Astronomical event / TUES 11-29-21 / First name in denim / Home of many of the world's alpacas / Wilde or Wilder

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Hi, everyone, it’s Clare for the last Tuesday of November! The big news in my life is that I got to see BTS in concert this weekend, and they were absolutely phenomenal! Oh, yeah, and I passed the bar. I guess that was cool, too! 

Now, on to the puzzle!

Billy Ouska

Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Punny phrases that relate to how you play the named games

Theme answers:
  • CAPTURE THE FLAG (20A: Sign outside a Stratego tournament?) 
  • SIT FOR A SPELL (25A: Sign outside a Scrabble tournament?) 
  • DON’T SAY A WORD (48A: Sign outside a Taboo tournament?) 
  • CONNECT THE DOTS (56A: Sign outside a dominoes tournament?)
Word of the Day: OLGA (5A: Actress Kurylenko) —
Olga Konstantinovna Kurylenko is a Ukrainian-French actress and model. She was discovered as a model at the age of 13. She moved to Paris to pursue a modelling career at the age of 16 and started her acting career in 2005. She found success as an actress for her role as Nika Boronina in the film adaptation of the video game Hitman (2007), and then mainstream prominence with the role of Bond girl Camille Montes in the 22nd James Bond film, Quantum of Solace (2008). (Wiki)
• • •
So this puzzle was… fine? I didn’t enjoy it a ton, which I could attribute to solving the puzzle while my sister drove us back from LA from seeing BTS, and we were stuck in traffic, so the mood wasn’t all that great. But, in general, the theme fell a bit flat for me. The plays on words just weren’t that clever, and three of the four answers were literal descriptions of the goal of the game (i.e., in Stratego your goal is to CAPTURE THE FLAG). Only SIT FOR A SPELL, the description for Scrabble, was figurative. 

Nothing seems that bad when I look back on the puzzle, though it did feel like sort of a slog to get through, mostly because I didn’t quite get the theme. The solve also started off ominously when I put in LSAT instead of MCAT for 1A: Exam for some coll. seniors. Little did I know that LSAT would instead be in the puzzle at 30D with the same clue. I don’t usually mind — and sometimes like — when clues repeat, but going astray at 1A threw me bit. 

YACHTS (49D: Sails in style, in a way) as a verb seems egregious to me. I’d be willing to die on this proverbial hill, even if the dumb dictionary tells me that the word actually can be used as a verb. I also didn’t enjoy having YES (38A) be smack dab in the middle of the puzzle. It feels bland, and the clue — “You rang?” — is one of the types I dislike, where the answer could be a whole multitude of things. Another example could be 66A: “Same with me” as AS AM I. And, lastly, the answer for 55D: These, in Madrid annoyed me because, realistically, it could be either “estos” or ESTAS

A fair amount of the puzzle is crosswordese, but looking back there weren’t many three-letter answers in there (I count five, and they’re fairly spread out). I do like that. There are also some particularly nice bits in there, like some of the long downs you don’t usually see in crosswords, such as: TITANIUM, TSUNAMI, MOSH PIT and TAILSPIN

  • For 1A, when I put in LSAT instead of MCAT and then realized my error, I laughed because I thought that I just had law on the brain and was trying to force it into the puzzle. Then LSAT appeared at 30D
  • Some of my favorite clues/answers were 27D: The end of the Greek world? as OMEGA and, similarly, 3D: The beginning of the Hebrew world? as ALEPH, along with 43D: Notoriously fast starter as HARE. They confused me at first, but when I got them I chuckled. I also liked the misdirection with 45D: Where you might bump into a metal fan as MOSH PIT
  • Solving the puzzle, I remembered that the point of dominoes really is to lay the dominoes out and connect the dots. As a kid, I thought the whole point was to just line them up vertically and in a long, long line and see if you can get them to all tip over. 
  • Not sure how to connect this in except for maybe saying the seven BTS members really SHINE[d] (35A) at their concert, and my sister and I had the absolute best time! Here’s a low-quality pic I took up close the first night of the concert and another picture from Twitter to show you that the group really does shine!
And that’s about it! Hope everyone has a happy December and happy holidays! 

Signed, Clare Carroll, actually sort of a lawyer now

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Andrea 3:19 AM  

Congratulations on passing the bar, Clare!
Up to change the world for the best, now, I suppose? πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸ½

Conrad 5:18 AM  

Congratulations, Clare, on your two HUGE accomplishments! I'm hopeful you won't be "sort of" for long.

I read the 1A clue and realized it could be GMAT, LSAT or MCAT. So I filled in the last two squares until the answer became apparent. I usually have the ESTAS/ESToS problem, but this time I somehow got the last letters before I saw the clue, so no problemo hoy.

