SUNDAY, February 28, 2010 — Peter Wentz (syndicated)

Theme: "Gross Income" — Theme answers are familiar phrases with the letter string ICK added to them, creating wacky phrases which are 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:
  • 22A: Martial artist's autobiography? (THE KICKING AND I).
  • 37A: Protest against fiery roadsters? (RED CAR PICKET).
  • 57A: Really cool security device? (WICKED LOCK).
  • 78A: Price tag in the meat department? (HAM STICKER).
  • 93A: Communication from perverts? (SICKO'S SIGNAL).
  • 113A: Competition for greased-up pooches? (SLICKED DOG RACE).
  • 16D: Preserved a liquor bottle? (PICKLED THE FIFTH).
  • 44D: Aggressive policy to increase box office sales? (TICKET OFFENSIVE).
I enjoyed this one as much as I can enjoy a Sunday puzzle. (They're just so big.) Solid theme, some great theme answers — I especially liked THE KICKING AND I and PICKLED THE FIFTH — and not a whole lot of crosswordese. Throw in some tricky cluing and overall, I'd call this one a good Sunday workout.

  • 20A: Bob Hope Airport city (BURBANK). Learn something new every day.
  • 24A: Combo wager (EXACTA). An exacta bet is when you predict the first- and second-place finishers in order.
  • 26A: 1973 Stones ballad (ANGIE). A personal favorite.
  • 29A: Short timetable? (SKED). I've been doing a lot of puzzles the last couple days, catching up on a bunch of puzzles from this past month. Seems like SKED is in all of them.
  • 32A: Foofaraw (ADO). Foofaraw is an awesome word.
  • 47A: Try to keep, as a title (DEFEND). Guess who will be defending a national champion title in a couple weeks. That's right! The Iowa Hawkeye wrestling team — can't wait!
  • 49A: Madden coached them in the '70s (RAIDERS). This is funny. I didn't know that Madden was a coach. I don't know where I thought he came from, or why he acted so much like a coach, but it just never occurred to me. Weird.
  • 69A: Boxing writer Fleischer (NAT). Never heard of this guy. Nat Turner, Nat King Cole, Nat Hentoff, sure. Nat Fleischer? No.
  • 81A: LL Cool J label (DEF JAM). Ladies Love Cool James.
  • 90A: That ship (HER). Anyone know why ships are female?
  • 107A: "__ the Boys": Katy Perry album (ONE OF). Eight-year-old PuzzleDaughter was running around the house singing a Katy Perry song the other day. Yes, that Katy Perry song. *sigh*
  • 2D: Doff a bowler (UNHAT). "Doff a bowler" sounds vaguely dirty.
  • 14D: Latin king (REX). All Hail the King!!
  • 18D: Hipster's accessory (SHADES).
  • 34D: Summer refresher (ICE TEA). Yes, yes, I know, I know, it should be iced, blah blah blah ….
  • 43D: Drink named for a football team (GATORADE). Another thing I did not know. The Florida Gators? Did you guys know that?
  • 72D: Convention booths (KIOSKS). Because of the theme there are an awful lot of Ks in this grid. And this is an awesome K-licious word.
  • 76D: Director Howard (RON). Weird to think of him as a grown-up person. I bet some peope can't get past Opie. He's stuck in his teens for me.
  • 82D: Bowie at the Alamo (JIM).
  • 95D: "Nothing Compares 2 U" singer O'Connor (SINEAD). Remake of a Prince song. Two other popular songs you might not know are Prince songs: Chaka Khan's "I Feel for You" and Cyndi Lauper's "When You Were Mine."
  • 108D: Flat beer's lack (FOAM). Ew.
  • 115D: "Take This Job and Shove It" songwriter David Allan __ (COE). (There's one bad word in this video around 2:45.)

I do want to spend some time talking about Merl's puzzle today, but I have to do a few things around the house first. I'll be back later!

Crosswordese 101: If you need to know one SNL alum for crossword puzzles it's not Jon Belushi or Chevy Chase or even Gilda Radner. No, you need to know Cheri OTERI. Look at that name. It's perfect for puzzles. If she's not familiar to you, the good news is pretty much all you need to know is that she was on Saturday Night Live, where she performed in the cheerleader skits with Will Ferrell, and she was in "Scary Movie." Easy, right?

Everything Else — 1A: Kept afloat (BUOYED); 7A: Big sizes (JUMBOS); 13A: Things drawn across windows (DRAPES); 19A: Like books for long-distance road trips (ON TAPE); 21A: Savor (RELISH); 25A: "Attention!" ("HARK!"); 27A: Columnist Bombeck (ERMA); 30A: Theater level (TIER); 33A: Formal orders (DICTUMS); 36A: "College GameDay" football analyst Corso (LEE); 40A: Neruda works (POEMS); 42A: ATF employee (AGT.); 45A: Like dried soil (CAKY); 46A: Emotional work (ODE); 51A: Pirate riches (BOOTY); 53A: When Hamlet feigns insanity (ACT TWO); 56A: Not marked up (AT COST); 60A: Mortar trough (HOD); 61A: "Classic" drinks (COKES); 62A: "The queen of sciences": Gauss (MATH); 63A: Thought-revealing drama techniques (ASIDES); 64A: Genre of the band Fall Out Boy (EMO); 65A: Charlemagne's reign: Abbr. (HRE); 66A: Come out with (SAY); 67A: Check for authenticity (VET); 68A: Sibs, uncs, etc. (FAM); 70A: Piercing cry (SHRIEK); 73A: Storage facility (SHED); 75A: Curing solution (BRINE); 77A: Vow after reading vows (I DO); 80A: Entrepreneur's goal (PROFIT); 83A: Actor Feldman or Haim (COREY); 84A: Jewish pancake (BLINTZE); 85A: Alarm setting for one with a paper route, maybe (FIVE AM); 88A: Strew seed (SOW); 89A: Globule (BEAD); 91A: __ brulée: custard dessert (CREME); 97A: Over there, back when (YON); 98A: Gear on the slopes (SKI MASK); 100A: Google had one in Aug. 2004 (IPO); 101A: W. Coast enforcer (LAPD); 104A: Letter sign-off (BEST); 106A: Organic compound (ENOL); 109A: Didn't hold, as dyes (BLED); 111A: It'll put you under (OPIATE); 117A: Energizes (REVS UP); 118A: Sky lights (AURORAS); 119A: "Knocked Up" director Judd (APATOW); 120A: Does an usher's job (GREETS); 121A: Football bettor's concern (SPREAD); 122A: Buds at sea (MATEYS); 1D: Inclusive choice (BOTH); 3D: Castmate of Gasteyer, Ferrell et al. (OTERI); 4D: Gas bag (YAKKER); 5D: Dermal opening (EPI-); 6D: Prefix with -gon (DECA); 7D: Son (JUNIOR); 8D: Impulse (URGE); 9D: W.'s degree (MBA); 10D: Blackball (BAN); 11D: Batting next (ON DECK); 12D: Got around (SKIRTED); 13D: Night vision? (DREAM); 15D: "Unfortunately ..." ("ALAS …"); 17D: High regard (ESTEEM); 20D: It may be circled on a calendar (BIG DAY); 23D: Special gifts (KNACKS); 28D: Remote control? (MUTE); 31D: Break (RECESS); 33D: Got a B-minus, say (DID OK); 35D: Traces (SPECKS); 38D: Tavern flier (DART); 39D: Hound (POOCH); 41D: Niagara Falls prov. (ONT.); 42D: Spider, e.g. (ARACHNID); 48D: Phase (FACET); 50D: John or Jane (DOE); 51D: Series of jokes (BIT); 52D: Football stat. (YDS.); 54D: Emulate Don Juan (WOMANIZE); 55D: Gas mileage calculating aid (ODOMETER); 57D: Can't tell which __ up (WAY IS); 58D: Onions partner (LIVER); 59D: Had too much (OD'ED); 62D: Old school add-on? (MARM); 66D: Humiliate (SHAME); 70D: They may be close (SHAVES); 71D: And so forth: Abbr. (ETC.); 73D: Misrepresents (SKEWS); 74D: "I'm talking to you!" ("HEY!"); 75D: Like some gowns (BRIDAL); 79D: Swindler (CROOK); 80D: Seating __ (PLAN); 84D: Parent's reminder (BE GOOD); 86D: J __ Juliet (AS IN); 87D: Brunch drinks (MIMOSAS); 89D: Humans and ostriches, e.g. (BIPEDS); 91D: Many a sci-fi villain (CYBORG); 92D: Former "At the Movies" co-host (ROEPER); 94D: Bring to the majors (CALL UP); 96D: Experimental runner (LAB RAT); 99D: Stays fresh (KEEPS); 102D: Fundraising dinner unit (PLATE); 103D: Plastic duck, e.g. (DECOY); 105D: Subdue by shocking (TASE); 107D: Fried Cajun veggie (OKRA); 110D: Mountain __: sodas (DEWS); 112D: King whose tomb was found in 1922 (TUT); 114D: Bargain bin abbr. (IRR.); 116D: College résumé fig. (GPA).


