Family nickname / WED 2-24-21 / Indian musical pattern / Part of a nerve cell / Sticky wicket

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Hello, all! It’s Clare — coming to you this time for the last Wednesday in February rather than Tuesday. This month has mostly flown by for me. People told me that I’d be bored in my final year of law school, but how can I be bored when they’re keeping me so busy with work? I’ve got multiple actual clients and papers to write and exams to study for and jobs to apply for and just… it’s a lot! Anywho, on to the puzzle!

Constructor: Andrew J. Ries

Relative difficulty: Fairly easy
THEME: PARADOX (59A: Logical contradiction … or an aural hint to what are found in 20-, 25- and 45-Across)Each theme answer has a “pair of docs” in the circled parts of the answer

Theme answers:
  • DEVILS DOZEN (20A: “Satanic” nickname for the number 13) 
  • THE WHOLE TRUTH (25A: What a witness is sworn to tell) 
  • DREADNOUGHT (45A: W.W I-era battleship)
Word of the Day: DREADNOUGHT (45A: W.W I-era battleship) —

The dreadnought was the predominant type of battleship in the early 20th century. The first of the kind, the Royal Navy's HMS Dreadnought, had such an impact when launched in 1906 that similar battleships built after her were referred to as "dreadnoughts," and earlier battleships became known as pre-dreadnoughts. Her design had two revolutionary features: an "all-big-gun" armament scheme, with an unprecedented number of heavy-calibre guns, and steam turbine propulsion. (Wiki)

• • •
If this is the type/quality of puzzle I get on a Wednesday, maybe I’ll just switch my official day of the month! I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. The theme (though I didn’t completely get it until after I solved the puzzle) was clever and fun.The whole puzzle felt clean and modern; the clues were creative. I’m not sure how else to say it — it was just a nice puzzle all around. 

Each of the theme answers itself was good, and the added bit of having “doctors” within each answer was a really nice touch. My favorite has to be “Doctor” WHO, which is my favorite TV show of all time. (David Tennant, the 10th Doctor, is the absolute best; and the current Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, is likewise fantastic.) Dr. NO is one of my favorite Bond movies, so I enjoyed seeing this in the puzzle. Dr. OZ? Make that a NO; his pseudo-science strains credulity more often than what I see on the science fiction TV show “Doctor Who.” Still, that’s quite an impressive and diverse array of doctors. 

Having WRAITH (5D: Spooky specter) and HELL (6D: Word spelled with “double hockey sticks”) cross DEVILS DOZEN (20A) was a great start to the puzzle (though I was sort of expecting a Halloween-esque spooky theme with that start). I also really liked the long downs — TWEET STORM (30D: Social media tirade), HOME DESIGN (26D: Subject for House Beautiful Magazine) and the full form of GEN XER (47D: Kid born in the ‘70s, say) are all nice and fresh. 

In a puzzle that was so clean, only two things really stood out to me, neither of which is of much consequence, but I’ve got to put on my Rex hat and critique somewhere in here! First, DEL TACO (37A) isn’t really a competitor of Chipotle, is it? This might just be my take, as someone who is borderline obsessed with Chipotle, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard these two compared before. Second, I disliked having ECG (63A: Heartbeat recording: Abbr.) in the puzzle; there’s no way in this kind of situation to know that it’s not EKG. Google helpfully tells me that ECG is the English abbreviation, while EKG is the German abbreviation, but in the many, many hours of Grey’s Anatomy I’ve watched, I’ve only ever heard EKG, hence my confusion. Luckily, NARCO coming down was pretty easy, so I knew to switch it to ECG

My favorite part of the puzzle was definitely the clues. The constructor managed to clue some very typical crossword words in unusual ways, which I really appreciated. Probably my favorite was seeing 61A: Number of seasons played by baseball’s Seattle Pilots as ONE (61D). That’s just such a random — and interesting — clue. (After one season, the Pilots moved to Milwaukee and became the Brewers in 1970.) Then, having UFO (54D) clued as What Venus is sometimes mistaken for, due to its brightness was different. Same goes for PJS (32D: Togs for sawing logs?), TEETH (43A: Effectiveness of a law, metaphorically), ODIN (56D: Husband of Frigg, in Norse mythology), and ETAL (38D: Abbr. after the third co-author, perhaps). PHONE (32A: What’s answered but never asks a question, in a riddle) was also clued in a fun way.

  • I can confirm we talk a lot in law school about whether something has TEETH (43D). 
  • ZORRO (22D)— I loved watching these movies. I have such a distinct memory of watching the two ZORRO movies on the little portable DVD player I had when I was younger while riding in the car up to Tahoe to go skiing. And who wouldn't fall at least a little bit in love with in-his-prime Antonio Banderas? Or Catherine Zeta Jones, for that matter. 
  • While I’ve never actually had GEL (12D) nails myself, I am a 20-something woman who has opened a copy of Vogue before, so I do know what they are! But I learned they may not have much traction among men of a certain age. (Right, Dad?)
I’m 99% convinced that this was a really great puzzle; the other 1% thinks that I’m just in an amazing mood because BTS just performed on “MTV Unplugged” and killed it beyond belief so everything feels right with the world. Because you need your regular dose of the best group on the entire planet, here is a song for your viewing pleasure:


And if, like me, you’re a big fan of the Coldplay song “Fix You,” here’s an extra-special treat that *gasp* is better than the original!


Signed, Clare Carroll, someone who briefly thought about becoming a doctor but who fainted in the ER on the first day of her internship. (My surgical mask was too tight!!)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:21 AM  

Easy. Delightful, clever, and smooth, liked it a bunch and Jeff gave it POW.

....or what Claire said.

gpm 12:49 AM  

The western equator was tough for me. Between togs, sticky wicket, needing many crosses for 26D, and this/that uncertainty on 25D, I was really in a bind for a while. I also think having "home" as part of the answer for a clue containing the word "house" is... not so classy. Breezed through and enjoyed the rest.

egsforbreakfast 1:35 AM  

Nice to hear your refreshing voice, Clare. I know you’ll hang in there through these weird times and finish strong at school.

This theme knocked me out. Doctors Without Borders may have the moral high ground, but PARADOXS make me want to thank Andrew J. Ries for such a well-executed theme.

I liked a lot of the cluing, like, like “Togs for sawing logs” for PJS and the Seattle Pilots one. But I must agree with Clare that Del Taco is not a Chipotle competitor, more like Taco Bell. And,although I’m not even a lone doc, much les part of a PARADOX, I don’t thing anyone ever says ECG.

But a great Wednesday puz IMHO. Thanks Mr. Ries.

chefwen 2:13 AM  

Nice write up Clare, thanks. About halfway through, puzzle partner, working on his own copy said “is this a Halloween puzzle?” Great minds think alike.

Got the whole thing done, but it still took me a few minutes to grasp the PARADOX gimmick. DOH! 2 by 4 upside the head again.

Anonymous 5:56 AM  

KPop is god-awful.

Lewis 6:15 AM  

I loved the final-a subtheme of RAGA, IOWA, GEISHA, PASTA, URSA, and CHIA, which gave me some schwa de vivre.

Anonymous 6:38 AM  

A fine puzzle. Clare is right that, being much much older than her, 12D meant nothing, but the crosses were gimmes, so no problem. Never heard of DEL TACO, but again the crosses made that not matter.

bocamp 6:51 AM  

Thank you, @Andrew; a most enjoyable Wednes. puz! :)

Med. solve.

Smooth, steady pace, with no holdups.

Even remembered to check out the theme post-solve. LOL

"Ed Asner", one of my all-time fave actors!

Blueberry Hill ~ "Fats" Domino

yd pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

RooMonster 6:51 AM  

Hey All !
Early today, as my personal client dude that I drive all the time wanted to go out on the town last night (this morning[!]), so I haven't gone to sleep yet, gonna ride it out with naps throughout the day!

PARADOX! Har! Good stuff. Let out a chuckle when I got that. Wanted (of course) DOCTORS there, but the letters I already had weren't working. When I got GENXER, giving me that X, saw PARADOX, and chuckliness ensued.

Wanted an A for the O of DREADNOUGHT, but the theme saved me there. I actually asked myself "who the heck is Dr. NA?" Har.

