Political journalist Berman / WED 10-6-21 / TV monster's catchphrase / FDR job-creating program / One literary source for Wagner's Ring Cycle / Brand with snow-covered mountain on its label

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Constructor: Jules Markey

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (all of the challenge is in the theme discovery)

THEME: PIGEONHOLES (63A: Typecasts, in a way ... or a hint to four squares in this puzzle) — the pigeon sound, COO, can be found in four boxes in this puzzle:

Theme answers:
  • KEEP A COOL HEAD / SCOOCHED (16A: Good advice during an emergency / 14D: Slid over a bit)
  • OLD COOTS / "WHAT'S COOKING?" (29A: Geezers and fogies / 10D: "How are plans coming along?")
  • COORS LIGHT / OIL TYCOON (49A: Brand with a snow-covered mountain on its label / 23D: Rockefeller or Getty)
  • COCOONING / "ME WANT COOKIE!" (56A: Doing dinner and a movie at home, say) / 27D: TV monster's catchphrase)
Word of the Day: LASH (50D: Tie down securely) —
Nope, that's not it. Let's see ... (scrolls way down) ... ah, here we go:
• • •

I was not on this puzzle's side for the longest time, first because ugh, put the rebuses on rebus day (i.e. Thursday), not Wednesday, this is just annoying, and second because the fill was, er, rough in many places, and third, because the rebus seemed absurd. COO and COO etc. I was actually dreading the revealer. But then the revealer came and I have to admit it's actually a very cute idea, and the execution is pretty nifty as well—those themers are By Far the best part of this grid. Usually I'm ugh-ing at a theme and finding something to like in the fill. Today, the opposite. The theme is a gem. Just, you know, put it on Thursday, make the clues somewhat harder, and maybe take another pass at some of the fill, and you've really got something here. It's really adorable and slightly brilliant to have the little bird sounds (instead of the birds themselves) inside the rebus squares. It gives the puzzle an auditory dimension that is both unusual and soothing. The puzzle has birds in it and they are cooing at me. I like this. I am not IRKed, nor do I look ASKANCE at this theme. It is well CRAFTED. I don't know that I'm in AWE, but I definitely think it's A-OK (why am I doing this, I don't like doing this, I'll stop doing this now). The real winner of the day is the Cookie Monster answer, which is also the answer that gave me the theme—I drifted down the west coast, got MEW- at the front of the answer, and realized it was going to be "ME WANT COOKIE," only at that point I didn't know what part of the answer, exactly, was going to be rebused. Then I drifted over and got OIL TYCOON, discovered its "COO" square, and everything was easy from there on out. 
I misspelled COMANECI (with an "E" on the end) (25A: Gymnast on Time's August 2, 1976, cover with the headline "She's perfect"). Not sure what gave me that idea. I feel like I've heard her name pronounced a bunch of different ways, with different vowel sounds at the end and even different syllable numbers. But that was back in the '70s, when no one knew how to pronounce anything ... or else the intervening time between when she was famous and now has just garbled my memory. I forgot WPA even though I think it was just in the grid. I wrote in DUH before D'OH (40D: "I'm such a meathead!"). I don't really know what COCOONING is... I think it's been replaced by "Netflix and chill: ... unless that too has been replaced, which seems very possible. Doing dinner and a movie at home just sounds like ... life. Like, every day. It's weird to think it needs a special name. COCOONING is when you never get old and you never die, like Wilfred Brimley, than whom I am now older (that is, older than he was when he made that movie about COCOONING ... I forget the title, but it was pretty famous). OK, that's all for now. 
This puzzle had so many answers ending in prepositions that it actually began to grate on me. MEW AT, GEAR TO, FED ON, EGG ON. AN ON. OK, not AN ON, but still, that's four, and four is a weird lot. Enough for me to notice. And as I said earlier, the fill could be fresher. You know, less OTT ESSE LAI EKE NOH D'OH EDT EDU LYRA TERR ESPY ETSY EDDA LEN ICH ODES IDES IPAD (not all of these are bad, most are tolerable, but this is an tidal wave of weak stuff). But as I say, the theme wins out, in the end. Hope you liked the cooing. I've rarely found pigeons so endearing.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:01 AM  

I’m sure there will be no shortage of complaints regarding a Wednesday rebus. But not from me - I do crosswords for fun (and to learn stuff) and this was Fun. Capital “F”. And when you’re an OLD COOT, you take your fun wherever you can find it.

Zwhatever 12:34 AM  

There is no special reason tricksy puzzles have to be on Thursdays. I actually like that we got a Wednesday appropriate rebus puzzle.

ERECTTERR POET sounds a little like the Bard of SkyNet.

Ah yes. The Brimley Line. It’s been nearly 10 years since I crossed it.

I assume Mel OTT is Mel B and Mel C’s uncle. Looking forward to Mel O making its NYTX debut.

An Emoji Clue! 👍🏽😎👍🏽

jae 12:48 AM  

Medium-tough. Like pretty much every body else, it took me a while to catch the Wednesday rebus. Fun solve with a delightful theme, liked it a bunch.

okanaganer 12:49 AM  

For "Good advice in an emergency" I saw KEEP--L---D and thought oh! oh! KEEP CALM AND... and I thought wow, this will be a great theme. Each answer will complete the phrase! Brilliant! No... but some constructor, please make that puzzle?

But I shortly saw the COO rebus, and made the leap to: "Oh, it's a pigeon theme'. And it was. Liked it! Although for some odd reason, here in southern British Columbia for the last 2 years we've had an invasion of doves. Yes the pigeon-like birds that make that similar noise. "coodlooeyoo". They're everywhere! If I never see another one I won't mind; not that they're obnoxious, they're just... everywhere.

Nadia COMANECI. Didn't we just have Olga KORBUT?

Fun fact, which I just learned 2 hours ago when searching for something else entirely: we get the word TYCOON from... Japanese. It basically means "big man".

