MONDAY, Nov. 30, 2009 — Pancho Harrison

THEME: Get out of town ... — three long theme answers begin with phrases that (in different contexts) mean depart

After Dan Naddor, I feel like I've reviewed Pancho Harrison's puzzles more than I have anyone else's. Not complaining — he does solid work. Nice touch today (and something that adds a little elegance to this "phrases that start/end with...") is the fact of the "depart" words/phrases are not used that way in the answers in which they appear. Another way to liven up this type of puzzle is to have some type of theme-revealing answer (a cute or at least in-the-language phrase that gives purpose / shape to the theme). As is typical for a Monday puzzle, I had almost no trouble filling this one in quickly. A couple of little hiccups — I went with LISTS over TILTS at 26D: Leans to one side at first, and I couldn't make heads or tails of 43A: Fella (KIDDO). I would never use those two words (fella/KIDDO) interchangeably. "Fella" implies any guy, where KIDDO is specifically used for a young person, and seems more affectionate than "fella." I'm sure they're on some synonym list somewhere, but they feel quite different to me.

[be patient with video; takes a few seconds to show up]

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Shed some pounds (TAKE OFF WEIGHT)
  • 38A: Divide earnings equally (SPLIT THE PROFITS)
  • 57A: Talk to the answering machine (LEAVE A MESSAGE)
There's a nice combo of old skool / nu skool sports clues in the northern regions, with the very contemporary 1A: Vikings quarterback Brett (FAVRE) balanced against the much older and not nearly as well known 10A: 1960s-'70s NBA center Thurmond (NATE) in the opposite corner. This is one of two possible '70s NBA clues for NATE, the other being ["Tiny" Archibald] (a 6'1" All-Star Celtic guard from when I was a kid). Did you know "Nate Archibald" is a character on "Gossip Girl?" WTF!? I hope he was named after the guard, and that that is mentioned on the show — otherwise I call foul. Interesting factoid: NATE Thurmond is the first person in NBA history to record a quadruple-double (double digits in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks).

Crosswordese 101: Jean-Paul MARAT (54D: French Revolution journalist) — he was killed in his bath by Charlotte Corday, and is most often clued as [Corday victim]. Soviet-born MARAT Safin won a couple of tennis Grand Slam titles, so he's fair cluing game as well. He only just retired from the game earlier this year. But back to Jean-Paul MARAT — you may know him from this (very) famous painting:

["Death of Marat" by Jacques-Louis David, 1793]

What else?

  • 66A: Former Lacoste partner (IZOD) — wow, I completely forgot about that. Those names were linked when I was a kid and cared (briefly) about the brand name of polo shirts. Strongly associated with the early '80s preppy look. Partnership ended in '93.
  • 2D: Pound _____: cover one's route, cop-style (A BEAT) — easily the ugliest thing about the grid. The price you pay for getting a "V," "K," and "F," into that tiny section, I guess.
  • 47D: Dwarf who needs tissues (SNEEZY) — had much of this, read the clue, saw "Dwarf" and though "... there's a Dwarf called SLEAZY?" Then decided to really read the clue.

See you Friday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. I just released a free puzzle on my other site — easy if you follow baseball, it's a tough (but doable) challenge if you don't. You can easily download either the .pdf or the .puz version of the puzzle here, at Orange's crosswordfiend.com forum. Thanks!

Everything Else — 1A: Vikings quarterback Brett (FAVRE); 6A: Recipe amt. (TBSP.); 10A: 1960s-'70s NBA center Thurmond (NATE); 14A: Former Apple laptop (IBOOK); 15A: Eurasian boundary river (URAL); 16A: Expel (OUST); 17A: Marsh grass (SEDGE); 18A: Italia's capital (ROMA); 19A: "I'll be there in __" (A SEC); 20A: Shed some pounds (TAKE OFF WEIGHT); 23A: City square memorial (STATUE); 24A: Suffix with Gator (-ADE); 25A: Some NFL blockers (RTS); 28A: Begins (STARTS); 31A: Woodsy route (TRAIL); 33A: Bear: Sp. (OSO); 36A: Logger's tool (SAW); 37A: Either of two Modesto-based vintner brothers (GALLO); 38A: Divide earnings equally (SPLIT THE PROFITS); 43A: Fella (KIDDO); 44A: Charlotte of "The Facts of Life" (RAE); 45A: Fireplace residue (ASH); 46A: Ancient Indo-European (ARYAN); 47A: "Blue" evergreen (SPRUCE); 50A: Fish-to-be (ROE); 51A: Topeka is its cap. (KAN.); 53A: Mariner (SEAMAN); 57A: Talk to the answering machine (LEAVE A MESSAGE); 61A: Post-shower powder (TALC); 63A: Move, to a Realtor (RELO); 64A: Scatter, as seed (STREW); 65A: Impressionist (APER); 66A: Former Lacoste partner (IZOD); 67A: Draws closer (NEARS); 68A: Ashram advisor (GURU); 69A: Caustic fluids (LYES); 70A: __-craftsy (ARTSY); 1D: Dukes in boxing gloves (FISTS); 2D: Pound __: cover one's route, cop-style (A BEAT); 3D: Screwdriver liquor (VODKA); 4D: Classic thesaurus (ROGET'S); 5D: Barely make, as a living (EKE OUT); 6D: Gang land (TURF); 7D: Often furrowed facial feature (BROW); 8D: Identical to, with "the" (SAME AS); 9D: Checkered pattern (PLAID); 10D: Biblical helmsman (NOAH); 11D: Koala's home (AUSTRALIA); 12D: Prufrock creator's monogram (TSE); 13D: Abbr. covering unlisted items (ETC.); 21D: Famine's opposite (FEAST); 22D: Beginning, informally (GETGO); 26D: Leans to one side (TILTS); 27D: Wade through the shallows (SLOSH); 29D: Pep rally yell (RAH); 30D: Insignificant one (TWERP); 32D: WWII Brit. fliers (RAF); 33D: Schindler of "Schindler's List" (OSKAR); 34D: Former veep Agnew (SPIRO); 35D: Classic boy-and-dog Disney film (OLD YELLER); 39D: Actress Lupino (IDA); 40D: Big name in little trucks (TONKA); 41D: Golfer's goal (PAR); 42D: Put into service again (REUSE); 47D: Dwarf who needs tissues (SNEEZY); 48D: Big name in small planes (CESSNA); 49D: Day to put all your eggs in one basket (EASTER); 52D: Pop singer Lavigne (AVRIL); 54D: French Revolution journalist (MARAT); 55D: Golden __: senior citizens (AGERS); 56D: Full of the latest happenings (NEWSY); 58D: Stocking hue (ECRU); 59D: Shaving gel additive (ALOE); 60D: Stylish '60s Brits (MODS); 61D: "You're it!" game (TAG); 62D: "The Simpsons" Squishee seller (APU).


SUNDAY, November 29, 2009
Merl Reagle (calendar)

Theme: "The Furry Thought of You" — Cat puns!

[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:
  • 23A: Cat's new "I've chased my last rodent" attitude? (NO MORE MR. MICE GUY).
  • 31A: Washed oneself thoroughly? (LICKED HIGH AND LOW).
  • 53A: All-natural cat drink from Celestial Seasonings? (HAIRBALL TEA).
  • 62A/72A: Where cats dream of living? (DOWN BY THE OLD MILK STREAM).
  • 83A/92A: Cat's singalong instruction? (FOLLOW THE / POUNCING PAW).
  • 110A: Cat's favorite Ingmar Bergman film? (CRIES AND WHISKERS).
  • 125A: Cat's favorite play? (ROMEOW AND JULIET).
I'm running pretty late today, so I'll just point out a few things and get this post up for you.
  • 20A: Texas Panhandle city (AMARILLO). Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. George Strait:

  • 21A: Kahlo's husband (RIVERA). Artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
  • 28A: Cert. accessways (RDS.). I'm not entirely sure what "cert." means here. Certified?
  • 38A: CAT, for one (SCAN). Bonus non-theme theme answer. See also 116D: Part of CAT (AXIAL).
  • 43A: Rotating the other way: abbr. (CCW). Counter-clockwise. Ouch!
  • 51A: Victimized clay guy on "SNL" reruns (MR. BILL). Oh noooooooo!
  • 56A: It made the Metro (GEO). The Geo Metro is a car.
  • 60A: Singer about Alice (ARLO). With any luck, the final Thanksgiving reference of the weekend.
  • 119A: D and C, in D.C., for ex. (STS.). In Washington, D.C., many of the streets are named with letters. So "D" and "C" are both STreets in D.C.
  • 131A: Nabisco's ___ biscuits (1898) (UNEEDA). Huh?
  • 24D: January's Jr. (MLK). Martin Luther King, Jr. is honored in January.
  • 87D: Walk this way?: abbr. (NNE). Random.

