Stuff in a muffin / TUE 1-28-14 / It's just one thing after another / Farm sound

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Constructor: Jeff Stillman

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "You don't know -BO" -- base phrases take a -BO ending (with spelling changes) to make wacky new phrases.

Word of the Day: PARAKEET.  Parakeet is a name for any one of a large number of unrelated small to medium sized species of parrot, that generally have long tail feathers. Older spellings still sometimes encountered are paroquet or paraquet. [Wikipedia]

• • •

Matt Gaffney here again, filling in for Rex all week.  Theme answers take a -BO sound:

Theme answers:

20-Across [Celebration dance after a goal?] = SOCCER MAMBO
57-Across [Punched out a Disney elephant?] = STRUCK DUMBO
11-Down [Aerobics done to Chubby Checker music?] = TWIST TAE-BO
29-Down [Give a hobbit a ring?] = PHONE BILBO

I saw the -BO entries emerge and kept trying to guess what the revealer would be. And then...there's just no revealer. We're just adding -BO to phrases for no reason. Sort of a downer, since a solver at this point in the evolution of the add-a-letter/letters/sound idea is going to be looking for a revealer, which would ideally add  a unifying and humorous flourish, but here -- we got nothin'. Not optimal.

I was also unable to find any of the four theme entries very humorous. Punching an elephant isn't funny, and neither is dancing after a soccer goal or doing aerobics to music, which are very common activities. I guess phoning a character from The Hobbit is slightly wacky, but if that's the go-to theme entry then we're probably not bringing down the house.

The fill had 78 entries in it, normally the max in a daily puzzle, and the grid is not at all taxing with just four 10/11-letter themers. But there's little sizzle in it; the best entries are PARAKEET, DUBAI...what else? SPLIT UP? Maybe INFRA-RED? There's not a single marquee piece of fill, and a grid with just four medium-size themers (and no revealer) should have been full of them. If Brendan Quigley had filled this thing there'd be six or eight pieces of stellar longish fill that no reviewer could fail to mention; here there's not really a single one. None of the four rare letters make an appearance, either.

On the positive side we can say that the fill is clean: there aren't any awful entries, though I think the abbreviation for Baptist wants to be BAPT instead of BAP, and URGER and OBI are a little less than good. But not a big deal. Overall, the fill is clean but unexciting.   

The clues have more of the same musty vibe I noted in yesterday's puzzle, where not a single clue couldn't have been written 10 years ago. In today's puzzle we have exactly one clue less than a decade old, [Home of the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building] for DUBAI. But that's your daily dose of modernity; check out the SE corner, where BART is [Former baseball commissioner Giamatti], HART is [Politico Gary], and OTTO is [Comics canine]. If I were Rex I would write "1987 called and it wants its corner back," but I'm not so I won't. But it did and it does.

Any one of these clues is OK in a vacuum, but when you have zero or one clues per day referencing anything that happened in the previous decade? I hope we've just hit a musty patch and that clues later in the week will have more zip. Again, the NYX doesn't need to become a hipster puzzle, but an occasional reminder  that we're solving a puzzle in the 21st century would help enormously.

Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent for six more days of CrossWorld


jae 12:10 AM  

Medium for me with a  pretty smooth grid (except for maybe URGER).   Possible title , "Locker room aroma"?  Liked it, seemed about right for a Tues. which tend to be low on zip.  Although Matt is probably right, they shouldn't be. 

Benko 12:14 AM  

Yes, the theme is obviously "I have B.O."
Speak dolce and carry a big stick.

wreck 12:14 AM  
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Numinous 12:17 AM  

Another blah puzzle. It was easy but not particularly quick. I guess I don't really mind, I have the flue or something which makes me cranky.

Dayam! Not a single wrong clue to rail at. If I look at this again in the morning, maybe I'll find something to make a fool of myself over.

G'night my friends. A fond ADIEU.

CAPCHA: wally wan an Touched her and she STRUCK him Dumb, Oh. Then she did a SOCCER MAMBO on his head. Served him right for being a PEST with nothing left to do but MOAN.

GGGGG, Numi, shut up!

mathguy 12:18 AM  

Liked the theme. Got stuck on INFRARED for a few frustrated moments.

Really enjoyed the Acrostic in yesterday's magazine. A very cool paragraph and some instructive answers. .

Anonymous 12:18 AM  

A TACO is not a sandwich, right?

Steve J 12:19 AM  
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Steve J 12:21 AM  

This just wasn't to my liking at all. Theme wasn't terribly engaging, as Matt mentioned. Also as Matt mentioned, there's no marquee fill.

Unlike what Matt mentioned, I thought there was a lot of subpar fill that stood out in light of the blah theme. Fake plurals (PARS), bad abbreviations (BAP - even typing it, my fingers instinctively entered BAPT), clunky partials (FOR A), words people don't actually use (URGER), tired crosswordese (OBI, NTH - and can we please come up with a new clue for that one? I know there's not a lot to be done there, but I swear it's that exact clue 90% of the time).

Also, who ever has considered a TACO a type of sandwich?

Got much more enjoyment tonight out of the most recent Andy Kravis puzzle. (Potential spoiler I originally noted edited out. Suffice to say, there's a great trick in there.)

