulations on your 187th NYT puzzle!

I was left thinking about SMALL BUSINESSES, for a moment happy that they got this little flash of glory, headlining the Times crossword, but then mourning how hard they’ve been hit in 2020. I beg of you all, buy local and support local whenever you can, and may this new year fuel their revival!

And may this coming year, overall, be remembered as the year the corner turned. May that “Happy New Year!” we recite tonight turn out to be an actual description of 2021!

JerryH 7:03 AM  

Funny line about bitcoin on CNBC. behind every Bitcoin hides a man in a fedora carrying a stilleto. (It’s the currency of the underground.)

bocamp 7:19 AM  

Thank you @David for this excellent Thurs. puz. No "meltdown" here! :)

Medium+, as it took a long time to grok the theme and rebuses; very quick after that.

"Isa Lei (Fijian song of Farewell) - The Seekers

"Isa lei, na noqu rarawa
Ni ko sa na vodo e na mataka
Bau nanuma, na nodatou lasa
Mai "Suva" nanuma tiko ga."

Peace πŸ•Š

kitshef 7:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
pabloinnh 7:27 AM  

SMALLBUISNESSES went in off the S and Easy Street lay ahead of me, alas, not to be. As in many of these four-corner grids a couple of them were easy, especially the SE, where I got going. My only quibble was getting the rebus and thinking, hey- an LLD is not a small business, and the same with a CO, and so on. Of course they had to be miniaturized to fit in the boxes, and it finally made sense.

I agree with OFL that certain subjects, like business, should be absolutely off limits for puzzles. In fact, I think all puzzles should be about baseball or folk music, or possible 20th Century American Literature. Or Spanish art. That should about do it.

Thanks for a fun Thursday, DJK. Chewy enough to be interesting.

Adios, 2020. Who shall mourn thy passing?

ChuckD 7:41 AM  

Decent puzzle - theme not overly exciting but I liked the two-way rebus. So many black squares in the grid - made the overall solve a little clunky. A little disconnect between SMALL BUSINESS and big business entries like BITCOIN, MARGIN CALL and especially media giant WALT DISNEY. SE corner was toughest for me. Liked the clue for IAMB and ART SCENE is solid.

Enjoyable solve for the most part - Happy New Year everyone.

kitshef 7:55 AM  

Was really looking forward to this puzzle – a Thursday on New Year’s Eve ought be something special. Instead, it was … 2020ish.

Some particularly bad cluing today. EMILIA will be known by, like 0.2% of people, so you can’t cross it with that terrible ELS clue (go with Chicago mass transit or Ernie), nor that weak clue for NITES. Clue is for SIGH is really, really bad, too.

Then there is the clue for MARMOT. Groundhogs are a type of MARMOT, but MARMOTs are not types of groundhogs. It’s like cling “middle finger” as “longest thumb on the human hand”.

Loren Muse Smith 7:56 AM  

Rex – hafta agree with you on the boringness of all things business. But heck, I have a couple of kick-ass cousins who’d disagree. I guess we all have our thing we like to talk about that has the hapless listener glancing around the room for a better dance partner.

Me: Oh. My. God. Were you really asleep in the car when I was listening to that linguistics podcast? John McWhorter? Columbia professor? Talking about how some speakers are adding schwas to the ends of their words-uh? Did you catch any of that?
Daughter: Mmmmm. [Reading Edgar Sawtelle]
Me: So did you hear that girl on the news doing-uh just-uh that-uh???!!!
Daughter: I think I’ll take a shower.

My one nit is that I wish the CO had spanned two words like all the other abbreviations. Maybe GARLIC OIL crossing SPEC OPS. Nah. Spec ops is awful.

“Joie de” has the same number of letters as SAVOIR. But the clue did say “ability to live elegantly” – nothing about enjoying it. People with SAVIOR vivre watch PBS while sipping Harney and Sons tea. People with joie de vivre watch Bachelor in Paradise while eating Ben & Jerry’s right out of the container.

Liked that SPELL CHECK crosses EDIT. Hah.

The clue for 17A is magnificently ambiguous. I love ambiguity more than most people.

SPUME is not related to spew. Wonder if that initial SP could be a skosh onomatopoetic? Spit, spray, spew, spume, spurt, splash, spritz – all involve the release of some liquid that you don’t want any part of, right? (Last year, I happened to be standing behind a grumpy 9th-grade boy holding my Windex. His bare nape was beckoning me, so I ever-so-slightly spritzed the Windex at his neck as I faked a sneeze. Perfection – just a few of the tiniest droplets of Windex found their target, and the way he whipped around, horrified, made it all worth it. This was obviously pre-Covid when life was a hoot.)

IAMB. That’s one butt-ugly word. Given the news that Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island passed, I will remind you all that many of Emily Dickenson’s poems can be sung to the tune of Gilligan’s Island because of the iambic tetrameter/trimeter couplets. Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me . . . or I measure every Grief I meet with narrow, probing eyes. . . I’ll wait while you whisper sing the lines.

Thanks so much for all the gmail advice yesterday! I'm on it.

Happy NYE, everyone. Stay safe and keep those spume holes covered.

David Fabish 8:02 AM  

I enjoyed this one. A bit too easy for a Friday, but a good theme, well executed. And unlike Rex, I'm not bothered by the fact that some themes won't be interesting to me. It's the solving that counts, and by that standard, this one works.

@kitshef, Game of Thrones was one of the biggest shows of the last decade, so Emilia Clarke is pretty well known. I've never watch a single episode of GoT, and I know who she is.

The capital of Apulia (41A), on the other hand... :)

Guilherme Gama 8:03 AM  

Funny thing about SPUME: in Portuguese, my first language, it has a direct cognate in "espuma/espumar", but, as I didn't know the word in English, I resisted filling it in until I had absolutely no other choice. One learns to be wary of such coincidences.

SouthsideJohnny 8:09 AM  

SAVOIR crossing OVO - so now we have foreign word Naticks ? I guess it’s a fitting way to end 2020 - everything else has gone to hell in a hand basket :-(

Razor-sharp seems like a bit of a stretch as a clue for “keen” but is probably within the margin of error (the same can be said for “big roll” v.v. ELEVEN).

Enjoyed Rex’s little SPUME about the evils of our economic system - you have to give the guy credit, he digs deep basically on a daily basis in order to find something to feign indigence about.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

Don't be such a woke dope: Universities are businesses. They're actually pretty repulsive ones these days, having increased in cost (i.e. price) far faster than inflation for 30+ years, with no discernable improvement in their ability to educate students or to improve their critical thinking (you can look it up). It's possible that improved online learning, accelerated by what we're learning during these CoVID lockdowns will help replace institutions of 'higher education', and even the union-dominated public K-12 systems which are equally corrupt. I have my fingers crossed.
Have a nice day.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

ible. Discernible. I didn't learn that at University.

John H 8:32 AM  

The "C" in "LLC" stands for "corporation," not "company," so one of Rex's gripes is just wrong.

Stimpson J Cat 8:33 AM  

It bothered me that none of this had anything to do with SMALL businesses (except possibly LLC).

webwinger 8:39 AM  

This was a Thursday gem! A tad on the easy side, but in no way disappointing. I got the gimmick about half-way through as I filled in the revealer and almost simultaneously saw the rebus at CO—yay Colorado! (Had strongly suspected rebus but for too long didn’t see exactly where.) This led to the rest of the solve going much more quickly, with finish in about 5 minutes under Thursday mean.

Very elegant grid structure—I didn’t notice the perfect symmetry until after completion. The conceit didn’t seem entirely novel but was clever enough. The 3 3-letter rebuses were beautifully embedded in both across and down answers. Fill and clueing mainly at the OK level: Both best (TEN) and worst (DEE and IN E) oddly bunched in the tiny SE corner.

