Yellow-flowered medicinal plant / THU 1-5-23 / Veep actress Duvall / Good name for a marine biologist / Risky baseball strategy that's indicated four times in this puzzle? / Acclaimed HBO comedy series whose creator stars as himself / To whom Mama Cocha was goddess of the sea / lab hosp location for stent placements

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Constructor: Emily Carroll

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: SQUEEZE PLAY (54A: Risky baseball strategy that's indicated four times in this puzzle?) — the title of a "play" (a Broadway musical, to be much more specific) can be found "squeezed" into four boxes in this grid:

Theme answers:
  • LEVITATE / INEVITABLE (17A: Rise in the air / 2D: Certain to happen) ("Evita")
  • THAI RESTAURANT / COCHAIRS (21A: Establishment offering tom yum soup or pad woon sen noodles) [I think the "soup" and "noodles" bits here are redundant] / 5D: Runs together, in a way) ("Hair")
  • "CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM" / PARENTAL (36A: Acclaimed HBO comedy series whose creator stars as himself / 28D: Kind of guidance) ("Rent")
  • CAT SCAN / CATSUP (61A: Body image? / 61D: Condiment for a burger) ("Cats")
Word of the Day: SQUEEZE PLAY —

In baseball, the squeeze play (a.k.a. squeeze bunt) is a maneuver consisting of a sacrifice bunt with a runner on third base. The batter bunts the ball, expecting to be thrown out at first base, but providing the runner on third base an opportunity to score. Such a bunt is most common with one out. According to Baseball Almanac, the squeeze play was invented in 1894 by George Case and Dutch Carter during a college game at Yale University.

In a safety squeeze, the runner at third takes a lead, but does not run towards homeplate until the batter makes contact bunting.

In a suicide squeeze, the runner takes off as soon as the pitcher begins the windup to throw the pitch, and before releasing the ball. If properly executed, and the batter bunts the ball nearly anywhere in fair territory on the ground, a play at home plate is extremely unlikely. However, if the batter misses the ball the runner will likely be tagged out, and if the batter pops the ball up a double play is likely.

These plays are often used in the late innings of a close game to score a tying, winning, or insurance run. A pitcher's typical defense against a squeeze play, if he sees the batter getting into position to attempt a bunt, is to throw a high pitch that is difficult to bunt on the ground. (wikipedia)

• • •

The thing that stunned me most about this puzzle was the sudden realization that ... well, I like the band Squeeze, and I own many of their albums ("LPS" and "CDS"), and one of those albums is entitled "East Side Story" and another of those albums is entitled "Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti" and one of those albums is entitled "Frank" but (most relevantly) still another of those albums is entitled simply "Play" ... and never, not once, not until I was taking preliminary notes for this blog post, did I notice (~30+ years late) the Squeeze / "Play" connection. The album is not baseball-themed, that I'm aware of, and the album cover, well, I don't really know what's happening there (pictured) but there's nothing to suggest the baseball angle, so you can see how one could miss it, but dang ... I like Squeeze, I like baseball, and ... I never put 2 + 2 together. Maybe Squeeze intended no baseball implications when they named the album "Play," I don't know, but I should've noticed. *I* should've noticed. Again, I say, dang. As for the puzzle, this is a completely acceptable rebus theme, undermined only by the fact that "play" doesn't really fully capture what's being squozen here (these are musicals), but they take place on stage and have dialogue, so sure, "Plays," fine. 

The only real difficulty is uncovering that first rebus square. To do this, I had to go down and find the revealer and solve it early. I was totally stumped in the NW despite having all but one square seemingly in place. The main problem was the not-as-clever-as-it-imagines clue on RAE (4D: Good name for a marine biologist). After rejecting ROE, I thought "ah, RAY, that works perfectly." Which left me L-TY for 17A: Rise in the air. No hope. With those "good name for a ___" clues, the right answer should be bam, spot-on, undeniable, not "eh, pick from half a dozen or so." But annnnnyway, that was why I couldn't get that square. Also, "EVITA" is way longer than your typical rebus string, so it's hard to parse the missing parts of INEVITABLE until you know more about the theme. After I got the revealer, and then that first rebus square, the rest of them came pretty easily. The hardest one was probably the "Cats" square crammed all the way down in the SE corner. I had SCAN at 61A: Body image? and (like RAY) it seemed perfect, so it took some doing before I figured out to put the "Cat" part in there too. I thought the rebus square was two squares down from there, and was seriously wondering if there was some play called, I dunno, "Oran Gep" or something (67A: Negroni garnish => PEEL). But "CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM" and THAI RESTAURANT were absolute gimmes, and the few names I didn't know (CORTEZ) or couldn't remember (CLEA) were not too hard to draw out. 

Little problems, now. Read "flowers" as "followers" in 1D: The flowers in Amy Lowell's "Your great puffs of flowers / Are everywhere in this my New England" (LILACS), so I was looking for, I dunno, a religious sect or something like that for a bit. I thought the kind of "guidance" that was called for at 28D was MORAL, but that was before I got the theme. Oh, there was this:

But that was more of a goof. Less of a goof was when I had it as "TECH lab" and "PATH lab." Shrug. I remembered SENNA—how, I don't know (26A: Yellow-flowered medicinal plant). Very flowery puzzle, this one. I couldn't stand ISLATE so when I was done I just rewrote the section to make myself happy:

HEAT RASH sounds bad but it's a good answer (8D: Summer eruption). That's all I've got on this one. Overall: acceptable and enjoyable. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Brian A. in SLC 12:17 AM  

Didn't happen until I had RENT and HAIR, but the "aha" (or "duh"?) moment really popped! Liked it.

jae 12:21 AM  

Mostly easy. CLEA was a WOE and CO CHAIRS took a while longer than it should have, plus I momentarily blanked on coming up with CAT SCAN. So, not as easy in those sections. Cute and fun, liked it.

@Rex - it’s comforting to know that you also misread stuff.

Anonymous 12:34 AM  

The Ray/Rae thing was an offense. You’re gonna make me figure out EVITA goes in the rebus AND spell such a common first name like a middle name no ma’am.

