Old Soviet naval base site / WED 5-29-19 / Bygone Mideast inits. / Hoppy quaff for short / Slider on abacus / Marriott competitor / Exemplar of innocence

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Constructor: Jules Markey

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:05)

THEME: "Say Say Say (Say)" or "Talk Talk" / "Talk Talk" or ...   — theme "?"-clues that seem to be about speaking have answers that are (in regular usage) not at all about speaking (... except the last one ... although I guess the speak in SPEAK VOLUMES is almost always metaphorical so ... OK):

Theme answers:
  • UTTER RUBBISH (19A: Talk trash?)
  • STATE MOTTOES (33A: Recite aphorisms?)
  • EXPRESS LINES (41A: Perform poetry?)
  • SPEAK VOLUMES (54A: Narrate audiobooks?)
Word of the Day: BENICIO Del Toro (8D: Del Toro of "The Usual Suspects") —
Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sánchez (born February 19, 1967) is a Puerto Rican actor. He won an Academy AwardBAFTA AwardGolden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of the jaded but morally upright police officer Javier Rodriguez in the film Traffic (2000). Del Toro's performance as ex-con turned religious fanatic in despair, Jack Jordan, in Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams (2003) earned him a second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, as well as a second Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination and a BAFTA Awardsnomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. [...] His noteworthy body of work also includes portrayals of the Collector in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar in Escobar: Paradise LostLawrence Talbot in the 2010 remake of The Wolfman, and codebreaker DJ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was Medium in just about every way. My time was Medium and my feelings are Medium and fill quality is Medium. SO-SO, stem to stern. The theme was reasonable right up until the end, where you really have to lawyer that last one into agreement. In the other themers, the clue truly repurposes the first word, away from a completely non-talking-related word and toward talking. "Utter" = total. "State" = part of the union. "Express" = fast. "Speak" = ... well, speak, just a metaphorical kind of speak?? The repurposing there is super-weak, and since that's the final themer (assuming you're solving top to bottom, as I did), the theme really ends with a thud, a pfft, a whimper. Obviously the phrase SPEAK VOLUMES has been reimagined by the clue, but it's still a swing and a miss. Or maybe a pop-up, or a weak grounder. Anyway, it's 3/4 solid and 1/4 wonky, which is actually probably above average for a NYT themed puzzle these days. Still not terribly satisfying, but not fundamentally broken, at least, which is something. The fill is also not atrocious. UAR (23A: Bygone Mideast inits.) (United Arab Republic) was the only answer that had me going "oh, wow, ok, are we doing this?" But most everything else was just fine. Totally unexciting / inoffensive fare. I did like seeing BENICIO Del Toro and SOFTPEDAL (the marquee answer of the day, for me).

I did not like the grid shape, in that it was black-square heavy, super-segmented (i.e. fussy), and it's got what I'd call 'useless corners': these completely cut off little 3x4 bits in the NE and SW that require you to go up and get them, but only out of a sense of duty—they connect to nothing, and they contain no revelations (how can they? they're 3x4). These are segments where a constructor will be tempted to Scrabblef*ck with you, in the mistaken belief that a J-tile will make your efforts in these dusty corners feel worthwhile. The good news is, you can't really Scrabblef*ck a 3x4 corner too bad if it's not compromised by the lone answer running into it. Thus, nothing awful about those corners. I just resented having to go into them to pick up a bunch of short stuff I didn't even really want. Highly segmented grids slow me down and add unpleasantness, but sometimes the grid just is what it is and you have to roll with it.

Slow parts for me: figuring out that the "meal" in 5D: Fine meal (FLOUR) was not a repast; figuring out that RUS- did not not not have a fourth letter "H" at 20D: Prepares on short notice (RUSTLES UP); figuring out that 36D: Slider on an abacus (BEAD) was not DISC or BALL; figuring out what the hell could in -OTTOES (!?); figuring out SORE ARM and especially NO LOSS (I was just slow on those). The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Brett 6:56 AM  

It would have been better to clue 58-Across as “Type of 24-Across” since the people have long identified themselves as O’odham rather than Pima.

kitshef 7:16 AM  

"Forget You" isn't really the title of the CEELO hit … but the real title would be too much for the NYT, even in a week with a butt puzzle.

I didn’t like the grid shape, either. I mean, haven’t we done ‘square’ to death?

Great clue for FLOUR.

Alternative clue for 32A: 30A, for example.

Seth 7:32 AM  

The other thing about SPEAK VOLUMES that kinda bugged me was that all the other first words go from adjective to verb. Really wanted the fourth one to do the same.