Thank you David Kahn! A fine way to see out this wretched year...

We’ll be celebrating tonight without the in-person help of fellow revelers in Ohio, where we’ve gone for the holiday in nearly every one of the past 50 years. Attempting to duplicate on a small scale the traditional lavish food spread. Small bonus: We'll watch the NYC ball drop at 10 pm Mountain Time and then be able to turn in. Look forward to joining our friends on NYD via Zoom for the ritual group reading aloud of Dave Barry’s Year in Review—haven’t looked at this one yet, but for as long as I can remember it’s been the most fabulous and hilarious way to put the departing aΓ±o in perspective. Don't miss it if you can!

The Skipper 8:41 AM  

The Gilligan's Island tune also works well with Amazing Grace...sample it:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see....was blind but now I see.

Loren Muse Smith 8:52 AM  

*Dickinson. Oops.

Joe 8:57 AM  

My oldest son has a friend from high school and college. The friend use to work at Google. (Strike One) He invested heavily in Bitcoin. (Strike Two) He left Google and now works for Jack Dorsey, and takes all his pay in Bitcoins. (Strike Three...yer out!) Don’t you just hate it when someone else becomes a multimillionaire? Everything should be free. Then we can all live squalor.

Lewis 9:00 AM  

I'd like to point out that this was a skilled puzzle construction, with those symmetrical rebus boxes, combined with having every across rebus answer cross SMALL BUSINESSES. DJK. is a pro.

Mr. Cheese 9:03 AM  

Happy NewYear to all,
Soon enough the rust-colored menace will be gone!

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

CO is used in company names like the others. So another one of Rex’s gripes is wrong.

Taxman 9:12 AM  

The IRS says:

Limited Liability Company (LLC) | Internal Revenue Service
www.irs.gov › small-businesses-self-employed › limited...
Sep 19, 2020 — A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business structure allowed by state statute. Each state may use different regulations,

Z 9:16 AM  

From Diary of a Crossword Fiend:

Constructor Bruce Venzke conveyed some sad news:

“It’s with a very heavy heart that I inform everyone in the crossword community that we have lost a most remarkable figure in puzzle construction with the passing of Gail Grabowski on Christmas eve in Peru, Illinois. Her husband Gary was with her, and the end of her battle for life was peaceful.

I was immensely privileged to have collaborated with her on over 175 puzzles over the past 10 years, most in the Los Angeles Times and The Crosswords Club. But Gail was an indefatigable constructor, and also had many hundreds of solo puzzles in Newsday, USA Today, CrosSynergy, and several other markets. She did all the cluing on our collaborations, and her fine work made her a particular favorite with the L.A. Times Crossword Corner bloggers.

She will be sorely missed by editors, collaborators, and solvers alike.”

OffTheGrid 9:18 AM  

This was fun and fought back. What else do I need?

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

@Loren, It is good to have you back! Your point today is so "pointed" and so effective and relatable. Thank you.

ChuckD 9:23 AM  

@Lewis - yes. I think most of us who critique sometime lose sight of the skill and craft required to construct these puzzles. As I was solving earlier - I was astounded at the technical chops of the layout.

Mercer B. 9:23 AM  

Hi there, I quite liked the puzzle. And I think more than 0.2% of people will recognize Emilia Clarke - Game of Thrones is very very popular :)

Can someone please explain to me how "big roll" = ELEVEN? I thought it'd make sense after finishing the puzzle, but that clue still eludes me.

Thanks and happy New Year!

Keith 9:31 AM  

Got tied up in the SW, where I confidently put in WILLIAMS (as in John) for most Oscar wins, based on the initial W. Took me forever to figure out my mistake. Interestingly, Williams has the record for most Oscar *losses*, with 52 noms and only 5 wins.

Nancy 9:32 AM  

Of course I loved it! Did you really expect a different reaction?

DJK did us a favor, I feel, by putting the INC rebus first, since it's the most familiar to most of us. As soon as I saw it (picked up on TRAIN CAR before I saw MARGIN CALL), I wondered: Will they all be INCs or will some of them be things like LTD?

You can't say I'm not always thinking ahead.

And there LTD was at WALT DISNEY -- clued with a wonderful clue that initially baffled me. GWTW didn't win 26 Oscars, did it, I wondered? And MELTDOWN is also terrific.

BITCOIN was such an easy answer that I wasn't fooled by the 2-letter CO when everything else was 3-letters. But I could have been.

As rebuses go, I found this one somewhat on the easy side. But enormously well-crafted and very entertaining as well. Nice one, David!

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

It's Thursday

Unknown 9:41 AM  

@webwinger - thanks for the Davw Barry link. Good stuff.

Bearasgar 9:44 AM  

Bless small businesses. Mine has employed 2.5 people for 27 years. So Rex, keep your snarky distain to yourself. We can't all teach teenagers about comic books.

Richard H. 9:46 AM  

Actually, it is company.

Bearasgar 9:49 AM  

Not one "atta-they" to all the struggling small business people. Let me be the first. Mine has employed 2.5 people for 27 years so, Rex, your distain falls a little flat. We can't all teach teens about comic books

Mercer B. 9:49 AM  

Just realized that ELEVEN is a big *dice* roll, given that the highest dice roll is 12...phew!

Joe Welling 9:50 AM  

Anonymous Stimpson J Cat said...
"It bothered me that none of this had anything to do with SMALL businesses (except possibly LLC)."

They're SMALL because they each fit into a single box on the grid.

It's the same way other puzzles have used a revealer phrase with a word like "compressed," "chopped," "split," "boxed," etc. The familiar term is repurposed to refer to something literal about how the theme answers fall in the grid.

JamieP 9:56 AM  

@LMS My seventh grade English teacher used to have us sing Dickinson to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas." "It was not Death for I stood up / And all the Dead lie down..." Despite her, I became an English teacher. Rule #1: we're not doing that. Rule #2: we are never diagramming sentences. I know little about money (see above), so this puzzle was a bit ho-hum in that regard, although I did admire the construction of the rebuses themselves.

Ann Howell 9:57 AM  

I generally hate rebuses, so I was never going to like this one... and there wasn't much to get excited about. My only chuckle for the day was hearing 25A spoken as Arnie does in the original Total Recall when he is describing his dream woman ("brunette, athletic, sleazy and demure").

Nancy 9:57 AM  

What a wonderfully droll rejoinder to Rex, @pabloinnh (7:27). My list of "acceptable" puzzle subjects would be a little different from yours: musical theater; tennis; cute affectionate animals; Central Park; all Nature that's not Central Park; and Agatha Christie. I'd definitely retain your folk music, though, even as I was deep-sixing baseball.

mathgent 10:02 AM  

I'm disappointed that so few of you enjoyed it. @webwinger (8:39 called it a gem and that's exactly what it is.

It was crunchy without using obscure words. Smart cluing throughout like "A one-hit Wonder he's not" for STEVIE.

The theme SMALLBUSINESSES crossed by all four of the rebus words. The rebus squares placed symmetrically.

Ultra sparkly with 19 red plus signs in the margins.

SAVOIR-vivre. I take that to mean knowing how to live. What a great thing to say about someone.

David J. Kahn never fails to turn out solid crosswords but today he was brilliant.

Frantic Sloth 10:09 AM  

Did someone say MELTDOWN??

Knew this was a "faux rebus"(frebus?) when semi-obvious answers didn't fit - always the dead giveaway. The fact that they were of varied sizes and correctly (IMO) spanned both words (where appropriate) offered an ounce of respectability and a dab of enjoyment. High praise.

