Village of the Prancing Pony inn in Lord of the Rings / TUE 2-18-20 / 1930s boxing champ Max / Storms are brewin in her eyes in a 1986 #1 hit

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Constructor: John Guzzetta

Relative difficulty: Easy (3:16 first thing in the a.m.—before 5 a.m., to be precise-ish—is very fast for a Tuesday)

THEME: PARALLEL PARKS (36A: Does a driving test task — or an apt description of the five circled diagonals in this puzzle) — U.S. National Parks run parallel to one another in the circled diagonals:

  • DENALI (Alaska)
  • GLACIER (Montana)
  • REDWOOD (California)
  • ACADIA (Maine)
  • ARCHES (Utah)
Word of the Day: Glacier National Park  —
Glacier National Park is an American national park located in northwestern Montana, on the Canada–United States border, adjacent to the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. The park encompasses over 1 million acres (4,000 km2) and includes parts of two mountain ranges (sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains), over 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals. This vast pristine ecosystem is the centerpiece of what has been referred to as the "Crown of the Continent Ecosystem," a region of protected land encompassing 16,000 square miles (41,000 km2). (wikipedia)

• • •

I have surprisingly few feelings about this one. I think the theme idea is very clever. Slightly odd to see a theme based around U.S. National Parks that does *not* feature either YELLOWSTONE or YOSEMITE (what I think of as the two most iconic U.S. National Parks), but these five parks are all very well known; Glacier was the only one whose location I had to look up, though it's probably more famous than ACADIA, which I know about only because it's in the northeast (like me) and I once looked into going there (still never been to Maine, weirdly). So what we have are five parks, which form a slightly arbitrary but still very solid set, and you cannot argue with their parallelness. So the revealer actually involves wordplay, and doesn't just sit there pointing at the themers like the world's most bored and useless tour guide. If you'd simply described the theme to me, I'd say "sounds nifty" (maybe not in those exact words). But the experience of solving this one was rather flat. The main problem was that the puzzle was soooooo easy that I actually never noticed the letters in the circled squares. Didn't have to. I hesitated significantly only once, when trying to navigate the GARDENED / TERRARIA crossing early on (wanted TERRARIA to be a different word I couldn't call to mind, which I realized, after I was finally done, was MENAGERIE). After getting out of the NW corner, I made one error (AIR for ACT at 22D: Something a false person puts on) but otherwise filled in the grid pretty much as fast as I could read the clues. Is my speed / theme-neglect the puzzle's fault? Well, yeah, kinda. Make people have to notice the theme elements! This is especially important in a puzzle that Doesn't Have Any Theme Answers (beyond the revealer). Solving this was like solving a very weak themeless (weak because the fill is constrained by a theme, which does exist, but is simply invisible to me). I actually wouldn't have minded this as a Wednesday or even Thursday puzzle with (much) tougher cluing.

As for that fill, it's passable. There are definitely unattractive moments (GARS OMAHAN UNS SSA) but I know how hard it is to fill a puzzle with fixed diagonal words / phrases shooting through it. Seems like it should be easier than filling a grid with normal fixed Across/Down themers, but it is *not*. It's harder. The way to look at it is, you might have technically the same number of theme *squares* but the number of *answers* you've now conscripted into your theme scheme goes through the roof. Hardly any answers dont have at least one fixed theme letter in them. This makes building the grid very tough. Normally in a corner you can tear it all out and start again if you don't like it, but once you decide on these themers and this grid shape, you're locked in to those diagonals and they are touching evvvvvverything. It's messy and annoying and frustrating. This is not to defend junky fill at all. Only to explain that filling this grid is probably harder than it looks, and the amount of junk in this grid didn't seem any higher than the amount in any other NYTXW grid. Again, the experience of filling it all in was not exactly scintillating, but I'm actually surprised the grid didn't buckle in a much more visible and alarming way. In short, I've done worse. The theme is conceptually strong. I like CERBERUS (notably untouched by theme letters!) (64A: Dog guarding the gates of the underworld). There's more good than bad here.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:19 AM  

In John's picture in XwordInfo, he's sitting in the great outdoors, donning a big hiking backpack, and I can just picture the moment he, with a passion for hiking and for making puzzles (27 in the NYT), hit this theme, that big "Yes!" echoing across the canyon.

Placing the theme answers on the diagonal, I'm guessing, forced answers not normally seen on Tuesdays, such as CERBERUS, DICTA, MONADS, LABAN, and ARDENCY. I liked that; it de-slumbered my brain, brought it to its happy place. Right in the middle of all the puzzle's parks is Montana's GLACIER National Park, which is home to black and grizzly bears, and that's fitting, as this must have been a bear to construct, and John, thank you for that effort, which, for me, brought a taste of honey.

GILL I. 6:25 AM  

Well, Rex, I'm glad you found it easy. You like ketchup on your fries, I don't. But I do like mayonnaise and this had some fine homemade fresh out of the blender. My problem was adding too much oil in that mashup corner with Rachel's father and the Fisher clothing woman. I also couldn't remember how that underground dog spells his name. So I'm thinking THIS ISN'T TUESDAY. THIS IS A WEDNESDAY AT THE VERY LEAST. that off my chest.
I always like a John Guzzetta. I also like the name BRIAN as long as you don't clue it with a Queen.
The only national park I've been to is Yosemite which I mispronounce but I liked that you got all of these in a PARALLEL configuration. Oh, wait...I did go to REDWOOD once. It has Redwoods that unfortunately get burned down during our fires. (sigh)...

Hungry Mother 6:50 AM  

Got the parks right away and tried for them. Disappointed about Yosemite missing. Good fun.

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

did not notice the theme until after the easy fill. it must have been a difficult grid to create. but, like the fill, glaciers are impressive. hard not to be in awe when you see one in person.

last year in Chile Patagonia i visited Glacier San Rafael. The boat crew fished a piece of ice out of the water, dug a hold on one side, and the passengers each drank a shot of whiskey from the "ice cup." Fantastic!

i'm just back from 10 days in Chile at Torres del Paine park and a day on the Argentine side visiting Perito Moreno Glacier in their Glacier National Park. This area is known as the Southern Patagonia Ice Field and is the third largest ice field in the world after Antarctica and Greenland. Length: 370km, average width: 35km, 48 major glaciers, more than 100 minor glaciers. Perito Moreno Glacier is bigger than Buenos Aires City. Did not know.

