MONDAY, August 31, 2009 — Norma Steinberg

THEME: "Magician's deception" — same clue for each of three long theme answers

A very solid Monday puzzle. Consistent theme, ultra-smooth fill. There's hardly a clunky entry in the whole damned grid. Very impressive (oh, one exception: PLU. 53D: Like "mice" and "men": Abbr. Icky). Smooth grids are difficult to achieve, and since they don't result in oohs and aahs, they rarely get the credit they deserve. After hacking my way through another, much less expertly filled puzzle today, I was grateful for this one. Very grateful. Love the ironic intersection of PRIG (30D: Holier-than-thou type) and THONGS (38A: Very brief briefs), and the rhyming interplay of SEEDY (9A: Like a disreputable hotel) and REEDY (61A: Like oboe music).

Theme answers:


I really want to play Steve Miller's "Abracadabra" right now, but a. I did that recently on my other website, and b. when I did so, I got lambasted by Miller-haters for foisting that earworm upon them. So ... Olivia Newton-John? Stevie Wonder? Hmmm. How about a double header, first Louis Prima and Keely Smith:

And then one of my favorite pop finds of the last year: Kiwi singer/songwriter Ladyhawke:

["She often claims her largest influence is Electric Light Orchestra..."]

Best youtube user comment on that last video: "i maybe think this is most great song ever maked by humen people of this plnaet."

Crosswordese 101: ETS (62A: Little green men, briefly) — briefly ... In Fiction. I guess the clue just assumes we know that. Anyway, obviously this stands for extraterrestrials. I rarely see / hear the word E.T. (in the singular, let alone the plural) outside crosswords, with the obvious exception being the Spielberg movie of 1982. I picked ETS today more for its other meaning in the world of crosswords: as an abbrev. of the Educational Testing Service, the group behind the S.A.T., G.R.E., A.P., and other standardized tests. Aliens are far more frequently used to clue ETS, but if you do crosswords long enough, the Educational Testing Service meaning will come up.

What else?:

  • 1A: Joplin piano piece (RAG) — first thing in the grid. Always very helpful to have the first letters of a set of longish Downs in place. Couldn't make the potato clue work — 1D: Many an Idaho potato (RUSSET) — but the other two came quickly, providing the first word in SMOKE AND MIRRORS, which sailed across the grid.
  • 46A: Like the person in a diet ad "after" picture (LEANER) — the peril of coming at things backwards: sometimes seeing the suffix alone (-ER) isn't enough to get you over the hump. This grid is structured in such a way that if you are doing continuous solving (i.e. building off of pre-existing answers as much as possible), then you're going to end up backing into (R to L) the entire middle portion of the grid.
  • 51A: It's enough for Luigi (MARIO) ... I mean (BASTA).
  • 8D: Christina Crawford's "_____ Dearest" ("MOMMIE") — classic Dunaway:

  • 9D: Wrapped garments in Agra culture (saris) — "Agra culture" = good one. AGRA = site of Taj Mahal.
  • 18D: Barbie's boyfriend (Ken) — really wish "ball-less" could have been part of this alliterative clue.
  • 19D: Cyclotron bit (ion) — that's about as "bit"ty as you can get. Molecule(s) with electrical charge caused by gaining/losing electron(s).
  • 35D: Magic act, for one (show) — bonus theme answer!
  • 44D: Building site giants (cranes) — went looking for a company name here. A bird lover might have given CRANES a bird clue, and then changed GLOVER to PLOVER in the NW added birdiness.

See you Friday.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Joplin piano piece (RAG).; 4A: Witch trials town (SALEM).; 9A: Like a disreputable hotel (SEEDY).; 14A: www address (URL).; 15A: Pic (PHOTO).; 16A: Knight's protection (ARMOR).; 17A: Magician's deception (SMOKE AND MIRRORS).; 20A: Kept in reserve (SAVED).; 21A: Dewy (MOIST).; 22A: Eve's first home (EDEN).; 23A: Really smart people (BRAINS).; 26A: Cubes in a freezer (ICE).; 29A: Old salt (TAR).; 30A: Investigation (PROBE).; 31A: Read, as a bar code (SCAN).; 32A: Southern breakfast side (GRITS).; 33A: Concurrence (ACCORD).; 35A: Magician's deception (SLEIGHT OF HAND).; 38A: Very brief briefs (THONGS).; 39A: Take in or let out (ALTER).; 40A: Improve, as skills (HONE).; 41A: Apple beverage (CIDER).; 42A: __ room: play area (REC).; 45A: Lamb's mom (EWE).; 46A: Like the person in a diet ad "after" picture (LEANER).; 48A: Equipment (GEAR).; 49A: "Grrr!" is one (SNARL).; 51A: It's enough for Luigi (BASTA).; 52A: Magician's deception (OPTICAL ILLUSION).; 57A: Finish second, in a race (PLACE).; 58A: Inventor Howe (ELIAS).; 59A: Payable (DUE).; 60A: Natives of Ankara (TURKS).; 61A: Like oboe music (REEDY).; 62A: Little green men, briefly (ETS).; 1D: Many an Idaho potato (RUSSET).; 2D: Spanish fleet (ARMADA).; 3D: Danny of "Lethal Weapon" films (GLOVER).; 4D: Floored it (SPED).; 5D: "I have the answer!" ("AHA!").; 6D: Chaney of film (LON).; 7D: Takeoff approx. (ETD).; 8D: Christina Crawford's "__ Dearest" (MOMMIE).; 9D: Wrapped garments seen in Agra culture (SARIS).; 10D: Says "2 x 2 = 5," say (ERRS).; 11D: :-), e.g. (EMOTICON).; 12D: Palme __: Cannes film prize (D'OR).; 13D: 12-mo. periods (YRS.).; 18D: Barbie's boyfriend (KEN).; 19D: Cyclotron bit (ION).; 23D: Naval jails (BRIGS).; 24D: __ IRA (ROTH).; 25D: Choose not to vote (ABSTAIN).; 27D: "Pick a __, any ..." (CARD).; 28D: See 38-Down (END).; 30D: Holier-than-thou type (PRIG).; 31D: Surgery reminder (SCAR).; 32D: Wilder or Hackman (GENE).; 33D: Subsequent to (AFTER).; 34D: "Moonstruck" Oscar winner (CHER).; 35D: Magic act, for one (SHOW).; 36D: Texas symbol (LONE STAR).; 37D: Ye __ Tea Shoppe (OLDE).; 38D: With 28-Down, novel conclusion (THE).; 41D: Square dance leader (CALLER).; 42D: Live (at) (RESIDE).; 43D: Take the family to a restaurant (EAT OUT).; 44D: Building site giants (CRANES).; 46D: Shoestrings (LACES).; 47D: The Gay Nineties, e.g. (ERA).; 48D: "Fill 'er up" filler (GAS).; 50D: Just in the __ of time (NICK).; 51D: Occupied (BUSY).; 52D: Select, with "for" (OPT).; 53D: Like "mice" and "men": Abbr. (PLU.).; 54D: Land in the Seine (ILE).; 55D: Fib (LIE).; 56D: Young guy (LAD).


SUNDAY, August 30, 2009 — Sylvia Bursztyn

Theme: "Quote of Many Colors"

[Note: This is the puzzle that appears in the Sunday L.A. Times newspaper. If you don't get the paper, you can find the puzzle here. Scroll down to see the write-up of today's syndicated puzzle.]

