Foe of Mr. Fantastic in comics / SUN 2-15-15 / Colored like ink / Cartoonist who wrote caption well if i called wrong number why did you answer phone / Historic filer for bankruptcy in 2013 / Much-anthologized Frank R. Stockton short story / Miranda warning receiver / Question asked in classic 1970s ads

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Constructor: Ellen Leuschner and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Split Ends" — famous phrases that end "___ OR ___"; pre-"OR" slot filled by word that runs normally Across, post-"OR" slot filled by word running Down off the last letter of the preceding word in the phrase. Thus "BE THERE [OR] BE SQUARE" at 1A reads BE THERE and then SQUARE runs Down from the "E" in "BE" …

Theme answers:
  • BE THERE [OR] BE SQUARE (1A: "Everyone who's anyone is attending!")
  • GO BIG [OR] GO HOME (8A: Shoot of the moon)
  • "THE LADY [OR] THE TIGER" (13A: Much-anthologized Frank R. Stockton short story)
  • HALF FULL [OR] HALF EMPTY (54A: Proverbial matter of perspective)
  • IS IT LIVE [OR] IS IT MEMOREX? (60A: Question asked in classic 1970s ads)
  • YOUR MONEY [OR] YOUR LIFE (79A: Stickup line)
  • "SHOULD I STAY [OR] SHOULD I GO" (115A: Song by the Clash on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list) 

Word of the Day: William HOWE (112A: William ___, British general in the Revolutionary War) —
William Howe, 5th Viscount HoweKBPC (10 August 1729 – 12 July 1814) was a British army officer who rose to become Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the American War of Independence. Howe was one of three brothers who enjoyed distinguished military careers. […] He resigned his post as Commander in Chief, North America, in 1778, and returned to England, where he was at times active in the defence of the British Isles. He served for many years in Parliament, and was knighted after his successes in 1776. He inherited the Viscountcy of Howe upon the death of his brother Richard in 1799. He married, but had no children, and the viscountcy was extinguished with his death in 1814. (wikipedia)
• • •

Strangely, I have Valentine's Day plans (or, rather, plans that happen to fall on Valentine's Day), so this will briefer than usual. I said some time ago that the NYT had become very, very reliant on a small group of reliably good constructors, without whom the average quality of the puzzle would fall precipitously. We've seen nearly all said constructors over the past three days (Berry, Steinberg, now Chen). And, predictably, thankfully, mercifully, all three have been delights. I've definitely seen this theme type before (where a themer either heads Down or heads in two directions), but never executed quite this way. Grid symmetry is changed from rotational to mirror, presumably to better accommodate the theme, which is admirably dense but does not overwhelm the grid. The areas without theme material (far SW and SE) make up for it by having a bevy of interesting long Downs. YO LA TENGO! I know for a fact that IRA Kaplan of YO LA TENGO is a crossword solver and fan because he co-constructed a puzzle with ed. Ben Tausig for American Values Crosswords a little while back (if you aren't a subscriber, then you aren't doing one of the very best crosswords in the country—more info here).

The fill in this one has some weak spots, but I didn't notice them nearly as much as I noticed the sparkly medium- and longer-range stuff. Third day in a row with an EYE answer (today, DEADEYES) (89D: Straight shooters?). I don't know what that means. Probably nothing. Except that I noticed. What were the other two… SLEEPY-EYED was yesterday and … oh, right, EYE DOCTOR was the day before that. As you can see, I'm fresh out of interesting observations, so good night.

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    chefbea 7:31 AM  

    gosh...I'm the first. Finished the puzzle last night but had no idea what the theme was. Got up a while ago but Rex hadn't posted yet so went to Xword info to find out .

    Brrr!! Keep warm all of you in New England

    Susierah 7:41 AM  

    Loved it! Three good days in a row. Had my doubts about ted conference and yo la tengo, but got the little happy song!

    no one 7:53 AM  

    I never did figure out the theme??

    Jim Walker 7:57 AM  

    Loved this one. Great theme with very little junk.

    YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE. always reminds me of the wonderful Jack Benny skit where the robber gets no response and has to repeat the line. Jack says "I'm thinking!"

    Aketi 8:10 AM  

    Definitely enjoyed this one,

    allan 8:11 AM  

    I generally hate puzzles with answers that are only clued by the dreaded dash, but I got the theme very early in this one, right in the opening NW corner. Most of the rest fell into place very quickly, with the exception of GO BIG OR GO HOME. I just couldn't come up with BIG for some reason now unbeknownst to me.

    @ Jim Walker Anyone who remembers and quotes Benny is ok in my book.

    joho 8:30 AM  

    Just what a Sunday should be. Clever theme with a twist that kept my interest from beginning to end ... LOVED it!

    Thank you Ellen and Jeff!

    Anonymous 8:32 AM  

    Could someone explain Sacred Symbol= Foods?

    Dorothy Biggs 8:37 AM  

    Completed the puzzle and didn't get the jazzy little jingle...went back and checked and found it isn't YOLoTENGO but rather of a tengo of the yola variety. I've been reading too much reddit or looking at too many YOLO memes, I guess. Anyway, TAXICAB is better than TAXICon, I guess...which yes, that answer made family members out to be MOnSTERS...which, in my case, seemed quite appropriate if not drolly so.

    Overall, nice Sunday.

    @chefbea: What are we in the south, chopped liver? It's 14 this morning with a windchill in the single digits. But that isn't the big news here in Nashville. We have gone 4+ years without an inch or greater of snow (thanks to #snowdome), but forecasters are convinced we're going to get upwards of 6" tomorrow. Having grown up in Nebraska, I laugh at 6" as a mere dusting...but here, that means no milk, eggs, or bread in the stores. The storm (Snowbama) is to "hit" tomorrow and I have to work. I may or may not brave the streets...not because of the snow, but because of the other yahoos on the road who don't know how to drive in it. I hope tomorrow's puzzle is reallllly hard...