Looks like a pangram, with all the unusual letters strewn about, but actually missing the B, Q, and Y. The whole North section of puz had a bunch of unusual letters (well, not unusual per se, but unusual bunched up), a V and W in NW, W and X in NCenter, X and V in NE. Just struck me as neat. And the fill is clean.

Two letter DNF today. Had lOT for POT, because in my tired brain, was thinking Pan as in a fantasy type story. Sure, lOT could be Pan's partner. :-) Didn't look to see that VAPElEN made no sense! And EkG/NARkO, because ECG???? Nope, never seen that. And don't give me no nonsense that it's widely known in the medical field! So if I don't count that obvious wrong initialism, then I guess it's a one-letter DNF. :-)

Thank you puz from the other day for RKO. I guess Togs are clothes? Another one I didn't know, but threw in the J as JAM made sense for the cross, and sawing logs didn't misdirect me! Agree with Clare on DELTACO as a competitor of Chipotle. Zabas, maybe. But, someone will lawyer it up, and say any food joint is a competitor of any other food joint. So McDonalds could've went there as well. So future "Chipotle (or any other food joint) competitor" might be 'FOODTRUCK", or "ELEVEN MADISON PARK". (That one for you NYCitiers.) Just sayin'. :-)

Oh, left/right symmetry also. Gotta get those four non-matching letter-count themers in there. Well, two are actually 11's, but the other one is 13, and the Revealer is 7. Totally worth it for PARADOX. And cool fill. And clean fill. A very cool WedsPuz. Thankfully we got a chippie write-up with Clare, and not another downer with Rex, pointing out why this puz was terrible. Well, the ECG was terrible...

One F

Keri Gagnon 6:55 AM  

Great write up, Clare. I also very much enjoyed the puzzle — theme was clever and the fill felt fresh. I really need to finally watch Dr. Who.

I completed this pretty quickly and then stared and stared and stared because I couldn’t find my mistake. Finally decided it must be ECG because NARKO had to be wrong. ECG?! I would have appreciated a “(Var.)” next to this one.

Eric NC 7:00 AM  

Great Tuesday level puzzle. What is it with the days lately.

SouthsideJohnny 7:13 AM  

Two rough spots for me - I was not familiar with the term WRAITH (and didn’t know that gamblers are sometimes called WHALEs) - so I kept searching for a mistake there. Similarly, I had no clue what a DREADNOUGHT is/was. Wow, that was a long time ago - in any event, it just didn’t look like a viable answer, even with the two “doctors” confirming that I was on the right track - so I kept looking for mistakes there as well. At least I got stumped by real words, lol - which just feels better than being done in by a foreign word crossing a 3 letter abbreviation from the Roosevelt administration.

The real star of the show today though, in my opinion, is Clare’s excellent review - what a breath of fresh air to read her commentary about the puzzle itself and get a different (and yes a younger person’s) perspective on things - and delightfully absent all of the phony virtue-signaling and contrived outrage about this or that political philosophy or a word that when taken out of context might possibly seem offensive to someone somewhere in the world. Please grace our pages on future Wednesdays as well, Ms. Carroll - you’re a welcome relief from what unfortunately as become the all-to-familiar “look how woke I am” commentary of our usual host.

mooretep 7:13 AM  

Always enjoy your write ups and agree with you about this puzzle.
Getting to the revealer made me go yay!

Although, I take exception with your hyperbole about BTS.
I understand how powerfully influential and popular they are, however:
"Beyond Belief" and "Best Group on the Planet" are descriptors that I feel are beyond the pale.
They can sing quite well, great. So can I and many others, but can they play musical instruments?
To my ears and eyes, they are karaoke.

There are other groups on MTV unplugged that are more virtuosic, IMHO
The Cranberries

Tom T 7:17 AM  

The ECG/EKG thing undid me. Grew up with a doctor dad who specialized in heart conditions--never heard (and sadly couldn't imagine) anything but EKG. So talked myself into believing that in some circles they must be known as NARkOs. Which left me puzzling over NOUGHT vs. NAUGHT (which I had correct all along), and whether nail extensions could be made with something other than GEL (which I had correct as well). Finally gave up and went to the DREADed "Check Puzzle." Dang.

Lewis 7:17 AM  

So, Andrew first of all came up with the idea of using PARADOX to represent two doctors as a theme, which my initial research shows has never been done before (Jeff Chen says he’s thought of it but hasn’t come up with a way to do it). Then Andrew thought of putting two doctors in the theme answers, and came up with three sparkling phrases that work. After that, he had to design a grid to accommodate theme answers of 11, 13, 11, and 7 letters, and the normal puzzle symmetry won’t accommodate that, so he employed the lesser-used mirror symmetry. On top of this, he created a junk-lite grid with some beauteous non-theme answers (GEISHA, SISTINE, WRAITH, ZORRO, TWEETSTORM).

That is, this is the work of a pro.

I liked all the animals present: WHALE, GAR, OWL, DOE, eRATo, HAWKe, URSA, and the backward PETS. And I especially liked the “aha!” that accompanied cracking the theme.

This is a case of sterling construction not for the purpose of showing off, but for providing a lovely solve, and this was a joy for me, Andrew. Applause and gratitude!

pabloinnh 7:19 AM  

About halfway down I knew we were talking about doctors, although the "pair" aspect didn't occur until Mr. Revealer showed up. I envy those of you who had not heard this particular pun before, because to me it was definitely old news, even though I like puns a lot. Not a groaner for me, more of a, uh, OK. I specifically remember my father-in-law having gained renown for a vocabulary question (he was an English teacher, among other things) which included something like "a couple of piers" as a possible answer for PARADOX. That would have been in the '60's.

Otherwise OK, but felt too easy for a Wednesday. Maybe it's a wheelhouse thing, but too many answers were just obvious.

Thanks for doctoring up my day, AJR. You at least got me thinking about my late father-in-law, whose first name was Elmer, but for obvious reasons went by "Spike".

amyyanni 7:25 AM  

You're fantastic, Clare. Being in good spirits is never something for which you need apologize. Totally agree with you; this is a wonderful puzzle. Let's hope it's a harbinger for the day.

Bill Cruse 7:29 AM  

NARCO is clued incorrectly. There’s a Netflix series about Narcos - among other
Narc, slang for a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent
Narcos, people involved in organized crime or illegal drug trade relating to narcotics

kitshef 7:32 AM  

Absolutely, that theme works for me. Had no clue until I got to the revealer, but that wrapped things up beautifully. Nice fill, nice cluing, too. Maybe should have run on a Tuesday.

The paradox that destroys my brain.
You are shown two boxes and told that one box contains twice as much money as the other. You are asked to choose one. You do so. Now you are asked if you would like to switch boxes. You reason as follows:
- The box I chose contains an amount of money – call it n. The other box either contains half as much money (n/2) or twice as much money (2n). If I switch and the other box has less money, I lose [n – n/2] = n/2 dollars. If I switch and the other box has more money, I gain [2n – n] = n dollars. I therefore stand to gain twice as much as I stand to lose. So I should switch.

You switch boxes. Now you are again asked if you want to switch. You reason as follows:
- The box I now have contains an amount of money – call it q. The other box either contains half as much money (q/2) or twice as much money (2q). If I switch and the other box has less money, I lose [q – q/2] = q/2 dollars. If I switch and the other box has more money, I gain [2q – q] = q dollars. I therefore stand to gain twice as much as I stand to lose. So I should switch.

And so ad infinitum.

ChuckD 7:40 AM  

Really nice puzzle. Elegant, tightly constructed theme with clean fill. Liked THE WHOLE TRUTH best and thought the revealer placement was spot on symmetry wise.

TWEET STORM and HOME DESIGN were solid as were WRAITH and SISTINE. What’s the deal with ED ASNER lately - are the letters that useful to a constructor? Side eye to VAPE PEN with all the anti vape PSAs around. Today’s Rye or obscure Michigan congresswoman is DEL TACO whose nearest location to NY is interestingly enough Chesterfield, MI.

Highly enjoyable solve on a beautiful Wednesday morning.

