Finnish-based telecom / MON 1-25-16 / Barrier outside popular nightclub / shish kebab holders

Monday, January 25, 2016

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: CHEW TOY (39A: Puppy amuser ... or the end of the answer to each starred clue) — answer ends are all things dogs put in their mouths for amusement; whether said things actually qualify as "chew toy"s ... I don't know.

Theme answers:
  • MASKED BALL (17A: *Party with disguises)
  • FISH STICK (3D: *Food item often dipped in ketchup or tartar sauce)
  • FUNNY BONE (35D: *Inaptly named part of the elbow)
  • VELVET ROPE (59A: *Barrier outside a popular nightclub)
Word of the Day: ANDRE Braugher (5D: Actor Braugher of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine") —
Andre Braugher (/ˈbrər/; born July 1, 1962) is an American actor. He is best known for his roles as Detective Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993 to 1998 and again in the 2000 made-for-TV film, Owen Thoreau Jr. on the TNT show Men of a Certain Age, and his Emmy-nominated performance as Captain Ray Holt on the Golden Globe-winning comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine. (wikipedia)
• • •

I'm 98% certain Ian Livengood has a dog. A dog that was once a puppy. So I don't know how he figures that a "ball" or a "stick" is a CHEW TOY. "Rope," yes. "Bone," sort of. But the other things are just toys. Things dogs fetch. Things they put in their mouths because it is really their only means of effectively "playing" with any object (what with their tragic lack of opposable thumbs and all...). If your dog is chewing on a stick, there's a good chance he/she will aspirate bark. Not fun, for you or the dog. And if your dog is "chewing" on the ball, two things will happen: that ball will not last long, and it will also get so impossibly slobbery that you will refuse to take it from your dog's mouth, much to your dog's impatience and chagrin (I speak from recent, i.e. this morning, experience). So, to sum up, you can make the argument that all the end-words here are dog toys, but "CHEW TOYs," no. No you can't.  Here's a picture of one of my dogs getting petted by a toddler (earlier today)—luckily my dog is super-good-natured and did not use said toddler for a CHEW TOY:

I have mostly given up on the NFL, but I did watch the end of the Pats/Broncos game, just before solving this puzzle, and am now considering whether sports spectatorship, particularly if it involves tense, down-to-the-wire matchups, might not be an effective pre-solving ritual—I shredded this puzzle in just over 2:30. And that despite completely blanking on ANDRE Braugher's name and (worse) the location of Shanghai (!?). I don't feel that great about the crossing of "HERE" in HERESY with "HERE" in ... well, HERE. I feel even less great about crossing THE and THE in that same center section (although I do love "THE NERVE!" as an answer). Mostly this puzzle is clean, harmless fun. But I'm standing by my CHEW TOY purism. Now please enjoy this picture of river ice that looks like my *other* dog in profile:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Carola 12:13 AM  

Ian Livengood - BEST in the WEST (and everywhere else) when it comes to Monday puzzles. I thought this was EASY and delightful. Besides the cute theme, I liked the cross of ALTAR BOY and HERESY and smiled at THE NBA crossing THE NERVE, as if that answer were a comment on THE x THE (crossword HERESY).

jae 12:39 AM  

Easy-medium for me. Needed to fix my misspelling of ALLEYS.

Very smooth gird with a off beat theme, liked it. My granddog is an over sized maltipoo puppy, everything in his world is a chew toy.

George Barany 1:16 AM  

@Ian Livengood is one of the top constructors plying the cruciverbal arts these days. His comments over at were very instructive. I also appreciate @Rex's point of view.

A friend of mine just e-mailed that he was held up for just a bit, thinking MASQUERADE instead of MASKED_BALL. Actually, that entry went in just fine for me, since it's the English title of the famous Verdi opera that has given the crossworld Eri tu.

Shifting gears, in case you missed @John Child's announcement yesterday, we have launched a new contest called Eliminating the Competition. There is a Master and an Open division, with fun prizes for both.

chefwen 2:23 AM  

Our puppy consideres anything and everything as a potential chew toy. I sometimes worry about the kitty, although she is mainly a "lick toy". Sticks get consumed while we are walking and that concerns me. I try to get them and toss them, but that just turns into a game. Fingers crossed for early maturity.

Loved the puzzle even though I thought it too easy, even for a Monday, I guess I just liked the subject matter and I find it difficult to dislike anything that Ian puts his name to.