SATURDAY, February 27, 2010—Brad Wilber

THEME: No theme today—It's a themeless/freestyle puzzle

We're back within range of the usual Saturday L.A. Times crossword's difficulty level—this one took me as long as a Wednesday-to-Thursday NYT puzzle. There's some odd fill that requires reliance on the crossings (yes, even for the world's 13th best solver of American crosswords), and there are some clues that venture far afield of mere definitions. (Such clues tend to be my favorites.)

I said hi to Brad Wilber at the ACPT and told him that although plenty of people have called him their nemesis lately, I don't think he's that tough. And I don't. If you handle the other constructors you encounter here on a Saturday, you can tackle Brad. Don't be scared! He's totally non-scary in person. He's a librarian, for Pete's sake. You're not going to be afraid of a librarian who's not going to fine you for returning a book late, are you? (Photo by ACPT photographer Don Christensen. That's Brad on the left clinking glasses with Bruce Venzke, who had last Saturday's LAT crossword byline. No, wait. Brad is clinking with a salt shaker. Bottoms up!)

Cool stuff:
  • 1A: [Game with a hollow ball] (TABLE TENNIS). That clue doesn't narrow things down much, does it?
  • 15A: [Unexpected nickname of a Hughes Aircraft plane built mostly of birch] (SPRUCE GOOSE). That's Howard Hughes. I missed the recent(ish) movie in which Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed Hughes.
  • 17A: [It won't go out] (TRICK CANDLE). Infuriating when trick candles delay one's attack on a birthday cake!
  • 21A: [Hypothetical links] (APEMEN). As in "the missing link."
  • 24A: [Annual event won five times by Fred Couples] (SKINS GAME). This is one of those golf things I've heard of but don't understand.
  • 47A: [Men's periodical, in British slang] (LAD MAG). I wasn't sure if this was LAD MAG or LAD RAG. I think the term glad rags muddled my head.
  • 10D: [1975 Elton John chart-topper] ("ISLAND GIRL"). YouTube time!

  • 13D, 50D: [El Capitan's locale] (YOSEMITE) and [Natural steam source] (GEYSER). "I'll take National Parks of the West for $1,000, Alex."
  • 22D: [Anti-intellectual epithet] (EGGHEAD). I don't care for anti-intellectualism.
  • 29D: [Sunkist offering] (ORANGE SODA). No! Orange likes Diet Coke.
  • 36D: [Holey vessel] (COLANDER). Love this clue!

Weird stuff:
  • 34A: [Table d'___] (HOTE). Ouch. Don't want to find yourself with no choice but to use "table" in a clue when TABLE TENNIS makes itself quite obvious at 1A.
  • 39A: [Upset winner at the 1992 Kentucky Derby] (LILETEE). Wha...? That's Lil E. Tee, apparently. Horse racing trivia is tied with nautical terminology for my least favorite crossword fill.
  • 8D: [Demand-based, briefly, as charter plane services] (NON-SKED). Any of you ever hear this word before? I haven't. Between 39A and 8D...oy.
  • 53D: [Fox hunt cry] (HALLO). "Hallo"? Does this go with "tally-ho"? Onward, to the dictionary! Dictionary says HALLO is a variant of "halloo," which is an exclamation "used to incite dogs to the chase during a hunt." There you have it.
  • 57D: [Opp. of a petitioner, in court] (RESP.). Respondent? To me, RESP. is short for respiration or respiratory, but I don't know that those are accepted abbreviations. Dictionary tells me resp. means respondent, respective(ly), or respelled. Respelled? That means "spell a word again or differently, esp. phonetically in order to indicate its pronunciation." Okay, so I'm glad RESP wasn't clued with that sense.
Crosswordese 101: One of my favorite clues today, 54A: ["Yo, Hadrian!"], takes us to the Latin greeting AVE. Much of the time, this is clued as the abbreviation AVE., short for "avenue," or as the fill-in-the-blank hymn ["___ Maria"]. If you see a clue tying a greeting for Hadrian, Caesar, the Forum, or a generic "old"/"bygone" era, it's AVE you want.


FRIDAY, Feb. 26, 2010 — Doug Peterson

THEME: CHIN! — or maybe CHON, as "CH-" goes "on" to the ends of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, etc.

A Doug Peterson Friday goes down in 4:07!? Am I dreaming? Is the snow covering my house, car, dogs, etc. magical? Magical speed-solving snow? (note to self: call cocaine people with new sales pitch idea) I was actually disappointed to have so little trouble with this one, as Doug Peterson is one of the best constructors around and his puzzles are almost always a joy to solve, even when they are Newsday Saturday Stumpers that take me the better part of an hour. This isn't the most interesting theme in the world, and the resulting theme answers are just OK, but I wish constructors would study Doug's grids to see the care that goes into them. This grid is absolutely devoid of made-up, iffy, "it's-*kind*-of-a-word" crap. Any grid with lots of three- and four-letter words is going to have boring stuff, and some repeaters (crosswordese) — that's OK. What's not OK is the stuff that makes you *wince*, esp. when said stuff is patently unnecessary. The cleanness of Doug's grids separates him from other constructors who just churn it out and coast on the (presumed) cuteness of their themes.

Today, everywhere you look, real words. Abbrevs. are few and solid. Ditto prefixes. Longish Downs are all at least interesting, and I really like HERCULEAN (11D: Requiring superhuman effort), WHITERICE (32D: Jambalaya basic), and PUBLICAN (38D: Tavern keeper). Also, RUB (46A: Meat seasoning mixture) / BURP (43D: Tupperware sound) intersection is cute in that it reminds me of burping a baby, and SCREW (48D: Thread site) / SHIRE (56A: Talia of "The Godfather") — or SCREW / LOEWE (62A: "Brigadoon" composer), depending on your temperament — has an enjoyable dynamic oomph.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Taking pictures of potatoes and pasta? (SHOOTING STARCH)
  • 30A: Trapdoor in an Old West saloon? (COWBOY HATCH)
  • 40A: Group of show-offs? (HOT DOG BUNCH)
  • 54A: Spiel from a maestro? (ORCHESTRA PITCH)

Crosswordese 101: ASAHI (2D: Leading Japanese brewery) — 60% vowels, short word ending in "I" — those two qualities make this a valuable (if not overwhelmingly common) crossword answer, one you are apt to see on mid-to-late-week puzzles. I was lucky today, as I had an ASAHI at a soba noodle joint in Manhattan less than a week ago, so it sprang straight to mind. Apparently both Matsui and Dice-K dig the taste — check 'em out, slugging and drinking, pitching and slugging and drinking and smiling...

What else?

  • 1A: Predatory group (PACK) — got it right off the bat, no crosses. I often have wolves on the brain.
  • 25A: DJIA part: Abbr. (AVG.) — dear god please never ever ever let "DJIA" appear in a puzzle — stands for Dow Jones Industrial AVG.
  • 37A: Lee who founded the Shakers (ANN) — yay, I remembered this time. Boo, I thought it had some weird spelling like "ANE."
  • 30D: Crunch's rank (CAP'N) — awesome clue that took me many passes to understand. Had the same issue (though less enjoyably) with SCREW (48D: Thread site).

