Mumbai titles / MON 4-25-16 / Don't mess with him per old song lyric / Walter who created Woody Woodpecker / James of Gunsmoke

Monday, April 25, 2016

Constructor: Betty Keller

Relative difficulty: North of Medium by a little bit (i.e. Medium-Challenging *for a Monday*)

THEME: MR. IN-BETWEEN (37A: "Don't mess with" him, per an old song lyric ... or a hint to 18-, 20-, 55- and 58-Across) — "MR." is "IN BETWEEN" (i.e. straddling) two words in two-word phrase:

Theme answers:
  • BOTTOM ROW (18A: 64-, 65- and 66-Across, in this puzzle)
  • STEAMROLLER (20A: Heavy vehicle that smooths a road surface)
  • PALM READING (55A: Means of fortunetelling)
  • AM/FM RADIO (58A: Audio feature that comes standard on cars)
Word of the Day: Walter LANTZ (17A: Walter who created Woody Woodpecker) —
Walter Benjamin Lantz (April 27, 1899 – March 22, 1994) was an American cartoonist, animator, film producer, and director, best known for founding Walter Lantz Productions and creating Woody Woodpecker. (wikipedia)
• • •

There's a fairly standard, reasonably solid theme concept here. Not great that it relies on a non-title phrase from a song that the clue doesn't even bother to name, but let's leave that aside for now. You put "MR." as a bridge between words in two-word phrases. OK. Problem one: this theme is infinitely replicable. It's not tight enough, not special enough. DORM ROOMS, ALBUM REVIEWS, FILM REELS, FOAM RUBBER, FARM-RAISED, WARM REGARDS, RUM RAISIN, GRIM REAPER ... I'm not even trying here. If the theme answers that were chosen were particularly fantastic—really scintillating examples of the form—then maybe? But they're not. They are just phrases. So the theme just doesn't cohere enough, and the chosen answers are flat.

Then there is the much much bigger problem of fill quality. It's quite poor. This is a 74-worder—that is low for a Monday. I Do Not understand why this grid wasn't built in a more accommodating, good-fill-friendly manner. Bring it up to 76 or 78 words, pull the themers apart a little, or at least add some corner cheaters in the NW and SE. *Something*. That NW corner is in excusable—and it's where people's first impressions of the puzzle come from. Will or Joel could refill that thing cleanly inside of 10 minutes, guaranteed. So why didn't they? I am baffled. We have to endure a partial, a foreign partial, a Latin phrase word, a single BEATLE, a tired golfer name, and (most improbable of all) *crossing* *old-timey* *names*. That square will Natick more than a few people guaranteed. It nearly got my wife. It got one other person I've heard back from already. This problem is—I can't stress this enough—utterly foreseeable. LANTZ is not and will never be a Monday name, no matter what it crosses, but crossing it with ARNESS.... (3D: James of "Gunsmoke") ... that is baffling. People who have been doing the puzzle forever and ever might not be troubled at all by either of those names, but man, look this puzzle over—from the theme, to every corner (but especially the NW corner), it's basically telling people under 40 to f-off.

The grid is both poorly filled and unacceptably narrow in its cultural frame of reference. Cleaning up that NW corner *alone* would've made this puzzle 2x as good. There are fill problems throughout, but virtually *everything* from ABANG down to MMLI is objectively not good, so a quick clean-up there would've made a huge difference. I do like the NE and SW corners on this one, with all those long Downs alongside one another. But they're not worth the pain we have to endure elsewhere. I mean, MAAMS plural? SRIS plural? You can't let puzzles go out like this—unpolished, unfinished. It's not fair to the constructor, and it's especially not fair to the solvers.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


George Barany 12:03 AM  

Thanks, @Rex, for this spot-on review. I may (or may not) add my own thoughts later.

Among this blogs many charms are the eclectic interests of its leader and the commentariat. @Deane Morrison and I noted the tangential close to yesterday's review, which struck us as a wide-open invitation to create a tribute puzzle to a local pop icon who has somehow managed to drive @Donald Trump from the headlines, at least for the past few days. Please consider Purple Reign our own modest contribution to a national dialogue.

rachelrauch 12:19 AM  

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who found that NW corner to be off-putting. I didn't know who James ARNESS, Walter LANTZ, Ernie ELS or Tess TRUEHEART were, so there was a lot of guessing based on the other answers and what sounded like it would make sense. I got it all filled in, but it never feels great to just guess on so many answers (and on a Monday)! As mentioned, I'm in the under-40 set, so that could explain some of my struggles with it. My favorite clue was "court legend Arthur" (ASHE).

Hays 12:53 AM  

If they ever want to get young people to like doing crosswords, they can't have a Monday featuring a proper name Natick of ARNESS and LANTZ. Regardless of all the other things the NYT screws up with regard to building a new generation of puzzle fans... Then again, I guess "Millennials" aren't likely to fork over the money for a subscription like the people who remember who created Woody Woodpecker.

Hays 12:57 AM  

Sorry Rex, I just realized you already wrote what I wrote, except better. I was so perplexed after solving I rushed to comment, only doing a quick scan and missed that line. If you see this before approving my comment, please delete both, if you wish (especially this one hah).

