Rhyming title character who plays the tuba in Cuba, in a Rudy Vallee song / MON 2-15-21 / Windsurfing locale NE of Honolulu

Monday, February 15, 2021

Constructor: Meconya Alford

Relative difficulty: Challenging (for second week in a row, the Monday puzzle is more like a Tuesday/Wednesday puzzle)

THEME: WHITE HOUSE DOGS (56A: What the starts of 21-, 26-, 40- and 50-Across) — first words of familiar phrases / names are all also the names of presidential pooches:

Theme answers:
  • BUDDY COP MOVIES (21A: "Rush Hour" and "21 Jump Street" [Clinton])
  • BARNEY FIFE (26A: TV deputy of Mayberry [Bush 43])
  • BO TREE (40A: The Buddha is often depicted meditating under it [Obama]
  • MAJOR SCALE (50A: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, e.g. [Biden]
Word of the Day: BO TREE (40A) —

The Bodhi Tree or Bodhi Fig Tree ("tree of awakening") -- also called the Bo Tree -- was a large and ancient sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosa) located in Bodh GayaBiharIndia.  Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher who became known as the Buddha, is said to have attained enlightenment or Bodhi circa 500 BCE under it. In religious iconography, the Bodhi Tree is recognizable by its heart-shaped leaves, which are usually prominently displayed. 

The proper term "Bodhi Tree" is also applied to existing sacred fig (Ficus religiosa) trees, also known as bodhi trees. The foremost example of an existing tree is the Mahabodhi Tree growing at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, which is often cited as a direct descendant of the original tree. This tree, planted around 250 BCE, is a frequent destination for pilgrims, being the most important of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

Other holy bodhi trees with great significance in the history of Buddhism are the Anandabodhi Tree at Jetavana in Sravasti in North India and the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree in AnuradhapuraSri Lanka. Both are also believed to have been propagated from the original Bodhi Tree. (wikipedia)

• • •

I will start by saying I really like this theme, and I'm especially impressed that the dogs all appear in chronological order, going through Presidents 42, 43, 44 ... skipping the *$%^ing monster at 45, whom you wouldn't trust to take care of a chia pet let alone an actual sentient creature ... and ending at 46. I feel a little bad for CHAMP, who should've at least been given a walk-on role as part of the fill, come on, have a heart. So, hurray theme. I do think there are some issues with theme execution, and I emphatically assert that this is not a Monday puzzle. The execution issues and the day-of-the-week issues are semi-related. I'll start with the difficulty issue—like last week, this puzzle was off the charts in terms of my normal Monday times. It is oversized, but even allowing for that, high 3's is a full minute slower than normal, and a full minute, when you typically take just under 3 minutes to finish, is a *ton* of time. While the puzzle felt very Mondayish in places, there is one place in particular where it felt closer to Saturday, and that problem area has *everything* to do with theme execution (i.e. what themers you use and where you place them). So the problem, for me, was YUBA (!?!?!?!), which all on its own is a total mystery, but crossing BO TREE (literally no idea) and KAILUA (rings a bell, but ???), yeah, YUBA was a nightmare. It was made more nightmarish by its actually not-at-all-helpful clue, 27D: Rhyming title character who plays the tuba in Cuba, in a Rudy Vallee song. "Rhyming title character" ... what? Rhyming with what? I assumed this meant it rhymed with itself, i.e. internally, so, having YU, I wrote in YUYU. I see, now, that the clue has "helpfully" included "tuba" and "Cuba" in the clue, but those did not At All register as rhymes for the actual answer when I read the clue. I was so stuck through that area: three answers that I've never heard of, all crossing, on a Monday. Insanity. 

The root of the problem is the theme answer placement. When you put BARNEY FIFE and BO TREE (again, ???) in their current locations, as a constructor you've put yourself in a position where you've got to deal with Y-B- as one of the Downs, and wow, good luck with that. If you're building a puzzle, you place your themers first, and I can guarantee you, Y-B- is (or should be) the Very First cross that you wrangle, because it's a mess. Virtually nothing follows the Y-B- letter pattern. Only word I can think of that fits there is YOBS? Is that a thing? Yes, YOB is British slang for a "loutish or uncultured person." But that's not really a Monday answer either. I don't really get why, faced with Y-B-, the constructor didn't move some things around to avoid that truly limiting scenario. I also don't know why the editor didn't suggest as much, given that you end up with such an un-Mondayish pile-up precisely at that point. If all the YUBA crosses were common, and the clue had been more clearly written, then OK, it's a bizarre anomaly in the grid, but no big deal. But as is, it's a [record needle scratch sound] on an otherwise really interesting puzzle. I'm not sure why this is 16 wide. I'm not sure why you wouldn't want to build your puzzle around a more famous BO, like DEREK or JACKSON. You want people to glide easily through your Monday, and to be able to finish with a clear sense that all the answers are correct, so they can appreciate your theme. YUBA / BO TREE / KAILUA cruelly un-Mondays this puzzle. I mean, a *Rudy Vallee* song!?!? I honestly don't even know who that is. Name is familiar, but ... hard shrug. Again, I think editors should've seen all these problems and advised accordingly. Still, all in all, this is promising work. The theme really is a good one.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. looks like Rudy Vallee was born "Vallรฉe," with the accent aigu on that first "e"; that's even how it is spelled on the record label in the video, above. Not sure where or how the accent got lost between the 1930s and today's clues ...

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:01 AM  

Unfair to use animals in your theme in order to win my favor!

Seriously though, how cute is that? WHITEHOUSEDOGS of recent presidents with only 2 exceptions, one* being conspicuous. Psychopaths don't get pets. True human feelings are difficult enough to grasp, let alone the unconditionality of doggie love (not to be confused with doggie style, which I hear can be very conditional.)

*guess who - or find the odd man out

Oh - and this is yet another debut!! Helluva job, Ms. Alford - congrats!

BTW, did someone like, oh I don't know, @Z have an explanation for why there seem to be so many debuts lately? Just curious, because I like seeing them.

Whatevs. Adorable Mondee with some good fill. Some run-of-the-mill stuff, but nothing gaggy. (high praise these days)

RHUBARBPIE reminds me of my street urchin days when I would forage from the various flora in the neighborhood: apples, pears, raspberries, mulberries, currants, and....RHUBARB. Ate it freshly plucked from the ground and raw. Ever eat rhubarb with no sweetener? More than once? More than one bite? I did and often. What a weird kid. (Surprise!)

Beware of CARE FOES, the natural enemy of bears - mostly the CARE kind.

C'mon. Did anybody really need the rhyme hints in the clue for YUBA?


***Apology Alert***

Sorry for my crank yesterday. Guess I should have waited more than a few minutes after learning of the "verdict" before doing the puzzle and write up. Last I heard they were going to vote on whether to have witnesses and the wife did not inform me (her job) of anything after that...until I had to go ahead and ask and then...well, you know.
Again, apologies.

Joaquin 12:03 AM  

As a lover of all dogs, I was happy to see the WHITE HOUSE DOGS featured in this puzzle. And, somehow I have lived a lot of years and never encountered the word BUSK before, so I learned something, too.

Side note: Only one US president in the last century has not had a dog in the White House. Tells me all I need to know about him.

And finally … tell your dog I said “hi”.

Richard Stanford 12:28 AM  

Thank you. That trio took me something like 25% of the total solve time to figure out. That may be an exaggeration but sure doesn’t feel like one.

manitou 12:42 AM  

Bo tree seems like common knowledge to me — not Monday-level, but certainly not obscure.

Yuba is the name of a city, county, and river in California. The river is beautiful (I go there every summer) and is visited by a half million people annually. Again, not Monday-level, but still legit. On Google, "Kailua Beach" gets 8 million hits and "Yuba River" gets 10 million. The clue on Yuba made it more than obvious that the answer would be -UBA.

It sure seemed worth mentioning that somehow Eisenhower's dog crashed the pooch party (non-chronologically).

Z 12:47 AM  

It’s a Dog’s life.

@bocamp late yesterday - I have no trouble getting to them on my iPad. Here’s the link.

chefwen 1:07 AM  

Any puzzle dog or kitty, or any animal related makes me happy, and this one brought a big smile to my face. Wish HIM and HER could have found a home here. Fun Monday puzzle after yesterday’s slog-a-thong.

