Ernest nicknamed Texas troubadour / TUE 1-13-15 / Billboard's top rock group of 2000-09 / Resident of so-called Chicago of Japan / Prize annual international award for mathematics / Eating non-halal to Muslims / Prefix with plasty

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Constructor: Michael Blake

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: NICKELBACK (58A: Billboard's top rock group of 2000-09 … or where to find a 23-Across (before 1939) or 17-Across (today))— stuff on the back of a nickel

Theme answers:
  • MONTICELLO (17A: Tourist attraction in Charlottesville, Va.)
  • AMERICAN BISON (23A: Largest wild animal in the United States)
  • E PLURIBUS UNUM (47A: "Out of many, one")
Word of the Day: Ernest TUBB (39D: Ernest nicknamed "The Texas Troubadour") —
Ernest Dale Tubb (February 9, 1914 – September 6, 1984), nicknamed the Texas Troubadour, was an American singer and songwriter and one of the pioneers of country music. His biggest career hit song, "Walking the Floor Over You" (1941), marked the rise of the honky tonk style of music. In 1948, he was the first singer to record a hit version of "Blue Christmas", a song more commonly associated with Elvis Presley and his mid-1950s version. Another well-known Tubb hit was "Waltz Across Texas" (1965) (written by his nephew Quanah Talmadge Tubb (Billy Talmadge)), which became one of his most requested songs and is often used in dance halls throughout Texas during waltz lessons. Tubb recorded duets with the then up-and-coming Loretta Lynn in the early 1960s, including their hit "Sweet Thang". Tubb is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. (wikipedia)
• • •


This puzzle forced me to remember NICKELBACK, and for that I will never forgive it.

["I don't wanna hear that song no more"]

I can't decide what's more depressing: the clue for the revealer, or the revealer itself (one of my friends is saying: "coin toss" …) (the other: "the clue is fitting for how good NICKELBACK is"). But I'll refrain from trashing the band in question, and the hordes of people who apparently enjoy their music, because it would just be piling on. If they are one of the most popular bands of this century (and it appears they are), they are also one of the most vilified, their name synonymous (in many circles) with Terribleness. Think I'm exaggerating? The nickel-hate is so widespread, The New Yorker published a damn thinkpiece on it last year. Me, I actually probably couldn't pick their music out of a shitty music line-up. My brain lumps them in with Creed for some reason (which maybe tells you nothing, but maybe tells you a lot). This is all to say that the revealer is likely to evoke unpleasurable feelings in those who know the band in question, and just bemusement in those who don't. The theme in general is awfully, awfully dull, and the fill the same. Not sure what "tickled" the editor about this one, unless it's the jarring revealer. Puzzle doesn't have much else to offer but fairly pedestrian fill (though SINGAPORE and SCRIMMAGE are just fine).

Looking this over, I really have to say more about how subpar the fill is here. For an easy puzzle, there's way way way too much DAT and AGIN and ATEM here. Way way way way too much. "ERES ECRU!" Fill is just sad all over. The answer that's jarring me the most, however, is CUE TIP. It sounds like a real thing, but it does not look like a real thing. This is because 99% of the time, if someone says "CUE TIP," what they are really referring to is a cotton swab or the rapper in this video:

Clearly cues have tips. Still, there's something off-seeming about CUE TIP. Also OSAKAN, which is an answer that has long been used, but … it's not great. And once again grid construction is the issue: with EPLURIBUSUNUM and NICKELBACK locked into place, you've got -S-K--. There's not much *but* OSAKAN that can go there. In fact, I'm not sure there's anything. Hang on … well, there's Levi ESHKOL, but since you're already screwing up your face and going "Who?" I'm gonna say OSAKAN is actually the better choice. But the theme answer arrangement really paints the constructor into a corner there.

Hoping for more scintillating fare tomorrow. This week's been limping along a bit, puzzle quality-wise.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    George Barany 12:09 AM  

    I guess total unfamiliarity with 21st century bands was not a significant handicap in solving @Michael Blake's puzzle. As another national college football champion is about to be anointed, it is worth pointing out that NICKELBACK refers to a defensive arrangement in an obvious passing situation.

    Jim Quinlan 12:10 AM  

    Still have not seen "ULEES Gold." 94% on Rotten Tomatoes... I think I'm gonna watch it. I was 17 and full of not-giving-a-damn when it came out because it didn't have "Pet Detective" in the title.

    Steve J 12:18 AM  

    NICKLEBACK is an awful, awful band. Like Rex, the puzzle is already at a deficit for reminding me of them.

    On its own merits, the puzzle is decidedly meh. Nothing stood out, other than the oddity of CUE TIP. I'm glad the puzzle clarified that people aren't chalking the butt end of the cue.