Peter P 8:02 AM  

ECG vs EKG is one of those things I learned from doing crosswords. I don't have access to the Xwordinfo database, but it sure feels like ECG is the abbreviation usually used. (I grew up calling it an EKG, though.) It's always been one of those bits of fill where I left a letter blank while figuring out from the cross which fill is intended (similar to ALII vs ALIA).

Thanks for the explanation on the theme, because I totally did not grok it in my somnolent state.

Hungry Mother 8:04 AM  

Never got the theme, but I also DNFed on the mini and made Genius in SB with no pangram, so no surprise. Seemed easy for the middle of the week.

mmorgan 8:05 AM  

Lots of nice stuff here, but I figured Rex would hate it. Now I’ll never know. I’ve never ever ever ever heard of Del Taco.

Joaquin 8:22 AM  

Clare's write-up put me in such a positive mood that I decided to give a listen (first ever) to BTS.

Well. That took care of that!

TJS 8:41 AM  

A 12 minute Wednesday. What fun !

POW ?? How does Jeff Chen know what the rest of the week is gonna be ? It's depressing to think nothing will be better than this.

I'm gonna get out of here before people start talking about the box of money.

Richard Stanford 8:43 AM  

I struggled with ERATO as well, both the final O and the R - not knowing GAR it took some informed guessing to figure it out.

Z 8:47 AM  

Yep, I circled that DEL TACO clue. Taco Bell, McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendy’s are your other choices at 2:30 a.m. after a night of bar-hopping (well, not where I live now - the deprivations of not living in a big city). But in Crossworld you can’t really use Taco Bell and the other fast food chains don’t really evoke faux Mexican. Of course, there is the “use a different type of clue” option. I’ve also never really understood the Chipotle love. Yes, quick and slightly less processed than fast food, but fans really over-hype what is basically good cafeteria food.

Anyone else amused that Dr. RUTH is the only doctor here with an actual doctorate? (OZ is an MD, he did not earn a doctorate)

ECG/NARCO - Blrggh. The Mayo Clinic says ECG or EkG are fine. Their url uses EkG, though. That is a suboptimal crossing.

Personal foible - An anagram clue for ED ASNER? Fifty plus years of acting and the best you can do is an anagram clue? Lazy Lazy Lazy.

@Chuck D - Just because not everyone reads the comments every day I feel obligated to point out that “Rye” is usually fine. It is only when a clue writer decides to be “creative” and clue it as “a town with a marina” that otherwise calm and reasonable commenters lose their minds.

@Casimir from two days ago - Apparently there is a similar disagreement over Uyghar v. Uighur. Again, the pro Y spellers claiming a pronunciation difference (and me reading the article thinking neither transliteration comes anywhere near what is presented as the preferred pronunciation). It’s the Chinese instead of the Russians this time, but lots of the same arguments are made.

Z 8:50 AM  

@TJS - Chen gets the puzzles a week or two ahead of publication. One of the reasons we know that anything newsworthy that seems to appear in the puzzle is pure coincidence is because publication is set a couple of weeks ahead.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Time for a third proxy blogger. The current two are fine but they’ve aged out as far as the young/noob perspective goes. I remember not too long ago a young man had a tryout but I think he wrote something UNPC and was cancelled. I’m sure there’s a politically correct youngster out there willing to give it a go.

Nfld educator 8:55 AM  

DelTaco? Never heard of it. I looked it up and the closest one is more than 500 miles away. Not much competition for Chipotle in my neighborhood.

EdFromHackensack 9:18 AM  

I just assumed Dr Na was some rapper I never heard of before, And DREADNaUGHT sounded as believable as DREADNOUGHT. so, a minor DNF. I do the hard copy, so there is no Happy Pencil confirmation

bocamp 9:28 AM  

@Claire, thx for the great writeup! And, thx for the BTS vids – not bad listens. :)

@Peter P 8:02 AM

I'm with you on leaving the "e_g" blank.

To "dreadnought" or "dread-a-lot":

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, laugh, and through.

And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword Well done!
And now if you wish, perhaps
To learn of less familiar traps,

Beware of heard, a DREADful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead–
For goodness sakes don’t call it deed.

Watch out for meat and great and threat,
They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.

And here is not a match for there,
And dear and fear for bear and pear.
And then there’s dose and rose and lose–
Just look them up–and goose and choose,

And do and go, then thwart and cart.
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A DREADful language?
Man alive! I’d mastered it when I was five.

Attributed to T. S. Watt (based on "The Chaos" by Gerard Nolst Trenité)

Another version read by JimmmyJams.

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

KnittyContessa 9:28 AM  

What a fun puzzle! I had no idea what the theme was until the end and did it make me smile! Lots of uncommon letters, v, w, x, z, added to the fun. I did have a DNF. EkG. I never bothered to look at the down clue. Trying to find it made me nuts!

TJS 9:29 AM  

Thanks @Z.

I seem to remember The Del Tacos, a Mexican doo-wop band in the early 60's. Had a break-through hit with a version of "La Bamba".

Sir Hillary 9:31 AM  

Great stuff. Andrew Ries doesn't have as high a profile and some other constructors, but he's a star. Subscribe to his Rows Garden and Freestyle (themeless) series, and you'll understand why I say that. His cluing is often inscrutable, probably more so than the NYT would prefer, and we got a lite version of that today.

@Lewis said it best: this is a clever, original theme executed to perfection, with little (if any) junk fill.

Having grown up in SoCal, I know DELTACO well and do not consider it a Chipotle competitor. As noted by @Z, I don't believe I ever ate there earlier than 1:00am.

albatross shell 9:35 AM  

Being a math logic person and a pun word play person I have used the PARADOX equals pair of docs many times. Very well done as a puzzle theme. But what people seem to be ignored is this: Are the theme answers themselves paradoxes? The puzzle itself makes no such claim. But DEVILSDOZEN is obviously one. 13 does not equal a dozen. DREADNOUGHT means fear nothing. Which can mean be afraid of nothing. But why should one be afraid of nothing? Nothing is not a something to be scared of. Therefore a paradox. THEWHOLETRUTH is more difficult. I suppose you might say THEWHOLETRUTH is not something you can ever find. Thus it too is a PARADOX. The problem here is not that the puzzle demands they be paradoxes but that they come so close to being paradoxes (and maybe 2 of them clearly can be) it is sad that it just maybe misses having this amazing extra dimension.
And if I am being too Rexian here it is also just an iota sad that THEWHOLETRUTH is three words.

Remarkably free of POC too. No double POCs. Two to four singles. I would not count PJS or DEVILS.

Mirror symmetry seems to produce and above average number of good puzzles. The grid here does produce a lot of short fill. And for day of week complainers I did this one faster than the 2 previous days. Still it's on the stellar side.

Et Tu, Joel? 9:38 AM  

Naticked in the Mini!

burtonkd 9:42 AM  

Since ECG stands for ElectroCardioGram, why do we favor the German EKG here? I suspect it is similar to why the medical profession uses so much Latin terminology: to separate themselves from the commoners to preserve the insider status of those with education.
At any rate, as someone mentioned, you are more likely to see ECG in xworld, since that is a more likely letter combination.

Fantastic writeup, Clare. You make me feel like I'm not working hard enough these days. Inre BTS: not saying there is anything wrong with it, but the androgeny of their appearance is really striking. I am beginning to learn that K-Pop, much like ballet, has a lot of pain behind the smooth surface.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

There's also EEG, whiiiiiiiiiiiich might not be heart related. Let's go see... yeah, it's a brain monitor.

Nancy 9:55 AM  

The whole thing sailed right over (under?) my head. I finished the grid easily but was left by the revealer and the annoying tiny little circles with a great big "Huh?"

I guess I don't know my DOX very well.

If I had thought about it longer instead of impatiently coming here to see what was going on, I might have figured it out. But I couldn't wait. I'm an impatient sort of person, and that's THE WHOLE TRUTH.

It's a much cleverer puzzle than I realized, but the cleverness had nothing to do with my solving experience -- and therein lies the rub. Because my solving experience was less than enthralling. And that, too, is THE WHOLE TRUTH.