Brian A. in SLC 12:44 AM

Don't know about posting links. I'll see how this works.

egsforbreakfast 1:06 AM  

Workers: Thanks for the unwanted responsibility.
Bosses: It’s ONUS.

Do you Buzz Feed? No, ISLATE.

What do you call the start of 33D? The C of CORTEZ.

Could you please help the poor bent palindrome at 29A/31D? Yes MAYAM.

Like Rex, I first had SCAN for 61A (Body image?). This left SUP for 61D (Condiment for a burger). I thought that SUP must just be cool guy talk for CATSUP. Like, I’ll have a burger with ‘SUP and ‘tard. Hold the ‘lish.

Before I got to the revealer I didn’t have EVITA, but I did have HAIR, RENT and CATS. I thought the theme must be about monthly expenses. In the end, all was understood, and I quite enjoyed the puzzle. Thanks, Emily Carrol.

okanaganer 1:12 AM  

What Rex said about the fact all the themers are musicals; it should somehow be part of the theme. I mean, not all plays are musicals, right? I like Rex's METH lab answer.

The last themer was tough, in that I always want KETCHUP rather than CATSUP. [KETCH]CAN for "body image"... isn't that a town in Alaska?

A bit frustrated by so many names. Notably the ELLIS NAURU SINAI triad. I nominate INCA/MAYA for a sorta kealoa, given that honestly how many of us know the difference between two aboriginal Mexican names for "goddess of the sea"?

[Spelling Bee: Wed 0, proud that I remembered that oddball last 5er.]

Gary Jugert 1:44 AM  

Yup. ASS. 3 of 5 on the year. Hats off to the NYTXW team for putting OREO (and our dignity) to shame. I think this is the first donkey of the year.

Found the reveal long before any of the rebipodes, so the hunt was on. Struggled with the LILACS/SENNA cross. CATS was the last thing to go in since I'd forgotten SUP was hanging out making no sense in the southeast.

Seeing the PIETÀ in Rome 35 years ago was a memorable moment. A gypsy kissed me on the lips in the streets of Rome on the same trip. The two experiences are roughly equal in my mind. Eating pizza by Trevi fountain was way better than both.

Welcome back @Nancy. You were missed. If someone told me in 1988 I would be paying a $1200 for a phone, $100 a month to use it, another $100 a month to read emails I don't want all so I could share crosswording opinions, I would have laughed and said the world would never be that insane. We will never need to be dependent on technology like that.


1 Staring at the Milky Way with the top down 14,000 feet above sea level on a dirt road along the Continental divide, maybe, or more likely in a McDonald's parking lot.
2 How I'm certain I will end the card game.
3 Grabs the toupee and yanks.
4 Those emotions at seeing your spouse leave for a week.


John Hoffman 2:16 AM  

I think of EVITA (and all the rest) as Musicals. I wouldn’t call them Plays. But as I understand it, some people on the East Coast call them all Plays, and then divide Plays into either Musicals or Dramas. Yes?

Anonymous 3:36 AM  

I figured out HAIR, RENT, and CATS first, and so was expecting a 4-letter musical for the one I hadn’t yet discovered. Plus, I had RAy instead of RAE, so I had to stare awhile to get EVITA.

Anonymous 4:01 AM  

Sort of liked this one. The rebus squares seem kind of randomly placed in the grid, no symmetry or inclusion in the longer answers. I think with that the location of the plays would’ve been more inferable. I had soOnEST for CLOSEST and wanted something like “in a box” for 2D and tried several configurations in that corner. Revealers for THAI and RENT were great, made me giddy to put those in. Also tried DOUBLE PLAY as an initial revealer without crosses thinking it made sense for a Thursday puzzle idea. I wonder if that’s been done before.

Favorite clues were “Wheels on a base” and “kind of column,” if only for the subtle misdirection they gave me.

Anonymous 6:22 AM  

I got the rebuses bottom up (first CATS, then RENT, etc.), and I got the revealer early, but for some reason my brain wouldn't let me understand how these words were "plays" until I finally got EVITA. Once it clicked, I appreciated it. Top left corner was rough for me today but the rest was easy.

Loren Muse Smith 6:58 AM  

I got that faint trickery tickle pretty early on, but it took a minute to nail down the conceit. I knew it had to be CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, so, baffled, I turned to the reveal for help. What a great idea for a theme. Bravo, ______.

@Brando – me, too for “soonest” before CLOSEST.

@Brian A. in SLC – here you go. Thanks for the clip.

@Gary Jugert – I always enjoy your uniclues. This clip piggybacks today’s #3.

I liked LIAR sharing the grid with LAIRS. But a LAIR feels more secretive and sneaky than a “haunt.” Your mileage may vary.

The clue for COCHAIRS is brilliant, but I tell ya – COCHAIRS looks startling in my grid what with the HAIR part written in one square.

Even more startling was misreading the clue for SOBER UP as “recover from a blender.” Gruesome.

Rex – I’m totally stealing your “squozen.” I love it when people relax and have fun with our language. Hah. Come to think of it, I have a few eyebrows that need to be twozen.

“Unwanted burden” – my sister’s cat ran away 15 months ago from where Mom and I live. Last week, someone told her that Tiffany is probably still lurking around and that my sister just needs to put out one of those animal trapper cages to get her back. My sister lives 10 minutes away and can’t drive anymore (MS). So now I have to get a flashlight and go check the cage at the border of the woods hoping against hope that some hapless possum (sic) or raccoon isn’t waiting for me to figure out how to release it. Jeeze Louise. On a side note, CAT’S CAN would be a great name for a litter box.

The whole “MAY I/can I” shtick exhausts me. Can I go to the bathroom? I don’t know. Can you? C’mon guys – let go of that one and move on. (Although as I type this I realize that when you live with an 87-year-old who needs to eat more fiber, this is pretty much a daily exchange.)

“Lachrymose” is a great word, but I’d feel too conspicuous and show-offy to use it. After I check the %$#@ trap I get into bed and watch about ten minutes of TikTok. The ones of the military dad surprising his kid always make me TEARY, but the ones documenting an abandoned dog’s success story of being rehabbed and adopted make me lachrymost.

