US marshal role for John Wayne / TUE 2-20-18 / Consumer giant that makes Bounty / Credit card designation / French author who said intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Challenging (for a Tuesday)

THEME: LEXICOGRAPHERS (51A: Ones who produced the clues for 20-, 25- and 45-Across) — theme clues are written as dictionary definitions; theme answers are familiar phrases that, when taken differently, can appear to be asking for a literal definition of one of the words in those phrases. Thus:

Theme answers:
  • "HIGH" DEFINITION (20A: adj. under the influence of a drug) (the clue is a definition of "high")
  • "OVER" EXPLAINED (25A: adv. across a barrier or intervening space) (the clue is an explanation of "over")
  • MEANING OF "LIFE" (45A: n. spirit, animation) (the clue is the dictionary meaning of "life") 
Word of the Day: GOGO (58A: Big name in in-flight internet) —
Gogo Inc. is a provider of in-flight broadband Internet service and other connectivity services for commercial and business aircraft, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. 17 airlines partner with Gogo to provide in-flight WiFi, including British AirwaysAer LingusIberiaGol linhas aereasBeijing CapitalAeromexicoAmerican AirlinesAir CanadaAlaska AirlinesDelta Air LinesJapan AirlinesJTAUnited AirlinesHainan AirlinesVirgin AmericaVietnam Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. Gogo Inc. is a holding company, operating through its two subsidiaries, Gogo LLC and Aircell Business Aviation Services LLC (now Gogo Business Aviation Inc.). According to Gogo, over 2,500 commercial aircraft and 6,600 business aircraft have been equipped with its onboard Wi-Fi services. The company is also the developer of 2Ku, the new in-flight (satellite solution) Wi-Fi technology. (wikipedia)
• • •

Cute, but (for me) hilariously misplaced on a Tuesday. I was north of my average Wednesday time, nowhere my normal Tuesday range of times. I had zero conception of the theme until I was done. I just knew that the clues had nothing to do with the answers in any way that I could see, so I had to get every one of them via crosses, hacking at them until they looked like something, and then filling in the blanks. This meant I also had trouble with the front end of LEXICOGRAPHERS. (P.S. LEXICOGRAPHERS did not "produce the clues"; only editors or constructors can do that, so the clue is simply wrong without a "?" on it). There was also a lot of hard stuff and "?" stuff in the N/NE that slowed me down considerably. But no matter. The concept is pretty good. The first themer is the best one, because it repurposes the meaning of "definition." The others are literalizations without the concomitant shift in the meaning of the lexicographical word, i.e. that is, no new meaning for "meaning," no new meaning for "explained." But insofar as "high," "over," and "life" are all being isolated and treated as words, in dictionary definition fashion, the theme is consistent and fine.

[XTC should be in puzzles more often]

That whole area east of (and including) BLUDGEON was very rough for me. Needed half the crosses even to see BLUDGEON, and then CAHILL (????) (8D: U.S. marshal role for John Wayne). No idea. None. Not even a movie in the clue? (Not that that would've helped). Have watched many John Wayne movies. Many. No idea about CAHILL. Zero. . . OK, now that I look it up, the name of the movie *is* "CAHILL"??? Since when is that famous, let alone Tuesday famous? Dear lord. Full title: "CAHILL: U.S. Marshal" (1973). This isn't even in the top half of Wayne movies, fame-wise, success-wise, I'm gonna guess quality-wise. No idea why you'd put it in a Tuesday. Or even a Wednesday (which, as we've established, this puzzle should've been). So that was a disaster. Moving east from there, the two "?" clues both stymied me. They're both OK clues, but BARTENDS (10D: Makes the rounds?) and SUMO (12D: Battle of the bulges?) held me up and made CAMUS and TROMP much harder to get. Also, like I know who makes Bounty paper towels (PANDG = P&G = Proctor & Gamble —that type of answer, letter+AND+letter = "ampersandwich"; see, for example, BANDB, AANDP, RANDB, etc.). I don't use "in-flight internet" so GOGO was nono for me. And I had no (literally no) idea that The Huffington Post was HUFFPOST at all, let alone *officially* (38D: Popular left-leaning news site). I have only ever heard HUFFPO, which still seems like a much much better, more in-the-language abbr. for that org.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Brett 6:21 AM  

I liked this one quite a bit theme-wise, and I agree with Rex that the clues in the NE made that a tough section. As the resident religious studies professor who reads this blog, I feel like it is my duty to point out that TAO, while not completely unrelated to Confucianism, would be very low on the list of important Confucian concepts. The tao undergirds and imbues all things, and in that sense, is present in Confucian thought, but for the most part, Confucianism is concerned with social and political relationships rather than with natural forces and rhythms. In other words, to clue TAO this way, one must rely on the assumption that most solvers will think anything Chinese they can think of is probably Confucian. And since this is incorrect, this has the unfortunate consequence of reinforcing our ignorance.

BarbieBarbie 6:35 AM  

It’s always interesting to me to compare solving methods. I, too, was completely unfamiliar with CAHILL, but I filled it in anyway after I got CAHxxx, because it was supposed to be a name, and that’s the most likely one. Rex seems to want to fill in only words he can retrieve in their entirety. Maybe he never does the Acrostic?

I found this medium-hard, with the NE corner the toughest. Mainly because I could see Jamie Lee Curtis’ face but couldn’t retrieve ACTIVIA. the extra effort to get there only made the super-clever BARTENDS a better Aha. Everything easily gettable, no dreck, fun stuff. Good puzzle. Thanks.

Anonymous 6:44 AM  

a thoroughly enjoyable tuesday puz. yes, a little harder than normal, but not a wednesday level puzzle for sure.

enjoyed bludgeon, missed its cousins: club, cudgel, stick, truncheon, baton, mace, blackjack, billy club, nightstick, and shillelagh.

others have their tao, we have our pow!

Lewis 6:45 AM  

The stamp of quality. Clever, tight, original theme, with a squeaky clean grid that has an AHH feel and that gave me a lovely AHA when the theme became clear. I think the puzzle is beauti-licious, and you can put that in your Funk and Wagnalls.

