Blows one's top / TUES 1-26-21 / Snoring symbols / California's motto / Bigfoot or yeti

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Hello! It’s Clare back for the last Tuesday in January. Hope you’ve all been staying as safe and as entertained as possible. I’m over here starting to feel like I may be losing my mind — I’ve finally reached the stage of quarantine where I’m making a sourdough starter and have spent way too much time on TikTok and Twitter and have dyed my blonde hair red and am contemplating surrounding myself with 800 plants (but I’m worried that they’d just judge me for my random BTS dance parties). 

Anywho, let’s get on with the puzzle before I expose any more of my oddities...

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Difficult

THEME: SCRABBLE (60A: Game in which the answers to the starred clues are legal plays but cannot be formed even if you have both blanks) — words that can’t be played in Scrabble because of a limited number of certain tiles

Theme answers:
  • PIZZAZZY (17A: Having panache
  • KNICKNACK (25A: Trinket
  • STRESSLESSNESS (35A: State that many people want to get to on vacation
  • RAZZMATAZZ (50A: Gaudy display

Word of the Day: NARWHAL (45A: Tusked marine creature of the Arctic)
The narwhal is a medium-sized toothed whale that possesses a large "tusk" from a protruding canine tooth. It lives year-round in the Arctic waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia. It is one of two living species of whale in the family Monodontidae, along with the beluga whale. The narwhal males are distinguished by a long, straight, helical tusk, which is an elongated upper left canine.
• • •
Wow, I really did not like this puzzle. I know Rex is usually the one who rails against Scrabble-ish puzzles, but I’ll give it a shot today! My uncle is a former Scrabble national champion, so I should probably know a lot about the game, but, alas, I did not pick it up. To be honest, I didn’t even understand the point of the theme until afterward with some quick Googling — there’s only one Z-tile, one K-tile and four S-tiles, so even with the two blank tiles you can’t play words with four Z’s, four K’s or seven S’s. And once I understood the point.... I still didn’t like the theme. First of all, in terms of construction, to work down through the puzzle and go from Z’s to K’s to S’s and then back to Z’s seems off. I hated STRESSLESSNESS with a passion and don’t think it should be a thing at all. Who goes on a vacation and says, “Ah, yes, when I come back I shall have achieved some STRESSLESSNESS”? Same with PIZZAZZY. Pizzazz is a great word. I love that word. But get that Y out of there. 

I liked TANZANIA (36D) as a long down, but the others in the NE and SW corners made the puzzle a bit harder than usual. POTTAGES (11D: Thick soups) and TREACLES (12D: Thick syrups) are cool words, but both made me reach into the far corners of my brain to figure them out. And I’m not especially familiar with the Glass-STEAGALL Act (35D), so that made me stare at the puzzle as I tried to work it out. 

Sorry, I’m on a roll — and my brain feels fried from classes — so I think I just have to keep ranting now… THE CIA (59D and 61D: org. once headed by George W. Bush) was really quite dumb. I spent way too long trying to puzzle this out. Just… maybe don’t use “THE” in a puzzle? Who is Horatio SANZ (38D)? (It’s awesome that he was the show’s first Hispanic cast member, but he made me long for the days of Cheri Oteri as a name I’d know) Lava may be legit as a type of SOAP (15A), but it is verrry old-fashioned. Its logo alone looks like it belongs in the ‘70s. Please leave it there. There were two characters from St. Elmo’s Fire in the puzzle (54A and 2D), which is odd to me. Having SEAEAGLE (31A) and then STEAGALL (35D) in the same puzzle also feels like a lot of overlap. 

I don’t know if I just wasn’t on the puzzle’s wavelength or if it was a bit old for me or if I’m just way too exhausted to be thinking straight, but getting through the puzzle was a struggle. Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer today! (By the way, Debbie Downer is an SNL character played by Rachel Dratch, in case any future crossword constructors are looking for names people might know.)

  • I had “icicle” rather than ICE DAM (29D: Cold weather roofing problem) for a while in the puzzle, which messed me up in that whole lower left area. 
  • I think HOBBES should be in every puzzle — I grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes, and it’s just objectively the best. 
  • It’s like the puzzle constructor was speaking directly to me because I am most definitely feeling SLEEPY (20A: Feeling ready for bed)… 
  • When I hear RAZZMATAZZ, I can only think of it as the Jamba Juice flavor I used to get every single time. 
  • Here’s a Scrabble story for those of you who have gotten this far: When my dad congratulated his older brother on winning the Scrabble title, my incredibly and wildly rational mathematician uncle replied, “I was lucky.” Oh? How so? “In the final game, I had to beat the best player in the world by more than 150 points. I drew both blanks and all four S's, and beat him by 185. I was lucky.”
Signed, Clare Carroll, a stressfullness-ed law student

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:12 AM  

Tough. I’m good with scrabble f@$#*ing if the theme is scrabble. Cute and sparkly, liked it.

I need a lot of crosses to get TANZANIA and SANZ was a major WOE.

Joaquin 12:13 AM  

You may be right, @Clare, that this played old. Aside from misspelling NARWHAL (twice, but who's counting?) this was basically a fill-in-the-blanks for me. And I'm easily old enough to be your grandfather.

Frantic Sloth 12:28 AM  

Is this a tribute puzzle? To Scrabble-f**king, as Rex would say??
Where's Queequeg? With Waldo?

STRESSLESSNESS. Just look at that word. Look at it, I tell ya! It sits and mocks and smirks right at my face because it is just the kind of stupid, made-up word that I would use and so now I'm in no position to criticize it.
One of you do it.
I thought PIZZAZZY was pushing it, but what a comparative amateur.

Despite these and oh, THE CIA (because it isn't weird enough to have THE"fill-in-the-blank" as one entry - let's have THE stand alone because it looks so right, doesn't it?🙄) it might surprise you to know that I actually enjoyed the solve.
Just flew through this grid for some reason, so didn't linger over the rough spots. Thank goodness.

Glass-STEAGALL made me misty-eyed with nostalgia. Please come back!

I thought the fill wasn't half bad, considering. Just those Zs...they may be the future, but my eyes!


LenFuego 12:35 AM  

You're not fooling anyone, "Clare", with that review we all know that you are really Rex.

I thought this one was fun, with lots of interesting words, especially for a Tuesday.

Anonymous 12:48 AM  

I am not sympathetic to "I don't like Scrabble". I don't like/don't watch Game of Thrones, but the constructors don't seem to care, and I deal with it. Why should you be any different? The puzzle is not about you, or any other one person. Get over yourself.

That said, I agree, PIZZAZZY is really bad. Will Shortz should be exiled to Mar a Lago for that one.

chefwen 2:17 AM  

I’m with you Clare, not one of my favorites. I have never read, said or heard anyone say PIZZAZZY, spell check doesn’t even like it. Not up on my banking legislations, but managed to guess all the right letters in STEAGALL. Another spellcheck reject.

We had a sweet kitty who was polydactyl and we named him Paddy because his paws looked like oven mitts, one of my friends called him KNICKKNACK which I thought was beyond cute.

albatross shell 2:29 AM  

A puzzle with PIZZAZZY RAZZAMATAZZ. AND I guess I'm hungry cause all I can see is the pizza. And the double letters. Must be SSLLEEEEPPYY this EEN cause I'm seeing double counting up the doubles: Wanted to count the double EAs in SEAEAGLE. Wonder if @Lewis will. Even enjoyed the double nested POCs in the SW. If you do garden work without gloves, you'd appreciate LAVA more, Clare. And it's a SCRABBLE theme, of course its scrabbly. What's not to love? Has law school and covid got you beat? Hope your next Tuesday cheers you up. Someday you'll like them old clues like Rachel who played Debbie Downer.