SouthsideJohnny 7:01 AM  

I did notice that the rebus entries were all musicals, so the revealer was a bit of a downer. Not that it was wrong or improper, just a bit of a let down.

A lot of “fringe” clues that are probably fine - I just have no interest in things like a CATH lab, the author of American Psycho, NAURU, SENNA, pretty much any senator or other politician these days, or what TULANE’s mascot is.

So today’s grid is probably a fine effort for all the Thursday gimmick and rebus fans - will see what we get tomorrow on a themeless Friday.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

Toughest puzzle in a good while. We eat Thai food whenever we can get it - eating out or cooking at home. But I didn't know either of the foods listed.

And then SCAN worked fine without the 'cats' rebus, which made that themer hard to find.

Other than that, nothing seems all that obscure. But it definitely took me a while.

Nice job.

Lewis 7:32 AM  

A theater-in-the-square puzzle!

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

Yeah at that point just make it 3 theme answers and call it a day. Agreed.

Dr.A 8:23 AM  

I had a lot of issues with the proper nouns but otherwise fun.

Lewis 8:26 AM  

Had the first rebus square I uncovered been RENT, HAIR, or CATS, I would have been in the dark about what was going on in the theme. But it was EVITA, which suggested it was going to be musicals going in the theme squares – that eased my solve tremendously.

And here I have to praise the editors. Early on, I was baffled in the north-middle and NE, but I didn’t panic, because I’ve learned that the editors are so skilled, that on any day of the week, seasoned solvers for that day will probably eventually fill in tough areas if they persist. Editors, you are artists! So I, unpanicked, meandered elsewhere with faith that those areas would eventually fill in (and they did).

Perhaps Emily made it easy for the editors to do their art today; I wouldn’t be surprised, as she is so skilled. But the editors ensure that it’s done – Every. Single. Day. Bravo, gang!

Anyway, sweet theme, clean grid, lovely-for-this-day cluing, a Thursday Thursdaying in the highest. Along the way, I liked seeing MAY crossing its reverse, the abutting palindromes ETTE and DEED, and the rare-in-puzzles five-letter semordnilap (STRAW).

Overall, IMO, this was bouncy, fun, and engaging, and left me smiling – what a gift! Plaudits, Emily, and thank you for making this!

Lewis 8:29 AM  

BTW, having DOG in the puzzle was appropriate, as we are travelling to rescue one. We miss having a dog, after losing sweet Chester nearly a year ago. I will be away from commenting 1-3 days. Wishing all a terrific weekend!

SteckMark 8:30 AM  

The northwest corner tripped me up, last one for me, aided by hints from my wife. five vs four letters tripped me up. Proved myself a serf again.

Not the most uplifting puzzle in regards to medical clues/answers: SOBERSUP, HEATRASH, SENNA (laxative). Hoping for some lighthearted cleverness tomorrow. TGIF

pabloinnh 8:32 AM  

Undone by CLEA. I had everything filled in and knew it had to be THAIRESTAURANT but somehow couldn't make it fit. Also I of course had SQUEEZEPLAY and was squeezing things but disregarding the PLAY aspect and failing to notice that we were dealing with PLAYs in the sense of theater.

Some days crosswords make me feel smart, but this day is not one of those days.

Very nice puzzle, EC. My fault for making an Egregious Catastrophe out of it. Thanks for the reality check.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

Found a couple sections challenging in part because, as most people, I call musicals musicals and plays plays. They’re distinct entities. So got the first 2 themers but had no sense they had anything to do with one another (another pitfall of the manic and entirely unreliable inconsistency of NYT puzzle and theme editing quality - is this just a properly thought out and lazy rebus theme or is there a secondary element? Shortz could give you either with equal probability).

Nor was there any geographic consistency or help with where the themers might be in the puzzle. Always a good sign (eyeroll).

NW corner was brutal. Uninspired clueing on RAE and LIAR followed by trying to parse the only 5 letter musical (again, totally inconsistent since the other 3 themers are 4 letter MUSICALS). Really felt like that themer could be anywhere up there as the clue on LILACS was bad as well. That whole corner should’ve been dropped in the heaTRASH.

Way too much of the rest of puzzle felt like a geography/almanac/PPP quiz. And I’d prefer not to think of our underwhelming and airport exec coddling transportation Secretary who ruined a lot of people’s holidays through his inaction while doing a puzzle if possible.

Real stinker overall.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Amy: love baseball, and the squeeze play is one of my favorites as it requires a good runner on third base. Love Broadway musicals and have seen all 4 featured here. (Also love Tom Yum Soup) Yes, love this puzzle.

Barbara S. 8:46 AM  

Thanks, @kitshef, for the “tough” validation. Yeah, I found this hard. I finally had it down to two corners unsolved: my old friend the NW and also the SE. In the SE, I had SOBERUP, ULNA and SPINAL, and was absolutely stuck. The problem was that I was plum out of ideas for 47A {Leisurely paces], was having trouble figuring out whether we were dealing with a noun or a verb, and couldn’t think of anything relevant that started with TR. Although, actually, I did think of something: TRipS, as in “She tripped down the garden path.”

This is one of Merriam Webster’s definitions of TRip:
3a: to dance, skip, or caper with light quick steps
b: to walk with light quick steps

Nowhere in there does it suggest “leisurely,” but I was desperate. Anyway, long story remaining long, I put it in and took it out and then thought of TROTS (which I might have clued as something to do with bathroom usage, so it’s a good thing I’m not a constructor). TROTS gave me ORACLE and TULANE and I was more or less away to the races, except for a little hiccup on SCAN/[CATS]SCAN, which others have reported.

The NW was much worse, as it stayed mostly blank for ages. I got one of those arbitrary-but-unshakeable-crossword-solving notions about 2D [Certain to happen]. I correctly concluded the [Pilates target] was ABS, which gave me a B and convinced me that [Certain to happen] was going to be something-Bet, as in safe bet, sure bet, good bet, although the something had to be 3 letters. I also knew, at the back of my mind, that there had to be a rebus somewhere in that corner. Finally and reluctantly I erased the “et” of Bet and immediately the scales fell from my eyes: Hah! It must be IN[EVITA]BLE and I’ve solved that word, the missing rebus, and ultimately the whole corner in one swell foop!