Anonymous 5:46 AM  

Thank you, Clare, for your write-up. Pretty much what I thought. I will add that Cadillac rims/CEES was atrocious. But that was the only stinker.

bocamp 6:00 AM  

Thx Billy; loved your Tues. creation! :)

Hi Clare; thx for your write-up, and congrats on passing the bar. Huge achievement! :)


Little bit of a struggle in the NW, but got it; moved clockwise, ending up at DON'T SAY A WORD.

I SIT FOR way more than A SPELL. lol

Love to STRUM a few tunes every day.

Another very enjoyable puz! :)

yd 0*

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

John 6:25 AM  


amyyanni 6:55 AM  

Congrats, Clare, my new sister at the bar. Now you can really celebrate (vs. Law School graduation, when the exam is yet another obstacle). And you did, glad you got to experience BTS in concert.
Liked the puzzle more than you did. Have no clue what the game Taboo consists of, so I have some Googling to do.
Mayor's election in the ATL today.

Anonymous 6:56 AM  

Too bad GAME (44A) couldn't have ben clued in terms of the theme....

Lewis 6:58 AM  

@clare -- 7 threes.

Clever idea for a theme – punny signs outside of tournaments. I don’t remember ever seeing a “signs outside of…” theme before, and if indeed this is the first, much credit to Billy for coming up with it.

It was fun for me, trying to come up with theme answers with as few letters filled in as possible, and a kick when I was successful. I love when a theme involves me in the solve.

The last three theme answers were terrific because they had double meanings, reparsing a common phrase. CAPTURE THE FLAG seems like a direct statement of the game’s object – I didn’t get the pun if one was there, but it could be that something just went over my head.

I noticed a mini-theme of animals, with EAGLE, HARE, TORO, plus SEL-FISH and a backward POOH.

A lovely fun solve for me – thank you greatly, Billy!

kitshef 7:15 AM  

Seems like a fun theme, and the fill mostly holds up well, but I found this strangely unlikable. So … it must have been the cluing.

Only the clue for RIMS stands out as utterly god-awful, but OLGA and ELLA are PPP stretches, TORSO is just dumb, and ALEPH and OMEGA just don’t make sense.

I was hoping Rex would put up the video for TITANIUM. No Rex, though, so here it is. The vocalist is recent puzzle favorite Sia.

Tom T 7:21 AM  

Clare, congratulations on seeing BTS!!!! (Oh, and on passing the bar.) Seriously, though, well done!

Me, I am excited about my clue for a Hidden Diagonal Word (HDW) to be found in today's grid -- here's the clue:

Bit of the Greek alphabet? (4 letters, answer below)

From my "slightly off-kilter" diagonal perspective, I believe this is the first puzzle I've seen with a diagonal string running straight through the entire grid from one corner to the opposite corner. At least it's the first time I've noticed that in a construction. In this case it moves from the NW corner block all the way through to the SE. Oddly, not many diagonal words in that long string (ELM, LET, TNT, TEL -which is a stretch).

Hard to get a start for me on this puzzle, so the solve came in a herky-jerky fashion. Clare's "medium" rating seems about right for me.

Answer to the HDW clue:

IOTA (begins with the I in TORI, 64A, and moves to the NW)

Kid Phoneme 7:22 AM  

New clue for the usual gimme, Ella. Almost for Otis too, but it's Tuesday so they gave it away with the "Redding"

I haven't played Stratego in close to forty years. I couldn't remember the goal and felt uneasy when I filled in Capture the Flag, which is of course its own game.

Learned about Enols and Tori today. The middle south stymied me. I filled in spot instead of slot and it felt like I could be wrong because it was a Spanish word without Spanish in the cluing.

mmorgan 7:55 AM  

Don’t know anything about Stratego and never heard of Taboo, so the themers felt pretty flat for me. The rest of the puzzle had some fine ups and not to many down(ers), so the overall experience was fine.

Congrats on passing the bar! And you made me look up BTS. Hmm, it says they formed in 2010, but they only look about 10 or 12 years old. Maybe I’m looking at older photos.

Z 8:04 AM  

Had that old czUNAMI v TSUNAMI debate again.

TORI Amos looks nothing like a doughnut 🍩.

Is there an award for Most Arcane ELLA Clue? Today’s clue is definitely a nominee. FYI, Lorde looks nothing like a doughnut 🍩.

Why did we hear nothing about the variants between delta and omicron? And what do we do when we get to the OMEGA variant? The key thing is don’t panic, get boosted.

As for the puzzle:
Best Tuesday Ever.

The Joker 8:17 AM  

Find the semordnilap that answers this:

When asked "What do you do for a non-living?, the zombie replied, "____" (4 letters).

(Yes, I did hurt my arm reaching for this)

N. Peterson 8:20 AM  

At my age, if someone had given me tickets to see BTS, I would never have passed the bar.