Unknown 2:43 AM  

Whoa, salty much? I'm a huge scrabble fan and I got the gimmick and I'll agree that this is a really dumb theme. The point of scrabble is making good and/or valuable words, stupid borderline made up crap like "Stresslessness" is not Scrabble in my book.

ZenMonkey 3:16 AM  

Did YAWN make anyone else yawn or am I just that suggestible?

Anonymous 3:50 AM  

Silly. Not very interesting. Zzzzzzzzz....

Charles Flaster 5:22 AM  

Difficult for a Tuesday—Wednesday would have been better.
STRESSLESSNESS is a wonderful word — felt
its impact as soon as I entered it.
Writeovers—TANZANIA for TAsmANIA; ICE DAM for ICE cAp; STAID for SToIc.
Liked clue for VALETS.
Thanks PG—really enjoy your creativity.

Conrad 6:28 AM  

First a bit of proofreading: the headline date under the "click bait" at the top of the page still reads "MONDAY, JANUARY 25, 2021"

And a bit of bookkeeping: To accommodate the 14-letter STRESSLESSNESS, the puzzle is a extra-wide 16x15

And an observation: If you did have enough tiles (a double set, perhaps), you could make all the words despite having only seven tiles in your rack. You could build PIZZAZZY from the base of PIZZA, add LESS to STRESS and then tack on NESS, etc. (Yes, RAZZ is a valid scrabble word).

Enjoyable Tuesday.

OffTheGrid 6:33 AM  

I enjoyed solving this and it was a refreshingly different theme idea. Lava SOAP is definitely current as well as old. I'm 73 and I don't think I've ever lived in a home that didn't have a bar readily available for those extra dirty hands. The extra Z needed to make 2 of the scrabble words can be found at AZALEA/OOZE. Ernie ELS had three STROKES on a lot of par fours. Wanted Bubba for cracker name. Har!

Quincy Jones 6:36 AM  


Jofried 6:39 AM  

I have to agree with Clare. I love Scrabble and loathed this puzzle. It took me a solid 2 minutes over my usual Tuesday time. I could not believe the number of answers I’d either never heard of or needed many crosses to actually spell.

Todd 6:50 AM  

I've never played a game of scrabble in my life. So just a bunch of big obscure words to be.

Lewis 6:59 AM  

Peter Gordon is simply amazing in that year after year he produces torrents of puzzles of all difficulty levels. Forget the time it takes to design a grid, then fill it in smoothly, light on junky answers – how about coming up with fresh themes time and time again? And clever clues (like those for today’s VALETS and HOBBES)? Maybe he’s lucky to be wired just right, but then he has the work ethic and drive for excellence as well. He is certainly slated to be on the initial list of members of the Crossword Hall of Fame, whenever it gets built, in Natick.

I dabble in Scrabble, so I did love today’s theme, and the verve that the Ks and Zs added. The internet tells me that there is a difference between POTTAGE and POTAGE, the latter being a thick soup and the former a soup or stew. GYM BAG, such a common term, is appearing in the NYT puzzle for the first time – how can that be? And as your resident alphadoppeltotter, I must inform you that, this puzzle has an unusually high number (22, where everything over 20 is unusually high), but it comes with an asterisk, as it is theme-related.

A most enjoyable puzzle with kick from a most amazing constructor. Thank you, PG!

amyyanni 7:00 AM  

Anytime a Tuesday puzzle makes me go long, it's a good thing. Have to go into the office later to pick up a new headset for teleworking. We're doing Microsoft Teams. Thinking I'd rather play Scrabble.

JD 7:09 AM  

I am shocked at the responses to this dazzling Tuesday funfest.

Razzmatazz Pizzazzy Knickknack (paddywhack) Dossier Sea Eagle Centavos Eureka? This puzzle Ooze(s) joy. Your Yawn(s) make me Sad. Oh the Huge Manatee (down there in the NW near the Narwhal). Gym Bag probably feels self-conscious sitting in this crowd.

Felt like I was constantly on the edge of failure in the South but just pushed through for the confetti strewn victory lap in my own mind.

Dear Clare, Once upon a time greed caused a Great Recession when something called the Glass Steagall Act was repealed. Then we had a thing called a jobless recovery and it's kinda been downhill from there.

SouthsideJohnny 7:15 AM  

Intriguing concept, it would have been much more interesting if they had come up with three more real words or phrases that people actually use or say from time-to-time (in addition to KNICK-KNACK) instead of just making stuff up (PIZZAZZY, STRESSLESSNESS, RAZZMATAZZ).

It seems like the theme put quite a burden on the rest of the grid, pushing it toward a later-in-the-week difficulty level. THE CIA is rank amateurish, but not really surprising anymore. On balance, a noble and valiant effort by the constructor that just seemed to miss the mark a bit.

Anonymous 7:16 AM  

A law student who has never heard of the Glass-Steagall Act?

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Off-the-charts hard for a Tuesday. Would have been harder than average on a Wednesday.

VALETS went completely over my head. Had all the crosses in place, and could not imagine how the clue fit the answer. It was not until after checking two dictionaries and then Googling that parking VALETS occurred to me.

Would have been a better puzzle if two of the themers had not involved Zs. Although it may well be that Z, K and S are the only letters that can create these kinds of PICKLES (which I had before PLIGHTS).

Fun fact: TSKTSKS is a legal scrabble word.

Hungry Mother 7:25 AM  

Just about average time, but more fun than the usual Tuesday. I loved finding the themers. My problem with SCRABBLE are the two letter words, which I can’t memorize.

ChuckD 7:31 AM  

Typically we get complaints about some Scrabbley fill - I’m sure the theme today will push it even further. I have no interest in the game - but I guess the theme is tight - and this is a well constructed puzzle. Once the trick dropped - it became pretty easy so there’s that. I liked a lot of the non-theme fill. CENTAVOS, SEA EAGLE and NARWHAL are all great as is POTTAGES. TREACLES and OOZE not so much.

More of a chore - but a decent Tuesday.

Rug Crazy 7:40 AM  

I'm totally with Clare today. Great post

Z 7:41 AM  

WTAF?!?! Not just THE CIA, but a cross-referenced THE CIA?!?! WTAF?!?! We can't even bother with some cutesy French tea clue? Just straight up definite article with some other randomly picked noun in the puzzle? Why not THE OKIE or THE SEA EAGLE or THE GYM BAG? Why not go for the cross-reference trifecta and give us THE CIA AGT? Blrrrrgggghhhh.

I'm right with @Frantic Sloth on STRESSLESSNESS. Just looking at it raises my blood pressure.

I like PIZZAZZY. I'm assuming that is the right adjective after you bedazzle your clothes. "Oo La La - Z looks all PIZZAZZY now."

Had a "wait for the schwa vowel" moment on Glass-STEAGALL. I was sure it wasn't an E but pondered the possibility that it might be STEAGuLL. @Everyone - Glass-STEAGALL is something you should really know about. I tend to agree with the economists who link undoing Glass-STEAGALL with the housing crisis (and you might note that it was Clinton who signed the GLBA - and people still think he was some sort of leftie instead of basically in the mold of moderate Republicans of the post-WWII era). We would be well-served if we changed the HS US History curriculum to only studying the history of financial crises and their roots.

