Nicholas Gage memoir / MON 3-10-14 / Lacking key musically / Handyman's tote

Monday, March 10, 2014

Constructor: Kelly Clark

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Monday*) 

THEME: TOOL BOX (40A: Handyman's tote) — last words of four theme answers might be found in a TOOL BOX

Theme answers:
  • SINGLE FILE (17A: One-by-one formation, as in walking)
  • MIKE HAMMER (11D: Spillane detective)
  • ON THE LEVEL (29D: Honest)
  • FINGERNAIL (64A: Manicurist's target)
Word of the Day: "ELENI" (14A: Nicholas Gage memoir) —
Gage was born in the village of Lia in FiliatesThesprotiaEpirusGreece. He is most famous for two books of autobiographical memoirs, the best selling Eleni (1983) and A Place for Us (1989). Eleni describes the life of his family in Greece during the Second World War and Greek Civil War. Gage’s mother, Eleni, was executed for arranging the escape of her children from their Communist-occupied village. Decades later, as an adult, Gage sought out those responsible for her death. A Place for Us relates the Gage family’s experiences as immigrants in 1950s America in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1964, Gage earned a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
In 1985, Eleni was made into a feature film starring John Malkovich as Gage. In 1987, Eleni was cited by Ronald Reagan as an inspiration for his summit meetings to end the arms race with the Soviet Union. (wikipedia)
• • •

What a depressing puzzle to return home to. I had such a great time at the ACPT this weekend, where I was privileged to solve a number of top-notch puzzles. There was only one tourney puzzle I disliked—the rest were good-to-great. Creative, occasionally torturous, but almost always thoughtful, humorous, and (above all) carefully, artfully constructed. The quality here, today, on this Monday puzzle, is objectively substandard. I don't even feel I need to rehearse the litany of answers that just Do Not Belong in an easy-to-fill, early-week puzzle. ELENI? Why? That completely unnecessary bit of dated crosswordese is the poster child for everything wrong with this puzzle, and lazily filled easy puzzles. Crossing ILIE and FESS, relatively near SEAEEL and ARNE. Please, believe me, I am telling you the truth when I say I know two dozen people who could make that corner so much better, tighter, leaner, etc., Inside Of Two Minutes. And the junk continues. It's everywhere. Just stale stuff that old hands (like me) will know from decades of (over-) exposure. But it's the stuff that gives crosswords a bad name. OH OH crossing HA HAS? Plural? EKED and STEN? AMICI and TENKS? STENOS with OBIS on an ISLET? Everyone Has To Do Better than this. Constructors, editors, solvers … this lazy, hackneyed fill, in such copious, unnecessary quantities, is simply beneath the dignity of the self-professed Gold Standard of crossword publications.

The theme is off too. Three tools … and a nail. A nail is not a tool. Now, it gets out of jail free, I guess, for being, defensibly, in a TOOLBOX. But nail is out of place. Maybe FIXIT is up at 1A because it thinks it's a theme answer? But there's no symmetrical theme answers, and FIXIT seems at least partially responsible for the *terrible* NW corner, *and* it's a partial, *so* the puzzle is improved how? This clearly should've been rejected with suggestions for improvement *or* the grid should've been quietly improved by one of the in-house fixers (whose names you never hear). TOP THIS? Yeah, pretty sure I can.

I got slowed a bit at TOP THIS because the clue should've been ["Try and do better!"]. What the hell is "Yeah?" doing in there? (25A: "Yeah? Try and do better!") Was there a prior conversation? It's totally superfluous, and it threw me. Other things that threw me. TOOL KIT and TOOL BAG, both of which made appearances. This made PROXY impossible (for me) to see. Wait, I'm sorry, is that TEN in the grid? In the grid that also has TEN Ks?!? Did that really happen? OK, we're done here.

[Added note: one of the puzzles from this weekend's ACPT was made by today's constructor, Kelly Clark. I just redid that puzzle. It's solid. Perfectly good work. No idea what the hell happened with today's puzzle.]

The Puzzle of the Week for last week (which I didn't get a chance to announce yesterday) was Erik Agard's "All or Nothing" (Fireball Crosswords). I solved it, saw the trick, thought, "hmmm, that's interesting … but he's done better work, I think." Then 24 hours later realized that the trick had a dimension I Completely Missed, namely that it worked in All The Relevant Downs (as well as the three Acrossese where I'd noticed it). It's fantastic. Subscribe to Fireball to get it (and other great puzzles like it, once a week), or just read about the puzzle in detail here.