    Clark 12:33 AM  

    I have never heard of this rock group and have never, to my knowledge, heard any of their music. Not having a bone to pick with them allowed me, perhaps, to like the theme a little more than OFL. The Bison, Monticello, seemed very picturesque, noble even, and then a nice solid familiar latin phrase, plus an image from the wild north (Caribou). Now with no interference from memories of terrible music, letting 58A fill itself in out of this nationalist/numismatic atmosphere . . . I kinda liked it--for a Tuesday theme anyway.

    mathguy 12:48 AM  

    I liked it even though there were too many gimmes (they filled 90 squares). I've never heard of the band, so most of Rex's commentary didn't mean anything to me. But I got NICKELBACK from the crosses and got a kick out of remembering what images have been on the coin.

    Charles Flaster 12:54 AM  

    Liked the theme.
    Monticello is a beautiful place to visit.
    ECRU and ESL make my Crosswordease list.
    Liked cluing for CLOT.
    Lots of foodies -CHILI crossing HASH.
    Thanks MB

    Whirred Whacks 1:03 AM  

    I hope everyone is enjoying the Buckeyes as your 2014 College Football Champions! Masterful, powerful win! It's like Urban Meyer is the Patrick Berry of coaches.

    MDMA 1:48 AM  

    "Run out of rhythm" for AEIOU is a late-week clue that inexplicably found its way into a Tuesday.

    retired_chemist 1:58 AM  

    Feeling more love here than most, probably because I never heard of NICKELBACK. The theme ties together nicely in vacuo, I agree that some of the fill is indeed bad. To me, not enough to mar the puzzle. Also, any puzzle which reminds me of the Everly Brothers gets props.

    Had to get AEIOU fully in and think about it before understanding the clue. Nice one!

    AS A KID also fits _S_K__ and is in the language, but would add to the bad fill. (AS A KID, I hated hot dogs and that hasn't changed)

    Thanks, Mr. Blake.

    jae 2:08 AM  

    A medium-tough Tues. for me.    

    ABEL award was a WOE.

    AngiO  before OSTEO.

    Away before ATEM.

    I've  heard of NICKEL BACK, but could not tell you anything about their music.

    I'm with @r_c (yes I'm a lazy typist) on this one.  Thought the theme was fine, liked the Everly Bros. clue, didn't mind the dreck, liked it.  Perhaps only knowing that NICKEL BACK was some sort of rock group gives one a more enlightened perspective. 

    chefwen 2:12 AM  

    M & A is going to love this one, 11U's (if I counted correctly) too bad we couldn't have squeezed a muumuu in there.

    What @mathguy said sums it all up for me, I need to add little else. Liked slightly more that the Monday puzz, only because it was a wee bit more challenging. On to Wednesday.

    Danp 5:43 AM  

    I knew Nickelback was the most hated group ever (more so than disco if that's possible). Didn't know it was all that popular to anyone. I could never see anything unique enough about them to evoke any emotion. We're talking mashed potatoes with an amp here.

    A cue tip is a thing!!! It is screwed into or glued to the ferrule at the end of the cue stick.

    Anonymous 7:00 AM  

    Milk curdles.
    Blod clots.

    Aketi 7:30 AM  

    @anonylmous 7:00 am, but clotted cream is delicious, much more so than cottage cheese.

    Zwhatever 7:32 AM  

    CLOTted milk

    NICKELBACK is one of those groups which gives the lie to the whole "Two Americas" notion. It's more like "125 Americas." If the name has ever come up in a conversation I've been a part of the disdain is visible. And yet they sell out concert venues - arenas no less - so someone somewhere loves them enough to spend serious money to see them. One Direction - Tween Girls. Taylor Swift - former Tween girls and other post-millenials. Kanye West - People who don't know who Paul McCartney is. Jay Z - Guys who actually love Beyoncé but are too manly to admit it. NICKELBACK? No idea. None. When they were announced as a halftime show at a Lions game, this became a big local story. The Junior High GLEE CLUB would have been less controversial.

    Puzzle? FRIAR Tuck solved it with a QUILL while having TAPAS, MISO soup and a little CLOTted milk. rhinO before OSTEO, otherwise pretty straightforward and unremarkable. Bonus Canadian themish answer. We were just there and noticed no pennies given as change. Is that a new thing?

    Aketi 7:40 AM  

    So glad I don't know who Nickelback is so that I could enjoy that clue. From the reactions here, I'm not googling them either. The comments anout Nickelback remind me of my cousin's husband when he rants about the music his friend played. He friend was one of the Ramones.

    L 7:41 AM  

    I'm very sleepy still and can't suss out the AEIOU clue. Can someone please explain? Thanks!

    Anonymous 7:50 AM  

    L-"Run out of rhythm" means a "run" of letters that don't appear in the word "rhythm." I don't think I ever even saw this clue while solving...

    L 7:56 AM  

    Wow - I don't think my brain would've ever sorted that out. Tough cluing for a Tuesday or any day for that matter. Thanks for the clarification.

    Unknown 7:59 AM  

    What Rex said. He made things worse by mentioning Creed, who I hate even more than Nickelback.

