Hey, Big Spender

Feb 23, 2021 · 239 comments
Leslie (Berkeley, ca)
But what about the title? I do not get it.
Ajay Joseph (Lexington, MA)
Wow!!! Amazing theme
Alison Mawle (Atlanta)
Spelling bee nonwords: chirr, chiral
Marcia Davison (Colorado)
THANK YOU for the Lumberjack song! First time I’ve seen it since analog TV days 🤪
Michael (SEPA)
Realtor here. There is a big difference between house and home. Can someone explain how ACT is a Broadway division?
Kat L (San Diego)
Broadway plays are divided into acts.
Leapfinger (Durham NC)
Ahh, yes! It was second semester Organic Chem when I doodled my way to the lowest passing grade of my educational career. Besides the unlikely Ferrous Wheel, Didi and I played with 6-carbon rings, each sporting two -MD groups in either the ortho, the meta, or the PARA position. So it was something of a sentimental reunion to have PARA DOCS pop up as the reveal, though I had no clue [sic] my favourite health care providers were lurking around the corner. A PARADOX that they weren't Ortho docs, or even metaphysicians. Also appreciated the nod to the classic meme from Karate Kid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WALFwkmB-pg AX ON, AX Off Now this may lead to an ERrATO or two, but by GAR, I'm off in search of the DREAD NOUGaT. Thanks for the delightful confection, Andrew R.
Leapfinger (Durham NC)
@Leapfinger Didi, I hope you and the paleogeneticists are doing well at the U of T.
Al price (Denver)
Two big complaints...EKG and DREADNAUGHT are the more common spellings/usages I have seen...while both puzzle answers are certainly valid it feels a bit forced and contrived. Pretty weak.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Al, You can have an opinion on EKG v ECG, but as for the battleship the fact is the puzzle spelling is correct.
JoanJ (Boston)
Is “Slav” from Czech a tricky clue, esp compared to crosswordese like “gar”?
Dan C (Portland)
Fun Wednesday puzzle. One gripe, however: a “narco” is more commonly used to refer to a drug gang member. The DEA agent is a “narc”. Subtle language we have, but there you are.
Ron (Austin)
Oof! This was a toughie for a Wednesday. WHALE, WRAITH, and HELL (as clued) -- all in the top center -- were no-knows. Somehow I got it. Also DEVILSDOZEN, DELTACO (not a thing here), DREADNAUGHT/LATEN, GEISHA (as clued), WRIT (as clued), etc. Being one myself, I got the Czech! No compalints about HOMEDESIGN. Home != House. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Sam Lyons (Santa Fe)
@Ron When I moved away from home (Utah) I initially missed Del Taco. Then I found better tacos in NM and forgot all about it. Then — t h e n — I moved to Austin and discovered Torchy’s tacos. Oh my. It’s been over a year since I’ve had an “Independent” (they were discontinued when the menu suffered Covid cuts), but I’m drooling just thinking about it. You’re not missing out...
dutchiris (Berkeley, CA)
@Sam Lyons Tex-Mex. Reading your response reminded me of Salsas on Galveston Island. A margarita and dinner and good company, with the Gulf of Mexico right across the boulevard and mariachi on the sound system. Those were the days. I hope they will be again.
Susan (Cambridge)
ah, in Utah, when I lived in salt lake city, it was the Red Iguana. delish!
Wen (Brookline, MA)
I forgot to mention - Deb, whenever I see Czech, I always think of "The Czech is in the male". https://www.cartalk.com/radio/letter/two-bear-scientists
dutchiris (Berkeley, CA)
@Wen And of course a spouse is a Czech mate, right?
Leapfinger (Durham NC)
@Wen -- I surely do miss Car Talk.
Virginia (Virginia)
Nice puzzle but I completed without seeing the theme or noting the circles...rats, it would have been more fun. Went back to look only after reading Deb’s column...duh! I got the pun right away at 32D but hesitated to insert PJS because I consider it an abbreviation and there was no abbreviation in the clue, but what else could it be? Anyone else?
polymath (British Columbia)
I'd say that "PJs" is virtually a word, since it's used routinely to mean pajamas they way "mike" is used for microphone.
alex (Princeton nj)
These days it's "mic"
Evan B (Michigan)
Possibly my favorite puzzle since I started solving six months ago. The theme clicked quickly for me, and it was one of the most fun aha moments I’ve had in recent memory. What an excellent birthday gift!
Virginia (Virginia)
@Evan B: HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Hope you will do something nice for yourself.
Rich in Atlanta (Austell, Georgia)
@Evan B Wishing you a TWEETSTORM of hoppie birdies. ..
Leapfinger (Durham NC)
@Evan B -- Many Happy Reruns!!
Steve Moyer (Santa Fe, NM)
In the mini, the clue pond plants was algae. Threw me off as algae are not plants in the biological sense.
Sam Lyons (Santa Fe)
@Steve Moyer Thank you for this. You led me to looking up some fascinating information on algae. https://www.britannica.com/science/algae/Classification-of-algae
Newaddict (Maine)
Figured out most of it. Looked up VAPEpEN, as I didn't get the pan/pOT clue-- a bit of a "Duh." Never noticed the docs in the circles (not being all that familiar with most of them.) Liked DREADNOUGHT, TWEET STORM, and clue for PJS. Took a while at the end to find misspelling of SISTeNE/ODeN, and then switch ECG back in for EkG. Good Wednesday, 5 minutes under my average.
Kate (Massachusetts)
I really enjoyed buzzing through this puzzle (especially enjoyed the clues for PJS and PASTA), until I wasn’t buzzing, that is (another DELTACO DREADNOUGHT non-knower here). I managed to fight through that block with the crosses, though. Nevertheless, I must confess to giving up on the theme after just a half-hearted attempt to make sense of it. However, the “doh” moment after reading Deb’s explanation was fun! Seeing GAR gave me a chuckle, as it brought back a memory of a Lego set one of my sons had. A plastic GAR was a “terrifying” component of that! We had to hide it so he could sleep. Did anyone else notice the proximity of GENXER and HAWKE? I thought that was interesting since he was a star of “Reality Bites,” a gen-x coming of age movie...
Jim (Nc)
B Kliban once posed that one apple every 8 hours would keep three doctors away. So does two apples a day keep a paradox away?
Rupert Raynor (Gryon, Switzerland)
OK, I can’t resist: “sticky wicket” (with a few baseball analogies). In cricket, unlike baseball, the standard delivery (c.f. ‘pitch’) takes a bounce on its path from the bowler (think ‘pitcher’) to the batsman (batter). A skillful bowler seeks to achieve sideways deviation when the ball bounces, either by landing it directly on the raised seam (a seam bowler) or by imparting spin to the ball on release (you guessed it, a spin bowler). Rather like a baseball knuckleball-pitcher, a spin bowler sacrifices velocity in the quest for additional deceptive movement. [N.b. there are also swing bowlers, who aim for sideways ‘swing’ through the air, like a baseball curve-ball, but these are less pertinent to the current explanation]. Until the 1980s, when rain stopped play in cricket (c.f. ‘rain delay’), the ground was left uncovered. Since the pitch is essentially grass shaved down to the roots, this could sometimes turn it into a muddy, ‘sticky’ mess. Some bowlers (like ‘deadly’ Derek Underwood) were specialists in such conditions, and could achieve such extravagant ball movement as to be virtually unplayable (‘unhittable’). Hence the unfortunate batsman found himself ‘on a sticky wicket’, (i.e. facing a difficult, if not near-impossible, challenge).