Unknown 7:01 AM  

Thank you, Brett. This is the worst clue for TAO I have ever seen.

Harryp 7:20 AM  

I feel for the beginners who might have expected and easier Mon/Tues workout, but this was more of a Wednesday puzzle IMO. I also put down CAHILL off of the CAH. Managed to finish it, and appreciate the work by its author Joel Fagliano. Thanks for the early week workout.

Glimmerglass 7:33 AM  

Constructor (and editorial) confusion. As @Brett points out, Confucianism is not Taoism (and visa versa). Why do people forget that the monster has the bolt, not the mad scientist (Dr. Frankenstein). The monster is not named Frankenstein. Like @Rex, I couldn’t understand the theme until I’d finished the puzzle. n. stands for “noun.”

Birchbark 7:36 AM  


ACTIVIA is a great word. It conjures up soft-focused people riding bikes or smiling at the beach, with a bunch of side effects rattling off in the background. Either that or sensible automobile looking to spice things up.

HIGH DEFINITION OVER EXPLAINED MEANING OF LIFE. "An intellectual whose mind watches itself."

Jay 7:40 AM  

Had LEXICOn RAPpERS instead of LEXICOGRAPHERS. Naturally I could not see what the lexicon of rappers had anything to do with the theme answers.
At 26:30 this was almost twice my typical time for a Tuesday.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

For those of you who aren't aware, every Tuesday and Friday at 6:00 pm Eastern time, there's a puzzle published by Tim Croce at They're consistently challenging but fair, cleverly constructed with fresh clues and entries, and absolutely free (though he does have a tip jar).

Two Ponies 7:55 AM  

Gin up reminded me of the gimlet discussion.
FS1 and GoGo were unknowns but no problem.
I thought this was a welcome challenge for our Tuesday.
I read a quote this week from LeBron James where he said he was so important to society that we needed to know his political opinions.

Ann 8:11 AM  

Strange that this novice thought it was a breeze. So, as always, you can only please some of the people some of the time.

Nancy 8:22 AM  

This is the best Tuesday puzzle I've ever done, bar none! When I didn't immediately know either 1A or 1D, I realized it was going to be a good day.

Not being a watcher of horror flicks, I didn't know there was anything sticking out of Frankenstein's neck, much less what it was. Leaving me to inadvertently invent a techie portmanteau that doesn't exist. Look, there are all these techspeak new coinages I've never heard of, some quite clever, so when I saw the clue "Switch between windows, e.g.", I thought, well maybe you have to both log in and log out to change windows and therefore the answer is LOGGLE (4D). (How would I know, when I have no idea how to switch between windows?) But even I knew that Frankenstein didn't have a BOLL sticking out of his neck, so I was able to correct. Have I OVEREXPLAINED?

My only nit is TROMP (19A). I think you can TRAMP and I think you can CLOMP. TROMP sounds like a Malapropism to me. But anyway, Joel, thanks for a really smart and enjoyable Tuesday offering. Will you do all my Tuesdays from now on?

Mel Torme 8:24 AM  

Uh...not quite. He said he wouldn't shut up. I think he couldn't care less if you knew his opinions.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

Agree with Rex...played much more like a tough Wednesday than anything close to a Tuesday. Came in 3 minutes over my Tuesday average, which is an eternity. Never could establish much of a flow.

SNOCAPS? Seriously? Never had one, don't recall ever wanting one or even seeing them at the concession counter. DOTS. Yes. Milk Duds? Absolutely. But SNOCAPS?

mmorgan 8:32 AM  

Very nice puzzle, clever themers, but a humiliating DNF in the NE for me. Didn't know ACTIVIA, couldn't figure out what to do with ___TENDS, couldn't place FS1, and couldn't come up with SUMO. Sigh. At least I had no prob with GOGO!

Jofried 8:47 AM  

What a fun puzzle! Smooth sailing and beat my average Tuesday time. I too was confused by the FRANKENSTEIN clue as I am in the middle of reading an article in The New Yorker about Mary Shelley and it’s very clear that the monster had no name, while it’s creator was FRANKENSTEIN.

@Anonymous 8:24, SNOCAPS are delicious and very common at movie concession stands. You should try them!

Unknown 8:47 AM  

I liked the puzzle and agree on degree of difficulty being more like a Wednesday. The Oleg and Olaf/Olav still gets me tied up sometimes. Moved steadily but slowly through this and ended up really stuck in NE. Finally HIGH DEFINITION fell into place and then ACTIVIA came and unlocked the rest. I liked the SUMO clue and haven’t seen the word BLUDGEON in a long time. Satisfying puzzle but I hope it’s not a harbinger for the rest of the week. I enjoy the mini puzzle every day so thanks for a double header today Joel.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

A really great Wednesday puzzle.

QuasiMojo 8:54 AM  

I had no problems with this puzzle today. Nice job Joel. For the record, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein's creation had no bolts. It was the inspired idea of Jack Pierce, the make-up artist who transformed Boris Karloff into "Monster."

CAHILL was on TCM recently and I was not surprised it has a BLAH Rotten Tomatoes rating.

I guess Miss DiFranco is replacing the cuckoo bird in post-Maleska puzzles.

@NANCY, I managed to complete two of your witty anagram puzzlers, but am still grappling with DIABOLICAL.

TomAz 8:57 AM  

This puzzle was fine. Finished in almost exactly my average Tuesday time. Like every Good American of a certain ages, I know exactly what Frankenstein looks like from watching hours of reruns of the Munsters when I was a kid. GOGO is a service I subscribe to and am very familiar with. SNOCAPS just sort of came to me, I can picture them although I don't really ever recall eating one.

ACTIVIA slowed me down a bit as did LAGS/GIN UP for some reason. And EDNA FERBER. All gettable though.

I agree with Rex that HIGH DEFINITION works better than the other two themers, but, whatever, it was fine.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  
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jberg 9:05 AM  

@Brett—Thanks for that. I put it in thinking “shouldn’t that be Taoism?” But that would have been an unacceptable clue.