See you Monday.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Predatory group (PACK); 5A: Grifter's ploy (SCAM); 9A: Jerk (SCHMO); 14A: Stadium near Citi Field (ASHE); 15A: Pear, for one (POME); 16A: From the other side (THEIR); 17A: Topical treatment (BALM); 18A: Bring down (RUIN); 19A: Has coming (EARNS); 20A: Taking pictures of potatoes and pasta? (SHOOTING STARCH); 23A: Has a connection with (TIES INTO); 24A: Diamond brothers' surname (ALOU); 25A: DJIA part: Abbr. (AVG.); 26A: PC key under Z (ALT); 27A: Circuit (LAP); 30A: Trapdoor in an Old West saloon? (COWBOY HATCH); 35A: "Baudolino" novelist (ECO); 36A: Massage target (ACHE); 37A: Lee who founded the Shakers (ANN); 38A: Ink holders (PADS); 39A: Sixers, on a scoreboard (PHI); 40A: Group of show-offs? (HOTDOG BUNCH); 44A: "Kidding!" ("NOT!"); 45A: Project's conclusion? (ILE); 46A: Meat seasoning mixture (RUB); 47A: Chiseled abbr. (ESTD.); 49A: Like radon (ODORLESS); 54A: Spiel from a maestro? (ORCHESTRAPITCH); 56A: Talia of "The Godfather" (SHIRE); 57A: Harrow rival (ETON); 58A: Sound after ah (CHOO); 59A: Less brusque (NICER); 60A: Kevin's "Tin Cup" co-star (RENE); 61A: In a bit, poetically (ANON); 62A: "Brigadoon" composer (LOEWE); 63A: Sibling, in dialect (BRER); 64A: Casual dissent (NOPE); 1D: Brewer Frederick (PABST); 2D: Leading Japanese brewery (ASAHI); 3D: Lover of Daphnis (CHLOE); 4D: Friend in old Westerns? (KEMOSABE); 5D: Elastic (SPRINGY); 6D: Matter (COUNT); 7D: Pl·cido's pal (AMIGO); 8D: Retail store department (MENS); 9D: Tiger's asset (STEALTH); 10D: "Cuchi-cuchi" entertainer (CHARO); 11D: Requiring superhuman effort (HERCULEAN); 12D: Ho Chi __ City (MINH); 13D: Hosp. areas (ORS); 21D: Record, in a way (TIVO); 22D: Powder source (TALC); 26D: "... __ additional cost to you!" (AT NO); 28D: Elec. designation (AC/DC); 29D: Ritzy (POSH); 30D: Crunch's rank (CAP'N); 31D: Cuatro doubled (OCHO); 32D: Jambalaya basic (WHITE RICE); 33D: Find repugnant (HATE); 34D: So-so center? (AND); 38D: Tavern keeper (PUBLICAN); 40D: "Howdy!" ("HI THERE!"); 41D: Shoppe modifier (OLDE); 42D: Pun, often (GROANER); 43D: Tupperware sound (BURP); 48D: Thread site (SCREW); 49D: Weasel relative (OTTER); 50D: Mindless worker (DRONE); 51D: Prefix with centric (ETHNO-); 52D: Exclusive story (SCOOP); 53D: Performed superbly (SHONE); 54D: Wheeling's river (OHIO); 55D: Balkan native (SERB); 56D: Show with a "Weekend Update" segment, briefly (SNL).


THURSDAY, February 25, 2010 — Gary Steinmehl

Theme: Head to Head (to Head) — Theme answers are three-word phrases where each of the three words can precede the word head in a familiar phrase.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Detectives assigned to unsolved mysteries? (COLD-CASE HUNTERS).
  • 38A: Intermission queues? (RESTROOM LINES).
  • 61A: Shower gifts for brie lovers? (CHEESEBOARD SETS).
  • 65A: Word that can precede each word in 17-, 38- and 61-Across (HEAD).
Super-quick write-up today. Ever since I started working again, I've been totally behind on everything. Add in a four-day escape from all my responsibilities and, yeah, I may never catch up. Speaking of the ACPT, I got a note from Andrea yesterday suggesting that I not tell you the rest of the cell-phone story. She said it's perfect just the way it is. I will divulge that the story also involves Tyler Hinman and Tony Orbach's daughter, but I think that's all I'm going to say on that one.

Liked this puzzle very much. I'm pretty sure we just had a puzzle recently where the theme worked like this one except that the theme answers were two-word phrases. I remember it because I didn't get it that the theme involved both words. *head slap* So, yeah, good theme. Theme phrases aren't sparkly at all, but I still thought it was fun to try to put them together. And the rest of the fill was very good. One or two clunkers — "Just a coupla SECS"?!? — but overall, good stuff.

  • 16A: Court cry (OYEZ). Love this word. It always makes me think of "Night Court," which I never watched regularly and I don't even know if the bailiff (what was his name again?) ever used this particular cry.
  • 26A: Quarterback Roethlisberger (BEN). Crosswords really do help you know stuff without really knowing it, right? No idea what team this guy plays for or anything, but his name popped right into my head.
  • 33A: Siesta shawl (SERAPE). Let's start a new fashion trend.
  • 44A: Ring setting (CIRCUS). Was listening to the PuzzleFamiliy watching "Jeopardy!" in the other room last night and heard an answer that was about a Vegas casino that was "so nice they named it twice." I blurted out "Circus Circus!" Um, no.
  • 2D: Kay Thompson's impish six-year-old (ELOISE). Again with the knowing and not knowing. PuzzleHusband asked me the other day if I knew anything about this series of books. I said she lives in the Plaza Hotel. He's all, "What do you mean, lives there? Do people live there?" I don't know! I just do crossword puzzles!
  • 3D: Mobile maker (CALDER).
  • 29D: House call? (YEA). As in "yeas and nays." This is the only possible interpretation for this particular spelling. Yea ≠ Yeah ≠ Ya. Seriously.
  • 48D: Actress Dahl (ARLENE). I don't know who this is. I'm sure someone will enlighten me in the comments.
Everything Else — 1A: Quick kiss (PECK); 5A: Bond player, seven times (MOORE); 10A: Confiscated auto (REPO); 14A: End of a fronton game? (ALAI); 15A: Back list (INDEX); 20A: Buddy boy (KIDDO); 21A: Calls, in a way (RADIOS); 22A: Waste not (USE); 23A: Navig. guide (GPS); 27A: Stable diet? (HAY); 30A: Soak through (PERMEATE); 35A: Local groups (UNIONS); 37A: Start of a theory (IDEA); 42A: Hawaii's "Valley Isle" (MAUI); 43A: Midwestern landscape (PLAINS); 47A: Carrying capacities (ARMLOADS); 51A: Pavement warning (SLO); 52A: Word processor setting (TAB); 54A: Mad Hatter's drink (TEA); 55A: Fjord relative (RIA); 56A: Like some bio majors (PRE-MED); 59A: Daphne eloped with him on "Frasier" (NILES); 66A: Crucial artery (AORTA); 67A: Regarding, to counsel (IN RE); 68A: Fesses (up) (OWNS); 69A: Watch secretly (SPY ON); 70A: "Just a coupla __" (SECS); 1D: Get ready to go (PACK UP); 4D: William the pirate (KIDD); 5D: Hamm of soccer (MIA); 6D: Switch positions (ONS); 7D: River forming part of Germany's eastern border (ODER); 8D: Betty Ford Center program (REHAB); 9D: Oozes out (EXUDES); 10D: Prefix with tiller (ROTO-); 11D: Sleeping aid (EYESHADE); 12D: A pop (PER); 13D: Jigger's 1-1/2: Abbr. (OZS); 18D: Clear and convincing (COGENT); 19D: High Court count (NINE); 24D: Poker holding (PAIR); 25D: Condescend (STOOP); 28D: Big louts (APES); 31D: Partner of words (MUSIC); 32D: Gay leader? (ENOLA); 34D: Unilever laundry soap brand (RINSO); 36D: Like a whip? (SMART); 38D: Train guide (RAIL); 39D: Continental (EUROPEAN); 40D: Gin and tonic garnish (LIME); 41D: Away from the coast (INLAND); 42D: Roast hosts, for short (MCS); 45D: Sport __: family vehicles (UTES); 46D: Equal to, with "the" (SAME AS); 49D: No-calorie cola (DIET RC); 50D: Gets fresh with (SASSES); 53D: Dizzy's jazz (BEBOP); 57D: Wine list heading (REDS); 58D: Fishing craft (DORY); 60D: Cow-horned goddess (ISIS); 61D: Comic Margaret (CHO); 62D: Cut off (HEW); 63D: From __ B: basic step (A TO); 64D: Fled or bled (RAN).