70 in nampa 7:33 AM  

Pretty much 19 across...

Runs with Scissors 7:35 AM  

Had fun with this one. Chortled at UTTER RUBBISH; heard my Northumberland ancestors in that one. STATE MOTTOES wasn’t quite as good. EXPRESS LINES, yup. Although they aren’t so express in my neighborhood bodega. The loss of customer service does SPEAK VOLUMES about many things.

The only real resistance was at 45A – C-worthy. Had me convinced for entirely too long that there was a hundred of something or other involved. As a bonus, I’ve never heard of this CEELO Green person. But got it, finally.

Not sure why, but had the PIMA as puma for a while. Yeah, I know the puma is a mountain lion. Cougar, of the feline and not human female from Newport Beach persuasion.

I personally don’t care for the Times New ROMAN font. I’m more a sans serif guy. Arial rules.

PROUST. Hmmmm.

The Swiss city had me going for a few, since BERNE wasn’t working. Finally dredged it up out of the cluttered recesses in my head.

I hear TAOS is a fun place to visit.

Since I went male pattern baldness at age 25, COIF is something I know intellectually but don’t really worry about. 5 minutes out of the shower, I’m dry and styled. Har.

I COTTONed to this puzzle all the way. Had fun with it. I DO say, ODES to this. It RUSTLES UP some good SMELLS. It was a SIGHT to behold when finished.

I still don’t know what a SAMOSA is. Not sure I ever will. I don’t go to those kind of parties.

Liked it. Fun solve.

Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

Loren Muse Smith 7:37 AM  

Oh wow I admire the crap out of this idea. To be asked to revisit these common phrases and switch the first word to its verb iteration… brilliant. I really got a kick out of UTTER RUBBISH (wanted “garbage” first), especially since I’m sitting in a cafeteria from 8 to 3 (no furniture in rooms) watching people read PowerPoints to us. It’s all rubbish, and it really shouldn’t be, but we have nothing left in our tanks to absorb more acronyms and eduspeak.

So when the last one fell, SPEAK VOLUMES, I was stunned. Unlike Rex, I did not find the repurposing weak at all. The literal interpretation delighted me. This, people, is the reason we (I) do puzzles. I literally and always wonder about the volume speakers. Are there a lot of do-overs, do they have a glass of water there, a cough button, some lozenges, a director? I mean, you never hear them stumble or clear their throat. Do they read four sentences and take a break? Hah – if the director is noticing reader fatigue, they can MOUTH “BREATHER” to the narrator. There ya go. There’s my contribution.

Well, wait. Someone who finally remembers the person they ran into at Walmart, says Oh right – I remember you. You were the person who always blah blah. So you VOICE RECOGNITION. And we all know people we wish would voice less.

Ok. One more. Arlene Frances et all on the show What’s My Line had to ADDRESS UNKNOWN. Now. Finished.

The sign of a kick-ass theme: inspiring others to play the game.

Little winky-winky gift: ORATOR.

Fun to have ROLLing in the AISLE.

@jberg from yesterday – I’m thrilled to be pulling you over to the hippy linguist side! The issue of impact as a verb was not on my radar screen until I started hanging out with Anne Curzan and Benjamin Dreyer. Here’s another one I had never noticed: Experience is equally as valuable as theory. Lots of sticklers object to the redundancy of equally there. I had never noticed it and have no problem with it. Duh.

Jules – I had a dnf ‘cause I put in “UAE” instead of UAR. So my “fine meal” was a mystifying “floue.” I just thought it was yet another fancy word I didn’t know. I dug in to my stupidity and wondered if it was written floué. What a terrific clue, by the way. (Mornin', @kitshef.)

Wonderful puzzle. Period.

albatross shell 7:42 AM  

Since SPEAKVOLUMES is never used to mean 'read books aloud', I am less fussy than Rex about its shortcomings, if any. But even Rex grades the themes A,A,A,C. A respectable average.
I am a little confused if the top is the tip of the NOSE or the part between the eyes, and whichever it may be, is the bridge at the top or underneath it? Or am I parsing the clue incorrectly?

I enjoyed hearing a faint echo of yesterday's puzzle in the very last across answer in today's puzzle.

Trish 7:46 AM  

Fine meal couldn’t have been repast because the answer only has five letters, Word play threw me too.