    AliasZ 8:00 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    joho 8:01 AM  

    @Rex, thanks for the thinkpiece on the subject of this puzzle. I learned about a band I had heard of but knew nothing about. Not one song mentioned rings a bell. I did learn that Chad Kroeger ranks right up there with Freddie Krueger in cringe worthiness.

    I wondered why the clue for the reveal left out EPLURIBUSUNUM which had its own seemingly unrelated clue.

    My ignorance of the offensive NICKELBACK saved me from a nasty reaction to the band's music and let me enjoy this Tuesday puzzle. I especially liked the inclusion of MONTICELLO which I loved visiting.

    Interesting idea to point out what's on the back of a NICKEL ... thanks, Michael!

    AliasZ 8:03 AM  

    This puzzle is so lame, I want my NICKEL BACK.

    "I lent you a quarter and you are giving me only a NICKEL BACK? I want my quarter back!"

    If you take a nickel tour but you only have a dime, do they give you a NICKEL BACK?

    The silverback gorilla is not called NICKELBACK gorilla for a reason, but I forgot the reason.

    MONTI CELLO is the older brother of Limon Cello and big cousin to Franki Viola. Monti was a decent cellist, but he used the cello for a piggy bank. The rattling was awful, especially when he plucked the C string. The G-string, not so bad. Also, the darned endpin kept slipping out from under the cello, so he decided to pick up the instrument and place it between his chin and left shoulder like his cousin Franki. As a result, he stabbed himself in the neck. DUDE, that was one ugly gash. He had to be taken to the emergency room where he received fifteen stitches. For ATIME he couldn't SINGAPORE. You know, that pizza song: "When the poop hits your eye like a bigga pizza pie, that's apore."

    I will ignore Benedetto and Alessandro MarCELLO. Instead, let me try this musical selection: Solo Sonata for CELLO by György Ligeti (1923-2006).


    Dorothy Biggs 8:25 AM  

    Nickelback is the Barry Manilow of the 2000s. Or the Kenny G of the 90s. Everyone makes fun of them, but evidently lots of people listened to them. To each his own. If they stunk, who cares? There are lots of famous musicians who've become famous who stunk. Bieber, anyone?

    Speaking of music...I grew up in the late 60s and early 70s and listened to the radio my fair share. Just off the top of my head I can name a dozen songs from 1974 that were "hits." I've seen ERES Tu about 1000 times in NYT puzzles, but I do not remember it at all. Not even a little bit. Did I sleep through that song when it came on the AM side of the radio? I mean seriously, is it only xword famous because of its exotic spelling?

    Plus I always get that song and the other xword famous song/aria "Eri Tu" mixed up, so there's that.

    The puzzle was a typical Tuesday for me. No headaches, no tangles, just fill it in as it appears.

    Dorothy Biggs 8:26 AM  

    EDIT above post: Manilow of the 70s...I might add the Millii Vanilli of the 80s too...

    chefbea 8:28 AM  

    Hand up for never heard of Nickel Back.

    Getting my chili recipes ready for our big super bowl party!!! Hope the Patriots make it!!

    Zwhatever 8:41 AM  

    @NCA Prez - Click and I'll bet you it will sound too familiar.

    RAD2626 8:42 AM  

    Poor popular NICKELBACK is getting a much more violent reaction than any of the rap stars who regularly populate the puzzle. Hard for me to get so worked up over a word puzzle answer. Maybe the next time Idi Amin shows up as fill we can have a collective rant.

    That said thought the theme was odd,the revealer a short story and the fill pretty nondescript. Really like the AEIOU clue which I had never seen before.

    Lewis 9:00 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Mohair Sam 9:00 AM  

    Wow! Today I discovered NICKELBACK phobia, which is apparently rampant here in Rexworld. The very mention of their name seemed to poison the puzzlin' experience for Rex and others. Personally I hate the thought of an OSTEOpathy, but I still managed to get by the thought and enjoy this puzzle.

    Now I wouldn't know NICKELBACK if they ran me over with their tour bus, but their silly name's use in this puzzle was clever indeed - with everything you find on the back of a nickel as the theme. Loved it.

    Awesome clue for AEIOU.

    Hand up with @NCA Pres for ERES Tu and Eri tu confusion. Always wonder which title is which, although I do know and enjoy both the aria and the pop song.

    Great Tuesday puzzle, thanks Michael Blake.

    Unknown 9:01 AM  

    Rex has reason to be grumpy about the deterioration of NYT xwords! Who selects these constructors!

    Lewis 9:02 AM  

    @anon 7:00a.m. -- No, blod cloots.

    Like @joho, I wondered why 47A was left out of the reveal, as it appears on the back of both nickels. And yes, @M&A will be squirming with joy at EPLURIBUSUNUM. I used to collect nickels, so this puzzle brought back some good memories of coin collecting and nickels in particular. CUETIP is a real thing; at least Wikipedia calls it that. This was an enjoyable solve.