Cliff 1:20 AM  

Yes, last Monday's puzzle played Wednesday hard for me. But today's played with hardly a glitch, and I finished in way under my Monday average (which is still quite north of Rex's "slow" time!!). Tuba? Cuba? Had the Y, so I just threw in Yuba, and it worked out.

Frantic Sloth 1:30 AM  

Well it appears history or, you know, knowledge is not my forte. Why I saw "Bush 43" and BARNEY and thought of GHW Bush and not Shrub is ridiculous. And so am I.

I had some of the same problems as Rex, though I did catch on to the YUBA rhyme right away.
In fact, one ๐Ÿง (brain) in my difficulty rating seems low - should probably go with ๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง  or at least ๐Ÿง .5 to make @JD happy.

jae 1:51 AM  

Tough, @Rex pretty much covered it. Other than that smooth and charming. Jeff gave it POW. An excellent debut, liked it a bunch.

Joe Dipinto 1:57 AM  

Rudy Vallรฉe played John D. Hackensacker III in the screwball classic "The Palm Beach Story".

Whoosey Whatsis 2:45 AM  

As one who was in high school in the "muscle car era" I think of the GTO, Chevelle SS, Dodge Chargers (and other Hemis). Camaros were considered "pony cars" (named for the Mustang) along with the Taurus and Barracuda. But apparently, that line has blurred. Just showing my age, I guess. (And while we're at it, get off my lawn! - shakes fist feebly.)

"Bo Tree," huh? New one on me. I always heard it called the bodhi tree. I guess I learn something new every day...

bocamp 3:04 AM  

Thx, @Meconya for the start to another good week of NYT x-words. :)

Difficult solve; 2x Mon. avg.

Not in the same universe as this one, but what a way to get the juices flowing. Felt somewhat fortunate to not dnf at the "Buddha" tree, but what else would rhyme perfectly with Cuba and Tuba but Yuba. And, being a dog lover, how could I disremember "Bo"?

Who Let The "Dogs" Out ~ Baha Men ๐Ÿถ

On An Evening In "Roma" ~ Dean Martin

@Z 12:47 AM

Ah, the mysteries of cyberspace; thx Z! ๐Ÿ‘

yd pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all ๐Ÿ•Š

Lewis 6:27 AM  

Let us not forget Trump's dog OMIT.

Anonymous 6:29 AM  

And no GRAHAMCRACKER for Trump?

ncmathsadist 6:36 AM  

Here is a better clue for YUBA:


I have actually heard of that.

Rug Crazy 6:45 AM  

YUBA / BO TREE / KAILUA, along with BUSK slowed me down. Finished, but had to check my answers

amyyanni 6:55 AM  

Bo Peep instead of Bo Tree.
Agreed, miss Champ in this. Lots of fun.
My folks had a big collection of 78 rpms and there was a Rudy Vallee in the mix. In his heyday, he sang into a megaphone.

GILL I. 6:57 AM  

Bit of trivia:
Trump was the first president in 100 years not to have a dog. The last president not to have a dog was William McKinley....and he died of gangrene. Hmmmmm - food for thought.
What a fun puzzle. I especially liked HOG and the crossing of GRUB. Pork carnitas anyone? Didn't know BUSK and the last time I windsurfed was in Cabo. I should've gone to KAILUA...the wind might've been better.
Well, who doesn't love a DOG puzzle? And like @Frantic, Meconya has won my favor!....Except...you can leave out RHUBARB. PIE. Gadzooks that stuff is as bad as okra.
And a partrige in a PEAR TREE.

Andy Walleck 6:59 AM  

So much hatred in this post Rex. Not that I expected anything else when I visited your page. IT is time to move on people.

Hungry Mother 7:07 AM  

Natick on Monday? Wow, trivia galore.

Lewis 7:09 AM  

And now, a quick curated complement to the puzzle’s theme. IKE had a parakeet in the White House as well as a Weimaraner named Heidi. Clinton also had a cat named Socks. Obama’s BO, a Portuguese Water Dog, was a gift from Ted Kennedy, and was later joined by Sunny, a female.

I should add that there was a perfect easter egg reveal in the last answer – a backward PETS – and I did like the theme echo with stereotypical dog name SPOT in 32D.

A most lovely debut, Meconya, that’s perfectly pitched for beginning solvers. I, not new to crosswords, challenged myself to figure out what the theme answers had in common before I got to the reveal – and you got me, I was totally stumped. Anytime a constructor bamboozles me like that, I become a fan. Thank you for this, and I eagerly await to see more from you!

OffTheGrid 7:11 AM  

Clue reading beats speed guessing every time. The clue gives you Cuba, Tuba. You have the Y from BARNEYFIFE. What the hell else could it be? I didn't know BOTREE but it had to be __TREE and the BO was provided by the YUBA B and the easy cross, FRO. The K of 26D/44A was my last letter. I figured K was a strong contender for a Hawaiian word that didn't already have one. Then, Oh, BUSK. I knew of busker so that made sense. This was a superb Monday.

JJK 7:16 AM  

Sorry, Rex, YUBA should have been an easy guess even if you didn’t know it. I think Rex clearly doesn’t read the clues carefully in his drive to finish the puzzle at super-human speed. (I can’t even enter the letters that fast on my ipad.) and maybe BOTREE was a bit Tuesday-ish, but it’s certainly familiar. And don’t we all know perfectly well who Rudy Vallee is? Or is it another sign of age that his name is utterly familiar to me?

I liked the puzzle a lot, a lovely little Monday with dogs in it.

ChuckD 7:25 AM  

This seemed like a trivia fest but inline with @Z’s hypothesis - it was in my wheelhouse so it was clean enough. The theme is cute - hands up for being down with anything dog related. I love me some Don Knotts but BARNEY FIFE could be an outlier for younger solvers.

Liked the long downs RHUBARB PIE and IN A BAD SPOT. Not sure how Rex had a problem with YUBA - the clue basically gives it to you. I had more trouble with the RAJ cross having never watched the show.

In general the Camaro was not a muscle car - the Chevelle and Nova SS would be Chevy’s entries in that category so the clue is a little clunky. Later they did make the ZL-1 and Yenko which were considered muscle cars but in limited production.

Lots of names and nouns but the dogs saved it.

pabloinnh 7:35 AM  

I have a friend who says "there's nothing so annoying as an obvious truth", which is what I thought of while reading OFL's struggles with YUBA. I mean, a word that starts with YU and rhymes with TUBA and CUBA? What could it be? Come on, man.

One or two later-week answers here and that's OK with me. I have not done any BUSKing but as an occasional pub performer these folks (buskers) have my sympathies. If you think it's hard to get people to listen to you in a bar, try it on a street corner.

More fond memories of my '68 CAMARO. Wonder what it would be worth today?

Congrats on a fine debut, MA. Which reminds me, MA is about to get walloped by a winter storm, and so is NH, so time to get ready for that.

The Rhino 7:44 AM  

So I've been doing the NYT puzzle for about a decade or so and I've always allowed myself one lookup per puzzle in case the constructor/editor puts some weird shit in the puzzle that no one should be expected to know.

And I've gotten pretty good at them, going frequently on 3-4 week streaks.

So I had a streak end yesterday (had USo instead of USN and couldn't find the mistake) and I thought today it is time to finally eliminate my cheat.

Anyway... on a Monday, first puzzle out of the gate, I was hit by YUBA/BOTREE/KAILUA - and for some reason eNNERVE looked perfectly reasonable.

Moral of the story: Cheaters prosper and I got a big ol' DNF on a Monday.

Barbara S. 7:52 AM  

Hey, @ Roo Monster, I’m taking RHUBARB PIE as a tribute answer to us, despite the fishy spelling of your name. Very decent of the NYTXW!