    Anonymous 8:37 AM  

    'Foods' isn't the answer to sacred symbol, it's the answer to things found in a pyramid. You have a food pyramid with carbs/fats/veggies etc taking up different portions of the pyramid.

    'mericans in Paris 8:39 AM  

    Another installment of MATT "DEADEYES" ESQUARE!

    It was a cold, blustery night in DETROIT, the city of angles. I was standing at the BUS STOP, minding my own business, when out of nowhere a dame TORE up to me. She looked old enough to be a RETIREE, but from the way she was dressed, head to toe in ARMANI Exchange, I reckoned she wasn’t too bothered by AGE GAPS. Nicely BUTTRESSed, too, if you catch my drift.

    "I am IN PERIL, sir. My NEMISIS, DR DOOM is AFTER my Golden OREOS!", she exhaled as she reached me. "I BEG of you, Sir. SAVE ME!"

    Just at that moment, the BUS arrived at the STOP. SHOULD I STAY or SHOULD I GO? Truth be told, it had been a slow month for me, and I YEARNED for some action. GO BIG or GO HOME, I always say.

    "OK, LADY," I said. "I’m no HERO, but the least I can do is get us outa here." Luck was with me, as a TAXI CAB soon rolled into sight. I hailed it and USHERed her IN.

    "Where to?", the cabbie asked her. "GEORG Street," she instructed. Deep in the old warehouse district. I used to LIVE there when I was a SEA DOG in the U.S. NAVY. Recently a few rich MDS, attracted by the BIG lofts, had tried to make a go of gentrifying it, but most people SELDOM stepped foot THERE.

    "If you’re in such danger, why don’t you call the COBS?," I asked. "They’ll BAN, I mean nab, the PERP and RILE on him 'till he SQUEALS."

    She bit her lip in a way that reminded me of ANA. "It’s not that simple," she said. "I don’t want some rooky TIN STAR poking his NUS into my business. Most of my time I spend trying to construct crossword puzzles. It doesn’t pay well, but the feedback is interesting. I’m also a part-time investigative reporter. Lately I’ve been trying to gather some INTL on the MOBSTERS. That requires that I get a bit, IRR … close. I don’t want the COBS jumping to the conclusion that I’ve ABETted any of their crimes."

    "NATS, a crossword constructor," I thought to myself. The dame probably had a head full of rap stars, French possessives and obscure Irish rivers.

    The TAXI CAB reached her destination, and she cracked open the passenger door.

    "HOWE can I reach you?," I asked.

    "You can always whistle," she smiled. "You know HOWE to whistle, don’t you? Just put your lips together and JLO."


    Later, in front of my flat, I was still fiddling for my keys when I felt the working end of a RIFLE jabbed in my SLATS. "YOUR MONEY or YOUR LIFE!," I heard a gruff voice behind me.

    "Man, that is soooooooo, cliché," I said, turning to see HIM. "Kiss my ESS, O’HARA!"

    (To be continued ...)

    chefbea 8:40 AM  

    @NCA president sorry!! I am in the south too and it is below freezing and very windy...but at least we do not have snow like Massachusettes!!

    L 8:49 AM  

    Great puzzle! Only shocked to learn that Rolling Stone has possibly the lamest Clash song on it's top 500 list.

    Linda Richman 8:56 AM  

    Is the phrase "Is the glass half empty or half full" or "Is the glass half full or half empty"? Discuss

    Dorothy Biggs 8:58 AM  

    @Linda Richman: I believe the question is moot.

    Danp 9:00 AM  

    Just right on the difficulty scale for me. Then again, I saw the Lady and the Tramp as a choice, not a combo.

    Every time I heard that Clash song, I yelled, "GO!!!!!"

    F.O.G. 9:05 AM  

    Fun theme that I figured out with BE THERE [or] BE SQUARE.

    IS IT LIVE [or] IS IT MEMOREX brought back the vision of Ella Fitzgerald's recorded voice shattering a glass.

    Before getting the theme I wanted "Rock The Casbah" cuz it's my favorite Clash song, but settled for the constructor's choice.

    Got to 125A and had a flashback to last Sunday's "Set/In Stone" theme. Wanted ENSLEy but yIT made no sense.

    Not to BELABOR the theme answers, but hope I never have to choose between two doors, only to be greeted by THE LADY [or] THE TIGER.


    Zwhatever 9:06 AM  

    ARMANI Exchange crossed by UMS, GSA, and NUS? That area could use a rewrite. Otherwise a fun solve. I got the theme quickly from the title, but I still had a good time sussing them out.

    We escaped Detroit (overnight low in the minus double digits) for the "warmth" of Asheville (current temp of 8) this week. @NCA Prez, I learned to drive in the lake effect belt of West Michigan, with the blizzard of '78 occurring when I was still honing my driving skills. I laugh at the relative ineptness of Detroit drivers, let alone southern cities that are ill-equipped for a little of white stuff. Still, I am very cautious around the white knucklers and the brake tappers. It doesn't matter how skilled I am if the person in front of me puts their car in a spin.

    Anonymous 9:06 AM  

    @ ''mericans in Paris
    Really nice story. How creative. If I knew all the answers it would still take me a day to come up with this tale.

    F.O.G. 9:11 AM  

    'mericans in Paris: Don't make us BEG for part 2. You know how IRRITABLE we can be.

    Ken Wurman 9:13 AM  

    Got the theme early. All theme answers were easy to solve without fill.. then put it down. .

    Ken Wurman 9:13 AM  

    Got the theme early. All theme answers were easy to solve without fill.. then put it down. .

    Leapfinger 9:15 AM  

    @'mericans, very, verrry nice!! I SIT LIVE with anticipation of the continuation.