Theme answers:
  • 24A: First part of quote (WORK WILL WAIT WHILE).
  • 38A: Second part of quote (YOU SHOW THE CHILD).
  • 56A: Third part of quote (THE RAINBOW BUT THE).
  • 94A: Fourth part of quote (RAINBOW WON'T WAIT).
  • 113A: Last part of quote (WHILE YOU DO THE WORK).
  • 78A: Author of quote (PATRICIA CLAFFORD).
Everything Else — 1A: Brand of screenwriting (MAX); 4A: Movie whale (NAMU); 8A: Mystic ending (-ISM); 11A: "Aren't --- pair?" (WE A); 14A: Beame and Burrows (ABES); 18A: Rhoda's mom (IDA); 19A: Yemen neighbor (OMAN); 20A: Cats, often (MOUSERS); 22A: "You --- Hurry Love" (CAN'T); 23A: Intro to Pedro (SAN); 27A: "Zounds!" ("EGAD!"); 29A: Anne or Calvin (KLEIN); 30A: TV collie (LASSIE); 31A: Long. crosser (LAT.); 32A: Fair features (RIDES); 34A: Choose (OPT); 35A: Camus' soul (AME); 36A: Write-up (REPORT); 43A: Colossal (HUGE); 44A: Staffer (AIDE); 45A: Insurance concern (LOSS); 46A: Took turns (ROTATED); 49A: Table (SHELVE); 52A: Pickle variety (DILL); 54A: Isabel or Eva (PERÓN); 55A: Turkey quarters (NEST); 63A: Heidi height (ALP); 64A: Lifted (STOLE); 65A: DEA agent (NARC); 66A: Marta of "Casbah" (TOREN); 67A: Spreading through (PERMEATING); 70A: Asimov, per his doctorate (BIOCHEMIST); 73A: North side (UNION); 74A: Security interest (LIEN); 76A: Called off (ENDED); 77A: Sault-Marie center (STE.); 82A: Son of Odin (THOR); 83A: Spondulicks (DOUGH); 84A: Barry White, vocally (BASS); 85A: Mountain ashes (ROWANS); 87A: Mertz's tenant (RICARDO); 90A: New Mexico art center (TAOS); 92A: Florida's --- Beach (VERO); 93A: Bath waterway (AVON); 101A: Gemini twin (CASTOR); 104A: Rapping Dr. (DRE); 105A: Calder Cup-awarding org. (AHL); 106A: Kafka character Gregor (SAMSA); 107A: Med. specialty (ENT); 108A: Massive impasse (LOGJAM); 110A: Espouse (ADOPT); 112A: Fish story (YARN); 117A: Badger (NAG); 118A: Top-notch (A-ONE); 119A: Hall of comedy (ARSENIO); 120A: Novelist Seton (ANYA); 121A: "Runaway" rocker Shannon (DEL); 122A: Safecracker (YEGG); 123A: Cut back? (LET); 124A: Medium skill (ESP); 125A: County hub (SEAT); 126A: Pub stock (ALE); 1D: Kathy Bates' Oscar film (MISERY); 2D: Slow number (ADAGIO); 3D: "Citizen Kane" estate (XANADU); 4D: As we speak (NOW); 5D: In a frenzy (AMOK); 6D: "The Big Sleep" sleuth (MARLOWE); 7D: Neglected, as a lawn (UNKEPT); 8D: "... lovin' the spin ---" (I'M IN); 9D: Sun, to Domingo (SOL); 10D: Mosque leaders (MULLAHS); 11D: Pop goer (WEASEL); 12D: Ares' sister (ERIS); 13D: Up and about (ASTIR); 14D: Alas, in Passau (ACH); 15D: Rescue in 2009 news (BAILOUT); 16D: Blow up (ENLARGE); 17D: Undid a dele (STETTED); 21D: Wise ones (SWAMIS); 25D: A "GWTW" W (WITH); 26D: Minuscule (WEE); 28D: Make potable (DESALT); 33D: Pen knife (SHIV); 37D: Musical's masked man (PHANTOM); 39D: One-named folk music great (ODETTA); 40D: Jazz great Fitzgerald (ELLA); 41D: Actor Firth or Farrell (COLIN); 42D: Doodled (DREW); 47D: Ball (ORB); 48D: Recommended (TOUTED); 49D: Quickly buy good buys (SNAP UP); 50D: Treasure State capital (HELENA); 51D: Zing (ESPRIT); 52D: Tom Jones title (DELILAH); 53D: Peaceful (IRENIC); 54D: Pennsylvania heights (POCONOS); 57D: In (HOT); 58D: Pinch (NAB); 59D: Clues in (BRIEFS); 60D: Country's Yearwood (TRISHA); 61D: Movie Moses (HESTON); 62D: Logs (ENTERS); 64D: AARP member (SENIOR); 68D: Caustic, as wit (MORDANT); 69D: Come together (GEL); 71D: USN rank (CDR.); 72D: Hitchcock blonde Tippi (HEDREN); 75D: Big wheel (NABOB); 79D: Ruminant's chew (CUD); 80D: Stravinsky or Sikorsky (IGOR); 81D: Burkina --- (FASO); 82D: Bipartite (TWO-WAY); 86D: Scraps (ORTS); 87D: Trotters' venue (RACEWAY); 88D: Rowena's love (IVANHOE); 89D: Going for (COSTING); 90D: Rant (TIRADE); 91D: Windflower (ANEMONE); 92D: Ben Jonson comedy (VOLPONE); 95D: Fine-tune (ADJUST); 96D: Walk in water (WADE); 97D: "--- that masked man?" (WHO WAS); 98D: Screen's Peet or Plummer (AMANDA); 99D: Netanyahu's nation (ISRAEL); 100D: Snarl (TANGLE); 102D: José's huzzah (OLÉ); 103D: Majestic (ROYAL); 109D: Slasher film feature (GORE); 110D: Just ---, skip and ... (A HOP); 111D: "--- Little Tenderness" (TRY A); 114D: Pants part (LEG); 115D: Frank McCourt title ('TIS); 116D: Comics' Krazy one (KAT).

SUNDAY, August 30, 2009 — Dan Naddor

[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at cruciverb.com.]

Theme: "Organ Transplants" — Words for organs of the human body are removed from familiar phrases in the top half of the puzzle and transplanted into familiar phrases in the bottom half of the puzzle.

Theme answers:
  • 24A: Pool hall "Better luck next time"? ([heart]FELT CONDOLENCES).
  • 30A: Sound of a breakup? ([ear-]SPLITTING NOISE).
  • 43A: Columbus college funds? (OHIO STATE BUCK[eye]S).
  • 52A: Temper tantrum? ([brain]STORMING SESSION).
  • 73A: Steinway's idea for a large piano? (GRAND BRAINCHILD).
  • 80A: Minimum for a Maybelline ad shoot? (FORTY EYELASHES).
  • 91A: Place-marking lessons for readers? (DOGEAR TRAINING).
  • 102A: Sorrows behind bars? (JAIL HEARTBREAKS).
Crosswordese 101: Today we'll focus on the official airline of CrossWorld, EL AL (79A: Airline to Tel Aviv). Forget your Delta, your United, and your American — there are plenty of ways to clue those words. But EL AL is going to be the Israeli airline every single time. What you need to know about EL AL: it's the national airline of Israel, Ben Gurion International Airport is its hub, its premium class passengers can enjoy the King David Lounge in several airports around the world, its planes are grounded on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, its company slogan is "Home away from home," and EL AL translates to "skyward."