I did have one narrowly-avoided pitfall, though. When I had the IT at 5D I wanted to cross sprITe with SPORT for the "big spender in gambling". But I waited, which was fortunate, because the cross turned out to be WRAITH/WHALE. The fact that they both would have worked is what I suppose you might call a PARADOX.

RAD2626 9:58 AM  

Terrific puzzle, concept and cluing. Original theme answers and revealer. Nice write up as well. All good.

I was so proud of myself. I saw “Cash in” with the ? And immediately thought Deposit, which fit and so I quickly typed in in. I then got to the Chevy VOLT and my ego took a quick hit. But not enough to diminish my enjoyment. I still like deposit.

I like the @kitschef paradox and get it. Never have come to grips with the “Let’s Make a Deal” door choice.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Found this:

There is no difference between an ECG and an EKG. Both refer to the same procedure, however one is in English (electrocardiogram – ECG) and the other is based on the German spelling (elektrokardiogramm – EKG).

oceanjeremy 10:12 AM  

This was a pleasant puzzle, and I enjoyed it a great deal! Until I got to the revealer and realized Dr Oz was getting a shout-out.

Dr Oz has promoted homeopathy, guest psychics, miracle healers, iridology (the quackery of diagnosing illness by merely examining a patient's iris), hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 treatment, astrology for healthcare, harmful weight loss "miracle drugs," and many more — the list is endless.

In 2015 a group of ten renowned physicians wrote a letter to Columbia University, where Dr Oz is an appointed Professor of Surgery, to complain about his "egregious lack of integrity."

Student paper Columbia Daily Spectator called him "the stereotypical American grifter, selling nonsense and reaping millions."

The Wikipedia page for Mehmet Oz calls him, among other things, a "Columbia University professor [and] pseudoscience promoter."

He has been grilled by congress over his promotion of dangerous weight loss supplements. He has never apologized for nor recanted his downright dangerous advice.

He has no business being in the NYTXW. This puzzle doesn't pass *my* Sunday Morning Breakfast Test, as seeing his name makes me want to expel my breakfast right onto the puzzle.

This puzzle gets a big fat FAIL from me.

Tale Told By An Idiot 10:20 AM  

Frederic. A paradox?
Ruth. (laughing)
A paradox,
A most ingenious paradox!
We’ve quips and quibbles heard in flocks,
But none to beat this paradox!

All. A paradox, a paradox,
A most ingenious paradox.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,
This paradox.

“The Pirates of Penzance” by W.S. Gilbert

Liked the puzzle a lot!

Whatsername 10:23 AM  

Skimmed comments out of curiosity and looks like I’m in the minority today, but I just didn’t find this as thrilling as many did. I could vaguely see that the theme involved “doctors” but it kind of fell flat since I only recognized a couple of them. DEVILS DOZEN was not a familiar expression and Chipotle I know but DEL TACO? Anyway, throw THAT all in the POT together and the WHOLE concept of PARADOX went sailing right over my head like a UFO on red ALERT.

These days I spend more time RELAXing at HOME in my PJS than I do at events the DEA might care about, but I’ve always heard them called NARCS. I sure don’t miss getting the daily political news via TWEET STORM. The ordinariness of plain old headlines has been such a pleasant change.

Very nice writeup Clare. Interesting tidbit about the Pilots becoming the Brewers after their ONE season.

Nancy 10:26 AM  

@Lewis (6:15) -- Nice pun! How do you manage to think of nice puns before the sun has even come up?

To Clare: The fact that you have "actual clients" makes me realize you're taking at least one clinical law class. You might be interested to know that my brother the Law Professor was one of its very early developers. He launched such a class in his non-tenure-track professorship at one university; then brought his experience to another university where he was hired for a tenured position and has remained for the rest of his career.

It may seem strange now, Clare, but the concept of clinical law classes was extremely controversial back then. Back in the day, the Ivies sniffed at it disparagingly and stuck to the tried-and-true, very traditional classes taught by Professor Kingsfield in "The Paper Chase." But I always thought that what my brother did was exciting as hell and extremely valuable to the emerging lawyer. Imagine having your own clients and working on real cases as a law student! Had I been in law school, that would have been the course I would have wanted to sign up for first. Jimmy also taught some of the traditional courses ("Evidence" is one, I remember), but clinical law was his great passion. I hope you're enjoying it, Clare.

TTrimble 10:34 AM  

They still play music on MTV?

Agree with both aspects of @mooretep's 7:13 AM comment, entirely. Enjoy your XW comments. And, hang in there, Clare.

The puzzle was generally fun and not at all difficult. My nits are those of others: DEL TACO I never heard of, much less recognize as a competitor of Chipotle's. And honestly, EKG is far, far more familiar to me than ECG. More precisely, I can't recall ever seeing ECG, even though that makes more sense as an English abbreviation. So EKG is what I put in -- despite the fact that I've never seen "Narko" either! Mebs.

(Kraftwerk's Elektrokardiogramm.)

(I like the nugget of information embedded in a clue for IOWA the other day: Sioux for "sleepy ones". Tribal trash talk?)


yd pg -1, td 0. Although I'm annoyed CHIRAL is deemed unacceptable. As ever, I find some of Sam Ezersky's choices very odd.

albatross shell 10:36 AM  

I never heard of DEL TACO and was left wondering why DELTA CO. was battling a restaurant. Food poisoning? Another insurrection? A Democratic Party pedophile Wiccan ring eating babies in the basement?

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

Nirvana can sing quite well and play instruments, great. So can I and many others, but can they also dance and rap?
(Let people enjoy the things they like! Enjoying music is not a zero sum game. Signed, a fan of BTS and the Cranberries)

Joe Dipinto 10:45 AM  

Andrew Ries's puzzles are always stellar. And he's been contributing clever P&A puzzles to Sunday's variety page. Too bad he's a white guy.

That ED ASNER clue is so mindblowingly awful it's actually hilarious.

Obvious choice for today

TJS 10:51 AM  

@bocamp, Thank you, this is awesome. I just had to learn how to save a screen shot to download this for future reference.

A2JD 10:56 AM  

Sorry to divert from the crossword but how is singing with autotune and to prerecorded music “unplugged”?

I’m confused.

I did enjoy the puzzle, though.

Barbara S. 10:56 AM  

I have to copycat Clare Carroll and countless commenters and congratulate the constructor! All those Cs because I’m amazed at the widespread unfamiliarity with ECG. It’s what those tests are most commonly called here in my part of Canada. I'm aware of "EKG," but I’ve never heard a doctor use any term but ECG. Back to the puzzle as a whole, it took me until the end of the solve to see all the doctors, and even then I didn’t grasp the “pair of”/PARA sound-alike – I thank whatever gods there be for this blog.

ED ASNER is definitely the new Issa Rae (somewhat similar letters). IOWA keeps getting clued oddly. On Sunday it was something about “sleepy ones” in Sioux(!), and today it’s a steamboat on the state seal. Do people generally know what’s on the seal of individual states? I’m guessing not.
I’m intrigued by TEETH as a metaphor for the effectiveness of a law. We also say that certain things have “legs,” meaning staying power or viability. Do we use any other such body-part expressions? On another topic, I prefer Baker's DOZEN to DEVILS DOZEN – not as an answer in this puzzle -- but just because it’s yummier.

Lots of poems and song lyrics being quoted today (I like it!) and here’s another one -- a poem by JANE HIRSHFIELD, born Feb. 24, 1953:


One ran,
her nose to the ground,
a rusty shadow
neither hunting nor playing.

One stood; sat; lay down; stood again.

One never moved,
except to turn her head a little as we walked.

Finally we drew too close,
and they vanished.
The woods took them back as if they had never been.

I wish I had thought to put my face to the grass.

But we kept walking,
speaking as strangers do when becoming friends.

There is more and more I tell no one,
strangers nor loves.
This slips into the heart
without hurry, as if it had never been.

And yet, among the trees, something has changed.

Something looks back from the trees,
and knows me for who I am.

Deb Sweeney 11:02 AM  

The ECG / EKG thing was rough on me too for very personal reasons. 18 years ago, I went to an urgent care coughing up blood and was sent to the hospital to get an "ECHOcardiogram." Got there before the orders did and told them I needed an EKG. Normal, sent home as it was the middle of the night. Got a call 10 minutes after arriving home, come back, an EKG is an ELECTROcardiogram ya dummy. Had echo, admitted to hospital. Hey I was 34 and formerly healthy, what did I know? Know your cardiograms, everyone. PSA out.