Twangster 7:54 AM  

@Trish you're misreading Rex's write-up. He's not saying he thought the answer was REPAST; he's saying the clue made him think the answer would have to do with a meal in the breakfast/lunch/dinner sense (like you and everybody else).

orangeblossomspecial 8:14 AM  

Basel is an interesting city. The name depends on which region of Switzerland or France you come from: Basel, Basle, Bâle, Basilea. The road signs are a treat!

Lewis 8:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
mmorgan 8:25 AM  

Liked the puzzle and the comments from @LMS and @Runs are worth the price of admission. UTTER RUBBISH was my favorite. BTW, SAMOSAs are yummy but I prefer pakoras.

I liked seeing BASEL since I was there a few weeks ago. In the airport, anyway.

@Brett, I don’t live there and it’s not anything I know much about, but I’ve only seen O’odham as Tohono O’odham. (I know, I can go look it up...).

Lewis 8:32 AM  

Lovely wordplay in the theme and cluing (FLOUR, IDO, ARIES, ALI), with a mini-theme of double S's (6), and a theme echo in ORATOR (Hi, @loren!). This is an original theme, not like a word-that-follows-the-last-word type theme.

There's a splattering of double letters (18), but that's a tad short of unusually high (20 or above) according to the rubric of your resident alphadoppeltotter.

Solid and perfect for Wednesday. Tight theme, which adds to its quality. And there was enough resistance on top of the wordplay to make the solve an utter joy. Thank you for this, Jules!

More than words 8:37 AM  

Extreme...heh...those were the days.

Nancy 9:12 AM  

I knew @Lewis would also love this. We look for the same things in puzzles, beginning with fresh, misleading cluing -- and this had it in spades. Wonderful clues for FLOUR, BEAD, PASSE and AISLES. Lively SASS in such fill as SOFT PEDAL, RUSTLE UP, SORE ARM and NO LOSS. And plenty of opportunities to go wrong. Morn's counterpart (39A) had to be EVE, of course -- only it wasn't. Prepares on short notice (20D) had to be RUSHES something, of course -- only it wasn't.

And the themers: UTTER; EXPRESS; SPEAK. Perfect symmetry in the choices. UTTERly fair and familiar phrases that lead to novel and imaginative puns. Great fun to solve and a wonderful Wednesday.

Sir Hillary 9:15 AM  

Overall, far better than 19A or even 45A. I enjoyed it a lot.

I now believe that I may never have seen the plural MOTTOES in writing before today. It looks like it can't possibly be correct. Man, it really sucks to feel like Dan Quayle.

As a James Bond fanatic, I will always appreciate a young BENECIO Del Toro playing the nasty henchman Dario in "Licence To Kill".

Wonderful clues for FLOUR, IDO, ELF, ALI, TASE and ARIES. Talk trash is also superb -- too bad the rest of the themers couldn't be clued as cleverly.

Thanks Jules; you're a CONVERSEALLSTAR.

Z 9:18 AM  

Played unusually tough here, with my final precious nano-seconds spent trying to make sense of SATE. Finally said, “OHHHH! Make content not make content.” Thus the value of not having software telling you that you are correct.

Is it just me or is that E in MOTTOES superfluous?

@Runs with Scissors - There is nothing better than a font discussion....

NOSH FLAB SIZE? Is Jules trying to tell us something?

@LMS - Love your examples. Agree with Rex that that is some serious lawyering to make SPEAK VOLUMES fit with the others.

Interesting video choices. I love that No Doubt video. If you know anything about the group’s history the pathos is writ large. As for Extreme, it raises the eternal question, “Do women actually fall for that crap?”

GILL I. 9:21 AM  

No swing/miss here. I thought all the theme answers landed perfectly. I won't lawyer SPEAK VOLUMES but to me, its a repurposed phrase. As in doing the yada yada yada bit. Ya know....going on forever.
The cluing is very clever.
I like the RUSTLE UP peppered with SAMOSAS: FLOUR and LAMB are essential ingredients - made in a PAN and it SMELLS delicious. A good little NOSH. I make them all the time but I don't dip in chutney...try a cilantro/mint/ginger sauce.
Why do I hate the word FLAB? Some don't like the word moist, with me it's FLAB. You can't get rid of it unless you're Cher or Jane Fonda and spend all your money visiting your plastic surgeon once a month. I much prefer the word muffin. I like muffin top. A moist muffin is a good thing.
Do people really say SPIT for some small rain? I had a really wonderful friend that I finally refused to have lunch with. She always spoke with her mouth full and would spit things out. I told her. She wouldn't listen. Sad way to break up.
Thanks Jules for the memories.