But that’s where the good news ends for me. Timewise, I set a new Personal Worst. I had two problems with this puzzle: first, the center section with BARNEY FIFE, TURN, BO TREE, YUBA, FRO and INT (hi, @Rex). I never watched “The Andy Griffith Show,” thought Zig and Zag meant “veer,” had no idea of BO TREE or the Obama dog’s name, guessed right at YUBA, foolishly thought “bob” instead of FRO, and didn’t know anything about U.S. tax forms since I don’t use them. That area was a complete dog’s breakfast until I sorted it out. And even then there was a problem because I’d overlooked a typo, which took a small eon to find: SOLe and DeER. So, yes, I had SOLe crossing SOLE and “not the passive sort” being DEER, both of which are so many kinds of dumb I don’t even want to think about it. In short, there was nothing wrong with the puzzle but with this particular solver – yeesh.

Go HOG-wild reminds me of a favorite expression of my sister’s for being keen on something but not quite at the intensity of HOG-wildness: piglet-wild.

Today’s passage is from SUSAN B. ANTHONY, born Feb. 15, 1820

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

kitshef 8:06 AM  

Good news! Words like YUBA, KAILUA, and BO TREE are now fair Monday fill.

Plus we get not one but two clues that may as well read “wait for the crosses” – those for CAMARO and MAJOR SCALE.

This should have run on a Tuesday, maybe a Wednesday, but you know, I'm OK with a little extra challenge on a Monday.

oceanjeremy 8:07 AM  

Please allow me to gripe about the same YUBA / KAILUA / BO TREE cross that seems to have tripped up most solvers. Not Monday material.

I was slowed down further (slightly) by LEON Spinks, right there below KAILUA, because I'm not a sports guy — and never found boxing enjoyable. At least LEON is a very, very inferable name for a boxer in the 70s; not at all out of place for a Monday.

I have to protest @manitou's contention that BO TREE is common knowledge. I mentioned last week that I've been a practicing Buddhist for seven years and I'll bring it up again now. I have an entire bookshelf dedicated to Buddhism, with some reference texts that have been out of print for decades and cost upwards of $150 to procure. I devote a not insignificant amount of my time to studying Buddhism, both from a secular/historical perspective and from a devotion/practice perspective. Sakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment while meditating for 49 days under a BOdhi TREE. I even know its binomial nomenclature, "Ficus religiosa," but have never once heard it called a BO TREE.

Notable also that BO TREE has only appeared one other time in the Will Shortz Era, and that was a Saturday puzzle (in 1994).

Pre-Shortz, it appeared six times — and never on a Monday. I wouldn't call it "common knowledge."

Also notable: KAILUA has never appeared in the NYTXW before today.

And YUBA has appeared only once before today, on a Sunday in freaking 1975 (clued "Tuba player of song").

I rest my case.

mathgent 8:09 AM  

One of the biggest changes in our culture during my lifetime (86 years) is the elevation of the status of the dog. We got a lot of Christmas cards last year from families where dogs got equal billing with children. We used to consider dogs inferior beings.

I was reminded of that change by a comment Nancy made recently. She quoted a line from Gore Vidal's The Best Man. Something like "Politicians cover everything with God, like ketchup." My favorite line from the movie was used to describe a despicable senator. "He has all the qualities of a dog except loyalty." That's not funny any more.

Megafrim 8:17 AM  

(posted by a former student of Yuba College in Northern California!): Yikes! I actually thought I was going to lose my 100+ streak over a freaking MONDAY puzzle! For some reason I committed early on to "ennerve" instead of "unnerve". Took a while to root that problem out. As Joe Dipinto alluded to above, Rudy Vallee was delightful in Preston Sturges's "Palm Beach Story". Everyone should watch all of Sturges's films. Right now. In real life Vallee had a reputation for a massive ego, and he successfully lobbied to have his Hollywood neighborhood change the name of the street he lived on to Rue De Vallee!

kitshef 8:37 AM  

hand up in support of @oceanjeremy 8:07 - bodhi tree is what I have heard - never bo tree.

RooMonster 8:43 AM  

Hey All !
@Barbara S
Har. Not changing my spelling to RHU! :-) But neat shout-out to us! ROOBARB PIE. Har again.

Agree puz was A BIT crunchy for a Monday. Also agree that YUBA was a gimmie with the clue. If the clue didn't contain tuba and Cuba, Rex's YUYU would've gained integrity, but, dang, Rex.

I've always considered the CAMARO a Sports car. Maybe it didn't start off that way, but it morphed into one pretty quick. Mustangs, also. Both started with v6's and V8's, so make of that what you will. They were definitely sporty looking, sharing primarily (not exactly, but close) shapes with the Chevelles, Firebirds, Cutlasses, et. al. of that era.

Anyway, saw the 16 wide grid right off, even before confirming it with the 14 as the last square in the first row. Brain still ticking! Too bad Meconya couldn't sneak in Bush 1's dog somehow, thereby adding another themer, and moving the BO(TREE) or BO(something) elsewhere, and getting back to a 15 wide grid. Not that there's anything wrong with the puz as is, but more theme the better!

Still enjoyed puz. Hope y'all had a productive Valentines Day yesterday. *Cue the 'bow-chick-a-bow-bow" music* :-P

Three F's

Brian 8:44 AM  

Maybe it is more difficult for a Monday because it is a Holiday — President’s (Dogs) Day.

TJS 9:03 AM  

Haven't read anyone but Rex today, but his complaints are written solely from the speed-solvers' perspective. The fact that someone would have to actually stop and think about an answer on a Monday is just unthinkable to him and going from a 3 minute to 4 minute solve is a major negative. Well, as we all say often, "It's his blog, so..."

How do you cast any blame on a constructor for what day of the week a puzzle is run, unless it's some kind of special dedication ?

For my part, I am happy to see a Monday that actually requires a challenge
of any sort. Toughest part was the BO:RUDY:SURFING area, of course, but YUBA off the YU and the clue was a snap, and the KAILU were all common fill, so no prob if your not frantic over your Monday time exploding. Oh Dear !

albatross shell 9:03 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
TJS 9:06 AM  

Forgot to mention that there was a guy at Trumps inauguration that held up a sign : "He doesn't even have a dog " . We should have been forewarned.

Z 9:08 AM  

@oceanjeremy - I predict most of the Republican senators still vote to acquit.

@Barbara S - From now on it shall be called a RรœBARB PIE.

@Gill I - Is this the first time in the history of writing that gangrene Hmmmmmm. food... appeared.

Re: YUBA - Yes, the clue is obvious in hindsight, but look at Rex’s description of his error. We have all been there with a clue, we have all done the D’Oh slap. [T]hose did not At All register as rhymes for the actual answer when I read the clue. Been there. Done that.

Re: Muscle Cars - Remember that clues do not have to be always true. Wikipedia cites this 2009 article when it describes CAMAROS as classified as a pony car and some versions also as a muscle car. Even the Mustang, the original Pony, has had Muscle Car variants from nearly the beginning.

@pabloinnh - If you get NBCSN, they have a show called Mecum Auctions which is nothing but classic cars at auction. Their website has a ‘68 CAMARO listed as worth $90-120K.

albatross shell 9:15 AM  

RHUBARB PIE is the best but you should be careful chewing on raw stalks. yucky anytime and poisonous late in the summer even cooked. I freeze the stuff to have pies all year long. I am of the better w/o strawberries crowd. That's how good it is.

Frantic Sloth 9:18 AM  

@GILL 657am From your lips to God's ears. Then again, I wouldn't wish that on gangrene.

Once again, thanks to @Lewis 709am for sharing his gift of "grid finds" which usually has me saying "how does he do that?!"

@Barbara S 752am I'm mugging your sister and nabbing "piglet wild" for myself. Just so's ya know.
Another good quote - this time from SBA. And bicycles - kicking that side-saddle nonsense to the curb ever since.

@Brian 844am reminded me of another reason why this puzzle might have run today - President's Day! Duh. If so, I can "forgive" a little crunch.

@albie 993am I'm also gonna guess that's a "no" from @Nancy on whether YUBA rhymes with tuba.

Oh, please please may we have another day of commentariat car wars? Pretty please, with a ragtop on top? ๐Ÿ˜‰

TJS 9:26 AM  

I think my '78 Camaro speedometer went to 140 mph. Don't ask me why. It was a 6. Now the Dodge Ramcharger, that was a muscle car. You could generate G-Force off the line with that thing.

albatross shell 9:27 AM  

We just went through BUSKing with @Z's spoons lady in N.C. didn't we?

