Celebrity chef Matsuhisa / WED 3-8-17 / Sin City forensic drama / Roman counterpart to Helios

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium, maybe slightly north (I had software issues)

THEME: TREASURE M.P. — Familiar phrases ending in a three-letter word where that word's central letter has been removed, creating abbreviated wackiness:

Theme answers:
  • "WHAT'S UP, DOC?" (17A: "How's it goin', Washington?") (shouldn't there be yet another "?" at the end of this clue? You know, Wackiness Rules?)
  • HOPPING M.D. (26A: E.R. worker who sprained an ankle?) (probably not a great idea putting a two-letter initialism in your clue, thus highlighting a perfectly viable theme answer option you didn't use)
  • TYRANNOSAURUS RX (37A: Prescription for a prehistoric carnivore?)
  • ZIP YOUR LP (48A: "Keep that record in its case!"?)
  • CHEW THE CD (57A: Mistake a shiny disc for a cookie?)
Word of the Day: COLOMBO (30A: Sri Lanka's capital) —
Colombo (Sinhala: කොළඹ Kolamba, pronounced [ˈkəlɐmbɞ]; Tamil: கொழும்பு) is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka. According to the Brookings Institution, Colombo metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million, and 752,993 in the city proper. It is the financial centre of the island and a popular tourist destination. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the legislative capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital since Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is within the urban area of, and a satellite city of, Colombo. It is also the administrative capital of Western Province, Sri Lanka and the district capital of Colombo District. Colombo is a busy and vibrant place with a mixture of modern life and colonial buildings and ruins. It was the legislative capital of Sri Lanka until 1982. // Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago. It was made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British Empire in 1815, and its status as capital was retained when the nation became independent in 1948. In 1978, when administrative functions were moved to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo was designated as the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. (wikipedia)
• • •

Weird coincidence: I was thinking about TYRANNOSAURUS RX as a form of wordplay literally just yesterday, for reasons now lost to time. I mean, it's got my "name" in it, so it's not *that* surprising, but I have no idea what occasioned the thought. It certainly didn't seem that theme-worthy, but here we are. There's a certain cleverness to this, but also a certain thinness. You could keep going. MISS AMERICAN P.E. is a perfect 15. DON'T TASE ME, B.O. works less well, but you get the idea. BELOW P.R., CHEWING G.M., COUSIN I.T.? KEYSTONE K.P.? BOBBY O.R.? YOU'RE THE T.P.? A little brainstorming could take you all kinds of places.

[You're Mickey Mouse]

A really good constructor would've seen this theme as a great opportunity to make a meta puzzle. Instead of having an arbitrary set of answers, why not have a set where the "missing" letters in each answer end up spelling out ... something. I mean, this set isn't even a straight vowel progression (where the missing letter is first A, then E, then I...) (though, to its minor credit, the "missing" letter is a different vowel every time). Also, "chew the cud" is not a thing. You chew the fat. A cow chews *its* cud. Anyway, bad form to clunk your final themer. I did appreciate INDOOR CAT and AS WE SPEAK, though. Those are nice answers.

This was challenging in two respects. First, the themers were often tough to come up up with from those clues. The first one, in particular, seems to refer to George Washington, not the place Washington. You greet people that way, not places. So even though "What's up, Doc?" is a classic phrase, I had "WHAT'S UP..." and no idea what came next. That took me right into the one section that was challenging in a second respect: odd / arcane. DA CAPO into COLOMBO into NOBU and through MILLIBARS and OLD SOUL. That last one is clued in a way that is totally unfamiliar to me. [One who leads a quiet, measured life]? That sounds like a hermit. I think of "wise beyond one's years" as being the definition, whether one parties hard or not. Ugh. Bad. COLOMBO crossing NOBU was just an example of proper nouns I totally forgot. I know NOBU only from xwords, and even though I've seen it for years ... doesn't stick. Also, HOPPING M.D. (in this same section) was really hard to come up with. I had HELPING ... something at one point, because neither "E.R. worker" nor "sprained an ankle" was telling me much of anything. I think it's a fine clue—it's just a tough clue in the middle of the puzzle's roughest patch.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:29 AM  

What a great theme idea! And the grid is not only clean and lively, it never feels moldy. I like the ZOOMS out next to the imbedded INSET, and, like Rex, the answers INDOORCAT and ASWESPEAK.

I would humbly request that our current leader GET_OFF_THE_BS.