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

I concur. A taco is in no way a sandwich.

wreck 12:24 AM  

@ Steve J

The Monday BEQ puzzle tonight is always afun workout as well.

Matt Gaffney 12:29 AM  

Steve J -- what's wrong with PARS? That's not contrived; you can say "Els followed up his six straight pars with four birdies."

Steve J 12:33 AM  

@Matt: Even that example sounds a bit weird to me, but it's better than the uses I tried to run through in my head. So, not as contrived as I had originally thought.

@wreck: Indeed. That's a usual staple of my Monday nights. And if you ever needed to illustrate how the indies have a timeliness advantage, today's BEQ definitely shows that.

... and if he pars the final hole, we go to sudden death! 12:42 AM  

I liked it, and found the BO clues helpful in my solving.

So, here's one for the pro side.

r.alphbunker 12:48 AM  

@Steve J
I implemented the suggestion you made yesterday that metric program allow you to add value to great fill. I took advantage of it today to reward SAPPER.

I have implemented the eseometer part of your PIEDMONTESE system.

The puzzle? fill=93 theme=90. Dinged it for BAP, AEON, ILKS, PARS, URGER. Gave it back some points for SAPPER.

I bet the Earl of Sandwich would have thought that a TACO was a sandwich. But we will never know.

Questinia 12:49 AM  

Mille grazie Maestro Gaffney!


{{{{{{Curtain rises}}}}}}} a chorus of sampled noises made by our blog host as he solves a puzzle- composed by Philip Glass in a crescendo-decrescendo-ing sound loop.

Enter stage right Commodore Pewit (tenor):

♬♭Not optimal !!♯♪

Enter stage left La Contessa d'Ameba (soprano):

♮♫ Not humorous ! ♯♬


♯♬♬♭ Not Modern! ♪♬

Enter Burgermeister Eels (baritone)

♬ But OK in a vacuum! ♯♬

please donate:

ambo carlbo michaelbos 1:02 AM  

I think @Matt is already beginning to channel Rex, as to including what he would have said, and focusing on things he focuses on...
saying what's musty and who would have done a better job and discussing other puzzles...but that's prob why Rex asked him to fill in, same sensibilities, etc.
I hope it doesn't go too far down that road. I appreciate his own take, bec he real does have a phenomenal background and what he can bring to this discussion.

SO I guess I'll channel what I would have said...
I liked it!
I found the BO bouncy and it helped with the solve and it didn't need a reveal, some fun phrases that become something else when ending with Bo!

The thing is, adding BO changes how we perceive a word, and adds a different way of looking at things...and with four themes doesn't demand a reveal.
(Would have been nice were there a title, but that's about the only thing I wish for these days. That way "reveals" can be hinted at without having to take up real estate in the puzzle.

For me that's enough and I'm obviously more easily amused...
no spitting out coffee, no LOL, but I think SOCCERMAMBO is super cute
(and it helps that I have SOCCER hunk Bachelor on in the background for light synchronicity...)

STRUCKDUMBO is a bit sad, not as drastic as opening the puzzle with someone getting stabbed, as per yesterday, but as DUMBO is not a real elephant, it didn't evoke a cringe.

I liked the slight Jewish vibe of torahs and RABBI being set off by BAP(tists) and monks' COWLS.

There was some fun fill: MADCAP, SNAFU,
hmmm, maybe not a LOT, but I had a little frisson here and there, thinking about INFRARED goggles, Fiddler on the Roof, tapped KEGS, ARCHed eyebrows.
And I "heard" OINK! AVAST! CLEAR!

Didn't know SAPPER.

Here's a couple for the sequel...
Dot combo, Chewing gumbo, Chrisanthemumbo jumbo
Nice job, Jeff (you're) STILL ( the) MAN

wreck 1:13 AM  

I eliminated my first post -- my highschool Comp teacher would have been appalled.

Anoa Bob 1:28 AM  

I thought the theme had a lighthearted zaniness, even a MAD CAP feel to it. And STRUCK DUMBO struck me more as a play on the emotional, mental connotations of STRUCK DUMB than on any kind of physical attack on the adorable pachyderm.

PARS is a perfectly legitimate plural methinks, as are the many other POCs liberally sprinkled throughout the grid that reduced the RIGORS of getting 'er filled.

Along with INFRARED and PARAKEET, GAUCHO also struck my fancy.

chefwen 1:58 AM  

Got off on the wrong foot by putting prow in 1A and then thought 2D would surely be oreo. Both obviously incorrect. Wiped out that section for a fresh start. After I secured my footing correctly everything fell in to place and I loved it.

Re. TACO you got your meat and vegies in-between two slabs of CARBS, sounds like a sandwich to me, no problem with that.

Evan 2:06 AM  

DODGE RAMBO = Avoid "your worst nightmare"?

PHANTOM LIMBO = Unreal pole dance?