We await @Nancy's opinion on whether Tuba really rhymes with Cuba, and which YUBA rhymes with. Prediction: No and it made depend on where you live in America.

If you do not know Rudy Vallee from movies or cartoons you live In an alternative universe or you are under 60. Ha.

What I don't get is Rex complained about YUBA, reread the clue, noticed the rhyme part, and then still complained about it.

DrBB 9:29 AM  

Wait, the clue gave you TUBA and CUBA and you thought the answer rhymed with something other than -UBA? You're thinking too hard. I liked the theme, not least for the bonus presidential pup named extra-thematically at 66D.

SouthsideJohnny 9:30 AM  

Agree with those who also feel that this one could have been run on a Tuesday or even a Wednesday. Probably because I don’t know any of the dogs’ names so I had to keep working the crosses. I got stuck in the same traffic jam behind the four car pileup (BUSK / KAILUA / YUBA / BO TREE ). It took a while to bob and weave my way through that mess as well.

I’ll also suggest that COSY is the type of nonsensical fabrication that the NYT editorZ is unfortunately so smitten with - and it is clearly the obvious choice as today’s “made up word of the day”.

EdFromHackensack 9:32 AM  

at first I said to myself Obama had a dog named BOT?

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

@pabloinnh Totally agree with your Yuba analysis. Yes it may have been an obscure clue, but the editor/constructor made sure there were enough hints to figure it out.

Nancy 9:43 AM  

Yes, other people noticed the absence of one notably dogless president. Thought for the day: Trump's dogless life is the best thing that ever happened to dogs. Wish the human species had been so lucky.

Oh, yes, the puzzle. I saw the theme immediately, though I must say I never heard of a BO TREE. I really wanted BONSAI there, but it didn't work.

Thanks, Meconya, for letting me know that 27D rhymed with tuba and Cuba. There's no other way I ever would have gotten YUBA. I also didn't know the word BUSK and I didn't know KAILUA either. The "K" cross was a smart guess. But did you really have to clue RAJ with some Micky Mouse TV program clue?

What I would have liked for "Play music in the subway perhaps" was not BUSK, but rather a choice of answers that didn't fit: ANNOY. HARASS. BEDEVIL. Or maybe HOUND -- which would have fit today's theme nicely. (What I find myself wanting to say to the people who subject me to this captive audience cacophony cannot be printed on a family blog.)

Another tough Monday. I liked the theme but, once again, could have happily skipped some of the trivia in the fill.

pabloinnh 9:44 AM  

@Z-Alas, I sold my Camaro in 1970 for about $2K. We decided to keep my wife's car, which was a 404 Peugeot station wagon. Live and learn.

Lewis 9:45 AM  

My favorite clues from last week
(in order of appearance):

1. "Scenter" of the face (4)
2. Question one might ask when looking at a banana taped to the wall (2)(2)(3)
3. It's usually around 9/10 of a pound (4)
4. Holiday production? (5)(5)
5. A fine mesh this is! (5)


Anonymous 9:52 AM  

A tea cosy is definitely not a made-up thing.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

nothing like a monday with an archaic reference to 1920's bballers and a song from 1931. and i could have sworn socks was the clinton pet. don't remember buddy at all

Nancy 9:53 AM  

My comment hasn't been posted yet, but I see that some of you are asking if YUBA rhymes with either Cuba or tuba, and if so, which one? Or does it rhyme with both?

The answer: It rhymes with Cuba but not with tuba. However, for the purposes of cluing the has-anyone-ever-heard-of-this-word? YUBA -- either Cuba or tuba would have served the purpose of enabling the solver to solve.

Michelle Turner 10:14 AM  

I’m with albatross shell - Rhubarb pie should not be soft peddled with strawberries.

Frantic Sloth 10:28 AM  

@Z 908am Was that Camaro ever driven?? Looks like one of those collectible action figures that's never been out of the box. Holy yikes!

@albie 915am Poisonous?! Well, that might explain a lot.

@EdFromHackensack 932am Me, too. ๐Ÿ™„ Why?

@Nancy 943am Your thought for the day is SPOT on! (pun intended)

@Anon 952am I think @SouthsideJohnny was referring to the spelling of COSY. I also prefer a Z , but recognise the alternate. ๐Ÿ˜‰

burtonkd 10:32 AM  

@Nancy - thanks for the thought of anyone lying under a BONSAI

@Barbara S - love the quotes: Nice to know I have so much in common with women from 1896, as that aptly describes my love of bicycles

kitshef 10:40 AM  

Of course, in Cuba, "Cuba" is pronounced "koo-ba", rather than "kyoo-bah", so there it would rhyme with tuba.

Actual lyrics from "When YUBA Plays the Rhumba on the Tuba:
"Why, all Havana loves the sunny-lookin' boob-a
He plays the rhumba round the tuba down in Cuba
I can't believe it but they tell us
Every peanut vendor's jealous
Of his oompah-oompah-oompah
They prefer it to the boopa-doopa-doopa
They love the rhumba round the tuba down in Cuba
They love his oompah-oompah-oompah-oompah-oomp-oomp-oomp"

Remember this next time someone criticizes modern songwriting.

sixtyni yogini 10:41 AM  

Cute. Loved it.
Very fast, easy, not boring, and enjoyable.
Bodhi tree, Yuba - not a problem.
๐Ÿ˜‚ But even slightly specialized sports stuff - big problem. ๐Ÿ˜‚
Gotta love the crosswords- learn something every day.

Sir Hillary 10:45 AM  

Very nice theme and, as Rex notes, high marks for the chronological order.

Are they BUDDYCOPMOVIES or copbuddyMOVIES? I probably would have gone with the latter, but I assume that puts me in the minority.

The YUBA/KAILUA cross is inferable given all the information in the YUBA, but what a tortured path to get there. YoBs is awesome Brit-slang for loutish types -- would have preferred that (of course, the S would have to be dealt with).

I found the IKE/Heidi thing to be a distraction -- somehow it seems to lessen the impact of the theme. Maybe go with ROlo and STlo down there.

Sir Hillary 10:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim in Canada 10:46 AM  

For all of Rex's complaining, I thought YUBA was an absolute gimme once you got the Y from BARNEY FIFE. That's all I had and even though I had never heard of the song nor the singer, confidently filled in YUBA and kept going. BO TREE was a complete mystery as well, but I had the B from YUBA and the O from the FRO gimme and after I changed PLUM to PEAR for the orchard tree, I was fine.
Nice to see PEAR cross TREE and also SPOT cross DOGS.
BUSK was a gimme and so my Hawai'ian never-heard-of-it looked like KAIL-A and I briefly wrote in E before realizing that ENNERVE wasn't a thing so that fell, too.
Long story longer, I thought this was an easier-than-usual Monday in that I was faster than my usual time and almost completely missed the theme since I blew through it only using the down clues until I got to IN A BAD SPOT which could've been any number of things with no letters crossing yet. I switched to across-only at that point and couldn't for the life of me figure out why Obama was in the Buddha clue (I thought he was a secret Muslim?) then Biden showed up in MAJOR SCALE and I realized it was a theme of some kind.
I hope we see a LOT more Mondays like this one and last week's. I don't usually look forward to Monday puzzles much, but that could easily change if this quality keeps up.

GILL I. 10:47 AM  

Well, if you grew up with a JFK accent, you would've pronounced it CUE-BER. Cue- bah rhymes with You -bah. If you're Cuban you'd pronounced it Coo-bah. So...take your pick.

Carola 10:48 AM  

I found the theme very cute and the grid fun to fill in - with the exception of the now notorious Nexus of Doom (woe betide the first-time Monday solver encountering that BAD SPOT: I think it could result in "These are too hard for me."). Favorite entry: RHUBARB PIE (straight-up or custard, just no adulteration with strawberries).

@Gill I 6:57 - I'm wondering if RHUBARB is one of those foods one needs to be weaned on, in order to develop a taste for it. I've found it can be a tough sell to those encountering it in later years.

@Barbara S 7:52 - I love the bicycle quote!

