Seat for the ruler of the Seen Kingdoms of Westeros / TUE 2-23-21 / One using crude language

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Constructor: Kate Hawkins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: POTTY MOUTH (57A: One using crude language ... or one saying the last parts of the answers to the  starred clues?) — last words in theme answers are (like "potty") euphemisms for "toilet":

Theme answers:
  • IRON THRONE (18A: *Seat for the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros)
  • DEADHEAD (24A: *Devotee of Jerry Garcia's band)
  • ELTON JOHN (36A: *"Can You Feel the Love Tonight" singer/composer)
  • WATERLOO (52A: *Decisive defeat)
Word of the Day: TIN ROOF (49A: "Hot" place for a cat in theater) —
This sundae features a scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and a scoop of chocolate ice cream with creamy white marshmallow sauce, topped with Spanish peanuts. The Tin Roof Sundae was created in 1916, at the Potter Drug Co., in Potter, Nebraska, owned by pharmacist James Earl Thayer. His son, Harold Dean “Pinky” Thayer, worked in the soda fountain as a teenager and is credited for inventing the ice cream treat. According to Dr. J.E. Thayer of Sidney, there are two stories of how the sundae got its name. The first is that it was inspired by the tin ceiling in the business; the other is that the stable across the street had a tin roof and that he named it after that. The Tin Roof Sundae can still be enjoyed in Potter, Nebraska, where the Potter Drug Co., now called the Potter Sundry, is still in operation. (wikipedia)

that feeling when a cat ruins your favorite sundae

• • •

Very competent but very staid, very quarter-century-ago feeling, and very not for me. This feels like a puzzle from a bygone time, a time when ... people were ashamed to refer to the toilet and therefore invented a whole bunch of silly euphemisms. Actually, "head" is nautical and "loo" is British, but "john"'s period of peak popularity is before my time (on this earth) and I've only heard people use "throne"-as-toilet in the dumbest of unfunny jokey ways. And the revealer is baby-talk, or, rather, adult baby-talk used to refer to someone who is swearing (you know, like a grown-up, or a precocious kid). There's nothing charming about any of this. Toilet euphemisms, no, the very concept of "POTTY MOUTH," no. Truly, it's such an off-putting expression, combining baby-talking with an astonishingly filthy literal image. And the priggishness implied by the term ... I just can't find any of this fun. It's not offensive, it's just tiresome. Just use profanity, just say "toilet," just grow up and get on with your life. Further, toilets—not my favorite thing to have to meditate on at 5 in the a.m. Again, this theme is right over the plate, conceptually. Utterly conventional. A last-words-type puzzle just like they made in the last century. Unfortunately, the corny chuckle-"humor" comes from the last century as well. When I read the revealer clue, I really thought that [One using crude language...] was going to involve some kind of clever oil business pun (on "crude"). This made discovering the whole "potty" angle that much more disappointing. Worse than the theme subject (which you can like or not like, whatever) is the stale fill. The grid is just drenched in repeaters (of the ASAP EMIR HOC CSI ERE SSR ERIE UKE type). Just ... awash. FLOODed. This repeater onslaught probably has more to do with my failure to warm up to this puzzle than the theme (which is pretty much neutral at a purely technical level, in terms of concept and execution). When you don't have snazzy or eye-catching or even interesting longer answers, all the short stuff really starts to feel like a swarm of gnats. And today's longer answers were perfectly adequate, but that's about all they were. Thus, gnats. Better than BEES, I guess, but only just (32A: Honeybunch?).

[" ... TIN ROOF, rusted ..."]

If you had any trouble with this puzzle at all, it's likely because you aren't a "Game of Thrones" fan. Clue doesn't even bother mentioning that that's where the answer comes from. Annoying that the NYTXW just assumes "we" all know every aspect of this (pay-cable) show, but such is life. We're gonna get "GOT" clues for decades. It's like Harry Potter for grown-ups. Speaking of ... just after having this thought about the "GOT" / HP connection, I surprisingly, yet unsurprisingly, ran into the EMMA clue: 54D: Actress Watson of the "Harry Potter" films—totally gratuitous HP promotion. Mme. Bovary cries out for respect from her fictional grave. This puzzle has two non-word sounds, which is one too many for my tastes (UHS, HMM) (although I guess MEW is also a non-word sound, but it's adorable, so I'll give it a pass). I had UMS before UHS, the kind of "mistake" that really makes a puzzle "fun" (21D: Speech fillers). If there's a highlight today, it's CAL and GARY, my new favorite Canadian crossword-solving couple (47A: Canadian city whose name consists of two consecutive boys' names). I hope an actual Canadian couple named CAL and GARY were solving this puzzle together, got to that clue, and then just slowly turned to look at each other ... AGAPE. (if you *are* that couple, please call me)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 6:23 AM  

This toilet theme was not my most favorite theme ever but I will rate it as a solid number 2.

Anonymous 6:26 AM  

TIN ROOF sundae, anyone? Mmmmm....

OffTheGrid 6:40 AM  

I only agree with @Rex on the awfulness of the word "POTTY". I think the puzzle was OK, easier but not as sharp as yesterday's. Yes, there was some common short fill but we also had CAFTAN, ARTISAN, CALGARY, SCEPTER, KARAOKE, CLATTER, and my favorite, TINROOF, a shout out to one of my favorite movies. Paul Newman and Liz Taylor-magical.

Lewis 6:52 AM  

I did like the theme’s supporting player – WASH – and I loved CAFTAN, CLATTER, and SCEPTER.

The theme got me thinking about the word “privy”, how its adjective (being in on a secret) and noun (outhouse) meanings are so different, but then on second thought, not really, the focus being on PRIVacY.

Ah! A tiny discovery, maybe interesting only to me, but enriching nonetheless. Thank you, Kate!

Anonymous 7:05 AM  

One killer misspelling that I couldn't find (spent 5 minutes finding it) was putting in TAO rather than TAU. Ugh.

SouthsideJohnny 7:07 AM  

So basically, Rex didn’t care for the theme. No bid deal, it’s his preference. I thought the entire puzzle was actually pretty good - a lot of word play and a minimal amount of foreign stuff or other obscure PPP. I’d be more than satisfied with this type of puzzle (and this level of difficulty) pretty much every Tuesday.

