SUNDAY, May 31, 2009 — Edward Sessa

Theme: "Double Plays" — Theme answers are phrases created by combining the titles of two Broadway shows. At least I think that's the theme. I haven't heard of some of these shows, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Except to underscore my ignorance of Broadway.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Munchkin femmes fatales? (WICKED LITTLE WOMEN). Read the books, but haven't seen the plays.
  • 36A: Workplace braggart? (COMPANY SHOWBOAT). Heard of "Showboat."
  • 55A: Inferior pomade? (HAIR GREASE). Now, "Hair"! That one I can get into. But "Grease" is a movie to me. One I saw nine times in the theater when it first came out. You'd think I had no parental supervision.
  • 76A: Like sturdy chairs? (FANNY PROOF). Haven't heard of either of these.
  • 95A: Standing ovation? (TITANIC APPLAUSE). Okay.
  • 111A: Queen Henrietta's personal account of Cromwell's treachery? (OLIVER THE KING AND I). Ooh! Know both of these!
  • 16D: Jazz lovers on the Mississippi? (BIG RIVER CATS). "Cats," yes.
  • 61D: Detective usin' taps? (DANCIN' SLEUTH). Um ... let me think ... nope.
Crosswordese 101: ESSEN is a popular place in CrossWorld and you can see why. Two E's, two S's, and an N—why, that's crossword gold! Today ESSEN is clued as 57D: City on the Ruhr, which is a super common way of cluing it. Also, if the clue makes you think it's looking for a city and there's anything German-sounding included (Dortmund, Krupp Works, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf—anything like that) and it's five letters, chances are you're looking at ESSEN.

There are a ton of what I think of as "bonus" answers in today's puzzle. That is, non-theme answers that are related to the theme:
  • 66A: At the theater, perhaps (ON A DATE). Could just as easily have been clued as "At the movies" or "Out to dinner," so I'm calling this one intentional.
  • 118A: Milk a scene (EMOTE).
  • 1D: Curtain call response (BOW).
  • 8D: Ticket sellers: Abbr. (AGTS).
  • 18D: Tony-winning Manhattan restaurateur (SARDI).
  • 25D: Lerner's partner (LOEWE). Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. I would say they're best known for their work in "My Fair Lady."
  • 35D: Arrive en masse (STREAM IN). This is a stretch, I know, but when I think of the phrase STREAM IN, I actually do picture a crowd streaming back into a theater after intermission.
  • 40D: One-__: uninterrupted play (ACTER). This one's a little ouchie for me. Any theater people out there who can attest to its common use?
  • 115D: Gershwin of Broadway (IRA).

Stuff I Did Not Know:
  • 16A: __-Rhin: Strasbourg's department (BAS).
  • 19A: Algerian seaport (ORAN). I'm sure I've seen this before in puzzles, but I sure couldn't recall it.
  • 28A: "The Virginian" author Wister (OWEN).
  • 35A: Dish sometimes served with wasabi (SASHIMI). Not a fan of any kind of seafood.
  • 43A: Pulitzer poet Marianne (MOORE). She won the Pulitzer for her 1951 Collected Poems. And she threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium in 1968. Cool.
  • 6D: Ghostwriters' noms de plume, say (ALLONYMS). Never heard of this awesome word.
  • 14D: Tuscan hill town (SIENA).
  • 17D: Relevant, in law (AD REM). Not previously in my store of Latin phrases. But I did get [60D: Ab INITIO: from the beginning].
  • 91D: Largest of the British Virgin Islands (TORTOLA). With many of the crosses in place, I entered tortuga, which is Spanish for tortoise. I even thought that was the name of the the terrapin statute on the University of Maryland campus, but that's Testudo.
  • 5A: Fundamental (BASAL). Raise your hand if you had basic at first.
  • 26A: Boxer's warning (GRR). I know you were all thinking of "boxer" as a dog after yesterday's discussion!
  • 41A: Last Hebrew letter (TAV). And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where I 'splain to you how much reading crossword blogs will improve your solving skills. The only reason I knew TAV is because it was in another puzzle recently. I still might not have gotten it though, because it was clued differently. But someone mentioned in the comments that it was the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And I remembered it. And the moral of the story is: Read your crossword blogs! And don't forget the comments!
  • 42A: No longer an item (APART). I had split at first.
  • 49A: Rewards for playing well (ESPYS). These are sports awards presented annually by ESPN.
  • 69A: 20-20 observation? (IT'S A TIE). This doesn't have to do with eyesight. It's an observation someone would make if the score was 20–20.
  • 86A: Dots on la carte (ILES). I kept think la carte meant menu, but it's French for map. And islands appear as dots on a map? Not sure I'm buying it.
  • 92A: "Nature's soft nurse," to Shakespeare (SLEEP). Ain't that the truth. But then there's that pesky ALARM (63A: Frequent morning surprise).
  • 93A: Conductor's aid (SCORE). I had baton at first.
  • 110A: VW predecessors? (STU). S, T, and U are the letters that precede V and W in the alphabet.
  • 119A: Row in a bowl (TIER). In this case, bowl means "4b. a bowl-shaped structure; especially: an athletic stadium." (Merriam-Webster Online)
  • 3D: 1978 Village People hit ("MACHO MAN"). Me: "Okay, there was 'YMCA,' ... then there was 'In the Navy,' ... and there was one more. What the heck was it?"
  • 7D: Like a big loser? (SLIM). As in someone losing a lot of weight.
  • 13D: Angus's topper (TAM). Angus is a county in Scotland. And in Scotland, they wear a type of hat called a tam.
  • 15D: Che, really (ERNESTO). I did not know that Che Guevara's real name was Ernesto.
  • 39D: Georgetown player (HOYA).
  • 74D: Wouldn't hurt __ (A FLEA). I always thought it was "wouldn't hurt a fly." Maybe it can be either? Flea gets about 5,000 Google hits and fly gets 61,000.
  • 93D: Subject for Eric Partridge (SLANG). He wrote many books about the English language, and several specifically about slang.
  • 99D: Elbows, maybe (PASTA). Like elbow macaroni.
Everything Else — 1A: The Tide (BAMA); 10A: Fly to fear (TSE-TSE); 20A: "Ooh, send me!" (I'LL GO); 21A: Blowhard's output (HOT AIR); 22A: Peak overlooking Knossos (IDA); 27A: Baker Street transports (HANSOMS); 29A: Closed the gap on (NEARED); 31A: HBO alternative (SHO); 33A: Slip into (DON); 34A: Off! ingredient (DEET); 44A: Crosby and Como (CROONERS); 48A: Prong (TINE); 50A: Repeatedly (OFTEN); 52A: Little bit (DROP); 53A: Des Moines hrs. (CST); 58A: __ anglais: English horn (COR); 59A: Cocktails with triple sec (SIDECARS); 64A: Slithering (SNAKY); 67A: Diamond surface (FACET); 71A: Gold digger (MINER); 72A: Country singer Haggard (MERLE); 74A: Busch partner (ANHEUSER); 75A: "Yadda yadda yadda": Abbr. (ETC.); 80A: Grasshopper's antithesis, in a fable (ANT); 81A: Reformer Jacob (RIIS); 83A: Drones, e.g. (MALES); 84A: Result of an egg-toss miss (SPLAT); 90A: Clementi work (SONATINA); 94A: __-pitch softball (SLO); 99A: Little Dipper star (POLARIS); 102A: Charles II's royal architect (WREN); 103A: Golden age, e.g. (ERA); 104A: H.S. dropout's goal (GED); 105A: '40s-'50s Marshall Islands trials (A-TESTS); 106A: Pricey (DEAR); 107A: Domed hall (ROTUNDA); 116A: Peewee (TOT); 117A: Hoity-toity (LA-DI-DA); 120A: Lenten symbol (ASH); 121A: Be a big brother to (ASSIST); 122A: Rib shots (POKES); 123A: On the main (ASEA); 2D: D-backs, on scoreboards (ARI); 4D: "My Way" songwriter (ANKA); 5D: Competes to buy (BIDS ON); 9D: Film studio site (LOT); 10D: Home shopping network? (THE WEB); 11D: Site of a 1976 anti-apartheid uprising (SOWETO); 12D: School since 1440 (ETON); 24D: Finish by (END AT); 30D: "Can you give me __?" (A HAND); 31D: Satchmo's singing style (SCAT); 32D: Southwestern pottery maker (HOPI); 34D: Back: Pref. (DORSI); 37D: Go ahead of (PRECEDE); 38D: Former frosh (SOPHS); 45D: Switch positions (ONS); 46D: Raw recruit (ROOKIE); 47D: Lighter on one's feet (SPRYER); 49D: "L'__, c'est moi": Louis XIV (ÉTAT); 50D: Eye blatantly (OGLE); 51D: Pledging site (FRAT); 54D: Accessory for an old-time flying ace (SCARF); 56D: Track contestant (RACER); 59D: Suzanne of "Step By Step" (SOMERS); 62D: Money-saving carpeting choices (REMNANTS); 65D: Big name in beachwear (NAUTICA); 67D: Actress Soleil Moon __ (FRYE); 68D: Yodeler's range (ALPS); 70D: At __: nevertheless (THAT); 73D: Zhou of China (ENLAI); 77D: Bordeaux buddy (AMI); 78D: "Hold Me" Grammy winner (OSLIN); 79D: Cartel acronym (OPEC); 82D: Casa areas (SALAS); 85D: Desire (APPETITE); 87D: Four-time Olympic diving gold medalist (LOUGANIS); 88D: Gaelic tongue (ERSE); 89D: Tourney ranking (SEED); 92D: Häaut;gar's dog (SNERT); 96D: Suit fabrics (TWEEDS); 97D: Landfall for Noah (ARARAT); 98D: Lops and tops (PRUNES); 100D: Four Holy Roman emperors (OTTOS); 101D: __ Malvinas: the Falklands (ISLAS); 106D: Half of MXIV (DVII); 107D: San __, Italy (REMO); 108D: "All right, already!" (OK OK); 109D: Base material? (DATA); 112D: Security guard requests, briefly (IDS); 113D: In the know (HEP); 114D: Mark to improve (DEE).