Ethan Taliesin 11:04 AM  

Great puzzle today. Was hoping it was going to have a devilish theme, but doctors is cool too

What? 11:07 AM  

Pair of docs? Argh. I hate you Andrew. You made me feel stupid. Worst Wednesday ever!

Ethan Taliesin 11:15 AM  

I don't know much about Chipotle but I walked in one time and it seemed like fast food slop to me. I left without ordering, but isn't Del Taco fast food too?

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

last time I got 13 of anything was a Baker's DOZEN of doughnuts. not from Dunkin' of course.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Aren't drug Lords called NARCOterrorists? And the DEA, et al, who pursue them NARCs? Is this another case of one brother grows up a cop and the other a criminal?

Carola 11:34 AM  

A witty theme and clever clues, plus the joy of WRAITH and the terrific DREADNOUGHT - I thought this was a real treat of a puzzle. EVIL, OZ, and WHO had left me wondering what? and why?, but then RUTH provided the aha-moment. I couldn't come up with any doctor-related reveal, so PARADOX elicited a burst of delight. Like @Sir HIlary, I'm familiar with Andrew Ries mostly from his Rows Garden puzzles; I hope we'll see more of his crosswords!

@Clare, thanks for your cheery review.

A 11:36 AM  

This is my favorite Monday puzzle so far this week. THAT’s the gimmick, right - a week of Mondays? A few crunchy bits, but NARCO fixed my EkG, EXEC gave up AXON. I’ve never seen a DEL TACO (DELTA CO?) but the crosses were Monday fare, and fair.

RAGA and GEL tried to hide but I found the G (as in guide and gibe). Hi, @bocamp! I followed your link and read The Chaos - the poem is amazing and so is the story. And there’s a bonus - an admonition to “mind” one of our commenters, for mezzotint. ;-)

@Lewis found a cool ‘final-a’ subtheme - mine is O’s. 16 squares with O, so 32 O words - is THAT ALLOT?


Clare, nice review and I especially agree about the fun clues. A couple you didn’t mention: Cash in?/REVENUE and Sticky wicket/JAM (my sticky hands down favorite).

Plus we MET our WATERLOO from yesterday.

RKO - not karaoke, but Carioca

mathgent 11:46 AM  

Very nice puzzle and I learned some things. I've heard DREADNOUGHT used as a metaphor for something overpowering, but iI didn't know that it was based on a battleship. As a numbers lover, I'm happy to learn DEVILSDOZEN. GEISHAs use a special makeup.

I worked my whole career in the San Francisco public schools. I was an officer in the union before working in the administration. But I am now very disappointed in them. The board of education wants to insult the Father of Our Country by renaming George Washington High School. The teachers won't go back to the school buildings while all the private school teachers have.

newbie 11:49 AM  

Liked it fine until I was done in by the middle.

Wanted GAR (sounds like har!) and DEL TACO (Never heard of it.) but EROTO? ERATA? EROTA? ERATO? Or DEL LOCO? (We have a Taco Loco nearby - at least we used to - it seems to be an Irish pub - with nachos and tacos, presumably).

No clue. So I couldn’t get the right combo of letters. Tried LATEN as one of the possibilities and after looking it up still think “to make late” or “to (cause to) be late” is too much of a stretch, although “to grow late” for the clue “Get dark, say” makes sense. Just not familiar with it.

So I had each of the words right but not all at once - a paradox?

I think they should have gone with Taco Bell unless they were going for Friday or Saturday toughness/obscurity.

Personally, I’ve always liked Qdoba, although the name can be hard to remember, probably because they aren’t as common as Chipotle. Qdoba would also compare more directly to Chipotle, from what Clare said about Del Taco. And, as far as I know, Qdoba hasn’t had a couple of major contamination catastrophes like Chipotle did.

Never got paradox/pair-o-docs. When I finally saw it, felt pretty stupid.

I think ECG is commonly used now, except, I guess, on Grey’s Anatomy (which isn’t even spelled like its anatomy book namesake, so no wonder). Besides, would you get your knowledge of the law from The Good Wife? Don’t answer that! Law and Order, maybe. (Although I also tried EKG for a second.)

Nice to know the difference between NARC and narco - thanks, @Bill Cruse.

I just found out it’s difficult to look up the famous medical book Gray’s Anatomy online because they keep changing the spelling and sending you to the TV show! So I assume there are now a couple generations who’ve never heard of the anatomy book, unless they choose a medical career.

Always nice to hear Clare’s easy, breezy take on a puzzle. A refreshing change (but I suspect that we’d miss Rex if we had all that sunshine all the time because we, too, are somewhat jaded and crotchety - no offense). Great write-up, Clare!

Masked and Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Apt pair-up, on the EVIL and OZ dox, actually.
Great blog subwork by Clare darlin, but a shame @RP missed out on a puztheme with The Circles. Always a fave of his.

Enjoyed this puz. Hard to beat a well-doctored "aural hint" revealer. Always luv that E-W symmetry, too. Kinda neat Doctored Jaws of Themelessness out there in the puzgrid, too boot.

staff weeject pick: Nuthin really desperate to "pick" on, TRI as M&A might. Really like RKO, tho. They made lots great old schlock movie flix, so I'll go with that. Primo weeject stacks in the SW & SE, btw.

some fave sparklers: ZORRO. TWEETSTORM. And especially them circled VW letters in 21-D [paramotors!].
Cluin with anagrams, again [EDASNER/ENDEARS] … a new regular puzfeature? Coulda been worse, ED … they mighta gone with ARSE END, or somesuch.

Thanx, paradoxically, Mr. Ries dude. Real good job. A fine triple -X puz.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

a bit stinky:

bocamp 12:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Whatsername 12:01 PM  

After a bit of googling, I’m gonna say it appears the clue for 49D is wrong. On-line references I found all indicate that slang usage of NARCO is “omne who traffics or deals drugs illegally” or a drug addict. So pretty much the opposite of a DEA agent, commonly defined as a NARC.

I’ve missed @Frantic the last day or two. Hope all is okay with her and with @GILL as well.

Z 12:01 PM  

@Barbara S asks, Do people generally know what’s on the seal of individual states? Heck, I can’t even do it for Michigan. I know it says “Si Quæris Peninsulam Amœnam Circumspice,” and there are some deer relatives on it (I looked it up, allegedly a moose and an elk, I’ve never seen either but then I’m not a Yooper), and also “Tuebor” (I remember this mostly because a Michigan Ultimate team liked “I defend” so put Tuebor on their swag). The clue is really saying four letter state with the Mississippi River as one border. I guess the Ohio River probably had steamboats, too, so I guess Ohio is plausible, but steamboats say “Mississippi” to me. Utah seems to be a non-starter, though.

Nancy 12:05 PM  

@bocamp (9:28) -- I love the English pronunciation poems -- both of them. I THOUGHT they were very THOROUGH in the examples they took us THROUGH and extremely clever and well-written. Thanks for providing the links.

(It's amazing that all the people attempting to learn English sometime later in life haven't shot themselves.)

Barbara S. 12:11 PM  


"I count only 29 kids. Aren't there supposed to be 30 campers on the field trip today?"

"One ill."

"Oh, who?"


Anonymous 12:14 PM  

Much I didn't know, but this was a Wednesday, and all solvable via crosses. Like the recent post of @A (11:36) and an hour earlier by albatross shell (10:36) I wondered about 37A, DELTA CO. and wondered how Delta Airline Company could be in competition with Chipotle. Then I decided to propose a riddle: how is Chipotle similar to Delta Air Lines? I can suggest one good answer. If you are there for the company's primary function (to eat a bean-filled burrito or to fly somewhere), you are normally going to have a "tank" full of gas by the time you take off. Another possibility. If you happen by each place accidentally (heading toward McDonalds or Southwest Airlines), neither place is likely to raise much of a fuss if you use its bathroom.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Crimson Devil 12:27 PM  

Concur re ECG, nee EKG: had one this week, described by administrator using K.

albatross shell 12:31 PM  

NARCO can mean big time drug dealer or undercover agent working against the dealers. The former seems more common now. I think the latter was more popular decades ago. It is often used as a prefix as in narcotrafficing, narcostate and narcoterroism. So maybe not the best clue but passable or on the edge.