WEDNESDAY, February 24, 2010—Scott Atkinson

THEME: "Hardware Party"—Four answers begin with FASTENers used in non-hardware contexts

Theme entries:
  • 17A: [*Stable storage enclosure] (TACK ROOM). It wasn't until the crossings gave me this answer that I realized "stable" was the noun (a horse barn) and not an adjective.
  • 61A: [*Benjamin Button portrayer] (BRAD PITT). That's an attractive human being there.
  • 10D: [*Wacko] (SCREWBALL). Remember those ice-cream truck Screwballs, the paper cone of sherbet with a gumball in the bottom? Oh, how I loved those as a kid. As a mom? Turns out Screwballs taste nasty.
  • 34D: [*Game that goes down to the wire] (NAIL-BITER). Now, that's a terrific entry clued that way. It's less appealing if clued as [Cuticle gnawer], no?
  • 60A: [Attach, perhaps with hardware that begins the answers to starred clues] (FASTEN).
This one is roughly par for the Wednesday-level difficulty course, or maybe a notch easier.

Like PuzzleGirl and Rex, I am tiiiired after the crossword tournament. It's total sensory overload: I stay up late, I get up early, and I spend most of my waking moments in group settings. If past years have taught me anything, it's that it'll take me a solid week to feel caught up on sleep. The exhaustion is definitely worth it, though—I had a blast.

What all is in this puzzle? This:
  • 29A. [Letter-shaped hardware] (U-BOLT). What the hell? You're hardware. You can probably help FASTEN things. What are you doing loafing in this puzzle? Get to work and find a way to support the theme. (Vague theme idea: a group of famous people whose names are bracketed by hardware. USAIN BOLT! I might try to come up with more, but I'm really not a fan of that sort of theme so why perpetrate another one on the world?
  • 33A. [Chinese currency] (YUAN). When I see people talking about prices of things in China, they use RMB, not yuan. Apparently the Chinese yuan and renminbi, or RMB, are basically the same thing.
  • In case you always wondered how to spell a 43A. [Laugh from a Stooge], it's NYUK.
  • 56A. [Mötley Crüe's two] (UMLAUTS). No, those words are not German. Did you try to squeeze NIKKI SIXX AND VINCE NEIL into seven squares? And can yøü actüally bear to wätch this whöle video?

  • 6D. [Cobbler's concern] (SHOE). Do you have trouble with your peach cobbler? Does the crust take on the consistency of shoe leather?
  • 39D. [Sudden-braking result] (SKID MARK). Heh. Anyone else snickering here?
  • 59D. [Train sched. list] (STNS). STA. is a much more common abbreviation for "station" than STN., and then we're getting it pluralized here? Meh.
Crosswordese 101: DINAR

Today's clue is 50D: [Iraqi money]. The DINAR is also used in many other countries, including Kuwait, Jordan, Libya, and Bahrain. The hitch is that there's another 5-letter Middle Eastern currency, and it shares the same vowels: the RIYAL. The RIYAL has been clued as the money of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Yemen. Mind you, that one can also be spelled without the Y: RIAL. Which is not to be confused with the Cambodian unit of currency called the RIEL. Be aware that all four of these currency names may show up, and let the crossings distinguish between them if you're not in the mood to study lists of the countries that use each currency.

Everything Else — 1A: Mesmerized (RAPT); 5A: Medicinal amt. (TSP.); 8A: Fenway Park city (BOSTON); 14A: "East of Eden" director Kazan (ELIA); 15A: "__ Do You Love?": Bo Diddley classic (WHO); 16A: Concert bonus (ENCORE); 19A: They save the day (HEROES); 20A: Affliction (DISEASE); 21A: Be scared to (DARE NOT); 22A: Bank acct. entry (INT.); 23A: Symbol on several keys (ARROW); 24A: No __: menu notice (MSG); 27A: Company featuring cavemen in its ads (GEICO); 35A: Play thing (PROP); 36A: It's a wrap (SARAN); 37A: Mrs. Peel of "The Avengers" (EMMA); 38A: Arias, e.g. (SOLOS); 40A: Plastic surgeon's offering, for short (LIPO); 41A: "Ghostbusters" co-writer Harold (RAMIS); 44A: In unfamiliar territory, maybe (LOST); 45A: Dandruff site (SCALP); 46A: Commonly cluttered room (ATTIC); 48A: Maiden name lead-in (NÉE); 49A: Reward for merit (BADGE); 51A: Egg carton no. (DOZ.); 53A: Great Plains terrain (PRAIRIE); 62A: Fellini's realm (CINEMA); 63A: Site of the smallest bone in the body (EAR); 64A: Lowly worker (PEON); 65A: Sleep apnea sufferer, often (SNORER); 66A: The Hartford logo (ELK); 67A: Egyptian snakes (ASPS); 1D: Former gen.'s status (RETD.); 2D: Jai __ (ALAI); 3D: Cam's output (PICS); 4D: Sulu portrayer on "Star Trek" (TAKEI); 5D: Lively "Texas" dances (TWO-STEPS); 7D: Spitz-type dog, for short (POM); 8D: Joy of "The View" (BEHAR); 9D: Burdensome (ONEROUS); 11D: Ren or Stimpy, e.g. (TOON); 12D: Its creme may be eaten first (OREO); 13D: Hornet's home (NEST); 18D: Tolled (RANG); 21D: Fail to finish school (DROP OUT); 23D: Altar boy (ACOLYTE); 24D: Clinton press secretary Dee Dee (MYERS); 25D: "Poison" shrub (SUMAC); 26D: Beta follower (GAMMA); 28D: Early metalworking period (IRON AGE); 30D: Belted constellation (ORION); 31D: Forgetful moment (LAPSE); 32D: Conservative IRA asset (T-NOTE); 42D: "I don't want to hear the rest" ("SPARE ME"); 47D: More than chilly (COLD); 52D: Rock artist Frank (ZAPPA); 53D: Cpls.' underlings (PFCS); 54D: Picnic spoiler (RAIN); 55D: "It will come __ surprise" (AS NO); 56D: River through southern Russia (URAL); 57D: One-eighties (UIES); 58D: Corvette roof option (T-TOP); 61D: Blossom visitor (BEE).


TUESDAY, February 23, 2010 — Joy C. Frank

Theme: People that Like Something (this is how tired I am) — The second word of the two-word theme answers is a synonym for someone that really likes something (and again with the tired).

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Devotee of a Sistine Chapel feature? (CEILING FAN).
  • 24A: Devotee of green ice cream? (PISTACHIO NUT).
  • 44A: Devotee of thunderstorms? (LIGHTNING BUG).
  • 54A: Devotee of a classical language? (LATIN LOVER).
I'm exhausted. Completely beat. I got very little sleep this weekend up at the crossword puzzle tournament (more than Orange, but still). Saturday night around 1:00 I got up from my chair in the lounge, said good-night, and was about halfway to the door when Doug Peterson caught me: "You can't leave now. Ryan and Brian are still here." He makes a good point.

Best story of the weekend for me? I left my phone in the bathroom at the hotel bar and really the only reason I got it back is because Andrea Carla Michaels gave Elizabeth's chicken to a blind man on the subway. That's the kind of crazy weekend it was. I must remember next year to take the Monday off as well. I could have definitely used another day to recover before going back to a place where people expect me to work hard and be efficient. I intend to do a full write-up of the tournament for you all, but there's no way I can do it today.