Photos from the tourney tomorrow. . . well, OK, I'll give you one today, since it makes me so happy. This is me with my friend Jen (from CT) and her service dog, Justice, the sweetest, most beautiful dog I've ever met (my own dogs excepted, of course).

Jen let Justice off-duty for a bit so she could play with me. The. Best. Thing. Dogplay! Hard to be tense about anything when lab wants to lick your face and sit in your lap and play tug-of-war etc. It was really cool to then see Justice go back on-duty: total calm, total focus. Just an amazing animal.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Steve J 12:49 AM  

This didn't thrill me by any means, but I didn't dislike it nearly as much as Rex. I thought the theme was fine. Every TOOL BOX I've ever had or seen has included nails, screws, nuts and bolts, etc., in addition to the tools used on them. So I thought that was fine. And I liked that none of the theme answers used the words in a literal sense. I've seen lazy themes that didn't do that consistently, so I was glad not to see that here.

Agreed that the NW was extremely rough (and I don't mean challenging, although it was the one corner of the puzzle that gave me any kind of resistance). I didn't notice much of anything else outside that corner, in part because this was one of my fastest Mondays ever, so I blazed by a lot of the ample crosswordese I saw was there after I finished the puzzle. I also didn't notice much because there's not much to notice. There's just not anything to note in the way of fresh, fun fill. That lack of interesting fill is what ultimately made this fall flat for me, but I still give credit for a decent theme.

OSXpert 12:55 AM  

I think the "Yeah?" is in the clue to make it clear that the speaker is not encouraging the person to try and do better. The "Yeah?" makes it a challenge. "Try and do better" could be from a coach egging you on.

wreck 1:05 AM  

Among my fastest Monday's as well. I solved it on the patio at a bar with a cigar and conversation with friends at the same time! Crazy, how we all "click" differently!

Z 1:18 AM  

I will disagree with Rex about one thing. A NAIL is definitely a TOOL. A HAMMER is actually fairly useless tool without a NAIL or 500. Well, useless as a TOOL to construct something.

Not just an EEL, but SEA EEL. Very, very different from Rouge River EELs.

Anoa Bob 2:11 AM  

Some handypersons may keep a NAIL or two in their TOOL BOX, but that doesn't make it a TOOL. I think of a NAIL as being a fastener, a category of hardware that includes bolts, nuts, screws, rivets, etc. HAMMERs, wrenches, screwdrivers, etc. are TOOLs with which one can make fasteners do their job.

If you don't believe me, just ask a factotum.

chefwen 2:35 AM  

One of the easiest Monday puzzles I have ever done. Do I say that every Monday?

@Ellen S. does calling it a SEA EEL make it any better than a regular old EEL? I thought not.

@Rex and @JenCT - Loved the pic of you two and Justice, brought a big 'ol smile to my face. So happy that we could all be a part of that happy union.

jae 3:08 AM  

Easy Mon. for me too. Exactly what @Steve J said, no need to copy and paste.

@chefwen -- Had pretty much the same thought re: @Ellen S and SEAEEL.

Moly Shu 4:21 AM  

I'm with @Jae here, @SteveJ pretty much hit the NAIL on .... Oh, never mind

JTHurst 5:57 AM  

I did not think the puzzle was too bad though I guess I DNF because I had Arna ( of which I had no clue) crossing 'and on'.

@chefwen I believe the sushi lovers might disagree with you on the classification of eels as some like their unagi and some their anago.

I did not even see a theme in this puzzle until Rex mentioned it. Some of the responses bring up a good question: is a tool only something that can be used multiple times or can single usage items like nails, screws, bolts, i-beams etc. be described as a tool.

Jack Lee 7:00 AM  

Nooo... it certainly wasn't challenging, even for a Monday. Didn't pick up on the theme, though, as it didn't occur to me that 11D and 29D were theme answers.

Glimmerglass 7:33 AM  

@anoabob: any Mr. Fixit will tell you that a nail is often a tool, a makeshift awl, scribe, punch, or even pencil.