I'll disagree a bit with Matt in that I find the idea of punching Dumbo to be quite funny. There. I said it. And having said that, I'm mostly confused by TWIST TAE-BO. I get the pun, I just think the phrasing is a little awkward. Maybe it's because I think it would sound more natural as TAE-BO TWIST, since Chubby Checker sang "Let's do the Twist," so.... "Let's do the Twist Tae-Bo" doesn't sound quite right to me.

I'm a fan of the mostly clean fill, though URGER needs to go. I think this would have been better, and URGER-free.


In other news: I won't spoil the new Fireball puzzle, but I will say that I have the worst luck of all time. Yesterday, at 1 pm, I sent in a puzzle idea to Peter Gordon. He rejected it because at about 9 pm, Peter e-mailed out a new puzzle with the exact same idea as mine (and one of the same theme entries). How often does that happen?

wreck 2:08 AM  

Do NOT consult the urban dictionary about tacos and sandwiches. Let's allow for poetic license.

jae 2:51 AM  

Here I was all set to jump in on the "taco is not sandwich" bandwagon (I was totally unqualified to comment on DOLCEgate), but if it works for @chefwen it works for me.

Dary Merckens 5:56 AM  

"Give a hobbit a ring?" is pretty clever wordplay for the clue. You could even say that clue was precious.

A Nonni Nonny 6:06 AM  

What ACME said.
Check Xword Info for a picture of the debut constructor and his comments.

URGER and BAP made me wince (you'd not get away with URGER in Scrabble, I'll bet).

Aw, don't channel Rex. I came over here because of your F'bk announcement, seeking respite from the 'new, improved' site there. Head over to a brewpub with your laptop and write up the puzzle there; maybe it'll help!

jberg 6:42 AM  

Gary HART really did need a "former" or something - or maybe a scandal-linked clue to spice him up. But I liked the theme, and the mostly clean fill, and the warmup for Talk Like a Pirate Day. And I always like ILKS. So on to Wednesday.

Rex Parker 6:42 AM  

Ah, the semi-annual taco/sandwich debate. Is it that time again? It's a question that divides a nation.



usaffrank 7:22 AM  

The "Rank above maj." is not COL (Colonel). It is Lieutenant Colonel, abbreviated either LTC or LT COL, depending on the branch of service.

Loren Muse Smith 7:49 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 7:51 AM  

I liked this more than Matt and others because I liked that all but one weren't just tacking on BO; they were based on sound, and I'm kicking around a couple of ideas that work only phonetically. So in that spirit, I offer my theme copier - LYING LOBO – whopper-tellin' wolf?

I was looking for a reveal, but it didn't really slow me down that there wasn't one. Loved your idea, @jae!

Aw, man. When I saw the clue for TACO, I thought, well here is DOLCE's upstager. I have to say that I'm delighted to be hanging out with such learned people who can argue so emphatically about words and their meanings. I wish I knew enough to wade in sometimes, but, well, I just don't come down very passionately on Latin musical terms. (When choosing a recital piece, I would open the music, step back pretty far from the piano, kind of squint, and choose the one with the most fffffffffs. I didn't see a lot of pppps or DOLCEs.)

But clue PODIUM as "writing desk," and I'll be right there, all incensed and upset. (How can we separate us smart ones from the mortals if online dictionaries keep reflecting all these changes? And they are – believe me. I check. Infer, loan, irregardless. . . They're all there.) I know I'm a linguist and need to embrace change, but I like setting aside a few oft-misused gems that I can point out to students, so that we all can pause and momentarily feel superior.

Like Andrea – I noticed, not so much a Jewish vibe, but a religious vibe: NOAH, SCROLLS, BAP, RABBI, COWLS. . .

"All BRAN"/ DRASTIC. I have a story. 'Nuff said.

We all lurk in our little wheelhouses, and mine most certainly includes OBI. I own one. Somewhere. Never learned how to tie it. Did you know that people go to school and get certified to dress someone properly in a kimono?


I have a EWER, too. And an ETUI on top of my fridge, but I don't call it that.

@Carola – thanks for looking into ADIEU! Yes – it feels more permanent, like "farewell," so a bit sad. Funny that google supports "fond farewell." I once sent an emotional "Dear John" type letter to a French guy who would have sent me one first anyway, and I thought I was just being so mean and hateful to use "vous" the whole time and end with ADIEU. Boy, I really showed him.

I always notice pairs like A LOT/ALLOT, ROLLS/SCROLLS, SIT UP/SPLIT UP but don't mention them because it feels snarky. I just realized I notice them because pairs like that could lead to a new theme. Let's SPLIT UP and take note.

Jeff – congrats on your NY Times debut! Brav OBOE.

Mohair Sam 8:06 AM  

Same exact prow/oreo start as @chefwen. Except we stood by those answers way too long (along with screeds for SCROLLS) and turned an easy Tuesday into medium/challenging.

Don't know why but just didn't enjoy this one. Maybe Matt's point about needing a couple more theme answers and a revealer is why. Kudos, however, for the wonderful hobbit clue.

Emphatic No on the great TACO debate. If meat, veggies, and cheese between slabs of carbs defines a sandwich then we have to include lasagna.

John V 8:08 AM  

Liked it; fun stuff for a Tuesday. SAPPER was totally new to me.

SE made this more challenging than usual.

Congrats on your debut, Jeff!