Loren Muse Smith 6:40 AM  

Aw, man – double dnf with the crosses of OSRIC/ISU and DECAPO/COLOMBO. I almost didn’t guess the B in COLOMBO. In retrospect, I should have remembered OSRIC. But since COLOMBO is Sri Lanka’s capital, I imagined the word could have been pretty exotic-looking. And, Rex - the clue for OLD SOUL threw me, too – I didn’t know you had to be old to lead a quiet, measured life. Overthinking 101.

Liked the long downs - my INDOOR CAT AS WE SPEAK is watching a SOAP OPERA.

Liked TORTURE crossing UKE. Usually, right? And AARP is right next to OLD SOUL. Cool. Gimme an OLD SOUL over an old sole any day.

@jberg from yesterday – “on gear.” Nice.

@Lewis – you beat me to the BS joke. I was probably changing my avatar as you typed! Great minds and all that…

puzzlehooarder 6:44 AM  

If I had done this on paper I probably would have had a dnf on the COLOMBO/NOBU crossing. As it was I had to play whack-a-vowel on my tablet to finish. That capital has only made it into a puzzle once before and since that was a Sunday I'm sure I didn't do it. NOBU has seen a lot of use but I've never annotated it before and it's just slipped through the cracks. The Wikipedia page on his Aspen restaurant is interesting. I love old Colorado landmarks.

Forsythia 6:44 AM  

Guessed the Naticks correctly so got the Happy Pencil but no real idea of NABU or COLOMBO or DACAPO, or INREM so that whole corner was guessing from crosses. Not a fan of this one. I like themed puzzles and T RX was obvious so no "aha". But Rex should be happy that we get AHH instead of AH for feeling good. I would say easy except for the above area. Something must be off that I am second poster!

Forsythia 6:47 AM  

Well, fourth poster by the time it came up!

Charles Flaster 7:02 AM  

Liked the theme and easy to suss. Originally thought the missing letter would be in proximity to the actual answer. But it only worked with HOPPING MD as the "A" was above the "D". Also in TYRANNOSAURUS RX.
Naticked, like others, at NOBU/COLOMBO.
Favorite clue was for MENSA.
Thanks PG.

Outside The Box 7:02 AM  

Fun puzzle but never heard of Da Capo. Also, the answer is not "whatsupdoc," it's "whatsupdc."

Bobo the Crossword Solving Chimpanzee 7:04 AM  

AWS 7:16 AM  

The Midland/NE hung me up for far too long after I confidently filled in limPINGrn, thinking to myself a) limping run isn't much of a phrase, and b) since that uses up my missing u, the last themer is maybe... CHEWING THE C(o)D? Which again, little weak, but who am I to judge? Wasn't impressed by the theme at first, but I have trouble coming up with any better phrases ending with a two-letter abbreviation, including the ones Rex put forward.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

Knowing the Sri Lankan capital was Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, I thought we were in for the mother of all rebuses, and was disappointed with what I got instead.

Loved the theme (even while thinking the missing vowels should be in order and/or we should have a missing ‘y’).

Normally a puzzle with both AAH and HAH would get my dander up, but this one won me over with the theme. It was, however, Monday-easy.

kitshef 7:24 AM  

Google ngramGoogle ngram of chew the cud, chew the fat, and indoor cat, reveals that chew the cud is and always has been the most used (though if they went past 2000, I bet indoor cat would edge ahead).

Kim Scudera 7:35 AM  

I perform in DC regularly, and I can tell you that "What's up, D.C.?" Is *definitely* a thing. The awkward part is when the person behind the mic forgets where the heck they are, and there's that slight hesitation: "What's up... D.C.?" Or the even more awkward "What's up, Virginia?" When they aren't in Virginia. Touring is tough on a person...

I enjoyed the puzzle, sweeping through in a Tuesday-ish time. I liked the themers -- and I really enjoyed Rex's ideas! – have definitely heard the expression "chew the cud", and got lucky remembering the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, because otherwise it would've been Natick city at that O.

evil doug 7:38 AM  
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evil doug 7:44 AM  
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r.alphbunker 7:48 AM  

Was not at all certain of 30A {Sri Lanka's capital} COLOMBO/8D {From the beginning, in music} DACAPO at the end. Thought it odd that a foreign capital was named after a TV detective but now realize that the detective is spelled Columbo.

Details are here.

CFXK 7:58 AM  

One wonders if in four year from now when someone digs into the NYTimes archives to solve this puzzle the answers to 23A and 44A will still be correct.

Tita 8:23 AM  

Got the second themer, and thought they're all shortening of medical folks. Got to the RX one, and thought...ok - medical stuff.

Despite getting naticked at NAbU, I liked the idea. This was fun to solve.

Also liked CHEWTHEC[u]D over KALE. Humans need four stomachs to successfully chew and digest a raw KALE salad. Not that I'm against raw KALE...just don't charge me $30 a plate for it on the Upper East Side!