Crosswordese in this puzzle that we've already covered includes ALAI (27A: Jai __), OLIO (47A: Medley), SST (90A: Concorde, e.g.), and SARI (97D: Delhi wrap).

We've got a really ambitious theme today and I think it turned out great! I love that each "organ" taken out of a theme answer in the top half of the grid is transplanted into its symmetrical partner in the bottom half of the grid. Elegant! I'm sure that's why Dan Naddor gets paid the big bucks.

  • 12A: Concert dancing areas (MOSH PITS). Oh to be young again.
  • 29A: Golfer Woosnam (IAN). I'm embarrassed I didn't know his first name.
  • 60A: They may be girded before battle (LOINS). Alrighty then.
  • 67A: Text alternative (PHONE). When I just don't feel like going all the way downstairs to talk to PuzzleHusband, sometimes I text him. Other times I call him on the phone.
  • 76A: China setting (ASIA). The country, not the dishes.
  • 99A: "24" superagent (BAUER). When Eddie Bauer was in the puzzle earlier this week, I thought to myself "I'd prefer to see a '24' clue here." Guess I just needed to be patient.
  • 106A: Cuban dance (RUMBA). I always want this word to have an H in it. Like rhombus I guess.
  • 110A: Distribution slips? (MISDEALS). If you slip up while you're distributing cards, that might result in a misdeal.
  • 4D: Meteorologist, at times (PREDICTOR). Because wild-ass guesser wouldn't fit.
  • 13D: Yoko et al. (ONOS). Ooh, ouch. This one hurts a little. Are there other Onos?
  • 16D: It's pressed in distress (PANIC BUTTON).
  • 46D: Half of an old radio duo (AMOS). I started filling in the A thinking "Oh, that's easy: AMOS," realizing half a second later it could just has easily have been Andy.
  • 63D: Will (SHALL). I know there's a difference between will and shall. I just don't know what it is.
  • 70D: The Kennedys, e.g. (CLAN). *sniff*
  • 73D: "Let's Get It On" singer (GAYE).

  • 93D: Rodeo rope (RIATA). Did you try lasso? I did.
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Everything Else — 1A: "Satisfied?" ("HAPPY?"); 6A: Controversial initiation practice (HAZING); 20A: What Mexican Olympians go for (EL ORO); 21A: "Kick it up a notch!" chef (EMERIL); 22A: Internal company info-sharing system (INTRANET); 23A: Rockies music festival site (ASPEN); 26A: Garish (LOUD); 28A: Rock outcroppings (CRAGS); 33A: Elmer, to Bugs (DOC); 35A: Squirreled-away item (ACORN); 36A: Supportive cheer (OLÉ); 37A: Fighters' home (AIRBASE); 41A: Body language? (TATTOO); 48A: Colombian city (CALI); 50A: Managed care gps. (HMOS); 51A: Abound (TEEM); 57A: N.J. town on the Hudson (FT. LEE); 58A: Junior (SON); 59A: Itty-bitty bit (IOTA); 61A: Zagreb native (CROAT); 62A: Furthermore (PLUS); 63A: Wall supports (STUDS); 64A: Comparison word (THAN); 65A: MP quarries (AWOLS); 68A: Romulus, e.g. (TWIN); 69A: AT&T rival, once (MCI); 72A: Minos' domain (CRETE); 77A: Play a mean sax, say (WAIL); 78A: Stretching discipline (YOGA); 85A: Surgical solution (SALINE); 87A: Back (ENDORSE); 88A: Fabrication (LIE); 89A: Words to live by (TENET); 97A: '50s song syllable (SHA); 100A: Markers (IOUS); 101A: Schlep (HAUL); 107A: Taxpayer's headache (IRS AUDIT); 108A: Go off on (RANT AT); 109A: Diarist Nin (ANAÏS); 111A: Ore appraisals (ASSAYS); 112A: Old lab heaters (ETNAS); 1D: Gets better (HEALS); 2D: 1940s-'70s journalist Stewart (ALSOP); 3D: Resident count (POPULATION); 5D: Hither's partner (YON); 6D: "Battle Cry" actor Van (HEFLIN); 7D: "You're __ one, Mister Grinch" (A MEAN); 8D: Woody Allen mockumentary (ZELIG); 9D: NYC subway line (IRT); 10D: Composer Paganini (NICCOLO); 11D: Morning __: flowers (GLORIES); 12D: Gnatlike insect (MIDGE); 14D: N.L. Central team (STL); 15D: Charlemagne's realm: Abbr. (HRE); 17D: Machu Picchu builder (INCA); 18D: Minor, usually (TEEN); 19D: Map abbrs. (STS.); 25D: "If I Ruled the World" rapper (NAS); 27D: Just plain awful (ATROCIOUS); 31D: Overly (TOO); 32D: "__ didn't!" (NO I); 33D: Goes kaput (DIES); 34D: Sun or moon (ORB); 37D: Hardly hardly (A TON); 38D: Amtrak's "bullet train" (ACELA); 39D: It's similar to sporting clays (SKEET); 40D: Salinger heroine (ESME); 41D: Discard (TOSS); 42D: Chorus line (ALTO); 43D: Gymnast Korbut (OLGA); 44D: Old what's-__-name (HIS); 45D: Dilutes (THINS); 49D: Farm workers? (ANTS); 53D: __ Bornes: card game (MILLE); 54D: John of England (ELTON); 55D: Rational (SOUND); 56D: Cassette half (SIDE B); 57D: Swiss capital (FRANC); 61D: Segment of the western Pacific (CHINA SEAS); 62D: Picnic side (POTATO SALAD); 64D: Nest component (TWIG); 65D: Illegal firing? (ARSON); 66D: Bizarre (WEIRD); 67D: __-dieu (PRIE); 68D: New Mexico art community (TAOS); 69D: Revolutionary soldier (MILITIA MAN); 71D: Loaf at work (IDLE); 72D: Bistro (CAFE); 74D: Loaf in a deli (RYE); 75D: "Twister" actress (HELEN HUNT); 77D: Wild place? (WEST); 81D: Jr. and sr. (YRS.); 82D: Subject with many unknowns (ALGEBRA); 83D: Milieu for John Muir, with "the" (SIERRAS); 84D: "Isn't __ bit like you and me?": Beatles lyric (HE A); 86D: Request to Sajak (AN I); 89D: Estate lawyer's specialty (TRUSTS); 91D: Dashes (DARTS); 92D: In the open (OUT); 94D: Wine mentioned in Hungary's national anthem (TOKAY); 95D: Egypt-Sudan region (NUBIA); 96D: Calm water metaphor (GLASS); 97D: Delhi wrap (SARI); 98D: Catcall (HISS); 99D: Leave quickly, in slang (BAIL); 102D: Dandy dude? (JIM); 103D: Shade (HUE); 104D: Author LeShan (EDA); 105D: USNA grad (ENS.); 106D: English singer Corinne Bailey __ (RAE).