I, too, noticed the substitute-play-for-musical aspect of the theme. But the constructor had to use short, one-word, recognizable titles with letter sequences that would mesh with other words. You try executing this theme with Pygmalion, Tartuffe, Hamlet and Equus.

Uniclues (hi, @Gary Jugert!)

1. “Hey, maybe I’ll avoid my usual summer affliction this year!”
2. Fires the imaging technician
3. Actor O’Toole revelling in his fatherly role


[SB: Tue and Wed, 0 – that’s a mini-streak of 3! Tue’s was a hoot in that I was just about to give up with two words missing when, in quick succession, I tried these wild stabs. What do they say about a million monkeys on a million typewriters with an unlimited amount of time producing the complete works of Shakespeare? I felt like a monkey on a typewriter.]

TTrimble 8:50 AM  

T(HAIR)ESTAURANT AND CURBYOU(RENT)HUSIASM made matters all too clear, but it was a little weird seeing theme answers squirreled away in the corners like that -- that added a fair bit of time to mine. Then too the (somewhat obsolescent in my mind) spelling (CATS)UP -- I made the same mistake as Rex did, thinking "sup" might now be a thing, like the legal Scrabble word ZA for "pizza" (and whoever would say either would sound like they're trying way too hard). I wasn't quite as befuddled as Mr. Burns, but still.

Putting in RAy before RAE was another moment Rex and I shared. Honestly, I don't like that -- it's not how this little "good name" game is supposed to be played.

I did like "Wheels on a base" (JEEP), that base being a military base, and "wheels" being slang for car.

"Meth" in place of CATH is pretty funny, but it's relieving that Rex is one of us after all. (Yeesh, talk about failing the breakfast test. I've never had that procedure done, but the thought makes me shudder. I'd take a CAT SCAN any day over that.)

If they made a puzzle with ASS as a theme, which by this point is a logical conclusion, I hope they would work in YASS QUEEN! somewhere -- YASS is what I choose to see today over on the East Coast.

I recognize the middle name CORTEZ from the billion or so fundraising appeals in my inbox from the last election cycle. Then again, I bring this on myself because I sign about a billion online petitions, being the armchair activist that I am, and thereby hand my name over to god knows whom.

Funny how those vodka trends go. At one point STOLI was all the rage, then later Ketel One, and more recently Grey Goose. I sort of stick with Absolut Citron [or Limon or whatever it is], because it's cheap and I find it unobjectionable. I think my taste in vodka is not all that discriminating, and I suspect I'm not alone in that.

SB: 0 yd, but not cleanly. I was like the proverbial monkey who, randomly striking keys on a typewriter, writes out the complete works of Shakespeare if you give him enough time; in my case, the mystery word was this.

Son Volt 8:52 AM  

Cute trick - filled in pretty quickly. Musical theatre for me are PLAYs so I have no issue with that. Jon Hamm nailing Larry.

SOBER UP adjacent to STOLI is interesting. Like the STRAW - sucker pair. Whiffed on Amy Lowell in 1d but am now intrigued. Usually see Mama Quacha.

Enjoyable Thursday solve.

Slobberbone. Congrats and good luck to @Lewis on his new puppy dog.

KnittyContessa 9:02 AM  

I loved this puzzle! It had to be a THAI RESTAURANT so I knew it was a rebus early on. (HAIR in RESTAURANT made me laugh.) After RENT I knew I was looking for one word plays. After finding CATS, I looked for EVITA and there it was! So much fun!

GAC 9:02 AM  

This was a very fine puzzle, so many thanks to Emily Carroll and Will Shortz. Must have been tough to put together. It took me quite some time to get it done, the last thing to fall was CATS since I thought that SCAN was the answer and I thought I could live with SUP for CATSUP. Embarrassing. This is the kind of puzzle that keeps me coming back for more every day. I've been doing these since my law school days that ended in 1961. Sort of miss ANOA; I once had the email address

Barbara S. 9:07 AM  

Hey, @TTrimble! Whaddya say we swing from the trees together later?

TTrimble 9:15 AM  

@Barbara S.
Oh holy cow -- you too with the monkey?! I hear that Twilight Zone theme.

beverly c 9:15 AM  

That RAE threw me too. I knew it was INEVITABLE but thought maybe we were borrowing neighboring letters. Or had uni-directional rebusi? Rebi? Or side-by-side rebus squares? As I made my merry way around the grid, trying to fill in anything that was sure, I filled in the revealer and promptly forgot about it. ??? I guess it’s early.

What a treat when I finally realized the rebus fill works both directions! RAE. The pay-off was all I could ask for.

Rex, I enjoyed reading about your Squeeze eye-opener.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Fairly certain that Tulane is the Green Wave. Saw Tulane quickly, but hesitated.

Joaquin 9:31 AM  

Seemed like two puzzles in one to me. I really struggled with the top half but blew through the bottom half in no time at all. All-in-all a great Thursday challenge. And ... I loved the revealer!

Brooklyn Steve 9:31 AM  

The fourth rebus absolutely killed me. I figured SCAN was fine for body image and since the clue for 61-down had just "burger" (instead of hamburger) I thought MAYBE "'sup" could be shorthand for catsup. Nobody says that I know, but thought it was a fun thing to share :)

RooMonster 9:33 AM  

Hey All !
Cheating, Googing, and Checking, oh my! Yesiree Bob, all three in my Shame-O-Fame today.

Stuck in NW, so unsophisticated me had to look up what kind of flowers Amy Lowell was talkin' 'bout. Which got me to change hENNA to correct SENNA, and got me the last Rebus (sorry @Anoa!). Was thinking UNAVOIDABLE for INEVITABLE, but couldn't find a play in that. OIDA? Har.

Googed* to find what Lachrymose meant. Heard the word, not a clue what it meant. LOL at @LMS's Lachrymost.

Think that was it for Googs. But then ended up with the Almost There message. Argh! Hit Check Puzzle, had RAy, and in NE, spelled SaNAI thusly (stupid), getting me LeaRS for LAIRS and NeURU for NAURU. Ouch.

Ah me. Mad that the final (first, actually) Rebus was five letters, whilst the rest were four. Consistency, man! (Uh-oh, starting to sound like Rex!)