Charles Flaster 1:02 AM  

Disagree with a good deal of Rex.
I do agree that crossing ARNESS with LANTZ is cruel to anyone not born iat least fifty years ago. I know LANTZ from both his newspaper comics and I seem to remember there was a TV cartoon with WOODY Woodpecker. Now my younger friends know how I seethe when my trivia contest hinges on knowing a song by Justin Bieber, Drake,
Nicki Minaj, Jay Z , etc....
Rex was too harsh on this one.
The positioning of MR is tricky ; The only one I would replace is AMFM as it is not a word whereas the others are distinct two word phrases.
BOTTOM ROW is a clever link to the puzzle.
Lots of CROSSWORDease-- ELS, ORR, OBI, but Hey it's Monday.
Thanks BK

jae 1:22 AM  

Medium-tough for me too, plus I actually had to stare for more than a few nanoseconds (@m&a) to grok the theme.

Re: Puzzle - more or less what @Rex said.

Loren Muse Smith 4:02 AM  

Well, I'm definitely over 40, and I blew through that ARNESS/LANTZ cross without even noticing it. In fact, I dispatched this one really quickly, even for a Monday. My only erasure was "scour" for SCRUB.

E STREET! Boy, Bruce has been stepping up to the plate recently, huh? Or away from the NC plate. Good for him.

I liked HYPE over OZ. I had briefly drunk that Kool-Aid, scurrying to the store to buy the latest Kudzu Tarantula tea or potting soil capsules. Sheesh. (You think I would have learned from my food-grade flea killer debacle - the supplement I stopped the minute Mom, who had told me about it, reported that she was starting to grow hair on her temples. HONEST.)

Rex – as I read your take, I was thinking that there'd be minimum rage, but once you left the theme and tackled the fill…. well, yeah. I didn't really notice that ARNESS cross, but I did think people would be riled by the MA'MS/SRIS cross –one I find kinda fortuitous, actually.

I'm not familiar at all with the song, but that didn't cause a problem, and MR IN BETWEEN is such a terrific, apt reveal. And some nice entries: FLUMMOX, TWEEZE, GIZMO, NO WAIT, KABOOM (sharing the grid with A BANG), SEE YA, ALL SET… So the OEOs and MMLIs didn't really interfere with this pleasant APR AM romp.

Anonymous 5:40 AM  

Clues: 24A--OEO is not an antipoverty agency.
53A--TOG is a verb?

Lewis 6:42 AM  

Some very nice answers: KABOOM, TOREOPEN, POROUS, FLUMMOX, and MOURNFUL. I liked the vertical STILTS, the anagrammed SIRS crossing MAAMS, the SCRUB meeting CLUB and touched by a Boggle-style FLUB, and the double-E mini-theme (5). M touches R six times in this puzzle (either edge-to-edge or corner to corner), but it actually touches O nine times. We have our second letter string in a row -- is this coming back? The solve was zippy and ugh-free. Betty, I think you did MR right! Thank you MA'AM.

kvilksen 6:55 AM  

I'm slightly over 40 and almost had a DNF because of the NW corner. Never heard of MR Inbetween. Totally agree with you today Rex! Sloppy sloppy sloppy.

BigMistake 7:08 AM  

I am barely over 40, and I experienced a Monday DNF due to the NW. The highs of nailing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and the lows of staring blankly at the NW corner (it didn't help that for some reason I couldn't get gizmo!)

Cassieopia 7:21 AM  

Naticked in the NW corner as predicted. It was LEROI crossing NOTA that got me. Hours of Saturday morning cartoons as a child allowed LANTZ to surface from the murky depths of my memory but not before I had LANze for a while. And I had to come here to understand the theme, so while I usually don't understand Rex's drumbeat of negativity about poorly constructed puzzles ( after all, I am in awe of anyone who can build any kind of crossword puzzle with any sort of sophistication!), this time I am in alignment with Rex's curmudgeonly critique.

Hungry Mother 7:23 AM  

Ignored the theme, did mostly downs, and had a very quick and easy solve today.

Woody Woodpecker 7:23 AM  


Each generation brings different styles.

Focus on outcomes. Embrace differences. Be tolerant of differences while looking for common ground. Work together. Multi-generational viewpoints enrich the crossword, so constructors should use this as a strength. Be flexible.

Respect each other. It’s important not to make assumptions of individuals based on age.

Z 7:24 AM  

Solved this last night when I saw all the pissing and moaning start on Twitter. Haven't done an iPad solve in awhile, but 7:48 is definitely in the Tuesday zone for me. This is Ms. Keller's second NYTX. I looked up the reveal, Johnny Mercer wrote those lyrics in 1945. Woody Woodpecker made his debut in 1941. James Arness made his film debut in 1947. TESS Trueheart made her debut in the comics in 1931. I don't know what OEO stands for, but it does have a 1939 movie feel to it. One has to wonder if this puzzle was accepted by Margaret Farrar and has been waiting to be published since then.

Third female constructor in four days, interrupted by a very young man. What do we get today for our foray into diversity? TESS, DINA, and Arthur ASHE. I've never felt older. Whiter. Maler. And there was such a good chance to make the puzzle current. Not that fighting poverty ain't important. Oh! Wait! The Office of Economic Opportunity ceased to be in 1981. I guess Reagen solved poverty (random political snark just because).