SATURDAY, August 29, 2009— Michael Wiesenberg

THEME: No theme today—Just a themeless Saturday puzzle

Kind of a weird-looking grid, isn't it? Having a bunch of discrete chunks of puzzle just barely connected to one another is typically a recipe for solver frustration, but this time, the clues are for those long Across answers are easy enough that you probably didn't have that tough a time moving from zone to zone. This one took me only a few seconds longer than the Friday puzzle, and I thought that was rather Wednesdayish. One great thing about easier Saturday puzzles is that they provide lovely encouragement to those who struggle with themeless puzzles. See? They're not always so formidable.

Crosswordese 101: We'll kick it old school today with a piece of crosswordese that seldom appears these days but has been a gimme for me for decades. You'll see it again at some point, I'm sure, and you won't be thrilled with it, but you'll be glad to be able to fill it in quickly if you plant it in your head today. The word is RETS, or 37D: Soaks, as flax. Let's say you have some flax and you want to make it into linen. I reckon you'll need to RET it, or soak it in water to soften and separate the fibers. Another insane old textile-related crosswordese verb is TAT, which has to do with making lace; we see that much less often now that TAT = short for "tattoo."

  • 16A: Small program with a browser interface (JAVA APPLET). I love me a good JAVA APPLET, like the New York Times' proprietary crossword applet. I generally loathe the Flash interface, though, so I don't do the L.A. Times crossword on the paper's website; instead, I go to Cruciverb.com and fetch the Across Lite version.
  • 18A: Long-distance messages? (SMOKE SIGNALS). Smoke Signals is also the title of a movie written by Sherman Alexie. Alexie (who likes crosswords!) has a young adult novel out called The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. It's a terrific read—I'm saving it for my son when he's a few years older.
  • 25A: 1876 Twain hero (TOM SAWYER). Geddy Lee!

  • 40A: Ice cream flavor (PISTACHIO). Me, I don't care for pistachios, but my husband and son like 'em.
  • 46A: When Ovid's "Ars Amatoria" is believed to have been published isn't a dreaded Roman numeral clue after all. Surprise! It's ONE B.C. (Your Roman numeral R.D.A. for the day is provided instead by 3D: XXXI x V (CLV).
  • 48A: Home of the NBA's Thunder (OKLAHOMA CITY). How many much bigger cities lack an NBA team and take the existence of the Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle Supersonics) as a personal affront? (Yes, I do believe that cities can take things personally. Don't you?) Speaking of Oklahoma, I'm pretty sure Rex knows this song the way I do—from the Sharper Image scene in When Harry Met Sally.

  • 54A: Might achieve clues the four-word phrase HAS A SHOT AT. It looks goofy in the grid. HA! SASH O' TAT.
  • I wish 59A: THIRTY-NINE had been clued as Jack Benny's forever age rather than 78 half. I suspect the clue was meant to mislead us into thinking of old 78 rpm records with A and B sides, but it ends up being a flat arithmetic problem of no import.
  • 57D: Hot spot? is a spot of TEA.
No, I never heard of 28D: Czech composer Josef (SUK) either. I went to college with Tom and Mike Suk, though. They aren't Czech.

Everything Else — 1A: Largest oceanic dolphin (ORCA); 5A: "__ consummation devoutly to be wish'd": Hamlet ('TIS A); 9A: Hi-tech battler (BOT); 12A: Wood finishing tool (BELT SANDER); 15A: Brooklyn, say, briefly (BORO); 17A: Surrealist Tanguy (YVES); 20A: Prepare for storage, as a carpet (ROLL UP); 23A: Barry who played Lt. Gerard on TV's "The Fugitive" (MORSE); 24A: "Rumor has it ..." ("I HEAR..."); 29A: Health insurance giant (CIGNA); 30A: Incredulous dying words (ET TU); 31A: It might involve a proxy fight (HOSTILE TAKEOVER); 38A: On (ATOP); 39A: Memory principle (MNEME); 45A: Minor, legally (PETIT); 47A: Notable show biz sisters (GABORS); 53A: Landing (PIER); 58A: Letter-bottom abbr. (ENCS); 60A: "Silent Spring" subj. (DDT); 61A: River to the Seine (OISE); 62A: Singer born Eithne Patricia NÌ Bhraon·in (ENYA); 1D: Part of a prepositional phr. (OBJ.); 2D: "The Crying Game" actor (REA); 4D: Obliquely (AT A SLANT); 5D: About 1/3 of Maine's I-95, e.g. (TNPK.); 6D: Hanging out, say (IDLE); 7D: Spies (SEES); 8D: Drawing intro (ART I); 9D: Flaubert heroine (BOVARY); 10D: Words implying consequences (OR ELSE); 11D: One pitching (TOSSER); 13D: Japanese warrior (SAMURAI); 14D: For one (A POP); 15D: Yet (BY NOW); 19D: Early ABC show, for short (GMA); 20D: Sumptuous (RICH); 21D: First state admitted to the Union from the Northwest Territory (OHIO); 22D: Longevity (LEGS); 25D: Saw things? (TEETH); 26D: Emperor who deposed Pope John XII (OTTO I); 27D: Mindanao peak: Abbr. (MT. APO); 28D: Czech composer Josef (SUK); 32D: Europe's __ de Genéve (LAC); 33D: Vicarious feeling (EMPATHY); 34D: Singly (ONE BY ONE); 35D: Nix (VETO); 36D: Qatar dignitary (EMIR); 40D: Exhausted (POOPED); 41D: How many Colonial debts were paid (IN KIND); 42D: Choose (SELECT); 43D: Slope contraptions (T-BARS); 44D: Bavarian beef? (ACH); 47D: Nub (GIST); 49D: "__ Be Back With You": Steve Forbert song (OH TO); 50D: Half a fish (MAHI); 51D: Just like that (AS IS); 52D: Supervision (CARE); 55D: Woodsman's makeup (TIN); 56D: At least one (ANY).


FRIDAY, August 28, 2009 — Elizabeth A. Long

THEME: S-ircumcision — initial "S" in familiar two-word phrases is cut off, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style

Drop-a-letter theme, with the bar raised ever-so-slightly by the fact that the letter is dropped in every instance from the beginning, and from in front of a "T." Ideally there would be no other "ST" words in the puzzle, but there's STILT (9D: Clown's accessory). No big deal. All in all, an OK puzzle. Adequate, reasonably well filled, but nothing I'll remember in another few hours. Highlights of the puzzle are a pair of long Downs: EBENEZER in the NE (11D: Charles's miser) and TOMAHAWK in the SW (34D: Western weapon). The latter was especially tough for me to get, as I had the "T," then the "TO," then the "TOM," and still couldn't make sense of it. TOMMYGUN? Wrong genre.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Insect's working hours? (TICK SHIFT)
  • 24A: Seaman who saw it all? (TAR WITNESS) — my favorite wrong answer of the day: before I had completely grasped the theme, I wrote in AYE WITNESS. That *should* be a theme answer in some puzzle, somewhere.
  • 34A: Split end? (TRESS FRACTURE)
  • 46A: London museum's hidden camera locations? (TATE SECRET)
  • 53A: Where two-wheelers aren't allowed? (TRIKE ZONE) — my favorite theme answer of the day.