David Connell (Weston CT)
The comments about nought / naught elicit an overt mention of the linguistic term “doublet” - two words within the lexicon of a language that arose from the same roots, traveled different paths, and ended up side-by-side, sometimes distinguishable, sometimes not. Nāwiht - not a thing - comes down to us in both forms “naught” and “nought” - readers of English fiction of the past few centuries will also recognize “nowt” - used by the Beetles and by Sam Gamgee. One of the beauties of language is irresolvability: whether “um” “umm” “hmm” or “erm” is the “proper” way to denote a speech hesitancy. Whether you did something for “nought”, “naught”, or “nowt”. Is the meaning understood? that is the only question. And meaning requires two people: expressed and received. I dread naught; I dread nought; I dread nowt. All three versions have always had one meaning: I fear nothing. English! gotta love it. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublet_(linguistics)
Rupert Raynor (Gryon, Switzerland)
@David Connell Or indeed, ‘beetles’ versus ‘Beatles’. (Sorry).
Bill (Detroit)
@David Connell, to this speaker of Midwestern American English, the spellings "nought" and "naught" would suggest nary a difference in pronunciation, unless I guessed that the latter rhymed with "laughed." Never having visited the Shire, I would guess that "nowt" was "now" plus a "t", unless it was pronounced like what we call a C or D-flat. But I have always hated literary representations of dialectical pronunciation--whether that side of the Pond (L. Carroll), this side (Twain), or t'other (Kipling): they're condescending, generally inaccurate, and makes for impenetrable reading. Often, the "dialectical" spellings, if sounded out, are no different from the standard wuns, jest weerdly spelt. (L. Carroll--I'm thinking of "Sylvie and Bruno," the first example that came to mind.
Shari Coats (Nevada City CA)
Clever theme and I enjoyed the solve. I’ve never heard the gambling term WHALE, but it came from crosses and seemed to make sense. Nothing else gave me any real trouble. We have seen LATEN before, so I knew it, but it still feels weird. The theme made me chuckle. I remember some years ago a niece of ours (college student at the time) dressed up for Halloween in a lab coat with a stethoscope around her neck. She and a similarly-dressed friend went out together as a “paradox”.
Alan Paulding (New York)
Deb, I felt the same way about the House Beautiful/Home Design clue/answer. I always thought it was a NYTimes crossword no-no to have the answer so closely related... I guess “TIL”
Matt (Newark, NJ)
I believe one of Alan Sherman songs also referred to a Paradox as a Pair of Docs. Trying to remember what song it was.
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Matt Scroll down...
tg (California)
I’m so happy that I can do the crossword puzzle without getting my knickers in a twist. It always amazes me how many nits are picked (and some quite harshly) when I come to this forum that never once crossed my mind while solving the puzzle. Either I am very naive or extremely accepting.
Shari Coats (Nevada City CA)
@tg I often feel the same way. I enjoy the challenge of solving and admire the skill it took to make a puzzle, and I’m occasionally astonished at how upset some can get about them.
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@tg People pick nits because they hold the NYT to a higher standard than other puzzles. Many people thought that EAUS yesterday was an egregious error, for example. Some people just look for anything to pick at.
Jim (Nc)
@tg Nits are lousy.
Jacob C. (New York)
Re "Sometimes a grid uses rotational symmetry, which means that the grid can be turned 180 degrees and the black square pattern will still look the same. In other words, if you were to fold the puzzle from corner to corner — which I am not at all suggesting is a good idea, particularly if you solve on a computer — the black squares of each half would match." Uh... what? That "In other words" sentence is wrong — they wouldn't match up, if by "match up", you mean that the black squares from either side of that diagonal corner-to-corner fold would press against each other. That would be mirror symmetry over a diagonal, not rotational symmetry. If you mean something else, I can't think of why you specifically mentioned a diagonal, since any line through the center — horizontal, corner-to-corner, vertical, or any other angle would just as easily divide the puzzle into identically patterned halves. And it makes no sense to mention a fold. The natural way to describe 180° rotational symmetry is not to suggest visualizing a fold, but rather to suggest visualizing *cutting* a line (at any angle) through the center. One then pivots one of the halfs around by 180°. *Then* the overlaid halves will match.
Jacob C. (New York)
Ugh, the first time I posted this comment, the form said there was an error, to copy my text, and to try again. Now I see my comment went through twice. Also, an editing mistake: halfs->halves
Jacob C. (New York)
Re "Sometimes a grid uses rotational symmetry, which means that the grid can be turned 180 degrees and the black square pattern will still look the same. In other words, if you were to fold the puzzle from corner to corner — which I am not at all suggesting is a good idea, particularly if you solve on a computer — the black squares of each half would match." Uh... what? No, they wouldn't match up, if by that, you mean that the black squares from either side of that diagonal corner-to-corner fold would press against each other. That would be mirror symmetry over a diagonal, not rotational symmetry. If you mean something else, I can't think of why you specifically mentioned a diagonal, since any line through the center — horizontal, corner-to-corner, vertical, or any other angle would just as easily divide the puzzle into identically patterned halves. And it makes sense to mention a fold. The natural way to describe 180° rotational symmetry is not to suggest visualizing a fold, but rather to suggest visualizing *cutting* a line (at any angle) through the center. One then pivots one of the halfs around by 180°. *Then* the overlaid halves will match.
Jacob C. (New York)
Editing mistakes: * "And it makes *no* sense to mention a fold." * halfs->halves
Mike Chasin (San Diego)
Del Taco a competitor to Chipotle? C’mon now. Come to the left coast. I’ll take you to both places. No comparison.
kilaueabart (Oakland CA)
@Mike Chasin I think I live on the "left coast." Researched "deltaco" to see if it was Del Taco or Delta Co. Never heard of either until today, so I guess Chipotle wins easily?
Travis (Los Angeles)
@Mike Chasin yea, they are pretty different. But have you had Del Taco’s chili cheese fries?!?! Yum!!!
Brando (Chicago)
More apt to say it’s a competitor of Taco Bell.
Dr. OutreAmour (Montclair, NJ)
I believe you mistyped 1906 when you meant 1916 in your explanation of DREADNOUGHT.
Deb Amlen (Wordplay, the Road Tour)
@Dr. OutreAmour According to Britannica, the ship launched in 1906: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Dreadnought-British-battleship
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Dr. OutreAmour The 1906 date is right; this was covered earlier. Note also that the 0 and 1 keys are unlikely to be confused when typing, as they are on opposite sides of the keyboard.
Alex Barry (Milwaukee)
@Steve L really? "Note also that the 0 and 1 keys are unlikely to be confused when typing, as they are on opposite sides of the keyboard." That's a little snarky. I suggest you take a look at the number keys in the lower right quad of any computer keypad. 1 and 0 are immediately adjacent.
mporter (Maine)
Couldn't be botherd with the doctors. silly games!
