The Tuesday, January 29 puzzle by C. W. Stewart and J. K. Hummel (answers) is, surprisingly, the first time the constellation CYGNUS (aka the Northern Cross) shows up in my NYT database, although its brightest star DENEB is a bit of a regular. Why mention all this? I recently added hooks into this blog site for Google Analytics which gives me all sorts of summarized data about where my readers come from (geographically, not philosophically), what browsers on what operating systems they use, and so on. Much of my traffic comes from people typing clues into search engines. Putting the exact clue into a blog post title means the phrase shows up in an <h3> tag from which search engines infer significance. Posts like Required reading for 007 are among my most popular. I intend to use this knowledge for evil and not good by manipulating further searches to my nefarious advantage.
The theme clues today had this in common: THEY CAN BE ROLLED. Not much of a theme, really, but the authors redeemed themselves somewhat by making the other theme answers progressively more clever from top to bottom. I liked the non-theme clue "Old Timer?" for SUNDIAL which is again, surprisingly to me, new to the NYT database. Did it make me smile? You bet your "Braying beast" (65 Down.)