Old World blackbird / TUE 2-9-21 / Supply for an indebted tattoo artist / Goddess of spring

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Constructor: Colin Ernst

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (3:19)

THEME: "[verb] YOUR [article of clothing]" — idioms in the imperative voice that follow this pattern:

Theme answers:
  • KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON (17A: Stay cool)
  • HANG ON TO YOUR HAT (37A: Get ready for something amazing)
  • TIGHTEN YOUR BELT (58A: Don't spend so much money)
Word of the Day: FLORA (31D: Goddess of spring) —
Flora (LatinFlōra) is a Roman goddess of flowers and of the season of spring – a symbol for nature and flowers (especially the may-flower). While she was otherwise a relatively minor figure in Roman mythology, being one among several fertility goddesses, her association with the spring gave her particular importance at the coming of springtime, as did her role as goddess of youth.[3] She was one of the fifteen deities who had their own flamen, the Floralis, one of the flamines minores. Her Greek counterpart is Chloris. (wikipedia)
• • •

Quick write-up this evening. Not much going on here. There's a kind of unity, in that all the phrases are 15-letters long and all are in the imperative voice and all have YOUR in them and all involve an article of clothing. And yet KEEP and HANG ON TO, being precise synonyms, set up a pattern that the last themer, which begins TIGHTEN, breaks. You end up with the last themer feeling like a clunky outlier. Retain an article of clothing, retain an article of clothing, and then ... merely cinch up ... an article of clothing. It's a weirdly deflating climax. With this little theme pressure, the fill should be much Much better than it is. It's not bad, but this is about the easiest-to-fill grid that you're ever going to see. Only three themers, and since they're 15s, there's no pesky black squares hanging off the ends, complicating your grid-building (hard to explain in brief, but 15s are Really easy to deal with for this reason ... unless you stack them ... but I digress). There should be more long fill in a grid this simple, and certainly there should be sparklier fill. FRIVOLOUS and MONOLITHS are fine, but they're all there is today, interest-wise. Everything else is in the 3-to-6-letter range, and even for 3-to-6-letter fill it's pretty pale stuff. There's no way we should be dealing with obscure-ish, crosswordesey stuff like MERL in a grid that's this easy to fill (7D: Old World blackbird). Actually, if you'd wanted to use crossword constructing legend MERL Reagle as the clue, my objection wouldn't be so strenuous, though even that should be reserved for a later-in-the-week puzzle. Fill is flat and stale overall. 

Only struggle was in the center, where ... what in the world is going on with that FLORA clue? She's goddess of the spring!? Clue doesn't even bother mentioning that it's a *Roman* goddess, first of all. We're just supposed to know? Or assume?  Second, five-letter goddesses ... I wanted CERES and (for some reason) VESTA before FLORA, because I never wanted FLORA, because I didn't actually know she *was* a goddess, because she's so minor that even the first paragraph of her wikipedia page mentions how minor she is. Also, FLORA is just a regular word. Goes with FAUNA. The whole FLORA thing is from outer space, especially when compared to every other straightforward clue in this puzzle. 

I also had OWNS before OFFS (not sure what my brain was doing there) (29A: Slays, in gang talk) and had no idea what "swoooosh" was supposed to sound like at 34A: What a "swoooosh" sound may signal is on its way (EMAIL). So I stumbled through that center part, but beyond that, only BENDS (65A: Doesn't follow to the letter, as rules) and an -ER v. -RE hesitation at 53D: Cavalry weapon caused me even a moment's trouble. Oh, and the clue on ENSURE forced me to ponder a bit (51A: Nutritional drink brand). Somehow "Nutritional" was far too vague, did not quite capture ... whatever it is that ENSURE is. There's just not much here: not much good, not much bad, not much hard. Don't think anything really needs explaining. "?" clues are corny but not thorny. I'm gonna go spend some time with Dickens now. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:21 AM  

I agree with @Rex that this was an easy and non-sparkly puzzle (a Monday in my opinion). But his complaint about TIGHTEN being an "outlier" is simply the *nittiest* of nit-picking ever. Sheeeeesh! <note: not the sound of an incoming email.

Richardf8 1:05 AM  

You wanted Vesta because you work in Vestal.

Frantic Sloth 1:06 AM  

I miss MERL Reagle. 😒

Didn't notice the "outlier" themer that Rex points out and I liked the puzzle more than he did, but not much more. Pretty straightforward stuff.

At least LOUSE and its clue didn't gag me this time.

What the hell are KOANS and why are they in my Tuesdee puzzle?

You know what? Never mind. Don't answer that. It'll just confuse me.


okanaganer 1:26 AM  

HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT! Not HANG ON, dang it. Major hiccup there. And Google Ngram agrees with me, if only by a factor of 3 or so.

Weird how some partial answers beg to be filled in wrongly. 36A -OGGI- had to be LOGGIA.

If the very last square was an S, we would have RUES crossing TESTES.

chefwen 1:40 AM  

Tuesday must be my day to shine, I whipped through this one as fast as I did last Tuesday. Too bad things really slow down after that. Not that I’m into the speed thing, but if feels good when I fold my puzzle over signaling that I’m done and puzzle partner says “you’re kidding me” as he has barely started his copy. Mind you, that only happens on a Monday or Tuesday. He shines on the themeless Friday’s and Saturday’s puzzles.

