Source of beautiful plumes / TUES 7-28-20 / Wok, for one / Fast runner Down Under / Liveliness

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Hello, everyone! It's Clare here for the last Tuesday of July. Hope everyone is safe and staying inside as much as possible! I've been sitting around watching some sports again, but with Liverpool winning the Premier League title (!!) I'm pretty sated for now. In other news, I just found out that my law school classes will be entirely online for the fall, which is kind of a bummer — maybe I'll just move to Montana and take my classes from there. With that, on to the puzzle for today!

Constructor: Ross Trudeau

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: WEB OF LIES (36D: It's spun by mendacious people ... or a hint to the shaded answers) — The theme answers are all synonyms for a lie

Theme answers:

  • TALL TALES (4D: Accounts of Paul Bunyan, say)
  • FABLE (17A: "The Tortoise and the Hare," e.g.)
  • FALSEHOOD (29A: "__ of the tongue leads to that of the heart": Jefferson)
  • FICTION (8D: Section of a bookstore)
  • WHOPPER (24D: Burger King offering)
  • UNTRUTH (41D: Fabrication)
  • INVENTION (44A: Bubble gum in the 1906, e.g.)
  • LIBEL (60A: Writing that can get you in trouble)
Word of the Day: ENCINO MAN (15A: 1992 Brendan Fraser film about a thawed Cro-Magnon)
Encino Man (known as California Man in France, Great Britain, Asia and New Zealand) is a 1992 American comedy film directed by Les Mayfield in his directorial debut, and starring Brendan Fraser, Sean Astin and Pauly Shore. The plot revolves around two geeky teenagers from Encino, Los Angeles, California, played by Astin and Shore, who discover a caveman in Morgan's backyard frozen in a block of ice. The caveman, played by Fraser, has to learn to live in the 20th century. Along the way, he teaches them about life. (Wiki)
• • •
Wow. So. Many. Theme. Answers! I can't decide whether I'm more impressed that the constructor managed to fit all those theme answers in the puzzle and have it be coherent, or if I'm more annoyed that I had to type all of those clues and theme answers out in today's write-up.

This whole puzzle was centered on the theme, and the way WEB OF LIES tied everything together was quite impressive. The problem with having the whole puzzle revolve around the theme, though, was that the rest of the puzzle suffered. I didn't have any moments going through the puzzle where I thought, "Oh, that was cool" — I just worked my way around until I finished and realized what the theme was. For me, the theme was an afterthought.

A nit about the theme answers is that all of them are singular except for TALL TALES, which is plural. The bigger problem is that the constructor clearly made some sacrifices to make WEB OF LIES work. There were quite a few ugly three-letter fill words (See: INS; OWS; DPS; UMP; ODS; EMU...), and I didn't think anything really popped in the puzzle. (Seriously, I had to search over and over to find something that could work as a "word of the day" — and I ended up choosing a 28-year-old movie that has a whopping 15 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.) Also, there were so many words that start with IN or INS in this puzzle. The worst of it was INS (12D), INSPOT (25A), and INDEBT (46A); on top of that, we have INVENTION (44A) and INST (20D), which also felt pretty cheap.

There were also a lot of vague clues that could have led to many different answers, which is definitely fair game in puzzles late in the week but which I find annoying on Mondays and Tuesdays. For example: 36A: Let me see could have been so many things other than WELL; 45D: "Thanks, I __ that" could also have been a variety of things other than NEEDED; and the puzzle started with 1D: [Fizzle], which was quite vague. I hate the fill of IBARS (44D: Some building beams), which could be so many things — depending on what one letter the constructor needs at the start.

Some other nits: SEACOAST (is this a thing?); EWELAMB (again, is this really a thing?); DPS (not a common abbreviation at all, according to my sportswriter sister); ARYAN (having this in a puzzle feels ALL sorts of weird to me).

  • Uhh 28D: Things most interstates don't have — Interstates may not have many TOLLS, but lemme tell you about turnpikes... endless TOLLS! My sister and I just got to D.C. after a 10-day (socially distant, mask-wearing, sanitizer-toting) road trip across the country stopping at a bunch of national parks along the way, and the amount of money we had to pay in TOLLS was just ridiculous.
  • I love me some LOKI (9A: Norse trickster) — Tom Hiddleston's portrayal of LOKI in the "Avengers" movies is iconic.
  • One word I did like seeing in the puzzle was PREVENTABLE (26D) — it just felt interesting and different from everything else.
  • I put in OVERRULED (56A) and then LIBEL (60A) very quickly, so, thanks, law school?
  • Raise your hand if you've ever responded to something with LOL (30D) while you were, in fact, not laughing — or even smiling! (Guilty!)
  • We got the baseball double whammy with DPS (38A) and then UMP (41A) reminding us that baseball is, indeed, back — for now (but who knows how long that'll last?)
Have a great rest of your week!

Signed, Clare Carroll, a proud Liverpool fan — and that's no TALL TALE

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 1:29 AM  

From last night's emoji snap poll:
Looks like there are more in favor than are not, one "I have no idea if you're in favor or not" [courtesy of @JD 739pm], and one absolutely not requested review of individual commenters from good old Anonymous, who never seems to disappoint except always. I'll grant that @Z and I might be guilty of too many posts, but unless you're willing to differentiate yourself from the many other anonymice by, oh I don't know, using your name, you will always be outnumbering anyone else.

@Nancy I actually am glad I asked and always welcome your opinion whether I share it or not, so no regrets. As you were.

Personally, I cannot passionately defend the stupid, cartoonish aspect of many of the emojis; however, @TTrimble 1014pm does a much better job of explaining my reliance on them than I ever could. Case in point: I have an overdeveloped sarcasm gland, and hypoactive tact sac, so many's the time an emoji (the winky face in particular) has prevented potentially catastrophic rifts among friends, FB friends, and various commentariatti. I admit to relying heavily on them because too often the right words fail me. (This should be obvious by now.)

I suppose a sufficient compromise (from me, anyway) would be to pare down considerably, but retain the rating system which I believe some people here kind of like.

@TTrimble, @GILL I., You two are too funny! I'm a lesbo, so you're both kinda right. Gee. I hope @Terry isn't too repulsed. [WINKY FACE!]

Now for my take on the Tuesdee puzz.

Good amount of Tuesdee chew (Chewsdee?), right smack dab in between Mondee & Wednesday where it belongs.

Decent theme with a good number of themers - I counted 10! (I'm excited there were 10, not that I can count that heigh.)

And the fill was really quite good, but I do have a question: Is INSPOT a thing that people use/say? I know hotSPOT and INcrowd, but gotta wonder about INSPOT and where the missing "K" is...self-quarantining on a Rorschach card?

I didn't count them, but I'm thinking Roo is gonna like the "F" number today!

Good day.


jae 2:28 AM  

Medium. What @Clare said. No point in being redundant.

chefwen 2:33 AM  

The first thing I thought as this was spitting out of my printer, Oh my God @Nancy is going to explode looking at all those little circles. I rather enjoyed it, circles and all. No hang ups and the theme helped me with the solve, which is a plus in my book.
EWE LAMB raised an eyebrow.
Now I’m hungry for a WHOPPER Jr.