Maybe EDASNER likes anagrams. Maybe you don’t. Maybe constructors do not care. Maybe others enjoy them. Vague recollection of Dick Cavett was exceptionally good at them. Not that he liked them but something his brain did on autopilot. I think they are OK clues but lousy for themes. They add some interest in crosswords because if a cross does not have one of the letters you know the cross is wrong. As you get more crosses seeing the anagram answer is easier. Having the anagram bare some relation to the word, when it is a word, adds interest too. That's my opinion that you don't have to care about, as if you need my permission for that. Har indeed.


EXCELSIOR is on New York State’s seal. It’s also on our new license plates. Our embattled governor could tell you that.

Pam Fletcher 12:50 PM  

Hi Clare. Great write up! Enjoy your law career. I practiced 30 years and loved it. I am now reinvented as a painter! Pam Fletcher

bocamp 1:00 PM  

"narco" (Webster)

@TJS 10:51 AM

Yw 😊

I love coincidences, and this was a fine example. A friend emailed this poem to me this a.m.. Afaik, she's not a NYT xword solver, so I'll chalk it up as "my coincidence of the day", (at least so far). LOL

@Barbara S. 10:56 AM

Thx for the Hirshfield poem. :)

@A 11:36 AM 😉

@Whatsername 12:01 PM

Echoing your sentiments re: @Frantic and @Gill. 🙏

@Nancy 12:05 PM - yw :)

@Barbara S. 12:11 PM

Good one!

SB stuff

@TTrimble 10:34 AM 👍

Yeah, there were some others not accepted, as well. Very recently, there was a plural (disallowed) of an SB-worthy word. Why accept a word, but not its plural? Simple answer: Sam's got to pare the list down to manageability for us SBers. Any other plausible explanation? 🤔

On to today's. 🤞

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Jeff 1:06 PM  

THEWHOLETRUTH is a major fail. Each of the other theme doctors is a person, real or fictional. In the BBC science fiction series, there is no person named "Doctor Who". The Doctor is always referred to as "The Doctor". His/her real name is said to be a secret, and unpronounceable by humans in any event.

If we're expected to know every last bit of GoT/LoTR/Harry Potter/Marvel trivia, the least editors and constructors can do is get their Whovian $h1t straight.

Douglas 1:07 PM  

As a pediatric cardiologist myself and most colleagues that I know refer to the study as an EKG, in written and oral form. When written out in a formal context such as an article or electronically generated report it is typically referred to as an ECG. I think either is fair game for a crossword puzzle.

webwinger 1:08 PM  

I thought the puzzle was quite good, for reasons already mentioned by Clare and many others. The idea of conflating PARADOX and “pair of docs” is an old one, but the theme answers today felt fresh and ingenious.

Re the ECG vs. EKG question: A quick search using PubMed, the leading medical literature search tool for physicians and other healthcare professionals, limited to English language publications, shows about 180K hits for ECG versus 160K for EKG. A Google search yields, somewhat surprisingly, a considerably greater preponderance, about 71.4M hits for ECG, 31.4M for EKG

My personal sense has been that ECG is used considerably more often in formal medical writing (especially in English), but EKG may be more common in conversation, perhaps because it rolls off the tongue more easily. Both abbreviations are instantly understood by all who work in theses fields.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

Haven't been to all but I suspect all Mexican fast food places are pretty much the same, as are the fast food burger joints.

old timer 1:14 PM  

Congrats to Clare, as a student, a person, and a reviewer. Keep us in the loop as you move forward, please.

@kitshef, there is no real paradox. In these situations, examples help. You have two boxes, one containing a dime and the other a nickel. If you switch, you still have two boxes, one with a dime, the other with a nickel. You really have no basis to switch. Now if the games master took the box you didn't choose, put a new sum in there, and knew, say, you had already chosen the dime, then the box wold now have either two dimes or a nickel, and you should switch. But as stated, you either have a nickel or a dime, and no choice you make is going to change that.

PARADOX brings back fond memories of folk music camp, when two doctors in our Folk Club worked up a set of songs and tunes, and gave us all a good time when they played. They adopted the stage name PARADOX.

Douglas 1:26 PM  

Also, using EKG avoids the possible confusion of ECG with EEG (electroencephalogram)

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

People who live around NYC don't actually pronounce paradox to rhyme with pair of docs. It's the merry, marry, Mary thing. They are all pronounced differently in NYC, whereas there is no distinction in large parts of the country.

burtonkd 1:37 PM  

@Anonymous 10:42: I am going to borrow your "Enjoying music is not a zero sum game." it doesn't need to be divided into tribal membership. While music can be the universal language, how often is it?

@A2JD - your comment made me go back and watch. Nothing wrong with preparing music yourself ahead of time, then play or sing along with it for live TV performances (YoYo Ma and Emmanuel Ax did it for an inauguration).
But the whole point of "Unplugged" was to get away from the (over?)produced aspect of commercial music to get back to its essence. There's all kinds of voices in this track that noone is even bothering to lip-synch to... I know, get off my lawn.

Doc John 1:38 PM  

ECG is just fine.

pabloinnh 1:50 PM  

For those of you unfamiliar with Del Taco--

The 1957 Milwaukee Braves had three catchers--Del Crandall, Del Rice, and Del Taco.

Hope this is helpful.

JonP 1:51 PM  

I'm with @newbie. Done in by the middle.

Things I never heard of: Del Taco, gar, Erato or laten as a verb.

The closest Del Taco to this lifelong Northeast Corridor resident is 400+ miles. It also has 1/4 as many shops as Chipotle. So it feels like a qualifier is in order on that clue.

Joe Dipinto 2:12 PM  

@burtonkd 1:37 – Maybe they thought holding cordless mics qualifies as "unplugged".

stephanie 2:16 PM  

even though i don't play any video games myself, i do like to watch them and my partner is a gamer and oddly enough those things helped me with this puzzle - wraith, dreadnought, and del taco actually, all courtesy of game(rs). lots of twitch streamers live in CA where del taco is and they have mentioned it. (according to wikipedia, it wasn't until 1992 when del taco could expand beyond CA, and now(ish) "The chain operates in 15 states, and has 580 locations as of January 1, 2019. The majority of their restaurants are in California. Del Taco also operates in other western states (including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Utah), and has a handful of locations sprinkled around areas east of the Mississippi. Las Vegas, Nevada has the most Del Tacos of any single city, and California has the most Del Tacos of any state.")

started to type a whole thing about how all e-cigs are vape pens but not all vape pens are e-cigs, and thus it's not really an "alternative" - already a super minor quibble, but then i realized the clue could have just meant alternative name. oops! quibble retracted.

still don't really grok the teeth/law thing, but it was the obvious answer. agree that "ECG" is certainly the less popular acronym but got "narcos" and googled "ecg" after i finished to see about it. (but also? i've only ever heard "narc" in english. i thought "narco(s)" was the spanish version? apparently and again according to wikipedia "narco" is also correct in english but that was news to me.)

anyway, didn't understand the circled letters or the "aural" clue at all, so once again grateful to be able to come here and get the rest of the story, as it goes. (guess it must be the RI/boston accent? paradox doesn't have "pair" in it here.) that was kind of a bummer but overall i enjoyed the puzzle. i like the ones where my initial pass of clues leaves a lot of white on the board and i start to think i won't be able to get very far, but once i get my thinking cap on and dig in it starts to all come together. the only real total guess for me was gar/erato. tried the L, then the R.

sanfranman59 2:23 PM  

Easy NYT Wednesday ... 20% below my Wednesday 6-month median solve time

Although I'm not generally a fan of circles in grids, I thought this was a pretty solid puzzle. I'm a sucker for Scrabbly-ness and I got it both here and in today's LA Times puzzle. I'm never thrilled by seeing REWED {34A: Got married again} (or other fake RE- words that no one ever uses in the real world) or NARCO {49D: D.E.A. agent, slangily} in the grid, but I think those were the only stinkers. I don't think I've come across DEVIL'S DOZEN {20A: "Satanic" nickname for the number 13} before. I like it and it was easy enough to suss out, but I wonder how bakers feel about it. DREADNOUGHT {45A: W.W. I-era battleship} is a cool, evocative word. It was a fun challenge to dig that one out of the cobwebs of my brain. This makes three RKO {65A: Old Hollywood's ___ Pictures} appearances in the last eight NYT puzzles, plus one in mid-December. Odd.

stephanie 2:42 PM  

@newbie re: grey's/gray's anatomy - it's a purposeful play on words, not a misspelling or misunderstanding as you seem to allude to with "no wonder." the title character around whom the show revolves is meredith GREY. :) (also had no trouble searching "gray's anatomy book" on google.) so, actually, i would wager there are now tons more people who know about the text "gray's anatomy" because of the show. (i personally had never heard of it i don't think until i started watching the show.)

jberg 3:13 PM  

There's a bunch of bakers outside. They want their DOZEN back. But I'm sure it's a legitimate phrase, and it was fun to figure out.

