MONDAY, May 31, 2010 — Donna S. Levin

THEME: Happy Birthday, CLINT EASTWOOD (53A: Born 5/31/1930, entertainer associated with the phrase formed by the starts of 20-, 31- and 41-Across) — theme answers begin with MAKE, MY, and DAY, respectively

Hello and goodbye! Today is my last day blogging the LAT puzzle. Well, probably not my last time, as I'm bound to fill in now and again, but for the most part, as of tomorrow, this baby is all PuzzleGirl's. This was a nice puzzle to go on — both because I love me some CLINT EASTWOOD movies (esp. the westerns and the Dirty Harrys) and because I set a new personal best time: 2:32. Total insanity. Needless to say, I had no idea what was going on with the theme until I was done, but I imagine that was the case for a lot of people today. Until you hit the reveal, you don't have much to go on. Theme answers are somewhat blah (there have GOT to be many more interesting phrases that start with those simple, simple words) and the grid shape is ultra-conventional (i.e. tiny 4x4 or 3x5 sections all around the edges, with very few non-theme answers longer than 6 letters), but at least the long Downs are good — TALK SHOP and FRUIT CAKE. Also, if you mentally add a "P" onto the end of SLA (30A: 1970s radical grp.), you can create the phrase SLAP THAT BOOTY! (reading top to ... bottom) in the far east. Cool.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Rise from the ashes, so to speak (MAKE A COMEBACK)
  • 31A: "Pygmalion" on Broadway ("MY FAIR LADY")
  • 41A: Tourist who doesn't stay overnight (DAYTRIPPER) — how does that *not* get a Beatles clue?

[saw Cheap Trick in concert in NYC in 2001 ... still Soooo good]

My parents live very close to CLINT EASTWOOD. Practically down the street. I keep hoping I'll see him around when I visit, but it hasn't happened yet. EASTWOOD is a big music buff (and his daughter a budding young singer) — I think he was one of the producers of a recent collection of Johnny Mercer songs. I know I saw a special about it, possibly on PBS? TCM, actually, I think. It was entertaining.

Crosswordese 101: AETNA (9A: Big name in insurance) — mmm, 60% vowels. Benefits both from that "AE" opener and that "TN" combo. Not lots of short words do that, and the ones that do, you see (AER, AERIE, AEGIS! — 21D: Protection). I always hesitate a bit on a five-letter insurance clue starting with "A" — you gotta look out for AFLAC. That damn duck will sneak up on you.

And with that, I'm out of here. With respect to servicemen and -women everywhere, and with gratitude to you all, who have helped us turn this into an 8,000 visitors/day site in just a year. I hope the site has proven useful and entertaining. I know it is in good hands. See you when I see you. And good luck, PG.

And one last thing: Pontiac used to make a FIERO. I feel certain that you'll need to know this, for some crossword, somewhere down the line... Also, I just wanted to post this picture I've been hanging onto for Months.

All the best,

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

One very last thing: reader just tipped me to the existence of this poll re: syndicated puzzles. Apparently some N.O. Times-Picayune readers think the LAT too hard, or snooty, or whatever. I dare you to try one of the (terrible) alternatives they have in mind. And then vote to keep the LAT (whether you live in NOLA or not — someone's gotta stand up for craftsmanship).

Everything Else — 1A: Buck in the forest (STAG); 5A: Mil. three-stripers (SGTS.); 9A: Big name in insurance (AETNA); 14A: Wahine's dance (HULA); 15A: In __ of: replacing (LIEU); 16A: Sink outlet (DRAIN); 17A: Slightly (A BIT); 18A: Slightly open (AJAR); 19A: Fictional chocolatier Wonka (WILLY); 20A: Rise from the ashes, so to speak (MAKE A COMEBACK); 23A: Employ (USE); 24A: Laboriously earns, with "out" (EKES); 25A: Gets the lead out? (ERASES); 28A: Two sizes above sm. (LGE.); 29A: When the Kol Nidre is recited, vis-‡-vis Yom Kippur (EVE); 30A: 1970s radical gp. (SLA); 31A: "Pygmalion" on Broadway (MY FAIR LADY); 36A: Not this (THAT); 37A: Breath mint brand (CERTS); 38A: Yalie (ELI); 39A: Pirate's spoils (BOOTY); 40A: Sticky stuff on a stick (GLUE); 41A: Tourist who doesn't stay overnight (DAY-TRIPPER); 43A: Prefix with center (EPI-); 44A: "Blues Brother" Aykroyd (DAN); 45A: Connections that help you get ahead (INS); 46A: Think highly of (ESTEEM); 48A: Clue weapon (ROPE); 50A: "The Silence of the Lambs" org. (FBI); 53A: Born 5/31/1930, entertainer associated with the phrase formed by the starts of 20-, 31- and 41-Across (CLINT EASTWOOD); 56A: Easy __ (AS ABC); 58A: Golden rule word (UNTO); 59A: Green Gables girl (ANNE); 60A: Tea grade (PEKOE); 61A: Complaint (BEEF); 62A: October 15th, e.g. (IDES); 63A: Prepares 60-Across (BREWS); 64A: Low man on the feudal totem pole (SERF); 65A: Ultimate (LAST); 1D: SeaWorld star (SHAMU); 2D: Oompah brass (TUBAS); 3D: More than similar (ALIKE); 4D: Garden portal (GATE); 5D: Goof-off (SLACKER); 6D: Military action doll (GI JOE); 7D: Sides in a game (TEAMS); 8D: Certain (SURE); 9D: Online pop-up source (ADWARE); 10D: Soap vamp __ Kane (ERICA); 11D: Discusses business (TALKS SHOP); 12D: Zero (NIL); 13D: One or another (ANY); 21D: Protection (AEGIS); 22D: Quail group (BEVY); 26D: Really delight (ELATE); 27D: Lecherous woodland deity (SATYR); 28D: Tardy (LATE); 29D: Blue-pencil (EDIT); 31D: "Me and Bobby __" (MCGEE); 32D: Pound sounds (YELPS); 33D: "Nutty" individual (FRUITCAKE); 34D: Taboo for Mrs. Sprat (LEAN); 35D: Prince __ Khan (ALY); 36D: Blouses and shirts (TOPS); 39D: I.Q. test name (BINET); 41D: Rhett's last word (DAMN); 42D: Swipes (RIPS OFF); 44D: Prepares for a winter takeoff, as plane wings (DEICES); 47D: Jab with a bone (ELBOW); 48D: Actress Zellweger (RENEE); 49D: Western movie (OATER); 50D: Henry, Peter or Jane (FONDA); 51D: Forensic TV drama (BONES); 52D: That is, in Latin (ID EST); 54D: Beat-up boats (TUBS); 55D: Cry like a banshee (WAIL); 56D: Police broadcast, briefly (APB); 57D: Rev.'s speech (SER.).


SUNDAY, May 30, 2010 — Sylvia Bursztyn

Theme: "Come and Get It" — Theme answers are familiar phrases that begin with the words come or get it.

[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 today's syndicated puzzle.]