Bob Mills 9:09 AM  

Nice puzzle. Did anyone else mistake "_____blogging" for "____-boggling" as I did? Couldn't figure out why "MIND" wasn't the correct answer.

Jeff 9:15 AM  

Surprisingly, I found this to be easier than most. The NE came easy, as I knew FS1/ESPN, AMOI and CAMUS immediately. I love Jamie Lee Curtis, so ACTIVIA was a gimme. I guess it *finally* paid off to be a sports-loving French minor.

QuasiMojo 9:19 AM  

Oh I forgot to mention that I read a report online that you have to eat 80 Activia in one sitting to get the benefits they advertise. I guess that’s fine so long as you don’t get diabetes first from the added sugars.

jberg 9:20 AM  

C’mon, @Rex— 5 letter French philosopher? Should be a gimme.

I took the clue for LEXICOGRAPHERS to mean that the other theme clues were copied from a dictionary—fair enough IMO.

As for SNO-CAPS, I got it from crosses without noticing. At one point I just had the initial S and thought “Oh no, it’s going to be a singular skittle, and we’ll have a big argument.”

Better clue for 37D: “Chinese religious concept that sounds like a stock market index.”

Themed for yesterday: Rowdy fun / Stealing printer supplies = HIGHJ(ACK)INKS. (I’ve long suffered from staircase wit.)

Mohair Sam 9:26 AM  

Tough Wednesday puzzle but we battled through (this week is flying by, isn't it?). The two longest downs were gimmes here and we still struggled. Had to love it though, something new and damned clever.

I always say it's not the constructor's fault if a puzzle appears on the wrong day. But I guess this time it is.

Dumas before CAMUS - anybody else? Great clue for BARTENDS. And never heard of SNOCAPS - ever since popcorn and a Coke totaled over ten bucks I've smuggled a box of Dots ($1) and a small water ($.35) into the flickers (our local supermarket has a section called "movie candy"). I'm wondering how many years in jail if I get caught. Years ago I got involved in a deal where a PANDG subsidiary was on the other side - tough businesspeople. It was a win/win situation, but they would have won everything. They followed the Golden Rule (He Who Has the Gold Rules) - we backed out.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

The clue for SUMO isn't funny just obnoxious.

Hartley70 9:29 AM  

This was the toughest Tuesday I can remember. I couldn't get a toehold in that little NW corner for the longest time! I started it last night and couldn't believe how little I could fill and found it a bit easier this morning. I'm giving it a Friday rating.

The theme made no sense to me as I was solving and only in retrospect, and with some reassurance from Rex, could I understand what the constructor intended.

I've never paid attention to Frankenstein's neck. If I was younger than dirt, I couldn't have wrested CAHILL and EDNAFERBER out from behind the cobwebs in that back section of my brain. I didn't know GOGO, ITOO or DOUG or where Ali was born. I was trying to guess from his accent, so I was pretty sure it wasn't Boston.

If Joel intended to keep me humble on a Tuesday, he sure succeeded.

Daniel 9:38 AM  

Think of all the electric and human energy we could save if we’d all just allow that Frankenstein’s monster is also named Frankenstein.

Z 9:39 AM  

Can we put @Brett’s comment on everybody’s screen before they try to post anything stating without condition that an answer is “wrong?” Well stated and informative explanation of why a clue is less than good. The comment is much appreciated here.

ACTIVIA is a perfect example of the constructor crutch that is brand names. Almost a real word with well placed vowels and just known enough through the miracle of saturation marketing with the still beautiful Jamie Lee Curtis that you can justify its use in a xword. Nevertheless, it is a crap answer. And look at that TROMP crossing. What is that? Number 13 on the top ten list of onomatopoeic words for loud walking? Curses on the Crap Product Name that leads to obscure onomatopoeia.

Otherwise, I like this fine. Agreed that HIGH DEFINITION is best because of the change to DEFINITION, but the other two were cute. Also glad that we went with three themers and a reveal. Except for the NE this meant the fill didn’t suffer.

Regarding CAHILL, hand up for just filling in two L’s because that was a likely name. I watched High Noon last night, a role John Wayne allegedly turned down because of the fairly obvious anti-blacklisting metaphor. Hard to imagine anyone being pro-HUAC but there you go.

As for HUFFPOST, hand up for not knowing that was its name. Mostly an aggregator infamous for treating the actual content creators poorly, it is not a site I read. News gathering costs money. If you read news make sure the reporters are getting paid.

Unknown 9:39 AM  

Don't know if Rex would agree, but methinks the NYT xword mavens made a New Year Resolution to toughen up M-Th puzzles to scare off the amateurs.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

This puzzle took me 95% of my average Tuesday puzzle time, based on more than three years of electronic tallying.
It was not only not a Wednesday puzzle, but it was one of the best Tuesday offerings we've seen in a while.
How is it possible to fill in "high definition," read the clue (either before or after), and NOT understand what's going on. Rex needs better drugs. Seriously.

Malsdemare 9:50 AM  
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Malsdemare 9:55 AM  

I liked the nod to my dirt poor Irish grandmother, Mary Cahill, who married a handsome scoundrel and had two boys before he took off for parts unknown. She worked like crazy, as did her sons, and one became a well-respected Lawyer (oxymoron there), the other, my dad, a beloved physician. Hats off to ye, grandma.

Sir Hillary 10:08 AM  

So, it's a sin to declare an answer "wrong" but acceptable to declare it "crap". With no real explanation. Hmm, no wonder I can never follow along here. Whatever.

Anyhoo, I loved this puzzle, especially its Wed-Thu toughness on a Tuesday. As if it weren't hard enough, I confidently wrote in diet at 12D. Oops. Great clue.

CAHILL is a toughie, which I basically inferred after getting the CAH. I am familiar with tennis commentator Darren, but not sure that's any better than what we got.

I hate GOGO. It's a ripoff and fails half the time. I wish airlines would just jack ticket prices by $10, then offer Wi-Fi for "free". Everyone would feel better. Or maybe just I would.

I just realized something stupid: If CAMUS had a daughter named Amy, you could reverse both her names into the dreaded crossword goddess Yma Sumac. OK, I think I need to stop doing so many puzzles...