I'm on Twitter a middling amount, and in my experience people often use TWEETSTORM just to mean a chain of tweets, where you create a thread by posting one and then replying to yourself multiple times. It could be a rant, but it could also be a mathematical proof or a protracted discussion of some topic. Still, the clue got me the answer, so there's that.

Shortz likes to play with letterrs -- if you listen to his weekend bit on NPR, that's all he does (well, that and ply whoever is on the phone with one clue after another until they finally get the answer). So I'm betting he changed the clue for ASNER.

The Massachusetts state seal has become controversial, because there's a Native American on it with a sword hanging over his head. I'm not sure where the issue stands, but it wouldn't surprise me if we change it. Maybe we'll go to a steamboat at the Natick marina.

Kath320 3:18 PM  

Didn't know or need to know Chipolte's competitor, but couldn't figure out why a Mexican food restaurant chain would have the name "Delta Co."

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

Oh dear. Kitshef. Refresh yourself with my axiom. Look up Bertrand's box. Hell ask Monty Hall.
But please, don't ever make a deal involving numbers without consulting someone.

Your pal,

Andrey Kolmogorov

bocamp 3:44 PM  

@RAD2626 9:58 AM - re: “Let’s Make a Deal” door choice." (not a "paradox")

Otherwise known as the "Monty Hall Problem" (I'll assume this is the same one you referred to – if not, my bad).

"Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, "Do you want to pick door No. 2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?"

Many years ago, after initially getting it wrong, I needed to understand the math, so I did my version of reverse engineering.

Spoiler alert:

Here's what I did to absolutely convince myself why I should have switched doors: I imagined the same situation, but with (pick a large number) say, 1,000 doors; 999 goats and one very nice prize. I pick one door and the odds are 1/1000 of the prize being behind it (pretty slim).

Monty now opens 998 doors (all revealing goats), leaving only two closed, one of which is the prize. He now asks if I'd like to change my choice.

I often have trouble with math concepts, but this was easy for me to grasp at this point. The odds were 999/1000 that the prize was behind the door I didn't originally pick.

Extrapolating from 1000 doors down to two, as is the case in the "Monty Hall Problem", I was able to see that even with two doors remaining, the odds were not 50/50. They were 1/3 for the original door (same as when I picked that door) and 2/3 for the second door.

If this isn't enough to convince anyone to change their choice of doors, then a simple experiment should suffice. Have a friend sub for Monty and set up the problem using the original three doors. Do this for a large enough number of times to demonstrate that by changing your choice of doors, you win 66.7% of the time.

Apparently, a number of real mathematicians got this wrong, as well: "The Time Everyone “Corrected” the World’s Smartest Woman", (Marilyn vos Savant).

the "Monty Hall Problem" (Wikipedia)

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Douglas 3:51 PM  

Del Taco is to Chipotle as Kmart is to Target.

Daniel de Kadt 4:16 PM  

As someone lacking an American accent, the theme made absolutely no sense until I saw this post.

Fun puzzle though.

Anonymous 4:22 PM  

The reason most doctors and nurses don't say ECG, but say EKG, is because it would be too easy to mistake it for EEG (electroencephalogram or brain wave test) in an emergency situation. Drlee77

Z 5:01 PM  

That risk of confusing EE EE GEE and EE CEE GEE is a pretty good reason to say it as EKG. Somebody said ECG is fair for a crossword, and I’d say that’s correct. But nobody has to like it.

@jberg3:13 - What you’re describing I see called a “thread.” TWEETSTORM is usually used when the Tweeter is, well, STORMy.

@webwinger - If you’re right about ECG being more formal then google hits will not be indicative of general oral usage.

@albatross shell - Maybe others enjoy them. (anagrams, that is) No doubt. De gustibus and all that. I do wonder about BTS. I’m predicting the ABBA curve. That is, huge popularity followed by a decade or two of relative oblivion followed by huge popularity again (about when Clare’s generation hits 50). Anagrams, OTOH have hit their peek. I suspect the SBers here like them far more than I. I don’t even mind them in the context of a good mystery (they were fine as plot device in Enola Holmes for example). But spelling was boring in grade three. It is no less boring to me at age 60. Z’s Rule is Word Play > Trivia > Letter Play > Quote Puzzles.

@Anon1:14 - The DEL TACO near my old house was open 24 hours, so had breakfast items. I’d rate DEL TACO as slightly better than Taco Bell in the faux Mexican Fast Food niche.

Crosswordese Coming again to a puzzle near you
I am surprised that anyone who is not a new solver hasn’t seen these several times already.
(note, too, that the other nine <a href=">Muses</a> are much rarer, Clio being second and I just recently saw Urania.The only one I’ve never seen, though, is Polyhymnia)(Oh - also very common to use Muses to clue “nonad” and “ennead.”)
ECG and EKG so wait for the cross.

TTrimble 5:14 PM  

*** SB Alert ***

*** Possible spoilers for puzzles from days back ***

@bocamp 1:00 PM
"Simple answer: Sam's got to pare the list down to manageability for us SBers. Any other plausible explanation?"

Sorry, but I'm not convinced that's the explanation. He doesn't shrink from SB lists with upwards of 60 or 70 answers. And he doesn't shrink from words rarely encountered in the wild. With such lists, what's one more word, if it's a plural of another?

My own explanation is less charitable, and partly subjective: he often makes eclectic choices -- very weird choices -- and he makes mistakes. I forget what was the undeniably commonplace word we discussed some months back, where he admitted his error (I guess on Twitter). And honestly, why CALLALOO and GALANGAL and not the commonplace crossword word ALEE?

(I really disliked DOOMY from two days ago. I grudgingly admit it's a word though. Just not one in my lexicon -- it sounds almost juvenile to me.)


Different topic: did you see my octopus camouflage video from yesterday, @bocamp?

Z 5:14 PM  

(note, too, that the other nine Muses are much rarer, Clio being second and I just recently saw Urania.The only one I’ve never seen, though, is Polyhymnia)(Oh - also very common to use Muses to clue “nonad” and “ennead.”)

RAD2626 5:16 PM  

One anecdote about the Pilots becoming the Brewers after one season. Because of various lawsuits and a bankruptcy, the team at the end is Spring training did not know if it would break camp and travel north to Washington or east to Wisconsin. The bankruptcy referee approved the sale of the team to a group headed by later Commissioner Bud Selig six days before the start of the season. There was no time to get new uniforms so they stripped the uniforms of the Pilots logo and sewed on the Brewers, keeping their yellow and blue color scheme in place, as it remains to today.

@bocamp. Thanks for the elaboration of the Monty Hall problem. It still seems to me like it ought to be 1/3 but I accept your conclusion.

bocamp 5:45 PM  

@Z 5:01 PM

Re: anagrams (for me):

I love the SB much more than anagrams per se. There's no time pressure, as would be the case with xwords, Scrabble, etc. Plus, SB only allows single words (of at least four letters) and there's always a unique letter that has to be used in every word.

I suspect I don't care for anagrams in xwords any more than you do.