Theme answers:
  • 38A: GET IT --- (OFF YOUR CHEST).
  • 61A: GET IT --- (INTO YOUR HEAD).
  • 76A: COME --- (OUT IN THE WASH).
  • 100A: COME --- (AS NO SURPRISE).
  • 116A: GET IT --- (OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM).
Everything Else — 1A: Gala garb, often (BLACK TIE); 9A: SWAT specialist (SNIPER); 15A: Stick it out (STAY); 19A: Candelabra-shaped cactuses (SAGUAROS); 20A: Ring figure (TORERO); 21A: "--- broad stripes and bright ..." (WHOSE); 24A: D-Day beach (OMAHA); 25A: Darth's daughter (LEIA); 26A: Scrap (ORT); 27A: Innovative stylist Vidal (SASSOON); 29A: Collar (ARREST); 32A: Heads-up (ALERT); 34A: Gwen Stefani's group (NO DOUBT); 37A: Tim of "WKRP in Cincinnati" (REID); 42A: Fed. med. org. (NIH); 43A: Accent on food? (MSG); 44A: Univ. VIP (PROF.); 45A: Cheshire Cat, notably (SMILER); 46A: Country's Oak --- Boys (RIDGE); 48A: Playwright Fugard (ATHOL); 50A: Some coll. degrees (BAS); 52A: Equal footing (PAR); 53A: Soda buys (LITERS); 54A: So-so (NOT BAD); 56A: Some old Saturns (IONS); 59A: MacDonald-Eddy Mountie musical (ROSE MARIE); 64A: "Agnus" --- (DEI); 65A: Koop and Elders, for short (SGS); 66A: Track events (HEATS); 67A: Sock synthetic (ORLON); 69A: Lace tip (AGLET); 72A: "How Can --- Sure" (I BE); 74A: Shatner's sci-fi drug (TEK); 80A: Setting of many a teen movie scene (CAFETERIA); 84A: Wiltern Theatre's style (DECO); 85A: River of song (SWANEE); 86A: Skipped over in speech (ELIDED); 87A: TiVo, e.g. (DVR); 89A: Cold War org. (KGB); 91A: Large lemur (INDRI); 92A: Ohio rubber city (AKRON); 93A: Knuckleheads (IDIOTS); 96A: Moxie (GUTS); 98A: AOL chats (IMS); 99A: It makes the van go (GAS); 103A: Macrame unit (KNOT); 104A: Tempts (ENTICES); 106A: City on the Po (TURIN); 107A: Trues up (ALIGNS); 109A: Microblogging service (TWITTER); 112A: Sch. staff (FAC.); 113A: Greek war god (ARES); 114A: "I need to go on ---!" (A DIET); 122A: "My car" anagram (CAMRY); 123A: Like Antoine's cuisine (CREOLE); 124A: Semisweet wine (SAUTERNE); 125A: Monkey puzzle, for one (TREE); 126A: On the up and up (KOSHER); 127A: A cut above (SUPERIOR); 1D: Troop gp. (BSA); 2D: Child support? (LAP); 3D: Turkish title (AGA); 4D: Made waves? (CURLED); 5D: Hudson and Winslet (KATES); 6D: Quisling (TRAITOR); 7D: Letter after theta (IOTA); 8D: Round fig. (EST.); 9D: Sound systems (STEREOS); 10D: Quack cure-all (NOSTRUM); 11D: Fury (IRE); 12D: Gregor Mendel research subjects (PEAS); 13D: Humorist Bombeck (ERMA); 14D: "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" author Judith (ROSSNER); 15D: "Li'l Abner" critter (SHMOO); 17D: Campout fallout (ASH); 18D: Pro vote (YEA); 21D: Finish work, in carpentry (WOOD TRIM); 23D: Sacred (HOLY); 28D: Brillo shelfmate (SOS); 29D: Giorgio with an "emporio" (ARMANI); 30D: Planned Virginia community (RESTON); 32D: Tabloid fodder (AFFAIR); 33D: Junket (TRIP); 35D: Eighteen-wheeler (BIG RIG); 36D: Martin Luther nailed 95 of them (THESES); 39D: Watch pocket (FOB); 40D: Reed instr. (CLAR.); 41D: Biblical king (HEROD); 44D: "Costa" kin (PLAYA); 47D: Señor suffix (-ITA); 49D: Bassoon kin (OBOE); 51D: TriBeCa neighbor (SOHO); 53D: Janet and Jennifer Jason (LEIGHS); 55D: Like some lines (DOTTED); 57D: "I, Claudius" character (NERO); 58D: Toast of "la ciudad" (SALUD); 60D: Usher (SEAT); 62D: Tech support seeker (USER); 63D: Lavish affection (DOTE); 68D: Make the cut? (NICK); 70D: Dawnn of "A Different World" (LEWIS); 71D: McGregor of "Moulin Rouge" (EWAN); 72D: Cold time (ICE AGE); 73D: Albania's --- Peninsula (BALKAN); 75D: Slangy address (KIDDO); 77D: Noodle (NOGGIN); 78D: Talk in church (SERMON); 79D: Hauls of mazuma (HEISTS); 81D: Old Tokyo (EDO); 82D: Doggedness (TENACITY); 83D: Dollar competitor (AVIS); 88D: Drubbing (ROUT); 90D: Clear tables (BUS); 93D: Available for sale (IN STOCK); 94D: See's treat (TRUFFLE); 95D: Hose attachment (SPRAYER); 97D: Shreds (TEARS UP); 101D: Moviemaker's milieu (SET); 102D: Wealthy, in Oaxaca (RICO); 103D: Mug (KISSER); 105D: "If --- a Carpenter" (I WERE); 108D: Gulf in a 1944 battle (LEYTE); 110D: Greece note (EURO); 111D: Hwys. (RTES.); 113D: "Like Water for Chocolate" director Alfonso (ARAU); 114D: Stop stalling (ACT); 115D: --- es Salaam (DAR); 117D: "Impressive!" ("OOH!"); 118D: Ship inits. (USS); 119D: Cycle starter (TRI-); 120D: Rocker Brian (ENO); 121D: Sea, to Simenon (MER).

SUNDAY, May 30, 2010 — Harvey Estes

Theme: "Divided Countries" — Country names can be found hidden in the theme answers.

[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:
  • 27A: Weather unit (DEGREE CELSIUS).
  • 100A: Country divided in 27-Across (GREECE).

  • 45A: "I'm outa here" ("TIME TO GO HOME").
  • 22A: Country divided in 45-Across (TOGO).

  • 58A: Like always (AS PER USUAL).
  • 79D: Country divided in 58-Across (PERU).

  • 77A: Makes a special effort (TAKES PAINS).
  • 68D: Country divided in 77-Across (SPAIN).

  • 89A: FleetCenter predecessor (BOSTON GARDEN).
  • 3D: Country divided in 89-Across (TONGA).

  • 111A: Without breaking the rules (FAIR AND SQUARE).
  • 122A: Country divided in 111-Across (IRAN).

  • 16D: Donne words before "entire of itself" (NO MAN IS AN ISLAND).
  • 48D: Country divided in 16-Down (OMAN).

  • 44D: Words sung before placing hand to hip (I'M A LITTLE TEAPOT).
  • 56A: Country divided in 44-Down (MALI).
Everything Else — 1A: __-mouth (MOTOR); 6A: Bethlehem visitors (MAGI); 10A: Ennui (BLAHS); 15A: Piece of cake (SNAP); 19A: Superior to (ABOVE); 20A: Like a dust bowl (ARID); 21A: Bug (EAT AT); 23A: Established districts (ZONED); 24A: Shade of blue (NILE); 25A: On the move (ASTIR); 26A: Ed who played Mingo on "Daniel Boone" (AMES); 30A: Like a good knight (GALLANT); 32A: Flat-pancake filler (AS A); 33A: Silents star Jannings (EMIL); 34A: Power source (ATOM); 36A: Puts in a bad light (TAINTS); 37A: Deposed '70s despot (AMIN); 38A: Request to Fido (BEG); 40A: Fund-raising targets (ALUMNI); 42A: Punxsutawney prophet (PHIL); 49A: Sunblock letters (SPF); 52A: Word with strip or relief (COMIC); 54A: "Is it soup __?" (YET); 55A: Tyler Perry's "Diary of __ Black Woman" (A MAD); 57A: Cruising locale (SEA); 62A: "Star Wars Episode II" attack force (CLONES); 64A: More 47-Down (LANKER); 66A: Rural room renter (INN); 67A: Cattle drive need (LARIAT); 68A: Bashes (SHINDIGS); 70A: Colony resident (ANT); 71A: Strikes, e.g. (PROTESTS); 73A: General nicknamed "Old Blood and Guts" (PATTON); 74A: Start of a simple game (TIC); 75A: Poet Amy (LOWELL); 76A: Lets out, say (ALTERS); 80A: Fearful reverence (AWE); 83A: Troubles (ILLS); 84A: Went lickety-split (TORE); 85A: Canadian prov. whose capital is Charlottetown (PEI); 86A: Cartridge contents (TONER); 88A: Wedding notice word (NÉE); 94A: Says further (ADDS); 95A: "Growing Pains" star Alan (THICKE); 97A: Sch. with a Lima campus (OSU); 98A: Three-piece suit piece (VEST); 102A: Swedish import (SAAB); 105A: West Wing adjunct (AIDE); 106A: One not acting well (HAM); 109A: Cracks up over (ROARS AT); 115A: Rover's bowlful (ALPO); 116A: Polite turndown (NO SIR); 118A: Bad marks in high school? (ACNE); 119A: Racing family name (UNSER); 120A: Dark purple fruit (SLOE); 121A: Emcee's task (INTRO); 123A: Lapel attachment (ID TAG); 124A: Strokes (PETS); 125A: Colorado ski mecca (ASPEN); 126A: Bit of progress, figuratively (DENT); 127A: 11-Down feature (NOOSE); 1D: Publisher of Zoom-Zoom magazine (MAZDA); 2D: English horn relatives (OBOES); 4D: Superior to (OVER); 5D: Turn in for money (REDEEM); 6D: "The Pink Panther Theme" composer (MANCINI); 7D: Disney mermaid (ARIEL); 8D: Breathing organ (GILL); 9D: Caesar's big date (IDES); 10D: Humdinger (BEAUT); 11D: Will Rogers prop (LASSO); 12D: Communications co. (ATT); 13D: Nixon chief of staff (HAIG); 14D: Bedrock, e.g. (STRATUM); 15D: Big Red (STALIN); 17D: Bond, for one (AGENT); 18D: Newsgroup messages (POSTS); 28D: Send out (EMIT); 29D: He did a Moor good, then harm (IAGO); 31D: Rich fabric (LAMÉ); 35D: Taj __ (MAHAL); 37D: Ring icon (ALI); 38D: Cold draft (BEER); 39D: Brute's rebuke? (ET TU); 41D: City served by Ben-Gurion airport (LOD); 42D: IBM products (PCS); 43D: Tilling tool (HOE); 46D: Mike of "54" (MYERS); 47D: Very thin (GAUNT); 50D: Fabric fold (PLEAT); 51D: Weapons of the unarmed (FISTS); 53D: Straight shooting, so to speak (CANDOR); 56D: Gourmet mushroom (MOREL); 59D: Hides (SKINS); 60D: Hanging convenience (PEG); 61D: "__ you asked ..." (SINCE); 62D: Circus employee (CLOWN); 63D: Hot gossip, with "the" (LATEST); 65D: Forks over, with "up" (ANTES); 69D: Berry of "Monster's Ball" (HALLE); 70D: Pulitzer-winning poet Conrad __ (AIKEN); 71D: Flannel shirt pattern (PLAID); 72D: Lyon king (ROI); 74D: Island starch source (TARO); 77D: Shopping aids (TOTES); 78D: Bathroom luxuries (SPAS); 81D: United (WED); 82D: "Grey's Anatomy" settings, briefly (ERS); 84D: "For shame!" ("TSK!"); 87D: Granola bar bit (OAT); 89D: Ecolutions pens (BICS); 90D: "1984" setting (OCEANIA); 91D: Asian expanse (GOBI); 92D: Easy to get (EVIDENT); 93D: Rorem and Beatty (NEDS); 96D: Sci-fi series about people with special powers (HEROES); 99D: Costume sparkler (SEQUIN); 100D: Understanding (GRASP); 101D: Actress Esther (ROLLE); 103D: Flaming (AFIRE); 104D: Composer Copland (AARON); 105D: Former UN leader Kofi (ANNAN); 106D: Can't help but (HAS TO); 107D: Fields of study (AREAS); 108D: On-ramp sign (MERGE); 110D: A whole lot (TONS); 112D: Fridge foray (RAID); 113D: Lot, maybe (ACRE); 114D: Nullify (UNDO); 117D: "The racer's edge" (STP).