Solverinserbia 9:25 AM  

There are, in fact, three AISLES on a 747, two on the bottom (main) level and one on the mini upper level. Weird oversight and would have worked fine changing 747 to 767, 787, a330, etc.

Had the exact same problem getting FLOUR (great clue!) and making the fourth letter of RUSTLESUP an H.

Third solve in a row for me took the monthly golden tally to 9, keeping my streak of increasing monthly totals going. (1, 7, 8, 9 and counting)

Hartley70 9:39 AM  

This puzzle was “talking” to me. I just spent a weekend with someone who never stopped except to quickly inhale and begin again. I never appreciated just how exhausting listening can be. I’m wondering now what compulsion causes one to SPEAK VOLUMES and VOLUMES and VOLUMES and how to turn off the spigot without being rude.

FLOUR was the best entry today. Congrats to the constructor for a new OREO clue.

I’m with @kitchef on the phony baloney FORGETYOU answer. It should have been clued as “song lyric change performed by Gwyneth Paltrow on TV’s “Glee” to qualify for G rating”. I loved that show.

Nancy 9:41 AM  

(From yesterday) -- Yessssss!!!! We now have our "The Green Paint Mystery" chronicler and archivist. @Joe Dipinto has nobly stepped in to 1) keep a running record of every word of our inimitable prose in the order in which it was written and 2) (even more noble) to remind us of the Cast of Characters, who they are, how they relate to each other, and what precisely they have already Done. (See last night's blog.) This is difficult work that requires both a good summing-up ability for the latter task and great techie skills for the former. But without it, our chances of eventual publication would be slim to none. You were the missing piece of the puzzle, Joe -- so thank you, thank you!!!

pabloinnh 9:44 AM  

A couple of aha! moments for me, caused by misreading clues (I blame this on having only one really good eyeball and doing these without my fancy glasses). Anyway, if you are looking for an answer for "Fine metal (sic)" that has five letters and begins with an f, good luck. Likewise for "Mom's partner" beginning with an e. Funny how an r and a lower case n can make an m, but make one they do.Talk about your nanoseconds. But as Candy pointed out in that wonderful satire, "It's my own fault darn it!".

Put me in the Great for a Wednesday crowd. OFL picks too many nits for my taste.

Merci bien, M. Jules.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Axle is wrong. The clue specifically asks for a thing which GETS the wheel turning. Axles do not provide impetus. They allow the wheel to turn, but they do not get them turning. A force does that, not a mechanical object.
Will is often sloppy with things like this. And Rex, of course, seems to know nothing of the physical world.

OffTheGrid 9:56 AM  

I confidently (90% sure) entered Feast for Fine meal before any crosses. I really appreciate that there was no "?" on the clue. Nice puzzle.

Nancy 10:04 AM  

@Hartley (9:39) -- Your experience reminds me of the old joke: "I just spent a week with Ethel last night."

As far as how to deal with it in the future: You might try the deathless way George S. Kaufman is reputed to have spoken to the woman seated next to him at a dinner party who was talking his ear off: "Madam, do you happen to have any unexpressed thoughts?"

RooMonster 10:07 AM  

Hey All !
I'm with @LMS on the fancy Frenchy FLOUE. Figured one would be sitting in a quaint French bistro, sipping some fine French wine, and ordering up some FLOUE. Besides, it's UAE. Apparently that's the modern equivalent of the Bygone initialism.

So back to my one-letter DNF. I had a good streak going of complete puzs, too. Oh well.

I liked this repurposing of common phrases theme. Tres cool. It SPOKE to me. (Sad attempt....) Nice longer Downs, also. I figured Rex would complain about the closed corners. I don't understand his complaint about it being "black square heavy". Huh? It's the traditional 38 black squares. No DETOUR there.

NO PULP. Only way to drink OJ. You don't get those nasty snot consistency chunks as you drink. Makes one want to SPIT.

Time to get out of my PJS, and ROLL into the day. Maybe I'll have a little FLOUE for breakfast.


Anoa Bob 10:11 AM  

In the first three themers, the first word in each one is an adjective that becomes a verb in the re-imagined versions. Then in the fourth themer, the first word is verb that remains a verb in the re-imagined version. I thought that was a major disconnect. Did not work for me.

Barbara S. 10:12 AM  

Correct me if I'm wrong (and I know you will), but shouldn't SOFT PEDAL be better spelled SOFT PEDDLE? I think the idea is "peddle" in the sense of selling something -- not the hard sell but the soft peddle. Otherwise, entertaining puzzle and fun to solve.