SCRABBLE - Blrgh. Someday soon we're going to get an anagrammed quote tribute puzzle.

Z 7:51 AM  

@Rü Monster late last night - The alternate name thing was from this link earlier in the day.

Jess 7:56 AM  

I loved this puzzle! It is my favorite I have done in a while. The thematic overlap with Treacle/Ooze was lovely. Putting SEAEAGLE on top of EPEES under KNICKNACK on top of the NESS of the central word is such an amazing cluster of repeated letters that I lost my mind (in a good way).

SCRIMPS, PRINTER, LEGEND, DOSSIER, and TANZANIA were really fun fills. I think that AGT/THE/OTOES/STEAGALL were the weakest parts of the fill, and the area I got stuck on.

Finally, Clare, I think it's pretty tasteless to be all like "who is Horatio Sanz?" and then add the sassy "in case any future constructors are looking for names people might know". One of the functions of crosswords is to have us practice essential knowledge. I'm sorry that you don't think the first Hispanic cast member of SNL is or should be essential knowledge, but I strongly disagree. The irony of wondering whether the puzzle is a "bit old for me" when you don't know Horatio Sanz but suggest CHERI OTERI as an alternative? Pretty profound.

bocamp 8:00 AM  

Thank you, @Peter, that was one jazzy puzzle! :) And, thank you @Clare for your write-up. :)

Very tough Tues. Would have fit nicely into a Thurs. or easy Friday slot for me.

Wish I could say I enjoyed the solving experience, but was not "getting to stresslessness". Post-game analysis told a different story, as I came away with a feeling of satisfaction and appreciation, especially for the theme.

When doing untimed "Stumper" or club72 "Freestyle" x-words, there's no stress – just the pure enjoyment of very difficult solving experiences.

"Razzamatazz" ~ Quincy Jones

yd 0

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

pabloinnh 8:05 AM  

Started out cruising through the NW but by the time I got down S I was in 4WD, Lo range. I'm with the crew giving the side eye to PIZZAZZY and STRESSLESSNESS. I mean, c'mon, man. OTOH, I've used lots of LAVA soap and am not a stranger to ICEDAMS, unfortunately, as they can cause some real damage. Also know all I want to about the Kardashians, which is next to nothing.

The "crystal" GAZERS made me think of those shiny globes you see in gardens, which I discovered are sold as "gazing balls". Also, this is probably the only time I've seen some form of POTTAGE without the qualifying "mess of". And where's Esau?

Good workout, for which thanks, PG. Did I say "stunt ;uzzle" yet? Nice stunt puzzle.

Irene 8:11 AM  

Too hard for a Tuesday, but so much fun. And I don't even play Scrabble! Thanks to the constructor I now know how to spell STEAGALL. I knew how to say it, but assumed it was STIEGEL.

bigsteve46 8:14 AM  

"It took me a solid 2 minutes over my usual Tuesday time...."

"The first Hispanic cast member of SNL is or should be essential knowledge..."

Oh, I hope this pandemic ends soon - we're all going as, I think, Desi Arnaz said (or should have said) ... Un poco loco en el coco!!

TJS 8:14 AM  

Not agreeing with the complaints about "the CIA". The "the" just goes naturally : " Who do you work for? The CIA...He was an agent for CIA.? No... for the CIA."

This was a really quick solve for me. I'm in no hurry, but I think under 11 minutes for a Tuesday is pretty quick for me.

@Southside, "Razzmatazz" is def. in the language

@Z, agree totally with your Glass-Steagall comments, but I know what "WTF" means, not sure what "WTAF" means.

C'mon, @Chefwen, no one who uses "Polydactyl" should be complaining about "pizzazzy".

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

I have no particular qualms against a Scrabble-themed puzzle - the theme reveal was actually mildly interesting to me - but wow I hated this puzzle. Too much obscure/weird fill and crosswordese (as many others have already said, THE CIA??? STEAGALL? POTTAGES? OKIE and OTOES and EIRE? IGA? ugh!) Also it seems odd to say that the word STRESSLESSNESS fills me with an indescribable rage, but it does. Get that out of there, good grief. There have to be more interesting words that could've gone there.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

Very tough Tuesday for me; had to walk away with a fairly blank SW corner, but returned to have CENTAVOS click into place. Then I could get VALETS and things fell into place.

Enjoyed the solve--always do (if I didn't enjoy them, I wouldn't do them every day).

But yeah, more like a Wednesday. In fact, slightly higher than my average Wednesday solve time.

One more thought: I confess that I have swapped out Words with Friends for Scrabble. Words with Friends has five S tiles and two blanks, which left me puzzled for a bit on STRESSLESSNESS.

CS 8:27 AM  

Hmmmm .... I am a scrabble fan and sussed out the theme early on. I also like words with "Z" (and now I want pizza!). But this is just not a Tuesday puzzle and I really didn't like it; I agree with several of the comments from Clare and others. However, I did appreciate the appearance of many less common words and not much crossword-y drivel. Maybe the inclusion of lots of "Ks" and "Zs" forced that?
Happy to be still getting a real newspaper, as with much of the world, I'm on the computer way too much these days. Makes the overall solve LESS STRESSFUL.


GILL I. 8:32 AM  

Well STRESS, LESS and NESS walk into a PIZZA ZY joint . RAZZ and MATAZZ got their KNICK KNACKs in a twist because the POTTAGE didn't have enough SPICE and tasted like TREACLES. Such is life......
I thought this was on the fun side. I love made up words. I also like SCRABBLE because I played it with my Nana and she always made up words. We never seemed to have a dictionary around when we played so I could never yell CHEATER!
Love me some NARWHAL and MANATEE. Two of the ugliest little sweet animals God created. How on earth does the Narwhal eat or have sex? Yikes. Up your nose with a rubber hose. The manatee always looks like it needs to use the bathroom.
Easy, fun Tuesday that everyone loves to hate. Nice job, Peter.

mmorgan 8:34 AM  

I’m with those who thought this was great. If you’re going to do what Rex calls ScrabbleFu**ing (or wherever he puts the asterisks) then go with it, all in, over the top, full frontal. Fab and fun! And who could forget those old Lava commercials?

Anonymoose 8:35 AM  

A lot of you seem to be wearing your cranky pants today. I'm with @Lewis on this one. The THE is a little ugly but that's the only thing. Covid confession: This may be pathetic but I have played Scrabble against myself a few times. It's more fun than it sounds like, unless you don't like the game to begin with.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Horatio SANZ was on 2 seasons of SNL with Oteri

Barbara S. 8:36 AM  

I liked the idea of this theme better than the execution. I have no problem with Scrabbly words as such, but (like others here) had trouble accepting PIZZAZZY and STRESSLESSNESS. That said, KNICKKNACK and RAZZMATAZZ I liked, despite the repeated Zs in two of the themers.

I came close to DNF territory in the SW. I had no prayer of knowing STEAGALL, I hesitated over both THE and VALETS (not thinking "parking"), and I'm still not clear on AGT -- (agent??) -- help! I also thought that was an odd use of SLATES. I get the notion that something is SLATEd to happen, but I don't think I've ever heard SLATES used in this way. It took me far too long to see PLIGHTS, a word I quite like.

One of my hobbies is writing nonsense verse and I happen to have a wee rhyme in my DOSSIER for today.


The narwhal is a unicorn
That frolics in the sea.
The narwhal is a mermaid,
The kind they call selkie.

She swims, she snorts, she surfaces
While roving in the deep,
And loves to chase the porpoises
Before she goes to sleep.

