Today's Tuesday puzzle by Will Nediger (answers) tilted towards the back end of the alphabet with two Xs, six Ys, and seven Zs. If you're into random statistics this is quite unusual. Its Scrabble total of 401 is the third highest in my database and its average scrabble tile value of 2.10 ranks sixth. Very cool, Mr. Nediger. It made for an especially fun puzzle. I had an advantage on the A to Z theme. Check out the Finder page on my stats site. One of the examples I give on how to use the finder uses A*Z as a way to see all the words that start with A and end with Z. If you type that phrase now you'll see all of today's theme clues.
Much of the Scrabbleosity came from "alignment of the sun, earth, and moon, e.g." which, I happened to learn in astrophysics, is SYZYGY. Surprisingly, this famous noun adored by word lovers makes its NYT debut today. Try to use it in a sentence this week.
The high score is even more impressive because it's accomplished at a Tuesday level. Well, mostly, anyway. I didn't know SFC was a certain NCO, and since I was a model child I never faced the terror of the dreaded "punishing rod" known to miscreants everywhere as a FERULE.
Speaking of which, Mr. Alex Rodriguez used to play shortstop here in Seattle. He left to join the Texas Rangers and for years when he returned to play the Mariners the local fans would enjoy punishing Rod with a rain of boos. His unforgivable sin? He left Seattle to sign a Texas-sized contract worth a quarter of a billion dollars. My mind is easily boggled, but that one outboggles most. What would the world be like if the top crossword constructors made that much money, I wonder.
"No stranger to the ski slopes" is a SKI BUM. We had that answer just last year but it's a great one. LAGRANGE could have been another astrophysics clue but instead it was "Georgia city or college." Drag queen RuPaul was delicately clued as "Drag performer with a wax likeness in New York's Madame Tussauds."
Did I mention that I particularly liked this puzzle?