Punctuated equilibrium 8:25 AM  

Loved the theme, made me smile.

evil doug 8:26 AM  



Hungry Mother 8:43 AM  

Double Natick is why I prefer the LA Times puzzle. A really fun theme spoiled by trivia.

Z 8:46 AM  

Hey, a STOUT instead of our usual "ale" in the pub today.

@Lewis - I'd stop at "good." This doesn't cross the line into "Great" territory for me. Now, if Gamache had taken the Mixed MEDIA concept and had all the themers be MEDIA related (we have CD, LP and HD already, although that last isn't a themer) then I'd have gone to "great."

@kitshef - Thanks for the research. I had a brief moment of worry that I was misremembering CHEW THE C(U)D. I suspect that it may be the difference between growing up in a small town in farm country instead of suburbia. Or maybe it's just that we don't like to think about re-chewing our partially digested meal. Hmm, yummy.

@CFXK - The Geneva Conventions are not subject to Executive Order or Legislative action, being international treaties. A country could withdraw from the treaties, but that wouldn't change what the treaties prohibit.

Stanley Hudson 8:49 AM  

Happy International Women's Day to all of the wonderful ladies who grace this blog.

Hartley70 8:57 AM  

I'm with you on the KALE, @Tita and @r.alph! I ordered it in a too cool NYC bistro and could not chew my way through the vile stuff. I would have liked my money back.

This Wednesday was just about right for me. The only entry that I absolutely did not know was DACAPO. I managed to dredge up COLOMBO from the abyss. The wacky themers worked but I agree with Rex that the missing letters, if used, would have taken this to another level.

I would rate this an easy-medium.

Nancy 8:57 AM  

Is this puzzle a SHUTOUT to RX?

I've glanced at some of the comments -- enough to see that most of you so far seem to like this. I was underwhelmed by it, owing to a lack of "crunch"; straightforward, uninteresting cluing; and a theme that seems sort of silly, but not in an especially rib-tickling way. Mildly diverting, but no more -- at least not for me.

pmdm 9:17 AM  

To unknown (up top): The term DA CAPO is frequently used in classical music to describe the form of a song (DA CAPO ARIA) that was very popular in the 19th century operas, cantatas and so forth. You start off singing what sounds like a complete song, but after it finishes you continue singing a middle section. When the middle section ends, the composer writes DA CAPO at the end of the music, and you repeat the first part of the song. Bach uses this form in many movements in his church cantatas. He also uses it in the first movement of most of the six English [dance] keyboard suites.

To Hungry Mother: I agree with you that trivia can diminish the fun of a puzzle. But my lack of knowledge of trivia doesn't diminish my enjoyment of solving the puzzle to the extent I can. My hands are not large enough to enable me to correctly play some of the piano music written by Rachmaninoff, who had very large hands. I simply cannot stretch my hands open enough to play some of the chords he writes. But it doesn't diminish my pleasure of playing the pieces to the extent I can and just fudge some of the chords. Just an observation.

RAD2626 9:19 AM  

Like most liked the puzzle and the clever theme. Like a few, kicked it on OSRoC. Thought the Cyclones were Oklahoma State. IMO the real highlight was the four down 9's. Each one of them was excellent. Not a leaker in the bunch.

RooMonster 9:33 AM  

Hey All !
Pretty decent pz. (See what I did thete?) Not sure why Paula didn't go in vowel order. All the themers are nine letters. Could've swapped them around.

SKOAL is a Huh? Has Salut there. NE corner kind of a cluster. Clues odd up there, plus INREM not that common (to me, I'm sure if in legal field it's known). Played Guess the Vowel at OSRIC/ISU cross. Guessed A. Not.

Had same problem as Rex with the first themer, the ole brain kept thinking George Washington. WHATS UP GW? Then got D in AID, and wanted DG for dog. But then thought the S was superfluous, it'd be WHAT UP D(o)G. But then realized this explanation was way too long.

So, cool idea. Another lots of threes puz. We had 28 on Monday, 28 on Tuesday, and 22 today. Oof (another one!)


QuasiMojo 9:36 AM  

Honestly, guys, what is "clever" about this theme? It's banal. The clues and answers are absurd, not even funny. ZIP YOUR LP? Puh-leeze. In fact, they were TORTURE to type in. It only took me ten minutes to fill it in without even blinking (aside from holding back tears) but I'd like to have them back. On to the WSJ now and perhaps a LAT to make up for this silly waste of time.