Loren Muse Smith 4:59 AM  

I came out of the gate with "rrrs" crossing "Riker." It's "Rikers." Dumb. Worse – the pinwheel themer placement escaped me at first, and wanting "masquerade" BALL coupled with the similar-looking clues for ARE and EVER, I had a moment of confusion. Rebus? Short little themers? Hmm.

Rex – I noticed the THE/THE and HERE/HERE crosses. There are also NEW/NEW, ONE/ONE, and EAVE/EAVE crosses.

Dogs are the best. The relationship between a person and a dog is nothing short of a miracle.

I imagine today we'll hear about treasured, important items that unexpectedly became CHEW TOYs. Bras, shoes, furniture, green markers, remotes, electrical cords… My contribution will be the copy of Anna Karenina that my newfie mowed through one afternoon.

And maybe the discussion (by the way, this place is returning to more of a discussion kind of place – post approvals have been much more frequent. Thanks for that, Rex.) will turn to things our dogs eat, too. I once played around with a (Roberta) FLACK theme with entries like LYING SQUIRREL and BEE LO MEIN. My favorite was HORROR LICK –dog's little kissie poo on your face as you realize he's just snacked in the litter box.

I think I disagree about the CHEW thing. I would posit that anything a dog can even halfway fit in its mouth is a potential CHEW TOY. Even a lacrosse ball. I've seen it. And yesterday I was out shoveling and heard not one, but two dogs chewing something. Thinking it was ice, I investigated. They were chewing rocks. Both. Chewing. Rocks.

Rex - cool ice picture. Cool dog picture; looks like a nice pup. You summed it up – clean, harmless fun.

Aketi 6:10 AM  

@Rex, our male cat Charlie definitely uses the rubbery red Kong BALL in which you can hide treats for iits intended purpose: as a CHEW TOY. In fact the dang cat woke me up at 5:00 am making his mrr noise (which sound cute except at 5:00 am) as he alternatively batted the ball, chewed on it, and stared at my face to see if I'd get up and feed him. He doesn't CHEW STICKS but he does CHEW the ends of my wooden rolling pin and the wooden knobs on my husbands dresser drawers, which can't be good. He once got into the kitchen cabinet and tore open a bag of SKEWERS and scattered them all over the kitchen flooor in relatively unsuccessful attempts to chew on them. They were too thin, In fact he can turn anything into a CHEW TOY. The tape on the Fresh Direct boxes and pencil erasers are two of his favorites. I'd try to pull the covers over my head go back to sleep, but he woke up our other cat Faith and he is now chasing her around the apartment at high speed.

Anonymous 6:31 AM  

I had fun with this one. It reminded me of my pit bull who does chew on sticks and balls.

jberg 6:44 AM  

I guess I've lived a sheltered life-- never seen a dog chew on a rope. Otherwise, a fine puzzle.

We fly home out of Reagan later this morning. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Lewis 6:47 AM  

@rex -- If the word "or" in the CHEWTOY clue was changed to "like", would that have fixed what you are not happy about? If so, IMO, that's worth maybe two sentences as most.

On the easy side of Monday, but still elicited smiles from this dog owner. I like how the theme answers intersect at ninety degrees and are symmetrical, and I did like seeing HERESY and VELVETROPE as answers. There are other treasures to mine as well. Such as the anagram of "soup" next to BONE, and how, Boggle-style, the H of HEAVE can make a HO. Also, ROW is on one, SLEDS are going down, there is an EASY out, LEFT is left and WEST is east.

A great amuser to our dog is socks. Unless we place them high up or away somewhere they are helpless against his rogue attacks. They're okay if we're wearing them.

GILL I. 7:01 AM  

There were other interesting little goodies like BOY/TOY, DINER/DINERO, OPUS/ONUS, NEW/NEWT, AVIS/AVID, BOONE/BONE.ldd be clue
Hand up for owning pups who chewed anything that would fit in their grandmother's rocking chair!
Cute puzzle.
I think UVA should be clued as a grape.

Z 7:12 AM  

Go to your nearest chain pet store and you will find an aisle of CHEW TOYs in every shape and made from a variety of substances. STICK is the iffiest, but it caused me nary a nanosecond pause. Samurai (our Shiba Inu) was bred as a pester, so he only played with CHEW TOYS that squeaked. Now he's old and deaf. He doesn't do CHEW TOYs.

Teedmn 7:21 AM  

CHEW TOYS - fun theme and I enjoyed the plethora of dupe crosses (maybe not THE-THE, though that was a great band). All those that @Rex and @LMS mentioned plus US-US in the SE. And the dog's canine SKEWERS the CHEW TOY through the center.