I didn't love this while solving, but can't swear that it was the puzzle's fault. Wavelength and day placement were largely to blame. I found it difficult and potentially Naticky at several turns more befitting a Fridee or Saturdee. But, once I realized I was gonna have to work for it, I was able to settle in and eventually appreciate it.

Theme? I'm not a fan of the revealer showing up anywhere else but the end, but if it had to be in the big fat middle of the grid, at least it was a down and a spanner.
The theme itself was meh. Initialisms for types of businesses? That's a party in a utility closet. Sure, it's a party, but it's in a utility closet.

The NE was the last to fall, and with only EMOTICONS and NITES as my toehold(s), I set my sights on the 3 letter 15D. Based on my experience with the rest of the puzzle and noting that question mark, I thought "What could be the most obnoxious answer to 'Legal limits?'?" ELS was a no-brainer, in more ways than one.

SIRI immediately came to mind with "Modern know-it-all", because I can think stupid with the best of 'em, and I ended up liking it. Grudgingly.
Also liked the "One-hit Wonder he's not" clue for STEVIE, with the capital "W" grabbing my nose with a "honk-honk" of clarity.

Why do I have a feeling that Rex is going to hate it? (I should note I usually guess wrong! Go know.)

***Poker-playing Dogs Alert***

There's a new game in town, children - GINRUMMY MARMOTs! They'll steal your BITCOIN, eat your NESTEGG, and SPUME a LITER of GRUB on your FUTONS. Never should have let them outta that utility closet...


JD 10:11 AM  

In this pinwheel puzzle, that NE corner was out of my pinwheel house. I don't know that much about basketball, at all about that Rapper and that actor. I know Algae but not Alga. Never played Gin Rummy. Don't know battery slogans. I know that Popeye said, "Iamb what Iamb," and I should've known the whole foot thing but at that point I was under duress and feeling defeated, constrained by my own ignorance. Basically, those squares to the left of Small had me stymied. Chagrined.

@Bocamp, I looked up verse. Is it the The Farewell song? I hope that's your farewell to the year, and not to the blog. I enjoy your posts.

@pabloinhhh, Had the same thought on small business.

Eldreth 10:13 AM  

when rolling dice eleven is the second highest possible roll

Teedmn 10:14 AM  

INC, CO, LLC, LTD. This was a fun little number from Mr. Kahn but that last quadrant, everything below the W of WORSENS in the SW, took a full one third of my time today.

PARISH was the only gimme down there. I had ARMANI and took it out and then put it in again. Even after I took out the A of OVa, I couldn't think of MELTDOWN. Not knowing my comics publishers, I thought 36D might be DC [CO]MICS though I FROWNed at the CO theme duplication. The MARMOT came to my rescue, though with WA____SN_ in place at 31D, I still spent some time trying to fit ed asNEr in there.

Rex, your "moist energy" comment made me SPUME. Har!

Thanks, David Kahn. I happen to work in the BUSINESS world, and it's not so bad, so I can appreciate these rebopodes!

Dufus K McDufusface 10:15 AM  

My reading skills are limited, so could someone here please point out, in third grade vocabulary and sentence structure, where @Rex said they should ban "Companies" themed puzzles? I see where he said he didn't find "Companies" intrinsically interesting, but banning? I see where he said "LLC" and "INC" are intrinsically bad fill, and highlighting them as part of your theme didn't make his tail wag, but that's not banning. It's kind of pointing out a truism.

Birchbark 10:16 AM  

Some MARGIN CALLS lead to PLEA DEALs. Empires collapse, and years come to an end.

@LMS (7:56) -- I like much of what you write, especially VIS A VIS language. Today it is a caricature, "people with SAVOIR vivre watch PBS while sipping Harney and Sons tea." The right television channel + the right tea = ART SCENE. Dwight MacDonald used the term "Midcult" to describe mass culture cloaked in the trappings of high culture ("Against the American Grain, 1962), a form of consumerism. The New Yorker Magazine was his prime example, even though he contributed to it.

If you go looking for SAVOIR vivre, odds are you'll scare it away. Sit under a tree for a long time, do your chores, and let it come to you.

schmuzz 10:16 AM  

Thank you, Z, for telling us about Gail Grabowski.
The news makes me sad.

Now if anyone knows what happened to Bob Klahn....

Eldreth 10:18 AM  

eleven is the second highest possible dice roll

2021 10:23 AM  

Hey, 2020! Here's your hat, what's your hurry? And don't let the door hit you in the ass in the way out.

TTrimble 10:25 AM  

Decent rebus puzzle. My own take on SMALL BUSINESSES as a revealer is not that CO, LTD, etc. necessarily connote a small business, but that you have to make the letters small to fit as a rebus inside the square.

The puzzle seemed pretty easy and straightforward, much easier than it must have been to construct. Indeed, the construction looks pretty tight, and without much dross. Nice 15-letter revealer straight down the middle, the rebuses symmetrically placed about the central square (called "odd symmetry" in my BUSINESS as a math teacher), and in both directions, and (with one small exception in BITCOIN) straddling the two words, which from past occasions seems to be one of Rex's desiderata -- arguably a fussy and somewhat arbitrary one. Pretty impressive.

Things to look up: REN (not Kylo this time), ALI (who? sorry, not ringing a bell). I'm sorry for those who feel Naticked by foreign languages, but tbh, how many three-letter words fit in "ab ___"? OVO is a bit of standard crossword fare that you ought to have tucked away; it's not uncommon in the puzzle world. And that of course ruled out "joie de". SAVOIR is a nice word, one that you can savor. Related to the word "sapiens" as in "homo sapiens", and also to the word "savant". You can probably think of a few more yourself.

A nice way to start the day. I just hope today's commentary is better than yesterday's, which was brutal and dispiriting. (So far, not too bad.) Thanks to @LMS for pointing out James McWhorter.

*** SB Alert ***
Another big list. The longest in the bunch made me laugh out loud. I thought, "no, he wouldn't, would he? Naw... well, let's just quickly check to be sure." But of course he would! What was I thinking?

I don't know what y'all thought, but yesterday's was tough. @Barbara S.? @bocamp? What say you?

Unknown 10:33 AM  

re: MCREN, "Together with N.W.A., Patterson [M.C. Ren] popularized the sub-genre of the Gangsta rap and West Coast Hip Hop, while also being credited by many as one of the seminal groups in the history of hip hop music. He also endured controversy due to his music's explicit lyrics that many viewed as being disrespectful of women, as well as its glorification of drugs and crime." Yet rex gives him a total pass.

Speaking of rex, another typical round of negativity from YFL: "dreary," "ugly," and "dullness." He's the train wreck i can't stop watching.

pmdm 10:34 AM  

Given that the NW and SE corners are segmented off pretty good, it felt to me like I had to solve multiple puzzles today. The clues tended to turn me off a bit because many of them dealt with PPP unfamiliar to me. And while I'm fairly up on classical music, I hardly know the keys of all of Haydn's 100+ symphonies. Were it not for getting SMALL BUSINESSES and TRAIN CAR early on, I'm not sure I would have kept plugging.

Let us hope it will be a happy new year and let's hope herd immunity will arrive sooner than later. Let's hope there will be very few messages like the one Z posted above this coming year. Best wishes.

jae 10:35 AM  

Easy-medium. I went through a couple of iterations on the rebus before I filled in the reveal and grokked what was going on, hence the medium part.

Fun with several fine long answers, liked it.

RooMonster 10:36 AM  

Hey All !
Dang, sad to hear about Gail Grabowski. May she rest peacefully, and look down upon us as we struggle doing crosswords!