SATURDAY, May 29, 2010—Fred Jackson III

THEME: No theme today—It's a themeless puzzle, just like every Saturday.

Well! Look at that. This is the final Saturday in May, and so concludes my run as a regular contributor to L.A. Crossword Confidential. I've enjoyed my time here, and I hope I've helped you learn how to kick crossword butt like never before. You're in great hands with the charming and delightful PuzzleGirl.

On to today's puzzle. Hmm, 4:48. Either this puzzle's harder than usual, or I'm tireder than I thought. No particular trouble spots leap out at me—I think the wheels were just turning a little slowly tonight.

Hot stuff:
  • 5A: [Movie warning] is the PG THIRTEEN rating. Odd to spell out the number, I know, but sometimes I like that in a crossword answer. (Just not in UTWO or THREED.)
  • 16A: [Unequaled] means the ONE AND ONLY.
  • 19A: Ooh, POE trivia! Edgar Allan Poe is the [Orphaned author raised by the Allans]. Did any of you read that New Yorker article some months back about Poe's messed-up life?
  • 22A: [Incomplete rainbow] is SUN DOG. Ha! Eleven days ago, we learned that a MOON DOG is a [Bright spot on a lunar halo]. I guessed SUN DOG because of that. The scientific name is parhelion, meaning "a bright spot in the sky appearing on either side of the sun, formed by refraction of sunlight through ice crystals high in the earth's atmosphere." Is that the same as an incomplete rainbow? I don't know.
  • 27A: A [Buff] is a FIEND. Yes, FIEND means an enthusiast, not just a demon. Case in point: Diary of a Crossword Fiend.
  • 58A: One famous [California shopping mecca] is RODEO DRIVE. I've never been.
  • 61A: ["It doesn't get any better than this"] clues "I'M IN HEAVEN." That was me on Tuesday, eating a Beard Papa's cream puff with fresh strawberry custard filling. Slices of perfectly sweet fresh berries in creamy custard inside a pastry shell? It was all I could do not to slide to the floor in bliss.
  • 3D: [Where one might anticipate being introduced] is in a TV show's GREEN ROOM. I was in one once, for a game show. It was crowded and the food was lame. I'm boycotting green rooms until I can present my demands in a binding contract. I want cream puffs, Diet Coke, and orange Peanut M&M's.
  • 5D: [Vernacular jackpot] is a POT O' GOLD. Don't bother looking for it at the end of a SUN DOG.
  • 33D: [Richard Simmons weight-loss program with color-coded cards] is DEAL A MEAL.
  • 34D: [At night] clues AFTER DARK. Any longtime Mac users out there remember After Dark's "Flying Toasters" screensaver?

You know what singer I really know nothing about? Laura NYRO, 14D: ["Stoned Soul Picnic" songwriter]. Here's that song, and no, it doesn't sound familiar to me. The "Flying Toasters" song, sure, I can hum that one. Don't know a single Nyro song.

Crosswordese 101: ELENA is about to get a new lease on crosswordese life. Those three vowels alternating with the most ordinary sort of consonants? Constructors love that sort of name because it can help cool words fit together. Today's clue for ELENA is "Uncle Vanya" role, but most often she's clued as actress Verdugo. Other clue choices include tennis players Dementieva or Makarova, skaters Valova or Sokolova (who??), the Spanish princess whose dad is Juan Carlos I, the last queen of Italy, or the song "Maria Elena." You're looking at that list of clues and probably having glimmers of recognition for very few of them, right? If ELENA Kagan's appointment to the Supreme Court is confirmed this summer, constructors will rejoice: At last! An ELENA solvers can reasonably be expected to know!

Everything Else — 1A: Powder holders (KEGS); 5A: Movie warning (PG THIRTEEN); 15A: Elision from Eliza ('ENRY); 16A: Unequaled (ONE AND ONLY); 17A: Times when the French fry? (ÉTÉS); 18A: Stern boss (TASKMASTER); 19A: Orphaned author raised by the Allans (POE); 20A: Winter warmer (HOT TEA); 21A: __'clock scholar (TEN O); 22A: Incomplete rainbow (SUNDOG); 24A: It may be fit for a queen (TIARA); 26A: Dry gulch (ARROYO); 27A: Buff (FIEND); 29A: Kit Carson House site (TAOS); 30A: They may come in a pack (LIES); 32A: Verbal flourishes (TA-DAS); 36A: "Here __ Again" (Whitesnake #1 hit) (I GO); 37A: Start of a religious title (DALAI); 39A: Amphibian youngster (EFT); 40A: Score markings (TEMPI); 43A: When both hands are up (NOON); 44A: Some bank holdings (DATA); 45A: Club newsletter (ORGAN); 47A: Like some kisses (STOLEN); 49A: Winter warmer (PARKA); 51A: "Let's keep moving!" ("ONWARD!"); 52A: Champagne designation (BRUT); 53A: Tangles, or disentangles (RAVELS); 57A: Year before Columbus's fourth voyage (MDI); 58A: California shopping mecca (RODEO DRIVE); 60A: Penn name (SEAN); 61A: "It doesn't get any better than this" ("I'M IN HEAVEN"); 62A: Pioneering puppeteer Tony (SARG); 63A: Alabama and Mississippi are in it (COTTON BELT); 64A: Large order (ELKS); 1D: Doesn't quit (KEEPS AT IT); 2D: Posse (ENTOURAGE); 3D: Where one might anticipate being introduced (GREEN ROOM); 4D: M.O. (SYS.); 5D: Vernacular jackpot (POT O' GOLD); 6D: No-see-um, e.g. (GNAT); 7D: Mike holder's opening, often (TEST); 8D: Cod cousin (HAKE); 9D: Cell dweller (INMATE); 10D: Dietary no. (RDA); 11D: Fiesta fare (TOSTADA); 12D: Decide to compete (ENTER); 13D: "Uncle Vanya" role (ELENA); 14D: "Stoned Soul Picnic" songwriter (NYRO); 20D: Today, in Tijuana (HOY); 23D: List of acceptable behavior (DOS); 25D: 1099-__: bank-issued tax form (INT); 27D: Record holder? (FELON); 28D: Five-time Japan Senior Open winner Aoki (ISAO); 31D: Ending for Louis (-IANA); 33D: Richard Simmons weight-loss program with color-coded cards (DEAL A MEAL); 34D: At night (AFTER DARK); 35D: Sports page feature (STANDINGS); 38D: Cheeky (INSOLENT); 41D: Sign to heed (PORTENT); 42D: Nettle (IRK); 44D: Average fellow? (DOW); 46D: Party locale (GARDEN); 48D: Shipping wts. (TNS.); 49D: Ad (PROMO); 50D: Review of books? (AUDIT); 52D: __-a-brac (BRIC); 54D: __ League (ARAB); 55D: On the qui __: alert (VIVE); 56D: Big name in jumping (EVEL); 59D: "Well, well!" ("OHO!"); 60D: 157.5 degrees from N (SSE).


