Pharaoh honored near Aswan / WED 8-22-18 / Apple application that's now banned / Tool with tapering blade / hi lois pooch / title of trash collector's memoir

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Constructor: John Lampkin

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:20)

THEME: MB—>MP —wacky letter-change stuff

Theme answers:
  • READY TO RUMPLE (20A: "You think the blanket needs messing up?")
  • RULE OF THUMP (36A: Guideline for testing watermelon ripeness?)
  • SLUMPERLAND (43A: Whence slouches?)
  • DUMP AND DUMPER (58A: Title of a trash collector's memoir?)
Word of the Day: TANIA Mallet (47A: Actress Mallet of "Goldfinger") —
Tania Mallet (born 19 May 1941) is an English model and actress who is best known for her appearance as Tilly Masterson in the James Bond film Goldfinger (1964). [...] Tania is cousin of actress Helen Mirren. [...] Despite the film's phenomenal success, Goldfinger would be Mallet's only major big screen appearance. (wikipedia)
• • •

The NYT can't be this desperate for wacky Wednesday puzzles. Changing UMP to UMB ... well, it's a thing you can do, but as you can see from this puzzle, it's hard to see the upside. The themers simply don't come together, by and large. This is an example of a letter-change that one *can* do ... but, given the weak results, one probably *shouldn't* do (or, now, I guess, have done). If we accept the basic premise here (i.e. that just changing one letter in a three-letter sequence is sufficient basis for a theme), then I think RULE OF THUMP makes the grade, while the others do not. With RULE OF THUMP, the base phrase is a nice standalone phrase, and the new one evokes a very clear and specific image. It's cute. And that's what you want your wacky themers to be, at a minimum: cute. But READY TO RUMPLE does not have a good standalone base phrase (It needs "Let's get..." in front of it to be truly solid), and the clue evokes ... nothing. I don't even understand the context for the clue quote: "You think the blanket needs messing up?" What situation is happening there. READY TO RUMPLE is a question? Why would you ask about messing up a blanket? Why would there be a good and bad time to do that? It's idiotic, the whole thing. SLUMPERLAND is just absurd—the way SLUMPER is absurd, even before you stick -LAND on the end. DUMP AND DUMPER is about as bad as READY TO RUMPLE in terms of its making zero sense. Why would a "trash collector" (is that like a garbageman?) call his memoir DUMP AND DUMPER? Is it about a specific "dump" that he takes his trash to? And then ... he is the "dumper"? Or is the truck the "dumper"? It's not funny. It's confusing. Wacky Themers Have To Land Perfectly. These are just off and off and off.

Imagine thinking anyone in 2018 is going to know TANIA Mallet. What is even happening with that clue? She was in a single movie 50+ years ago. That is all. At least TANIA Raymonde (of "Lost" (ABC), "Goliath" (Amazon), etc.) is still acting, and has acted in More Than One Thing. I still think she's pretty obscure, but she beats Mallet by a long shot. Apparently there are people who think that "Goldfinger" is still current cinema. Mallet wasn't exactly famous when the movie was in theaters. Come on. The rest of the fill was OK, with the longer non-theme fill being reasonably entertaining. I like NOSE COUNT and PLUNK DOWN. I got -PEACE part of 17A: Topic for one of the Dalai Lama's "Little Book" series first, and so wrote in WORLD PEACE. I also blanked on SHAW (1A: Eliza Doolittle's creator) and had no idea that cement trucks had HOSEs attached (?@!). Thought the windows were PENNA. Thought a HOE had a "tapering blade" (63D: ADZ). Found THE very hard to come up with, given the clue (33D: "What ___?!"). Wrote in DRONE at first for 5A: Many an Amazon "worker" (ROBOT). The quotation marks around "worker" made me briefly wonder whether the puzzle was taking a swipe at their terrible labor practices. SLAVE seemed a bit pointed, though, esp for the NYT. So ... ROBOT. I don't associate ROBOTs with Amazon any more than I associate them with other large industrial operations. But I thought they were experimenting with DRONE deliveries; hence my (wrong) initial answer.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Hey, check 48-Across ... now check the clue on 27-Across. Quality editing, right?

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Medium. Kind of amusing, sort of liked it.

puzzlehoarder 12:23 AM  

This felt very smooth after yesterday's minefield. Still I found a way to tack a couple of minutes on to my usual Wednesday time. PEPSI and SALVO required second looks. Those were minor glitches. ONCUE crossing PEACE was my real stumbling (STUMPLING?) block. I'd put OLIO next to BOAR, then REAMS at 9D. I thought 5A would be a something-ER. Worse I actually wondered if there was a term ENDUE for 8D. I came back and straightened this out but initially I was in stupid land.

I don't completely buy that 58A themer but it neatly avoids the other meaning of DUMP.

ZenMonkey 12:31 AM  

Wow, on that P.S. I didn't notice it, focused as I was on guessing the theme answers. But that is bad.

Mark 12:38 AM  

I can’t help thinking that the constructor who claims to be John Lampkin is, in reality, John Lambkin

Larry Gilstrap 1:45 AM  

Wow! READY TO RUMPLE gets dismissed? Years ago, I made logo t-shirts with that exact phrase, sold them, and made a fortune, as I remember. Lusty phrase, that one.