    Maybe I've heard of NICKELBACK or their music, but it doesn't ring a bell. It sounds TABOO among our group. Perhaps some of you can imagine a GLEECLUB singing a Nickelback medley!

    Unknown 9:04 AM  

    Ugh. Nickelback. Wife put a couple of their songs on iTunes, which then downloaded to my iPod. My kids recognized Nickelback by how swiftly I would change the song when they popped up. Still haven't fixed that....

    At least the puzzle was fair. An 80-yr old could still solve this puzzle given the other clues. And as a bonus, they have the LAMAR and TUBB gimmes... 😜

    JTHurst 9:07 AM  

    This was one weird puzzle. Though I completed it, I like answers having a logical nexus with the clue, like 33d – ‘run out of rhythm’. But 65a answer - ‘lets’, just did not link up for me. Other answers that seemed out of kilter and had run out of rhythm were 5a – ‘ocean’, 21a – ‘dat’, 22a – ‘older’, 54a – ‘mad’, 64a – ‘agin’, 8d – ‘ail’. For example, one particular clue was the Chaucerian usage of ‘for’ (fer) but his meaning was not a position statement. A quote from Edward Westcott says it all. “A reasonable amount o' fleas is good fer a dog--keeps him from broodin' over bein' a dog, mebbe.” This puzzle has fleas.

    I am afraid I have no knowledge of the “Nickelback” references, and it sounds like I am lucky. Now, how do I control my prurient interest from googling the subject?

    Maybe Chefbea or Chef Wen can solve this for me. If you do not have buttermilk available, can’t you take milk and add a little vinegar or lemon juice, allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then substitute in the recipe. Clotted milk has nothing to do with clotted cream.
    The other day someone defined ‘meh’ for us but it seemed Steve J’s definition of ‘meh’ appeared different. Can someone define “meh’ for me.

    Je suis Charlie

    RnRGhost57 9:11 AM  

    An aptly meh puzzle for the archetypal meh rock 'n' roll band.

    Bird 9:12 AM  

    I actually like a couple of their songs but didn't know how much they were hated.

    I get it, but I don't like the clue for 33D. Maybe for a cryptic it might work.

    Had TURN for 10A and AWAY for 26D.

    dk 9:15 AM  

    🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

    A pleasant enough Tuesday.

    Only gripe is that in the mid-west (land-o-potlucks) CHILI would never be on the bill of fare.

    By the time I worked my way through the CLOT of HASH conveniently placed atop my OLDER CAN-BIS I was ready. I AIRED some NOISE over USERS TABOOS, found my MAD magazine cleaned off the ASHE, … saw NICKELBACK and thought way to make a pleasant puzzle hated. HEDY stuff these x-words.

    Guess what was grown at MONTICELLO? And, why did SUSIE pass out at the drive-in? Inquiring minds need to know.

    And, see article in today's NYT on e-joints. Must be the low temps (-15 here in The Shire) turning everyone to drugs:


    chefbea 9:17 AM  

    @JTHurst - that is correct. Just add some vinegar or lemon juice to milk and substitute it for buttermilk. Have done that many times.

    Hartley70 9:32 AM  

    I answered correctly but didn't understand why either. Thanks.

    Unknown 9:34 AM  

    I'm with @jae. Medium hard. I hit all the pitfalls mentioned but also wrestled with okRa, oCRa, oCRe. Ao__ on the cross seemed more plausibe than AE___. I needed more than one deep breath. Finally, ECRU/AEIOU. 3 minutes right there.

    NICKELBACK? 3-3-5 defensive coverage strategy invented by George Allen's Washington Redskins, maybe. At least I associated the team logo with the old Buffalo/Indian Head nickel. It made perfect sense to my 8yo self.

    Hartley70 9:45 AM  

    Wow, I knew the name NICKELBACK so the answer went in after the first few letters, but when I just checked them out on iTunes I had never heard any of their hit songs before. Boy their sound is annoying and exactly the same on each track. I fully understand the reaction here! It gives me a new appreciation for Skrillex.

    John V 9:48 AM  

    DNF as could not parse the NE. Never heard of the band until this morning. Felt clunky.

    quilter1 9:58 AM  

    This puzzle matches up with today's events so far. It is -7 and the car won't start and I can't do anything I'd planned for today and had to cancel appointments. Hiss boo.

    jberg 10:09 AM  

    I don't know enough about pop bands to get involved in that argument; my beef is with AMERICAN BISON. Apparently that is their official name, so it's sort of legit -- but I've seen a lot of bison, and I have NEVER heard one called that. Bison, buffalo, American buffalo, sure; American bison, never.

    And what's that quarterback doing there at 25D? Muddying the theme, that's what. Already muddy enough because of the already-cited failure to put 47A in the revealer.

    CUE TIP is fine, though. You chalk it, you call it that, and you use it to hit the cue ball with. In fact, it could be part of its own theme of words that sound like letters, if only I could think of some more!