Jeff (Ohio)
As a mathematics educator (who enjoys crossword puzzles) I want to make two points about Deb Amlen's symmetry discussion. Deb writes, "Sometimes a grid uses rotational symmetry ... if you were to fold the puzzle from corner to corner ... the black squares of each half would match." First, I would say that rotational symmetry is not used "sometimes" but "usually" (at least in the NYTimes). In fact, David Steinberg says (in part two of the 2018 Wordplay "How to Make a Crossword Puzzle" series) that "One longstanding rule is that grids must be rotationally symmetric." Today's puzzle is proof that "must" is also not quite correct. Second, having a grid with rotational symmetry of the black squares does not mean that if the grid were folded along a diagonal, the squares would match. That is an example of reflectional (or mirror) symmetry. Rotational symmetry in a crossword puzzle means that the pattern of black squares looks the same if you turn the grid upside-down (or stand on your head). For example, the capital letters have N and Z have rotational symmetry, but they do not have reflectional symmetry. The capital letters C and M have reflectional symmetry, but they do not have rotational symmetry. And the capital letters X and O have both rotational and reflectional symmetry. XOXO
Bill (Detroit)
@Jeff I thought as much, but hadn't bothered to work out the visualization in my mind . . .
Marlene Heller (PA)
Even though I found this harder than usual, lots of clues I just had no basis to know, I still did pretty close to my best time. Did not get the theme at all until I read Deb's column, and then it was a face palm for sure! I really enjoyed this puzzle, because, while I love the Mon-Tues easy slides, today's challenge was good for my brain. I needed the jolt to get me ready for some work. And so, to work.
Johanna (Ohio)
There are not enough words of praise and admiration for me to describe my reaction to this amazing puzzle, both theme and execution. It's definitely a one off. Bravo, Bravo, Bravo Andrew Ries!!!
Puzzlemucker (NY)
@Johanna I wish I could have given yours and Lewis’ comments 30 recos each — constructors recognizing a fellow constructor’s delightful work of art.
Carl (Florida)
NE corner was very tough for me. Didn’t know 10A, 11D, and 12D. Clever enough to get 10D, but not clever enough to get 13D and 16A without the crosses. I’m a bit of a military history buff and filled in 45A right away, but misspelled it. Knew ERATO, so corrected the A with an O. For 56D, tried LOKI and THOR before their boss.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
So, I finished the puzzle, noted the circled letter spellings, figured out the 'doctors' and only belatedly noticed that there was a Reveal (must have filled it in via the crossings, as I seemed to do more Down entries than Acrosses.) Went, "Oh, ha." The End. Further comment below, in re the DELTA CO mystery entry. National chains are not always national... (There are no Trader Joe's in MS, for instance; Conway got one after we left. Dang! and we now have a Costco not far away from our current location.)
Janet (Mount Prospect, IL)
@Mean Old Lady Ha! The Chipotle competitor threw me, too. Never heard of DELTA CO as evidenced in the fact that I read DEL TACO as the answer. Maybe one day we’ll see one in these parts...
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
So, I finished the puzzle, noted the circled letter spellings, figured out the 'doctors' and only belatedly noticed that there was a Reveal (must have filled it in via the crossings, as I seemed to do more Down entries than Acrosses.) Went, "Oh, ha." The End. Further comment below, in re the DELTA CO mystery entry. National chains are not always national... (There are no Trader Joe's in MS, for instance; Conway got one after we left. Dang! and we now have a Costco not far away from our current location.)
Captain Quahog (Planet Earth)
If only the constructor have managed to include Dr. Howard or Dr. Fine or Dr. Howard. Perfection!
Janet (Mount Prospect, IL)
@Captain Quahog That would’ve been amazing! And definitely would need a “Hey, Kids!” type explanation in the blog.
Julie (Rockville, Md.)
I would have used Architectural Digest for the 26 Down clue. TIL there's a name for giving away the answer in the clue.
David Connell (Weston CT)
@Julie - people who make their money flipping houses don’t flip homes. Pray for their childrens’ sake they even know what a home is. A house and a home are two utterly different things, both etymologically and in human experience. The confusion on this point is today’s disappointment for me.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@David Connell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WMpSJDSdlI Maybe not the type of music you like, but it’s a fine song.
Puzzlemucker (NY)
@Eric Hougland Thanks! Great song. You also inspired me to look to see if TOMWAITSFORNOONE had ever been used an entry. Not yet. Will spend the rest of the day listening to Tom on YouTube and trying to do work while trying not to think of companion themers.
Esmerelda (Montreal)
I found the top middle difficult as I didn't know WRAITH and WHALE and I still don't get the HELL answer. Hockey sticks aren't L-shaped (they're shaped like...well hockey sticks) I thought maybe some hockey-related logo (BELL?) but couldn't remember ever seeing the Ls replaced with hockey sticks on the Bell Centre (where the Habs play). Still I got my gold star, by selective trial and error. Great theme.
Deborah J (Austin, To)
It’s a way people try not to swear. Instead of saying “hell” they say “H-E-double hockey sticks.” I said it all the time as a kid, and then dissolved into a giggling fit.
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Esmerelda I wonder what the correlation between those who think that hockey sticks don't look like the letter L and those who think that PARADOX doesn't sound like pair o' docs.
Esmerelda (Montreal)
@Steve L I got the pair o' docs right away, and it helped me with the fill. I think my problem is a case of Canadianitis -- overthinking anything to do with hockey.
Diana (California)
I am completely fascinated that so many people’s pronunciation of “paradox” is so far away from “pair of docs” that they couldn’t get the answer. I am trying to imagine what it sounds like where you guys are from! For me it’s spot on, I call the things on my feet a “pair a shoes” because I’m a lazy Californian who elides any time she can. The comments around Del Taco are interesting too, because they open up a window into how people’s brains attack a clue. Even if you haven’t heard of the chain, this is one you theoretically can puzzle out: - if you know what Chipotle is, skip ahead - if you aren’t familiar with Chipotle, you can recognize the pepper and assume Tex-mex - If you know it’s Tex-mex and you have DEL___O, what’s the most logical word to fill in the blanks? There are always complaints in here about trivia based clues, but I thought this was a pretty good example of one which could be puzzled out fairly enough.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@Diana et al DEL TACO (DELTA CO?) must be a regional chain; we had Chipotle in ARkansas, and TACO Bell, but no DEL TACO. Ditto in our new state.....Obviously I got it via the crosses, but parsing was vague, and I shrugged and moved on. We almost never eat out (and for the past year absolutely never) anyway... That said, had lunch once at a Chipotle in LRock, and found it noisy and crowded, with food that was just so-so. Bleah... even though I really like good TexMex, if DEL TACO is like Chipotle, count me out.
Rupert Raynor (Gryon, Switzerland)
@Diana @Barry This may have been covered, but in answer to your bemusement, in (most of) the UK the first ‘a’ in paradox (and indeed the second ‘a’ also, come to that) are short vowels, as in ‘cat’. So, I’m not *complaining* about the revealer. I’m simply stating (‘admitting’?) that I just plain didn’t ‘get’ the ‘pair of docs’ idea until I read it in this column. It would simply never have occurred to me.
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Rupert Raynor Same for me in New York, but it’s obvious to me how PARADOX sounds like pair o’ docs. Mind you, I’m not claiming they sound exactly the same, just obvious as a play on words. Did you hear Yanny or Laurel?
Erin (Becker)
Taking a small issue with the ‘plug-in Chevy’ clue, as the Bolt is the current model in the US. The Volt was discontinued in 2019.
eLizard (USA)
@Erin Thank you for clarifying this! I thought it was just my own confusion about this name.
G (Maine)
Then there also is the Chevy Spark that runs on gas
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Erin Just because they were discontinued doesn’t mean that they disappeared.
Marguerite Cohen (Portland OR)
TIL dreadnought: this was a term used for the huge evil battleships in the last of the STAR WARS series. Now I understand!
