EMT's apparatus informally / THU 12-7-23 / Pseudoscientific process hinted at by four squares in this puzzle / Reputation ruiner / Persian suffix meaning land / Vegetable sometimes called ladies' fingers / Dr. Honeydew Muppet partner of Beaker / Complete stranger in slang

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Constructor: Rebecca Goldstein

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: ALCHEMY (36A: Pseudoscientific process hinted at by four squares in this puzzle) — a rebus (i.e. multiple-letters-in-one-square) puzzle where you gotta change lead (PB) (in the Across) into gold (AU) (in the Down) in order to make sense of the answers at four different junctures:

Theme answers:
  • RAP BATTLE (23A: Certain freestyle competition) / CAFE AU LAIT (3D: Alternative to a latte or flat white)
  • ROOFTOP BAR (18A: Alfresco drinking establishment) / "USA! USA!" (11D: Patriotic World Cup chant)
  • PUSH-UP BRA (50A: Undergarment providing a lift) / MAKE A U-TURN (32D: Reverse course)
  • POP BOTTLES (56A: Soda containers, in the Midwest) / TEA URN (49D: Caterer's container)

[NOTE: if you are solving online or in the app, you need to put a slash between PB and AU in the rebus squares in order for your puzzle to be counted “correct”—so, “PB/AU”—apparently simple “AU” or “PB” works as well ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿป ]

Word of the Day:
ELOTE (7D: Grilled corn, as a Mexican street food) —

In Central America (except Panama) and Mexico, an ear of corn, on or off the plant, is called elote (from the Nahuatl elotitutl 'tender cob'). This term is also used in Mexican and Central American communities in the United States. [...] In some regions of Mexico, elotes are sold in the street from food carts by stationary or mobile eloteros. The vendors offer a choice of hard or soft, small or large kernels, and seasonings, sour cream, mayonnaise, liquid cheese, chile powder, grated cheese, or butter. The elotes are kept hot by putting them in the brazier where they were cooked and are generally served soon after they are cooked. The elotes are usually boiled and transported wrapped in the husks, because cooking them in the husks gives them more flavor.
• • •

I really enjoyed this one, though it was way, way too easy, and the revealer (ALCHEMY) was a little straightforward and flat. It's also kind of ... ISH. I mean, you don't "turn lead into gold" so much as allow lead and gold to occupy the same box—that's more simultaneous existence than transformation. Also, if, as a solver, I am indeed changing one element into another, why am I changing lead into gold any more than I'm changing gold into lead. I guess the assumption is that Across comes first, Down second, but I definitely got AU first (with CAFE AU LAIT) and had to "change" it to PB to make sense of RAP BATTLE. So the revealer assumes a directionality (from this to that) that the solving experience doesn't necessarily provide. And again, ALCHEMY is also not the most dynamic of revealers, in that I could tell very early on that there was an AU/PB thing going on. But ... I'm also not sure what else the revealer could've been, and not every solver will be like me (sussing out the theme within the first minute or so, before ever hitting the revealer), so it's fine. The revealer (ideally) gets you to the PB->AU gimmick, if you weren't already there, and that's all it really has to do. It doesn't have to be flashy. The flash is in how the grid handles those rebus squares, and man does it handle them well. Earlier in the week we had a puzzle where the theme restrictions really worked against the quality of the theme answers, but today, the opposite somehow happens, in that we end up getting some real winners, like ROOFTOP BAR and PUSH-UP BRA and RAP BATTLE and MAKE A U-TURN, which, though I don't love it as an answer, definitely "hides" the AU in the cleverest way, and makes me feel grateful that for once I'm seeing a U-TURN in a puzzle that isn't a UEY (or, worse, a UIE—y'all went nuts in the comments yesterday over horrible TEC, which I have complained about in the past, possibly within the past week, but when you are talking about "Worst Fill Ever," have some respect and remember that UIE exists). 

The most impressive thing about the grid is something decidedly non-flashy, something it's not apt to get credit for, which is how whisper-quiet the ride is, given the demands of the theme. You've got four double-themers taking up huge chunks of space in all quadrants of the grid, plus the revealer anchored in the middle. and the grid ... barely squeaks or rattles. What am I gonna yell at? ISH SUI HTTP AHI ALOE? Why? They're common, yes, but they're a. real, not crosswords-only garbage, and b. they're short and well dispersed and therefore not a distraction from the main attraction. It's Such A Polished Grid. You Love To See It. It often takes a lot of work to get a theme-dense grid to come out clean—not flashy, but clean—so the accomplishment can go unnoticed. Well I am noticing it. And I'm grateful. Plus I actually do get some flash, in STROLLED IN (swagger!) and I HAD TO (self-confidence!) and POOL TOY (swimming!) and BUNSEN Honeydew (science!).