SATURDAY, May 30—Robert H. Wolfe

The Saturday puzzle is themeless—the game is decoding tougher clues and figuring out a slew of longer words and phrases.

They're not theme answers, but the three 15-letter answers are all things someone might say in colloquial English:
  • 17A: "Maybe I can help?" is what someone might be getting at if they asked "WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?"
  • 37A: "Now we're getting somewhere" clues "THAT'S MORE LIKE IT."
  • 56A: One Statement of intolerance is "I WON'T STAND FOR IT."

Crosswordese 101: Doesn't ORT sound like the bastard child of baseball's Mel OTT (47D: Six-time N.L. home run champ) and hockey legend Bobby ORR? It's not. It's an archaic word that's been around since the days of Middle English and it means a food scrap. Here, it's clued as 33D: Boxer's scrap, meaning a scrap for a dog such as a boxer. You know why I'm so messed up? It's from an early diet of crosswords during my formative years. I even used the word orts in a high school term paper about medieval dining customs, and I thought the teacher was an idiot for marking the word "?" But how many people who (a) don't do crosswords and (b) aren't medievalists know what ORT means? Maybe not so many. But it remains my favorite bit of old-school crosswordese.

Which clues and answers did I like most? These ones:
  • 23A: Cat's pajamas? (FUR). Ha! Good one. I was expecting a synonym for "great" along the lines of "the cat's pajamas," but it's both more playful and more literal than that.
  • 26A: Reckon, rurally (S'POSE). I think S'POSE is more of a slangy thing than a "rural" thing these days.
  • I do like PSHAW— 41A: "Bah!"
  • 43A: Caesar's tax form? (MXL). This one feels like a massive violation of Roman numeral cluing convention, as the ancient Romans assuredly did not have the U.S. Internal Revenue Service nor its 1040 form (MXL is 1,040 in Roman numerals). But it's just crazy enough that I like it. And it's way better than what Rex calls "YOTP" clues—year of the pope.
  • 61A: Commonly receding boundary (HAIRLINE). Was your first thought of the polar ice cap?
  • 29D: Elegantly done (SOIGNÉ). What could be more soigné than bandying this word about naturally?
  • 51D: "Closer" Oscar nominee Clive __ (OWEN). Have you ever seen HBO's Ricky Gervais series, Extras? Here's a scene with Clive Owen playing "Clive Owen":

  • 55D: Do to pick is an AFRO, a pick being an uplifting comb for an afro.

    I was less fond of these:
    • 20A: Common opening (DEAR SIRS). All right, who's still addressing letters this way? I suppose one might be writing to the College of Cardinals or the players for the Chicago Cubs but really, how many letters are being sent somewhere where there are only "sirs"?
    • 4D: Major followers? (-ETTES). Nobody likes a plural of a suffix.

    • Burrowing rabbitlike mammal (PIKA). It's certainly not the most familiar of Western U.S. mammals, but:: so cute! I just learned something from the Wikipedia article on pikas: Like rabbits, after eating they initially produce soft green feces, which they eat again to extract further nutrition, before producing the final, solid, fecal pellets. "Uh, you gonna eat that?"

    Everything Else — 1A: Begins energetically (WADES IN); 8A: Went up (SCALED); 14A: "Be right there!" ("WAIT A SEC!"); 16A: Boom (THRIVE); 19A: Philippine bread (PESO); 21A: French possessive (SES); 22A: Add more brown to, say (REDYE); 24A: Where the 'eart is? ('OME); 31A: Removed, in a way (SCRAPED OFF); 36A: Jobs for underwriters, briefly (IPOS); 39A: Farm drier (OAST); 40A: Soft drink order (EXTRA-LARGE); 44A: Solution: Abbr. (ANS.); 45A: Levi's "Christ Stopped at __" (EBOLI); 49A: Suffix with amyl (-ASE); 50A: Try to get in the running (NOMINATE); 54A: "Thanks, __": "Are you hungry?" response (I ATE); 60A: Decide is best (SEE FIT); 62A: Chant (INTONE); 63A: Words from one closing a door, perhaps (TOO LATE); 1D: Internet abbr. (WWW); 2D: "That's the spot!" ("AAH!"); 3D: More frequent changes reduce its likelihood (DIAPER RASH); 5D: Lip (SASS); 6D: Comparison words (IS TO); 7D: Book before Esth. (NEH.); 8D: Prospective adoptee (STRAY); 9D: Tasks (CHORES); 10D: Wall St. hedgers (ARBS); 11D: 1953 Caron film (LILI); 12D: Of all time (EVER); 13D: Party people: Abbr. (DEMS); 15D: Give up (CEDE); 18D: Walker, briefly (PED); 21D: For example (SUCH AS); 22D: Electron transfer process, often (REDOX); 23D: Photo setting (F-STOP); 24D: Photo finishes? (OPS); 25D: Kid's enthusiastic "I do!" ("ME! ME!"); 28D: Style of Mozart's "Idomeneo" (OPERASERIA); 30D: Colorado's __ Park (ESTES); 32D: Kofi __ Annan (ATTA); 34D: Atom-splitting Nobelist (FERMI); 35D: Linen source (FLAX); 38D: Bugged? (ILL); 42D: Entered (WENT IN); 46D: Moisten (BASTE); 48D: Wife of Jacob (LEAH); 49D: Lagoon border (ATOLL); 50D: Not final, in law (NISI); 52D: Bubbly brand (MOET); 53D: Dope (INFO); 54D: Personal: Pref. (IDIO-); 57D: Washington MLBer (NAT); 58D: Money pd. for use of money (INT.); 59D: Athletic supporter? (TEE).
  • 5.29.2009

    FRIDAY, May 29, 2009 - Dan Naddor

    THEME: "From I TO (20A: First woman to land a triple axel in competition) U" - "I" is changed to "U" in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style

    Sometimes you don't have to have a complicated theme. Sometimes change-a-letter works just fine. And today's puzzle was that - just fine. The difficulty level appears to be staying low in these late-week puzzles. Or, I should say, comparatively low (takes me 2 to 3 times longer to do a NYT late-week puzzle, for instance). There were lots of gimmes lurking around the grid, just waiting to give you the toe-hold you need to climb this thing. The first thing I PUT in the grid was "I PUT" (2D: "_____ a Spell on You": 1957 Screamin' Jay Hawkins song) - I know that song from Nina Simone's version, which is great in its own right.