Dorothy Biggs 8:11 AM  

A taco is a sandwich. It's meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese *sandwiched* between two layers of tortilla...granted, the layers are connected via a fold, but you have a sandwich nonetheless.

Oreos are called "sandwich" cookies. You can be sandwiched between clowns and jokers on chair with a loved one.

SOURCE: I used to eat folded-over PBJs. I put the PB and jelly on half the bread and then fold it over making it sort of a bread taco/sandwich.

Unknown 8:11 AM  

90 percent easy (15 minutes) , 10 percent Saturday (quit after an hour of flogging). NW and North were impenetrable.
Had MADCAP, ACID but took them out when they didn't cross anything. Also tried punk, glam and harD.
ScAM for SHAM.
ceAsE for AVAST.
kind, then warM then nice, but never saw STEM
Googled the smurfs. There are 105. Smurfs are the new argonauts.

In the end, this was a vey challenging puzzle for a Tuesday.

Unknown 8:13 AM  

Matt nailed it. LOL re: 1987. Ho humBO.

MetaRex 8:14 AM  

Liked the twistiness of the MOM-MAM and TIE-TAE changes even as they slowed me down.

Yes to @Evan's fix of the E, and yes to @r.alph's programming energy and imagination!

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

I vote "no" on taco as a sandwich. Try ordering one at a sandwich shop.

Enjoying Matt's commentary.

AliasZ 8:36 AM  

OBOE, the theme left me cold. Brrr. More silly than clever. But than I am a sap, SAPPER than most, and not a big splURGER. I lack a real spinal Columbo. But when I fix my steely gazebo on a cobra, I charm it. Every time I visit the monastery in civilian Garbo, I am met with some disapproving sCOWLS. But then I share some TACO sandwiches with the brothers, and everything seems to fall into placebo.

I couldn't possibly miss the obvious musical choice today. It is the ballet suite Estancia by Argentinian composer Alberto Evaristo Ginastera (1916-1983), the final dance of which is called, appropriately, Danza final: Malambo [starting at minute 9:00 of the video clip]. It is such a great piece, you may want to listen to the whole suite.

Z 8:49 AM  

I assumed somebody would have already pointed this out since it was "obvious" to me. BO on the morning of the SOTU has to be a presidential theme.

I really wanted the Fiddler on the Roof character to be a RABBo - but I stopped myself.

If a TACO isn't a sandwich what is it? Are "wraps" sandwiches? #teamyes.


Not very nice but at least I'm not passive aggressive like some people Z

PS - @lms - Is your avatar a Daily Show reference?

ArtO 8:50 AM  

Did not expect an EASY rating for Tuesday. Thought the Cluing was more end of week and theme trickier than normal for day of week.

Metaphysics 101 8:52 AM  

When the them is changing spelling and adding BO, when you change STRUCK DUMB to STRUCK DUMBO are you changing DUMB to DUM and adding BO, or are you leaving DUMB alone just adding an O?


joho 8:56 AM  

Congratulations on your debut, Jeff@

I liked that it wasn't just add a letter but added two.

BOBO. Nickname for stinky presidential pooch?

@Matt, sad to see you're slipping to the dark side. Liked your write up yesterday much more as it was insightful and refreshing not overly negative.

Joe The Juggler 9:02 AM  
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Z 9:02 AM  

Given the section on the history of sandwiches, I'd say Wikipedia is #teamyes. DOLCE!

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

The missing theme is that today is BO's SOTU. Will SCOTUS CJ lip No to BO again? Hope not.

ludyjynn 9:09 AM  

One glaring error: 46 Down is incorrect, as an "orange exterior" is called "zest"; the interior white skin is the "rind". This was addressed on a Jeopardy episode last week if you don't trust me!

Unknown 9:10 AM  

A TACO doesn't have to be a sandwich to be clued as one. It need only evoke a sandwich. And we don't care if the old Earl never ate one.

Nice that EPIC was clued adjectivally. I missed it. But nice.

The BOs weren't used consistently. Our favorite hobgoblin would have pitched a fit.

Jim near L.A. 9:11 AM  

Aren't the -BO entries just figures of speech with the addition of the letters "O" or "BO"? That's not quite Matt Gafney's interpretation.

For instance, STRUCK DUMBO is a play on the phrase "struck dumb," the reaction of a person who has just received an epiphany. SOCCER MAMBO sounds like "soccer mom." PHONE BILBO is "phone bill."

Evan 9:20 AM  

I stand corrected re: my comment on Fireball. Peter didn't release a new one last night. I just thought he did because everything about the email -- content, subject line -- looked exactly like an email to the Fireball mailing list. I just didn't realize that he sent it only to me.

The puzzle that was very similar to my idea was from two years ago, called "Jumper" by Jim Hilger.

Norm C. 9:27 AM  

I thought the theme was, um, "cute." Best clue in the puz for me was the one for 70A LIST.

SAPPER is a real word, I see, but c'mon. I've never seen it. And on a Tuesday?

And BART could have been more current with a Simpon-ish clue.

Everything else has already been mentioned by others, so good day, all.