This was pretty easy for a Friday, but (in addition to getting stopped short at TOMAHAWK) there were a handful minor struggles. Started with FTS instead of PTS in the NW (FTS = valid abbreviation for "free throws"), so that meant that 1D: Rotten (PUTRID) refused to come into view without a little hacking and rewriting. Beginning of TAR WITNESS did not come easily, and I had ALEF for ALIF to start (25D: First Arabic letter). Thought the clown's "accessory" was his SMILE for a little while (9D: Clown's accessory), though IRENE was IRENA (19A: Peace goddess) and thought ALONZO was ALONSO (44D: Former NBA star Mourning). All very minor stumbles. KAREN Corr is my new name of the day — surprised I didn't learn about her through her last name, which seems far more crossword-friendly than her first (52A: Former #1 woman pool player Corr).

Crosswordese 101: URI (14A: The Rams of the NCAA's Atlantic 10 Conf.) — University of Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Rams play in the Atlantic 10 Conf. I really wish there were some "R" word in "Atlantic 10 Conf." — the alliteration would help me remember "Rhode Island" a lot better. URI also gets clued from time to time as a spoon-bender, referring to "mentalist" URI Geller, an Israeli man who conned many people into believing he could manipulate matter using only the power of his mind. Very famous in the 1970s.

What else?

  • 31A: One-named model on many romance novel covers (FABIO) — if you haven't seen this, well ... you haven't seen it:

  • 31D: Five-time Emmy winner Tina (FEY) — dang, five? That's a lot. What are they for? Let's see ... She won 3 in 2008 for writing, producing, and acting in "30 Rock." Then one for producing "30 Rock" in 2007 and one for writing for SNL in 2002. She's bound to win more. Love her.

See you Monday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: NBA stats (PTS); 4A: Meccan, e.g. (SAUDI); 9A: Silver fish (SMELT); 14A: The Rams of the NCAA's Atlantic 10 Conf. (URI); 15A: Popular place to go downhill (ASPEN); 16A: Something not done (TABOO); 17A: Insect's working hours? (TICK SHIFT); 19A: Peace goddess (IRENE); 20A: Tools with teeth (RAKES); 21A: Where users meet (ONLINE); 23A: Composer Stravinsky (IGOR); 24A: Seaman who saw it all? (TAR WITNESS); 28A: __ Moines (DES); 29A: Scout's concern (TALENT); 30A: Site of bedlam (ZOO); 31A: One-named model on many romance novel covers (FABIO); 32A: Attention-getting sounds (AHEMS); 34A: Split end? (TRESS FRACTURE); 38A: Young Aussie hoppers (JOEYS); 39A: Plumbing outlet (DRAIN); 40A: 911 response org. (EMS); 41A: Tiny African threat (TSE TSE); 43A: Gal __ (PAL); 46A: London museum's hidden camera locations? (TATE SECRET); 49A: __ Alto (PALO); 50A: Must (HAVE TO); 51A: Malice (VENOM); 52A: Former #1 woman pool player Corr (KAREN); 53A: Where two-wheelers aren't allowed? (TRIKE ZONE); 57A: __ Corning, maker of Fiberglas (OWENS); 58A: Gave in (CAVED); 59A: Israeli weapon (UZI); 60A: Do figures, in a way (SKATE); 61A: Doglike scavenger (HYENA); 62A: Whole lot (TON); 1D: Rotten (PUTRID); 2D: "M*A*S*H" system (TRIAGE); 3D: Perverted types (SICKOS); 4D: Impudence (SASS); 5D: Burning issue? (ASH); 6D: News letters (UPI); 7D: Rapper Mos __ (DEF); 8D: Back from a trip, say (IN TOWN); 9D: Clown's accessory (STILT); 10D: Sausalito's county (MARIN); 11D: Charles's miser (EBENEZER); 12D: Like the road in a classic ballad (LONESOME); 13D: __ the line (TOE); 18D: Flooey lead-in (KER-); 22D: Little louse (NIT); 24D: Bills for drinks (TABS); 25D: First Arabic letter (ALIF); 26D: Ask for more (REORDER); 27D: Scrubbing brand (SOS); 29D: Soviet news agency (TASS); 31D: Five-time Emmy winner Tina (FEY); 32D: End in __ (A TIE); 33D: Attila, notably (HUN); 34D: Western weapon (TOMAHAWK); 35D: Interstate feature (REST AREA); 36D: Museo display (ARTE); 37D: Fracture treatment (CAST); 38D: Air Force One, e.g. (JET); 41D: Asian holiday (TET); 42D: It's often served with soda (SCOTCH); 43D: End successfully (PAN OUT); 44D: Former NBA star Mourning (ALONZO); 45D: Chinese menu offering (LO MEIN); 47D: Olympics contest, e.g. (EVENT); 48D: Horse __ (SENSE); 49D: Dispensable candy (PEZ); 51D: Hindu sacred text (VEDA); 52D: Decks in a ring (KOS); 54D: Light line (RAY); 55D: "__ been meaning to tell you ..." (I'VE); 56D: "Jeopardy!" great Jennings (KEN).


THURSDAY, August 27, 2009 — Don Gagliardo

Theme: "Money Money Money Money" — Theme answers are puns on paper money denominations.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Lofty bills? (HIGH FIVES).
  • 38A: Superior bills? (TOP TENS).
  • 50A: Adored bills? (LOVED ONES).
  • 8D: Hated bills (that appropriately spoil this puzzle's symmetry)? (TERRIBLE TWOS).
I spent so much time writing up last weekend's unbelievably awesome Lollapuzzoola tournament that I don't have much left in me for this puzzle. The puns are cute. I totally get it that two-dollar bills are hated, but I've always wondered why. I think people don't like new things and a new kind of money is just hard to get used to. I mean, otherwise who cares? It's just weird to me.

Clues/answers that jumped out at me:
  • 10A/13D: Opportunity for better luck? (NEXT / TIME). Cute!
  • 21A: Irene of "Fame" (CARA). "I'm gonna live forever / I'm gonna learn how to fly (high!)"
  • 45A: "Jeepers!" ("HOLY COW!").
  • 52A: Julie Kotter's spouse, in a '70s sitcom (GABE). One day I'm going to fit Boom Boom Washington into a grid.
  • 62A: Author Allende (ISABEL). I just realized I've only read two of her books. Need to fix that.
  • 1D: "Dr. __" (PHIL). Like it that he's in the grid with OPRAH (26D: Chicago-based daytime host).
  • 27D: Liberal, to Archie Bunker (PINKO). I grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, back when pretty much only white people lived there (it's changed since then, believe it or not). I had no idea what Archie Bunker was about.
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: Type of large TV (PLASMA); 7A: Erwin of '50s TV (STU); 14A: Swinger in a box (HITTER); 15A: "__ making a list ...": Christmas lyric (HE'S); 16A: Et __ (ALII); 17A: Looking to be helped out, maybe (IN A JAM); 18A: Cardinal point suffix (-ERN); 19A: Go-go go-between? (TEAM); 20A: Strung along (LED ON); 22A: Teen affliction (ACNE); 26A: Shore shoe style (OPEN-TOE); 29A: "Incidentally ..." (BY THE BY); 33A: Excavated areas (PITS); 34A: Author Godwin (GAIL); 36A: __ Lama (DALAI); 37A: Messenger __ (RNA); 40A: Razor-billed bird (AUK); 41A: Curly-tailed dog (AKITA); 43A: Oklahoma native (OTO); 44A: To __ (A TEE); 48A: Ancient septet (WONDERS); 55A: Erotic deity (EROS); 56A: Gushes (SPEWS); 60A: Sign (OMEN); 61A: Toon Chihuahua (REN); 63A: __ Accords, 1993 Israel-PLO pact (OSLO); 64A: Word spoken with a head slap (D'OH); 65A: Swiss cough drop (RICOLA); 66A: Occupant of a tiny house (DOLL); 67A: Tokyo-born artist (ONO); 68A: One way to be aware (KEENLY); 2D: Ticket window sight (LINE); 3D: Somewhat (A TAD); 4D: The Red Storm of the Big East Conference (ST. JOHNS); 5D: Be dead serious (MEAN IT); 6D: Equip, as a posse (ARM); 7D: Bundle (SHEAF); 9D: SEALs' gp. (U.S. NAVY); 10D: Tony winner Richardson (NATASHA); 11D: It's usually pd. monthly (ELEC.); 12D: Ancient Chinese capital (XIAN); 21D: Tight (CHEAP); 24D: Disco adjective (GO-GO); 25D: Approximate leaving hrs. (ETDS); 28D: Amazon business, say (E-TAIL); 30D: Delight (ELATE); 31D: Eddie who founded a clothing chain (BAUER); 32D: "Jeepers!" ("YIKES!"); 35D: "Was __ blame?" (I TO); 38D: Folded fare (TACO); 39D: High time? (NOON); 42D: Acetaminophen brand (TYLENOL); 44D: Much of a Sunday paper (AD SPACE); 46D: Exert to excess (OVERDO); 47D: "It's our turn to perform!" ("WE'RE ON!"); 49D: Monster nickname (NESSIE); 51D: "Tiny Bubbles" singer (DON HO); 52D: Well-behaved (GOOD); 53D: Kid's assertive retort (AM SO); 54D: Ringer (BELL); 57D: "Heaven's __ vault, studded with stars ...": Shelley (EBON); 58D: Gusher source (WELL); 59D: Elicit guffaws from (SLAY); 62D: Vex (IRK).