The puzzle? Frankly, I enjoyed it very much. (See what I did there? Too much Merl.) Awesome, awesome theme. I don't recall seeing it before. Okay, CEILING FAN isn't the most exciting entry, but for some reason the rest of them tickled me.

Just poke me if I start snoring:
  • 1A: Have status (RATE). Ya know who has some serious status after this weekend? That's right: Dan Feyer. It was amazing to watch him tear through that final puzzle. The man is a freak of nature.
  • 38A: Top of the glass (BRIM).

  • 2D: Suit toppers (ACES). Suits as in clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades.
  • 6D: Special lingo (ARGOT). I always have trouble with this word. It seems like it should mean something else. Like some kind of snail or maybe a small piece of treasure. (Random!)
  • 13D: Best man's offer (TOAST). I tried rings first.
  • 33D: Rock star Clapton (ERIC).

  • 35D: Metal band's equipment (AMPS). I believe several other types of bands use AMPS as well.
Crosswordese 101: I usually only do a round-up when I'm super short on time, but today, I swear, every word I thought was a candidate for CW101 is one we've already covered. Plus there were two CW101 words in the clues. So, let's review:
  • 19A: Charles Lamb's nom de plume (ELIA).
  • 39A: __ out: barely make (EKE).
  • 42A: Capital where "Aida" premiered (CAIRO).
  • 49A: Fish eggs (ROE).
  • 4D: Sushi choice (EEL).
  • 8D: "Bambi" doe (ENA).
  • 9D: Oater landowners (RANCHERS).
  • 55D: Class clown, often (APE).
Everything Else — 5A: Less adorned, as walls (BARER); 10A: Wordless singing style (SCAT); 14A: Land parcel unit (ACRE); 15A: Big gig venue (ARENA); 16A: Heading for a chore list (TO DO); 20A: Sixth sense, briefly (ESP); 21A: Carnival city (RIO); 22A: Portage vessels (CANOES); 27A: Final furniture coat (FINISH); 30A: Round at the tavern (BEERS); 31A: Pennsylvania Dutch group (AMISH); 32A: Buddy of Tom and Dick? (HARRY); 33A: Important time (ERA); 36A: Pop choice (COLA); 37A: Numbers after the decimal point (CENTS); 40A: Tadpoles' milieus (PONDS); 41A: Like fresh celery (CRISP); 43A: Trained animal's repertoire (TRICKS); 48A: Idolizes (ADORES); 50A: In the style of (ALA); 53A: Hand, in Juárez (MANO); 58A: "Beg pardon" ("AHEM"); 59A: Express a view (OPINE); 60A: Uncooperative contraction (WON'T); 61A: Annoyed (SORE); 62A: Looks after (TENDS); 63A: Stopping points (ENDS); 1D: Meet event (RACE); 3D: Vacation option (TRIP); 5D: Send into exile (BANISH); 7D: Arbiter with a whistle (REF); 10D: Workers with pads (STENOS); 11D: Punctuation in play dialogue (COLON); 12D: French farewell (ADIEU); 18D: Joyce's countrymen (IRISH); 23D: Like a screened porch (AIRY); 24D: Tower city (PISA); 25D: Leave high and dry (ABANDON); 26D: "Two mints in one" sloganeer (CERTS); 27D: Confront (FACE); 28D: "No harm done" ("I'M OK"); 29D: River where baby Moses was found (NILE); 32D: Artist Matisse (HENRI); 34D: Insurer's exposure (RISK); 37D: Vending machine feature (COIN SLOT); 38D: Place to hold mutineers (BRIG); 40D: Cracker spread (PATÉ); 41D: Inhumane (CRUEL); 42D: Auto trim (CHROME); 43D: Rare orders, perhaps (T-BONES); 44D: Eastern priests (LAMAS); 45D: Potato source (IDAHO); 46D: Casualty (GONER); 47D: Nine-to-five routine, to many (GRIND); 50D: Ringer of many bells (AVON); 51D: Allow to use for a while (LEND); 52D: Creative fields (ARTS); 56D: Anchovy holder (TIN); 57D: Be in the hole for (OWE).


MONDAY, Feb. 22, 2010 — Jennifer Nutt

THEME: Chill out! — four theme answers begin with adjectives meaning "informal" or "laid back"

My first day back from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Brooklyn. Here is my very brief recap (cut-and-pasted from my other blog):

Welcome back! Wait, you guys didn't go anywhere. I was the one who was away this weekend. The tournament in Brooklyn was a lot of fun, though I did not participate. That last sentence appears to make little sense, but is true nonetheless. I was on the periphery of the tournament all weekend, seeing friends and meeting new people and turning my voice recorder on at various, occasionally inappropriate times to try to capture the wisdom, eloquence, and occasionally drunken ramblings of various constructors, editors, and solvers. While the participants were solving, I went into Manhattan for soba noodles (Saturday), or slept late (Sunday). I also got to see really good friends and their brand new baby. There wasn't nearly enough time to see or talk to everyone I would have liked to. There is a new champion, as most of you know by now: Dan Feyer, a guy who trained for his first tournament by solving every crossword I ever wrote about and reading every write-up I ever wrote. One of the first things he told me two years ago was, "I'm probably the only person besides your mother who's read every word you've ever written." And now he's the champ. The other two finalists, Anne Erdmann and Howard Barkin, would have made excellent champions as well — I don't know Anne, but I do know that she was the only woman besides Ellen Ripstein to be on the stage for the finals in the past quarter century; I do know Howard, whom I met at my very first tournament three years ago and is possibly the nicest guy in the world of crosswords (populated almost exclusively by very nice people). Tyler Hinman was out of the running because of a tie-breaker rule (he finished tied for third). This was disappointing to me and a lot of people, as we would have loved to see him defend, but he was gracious in defeat and generous in his praise for Dan and got a *huge* standing ovation when he was announced as the fourth-place finisher (and, for the last time, champion of the Juniors division). It was actually pretty moving. Everyone was excited to have a new champ, but everyone still (rightly) stands in awe of Mr. Hinman's skills (and string of 5 championships in a row). Like the Terminator, he'll be back.

I heard some buzz about the upcoming Los Angeles Crossword Tournament ... will let you know as soon as I get official word about details from the (lovely and astonishingly professional) tournament organizer. Now, on to today's puzzle.

First words = synonymous. An old theme type. These answers are OK, with RELAXED HAIR providing some originality and flair, but with only four theme answers and with CASUAL and EASY not being significantly repurposed in their answers, I found this one lackluster overall. UNO CARD seemed a bit of stretch to me, in terms of its legitimacy as a self-standing answer (9D: It may direct you to skip, draw two, or reverse), but the rest of the fill was solid, if unremarkable. I actually used MEWL in a sentence the other day (describing my own behavior while in the midst of a bout with a stomach virus) (66A: Whimper). Nice word.

Theme answers:
  • 21A: Dangerously uncontrollable type (LOOSE CANNON)
  • 27A: Weekly dress-down times (CASUAL FRIDAYS) — actually had some trouble here, as to me "dress down" = berate someone for incompetence. Perhaps this is also a feature of some CASUAL FRIDAYS. So much less dignified to take abuse from the boss when you're standing there in a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops.
  • 48A: Music genre heard in elevators (EASY LISTENING)
  • 55A: Chemically treated tresses (RELAXED HAIR)
My only rough spots today involved the self-sabotage of bad handwriting. I solved on paper today, and while you can't make typos on paper, you can write so illegibly that even you have no idea what you wrote. This happened to me at least twice. I also wrote in A-ONE for 34D: Very top (ACME) and ALERO (!?!?!) for 54D: Wing: Prefix (PTERO-).

Crosswordese 101: ARLES (53D: Setting for van Gogh's "The Night Café") — if the word is in five letters and "Van Gogh" is in the clue, it's ARLES. Van Gogh moved there in the late 1880s, and found the landscape and light there hugely inspirational. About "The Night Café," van Gogh said: "I have tried to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad, or commit a crime" (wikipedia). That, my friends, is a quote, and a far cry from what (I imagine) is being "expressed" in the work of the Impressionists who preceded him.