One write over TUg before TUB at 58D.

albatross shell 1:41 AM  

Well, Rex, if you do no tighten your belt, it won't keep or hold your pants up and you might lose them.

Highlights: REDINK MONOLITHS TESTED URIAH. Theme spanners. That about says it all. Competent, solid, sloggish. A bit like a Sunday in effect. The constructor himself is all sparkle. Circus performer, uke player, juggler,comedian. If he can get some of that sparkle into his next puzzle he will do fine.

URIAH met originally in Rye NY and were billed as Uryea. Local band made good.

the manitou 1:52 AM  

Hmm, I don't think the first two themers are "precise synonyms," as indicated by their clues. Staying cool — not being rash — is different from bracing for something amazing. All three themers seem to be of the same ilk; they're all advisory/peremptory in the same way. You even said it yourself, referring to the imperativeness of the phrases.

A nice touch might have been if the placement of the themers north to south corresponded to where on the body the articles are worn: hat, shirt, belt. Or better yet: hat on top, belt in the middle, and "keep your pants on" on the bottom.

Anoa Bob 1:52 AM  

I don't think of TIGHTEN YOU BELT as being "Don't spend so much money", as clued, but more along the lines of "Adapt to not having enough money to spend", as in tough times like the Great Depression where the only option to not having enough to eat and subsequent weight lose might be to just TIGHTEN YOUR BELT. And sing "Brother, can you spare me a dime".

An opportunity was missed to cross reference NINE (14A) and TWO (24A) with a clue about the venerable Oertels 92 Beer (image safe for all situations and ages).

The POC (plural of convenience) made a decent showing today with three of the two-for-one type where a Down and an Across share a final S. Those can certainly EASE the challenge of filling the grid.

Rather than make any more FRIVOLOUS NOISE I'm going to sign off and go check the fridge to see if there's another bottle of Oertels.

jae 2:37 AM  

Mediumish mostly because I got greedy and put in Hold befrore HANG and lance before SABER with no crosses in place. Erasing eats precious nanoseconds.

Smooth with a couple of fine long downs, liked it a skosh more than @Rex did. Pretty good debut given the red-headed step child status of Tuesday puzzles.

Dale Gribble 6:00 AM  

"I also had OWNS before OFFS (not sure what my brain was doing there)"

So did I! My mind for some reason went to gaming culture with that clue and not, you know, organized crime and murder.

Lewis 6:32 AM  

This just felt interesting all the way through, which is a treat on a Tuesday. Answers kept popping up that I needed crosses for because the clues were vague or that they were things I hadn’t thought of in ages and needed a step to recall. Those two answer types are always interesting to me. The theme was quirky, fun, and tight, and conjured images that made me smile.

There were a couple of clues that seamlessly melded two senses of a word – [Supply for an indebted tattoo artist?] for RED INK, and [Drinking game?] for GIN. This type of clue popped up more in the past than the present. For instance, regarding that GIN clue, all the NYT clues for GIN refer to either the game or the beverage, but not both. That was also interesting, not to mention HEW near HUGH, RAISE over PAYS, and REDINK, which I keep seeing as RE-DINK, the playing strategy of a tennis drop-shot wizard.

This felt to me like the creation of a mind that I’d like to experience more of. Capital P please, Colin, don’t be a one-hit wonder!

D Peck 6:52 AM  

I was less bothered by the lack of symmetry between the themers then by a certain, I dunno, idiomatic dissonance that I’ve seen Rex call out before. All three clues are written as if they describe a state of being, not as if their imperatives. “Stay cool!” would match KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON but plain old “stay cool” implies that one is remaining calm, as “I kept my shirt on,” or some such, which no one ever said. And TIGHTEN YOUR BELT isn’t a stand-alone idiom the way KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON and HANG ON TO YOUR HAT are. The concept of belt-tightening as a metaphor for cutting one’s expenses (usually in response to financial hardship) can exist in a variety of forms, but it’s all but impossible for me to imagine a plausible someone-might-actually-say-or-write-this sentence in which the phrase TIGHTEN YOUR BELT appears. It’s just off, which produced that anticlimactic feeling that Rex finds with so many NYT crosswords. It was just kind of “okay, sure, whatever, moving on.”

Dick Veit 6:52 AM  

Imperative mood, not imperative voice. Voices are active and passive. Moods include declarative, interrogative, imperative, and subjunctive.

Anonymous 7:05 AM  

I guess the Times doesn't typically use the Oxford comma, but I still thought it should have been used in 44D. Its absence made me wonder if there were four compass directions or three of something else. When there's no context, even the Times would normally use it for clarity, I hope.

amyyanni 7:06 AM  

Gotta admit, frivolous lawsuits is certainly topical.

pabloinnh 7:10 AM  

A very Tuesdaying Turesday, and that's OK with me. Very quickly ran into an old friend from years past--hey MERL, how have you been? Hiding out in the old crossword dictionaries, probably.

"Most singers" have a two octave RANGE? Not in my experience, although more than a few try to, leading to some interesting effects. Speaking of singing? FLORA should be clued as "the lily of the West", especially for old folk singers like me.