I would have gone right in and stayed there until the concert was over.

bocamp 8:23 AM  

"BTS Permission to Dance On Stage – LA" (highlights)

(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay ~ OTIS Redding

Just AS I AM ~ Antrim Mennonite Choir

td g-6 (timed out)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

It's Billy Ouska, not Osuka.

TKL 8:28 AM  

Congratulations Clare, both on passing the Bar and seeing BTS! You had an enviable week!

kitshef 8:28 AM  

@Zy - you are in excellent form today.

Son Volt 8:31 AM  

Cute theme - well filled. Didn’t know Taboo but the early week crosses were fair. Spent plenty of time in MOSH PITSs so that was a welcome entry - as was TITANIUM. Hand up for squinting at YACHTS.

My dizzying decline - Tailspin

Enjoyable Tuesday solve.

SouthsideJohnny 8:40 AM  

ERTE, TORI, ENOL are a little on the esoteric side, but at least they were clued fairly. Similarly, a foreign contingent is basically a requirement in a NYT puzzle, and this one did not disappoint - at least ALEPH, OMEGA, ATHENA and LIRAS are about as straightforward as one could hope for (ESTAS less so - apparently some who are even fluent in the language found it ambiguous); and of course we have the wonderful UTAHN - one of those quasi-words that exist only in the deepest recesses of the fantasyland that is ShortzWorld.

Good week so far for newer solvers - a good sprinkling of many of the usual suspects in the lineup so far. We’ll see if we get one of those convoluted themes that is a marvelous feat of construction but no fun to solve tomorrow.

Unknown 8:40 AM  

Dear Clare,
Passing the California bar is a very nice achievement.
But I agree with @ Lewis; there are 7 3-letter words in the puz, not 5, so please . . . when you eventually start lawyering, you must pay attention to the details!

With the exception of ASAMI, which just sounds a little awkward to me, the puz was nicely constructed and had very little "fill." I think it's a perfect puz for new solvers as it skewed on the easy side for me, and had a fun theme that was pretty easy to suss out.

As a lawyer, I too had LSAT for 1A which wasn't terrible as it gives you 3D and 4D, and once I realized my error, MECCA fell pretty quickly.
I was supposed to have my first jury trial yesterday (in two years!) but apparently someone in the jury pool might have been exposed to Covid, so the pool got released and the trial is now pushed out to January. Sadly, until we institute vaccine mandates across the country (not just in those cities where they get it), this is what our world will look like for a very long time.

jberg 8:51 AM  

Like @mmorgan, I knew nothing of two of the games, so I had to just wait for crosses. It was still pretty easy.

I guess everyone knows the Spanish for bull, but it still seems like the clue for TORO should have had some language indicator, as ESTAS did.

Clare, a) congratulations!, b) "the first night of the concert" -- how long did that thing last?

L Euler 8:53 AM  

@Z - As with all things, it depends upon your vantage point. Topologically, we're all TORI.

jberg 8:54 AM  

I almost forgot -- I'm not familiar with this constructor, but he's listed here as Billy Osuka, and in my paper as Billy Ouska. Which one is the typo?

@Z all those variants exist (except for Nu and Xi, which they chose not to use because the first sounds like 'new variant' and Xi is many people's surname). The others were not "of concern," or whatever the phrase is, so we didn't hear about them.

burtonkd 9:03 AM  

Two of the themers (CAPTURE THE FLAG, CONNECT THE DOTS) are wonderful in that they use the name of a game as the sign for the other game.

I went through the crosses first and left a lot of white space. The downs pretty much filled themselves in. I didn't even see ELLA or CEES until now. Satisfying Tuesday.

Heard in a xword puzzle construction tournament: "I put in vague clues that could be 3 or 4 different answers. ASDOI, METOO, SODOI, IALSO"

Seeing UTAHN in print makes me happy for some reason.

24a was the long way around to get to _____ Redding. Jamming all the inclusivity into one clue?

Tom P 9:21 AM  

I'm with you, Claire. This one played like a typical Tuesday for me and was average in every way. I ended up with one blank square where "carbon compound" crosses "happenin', modernly," which was a temporary Natick for me. But I went through the alphabet until I hit the "L," which is the only letter that makes sense there, and thankfully, I was done.

RooMonster 9:37 AM  

Hey All !
SIT FOR A SPELL the best of the bunch. Nice crossing longer Downs. Sorta-kinda separated North and South sections, held together by a Stair-step of threes, FRY-YES-SAW. (All real words, which is nice.)

Liked this puz. I'm of the "do all the Acrosses and all the Downs" first type of solver (which Rex assures me is wrong), and after today's first pass, didn't have a whole lot. Kept thinking, "it is Tuesday, right? Why is the puz so tough?" But ended up at pretty much normal TuesPuz time.