John (Jersey Coast)
I stuck with my DREADNaUGHT which gave me "Dr. Na". Since I blanked on DELTACO (never heard of it) I figured Dr. Na was a rapper I never heard of either. Oh well. Otherwise got the DOX right away. Clever. Now to get the song out of my head, "Brother Can You Paradigm"!
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@John Dr. Na was the evil genius who killed his victims by oversalting their food.
John (Jersey Coast)
KB (Boston)
Regarding the linked video: I love Monty Python and the Lumberjack Song is certainly a classic. Unfortunately, I don't think its overt transphobia has aged well -- it feels rather cringey, actually.
MaB (NH)
I don't recall ever having heard (or seen in print?) the word LATEN. Now I'm eager to see if it's an acceptable word in Spelling Bee. (When will Sam allow OLLA and LIANA?)
Captain Quahog (Planet Earth)
@MaB - LATEN showed up in a puzzle several months ago, and we had a great discussion about it. My mother, who was PA Dutch (Moravian), used to use LATEN as well as what I thought was non-English outen, as in "outen the lights before you leave." One of the resident linguists, perhaps David Connell, pointed out to me that outen was standard English, if not very common. And so is LATEN. I'm sure one of them will chime in and provide the details.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Alec McLure (Pawtucket, Rhode Island)
Thanks much! This the one clue that I solved through crosses that I just couldn’t get! (It didn’t help that I was pronouncing it in my mind as “laah-ten”.).
inky (Virginia)
DEVIL and HELL was a nice crossing. @SPB -I too drifted down the yellow brick road with EVIL OZ.
SPB (Virginia)
I'm happy to have company along that road! And thank you for highlighting the DEVIL and HELL crossing (with an interlocking "hockey stick", no less) - I also enjoyed that section but had forgotten to add that into my comment, despite HELL being clued with a favorite description (although I more frequently resort to the lower case "double toothpicks" formulation).
SPB (Virginia)
@SPB And in further honor of 6D: https://youtu.be/iLYB9pvww2M
Samantha N. (Rochester)
I rely on the autocorrect feature a lot as I'm not the greatest at crosswords, but lately I've been trying to "wean" off of it and complete as much of the puzzle as possible before flipping it on. I was thrilled that I got a little over half the puzzle on a Wednesday on my own!! Definitely did not figure out the theme, but that's okay. I know it's a far cry/nothing compared to you solvers with your weeks long streaks but I'm making progress and that excites me! Maybe someday I'll actually solve a whole puzzle without help!!
Deb Amlen (Wordplay, the Road Tour)
@Samantha N. You've got this! Keep up the great work. And it bears repeating that there is never anything wrong with asking for help.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Samantha N. Keep at it. You’ll get better at interpreting the “tricky” clues, and the “only in crosswords” words will get etched into your brain. Even people who have done these puzzles for years still encounter answers they can only get through the crossing words.
Laura (New York)
@Samantha N. That's where I was 6 months ago, and don't use autocorrect now! I do use Google, and I don't really feel bad about it, honestly ... I learn lots of new, interesting stuff. The point of doing crosswords for me isn't to be good at crosswords, it's to feel like I can complete SOMEthing each day in this maddening, sometimes-out-of-control world.
Emma (California)
Maybe its my California accent, but the way I pronounce PARADOX is very far from “Pair o’ Docs”. I know we’re supposed to stretch it because it said “aural” but just, ehh. It’s a weak revealer.
Carolina jessamine (North Carolina)
@Emma I think they may sound similar in certain midwestern accents. When I took linguistics in college (in California, actually) my professor mentioned with something of a sneer that some people "claim" to hear a difference in the pronunciation of "Mary", "marry" and "merry". I didn't mention that where I'm from on the East Coast the differences in pronunciation are clear.
Diana (California)
@Emma “Very far”? I’m Californian too and I’m lazy about pronouncing the “o” in the middle but it’s pretty obvious what it means, since I say “pair a’ shoes” the same way. Now I’m curious about how you say it!
Margaret (Brooklyn)
@Emma I've probably posted this link before, but it's worth posting again in this context: https://nyti.ms/2l3vAAP It's an interactive quiz that can pinpoint where you're from based on the language you use. One of the questions is the merry/marry/Mary one (I can't hear it either but my friend who grew up in Chicago can.) And by the way, to this Easterner PARADOX and pair o' docs sound exactly the same.
skeptical1cute. (Orleans MA)
Please take this as constructive criticism: although I enjoyed this puzzle and added it to my streak, it is an example of complexity that is more interesting to the constructor then to the solver. None of the explanation offered in the write up was necessary to solve the puzzle easily. In fact after I had finished the puzzle when I started trying to understand the circles I was totally baffled. Also once again I'd like to suggest that too often recently it seems like editors have gone weary in fine-tuning clues. There are in this puzzle too many that contain fill-in- the -blanks instead of substantive hints. There is no joy at all in such clues
Jim (Nc)
@skeptical1cute. I did not really need the theme much to fill in the answers that contained circles; I got DREADNOUGHT mostly through the crosses and NO did help confirm that the seventh letter was an "O" not an "A". All the docs' names were known to me, so I was surprised when you said "when I started trying to understand the circles I was totally baffled".
John Dietsch (West Palm Beach)
@skeptical1cute. Paradoxically, sometimes easy puzzles are the most fun, like today’s. The reveal put a big smile on my face.
Alan Hunter (Aylesbury, UK)
@skeptical1cute. I agree with your assessment that the theme was a bit of a vanity project for the constructor, with little utility or interest for the solver. I have also never heard of PARADOX being pronounced in the revelatory manner. I’m more relaxed about the quality of the clueing. A bit straight-forward maybe, but nothing unworthy of a early week crossword.
Megan (Baltimore)
Fun puzzle, and a bit easy to me for a Wednesday. I realized that the circled letters were probably all docs, but was unfamiliar with Drs Evil and No and utterly failed to grok 'pair of docs' from the revealer. I was pleased to see my much overlooked age cohort in the puzzle. My experience was that the 70s were a fun time to be a kid but that things went south beginning in the 80s. After the bee I think I'll go watch some old skool Sesame Street on you tube!
Ken S (Staten Island, NY)
This was a pleasant Wednesday puzzle with some original clues. As often happens, I did not get the theme until I read the column, mainly because I did not know of Dr Evil, having never seen the movies, and generally try to ignore Dr Oz and his huckstering and often banal comments. As some others have noted, certain fills become almost a fad. Lately RKO and ASNER, with or without given name ED, are examples in today’s puzzle.
archaeoprof (Danville, KY)
Love it when the theme just keeps opening up like this one did, with a whole series of Aha! moments. PARADOX was the piece de resistance. Thank you, Andrew!
Bill (Detroit)
That's because we bakers are, in reality, the Devil in disguise (although I prefer to think of myself as *le Diable*. No croissant for you!
Deb Amlen (Wordplay, the Road Tour)
@Bill Well if that doesn't just take the cake ...
Jim (Nc)
"ECG instead of EKG. How clever," said Jim halfheartedly.
David (Poughkeepsie)
@Jim Is it? I've never seen it spelled with a C.
Jim (Nc)
@David Hence the halfheartedly.
Samantha N. (Rochester)
@David technically ECG is the "proper" abbreviation for English electrocardiogram, however EKG is often used in the medical field (maybe because it's smoother to say out loud?) As a loan word abbreviation from the German Elektrokardiogramm. I work in cardiology and we use both abbreviations though I'd say we use EKG more often.