Speaking of struggling, Rex cracked me up at his Relative Difficulty rating of "Easy (untimed)(didn't struggle anywhere.)" Dang, I struggled Everywhere! Just tough figuring out each section.

Did manage to get the whole puz done, but ... (wait for it) ... one-letter DNF! Har! Gotta sneak one last one in on the final day of the year! SPaME/SaVA. Threw in that A not double checking SPUME, and thought SaVA sounded good. Now that I think about it, wasn't there a Survivor season on SUVA?

Fun rebus, had the three three-ers, and was trying to come up with a fourth three-er, even had BITCOIN written out on a piece of paper, looking for a three-letter run for a BUSINESS! Good stuff. Unrelated, but still relted, I spelled BUSINESS as BUISNESS first, as I Always do. I did at one point in my life pronounce it as BUSY-NESS to get the spelling straight, but the ole brin decided to sweep that to the curb, apparently.

Anyway, thanks 2020 for taking away another great person in Gail. Please get the hell out of here!

One F

bigsteve46 10:47 AM  

Lovely puzzle - tough enough for me, as I was slow in getting the "catch." But that's par for my course these days.

Let's all hope that Rex never has to venture out into the cruel, real world to earn a living - although I suspect he is a pretty good teacher.

Happy New Year to all! I am trying to figure where I come in on the covid inoculation conga line: I am 74 with a 75th birthday of Feb. 18. Can I sneak within with 75 year olds? Hope so - though I will leave that with my doctor and peacefully and lawfully wait my turn.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

A little bit of snarky disdain as a rejoinder?

Anonymous 10:48 AM  


Might the rise of for-profit 'vocational schools', 'colleges', and 'universities' have something to do with it? I worked, for a year or so, for one of those store-front 'computer training' outfits that exploited Damn Gummint student loans to barely educated inner-city kids (mostly unwed mothers), claiming to teach word processing and office automation. Few ever got jobs, of course, but did get a mountain of debt. The guy who owned it skimmed off his cut from the top, leaving a few bucks per 'student' in the classroom. Until The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) and DeVos came along, DoE finally started to put those outfits out of our misery. It doesn't seem to me that education should be a Darwinian exercise; the rich exploiting the poor. Any more than healthcare.

burtonkd 10:52 AM  

Funny to see the lists of acceptable topics for puzzles. It has been fun to do the New Yorker puzzles this week since they are a series of end-of-year puzzles based on single topics. I know I'm getting older since in the music puzzle, I knew a lot more about artists who died in 2020 than had current hits...

Feels a little off to complain about possible dupes in the rebus squares since they are most frequently exactly the same letters.

@Loren - I once played a master class for a vocal coach whose whole gimmick was to put the schwa on the ends of all final consonants to help in comprehensibility of sung texts. It was an aha moment for the first student, then very repetitive thereafter. I will say that it was effective.

@Lewis - I am so appreciative to read your alternate takes and today's reminding us to appreciate all that small businesses do for us and all the support they need now is a classic.

Kenji 10:59 AM  

Oh, Rex. I've been there in my worldview. Mentation, and proliferating it via education, is a wonderful human endeavor. But take an honest moment and use that well-developed mind of yours. Think. Without the merchant class--the doers--where would you be? Conduct a thought experiment: Picture your world absent anything produced by business. Not so utopian, is it?

jberg 11:03 AM  

I too started out wanting a GIN rebus for MARGIN CALL--as we've learned this year to our sorrow, bars and restaurants are vital to local economies, so a nice liquor rebus would have been neat. That wouldn't work with TRAIN CAR, but for some reason I had to get the the revealer before I could see the possibility of the INC rebus. Fortunately, the revealer came quickly, and since BITCOIN couldn't be anything else (sure, there are other cryptocurrencies, but they're not crossworthy), I figured out CO, and that prepared me to get WALT DISNEY from the fact that it contained LTD. It was a fun experience all around.

Thanks, @Lewis, for pointing out the symmetrical rebus placement. Normally I wouldn't like that, as it makes it too easy if you know where the rebus is, but in this case a) I didn't notice it, so it didn't do any harm, and b) since each rebus was different, it didn't help all that much. I wonder how long it took to figure out entries that would work that way?

@Loren, that spritzer story is great. I wish I'd had a teacher like you. But I guess one person's SPUME is another person's IAMB.

@Southside Johnny, you'd be a happier solver if you let yourself become a little savvier about other languages.

I thought it was an excellent puzzle, fun to solve. But it might have been another story if I hadn't held off from my initial impulse to put in moss at 17A.

JC66 11:06 AM  

@LMS' avatar (Stevie Nicks) went over my head. Can someone please explain?

GILL I. 11:08 AM  

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck? Well, if the wood was as tough as this puzzle was for me, the MARMOT would lose his two front teeth. Talk about GRUB from the bowls of despair. AND....the side dishes were spiked with condiments I never heard of. Rapper REN? Legal limits ELS? Why couldn't you clue IVES with the god-given Charles? I don't crash on a FUTON and SAVOIR-vivre will always mean having good manners. Yikes. Oh....and why do you clue PAPA as an old man?
So I did get the rebus company thing at the WA(LTD) Disney clue. Gee, @Rex....way to put a turd on a birthday cake. Hasn't anyone watched Moana or Zootopia? So now I learn he was a misogynist racist? He also brought millions of smiles to children across the globe. Now if you want to talk misogynist racist...look no further than....ready for it?....your guess is as good as mine.
Not my favorite Thursday. I say all puzzles should include Disney. Or maybe Popeye the Sailor Man.

Frantic Sloth 11:21 AM  

@Loren Yeah! What is that with the schwa bomb?? I notice it happens most often when the speaker is being frustrated or emphatic, but it's gonna leech into everyday speech, isn't it? πŸ˜•
And the Emily Gilligan "reminder" made my day!

For the record, I realize SPUME doesn't mean what it sounds like it means or how I used it in my previous comment. It just seemed to work. 🀷‍♀️

@webwinger 839am Thanks for the Dave Barry link. Just now read the first few lines and can't wait for more!

@The Skipper 841am 🀣 Between you and @LMS, I'ma hafta get that ear worm surgically removed. Thanks heaps.

@Lewis 900am Thanks for that info. Constructioneering is something I marvel at, but frequently need additional insights pointed out by you pros. It heightens my appreciation considerably - whether or not the puzzle likes me!

@Z 916am Thank you for letting us know. I didn't know Gail, but hers is a name that even I recognize, so I imagine the loss will be deeply felt by many. Very sad news.

@JD 1011am I have an extra dunce cap if you're in the market. We can sit in the short bus and make fun of the smart kids.

@TTrimble 1025am I guess I'm glad I missed yesterday's commentary. BTW, I bet you'd recognize Mahershala ALI if you saw him. Is @Barbara S. back??

@Roo 1036am There's room on the bus and another chapeau de dunce available should you wish to join @JD and me. πŸ˜‰

A safe, happy, and healthy New Year to all y'all! xo

Whatsername 11:22 AM  

Oh joy! This puzzle significantly enhanced my SAVOIR-vivre today. The rebus trick was easy to suss out, but the solve was challenging enough to make it interesting. I had a couple of breakthroughs where one or two squares gave me the opening for the remainder of the section to fall into place. I love when that happens, and to me it is a sign of a well constructed Crossword.

The MARMOT is an entertaining little creature. Somewhere in my ancient photo albums I have a picture of a very hippie version of me sitting on the ground hand feeding peanuts to a village of them.

