Japanese condiment sprinkled on rice / SUN 11-14-21 / Metric for online traffic in brief / Historical subject of Hilary Mantel's 2009 novel Wolf Hall / Children's author DiCamillo with two Newbery Medals / Slogan about willpower / Like bacon and lobster in Jewish law / Day celebrated by Star Wars fans

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Constructor: Aimee Lucido and Ella Dershowitz

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: MIND OVER MATTER (124A: Slogan about willpower ... or a hint to four pairs of answers in this puzzle) — word meaning (roughly) "mind" appears directly above a word describing (precisely) a type of matter, x 4:

Theme answers:
  • PREGNANCY BRAIN / SOLID FOOD (23A: Forgetfulness experienced by soon-to-be moms, informally / 28A: What a baby might start eating at around six months)
  • STREET SMARTS / LIQUID DIET (47A: Worldly wisdom / 53A: Juice cleanse, essentially)
  • MOTHER WIT (???) / GAS GIANTS (65A: Common sense / 75A: Jovian planets, by another name
  • POOL NOODLE / PLASMA SCREEN (92A: Simple flotation device / 97A: TV display option)
Word of the Day: FURIKAKE (117A: Japanese condiment sprinkled on rice) —

Furikake (振り掛け / ふりかけ) is a dry Japanese condiment to be sprinkled on top of cooked rice, vegetables, and fish, or used as an ingredient in onigiri. It typically consists of a mixture of dried fishsesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and monosodium glutamate. Other flavorful ingredients such as katsuobushi (sometimes indicated on the package as bonito), or okaka (bonito flakes moistened with soy sauce and dried again), freeze-dried salmon particles, shiso, egg, powdered miso, vegetables, etc., are often added to the mix.

Furikake is often brightly colored and flaky. It can have a slight fish or seafood flavoring and is sometimes spicy. It can be used in Japanese cooking for pickling foods and for rice balls (onigiri). Since 2003, furikake has increasingly gained popularity in the United States (particularly in Hawaii and on the West Coast) as a seasoning for baked or fried fish, raw fish salads and snack foods such as furikake party mix. (wikipedia)

• • •

This puzzle has its fun parts, and the theme is well-meaning, but the "mind" parts of the equations felt like real stretches in a couple of cases. The "matter" parts were unimpeachable. There are four states of matter observable in everyday life, and this puzzle touches all of them. For "mind," though, I dunno. NOODLE and BRAIN are basically the same thing, and they work OK as a substitute for "mind," but SMARTS really feels like it's a type of mind. Like "she has a good mind" might mean she has SMARTS, but "mind" for SMARTS does not feel like a straight swap. Worse is WIT, which feels like something very specific that someone with a certain kind of mind might exhibit, but I just don't buy that "mind" = WIT. Maybe you can just horseshoes-and-hand-grenades the whole thing; just say "eh, close enough, it's fine." I guess so. That's charitable. And why not be charitable. But the iffiness of the "minds" really stood out in relation to the exactness of the "matters." Further, what the actual hell is MOTHER WIT? I'll be 52 next week and I've never ever heard that phrase. The fact that WIT wasn't a good fit for "mind" and the surrounding fill in that area (namely AFR, ADT, DAWG) is rough made that section by far the diciest of the day. I also don't know what a "Jovian planet" is. I know who Jove is. I was like "... JUPITERS?" I've heard of GAS GIANTS, but "Jovian planet" is a new one to me. Apparently they're called that because they (JUPITER, NEPTUNE, URANUS, SATURN) are all, compositionally, like Jupiter ... in that Jupiter is a gas giant.Their Jovian-ness has nothing to do with the god per se. OK, well, at least I'm learning something.

I am dubious about the spelling of HOWDEDO? How do you do => How d'ye do? => HOW D'E DO? Is that it? Also, I am dubious that the expression has anything to do with the "afternoon" (!?). Wanted HOW-DI-DO, like LA-DI-DA(H), but that didn't work out. I'm also having mild trouble with the (slightly archaic?) STAND TO (98D: Get ready for action). Without "reason" or "gain" following it, STAND TO looks weird. But it also sounds like something military. And yes, google says it means "stand ready for an attack, especially one before dawn or after dark." That section was also slightly dicey, as INEZ is often spelled with an "S" and I only kinda sorta know what TAZO tea is, so the "Z" there wasn't totally obvious to me. But TASO looked real wrong, so I correctly chose "Z." I don't really get why you give the perfectly nice and normal word ALIGN such a horrid corporate-speak clue (39D: Get on the same page, in corporate-speak). Why would you voluntarily corporate-speakify a word that isn't corporate speak by nature? Perverse. 

Absolutely loved GO NIGHT NIGHT (6D: Get ready to sleep, cutesily). I wanted to stop right there. Right here.

PATOOTIE kind of went a little too far for me, baby-talk-wise (as did the clue, [Heinie]), but baby-talk that isn't euphemisms for body parts of toilet stuff, that's the baby-talk I can get behind. GO NIGHT NIGHT! Absolute winner. Unfortunately all the joy of that answer was offset by the slumping 'ugh' feeling I got from the tedious, how-is-it-still-a-thing MAY THE FOURTH. A one-off pun somehow becomes an annual tediumfest. Bah and humbug. I learned that OLEANDER were poisonous in the '80s when my sister and I tried to use the flowers as drink garnishes at my father's big outdoor office party, which took place in our backyard (93D: Poisonous shrub). Not sure whose bright idea it was to leave a tween and a teen in charge of liquor distribution. The funny thing is that I know it never even occurred to me to try any of the alcohol myself. LOL, such a rule-follower, I was. Anyway, some kind person notified us that OLEANDER were actually poisonous and by some miracle we killed no one. OK, that's all. This one has a lot of bounce in the fill. The theme was hit/miss for me. Enjoy your mid-November Sunday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. I didn't know SEO was a "metric" (95D: Metric for online traffic, in brief); I thought it was the shit you do to game the system so that search engines will drive traffic to your site. It stands for "Search Engine Optimization." You try to increase traffic (which is a metric, i.e. a measurable thing), but the optimization process itself doesn't seem like a "metric." It's a set of practices. Maybe I don't know all the meanings of "metric," but it doesn't seem like the right word here.

P.P.S. Hey, constructors, it might be advisable to delete LAPP(S) (1D: Nordic native) from your wordlists. Per wikipedia: "The Sámi have historically been known in English as Lapps or Laplanders, but these terms are regarded as offensive by some Sámi people, who prefer the area's name in their own languages, e.g. Northern Sami Sápmi."

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:00 AM  

SE corner just pissed me off. No other way to say it.
FURIKAKE crossing TUKTUK crossing KATE. I knew there was a kind of taxi with a name that reminded me of something else in English...so...TUt TUt was it for the longest time.
Finally had to Google - and I hate having to do that.
Never had KURIKAKE. Never heard of KATE DiCamillo and why couldn't the name be tATE anyway?
Ergo, TUt TUt and a maddening DNF.
I just love falling victim to PPP said no one ever.

At least the theme made no sense to me.
Had to spin the wheel to guess what the fourth themer was because this theme made no sense to me.
How the hell do these things illustrate "mind over matter"??

Staring at the grid like a moron, I began to see the light.