Mohair Sam 9:39 AM  

@Kitshef - I read your "Knowing the Sri Lankan capital was Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, I thought we were in for the mother of all rebuses" wisecrack out loud to Lady Mohair and she can't stop laughing.

Played Wednesday challenging for us, and we were happier with this one than @Rex for sure. Thought the theme was really clever.

Kinda guessed Rex'd be unhappy with CHEWTHECD. I hadn't heard the "cud" use of chewing the fat for a long time, but it was a favorite of my father's - so it's real enough. Knew neither DACAPO nor COLOMBO but were saved by having known a nice Italian girl in high school last name of CAPO. Didn't know NOBU either, but thought the "O" ending was a better sound for Indian cities (COLOMBO), notwithstanding Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.

GHarris 9:42 AM  

Ran into trouble in the same area as Rex. Was bailed out by googling Colombo which enabled me to complete the grid. How is that different from getting help from the happy pencil for those who solve electronically?

Unknown 9:42 AM  

Maybe it's regional. "Chew the cud" is a perfectly cromulent term in my lexicon.

Katzzz 9:47 AM  

Agree with Rex re: clue for "old soul." A pretty big stretch from its actual meaning. But an entertaining Wednesday overall.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:57 AM  

The way to eat KALE is in soup, cooked for many hours in a hotpot. With or without chourico.

Nothing DOING should have been nothin' doin'. NEver heard the other phrase.

GILL I. 10:00 AM  

I'm a Paula fan and enjoy her whimsy. I always know she will toss in a musical reference like DACAPO that I don't know but I usually figure them out.
WHATS UP DC made me smile and that's about it. I'm also INREM on the "Mistake a shiny disc for a cookie?" clue. CHEW THE CD isn't making sense to me even with the CUD.
NOBU took me forever and I don't know why. He's everywhere. I'd bet he'd say eating raw KALE is akin to TORTURE. @Tita @Hartley if you are served raw KALE in a restaurant, send it back and tell the chef you can't abide goitrogenic veggies because you have thyroid issues. That'll raise some eyebrows.
SLOTH sitting next to KANYE now that's a SOAP OPERA.

chefbea 10:13 AM  

Too tough for me. Knew the last of the themers were two letters but had to come here to find out why

mathgent 10:15 AM  

One of my rare disagrees with @Nancy. I liked it very much. Twelve red plusses in the margins, high for a Wednesday. I learned DACAPO, COLOMBO (I didn't even know that Sri Lanka was an island), and NOBU. I was tickled by HOPPINGMD.

CFXK 10:24 AM  

@Z I am quite aware of the status of the Geneva Conventions as an international treaty. You, however, seem to have inferred something in my comment that was not there, to wit an assertion that the Geneva Conventions could be amended unilaterally by the United States by executive order or legislative action. No such thing was stated, implied or intended. The comment refers, instead, to the re-emergence and growing popularity of extreme-right nationalist movements internationally. Should these be successful, the Conventions regarding what constitutes torture could, indeed, be subject to such amendment by the signatories.

Alex 10:25 AM  

Fun puzzle. I didn't have much trouble - the themers all came pretty easily once I had a couple of crosses - the first one I caught was WHATSUPDC, although for a while I had WHAsSUPDC. The difficulty for me was in the southeast, with the OSRIC/ISU cross.

Numinous 11:04 AM  
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Joe Bleaux 11:09 AM  

"Chew the cud" was a new one for me, too (but then, I also thought "indoor cat" was sort of green paint, if that tells you anything, although the other nine downs were solid.) And hand up on "old soul." Overall, a nice little Wednesday number from Ms. Gamache. Oh,yeah ... @whoever-is-moving-on-to-LA-puz-for-a-challenge: Say whaaat?

Numinous 11:13 AM  

I knew Tex Avery, the originator of "What's up Doc". He gave Bugs thaat line as a tip of the hat to his high school buddies who used that phrase in Indiana, I believe it was. I actually spoke to him the last day he was around. He wasn't feeling well and someone asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital. He said, "No. If I go to the hospital, I won't be back." He died two days later.

Mrs. N is addicted to cooking shows, Iron Chef among them. NOBU Matsuhisa was a regular on that show. Took me a second to suss his first name. When he started on that show, he spoke no English at all.

I god a kick out of this theme even though @Rx used his fine toothed comb on it. Both @Rx and @Jeff Chn at xwordinfo bemoaned the fact that the vowels weren't in sequence. Yeah, that would have been nice but that it didn't happen wasn't a deal-breaker. I even took a quick look to see if that had occurred. I didn't like INDOOR CAT but that's a personal preference for pets and has little to do with crossword puzzles. Both of our dogs are primarily outdoor dogs these days, they have too much energy to be inside in the daytime. With thier romping they'd break everything in the house.