I did not know REB was a [Talmudic honorific], though having encountered REBBE in a Dell Crossword Puzzles book yesterday, I wasn't caught totally off guard. This definition of REB allows you to bypass the whole Civil War angle, which I'm fine with ("Johnny REB is the national personification of the common soldier of the Confederacy" (wikipedia)). The trickiest square in the grid, for me—the one where I kinda held my breath and hoped it was right—was the "X" at PHX / LUX. For the most part, I don't know the names of airports beyond some common three-letter codes, and the word "Harbor" in the clue for this one did not exactly scream "Phoenix!" (30D: Code for Sky Harbor Airport), so I had PHI in there at first. But LUI really seemed wrong for 42A: Illumination unit, so I pulled it and went with the "X"—LUX means "light" in Latin, so I figured that was the better guess, even though I had no idea LUX was a "unit" of any kind. I know the LUMEN and then I'm fresh out of light-related units, I think. No other significant struggles, though. As I say—too easy for a Thursday, but satisfying nonetheless. Great craftsmanship on display here. A nice variation on the Schrรถdinger puzzle theme type (where different letters are correct in both directions). Today's the last teaching day of the semester, so it's nice to have a puzzle to kick-start the good vibes! See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 5:51 AM  

My only overwrite was bOdE before WOVE for "Loomed" at 60A

I realized early on that 3D had to be CAFE [AU] LAIT, but I was stumped by 23A, where the [AU] rebus made no sense. Then I found ALCHEMY at 36A and the bulb lit up. After that it was a matter of finding the [AU/PB] squares. Since the 36A clue told us there were four, this became a fairly easy Thursday.

@Anon 7:22 AM yesterday: It wasn't COIA. The third letter was a lower case L. COLA/COCA was a kealoa for the half soft drink, but I used a small L to signify that the letter was incorrect. Damn those sans serif fonts!

Anonymous 6:09 AM  

I can't get my NYT app to acknowledge a correct fill. I have all rebus answers in PBAU order. Any suggestions?

Anonymous 6:18 AM  

Annoying that the slash in PB/AU was necessary---PBAU didn't work---costing me a few minutes to check everything first.

Dale Gribble 6:22 AM  


I am doing the online version but I keep getting a message that the puzzle isn't right, yet I have checked it a thousand times. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG!?

Jim 6:23 AM  

In the app I entered only PB as a rebus, which the app alchemically (apparently if not visibly) transformed into AU.

Would have been super easy except for figuring this out, which made it only kinda easy but fun.

Anonymous 6:26 AM  

I’m having the same issue!

Anonymous 6:27 AM  

Fixed it - I just wrote “p” in every square and it worked.

Anonymous 6:29 AM  


Anonymous 6:36 AM  

Ugh the predictable chorus of “why won’t the app accept my answers?!” You’d think the NYTXW would foresee this and have it sorted but %&$! no of course not. So now instead of talking about how good the puzzle is, people are just flailing and shouting about the tech ๐Ÿคฎ ~RP

Anonymous 6:46 AM  

Beautiful puzzle - amazing that such a demanding theme didn’t compromise the quality of the fill.

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

lum lux maybe ?

Anonymous 6:55 AM  

Same :-(

thfenn 6:57 AM  

I thought this was lovely. Was zipping thru thinking this was easy, hit some road bumps around 2-3 of those '4 squares', couldn't quite nail down what to do, got the reveal (boldly and nicely sitting there dead center), and then wrapped it up. Perfect. And fun! My only frustration was I went with LUm and didn't spend enough time thinking about whether PHm was an airport, but got there eventually. Great start to the day.

Anonymous 7:01 AM  

I just put AU and that worked

Anonymous 7:03 AM  

I only entered AU, and I got the happy music.
I’ve found that entering one version of the rebus answer always works in the app.
Cute puzzle, really enjoyed it.

kitshef 7:13 AM  

Liked this one a lot. I think this Rebecca Leadstein has a real future in crossword construction.

I’ve never heard of "Eighth Grade", let alone ELSIE Fisher. And ELOTE was also new for me. In both cases, crosses were fair.

LUX crossing PHX seems a little Natick-y, airport codes being basically anything. And maybe crossing BEALE and BUNSEN, both with kid-stuff clues, was questionable.

But all forgiven for a nice theme.

Son Volt 7:14 AM  

There is nothing changed here - we get both LEAD and GOLD. Rex hinted at it but didn’t quite fully develop his critique. The actual ALCHEMY would require a letter string replacement of PB with AU. The conceit is flawed from the start.

Overall fill is smooth - but pedestrian. Two muppet clues? Doubling down on RAP BATTLE this week. I liked LIARS, CLUSTER and the cluing on WOVE.

No magic here.

Richard Lloyd

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

Thank you! Not satisfying a free solving but that kept the streak alive

Anonymous 7:18 AM  

Precisely. First time I've ever used a "/" in a rebus that worked, I think.

SouthsideJohnny 7:38 AM  

This seems like a bit of a misfire from Rebecca, but still a high quality offering. Backed into ELOTE (?) and just groaned - can’t we please have English words in our crossword (for the 10,000th time). RANDO is another bit of a dud as well. I also think Rebecca was done a disservice by the NYT since the app would only except PB/AU with the stupid slash in the middle - which kind of left a bad taste about the whole endeavor.

Anonymous 7:40 AM  

Great puzzle, though easy for a Thursday. My only error was LUX/PHX, which I had originally filled in as LUM (short for Lumen?). Because I don't know airport codes, PHM seemed as reasonable as anything else.

Anonymous 7:48 AM  

Just saying, Rex, that I think people would mostly want to turn lead into gold rather than vice versa. I enjoyed this puzzle!

Lewis 7:48 AM  

Lovely combination of art and science, the art of constructing melded with a science theme.