Tim 7:29 AM  

"TOG up"? No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Just no.

I got through the rest of the puzzle easily enough, but I found myself stuck hard on that SE corner for at least a minute alone, and part of it was being unwilling to believe that TOG was being used as an active verb. You can be togged up or get togged up, but the active form of that verb has been obsolete for a hundred years. That's just wrong wrong wrongity wrong.

AnnieD 7:31 AM  

Is anyone else having the issue solving on line that the gridlines are gone? Makes for very disconcerting solving. I was hoping it was a temporary bug, but it's been going on for days now. I'm on a mac and chrome....

Debra 7:32 AM  

Cute, zippy puzzle. Fine Monday.

Wm. C. 7:45 AM  

I'm old, had no problem with James Arness (nor would I with Miss Kitty or Chester), but Lantz rang a bell only after-the-fact.

BTW, I hope the Axle on my car never rotates!

chefbea 7:55 AM  

Easiest puzzle ever!! I breezed through problems at all

AliasZ 7:58 AM  

Nice enough theme for Monday, but with some problems as @Rex so eloquently detailed it. Never mind the NW corner, there were enough proper names throughout the grid to choke a novice.

Another feature also jumped out at me: all the IN's, starting with MR. IN-BETWEEN, then IT IN, AD IN and IN ORBIT, so much so that I started seeing IN-phrases even where they weren't: S IN, M IN I, D IN A, "REM" IN D and "PALM-READ" IN G major.

But despite all these distractions, or maybe precisely because of them, I enjoyed this one -- HONEST. You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and latch on to the affirmative, don't you?

It occurred to me that gyM Rats get a buM Rap. These freedoM Riders and storM Racers are no proM Royals, but develop firM Rhomboids, visit petroliuM Refineries and steaM Rooms.

And this is how "LE ROI s'amuse".

Happy Monday!

Amy 8:15 AM  

when I saw e street and then had een of the lyric clue I thought for a moment it might be a Springsteen morning. alas.

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

Hate to fail to finish a Monday, but LANTZ and ELS crossing ARNESS killed it for me. : (

beaglelover 8:32 AM  

@anonymous: The OEO is an anti poverty agency. It came into being during the Johnson administration. It was the agency that oversaw all of the antipoverty initiatives. It was gutted by Nixon but it still administers the Head Start Program and a few others.

Roo Monster 8:35 AM  

Hey All !
Cool little theme. I agree with Rex that the themers should've been spaced farther apart. Why cram them on top of one another? Curious minds, and all that. Also agree on that NW corner. Yeowch. LEROI/LANTZ/ARNESS/NOLA. Don't know what N.B. stands for, ergo I missed at the T of NOTA/LANTZ cross. That was my one wrong square. And that OEO (?) didn't help. Otherwise, I found puz to be fairly straightforward and easy.

Some nice longer Downs. Wonder who did the clue for MINI, Joel? Waiting for the 7x7 clue (Yo M&A) so I can write RUNT as the answer!

@Lewis and @Loren, ya both missed RILED on top of ANTSY! And TOG is an odd word for Dress up. Why are you all tog tonight? Big date?


Sallie (FullTime-Life) 8:43 AM  

Very easy for me because I'm old as the hills .(I didn't even think about why it was easy; after all, it is Monday)... But ... I never complain when a puzzle has r rap stars or wrestlers or pop singers I wouldn't otherwise care about ..I think of it as a learning opportunity. Shouldn't it go the other way too ... A chance for the younger generations to learn ancient history? (It's nice when a puzzle mixes it up ... Liked maybe Dr Dre or Bieber in the same puzzle as oh, i dunno, say Mario Lanza.. When that happens I congratulate myself for my very broad knowledge of very important cultural facts ;)),)

Honeysmom 8:44 AM  

One of easiest Mondays ever for me, and am not in the league of some of you pros. Amazes me when Tex calls tough ones for me "Easy."

Kim 8:48 AM  

I'm not in the under-40 group and I thought the NW corner was awful! Didn't know Lantz or Leroi! Bad start to a Monday puzzle.

Nancy 8:49 AM  

I agree with @Lewis's review: "zippy and ugh-free." Like @lms, I never noticed the LANTZ/ARNESS thing; they were both gimmes. And since I had virtually all the letters of LANTZ anyway -- from BEATLE, NOTA and GIZMO, there wasn't much left to do anyway. And what with LE ROI and A BANG and the omnipresent ELS -- well I thought the NW was the easiest corner of all. A nice, smooth Monday; give this lady a Friday, so she'll be free to make us work harder.

kitshef 8:50 AM  

Man if Ernie ELS was ticked about being disrespected following his first-hole-of-the-Masters blowup, he's really not going to like being called a 'tired golfer'.

Let's see ... we have arbitrary phrases like ABANG and NOWAIT, abbreviations like OEO and MRO, a rrn in MMLI, pocs like MAAMS and SRIS, EDY as a singular, a random alpha string in LMN, lots of PPPs, and a revealer that is incredibly obscure for a Monday.