Ann Howell 2:42 AM  

"Ewe lamb" made me cringe (would her brother be a "ram lamb"?), but other than that the theme answers were clever enough for a Tuesday and it bounced along just fine.

Dave in Ancaster 4:15 AM  

You can find USDA fact sheets about ewe lambs.

Anonymous 5:43 AM  


Lewis 6:06 AM  

LESSEE, we have a DIMESTORE FELLA who, to NO END, BLAH BLAH BLAHs in a WEB OF LIES, named MR. T. I also see that what's NEEDED to make this ALARM go PFFT, with no EGRETS, is to RYES up and, in November, OWN this HEAD EMU who thinks he is ROI, Make America An IN SPOT Again, and REVEL.

Got it, Ross, and IN DEBT for this cautionary TALE, with nothing LOKI about it!

ChuckD 6:16 AM  

If you’re going to stuff all of these themers in your puzzle to make the graphic work - at least have it look like a web. The resulting fill here is just not good. PFFT and BLAH highlighting the NW and SE corners are all you need to know - maybe hide that garbage somewhere inside. Whether the etymology of ARYAN is correct - the term was hijacked and not so sure it passes muster anymore. So many short plurals all over this thing - and such an elegant center crossing of DMV/DPS. I’ll let all the 4H people argue about EWE-LAMB.

Rough when both Monday and Tuesday puzzles are so bad - not sure whether it’s an inflection point or still trending down. At least I get to watch hockey again this week.

OffTheGrid 6:24 AM  

Best early week puzzle this week. But seriously I really liked it a lot. The only bummer was that the theme was so descriptive of the Trump presidency. And 26D applies to his total pooch screwing of the COVID-19 pandemic response. "Like something that really shouldn't have happened/PREVENTABLE"

Z 6:26 AM  

I hear that EWE LAMBs along the SEA COAST love haiku poems.

@Frantic Sloth - If it was good enough for the Egyptians it’s good enough for me. As for that particular anonymouse, not worth wasting a picosecond on. “Troll” would be an improvement for them.

Clare - Does your sportswriting sister read box scores? Wait, don’t answer that because the answer might make me feel old. Anyway, DPS are listed in box scores in newspapers that carry box scores (which used to be just about every newspaper - sigh).

I thought the theme was great and timely. The short fill didn’t really rankle too much. But I want to know who came up with the INVENTION clue. Of all the INVENTIONs of good old homo sapiens you’re going with bubble gum? Not fire or the wheel or velcro, but bubblegum? Not the printing press or emojis or crosswords but bubblegum? PFFT.

Z 6:34 AM  

BTW - Just because something is technically a thing doesn’t mean it’s a thing. And why do horses get great words like “colt” and “filly” but not sheep?

TTrimble 6:51 AM  

Nice to have a change of pace from the usual crabby, ill-tempered review! Thanks, Clare!

Seemed about Tuesday strength, with just enough resistance to keep things lively. LOKI got things off to a nice start for me. Later ran into a slight rough patch where "Undesirable" fit perfectly well, but was self-descriptive as an error that was PREVENTABLE.

Echoing @Ann Howell, EWE LAMB (or is that one word?) did strike as a tad odd, and at first I had EWELing. Why yes, I suppose I did just make that up. "Ram lamb" is funny and calls to mind the medieval rabbi Maimonides,
otherwise known as Rambam (thank you ma'am).

I've come to feel CYBERFRIENDly with many of you here. And that's no UNTRUTH.

---[SB Alert]---

-->> Spoilers Ahead!! <<--

The final three to deliver the crown for me were BIOTIN, KILOTON, and KILOBIT. I sometimes wonder about methodical ways of tackling SB, rather than letting the mind roam over the letters and hoping for the best. I mean, there are a few obvious tricks, such as looking for extensions, or conversely, truncations. Sometimes I scan for anagrams. But the way I got KILOBIT and KILOTON was roughly as follows: I knew I had the only pangram already, and I needed two more 7-letter words, so that a letter would have to be repeated, and I figured what are the chances that the letter would be a K? thus I looked for 7-letter K words so that if nothing turned up after a little while, I could rule out K. And lo, there they were.

It occurs to me that SB would be virtually trivial for world-class Scrabble players. It also occurs to me that SB could be useful light training for would-be Scrabble experts.

Anonymous 7:09 AM  

Expected Rex with his newfound interest in birds to object to the clueless clue for EGRET as a source of beautiful plumes. Snowy egrets in the Everglades (and flamingoes and others) were a source of beautiful plumes until rapacious plume hunters came close to killing them all in their hundreds of thousands. They’re thankfully now protected but to blithely ignore all that as this clue did is unfortunate.

notafanofnazifans 7:12 AM  

Aryan in a Web of Lies themed puzzle seems pretty on point to me.

Anonymous 7:17 AM  

I dont get the complaints about Sea Coast and Ewe Lamb. Of course they're "things." Even at Yale.

Fun emgaging puzzle. Mine did not have circles.

Only complaint. Interstates have a ton of TOLLS. I-95 has them as does I-75. I-90 too. Etc.

GILL I. 7:18 AM  

@Frantic...Don't you dare pare down. We need your sarcasm gland as well as your hypoactive tact sac. PFFT on the Anony's....
Well let me start out by being annoying. There is such a thing as a EWE LAMB. Yesireebob....Let me put that to rest. There is also a cute little doeling in case that ever comes up.
Now I shall go on to the puzzle. I thought this was FUN. I love lies. Who doesn't? My grandmother always called them "white lies." It sounded so much cleaner. I got very good at telling them when I was about 16. I lied about everything and got caught EVERY SINGLE TIME. My first big WHOPPER was when I told my mother I needed the car to go to the library to study for an exam. She lent me the car and I drove to Redondo Beach with my girlfriend to party with the rest of the INS. The cops came and told us he was going to haul us off to the pokey. I cried and swore I would be good the rest of my life. He let me off with a dire warning. I was smirking all the way home; happy about my well told WEB OF LIES. I was so smug, I didn't notice I was speeding. A cop pulled me over; I tried my pack of lies again - didn't work. I got a speeding ticket. know how that goes. I had to show my mom the ticket because I was a minor. She saw where it was given to me and the hour. Can you guess what happened after that? The most humiliating part was that Mom made me wear white gloves to the court house hoping the judge would show some mercy. He didn't. I was OVERRULED.
I liked your puzzle, Ross. Anytime you give me a sea of FABLE and FICTION, I can spin my web of imagination.
By the way....I no longer lie (it's the truth)....I turn beet red when I look you in the eye and tell you you don't look fat.

kitshef 7:25 AM  

Certainly more interesting than your average Tuesday. Some particularly easy clues (Kit ___ bar, Outs’ opposites), but the fill appealed to me, and the theme was different and creative.

Surprised folks are questioning EWE LAMB. Are we really so far removed from the farming/ranching way of life? Or maybe it's just that I've spend a lot of time in the UK where sheep are more economically important?