Danp 8:15 AM  

It's kind of sad when you don't see a theme despite a reveal. But TOOLBOX wasn't clued as a reveal, so I didn't see it either. I'd bet there were at least five cross clues I never read either. I wonder how many Monday solvers look for unnecessary themes, or if any found a theme, thus helping them finish the puzzle.

AliasZ 8:21 AM  

This is not about tools, it's about TOOLBOX and its contents. True, I'd rather be a hammer than a nail, yes I would, if I only could, I surely would. And who wouldn't?

MIKE HAMMER reminded me that some sound-studio hands have been known to use a microphone as one.

After tens of thousands of years of human evolution, the HAMMER and NAIL is still IN GEAR.

An over-the-top vaudeville performer is really a HAMMER upper.

TILER sounds like a tribute to the second-place winner at the ACPT, but he would never use a HAMMER to install a tile, only to FIX IT.

I wonder if they still use HAMMER and NAILs to affix the lid of coffins with STIFFS in them, as they did in the old West.

Any good FIXIT gal knows that after a job well done, you slam the TOOLBOX lid closed and yell: ALL DONE. Just make sure your FINGER NAIL doesn't get caught. If it does, you will yell @*%&^$#!

In the creation of this TOOLBOX, not one SINGLE FILE or MIKE HAMMER was used, and no SEA EELS were harmed.

This puzzle made me think of silly things like this during the few minutes dedicated to solving it, while uttering a few OHOH and HAHAS. For that, TENKS, Kelly Clark.

joho 8:24 AM  

I did think it odd that Mr. FIXIT (which crosses with another additional handyman, Mr. TILER) was the lead off "theme" answer with no partner at 71A.

TOOLBOX reminded me of SOAPBOX right there in the middle of the grid, which caused me to make a comparison to that wonderful rebus last week.

INDIA/INK is a nice cross.

For what it's worth I don't consider a NAIL a tool, either, so that made the theme less NAILed down.

Thank you, @Rex, for the wonderful pic of you, @Jen CT and Justice!

NCA President 8:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
NCA President 8:32 AM  

Let's try this again...with spelling, capitalization, and actual sentence structure fixed...

On the Fireball site, which are the hardest puzzles...sizzlingly, blazingly, or infernally?

I think I'm going to subscribe to that...I'd consider giving up the Times, but then I wouldn't get to come here and read about how bad the Times' puzzles are.

I'm beginning to think that Will has an entirely different standard than Rex when it comes to editing...well, perhaps not a standard as much as a philosophical approach. Reading some of Will's comments on the NYT puzzles, it seems he overlooks a lot of things for the sake of a few stellar answers/clues. He's said as much on the xword blog. Tightness v. crosswordese just doesn't seem to be a thing to him, as much as "fun" solving with some landmark marquee answers.

I will say, since doing BEQ's puzzles, I see what Rex is talking about. And once seen, these minor annoyances can not be unseen.

Kim Scudera 9:16 AM  

Calling all physicists here! My last physics class was nearly 40 years ago, so I feel just a bit rusty on the topic of simple machines. But isn't a NAIL a form of the wedge, which is a tool, at least in the way that physicists use the term? Yes, I know that we think of the nail as something that's being acted upon, but it is really part of a team of tools acting upon an object, yes?

Z 9:18 AM  

As to lack of tightness, the revealer is TOOLBOX so that argument needs some duck tape.

As to what makes a tool a tool, a common definition is something used to manipulate (HAMMER and FILE fit this definition). But what about a LEVEL, it's just used to measure so it is different from the other three tools here. Does one have to be able to hold it in one's hand for it to be a tool? What about those robot production lines, then? Those roboticized lines aren't tools? Of course they are. I prefer to think of "tools" as all those things we use in our fight against entropy - the very reason we invented nails.


lawprof 9:27 AM  

This was a strange, almost unique, solving experience for me, especially for a Monday. It seemed almost too easy - so much so that I felt like I was running downhill, to the point where I kept stumbling forward and making mistakes, kinda like unforced errors in tennis. As a result, lots of writeovers: Oops/OHOH; TOOLBag/TOOLBOX; ITisi/ITSME (misread the clue); Tape/TIVO (Q: does anyone "tape" anymore?); Skies(!)/SLEDS. So, in the end, what should have been an easy puzzle turned out to me more of a challenge. Blame it on daylight savings.

chefbea 9:32 AM  

Thought it was a good puzzle...and of course thought of Tim the Tool Man.