Gerald Benson (Savannah, Ga)
Interesting, but filled more like a Monday puzzle. I was hoping for more of a Wed. challenge. Guess I will have to be content until the Thur. rebus!! Enjoy the day!!
David Goodhand (New York)
The HMS Dreadnought launched in 1906--eight years before the start of World War I. Its launch can be listed as one of the tangential causes of the war. It was so advanced and so invincible that it immmediately rendered obsolete every other warship afloat. Every navy in the world had to rebuild entire fleets to match the Dreadnought's design and capabilities. The build-up of one navy in particular, the German Imperial High Seas Fleet, sparked a navy building race and escalated tensions between London and Berlin.
John Dietsch (West Palm Beach)
@David Goodhand The Kaiser risked his mighty fleet at Jutland then never sailed it out of port again.
Alan Hunter (Aylesbury, UK)
Following the armistice which ended WWI, the German High Seas Fleet was interned in Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands with skeleton crews. Whilst the allies argued about how to divide up the fleet between themselves, the Germans took matters into their own hands and scuttled their ships. These wrecks are now a source of low-background steel, that is steel produced before any atomic bombs were exploded in the atmosphere. This is used in scientific and medical equipment that relies upon the detection of low level radiation.
suejean (HARROGATE)
I’m feeling quite pleased with myself. I took quite a few minutes to try and make sense of the theme and finally noticed that a couple of the circled fills were doctors. I googled a couple I didn’t know, EVIL and OZ, said the reveal out loud, and AHA! a pair of docs. That must have been difficult to construct, Andrew, very satisfying.
Grant (Delaware)
Ugh, I've had my Phil of this puzzle! (Just kidding, it was just what the doctor ordered.)
Grant (Delaware)
@Grant Ooh! I just remembered that Dr. TEETH and The Electric Mayhem was the band on The Muppet Show. Inadvertent Easter egg?
David Connell (Weston CT)
@Grant - another occasion to recco Grant... “they don’t look like Presbyterians to me!” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hdnbZUn4Ajc
dk (now in Mississippi)
For Omahas IOWA means Drowsy Ones. Sassed Tom, sleepily. An OWL seems to appear wherever I go. My OWL neighbor in Maine is a Screech OWL and here in MS what appears to be a Short Eared OWL. Both express themselves to claim territory and whatever else owls chat about. The polite Short Eared OWL does so at dusk while Screech waits till about 2AM. It seems RKO is the new Odea. Thanks Andrew, Excellent Wednesday fare
Lewis (Asheville, NC)
So, Andrew first of all came up with the idea of using PARADOX to represent two doctors as a theme, which my initial research shows has never been done before (Jeff Chen says he’s thought of it but hasn’t come up with a way to do it). Then Andrew thought of putting two doctors in the theme answers, and came up with three sparkling phrases that work. After that, he had to design a grid to accommodate theme answers of 11, 13, 11, and 7 letters, and the normal puzzle symmetry won’t accommodate that, so he employed the lesser-used mirror symmetry (Hi, @Deb!). On top of this, he created a junk-lite grid with some beauteous non-theme answers (GEISHA, SISTINE, WRAITH, ZORRO, TWEETSTORM). That is, this is the work of a pro. I liked all the animals present: WHALE, GAR, OWL, DOE, eRATo, HAWKe, URSA, and the backward PETS. And I especially liked the “aha!” that accompanied cracking the theme. This is a case of sterling construction not for the purpose of showing off, but for providing a lovely solve, and this was a joy for me, Andrew. Applause and gratitude!
SPB (Virginia)
Hand up for finishing the puzzle without getting the theme - I've been away from the puzzle for a bit, but with my favorites Dr. Who and Dr. Evil (and I'd toss in Dr. No) in there, I really don't have a good excuse. 20A's EVIL OZ sent me down a "Is this a riff on The Wizard of Oz" path, and...well, as I say, I don't really have a good excuse. WRAITH crossing DEVIL'S DOZEN seemed particularly fitting (I think that's what may have set me on my EVIL OZ path), and with that in mind 45A read to me like two words - DREAD NOUGHT - a great name for EVIL of some kind. On a lighter note, "Togs for sawing logs" for PJS was just fantastic, as is the fact that ED ASNER is an anagram of ENDEARS. https://youtu.be/QBJfciyvahQ Thank you, Andrew, for helping me work to get my game back in such a fun and entertaining way!
Jack McCullough (Montpelier, Vermont)
I really enjoyed 23A and 32A, but especially 14A. Most state names have more than four letters, but IOWA rewards those who know that no abbreviations in the clue ==> no abbreviations in the answer.
Phil (Austin)
I enjoyed this puzzle, it brought back a memory from my high school debate class. I asked the teacher what a ‘paradigm’ was. 20 cents
Anita (NYC)
Farewell to the now obsolete term TWEET STORM. Thanks Mr. Ries for a clever and fun puzzle, and Deb for helping me appreciate the marvel of its construction. Welcome back @SPB, I was happy to see your post yesterday.
SPB (Virginia)
@Anita Thank you - I missed the wonderful community here, with your contributions a particular favorite of mine!
Lewis (Asheville, NC)
I loved the final-a subtheme of RAGA, IOWA, GEISHA, PASTA, URSA, and CHIA, which gave me some schwa de vivre.
Paul (Alexandria, VA)
This reminded me of this from Allen Sherman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umlBrQoG6xk (at :55)
SPB (Virginia)
@Paul I love Allan Sherman, and this was perfect!
David (Poughkeepsie)
@Paul Thank you! I used to listen to his recordings a lot growing up but never heard this one before.
Johanna (Ohio)
@Paul Thank you! That's the first I have heard that incredibly clever song!
Laurence of Bessarabia (Santa Monica)
deb, should 1906 be 1916?
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Laurence of Bessarabia Britannica says 1906. It's the other part of the sentence that needs revision, as Britannica also says that the DREADNOUGHT, despite being the model for battleships for the next 35 years, was itself becoming obsolete by WWI. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Dreadnought-British-battleship Here in the Hudson River sits (as a museum) the aircraft carrier the USS Intrepid. Though not a battleship, it's interesting how the two names. Intrepid and DREADNOUGHT, basically mean the same thing.
Grant (Delaware)
@Laurence of Bessarabia Naval naming conventions refer to vessels by the name of the first example built of their class, and thus you have Iowa-class battleships, Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, and Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. HMS DREADNOUGHT was the first of her class. (Every thing about the Navy I learned from Tom Clancy and Douglas Reeman - I was an Army guy.)
polymath (British Columbia)
Steve L, nice point! (I had never thought about the etymology of "intrepid" before.)
Rich in Atlanta (Austell, Georgia)
I didn't think there was anything wrong with making a house a HOME. I did have some struggles in other parts of the puzzle, but almost worked the whole thing out. In the end just got stuck in the NE corner. Looks quite doable after the fact - I guess I was just out of gas. Thought it might have been a cute touch to have something like JUKEBOX as an answer and circle the first and last letters. Always like to see Dr. J in a puzzle.
Francis DeBernardo (Greenbelt, Maryland)
Is it just my impression or has RKO been appearing as a solution in the puzzles lately? I vaguely remember seeing it at least three times in the past week or so. If so, is that an intentional move by the editors?
Rich in Atlanta (Austell, Georgia)
@Francis DeBernardo Three times in the last 8 days. Only twice in 2020. Three times in 2019. Never in 2018. Seven times in 2017. It's just a coincidence - it's a piece of 3 letter fill and will just pop up whenever it works with some longer crosses. I don't think they pay much attention to how often stuff like that appears.