I *love* WHOPPERs. Not the Burger King kind – the malted milk ball kind. In my top five candies, for sure.

albatross shell 7:28 AM  

In my mind EWE LAMB rhymed with haiku poem. SEACOAST did not. After consulting with Big G both look pretty good to me. DPS common term in baseball for this 70-some year old.

ow a paper cut 7:29 AM  

Fun puzzle : )

pyroclasts 7:33 AM  

The SW was the only redeeming part of this one, though I appreciated all the references to our nation’s failed businessman turned failed politician (IN DEBT, OVERRULED, WEB OF LIES, ARYAN, PREVENTABLE.

Took me 35 min (I normally average more like 15-25), but it felt like longer because of the aforementioned terrible fill in places. Had GARa/aLOE (haven’t ever heard of sloe), which took at least 3 solid minutes to even notice

JD 7:34 AM  

@Frantic, hand up. The party favor cheers me up every morning and emoji are useful shorthand to clarify tone and intent online. Should've used one to clarify my point!

This was an evocative puzzle. Theme reminded me of the Monty Python dead parrot skit as it unfolded.

The truth don't enter into it. This parrot is a liar. It tells untruths. It utters falsehoods. This parrot sputters utter whoppers.

Fella, Trellis, and Dime Store felt like they might've been lisped by the kid in The Music Man.

Ewe Lamb, now we're in 19th century pastoral English lit. It's a (cough) female lamb. Thomas Hardy must've mention one somewhere before bringing some poor lass to a sad end.

Enjoyed this very much.

Petsounds 7:35 AM  

I enjoyed Clare's delightful column a bit more than the puzzle, for all the reasons she cited. I used to hear the word seacoast used much more frequently decades ago. Can't remember the last time I heard, or read, it recently.

What would have really made this puzzle pop? If somehow the black boxes had spelled out T R U M P.

@Anonymous 7:09--Totally with you on the EGRET clue. I hate feeling as if I'm being overly sensitive on crossword clues, but this one did rankle.

Hungry Mother 7:41 AM  

I thought it went quickly, but it wasn’t much lower than my average. The theme was easy enough.

DSM 7:51 AM  

My main gripe about the theme is that some were clued literally as lies/untruths, and others clued by a different meaning (eg WHOPPER, INVENTION). Shouldn’t they be consistent?

Joel Palmer 7:58 AM  

the theme is what is Trumps presidency

Unknown 7:59 AM  

Go Reds!!!

Sir Hillary 8:02 AM  

Not a perfect puzzle by any means, but I'll take something this good every single Tuesday. The symmetrical WEBOFLIES is very impressive, but it doesn't feel like a constructor stunt. The really short fill is dodgy, but it's outweighed by things like PREVENTABLE, ENCINOMAN and DIMESTORE.

I NEEDED this after yesterday's BLAH offering. And that's no lie.

rjkennedy98 8:10 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle even though looking at the grid its not the most exciting fill. It was fun to invent a new falsehood for each theme answer to construct the web of lies. I disagree with the post about DPs and the frequency of in-words - both didn't bother me.

Larry 8:18 AM  

Clare's sportswriter sister must not know how to keep score in baseball. DP is the very common abbreviation used in the score keeping notation system, along with the numerical indication of the defensive players involved.

The "Thanks, I __ that" was obvious and definitely not vague to anyone old enough to remember a certain after shave commercial from the early 70s.

Ann 8:39 AM  

Speaking of themes, how about “crossed fingers”? (Will)

Joe Dipinto 8:42 AM  

That's not a web, it looks more like a cat jungle gym.

Let's ponder what variety of things would work with the 43d clue:

"Thanks, I {knew} that."

"Thanks, I {didn't know} that."

"Thanks, I {already thought of} that."

"Thanks, I {had enough of} that."

"Thanks, I {bought a loaf of rye at the store but when I got it home it smelt blah. Don't you hate} that?"

"Thanks, I {was sitting on the seacoast playing the piano yesterday and I invented} that."

"Thanks, I {dumped some loams on the head of the Aryan fella in the carlot. I couldn't help feeling he needed} that."

Off to read some dimestore smut...

bauskern 8:43 AM  

When people start complaining about the usage of EGRET as an answer, this crowd is getting way too PC for me. And I'm a birdwatcher.
@ ChuckD re: the fact that the themers don't really make a (symmetrical?) "web," do you have any idea how tough it is to construct a grid around nine themers? Sheesh. Talk about a high bar we're setting.
Finally, a question that ran through my mind last night: To those of you who refer to Rex as OFL, are you more likely to be Trump supporters? Just wondering and trying to make some sort of connection. I'm genuinely curious, as that's a term of endearment I would never use (in this context).

RooMonster 8:45 AM  

Hey All !
Ross and I are now CYBER FRIENDs from the ample F use! Yes, @Frantic, I loved it! And I also knee you were a woman, but not the lesbo part. I could use the old joke, "I'm a lesbian trapped in a man's body", but I'm above that. (SMILEY FACE).

I had shaded squares, which is much nicer and much cleaner than 253 circles. I did like the 9 themers (not 10, @Frantic! πŸ˜‹), as you might know I'm a fan of a lot of theme. You knew that, right?

The themers look WEBby enough to me. And they are all synonyms of LIEs. So a great TuesPuz for me. No PFFT here. Impressed at the fill not totally SMUTty considering the constraints. Look at the 11 Downs next to the 9 Down themers. Plus the double stack of 9's in NE and SE. I forgive iffy fill for theme. I think I might be the only one who thinks that way. Har.

So although we see Ross get a lot of puzs published, (me jealous? Nah...) this one is fun. And on the "bad puz" day of Tuesday. So SaETH I.

Six F's

ArtO 8:47 AM  

Great write-up Clare.
@Joel Palmer totally on point. Trump should have been the revealer.

Geezer 8:49 AM  

From the review on down through the comments this fine puzzle is taking a lot of hits. Don't pin the negativity of this blog on @Rex.

Anonymoose 8:53 AM  

"LESBO?" Seriously?

Kathy 9:01 AM  

The several young skewing answers were easily gettable by crosses or lucky guesses. I am starting to realize that I’m at the point in my year and a half of NYTXW solving where I largely use the Monday and Tuesday puzzles for practice and to increase my arsenal of crosswordese, Disney trivia, modern slang and the like. Every once in a while, one of them will stand out, but today’s didn’t sparkle. It’s either a stepping stone or just skip it.

Side-eye to:

@Frantic, (from yesterday) the emojii confetti is one of the many distinguishing features of your delightful posts, your “brand” as it were. Keep on being you.

Ben 9:01 AM  

Was very slightly burned by 56A: SUSTAINED also fits - so much for optimism?

burtonkd 9:06 AM  

@bauskern - OFL has been used here for quite some time. I don't get any Trump vibe from it; I'm guessing that the commentariat skews not-Trump-supporter, but generally stays clear of politics, thankfully.
I first heard it when some choir members referred to me as such; hopefully it is always, as you say, a term of endearment. Original use seems to be from Rocky and Bullwinkle - the boss of Boris and Natasha.
If you want a more Trump-appropriate term for "leader", check out all the titles used in N.Korea.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Never heard of a sloe gin fizz?