Three years of high school music taught me DA CAPO. It always left me thinking, damn, we have to play this again? I have a hard time listening to songs I know all the way through, especially the ones that repeat a phrase or line of lyric five or six times. "Please, just get on with it!!!!" With influences like John Fahey and Sandy Bull, I was always more interested in playing music than songs on my guitar if y'all can follow the distinction. Playing the header to something like Summertime once or twice then just fooling around with it always amused me much more.

One of the things I like about this blog is that is is a shiny cookie and gives everyone a chance to CHEW THE CD. Some folks sprain their egos and get HOPPING MD but it all levels out over time.

AS WE SPEAK i need to get ready to run errands. It's Social Security day and the supermarket calls.

Google Ngram Team 11:21 AM  

As ever, we are pleased to find people using Google Ngram - for whatever reason, be it academic research or to argue about crossword puzzles. Certainly a link to, or a copy of, a Ngram (if it makes your point) makes your point to great effect.

What we do encourage people to do is to utilize the links below the graph where you can see the actual excerpts from books that contain the phrase you're searching. Say for example you're looking for support of the phrase "chew the cud", and comparing it to other phrases. If you were to look at the actual citations in books for the phrase "chew the cud" you would see that it's a direct excerpt from Leviticus, and that the first 100 or so citations we've found are explicitly Leviticus, or direct references to that.

So, if you take advantage of that you wouldn't appear quite so foolish as to think that the mere trace of an Ngram would support your contention that "chew the cud" was common parlance.

puzzlehooarder 11:25 AM  

If I had done this on paper I probably would have had a dnf on the COLOMBO/NOBU crossing. As it was I had to play whack-a-vowel on my tablet to finish. That capital has only made it into a puzzle once before and since that was a Sunday I'm sure I didn't do it. NOBU has seen a lot of use but I've never annotated it before and it's just slipped through the cracks. The Wikipedia page on his Aspen restaurant is interesting. I love old Colorado landmarks.

Moly Shu 11:26 AM  

I liked it, maybe a tad too easy for a Wednesday. Somehow knew COLOMBO and NOBU. The ISU/OSRIC was also no problem. Only minor hiccup was in the CNN HOHO INHD area, sorta stared at that area for more than a few nanoseconds (hi @M&A). Yesterday DONTSPEAK, today GWEN.
@CFXK, so you just picked "in four years from now" as an arbitrary time span?

Joseph Michael 11:27 AM  

Another victim here of NOBU and COLOMBO (which I thought was a Peter Falk role), but enjoyed the whimsical theme and was impressed that the missing letter in each themer was a different vowel. Thus a haiku has RISEN:

Torture arty rat
Chew the CD as we speak
Glum indoor cat tricks

Mazel TV

Greg 11:42 AM  

COLOMBO/NOBO total guess. Knew DACAPO cuz music is my thing.

Masked and Anonymous 11:55 AM  

Still tryin to figure out for sure which letter that NOBU answer is missin. I'm kinda partial to droppin G's, so let's go with NOBUG.

Cute theme idea. WHATSUPDC?, indeed. That was by far my most fave themer. Not to step on anyone else's duck, but like others above, I don't recall ever havin to ZIP my LPs. Sooo … that was my least fave themer.

Yo, @RP. Primo extra themer suggestions. Variant on one of yers = FLIPONESTP. Money-savin & tree-savin idea. Also: BEACHBM! Save on water. Brunch test problems? thought so.

staff weeject picks: NSW & WPM. Talk about yer vowel re-movements.

Rare-in-the-wild double X is lookin good, in EXXON. DACAPO/COLOMBO/NOBU was M&A's toughest cross to bear. Liked the long bombs of INDOORCAT and ASWESPEAK. Only varmint we got at our house is a SEMICAGEDBUDGIE. And a PATIOKITTY, which ain't ours, but hangs in our backyard a lot. The budge issues kitty alerts, whenever such visits begin. But, I digress.

Desperation admiration society pick: That there NSW+AHH+TETRAD corner … Sorta like how it fires up the chainsaw, to carve the leftover meatloaf. Honrable mention to NOBU(G), tho, of course.

This was one of them medium-length solvequest dealies, and I had some mighty tolerable fun. Thanx, Paula Gamache darlin. Nice WedPuz.

Masked & Anonymo6.5Us

PICKLEJR? Hey, that coulda been a contender …


Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Former Fall Riverite here...kale soup without chourico? You obviously weren't raised by a vavo.