    "I PUT" gave me ITO, but I still had to wrestle with the NW a bit, in part because SOG (4D: Soak, in British dialect) just wasn't on my radar. Once I turned MIASMA (?) to FIASCO (1A: Debacle), then the ball got rolling and never really stopped thereafter.

    Theme answers:

    • 17A: Flared garb for Tarzan? (JUNGLE BELLS)
    • 24A: Manage to provide morning refreshment? (MUSTER COFFEE) - I will do this soon...
    • 37A: Scarf makers? (BOA CONSTRUCTORS)
    • 46A: Wrinkle on a dessert topper? (CHERRY PUCKER) - this one grosses me out for reasons I can't / won't even go into
    • 57A: Wolves full of themselves? (BLUSTER PACK)

    Crosswordese 101 - a Cluing Special: "flower" - there were many candidates for Crosswordese 101 word of the day today (OPAH, SOIE, OPART, ORC, AWN, and YMA are all notable repeaters), but the clue for ARNO has a bit of old school trickery in it that I thought worthy of mention. Specifically - the use of "flower" to mean "that which flows," i.e. a river. This trick of using a word that looks like one thing but means another (you can do it with TOWER, LOWER, etc. . . . NYT once had an entire puzzle theme based on this kind of misdirection), and the "flower" trick in particular, is old as the hills and yet still remarkably effective, especially at tripping up novice solvers. You're just lucky you got the "?" in the clue today, to let you know something tricky was going on. There's no reason Rich should have given that to you, as [Florentine flower] is actually pretty damned literal. The ARNO flows through Florence.

    My favorite part of this puzzle, by far, was the NE - the tower created by "MY LEFT FOOT" (11D: 1989 Daniel Day-Lewis film) and IMPRESARIOS (12D: One putting on a show) is really majestic. I learned the word IMPRESARIO from a Paul McCartney song of the 1980s: "Take It Away"

    I knew OPAH was a fish (and a candidate for Crosswordese 101 in its own right), but I had no idea it was a 7A: Fish used in sashimi, so I flailed a tiny bit up there in the N. But otherwise, I solved without much struggle.

    Stuff I knew instantly - always start with what you know and build off of it for as long as you can:

    • YMA (16A: Sumac from South America)
    • FAY (35A: Actress Wray)
    • BATOR (45A: Ulan _____)
    • LAYLA (51A: Clapton hit that won the 1992 Best Rock Song Grammy) - a far inferior version compared with the original from many years earlier
    • "I PUT"
    • ABBA (26D: "Dancing Queen" group)
    • ARE (34D: "You _____ here")
    • ACNE (54D: Teen breakout?)
    • ERL (44D: Goethe's "The _____ -King")
    • IF A (23D: "_____ tree falls")

    That's a lot of stuff to have just handed to you on a Friday. Lots to build off of. And I'm not even including the answers I had that I was *almost* certain of (e.g. MIT, LPS, etc.) but wrote in only after crosses confirmed them. I'd love to hear where difficulty lay for everyone. A tough cross? A completely blank patch? Let me know.

    See you Monday (or, possibly, later today, in Comments section),


    Everything Else — 1A: Debacle (FIASCO); 7A: Fish used in sashimi (OPAH); 11A: "Good Will Hunting" setting, briefly (MIT); 14A: Racket (UPROAR); 15A: Denpasar is its capital (BALI); 16A: Sumac from South America (YMA); 17A: Flared garb for Tarzan? (JUNGLE BELLS); 19A: Old platters (LPS); 20A: First woman to land a triple axel in competition (ITO); 21A: Crumb (LOUSE); 22A: Levels (TIERS); 24A: Manage to provide morning refreshment? (MUSTER COFFEE); 26A: Orbital point (APSIS); 29A: Keisters (PRATS); 30A: Alphabetical orders? (BLTS); 31A: Mogadishu native (SOMALI); 35A: Actress Wray (FAY); 37A: Scarf makers? (BOA CONSTRUCTORS); 40A: Wheat beard (AWN); 41A: Short stops (PAUSES); 42A: Silk, in St.-…tienne (SOIE); 43A: Finely contoured (SLEEK); 45A: Ulan __ (BATOR); 46A: Wrinkle on a dessert topper? (CHERRY PUCKER); 51A: Clapton hit that won the 1992 Best Rock Song Grammy (LAYLA); 52A: Off-the-wall piece on the wall? (OP ART); 53A: Humanities degs. (BAS); 56A: Tolkien creature (ORC); 57A: Wolves full of themselves? (BLUSTER PACK); 60A: Modern, in Mannheim (NEU); 61A: Tales and such (LORE); 62A: Yacht spot (MARINA); 63A: Sixth of five? (ESP); 64A: Odessa-to-Waco direction (EAST); 65A: Lacing aid (EYELET); 1D: Big film maker (FUJI); 2D: "__ a Spell on You": 1957 Screamin' Jay Hawkins song (I PUT); 3D: Florentine flower? (ARNO); 4D: Soak, in British dialect (SOG); 5D: "We want to hear from you" (CALLUS); 6D: Ingredients in a McFlurry, perhaps (OREOS); 7D: Very heavy (OBESE); 8D: Not so bright (PALER); 9D: Every (ALL); 10D: Memorable (HISTORIC); 11D: 1989 Daniel Day-Lewis film (MY LEFT FOOT); 12D: One putting on a show (IMPRESARIO); 13D: Café cup (TASSE); 18D: "Despite what I just said ..." (BUT); 23D: "__ tree falls ..." (IF A); 24D: Odds and ends: Abbr. (MISC.); 25D: Not quite a B (C-PLUS); 26D: "Dancing Queen" group (ABBA); 27D: Cutting-edge farm parts (PLOWSHARES); 28D: It's hoisted on ice annually (STANLEY CUP); 31D: Serpentine (SNAKY); 32D: Home of the NCAA's Buckeyes (OSU); 33D: Whitney et al.: Abbr. (MTS); 34D: "You __ here" (ARE); 36D: River to the North Sea (YSER); 38D: In working order (OPERABLE); 39D: 1917 abdicator (TSAR); 44D: Goethe's "The __-King" (ERL); 45D: Sell out (BETRAY); 46D: Knockoff (CLONE); 47D: Falls heavily (POURS); 48D: Discomfit (UPSET); 49D: Ailurophobe's dread (CAT); 50D: Last word in doughnuts (KREME); 53D: Rescue, with "out" (BAIL); 54D: Teen breakout? (ACNE); 55D: Game with no card lower than seven (SKAT); 58D: Mauna __ (LOA); 59D: Ante- (PRE-).


    THURSDAY, May 28, 2009 — Tom Heilman

    Theme: "Do As I Say ..." — Theme answers are phrases that begin with the words to a common accusation aimed at a hypocrite.

    Theme answers:
    • 17A: *Hack's output (POTBOILER).
    • 21A: *Canceling (CALLING OFF).
    • 26A: *Idealized family (THE JONESES).
    • 48A: *Pitched percussion instrument (KETTLE DRUM).
    • 56A: *Sorcery (BLACK MAGIC). Raise your hand if your first thought was "dark arts."
    • 62A: Insincere type suggested by the starts of the answers to starred clues (HYPOCRITE).
    Crosswordese 101: A TO
    , as in "from A to Z." The first time I saw this in a puzzle I was completely baffled. Me: "Atoz? What the heck is atoz?" But now you've seen it — you've successfully negotiated this rite of passage and you never have to be baffled again.

    This was a Hot Hot puzzle for me today. I really liked it. Even before I caught onto the theme, I thought THE JONESES was an awesome entry I've never seen before. Throw in MOOLAH (2D: Dough), POTSIE (3D: "Happy Days" friend of Richie and Ralph), and CHICANO (5D: Mexican-American), and you've got yourself a sparkly crossword puzzle! BANJOS?? RANSACKS?? Stop! You're killing me with the great words already! And OMG. Tie it all together with "Pot calling the kettle black." Who doesn't love that phrase? Love it! The whole puzzle — just love it!