The narwhal points the way ahead;
He swims with purpose great:
To reunite with kin, to feed,
To find a match and mate.

The narwhal’s tusk is helical.
It twists: a barber’s pole.
Communication, domination,
These are the tusker’s goal.

Narwhal can’t go in crowded trains.
Forget revolving doors.
No dance clubs, rock shows, football games
No china shoppes (or stores).

The narwhal roam the Arctic seas;
The family swims as one.
They ride the current, race the waves
Beneath the northern sun.

@ghthree and @Nancy (from yesterday)
Didn't get a chance to blog on Monday, but just had to say how much I liked the Latinism story and the poem to @A.

Nancy 8:41 AM  

Guess what, everyone. You play SCRABBLE with me and PIZZAZZY is not a "legal play". I don't care if you have if you have 12 "Z"s sitting on your tile rack. Fair warning.

I really, really wanted it to be RAZZAMATAZZ. And I've never heard of an ICEDAM -- but then I live in an apartment building, not a house. A cold weather roofing problem is, happily, someone else's cold weather roofing problem.

Living in an apartment building and not a private house leads to a certain degree of STRESSLESSNESS on my part. STRESSLESSNESS -- the next best thing to actual serenity and as close to actual serenity as I can be expected to get.

A tough Tuesday that I loved. A 1-letter DNF: SATZ/TARWHAL. Didn't know SANZ. Couldn't remember NARWHAL -- though I'm sure I should have.

TTrimble 8:50 AM  

PIZZA ZZY is that STRESSLESS state that comes on after you go for a big lunch at an Italian restaurant and then come back to stretch your LEGs on a couch with a pillow for SUPPORT and a COZY blanket, LAPSE into unconsciousness, and SAW THE ZEES while dreaming of being enveloped in a WOMB-like state.

Such a bunch of Grumpy Guses today! Okay, 17 Across and 35 Across were nose wrinklers. I guess so also was 59 Down. Otherwise, I found the puzzle mildly diverting. Was it hard for a Tuesday? Didn't seem outrageously so. I like POTTAGES, TREACLES, STEAGALL, TANZANIA.

Don't tell me that St. Elmo's Fire, the very worst that the Brat Pack had to offer, was the only movie with EMILIO Estevez and Rob LOWE in it?! Didn't we have SHEEDY recently as well? Anyone want to tell me what's going on? Did I not get a memo?

TTrimble 8:52 AM  

"What the actual f."

TTrimble 9:08 AM  

Probably this should be offline, but speaking of Waldo, I meant to tell you that I got around to watching Hannah Gadsby's Nanette and Douglas. (I thought the latter was much better done.) And now the puffer fish thing makes total sense -- it would have helped to remember Bloat from Finding Nemo and his sudden emotional reactions.

Jeremy 9:10 AM  

The lower-left corner was brutal for me: IGA, STEAGALL, AGT unknown to me. THE was absurd. PLIGHTS and SLATES very difficult to guess (tried STARTS and STAFFS at first). PLIGHTS ultimately opened it for me but I had to alphabet-trawl for the G in the IGA/STEAGALL crossing.

Actually this is the sort of thing I expect from a Tuesday: an overall easier puzzle with some ugly part that makes it hard to finish.

Nancy 9:11 AM  

So while I couldn't come up with NARWHAL in my solving mini-debacle today, @Barbara S. knows the creature so well that she's able to write an ode to it. Nice one, @Barbara. We do have something in common in our mutual affinity for writing light verse. And thanks for your nice comment about my ode to @A yesterday.

Also, thanks to @JC66 for your nice comment the other day. I got sidetracked by something that came up at the time and never got back to the blog to thank you. My apologies.

@GILL -- You make me chuckle with your fond memories of playing SCRABBLE with your Nana, the "Cheat". In our house growing up, scrupulous adherence to the Dictionary was the rule. We only screamed EUREKA when it was a Real Word that Webster's would SUPPORT. But I fear you might have found us a bit STAID and wished for more SPICE, more RAZZMATAZZ in our family's SCRABBLE outings.

Raven Starkly 9:22 AM  

Came here to see if others thought it was more difficult than a usual Tuesday. Thank you to those who admitted it was. Those of us who get beat up Friday and Saturday really do need Tuesday to be easier than this or we lose confidence entirely...there were a few moments of hopelessness but ultimately figured it out -- which was a fun success!

CDilly52 9:26 AM  

Oh. Good. Grief!! Really. Really???? I rarely just dislike everything about a puzzle, but this one pushes me to the limit for sure.

My family played Scrabble. Pretty vicious Scrabble at that. I have mentioned that I come from very “wordy” folks and Scrabble provided a vehicle to test our individual mettle. And we were strict and had a number of special rules, one of which was to disallow the very kind of made up nonsense that appeared in today’s NYT. Why bother with absolute junk with no payoff.

The saving grace for me was the NARWHAL. Ironically, I recall learning the word NARWHAL while playing Scrabble. My maternal Granddad (Gran’s hubs) loved animals and birds, and I think the one “hobby” he had was to pick a location on the old globe in the living room and then start learning about the place his finger landed. Sometimes, he would let one of us spin the globe, close our eyes and stop it with a finger. From there, he would start with the old encyclopedia on the shelves to see what he could learn. The man’s knowledge was encyclopedic.

Those of you who remember the days before the internet, will remember research. In libraries. Trips to the school, public or university libraries were my favorite excursions. Card catalogues. Real adventures in the stacks as you found shelves and shelves with the same subject matter numbers painted in tiny little numbers on the spines of the books. And seemingly endless opportunity for “travel” without leaving home. When I was old enough to ride my bike to our branch library my world seemed huge but completely accessible. And after I could ride the bus downtown to the main library or the university library-about half the distance, I truly had endless possibilities for “travel.”

My love affair with the NARWHAL began one rainy Sunday afternoon next door at Gran’s. Granddad decided to join in a game of SCRABBLE and plopped down NARWHAL. It looked so “made up” yet I knew better than to challenge him despite the look he was giving my always impatient self goading me into it. He flicked his chin in the direction of the bookshelves, a gesture with which I had intimate familiarity. “Look it up,” was such a frequent admonition that the shorthand gesture was all it took for me to head to the stand with the Webster’s unabridged (we had the OED, too). I will never forget the tiny line drawing of what seemed to be something from fiction. What an odd animal!

Pretty sure I blew up the SCRABBLE game that day. From the dictionary, I went to the globe and then to the encyclopedia. Monday, I scrounged around my fifth grade classroom and then just counted down the days until I could get to the public library. So, remembering my passion for the NARWHAL saved this puzzle for me.

To this good day, polar bears and NARWHALs tend to Grace the door of my fridge. They pop up in the oddest places. My daughter keeps an eye out for silky opportunities to send me images of both. Most recently, a holiday package of peppermint tea with adorable cartoon images of a polar bear in a Christmas sweater sitting on an ice floe handing a cup of tea with a candy cane in it to his Buddy the NARWHAL who has popped up out of the water with a smile on his face.

So happy there was something about this puzzle to like!

RooMonster 9:29 AM  

Hey All !
They used to televise Scrabble matches, I can't remember what channel, but it was actually fun to watch. It always amazed me that when the players laid down a seven-letterer, they would grab all seven tiles at once with both hands, and lay the word down in one plop. Is that the required Scrabble move rule? Or can you do it in two moves? Anyway, always liked that AA is a valid Scrabble word. Used to play Scrabble with my roommate after a night of drinking. Fun!