Fun fact: Glaciers have two important roles. They are a climate regulator. They keep the planet cool by reflecting back 45 to 85% of the sunlight. They are an important freshwater reservoir. Only 3% of all water on our planet is fresh.


PatC 6:55 AM  

Really easy and fun though I didn’t see the themes till I was done. But love National Parks so that was nice. Rex, you haven’t missed anything by not visiting Maine. After 5 years in Presque Isle, when we left we headed north to Canada to get out so we didn’t have to spend another day in that god-awful place. If you do go, go in July. It’s the only decent month (if you can stand the black flies).

OffTheGrid 7:08 AM  

When I see this many circles, especially arranged as they are, I go after them. I started in the NE and got ARCHES. Oh (or AHA) I see, National Parks. Neat(O)! I got the others along with a good bit of the fill. Then I just finished the solve, noting the clever revealer (not so much a revealer as a unifier of the park answers).
There were lots of good entries and little drek. @Lewis points out some of them. I also liked TERRARIA and KEISTERS (a synonym appears in today's Mini). I thought this was a great puzzle.

kitshef 7:10 AM  

I had enough to see the diagonal REDWOOD, and quickly guessed the theme would be different types of trees and the revealer would be TIM-BER!

B.C.E. A.I.G. A.L.S. T.C.U. Y.T.D. C.P.U. S.S.A.

Some extremely non-Tuesday stuff appears today. BREE, LABAN, IAN as clued, maybe BAER? BAER a gimme for me but I’m not sure how known is among The Youngs.

And that ????clue???? for SARA. I’m sure Joe D will let us know what song that’s talking about. At least give us the artist – a lot more useful than the year.
[Post-YouTube update: Nope, knowing the band would not have helped at all.]

webwinger 7:14 AM  

Agree with @RP that this puzzle was very easy, maybe too easy—more than a minute faster than my average Monday [SIC] time; didn’t even look at many of the Down clues. Also agree with his wildly positive overall assessment: “not exactly scintillating… I’ve done worse… there’s more good than bad… fill [is] passable.” Seriously, folks who’ve been around here for a while will recognize this as a Rex rave. And also seriously, today’s comments from OFL were a great example of what makes me continue to read him every day: very astute (and amusing) explication of why diagonal themers are a bear to work with; hilarious characterization of the revealer as “[not] just [sitting] there pointing like the world’s most bored and useless tour guide”; crediting the theme for being “nifty”, using that exact word.

Steph 7:17 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle. It was on the easier side but there was enough of interest from a variety of eras and disciplines to keep me happy. Like Rex, I got hung up on terraria — I thought they were just for plants, not animals, right? Also faltered on young uns without the apostrophe. (Young ‘uns).

Music Man 7:26 AM  

“Sara” was a 1986 #1 hit by Starship (formerly Jefferson Starship, which was formerly Jefferson Airplane).

RavTom 7:29 AM  

DICTA threw me. In law, dicta (short for obiter dicta) are judicial pronouncements that aren’t necessary to the ruling and so not binding precedent. In other words, they are precisely the opposite of mandates.

BobL 7:43 AM  

Quite clever. We're off to a good week.

Z 7:47 AM  

Rex said, "and you cannot argue with their parallelness." And I thought you knew us.

Got to the revealer and it wasn't just the ol' side eye. I twitched. This is not how you PARALLEL PARK. These PARKS are angle parking, you know that parking innovation because backing up while turning and then having to reverse the turn of the front wheels is way to complicated for people. Then, to make it worse, these PARKS park like a bunch of damn tourists who can't manage to pull all the way into their parking spots. This theme reminded me of that famous Sartre quote, "Hell is other drivers."

Easy. Did a self-inflicted slowdown by putting RECALL where CRIMEA belonged (I was working up off of what I thought was ACRID), wasting precious nanoseconds. Also tried diagonal PARKS before the twitching began. Otherwise easy peasy.

I did circle the clue for IDEALIST. That is not what I understand the word to mean. A certain disconnectedness from reality is always implied, no cherishing going on. Something more like a stubbornness, or even covetousness, is implicit in calling someone an IDEALIST. Bernie Sanders is the current IDEALIST poster child, railing against the evils of the system while never actually doing anything to make it better. Anyway, the clue suggested it can be a compliment and in my experience even at its most complimentary there's an implicit criticism.

pabloinnh 8:01 AM  

Hand up for looking for trees after REDWOOD, but ARCHES disabused me of that notion, and then it was fun trying to suss out the park with just a letter or two. And even though I was our class's champion speller right through eighth grade, when we stopped competing, I always have trouble with the order of the L's in PARALLEL. Nice to have some crosses to straighten me out there.

Happy to remember BREE almost instantly. Probably helps to have read LOTR seven or eight times.

I don't share @Unknown's opinion of Maine. We go over a couple of times a year to visit the beaches, and Portland is acquiring a reputation as a very happening place. If you want to avoid the black flies, stick to the coast. Or just stay out of New England entirely, because this is where they live. Also Canada, only worse.

Fun stuff, JG.. Thanks for a nice Tuesdecito.

Z 8:07 AM  

How important is knowing the artist? Well, I don't know about you but I spent at least three nanoseconds pondering how that could be a lyric in this song. Oh! It's Starship you say. That makes more sense. Personally, I prefer Jefferson Airplane.

Suzie Q 8:08 AM  

Nice easy Tuesday with a sprinkling of some un-Tuesday answers.
I usually get any LOTR answer but don't remember Bree.
Most of what I know of biblical names was learned from Xwords but I don't know and never heard of Laban.

I love being reminded of these lovely parks. I've been to each of these except Denali.
I don't know what @ Anon (6:52) has against Maine but I loved visiting there. I was astonished by the heavy accents I heard there.
I wasn't sure it was even English.