The ORELSE as an "ultimatum" made me think of either Amos or Andy responding to a threat by asking "Hmmm, giving me an old tomato, eh?". Simpler times.

@FraSlo--What is the sound of one hand clapping? (That's a KOAN.)

Pretty sold stuff, EC. Thanks for the fun.

SouthsideJohnny 7:25 AM  

For me this one seemed to have a little more crunch than an average Tuesday (similar to yesterday). FLORA and KOANS are definitely on the obscure side, especially this early in the week. I personally have never heard of Laura NYRO - she may be in that category as well (or maybe not - Pop Culture is definitely not my area of expertise).

I like the fact that there was nothing really groan-inducing or totally made-up, and they kept the foreign stuff to a minimum (that last comment is a real indication as to just how low the bar is set these days). It seems like we have been treated to the work of some really talented (new?) constructors the last 8-10 days - I don’t follow the individual constructors as closely as some of the others here do, but it seems that way to me.

Lewis 7:30 AM  

@southsidejohnny -- We saw Laura Nyro in the January 23 puzzle.

Edward 7:31 AM  

@okanaganer, I also had HOLDONTOYOURHAT instead of HHANGONTOYOURHAT. Threw off my time and ended my streak. I should have known when I could think of a pen part that began with "L" - LID, maybe? Ruined an otherwise easy puzzle for me.

ChuckD 7:49 AM  

I liked this one fine. Theme was light - but I’m not sure there’s many more examples to use. For those who claim too easy - I’m all in on @Z’s idea that maybe your solving abilities have matured. Liked both FRIVOLOUS and MONOLITHS - with another Laura NYRO sighting. A little heavy on the trivia and nouns today - but not too swarmy.

As someone who still has a bunch of their stuff on vinyl - nice to see URIAH Heep clued this way rather than the normal David Copperfield reference.

Enjoyable solve for a snowy Tuesday.

Hungry Mother 7:51 AM  

Useful theme kept it easy today. I lost all of my stats when I had to reload the app to get a new SB the other day, so no comparisons possible.

JonB3 8:06 AM  

If you define the THEME as ""[action] YOUR [article of clothing]", it fits fine. No out-of-placers. No room for complaining.

Todd 8:07 AM  

I had never heard KOANS before. The crosses were easy enough to get but the word looked wrong. I had to look it up after. I'm surprised Rex didn't mention it.

bocamp 8:20 AM  

Thx, @Colin, for this challenging Tues. puzzle. Enjoyed the battle; didn't need the "saber", tho. :)

Med.+ solve. Felt harder than only one minute over avg.

Spending less on food, so "tightening belt" in more ways than one. πŸ€”

Banjo on My "Knee"

yd 0

Peace ~ Health ~ Hope ~ Equality for all ~ Teamwork πŸ•Š

Charles Flaster 8:22 AM  

Very fine, erudite debut.
Never knew KOANS nor the cluing for FLORA.
Cluing 58D led me from ark to TUg to TUB.
Saw Laura NYRO many decades ago in concert. She was smooth, funny and musically diverse—very entertaining.
Thanks CE.

Z 8:35 AM  

Anyone else think cluing ENSURE this way was a little too “on brand” for the NYTX? I wrote in ENSURE and the eyebrow arched.

I see we’re still doing the QB tribute with TOM B. in the first line.

@Anon7:05 - I didn’t realize the NYT are Vampire Weekend fans.

@Albie - I totally forgot that URIAH Heep are from Rye. What is the sound of one roller coaster clapping?

I saw the Lyle Lovett video Rex posted. Of course my first thought was Warren Zevon. (warning - not what you would call a happy song)

Richard Stanford 8:36 AM  

I had youlleaTYOURHAT for a while. That didn’t work.

Didn’t know ANKARA or ONEIDA and had to guess between fIvE and NINE for the archery score, but got that right.

Didn’t know many of the PPP actually, even if there wasn’t much, so NYRO and URIAH also came from crosses.

Rosanna 8:41 AM  

Koans? Merle? New to me, which is just fine, but too obscure for a Tuesday.

Z 8:56 AM  

Where Did Our Love Go

Barbara S. 9:00 AM  

These days I keep making errors right at the beginning of the solve, so far not too difficult to recognize and correct, but still. Today it was “bluNt” for FRANK, but when I looked at the downs, I was sure KEN had to be the 3-letter word for “Understanding,” so that was that. At the opposite corner, I, too, had TUg for TUB (hi @chefwen and @Charles Flaster), but that was such a terrible answer (and gENDS made no sense) that it quickly got changed.

HANG ONTO YOUR HAT sounds absolutely right to me – “hold on” seems wrong. Interesting – is this some sort of regional variation? I do agree that TIGHTEN YOUR BELT is not a jocular imperative like the other two.

I liked ONEIDA nearish to MONOLITHS, as the ONEIDA are the “People of the Standing Stone” per one of their origin stories. There are ONEIDA people in both the U.S. and Canada. ONEIDA is a word with a number of interesting connotations: first and foremost the people of the Five (later Six) Nations Iroquois Confederacy, but there's also the utopian religious community set up near ONEIDA, N.Y. Work was a big part of their ethos and they established ONEIDA Ltd., the silverware company. My mother bought a handsome set of stainless flatware in the 1960s, which I still have, and the pieces all have the word “Community” marked on the back.