Hungry Mother 7:12 AM  

Played harder than it was. I saw the theme and it reinforced my entries rather than motivating them. My medic was concerned about rOUNDs for a while before history stepped in.

I'm just saying... 7:19 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle. I couldn't see complaining about it being so last century and then picking up on using Emma Thompson instead of Emma Bovary from 2 centuries ago.

Z 7:27 AM  

Interesting that TIN ROOF got us. B-52’s video rather than WATERLOO getting us an Abba video. I approve of Rex’s choice, but two videos would have been good, too. Although Rex’s caption was funny, especially since he is a Cat Pic On Twitter poster, now.

Speaking of, TIN ROOF sundaes are not my cuppa. The only thing I like with marshmallow are S’Mores, and then only around a campfire. I do love that has a TIN ROOF, rusted explainer.

FIANCÉE no longer only means “bride-to-be.” It can now mean something like “long-term partner who maybe one day I will marry but it’s not as if we’ve set a date or anything but calling her my FINACÉE keeps our moms and dads from harping at us for living together.”

“Harry Potter for grown-ups” was amusing, especially since I just saw somebody describe Battlestar Galactica as “Game of Thrones in space.”

@Joaquin - I found your humor a little constipated.

What Rex said about toilet humor in the morning. The boys are men, now, so I haven’t had to endure POTTY humor for over a decade.

Joaquin 7:33 AM  

@Lewis' use of the word "privy" reminds me of that terrible part of our history that Abe Lincoln addressed.

Lincoln, of course, is best remembered for his work with the American Indian tribes. As a young man, Abe was deeply moved by the egregious insensitivity shown by the U.S. government when they minted a coin of the realm featuring the Native American Privy. The coin, commonly called the "Indian head penny", so outraged Lincoln that he protested by minting his own one-cent coin with his likeness on it. And, as they say, the rest is history.

kitshef 7:43 AM  

Why exactly is CLATTER and “apt” anagram of RATTLE + C? Specifically, what does the ‘C’ have to do with it?

Two references in the comments already to a tin roof sundae – a phrase I have never before encountered.

NYT can take it's Game of Thrones fixation and flush it.

The Joker 7:58 AM  

Long ago in a relatively primitive society a chieftan lived in a hut built from the local flora. He had a very elegant chair upon which he sat, but found it uncomfortable and unnecessary. There happened to be a loft in his hut where he decided to put the chair for safekeeping. Alas, the loft was not adequately strong and the chair crashed through, striking and killing the chieftan. The moral: People who live in grass houses shouldn't STOW THRONES.

pabloinnh 8:04 AM  

Started in the NW and went due S, so I ran into the revealer before I hit many themers, which made the rest of the affair pretty simple. Most of the rest of the affair was a read-the-clue-fill-in-the-blank exercise anyway, with a preponderance of moo-cow (hi M&A). I know it's Tuesday but a little more crunch would be appreciated, at least by me.

Didn't mind the theme, although PORCELAINBUS would have been a nice addition, as used in college days. What's the matter with Fred? Oh, he was a little overserved, and now he's driving the porcelain bus.

OK Tues., KH, although it felt more Mon. to me. Not your fault.

Barbara S. 8:07 AM  

I was a bit surprised that this theme passed the NYT’s breakfast test, but maybe the test is becoming less stringent. I was mostly amused by it, although I agree that the term “potty mouth” is horrible, and I’ve always disliked it. A humorous thing about the theme answers is that outside of crossword puzzles they’re all capitalized, which seems to aggrandize the lowly euphemized toilet: Iron Throne, Deadhead (or Dead Head, according to Wikipedia), Elton John, Waterloo. I liked the inclusion of FLOOD, WASH and STEAMS, all characteristic of bathrooms. My only serious mistake was “muumuu” for CAFTAN, but I should have known there were unlikely to be four down answers starting with U in such close proximity. (I guess I did it for @M&A.) It took me till the end to find and fix that error because I solved the top third by looking at across clues only.

Today’s excerpt is by W.E.B. Du Bois, born Feb. 23, 1868.

“My real life work was done at Atlanta for thirteen years, from my twenty-ninth to my forty-second birthday. They were years of great spiritual upturning, of the making and unmaking of ideals, of hard work and hard play. Here I found myself. I lost most of my mannerisms. I grew more broadly human, made my closest and most holy friendships, and studied human beings. I became widely-acquainted with the real condition of my people. I realized the terrific odds which faced them. At Wilberforce I was their captious critic. In Philadelphia I was their cold and scientific investigator, with microscope and probe. It took but a few years of Atlanta to bring me to hot and indignant defense. I saw the race-hatred of the whites as I had never dreamed of it before,—naked and unashamed! The faint discrimination of my hopes and intangible dislikes paled into nothing before this great, red monster of cruel oppression. I held back with more difficulty each day my mounting indignation against injustice and misrepresentation.”
(From Darkwater: Voices From Within the Veil, 1920)

Richard Stanford 8:08 AM  

Agreed. Anagram, yes, but apt?

MyNameHere 8:16 AM  

It’s apt because Rattle and Clatter have similar meanings.

Z 8:16 AM  

@pabloinnh - We called that “praying to the porcelain god.” We were very religious.

bocamp 8:20 AM  

Thank you, @Kate for this crunchy Tues. puz! :)

Med solve.

Got hung up a bit in the SW mainly due to fat fingers at 51A. It all worked out, tho. LOL

Attended the Canadian Little League Championships in "Calgary" ('94). What a beautiful city!

Big Rock Candy Mountain ~ Burl Ives

Oh, the buzzin' of the "bees" and the cigarette trees

The soda water fountain

Where the lemonade springs and the bluebird sings

In that Big Rock Candy Mountain

@albatross shell (10:57 PM last night) 💋

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Z 8:24 AM  

@MyNameHere - I fear you’re right, but that doesn’t help those of us irked by the “Why +C?” question. Personally, I’m on record as being generally opposed to anagram clues, so adding in an irrelevant letter to turn your non-anagram into an anagram is “Cluing ‘Rye’ as a ‘town with a marina’” level awful. I briefly (one tenth of one half of a nanosecond) pondered the possibility that it was some sort of programming language thing. Something, anything, to give that “+C” meaning beyond just “these aren’t actually anagrams.”

