Onetime Ritz rival / TUE 8-29-17 / Brand of candy hearts / Letters on exploding boxes in Angry Birds / Texter's qualifier / Many a feline Facebook posting / Pessimist in Pooh books

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Constructor: Adam G. Perl

Relative difficulty: Medium (maybe slightly harder because of the made-up themers)

THEME: TOO CLEVER BY HALF (54A: Overly inventive ... or a hint to the answers to 17-, 26- and 42-Across) — familiar expressions containing numbers have those numbers increased by 50%, resulting in semi-wacky wrong phrases that, well, make the revealer somewhat descriptive of the entire puzzle:

Theme answers:
  • THIRTY (instead of 20) QUESTIONS (17A: Classic game needing no equipment)
  • FIFTEEN-FOOT (instead of 10-ft.) POLE (26A: You might not want to touch something with this)
  • TWELVE (instead of 8) DAYS A WEEK (42A: 1965 Beatles hit) 
Word of the Day: Edward James OLMOS (34A: Edward James ___, star of "Stand and Deliver") —
Edward James Olmos (born February 24, 1947) is an American actor and director. Among his most memorable roles are William Adama in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, Lieutenant Martin "Marty" Castillo in Miami Vice, teacher Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver, patriarch Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. in the film Selena, Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, and narrator El Pachuco in both the stage and film versions of Zoot Suit. In 1988, Olmos was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the film Stand and Deliver. (wikipedia)
• • •

My wife makes a good point, which is that this puzzle might've been a lot more fun if there'd been a way to wackily clue the actual answers in the grid, instead of just having those answers be flat-out wrong. No wacky clues. Just very, very literal clues (doesn't get much more straightforward than [1965 Beatles hit], snooze). I'm not sure if the puzzle is TOO CLEVER BY HALF or just not clever enough. I kinda like the basic concept—I just wish it could've come across in a more entertaining way. There was nothing fun about writing in THIRTY QUESTIONS and going "well, that's wrong." I like that the grid has those long Downs—woulda been easy to clip them (putting black square at end of CROUP and beginning of HORSY), and the grid might've been easier to fill, but we would've just had more (probably dull) short fill. RIOT POLICE and FALSEHOODS give us at least a little flash outside of the theme (even if it is kinda depressing, as flash fill goes).

Most of the fill here is just OK. Maybe, uh, a little over-reliant on the E-words (-FILE, COLI, -BOOK). I struggled a little with slang that was outside my normal range of usage, i.e. TOOTS and CHIN UP. I also thought the [Drilling grp.] at 1D was OPEC (it's ROTC), and [Event name suffix] was a tough clue for CON, so I was very slow out of the gate. What makes a "feline Facebook posting" an LOLCAT? Also, are LOLCATs still a thing? That answer required many crosses for me to understand. Something about it feels off. Also off-feeling: STABLE as a "Kind of income" (44D: Kind of income a lending officer likes to see). Just because an adjective can be used to describe something doesn't mean that the adjective is a "Kind." If my car is parked, if you asked me what kind of car I owned, I wouldn't say "parked" (however literally accurate that might be). Because that would be too clever by at least 2/3.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Steve 12:05 AM  

I thought this puzzle was very clean albeit a bit dull, but hey it's a Tuesday. Very very little crap fill.

Hal 12:30 AM  

I liked the clue for OBOES. I didn't know NECCO does hearts - I know them only for wafers.

puzzlehoarder 12:31 AM  

This was a little slower than yesterday. I hesitated on a few things. Pardon the rhyme but HIHO is something I ought to know. TOOTS is an eyesore. OTIS as clued was the one real unknown for me. According to the xword list I haven't been paying attention. It's a little like that ETS as an acronym clue we had the other day, an alternate meaning I haven't quite pinned down. Nothing was hard to work around and it was a nice looking puzzle.

Unknown 12:40 AM  

I hated this puzzle third person " CAIN" talk about ambiguous. I found this whole puzzle just TOO CLEVER for a Tuesday. And please, aligns =TRUES just awful. Apparently you can use that word in that context but seriously...

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 12:53 AM  

Mathematical genius that I am, I just thought they were random changes to old (almost as old as I am) sayings.... so I didn't even understand the revealer really, until here. (I like words. Not numbers.). But hey I finished ... on-line ... in good time .... the night before... I'll take that.

jae 1:59 AM  

Easy one for me. No erasures.

Smooth and clever with some very nice long downs. Plus a Fri. clue for OTIS, I think I have a vinyl recording of Ella singing that song. Excellent Tues.!

Lee Coller 2:03 AM  

Not tough, just illogical. Wrote in thirty questions (as that was what the downs demanded) for 30 across and kept looking at it as it had to be wrong.

chefwen 2:24 AM  

After I figured out that twenty questions was not going to work and changed it to thirty as the downs wanted me to do, the rest fell into place quire nicely.

Thought this was fun and a little challenging for Tuesday which is always welcomed. Did have t o change my colic to CROUP at 24A. Also had to dig up OLMOS 34A from the depths of my, not too sharp memory, but it was there.