The themers were as follows:

Directly beneath these words are the "matter" themers:

So, alternative words for "mind" (more or less - heavy reliance on Joaquin's Dictum) over alternative forms of "matter.

And now I can die.

The solve, while ignoring the theme was fun. Grokking the theme? Not so much, but at least I felt faux-smart when the coin finally dropped.

Gof, I hope I'm right.

🧠🧠 🧠

Joaquin 12:01 AM  

I enjoyed solving this puzzle and got a genuine “aha” at the revealer. But one nit: 26A - [Final innings, usually] NINTHS - is, as clued, the worst POC ever. Truly a POS POC.

okanaganer 12:51 AM  

Yes MOTHER WIT is a WTF? To parallel Rex, I'm 62 this weekend and never heard of that. But GAS GIANTS is def an astronomy thing. But,but had HOWDY DO? and why put an E in there? that's just crazy...

SEO was one of the stupid web marketing things that drove me out of my dream job. I dreamed of creating great web pages, but my boss (understandably) wanted me to make us appear high on Google rankings. It turned out the two were not mutually possible; the absolute worst web sites would rank high for our search terms. Absolutely dreadful clunky inaccurate sites were #1, 2, 3...

[Spelling Bee: td (Sat.) 0; a lot of old timey bible type words on the list. QB 3 days in a row again! Despite my being stranded all day 3 hours from home because of a punctured tire. Started the SB after supper and it went quick. No time to do the Saturday NYTXWD tonight.]

jae 1:09 AM  

Easy-medium. Pretty smooth and very clever, liked it a bunch!

Elizabeth Sandifer 1:12 AM  

A big agree with Frantic Sloth, though I had TUNTUN/FURINAKE/NATE, another entirely plausible set of answers in this mess of proper nouns and foreign terms. A rare three part Natick, but a Natick all the same.

Cory Calhoun 1:56 AM  

Maybe only because I happened to see Taming of the Shrew about 3 times during high school and college, the phrase MOTHER WIT jumped out at me:


That said, given that the only time I've ever heard the phrase was in JUST that play oh so many years ago ... yeah, not the most common nowadays.

Joe Dipinto 1:59 AM  

Style over substance?

Maybe they should have taken it one step further and made the theme "Mined over Matter", with mined items like coal, iron, gold etc. in the upper slots. Just a thought.

This doesn't really do it. I got the revealer before any of the themers, so maybe that had an effect. But given the tenuousness of the "mind" answers, and the fact that the combos (BRAIN/SOLID, SMARTS/LIQUID, WIT/GAS, NOODLE/PLASMA) don't add up to anything individually, I was left with, "I get it, they put that on top of that. Okay, but...?"

Also, SOLID FOOD and LIQUID DIET feel too similar to both be in there. And not working 113a into the theme seems neglectful somehow. But at least it's low on obnoxious wordplay clues— in fact, there really aren't any. Sad that it's gotten to the point where that's the main thing to be grateful for.

Music trivia for today's puzz: in 1968 three different songs with the same title charted simultaneously, thanks to a recurring "Laugh-In" sketch, and they all started with "126a". This one was the biggest hit (#8 in Billboard in July).

Andrew 2:24 AM  

I appreciated the “bonus” themer with MIND in the revealer stacked above ICE T. Different number of letters, sure, but a nice extra flourish, I thought.

mikebernsVIE 5:55 AM  

Isn't the phrase: "Go nightY night"?

Conrad 6:09 AM  

@mikebernsVIE: Yes! I GO NIGHTy nite, and that's what I had for quite a while.

Also HOWDy-DO at 40A. The "correct" answer still looks wrong to me.

Got hung up on the same triple-Natick in the SE as @Frantic and many others. My Thai taxi was TUnTUn, crossing FURInAKE and nATE.

Anonymous 6:09 AM  

Why’s the puzzle 21x22?

Lewis 6:27 AM  

I was never stuck solving this, nor was I bored, as this wasn’t a mindless fill-in. This puzzle hit the solving sweet spot for me, a lovely mix of gimmes and hard-to-get-without crosses. I won’t get into the mind-numbing details, but I’m guessing there was a lot of trial and error to make the final result look so unforced and natural.

I learned in some post-solve research that PREGNANCY BRAIN is also called momnesia. And hello my new friend IGNORATI – one definition being “The willfully ignorant; those who choose to ignore inconvenient facts or make public claims based on falsehoods”. Where have you been, IGNORATI, in recent years, when I was looking for just this word? But I know you now, and we’re going to make up for lost time. And to top it off, you’re an anagram of RIGATONI!

I loved DUSTS OFF, TUK TUK, and GRUNGE. Whenever I see PATOOTIE, that song SHIPOOPI from “Music Man” reprises in full glory in the theater of my mind. And I also loved the O-back low-key trochee train of RONDO / CONGO / ARLO / AUTO / OTTO / TAZO.

A&E, this was, IMO, one sweet production, enriching and fulfilling. Thumbs eagerly ascending – thank you for this!

Colin 6:30 AM  

This was a surprisingly quick solve for me (not Rex-quick... Colin-quick), although like others, the SE corner involved some cross-outs and overwrites.

MOTHERWIT was unfamiliar, but I don't know much Shakespeare. At all. But as with all such answers, I look at it and say, "OK. Something new." And try to tuck it away for the future.

I wish our (grown) son a MAYTHEFOURTH be with you every year - and he appreciates it so yes, it's still a thing. At least in our nerdy family! ;)

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

Lose one's wits=lose one's mind. So there you go Rex.

andrew 7:23 AM  

MOTHERWIT should be added to the RexWordWorld comment vocabulary from now on.

As in, “DNF-my MOTHERWIT wasn’t with me today, but MAYTHEFOURTH be with you.”

Son Volt 7:26 AM  

Solved as a themeless. Reviewing afterwards I can appreciate the chops required to build the theme stacks - but it just provided no juice for me. Overall fill suffered with the Sunday size grid - lots of decent mid length stuff I guess. NEGRONI, POOL NOODLE are nice and unlike Rex I like MAY THE FOURTH. Things like TUK TUK, ESSIE etc can go suck it.

@Joe D 1:59a - loved Flip Wilson. The song also showed up in the Big Audio mash up Rush - which you heard in every club in the city in the mid 80s but I’m not sure if it ever charted.

The theme would have played better cut back in a mid week format grid.

pabloinnh 7:39 AM  

You can add PREGNANCYBRAIN (which makes sense) to MOTHERWIT as new to me, and I'm older than people that have already cited MOTHERWIT as a WOE. Also, since I was working top to bottom, I filled in the revealer and didn't bother to go back and see how it worked. My loss.

Lucky for me, we have a Thai restaurant nearby named TUKTUK, and they are about to open a second one using the same name in an abandoned Dunkin' Donuts that is even closer. Good news there, this being the age of takeout and all.

I wrote in INES and left it so technical DNF, oh no. You say TAZO, I say TASO, so what, I've already called the whole thing off.

Also WIT is fine for BRAIN with me. I'm thinking of HALFWIT. Seems I remember WANTWIT and LACKWIT too, but I'm too lazy to check.

Apt Sunday with just the proper amount of resistance, AL and EO. And Love how you complement Each Other. Well done you and thanks for the fun, and I'm sorry I missed your elegant theme.