Great picture of Rex, Jen and Justice!!! Look forward to seeing more

Norm 9:44 AM  

I felt like I was doing an airline flight magazine puzzle. Had to look at maybe three or four down clues; the rest filled in on the acrosses. Disappointingly easy -- even for a Monday.

jberg 10:01 AM  

Message to @Z:


Signed, Entropy

I almost didn't see the theme because, as with so many others, I saw the FIXIT TOOLBOX diagonal procession and was looking to see it completed at 71A with another handyman-related answer, preferably one with an X in it.

But what should we think about that? Is Mr. FIX-IT an extra bit of garnish, or an unfortunate distraction? I'm not sure, personally.

I was all ready to claim that a SEA EEL is like green paint, but @JTHurst straightened that out, so thanks for that! I've eaten a lot of sushi, and never noticed the distinction.

I wish I'd remembered MOE as MuE, or something, so that I could say I ERRed in the HERA AREA. (Sorry, that sentence had to be written).

Ah well, on to Tuesday.

Laurence Katz 10:09 AM  

I don't think Rex was too harsh this time. This puzzle was so full of crud - and so boring - I did something I have never done before: I put it down before I was done. Not worth the time.

loren muse smith 10:31 AM  

Yeah – Kelly's puzzle number one was terrific and a great way to kick off the tournament. For today's, I loved that 1A was FIXIT, crossing TILER. INK right over INDIA was cool – hey, @joho!

TOP THIS could be used when playing the Famous Last Words game that my sisters and I used to play.

TACT, LIED. Well. Yeah, sometimes. If the woman is already out and committed to wearing the dress – no way to change – then, no, it absolutely does not make her look fat.

@Bob K – IT'S ME. Bob and me talked grammar a lot over the weekend. I infinitely prefer IT'S ME to "it is I." If I say the latter, I just feel like an $#@hole.

I'm with @Steve J, Z, Glimmerglass, AliasZ - all those things you can find in a TOOL BOX. Agree with Rex, though, that NAIL is an outlier. I had vaguely entertained a Mr. FIXIT theme once, but my husband's go-to FIXIT equipment is simply the following:


I couldn't come up with two fun, symmetrical pairs. (Please note, with surprise and admiration, that he's not a duct tape guy.) And also please understand I'm not just being funny. These really are his cherished implements when working around the house. If he comes whistling through the kitchen with the caulk gun and/or a handful of sixteen penny nails, I know he's either hanging pictures or tightening up a loose banister.

The blow torch doubles as his go-to yard work tool. That and a regular ole hand saw. I'll spare you the details of the time he decided to "weed" around our wooden fence in a very dry September with his blow torch. SINGE has appeared recently in a couple of grids. Picture hopping back and forth over a fence stomping out fires, shin hair. . .SINGE. . . nuff said.

I still haven't digested the tourney experience. More later on that. I'm going to get my kids (who are visiting me in Raleigh for the next couple of days) to help me get pictures from my phone to a place where you can see them.
@Bob, Nancy, Dave, Mac – please email me any pics you took!!

Norm C. 10:35 AM  

I was thinking, "Strange... a themeless Monday," but figured if you conflate SINGLE FILE with FINGER NAIL you can get NAIL FILE. Well, OK, that was the best I could come up with.

Put me in the NAIL is not a tool camp.

Finally, speaking of MIKE HAMMER, yesterday (Mar. 9) is Mickey Spillane's birthday.

Have a good week, everyone.

yoganut 10:36 AM  

I totally missed seeing the theme, but found the puzzle surprisingly easy. Maybe I've just stored too many of these old familiar x-word answers in my head.

Two Ponies 10:53 AM  

Easy and full of crap but so what. On to Tuesday.
I don't care if a nail is considered a tool or not since the theme (as I see it) is stuff you find in a tool box.
When I had single FILE and finger NAIL I thought the theme was Spa Day at first.
Will we see the tournament puzzles in the NYT as we have in the past?
Glad everyone had fun.