OISK 9:30 AM  

Didn't like twisttaebo, which doesn't work for me as well as the other theme entries, which I enjoyed. What's wrong with an occasional "pre 1987" puzzle? As a balance to David Steinberg's 2013 product names ? I enjoyed this one, average time for me. ( I love "Struckdumbo" - )

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

TWIST TAEBO is "twist tie" with BO on it. Not as fun as the others but once I saw that (heard that?), at least it made sense

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

It is official now. I spend more time reading this great blot than doing the puzzle! And that is not a bad thing.

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

That should have read BLOG. not BLOT. Although I'm sure you already figured that out. :-)

Lewis 9:41 AM  

I liked the theme -- thought it was clever, and I wonder how Jeff thought it up.

This was a good ole meat and potatoes puzzle, a blue collar Tuesday workout, a bread and butter solve that keeps the brain ticking. We need these puzzles, because, face it, we can't have puzzle miracles every day. Oh, I greatly appreciate those miracle puzzles when they come along, but I appreciate these as well.

So... thank you Jeff!

chefbea 9:43 AM  

Tough for a Tuesday. Never heard of sapper and had a Natick at Bart and Hart

Guess you would call a sweet/dolce sandwich an Oreo

r.alphbunker 9:44 AM  


I am so glad that you are taking this seriously.

May I make one suggestion? I think a male voice should sing the excerpts from the old Rex Parker blog postings. @John V may be able to help you here.

If you agree to this, I will contribute to your project.

Matt Gaffney 9:57 AM  

Ambo, Nonni and joho -- I'd much rather enjoy a solve than not and write a positive review than a negative one. But this isn't Lake Wobegon, where every crossword is above average. So I have to call them like I see them.

Besides, artists ideally learn from criticism. Since this is Jeff's debut puzzle in the Times, perhaps his next go will have, say, a clever revealer and livelier fill. And then he'll have earned a better review because he made a better puzzle.

Matt Gaffney 10:03 AM  

OISK -- if it's occasional, that's fine. But as I mentioned, there's been exactly 1 clue in the first two puzzles this week that couldn't have been written ten years ago. That's what I'd call a "musty vibe." We'll see if it holds; ideally there's a mix of old and new in puzzles, and that's what I strive for when I write my own. I'm not seeing any new yet, but as I said in my review, we might just be hitting a musty patch here. So I'll keep an open mind.

Part of it might also be the antiquated notion that one daily crossword can be all things to all people. Different demographics like different movies, music, books, TV shows, magazines, etc., which is why such a diversity of those media exist. With crosswords it's only in the past 5-10 years that technology has allowed an explosion of different constructors to get their own styles out there, which is why the Indie puzzles are proving so popular (and numerous). So maybe expecting one crossword to appeal to everybody is the outmoded concept here. But the balance is definitely off these first two days of the week for me (I'm 41 years old, fwiw).

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

A taco is not a sandwich and I speak from personal experience and with the weight of the courts behind me! Years ago one of my partnrs was involved with a dispute between two tenants in a shopping center. One tenant (Panera Bread) argued its lease prohibited "sandwiches" from being sold by other tenants in the center and objected when another new tenant (Qdoba-a taco joint) opened in the center. A lawsuit ensued and the courts ruled that a taco is not a sandwich! See

Milford 10:22 AM  

This puzzle put up a bit of a fight for a Tuesday. Didn't really see the theme until near the end. I was a bit annoyed at the spelling inconsistencies in the theme answers, namely DUMBO not adding a -BO, just an -O. But phonetically it works, so no biggie.

Had Hodel before RABBI. I liked DIANA clued as the goddess.

I'm technically both a dance mom and a soccer mom = SOCCER MAMBO. I'm really not that horrible, though.

No school for the kids again today. They didn't have one full week in January.

RnRGhost57 10:23 AM  

Jeff, congrats on your NYT debut.
MADCAP and ACID--cue Syd Barrett joke.

chefbea 10:25 AM  

On the subject of sandwiches etc…I would classify a taco as a wrap.

quilter1 10:26 AM  

A little dull for me, but easy. I had lath before SLAT which held me up for a moment. I thought of SAPPER immediately (long story) but thought it couldn't be, too rare. But there it was and I was chuffed.

dk 10:27 AM  

A TACO is not a sandwich. Although it does have fill sandwiched in a corn or flour shell… that is not really a shell. A TACO should then be called a SHAM.

I continue my support of Tuesday constructors and opine that Jeff has done a great job. URGER is a bit off but no worse than other fill that is need to finish the job (e.g. iller).

I would have loved to see Bo Bo Brazil as the reveal. Bo Bo along with Haystack Muldoon (sp?) were 1957 (forget 87) stars of professional wrestling and the the delight of a 7-10 year old dk.

When will Gary HART go away. One of the early saps who stood at the helm of Monkey Business claiming he was not giving the spar to the lass reclining in the stern. I suppose being the poster boy for stupid liars warrants…. hey a place in a Tuesday puzzle… fitting.