Everything Else — 1A: Corrected (REMEDIED); 9A: Stuff (THINGS); 15A: Astonish (AMAZE); 22A: Typesetting machs. (LINOS); 25A: "Goldfinger" prop (INGOT); 26A: Play the market (TRADE); 27A: Stripe (ILK); 29A: Start to whiz (GEE); 30A: "Auld Lang ___" (SYNE); 40A: Revealing Julie Andrews film (S.O.B.); 41A: Where Waterford is (EIRE); 42A: Where Naples is: abbr. (FLA.); 46A: Plasty preceder (ANGIO-); 49A: He influenced Baudelaire (POE); 59A: "Who ___?" (IS IT); 61A: Mtn. info (ELEV.); 65A: Help PBS, e.g. (PLEDGE); 68A: Tiller intro (ROTO-); 70A: Brown shades (ECRUS); 71A: Vegan's staple (SOY); 76A: NBA great Unseld (WES); 79A: Gem engraving (CAMEO); 80A: To see, in Toulouse (VOIR); 81A: Gaudy (GARISH); 86A: Lady of Spain (DOÑA); 89A: Cream classic, "___ Glad" (I'M SO); 90A: Actor who played a TV surgeon (ALDA); 91A: "Of all people" preceder (YOU); 95A: Food (VIANDS); 98A: Actress Joanne (DRU); 100A: Aquarium fish (TETRA); 101A: Roget wd. (SYN.); 102A: Sea predator (EEL); 103A: Taft's birthplace (OHIO); 106A: Mode intro (À LA); 108A: Stable food (OATS); 115A: Confiscate (TAKE); 120A: Commotion (ADO); 121A: Cash extension? (-IER); 122A: Battle participants? (SEXES); 123A: Indian of Sonora, Mex. (YAQUI); 130A: Give the slip to (ELUDE); 132A: Water wings? (SEAPLANE); 133A: County fair critter (STEER); 134A: Video categories (GENRES); 135A: Post-Christmas events (TOY SALES); 1D: Tirades (RANTS); 2D: Atlanta university (EMORY); 3D: Paris parent (MAMAN); 4D: Wears away (ERODES); 5D: Urgent (DIRE); 6D: Project finish? (-ILE); 7D: Shade tree (ELM); 8D: Column type (DORIC); 9D: Kids' wheels (TRIKES); 10D: Juice-drink brand (HI-C); 11D: "___ got it!" (I'VE); 12D: Actress Pola (NEGRI); 13D: It can be nursed (GRUDGE); 14D: Greets (SAYS HI); 15D: Orthodontist, at times (ALIGNER); 16D: Went for the gold? (MINED); 17D: Heavenly swimmer? (ANGELFISH); 18D: Place with a keeper (ZOO); 19D: Rough fig. (EST.); 31D: Actress Turner (LANA); 32D: Brit's fireplace (INGLE); 33D: L-___ (DOPA); 34D: Home of "Real Sports" (HBO); 35D: Chair part (ARM); 36D: Stan's partner (OLLIE); 37D: Mickey's creator (WALT); 39D: Trucker's compartment (CAB); 43D: Blokes (CHAPS); 44D: Sophia married him (CARLO); 45D: Aviator Post (WILEY); 47D: In need of ipecac (ILL); 48D: Funny Cheri (OTERI); 50D: Trip requirement? (EGO); 52D: Smithereens (BITS); 54D: Piece of pier gear (ROD); 55D: Change with time (EVOLVE); 57D: Water pitcher (EWER); 58D: A single time (ONCE); 62D: Square dance maneuver (DO-SI-DO); 63D: Crow (BRAG); 64D: Arizona city (YUMA); 66D: Type of score (GOAL); 67D: Sailors' saint (ELMO); 69D: Ring decision, briefly (TKO); 73D: Wet (DEWY); 74D: Marquand sleuth (MOTO); 75D: Vonnegut's Kilgore (TROUT); 76D: Scaredy-cats (WIMPS); 77D: Opinion piece (ESSAY); 78D: Demonstrated (SHOWN); 79D: TV's Clampetts, e.g. (CLAN); 82D: Fix (RIG); 83D: Handbill (FLIER); 84D: Harem girl (ODALISQUE); 85D: Newman classic (HUD); 88D: Power, for one (ACTOR); 90D: With, in Vichy (AVEC); 92D: Hungarian sheepdog (PULI); 93D: Saver's options (IRAS); 94D: Jazzman Adderley (NAT); 96D: Spy-film file (DOSSIER); 97D: ___ Na Na (SHA); 99D: Cheery word? (RAH); 104D: Snug bug's place (IN A RUG); 105D: Queer bird (ODD ONE); 107D: "___ saying ..." (AS I WAS); 109D: Stanley's shout (STELLA); 111D: Piano piece (ETUDE); 112D: Word on a door (WOMEN); 113D: Inactive volcano, Mauna ___ (KEA); 114D: 007 foe's first name (ERNST); 117D: Peachy N.H. city? (KEENE); 118D: Sen. Kefauver (ESTES); 122D: Dines (SUPS); 123D: "You rang?" ("YES?"); 124D: Other rte. (ALT.); 126D: Profit add-on? (-EER); 127D: Celebrating work (ODE); 128D: "In excelsis ___" (DEO); 129D: First Chief Justice John (JAY).

SUNDAY, November 29, 2009
Peter Wentz (syndicated)

Theme: "Right On Cue" — Add QU to familiar phrases to create new wacky phrases, clued "?"-style.

[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 answers:
  • 23A: Charmin' way of actin' up? (QUAINT MISBEHAVIN').
  • 32A: Annul the middle of the week? (QUASH WEDNESDAY).
  • 49A: Calculation for an express delivery? (QUICK FACTOR).
  • 66A: Ends it, to one's subsequent regret? (QUITS A GOOD THING).
  • 85A: Sick feeling on campus? (QUAD NAUSEAM).
  • 99A: Wasn't quite ready to accuse? (QUASI-SUSPECTED).
  • 112A: Muslim household's holy book? (QURAN IN THE FAMILY).
Cute theme idea and most of the theme answers are clever. "It's a good thing" doesn't seem, well, good enough to be included. And with THE FAMILY already in place, all I wanted to see what ALL IN at the beginning of that phrase. Me: "Quall In the Family? That doesn't make any sense ...." But there's not a thing wrong with any of the others. The fill, however, is another story altogether.

If you've been reading my Sunday write-ups for any amount of time, you know that I'm pretty tolerant of bad fill on Sundays. I realize that with a grid this big, it just can't be helped. The random tic tac toe clue, OOO (54A: Winning game line), and an unknown JENSEN (4D: Long-time CBS news anchor Jim) are forgivable. I'll even cut some slack for DOSAGES (43D: Amounts to take). But TEPIDNESS? No. That's just ugly. Okay, that's not exactly fair. It's about the same amount of ugly as DOSAGES, so why is it unacceptable? Because of the disgusting clue (96A: Old bath water quality). I do not want to be thinking about old bath water or any of its "qualities." Seriously. And please don't get me started on UNLAX (105A: Chill out, slangily).