I've never had a dog as a pet (or any other animal, for that matter) but have enjoyed friends' and neighbors' dogs. The smartest dog I ever knew was a friend's border collie, Smoke, but that dog would have you throwing the ball or stick 24/7. Camping with Smoke meant throwing the stick and waiting for her to chew on it a bit, then having it deposited at one's feet. Twice, when the stick became too short to throw, I looked at her, held my hands about a foot apart and said to her, "Bigger stick". She proffered the stub she had just retrieved and I repeated, "Bigger stick". Both times she ran off and came back with another stick. Amazing. I can't say that she understood the words, but she certainly understood that I wasn't going to throw the stub.

Thanks, Ian Livengood, for the DEMO on how to build a nice Monday puzzle.

Unknown 7:29 AM  

Weirdly, I also blanked on Shanghai for a moment. I also had a take a few moments to figure out what a then-ba was. So it must be Monday morning.

To my dog, the whole damn world is a chew toy.

RooMonster 7:35 AM  

Hey All !
EASY. Also flew through the CHEW, although not Rex's 2:30. Can't even write that fast. Adequate theme, not very scintillating, but light-to-no dreck. I have a feeling the obly reason this made it to the NYT is because of it being an established puzzler, Ian L. Just sayin.

Happy as a pig rolling in the mud that those rotten, cheating Patriots lost! Woo Hoo! KARMA finally rearing its head.

Switching sympathies, good luck to y'all digging out from the epic storm. Being an original East Coaster, (PA, then CT) I feel your pain. Which is why I now reside in Las Vegas. :-)

Heartbeat of a trout? FISHS TICK
Mens Street? HE AVE
Referencing something else? AND RE
Introducing the 25th letter? HERES Y!
First HS Diplome, ___? THEN BA
Cobb making it to first base? SAFE TY
Actor Jet's mother? LI MA

Spare you the rest... :-P


Anonymous 8:01 AM  

Only two seconds slower than my previous Monday best. Sub-four minutes is a pretty sure indicator of an easy one for me.

Glimmerglass 8:20 AM  

Puppies are not students of the fine points of language. They can make a toy out of almost anything. If there's a risk from chewing sticks or certain knds of bones, they scorn the risk, but they accept that their human knows what's best. There's a lot people can learn from dogs.

chefbea 8:28 AM  

Easy puzzle...lots to chew on - shis-ka-bob, fish stick and of course cake.

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

Novice solver but competitive person by nature here.

I also found this one pretty EASY, setting a personal BEST at 6:18. I was feeling pretty good about myself until I saw Rex's posted time.

I'm pretty convinced that I physically could not have gone any faster (aside from a quick misstep: "masquerade" for MASKEDBALL)--is there something I'm not doing right? I'm solving on an iPhone, is that what's holding me back? Is Rex just a freak?

Any tips would be appreciated. I'm all EARS.

Leapfinger 8:59 AM  

Heeheehee! HERE be HERESY!

This innocent little Monday puzzle pretends to TOY with us while Mr Livengood has a (MASKED) BALL and crosses words with a vengeance. Amazing how often he "doublecrossed" us:
AVID AVIS just Hurts, even if the IRIS ERAS are soon upon us.
In the meantime, we ALMAY have to HEAVE EAVE from the ice -- Dam!
OTOH, nothing could be finer than a CHINA SHRINE in DINER for DINERO. Esp since we pay so much.
The midsection offers SKEWERS for CHEWers, but the NE ups the ante with a TOOL TONE CONEY BOONE . Isn't BOONE just a 'FUNNY' BONE? Throw in some FOE French and Laissez les BOONE TONE Roulez! ALLEY vous-en!!

By my lights, Livengood trumps all with his NEW NEWT! NEW NEWT! alert. We really must esCHEW SKEWERING such daring work without a SAFETY NEWT. It's plain to see the man disguises an Iron ANVIL with his VELVET tROPE. At puzzle's end, the ONUS is upON US; I only 'OPUS can rise to the challenge and enjoy the FUNNY BONUS.

For my part, I frankly pANTS for more ANTS, and regret I have only two legs to pull. That EASY NANNY I will leave for more Evil Minds.

Don;t forget: "First HS, THEN BA" and you'll Be Alright.