🌕🌕🌕 (3 Moons) Whats her name is the star lady. From me you just get moons.

d(embittered starman)k

Benko 10:32 AM  

I'm angry! Taco taco taco taco! TaBO! taebo taco!
My brain is going to blow a fuse if the New York Times doesn't stop using all these clues which aren't 100 percent literally factually correct in my opinion!
Taco! Dolce taco!

Steve J 10:39 AM  

Didn't realize there had been a roiling TACO debate here before. Sorry for helping kick open that can of worms today.

(Only additional comment on that: @Z: you ask if a TACO isn't a sandwich, what is it: Why does it have to be anything other than a TACO? Also, a wrap is a burrito under an alias.)

Z 10:47 AM  

@anon10:06 - My natural inclination is towards stare decisis. But then I remember that Dred Scott was property and that separate was equal.

And now that I've taken the TACO kerfuffle into race jurisprudence I shall retire from the field.


Not very nice but hyperbolic Z

PS Wikipedia does mention that a Boston Judge ruled that TACOs are not sandwiches. I don't know if it is the same case.

r.alphbunker 10:48 AM  

A tacu-tacu is a fried Peruvian dish. It is not a sandwich either. You can search google images for it.

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

Z: yes same case. Shopping center was White City Shopping Center just outside of Boston area in Worcester, MA. Case was White City Shopping Center, LP v PR Restaurants, LLC d/b/a Bread Panera: here is copy:

Court held that since a "sandwich is commonly recognized as "two thin pieces of bread, usually buttered, with a thin layer (as of meat, cheese, or savory mixture) spread between them"....therefore "the term sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice of meat, rice, and beans.

But not sure about the butter being an integral part of the sandwich definition...can't remember the last sandwich I had with buttered bread.....

Mohair Sam 12:07 PM  
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Ellen S 12:07 PM  

@anonymous (btw you can "choose an identity" that will show up on your posts, without having to get a Blogger account; makes it easier to say which anonymous commenter one is addressing) -- anyway, by your own citation of the court decision, sandwiches have a THIN layer of stuff spread between the THIN pieces of bread. So something made with foccaccia or on a roll, that's not a sandwich. And no sandwiches are sold at Subway or the other ... non-sandwich shops, whose wares are so stuffed that I can't get them into my mouth.

I'm with @NCA President, above. All kindsa things are sandwiches. Including folded-over bread, or ice cream sandwiches. Some of them would be competition for Panera. Some would not. But most important, a court decision is not the same as the Word of God, that would be the Bible ... or @Rex. "Thin pieces of bread" with a "thin layer" between? Do those people ever eat sandwiches, other than watercress when they take tea with the Queen? Even so, the issue is, is a TACO the kind of sandwich that would compete with Panera? And in the sense of finger food and something to eat having some protein along with the CARB, it could be held to be so -- or, not. When we're in a mall and craving a sandwich, we don't think It's-It, or Oreo. Do we think taco? probably not. So maybe for legal purposes those things aren't sandwiches - an appellate court with different culinary tastes might come to a different decision, or certainly write a different definition in their opinion. But any kind of laminate is a sandwich of sorts.

But a lot of people here are really out of sorts lately. I don't see nothin' passive about all this aggression. Keep it up and I'll go back to my peace group (which is like Syria, but -- so far -- without live ammo).

Breaking news: the Captcha is "vatibly". That must mean something. Sounds like it describes how many of us are posting here.

Mohair Sam 12:09 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob C 12:12 PM  

I found this to be a Callenging Tues. No major hang-ups, just slow all around.

Nice debut by the constructor.

PS - Does it matter if the taco is soft-shell or hard-shell to be a sandwich? Heck, are soft-shell tacos really even tacos?

PPS - captcha is 'nanoebo' - how appropriate

John V 12:15 PM  

OT, but so what.

Saturday I'd the Westport tournament. Who all is going? I shall wear my hat made from a not-so-quick brown fox, probably with @Tita and @imsdave. @mac is away. @ulrich?

Btw, there is a conference center called Dolce near by. Perhaps we can have our fill there?

John V 12:17 PM  


joho 12:23 PM  

@Matt Gaffney, fair enough!

@John V, I was planning on it but have to fly to Orlando for business instead.

chefbea 12:30 PM  

Then there is the club sandwich…which is a triple decker….3 pieces of bread, not two.

And no one has brought up the Dagwood sandwich.

Getting hungry, I think it's time for lunch

Mohair Sam 12:36 PM  

@dk - You're probably remembering Haystacks Calhoun, not Muldoon. Haystacks weighed in at over 600 pounds and grappled in blue bib coveralls. Loved him.

Carola 12:40 PM  

Theme - I really liked the word play and sound play, e.g., how SOCCER mom works perfectly with SOCCER MAMBO - and evokes, at least for me, a funny image. The four answers all work a little differently, so it's not just adding BO. Found it clever and witty.

The rest - I was surprised at @Matt's review; it struck me as I was rasslin' with this one (I found it on the tough side) that there were a lot of non-tired entries - PARAKEET, INFRARED, SAPPER, COWLS, UNEARTH, RIGORS, GAUCHO - and some nice clues.

John V 12:43 PM  

@joho: Orlando can wait :-)

LaneB 12:49 PM  

Not "easy" for me but a reasonable success for both solver and constructor.