Steve J 11:17 AM  

@Z: Good call on the level. I wouldn't consider that a tool, either, if we're using a very strict definition of things you use to act on another object (like a hammer, file, screwdriver, drill, etc.). It's no more a tool than a measuring tape.

Further evidence to buttress the argument that the theme is not tools, but stuff in a TOOL BOX, in my opinion.

(Also an indictment on the flatness of the fill that the only thing we have to talk about with this one is what is and isn't a tool, and if it's relevant.)

Lewis 12:10 PM  

@steve -- your last comment in parenthesis was how I was going to start this post. Very little talk of the puzzle, so I guess not much stood out.

I saw FIXIT as a bonus, tangentially related to the theme.

This was way too easy for a Monday for an experienced solver, but probably not so easy for a newbie, given the crosswordese.

Rex, you are now the what greatest crossword solver in the universe???????

Benko 1:13 PM  

Awww....Justice. I kept admiring her from afar during the tournament, What a beautiful dog.

John V 1:22 PM  

Pretty easy, here. A Monday.

Ray J 1:27 PM  

What’s up with the ILIE and LIED symmetry?

Remember this one? WHAT A TOOL

John V 1:42 PM for the puzzles

retired_chemist 3:02 PM  

All criticisms in Rex's writeup and above are fair. I enjoyed it anyway.

Rex didn't mention STEN when he mentioned TEN and TENKS. Seems a lot of TENs.

Easy or easy-medium IMO.

sanfranman59 3:55 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:05, 6:18, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:08, 4:01, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging

Point of order 4:32 PM  

Time to downgrade your "Greatest Crossword Solver" claim from 40th to 62nd.

mac 5:31 PM  

Mr. Fixit has all these things in his toolbox, does the job, all done! Isn't an ell (L-shaped piece of metal) also used by carpenters to make straight lines?

I just noticed that Kelly flips a finger at the bottom of the puzzle.

I'm suffering from tournament withdrawal. Justice is the sweetest dog.

mac 6:37 PM  

@Benko: you were at the tournament?? Sorry to have missed you.

Benko 7:09 PM  

@mac: Yeah. Benko= Ben Coe. Sorry to have missed you as well. I was hoping to meet more bloggers. I did meet BruceNM. Kept an eye out for ACM , as I knew she was a judge, but didn't know what she (or anyone else) looked like.

mac 7:28 PM  

Ben!!! Congratulations!!!

Benko 7:38 PM  

Thanks! Was a pleasant shock for me this year.

mac 8:22 PM  

OK, next year we are putting stickers with our blog names on the idtags again. I did it for a couple of years, but then you know enough people to get along and let it go.... Very sorry about that now. Bob Kerfuffle had a beautiful, custom Kerfuffle tag on.

loren muse smith 8:48 PM  

@Benko - Congratulations!! Next year we'll seek you out so you can hang out with us Rexites (if you want to).

I agree with @Mac - name-tags with our blog names.

I'm so happy for you, and I was last year, too!

Benko 9:00 PM  

Thanks so much, Loren!

Ann Heil 9:07 PM  

Record Monday time for me. I finished it and then thought, "Hmmm. It's Monday, why wasn't there a theme?" Never saw it.

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:58, 6:18, 0.95, 22%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:54, 4:00, 0.98, 32%, Easy-Medium

Bob Kerfuffle 10:49 PM  

I know I have a reputation of being The Invisible Man. Last Monday I commented, in part:

"Looking forward to ACPT. Anyone who will be a first-timer there? Could tell you how to recognize some of the regulars, so you could greet/avoid us at your pleasure. (They use *real* names there, so you can't find most of us by our blog names.)"

Anonymous 12:00 AM  

I'm doubting the NYT crossword will be around in 5 years with the continual level of crap. It's not like the theme constraints are that bad...

Mike who solves the puzzle later 1:00 AM  

No one seems to have noted yet that four of the theme answers form an approximate box, i.e. a tool box, so there is potentially an entire additional level of the theme.

Okay, the four answers don't intersect and thus the box isn't closed, so it takes a little imagination. Still, that's a bit of geometry to achieve on a Monday. I don't construct, myself, so I know I couldn't TOP THIS. Nice subtlety, Kelly.