Was a nice F day today, with the center SB letter, and repped well in the Mini, but alas, puz let's me down. Almost the Trifecta. Will have to hedge my bet.

No F's

*In case you've ever wondered (unsure if I explained it before, bad memory and whatnot), but I do realize I leave out the L of Google. It's just my quirkiness. Goog, Googed, Googing sound funny to my ears. (Which are connected to my silly brain, so...)

bocamp 9:46 AM  

Thx, Emily, for this wonderful Thurs. workout! :)


SoOnEST before CLOSEST caused a major holdup in the NW.

Liked the SQUEEZEy theme; it made for a challenging solve.

Nothing more exciting than a SQUEEZE PLAY on the diamond. ⚾️

The two 'Biblical mounts' were clever. Their proximity in the puz suggests the possibility of an ASS climbing SINAI.

Fave clue: 'School board?'

Last entry was the 'E' in the CLEA / TRES cross.


Fun adventure today. Liked it a lot! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Epicurus 9:52 AM  

Just say no to "rebuses"! It's a cheat; one letter per square is the rule of crosswords. Here we have five letters in one square! Nope, not for me.

Nancy 9:59 AM  

Oh, wow! This is so good!!!

It made me have to think in the most interesting ways and I want to share every step of my thinking process with you.

I knew it was a rebus. I knew from THAIRESTAURANT that it had to be a 4-letter rebus. HAIR was the only 4-letter word contained within. And -- yes!!!! -- CO-CHAIRS works!!!

A HAIR rebus. What's that about? Better look at the revealer.

"Risky baseball strategy." The only thing I can think of is SUICIDE BUNT or SUICIDE SQUEEZE. The first fits; the second doesn't. But what does it have to do with HAIR?

Is there another risky baseball play that has to do with HAIR that I don't know about because I stopped watching baseball in 1957 when the evil Horace Stoneham yanked the NY Giants out of NY?

Also, where are the other HAIR rebuses? Can't find them.

But wait. Could that 6-spaces 2D answer be INEVITABLE? Why that means...EVITA!!!!!! Aand that crossing answer is LEVITATE!!!!

Aha! Musicals!!! Broadway musicals!!! Has the whisking away of my beloved NY Giants in 1957 kept me from knowing a risky baseball move that has something to do with either Broadway or musicals?

RENT comes in. Then CATS. But to me, EVITA is the marquee answer (pun intended) that makes this puzzle sparkle even more brightly.

Finally I get to the revealer. Aha. SQUEEZE PLAY!!!! The one version of that risky bunt that I hadn't thought of. So good, Emily!!! Really nice!!!

One of the cleverest and most enjoyable rebus puzzles I've ever done. An absolute joy.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Harder than a Saturday to me

mathgent 10:07 AM  

Absolutely loved it. So much fun trying to find the four rebus squares. (I had to cheat for CATS.)

"Did you see any plays when you were in New York?"

"No, but we saw a musical."

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

I also got stuck in NW on the rebus cross, which took up one fourth of my solve time to figure out.

In addition to the complaint about RAE vs RAY, the EVITA rebus didn’t register at all because it didn’t follow the established 4 letter play name pattern.

Not a fan.

Georgia 10:14 AM  

It works!

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

I, too, am a big of Squeeze and of baseball. Rex, although I can't say for sure, I think it's very unlikely Squeeze intended any tip of the cap to baseball when they named their album Play because they're British and baseball isn't a thing there...

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Hilariously finished with only 3 rebus squares and the “something’s incorrect” message from the app. Had SUP, SCAR, and SPIRAL in the SE corner and that all *kinda* worked… thought SUP was like ‘sup as some shorthand for “ketchup” (*ahem* the proper spelling) and just couldn’t see what else was wrong!

TTrimble 10:37 AM  

Possibly you'd like this. (I remembered that Ronald Reagan story, but then forgot to mention it before.) Wiktionary says it's been in the language for quite a while -- that and squozen.

TTrimble 10:46 AM  

Hm, I didn't read all the way to the end, and I take back thinking you'd like it. Oh well.

Bob Mills 10:51 AM  

Finished it with one cheat...I Googled "Actress DuVall" to get CLEA. For a long while I assumed the theme crosses were somehow connected, because of SQUEEZEPLAY, but didn't realize how until after I'd finished (because I knew about CATS, EVITA, and HAIR, but didn't know RENT was a play).

David Gold 11:04 AM  

Musicals are not plays. Musicals have music. Plays do not. This is not up for debate. Ask any musician who works on Broadway.

Sir Hillary 11:10 AM  

Fun puzzle. Scrounged [RENT] and grew [HAIR] pretty easily. Like Rex, SCAN and SUP were just sitting there for a while before I finally herded [CATS]. It took me quite a while to figure out the NW -- in my head, I was imagining a crossing of L[AIDA]NEGG and S[AIDA]PRAYER or something like that. But Ms. Peron eventually revealed herself. So don't cry for me, Rex-iverse.

Nancy 11:11 AM  

I can't believe that Jeff Chen gave yesterday's yawner of a puzzle his POW, while completely ignoring this challenging beauty.

Today's puzzle: Lots and lots for the solver to do in order to be able to solve. Yesterday's: The solver sits on the sidelines with nothing to do but admire a bunch of "grid art" that doesn't even look like what it's supposed to represent.

So many here love to trash Will Shortz, but I live in fear that Jeff Chen will one day take over the NYTXW. And if he does, prepare yourself for "grid art" puzzles as far as the eye can see. Puzzles that are all about the obstacles that the constructor had to confront -- while giving absolutely no thought to what the solver might be experiencing.