29A is the kind of clue that makes solving fun. Apple application leads us all over the place, until we realize the capital letter is part of the misdirect, and the answer is ALAR. People used to care about the long term affects of food additives. Like, two years ago.

Cement trucks, or perhaps concrete a better word, only have a small water HOSE to help in cleanup. The big HOSE guys are the pumpers who show up and move that concrete to your back yard. So much fun to type HOSE twice in all caps.

So happy to see MUSE in her full glory front and center. As a grizzled veteran, you know I have nothing but respect and admiration for teachers, particularly those in the trenches. Peace and literacy are the noble goals. Some people complain about creating a syllabus and others scramble to find enough books and materials to begin the year.

Defenestration through a PELLA product? Odds are the answer is yes.

TomAz 2:02 AM  

I have said many times on here: I like the "switch a letter to get goofy stuff" puzzles, generally. This one was fine. Not amazing, not bad. I liked DUMP AND DUMPER. It made me smile. I also appreciated READY TO RUMPLE. SLUMPERLAND, though, did not work for me.

The K in STK was the last thing to fall, because for the life of me I did not know of a world in which steaks were brokered. Buy them at the grocery, put them on the grill. Go high end if you want. Brokers might eat steaks at Morton's, but are they trying to sell them in their day job? No! oh.. but then (Emily Litella voice): Never mind.

Jono 2:38 AM  

Nice to see ESE clued as something other than “X-to-Y dir.” for once!

Can someone explain ALAR to me?

chefwen 2:53 AM  

Well, I thought this was pretty cute. READY TO RUMPLE made me laugh. “Honey, ready to go to bed and mess up the sheets, it’ll be fun”
Wasn’t crazy with DUMP AND DUMPER, but I liked all the other themers.

Love John Lamkin’s puzzles. Hate Gallo wines.

Phil 4:01 AM  

Had the INNER portion INNERvoiCE which filled the grid without seeing the downs so added about 30 sec to go over all the clues.

Phil 4:05 AM  

Didn’t have a problem with the fill or theme but again the clues as written or edited (don't know who’s to blame) were hohum. I know NYT has a need to try their best to not offend everyone but that just means a little more effort is needed and it just isn’t there

Loren Muse Smith 4:29 AM  

I’m with @TomAz. I liked this just fine. John seriously limited the choices with the tightness of using only UMB – UMP. ARTIFICIAL LIMP or SACRIFICIAL LAMP coulda been fun to clue.

I liked seeing ALONE over INNER PEACE. Ok. So I haven’t really gotten to the INNER PEACE part of my life yet, but I sure do like being alone. I like standing over the sink and eating stuff. I like putting the window shades just so. Watching my vapid tv shows without feeling dumb ‘cause my husband is reading Toynbee.

@Larry – thanks, man. So far so good. I’ve learned a huge lesson that helps with my weenie-like classroom management style: I start shamelessly courting the upcoming 9th grade discipline problems when they’re in middle school (my school is 5 – 12). I have a friend, a health teacher, who points the trouble-makers out to me, and I wander over to strike up a conversation, get to know them. It’s paid off this year; all the boneheads so far are being cool.

I thought about this a lot when I was tasked with coming up with my own teaching philosophy for this &^%$ portfolio I had to build as yet another hurdle to certification. Mine is a Maslow’s Hierarchy deal, where the most basic level is earning the students’ trust and, well, respect. Without establishing that, forget about imparting any kind of knowledge. The floggings will continue until the morale improves method doesn’t work in my demographic. These guys want to be suspended, expelled.

Anyhoo… once again I’ll say that I like harmless little change-a-letter themes. Thanks, John.

Conrad 6:04 AM  

If I were a trash collector I might title my memoir "Dump and Dumpster."

@Jono: According to Wikipedia, "Daminozide – also known as Alar, Kylar, B-NINE, DMASA, SADH, or B 995 – is a plant growth regulator, a chemical sprayed on fruit to regulate growth, make harvest easier, and keep apples from falling off the trees before they ripen so they are red and firm for storage. Alar was first approved for use in the U.S. in 1963. It was primarily used on apples until 1989, when the manufacturer voluntarily withdrew it after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed banning it based on concerns about cancer risks to consumers."

Anonymous 6:08 AM  

ALAR is a chemical that used to be sprayed on apples but is now banned.

I did not like the puzzle because the theme clues were not funny.

Careful @Larry Gilstrap - Let's get ready to rumble is a trademarked phrase!

Lewis 6:27 AM  

My favorite answers were the two NYT answer debuts: PLUNK DOWN and NOSE COUNT. And PLAY IT SAFE came close to those two. This offering was right on the mark difficulty-wise for a Wednesday puzzle. Over the years, most commenters who have commented on it say that their solving times do gradually increase from Monday through Saturday, as I recall, and Will deserves credit for overall accuracy of puzzle placement.

The theme is cute. The puzzle would have been a touch more elegant if there weren't two non-theme question marked clues, and that easily could have been done (IS IT could have been IS IN, i.e.).