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Certainly a coin toss on that one.

burtonkd 9:09 AM  

@bauskern - I don't get a Trump vibe from OFL. Hope not, bc my chorus refers to me as such. A more Trumpian "leader" term might come from some of these titles used in N. Korea.

Carola 9:14 AM  

I thought this was an admirable WEB OF LIES (I'm guessing it might be more impressive in the newspaper's grayed-out threads rather than in the online circles) and also enjoyed the SEACOASTS, DIME STORE, EWE LAMB, the echo of PFFT and FTS, and NEW X WHOPPER: what will be today's?
One do-over: After TALL TALES and FABLE, I confidently wrote in FanTasy.

Nancy 9:20 AM  

(I had gray squares, not annoying tiny little circles, @chefwen -- meaning that this most enjoyable Tuesday puzzle was not in the least spoiled for me. Whew!)

Loved the theme and the density of it. Loved the oblique way so many of the theme answers were clued, such as WHOPPER and INVENTION. But my favorite clue was "writing that can get you in trouble". I was thinking more along the line of "sexts" and that awful new acronym coinage NSFW --but neither fit. Never thought of LIBEL, and when it came in, I smiled widely.

I don't drive and I live in NYC where a trip up Madison Avenue in a cab can be a rickety adventure. So that when I had ?OL??S for "Things most interstates don't have", I'm thinking (wait for it!)...HOLES.

A very enjoyable Tuesday and -- dare I say, and I bet many of you have already said it-- sadly appropriate to the times we live in.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

Nazi is also, quite innocently, a name in Russian culture which also happens to be the first name of a former two time US Women’s chess champion.

pmdm 9:37 AM  

Z: Please don't start that up again.

I have modified my attitude towards Ross since reading the constructor comments for today's puzzle. Truly sad. Anyway, seems that this puzzle's theme is somewhat political. Which some comments here have inferred.

The puzzle perhaps challenged me in a pleasant way (but, as is typical for a Tuesday puzzle, not a lot).Thumbs up.

Pamela 9:42 AM  

@ Frantic- I had to go back and read last night to catch up on the emoji question. I say πŸ‘! The way you use them is fun and very much a part of your ‘voice’ on this blog. Please keep them coming!

@Joe Dipinto- Thanks for the Bach- I ____ that!

As for the puzzle, I finished last night and had nothing to say but Meh, so I didn’t bother. Much more interesting to wait and see what you all came up with. Having said that, I have heard of EWELAMB, long ago in some novel somewhere, probably involving a sheep farm and births. And I’m from a SEACOAST area, so although the term is not used so much any more, that’s familiar too.

As clued, UMP crossing DMV was a near Natick, but somehow I got through it- lucky guess on the M, thinking maybe plate was sports-related, specifically baseball, and got the happy music. Do UMPS really brush off the home plates? Seems odd!


@TTrimble, Congrats! My last two yesterday were the same two K words. I figure a lot of the long ones are either a short word extended by a common ending, or two short words, so I look for 3 or 4 letter combos to put together.

Today, OTOH, I’m stumped again at Genius, with 12 to go after a pretty long run of good guesses. I’ll try again a little later. Sometimes after a break I get another good run.

What? 9:52 AM  

It’s been a few years but I don’t remember tolls on I-75, from Michigan to Florida.

Nancy 9:54 AM  

@GILL -- Like everyone else here, I've been charmed and entertained over the years by all the colorful biographical details you tend to include in your posts. But I wonder if any of them has shed more light on your background than the absolutely delicious one you include today:

That your mother made you wear white gloves to the courthouse!

Even if it didn't produce the desired result, it's so revealing. Not only of a family, but of a bygone era in America.

Nancy 10:12 AM  

Oh, and I forgot. Sorry, everyone. Don't miss today's Cryptogram, @Joe D. It's very amusing.

Newboy 10:17 AM  

Thanks Clare for a pleasant change of voice in today’s comment.

Saw circles & thought hmmmm. Did FABLE & TALL TALES and thought just do circles? Made the day much more fun than grappling with UMPS &DPS, etc. After those two gimmies, was able to untangle this WEB OF LIES without more than a couple mental excursions outside the circles. Made for a little cerebral gymnastics 🀸‍♀️ on this morning. Looked for Google images of web, but only saw πŸ•· after πŸ•·, so the posters above who dinged the grid as not weblike I give grudgingly a πŸ‘πŸΌ. I initially thought of 🌎 wide web & liked the iPad graphic. Anyhoo, I say well done Ross—I do enjoy your puzzles.

Whatsername 10:26 AM  

Well this was fun and might’ve even been sparkly enough for Rex had he been here too trash it, I mean critique it today. My only stumble was FANTASY for FICTION, because TALLTALES at 4D had me thinking it was going to be some sort of make-believe theme, but I recovered nicely. My reaction to EWELAMB was like yesterday’s HAIKUPOEM but it really is a thing. And yes, a male baby sheep is called a ram lamb according to official online sheep terminology

Actually some interstates do have TOLLS, and and the toll police - at least the ones in OK and TX - will hunt you down if you miss paying one, even if it’s only for chump change. Like Liam Neeson, they will find you and they will make you pay.

Is an UNTRUTH the same as an alternative fact? Is the truth really the truth? Asking for Rudy Giuliani who seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth. Maybe he’s hiding in the bunker.

Re emojis, TTrimble said it well at 10:14 last night. Yes I use them but primarily to clarify the intention of a statement if I think there’s even a remote chance that the reader will misconstrue what I intended. Saying something in writing – especially to CYBERFRIENDS we’ve never met - leaves way more room for interpretation than saying it face to face.

@Frantic: As for your posts, I like the emojis. Well actually I like your posts with or without them but don’t let it go to your head. :-) ;-). An interesting fact: I use the dictation feature on my iPad to post these comments. I just dictated “smiley face winky face,” and those two emoticons appeared. Who knew? And BTW, I knew you were of the feminine gland because I stalked you on your profile and read your blog. But tell me please, I know lesbo (not that there’s anything wrong with that [Blissfully Happy Face]) but what on earth is an opode?

William of Ockham 10:29 AM  

I was alternately bored or annoyed as the uninteresting fill kept coming and the stupid lines jumped all over the grid as I tried to type. I doubt I would have enjoyed it more on paper.

Thinly veiled political commentary on Trump (Who I loathe for his inability to speak in coherency, I've started to imagine what life must be like for International translators - reading dialogue from Merrie Melodies® would suffice rather than actual translation) but I feel strongly that current world figures ought not be thematic material for XWP.

So two thumbs down on this one for about 2,916 reasons.

Tom R 10:29 AM  

Nice write-up, Clare. I could nominate you to replace Rex if he ever retires from this.

EdFromHackensack 10:31 AM  

How can I get DMV/INVENTION wrong?!! (DMd/INdENTION). ughh

ChuckD 10:32 AM  

@ bauskern - the point is maybe he shouldn’t try to show off his constructor chops if the final result is flat. He needed so many themers just to get the web pattern - for what? - it doesn’t look like a web and the remaining fill is lacking. This is classic “look what I can do - don’t care whether it’s enjoyable or not “.

mathgent 10:37 AM  

Clare expressed my feelings exactly. “Nothing really popped.” As I was doing it, I was thinking, “Ah, a bunch of synonyms for lies. Is that all?” Sadly, yes.