There's no Monday like Snow Monday, is there? Y'all stay safe! And good luck to @jberg

"BEST in the WEST": Touche

crabsofsteel 9:11 AM  

Ketchup on fish sticks? Beurk!

cwf 9:23 AM  

Solved this one using (mainly) just the downs but Naticked at ALMAY/KARMA. Then came here and went back and re-read the clue. Oh, "Cosmic Destiny", not "Cosmetic dentistry". Well that makes much more sense.

archaeoprof 9:43 AM  

Never knew a dog that was selective about chew toys. Ropes, bones, shoes, balls, table legs, old shirts, et al. Apparently chewing relieves STRESS.

Nancy 9:48 AM  

I received both yesterday's and today's Times at my door today -- they only missed yesterday, what a paper!!!! -- so I have a lot of catching up to do. And just about every single article in every single section of both issues looked more interesting than this puzzle. I started it, then thought: this is just too boring and mindless. I've also got a lovely email from one of my favorite people on this blog -- I'll leave you to guess; I'll never tell -- and want to answer it. So, there's much to do, even though I don't yet know if I'll get out today. I didn't Saturday and yesterday. Yesterday, my handyman, who had been shoveling outside our building for like 9 hours straight, intercepted me at the door as I was looking tremulously at the hill (which had been sort of shoveled, but not down to the cement) and said: "Don't! I almost fell myself." So I didn't. Maybe today, who knows? Though I KNOW I won't be attempting any crosswalks yet. Anyway, despite a mindlessly easy puzzle, I just dropped in to say bid you all "hi" from the City of Twenty-Seven Inches.

Unknown 9:50 AM  

Warning -- rant follows:

38a Plug-in in an amp???

Pretty much anything to do with sound or audio is completely within my wheelhouse. Apparently it is outside WS’s.

Little to no knowledge of a subject often leads to questionable or just wrong clues/answers.

In the case of 38a, one plugs a MIC into a mixer or a preamplifier, not an “amp.” I could go into great detail about this, but I’ll spare you the “nerdification.”

From the other direction there are not a lot of things one plugs into what is commonly referred to as an “amp.” What are those? Well, they are usually a mixer or a preamplifier into which said microphone is plugged. If you do plug a MIC into what is commonly known (even by your average Joe) as an “amp” or amplifier, it will not work. They are almost always incapable of properly amplifying a microphone plugged directly into them.

The “amp” question aside, parse the clue: “Plug-in in an amp. Exactly what is that supposed to mean??? A MIC is a “plug-in” that resides “in” an amp??? A MIC might be a plug-in thing FOR an amp (awkward) or a thing one plugs INTO an amp. However, a “plug-in” as a thing is software, not a MIC. Just because you can plug it in doesn’t make it a “plug-in.” If “plug-in” was intended as a verb, making it an even more awkward clue for the answer, then why the hyphen?

Ignoring the really bad clue wording, that clue or answer (take yer pick) is wrong except as used by someone with little to no knowledge of audio. Contrarily, people who normally do the job of plugging in microphones usually have more than a passing knowledge of audio. That’s why they are the ones that do that..

So-called “instrument” amps or amplifiers (think guitar amplifier) are special cases. In relatively rarer cases one might plug a microphone into one, but that is far from normal compared to where microphones are usually plugged in. Also, if there might be any doubt, they are usually qualified as being “guitar” or “keyboard” amplifiers to distinguish them from “power” amplifiers, which ARE the things normally referred to simply as “amps” (jargon) or amplifiers.

Given the past history of some other “audio” clues, WS and/or constructors are clearly lacking in knowledge about audio technology. Just as with all “factual-type” clues/answers, particularly involving science and/or technology, correctness should be based on more than a layman’s questionable, incorrect, or casually assumed (“Gee,, it sounds like it’s correct.”) knowledge of such topics. I’ve certainly have seen them called out here by experts for errors with other such “factual” topics. So I’ll keep calling them out for errors concerning this area of my expertise.

If it weren’t so laughable I’d think this one particularly atrocious, though it is just that......

End of rant.


thfenn 9:53 AM  

Fun puzzle, relatively easy for me. Think it's kind of elegant how FISHSTICK X MASKEDBALL in the NW and FUNNYBONE X VELVETROPE in the SE make two jaws around CHEWTOY. Lots of fun crosses, including those noted, would add HERESY/THENERVE. Still no idea how so many turn in times that are so fast.

quilter1 10:02 AM  

Too easy so not fun. But it was OK. No dog here but I missed the theme anyway. On to BEQ.