The theme is also tight. At first i thought it was simply replacing B with P. Then I saw that it was MB to MP. Finally I realized it was UMB to UMP. Hard to come up with more of those! But when I was thinking the theme was MB to MP my brain did pop up with an alternate clue/answer that made me smile:

Clue: Anthem of big fan of actress Charlotte?

Hungry Mother 6:54 AM  

Fun theme which helped with the solve. No Naticks today.

Unknown 6:57 AM  

Liked the puzzle, theme was fine. The clue that gave me pause (besides TANIA Mallet, which I think we can agree was just a stinker) was NADA for Nothin’. NADA is a full word— it’s just Spanish. That was quite odd to me. But banned Apple application- terrific! Made me laugh out loud when I finally got it.

Rainbow 7:12 AM  

Reading down: UZI ARMOR, RAPT MUSE, OLEO ALAR GALLO, (We always called the low price spread OLEO. I thought Margarine was a girl's name 'til I was ten.) PEST DEBUT (new insect). Reading across: INNERPEACE I SIT (to ponder), AMOR? PLAYITSAFE.

kitshef 7:14 AM  

Not too much ESE, but not a lot of playfulness, either. When your featured downs are NOSE COUNT and PLUNK DOWN, that's pretty dull.

I did like RAMSES and UPPER Egypt.

Suzie Q 7:19 AM  

I thought the theme clues were funnier than the answers and probably hard to come up with. As for the rumble/rumple maybe something about ruining your hairdo with a noogie? (There you go @ TomAz, as in Liza Loopner and Todd).
Speaking of hard to clue, 32A had me wondering how hard it could be to write a good clue for "the".
I only saw the P for B switch making me think of Lead Pipe Cinch or some such cliche.
At least I learned that an acai tree is a palm.

FLAC 7:38 AM  

Much more to like than dislike in this puzzle. Yes, SLUMPERLAND is weak, but I thought the other theme answers quite clever.

Glad to see George Bernard SHAW in the puzzle. It's a shame nobody reads him any more. Too "talky," I guess. "Man and Superman" and "Heartbreak House" are great. A one-of-a-kind writer.

Aketi 7:43 AM  

I liked that READY TO RUMPLE crossed RAPT and was was buried under INNER PEACE. Reminds me of our cats sneaking under the sheets in the morning waiting for the right moment to disturb the PEACE.

@M@A should be happy with all the Us today.

Gert Fröbe 7:45 AM  

I, for one, don’t think any words or names should be off limits in the puzzle but I have two questions for the PC crossword scolds. How can you object to any proper name and be cool with Mao the mass murderer ? As I said, I have no objection to Mao or anyone else but the next time DeVos appears please save the outrage. The other question is why is chink, clued as “chink in the armor” objectionable, but spade, clued as a playing card, ok ?

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

Just to post a contrary opinion to the bulk of what I have seen, I thought this was a terrible puzzle. I'm with Rex. Tania Mallet (47A) is really obscure. I've heard of headcounts (11D), but not nose counts. 'What the . . . ?' (32D) is just lame. 46A tri- as a prefix for county seems a stretch. Why not state? People do say that.
Asking about the dog in Hi and Lois (66A) is like asking someone to remember Tania Mallet. Upper (52D) as the site for the Aswan dam seems a bit vague. I also agree with one other commenter that the cluing of nothin' (60D) does not make one expect nada. Slumperland (43A) and Dump and Dumper (58A) are just poor. When I got Ready to Rumple (20A) I thought I might like the puzzle. but the rest of the solve was too often just unpleasasnt.

RAD2626 8:04 AM  

All went very easy. I actually thought DUMP AND DUMPER was apt and cute along with RULE OF THUMP which was very clever and which I never would have dreamed up. Liked a lot of the fill. I know it is a crossword convention but I am not at all offended by the word ALTER appearing both in the puzzle and as part of a totally different clue. Does not diminish my solving experience at all. And for speed solvers, how would they even notice?

Debra 8:15 AM  

Monday easy

mmorgan 8:25 AM  

Took me a long time to get on the puzzle's wavelength, but many of the answers Rex had problems with (THE, SHAW, ROBOT, TANIA) came easily to me. First themer I got (and the one I liked the best) was DUMP AND DUMPER, maybe because I had the pleasure of seeing the amazing Jeff Daniels perform last week. (Luckily, though, I've never seen that movie.). For those who don't know, in addition to his wide-ranging film career, he's an exceptionally talented musician and he puts on a tour de force performance. Catch his act sometime if you can. And the puzzle's limitations aside, there was something sweet about an --UMP theme appearing on the day of Cohen's guilty plea and Manafort's conviction. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Unknown 8:36 AM  

It’s pretty obscure if you weren’t around at the time. I’m old, so it came right to mind for me.

Mike Herlihy 8:38 AM  

@Gert Fröbe - thank you! My sentiments exactly.

pmdm 8:54 AM  

It isn't that problematic to express one's own response to a puzzle. Mr. Sharp does that fine. Based upon a comparison of Mr.Sharp's comments and most of the comments posted so far, Mr. Sharp's analysis aplies for himself and not at all to the puzzle, and certainly does not reflect the general attitude of solvers towards the puzzle. New comments of course may contradict this conclusion. Regardless, today's write-up can be used as an example of the problems with Mr. Sharp's write-ups. Correct for Mr. Sharp, incorrect for the majority of those posting comments today.