Liked this puz. My nit is two Z entries. There are one J and one Q tile, also, too bad Peter couldn't come up with a four J-er or four Q-er.

I liked the resulting fill. It doesn't seem any more bad than any other puz. It actually feels less so than a typical puz. And that's tough to do with this type theme. So, Bravo Peter! Did catch the 16 wide. I think I look for it now, before I didn't. I do a quick scan of the first Across row, and if there is a 14 in that top row, on a weekday, it's likely a 16 wide grid. On a themeless, there's more likely a 14 in the Across because there's more likely only one black square in the top row. Neat, huh? :-)

Didn't know CAs motto was EUREKA. Is there an ! after it? There's a city in CA named EUREKA. There's also a YREKA in CA, in the North. How does such weird knowledge get stuck in the ole brain (mine, at least) and I can't remember most anything else? Good stuff.

There was a neat TV show on Syfy (back when it was still the Sci-Fi Channel) called EUREKA. Starred the now Maytag commercial guy as the Sheriff of a small town full of Genius-types, that had some weird things going on. Bad description for a cool show! And then after that, Warhouse 13 was on. Warehouse 13 actually had a good ending episode, as with the discussion the other day of TV Series endings. EUREKA's wasn't too bad, either.

Anyway, blathering aside, this puz was a bit over average time for me, keeping my average firmly in place. Been getting the TuesPuz under average for a while. Nice to get a fight-back Tuesday.

No F's (too busy shoving in other letters, I guess) (Is FLUFFYSTUFF a word?)

PS, Oh, it's snowing in Las Vegas right now. Not sticking to roads or sidewalks, but lawns, roofs, and cars. I think the last time was Feb 2019, so two years. At least we're getting precipitation. We set a record in 2020 of consecutive days of no rainfall. It was well over 200 days.

Blue Stater 9:36 AM  

You're absolutely right, Clare. This was a stinkerissimo. "The" CIA. Cheap fill, utterly inexcusable, even in today's NYTXW.

egsforbreakfast 9:37 AM  

Didn’t have time to read all of the comments, but did want to say that this was a very fun puzzle, although not at all difficult. Clare’s point about whether the themers are words anyone would use is beside the point. Apparently they are in the Scrabble Dictionary as legal but un-makeable with a normal deck (see constructor’s notes on

Gotta run,

bocamp 9:45 AM  

@Quincy Jones 6:36 AM

Apologies for the dup (bocamp 8:00 AM) of your "Razzmatazz" link. I don't read the comments prior to my first post of the day, resulting in an occasional dup. :(

With respect, in my previous post, I had meant to include this:

"Don't believe those clouds in the sky
'Cause they'll be movin' on and the sun will shine
If the world's been passin' you by
Just reach for a star and you'll realize
Got to put back all the good times that we had
We can make it better with a little bit of 'Razzamatazz'"

The Dude - Quincy Jones album / Lyrics - Rod Temperton / Vocals - Patti Austin

Of interest: "Razzmatazz" or "Razzamatazz"

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

jsul 9:47 AM  

Hobbes is definitely the highlight of the day! I don’t mind a good banking reg name now and then...but prefer something from the last 20 years. Glad you marked it as difficult. I was super frustrated with the SW corner and The CIA (which is just sloppy).

Ann Howell 9:50 AM  

Agree with Clare on most points, especially PIZZAZZY and STRESSLESSNESS. Personally, I'm all for a good Scrabble theme, but this was a bit of a chore for a Tuesday. Which reminds me that what slowed me down the most was putting APPROVE in at 16A and completely clogging up the NE corner until the very end. And "THE" "CIA"? Yikes!

Unknown 9:51 AM  

Wow, Clare drank some of Rex's coffee this morning . . . . .

To me, the constructor was obviously saying a big f#$% you to Rex . . . .
I'm not a big Scrabble player, but I sussed out the theme pretty quickly.
With the exception of "THE" CIA, I thought the grid was very clean.
I had put down the Florida PANTHER as my Everglades mammal, so that took a while to clean up.
The SW in general (not knowing how to spell STEAGALL) was much more difficult than the typical Tuesday, but hey, I don't mind!
Lighten up folks and enjoy the SNOW ! ! ! !

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

I liked “stress less ness” as it makes perfect sense. But if a clue has an abbreviation (such as “Org.”), indicating the answer to be an abbreviation, where is the abbreviated part of “The” in 59 down? Bad clueing and “The” is awful.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Aha! Exactly! Not really a law student at all!

Scrabblebabble 10:08 AM  

Other single letters in a Scrabble set are Q,X,J. Any words out there with 4 of any of these? Any words with 5 of B,C,F,H,M,P,V,W,Y(2 each in game)? A word with 6 G's(3 in game)? I ask as a challenge and to suggest that this was a very difficult idea for a puzzle. I didn't spend a lot of time but I couldn't come up with any.

57stratocaster 10:12 AM  

I'm not a scrabble (anagram game) fan, but this was a fun solve, and made me work harder than usual for a Tues.

Clare, ranting doesn't suit you. It's unbecoming of Rex, and even more so of you. Please don't be that kind of lawyer.

Do read up on Glass-Steagall.

By the way, Debbie Downer (Dratch) was on SNL with Sanz.

GHarris 10:15 AM  

Today you speak for me even though I’m very much old timie.

pmdm 10:31 AM  

Except when I play against someone who takes a lifetime to put tiles on the board, I do enjoy the game of Scrabble. But I would say that if the goal of a Tuesday puzzle is to be fairly easy for new constructors, I'm not sure that this puzzle fills the bill, especially if you don't play the game. Apparently enough people do play, resulting in the NYT editors and test solvers to give this puzzle a pass. Personally, I think I would have preferred it (with harder clues) as a Wednesday challenge.

Z: My comment yesterday was intentionally cryptic. Once Mike himself acknowledged that he might not be the best person to review easy Monday puzzles. I think that's more of a consideration than how one responds to a person. Perhaps I was just saying that his vision of an average Monday puzzle and mine may be a bit different. And then there's the question of whether being good requires being better than average. This is getting too deep.

Casey 10:32 AM  

Stresslessness feels like a Newspeak word from 1984.

JD 10:35 AM  

@CDilly52, Lucky you! What a great story. Globe surfing and grabbing a volume of the Encyclopedia. What a great guy.

mathgent 10:36 AM  

A professional job by one of crossword's ultimate pros. A lot to like. Learning that some words cannot be played in Scrabble. HOBBES. DOSSIER. "Gaudy" in the clue for 50A (Bogart used that word in Maltese Falcon). Learning what Glass-STEAGALL is. Immaculate grid.

Bravo, Peter.

Newboy 10:38 AM  

Can’t STRESS enough my appreciation for Clare as monthly guest commenter! Like the video posts, her critiques have become something to look forward to in the age of pandemic boredom. And while I’m a waste on any SCRABBLE board, I can tolerate one when in the masterful hands of Peter Gordon who clearly enjoys favored constructor status at NYT. Not sure I can accept Glass-STEAGALL as fair on a Tuesday, but VALETS as clued offsets my PLIGHTS addressing today’s grid. Can’t get too SAD on an early week solve with this much PIZZAZZY RAZZMATAZZ.

Whatsername 11:13 AM  

I don’t completely get the significance of SCRABBLE scores in the construction of crosswords but I assume that’s what’s this one is going for with all the ZEES, etc. Whatever. For me it was semi-themeless as I could see the obvious trend of letter repetition, but as someone who’s not a fan of the game, that specific theme failed to ERUPT from the oversized grid. And while the revealer probably made it more interesting for those who do play and are familiar with the rules, to me it was meaningless. I assume it has to do with the fact that there are a limited number of tiles with the same letter.