Too many Terrible Threes, 21.

The clue for INS was “Outs’ opposite.” C’mon, man!

The only meaty word in the puzzle was in the clue for 36A, “mendacious.” Remember Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof bellowing about mendacity?

Masked and Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Turned the puzgrid into a symmetric(al) web site. Different. Like.
Shoot, if they coulda squeezed ALTERNATEFACTS in, this theme set woulda read just like the binder tabs on that there White House press secretary's news briefin folder.

Lotsa nice weeject choices today, includin primo stacks in the NE & SW. staff pick: FTS [abbreve for feet: var.].

fave themer: WHOPPER. Honrable mention to the vowels of UNTRUTH, tho.

Like many TuesPuzs, ?-mark clues were strictly rationed today. SMUT got one, and that seems to be about it.
You'd think either symmetric twin of PFFT/BLAH mighta got a ?-mark clue. But then, the editorial staff musta had some dead lines to deal with.

Thanx for the fun with fiction, Mr. Trudeau.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Doug Garr 10:46 AM  

Clare, DPs is a common abbreviation for the double play. Then and now. In the majors press box and on Sunday softball for old guys. Please. Tell your sister to pay attention. Twin killing is antiquated and quaint and a decent clue (and nobody uses it any more).

Ernonymous 10:49 AM  

@frantic I must have must have missed something, but what is the rating system? Those emojis at the end of your posts mean something?

JD 10:49 AM  

@Pamela, Yes on novel long ago. Hardy maybe?

@Dave in Ancaster, Interesting read. Who knew the sheep industry was having problems?

@DSM, Don't get what you're saying. I've heard, "That was a whopper" or "Pure invention." Both meaning lie.

@Joe D., Good list. Doesn't anyone remember those old B&W movies with a snap-out-of-it face slap followed by, "Thanks, I needed that" scene. Later there was a Mennen Skin Bracer commercial where a young, skinny John Goodman slapped it on and said the line. Google it. He was hot. Who knew.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

someone asked why sheep don't get neat names like filly or colt.
It's a question born of rank ignorance. Sheep get all kinds of wonderful names.

The analogs to filly and colt are hogget ( A nifty pun if you know the film Babe) and a young ram is called a tup.

Further, of course there is the general lamb for a sheep under a year old.
Ewes are often called Yoes
Rams are often called bucks
a yaeling ewe is also known as shearling, gimmer theave or teg.

The idea that sheep don't have a rich vocabulary associated with them is mindbogglingly wrong.

Canon Chasuble 10:53 AM  

Filled in all the shaded squares (circles for those not using the newspaper puzzle) in less than five minutes, then stopped. I just didn’t care about or bother with the rest of it.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

at least in the Northeast part of the USofA, interstates with tolls were, mostly, existing toll roads (often named Turnpikes) that then were designated Interstate XXX. saved a bunch of money, and having two limited access highways side by each. whoever did the drafting of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways copied just that sleight of hand used to demark the US Route system decades earlier.

dadnoa 10:57 AM  

+1 for succinctness. Also, +1 for Clare following Liverpool. Great puzzle summary. With law school online, Rex should hire you for one more monthly write-up :)

Crimson Devil 11:01 AM  

Re EGRET, were it not for McIlhenny (Tabasco folks) family’s declaring Avery Island, LA , a sanctuary, milliners would have wiped out EGRET population. They now migrate through there every year.

Ernonymous 11:02 AM  

@anonymous 9:21 the name in Russian is Π½Π°Π·ΠΈ and the word for Nazi in Russian is Π½Π°Ρ†ΠΈ, which are two different words entirely. The name is transliterated and pronounced with an accent over the i.

Blackbird 11:09 AM  

I found this puzzle easy, and I'm "puzzled" by Clare's response. Yes, of course sea coast is a "thing". Yes, ewe lamb is a "thing". And, nothing wrong with the word "Aryan", although, unfortunately, it has been appropriated by ignorant bigots. Aryan is a term used to denote an ethnic group that invaded India around 2,000 BCE. The only awkwardness I encountered was a natick, the cross 38A and 38D, first letter in each word. I also don't think the answers to clues for the theme, "web of lies", are synonyms for "lie". A fable is not a lie, nor is a fiction, nor is an invention. A fable is a work of fiction, with a moral. It is not meant to deceive, as a lie is. It is meant to be understood as a made-up story, with a point, the point being the moral. A fiction also is a made-up story, a literary term. It is not meant to be thought of as describing "true" events, but, rather, can be entertaining, illuminating, but, recognizably a made-up story. Invention is a creation, usually a creation of something new. Of course, credulous people, naive people, may believe a fable, a fiction, an invention, is true, a truthful account of something that really happened, but that does not mean fables, fictions, inventions are lies. Pleasant puzzle! Thank you, Ross Trudeau!

Smith 11:11 AM  

@TTrimble 6:51

πŸ– for inventing EWELing!

Mary McCarty 11:12 AM  

@ChuckD...9 themers, all intersecting! When was the last time you ever saw that? And, yes, it is symmetrical, if you’ll check my avatar today (the only way I can figure out how to include a photo); it makes a lovely plaid. I would have preferred no circles or shadings; with that many themers (synonymous, but with a little wiggle room) I think I would’ve caught the theme without that visual crutch.

@GILL, Nancy—white gloves! Now that IS something from another ERA! Conjured up visions of Easter mornings with my 3 sisters, all in new straw hats and white gloves. Long white gloves? Senior Prom, of course! I also enjoy your stories, along with LMS, Queen of Biographical Asides!❤️ I had a college roommate who covered for me “I think she’s at the library, Mrs.H.” Good thing I got (almost- no FIB there) straight A’s!
( I’ll have to go back and read yesterday’s emoji debate now.)

RooMonster 11:24 AM  

(Great handle, BTW, I've meant to tell you before)
It was @Frantic herself who used that "slanderous, how-dare-he" word in her own post. I was just being an apist. (Aper? Apeist? How about copier...)

No ruffled feathers here. I just didn't want to be known as a Rude-er here. (A make-up-worder, sure)

RooMonster Word Genius Guy (har!)

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

what is pfft. pfft??? pfft??????

Malsdemare 11:34 AM  

Count me in as wanting to have something Trump-ish as the revealer, maybe something about viral videos. I thought the puzzle was clever and timely. You all know I like almost all puzzles so I guess that won’t surprise you.

@Frantic, I’m just fine with emoji; go for it. I’d use them more but there are so many and I’m too impatient to go searching for just the right “je ne sais quoi.” Although I did find one of a ☄️ that I used last week when I was trying like mad to get our telescope remote to work so I could see Neowise. Never succeeded; the remote screen is dead. (So now I’m scrolling through the plethora of images searching for a tombstone with RIP on it and what category might it be in? Travel? Health? Activity? Places? Nope. By the way, there’s a Pirate flag emoji; who knew? Okay, maybe this will work: πŸ“΅)

Sorry, sort of wandered off into lala land there for a bit.