@Tom T
Unsure how long you've been puz solving, but occasionally you have the 1A to the opposite corner unbroken diagonal. I believe there's probably a puz or two that used them as answers (maybe not NYT, but out in PuzWorld somewhere.) I've made a puz something like that, but never sent it in anywhere.
I found a HDW for you. 4 letters, clue: Informal address in the Army. You can find it. I'll give you either the answer later, or Congratulations!

Gonna take my DADBOD and jump on my YACHTS. (Har, first part true...)

yd pg -14 (Ouch!)(Brain on vacation)

Two F's

Z 9:44 AM  

If one follows dictionaries on Twitter one happens upon articles like this and words like metonymization. Between that and hearing the people at Merriam-Webster go on and on about etymological fallacy, it’s been a great Fancy Dancy Word Week.

Jules 9:57 AM  

Congratulations Clare on both achievements!

My girlfriend is extremely jealous of you for watching BTS!

Nancy 9:59 AM  

The pop culture in this puzzle, along with the Internet stuff, made this a relatively hard Tuesday for me, and hard is good, so there's that. But I was already feeling put upon by actress Kuryienko and singer Lorde -- so that when I came to two games I'd never played, Stratego and Taboo, I was not a happy camper. Also, does a Facebook "Messenger" activity sound like a CHAT. Doesn't it sound like a SEND or a TAKE? Messengers don't CHAT. But I digress.

"Can't talk to you now, I'm IN WITH friends." Doesn't sound like I'm "among friends", to me. I'd use IN WITH more in this way: "He's very famous, but I'm IN WITH him now because I interviewed him for a NYT article."

I do like the use of TSUNAMI for "overwhelming amount". I've never used it that way, but I may in the future. It's colorful and expressive.

Because I never felt I was on the same wavelength as this constructor, I probably therefore enjoyed this less than many of you. But it did hold my attention -- which many Tuesdays don't.

Liveprof 10:07 AM  

Re: 53D (TORSO)

Lydia, oh! Lydia, say have you met Lydia
Oh! Lydia, the tattooed lady
She has eyes that folks adore so
And a torso even more so

(I miss Groucho.)

mathgent 10:11 AM  

The theme doesn't click for me. The themers don't have a tight connection to the games.

Some cute clues (e.g. for MOSHPIT), very few threes, learned that titanium was named after The Titans, it had my wife's name in it (OLGA). That's enough for me.

ALEPH is well known to mathematicians. That symbol is used to represent the hierarchy of infinities. Aleph sub zero is the "number" of counting numbers. Aleph sub one is the "number" of real numbers (larger). Aleph sub two is larger still.

Yesterday in his post, @Tim Carey identified himself as an inexperienced solver. I'd like to hear from other inexperienced solvers here. What do you think about the Monday puzzles?

Nancy 10:28 AM  

It seems the audience for BTS filled an entire stadium, Clare, and I don't even know who they are. Glad you got to see them. But much more interesting to me is the fact you passed the bar. Congratulations!

JessP 10:31 AM  

Retired attorney here. Totally agree with you re mandates and paying attention to details.

Congratulations to Clare, and best of luck!

Whatsername 10:33 AM  

Not real sparkly but a solid Tuesday and it’ll do. I liked STATUE crossing TORSO and really excellent clue for MOSH PIT. But I would probably SPELL the beehive person WITH an extra A IN it. Utahan seems more proper. UTAHN looks like you weren’t quite sure so you just stuck the N on there and hoped no one would notice.

@Clare: Congrats on officially becoming C. Carroll, Esquire. I must add I’m extremely proud of my nephew who recently passed his bar exam in FL and has joined you among the ranks of certified practitioners. Best of luck to you for a successful and rewarding career. And hopefully you won’t become too busy to occasionally come back and pay us a visit.

Northwest Runner 10:36 AM  

If we’re speaking topologically, a doughnut is a coffee cup.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

MFG - The store below mine has started with the Xmas Carols!

So, did TABOO steal from PASSWORD, or vice versa? Do we really need a remake of West Side Story? Has anyone had an original thought in the past 20 years?

tea73 10:42 AM  

Congrats Clare! and glad you got to see BTS as well.

I liked the idea of the them and yet was somehow underwhelmed. I liked SIT FOR A SPELL best, but now that it's been pointed out two other themers were actually other games, I wish that had been the theme.

I got a smile out of MOSH PIT as I spent my high school years carting my younger son to see metal bands. He was not into the bumping, but did usually end up near the front, but on the edge of all the movement. We ended up learning to like a lot of the bands, especially Apocalyptica which plays metal on cellos.

Loved ALEPH and OMEGA as clued.

I've been known to go YACHTing. Yes it's a verb.

Z 10:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 10:45 AM  

Mediumish. No real problems with this one but I got a tad bogged down in the SW. Smooth and cute with some fun long downs, liked it.

@Clare - congrats on the bar!