I already mentioned this late yesterday but can't resist...because it can't last, let me enjoy it...
[SB tues 0; QB for 8 days in a row!]

albatross shell 1:54 AM  

COCOONING watching Cocoon, I guess. (I bet Rex knew all along. He's such a trickster)

Worked without putting the OOs in. I do hate busy work.

Last in for me: The W at AWE-OWE.

Took me ages, but I begrudge it not.

Frantic Sloth 2:08 AM  

It might have helped if I didn't cleave to OLDfarTS for so long...

Why would I even imagine the NYT going there??

Agree that the Thursdee has no monopoly on the rebus shtick and I found it a pleasant surprise for the Wednesdee, despite being slow on the uptake. 🙄

FED ON INSOLE is the dining habit of those with their feet planted firmly in their mouths. I like mine à la mode.

@Z If it's all the same to you, I'm just gonna refuse to play.😊


ZenMonkey 3:08 AM  

I admit I prefer my rebuses on Thursdays. I’m resistant to having to look out for them on days other than Thursday and Sunday. But I am admittedly an OLD COOT, and can be amenable to change.

Here it was relatively easy to grok the trick, and I was thinking “I hope these COOs are actual bird sounds.” So the revealer came naturally, gave me a good laugh, and it was fun to envision a tiny pigeon nesting behind every COO in the square.

If we must have such tricksiness on a Wednesday, may it always be this charming.

Robin 3:09 AM  

Kind of weak, but I have to agree MEWANTCOOKIE solves just about everything.

Saw that clue and thought at first it was going to encounter some idiotic Elmo, "MECANTSPELL".

My sigh of relief carried through until I finished this thing,

JD 3:41 AM  

Like @Frantic, some things didn't help. It didn’t help that Pigeonhole and Stereotype have the same number of letters, or that I’m very familiar with the landscape of a Coors Light can and still thought, oh, must be something else, or that I thought Sliding Over A Bit was Scooted, which made no sense with Askance and my Japanese Drama Not. Finalllly thought, “Damn, is Scooched a real word?” Noh! And thus the damn broke.

The first 10 passes prior gave me that feeling of wandering around the house looking for my glasses (stupid and kind of hopeless) but the victory lap was sublime (in a Geezers and Fogies sort of way).

Loren Muse Smith 4:04 AM  

Like others here so far, I rather enjoy having a rebus thrown at us on a Wednesday; it makes the aha moment that more satisfying. I smelled rat early on and sussed out the trick with COCOONING/ME WANT COOKIE. Didn’t I read somewhere that, what with our obesity epidemic, there’s been some push-back on Cookie Monster’s message? I just checked, and yeah, I guess they haven’t changed him to Veggie Monster, but he is trying to tout fruits and vegetables, too. (FWIW, you can change your Waze voice to sound like Cookie Monster, but it goes from cute to tear-your-hair-out-annoying in about 30 seconds.)

Liked NOH sharing the grid with NOD. Yup. I’d rather sit through two hours of Uncle Mike’s slides from China than another NOH play.

I always think about the subtle difference between ON TO and in on . If you’re the latter, you’ve been included as one of the gang. The former, you’re on the outside left to your own devices to figure it out.

It’s only been since I’ve been teaching that I’ve come to understand what a dangling modifier actually is. What I thought was a dangling modifier was in fact a misplaced modifier; ie, the modifier is placed far away and hence there’s ambiguity as to just what it’s modifying:

After rotting in the cellar for weeks, my friend brought up some oranges.

A dangling modifier is one whose noun it’s modifying isn’t even in the sentence:

Having fallen asleep during the NOH play, an apology was in order.

I’ll pause while you jot this down.

I roll my eyes at tons of grammar strictures, but I get that problematic modifiers can sometimes lead to confusion.

Speaking of dangling modifiers, I asked my daughter a while back if she thinks she’ll ever help boost the self-esteem of some hapless husky with these beauts. Nuts, right?!

And so . . . speaking of That Kind of DANGLE self-esteem, I can’t ignore 7D sharing the grid with 67A. I’m too embarrassed to type the words; I’m a Capricorn.

Jules – I agree with Rex that this is a sweet rebus, what with the little PIGEONS COOing at us from their little squares. You put the COO in cool, man.

PS – love the word SCOOCH.

PPS - @Frantic – your FED ON INSOLE comment almost made me spit my coffee.

kenji 5:11 AM  

Always a fun read, today...brilliant!

bocamp 5:28 AM  

Thx Jules, for this fantabulous puz! :)


Had a tough time in the NW. Moved east to get a foothold with WPA, ASIDES, CRAFTED, etc.

Crotchety OLDmen held me up in that area.

COMANECI opened things up in N. Cali, and led to lots of good stuff.

Finally got down to the PIGEONHOLES, and the rebuses started to fall.

Btw, never mind seeing an occasional off-Thurs. rebus. :)

The rest was smooth sailing.

Liked this one a lot! even tho it felt like a Thurs., effort-wise. Considered it a bonus Thurs. lol


You may want to try this crunchy one from Stella (if you haven't already done it): here. I couldn't finish in the SW.

@okanaganer (12:49 AM) 👍 for 0 yd

Here's wishing you good luck on today's SB for your 9th straight! 🤞

yd pg -1 / td p (maybe); g (definitely); -5 give or take.

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 5:47 AM  

Not a fan of rebus puzzles, though this was straightforward enough. Making that bi a deal over "lash" ?!?! Really Rex, have you never been on a boat? Or near one? Or seen one in a movie? And you're supposed to teach English?

Anonymoose 5:52 AM  

@LMS. Are you saying that in a strong wind a flag is ERECT? (HAR). Also your sentence construction comments reminded me of "Throw the cow over the fence some hay". I have no idea what this is called, grammatically.

The Joker 5:57 AM  

You SB pros may be proud, and rightly so, of all your QB's but I get to "Moving Up" every single day.