Had there been no clue for 47A I would have still gotten the entry from the down corsses, so how well known the actress is and how old the movie is are both irrelevant to me, and I suspect to a good number of people.

The duplication of a work in a clue and in an entry is also irrelevant to me if it doesn't alter my solving experience, and it did not today. So why should I care? Others obvious do [care].

Type alter: Mr, Sharp, you meant 32D, not 33D in your write-up. Were you intentionally being funny by makeing a typo after you complain about how the puzzle was edited?

After solving the puzzle I was in a good mood. Less so after reading the write-up. More so after reading the comments. Life goes on.

Nancy 9:06 AM  

I was bored at the top, thinking it was much too easy. But it got harder as I moved South, and I got happier. I ended up sort of liking it. The theme was sort of cute.

My sheets RUMPLE far, far more than my blankets ever do, so I think perhaps sheets should have been used in the 20A clue. I also would have preferred SLUMPER PARTY to SLUMPERLAND as an answer, but there's all that damn symmetry you have to worry about as a constructor. And, when my eye hit --------UM-ER at 58A (before I had gotten around to that clue), I knew immediately it would be DUMP AND DUMPER -- for which I pat myself on the back. Not a wonderful puzzle, but enjoyable enough.

GILL I. 9:13 AM  

I liked this just fine. Wondering if John L is a horticulturalist. SOIL HOSE WEEDER DIRT SPADE ALAR HONEY all in the land of EDEN?
RULE OF THUMP did it for me. That was just great. I already had READY TO RUMPLE (The only clue that made no sense to me) so I knew we were probably in for an UMP romp. Fun.
I always get a kick out of any change a letter puzzle. This was entertaining and clever.
NOSE COUNT was the only huh today. I've always heard of a head COUNT. Why in the world would you count a nose? I'd start looking at all the sizes and shapes and would forget where I was.
@chefwen....During my VERY poor art student days in SFO, I would drink a jug of GALLO. (I refused to stoop to Thunderbird). On occasions, I would splurge on a Mateus so that I could stick a candle in it after I was through drinking that vile pink stuff. Nowadays, GALLO has acquired some winning raves from customers and critics alike. They have shunned the jug-wine image and are producing some fine Cabernet Sauvignons that fall in the $30.00 plus category. Californians are wine snobs and they knew they had to step up to the plate. Try some!

Crimson Devil 9:54 AM  

Much enjoyed puz, and reference to Emily Litella, to whom I often refer. (RIP Gilda)

Gwinns 9:55 AM  

Sure they were all UMB to UMP, but UMB isn't a thing and UMP wasn't referenced, so really in my book it was just changing B to P.

And as such, I thought it was weird that the long non-themers at 17A and 65A, each adjacent to a themer, each had a P.

Nards 9:59 AM  

I had tiller in place of weeder at 4D and changed it when tiller was in the clue for 10D. But I didn’t notice the Alter mistake either.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

you lost me at "ready to rumple does not have a good base phrase.
(It needs "Let's get..." in front of it)

Setting aside your gratuitous ellipsis, "Ready to rumble" is a phrase. And was long before Michael Buffer popularized it.

QuasiMojo 10:15 AM  

I had to come here to avoid a DNF, if that even counts. I had TANYA and AMY. Never read the clue for Bon-Ami. (My go-to cleanser, btw, when I can't find Bab-O.)

A NOSE COUNT would be difficult, I suppose, in a leper colony.

Just noticed that there's no I in TEEM.

No idea what THUMP has to do with watermelons. Is that the sound you make when you drop one on your toe?

Is SLUMBERLAND a place like Hollywoodland? Nancy's suggestion was much funnier. Slumper Party. Thanks to my iPhone, I now qualify for that shindig.

And @Lewis, I totally agree about Ms. RAMPLING but the lyric doesn't have a G in RAMBLIN' so you might have to think again.

here's a bad one for y'all. Clan of drag racing clowns? RUMBLE STILTS KIN.

Hillied 10:20 AM  

How is one squat or one crunch a rep(etition)?

Z 10:28 AM  

I think the set of theme answers are fine, but, again, the themers are let down by a staid sense of humor. DUMP AND DUMPER and you go with a trash collector’s memoir? I mean, I get wanting to avoid the politically charged ground that is the first crime family, but pick a celebrity break-up. Or go old school with Rosaline and Romeo. The latter then invites another Romeo clue for READY TO RUMPLE. READY TO THUMP followed by SLUMPERLAND... if ever a sense of humor needed Viagra....

@Gert Fröbe - You’re asking the wrong question. If SPADE were still a common enough pejorative that it offended a group and the constructor was made aware of it, then it would be nice if the constructor said something like what @ACME said, “I didn’t realize. No offense intended. Sorry.” “Chink” still carries the weight of insult. SPADE doesn’t seem to. How do I know this? Because people tell me. Be assured, you can use any word you want. Personally, if I unintentionally insult someone I apologize. I’d respect you more if you did the same. Well, that and not try to set off a nuclear bomb in Fort Knox.