    Unknown 10:14 AM  

    The Nickelback formula: accessible country-style chip-on-the-shoulder lyrics with a grunge metal presentation. Yep. Sounds like it was IDEATED on Fifth Avenue. Or, maybe, it 'arose' because John Mellencamp is 63 already.

    Ludyjynn 10:14 AM  

    My favorite item at MONTICELLO is the Hawkins/Peale 'polygraph' letter copying device which Jefferson tweaked, among the other ingenious inventions on display. The architecture there, as well as several nearby UVA campus structures and the state capitol building in Richmond, are glorious reminders of his genius.

    Hand up for 'rhino' before OSTEO. That was my only write over in a very straightforward, easy peasy Tues. puzz.

    My curiosity got the better of me after reading Rex's NICKELBACK rant, so I went to YouTube to listen to their songs. Immediately recognized "Far Away" from the radio, a perfectly harmless pop/rock anthem. Don't see where all the hate is coming from! Didn't find any of the other tunes I sampled at all memorable or distinguishable from each other, so maybe that's what got some folks hot under the collar. Whatever, DUDE!

    Missed the clever, late week clue for AEIOU, which filled itself in from the crosses.

    TABOO, a/k/a 'tabu' was my favorite fragrance in high school. Loved the scent, and the sexy name didn't hurt, either.

    DAT's all I've got for now. Thanks, MB and WS.

    OldCarFudd 10:17 AM  

    I was hoping someone would explain the AEIOU clue so I wouldn't have to display my obtuseness by asking. Seems it ain't gonna happen, so - I'm asking!

    Unknown 10:25 AM  


    A, E, I, O, and U were run right out of 'rhythm.' Y, you ask? I'm guessing the dance floor wasn't big enough for all dem vowels.

    OldCarFudd 10:42 AM  

    @Casco - I think I could have stared at that for a week and not seen it. Thank you! It's brilliant, but it seems like a Friday or Saturday clue.O

    old timer 11:38 AM  

    Sometimes Rex finds silly things to carp about. Nothing wrong with CUETIP in my book -- it's precisely the thing you chalk.

    I kept thinking the word was recessed instead of RELEASED, that was my problem. The right answer gave me AEIOU and I could not for the life of me figure out how that related to the clue.

    So, tough for a Tuesday.

    But I did like AMERICANBISON. We all know that a bison is not, technically, a buffalo. And it turns out there is a European bison. When I was young, these bison were only found in zoos, but they have been reintroduced into the wild, or so says Wikipedia.

    mac 11:46 AM  

    I finished this one quickly and correctly, but didn't concentrate much on the theme.... I also thought a nickel back could be a sort of American Bison, a la the gorilla, and I never heard of the band. Now I'm afraid to click on the links to their music.

    Milk curdles in my book, while cream clots. BTW, @chefbea, I once read that powdered buttermilk is better for baking. Plus it keeps and doesn't take up space in the fridge.

    Martel Moopsbane 11:49 AM  

    Z, our neighbours to the North have effectively eliminated the penny. Mabye it's time we did, too.

    From Wikipedia (source of all questionable knowledge):Production of the penny ceased in May 2012,and the Royal Canadian Mint ceased the distribution of them as of February 4, 2013. Once distribution of the coin ceased, vendors no longer were expected to return pennies as change for cash purchases, and were encouraged to round purchases to the nearest nickel.

    So you won't get a penny in your change, but you may get a NICKELBACK.

    Zwhatever 11:57 AM  

    I fear I may have left a wrong impression. I have never knowingly listened to a NICKELBACK song so have no opinion on their music. My kids use NICKELBACK and Coldplay as swear words. My ultimate buddies signed the petition to replace them at halftime (It's Motown people) of the Lions' game. Like Rex, show me either Creed or NICKELBACK and I'll have a 50-50 shot of guessing right. I'll trust @Casco on their musical formula. Reading about them on Wikipedia, I have to laugh at, "In November 2011, users of the music-oriented dating site voted Nickelback as the number one musical turnoff, edging out Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. In May 2013, the readers of Rolling Stone magazine named Nickelback the second worst band of the 1990's behind only Creed." Where's Brian Eno and ENYA when you need them?

    Zwhatever 12:01 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Zwhatever 12:02 PM  

    @Martel - Thanks. I read recently that a penny costs $0.0183 to make. Canadians are ahead of us with getting rid of Dollar bills, too. BTW - prefer to refer to them as my neighbors to the south.

    chefbea 12:07 PM  

    @Mac - forgot about the powdered stuff. Thanks for reminding me

    Numinous 12:20 PM  

    I'm sure M%A orgasm'd oer 10 "U"s. For those of us old enough to remember, so are the Everly Brothers. I really dislike Paul Simon but he and Artie covered Little SUsie.

    I can't say I dislike NICKELBACK. I can't say I like them either. Let's face it, rock music died in the 90s or, rather, just got recycled (chords, progressions, riffs and rhythms) by people with less appeal to people like me, called "daddy" by dirt. When my 17 year old adopted grand daughter (child of our hosts in north Georgia) plays her music in the car I simply ignore it. I told her if we were on a road trip to California i would probably take a hand in the music selection but on a drive to the convenience store, it didn't bother me one bit.