Conrad 6:07 AM  

Medium. I had trouble due north due to my lack of familiarity with 13th century military tactics. Call me uninformed. Had inCHED for at 14D and couldn't figure out what could possibly start with IA that concerns cows and texts. Then I realized that KEEP An l... had to be wrong. So I decided that SALE had to go. D'OH!

Had OIL____ at 23D and realized this was a rebus, because baron didn't fit. But then ATE and LYRA gave me TY[COO]N and I was off to the races. Returned to the north and finished with help from the theme.

FWIW 6:56 AM  


noun: coot; plural noun: coot; plural noun: coots; noun: old coot; plural noun: old coots

an aquatic bird of the rail family, with blackish plumage, lobed feet, and a bill that extends back on to the forehead as a horny shield.
a foolish or eccentric person, typically an old man.
to the forehead as a horny shield.

Trey 6:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 7:06 AM  

Solid and lovely. This one kept me guessing for a while, between vague clues, things I didn’t know, and figuring out that it was a rebus Wednesday. Then, even after filling in my second COO, figuring out where the others were. All these things kept me alert and interested, that is, this grid fulfilled one of my requirements for puzzle excellence, what I call the Rule of Engagement.

Then we had a couple of palindromes (EKE, ESSE), plus ODES/IDES and NOH/DOH. Not to mention a food subtheme, with DONUT, LEEK, COOKIE, EGG, ATE, FED ON, and WHAT’S COOKING. Three of my favorite answers were COO words: SCOOCHED, ME WANT COOKIE, and COCOONING. And the wordplay lover in me smiled at the clues for ESPY, IAN, CURRENT EVENT, OWE, INSOLE, and the most excellent MOLE.

I love leaving a puzzle with gratitude for time well spent, and that’s just what I did today, Jules. Thank you!

Trey 7:08 AM  

I liked it, and surprised Rex did. Apparently he is as unpredictable as the rest of us. Theme was good, and I agree that some of the short fill was weak.

I really like COCOONING (which is very different from Netflix and chill, BTW), and ME WANT COOKIE. The whole time I was solving this, I was thinking of Oscar the Grouch who is not so much of a monster as an OLDCOOT. Reading the other posts here reminded me of Cookie Monster, who I guess is a monster by name but not in reality

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

Took longer than usual for a wed -- oof -- but then that's what I get for tackling this in the early am after a few drinks. COO COO sCOOched (not sCOOted) and must say i love an old COOT!




Son Volt 7:26 AM  

I’m down with Thursday fun on a Wednesday. Liked that the rebus squares were not identified - took me to COORS LIGHT to get the gimmick. Revealer is solid. Others have identified the ugly fill - it’s a little smoothed over with the elegance of the theme.

Didn’t know ARI Berman but watch LEN Cariou in Blue Bloods every week. EL NIÑO in me chuckled at both LIMP and ERECT in the same grid.

Enjoyable Wednesday solve.

Zwhatever 7:32 AM  

@LMS - The Word Matters podcast today is “Podium vs. Lectern.” I saw that and thought of you.
Also, your ED observation reminded me that the puzzle also has COOCH and HEAD in the puzzle, which fit with Rex’s “Netflix and chill” but not with CO(COO)NING (when the Urban Dictionary only has wholesome definitions you know no innuendo adheres).

@Anon 5:47 - Or, Rex was going to leave just the first definition as a joke, then decided he didn’t want all sorts of emails from people who wouldn’t get it so added the appropriate third definition.

FWIW - I prefer late night Rex to early morning Rex.

@Lewis - ✋🏽 for loving the MOLE clue. The others you mention are also good, but the MOLE clue is my favorite.

amyyanni 7:38 AM  

Is it still cocooning if instead of a movie, you watch the Red Sox beat the Yankees on national TV? I'm cooing... and enjoyed a delightful solve. Flat liner is a great clue. Happy Hump Day!

Twangster 7:43 AM  

Boy, did this theme sail over my head. I thought it was just that you had to drop "OO" from the theme answers. I put the letter C in the rebus boxes. I didn't understand what that had to do with pigeons or holes but Os are sort of holes, and that successfully solved the puzzle, so I declared victory and moved on.

kitshef 7:47 AM  

Fun theme. Made it a little easier that the four were the same. I think that's probably why we got it on Wednesday.

I wonder if more people know Mel OTT from crosswords than for being a great player. Almost certainly one of the top 25 all-time.

Dr.A 8:22 AM  

Netflix and Chill is more of an invitation to a potential hook up to come over and fool around.. it’s also probably out since I know it and I’m not exactly hip or cool at this point in my life. Cocooning is just “I’m not learning my house because I feel like getting under a blanket and eating popcorn alone” . Just sayin.

mmorgan 8:29 AM  

It took me a little while to find the COO rebus but when I did, I was first hoping the rebus would be COO across and BILL down. Oh well, that didn’t work. I thought they were just random meaningless COOs until I got the revealer. Very nice, that!

thfenn 8:36 AM  

Another hand up for the W in the AWE/OWE cross being the last to fall (LOL, just couldn't see that in my morning SIEGE of this puzzle). Latched on to the COO theme with that baron/beercan cross, as like @okanaganer I really thought we were going to have something "keep calm and carry on" related. And before COO dawned on me I thought we were going to do something with OO and buttonHOLES. Much nicer having doves cooing at us from various nests. Speaking of which I think of dinner and a movie at home more like nesting - cocooning feels more like there might be some spooning involved. And odd how I still like doves more than pigeons when they're the same bird.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

Great Crossword, but should of been a Thursday. Even ignoring the rebus the clues were quite difficult.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

I struggled with this one. Saw the rebus, but wanted leveL HEAD (16A), wanted tonY for ESPY (61D), and self-doubt crept in when I realized I was using two separate words that meant the same thing (ATE, FEDON). Tick tock tick tock...

But the real failure here is to do a puzzle with COO COO ... PIGEON ..., and then cross-reference the wrong Sesame Street Muppet! WTH is Bert???

