SATURDAY, July 31, 2010 
Timothy L. Meaker

Theme: None

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that y'all had trouble with this one. It was hard, right?? I sort of picked and poked my way through most of it and then only had the northeast corner left but it wasn't budging. I set it down for a while — played a little sporcle, read some blogs — and when I went back to it everything fell right into place. That's so cool how that happens.

The biggest problem I had in the northeast is that I assumed 5A: Census bureau, essentially was some kind of COUNTER (I had the TER in place). Makes sense, right? That only left three letters up front though, and MAN COUNTER seemed a little … off. Also, with the ORS in place I wanted FLEXORS for a while instead of TENSORS (7D: Stretching muscles). I was flailing around in the dark is what I'm saying.

Overall, I'd say there's nothing super sparkly about this grid, except maybe SCHOOLMARM, WIND TUNNEL, and MOJO (53A: Old-time educator / 18A: Aerodynamics research tool / 58A: Mystical amulet), and it includes an awful lot of three-letter "words," but nothing jumped out at me as blatantly horrible and when it was all said and done I felt like I'd had an actual workout. And that's a good thing!

Several people tripped me up today. Most of whom I'd never heard of.
  • 15A: Artist Bonheur (ROSA). Ringing vague, vague bells.
  • 17A: Harpsichordist Kipnis (IGOR). Or maybe those aren't bells, maybe it's a harpsichord. (Seriously? Harpsichordist?)
  • 44A: "Samson Agonistes" dramatist (MILTON). Obviously, I've heard of Milton, but the work title didn't do anything for me.
  • 49A: Actress Van Devere (TRISH). No bells (or harpsichords) none.
  • 51A: Beaumont, Texas, university (LAMAR). Again, back in the cobwebs somewhere.
  • 44D: "Animal magnetism" coiner (MESMER). Never heard of him, but now that I've read a little about him that seems awfully weird.
  • 22A: Servers with wheels (TEA WAGONS). Of course, I wanted this to be CARHOPS.
  • 41A: Hands and feet (MEASURES). Great clue. Reminded me of The Beekeeper's Apprentice (great book!), which I just finished. The characters in that book often talk about weight in terms of "stones."
  • 46A: White Sands and others (TEST SITES). I first entered MONUMENTS, which maybe doesn't make any sense to a lot of you — I used to live very near White Sands and was surprised to learn that it is, in fact, a "monument." Obviously not the kind of monument that word generally evokes for me. Or maybe you all knew that already.
  • 59A: Where to find waiters (TRAIN DEPOT). Another great clue.
  • 2D: Subject of Joshua Kendall's "The Man Who Made Lists" (ROGET). I haven't heard of this book (is it a book? ... yep) but with a couple crosses in place, the answer became clear.
  • 11D: Judgment for insufficient evidence (NONSUIT). I thought this was going to be something in Latin.
  • 40D: Elvis sighting, e.g. (FACTOID). I recently read something about how the word FACTOID doesn't mean what people usually think it means. That is, it means (basically) "unverified fact" and not "little fact." (I like what this site has to say about the confusion.)
  • 48D: Man of letters? (SAJAK). Did anyone else try SUPER here? Whenever I see a question-mark clue with the word "letters" in it, I assume the answer is going to be something about renting (letting).
  • 53D: Houston in NYC, et al. (STS.). Another great clue. And one of my favorite streets in New York. Not that I've ever spent any time there, but I love how it's pronounced.
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Everything Else — 1A: Not clear-cut (GRAY); 16A: Sight from Sydney Harbour (OPERA HOUSE); 19A: Cares for (TENDS); 21A: Beginnings (SEEDS); 25A: Co. whose largest hub is at O'Hare (UAL); 28A: Shooting sound (REPORT); 29A: Items in a nautical table (TIDES); 31A: Pub employees (BARMAIDS); 34A: Show-off (HOT DOG); 35A: Land in un lac (ILE); 36A: Lo-__ graphics (RES); 37A: Vigor (PEP); 38A: Suffix with string (-ENT); 39A: Took off (DOFFED); 43A: Wind threat (SHEAR); 45A: Indirect route (ARC); 60A: Replacement for those left out (ET AL.); 61A: Weathers the struggle (SOLDIERS ON); 62A: Rink fake (DEKE); 1D: Abrasive bits (GRIT); 3D: In unison (AS ONE); 4D: Spar part (YARDARM); 5D: Stock page name (DOW); 6D: Bee: Pref. (API-); 8D: Hot-blooded (ARDENT); 9D: "Gremlins" actress (CATES); 10D: Former Israeli prime minister Olmert (EHUD); 12D: Napa vessel (TUN); 13D: Capt.'s heading (ESE); 14D: Family mem. (REL.); 20D: Oath taker (SWEARER); 23D: On foot, in France (À PIED); 24D: Jupiter and Mars (GODS); 26D: Scary snake (ADDER); 27D: Freetown currency (LEONE); 29D: Nursery purchase (TOPSOIL); 30D: York and Snorkel: Abbr. (SGTS.); 31D: Orders (BIDS); 32D: Welcoming word (ALOHA); 33D: Direct (REFER); 34D: Qualifying races (HEATS); 37D: Bombard (PELT); 41D: Accidents (MISHAPS); 42D: Not tractable (UNTAMED); 46D: Symbol of equivalence, in math (TILDE); 47D: Fake feelings (EMOTE); 50D: Noodle __: old product name (RONI); 52D: Part (ROLE); 54D: Zagreb's land, to the IOC (CRO); 55D: Holbrook of "Evening Shade" (HAL); 56D: Eeyore pal (ROO); 57D: K2, for one: Abbr. (MTN.).