And I'm surprised @Rex didn't point out the theme inconsistency in that STEAMROLLER is one word and all the others are two (or more) with break between the M and the R.

One major overwrite: Plopped in crystalball off no crosses, feeling clever. Alas...

Anon at 5:40: There are many OEOs. I assume this one refers to the defunct Office of Economic Opportunity, which was quite specifically an antipoverty agency.

Ludyjynn 8:51 AM  

My only easily corrected ERRor in the NW was misspelling LANTZ initially, writing 'Lance', as in the snack food brand. At age five, I became aware of Woody Woodpecker, who has remained my all-time fave toon til this day. Not even Jiminy Cricket singing "You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don't mess w/ MRINBETWEEN", can beat Woody's "Uh Uh Uh Uh Uh" signature line in my pea brain!

Re the ongoing so-called under 40 cluing disadvantage, I beg to differ. "Gunsmoke" ran forever in its first run, and is shown around the clock on cable tv TODAY. My favorite arcane trivia bit is this: did you know that James ARNESS' brother is Peter Graves, best known for his role in tv's "Mission Impossible"? That might have stumped the young 'uns, since they probably only associate the franchise w/ the big screen's Tom Cruise, who did a great job, BTW.

BONO and Springsteen are no spring chickens, either, but everyone knows them because they're classics. As are ASHE and TESS. Here's my point: if the millenials learn some history and the boomers stay current, puzzle solving should be a joy for both groups and everybody INBETWEEN

The other day we had a rum dark 'n stormy; today pina COLADA. @Hartley, care to join me for a jaunt to Bermuda?!

Thanks, BK and WS.

Doug 9:01 AM  

I checked in to see if this would be "easiest puzzle of the year." I guess those of a certain age finished fairly quickly. I blew through it without even paying attention to the theme. My fastest finish in quite awhile. ELS has been in puzzles so frequently they could have had a more challenging clue like "He 6-putted two weeks ago."

Lewis 9:05 AM  

@Z (7:24) -- Great post top to bottom!

jberg 9:07 AM  

Yeah, hand up for old and knowing those proper names, including the Office of Economic Opportunity. And personally, I loved the revealer, partly because of not naming the song and having the 'don't mess with him' misdirect.

But what's MR. E doing there at 59 down? Even using a theme M? It shouldn't be.

I did like the MOURNFUL/DOUR cross, and ORR/ERR was kinda cute.

On TOG: it's a verb, but you only see it as a participle: there she was, all TOGged up in her best.

oldbizmark 9:22 AM  

LANTZ/ARNESS and NOTA got me a big old NATICK. Tried ARLESS because of that show never heard of either. I will read the comments but WTF is the B in NB? I was thinking New Brunswick but couldn't for the life of me come up NOT A since I don't know what the B is.

Hartley70 9:29 AM  

I thought the most obscure answer for younger solvers was DINA. Cable television insures that ARNESS must still be riding his horse on a cowboy channel and Woody Woodpecker will never die of old age. But DINA? While I still remember her lovely face and classy demeanor, I don't know how and I haven't thought of her in the last 50 years. I doubt her fan club is still in existence. Any EDM or rap musician would be a fairer clue, even for the AARP crowd.

Despite OWM objectionable clues lately, it's interesting we've been given 3 female constructors and a youngster in the last few days. That's something to celebrate!

George Barany 9:36 AM  

Small time window to report back, as promised, about @Betty Keller's puzzle. Many great points already made, both by @Rex and the commentariat. When I filled in BOTTOM_ROW for 18-Across, I made a mental note to look at 64-, 65-, and 66-Across, once they were known later in the solving process. Alas, nothing unusual emerged.

@Bruce Springsteen (of E_STREET band fame) opened a recent concert with this heartfelt tribute, and then there is this from BONO. I drove through downtown Minneapolis yesterday, and it seems like every theater marquee, every restaurant window, and every storefront pays honor to our local icon -- and I'm not referring to Minneapolis-born James ARNESS!

To @Chuck McGregor from your yesterday comment. Is your relative in the Hall-of-(Alloy)-Fame? I will be happy to follow up with you further, off-Rex.

Steve M 9:36 AM  

A nod to the boomers.....

puzzle hoarder 9:49 AM  

Constructors seem to dislike five character partials. I've heard it from @JeffChen and now @Rex. That seems to have been a factor in his disdain for the NW corner. ARNESS wasn't a problem for me. I think of an older solver as a person in their mid 80s. ELS is one of those "ese" names a solver of any age should know.
I did find another real world instance for GUANOS. If you recall the James Edward Olmos movie where he plays a teacher trying to inspire his inner city students for some kind of academic competition, his motivational question was "Tienes guanos?"

Z 10:00 AM  

@beaglelover - According to Wikipedia its programs remain, but Reagen axed it in 1981.

@Sallie (FullTime-Life) - It is never the cultural center of any single puzzle that is the issue. As we have so rudely been reminded many times this year, there are only two types of people: the Dead and the not Dead yet.* It seems reasonable that, as an ongoing economic practice, something like the NYTX should cater more to the latter group than the first. At 55 this puzzle didn't cause me any real difficulties beyond reminding me that I'm approaching the inevitable joining of group one, as do roughly 19 of every 20 NYTX puzzles.