    Eeyore 9:24 AM  

    @Linda - The glass is half empty, probably leaking, absolutely subject to evaporation and most likely being subject to contamination by atmospheric pollutants.

    Dorothy Biggs 9:24 AM  

    @'mericans in Paris: Did you pick that name so that when people direct comments to you, it actually spells @mericans in Paris?

    Plus, now thanks to your name, I have Gershwin earworming my head...

    Carola 9:43 AM  

    Very fun. Echoing @allen 8:11, I thought "oh, no" at the dread dashes but then got the theme right away. I'm SQUARE enough to actually use BE THERE OR BE SQUARE, so loved that, and then eagerly went after the rest.

    I had the most trouble with MEMOREX, even though I have decades' worth of those tapes (Met opera broadcasts). Speaking of which, all of my tape decks have died - if anyone has a recommendation, that would be great.

    Weighing in on the weather. Overcase and 2 below in Madison, wind chill at minus 17. Boiler has been working for two hours to get it up to 67 in house.

    @'mericans - Fantastic!
    @Jim Walker - Thanks for the Jack Benny MEMORy.

    Carola 9:45 AM  

    "overcast"! GEE!

    AnnieD 9:47 AM  

    Nice puzzle.
    Nice tale @'mericans!
    I'm reminded of the old Far Side cartoon with three scientists looking at a glass half full of water. One says, "I'm an optimist. The glass is half full." The next one says, "I'm a pessimist. The glass is half empty." The third says, "I'm an optometrist. What's the difference?".

    Anonymous 10:03 AM  

    Found the theme from getting the NW corner. Just happened to notice the Be there across along with the possibility of Be square going down. Couldn't have been a coincidence. The rest of the dashes fell into place after that. Liked this one alot.

    Leapfinger 10:07 AM  

    What Jack Benny said was "I'm thinking, I'm thinking!

    Me, I dook when Nanny goat moot questions.

    Nice pattern to the theme placement, matching the mirror symmetry. Caught the theme at THE LADY/ THE TIGER, with a small waffle over the and/OR issue there . Slight theme contamination at 68D, which seemed to want YESorNO, but it would be "cross" to BELABOR the point.

    Anyone else find the IRR IRRITABLE and see the RETIREE RETIE. How 'bout EARN URN? DR DOOM and the NEMESIS MDS? If I SEE TOO many more such, don't know if I'll be IN A PET [or] IN A BET,

    Yes SUR, I got an earworm TOO; mine is "ALOU/ARIETTA, gentille ALOU/ARIETTA".
    Good theme, good fill, good fun.

    Good NUS: that's all she RIT.

    Maruchka 10:18 AM  

    Thought it'd never end, but NE/NW struggle opened up the SW/SE nicely. Excepting TAX(s)CAM for 102A, which led to MO(m)STERS in 90D and 103D's (s)NAPET, the rest went in well. Watch that punctuation!

    Fav of the day - MEMOREX. Take a memo, Rex. Remember Ella breaking the glass?

    @chefbea - Brrr here, too. -10/15 wind chill. And I gotta go out in it, she nervously BRAYED.

    @'mericans - Can't wait for the next install. TONES of Hammett, Bacall and Krazy Kat.

    @Jim Walker - LOL'd. No one could work a pause like Benny ..............I'm thinking.

    Unknown 10:19 AM  

    Wow. Easiest Sunday in ages. I solved in half of my average time, while petting a kitten on my lap and keeping the dog entertained. Plus drinking my coffee. Serious multitasking! I liked the theme and execution. Easy or not, it was very fun to solve. IMHO. YMMV.

    JC66 10:20 AM  

    Isn't QUERY smack dab in the middle of the grid a theme answer?

    Ludyjynn 10:20 AM  

    Took me forever to get the theme as I hopscotched all over the place, not particularly impressed by the fill along my travels. Maybe the literal brain freeze I endured while retrieving the NYT from my doorstep this morning had something to do w/ my ambivalence? 15 degrees below here w/ wind chill factor. Fingers crossed we don't lose power from trees coming down in the incessant gale force winds as some parts of the state already have.

    Back to the puzzle: Once I grocked the theme, I did not SQUEAL w/ delight; just mumbled, "ISEE". That said, I did like many of the long Downs, esp. IRRITABLE, which probably best describes many snow-bound folks today. Liked the 'crabby' clue for it, too, as we in MD have something of an obsession w/ crustaceans.

    In the 'everything is relative' dept., my sister-in-law in S. Florida is whining about the cold weather they're having: 60+ degrees! Her glass is HALFFULL, IMO!

    QUERY: SHOULDISTAY indoors today?
    GEE, I'll have to think about that one. Not.

    Thanks, EL, JC and WS.

    RooMonster 10:35 AM  

    Hey All !
    @'mericans, awesome!
    Interesting puz. Many black squares, especially that crazy N section of 10 on each side! 81 total. High for a SunPuz. That being said, this was a cool puz! IS IT LIVE or IS IT MEMOREX is a blast from the past! Cool to have squeezed that in there! Cool concept, I'm sure took a while to corporate into this wacky grid. Trial and error, I'm sure.

    Many writeovers, sit -> BEG, SLopeS -> SLANTS, ShEpARD ?? -> STEWARD, drS -> MDS, UhS -> UMS.

    Overall, call it medium. Some neat clues, amazingly not too much dreck. Wacky black squares!

    NANNYGOAT was a new one. BEG as clued is iffy.


    AliasZ 10:37 AM  

    I enjoyed this puzzle. The choices offered in the theme entries were perplexing at first, but I think I got them.

    BE THERE or BE THURBER - You better attend or turn into a cartoonist.
    GO BIG or GO TONTO - Hard choice for the Lone Ranger.
    THE LADY or THE LIE - That's obvious.
    HALF FULL or HALF FRAIL - A matter of perspective?
    IS IT LIVE or IS IT LEGEND - Question asked in Acura commercials.
    YOUR MONEY or YOUR MATT - Stickup line in yoga class.
    SHOULD I STAY or SHOULD EL - Who is this "El" anyway?