In some cases, the answer is perfectly fine but the clue fouls it up. For example:
  • 4A: Copy room malfunction (JAM UP). No. No no no. The clue is a noun, the answer is a verb. They cannot be used interchangeably. This is, like, the one rule of cluing that Must be followed. A copy room malfunction is a JAM. Period.
  • 38D: Sworn __: given the oath of office for (IN AS). That's some pretty extensive prepositional gymnastics there just to make this partial work.
  • 44D: Actress Meyers (ARI). Um ... who? Of all the possible ways to clue ARI, I personally would not go with a former child actor who appeared (not starred!) in a second-tier television sitcom.
  • 45D: One may be backhand (CATCH). Too cute for its own good. In a puzzle that already has some cluing problems, I would not go for the cute here.
  • 1D: Helpful URL link (FAQ). I don't even understand the clue. What is a "URL link"?
  • 57D: Eclipse, as the sun (BLOT OUT). Blotting is something you do to a stain. Not the sun.
  • 80D: Sassy one (SNIP). Ne-Ever heard SNIP used as a noun in this way. And believe me, I know a little bit about being snippy. Yet, I don't believe I've ever been called a snip.

Is an AGENDA BOOK (16D: Planning aid) really a thing? If, for example, a person is 72A: Within arm's length of me, doesn't that mean it's possible for a different person to be NEXT TO me? If I put my arm around one person and am touching another person, that second person is within arm's length but is not NEXT TO me. Just sayin'.

Was there anything to like about this puzzle? Well, I already mentioned the theme, right? The theme is cool. But there are, indeed, a few other things that jumped out at me in a more positive (or at least less negative) way.
  • 15A: Island band The __ Men (BAHA). Still haven't found a clip of The Baha Men singing the theme song to the kid's show "Stanley." It's a very cool song.
  • 77A: Works up a sweater (KNITS). Now that's clever.
  • 93A: Military band wind (FIFE). Do they still play fifes?
  • 120A: 2008 Harlan Coben thriller (HOLD TIGHT). I read a Harlan Coben book once. Let's just say I probably won't be doing that again.
  • 123A: Premium movie channel that dropped its "!" in 2005 (STARZ). Now that's entertaining.
  • 8D: Play __: feign sleep (POSSUM). I thought playing possum was feigning ... dead.
  • 36D: Kids (YOUTH). With the O in place, I tried jokes. That's the kind of misdirection that works for me.
  • 69D: Fast and furious, e.g.: Abbr. (ADJS.). Were you tricked by this one? The word fast and the word furious are both ADJectives.
  • 78D: Rhoda's mom (IDA). Love. Her. The town I grew up in was not all that diverse (understatement), so I was not familiar with stereotypes like "The Jewish Mother." And yet I still thought IDA was a hoot.
  • 99D: Peculiarity (QUIRK). With all those Qs in the grid, there's bound to be a few awesome Q words, right? Well, here's one of them.
  • 109D: Mavs' city (BIG D). That would be the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.
Hey, before we get to CW101, I think today might be a good day to talk about this blog's (unwritten, at least so far) spoiler policy. It's okay to refer to other puzzles in the comments but please, please, please don't spoil them. That is, don't give away specific clues, answers, and themes from puzzles that other people reading the blog might not have gotten to yet.

Acceptable Comments: "I really enjoyed this week's Jonesin' puzzle"; "I think I've seen this theme in a puzzle sometime in the past year"; "This puzzle was harder for me than today's NYT."

Unacceptable Comments: "Can you believe 33A in this puzzle and 28D in today's New York Times puzzle are the same answer?"; "It's funny that an uncommon word like [whatever] would show up three times this week in three different puzzles"; "If you like this puzzle, you should definitely try today's Outer Space-themed NYT puzzle."

That said, if you haven't solved today's New York Times puzzle and you intend to, you might want to do so before reading the comments here because I would bet a lot of money that someone's going to spoil it.

Crosswordese 101: There are many ways to clue IGOR, but only one for YGOR. Ygor-with-a-Y is always going to refer to "Son of Frankenstein." I don't know why the spelling is YGOR in "Son of Frankenstein" and Igor in "Young Frankenstein," but that's just how it is.

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Everything Else — 1A: Scale notes (FAS); 9A: Parchment? (THIRST); 19A: Like single-digit temps (ABOVE ZERO); 21A: California's motto (EUREKA); 22A: "Son of Frankenstein" role (YGOR); 25A: Daring exploit (GEST); 26A: Stats for Tyson (TKOS); 27A: Juan or Gabriel lead-in (SAN); 28A: Juan's "what" (QUE); 29A: Bridget with a diary (JONES); 30A: Arles article (LES); 35A: Sailor's destination in a Yeats poem (BYZANTIUM); 39A: "That __ fact!" (IS A); 40A: Workplace stds. enforcer (OSHA); 41A: Fluffy accessory (BOA); 42A: Prefix with directional (UNI-); 43A: Takes away (DETRACTS); 46A: Z4 automaker (BMW); 53A: Exuberant review (RAVE); 55A: Narrow furrow (STRIA); 56A: "__ All That": 1999 comedy (SHE'S); 57A: Big name in water filters (BRITA); 59A: Sport with mallets (POLO); 60A: Mint and marjoram (HERBS); 62A: Provide power to (ENABLE); 64A: Hidden (CLOAKED); 69A: To an extreme degree (AWFULLY); 73A: Twosomes (DYADS); 76A: Gustave who illustrated classics (DORÉ); 79A: Multi-vol. references (OEDS); 81A: Early aft. hour (ONE PM); 83A: Java (JOE); 84A: Slightly (A TAD); 87A: Charleston, WV-to-Charlotte dir. (SSE); 88A: Edited version seen in theaters (FINAL CUT); 91A: Year in Nero's reign (LIX); 92A: Corned beef holder (RYE); 95A: "That's it!" ("AHA!"); 104A: Mazatlán Mrs. (SRA.); 106A: Roman sun god (SOL); 107A: Ones bound by blood (KIN); 108A: Chant at a Lakers game (KOBE); 111A: Without a specific goal (IDLY); 118A: Mess up (RUIN); 119A: Celtic language spoken in France (BRETON); 121A: Lotto-like game (KENO); 122A: Leapt (SPRANG); 124A: Took care of (DID); 2D: Be adjacent to (ABUT); 3D: Overcharge, in slang (SOAK); 5D: HIV-treating drug (AZT); 6D: Part of RAM: Abbr. (MEM.); 7D: Sch. whose mascot is Rhody the Ram (URI); 9D: Even more itsy-bitsy (TEENSIER); 10D: "How's that again?" ("HUH?"); 11D: Controversial conflict since 2003 (IRAQ WAR); 12D: Variety show (REVUE); 13D: Hit the slopes (SKIED); 14D: Summer shade (TAN); 15D: Words of emphasis (BY GOSH); 17D: Old Testament prophet (HOSEA); 18D: Highfalutin (ARTSY); 20D: Instrument featured in Berlioz's "Harold in Italy" (VIOLA); 24D: Lamb's cry (BAA); 29D: Civil rights activist Jackson (JESSE); 31D: Double __ Oreo (STUF); 32D: Baked brunch dishes (QUICHES); 33D: 116-Down's last VP (HST); 34D: Like an expired license (NOT VALID); 35D: Backyard parties, briefly (BBQS); 37D: Old name of Congo (ZAIRE); 47D: Whacked arcade critter (MOLE); 48D: Fuel for the fire (WOOD); 50D: __ du Soleil (CIRQUE); 51D: Afghan capital (KABUL); 52D: One with an option to buy, perhaps (TENANT); 58D: Herbal quaff (RED TEA); 59D: Some polytheists (PAGANS); 61D: Formal neckwear, perhaps (SILK TIES); 63D: Fight in a ring (BOX); 65D: "Shame __!" (ON YOU); 67D: "The Seduction of Joe __": Alda film (TYNAN); 68D: Barely walked (TODDLED); 70D: Makes a play for (WOOS); 71D: 1989 Tom Petty hit (FREE FALLIN'); 74D: Big name in snowblowers (DEERE); 75D: Neuters (SPAYS); 82D: Fr. titles (MMES.); 84D: Attach (AFFIX); 85D: Duck chorus (QUACKING); 86D: What the Earth turns on (AXIS); 89D: City near Buenos Aires (LA PLATA); 90D: Backer of Fidel (CHE); 94D: Answer to one's own rhetorical question, perhaps (I SAY NO); 96D: Dimes, to dollars (TENTHS); 97D: '90s TV toon therapist (DR. KATZ); 98D: Vocalist Judd (NAOMI); 100D: Excessive (UNDUE); 101D: Take by force (USURP); 102D: More ticked (SORER); 103D: Its symbol is Sn (TIN); 110D: Like the pre-coll. supplies market (EL-HI); 112D: The NFL's Mannings, e.g. (QBS); 113D: Parisian turndown (NON); 114D: Spicy (HOT); 115D: Portuguese "she" (ELA); 116D: See 33-Down (FDR); 117D: P. & L. column heading (YTD).