@Gill, hand up for the white gloves, also the ban on white anything after Labor Day, hats (women) in church. Those were the days, my friend. Don’t miss that prescriptive life at all.

Whatsername 11:44 AM  

@Joe DePinto (8:42) πŸ˜‚. Or :-D if you prefer. Or ROFLOL. It’s funny.

@burtonkd (9:06) I may be misinformed, but I thought North Korea’s official term for 45 was Dotard. Fascinating link you provided. I found myself imagining which title he would choose as best describing himself as a “leader.” My money would be on “Dear Leader Who is a Perfect Incarnation of the Appearance That a Leader Should Have.” There are so many that apply, it would be a tough call.

I forgot to mention in my earlier post but I thoroughly appreciate all my CYBER FRIENDS here on this blog. It has become a spot of lightness, wit, knowledge, wisdom, and hope that I look forward to each day. So thank you all for providing a much NEEDED distraction to the chaos of the world right now. Or as @Frantic Sloth would say, πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ŠπŸ€—

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

what is pfft. pfft??? pfft??????

a dismissive much like 'phooey' frequently emitting from Nero Wolfe.

ED 12:03 PM  


pmdm 12:12 PM  

Since there have ben some comments on tolls on interstates, I decided to provide my 2 cents. As one who at least annually used to drive from NYC to Chicago and now drive biannually from NYC to San Diego, this is my observation.

Many states east of the Mississippi River have a major highway, often called a Turnpike. NJ.PA OH and IN are examples. NYS has a Thruway. These are all tollways. IL even has an interstate (mostly) system called a Tollway, especially around Chicago. In addition,many bridges (like the BWB) have independent tolls. Most of these accept EZ Pass, but beware Florida.

While toll roads do exist west of the Mississippi, they seemed to me much rarer and quite avoidable.

But all over the country, most of the interstate highways are free and outnumber by far the tollways (with some bridge tolls such as the Delaware River Bridge on I-80.

I guess you can file this under useless information.

Joe Dipinto 12:25 PM  

@Nancy – I did forget about the Cryptogram! Thanks for the reminder, I'll look at it in a bit.

BobL 12:54 PM  

Can you tell me where to find this Cryptogram?

Z 12:55 PM  

@bauskern - To add to @burtonkd's splainer - it's pronounced "awful" or "offal." Said lovingly of course. 😎

@ED - Nobody said that. All anon7:09 pointed out was that EGRETs were nearly hunted to extinction and to blithely ignore all that as this clue did is unfortunate. "Unfortunate." Such extremism.
Relatedly- @bauskern - it was the clue not the answer that was questioned, and again, "unfortunate."

@RooMonster - I knew why you used the term.

@Chuck D - Put me firmly in the "closest thing possible to a WEB in grid art" camp. Well, maybe if diagonals had been used it could have been more WEBby, but then we're probably talking a Thursday puzzle, so I guess I'm in the "closest thing possible to a WEB in Tuesday grid art" camp.

@anon10:50 - Apologies about the mind boggle. All new terms to me.

@kitshef - Are we really so far removed from the farming/ranching way of life? Yes. The number I found for US rural population in 2019 is 57,576,495 as opposed to an urban population of 270,663,028. This means that only 20% of Americans are even "rural," let alone living an agricultural lifestyle.

Richardf8 12:59 PM  

Tall Tales was my fave, themer or not, I loved the cluing on it. I looked at first with dread at that celtic knot of shaded squares, but ultimately thought it worked.

Cyberfriend? Really? Sticking e- or cyber- in front of a random noun is something I’m coming to view as the new crosswordese. What next? Session state browser token from - CYBEROREO?

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

I saw a few rough SPOTs (IN SPOT being the worst, in my opinion) in this puzzle but the theme answers and the nifty revealer definitely made up for them in my book. (Would anyone in this day and age say FLY AT? Tell the truth!)

I mixed up my wrists and ankles, fixed the T of tARsI to a C but momentarily forgot the S should a P and spent some time wondering why a WOK was a sAN.

My mother and I were at the Woolworth's soda fountain in Albert Lea, MN back in the 70s. Mom wanted a banana split. The girl working the counter said, "I'm sorry, we don't have any bananas. But you could have a lime cooler." I'm still trying to figure out why a lime cooler would make a good substitute for a banana split. Perhaps they had an overstock?

Thanks, Ross Trudeau, for such a timely puzzle.

And @Gill I, LOL on your lie story and your closing line.

jberg 1:46 PM  

So I saw FICTION in shaded squares, decided to try some more, and got FABLE right away. (@Blackbird, fable and the other terms you mention are also used metaphorically for lies, even though they have other meanings. @Gill's mother, in the story she relates above, may well have described her alleged trip to the library as "quite a fable.") So then I tried to get all the other themers without any crosses that I didn't have, but couldn't quite do it --I think INVENTION, with no crosses, was too much for me.

At this point, the interlocking lies looked like a trellis to me -- and then TRELLIS showed up at 19A, which was confusing. But the "spun" in the revealer clue cleared that up.

My two biggest problems were a) that the grayed-in down answers looked a little like black squares. That probably cost some nanoseconds, but since I don't time myself, I can't complain; b) I always get my CARPI and my tarsi mixed up (even though I have carpal tunnel syndrome, go figure!), and made the wrong choice at first. I also think the plural of gar is probably gar, but OK.

Now for the interesting stuff.

EWE LAMB--I'm pretty sure I've heard this used as an endearment by people, especially women, a generation or two above mine; as I recall, it was used in a gender-neutral way for someone sweet and cuddly, as in "aw, he's just a little EWE LAMB."

On that gender-neutral note, my university's athletes were known as the Rams. When women's sports came in, it was something of a problem. The women's teams didn't want to be "The Ewes," so they ended up being "The Lady Rams." I'm not sure how long that name will last.

@Z, I take your point -- and have noticed it before -- that no one knows about rural life anymore. So many kids have never been on a farm, or in the woods for that matter. I'm very much in agreement with Richard Louv's argument that many people suffer from "nature deficit disorder." Also, no one reads anymore, and cowboy movies have gone out of style.

SEACOAST: We have the New Hampshire Seacoast, so designated, a little north of here. It's about 30 miles long, I think. But there's also one of the two most famous stage directions in Shakespeare, "On a seacoast of Bohemia."

I was going to say that one of the founding articles of the study of fractals was called "How long is a seacoast?" but fortunately I looked it up first: it was "How long is a coastline?" so that wouldn't have helped.

What I learned today: that the original REO Speed Wagon was a truck; I always thought it was a child's wagon.

@Frantic, I like the emojis fine, but I usually read the blog on a PC using Chrome, and they don't show. If I use my iPhone, I can see them fine, but it's too hard to write my own comments. But keep them up!

Joe Dipinto 1:49 PM  

@Mathgent – yes, Big Daddy and the "mendacity". Also, Maggie complaining about the "no-neck monsters". "Big Daddy hadn't been at that table two minutes with them no-neck monsters slobbering an' drooling over their food before he threw down his fork and shouted 'Fo' God's sake, Gooper! Why don't you feed them pigs at a trough in the kitchen?!!!'"