JC66 10:04 AM  

@Roo Monster

This Joe Nocera Op Ed piece might change your mind about the Patriots

puzzle hoarder 10:05 AM  

Like last Monday the subject of time to solve has come up again. There isn't a lot more to talk about. Other than Andre the second halves of 17A and 3D were the only things which caused me any hesitation. I still come up with my usual 8 minutes. It was around 8 and a half since people keep track of seconds. That's reading and writing as fast as I can. I've known for awhile that there are people who solve Saturday's in less time. My understanding is that these contests require the puzzles to be filled in by hand I read somewhere that lower case Es have to be used to save time. Personally I just like solving them and printing capital letters. On a different note @ George Baraney mentioned having seen minyan in the NYT before. I'm curious if he can recall which puzzle it was?

kozmikvoid 10:19 AM  

So my computer vs phone experiment was done today. I finished at an even 3:15. That is a minute faster than my fastest phone-solving time, so that was fun.

I'm curious about the breed of dog in that photo. I have a sorta similar-looking very rare breed called an Entlebucher. He's a mutt, but all his Entlebucher genes went to his head. So his head is Entlebucher, the rest of him is some mishmash of other dog breeds. But the dog in the photo kinda looks like him...minus the typical white stripe down his snout.

Joseph Michael 10:39 AM  

A crossword solver amuser. Cute idea nicely executed. And I agree that, for dogs, anything qualifies as a CHEW TOY.

FISH STICK brings back memories of growing up Catholic in Chicago when meat on Friday was forbidden and the only alternative at our house was Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks which, my mother said, I would have to eat every Friday for the rest of my life. Fortunately the church changed its mind snd so did my mother.

AliasZ 10:41 AM  

Wasn't it only yesterday that I mentioned that a cigar is just a cigar, but a pinch of tobacco is a CHEW?

My dilemma was whether ALTAR BOY crossing CHEW TOY may be part of the theme. But then I couldn't accept its symmetrical pair, THE NERVE as a themer, having never heard of a NERVE TOY. Besides, BOY TOY is not something Ian would aim for, I don't think.

Verdi's MASKED BALL is too obvious, and well covered by Prof. Barany. Let me therefore try this instead: "Saint Michael the Archangel" from the STAINED glass "Church Windows" by Ottorino Respighi, which I had the good fortune to experience live with the NY Philharmonic a week ago Saturday. Amazing piece!

Enjoy your messy Monday commute.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Yes, puppies will chew on any/everything, but that doesn't make them "chew toys" anymore than the fact that they'll go to the bathroom in your living room makes your living room a bathroom. If you have an adult dog that chews on other than chew toys, you have an ill-trained dog, and shame on you.

Hartley70 11:08 AM  

Did anyone else notice that there was a BOY TOY potential themer going down? I enjoyed thinking about that as a woman of a certain age. No sorry, not really.

One of our goldens was particularly timid and didn't really enjoy his puppy obedience class although he was very well behaved. The stern instructress often asked to use him as the demo dog much to his apparent distaste, to my maternal eye. When the weekly classes were finally done and we'd come home from the "graduation ceremony", I found Rufus upstairs surrounded by teeny tiny scraps of paper. He had gotten ahold of his diploma, used it as a CHEW TOY and torn that sucker to bits. He never ripped another piece of paper in his remaining 13 years.

Z 11:19 AM  

@TEEDMN - Meet Chaser. All the herders, e.g. Border Collies, German Shepherds, Corgis, are especially smart and good with language. They also need a lot of mental activity or they, and the owner, will go crazy.

Nancy 11:32 AM  

@Hartley 70 -- Your Rufus story is a howl!

Z 12:06 PM  

@cwf - TeeHee. We've all been there, although Cosmetic Dentistry --> KARMA is pretty wonderful all by itself.

@Chuck McGregor - I call that an einstein (too much expertise causing puzzle problems). I think @Casco Kid is still angry over the E equals MC squared puzzle. For us laypeople (or is it liepeople?) anything the MIC plugs into that amplifies my voice is an "amp." The only "mixer" I ever knowingly use is in the kitchen.

@JC66 - Trying to change someone's mind about the Patriots is roughly the same on the Windmill Tilting Scale as religion or politics.

kozmikvoid 12:08 PM  

@Anon 8:30 - See my earlier post, I wondered the same thing. I solved on the computer instead of the phone today and was 25% faster than my best time. I'm typically 4:30 on the phone on Monday but took over a minute off using the computer.