FRIDAY, May 28, 2010 — David Poole

THEME: OOF PRINTS! — "H" dropped from the front of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

A bouncy and entertaining puzzle, and by far the hardest one of this week so far. I especially like that the constructor cared enough to give us five different theme answers that appear in alphabetical order, with a different vowel leading off the wacky phrase in each instance. There are some ugly abbrevs. in the grid — ECUA, IDENT, and *especially* TOC, which I only just this second figured out ("Table Of Contents") — but most of the rest of the fill is pretty solid, and the theme answers are good enough that the infelicities in the grid hardly matter.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Works in Satan's museum? (ART OF DARKNESS)
  • 27A: "Tell Senator Bayh to take a number? ("EVAN CAN WAIT!")
  • 38A: Egotism? (I ESTEEM)
  • 47A: Resistance quashers? (OHM WRECKERS)
  • 55A: Evidence of a love-hate relationship? (UGHS AND KISSES)

Worst of the lot, by far, is I ESTEEM. I didn't realize it was a theme answer until after I was done — figured it was some odd colloquial phrase I just hadn't heard before. Of all the "HIGH" phrases in the world, you go with "HIGH ESTEEM" as your base phrase?! That's a cop out of the first order. SOCIETY? SCHOOL? ANXIETY? BROW? CHAIR? DEFINITION? FIBER? Etc. etc. etc. Guess ESTEEM's many ultra-common letters were too hard to resist. A shame. Speaking of HIGH phrases ... what is up with the clue on SIERRA (9D: Saw-toothed ridge)? That is a new one on me, though the "ridge" part suggested mountains enough that I was able to piece it together. Can't say I'm thrilled to see SIERRA and CIERA in the same grid (67A: Olds Cutlass model).

Crosswordese 101: BIFF (1A: Willy Loman's favorite son) — crosswords are the only reason I know this bit of literary / theatrical trivia. BIFF also occasionally gets clued as the bully in "Back to the Future." I do not remember this character, but then again I haven't seen "Back to the Future" since it came out in the mid-80s.

What else?

  • 36A: One objecting to a called strike (SCAB) — I think the SCAB benefits from the strike. How is he "objecting" to it, exactly? I get that the clue is trying to make you think baseball, but the clue's gotta make sense on some level, esp. w/o a "?" at the end of it.
  • 8D: Alhambra wall artwork (MOSAIC) — very nice clue. "Artwork" in clue for answer that crosses ART OF DARKNESS probably should have been rethought, but that's a minor detail.

See you Memorial Day!


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Everything Else — 5A: Clothes lines (SEAMS); 10A: Sweet Sixteen initials (NCAA); 14A: Like some history (ORAL); 15A: Ballade's closing stanza (ENVOI); 16A: Aloe, for one (BALM); 17A: Fictional princess (XENA); 18A: Pretense (GUISE); 19A: First Nations tribe (CREE); 23A: More felicitous (APTER); 25A: "Dies __" (IRAE); 26A: Hugh Capet, par exemple (ROI); 34A: List of chaps. (TOC); 35A: Amarone or Barolo (VINO); 36A: One objecting to a called strike (SCAB); 37A: Where, to Brutus (UBI); 42A: __ Friday's: restaurant (TGI); 43A: Tabula __ (RASA); 45A: Cousin of hibiscus (OKRA); 46A: Three-time NHL MVP (ORR); 51A: Beatty of "Network" (NED); 52A: Andean nation: Abbr. (ECUA.); 53A: Patella sites (KNEES); 61A: 1934 role for Claudette, briefly (CLEO); 62A: Birth cert., e.g. (IDENT.); 63A: Casualty of German reunification (WALL); 66A: "Kinsey" star Neeson (LIAM); 67A: Olds Cutlass model (CIERA); 68A: Syrup brand (EGGO); 69A: Cutting the mustard (ABLE); 70A: Moray catcher (EELER); 71A: Out of concern that (LEST); 1D: Place for letters (BOX); 2D: More than annoyance (IRE); 3D: Santayana defines it as "redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim" (FANATICISM); 4D: Common skirt feature (FLARE); 5D: Utah state flower (SEGO); 6D: Adequate, slangily (ENUF); 7D: Gung-ho (AVID); 8D: Alhambra wall artwork (MOSAIC); 9D: Saw-toothed ridge (SIERRA); 10D: "The Chris Matthews Show" producer (NBC NEWS); 11D: __ package (CARE); 12D: Pub quaffs (ALES); 13D: Central Iowa city (AMES); 21D: Rome's Fontana di __ (TREVI); 22D: Central U.S. state (KAN); 23D: Conductor Toscanini (ARTURO); 24D: Authority (POOBAH); 28D: Contest (VIE); 29D: Yvette's years (ANS); 30D: Far from fine (NOT OK); 31D: Be mature (ACT ONE'S AGE); 32D: "Hear, hear!" ("I AGREE!"); 33D: Cars designed to compete with Corvettes (T-BIRDS); 39D: Scrape together, with "out" (EKE); 40D: Stray (ERR); 41D: Hides (MASKS); 44D: "Totally rad!" ("AWESOME!"); 48D: "His Master's Voice" co. (RCA); 49D: Carol Burnett persona (EUNICE); 50D: One carrying a bag (CADDIE); 54D: Banister post (NEWEL); 55D: The Bruins of the 10-Across (UCLA); 56D: Like con artists (GLIB); 57D: Make sound (HEAL); 58D: Stem-to-stern part (KEEL); 59D: Memo words (IN RE); 60D: High light (STAR); 64D: Some HDTVs (LGS); 65D: Developer's unit (LOT).


THURSDAY, May 27, 2010 — Nathan Miller

Theme: Fish Wrangler — Fish puns!

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Price decrease for a stout-bodied fish? (GROUPER DISCOUNT).
  • 25A: Habitat for orange fish? (ROUGHY HOUSING).
  • 45A: Road for Minnesota's state fish? (WALLEYE STREET).
  • 57A: Verdict for a tropical fish? (SNAPPER JUDGMENT).
I was up late watching the American Idol finale so this is going to be quick. I figure this is really the last time I can slack off because starting next week I have to get serious. We'll see how that goes I guess.

I liked this puzzle just fine. Very cute theme. How did I know the walleye is the Minnesota state fish? I guess we just learn some things by osmosis.

Random tangents:
  • 15A: Pat's partner (VANNA). I had no idea where this one was going. With *ANNA in place I had … nothing.
  • 35A: 1997 Smith/Jones film, briefly (MIB).