Aketi 12:15 PM  

It just dawned on me that I never HOP when I am MaD. I save my HOPPING for when I am happy.

skua76 12:22 PM  

Worst Wed. epic fail in a long time. After seeing the Z I threw in ZeisS for 48 down and never was able to recover...thought 62A was sENSe and ended up with an INDOOR peT. Then things were too far gone for me to see OSRIC...ouch.

old timer 12:25 PM  

I timed myself which I often don't on a Wednesday. 20 minutes, so my M-W times are, in order, 10, 13, 20.
The puzzle was just a little crunchy. I knew COLOMBO from reading the atlas so often as a child,


The above is a live version if the Christmas Jug Band's notorious "Santa Lost a Ho". Thought of it immediately when HOHO appeared.

Dick Swart 12:26 PM  

NB 'Aria da Capo' is a play by Edna St Vincent Millay. Premiered at the Provincetown Playhouse in 1920. Produced in NY at the Playwrights Theatre.

In his review, Alexander Woolcott wrote

“you should see this bitterly ironic little fantasy. ... it would not be difficult to defend the statement that, aside from its limitations of production and performance, this is the most beautiful and most interesting play in the English language now to be seen in New York.”


Gerrythek 12:57 PM  

Serious question: who decided the order for vowels should be AEIOU or, more broadly, how did the order of letters come about?

Larry Gilstrap 1:05 PM  

I thought that was a good old-fashioned Wednesday puzzle with a fun theme, but what do I know? What possible nits will OFL find? How about the fact that the missing vowels are not in alphabetical order? WHAT'S UP DaC? Color me prescient.

When somebody reminds me that I already told them what I have begun to tell them, my response is a variant of the phrase CHEW THE CuD, as in the #2 definition of "ruminate," according to my phone.

Mini rant: Any idea how many wild birds are killed by domestic animals? Responsible pet owners live with an INDOOR CAT. Despite millions of years of evolution, wild birds are totally unprepared for the menace presented by that seemingly lovable family pet.

Travelling In Cog Neat-o 1:09 PM  

Today, you can be @Gerry KALE.

As in Joshua Fit the Battle of Gerry KALE...

JC66 1:16 PM  

@Gerry Kahle

Maybe because they're in alphabetical order.

RooMonster 1:35 PM  

LOL! A genuine tehee moment!

@Gerry Kahle,
Try this site here.


Trombone Tom 1:35 PM  

"A really good constructor would've . . .." Sorry, Rex, I think Paula Gamache IS a really good constructor. This puz was somewhat challenging with a touch of humor.

Of course, I knew DA CAPO. With WHAT'S UP DC and NEA and TORTURE I thought at first there might be a political theme.

foxaroni 2:23 PM  

Using whoever's "alphabet-run/use the most logical letter" suggestion (apologies for not remembering your name, "whoever") the Sri Lanka capital could have ended in a, e, probably not i, o, or u. That would have made the chef NABU, NEBU, NOBU or NUBU. All looked feasible to me.

I especially liked "hopping m.d." and "tyrannosaurus r.x."

For all you nitpickers (and I mean that in a kind, humorous way), the last theme answer is an outlier, because it's the only one where one of the abbreviations changes sounds when the missing vowel is inserted. It changes from "see-dee" to "kud."

Enjoyed the puzzle a lot. Thanks, Ms. Gamache.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

if you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that Z will not let you have the last word, right. Doesn't matter how wrong he is, what the subject is, the only way to get the final word with his is to dare him to keep his pie hole closed.

Blackbird 4:39 PM  

Rex's problems were my gimme's: da capo, millibar, Colombo, Nobu, old soul. All depends on your cultural frame of reference, what's in your wheelhouse. InHD would never occur to me. I knew RBI, but I don't follow sports or care about them. Osric, a gimme. So was tyrannosaurus rx, once I got the rx part with the emerging theme. Kale, skoal, and deco, easy peasy. In rem, not my frame of reference. Pleasant puzzle. Okay theme. Zip your lip tipped me to the theme.

Blackbird 4:43 PM  

Masked and Anonymous, nothing missing in Nobu. Nobu is a name. And Nobu is a well-known NYC restaurant. Fine food!

RooMonster 5:22 PM  

Also @M&A,
NUBU(G) are in NOBU. Nice clean place.

Rascally Roo

jae 6:11 PM  

Odd theme, nice long downs, liked it.

beatrice 6:46 PM  

Many interesting comments today.

Thank you @Stanley H. for a lovely and thoughtful comment; @ Dick S. - this looks extremely interesting..; @pmdm Appreciate your description of DA CAPO - in the Baroque period, the other significant feature of a da capo aria was that the the first (A) section was typically expected to be ornamented per the ability and taste of the performer(s). One of my favorites is Handel's 'Tornami a vagheggiar' from his opera "Alcina".