WALT DISNEY spent his early youth in my home state and is more or less revered in these parts so I was somewhat surprised to read what his niece had to say. Those nieces have a way of coming back to haunt their famous/infamous uncles. There is some inconsistency as to the number of Oscars he won. Some sources show 26 while others show only 22, with 4 being honorary awards.

TTrimble 11:28 AM  

@Gill I.
Not "an old man", but as in "my old man" = my PAPA.

A 11:34 AM  

Happy Alliteration Day! (Seven Swans-a-swimming)

Admirable feat today - not by me, who had to look up PPG, SUVA and BARI, but by constructor Kahn. He made a rebus puzzle involving business that a slow solver like me could almost finish. The coffee had yet to kick in so I clawed my way in from the southeast with SPELLCHECK. Bells went off and then the SMALLBUSINESSES got their start. Yes, we should do as @Lewis entreats us and help our local ones.

Fun to fill in - GINRUMMY, VISAVIS, SAVOIR, ARTSCENE, MARMOT and all the rebuses. TRAINCAR HELLCATS might be interesting to hang out with.

Thanks, Rex for the Ella song, and @LMS for everything, but especially the brilliant Windex story - hope you’ll be able to do a reprise someday.

I'm especially looking forward to my New Year’s tradition, the Vienna Philharmonic Concert. Nice writeup in the NYT:
Vienna New Years Concert

Happy Peaceful New Year’s Eve, and as Col. Potter in MASH says, "Here's to the new year; may she be a damn sight better than the old one."

Carola 11:36 AM  

Challenging for me, and satisfying to figure out. Fun that the rebus squares required different entries. The hardest section for me was the NE: I gave thanks for the previously entered FROWN to nudge my brain to EMOTICON and for decades of solving to give me ELS.

TTrimble 11:38 AM  

@Frantic Sloth
Thanks! You know what it was? I was thinking "Moonstruck" instead of "Moonlight" (which I haven't seen), and then drew a blank on any ALI from Moonstruck. Doink.

(I had a sleepless night last night. Maybe that's sort of like Rex's Manhattan.)

Yes, Barbara S. popped by yesterday! A ray of light in the middle of dismal commentary which for me emblematized much of 2020.

Newboy 11:38 AM  

@webwinger is lucky to have those friends! “reading aloud of Dave Barry’s Year in Review” is a ritual worth sharing.

I’m a sucker for any rebus, so my response was far more positive than OFL. Any tribute to SMALL BUSINESSES is deserved—especially in the past year. I missed the SE rebus when I thought that it should have been a straightforward misspelt word as an added cuteness. Sorted via crosses and got a free geographical update on SUVA and BARI which have about as much chance of sticking in mind as random rapper of the day. And don’t get me started on Rolling Stone’s song of the year — 😞

Bax'N'Nex 11:39 AM  

My small business pays taxes, employs two working single mothers so they can feed their kids and allows my patients to see a doctor that actually listens to them and wants to help. I don’t make a ton of money, but want to keep my business small in order to best care for the people that trust me with their healthcare.

Mike...you are a pompous ass. One of the “cool kids” , (in your mind, anyway). Small businesses have been the lifeblood of this country for many, many years. Based on your (misplaced) indignation you, of all people, should be patronizing small business, instead of huge corps. The theme of the puzzle was SMALL business. You turned it to something negative because it wasn’t about comic books or trashy dime novels, those being so crucial to the world...

I, for one, am proud that my small business has survived 29 years (and counting) and contributes to the health of my patients AND the health of the ecnomy,

Happy New Year, all. Even you Mike.

Newboy 11:42 AM  

@Gill PAPA is what all us misogynistic Hemingway fans call Ernest. Or so Rex would maintain.

Barbara S. 11:42 AM  

Thanks to @TTrimble, @Whatsername and @Gill I. for the welcomes-back yesterday. I'm not sure whether I really am back, but we'll take it a day at a time.

I liked the puzzle even though I don't have much of a business bent*. I do have a lot of rebus reverence, though, and thought this was a well-constructed winner. It took me a while to deduce MARGIN CALL, but I got TRAIN CAR right away, which gave me the INC rebus shortly before I got to the SMALL BUSINESSSES answer, and then I was off (until I got to MELTDOWN, see below).

*I was, however, in the book trade for years, and always felt a little defensive about it.

17A ALGA There seems to be hot debate on whether ALGAe fall into the plant or animal classification, neither or both.

24A Damn retirement anyway. I confused James Merritt IVES (printmaker) with William Merritt Chase (painter) and was put out that the latter didn't fit. My knowledge of American art history is getting rusty from lack of use (and I don't like it).

26A and 8D I find myself wishing there were such things as EMOTICOiNS. Money for every mood? The presidents (or the Queen here in Canada) looking happy on some coins and glum on others?

33A Is that a metaphorical reference to actual WAR or does it mean a card or board game?

38A Funny story about MELTDOWN. I solved the puzzle last night. I was 3/4 finished and then I encountered the SW corner and the wheels came off. I suddenly lost my ability to see even the obvious. My husband came upstairs in his fetching red flannelette nightshirt, so tired that his eyes were shutting on their own, and I started peppering him with questions such as "Who or what could possibly have won 26 Oscars?" "How would you describe 'Flash Gordon'?" "What's a word that means 'epic collapse' ending in WN?" He stood there, heavy-lidded and gently swaying, and then mumbled "MELTDOWN" before tottering away to the bedroom. "MELTDOWN!" I exclaimed, "That's IT!" And then proceeded to solve the rest in a Flash. He's a savant.

Nigel Pottle 11:44 AM  

I’m just posting here because I sailed through this rebus puzzle. I got the revealer clue on the SM after I got the first rebus. I thought it was an easy puzzle for a Thursday. And doesn’r anyone see the irony of SMALLBUSINESS crossed with big business abbreviations and all those Big Business terms. It would have been even more fun if somehow David had managed to throw in a few small businesses like Amazon, Apple, and Walmart.

Bax'N'Nex 11:47 AM  

Stimson j cat...a single person can incorporate their business...not just large companies.

Hungry Mother 11:49 AM  

Very nice rebus offering today. I wish I could have gotten to it sooner, but SB was tough on me. I have a perfect genius streak to maintain, so it’s a pressure cooker. I’ve been part owner of a couple of LLCs. It was fun to have board meetings in exotic places and to adjust ownership percentages yearly for tax benefits. I was only working with nickels and dimes, but the fatcats and their accountants must have a ball.

Unknown 11:52 AM  

Trying to find the SPUME emoji on my phone.

mathgent 11:52 AM  

TTrimble. Mahershala ALI won two supporting actor Oscars for Moonlight and Green Book. He also was great in House of Cards. His name comes from the Old Testament. He was born in Oakland and went to Saint Mary's college.

CDilly52 11:52 AM  

Fir whatever reason (and I do not believe it was being on the constructor’s wavelength or in his wheelhouse, I got the theme immediately with MARGIN CALL and knew we were going to be working on a business theme. And that is all that was easy.

I tried to find some business-related something to rebus AB initio but instead AB OVO which I have never seen to indicate “from the start” but I guess it doesn’t get much earlier than the OVO in the “pullum or the OVO” sense, so ok. But I do not believe that SAVOIR VIVRE translates well as clued but it isn’t my puzzle, and I grokked it.

I was thinking how fast I was moving right across the e tire N half, and SMALL BUSINESS was a gimme as soon as I saw SMA.L. . . after my MARGIN CALL. But. . .

There endeth the tale of an easy Thursday solve. The S half and I just about could not connect. Even after I POOLED all my NEST EGGS to get an ARMANI suit, TEN times more expensive than any other garment and causing a brief financial MELTDOWN, I still had enormous difficulty finishing out the puzzle.