BarbieBarbie 7:44 AM  

I thought it was great. I picked up on the “mind” theme and then after the revealer had to go back and find the “matter” one, plus a new appreciation for the title. THAT is the definition of a satisfying Sunday puzzle. More like this would be just fine with me.

GASGIANTS went in with no crosses; we all have different wheelhouses, @Rex.

As I’m sure @Nancy will note, HOWDEDO is a time-honored expression found among other places in Gilbert and Sullivan lyrics, meaning “hot mess” or just “dilemma.”The clue was a bit off for that meaning, getting it mixed up with HOWDy. Edit Fail on that one, but a perfectly good entry.

Fun start to my Sunday! Thanks AL and ED!

Joe Dipinto 7:44 AM  

Re the SE corner — my train of thought went something like: could be Nate, could be Tate, cou— wait a second. Two female constructors, one of whom is a children's book author*? It must be KATE.

*read the note

Trey 8:01 AM  

gOAt before BOAR, peNCE before OUNCE. Oh well

I came from YLEM? Never knew. New word for me. Thought it was going to he the cause of the lack of happy music but instead it was my fat fingers on my phone keyboard putting in wrong letters elsewhere. Easily fixed with a reread of the answers

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

I liked this one a lot. Finished in good time (for me!) and no real dead ends. I only guessed "Tuk Tuk" because there is a Thai restaurant in my neighborhood with that name. "Mother wit" is from a line in "The Taming of the Shrew." Some of the other answers were questionable, but I finished quickly.

Unknown 8:05 AM  

Same here on FURIKAKE crossing TUKTUK crossing KATE. I had to run through a few consonants to get to K but I didn't know any of these crosses.

bocamp 8:09 AM  

Thx Aimee & Ella, for a perfect Sun, puz! :)


Good start in the top 1/3, and slow and steady going down to the SE.

Ended with TUc TUc / FURIcAKE, but the 'K's looked better.

Loved the MIND OVER MATTER theme, altho it didn't enter into the solving experience.

Fun puz; like it a lot. :)

@okanaganer (12:51 AM) 👍 for latest 0's

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Carol C M 8:16 AM  

According to Amazon, this book, “MotherWit: A Guide to Healing and Psychic Development” sold 80,000 copies. We must be traveling in different circles than its readers because I’m only vaguely familiar with the term.

thfenn 8:18 AM  

I made this one harder than necessary, not only with typos and misspellings, but also hunting for some obtuse way that the theme would make them correct. PREGANTCY, DRAPEsy, ALIa, and the whole area around MOTHERWIT (which has no connection, for me, with common sense), we're all just a mess.

IGNORATI is a fun word, but they feel much much more willful, to me, than the uninformed, and I don't really sense a connection between the two, colloquial or otherwise. But placed near INFECTS and THEFEDS certainly keeps things topical.

Time to get up and enjoy a Sunday, will look for a happier start to the day.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

Mother wit is a very common Southern and African American English expression; see here: https://www.nytimes.com/1999/03/21/magazine/the-way-we-live-now-3-21-99-on-language-mother-wit.html

Saltcreekct 8:27 AM  

Did anyone else notice that MIND in the revealer sits over ICE.Not a perfect alignment but seems to me it had to be intentional given the theme. Surprised Rex missed this.

MaxxPuzz 8:28 AM  

WIT has an older meaning of BRAIN or MIND. We still use it that way in NITWIT and WITLESS. But right you are, never ever heard of MOTHER WIT.
I thought it was mean to cross FURIKAKE with TUKTUK. Kept guessing the missing letter until the software congratulated me on solving the puzzle..At least I knew it was the same letter twice.
Happy Sunday to all.

Tom T 8:28 AM  

For me, the outlier in the MIND portion of the theme is NOODLE, which in my MIND refers to the head (or noggin), not the MIND. A search for synonyms of MIND, in fact, produced BRAIN and WIT and even, deep down the list, SMARTS, but no NOODLE.

As always, Lewis, thanks for the joy, highlighted by momnesia and rigatoni this morning!

Although we frown on any word being repeated in the conventional crossword grid construction, occasionally a word will appear more than once in the world of Hidden Diagonal Words. There's an excellent example of that in today's grid. Here is you HDW clue for today:

Puppy momma (3 letters, answer below)

Like others, I was left struggling to get the happy music because of the nightmare in the SE. Those taxis are TapTaps in Haiti, but pATE did not seem like a proper answer. By the time I settled on the K, I still didn't hear the happy sound until, like Rex, I resolved the INEs/TAsO issue. So I had no cheats or lookups, but it didn't feel like a true solve.

Answer to the double HDW clue:

DAM (beautifully placed parallel to each other, with the As occupying the 114D and 108A blocks; one of them could be expanded to DAMS, or both of them could be rendered semordnilap-ically as MAD & MAD)

(Ok, I'm done)

Trey 8:30 AM  

Link seems to be dead (or at least blocked to me)

Joe Dipinto 8:38 AM  

Hmm, this was supposed to be my link at 1:59. It worked earlier, I swear! Don't know what happened, but let's try again.

Z 8:42 AM  

@Anon6:09 - I’m guessing that in order to get four paired themers and the revealer in they had to go to 22 rows. That’s 9 rows just for the theme answers.

I really disliked the three-letter answers sticking out strewn through the middle of the puzzle and ERY with DRAPERY felt like a dupe. Pretty much on team everyone else with this. Okay Sunday. A couple of oddities. The theme is fine but doesn’t quite land. That is, less of an “aha moment” and more of a “I see how it works” moment.

IGNORATI = I did my own research
What’s the IGNORATI equivalent of “Epistemology?”

amyyanni 8:42 AM  

Spritely Sunday: very much fun. Stumbled at HOWDEDO, as was a big fan of Howdy Doody. My family got me to go to a professional photographer by telling me they were putting me in for an audience seat at the show and a professional photo was required.
Going to see a revival of the musical "Dogfight" later, by the pair who wrote "La La Land" and "Dear Evan Hansen." Now it's time for Will on the radio.

Z 8:49 AM  

@Anon 8:22 - Thanks for that link. “An ounce of MOTHER WIT is worth a pound of clergy” is my new motto.

TJS 9:03 AM  

Best Sunday in a long time, for me. Pretty much on @Lewis wavelength for a change. And this is the third time this week that I was absolutely amazed that I got the happy music instead of having to go back and start re-reading every answer to find the culprit.

I dont spend much time seeing how themes work if I don't need them for the solve, so didn't give this one any thought.

"as these terms are regarded as offensive by some Sami people". Is there anything that is not considered offensive by "some...people"? I know one thing, that Sammy Davis Jr. bit that @Joe referenced from Laugh-In would never see the light of day today.

Mother-wit, lack-wit, etc. Maybe if they had appeared in comic books instead of Shakespeare or English prof would have known them.

XwordGirl 9:03 AM  

I’ve noticed that the typical device of having an acronym or abbreviation in the clue that tells us the answer is an acronym or abbreviation has been ignored lately. I don’t like this. In fact I feel the puzzles in the last couple of months have eschewed many xword conventions that help in solving the puzzle. Too many of the answers lately make no sense at all or are downright wrong. Please find a new group of puzzle makers because the current group are really bad at this.