Joaquin 8:16 AM  

What a great way to close out my Presidents’ Day. If only the answer for 24A (DOTARD) had been used at 45D (also a six letter entry) - then my day would have been complete!

As an aside: There doesn’t seem to be universal agreement among those who care about these things as to the actual name of the holiday. Is it President’s Day, Presidents’ Day, or Presidents Day? Or are we going to need to change it next year to Presidunce Day?

PatC 8:38 AM  

Maine — a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. :)

wilsch 8:40 AM  

DOTARD is a great word. It reminds me of when Kim Jong Un referred to Donald Trump as a dotard, accusing him of "mentally deranged behavior ".

Bubbabythebay 8:54 AM  

Not a Mainer, but we make several trips every year..ACADIA, Mount Katahdin, Sugarloaf, Sunday River for the skiing. No idea why it's getting such a bad rap. I suspect Mainers like it that way.Keeps the riff-raff out

SouthsideJohnny 9:27 AM  

Wow, an objective, coherent review from Rex Parker - he even elaborated on some of the details and intricacies involved in filling out a grid constrained by the unusual theme entries (channeling his inner Anoa Bob, I might add). I wonder what’s up with the lack of venom and vitriol today - does Rex pal around with the constructor ? Maybe they are drinking buddies who get together now and then to throw back a few.

The names of the PARKS are PARALLEL in the grid, so the wordplay in the revealer works fine (PARKS is a verb in the grid, but used as a noun in the revealer). No problem with that at all in my opinion.

The requisite foreign word (MUY) was pretty tame today - wish that were the case more frequently. GoT, Potter, Star Wars and Disney all had the day off today, so Lord of the Rings got a spot start and filled in nicely.

As an aside - It’s been a while since ISSA RAE graced us with her presence - hopefully she will re-appear one day this week. I’m not a big fan of today’s faux-plural (BASSI) which seems pretty lame (even by the very, very low standards set by the Times in this department).

Today’s bible study entry (LABAN) seems a touch esoteric for a Tuesday - I imagine he would feel right at home on a Thursday or Friday.

kitshef 9:28 AM  

@Joaquin- according to the Federal Government, it is Washington's Birthday. And here in Virginia, it is George Washington Day. Your local experience may vary.

Amelia 9:36 AM  

I rarely do a Tuesday, but I was feeling like it. It was easy, as Tuesdays are, but not unpleasant. None of those Oreo clues. I even forgive the parallel/angle parking, because otherwise we're a bunch of heinous nitpickers.

As for the circled clues, I rarely use them, but I have to say (admit) that I needed one for the Brian answer, not knowing how to spell it.

But I have to laugh, as I know the constructor did, at the hilarious, convoluted, Shakespearean clue for "or a." When you think of all the ways one could have clued that, does a slightly obscure quote from A Midsummer's Night Dream come to mind first? I have to know how that happened. Maybe he writes about it somewhere. Will report back if I find it.

Amelia's complaint of the day: One of the Beatles? Cmon.


pmdm 9:37 AM  

Z: The revealer does not refer to how you park an automobile. It refers to a group of parks that are parallel to each other. If you look at it that way, the revealer makes sense. Perhaps trickier than most Tuesday revealers.

Extremely easy puzzle (which I expect on a Tuesday) that included enough of PPP I didn't know that I was forced into many guesses. Enjoyable.

If you don't like forests, the wilderness and the like, I can see why you would not like Maine. But I love hiking through that type of territory (but not back-pacing). To each his or her own.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Glacier is gorgeous!!!! Though my family disagrees, I think it's better than Grand Teton (so pretty) and Yellowstone ( so varied). Easy to do all three in one trip.

Nancy 9:39 AM  

Have I ever DNFed on a Tuesday puzzle before now? I don't think so. But I ran the alphabet three times when I had ?EARLESS for "like baby shampoo" and couldn't come up with TEARLESS. What on earth is TEARLESS baby shampoo? I use grown-up shampoo and I'm pretty sure it doesn't have any TEARS in it, either. And of course I didn't know ?CU for the "Horned Frogs School". What kind of nickname is that for any self-respecting school? (Sorry Texas or Tennessee or Tampa or Trenton or Toronto or whatever that "T" stands for.)

I also realize that I have never heard or seen the name LABAN in my life. How is that even possible when Rachel and Leah are so well-known? I've never claimed to be any kind of expert on the Bible, but really Nancy!!! Maybe I only skimmed that chapter?

Other than that, I liked this puzzle a lot. I thought the theme was based on a clever double meaning of the word PARKS. I thought the PARKS were useful in helping with the solve. Or in my case the non-solve. And I appreciated such un-Tuesday-like fill as DICTA, DOTARD and MONADS. A very nice job.

RooMonster 9:50 AM  

Hey All !
PARALLEL PARKS. Works fine for me. PARKS that are PARALLEL. Can't be more straightforward than that. Agree with Rex this was way tough to fill. Lots of open space with each theme letter used three times. Plus the 13 Revealer in the middle. Hats off to John.

Didn't feel to me like it was un-themed. You saw the circles, knew something was in them, so to me it just flowed like a regular puz would. As @kitshef said, I started getting car names first, DENALI and ACADIA, figuring it would be a Car Theme puz (Hell, for @Nancy), but then got REDWOOD, and the car notion went out the window. (Har)

Had my one-letter DNF at BCc. ARGH! Completely forgot about BCE, and since not knowing the clothes person, cILEEN could've been a viable name. Usually off work on Tuesdays, so do the puz online, and lost my streak of completed correctly TuesPuzs. Drat.

Another puz with no F's. I started my "Respect for the F!" campaign after noticing this trend in the past. Poor little guys. It's odd, since the F gets used many times in real life, in one particular word, especially as an insult! :-)


GILL I. 9:52 AM  

@pablito...I did my uh oh dance after reading @unknown and thought you might chime in. We drove from Keene NH up to Boothbay Harbor. This was sometime in the early summer. The place reminded me of Sausalito AND THE FOOD!!!! Lobsters, clams, raw oysters (no black flies involved in the cooking)....Loved what we saw of Maine. MUY bonito.

jberg 9:54 AM  

In the paper, the clue for 36A is at the top of the second column, and happened to catch my eye. Hmm, thought I, sounds like PARKS. I took a look, saw it had to be much longer, counted the spaces and saw that PARALLEL PARKS fit, whereupon I started trying to guess the park names. I could mostly do that from a few crosses, which made the puzzle really, really easy, despite the Air before ACT error.