SATURDAY, November 28, 2009
Alan Olschwang

Theme: As usual for a Saturday, no theme today. (Of course, I could be wrong. I've missed themes before.)

Hi, everyone. I believe Orange is still stuffing herself with turkey in some God-forsaken Internet-less place. I believe she'll be back blogging at her place on Monday, and will be back in the rotation here next Wednesday. In the meantime, you're stuck with me. Let's just make the best of it.

I thought we might have a theme going with the two double-Z answers: MEZZO-SOPRANO and JACUZZI (22A: Carmen, for one / 38A: Maker of many jets). But no. Then when I saw more Scrabbly letters, and thought we might have a pangram on our hands. But no again. All it needs is an effin' F. Bummer.

Stuff I did not know:
  • 19A: Zen enlightenment (SATORI). Sometimes considered the first step toward Nirvana.
  • 10D: Belgium winter hrs. (CET). Whoa, what? That would be Central European Time.
  • 13D: Former Tennessee Titans tight end Kinney (ERRON). Insert your own err-on-the-side-of-caution joke here.
  • 24D: Sprites of Persian mythology (PERIS). Apparently they rank between angela and evil spirits. Kinda like humans, I guess.
  • 50D: "The Hustler" author Walter (TEVIS). I didn't know "The Hustler" was originally a novel.
  • 62D: Knotted pile carpet (RYA). It's a traditional Scandinavian rug. If you do a Google image search, you see a wide variety of colors and designs, so I'm not sure what it is that makes these rugs their own category. Something about the wool or the knots I think.
Other stuff I noticed:
  • 20A: Certain theater, for short (REP). Short for REPertory.
  • 28A: "__ for Evidence": Grafton novel (E IS). Y'all know about the Sue Grafton novels, right? They all start with letters: A Is for, I don't know, Alibi or something. B Is for Blood. I'm making these up, but you get the point.
  • 33A: Inexpensive kids' toy (PAPER DOLL). I'm pretty sure toy makers have discovered a way to make paper dolls expensive.
  • 47A: Classic Jag (XKE). I always want there to be a J in this answer. And there never is.
  • 56A: Company with a kangaroo on its logo (QANTAS). Q without a U? Crossword gold.
  • 4D: Derby town (EPSOM). Epsom, Essex, Sussex ... they're all the same to me unfortunately.
  • 34D: Dallas Mavericks owner before Cuban (PEROT). Kept reading this as "Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban" and couldn't figure out why Mark wouldn't fit.
  • 39D: Golfer Babe who was a six-time AP Female Athlete of the Year (ZAHARIAS). So, yes, I know her name was Babe, but "Golfer Babe"? That doesn't seem right somehow.
  • 52D: Vocally twangy (NASAL). I should be able to find something twangy for you ....

Crosswordese 101: R.U.R., which stands for Rossum's Universal Robots, is a play that premiered in 1921 credited with introducing the term robot. It was written in Czech by Karel Capek. Obviously, the play is considered science fiction. And with all that knowledge, you should be able to recognize R.U.R. the next time it's clued in a puzzle.

Everything Else — 1A: King overthrown by William of Orange (JAMES II); 8A: Breaks out (ESCAPES); 15A: Conversion gadget (ADAPTOR); 16A: Was humbled (ATE DIRT); 17A: Dennis the Menace's neighbors, with "the" (WILSONS); 18A: "Told you!" ("SO THERE!"); 21A: Berkshire school (ETON); 25A: Bad start? (MAL-); 29A: Fork in the road (VEE); 30A: Caribbean cruise stop (ARUBA); 40A: Asmara is its capital (ERITREA); 41A: One in a box (SPECTATOR); 43A: Nutritious beans (SOYAS); 44A: "I'm so clever" sound ("HEH"); 45A: Big affairs (DOS); 48A: Spinach is high in it (BETA-CAROTENE); 54A: U.S. dept. with a windmill on its seal (ENER.); 55A: Robot play (RUR); 60A: Daydream (REVERIE); 62A: Decay, as pipes (RUST OUT); 63A: "Sleepless in Seattle" studio (TRISTAR); 64A: One who aches (YEARNER); 65A: Party leader (HOSTESS); 66A: Brisk, to Brahms (ALLEGRO); 1D: 1975 thriller shot largely on Martha's Vineyard (JAWS); 2D: 1998 Sarah McLachlan hit (ADIA); 3D: Brewer's supply (MALT); 5D: Supply (STORE); 6D: Create charged particles in (IONIZE); 7D: Org. that gets a lot of returns (IRS); 8D: Uncomplicates (EASES); 9D: Short stay (STOP OVER); 11D: Didn't deviate from, as plans (ADHERED TO); 12D: Michelangelo masterpiece (PIETÀ); 14D: Court figure (STENO); 20D: Santa __: Sonoma County seat (ROSA); 23D: "Shh!" ("ZIP IT!"); 25D: Some mil. brass (MAJS.); 26D: Give __: care (A RAP); 27D: Fortune founder (LUCE); 31D: Romania's capital (BUCHAREST); 32D: Ancient Valley of Mexico native (AZTEC); 35D: Antelope that often has nearly upright horns (ORYX); 36D: Pipe problem (LEAK); 37D: Cut with light (LASE); 42D: It may be fishy (ODOR); 46D: Film follow-up (SEQUEL); 48D: Distance maintained between vessels (BERTH); 49D: Hot time in Chile (ENERO); 51D: Who's sorry now? (RUERS); 53D: Between: Fr. (ENTRE); 57D: Half a patio pair (TONG); 58D: "Violin Playing as I Teach It" author Leopold (AUER); 59D: Houston pro, locally ('STRO); 61D: 66, e.g.: Abbr. (RTE.).


FRIDAY, Nov. 27, 2009 — Dan Naddor

THEME: Medieval puns — phrases all have word "medieval" in them, and all answers involve puns on things associated with the Middle Ages

I studied medieval literature in grad school and still sometimes teach it, so this theme was up my alley (though there's nothing particularly literary about it). The theme answers don't exactly sizzle, but they're all solid puns, CHANNEL SERF being by Far the best. There was a bit too much cruddy little fill in this puzzle for my tastes. ONEL and N-TEST, and SSS (UGH) and KER and ILA and TSGTS (which I've never seen in a puzzle before — SSGTS and MSGTS are familiar) (49D: Some USAF NCOs). There's a general lack of care with the small stuff that gives the puzzle a dull cast, rather than the shine it ought to have. SOMA ILA MASSA STOA — all legal, but none of it good. I just finished a puzzle in which I *had* to use ILO and it's still killing me, right now, even as I type. ILA (7D: Tuscan marble city) might have caused me to tear the whole thing down. On the plus side, DIDDY (35D: Bad Boy Records founder, as he's now known) and NAS (40A: "Thugz Mansion" rapper) and BASIE (22D: Count in jazz) give the puzzle an unusually upbeat, musical vibe.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Medieval commuter between Dover and Calais? (CHANNEL SERF)
  • 22A: Medieval castle owner's view? (BARON LANDSCAPE)
  • 34A: Manages medieval real estate holdings? (MINDS ONE'S MANORS)
  • 46A: Medieval lord's efforts? (FEUDAL ATTEMPTS)
  • 53A: Weapons for medieval warriors? (KNIGHT CLUBS)

I was really slow on the uptake with AT THAT (42D: Besides). It's a phrase I never use and couldn't clearly define, frankly, so I needed crosses aplenty. Also double-stacked some wrongness in the NW, putting in CHE over DEAR before realizing that 12D: Sell at an inflated price had to be SCALP, which meant CHE had to go to MAO (19A: Revolutionary leader) and DEAR to DOLL (21A: Honeybunch).