*Stolen from Bomani Jone's piece on Prince.

Ted C 10:02 AM  

Anon 5:40 was 100% right - the OEO was not an antipoverty agency, it was a PPA - Poverty Perpetuating Agency. Take Head Start as an example. Say there's a 3yo kid whose parents each work 50-60hrs/week trying (and failing) to make ends meet. What do you get when you send this kid to pre-K, give him breakfast and lunch in what is likely the only stress-free environment of his/her life? That's right, you get a taker. A kid who believes that food is free, that his parents are failures because working 25hrs a week at WalMart and 30hrs per week at McDonalds isn't enough, and working that hard and failing makes no sense. You think that kid's ever going to work for a living? The only thing he's ever going to do is attend Bernie Sanders rallies.

old timer 10:21 AM  

Of course it was easy for me, because I watched Gunsmoke and Woody Woodpecker cartoons. Still, I would expect your imaginary 30-year-old to get ABANG, LEROI, STEAMROLLER, ELS, BEATLE, ALLSET, NOTA and GIZMO. So this bright young person would have LA-TZ crossing AR-ESS. A little thought ought to supply the N.

I was slowed down by the SW corner. Had "mourning" before MOURNFUL, and FLUMMOX did not exactly leap to mind -- and, does an AXLE rotate? Seems to me front axles don't. Maybe none do. Someone more versed in car construction must know the answer.

I think what was inexcusable is SRIS and MAAMS, and what ought to be avoided is LMN and OBI (I'lll give ASHE a pass because there's a stadium named after him, thus he remains current to anyone who watches the Open.

Is there anyone who has *not* heard one version or another of "Accentuate the Positive"? YOOGE hit for Burl Ives when I was young, and of course the song dates back to before I was born.

GILL I. 10:25 AM  

Yes, @Rex pretty much said it for me.
I started to think that this puzzle has just about everything I dislike in a Monday. I've been doing them long enough so I *got* the LANTZ ARNESS TESS names. Yawn. A golf ball name? TOG up?, names and more names...Yawn again. SO many 3's and OEO is about the ugliest. NO WAIT, OZS is worse.

QuasiMojo 10:26 AM  

Kaboom! Steamrolled through this. No Wait. Never Mournful. Made it to the Bottom Row in Haste. Was never Flummoxed or felt Antsy. Honest! I feel like I'm In Orbit. But then an easy puzzle is in the Egg Dye of the Beholder.

Ben 10:36 AM  

I'm well under 40 and definitely got the f-off feeling from this puzzle: doing an alphabet run on a Monday between two obscure dead (probably) white people is a reminder of why my friends give me grief over this hobby.

@sallie while I'm happy to learn about "ancient" (read: irrelevant) cultural history every once in a while, I don't particularly like doing it at the expense of my solve time or self-respect, especially on a Monday.

Ronald Reagan 10:48 AM  

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation
"Since its establishment in 1965, the National Head Start Program has helped over eight million low-income pre-school children and their families. In so doing, it has earned recognition and support for its success in early childhood education and development.

Equally important, the health and nutrition aspects of the program have improved the prevention, detection, and treatment of children's medical, dental, and nutritional problems, thereby removing barriers to growth and learning."


Andrew Heinegg 10:55 AM  

Because I am 'older', I had no problem in getting finished with this puzzle nearly as fast as I could write on dead trees with pen. I never heard of Mr. In-between, Walter Lantz or egg dye, a non thing in my view. But, they were easily sussable from the crosses. OFL consistently complains about dated references in the puzzles. When it is something musical, I get it. But, when the reference is to something of a political nature such as OEO, do you have to have lived through it to know/have heard of it. I think not although the clue antipoverty agency is a bit spare shall I say. The real issue that I had with this puzzle was the overwhelming number of CW clich├ęd words.May I never be obied again. Thank you.

Carola 11:22 AM  

Very cute and nicely done theme (I knew the MR INBETWEEN song), but like Rex, I thought, "YeOEOw!" about the fil,l with the added "And on a Monday!" factor. The nice Downs saved the day.

Ted C 11:35 AM  

@Ronald R - See, that's your problem - you either were, or needed to pretend to be, a nice guy. This deprived you of the courage of your convictions. You didn't have to give lip-service to "oh, isn't it nice we made sure impoverished, sick, hungry kids had a brief respite from their woes when you knew all along you were ruining them in the process. It's like when you lowered taxes on the wealthy down from 70% - That was unequivocally the right thing to do. But no, you had to go one step further, trying to be a 'nice' guy - you eliminated all their preferential treatment on capital gains/dividends. Why not cut their taxes on ordinary income and let them keep their special tax rates on unearned income? Because that, somehow, seemed fair to the hoi polloi?

I tell you people, you'll see none of this from me.

Hartley70 11:48 AM  

@LudyJynn, you betcha! Perfect month to go.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

@beaglelover I was thinking of the Office of Equal Opportunity, an anti-discrimination unit. When you hire people, or get a complaint from an employee, you become quite familiar with the local version.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:58 PM  

Ex-GIs will tell yah, U don't mess with MRE, unless U absolutely have to.