If you haven't been to GLACIER NP, go right away, as the glaciers are melting away at a rapid pace. Wait too long, and they'll be gone, and the mountain goats won't have anything to drink.

Almost as many people are flocking to Maine as to Vermont; Portland is a fantastic city, and there's lots of stuff both on the coast and in the mountains. The North Woods is threatened by development, as the timber companies have found it's more profitable to sell the land than to grow trees. The part of ACADIA on the mainland is beautiful but overrun by tourists; but take a boat to Isle au Haut, half of which is part of the park, and you'll love it.

I put in TERRARIA without much thought, but I can see why Rex wanted 'menagerie,' as terraria are actually meant for plants.

Z 10:06 AM  

@pmdm - Nay! I say Nay! "Does a driving test task" sayeth the clue. The PARKS doth park. See, now I'm twitching in Shakespearean.

@Ameilia - My theory is you go Shakespeare for OR A to lend a patina of high culture to the puzzle.

@Nancy - TEARLESS as in doesn't make a baby cry.

@kitshef is correct, in as much as we agree on what Presidents' Day should be. If I'm remembering correctly, we celebrated both February 12 and February 22 in Michigan when I was young, but now it is only Washington being celebrated. Also, note that every placement (or absence) of the apostrophe is used somewhere. So we celebrate Washington's birthday not on his birthday, but on a random Monday near his birthday, and then pick willy nilly other presidents we think worthy of celebration. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

I had air too briefly and was like wtf ? Never heard that as a singular. My bad. How about Trump letting Putin annex Crimea and not sending weapons to Ukraine. Unbelievable.

What? 10:20 AM  

Clever idea but way too easy. Fill in one park and then zip zip.
I like a puzzle that’s a crossword+puzzle where after a complete fill there is still something to figure out. For example, leave out the circles. Imagine searching for - what? Great fun.
I think it was Nancy who pointed out that difficulty in construction doesn’t necessarily lead to difficulty (i.e. fun) in solving and this work demonstrates that. Placing fills in a diagonal is much harder than vertically or horizontally so congrats to the constructor. It’s too bad he got caught up in Shortz’s obsession with the weekly gradient.

pmdm 10:33 AM  

Z: There's an "or" in the clue. Your problem stems from the first clause, which does result in a problem. But considering only the second clause, that clause is correct.

To give an absurd example, consider this sentence. "Humans have three legs - or humans have two legs." Only one of the clauses need be correct for the sentence to be correct. Were the sentence changed to "[Some] humans have three legs AND [some] humans have two legs" the sentence would be obviously wrong. It is easy to understand two statements connected by OR to instead be connected by AND, which from the standpoint of logic mean two very different things.

Whatsername 10:34 AM  

Really good puzzle with a nice theme and fill but aside from that, I agree 100% with @Z at 7:47. PARALLEL also means equidistant. It would be better if the matching circles were straight downs or straight crosses with the same number of spaces in between. This appears as diagonal parking which is okay, but if you’re using imagery with PARALLELPARKS as your revealer then the finished puzzle should look like it. The circles would be at equal distances down or across, not angled and randomly spaced. Yes, the names of the parks are all lined up next to one another, but this business of paralleling on the diagonal just kind of muddled it up for me.

What? 10:37 AM  

Parallel park(ing)?
_ _ _parallel parking
\\\\\\ angle parking
So why are the fills diagonal?

Whatsername 10:41 AM  

@Nancy: TEARLESS shampoo does not burn or cause tearing if it gets in your eyes. You can also find it in pet stores. I use it on my dogs because they hate getting their faces wet and it helps if I don’t have to worry about it getting in their eyes.

Joaquin 10:43 AM  

Does "There's more good than bad here" qualify as a rave review from Rex?

David 10:54 AM  

Another one who thought tree after Redwood to catch the theme on Arches.

Fella up there bashing Maine lived in *Presque Isle* OMG, sure that's on the US side of the border, but it's still French Canadian and the real boondocks. Complaining about no action there is like pitching a tent in Diana Bay, QE and complaining about the lack of 4 star restaurants. Lots of folks love living in such places because of the beauty and a quieter way of life. It's not for everybody.

Johnson and Johnson used "tearless" in the baby shampoo ads for years. There was a lot I liked in the puzzle which I thought a bit much for a Tuesday but Rex thinks is too easy. Hmmm. I liked seeing dicta, cerberus, sensie, triage, Laban, and Baer making beards.

I thought maybe Laban was only in the Hebrew bible, but no, he made it into the newer versions as well.

From what I see on a daily basis I don't think parallel parking is on anybody's driving test any more. Certainly not in NY. I think here, and in most of the Northeast, the test consists of the clerk asking, "do you know where the key goes?" and, if the answer is "yes," you get a license.

fun puzzle

JC66 11:01 AM  

The clue for 36 A is

Does a driving test task - or an apt description of the five circled diagonals in this puzzle.

Malsdemare 11:13 AM  

I'm not going to read Rex until I comment on this one. I loved it, it absolutely sang to me. Our national parks need to be celebrated loudly and often. I've hiked ARCHES and GLACIER, will hike ACADIA this summer with my daughters. REDWOOD is on my list; DENALI is probably a lost cause but oh, Canyonlands, Grand Teton, Yellowstone. Be still my heart. Some of my best memories are of days and nights camping in our national treasures.

And the rest was delightful. A little easy stuff, some pop culture I don't know, some I did, AYN Rand and John LENNON make an appearance, some clever clues, fun answers. What's not to like?

Okay, off to see what others thought.

Nancy 11:17 AM  

Thanks @Z, @Whatsername and @David for the TEARLESS shampoo explanation. I suppose if I hadn't been muting commercials* for the last 40 years or however long it's been since the mute button on the remote was invented I might have known that.