SouthsideJohnny 9:00 AM  

I prefer "Netflix and Popcorn" as my COCOONING descriptor of choice - I usually begin with the popcorn before raiding the fridge to put together a nice Dagwood - then I'm off to the races.

The commentariat today is interesting - many of the regulars here remark that they enjoy it when a Tuesday is a little more difficult than usual ("provides some crunch" is not an atypical observation). Yet, here we are with a significant number of people actually lamenting the fact that there is a rebus puzzle on the "wrong day", lol. Interesting dichotomy - although now that I think about it, the extremes may be "more vocal" about expressing their displeasure and like any bell curve, the majority are probably middle-center (a phrase which, initially at least, seems like a redundancy).

Nancy 9:10 AM  

Loved it! A Wednesday rebus with interesting letters -- what could be [ ]LER?

Look, it's a COO rebus. That's all any of us needs to know. Should the revealer have been PIGEON SOUND or at least PIGEON SQUARE (St. Mark's Square in Venice, maybe?) Is PIGEONHOLES a bit of a stretch?

Don't worry your pretty little heads about it. It's nothing to get your feathers ruffled about. This is fun! Let's not let the literal be the enemy of the enjoyable.

Some specifics: I'd never heard of COCOONING (56A). I was expecting the answer to be COOKING IN. Sort of like "eating in", only a lot more work. But COOKING was already used in the 10D answer WHAT'S COOKING. So that even though I've never watched the (crossing) ME WANT A COOKIE monster (Sesame Street, I presume?), I figured it out.

I think I may have heard SCOOCHED said out loud, even though I've certainly never seen it written down. It sounds vaguely Yiddish. But I don't think it is. Is it?

Final thought: Too bad Nadia didn't spell her name COOMANECI. But you can't have everything.

This was a real delight.

Bob C 9:27 AM  

Schrodinger square at OLDhaTS / WHATSShaKING. Also my first rebus entry, once I got COO took me a while to suss out that baby sounds (?) wasn't it.

Another Anon 9:29 AM  

@Anonymous 8:47. Should of? (Sorry)

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Coo-Coo-ka-choo*, Mrs. Robinson
Jesus loves you more than you will know
Whoa, whoa, whoa
God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

*slightly edited

RooMonster 9:43 AM  

Hey All !

@LMS - Nuts, right?! LOLOLOLOLOL!

Spelled KOMENICI thusly at first. Thank goodness the crossers were easy-ish to get.

I had a hand puppet COOKIE monster when I was a young lad, it had a hole in its mouth so you could "eat" COOKIEs. Maybe that was foreshadowing for my nom, RooMonster. 😁

Discovered the Rebus the same way Rex did, having MEWANT_K__, and getting OILT__N. Said, "Hmm, can it be a Rebus?", then double checked the day, as Wednesday here is garbage day, and thought I had missed it! Wondering what that means for tomorrow's puz. It better not be a letdown!

The middle COO is the odd man out, as the other three and the Revealer are in appropriate symmetric spots, ala the two Long Acrosses and the two Long Downs.

We need a ROO Rebus next! 😁

eLDerS for OLDCOOTS first, Revealer was HOLEd first, soON-ANON (should know better by now! Write in the __ON, and wait), aforementioned COMANECI.

DANGLE, har. What a fun word! Unless you're doing it off a cliff. Either LIMP or ERECT.

One F

Whatsername 9:46 AM  

A rebus on Wednesday. Well all righty then. WHATever you say. It was fun. And clever.

Being the OLD COOT that I am, I should have known the COOKIE Monster catch phrase but I couldn’t see it. All I could do was KEEP trying to GEAR it TO something starting with MEOW. It was quite IRKsome. I did remember Nadia’s last name right off but I would never have spelled it that way. Looks like it’s missing a C, or an M.

We haven’t seen MIKA in a while. She’s probably been busy COCOONING with Joe.

Had my breakfast but now I’m craving a DONUT. Probably better than a COORS LIGHT at this hour.

pabloinnh 9:46 AM  

Feeling smart this AM as I got the rebus at the COOL SCOOCHED intersection and only wondered if it would be different bird sounds throughout or always COO. The latter, obviously, as it turned out. Hand up for loving SCOOCH as a word, but in our house we often use "hoosh", which is a word I got from Winnie-the-Pooh.

I've never heard the last I in COMANECI pronounced at all, just CO-MAN-EECH, which I assumed is a Romanian thing.

ESPANA and ELNINO have both lost their tildes. It may take an ANO to find them.

LEN and ALI join the growing list of pop culture folks I have yet to meet. Also ARGON could be any five letter element for all I know of atomic numbers. See also WPA, which could be nearly any three letter combination for an FDR program.

So a little weary after staying up way later than usual watching baseball, which was totally worth it (hi@amyyanni). Lots of interesting commentary in the NY press this morning. Fans are not happy.

Thought this was a very cool Wednesday, and having a rebus today bothers me not at all. Keep up the good work, JM. Just Make some more like this and I'll be happy, and thanks for the fun.

mathgent 9:54 AM  

MEWANTREBUS! MEWANTREBUS! That's my inner Rebus Monstor you're hearing. He feels good today.

Enjoyed it despite the slightly off revealer and the 23 threes.


albatross shell 9:57 AM  

@anon 857am
I was thinking KEEPACL(EAR)HEAD and the theme would be missing body parts.
Also considered TONY OBIE before ESPY. Nice play on play there. I am glad that people have not (in posts I have read so far) complained about FEDON EGGON. Shortz has clearly taken a stand approving such double uses, for better or worse. Your comment on Bert was a mystery but a google gave me this:
Doin' the Pigeon

Nancy 10:05 AM  

Right now, directly across the window from me as the crow flies, a PIGEON is perched on the iron grate of someone's fire escape -- flapping its wings excitedly over and over again, prancing, dancing, pirouetting, every feather all a-quiver. He's putting on quite a show -- and there's no potential PIGEON mate around to watch. There's only me.