Today we have ALICE WALKER, born Feb. 9, 1944

“You are saying, are you not, I said to Manuelito, that stories have more room in them than ideas? [...] He laughed. That is correct, SeΓ±or. It is as if ideas are made of blocks. Rigid and hard. And stories are made of a gauze that is elastic. You can almost see through it, so what is beyond is tantalizing. You can't quite make it out; and because the imagination is always moving forward, you yourself are constantly stretching. Stories are the way spirit is exercised.”
(From "By The Light Of My Father's Smile")

Nancy 9:05 AM  

CITING Martin Luther King, Jr, the 37D quote read: "fATE is too great a burden to bear." "Ah, yes," I thought, agreeing completely. "How sad but how true, ALAS." I did think that it was sort of an odd thing for a minister to say, but I wrote it in anyway.

Of course he didn't say it. The right answer was HATE. But having FANG at the beginning of 37A made the midsection of this puzzle much harder to solve. Because also...

Right above it was "What a swoosh sound may signal." For me there's only one answer and that's a perfectly thrown shot in basketball that doesn't touch the backboard. My EMAIL doesn't swoosh. My EMAIL doesn't make any NOISE at all. My EMAIL is silent as a TOMB. I had no idea at all what the answer to 34A was.

For these reasons, my solve today felt slow for a Tuesday. I found the puzzle challenging in parts and I enjoyed that. I thought the theme was fun and well-executed. I appreciated such non-Tuesday-ish words as MERL and KOANS -- neither of which I knew. I thought the clue for FRIVOLOUS was perfect for the moment we're in. I liked the clue for RED INK. All in all, a really nice Tuesday.

Joaquin 9:06 AM  

@pabloinnh (7:10) - Thanks for the reminder about FLORA, "the lily of the west". You've nudged me to add this great song to my playlist (PP&M version - is there another?).

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

c'mon. a MONOLITH is the single standing 'stone' in '2001' or the George Washington Monument or ... put a bunch of stones into a structure and call each a MONOLITH? does this make sense? by this 'logic' ANY structure made from upright stock, which is to say 99.9% of all structures, is made from MONOLITHs. reductio ad absurdum.

Frantic Sloth 9:46 AM  

@okanaganer 126am With you on HoldONTOYOURHAT. That one kinda bugged me the most.

@Lewis 632am Leave it to you to point out the nuances of a puzzle that I, too, enjoyed for unknown reasons. Your GIN and REDINK clueing breakdown explained it all - thank you! (Also kept seeing RE-DINK, but couldn't figure how to describe it - good one!)

@Anon 705am πŸ‘πŸ‘ Didn't notice at the time, but now it rankles. Thanks? πŸ˜‰

@Pabloinnh 710am Thanks for the KOAN explanation. I did look it up and realized "oh, it's those things." Q: What's the difference between a duck? A: Ice cream has no bones.

@Nancy 905am Email in my IPad makes a swoosh sound. None of my other devices do. Also, I think the common term for the "all net" basketball shot is "swish".

Soozey 9:49 AM  

Nice one.

Z 9:50 AM  

@Anon9:26 - So that one fooled you? But, yeah, Stonehenge fits the definition fine.

@Frantic Sloth - So your KOAN in your first post wasn’t intentional?

Junief 9:57 AM  

Didn’t anyone else find yen a little non-Tuesday-ish? I was unfamiliar with the symbol, though it was easily get table from the crosses.

pabloinnh 9:59 AM  

@Joaquin-Yeah, for me it's the PP&M version, don't know if there's another one. And who can forget "Her rosy cheeks, her ruby lips, they gave my heart no rest"?. Faithless Flora.

Ernonymous 10:03 AM  

Who's the dude in the photo? Am I the only one who doesn't know who it is? Is it FRANK? MERL? Guy who didn't keep his pants on?

Zen meister 10:08 AM  

If a man speaks in the forest and no woman hears him....is he still wrong?

EdFromHackensack 10:09 AM  

Ms NYRO is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame, and once dated Jackson Browne. She passed away in 1997 at the age of 46 from ovarian cancer. RIP

A 10:13 AM  

I didn’t HATE it, there was just so much negativity: HATE SORE IRE TOMB RUED ONUS OFFS LOUSE BOT OGRE BESETS OR ELSE and no RAISE in PAYS due to the RED INK. ALAS. Agreed with Rex about everything. One of these things is not like the others.

GOER as a stand alone always reminds me of Monty Python. And didn’t they have a skit about the FRIVOLOUS MONOLITHS BUREAU?

Did like seeing Laura NYRO again, and learning about FLORA, and having KOANS extracted from the recesses of my NOGGIN. Don’t recall aver hearing anyone say ‘think box.’ Mom used to say “put on YOUR thinking cap. Sometimes we’d USE an actual HAT.

(from Online Etymology: koan - Zen paradox meant to stimulate the mind, 1918, from Japanese ko "public" + an "matter for thought.")

Nice touch having SLEEVE attached to it’s SHIRT, HAT clinging to NOGGIN (complete with LOUSE), and BELT holding up SABER.