Z 10:15 AM  

@anonymous9:53 - “Gets” as in “is given” or “has.” As in “it has the wheels turning,” or even more common phrasing, “it has the turning wheels.” Yeah, I know. But cluing often uses this kind of ambiguity to slow the solvers down.

Re: SPEAK VOLUMES - @Gill I - I’ve always understood it to mean something minor that unintentionally gives lots of information about someone. As in, “how you pronounce ‘Mackinac’ SPEAKs VOLUMES about your origins” or “knowing the oeuvre of Yma Sumac SPEAKs VOLUMES about your crossword solving habits.”

Wood 10:19 AM  

Tried solving downs-only and was pleasantly surprised to get all but 4 answers. Needed a few acrosses to get the NE and SE corners. Record for a Wednesday!

Z 10:20 AM  

@Unknown10:12 - That’s what I thought, but apparently the “correct” one is a reference to the SOFT PEDAL on a piano. This is the first time I can recall seeing the phrase in print, so I learned something new.

Fred Romagnolo 10:28 AM  

I'm 87, and I have never never heard anyone say SPIT for rain slightly; is it because I live on the West Coast? I agree that 5D was a great clue. Aren't all Soviet naval base sites "old?" The majority of the people of Odessa never asked to be, nor were particularly happy about being part of Ukraine, Khrushchev did that to keep his old friends in the Ukraine happy.
On the same subject, the rebels in Eastern Ukraine are ethnic Russians, not Ukrainians.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

That's not ambiguity. I understand usage pretty well, but you're distorting the meaning beyond recognition. You know as well as I when you say John has the power plant humming along, it means John's efforts have resulted in the plant's excellent performance. To get something going or to have it going or have it turning is to provide the power, motivation or impetus of the movement. I'm sorry, but you are mistaken ;axles don't do that.

Henry Ford 11:01 AM  

@Anon 9:53 - Go to your car and remove the all the axles. Then turn your car on, and try to drive to work. You have your wheels turning yet? Now tell me that the axles don't get the wheels turning.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

The axles are indeed indispensable for operation. but that is not in dispute. The question is whether hey get the wheels turning, not whether they allow the wheels to turn. Half shafts turn the wheel on an axis, in this case called an axle.
consider: If you stick a skewer through a pencil and push the pencil with your finger and it spins around the skewer like a propeller, is the skewer getting the pencil spinning, or is it the force you provide?

Joe Dipinto 11:24 AM  

@Unknown 10:12 -- to "soft pedal" something isn't about selling it, it's about attempting to reduce the importance of it, deriving, as @Z noted, from the muffling effect of using the piano's soft pedal.

I'm with those who eye the last themer suspiciously -- even if the phrase is metaphorical, "speak" is the same part of speech and has the same function in both circumstances, which is not so for the others. But anyway...a minor blip.

My favorite answer is RUSTLES UP. Can you rustle up anything other than "some grub"? In my mind it's limited to the one thing.

@Nancy -- I said I would keep track of the story for now. I do have a life, or would like to think I do. :-) JC66 provided a very minimalist Part 6 last night; Part 7 is currently up for grabs.

Smooth road, clear day
But why am I the only one travelin' this way
How strange the road to love should be so easy
Can there be a detour ahead?

OffTheGrid 11:24 AM  


Soft pedal. To de-emphasizes, restrain, or play down, as in The mayor will soft pedal this potentially explosive situation. This expression alludes to the una corda or soft pedal of the piano, which reduces the volume of the sound.

Why did the prostitute buy a bicycle?

So she could peddle her (yesterday word) all over town.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Some E bikes have the motor in the rear axle (hub) so maybe that works a little better for 27D.

jae 11:32 AM  

Medium. Kinda cute and pretty smooth, liked it.

My only problem (which pushed this to medium) was @Rex putting an h after the RUS in RUSTLES UP.

Masked and Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Cool theme, clean fill. Talkin' Good WedPuz.

staff weeject pick: PJS. Part of some nice weeject stacks, in the NE & SW.

Pretty easy solvequest, really. Like others have said, the hardest thing mighta been that excellent {Fine meal} = FLOUR clue.
It's just real tough to say much bad about a puz with both FLAB and SPIT in it.

I reckon SPEAKVOLUMES did seem like a [very] slight out-lier, theme-wise. Nuthin that a little FLAB & SPIT couldn't speak-easily overcome, tho.