Kinda like the MRINBETWEEN placement, in the middle.
Accentuatin the positive (yo,@indie009), we have:

* Only 74 words and partial phrases today. More fun long stuff.
* Woody Woodpecker vs. Matt Dillon. New superhero battle flick.
* 5 U's. Coulda been much worse.
* Starts off with ABANG. Then aKABOOM. Closes in HASTE.
* MMLI OEO SRIS LMN. Now that there is some solid desperate gibberish. Like.
* TWEEZE. FLUMMOX. EGGDYEYE. Crown jewelry of some great long fill.
* MINI. Cameo references to other puztypes. Primo. RUNT would also work, on another occasion. Just sayin.
* NOWAIT. Cute.

Thanx, Betty Keller. Come on back, and mess with Mr. IN Between, next time. Seems like the next logical series INstallment. Example: MO IN URNFUL. U could do better, tho ...


Kimberly 1:15 PM  

I'm often the odd one out. Perhaps it's being over 40, but I filled this quickly, almost solely from the acrosses. The few times I got stuck, a quick glance at the down clue would provide the missing letter. I didn't even notice the icky bits. To me it was more boring than sticky. I don't mind easy, but I yearn for clever. It's possible for a Monday to be both.

Bella 1:22 PM  

Yep, I blasted through most of the puzzle until I got back up to ARNESS/ELS/LANTZ and realized that I just had zero way of knowing how to complete this. I think before googling that I had actually confused Woody Woodpecker with the Roadrunner, and I was born solidly 16 years after Gunsmoke went off the air.

Teedmn 1:22 PM  

My NW problem was not with the LANTZ/ARNESS cross but with the N.B. To me N.B. Is New Brunswick so I considered NOvA there but with LAN_Z screaming for a T filling I guessed correctly and then had to Google to find out why it was right. My other writeover was from barely reading the clue for 13D and putting in NO fAIr briefly but 31A made me SPIT that one back out of the grid.

I thought the theme with its revealer was fine though all I could think of for 37A was "Jim" from the Jim Croce song as the person not to be messed with (and now I have an earworm telling me not to SPIT into the wind or TOG on Superman's cape or pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger, sigh. And that's a pretty old song too.)

Masked and Anonymous 1:29 PM  

yo, to:
* @Roo. Thanx for also thinkin of the runtz.
* @jae. Nanoseconds are indeed our most precious commodities.
* @jberg. Nice MRE plaint.

yoyo, to @muse. Just becuz.


Cassieopia 1:43 PM  

@oldbizmark: Yes! I too could not get past New Brunswick for N.B.! I keep coming back here hoping some solver will have pity on me and shed some light.

Chuck McGregor 1:49 PM  

I’m over 40 so this puzzle did not tell me to “f-off.” If you’re under 40 and have seen Woody Woodpecker cartoons, it would have been hard to have missed Walter LANTZ always splashed hugely across the screen. Google “Walter Lantz logo.” But DINA Merrill is OK for a Monday(?).

Editing nit-pick: AM/FM RADIOS normally come “in” cars. Bumpers, tires (aka tyres), and side-view mirrors come “on” cars.

A feature of my car is that it came with an AM/FM RADIO on it. However it’s odd they didn’t put it IN the car as it’s hard to reach on the hood. KABOOM!

Liked the puzzle and thought was it easy. NO WAIT! I’m over 40 so I’ll REMIND you to be LEERY of that rating (unless you are also over 40).

So now we have under/over 40 puzzles? Should the NYT provide one of each every day? Might help clear WS’s backlog. Just sayin’.

Places to do, things to go. SEE YA.


Mohair Sam 2:03 PM  

Lady Mohair did this one alone and had to call in the troops for a rescue in the NW. How could she not know Walter LANTZ and TESS? Sheeeze.

Agree with OFL all the way on this one. Surprised SARAH wasn't clued "Actress Bernhardt", and IBM "Upstart business equipment company".

Ernie ELS crashing and burning without his belly putter. I've spelled LEERY wrong forever (yup, with the A) - that's two words the puzzle has caught for me this month. Always thought "MR. INBETWEEN" was indeed the song title.

ludyjynn - Maybe you knew the Arness/Graves relationship - but did you know that Arness was The Thing in the horror movie "The Thing"?

Whenever someone mentions Margaret Farrar (as did @Z today) I think of the book "Brat Farrar" by Josephine Tey. Wondering if our detective fiction loving leader has stumbled upon her work.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

The song that came to mind for me was Taj Mahal singing Candy Man (by Rev. Gary Davis). "Little red light, little green light. Stop on the red, go on the green; don't you get caught by Mr. In-Between."

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

Can someone please tell me what the "B" in "NB" stands for?

Margaret 2:48 PM  

I enjoyed this -- though I never noticed the MR meetings in the theme clues. But I am well over 40, and found more of these answers coming easily than I do when the clues require familiarity with more contemporary culture. As one commentator said -- I do not know songs by Justin Beiber. But hey -- everyone got ESTREET, right? (And yes, the Boss has been doing well recently. Played to a sell out house here last week. And I would love to see a Prince themed puzzle

But I am writing because I saw two comments from people who did not know what OEO meant -- one went so far as to say it was not an antipoverty agency. But it is -- indeed, it was THE antipoverty agency back 50 years ago. The Office of Economic Opportunity, the corner stone of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, headed up, if memory serves, by Sargent Shriver. It funded local Community Action Agencies, which in turn funded local antipoverty programs. Only one program from the War on Poverty -- that is Head Start.