Lollapuzzoola 2

As I'm sure you know, the second annual Lollapuzzoola crossword puzzle tournament was held in Queens, New York this past weekend. Ryan and Brian (and their awesome wives, Kathryn and Toni) did an unbelievably good job of putting it together. I think I can speak for everybody when I say we all had a great time. And here's the thing I just want to say right up front. You don't have to be super speedy at puzzles to have a good time at a tournament. I can't stress that enough. As a group, crossword people are the nicest, warmest, most generous people in the world. They are also, to a great extent, wicked smart and wicked funny. If you enjoy crossword puzzles at all you owe it to yourself to get to a tournament and mingle with kindred spirits. I feel like if I try to add much more about how I feel about tournaments, this post will become sickeningly sappy because I have pretty strong emotions about them. When I walked into my first tournament — the 2008 ACPT — I looked around the room and thought to myself: "My People." And I had that same feeling when I walked into Lollapuzzoola on Saturday.

First let me just say that, although Rex and I had a lovely dinner Friday night before the tournament with Dan Feyer, Janie, and HudsonHawk, Saturday didn't start out too well. Rex and I were staying in an apartment that belongs to a friend of my mother. It's one of those old, stately buildings on the upper west side. Really nice and solid, but ... old. So when I woke up Saturday morning I couldn't get the door to my bedroom open. It's an old door and it was super super humid, so it was just stuck. It wasn't even 8:00 yet, and I wasn't sure if Rex was awake. So I sent him a text message. I waited a few minutes and ... no response. So I called him on his cell-phone. Twice. Still nothing. By about 8:10, getting out of the room wasn't exactly optional any more so I started pounding on the door. He eventually heard me and woke up (for some reason he was a little cranky if I remember correctly) and, whew! I was rescued. Rex Parker! My hero!

We rode out to Queens with Dan and Ellen (thanks for the ride, Dan!) and talked about the usual thing that New Yorkers talk about: the best way to get from one place to another based on distance, traffic, and mode of transportation. If you've ever found yourself in a conversation with a group of New Yorkers, you know I'm telling the truth.

We arrived at the church a little early (and, by the way, yes, the tournament is held in the church where Scrabble was invented!) and there were already a lot of people there. We mingled a little, chatted with friends, got ourselves checked in and then it was time for the puzzles! I'm not Exactly sure how the scoring system works. Ryan and Brian distributed a handout that explained it, but I just decided to trust them. I mean, if I had figured it all out I surely would have been compelled to build a spreadsheet to keep track of my progress and I didn't have my computer with me, so why get all worked up about it? I do know, however, that there were two "divisions" which, basically, separated the elite solvers from the rest of us. Anyone who had finished in the top 20% at the ACPT over the last three years was assigned to the "Express" division. The rest of us were placed in the "Local" division. The breakdown of Express to Local was something like 20 to 54. The other interesting twist Ryan and Brian have added to their tournament is the use of "Google Tickets." Every contestant is provided with eight Google Tickets that they can use any time over the course of the tournament. Basically, the ticket allows you to ask for, and receive, an answer. The drawback is, of course, that each Google Ticket lowers your score on that puzzle by 25 points.

The first puzzle was easy and I'm pretty sure that was by design. It's nice to let everyone sort of get their bearings on a puzzle that's not going to cause a lot of stress. It also had a really fun component to it that I won't spoil for you here. But go solve it and then imagine a room full of people all solving it at the same time. It's pretty funny.

Puzzle 2 was constructed by one of our hosts, Brian Cimmet. I think he's pretty new to constructing, but the puzzle was very, very smooth. A really enjoyable solve. The gimmick on this puzzle was that after solving, the shaded center squares were to be used as a Boggle board in one of the day's "bonus" games. Francis Heaney won that particular bonus game. He was followed closely by Amanda Yesnowitz, who regularly kicks my ass on Facebook's version of Boggle. [Photo at left is Brian's wife and sister. Aren't they adorable??]

Puzzle 3, by Peter Gordon, was quite a bit tougher. It also had an added ingredient to it that included music being piped into the room at a certain point in the process. Again, I won't spoil it by telling you what piece of music it was, but if you're sitting in a room that's pretty much silent, the first note of it sounds bizarre. I thought it was someone's ringtone and was a little annoyed until it became clear it was part of the program. [Photo at right is Peter Gordon. Font humor!]

After Puzzle 3 we broke for lunch. Rex and I had lunch at a little diner not far from the church. Several other tournament-goers were there too. At one point a couple of nice, young people approached the table and asked, "Are you Rex Parker?" I had to laugh. All I could think was, "You're famous! But only today! And only within, like, a four-block radius!" We ended up staying at lunch way longer than we had planned and we missed the extra "Family Feud" event that Crosscan apparently hosted. I can't imagine it was anything less than hilarious. If anyone was there, please tell us about it in the comments!

When we walked back into the tournament, several people were trying to get my attention at once and it turned out I was in second place in the Local division! I couldn't believe it! I mean, I knew I had done well but, wow! My competitiveness immediately took over and I became nervous and absolutely sure that the only thing I had to look forward to the rest of the day was total inadequacy leading to a complete collapse. When it comes to competition, I don't really have the mental part down is what I'm saying.

Puzzle 4 completely kicked my butt. I mean, I'm sure it kicked almost everybody's butt. It was a really hard Brendan Emmett Quigley masterpiece. When I finally figured out the theme I made a lot of progress, but the northeast corner was just not coming together for me. I ended up using three Google Tickets and two of them were completely wasted. The answers I got were answers for which I had really good educated guesses and if I had just plugged them in, I might have been able to get rest of the corner to work. But I was impatient! Nervous! I had second place to protect! So I got the help I needed and finished the puzzle, but lost 75 points in the process.