    Unlike almost everyone else, I like seeing ECRU and think I'd like to own an ETUI in that hue.

    Hands up for confusing ERI TU and ERES TU. Having ERiS slowed me down getting AIRED to reveal AEIOU and finish the puzzle. Overall, I found this puzzle unremarkable except for the mother lode of "U"s

    Moly Shu 12:20 PM  

    Is there a word that means something worse than terribleness ? Whatever it is it's not enough to describe NB. Other than that, the puzzle was fine. But, seriously, nickleback? Yuck.

    Happy Pencil 12:22 PM  

    I've never really understood the whole Nickelback question -- not why they are so popular among some and provoke such hate among others -- and I have to admit that the comments here today are not really helping me out. I mean, I get the whole "manufactured pop/one song sounds exactly the same as the next" complaint, but couldn't you say that about a thousand bands? I still don't really see why people feel so strongly about this particular band -- one way or the other ...

    Benko 12:22 PM  

    Yes, Nickelback sucks, and it's really weird to have a NYT puzzle with them as the theme.
    But I LOVE MF DOOM. In fact, I just listened to 3 of his albums last night. Awesome, Rex!

    Numinous 12:26 PM  

    For % read &

    Ellen S 12:26 PM  

    Never heard of the band, so no problem with the theme. Sunday I was driving my 6-year-old great-granddaughter home from a family gathering and she borrowed my phone to call a friend and set up a play date (I've warned her mom). They were arguing about Justin Bieber -- I'm happy to say my GGD was as scathing about him as you folks about NickelBack.

    @AliasZ, thanks always for the music.

    Je suis Michael Brown.

    LaneB 12:27 PM  

    Must have been easier than usual because I finished fast and sans Googling. Some days everything clicks; other days not.

    Anoa Bob 12:30 PM  

    The quality & condition of the CUE TIP is a major concern for the serious billiardist. I change my own and prefer the Le Pro CUE TIP. Some players shape the end of the TIP to match the radius of a NICKEL. I use a dime.

    I was dumbfounded when the revealer referenced the first two themers and left the third one to slowly twist in the breeze. Don't think I've ever seen that in a puzzle before. Offputting.

    Masked and Anonymo10Us 12:32 PM  

    That musta been an interestin music decade. I managed to traverse it, without NICKELBACK ever even do a blip on my radar. Even the Beatles sold more music than them. Rolling Stone top albums of the decade took a total pass on them. As Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid would surely say... Who are these guys?

    Just listened to "Photograph", one of their big songs. Not familiar. Did their music make it into any beer commercials, or somesuch? Maybe that'd help.

    EPLURIBUSUNUM. Now there's yerself a band name. (Yo, @chefwen & @Lewis.)

    weeject cafe selection of the day: DAT one.


    RooMonster 12:44 PM  

    Hey All !
    Just aquick pop-in to say the puz was okay. Easy. A fast time for me. My biggest holdups were AEIOU and E PURIBUS UNUM where I kept saying, "What the heck is ep luri_ us un um." :-) Parsed the B finally, then the lightbulb. Ohhhh...

    Don't know why NICKELBACK gets such a bad rap. I'm not a die-hard fan, but their music is good. Strange.


    John V 12:52 PM  

    Just soaked up the subject band on Pandora. Sound like a knock off of Hootie and the Blowfish. Made my skin crawl. Entertainment, but not music.

    My two cents.

    M and Also 12:55 PM  

    Yo, @Numinous, from M(pickyerfavesymbol)A. Mucho thanx. The overwhelmin U support today is most gratifyin.

    CUETIP did not bother me at all. Used to hang out in pool halls a lot. They sell boxes of the lil jewels. They tend to wear down, with use. Can get to where all that's left is the U. har
    And @Anoa Bob is spot-on correct.

    NICKELBACK is the top rock band of the decade, in what sense? Were they on the most hiway Billboards? Can't seem to let this go. Confuses the M&A.

    "Never Put a Cuetip in Yer Ear"

    GILL I. 1:01 PM  

    @dk. I always wonder what emojis you use when you post your moons! too bad they don't appear on the blog.'-(
    The Mocedades where huge in Spain. A Basque group that tried to look and sound very hippy. ERES TU I think was their only hit here in the U.S. but in Spain every boite, discoteca or cafe, played their songs. Good memories I might say.
    Never heard of NICKLE BACK. Didn't care because I still enjoyed the puzzle. I always expect the worse for a Tuesday, so I'm happy when I get a smile or two.
    @dk again...I too always wanted to know where SUSIE fell asleep. I always imagined her on the couch of her boyfriends apartment with a bottle of coke resting precariously on her lap. I guess I'm a FRIAR NERD.

    evil doug 1:19 PM  

    ... Not unless you got high, strong-armed a store clerk, stole a box of cigars, tried to grab a cop's gun, and bull-rushed the cop and attacked him with a bulk twice the officer's size. You really want to get into this here, Ellen?