And now, would someone tell me why "one of the seven 'deadly' things" (33
d) is 'sin," rather than sloth, or greed, or "lechery"?

Ludyjynn 2:57 PM  

@Hartley, Let's play six degrees of separation. DINA Merrill's mom was Marjorie Merriweather Post, whose dad was CW Post, as in cereal and a college. Marjorie founded General Foods. Her home and gardens, Hillwood, in Washington, D.C is awesome, w/ a first-class Faberge collection. Open to the public; go! She was the original owner of Mar-a-Lago, her Palm Beach, FL estate. Guess who owns it today? You know the guy; it took Prince's untimely passing to knock him off the front page over the weekend. DINA's second of three husbands was the actor, Cliff Robertson. And what a stunning pair they made! She is c. 92 yrs old. IMHO, good for her to get a NYT puzz. shout out.

Lobster11 3:13 PM  

It seems to me that as long as you have Bobby ORR and Arthur ASHE in the same puzzle, you might as well toss in Mel OTT for the Trifecta.

Andrew Heinegg Reader 3:31 PM  

I'm betting you don't want to be HeinEGGDYEd again either.

Tom 3:39 PM  

Nota Bene, note well, or "pay attention"

Z 8:03 PM  

@Mohair Sam - At least once, although OFL didnt say much about Ms. Tey. Nothing came up on his Pop Sensation blog that I saw.

@Margaret - Since they are the "seven deadly sins," just one of them is a SIN.

@Lobster11 - Ol' Mel is the right age.

Nancy 10:04 PM  

@ludyjynn -- Once upon a time, I DID know that Peter Graves was James Arness's brother. But, unlike you, I don't STILL know it. At least not before you told me. Amazing that you remember that, but not nearly as amazing as all the things you know about DINA Merrill. Unlike the under 40's here, I got DINA immediately. I can even remember exactly what she looked like, if not necessarily what movies she was in. But to know WHO HER MOTHER WAS?! And WHO HER MOTHER'S FATHER WAS?! AND HOW THEY MADE THEIR FORTUNES?! AND WHERE THEY LIVED?! AND WHAT HOTEL THEY OWNED?! How do you know these things, Ludyjynn???? Simply amazing!

@Mohair -- "Brat Farrar" is a terrific Tey mystery. But I actually think that "Daughter of Time" is an even better one. Have you read it? If not, do!

htpsmnoptp 10:04 PM  

Amen, Rex!

Hartley70 10:33 PM  

@Ludy, you didn't play! I can get you to 3 degrees. Dina's first husband was Ted Hartley. My handle is...wait for it... HARTLEY, a long lost relation, obviously. You know me and that gets you and Dina to 3 degrees of separation. Kevin Bacon probably can't get closer!

Diana,LIW 10:54 PM  

I'm taking the deLorean out for a tiny spin here.

And am wondering if I should keep on posting. ??

The last few weeks, even though I've been solving for a couple of years, I seem to be a fool. I see "very, very, very easy" when I'm proud to struggle to a solve, or to an almost solve.

Am I crossworthy?

Most others seem to have a "notch above" on their solving techniques. Perhaps I should keep my comments to myself, and just watch.

AND - Where the heck are Cathy and Kathy? Did they feel the same? C and K - come back and let me know? And K - what about the tournament?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting fro Crossword answers, but lags behind, apparently

Burma Shave 8:36 AM  


when SARAH and DINA she’d seen.
EDY was DOUR and RILED ORR scornful,


@Diana, keep posting, yours are the most fun to read. Finish or not, it doesn't matter. Love your perspective.

rondo 9:35 AM  

Knew that OFL would slam the NW for skewing old. But you know what’s even older than anything complained about? The STEAMROLLER; those rollers haven’t been powered by steam for probably a century. But cluing it as Mannheim ____ would still probably not be “fresh” enough. Anyway, if I put up with the Beliebers and Yeezus and ragequit and all the Li’ls that aren’t Abner, the kids can put up with a history lesson, or start buying a paper paper instead of solving on a GIZMO. More unpleasant would be the four letter RRN and the letter run and a smattering of abbr.s.

Also skewing older are the yeah babies DINA and SARAH standing together down south, though once fabulous DINA (now 92) is old enough to have been SARAH’s (now 52, yes I checked today) grandmother. So we really have older generations covered with yeah babies. NOWAIT, I think I’d like that, being covered with yeah babies, that is. Takers?

@D,LIW – I live for your posts. (No offense @spacey, @rainy, @lefties, @torb, @C&K athy, @waxy, @BS and anyone I may have forgot, love you too, even the@anons) I very often have similar thoughts about certain answers, etc. And I like the anecdotal stuff when you toss ITIN. I would be MOURNFUL should you stop. No SPIT! SEEYA in a coupla weeks.