He must somehow know that today, puzzle-wise at least, is his Big Day.

bigsteve46 10:25 AM  

Also a little slow today,but slogged through. As a still somewhat rabid baseball fan, I also stayed up til the final out last night. I was rooting for the Red Sox (which is not easy for me to do, since one of my favorite old jokes is, "Why do they call Boston the hub? Because it's the slowest part of the wheel!) But as a native NYC/New Yorker, and died-in-the-wool Yankee hater, and so old that I was a fanatic Brooklyn Dodger fan as a kid, I just can't root for the Yankees. Maybe if they played a team from Iran or North Korea ... but it would still be a struggle.

Unknown 10:28 AM  

My favorite misplaced modifier was actually in an article in the New York Times on sex education. It was something along the lines of, "Many parents these days have started taking about sex with their kids." Yikes...

atomic man 10:42 AM  

Ruined my Wednesday. Coo coo fu.

Hartley70 10:43 AM  

Wednesday puzzles are becoming a good thing. A rebus Wednesday is a very welcome improvement to a day that has traditionally been less interesting than that camel’s hump. COO was cute. I was thinking dove would be the revealer, but I was delighted with the clever PIDGEONHOLES. I had to think hard for a tv monster, like Herman Munster perhaps, because the COOKIE one is so sweet, but I liked the surprise of a Sesame Street friend. I didn’t whiz through this because the fill kept me off balance in the best way. Congrats on a lively Wednesday puzzle.

Carola 10:47 AM  

A combination of diabolical cluing and a well-hidden theme made this one was Saturday-tough for me. After going through all of the Acrosses and Downs, I had only the scattered OTT and NOH and was as flummoxed as when I first looked at 1A and tried to come up with an animal that's also a plant. But at least I suspected the possibility of a rebus, when things like KEEP your HEAD and OIL baron didn't fit. Anyway - no complaints! I loved having to work hard on a Wednesday, and the theme was a delight - got it on my second grid go-round at COOL HEAD x the terrific SCOOCHED. Loved the PIGEONHOLES with the emerging COOs.

I smiled at LASH as clued being arcana to @Rex; in my Girl Scout counselor days, teaching campers how to LASH a table was one of basics of building a primitive site. Yes to all commenters who include popcorn as a vital COCOONING component, for me best combined with a guilty pleasure sort of novel. And thanks to all above for your wit!

Joseph Michael 10:58 AM  

Great puzzle. Loved the surprise of a Wednesday rebus. How about a Monday or Tuesday rebus sometime? Or an occasional Thursday themeless? No need to be eternally rigid about what can happen on what day.

Enjoyed learning from the constructor’s notes that the mail boxes at the post office are called PIGEON HOLES, thus justifying the COO inside of a box instead of a circle. I just wonder how all of those PIGEONS got into the post office. Maybe that explains why U.S. mail delivery has become so slow.

@lms, I also tried the COOKIE MONSTER voice on Waze and had the same reaction. Thought it would be funny and quickly found it IRKsome. Not a good state to be in when you’re on the road. Now I have the voice of an Englishman named Thomas telling when to turn left and warning me about “level crossings” ahead.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Of course, I went with OILTYtaN and was lost forever.

Geoff H 11:13 AM  

I’m always baffled when Rex treats some ancient sports trivia as something everyone knows (I’ve never heard of COMANECI) but is affronted by a basic commonplace word like LASH in the nautical tying-things-down sense.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

@Ω Zuzz
I assume Mel OTT is Mel B and Mel C’s uncle.

well... at least great-uncle; he's been dead for years: 1958

FED ON INSOLE is the dining habit of those with their feet planted firmly in their mouths.

I was thinking more the Little Tramp, IIRC, one of his most famous scenes.

the problem is that rebi are, as often as not, not the same string of letters, but rather strings which fit some category. my favorite is the inert gases, for example. so, Hey Ω (whichever one wants to cheep in), what's the ratio, if not all of the WS era, but recently? that is something you track, along with PPP and such, right?

rjkennedy98 11:17 AM  

Wow, what a gem of a puzzle! The rebus was so unexpected on a Wednesday that I got a real AHA when I discovered it. And for some reason I was ignoring the revealer till the very end, so I had a few empty boxes and was just scratching my head trying to figure out where I went wrong (since this can't be a rebus puzzle).

All the themers are super enjoyable (except for cocooning which I'm pretty sure no one says anymore). Who can hate a puzzle that has ME WANT COOKIE! The revealer is just fantastic.

My only nits were: ETSY crossing ESPY is very ugly crosswordese, and the clue for ALIT ("Made a touchdown") made no sense to me. Maybe someone can explain that.

Newboy 11:25 AM  

I’m with @Joaquin; nuff said👍🏼

Lewis 11:34 AM  

@bob c -- Almost a Schroedinger square. Doesn't quite work in the down.

bocamp 11:35 AM  

Nadia COMANECI: 1976 Gymnastics All Seven Perfect 10's (YouTube)

"Nadia Elena Comăneci Conner (born November 12, 1961), known professionally as Nadia Comăneci (UK: /ˌkɒməˈnɛtʃ(i)/, US: /ˈkoʊməniːtʃ, ˌkoʊməˈniːtʃ/,[3][4] Romanian: [ˈnadi.a koməˈnetʃʲ] (About this soundlisten)), is a Romanian retired gymnast and a five-time Olympic gold medalist, all in individual events. In 1976 at the age of 14, Comăneci was the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10.0 at the Olympic Games.[5] At the same Games (1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal), she received six more perfect 10s for events en route to winning three gold medals. At the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Comăneci won two more gold medals and attained two more perfect 10s. During her career, Comăneci won nine Olympic medals and four World Artistic Gymnastics Championship medals." (Wikipedia)

td 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

TJS 11:36 AM  

Before I read Rex or any of the commentariat, I just want to say this was one of the most entertaining puzzles we have had in a long time.

Nice gimmick,No PPP issues, great clueing and fill. 4 stars, imo.