Thanx for the soft-pedally fun, Mr. Markey.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


jberg 11:53 AM  

This was going to be my first leisurely morning after coming back home -- but Less meaning-shifting than the others, not only with SPEAK but with VOLUMES, as well. But it didn't bother me that much, and I loved the images it evoked.

I spent too much time thinking C-Worthy meant qualified to be a corporate honcho (CEO, CFO, COO, etc.), wanted RUShes out, and wasn't very confident of TESS Trueheart (what a blast from the past!) And I tried Eve(ning as the counterpart to Morn(ing) for too long. And due to weak vision and the tiny version type, I put in AMI where ALA should have been. (Hey, I just notice AMI ALI in consecutive spaces if you read the grid bottom-up.)

@Loren, I first became aware of the 'impact' issue way back in the late 1970s, when a good friend who was using her position as campus minister to launch the university's first women's center wrote a letter to the powers-that-were complaining about the noise made by the fraternity next door, the last sentence of which was "It impacts our dynamics." I had no idea what she meant; but then, I've always behind the times. If it weren't for my step-daughter I would never have heard "adorbs," either.

I've always been confused about SAMOSAs, because you find them in both Indian and Salvadoran restaurants. I had always figured they were just different things with homophonic names -- but Wikipedia tells me it's cultural diffusion. This stuff always fascinates me.

OK, I'd better get to work.

old timer 12:46 PM  

O pintura, que te quiero verde! The Green Paint Mystery was (or should have been) an Agatha Christie novel, featuring Hercule Poirot.

I too have matutinal dyslexia, and was desperately looking for a counterpart to Mom instead of morn. E'EN so this was a fun solve.

BASEL is a city of two languages, German and French. Their grand old hotel is the Drei Konige, but you can call it the Trois Rois. In the old days you might reach it via steamboat. Nowadays, most likely by rail, and I am among those who never stopped there since you can keep on by train to reach the Alps. Or can bypass it entirely as the best routes from France go via Lausanne or Geneva.

Kudos as always to @LMS. My first thought reading this blog is always, "What will she come up with today?"

webwinger 12:50 PM  

A very solid Wednesday. Not bothered that the last themer was somewhat an outlier. And, as per OFL, the fill is “not atrocious”. High praise indeed! Reminds me of an old Firesign Theater routine in which a fictional politician promoted his candidacy based on the fact that he had been admitted to a mental institution and found “not insane”. Slogan “Not insane! Not insane! The only candidate who can make that claim!”

Attention New Yorkers: Today (and tomorrow) are the days for viewing dramatic pre-solstice Manhattanhenge sunsets, occurring at 8:20 pm, particularly well seen looking west along 34th Street or 42nd Street (see https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/science/manhattanhenge-dates-time-locations.html). If you want to experience this phenomenon in obedience to the laws of nature as opposed to the vagaries of early settlement builders (and occurring at both sunrise and sunset on the same day), plan a visit to Chicago on or slightly after the spring equinox, or just before the fall equinox.

Teedmn 1:04 PM  

Consistency, thou art a jewel, except when thou aren't. That's how I feel about today's theme - I don't care about the inconsistency of the 4th one. In fact, I didn't notice, when solving, that all of the first words related to speech, so that was a nice aha, post-solve.

Like Rex, I RUShed into 20D and had to rustle up a different answer when STATE MOTTOES came along.

I don't think we use SPIT here in the upper Midwest - it's either misting or it's drizzling. If you're going to spit, stand over there ->.

I did not DNF at 5D but I did leave UA_ open and almost didn't fill in the last letter, a big no-no in tournament solving. When solving at home, I don't usually use @imsdave's trick of turning the grid upside-down to check for blanks but I could have used it today.

Nice Wednesday puzzle, Jules Markey.

Klazzic 1:36 PM  

I'm with you, Rex. A meh puzzle. Seen better, seen worse.

Vanda 1:47 PM  

Hello. Could someone explain "DOD" to me, which I've seen a few times in comments? I think I've always seen it when someone is mentioning an answer that uses a woman's name, so I've surmised "dame of the day" (tongue-in-cheekily, because women are so rarely seen in fill) -- ?


john towle 1:56 PM  

Anyone remember Manny Nosowsky? This puzzle reminds of one of his…about as close to perfection as one can get. Methinks the carpmeister needs to walk for many moons in the shoes of these fine constructors instead…well, I’ll leave it at that.

Anonymous 2:17 PM  


Dear Old Dad perhaps? Can't be sure without a context of where last seen. Enjoyable puzzle. RUShed___ until STATE became clear as crystal like @Rex etal, was my only real trouble spot, and OSArk before OSAGE, but 4-letter digital thingy seemed likely to be JPEG.