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Not the first to say so, I expect, but I can not stop: The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) is long time on record that he hates dogs. Not that he'd find one inconvenient in the WH or some other excuse. I'll even bet (too lazy or care enough to confirm) that he's never had any kind of pet, even goldfish. Why waste time taking care of some other form of life? I'll pile on that steaming lump of whatever.

TTrimble 10:54 AM  

Joining those who gawp in amazement that Rex goes on and on and on about his trouble with YUBA, which was given some pretty heavy-handed Monday cluing. (Yes, YOBS might've been possible. I've heard that, and "yobbos", from British/Australian slang, but it would have to be for another day of the week.)

(And I hate to say it, but I've heard both BO TREE and BOdhi TREE.)

On the other hand, I agree with Rex that KAILUA isn't really a Monday word. Yesterday I was watching some tournament-level Scrabble on YouTube and someone played either "eNNERVE" or "iNNERVE" -- can't remember which and I'm not going to bother checking -- and so, unduly influenced by that, I fell into the same trap as @Megafrim just because I did not know the Naticky KAILUA.

Of course you know that Trump would never be a dog guy. Nor, I would bet my last dollar, has he ever changed a diaper. (I think he's actually incapable of love, for a fellow human or any other sentient creature. I'm not sure he loves even himself. My gut sense is that he's fundamentally miserable inside his own skin, and needs all these vain props. Sad, and dangerous for the rest of us.)

But if he did have a dog, he would name it "Baron". I know this. (Any of the rest of you wonder how that kid named Barron is going to turn out?)

I don't think I've had RHUBARB PIE. I know many people love it, but I'm just not a PIE guy, and it's always sounded weird to me.

*** A moment of random association ***

There's a scene from the movie Kinsey, about Alfred Kinsey the sexologist (played by Liam Neeson). He was a professor at Indiana University, which is surrounded I guess by miles of farmland in every direction. In the scene, his wife (played by Laura Linney) invites a graduate student who stops by inside their home, where she has a freshly baked pie in the kitchen, and the graduate student (Peter Sarsgaard) takes in the aroma and asks with a smile, RHUBARB?

It's a completely isolated moment, never developed past that point. It might as well been left out entirely, without any break in continuity. My guess is that the writers included it to suggest the sort of homey backdrop where his graduate students are basically these good cornfed kids from the heartland, and his wife is a good 1950's wife who maintains a clean household and bakes pies, but their life work is all about sex sex sex sex sex. The movie is full of that kind of thing, e.g., where a young woman in a frumpy dress and nerd-u-lon glasses, one of hundreds of such, is being interviewed about, oh I don't know, how she likes doing it doggie style.

It's not a bad movie, though.

bigsteve46 10:56 AM  

I bow to no man (or woman) in my total contempt for the orange-haired turd who just (kicking & screaming) departed the White House - but the one thing I did like was that he didn't have a dog. I don't particularly like dogs, and, I suspect some of those presidents going back to McKinley didn't much like then either. Or, as best describes my position, didn't care much one way or the other - but made sure, as a inexpensive bit of political insurance, to rush out and get one anyway. ( Re: The Last Hurrah, describing one aspect of the hopelessly shallow candidate who eventually knocks off the old-time Boston mayor, and facing a major televised interview: "The only element McCluskey lacks is an equally telegenic dog, so the McCluskey campaign rents an Irish setter for the duration.")

Maybe the only thing, Trump didn't pander to - maybe he just forgot, what with a tsunami of other more compelling pandering to attend to.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

@Whoosey Whatsis:

Did you notice that the winner of yesterday's Daytona 500 was a **Mustang**!!!!! Real Grand National cars were Galaxys, Impalas, Chargers, and Bonnevilles. Full size machines, not these dinky does that ran in lesser tours. Next, they'll allow 70s Yugos to race.

Birchbark 11:01 AM  

YUBA dub'ya do (crossing "Bush 43," after all).

@Gill I.(6:57) -- Some context on McKinley. He was shot by an anarchist named Leon Czolgosz (note Saturday potential) while shaking peoples' hands at the Pan-American Expo in Buffalo in 1901. The surgeons couldn't find the bullet but felt it safe to leave it in (ironically, an x-ray machine was on display at the Expo, but they thought it unwise to try). McKinley first showed good signs of recovery, but then gangrene set in, and he died two weeks later. See Scott Miller, "The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century" (2011).

Crimson Devil 11:05 AM  

Ditto. BO, and K of BUSK & KAILUA perplexed.

GILL I. 11:08 AM  

@Carola 10:48....You're probably right. The first and only time I had RHUBARB PIE was in Iowa - made by my brother's aunt-in law. It tasted way too tarty (with apologies to our prostitute friends) and it was so sweet I thought my lips would be permanently puckered and sealed. Maybe that would've been good?

Doug Garr 11:19 AM  

Got forever stuck just where Rex did. Just blanked on YUBA because it looked so easy.

KnittyContessa 11:24 AM  

I have to agree with the YUBA/KAILUA/BOTREE gripe. I never heard of YUBA or BO TREE and even though I lived in Honolulu I had a hard time with KAILUA. I think of KAILUA pig before the surfing locale.

Overall a fun solve.

Masked and Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Harder than snot for a MonPuz. Like. Bring it, Shortzmeister. Who says them older MonPuzs were harder, huh?

@RP: A few rebuttal-like thingies:

1. Trump kinda was a dog of a president. Sooo … sorta like an unacquittable self-contained instance. QED.

2. Gotta run this puz today -- it's President's Day (see runtpuz, for another such puztheme fix).

3. Tuba … Cuba … YU__ (as rhymin words). Not too deep, if U ain't frantically speed-solvin, tryin to gulp the whole rodeo down in under 3 minutes.

3.5. Day-um, @RP -- M&A takes that long to put down the puz, put down the crayon, chomp on a cinnamon roll, maybe chomp one more time, sip some coffee, wipe off my paws, pick up the puz, find where the crayon rolled off to, and recall where I was before I was so delightfully interrupted.

4. yep. Didn't know BOTREE. Also didn't know this RAJ dude or what a KAILUA/BUSK is. Learned stuff and still finished the puz, without turnin over any furniture. Some extra nanoseconds were sacrificed, in the process … but, hey -- they had m&e sold, once the puztheme was clearly The Doggies. And I got to stall longer on takin out the garbage until it warmed up out there to "slightly colder than snot".

5. Rudy Vallee is an oldie but gimme. Been in the puz several times before. Includin an occurrence of Patrick Berry Immunity Usage. He was the hands-down most popular RUDY clue subject , until the funny lawyer dude with the hair dye leaks turned up.
YUYU?!?!?? har

6. Better off just solvequestin this puz, and likin it. The Chenmeister gave it Puz O the Week award. It's all not-so-POW, from here on out.

staff weeject pick: RAJ. Better clue: {Tipped jar??}.
fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Rhyming title character who plays the TUBA in CUBA, in a Rudy Vallee song} = YUBA. U do need that "Y" in place first, I'd grant.

Thanx for the dog fight, Meconya Alford darlin. And congratz on yer primo P-Day Dey-but. Y'all and yer slug of U's are welcome here, anyday.

Masked & Anonymo9Us.


pabloinnh 11:26 AM  


Your musings on a possible name for Trump's dog reminded me that I just read that if Elvis had had a son instead of Lisa Marie, his name would have been "John Baron".

Things that make you go hmmmmmm..., as Arsenio Hall used to say.

Nancy 11:32 AM  

@Lewis (6:27) -- OMIT: Funny!!

@oceanjeremy (8:07) -- I think you've richly earned the right to be our blog expert on all things Buddhist, including trees.

@kitshef (10:40) -- That certainly is one of the most dreadful song lyrics I've ever seen.

@burtonkd (10:32) -- I knew you were TEASing me, but I didn't know why. So I looked up BONSAI. Had no idea it was a miniature tree. Oops.

@Barbara S (7:52) -- Love the S.B.A quote -- though I feel a bit left out. Can a woman who doesn't ride a bicycle be considered truly liberated? Can she be liberated by, say, tennis? :)

Apropos of feminists and bicycles: The first thing I thought of when I saw the quote was another feminist icon, Gloria Steinem. Her famous "bicycle" quote: "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." (There were many men in Gloria's life, so I guess it was said mostly for comedic effect.)