  • 37A: TomTom or Magellan unit, for short (GPS). A couple years ago we took a small plane for the last leg of our trip to Nosara, Costa Rica. Usually we just drive it, but we thought it might be fun especially for the kids. So we board the plane, I'd say it had, I don't know, 24 seats. Not super super small, but pretty small. We're sitting pretty close to the front and we can see everything the pilots are doing because there's no door to the cockpit. The first thing PuzzleHusband notices is that the GPS they're using is exactly the same as the one we have in our car. Confidence inspiring! (It did turn out to be pretty fun though.)
  • 48A: "Enough!" ("CEASE!"). I'm gonna start using this with the PuzzleKids. I think it will make them laugh.
  • 60A: Boy leader? (ATTA). The "word" atta comes before (i.e., leads) the word boy in the phrase "atta boy."
  • 4D: McMuffin meat, maybe (SAUSAGE). Remember Father Guido Sarducci from the early days of Saturday Night Live? His real name is Don Novello and he had a book out back then that was really funny. The book was full of letters he had written to famous people, corporations, etc., and the responses he got. The letters he wrote were dumb. I mean, really dumb. For example, he wrote to McDonald's asking why they always pictured jelly in their advertisements for Egg McMuffins because, obviously, no one would put jelly on an Egg McMuffin. He got a very serious response from the company explaining that some people removed one half of the breading from the sandwich and would eat it with jelly. Maybe that doesn't sound all that funny the way I explain it, but trust me. It's good stuff.
  • 6D: Not any (NARY). Started out with none. I've gotta believe I'm not alone there.
  • 38D: Greek sea god (POSEIDON). Ever since PuzzleSon read the Percy Jackson series he's absolutely convinced that PuzzleHusband is Poseidon. Maybe I should tell him the story of the first time PH went boogie boarding in the ocean and he got caught by a big wave and lost both his flippers and his wedding ring. (We'd only been married seven months at the time. Sheesh!) I'm confident that would not happen to the Greek God of the Sea.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 14A: Musical with the song "Another Pyramid" (AIDA).
  • 36A: __ Lingus (AER).
  • 42A: Muffin topper (OLEO).
  • 44A: Ship of Greek myth (ARGO).
  • 50D: Bygone ruler TSAR).
Everything Else — 1A: Cooling units, briefly (BTUS); 5A: Center of Cleveland? (O'NEAL); 10A: Tolstoy's Karenina (ANNA); 14A: Musical with the song "Another Pyramid" (AIDA); 16A: Somber film genre (NOIR); 20A: Part of ESP (SENSORY); 21A: 2000 Olympics city (SYDNEY); 22A: A smoker may flick it off (ASH); 23A: Black wood (EBONY); 30A: Skunk moniker (PEPE); 31A: Manhattan's __ Station (PENN); 32A: Text receivers (CELLS); 36A: __ Lingus (AER); 39A: ISP featuring CBS Radio stations (AOL); 40A: Oscar Madison et al. (SLOBS); 42A: Muffin topper (OLEO); 44A: Ship of Greek myth (ARGO); 49A: Put away the groceries? (EAT); 50A: CNBC weekday crawl (TICKER); 53A: Movie venues (CINEMAS); 61A: On account of (DUE TO); 62A: Minuscule bit (IOTA); 63A: Promising (ROSY); 64A: First name in humorous poetry (OGDEN); 65A: Big gulp (SWIG); 1D: "Paper or plastic?" items (BAGS); 2D: Spare for a change (TIRE); 3D: Japanese noodle (UDON); 5D: Promote to excess (OVERHYPE); 7D: Means justifier (END); 8D: Feminist musician DiFranco (ANI); 9D: Lariats (LASSOS); 10D: Pain reliever (ANODYNE); 11D: Pencil, pen, or quill (NOUN); 12D: Whom "seven ate," in a joke (NINE); 13D: Like some museumgoers (ARTY); 18D: Luxurious (POSH); 19D: Disbelievers (CYNICS); 23D: About 525 trillion minutes, in astronomy (EON); 24D: Jumper cable? (BUNGEE); 25D: 45 and 78, e.g.: Abbr. (RPMS); 26D: Versailles eye (OEIL); 27D: Violin stroke (UPBOW); 28D: Medal recipients (HEROES); 29D: Downside of sailing off into the sunset? (GLARE); 33D: Mezzanine cousin (LOGE); 34D: Coin collector? (SLOT); 36D: Zonked (ASLEEP); 41D: Past due wages (BACKPAY); 43D: Drano ingredient (LYE); 44D: Huntress daughter of Zeus and Leto (ARTEMIS); 46D: Texas border city (LAREDO); 47D: Citrus drink used by NASA (TANG); 50D: Bygone ruler (TSAR); 51D: "__ the Woods" (INTO); 52D: Broadway's second-longest-running show (CATS); 53D: Darling (CUTE); 54D: Call from 52-Down (MEOW); 55D: Opposition member (ANTI); 56D: All-male party (STAG); 58D: Hairpiece (RUG); 59D: Martin's role in "The West Wing" (JED).


WEDNESDAY, May 26, 2010—Dan Naddor

THEME: "World Leader Pretend"—Seven of the eight interlaced theme entries begin with words that can precede "world"

Theme entries:
  • 17a. [*Happy-go-lucky] means FREE AND EASY. The free world costs less than the expensive world.
  • 26a. [*Scandal involving plumbers] is WATERGATE. Waterworld! This Kevin Costner movie presaged Costner's smartness with water-and-oil issues. He's come up with a technology that BP might need to use to clean up its horrible mess.
  • 45a. [*Something to touch before getting home?] is THIRD BASE. I know the U.S. is part of the first world, and the third world consists of developing nations. So, what's the second world? And how many of you thought of making out rather than baseball when you got this answer? And if the latter, how come there's nothing for a girl to touch on a guy that constitutes each base?
  • 5d. [*Genuine article] is the REAL MCCOY. Real world is generic and also MTV-specific: The Real World.
  • 11d. [*Baseball fan's dream come true] is FANTASY CAMP. Are you living in a fantasy world? In my fantasy world, this answer related to fantasy baseball, and the WORLD ___ answer had to be WORLD SERIES, and baseball was hiding everywhere in this puzzle. Er, no.
  • 25d. "I, the UNDERSIGNED," am a [*Letter writer, formally]. Do you prefer your underworld to be mob-related, vampire-related, or hell-related?
  • 35d. [*Veterans] are OLD TIMERS, and the Old World is Europe, Africa, and Asia.
  • 54a. Tying it all together, WORLD LEADER is a [Summit attendee, and what the first word can be in each answer to a starred clue].
That's a lot of thematic material for a 15x15 crossword, people. Dan even squeezed in some 7- and 8-letter fill. It was mildly confusing that the 8s are compounds that sound like they fit in with the theme entries—DEAD MAIL and SIDECARS don't have asterisked clues, though, and "dead world" and "side world" aren't familiar "worlds" like the theme results.
A number of the 3s are abbreviations, but all familiar ones.
Eight more clues:
  • 14a. Marvelous [Marvin of boxing]'s last name is HAGLER.
  • 34a. [Koala kid] is a JOEY. I think I was completely guessing on that, but what do you know? It turned out to be right. Maybe I have heard it before.
  • 59a. [Some people lie about theirs] clues AGE. Not me—I only lie about PuzzleGirl's age.
  • 63a. [Exxon, once] was called ESSO. I am in no mood to see oil conglomerate names in the puzzle, people.
  • 18d. [J&B alternative] clues DEWARS. I, for one, do not wish to hear an exposition on which brands of Scotch are the best. But I can tell you where to go for killer margaritas in Chicago! (Cesar's.)
  • 22d. AGLEAM means [Shining]. This is part of the family of a- words that are encountered more often in crosswords than in the REAL WORLD. Agleam, abeam, agape, aslant, alee? Meh. But amok, awry, and akimbo rock.
  • 33d. [Est founder Werner __] ERHARD always makes me think of that woman named Marilyn I babysat for when I was 12. She had Est things posted on her fridge, and I still don't understand. Props to Dan for using Est to clue ERHARD rather than using Werner Erhard to clue EST.
  • 39d. [XCII x VI] is DLII. You know what I usually do with Roman numeral math clues? I multiply the end numbers to see what the answer will end with. 2 x 6 = 12, so the last two letters are II. I let the crossings fill in the rest.

Crosswordese 101: ALB! You may remember the ORALE, and now here's the related ALB, or 16a: [Priest's robe]. It may be clued as a priestly, liturgical, mass, or Vatican garment or vestment. Less often, it's clued as an abbreviation for Albania, such as [Tirana's country: Abbr.] or [Yugo. neighbor].

Everything Else — 1A: Hook-and-loop fastener (VELCRO); 7A: Masterpieces (GEMS); 11A: Lucrative (FAT); 14A: Marvin of boxing (HAGLER); 15A: Carbon compound (ENOL); 16A: Priest's robe (ALB); 17A: *Happy-go-lucky (FREE AND EASY); 19A: Sgt., for one (NCO); 20A: Natural emollient (ALOE); 21A: Use a crib for (CHEAT ON); 23A: __ und Drang (STURM); 26A: *Scandal involving plumbers (WATERGATE); 28A: Part of BYOB (OWN); 29A: Controversial 2000 election issue (CHADS); 31A: WWII transport (LST); 32A: Brandy cocktails (SIDECARS); 34A: Koala kid (JOEY); 36A: Oppressive (ONEROUS); 37A: Tightened, as shoes (RELACED); 40A: Actor John __-Davies (RHYS); 41A: It's undeliverable and unreturnable (DEAD MAIL); 42A: Civil War letters (CSA); 43A: "I __ born yesterday!" (WASN'T); 44A: Radiology staple, for short (MRI); 45A: *Something to touch before getting home? (THIRD BASE); 48A: Louvre Pyramid architect (I.M. PEI); 50A: #1 hit for the 4 Seasons (RAG DOLL); 51A: Appoint (NAME); 53A: Bed-and-breakfast (INN); 54A: Summit attendee, and what the first word can be in each answer to a starred clue (WORLD LEADER); 59A: Some people lie about theirs (AGE); 60A: Theater souvenir (STUB); 61A: Directions from the brass (ORDERS); 62A: Directed (LED); 63A: Exxon, once (ESSO); 64A: Home to online newsgroups (USENET); 1D: TV channels 2-13 (VHF); 2D: Pencil holder? (EAR); 3D: Bigger than med. (LGE.); 4D: Exonerate (CLEAR); 5D: *Genuine article (REAL MCCOY); 6D: "Yes __?" (OR NO); 7D: "How about that!" ("GEE!"); 8D: Passes (ENACTS); 9D: Israel's Dayan (MOSHE); 10D: More devious (SLYER); 11D: *Baseball fan's dream come true (FANTASY CAMP); 12D: "Little Women" author (ALCOTT); 13D: Steakhouse order (T-BONE); 18D: J&B alternative (DEWARS); 22D: Shining (AGLEAM); 23D: Ho-hum (SO-SO); 24D: Bed in old sitcoms (TWIN); 25D: *Letter writer, formally (UNDERSIGNED); 27D: Much spam (ADS); 30D: Fräulein's residence (HAUS); 33D: Est founder Werner __ (ERHARD); 34D: Composer Sibelius (JEAN); 35D: *Veterans (OLD-TIMERS); 37D: React to an e-mail error message, maybe (RESEND); 38D: The Auld Sod (EIRE); 39D: XCII x VI (DLII); 41D: Perp prosecutors (DAS); 42D: Adapt (CHANGE); 43D: Critter in a John Lennon title (WALRUS); 45D: Dry run (TRIAL); 46D: Look for water (DOWSE); 47D: Dries gently (BLOTS); 49D: Gettysburg general (MEADE); 52D: Baseball's Moises (ALOU); 55D: Wall St. deal (LBO); 56D: Barcalounger site (DEN); 57D: Prepositional palindrome (ERE); 58D: Queue after Q (RST).