Mikey from El Prado 9:04 AM  

Well, HOWDy DO solvers!

I’m with Sloth…. I completely guessed on the FURIKAKE/TUKTUK…. Yeah, sure, gotta be KATE DiCamillo, and ‘…repetitive name’ helped the guessing. But, it could have been FURInAKE/TUnTUn/nATE for all I know.

MOTHERWIT? I see it was first used in 15th century. And, probably once since (this puzzle).

I suppose I’m too old for Yo DAWG. Speaking of which, you can’t stay young, but you can stay immature. Words I live by.


XwordGirl 9:08 AM  

I’ve noticed that the typical device of having an acronym or abbreviation in the clue that tells us the answer is an acronym or abbreviation has been ignored lately. I don’t like this. In fact I feel the puzzles in the last couple of months have eschewed many xword conventions that help in solving the puzzle. Too many of the answers lately make no sense at all or are downright wrong. Please find a new group of puzzle makers because the current group are really bad at this.

Finbarr 9:09 AM  

Haven't heard PATOOTIE since the last time I watched Rocky Horror Picture Show. After Eddie breaks out of the deep freeze in the lab, he sings: "Hot patootie, bless my soul/I really love that rock and roll." He and the chorus repeat those lines probably over a dozen times in the song that follows.

burtonkd 9:14 AM  

BarbieBarbie, thanks for reminding me of the G&S: rather cringey - performances now require elaborate apologies and justifications. Also, not much about this suggests "Afternoon, pardner". That can only be HowdY
Here's a How-De-Do!

Hands up also for TUnTUn. Glad I hit check puzzle when done, cleaned that and HOWDyDO. Puzzle otherwise pretty smooth, fun sailing.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

What is a "WOE"?

Keith D 9:31 AM  

Suddenly Rex decides to be “charitable”?? Lol.

Minor nit but PLASMA is not a tv display option. It hasn’t been an option for several years, sadly.

RooMonster 9:45 AM  

Hey All !
One-letter DNF. Argh! Had SHeA, because if you have SHIA in your grid, clue it as Actor LaBeouf. 😋

FURIKAKE sounds NC-17 to me. Like something people who dress up like animals would do/get. EWw. LOL.

Liked this puz. Difficult construction, considering the words that had to be paired. Observe WIT over GAS. You end up with the Downs _WG and TS_. But the fill ended up coming out clean. Impressive. SMARTS/LIQUID is another. Tough to fill cleanly.

Tripped up at the HOWDEDO E also. Luckily, BARONYT didn't look like a thing.

Enjoyed today's offering.

Eight F's (Making up for the No F's puzs) 😁

Kid Phoneme 9:46 AM  

This one filled in one sitting, a rarity for me on Sundays. Solving-wise that probably makes it a big easy-ish Wednesday in my book.

The theme didn't do much for me. I'm happier with wordplay over word placement, but the fill was pretty good throughout.

I felt pretty confident about Tuktuk/Kate.

My final sticking point was 112D with A_MO_ crossing FU_IKAKE and LAH_. I anchored hard on mail as envelopes going places and ended up doing the walk of shame over to Google to remind me of Bert's name. (I wasn't proud, but I was tired). That was enough to unchain my noggin and get the second R in ARMOR.

Having the sense to put it down and Go Night Night might have avoided the cheat.

John 9:47 AM  

“It is extempore from my mother wit.” — Petruccio, The Taming of the Shrew

Rube 9:52 AM  

Lots of bad stuff already noted. Here is another .128a, especially for a NEW YORK times audience is just wrong. There is no way that OTTO and auto sound alike. Would anyone say that about "law" and"lotto"? Of course not. Using pronunciations on clues is usually a bad idea.

Nancy 9:53 AM  

This theme went right over my head (pun intended). It had nothing whatsoever to do with my solving experience, and the only reason I didn't miss it completely is that MIND OVER MATTER sent me back to the grid to take another look. Certainly it wasn't the weak and rather "off" title, HEADS OF STATE, that sent me back to look.

Oh, yes, there it is. BRAIN is over SOLID and WIT is over GAS, etc., etc. But so what? Aimee and Ella had fun with the theme -- me, not so much.

But the good news is that the theme led to some colorful answers that stand on their own: PREGNANCY BRAIN; STREET SMARTS; LIQUID DIET and POOL NOODLE are four such.

And then there's that awful SE corner comprised of FURI?AKE; TU?TU?; and ?ATE (as clued). Could have been CATE or NATE, but I kept putting in "K"s wildly, everywhere, guessed right and had a clean solve. Whew.

Overall, this was a fairly pleasant puzzle -- even if it was one that I solved as a themeless. (I have nothing against themelessness.) And I did learn IGNORATI -- a coinage that I've never seen before but that I quite like. Don't be surprised if I borrow it to use sometime.

SouthsideJohnny 9:53 AM  

FURIKAKE crossing TUKTUK really crosses the line - seems like hardcore Saturday material there. YLEM is plenty brutal enough to carry the toughness torch for a Sunday (it’s even tougher because it just looks so “wrong” - sort of like nothing should be spelled like that). Having the acronym AQI cross a Latin word is at least deserving of an illegal procedure penalty.

I agree with the poster who postulated that some people will choose to be offended by most anything. At least in this case Rex just pointed it out and didn’t spend a half-hour droning on about it. I wonder if LAPP’s crossing partner (LASS) would be considered offensive by some in this day and age of trigger-warnings and safe spaces - and how about poor Shrek ? Does anyone think he isn’t bothered by being called an OGRE all the time (I know that he’s not real, and that he IS an OGRE - but hey, he’s still entitled to some dignity and respect - I mean, if we as a society can’t respect our cartoon characters, what does that say about our overall value system and sense of decency and fairness). Shame on the NYT for shaming poor Shrek.

Wanderlust 9:55 AM  

What On Earth

thfenn 9:59 AM  

@8:22, great link, thanks.

Teedmn 10:00 AM  

I had DANE in at 1D, making most of that area hard to see. LAPP never occurred to me because I've been to northern Sweden where the Sami people live and was aware that Lapp and Lapplander are no longer used (although there was a Lappland pizza we ate in Stockholm that had reindeer meat on it.)

Yes, the theme did not help with solving this puzzle but that didn't stop me from finding it clever. I did get tripped up with the TUtTUt that @Frantic Sloth mentions. FURItAKE still seems more likely than the correct FURIKAKE.

While I never put it in the grid, as DRAPERY prevented it, I really wanted some primordial "ooze" rather than YLEM.

Thanks, AL and ED.

Deb Sweeney 10:06 AM  

Kinda surprised mother wit was a stumbling block, 100% legit and familiar to me. I liked the puzzle and the theme, though I didn't really use it at all. Now to google YLEM.

Wanderlust 10:20 AM  

SOLID, LIQUID AND GAS I get, but had to look up PLASMA after reading Rex’s writeup to see what exactly it is and how it is the fourth type of matter. Still not sure I get it. Something produced by lightning and neon lights. Anyone have an explanation for IGNORATI like me?

Like everyone, I struggled in the SE but maybe for a different reason. I knew TUK-TUK but had Lane for a long time as the Daily Planet reporter. That worked with URNS, which was the only cross I got easily. KAeE certainly seemed wrong, so got it fixed. But my actual near Natick was AQI crossing TIN. Had AQ- and T-N and had to guess whether the Latin word was tan, ten, tin, ton or tun (one of those words where any vowel works as a word). TIN seemed the most likely, so happy music ensued.