T. Williams was always about family fun and togetherness.

@Nancy – I guess it's appropriate that I did the cryptogram while eating lunch in Greenpoint. Brooklyn, that is.

jberg 1:50 PM  

Some anonymous person responded to my complaint about spoilers of other puzzles yesterday, saying the spoilers were for a puzzle over a month old. Point taken; the problem is that when I see that someone is discussing an answer, I stop reading immediately, without investigating further to see what puzzle it was. Also, there are many people (not me) who like to work through old puzzles-- so it really is best to never give answers, IMO.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

Perhaps a bit niche, but SEACOAST is definitely in common use in New Hampshire, where my wife grew up. The state has a tiny Atlantic coastline in the Portsmouth area by the Maine border.

Xcentric 1:57 PM  

Only Trump themed puzzle I think I could tolerate.
Even the non-theme answers would fit the theme:
COVID-19 but for Trump - preventable
His relationships -smut
How he spends his day - loaf
Who he screws on a regular basis - lessee
How his presidency leaves the US - indebt
Russia - cyberfriend
What we hope most of his executive orders get - overruled
Where his sales skills belong - carlot

old timer 2:11 PM  

We have EGRETs in Tomales Bay. Maybe a different variety than the ones hunted for their plumage? Handsome birds, though pelicans are more fun to watch.The puzzle was slower than I expected but entirely fair, another Trudeau gem. I especially liked the clue that revealed the DMV was populated by sloths, in the movie Zoolander.

There are indeed EWE LAMBS and Ram LAMBS, though in Northern England and Scotland, Rams are "Tups" and a male lamb is a "tup lamb." And "tup" is the precise word for what a tup does to his "yos" (ewes). A tup's entire reason for existence is to help create lambs. Maybe only one tup in 50 survives to perform his male duties -- the rest are castrated and called wethers, or end up on your dinner plate.

What a drag having to attend law school remotely. Yeah, Claire might as well move to Montana. But I would suggest New Orleans. The weather is better, at least when it's not raining, the food is way better, and Tulane probably allows nonstudents to use their law library.

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

@Z, @kitshef:

I once had occasion to argue with some members of the Radical Right, who're intent upon taking the USofA back to the 1850s. Ya know, when wimins couldn't vote, most white men couldn't either, and black folk did almost all the work. For free, "A necessary evil" in the words of Tom Cotton (such an apropos name for such a Right Wingnut, sho nough).

Here's the number of states with majority rural population (2010): Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, Mississippi. Only one of which is truly in God's Country. And being ravaged by Covid just because of idiot governance.

Nancy 2:57 PM  

@BobL -- If you get the actual newspaper, the Cryptogram is right next door to the puzzle, on the same page. If you do the puzzle online, I fear it's not available anywhere. But I have a similar problem: when you do the puzzle in the paper as I do, you don't get Spelling Bee, which you do get online. A little something for everyone.

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

is it agribusiness or Mom&Pop? you tell me.
"Large-scale family farms ($1 million or more in GCFI) accounted for about 3 percent of farms but 46 percent of the value of production."

it was Jefferson who envisaged a USofA consisting of just 'yeoman farmers'. not very visionary. even Europe by then was urbanized. and we stole lots and lots of manufacturing tech from them.

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

@Anon 7:09 here. Thanks @Z for the backup. As you note, what was objectionable was the clue and not EGRET by itself. The clue called egrets a “source of beautiful plumes.” Note not possessors of or displaying plumes but *source* of plumes, meaning plumes for the taking. It’s like cluing PLANTATION as a “source of hard workers.”

Pdxrains 3:18 PM  

Thought the same!!

Pdxrains 3:19 PM  


Pdxrains 3:21 PM  

Wow, and Aryan in a web of lies. How poignant in our current political landscape!!

Frantic Sloth 3:22 PM  

@kitshef from last night. I gotcha, and whether intentional or not, you really made me laugh!  Pizza=party favor, Cloud=brain. (Not sure which emoji @Smith used looks like haggis, but ew! LOL) If you're using Windows PC, your descriptions are  more accurate. (I've noticed this on my own laptop - the "artwork" is much cruder)

Puzzle note: my online version didn't have the circles and thank goodness for that! What a visual nightmare that would have been! Ugh!

@Roo & @Anonymoose  Roo is exactly right and I'm sorry you missed that. Roo is among the nicest people on here, so had I not already used the term myself, I still would have cut him major slack.

@Joe D 842am. Hilarious! Another classic. Ditto 149pm and "T. Williams was always about family fun and togetherness."

@Z  Of course you are right about all things anonymice. I should know better.  Your link to sheep terms was quite  illuminating, but seemed to be missing one: the Baa Ram Ewe.

@GILL @Nancy, Yesss!! The white glove section of GILL's riotous account was my favorite part! I still have photos from childhood of cousins' birthday parties where my mother and aunt dressed to the nines and wore pearls. A bygone era indeed.

@Malsdemare  Since I clearly have nothing better to do, I searched my iPad for an R.I.P. or other tombstone-y emoji, to no avail. Of course there's a skull (yuck) or a coffin (double yuck) but no tombstone. That's just wrong.

@Whatsername You're too kind and now I can't leave this room for lack of a wider doorway. πŸ˜‰ "Opodes" is all @Z's. His preferred suffix for all things plural. He can better explain, but I believe it's pronounced "oh poh dees", while I prefer the mouth-breather version: "oh pohdz".
And I'm right there with you regarding CYBERFRIENDS on this blog.

@Giovanni A while back I introduced my "rating system" based on difficulty (brains 🧠) and fun/enjoyment (party favors πŸŽ‰). The scale is 1 to 5, with the occasional fraction thrown in for faux precision.

@Xcentric 157pm Amen and well done!

@Anonymous 254pm I always thought Tom Cotton was a made-up name or should have been an L.M.A. character: "Uncle Tom Cotton"

And to all who participated in the poll, thank you. It's always good to take a group temp occasionally, IMHO, and your feedback was very helpful. A special shout out to those "against" for your honesty and having the courage to voice it.

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

anon 2:54

Cotton didn't say that. And there is nothing shocking in saying of slavery "As the Founding fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on a course to its extinction."

The formulation that slavery was tolerated as a necessary evil at the time of our founding tand that hat the Founders expected (no doubt overoptimistically) hat slavery was indeed on a path to extinction is a fairly standard one, and a mostly accurate way of putting the vastly more complicated story of the Founding-era slavery and anti-slavery debate in a nutshell.

Richard 3:35 PM  

@Petsounds: Take the initial letters of 14D, 32A, 41D, 22A and 1A. That circle(ish) of letters gives you the desired result. It was hiding there all the time

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

Re: Cotton Mouth

"As the founding fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built"

my emphasis, of course. in standard English, the use of 'As' in the context is to joinder with the statement. He did that.

"When asked to point to a founding father who used the phrase "necessary evil" to describe the existence of slavery at the nation's founding, James Arnold, a spokesman for Cotton, referred to a passage from an Abraham Lincoln-Stephen Douglas debate in 1858, but did not provide evidence of a founding father making that claim."

so, to cover his ass, he lied about the 'source' of the assertion. not surprising.