Alice Pollard 11:32 AM  

my problem was that the first 3 themers I got were all 4 letters. So I was scrounging around looking for a place to put in “AIDA”. Finally I saw the 5 letter EVITA. I also, for some reason, had sEATRASH “Sea trash” whatever that is, and it was hard to unparse. And I had soOnEST before CLOSEST. I love Larry David - so that helped getting 36A and figuring out the rebus kinda early. I had the opportunity to see the PIETA twice. Once in 1964 at the Worlds Fair and then at the Vatican in 2011. Memorable each time . Speaking of musicals, we saw The Music Man, Kimberly Akimbo, and Funny Girl all in December. Love NYC during Christmas time. And yeah, we don’t really call them “plays”. More like musicals or shows.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

This is why, for me, this puzzle is an epic fail. The Scan/Sup combo is valid.

mathgent 11:42 AM  

Nancy, abssolutely correct! Chen's POW has nothing to do with the enjoyability of solving. Actually, I don't get much out of his commentary at all lately. Despite the fact that he remains one of my most favorite constructors.

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Hey Rex. I saw Squeeze at (what was then) SUNY Binghamton a long time ago! Great show.

Masked and Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Yep. In the NW, M&A was facin either:
* A no-know of LEVITATY.
* A no-no-no of RAE. [Better clue: {So-so name for a marine biologist?}.]
Lost precious nanoseconds, without resolvin anything. Kinda reminiscent of House Speaker elections.

Liked the theme with its cool revealer. Too bad a weeject play like RUR couldn't made the cut, tho.

fave stuff included: NAURU. HEATRASH. UNOPENED. SOBERUP. SEESAW clue.

staff weeject picks: MAY/YAM. Also liked the "MAY"- and "DOG"-driven weeject stacks.

Thanx for the playful fun, Ms. Carroll darlin.

Masked & Anonymo11Us


Newboy 11:57 AM  

I’m with@Nancy today. “An absolute joy,” for those who look forward to Thursday & its expected unexpectedness! Finding RENT missing, I looked for that rebus or a synonym that really left me in the outfield SCANing for things that like Schrödinger’s CAT were not to be seen. I’m humbled, but in a good way. I’m off now to revisit some poems by the late Poet Laureate that @Lewis reminded me of; even rebus haters have to love their DOG. Enjoy this one with me .

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

@David Gold. So a musical is a play but with music?

Joe Dipinto 12:05 PM  

With a dearth of straight plays with one-word titles (Doubt, Picnic, some Shakespeares), let alone ones that could be rebused, this theme idea should have gone right into the garbage. But the premier newspaper of NYC –theater capital of the nation, home of Broadway– soldiered on, giving us SQUEEZEMUSICALS instead. Not even one of them is just a play. The downward slide steepens.

Bob Fosse 12:26 PM  

I think this was a brilliant puzzle and the nitpicking of musical/plays is unwarranted in the larger scheme of things. Please get over it and appreciate the true beauty of this puzzle

Androonicus 12:49 PM  

I thought this was so clever. A great rebus!

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

I think Jeff Chen is an astronomy buff and apparently not a musical theater buff, which is why he liked yesterday's fine-but-not-great puzzle over today's, which was much more clever and challenging (in a good way). There are things to quibble about (and if you're looking for quibbling, you came to the right website!), but this was a very fun puzzle. Thank you, Emily Carroll!

Anoa Bob 1:12 PM  

I knew this would be a verbis (with or by way of words) right away but that upper right, NE corner put a big damper on my ENTHUSIAM for the rest of the solve. "American Psycho novelist", "Smallest South Pacific nation", "Biblical mount", "Roman goddess..." and "Modern-day site of ancient Persepolis", all in one corner? Yikes! I didn't QUIT but I was concerned that any more proper name laden areas would kick my ASS.

I managed to cobble it all together even though I was unfamiliar with the RENT play and the grid spanning "Acclaimed HBO comedy series...". I respect the skill that constructing this one demanded but my lack of popular culture knowledge kept me from enjoying it as much as most of yous seemed to have.

Hey Roo @ 9:33, no need to apologize to me about crosswords misusing the Latin rebus (with or by way of things). I have no personal stake in this issue. I just think it's wrong (and explain why at Rebusgate). If anyone deserves an apology, it's the linguists, philologists and other scholars who study how abstract alphabets developed out of ancient hieroglyphic and pictographic systems. The key to unlocking that mystery is the Rebus Principle and it has nothing to do with multiple letters or words in single squares in a crossword puzzle.

I think it's ironic that we often see respect for ancient Latin and Greek words and phrases in other crossword contexts but that seems to go out the window when it comes to rebus.

Teedmn 1:12 PM  

I had great fun with this puzzle - that yesterday's got POW and today's didn't, well, Emily, I think you was robbed!

I was feeling very stumped when nothing I proposed as an answer could be confirmed by crosses. LIAR, but RAy doesn't work with 17A; SOPS gave me no traction so I left it out, um, I guess I gave up already at that point and went with the obvious Mayor PETE. From there I worked over to CATSCAN and got my first rebus. Unfortunately, I had put in the very possible CORTEs for 33D and the baseball PLAY continued to be a mystery until the very end. I finally threw myself a sop with SOPS and was able to parse what I consider a very tricky clue for PIETA. Also the very tricky, for me, clue for SEESAW (more of a playground board but then you don't get the play on words of "school board".)

At least I found all of the rebuses relatively easily once I knew to look for them. Loved finding my last one, EVITA, which explained why my RAy guess wouldn't work.

Emily Carroll, thank you for the lovely Thursday surprise.

Liveprof 1:33 PM  

After crying for a while, are you lachrymoist?

I had to buy a new microwave oven today and was told to get a Whirlpool. I was hoping the salesman's name would be Eddie.

Dan 1:35 PM  

I had almost the same experience as Nancy, except that I was stuck forever before figuring out CATSUP, having SCAN in place like Rex, and racking my brain for a burger condiment that starts with SU. I stuck it in my Favorite Puzzles folder before I even finished.

Brilliantly made in terms of solver experience in my opinion.

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

The Cats one was brutal because SCAN was legitimate and I just assumed that SUP was some new gen-z way of saying ketchup.

CDilly52 2:16 PM  

My perfect Thursday! A rebus, a clever rebus. A rebus puzzle that includes two of my passions: theatre and baseball. A rebus puzzle with chuckle inducing word play. A rebus with a reveal that ties all of the above together with a bow on top, our runner sliding elegantly if dustily into second as the ump’s arms stretch out wide while he yells out saaaaafe!!