It was nice to see my little, itty bitty, pretty kitty at 1A. Where is @numinous by the way. I miss him and his comments.

Ellen S 2:28 AM  

Nice puzzle and I even figured out the theme all by myself. After first cursing THIRTY QUESTIONS, of course.

@Robert A. Simon I borrowed The Art of Racing in the Rain and got so far halfway through, and it is beautiful. But now I've gotten to the brutal custody battle and I have a harder time with those, even someone else's, even fiction, than with grieving over an animal companion.

evil doug 4:12 AM  

Looking forward to the day when RIOT POLICE are, finally, given the green light to quell anarchy instead of standing around watching....

BarbieBarbie 5:35 AM  

@ED, or maybe the training instead of just the used weapons.
@Sallie, me too on filling in the themers and thinking "weird theme, known phrases with wrong numbers..." But I did get the revealer so there was a nice AHA for me. The fill was sparkly and fresh and jyst difficult enough to make this a Medium for me, although maybe a bit easier than that since I was goofing around trying to hop all over to see if I could solve that way.
@David, TRUES is definitely a thing, for those who own a toolbox. Few woodworkers or fixit people would say "aligns" and it wouldn't be right anyway. TRUES is a combination of aligns and straightens.

Anonymous 5:51 AM  

Come on, haters - this is a wonderful, logical, consistent theme. I thought at first maybe thirty questions was how the game was played somewhere, but at the next themer was delighted to find that each wrong amount was 50% too much.

Nobody else likes that?

Do mathy people do the crossword any longer, or just read Dilbert?


smalltowndoc 6:52 AM  

Very clever puzzle. One of the most enjoyable Tuesdays I've done in a while. I was really curious how the revealer was going to tie together the other themed answers, and it delivered!

@David Fladger: I thought the clue for CAIN was terrific. If you dislike ambiguity, the NYT crossword is probably not for you. I'm sure there are some puzzle books for preschoolers at your nearest book store :).

OTIS as clued was new to me. Nice to learn new things from a crossword puzzle.

Edward James OLMOS seems to always be clued the same way. Did he ever appear in any other movie?

TOOTS as clued seems almost creepy. What century are we in again?

kitshef 7:14 AM  

Theme was very nice, as was the fill.

Quite hard (for a Tuesday) due to an unusual number of ambiguous clues:
opeC before ROTC
love before IMUS
uHoh before OHNO
satire before COMEDY
hOney before TOOTS
whip before CROP
Colic before CROUP
You can before CHIN UP
shORt before A WORD
NOname before NOBODY
Steady before STABLE
Saran before STOLE

And shouldn't it be twelve days a week-and-a-half?

QuasiMojo 7:15 AM  

I was expecting the themes to literally be halves of the original well-known phrases or a doubling. Missed opportunity. Also it's Steady income they look for, not necessarily Stable. But considering we're now forced to do these corny themed puzzles nearly every day I guess I can't complain too much. It was less painful on the groaner meter than others of late and some of the clueing was fresh and amusing.

Z 7:38 AM  

See, this is what you do with tired phrases, play with them a little and make us bend our minds just a wee bit. I agree with Rex on the cluing, but found this more playful and fun than yesterday's offering.

@Evil Doug and @BarbieBarbie - There's the rub. A guy with a gun yelling "hey nigger" and then shooting should probably get a response from the RIOT POLICE standing nearby. OTOH, being loud and even obnoxious isn't a crime whether you're carrying a torch or wearing a "Black Lives Matter" bandana.

Cleaning up from yesterday.
@kitshef - Thanks. It's good to know that there are still people who read with comprehension. I do sometimes hide my point a little, but didn't think my little jibe at Merriam-Webster could be misunderstood. My link cited a 1905 source that was literal, but it seems to me I recall the phrase being used figuratively in B&W movies, not that I could tell you which ones.

@Mr. Grumpypants - I still argue that the usage isn't common enough to be Monday appropriate. In the dictionaries I looked at it was always listed at best as second and Collins even gives it the dialectal indicator in its American listing.

clk 7:50 AM  

I thought this puzzle was great. Loved the revealer and some clever cluing throughout. Anything too tough was easily gettable by crosses.

Can someone explain the clue for OTIS though?

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

Z - You're a fool by way more than half.

Richard Losey

evil doug 8:01 AM  

You gotta catch up, Z. Even your left-leaning bible, the Washington Post, is coming around. Check out their headline:

"Black-clad antifa members attack peaceful right-wing demonstrators in Berkeley"

Two Ponies 8:11 AM  

I can't remember having this much fun on a Tuesday for ages.
The revealer is a phrase that is used frequently on this blog
so it felt like Mr. Perl was throwing us this very fun puzzle with a wink.
Today was one of those puzzles that it seems Rex can find so little to dislike that he has to resort to nearly microscopic nitpicking just so he can get his grouchy fix.
I'll trade you a toots and chin up for a Nas and eBook any day.
Speaking of toots, that is a pet name that puzzlemate has for me so @ puzzlehoarder, You callin' me ugly? Just kidding of course.