Joe Dipinto 2:18 PM  

@Vanda -- DOD has me stumped, I don't recall ever seeing it.

@john towle -- I liked Manny Nosowsky's puzzles too. According to his Wikipedia entry, he's collaborated on mystery novels, creating puzzles that drop hints!

QuasiMojo 2:28 PM  

@Joe and @Nancy et al, kudos on the intriguing story guys! I'm digging it so far. love the details! Maybe not yet PROUST but NO PULP and no FLAB. keep it coming!

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

Anon@9:53, thank you. Thought the same thing.

Runs with Scissors 3:20 PM  

DOD pops up every now and then, referencing a female in the grid. Or even intimated at by something in the. For instance, today's inclusion of Gwen Stefani by @Rex could result in someone claiming she's the DOD.

I don't know what it stands for either.

Hungry Mother 3:55 PM  

I finished quickly by 7:30am, but the blog wasnt up yet, so I went about my day and here I am. None of the normal crunch for a Wednesday. I enjoy a solve that I can complet with ease.

QuasiMojo 4:08 PM  

PS I've visited Basel. handsome city with a more serious business ambiance than lets say Geneva or Zurich. heavy architecture. but lovely river views. some great bookstores. didn't try too many restaurants. I was on a tight budget.

puzzlehoarder 4:20 PM  

Today's literal reinterpretations of common phrases SPEAKs VOLUMES to me. I'm literal to a fault so it ought to.

I know my UAE from my UAR so no problem with that entry. For a moment I considered SEDER for 5D but one look at 5A's clue and FLAB fixed that. That's about all that FLAB is good for.

Tuesday time today, very clean easy fill and a straight forward theme.

Mo-T 4:28 PM  

Part 6

Then Jonathan mistook the green paint for a bottle of Martini & Rossi vermouth.


Part 7

Sweet Mother of Goddess! Jonathan coughed and gasped. What kind of roots, spices, bark, and herbs did the monks use in the making of this spirit? He grabbed a mirror off the bureau and looked at his tongue. Green! Absinthe green, chartreuse green, and beyond belief awful. Paint, he thought. Green paint, not sweet vermouth.

Was he taking his medicine at last for the sins of his past?

She was standing over him, her black belt in her right hand, her left hand on her hip. She gave him a little tap with the toe of her Timberland. He sat straight up.

"Brandy!" he exclaimed. "Are you trying to kill me?"

"Not just yet, Dad," she smirked. "Not just yet."

Hungry Mother 4:47 PM  

I stayed at the Euler Hotel in Basel, which tickled my mathematical soul. To see what I saw, go to CapeMayBeach.net and choose “Europe 2016” from the “Trips” menu. I’ve often said that rain is spitting in both Delaware and Florida.

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

I had the exact same problem with Mom's partner - kept trying to get "dad" or "pop" to work.

Vanda 5:46 PM  

@Joe DiPinto @Runs With Scissors
Thanks for trying to solve the mystery of DOD. One day we'll know.

Mitch Halfpenny 7:39 PM  

Oodham are what used to be called Papago. Pimas are still Pimas.

Anon5 9:36 PM  

I was hoping for Diva of the Day, but a Google search of this site suggests that the term "Damsel of the Day" originated in comments by someone named spacecraft in March 2016.

Nancy 9:39 PM  

@Joe Dipinto (11:24) -- Very, very understandable. No need to explain. I thought it seemed much too good to be true, and so it appears it was. But your talents as an archivist -- once you decide to stop -- will surely be missed.

@Quasi (2:28) -- Compliments are nice but more is expected from you. I seem to remember you saying you had done some writing in the past. Don't know what it was, exactly, but I bet it's prepared you to make some memorable and witty contributions to "The Green Paint Mystery". How 'bout it, Quasi?

Anonymous 10:10 PM  

Did it annoy anyone else that the answer to 56D was KIAS? I presume referring to those 'killed in action' - or am I completely out to lunch on this?

Joe Dipinto 10:53 PM  

Damsel Of The Day. Huh. I was liking Dominatrix Of Doom. Maybe that could be Jonathan's daughter's alter-ego.

@Nancy -- you do realize I was joking when I suggested we write a story, I didn't envision that we would actually do it! But it has turned out to be fun, so thanks for kicking off the proceedings.

However: I have zero techie skills, the most I can do is maintain a document that has each successive part added to it. And I can add new characters to the character list as they are introduced, but it will be too time-consuming to continually update each character's activities. What gets done with all this later when it's finished, I have no idea.