" "You said, quote: 'As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built.' That 'as' denotes agreement. Further, if by path to extinction you mean growing the enslaved (population) from 500k to 4 million at Civil War, a war fought over slavery, then, ok," Nikole Hannah-Jones, a staff writer for the Times, wrote in response to Cotton's tweet. "

here (and many places, of course):

Anonymous 3:58 PM  

one last, I think, point about 'necessary evil'. there is nothing inherent in farming that makes slavery necessary. now, is there?

those who've read up on the War of Northern Aggression know, it actually began years earlier. it was called, among other things, Bloody Kansas. you read it up on The Wiki. fighting between farmers (white and free) in soon to be Kansas, and slave holding farmers in Missouri, over whether Kansas would be a free state or a slave state. the Kansas farmers weren't abolitionist, per se. they simply understood that should Kansas be a slave state, their lives as farmers would be over, to be replaced by slaves. common self-interest.

sharonak 3:58 PM  

Since it is afternoon for most of you I may be repeating a previous comment.
YES CLARE sea coast IS a thing.
I felt like you were trying to emulate Grouchy Rex with your "nit" over one theme being plural, and your complaint about no fun in the rest of the puzzle.

I smiled big when I realized slugs did not mean slimy crawlers, and at the clue "object of dirty looks" for smut. plus seeing all the synonyms for "lie" appear as I went through the puzzledwas quite fun.

Schuly 4:07 PM  

DPs not a thing. Uh, okay, sure.

Anonymous 4:16 PM  

The interstate highway clue for TOLLS is mildly dubious.

Most interstate highways, and in fact most highways, have no tolls, but most toll roads are interstate highways.

Anonymous 5:36 PM  

To Frantic Sloth:

If you have had accounts hacked in one way or the other as often as my wife and I have (no lost money, but plenty of wasted time), you might be reluctant to give information to any more sites than absolutely necessary.

So I am happy to give my opinions here, which anyone is free to disregard because I won't give my name.

JC66 5:48 PM  

@Anon 5:36

You could set up a google account using any alias you like (without providing any personal information) and we'd be able to distinguish you from the other Anons.

Z 7:00 PM  

@Toll Clue Complainers - What Are You Talking About? Things most interstates don't have is a spot on clue for TOLL.

RPCV Cameroon 8:40 PM  

@ Clare before you move to Montana consider the time difference when it comes to classes. My wife showed me an article about Harvard students in Europe who were in class at 10 or 11 pm. And some in China in the middle of the night. An 8am class would come mighty early in Montana

Crimson Devil 9:06 PM  

Yo, anon 5:36, c’mon join us, as whoever you pretend to be: no tracing, unless you wish, or are afraid of making fool of yourself in “public”, in which case Welcome to the club.

Pamela 9:22 PM  


I’m still slogging away, only 6 to go now. My hopes are not very high for this one. Oh well.

TTrimble 10:04 PM  


Hey @Pamela

I'm 2 away, and have been for some hours. I'm not confident either.

A little ritual has evolved: if I'm only a few away, I ask my son (who is 19) to look up the missing entries, and ask him a single question: do you know these words? Maybe that'd be considered cheating, I don't know. But tonight he came out with a new one: "I know one of these words, but I don't think you know it." "Ho ho ho!!" I cry. Maybe he was slyly trying to light a fire under my butt, with such a throwdown challenge to my word knowledge, but even with the added motivation, it's not clear I'll get there. We shall see!

Barbara S. 10:36 PM  

Hi @Pamela and @TTrimble
I'm getting no time to blog these days but I thought I'd do a quick check-in on SB. I gave up today with one word unfound. A bit of a heartbreaker but that's closer than I've come to QB for maybe 10 days. @TT, I'll be interested to hear tomorrow which word your son thought you didn't know and whether he was right!

Good productive discussion and outcome re ROT-13 the other day. I enjoyed finding out what it was and trying my hand at using and decoding it, but I did find it a bit tedious.

Anyway, keep on truckin', all you SBers! Let's hope tomorrow's puzzle doesn't try to top today's 50 words.

Monty Boy 11:30 PM  

Re: the twin killing, my son's tee shirt:


Burma Shave 10:36 AM  


UNTRUTH that it’s PREVENTABLE to stop her;
WELL, she’s LIBEL to beFRIEND almost


thefogman 10:39 AM  

Our regular ̶g̶r̶u̶m̶p̶ UMP isn’t in but Clare did a great job filling in. Lacking VIM and kind of BLAH. Maybe it’s a tribute to a very stable genius?

spacecraft 12:38 PM  

My biggest gripe about today's puzzle was that I couldn't find the damn thing because the @^(%$& SYNDILINKER FELL ASLEEP AGAIN! WAKE UP!! YOU'RE STILL ON SUNDAY!!! I did finally find it--July 28, gotta write that down--after much tearing out of hair (virtually--no actual hair remains). You ESPECIALLY have to be awake on the cusp of the month.

I almost didn't bother, because I have nothing earth-shattering to say about the puzzle. Yes, there's a cool WEBOFLIES, shading not necessary, but as noted above, the fill suffers. ARIEL Winter for DOD. My rants are PREVENTABLE if you-know-who wakes up and smells the coffee. Bogey.

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Maybe just a syndicated thing but the circles made this puzzle almost unreadable and that took this down a peg or two by itself. It doesn't really look like a web so that's a bit of a bummer, too. Otherwise, the reviewer covered it pretty well--there's sort of a theme, there's lots of awkward clues for a Tuesday, and nothing really popped for me.

leftcoaster 3:33 PM  

On the tough side for Tuesday, with the ACAI/ENCINOMAN cross, and wanting LOesS before LOAMS.

A fulsome theme, but does it really consist of a whole WEBOFLIES as the revealer suggests? Have to take some issue with that. FABLE and FICTION aren't necessarily lies, and INVENTION is questionable. UNTRUTH, on the other hand, is a euphemism for pretty straight-out LIE.

As for the two non-theme long downs, liked CYBERFRIEND, especially, and PREVENTABLE was okay but kinda BLAH.

Overall, finished alright, but had to tussle some with this balky puzzle.

Diana, LIW 3:52 PM  

A *&$% Natick at the D of DMV/DPS - still don't know what the *$%# they mean.

All else fell in place.

@Spacey - whenever there is a "guest" taking Rex's place, they don't know how/don't know they should set up the SyndieCats' button - whatever that is. Still, it's pretty easy to get to any day's puzzle. Don't you have the months/years/days on the right-hand side of your screen in the blog?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 10:39 PM  

Double Play in baseball, and Dept of Motor Vehicles. Absolutely love the clue for DMV. Ross/Zootopia nailed it. This was a really good puz IMO. No political correctness, No impossible proper nouns, no esoteric nonsense. And just a little bit of a challenge for a Tuesday. Ross's puzzles usually don't disappoint.

wcutler 3:32 AM  

@Frantic Sloth 3:22 PM, thanks for the review of your rating system. It seems perfectly clear the second time around. A brain and a party favour that looks like an ice cream cone. Still fun. How could I not remember that?
Can I just copy an emoji? πŸŽ‰

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