ChuckD 8:34 AM  

Liked this one fine. Cute theme - fill was a little trivia laden and some short glue but overall a decent solve. It had me with the PARADISE x DEAD HEAD cross especially using Jerry in the clue. Long downs were nice - had SCEPTre first and didn’t know CAFTAN. Interesting visual in the SW of OCTOPUKE.

Enjoyable Tuesday.

Nancy 8:38 AM  

"CAN I do something like this" wondered the constructor, her face FLUSHED? "Would the good Gray Lady be PRIVY to such a thing? "Well maybe if I LAVish enough attention on the details."

Yes, it's in the NYT all right. Who woulda thunk? And we sure have a lot of words for toilet, don't we?

I didn't notice the theme early on and I was bored with all the slam-dunk cluing at the top. But as I worked my way to the puzzle's BOTTOM, I perked up. It got harder and more curiosity-provoking. OCTOPUSes use tools???!!! You do KARAOKE while reading a screen???!!! I thought you did it while clutching a microphone. WATERLOO for "decisive defeat" evaded me for a while and the theme helped me get it. So the theme wasn't WASTEd on me. Cute idea for a puzzle.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Re: GOT being HP for grownups. I know many, many grownups who are still Harry Potter fans, a series they continue to read and watch even while reading and watching Game of Thrones. Repeatedly.

And the Avengers.

And the Marvel universe.

And the endless Bat- and Superman fare.

And Star Wars.

And Star Trek.

Bleah. Too bad they're not crossword fans. They'd be pretty good at it, since so many @#$!! clues hail from such.

RooMonster 9:18 AM  

Hey All !
@Joaquin 6:23
LOLOL!! Great.

@Nancy 8:38
Your comment really BOWLed me over! :-)

Har, "praying to the porcelain god". Been there, done that. One of those mornings where you say, "I'll never do that again!" Quite a few years ago, I actually got there. Now I don't do that again! Took a few tries...

I liked this puz. POTTY humor. Close to the best kind. Hey, fart jokes/sounds always get me giggling. Sure, I might need to grow up... But too bad! Not sure what Rex is looking for lately in the puzs. A bunch that he has just obliterated were pretty good. Lets put this next sentence to the tune of Bob Dylans' Everyone Must Get Stoned:
He complains when the puz skews too old,
He complains when the puz is too new,
He complains about too much -ese,
He complains and he never seems pleased
But I wish he'd start to like some puzs
Everyone is pretty darn tired of his bitching and complaining!
(OK, that last line was a bit too long!)

Anyway, nice puz for a Tuesday. Toughest part was SER for "To be, in Spanish". Huh? Am I just not up on Spanish To Be? (Probably) I thought it was something else. Esta?

Interesting stuff about TIN ROOF that @Z linked too. People will just make up/believe anything about anything. Thinking "TIN ROOF, rusted" means being pregnant? Dang. And these are the people who are out there voting. (No party affiliation on that, Dems think Reps are wrong, Reps think Dems are wrong.)(I think ALL politicians are liars and cheats.)(Dang, hate bringing politics into things...)

Gonna leave on a high note, singular OCTOPUS, so no argument about the correct plural, SILENT by itself without an added letter, is KARAOKE pronounced CARE-A-OH-KEY, or CAR-OH-KEY? Discuss. :-)

Three F's

KnittyContessa 9:24 AM  

Rex, what you said.

Wasn't my favorite puzzle. I flew through this one with few exceptions. I had muumuu before CAFTAN, ums before UHS.

After IRONTHRONE I feared it was going to be a GOT puzzle. Has that been done?

Christopher Jones 9:28 AM  

As a longtime Deadhead, I enjoyed that clue but other than that.....meh.

TTrimble 9:36 AM  

This was noticeably easier than yesterday's; I think maybe Shortz got mixed up in the order. Agree with Rex that the theme is a nose-wrinkler and is silly, although he did sort of go on and on about it.

(Hey -- doesn't he co-solve on the 23rd of the month? Or do I misremember?)

I didn't know OKC is an actual abbreviation (I was about to complain about it). Learn something new. Speaking of which: now I'm really curious to see video of an OCTOPUS using tools. But the only thing I found was a "coconut OCTOPUS", I guess so-called because it uses the two halves of a coconut shell to assemble a makeshift shelter for itself. (And now we learn, courtesy of the Smithsonian, that the plural really is "octopi". ;-) You just figure that if anyone would know, it's the Smithsonian.)

(See, what I was really hoping for is to see a real-life demo of an octopus building a craft as the animals do in Animal Crossing, which has taken over our household. I gotta admit, the game's animals and their voices really are adorably seductive. My wife and children are completely addicted. I'm often a willing spectator.)

Well, at this point I'm just going to latch on to OCTOPUS because I don't see much else in the puzzle to get excited about -- the SW corner was my favorite part, and CAFTAN is also not bad, but that's about it for me. Anyway, back to OCTOPUS: if you don't already know about the extraordinary abilities of the octopus to camouflage itself, you simply must see this.

Anyway, have a good days, folks -- catch you later.

Crimson Devil 9:36 AM  

Agree: Mondayish.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

I address the “GOT” fixation: not only are solvers supposed to know all character and place names, they are required to know ALL clues about television shows and rap “singers”.
What about us non television viewers (in fact, those of us who do not even own a television!)?
One shouldn’t assume such a thing is not possible.
It is. I am one.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

That’s too old of a joke to be accepted by Rex.

Crimson Devil 9:38 AM  

Agree: flush it.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

Easier than yesterday but gross

Foldyfish 9:47 AM  

Hey Folks... it would seem that Rex and others have either forgotten or do not know that Game of Thrones is based on actual books. Some of us read the books before the show was a thing.

Carola 9:52 AM  

Theme-wise, I thought the best thing was I'M ON IT x JOHN. I also liked the addition of the SCEPTER to the accoutrements of a household THRONE. Fun to write in: CAFTAN, CLATTER, PHONICS, WATERLOO, and to be reminded by @Rex of the drug store soda fountain tin roof sundaes of my youth.