Art of constructing? There are a massive 69 theme squares, yet the grid is so smooth and clean, not to mention being sparked by lovely answers FLAIL, CLUSTER, STROLL IN, PLOP, and most of the theme answers. How did she do that? Then, after all this, the rebus squares are symmetrical. Wow!

Science? Well, Rebecca is a research scientist. Enough said.

I like Rebecca’s cluing as well. One of hers that I especially enjoyed, from a February puzzle, was [Exquisitely made basket], for DUNK.

Addenda: That tricky X-box today could have been avoided by substituting LAD for LUX. Although I was happy to learn the name of the airport I’ll be flying into later this month.

My heart smiled and let out a “Whee!” when I saw your name atop the puzzle today, Rebeccca, and once again, you came through. You are a genuine Crosslandia gift. Thank you!

Kid Phoneme 7:50 AM  

Let's the messy part out of the way.

I finished the puzzle last night and no happy music. It's a rebus, so I had to wonder is it me or the NYT SITE? It seemed like I might never know. I went to sleep and forgot about the whole thing only to come here and see Rex talk about the LUX/PHX cross, which I'd noted as a potential Natick early in my solve when I not-so-confidently filled LUm in, then never circled back. (Meanwhile, I did manage to give feed the Rebus Monster an answer it was willing to parse: AU/PB) And so but, a DNF for me but I blame this one on the Times.

Loved the puzzle. Didn't mind the easy fill so much, but I'm not a master-puzzler like some of y'all. The rebus was enough resistance to make this one fun for me. I followed a little crack of fill (not unlike the gold in a kintsugi vase) from the center-north down to the revealer. From there is was pretty smooth sailing, once I figured out/(remembered?) PB is the atomic symbol for lead.

I love Beaker and BUNSEN. I love a Campari Spritz on a ROOFTOPBAR. I'd probably argue a CAFEAULAIT is never an alternative to a latte, but it was fun to have my memory jogged about Epic RAPBATTLEs from History.

Yesterday, many of us gave Haight hell over was seemed like a leaden vanity plate of a puzzle. Today Rebecca Goldstein snuck in touches AU filigree all over her puzzle. It's that's a bit of vanity, that's how it's done.

Lewis 7:50 AM  

@kitshef -- "Leadstein" -- Hah! Good one!

Kier Kegaard 8:06 AM  

Agita and ANGST are really two very different things, though in typical faddish American usage, ANGST, a term with a very specific meaning in philosophy and the humanities, has been reduced and transformed to the point of castration into to mere everyday agita by the same crowd that keeps "begging the question."

This is what comes from abandonment of the humanities, and leaving us only with STEM and our phones.

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

Agree with Rex! This was the most delight I’ve gotten from a rebus in a while, with a genuine aha moment. The one big flop for me was the ultimate lame clue on POP BOTTLES—should be a verb, as in opening champagne a la Birdman and Lil Wayne, not midwestern soda containers! Such an underwhelming move (see https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_K6MoWuAXjQ)

Andy Freude 8:12 AM  

I’m happy for the folks who found this easy, and sad for the folks who had app troubles. I entered “PB” and everything was fine. Started with RAP BATTLE and took a while to figure out the theme, which I found clever and fun — something I rarely say of Thursdays, usually my least favorite day of the week.

One nit: I had to finish by running the alphabet for PH_ / LU_. Sigh.

@kitshef: “Eighth Grade” is a good movie. Check it out.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

I was trying to find my mistake, looked at answer key here. I should have read the comments but now I have a different problem. I clicked Check Puzzle and then Reveal Puzzle. But the timer is still going!!

MissScarlet 8:21 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny: in the west ‚elote‘ has become a widely used and accepted English word.
Agree about the slashes.

Edward 8:22 AM  

I had this puzzle solved and got the message "one square is amiss." Spent two minutes looking for an error, found none. Revealed puzzle, lost streak. I typed "PBAU" into the rebus squares and got dinged for not having a slash between B and A (PB/AU). I'm sorry but that's ridiculous.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

I ADORED this puzzle, and I’m very glad to see that Rex did as well. A good part of my admiration for this one is that I’ve wanted to make an alchemy puzzle for a long time, but I could never quite figure out a satisfying way to do it.

A much needed palate cleanser after yesterday. I usually need a week after a Haight puzzle to overcome the trauma and trust that the constructor has actually encountered and used English before.

mmorgan 8:41 AM  

Really nice puzzle! That’s all I have to say.

Bob Mills 8:41 AM  

Rex Parker is showing off his knowledge of metallic symbols here. This puzzle was NOT EASY. If you asked 100 people at random what the symbol for lead was, maybe two or three would know the answer is PB. Where does that appear except in a textbook? Do we ever encounter it outside a classroom?

I figured out all the AU squares, but nothing made sense to me in the other direction. Without knowing the symbol for lead (I knew it in chemistry class, but that was back in the 1950s), it was just another Thursday failure.

The good news is, tomorrow we get a real crossword puzzle.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  


you need to put a / between the pb and the au in the online puzzle to make it work. (PB/AU)

RooMonster 9:00 AM  

Hey All !
The ole "turn lead into gold" trick. They are only one (whatever makes elements, ala DNA) apart, in case you didn't know. (Obviously, I don't know the terminology!)