Guess it was a good Tuesday after all. Thanks, Mr. Ernst!

Carola 10:14 AM  

Nice one! Major props to the constructor for coming up with these three vivid grid-spanners, where dealing with a clothing item reflects some mental process - well, that was wordy - but anyway, I really liked it. Especially KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON! (nicely placed over SLEEVE). Also the parallel FRIVOLOUS and MONOLITH, which is anything but. I'd seen the word KOAN but only associated it with something from ASIA; when I had KOA..., I thought "Koalas have something to do with logic?"

RooMonster 10:18 AM  

Hey All !
KOAN - If you tie a buttered piece of toast on the backside of a cat, and toss the cat in the air, how will it land? (Har)

Pretty nice puz. The debuts keep comin! I think Will is getting even more submissions now that he finally joined the computer age last year and accepts online puz submissions. What a pain before, you had to type out the clues (at least I did) and answers, because my computer wouldn't align them for Will's guidelines. I'm sure there is probably a way for the computer to align them, but regarding doing anything computery beside the normal getting online and/or blogging, I'm still in the Stone Age!

I've heard both HANG and HOLD ONTO YOUR HAT. Better than PUT YOUR HAND ON YOUR HAT SO IT STAYS PUT, I suppose. :-) Nice simple three-themer. Doesn't seem too long ago, three-themers were the norm, and four-themers were novel. Forget about five-themers, are you crazy! :-)

Did like this one. Same TUg-TUB writeover y'all had. For LAO, wrote in the AO, as it could be LAO, MAO, TAO. Figured out first themer, but didn't write in YOUR, figuring it might be ONES. I know that ONES gets Rex's goat. Got a Down crosser that gave me the R, and wrote in YOUR. Lamenting no Rex rant on ONES! Never heard the NOGGIN as a "Think box". NOGGIN= the ole brain. Har. Is there a famous IDA? ONEIDA could be clued by here.

Anyway, onto the day!

Three F's

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

NYT, stop trying to make NYRO happen

TTrimble 10:24 AM  

I'll just quickly say that I found the puzzle unproblematic, and that KOANS (pronounced Koh-ahns) are famous in Zen Buddhism, particularly Rinzai Zen, where a convincing presentation of the spirit of these enigmatic expressions, before a discerning master, is regarded as decisive proof of insight. There are hundreds of them.

But I feel like talking about something else:

@Barbara S.
Fascinating remarks on ONEIDA. By sheer coincidence, I saw today another comment on the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, in particular a reference to their Great Law of Peace, recorded on wampum belts (often used as aids to memory in preserving oral tradition). From Wikipedia: "The Great Law of Peace is presented as part of a narrative noting laws and ceremonies to be performed at prescribed times. The laws called a constitution are divided into 117 articles. The united Iroquois nations are symbolized by an eastern white pine tree, called the Tree of Peace. Each nation or tribe plays a delineated role in the conduct of government."

The records are attributed to the Great Peacemaker Deganawida and his spokeman Hiawatha, going back hundreds of years, perhaps as early as the 12th century, and no later than mid-15th century (depending on which scholar is consulted on the life of Deganawida).

Some scholars believe the Great Law of Peace played an important role in the framing of the US Constitution. From Wikipedia:

"Some historians, including Donald Grinde of the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, have claimed that the democratic ideals of the Kaianere’kΓ³:wa provided a significant inspiration to Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and other framers of the U.S. Constitution. They contend that the federal structure of the U.S. constitution was influenced by the living example of the Iroquois confederation, as were notions of individual liberty and the separation of powers.[34] Grinde, Bruce Johansen and others[35] also identify Native American symbols and imagery that were adopted by the nascent United States, including the American bald eagle and a bundle of arrows.[34] Their thesis argues the U.S. constitution was the synthesis of various forms of political organization familiar to the founders, including the Iroquois confederation.

"Franklin circulated copies of the proceedings of the 1744 Treaty of Lancaster among his fellow colonists; at the close of this document, the Six Nations leaders offer to impart instruction in their democratic methods of government to the English. Franklin's Albany Plan is also believed to have been influenced by his understanding of Iroquois government. John Rutledge of South Carolina, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, is said to have read lengthy tracts of Six Nations law to the other framers, beginning with the words "We, the people, to form a union, to establish peace, equity, and order..."[36] In October 1988, the U.S. Congress passed Concurrent Resolution 331 to recognize the influence of the Iroquois Constitution upon the American Constitution and Bill of Rights.[37]"

Utterly fascinating, and I never heard of any of this until today.

To be fair, some scholars dispute this influence on the US Constitution, noting certain discrepancies (some pointing to ways in which the Great Law seems even more "modern" to Western eyes):

"Journalist Charles C. Mann has noted other differences between The Great Law of Peace and the original U.S. Constitution, including the original Constitution's allowing denial of suffrage to women, and majority rule rather than consensus. Mann argues that the early colonists' interaction with Native Americans and their understanding of Iroquois government did influence the development of colonial society and culture and the Suffragette movement, but stated that "the Constitution as originally enacted was not at all like the Great Law."[40][41]"

KRMunson 10:24 AM  

I Googled Koan because I’ve never heard it before. I still don’t get what it means. What does one hand clapping have to do with anything? Maybe I’m just too shallow to understand the Zen nature of this word.