I think OKIE is pretty much a universal term for people who live in Oklahoma, but I never realized anyone outside of the Midwest used the expression Arkansawyer. I knew CLIOS from watching Mad Men and remember when Don Draper won his for the floor wax commercial which was actually Peggy’s idea. Naturally, he immediate went off to get stinking drunk with Roger and Joan and never gave her a shred of credit for it. Pretty typical for that era but I found myself on the receiving end of that snub more than once in my career. And it pains me to say that one of the sexist egotistical lying hypocrites was a woman.

Masked and Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Peter Gordon's comment at xwordinfo.chen provides the complete list of words that would qualify as themers for this TuesPuz. The only letters in words that surpass the Scrabble tile supply are yer K's, S's, and Z's.

This Gordon dude is one scary constructioneer. I can't believe how good the fillins came out, what with all these Z's and K's splatzed into the puzgrid. M&A is overly impressed.

staff weeject picks: THE & CIA. har

Thanx for the Scrabble-twerkin fun, Mr. Gordon.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Pete 11:28 AM  

I was all set to complain that MANATEEs are not denizens of the Everglades, until I looked up what the Everglades is generally considered to encompass, which is pretty much everything south of Ocala, most of the way to Cuba. This strikes me as BS, as I think of the Everglades as a grassy freshwater swamp, not coastal Mangrove forests.

You want to know some other words in the official Scrabble Dictionary that you can't make while playing scrabble?

A, I, abstemiousnesses,abstractednesses,acceptablenesses,accountabilities,accumulativeness,

These are just the first page of words 16 letters, up to AN... You want them all, go to Crosswords Guru put in as 16, 17, whatever "?"s in the top left text box and press go.

Isn't this fun?

Oh BTW, @"How could you not know ... ? Are you a moron or something? " crowd. Everything is specialized. You're a mechanic at Ford? Great, you know a lot, but I wouldn't let you near my Ferrari. You're a Prof of literature with a specialty in 20th century Slavic poetry? I wouldn't expect you to know much about Faulkner. You're in law school, I expect that you learned the basics as a One-L, then you focused primarily on your specialty. If you went into Business Law I would expect you to know the Glass-STEAGALL act. If your focus was in another specialty, I wouldn't expect you to know this. I don't want my criminal defense attorney to have detailed knowledge of the Glass-STEAGALL act, I want them to have detailed knowledge of criminal case law and procedures. You didn't know Law School was highly specialized? Are you a moron or something?

Carola 11:37 AM  

Tough, zany, poking fun at crotchety haters of Scrabbliness, with plenty of interesting non-theme answers - I thought this was a treat. Besides the dynamite RAZZMATAZZ (and its sidekicks ZESTY and SPICE), I especially liked PLIGHTS, DOSSIER, EUREKA, and, of course, the two wonderful water-dwelling mammals.

@TJS 8:14 - I join you in leaping to the defense of THE CIA (in crosswords, anyway).
@TTrimble 8:50 - Loved your first paragraph.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

@7:16 and Z/7:41 and et al.

GS would be a cinch for an Econ major more than a lawyer. The Right Wingnuts ( eviscerated it, of course. The self same Right Wingnuts, since the repeal was foundational to The Great Recession, always blame Clinton for signing *their* legislation, veto proof:
"On November 4, the final bill resolving the differences was passed by the Senate 90–8, and by the House 362–57. The legislation was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on November 12, 1999." Which is not to say lots of Dems bear responsibility for the veto proof margin.

anyway, Lap before LEG and pesettas (however it's spelled) before CENTAVOS. did love the plethora of Z. one wonders whether @Z commissioned it?

JC66 11:59 AM  


Acknowledgment appreciated, although I had the vague sense that the delay might be because you were writing me a poem.

Newboy 12:13 PM  

What a week for poetry! First TREES , then @Nancy on empty profile avatars (one of my recurring whines) yesterday and today’s capper on NARWHAL behaviors by @Barbara S. Then add an evocative reminiscent post from @CDilly. Pretty hard to complain about such tag teaming.

offbrand 12:36 PM  

it’s a review
a review is an opinion

Kimberly 12:40 PM  

Generally a Tuesday puzzle should be filled with words that will come up in conversation at least once in a while. This puzzle is filled with words that would only come up, fairly rarely in conversation, if you lived in the 1800s… In London. I think even experienced Scrabble players would look at this puzzle and wonder what was wrong with the mind of its creator.

Jake W 12:42 PM  

Horrendous puzzle.

JC66 12:55 PM  

I lost the link to a Tuesday only xword recommended a couple of weeks ago.

Can someone help?

Nancy 12:56 PM  

@JC66 (11:59):

An Ode to JC66:
Who was omitted from my mix
Of doggerel and limericks --
An oversight that I shall fix!

Amidst the daily politics,
The grumblers and the mavericks,
I choose to write (to get my kicks)
An Ode to JC66.

old timer 12:58 PM  

I've been playing Scrabble since 1955, when I was 10. So I certainly knew about the shortage of Z's. It took STRESSLESSNESS to realize it is theoretically possible to run out of S's.

I thought it was a wonderful puzzle, myself. Very amusing, and I knew something was up when RAZZMATAZZ came into view. I did wince a little at PIZZAZZY though.

Congrats to @Barbara S for her NARWHAL poem. There are, I find, a lot of ditties about this Unicorn of the Sea. Hers is surely the best ever.

I knew about the GLASS-STEAGALL Act though I did not know how to spell STEAGALL at first. But no, its repeal had nothing to do with the Great Recession, which was caused by the mortgage boom, the relaxation of lending standards, the crazy speculation, and, most important, very, very bad banking. Of course banks have always been able to issue mortgages. And the big banks have long been able to invent strange, bizarre, and hard to figure out securities. These made it much easier for those bad mortgages to be securitized. But banks that knew what they were doing did very well, thank you. I have been a Morgan stockholder for maybe 45 years, and believe me the JP Morgan folks knew their business, and made money even if others didn't. In fact, JP Morgan Chase made out like a bandit, since Washington Mutual, which did a fine job of expanding its branch network, did a suicidal job when it came to undewriting mortgages. The result: Chase-branded banks replaced WM branches, and allowed JPM to expand its branch network at almost no cost.

Find a great company that is well run was my mother's advice, when it came to investments, and stick with it forever. Advice I have happily followed, and the reason I was an early investor in Apple and Facebook, as well as many better-run banks.

A 12:58 PM  

Well, go figure! THE SCRABBLErs are THE haters today! I have played Scrabble on occasion and enjoy it but am no expert. Yes, when I saw the theme I let out a low growl, but all of a sudden PIZZAZZY made sense - “oh, it’s SCRABBLEse!” Fun to say, too. A COZY cat named PIZZAZZY would have to be a calico, right?

Seeing STRESSLESSNESS crossing SPA deSTRESSED me, but it does seem strained as a vacation state. “Meditation outcome” maybe. Ohm.

Since when does RAZZaMATAZZ not have the fourth a? I feel slighted. Definitely with @Nancy on that one. Also, wow - I just saw your poem from last night and loved it! (And @Barbara’s NARWHAL piece was delightful!) Don’t expect me to reply in kind - last time I wrote a poem was high school. I actually did start to OOZE some TREACLE onto the snow-white page last night, probably as you were in mid-ode. I’ll try to add to THE YARN ASAP.