    The only trouble spot for me was 1D: "Spanish Flea" trumpeter, Herb ALPERT. I was so sure it was Al Hirt. You can see where that would cause some confusion. I knew the lion was ELSA and not Ilsa, and even though I didn't really know POTBOILER, it sounded a lot better than hotboiler. So it slowed me down, but didn't defeat me.

    • 1A: Item of concern in a sound check (AMP). Wanted this to be sibilance, even though that's not exactly an item.
    • 8A: Part of a diploma accolade (MAGNA). Could have been summa — had to check the crosses.
    • 39A: Groan inducer (PUN). Ain't that the truth?
    • 42A: Org. concerned with climate change (EPA). The Environmental Protection Agency. We talked about CrossWorld's important government agencies in a previous Crosswordese 101 lesson.
    • 66A: Fascist leader? (NEO-). The question mark indicates there's something tricky about this clue. In this case, we're looking for a prefix that can go before (i.e., lead) the word fascist.
    • 15D: Schubert's "The __ King" (ERL). A poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, used by Franz Schubert as text in a composition for voice and piano. Remember it — you'll see it again!
    • 39D: Season opener? (PRE-). Again, looking for a prefix (i.e., opener) for the word season.
    • 41D: Loving refusal (NO, DEAR). In the PuzzleHouse this is more of a sarcastic refusal.
    • 44D: Actor Tamiroff (AKIM). He was in the original "Ocean's Eleven."
    • 49D: Shooter's aid (TRIPOD). In this case, we're talking about a camera. In 54D: Shooter's sport (SKEET), we're talking about a gun.
    • 59D: Pita sandwich (GYRO). I once had an argument with a friend about how to pronounce this word. When I said "gee-ro," she actually sort of scoffed and corrected me by saying "ji-ro." I reminded her that the only place she'd ever lived was Iowa. Not that there's anything wrong with that! You all know I love Iowa and would move back there in a minute if I could. I'm just saying there's relatively little opportunity there to be exposed to much ... diversity.
    • 63D: These, in Troyes (CES). Speaking of diversity: French!
    Everything Else — 4A: Height: Pref. (ACRO); 13A: John, to Ringo (LOO); 14A: "So __!" (THERE); 16A: Soothing balms (ALOES); 19A: TNT component? (NITRO); 20A: Film feline (ELSA); 23A: Umbrella alternative (RAIN HAT); 25A: Summer blowers (FANS); 29A: Baseball feature (SEAM); 32A: Lennon's love (ONO); 33A: Hammer, for one (TOOL); 35A: Slip up (ERR); 36A: Analyze in English class (PARSE); 40A: Where alpaca roam (ANDES); 43A: "Dang!" (DARN); 45A: U.S. document issuer (GPO); 46A: Fellow (GENT); 53A: Enthusiastic okay, in Seville (Sí Sí); 55A: The first requirement (RULE ONE); 60A: Arguing (AT IT); 61A: "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding" author (LOCKE); 64A: Sprain site (ANKLE); 65A: Cropped up (AROSE); 67A: Surrounded (BESET); 68A: Lyrical tributes (ODES); 69A: Syr. neighbor (ISR.); 6D: Empathize (RELATE); 7D: Sports commentator Hershiser (OREL); 8D: Heavenly fare (MANNA); 9D: Associates (with) (ALIGNS); 10D: Deteriorate (GO TO SEED); 11D: Ball used for dorm hoops (NERF); 12D: Beginning (AS OF); 18D: Instruments for Earl Scruggs (BANJOS); 22D: "Granting that ..." (IF SO); 24D: Perfected (HONED); 27D: Slow the growth of (STUNT); 28D: Very long interval (EON); 30D: Live and breathe (ARE); 31D: Woolf's "__ Dalloway" (MRS.); 34D: Collar extension (LAPEL); 36D: Tent anchor (PEG); 37D: Thug (APE); 38D: Searches thoroughly (RANSACKS); 45D: Important energy source for the brain (GLUCOSE); 47D: Amuse (TICKLE); 50D: Spiral pasta (ROTINI); 51D: Merges (UNITES); 52D: Earth threat in some sci-fi films (METEOR); 56D: Tell (BLAB); 57D: Solitary (LONE); 58D: Detective's cry (AHA!).


    WEDNESDAY, May 27, 2009—Doug Peterson

    THEME: "Man, Am I Tired"—Four unrelated phrases begin with slangy synonyms for "tired"

    Wow, was it hard to figure out the theme in this puzzle. I finished filling in the grid in a Monday/Tuesday amount of time, and then had to spend a few minutes reading the theme entries aloud to my husband before it dawned on me that BEAT, SLEEPY, WHIPPED, and DEAD can all mean "tired."

    Theme answers:
    • 20A: Journalists with specialties are BEAT REPORTERS.
    • 33A: Washington Irving title setting is SLEEPY HOLLOW. That's the story with Ichabod Crane, the Headless Horseman, and Ichabod's rival Brom Bones.
    • 41A: Dessert topping is WHIPPED CREAM.
    • 57A: DEAD MAN'S CURVE is the Title place you "won't come back from," in a 1964 Jan & Dean hit.

    Crosswordese 101: 54D: SABOT is a Dutch shoe. Now, SABOT is a French word, and as the Wikipedia article relates, "the word sabotage derived from sabot, reportedly describing how disgruntled workers damaged workplace machines in France by tossing their shoes into the mechanisms." (Lexicographer Charles Hodgson says that's mere folk etymology, though.) SABOT also gets applied to clogs in general and to Dutch wooden shoes. This word doesn't show up all that often in crosswords, no, but how often do you encounter it anywhere else? Me, I don't run into it. Its appearance here in a Wednesday puzzle tells you that you need to know it, because it will be back.

    An olio of answers and clues:
    • 5A: Golden Arches pork sandwich (MCRIB). Bleah.
    • Large Body of Water Day begins with 23A: Sweden's neighbor across the Baltic Sea is LATVIA. Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are the three Baltic countries. 55A: Sea surrounding Lemnos is the AEGEAN. Can't say I've ever heard of Lemnos, but it sounds Greek and the AEGEAN Sea surrounds Greece. 34D: Ore.'s ocean is the PAC., or Pacific Ocean.
    • 66A: Bath residue is the yucky RING. My son likes to play with Star Wars figurines and spaceships in the bath—because space is very much like a warm bubble bath.
    • I don't know about you, but PETER Nero, the 68A: Nero at the piano, is someone I know primarily via crosswords. I suspect you're more likely to see NERO with a Peter clue than PETER with a Nero clue. I like to think he's descended from the Nero who fiddled while Rome burned, and that the love for music has been carried down through a hundred generations.
    • 4D: Comedy show that once featured "Spy vs. Spy" cartoons is MADTV. Guess what? If you never bothered to catch this sometimes-hilarious sketch comedy show, I won't pressure you to—because the show just had its final episode this month. Here at la Casa Naranja, our favorite recurring character was Miss Swan, seen here as an airline passenger:

    • BIOTECH is a cool answer. That's 9D: Gene therapist's field, briefly.
    • 12D: Org. with Heat and Thunder is the NBA. Miami Heat and, uh, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Is that who they are? They used to be the Seattle Supersonics but they moved and now, yes, they're the Oklahoma City Thunder.
    • 33D: Seven-time NFL Pro Bowler Warren's last name is SAPP. This clue makes me muse about how wondrous it would be if they had professional bowlers playing in the NFL?
    • 43D: Bit of ocular irrigation is an EYEDROP. 'Tis the season for allergic folks to use antihistamine eyedrops.
    Everything Else — 1A: Oil container (DRUM); 10A: Tip-top (A-ONE); 14A: 2000s sitcom set in Texas (REBA); 15A: Tabriz resident (IRANI); 16A: Three-sided sails (JIBS); 17A: Yankee nickname (A-ROD); 18A: Powerball, for one (LOTTO); 19A: Sighed line (ALAS); 24A: Holiday number (NOEL); 25A: Was holding (HAD); 28A: Fabric store amts. (YDS.); 29A: IRS employee (AGT.); 31A: Split (CLEAVE); 36A: Sea predator (ORCA); 39A: Rivière contents (EAU); 40A: Chooser's first word (EENY); 46A: Spendable salary (NET PAY); 47A: Bouncers check them (IDS); 48A: Sign of a smash (SRO); 51A: For instance (SAY); 52A: Green side (PEAS); 60A: Show some muscle (FLEX); 62A: Meir's successor (RABIN); 63A: Elderly (AGED); 64A: Stereotypical thug voice (RASP); 65A: Damaged layer (OZONE); 67A: Beatle bride (YOKO); 69A: Two gelcaps, e.g. (DOSE); 1D: In a dreary way (DRABLY); 2D: Study, in a way (REREAD); 3D: WWII subs (U-BOATS); 5D: Odometer reading (MILEAGE); 6D: Cut short (CROP); 7D: Incriminate (RAT ON); 8D: Lead-in (INTRO); 10D: Close to closed (AJAR); 11D: Sedimentary fuel source (OIL SHALE); 13D: Winding road part (ESS); 21D: Muscat moolah (RIAL); 22D: Cockney greeting (ELLO); 26D: Mary Kay rival (AVON); 27D: Damp at dawn (DEWY); 30D: Annoyed, with "off" (TEED); 32D: Type of sch. (ELEM.); 35D: Cosmonaut Gagarin (YURI); 36D: Just bought (OWNS); 37D: Flightless bird (RHEA); 38D: Local news department (CITY DESK); 42D: Storybook bear (PAPA); 44D: "Lou Grant" star (ED ASNER); 45D: "Just __!" (A SEC); 48D: Brasil '66 bandleader Mendes (SERGIO); 49D: Croaking birds (RAVENS); 50D: Jumpy (ON EDGE); 53D: Flabbergast (AMAZE); 56D: Keep safe (GUARD); 58D: Really big show (EXPO); 59D: Musical inspired by Fellini's "8 1/2" (NINE); 60D: Cook with a skillet (FRY); 61D: Thai language (LAO).


    TUESDAY, May 26, 2009 — Fred Jackson III

    Theme: Musical Girls — Theme answers are four musical titles that contain a woman's name.

    Theme answers:
    • 18A: 1948 Porter musical inspired by "The Taming of the Shrew" ("KISS ME KATE").
    • 26A: 1925 musical that spawned the unsuccessful "Yes, Yes, Yvette" ("NO NO NANETTE").
    • 44A: 1953 musical with the song "No Other Love" ("ME AND JULIET").
    • 56A: 1964 musical starring Carol Channing ("HELLO DOLLY").
    Crosswordese 101: Back in 1997, there was this movie about this grandfather who kept bees. His name was ULEE (short for Ulysses) and from that day forward, ULEE and crossword puzzles lived happily ever after.

    Ya know who loved this puzzle? Greene did. Me? I thought it was pretty cool too, but "Hello Dolly" was the only gimme for me in the theme answers. I'm guessing Greene didn't have much trouble with any of them. I had trouble with some of the question-mark clues and wonder if you did too:
    • 40A: First mother? (EVE). Why is there a question mark here? To me, the question mark indicates that the clue (or part of the clue) is an idiom but that the solver needs to think of the clue literally to come up with the answer. In this case, what is the non-literal meaning of "First mother"? I mean, I get it that Eve may or may not have been the first mother depending on your particular belief system, but for the question mark to work, the clue needs to be "First lady?" Don't you think? Because "first lady" actually means something other than literally the first woman that ever existed.
    • 64A: Wisdom unit? (PEARL). Here again, the phrase is "pearl of wisdom," so what does the question mark mean? A pearl of wisdom isn't an actual, physical unit that you can hold in your hand, but it's still a unit, right? Does "wisdom unit" have another meaning that I just don't know about?
    • 50D: Puts in stitches (SEWS). So why doesn't this one have a question mark? "Put in stitches" is an idiomatic expression meaning "amuse," but in this case, you need to think of literal stitches, which leads to the correct answer. What the heck am I missing today??
    Bit parts:
    • 20A: Hose reaching to the patella (KNEESOCK). I really thought this was going for a part of the body shaped like a hose (intestine? vein?). Ewwww.
    • 22A: Race of Norse gods (AESIR). I always get this word confused with "aegis." Totally different thing.
    • 24A: 007 et al.: Abbr. (AGTS). Me: "Spies? Too long .... Spys? That's not an abbreviation."
    • 36A: Make cents (MINT). Sometimes I hate cute clues, sometimes I love them. This one, I love.
    • 39A: Casanova (ROUE). So many awesome synonyms: cad, knave, libertine, rascal, miscreant, scoundrel, and (perhaps best of all) rake.
    • 48A: Eye, in Paris (OEIL). I only know this from the French phrase "trompe l'oeil" (literally "trick the eye") which basically means "optical illusion."
    • 61A: Typeface type (ARIAL). This is my go-to typeface. It doesn't have any of those distracting serifs.
    • 5D: 1860s-'80s territory on the Canadian border (DAKOTA). This took me a ridiculously long time to figure out considering I'm, ya know, from there.
    • 7D: Port container (CASK). Port = wine.
    • 10D: Football feints (JUKES). Never heard this word before. I know that hockey feints are called dekes though. Learned it from crosswords.
    • 13D: One dealing in futures? (SEER). See, these one makes sense. The phrase "one dealing in futures" makes you think of a stockbroker, right? But in this case, you need to think of the word "futures" as, literally, "what's going to happen," which leads you to SEER.
    • 28D: Sextet plus three (NONET). Just what it says: a sextet is a group of six, a nonet is a group of nine.
    • 30D: Native New Zealander (MAORI). Hi, Sandy!
    • 38D: Pitchers' stats (ERAS). Earned Run Averages. The average number of runs a pitcher who did not pitch a full nine innings would have given up if he had pitched a full game.
    • 42D: Hall of Famer Aparicio (LUIS). Don't even know what sport this is, but I'm going to guess baseball. ... Yes! He played for the White Sox, the Orioles, and the Red Sox.
    • 51D: Online journal (BLOG). Hope you're enjoying our online journal!
    • 53D: Nuts or crackers? (LOCO). Again, this question mark makes perfect sense. Oh, and I love this clue.
    • 54D: Reverse, on an edit menu (UNDO). Do you remember a TV ad a few years back where some co-workers emailed something offensive and then were frantically searching for the "unsend" button?
    • 57D: Skip, as stones (DAP). Ne-Ever heard this word before. The puzzle data base shows it's been used a total of six times in the New York Times and L.A. Times puzzles since 1997, so I don't feel bad about not knowing it.
    Everything Else — 1A: Puzzle with blind alleys (MAZE); 5A: Prepared, as hash (DICED); 10A: Some blue birds (JAYS); 14A: "Tosca" tune (ARIA); 15A: __ worse than death (A FATE); 16A: Beekeeper played by Peter Fonda (ULEE); 17A: Family guys (SONS); 23A: Numbers to crunch (DATA); 30A: Auto speed letters (MPH); 33A: One way to read (ALOUD); 34A: Maned Oz visitor (LION); 35A: It's often framed (ART); 37A: Lifts with effort (HEFTS); 41A: Atmospheric prefix (AERI); 42A: Christmas song leapers (LORDS); 43A: Stage scenery (SET); 47A: Auction calls (BIDS); 49A: Comparably large (AS BIG); 52A: Fraternal group, familiarly (ELKS CLUB); 59A: Excellent (A-ONE); 60A: Furry "Star Wars" critter (EWOK); 62A: Some watch faces (LCDS); 63A: Texting exchanges: Abbr. (MSGS); 65A: Ill-gotten gains (LOOT); 1D: Identity hider (MASK); 2D: Elvis __ Presley (ARON); 3D: Fan mag, e.g. (ZINE); 4D: Let go tactfully (EASED OUT); 6D: "... assuming it's doable" (IF I CAN); 8D: Aliens, for short (ETS); 9D: Obama or FDR (DEM); 11D: "Unhappily ..." (ALAS); 12D: Rumored Himalayan (YETI); 19D: Gobbled up (EATEN); 21D: Hourglass flow (SAND); 24D: Bickering (AT IT); 25D: Pontiac muscle cars (GTOS); 26D: Tom, Dick and Harry, e.g. (NAMES); 27D: Martini garnish (OLIVE); 29D: Fairylike (ELFIN); 31D: Fuddy-duddy (PRUDE); 32D: Explosive '50s trial (H-TEST); 37D: Obey (HEED); 39D: Attendance check (ROLL CALL); 41D: Cisco, to Pancho (AMIGO); 45D: Register single (DOLLAR); 46D: Stevenson's ill-fated doctor (JEKYLL); 47D: Swindles (BILKS); 49D: Interrupter's sound (AHEM); 52D: "East of Eden" director Kazan (ELIA); 55D: Cream of the crop (BEST); 58D: Miners dig it (ORE).