Francis DeBernardo (Greenbelt, Maryland)
@Rich in Atlanta Thanks for your comprehensive reply! I'm glad it's not just my imagination. Whenever a solution appears several times over a short period of time, especially if it iis an uncommon word, I always think that it is the editors rewarding people who do the puzzle regularly. Sort of like telling us, "Hey, you know this one. You used it just a few days ago."
Grant (Delaware)
@Francis DeBernardo I noticed RKO's recent up tick as well, along with ELO, clued twice with Livin' Thing. Of course, every time I see RKO, I see the final scene of Rocky Horror Picture Show, which features a backdrop of, "An RKO Radio Picture." What the HELL is a radio picture?
Rupert Raynor (Gryon, Switzerland)
A few Brit observations for the day: - Always a bit frustrating to finish, without wholly understanding why. I was left with G_R, L__EN and DEL_ACO, and essentially had to guess the last two letters. I surmised Chipotle must be a restaurant chain, but ex-post research didn’t suggest a chain called Delta Co. Had to turn to this column to learn ‘Del Taco’. Dearie me! - Struggled a bit with the theme also. To my ear at least, ‘para’ doesn’t sound much like ‘pair of’, and I wasn’t familiar with two of the Docs (Oz, Ruth) in any case. So that took a while to grasp. Got there in the end. - Seems to be a suggestion of some ‘Britishness’ in a few clues. I see some of you are thinking of ‘dreadnought’ as a UK term (although many other navies, including the US, also had them). Also ECG was no problem for me, as this is the standard UK acronym rather than EKG. (Q over the crossing though, as like others, I thought a ‘narco’ was the baddie, not the goodie). - But the ultimate Brit clue was 36A, of course. Startled to see a cricket-derived term like ‘sticky wicket’ in the puzzle. Do you folks actually know/use this expression? [By the way, does anyone want a true Brit’s explanation of the term? It would take a few paragraphs to explain properly, so let me know].
Anonymous (n/a)
My brit observations: I knew chipotle was tex-mex, but I didn't know what sticky wicket meant. I didn't get paradox = pair of docs no matter how many times I said the word aloud with my best attempt at an American accent... Editor’s note: This comment has been anonymized in accordance with applicable law(s).
Alan (Tucson)
@Rich Pair-a-dox (or pare-a-dox) is a common American pronounciation (especially in parts of the midwest), so combine that with the "of" in will-o'-the-wisp or jack-o'-lantern.
Cooofnj (New Jersey)
@Rich NY metro accent here (for context): how do YOU pronounce paradox? I say “pare uh docks”. Except for perhaps a shorter “a” sound for the first syllable I can’t figure a way you don’t get to “paradox” and “pair of docs”. Of course I say coffee as cawfee so what do I know?
Doug (Tokyo)
SPELLING BEE GRID H A C I L N R WORDS: 29, POINTS: 123, PANGRAMS: 1 First character frequency: A x 4 C x 16 H x 5 I x 1 L x 1 R x 2 Word length frequency: 4L: 12 5L: 10 6L: 2 7L: 2 8L: 1 10L: 2 Grid: 4 5 6 7 8 10 Σ A: 1 - - 1 1 1 4 C: 5 7 2 1 - 1 16 H: 4 1 - - - - 5 I: 1 - - - - - 1 L: - 1 - - - - 1 R: 1 1 - - - - 2 Σ: 12 10 2 2 1 2 29 Two letter list: AN-2 AR-2 CH-14 CI-1 CL-1 HA-4 HI-1 IN-1 LA-1 RA-1 RI-1
Doug (Tokyo)
I found the pangram but mostly a failed campaign. I missed some gimmes and a fun one. I often go blind when the answers are skewed to one initial letter.
Alan (Tucson)
@Doug Quick QBABM today.
Cate (Colorado)
@Doug I have been doing the Spelling Bee for a while but what you are doing here is new to me. Could you explain further how this is helpful or the purpose? Thanks!
Jerry N (Oregon)
LETTER BOXED M-E (8), E-T (5) Get right wrong? Or be wrong, right? @3:12 EST
Jack Aubert (Falls Church)
Ditto @ 3:35 EST Woke up at 3:20 😉
Doug (Tokyo)
I agree with Deb that having "House" in a clue for an answer containing HOME seems inelegant.
K Flint (SW Virginia)
@Doug I’m not as bothered by “House”/“Home”. I don’t think of the words as “the same root” just because they have two letters in common. And, Architectural Digest seems overkill for “HOME DESIGN”. But, that’s just me.
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@K Flint Fun fact: English MUCH is not etymologically related to Spanish MUCHO. HOUSE and HOME aren't etymologically related either. I don't know why anyone is looking askance at this one. After all, it's not OP-ED.* ________ For those requiring an explanation: People often complain when OP-ED is the answer and "opinion" is in the clue, but the OP is short for "opposite" (the editorial page).
David Connell (Weston CT)
@K Flint - I am also in the not-bothered camp. Just yesterday, in a radio piece about evictions, I heard a mother say to her daughter “we’re houseless, not homeless.”
Witchbutter (Denver)
I’m used to seeing clues that stretch reality or barely refer to the answer but it’s really irritating to see the answer to DEA agent as narco. Narco is slang for drug dealer, narc is slang for agent. Do the writers ever fact check?
Carrie (Netherlands)
@Witchbutter Came here to say the same. I work in investigations, and never ever have I heard the word narco applied to a DEA agent. Narc, yes, but narco is the other guy!!
Jack McCullough (Montpelier, Vermont)
@Witchbutter Oh, another opportunity to link to a clip from my favorite TV show, The Wire, where Bunk and McNulty first meet Bodie in the pit, and Bodie calls Bunk and McNulty narcos. https://youtu.be/4ANAtaQsBL4
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Witchbutter M-W seems to think NARCO is one of those Janus words--two seemingly opposite definitions: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/narco Urban Dictionary gives the drug buster definition prominence over the user one: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Narcos Not being either one, I don't offer any firsthand opinion.
Newbie (Cali)
I must be getting 'better' (or entitled). Whichever it is (both), I actually got a bit annoyed that I couldn't solve this Wed quickly (by my standards). I was too 'busy' to bother with flyspecking. So a check puzzle yielded me the EkG/NARkO error. I'm pretty good at understanding reveals/themes. I am sure this is not factual, but I can only recall two times when I couldn't figure out the reveal before coming to Wordplay. But today, no chance.
WTS (Beaufort, NC)
Deb: I admit to having a moment of schadenFREUDe reading of your struggles with some clues today. I was thrown by the revealer because l thought "paraDOX" meant "Flight Surgeons"
coloradoz (Colorado)
Not having heard of DEL TACO, I parsed it as DELTA CO,figuring it to be a Mexican restaurant chain that is a subsidiary of Delta Airlines.
Abhay (San Jose)
Does Mr. ED ASNER know that he is one of the answer every week here? He should be paid.😊
Dave S (Vienna, VA)
I naturally put the wrong car into 19A immediately. The plug-in Chevy model you’ll buy if you go to a dealer nowadays is, of course, the Bolt, although the VOLT remains a much appreciated hybrid. I bought my Bolt about five months before the pandemic hit, in October 2019. I’ve got about 4,000 miles on it. For the past year I’ve only used it to pick up groceries at the curb. I’m ready for a road trip!