Jamie C 10:09 AM  

OTOH, can't explain away the Frankenstein clue. It's just wrong.

RJ 10:09 AM  

I'm so glad I read the blog this morning because I finished well over my Tuesday time. AT first I thought it was due to waking at 5 am and realizing I forgot to set the coffee maker on auto, so I started this puzzle while waiting. I figure that added at least 5 minutes to my time...

I love the comments today, @Brett. You are absolutely right about TAO - it fit and it's Chinese - so it further reinforced my ignorance. When I was talking about this my son, who recently graduated with a degree in Chinese Language/Lit, rolled his eyes and started on a rant about the mis-understanding of Confuscianism and other non-Christian religions.

I also wanted to say @Brett that as a chemist I find the chemistry cluing often ridiculous to the extreme. A lot of the work I do involves characterizing urethane coatings; the cluing for this word the other day, while technically correct, seems very out of date. There are so many other good choices.

I had a lot of mistakes first thing - like KNOB instead of BOLT (it was 5 am - no coffee!) and STOMP instead of TROMP. I don't have regular TV service so I don't see many television ads for ACTIVIA and I usually buy STONYFIELD or CHOBANI. Once I realized HIGH DEFINITION the others filled in and I got the theme (unusual for me - I don't usually get it until after I've completed the puzzle)

Like most days, I get lucky with answers that just look right such as CAHILL - I can't even think of another 6 letter name beginning with CAH. Never heard the phrase GINUP and lots of guesses on the proper names today.

Lots of Fun overall

Nancy 10:13 AM  

Hints for @Quasi (8:54) -- Begin DIABOLICAL (and all of these puzzles) at the blank(s) for which there are the fewest possible answers. What parts of the body are connected to sweating? What are long passages comprised of? Keep the faith that I've played completely fair. Congrats on getting the other two. I'll supply answers to all three anagram puzzles after 9 p.m. tonight, assuming, of course, that I remember:)

@Hartley (9:29)-- I knew one could be older than dirt. I didn't know that one could be younger than dirt.

I'm absolutely delighted to see that almost everyone loves this puzzle, even though it's a harder-than-usual Tuesday that may adversely impact one's average "solving time". (I'm so glad I don't have an average Tuesday "solving time" to be spoiled.) Just imagine if I said: "It's Monday (or Tuesday), so you're only allowed to eat at McDonald's. You can't have an interesting meal before Wednesday, and you can't have a really interesting meal before Thursday." That's how I feel about mandating very easy and totally mindless puzzles on Monday and Tuesday. I don't know if @Nat Erlich (9:39) is correct, but I sure hope he is!

Malsdemare 10:14 AM  

It doesn't matter to me if the difficulty level of a puzzle is appropriate to the day it runs, though I can see that people just starting out might appreciate the gradual increase in challenge. I enjoyed being tested this am; BLUDGEON, ABASE, TROMP, were good and slow coming to me. I was interviewed by HUFFPOST when I marched in DC, but it’s HUFFPO to me so that was slow arriving. I had PLATeNUM first for the credit card designation and wondered how long ago it was that cards were plates; finally getting LEXICOGRAPHERS fixed that.

I think what I liked most was that this required a different form of thought; there was no trick to catch, no "aha" moment. Just an exercise in reading the clue and uncovering its essence.

I enjoyed it. [reposting to fix my errors.]

GILL I. 10:23 AM  

Thank you, Joel for a fabu Tuesday. I was crossing my fingers we wouldn't have a fight today...
Well, I did a lot of staring. I thought please lord, don't make me Google on easy red-headed step-daughter day. I didn't but I was tempted. Could not remember DOUG Jones, had Chobani before that over-priced ACTIVIA and was trying to remember what VILLE Ali was from. Finally got HIGH DEFINITION and went ok, wow, I mean really neat. I'm loving this. When I was finished, I looked at the grid and thought how fresh.
CAHILL also gave me trouble. I don't know why because I've seen every single John Wayne movie. My favorite was his Rooster in True Grit. I gather CAHILL wasn't his best effort - but still...:-o.
SNO CAPS was a huh. I haven't bought candy in a movie theater in forever. I sneak my snacks in (Hi @Mohair) and I'll even put a little bottle of wine in my oversized purse. One time I even made myself a little scotch on the rocks and took it into the theatre in a used Pepsi container.
I remember when getting PLATINUM credit card was so important. I think it costs like $500 dollars to get an AMEX one. Now, you just use your credit card a few times and they up-grade you to PLATINUM hoping you'll whip the fancy card out at every opportunity and become indebted to them for 30 years.
Not a BLAH nor a SNUB in sight...just very nice "That hits the spot!" AHH.

Canon Chasuble 10:26 AM  

After yesterday's insipid entry, today's was an absolute delight, and absolutely easy. Once again, though, I got the 4 across "tricks" by just filling in the blanks from the down clues, and paid no attention to the across clues themselves. Wang and Maleska training comes in handy.
Don't disparage them. And today's puzzle, thankfully, was almost free from proper nouns, rap musicians, TV roles, and the like. For me, Cahill and Activia almost filled themselves in. A truly enjoyable puzzle.

old timer 10:35 AM  

CAHILL was the long-time Chief of Police when I moved to San Francisco years ago. So I had no trouble guessing it. Tough for a Tuesday but enoyable I thought.

RooMonster 10:39 AM  

Hey All !
Good dictionary puz. It is a crossWORD after all. I don't share the exuberant enthusiasm that some of y'all have for this, OTOH, it also was by no means bad. Seems to be on the appropriate day IMHO. QED (Enough initialisms for ya?😋)

Nice to see a MPFC nod, MEANING OF LIFE.
Is a selfies where you cut off the head in the picture a FACE SNUB?
I can't hear you, LALAlala.
Is an idea a NOGGIN TOGGLE?

Brilliant name choice for SNOCAPS, wondering if they went through sugar-something. SugarCaps. Har.


mathgent 10:40 AM  

Wonderful. It has everything that I admire in a crossword.

Wouldn't it be great if this were the new standard for Tuesdays?