Puzzle 5 was a 19x19 puzzle by Doug Peterson, one of my all-time favorite constructors and a super nice guy. I was FLYING through this puzzle. I mean FLYING. I was going with my gut on guesses and they were working, I was getting gimmes that I knew would not be gimmes for everybody, I was feeling GOOD. Until I got to the last corner. There was a clue there for a nine-letter word that I knew I didn't know. And I couldn't get anything else to work up there without the nine-letter word. So I used another Google Ticket. This part is pretty funny. PhillySolver came over to give me the answer I wanted and as he was writing it down, I was watching him and thinking, "He's making a mistake. What the heck is he writing? That's not a word!" But it was, in fact, a word. A word I have never heard in my entire life. As soon as I plugged it in, the rest of the corner fell into place and I was done. But I knew I had lost another 25 points and wondered if that was going to make me slip in the standings.

After Puzzle 5, we played a game of Scratch Yahtzee led by Peter Gordon. I'd never played before. It's the same general idea as normal Yahtzee, but has a little twist to it. I totally sucked at it. I totally suck at regular Yahtzee too.

Then it was time for the finals. Will Shortz had generously allowed Ryan and Brian to borrow his big puzzle boards for the finals, so we knew we were going to see the top three finishers up on the stage, which is always exciting. (If there are any non-puzzle people reading this — and I can't imagine why there would be — they have now decided that I am completely nuts. But if you've seen Wordplay or, even better, if you were at the ACPT finals last year, you know exactly what I'm talking about!) To make a long story short, I was five points away from making the finals in the Local division. If I had ever heard that one stupid word in Puzzle 5, I probably would have made it to the stage. Ack!

Well, that just meant I got to relax and watch the top three guys sweating it out on the stage while chatting it up with Deb Amlen. So I can't really complain. Will Irving ended up winning the Local division with Matt Matera and Matthew Besse coming in second and third. Then the three big shots took the stage — Dan Feyer, Francis Heaney, and 2008 Lollapuzzoola Champion Howard Barkin. If you've ever looked at the finishing times on the New York Times applet, you know these guys are freakishly fast. The three of them were very close going into the finals. In the end, Dan ended up finishing just seven seconds ahead of Francis. All the finalists got prizes: books, action figures, snacks, stuff from Ryan and Brian's apartments, I don't know — nobody really pays attention to that stuff. It's not the point! The point is that if you're a crossword puzzle person, it's super super fun to hang out with other crossword puzzle people.

I'll close by telling you about my favorite moment of the weekend, which happened Saturday night after the tournament. Rex and I had dinner with Tony Orbach, Patrick Blindauer, and Patrick's girlfriend Rebecca at the Jackson Diner. We were talking about all kinds of stuff, mostly about words, puns, puzzles, and the puzzle world. At one point a cool phrase came up in conversation and I said, "Hey. That's 15 letters." Tony and Patrick thought for a second and then they both pulled little notebooks out of their back pockets and wrote it down. I was in crossword geek heaven is what I'm saying.

If you've never been to a tournament before and the ACPT is either too intimidating (which it shouldn't be At All) or too expensive (which it looks like it always will be), consider attending Lollapuzzoola 3 on August 21, 2010. See you there!

[You can read more about the tournament, check the final standings, and download the tournament puzzles here.]

[P.S. I really wanted to put captions on all the photos in this post but I couldn't figure out how to do it.]

WEDNESDAY, August 26, 2009—Dan Naddor

THEME: "Court Business"—The middle entry, 33A, is both a verb phrase and a noun phrase; it's the noun that gets riffed on for the ends of the theme answers

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Exterior attractiveness, to a Realtor (CURB APPEAL). Don't like this clue? Then file an APPEAL with the Cruciverbal Court.
  • 20A: Beethoven's affliction (LOSS OF HEARING). The Cruciverbal Court will schedule a HEARING for your APPEAL next month.
  • 50A: Drug safety test (CLINICAL TRIAL). Are you ready to go to TRIAL now?
  • 55A: Replay feature (SLOW MOTION). Judges grant MOTIONs, do they not?
  • 33A: What chambers of commerce do, and this puzzle's title (COURT BUSINESS). This ties everything together, but who the heck ever says that the local chamber of commerce "courts business"? I'd sooner say they woo businesses in the plural. Granted, a theme is more ambitious with five long answers than with four, but I think I'd rather this one had gone with four longs and a short unifying answer, such as COURT in the bottom corner.
Crosswordese 101: I was momentarily swayed by AMBO (4D: Early Christian pulpit), but that one shows up maybe twice a decade in the L.A. Times crossword. It's hardly worth making space for it in your brain. But IONA! That's got three vowels, yes indeedy, so you need to remember this one. Today it's clued as 59A: Isle where Macbeth is buried. Key facts to know: It's a Scottish island, part of the Inner Hebrides, and it's also the name of a college in New Rochelle, N.Y.

And now, my favorite clues and answers:
  • 1A: Paul of "American Graffiti" (LE MAT). I loved Paul Le Mat in American Graffiti. He's the cutie in the old yellow car, and yes, that's a very young Mackenzie Phillips hopping into his car midway through the clip.

  • 22A: Hunk (GOB). I can't help seeing that as Gob, short for George Oscar Bluth II, and pronouncing it as "jobe" thanks to Arrested Development. Coincidentally, Will Arnett, who played Gob, is pretty good-lookin'.
  • 13D: Popular analgesic cream (BEN-GAY). Not, despite what you may have heard, a gay-friendly reimagining of Ben-Hur.
  • 28D: "Parsley is gharsley" poet is the goofy Ogden NASH.
  • Burger corner! 44D: Old MacDonald's place (FARM) evokes McDonalds, while 45D: Whopper toppers (ONIONS) goes to Burger King.

Another puzzle I did on Tuesday featured the first and last name of a failed physicist I'd never heard of. What is this, Obscure Person First/Last Name Combo Week? I have no idea who PAUL CONRAD is, other than that he's a 27D: Three-time Editorial Cartooning Pulitzer winner. He's certainly kosher for the L.A. Times crossword, as he was the newspaper's chief editorial cartoonist from 1964 to 1993. He made it onto Nixon's famous "enemies list." Gotta respect that.