    MONDAY, May 25, 2009 — Gia Christian

    THEME: Double Plays — Six theme answers, which are actually three pairs of answers, where each pair's first words are opposites of one another in baseball terminology.

    Wow, this is a lot of puzzle for a Monday. Six theme answers that are related not just through a general topic (baseball), but through their implication in pairs of opposites (OUT / SAFE, STRIKE / BALL, FAIR / FOUL). Really great. I think this puzzle was slightly thornier and more intricate than your average Monday (though my time was pretty avg.). Interesting phrases like OUT OF WHACK and BALL OF WAX made for a livelier and less predictable-seeming grid than Mondays often offer. I started out strong with SLAW (1A: Sandwich side) and LAILA (2D: Boxer Ali) and ASK OF (3D: Request from), but then jumped the gun on 4D: Moby Dick, notably and wrote in WHALE as the first word. WHALE TALE didn't fit, so I went back to the NW and found my mistake. Other hiccups included having OUT OF ORDER for OUT OF WHACK and not being able to get 57D: Vibrant look (glow) even though the "GL" was already in place. Otherwise, Monday smooth.

    Theme answers:
    • 18A: Not in working order, informally (OUT OF WHACK) — "Informally" should have told me "ORDER" was wrong.
    • 23A: Crook who doesn't need the combination (SAFE CRACKER) — Also known as a YEGG, which is a word you will see in the grid, eventually.
    • 36A: Union benefit during a walkout (STRIKE PAY)
    • 42A: Everything, informally (BALL OF WAX) — Thought the clue on this made it toughish. Very vague.
    • 47A: Promising picnic forecast (FAIR WEATHER)
    • 60A: Tendency to anger easily (FOUL TEMPER)
    Crosswordese 101: BOZ (15A: Dickens pen name) — Choosing today's word was tough. I strongly considered going with SABU, primarily because I feel like you're likely to see him more often than you are BOZ, but BOZ won out. Like SABU, I learned BOZ from crosswords. No big Dickens fan, I - though I don't dislike him either. I'm just ignorant about most of his work, and tend not to go for the 800-page novel when I'm choosing reading material (exceptions = Anna Karenina and Don Quixote). "Sketches by Boz" was an 1833 collection of journalistic portraits of people and places around London. Its success launched Dickens' career, and paved the way for the serialization of his first novel, The Pickwick Papers. BOZ was also the nickname of college football great (and pro football also-ran) Brian Bosworth.

    What else?
    • 65A: Grammar best-seller "Woe _____" ("IS I") — Grammarians may find it too informal and breezy, but ordinary folk with no predisposition to care about grammar might like it. My students have generally liked it.
    • 10D: Quantum physicist Niels (BOHR) — The puzzle's most famous physicist.
    • 52D: Wascally Wabbit hunter (ELMER) — Great clue for one of the greatest Looney Tunes characters.

    • 54D: Bay Area enforcers (SFPD) — Often clued via Dirty Harry (last name Callahan).
    Enjoy your Memorial Day. And happy first birthday to my chocolate lab, Gabby.


    Everything Else — 1A: Sandwich side dish (SLAW); 5A: Quick __ flash (AS A); 8A: Open, as a gate (UNBOLT); 14A: Itchy condition (RASH); 15A: Dickens pen name (BOZ); 16A: Connect, as a stereo (HOOK UP); 17A: Kind of party torch (TIKI); 18A: Not in working order, informally (OUT OF WHACK); 20A: Frequently (A LOT); 21A: On the ocean (ASEA); 22A: Deli breads (RYES); 23A: Crook who doesn't need the combination (SAFECRACKER); 27A: Roll of bills (WAD); 28A: Las Vegas's desert (MOJAVE); 33A: Shooter's aiming aid (SIGHT); 36A: Union benefit during a walkout (STRIKE PAY); 39A: Vicinity (AREA); 40A: Valuable thing (ASSET); 41A: Shredded (TORE); 42A: Everything, informally (BALL OF WAX); 44A: Annual athletic awards (ESPYS); 45A: Vote out (UNSEAT); 46A: Hip-hop Dr. (DRE); 47A: Promising picnic forecast (FAIRWEATHER); 54A: Thick carpet (SHAG); 58A: Point on a wire fence (BARB); 59A: Tall story (TALE); 60A: Tendency to anger easily (FOUL TEMPER); 63A: Mrs. Peel of "The Avengers" (EMMA); 64A: Regional dialect (PATOIS); 65A: Grammar best-seller "Woe __" (IS I); 66A: Regretted (RUED); 67A: Start to nod off (DROWSE); 68A: Souse's woe (DTS); 69A: Full of pep (SPRY); 1D: Madrid misses: Abbr. (SRTAS); 2D: Boxer Ali (LAILA); 3D: Request from (ASK OF); 4D: Moby Dick, notably (WHITE WHALE); 5D: On the plane (ABOARD); 6D: Composer of marches (SOUSA); 7D: Early Mexican (AZTEC); 8D: TV dial letters (UHF); 9D: Right away (NOW); 10D: Quantum physicist Niels (BOHR); 11D: "Works for me" (OKAY); 12D: Time co-founder Henry (LUCE); 13D: Toll rds. (TPKS); 19D: Acorn source (OAK); 24D: Maine coon, for one (CAT); 25D: Give forth (EMIT); 26D: Soldier of Seoul (ROK); 29D: Fashionable fliers (JET-SETTERS); 30D: Per unit (A POP); 31D: Fluctuate (VARY); 32D: Peepers (EYES); 33D: Child star of "The Thief of Bagdad" (1940) (SABU); 34D: Persia, nowadays (IRAN); 35D: Hair goops (GELS); 36D: Opposite of NNE (SSW); 37D: Hijack-prevention gp. (TSA); 38D: "Oedipus __" (REX); 40D: Old Spice alternative (AFTA); 43D: Blockhead (OAF); 44D: Noteworthy period (ERA); 46D: Explosion remains (DEBRIS); 48D: "Big Blue" (IBM); 49D: Fast (RAPID); 50D: Obtain using force (WREST); 51D: Overplay (HAM UP); 52D: Wascally Wabbit hunter (ELMER); 53D: "__, aim, fire!" (READY); 54D: Bay Area enforcers, initially (SFPD); 55D: Icy coating (HOAR); 56D: Car (AUTO); 57D: Vibrant look (GLOW); 61D: "__ the season ..." ('TIS); 62D: Suffix with Siam (-ESE).


    SUNDAY, May 24, 2009 (calendar puzzle)

    A note on the L.A. Times crossword page says that the online version of today's calendar puzzle will not be available today. I don't know if that means it will be available tomorrow or what. If it does become available, we'll post it here.

    SUNDAY, May 24, 2009 — Kevin Donovan

    Theme: "Keeping an Eye Out" — Theme answers are familiar phrases with the letter "i" removed, creating whacky new phrases clued "?"-style.