On a more serious note, @ evil doug is right, as usual. Hasn't it made anyone wonder why all of the pepper spraying, window breaking, and bike lock head smashing has been allowed to continue while police simply stand by? Now tell me again, who are the haters?

chefbea 8:15 AM  

fun puzzle but DNF

Doris 8:24 AM  

Cole Porter: "Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today."

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

. . . sucker punching, horse stabbing . . .

ArtO 8:31 AM  

Clung perhaps "too clever by half" but OTOH a pretty fun Tuesday.

Unknown 8:32 AM  

Yup I do!! Used to be an electrical engineer!

Wm. C. 8:36 AM  

I didn't know that NECCO (New England Confectionary Company) was still around. When I was in school it was in a factory across the street from MIT's Mass Ave entrance. When the wind was from the Northwest, the sugar smell was strong.

I guess like most manufacturing concerns it has moved south or offshore somewhere, while maintaining its geographical heritage in its name.

Hungry Mother 8:44 AM  

Fun puzzle, not so fun comments. I prefer spending time here rather than Twitter partly to avoid pointless chatter aimed at those who cannot be swayed by words. Slightly faster than usual solve today. I must read ANAIS some day.

mathgent 8:45 AM  

The best Tuesday in the last couple of years. I put 12 red plusses in the margin, a record for Tuesday. Good sparkle, smart cluing.

It took me a while to understand "hat" in the clue for NANNY. It's slang for "role."

I love Carmen McRae's version of Miss Otis Regrets. I just looked it up. It was written by Cole Porter in 1934 and has been recorded by everyone from Billy Holiday to Linda Ronstadt. I don't think that it's in the Carmen McRae version but the original lyric has Miss Otis killing someone the night before.

GHarris 8:45 AM  

@evil Doug. Riot police are to prevent riots, not instigate them. That's called a police riot. See Chicago 1968.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

So when masked antifa cowards attack defenseless people and property, you just let them do it?

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

@anonymous 8:49, antifa seriously misguided. Clan and Nazis seriously dangerous, historically murderous.

Lewis 9:09 AM  

As I write, I'm in the waiting room as my wife is getting cataract surgery, and my overriding thought is that this magnificent partner of mine is four-and-a-half times a lady.

RAD2626 9:14 AM  

Wholly agree with @ Hungry Mother.

Terrific puzzle. Great revealer. Wondered how he would tie the 150% together and did so brilliantly IMHO. Cluing was as mentioned hard, but fair and clever. Thought EEYORE was spelled EYORE and crosses left me with a guess at second E since I was not familiar with the EAMES brothers (Ames I would have known) but it had to be E or A or I and I guessed right. Liked the long downs as well.

Blue Stater 9:16 AM  

Too clever by about 99/100, as I believe I've said before. At least two really bad Naticks (IMUS and ROSS; AVRIL and TWELVEDAYSAWEEK). I thought we were supposed to be free of this kind of junk on Tuesdays. Sigh.

John 9:19 AM  

This comment section ought to be the one place, at least, where people who turn to the NYT crossword for diversion and amusement can have a safe place to discuss such meaningless and inconsequential issues as the quality of cluing, the small delights that the puzzles often provide, and the level on any given day of Rex's outrage at Will's choices. Can we leave aside all this Trumpish blather, and false equivalence, just for a little while. Evil Doug started it, and he should be ashamed of himself.

BarbieBarbie 9:24 AM  

Aww, Lewis, good luck to Mrs. Lewis. She has the best support system she could want.

Nancy 9:33 AM  

I agree totally with @mathgent, @smalltowndoc, @cmk and others: the best Tuesday I can remember. A theme that was simply clever -- not TOO CLEVER BY HALF. And an unexpected level of challenge. Many clues were tricky: POSE (13D); OLAY (63A); NANNY (41D); OBOES (37A). I have no idea what a "LOLCAT" is, but we'll let that pass. And I don't like CHIN UP (10A) as "words of encouragement." If you're going through a genuine crisis of any kind, would you find CHIN UP remotely helpful? To me, it's fatuous, patronizing, and totally lacking in empathy. I much prefer Bill Clinton's "I feel your pain".

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

No one I know wears a stole so 62-A stumped me.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

@anon 8:57 -seriously misguided? You're an enabler. These guys go out in masks assaulting peaceful people as well as throwing bottles of urine at police officers. These klan and so called nazis are pathetic and basically harmless except that one idiot/murderer in Charlottesville who drove that car into that innocent counter protester. Most of these guys are virgins living in their parents' basement. Ignore them and they'll go away. The so called Antifa are the real danger. They are the real fascists shutting down free speech. It's Orwellian. For them speech is violence and violence is speech.

Joseph Michael 9:57 AM  

CLEVER theme. I knew something was going on with wrong numbers, but didn't figure out the pattern until I got to the revealer and then a satisying aha. This made for a crunchier than usual Tuesday, especially with fill like NECCO, OLMOS, CROUP, HAI, and LOLCAT.