Crosswordese 101: Jack OAKIE (15A: Jack of "The Great Dictator") — As far as I can tell, Jack OAKIE is the only acceptable clue for OAKIE. He is famous today only to cinephiles and crossword aficionados. Why does his fame live on in crosswords? One word: vowels. He's 80% vowels, this guy. To a constructor, that's like AIOLI in IONIA (i.e. tasty). His lack of massive fame, and the slightly Scrabbly "K," keep him from being ENYA-common, but he's definitely a repeater.

What else?

  • 39A: 1950s Edward R. Murrow news show ("SEE IT NOW") — ooh, I like this too. Before my time, but right in the heart of the period that my favorite crime fiction comes from. Mmm, Cold War.

  • 21D: 747 competitor (DC TEN) — I would never have thought of plane models as being in "competition" with one another.
  • 47D: Peak near Jungfrau (EIGER) — learned it from xwords
  • 55D: Pique condition? (IRE) — Peek-a-boo! Throw in PEKE and you've got yourself a weak crossword theme!

See you Friday,


PS For those of you who have been away for the past couple days, I want to draw your attention to a puzzle I wrote to benefit the breast cancer foundation of Christina Applegate (whose birthday was Wednesday). Please go HERE to read about it and download it or print it out, and please share it with anyone you know who likes puzzles (or breasts). I'm going to be promoting this puzzle for the rest of the weekend. Check it out, and then go here to get the completed grid and commentary (and to leave comments).

PPS here's a recent Slate article by Matt Gaffney about how it is that two constructors might come up with virtually identical puzzles completely independently of one another — very informative about constructing issues.

Everything Else — 1A: Like litigants (SUING); 6A: Campaign unpleasantry (SMEAR); 11A: Onetime lottery org. (SSS); 14A: Block house (IGLOO); 15A: Jack of "The Great Dictator" (OAKIE); 16A: Make a scene? (ACT); 17A: Medieval commuter between Dover and Calais? (CHANNEL SERF); 19A: Revolutionary leader (MAO); 20A: 1994 co-Nobelist with Rabin and Arafat (PERES); 21A: Honeybunch (DOLL); 22A: Medieval castle owner's view? (BARON LANDSCAPE); 27A: Hogwash (BALONEY); 28A: Geezer (COOT); 29A: Hope contributed to it for 50 yrs. (USO); 30A: Settled, as plans (FIRMED UP); 34A: Manages medieval real estate holdings? (MINDS ONE'S MANORS); 39A: 1950s Edward R. Murrow news show (SEE IT NOW); 40A: "Thugz Mansion" rapper (NAS); 41A: Mover or shaker (DOER); 42A: Threaten to attack (ASSAULT); 46A: Medieval lord's efforts? (FEUDAL ATTEMPTS); 50A: Easter bloom (LILY); 51A: Barbershop device (STROP); 52A: 007, for one: Abbr. (AGT.); 53A: Weapons for medieval warriors? (KNIGHT CLUBS); 59A: Flop preceder (KER-); 60A: Heart line (AORTA); 61A: Country known for its distance runners (KENYA); 62A: Big period (ERA); 63A: Bikini blast (N-TEST); 64A: Exorbitant (STEEP); 1D: [error left as is] (SIC); 2D: You might close your eyes when you say it (UGH); 3D: Dockworkers' org. (ILA); 4D: Amateur (NON-PRO); 5D: Been happening (GONE ON); 6D: One way to be responsible (SOLELY); 7D: Tuscan marble city (MASSA); 8D: Barely manage, with "out" (EKE); 9D: Inflation cause? (AIR); 10D: Whistle blower (REF); 11D: Island group near Fiji (SAMOA); 12D: Sell at an inflated price (SCALP); 13D: It's a wrap (STOLE); 18D: Seaside flier (ERNE); 21D: 747 competitor (DC-TEN); 22D: Count in jazz (BASIE); 23D: Single-handedly (ALONE); 24D: CBS military drama (NCIS); 25D: Campus quarters (DORM); 26D: "Brave New World" drug (SOMA); 27D: Saddens, with "out" (BUMS); 30D: "A __ Good Men" (FEW); 31D: Coffee mate? (DONUT); 32D: Continent-dividing range (URALS); 33D: Hissed "Over here!" ("PSST!"); 35D: Bad Boy Records founder, as he's now known (DIDDY); 36D: Greek portico (STOA); 37D: First-year law student (ONE-L); 38D: Author Ephron (NORA); 42D: Besides (AT THAT); 43D: Rockefeller Center muralist (SERT); 44D: Preschoolers' protection (SMOCKS); 45D: Task-oriented program (APPLET); 46D: Cereal bit (FLAKE); 47D: Peak near the Jungfrau (EIGER); 48D: Prefix with conservative (ULTRA); 49D: Some USAF NCOs (TSGTS); 53D: The Sunflower St. (KAN.); 54D: "As if!" ("NOT!"); 55D: Pique condition? (IRE); 56D: Nice one? (UNE); 57D: "Later!" ("BYE!"); 58D: Gullible one (SAP).


THURSDAY, November 26, 2009
Lila Cherry

Theme: Happy Thanksgiving! — Theme answers are various definitions of turkey.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Turkey (BIRD THAT GOBBLES).
  • 27A: Turkey (FRANK WAY TO TALK).
  • 48A: Turkey (THEATRICAL FLOP).
  • 63A: Turkey? (FRIDAY'S SANDWICH).
Happy Turkey Day, everyone. This will be quick because ... I have a few things to do. I assume you do too! But first, let me thank you for dropping in today and for hanging out with us these last several months. This blog has been a lot of fun for me and I'm truly grateful for your participation and support. I also want to give a quick shout-out to the Birthday Boy, Rex Parker, and my Soul Sister, Orange, who have been so so awesome to "work" with! I am truly grateful that you two are in my life. And, of course, thank you to Rich Norris ad all the underpaid but I-hope-not-quite-so-underappreciated-any-more crossword artists out there who create these masterpieces for us to enjoy and obsess over. Wow. Before this gets way too cheesy, how about if we go ahead and talk about the puzzle.

Cute theme, appropriate for the day (obviously). I know some people don't like this type of theme because — like quotation themes — the answers tend not to be in-the-language phrases. But I think it's a nice way to mix things up once in a while. I agree that the answers are sometimes excessively tortured in order to force them into the grid, but I don't think that's the case today. I particularly like FRIDAY'S SANDWICH. I'm sure I'm not alone in loving the leftover turkey sandwiches about as much as the Thanksgiving dinner itself! If I were going to complain though (and you can bet on it!), I would say there's a tad too much crosswordese for my taste today. I count nine crosswordese words that we've already covered here, and it's possible I didn't catch all of them. That's a lot!
  • 1A: First name in folk (ARLO).
  • 15A: Moira's "Chaplin" role (OONA).
  • 37A: Sacred bird of old Egypt (IBIS).
  • 52A: Lake surrounding Canada's southernmost point (ERIE).
  • 68A: China's __ Enlai (ZHOU).
  • 3D: Turkish currency (LIRA).
  • 46D: African antelope (ELAND).
  • 55D: __ lily: calla (ARUM).
  • 64D: Altar in the sky (ARA).
What else can we talk about before we go stuff ourselves?
  • 22A: Closed sac (CYST). Eewww.
  • 23A: Neo, for one: Abbr. (ANAG.). Took me a while to figure this one out, so I assume some of you had trouble with it too. The word neo is an ANAGram of the word one. That is one ugly abbreviation! Also, the word ONES appears in the grid as well (12D: Tip jar fillers, mostly). Oops!
  • 53A: Dodge Aries, e.g. (K-CAR). I don't really know what this means. Also ZipCar and SmartCar. I see them around and I see signs that mention them, but I don't really understand their function. I've just got my little minivan and I'm good.
  • 10D: "Hogan's Heroes" star (BOB CRANE). Loved that show when I was a kid. Now, of course, I look back on it in horror. But I do like seeing Bob Crane's full name in the grid.
  • 26D: '60s song car with "three deuces and a four-speed and a 389" (GTO). I assumed this was the Beach Boys, but it's actually Ronnie and the Daytonas.
  • 27D: Toss (FLIP).