TUESDAY, May 25, 2010 — Jerome Gunderson

Theme: "Name Changes" — Theme answers are familiar phrases that end in words that can be men's names.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Robinson and Thomas? (BALLPARK FRANKS).
  • 37A: Owens and Henry? (COUPLE OF BUCKS).
  • 54A: Garfunkel and Tatum? (PERFORMING ARTS).
Like yesterday's puzzle, today's theme includes names. Also like yesterday's puzzle, today's grid only includes three theme answers. Unlike yesterday's puzzle, however, these theme answers rock. Turns out this theme has been done before (and with two of the same theme answers!), so points off for originality. But that didn't affect my solving experience because I don't remember doing that other puzzle. Quick story. About a hundred years ago, I worked at the B. Dalton on Fifth Avenue in New York. I worked at the service desk which, especially at this particular branch, was always a bustling place. There were usually three or four of us staffing the desk and there were always people waiting. Plus we answered the phone. It was nuts. So one day, I'm sitting at the desk answering the phone, looking up a title, and doing about six other things all at the same time and I hear this voice say "Could I get you to hold these books for me and I'll pick them up later?" So I hang up the phone, grab a piece of note paper, poise my pen, and respond, "Sure, what's your name?" as I look up at the customer. He gives me a funny smile and sort of whispers "Art Garfunkel." I say, "Of course it is." That's my favorite Brush With Greatness story. And, by the way, you know how sometimes you'll be hanging out with a group of friends and everybody starts telling their Brush With Greatness stories and when it's all said and done one person "wins"? Well, don't ever play that game with PuzzleSister unless you don't mind losing. Her story involves catching a ride with Paul Newman so, yeah, she pretty much wins every time.

Back to the puzzle!
  • 5A: Half a '60s pop group (MAMAS). Seems like an awful lot of music in today's puzzle and it really covers the spectrum, from The Mamas and the Papas to Jay-Z (43A: Jay-Z's genre (RAP)), to …
  • 15A: Dedicatee of Beethoven's "Bagatelle in A Minor" (ELISE). Of course you know this tune. You've heard it a million times. Every young person who has ever had a piano lesson knows this song. But have you ever heard it like this?

  • 27A: "Impossible!" ("NO WAY!"). I'm a fan of the colloquial phrases. See also 8D: "Yeah, right!" ("AS IF!"). Both of which are connected to 46D: Like lies (UNTRUE)!
  • 29A: Where the buffalo roam (LEA). I think LEA is more often clued in relation to sheep. I think of buffalos roaming the plain.
  • 40A: PBS science series (NOVA). Is there a science show called "Omni"? 'Cuz I always think "Omni" before "Nova."
  • 2D: Italian region known for its cheese (ASIAGO). Mmmmm, cheese.
  • 7D: Weasel cousins (MINKS). I was also once with a group of friends trying to determine who had worked at the worst job. One of the girls had worked (for, like, a day) at a place where it was her job to cut off the little paws of minks. Eww.
  • 13D: Wrestling surface (MAT). Mmmmm, wrestling.
  • 37D: Bargain for reduced charges (COP A PLEA). This looked all kindsa wrong in the grid until every single letter was there.
Crosswordese 101: IPANA is a "classic toothpaste brand" that was once pitched by an animated beaver named Bucky, who sang a song that went "Brusha, brusha, brusha." You might remember it from the sleepover scene in "Grease." (Which, by the way … I saw that movie like 12 times in the theater when it first came out. Loved. It. I look back on it now and think "What a great message to send to teenage girls! If you can't keep your guy's attention because you're too much of a goody-goody, get yourself all slutted up at the carnival and — bam! — problem solved!") Anyway. IPANA, with its VCVCV pattern is definitely Crossword Gold (tm Rex Parker).

Everything Else — 1A: Indiana senator Evan (BAYH); 10A: News article (ITEM); 14A: Start of a crystal ball user's prediction (I SEE); 16A: Haydn sobriquet (PAPA); 17A: __ monster: lizard (GILA); 18A: Patty Hearst's SLA alias (TANIA); 19A: Landed (ALIT); 23A: Sense of self (EGO); 24A: Poor offering (ALMS); 25A: Skewered fare (KABOB); 31A: Fruity refreshment (ADE); 32A: Argue (QUARREL); 36A: Passed with flying colors (ACED); 41A: Most corpulent (FATTEST); 42A: Do an impression of (APE); 44A: Point of contention (ISSUE); 48A: City of Light, to Cole Porter (PAREE); 50A: Memphis middle name (ARON); 53A: Cease (END); 58A: Lively style (ELAN); 59A: Sylvan setting (WOODS); 60A: Muddy area (MIRE); 61A: Legendary Asian beast (YETI); 62A: Sweden neighbor, to a Swede (NORGE); 63A: Heavy hammer (MAUL); 64A: Let up (EASE); 65A: Marksman's game (SKEET); 66A: Corrida encouragements (OLÉS); 1D: Nickname of London's Great Bell (BIG BEN); 3D: Brick road color (YELLOW); 4D: Cure (HEAL); 5D: Heavy rock? (METAL); 6D: Frighten (ALARM); 9D: Char (SEAR); 10D: Bucky Beaver's toothpaste (IPANA); 11D: Sass, with "to" (TALK BACK); 12D: 45-Down parts (EPISODES); 21D: Settle a debt (PAY UP); 22D: Wanted poster letters (AKA); 26D: Garden plot (BED); 28D: Color similar to robin egg blue (AQUA); 29D: Baseball field? (LEFT); 30D: Hamburg's river (ELBE); 33D: A, in communications (ALFA); 34D: Gather (REAP); 35D: Balderdash (ROT); 36D: Play segments (ACTS); 38D: Pigs out (OVEREATS); 39D: Taking advantage of (USING); 40D: Doze (NAP); 43D: Court arbiter (REF); 45D: Story published in installments (SERIAL); 47D: Ford failures (EDSELS); 49D: Ford from Tennessee (ERNIE); 50D: Luigi's love (AMORE); 51D: Mountain feature (RIDGE); 52D: Start (ONSET); 55D: Holds the deed to (OWNS); 56D: Rank-and-file chess piece (ROOK); 57D: Firearm filler (AMMO); 58D: CBS symbol (EYE).


MONDAY, May 24, 2010 — John Lampkin

THEME: M AND MS (45D: Mars mouthful; also, a hint to this puzzle's theme)
— title + name, where both start with "M"

This theme is pretty weak, and pretty SPARSE to boot (49D: Thinly populated). Only three short theme answers, and then the awkward-looking M-(non-ampersand) AND-MS over in the SW corner. Issues: there are lots of other possibilities, so these examples feel completely arbitrary; MISTER is spelled out, making it unparallel to MRS.; and the "MR." in "MR. MAGOO" is abbreviated, not spelled out (see also the lack of ampersand in MANDMS). The whole thing feels like a decent germ of an idea that wasn't given the time, care, and attention it needed to become a good puzzle. Slapdash. I mean, the MAYOR in the NE (16A: City chief) is making think of MAYOR MCCHEESE — now that's an M&M theme answer!

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Etiquette authority (MISS MANNERS) — see also MARPLE, MOLLY, and MUFFET, etc.
  • 38A: Cantankerous toon (MISTER MAGOO) — see also MIYAGI, MICROPHONE, MOM, MOTO, etc.
  • 57A: Sheridan's misuser of words (MRS. MALAPROP) — see also MINIVER (fewer viable options here)

I disliked AT DUSK, and then redisliked it when it ended up crossing RANT AT. Crossing "AT" phrases = boo. Suggests you have an "AT" TIC (36A: Upper-story storage) (which, fittingly, runs right through this mess). CHERIE in a puzzle that already has OTERI in it (19A: Cheri who impersonated Judge Judy on "Saturday Night Live")? Can't tell whether that's cute or dreadful. To be fair, the fill in this puzzle is mostly pretty good. I mean, throw out the (always horrible) Random Roman Numeral Longer Than Three Characters, and the two "A" partials (A MOST, A HORSE), and things actually look pretty solid. Down in the NW, all the way into the center of the puzzle (i.e. GAS MASK to STOKER), are especially nice.