Could have done without the redundancy of EBOOK and EFILE and then there's the curious HIHO, IMHO, and OHNO trio. HORSY seems to have arrived too late for yesterday's puzzle.

Is there a movie that Alan ALDA hasn't been in?

The OED each year coins a new word or term that has come into the English language. The entry for 2016 was "post truth." So FALSEHOODS here is quite timely and certainly a hallmark of era in which we currently live.

Thanks, Adam, for a good workout.

jberg 10:05 AM  

Like everybody else, I wrote in TwenTY QUESTIONS and then was forced by the crosses to make it THIRTY. But unlike Rex, instead of saying "Well, that's wrong," I said "Hmm, I wonder what's going on here?"That made it fun to figure out.

I'm not sure I like crossing QUESTIONS and FAQS at the Q, though -- since that's what the Q stands for.

I did like the clockwise rotation of E-FILE, E-BOOK, and E-LOTS (offerings at an online auction?); if only E-COLI could have been moved into that fourth place, upside down.

I'm very embarrassed to say that I spent a lot of time trying to make "pork" or "tofu" work at 1A before RICE finally occurred to me.

G. Weissman 10:27 AM  

I'm not seeing how TOO CLEVER BY HALF means "half of a number added to that number" rather than, say, "half of a number," in which case the answer to 42A would be FOUR DAYS A WEEK, for example. The latter seems more accurate to me, since it halves the numbers in familiar phrases -- simple. Compare that to explaining: well, you take the number in a familiar expression, take half of that number, and add that half to the whole number to get a new number that is "too clever" by the addition of half the original number. Or: it's twelve days because you take eight and half of eight is four and you add that "half" to eight and get twelve, which is therefore "too clever" by the addition of four, which is half the original eight. No.

RooMonster 10:29 AM  

Hey All !
Apparently I'm the only one who thought the concept of the theme seemed off. To my ears, TOO CLEVER BY HALF seems like the themers should have been halved, as in TEN QUESTIONS, 3.75(?)FOOT POLE, SIX DAYS A WEEK. But, the ole brain kicked into gear, and figured out the 'have to halve and add that half to original number' concept. TOO CLEVER BY ROOS brain!

Liked: all themers were 15's, light dreck, 7 F's, nice misdirect on HIHO crackers (forgot about those!), ROOS!
Didn't like the one-way in NW/SE corners.

So decent TuesPuz, LOLCAT notwithstanding.


Phil 10:30 AM  

Too many proper nouns. Opposite of a PB puzzle on the enjoyable scale
How did the constructor not give us a NEWT and LANCE as well.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

@evil Doug and @ Richard Losey,

Don't waste your breath. it isn't so much that @Z is a fool. He most certainly is. The world is rife with them. The problem is that he's a fanatic. Unable to change his mind or the subject. Worse, he doesn't know how common berm is.
Let him fellate Rex and the Antifa cretins. His philosophy is untenable. It'll end sadly for him and his ilk.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

Game for a car trip there and halfway back?

Device too short to deal with 50% more danger?

Beatles title with five times the absurdity?

David Stone 10:40 AM  

This was a fun puzzle, and Rex's grumpy write-up is why I discovered Amy Reynaldo's Crossword Fiend blog. I get that Rex demands perfection, but there's a huge difference between casual solvers and tournament solvers.

The first thing anyone should think when they are looking at THIRTY QUESTIONS is "Oh, we have a theme going here," rather than "That's wrong."

Yes, this puzzle had three E- words (EFILE seems the worst of them), but otherwise the was really solid and featured some fun answers like EEYORE (with his friend ROO in plural form) and LOLCAT.

This was one of the best Tuesday NYT puzzles in some time.

Paul Rippey 10:43 AM  

I'm with you. Clever and totally enjoyable.

JC66 10:53 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
TOCraig 10:56 AM  

Enjoyed it a lot!

JC66 10:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:12 AM  

Good to be 66 I guess and still doing the puzzle after 50 years. Don't have the issues with things like Otis or Eames and still can keep up with Nas or Efile. Ignorance of a word is no excuse to complain about it -- this is supposed to be a chance to exercise your brain so read up on things you learn. Too much complaining about difficult clues or solves, not enough appreciation of the effort of creating a puzzle. It was a more difficult Tuesday than most---so what. So it was stable not steady, you still got it. Not OPEC -- good you had to think. What good would it be to know everything up front-- it is a PUZZLE after all.

jb129 11:28 AM  

Looks like Rex & I are at odds again (like yesterday).... what he finds Medium, I find easy & vice-versa. Sometimes his "Easy's kill me.

I enjoyed this puzzle & finished it in no time.

old timer 11:31 AM  

I got the THIRTY before the QUESTIONS so no writeovers there. I did write in sixTEEN instead of FIFTEEN; when I got that right I was ready for TWELVE DAYS A WEEK. I feel sorry for @Rex for he was too young to hear those earlier Beatles songs when they first came out.