    John V 1:23 PM  

    Make that, "dialed up"

    dk 1:34 PM  

    GILL I Full moons as someone else had the stars

    Lewis 1:36 PM  

    Factoid: In 1996 The city of Richmond posthumously honored Arthur ASHE's life with a statue on Monument Avenue, a place traditionally reserved for statues of key figures of the Confederacy. This decision led to some controversy in a city that was the capital of the Confederate States during the American Civil War. (Wikipedia)

    Quotoid: "An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The OLDER she gets the more interested he is in her." -- Agatha Christie

    abstractblueman 1:39 PM  

    Since I began attempting to solve the NYT xword daily, which was only about two months ago, this was the first puzzle that wasn't a Monday that I finished in under ten minutes. Thank you to NICKELBACK for ruining that milestone for me! :)

    @John V: Your comparison of NICKELBACK to Hootie and the Blowfish made my day! I loved @Rex's very first comment on the puzzle (and I, too, will never forgive this puzzle). Knowing that someone who'd never hear of NICKELBACK would listen to them and think of Hootie made my case for disliking the band even stronger!

    Loved the AEIOU clue. And the ABEL Prize!

    Carola 1:45 PM  

    Liked it. I thought it was a creative theme, and the theme answers very nice. I mean, E PLURIBUS UNUM! (continuing the SEA TO SHINING SEA idea from yesterday). Admittedly, the clue for the reveal was hard for me to parse, but I liked seeing NICKELBACK appear (never heard of the band). Also - SINGAPORE, SCRIMMAGE, CARIBOU, GLEE CLUB...I thought there was a lot to like.

    I'd always envisioned SUSIE and her date having fallen asleep in the upper balcony.

    Anonymous 1:51 PM  

    Is the average age of commenters on this blog 80? It's my first (and last) time reading it and it seems like a lot of old fogey whining.

    M and A Help Desk 1:53 PM  

    @Carola. Best info I have...

    We both fell sound asleep
    Wake up little Susie and weep
    The movie's over, it's four O'clock
    And we're in trouble deep

    Musta been watchin "The Interview".


    Zwhatever 2:12 PM  

    @Evil Doug - Speaking of 125 Americas... Some of the items in your comment have been shown to be inaccurate. I can't believe the DA said on camera that he knew witnesses were lying. He should be disbarred for suborning perjury. At any rate, lots of stuff people on Fox reported as fact weren't. Not Fox's fault, but the absence of retractions is troubling (or maybe they were like all news retractions everywhere, buried where no one ever sees them).

    Je suis Michael Brown 2:12 PM  

    @ED Half your story comes from the guy who's not dead, you know, the one who killed the dead guy. Your "bulk twice the size" assessment is, factually, bullshit.

    Steve J 3:03 PM  

    If I want to read people talking/yelling past each other regarding Michael Brown and similar issues, I've got the rest of the internet for that. People don't need to bite at every little bit of bait that's offered up here.

    @JT Hurst: Meh. Consider it a verbal shoulder shrug.

    evil doug 3:05 PM  

    Je suis the grand jury, not Fox.

    Je suis moi 3:08 PM  

    Cops, like all people who own guns for "personal protection", are pathetic cowards.

    evil doug 3:12 PM  

    ... Until *you* need one.

    Zwhatever 3:22 PM  

    @Steve J - I try not to scream. And @ED doesn't scream. But I hear you. Passions inflame, sweeping generalizations ensue, and suddenly people are calling people names. If I wanted that I'd just write an "I Love NICKELBACK" blog.

    Je suis... 3:30 PM  

    Not once in a very long life have I needed either a cop or a gun to solve my problems. But then, I'm not a pathetic coward.

    MDMA 3:32 PM  


    Je suis Nickelback

    mac 4:43 PM  

    Wasn't Eres Tu Italy's entry to the Eurovision Song Festival? I try to watch it every year, it is very funny.

    MDMA 5:01 PM  


    Tú eres is Spanish (present tense)

    Tu eri is Italian (past imperfect tense)

    (reversing the word order is just poetic license or whatever)

    GILL I. 5:04 PM  

    @mac.....Spain's entry. That was about the only song you'd hear in Spain for about 3 years or so!

    joho 5:32 PM  

    I finally caved and listened to the band in question and ... they are worse than I imagined!

    Teedmn 6:31 PM  

    I liked the back of the coin part of theme but it's true, today was not nice and fresh like yesterday.

    @Z, I had to run over quick and turn on the radio (All NICKELBACK All The Time station, of course) to prevent the "Eres Tu" ear worm from getting comfortable in my brain. I remember the song well, it was popular during my musical formative years and you never really shake those songs. Thanks for the link to memory lane.

    I see another of the Merry Men joined us today; who's next? Something to look for in the upcoming weeks while we wait out the below zero temps - -18 here this morning but a thaw is on its way, so they say.