Frantic Sloth 11:37 AM  

@Lewis 706am Hit the nail with the wordplay clueage, especially MOLE.

@JD 341am Stereotype might have worked if there were just two COO(s). But that might have been too cute. To recap: two COOs too cute. You lose. New clues. Or just do booze, then snooze.

@LMS I must remember it's misplaced modifiers that give me so much glee and dangling modifiers are better in silicone.
I once put Keith Morrison's voice on Waze for about the same amount of time. Seems being "entertained" by what is essentially a backseat driver isn't that much fun after all.

@Anonymoose 552am I believe what you have there is a Yodaism.

@FWIW 656am LOL! Please don't let part 2 be a typo!

@Z 732am Ditto late night Rex! (Plus it's easier for me to comment
early without losing sleep. Yes, a personal problem, but still a problem.)

@Anonymous 1116am 👍 I thought of the Little Tramp (and several cartoons paying homage), too; however, the self-identifying aspect made the foot-in-mouth analogy imperative. 😉

Tim 11:43 AM  

"Esse quam videri" is my college's motto, and upon looking it up, I see it's also the motto of a state (NC), a bunch of other colleges/universities, and other orgs. I think "seeming" is more popular than people let on.

Gio 11:48 AM  

Shortz gets a great puzzle like this and has to decide on the better complaint: Rebus on a Wednesday or Too Easy for a Thursday.
I had LYRE, without the last A for ASIANS I was fooled by the clue as well as John of Scots. Is that a clever was to say John TO Scots?
NOH popped right out, I'm getting there with the crosswordese as did EDDA. I was in Iceland for a few weeks in 2019 and I learned all about the EDDA but words like these don't remain fresh in the mind if you don't regularly see them in crossword puzzles. It isn't that these words are difficult, it is just that they stay right in the outer parts of your memory. ANON ARGON ANODES, just pop right now out where I used to have to think for a minute or two.
I loved this puzzle. Need to work on my constellations and I've always sucked at the GODS but I'm ONTO Amenra.

egsforbreakfast 11:51 AM  

First off, a big thanks to @Roo for reminding me that Wednesday is garbage day. I dropped my IPAD as soon as I saw that and dashed for the trash, wheeling it into position with a final SCOOCH just as the truck rounded the corner and headed for our house.

As to Nadia, a pronunciation site has it sounding like koh-munn-itch.

Hadn’t thought about COOR SLIGHT as a good descriptor of that alleged beer until today..

Also, shouldn’t someone call out the earth-hating NYT for putting COAL and OIL right smack dab in the center of our little COOCOON?

I liked the puzzle, and I don’t think that rebi OTT to be restricted to Thurs/Sun. Good job, Jules Markey.

jb129 11:55 AM  

Great puzzle - altho I, too, prefer a rebus on Thursday so at least I know what I'm looking for.

I didn't know Mewant a cookie & had trouble elsewhere because I didn't do coo down as well as across but a nice surprise for a Wednesday.

Whatsername 11:56 AM  

@amyyanni (7:38) “Is it still cocooning if instead of a movie, you watch the Red Sox beat the Yankees?” It is in my book. I’ll take a pizza and Sunday Night Football over a tablecloth and candles any day.

Armin 12:02 PM  

Can someone explain 4A? Follower of the calends and the nones??

Legume 12:11 PM  

Having grown up in (western; we only send money to Boston (Beacon Hill considers the western border of the commonwealth as Rte. 128), none comes back) Taxachusetts the game was a puzzler. Sports attachment is as much NYC as Bean Town out this way. Since I don't like the Cheaters, I've been a Yankee for some time. It was a Black Crepe kind of night.

Masked and Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Coo coo WedPuz with a rebus. Luv it. Me Want Kookie ... always.
Coo-ler Ahar Moment, when the rebus pops up on a non-ThursPuz day.

staff weeject pick: COO. Honrable mention to EDU which, along with partner DONUT, contributed this puz's lone U. Primo weeject stacks in the NE & SW, btw.

fave sparklers: COMANECI [My first shot at it was COMONECI, so pretty close]. ASKANCE. DANGLE. DONUT. Also hard to beat an occasional ANORAK attack.

Happened to figure out the rebus at the OLD?TS/WHATS?KING crossroads. Like @Frantic Sloth, I arrived at the correct rebus value, after havin to (sadly) dismiss WHATS(FAR)KING.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Markey dude. Absolute Primo job.

Masked & Anonymo1U


Steve M 12:26 PM  

Rebus puzzles leave me cold

MetroGnome 12:26 PM  

Oh, great. The f*cking "gimmick" puzzles are mutating and metastasizing into other days now. Isn't one pandemic at a time enough?

bocamp 12:26 PM  

"The Romans did not count days in the month as a simple number, as we do, but backwards from one of three fixed points in the month: the Kalends, the Nones, and the Ides. The Kalends are always the first of the month. The Nones fell on the 7th day of the long months (March, May, Quinctilis, October), and the 5th of the others. (Note that this long-short distinction refers to their length in the republican calendar, not the later version.) Likewise, the Ides fell on the 15th if the month was long, and the 13th if the month was short." (Polysyllabic)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

MarthaCatherine 12:34 PM  

"Once there was a boy walking down a street named John."

The first sentence of my son's grand opus when he was in third grade. Didn't tease him at the time of course, but we remind him of it often.

mathgent 12:42 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Loren (4:04)
Nancy (9:10)
bocamp (12:26)

Nancy 1:07 PM  

To paraphrase Joyce Kilmer:

Puzzles are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Where is it written that rebuses have to appear on Thursdays? This is an arbitrary "rule" made at one time, perhaps long ago, by an ordinary human being. It is not written in stone -- and can therefore be varied, altered or rescinded by the same or a different ordinary human being. And, if a puzzle's job is to be puzzling, then a rebus puzzle will be all the more puzzling when you have no idea on what day, if any, it will appear.