Paul & Kathy 9:59 AM  

PR time today for a Tuesday. Can't work up any offense over the theme. I guess I could trouble myself to wonder why anyone would use this theme, because I wouldn't choose it personally. But it's not like I'm being forced to do the puzzle; it is offered by respected professionals for my entertainment for four bucks per month, and for a couple of minutes I was entertained. That's all I ask.

johnk 10:04 AM  

My name has been used far too long for a toilet.
Now please excuse me - I have to go to the kate.

mathgent 10:04 AM  

I can't think off a single positive thing to say about it. Look at how hard Lewis had to work to find something he liked.

No crunch, no sparkle, unappetizing theme, a near-record 27 threes crowding out long entries. Silly throw-ins like the anagram and the clue for OCTOPUS.

sixtyni yogini 10:08 AM  

I dunno. Thought it was kinda cute and very easy.
Yeah, the theme is not the most beautiful or edifying, but loos are for real.i

Newboy 10:14 AM  

A nice day for an easy puzzle. Although Rex is right, today I find the real joy in the commentary. @Lewis, @Roo, and @Barbara’s posts brought their usual smiles. Now I’m off to explore history of coinage thanks to @Joaquin, so all in all a nice Tuesday given impetus by Kate’s call to play and OFL’s response.

TTrimble 10:15 AM  

Re POTTY humor: this one is for you. It's Louis CK on the topic of farts. Enjoy.

(You're in pretty good company,I'd say. (-: )

newbie 10:24 AM  

9:18 am Roo - best poem here yet!

Wondered about octopus being asked about yesterday and showing up in today's puzzle. Surely the puzzles are picked far more than one day in advance, aren't they?

(Fyi: I knew it was octopi but held myself back because I didn't want to seem like a know-it-all - as somebody always says, har!
@Foldy - I also read all of the Game of Thrones books and have yet to watch one episode of the series, though I probably will sometime. I put it off because I didn't want to ruin the feeling of the books - plus it would be too bloody to see on the screen, if that makes any sense.)

newbie 10:27 AM  

Didn’t realize how distasteful the puzzle was until I read Rex, as usual.

Not a fan of the theme but it didn’t bother me while solving because I didn’t look at the theme until the end. I usually leave it until I get to that clue unless I’m having trouble and need some help. So those answers were fine - better than fine - if you ignore the last word/theme connection.

Other than that, liked seeing Colbert (uhoh - was he being connected with the theme?) Have always disliked that (the theme’s) expression - nice to see that others feel the same. Also liked seeing Eminem and Elton John.

Am I detecting an anti-Ohio sentiment from Rex? Yesterday it was OU, today Erie, lol.

I liked the seldom-seen Calgary but Cal and Gary? Ok until Rex started in on it. ��

How ‘bout them Ukrainians! And what are people from Kyiv/Kiev called anyway? -ians, -ers? And eaus instead of eaux - what’s up with that?

Have a fun and nonconfrontational day, everyone! ��

Malsdemare 10:39 AM  

We all know I'm easy to please so no one will be surprised that I thought it was just fine. I liked CAFTAN, SCEPTER, KARAOKE, PHONICS. It’s pretty much what I expect on a Tuesday. OCTOPUS reminded me of one of my favorite recent reads, "Other Minds." A wonderful exploration of early evolution, life in the ocean, and the remarkable octopus. @TTrimble, thanks for the wonderful link.

The weather has turned abruptly and so our wonderful hardpacked, deep snow is melting. But the malamutes and I did get out for four wonderful days and the two dogs, who'd never been in harness, pulled like champs. If I knew how to post a link, I'd share some video.

Masked and Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Potty breaks! Didn't know the IRONTHRONE one, but got it ok from crossers. WATERLOO was kinda an extra-credit themer, as it brought its own WATER along. Thought WASH was an apt followup tip.

staff weeject pick: OKC. A debut weeject, @RP. Freshness, dude.

Thought the fillins were generally pretty great. faves included: FAJITA. KARAOKE. PARADISE. CAFTAN. CALGARY. And always good to see OCTOPUS get some ink.

Primo BEES clue. Weird CLATTER clue.

Thanx for the fun, Ms. Hawkins darlin.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Anonymous 10:44 AM  

did rex go there? Cal and Gary being a homosexual couple? How progressive

Andy S 10:46 AM  

Robinson Cano, for one. -- Mets Hitter

Whatsername 10:54 AM  

@Joaquin and @Nancy: You guys are a real gas.

So was this puzzle and not the SILENT but deadly kind either. It’s laugh out loud look at the terms we use to avoid specifically referring to such places. I’d hate to think I’m so old and stodgy that I can’t enjoy a little giggle at some harmless POTTY humor. Thanks Kate for lifting the lid on my inner child this morning.

Lady GAGA is someone I used to look on with puzzlement bordering on horror, but I have come to admire and respect her over time. She sings the National anthem with such power and dignity. Most importantly to me, she makes it about the song as it was composed, not her own personal interpretation of it.

And speaking of President Joseph R. Biden, wasn’t the IRON THRONE what Donald Trump used to sit on back when he was allowed to tweet? You know, before he met his WATERLOO?

Masked and Anonymous 11:07 AM  

@RP: ahar. Interestin caption under yer blog's Paul & Liz pic. Did one of them Sharp kitties per-chance use yer sundae as a litterbox?


Lewis 11:12 AM  

From constructor Kate's notes, speaking of the puzzle: "I hope you’re not too grown up to enjoy it."

To which may I add, with an "amen!", one of my favorite quotes from Dave Barry: "You can only be young once. But you can always be immature."

Truly, I see immaturity as keeping the child in the adult, as greenlighting silliness, as a hedge against getting jaded and crabby. God bless it!

JC66 11:28 AM  


I emailed you a cheat sheet so you can post links.

Mr. Cheese 11:39 AM  

I may be the only one in the US who’s never seen:
Gone With The Wind
Any Godfather movie
Any Harry Potter movie or book
Any Game of Thrones episode

I’m not braggin’, just sayin’

jae 11:40 AM  

Medium. This was a lot more fun and a bit smoother than yesterday’s. Liked it a lot more than @Rex did.