Agree with @TJS on THE CIA. Be careful what you wish for. What if the clue for 61D had been “Org. once headed by GHWB, with ‘The’”?

I did notice some POC, but of the 7 esses in STRESSLSSNESS, only two were clued as plurals. Well, 2 were at the beginning, but 2 out of 5 is still a relief. Details like that, plus high quality fill, made me KEENER on this one than Clare. Appreciate her dedication, though!

Among the ZESTY fill, and my overseas excursion for the day: TANZANIA. “The site of Dar es Salaam was originally a small village named Mzizima (Kiswahili for healthy town) dating back to 1857. Later, it became the site of plantations growing cassava, millet and maize. Dar es Salaam, an Arabic name meaning “haven of peace,” was formally founded by the Majid bin Sayyid (c. 1834-1870), the Sultan of Zanzibar, in 1866.” More SCRABBLEse!

JC66 1:00 PM  


Thanks. Love the limerick.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Isn't there an amateur poet website somewhere?

Z 1:02 PM  

@JC66 - Are you looking for the Gorski puzzles?

albatross shell 1:05 PM  

@pete 1128am
The way you spell ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I believe it could be a scrabble word. KNOW to KNOWLEDGE to ACKNOWLEDGE to ACKNOWLEDGE to ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. The way @JC66 1159am spells ACKNOWLEDGMENT(S) I think it still could be made with the right letters coming from above or below. Say a word ending in E with MEN built on to it. KNOW to AC KNOW LEDG MEN T. Seven new letters. And then S added on.
With the E is preferred British spelling. Without the E preferred American.

But I haven't played scrabble in decades.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

not even the most unhinged Right Wingnuts deny that the neutering of GS led to the concentration of all banking types into a few mega-banks, i.e. Too Big To Fail, which in and of itself was the foundation of The Great Recession. the spark which led to the crash was the creation and legalisation of credit default swaps, aka unfettered betting on corporations and their holdings. slice and dicing home mortgages - 'they've never defaulted en masse before, and they won't again' into securities was the IED. J.P. Morgan got as much taxpayer bailout as any other of the Too Big To Fail cabal ($25 billion of your money).

deerfencer 1:32 PM  

I'll just go on the record as saying STRESSLESSNESS was my favorite answer today.I think it's brilliant.

Pierre-Yves Houle 1:32 PM  

I've never had pottage...Potage YES!!!

Z 1:50 PM  

@pmdm - And then there's the question of whether being good requires being better than average. Don’t get me started.

@anon 11:50 - You only get a veto proof majority with the complicity of a bunch of Dems and at least some sort of tacit support from Clinton. Bi-partisan stupidity at its worst. It was the late John Dingell who warned against the bill allowing financial institutions to become “too big to fail.” We need more like him in office.
@old timer - you’re certainly not alone in that opinion. I just think most economists espousing that belief get paychecks from the financial industry.

@11:50 again - No, my nom de blog is purely a reflection of having a last name that is hard to pronounce, not any particular fondness for the letter Z. Also, outside of crossworld, I would say far more people know me as Z or Mr. Z than by any other name. I use to like seeing the Z, but on days like today it’s actually kind of annoying because I lose precious nanoseconds think comments are being directed at me.

@Pete - I’ve pointed out the general assholery (usually in nicer terms because I really don’t think they realize how they are coming across) of those comments many many times. Most of the people making those kinds of observations drop by once and never return, so I don’t bother much anymore.

@Pierre-Yves Houle - not actually the the same thing. Merriam-Webster says the two T version is a couple hundred years older. Why do we need two nearly identical words for our various thick soups? Because English, I assume.

SFR 1:59 PM  

The Narwhal poem is worthy of Edward Lear or Lewis Carroll. We loved it. Should be in every children's book of verse.

jberg 2:19 PM  

Many years ago, there was a Patrick Berry puzzle which did not contain the letter "e." @Rex raved about it, which surprised many commenters because it seemed inconsitent with his hatred of pangrams. His reply was the the e-lessness WAS the theme, whereas pangrams were a pointless exercise that simply distorted the fill.

I think the same principle applies here -- cramming all those scrabbly letters in would normally be a problem, but when that is the theme, it is an achievement -- and adding a little pizzazz by that extra Z in the ooze/azalea crossing is just a little flourish.

That said, the weakness of the theme is that unless you know the game fairly well it doesn't make sense. I thought all the way through that the theme was double letters doubled (or more), or at least double sounds to (almost) accommodate KNICKKNACK.

I didn't much like the THE, and I really didn't like the pluralized TREACLES. OTOH, I was happy to learn what POTTAGE is. I only knew that it was what Esau sold his birthright for a mess of, and somehow though it was another word for porridge. So I looked it up, and learned that, for Esau, it was a lentil stew.

@Gill, your impression of the MANATEE is absolutely correct. My wife and her cousin once went on a swim-with-the-manatees tour and were advised in strong terms to NEVER get behind a manatee. As herbivores, they need to excrete at least as much as cows, i.e., constantly.

I find STRESSLESSNESS to be a fine word. Just to check, I looked it up in The word has its own entry, but all 15 of the definitions given are of stress, tout court. At the very bottom it lists SLN as one of the words derived from it.

@Clare, the GLASS STEAGALL Act was passed in 1933, and basically says that banks can't take the money you deposit and play the stock market with it. It was repealed in 1999, so it's not surprising that you never encountered it. (@old timer, banks could always issue mortgages, but I'm not sure they could always speculate in derivatives such as mortgage-backed securities. The banks that put them together prospered, but those who bought them did not.

sanfranman59 2:42 PM  

I doubt that my comments will add anything new to today's discussion, but I thought I'd share them with a wider audience than usual anyways. Please forgive any duplication, as I haven't read through other comments as yet.

Medium-Challenging NYT Tuesday (12% above my 6-month median) ... I've had a really speedy solving day today and I felt like I did pretty well with this one, but I think I didn't post a particularly fast solve time because (a) I never really got onto PG's wavelength this time around, (b) some of the clues and answers seemed pretty tough for a Tuesday (e.g., TREACLES {12D: Thick syrups}, POTTAGES {11D: Thick soups} and STEAGALL {35D: Glass-___ (1933 banking legislation, informally)}) and (c) it's a 16 x 15 grid. Plus, PIZZAZZY {17A: *Having panache} almost right out of the chute and, later on, STRESSLESSNESS {35A: *State that many people want to get to on vacation?}?!? Oof! Then there's the novelette that is the revealer clue: SCRABBLE {60A: Game in which the answers to the starred clues are legal plays but cannot be formed even if you have both blanks}.

A couple of other things:
-- THE {59D: With 61-Down, org. once headed by George H. W. Bush} ... please try harder
-- SANZ {38D: "S.N.L." alum Horatio} ... Hooray for including a name outside the white male silo, but who?

My solve time was closer to my Tuesday than to my Wednesday 6-month median, so the grid seems properly slotted. I usually enjoy Scrabbly grids, but, ironically enough given the theme, this one just didn't strike my fancy. On the plus side, I did enjoy the marine animal sub-theme: SEA EAGLE {31A: Fish-eating bird}, MANATEE {57A: Everglades mammal} and NARWHAL {45A: Tusked marine creature of the Arctic}.

Barbara S. 3:06 PM  

@Nancy (12:56 PM)

Oh Nancy, oh Nancy,
You couldn't do worse,
For now every blogger
Will want their own verse.