FRIDAY, July 30, 2010
Ron and Nancy Byron

Theme: Brrrrrr! — Familiar phrases that start with a B are changed to start with BR, creating new wacky phrases clued "?"-style.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Short-lived agitation? (BRIEF STEW). [beef stew]
  • 24A: Government security for the blind? (BRAILLE BOND). [bail bond]
  • 34A: Places to buy orthopedic products? (BRACE STATIONS). [base station]
  • 50A: Reserved section for an eight-time stolen base champ? (BROCK'S SEATS). [box seats]
  • 56A: Place with thugs in tents? (BRUTE CAMP). [boot camp]
Tough one again today. I'm liking that we have to work a little harder on this puzzle than we're used to. It reminds me of the good old days. This theme really kept me hopping today. It took me a while to figure it out and even after puzzling out the first theme answer to the point where I understood what was going on, I had to really think to get the rest of the theme answers. I was very happy to see that every theme answer required a change in spelling from the base phrase to the resulting phrase. It seems like we've been seeing inconsistencies with that lately and I really didn't feel like ranting about that today. Let's get right to it:

  • 16A: Qatar University city (DOHA). I recently learned how to pronounce "Qatar" and it isn't what I expected. (From what I understand it's pronounced a lot like "cutter" except the stress on each syllable is pretty much equal.)
  • 17A: Cold (ALGID). The Cruciverb.com data base indicates that this word has been used in the major puzzles six times since 1999. Frankly, I don't think that's a good enough reason to keep using it.
  • 22A: Una y __ vez: time and time again (OTRA). Spanish!
  • 26A: Rahm Emanuel's talent agent brother (ARI). I actually went to the same college as Ari Emanuel (and his roommate Peter Berg) for one year but don't remember Ari at all. Which seems impossible knowing what we know about him today.
  • 31A: "I'll have a grande decaf triple vanilla 2% __, please" (LATTE). Starbucks humor!
  • 39A: Toast opening, across the pond (ERES). I do not know what this means.
  • 41A: Stand-up guys? (NO-SHOWS). I like the trickiness of this clue. Guys who make a date with you but "stand you up" can be referred to as NO-SHOWS.
  • 46A: "Buy __ drink?": bar come-on (ME A). I'd like to see this one combined with 31A as a "coffee bar come-on": "Buy me a grande decaf triple vanilla 2% latte ... sailor?"
  • 55A: American Society of Magazine Editors annual awards (ELLIES). No idea.
  • 61A: "Hooked on Classics" record co. (K-TEL). And by "classics" they mean songs I grew up to. ::sigh::
  • 1D: Actor who was a 1932 swimming gold medalist (CRABBE). I'm sure I've heard of Buster CRABBE before, but I needed every cross today. CRABBE played Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers. Cool.
  • 2D: Former Texas team (OILERS). This is how long it's been since I've followed pro football. Me: "The Houston Oilers aren't a team any more?"
  • 4D: "Who's there?" answer (IT IS I). Nobody says this. We all know that. But it's going to keep appearing in puzzles so we should probably just try to get past it.
  • 5D: Lincoln rival (CADILLAC). Random free association video comin' right up!

  • 11D: "No time to talk now" ("GOTTA RUN"). If you've been paying any attention at all, you know I love seeing these kinds of colloquial phrases in the grid.
  • 31D: Small hair piece (LASH). Tried "lock" first. I didn't realize the clue was referring to a really small hair piece.
  • 37D: Unlike filibusters (TERSE). My first thought was "rare." That's really sad. (If you like this comic, check out the artist's website.)
  • 38D: Making out too much lately (IN A SLUMP). I like my clues tricky but there's a line and this one crossed it for me. Just a little bit too much. (For anyone who didn't quite get it, "out" in this clue refers to baseball. A baseball player who makes outs, as opposed to hits, is IN A SLUMP.)
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Everything Else — 1A: Like volcanoes (CONIC); 6A: John follower (ACTS); 10A: IRS workers (AGTS.); 14A: Item of rodeo gear (RIATA); 15A: K follower (-MART); 20A: Blues legend Smith (BESSIE); 23A: Alley prowler (TOM); 27A: Ballpark fig. (EST.); 28A: Flee (LAM); 29A: Whale's blowhole, e.g. (NOSTRIL); 33A: "Earth's Children" series author (AUEL); 40A: Bluebirds, to some (OMENS); 45A: Part of un giorno (ORA); 49A: Ring stat (TKO); 53A: Sushi selection (EEL); 54A: Vintner's prefix (OENO-); 59A: Extreme (ULTRA); 60A: Software test version (BETA); 62A: Spiteful sort (MEANY); 63A: Paradise (EDEN); 64A: '60s-'70s Japanese leader (SATO); 65A: Jimmies (PRIES); 3D: Pesters (NAGS AT); 6D: Dipl. official (AMB.); 7D: Tree pod also called the locust bean (CAROB); 8D: Neptune's largest moon (TRITON); 9D: Canned heat (STERNO); 10D: Some pop-ups (ADS); 12D: Conjectures (THEORIES); 13D: Board producer (SAWMILL); 19D: They don't last (FADS); 21D: Make ecstatic (ELATE); 25D: Initial response team, for short (EMT'S); 30D: New Mexico county or its seat (TAOS); 32D: DDE's command (ETO); 34D: Negotiated (BROKERED); 35D: Steadfast (RESOLUTE); 36D: Wildly (AMOK); 39D: 1976 raid site (ENTEBBE); 42D: Double-reed instrument (OBOE); 43D: Ruins (WRECKS); 44D: Beethoven's "Hammerklavier," e.g. (SONATA); 46D: Tiki cocktail (MAI TAI); 47D: Endless, in poems (ETERNE); 48D: Tests (ASSAYS); 51D: Under-the-sink brand (COMET); 52D: "Oklahoma!" aunt (ELLER); 57D: You might get one at the pool (TAN); 58D: Mahmoud Abbas's gp. (PLO).