    What fun!

    The fill also shined and sparkled all over the place with BUTTRESSed LOGCABINS, MAN-MADE AGE GAPS, IRRITABLE MOBSTERS and a GASEOUS NANNY GOAT.

    Thank you, Ellen and Jeff. As a reward for your excellent work, here is some perfect music for a Sunday: Concerto for Trumpets and OBOES in D Major by GEORG Philipp Telemann, performed here by the Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester Mannheim [that's a mouthful] conducted by Nicol MATT.

    Teedmn 10:40 AM  

    I wish I had the SHOULD I STAY or SHOULD I GO choice to make but I have to GO. We've been lurking in the Caribbean for the past week, one hour ahead of the East Coasters and tomorrow we return to the tundra. Rain here for the last few days but can't complain about the temps in the 70's.

    I panicked this morning when nothing opened up for me at the top so I ran around the grid looking for a GAP which I found at the bottom with JLO/LBJ. Once I got the theme with the Clash song, it fell with nary a hitch.

    Thanks for the nice puzzle, Ms. Leu scenery and Mr. Chen!

    And thanks, @mericans, for the puzzle narrative noir.

    Engineer 10:51 AM  

    @Linda - (I may have missed it, but) the proper answer is the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

    Nancy 10:56 AM  

    So I laboriously filled in this terrific puzzle because, not knowing what the theme was, I thought I was getting a strange answer the whole time. Actually, what I was seeing was HALF an answer. After slogging through 80% of the grid, I finally picked up the trick at SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO. At this point, there was only one trick clue left: IS IT LIVE OR IS IT MEMOREX? (I'm old enough to remember that ad well.) This last clue was now made easy -- but I wish I'd cottoned onto the theme MUCH sooner. I went back to reread all the answers I'd filled in without comprehension; they were terrific! It would have been so much more fun to solve if I had known what I was doing! But solve I did...anyway. A lovely puzzle.

    Anonymous 11:03 AM  

    Liked everything about the puzzle except the clue for LOGCABINS. On the plains? Where do you get enough trees to build a log cabin?

    Nancy 11:03 AM  

    To @Rex Parker: After typing a long comment yesterday, the "Captcha" space provided no text for me to copy. It was the ultimate in frustration -- why had I wasted my time typing up a comment that I couldn't post? Today, I checked that there was, indeed, a "Captcha" text to copy BEFORE I bothered writing anything at all. Wondering why this happened? And wondering if anyone else yesterday had the same problem?

    Nancy 11:21 AM  

    Just read all the comments and discovered that I didn't solve after all!! I had FOOLS instead of FOODS for "Things found in a pyramid." (Well, anyone who falls for a pyramid scheme is a fool, right?) That gave me TEL instead of TED for "---Conference", which I thought was a hip new term for tele-
    conferencing. Oh, well.

    Lewis 11:23 AM  

    The theme rocked; it was definitely the star. This is obvious from the comments. So often the theme is practically invisible or is totally separated from the solve. The cluing was straightforward for the most part; I would have liked a little more pizzazz there. And there was a fair amount of grid gruel. But when the theme rocks, it carries the puzzle.

    I had a grand old time with this, once I got rolling. Thank you, J&E!

    Danp 11:23 AM  

    @Nancy - If there is nothing to type, just click on the orange "Publish". Captcha has probably recognized your ID as a regular.

    Leapfinger 11:34 AM  

    Calling James THURBER a cartoonist seems a bit like describing Michelangelo as an interior decorator.
    And BUS STOP was also a great vehicle for Marilyn Monroe. Still love the way she called Don Murray 'Beauregard'

    Going with the actualized over the potential, my 'Crabby' was IRRITATED before IRRITABLE. Sorry to lose that: thought it went well with the Conference T.E.D. and the South American TED. Had a well-defined LOCUS of wrongness in the North Central with pEgleG/SEADOG, flew/TORE and erS/UMS. Took some work to shovel that DRIVEL away.

    Guessing that DIARIST is always preferred to DIARy-er. According to RHEA.

    Some interesting readable rows and columns around, should anyone care to look. Shall just mention that BUTTRESS is interesting, esp near to BRA/B-URN.

    Happy Post-VD to all. As @Numinous (that dear boy!) might point out, that's a STD greeting.

    Leapfinger 11:34 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    healingmagichands 11:36 AM  

    It took me forever to figure out that things in pyramids were fooDs rather than fooLs... TED conferences was unknown to me...

    Lewis 11:40 AM  

    Factoid: Some PINE nuts can cause a taste disturbance known as pine nut mouth or pine nut syndrome. It causes everything you eat for a couple of days to have a bitter, metallic taste. It's hypothesized that the particular species of pine responsible for this is the Pinus armandii in China.

    Quotoid: "One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough." -- James THURBER

    Numinous 11:42 AM  

    Solved this with the help of a 17 year old BFF of my 'adopted' "grandaughter" who stood behind me at the kitchen table making very good suggestions. I was stunned when she pointed at the iPad and said, "Isn't that GASSEOUS?" And the partnership was on.

    Stumbled over the – clues until with about 75% done I finally saw MEMOREX by figuring out TAXICAB. IS IT LIVE was ringing bells but I had been thinking that it might have been a partial. From there I added I GO to SHOULD I STAY and the rest fell easily. I did have to explain some of the answers to my new xword pard as they pre-date her by nearly a generation.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this on without knowing that it was Jeff Chen and Ellen Leuschner (I don't usually click on the circled "I") who, by they way, spent three months creating this. Wonderful puzzle, thanks y'all.