    Theme answers:
    • 24A: Betting a buck in Vegas? (STAKING ONE'S CLAM [claim]).
    • 47A: Wheat farm operator? (BRAN [brain] SURGEON).
    • 67A: Very old races? (ANCIENT RUNS [ruins]).
    • 83A: Notes from Charlie? (CHAN [chain] LETTERS).
    • 106A: Think nostalgically about one's long-haired days? (REMEMBER THE MANE [Maine]).
    • 3D: Hollywood exodus? (FLIGHT OF STARS [stairs]).
    • 57D: Kudos after a great meal? (HAIL TO THE CHEF [Chief]).
    Crosswordese 101: If you're interested in learning more about French composer and pianist Erik SATIE [69D: "Sonatine Bureaucratique" composer], check out his Wikipedia page. In crossword puzzles, you should be on the lookout for both his first and last names. In early-week puzzles, he will be clued simply as a French composer, but late-week puzzle clues will often include the name of one of his pieces. Many of them sound French: "Socrate," "Gymnopedies," "Mercure." But he is also wrote several pieces with, let's say unusual names: "Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear," "Genuine Flabby Preludes (for a dog)," and five pieces of "furniture music." Oh, and he was a contemporary of Debussy.

    Hi, everybody. Hey, guess what! I'm actually in the L.A. Times's time zone today. I'm in Reno, Nevada, for PuzzleSister's wedding, which took place today. It was a small and beautiful backyard ceremony and they will surely have a lovely life together here in the desert! Obviously, there's been a lot of activity the last few days, but I did find time to solve this puzzle. I had a lot of trouble in Northern California, where I wanted amend for ALTER (60A: Change) and couldn't get hired out of my head even though it didn't fit for LISTED (54A: Put on the rolls). SOFTIES (50A: Easygoing sorts) and the theme answer in that section weren't coming to me At All. I had to put the puzzle aside for a little while and come back to it before it broke open.

    • 21A: Dada daddy? (ARP). Jean Arp, a German-French artist and founding member of the Dada movement. We talked about him here last month.
    • 27A: Caught off base (TAGGED). If the answer had only been four letters, I might have considered AWOL, but that doesn't actually require being caught. This clue is about baseball.
    • 29A: Form 1040 calc. (AGI). Adjusted Gross Income, according to PuzzleDad (a CPA).
    • 33A: Dwell constantly (on) (OBSESS). I'm sure none of us know anything about obsessing.
    • 43A: Paquin and Pavlova (ANNAS). A Canadian-born New Zealand actress and a Russian ballerina. Nice!
    • 44A: Hole in the wall (OUTLET). I don't know. I think this clue should have a question mark. What do you think?
    • 66A: Makeup artist? (LIAR).
    • 69A: __ qua non (SINE). A legal Latin term meaning "(a condition) without which it could not be" or "but for..." or "without which (there is) nothing." Remember it — you'll see it again!
    • 72A: "Made to be broken" thing (RECORD). The first thing that came to my mind was promise. Not entirely sure what that says about me.
    • 74A: Peel's title (MRS.). Emma Peel of "The Avengers." Played by Diana Rigg. The character was played by a different actress in the 1998 movie, but I understand that some people choose not to acknowledge that. Emma Peel = Diana Rigg. Period.
    • 76A: "2001" computer (HAL).
    • 79A: Runaway bus film (SPEED). You saw. You loved it. Admit it.
    • 88A: Needle (HYPO). I was thinking "needle" was a verb, but it's a noun here.
    • 90A: Store door nos. (HRS). There are numbers on the store door that tell you what HOURS the store is open.
    • 103A: John __ Lennon (ONO). I think it's cool that John and Yoko both changed their names when they married. Ahead of their time, those two.
    • 114A: Traction aid (TREAD). I first had chain, then cleat, and finally, TREAD.
    • 1D: Caning material (RATTAN). Another word you'll want to remember because you will see it again.
    • 4D: "Cape Fear" actress (LANGE). I totally forgot that Jessica LANGE is in that (seriously disturbing) movie.
    • 6D: Banana pair (ENS). There are a pair of N's in the word banana. Yeah. Sorry.
    • 17D: Entices (TEMPTS).

    • 20D: Turkish title (AGA). We covered this bit of crosswordese in early April.
    • 26D: Trumpeter youngster (CYGNET). A Trumpeter is a type of swan. Young swans are called cygnets.
    • 34D: Tournament exemptions (BYES). Tournament brackets have to start with rounds of a number that's a power of 2 (i.e., 4, 8, 16, 32, etc.), but sometimes there aren't enough entrants to fill all the slots in the opening round. So some entrants are allowed to advance to the next round without actually playing. Those entrants are said to have "gotten a bye."
    • 45D: Unqualified (UTTER). As in "Today's wedding was an unqualified (utter) success."
    • 47D: Improved (BETTER). Again with the tricky parts of speech! "Improved" is an adjective here, not a verb!
    • 48D: Start of a damsel's distressed demand (UNHAND). As in "Unhand me, you cad!"
    • 58D: "Dover Beach" poet (ARNOLD). Matthew Arnold. I looked that up for you. You're welcome.
    • 64D: Temple feature? (CURL). The temple next to your forehead, not the temple you worship in.
    • 67D: The Little Mermaid (ARIEL). Easy if you have a daughter of a certain age.
    • 73D: Sea dogs (TARS). Tar is just a strange word for sailor.
    • 86D: Potter of "M*A*S*H," for one (COLONEL). Was just having a conversation yesterday about Sherman Potter and his colorful exclamations: "Horse hockey!" "Monkey muffins!"
    • 107D: It precedes juin (MAI). French months!
    How'd you all do today? Let's hear about it in the comments!

    Everything Else — 1A: Winchester, e.g. (RIFLE); 6A: Magazine bigwig (EDITOR); 12A: Cultural Revolution leader (MAO); 15A: Order to Fido (SIT); 18A: One with a big weight on his shoulders (ATLAS); 19A: Angola neighbor (NAMIBIA); 22A: Polished off (ATE); 23A: Makes less dense (THINS); 30A: Libreville is its capital (GABON); 31A: Puppy's protest (YELP); 32A: It's a pain (ACHE); 36A: Important time (ERA); 37A: Fortitude (GRIT); 38A: __ King Cole (NAT); 39A: Caustic solutions (LYES); 40A: Not at home (AWAY); 52A: Brewer's need (YEAST); 53A: "Far out" (NEAT); 55A: Friend needing feeding (PET); 56A: In the know (HIP); 57A: "Rumor __ it ..." (HAS); 61A: Living room piece (SETTEE); 64A: Occurred (to) (CAME); 65A: Circle segment (ARC); 70A: Poet's contraction (O'ER); 71A: Warner __ (BROS.); 73A: Hawk's weapon (TALON); 75A: Site of Floresta da Tijuca, one of the world's largest urban forests (RIO); 77A: Tell (TATTLE); 78A: Egyptian port (SUEZ); 82A: Lunch and study hall (PERIODS); 86A: Tight undergarment (CORSET); 87A: Patient record (CHART); 89A: Highway marker (CONE); 93A: Thing intentionally dropped (HINT); 94A: Lode load (ORE); 96A: Nearly boils (SCALDS); 98A: Beetle's warning (BEEP); 99A: Ga. Tech grad (ENGR.); 100A: Sets limits on, with "in" (REINS); 104A: Cochise was one (APACHE); 110A: Lacking color (ASHEN); 111A: 1996 Olympics host (USA); 112A: Feel poorly (AIL); 113A: More modest (HUMBLER); 115A: Oscar winner Kingsley (BEN); 116A: TGIF part (IT'S); 117A: Struggle (TUSSLE); 118A: Dagger handles (HAFTS); 2D: Cornell University site (ITHACA); 5D: Latin being (ESSE); 7D: Information to process (DATA SET); 8D: Photographs, e.g. (IMAGES); 9D: South Pacific idols (TIKIS); 10D: Shikoku sash (OBI); 11D: Criminal group (RING); 12D: Big house (MANOR); 13D: Concert venue (ARENA); 14D: Covert __: spy doings (OPS); 15D: Amalfi Coast city (SALERNO); 16D: Like 15-Down (ITALIAN); 25D: Follows orders (OBEYS); 28D: Dressed to kill, with "up" (DOLLED); 35D: 1986 #1 song by Starship (SARA); 41D: Used to be (WAS); 42D: Crumb scavenger (ANT); 43D: Open-mouthed (AGAPE); 46D: Theater section (TIER); 49D: 5/7/1945 German surrender site (REIMS); 50D: Race with gates (SLALOM); 51D: Less sincere (OILIER); 52D: Mysterious Asian giant (YETI); 55D: Weight training targets, briefly (PECS); 59D: Public ones can be embarrassing (SCENES); 61D: Real bore (SNOOZE); 62D: St. Paul-to-Sault Ste. Marie dir. (ENE); 63D: Implants firmly (ETCHES); 68D: Line on a map (ROAD); 71D: Main force (BRUNT); 77D: Saintly Mother (TERESA); 78D: Onetime friend of Camus (SARTRE); 79D: Place with many grunts (STY); 80D: Energy (PEP); 81D: Son of Aphrodite (EROS); 82D: Atlantic, to Brits (POND); 83D: Lantern type (CHINESE); 84D: Word-guessing game (HANGMAN); 85D: "... all snug in __ beds" (THEIR); 87D: Winged child (CHERUB); 89D: Channels you can't surf (CANALS); 91D: Warm up, in a way (REHEAT); 92D: Lays out (SPENDS); 94D: Go around in circles? (ORBIT); 95D: Gets out of the water, with "in" (REELS); 97D: Tangle removers (COMBS); 98D: City of southeastern Iraq (BASRA); 101D: Extreme degree (NTH); 102D: Put a lid on (SHUT); 105D: It may be beaten (PATH); 108D: Outback runner (EMU); 109D: Before, before (ERE).