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

The obsession many of you have with the 45th President reads like a sickness. Get over him people.

jberg 11:35 AM  

@Rex, you'll never find enlightenment -- but maybe that's not your aim in life. Anyway, BO TREE is an example of how something can be too much in your wheelhouse. If you know it's a BOdhi tree, the answer becomes harder. The same is true for CAMRO and muscle car.

I felt like the clue for YUBA was elbowing me in the ribs and muttering "get the hint?" sotto voce; but as @Z points out, Rex followed his own path there, and had a credible reason for it.

More wheelhouse stuff: I have a ROKU TV; when we got it, we didn't have cable, my wife had just fallen down a flight of stairs and was going to be immobilized with a neck brace on for a couple of months while her C2 vertebra repaired itself, and we had to find something to keep her from dying of boredom. Roku lets your TV get Internet signals, but does not make it smart. We don't have a smart TV, but my impression is they come with keyboards and can be programmed to do various things.

I'm a little bothered (with Disney, not the puzzle) that ELSA was the Queen of Arendelle -- seems too close to plagiarizing Anne of Green Gables. But maybe they wanted to. MERV Griffin Enterprises? Huh. My first factory job was for Griffin-Toohey foods, canning cherries. My job was to pick up the crates of rotten cherries that had been sorted out, step carefully around and over the conveyor belts, and dump them into a dumptruck that would later take them to a pig farm. It brought back memories, but I can see that company would not be crossworthy.

I share the feeling that IKE and Heidi are a distraction; OTOH, I liked seeing the fruit of the ACAI palm right under the fig tree.

LBJ had a dog named YUKI (YUBA's cousin); but what was the name of that hound he picked up by the ears?

Unknown 11:36 AM  

One of the best Mondays ever.
And so telling that Trump did not own a dog - - - so this puzzle was perfect for the crazy political times we live in!
And to whoever warned people not to eat raw rhubarb - good advice, but I honestly have never heard of anyone foolish to do that. A rhubarb pie, on the other hand, is one of the best creations out there.

Whatsername 11:51 AM  

Greetings from the frozen Midwest. Two below and blowing snow. I PLAN ON staying COSY in front of the fire, but I have to say a DAY OFF on the ISLA of OAHU is sounding pretty good right now.

Well I love DOGS so I loved this. Presidential pooches. And the most impressive thing of all, they’re listed in order! I got the theme quickly and breezed through it, thinking the whole time what a great puzzle for a beginner. So I REELED a when I saw both Rex and Jeff Chen considered it challenging. Chen however also awarded it POW. Congratulations to Meconya on a delightful debut!

I can never think of 3D without remembering the first, last and only time I ever ate it. My husband was being considered for a big promotion to his company’s corporate office, and we were invited to SUP at the new boss’ home to get acquainted. The Mrs. served a lovely dinner and everything was going great until she brought out dessert. A beautiful fresh baked PIE which she proudly explained was made from RHUBARB she grew in her garden. Hubby and I both detested the vile weed, but there was no way we were not going to eat every last crumb of that pie and brag about how delicious it was. We ate the pie, he got the job and the four of us became lifelong friends who have laughed many times over the years about the infamous RHUBARB PIE incident from our first meeting.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Well, OK. My first wife said "Hello" by giving me a piece of strawberry RHUBARB pie in our home room (alphabetical assignment, so she appeared in the desk in front of me) senior year in HS a week or so after she finally returned and we first met and a couple of weeks until we were sprung for graduation. She had been in one of the task home rooms until then, student paper I think. It was love at first bite of course, but some years until we cleaved. Let that be a lesson to you. RHUBARB is a good thing.

Z 11:52 AM  

@pabloinnh (and @Frantic Sloth, too) - The TV show occasionally shows some of the history on specific cars. My guess on that CAMARO is that $90K represents the break even point of $ sunk into the car, not even counting the time invested (which I compare to the time I “invest” solving xwords).

@Anon9:53 - There’s a good reason for thinking of Socks. I recently saw a hilarious photo of a half dozen photographers trying to get a “candid” shot of Socks. Socks was the sole first pet from 1993-1997. Apparently Socks despised BUDDY.

Crimson Devil 11:53 AM  

Buddy was good lookin choc lab that Clintons let run in Chappaqua, and was run over.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

The obsession many of you have with the 45th President reads like a sickness. Get over him people.

only if you'll (and your ilk) guarantee that he and his fellow insurrectionists leave the country for their dachas in Russia.

Richard 11:56 AM  

Re the YUBA TUBA CUBA controversy. The first two rhyme; the latter is an "eye rhyme," i.e., it rhymes on paper with the first two, but not when spoken. A more extreme example would be "dough/cough." Now you know. You're welcome.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  


Given the identical timestamps, we didn't see each other's tale of RHUBARB, but the group assembled should vote on the better purpose of RHUBARB:
- job
- spouse

Let the voting begin!!

tea73 12:00 PM  

I finished this over my average Monday time, but under my average Tuesday time, so I think that just makes it hard for a Monday, but not necessarily a Tuesday puzzle. :)

I threw down Kokomo while singing the Beach Boys, if I knew the lyrics better I'd know they said it was off the Florida Keys, though there is one in Hawaii.

I took a class in Asian art and don't remember any Bo Trees. I don't remember the Bodhi Tree either though. What I do remember is that early depictions of the Buddha only showed footprints because he was too sacred to depict as a human and he often sits on a lotus.

There was a little exhibit of presidential pets that I saw at the Newsmuseum right before it closed for good. (December 2019)

I didn't know YUBA, but the clue pretty clearly signaled the correct answer. I was surprised they didn't go for one of the California YUBAs.

TTrimble 12:05 PM  

@pabloinnh 11:26 AM

(For those who are not aware, there were a few assorted noms de Trump, personages that he would invent for some nefarious Trumpian business practice, and full of fulsome praise for Trump. One of the go-tos was named John Barron.

From Wikipedia: "According to The Washington Post, the name was a "go-to alias when [Trump] was under scrutiny, in need of a tough front man or otherwise wanting to convey a message without attaching his own name to it."[4] Barron would be introduced as a spokesperson for Trump."

Pseudonyms of Donald Trump.


*** Another moment of random association ***

Our family never had a CAMARO, but speaking of "muscle cars", we did have a GTO, which according to my mother stood for "Great Torch Oven" -- the thing would be scorchingly hot inside under the Southern sun when she took us home from the community swimming pool. Did they even have air conditioning back in the day? Not that I remember! And it never lost its new car smell. My mom stored little packets of baby powder in the glove compartment that we could sniff to cover up that smell -- hope I don't get nose cancer some day as a result.

Crimson Devil 12:07 PM  

I’d wager 45 couldn’t find a dog who liked him.
Speakin of RHUBARB, pitchers and catchers report tomorrow !

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

@11:54. OK I guarantee it. Thanks. Sheesh.

egsforbreakfast 12:44 PM  

I deeply resent dedicating an entire puzzle to WHITE HOUSEDOGS. So typical of Shortz and crew to overlook the inconvenient truth that many of us have HOUSEDOGS of color. And to rub salt in the wound, 32D blatantly calls out BAD SPOT!!! Can’t believe that Rex missed these opportunities to virtue pose, while stuck for a speed solver’s eternity on what might start with Y and rhyme with tuba and Cuba.

I really liked this debut by Meconya Alford and think her clues are o.K. NINE times out of nine.

CuppaJoe 12:44 PM  

If anything can bring us together it’s white house dogs.

Got the theme early on which actually helped filling in all but Yuba/bo tree. I hit “reveal square” for the b.

Nancy 12:52 PM  

@jberg -- LBJ, as I remember, had two dogs -- Him and Her. He picked them both up by the ears.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

I eat rhubarb with little or no sugar so that clue was "fake news".

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Awww, poor baby. . . Mommy, it too hard for a Monday. . . You want some cheese with that whine??