    @Nancy, if you establish a google account, either blogger or google+, you won't have to worry about the CAPTCHA ever again.
    @'mericans. Do, please, continue your neo noir, with or without capped crossword answers, or can it be that you're still Thinking?

    Way back in the dim and distant past at a gathering in the Meditrranium, a Berkeley coffee house, someone at the table asked, apropos of nearly nothing, "Just what in the hell is a hootenanny?" Dave, a wannabe Bob Dylan who was never seen in public without a guitar, said, "Well, if you can imagine the singing duet of an owl and a NANNY GOAT . . . " Whereupon Garth chimed in, "No, no, no! Thats a flying BUTTRESS!"

    Joseph Michael 11:54 AM  

    Great Sunday puzzle. Got the theme at HALF FULL (OR) HALF EMPTY and had fun figuring out the rest of the theme answers. Especially liked the clues for 17d, 72a, 78d, and 84d.

    old timer 12:03 PM  

    'mericans in Paris should GOBIG with his latest opus. Or at least add it to all the other xword blogs, put it on Facebook, add it to the resume, give it to the sweetheart for a Valentine present.

    Best one I've seen, that's for sure. And, yeah, a great puzzle today. I got the theme with THE LADY [OR THE] TIGER. I'm sure I'm not the only person who was given that story to read in 8th or 9th grade, on the theory that if we thought stories could be fun, we'd want to read more of them.

    Nancy 12:03 PM  

    Re: my Captcha problems yesterday:
    @Danp -- I clicked and clicked and clicked on "Publish", trust me. Often I am recognized, but yesterday I wasn't. But thanks for caring!
    @Numinous: I would love to establish a Blogger account, but am almost completely computer-illiterate and haven't a clue how to do it. (Sometimes I dream of seeing my name in blue, like everyone else's.) FYI, I have tried occasionally to email a blue-bylined solver directly on his/her blog. In every instance, I've been told I have the "wrong default setting" or some such gibberish. Any suggestions?

    R. McGeddon 12:10 PM  

    In 2006, after Vice President Cheney accidentally shot a friend in the face during a quail hunt, he was jokingly dubbed DEADEYE Dick on various blogs.

    Easily led astray 12:13 PM  





    GILL I. 12:18 PM  

    @'americans in Peete's Italian roast coffee and croissant never tasted better this morning. Thanks for the nifty booster upper!
    Well, I stared at FEMPTY for about an hour. Got bored so moved back up to ESQUARE. Finally SQUEALS in delight said THE LADY. I really do love it when I finally get it!
    Add me to the FOOTS crowd. I had visions of a bunch of sawed-off feet in King Tut's tomb.
    Good puzzle Ellen and Jeff. I'd like seconds please!

    Numinous 12:21 PM  

    @Nancy. I honestly don't recall how I set up my Blogger account and none of the computers in this house are without one so I can't research setting up an account from scratch. I would imagine if you went to HTTP:// you will find a link to something like "Set up an account". It should be easy from there. As for your "wrong default settings", you may only have to set your browser to accept cookies. I would recommend Blogger over google+ though. Perhaps someone else here has more recent experience than I and will be willing to provide thier insight.

    Hugh 12:21 PM  

    Liked this one, got the theme at Memorex and then things fell fairly quickly.

    Had "IRRITATED" instead of "IRRITABLE" at 77D for the longest time making the lower SW undoable for a while. Also got stuck on "PRITHEE" (93D). Other than those, I had fun.

    Agree with L - I can name a half dozen Clash songs that are way better than "Should I Stay Or Should I Go"! What's up Rolling Stone???!!!

    Looking forward to the next installment from Mericans In Paris...

    GILL I. 12:27 PM  

    @Nancy....I went to Google and typed in "Google blog." Then I opened "blogger getting started."
    It's easy. Just follow the instructions. Pick out a nifty picture stored in your computer and you'll shout YO LA TENGO in no time!

    Fred Romagnolo 12:29 PM  

    I gotta tell: I was lucky enough to actually hear that famous broadcast. I NEVER missed Benny on Sunday nights. What was funny was not the answer (which actually has varied over the years with re-enactments), but the pause - as we waited, we realized that Benny couldn't decide - that was what was so funny. The laughter started, and grew and grew, I (a teen-ager) was on the floor with tears in my eyes; it continued like a fire growing strength from itself. It was said to be the greatest sustained laugh in the (then) history of radio. It was at least 2 minutes. I can never forget it. @Alias Z: El Brendel, maybe you're not old enough to remember him from movies, a Scandinavian-American whose favorite expression was "Yumpin Yiminy." I caught on at Frank R. Stockton, that was the only thing by him I had ever heard of. I still don't know what a TED (T.E.D.?) conference is, and I'm not sure about an ARMANI Exchange. Terrific puzzle, congrats, Ellen and Jeff!

    Numinous 12:31 PM  

    @Nancy This will help you, I hope.

    Fred Romagnolo 12:34 PM  

    I should have added, that after the reply, there was another immense swell of a laughter - not as great as the first, but considerable. You can guess what the conversation in the Junior High schoolyard was the next day. I doubt that there was a single family owning a radio that didn't listen to the Jack Benny Show. J E L L O & Lucky Strikes (Lucky Strike Green has gone to war!)

    Leapfinger 12:34 PM  

    @Nancy, I had a long-time yahoo email account, and after I initiated a secondary one with gmail, I discovered I had a full-blown Google account, was recognized by name, etc.

    In my computer illiteracy, I've discovered that typing in any question will get results, e.g., how do I open a gmail account -or- why doesn't my Chromebook get sound.
    Some sites give pretty arcane or incomprehensible responses, so check out a few. Good luck!

    Numinous 12:42 PM  

    @Fred. L. S. M. F. T..
    I've heard that particular show though as a "transcription" recently. Never missed Jack Benny on the radio and then when he came on TV. You're a bit older than me but still, I remember "Yumpin' Yimminy."