THURSDAY, July 29, 2010
Doug Peterson and John Doppler Schiff

Theme: Strange Competitions — Familiar two-word types of competitions are clued as if the first word means something else.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Competition for witches? (SPELLING BEE).
  • 27A: Competition for entomologists? (CRICKET MATCH).
  • 43A: Competition for pastors? (STEEPLE CHASE).
  • 58A: Competition for painters? (ROLLER DERBY).
A big thanks to Rex Parker for sitting in for me yesterday. I was, um, well ... I had something personal to do. It wasn't a secret spy mission! What would make you think it was a secret spy mission?! It just some regular old thing that had nothing to do with secrets or spies or missions. Glad we got that settled.

A nice smooth Thursday puzzle this week. It skewed a little more difficult than I was expecting, but that's a good thing. The theme is clever, but I really like the fill on this one. We've got the high-brow EPIGRAM and ALLEGORY (41D: Bon mot / 37D: "The Tortoise and the Hare," for one) in the same grid with "DIBS!" and SORTA (31D: "Mine!" / 49D: To some extent, colloquially), which is fun. And the Scrabbly factor rose dramatically with ZONK OUT, WIDE AWAKE, and X'S and O'S (55A: Nod off, in slang / 33D: Not nodding / 42D: Playbook symbols). Who doesn't love seeing ZONK OUT in the grid? It's awesome!

  • 20A: Churl (PEASANT). I always thought "churl" meant more like "cad" or "rogue." Hmmm … Merriam-Webster online says "churl" is a synonym for "jerk," but the PEASANT definition comes before "rude ill-bred person" in its main entry so okay. Learn something new every day.
  • 23A: Prêt-à-porter monogram (YSL). Yves Saint Laurent.
  • 31A: Churchill __ (DOWNS). I was all proud of myself for knowing this racetrack off the top of my head and then realized it's where the Kentucky Derby is run, so probably everyone else knew it right away too.
  • 35A: "What have we here?!" ("OHO!"). Seems like we're seeing a lot of OHO lately. In fact, I think OHO has over-stayed its welcome at this point.
  • 40A: Bridge turn (BID). This one tricked me. I was thinking like a bridge that goes over water, not bridge the card game.

  • 52A: Bodybuilder's breakfast, maybe (RAW EGGS). Someone mentioned "Caddyshack" the other day and I was trying to think of what other old movies I'd like to see again. Rocky's definitely in there.
  • 61A: Typeface type (ARIAL). Mmmmm, typefaces.
  • 64A: Some are urban (MYTHS). I'm sure you all know about Snopes.com, but here's a link just in case you don't. I can spend hours on that site and I pretty much never leave the "What's New" section.
  • 3D: Hollywood dad or his acting daughter (O'NEAL). I can never remember how Ryan and Tatum spell their last name. I know that it's either (a) the same as Shaq or (b) different than Shaq — but I can never remember which one.
  • 9D: Not a good shot (ONE IN TEN). I was tricked by this one too! I thought the answer would be a word describing someone who can't shoot a gun accurately. I'm going "One … eyed?"
  • 11D: Pre-railroad transport (CONESTOGA). Ah, we meet again, CONESTOGA. In case you're wondering, this is absolutely without a doubt a shout-out to me. And if anyone tells you different, they're lying.
  • 25D: Aspen rooftop sight (SKI RACK). I assume this means car roof? Or do skiers put skis on the rooves (rooves? roofs?) of their houses too? Probably not.
  • 30D: Big bikes (HOGS). Love this nickname for Harleys.
  • 45D: Shrubs with edible nuts (HAZELS). Who knew?
  • 50D: Hexahedral puzzle inventor (RUBIK). Hexahedral? Now you're just showing off.
Overall I'd say this is pretty much what we've come to expect from Doug and it's a very nice debut for John. Good job, guys!