TTrimble 10:30 AM  

@Emonymous 10:03 AM:
I wondered the same at first, but it's MERL Reagle, who was mentioned in Rex's post.

Newboy 10:37 AM  

Thanks Colin for today’s Ernest advice. And congratulations on that NYT debut in this winter of our discontent. Even my SORE shoulder after yesterday’s second Moderna poke couldn’t keep me from smiling when I read of your thirty year journey as it parallels that of my older son. Though he never was a circus juggler, his seasons wrenching for Cycle America and frame building at Bike Friday exposed us as his parents to some amusing clowns. I’m looking forward to seeing you on a Thursday Tour theme grid as that would ENSURE some RANGE for solvers, several of whom cycle through this blog with regularity. Tuesday is fine, but the real fun comes closer to the weekend.

@Z has suggested Warren Zevon’s Mexican downer song above, but neither Z nor Zevon get the credit they deserve. Warren’s last appearance on the Letterman show remains a tribute to the human spirit. Still working on iPad embedded links, but here’s an URL that should bring up a bio.


Masked and Anonymous 10:41 AM  

See Tuesday, 18 Oct 1994 puz, for the HOLDONTOYOURHAT version.

KOANS is a debut word, but KOAN is not -- KOAN was last used in a 2018 SatPuz.

staff weeject pick: ESS. Primo weeject stacks, in the NE & SW.
fave sparkler: BUREAU.

Thanx and congratz on yer debut, Mr. Ernst.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Crimson Devil 10:43 AM  

Agree, whassa KOAN??

mathgent 10:53 AM  

You gotta love Lewis. He compliments the puzzle because he needed a crossing letter or two to get some entries. In other words, he likes the fact that not all the entries are gimmes.

Mind-numbingly dull. Like listening to Gavin Newsom speak. The only spark was the clue for YEN.

As Rex says, too much short stuff. 20 threes and only five entries with eight or more letters, three of which were the themers.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

It brought to mind the Randy Newman song: “You Can Leave Your Hat On”!

Frantic Sloth 11:01 AM  

@Z 950am I see what you did there, but I have no idea what it is.

@Zen meister 1008am 🀣🀣🀣 And yes.

@A 1013am Come to think of it, I never heard of the NOGGIN referred to as "think box" either. Thinking cap, yes. And if Monty Python didn't do a FRIVOLOUS MONOLITHS BUREAU sketch, they should have!

GILL I. 11:12 AM  

Here's my Zen KOAN:
A monk asked, "What is a man of no knowledge?"
The master said, "What are you talking about?"
So now you know what a KOAN is.

Nice little Tuesday as Tuesdays go. I've heard all of these except I say KEEP YOUR PANTS ON. I also wonder why FRANK became so plain-speaking. ALAS, sweet NIBS let go my EGGO.
@Nancy my EMAIL also goes swoooosh. It also pings, and makes a little music.
I'm OFFS for a while. Hasta la vista, baby.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

no your NOGGIN isn't your thinking cap, that's a separate accessory:

"The term thinking cap denotes an imaginary cap humorously said to be worn in order to facilitate thinking.

The earliest instance that I have found is from the Western Carolinian (Salisbury, North Carolina) of 16th October 1821:

We advise the editor to put his thinking-cap on, before he hazards another such assertion.

here: https://wordhistories.net/2017/03/21/thinking-cap/

Whatsername 11:18 AM  

To be FRANK, I would’ve liked yesterday’s puzzle a lot better if it had been this one. What a fun Monday! I liked the theme which seemed super easy but still clever. Congratulations to Mr. Ernst on his NYT debut. TRES bien!

If Amanda Gorman read a poem at an impeachment hearing, would you call that an Ode To A Louse? Just a random thought that entered my NOGGIN.

JC66 11:19 AM  


I emailed you my Embedding Cheat Sheet*.

*That's not a KOAN.

Barbara S. 11:25 AM  

@TTrimble (10:24)
That's fascinating. I'm no expert on matters constitutional, but one thing that seems very different is the central role of women in the governance of the Iroquois.

bocamp 11:52 AM  

@okanaganer 1:26 AM

Thx for the Google Ngram link; that's a great resource! :)

@pabloinnh 7:10 AM

Thx for the "koans" illustration. I knew they were Zen related, but had forgotten exactly what they are: koan

@ChuckD 7:49 AM

D'oh, I just plunked "Uriah" in there without even noticing the "rock band" part. (lack of focus, again) LOL

@Z 8:35 AM

Good "catch"; yesterday we had "tom braider" and today "tom besets". πŸ˜‰

@Frantic Sloth 9:46 AM

For "swoooosh", before parsing the sentence, my first thot was "all net", then "Nike", then ??? When "email" finally appeared from crosses, I had a d'oh moment, as my Mac Mail app has that effect when releasing an email into cyberspace. And, of course, you're right, a nothing but net, is a "swish" shot. πŸ˜‚

@Junief 9:57 AM

Yes for "yen"; same result with help from the crosses.

@Ernonymous 10:03 AM

My first thot on seeing the pic of Merl Reagle was, "what's the pic of Merl for?" It was only when reading the comments that I was reminded of 7D.