Most puzzling part? I was nearly done but was looking for LLC. Finally had SPEL_HECK after getting . . . finally . . . SIGH, and simultaneously as I dropped in the H, I saw where LLC would go but without putting in the rebus, the happy music played with SPELHECK. What?!?!?!? So I assumed it was a joke, as in yes, SPELL CHECK will most certainly “highlight” (underline in mine, but whatever) SPELHECK, but that means I have not finished because I did not insert LLC as the final business type. Unusual, easy/difficult solve. Enjoyed the struggle.

Anybody else?have this odd occurrence?

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Ummm...it's New Year's Eve...wouldn't you expect this to be themed that way?!! In all of the NYTXW backlog they couldn't find one specific to the holliday?

::bah humbug::

Chip Hilton 12:17 PM  

Such a downer to have to hear topics that should be off- limits.

Elegant puzzle design! Well done, DJK.

I’m guessing we all have 2020 hindsight. Let’s hope 2021 sees major improvement for this tired old planet. Happy New Year, everyone.

Joaquin 12:33 PM  

Happy New Year to all my fellow crossword fans. Wishing all of you good health (wear your mask!) as we strive to turn things around.

New Year's Day has long been my favorite holiday. It is the birthday of my first child and always seems to be a good time to renew one's spirit.

If we can survive the first three weeks of 2021 relatively unscathed it should be smooth(er) sailing the rest of the way. I hope!

Frantic Sloth 12:35 PM  

@Barbara S 1142am Thought I was done for the day, but wanted to extend my belated "welcome back!" to you. You've been missed and here's hoping you're back for the long haul. (Gee. Doesn't that sound inviting?) I hate to say it, but your husband probably immediately thought of MELTDOWN because he was likely to have one any minute unless you let him go to bed! LOL!

@CDilly52 I don't know what platform or program you were using, but sometimes only the first letter of a rebus is considered correct. I think it goes back to the days before inserting multiple letters in one square became commonplace (on the NYT website anyway) and therefore was a sort of compromise for the technically-challenged at the time. Hand up!

As far as I'm concerned the only topic that should be off-limits is the idea of off-limit topics.

TTrimble 12:53 PM  

@Frantic Sloth
Yup. Some of the people here (not naming names now, but perhaps some of you know who you are), while kvetching about other people's off-topic topics, are seen indulging in some of their own.

Masked and Anonymous 1:10 PM  

This here ThursPuz meant business. And re-bus-ness.
Cool revealer.

staff weeject pick: PPG. Puzs Per Gallon, of course.
Also, nice weeject stacks in the NW & SE. And honrable mention to INC, CO, LTD, and LLC.

new to m&e: EMILIA. IVES. BARI.

Liked the Jaws of Businesses black square structures.

Thanx for givin us the business with the re-bus-ness, Mr. Kahn dude.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

warped biter:

Sixthstone 1:13 PM  

Well-built puzzle with a bit of zing. Not exactly my wavelength but pretty easy nonetheless.

Of interest, several languages captured today:
Spanish TRES
French SAVOIR-vivre
Latin Ab OVO
Could throw in SIRI (Norweigan) and TAOS (Taos) if we wanted to be cute!

Biggest misstep--no libations for NYE (unless we poach the GIN and RUM from GIN RUMMY!).


Amelia 1:31 PM  

As a born and bred New Yorker, I must add a comment about Soho and the Art Scene this puzzle speaks of. I don't know where the constructor lives, but I know Shortz is in Connecticut or some such place. They clearly know nothing about New York City. There hasn't been a real art scene in SOHO in probably twenty years, maybe more. There is one museum. There are a handful of galleries. There are still artists living and working in the area. The smart ones, real estate-wise. There are still lots of AIR signs. (Artist in Residence for the fire department to know.) But trust me, there's no real art scene to speak of. People go to Chelsea, the Upper East Side, the Lower East Side and Brooklyn for galleries.

Soho is posh now. Rex would hate it.

sanfranman59 1:36 PM  

Oh dear! I’m so sad to learn of the passing of Gail Grabowski. I’ve done hundreds of her puzzles over the years and consider her and Andrea Carla Michaels to be the best early week constructors in the business. It’s a fine art to construct a relatively easy puzzle without boring solvers to tears. Such a loss for cruciverbalists. RIP

Whatsername 1:37 PM  

@webwinger (8:39) I saw that Dave Barry piece a few days ago. As usual he nailed it.

@Z (9:16) Sad news. I see all of her 13 NYT publications were Mondays and Tuesdays, the most recent in 2014. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

There hasn't been a real art scene in SOHO in probably twenty years, maybe more.

which is why I had barSCENE for rather a long time.

old timer 1:44 PM  

A happy shout-out to our dear @LMS. A day without her wry and amusing observations is, as the French say about a meal without wine, a cloudy, sunless day.

I thought this was a delightful puzzle. Since it was Thursday I knew to look for a rebus, and since TRA(INC)AR was pretty obvious, I went looking for others, and found it delightful that they were other bizspeak abbrs. Yeah, the two-letter CO was a bit of a letdown, but all in all, the gimmick worked, and the puzzle fell into place, leaving me with that grin you only get when you have completed a late-week puzzle.

Looking forward to 2021, when its gotta get better. Looking forward to outdoor, then indoor, dining. Looking forward to a year from now, when those of us who survived will get together with friends in person and hoist flutes of Champagne or sparkling cider.

Looking forward too to another year of brilliant observations and amusing, sometimes heartwarming, stories from you regulars. L'Chaim!

Frantic Sloth 1:48 PM  

@Joaquin 1233pm Wow! First child born on the first day of the first month - a trifecta! And a nice reminder of positivity!

@TTrimble 1253pm Just making sure you understand that my off-limits topic statement was referring to crossword puzzles and not the comments. But, I have noticed on numerous occasions the phenomenon you mention and the irony...it burns.

ow a paper cut 1:56 PM  

This was difficult for me. My favorite was 46 across

Anoa Bob 1:56 PM  

With forty black squares virtually dividing the grid into three sections, this puzzle got off to an ominous start for me. Then coming out of the gate with PPG, ALI, REN and PARM all stuffed into the upper-left corner and I was nearly ready to throw in the towel. Several names I didn't know further etched the FROWN on my face for this one. Didn't go into a total MELT DOWN but neither was I very KEEN to SEES it through.

And I think we should henceforth call a puzzle with multiple letters in one square a "FREBUS", as suggested by the Frantic One @10:09 for "faux rebus". If knowledgeable, educated people outside of crossword world find out we are calling a string of letters a rebus, they could rightly accuse us of wanton catachresis. And we don't want that!

GILL I. 2:00 PM  

@Frantic....be thankful you missed the blog yesterday. Even though I missed your usual happy face.
@@TTrible and @Newboy. My PAPA was always my Dad and now our grandkids call my husband PAPA. I've never, ever considered that "OLD." I guess I'm set in my young ways.....

@Bax 11:39. Thank you for your SMALL BUSINESS story. I will always try and go to any "Mom and Pop" type establishment no matter what. Boy are they struggling now and need all the help they can get. I go to a neighborhood Indian market for all my spices. I can easily get them on-line but I love that place. The owner is a Sikh and he's the nicest person on this earth. He loves to talk and tell you stories. He used to make sugar treats at the back of his store. He would make one called "Barfi" just to see how we foreigners would react to the name...... It's delicious! Anyway some "turd" called the local authorities on him and he got cited and told not to do that anymore because someone could probably die of COVID or worse....happiness! He could only afford 2 or 3 employees but they kept the place running, happy and stocked with everything yummy. I drove by there just the other day and there's a big sign saying they were closed indefinitely . I'm sad beyond sad.......