Ah, Rebecca is a Rex friend, hence the nice review. Don't get me wrong, the puz was a good Rebus and nice puz, but I think Rex sugarcoated his review. Just sayin'. No offense, Rex! ๐Ÿ˜

Ended up with the one-letter DNF at PHi/LUi. Dang, I should've known Sky Harbor was in Phoenix. Head slap on that one. LIMO driver for many years, plus I'm basically in the next major town west of PHX.

I liked this puz. Reminds me of the quirky 1991 movie, Hudson Hawk, starring Bruce Willis (he even still had hair!) Wacky movie, but a hoot if you like strangeness.

Anyway, y'all have a great Thursday.

Five F's

RooMonster 9:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael 9:10 AM  

Online version can go pound sand. I blew a streak on this because I couldn't for the life of me get it to work (I thought my "PBAU" rebus was right. the "reveal" was "PB/AU" and the slash was apparently GRAVELY important)

Nancy 9:11 AM  

Brilliant, Rebecca. Just brilliant!

But it took a long time for the scales to fall from my eyes. "What, exactly, IS it that happens in ALCHEMY?" I was asking myself. I couldn't for the life of me remember. And, meanwhile, I wanted 3D to be CAFE AU LAIT, but it didn't fit, so I tried CAFE bLAck, which fit but didn't work. ROOFTOP BAR didn't fit and PUSH UP BRA didn't fit and I knew by then it was a rebus involving PB, but couldn't make the Downs work, and then...

OMG! The Downs are AU!!! AU is gold!!! And PB is...lead!!!! Yes, that's what ALCHEMY is!!!! Turning lead into gold!!!!!

A rebus where the Downs and Acrosses are doing different things is my idea of rebus puzzle "royalty". One of my all-time faves is the TT/Pi Sunday puzzle of yore. I don't remember much, but I imagine I'll remember this puzzle too. Wonderful Thursday.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Loom does not mean to weave. No one says “l loomed a rug.”

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Putting in just Pb also works. This is common with rebus puzzles.

Sutsy 9:24 AM  

Great puzzle, totally ruined by the LUX/PHX cross. What a shame.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Elote is a pretty common term in any American city with a large Spanish speaking population, which is most of them.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Elote is a street food sold all over the country that has become a fairly common “English” word. Would you complain about TORTILLA or SUSHI? Just because you personally aren’t familiar with the word doesn’t make it inherently foreign.

gfrpeace 9:45 AM  

Annoyance, off-topic: the Times seems to have decided suddenly this week that at least some of us who pay for having a dead-tree paper delivered every morning can do as well getting 2 papers delivered every other morning. Which means I've read the replica edition online twice this week, and printed the puzzle off from that. I think they assume that all of us who read the replica edition are old and decrepit, the puzzle comes out with the clues in something like 16 point type. Which I have to admit is kind of nice....

Tina 9:46 AM  

I use the Times app to solve puzzles. Can anyone tell me what the convention is for entering a rebus? If I do it like Rex I get an error. I have to use a slash / instead. Drives me crazy every time I see a Thursday rebus. I also do puzzles in across light app and it has its own way of doing things. I wish these apps would come up with some standardization for entering a rebus.

Tim 9:58 AM  

Don't love using Go Set a Watchmen for Harper LEE given she likely was taken advantage of and never wanted it published. Enjoyed the puzzle otherwise though!

DCDeb 9:59 AM  

Very enjoyable puzzle, no complaints.

Photomatte 10:00 AM  

The only alchemy being practiced here was trying to turn a weak puzzle into a Thursday puzzle by adding a rebus ... then the rebus, just like alchemy, didn't work. Having to add the / mark between each PBAU pairing negated the entire theme! This felt gimmicky from the start.

andrew 10:01 AM  

Very clever (and hardly Easy!) Thursday.


FLAILed in parsing the iPad rebus until I remembered Walden and the redundant quote, “simplify, simplify”. As suspected, NYT took the simple P (they must use “P”ass/FLAIL grading).

Enjoyed this Thoreau-ly!

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

The theme works if you just write PB in the acrosses and don’t fill in AU for the downs. That way, you have lead in the puzzle that turns into gold when you read the downs.

Joe 10:15 AM  

I was aware of the Rebus, but unsure of what order to enter it. Also worried about using a slash or not. I decided to just finish the puzzle with just the 4 “P”s. If II didn’t get the music and Congratulations, then I would have tried various permutations of P, B, A, and U with and without the slash. But I got the music and Congratulations with just the 4 “P”s. Weird.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

If the National Recovery Administration has to go from crossword word lists, what about CHE, the murderous terrorist?

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

Me, too

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Thanks. That helped

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

The reason it’s pb first and au second is because “alchemy” means turning things into gold - it doesn’t work the other way around

Anonymous 10:23 AM  


pabloinnh 10:26 AM  

No app problems here as I took my pencil, drew a diagonal line from top to bottom in a square, put AU in the top and PB in the bottom and voila! This is after I figured out what was going on, of course, which was a delightful aha! moment, and that is exactly the best kind of Thursday.

Some dismay early when both a Ms. Fanning and a Ms. Fisher showed up, who were both unknown to me, not their fault, I'm sure. Add Ms. SUI a bit later, but that was the end of unfamiliar proper names.

Learned ELOTE back in my Spanish teaching days, and now it's pretty common fill.