Crosswordese 101: I'm not much of a religious person, so I'm going to quote from Wikipedia on this one: "INRI is an acronym of the Latin inscription IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDÆORVM (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum), which translates to English as 'Jesus the Nazarene (Galilean), King of the Jews (Judeans).' The Greek equivalent of this phrase … (Iesous ho Nazoraios ho Basileus ton Ioudaion), appears in the New Testament of the Christian Bible in the Gospel of John (19:19)." INRI is typically clued as "crucifix inscription," "Calvary inscription," "initials on a cross," or 18D: Cross letters.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 41A: "First Lady of Song" (ELLA).
  • 57A: She played Bea in "Kill Bill" (UMA).
  • 44D: Poetic preposition (ERE).
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Everything Else — 1A: Cry of feigned innocence (WHO ME?); 6A: Northwest Passage seeker (CABOT); 11A: Spy's eye, briefly (CAM); 14A: Ancient Greek dialect (IONIC); 15A: Sheepish? (OVINE); 16A: Carry a balance (OWE); 19A: "Move it!" ("NOW!"); 21A: Prove pleasing (SIT WELL); 24A: Nest egg segments, briefly (IRA'S); 26A: Not big bites (NIPS); 34A: Brand that may cause brain freeze (ICEE); 36A: Words while anteing (I'M IN); 37A: Brother of Moses (AARON); 39A: Awestruck (AGOG); 42A: Inside information? (X-RAYS); 47A: R&B singer India.__ (ARIE); 48A: __ Sutra (KAMA); 49A: Some H.S. students (SRS.); 60A: With 29-Down, cabbage variety (BOK); 62A: Agree to participate (OPT IN); 63A: __ out: barely manage (EKE); 65A: Vampire's concern (STAKE); 1D: Thin, as smoke (WISPY); 2D: Signs of optimism (HOPES); 4D: Thickness measures (MILS); 5D: Cream puffs (ECLAIRS); 6D: Source of cold comfort? (CONTAC); 7D: Batter's fig. (AVG.); 8D: They hang in seafood restaurants (BIBS); 10D: Links appointment (TEE TIME); 12D: Missing in the mil. (AWOL); 13D: Little cry (MEWL); 22D: New Deal prog. (WPA); 27D: 1980 Turner launch (CNN); 28D: Natural prefix (ECO-); 29D: See 60-Across (CHOY); 32D: Leave out (OMIT); 38D: Sam Adams, maybe (ALE); 39D: "We __ the Champions" (ARE); 46D: Latin love (AMOR); 51D: "Gypsy" composer (STYNE); 52D: Yahoo (RUBE); 53D: Bad way to run (AMOK); 54D: Thin opening (SLIT); 56D: Didn't surrender (KEPT); 59D: "Well, __-di-dah" (LAH).


WEDNESDAY, Jul. 28, 2010—Mike Peluso

THEME: PRIME (70A: Steak rating, and word that can precede the first words of the answers to starred clues)

Hey everyone, it's Rex here filling in for the (choose one) a. injured b. lazy c. jet-setting d. burned out Puzzle Girl today. As "word that can precede" puzzles go, this one is OK—pretty average—but what's weird about it is that the *last* words (i.e. those Not involved in the theme) are the ones that appear to go together: TICKLER, CRUNCHER, SHAKER, KILLER. I spent a good minute trying to figure out what the link was before I realized that there was no link: PRIME was the key word, and the first, not the last, words were involved. What's more, the phrase structure is identical in 3/4 of the theme answers: Obj. VerbER, i.e. NUMBER CRUNCHER, RIB TICKLER, and TIME KILLER. This only solidified my conviction that those second words were somehow implicated in the theme (though the incongruity of the phrasing of MOVER AND SHAKER gave me pause, rightly).

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Funny story (RIB TICKLER)
  • 27A: *Financial analyst (NUMBER CRUNCHER)
  • 47A: *Influential one (MOVER AND SHAKER)
  • 63A: *Diversion while waiting (TIME KILLER)

Rest of the grid looks pretty good. Did not pick up PARAPHRASE quickly because I associate it with concision, not merely restatement—was really looking for "RE-" beginning. Parallel tracks of UNINVITING and NIELSENS are pretty nice-looking, and KEVLAR, GOTHAM, COMETS, and MOREAU are pretty tasty too (for mid-length fill). Puzzle really pays a price for trying to run RYDER CUP alongside PARAPHRASE: forced into plural abbrev. RPMS, which puts a stranglehold on the whole corner. Random Roman Numeral becomes virtually impossible to avoid at 12D: XII years before the Battle of Hastings (MLIV), which brings along the crosswordtastic YALU and SUPE. Sub par corner for sure. Worth it for the long Downs? Judgment call, but I'd have scrapped that corner and started over. Dreck quotient just too high.

Crosswordese 101: YALU (16A: Strategic Chinese border river) — also called the "AMNOK" river (in Korean), this river separates China and North Korea. A lot of North Koreans are crossing it in recent years in order that they can, you know, live. By which I mean eat. Not starve. Etc. Great / horrifying recent article on effects of last year's currency devaluation.