@A 10:13 AM

I always cringe at "offs" (as clued), and upon completion of the puz, spidey sense suggested there was some additional negativity in this one. Apparently, I chose not to pursue the issue, as the last time I found so much negativity, I did comment to the constructor. Perhaps this time the words, per se, (other than "offs") didn't trigger the same overall response. Good for you to catch this. πŸ‘

@@oceanjeremy 11:59 PM y.d.

Re: ‘The Hardest Logic Puzzle Ever’ Made Even Harder, see latest posts from yesterday. πŸ€“

Peace ~ Health ~ Hope ~ Equality for all ~ Teamwork πŸ•Š

old timer 12:01 PM  

Easy as pie, though they only easy pie to make is a mud pie. No fair complaining about ANKARA, you know. Crossword solvers are expected to know their world capitals, often including Ulan Bator. And Sofia, and Oslo, and other constructor-friendly places.

There are IMO no nits worth picking today, other than it really could have run on a Monday.

jberg 12:23 PM  

I enjoyed the theme. I don't agree with @Rex that "Keep" and "hold on to" are synonyms. I mean, they can be made to be -- but as used here, the first means to refrain from doing something, while the second means to get ready for a tumultuous time.

A few auibbles about the clues. You HEW something with an ax, but you split logs with a maul, and possibly a wedge; and a BUREAU is actually a subsection of a department, at least in the u.s. But OK for crosswords, I guess.

@BarbaraS, @TTrimble -- I used to teach about the Great Law of Peace as part of my course on American Political Thought. It is interesting in its own right, regardless of its relationship to the US Constitution. There are some who go overboard, but most would suggest that only certain features influenced the Constitution -- e.g., the general ideas of different institutions checking each other, and of federalism. Their impeachment procedure was dvery different: if the council of women told a leader that he had acted improperly, he was supposed to vacate his office. If he refused, the warriors were supposed to rush in and beat him to death with clubs. Im not advocating that, though.

@Lewis, I've been doing a lot of cryptics lately; in them, "Drinking game" for GIN is one of the standard types of clue. My first reaction was that cryptic clues are starting to sneak into non-cryptic puzzles, but from what you say maybe they've always been there.

sixtyni yogini 12:38 PM  

Good one! Super fast. Clever clues.
Answer to @ Zen Meister’s “koan”: πŸ˜‚πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ˜‚
And appreciate Rex’s crit today too.

ChrisSaintH 12:42 PM  

KOANS and KEN, puckish words for a Tuesday. First time encountering them both, will for sure be using in Scrabble.

Pleasant enough puzzle. Finished in under a cup of coffee.

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

Although I'm disappointed that the other two themers didn't meet my criterion, I'm still very happy with the oxymoronic quality of 17A and its clue since you're not likely to "Stay cool" when you KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON.

@Nancy, your philosophical take on the slightly skewed MLK quote made me giggle and @Roo, your KOAN had me laughing out loud. When I read it to my co-worker and we started speculating on which truism would take precedence, the cat or the buttered toast, he declared it Talmudic.

Thanks, Colin Ernst, I found this quite entertaining (with help from the commentariat). Congrats on your debut.

jae 1:19 PM  

@bocamp - re: Croce’s Freestyle #584. Me too for a no errors finish. It seemed slightly easier than the last two but still in Stumper territory.

TTrimble 1:53 PM  

@Barbara S., @jberg
So from what @jberg says, it is uncontroversial that the Great Law of Peace had at least some influence on the framing of the Constitution, and was (according to Wikipedia) an inspiration to some of the principal framers. Shouldn't some general awareness of this within the US be taught in high school? So far as I know, it isn't. (And I for one am a little blown away.)

(Plus, if educators want to teach appreciation of other cultures and civilizations and their ideas, this could be an exemplary model.)

Thanks for the link, @Barbara! You never know what you may learn through this blog.


pg -1.

bocamp 1:59 PM  

@jae 1:19 PM πŸ‘


pg -3

Peace ~ Health ~ Hope ~ Equality for all ~ Teamwork πŸ•Š

Z 2:00 PM  

@Frantic Sloth - What the hell are KOANS and why are they in my Tuesdee puzzle?
You know what? Never mind. Don't answer that. It'll just confuse me.

I heard echoes of If you meet the Buddha Kill the Buddha in that.

@Newboy - Agree with you about Zevon. In the spirit of KOANS, Why didn't Roland say a word?

Newboy 2:21 PM  

@Z headless Thompson gunners speak without lips? But only when words are not heeded by those with ears who fail to listen? Sorta ironic that that clip closed the Letterman appearance.

Lewis 2:21 PM  

@mathgent -- I should have been more specific. Needing crosses for answers is unexpected and therefore interesting to me ON A TUESDAY, which usually just slaps in. Happy to make you smile, though.

Lewis 2:24 PM  

@jberg -- No, I think that those cryptic type clues haven't been in crosswords much in the Shortz era, but, as you say, I think they're beginning to creep in.

oisk17 2:29 PM  

Koans! Learned something new - liked it. Enjoyed this one. No complaints at all.

sanfranman59 2:34 PM  

Easy NYT Tuesday ... 18% below my 6-month Tuesday median ... 1.30 Rexes (fast, for me)

It's another new constructor for my solving database. There sure seem to have been a lot of those lately. I had a much easier time with today's puzzle than I did yesterday's, but I liked yesterday's grid better. I'm not sure why. It just seemed more interesting. On the other hand, it feels good to come out of the mini speed-solving slump I've had the last two days.