Reading The Mirror and the Light, the third novel in Hilary Mantel’s series on CROMWELL, now. They are so good. Start with Wolf Hall.

I would have clued LOVEY as Mrs. Howell.

Jim in Canada 10:23 AM  

"How-de-do" is acceptable if and only if it's said somewhere north of Texas.
But the clue includes the word 'pardner' which puts it squarely in that area and thus MUST be howdy-do.
Massive fail in editing.
Clue it "well, that's a fine ___" and it's legit.

Mr. Benson 10:30 AM  

Another vote for FURIKAKE/TUKTUK/KATE being indefensible.

Worse, it’s an avoidable problem, because there are plenty of more famous KATEs who could have been clued. Clue it as Spade or Middleton or “Kiss Me” and the “repetitive” part of the TUKTUK clue takes care of the FURIKAKE crossing.

Jim Stevens 10:36 AM  

I’m glad Rex pointed out Lap in his postscript. It’s more accurately described as The N word in Nordic countries. Lap means “scrap” or “bits” as in what they pieced their clothes together from in hard times. Very derogatory these days and never used (well, the same kinds of folk who wouldn’t use the N word here.) I’ve pointed it out to WS twice now, and you see how far that got.

toddh 10:41 AM  

I ended my puzzle solving with FURInAKE, TUnTUn, and nATE. Oh well.

Unknown 10:42 AM  

SEO is absolutely not a metric. It stands for Search Engine Optimization which is a strategy to code you web pages to perform better in search engine rankings.

Mohair Sam 10:47 AM  

@All solvers over 70: I was once in the Peanut Gallery on the Howdy Doody Show. Met Buffalo Bob, Clarabell - the works. Beat that for name-dropping.

Enjoyed this a lot more than most Sunday puzzles. Lewis' first paragraph summed our experience perfectly. Lots of mumbling about "impossible" clues, but fair crosses got 'em - and we learned a lot - i.e., OLEANDER kills, FURIKAKE, YLEM.

I've always called it called Primordial "stew", btw. Live and learn.

Nice puzz Aimee and Ella, thanks - you make a great team.

Nancy 10:49 AM  

So now I know what "You bet your sweet PATOOTIE" means. I blush to admit that I never had the slightest idea before.

In case you don't bother to check the "mother wit" link provided earlier (which isn't in blue), it has a lot of nice citations, but this is my favorite: "The poet Andrew Marvell of coy-mistress fame immortalized the phrase in an apothegm: 'An ounce of mother-wit is worth a pound of clergy.'

Thanks, @Barbie Barbie for the shout-out and for providing that wonderful Mikado song link. So infectious, so good-natured, so wonderfully...happy. @burtonkd -- It may be considered "cringe-worthy" in today's world, but I didn't cringe once. I'll save my outrage for Japanese internment camps in the U.S. while basking in the joyfulness of what G&S were achieving in Victorian England.

If you can all possibly get your hands on the glorious film "Topsy-Turvy", which is a riveting inside look at G&S's writing of The Mikado, you'll see that Gilbert actually admired much about Japanese culture, immersed himself in it before writing a single word of his new opera, and worked extremely hard to keep broad caricature out of the performances. And certainly he was an equal-opportunity skewerer -- having thoroughly punctured British pomposity and pretension in all his previous works.

thefogman 10:51 AM  

Admirable in so many ways and yet somewhat flawed in others. Aimee is one of my favourite constructors and her work regularly appears in The New Yorker magazine along with other fine contructors who regularly put the New York Times crosswords to shame. This was a good challenge. A few head-scratchers but mostly fair. I had one mistake at the one spot which was not fair. At 131A-116D I had TAsO - INEs. So, to Aimee and Ella: OKDEARs, you got me!

JD 10:58 AM  

Tut Tut & Tate, Natick's newest law firm and the reason for my DNF. Theme: Heads of (S)Tate! No?

If there's any anger over Ylem, hope this wiki clip brings cheer, "In modern understanding, the ylem ( /ˈaɪləm/ ) as described by Gamow was the primordial plasma, formed in baryogenesis, which underwent Big Bang nucleosynthesis and was opaque to radiation."

Don't understand a word of it but somehow feel smarter. Good because I felt some cognitive decline by the time I'd typed the E in Patootie.

Really enjoyed this though. It was like a story of Mommy having Pregnancy Brain but feeling better some time around the Solid Food stage and saying to a little someone "You go Night Night now and Mommy will go have a Negroni and read about Gas Giants." Mind Over Matter.

Fun puzzle. Lots of crazy language. Not a dead athlete or northeastern conference sch. to be found.

@JoeD for post of the day with Mined Over Matter.

GILL I. 11:03 AM  

Well...my MIND exploded. Does it MATTER? you ask. Yes. I did the good gravy LOADED with FURIKAKE on my nachos, dance.
Sit back, take a load off, a try to figure this thing out. You see, I enjoyed the fill. I was thinking this is another themeless Sunday. What are HEADS OF STATE and what does a pregnant brain have to do with it. Speaking of, I've never heard the term. I so wanted PREGNANT pauses. I have them a lot.
I especially like PATOOTIE sitting on a POOL NOODLE.
If you haven't ridden a TUK TUK in Bangkok, I will dare say you are missing out on a ride from hell. No, actually, they are fun. You do have to negotiate a price before you get in because the driver will charge you and arm and a leg. And speaking of arms....be sure you keep them on your lap. No one wants to lose one waving at people laughing at you.
I'm now going to look up the recipe for ragu al cinghiale. I might also look up FURIKAKES that sounds like furry cakes and see if I want to sprinkle them on anything.

thefogman 11:10 AM  

Did Rex get hacked? His site stopped taking comments since 10:30 am…

Andrew Heinegg 11:15 AM  

I did my own research because I don't trust the people with degrees from top universities and many years of experience studying and working on the issues and questions we are facing.

I have concluded that the Election was definitely stolen, that the vaccine for Covid-19 has killed more people than the virus, that climate change is a hoax-conspiracy conjured up by the Democrats with the help of scientists who used flawed models and the Earth is very definitely flat. I have a wonderful sense of self satisfaction that I didn't blindly believe what I was told and read about these things and I am very confident that I am 100% correct about all of the them.😁

Andrew Heinegg 11:18 AM  

While I agree with your complaint, remember it is Mr. Shortz who has the final say on these things. Who knows, maybe he is altering some of the original submissions of the puzzle creators.

Carola 11:44 AM  

I liked the WIT of the puzzle and had to use my NOODLE to solve it, so - a fine Sunday in my book. With the early cluster of MOTHERhood related entries, I thought we were in for a maternal theme; only when I noticed WIT over GAS did I go back and look at the other STATES of being and see the MIND references right above. Terrific that they're a perfect match in length.

I was surprised that MOTHER WiT was new to some. Thanks to commenters above for the Shakespeare and Marvell references.

Frantic Sloth 11:51 AM  

Agree with everyone on the absurdity of HOWDEDO. It just got lost in my rage-fog. (Before anyone whines about my whining, hyperbole hyperbole hyperbole!)