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

I didn't know the windsurfing area in HI so I had KAILeA for a bit. Then I came to 45D and with eNN in place realized it had to be UNNNERVE. Funny, eNNERVE would seem to give courage, where if you change the starting vowel, you drain the courage. Language is so cool.

I kind of got the theme at 21A because BUDDY and the [Clinton] in the clue brought to mind a presidential pet but I mixed BUDDY up with Socks and was thinking "cats" so I had to wait until the reveal to revel in the full theme.

Slightly slower in my solve today which I ascribe to the larger size. I thought the clue for 27A was so obvious that I left it blank to confirm the YUBA - it just seemed too easy. Not that I knew BO TREE either but still...

Meconya Alford, this wasn't as easy as RHUBARB PIE but it was tasty, thanks! And congratulations on your debut puzzle and POW all in one go.

Joe Dipinto 1:10 PM  

Yuba and Madonna
Ride the tube in Ljubljana

My memory of White House pets is spotty, I realize. I guess I'm aware of them at the time, but I don't remember their names after the fact. I do remember the Clinton's had a cat named Socks, and I remember when the Obamas got the Portuguese water dog, but I don't remember that it was named Bo. Barney rings no bell whatsoever, and I was unaware that Biden has a dog, or at least it hadn't registered yet.

I'd be shocked to find out that Trump ever had a pet of any kind. And then horrified, for the creature. Anyway, he didn't need a dog; he had his rabid supporters. He trained them to give him unconditional admiration, hang on every word he said and do his bidding no matter what, and snarl at and threaten anyone who dared defy him. And he didn't have to take responsibility for cleaning up their poop messes. Why would he need an actual dog?

Joaquin 1:12 PM  

Who's a good boy?

I nominate @egsforbreakfast for his doggone good post at 12:44.

Unknown 1:13 PM  

ELSE and ELSA and SOLE and SOLO crossing in the same block had me thinking I must have something wrong there.

Whatsername 1:19 PM  

@pablo (7:35) My first car was a ‘69 Camaro and I’ve often wondered the same thing about it. Never had a chance to sell mine as it was stolen from in front of my apartment in Kansas City. Broke my heart.

@Anon (11:59) How funny that we posted similar tales at the exact same time. I liked your story too and am very happy that it resulted in happily ever after. I’ll bet you both love rhubarb pie to this day.

@Crimson Devil (12:07) “I’d wager 45 couldn’t find a dog who liked him.” I’d wager you’re right.

Ghandi said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” It gives me comfort to know that we now have two much loved pets occupying the White House once again. So as a country, we’ve gone from no pets at all to two rescue dogs with their own Twitter feed and reportedly plans for adding a First Cat to the mix. Well let’s just say I’d definitely call that moral progress.

sanfranman59 1:26 PM  

Challenging NYT Monday ... 19% above my 6-month median solve time ... maybe only a Medium-Challenging Monday puzzle for me since it's a 16 x 15 grid ... Meconya Alford is a new constructor name in my solving database

I enjoyed this puzzle, but it seems a little cruel to remind those of us who are in the thick of winter that there are places like OAHU {15A: Home of Waikiki Beach} and KAILUA {44A: Windsurfing locale NE of Honolulu}, particularly when they're basically off-limits to us regular people (i.e. those of us who aren't professional athletes or otherwise ridiculously wealthy). We're expecting a bunch of snow here in NE Ohio in the next couple of days followed by single-digit lows. Brrr! With the 'B' in place, I couldn't get 'Banyan' out of my head for BO TREE {40A: The Buddha is often depicted meditating under it [Obama]}. Silly brain!

This makes two straight Mondays with Challenging ratings from Rex! And here, I just recently commented on how rarely he gives any puzzle a Challenging rating these days, particularly early-week grids. Re ""Rhyming title character" ... what? Rhyming with what?" Come on, Rex! I know you're really not that dense. I don't know the song or the title either, but clearly the answer had to rhyme with Cuba and tuba! Nonetheless, I have to agree with him that YUBA {27D: Rhyming title character who plays the tuba in Cuba, in a Rudy Vallee song}, BO TREE, KAILUA and (maybe) BUSK {30D: Play music in the subway, perhaps} are questionable Monday fare and especially since the first three cross each other.

Jill 1:34 PM  

If the river or city in CA had been the clue, I would agree. But basically all I took from it is YU-- and rhymes with tuba.

oceanjeremy 1:39 PM  

Not quite an "expert" — resident specialist perhaps? :)

bocamp 1:58 PM  

"Bo" woofed, “When they go low, we go high”; Michelle just passed it on. Good advice! ๐Ÿถ

pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all ๐Ÿ•Š

Francis 2:01 PM  

As a tuba player, YUBA was easy. nytxw is a fairly tuba friendly puzzle.

pabloinnh 2:14 PM  

@rhubarb people

Back when radio was all, groups of actors used to say "rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb" over and over to simulate a background crowd's muttering.

And that's enough from me for one day.

Marty 2:17 PM  

My cultural reference to YUBA on the tuba comes at 2:05 in the Bugs Bunny Short "Long-Haired Hare". Here's the link: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6vjyn4

Maddiegail 2:30 PM  

Easy! Easy! EASY!!!! There! Take that! That's for all the times I was pulling my hair out and Rex was flying through in 2-1/2 minutes flat!

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Of course Trump had a dog. Jimmie Kimmel often referred to Pence as the Vice Poodle.

Carola 2:45 PM  

@GILL I. 11:08 - Your reminiscence brought a smile: one of the best pieces of rhubarb pie I've had was in Iowa, at the State Fair at the stand of the West Des Moines United Methodist Church. It vies for top honors with a slice eaten at a pie and ice cream social at St. Peter's Church in Loganville, WI. There's something about church ladies and pie...

Leonard Hofstadter 3:02 PM  

Mickey Mouse TV show???

12 seasons, 46 Emmy nominations with 10 wins, numerous Critics' Choice Awards, and 81% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Mickey Mouse indeed!!!

Diane Joan 3:19 PM  

Hey Rex,
Your comment about the Chia Pet definitely
made me chuckle, a little levity to brighten my sadness about the verdict and the state of the republic and the presidency in the future.

@oceanjeremy I have to agree with you about the bodhi tree. It gave me a little trouble as I am over user of the rebus function and went to work squeezing "odhi" in the space. Once I figured out the theme it became clear though.

Enjoyed the solve and the White House pets on this grey Presidents' Day!

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

Well, you know how @Nancy is about stuff she's not into.

TTrimble 3:29 PM  

@Marty 2:17 PM
Well, I'll be damned! Nice pop culture reference. One of my favorite Bugs Bunny shorts (leopold! LEOPOLD! Leopold! evidently referring to Stokowski), but I never would have known this had you not pointed it out. Thank you!

(Linking to it for the sake of convenience. To repeat: the tune is played by Bugs at the 2:05 mark.)

The things one can learn here...

Me too, -1 pg. I missed two yesterday, and doubt I could have produced them even given a week's time.

@11:32 AM
"The first step to liquidating a people is to erase its memory" -- Milan Hubl.

Ralph L. 3:56 PM  

Yes, for 1 across, Dance at a Jewish wedding, Hora is correct. But Art Linkletter described it as the biggest audience laugh ever on his show, which unfortunately had to be cut, when that was the answer a contestant gave to "What dance is associated with the Playboy Club?" (The expected answer was the Bunny Hop.)

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

I liked this puzzle. I like dogs, and I like puzzles, therefore I liked this puzzle. Agree w/ Rex & others re the near-Natick, but it didn't bother me too much, probably because I was surrounded by dogs.

A 4:00 PM  

Uh oh. Better check my temperature. I had the same initial “self-rhyming” reaction as OFL this morning. Unlike Rex I didn’t try to figure out, just skipped it and filled in the rest of the grid, which seemed easier than usual. By the time I got back to it I realized what was up. So no YUyu for Mimi.

Does YUBA rhyme with tuba? If you believe our orchestra’s former conductor, who was Irish, yes. It’s tchyooba.

RHUBARB (sans strawberries) is my favorite pie. Never knew there was such a thing until I was visiting a college friend in Wisconsin. We went out and picked some from their garden and her mom made pie. My mouth is literally watering as I think about it.