Nancy 12:15 PM  

@Z (11:19) -- I met Chaser in his original TV appearance, but it's wonderful to see his amazing demonstration of doggie IQ again. Thanks for the link. Dogs rule!

RooMonster 12:16 PM  

I don't like the Patriots, that's plain to see. After reading the article, one point sticks in my craw, where he "surmised" the Colts' footballs were checked after they had been warmed up. How does he know for sure? And yes, the Pats did score the 28 points after re-inflation. So, I will cringe and cut them some slack on that one. However, that doesn't explain the SpyGate scandal for which they did. And that's only two times they were caught. Who knows what other nefarious goings on happened. Just sayin.
And Belicheck needs to have some emotion. Whether they win or lose, he's always the same.


Da Bears 12:21 PM  

Puppies chew. That's what they do. Haven't been in a pet shop for a long time but we once had two dogs when the boys were boys and all of those things in the puzzle are made as chew toys for puppies, regardless of the shape. Otherwise, your furniture legs will become CHEW TOYS.

Agree that HERE Xing HERE and THE with THE slightly mar and otherwise clean and smooth grid.

Overall made for an enjoyable Monday.

Masticate and AnonymoUUs 12:26 PM  

If U have 2 or more pups, they'll even chew on each other.

Masked B ALL Anonymo2Us

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

I think my time would have been faster if my eyes didn't keep misting up. My 12 year old wire fox terrier crossed the Rainbow Bridge a few days ago. The pup theme was bittersweet to say the least.

gifcan 2:28 PM  

Lots of first names - Bob, Ted, Leonard, Andre, Iris, Attila, and maybe even Mic. All getable, directly or indirectly.

Rex's dog looks similar to mine. Never heard of Entlebucher (@kozmikvoid) but I'm going to check it out.

Wm Martin 3:04 PM  

Because of the snow here I didn't get the Sunday Times delivered and am without the Sunday puzzle. Anyone have any ideas of how I might--legally--get a copy?


Ludyjynn 3:18 PM  

@Anon 12:53, my sentiments exactly, as my beloved 12 yr. old cockapoo, Honey, left us one month ago. When I first rescued her from the SPCA, she had a nasty habit of using pens, book spines and decorative pillows as 'chew toys' whenever I left the house. My vet said she had separation anxiety and should probably be crated when alone. Instead, I removed all writing implements and hardcover books from the coffee table and tossed her a 'large dog' sized MilkBone biscuit as I departed. Problem solved and Honey's freedom was assured.

@Hartley, great story. Rufus graduated summa cum laude, I see.

I have been doggedly searching for the last two days while snowed in here. If any of you knows of a young, smaller (mixed) breed, under 30 pounds, preferably with hair as opposed to fur, who needs a good home and will peacefully co-exist with Felix the cat, please give me a shout out here.

I just paid a king's ransom to my neighbor's teen to shovel out the front and a crew of guys to do the back, including the car and alley, but it was worth every damned penny to be rid of the three and a half feet of snow blocking the back door! Now I am curious when and if the NYTimes delivery will recommence. Not to mention the US Mail. Five feet mountains of snow block in cars left parked out front on most streets here, since the plows had to put it somewhere. BF mess is not going away any time soon. For those of you in the same boat, my condolences!

The best part of the snow has been the activity at my bird feeders. Yesterday, for the very first time, a male red bellied woodpecker showed up and spent some quality time sucking insects from my Bradford pear tree and pecking at the seed feeders on its branches. A most beautiful spectacle.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:28 PM  

To paraphrase a recent joke-of-the-day:

What would the average dog say about this puzzle?

Nothing. Dogs can't talk.

Teedmn 5:04 PM  

@Z, thanks for the Chaser link. It reinforces my feeling that Smoke really did know what I was asking her to do.

Unknown 5:52 PM  

Hi @Z 12:06 PM: Yield to the man with the star! I've no problem that, for the average person, MIC "plugs into" an amp is the perspective.

I do see the same problem with something like "Used to tie up a boat" - ROPE. To a lot of people, yes, to many others it would be LINE. "The right rope for dock lines is plain old nylon." You buy rope that will be the (dock) line "used to tie up a boat." Rope is called anything but rope on a boat. One of the odd exceptions is that you store all those lines (halyards, sheets, et al) in a rope locker. Go figure. Rope is (not) OK like amp is (not) OK.

However, I still can't figure out how "Plug-in in an amp" makes grammatical sense, let alone as a description for the thing, a MIC, technically or otherwise.