@J-Dip 838am Thanks for fixing the link! And 159am "Mined over Matter" is a waaaay better theme!

@GILL 1103am I had the opposite reaction imagining what FURIKAKE sounded like. I'll try to dress it up in more "mature" apparel: Hirsute excrement

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Ok Mohair,
Howdy Doody was once in my kitchen. The late great model maker Jack Nelson was commissioned by the Network to freshen up Howdy for a reboot of the show. Jack was a friend of my father’s and they had both grown up with Howdy and Buffalo Bob and the rest of the gang.

Beezer 12:05 PM  

Had the SE Natick like many others with the FURINAKE/NATE/TUNTUN but I thought the puzzle was a ton of fun.

Filled in SUNDAE grumbling at the “dish” clue until I realized that I had an ice cream SODA in my mind as I grumbled.

Like @Gill, I wanted PREGNANTPAUSE. I also had LIQUIDFAST before DIET.

Yeah. HOWDEDO might be right as rain (and inferable from BARONET but I’ll stick with HOWDYDO (for the multitude of times I actually write it out, har!)

I had lunch with Jesus 12:10 PM  

@Mohair Sam and 11:53

Hold my beer.

egsforbreakfast 12:16 PM  

Speaking of being woke, shouldn’t we substitute African Americani for NEGRONI?

My father died, but fortunately he left my MOTHERWIT AMPLE ASSETS.

I loved this puzzle, but then I’ve ridden in many a TUKTUK and eaten plenty of FURIKAKE, so I didn’t have the SE corner blues that seem to have hit so many of our comrades.

Thanks for a very fun solve, Aimee Lucido and Ella Dershowitz.

Marion 12:16 PM  

Mother wit is a common expression in among Blacks and in the South. As an adult who grew up in racially diverse Philly it was an easy one for me. Check the citations. Vernon Jordan used it in talking to Pres. Clinton.

What the...? 12:17 PM  

@Rube, “auto” and “Otto” sound exactly alike. As do the sounds in “law” and “lotto”. I too wanted the primordial stuff to be “ooze”. Never heard of “ylem”. Learn something new. I liked it. Got it in 21, couple minutes slower than my best. Thanks for the great puzzle!

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

Oh FFS, Gilbert And Sullivan we’re making fun of the English in the Mikado, that was G@&S did: satire. And it was England that was the object of their barbs. Sheesh. Must be tough to go through life woke and dumb.

Howdy Duty 12:38 PM  

Did you ever notice that you never saw Clarabell and Capt. Kangaroo together?

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

I think there's a relationship between LOADED nachos and GAS GIANT.

oceanjeremy 12:49 PM  

The theme was so disappointing / sparse / thin / weak that, in this household, we felt it would’ve been more enjoyable if it just ran as a themeless. 8 small words that are just *parts* of answers in four little sections? Of a grid this size? Why even bother?

And too many irritants. I grew up in Texas and can confirm the correct spelling is “HOWDY DO.” HOWDEDO is an abomination.

STANDTO also vexed. Latin TIN crossed with obscure TLA (AQI) also annoyed. There are several spots on the grid I circled and said “This is bad, bad… should’ve been reworked.”

And MOTHER WIT is just stupid. No enjoyment there.

We love FURIKAKE in this household — we feed salmon furikake to the cat as a treat he goes absolutely bananas for, and sometimes we get sushi rice to make tomago kake gohan for breakfast (though the priest at my Buddhist temple, from Japan, tells me that it’s just called “tomago gohan”). Tomago gohan needs furikake and a touch of hondashi. Delicious stuff. So we were stoked to see FURIKAKE.

Also color us nerds — MAY THE FOURTH delighted. Though we’re not Star Wars fans. More into Trek than Wars.

girl who watched lots of tv 12:49 PM  

@Mohair Sam: I don't know if I'm more jealous that you met Clarabell, or more jealous that you met Captain Kangaroo....even if you didn't know it yet.

Joseph Michael 12:50 PM  

Not up on my nail polish brands, Japanese condiments, or Jovian planets, so this puzzle and I did not get along well, though I have really liked the work of these constructors in the past. Had no idea what the theme was until I finally got to the revealer but by that time I didn’t care. Still trying to get the image of eating a BOAR out of my head. I guess humans will try to eat just about anything.

Wonder what that lonely ON TOP OF is doing all by itself. Seems like it wants to be part of the theme, but all it’s got under it is ANG Lee making his twelve thousandth appearance in the grid.

Wanted the Internet meme to be “Yo Mama” instead of “Yo DAWG” and got MOTHER WIT, which I have never heard of, as a consolation prize. UGH. That center section of the grid was a BOAR indeed.

Got a chuckle out of MAY THE FOURTH, but all in all this puzzle left me wanting to put my PATOOTIE in a TUKTUK and go elsewhere.

burtonkd 1:05 PM  

@Nancy - I agree with what you say about the Mikado in terms of wit, joy, quality music, etc. (and provided the link) - these are all reasons why this and other G&S works are still being done. This particular number probably doesn't have anything to make you cringe once you ignore the costumes. Nonetheless, this and other works like Madame Butterfly are being re-examined for portraying Asian cultures in broad stereotypes, even though their primary target is Victorian England. Here is a recent New Yorker article about the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Society production being pulled, for instance.

Unknown 1:12 PM  

Tuktuk? Easy-peasy. I've traveled in Asia. Furikake? I've used it in cooking. Jovian planets? A common expression in astronomy circles.

But howdedo??? Well, I guess. Why is it, however, that I've never heard the expression pregnancy brain? And I have three children...Mother wit, however, yes.

Mohair Sam 1:16 PM  

@Anon (11:53)- I'm humbled.

Old guy in Idaho 1:17 PM  

Calling BS on “howdedo”.
Not ever a correct form.

JD 1:33 PM  

Re. Howdedo, I think it might be slang from the 1930s.

noun: how-de-do
a greeting.
an awkward, messy, or annoying situation.
"a fine how-do-you-do that would be!"

johnk 1:39 PM  


jazzmanchgo 1:42 PM  

"Mother Wit" is actually a common term in the Black community, especially in the South. The late, great soul singer Betty Wright actually released an album with that title:


. . . and several jazz musicians have used it as a song title, to invoke roots and cultural heritage:



. . . I'm a little surprised so few people here have heard of the term.

TAB2TAB 1:52 PM  

As a newer solver, I've been stumped by PPP more than once due to my distinct lack of knowledge of Norse mythology, extinct birds, Ukranian rivers, etc. What Rex and others rate as an "Easy" solve often seems anything but, and PPP is usually the problem. Having been to Thailand, I happened to know TUKTUK and the SE provided no resistance today. A single answer has the capacity to completely alter the puzzle solving experience.

It seems to me that PPP will always decrease the consistency of the solver base experience. A constructor seeking to maximize the enjoyment of all solvers will avoid PPP when possible.

old timer 1:55 PM  

Has anyone noticed the glaring error here? A BARONET is not a nobleman, in the generally accepted sense of a peer entitled to sit in the House of Lords. BARONETS are, essentially, hereditary knights, entitled to sit in the House of Commons, and to be addressed as "Sir". The most famous historical example is Sir Robert Peel, who was Prime Minister more than once, leader of the Tory Party (now the Conservative Party).