Bird 1:14 PM  

OK puzzle, but it felt more like a Monday. Didn’t even notice the –BO endings – just thought the answers were slightly whacky homophones.

No problem with TACO as a type of sandwich.

However, URGER is not a thing!

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Twist Taebo - bo = Twist tie (tae)
Phone Bilbo - bo = Phone bill (bil)
Soccer Mambo -bo = Soccer Mom (mam)
Struck Dumbo - bo = Struck dumb (dum)
There is a theme, subtract the bo and you get common phrases with misspelled endings. These misspelled endings are homophones with the correct endings.

Unknown 2:55 PM  


It's even 15 letters.

Garth 2:56 PM  

Is this blog great or what? Where else would you get an article about a legal ruling about whether a taco is a sandwich or not? Where else would someone sketch out the libretto for an operetta about the word "dolce?"

@Questina: If the operetta ever makes it to the stage, I'd like to audition for the part of the goat.

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

SAPPER and URGER are quite a comBO.

I guessed SAPPER would be the word of the day.

I'd change PSI to CSI.

Nathan LANE! Cute.

Karl 3:09 PM  

This was an OK puzzle except for the fact that a TACO is not a sandwich. Regarding the somewhat musty cluing, it is probably a good thing that Major Hoople didn't have a dog...

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

How about: "country music song left hanging? MrBOdangles

foxaroni 3:22 PM  

I thought the father of Ham was a BOAR? ;-)

Ellen S 3:49 PM  

Foxaroni wins again!

I just finished a lunch of open-faced sandwiches of cheese on thick single slices of Questinia Bread. Really good, but I suppose some court will rule that I have just downed a bunch of TACOs.

sanfranman59 5:11 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Tue 9:32, 8:15, 1.16, 85%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:52, 5:12, 1.13, 82%, Challenging

chefwen 7:11 PM  

@ludyjynn - Just watched that Jeopardy segment, had it recorded, pretty funny, Rind Soap.

victoria 8:07 PM  

@anon 9:07 Was it the CJ who dramatized 'No?' or was it Alito? I seem to recall it was the naughty/haughty Alito, who has not the fortitude to attend the SOTU's after he embarrassed himself.

@ Z: Speaking of stare decisis, here's where the Chief Justice comes in: His whole confirmation hearing emphasized his respect for stare decisis. You knew it was a joke then, as it has proved to be.(Voting Rights anyone?)

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

The jury is still out. That Boston judge's decision has been appealed and will be heard by the Supreme Court in April. The 1st I think

Z 9:15 PM  

It should be noted that the "sandwich decision" arises from a dispute in Shrewsbury, MA, a mere 20 miles west of Natick.

Steve J 9:41 PM  

@Rob C: "are soft-shell tacos really even tacos?" Sacrilege! Hard shells are actually the interlopers, being largely an American, early/mid-20th century creation. Soft shells - i.e., tortillas - for centuries before that, and how Mexicans themselves have them.

Actually, in terms of how they're eaten - filling is put on top of small tortilla or two, then you fold it and eat it - they more closely resemble eating a slice of New York pizza (assuming you fold) than a sandwich. (I'm waiting for a pizza-related answer in the puzzle to start off the next sectarian battle).

Bob Kerfuffle 2:54 PM  

"Is the tomato a vegetable?" Tom Swift asked as he sandwiched in a comment between the regulars and the syndies.

spacecraft 11:15 AM  

One of my favorite games is guessing what nit you guys are gonna work to death in here. I am NOT good at this game. Is a TACO a sandwich? Who the hell cares? I don't like 'em anyway.

Hand up for getting off on the wrong SHOE with PROW. Once disabused of that, I sailed through this pretty quickly. As the few who read here after I've posted know by now, I am a "musty" old fart, and if that means I enjoy grids that feature SAPPERs instead of rappers, so be it.

I don't think anyone else noticed this, but there's a connection between the symmetrical entries at 4d (clue) and 51d (answer). It's to be found in the original (God! Please! The remake was AWFUL; save me from remakes and covers!) "The Manchurian Candidate." Raymond says:

"There I was, looking like GAUCHO Marx...Ben, I just made a joke. Write that down. Today, Raymond Shaw made a joke."

I also liked the SITUP/SPLITUP comBO. Hmm...He started exercising, and she got suspicious...

But much earlier, when he got down on one knee and offered the ring, was he a "merger URGER?" No, that was probably Mom, who kept asking when she was going to become a grandma. And if they both worked in the world's tallest building, it could be a (wait fir it) Burjer merger URGER! In any event, we must struggle to justify that word.

Also unlucky is the appearance of both ALOT and ALLOT, and a few crossword crutches: IOU, TNT, NTH and the especially bad PSST.

The rest of the fill is fine. The four scrabble biggies aren't there, but there are K's, U's, V's and W's and so forth, and it's crunchy enough.

This makes me appreciate dense themes EVER more. It is sometimes astounding that a sensible grid can still be made with nearly twice the theme letters as today's. I don't think that makes this one BAD; rather the denser ones are "extra primo good, sir!"