@pmdm - Huh? I am not following you? Rex writes his opinion. It is as correct as any opinion might be. He generally does a decent job of using the source material to support his position. Commenters agree or disagree. Some also do a decent job of using the source material to support their positions, although many do not, often choosing to write about Rex, instead. So what? At least a few eschew Rex entirely and only read the commenters they enjoy. This seems a perfectly rational choice to me and one you might want to consider if reading Rex brings you down.

@LMS - I agree with almost everything you wrote except for one thing. They don’t want to be suspended or expelled, but between unpleasant options it may seem the least unpleasant to them. In an overly simplified example, if the choice is between losing face and being a rebel, it is better to be the rebel.

Lamba Plus Zambia, True Love 10:29 AM  

I loves me a consonant digraph and MB is my fave. Big show-off PH gets all the glory but strikes me as kinda snobby. So I think ol MB would be humbled and honored by the publicity this puzzle gives it and I say two thumbs up.

Just wonderin tho...Daddy, did the New York Times call us any bad names today?

JC66 10:33 AM  


Love your ARTIFICIAL LIMP or SACRIFICIAL LAMP potential themers (if UMs weren't needed), but I think @Rex and his acolytes might have gone ballistic over LIMP.

RooMonster 10:39 AM  

Hey All !
IS IT a SNUB to tell someone, "Hey DAWG, PLUNK DOWN in the NOSE COUNT ZONE, HONEY"? Ah SNAP!

Anyway, this was a good change-a-letter puz. Some themers kinda missed the mark, but nothing to ROAST the puz about. Liked the two F's and two Z's.

Sports TEEMS have CAPs and SHIRTs. Har.

Don't remember that PEPSI slogan. Had gAga for RAPT at first. Only writeover. Did misread OVAL clue as Running truck, though. Head scratcher, there.

How about How ___ West Was Won or somesuch clue for THE. What THE is What ___?! :-)


Whatsername 10:50 AM  

I thought this was a fun Wednesday with a great little theme. Yes it was easy and didn’t take a lot of effort but nothing wrong with that once in a while. My favorite in fact was DUMPANDDUMPER which immediately triggered an image of Dumb And Dumber’s Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as the world’s most incompetent garbage collectors. Sounds like a great idea for sequel to me.

The Grammar Nazi 10:57 AM  

Well, READY TO RUMPLE sure as hell evoked for us this morning!

Joseph Michael 11:03 AM  

While plumping the depths of the theme, I expected to find a baseball revealer of some kind about umps. That didn’t happen, but I enjoyed the puzzle anyway. Nice tongue-in-cheek wordplay.

Liked DUMP AND DUMPER the best. Also liked the image of someone counting noses.

Not up on window brands, so the product placement of PELLA was a mystery to me. I resisted entering ALTER for the final A since it is a word that also appears in the clues.

SHAW was A SNAP, but thought at first that the high-risk investor might lose SLEEP instead of his SHIRT.

Loved the clue for THE.

Gert Fröbe 11:16 AM  

@Z I would never use any of those words pejoratively. I don't know why you think I would. I simply asked a question. Now explain why Mao gets a pass.

Jim Lemire 11:17 AM  

I did not love this puzzle. Beyond the theme that Rex already took apart, there was so much of the filll that I just did not like.

27A When I think of REMAPping I don’t thing of altering the layout of a “site” (which site?)...I think of drawing a new map that is more accurate given new information. One may “redesign” or, even “redo”, a “site”, but the mapping part is not the actually alteration. It’s the diagram of the alteration.

24A HOSE, really?

4D I suppose when I go out and do some work in my garden, I am technically sometimes a WEEDER, but this is not a term that I have ever used or heard used. I could see calling the tool itself being used a WEEDER, but even that seems weak.

17A I guess there’s nothing really wrong with INNER PEACE per se, but it’s location, length and clueing made me think it was part of the theme. I know there’s no “?” there, and that this is my fault, but it didn’t help my mood toward this puzzle.

66A Not sure if I object to the obscureness of the clue or to the laziness of naming a dog DAWG

I didn’t know OLEO, TANIA, STK, or AMI as clued. I had to get those answers from a combination of guessing and crosses.

Guess I’m feeling cranky today

Jim Lemire 11:17 AM  

Oh...can someone explain OLEO (“Imperial product”)?

jberg 11:18 AM  

I got DUMP AND DUMPER off the first D, since I knew the theme by then -- so that may have made me think it was wittier than it was, but I did like it.

My big problem was that I PLUNKed DOWN "plumped down," which could have been a themer, since 'plumb down' is a valid direction. That left me brokering fuel additives, which seemed like a stretch. Plus I got PluM from the crosses, having no idea what kind of tree an acai is, which left me with TAmIl for the actress. But somehow i figured it out, and it all came together.
@Gill and anonymous, NOSE COUNT is a pretty common synecdoche -- I bet you'll start noticing it all over now. More likely in the form of "count noses," though.

I hesitate to start something, but I was pleasantly surprised not to find a bunch of Rex-haters complaining about an English professor's not knowing who wrote "Pygmalion."

@Loren, nice avatar, as usual. I want that job at my local furniture store.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Tell you what, I'll meet you in Detroit and watch you call folks spade and see what happens. Then maybe we can assesse how good a grip you have on language usage. Deal?