No, it didn’t take any PALMREADING or other voodoo to get this done quickly. But I did create an inkblot by ENTERing APR in HASTE across instead of down. I’m @work, but happy Memorial Day to all the other syndies. (I did put a flag on my dad’s grave yesterday and trimmed around the stone. BTW, he loved Gunsmoke. Please remember someone today in your own way.)

rondo 9:50 AM  

BTW - N.B. is North Bound to me, being in the transportation game. But that didn't fit, NOTA bit.

spacecraft 11:22 AM  

Well now guys, let's see if we can't do as that depression-era song suggests, and Ack. Sent. Shoe-eight the positive a little bit. I'm assuming this is a debut, but am inclined to go soft on anyone named Betty after my wonderful step-mom. She tries to start us out with ABANG, continuing the *demolition* with KABOOM. Anyone who has ever seen a Woody Woodpecker strip has seen the character mounted in the intro panel--and carrying a: lance, get it? As for ARNESS, he should be familiar to classic sci-fi buffs as the title character in "The Thing (from another world)." BTW, remakes of that classic are horrible.

I will not dwell on the fill, thus Eee. Lim. Eye-nating the negative. The revealer clue did throw me for a sec, as there were far too many squares for ("Don't mess with) BILL." Ah, Martha, where are you now, and where all your Vandelas? For the DOD, I'll quote Matt Damon--as I have done twice already--Danny Ocean's TESS, "The best part of my day." You go, Julia!

In lieu of marking up the scorecard today, I'm inclined to give Ms. Keller a Mulligan. I must be channeling GHW Bush today, with my kinder, gentler approach. SEEYA.

BS2 11:42 AM  

I should sometimes take more time.
This rolls a little better:

because of SARAH and DINA when she’d seen 'em.
EDY was DOUR and RILED and/ORR scornful,

Diana,LIW 3:10 PM  

See? See? See? Note well - I live in Opposite Land.

I solved this (completely, cleanly, quickly) by jumping all around, doing the edges and then skipping about. Picture a puzzle fourth-grader on Easter morning, picking up her treasured dyed eggs with glee. Only two or three times did I need to check a cross answer.

(My mom, BTW, used to cut out little rabbit footprints that would lead to Easter baskets, eggs, and other prizes. The woman was Martha Stewart with a heart as big as Pennsylvania. Christmas cookie making was like living in Charlie's Chocolate Factory.)

So, when I say EZ, I get "hey, you're older than dirt!" Feeling a bit like DINA Merrill about now.

And yes, you don't mess around with Jim. JIIIIIMMMEE?? Too much of a stretch.

What's between K and O really had me going for a while. What. Could. It. Be? Fortunately, the downs helped a lot with that.

And might I point out, on that note, that the alphabet is old. Very, very, very old. I even remember an old song about it. How did it go?

Thanks BS and Rondo. I shall remain, if only for comic relief. And for a different view on puzzle timing. Now, back to my homework. Just finished a book of Wednesdays. Thursdays still scare me - fear of rebus.

Now, everybody, laugh like Woody Woodpecker.

Diana, Oldie but Goodie

rain forest 4:00 PM  

Monday. Time to either brag about how fast one went through the puzzle, or complain at length about how it skewed old or had some iffy fill. It's the weekly rite of the commentariat. I say to both groups "don't bother doing the damn thing unless it somehow makes your day to brag or complain".

This wasn't awful. It had several competent entries and whole areas:

The revealer smack in the middle. MR evident in the themers. OEO, which is how my son pronounced Oreo as a tot. Also E STREET. Back in 1974, I think, I bought an LP with the tell-tale hole in the upper corner. It was The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle. That immediately became my favourite album. I've always said it was I who discovered The Boss.

As regular readers of this spot know, I don't go on and on about RRNs or three-letter alphabet runs, or partials (I like partials) because there are too many others already doing that. I just solve, as I did this one. I had fun. FUN, I tell you!

@Lady Di. Please don't go. Like every other syndi, you offer a unique perspective which enhances this blog. And you have a Delorean (really?), so you can explore the future and the past. That's worth something.

Anonymous 7:10 PM  

If this puzzle "skews old" then I guess that says something about me, 'cause I thought it was the absolutely easiest NYT puzzle ever, even for a Monday. Went back when I was done to see what the theme was, 'cause I sure didn't need it to fill in the grid.

Diana,LIW 8:40 PM  

Oh yes, I forgot to mention. There is a clothing retailer (and catalog) called the Tog Shop. It caters, of course, to women who are...wait for it...older

Tog on

Lady Di, Dressed for Puzzle Success

rondo 9:32 PM  

I did. Laugh. Like Woody W. How many hundreds of times have I heard that? One of few animated videos I own, as well. The first apearance, before Woddy was the star. But then, isn't a Woody always a star? Allen, Harrelson, etc. (har)

Diana,LIW 11:16 PM  

'K Rondo, Splain that 2 me :-)


rain forest 11:53 PM  

It's not fair.

@Lady Di - I too posted an entreaty to you to stay on the blog. It has disappeared, but the sentiment remains, and it has nothing to do with "comic relief", silly.

Why my comment wasn't published, I have no idea. I didn't say anything obscene or nasty toward @Rex, although Lord knows I could have.

Anyway I had fun with this puzzle, and am not ashamed to say so.

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