Selective Walrus (Canada)
Smooth sailing until Togs insisted on being a word. New one to me. Also, GAR fish. Was on a good pace, but ended up around average.
Oldie (USA)
Pair-a-what again? The only pair I can find myself deep in, today, is a pair of doos.
Crevecoeur (PA US)
Aaargh, so no gold star this time. Didn’t know whether to use EKG or ECG, never had seen dreadnaught spelled with an o, so didn’t even realize that error, and was just guessing on raga-gel. So couldn’t run the alphabet. I was enjoying it til then, lots of fun clues, and didn’t need the theme, which was good, since I looked at it every way I could think of and got nada. Didn’t know enough of those Drs. to get that. It was ok too that I never heard of Deltaco. So I enjoyed the journey, but the view at the top was fogged in.
Bob T. (NY NY)
@Crevecoeur All those exact issues, plus for some reason I thought the chapel was spelled SISTeNE. Toughest Wednesday I can remember in a long time.
Emily (MD)
Wow this was a great puzzle! Solving in bed the night before, and I filled in the grid but still didn't understand the theme until I read the wordplay article. I yelled across the apartment to my roommate that "Oh the circles are apparently for various doctors? I still don't know what that has to do with a paradox" only to groan once I said it out loud. excellent puzzle, delightful fill (especially all of those pesky x's and z's) and an incredibly reveal moment.
Mary (Minneapolis)
Emily, you made me laugh. I didn’t get it either. And then, what happened sounds exactly like what would happen to me, except I would have done it in front of a whole bunch of people. Ha ha. Thanks for sharing.
coloradoz (Colorado)
Time to start learning your IOWA trivia to solve xwords. The state that means "sleepy people" in the Sioux language and the state that has a steamboat in its state seal as clues in the last week. What state annually has a cow carved in butter displayed at its state fair ?IOWA In what state did Ronald Reagan broadcast Chicago Cubs baseball games? IOWA What state has only one town located on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River? IOWA
Caseydilla (SF, CA)
Actually, I think the butter cow could be OHIO (having been born and raised in Columbus, I saw that cow every year at the fair. And they has a virtual carving contest in 2020!). Maybe Iowa has their own, but that trivia might help you in a future solve :).
Bob T. (NY NY)
@coloradoz I'm looking at a map of IOWA and I don't understand your comment about one town on the Nebraska side of the river.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Bob, Carter Lake, Iowa. (near Omaha)
Srocket (SoFla)
help! once again the lower line of letters on the keyboard are missing.
David Connell (Weston CT)
@Srocket - if you’re on an iphone, when that happens you have to do a re-positioning by swiping quickly down and up. I usually have to try three or four times before it works. You could also try resizing the image by pinching two fingers together. Good luck!
Robert (Vancouver Canada)
and/or Elke When I saw SLAV , ELO and CHIPOTLE I thought there was another "toilet" theme in the works. ( LAVatory , E(LO)o, and ChiPOTle.... OK no. Then I saw NATAL and ZORRO. For you youngsters, ZORRO was a 50's show and the hero's trade mark was leaving a big "Z',drawn with his sword and big flourish, to indicate he had been there. Well.that reminded me of an Ob/Gyn colleague ( this would be in the NATAL field ) who would leave a "Z" ,painted in iodine , near the C/Section scar .... Some new moms were (supposedly) asking to see the "Z" before asking about the baby (apocryphal). Must have used up by now a DEVIL'S DOZEN of "WoWs, but what the heck, this is a WOW puzzle. This was fun and thanks for the memories
Kris (Palm Springs)
For the first time, I couldn't do this puzzle on my older Android. The screen won't show the entire keyboard no matter how I adjusted the settings. Anyone else have this issue? BTW, Hello! I'm a relative newbie -- I've been on for 111 puzzles and on a 107 day streak that I'm now apparently in jeopardy of losing. Had used the Shortyz app for years but this group is a whole 'nother level of fun. Love the comments and camaraderie. Thanks.
Srocket (SoFla)
YES. I have no lowere keyboard letters. This happened last year. Because of it I can't play. Of course I'll contact the powers that be. But how bothersome!
Srocket (SoFla)
And...I can't find the "complaint department". Ugh!
JayTee (Kenosha, Wi)
@Srocket Use the "Contact Us" (in the very fine print) at the very bottom of the page. If you have a computer handy, you can log in to nytimes.com/crosswords to play the puzzle. And you do have until midnight EST to finish, so hopefully you'll find a way to finish.
fabfrenchy (WesternPA)
I had Oreo in place of lard for a good long while before I figured it out. I've made many desserts with Oreo crusts, and it seems they're always trying to come up with new ways to clue Oreo. I thought I was so clever. I was not. I can't stand "Dr" Oz. I think he may very well be Evil.
Mr Mark (California)
REWED sounds like RUED to me.
AS (California)
I was very confused on 32D (I had P_S) as I had never heard of "sawing logs" in that way, or "sticky wicket" I guess the latter is pretty fitting, though, seeing as that's exactly what I was in!
Troy (Indiana)
Sometimes the weight of certain words are just satisfying to read and contemplate; LATEN, DREADNOUGHT. SLAV. Words that evoke pictures. Solved this one more quickly than I wanted, sorry when it was finished. Nice.
RogerM (Tallahassee FL)
To me, Chipotle and Del Taco aren’t competitors. Chipotle is fast casual and Del Taco is fast food. I’d say Del Taco is a Taco Bell competitor. But I guess they’re both vaguely Tex-Mex. I have more trouble with NARCO for DEA agent. I feel like most everyone would use narc for a DEA agent and reserve narco for a drug lord.
Tom Devine (California)
@RogerM Also, I question the use of ECG for electrocardiogram. It seems to me that EKG is the more common expression, and though "Narko" looked odd, I thought ECG looked even odder.
coloradoz (Colorado)
@Tom Devine I also didn't get the memo about the change from EKG to ECG. However, the K is from the German spelling, the C in English. Although my wife's doctor a couple of months ago said he ordered an EKG for her.
JayTee (Kenosha, Wi)
@RogerM The closest competitor to Chipotle as far as type of food goes is probably Qdoba, which would probably make a dynamite crossword answer, and it's in 45 states, compared to around 14 for Del Taco (there are none near WI).
JJ (San Francisco)
Always glad to be done with a Thursday puzzle, because it signals that it's Wednesday night and I'm more than halfway done with the week. Wait, what do you mean it's only Tuesday? (still a fun puzzle!)
Bill in Yokohama (Yokohama)
I had to run the alphabet on both this and the mini today.
Wen (Brookline, MA)
@Bill in Yokohama - on the mini - I've never heard of 4D or 6A, but everything else I knew. Was it the V or the R that you had to run the alphabet?
JayTee (Kenosha, Wi)
@Wen If you follow any of the links to YouTube from the comments, it's very likely that you might see an ad for VRBO for at least 5 seconds before you skip the rest. I see them probably about a quarter of the time.
Bill in Yokohama (Yokohama)
Wen, For better or worse, having gone to and hosted quite a few RAGERs back in the day, it wasn't the R that eluded me. I'm also familiar with Scooby-Doo, though apparently not enough to recall all their names. First it was SELMA, then TELMA, then DELMA... then the rest of the alphabet.
Nikhil (Florence, Italy)
Wasn't that big a fan of the theme, but the fill was excellent! "Elbows and such" and "Cash in?" were particularly good fun. I did get very stuck on "Chipotle competitor" after confidently filling in DEL TORO and left a mess in the centre; I'd never heard of the correct answer and it seems like there isn't one in NYC.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Nikhil, True. I can see a "Chipotle" from my window, but according to the DEL TACO website their closest store to me is in Michigan, so not a "competitor."