    SATURDAY, May 23, 2009—Barry C. Silk

    THEME: The Saturday puzzle is themeless—the game is decoding tougher clues and figuring out a slew of longer words and phrases.

    Today's crossword fill has gone all Hollywood! Here's a gallery of the retro stars in the grid:

    48A: Actor whose '70s–'80s sitcom character was a cross-dresser is Jamie FARR from M*A*S*H. As cross-dressers go, he was a horribly unsuccessful one. He didn't look remotely attractive in a dress, nor did his transvestism earn him a discharge from the Army. Farr remains one of the most successful Lebanese-Americans in show business. Wait! Salma Hayek's dad was of Lebanese descent. I believe Jamie Farr has been eclipsed.

    GOLDIE HAWN won Best Supporting Actress in the '60s (12D: "Cactus Flower" Oscar winner). Have any of you see that movie? No? I know her best from Laugh-In and Private Benjamin. Her current relevance in Hollywood seems to relate mainly to her daughter, Kate Hudson, who has carved out a solid career in terrible movies.

    In Midnight Cowboy, the 28D: Dustin Hoffman role is RATSO RIZZO. "I'm walkin' here!" Who among us does not relish the chance to wield that line when we're working our pedestrian mojo and a car interferes? RATSO shows up by itself in crosswords far more often than the full name, and it took me years to figure out if it was spelled RATSO or RATZO. Here we follow the TSAR rule: If there's a spelling variant without a Z, it becomes a crossword staple. Barry Silk's inordinately fond of peppering his puzzles with Scrabbly letters, though, so he dressed up his RATSO with a two-Z RIZZO.

    Henry FONDA was 48D:"The Grapes of Wrath" star, 1940. Truthfully, I don't think I've seen a single Henry Fonda movie other than On Golden Pond from the '80s. I, uh, hear good things about his earlier decades of work. Can I get partial credit for a handful of Jane, Peter, and Bridget Fonda movies?

    Crosswordese 101: We're going to speak French for today's lesson: 27D: Pierre's possessive clues the two-word À TOI, which means "yours" or basically "of you." Three vowels plus a T? That's crossword gold, my friends. Somewhat more common in crosswords is À MOI ("mine"). Considerably less common is À LUI ("his/to him")—U being the least common vowel, it's not as helpful to the constructor in filling out a section of the grid. Other French possessives to know are SES ("his" or "her"), MES ("mine"—but also "month" in Spanish), and NOTRE ("our").

    Look! Clues! And answers! Here are some of 'em:
    • 23A: Pelvic bone (SACRUM). I just learned from Visual Thesaurus's "word of the day" e-mail this interesting tidbit: "The resemblance to sacred in this word for the bone that connects the spine to the pelvis is not accidental: it was believed by certain Greeks with naming rights that the soul resided in this spot: they called the bone hieron osteon. It became os sacrum in Latin, a compound from which we've dropped the first part." Go ahead. Reach around and see if you can't touch your soul.
    • HUMOR ME is one of those colloquial-language entries I'm fond of. 30A: "I beg your indulgence" is just a tad less folksy.
    • 37A: For the full time (TO TERM). I don't know that this phrase has any utility outside of gestation, but it's 100% "in the language" for that setting.
    • 38A: Lizard with a dewlap (IGUANA). Iguanas have dewlaps? So do a lot of old people, but my dictionary applies the word only to animals. The wattle is pretty much the same thing and again, the dictionary lists only animal references. Who knew?
    • 47A: New Wave band __ Boingo (OINGO). I am really not familiar with their oeuvre, but a clue like this demands an '80s music video:

    • 52A: Sch. in Athens (OHIO U.). That's Athens, Ohio, not Athens, Georgia (home of the University of Georgia and the rock scene that birthed R.E.M.), nor the capital of Greece.
    • When I read 59A: Hose part, I thought of feet, legs, seams, and control panties—not a garden hose and its NOZZLE.
    • 61A: Bit of steamy prose is a MASH NOTE, a.k.a. a letter you send to the person you're infatuated with. You know how fatuous means foolish, silly, pointless? That's (etymologically speaking) how infatuation makes you.
    • 13D: St. __ Mountains: Alaska/Canada range (ELIAS). Say what? That one's not ringing a bell for me. Far more often, ELIAS is clued with Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, or Walter Elias Disney, whose middle name we really have no reason to know.
    Everything Else — 1A: Has a gift for (EXCELS AT); 9A: Not impromptu (STAGED); 15A: Sci-fi portal (STARGATE); 16A: Brightly colored bird (ORIOLE); 17A: Gladiator weapons (TRIDENTS); 18A: Loved 'un (DARLIN'); 19A: Jutland native (DANE); 20A: Woman in an insect name (KATY); 22A: Hardly pleased with (MAD AT); 25A: Originate, as a river (RISE); 26A: Mother of Isaac (SARAH); 32A: Capitol group (STATE SENATE); 34A: Only pres. born in Missouri (HST); 40A: Family nickname (SIS); 41A: Candlemaker's supply (PARAFFIN WAX); 45A: More or less (OF A SORT); 50A: Offer? (HITMAN); 54A: Does, perhaps (DEER); 55A: Plagiarize (CRIB); 63A: Egg buys (DOZENS); 64A: "Wanna bet?" (I DOUBT IT); 65A: Lacking a key (ATONAL); 66A: Message sent home from a shy freshman? (SEND CASH); 1D: Cornerstone abbr. (ESTD.); 2D: More, commercially (XTRA); 3D: Number one son? (CAIN); 4D: German earth (ERDE); 5D: Shirt designation: Abbr. (LGE.); 6D: Onetime "Drink it and sleep!" sloganeer (SANKA); 7D: Case at the embassy (ATTACHE); 8D: Trial (TEST RUN); 9D: Grass rolls (SOD); 10D: Disney World transport (TRAM); 11D: Military aviators, collectively (AIR ARM); 14D: Torino tooth (DENTE); 21D: Arizona county or its seat (YUMA); 23D: Elite Asian mountaineer (SHERPA); 24D: Recurring theme (MOTIF); 26D: Former fast fliers (SSTS); 29D: Did lunch (ATE); 31D: Zone (REGION); 33D: Wreck (SMASH); 35D: Complication (SNAG); 36D: Classification prefix (TAXO); 39D: Aussie's school (UNI); 42D: Cause of rage, briefly (ROID); 43D: Greek goddess of the hunt (ARTEMIS); 44D: Site of NSA headquarters (FT. MEADE); 46D: Ready to skate on (FROZEN); 49D: What caring people give (A HOOT); 51D: Bad lighting? (ARSON); 53D: Humerus neighbor (ULNA); 55D: "Closing Bell" network (CNBC); 56D: Membership list (ROTA); 57D: "How sweet __!" (IT IS); 58D: "Little Women" woman (BETH); 60D: Immigrant's subj. (ESL); 62D: Cabinet dept. involved with community planning (HUD).