    Moly Shu 12:44 PM  

    Dunno, didn't like this as much as everyone else apparently. Not that I disliked it, I'm putting it in the meh category. Like @Teedmn, got nowhere up top and fished around, saw the Clash clue and in went 'train in vain'. Luckily I got a few more in the deep south and fixed that error. Then I solved from the bottom up, finishing at the one theme answer I've never heard of. THELADYORTHETIGER. SEAman before SEADOG kept that corner a big mess until I tried DETROIT. Now I gotta research some Frank Stockton short story. Oh, it's sunny and 72 here in SFla, since we seem to be sharing weather data. What is this "snow" that you are all talking about??? Maybe I'll do research on that as well.

    Anonymous 12:47 PM  

    1a and 8a stood on their own so didn't reveal the theme right away. Then, duh.

    Not a stockholder 12:48 PM  

    Anyone who hasn't discovered T.E.D. talks: Run, don't walk to the site. Over 1900 talks to (as they say) 'stir your curiosity'. Everything from how New Yorker cartoons are selected to how butterflies self-medicate.

    I guarantee that you can select any talk (no matter how little the subject attracts you), and have > 50% chance of being enthralled within 5 minutes. It's one of the most interesting and rewarding ways of spending your spare bits of time.

    Tom S. 12:58 PM  

    The Clash and Yo La Tengo in the same puzzle. That's a winner right there. But the whole thing was fun, smooth, enjoyable. A+

    I agree with the commenters re Should I Stay or Should I Go though. I can probably name 20 better Clash songs with very little effort. But, you know, it's Rolling Stone.

    Steve J 1:02 PM  

    It's a mark of a good Sunday puzzle when it never starts feeling like it's wearing thin or becoming a slog. Even good themes often sag under the weight of having to fill so much of the large grid, but this one never felt that way at all.

    And the theme was really nicely executed. It took me a bit to get the "or" aspect - the first part I filled in was The Clash's truncated SHOULD I STAY, which got a quizzical look from me before I moved on - until I saw BE THERE and (B)E SQUARE crossing, and I had my lightbulb moment.

    Lots of really nice fill outside the theme, too, which is always great to see. I particularly liked DRIVEL, YO LA TENGO and NANNY GOAT.

    Nice way to leisurely start my Sunday morning.

    jae 1:16 PM  

    Fun Sunday. Well done Jeff and Ellen! Caught the theme early but it was still mostly medium for me. Struggled a bit with IRRITABLE (wanted irascible) and misread 74d as kennel instead of kernel. That'll slow down yer rodeo (@M&A).

    Unknown 1:27 PM  

    52:19, lots of fun.

    SueL 1:28 PM  

    Check out: Dead Eye Dick, Rex

    Mohair Sam 1:38 PM  

    Really well-executed theme, lots of fun. Had several proper nouns we didn't know (YOLATENGO, i.e.) but crosses were fair. Medium Sunday and very enjoyable on this cold and nasty day.

    @mericans - Great story - we'll be expecting further installments every Sunday.

    Just checked my email and found that I have been "selected" by a local golf course to receive a 10% discount on greens fees for tomorrow's holiday. That will save me $4.80. I'm busy tomorrow, but if any of you can get out I'll pass the thing along. High temp is predicted at 15, winds out of the north at 15-20 mph. Oh yeah, there's about a foot of snow covering the course. So much for automated marketing systems.

    MartyS 1:54 PM  

    Did anyone else get TAXSCAM for 102A and MOMSTER for 90D? Both work except that left SNAPET for 103D...

    Whirred Whacks 2:22 PM  

    @Rex To your Pantheon of NYT constructors I would add PATRICK BLINDAUER (who gave us the TEMPUS FUGIT meta-theme last October!

    Today's puzzle was a joy to solve: challenging at first, and then everything fell smoothly in place.

    Lots of good answers and wonderful clues! I remember the old TV ad for Memorex's IS IT LIVE series featuring Ella Fitzgerald's voice breaking the glass.

    Mid-70s and sunny here in the Bay Area.

    Obama spoke at the Cyber Security summit at Stanford on Friday (closing down traffic through and around campus and Menlo Park). The POTUS went "medieval" on his audience for the second time in a week. He told the Silicon Valley CEOs that they were building a "great cathedral" with every one contributing a different block. Glad he didn't bring up the Crusades again.

    Enjoy your long weekend!

    Ellen S 2:37 PM  

    Really enjoyed the puzzle; got the theme about halfway through (prior to which I had not filled in any of the theme downs). Thank you Jeff & Ellen for a fun Sunday morning.

    High-class comments, too: @mericans in Paris, I agree with everyone, your noir thriller demands to be continued. Sorry, you should never have started it; you're stuck now!

    And @Aliasz, again thanks for the timely music link, great to have playing while reading @mericans, merican's, merican's's's story.

    @Marty S: I had TAX_CAm and MOmSTERS for the longest time; if I had filled in the "s" I would have been doomed. DOOMed. Fortunately the light bulb clicked on and I saw TAXICAB.

    Joy A 2:38 PM  

    I trust Rex, but before I subscribe, what exactly is the American Value Crossword?? Do others recommend it?

    RooMonster 2:44 PM  

    Like everyone's MOmSTER, could be my mom, ergo, RooMonster MOMSTER!

    Since we're all discussing weather, in Las Vegas it's about 75 for a high today. Which is why I'm here. Originally from Pennsylvania, then Connecticut. These 70's are normal temps out here for February. What a deal!


    Sir Hillary 2:47 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Sir Hillary 2:48 PM  

    Fun puzzle. About an hour after I finished, I happened to hear "Should I Stay or Should I Go" on the radio.

    Thanks to @Rex for the video link to "Red Eyes." The album from which it comes was my favorite release of 2014.