Tom (Springfield, IL)
My problem was with "ECG" and "NARCO" cross. I had always refered to that heart test as an "EKG".
JJ (San Francisco)
Same! I even knew what it stood for, but have never heard "ECG" used as the acronym.
Javafiend (Philadelphia PA)
ECG and EKG are the same thing...the EKG abbreviation comes from the German name of the test
Babs (Etowah, NC)
@Tom I’m in healthcare and I agree. Took a bit of flyspecking to uncover.
Liz B (Durham, NC)
I didn't see the theme until I got PARADOX filled in, and then it seemed really neat. I didn't really know Dr. EVIL as a doctor--I've avoided those movies--but did really like Dr. WHO and Dr. RUTH together. I did notice the symmetry and thought it was a good way of dealing with theme entries of varying lengths--luckily all odd numbers. I wondered which doctors might have ended up on the cutting-room floor.
Alec (Somewhere)
He didn’t spend seven years at evil medical school to be called mister, thank you
Chris (Kingston)
This was super fun! I laughed out loud when I figured out the theme. Also a Wednesday record for me at just under 17 minutes and only maybe six assists from this column / Google. Thanks, Mr. Reis!
Mike (Munster)
My sick owl went to see Doctor Hoo. (I hear that's ill eagle!)
JayTee (Kenosha, Wi)
@Mike I hope your "doctor" isn't a fly by night operation or one who hawks patent medicine to gullible pigeons.
jma (Eagle, WI)
@Mike You're always good with a tern of phrase. I won't be robin you of any others.
S. Miller (Dallas, TX)
Along the lines of the comment on 1A, there was once a book of humorous saints' names that included "St. Pick-up, the Czeck," patron saint of paying for everyone's meal. South of Dallas in a Czech area there is a bakery along I-35, the Czeck Stop, where travelers can buy kolaches.
Rebecca (Dallas)
@S. Miller While we’re talking West, i’ve always heard there are supposedly better kolache shops further into town, but I always get there after dark, so to the Czech Stop I go (and love everything I get there, especially the gingerbread ladies). Any of y’all know if there is any truth to the tales?
Chris (Texas)
Didn’t get the doctors. Anyway... while we’re on the topic... Matt Smith was my favorite of the modern era.
Deb Amlen (Wordplay, the Road Tour)
@Chris Agreed, although I will confess to crushing on both David Tennant and Peter Capaldi.
Steve Moyer (Santa Fe, NM)
@Deb Amlen I have been watching " the end of time" with Tennant over and over again. But I am also addicted to the Matt Smith where he takes Van Gogh to an exhibit of his works and has wonderful Bill Knightly explain the Van Gogh is the best painter. Brings tears to my eyes.
Sam Lyons (Santa Fe)
Loved it: Smart, witty, and original, this puzzle simply sparkled for me. And how can one not love going to bed only to start reading up on DREADNOUGHTs and oshiroi? On a Tuesday night, no less. I can’t get my PJ’S (which in my house we still call JAMmies, though without the lisp of 40 years ago) fast enough. Thank you, Andrew Ries. This GEN X-ER is one satisfied customer.
Thomas (New York)
I'm surprised, given the revealer, that Ms. Amlen has't linked to a video of the "paradox" song from Pirates of Penzance. Here you all go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXhJKzI1u48 I had the tremendous privilege of appearing a few years ago in a production of a musical version of A Christmas Carol in which all the songs were repurposed G & S tunes. This song was the one sung by Fred and his family at their holiday party; "When you had left our pirate fold" became "When we saw Scrooge with all his gold." I can't hear the word "paradox" now without getting that song stuck in my head.
Shari Coats (Nevada City CA)
@Thomas Good call. Love that song, and pretty much all of G & S.
Stylus Happenstance (North Carolina)
The theme actually helped me a lot, sine I had dreadnAught, and I'd never heard of Erato, it would've taken me forever to find the mistake without a little James Bond knowledge.
JayTee (Kenosha, Wi)
@Stylus Happenstance It's helpful to have the names of some of the Greek Muses in your crossword vocabulary. Erato is one of the most common, along with Clio; Euterpe, Calliope and Thalia might show up on a Friday or Saturday; I've not seen the others.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
JayTee, Re: some of the others Calliope has shown up on three Thursdays in the Shortz era, but only once clued as a Muse. Polyhymnia has not appeared yet.
Carl (KS)
The solve was a lot easier than figuring out the theme, which I never would have gotten but for Ms. Amlen's kind explanation.
Brian (Baltimore)
A groaner, or merely an eye roll? I hear Bugs Bunny saying, "Pair of docs, get it?"
Wen (Brookline, MA)
Cute theme. Didn't help with the solve. Was pretty interesting. But that crossing of LATEN and DELTACO.... Took a while after solving to figure out the theme. I thought 13 was the baker's dozen. Are we saying bakers are...devils? RE-WED wasn't my favorite. Can being in the process be called A-WED? What do we do with VO-WED? A GAR must make for great law enforcement, I mean, look at all their TEETH. Pretty straightforward otherwise, as expected of a Tuesday.
Sam (Texas)
That 'T' was my last entry.
Puzzlemucker (NY)
Andrew does not have any Constructor Notes here or on Xwordinfo, so it’s impossible to know whether the REVENUE clue (“Cash in”) was his or Will/Joel/Sam’s. Such a great clue. In any event, the puzzle deserves its POW!, imo. What great themers—each a gem standing on its own—which happen to contain the names of two famous “doctors.” Wow! (Agree with @polymath that Dr. Oz might have gotten his degree from the same place as Dr. No, but he is well known for better or worse). Add some great fill and cluing, and this is a an ideal Wednesday. While I’m not a constructor maven, i don’t recall ever feeling disappointed by an Andrew Reis puzzle. Well done!
Puzzlemucker (NY)
Marrying yesterday and today’s themes, Dr. John, with the great “Right Place Wrong Time”: https://www.thisismyjam.com/song/dr-john/right-place-wrong-time
SPB (Virginia)
@Puzzlemucker Wonderful tribute to a Dr. who certainly deserves to be celebrated!
Greg Anderson (Sanibel, FL)
Re 26D, Deb I shared your concerns. Until the crosses made it obvious, I hesitated to fill the first word of that phrase because it seemed too similar to the clue. Maybe reference someone famous from HGTV like Chip and Joanna Gaines?
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
"26D. A question for the Greek chorus: Do you consider this a dupe?" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVja1nONzv4
Mara G (NJ)
Solved pretty quickly but did not catch on to the paradox/pair of docs. 🤨
Alec (Somewhere)
The paradox thing just left me deeply confused
Steve (SF)
Try reading it as "Pair of Docs"
Alec (Somewhere)
@Steve I read the column. It doesn't sound like paradox
Nick Addison (NJ)
@Alec It's close for me. You just need to pronounce the "a" a bit differently and elide the "f".
polymath (British Columbia)
This went fast, until I got totally stuck on U_O and _ATS. Finally it dawned. Cute puzzle!
polymath (British Columbia)
On the other hand, I would have gladly done without "Dr." Oz, who often doesn't seem to behave like a real doctor.
Wen (Brookline, MA)
@polymath - you mean you saw the light...dancing in the night sky?
polymath (British Columbia)
Nice one, Wen.