Joe Bleaux 11:55 AM  

(Can't cite an authority, but I thought cement is an ingredient in the liquid that hardens into concrete.)

CDilly52 11:56 AM  

Both of your examples are stellar, and they demonstrate how much better this theme could have been with minimal reworking. They provide such clever clue opportunities. “Fixture status during clumsy move.” Or “Affliction of a youngster trying to avoid chores.”

GHarris 11:57 AM  

Is Rex really oblivious to the obvious meaning of “ready to rumble “ or does he just prudishly reject any racy connotations? Found the puzzle enjoyable and rather easy.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Surprised that "rule of thumb(p)' didn't get Rex in a snit. The expression "rule of thumb" has a very anti-woman origination. Yet that's the one answer he liked. Go figure.

Amelia 12:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
CDilly52 12:06 PM  

Hand up here as well! No idea what the “PC Pickiness Quotient” is if last week’s armor could not have its proverbial “weakness” and yet today we find it acceptable call out the suit! Hmmmmmmm.

CDilly52 12:13 PM  

Agri-lore tells us to “thump” a watermelon to test its ripeness/density. My husband had the touch and never missed picking a perfectly ripe, heavy juicy melon by “thumping” (tapping firmly with the tips of his first two fingerson) on the light colored patch where the melon touched the ground. I’m hopeless-guess I don’t have the touch.

Cassieopia 12:23 PM  

@Jim 11:17 Imperial Margarine. Wikipedia has a cute write up on it.

Banana Diaquiri 12:34 PM  

the 'Goldfinger' clue is from the same timeframe as the Imperial clue. it's been decades since I've seen an advert for Imperial (OLEO-)margarine. never could stand the stuff. is it still in stores?

jack 12:34 PM  

Dumpanddumper play on movie "Dumb and Dumber" continuing the P for B switch.

Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

@Jim Lemire. Hey Jim, Imperial is a brand of margarine (oleo). At least it used to be when I was younger. I don't know if it still exists.

emily 12:40 PM  


Teedmn 1:08 PM  

This ran faster than yesterday's puzzle and should have gone faster but I seem to have been solving without paying proper attention. Like Rex, I blanked at SHAW, 'enry 'iggens not fitting, so I worked my way east to west across the north. I had the BO in 5A and PLUNKed DOWN laBOr. So I had swarms of rEaMS at 9D. With _____ACa in place at 17A, I was pretty sure the Dalai Lama hadn't written about either alpACas or Obamacare so I continued on my way west and eventually cleaned all of that up.

The banned Apple Application started out as AgAR but I quickly rethought that. And the Chairman with the Little Red Book was briefly confused with the flightless, extinct Moa. Just solving on autopilot today, I guess.

Was INNER PEACE a semi-revealer today?

John Lampkin, I don't think you fUMPled this one in the least, thanks.

Girish 1:23 PM  

@Rex Oh, Rex! I was going to let the misplaced comma on Gertrude slide... but, not knowing Eliza’s creator, that’s positively medieval. Nonetheless, may inner peace fill your day.

Masked and Anonymous 1:32 PM  

{Get chewed out for questioning a called third strike?} = TAKE UMP RAGE?

This here theme is totally satisfactory, thanx U.

TANIA Mallet's character gets her head lopped off by Oddjob's hat, in "Goldfinger". After that performance, Hollywood casting directors probably considered her too short for most future roles.

@RP: DUMPANDDUMPER might sound wobbly, I'll grant; but, consider that its base DUMB AND DUMBER phrase was pretty darn wonky, too.

staff weeject pick: STK. There weren't much desperation in this puz, so I appreciated STK all the more. And maybe also REMAP, of course.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Lampkin.

Masked & Anonymo9Us

{Cinnamon rolls, for weight gaining exercises?} = PLUMPER'S FRIEND?


Reasonablewoman 1:45 PM  

@Anonymous 11:57 referred to the origin of "Rule of thumb"

Check this out: (Disclaimer-I have no idea if this is true)

The phrase was invoked in a lecture as an example of domestic abuse permitted by British common law. The rule of thumb, according to the professor, was a law that allowed a man to beat his wife so long as the rod used was no thicker than his thumb.

Zelda 1:52 PM  

Mao was a bigger mass murderer than Hitler or Stalin but his anglicized three letter name with two vowels makes him too valuable to be voted off the island. His inclusion is important though because Michael Sharp’s tacit approval makes his complaints about the inclusion of Trump Cabinet and family members all the more ridiculous. Here’s to a more inclusive crossword community!

Anonymous 2:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Banana Diaquiri 2:35 PM  

TANIA Mallet's character gets her head lopped off by Oddjob's hat, in "Goldfinger"

not quite.
"Goldfinger's henchman and assassin, cast in his hat with a lined steel blade tab, and breaks the neck of her. When Bond catches up, she's already dead. "

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

I agree with Rex on all counts. The theme here isn't fun or interesting. I grasped the trick when I got the first of the theme clues and then groaned though to completion, and not in the good way when you groan over some clever theme clues. A fair amount of filler dreck as well. A decent challenge for a Wednesday but in no way fun or satisfying.