BarbieBarbie 7:04 PM  

The best themer was here... @Joseph Michael, MAZEL TV... HAH!
Good puzzle, felt easy, filled it in without hesitating, but I hasten to add my actual time was well into the double digits. No bad software-- anyway, not in my iPad. Thanks NYT.
Yes, a political theme. First DOC goes to DC and then there is Hopping MD and RX... Fits my theory about those same-time-every-day Tweetstorms. Well, as long as the rest of the day is good, Mazel TV!

jberg 7:56 PM  

I solved very late, yet there are only 66 comments. Something must be wrong with the site.

Like many, I liked it. @Rex doesn't really state the theme correctly -- it's 'leave out a vowel,' not 'leave out a letter.' And It uses the 5 core vowels, although of course it would have been nice to put them in the arbitrary order of the alphabet.

It's weird -- If you'd asked me "What's the capital of Ceylon?" I'd have said "Colombo" right off. But even though I knew Sri Lanka was the same place, I couldn't think of it until I had the B.

@Tita - my daughter gave us 3 weeks of Blue Apron for Christmas -- they send you all the ingredients for a meal, plus instructions for making it. When one of the dishes was Kale Caesar Salad, the recipe said to 1) remove all the stems, and 2) knead the leaves for 5 minutes (or maybe it was 10 - that was Martha's night to cook!). It made all the difference.

@Gill I. - the clue is for the answer as put in the puzzle, that is, "chew the shiny disk_ because you thought it was a cookie. That confused me, too.

@Loren, NO GEAR, not ON GEAR, but that works, too. I trained my pet bull go gore an intruder. Weak, I know.

old timer 8:11 PM  

The alphabet goes back a long time. Greek and Hebrew both start with A (alpha, alef). I think the Sumerians came up with it first. The Greek alphabet (Alpha, Beta, Gamma (in Latin that would be a hard C), Delta, Epsilon, is the basis for the Latin alphabet. Though the Greek order diverges from the Latin at that point, it comes back with Iota, Kappa, Lambda, Mu, Nu, Omicron, Pi, Rho, Sigma, Tau, Upsilon. (Q is not a Greek letter, I and J are the same in both Greek and Latin, and Xi comes in there somewhere).

The order of letters is written in stone, you might say.

Norm 9:00 PM  

@Z Thank you for your response to CFXK. Despite his attempt to spin his comment, it remains the case that 44A will be a correct answer four years from now and long after that. Now, 23A is a different matter.

OISK 10:23 PM  

Very easy and amusing. No complaints at all!

Mr. Fitch 12:02 AM  

Rex was unfair on a couple points here. "Chew the cud" absolutely is a thing (as is "chew the fat"). To avoid all doubt, here's the dictionary entry: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/chew--the--cud

And you often do greet places (and by extension the people in them) with "What's up, [place]?" in the context of a concert. That one is fine.

Unknown 12:56 AM  

This may be a total Mental Bloc, but I cannot make the connection between clue and answer for Competitor of Tide

Unknown 1:42 AM  

Brutal NE corner for me. I had MEDIA, DOING, and ASSAD and was still helpless with that cluing of ERA and then INREM (!?!?!). That was the stubbornest non-Saturday corner I've seen in ages, and it was a big fat DNF for me.

Woolite 9:35 AM  


Tide, the laundry detergent. Another brand is Era.

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Chewing the cud is ruminating on a matter. It is or was "a thing" as in an idiom. Chewing the fat is talking with someone about many different things for (maybe) a long time. It is also an idiom that I seldom hear anymore. Who cares how much it is or was used because I'm pretty sure more people in the world chew the fat than chew the cud in a lifetime.

Tita 1:52 PM  

@jberg...My gardeing friend massages her KALE too.

Just for the record - I love KALE! If it's fresh from th garden, I might eat it raw, though I pr3efer it cooked, as @GFRC mentions.

My objection to it is two-fold...
I scoff at foods that suddenly are deemed "trendy" - especially food that was traditionally considered what poor people ate, (like quinoa)
when due to said trendiness, an Upper East Side bistro (might've been the same one, @Hartley!) charges over $30 for it!

@Greater Fall River - your handle gives away your reason for knowing about Caldo Verde...alway with chouriço in my book. My mom has a manual shredding device made specifically for turning KALE into the finest shreds possible for that soup.

art mugalian 7:42 PM  

DaCapo was once (maybe still is) a publisher of music books.

