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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Constructor: Jacob McDermott

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: POWER COUPLE (36A: Beyoncé and Jay Z, e.g. … or a hint to 17-, 30-, 44- and 61-Across) — both words in two-word phrases can precede "power" in a common word or phrase … I think:

Theme answers:
  • SUPERSTAR (17A: Luminary among luminaries)
  • FULL STEAM (30A: Flat out)
  • HIGH HORSE (44A: Snooty attitude)
  • MUSCLEMAN (61A: Bodybuilder, for one)
Word of the Day: KIGALI (50D: Capital of Rwanda) —
Kigali, with population of almost 1 million (2009), is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is situated near the geographic centre of the nation. The city has been the economic, cultural, and transport hub of Rwanda since it became capital at independence in 1962. The main residence and offices of the President of Rwanda are located in the city, as are the government ministries. The city is coterminous with the province of Kigali City, which was enlarged in January 2006, as part of local government reorganisation in the country. The city's urban area covers about 70% of the municipal boundaries. (wikipedia)
• • •

First, Jay-Z is hyphenated, so get that straight. (BREAKING: for first time ever, I am wrong)

Second, these powers don't all wash. FULL is about as valid as LOW, in that it is simply a degree of power, not a different power type. And HIGH … I'm still working that out. Is that like "full," in that it is a degree? Because other options are divine (which would be "higher power") or adjectival (which would be "high-powered"). I'm not really sure what "muscle power" is either. I mean, I know what it is, but it's not a phrase I hear. Where's FIRE? BRAIN? I get that "FIRE BRAIN" is not a thing, but in a puzzle like this, all your FIREs need to be in a row. Tight, exact, buyable. These weren't.

Also, KIGALI is a major outlier, fame-wise. It's a world capital, so it's a valid NYT crossword answer, but it's weird on a Tuesday (note: it hasn't been in *any* NYT puzzle in over nine years). If I had to name 100 world capitals, first, I don't know that I could, and second, I wouldn't name KIGALI. I feel like I'm learning of its existence today. I'm happy to know it, but all you have to do is look at the fill in that corner (the terrible, terrible fill in that corner … EPIS!?) to know that the corner could've been much more carefully constructed, much more polished. Either the constructor *really* wanted KIGALI (doubtful), in which case it wasn't worth it, given the fill results; or else KIGALI's just another "good enough" thing that fit, and no one spent any time thinking about it at all. The latter seems much more plausible.

Fill is weak overall. It just is. It's terrible only in the SE, but it's pretty anemic all over. This is the new NYT norm. It just is. But I can tell you now that I'm not going to get used to it. I have to keep saying that it's happening. I know it's tedious to hear, but it's even more tedious to solve. Let's just look at UNCAS. That belongs in no puzzle. Maybe if you've got a tough themeless you're trying to get to work out, OK. But here, on a Tuesday, no. And yet the constructor has virtually no other options, given how he's laid out the grid. U-C-S is set in stone. UNCAS would've been the first non-theme answer he settled on. Switching the 2nd and 4th theme answers would've left you with I-C-A, which is an even more implausible combination to work out. But this is where, as a constructor, you're supposed to redesign the grid, find new theme answers … something. Not just plow ahead because UNCAS is a thing. The whole thing reeks of "good enough." Only it's not. I don't mean to HECKLE. This is not SNARK. This is just a straightforward description of business as usual these days.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Whirred Whacks 12:03 AM  

    Favorite clues:
    "There's one in this cleu" for TYPO.
    "Half an umlaut" for DOT

    I thought the SW 5-letter across stack of:


    was pretty.

    Late thought from Monday's puzzle:
    I very much liked


    as an answer. What was really cool about it was that it's right in the middle of the grid hanging down just like the UVULA in your mouth!

    jae 12:09 AM  

    Medium for me too with out many problems other than some spelling corrections (HASSEL, ELYESE, EPSC...), and I also did not know KIGALI (last letter in was the K).  If it was mentioned in the Don Cheadle movie I must of missed it.

    Reasonable  incantation of the double word theme with a solid reveal, liked it more than Rex did. 

    Steve J 12:27 AM  

    Mixed bag, which seems to be my impression of three-quarters of puzzles lately (whether it's me or the puzzles, who knows; usually it's a bit of both). Some good stuff, like HECKLE, SNARK, NOUGAT, KOOKS, CLAM UP. Good theme phrases overall. Some not-so-good: A theme that I'm not entirely sure works as intended, too many ungainly partials (POR, ASON), a healthy dose of crosswordESE.

    One thing I've been curious about: Why geographic clues seem to be the non-musical category (whether rap or opera) that seems to be most difficult for the group overall. Today it's KIGALI. The other day (spoiler alert, even if I'm too lazy to look up which day it was) it was SAHEL. I know everyone has different fortes, and geography happens to be one of my wheelhouses (I filled in both examples uncrossed, whereas I need many crosses for nearly all opera answers and many chemistry ones), but that strikes me as an interesting oddity in a group with pretty broad knowledge. (Or maybe it just jumps out at me as being unusual because this happens to be a topic I know well.)

    Anonymous 12:38 AM  

    I've always wondered why UNCAS was the last of the Mohicans. He croaked before his father did, so isn't he the second to last of the Mohicans? And who really knew if old Chingachgook had some fire left in his belly and didn't go and beget another few Mohicans?

    Clark 12:42 AM  

    He is given.
    She is given.
    WHO is given unto us.

    So what gives with the clue for 21A?

    dmw 1:08 AM  

    I wondered about the clue for 21 across also, but couldn't be bothered because the crosses went right in.

    Thanks Rex for figuring out what the theme was--lost on me. First I though something with the double letters (superstar, highhorse, muscleman) but then I got fullsteam and was clueless. Learnof, letoff, clamup, ranlow, letslip, and adsale make for too many whatever these are called among the crossword cognoscenti for my taste.

    Hartley70 1:15 AM  

    I'm giving this an easy. Monday's was more challenging. I liked UNCAS as a clue and don't see the problem even after reading Rex's explanation. KIGALI was the only possible stumbler and while I couldn't have placed it accurately on the continent, it surely was familiar. I liked the idea of POWERCOUPLES but the long crosses were a little obvious, probably just right for a Tuesday though.

    Moly Shu 1:28 AM  

    Going to begrudgingly agree with @Rex. Hope I'm not being influenced by his near constant criticism of "poor fill". Today it was just that. I got KIGALI with no problem, hi @SteveJ. I think the outlier was UNCAS. Never heard of it, never read the book, never seen the movie (I presume there was one). I had iNCAS, a classic piece of crosswordese. Luckily the easy crossings fixed it, but I still said to myself, "self, what in the hell is UNCAS?"

    Well, I did like the clue for SOCKS and a cribbage clue. Oh, and I also like NOUGAT, yummy.

    chefwen 1:48 AM  

    How can you not like a puzzle that has ANAL retentive and SNARK on the top? That sparked my interest right away.

    Only hang up was in the SE 48A feet/toes to few letters, AH SOCKS to put on those little feet, got it. Had shut UP before CLAM UP and KIGALI was a guessing game for this geographically, challenged person.

    I'm with @Hartley70, think Monday and Tuesday were switched.

    When I was in the baking business back on the Mainland, OREO Cheesecakes were the most frequently ordered item, out of the 20+ cheesecakes that were on my Carte.

    Loren Muse Smith 4:22 AM  

    I think KIGALI was in some other recent puzzle because that one went right in off the KI. That KIGALI/AGA cross could be tough for early-week solvers.

    @Clark, @dmw - I stared at the clue for A SON, too, but didn't linger. Good point. I've pondered this one many times. In "Who was hurt?" the subject really is deep down the semantic object.

    Loved the clues for SPANKS, SOCKS (hey, @Moly Shu), and DOT (hey, @Whirred Whacks)

    We've established here an appreciation of the word "petulant." Too bad it doesn't have a verb form. 'Uncas, dear, if you're going to petulate, just go to your room."

    @jae – I got ELYSEE on the first try, but HASSLE and EASEL always make me pause. Yes. EASEL.

    How 'bout HASSLE right next to


    And IDYLL crossing ODE - nice.

    I always get a kick out of themes like this, where both halves work with a word. Perfect reveal! Thanks, Jacob – I liked it!

    GILL I. 5:08 AM  

    Unto Us is Born A SON is a Christmas Carol. Maybe you have to be an EPIS to get that one.
    I love SNARK but today I have none. This played a la hard for me today. RUTTY took the PELOSI out of me but I did like CLAM UP slinking next to SPANKS.
    If it's not Erato, then it must be CLIO the PISTOL.

    Charles Flaster 5:14 AM  

    Easy but one mistake .Power double for POWER COUPLE.
    Agree with Rex on theme.
    Liked DOT and SNARK.
    Thanks JM

    Anonymous 6:42 AM  

    Easy for choral singers. Handel's Messiah: "For unto us A SON is given."

    Unknown 7:23 AM  

    I liked this one. Almost went to KIGALI for a friend's wedding last summer: a lovely city tucked among green hills. UNCAS has been in my mind since reading the LOTM classic comic many years ago. The "unto us" clue was weird - why not just "unto us _____ is given"? But since I'm rehearsing Messiah right now it filled in easily. Not wild about the blah two word answers like LETOFF, LEARNOF and ITSEASY, but most of the downs were strong and Tuesdayesque and SPANKS was fun.

    Anonymous 7:37 AM  

    The problem ASON for me was not the content of the clue, but the grammatical error of using "whom" where actually referring to the subject. It was confusing to me at first--my first thought was ASON, but I did not put it, as I got stuck on the "whom," which of course, refers to "us" not to the son. I know I was overthinking it, but it is a silly error and the Times should know better.

    I have no problem with people using "who" instead of "whom," because that is how we talk. But to deliberately use "whom," and to use it incorrectly at that, grinds my gears. That's all.

    Lewis 7:52 AM  
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    Lewis 7:54 AM  

    I'm with @stevej -- mixed bag. I liked the clue for EASEL, and I liked the answers HIGHHORSE, HECKLE, and CLAMUP. I love the look of UNCAS but never heard of it; I'm impressed with the former poster who knew UNCAS had a father who survived him. The rebel in me likes that the UP in CLAMUP is down. I like the WAG/SCRAPS crossing, reminds me of my dog. And I like the column beginning with POR -- our language column of Spanish, Latin, and French.

    I'm with Rex on the iffiness of "high power", "muscle power", and "full power".

    What I want most from a puzzle is a mental workout without feeling drudgery, and this had enough spark to do that, so thank you, Jacob!

    John Child 7:56 AM  

    Oh Rex, there you go again. I loved this puzzle - strong and fun with, IMO, no crap. I never saw UNCAS a because it filled in from crosses, but it's entirely fair, if tough for a Tuesday. KIGALI too, though I skipped it at first because I remembered it as Ki(l)gali.

    This is the second excellent puzzle this week. Perhaps we are for a run of good puzzles to compensate for the poor ones last week.

    SNARK, SPANKS, HECKLE and HASSLE. The double letter pair of IDYLL over MELEE. First rate in my opinion. Thanks Mr. McDermott!

    Dorothy Biggs 7:56 AM  

    First, having been around some Episcopalians recently, I can't speak for all of them, but most of the ones I know do not consider themselves "Protestants" They are, in their words, "Anglo-Catholic," which is to say, they are somewhere in the no-man's land of Christian denominations. Having music directed in a Lutheran Church and an Episcopal Church, I must say I get what they are saying. Episcopalians are liturgically indistinguishable from RCs and all that is really missing are the RC sacraments.

    As I understand it, from my Bible College days, Protestants are from a direct line of Martin Luther, Jean Calvin, and a few others. Henry VIII was not necessarily associated with any of them and basically just had it in for the pope. So while the Anglican/Episcopal denomination is, by definition "protestant" in that they are not Catholic/Orthodox/Coptic, they are not technically protestant in the same way the rest of the protestant denominations are.

    Speaking of religion, "Whom unto us is given" seemed to me to say, "To whom a son is given," which is, of course...um...us, I guess. The son, in this case, should be a "Who" right? If my German grammar memory serves me, "whom" is dative and answers "to whom" or "for whom." The son, in this case, is the object.

    I could be being a bit ANAL here about the Episcopal/protestant thing and the grammar of "whom..." Meh.

    OREO seems to have become the sandwich cookie of choice for the NYT. Poor Hydrox. They were the first and yet somehow, OREO gets the nod.

    Had dUsTY before RUTTY. Hawaii's Maunas always get me...LOA? keA?

    Liked WNET...

    Lewis 8:06 AM  

    Factoid: One kind of TYPO—informally called an "atomic typo"—is a typo that happens to result in a correctly spelled word that is different from the intended one, and since it is spelled correctly, the spellchecker cannot find the mistake. Examples include "unclear" instead of "nuclear", "sedan" instead of "Sudan", and "the" instead of "they". The term was coined in 2002 by Palm Beach Post editor C. F. Hanif. (Wikipedia)

    Quotoid: "Every once in a while, someone will mail me a single popcorn kernel that didn't POP. I'll get out a fresh kernel, tape it to a piece of paper and mail it back to them." -- Orville Redenbacher

    noone 8:12 AM  

    Wow! This was one of the easiest ever. I filled in most of the SW without even reading the clues. Some I had to check back just because they seemed too easy. (CAPABLE, FULL STEAM, LEARNOF,CLAMUP,ITSEASY, HIGHHORSE, and the ubiquitous OREO).
    Kigali was certainly in the news when the Hutus etc were murdering one another.

    AliasZ 8:12 AM  

    Who is given unto us? A SON.
    Unto whom is A SON given? Unto us.

    Wow! Am I reading this right? Is it a TYPO? Maybe, maybe not. I expect such sloppiness from rap "artists" but not Will Shortz.

    I had so many other nifty things to write about today's puzzle but my brain is stuck on A SON "whom" is given unto us. I am speechless. Cannot get past it. To me it's as annoying as Robert Shaw in "Jaws" running his nails down the blackboard during the town meeting.

    Musically I could go in many different directions, but we had a couple of LEOS recently: LEOVIII and LEOVI. Therefore the choice is obvious: Czech composer LEOŠ Janáček (1854-1928). First, here is the fifth movement (Adagio) of his IDYLL for string orchestra, but I strongly urge you to also check out the moving finale of Sinfonietta, his best known and most popular work.

    May we never see a grammatical error like this again in the Gray Lady.

    Dorothy Biggs 8:16 AM  

    One last thing...I would have liked to have seen a "TYPO" somewhere else in the puzzle and had the clue be something like, "There's one in this puzzle."

    Intentionally misspelling a word is not a typo, IMO.

    Dorothy Biggs 8:16 AM  
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    Unknown 8:24 AM  

    Glad to see KIGALI make the cut. Something fresh, not the same old tired ANON or AMATI or PSST.

    Anonymous 8:28 AM  

    Is anyone else noticing how often "anal" is appearing in the puzzle? Ew

    Mohair Sam 8:30 AM  

    Medium Tuesday for us, and we enjoyed.

    Disagree with @Rex on his complaint about the theme. To be part of this theme a "power" word need only be part of a common phrase, imo - Rex's rules about degree or type of "power" seem arbitrary. On the other hand I do see his quibble with "HIGH."

    Big Cooper fan here, even visited his museum in Cooperstown. Insulted by the slam on poor old UNCAS, a gimme here. Maybe Rex could pretend UNCAS is in Brit-lit and we'd be fine.

    Framinghamed at the "D" in BEDE and DOT. Wife remembered what an umlaut was and saved the day. Lots of English majors here I guess, nobody else has mentioned that cross.

    mac 8:36 AM  

    Easy Tuesday. I usually like this sort of theme, but there were some weaker brothers among the couples.

    I don't think I've ever seen Kigali, and I like geography. I guess I'm better at European rivers. No problem, though, the crosses took care of it.

    AnnieD 8:43 AM  

    I too found today's puzzle much easier than Monday's. I too quibble with the cluing for 21 across...though it didn't cause me much delay, it definitely was awkward. But I left it to Rex to tell me what POWERCOUPLE had to do with the long answers. I didn't care enough to figure it out. High Power bothers me less than Ice(d) tea which always grates.

    Horace S. Patoot 8:52 AM  

    Just a fatuous thought from a couple of the comments. What if a group of carolers sang the Messiah at your doorstep? How long would you let it go on?

    Easily amused.

    RAD2626 8:59 AM  

    Fun puzzle but plenty of stumbling blocks or potential naticks: CLIO/NIN; UNCAS/NIN; KIGALI/AGA. One of them got me. Also had bUmpY before RUTTY which slowed down NE. But good solid puzzle with some clever clues (SOCKS, EASEL, SPANKS).

    Z 9:00 AM  

    Hmmm, I wonder why "in Isaiah" was included in the cleu?

    I also wonder when "good enough" became not good enough?

    @NCA - Thanks. Interesting stuff. You got me wondering if "no man's land" is another way to say "Limbo."

    @Steve J. - the vast majority of humans still die within ten miles of where they were born, even in this age of high mobility. Being aware of geography outside one's sphere is the rarity.

    Two LETs in the puzzle is not right. I read Shortz' weak justification of this type of duplication last week. It is the same word with the same meaning. It adds no puzzle aspect to the solve. Not good enough in my humble opinion.

    Bird 9:05 AM  

    Two crossings made this difficult. Guessed correctly at 34A/31D, but incorrectly at 57A/50D.

    Disagree with Rex about theme. It is intact because all the words are used with POWER. Then again . . .

    The Giants are missing HIGH POWERed offensive and defensive lines.

    However, I'm looking forward to hearing, "FULL POWER Rudolph!"

    RooMonster 9:12 AM  

    Hey All !
    Not too much to say about the puz today, it was meh. Only hold up was KIGALI, as for some reason, I've never heard of it! Had to run the old alphabet for the G, as AGA wouldn't come to me. UNCAS/NIN/CLIO also a tad of a hold up. Had CLeO at first.

    Wasn't EPCOT used recently?

    Not going to LETSLIP ITSEASY, but mediumish. No SNARK WAG.


    jberg 9:14 AM  

    I actually knew that KIGALI was the capital of Rwanda; unfortunately, I also knew that its President is named Paul Kagame, and that M crept across to make it KIGAmI for a while. Fortunately, a bit of SULK saved me from the error. Anyway, I'd never object to a national capital's being in the puzzle -- just as long as I don't have to know if it's NNW from Bujumbura.

    UNCAS, though -- we had to read that book in high school English, so it was a gimme, but I guess they don't teach that anymore. I guess Mark Twain would have thought that was good.

    Yeah, 'whom.' Classic case of whom anxiety, using the word because you know that whiz-bang grammarians use it, but not actually knowing when it should be used.

    But RUTTY, now! Great word, but not for roads -- stags, maybe, or guys. Nice to see it in the puzzle, anyway.

    I, too, didn't understand the theme until I came here -- at first I thought it was just 'vague synonyms for power' even though that didn't work with HORSE.

    People in public health call epidemiologists EPIS, and people with allergies sometimes carry around EPI pens (though I don't know if you can pluralize that one). Both better than Episcopalians.

    OK, enough.

    Anonymous 9:15 AM  

    Z said: "two LETs in the puzzle is not right. I read Shortz' weak justification of this type of duplication last week. It is the same word with the same meaning. It adds no puzzle aspect to the solve. Not good enough in my humble opinion"

    Will has already gone on record here (and in some other forums), stating that he allows this type of duplication from time to time. He always has. I don't mean any disrespect, but you are insisting that he follow your rules, not his.

    Are your rules (that are foliowed more rigorously by some other editors) better? Yeah, maybe. But that's the way it is.


    Cea 9:17 AM  

    I'll take geographic clues over music ones any day. Kigali was a gimme. But that RUTTY/COCOA/SNARK corner. Snark?

    Ludyjynn 9:28 AM  

    Potpourri, olio, medley, jambalaya; you name it, this puzz. had it all-- the good, the bad and the ugly. From tasty NOUGAT to the HASSLE of sussing KIGALI, ITSEASY to either LET the constructor OFF the hook or HECKLE him w/ SNARK. I'm not as ANAL as Rex is about 'fill', so no SPANKS from me.

    Think I'll make a cup of COCOA before venturing outside. I could SULK about the record LOW temps. ad NAUSEum, but I won't.

    Thanks, JM and WS.

    quilter1 9:36 AM  

    Pretty easy for me and didn't last long enough, not even two sips of coffee. Agree with the commenter about Anglo-Catholics not really being Protestant. Otherwise no nits here. This English major thought UNCAS was a gimme.

    Anonymous 9:39 AM  

    The crossing of Anal and Nausea in the NW corner let me know from the start the level at which this puzzle was going to operate.

    OISK 9:40 AM  

    Liked it. Didn't know Kigali, but now I do; I love geographical clues. Uncas is a pretty famous literary reference, certainly fair game. Difficulty was just about right for a Tuesday . No complaints from me!
    (Got a smile from @Jberg's reminder of Mark Twain's opinions about JF Cooper…)

    7d5a9b1 9:44 AM  

    So, unlike yesterday's puzzle, this one wasn't bad enough to be good? I'm all confused.

    chefbea 9:51 AM  

    No time to read all the comments - Have a doctor's appt. Puzzle was too hard for me...didn't get it and DNF. Do love Waldorf salad but had no idea what the capital of Rwanda was.

    Anyone watch dancing with the stars last night??? One of the dancers said "I'm no chick magnet"!!! Never heard that term before yesterday...and twice in one day??

    Anonymous 9:57 AM  

    I'm the constructor of this puzzle and I genuinely thought uncas and Kigali were interesting, relevant pieces of trivia. As a younger and more inexperienced constructor I would attribute any perceived rough spots to be more a factor off my inexperience than any willful laziness. I appreciate that Mr. Shortz gives us new guys a chance, and I think his efforts are helping define the next generation of constructors. You're negative reviews are also helpful, though, as they show us where to focus our attentions on future efforts. I hope this puzzle want too tortuous for all of you (and sorry for any grammatical errors in this post, I'm writing from my phone in the middle of nowhere)!

    Z 9:58 AM  

    @MAS - I'm not "insisting." I'm opining. I can imagine a scenario where duplication adds value. As part of the theme or as added word play. But today we get L-E-T meaning "allow" twice. It's not a part of the theme, it's not an interesting word, and the verb phrases aren't "fresh" (whatever that means). The benefit isn't worth allowing the duplication here. Shortz plays with "the rules" all the time and most of the time I applaud. Just not here. On the other hand, UNCAS, KIGALI, and using "whom" in the clue are all fine by me. Well, to be fair, I didn't bother to look up Isaiah, but I've learned it is better to bet with Shortz than against him when it comes to clues.

    Anonymous 10:05 AM  

    I'm always amused/annoyed at what polar opposites Rex and I are. Things he never heard of are mother's milk to me, and I am totally lost in pop culture where he is at home. But I would never think of blaming the puzzler for my ignorance.

    Today's puzzle was just fine for me - it made me stretch and gave me pleasure.

    Unknown 10:13 AM  

    RuNLOW/uSON. Tense misread + Biblical gotcha *is* the wages of sin *is* death by DNF.

    BTW, could someone please explain how "The wages of sin is death" made it passed the copy editor? TSKTSK.

    Am I going to hell? Yes, yes I am. ;)

    Honeysmom 10:21 AM  

    Surprised nobody mentioned the cute, kinky "spanks" for "hits bottom." A bit too kinky for NYT to include "anal" in same puzzle, yes?

    Steve J 10:26 AM  

    Regarding the great "whom" debate: As tortured as it is as it appears in the clue, it is actually correct.

    The original phrase from the King James: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given"

    It's written in the passive voice, which appears to throw the grammar out of whack. You need to transform the sentence into the active voice in order to suss the grammar that's going on. What we have here is an unnamed actor giving a son to us. The unnamed actor is the subject of the sentence, the son is the object, we're the indirect object. Since "whom" is the accusative form of "who," it is the correct pronoun.

    Written in the active voice, the statement would be along the lines of, "He is giving us a son." If you were to pose this as a question, "He is giving whom to us?" or "Whom is he giving to us?" would both be correct and sound natural to those who regularly use "whom."

    Now, being correct isn't always the primary consideration in language. Being understood - and not sounding awkward in the process - is. IMO, the clue fails despite being grammatically correct.

    @NCA President: There's no dative in English, so looking to German grammar (which one should never do, in my opinion, unless you want a headache) isn't going to be of much help. But you're right that the son is the object. And, thus, gets the "whom" treatment.

    @Z: My geographical wondering was focused on the set of the people who post here, not the whole of humanity. I venture to guess every last person posting here has traveled at least 10 miles away from where they're born (and many, if not most, live further than that distance from their birthplace), and also had at least a few geography lessons in their years of schooling.

    Unknown 10:35 AM  

    I think @Loren's right: KIGALI may not have been a solution for many years, but [Kigali's place], or some such, was a clue for RWANDA just about a month ago or so. Like her, I dropped it in off that recent hint, and, of course, who can forget the Hutu genocide of the Tutsis? It was "Dateline: Kigali" above the fold in the NYT everyday for 3 months in 1994.

    Hartley70 10:37 AM  

    @AnonymousConstructor I LIKED your relevant and interesting trivia, and I really appreciate that you've let us know that you are younger than the majority of us old codgers here. It may explain our crankiness. The ability to cruciverbalize is pretty amazing so kudos to you for today's puzzle!

    @NCAPresident Religion and Politics are perhaps best left at the entry door to the puzzle party. While there are liturgical similarities between Roman Catholics and Episcopalians, Anglo-Catholic is not a moniker I would embrace. The differing stance on societal issues is far too profound.

    Anonymous 11:09 AM  

    I recently played through a couple dozen late week puzzles from '94-'95 thanks to the archive on the NYT site, and I have to say, on average, the fill really is better these days. Maybe not as good as it could be, but definitely improved. The current LA Times puzzles are more like the 20 year-old NYTs, fill-wise.


    Those Who Don't Ignore History 11:11 AM  

    Mr. Parker,
    Tuesday, 17 Nov 2009: ASO, RGS, ENCLS, ARAGE, WIGAN.
    Tuesday, 16 Nov 2004: AGR, EROO, ANIS, NDAK, ERMAS.
    Tuesday, 16 Nov 1999: CAFFE, ENCRE, ALID, IGOT, RONS.


    Arlene 11:13 AM  

    I really couldn't believe that this puzzle started with ANAL-retentive. And then NAUSEA. A pretty dark way to begin.
    I didn't really get the theme until coming here - didn't separate the words - just thought they were somehow related to POWER.
    My favorites - SOCKS and SPANKS.

    And I hadn't thought of NOUGAT since being able to eat Milky Ways without having the scale object immediately.

    Ellen S 11:14 AM  

    Mr McDermott, I enjoyed the puzzle, for what it's worth (typing on a real keyboard on my tablet, so I can spell things out, btw). I'm not persuaded by Steve J's argument that "whom" is correct; it seems to drown me in words without explaining. So, if "whom" is correct, I still don't understand why.

    I'm an atheist Jew, what do I know from Episcopalians? I got the answer from the cleu, that's all that matters. (Heck, I have trouble with the Jewish holidays!)

    Fun Tuesday.

    old timer 11:17 AM  

    Rex often wants to SPANK someone. Right on the EP (iderm) IS.

    Actually, the SE was my favorite little corner, thanks to SPANKS, KIGALI and CLAMUP.

    I fully expected the rating would the "Tuesdayish", but of course that means Medium. Took 10 minutes to solve, same as yesterday, so the Monday puzzle rates as Tuesdayish.

    One thing I don't expect from a Tuesday puzzle is any kind of wow factor in the theme. A Tuesday puzzle in the Times rates as a Friday or Saturday puzzle in a lot of local papers, and those puzzles are rarely artistic or enchanting.

    Anonymous 11:37 AM  

    @Steve J Thanks for clearing up the "whom" question.

    AliasZ 11:42 AM  

    Oh my goodness, let us revisit a little elementary English grammar:

    In the sentence "The Father gives unto us A SON" Father is the subject and SON the object, thus "whom the Father gives unto us" would be correct.

    But this is not how Isaiah wrote it. To quote (KJV): "For unto us a child is born, unto us A SON is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder..."

    In the sentence "unto us A SON is given" SON is the subject, not the object, hence "who" is given, not "whom" is given. The fact that the verb "give" is in the passive voice does not change the subject into an object.

    "Marie Antoinette was executed by guillotine on October 16th, 1793." Would everyone accept a clue for Marie Antoinette in a NYT puzzle that reads: "Whom was executed by guillotine on October 16th, 1793"?

    Norm C. 11:48 AM  

    Knock, knock.

    Whom's there?

    The grammar police. You're under arrest.

    atxorr 11:59 AM  

    I've been lurking in this neighborhood for years now. I've only posted once or twice. Just found out the price for my NYT app is going up from $17 to $40, so I'm going to have to give it up, especially since I have a strong feeling that the constructor pay isn't doubling.

    On a more relevant note, I Naticked at Kigala/Aga. Had to do a rare Tuesday google to complete it.

    Thanks to all. Might see you on some other sites.

    Z 12:02 PM  

    @Alias Z - "The unnamed actor is the subject of the sentence, the son is the object, we're the indirect object." You assert that "the son" is the subject of the sentence. If we accept that the subject is the who or what who performs the action @Steve J is correct. I am open to persuasion, but my bet is still with Shortz being correct.

    To those of you who think this WHOM thing is just some arcane matter of no importance I have a question, "What the hell are you doing here?"

    @Steve J - I omitted, "even among the well travel what we seem to remember best are the places we've been, the things we've seen." I used to think I knew a lot of geography - and relative to the general public I do - but the NYTX still gives me WOEs (that's a "where" this time) all too frequently.

    Tom 12:09 PM  

    I really wanted FULL STEAM to be an alliteration as SUPER STAR, MUSCLE MAN, HIGH HORSE.

    Zeke 12:14 PM  

    @Hartley70 Anglicans are catholic, simply not Catholic as in Roman Catholic. Small "c" catholic means something specific, what that is I don't know. The RCs, Eastern & Russian Orthodox Churches and Anglicans are all small "c" catholic religions. It's simply that the Romans trademarked the name, and declared themselves the one and only church and became capital "C" Catholics.

    The liturgy between all 4 has more than some similarities, they are way far more alike than different. They differ mainly in the things they've made up as rules over the past 15 centuries or so as policies, not liturgy.

    @Steve J - thanks for the "Whom" lecture. I started to write one, but my head started to hurt faster than I could clarify the situation. And, as you said, grammar is a set of quasi-rules intended solely to facilitate clear communication. Hyper-correctness fails in that category. To revert to my religious lecture, its existence isn't for turning plowshares into swords, pointing out where others have sinned.

    Anonymous 12:20 PM  

    If you're going to have a theme, make it tight, as Rex said. Also, don't make three theme answers alliterative and one NOT alliterative.

    Steve J 12:24 PM  

    @AliasZ: You quoted a sentence with two clauses. Different clauses can and often do have different subjects. For example: I didn't read the book; it was too long. One sentence, with I being the subject in the first clause and the book being the subject in the second clause. Just because I was the subject in the first clause doesn't make I the subject of the second clause.

    Such is the case we have here. The unnamed actor is the subject of the first clause, as he is the one doing the giving of a son. The son is indeed the subject of the second clause, but he cannot possibly be the subject of the first. If the son is the subject of the entire thing, as you claim, you end up with the son giving unto us a a son. Someone has to do the giving. And it cannot be - logically or contextually, given the entirety of that passage - the son giving the son.

    AliasZ 12:26 PM  

    @Z, SteveJ, et al.

    "In the active voice, the subject and verb relationship is straightforward: the subject is a be-er or a do-er and the verb moves the sentence along. In the passive voice, the subject of the sentence is neither a do-er or a be-er, but is acted upon by some other agent or by something unnamed." [my emphasis] - from http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/passive.htm

    This is basic English grammar. I am confused as to where the confusion originates. In "unto us a son is given" obviously the passive voice rule applies, as in my Marie Antoinette example, where SON and Marie Antoinette are clearly the subjects. No further analysis needed.

    mathguy 12:36 PM  

    I agree with Rex that the theme was weak. Who says "full power"? Or "high power"? High powered, of course, but not high power. And not enough zip to compensate.

    Liked both of @NCA President's comments. I always thought that Protestant meant Christian and not Catholic. But I just checked the M-W definition and it also requires that a Protestant religion be part of the Reformation movement.

    And the clue for TYPO is incorrect.

    GILL I. 12:37 PM  

    Now I know why English grammar scared the pants off of me.

    Bob Kerfuffle 12:45 PM  

    OK Tuesday, familiar theme, 5 Ks.

    Dammit, @Anonymous 12:38, have you ever heard the words "spoiler alert"? I never read that book, ans someday I might . . . although, after reading that marvelous Mark Twain essay @jberg posted at 9:14, maybe I won't!

    Hartley70 12:54 PM  

    @Zeke "catholic" means universal. Anglo-Catholicism was/is a movement in the Anglican Church starting in 1838 which emphasized the link between the two. It is worth acknowledging that the Episcopal Church in America is NOT the Anglican Church of England. They are part of a worldwide communion but there is no hierarchical authority. I am unaware of an Anglican-Catholic or Episcopal- Catholic movement here. While the Episcopal and Lutheran Churches both retain a liturgical service emanating from Catholic origins, they are both considered and consider themselves to be Protestant denominations...all distaste for Henry put aside. Both Rome and the Orthodox Churches acknowledge the apostolic succession in the Anglican communion, but they are not about to become one happy family. I did say I wasn't going to talk about religion, right? I think my next conversation will be with my minister!

    Anonymous 12:55 PM  

    @Bob Kerfuffle - Old Yeller dies. So there. Do does The Red Pony. Nell dies too.

    A Ju Dicant 1:06 PM  

    Anyway, 'We' aren't the 'Us' to whom A SON was given.

    LaneB 1:12 PM  

    A bit of trouble in the NE what with SNARK and RUTTY in the mix, but the rest went pretty smoothly leaving me with an enjoyable [synonymous with successful] Tuesday. A nice complement to what I hope is a decent round of golf this P.M.

    Barklestork 1:22 PM  

    @Z regarding your post at 12:02 you said "If we accept that the subject is the who or what who performs the action @Steve J is correct." And then you have a link in your post which you incompletely quote! The full quote should also include: the subject is “what the sentence is about”. It doesn't have to be a "doer" of "action". So not even the "source" you link is agreeing with your incomplete suggestion.

    The fact is that AliasZ is the one who's correct in all of this.

    wreck 1:30 PM  

    I think we all need to strive for gooder English.

    Bob Kerfuffle 1:32 PM  

    @Anonymous, 12:55 PM - I've heard that Oscar Wilde said, "One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears...of laughter."

    Steve J 1:37 PM  

    @AliasZ: Digging a little deeper, I've indeed overthought this one. I made the common mistake of conflating the actor with the grammatical subject. There's definitely an implied actor who is not the son. But that's irrelevant to the syntactical rules for passive voice. While typically so, actor and subject are not automatically synonymous. Mea culpa.

    (And this stuff isn't as basic or elementary as you state. I found several discussions online on this point where people who know their stuff were similarly sidetracked.)

    Synopsis: NYT's use of "whom" for 21A's clue wasn't correct. Nor was I.

    Leapfinger 2:02 PM  

    How can you not love a NW start that combines Freudian ANALysis with NAUSEA by Sartre? Oh, real elegance... It borders on the DALIesque! I may be easily pleased, especially with the promise of NOUGAT. It would have pleased me even more if IDYLL had been in the MIDYLL. Perhaps only Canadians and Brits will see why I say that.

    UNCAS is what Huey, Louie and Dewey would've had, had Donald had a brother. (Hmm, seems I'd had had it there...) Knew that KIGALI was not going to be KInshasa, but needed a couple more crosses. Was curious about that large body of water between Rwanda and the Congo to the west, so looked it up: it's Lake Kiva, which may be useful to know at some future time. You're welcome.

    re @Rex's complaint about the missing -ed suffix in some theme entries: how often do we hear people talking about 'ice tea'? Well then...

    POP goes the EASEL!
    We seem to be running the gamut of religions with today's hint at MUSSLEMAN, a former term for Muslim.

    @ludyjynn, I was very taken with your IVANS/ IVINS connection last night. I still enjoy dipping into her old articles; the lady holds up well.

    OK, it's Time to pull up the SOCKS

    Z 2:03 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Anonymous 2:08 PM  

    Trouble with UNCAS?

    Wait till you get Natty "RUTTY" Bumppo.

    More JFC

    Z 2:10 PM  

    @Barklestork - if you're going to call me wrong you could at least be right - or did that "or" slip past you?

    The advice I see is to use he/him as a substitute:

    For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.
    For unto us a child is born, unto us he is given.
    For unto us a child is born, unto us him is given.

    Yep, @Alias Z is correct, Will Shortz let one through, Civilization has been preserved for another day. Who is going to tell Shortz?

    And just in case you doubt @Steve J about others being sidetracked - there's this from the XKCD forum

    @Hartley70 - Is/was Anglo-Catholicsm related to antidisestablishmentarianism? I've always had a certain level of respect for a movement that goes with a 12 syllable name. I bet they wouldn't have clued 21A incorrectly.

    **Sorry about the double post- I failed to close a link and blogger deleted a chunk of my comment as punishment.**

    Hartley70 2:32 PM  

    @Z That's my kind of club. Multisyllabics rule! Sign me up!

    Anna Gnostic 2:35 PM  

    Too much religion, whomever is posting it.

    Virginia 2:44 PM  

    @AnonymousConstructor, thanks for stopping in and giving your perspective! I found this puzzle relatively challenging for a Tuesday, but enjoyably so. Was not able to dredge UNCAS or KIGALI from the recesses of my memory, but I recognized them when I got them from crosses, so it's all good. I totally disagree with Rex about the theme -- there's nothing the least bit off or obscure about any of the POWER phrases. However, the misuse of "whom" in the clue is a big issue for me. It's not totally your fault -- everyone makes mistakes; that's why newspapers* have copyeditors. Two people fell down on the job here. For future reference, there's an easy way to decide whether to use "who" or "whom": recast the sentence using "he" or "him." In this case, you'd be choosing between "He is given 'unto us'" or "Him is given 'unto us.'" When "he" is correct, use "who"; when "him" is correct, use "whom."

    @Steve J, thank you for retracting your defense of the incorrect clue before I had to cudgel my brain to argue with you!

    *except for the Washington Post

    Virginia 2:49 PM  

    ...Almost forgot the most important thing I wanted to say to @AnonymousConstructor: THANK YOU for not including obscure sports stars from ages past! Those are the clues that I personally find deeply irritating.

    Zeke 2:52 PM  

    @Hartley70 - Theologically, "catholic" means more than universal, something to do with practicing all the sacraments. As I said, I really don't know, but it has a definite meaning to RCs, the Orthodox and EPIs.

    The four differ mainly in who has the money and power, and basic human decency.

    Dorothy Biggs 2:54 PM  

    Funny how some are critical of the subject of religion. I, for one, have been no stranger to heated religious debate.

    This ain't it.

    Thanks to all for their input on the ins and outs of Catholic v. Protestant v. Anglo-Catholic. Very informative and quite civil.

    Virginia 2:55 PM  

    @Z at 2:10 p.m., antidisestablishmentarianism actually had to do with disputes between the Congregational (established) and Unitarian (newer) churches in New England in the 1800s. It's a long story, which you can read all about here if you're interested:


    But, nope, it was a purely Protestant movement -- nothing to do with Anglo-Catholicism whatsoever!

    And now I promise to stop spamming Rex's blog. :-)

    Anonymous 3:18 PM  

    Re: KIGALI

    I'll take geographical clues over obscure actors and sports figures any day. In any case, Kigali was in the news a lot about 20 years ago.

    Carola 3:27 PM  

    My thought was, "Very nice example of its kind," as all of the POWER combinations worked just fine for me. I liked having the reveal in the center, to have the fun of trying to figure out the final four POWERs. Must confess to having to get UNCAS and KIGALI from crosses.

    Norm 4:25 PM  

    UNCAS is classic American literature. You're wrong (again), Rex. Now, KIGALI was abysmal. I'll grant you that one.

    Anonymous 5:12 PM  

    @Virginia - That's the American version. Originally, antidisestablismentarianism had to do with the official status of The Church of England.

    jae 5:47 PM  

    Thanks @Alias Z, Z, Steve J., Virginia et.al.? for the Who Whom discussion. It's now as clear as the bell that's tolling for ...... him.

    I grew up an Epicopalian before embarking on the @Ellen S. route in my mid teens. Our church was low-Episcopal and the service was similar to other Protestant services I attended during that period. OTOH the high-episcopal service at that time was very similar to the Roman Catholic service including the use of Latin.

    Teedmn 6:17 PM  

    The SE was the hardest section for me with my somehow seeing a comma in the cleu for 53A. So LETSLIP came harder than it should have. The whole puzzle played easier than yesterday's except for the G in AGA/KIGALI.

    I read LOTM for the first time a year or so ago and I can't say it made much of an impression on me except how much was made of Hawkeye's weapon, and hence his nickname, "La Longue Carabiner" or some such.

    Thanks for the puzzle, Mr. McDermott.

    GILL I. 7:00 PM  

    for some inexplicable reason, I'd rather not know whether you're an atheist.....:-(

    Nits Anonymous 7:31 PM  

    @Zeke 2:52

    My take on it is that your first paragraph should have ended with 'the EPIS'; EPIs are the epinephrine pens.

    I believe I'm supported in this by the 68A clue, which reads 'Certain Protestant...', in the singular.

    RooMonster 7:31 PM  

    Well, not to start another off-topic subject (since there's about 163 of them going on) but, antidisestablishmentarianism is actually not a real word. It's not "official" and not in M-W. I saw a cool site that had some lady talking about the longest word in the dictionary (but of course can't remember where...) (Google "Longest word in Dictionary and it should pop up)

    So don't throw any stones my way!! Hopefully this won't cause these comments to go into the stratosphere!


    Anonymous 7:53 PM  

    'For example: I didn't read the book; it was too long. One sentence, with I being the subject in the first clause and the book being the subject in the second clause.'

    @SteveJ, if you look close, those aren't clauses. Those are two sentences made one by use of a semi-colon, and you don't need a semi-colonoscopy to see that.

    @AliasZ is right, and the test of substituting he/him shows that nicely.

    Is it soup yet?

    7d5a9b1 8:03 PM  

    To Anonymous 9:57

    If you really are the constructor of this puzzle, for God's sake, don't listen to "Rex." He's the King of Cross World, but as to crosswords, he doesn't get them at all. I tremble to think that young constructors will use "Rex"s negative reviews to guide their future efforts. If I were such a constructor, I’d read Sunday's review (on the puzzle with bad careers based on celebrity surnames) and think--I need a theme that exhausts all possibilities. I'd read Monday's review (on the puzzle listing celebrities who happen to be twins) and think--no, I need a theme that is "defiantly pathetic."

    And I'd read today's and think: oh, if I take up a theme, it needs to include “Fire” and “Brain” somehow. And I need to make sure that all my world capitals are world capitals that would occur to "Rex" if asked to name 100 world capitals. Maybe, next time I think of using a world capital, I should email Rex for his 100-capital list. Maybe, next time I think of anything, I should email Rex for a hundred such things, so as to be sure my thing is included on them. Because how else could I possibly know?

    But then as to “Uncas,”—what exactly is "Rex"s problem with "Uncas,” anyway? Was it not on his list of 100 novel characters? His list of 100 fictional Indians? How can I avoid “Uncas” mistakes for the future? "That belongs in no puzzle," says Rex. Okay, no more “Uncas.” But how can I infer a more general rule here? Does James Fenimore Cooper belong in no puzzle? Is it something to do with the letters—the odd inital “U”? The “C” in the middle? No, it couldn’t be the “C” in the middle, because “Rex” just loved “Pac-Man” yesterday. Let’s see—why did he love Pac-man? Oh because he remembered playing Pac-man as a child. I guess “Rex” didn’t read any Cooper as a child. Hmm.

    Never mind, now I think it through, “Rex”s influence on young constructors is nothing to worry about—because how can any of them hope to guess how Rex might react to this or that?

    GILL I. 8:16 PM  

    Good lord!

    Benko 9:00 PM  

    I get the definite feeling that "7d5a9b1" is a constructor who recently got trashed by Rex.

    7d5a9b1 9:22 PM  


    I've never published a crossword, but I love working them. I would like to see them fairly reviewed. Wouldn't you?

    Anonymous 9:55 PM  

    Anonymous constructor:
    A suggestion for your next effort.. use less theme words and
    3-letter words. Your grid contains 22 3-letter words ...
    that's over the top.

    Anonymous 10:00 PM  

    You bet I would. Rex is worse than useless

    Zeke 11:32 PM  

    @Roo Monster - Not a real word? It's got a bunch of letters, it's appeared in respected writings, and has a definite meaning. Further, it's in plenty of dictionaries. It's not in M-W, for this reason:

    "Merriam-Webster Online

    Merriam-Webster doesn't enter antidisestablishmentarianism in any of its dictionaries because the evidence indicates that the word is almost never used anymore.

    Based on today's discussion, they're wrong about it's not being used.

    @Nits Anonymous - No, I meant EPIs as in Episcopalians. I place a limit on the length of abbreviations I will use, and that lenght is 3, hence EPIs rather that EPIS's, Now that I type it I may have to review this policy, as I like e-Pis's. It's what e-books do after too much coffee.

    Tom 10:55 AM  

    Call me a fusty old curmudgeon, but I don't care for references to body orifices in NYT crossword puzzles. Eugene Maleska must be spinning in his grave.

    As for the rest of the puzzle? Meh. Pretty EZ, not up to WILLz best work.

    spacecraft 11:36 AM  

    Started with a queasy feeling with ANAL/NAUSEA, but soon got into it. You may consider Beyonce and whatshisname a POWERCOUPLE; I don't. My wife and I have been together 42 years; those two won't make 42 months. Not a prayer. So who's the power couple?

    I get the theme easily enough; I'm zipping along...then I try to get into the SE. While in retrospect I think "Low pair?" is a terrific clue for SOCKS, Friday-worthy and a lot of fun, I didn't expect that kind of thing on a Tuesday, and so was thinking: FOURS, maybe? That's a pretty low pair. And for cut down, I was thinking HEW; for some reason MOW momentarily eluded me. I've seen OREO clued a hundred different ways, but this one threw me. I had no idea there was such a thing as OREO cheesecake. Sounds yummy; I'd love to try it. As for total unknowns like PBS station call letters and Rwanda's capital, I was "duh."

    Luckily I found EPCOT and was able to worm in that way. The "duhs" went in on crosses; I could buy WNET well enough, but KIGALI? That second I was natick territory--I went with I because of Episcopalian, but never in my life saw that God-awful abbr. for it--but I still feared DNF till I checked here. Hard to believe that a city of a million souls could be THAT obscure. It most surely does NOT belong in a Tuesday grid.

    I don't understand OFL's gripe with UNCAS. Anybody who's had a half-decent lit course knows the name; Cooper is one of the classics. I do agree to a slight disappointment that one theme couple wasn't alliterative, but that's small potatoes. And, I agree that the SE should have been reworked. Rating? 3/4 easy plus 1/4 med-chall = easy-medium, I guess. Grade: C.

    151, just a COUPLE PEGS short.

    Steve J 12:22 PM  

    @spacecraft: I wonder if Cooper and UNCAS are a generational thing. By the 80s, Cooper had largely fallen out of favor. I was a lit major in college (late 80s/early 90s), and we read zero Cooper, even in 19th century American literature. Rex and I are the same age, so I suspect that for those of us Gen X and younger, any character from The Last of the Mohicans is likely to be unfamiliar.

    rondo 1:55 PM  

    Didn't a puz once have to pass the "breakfast test"? ANAL/NAUSEA doesn't.
    Sorry, @spacey, JayZ and Bouncy have been married 6 ears already.
    Two LETS - a no-no in tennis but OK here?
    Musician Gallagher or musician Block or golfer McIlroy are all better than RORY Calhoun.
    But no real complaints.

    Let's see about a number . . . "happy holidays" instead. Indeed.

    DMG 3:03 PM  

    This one was Tuesdayish for me. Only problems were remembering which is keA and which is LOA, and having to spell KIGALI letter by crossing letter.

    Am dazzled by the pronunciations on who vs. whom, and not sure I'm any the wiser for reading all of them. Guess I'll just amble along using what sounds best to me at the time, secure in the belief that, no matter which i select, someone will disagree!

    Wow 23364! Think that's winner.

    rain forest 3:07 PM  

    UNCAS and KIGALI were gimmes. I liked the theme. My reversible drill has HIGH POWER and a LOW POWER setting, which is nice because I don't have to use much MUSCLE POWER.

    Rex licked today. Sorry, Rex.

    leftcoastTAM 3:52 PM  

    I think Rex's crap detector for themes as well as for fill is too often set at a very HIGH POWER level.

    Kel C. Grammar 4:55 PM  

    Who/whom, tomato/tomatom. Yes, I understand the usage difference, but this clue seems to have several ways to be parsed and I am still abit confused after all the "experts" weighed in. Didn't affect my solve. I'll ask Niles.

    918 - a tie methinks

    J Lennon 5:06 PM  

    POWER to the people, right on

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