Enjoy your day


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Everything Else — 1A: Surgery marks (SCARS); 6A: "Hawaii Five-O" setting (OAHU); 10A: Heist target (BANK); 14A: Sully (TAINT); 15A: Whirled, as a top (SPUN); 16A: Opposite of windward (ALEE); 17A: Impressive display (ARRAY); 18A: Kids' plastic brick maker (LEGO); 19A: "What's in a __?": Juliet (NAME); 20A: Sales agent, briefly (REP); 21A: Dangerously uncontrollable type (LOOSE CANNON); 24A: Taken by a shoplifter (STOLEN); 26A: Pub order (ALE); 27A: Weekly dress-down times (CASUAL FRIDAYS); 34A: Requests (ASKS); 36A: More than requests (PLEADS); 37A: Detroit-based labor gp. (UAW); 38A: Supportive sound from the crowd (CHEER); 40A: Sidekick (PAL); 41A: Best-seller list datum (TITLE); 43A: Sch. near Harvard (MIT); 44A: Ukrainian seaport (ODESSA); 47A: Dover flatfish (SOLE); 48A: Music genre heard in elevators (EASY LISTENING); 51A: Slithery swimmer (EEL); 52A: Letter-shaped shoe fastener (T-STRAP); 55A: Chemically treated tresses (RELAXED HAIR); 61A: Gallery display (ART); 62A: All done (OVER); 63A: Honey spirits (MEAD); 64A: Still-life fruit (APPLE); 66A: Whimper (MEWL); 67A: Puzzle with only one way out (MAZE); 68A: Old anesthetic (ETHER); 69A: Artist Warhol (ANDY); 70A: Greek god of war (ARES); 71A: Cowboy's rope (LASSO); 1D: Clear-night twinklers (STARS); 2D: Insertion symbol (CARET); 3D: Causes of in-flight "bumps" (AIR POCKETS); 4D: Protein synthesis molecule, for short (RNA); 5D: Salon dos (STYLES); 6D: Norway's capital (OSLO); 7D: Gibbons, e.g. (APES); 8D: Extremely big (HUGE); 9D: It may direct you to skip, draw two, or reverse (UNO CARD); 10D: Forbidden (BANNED); 11D: Astronaut Shepard (ALAN); 12D: Nautilus captain (NEMO); 13D: "Peachy-__!" (KEEN); 22D: "Movin' __": "The Jeffersons" theme (ON UP); 23D: Elite invitee roster (A-LIST); 25D: Cut with a surgical beam (LASE); 28D: European peaks, to Pierre (ALPES); 29D: "It's the __ I can do" (LEAST); 30D: Spurious (FALSE); 31D: Celebrity signatures (AUTOGRAPHS); 32D: Southern pronoun (Y'ALL); 33D: Popeye's __' Pea (SWEE); 34D: Very top (ACME); 35D: Denomination of Islam (SHIA); 39D: Wimbledon's official timekeeper (ROLEX); 42D: Stevie Wonder's "__ She Lovely" (ISN'T); 45D: Perplexing problem (DILEMMA); 46D: Against (ANTI); 49D: Annual (YEARLY); 50D: Six-Day War country (ISRAEL); 53D: Setting for van Gogh's "The Night Café" (ARLES); 54D: Wing: Prefix (PTERO-); 55D: Fontana di Trevi city (ROMA); 56D: Tied, as a game (EVEN); 57D: Lascivious (LEWD); 58D: Darling (DEAR); 59D: Mist (HAZE); 60D: Fruity summer drinks (ADES); 65D: Educ. support group (PTA).


SUNDAY, February 21, 2010 — Sylvia Bursztyn

Theme: "I Long for U" — Familiar phrases have U sounds replaced with long I sounds, creating wacky phrases which are clued "?"-style.

[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:
  • 21A: Opera about spellbinding stairs? (THE MAGIC FLIGHT [flute]).
  • 37A: Mensa, perhaps? (BRIGHT [brute] FORCE).
  • 54A: Frost in the West Indies? (JAMAICA RIME [rum]).
  • 74A: Billboard mogul? (THE SIGN [Sun] KING).
  • 92A: Taste the Treasure State? (BITE [Butte,] MONTANA).
  • 109A: Pattern for Lance Armstrong? (PASSING THE BIKE [buck]).
  • 15D: Sights at rural wrecking yards? (TRACTOR PILES [pulls]).
  • 58D: Plays charades? (MIMES [mum's] THE WORD).
Everything Else — 1A: Delight (PLEASE); 7A: Beginning of time? (CHRON); 12A: Take stock? (RUSTLE); 18A: Goes places (TRAVELS); 19A: Kind of officer or offering (PEACE); 20A: "Julie & Julia" director (EPHRON); 23A: Malleable (PLIANT); 24A: Ascended (ROSE); 25A: "If you build --- will come" (IT HE); 26A: Bit of baby talk (GOO); 27A: Voice master Mel (BLANC); 28A: Ring settings (ARENAS); 30A: Mr. Yale (ELIHU); 32A: Soccer ball brand (VOIT); 33A: Light touch (TAP); 36A: Mint pieces (CENTS); 39A: Cray or pay ender (-OLA); 40A: "Dig in!" (EAT); 41A: "--- tree falls ..." (IF A); 43A: Con opener (NEO-); 44A: Judy's daughter (LIZA); 45A: Fresh kid (BRAT); 46A: Subterfuge (RUSE); 48A: More gelid (ICIER); 50A: Circle of light (HALO); 51A: Blue Grotto spot (CAPRI); 52A: "Numskulls!" ("MORONS!"); 56A: About to happen (IMMINENT); 59A: Film's mystery villain Keyser (SOZE); 60A: Fa follower (SOL); 61A: Memorial designer Maya (LIN); 62A: Sent off (MAILED); 63A: Most svelte (LEANEST); 66A: Least nasty (NICEST); 68A: Cub tail? (-ISM); 69A: --- long way (GO A); 71A: Kissers (MUGS); 72A: Shunned ones (OUTCASTS); 77A: Advice for the fixated (MOVE ON); 78A: He played Potsie (ANSON); 79A: NPR's Totenberg (NINA); 80A: Former embryo (FETUS); 81A: Pouches (SACS); 85A: Squirts (TOTS); 86A: Parcel (out) (METE); 87A: Beer bust buy (KEG); 88A: OCS grads (LTS.); 90A: Interstice (GAP); 91A: Ordinal suffix (-ETH); 95A: You are here (EARTH); 97A: Wallace of "E.T." (DEE); 98A: Picnic spoilers (ANTS); 99A: Salami variety (COTTO); 100A: Bündchen of the runway (GISELE); 101A: "The Canterville Ghost" writer (WILDE); 103A: Hoot (GAS); 104A: York's river (OUSE); 106A: Estate's rights party? (HEIR); 107A: Dwellings (ABODES); 112A: Oscar winner Matlin (MARLEE); 113A: Antigone's uncle (CREON); 114A: United, for one (AIRLINE); 115A: Start a paragraph (INDENT); 116A: Assignation (TRYST); 117A: Stressful (TRYING); 1D: Stages shows (PRESENTS); 2D: Sing the blues (LAMENT); 3D: Mendes of the movies (EVA); 4D: Auspices (AEGIS); 5D: Open letters (SLIT); 6D: Artist M.C. (ESCHER); 7D: Pvt.'s superior (CPL.); 8D: Disney dwarfs' song (HEIGH-HO); 9D: Goulash kin (RAGOUT); 10D: "Dos" cubed (OCHO); 11D: Take home (NET); 12D: Facsimile (REPLICA); 13D: Watching Craig Ferguson, say (UP LATE); 14D: Tibia (SHIN); 16D: Actor Chaney (LON); 17D: Tolkien creature (ENT); 18D: "Walden" author (THOREAU); 21D: Bullet with a trail (TRACER); 22D: Cougars and others (FELINES); 27D: Russian wolfhounds (BORZOIS); 29D: Do-say link (AS I); 31D: Disney head Robert (IGER); 32D: "There!", to Pierre (VOILÀ); 34D: Chicken Little, for one (ALARMIST); 35D: Hospital's charges (PATIENTS); 37D: Actor with six degrees (BACON); 38D: Sweeties (FLAMES); 42D: Andiron (FIREDOG); 45D: Where to take a shot (BAR); 47D: Pianist Gilels (EMIL); 49D: Worldwide, for short (INTL.); 50D: Visibility hindrances (HAZES); 51D: Coarse cotton cloth (CALICO); 53D: Pushkin's Eugene (ONEGIN); 54D: Mah- --- (JONGG); 55D: Match (CONTEST); 56D: Copied (IMITATED); 57D: Billet-doux (MASH NOTE); 59D: Sweat spot (SAUNA); 64D: "8 Mile" rap star (EMINEM); 65D: Spree (TOOT); 67D: Axes (CANS); 70D: An original Mouseketeer (ANNETTE); 73D: Tonsil neighbor (UVULA); 75D: Brillo shelfmate (SOS); 76D: Toys with tails (KITES); 77D: Explosive unit (MEGATON); 80D: "Star Wars" character Boba (FETT); 82D: In accord (AGREEING); 83D: Like cougars and others (CATLIKE); 84D: Field (SPHERE); 86D: Bent (MINDSET); 87D: Minoan civilization center (KNOSSOS); 89D: "Due" three times (SEI); 92D: Whalebone (BALEEN); 93D: Abbey Theatre luminary (O'CASEY); 94D: See's treat (NOUGAT); 96D: Rubbish receptacle (ASHBIN); 100D: Architect Frank (GEHRY); 102D: Baseless (IDLE); 103D: Teri of "Tootsie" (GARR); 105D: Hubbub (STIR); 107D: Pal, to Stendhal (AMI); 108D: Outlaw (BAN); 109D: Agt.'s cut (PCT.); 110D: QB's stat (INT.); 111D: "The Book of ---" (ELI).