Z 10:46 AM  

Free tribute puzzle that might be of interest to some people here. Check out 3D if you’re wondering if the puzzle is of interest to you. @Nancy - most definitely for you.

puzzlehoarder 11:02 AM  

I finished this puzzle in exactly what I consider to be my average time for a Tuesday. Doing it on my phone makes the time seem longer. The middle west was where I finished and I had to read every clue.

yd -0 dbyd -0

Joseph Michael 11:04 AM  

Enjoyed SIT FOR A SPELL as a punny intro to Scrabble, but not a big fan of board games, so the rest of the themers left me not wanting to pass Go. Solved it as a themeless which seemed tough for a Tuesday, especially since I’m not up on ancient Greek groups or Finnish corporations.

Had the hardest time figuring out responses to “Among, as friends” and “Overwhelming amount.” TSUNAMI was a nice payoff for the latter, but still I’m scratching my head about IN WITH.

Got slightly hung up on Oscar Wilde’s mate in the clue for 8D since the only Wilders that came to mind at first were Gene (the actor) and Billy (the screenwriter). Sorry, Thornton, I should have known better.

Liked DADBOD beside TORSO and the elegant description of someone from the Beehive State as UTAHN.

In the Dook Department, ASAMI sounds like something you might order in a Japanese restaurant.

Carola 11:19 AM  

Medium for me: I'm not much of a GAME player, so the theme answers didn't come easily, but after the fact I could at least appreciate the play on words for three of them (Stratego remains a mystery). I liked learning about TITANIUM, and the clue for the HARE brought a smile.

Help from previous puzzles: LIT as clued. Do-over: yArd. No idea: ELLA, BTS from the write-up.

@Clare, congratulations!

old timer 11:33 AM  

Clare, congrats! You don't say what your next job is. Clerking for a judge? Tyroing for a law firm? Hanging out the proverbial shingle? In my case, I was in Tacoma, Washington, working for a War on Poverty office to avoid the draft, and totally unable to use my California license. When I did get to San Francisco, I decided to hang out the shingle and become the next Perry Mason. My first case was totally volunteer, defending a minor felon whose case had been way overcharged. So my first case was my first jury trial, and I was pleased as punch to get a hung jury. It meant my client could plead to a misdemeanor and not go to prison.

Never got to be a Perry Mason, nor as amazing a lawyer as my hero Tony Serra, but I was pretty darn good, and the DAs learned quickly not to mess with me.

I loved the puzzle, because I liked Scrabble, and loved Capture the Flag when I went to summer camp, and learned to play dominoes with some old men who took me under their wing when I studied for a semester in England. I still think Capture the Flag is the best camp game ever, and oddly enough, excellent preparation for trying cases as a lawyer. Strategy and some deception are elements of the game.

egsforbreakfast 11:36 AM  

Congratulations, Clare, on getting to see The Bar and passing BTS.

@Nancy 9:59. I don’t know if this lyric from Dylan’s Positively 4th Street supports or doesn’t support your distinction between Among and IN WITH. just thought it was interesting:

I know the reason, that you talked behind my back
I used to be AMONG the crowd you're IN WITH
Do you take me for such a fool, to think I'd make contact
With the one who tries to hide what he don't know to begin with?

There is also a game called STATUEs, which is the same as red light/green light. It coulda come into play somehow.

Pretty fun Tuesday puzzle. Thanks, Billy Ouska.

puzzlehoarder 11:49 AM  

Right after I'd commented.

td -0

P. Kennedy 11:50 AM  

Didn't understand at all why these puns were signs outside of game tournaments... Pretty garbage theme.

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

I thought the theme was a great idea, but pretty bad in execution.

Why are these "signs outside of a tournament"? Are they supposed to be enticing people to join a tournament off the street? Who does that?

And CAPTURE THE FLAG is a really bad theme answer. Yes, that is a kids' outdoors game of that name, but there's no pun here. It's like having a theme answer for the board game Sorry be CROSS THE FINISH LINE. Yes, that's a phrase used in other contexts, but so what?

SIT FOR A SPELL is great. The other theme answers should be at that caliber, too.

Masked and Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Congratz to Clare, for her recent bts & bars accomplishments. Hopefully she is ready to take on that there ANTAL* test, now. Then take the final NWIEWFT** pledge, of course.

* And Now Totally A Lawyer.
** No Way I'm Ever Workin For Trump.

Puz was fine. SITFORASPELL was the best.

staff weeject pick, of a mere 7 choices [I partly blame them 14-long themers, which nudge everything further away from the puztop and puzbottom]: YES. Rates a position of total respect -- If YES were black squares, no way you're gettin from the the upper puzgrid half to the bottom.

Also, oddly drawn to INWITH.
Clue of medical interest: {The end of the Greek world?} = OMEGA. Sure glad it weren't OMICRON.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Ouska dude. U got game.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Anonymous 12:04 PM  

I admit to not recalling the story, but are you among the few, the proud, the First Time Passers?