Plus, COLBERT is back after a week off.

A 11:46 AM  

Enjoyed Rex a whole bunch more than the puzzle today. “repeater onslaught,” “swarm of gnats,” MEW - “it’s adorable, so I’ll give it a pass,” “CAL and GARY…crossword-solving couple.” Can’t say that sundae sounds appealing, though. Marshmallow sauce? Ick. But I love ‘em toasted, once in a blue moon.

Why couldn’t we have had more imaginative cluing? Why squander interesting words like ARTISAN, SCEPTER and PARADISE by cluing them with plain synonyms? Heck, I could do that - I expect more from the pros. And OCTOPUS and BEES showed us the potential was there.

More questions: why is the END in the middle? What is Rattle+C? Finally, why, with all the straightforward, boring clues, must you clue TERM as a life sentence (or perhaps more off-putting, a Supreme Court justice’s tenure)?

I have a colleague from England who does pronounce the first “d” in Wednesday. It’s almost unnoticeable but it’s there, and I find it admirable.

Speckled as a clue for ROAN gets a no fromme. from Horses with roan coats have white hairs evenly intermingled throughout any other color. Google “speckled roan” and you get a song by the Kingston Trio.

"We have not yet met our Waterloo, Watson, but this is our Marengo." from Return of Sherlock Holmes, 1905.

Somehow, WATERLOO for me isn’t simply “decisive defeat.” Yes, it’s implied that defeat is inevitable, but surrender is out of the question. You have to give it your all, so you must remain open to the possibility of victory.

Most dictionaries make no note of any such subtlety, but I did find this at What's the meaning of the phrase 'Meet your Waterloo'? Arrive at a final decisive contest……The term Waterloo quickly became synonymous with anything difficult to master. It was referred to as such the year after the Battle of Waterloo by …. Lord Byron, in a letter to Thomas Moore:
"It [Armenian] is... a Waterloo of an Alphabet." Now that, my dear Hawkins, is how to clue Armenian.

Joe Dipinto 12:05 PM  

If there is an "actual Canadian couple" named Cal and Gary solving this, they'd probably noticed what their names add up to long before now, and they're probably tired of hearing jokes about it. But I'm sure they'll tell you that when they call you.

CDilly52 12:07 PM  

Thanks @ Barbara S. I so admire Du Bois’s work.

CDilly52 12:14 PM  

But for my Muumuu for CAFTAN hiccup, this would have beaten my best Monday time. Far less to enjoy for me than yesterday. Tuesday or Monday worthy. Thought the theme answers were fun and obvious, but wish there were any other reveal than POTTY MOUTH. I grew up in a house that enjoyed and used proper language. Baby talk was an absolute taboo. Hence my aversion to the word POTTY.

Nigel Pottle 12:18 PM  

I lived in CALGARY for 25 years. Calgarians actually say the name more like CALGREE - the Gary part is definitely not pronounced like the man’s name. Also Cal is a nickname for Calvin, unlike Gary, which is an actual name, so I quibble with the clue. Home of the world famous Calgary Stampede, and the Stampeders (Canadian football). And the hockey arena known as the Saddledome - lots of other ways to clue the city than a mixed clue as given. Otherwise somewhat boring puzzle. I don’t get the complaint about GoT - the show was something of a phenomenon although I never watched it.

Nigel Pottle 12:25 PM  

@johnk. Your comment would have been even funnier if you’d said you were tired of your name being used for toilet, and then, Excuse me, now I have to go to the rex”. Ducks and covers).

jberg 12:25 PM  

Big story in the day about old people with comorbidities showing up our state’s newest test site and being turned away because they don’t have appointments. I guess the NATICK Mall is frustrating for everyone.

As for the theme, I could see where we were headed, but wanted a better revealer. (However, unlike Rex, the toilet is exactly what I’m thinking about when I get up at 5 AM. Oh to be young again!)

Nancy 12:27 PM  

@Mals (10:39)and I are pals -- but today we're having opposite reactions to everything. She's grieving that her "wonderful hard-packed snow" is melting while I'm wondering just how quickly her Midwest thaw can get to me? Is it coming here at all? Warmer temps and safe, dry terra firma under my [at long last] boot-free feet -- 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. It cannot happen quickly enough. There are no words for how much I hate snow and the icy, treacherous crosswalks it leads to.

Mals also thanks @TTrimble for his OCTOPUS camouflage link. I had to quickly close my eyes and turn the damn thing off. It gave me the willies. Do any of you remember "Snow White" and the chilling close-up of the beautiful woman's hand clutching an apple slowly turning into a claw. Well that's what that link reminded me of. I hope it won't give me nightmares the way "Snow White" did. (Of course I probably saw the "Snow White" when I was about 7.)

newbie 12:42 PM  

@whats 10:54 am - I believe he's known for a Golden Throne at his Tower (how medieval that sounds) - not sure if he had the throne at the WH goldplated, but it wouldn't surprise me.

To all those named John - you've been defamed long enough - now it's Karen's turn.

@Lewis 11:12 am - great quote. Not sure all immaturity is good though - the young-at-heart kind is wonderful, however.

@Mr Cheese 11:45 am - yes, you are. Not judging.

M&A - I thought it was you but wasn't sure. Thanks for the loan of "har" yesterday - I'll try not to steal it from you again. But I must say, I now understand why you use it - it's fun!

Since sometimes my emojis translate into question marks - they are usually just smiley faces, laughing faces, or smiling sunshines. Can't figure out which ones come through unscathed so I'll probably just stop using them, although they appeal to my immaturity.

newbie 1:03 PM  

@Nancy 12:27 pm - I think we need to get a couple of Malamutes to appreciate/enjoy snow as much as Mals - oh, now I get that handle! Love those dogs. Inuit sled dogs are born on the ice! One of my favorite bits of trivia. Along with Inuits' having many nuanced words for snow. (I just found out that the number is in dispute - but isn't everything these days?)

Teedmn 1:07 PM  

Like @Barbara S, it was muumuus for me at 5A before CSI made CAFTAN leap to mind in its place. And that is my only write-over today, very fast and easy.

I've never noticed the men's names in CALGARY before.