  • 31D: Three-time U.S. Open winner (LENDL). Never sure if a U.S. Open clue is referring to tennis or golf. I'm good at the old-timey tennis and the more recent golf.
  • 44D: "Babi __": Yevtushenko poem (YAR). Whatever you say!
Crosswordese 101: I learned the word ECCE from crosswordes. Today's clue — 67A: Caesar's "Behold!" — is typical. You'll almost always see the word behold in the clue along with a Roman name like Caesar, Pilate, Brutus, Cicero, or Livy. "ECCE homo" is a phrase that means "Behold the man" and, according to Wikipedia, are "the Latin words used by Pontius Pilate in the Vulgate translation of the John 19:5, when he presented a scourged Jesus Christ, bound and crowned with thorns, to a hostile crowd shortly before his Crucifixion." Sometimes ECCE will be clued simply as "___ homo."

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Bonus Puzzles: There are a couple bonus puzzles today that I hope you'll check out. In the post below this one, you can read all about Rex's puzzle in support of breast cancer research inspired by Christina Applegate. Also, you should head over to Orange's Crossword Fiend forum for a puzzle constructed by Doug Peterson and Andrea Carla Michaels in honor of Rex's 40th birthday, which is today. If you don't participate over at Rex's blog, you won't understand all the references in the puzzle, but you'll likely still enjoy it considering it was made by two of the very best constructors out there today!

Everything Else — 5A: Kick (out) (DRUM); 9A: Loathe (ABHOR); 14A: Judge's determination (BAIL); 16A: TV exec Arledge (ROONE); 20A: Santa Anna siege site (ALAMO); 21A: Cooked (DONE); 25A: M.I.T. grad, often (ENGR.); 33A: NASA transport (LEM); 34A: __ mater (ALMA); 35A: Shaq of the NBA (O'NEAL); 39A: Savvy (SENSE); 42A: "La Gioconda" tenor role (ENZO); 43A: Aggressive (PUSHY); 45A: Central church area (NAVE); 47A: Scooby-__ (DOO); 54A: Many of its members are boomers (AARP); 57A: Precious (DEAR); 59A: Like seven Nolan Ryan games (NO-HIT); 66A: Fast traveler, at times (RUMOR); 69A: Last in a series (OMEGA); 70A: Take off (SHED); 71A: Shakespearean "over there" (YOND); 1D: "Mamma Mia!" band (ABBA); 2D: Travel option (RAIL); 4D: Pop (OLD MAN); 5D: "Stupid me!" ("D'OH!"); 6D: It can't be played at home (ROAD GAME); 7D: Golden rule preposition (UNTO); 8D: Sticker? (MAGNET); 9D: Wall St. figure who capitalizes on price imbalances (ARB); 11D: Devout (HOLY); 13D: Take five (REST); 18D: Toy truck maker (TONKA); 19D: Napa prefix (OENO-); 24D: Belt maker's tools (AWLS); 28D: Disprove (REBUT); 29D: "Witness" sect (AMISH); 30D: Greek New Age keyboardist (YANNI); 32D: Musical buzzer (KAZOO); 36D: Air show stunt (LOOP); 38D: What Bo Peep could have used? (SHEEPDOG); 40D: Awkward-looking picnic contest (SACK RACE); 41D: Rescue op (EVAC); 49D: Orderly (TIDY); 50D: NutRageous bar maker (REESE'S); 51D: Slovenly (FROWZY); 54D: Hendrix hairdo (AFRO); 56D: Coleridge work (RIME); 58D: Author Sholem (ASCH); 60D: Sunshine cracker (HI-HO); 61D: Screen image (ICON); 62D: Sound of an ungraceful landing (THUD); 65D: Actor Beatty (NED).

Special Breast Cancer Benefit Puzzle

I posted this yesterday on my "Rex Parker" website, but thought some of you all might be interested as well — thank you. ~RP


Happy Birthday, Christina Applegate!

A couple of months ago, around the time of Lee Denim Day (a large single-day cancer fundraiser in early October), I started kicking around puzzle ideas. Challenge — how to write a puzzle in support of breast cancer research and care that wasn't a. a downer, and b. too boob-specific (nothing wrong with boobs, they're great, that's the point — just didn't want to be too spot-on). So nothing was clicking for me until ... I lit on the name of Christina Applegate's own Foundation. And then things began falling into place. I had an idea, then hit up Twitter for some suggestions of names that helped me create theme answers, and before I knew it (one afternoon), I had a 17x17 puzzle on my hands (thanks, Twitterverse, btw).

So here's the deal — if you enjoy the puzzle (below), or if you hate it so much that it inspires you to throw rotten tomatoes at me ... if it moves you in any way, please consider making a donation to Ms. Applegate's Foundation. I'm deliberately not telling you its name because its name is in the puzzle (is the basis for the puzzle, actually). So if you want a leg up on the puzzle, click here to go to her Foundation's homepage. Otherwise, do the puzzle first, and then check out her page. Her Foundation is dedicated to helping pay for advanced screening techniques for at-risk women who couldn't otherwise afford it.

So here it is. Please print it out, forward it to friends/family/anyone you know who enjoys crosswords, etc. I hope it brightens an already bright, long holiday weekend. Click here to read my write-up of the puzzle and comment on it if you wish.

Just click on "Print" on the puzzle image below, or go here (to Amy Reynaldo's crosswordfiend.com) to get a .puz (AcrossLite) version.

Star Turns


WEDNESDAY, November 25, 2009—Gareth Bain

THEME: "Rama Lama Ding Dong"—The words in that song title are found at the end of four theme entries

I finished this puzzle with no idea what the theme was—I knew that 43D/EDSELS had something to do with it, but in Across Lite, long clues are truncated in the clue list and in teeny print above the puzzle so I hadn't read the complete clue: Named for a car model, group who sang the 1961 hit formed by the ends of 17-, 26-, 41- and 52-Across. Aha! The long Down answers, MACHINE GUN and ANGORA GOAT, are not involved in the theme. The puzzle seemed sort of weird, but when "RAMA LAMA DING DONG" popped out, I was delighted.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: 360-degree artwork (CYCLORAMA). This term is not at all familiar to me. The Wikipedia article is informative, and covers Bulgaria, the Netherlands, the U.S. Civil War, and Disney's EPCOT Center.
  • 26A: Former resident of Lhasa's Potala Palace (DALAI LAMA).
  • 41A: Wildly exciting, in slang (RING-A-DING). This...is not the sort of slang I use.
  • 52A: Long-time Chinese leader (MAO ZEDONG). The Mao Tse-tung spelling fits neither the space in the grid nor the theme's spelling requirements.
  • 43D: Named for a car model, group who sang the 1961 hit formed by the ends of 17-, 26-, 41- and 52-Across (EDSELS).
What else? Here are my favorite answers and clues:
  • 16A: Give __: care (A HOOT). Nobody loves a partial...except Woodsy Owl. He's just glad these words can be recycled rather than being thrown away to pollute the earth.
  • 34A: Limerick's place (IRELAND). That's Limerick, the Irish county. If you're looking for limericks, the ribald verse, check out Roger Ebert's blog, where more than 700 limericks have been submitted in the comments. If you're easily offended by ribald language, I beseech you, do not click that link.
  • 46A: Golfer who won the 1992 U.S. Open (TOM KITE). I like full names in a crossword, but this guy? I dunno. Dull?
  • 47D: Melville novel—OMOO is uninspired fill, but when it crashes into OMAHA (51A: Nebraska city), it picks up some oomph. Or maybe omph.
  • 24D: "In space no one can hear you scream," for "Alien" (TAGLINE). Scary!
  • 38D: Shi'ite leader (AGA KHAN). I feel a connection to the Aga Khan via Minnesota. No, really. Carleton College's president Bob Edwards left Minnesota to work for the Aga Khan on educational matters.