Is anyone keeping track? It seems that the average number of comments has gone up at least ten percent since they have begun to be screened. (The system isn't perfect, however. I saw an offensive one today.)

andy 10:45 AM  
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Stephen Minehart 10:46 AM  

This was a great puzzle, even if it was closer to Wednesday difficulty. My Tuesday and Wednesday times are almost identical, so it's hard for me to evaluate. I struggled a little in the NE because I really wanted STOMP instead of TROMP, and had to fill out the rest of BARTENDER to finally give up on STOMP.

JC66 10:56 AM  
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Anonymous 10:56 AM  
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JC66 10:57 AM  

re : CAHILL @REX said:

Not even a movie in the clue? (Not that that would've helped).

For some reason, I find this hilarious. How else do we know John Wayne. Opera? Figure skating? Economics?


You may have one letter wrong.

John 10:57 AM  

I liked this one. Tough for a Tuesday. It would be a better fit for a Wednesday.

Anoa Bob 10:58 AM  

The theme didn't work as well for me as it seems to have work for most everyone else. I agree that HIGH DEFINITION does the job nicely. It has a double meaning; the obvious, in-the-language, stand alone meaning of, say, many pixels per square centimeter, and, the theme related meaning of "being under the influence of a drug".

OVER EXPLAINED (one or two words?) also has the dual meanings and, although it is an intelligible LEXICOGRAPHical phrase, but doesn't have the obvious, often seen as a unit, stand alone quality like HIGH DEFINITION does. It has more of an ad hoc, put together specifically for this puzzle feel to it for me.

MEANING OF LIFE, while joining HIGH DEFINITION in stand aloneness cred, seems to me not to have the double meaning the other two have. Either way you read it, it's just the MEANING OF LIFE.

So of the three themers, I'm seeing only HIGH DEFINITION as having both stand aloneness and a theme-related double meaning, and the other two as having one but not both of those qualities.

The reveal seemed anticlimactic. Ho hum even, and a POC at that. Maybe a fourth themer with something like WEBSTER as a reveal would have worked better.

Dick Sward 11:02 AM  

@mathgent Yes comment quantity is up, but quality is down. Now we can get our fill of vapid, milquetoast, genial, proper verbiage approved by big brother.
No thanks.

Unknown 11:03 AM  

Would XVI crossing NINTH in the center of the grid be considered middle squares?

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:10 AM  

This was my fastest Tuesday at 5:52. I'm not a fast solver at all, some late week puzzles still take me about an hour, so I'm surprised that this gets a "Challenging" from Rex. It's all subjective, I guess.

This was a very good, heck, the best Tuesday puzzle as far as I remember. A very solid and entertaining-without-gimmicks theme, above-average clues for a Tuesday puzzle, smooth as silk (although I guess that depends on getting lucky). There were some problems with the fill, but the long answers were so great the junk was a worthy sacrifice. EDNAFERBER with her full name for a change! ACTIVIA! Good stuff.

And yes, "Battle of the bulges?" is an amazing clue.

GRADE: A-, 4.05 stars.

Moly Shu 11:16 AM  

Seemed like a normal Tuesday to me, but CAHILL, SNIOCAPS, and LOUISVILLE were gimmies. Got the theme early at HIDEF, so that probably helped also. slap before DAUB and AdOg before ABOY, only 2 missteps. Thought it was just right for a Tuesday.
@SteveReed, I think you greatly underestimate the narcissism of king James. I’m all for athletes, actors, heck anyone having and expressing a political opinion. But don’t be surprised or offended when someone who disagrees with that opinion criticizes you. Hell, it happens to me all the time.

Joseph Michael 11:20 AM  

AHH. Finally. Some imaginative wordplay to spice up a Tuesday.

Would have liked a fourth dictionary entry instead of the musty LEXICOGRAPHERS, but I ain't complaining when the rest of the puzzle is this good.

And I for one welcome a Tuesday puzzle with a little bite. The rules about which puzzles go on which days don't have to be so rigid.

Thought Rex would flip out over the veiled tribute at 19A to the current resident of the White House. Maybe this was a reject from yesterday's Presidents theme.

Thank you, Joel. I'm happy you decided to GIN UP our Tuesday morning.

Stanley Hudson 11:20 AM  

What a blast for a Tuesday! Thank you Joel Fagliano.

@Brett, thank you for your cogent and intelligent post on Taoism.

Grateful that I live in a country where LeBron James, Two Ponies, and whatever her name is--Laura Ingraham?--can exercise their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Whatever her name is has invited LeBron to appear on her show.

LeBron, by the way, has sponsored scholarships for a 1000 young people in the Akron, Ohio area to attend college.

Masked and Anonymous 11:31 AM  

Only 72 words. Av word length = 5.14. Can see why this TuesPuz could play a tad hard-ish.
Which is just fine by me … more feist for yer money. Altho, I musta sorta been on the Fagliano wavelength, becuz the solvequest went pretty smooth -- I hardly noticed the extra feist.

staff weeject pick: XVI. I can not keep my French king numbers straight. Did this Louis have a nickname, kinda like Ivan the Terrible? Maybe that'd help. How'bout Louis the Ville?

Wow that NINTH prez only lasted 32 days in office.

n. escape artist stray dog: MUTTEXPOUNDED.

Thanx, Mr. Fagliano. Sooo … from yer inside point-of-view: is this what y'all think the future of TuesPuzs should look like? Like yer runtpuzs, btw.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


puzzlehoarder 11:31 AM  

Yesterday's puzzle was so uneventful I couldn't think of anything worth commenting on. Today I felt like I was being BLUDGEONed.

It was all very doable in the end but must have required at least twice the normal time and probably a little more. I forgot to note my start time so I was spared that humiliation.

This puzzle had a Saturday level of debut material. GOGO isn't listed as one but by its cluing it certainly is. I don't recall ever seeing FS1 before either.

The theme entries jacked the difficulty level up in and of themselves. After finishing I had to read them over several times to understand what was going on.

I find it ironic that we have armchair LEXICOGRSPHERS lecturing us on TAO. The trigger word is usually "way" or "path." The other clue word could have been "Asian" as easily as "Confucian." If you're looking for an education try college.