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Looks like Gaffney is not going to acknowledge the gaff of missing the actual 'deal' of the puzzle, MADCAP as it was, the homonym bits first brought up by the near LA guy.

William Heyman 12:32 PM  

Rank above MAJ is LTC not COL.

Just Askin' 12:54 PM  

@William Heyman - So COL is below MAJ?

Waxy in Montreal 3:02 PM  

Felt like COLumBO trying to solve for the TWISTs involved in today's theme-spelling.

Wondering if Fellini ever contemplated making the EPIC La Dolce Taco? And would a placebo for certain toys be a DOLCEBO? Maybe sold in TACOBO, WA.

I'm OTTO here.

Dirigonzo 4:36 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - it's brave of you to occupy the space that used to be the haunting grounds of spellcasters. Did Tom get an answer to his question, I wonder?

Bob Kerfuffle 5:13 PM  

In brief, I believe that the Supreme Court ruled that for purposes of commerce the tomato is a vegetable, even though botanically it is a fruit. I don't think the Court has ruled on tacos.

Of course, it would have been better if Tom had asked his question "sandwichly."

Dirigonzo 6:33 PM  

It seems to me that "regular" commenters who are gracious (or perhaps bored?) enough to read the syndi-comments and add their thoughts to keep the conversation going provide an important link to unify the two elements of the community - I suppose likening them to the mushers who inspired the Iditarod Trail Race would be overly melodramatic, but you get the idea. Anyway, my point is these occasional contributors to our space should have a special name to give recognition to the role they play in linking our remote outpost to the community at large. After only a little thought (and perhaps a little bourbon) I came up with these possibilities:
Psuedo-syndie - I like the alliteration but it has a negative connotation that doesn't apply.
Syndie-loper - my favorite from a purely punny perspective (did you get the pop-culture reference?) but it suggests an "unwanted" presence, which is certainly not the case here!
Syndi-thizer - OK this is not too bad, I think. It could be a contender.
Supra-syndie - The high-brow favorite because it's based on the Latin (Rexvillians seems to love Latin)for "above", and their comments do in fact appear above ours. The term may apply on another level, too, but I'll leave that for the reader to decide.
So what say you @Bob Kerfuffle, @Z, @Tita, and @Gill I.P. (for example), how would you like to be known around these parts?
Or maybe we should just turn the entire matter over to @ACME who is, after all, a professional namer.
Or maybe I should just have another drink and forget the whole thing.

strayling 7:11 PM  

Nice pop pun.

How about we call them "Synchronauts"?

strayling 7:36 PM  

I hate to say it, but this puzzle was not one of my favourites, even though I liked the idea. A fun theme messed up by inconsistent execution.

Soccer mAm? No.

Phone bilBO? Ok, so now you're dropping the last letter and replacing it with BO. Appropriate, if not in a flattering way.

Twist-tae-BO. So now it's pronunciation hm?

Struck dumBO. Well at least that one works.

Reveal: Something which stinks (2)

Dirigonzo 8:06 PM  

@Strayling - Hah! Thanks for reading and getting the pun. "Synchronauts" definitely has possibilities!
As to the "add BO" theme, I have only this to add: BO

Z 8:07 PM  

Ooooh - I like the spaciness of @strayling's offering.

Ginger 9:04 PM  

Found this one pretty tough. Plunked in hihat at 37-A, and fouled up any chance for a quick solve. Finally got er done, in spite of my self imposed ink blot mess.

@Spacey thanks for the chuckle

@Diri and any 'regulars' that are here. IMHO Love your input, and waiting for your answers to Diri's list.

8' over 3's

Steve J 9:33 PM  

"Synchronauts" has a great ring to it.

Although @Dirigonzo's suggestion just to all drink some bourbon has tremendous appeal.

dmast 4:14 PM  

Hello from syndicated land. Just received this puzzle, and is definitely not a favorite! First, not a fault of the puzzle creator, this was NOT an easy puzzle for me and I assume other non-Friday and non-Saturday type solvers.

As to puzzle content, two thumbs down. I have been doing MYT puzzles for a couple of years now, and must have missed the memo that said that substituting homophones for actual words was acceptable. It would seem to me that if the NYT puzzles are not rigorously accurate, what is the point? For me it is to be reminded of an learn new topics such as arts and history, as well as interesting (accurately spelled) words. So, soccermambo needs to be soccer mombo, twisttaebo needs to be twisttiebo, etc., neither of which works of course.

Finally, the worst clue in the puzzle, for me was "urger". Only in a crossword puzzle would you find "urger" and to me it does not represent the clue "prompter" anyway. Prompters don't urge, they prompt, remind, suggest.

Just my opinion of course.

Dirigonzo 6:11 PM  

@dmast - thanks for joining in the conversation in syndi-land. Your opinion is just a valid any anyone's - I'm sure you noticed there is a wide range of opinions expressed about every puzzle and there's no need to be shy about voicing yours. Come back soon!

Unknown 3:21 AM  

While many learned professors have abandoned hope of ever discovering the truth behind small goal soccer, I for one feel that it is still a worthy cause for examination. I really, really like small goal soccer. Indispensable to homosapians today, it is impossible to overestimate its impact on modern thought.

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