  • 42D: Bygone bringers of cold blocks (ICEMEN). Once again, cold weather has arrived and I have failed to caulk the old iceman's door to my kitchen. You wouldn't believe how cold it gets in the kitchen cabinet the ice door is behind. In January, there's really no need for the ICEMEN.

Well, we've covered AZO and OMOO before, so that leaves only a few Crosswordese 101 candidates. Hmm, ENZO Ferrari, anagrams A-ONE and AEON, and French ETRE? Let's go with basic French.

Crosswordese 101: The easiest clues are often fill-in-the-blank clues, such as 13D: Raison d'__: reason for being for ÊTRE. ÊTRE is the verb "to be," so it's super-common in French but if you've managed to avoid learning any French, maybe you don't recognize the word. Its letters make it an appealing glue for crossword constructors, though, so you need to know this puppy. Commonest clues: French 101 verb/word/infinitive; To be, in Toulouse/in Brest/to Henri/in Tours; and Vichy/Versailles verb.

Everything Else — 1A: Workout room (GYM); 4A: Bit of hardware (SCREW); 9A: Suffix with sea (-SCAPE); 14A: Extinct ostrich-like bird (MOA); 15A: Games authority (HOYLE); 16A: Give __: care (A HOOT); 17A: 360-degree artwork (CYCLORAMA); 19A: Hardly the gregarious type (LONER); 20A: Buckeye (OHIOAN); 21A: "Skip the sordid details" ("SPARE ME"); 23A: Like many airports: Abbr. (INTL.); 24A: __ firma (TERRA); 25A: Well fluids (INKS); 26A: Former resident of Lhasa's Potala Palace (DALAI LAMA); 30A: God of hawks? (ARES); 31A: Gear part (COG); 32A: Frank (WEENIE); 33A: Fanzine, e.g. (MAG); 34A: Limerick's place (IRELAND); 36A: Old Prizm automaker (GEO); 37A: Represent as identical (EQUATE); 39A: __ and outs (INS); 40A: East Berlin's Cold War counterpart (BONN); 41A: Wildly exciting, in slang (RING-A-DING); 43A: Guesses "true" when the answer is "false" (ERRS); 44A: Pulitzer winner Walker (ALICE); 45A: Concert halls (ODEA); 46A: Golfer who won the 1992 U.S. Open (TOM KITE); 49A: Prescription measure (DOSAGE); 51A: Nebraska city (OMAHA); 52A: Long-time Chinese leader (MAO ZEDONG); 55A: Boston airport (LOGAN); 56A: Throw out (EXPEL); 57A: Nitrogen-based dye (AZO); 58A: Pork cuts (LOINS); 59A: Essentials (NEEDS); 60A: Go one better (TOP); 1D: Canyon or Sierra (GMC); 2D: Toy on a string (YO-YO); 3D: Rapid-fire weapon (MACHINE GUN); 4D: "Eats, __ & Leaves": punctuation handbook (SHOOTS); 5D: Reef stuff (CORAL); 6D: "Saving Private __" (RYAN); 7D: Common street name (ELM); 8D: Cunning sort (WEASEL); 9D: Not paid hourly (SALARIED); 10D: Bach work (CHORALE); 11D: Superior (A-ONE); 12D: Keats work (POEM); 13D: Raison d'__: reason for being (ÊTRE); 18D: Golf course (LINKS); 22D: Shrimplike crustaceans (PRAWNS); 24D: "In space no one can hear you scream," for "Alien" (TAGLINE); 25D: Mosul resident (IRAQI); 26D: Forest female (DOE); 27D: Source of mohair (ANGORA GOAT); 28D: Bearings (MIENS); 29D: Near-eternity (AEON); 30D: From the U.S. (AMER.); 31D: Cash alternative (CREDIT); 34D: Neapolitans, e.g. (ITALIANS); 35D: Director Lee (ANG); 38D: Shi'ite leader (AGA KHAN); 40D: Server's basketful (BREAD); 42D: Bygone bringers of cold blocks (ICEMEN); 43D: Named for a car model, group who sang the 1961 hit formed by the ends of 17-, 26-, 41- and 52-Across (EDSELS); 45D: Leaked slowly (OOZED); 46D: Turnpike fee (TOLL); 47D: Melville novel (OMOO); 48D: "The Gift of the __" (MAGI); 49D: Info (DOPE); 50D: Auto designer Ferrari (ENZO); 53D: Stump creator (AXE); 54D: Red state org. (GOP).


TUESDAY, November 24, 2009
Gary J. Whitehead

Theme: Homophones! — Theme answers are (common?) phrases that end with homophones.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Sophisticated taste, foodwise (REFINED PALATE).
  • 36A: Studio item with a thumb hole (PAINTER'S PALETTE).
  • 47A: Portable shipping platform (FREIGHT PALLET).
PuzzleDaughter is home with a fever today, so this is going to be quick. Which is probably good. I'm not a big fan of this particular theme. Yes, the word can be spelled three different ways and mean three different things, but ... so what? This one gets a big "whatever" from me. Luckily, there was some pretty cool fill to offset the drab theme.

First, we've got the awesome entries TEXAS TEA and EARL GREY (9D: Oil, informally / 37D: Tea named for William IV's prime minister). Add in a little ICE-T (11D: Rapper-turned-actor) and we've got a mini-theme going here. Cute!

I do enjoy me some people in my puzzles:
  • 22D: Actress Tyler (LIV). Daughter of Steven Tyler from AEROsmith (14A: Prefix with space). I'll never understand how anyone was confused about the identity of her father. She looks exactly like him! But in a good way. Which is Very hard to pull off!
  • 28D: Jimmy of the Daily Planet (OLSEN). Remember the Spin Doctors?

  • 30D: Gangster dubbed "The Teflon Don" (GOTTI). I lived in New York in the mid 80s so this was easy for me.
  • 34A: "Night" author Wiesel (ELIE). Has anyone here read this?
  • 42A: Guitarist __ Paul (LES). May he rest in peace.
  • 47D: Wilma's mate (FRED).
  • 58A: Els on the links (ERNIE).
  • 61A: Dublin-born poet (YEATS).
  • 5D: California senator Feinstein (DIANNE). Did you know she spells her name with two Ns?
  • 50D: "Saturday Night Live" alum Fey (TINA). I couldn't decide if anyone would be offended by a Fey-as-Palin clip here.
Crosswordese 101: There are two four-letter-last-name Leon authors. Luckily, Leon Edel only show up in the puzzle occasionally. Typically, you're going to see Leon URIS (53A: "The Haj" novelist). He's pretty much always clued with a reference to one of his books, most often: Exodus, Trinity, QB VII, Battle Cry, Redemption, Topaz, or Mila 18.