Aw, Com'on Z - "I call that an Einstein?" Just trying to call a foul as I see it, as others oft do with arcade (or not) topics, complete with a spoiler alert as a deterrent!! Not angry at all, but I'll cop to being on the acerbic side. I have a friend, about 6'-4" 240 l. I let HIM do anger :>)

Ah, anger. Instead of counting to ten, I simply recall this incident from many years ago --

NYC cabbie story: At a stoplight, another cab pulled alongside the one I was in and the cabbie started SCA-REEEMING at mine about his driving, invectives, the whole works. Mine just looked at him and listened without a word the entire time. When the other guy finally sort of sputtered out my cabbie, in the nicest, almost motherly-like, calm voice (a native NY area accent to boot) says to him,

"Hey Buddy....Clam down....You'll give yourself a heart attack."

At that moment the light changed. We moved on. If the other guy had any reaction to that I (unfortunately) did not see it. You know mine.


Tita 6:45 PM  

I coulda constructed such a puzzle - woulda been easy-peasy - as long as I could use my sister's 2 black labs as the discerners of chew-toyiness.
Basically, every word in the grid could fulfill the theme.

Did I tell you about the Huge wedge of Jarslberg? Or the jack-o-lantern? Or any package whatsoever that gets delivered to the front door?
Chewtoys all.
HERE comes trouble

Maybe that's why I thought this theme was a bit arbitrary, as did Rex.

But still brought many smiles. Thanks Mr. Livengood!

Tita 7:01 PM  

@lms - I love your avatar, and thanks for that link. I feel so sad for those sweet pups!!!!

Oh - OK - so everyone said what I did - your dogs eat everything too. Great stories, all.

@Rex - your dog looks sooo tolerant. Very sweet.

Chronic dnfer 7:11 PM  

Easy puz no dnf. Yesterday too.

Diana,LIW 8:06 PM  

When my cat Lambo (soft as a lamb outside, the outrageous heart of Rambo on the inside) was a kitten, he became known as "the cat who ate a sofa." It wasn't an exaggeration. He discovered that you could pull parts of the sofa out from little holes. And that he could make these little holes. Every day, we would come downstairs and find "mountains of clouds" on the man-cave floor. Finally, the sofa was no longer a sofa. Four-pound kitten vs. 60-pound sofa. Kitten - 1, Sofa - gone.

He loves to take his "mousie toys" to his food bowl, cover them in kibble bits, and gnaw on them until they become one with the universe. The Force is strong...

Diana, Lady Chewin' on Crosswords in the Past

chefbea 8:11 PM  

@wm martin E-mail me and I will try to send you the puzzle

jae 8:33 PM  

@Chuck Mc - I am not an expert but I read the clue as referring to the label printed over the plug-in jacks (plug in options) on the amp, one of which I'm assuming would read Mic.

George Barany 9:14 PM  

Quick note to @puzzle hoarder. MINYAN made its New York Times debut in Sunday's puzzle by @Francis Heaney and @Brendan Emmett Quigley.

@Jim Horne established, and @Jeff Chen maintains, an incredible database of answer words for the entire history of the NYT puzzle, both under the editorship of @Will Shortz and -- in an effort spearheaded by @David Steinberg -- all the years before. The URL of that site is ... and I urge anyone who is serious about crossword puzzles to check it out.

F.O.G. 10:03 PM  

@Nancy... re your comment yesterday in response to my post, members of the Tumblr website can "repost" from other blogs. I thought it was a clever clue, but then again I'm easily amused, so perhaps it was lame.


Diana,LIW 11:57 PM  

Hey @Rainy. On Sat you posted to LMS about her use of me vs. my regarding a gerund. Were you jesting or serious?

I ask because, as a teacher of writing, writing style always depends on the context. In the context of a blog, LMS is fine - since the gerund is a tricky grey area of grammar. (Or is that gray area?) I read her post as "It is just I (or me), doing as I do." Blogs are, by nature, a way of writing as we speak, not as an academician wants to edit a thesis final draft.

See the wonderful grammar/style guide, "Woe is I." I have dozens of grammar and style guides. They ALL differ on some point or other. Why? English is a living language, and changes with the times and with the context it is in. (See how I can end a sentence with a preposition?) One of my favorite Churchill quotes - "That is something up with which I shall not put."