Be glad I'm not editing the NYT crossword puzzle. If I were*, I'd stick rebuses (which I dearly love, btw) into every nook and cranny I could find, including Mondays. And that way I'd fool the hell out of all of you -- which would give me great, gleeful pleasure:)

*But I won't. Even if the Times asked me, I'm much too lazy and much too technology-challenged to handle such a job. So you can all breathe easier -- at least all of you who want a rebus to practically proclaim itself in neon before it's allowed into your Wednesday puzzle.

JD 1:08 PM  

@MarthaCatherine and @Unknown 10:28, I think it was a PTA's annual fund raiser when they put out a sign every year advertising their Giant Kids and Babies Sale (clothes, books, toys, etc.) I always thought of going and insisting that I was there for a giant baby.

@Frantic, Tried booze, still didn't snooze.

old timer 1:17 PM  

Loved the puzzle once I got the trick. Could be we'll have a more traditional rebus tomorrow.

I was thinking about PIGEONHOLEs. Aren't they those little open boxes in an old-fashioned desk? Or also, the similar places in a post office into which mail is sorted? I wonder why that name was coined? England, where some folks keep a collection of racing/homing pigeons? The birds you see in big cities don't use banks of ready-made holes.

LorrieJJ 1:19 PM  

If you're a grammar nerd, which I admit I am, watch Weird Al Yankovitch's Word Crimes on YouTube ... bloody brilliant! He uses the music from Blurred Lines but removes the most heinously ugly lyrics ever written, replacing them with a witty informative lesson on grammar. Talk about making a silk purse ... Go Al!

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

I realized there was a rebus in the works early on with KEEP A _L HEAD but like others, I wanted to be level-headed about it. Going down though, SleveCHED did not work (that really does sound Yiddish).

I loved finding the COOs and getting the revealer was a sweet "aww" moment.

My wrestle with kOMANECI/COMANECI (hi @Roo) was not helped by crosses - I found neither kAN nor CAN as equal to "pokey". Only after I settled on the C did I get the pokey, can, jail, COOler reference.

And my knuckles are all shiny from rubbing them in self-congratulation on seeing MOLE right away, no crosses. Nice clue!

Jules Markey, thanks for the very nice Wednesday puzzle!

jberg 1:50 PM  

I solved late, after a morning PT session, and everything's been said. I am definitely on the side of those who appreciate the aha! of finding a rebus when you were not expecting too. The revealer is fine, but maybe would be slightly improved if it were "Typecasts, say..." to indicate that we were looking for a sound.

@Carola -- Boy Scouts, too; it was called "pioneering," and advanced practitioners (never me!) would erect towers and bridges by lashing branches together. And wasn't Odysseus lashed to the mast to save him from the Sirens?

@Loren, I'm happy to see you acknowledging that grammar can sometimes clear up ambiguity. Fowler has thousands of examples.

@bocamp, thanks for explaining the Roman calendar. I remembered the the nones and IDES were movable, but not why they moved--it's been 61 years since my last Latin course! Guess I really am an OLD COOT.

Joe Dipinto 1:50 PM  

They say it may rain Friday.

burtonkd 1:55 PM  

@LMS - "Nuts, right?" takes projection onto your pets to a whole new level.

CDilly52 1:59 PM  

Hand up @albatross for the AWE/OWE issue!

JC66 2:00 PM  

How about Ry COOder?

CDilly52 2:06 PM  

LOL @ Frantic, I’ve enjoyed mine en croute just for variety since the INSOLE seems to be such a frequent dish on my daily menu!

CDilly52 2:48 PM  

Norman is known mostly fir the university. While most of the outside world thinks football, in the sports area, I look at women’s sports and gymnastics as the most consistent sports producing productive graduates in many, many disciplines and professions. One such sports area is gymnastics.

Many are aware that the iconic Bart Conner is an OU product, but how many are aware that he also brought his lovely and talented partner and spouse, Nadia COMANECI back to Norman to raise their family and train future gymnasts? True. And this is the reason I can spell COMANECI. Both Nadia and Bart give back to the community tirelessly.

Besides the nod to the “perfect 10s” (and I remember them so well, Olympics junkie that I am), this puzzle was an absolute gem!! I enjoyed the tricksy use of a rebus on Wednesday and struggled to lick it up until the appearance of my daughter’s favorite Muppet, Cookie Monster and his iconic catchphrase “ME WANT COOKIE!” Since my daughter is in the first Sesame Street generation, perhaps we did not tore so much from hearing her attempts to imitate the shaggy blue monster when asking cutely for a snack. However, Since I was trained by my Gran to use proper grammar our little monster had to say “I want a cookie, please.” And because she is such a clever little dramatist, she would usually produce a puppet, plushie or doll from behind her back to add I a new voice “me want cookie too,” and swear that “Bear hasn’t been to school yet so his grammar isn’t very good.” Outsmarted by a four year old . . . again! Do any of you have that problem??

Anyway, I truly enjoyed the solve. I suspected the rebus at bothe the COOL HEAD and the OLD COOTS, but was not certain whether we were going to have the COO or just the OO, so waited for the reveal.

Whammy! What a clever and complete theme today! This is, in my (truly, frie Ds) extremely humble opinion one of the cleverest, most cohesive and well constructed themes in a very long time. Maybe even all year to date. It is one I shall remember. Basically, what@Rex said.

I also enjoyed the fill and did not find it objectionable. Sure, some less than stellar stuff here, but I cannot imagine the I exponential increase in difficulty level when trying to create such a tight and imaginative theme, so I give a lot of latitude. Great job.

Clever clues, too from the 1A MOLE, all the way through, very good word play. Also enjoyed the admonition not to DANGLE ones participles. I guess I learned that COCOONING is a “thing” - I had no idea. Maybe you watch “Cocoon” while snuggling and dining on the couch?

Learning, smiling, head-scratching, all part of a very enjoyable solve!

Mr. Benson 2:48 PM  

I don’t believe “on” is functioning as a preposition in EGG ON. It’s an adverb, or more precisely a particle.