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Everything Else — 1A: Job detail, briefly (SPEC); 5A: First appearance (DEBUT); 10A: Irish dances (JIGS); 15A: Really peeved (IRATE); 16A: Campus south of Sunset Blvd. (UCLA); 17A: Investor's goal (GAIN); 18A: Subsidiary building (ANNEX); 19A: Thoughtful (DEEP); 23A: B&Bs (INNS); 24A: Jane Fonda, to Peter (SIS); 25A: Ping-Pong need (PADDLE); 28A: Airing, as an ESPN game (ON TV); 30A: Schmooze (GAB); 33A: See eye to eye (AGREE); 35A: Nod off (DOZE); 39A: Datebook entry: Abbr. (APPT.); 40A: Improves in the wine cellar (AGES); 41A: Western (OATER); 43A: 1982 Disney sci-fi movie (TRON); 44A: Pessimistic types (CYNICS); 45A: Sidekick (PAL); 46A: Sargasso et al. (SEAS); 54A: Racetrack borders (RAILS); 55A: Giant screen format (IMAX); 57A: Vitality (ZEST); 59A: Free from doubt (SURE); 60A: Foreboding date for Caesar (IDES); 62A: Romanov ruler (TSAR); 1D: Droop (SAG); 2D: Anjou or Bosc (PEAR); 3D: Toledo's lake (ERIE); 4D: Free from doubt (CONFIDENT); 6D: Maritime raptors (ERNES); 7D: Robin Hood's merry men, e.g. (BAND); 8D: Longhorn State sch. (UTEP); 10D: Biblical traitor (JUDAS); 12D: Tickled-pink feeling (GLEE); 13D: Maple yield (SAP); 21D: Bay or cove (INLET); 25D: Of the Holy See (PAPAL); 26D: Showing shock (AGAPE); 27D: Plumbing problems (DRIPS); 29D: Playful bites (NIPS); 31D: Ancient Mexican (AZTEC); 32D: Tavern round (BEERS); 34D: Consequently (ERGO); 35D: Academic honor (DEAN'S LIST); 38D: True-blue (LOYAL); 43D: Mai __: cocktail (TAI); 44D: Breaks off (CEASES); 45D: Roaches, ants, etc. (PESTS); 46D: Bowler's headache (SPLIT); 48D: Greet the day (RISE); 49D: Cocksure Aesopian racer (HARE); 51D: Outback runners (EMUS); 52D: O'Hara home (TARA); 53D: Action film gun (UZI); 56D: Gen-__: boomer's kid, usually (X'ER).


MONDAY, Nov. 23, 2009 — Joan Buell

THEME: From The Waist Down ... — pieces of clothing with body parts in their names

Well the SHIN and ANKLE are part of the LEG, and the HIP is not even part of the leg, but all the articles of clothing do cover roughly the area just about your ANKLE at a minimum, so I guess they have that in common. I hit 17A: Beatles footwear and thought I was going to run smack into yet another BEATLES puzzle today (see NYT), but no. Which is fine by me.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Beatles footwear (ANKLE BOOTS) — I did not know this was a signature piece of Beatles wear.
  • 10D: Goalie's protective pair (SHIN GUARDS) — all soccer players wore these when I played as a kid. Very necessary.
  • 30D: Pants with a low waistline (HIP HUGGERS)
  • 66A: Stockinglike workout wear (LEG WARMERS) — mmm, 80s. My sister owned some of these. Actually, my daughter owns some now and loves them. She's 9, which may be how old my sister was when she had hers.

Crosswordese 101: EARLAP (49D: Winter hat feature) — My lab does this to my shepherd/husky. That is, she laps her ears. If you are like me (and why wouldn't you be), the first time you saw this word, you wondered where the "F" had got to. For some reason, both EARLAP and EARFLAP are perfectly acceptable words for describing the same phenomenon, i.e. those dorky yet oh-so-comfortable appendages on your winter hat.

What else?

  • 41A: WWII noncombat females (WAACS) — I thought it was WACS. And ... it was. I read a description explaining the difference and still didn't understand. The WAACs (Women's Army Auxiliary Corps) were British and active in WWI. Then somehow briefly there was a WAAC in 1942 in the U.S. that then became just the WAC (Women's Army Corps). There was only one year of WAAC in U.S. (1942-43). So ... I don't think I like this answer.
  • 14A: Psychic's card (TAROT) — like this better as a "deck" rather than just a "card."
  • 37D: Hawaiian island (MAUI) — had the "A" and put in OAHU!
  • 40A: Like the diving-board end (DEEP) — feels like "... of the pool" was left off the clue.
  • 53D: Tequila plant (AGAVE) — used to sweeten at least one of my breakfast cereals.
  • 13D: Anne of "Archie Bunker's Place" (MEARA) — I never watched this "All in the Family" sequel, but I do love Anne MEARA for her recurring role on Rhoda, among other things...

See you Friday,


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Everything Else — 1A: Closes in anger, as a door (SLAMS); 6A: Cause damage to (HARM); 10A: Cover for a pillow (SHAM); 14A: Psychic's card (TAROT); 15A: Belle man (BEAU); 16A: Watering aid (HOSE); 17A: Beatles footwear (ANKLE BOOTS); 19A: Ancient Andean (INCA); 20A: In a dishonorable way (BASELY); 21A: Japanese electronics giant (NEC); 22A: Pinot __ (NOIR); 23A: Country meadow (LEA); 25A: Spanish wine punch (SANGRIA); 27A: Seasoned pros (OLD HANDS); 32A: The "T" in some fraternity initials (TAU); 33A: 503, in old Rome (DIII); 34A: Casa kitchen crock (OLLA); 36A: Half a '60s pop group (MAMAS); 40A: Like the diving-board end (DEEP); 41A: WWII noncombat females (WAACS); 43A: Sitar music (RAGA); 44A: Seaweed-wrapped Japanese fare (SUSHI); 46A: Analogy phrase (IS TO); 47A: Contest with pistols (DUEL); 48A: Put into service (USE); 50A: Sledding spot (HILLSIDE); 52A: Word game involving a stick figure (HANGMAN); 56A: "No way, laddie!" ("NAE!"); 57A: Highly excited (AGOG); 58A: Edge of a hoop (RIM); 60A: Double-checks the math (RE-ADDS); 65A: Copenhagen native (DANE); 66A: Stockinglike workout wear (LEGWARMERS); 68A: At any time (EVER); 69A: Apex (ACME); 70A: Words after have or save (A SEAT); 71A: Stage constructions (SETS); 72A: Sampras of tennis (PETE); 73A: Burial places (TOMBS); 1D: Wild guess (STAB); 2D: Superboy's girlfriend Lang (LANA); 3D: Boats like Noah's (ARKS); 4D: Beauty mark (MOLE); 5D: "A Streetcar Named Desire" woman (STELLA); 6D: "Real Time With Bill Maher" network (HBO); 7D: Really long time (AEON); 8D: Interest percentages (RATES); 9D: Oman's capital (MUSCAT); 10D: Goalie's protective pair (SHINGUARDS); 11D: "Objection, Your __!" (HONOR); 12D: Computer text code (ASCII); 13D: Anne of "Archie Bunker's Place" (MEARA); 18D: "See ya later" ("BYE NOW"); 24D: Stevenson who lost twice to Eisenhower (ADLAI); 26D: "Apocalypse Now" setting, briefly (NAM); 27D: Bettor's concern (ODDS); 28D: Stead (LIEU); 29D: Fizzles out (DIES); 30D: Pants with a low waistline (HIP HUGGERS); 31D: Cut dramatically (SLASH); 35D: Join the cast of (ACT IN); 37D: Hawaiian island (MAUI); 38D: Got on in years (AGED); 39D: Bargain hunter's delight (SALE); 42D: Sporty Toyota Camry (SOLARA); 45D: Suffix with intellectual (ISM); 49D: Winter hat feature (EARLAP); 51D: Eye lasciviously (LEER AT); 52D: Mythological underworld (HADES); 53D: Tequila plant (AGAVE); 54D: Octet plus one (NONET); 55D: Dad's brother's daughter, to dad (NIECE); 59D: Corp. leadership gp. (MGMT.); 61D: "I __ busted!" (AMSO); 62D: Judge (DEEM); 63D: Colorless (DRAB); 64D: Retd. Air France fliers (SSTS); 67D: Like early morning hours (WEE).