Everything Else — 6A: Big Apple sch. (CCNY); 10A: One often looking down? (SNOB); 14A: Part of Caesar's boast (I CAME); 15A: Former manager Felipe (ALOU); 16A: Bishop of Rome (POPE); 19A: Wilson of "Wedding Crashers" (OWEN); 24A: Drei minus zwei (EINS); 25A: Flummoxed (AT SEA); 26A: Embraces, as a philosophy (ADOPTS); 28A: Site for saplings (NURSERY); 30A: Old Italian bread (LIRA); 31A: Lined up (IN A ROW); 38A: Like a banquet (LAVISH); 39A: Slightly (A TAD); 41A: Thorny shrubs commonly with yellow flowers (ACACIAS); 44A: Livestock food (FORAGE); 46A: Billiards bounce (CAROM); 47A: James of "The Godfather" (CAAN); 49A: Bar code? (LAW); 54A: General Bradley (OMAR); 58A: Soap actress Sofer (RENA); 60A: Rope loop (NOOSE); 61A: Scott in a landmark civil rights case (DRED); 62A: Clairvoyant (SEER); 63A: Kind of pressure that can cause headaches (SINUS); 1D: Driver's document: Abbr. (LIC); 2D: Old French coin (ECU); 3D: Vermont music festival town (MARLBORO); 5D: Afternoon service (TEA SET); 6D: Menu fowl (CAPON); 7D: Staff symbols (CLEFS); 8D: Wordsmith Webster (NOAH); 9D: Christmastime (YULE); 10D: Golf pro shop array (SPORTSWEAR); 11D: Not in any way (NOWISE); 12D: Feature of some corkscrews (OPENER); 18D: Pitchfork-shaped letters (PSIS); 21D: Hitter of 755 homers (AARON); 22D: Hoedown dancer (GAL); 23D: Lyrical (ODIC); 29D: Ocean State sch. (URI); 31D: Bird venerated by ancient Egyptians (IBIS); 32D: Frat letters (NUS); 34D: "Spider-Man" director (RAIMI); 35D: New Deal prog. (TVA); 36D: Breeding horse (STALLION); 37D: Heroic tale (SAGA); 40D: Drops on the grass (DEW); 41D: Agreement (ACCORD); 42D: More tranquil (CALMER); 43D: French satellite-launching rocket (ARIANE); 47D: Duplicate (CLONE); 48D: Fighting big-time (AT WAR); 51D: Members of Gil Grissom's team, briefly (CSIS); 52D: Medicinal plant (ALOE); 53D: Yours, in Tours (A TOI); 56D: The Buckeyes, initially (OSU); 57D: Super __: game console (NES).


TUESDAY, August 25, 2009 — Donna S. Levin

Theme: Follow the Yellow Brick Road — On the 70th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz's national opening, theme answers begin with the three words of a classic song from the movie.

Theme answers:
  • 21A: Helpless (OVER A BARREL).
  • 26A: Something wonderful, in old slang (THE BEE'S KNEES).
  • 43A: '80s animated character assisted by the seven Color Kids (RAINBOW BRITE).
  • 50A: Character who, in a movie released nationally 70 years ago today, sang the ballad formed by the first words of 21-, 26- and 43-Across (DOROTHY GALE).

Crosswordese 101: The SEGO lily (16A: Type of lily) is the state flower of Utah. Clues for SEGO almost always include the word lily or Utah. Sometimes the clue is a little less specific and instead of Utah, you'll see something like "Western lily." Two other things to remember are that the SEGO lily is related to the "mariposa" and its leaves are "bell-shaped." Crosswordese in today's puzzle that we've already covered includes: ELOI (60A: Morlocks' "The Time Machine" prey), ENID (2D: Oklahoma city on the Chisholm Trail), and YSER (51D: River through France and Belgium).

I liked this puzzle a lot. Sometimes old-timey phrases seem clunky to me, but THE BEE'S KNEES is just awesome. I've never heard of RAINBOW BRITE, but that didn't bother me at all. By the time I needed to know it, I had figured out the theme so the answer just fell right in. Did anyone else have trouble remembering Dorothy's last name? I know I've heard it — recently even — but it didn't immediately spring to mind. In my book, this is a solid, above-average Tuesday puzzle by an undoubted pro.

  • 6A: Where many a T-shirt is tie-dyed (CAMP). PuzzleSon just tie-dyed a shirt at camp last week.
  • 14A: Bernardo's girl, in "West Side Story" (ANITA). The list of girls I know from "West Side Story" includes Maria. And that's it.
  • 18A: Put the kibosh on (VETO). Kibosh is an awesome word.
  • 31A: "How much wood __ a woodchuck chuck ..." (WOULD). I've heard with both would and could, so I left the first letter blank until I could check the cross.

  • 39A: Cass or Michelle, in the '60s (MAMA). Cass was the only one actually referred to as "Mama," but they were both part of "The Mamas and the Papas."
  • 62A: Not save (SPEND). I was actually thinking of save in more of a having mercy kind of way. Like the answer for me could have been kill. Clearly, I've been watching too much TV.
  • 28D: Mark's successor (EURO). Tricky! Not a person named Mark, but the German currency.
  • 37D: "Fox News Sunday" panelist (BRIT HUME). Not a big fan of the Fox News, but I do like it when people get both their first and last names in the grid.
  • 38D: Michigan's __ Arbor (ANN). Home of Rex Parker's alma mater and site of the 2010 Big Ten Wrestling Championships. Can't wait! Go Hawks!
I promise I'll have a write-up of the tournament a little later today. I started writing it and it just kept getting longer ... and longer ... and longer. So much good stuff! I want to take another look before I post it to make sure (1) I didn't miss anything important and (2) it consists of more than just my incoherent rambling.

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Everything Else — 1A: Punch line's lead-in (SETUP); 10A: Mil. truant (AWOL); 15A: "Rubáiyát" poet Khayyám (OMAR); 16A: Type of lily (SEGO); 17A: Generous sort (GIVER); 19A: Like most hoopsters (TALL); 20A: Fuss (ADO); 24A: Landed (ALIT); 25A: London insurance market (LLOYD'S); 32A: Weapons (ARMS); 33A: Curly and Larry's cohort (MOE); 36A: Concerning, in memos (IN RE); 37A: Rum-soaked cakes (BABAS); 40A: Prefix with thermal (GEO-); 41A: First Bond movie (DR. NO); 42A: Protection (AEGIS); 46A: Bring in from abroad (IMPORT); 49A: Overconfident morality tale critter (HARE); 53A: Past (AGO); 56A: Take a gander (LOOK); 57A: Exploitative type (USER); 58A: Felt the effects of overexertion (ACHED); 61A: Physical lead-in (META-); 63A: Hotel repository (SAFE); 64A: Important times (ERAS); 65A: Domesticates (TAMES); 1D: Drawn-out story (SAGA); 3D: VCR successor (TIVO); 4D: Sporty truck, briefly (UTE); 5D: Released with conditions (PAROLED); 6D: Violates the Tenth Commandment (COVETS); 7D: OAS part: Abbr. (AMER.); 8D: Espionage name (MATA); 9D: Predicaments (PROBLEMS); 10D: Houston team (ASTROS); 11D: Exhausted (WEARY); 12D: Leered at (OGLED); 13D: Reclines lazily (LOLLS); 22D: Compete (VIE); 23D: Brewpub brews (ALES); 24D: Competent (ABLE); 26D: Piece of kindling (TWIG); 27D: Sharpen (HONE); 29D: "Shish" dish (KABOB); 30D: Second Amendment advocacy gp. (NRA); 33D: Biblical gift bearers (MAGI); 34D: Leave out (OMIT); 35D: Alleviate (EASE); 39D: No more than (MERE); 41D: Dressmaker's seam (DART); 42D: Side by side (ABREAST); 43D: First-year player (ROOKIE); 44D: Tara family (O'HARAS); 45D: __-Mart (WAL); 46D: Doesn't do a thing (IDLES); 47D: Gelt (MOOLA); 48D: Smoking gun, e.g. (PROOF); 52D: "I __ Kick Out of You" (GET A); 53D: Polite interruption (AHEM); 54D: Trait source (GENE); 55D: Bookie's concern (ODDS); 59D: Numbers pro, briefly (CPA).