PG should be back tomorrow. See you later—


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


TUESDAY, July 27, 2010
Harvey Estes

Theme: Cover up! — Each theme answer has an item of clothing hidden at its "outer" edge.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Emergency exit with a ladder (FIRE ESCAPE).
  • 60A: Robotic solar system explorer (SPACE PROBE).
  • 10D: Pioneer's wagon (CONESTOGA).
  • 32D: Gibbon (LESSER APE).
  • 38A / 24A: Category of garments fittingly found in the circled letters (OUTER / CLOTHES).
I've got a pretty big problem with this theme. Well, not the theme itself necessarily, but the reveal. OUTER CLOTHES? That's not a thing. It's just not. So I'm thinking it's just a terrible way of saying outerwear. But then why does ROBE fit in the category? A ROBE is sleepwear. So does OUTER CLOTHES just mean an article of clothing that's worn over other clothing? But then what about TOGA? It is not my impression that togas were worn as outerwear. So a big WTF on the theme reveal. I'm also not crazy about the inconsistency of the theme. In three of the theme answers, the article of clothing is four letters long and all four letters appear in one word. Then SERAPE comes along with its six letters breaking over two words. That SERAPE. Always showing off.

Favorite words in the grid today: LAGOON, IGUANAS, and NEPAL (32A: Atoll enclosure / 57A: Spiny lizards / 8D: Tibet neighbor). Oh, and CONESTOGA of course. HAha. The first time I Ever saw this word was in a puzzle at last year's Lollapuzzoola. The crosses were also difficult for me so I had no idea what I was doing. I nailed it today though. Yay me. (By the way, it's not too late to sign up for Lollapuzzoola 3. I guarantee it will be a blast. You should really come.)

Everything else seems pretty straightforward today. Only a couple things jumped out at me:
  • 62A: Kid's summer haven (CAMP). Just sent the PuzzleKids off to an overnight camp-out. I think it's more a haven for me than it is for them!
  • 11D: Challenging words (I DARE YOU). I do enjoy seeing these types of phrases in my grid.
  • 46D: Spread publicly, with "about" (NOISED). I'm not sure I've ever heard this expression.
  • 61D: Wall St. group (ASE). I assume this means American Stock Exchange. And I'm so confident of that assumption that I'm not even going to look it up.
Crosswordese 101: There is a jazz singer named Anita O'DAY. That's pretty much all you need to know about her for crossword purposes. That she exists. And that that's her name.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 1A: "A Death in the Family" author James (AGEE).
  • 59A: Wrist-to-elbow bone (ULNA).
  • 4D: Fencing blades (ÉPÉES).
  • 5D: Recess at St. Peter's (APSE).
  • 7D: Turkish title (AGA).
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Everything Else — 5A: Name on a fridge (AMANA); 10A: Quote as a reference (CITE); 14A: What flags do in the wind (FLAP); 15A: Beeper (PAGER); 16A: Jazzy Anita (O'DAY); 19A: Luggage tag datum (NAME); 20A: Building additions (ANNEXES); 21A: Steamed up (ANGERED); 23A: Caesar's "that is" (ID EST); 24A: Contract provision (CLAUSE); 25A: "Way cool!" ("RAD!"); 26A: Train track (RAIL); 29A: Woodland deities (SATYRS); 34A: Demi of "G.I. Jane" (MOORE); 35A: Frosty's smoke (PIPE); 40A: Wind blast (GUST); 41A: Up to one's ears (in) (AWASH); 43A: Aussie lassie (SHEILA); 45A: Take a bad turn (WORSEN); 47A: Razor's cutter (EDGE); 48A: Homer, to Bart (DAD); 51A: "Angels & __": Dan Brown best-seller (DEMONS); 53A: "Don't even go __!" (THERE); 55A: Arachnoid zodiac sign (SCORPIO); 63A: Chart holder (EASEL); 64A: Mix with a spoon (STIR); 65A: Many a proposal is made on one (KNEE); 66A: Put on fancy attire, with "up" (DRESS); 67A: Cops, slangily (HEAT); 1D: Festive gathering (AFFAIR); 2D: Witch who helped Dorothy get home (GLINDA); 3D: Merited (EARNED); 6D: PC alternatives (MACS); 9D: Sports venues (ARENAS); 12D: Not exactly exciting (TAME); 13D: Gawked at (EYED); 18D: Crowd scene actor (EXTRA); 22D: U.S. Pacific territory (GUAM); 27D: Back in time (AGO); 28D: Debtor's letters (IOU'S); 30D: B&O and Reading (RR'S); 31D: Filming site (SET); 33D: Financial aid criterion (NEED); 35D: Fido's foot (PAW); 36D: "Letters from __ Jima": 2006 film (IWO); 37D: "Sorry about that" ("PARDON ME"); 39D: Fix, as a fight (RIG); 42D: Rope fiber source (HEMP); 44D: Ease off (LET UP); 48D: Indicate (DENOTE); 49D: Oil-rich peninsula (ARABIA); 50D: Most of 49-Down (DESERT); 52D: Like stock without face value (NO PAR); 54D: Tough to take (HARSH); 55D: Use a straw (SUCK); 56D: Scot's family (CLAN); 57D: Tops, as a cupcake (ICES); 58D: Salon applications (GELS).