And I think(empty) POPBOTTLES should be clued as "The only thing John Prine would kill in Paradise County.

I thought this was a great Thursday, RG. Rebus Greatness, IMHO, and thanks for all the fun.

Whatsername 10:28 AM  

I fully and accurately expected Rex and the commentariat to love this one. I found it to be a little more of a challenge than most but admit it was quite satisfying to figure out. And I do love a Thursday rebus, especially when they work so cleverly in both directions like this. POP BOTTLES/TEA URN was my favorite theme combo. Someone in the comments suggested that was a bad clue but I completely disagree. Having spent most of my life in the Midwest I can vouch for the fact that it is SPOT on. You might sip soda in other parts but around here, you’ll more likely find a BOTTLE of POP on the menu.

It never occurred to me before today why an airport in Arizona would be called Sky Harbor, of all things. Why, in a landlocked SITE where the surrounding landscape is the opposite of a seaport? A quick google search tells me that no one else really seems to know either.

Beezer 10:33 AM  

This puzzle was a delight to solve and my experience with the puzzle was very much like @Rex and others EXCEPT I figured out the ALCHEMY/PB(across)AU (down) with ROOFTOPBAR/USAUSA, which helped me figure out the previously inscrutable CAFEAULAIT. I confess. I was left with a Natick and DNF in the middle because I was unfamiliar with Sky Harbor Airport and EVEN though I know LUX means light in Latin, my brain was stuck on lumens. D’oh…when I cheated to get the airport code I did an eyeroll at myself since X is often used in airport codes like LAX. Since I do not care an iota about streaks and whatnot, this didn’t ruin my delight with the puzzle…thank you Ms. Goldstein! (and good one @kishef)

@Southside…today you learned about ELOTES. Every day you/I/we learn something is a good day in my book!

Gary Jugert 10:46 AM  

Wonderful puzzle with the perennial challenge of entering the rebus in a way to please the app. Paper solvers for the win.

The HH discussion got pretty dark toward the end of yesterday.


1 Dyin' while rhymin'.
2 United States Congress.
3 Answer to "Why'd you do whatever you feel?"
4 Eat spaghetti with raise'uns.
5 CSI question after bear attack.
6 Retirement village.
7 Quality required with drunken parents.
8 A duck, a dragon, and a nerf football went into a bar.


My Fascinating Crossword Uniclue Keepsake from Last Year: Church pot luck. GYMNASIUM FEAST.


jberg 10:47 AM  

Well, it had to be RAP BATTLE, so I spent a moment thinking this might be a Patrick Berry tribute--but then there was CAFE AU LAIT, and it was all clear, very early in the puzzle, so I didn't mind the early revealer.

I solved the entry problem by drawing a little gold ring in every rebus square. That seemed to work, at least for me. As for the units of light, I did start with LUMen, but reasoned that X punches above its weight in airport codes, so I changed it. Wasn't sure I was right until I came here.

I was once driving through the mountains in Namibia and was just telling my wife and son how much it looked like Montana--and just at that moment we rounded a turn and saw a giraffe standing there. Only one, though, I don't think they run to HERDS.

Question to ponder: why is the Y never the YWCA?

Lisa B 10:49 AM  

I clicked Reveal Puzzle but the timer is still ticking. I actually emailed their tech dept. This never happened before, there must be some big bug.
I think I might just clear it and start over? I don't get it

mathgent 10:57 AM  

Rex is a hoot! He complains that PB doesn't actually turn into AU.

What a beauty. Good crunch. Sparkly like a Friday. Smart cluing. My cup runneth over.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

Anyone else bothered by TEA URN? Seems a little GREEN PAINTy to me.

Also, I’ve always thought “Sky Harbor” was a nice bit of whimsy for an airport name. Maybe it’s trying too hard be cute, though.

Whatsername 10:59 AM  

@Beezer (10:33) So right about learning something new. When I got up this morning I had no idea what an ELOTE was and now I know it’s a very tasty-sounding ear of corn which I intend to try when the sweet corn is ready next summer. And thanks to Rex Parker, I didn’t even have to look it up. Simply amazing!

beverly c 11:00 AM  

Very enjoyable easy Thursday puzzle. No problem entering the rebus squares.

I'm with Lewis, the theme answers were entertaining, and I didn’t mind that the rebus square was repeated - it was perfect for the revealer. ALCHEMY was all and only about turning PB into AU! How else to get your chemistry research funded? It has to make someone rich.

I'm surprised and dismayed by all the grumbling over PHX. The fifth biggest city in the US by population! And didn’t anyone notice the lovely poetic imagery of an airport named Sky Harbor?

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

It works for me with a slash. PB/AU

Kate Esq 11:07 AM  

I figured out the theme pretty early - wanted USA USA but not enough letters - after a couple crosses, I figured there was a rebus (which I was thrilled about. We’ve gone too long without one - perfect for Thursday). I thought it might be elements or metals at first, but when I tried (and failed) to make “Roof Restaurant” fit, and realized that my initial guess of “ROOF TOP BAR” was correct, I immediately spotted the lead/gold bit and figured alchemy was playing a role. Then it was off to the races. Fun, satisfying, and tricky enough that I got to pat myself on the back for being clever, without being a painful slog.

jae 11:08 AM  

Pretty easy except for figuring out how to fill in the rebus squares. I left them blank until I hit the reveal and then it all made sense. I used a / to separate AU/PB and it worked just fine. Looks liked other solutions also worked.