SUNDAY, February 21, 2010 — Mike Peluso

Theme: Initials — Each theme answer contains a hidden presedential monogram.

[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: *Obligation payable within a year (37) (SHORT-TERM NOTE). Richard M. Nixon
  • 38A: *Ceremonial, as Anglican ritual (31) (HIGH CHURCH). Herbert Clark Hoover (who knew?)
  • 54A: *Line dancer? (18) (CHORUS GIRL). Ulysses S. Grant
  • 75A: *Double martini, e.g. (32) (STIFF DRINK). Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • 92A: *AOL service (44) (WEB HOSTING). Barack H. Obama
  • 110A: *Arizona attraction (34) (PAINTED DESERT). Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • 16D: *Hurting for money (33) (CASH STRAPPED). Harry S Truman
  • 60D: *Aviation pioneer (40) (WILBUR WRIGHT). Ronald W. Reagan
  • 84D: Clothing embroidery, maybe, and a hint to finding the "insiders" in the answers to starred clues (MONOGRAM).
Hi, everyone. I'm in Brooklyn hanging with my nerdy friends, so I'm going to leave the discussion of this puzzle to you. Just too much going on here. I'll tell you all about it later in the week!

Everything Else — 1A: Chatterbox (MAGPIE); 7A: Seven Sisters school (VASSAR); 13A: PSAT takers (JRS.); 16A: Tram unit (CAR); 19A: Some L-shaped wrenches (ALLENS); 20A: Substandard (CRUMMY); 21A: Moray, say (EEL); 22A: Palindromic Altar (ARA); 25A: Visits (STOPS BY); 27A: PC key (TAB); 28A: Dutchman who painted "Gypsy Girl" (HALS); 29A: Blonde bombshell Diana (DORS); 30A: Beauty, to Keats (TRUTH); 31A: Illness (MALADY); 33A: "__ match?" (GOT A); 34A: Two-time U.S. Open champ (AGASSI); 37A: Can, after "is" (ABLE TO); 42A: Turkey, maybe (TOM); 43A: Web addresses, briefly (URLS); 44A: In a few minutes (SOON); 46A: Californie, e.g. (ÉTAT); 47A: Span. title (SRTA.); 48A: Authority to decide (SAY-SO); 50A: Kiss, to Luis (BESO); 52A: "__, there's more!" (WAIT); 53A: Tic or twinge (SPASM); 57A: Use FedEx (SHIP); 58A: Audi rival (BMW); 61A: Average grades (CEES); 62A: 3M products (TAPES); 63A: Filled French fare (CREPES); 66A: Eave droppers (ICICLES); 68A: Mountain man, maybe (LONER); 69A: Santiago native (CHILEAN); 70A: Synagogue text (TALMUD); 71A: Leisurely stroll (PASEO); 72A: Mob enforcer (GOON); 73A: Simon and Garfunkel, e.g. (DUO); 74A: Auction activities (BIDS); 77A: When repeated, 1963 hit with alleged obscene lyrics determined by the FBI to be "unintelligible at any speed" (LOUIE); 79A: Salon supply (DYES); 80A: Come up short (FAIL); 81A: Self-reproach (SHAME); 86A: He orbited Earth 314 days before John (YURI); 87A: Agreement (PACT); 88A: Polite rural reply (YES'M); 90A: Hymn starter (O GOD); 91A: State so. of Queensland (NSW); 96A: Nearby (AROUND); 98A: Ancient invader of Greece (XERXES); 100A: Remedy (CURE); 101A: Punic Wars general (SCIPIO); 102A: "Able was __ ..." (I ERE I); 104A: Woody's son (ARLO); 105A: Theodore, to Wally (BEAV); 106A: L on a tag: Abbr. (LGE.); 108A: RSVP option (REGRETS); 113A: Ultimate degree (NTH); 114A: Old "King" Cole (NAT); 115A: Way of the Romans? (APPIAN); 116A: Genesis peak (ARARAT); 117A: Relaxed, in a way (SAT); 118A: Chicken general? (TSO); 119A: Save (RESCUE); 120A: Frau, in France (MADAME); 1D: Caravel feature (MAST); 2D: Granada palace (ALHAMBRA); 3D: How multi-nationals trade (GLOBALLY); 4D: Part of mph (PER); 5D: Because (IN THAT); 6D: Tejas y Nuevo México, por ejemplo (ESTADOS); 7D: TV add-ons (VCRS); 8D: A slot machine has one (ARM); 9D: Partial rainbow (SUN DOG); 10D: Glib (SMOOTH); 11D: Amphibious vehicle (AMTRAC); 12D: Bar array (RYES); 13D: Fun (JEST); 14D: Take back (RETRACT); 15D: Shed, with "off" (SLOUGH); 17D: Wall St. hedger (ARB); 18D: St. Pete athlete (RAY); 24D: Nevada Northern Railway Museum city (ELY); 26D: School gp. (PTA); 32D: Not as much (LESS); 33D: Knife hyped on TV (GINSU); 35D: DTs sufferers (SOTS); 36D: Islamic leader (IMAM); 37D: Country N. of Slovenia (AUS.); 38D: Makers of beds? (HOERS); 39D: Judge, e.g. (HEARER); 40D: Water and elec. (UTILS.); 41D: Snitch (RAT); 45D: Sarrusophone cousins (OBOES); 47D: Pitch (SPIEL); 49D: Form a certain front, in meteorology (OCCLUDE); 51D: Bone formation (OSTOSIS); 52D: Remove, as a silly grin (WIPE OFF); 53D: Reduces (SHRINKS); 55D: Listens to (HEEDS); 56D: Thief, in slang (GANEF); 57D: "Danke __" (SCHON); 58D: Drill insert (BIT); 59D: 1988 Motown acquirer (MCA); 64D: __-de-vie: brandy (EAU); 65D: __-cone (SNO); 67D: Early 10th century year (CMIII); 68D: Not prompt for (LATE TO); 69D: Stored ropes, e.g. (COILS); 71D: Intimidate mentally, with "out" (PSYCH); 72D: "Peer Gynt Suite" composer (GRIEG); 76D: Pop singer Taylor __ (DAYNE); 77D: Wildcat with tufted ears (LYNX); 78D: River of Yorkshire (OUSE); 79D: Apply sparingly (DAB); 82D: Lobe dangler (HOOP); 83D: 2000 Best New Artist Grammy winner (AGUILERA); 85D: Actor Byrnes (EDD); 87D: Euro preceders (PESETAS); 89D: Paving material (MACADAM); 92D: Failed to be (WEREN'T); 93D: Abrasion (SCRAPE); 94D: Blooms from bulbs (TULIPS); 95D: Having a twist (IRONIC); 97D: Yankee who is the A.L. career leader in saves (RIVERA); 99D: Signer, at times (X'ER); 101D: But, to Cassius (SED); 103D: What a colon means, in analogies (IS TO); 104D: On __ with (A PAR); 105D: Nota __ (BENE); 107D: Kitchen trailer? (-ETTE); 108D: Some OR personnel (RNS); 109D: SFO info (ETA); 111D: Cross shape (TAU); 112D: Down (SAD).