MONDAY, July 26, 2010
John Lampkin

Theme: Art Class — Theme answers begin with a word that can describe a work of art.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Bodybuilder's pride (SCULPTED ABS).
  • 28A: Melted dip for steamed lobster (DRAWN BUTTER).
  • 42A: Table-ready hearty entrée (CARVED ROAST).
  • 54A: Colorful butterfly (PAINTED LADY).
I pretty much flew right through this one. The theme answers were actually the most difficult for me to get, so the theme didn't really help me. On early-week puzzles, I typically just go through the acrosses and then the downs, then back to the acrosses I still need. So the theme doesn't always appear until pretty late in the process. There's not much remarkable in this puzzle. SQUEEGEE looks pretty cool in the grid (3D: Windshield-cleaning tool). And the side-by-side exclamations "ONE SEC!" and "NERTS!" gave me a chuckle (30A: "Wait a moment" / 32A: "Dagnabbit!"). But the most interesting part of today's festivities might be the accompaniments. "Accompaniment to a crossword puzzle?," you ask skeptically. Well, yes.

I received a note from John Lampkin this morning explaining that in addition to being a crossword constructor, he is also an avid nature photographer and classical music composer. (Wow!) So today, your crossword puzzle is actually a Multi-Media Experience brought to you by John Lampkin himself. First, go start this audio clip of "The Butterfly and the Rose," one of John's compositions performed by the Equinox Chamber Players. While your listening to that lovely music, check out some of John's butterfly photos. See? It all ties together. Love it.

Crosswordese 101: Occasionally, DRU is clued in relation to Sisqo's old R&B group from Baltimore DRU Hill, but we're more likely to see a clue like today's 56D: Joanne of "All the King's Men." Joanne DRU also appeared in the movies "Red River," "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," "Wagon Master," "The Siege at Red River," and "Sylvia," all of which appear in clues from time to time.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 20A: Barely make, with "out" (EKE).
  • 25A: Melville's sequel to "Typee" (OMOO).
  • 6D: Mel of the Giants (OTT).
  • 23D: Yoko's family (ONOS).
  • 55D: Ostrich kin (EMU).
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Everything Else — 1A: Mr. Potato Head maker (HASBRO); 7A: Mickey and Minnie (MICE); 11A: Calculator display, briefly (LCD); 14A: Find not guilty (ACQUIT); 15A: "__ in the Morning": talk show (IMUS); 16A: "Caught you red-handed!" ("AHA!"); 19A: Plead for a treat, dog-style (BEG); 21A: FHA loan (MTGE.); 22A: Diver Louganis (GREG); 23A: "__-doke!" (OKEY); 26A: Flirtatious one (TEASE); 27A: –, on an AA batt. (NEG.); 33A: Quaint horse-pulled winter rides (SLEIGHS); 35A: Machine gun syllables (RAT-A-TAT); 39A: Psychoanalyst Fromm (ERICH); 41A: Surgeon's stitch (SUTURE); 46A: "Fill 'er up!" filler (GAS); 47A: Say "Ditto" (AGREE); 48A: Catch sight of (ESPY); 49A: Goes back out, as the tide (EBBS); 50A: Gal. or oz. (MEAS.); 51A: Horse trade (SWAP); 52A: Mideast political initials (PLO); 53A: "The Lord of the Rings" tree being (ENT); 58A: Poem of tribute (ODE); 59A: Seer's sign (OMEN); 60A: __ d': headwaiter (MAITRE); 61A: Blue (SAD); 62A: Blood supplies (SERA); 63A: Depletes (USES UP); 1D: Possesses (HAS); 2D: Gp. with UNC and Duke, among others (ACC); 3D: Windshield-cleaning tool (SQUEEGEE); 4D: Like a heavy parka (BULKY); 5D: Ready to pick (RIPE); 7D: Central area in a big city (MIDTOWN); 8D: "There's no hope for me," in oaters ("I'M A GONER"); 9D: Dice unit (CUBE); 10D: Tee preceder (ESS); 11D: Maze runner (LAB RAT); 12D: Maze runner's incentive (CHEESE); 13D: Cloak go-with (DAGGER); 18D: Thompson of "Howards End" (EMMA); 22D: Suggests indirectly (GETS AT); 24D: __ Ration: dog food (KEN-L); 25D: Prom corsage (ORCHID); 26D: "My, my, that's a no-no" ("TUT TUT"); 28D: One of 90 in a right angle (DEGREE); 29D: Like band music (BRASSY); 31D: Flour strainers (SIEVES); 34D: Having fewer marbles? (SCREWIER); 36D: Harbor pushers (TUGBOATS); 37D: Saudi, usually (ARAB); 38D: Thomas Hardy heroine (TESS); 40D: Biblical cry of praise (HOSANNA); 42D: Stars' brief film appearances (CAMEOS); 43D: Meeting to-do list (AGENDA); 44D: Not for kids, as films (R-RATED); 45D: Pocket PC entry (APPT.); 49D: "Dallas" matriarch Miss __ (ELLIE); 51D: "__ here": "Ditto" (SAME); 52D: Pocket PCs, e.g. (PDAS); 54D: +, on an AA batt. (POS.); 57D: Nope's opposite (YEP).