You may also remember Sir Walter Elliot, the father in Jane Austen's last and best novel, Persuasion. His favorite reading was the Baronetage, a biography of all the extant baronetcies. While he would have been happy of one of his daughters had married a peer, one gets the impression that Sir Walter believed the families who inherited baronetcies were in many ways superior to earls and dukes, in that they better represented the gentlemen of the English countryside.

GILL I. 1:58 PM  

@Joseph Michael 12:50....
My dad use to hunt wild boar in Argentina. He was a staunch believer that if you killed an animal you better darn well eat it. My step-mom would cook anything he brought home and all of it delicious. Wild boar is insanely delicious. It's a lot leaner than our pigs and low in cholesterol. If I could just walk into my local butcher and order it, I would. But....color me SALMON, I had no idea what ragu al cinghiale is. Now I know....

@Frantic...If FURIKAKE was spelled furikaka, I'd tip-toe with you through some tulips... :-)

jberg 2:07 PM  

I try not to do Sundays, but I noticed who the constructors were and decided to do this one. Not their best work, but I still enjoyed it -- and it was fun figuring out what the theme answers were after the fact.

Never been to Thailand, but I think they're called the same thing in Guatemala, where I've ridden one twice. Good thing, because I couldn't remember what FURIKAKE were called. I've eaten them -- at least, if they're the little flakes that start to wave back and forth, as if they were alive, after you sprinkle them on your food.

I'm old enough to remember when the "Mikado" had the n-word as one of the items in the little list; it's since been changed to "banjo."

I did know YLEM -- always been fascinated by cosmology. The problem is, it's arguably a state of matter, so it should either be part of the theme or not in the puzzle. (I don't think RESU is another word for mind.)

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

No joy in this solve. Felt like a Monday the fill was so easy. The theme was uninspired. I prefer puzzles that are clever and that have clues that aren’t so obvious that I feel like I’m just filling in the blanks.

Joseph Michael 2:35 PM  

@GILL 1:58pm, I'll take your word for it about the BOAR and I agree with your dad's sentiment about eating what you kill. I get around the whole thing by not killing any BOAR.

SALMON, however, is another story..

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

Don't be. You're still kicking. Poor Jack is dead.

Georgia 2:57 PM  

Yes! The crosses were clear, but ylem is not in my vocab.

Huh? 2:57 PM  

I’m surprised “tuk-tuk” stumped so many. Even if you haven’t been to SE Asia, if you’ve ever watched Amazing Race…or watched anything set there... tuk-tuks are ubiquitous, and have been for 40 years at least. (In India they’re called “auto-rickshaws,” “auto-ricks”, or just “autos.”)

I loved this puzzle (though as a themeless); thought it provided just enough resistance, across a wide range of trivia-fields, with nothing really uninferrable.. Hardest part for me was dead center, as I don’t know rappers (xzibit who?) or planet stuff (had ___giants) for a while.

Marty 3:01 PM  

This puzzle annoyed me. Clever theme, but when an answer is “off” I get irritated. SEO/search engine optimization is not a metric. The metric would be the results, perhaps how the SEO performed.

Nancy 3:11 PM  

"Insanely delicious." What a great way to describe wild boar, @GILL! And how much I envy you for having had so many opportunities to eat it.

I had one such opportunity and I completely muffed it. Or rather I muffed 3/4ths of it. Or 5/6ths of it. I can't remember how many of us were at that large round table, who we all were, or what the restaurant was. But I'm pretty sure we were in Milan.

It was a restaurant famed for its wild game. And of all the dishes on the menu -- pheasant, venison, squab and boar -- who knew what to choose. So we ordered them all and then shared them.

They were all quite lovely -- but when I tasted the boar, tears came to my eyes. I have never tasted anything so insanely delicious before or since. Unfortunately, my share was little more than three forkfuls. Imagine regretting that you "only" have the pheasant and the venison left on your plate. I should have ordered the wild boar entree all to myself -- hell, I should have ordered two boars! Because I've been looking and looking and looking for decades and I have never seen boar on any menu. Very occasionally venison, very occasionally pheasant -- but never boar. Sob. You are so lucky, @GILL!

RandomThoughts 3:15 PM  

So did I.

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

@Frantic Sloth:
I knew there was a kind of taxi with a name that reminded me of something else in English...so...TUt TUt was it for the longest time.

In Port Au Prince, one of the 'transports' is called a tap-tap, brightly painted vehicles, usually a Toyota-sized pickup with a bed cap. Well, at least back in the 80s; wouldn't chance going there today.

Most of the GAS GIANTS are also ice GIANTS. Damn.

FURIKAKE is just too close to a vewy, vewy naughty word. Won't say which, naturally.

@Howdy Duty:
There were a bunch of Clarabells, but only one Capt. Roo.

Maybe . . . 3:34 PM  

Sam, I, too, was once in the Peanut Gallery, probably around 1956 or so. It was fascinating to me as a regular young viewer, from the Philadelphia area. Still remember learning how marionettes work vividly.

GILL I. 3:37 PM  

@Nancy 3:11...Now you've got my loins salivating once again. I think I might order a BOAR loin just to placate my inner desire to yummynicious my way through a dinner.
I'm sure if you Google "were can I get the most delicious wild Boar in NYC" you'd find a few restaurants that serve it. Take @JC66, @J Dip and any others in your neighborhood; have a pinot with it and I will be there with you in spirit......

PS. I got my booster shot this morning and once again, all I crave is a bison hamburger......

Beezer 3:44 PM  

@Joseph Michael…for nail polish brands in xwords, just remember ESSIE and OPI. They are BOTH in xwords.

JC66 3:57 PM  


Dinner with @Nancy & @Joe D would be anything but a bore. (Sorry. It's the truth and I couldn't resist).

BTW 4:38 PM  


Bob Keeshan was the first of three Clarabells and the only Captain Kangaroo.

stephanie 4:41 PM  

compared to the absolute slogs of recent sundays for me, this was a vast improvement, if a bit too easy. (i'm greedy, i like to get a lot of time out of a sunday.) the theme was nice, although i agree i don't know what the hell MOTHER WIT is, so that one was a bit of a dud.

i'm also suspect of HOWDE-DO, i had HOWDY DO, which was just fine. alas, BARONYT wasn't a thing. HOWDEE-DO would've been good, too. but i don't pretend to be any kind of authority on old timey cowboy slang or what have you.

i enjoy TAZO tea very much. i drink the "passion" variety, iced, topped off with a bit of lemonade all summer long. the chai and earl grey varieties are also very nice.

not much else to report, except that today's ARLO guthrie clue was nicer than usual, because it's almost thanksgiving and that means listening to alice's restaurant at least a few times while cooking the feast and/or driving to gramma's. fond memories and tradition that persists. i really like waiting for the chorus to come around again on the gi-tar. an early happy holidays to all.

Z 4:50 PM  

Rex Tweets about the SE corner.

stephanie 4:59 PM  

@Mohair Sam STEW would have been good. me, i went for OOZE. YLEM was...well, thank glob for the crosses there.

stephanie 5:08 PM  

@GILL I. PREGNANCY BRAIN gave me a bit of a pause because around here we call it BABY BRAIN.