    RnRGhost57 2:54 PM  

    What @Tom S said.

    mathguy 3:08 PM  

    @Leapfinger: Calling Thurber a cartoonist is like calling Michelangelo an interior decorator. All time classic line. Bravo!

    @Lewis: Myfeelings exactly. Not blown away

    Ludyjynn 3:15 PM  

    I am very excited to report that I was just visited by a turdus migratorius, a/k/a American Robin, while shoveling snow in the yard! This bird is my TOTEM that Spring is right around the corner. During Winter, robins typically migrate further South or stick to the denser shrubbed woodlands in MD, so when they arrive in my suburban yard, it is time to celebrate, today's Arctic temps. notwithstanding.

    Factoids: The robin is the national bird of Great Britain; robins were hunted for their meat until they became protected under the US Migratory Bird Act.

    My mood has substantially brightened.

    Steve J 3:31 PM  

    @Leapfinger: Love the comparison to Michelangelo as interior decorator.

    @Joy A: The AVC is edited by Ben Tausig, and is the successor to the crossword that used to run in the Onion's AV Club. It's a fantastic puzzle, but there are a few caveats:

    - It can be quite pop-culture dense
    - It can be quite off-color
    - It can be quite boundary-pushing in terms of crossword conventions at times (meaning, a rebus would be a mild trick)

    If you don't like those things in puzzles, there's a good chance you won't like the AVC. But if you do like, or don't mind, those things, you'll probably get a lot of enjoyment out of a series of puzzles that are typically very well-crafted and that are frequently witty and clever in a way that a mainstream puzzle like the NYT never will be.

    wreck 3:38 PM  

    Speaking of puzzles a little out of the "norm," - when was the last time we had a BEQ puzzle in the NYT?

    I liked today's puzzle, but am ashamed it was The Clash song that gave me the aha moment!

    Elephant's Child 3:40 PM  

    @AliasZ, it's rare that you can't Telemann something worthwhile.

    @mathguy, I'll have to tell you about my HS math teacher someday soon. Vindicates all dedicated math teachers, if not all dedicated teachers, period. Loved Thurber's story about the man looking for a box big enough to hide in.

    tea73 3:58 PM  

    Re that glass - the engineer said it was twice as big as it needed to be.

    Nancy 4:17 PM  

    @Gill I
    Well, I have a secondary Google email that I only use for certain things my Yahoo email doesn't handle. According to Google, this makes me automatically eligible for Google Blogger. I did a few clicks (very few) and now let's see if my name appears in blue. If it does, I'll shout aha and Eureka and also thank you both.
    As far as putting a photo or anything else on this blog, let's not ask for the moon when we have the stars. Fingers crossed. Here goes...

    Nancy 4:18 PM  

    Blue!!!!!! Eureka!!!!!

    Tita 4:39 PM  


    And I second the anon re; TED talks...the most productive and fascinating way to wile away the surfing hours...better even than cat videos!

    Just loved this theme, which took me a really long time to suss out.

    We live on MANMADE Lake Candlewood, built on the 20's as the second pumped storage facility... basically, a battery.
    During low demand, water is pumped from the Housatonic, then when needed, that same pump is used as a turbine to generate electricity.

    I should do a TED talk on it!

    Thank you Mr. Chen and Ms. Leuschner, for a perfect Sunday.

    Andrew Heinegg 4:40 PM  

    Were you keeping the dog entertained with the cat on your lap?

    Andrew Heinegg 4:41 PM  

    Were you keeping the dog entertained with the cat on your lap?

    chefbea 5:12 PM  

    @Nancy in blue Brava Eureka!!! Guess you are not a robot.

    GILL I. 5:24 PM  

    @Nancy....Yay...! Adding a foto is easy as well. You won't screw anything up because Google will tell you what to do...@Loren would change her foto daily (where are you?) and I like to change mine as the mood suits me....!

    Anonymous 5:27 PM  

    I had the "X" in TAXICAB at 102a and I was certain the answer was "seXy___Alas, 'twas not to be.

    Nancy 5:31 PM  

    Thanks @Tita, @chefbea and @Gill I for your interest, help and encouragement. As far as I know, there are only 2 photos of me that exist online. And that's 2 more than there were 18 months ago. I'll think about trying to get one of them from that site to the Blogger site when I'm feeling...braver.

    chefbea 5:46 PM  

    @Nancy you don't have to have a picture of yourself. I have a picture of an xword kleenex box cover that I made. Before that I had BEETS!!

    Tita 6:03 PM  

    @Nancy...or a pic of Bette Davis and Paul Henreid lighting cigarettes...

    Numinous 6:21 PM  

    Congratulations @Nancy, I knew you could do it! As has already been said, any photograph will do. I'm sure you don't really believe that Leapfinger is actually a Siamese kitten :-)

    Anonymous 6:27 PM  

    @mericans bit reminds me of Guy Noir

    wreck 6:28 PM  

    That's a real x-ray of my head!

    Carola 6:44 PM  

    @Nancy - Yay! Nice to see you in color!

    Unknown 6:49 PM  

    am i the only one bothered by Rex splitting the infinitive in "to better accommodate the theme."

    Unknown 6:52 PM  

    am i the only one bothered by the fact that i didn't know how to fit in a question mark into the previous comment?

    Anonymous 7:09 PM  

    'mericans in Paris: Well done! The sort of thing AliassZ aspires to but never attains.

    OISK 7:11 PM  

    Enjoyed the puzzle very much. I don't think anyone else related the famous (to elderly Mets fans) Yo la tengo story. Elio Chacon, a Mets infielder, understood no English, and collided a few times with Richie Ashburn, despite Ashburn's cries of "Ive go it!" So Asburn learned to shout "Yo la tengo!", which worked well, until he settled under a fly ball one day, shouted "Yo la tengo!" and was run over by the left fielder, Frank Thomas, who spoke no Spanish. Thomas, when he got up, supposedly asked Ashburn "What is a Yellow Tango?" The band is supposed to have gotten its name from this baseball incident. Of course, I knew of the incident, and never heard of the band...