Anonymous 12:07 PM  


enough with the Dad Jokes, already.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

@L Euler:
Topologically, we're all TORI.

well, no. we're not. were tubes (by whatever name). from mouth to sphincter is OUTSIDE the body, technically.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

The constructor's last name is "Ouska". (It is misspelled as "Osuka" in several places.)

TJS 12:23 PM  

Hey, @Conrad, it's "problema".

There was something about the tone of the cluing in this one that just annoyed me throughout. Or maybe it's the guy in the apartment underneath me who has been doing somethung with a hammer, a chisel, and a sledge for the last three days. I'm not making this up.

So all the times I have been "lit" I was "happenin"? Cool.

Anoa Bob 12:25 PM  

Another exhibit in building a case for 34 black squares as being the optimal number for a 15X15 themed puzzle. Even with a relatively large amount of real estate taken up by the themers, there's still enough open space left to get in some quality fill like TAILSPIN, TITANIUM & TSUNAMI, and without having to resort to too much unsightly dreck to get it done. Just look at that grid, hardly any closed or sectioned off areas and that gives a nice flow to the solve. In my experience just dropping down from 34 to 32 black squares starts to introduce too much compromised fill.

I've never played two of the games so the theme was not the highlight of the puzzle for me but did I mention that the low black square count left enough room for some other good stuff so the puzzle was a winner in my book.

Other than in the gerund (or is it a participle) YACHTing, I've never seen or heard YACHTS used as a verb. I YACHT, you YACHT, he, she or it YACHTS? Nah.

Any other OKRA lovers out there or am I the only one?

I have no idea who this BTS is but I know they better stay off my LAWN.

Tale Told By An Idiot 12:36 PM  

It is Aleph, the beginning. Ella sings to Olga - hush little baby ,
don’t say a word.

Time passes. Olga goes to play a game on the lawn. She watches
the boy Otis capture the flag and keep it for himself. He’s selfish,
she thinks, and a brat. But there is something about his aura…

Time passes. Olga sees a young man standing still as a statue.
He’s lit by the sun, his torso shines. Yes, she thinks, and yes and yes.
She begins to connect the dots - it is Otis.

Time passes. Come, calls Olga, let’s chat. You have soared like an eagle, Otis,
stashed the liras, been in with the owners of yachts. Now it is time to
sit for a spell, disconnect from the world, release the flag and say not a word.
It is Omega, the end.

mathgent 12:52 PM  

My favorite post this morning.

Zy (8:04)

Rebecca M 1:00 PM  

I love when I don't read the little opener that says its Clare and not Rex and I think ... Rex Parker went to a BTS concert??

Great write-up -- I agree completely. For a bit I had Lorde's name as ELLE which made 4D ... TESTES ... and I couldn't figure out where I had gone wrong and I couldn't figure out what to change haha.

Congrats on the bar!

Tim Carey 1:00 PM  

Generally all the puzzles are fine. Some are easier than others. Today for me was easier than yesterday. I, like Ms Nancy, don't really care if there is a "PPP Natick", or a word I don't know. I just move on. I do get aggravated when a clue goes from misdirection, through misleading, to just plain being wrong. I tend to agree with Rex on bad editing... especially of clues. I think late week cluing is mostly just obnoxious, but the elite solvers seem to love those bad clues. Other puzzles, which are much harder, have much fairer clues, i.e. you fail because never heard the answer, not because the clue is screwy. Calling all bad clues "wordplay" just doesn't make sense to me. Wordplay is wordplay, bad clues are just bad clues.

Wanderlust 1:02 PM  

One rather powerful Xi, in particular! Thanks, I did not know this.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

Really, ENOL?

It would have been so easy to change that to eros and have 3 perfectly clueable words.


Nancy 1:14 PM  

@egs -- Interesting lyric. Here's the distinction I would make:

Being AMONG, AMID or AMIDST people is a matter of physical location. You can be AMONG people who wouldn't know you if they fell over you, and they don't have to even like you. Friends? Strangers? It can be either one.

IN WITH is generally about being accepted by people. "I joined a virtual book club, and I find that I'm now IN WITH a lot of famous authors you all have heard of." (I've never met them, mind you, and I've never actually been AMONG them, but I'm quite solidly IN WITH them.

Of course, IN WITH could be used in a physical location sense. "I was hauled off to prison where I'm IN WITH a bunch of other protesters." But this would [hopefully, at least] be a very infrequent usage.

bocamp 1:21 PM  

@RooMonster (9:37 AM)

Thx for posting your SB deets; always ROOting for you! :)

@puzzlehoarder (11:02 AM) πŸ‘ for latest 0's

Off for my booster.

td pg 0*

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Tom T 1:33 PM  

Roo, I've been solving NYT crosswords daily for two years now (post-retirement), and every now and then for years. But I only started noticing the diagonal stuff after a Sunday puzzle a couple of months ago used some diagonals. It has made me want to create a grid with some diagonal component. We will see ...
I believe you found the diagonal SARG.