Very clever and fun, liked it a bunch!

Did not know ELOTE

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Agree with most of you that this was an outstanding Thursday puzz. I knew both LUX and PHX, so was surprised by the amount of perplexity the “X- box” caused. Finished with no help from Google—not that there’s anything wrong with that. Time was about a minute less than Thu average.

The times app seems to me to be fairly consistent if not intuitive in how it expects rebus squares like today’s to be filled: Either of the rebus pair can be entered alone, or just the first letter of either, or the full combo separated by a slash. To me PBAU just does not look right. I used slashes, as I have previously, and all was well.


egsforbreakfast 11:14 AM  

@Rex and others who are concerned about the fact that having AU and PB in the same square doesn't accurately represent the alchemical process - - the clue says "... process hinted at ...". I think that the clue is unassailable.

This puzzle makes me begin to understand why I never took much to my mother's Pb & J sandwiches.

I never should have believed DEFIB my wife ELSIE told me as she left in her PUSHUPBRA for the HICKRAPBATTLE at the ROOFTOPBAR.

I was talking the other day to my friend Al Michaels. The conversation drifted, as conversations tend to do, toward famous revolutionaries that we've known and how they've been memorialized for posterity. Eventually, after Al bragged about his pal Fidel and the famous exploding cigar caper, I found myself countering "Hey AL. CHE MY buddy was the subject of the classic photo "Guerillero Heroico.""

If designer Anna married talk show host Ellen, her unique last name would be SUI Generis ..... almost.

This theme idea didn't seem promising at first, but eventually it lead to gold. Thanks for a fun puzzle, Rebecca Goldstein.

Kevin Uy 11:16 AM  

My only complaint is that I put PBAU in all the rebuses and it wasn't accepted, so I had to recheck the whole puzzle before finally erasing the AU parts to see if it was accepted (it was).

Bonnie Buratti 11:21 AM  

Damn - another Jewish howler (although not as bad as aleph appearing in "Torah" a while back). "Reb" is a Yiddishism. It never appears in the Talmud. Not once.

CT2Napa 11:22 AM  

Down the rabbit hole -- if you are interested in learning what the expressions "Lux" and "Lumens" mean and how they relate to the energy consumption & lighting levels for commercial & industrial lighting installations --

Lux, Lumens & Watts

Prof. Buddha 11:23 AM  

“Rebecca Leadstein” is clever and hilarious.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Using the NYT app, how do you enter multiple letters divided by a slash? It accepted A but I had to research to figure out what the…

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Thanks for the chuckles, @egs. BTW, though probably intentional by you above, I am continually surprised at how commonly the past tense of the verb lead is misspelled lead instead of led by otherwise careful and accurate writers. I suspect analogy with read/read is at least in part responsible.

Further BTW, in retrospect, I like best the rebus option of entering just PB and seeing it transformed by the app.


Ray 11:28 AM  

I agree with Rex. This was a clean puzzle. Took me a minute to figure out the rebus. I was a chemistry teacher in my past life, so I was familiar with the chemical symbols for lead and gold. It came together nicely. It’s was a fun puzzle. Not particularly difficult, but satisfying.

pabloinnh 11:46 AM  

Hey @Roo-Ny initials are occupying half of all the rebus squares today. Let's see you do that.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

I used a slash as well and it worked. I lost 15 minutes on my time figuring that out...

Tom T 11:51 AM  

One answer brought this to mind:

"The most important men in town would come to fawn on me
They would ask me to advise them like a Solomon the Wise
"If you please, REB Tevye"
"Pardon me, REB Tevye"
Posing problems that would cross a rabbi's eyes."

Penna Resident 11:53 AM  

AHEM. PHI is the baseball team on a scoreboard. PHL is the airport.

GILL I. 12:00 PM  

I have become a Debby Downer. PBAU and I just didn't have the chemistry I needed to connect. Our relationship was nada.
I've mentioned before that Thursdays seem to always give me the ANGST agita dyspepsia. I needed lots of Tums.
I download the puzzle so that I have actual paper in my hand. I just don't like using anything other.
So I get to 3D. OK. I'm pretty sure it's CAFE AU LAIT. I wait. What can a free style competition be.....I wait. Nada.
Again, PB and AU didn't or wouldn't connect. (sigh).....
I. think I may have squeaked a little at MAKE (AU) TURN pushing up my BRA, but that's it.
I know everyone loved this but I found that it just didn't fancy my tickle. Maybe because that murderous AHole CHE is in the puzzle. Nah...I'm a big girl now...besides you've got one of my favorite things to eat...ELOTE! Viva Mexico!
The end.

Newboy 12:10 PM  

Enjoying the latter commentariat’s string of entries almost as much as the puzzle today. I had usual iPad whines lined up, but opening comments had covered that spectrum of frustration more than adequately. I’m down to 3 day enjoyment; these clowns are editing the M—W grids to fill-in the blank challenge & Sunday continues with W slog complexity. Maybe the NYT is spreading itself TOO thin with its appeal to a wide range of gaming options….trying to please everyone, pleases no one (cue the Everly Brothers?). Have to admit I’m enjoying “Connection” most days & resorting to New Yorker grids on Monday &Tuesday. Wednesday I have begun trolling options with mixed results. Today, I thank Rebecca, Rex, (even) Will, and y’all for morning amusement.