SATURDAY, February 20, 2010—Bruce Venzke

THEME: No theme today—It's a themeless/freestyle puzzle

This puppy's a little more rigorous than most Saturday L.A. Times crosswords. While the six 15-letter answers are casual and familiar, there are shorter answers tucked in there that are less familiar. And there are also some tough clues to give your brain more of a workout.

The long answers:
  • 14A. [Dating option] (DINNER AND A MOVIE). Much more popular than the "breakfast and a movie" option.
  • 17A. [Thank-you trinket, e.g.] (INEXPENSIVE GIFT). I'm not sure whether this one rises to the level of crossword-worthy fill. Is it more of a discrete concept than random adjective + suitable noun?
  • 24A. ["My mind isn't made up yet"] ("I CAN'T SAY FOR SURE"). I can't say for sure, but this might be the first time I've seen this crossword answer.
  • Hey, hey, hey! 44A. ["You've got a lot of nerve!"] ("WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA?").
  • 57A. [Retaliatory steps] (COUNTERMEASURES). There aren't a ton of good 15-letter words out there. This one's decent.
  • 61A. [Ups and downs of one's youth?] (TEETER-TOTTERING). Now, when I was a kid, you rode the teeter-totter but I don't think we verbed it. "Seesawing" sounds more verby to me, but the dictionary does have "teeter-totter" as a verb.

Shorter stuff worthy of note:
  • 36A. [Hindu fire god] (AGNI). I seldom remember this one because the name sounds more Norse than Hindu/Vedic to me.
  • 43A. [French cathedral city] (METZ). This one is sometimes forgettable because METZ sounds German. Another sneaky French town is Dunkirk, which sounds English or Scottish to me.
  • 64A. [Capital on Upolu Island] (APIA). That's the capital of Samoa, population 32,000.
  • 1D. [Jack Kerouac's first wife] (EDIE). Huh? I'm not sure why one would be expected to know this. Does he write about her by name?
  • 4D. [Michael Hutchence's band] (INXS). Time for a music video featuring a song that was a hit when I was in high school.

  • 10D. [Old Venetian magistrate] (DOGE). A worthy candidate for a future Crosswordese 101.
  • 12D. [It's "too short for chess": Henry J. Byron] (LIFE). I like the way Henry J. Byron thinks.
  • 13D. [Neighbor of an Estonian] (LETT). Old-fashioned name for a Latvian. Also a ripe Crosswordese 101 candidate.
  • 15D. [Solar year/lunar year differential] (EPACT). Say what? Never heard the word. For a primer on lunar years, click that Wikipedia link. A lunar year is about 354 days, while a solar year is about 365 days. The EPACT comes into play when calculating Easter's schedule, apparently.
  • 25D. [Signaler in a box] (COACH). Which sport stores the COACH in a box?
  • 38D. [Rock-throwing protesters] (STONERS). Heh. Here's a non-rock-throwing stoner:

  • 53D. [___ Mountains, which separate the Rhine and the Rhone] (JURA). Whoa. Not common in the crosswordese department. You'll never guess when most of this mountain range's rocks were laid down. Go ahead, guess. The Jurassic period! Which was named after the JURA Mountains! Who knew? They're on the French/Swiss border.
  • 55D. [Caesarean opening] (VENI). As in the opening word of Caesar's famous "Veni, vidi, vici" ("I came, I saw, I conquered"). Not the name for the hole in the womb sliced open by an OB doing a C-section.

Crosswordese 101: The 34A clue, [Oka River city], includes a crosswordese river we've discussed, the OKA. That city is OREL. It's in Russia, it's south of Moscow, and Turgenev was born there. But you may know it better as the first name of baseball great OREL Hershiser. He pitched, won the Cy Young Award, and was World Series MVP in 1988. He has since moved on to being an ESPN sportscaster.

Everything Else — 1A: Spoiled sci-fi race (ELOI); 5A: Engage in a high-tech scam (PHISH); 10A: High-tech mogul Michael (DELL); 14A: Dating option (DINNER AND A MOVIE); 17A: Thank-you trinket, e.g. (INEXPENSIVE GIFT); 18A: Arachnid's hatching pouch (EGG SAC); 19A: Hole in your shoe? (EYELET); 20A: Lemon-colored quartz (CITRINE); 24A: "My mind isn't made up yet" (I CAN'T SAY FOR SURE); 32A: Ill-advised move (NO-NO); 33A: German-born surrealist (ERNST); 34A: Oka River city (OREL); 35A: Stretched out (LAIN); 36A: Hindu fire god (AGNI); 37A: Peak (ACME); 38A: Perfect Sleeper maker (SERTA); 43A: French cathedral city (METZ); 44A: "You've got a lot of nerve!" (WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA); 47A: Extra (TO SPARE); 48A: Like chinchillas (ANDEAN); 52A: It may accompany a new experience (DEJA-VU); 57A: Retaliatory steps (COUNTER MEASURES); 61A: Ups and downs of one's youth? (TEETER-TOTTERING); 62A: What's more (ALSO); 63A: Have a feeling (SENSE); 64A: Capital on Upolu Island (APIA); 1D: Jack Kerouac's first wife (EDIE); 2D: Ding-a-__ (LING); 3D: Universal donor's type, briefly (O NEG); 4D: Michael Hutchence's band (INXS); 5D: Exact (PRECISE); 6D: River to the Yangtze (HAN); 7D: Former green card agcy. (INS); 8D: Reagan mil. program (SDI); 9D: One living in poverty (HAVE NOT); 10D: Old Venetian magistrate (DOGE); 11D: Dark (EVIL); 12D: It's "too short for chess": Henry J. Byron (LIFE); 13D: Neighbor of an Estonian (LETT); 15D: Solar year/lunar year differential (EPACT); 16D: "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" director Nicholas (MEYER); 21D: Sea dog (TAR); 22D: Rembrandt van __ (RYN); 23D: They may happen (IFS); 24D: Oft-maligned kin (IN-LAW); 25D: Signaler in a box (COACH); 26D: Jung's inner self (ANIMA); 27D: The Muses, e.g. (NONET); 28D: "Likewise" (SO AM I); 29D: Pressed (URGED); 30D: Income, in Cannes (RENTE); 31D: The "her" in Broadway's "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" (ELIZA); 38D: Rock-throwing protesters (STONERS); 39D: Words of doubt (EHS); 40D: Good name (REP); 41D: Abbr. for an unknown 42-Down (TBA); 42D: When something is on (AIR DATE); 45D: Express (STATE); 46D: Honkers (GEESE); 48D: Washington Nationals manager Manny (ACTA); 49D: December song (NOEL); 50D: Member's payment (DUES); 51D: Prefix with -zoic (ENTO); 53D: __ Mountains, which separate the Rhine and the Rhone (JURA); 54D: "What __!": "I've been had!" (A RIP); 55D: Caesarean opening (VENI); 56D: Links-governing org. (USGA); 58D: Numbered hwy. (RTE.); 59D: Calendar col. (MON); 60D: X-files subjects, for short (ETS).