L Euler 1:33 PM  

@Anon 12:09 You do know that your entire post is nonsense, right? Why would you go out of your way to contradict someone when you've no idea of what you're talking about? I understand there's no risk in your doing that, as you're anonymous, but why waste your energy? Could you not just masturbate quietly in the corner and not bother us instead? Or have you already used up your daily capacity by now?

Tom T 1:34 PM  

Okra is actually my favorite food.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

@L Euler:

read up any high school bio book. we are tubes, like it or not.

"This traditional view is still used in elementary treatments of geometry, but the advanced mathematical viewpoint has shifted to the infinite curvilinear surface and this is how a cylinder is now defined in various modern branches of geometry and topology. "
the wiki

your alimentary canal is not YOU. that's the main reason all those wee microscopic critters that live there don't kill YOU in no time flat; they're not in YOU.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

@L Euler:

"Both the mouth and anus are open to the external environment; thus, food and wastes within the alimentary canal are technically considered to be outside the body. Only through the process of absorption do the nutrients in food enter into and nourish the body’s “inner space.”"

argue with the science. just like any other Red Stater.

Joe Bleaux 3:37 PM  

@Tom T — Your diagonals have become a bit of dessert after the solve and comments. Thanks for them. Of course, I finally had to give it a try myself. My three-letter finds (do they count?) are AIL, CNN, LEO, AND, and HOT. My four-letter finds get clues:

Papa took them
up in Italy _____

Blunt dueler? ______

Respective groaners, aka answers: ARMS, EPEE

OK for a nube?

RooMonster 4:26 PM  

@Tom T
Yep! Congratulations! Have fun in your quest to construct a puz. After your first one, it becomes sort of an addiction. Then you make crazy grids with non-words just to see how close to an odd puz you can make. (Personal story? Har. I actually made a puz that had three separate stacks of three 15's Across, with two two-stacked [side by side] 15's Down. In addition, each triple 15 Across stack had the first and third 15 as one continuous phrase. Plus the actual Theme, which had 1,2,3D [which were three-letterers], and two of the Down 15's [one in each two-stack], plus the last three symmetrical to 1,2,3D, as one continuous answer/phrase. If that's decypherable!)

Anyway, now my brain hurts!

RooMonster Wacky Guy

Smith 5:36 PM  

Congrats, Clare! Hope you'll still do the occasional write up. Not familiar with BTS but sounds like you had a blast and that's what counts!

Average time for average puzz. Liked SITFORASPELL best. Hand up for expecting ASAMI on a Japanese menu! INWITH seems off, as clued, also as previously mentioned.

@roo that puzzle sounds like it would make anyone's brain hurt!πŸ˜„

Tom T 6:09 PM  

Wow, us that the room spinning or my brain?

Tom T 6:12 PM  

Joe Bleaux, love the idea of diagonals for dessert. Perfect. Here's a clue for another 4 letter diagonal word in today's grid: What Joe B has for cluing HDWs. Answer: GIFT (NE(

Barbara S. 7:25 PM  

Terribly late. Just stopped by to read with satisfaction the outpouring of indignation I was certain I’d find over the plural LIRAS. Not a peep. I know that LIRAS is accepted by “the authorities” as an alternate plural for LIRA, but puhleeze. It grates like talons on slate. LIRE then, LIRE now, LIRE evermore. LIRAS is not just a POC, it’s a POOH (Plural of Outrageous Horror).

The other thing in the puzzle that stopped me in my tracks was OTIS crossing TAILSPIN. OTIS Redding died at the age of 26 in the crash of his private plane, carrying him and his bandmates to a gig in Madison, WI. Such a loss. Thanks to @bocamp for posting “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.”

I’ve always been bemused by the denim king, LEVI Strauss, and the anthropologist, Claude LΓ©vi-Strauss, having such similar names. I wonder if CLS ever got asked about the structuralism of jeans design.

I think I found an HDW that no one’s mentioned:
Clue: Trees with leaves that can be worn in an emergency.
Answer: FIGS (the F in FLAG to the NE)

dbyd 0
yd -1 (how did I not see this?)
td -2 (just about to give up)

Anoa Bob 7:35 PM  

What happened?! When I counted this morning there were only 34 black squares in the grid. I come back this evening and it looks like somebody added a bunch of those suckers! I've had both vaccine doses so I can't blame it on COVID brain fog. OH NO, maybe it's the Omicron variant brain FRY. Or maybe a brief flashback from the ACID my friends talked me into doing back in the 70s. Or maybe I just got in a hurry and simply miscounted. Mea culpa

Tom T 7:48 PM  

Great diagonal word and even better clue. I missed it by focusing on GIFT that used 3 of the same letters.

albatross shell 7:50 PM  

How about that nasal cavity you ENTs and topologists? Then on the atomic level there is space between evertything and the real world does not reflect the mathematical ideal world. I mean if we are nitpicking we might as well pick noses too.