Burma Shave 10:11 AM  


was HOPPINGM(a)D at two SOAPOPERA chicks:


spacecraft 10:48 AM  

Okay, fine, making abbrs. actually part of the theme is as cute and clever as an INDOORCAT TRICK. But man, they busted loose and ran rampant over the whole grid! NSW NEA LAPD INHD RBI ISU CNN AARP WPM CSI...a theme extension? I don't think so. This puzzle feels schizophrenic to me. On the one hand all those alphabetics--TORTURE to get through--and on the other a cool, funny theme and some vibrant longer fill...I don't know how to score it ASWESPEAK.

MEDIA darling GWEN Stefani takes the DOD sash today. I agree that the toughest patch was the upper center into the NE. With HO_P to start I was thinking HOSPITAL--no, too long--or maybe HOSPICE...? DACAPO is unknown to me, although "from the top," i.e. "head," makes a kind of sense. Parts were Monday-easy, but not there. Overall, I guess "easy-medium by medium" on the difficulty compass, and par.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

On the easy side, but with challenges. Fun, entertaining, and rewarding to do. Nothing to dislike about this one.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Had to look up a single answer to solve it. That was for Sri Lanka's capital,Colombo.


Anonymous 1:42 PM  

I had IN RES for a time in the NE because it would have crossed nicely with MEDIA (in media res), but no: it was IN REM. Oh, well. Not a lawyer.

leftcoastTAM 1:46 PM  

Clever and tough but gettable. Took a couple of themers to see how they worked.

Unfortunately, didn't get one of the Natick crossings: OSRoC/oSU (Oklahoma State instead of Iowa State. Knew OSRIC as soon as seeing the name, but too late.).

As for the other, a triple crossing, DACAPO/COLOMBO/NOBU, guessed right.

A good and unusually challenging Wednesday.

leftcoastTAM 2:07 PM  

@Burma Shave: As clever and smooth a entry in its own right as one sees from the some of the best Xword constructors. Nice work.

rain forest 2:33 PM  

I liked the theme, and actually, the entire puzzle. I tend to like Ms. Gamache's efforts. @Rex - "A good constructor would've--": what a giveaway there! Hubris rules! Reminder to self: don't give in to the temptation to read @Rex's posts. Just say NO.

Surprised that so many didn't just know that COLOMBO is the capital of Sri Lanka. Kind of conforms to the stereotype that Americans haven't much interest in facts beyond their shores, something I don't expect from the knowledgeable group commenting here. That's not a slam, btw. Just an observation.

The fill had a lot of acronyms and initialisms and abbreviations, but it didn't bother me at all. Overall the difficulty was a tad above "easy", but I enjoyed the tour through the vowels. The theme included them all, so why do they have to be in alphabetic order. I think that the gridspanner prevented that anyway. And it should have been spelled TRYANtOSAURUS REX. Hah, har.

rondo 3:34 PM  

Found this puz rather easy with the exception of yoRIC/aSRIC/OSRIC. Gotta brush up on the Bard.

Don’t see INDOORCAT as green-paintish at all. The missus uses INDOORCAT/outdoor cat terms all the time. Agree that the clue for OLDSOUL didn’t seem right.

Here’s ONE you mighta HEARD: Coulda joined MENSA, but I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have me as a member.

I think my PROM king crown is still in a closet at my mom’s house.

GWEN Stefani can rock my world any day. Yeah baby.

Second day in a row with plenty of abbr.s, but it wasn’t TORTURE.

Longbeachlee 4:13 PM  

An old soul means someone who is wise beyond their years, as though they were bearing the experience of their many previous lives.

Diana,LIW 4:30 PM  

In case you haven't noticed "LIMPINGRN" is not in the puzzle. Nor is "YORIC." Just sayin - you might have had them in there. Too.

Agree with some of the nits in Rex's last paragraph - especially OLDSOUL. And the potential Natick area - all fair, but WOE is me.

So I dnf'd this wonderful, wacky, Wednesday. Good rainy day pastime.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Hello from syndication land!
While doing this puzzle, I kept thinking "Rex is going to HATE this one!" I was surprised he didn't spew more venom on it.

I got off to a fast start in the NW, and once I had WHA______, WHATSUPDC fell right in, and from there the themers offered zero resistance. And with the exception of TYRANNOSAURUSRX, they were all fairly dull too.

Not only that, we were treated to Stalin, ASSAD, IRONS, and TORTURE. Very cheery. (Not to mention KALE and KANYE, speaking of TORTURE.)

Hand up for the COLOMBO/DACAPO/NOBU double Natick. I guessed right, but not really a fair set of crossings.

Overall, a rather joyless affair with an extremely thin theme and very little crunch. Bleh.

Blogger 4:11 AM  

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