SUNDAY, July 25, 2010
Sylvia Bursztyn (calendar)

Theme: "Be There" — The letters BE are inserted into familiar phrases.

[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:
  • 21A: Eyeball Knox? (BEHOLD THE FORT).
  • 27A: Have Alex in the lead? (STAR TREBEK).
  • 41A: Moral makeup of Kirk's clan? (DOUGLAS FIBER).
  • 71A: Player who spelled Ruth? (BABE'S RELIEF).
  • 92A: Like a freezer free of Häagen-Dazs? (OUT OF SORBETS).
  • 114A: Defame baseball's Doubleday? (LIBEL ABNER).
  • 120A: Legit "Lakmé composer? (KOSHER DELIBES).
  • 2D: Where it's all Humphrey all the time? (A WORLD OF HUBERT).
  • 52D: Asian plateau projectile? (TIBETAN MISSILE).
Everything Else — 1A: Corday stabbed him in the bath (MARAT); 6A: Panoramas (VIEWS); 11A: Highchair neckwear (BIB); 14A: Smart or Smiley (SPY); 17A: Ivanhoe's love (ROWENA); 18A: Succeed (ENSUE); 19A: Outback bird (EMU); 20A: Scoundrel (CUR); 23A: Plane figure? (AIRFARE); 25A: Pong maker (ATARI); 26A: Bollywood wrap (SARI); 29A: Sounded off (RAILED); 31A: Holed up (HID); 32A: Puccini classic (TOSCA); 33A: "... against --- of troubles" (A SEA); 34A: Everly Brothers hit (BIRD DOG); 36A: Just out (NEW); 38A: Coach (TUTOR); 40A: --- many words (IN SO); 45A: Two in Peru (DOS); 48A: Flabbergast (FLOOR); 50A: "Wow!" ("GEE!"); 51A: Juvenal's genre (SATIRE); 53A: Russian villa (DACHA); 56A: Russ. neighbor (NOR.); 59A: Lompoc lockup (CELL); 62A: Pep up (LIVEN); 63A: Monstrous (INHUMAN); 66A: Weak brew (NEAR BEER); 69A: Mamie's predecessor (BESS); 70A: Wild guess (STAB); 73A: Idaho motto word (ESTO); 74A: Stockings (HOSE); 75A: Licorice-flavored liqueur (ANISETTE); 76A: Run like a scared rabbit (SKITTER); 78A: Still (INERT); 80A: Port of Yemen (ADEN); 81A: B'way sellout sign (SRO); 83A: Audacious (SASSY); 84A: Musical intervals (NINTHS); 86A: Mil. ranks (LTS.); 88A: Pitching great Warren (SPAHN); 91A: Bluster (GAS); 97A: Big mouths (MAWS); 101A: Hecuba's husband (PRIAM); 102A: Teensy (WEE); 103A: Innovative (SEMINAL); 105A: Scottish hill (BRAE); 108A: Vagabond (TRAMP); 111A: Big deal (ADO); 113A: "Comunista" who ousted Batista (CASTRO); 116A: Rock's Mötley --- (CRUE); 118A: "Of Thee ---" (I SING); 119A: Place for piercings (EARLOBE); 123A: Hellenic H (ETA); 124A: Cheer competitor (ALL); 125A: Well-heeled ones (HAVES); 126A: Got just right (NAILED); 127A: Hoover, for one (DAM); 128A: "Runaway" rocker Shannon (DEL); 129A: "--- be dreaming!" (I MUST); 130A: Two of Henry VIII's six (ANNES); 1D: Some pricy sweaters (MOHAIRS); 3D: Depended (RELIED); 4D: "Then what?" ("AND?"); 5D: Body images? (TATS); 6D: Shifting sharply (VEERING); 7D: Unbeliever (INFIDEL); 8D: "--- Beso" (ESO); 9D: Knock or brat ender (-WURST); 10D: Tiff (SET-TO); 11D: Smokey, early on (BEAR CUB); 12D: Parrots (IMITATES); 13D: Jefferson veep (BURR); 14D: Picket line crossers (SCABS); 15D: Blender button (PUREE); 16D: Siskiyou County seat (YREKA); 17D: Hire, as an attorney (RETAIN); 21D: Benton of "Playboy" fame (BARBI); 22D: It's a laugh (HAH); 24D: North Carolina cape (FEAR); 28D: "Vino" venue (ASTI); 30D: Extinction exemplar (DODO); 35D: Sludge (GOO); 37D: Shake a tail (WAG); 39D: Spoken (ORAL); 42D: Large vase (URN); 43D: Concealed stuff (SECRETS); 44D: Less robust (FEEBLER); 45D: Sells off (DIVESTS); 46D: Electra's brother (ORESTES); 47D: ESP center (SENSORY); 49D: Skedaddle (LAM); 53D: Sharing gossip (DISHING); 54D: Willa Cather heroine (ÁNTONIA); 55D: Bygone celeb-sighting eatery (CHASEN'S); 57D: Personal identity (ONESELF); 58D: Minds (RESENTS); 60D: Grass skirt go-with (LEI); 61D: Barrel dregs (LEES); 64D: Litigators' org. (ABA); 65D: "Get a Job" syllables (NA NA); 67D: Works at the Getty (ART); 68D: "Bobby" subject, briefly (RFK); 72D: eBay action (BID); 77D: "Sorta" suffix (-ISH); 79D: Son of Odin (THOR); 82D: Verb ending (-OSE); 85D: Fit (SUITABLE); 87D: Plant (SOW); 89D: Qt. halves (PTS.); 90D: "Just ---!" (A SEC); 93D: Journalism legend Ida (TARBELL); 94D: Mideast sultanate (OMAN); 95D: Gets through to (REACHES); 96D: Recuperation requirement (BED REST); 98D: Alpes-Maritimes resort (ANTIBES); 99D: Put on guard (WARNED); 100D: Trudges (SLOGS); 101D: Rigg role (PEEL); 104D: Vote by absentee ballot (MAIL IN); 105D: Extort (BLEED); 106D: Ranchero's rope (RIATA); 107D: Norm of "This Old House" (ABRAM); 109D: Phifer of "ER" (MEKHI); 110D: Tourney type (PRO-AM); 112D: --- "Mutual Friend" (OUR); 115D: Burden (LOAD); 117D: Mystery writer Buchanan (EDNA); 121D: A "Law & Order" (SVU); 122D: Ending for Euclid (-EAN).