Unfortunately, I got the rebus immediately at LEVITATE, noticed it spelled out “Evita,” and that gave me the fervent (yes, wholehearted and absolutely fervent) hope that the remaining rebus squares would be theatrical presentations. And the remaining rebus squares did not disappoint. THAI RESTAURANT took me a few downs to get the rebus jn the right spot. I like that! The toughie though was like a “Where’s Waldo” puzzle. While CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM was most likely a gimme for anyone who enjoys humor, Larry David or both, finding the rebus was the challenge. Silly me, I kept trying to find a show title in one of the words-duh! And the oh so clever “Biblical mount” clue did not make that little area fall immediately. However, when I did get ASS, I laughed out loud.

I made myself go in an orderly fashion down through the grid because I wanted the enjoyment to last. Like an adult slowly opening a gift without tearing the beautiful wrapping and rolling the ribbon for future use, I solved slowly and deliberately, and the anticipation mounted. I kept up hopes that this would be a “complete” Thursday rebus. Great clues, interesting and theme-worthy rebus squares, and please, please, please oh please a reveal that is the elegant bow on the gift, the cherry on the sundae, the gold medal . . . and there it was SQUEEZE PLAY!!!!! Everything a Thursday lover could hope for plus as @Rex notes, the connection to the Squeeze album, “Play.” Hopefully some of you know our constructor and can ask whether a connection was intentional.

Emily Carroll, you nailed it! You are my Thursday Superhero. You tossed those golden lariats around words to SQUEEZE them into a glorious theme as you cleverly PLAY with our minds; a diversion here, a pun there and just to remind us that this is a crossword, you garnished the grid with one of my very favorite crossword “words,” as if to tie this all together: AGLETS.


Geezer 2:24 PM  

Here's another take that I ran across.

In a very general sense, a musical tells a story with song and even dancing, while a play typically sticks to spoken dialogue. However, a musical has a play within it, because of the scripted dialogue.

CDilly52 2:26 PM  

A fellow puzzler and cat lover reminds me that when choosing a furry family member “rescue and shelter are the finest breeds.” I lost my avatar cat this time last year. Her “shelter sister” and I are thinking about a new addition ourselves. Condolences on your loss and best wishes.

OISK 2:34 PM  

As is often the case, @Nancy speaks for me. I really enjoyed this one,despite never having heard of Ali Wong, nor Clea DuVall...My only objection, as a "Patron of the Trots..." is that at Yonkers Raceway, we never considered a trot to be "leisurely." It is a very specific gait, as opposed to a "pace," and while slower than a gallop, (which is not allowed in harness racing) is pretty rapid! Wonderful puzzle.

Noah Webster 2:47 PM  

Have checked 3 dictionaries & they all define PLAY as follows: a piece of writing that is intended to be acted in a theater or on radio or television.

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

✋for Tom Yum soup! It makes or breaks a Thai restaurant for me 😏

Carolita 3:16 PM  

Belated Happy New Year to all! Emily, what a fabulous, fabulous puzzle. I loved its cleverness in spite of being so stumped in the NW that I had to check this blog for liar, Rae, and levitate. I had soonest, oh, the woe!! And I had to google Clea. But to my credit, I got the other 3 plays, just didn't see that they were plays, even after getting squeeze plays, was relating more to the squeeze than to the plays. Such a fun solve. More, more, more!

@Lewis, all the best to you on your rescue dog. We've had ours, a poodle mix, for four years now and feel she is the most perfect dog ever. She was rescued from Coca-Cola Beach in Thailand, so we call her Cokey. Let us know how your trip goes and all about your new dog.

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

✋for ketchup vs catsup! But perhaps it should be spelled "katchup" which is how many people pronounce it - myself included 😀

Carola 3:55 PM  

My favorite sort of layout for a rebus puzzle, where the tricky squares aren't distributed symmetrically and you have to be on alert throughout - increasing both the fun and the difficulty (e.g., SCAN v CATSCAN).
I groped my way in theme darkness to about the halfway-down point, unable to see how THAI RESTAURANT was going to fit and flummoxed in the NW, where RAy was definitely not helping. Anyway, I managed to find my way to EVITA, and that opened the door to HAIR, which I thought had the most ingenious cross of the bunch, with that devilish COCHAIRS. After the much easier RENT, needed the clue for the reveal to prod me to search for the last CATS. Cute reveal, wish the music could have been factored in. Appreciate learning from @Rex what a SQUEEZE PLAY is.

Weezie 4:04 PM  

I was beginning to worry that I only liked puzzles when they were in my easy-to-medium range, but this was brutal, and I LOVED it. I had less time this morning than usual, which means I wound up solving so late in the day that truly all of the original points I would have made already have shared. But I'm very glad to see I'm in good company with both the NW and SE struggles.

@Okanaganer, fwiw, MAYA and INCA aren't kealoas. The Inca people were indigenous to Peru, where they built Machu Picchu, as well as much of the central west coast and Andes regions of South America. The Maya lived and still live from the Yucatan peninsula (SE México) down into Northern El Salvador and Honduras - basically the northern part of Central America.

Not that this will help for historical Indigenous peoples and nations, but is an interactive map that is a great jumping off point for those of us who want to learn more about Indigenous history and present, even if just to help with our crosswording!

And good luck with the pup @Lewis. I just celebrated my 10 year adoptiversary of my 11-year-old 85 boxer-greyhound mix, Smoky - he is the actual best.

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

A big DNF for me. Thought SUP was a weird abbreviation for catsup and couldn’t figure out where the fourth play belonged. The A in the CATH/AGLETS was a guess as was the L in CLEA.

Unknown 4:47 PM  

Delightful Thursday puzzle. Tough enough, very rewarding.

Anonymous 6:47 PM  

With regard to your comment about the cover of the album by Squeeze: Samuel Beckett has a play called _Play_. It features 3 characters in "3 identical grey urns, about one yard high. From each a head protrudes." If you look up Beckett's play by that name, you'll get to an image on the cover of the first edition to which the Squeeze cover might allude. Its title certainly seems to nod in that direction, at least.

Dan 7:53 PM  

I, too, agree with the sentiment that I think Jeff Chen missed the mark this time. This puzzle was by far the POW (so far, anyway).

Emily, if you're reading this... you knocked it out of the PARK!