My only other writeover was in the NE where I put in "spur" before CROP. Some of the clues I thought were too recondite for a Tuesday. But I loved solving this one.

TOO CLEVER BY HALF does indeed mean "half again as clever as he ought to be. Think about it. If you were to say "Too big by half" you would indeed be saying as big a size as it is, plus half again as much. I once weighed 160 lbs, long ago. If I now weigh 240 I am too heavy by half.

Off topic, it seems that Antifa, though short for "Antifascist" is pronounced an-TEE-fa.

Cookie Monster 11:31 AM  

@WM C (8:36 am)

NECCO did indeed move, but not down south or off shore - but just a few miles away to a larger headquarters and factory building in Revere. The owner of the original building across from MIT (Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research) has honored NECCO by painting the water tower atop the building to look like a roll of NECCO wafers.

On a sadder note...
HiHos way better than Ritz
Hydrox way better than Oreo
Cheez-Its way better than Cheez Nips
Vienna Fingers way better than ANYTHING.
Sunshine way better than Nabisco

Oh Sunshine, why did you let yourself get swallowed up?

Masked and Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Liked this puz a lot. Different. Kinda sorta caught on to its theme drift at THIRTYQUESTIONS -- which helped a bit with the solve -- but wasn't wise to the revealer, so nice ahar moment, when I uncovered that. Medium difficulty sounds about right. Give or take a diff.

HORSY? STABLE? Deja mule!

Some fill sparkle with EEYORE and LOLCAT and COMEDY and FALSEHOODS and whatnot, but some desperation with that extra groupgrope of names (yo, @phil phil). EAMES and AVRIL were the only real hard ones, at my house, tho. Overall, fill was pretty darn smooth.

staff weeject pick: HAI. It's kinda too funny by half. [HA + yer extra letter.]

Thanx, Mr. Perl. 60 theme squares in 4 grid spanners! Very nicely done.

Masked & Anonymo6Us
"Too Hopeful By Half"


tess 12:10 PM  

I'm bummed about the fact that the theme answers aren't actually "double" the real sayings. The game is called "Twenty Questions", so the answer should be "Forty Questions". The saying is "nine and a half foot pole", so the answer should be "Nineteen Foot Pole". And the song is called "Eight Days A Week", so the answer should be "Sixteen Days A Week". Because of that, this puzzle was a disapointment for me.

chasklu 12:33 PM  

to kitsef's list, I add

gaiN before LOAN
dance before ONTOE

together with the numerical changes, making this a frustrating if not difficult Tuesday.

Aketi 12:38 PM  

@Lewis, best post today. Wishing that everything goes smoothly.

@ROO, I thought the themer should have been BY HALF AGAIN since the half was added to the whole.

@Anonymous 9:43 am, my sister and I wore my grandmother's (slightly moth eaten) fox stoles) to play dress up as kids. They even had the claws on their pawsa still intact, nut thei eyes were replaced with glass eyes. Remnants of a bygone era.

@Two Ponies, You have, on this blog, written some very negative stereotyped comments about groups of people you don't like that I try to ignore. The obvious answer to your question is the guy who mowed down the woman with his car, but that example only leads to going down a rabbit hole of trading single examples of hate crimes that are featured in the media to drive more traffic to their outlet rather than examining the statistics on hate crimes as a whole.

There are always extremists. But in this era extremists are being encouraged to act out by multiple sources. I haven't seen any credible evidence to support that there is a greater proportion of violent extremists on the left than on the right.

When I marched in Washington for the Women's March There were no arrests from the marches and the police and the marchers got along very well Ditto at the Rally for Science in Ithaca. We weren't allowed to carry backpacks or even wooden sticks for our posters. Even if we had carried posters with sticks no one that I saw got angry with other marchers or the police who were actually helpful and encouraging. Seems pretty absurd to limit the right for women and scientists to bear sticks for their posters and yet allow others to be better armed than the police. Seriously, I don't want to have to wear full protective body armor with a gas mask to be able to exercise my right to freedom of speech and freedom of PEACEFUL assembly, let alone have to purchase a mini tank so I don't get mowed down by a car wielding terrorist. Nor do I want to have to undergo weapons training so I can my right to bear arms with some degree of responsibility. I already know I am a terrible shot with a rifle and would be a danger to myself and others. I don't even want to use my Martial Arts training either. A stick for my poster and my flag would have be nice though. On the other hand, my arms did get a nice workout.

Of course, you can keep inserting confirmation biased examples based on a small sample of extremists to trade what you consider to be the "other" side in an endless tit for tat, but what will that accomplish?

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

@12:38-let's see what happens in Berkeley next months. Until responsible , prominent Democrats condemn the ironically named antifa you're gonna get more and more people sympathetic to Trump.

Nancy 1:09 PM  

Brava, @Aketi (12:38)!