Mo-T has come back to provide Part 7, so next up is Part 8.

JC66 11:17 PM  

@Anon 10:10

KIA is a Korean automibile manufacturer.

JC66 11:30 PM  

re: The Green Paint Mystery, I'd like to suggest that each "author" add their signature to the end of each part so when they're copied and pasted, all will know who wrote it (and make @Joe D's life a little easier).

Joe Dipinto 11:41 PM  

@JC66 -- thanks, but not to worry -- I attribute each part as I add it to the document.

JC66 12:39 AM  

@Joe D

Great, but it might also help new readers who are joining in the middle.

Joe Dipinto 1:42 AM  

@JC -- True. Good idea.

I guess at various intervals I could repost the whole thing up to that point. I'll do it this weekend.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

@11:17pm: Yes, I am well aware that KIA is a model of car, but the CLUE for 56D was 'souls, e.g.' which makes no sense.

Perhaps you can enlighten me on this, b/c I do not see how 'souls' as a clue would result in the name of a CAR as the answer.

JC66 9:26 AM  

Anon 9:13A

The clue is Souls.

KIA is the manufacturer, Soul is the model.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

@9:26am: Thank you! I don't own a car and have never heard of that KIA model.

Vanda 10:09 AM  

@Anon5 9:36 PM -- Thank you very much for helping to solve the mystery of DOD. I didn't think to do a Google search of the site -- thank you for doing that, and for being patient with me (for not doing that!).

spacecraft 10:40 AM  

Easy-medium; hand up for RUSh--ing into that "Prepares on short notice" entry. That one cost many nanoseconds--even to a couple of minutes. Had to reject ShATE, though.

And will someone please explain how "Mom's counterpart" ends up being EEN?? fortunately, the downs wouldn't budge. The rest of it was pretty doable.

Agree on the weakness of the last themer, but not a deal-breaker. Amusing point made by OFC on big-count letters in tight corners, as if the constructor wanted to give you a reason to go there. I don't much like 'em either, but the grid is what it is. A small minus. That's the thing today: the minuses are little, and so are the plusses. No "Wow!"

DOD has to be TESS, as played by Julia Roberts in "Ocean's Eleven" (and Twelve, etc.): "The best part of my day" per Matt Damon, and me. Par.

Diana,LIW 12:22 PM  

Sometimes, those who live in Futureland can be clue free. DOD seems to have them stumpered - yeah baby! (get a DeLorean)

Good old OREO was in the puzzle and my ice cream today. But ALI filled the final square - and I wasn't sure of what lion tamer was the ring master. Ha ha.

@Spacey - get new readers (glasses). I've done that kind of error too - but "Mom" is "morn" in this puzzle's clues. Thus, een is evening, morn is morning. Thus sayeth the bard. And note the above conversation about your dod coinage. It can SPEAKVOLUMES when the Syndiecats get the Futurelanders' undies in a bundle.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 12:45 PM  


UTTERRUBBISH, a LOT of all kinds.
Even a SOSO ORATOR with diction


rainforest 2:13 PM  

Hey, @Spacey. You're about to become famous for your DOD awards, if we could somehow communicate this to the real-timers. We'll have to work on @rondo's "yeah baby" now.

I thought this was a good puzzle and I liked the theme a lot. SPEAK as in SPEAK VOLUMES isn't really "speak"; it's more like "reveal" and even though it hasn't gone through the noun/verb transition, I think it works just fine.

Though I don't participate often in the DOD discussion, I'd like to cast a vote for Kim ROMAN who sat in front of me in Grade 10 Science. She had this effect on me which daily prevented me from being able to get out of my seat. Oh, man!

I think the ridiculous back and forth about AXLEs is bushwa. It's kind of like "the knee bone/thigh bone/hip bone thing. You have, especially in rear-wheel drive cars "engine/transmission/drive shaft/differential/AXLE/wheel" thing going on. I guess the engine is actually what turns the wheels, but the meaning is clear to me.

I liked this puzzle a lot.

leftmost 3:28 PM  

Wondered what kind of revealer might go with this one. Silence is golden, maybe.

Complementary answers: ORATOR and ODES. Maybe ALI; he could say it all.

Slow downs but not stoppers: ROMAN, CEELO, ARIES, SAMOSA.

Time to zip it up.

leftcoast 7:19 PM  

leftcoast, leftcoast, leftcoast! I'm not that far left. (spellcheck keeps changing it.

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