FURIKAKE is delicious IF you like seaweed, which i do. i have a shaker of furikake in the pantry. good on rice, in ramen or other NOODLE-y things, and i really like to make furikake fries too. it's basically seaweed confetti with sesame seeds.

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

Nope. Auto as in " awe toe"
Otto = "ah toe"
Not at all the same.

CT2NAPA 5:33 PM  


The Epic Trickster in American Literature
From Sunjata to So(u)l
By Gregory E. Rutledge · 2013


“Mother Wit,” as folklorist Alan Dundes recognized, is the rubric for the whole range of African-American folkloric expression. Indeed, according to Dundes, “Mother wit is a popular term in black speech referring to common sense.

What the...? 5:54 PM  

Anonymous @ 5:23. Yep. Your examples sound exactly the same.

Not A Smurf 6:23 PM  

Also had nATE DiCamillo in a tUNtUN.

GILL I. 6:38 PM  

@Stephanie 5:08. Because I'm curious and because I actually love Japanese food, I looked up that FURIKAKE thingie. It has all the ingredients I don't particularly like: Sesame seeds, soy sauce and bonito flakes...to name a few. I guess it can be made different ways. I'm a "give me Sashimi with nothing on it" type of girl.

Joe Dipinto 7:18 PM  

@Nancy – there's a restaurant called Henry's End in Brooklyn Heights that has wild game on its menu during the fall and winter months. Wild boar is not on the current menu, but I'm pretty sure they've had it in the past, though I never tried it.

You can find pasta (usually pappardelle) with wild boar ragù at quite a few restaurants.

pabloinnh 7:52 PM  

I'll let you all know when the wild game supper resumes in Bradford, VT, which is not far away.

Wild boar of course, but the menu also includes bear, moose, buffalo, elk, rabbit, venison, and pheasant.

Seating is limited so get your requests in early.

Joe Dipinto 9:05 PM  

@Joseph Michael 12:52 – good catch on the lonely ON TOP OF. Yeah, that is weird. Actually it looks like


like Ang Lee was sitting home watching one of his movies and his giant screen TV fell off its mounting and pinned him underneath. I hope he's okay.

GILL I. 9:40 PM  

@Joe Dip...So I got curious about NYC eateries and who might have wild BOAR on the menu. There are several but it seems most are for hamburgers. Then I read the reviews....(sigh). San Marzano on 2nd avenue carries it on their menus but Lordy Mighty...not too many people are happy with the service. I think we all may have to hop on a bus and go visit @pablito somewhere in VT.....I'll bring my bib.

Crime Scene Investigator 9:46 PM  

It's worse than an accident:


This was deliberate: the puzzle murdered Mr. Lee!

stephanie 10:28 PM  

@anon 5:23pm these clues always depend on regional dialect which is why they are unfavorable with some. as a rhode islander which is kind of a mashup of new york & boston accents, the words sound only barely different to me, not enough to nitpick, but i can see how others would feel differently. also this was one of the few simpsons characters i still remember so it didn't factor in to the clue too much for me.

stephanie 10:31 PM  

@GILL I. my partner is the same way! he was repulsed by furikake. (he tried to say it was "alright" and just "not for him" but when you've known someone awhile...you can see right through such niceties lol!)

Unknown 10:38 PM  

Surprised Rex didn’t know that Jove is the same as Jupiter…

Suzy 10:40 PM  

Agreed! (SE. was really tough, but some part of a puzzle should be, right?)

josephxbrick 11:41 PM  

I always laugh when Will tries to justify a completely obscure proper noun by citing awards won or other measures of importance. Sorry, but children's fiction is not on everyone's radar, no matter how bedazzled with medals an author is, So maybe don't drop one into a three-way Natick.

TTrimble 11:50 PM  

I wouldn't agree with anyone who rates it "easy"; anyone who rates it that seems a bit show-offy. (Same with yesterday.) Favorite word is YLEM which I've known since forever, being a weird-word collector since my teens. Actually it's related to the Greek root xyle-* for "wood" (cf. xylophone among other things). YLEM and yclept and let's not forget yttrium, and there are a few others connected with the Swedish town Ytterby.

NINTHS as clued looks barely acceptable. Linguists: is "ninth" as in bottom of the ninth a synecdoche? (God that's a hard word to spell.) Maybe better here would be "musical intervals".

LIQUID DIET: not to be confused with "liquid lunch".

Agree with the majority re HOWDE-DO, but recall also the meaning of howdy-do given by a menacing Michael Shannon as Strickland in The Shape of Water, where he refers to an electric cattle prod as an "Alabama howdy-do". Howdy-do to you too.

That little TUKTUK tucked in the corner there -- maybe I was lucky, 'cause that sure does have a lot of Natick potential. So does ANG crossing RPG (bleah).

PATOOTIE isn't baby talk. "Pain in the patoot" seems more reminiscent of Colonel Potter from M*A*S*H or some such.

Gotta love the commentariat sometimes. Especially loved hearing about MOTHER WIT, with the comment by @CT2NAPA a crowning moment.

Elsewhere: I don't recall reading any comments on the Variety puzzle by Alex Eaton-Salners, which, wow! That was fun, and it must have taken some effort to construct.

Am feeling slightly disappointed in myself for not getting the last word of today's SB. Only 5 letters. Food-related. Dammit! On the other hand, was very surprised to see a term that I thought belonged only to mathematician slang, or mostly so. Pleasantly surprised, mind you. Who else says that, and in what context?

Cyrus 10:40 AM  

I loved mother wit, as obscure as that phrase may seem, and I believe it's a phrase worth sprinkling into conversation more often. Just today, I encountered the words in Dorothy Sayers' 1926 Peter Wimsey detective novel "Clouds of Witness."
Wimsey's mom, the Duchess of Denver, has figured out a little piece of the mystery he's trying to unravel, and after Wimsey compliments her, she says, "I'm an old-fashioned woman and I call it mother-wit, and it's so rare for a man to have it that if he does you write a book about him and call him Sherlock Holmes."

Unknown 3:08 PM  

Never heard of mother wit or the spelling of Howdedo...got them bc of other words but really?

kitshef 5:13 PM  

Well, I thought the theme was fantastic (I seem to be agreeing with bocamp a lot recently).

Pronunciation again. OTTO/auto, no no no. n

Never heard of FURIKAKE (if it's Japanese and food-related, it is a near certainty I've not heard of it), but TUKTUK bailed me out.

spacecraft 11:04 AM  

DNF. Too many unknowns in the SE. The Japanese thing, etc. Naticks by the score.

Burma Shave 2:56 PM  


MAY get ROSIE in THE mood:


sonata movement 3:11 PM  

UGH is right. Why did I bother to finish? Theme idea is OK but at the cost of terrible short fill ERY EAN ONT AFR VOL LOL AQI SEO ONEG ANIN ITD and others.
TENPM may be primetime on the East Coast, not here in the Central Time Zone.
ANYA T-J, yeah baby.
Probably finished only due to the presence of RONDO.

Diana, LIW 6:16 PM  

Oh come on. Who really cares about "short fill." (Yeah, Rondo, I know you really, really do.)

What I care about is the Natick of a Thai taxi, a Japanese spice(?), and the name of a kid's author that - you guessed it - I never heard of.


The rest? Just fine.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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