Z 11:34 AM  

@pmdm - “to give an absurd example,...” I thought that was what I was doing.

@JC66 - “Apt?” @What pretty much debunked that.*

@David - In Michigan the Driving test has been privatized. My three kids had very different experiences. The oldest failed his first test because he didn’t immediately pull over when there were sirens. His test included a lengthy test including merging onto a very busy freeway and all kinds of parking tests. The second did a less than wonderful job on the parallel parking part but still passed and a much shorter road test part. I’m pretty sure with the youngest that the test administer would have skipped the driving part altogether for $5. Your description is becoming increasingly accurate I fear.

*You guys are making me worried. I thought my opening line was indication enough. Let me quote my Introduction on my Blogger Profile, I only mean half of what I say. I never know which half. I refuse to be any less oblique. Or is it parallel.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Mikey Likes It!!! so did I. never heard of REDWOOD national park, but then I'm an effete Eastern intellectual, nattering on in my anti-Trump negativism. where's Spiro when we need him? oh, and Nixon's AG did go to jail. sauce for the goose and all that. we'll see.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

as to J&J baby shampoo, the ad tag is "No More Tears", not TEARLESS. at least when I was a baby. and just innterTube searched, and a picture of the bottle came up, it's printed with "No More Tears". so fail!!!!

Joe Dipinto 11:52 AM  

Trivia question: which one of these parks was not commemorated on a National Park Quarter? Answer: Redwood – the California quarter features Yosemite. (I collect these as I come across them. With ardor, not ardency. I'm missing a few of the recent releases.) Redwood seems to be comprised of several separate parks.

This was fun. The parallel display was clever and impressive. Once I figured out the revealer I was able to insert the remaining parks with just a letter or two. I agree with Rex it would have been better if the parks didn't disappear into the surroundings with no individual cluage.

Yes it's Starship's Sara as opposed to Stevie Nicks's mystical Sara or Hall & Oates's glum unsmiling Sara, or Doris Day's cheerily futuristic Kaye Sará-Sará. Now we need an Eileen.

Hartley70 11:55 AM  

This was very ambitious for a Tuesday and I was pleased not to find it the usual Tuesday easy. I wanted vitrines rather than TERRARIA because I imagined we were talking about those little collectible glass animals. I DIDN’t know SARA’s song. I had to get LABAN from the crosses. I liked the cluing for BEARDS. I don’t know the Queen member, but good old SAL is right out of my youth. This took twice my usual time and that was fine. The National PARKs were a nice surprise. They made me consider that from this group I’ve only visited ACADIA. Is it time to rent an RV?

Masked and Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Nice set of parks. My fave of the 3 I've been to is GLACIER, but they're all beautz. Would luv to visit DENALI and ARCHES someday. They are in the only two states we ain't set foot into, yet.

Agree with @RP: a hard kind of puz to construct. The extra accommodations U find yerself makin, when fillin in around diagonal answers, can make U feel trapped like a puzrat in a maze. U end up havin to dredge up a lot of vowel-vowel or consonant-consonant fill holders. I wonder how many park placements the constructioneer tried out, before findin a layout that would even work. Probably ended up workin for about 10 cents per hour.

BRIAN/LABAN/BCE/ARDENCY area devoured a few precious nanoseconds, but GLACIER came to our rescue.

But do agree with those solvers who found this to be a slightly feisty TuesPuz. (OK by m&e, tho … enjoyed the extra tuesfeist fest.)

staff weeject pick: MUY. Has that there backward YUM thing workin for it.

Thanx for the diagonal/parallel parkin places tour, Mr. Guzzetta. Heckuva good job.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


JC66 11:56 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Escalator 12:02 PM  

Not for nothing, but SSA is not just for retirees. You can draw on SSA while still working. Of course, I may be picking nits here.......

Z 12:05 PM  

This reminded me of what @Nancy said yesterday.

JC66 12:05 PM  


Sorry, but how is PARALLEL PARKS not an apt description of the five circled diagonals in the puzzle? Are they not parks and aren't they parallel to each other? And, despite @Whatshernames's 10:34 assertion, don't think they have to be equidistant apart to be parallel.

Gio 12:17 PM  

@anonymous It sounds wonderful in Chile and Argentina seeing Patagonia and the glaciers, I hear it is stunning.
It's interesting how something you were just talking about pops up in a puzzle. I was looking at going to Arches in June, because a friend who saw 30 National Parks said that it was his favorite. So I checked Good Ol' TripAdvisor, and God are people on that site whiners! Talk about White People problems: "The resort was wonderful, spotless, the staff waited on us hand and foot but I'm giving it 2 stars because one night I wanted steak and they were out!" "The fancy bed at the pool where I was having my frozen umbrella drinks, was a bit too hard!" Anyway about Arches it seems that there is a 1-2 hour queue of cars waiting to get in in the summer and the place is mobbed with tourists. I just have no patience for mobs of tourists anymore. I just got back from Iceland and a lot of the tourists were very badly behaved, going into places that were roped off, trampling the flora and delicate environment, to get selfies of themselves (is that redundant?) hanging off cliffs. Same thing at the Grand Canyon- let's see if we can die. It was more about getting a selfie, showing your Instagram followers that you went somewhere, than actually looking at where you were.
I was slow on this puzzle, because I thought I was so smart and wrote in NATIONALPARKS as soon as I saw 2. Then I never heard of this EILEEN clothing and NABAN and I kept trying to put BAEING for BAYING and ARDENCE FOR ARDENCY.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

4 Z posts already and it's only a little after noon.

Joe Dipinto 12:23 PM  

Forget it, @JC66 – it's Chinatown.

jae 12:34 PM  

Mostly easy except for the SE corner ( Hi @GILL I). Clever and pretty smooth given the constraints. Liked it a bunch.

Anoa Bob 12:37 PM  

About a decade ago I finally woke to fact that that we were all tools of capitalist marketing. They have brain washed us into buying their harsh chemicals that strip away all the natural oils in our hair and then buying more chemicals that supposedly put those oils back in. I had three or four bottles of this stuff in the shower rack.