    BillyC 7:17 PM  


    Are you the only one not bothered by a sentence whose first word is not capitalized? ;-)

    -- Billy

    chefbea 8:58 PM  

    Watching Saturday nite live..40th anniversary. What a show!!

    Elwyn White 12:13 AM  

    I'm fucking dead, have been for almost thirty years, yet I have to still apologize (see, this sentence is nonsense) for my error about split infinitives. I'm sorry. There, happy?

    My only advice is to just grow the hell up while you're still alive.

    Anonymous 6:32 AM  

    Wow, what's that?
    Am i the only one bothered by the thought of having to find and cut down enough trees to make a log cabin on a prairie? Puzzle author and Will S = city kids...

    Unknown 7:15 PM  


    Anonymous 3:13 AM  

    Uh check your answers. It's totem.

    Mac 4:59 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Mac 5:01 PM  

    Firstly, can someone delete/block Natasha?

    I finished the puzzle and never did "get" the theme until I read it here--quite clever!

    Can someone explain 37D to me? April second=PEE?

    Snowing and a bit warmer today here in Buffalo-24 degrees, and getting colder again tomorrow!

    Zwhatever 5:11 PM  

    @Mac - The second letter in the word "April" is....

    Mac 5:15 PM  

    @Z--What? I've been doing the puzzle since the 70's and have never seen such a silly clue/answer! Shame, shame, shame!

    Burma Shave 12:28 PM  

    GOBIG or GOHOME, unfair,

    I BELABOR it here,
    both had SIPS from my beer.

    SharonAK 1:31 PM  

    @ mericans in Paris
    Thanks for the stroy. LOL literally.

    rondo 2:03 PM  

    Got the gimmick (not theme) at GOBIG/GOHOME which brought me back to the NW and easily to the bottom. Should I really know about THELADY and TIGER?? Other than related to golf? Can't say I recall Mr. Stockton either. Knowing the gimmick really made the Clash song a piece of cake (different kinda POC).

    YOLATENGO gets played a fair amount on the MPR station I'm listening to right now (The Current, you can stream it). I've adopted a theory on music - music is like your car; it was better when it was new. I still know the oldies, but after the 10,000th time it's time for something else.

    Would like to RIFLE through yeah baby JLO's drawers.

    Agree with someone above re: LOGCABINS on the prairie. There were sod dugout huts at first because of the lack of trees. Don't think there were many houses of wood until sawn lumber appeared. I'll blame the clue on East Coast bias and ignorance of much west of the Appalachians.

    8d is what the Lone Ranger used to yell to his sidekick.

    61d is a dinosaur note.

    Passable Sunday diversion, there have been worse. TTYL.

    rondo 2:07 PM  

    Forgot to agree with @B.S. - HALFFULL or HALFEMPTY, just means someone's been drinkin' my beer.

    Ray - O - Sunshine 2:27 PM  

    Just about to give up and check this site for answers when the gimmick suddenly hit me and all fell into place. Have the handprint still on my forehead.

    rain forest 2:30 PM  

    Great puzzle. I'm impressed by those who got the theme at 1a/2d. It took me until the 4th one I encountered, IS IT LIVE etc to see what was going on.

    Excellent theme well-executed, and lots of lively non-theme stuff. I'm not sure how I knew YO LO TENGO, but it was there in the grey matter.

    I like it when a Sunday is not a grind and I'm motivated to finish in one sitting. Beauty!

    Re @Lewis's quotoid: the one I know is "one martini, two martini, three martini, floor!"

    I no longer get photos for the captcha, but I kinda miss them.

    Bastantebueno 3:12 PM  

    I live in syndication land, so I'm a week after most commenters. But I have to put on record, this is the first time EVER that I have finished with no Googles. Loved the This or That theme. Writeovers at 54D (had DAD before HIM), 40A (UHS before UMS), 89A (MRDOOM before DRDOOM), and 128A (DRS before MDS). Great fill and cluing!

    spacecraft 4:36 PM  

    I started in the west with MANMADE/HIM, so I got the trick straight off. Nothing starts with FEMP..., which meant a fork in the road above. That format makes the theme at least possible to pull off, but I think they did a good job with it.

    I did take issue with "Things found in pyramids?": FOODS. What a clue! I didn't know three of those acrosses--well, OK, the thing probably ended in -S, so SES seemed right--but I have not read Hughes, and had no idea what TED meant. I just couldn't find anything else to go in there that made any sense at all, so went with FOODS. Ugh! Horrible! I mean, I get that some RDA charts take the form of a pyramid, and the compartments contain food GROUPS--but still. Bad, bad clue.

    Two more aha! moments: it took me forever to figure out that a NANNYGOAT is a bearded female (duh!), and another forever to parse TAXICAB (oh, THAT whistleblower!) from TAX____. Major misdirect there, but I call it fair.

    Am I supposed to know what an ARMANI exchange is? Can you go someplace and trade your last year's $1000 suit for this year's? Makes no nevermind to me; my entire closet isn't worth a grand.

    I can explain the lateness of this post: I've been under the weather. I actually started solving at 6 am (!) and just finished. 'Course, there was a LOT of sleeping going on in the interim. OFL's minute is my hour. *sigh*

    Prof. Rick Shur/LaGCC/CUNY 2:36 AM  

    Nice job. (Drink coffee much?)

    Prof. Rick Shur/LaGCC/CUNY 2:38 AM  

    ITS top 500 (no apostrophe in the possessive adjective). Sorry. Pet peeve.

    Comagirl 1:34 PM  

    Yo La Tengo and The Clash in the same puzzle? So fun!!!

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