I'm trying to think of one thing I'm happy about 2020. Well there are actually two: I can make all kinds of bread - to perfection - and the orange pumpkin will no longer grace the White House Lawn.

Barbara S...don't be a stranger. Would you call @Pamela and tell her to come back? Maybe @Quasi and @Suzie Q as well?

David 2:09 PM  

Nice enough puzzle, I rather liked it.

My time was lengthened by about 30 seconds worth of chuckling at the answer to 34D; just writing this I'm chuckling again. Art Scene in NY's Soho?

Yeah, 35 years ago.

linac800 2:10 PM  

Dear All, enjoyed today’s puzzle - one of my faster Thursday times but that’s not something I focus on too much. Here for the fun and challenge of the puzzle and the erudite and delightful commentary of all of you.

Wishing all of you the best in the New Year! Solve on! And SkΓ₯l from Lund, Sweden. πŸ₯‚

bocamp 2:16 PM  

@JD 10:11 AM

Thx for your kind words, and no, not my farewell, but a "Fijian Farewell", as in the song "Isa Lei" by the Seekers, where "Suva" is included in the last line of the chorus (see my previous post for link).

*** SB Alert ***

@TTrimble 10:25 AM & @Barbara S.

Yes, y,d, was a toughie; all the long ones are hard for me, as I'm cutting down substantially on the time I allot for SB. I came up -2 and knew both of the words I failed to come up with. Just couldn't pick them out of the crowd. LOL

Have been alternating between 0 & -1 for the past 10 days, with a disastrous -8 a couple of days ago.

I thank @jae for the idea of keeping a list of missed/unknown words. It's helped me immeasurably. 😊

Best of the New Year to all you SBers. ☃️

Peace πŸ•Š

TTrimble 2:30 PM  

Oh, that. Yes. I have a superpower which allows me, while solving, to override any emotion I feel about the referent of a crossword answer, and I pity those who have not my steeliness of mind. :-)

Seriously, the things that so many solvers think want removed from their XW's, like the NRA or Ron Johnson say, or Obama for that matter -- none of those things bother me a whit. In the XW context, they function as mere tokens in a one-player game.

Donna 2:31 PM  

A pox upon you for that ear worm!

Misty 2:43 PM  

You are so left wing and bigoted it’s hard to read. I bet you can’t imagine that others see things differently. Stick to the crossword commentary and leave your progressive thoughts it!

TTrimble 3:04 PM  

Did you find today's longest word, @bocamp (you SB Genius you)? If so, how many people would you guess have felt an insuperable need for that word, felt it was le mot juste, anytime within the past year? The past century? I mean, yeah, sure, it's a word alright...

Happy New Year to you too! In honor of you and what you bring to this blog commentary:

Peace Paix Paz VakaΓ§egu Pace Pax εΉ³ε’Œ πŸ•Š

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

I met my first MARMOT maybe 55 years ago, but did not know until today that a marmot is a type of woodchuck, or vice versa.

sanfranman59 3:44 PM  

Thank goodness today's comment board discussion is much more puzzle-oriented than yesterday's. What the heck happened there?

@Rex ... re "SPUME is one of those words that I would be happy never to see again" ... Yesterday, it was BILLY CLUBS, about which I kinda, sorta (i.e barely) at least understood your objection. What the heck is wrong with SPUME??? I guess I just don't get how someone who (presumably) enjoys doing crosswords can have such emotional attachments or aversions to certain words when they appear in puzzles.

@David Fabish {8:02am) ... re "A bit too easy for a Friday" ... It's Thursday. We only very rarely get a themed puzzle in the NYT on a Friday and even more rarely, a puzzle with rebus squares.

@John H (8:32am) ... re "The "C" in "LLC" stands for "corporation," not "company"" ... wrong, as a quick Google would have made perfectly clear

@Kenji (10:59am) ... re "Picture your world absent anything produced by business." ... amen ... I expend more thought than I like to admit despairing over the downsides of our capitalist system, but I really do believe that it's better than most. I regret that it's come to so heavily favor the mega-business end of the spectrum and am hopeful that we will eventually make a correction there before all of our locally-owned small businesses completely disappear. I recently moved back to my old stomping grounds in Northeast Ohio after almost 40 years away and it's quite shocking what has happened to this area. It seems like just about all that's left is Walmart, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot and various mega-groceries, fast food joints and national chain restaurants. Virtually the entire downtown area of this once-thriving small city is empty storefronts. Since returning, I've tried hard to support locally-owned businesses when I can, but frankly, there just aren't all that many of them.

Big Ragu 3:58 PM  

@sanfran - lol, it was probably 100 years ago that people were saying the same thing about how Sears was going to kill small businesses. And just as a PSA - Henry Ford was a very rich man, as is Bill Gates who has probably given away more money than anyone in the history of the planet. It’s not difficult to support a local business - pick up a burrito at the local taco truck (and tip well).

Peace to all, stay safe on NYE.

JOHN X 4:02 PM  

I loved this puzzle. This thing kicked the shit out me.

Here's a very well done video of a Boeing Triple-7 taking off from Los Angeles LAX (which is just down the street from my house) and then cuts to 9 hours later when it lands in Amsterdam.

Raw Power! B777 LAX to AMS

Happy New Year to all of you!

sanfranman59 4:13 PM  

@Barbara S (11:42am) ... re WAR ... I'm not sure if your question is rhetorical or not, but I'm sure the clue refers to the card game.

@Anoa Bob (1:56pm) ... re "rebus" ... I gotta agree with you here. When I first started my crossword habit eleven years ago and stumbled upon Rex's blog shortly thereafter, I was thoroughly confused as to why this term was used when I always thought that it referred to combinations of pictures and letters used to represent words (ala the old TV game show "Concentration"). Why in the world would people, who no doubt pride themselves on their command of language, use "rebus" to describe entering multiple letters in a single square of a crossword grid. Of course, nowadays, I've succumbed to the peer pressure and don't think twice about referring to "rebus" squares.

@TTrimble (2:30pm) ... re " I have a superpower which allows me, while solving, to override any emotion I feel about the referent of a crossword answer" ... If only you could teach this skill to OFL!

Nancy 4:24 PM  

@Lewis, @GILL, @Jberg and @Mimi -- Like all of you, I've been devoted during the pandemic to supporting my local small businesses -- most notably restaurants, groceries, pharmacies and houseware stores. When this nightmare is finally, finally behind us, I want all of them to still be there. And, selfishly speaking, it's a lot easier -- at least for tech-averse me -- to pick up the phone and call a local store for delivery than to try to negotiate the Internet in buying from Fresh Direct or Amazon. If something goes wrong, there's no actual human you can even speak to.

In line with @Roo's discussion of things to be grateful for during Covid: Some of the grocery workers in particular have become almost like friends. They've gotten to know me over the phone during these many months and show pleasure in taking my call and filling my order. None of them are simply going through the motions; they're all putting some thought into it: What's really fresh, what they'll have tomorrow if not today, that sort of thing. They're not required to be that helpful, but all of them are.

I, for one, don't want to live in a future world of only Amazon and Fresh Direct. The time to try to prevent that from happening is now. I'm glad so many other Rexites are also supporting their local merchants.

TTrimble 4:32 PM  

Re your response to Kenji: here's something for you, courtesy of Chrissie Hynde.

ChuckD 4:58 PM  

@Nancy - Brava - we are about to order dinner from a local soon.

sanfranman59 5:22 PM  

@Big Ragu ... lol? Really? You'll have to pardon me if I fail to see the humor. Taco trucks? Now, that's an lol. If they exist around here, I haven't stumbled across them as yet.