One day I heard myself saying "But what if I don't wash away the oils in the first place? Then I wont need all that gloppy stuff to replace it." So I stopped using any shampoo at all. At first, my hair was a little on the oily side but soon readjusted and became as soft and smooth as an ocelot's fur (and ocelots don't use shampoo either).

So the best TEARLESS shampoo is no shampoo at all! Just warm water and a gentle massage. Try it. Your hair will thank you. Bet you a six pack of your favorite brewski that you will like it.

Jarhead 12:51 PM  

Anonymous 10:15 AM: Russia annexed Crimea during the Obama Administration. Nice try though.

TJS 12:53 PM  

"Mikey likes it !" Wish I had thought of that line. Thought this was a nice smooth Tuesday for a change with just enough off-beat cluing and a dash of rarely seen fill. I am in the "Who the hell is Laban ? crowd. Met an Amor once, though.
How does Rex jump out of bed before 5 AM and solve a puzzle? It may explain some of his crankiness. But todays' explanation of diagonal complexity was interesting. And it seemed to me that our comments were a little more chipper today for the most part. The day is off to a good start.

VictorS 1:00 PM  

I’m a national park service junkie -have visited over 200. Glacier is beautiful but I’d go soon. Estimates are that the glaciers will be gone by 2030 due to climate change. Regarding J&J baby shampoo I think the slogan was “no more tears”

BFB 1:03 PM  

It’s interesting to see all of the individuals here who obviously have the gray matter to compete the New York Times crosswords, yet struggle to understand the word play involved with the theme revealer (which seems about as straightforward as can be). It’s kind of a unique trait of humans that they are frequently not happy unless they are complaining about something (Rex - raise your hand).

I miss LMS and her sparkling prose as well as commentary - she almost always has something nice to say (perhaps she is the AntiRex), I have a hard time understanding Roo Monster from time to time since he tends to speak in code/shortcuts. I definitely haven’t figured out that M&A dude - I guess it is his shtick and he is proud of it. I just don’t understand why someone who is clearly intelligent and articulate would want to come here and post gobbledygook!

Question for the mods - does @Z post like every 15 minutes. Seems like 3 or 4 stabs at it should be enough time to make one’s point. After that it gets repetitive.

Nancy 1:11 PM  

@Z (12:05). That's it!!!! That's it exactly!!!! Wonderful find.

@Anon (12:22) -- Stop giving @Z a hard time. We're bonding.

@Anoa Bob (12:37)-- One of the things I most remember about my father is his strong advocacy for the use of plain soap and water instead of shampoo. It seemed a point of view that was unique to him; everyone back then -- male and female alike -- used shampoo of one sort or another. Since my father had the thickest, most gorgeous jet-black hair you can imagine, I'd say that his hair-care formula worked. So I believe you entirely, @Anoa, when you say that your hair has become "as soft and smooth as an ocelot's fur." Lucky the person who gets to run her hands through it:)

Masked and Anonymous 1:16 PM  

yo, @BFB (1:03pm) - U made some good points in there.
But … I prefer the term "NUBBLYgook".
And @Z is a "magnificent beast", he so gets some slack, at least from m&e.

Otherwise, muy/yum good comment. Thanx.


Anonymous 1:19 PM  

Bye the bye. The notion of PARALLEL PARKing has, at least, two incarnations. The usual is the one you (at least, USED TO) had to do to pass a driver's test - park between two cars at the curb, and no more that a foot or two away (depending on where you live). The one depicted in the puzzle is what's often found in parking lots - the slots are angled such that you drive into the slot in the direction of the lane, so you don't have to do a 90 degree elbow to park. I suppose the engineers have figured out that more slots per square whatever result from such a placement. Of course, the poorly educated generally drive against the intended direction of the lane, and have to make more than a 90 elbow to park. "I have the absolute authority to park any damn way I want!" Guess who they voted for?

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

What is it with SARA or SARAh, that those names garner so many song mentions? There sure aren't many songs about Theresa, just "Sad Theresa" by Warrant that I know of. Sad. That said, my favorite SARAh song doesn't have SARA in the title but SARA features heavily in the admittedly sparse lyrics.

I like the PARALLEL diagonals parked in the grid. I have not been to any of these parks and, after perusing a list of national parks, I found that my beloved BWCA is not a national park and I don't think I've ever ventured west of BWCA to Voyageurs, which is. So the only national park I've ever been to is Haleakalā, and I didn't even know it was a national park when I was there! I was very close to Yellowstone once but didn't go in - my friends were all taking snowmobiles in and I saw no reason to ride a loud, smelly contraption into what should remain a pristine wilderness, in my opinion. So I sat in a bar in the town where the rental place was and waited for them.

Except for a momentary panic at the crossing of TCU and CEREBUS, I found this to be Tuesday average, difficulty-wise. The weird stuff, LABAN, MONADS, BREE, were fairly crossed. And I circled the clue for 26D's BEARDS as clever and one I don't remember seeing before.

Nice job, John Guzzetta!

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

@Victor - Ten years ago they said the glaciers would be gone by 2020. They changed the signs. And no I’m not a climate change denier. It’s real.

Odd Sock 1:23 PM  

@ La Donna 12:17, What sort of racist remark is that? Did the whiners identify themselves? How offensive.
@ BFB, No topic or opinion ever gets past Z. Every Single Day.

OffTheGrid 1:34 PM  

We used to observe Lincoln's birthday and Washington's separately and on the actual dates. The generic Monday president honoring holiday began in 1971. I wonder how many people under 60 know the dates of these 2 B'days.*

* 12th and 22nd respectively.

Anonymoose 1:37 PM  

This puzzle is not about F****** parking!!!

What? 2:00 PM  

Parallel Park means one thing and doesn’t involve diagonals. You could look it up. Yes, the theme fills are parallel as they would ALSO be if all horizontal or vertical. So why diagonals? The constructor and many bloggers give reasons that make no sense. No twisting or turning will make that right.