Crosswordese 101: ORE (25A: Forty-niner's find) — perhaps because it's a reasonably common, widely known word, we have not yet covered ORE. This despite its being one of the most common three-letter words in all of puzzledom. When constructors want to hide it a little, they use plays on words like "vein" or "seam" or "bank deposit" or the like. When they want to hide it a lot, they clue it as [1/100th of a krone].

See you Friday for my penultimate LAT write-up,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Criminal group (GANG); 5A: What a judge sets (BAIL); 9A: Modify, as a motion (AMEND); 14A: Suit to __ (A TEE); 15A: Gillette's __ Plus razor (ATRA); 16A: City chief (MAYOR); 17A: Basted, but not with butter (SEWN); 18A: Charge with a crime (BOOK); 19A: Cheri who impersonated Judge Judy on "Saturday Night Live" (OTERI); 20A: Etiquette authority (MISS MANNERS); 23A: Fiver (FIN); 24A: Critter that can carry many times its own weight (ANT); 25A: Forty-niner's find (ORE); 26A: Just after sunset (AT DUSK); 28A: Take the wheel (STEER); 30A: Bridge distance (SPAN); 33A: Antlered grazers (ELKS); 34A: Arboreal Australian critters (KOALAS); 36A: Upper-story storage (ATTIC); 38A: Cantankerous toon (MISTER MAGOO); 41A: Strikes through, as text (X'S OUT); 42A: Seek aid from (TURN TO); 45A: Early 15th-century year (MCDI); 48A: Actor Kristofferson (KRIS); 50A: '90s Defense secretary Les (ASPIN); 51A: "... my kingdom for __!" (A HORSE); 53A: Bad review (PAN); 55A: Jungle swinger (APE); 56A: Prefix with conservative (NEO); 57A: Sheridan's misuser of words (MRS. MALAPROP); 61A: Friend of Eminem (DR. DRE); 63A: Injured (HURT); 64A: Sitar master Shankar (RAVI); 65A: Mazda roadster (MIATA); 66A: Last word in a threat (ELSE); 67A: Serpent's home in Genesis (EDEN); 68A: Jewish feast (SEDER); 69A: Bambi, for one (DEER); 70A: Flippant (PERT); 1D: Riot squad gear (GAS MASK); 2D: Corroded (ATE INTO); 3D: Group that breaks breaking stories (NEWS TEAM); 4D: Mil. leaders (GENS); 5D: Picture book elephant (BABAR); 6D: Does penance (for) (ATONES); 7D: Gadget that gets out the creases (IRON); 8D: Boating spot (LAKE); 9D: "It's __ Unusual Day": 1948 song (A MOST); 10D: Doorway welcomer (MAT); 11D: Good-looker (EYEFUL); 12D: Perfectly safe, as an investment (NO-RISK); 13D: Bar buys (DRINKS); 21D: Marshy tract (MORASS); 22D: Beat up on verbally (RANT AT); 27D: Room treatments (DECORS); 29D: Cure-all potion (ELIXIR); 31D: Miniseries' first section (PART I); 32D: Deposit or withdrawal gizmo, briefly (ATM); 35D: "Dracula" author Bram (STOKER); 37D: Big lizard (IGUANA); 39D: The Continent: Abbr. (EUR.); 40D: Displayed in a public procession (ON PARADE); 43D: Cause to topple (TIP OVER); 44D: Eighth of a gallon (ONE PINT); 45D: Mars mouthful; also, a hint to this puzzle's theme (M AND MS); 46D: Paris sweetie (CHERIE); 47D: Thingy (DOO-DAD); 49D: Thinly populated (SPARSE); 52D: Blur, as wet ink (SMEAR); 54D: Change (ALTER); 58D: Backyard storage (SHED); 59D: Stubborn beast (MULE); 60D: Get ready, for short (PREP); 62D: Hwy. (RTE.).


SUNDAY, May 23, 2010 — Merl Reagle (calendar)

Theme: "Can(i)nes Film Festival, Part 2" — Dog/Movie Puns (Merl's Note: That other film festival (in France) ends today, but ours is still quite frisky. (Basset on.))

[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 today's syndicated puzzle.]

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Blue-eyed dog star? (PAW NEWMAN).
  • 25A: 1957 Tyrone Power film about a dog that's left behind? (ABANDON SHEP).
  • 34A: Film about the happiest dog in the West? (WAGGIN' MASTER).
  • 38A: Popular canine character that sheds a lot? (HAIRY POTTER).
  • 52A: War film starring Snoopy as a flying ace? (WHERE BEAGLES DARE).
  • 63A: Dogs' favorite actress? (DROOLIA ROBERTS).
  • 75A: Film whose poster slogan is "Scratch me if you can"? (LORD OF THE FLEAS).
  • 86A: Dogs' second favorite actress? (MARY LOUISE BARKER).
  • 101A/104A: "Scariest movie ever," according to dogs? (ATTACK OF THE / GIANT LEASHES).
  • 118A: "Scariest actor ever," according to dogs? (DAVID SPAYED).
  • 122A: Where the festival is held? (COLLARADO).
Everything Else — 1A: Some hayride participants (GALS); 5A: Tot spot (CRIB); 9A: Remove a blockage from (UNCLOG); 15A: Michael Ondaatje novel, "___'s Ghost" (ANIL); 19A: "... is ___ forever" (A JOY); 20A: A Mrs. Chaplin (OONA); 21A: Holy city? (TOLEDO); 22A: Really teed off (SORE); 27A: Build (ERECT); 28A: Aid, in a way (ABET); 30A: QB's error: abbr. (INT.); 31A: River under the Pont Neuf (SEINE); 32A: Top Egyptian's first name (HOSNI); 42A: Tiffany of lamp fame (LOUIS); 43A: Undergo diffusion (OSMOSE); 44A: Chimp's cousin (ORANG); 47A: Takeoff time, approx. (ETD); 48A: Busy place (HUB); 51A: Ms. Merkel (UNA); 57A: Pola of the silents (NEGRI); 60A: Hectic hosp. areas (ERS); 61A: "Unhappily ..." ("ALAS…"); 62A: Cumming of "Spy Kids" (ALAN); 67A: "The Governator" (ARNOLD); 69A: Tabloid tidbits (DIRT); 70A: Highest: abbr. (ULT.); 71A: Booty (SWAG); 72A: Muffin alternatives (SCONES); 82A: Actress Sommer (ELKE); 83A: Enlist anew (REUP); 84A: Nasdaq debut, perh. (IPO); 85A: ___ Haute (TERRE); 92A: Palindromic writer (NIN); 93A: Rhoda's TV mom (IDA); 94A: Sphere (ORB); 95A: Sea birds (TERNS); 96A: Nuclear experiments, in headlines (A-TESTS); 99A: Bar none (OF ALL); 109A: Volume setting? (SHELF); 110A: Future seed (OVULE); 111A: Daisy or Fannie follower (MAE); 112A: John's lady (YOKO); 114A: New grandparent, often (DOTER); 124A: "Go right ___" (ON IN); 125A: How mud might move (OOZILY); 126A: Island shimmy (HULA); 127A: King Kong victim, briefly (1933) (T-REX); 128A: Antler feature (TINE); 129A: Repetitive buzzer? (TSE-TSE); 130A: Command to a dog (STAY); 131A: VAIO computer maker (SONY); 1D: Look amazed (GAPE); 2D: Partly open (AJAR); 3D: "The West Wing" co-star (LOWE); 4D: Prefix meaning "occurring together" (SYNCHRO-); 5D: Dairy sight (COW); 6D: Funny Ray (ROMANO); 7D: Shortly (IN A BIT); 8D: Bringer of ill (BANE); 9D: Acting teacher's first name (UTA); 10D: "___ deal" ("forget it") (NO BIG); 11D: Cable car sound (CLANG); 12D: Soup ingredient (LENTIL); 13D: Quirky (ODD); 14D: Hot tar, e.g. (GOO); 15D: Put a value on (ASSESS); 16D: Superbly pitched (NO-HIT); 17D: Cara or Castle (IRENE); 18D: Ben-Hur's mother becomes one (LEPER); 24D: Playthings bought online (ETOYS); 26D: Aspirin and ibuprofen, for example, in pharmacy parlance (NSAIDS); 29D: Quaint contraction ('TWERE); 33D: Gush (SPEW); 35D: Mecca resident (ARAB); 36D: Christmas carols (NOELS); 37D: Sound-killing button (MUTE); 38D: Dog in a Doyle tale (HOUND); 39D: Grant portrayer (ASNER); 40D: Insect stage (IMAGO); 41D: Upper body (TORSO); 45D: Close by (NEAR TO); 46D: Ayn Rand's John (GALT); 48D: Circle of light (HALO); 49D: Russia's ___ Mountains (URAL); 50D: Compromise (BEND); 53D: Peppery intensity (HEAT); 54D: Go wrong (ERR); 55D: Ford filler (GAS); 56D: Hang loosely (DANGLE); 58D: Chevy, Bill, and Ted's "Caddyshack" co-star (RODNEY); 59D: "Would ___?" (I LIE); 64D: Return-checking org. (IRS); 65D: Seed company (BURPEE); 66D: "Ragtime" author's initials (ELD); 67D: Veneration (AWE); 68D: Rapids transit (RAFT); 71D: Large family's home, in a rhyme (SHOE); 72D: Partly (SEMI); 73D: Attired (CLAD); 74D: Soup veggie (OKRA); 75D: 126 Across accessory (LEI); 76D: Unseat (OUST); 77D: "For starters ..." ("FIRST…"); 78D: Toll rte. (TPK.); 79D: He directed Greta in "Ninotchka" (ERNST); 80D: Grade school subj. (ARITH.); 81D: Impression (SENSE); 83D: Bit of change, in Russia (RUBLE); 87D: Hit high (LOFTED); 88D: ___ exam (ORAL); 89D: Highland hillside (BRAE); 90D: Restless (ANTSY); 91D: Lawn tool (RAKE); 97D: ___ fib (TOLD A); 98D: Exertions (EFFORTS); 99D: Seeing the sites? (ONLINE); 100D: Labor class? (LAMAZE); 102D: Invite to a movie, say (ASK OUT); 103D: Cactus garden option (CHOLLA); 104D: Literary no-show (GODOT); 105D: 14th century Russian prince (IVAN I); 106D: Coq ___ (AU VIN); 107D: "Don't hold back!" ("SAY IT!"); 108D: Cobbler's supply (HEELS); 113D: Folk singer Phil (OCHS); 115D: Tropical tuber (TARO); 116D: Paradise lost (EDEN); 117D: Classic theater name (ROXY); 119D: Barfly (SOT); 120D: Terminal abbr. (POS); 121D: Fuchsin, for one (DYE); 123D: Frito follower (-LAY).