Sure, the theme today is a tad juvenile but I liked the revealer and there were a lot of BONUSES in the fill. Nice job, Kate Hawkins.

old timer 1:18 PM  

My gripe about this puzzle is, it was too damned Easy for even a Monday. It was so easy it was like solving the puzzle in my local paper, where every day is a Monday. Though I was amused by CALGARY.

I just don't get OFL being so squeamish about going potty. Maybe his dad called is poo stinky once too often. In my family, including three children and four (so far) grandchildren, POTTY is the normal word for those learning to use the toilet. And yes, when kids learn to take pleasure in using excremental words, their parents or grandparents call them out for being a POTTYmouth.

Before toilets were invented, people had to squat over a smelly hole in the ground, a PRIVY, which means a private place. The invention of toilets, even before they became flushable, was a marvelous thing. Pepys, whose only word for excrement was s**t, used to go out of his way to patronize a merchant who had a nice toilet -- and reading that is one of the joys of reading Pepys's diaries. He also was pretty graphic about his "amours" with one of his female servants.

Anoa Bob 1:34 PM  

Sunday we got a KARAOKE bar theme and today KARAOKE shows up again, so maybe a little reminiscence is in order. I was living and working in Japan in the 80s when KARAOKE was in full swing. Practically every bar had a KARAOKE machine with hundreds of Japanese songs and a few American ones. Whenever I would visit one of these watering holes, the locals would urge me to sing the American ones.

Normally I have what a choir director once described as a wonderful monotone voice but after the locals plied me with a couple of shots of Suntory whisky chased by some Sapporo beer to get me loosened up and in the mood, I would suddenly become a singer extraordinaire and do a crowd-pleasing version of Sinatra's "My Way" or Presley's "Love Me Tender" (those were the most common U.S. songs on their play lists). You should have been there!

I tried going to a couple of KARAOKE bars when they became popular in the States, but it just wasn't the same.

@Roo, in Japan KARAOKE is pronounced kah rah oh kay, with mostly equal stress on each syllable and just a little bit of a trill on the "r" of "rah".

I was half expecting CRAPPER to show up amongst the POTTY TALK entries, after the eponymous Englishman Thomas CRAPPER who invented the water closet with the floating ballcock. I wonder if we will ever see BALLCOCK in a NYT puzzle.

Lundy 1:36 PM  

An appropriate theme, since it's where I do the crossword these days. I used to do them at breakfast, but that time has been usurped by my new favorite, the two Two Not Touch puzzles in the print edition that Will added to help us through the pandemic.
I was afraid he'd drop them once we returned to normalcy. So fearful that I managed to get in touch with him and he assured me he'd retain them. However, I haven't found many people that share my enthusiasm. Is anyone else in this band of brothers and sisters also enamoured?

Masked and Anonymous 1:38 PM  

@newbie 12:42pm - Others in the Comment Gallery like to unleash an occasion har, too. Hard to resist a nice, solid har or ahar moment, at the semi-appropriate time. Use em most freely … M&A claims no copyright on em. Shoot, Otto Correct doesn't even know what the erm they are. [Mosta my stuff is sorta copywronged, actually.]

Peace on earth, good will to sundae-soilin kitties.

M&A Help Desk

JD 1:43 PM  

Can someone explain where the "Mouth" part come in? It must be here but if not, this is just a lot of crap.

oceanjeremy 1:52 PM  

I solved this so quickly I didn't even notice the theme. I second @TTrimble's musing that Shortz may have mixed up the Monday and Tuesday's puzzles this week.

My time was just over 5 minutes — which is about as fast as I can fill in the answers (even if I know them all) on my oft-mentioned first-gen iPhone SE.

And I mean that literally: sometimes I solve on paper and then fill it in on the app so I don't lose my solving streak. And I usually clock in around 4 to 5 minutes then.

So yeah, I raced through this puzzle. Found it enjoyable simply because of its lack of resistance. I have never watched (nor read!) Game of Thrones, but IRON THRONE is inferable enough with a few crosses. I do know Westeros is the world of Game of Thrones, and all the promotional materials feature an image of a big metal throne, so...

Otherwise not much else to say about it. I think it's a Fine Monday Puzzle (even though it ran on Tuesday) and I can't get invested enough in it to be as angry as Rex.

Mr. Alarm 1:57 PM  

I too kept hoping the theme wasn’t going to be what it turned out to be. There goes my breakfast!

sanfranman59 2:06 PM  

Very Easy NYT Tuesday ... 26% below my Tuesday 6-month median solve time ... 10th fastest solve time of 606 NYT Tuesdays ... This puzzle belongs in the toilet! Just kidding around. I really enjoyed it.

Ms. Hawkins has a double-header today. She also constructed today's USA Today puzzle. Like that one, I pretty much tore through this one with barely a pause. That's unusual for me with Kate's work. I averaged almost 8% above my 6-month median solve time on 17 of her puzzles before today's pair.

At first, I couldn't remember the adjective for the GOT themer (IRON THRONE {18A: *Seat for the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros}), but that was just a minor speed bump near the end of the solve. I think CLATTER {41D: Apt anagram of RATTLE + C}, SER {67A:: To be, in Spanish} and UHS {21D: Speech fillers} were the only clue/answer combos that made me go "HMM". Any puzzle with both DEADHEAD {24A: *Devotee of Jerry Garcia's band} and ELTON JOHN {36A: *"Can You Feel the Love Tonight" singer/composer} (my teenage idol ... such a beautiful song) earns lots of points with me.

Puzzle: Two thumbs up.

Rex's review: Two thumbs down. Come on, Michael! Who doesn't enjoy toilet humor? Lighten up! Try to enjoy your pastime, man!

EricO 3:05 PM  

Ugly and boring. I completely agree with Rex’s summation. We all know these words. They’re occasionally necessary, depending on the company one is in.
But they’re a waste of puzzle space. Think of the grace and cleverness of our best creators. You struggle to solve, but if successful, feel you have been a part of a sublime experience.
The fact that it’s technically ok isn’t an excuse for it being dreck.
I like Rex’s blog because he pushes creators to be better. He sets a high standard. Of course his own biases come through, at times awkwardly. And there are times he is overly acerbic when a milder critique would suffice.