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

If you choose to hate Trump and Republicans, that's your prerogative. Good luck with that. I for one choose not to hate.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  


Your bias is showing. @Two Ponies didn't mention anything about the actors or their allegiance. She simply wondered when bad actors would be confronted by police. It's a fair question.
As for the mess in Charlottesville, it's worth remembering that the idiots who fancy themselves the alt-right were the folks with the permits for their assembly. It was Antifa that lacked credentials.
The world has long since judged the Klan and Nazis as fringe nuts. Imbeciles and pea brains. Let them wither and die on the vine. Antifa? They've got the imprimatur of the elite--from the NY Times to the faculty at Dartmouth. They actually scare this registered Democrat.

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

Due to my brain's insistence that the Beatles song was "Six Days A Week", the theme's full impact had to bide a wee, until I read Jeff Chen and @Rex. And I'm a big Beatles fan, sheesh.

But even flailing around on the theme didn't keep me from enjoying this "Terrible Tuesday" puzzle. I loved CAIN as the third person. I was relieved when POLE finally helped me make sense of my CHIN Us (I fell for the "words of encouragement" and put an S in at the end of 10D.) And the home for "Girls" had to move from NYC to HBO.

I liked the CROP/CROUP duo and the FAINT FALSEHOODS. I nailed the AVRIL due to a large error on a recent tournament puzzle serving as a learning experience. I once bought a book of short stories by ANAIS - couldn't finish even the first one.

So thanks, Adam G Perl, very nice!

evil doug 1:25 PM  

This is not a matter of equivalence, Aketi,nor of statistics or proportions. The comparison of antifa with white supremacists is not a zero-sum calculation, where the more one detests the racists, the less deplorable antifa must be.

Despite its "anti-fascist" label, it's hard to find a less fascist group around. They employ violence and chaos to deny free speech and open debate, and so we suffer the only possible result: mayhem in the streets, riots, vandalism, and even death.

So one can simultaneously detest both the alt-right white supremacists--as I do--as well as the violent Marxist anarchists of antifa. The less we in the great "free speech, let's talk" middle make the unnecessary choice of one side or the other, and accept that both extremes must be overcome by peaceful, civil debate and thoughtful consideration, the faster these morons on both poles will be rendered impotent and irrelevant.

Uke Xensen 1:26 PM  

Easy, but a little dull.

Lewis 1:27 PM  

@barbie, @akita -- Thank you for your kind words.

We are home, all is going well. Heading toward a happy ending...

kitshef 1:55 PM  

@Lewis - glad to hear that. That's two eye surgeries on this board in the past -- month? I start to fear maybe we are getting older.

Joe Bleaux 2:01 PM  

More fun than the typical Tuesday for me. I don't understand the questioning of the arithmetic: To increase by half is simply to add 50 percent OF the original TO the original, no? Hand up, though, on some of the cluing criticism: STABLE (not steady) income? OH NO (not oh my, or uh oh) for "could be bad"? And LOLCAT is something I've never read or heard. Only true wince was TOOTS, an answer begging for a better clue; "Uses one's own horn" or some such would've been better. All around, though, a better than average Tuesday. Thanks, AGP.

Z 2:21 PM  

@Evil Doug - When it crosses from speech to violence people should be arrested. Oh look, arrests were made.

@John - Apologies. Even though @E. Doug did make the first comment, I didn't help. I do find our back and forth useful, but your point is well-taken. No more on this from me today.

@Lewis - I hope the recovery goes well. No comment on any happy endings.

G. Weissman 2:35 PM  

Interesting, but does "too clever by half" mean "half again as clever as he ought to be"? No one says "too big by half," and cleverness, unlike weight, cannot be measured numerically or in terms of size.

evil doug 2:38 PM  

Good one, Z: "evil doug started it, but I didn't help, so I'm going to quit now. Oh, but first let me just say...."

Malsdemare 2:45 PM  

I liked the puzzle just fine, though I will quibble about ONTOE. Wha? It's ONpOinte, which of course doesn't fit; I've never heard ONTOE. Seriously, is this a thing? But I was slow. When TwenTYQUESTIONS didn't work, I tried fourTY, which worked with that R in ERR but was clearly misspelled. I started really questioning that when it was clear that POLE was larger than ten FEET and twenty wasn't going to work with EEN in there. But boy (girl?) did I have a brain fart at the Beatles song. I could not remember how many days a week were in that song. Fortunately, I fixed my errors pretty quickly and I finished in a respectable time.

@G Weissman. I've always thought too clever by half meant you take a full load of cleverness and then add another 50%, so this worked for me.

That was fun.

Anonymous 3:35 PM  

Not to point out the obvious but the reason the Women's March was peaceful is that there were no right wingers keeping the marchers from their rights to free assembly. Compare that to the free speech march in Boston ten days ago where the antifa thugs put an end to it while hurling bottles of urine at police.

Cassieopia 4:26 PM  

@Wm. C. and with that you solved one of the unknowns in my life. New England Confectionary COmpany. Who knew? Much appreciated.

Cassieopia 4:31 PM  

Detailed snack commentary is hilarious coming from a screen name @Cookie Monster. Obviously you come by your name honestly!