Pete 11:31 AM  

@Molly Shu - There's criticism, and there's someone telling you to "shut up and dance, boy" which is what Laura Ingraham really said, translated for your convenience.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Two Ponies 11:39 AM  

If LeBron can't save us there's always Jennifer Lawrence.

Skill in one area does not give you credentials in all.
Mother Teresa probably wouldn't have been much of a sports referee.

Unknown 11:45 AM  

Actually, the other word would've been much more easily "Asian" which is why the unforced error of "Confucian" is so strange.

Barry Frain 11:46 AM  

And I find it ironic that someone who can't spell "lexicographers" correctly would lecture anyone on anything.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

jb129 11:50 AM  

Tough for a Tuesday, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Moly Shu 11:56 AM  

@Pete, first off it’s Moly, rhymes with holy. Sheesh. Second, she can say whatever she wants, see @StanleyHudson. No translation needed. How many people that agree with king James or Kaepernick or Ben Bishop (look him up) would say “shut up and play”? None, I’m guessing.
@TwoPonies, fair point. But I would have liked to see her running up and down the court.

Missy 11:56 AM  

Why does that bother you so? You certainly feel free to let all the blog readers your political opinions. It's still America!

Kimberly 12:11 PM  

Cahill:US Marshall is every day famous as long as you’re not a zygote or grew up in an isolated religious cult where TVs were considered the devil’s podium.

And if you read the huffington post it’s pretty hard to miss the giant all-caps HUFFPOST at the top of every page. “HuffPo” (which autocorrects to HuffPost, by the way) sounds like something said by the wankers who call pizza “za.”

This was a great puzzle. The theme popped up fast and easy with the downs revealing the word “definition” pretty quickly, so the rest of the themes were fun, trying to figure out what synonym of “definition” they would use.

Most enjoyable puzzle in a while. Easy, but clever enough to overcome that, and that’s all I ask.

Only downide is that I’m not a fan of BARTENDS as a verb. It’s TENDS BAR. Bartenders tend a bar. You’d never say that an automaker automakes or a bookmaker bookmakes (although come to think of it, babysitters don’t actually sit babies, do they).

Missy 12:11 PM  
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Carola 12:17 PM  

Super Tuesday! I, TOO, found it challenging: I got the theme idea with the first DEFINITION, but the tricky clues and a few unknown PPP kept me skipping (not SLOGging) around a good bit.

Do-overs: mInd-"boggling" (hi, @Bob Mills) before LIVE, tapE, as a target of splicing, and SpAMS, with an eye roll at the dopey plural.

Looking back at my grid in the newspaper just now, I see I DNF - I left GO?O x A?ES blank. I know, what could it be besides a G? But after ICE AGE, I couldn't believe it.

Moly Shu 12:17 PM  

I meant Tim Thomas not Ben Bishop, my bad. This politickin is hard stuff. Onomatopoeia-ic goalies and all.

Kimberly 12:22 PM  

Forgot to applaud @brett’s comment about Taoism. The Confucion thing threw me but the word “path” combined with any reference to eastern religion will usually light the “way” (heh) to the answer for me. It did feel a bit culturally ignorant, though. Then again, the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao; the name that can be named is not the eternal name. 😉 Perhaps the best way to answer the clue would be to leave the squares blank. Without the empty squares, the answered clue would have no fill.

Kimberly 12:29 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Odd Sock 12:31 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amelia 12:50 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 12:51 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 1:01 PM  

NINTH Prez … only lasted 32 days in office …
Louis the Ville … guillotined ...
yo, @Lewis -- Talk about yer TERM UP dealies. Ker-TROMP. Them was the days.

@RP: I sorta knew CAHILL. Zeroed in on it better, once I had that middle "H".
Did learn new stuff, what with: GOGO and CAMUS, tho.
But, hey -- ornery, but fun.


ColoradoCog 1:01 PM  

I also bristled at the TAO clue, for the reasons @Brett gave. Just a few days ago we saw “Greeting in Guangzhou” as NIHAO. I and a few others noted that NIHAO is Mandarin, not Cantonese. Mandarin may be the offical language, but Cantonese is what you would associate with Guangzhou. Cantonese is what you would hear on the street. I likened it to cluing HELLO as “Greeting in Hawaii.” Given how precise every word in a clue is expected to be, we would be up in arms if we saw this. Clues about non-American culture/language/religion should be just as tightly edited. Anything less, as @Brett said, reinforces cluelessness.

Teedmn 1:03 PM  

If I could provide you with a photo of my solve today, you would see a bounding main of black ink in the NE. East of NIA and north of ADD ON was blank. I wrote in HIGH DEFINITION but then took out the last five letters due to wanting "diet" at 12D, totally ignoring the ? on that clue. I used to eat ACTIVIA yogurt every day (not for years now though) but all I could think of was a completely made up in my brain product profinA. What? Exactly.

Finally I noticed I hadn't read 11D's clue. AMOI gave me back the ITION on my HIGH DEFINITION and SUMO BLUDGEONed me like a ton of bulges.

I was glad to change my SpAMS down at 64A, anticipating one more "that's not a good plural" argument here. And from NO____ at 47D, I splatzed in NOodle and then had to refeather my NEST when I checked the crosses.

Nice Tuesday Joel, though I agree with @Rex's "challenging" rating, for a Tuesday.

Z 1:05 PM  

@Sir Hillary - Recognizing that you’re just pulling my chain but also realizing from experience that many won’t know the difference, a little explication... There’s a big difference between stating a “fact” that is almost never a fact (an answer is wrong) and stating an opinion while playing with the essence of an answer (ACTIVIA is “crap”and also helps one...).

@Moly Shu - You and me both. Still, going after an African-American celebrity for answering questions when one invites such intellectual luminaries as Kid Rock and Ted Nugent on your show is a sure way to become the poster child for hypocrisy on Twitter. Personally, I can’t stand the kind of athlete who adopts the nickname “King James,” but the person keeps doing stuff that makes it hard to hate him.