Rug Crazy 12:36 PM  

Best puzzle in a week, by far!

bocamp 12:44 PM  

Thx, Rebecca; you're GOLDen! ๐ŸŒŸ


Same issue as @thfenn (6:57 AM) re: LUm / PHm. Forgot to come back before entering the last PB, as PHm made no sense; PHX much better. Was thinking Philly, not Phoenix, tho.

Enjoyed the chemistry lesson! ⚗️

Fun adventure! :)

@kitshef (7:13 AM)

Leadstein! ๐Ÿคฃ

Still working on yd's downs-only; stuck on 'a scale of 1 to 5'. ๐Ÿค”
Anna Shechtman's New Yorker Mon. is another bear; over 3 hrs in, so another work in progress. ๐Ÿคž
Peace ๐Ÿ•Š ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness ~ Freudenfreude & a DAP to all ๐Ÿ‘Š ๐Ÿ™

okanaganer 12:49 PM  

In Across Lite, the first couple of things I tried didn't work, then PBAU with no slash worked. (No huge deal, but it makes me glad I don't worry about streaks or times.) I actually got the theme at ROOFTOP BAR which I knew had to be something BAR and ROOFTOP seemed pretty alfresco.

LUX is easy because "Fiat Lux" means "Let there be light", right?

For "Sky Harbor Airport" I had the P and it just had to be Portland, which I've flown into but that was 30 years ago so no idea about the code, so left it P-- and carried on. No point in guessing airport codes.

[Spelling Bee: Wed 0; 4 day streak!]

Dan D. 12:52 PM  

Can someone tell me if there's a reason the Times app keeps telling me I'm missing a square when every square is right? Is there some special order to enter the rebus letters?

jb129 12:53 PM  

Lost my streak :(

Fred 1:07 PM  

Weird, used letters w/ no slash, then slash... finally "P" worked. Thanks!

Masked and Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Cool rebus ThursPuz. Lost some precious seconds catchin onto the theme mcguffin, plus due to several no-know entries, at least as clued.

The no-knows at our house: REB. ELLE. ELSIE. OSCAR. SUI. ELOTE [debut word]. PHX. BUNSEN. LIMOs with hot tubs.

Yesterday @RP was all over that there H-puz, becuz it had 44 3's and 4's. Today's got that count pared down to 39. progress.

staff weeject pick: REB. Well, hey -- if REBecca GOLDstein is into GOLD, might as well slip in a REB.

Thanx for the fun, Ms. Goldstein darlin. Nice job.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


SMKatydid 1:30 PM  

What a lovely puzzle! I am a novice solver, so cracking a Thursday makes me smile. Loved RANDO, loved the rebus, found the grid refreshingly light on crossword dreck (ESE, ISA, TEC and such). Hurrah!

Janitor Bob 1:40 PM  

Terrible that a stupid input error ruined a good puzzle. After trying everyone else’s solutions, what worked for me was to have “P” in one rebus, “A” in the next, and then “P” in the next two. Completely illogical and a real pain in the arse.

thfenn 1:43 PM  

@Dan D 12:52, nope. Nobody here's having that issue. (psst, PB/AU works)

mskl99 1:44 PM  

I’ll join the chorus of people complaining about the tech. Finished puzzle quickly and tried a few ways to enter rebus. A slash? Really? Can’t be bothered to figure out stuff like that.

Elena 1:56 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, but would have found it more challenging if there were other base metals being "turned into" gold besides just lead.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

So disappointed that the game wasn’t to just put in PB, then those four blocks turning to gold at the end. I wanted it to literally turn lead into gold so badly!

Anon 2:07 PM  

enjoyed it! got the revealer late, and helped me complete an otherwise easy puzzle. well done!

Anoa Bob 2:11 PM  

I also thought this was an exemplary puzzle with an imaginative theme well constructed. As OFL pointed out, once in place the eight themers, four sets crossing one another, and central reveal take up a lot of space once they are in place and greatly reduce the degrees of freedom in getting good fill. So although I usually give side EYES to random conversational snippets like AS I SAID, I HAD TO and OR NOT, in the service of a quality puzzle like today, YEAH, I'm happy to CUT some slack.

I still have my PEACOAT from my Navy days. Down here in deep south coastal Tex-Mex ELOTE land, I get to wear it maybe two or three times a year.

Nice to see LUX used in accordance with its Latin meaning "light". Wish the same could be said with how rebus is used in Crossword World. It's the only place where it needs to be qualified as "i.e. multiple-letters-in-one-square". More on this at The Rebus Principle.

ChrisSaintH 2:40 PM  

A very satisfying AHA! puzzle.

DuckReconMajor 2:42 PM  

My first Thursday with no help! (and it had a rebus!)

Only got one "something's amiss" message, but quickly spotted the same LUm/LUX everyone else got caught on lol. Great puzzle!