Pdxrains 3:33 PM  

It appears we found the butthurt Trumper, who was triggered by the mar a lago comment.

rochdale 3:44 PM  

I really wish that this hadn't run on one of Rex's days off. It seems that the puzzle was an inside joke from Peter Gordon to Rex and likely a bit of a snark from Shortz--so a twofer in the arcane world crossworld puzzle politics! Sadly, they missed the target (publishing on 2/23--also a tuesday--would have been special since we could watch the solving)!

Michelle 4:09 PM  

I have to agree with Claire that STRESSLESSNESS was a frustrating addition. Same with THE and CIA. Neither answers were intuitive, and when I finally got them, it was pretty anticlimactic. I actually came to this here comment section to see if anyone felt the same!

On the flip side, I loved the inclusion of Horatio Sanz. He's always an excellent guest on Comedy Bang Bang, and he'd probably get a big kick out of a bunch of people in Rex Parker's comments not knowing who he is.

Nancy 4:12 PM  

Touche, @Barbara S! Funny!

A 4:36 PM  

@Joe D - great links, thank you! The Herb Alpert got me dancing! Our cat, Eudora Welty, was startled at first but then just went back to feeling superior.

@CDILLY52 Your Granddad sounds awesome! Not unlike my Mom in that way. We didn’t use the globe; she would just start exploring something she’d read about. And if I wanted to know something I had to “Look it up.” Even spelling questions. Me “How do I look it up if I don’t know how it’s spelled?” Mom “Think about it.” And your library story brought back similar wonderful memories. I still love the smell of a library.

@Z (Yes, you) “We would be well-served if we changed the HS US History curriculum to only studying the history of financial crises and their roots.” I bet you’re right - let’s just require four years of Ethics as a pre-requisite.

@Anonymoose 8:35am - Re your COVID confession: “This may be pathetic but I have played Scrabble against myself a few times. It's more fun than it sounds like, unless you don't like the game to begin with.” Too funny! With some well-placed pauses and stammering, that’s a classic Bob Newhart joke. Or cut the disclaimer, go deadpan a la Stephen Wright.

Z 5:17 PM  

@rochdale - Are you privy to some sort of inside information?

@jberg - I don’t remember Rex’s reaction quite that way. I thought it was the implication that PB was thumbing his nose at the pangram crowd by doing the arguably much harder “pangram except for the E” that gave Rex much joy. I could be wrong, but I don’t think Berry has ever done a pangram. I remain on team “I don’t care unless you resort to scr*bblef*$#ing.” I do assume that when we see the anagrammed quote tribute puzzle that it will be a pangram.

@A - let’s just require four years of Ethics as a pre-requisite. - In my profession Ethics classes were a requirement. Somehow I still ended up working with unethical people. I think ethics classes are a good idea, but jerks are going to jerk.

Anonymous 5:33 PM  

One person wrote “I’ve pointed out the general assholery ... and “ think ethics classes are a good idea, but jerks are going to jerk” about two completely different cohorts within the space of a few hours. I’d suggest he take a step back and look in a mirror. But he won’t.

Pete 5:35 PM  

@Albie I posted a reply earlier but it got lost in the ether. My list was 16 letter words which, while they are real, aren't acceptable because the Scrabble board is 15 blocks square. Just pointing out that real words that aren't Scrabble approved aren't uncommon.

Barbara S. 5:41 PM  

@Nancy, @Newboy, @old timer, @A, @SFR

Thanks, all, for comments on THE NARWHAL POEM -- much appreciated.

R Duke 6:17 PM  

I look forward to a future puzzle where Horatio is clued as “Comic Sanz”

Lauren S 6:28 PM  

Hi Clare! Thanks for the write-up. I found today's puzzle challenging, as well. Definitely not my favorite, but I enjoyed reading your post! Signed, another tired, BTS-loving grad student (:

CLB 7:04 PM  

Since I'm quick to complain when things are bad (and they often are), I just wanted to chime in that I thought this was a great puzzle. Lots of fun words and hardly any junk. It was a blast to solve. Honestly thought it was the best puzzle in a long while. Thanks everyone!

albatross shell 7:34 PM  

I couldn't remember how wide a scrabble board was. My guess was 17 or more. Oh well, its been decades.. since I played.

rochdale 9:14 PM  

@Z not at all, but as a regular reader, I know that Rex generally likes Peter Gordon's work and knows him, Rex constantly comments on the Scrabbling (as others have noted), and his attacks (appropriate imho) on the aging editorship is kind of legendary. I mean it probably isn't as high drama as the Curt Schilling/Jose Canseco feud regarding the baseball hall of fame, but this seems like too much of a thing to have a scrabble tribute puzzle in this day and age. ;)

juicemilk 1:48 AM  

Clare, don't apologize for being a downer. I read Rex specifically to hear his bashing of puzzles I hated. I hated this one a lot and I'm glad you finally went negative on a puzzle...I'll admit I usually skip reading yours do to the excessive positivity :D. The puzzle was super old-fashioned. I am young too so I appreciate fresh puzzles and have particular hatred for people who use excessive anachronisms ESPECIALLY early in the week.

Greg 3:13 AM  

I kind of liked the puzzle, but it definitely felt like a solid Wednesday.

Nigel Pottle 3:59 PM  

Anyone else get the feeling that this was Will Shortz having a little fun at the expense of OFL. (Is OFL a legal Scrabble word?) I also imagine that Will is disappointed that Rex is not the reviewer. However, this was not a Tuesday Puzzle. It had obscurities, and smart clues that misled seriously (I’m looking at you ICEDAM). My time for a Tuesday was way way off.

Tony 6:55 AM  

Pardon me for jumping in at the end, but I have a possibly improper comment/question. I am an irregular reader of this site. I recall, however, sometime in the past that Clare changed her name. Did she change it back? Or am I confused? Readers here have formed sort of an extended family, so I hope the question is not deemed too gossipy. Any response appreciated.

Z 7:03 AM  

@Tony - You are confusing Clare with August, née Annabelle.

thefogman 9:55 AM  

Too much junk fill.

Burma Shave 11:23 AM  

KRIS, as in KRIS Jenner, Kardashian matriarch, 25 down


ego STROKES, and the SPICE of a KISS,


spacecraft 11:31 AM  

When the first themer came in as PIZZAZZY, I thought: Oh, brother! A showoff piece. Most of those don't pass the "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should" test. This one is no exception. Post-solve, I had to look this up--would you believe: it actually IS a real word!!

Now see what this ridiculousness does to the fill: THE CIA. Right. Aw Peter, you shouldn't have. No, really, you SHOULDN'T have! Double-bogey.

leftcoaster 3:44 PM  

So the “answers to the starred clues are legal plays but cannot be formed even if you have both blanks”. I won’t even try to parse that mouthful, but I do get it that there aren’t enough Z, K, and S tiles to actually form legal answers.

The solve got a little hairy in the South with the appearance of the LEGENDary Bigfoot/Yeti.

Enjoyed it.

Diana, LIW 4:27 PM  

The SANZ/NARWHAL/AZALEA area had me guessing, but I guessed correctly. So, for me, 'twas a bit tougher than usual for a Tuesday. PIZZAZZY and all that RAZZMATAZZ. Think I'll go around saying that this week.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 5:23 PM  

If we're gonna do this, can't we work SYZYGY into the mix?

St. Paul paper missing THE last two clues was not helpful, but did not stop THE solve.

leftcoaster 8:17 PM  

Rex’s blog is often an occasion for many commenters to vent, it seems. Maybe we all could use less RAZZMATAZZ and a bit more STRESSLESSNESS.

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