“You have EGG ON” your face — that would be a preposition. But that’s not how it’s clued. “Don’t EGG ON your cousin” — adverb/particle.

CDilly52 3:02 PM  

Right on the money, @old timer! I have my Great grandfather’s roll top desk complete with PIGEON HOLES (largely useless now except for small things -ah the days of the link phone message slips!). The desk has served the family lawyers-one started as a local solicitor in Scotland who emigrated to North Carolina and set up shop there) ever since. I am the female to inherit it and will have to hang on and hope for a grandchild to want to practice law. Or not. All good things do end.

GILL I. 3:10 PM  

I like hump day. I like the word hump. You give me a Wednesday that smells like a Thursday and I get mad. I don't like getting mad. I gear up to everyday of the week. I wasn't ready for a Thursday rebus with COO's. NOSIREEBOB. Don't give me COO's on rebus Thursday.
Well...I'm glad that's off my chest. I had to get up late last night and pour myself a drink. I stared at this and pretended it was the next day. It wasn't. My participle dangled at ME WANT (COO)KIE. I don't like sharing my dangled participles with anyone. It's nobody's business how my participles dangle - not even with anybodies PIGEONHOLES. Why does the pigeon have a hole?
I'd give this the cool frijoles award if it ran on Thursday. Now I'm going to go DANGLE the participle hanging on the OLD COOTS GEMS.....

Joe Dipinto 3:26 PM  

I thought COCOONING was what the Aliens in the sci-fi franchise did with their hapless victims. When cocooning was complete, the alien offspring would burst out of the victim's chest, spewing blood and guts everywhere.

Frantic Sloth 3:47 PM  

@CDilly52 248pm There's not a four-year-old alive that can't outsmart me. I'm afraid your daughter would have had me for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and between meal snacks.

@J-Dip 326pm True. Didn't you notice the parallel? 😉

sixtyni yogini 3:54 PM  

COOing like a dove (rather than a pigeon) over this one.
Enjoyed it a lot. Easy for me…..’'twas mood, headspace, whatever?

albatross shell 4:15 PM  

Here is a more relevant Bert-pigeon adventure.


albatross shell 4:31 PM  

On pigeonholes:
In medieval times pigeons were kept as domestic birds, not for racing but for their meat. ... By 1789, the arrangement of compartments in writing cabinets and offices used to sort and file documents had come to be known as pigeon holes because of their resemblance to the pigeon cote.
ATE FEDON connection.

If you're truly retired, how are you going to tell what day it is? But then, why should you?

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

If you're truly retired, how are you going to tell what day it is? But then, why should you?

The most important reason in the world: each version of L&O has it's own schedule on multiple channels, so you do need to know how soon to roll out of the sack in order to shake off the Ambien headache so that you don't miss any. Not that any episode is a first-time viewing, of course. But, then of course, lots of people read Shakespeare's plays more than once.

jae 4:54 PM  

@bocamp - Thanks, I just downloaded it. I also just finished a fairly tough Friday puzzle by Patrick Berry from Aug. 18, 2000. See if you can guess why I had severe misgivings about a certain answer in the NW.

jae 6:07 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 7:25 PM  

@ MarthaCatherine that's kind of sad. He was nine. Give it a rest.

The rebus fell pretty quickly for me, but I thought this was tougher than your typical Wednesday. Mind you, I'm fine with that.

MEWANTCOOKIE made this puz a winner in my book. I don't care how many 3-letter answers there were. All worth it.

Anonymous 8:37 PM  

the last square to fall for me was the A in the MIKA/ASKANCE cross. Dont know Morning Joe show, and ASKANCE was unfamiliar. I took a while to figure out it was a rebus (COORSLIGHT fell first) and from there things fell into place.

Jtull 10:56 PM  

“He was lashed to the sleigh and he raved all day about his home in Tennessee”
The Cremation of Sam Mcgee

stephanie 11:28 PM  

needlessly hard for a wednesday, for me. when i had gotten through all the clues and my grid was still mostly blank i thought, i smell some thursday bullshit going on. once i accepted that that was indeed what was going on, i enjoyed the theme. i saw PIGEONHOLES before any of the other COOs got revealed, and worked backwards.

so, i really liked that. it was the rest of the puzzle that was just too hard. i don't like using google on wednesday, but i didn't know MIKA or COMANECI. i had PEN before CAN - can is slang for bathroom, not jail...EKE out means to squeak out, to scrape by...not to scratch out, NOD off means to fall asleep, not drop off. to me, anyway. all are subject to interpretation and i'm sure if you twist and squeeze the clues and definitions they can be shoehorned in but, i didn't enjoy them. especially not on a wednesday. i just hate when i realize i have to write in an answer i don't like.

also didn't know WPA, ALI, ESSE, NOH, ARI, LEN, IAN, or LAI which made getting them with crosses unsatisfying. OTT i managed to remember by some miracle from ye olde book of crosswordese stored in my brain. didn't know about spelman or calends so more guesses that turned out right but did nothing for me. never heard of COCOONING in this way, and i'm in my 30s and enjoy spending almost every night in (even before covid) on the couch eating a homemade dinner and watching something or other with my partner. didn't need double meathead clues.

i don't know. overall i felt like i really hated this puzzle, but then again i loved the theme, and there were other just so enjoyable fills like ME WANT COOKIE, WHATS COOKING, coffee and DONUTs, SACRED texts and cows, INSOLES, EL NINO, EGG ON, ALIT, etc. a jekyll and hyde puzzle for me.

stephanie 11:50 PM  

@rjkennedy98 alit is past tense of alight, which in part can mean "to descend from or as if from the air and come to rest : LAND, SETTLE." thus, for example: a plane making a touchdown/touching down/landing, etc. :)

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

Really …unkind terms for older men…shame on you…
Why is this ok?

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Disliked. I am not particularly strong at crossword puzzles. I work to get through Wednesdays. This one had me stymied at many points. The fill was tougher than usual even apart from the rebuses.

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