Sailor 4:03 PM  

Add me to the list of those surprised by the gnashing of teeth over the PHX/LUX cross. Out here west of the Pecos, Phoenix Sky Harbor is probably the most well-known airport outside of LAX. And unlike LA, Phoenix actually has an "X" in it. As it happens, I knew LUX, too, but didn't need to, since PHX was a gimme.

andrew 4:04 PM  

Confucius say: he who don’t like Sky Harbor has no business at Air Port…

CDilly52 4:49 PM  

Count me in!!! This ruined a very long streak and I am unhappy! Otherwise I enjoyed this clever, easy yet entertaining puzzle with a fine theme. I loved HS chemistry thanks to Dr. Ray McKinty. My lab partner Jerry H and I were extremely challenged but Dr. Mac gave us hours and hours of extra time. Let’s hear it for all the teachers out there who give whatever it takes to help our children succeed !

Anonymous 6:05 PM  

It’s weird. I just put in AU on the app and it did a correct solve. Not sure. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿป‍♂️๐Ÿคท๐Ÿป‍♂️

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

It worked for me when i only entered “Au”

dgd 7:10 PM  

Disagree with your and Rex’s criticism about “ there is no change here”. I just thought
PB and AU aren’t in both answers
So for each answer there is a change from PB to AU.
Close enough for crosswords in my opinion.
Depends how you look at it. I started with the crosses.

dovidmeyer 7:27 PM  

Well, actually, “Reb” is not a Talmudic honorific. It doesn’t mean Rabbi. It’s a Yiddish form of address for any adult man. Talmudic titles for rabbis or distinguished scholars are “Rav” or “Rabbi”. (pronounced rahbee)

Sandy McCroskey 7:33 PM  

@Elena Alchemists considered lead a lower form of gold and it's the only metal that they ever tried to transmute.

Anonymous 10:13 PM  

The clue wasn’t loomed.
It was Loomed?
? Indicates tricky clue.
So what no one says is irrelevant.

Anonymous 10:52 PM  

Why do we have to have a reference to rap in almost every puzzle?

Anonymous 10:54 PM  

The clue for 35A should be: “Female designer who you have never heard of”.

Dave Hogg 2:19 AM  

Writing about the NBA often pays off when doing the crossword puzzle, but knowing the Phoenix airport code was one of the odder ways. For several years, the Phoenix Suns have worn "PHX" on their alternative jerseys.

Ed 2:26 AM  

I CANNOT STAND when the NYT app does this crap - I had everything correct but had to come here to learn that I needed a / to get it “right”? Infuriating. Has nothing to do with the puzzle, it’s just a stupid app quirk that screws you. Ugh. The worst. Ruins a perfectly good puzzle.


Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Oops. Didn’t notice the “?” . Thanks

johnk 2:52 PM  

Ah, the advantages of paper solving!

ColleenAK 3:01 PM  

In 9th grade chemistry, we were introduced to the Periodic Table. Loved that PB was the abbreviation for Plumbum - such a funny word to teenagers! My friends and I would pass coded notes to each other using the element names - great way to learn, eh?

Felix 9:58 PM  

The theme worked way better for me--at first I just put in PB for each one, and the app didn't accept that as a completed puzzle, but when I went in and changed each PB to AU it was marked correct. Really fun reveal for me. I considered putting in all four letters but I felt like in the past the rebuses have worked with both the across and down, and PBAU worked with neither. But AU worked if you imagined that the PB in the answer been turned into AU!

spacecraft 11:19 AM  

IHADTO look up ELOTE after filling it in, because it doesn't even sound Hispanic. And I love street corn. That section was made doubly hard with the clue for ELLE. Once Fanning leaves Dakota, I'm lost.

So, easy? no. Getting the gimmick? Well, YEAH. Hit it at US{AU}SA. A solid chem background helped me put that together quickly.

STROLLIN for me requires an apostrophe, becoming a '50s hit on American Bandstand. Ah, those were the days. I'll give it a 95, it's got a good beat and you can STROLL to it.

Noted: FIRMNESS crossing PUSHU[PB]RA. Birdie.

Wordle birdie.

Diana, LIW 11:31 AM  

Oh brother...

Lady Di

Diana, LIW 12:05 PM  

I looked up photos of limos with hot tubs. More stupidity.


Waxy in Montreal 3:33 PM  

As a chem major, IHADTO love this one though, as ALCHEMY actually involved more than just the attempt to transmutate PB-->AU, could have included other efforts such as CU-->AG.

Only ANGST at a LUM/PHM Nattick (ah, PHX for Phoenix, the penny's just dropped!).

@Spacey, I think the correct answer to 21D as clued actually is STROLL IN, so avoiding your dropped apostrophe.

Maybe a Midwest bleedover but we call them POPBOTTLES up here too in the great frozen north or sometimes soft drinks.

Anyone else sorry that 10A wasn't clued The Magic Dragon (could be a generational thing).

Burma Shave 3:57 PM  


they NECKED until OSCAR's FIRMNESS was there,
for ELSIE's BRA, she would NOT fight,


rondo 4:27 PM  

Agree that Magic Dragon would be better.
BEALE Street is worth a visit.
Good grief, no birdie; wordle par.

spacecraft 8:20 PM  

@Waxy: YEAH, I knew the clue meant stroll in. But seeing those letters in the grid had the effect of removing the space and triggering that memory. I gets my memories where I can find 'em. Ever do the stroll?

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

You don't MAKE a U-turn, you HANG a U-turn (despite what Siri says). So that messed up my SE when I charged ahead with the theme answers without checking the crosses.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP