Chess ending / TUES 2-26-18 / Say hello to / Cluster around an acorn / Formally end

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Hi, everyone! It's Clare, and I'm back for another Tuesday. Feeling a bit tired from staying up late to watch the Oscars on Sunday night. Anyone watch?? Who loves Olivia Colman as much as I do? (P.S. She's an incredible actress, and everyone should know her name — go watch "Broadchurch" right now. Seriously.)

Constructor: Alex Vratsanos

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: JOINT (40A: What each set of shaded letters in this puzzle represents) — The shaded sections of the puzzle are all joints, which bend in the puzzle like they do in the body.

Theme answers:
  • ELBOW (as part of 1A and 3D)
  • ANKLE (as part of 5A and 8D)
  • HIP (as part of 9A and 13D)
  • KNUCKLE (as part of 35A and 31D)
  • SHOULDER (as part of 37A and 28D)
  • KNEE (as part of 60A and 62D)
  • WRIST (as part of 63A and 41D)
  • NECK (as part of 65A and 59D)

Word of the Day: KNUT (35A: Bronze coin in the Harry Potter books)
The Knut (pronounced ca-nut) is the least valued coin in wizarding currency in Harry Potter. There are 29 Knuts in one silver Sickle, and there are 493 Knuts in one golden Galleon. Around the edge of each coin is a series of numerals which represent a serial number belonging to the Goblin that cast the coin. Witches and wizards are not averse to laborious calculations, as they can do them magically, so they do not find it inconvenient to pay for goods in Knuts, Sickles, and Galleons. One Sickle is equal to about 2 U.S. cents. (Harry Potter Wiki) 
• • •
As I was doing this puzzle on my phone, the app tried to make me quit four times. I should have taken it as a hint. I found the puzzle to be difficult — maybe the hardest since I've started this write-up on Tuesdays — and I just didn't like it. I never really got going, and I got stumped in a whole lot of places. The theme was clever and ambitious, both in the number of theme answers and in the way that they all bent, like joints do, and I appreciate the effort that went into crafting the theme of the puzzle. The theme also helped me with the solve, because, once I saw what one set of shaded boxes represented, it was pretty easy to extrapolate and get the others — helping me fill in a lot of squares. However, the theme might have been the only saving grace of the puzzle as the fill was just bleh and often nonsensical.

A lot of little things bugged me about the puzzle. Why is the clue for SHOULD at 37A, "Is obliged to"? If you're obliged to do something, it's not that you should do it; you have to do it. 36A Flight board posting felt more like it should be "etd" instead of ETA. It feels like it's more common to look at a flight board to see when your plane is leaving than when it's going to land. Also, saying MAKE ME as a response to a bully seems like a pretty good way to get your head bashed in or — at the very least — start a fight. That seems like something I'd say in a snide way to my sister, not to a bully. I asked my dad about KCAR (46A: Classic Chrysler), and he was upset about calling KCAR a classic anything. Yes, the platform made a lot of money for Chrysler, and the cars are decades old, but they went from zero to 60 in 13 to 14 seconds (I could run faster than that).

Then, there were just a whole bunch of words that felt out-of-place on a Tuesday, even weird. Like MEWS (huh?), RAITA (never heard of this before in my life, and I eat a lot of Indian food), SISAL (maybe not right for a Tuesday?), PTL Club (that was a thing?), ENSHEATHE (why isn't this just sheath?); and, UTNE, BOWE, and MINOLTA (words I've never seen on a Tuesday before, which isn't necessarily bad but did contribute to the puzzle feeling harder and the fill being more tedious).

  • I'm thinking about learning French just to be able to do crosswords better (for example, to help me on 32A: Deux + un to get TROIS and 42A: Entr' to get ACTE)
  • Harry Potter reference!! I'm pumped. It also blew my mind when I Googled "KNUT" and found out that it's pronounced ca-nut. I've been saying it wrong my whole life.
  • Thank you, law school, for helping me get WRIT and LIEN. I appreciate it.
  • I'm getting really sick of seeing the NRA in so many puzzles.
Rant over. Hope everyone has a wonderful Tuesday!

Signed, Clare Carroll, who has been watching Olivia Colman's acceptance speech at the Oscars on repeat since Sunday night.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Seth 12:41 AM  

Natick city, especially the NE: ASAHI crossing SOMME crossing TRIESTE crossing ARISTO. On a Tuesday? Really? Three big fat guesses in those squares.

Ben 12:44 AM  

Raita is delicious! A very thin, yogurt-based sauce. I don't usually mind NRA as an answer, but the clue for it today seemed tastelessly glib.

Mark Tebeau 12:46 AM  

I also love Olivia Colman; as my daughter says, she's a working actor.

Super easy puzzle. KCAR was never a classic, but the joints made it work. Loved the theme.

Someone who gets nude recreationally (at home or the nudist social club) is a nudist, while someone who prefers to be nude in more natural settings would be a NATURIST. There is a subtle difference having to do with where and why one prefers to get nude, with the term naturism pre-dating nudism by 30 years. But I suppose nobody is really paying attention to the scenery, or such details, when lounging naked by the pool or in the spa (and keeping excellent eye contact in their conversation.)

jp flanigan 1:06 AM  

SISAL, KNUT, PTL stacked in the same mini section?!!! On a Tuesday?!!! Are you kidding?!!!!!!!!!

Maybe that's just not on my wheel house, but even getting the downs, i find that whole section a bit out of obscure show from the 70's (that i lived through and don't recall, with a small detail from a 2000's pop-culture series (must be the books, because i don't remember a KNUT reference from the movies). and SISAL? Well....if you don't know something, I guess it all seems hard.

Am i being too salty? hahaha...probably. Anyone else?

Tom 1:07 AM  

Meh. Same reaction as Clare. 3d on a Tuesday? Not that it was hard, because I got it done within a few seconds of my usual Tuestime. Seemed like more of an exercise in anatomy than a crunchy Tuesday. At least there was no “eke” in today’s puzzle. Seems like it’s been a stale staple for the last few weeks.

Agree with Clare and her father that “classic” should indicate some classiness. K cars may have saved Chrysler, but they weren’t classic in any sense. A 300, an Imperial, even New Yorker or a Town and Country, but never a K car!

jae 1:16 AM  

Easy-medium. OK for a Tues. Liked it.

It seems to me I’ve heard the word DANK used to describe JOINTS?

Larry Gilstrap 1:32 AM  

I used to be good at solving puzzles, like last week. Yesterday and today, not so much. Does it happen this fast? On the other hand, is using the standard of a puzzle a legitimate measure of mental competence? I'm blaming shaded squares

I'm nobody, but OFL is after all, OFL and he and I both agree that 58D is not acceptable fill, no matter how clued. We have a quorum, motion presented, I've seconded, and that mumble sounds like "Aye." Motion passed and take your last look at ANAL.

I am in California, after all, so JOINT means more than a hunk of meat, like in Britain. I'm no spring chicken, so I hear tales of woe from my contemporaries concerning aches and pains, and methods to ameliorate such symptoms; tinctures are popular. Orthopedic surgeons are rock stars in some circles. NECK is a JOINT? Of course it is, but it eluded me.

chefwen 1:36 AM  

Monday easy for me, made even easier by the theme clues. After getting ELBOW right away, soon followed by ANKLE it was just a matter of a letter or two to fill in the other JOINTs.

KNUT was Knew to me as I have never read Harry Potter or seen the movies. Just not into wizardry.

Couple of minor snags, my ACTE at 42A was nous, until it didn’t work and my psychic was reading my PAst before my PALM at 22A.

Cute puzzle.

Jeff 1:40 AM  

Nice write-up Clare, though I can only imagine how much Rex would have hated this puzzle. Maybe for the particularly irksome ones, he has you do them? :)

Robin 2:46 AM  

Solving on the phone sux. But nevertheless this was easy. The theme was reasonably apparent from the start (yo, it's a Tuesday!).

Flightboard info about ETA vs ETD is crossword-gimmickry.

Chrysler KCARs were not classisms. It was sh*t line of multiple affordable models. My family had one, and the clutch on, mmm, the Dodge Aries (?), was so stiff my mother refused to drive that car.

I could go on about why other clues were meaningful, but it's obvious that I am 20(+) years older than Clare.

Brookboy 2:46 AM  

Great write-up, Clare. I kind of sided with you about this puzzle being a challenge, but I liked it more than you did. Definitely agreed with you about SHOULD and Is Obliged To, and about Flight Board Posting and etd/ETA.

Not so much, though, on MEWS, RAITA and SISAL...

I live in NYC and Mews are part of the geography here (I.e., there are Mews in Manhattan, one of which is part of NYU).

Like you I have eaten my share of Indian food, both here in NYC and in London (although not in India). Raita can be made in a variety of ways. It is a condiment used to cool the palate when eating spicy Indian (or any other) food. I think if you were to ask for raita at any Indian restaurant that you would be presented with same.

And sisal is a fibrous hemp plant that is used in the making of twine as well as some other things. Anyone who uses twine to any extent would most likely be familiar with sisal.

My wife and I did watch the Oscars and enjoyed it. We get a real kick out of seeing all the celebrities in their wildly differing raiment. Felt kind of sorry for Glenn Close, not to take anything away from Olivia Colman. Our local news channel (NY1) said that as much as 24 minutes of the Oscar telecast is used to watch the winners walk to the stage from their seats, their tongue-in-cheek way of suggesting a way to shorten the broadcast.

Mike in Mountain View 3:08 AM  

Other than the Harry Potter clue, this seemed aimed at those of us who remember stuff from 30 years ago. Made it easy for me, but I can understand a 20-something not knowing PTL, Bowe, KCAR, Minolta.

Liked the theme idea but mostly didn't need the help.

Anonymous 3:46 AM  

Took me longer to solve this than last week's Saturday. The theme is fine, but it's not a Tuesday puzzle.

JOHN X 5:18 AM  

Well this was pretty darn easy. I got the gag right away and just filled in all the gray boxes.

The NECK looks like it was snapped. That's kinda' cool. And it's good to see ANAL again, but there are so many much more funny ways to clue this word.

Clare, how can you NOT know about the PTL Club? That was television at its finest, with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker! Jim cried like a baby when they led him off to prison, and Tammy Faye became a streaked mascara gay icon! Jim is back at work on TV, selling 10-gallon plastic buckets of some kind of survivalist foodstuff goop that you can put in your bomb shelter and wait for the rapture. Find a video of him tasting it, you can tell he hates it. "Mmmm good!"

Triple 5:53 AM  

Lara Flynn Boyle

Lewis 5:53 AM  

Oh, I liked STUCCO / ELBOW / ELMO / BOWE / AMARETTO / ARISTO / KLEPTO, you know. Plus the clues for STUCCO, NIT, and APSE.

The puzzle fell on the harder end of Tuesday, IMO, with European rivers, country, and port, BOWE, KCAR, KNUT and others, and a passel of indirect cluing. Yet it felt to me too easy for a Wednesday.

The KGB ended in 1991, by the way, and is now the FSB, which has yet to show up in a NYT puzzle. Its day will come.

I am headed off on vacation, and will return in a week. Wishing you all well!

Anonymous 6:03 AM  

TUTEE frutee

Asha 6:10 AM  

"I eat a lot of Indian food but I've never heard of RAITA?!" Nope.

Steve 6:38 AM  

I know that I will not live that long, but I yearn for the day that crosswords are finally devoid of Harry Potter references. BAH!

Steve 6:40 AM  

Claire: how about a little cheese with that whine??

Michiganman 6:41 AM  

Clare nailed it. My last new car was a 1988 Dodge Aries station wagon with 5 spd. manual. Not at all exciting but one of the most reliable, versatile cars I've ever owned. I've bought only used cars since then and saved a lot of $$.

Tom Taylor 6:42 AM  

Am I really the first to point out that this whole puzzle feels ... wait for it ...
disJOINTed ...
but truly, even though I solved faster than my average Tuesday time, it felt like a slog and was never super fun. Even the attempts at clever wordplay fell flat for me (NIT, STUCCO, etc).
Oh well ...

Jon Alexander 7:00 AM  

I feel like this puzzle got dusted off some shelf from 30 years ago. Seriously, only current thing in here (current used facetiously) is ICHAT and maybe KNUT and those are still both oldish references.

The 80s called, and it wants its puzzle back.

Brett 7:04 AM  

As always, TAO is not a Confucian philosophy despite that it is almost always clued this way in the crossword.

Outside The Box 7:07 AM  

Besides being sick of NRA in so many puzzles I am way sick of seeing either ETA or ETD almost every day. Enough already.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

A really great, well-executed theme.

Some day I’m going to have to learn my four-letter European rivers. ELBE, Yser, Oder, Ebro, Arno, Aare – what am I missing?

Shame the 5A/5D cross couldn’t have been an ‘L’, and an excuse to see @LMS’s Duke Lemur Center video again.

Hungry Mother 7:20 AM  

Slow for me in spite of the help that the JOINTs provided. Took me a couple of stabs to remember SOMME. Good stuff for a Tuesday.

Z 7:27 AM  

Considering the theme this puzzle was unusually stiff. Creaky even. Makes me want to pop an aspirin or four. Or maybe written more for an upright ARISTO wearing an ascot keeping a stiff upper lip despite the decline of the empire. Definitely worthy of being called The Best Tuesday Ever, with all the “praise” that phrase implies.

tommydif 7:37 AM  


George 7:40 AM  

Your dad was right on re: KCAR, not a classic.

QuasiMojo 7:40 AM  

For me JOINT summons up images of Henry VIII gnawing at a leg of lamb. I found myself underwhelmed by the puzzle too until I saw the various body parts highlighted in the app. It surprised me. Made me study my anatomy more closely. Well done, although I think of caves as DANK, not cellars. In the interest of being a normal human being in this day and age, I googled the video of Lady Gaga and her co-star singing a song called Shallow, I think, from the Oscar telecast that everyone was raving about (at least in the local paper) and that got two standing ovations, but I had to turn it off after a minute. Excruciating.

Amy 7:43 AM  

I actually love the puzzle and found it extremely easy — finished about 25% faster than usual. And how do you eat Indian without the raita! Cools down the spice beautifully. Try it, Claire! (And thanks for your great write-ups!)

OffTheGrid 7:46 AM  

Ball and socket joints, like your hip and shoulder joints, are the most mobile type of joint in the human body. ... Hinge joints, like in your knee and elbow, enable movement similar to the opening and closing of a hinged door. The pivot JOINT in your NECK allows you to turn your head from side to side.

GHarris 8:05 AM  

My fastest Tuesday ever. Knew most, worked out the rest. Got the theme from the answer to and shape of the first entry. Oops, just realized I have a dnf. Had Etne reader even though I know Utne. Too bad.

TomAz 8:08 AM  

Just one time I would like to see NRA clued as "Protofascist gun organization in league with the Russians to kill American children and corrupt American democracy." C'mon Will. Just once? Please? I mean just because you don't know the difference between TAO and Confucianism, even though it's readily google-able, you know, never mind.

This puzzle was not in my wheelhouse but the joint thing was so simple that it did help move things along quite a bit. KLEPTO ARISTO STUCCO, uh-oh. SISAL over KNUT on a Tuesday. ENSHEATHE. TUTEE. someone named EMIL. KCAR PTL: Jerry Falwell driving his 1983 Plymouth Reliant to church. I can't imagine that someone not alive in the 80s would know that pair of trivia.

This puzzle feels musty and DANK. Like someone made it and it's been slowly rotting under a pile of OAK LEAVES in the MEWS somewhere.

Hey at least we've been getting a lot of ANAL lately.

SJ Austin 8:12 AM  

What Seth said. That was real rough for a Tuesday, and seems like it was not worth the tradeoff of getting a bent HIP and SHOULDER for the JOINT theme.

Bruce R 8:12 AM  

I've eaten tons of Indian food and I've never heard of NAAN. Nope, that makes no sense. I was just trying that out because RAITA is equally ubiquitous.

Also, nothing wakes me up in the morning like a cup of coffee and the daily ANAL.

Wm. C. 8:15 AM  

Good thing @Rexy isn't here, or we'd get another diatribe on ANAL. ;-)

Suzie Q 8:16 AM  

The execution today was OK but the theme seems arbitrary.
A fun revealer would have saved this one.
I agree that "make me" is asking for an ass whuppin'.
I suppose if you can have a cold war you can have a hot one too but I can't remember ever hearing/reading the term.
Minolta isn't around anymore?
Yes, the K car was the ultimate dad-mobile of its day.
Complaints about tired old clues may be valid but those words sure seem full of handy letters and sometimes are all that prevent a DNF.

Mark 8:17 AM  

Charming and timely to see the NRA's magazine referenced in the clue, since their current issue has a spread with a picture of Gabby Giffords and Nancy Pelosi with the giant headline "TARGET PRACTICE."

Polly 8:22 AM  

I just hope this reviewer isn’t representative of a new generation of whiners.

Kitty 8:23 AM  

First glance gave me NRA for 61D and I scribbled all over the puzzle.
So disturbing to start my day with thoughts of their magazine market.

Adam 8:24 AM  


I thought the exact same thing. :)

Harried Otter 8:26 AM  

@Steve, Yet there will still be game of thrones.

Bernie 8:27 AM  

This was a tough one for me, but it would have been a whole lot easier had I not forgotten about the theme. Sissal, knut and PTL were all knew to me, so that was a pretty tough spot.

Shawangunk Solver 8:28 AM  

Nice write up, Claire. This was tough foe Me too. I got stuck at SHOULD because that also does not translate to “is obliged to” for me. Also the ELBE/BOWE crossing is a definite Natick.

Clare, you must start ordering RAITA at all future Indian dinners. It’s a cucumber-yogurt-cumin salad and absolutely delicious, esp with some hot curry.

As usual, I paid no attention to the theme til I was done. I have to remember to start doing that. Do you think that ignoring the theme is analagous to never knowing the name of the book you’re reading- which is also usually true for me? What are you reading? You know, the Michelle Ibama book...

Bob Mills 8:46 AM  

I agree that "IS OBLIGED TO" is a bad clue for "SHOULD." Nice puzzle, though.

Dorothy Biggs 8:55 AM  

KGB next to NRA...coincidence? I spoke with a couple of older Ukrainians who lived through the Soviet era. We talked a lot about each other's perceptions during those days. One thing they both said independently: "There is no such thing as 'former' KGB." Make no mistake, the KGB is alive and well...and is all over the world. Those guys both spoke of them in hushed tones. One of the guys lost his grandfather to them...they came in the night and took him away...forever.

Is it me or has RPI and ANAL been in just about every puzzle in the last month?

Every themer was bendable...but NECK? If you're neck is bent, you're either doing it wrong or you're a swan or some kind of PCV pipe.

Amie Devero 8:55 AM  

I lived in England for over 10 years and never heard the term ARISTO. It's not a thing. Peer? Yes. Noble? Yes. Sloan Ranger? Yes. Aristo? No. Much of the puzzle felt like that. Forced and weird.
I second loving Coleman. Broadchurch is amazing. She's been a staple of Brit TV for the last 15 years, and she's consistently extraordinary!

Johnny Boy 9:00 AM  

The least fun Tuesday I've done in a while.

Nancy 9:01 AM  

How delightful was this? I haven't had so much fun thinking about my JOINTS in years. And the visuals of the puzzle are irresistible.

It would have been a different story had Alex and Will opted to put the JOINTS in annoying tiny little circles instead of in graciously accommodating gray squares. I would not have taken well to having my KNEEs, HIPs, ANKLEs and SHOULDERs wedged into tiny little circles -- any more than I take well to having them cramped into outrageously SKIMPy airline seats or BOXed UP in infuriatingly uncomfortable (and overpriced) theater seats. (Which is why I almost never fly and have cut way, way, way down on my theatergoing in recent years.) But anyway, there was none of that cramping and squeezing here, I and my JOINTS had a wonderful time.

Also loved the clever and original clues for APSE, NIT and STUCCO.

Crimson Devil 9:04 AM  

I continue to be amazed: haven’t been at this very long, but am often dismayed, after struggling mightily with a puz, to come here to see rated as EASY. Less frequently, sail through, like today, but see CHALLENGING.
Go figure.

Cody 9:08 AM  

I’m done with ANAL as an answer until we get “Legalized by Lawrence v. Texas“ as a clue.

Mr. Benson 9:12 AM  

I feel like that SW corner was a special tribute to Maria Butina.

Sir Hillary 9:14 AM  

NRA, ANAL and an ASAHI/SOMME cross, all in the same grid? Rex's head would have exploded. Actually, maybe it did, requiring Clare to step in.

At the end of the day, this puzzle is about fitting eight bent JOINTs into the grid and surrounding it with passable (not great) fill. Personally, I enjoyed it, as a lot of it resonated with me:
-- A girl I really liked in high school drove a rust-colored KCAR which she dubbed the Brown Bomb. This made me like her even more. The affection was not mutual.
-- When we lived in London, our kitchen window looked out to Ensor MEWS, and I used to walk through the MEWS to get to South Kensington tube station. I always fantasized about living in a London MEWS -- alas, the economics were nowhere close to viable, even back in 1994. They are incredibly charming. @Brookboy, I stumbled upon the MEWS near NYU a few years ago, and was blown away.
-- Wait, MINOLTA doesn't make cameras anymore?? [Checks Wikipedia.] Wow, they haven't been a company since 2003 and haven't produced photographic equipment since 2006.
-- TUTEE -- ugh. My wife and I do the NYT Spelling Bee every weekend, and TUTEE is our most hated "crutch" word. It appears seemingly every other week, at least.
-- PTL Club and those slimy Bakkers -- double ugh.

Hartley70 9:18 AM  

I had barely started the puzzle when ELBOW gave the trick away. I went around filling in the rest of the joints except for the two with equal letters, KNEE and NECK. At that point the puzzle became a lot smaller, but I still got a kick from the theme because it felt new to this oldster.

I have no idea how I knew BOWE. ASAHI came from crosses. I haven’t seen UTNE in a while but crosswords make me bless the day I wandered into a friend’s bathroom in Maine and saw an issue sitting on the radiator. Harry Potter clues do not usually slow me down as I loved the books as much as any 10 year old, but KNUT and it’s value went right over my head. It must have come up in Gringotts Bank but those goblins were nasty so I didn’t spend much time there.

orangeblossomspecial 9:20 AM  

Ah, the younger generation. Take them away from rappers, Netflix and modern terminology and they know so little of the world. Give me more puzzles requiring a mélange of knowledge.

pabloinnh 9:28 AM  

ELBOW and ANKLE and the mad dash to the finish was on. Veterans of x-world like myself probably filled in lots of the crosswordese without a second thought. I guess it skews old, no problem there, so do I.

Am now thinking of "Songs I Learned at My Mother's Knee and Other Joints" but don't feel like googling it and doubt if anything about it is as good as the title anyway.

I did like the bendiness of the shaded boxes. Thanks for the fun AV.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

Anyone else slightly annoyed with all of the religious clues close to each other? DOST, APSE, RITE

Jeff 9:41 AM  

Taoism is not Confucianism! It's the opposite, honestly. This is not the first time for this.

This was a weird mix of Saturday-hard and easy-for-Monday clues.

Gerry Kelly 9:45 AM  

I'm sorry that rex is off today! Was looking forward to his rant on ANAL again. Also remember the PTL club which stood for Praise The Lord but was referred to as Pass The Loot!!😁
Also love Olivia in Broadchurch and way back in Midsomer Murders!

ArtO 9:49 AM  

A terrific feat of construction. A spot on write-up from Claire. But, not a fun solve. Surprised to see so many "faster than usual" solvers today as this was considerably slower than most Tuesdays for me. Just goes to show, stuff is either in your wheelhouse or not.

GILL I. 9:52 AM  

Tuesday? Take out the shaded areas and call it Wed. BOWE/ASAHI/SOMME/KNUT/RAITA? Enter the UGH factors PTL/KGB/NRA/EEL and OFL's favorite ANALand you have hard and old.
Speaking of PTL- and frankly that one could've been put to rest 3 decades ago - just having to picture Tammy Faye Bakker makes my eyelashes drip. What a sad pitiful couple she and husband were. Made for good TV drama but utter garbage for the whole evangelical scene. He's still around peddling apocalypse chow, and according to those that knew his ex wife, she's in heaven with her mom.
I like the idea of the bending JOINTs. I wish Alex had been current with some of the entries. The UTNE ICHAT KCAR APSE should seriously take a vacation somewhere in TRIESTE.
Wanted to fit in NATURalist but I guess if you "believe" then you're a NATURIST. My first nudist foray was on a beach outside of San Francisco. I didn't know it was, but when you finally trek down the cliff to get to the sand and everyone takes off their goodies, it's not hard to get the gist. Being a lover of the pulchritude and wanting to show off my callipygian bod, I joined the gang. Lookie look oglers from above changed my mind about the freeing experience. I now strip only before I take my shower.
I once bought SILK sheets because I think it was some PALM reader who told me they make you sleep better. They don't. If you sweat even a teensy bit, you've ruined them.
So much for my Tuesday puzzle experience. Claire is always a breath of fresh air, so there's that.

G B 9:56 AM  

Speaking of nits to pick - Taoism was founded by Lao-Tze not Confucius

THE BEE 10:01 AM  

I thought it was ez pz!!

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Shawangunk Solver,

Are you by any chance near wildlife area known as the Shawagunk grasslands? What a wonderful spot!! I chased a gyrfalcon there a couple of years ago. Missed him but the short eared owls put on quite a show.

Anon 9:32
Not one iota. I'll take sacraments and churches over rap and Harry Potter any day.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Seems like RPI has appeared about a dozen times over the last two weeks.

Grandmaster N A Z I Paikidze 10:11 AM  

I do crossword puzzles, but I hate words.

jberg 10:18 AM  

This one seemed easy for me, but I got lucky. My son's last apartment in Tokyo was near the <A href='\"">ASAHI beer hall,</A> which is designed to suggest a glass of beer with its head of foam being blown off. Kind of hard to forget. And I've got a SISAL rug on my front porch, unless those 55 mph gusts of wind yesterday blew it away. No idea about KNUT as a Potteresque coin, but that's just the old way of spelling that guy who overreached as king by ordering the tide not to come in. Good thing heads of state are less arrogant today.

The clue "religious setback" made me want lAPSE, and it took me a moment to realize that APSE worked, too. Anyone got any other pairs of words that work like that.

@Clare, just ignore all those ingrates picking on you, you're doing a great job. I disagree about OBLIGED, though -- it can refer to law, or the rules of a game, but also to etiquette. If I send a gift to my son (the same one referenced above) he is obliged to send me a thank you note -- but he most likely won't.

Also, I don't mind using EN- to enverb a noun, it gives them a nice old-timey feeling, but I wonder about that terminal E. Why isn't it just ENSHEATH? I guess that's an alternate spelling; but adding the E means the TH sound is vocalized; maybe that's easier to say? I dunno.

Well, gotta go check on the state of that sisal rug (not to mention our roof -- there are more shingle fragments than usual in the garden this morning.)

RooMonster 10:22 AM  

Hey All !
Ah, the good old KCARs. A buddy of mine had the Aries K. White four door, automatic I believe. We called those cars the K-F@#ks.

Pretty cool theme. Like that Alex put a JOINT in each section. And had the Revealer in the center! Considering the constraints, fill wasn't all that bad.

It was tougher for me than a typical TuesPuz, seems it could've been a Wednesday.

Got hung up in a few spots, for Dublin's land, put in ER (always want to spell EIRE as ERIE) and waited on crosses. Unfortunately, ended up with ERse, having Ore for OIL. And the S of SOMME/ASAHI was an alphabet run, after the Almost! message. DNF.

KLEPTO got a chuckle.
BOX UP - Fighting in a higher weight class? :-)


David 10:32 AM  

Filled in first two crosses and got the key. Pretty easy from there. Nice writeup Claire, but apparently you need to watch more working-class British TV shows and movies, the Mews are often involved. Also, if your Indian restaurants don't have riata I wonder what other Indian condiments they're missing. For me the puzzle was a bit boring, though I did start to wonder if constructors are starting to use Rex triggers just to get a rise out of him.

Old does not equal classic, but in one way the K Car was a classic. A classic con job which is still in use today. Iaccoca "saved" Chrysler by moving production across the river from Detroit into Canada and sourcing parts from Japan and Germany, all the while going on TV to say, "Be American, Buy American". A few years later, given their massive Reagan tax breaks, other companies followed suit. US Steel, for instance, used their windfall not to invest in their older plants, but to diversify their portfolio while shuttering 3 plants and throwing thousands of Union workers out into the streets and moving production offshore. This all happened a decade before NAFTA was created in an effort to regulate what the new order the corporations had created. While all this was going on, Iaccoca's slogan was shouted from the rooftops as proof of "support" for the workers.

The con goes on. Why, in the last Presidential election the "populists", both right and left, insisted NAFTA was responsible for what happened in the decades [offshoring was first recognized as a big problem during the Kennedy administration] before it was created and we should "bring jobs back" to America. The con artist is so enraptured by this con and the power of it he wants to put tariffs on foreign automobiles made in the USA but not on American cars made in Canada. Go figure.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

How about Plan Against Single Parenthood? Parents implies that Daddy is around and part of this. No, Baby Daddy done left long ago.

mmorgan 10:37 AM  

For reasons that escape me, I generally take a strong dislike to puzzles with circles. But this one was fun! And I agree with Clare as to how many answers just seemed strange or not-quite-right, but (for reasons that escape me) I found it enjoyable rather than off-putting. I had no problem with SHOULD for "Is obliged to" -- people don't always do what they should! And I was very happy for the wonderful Olivia Colman (all the nominees were terrific), but not so much about Green Book.

B Right There 10:39 AM  

What a delight! I felt like this was a gift to veteran solvers who fill in Monday and Tuesday puzzles half asleep, just waiting for the tricky Thursdays or the juicy Fri, Sat, Suns! Agree that it was not in the usual Tuesday level, both in cluing and answers, but just a nice surprise to find it waiting there for us today. As with several other solvers on this blog that appear to be in my generation, found much of this in my wheelhouse. Loved the clue for APSE and seeing all the French. RE 32A Deux + Une TROIS. Here’s a little joke hubby learned when learning French numbers:

There’s a French cat named Un-Deux-Trois and a British cat named One-Two-Three standing on the shores of the English Channel. Both tried to swim across. One drowned. Which cat made it across?
A: One-Two-Three cat. Because Une-Deux-Trois quatre cinq. (It helps to know that 4 and 5 in French are pronounced ‘cat’ and ‘sank’.

Camilla 10:41 AM  

I agree with Amie. “aristo” is more of a French term, not British.

Doug Garr 10:53 AM  

Wow, glad to see you're snide and snively the way Rex is. Agree that it was a hard puzzle and I got stuck on KNUCKLE and SHOULDER for awhile. But really, we old guys don't know Harry Potter stuff. We do know how to RUNATAB. I think you should have complained about NATURIST (Rex would have, I'm sure). The common usage for that is NATURALIST, which of course, doesn't fit. Nobody ever says that a nudist is a naturist. Maybe a nature lover. So there. I sniveled.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Fairly easy, but very fun, puzzle. Thank you Mr. Vratsanos.

Malsdemare 11:04 AM  

PTL club = Pass The Loot club. How can anyone fail to remember that? I have no idea what it really stands for but got the answer on the first try.

I speak French, sort of, so have no idea idea WHY in the name of all that is holy I wanted TRE— for Deux plus un. Headslap! That meant that I had KLEPTe and failed to find the error in my multiple passes trying to find my mistake. I was sure it was up there in with the ASAHI / SOMME cross. Nope, Mary; brain just took a vacation. I took a look at that NRA cover; ugh! Not quite as awful as the crosshairs on Judge Berman, but pretty damn offensive.

Puzzle was okay; not a ton of fun but an acceptable waste of time on the Tuesday am. Nice reminder that I'm getting a steroid injection today to kill, temporarily, the pain in my left HIP. NECK is okay since it a disk was replaced with a cadaver bone and fused. Ain't modern medicine grand?

Now to go watch Coleman's speech.

PB in DC 11:04 AM  

Agree with Clare on Olivia Colman, probably my favorite actress. She is always good and so real, comedy or drama. Don’t agree sommuch on the puzzle critique. I thought it was great to get every joint I can think of into the puzzle and make them bend. I didn’t think the fill was too hard for a Tuesday, nor that it was mostly boring. The clue doesn’t say “Make me” is something you should say to a bully; it says it is a challenge to a bully. True that. Probably the objection is that there are no really long answers, which are usually more fun. But the theme for me made it worthwhile.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Almost DNF because I refused too write TAO in for a Confucian philosophy. Being newer to crosswords I have never seen this cluing before, and it's so inherently wrong my brain wouldn't even go there. That crossing ARISTO and RAITA meant I only had -A- to go off of.

jb129 11:21 AM  

Tougher than usual for a Tuesday, but I welcomed it.

Unknown 11:25 AM  

Not only Broadchurch for Olivia Coleman, but the excellent mini serie, The Nightwatchman. So glad she won!

Whatsername 11:44 AM  

Thanks Clare, for the nice write up although I admit to being a little disappointed as I was anticipating a classic Rex tirade today. Yes I also watched the Oscars and up until then had never heard of Olivia Colman. (Thanks for the recommendation on Broadchurch.) Her acceptance speech was delightful, and I will surely be watching for her in future films.

I found this tough going for a Tuesday but I liked the theme and the visual aid made it even more appealing. Also a pleasant plus, the theme answers actually helped with some of the more difficult fill. I’m a boomer oldie so had no problem at all with what some consider outdated trivia. On the other hand, UTNE, KNUT and ASAHI were new to me. As many crosswords as I’ve done, I ought to know Harry Potter clues better by now. Maybe I should just break down and read one of the books.

I remember studying Rikki-Tikki-TAVI in high school and thought it was weird that someone would write a story about a mongoose. As with many other things, the wisdom of age has made me appreciate it more. Not so much the case with the PTL club which was said to stand for Praise The Lord, People That Love, or Pass The Loot, to name a few. I watched occasionally because it was oddly fascinating but even so, as forgettable as the ensuing fiasco with its founders was memorable. At the time of the KCAR introduction, I was working for the Dept of Agriculture and the federal government had a massive fleet of them. While I would not label the car as a classic, it was - like Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker - both an icon and a casualty of the 80s.

One small NIT was 27D - TILTAT for clash with. I think I get it but it’s seems like a stretch. Finally, as I said last time it appeared, I hope to never see 58D in a crossword again. Please, pretty please.

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Is it technically accurate that a *psychic* reads PALMs? I thought a psychic read minds, not palms.

RE: Clare's writeup: I think the definition of SHOULD as "is obliged to" is fine. "Is obliged to" today can mean "is obligated to" (the definition Clare assumes), but I think that is something of a modern corruption (I may be wrong).

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Tom R 11:58 AM  

I found it very easy, especially after spotting the theme. I mean, if you can fill in all the circled letters after getting only one or two, then it gives you a huge leg up on the crossing answers. Too obvious and too easy.

Banana Diaquiri 12:00 PM  

KCAR was never a car marque, just the name for the generic chassis that they used to make most of their cars for lots o years. might even be the first time a car company admitted that it's car lines were just different lipstick on one pig.

Kiki 12:09 PM  

If you're around horses or live in the UK, you know the word MEWS. Was thrilled to see it included.

old timer 12:14 PM  

I immediately thought of my Catholic upbringing when I wrote in SHOULDDO, because I was taught I was obliged to go to Confession and Mass, but as I aged I thought these were things I must do, but might not do.

The Brits do refer to ARISTOs sometimes, but they are self-consciously borrowing the word from the French.

And wasn't it WC Fields who said in some movie that he was brought up "at my mother's KNEE, and otherw low joints?

squirrel 12:15 PM  

Weird. I smoke a JOINT right before doing the puzzle and then I’m doing the puzzle and there’s the word JOINT right in the middle of the puzzle. It must be like a sign or something. Like maybe I should wait until after breakfast to get

stoned or something. Except I don’t really get the marijuana theme other than getting stoned makes me want to be a NATURIST and maybe just wear a few OAK LEAVES or something when I am obliged to go out somewhere. Which is what

happens often. But then ANAL and NRA really freaked me out. So I dig the puzzle. It has some really cool words like SUCKLE and MINOLTA. But I have to admit the theme kind of confused me and why were there so many shaded squares anyway? And wasn't KNUT also a Pharaoh?

albatross shell 12:22 PM  

A slow solve for a Tuesday but one with constant but slower than normal forward progress. Northeast corner going almost letterbyletter (not wordbyword) after a certain point. The easy themers helped. Also I was with my love who knows allthingspotter, so one cheat I do not count (love exempts).
SISAL I know from rope making with plants. Learning old ways a hobby of mine.

Ran across "hempen" yesterday because I read The Ballad of Reading Gaol yesterday because of this site. Always enjoy it. Check it out if you never have.

Taoism and Confucianism were rivals. I am enjoy the former and not the latter, but I do believe Confucianists have their own interpretation of the Tao and maybe it could be considered central to their philosophy, using their own terminology. I will accept any more knowledgeable opinion.

I think should and oblige are clearly overlapping concepts. Most dictionaries seem to use obligation to define should. See no problem there.

Likes: EMIL (my father's name) SUCKLE RUNATAB APSE (for the clue) MEWS (for the info in the clue and because as soon as I had the M I was sure it was MOWS or MEWS) NATURIST.

If I saw a mint KCAR (rare I would think) I might say Now there's a classic - maybe satirically. I guess it depends how much you think classic implies classy.

Has there been some implication of late that engineers are compulsively orderly?

albatross shell 12:31 PM  

ETA If you are picking up someone at the airport you would look at flight board for arrival times.

Teedmn 12:36 PM  

At 13 minutes, this might have set a modern day solve time for me on a Tuesday, slowness-wise. Solving in the car with bridges occluding the light and a pen whose ink didn’t want to flow due to being out in the 5 degree temps added to the challenging answers like ELBE and TRIESTE . Like Clare, I used the theme to confirm ELBE and KNUT. Oddly enough, I have no extra ink on the page (and not just because it wouldn’t come out of the nib!) I must have been solving slowly enough to avoid speed errors.

Alex V, this is a great challenge, but maybe better for Wed. than Thurs.

Z 12:55 PM  

I'd buy you a KCAR. A nice Reliant automobile (I was at this concert - 12 years ago - OMG).

I've Got a Name 1:13 PM  

Hey everybody, it's CLARE, no "i".

Austenlover 1:21 PM  

Thanks, Z, for that link. I found myself singing along in my kitchen. Love those guys!

puzzlehoarder 1:45 PM  

A pretty routine Tuesday solve. As with most of the early week fare put out by the NYT there's always something of value to be learned. RAITA was news to me. Today's definition of MEWS is something I've seen before but could really use some brushing up on. I checked the xwordinfo lists and it's only been used in the plural for that meaning. MEW can also be used as a verb to mean 'confine' but that's mainly a Scrabble thing which the NYT seems to avoid. BOWE was another entry that's good to brush up on.

Like a number of other commenters I'm aware of RPI having a sudden streak. This is it's 4th appearance this year. It only showed up once last year and in 2017 not at all.

In light of some of today's complaints I think it would only be fair for the NYT to put put out a special xwordinfo list of all the pop cultural references prior to 1980 that have been used as entries. This would give all the post boomers something to study and just maybe hold down the whining.

tea73 1:50 PM  

I loved Olivia Coleman and The Favorite. I found this puzzle somewhat easier than average, even without remembering Potterverse money, German rivers and Italian port cities and having to correct uNSHEATHE to ENSHEATHE. The JOINTs definitely helped me through a couple of tricky spots. I'm sure RAITA is on the menu at the Indian restaurants you've been to - order some next time! It's particularly nice if you ordered a particularly spicy dish. I agree with those complaining about TAOism being the same as Confucianism. There were three main philosophies/religions in imperial China (Buddhism was the third.) There was a bit of intermixing, but that doesn't mean they are the same thing at all.

Aketi 1:59 PM  

That was a fun puzzle to come home to after bending joints this morning in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There are legal attacks for all the joints listed, except HIPS and KNUCKLES.

chefbea 1:59 PM  

too hard for me!!! Got all the joints but didn't know a lot of the words And too tough for my birthday!!!

Unknown 2:59 PM  

VERY challenging for a Tuesday. The neck is NOT a joint. It's an entire structure which includes the cervical spine which, itself, is really a string of joints. On NO planet (OK, maybe some other planet, but not planet earth) is the neck a joint.

Blackbird 2:59 PM  

Nothing challenging about this. Easy peasy. Depends on what's in your wheelhouse. Mews, sisal, Utne, Bowe and raita were gimmes for me. And no Naticks either. What I didn't know didn't cross another didn't know.

Fine easy puzzle. Interesting.

Masked and Anonymous 3:37 PM  

Whaaat? Eight joints, and not a KNUT's-worth of pot to puff on? In-con-ceivable. Thanx heavens, there were cinnamon rolls to be had, at our house.

Runt-roll themers. Not an easy theme construction project to roll joints with. Desperation will ensue. And knut-suckling, evidently.

staff weeject pick: TIL. It does a nice runt-roll upward, to become TILE. Or downward to get TILDERS [which aren't a thing, but oughta be]. Primo weeject stacks, in the hip and knee areas.

fave fillins include: SUCKLE. BOXUP. OAKLEAVES. ENSHEATHE. ENTUTEE [54-D, preceded by a runt-roll from out of the east]. STUCCO. SKIMPS. KNELL.

Thanx for the tough fun, Mr. Vratsanos. It kinda spiced up the joint.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Banana Diaquiri 3:57 PM  

There are legal attacks for all the joints listed, except HIPS and KNUCKLES.

there isn't a legit martial art that allows strikes (actual contact) to the KNEE. if attacked in the real world, is different.

YaleNotreDame Dave 4:00 PM  

Good puzzle overall, but I SHOULD say -- although I'm not "obliged to" -- that I agree it is a poor clue, and a definitionally dubious one...

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

Happy birthday chefbea!!!

chefbea 5:07 PM  

@anonymous 4:02 thanks!!!

Joe Dipinto 5:27 PM  

Hey, it's a Spike Lee JOINT!

Spike was pretty annoyed that GREEN BOOK won, but at least so did the Knicks. I liked what he said later: "Every time someone's driving someone I get screwed!" (or words to that effect, referring to Miss Daisy 30 years ago).

I loved THE FAVOURITE and hated THE WIFE so I'm glad Olivia Colman won over Glenn Close; she gave the more interesting performance of the two.

I liked this puzzle. The smattering of obscure-ish words played well on a Tuesday for me. I always have trouble remembering if it's DEATH KNOLL and GRASSY KNELL or the other way around.

albatross shell 5:43 PM  

Maybe I was wrong about should being an accurate clue for oblige. Both can speak of
A moral compulsion to act but from different temporal or subjective positions. I should apologize for this mistake. I am obliged to apologize for this mistake. Should = am or is obliged to? I'm sure some grammatist will oblge me with a proper description of this situation.

BobL 5:46 PM  

I'm confused. Is anal not a word?

Anonymous 5:47 PM  

Distinction without a difference. Calm down.

jae 6:16 PM  

@Unknown 11:25 - I think you meant to say TV series adaptation of Le Carre’s “The Night Manager”, which is available on Amazon Prime.

JC66 6:18 PM  



Flying Pediatrician 6:29 PM  

Right there with you, brother! Can’t remember the last time I was Naticked on a Tuesday?

bauskern 6:50 PM  

This must have been in my wheelhouse, b/c I found it very easy. Still, liked the joints strewn throughout the grid.
I'm not a fan of the NRA, but thought the clue was clever.
And i was waiting for Rex to go ape#$%^ over anal . . . . .

Unknown 7:29 PM  

Time posted by Arkansas girl who has been solving for a year and a half: 27:39

Unknown 8:40 PM  

The “neck” has many small joints within it but is not itself a joint. Horrible end.

Anonymous 8:41 PM  

......and u go Sara!

CDilly52 9:30 PM  

Thank you to all my friends at the U of Illinois circa 1969-74 who taught me about beer - good beer, foreign beer, craft beer, horrible beer. But never that 3.2 crap!! So ASAHI fell right in and saved the NE for me. In fact, when I saw the Japanese beer clue, I flashed back to a beer tasting night at Lum’s on University On my birthday the summer after I met my not-yet-husband and we all joked that the ASAHI tasted like bamboo shoots in bad Asian food! With the joint thheme, it made the stickier parts completely doable for me. Took average Tuesday time, and most everything except RAITA was in the wheelhouse. I did not dislike this as much as others but I absolutely enjoyed Clare’s analysis.

Carola 9:49 PM  

For me, definitely a harder than usual Tuesday, despite the ease of ELBOWing right into the theme. I liked the international array:
ELBE, DANK (=thanks), EMIL

@kitshef, also the Eder.

jaymar 12:02 AM  

In all my years working at hospitals I never heard an emergency operation (68) called an evac

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

PTLstood for "Praise the Lord," which is what I shouted when slimy Jim Bakker went off to the slammer.
The show was known as The PTL "Club."

Monty Boy 9:11 PM  

This is a day late (and a dollar short?), but I'll respond to one of the last comments. Here's how I interpreted emergency operation:

The evac does not refer to a hospital operation, but an evacuation as a tactical maneuver (operation), usually in some strerssful situation, that is, and emergency. Let's evacuate the town before the flood hits us.

Unknown 12:11 AM  

TIme posted by Arkansas girl who has been solving for a year and a half: 42:19.

Burma Shave 9:36 AM  


With (K)NELL ICHAT, HUG, and NECK ‘TIL I SUCKLE and wish
that I SHOULD not be at her BECK for a KNUCKLE sandwich.


Burma Shave 10:01 AM  

Last time I saw that many JOINTs in one place was a Cheech & Chong movie. One NIT is not the number of TROIS letter answers, but how many are abbr.s: KGB NRA RPI IPA ETA CNN.

I had several KCARs back in their day. As Clare’s dad pointed out they were not classic in any sense except they were around way back in the ‘80s, if that means ‘classic’.

And I’ve still got a coupla MINOLTA cameras that are older than KCARs. Classic?

I can’t stretch any of these answers INTO a yeah baby. Maybe @spacey can.

Didn’t take long to tie this puz up in a BOWE.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Well, that's twice now for those of you playing along at home, so it SHOULD be no secret.

spacecraft 10:55 AM  

Pretty much what @Claire said; Mr. V. is just lucky that it's OFL's day off. I'm sure he'd DEMUR strongly about that SW corner, with KGB sitting right next to NRA.

Yes, hard for a Tuesday with all that weird fill, including a total Natick at sq. 10. I guessed S; just fortunate. No, @rondo aka @BurmaShave (somehow), I can't find a DOD either. Almost, if you sneak an R onto the end of SOMME, you have yeah baby Elke.

Theme OK but too dense to support a viable fill set. Bogey.

centralscrewtinizer 11:12 AM  

Had to look up 'callipygian' as dropped by Gill. Thanks for the new word.

rainforest 2:48 PM  

Nice puzzle. I might have rewarded myself with a celebratory JOINT, but I don't do that anymore, sadly. Possibly the clue for SHOULD might have read differently, but there are individuals who take SHOULD as "must".

The puzzle played easy-medium for me, especially after ELBOWing my way in. Also relevant give my various JOINT ailments with which my friends sympathize if not believe.

#1 son went through a KLEPTO phase when he was eleven, but getting caught and thoroughly embarrassed was the death KNELL for that episode of his life.

Nice to have a Tuesday which kept up my interest throughout.

leftcoastTAM 3:10 PM  

Felt like an array of pieces that needed to be stuck together after getting the various JOINTs sorted out. Is the NECK a "joint"? Maybe a mega-joint? Nah.

Natick alert: the T in the RAITA/TAO cross.Always have thought of Confucianism as a civic or ancestral kind of philosophy or religion, TAO much more spiritual and abstract. Went with TAO because I had to.

SISAL/ ENSHEATHE also slowed things down a bit.

Came out of this clean and was glad to finish, but didn't feel very neat about it.

Diana,LIW 6:22 PM  

@Spacemeister - I have that JOINT pain (everywhere) too - no one can see it, but it sure is there. Got a shot for it last summer, which lasted for over 3 months. May get another prior to traveling for vacation in other lands. And my one and only KLEPTO experience (told by a friend it would be okay since the candy bag was already opened!) was short lived - my ten-y-o conscience told my mom, who had me go back to the store and pay for it. Still waiting for the cops to appear.

Otherwise a fine if shady Tuesday puz. Hey BS - get your name straight.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 6:53 PM  

No NRA answer in this puzzle. WTF are you talking about?

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

61d = NRA

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