@mathgent - it looks like moderation has gone from pre-screening to deleting after the fact. I see lots of “deleted by blog administrator” to go with all the usual “removed by author.”

@Amelia - I don’t think Rex said this puzzle was bad. Also, his comment was that “HuffPo” is more “in the language than “HuffPost.” I’m not sure about that. I can say, though, that it is entirely possible to use Twitter, for example, as a news feed and have no idea what the “official name” is. I follow almost exclusively liberal sites and I had no idea what the HUFFPOST icon looks like or what their site branding looks like. I did notice when I clicked Rex’s link that the url is still, so I assume the branding is some AOL thing.

emily 1:27 PM  

Hey thanks!

tea73 1:33 PM  

Wednesday time for me to.

I recently reread L'Etranger by CAMUS along with the new(ish)Meursaul contre-enquête by Kamel Daoud, an Algerian writer so that was a gimmee. Liked the former much better than I did as a high school senior struggling in AP French class.

I only had the first themer when I got the reveal, so that actually helped as I had some incorrect stuff blocking me from seeing the other ones.

I put in CAHILL based on the CAH__, but I've never heard of that movie. I took a film class in college where we watched a lot of westerns too.

For a while I had Ali being from LOsangLes. Oops.

Agree that Tao has very little to do with Confucianism that I can remember anyway.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Willful Ignorance Fighter 1:41 PM  

I'm an award winning Sinologist and can tell you with confidence that Taoism and Confucianism are about as closely related as Christianity is with Zoroastrianism.

Alicia Stetson 1:46 PM  

@two ponies "Skill in one area does not give you credentials in all." So,for example, being a rich playboy tv star/real estate dealer doesn't qualify one for elected office? Excellent argument against our current president, I'd say.

JC66 1:55 PM  



Just sayin.

Unknown 2:29 PM  

Noticed that only one person in this chain commented on the error: Louis XVIII was the executed king, not Louis XVI. Seems like more people would see that.

Joe Bleaux 2:34 PM  

Yup. My only writeover.

Dick Swart 3:11 PM  

A great puzzle! Saw the gimmick early enough. Had to check calendar ... thought it was Friday.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

I'm surprised so many people are mentioning never having heard of Sno-Caps.

I've been doing puzzles from early 2017 in the archives (just recently subscribed to NYT crosswords) and I think I've come across Sno-Caps multiple times in 60 puzzles. Looking at data for 2009-2016 "SNO" clued specifically by sno-caps shows up about 1-3x/year. Snoballs is a little more common.

Z 3:39 PM  

Louis XVI lost his head.
Louis XVIII did not.

Stanley Hudson 3:41 PM  

@Unknown 2:29 PM, as the resident historian who reads this blog, I have to gently correct you: it was indeed Louis XVI who was executed, not Louis XVIII, who died a natural death in the post-Napoleonic period.

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

Also for me, thought 19A was PLODS...

Paul Rippey 4:07 PM  

Like GILL I, I remembered John Wayne’s part in True Grit, and confidently started to write in Cogburn instead of CAHILL. Hm. Didn’t fit. Had I misremembered? Maybe it was just Coburn? I tried that for a while. Never heard of CAHILL, got it finally from the crosses, what seemed like hours later. Okay, it wasn’t hours, but that was a bad wrong turn.

DavidL 4:29 PM  

@Z 9:39, are you saying that clues are never just factually, unambiguously wrong? Well...sometimes they are.

Thought today's puzzle was clever and tight. Liked the clue "Veiled oath" for IDO.

James Wesley, Rawles 4:54 PM  

When you live in the White Redoubt, you don't get out much.

Z 4:56 PM  

@DavidL - See the first paragraph of my 1:05 comment (and several million other comments over the past six or seven years - you’d think I’d be desensitized to “wrong” comments by now). I could try shorthand (“See FAQ #16”) but it’s pretty clear that the “wrong” commenters don’t even know there is an FAQ page.

@Gill I - Who? Me? No. Not me. Besides, do I really have to count 3:39 as a comment? I mean, if it weren’t for the sheer schadenfreude of seeing “This comment has been removed by a blog administrator” I’d probably be outside enjoying the unseasonably warm weather rather than linking to Wikipedia articles.

Joe Dipinto 5:07 PM  

@Nancy -- Hey hey, I figured out DIABOLICAL, now I just have to solve HANK before you post the answers (or before I read them).

I enjoyed today's puzz. Yeah, maybe it was a little more difficult than an average Tuesday, but the theme was clever and the fill was pretty tight, so no complaints from me.

Joe Dipinto 5:13 PM  

Annnnnd...I just got HANK for the trifecta! Very clever verses, @Nancy! Do post more in the future. :-)

Chip Hilton 5:42 PM  

Tough timing for 3-down. LOUISVILLE basketball stripped of an NCAA Championship after their appeal was turned down. Apparently, it’s wrong to use strippers et al to attract recruits. Who knew?

jae 6:00 PM  

Very tough Tues. for me too, but a fine puzzle!

QuasiMojo 6:37 PM  

Got it! @Nancy -- the Triad complete. Brava. Loved it!

Cassius Clay 7:09 PM  

There’s a great song by Freakwater called Louisville Lip. It’s about a gold medal at the bottom of the 2nd St. bridge.

Banana Diaquiri 7:43 PM  

ya gotta admit. Confucianism doesn't have a 3 letter nickname. or does it????

Doc John 8:53 PM  

Not to mention the presence of both AGES and AGE in the same puzzle.

Nancy 9:49 PM  

Congrats to @Joe Dipinto, @Quasi, and anyone else who got all three anagrammed puzzles.
SPOILER ALERT -- Answers below:

DIABOLICAL: poser, pores, ropes, prose, spore
HANK: regal, large, lager, glare
BAD MEAL: sinew, wines, swine, wisen

Malsdemare 10:17 PM  

@Nancy. I figured out Diabolical! I'm going to ignore your posted answers until I get the other two. Thanks for the fun challenge.

Ian 10:25 PM  

Can someone explain smoked salmon = nova??

phibetakitty 10:29 PM  

What I love about your puzzles is how impossible they seem right up to the moment when the right answer comes glimmering up from the depths of my brain. I also like testing the discovery against all remaining clues creating multiple aha moments.