Joe Dipinto 2:13 PM  

@Teedmn – it must be (at least partially) because the word "Sara" itself is so blandly singable. An "a" vowel sound and "s" and "r" consonant sounds require minimum effort to produce, and are so unobtrusive vocally you can stick them anywhere and they'll probably sound fine.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Odd Sock And BFB,
Just be glad Z hasn't smeared anyone today. Of course, it's still early and it is his go-to move....

old timer 2:22 PM  

Black Flies! The little black flies .. great Bill Staines song. ACADIA! Been there and of course I have a song for it, "The Hills of Isle au Haut" by Gordon Bok. Worth a listen, folks. Which I first heard sung by someone else, so I was convinced it was about the Hills of Idaho! Bok is to all extents and purposes Maine's state poet.

Actually did not make it out to the Isle on my one trip to ACADIA -- stayed in Bar Harbor and made only a brief visit, but my daughter who went to college in Vermont went to ACADIA as often as she could. What my wife and I did do is drive down all those side roads between Bar Harbor and Portland, out to the coast. Beautiful, and I ate a ton of clams.

The puzzle was good,and the obstacles duly noted by OFL.

kitshef 2:35 PM  

More fun Washington's Birthday Facts: Washington was born on February 11, as measured here. The British Empire at that time had not changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. When they finally did so, in 1752, his birthday was "updated" to the 22nd.

Funnily enough, because of the way the Federal Government defines Washington's Birthday, it can never fall on the 11th, nor on the 22nd. It is always the third Monday, which can be as early as the 15th or as late as the 21st.

GILL I. 2:41 PM  

@Anoa Roberto 12:37....There are a lot of people who go au naturale when it comes to the shampoo route. If you have short hair it will work but it takes about 3 months before the greasy oily look goes away.
I've had long hair most of my life and have always struggled with combing out the tangles. I once went camping with a friend for a month and I didn't have any shampoo. I refused to use soap so I just let it go in a very long straggly braid. It looked amazing after I combed it out but it smelled like stale old boots and deer dung.
I now spend big bucks on Hair La Vie. Natural ingredients and Amazon sell it. AND IT SMELLS GOOD!

Hungry Mother 3:19 PM  

I’ve enjoyed many trips to Acadia, but some of my best memories of the state come from a sailing trip in Maine..

Anonymous 3:30 PM  

compare the ingredient lists of: hand/bath soap, shampoo, body wash, dish liquid. you'll see that at least two are detergents (I don't use body wash, but some advert as 'shampoo') that remove grease, while soaps remove dirty stuff and often contain oils and other goop that you really don't want in your hair. if it's longer than a military buzz cut.

edb 3:42 PM  

Let me get this straight. You are solving a puzzle. The creator of the puzzle includes the names of several parks. You are "disappointed" because he didn't choose your favorite park? Have I got that right? You all must have very little disappointment in your lives.

Z 4:02 PM  

@JC66 - Just a point of clarification about something @What said. PARALLEL, by definition, means equidistant because it is about the relationship of exactly two lines in a plane. Since the two lines never intersect any line segment that intersects both lines at a right angle will be the same length. What we are actually saying when we say the five themers are parallel is that each of the themers are parallel to each of the other themers. I will add that this is not what caused my twitching. See @What 10:34 for the most efficient explanation of that.

@Anonymoose - I blame Rex. You can’t challenge us like that and expect us not to rise to the challenge.

@Anoa Bob and @Gill I - I sweat therefore I am. I’ve never needed to use anything to add in “essential oils” because I produce a surfeit of my own. Just water might be sufficient, but I’d probably end up showering 2 or 3 times a day.

I will just leave this here without comment.

Another Anon 4:05 PM  

He smeared Bernie. 7:47

Anonymous 4:21 PM  

Z. Just curious. Why would the world care about what makes you twitch?
And how many posts are you going to subject this forum to today? You've explained your opinion about parallel lines work and how they relate to the puzzle. More than twice. We get it. Enough is enough.

JC66 4:27 PM  


I'm sorry my making 2 points muddied the waters, so to be clear:

1. How is PARALLEL PARKS "not an apt description" (your terminology) of the five circled diagonals in the puzzle? Are they not parks and are they not parallel to each other?

2. If lIne A is 1 inch from line B and 2 inches from line C, lines A & C are 3 inches apart and the 3 lines are parallel. All the lines don't have to be the same distant apart (equidistant) to be parallel.

Unknown 4:33 PM  

The glaciers in Glacier are essentially gone. For mountain scenery and far fewer tourists, go to Yoho. Even if you've never heard of it.

Geezer 4:57 PM  

Self parking cars are an abomination!

Perspective 5:01 PM  

Parallel lines do eventually come together. I learned this by looking down a long straight railroad track.

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

Greenland is melting:

and so is Antarctica: "A 2019 study showed that Antarctica is losing ice six times faster than it was 40 years ago. Another study showed that two glaciers, Pine Island and Thwaites, are melting five times faster than "in the early 1990s""

Anoa Bob 5:20 PM  

@Nancy, I may have exaggerated a bit with the ocelot fur comparison. But not a whole lot.

@Gill & @Z, I think the reason why our hair is especially oily right after going shampooless is that it has been compensating for years of being stripped of its natural, protective oils. But soon it returns to a more natural, less oily state.

Joaquin 6:32 PM  

In my wildest dreams, I never imagined the postings to this blog morphing into a discussion of hair care.

Amelia 6:57 PM  

@z and anyone else talking about driving tests.

For some demented reason, 40-odd years ago, I took the test on a stick shift. That's what I learned on. I was doing pretty horribly and then a ball rolled into the street. I slammed on the brakes and the examiner said he hated to do it, but he passed me right then and there. You know why.

I renew my license every time it comes up.

But I never drove again.

Frosty 7:16 PM  

There is a Catch-22 among the scientists at Glacier National Park. They want to tell people that the glaciers are melting but they want people to come to their park. There’s the catch. No glaciers no visitors no job. Why are they there ?

Anonymous 7:27 PM  

Correct. My mistake.
Didn't take him long.
Anyway,my apology for missing it.
Thanks fir pointing it out.
Why he gets a pass is truly beyond me.

pabloinnh 7:30 PM  

@Anoa Bob, et al-

This used to be perceived wisdom. The jingle was:

Go ahead, douse your hair with water
But protect against dry scalp each day
Vaseline, Vaseline Hair tonic
Puts back oil water washes away
Keeps you well groomed all day.