Anonymous 8:55 PM  


there are a number of cul-de-sac structures. the air passage is one (terminates in the lungs). the liquid elimination system is another (terminates in the bladder). the reproductive structures yet another (terminates... wherever depending on gender). one might consider the eyes and ears as cul-de-sac, as well (YOU can continue to exist without eyes in place; likewise for ears) but both provide a pathway for pathogens to get to YOU. strictly speaking, none is YOU, since YOU is a closed system of biology. as you may guess, lots of environmental bad stuff can find its way through them. in some cases, lung cancer for example, said stuff can move into YOU.

the main point being: YOU is a closed meat sack (both biologically and topologically); all of that other stuff is either necessary or just dangerous.

TTrimble 9:03 PM  

Long time no see. I'll just comment on a bit. As a mathematician.

All due respect to @mathgent, but the assumption that ALEPH sub one is the continuum (the cardinality of real numbers) is what is known as the continuum hypothesis, shown by Goedel to be impossible to disprove (in ZFC), but later by Paul Cohen to be impossible to prove. One of these undecidable results in mathematics. I'll point @mathgent to Easton's theorem, for some idea of how pliable power set cardinalities can be.

On the skirmish between L. Euler and Anonymous: if TORI here means an orientable compact surface of genus one, then I agree with Anonymous that the genus is greater than one, hence that the boundaries of human body are not TORI. It's a somewhat complicated discussion, but it may be argued that the topological genus of a human body, discounting complicating factors like piercings, is, at a scale or 60 microns, 7. See here.

I feel a little too busy to comment much on puzzles these days. I'll say that I've had a bit of an SB roll recently that was upset by POULT some days back, and I haven't gotten today's last word either. Yet. But 0 has recently been a norm.

I miss @Frantic Sloth, although maybe she's been busy too.

Anokha 10:20 PM  

Congrats on passing the bar!! I hope you’re celebrating!

thefogman 9:56 AM  

Not bad. But the NW corner was a bit nasty. Not a big fan of the “cadillac rims?” (17D) type of clue. That whole corner was chock-a-block full of unknowns. A bit unfair.

spacecraft 12:04 PM  

They run Taboo tournaments? Never heard of the game, but the answer, at least, provides a clue as to how to play. Reminds me of the (now old, tired) shtick of Wayne Brady's on "Let's Make a Deal" when he tells a contestant 'You can't say no. What is the word you can't say?" etc.

I too was looking for something more than just CAPTURETHEFLAG--which is actually an alternative title for Stratego. Was that all we had here, just a literal description? I mean, I know it's only Tuesday, but still...

The next one was better, but not much. Then, apparently, we revert to LD's. *Yawn* Other downers: one (at least) too many school tests, and UTAHN? Finally something to rhyme with


Also, the large NE and SW sections are severely cut off, leaving only 45 and 46 down as ways into the south--and with those clues, it wasn't happening. I had to restart in a new place down there and work back to the point. Not cool for this early in the week.

On the plus side: EAGLE (as clued!!!) and DOD TORI, definitely a pleasing "shape." Also liked DADBOD next to TORSO. Not enough, though: bogey.

Burma Shave 1:11 PM  


Out on THE high CEES
DAD has GRIT and HE'S


Diana, LIW 3:18 PM  

More fun than a game of Monopoly. Took two looks to finish - that's great for a Tuesday.

Diana, LIW

leftcoaster 5:06 PM  

Nice review, congrats to Clare Carroll on passing the bar exam.

YES, a nice pairing of LSAT and MCAT. Also of ALEPH and OMEGA.

Smooth and on the easy side.

rondo 6:55 PM  

Could the corresponding answers GAME TERM be part of the theme? YES.

@D,LIW - your NOVA is astronomical.

HAMS and SHAM in the corners.

Any Bond girl, including OLGA Kurylenko, automatic yeah baby.

For the Wheel, takeaspin.

EightAndEight 9:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
EightAndEight 9:32 AM  

For what it's worth: If you write the word for "Earth" in Hebrew and Greek, respectively, the 1st letter of the Hebrew word (eretz) is aleph, and the last letter of the Greek word (geo) is omega. So, we have both the beginning and the end of each "world".

EightAndEight 9:38 AM  

Apparently, my 1st comment was cut off. If you write the word for "Earth" in both Hebrew and Greek, the 1st letter of the Hebrew word "eretz" is aleph, and the last letter of the Greek word "geo" is omega. Thus, you have the beginning and end of each "world".

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