I started reading this blog in order to find out what was going on in answers or clues I couldn’t understand. The aggregate knowledge here is really nice. Loved learning the connection between bounding main and mainland for example.

Joe Dipinto 10:45 PM  

@Nancy & Quasi -- High fives all around! That was really fun!

phibetakitty 10:50 PM  

I also like how people can come here, say they don’t understand an answer or clue, and have it nicely explained right away with no disparaging comments about how stupid they are. And they can keep saying “I still don’t get it” and people keep helping.

I also like Rex’s filling out the reviews with pictures, clips, and articles. It takes time and care to do that.

Yes, I’m adding to comment quantity here. Sorry to be so milquetoast and genial ha ha.

Joe Dipinto 10:53 PM  

@Ian Newbould -- Not an expert, but I believe Nova lox (smoked salmon from Nova Scotia) was shortened to Nova in popular parlance.

JC66 10:53 PM  

@Ian Newbould

NOVA is an anagram of vaon.

Just kidding. Smoked salmon (lox) frequently commends from Nova Scotia.

So when I go to Zabar's I order "a half a pound of NOVA, thin sliced."

JC66 10:54 PM  

@Joe D

As usual, I was typing as you were posting.

JC66 10:57 PM  


I ain't a great typist.

Joe Dipinto 11:01 PM  

@jc66 -- well you gave me a great late-evening laugh. VAON? Have a good night my friend.

Little Anthony 11:16 PM  

That was no Tuesday. I had to revisit several times.

JC66 11:42 PM  

@Joe D

Thanks, AVON wouldn't have had the same effect, right?

Joe Dipinto 12:21 AM  

@JC66 -- VAON was better for sure.

Hungry Mother 1:51 AM  

A bit Thursdayish for me, vut very doable.

kitshef 4:13 PM  

Agree it played hard for a Tuesday - but I really enjoyed it.

In a puzzle with Muhammad Ali in it I find it quite painful that people still question an athlete's obligation to speak out.

Burma Shave 9:22 AM  


EDNAFERBER OVEREXPLAINED, while using GOGO TODO some bloggin’:


rondo 10:37 AM  

Best Tues-puz in memory. And easy. A perfect example of where a non-speed solver will notice no difference in solve time while getting the proper enjoyment from the puz. HIGHDEFINITION showed the way and made the other themers easier since I already knew what was going on.

Doesn’t everyone know Fox Sports One (FS1) by now?

@D,LIW – if you’re back from your excursion out east - NOVA! Clued just your way.

Rightoeus Babe Records’ ANI DiFranco always gets a yeah baby in my book.

Thought this puz was a really good one TODO.

Diana, LIW 11:19 AM  


Whoa, whoa...don't shake the floors jumping up and down.

Haven't read puz or comments as I must yet retrieve Tues - hope to see y'all later.

ACPT was fUntastic. Ms. @Teed in excellent form, finished in the upper half. I helped make sure we all KNEW that there were more than 600 participants - let's just say my ranking began with a 6. I blame Puzzle #5 totally. I believe it was written in Klingon.

Off to search for wandering puzzle...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crossword Puzzles of a Lifetime

Diana, LIW 11:22 AM  

Well! My comment was eaten. And it was so great.

I'm back from ACPT - where my ranking was truly rank. Six hundred something. Ms. @Teed was in great form, however.

fUntastic time at Stamford. Now, I'm off to find the puzzle (haven't yet read puz or comments)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana, LIW 11:24 AM  

Well! My comment was eaten. And it was so great.

I'm back from ACPT - where my ranking was truly rank. Six hundred something. Ms. @Teed was in great form, however.

fUntastic time at Stamford. Now, I'm off to find the puzzle (haven't yet read puz or comments)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana, LIW 11:25 AM  

puzzledom is asleep..... Lady Di

spacecraft 11:32 AM  

The most grossly misplaced puzzle ever, IMO. Try, like, Friday. I had to guess and fight my way through this whole thing. Who the hell is DOUG Jones? Or are we expected to commit all 100 senators to memory? #17 was a Natick right out of the gate. A BID is a "creation??" It was just luck that none of the other 25 made any sense whatsoever.

Nor did the SLOG improve. Here comes a RRN--actually, a RKL (random King Louis). And then, right next to it--the centerpiece!!!--is an ampersandwich!

Yeah, yeah, the theme is cute (watch out for the comic's elbow), but...GOGO? No idea as clued. GOGO should meet TODO; maybe they'll say IDO. SUMO can be best man. Last letter? #61. GINUP??? Wha?? Again, just lucky that no other letter worked.

As soon as I saw ACTIVIA, I saw an image of spokeshottie Jamie Lee Curtis, who thereby blew away all other DOD competition. Perhaps if this puzzle had appeared on, say, Friday, I might have been kinder. Bogey.

Diana, LIW 1:48 PM  

NOVA says it all. (Hi @R)

Got all but the NE corner, with an ACTIVA brain lapse. Oh well.

As I said, ACPT was a blast. And Philadelphia was buried in snow - NOT. Only in the weather peeps' minds; however, the city was "closed" one day out of "fear for weather." Even CVS. Unheard of.

Sorry for the above re-postings - a West Coast delay no doubt.

Good to be home.

Lady Di

fakt chekker 1:59 PM  

DOUG Jones - recently won the former seat of R - Jeff Sessions via special election; first Democratic senator elected in Alabama in just about forever.

"Creation of" may have been more aptly worded as "Offer by" in order to pin down a BID.

leftcoastTAM 2:29 PM  

Agree with @spacecraft that this could be a Friday puzzle.

No matter, it is cleverly themed, challenging, interesting-- and fun, after figuring it out. LEXICOGRAPHERS indeed.

Liked non-theme LOUISVILLE and BARTENDS, both very good misdirects.

This was not a SLOG

geeless 3:31 PM  

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geeless 3:31 PM  

Thank you for sharing that information.

Michael5000 10:17 PM  

Man, that was one hard Tuesday puzzle.

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