My biggest takeaway was that constructor is over the age of 80 given several of the clues, particularly Hi and Lois, which I recall seeing as a child (I'm in my late 40s) and wondering, 'Who the heck reads that?'

Banana Diaquiri 3:36 PM  


there's a big difference between Mao and Hitler/Stalin. Mao, through evil and stupidity, killed his countrymen. Hitler and Stalin killed citizens of invaded/annexed countries, not just their own. whether one kind of killing is worse than another is a question. Hitler and Stalin had a thing about ridding the world of Jews, too.

I don't think Mao killed based on religion. I'll go look it up. be right back.

wiki doesn't say anything about religion. most of the dead were the result of bad harvests. which may, or may not, have been due to the Cultural Revolution.

Rex Harrison 3:49 PM  

Ah ha! I had, Belly overhang? PLUMP LINE

Masked and Anonymous 3:54 PM  

@Banana Diaquiri: yep. Entirely likely that M&A breath is wrong again.
Was your quote from the Ian Fleming book, or somethin?
The movie made m&e think that old Oddjob's hat decapitated folks, since he gave a correspondin demo on the head of one of the golf club statues. Just sayin.

M&A Help & Remap Desk

Zelda 4:27 PM  

@Banana: I appreciate the civil, measured rejoinder but I think you’re wrong. From the Washington Post: “But both Hitler and Stalin were outdone by Mao Zedong. From 1958 to 1962, his Great Leap Forward policy led to the deaths of up to 45 million people – easily making it the biggest episode of mass murder ever recorded...The basic facts of the Great Leap Forward have long been known to scholars. Dikötter’s work is noteworthy for demonstrating that the number of victims may have been even greater than previously thought, and that the mass murder was more clearly intentional on Mao’s part, and included large numbers of victims who were executed or tortured, as opposed to “merely” starved to death. Even the previously standard estimates of 30 million or more, would still make this the greatest mass murder in history.

While the horrors of the Great Leap Forward are well known to experts on communism and Chinese history, they are rarely remembered by ordinary people outside China, and have had only a modest cultural impact. When Westerners think of the great evils of world history, they rarely think of this one. In contrast to the numerous books, movies, museums, and and remembrance days dedicated to the Holocaust, we make little effort to recall the Great Leap Forward, or to make sure that society has learned its lessons. When we vow “never again,” we don’t often recall that it should apply to this type of atrocity, as well as those motivated by racism or anti-semitism.”

Banana Diaquiri 4:34 PM  

Was your quote from the Ian Fleming book, or somethin?

somethin - just some random synopsis page. also, I just saw it again in the last week or two, and I remember her on the ground in the woods. intact. and I noted that until that viewing, I hadn't realized she was dead. I thought she just got captured and spirited away.

Monty Boy 5:55 PM  

Before I caught on to the theme, I saw 36 across and promptly put in HOLLOWSOUND. Same number of letters, but didn't fit any crosses. I am amazed how many of my "correct" answers aren't.

Margaret 6:07 PM  

Robot came easily -- it is where the "jobs" are going. Read an article in the New Yorker last fall describing an Amazon warehouse completely staffed by robots, who could work pretty much in the dark.

Yeah, "Ready to Rumble" is a phrase.

As for slouching and slumping, for some reason this evoked for me a line I find is from Yeats -- "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

Anonymous 6:11 PM  

This was really hard for me (felt like Thursday). Too many words I'd never heard, like ADZ, SALVO, ALAR, PELLA, OLEO

G. Weissman 6:20 PM  

This strikes me as the worst puzzle I’ve seen in years. Even as I “got” the themes I rolled my eyes in disbelief. This crap cuts it? Even Rex-approved RULE OF THUMP seems like b.s. to me. Goldfinger and Hi and Lois: this constructor’s idea of topical. I’d ban him for life for giving us this dreck.

TomAz 6:35 PM  

All this talk about OLEO has my inner 10-year-old singing "you think it's butter, but it's snot" and giggling snide little 10-year-old giggles.

I guess you had to be there.

KFC 6:46 PM  

Like @Rex I also ”blanked” on SHAW, in that after I read the clue I thought “yeah that’s the Pygmalion guy, what’s his name”. It took a letter or two before G.B. SHAW broke the surface of memory.

Anonymous 7:09 PM  

Huh? Topical? Who said anything about topical? Its a puzzle. Not a current events quiz.

Anonymous 7:21 PM  

G. Weissman, is that direct or indirect criticism?

TomAz, is Mr. Weisman criticizing the constructor personally, or just his crossword construction talent, or lack thereof? The latter is what I was referring to in my comments yesterday; that is what Rex attacks, a constructor's talent or achievement.

RAD2626 8:05 PM  

@Margaret 6:07

JFK’s favorite poem. Current events also evoke the very next couplet:
“The best lack all conviction,
While the worst are full of passionate intensity. “

Don Byas 4:08 AM  

Why not get better theme answers by using -amp -emp -imp??...because this crossword is about TRUMP, ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE? refers to Trump's wrestling history. RULE OF THUMB. - his tiny hands; SLUMBERLAND — his history as a slumlord; DUMB AND DUMBER — too easy, he's "a very stable genius" This is the only logical explanation for an otherwise mediocre crossword. (Extra credit question: Which Trump administration member is most likely to do crossword puzzles in prison?)

a.corn 6:03 AM  

Wednesday is easily my least favorite puz Of the week

Whatsername 8:49 AM  

@TomAz: "When you're out with your honey and your nose is red and runny, you may think it's funny but it's not." I was there. :]

G. Weissman 9:17 AM  

The puzzle as a whole should not seem to have been created several decades ago.