@Nancy, @Barbara’s quote made me think of the fish/bicycle quip too. First time I saw it was in a ladies bathroom at a local bar. Good thing no one ELSE was there or I’d have had to ‘splain my chortling. And thanks for the image of the little Buddha figurine on my mantle sitting under a bonsai!

How come all the WHITE HOUSE DOGS are male?

Brought in all the potted plants this weekend, but there’s nothing to be done about my 18-foot camellia. Now I’m watching the ruby red blooms turn brown outside my window. It never gets this cold down here, y’all!

Gene 4:04 PM  

Despite Rex not being able to understand "rhyming", __BA was completely obvious.

Ram Fan 4:24 PM  

As a Fordham alumnus, it’s kind of embarrassing that Trump went here. At least he didn’t graduate thank God. He transferred to some school in Philly. As far as I know, he was never spotted in Smokey Joe’s. Unfortunately for us, the current governor on NY is a Fordham grad. As far as I can tell, Cuomo's entire handling of Covid in NY boils down to:
1. Mass death on his orders
2. Targeting and scapegoating a vulnerable minority
3. Obstruction and coverup
4. Pleading with journalists and the feds not to investigate him further pretty please

mmorgan 4:26 PM  

I dunno, but the crosses propitiously fell in to place for me such the YUBA and colleagues caused no consternation whatsoever.

Z 4:49 PM  

@YUBA tuba Cuba don’t rhyme people - Bah Humbug! Even if the internal rhyming U’s don’t quite rhyme, “rhyme” is a Correspondence of sounds at the ends of words or phrases,... (American Heritage, emphasis added) BA BA BA. RV even seems to have included “rumba” is his musical rhyming and that U is farther away than YUBA from Cuba.
@M&A - I was really expecting U to clean up this UMess.

@Ram Fan - The guy has struck me as a pretty big ass for a long time. In his defense on COVID, though, the country’s pre-eminent experts were muzzled or perverted by Trump et al, Did Cuomo err? Yep. Was the guidance provided on what were optimal options clear? Nope. If I were to apportion blame I’d put it at least 75% on the Trump administration and 25% on Cuomo’s administration. Look at the collision between the desire to re-open schools and the push back on the difficulty of re-opening schools within CDC recommendations. There’s no guarantee that the politicians (of any stripe) will re-open schools safely. This is a perfect example of how strong unions are vital. In protecting their members they end up protecting all of us.

John Barron 4:56 PM  

anon 11:32 is so right. I've been saying this for a long time, sure, The Donald Trump spent four years trying to destroy our international relations, President Obama’s legacy, the environment, and at the end, our very democracy, in order to line his own pockets. I'll tell you what, but people – it’s been almost a month – how long are you going to hold a grudge?

A Prostitute 5:14 PM  

@Gill I. No offense taken dearie.

"I thought my lips would be permanently puckered and sealed" - a good chapstick or some Vase will prevent that. Trick of the oldest trade.

GILL I. 5:34 PM  

@Carola...Well, kiss a few of my grits. Maybe I should try RHUBARB PIE again if I can find anyone in Sacramento who'll make it....
Speaking of food....I just received my Morrell Snow Cap Lard from Amazon. HOG...my friends, makes the best lardl( Hi @Z's mom) in order to make some COObano (doesn't rhyme with Yuba) bread. If you want the best Cuba/YUBA sandwich in the world, the bread is the star. Well...the HOG is as well.

Sam E. Tic 6:52 PM  

Well at least the new President will move the American embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv. Oh wait, maybe not. ๐Ÿ™ˆ

oriordan 7:16 PM  

@Frantic Sloth and @SouthsideJohnny - given that tea cosies are mainly a UK/Irish thing, it seems reasonable to go with the spelling that I grew up with. Whenever I call home (given that traveling isn’t exactly feasible), I get no end of abuse if I z-ify words I learned as a child. Not sure if that’s “zed-ify “ or “zee-ify“ ๐Ÿ˜œ

Anonymous 7:28 PM  

The first step to liquidating a people is to erase its memory" -- Milan Hubl.

A Moderator 7:36 PM  

Attacking other commenters is a no no.

Even if they're Anons.

bocamp 8:05 PM  

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all ๐Ÿ•Š

Joe Dipinto 9:00 PM  

(rolling credits on today's thread...)

Cue visual with music:
"I Want My Dog To Live Longer" video #1

End tag

A Moderator 9:47 PM  

@Anon 8:43

I deleted the offensive comment. Correcting a false statement is fine; saying someone is an Ahole for making it is not.

Frantic Sloth 10:07 PM  

@J-Dip 900pm Love that doggie song (and Ubu) - thanks fir sharing. ๐Ÿ˜Š

TTrimble 11:03 PM  

Nice comeback. Do you actually have anything to say that relates to the puzzle or this blog? Or are you just here to make rando political comments and/or troll?

CDilly52 11:03 PM  

@Joe D 1:57 am: And here I thought I was the only one who would remember John D. Hackensacker!!

albatross shell 11:04 PM  

Yuba plays the Rhumba was written by the same songwriter who wrote the first or second most famous song in movie history Herman Hupfeld. The other song was As Time Goes By. That song was first recorded by Rudy Vallee. He recorded it in 1931 and it became a hit a decade later after the Bogart movie came out.
The best version of Yuba that I found was done by Jonny Mercer which is here:
Done well the lyrics seem much better than they read.

The Mills Brothers did a version where they create the instrumental parts vocally. The lyrical were omitted in a cartoon with mildly racist overtones perhaps.

CDilly52 11:41 PM  

The parenthetical references to the President whose dog was featured in the answer gave away the theme but I didn’t get it until Bo simply because I so vividly recall the photos of the Obama girls with their Nee family member!

And RHUBARB PIE!! When my dad finished his Ph.D. He accepted a professorship at Illinois State. That move, my senior year in High School was saved by Gran giving up her lively old apartment in Columbus and coming with us to live in. The house they chose happened to have a huge back yard, and in one of the beds there lived the largest RHUBARB plant(s) I have ever seen (to this day) and even the Master Gardeners (both Gran and Dad) were impressed. We don’t see much rhubarb today and I think it’s sad. Gran made the best RHUBARB PIE, and mixed it with blueberries or strawberries and made jams and jellies and an incredible rhubarb-apple-brandy glaze for roast pork. And we made hats out of the gigantic leaves for the little grandchildren of the next door neighbors.

Fast forward 10 years and Larry and I introduce our toddler-daughter to “Grandpa Fatcat’s garden. First thing he did was make her a rhubarb leaf hat to tour his realm! The pix are just too cute. I was so happy that my Dad somehow developed a close, loving relationship with our daughter. Something the two of us could not do. Now, I am going to have to see if I can find some RHUBARB Pie!

I am retiring at the end of this year and am going to move to Santa Rosa to be near my kids and their soon to be adopted 7 year old daughter. I am hoping I can live up to Gran’s standards of love, compassion and fun, and teach my soon to be granddaughter how to do crosswords!

Fun Monday! Just enough crunch and a sweet theme!

egsforbreakfast 12:32 AM  

@CDilly52. Probably too late for you to see this, but I just wanted to wish you the best in retirement, and a blessing for your resolve to be a good granny. We did the same thing 18 months ago, and it has been more than worth it.

OISK 12:52 AM  

Thank you

Monty Boy 12:59 AM  

I liked this one a lot. Sorry to be so late, maybe Syndies will read?

Still mystified by this being "Challenging" and last Friday/Saturday being "Easy"?

To join the Muscle discussion. I had a Roadrunner as my crazy youth car. Got it up to 120 and scared the bejabbers out of me. Kept below 80 after that.

And lastly, What is the first question on the puppy training final exam?

Who's a good boy?!?!

Greg 9:47 AM  

I attended the Univerity of Wisconsin-Madison. At football games, the tuba section of the marching band works its way around the stadium, playing various songs in unison, one of which is, "When Yuba Plays the Rumba on the Tuba". I didn't play tuba, but I was a music major, so that one stuck in my head. Never imagined it would save a Monday NYTXW for me.

TwoFlech 11:05 AM  

Easy for us!

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