    Thanks, Michael Blake, for a Tuesday-ish Tuesday puzzle.

    chefwen 6:44 PM  

    @joho - New pic of the pup, very cute!

    evil doug 7:13 PM  

    Z--it's true. I appreciate your lack of exclamation points even when we populate opposite poles. May we always maintain our curious civility.


    ANON B 7:56 PM  

    I've seen a few attempts at
    explaining why AEIOU is "run
    out of rhythm"and none seem correct. Would Michael Blake,the author,please explain?

    Numinous 8:17 PM  

    Sigh! AEIOU is a "run" of vowels in the same way that LMNOP would be a run of letter of the alphabet. So, a "run" of vowels "out of" (not inclcuded in rather than ejected from) the word "rhythm" which only has one 'sometimes' vowel, i. e. "y".

    ANON B 8:30 PM  

    @anonymous at 1:41

    I'm over 80 and I don't think most of the commenters are of my age and are whiners.
    I think most of the commenters are younger guys who are full of themselves.
    I only read the comments to
    see if there are explanations
    of Rex's comments which I didn't understand.

    ANON B 8:40 PM  


    Sigh! I think I understand what you are saying but I can't believe
    that you are correct.
    I'm going to wait for Michael Blake or Rex.

    wreck 8:59 PM  


    Numinous (and others)are correct in the interpretation of the clue!
    Michael Blake in comments at "XWord Info" stated that he loved Will's cluing of AEIOU.
    See for yourself:

    RooMonster 9:38 PM  

    Dang @Teedmn, where do you live with such cold temps? Also someone else had said they were in -7 degrees? Yowser, I feel for ya!


    Leapfinger 11:17 PM  

    'Run out of rhythm' could also have been:
    I'm surprised that more people weren't misdirected into trying these alternatives.

    Thank goodness there weren't more.

    Anonymous 1:41 AM  

    Yo, puzzle peeps! Little SueSue and her erstwhile swain were at the drive-in. Granted that nowadays the drive-by is much more common, but don't anyone else remember those?

    @Numinous, I didn't grow up on a farm, but still had to check out Simon % Garf covering Little Susie. Not bad at all, dear boy.

    Je suis tired of climb-on-the-bandwagon memes.

    Burma Shave 12:31 PM  

    SINGAPORE rock song?
    We're ABOUT to attack
    this poor little GLEECUB
    they call NICKELBACK.

    spacecraft 12:36 PM  

    I started in the SW with the latin gimme and the rest of that wonderful corner. Would that the rest of the puzz could have maintained that level!

    I have heard, dimly, of NICKELBACK, but couldn't name you one song of theirs. If Billboard says it, I guess they're the best of the '00s, but that only proves the point I've made several times already: music--except for Sheryl Crow--died around 1990.

    CUETIP is definitely a thing. It's just like OFL to mention a rapper with that name. BAH!

    BAH being a bleedover--not the best but surely better than the vowel string! I can't believe Shortz had the gall to publish two of those in the same lifetime, let alone the same week! C'mon, man!

    We seem to be having a run of puzzles with lovely long downs, but paid for with abysmal fill.

    The SW corner and the long downs: A. The rest of it: D-. (Sorry, Patty) Final: C-.

    rondo 1:47 PM  

    DUDE! I wasn't connecting the themers and then an aha moment after getting NICKELBACK from the crosses. Like @Spacey, only know them by name; I think there's a dozen or so bands that sound alike to me and they're on of 'em. Gee, I must be getting old!

    Maybe I am old, I've actually seen Ernest TUBB live and in concert. Gotta like "Waltz Across Texas" and "Walkin' the Floor".

    How does AEIOU get in again?? It makes MISO unhappy. Fornevermore please.

    Coulda been worse. Niether love nor hate.

    DMG 2:48 PM  

    Never heard of NICKLEBACK, but still solved this one with ease, only writeover being CLOT where I had sour. Glad for the AEIOU explanation. Only got it because nothing else fit. As for all the jabber up above, I find myself somewhat gobsmacked that people can get so het up over something as ephemeral as a pop tune, but then I'm one of that 80 plus group one of the Anons sneered at. Hang in there, pal, and maybe someday you"ll yourself smiling and wondering what all those younger guys are ranting on about! Now time for tea!

    @Ginger; I've somehow lost track of tennis-isn,t it about time for Palm Desert?

    Ginger 8:52 PM  

    I groked the theme at 23A, and since I've never heard of the rock band, my only problem at the reveal was how to spell it. Good thing the crosses were easy.

    At XWord Info the constructor said the rhythm clue was Will's, and he loved it. I disagree, I think it's clumsy and 'reaching'. I wonder what his original clue was.

    @DMG Palm Desert is March 9-22. Before the desert gets so unbearably hot.

    Anonymous 10:42 PM  

    Had Monticello and Bison so Nickleback came with a partial. Never read the clue.

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