Cassieopia 4:37 PM  

@evil doug: I don't agree with your political views often but I did really like this: "The less we in the great "free speech, let's talk" middle make the unnecessary choice of one side or the other, and accept that both extremes must be overcome by peaceful, civil debate and thoughtful consideration, the faster these morons on both poles will be rendered impotent and irrelevant."

Cassieopia 4:38 PM  

@Lewis sending healthy wishes.

Cassieopia 4:44 PM  

Liked the puzzle a LOT. Adam Perl crafted a memorable Tuesday with great fill and a cool theme.

I too had pork before RICE, them before CAIN, and my conviction that it was TwenTYQUESTIONS stopped me cold for a bit in that NW corner.

The Beatles rescued me but I still didn't get the HALF bit until coming here. Really brilliant and memorable, and I was pleased to see my times continue to improve on the MTW puzzles. It's fun to see improvement and even more fun to encounter puzzles like today's. Excellent.

Joe Dipinto 5:14 PM  

@G Weissman 2:35 -- if you "increase something by half" (which *is* an expression) you are adding 50% of the original amount to the original amount. Of course "too clever by half" is an idiom, but it implies excessiveness. Wouldn't FOUR DAYS A WEEK fit better with "not as clever by half?"

Ellen S 6:09 PM  

@G. Weissman (and @Malsdemare) -- I also have always interpreted "too clever by half" to be equivalent to "half again as much", even if you can't weigh or measure cleverness. It seems to be a moderate estimate of cleverness, not hyperbolic excess like "a jillion times as clever." Which is also, you know, like, twice as meaningless as "by half"... (for a given value of clever.)

@John, and everyone. I have opinions on this stuff too, but what I miss is, where I used to work, we could somehow have political discussions, and strong disagreements, and then go out to lunch. The avid Republican and I found ourselves together one election, he was in charge of the polling place and I was poll-watching and helping with get-out-the-vote (sometimes acronymed to GOTV in case it shows up in a puzzle) for a candidate truly not supported by my co-worker. When the polls closed I followed him to where he dropped off the boxes of ballots, and then we went together to the only election night party I knew about, which was regular Democrats, so I guess it was neutral ground for us, not my folks, and not his.

What I'm saying is, we all had strongly held and opposing opinions but we also knew each other not to be violent or bigoted folks (except I suppose the one co-worker who was exposed as a rat informant to management), and so I think we all accepted that even though our opinions ranged from free market to socialist revolution, nobody was a white supremacist or wanted to round up all immigrants etc. So we could disagree pretty spectacularly, and yet not only work together but be actual friends.

Unknown 6:17 PM  

Well said.

Unknown 7:02 PM  

Where did you get an Otis for an answer.

Unknown 7:03 PM  

Ok-my bad-I didn't get that one either

Space Is Deep 7:22 PM  

Hard for a Tuesday. Easy for a Thursday gimmick puzzle, which how it felt to me.

Anonymous 7:42 PM  

This afternoon Nancy Pelosi condemned antifa for the Berkeley riots this weekend. That's a start. Let's go Kamala Harris, Jerry Brown and Dianne Feinstein.

Lewis 9:20 PM  

@kitshef, @z, @cassieopia -- Thank you for those kind words; they mean very much. Susan isn't having a great day, but all things considered, she's holding up well, and, according to the doctors, tomorrow should be much better.

Cassieopia 11:13 PM  

@Lewis am glad to hear tomorrow should be better. Tell her strangers on the internets are wishing her a speedy recovery :)

Unknown 2:23 AM  

Great version of that song by Bette Midler.

G. Weissman 9:04 AM  

Yes, you are right. Thanks.

Anais Cola Metals 4:28 AM  

Original name of my naming company was Too Clever by Half... but it was, as
No One understood it...
I ended up with ACME Naming, which are actually just my initials and I liked the irony of a naming company having a seemingingly generic name.

Anyway, I loved this puzzle idea, but thought it should be a Wednesday, minimally (Too Clever by Half a day?)

Bumming a little tho bec I've been working forever on a semi-similar idea, but we'll see what's what as the reveal is sufficiently different, I hope!

Tarheeled 3:08 PM  

Good puzzle with some clever cluing. LOLCAT?????? I got it because cat=feline and LOL is a web word. What the two together mean is beyond me. No write overs!!!! @Wm.C. Sugar has no smell. The flavors added to the sugar have a smell.

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

Coming in late to say: surprised no one complained about the non-standard spelling of "horsey" no e?

I clued in quickly to the "trick," so was pretty happy with this puzzle. Did however get stuck on ROTx down (drilling org) and xON across (event suffix), so ended up just putting each letter of the alphabet in order until the music started playing. Thank goodness the correct letter "C" was a the beginning of the alphabet.