Dani Kogan 7:48 PM  

I don't think Rex crossword puzzle was too hard. This challenge was so Simple.

spacecraft 11:36 AM  

You never know what's going to spark the latest blog controversy. Is a nail a tool? Yes and no, depending. Who cares? Most TOOLBOXes have them. While I noticed some tired fill, EKED being the nadir, the puzz is not as horrible as OFL says. He has to remember he's coming OFF the mountaintop; naturally a Monday job like this one is gonna look like the pits by comparison. Ease up, dude, it's really not that bad.

It also wasn't that hard. Yikes, "medium-challenging?" I thought it one of the easiest Mondays ever. What's the trouble with PROXY? The clue was certainly straightforward: "Authorized substitute." Um, yeah, that would be PROXY. [Unfortunately, I got to that one after having filled in TOOLkit, creating my only w/o.]

I do agree that having been greeted "hello" with FIXIT (and BTW, why wasn't 40a clued "1-across' tote"?) we should have a "'bye now" at 71a. We do have one, but it's out of position. Oh well.


Captchas are getting more legible; the poker game may be breaking up. Today's was:

unless endtombe

No prob for me; I'm being cremated.

DMG 2:02 PM  

My tote got pretty banged up as it transformed from a kit to a Bag to a BOX, but other than that no problems with this Monday outing. Maybe this played too easy for veteran solvers, but there is a need for puzzles that "introduce" newbies to what old timers see as givens. So what if 43A could have been clued as "sunken fences"? Monday solvers need a chance. In fact, there are times when I'm one of them after a particularly brutal Fri/Sat run.

My Captcha sure wasn't legible, but I think I'm out of the game with two small pairs, 4's and 2's.

Solving in Seattle 2:15 PM  

After reading the blog I've got the earworm "If I had a HAMMER..." !@#$%

Kelly threw us a good head fake with 63A. Had Tape before TIVO. Also, TOPTHat before THIS.

PROXY's a cool word.

Good Monday puz, irrespective of Rex's review.

Three deuces.

rain forest 2:22 PM  

It's called a TOOLBOX, but usually holds more than what most people would refer to as tools. The last time I opened mine, there was a sandwich in there! I don't think that would have passed muster (mustard?), but there were also nails, wire, screws, etc.

This was definitely one of my faster solves, with a new kind of EEL, and a decent theme. I mostly did the acrosses, so had to go back to see what the downs contained, and you know, not bad.

Just in passing, I liked both the Saturday and Sunday puzzles, but was too busy otherwise to comment, not that I would have added much of import.

Z 2:36 PM  

@spacecraft - Sometimes I just can't help myself, especially in an activity which requires a little mental flexibility. Remember - FIGHT ENTROPY!

Solving in Seattle 3:11 PM  

and not only do I think "PROXY" is a cool word, I also think its crossword neighbor "ERSATZ" is cool.

According to the World English Dictionary proxy is derived from
procurator (ˈprɒkjʊˌreɪtə)

— n
1. (in ancient Rome) a civil official of the emperor's administration, often employed as the governor of a minor province or as a financial agent
2. rare a person engaged and authorized by another to manage his affairs

[C13: from Latin: a manager, from prōcūrāre to attend to]

And er·satz

1. (of a product) made or used as a substitute, typically an inferior one, for something else.
synonyms: artificial, substitute, imitation, synthetic, fake, false, faux, mock, simulated; pseudo, sham, bogus, spurious, counterfeit;
manufactured, man-made;
informalphony, wannabe

late 19th cent.: from German, literally ‘replacement.’

Vould chew care fur zum ersatz coffee, meine leibchen? Unfortunately, with the war... vell, chew understand.

@LMS, Gayle King, on CBS morning news did one of your paraprosdokian dittys. She was talking about country music lyrics and said her favorite was: my wife ran off with my best friend and I sure do miss him..."

Maybe he was just a proxy.

Dirigonzo 4:10 PM  

One pass through the clues (I read them all, even if they've been filled in by crosswords) produced a completed grid - that almost never happens even on a Monday. I might not give it a TEN but it wasn't bad.

Nines and fives - @SiS, will you take an IOU?

Solving in Seattle 9:26 PM  

Diri, I think we're probably about even with the game.
My business partner and I have gone to lunch more times than I can count over the past quarter century and we ALWAYS play liars poker for who pays the bill. We haven't kept track, but we've agreed that we are probably about all square after all these years.

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