I don't think I've seen the crosswordese-y MERL {7D: Old World blackbird} in quite a while. It kinda sucks as an answer, but it's always nice to be reminded of crossword legend MERL Reagle. NOGGIN {36A: "Think box"} took a few visits to surface from the clue, particularly since I had 'nEar' and then 'nExt' before SENT {27D: On the way} at the terminal cross. The clue for EMAIL {34A: What a "swoooosh" sound may signal is on its way} doesn't mean anything to me. "Swoooosh" sound? I think get a "ding" on my phone and computer and generally keep the sound muted on both. FLORA {31D: Goddess of spring} gets a later-in-the-week type clue, to my ear. I had 'Hold ONTO YOUR HAT' before HANG ONTO YOUR HAT {37A: Get ready for something amazing} for yet another mid-solve stumbling block. I'm always happy to see NYRO {55D: Songwriter Laura} and, though we had her in a recent puzzle, I'm guessing there will be much hand-wringing about her lack of present-day notoriety in CrossWorld. There are no complaints in that regard from this quarter.

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

Koans are basically lessons in Buddhist (specifically Zen Buddhist, maybe?) philosophy.

Anonymous 3:52 PM  

Worst clue of the day: 35D, "Uprights at Stonehenge, e.g." They are literally not MONOLITHS, since they are a part of a larger structure and not by themselves, but they are MEGALITHS.

Z 4:23 PM  

If an anonymous posts wrong information in a forest without reading earlier posts is it because they are stuck on the roller coaster in Rye?

If all squares are rhombi why aren't all rhombi squares? And isn't it actually rhombopodes?

Why do FAQ pages exist if nobody ever goes there for answers to their questions.

16. The puzzle has an error! I am indignant!

99% of the time, you (the complainer) are wrong. Sometimes the clue is inelegant. Sometimes the clue is stretching the meaning of a certain word. Sometimes the clue is using a word in a way you aren't thinking of or haven't heard of. But flat-out errors are Rare. Very Rare. So reconsider your position. Then, if you must, see 15, above.

Barbara S. 4:36 PM  

I'm in the business of researching author quotations these days and I've just come across a lovely and appropriate one from E.B. White, which I've linked to below (even though it's not his birthday).

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

kitshef 5:23 PM  

Wheelehouse and outhouse. Solving using only down clues, MERL, FLORA and KOANS were easy peasy. My downfall was NYRO next to GOER I had "no idea" and "sOng" there and no way to fix it.

ChuckD 5:34 PM  

@Anon 3:52 going full out NERDCORE on us

bocamp 5:53 PM  

@Barbara S. 4:36 PM

Thank you so much for this link!

That letter of E.B. White's is one of the most inspiring things I've ever seen in print. It's only three paragraphs; you given us the last one, and it sums up his sentiments, but the second one sets the stage. I hope you don't mind my pasting it here, as I fear there are so many of us who don't click on the links others have so lovingly included in their comments.

"Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out." ~ E.B. White in a reply to a distressed man who wrote to him "lamenting that he had lost faith in humanity."

Peace ~ Health ~ Hope ~ Equality for all ~ Teamwork πŸ•Š

Joe Dipinto 6:48 PM  

Jill Sobule sings a Laura Nyro song while solving a "New York Times Crossword" especially created by Will Shortz.

Z 7:23 PM  

@Joe Dipinto 6:48 - πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½

@ChuckD5:34 - @Me4:23 and @Me9:50 beg to differ.

Barbara S. 7:25 PM  

@bocamp 5:53 PM

You're welcome, and of course I don't mind at all your quoting the second paragraph. I'm happy that White's letter spoke to you so powerfully.

Joe Dipinto 8:09 PM  

I think I meant specially created. No worries, I'll just remove an "e" somewhere els.

ChuckD 8:45 PM  

@Z 7:23 - lol I agree just thought the blind hubris of the worst clue assertion was comical.

Carl Larson 9:59 PM  

Same theme phrases (with HOLD instead on HANG) done back in 1994.


Maybe after 25 years we can reuse themes

Frantic Sloth 10:28 PM  

@Z 200pm Ah. I get it now. Definitely echoes. πŸ˜‰

Joe Dipinto 11:39 PM  

@Carl Larson – Whoa, that's a trip. Exact same placements in the grid too. Today's constructor says he uses XWord Info as a tool, but I guess he didn't check his theme answers for priors.

Z 5:01 AM  

@Car Larson - For whatever reason when I paste your url xwordinfo wants me to log in. Here’s another link to that puzzle. It’s slightly shorter than what you shared, so maybe it will work better for us no account people.
Personally, that’s a little too close even 26+ years later. Although looking at some of the PPP in that older puzzle got serious arched eyebrow from me. The old testament prophet is a new one here.

@Chuck D - I was thinking bringing out “megaliths” was the hubristic height, but you might be right that “worst clue” is tops. Still, they let me break out rhombopodes so there’s that.

foodcello 10:52 PM  


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