Positive Sayings 4:41 AM  

Amazing and interesting post

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thefogman 10:15 AM  

I was TOOCLEVERBYHALF and should learn to look before I leap. DNF for me. Got my suffixes and prefixes mixed up and put down nON at 20A instead of CON. Other than that gaffe, I had little trouble finishing. I had paroDY before COMEDY, shORt before AWORD and STeady before STABLE. All in all, it was a decent Tuesday puzzle, IMHO.

spacecraft 11:41 AM  

This puzzle was indeed TOOCLEVERBYHALF for a Tuesday, clues included. Of course, like everybody and his brother, I had the NW inkfest with TwenTY, not suspecting anything wacky on a Tuesday. From then on I had no real trouble, but kept bumping into clues the likes of which I'm used to seeing later on, like, say, Thursday.

Is LOLCAT a thing? This guy obviously spends a LOT of time online, as OFL noted. And what is meant by the word "sometimes" in the clue for 59-across? Have you ever heard a "light-" METAL band? Me neither. Maybe like that "surprising" triangle solo in the latest weird Geico ad.

[Aside] I'd never buy that insurance: I'm not about to foot that humongous advertising budget.

Fill is techy and a little over PPP-populated, but not terrible. I'm not a big fan of this type of theme; IMHO OFL is right that the clues shouldn't just refer to the original saying and therefore have the answers be simply wrong BY HALF. It seems kinda dumb.

DOD is Katharine ROSS; I just saw a rerun of Butch & Sundance last week. AVRIL, you'll get your turn. Feeling charitable today, so: par.

Bananafish 12:22 PM  

Terrific Tuesday puzzle.

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Unknown 2:31 PM  

It means half again too clever.

Diana,LIW 2:48 PM  

Knew early on that something was amiss. Answered mostly downs, and knew the answers were right, so knew the numbers were off. Then, got the revealer, and oho!

My brain must be getting used to "clever" clues 'cause I didn't think the answers were hard to suss. I have much more trouble with unknown PPPs than with wordplay. So this puzzle was in my wheelhouse. Didn't feel at all like 75 shades of gray.

Miss OTIS was a new one to me - according to Bill Butler it's a classic song based on a bet that Porter could write a song about the next few words he heard. Live and learn.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 3:03 PM  

This one is tough for a Tuesday, but not TOOCLEVERBYHALF, especially not after getting that clever theme. It's challenging and fun.

Rex's comments are a bit annoying. "Coulda, shoulda, woulda done this or that and made a better puzzle, etc., etc." A version of Monday morning quarterbacking on Tuesday.

It coulda been a Wednesday, and a good one at that.

Burma Shave 3:04 PM  


OHNO, please NOBODY FAINT because


Peter 3:24 PM  

All the radical groups in the US are paid for and encouraged by the same group. It is known as the "deep state". Their objective is to keep everyone scared and confused and unable or disinclined to find common ground. Divide and conquer. As usual the main stream media dutifully fans the flames. They will do anything to stop liberty and freedom from marching on. We are all being conned.

rainforest 3:59 PM  

I thought this was a good puzzle, particularly on a Tuesday, where puzzles go to die under the weight of criticism. Figured out the theme with FIFTEEN FOOT POLE, and the theme revealer was spot on.

Nice to see the occasional oblique clue, and some different entries. Blushingly, I confess that I have on occasion called my girlfriend TOOTS (and maybe "sweetums"). Don't hold that against me.

Certainly clever, and not "too". Just a nice Tuesday puzzle with a bit of bite.

As a Canadian, I have (actually want) to nominate AVRIL Lavigne for DOD or yeah baby. Also, though I really shouldn't (sorry), I think the US has too many guns, too many gun supporters, too many legislators who yield to the NRA, and way too many unconscionable gun laws. Silencers are now being pushed--really? I weep for yesterday's victims and their families, and for the USA in general.

rondo 4:49 PM  

I guess I never really thought about that phrase, but imagined that a person could have been HALF as CLEVER and still been on top of it, so I was looking for fourDAYSAWEEK and fiveFOOTPOLE, which were not fitting. Finally got that it means TOOCLEVERBYatimeandaHALF. Ain’t math fun? Not that hard thereafter.

Ten years ago I was dared by a dinner date to POSE as a calendar boy, so POSE I did, 12 months with 12 different themes, sometimes even partially clothed, never quite baring it all (to the lens). It became quite popular with some local ladies. A bunch of them had FAQs like when the next month would appear, or if they could take the photo. I would only POSE in the BUFF with my own camera being used though. Digital image control, you know. Gotta watch those E-FILEs.

Speaking of BUFF, AVRIL Lavigne, yeah baby.

Kind of an odd solve, doing it HALF-fast. Har.

wcutler 5:01 PM  

Wow, DNF on a Tuesday, most of the NW corner. I was amused by the OBOES clue, didn't get it for a while, even after all the times those things have shown up in puzzles.

I liked the gimmick and the revealer that made the theme answers make sense. I always thought that phrase meant just what it means here, and lots of dictionary definitions support that (with none supporting a view that it would diminish the amount, not augment it). Here is a British bulletin board posting that says it all very well:

leftcoastTAM 8:32 PM  

@rondo--Probably you're still a fit and good-looking man, despite inevitable aging and the physiological deterioration that comes with it. Hang in there, and good luck.

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