It is I, simply saying... ;-)

Lady Di, Defender of Speech Freedoming

PS - OTOH, I do understand having some forms of speech that simply grate on one's nerves - perhaps this was one of yours. Eh?

spacecraft 11:21 AM  

Synchronicity: Just last night I re-enjoyed a showing of "WEST Side Story," featuring LEONARD Bernstein's brilliant score. BEST musical ever, IMHO.

Back when we had a dog, his favorite CHEWTOY was my hand. He never clamped down too hard (though he certainly could have; his jaws packed a 200-psi punch). Just instinct, I guess. The other thing he did with his mouth was lick; hence the name Licks. Actually, the kids named him on the way home from the shelter. That tongue was going nonstop the whole way, so they named him "Sixty Licks," later shortened.

THENERVE! Crossing two THEs like that! Down, it's not only acceptable, it's necessary to fit the clue. But across? No-o-o. Not only is this second THE totally gratuitous, it's--well, the SECOND one, a clear violation. HERE comes the hankie (another CHEWTOY!).

Not much better is the DINER/DINERO cross, though I like the clue-twinning of "Money, in Mexico."

For the yeah-baby feature I nominate Fran Drescher, "The NANNY." She is what Huxley would call "pneumatic."

And finally, I join @Ms. Waiting in the defendation of speechification freedomination. Today's puz rates an A-, with a full grade off for the flag, so B-. Sorry, Ian, had to do it.

Burma Shave 11:52 AM  


in the SAFETY of the MASKEDBALL that’s so cool,
then she ALSO has THENERVE to set the TONE,
it’s not HERESY to ASK if she’ll SLEEP with such a TOOL.
Like you.


rondo 12:31 PM  

Those items ALMAY be CHEWTOYs as far as I’m concerned. Any dog I EVER had would CHEW any of them until there’d be nothing LEFT. Had the STICK-and-BALL and was hoping for something relating to those types of sports. Write-over on Monday? Yes, ROamS at ROVES.

Let’s all head down to THE THE DINERO DINER. Nuff said about all that.

So we have a BOB and a TED, but no Carol or Alice. Probably too old a movie for OFL anyway.

Debby BOONE could have qualified as a yeah baby. IRIS Dement, maybe not these days.

If a Jamaican misses a beat is it a SKAfLAW?

Even with all the names and things this is an acceptable Mon-puz. EASY but not the BEST.

leftcoastTAM 12:43 PM  

Monday easy-medium; needed crosses for Revlon's ALLMAY.

And if A+++ is best, what's A++++?

No STRESS here.

rain forest 1:47 PM  

The puzzle was EASY, certainly not an ATTILA, fun, though not the BEST, and essentially dreck-free. That is a statement of my liking it.

Notice, @Lady Di, that in the previous sentence, I would not say "that is a statement of me liking it". Sounds like "me likey". Yikes.

My comment to @LMS was only semi-serious as I know she knows what the rules are, and besides, I always read and like her comments. I think I understand the difference between speaking language and writing language, and that the English language is evolving, but that doesn't mean that some things don't bug me (eg why is a painting in the style of Rubens not "Rubensesque"?) such as turning nouns into verbs (I couriered that document to him), and the gerund/possessive thing. I think it is the way it sounds when one doesn't apply that particular "rule". I could say I applaud that you "freedom" the language, but I'd rather say that I applaud your freedoming of the language.

If I were to run into you on Robson Street in Vancouver, you'd likely see me window-shopping, but I'd hope that my window-shopping is all I ever do. Btw, your commenting on something I said pleases me.

leftcoastTAM 5:49 PM  

The answer to my question is: Burma Shave, Year II.

Cathy 7:37 PM  

Whoops, my yesterday post didn't appear. I thing it might have been my phone. It was about POPCORN (poopers) PAUPERS. Probably a good thing!

Cute Monday from Mr. Livengood:) Fun to read the comments. @Diana LIW- Hilarious about Lambo! My FUNNYBONES had a BALL:)

One write over. Denero for DINERO. Like I've never seen that before. Musta been thinking of Robert.

BS2 8:29 PM  

@leftcoast - Thanks, I'm humbled. Sometime since the anniversary party the number of verses crossed the 400 mark (multiples some days). If I get there, day 500 will be somewhere around July 4; verse 500 will be sometime around Memorial Day (Indy 500?). OK then,a bonus:


The STRESS HERE is ONUS, for AVID, EASY lovin’,
after our BEST OPUS, MAMA says ONES in the OVEN.


Diana,LIW 10:05 PM  

Rainy - I wrote a continuation of the gerundicational discussion - hope it shows up in tomorrow's posts!


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