SUNDAY, May 23, 2010 — Pamela Amick Klawitter (syndicated)

Theme: "They're Beside Themselves" — Theme answers are made-up two-word phrases where the last three letters of the first word are also the first three letters of the second word.

[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: Introductory assortment of wreckage? (FLOTSAM SAMPLER).
  • 40A: One-of-a-kind book? (CUSTOM TOME).
  • 65A: Place to leave the flock during vacation? (CHICKEN KENNEL).
  • 92A: Try to get tallow? (PURSUE SUET).
  • 114A: Music for painters? (ENAMEL MELODIES).
  • 15D: Scallions for an anniversary party? (JUBILEE LEEKS).
  • 59D: Short treatise on junk e-mail? (SPAM PAMPHLET).
Crosswordese 101 Round-Up:
  • 6A: Tiptop (ACME).
  • 13A: Big Indians (RAJAS).
  • 30A: Boris Godunov, e.g. (TSAR).
  • 45A: Barely earn, with "out" (EKE).
  • 79D: Fido's dinnertime extra (ORT).
  • 88D: Slender swimmer (EEL).
  • 112D: Start of North Carolina's motto (ESSE).
Everything Else — 1A: Garfield's middle name (ABRAM); 6A: Tiptop (ACME); 10A: Timber shaper (ADZ); 13A: Big Indians (RAJAS); 18A: At large (LOOSE); 19A: Property claim (LIEN); 20A: Scripps competition (BEE); 21A: Disqualify (oneself), in court (RECUSE); 25A: Protozoan (AMEBIC); 26A: Swears to (ATTESTS); 27A: Home of Texas A&M International University (LAREDO); 28A: Pooh-pooh (DERIDE); 29A: Manhattan component (RYE); 30A: Boris Godunov, e.g. (TSAR); 31A: Lost the point (RAMBLED); 32A: Vardon Trophy org. (PGA); 35A: Be of service to (ASSIST); 38A: Pointed remark (BARB); 39A: Legal conclusion? (ESE); 43A: Exercised in a lane (SWAM); 45A: Barely earn, with "out" (EKE); 47A: Online bulletin board mgr. (SYSOP); 48A: Pub staple (ALE); 49A: It isn't really a bear (KOALA); 50A: Vestige (RELIC); 53A: Put in the warehouse (STORE); 55A: Cut down (FELLED); 56A: One who follows the news? (LENO); 57A: Cinnamon tree (CASSIA); 60A: IV to III? (SON); 61A: River duck (TEAL); 63A: Writers (PENS); 64A: Marching start? (HUP); 70A: Hobby shop buy (KIT); 71A: Significant times (ERAS); 73A: Hard on the eyes (UGLY); 74A: Thing to bend or lend (EAR); 75A: Speaks disrespectfully to (SASSES); 77A: "If it's all the __ to you ..." (SAME); 78A: Star's opposite (NOBODY); 80A: Bow ties and elbows (PASTA); 82A: Early mobile home (TEPEE); 84A: Soap whose first slogan was "It floats" (IVORY); 85A: Scroogean word (BAH); 86A: Uses a keyboard (TYPES); 90A: Rule of crime writing (ANN); 91A: BlackBerry message (TEXT); 94A: Fire or side attachment (ARM); 96A: Secluded lowland (GLEN); 98A: Continued (GONE ON); 99A: Practice, as a trade (PLY); 100A: Comebacks (REPLIES); 102A: Like some telegrams (SUNG); 103A: Dosage amt. (TSP.); 106A: Goddess of wisdom (ATHENA); 107A: Noisy summer bug (CICADA); 109A: Artful handling (FINESSE); 113A: Lost some locks (BALDED); 116A: Feudal lords (LIEGES); 117A: He played Quasimodo in 1923 (LON); 118A: Justice's garb (ROBE); 119A: Dylan Thomas's home (WALES); 120A: Put in (ENTER); 121A: Explosive letters (TNT); 122A: Whack (SWAT); 123A: Skiing locale (SLOPE); 1D: __ Romeo (ALFA); 2D: Cloth quantity (BOLT); 3D: Cheer (ROOT); 4D: Sunflower relative (ASTER); 5D: Like Oscar Madison's room (MESSY); 6D: Charity (ALMS); 7D: Grafton's "__ for Corpse" (C IS); 8D: When many a bell is rung (MEALTIME); 9D: As a group (EN MASSE); 10D: More competent (ABLER); 11D: Safe document (DEED); 12D: Nonentity (ZERO); 13D: Common word in rallying slogans (REMEMBER); 14D: Biting (ACERB); 16D: Parenthetical comments (ASIDES); 17D: Withdraw (SECEDE); 21D: Hawkeye associate (RADAR); 23D: Starting squad (A-TEAM); 24D: Duff (PRAT); 31D: Islamic holy month (RAMADAN); 32D: Modern office staples (PCS); 33D: Chap (GUY); 34D: Mule's papa (ASS); 36D: Antares, for one (STAR); 37D: Something to walk on (SOLE); 38D: Whalebone (BALEEN); 41D: Chuck (TOSS); 42D: __ nerve (OPTIC); 43D: Sun, in Spain (SOL); 44D: 21-Down's real first name, on TV (WALTER); 46D: Food for sea urchins (KELP); 49D: President under whom the Peace Corps was formed (KENNEDY); 51D: Navel phenomenon (INNIE); 52D: Expenditures (COSTS); 54D: Hawaii's "Gathering Place" (OAHU); 55D: Other side (FOE); 57D: Pirate booty holder (CHEST); 58D: Halos (AURAE); 60D: Luxury seating (SKYBOX); 62D: Discounted (LESS); 66D: Fires up (IGNITES); 67D: Split, as some hoofs (CLOVEN); 68D: Round Table knight (KAY); 69D: Starbucks buy (LATTE); 72D: As __ on TV (SEEN); 76D: Indicates (SAYS); 79D: Fido's dinnertime extra (ORT); 80D: Trim, as apples (PARE); 81D: Semi-serious "I understand" ("AH SO"); 83D: Casey Jones, e.g. (ENGINEER); 85D: Cottage (BUNGALOW); 87D: Lassie, once (PUP); 88D: Slender swimmer (EEL); 89D: 5-Down place (STY); 92D: Thinks over (PONDERS); 93D: Up to (UNTIL); 94D: Like productive land (ARABLE); 95D: Hang on to (RETAIN); 97D: Reporters chase them (LEADS); 98D: Largest of the Marianas (GUAM); 101D: Outcropping (LEDGE); 102D: Meager (SCANT); 104D: Hoodwinks (SNOWS); 105D: Step on it (PEDAL); 107D: Breton, e.g. (CELT); 108D: Privy to (IN ON); 109D: Pump inserts (FEET); 110D: Storage cylinder (SILO); 111D: Trickle (SEEP); 112D: Start of North Carolina's motto (ESSE); 115D: Many a Wharton grad (MBA).