As for Scrabble, I enjoy playing, but have to force myself to play at a pace that seems respectable. I'm a very average Scrabbler, at best.

SB is my forte, but I understand there are many out there who are much better than I, achieving QB almost on a daily basis and taking far less time to get there.

Everything's relative, as some famous person once said. LOL

npg - 3

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 5:47 PM  

Sure, many crossword solvers know GAR and ERATO. But many residents of the northeastern US know Natick too. This is a perfect example of a Natick. If you happen not to know either of the two answers, the letter is unguessable.

newbie 6:13 PM  

Yeah @steph 2:42 pm - I knew that.

bocamp 7:34 PM  

@RAD2626 5:16 PM

You're too kind.

Yes, 1/3, but which door? The other has to be 2/3. I think most folks think, "the odds are 50/50, so what's the point of switching? I'll stick with my original choice." :(

I always told my students, whether school, sports, chess, Rubik's Cube, etc., "if the light bulb isn't coming on for you, it's on me, not you; help me to be a better teacher."

In any event, there are far more important things going on than "Monty Hall's Problem", such as baseball spring training. :)

Speaking of the Pilots, that was a win for Milwaukie; getting the Mariners a few years later was a win for the Pacific Northwest. I'd take my class down to the Kingdome every year, usually when the Yankees were in town. We'd get in early for bp, sit in the left field bleachers right at the fence, and almost always come away with one or more bp home run balls. After the game, we'd hang around until the players came out, hoping to get an autograph or two.

ciao 😊

@TTrimble 5:14 PM

As always, you make a compelling case. Ah, the mysteries of life. LOL

No, I must have missed your vid. I'll go have a view now. TIA 😊

pg - 1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

oriordan 7:46 PM  

Agree with @Nancy and @Albatross shell comments. Have never heard of DEL TACO and was left wondering about DELTA CO.

I also sounded out the themer as PAIR OF DUCKS and was completely mystified about the theme until I came here for enlightenment ;-)

albatross shell 8:38 PM  

My favorite DELTACO comment was about the Mexican doo-wop group.
Thank you @TJS 929am.

What? 9:08 PM  

Here’s a simple explanation of the Monty Hall Problem where there are 3 doors, one hiding a Ferrari and the other 2 one goat each. After choosing one door, a second is opened revealing a goat. When you select to switch from your first choice rather than staying with it, you win the Ferrari 2/3 of the time even though with 2 doors left, the odds seem to be 50:50.
Consider in the beginning, there are more goats than cars. So most likely your first choice is a door hiding a goat. So most likely switching wins.

A 9:21 PM  

@Z, were you trying to prove your point about finding spelling boring with “Anagrams, OTOH, have hit their peek.” or was it wordplay that was too clever for me? Either way, you should definitely check out @bocamp’s 9:28am link to The Chaos. Not only does it shine a light on the absurdity of English spelling, you get a mention in the poem in line 144.

@bocamp, I liked envisioning 999 goats on The Price is Right. If I had 999 goats I wouldn’t have to worry about poison ivy in the back forty! And didn’t @Nancy mention The Lonely Goatherd was one of her favorite aerobic dance tunes? [Insert mental image here.] I do have a serious question: what is the reason that the odds can change for the unchosen door but they can’t change for the chosen door? And does it have anything do do with a cat WHO is both dead and alive? TIA

@jberg, please tell us more about the TWEETSTORM containing the mathematical proof about a steamboat at the Natick marina!

I bought green jello.

Anonymous 11:35 PM  

Liked the puzzle a lot, as well as clare's write-up. But does she really have to continue cramming a bunch of pretty boys with microphones (no instruments!) down our throats as the greatest thing since sliced bread? Age is no excuse for anyone over 20 with such poor musical taste. I'm not saying BTS sucks perse, but with all the options out there including the entire history of music, putting they guys on such a high pedestal is something I would expect from a 13 year old, not a grad student.

Z 11:37 PM  

@A - That was just peak typo. (okay, now it's a little bit of double meaning word play)

@Anon5:47 - To me that's more of a personal natick rather than a full natick. More to my point, both of these answers appear in puzzles on a regular basis. So even though the crossing got you today, don't get stuck by GAR the next time it appears. And maybe look at that Wikipedia page on the nine Muses. They show up in puzzles, too.

newbie 8:14 AM  

@Z 11:37 pm That's good advice. I'd probably remember GAR next time but I'm looking up the nine Muses right now. Thanks!😊

Joe Welling 9:05 AM  

I once saw Dr. John and Doc Watson in concert. They each did a solo set of their own music, and the final set of them kibbitzing in various styles of music was introduced, "And now, ladies and gentlemen, a paradox."

bocamp 9:45 AM  

@A 9:21 PM

The premise (assuming Monty's 3 door proposition) is that the probability of the desired prize being behind door #1 is 1:3, and the probability that the prize is behind either door #2 or door #3 is 2:3. When Monty opens either door #2 or door #3, revealing a goat, this doesn't change the 2:3 odds that the prize is behind the remaining door.

Let's try conceptualizing the problem in a totally different way. We get two very large boxes, placing door #1 in the first box and doors #2 & 3 in the second box. Iow, we visualize doors #2 & 3 as being in one package, the same as door #1 is in one package.

Put these two packages under a great big Xmas tree and given the choice of packages, which one will we choose? My guess is that most would opt for the second one (which includes two doors), i.e., doubling the chance that the desired prize is in that package.

Now the crux: having decided to go with the second package, you open either of the two doors and find a goat. You don't despair, knowing that the odds are still in favor of your prize being behind the remaining door.

The bottom line: no matter how many doors we use as an example, whether Monty's 3, vos Savant's 100, or my 1000 the all-knowing conductor of the experiment always opens all the doors, save two (guaranteeing the prize will be in one of the two). We should always opt to switch from our original choice, as the exaggerated reverse engineering experiments so clearly show.

Aside from Schrödinger's thought experiment, which was intended to make a point using "exaggeration" as a tool, our friendly martian term "grok" can genuinely be applied to Monty Hall's Problem. Either one groks it or doesn't. LOL

"One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber …" ~ Erwin Schrödinger

Marilyn vos Savant's story, The Time Everyone “Corrected” the World’s Smartest Woman by Zachary Crockett goes into great detail; scroll down to view the mathematical charts.

"When vos Savant politely responded to a reader’s inquiry on the Monty Hall Problem, a then-relatively-unknown probability puzzle, she never could’ve imagined what would unfold: though her answer was correct, she received over 10,000 letters, many from noted scholars and Ph.Ds, informing her that she was a hare-brained idiot.

What ensued for vos Savant was a nightmarish journey, rife with name-calling, gender-based assumptions, and academic persecution." ~ by Zachary Crockett

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

thefogman 10:25 AM  

I had a big Aha! moment when I figured out the clever gimmick. Only one nit to pick. Isn’t a VAPEPEN just another type of e-cig rather than an “alternative”?

spacecraft 11:34 AM  

I have two huge problems with this puzzle: 1) It contains a legitimate alternate solution at the E_G/NAR_O crossing; either C or K will work. 2) The cheap pun of a revealer was a gigantic letdown. I saw the "docs" on the way down and wondered how the reveal would play out. My reaction was "Oh no, THAT old chestnut?"

The rest of it was OK, but none of it scintillated. Bogey.

rondo 11:42 AM  

DELTA CO. Don't they make faucets? Oh, DEL TACO, according to their website their nearest location is more than 500 miles away. Pardon me for not knowing.

The corners will get you TADS. DATS true.

Yep. three PARADOX.

Burma Shave 12:09 PM  


To remain ALERT, does THE DEVIL RELAX?


leftcoaster 4:33 PM  

Relatively easy to fill it all in correctly, but didn’t get that the pairs of doctors are the theme’s PARADOX. Was looking for something more subtle or obscure.

So IOWA’s state seal shows a steamboat on the Mississippi. IOWA? Was thinking more downriver. Nothing else to think about here.

Except maybe the "double hockey sticks” spelling HELL.

Diana, LIW 6:07 PM  

Too many docs in the house - they might spoil the soup.

OK time finishing this, but if some of those answers are docs, well, I wonder where they got their degrees. Or maybe that's the PARADOX of being a doc.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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