Dan 7:55 PM  

Lewis to the rescue! From hopeless to a home...


Pete 8:31 PM  

@Musicals aren't PLAYS! folk.

My perusal of all* dictionaries, everywhere**, has that they all attest a PLAY as being any performance produced on a stage, some preferentially prefer a dramatic performance, but far more make no reference of dramatic context than those that do. According to them, a PLAY is merely a theatrical production.

All who are objecting to a musical being called a PLAY, is a comedy a PLAY? They're not dramas, which seems to be your determining factor of being a play. Shakespeare wrote comedies, were they not PLAYS? Almost all of Shaw's theatrical works were at least half comedic, were they not PLAYS? However comedies are not dramas, so according to your theory, they are not PLAYS.

They Tony Awards differentiate between PLAYS and Musicals, perhaps contributing to the distinction some are making. I would guess that this has more to do with marketing than anything else.

* All dictionaries is, by my definition, all that I found online in the time frame I allotted myself for this inane activity.
** Everywhere is, by definition, the subset of everywhere contained in the above.

Anonymous 8:48 PM  

Can someone tell me what a “WOE” is in the context of these comments? Thanks.

Michael 10:33 PM  

Is there anything less interesting than NYs sense of self-importance about musicals? Unsubscribe.

Anonymous 11:03 PM  

I like to think I’m generally quick and savvy on these, so at 30min of circling a 3/4 grid between emails while working late, I was starting to get really annoyed and frustrated on this one. But once again I was done in by letting a puzzle exploit my biggest weakness: getting stuck in a rut of my own making, and then being slow to switch gears.

Kept looking for what I thought would be a consistent pattern of missing letters (after misreading a clue), then tried to connect similars like tHAI and Thus, but was only running at the same wall. Finally gave myself a shake and said just start laying down the missing letters into rebus squares, and see what you have. Got RENT then HAIR then CATS…(which, at first just sounded like apartment living), then EVITA brought the first facepalm. “Oh, ok! …but how does Broadway fit? Or musicals? Or…I don’t see the patt—omg…”

I give this one extra props for first making me so annoyed (due only to my own “harrumph”-ness), and forcing me to unwind my own tangled thread. But then for providing a revealer so delightful as to balm the ensuing facepalm(s). Nice. Thanks, Emily Carroll.

dgd 12:05 AM  

Perhaps no one will read this but I did look up a term I remember
running into, especially from quotes from the past: musical play. The OED online lists musical play, musical show and musical as synonyms. My guess is musical is a shortening of musicsl play because in the 20's that was a common term for them. People do love to shorten things.
I think it is a bit of an overreaction to get upset about the puzzle referring to a musical (play) as a play.

J.W. 1:10 AM  

People who announce to everyone that they're unsubscribing, for one.

Anonymous 1:36 AM  

Hated every minute of this one. Ugh.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

I loved about 85% of this puzzle. I don’t see the them on my phone, but it wouldn’t have helped. I was mostly until too middle section. I never did figure out the rebus, but managed to finish puzzle by googling “South Pacific nation” and “Veep” cast.

Laura Klotz 2:04 PM  

I eventually figured out the theme of the puzzle, but what I couldn't understand was how to actually put in the answers without using the revealer. I ended up having to do that just to complete the darn thing.

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

Incans weren’t Mexican, but Andean.

Milwaukee Talkie 3:53 PM  

Once you discovered your first play, did you correctly guess what the other three would be?

Also, did your COCHAIRS aggravate your HEATRASH?

spacecraft 11:00 AM  

Hah! Yesterday Jackie ROSEN, today Catherine CORTEZ-Masto! Our state is well represented--back to back! And a DOD to you too, CCM!

That Z gave me the revealer line immediately, so that was the easy part. Filling it all in, however, was way tougher than medium, with all those unknown PPPs. I put it at medium-challenging.

The one in the middle soon came to light, so I knew we were dealing with PLAYs. (I don't understand the quibble over "play vs. musical." All musicals are plays; not all plays are musicals. Logic 101.) The other plays were harder to uncover, and I had to write over the Y of RAy--as I'm sure scores of others did as well. Bit of a nasty clue there, at 4-down.

Finishing with only three rebi, I was puzzled. I assumed SCAN was fine for the clue, and that SUP was some little-used (or maybe very new) shorthand for ketchup. But then I wondered: why didn't she use CATS? Great play, and should be easy to incorporate into longer entries. And then I saw it: THAT was MY aha moment! It was the old (and correct) spelling of CATSUP. Haven't seen that in decades.

To pick a nit: the CATH lab is really an operating room, with all the attendant sterilization safeguards. I oughta know, I have six stents holding my aorta together. Anyway, birdie.

Only my fourth Wordle DNF ever; sure glad I posted stats yesterday!

Diana, LIW 2:07 PM  

Like @Spacey, I had the SCAN/SUP cross - but I kept it.

I hate rebi. Rebium. Rebellas. Whatever they be, they be evil. That's all.

Add in a ton of PPP and we are NOT off to the races.

Hope none of the other SyndieCats ever need a CATH lab, but if you do, they are a great OR invention. (no - I don't have a stent but know many who do)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

thefogman 2:25 PM  

Easy-medium? No way! One of the toughest Thursdays in a very long time. To me, it could have been a hard Saturday. I got stuck in various spots where the rebuses (rebi) were lurking. But the hardest part of the solve was (like Rex) the NW corner. I agree that RAE is bad - or at least the cluing is. Another flaw is the fact that the rebus in that corner is EVITA which is five letters long unlike all the others rebuses. That makes it an irritating outlier. Aside from that it was alright, but with a bit more surgical editing it could have been great.

thefogman 2:34 PM  

PS - I should have said the puzzle was pretty, pretty, pretty good in honour of the Great Larry David creator and star of CURBYOURENTHUSIASM.

Burma Shave 3:14 PM  

And so begins year 9


CURB being a USER of STOLI,
leave it UNOPENED and SOBERUP.


rondo 3:22 PM  

DNF on today's puz. Not much more than ABS west of AGLETS. It just wasn't coming to me.
Wordle par. As a relative latecomer I need thirty-some more attempts to check a '4 tourney score'.

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