@TTrimble ... That song has been tugging at my heart strings for almost 40 years. I left NE Ohio at about that time and it seems to get even more poignant with each passing year. I witnessed first hand the demise of the steel industry here, though it survived long enough to help put me through college, for which I'll always be grateful. Since then, this small city and others around it have been slowly disappearing.

Amy 5:26 PM  

Loved it!

GILL I. 5:27 PM  

@Amelia 1:31. Around the early 70's I flew from Madrid to New York to visit my brother to decide whether I wanted to live in NYC and continue my art studies. I stayed with my brother's girlfriend in her most decrepit, rundown, dirty, walk up (6 stories) apartment in SOHO. Everyone living there was dirt poor; either wannabe artists, bartenders, students trying to afford NYU or your hung-over hippies. For. some un-godly reason, I fell in love with the place. When I moved to NYC a few years later, I went to visit my old nesting place. Already it had changed. The young and wealthy began to gentrify. You are so right about the non-existent "Artist in Residence." Lots of new hip restaurants, lots of sweet boutiques but nary an artist to be found - unless you went around a corner somewhere and someone was selling trinkets.
Don't you be a stranger as well......Support your local small business.

Ethan Taliesin 5:33 PM  

I've had a drink and started late, but I thought it was on the harder side.

Someone, please explain to me ELS.

Ethan Taliesin 5:36 PM  

ELS. duh. Got it finally.

Barbara S. 5:52 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 12:35
Thanks, Friend Sloth. And you're probably right about the near-MELTDOWN. Fortunately there was a lie down instead.

@Gill I. 2:00
I wish those folks would come back, too. I didn't read the blog for much of the time I was away -- is @Tale Told by an Idiot still around?

@sanfranman59 4:13
My question wasn't rhetorical and thanks for the answer. After despairing that I wasn't going to get a response, I did a little looking around on Google and found reference to the card game. It's not one I've ever run across.

**SB Alert**
@TTrimble 10:25 AM
I play SB to Genius these days, so I'm less engaged than I once was. Got G both yesterday and today, but missed the longest word of which you spoke. BTW, your compliment at 11:38 AM made my day -- thanks!

bocamp 7:42 PM  

@Barbara S.

It's wonderful you're back! You were missed. :)


Probably got the word you referred to, but am stuck at p.g. -3

And, thx for the kind words and world peace gesture!

VakaΓ§egu πŸ•Š

RooMonster 8:42 PM  

*Reverse Humblebrag*
Last QB, you ask? Halloween. Yep, 10/31, two whole months of SB frustration! I think I'm in the Fourth Stage of SB.
1) Fascination at finding a neat game, 2) Realizing there is another level after Genius, 3) Enjoying and doing well at it, getting QB often, 4) Calming down on it, and struggling and getting annoyed at Why you can't get QB, 5) Just doing it out of habit, not even caring if you hit Genius.

So, yeah, Stage 4. πŸ˜‹πŸ€£

RooMonster Spell This! Guy

Nancy 8:48 PM  

I, too, am delighted you're back, @Barbara S. I always enjoy your thoughtful, well-written and revealing comments and hope you're back for good.

But one sentence in your post today puzzles me. You say you used to work in the book trade and that you sometimes feel defensive about it. Why, for heaven's sake? I worked in the book trade for a good number of years and don't feel the least bit defensive about it. As industries go, it's one of the more noble and worthwhile -- isn't it? Books are a good thing, right? One day, Barbara, you'll have to explain that strange sentence.

To those people who miss @Quasi -- me too. I'm pretty sure that he wrote a brief post right before he left saying that he would be leaving for a while to work on a "project." Because he has always struck me as a writer, I've been wondering if he has a upcoming novel, screenplay or stage play in the works. (Of course I'm just guessing; he could be a rodeo rider for all I know.) But I do hope that the "project" wasn't just a cover for something much less wonderful that's going on in his life. If you're reading this, @Quasi, please come back.

Whatsername 9:19 PM  

@linac800 (2:10) Greetings to you in Lund from me, smack dab in the middle of the USA. Sending wishes for all the best of the New Year to you as well.

TTrimble 9:55 PM  

In the midst of trying to research "Peace" in the language of the Taos Pueblo, a branch of Tiwa, I learned that actually that tribe of speakers is very reticent to have the details of their language known by outsiders.

Which seems to speak of a sad fact, that after centuries of being harassed by the dominating culture around them, they can't and won't trust outsiders any more. How well the language is being preserved can only be estimated roughly.

So, I failed to discover their word for "peace". It might be discoverable, but it might take some effort, more than I allotted myself.

Nutella Nutterson 10:49 PM  

I went looking up ELS after I finished, and found that there is indeed a definition as occupational Exposure Limits (ELs), so while it was a groaner in the moment, there is an underlying connection to the theme as well.

TTrimble 11:03 PM  

(Happy New Year, Moderators! Thanks for the work you do.)

bocamp 11:09 PM  

@TTrimble 9:55 PM

Yes, I recall running into that issue, too. :(

SB ***

And, the longest word I didn't get. :(

Tomorrow is a new day! :)

Peace πŸ•Š

bocamp 11:38 PM  

@The Moderators

Amen to what @TTrimble 11:03 PM said! :)

Peace πŸ•Š

russica 12:29 AM  

The Haydn symphony clue and answer??
No comments?

Valdysses 8:21 AM  

I’m astonished by the percentage of people here who don’t know EMILIA Clarke. She has four Emmy nominations, a role in a Star Wars film, Broadway credits, and was British Person of the Year in 2018. Isn’t this the definition of a “younger-skewing” clue so many here are clamoring for?

Amelia 9:51 AM  


Ine or In E is the same as in the key of E.

JK 2:40 AM  

...and since this is a “company/business” theme, perhaps PPG could have been clued as Pittsburgh Paint & Glass.

Diana, LIW 11:19 AM  

Triumph points in this corner.

Even with a rebus, and wanting to give up on a PPP. Perservered. Worth a Chicken PARM for me!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 11:39 AM  

Another OFC blog you should skip, @Lady Di. On and on about WALT. So what? However, our constructor did seem to go "off the rails" as he moved south, culminating in a SE that was a bear to untangle. SPELLING fits with no rebus. There's SUVA, no more knowable than BARI in the SW. There's the dreaded RMK again. And there's that tricky clue for WAR (had to run the alphabet for that one--almost all the way!) The top part is right on; the bottom not so much. EMILIA Clarke is fine as DOD, but this one is "two over" EAGLE: par.

Burma Shave 1:50 PM  


At every EVENT she has a MELTDOWN,
That HELLCAT’S always got a FROWN,


Burma Shave 1:52 PM  

P.S. only a few days until the 6 year anniversary. Every day, at least once. Still no word on book rights.

thefogman 2:04 PM  

I liked this one. The theme led to many aha! moments. Quite crunchy but fair. Definitely a B -, not a DEE

leftcoaster 4:09 PM  

This could have been a Friday or Saturday rebus for me. Good theme but found the rebus squares a bit elusive.

A “not-so-great grade” to me is a CEE. A DEE is miserable but passing.

Today I’d settle for a B- or a C+.

rondo 5:18 PM  

Yeah, I had cEE before DEE as well. And EMeLIA at first until VISAVIS corrected the yeah baby.. After that pretty much a non-EVENT. The corners make me PANT. In the CEE range I'd say.

Unknown 1:02 PM  

Armani suits my savior- vivre itch; A-minus puzzle. (Not a minus) Squirming? Need a place to crash? frowning? Be de(e) mure...trust the power within this puzzle; it emits 30 ppg and never goes downhill. Tres ... bien!!

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