Not today though. Spot on.

jae 3:45 PM  

@Bocamp - I finished Croce's Freestyle #586 over the weekend. Its tougher than the last two and I missed it by one square, although if I'd paid closer attention I probably would have gotten it. Good Luck!

bocamp 3:59 PM  

@jae 3:45 PM

Thx, I'll get on it "asap".

pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

A 4:34 PM  

Anyone else have old enough grandparents to have heard the term “gentleman’s necessary?” Pretty sure you have to say with a southern accent.

POTTY MOUTH doesn’t bother me - one of the best moms I know sometimes shares memes like this from a page called ‘Mommy Has a Potty Mouth’ - “Just found out there’s no popcorn in the popcorn shrimp. Guess there’s no reason to order the POT roast.”

Rex’s wish being my command, I went in search of the Cal and Gary couple and it turns out there are several. Crusty, like rush hour on Deerfoot

@Z, your definition of FIANCEE made me laugh because it’s so true! Though I haven’t encountered it recently - moms and dads need to up their harping game. Glad you brought up “praying to the porcelain god,” too - it adds the sense of begging for deliverance.

@Barbara S, thanks for another great excerpt - this one gave me chills.

@TTrimble, that Smithsonian clip certainly took a morbid turn at “suck out the soft bits.” Glad I wasn’t having breakfast.

@Carola, thanks for pointing out the associations of I’M ON IT and SCEPTER. Guess I should stop relying on the constructor and make my own fun!

@mathgent, I was thinking the same thing about Lewis!

@Lewis, thanks for all you do x two!

That reminds me of an embarrassing moment, possibly the premier example of “failure to communicate.” When I was in my early 20’s my landlord was painting the outside of my house a color I had chosen (a subtle grayish-taupe). His wife, a young mother, stopped by and commented, “It looks like doo doo.” (Yep, she said that - drawn out pronunciation and all.) I was stunned, amazed by the absurdity of it. My brain teetered for a long second between “she means it looks like s*^#” and “she means it’s brown.” Neither made any sense. Was she being a rude prude, or did she really have the vocabulary of a toddler? Should I be concerned for her children’s digestive health? I felt like I had to say something so I joked lamely, “Oh, it’s not that dark.” (Yep, I said that. I warned you it was embarrassing.) Now she was confused - I might as well have been speaking Octopudlian. She drove off without another word, leaving the question unresolved. I still go back and forth about it. At least I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut when my brain teeters.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

An adult POTTY story. In the beginning the "Tonight' show was Steve Allen, who was followed by Jack Paar. Allen was a comic genius, while Paar was an effete Eastern intellectual. Of all the late-night romper room hosts, likely the eggheadiest of the bunch, possibly excluding Cavett (if he did a late-night show?).

Paar would do some of the show sitting on a tall stool on a bare stage, mostly monologues. So, one night the NBC blue noses got uppity about a bit around water-closets (he used that term; a euphemism for toilet) and cut it from the tape. He didn't do the next show, or for another three weeks. His first words when he returned "As I was saying before I was interrupted..."

the wiki has all the details:

I hope I got this story out first!

Edward Albee 5:18 PM  

George (seeing Honey looking ill):

Martha, will you show her where we keep the, uh, euphemism?

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

I think Eminem has a misogynistic history. He should be cancelled. C’mon I thought you guys were concerned crossword people.

jberg 5:52 PM  

I didn't see that show, but I'd always heard that Jack Paar actually walked out in the middle of it, after they'd censored him.

Malsdemare 6:22 PM  

@JC66. Thanks! I shall try it.

@Nancy. Stand on the back of the runners,glide along with nothing but the swish of sled on snow, and you might change your mind. The again, when the team takes off after a deer, maybe not:)

egsforbreakfast 6:23 PM  

Who ever heard of a Canadian couple named Otto and Wa?

In around 1959, my older brother took his favorite book in for 2nd grade show & tell. It was a wonderfully written and illustrated book for the post-toddler set, and was called “I Want to Paint my Barhroom Blue.” Well, next thing you know, his teacher, Mrs. Taliafero, calls my mother in for a chat about letting your kids read obscenity. As I gathered from hearing things then and over the years, my mom did the full Harper Valley PTA on Mrs. T and stormed out. From then on, we I sensed that we were viewed with suspicion for the duration of grade school. This memory was dredged up by the POTTY MOUTH theme.

I liked the puzzle, for reasons well-expressed by @Lewis

Peter P 6:31 PM  

@RooMonster 9:18 "Toughest part was SER for "To be, in Spanish". Huh? Am I just not up on Spanish To Be? (Probably) I thought it was something else. Esta?"

You may have been thinking of "estar." ("Esta" would be the third person singular conjugation of "estar.") Both estar and SER translate as "to be," but are used in different ways. Estar and its conjugations generally refer to temporary states; SER and its conjugations to permanent states. This is a big simplification, but that's generally how it's introduced. Point being, there are two "to be"s in Spanish.

albatross shell 6:45 PM  

My format of Lewis's David Barry quote is: Your only young once but you can be immature forever. My advice to CDilly or to others in the reverse situation is just cause you was raised that way doesn't mean you have to be that way. You're an adult. You get to choose. I'm the biggest pottymouth in my family unit (not saying much) but was rarely so as kid. Great word for a crossword but not one I would use except with satiric intent.

Enjoyed this one because of the names and words some good clues.
DEADHEAD, GAGA, ELTONJOHN, POTTYMOUTH EMINEM. You could divide those 4 up in a tandem wrestling match on a hot TINROOF, no sundae needed. IRONTHRONE with a SCEPTER leaning against it. A CAFTANned EMIR meeting his WATERLOO, a STEAMY FIANCEE in CALGARY. A KARAOKE OCTOPUS giving us all a SILENT NARRATION of it all complete with color changes and impersonations. And yet some of you go home grouchy.

By the way the format of [WORD] PLUS [LETTER] = [ANAGRAM OF NEW WORD] is a common form of anagram play from grade school to adult puzzles. Really shouldn't be that confusing. Most people have probably seen them in school or newspapers or children's placemats.