Yes, Vaseline made a hair tonic.


Space Is Deep 7:36 PM  

A different perspective. I've been doing puzzles for decades so this came to me fairly easily. However, my wife, who is a beginner, found this impossibly difficult. She only does Monday and Tuesday puzzles now. When I do a puzzle now I think, what will she think of it? This puzzle was FULL of clues way harder than a normal Tuesday. Another blogger recently made a similar comment. She teaches a crossword class. This puzzle fit her criteria of a puzzle that would turn off a newbie.

Anonymous 8:08 PM  

This was the easiest puzzle for me in my 6 wks of trying. The parking clue was clear, then every thing else flowed. Thank you John Guzetta

Monty Boy 10:56 PM  

I liked this one a lot. No problem with the reveal clue and parks being parallel.

For my driver's ed class, we had to parallel park. I pulled up, bent the wheel properly, slid right in. Mr. Sterret looked out the right side and asked: Do you think we can walk to the curb from here? I still passed the test and now am a very good parallel parker. For me it's a "feel" for getting just the right angle etc. If I think about it too much it gets very hard.

An old BC comic has BC showing the others how parallel lines don't meet. He has a forked stick, walks quite a distance through sand. He's chagrined when the lines cross (the forked stick wears down). [It's better visually than orally - Google BC Parallel lines never meet]]

albatross shell 2:01 AM  

I must say @Z:
Admit it. You were doing a satire of the people that usually troll you and/or think they are messing with Rex. You took up his challenge and proved anything can be criticized if you stoop to a trolls level. You demonstrating how foolish they are.

The reveal was perfect. Does a driving task: PARALLEL PARKS. Or an apt description of the 5 circled diagonals in the puzzle. They are PARALLEL PARKS. Not parked in parallel.

A perfect reveal.

A couple good misdirects in cluing.

People, including me, have put wee-sculptures of animals in terraria, so OK, I guess.

Loved the shampoo discussion. Ya just never know here do ya.

ChE Dave 1:20 AM  

I’ve had one of those weeks so forgive me for being late to the party...

ARDENCY? Said no one ever. Period.

TERRARIA to me we’re all plant life. But high school bio was a LONG time ago and we didn’t do that stuff in college.

That being said, a little tough for a Tuesday but not unreasonable p.

spacecraft 11:43 AM  

I'll start on a positive note: I agree with OFC (for you late arrivals, Our Fearless Curmudgeon) about the cleverness of the theme. Oh, I thought when I saw it, that's cool. Unfortunately, that just put the PLUS in DPLUS. Dear constructors, if you must use a letter grade in your grid--never good--at least don't set yourself up with DPLUS.

Not a fan of either circles OR diagonals, I get both here. Okay, they're PARKS. And okay, it's harder to fill, as explained by OFC. I didn't realize that until reading his blog today, but of course he's right. Maybe that's why I'm not a fan of diagonals. But sheesh, the fill!

At one time, I GARDENED with ARDENCY. You have to be kidding. Yes, GARDEN is a verb--though it's NEVER used except with the specific suffix -ing. Gardening is a thing. But nobody has ever said they "GARDENED." And the other? It's hard to believe ARDENCY is a real word, but it is. It exists in two places: my Scrabble dictionary and this grid. No doubt other dictionaries too, but that's IT. It does not exist elsewhere.

And who is LABAN? Guess I need a refresher course in Bible study. Never heard of him. I'll give Mr. G. this much: a neat revealer and a splendid DOD in SADE. But overall, it's kind of a 43-across. Bogey.

Burma Shave 1:38 PM  




rondo 2:50 PM  

DENALI is the only one in the bunch I haven’t been to. Mountain biking in ACADIA, boating and horseback riding in GLACIER, hiking in ARCHES and REDWOOD. These are great places.

I spent plenty of time as a youth on the hay racks behind BALERS. Always seemed to be the hottest days of the summer.

I RECALL a woman I met who lived in CRIMEA. Looked great BAER.

One clue circled today for SADE.

Better than a usual Tuesday, I thought.

Diana, LIW 2:57 PM  

Oh what happy memories of parallel parking during my driver's license test. I did not pass (this part!) the first time. I had been practicing, too. But with cars. During the test, I had to park between cones. That was the first and last time I even had to do that. Driving for over 50 years now, no cone parking required. Did live in NYC for a while, and played the "alternate side of the street parking game" with my lil Volks bug. Back when bugs were our friends.

And my mom and grandparents GARDENED all the time. Instilled a great love of the Wild Indoors in me as a child.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting and Waiting and Waiting and Waiting

rondo 3:15 PM  

@D,LIW - we have a guy at work who professes to be an avid indoorsman.

leftcoaster 3:35 PM  

MUY bueno!

A couple of Naticks lying in wait:

the B in ABSORB/BREE cross. Always wonder about AdSORB alternative. Also the C in TCU/CERBERUS cross. Wanted Texas Tech before Texas Christian.

Faltered on the latter.

rainforest 4:44 PM  

SAAB in the corners. Used to be a great car before GM took it over.

I see the grid contains PARALLEL PARKS. Nifty. Only been to two of them. Good theme, good revealer. I had no problems with the fill, but I do wonder if there has ever been a cruel instructor who would award a DPLUS, even if that is probably higher than any grade Trump ever got.

One of the better Tuesdays.

rondo 5:01 PM  

@rainy - good catch on the SAAB.


SAABS - a protest sign I want to make to join in when the Vikings play either the Redskins or Chiefs. The Vikings portray my ancestors as violent and warlike. Haven't yet worked up the nerve to do it.

Unknown 8:45 PM  

Great puzzle for Tuesday. Good to see Max Baer again. Great boxer who died too early and was heavyweight champion even before Joe Louis who attended Baer's funeral. And good to see Sal Mineo. Had forgotten he was murdered at such a young age. So many good clues and answers. Actually like the D-Plus answer - sounds almost ok compared to a D. And agree with Rainforest that Trump deserves a D-Plus or lower, but so do all of the US presidents.

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