G. Weissman 9:17 AM  

It’s pretty direct.

Burma Shave 9:45 AM  


don’t be DOWN in the DUMPs:
When you’re READYTORUMPLE the sheets,


spacecraft 10:39 AM  

I like the idea of @Don Byas, that this is all related to The Donald. Boy, in that context, this layout is near genius! Who in history has been such a DUMPER of admin personnel that HE HIRED not that long ago? As for the DUM[B]P part...yeah, too easy.

My respect for OFL as a scholar has taken a sudden dip today if SHAW wasn't an outright gimme. Yikes, Pygmalion is one of the classic cornerstones of all literature! However, I do agree that three of the theme lines are awkward stretches; particularly SLUMPERLAND. No question that RULEOFTHUMP, despite @reasonablewoman's disturbing etymology, was the marquee entry.

As for DOD TANIA Mallet, I wonder if it was in her contract to have her character named with the same initials--and was her rifle case really TANIA's own?? BTW: yes, Fearless One, there are some movies that remain "current," because they can be enjoyed over and over again. That's why they turn up on TV all the time. Goldfinger is surely one of those.

Compared to yesterday, this is total sanity; did someone URGE Mr. Lampkin to PLAYITSAFE? Let's reward him with a birdie.

thefogman 10:51 AM  

Like Don Byas, I also MUSED this was a thinly-veiled depiction of the rise and early fall of Trumpty Dumpty - who still has no wall (to sit on or keep Mexicans out) and had a hugely terrible summer. Will he have a great fall? Will he land in the dumpster of history along with his little orange book? Will people be dancing in the streets and singing "All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Trumpty together again" and will the world finally find some INNERPEACE?

Stay tuned...

rondo 12:02 PM  

This was so easy that I did it in about 2 Rexes. Every letter I would PLUNKDOWN was correct. Seemed kinda Tuesday easy with a Thursday-ish gimmick. I was scratching my head on ARENA; when I think amphitheater, I think of the Hollywood Bowl and such, and I actually designed a natural amphitheater years ago, about 90 degrees of a circle. To me, an ARENA surrounds the action, 360 degrees.

Feeling jocular after drinking wine? GALLO humor.

Is DUMPANDDUMPER trash talk or toilet talk?

Within or without the classic Mustang there is classic Bond girl and yeah baby TANIA Mallet.

Fun, quick puz that was not a BOAR.

William Heyman 2:47 PM  

A salvo is not the same as a barrage. A barrage fires all guns at one time. A salvo fires them one at a time. They are separate commands. and I was an artillery battalion commander.

rainforest 3:11 PM  

A cute and cuter puzzle I couldn't imagine. Well, not really, but it was reasonably funny. Theme OK, and good downs.

Using the same word in a clue and in an unrelated answer doesn't ALTER my opinion.

The RULE OF THUMP was followed zealously by a certain bully in Grade 9. Shoulder still hurts.

Overall an easy puzzle well worth the time spent on it.

Diana,LIW 4:05 PM  

Watched my Ps, but where are my Qs?

Easy and fun for a Wednesday. No GALLO humor for me (thx @Rondo).

Lady Di

wcutler 4:35 PM  

I just want to mention that we counted NOSEs at summer camp, admittedly a long time ago. Maybe we did other places too. It's definitely a thing (or was). Why would that be more strange than counting heads? I can see the problem with counting eyes. I don't think people count chins, though that could run into the same problem as with eyes.

I liked RULEOFTHUMP. I was told recently to thump a melon to tell if it's ripe. That's a thing too.

I liked the puzzle.

leftcoastTAM 4:45 PM  

This is the puzzle I was looking for yesterday, on the easy side of medium. Yesterday's would fit very well here, on the other side of medium. Yes, I know, there isn't a hard and fast rule on that, but....oh, never mind.

leftcoastTAM 5:54 PM  

Way up above, in distance and time, @pmdm said:

"'s write-up can be used as an example of the problems with Mr. Sharp's write-ups. Correct for Mr. Sharp, incorrect for the majority of those posting comments today."

Rex's write-ups are neither correct nor incorrect. They're his evaluations and opinions. You can agree with them or not.

Personally, I like his way of stirring things up with his provocative opinions about NYT puzzles, whether I agree with him or not.

strayling 7:47 PM  

Rex just gets an automatic first post as far as I'm concerned. I always read what he has to say, but I find the rest of the comments more interesting.

On the charged-words topic, I thought there was a special exception for calling a SPADE a SPADE.

The puzzle? I liked this one for its sense of fun and, being as I'm easily amused, the concept of a SNUB NOSE COUNT gave me a chuckle.

Helmi 1:22 PM  

Misdirect to Apple the company. Alar is a banned chemical once used to grow apples.

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