The more common way of (mis)pronouncing the d is to reverse the d and n and skip the second e completely for a smooth two syllable delivery. Wendz day. D barely audible. M-W does give an alternative British pronouciation that is we dn*z de where the asterisk is a small upside down e about the position the asterisk itself is. That is the schwa. But it tends to be a 2 and a half to 3 and a half syllable word. The problem being that half syllables are a bit of a pain.

newbie 6:48 PM  

@M&A -Thanks. You’re very generous. I’ll try to be worthy. ; )

@Z - I, too, enjoyed your definition of fiancée. I would only add that usually now there is a “baby bump” photo involved. That seems to be what precipitates the engagement. Btw, engagements now can last forever - or at least longer than many marriages - so maybe these couples are onto something.

stephanie 6:54 PM  

too easy. on the level of the mini for me where i tried not to even look at the intersecting clues so i could prolong the enjoyment and get more time out of it. but then just when i thought i had breezed through, i realized something was wrong...and it took me longer to find my one mistake which was accidentally choosing "CBS" instead of "PBS." (i did wonder what the heck "chonics" was in terms of language lessons, lol. hey, the CH's got me! ah well.)

i thought the theme was fun. we still say going to "hit the head" here in boston (or at least, many of my male friends do) so that slang is hardly foreign to me and i don't consider any of the others antiquated either. not sure how the harry potter clue was "totally gratuitous HP promotion" any more than any other music/movie/book/etc clue is promotion of their respective works? (and JK rowling is hardly the only problematic figure to show up in a crossword as we all know!)

one thing i hated though was the anagram clue. if you have to add a letter it's not an anagram, apt or otherwise. yuck on that, fun on the rest! (honeybunch! cute.)

A 7:08 PM  

That is quite a story, 4:34 Anonymous.

Here's the Paar joke that they cut: An English lady is visiting Switzerland. She asks about the location of the "W.C." The Swiss, thinking she is referring to the "Wayside Chapel", leaves her a note that said "the W.C. is situated nine miles from the room that you will occupy... It is capable of holding about 229 people and it is only open on Sunday and Thursday... It may interest you to know that my daughter was married in the W.C. and it was there that she met her husband... I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you, if you wish, where you will be seen by everyone."

JC66 7:31 PM  


Well then, Mazel Tov on going blue!

A 7:39 PM  

This just keeps getting better….Something made me search beyond wiki - here is, I believe, the full “reply” from the schoolmaster in Switzerland to the English lady asking about the W.C. (water closet to her, Wayside Chapel to him). My sides hurt from laughing.

Dear Madam:
I take great pleasure in informing you that the W.C. is situated nine miles from the house you occupy, in the center of a beautiful grove of pine trees surrounded by lovely grounds. It is capable of holding 229 people and it is open on Sunday and Thursday only. As there are a great number of people and they are expected during the summer months, I would suggest that you come early: although there is plenty of standing room as a rule. You will no doubt be glad to hear that a good number of people bring their lunch and make a day of it; while others who can afford to go by car arrive just in time. I would especially recommend that your ladyship go on Thursday when there is a musical accompaniment. It may interest you to know that my daughter was married in the W.C. and it was there that she met her husband. I can remember the rush there was for seats. There were ten people to a seat ordinarily occupied by one. It was wonderful to see the expression on their faces. The newest attraction is a bell donated by a wealthy resident of the district. It rings every time a person enters. A bazaar is to be held to provide plush seats for all the people, since they feel it is a long felt need. My wife is rather delicate, so she can’t attend regularly. I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you if you wish, where you will be seen by all. For the children, there is a special time and place so that they will not disturb the elders. Hoping to have been of service to you, I remain,
The Schoolmaster

stephanie 7:50 PM  

thanks @JC!

& @A - ha! thanks for that one.

Nancy 8:08 PM  

@A (7:08) -- So, close to a half century after the fact, I finally find out what Jack Paar's WC joke that he wasn't allowed to tell was. And it's wonderful!!! Very, very funny and, once you accept that it's about a WC, almost squeaky clean. They certainly should have let him tell it. How did you manage to find that out, @A? And in such exquisite detail?

Memory's a funny thing. I have this recollection of Paar storming off the set as if I saw it as it was unfolding -- but I doubt I really did. I probably saw one of the endless replays of the event: it was a huge media kerfuffle at the time. (Well, remember, there was no Donald Trump to suck out all the oxygen in the room.) I was heartbroken that Paar had walked out: he was far and away my favorite late night host. And so he remained well into Johnny Carson's reign. Carson always seemed like white bread to me. Paar was edgy...unpredictable...brilliant...complicated...and endlessly fascinating. I stopped watching the Tonight Show when it went from Paar to Carson. And, btw, I liked Cavett, too. I guess I have something of a taste for neurotic TV hosts.

Is a clip of that joke on YouTube by any chance, @A?

newbie 8:27 PM  

Merriam-Webster announced the inclusion of some new words (which they say they’re doing now every few months because of the internet).

I was most interested in that pesky “@“ - used in a new way: “Don’t @ me, bro.” According to the M-W guy, it means “don’t accuse me; don’t follow-up with commentary.” If I understood correctly, it’s used in the sense of not keeping at me or coming at me - therefore, leave me alone.

Another is folx instead of folks. Pronounced the same as folks. Meaning folks - but the added x is supposed to denote all the marginalized groups that are usually indicated by the use of a stream of letters. That one could be handy, since I find it increasingly hard to keep up with the newest streams of preferred letters. Interesting that they kept the silent l instead of going with, say, foxe. (Or even fox pronounced folks because, well, why not, if you’re making up words anyway?)

So, don’t @ me, folx.

A 10:06 PM  

@Nancy, after reading the wikipedia article that Anon 4:34 posted, I googled and found this:
Paar interview
I can't find a video of the actual joke, but here is the audio of Jack Paar in his emotional departure: Paar deparure
I was too young too have seen Jack Paar, but if was anything like Dick Cavett I'm sure I'd have been a fan.

Anonymous 10:48 PM  

The wiki write-up differs from this: which is what I'd heard around that time, exited the taping of the next show. I'm not old enough to have been allowed to stay up to watch the show, but The Parents loved the show, so that's how I first heard about it.

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