SUNDAY, July 25, 2010
Nora Pearlstone (syndicated)

Theme: "Tee for Two" — A T is added to the second word of a familiar two-word phrase, creating a new wacky phrase clued "?"-style.

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

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Monster affected by a moon phase? (CRESCENT TROLL).
  • 37A: Levy on butchers? (MEAT TAX).
  • 69A: Warren weeping? (RABBIT TEARS).
  • 76A: Japanese chicken snacks? (EAST TENDERS).
  • 106A: Can for old smokes? (BUTT TIN).
  • 124A: Attacker's fruity treat? (ASSAULT TRIFLE).
  • 17D: Small pie à la Pollock? (ABSTRACT TART).
  • 41D: Stuff that sticks for years? (GREAT TAPE).
  • 49D: Taunting from the Miami bench? (HEAT TRASH).
  • 65D: Bakery supply for wrapping cake boxes? (DESSERT TWINE).
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:

  • 35A: Yeats's homeland (ERIN).
  • 71A: U.K. award (OBE).
  • 80A: Asian holiday (TET).
  • 4D: While opening (ERST-).
  • 8D: Caesar's closer (ET TU).
  • 32D: To be, in Quebec (ÊTRE).
  • 61D: Historic canal (ERIE).
Everything Else — 1A: Get at (ACCESS); 7A: Like lambs (GENTLE); 13A: 1983 invasion site (GRENADA); 20A: President Ahmadinejad's capital (TEHRAN); 21A: Pioneer Day celebrant (UTAHAN); 22A: Dressed (ENROBED); 25A: Chips Ahoy! maker (NABISCO); 26A: Filet mignon, e.g. (ENTRÉE); 27A: Black Sea country (UKRAINE); 29A: Diglyceride, for one (ESTER); 30A: Performance rights org. (BMI); 31A: Craving (URGE); 33A: Give a hand (ASSIST); 36A: Response to an e-mail wisecrack (LOL); 40A: "Here's the __ ..." (THING); 42A: Many a Monopoly sq. (AVE.); 43A: Sole (ONLY); 45A: Abbot's address: Abbr. (RT. REV.); 46A: Spiffed (up) (SPRUCED); 48A: Illustrator N.C. (WYETH); 50A: The younger Saarinen (EERO); 51A: Boo follower (HOO); 54A: Toon flapper Etta (KETT); 55A: __ Plaines, Illinois (DES); 57A: 1980s South African pres. (PW BOTHA); 60A: Starts the kitty (ANTES); 63A: Mouse site (PAD); 66A: College fund-raising targets (ALUMS); 72A: Newbie (TYRO); 73A: Everycowboy (TEX); 74A: Skip (OMIT); 75A: Hook (up) (RIG); 79A: Carrion eater (HYENA); 81A: '90s N.Y. Philharmonic conductor Kurt (MASUR); 82A: Westernmost of the Sunda Islands (SUMATRA); 84A: Mean at a univ. (GPA); 86A: South Dakota, to Pierre (ETAT); 88A: Word before and after "vs." in a Mad feature (SPY); 89A: Italian vineyard region (ASTI); 92A: Culture: Pref. (ETHNO-); 96A: Read (PERUSED); 99A: Scrawny (GAUNT); 101A: Good earth (LOAM); 102A: Co. that spun off the Baby Bells (ATT); 103A: Wasteland (HEATH); 108A: Luau instrument (UKE); 109A: 19th Amendment proponent (CATT); 111A: Tough spot (SCRAPE); 113A: Saltimbocca herb (SAGE); 114A: Seat holder: Abbr. (SEN.); 115A: Flightless New Zealanders (KIWIS); 117A: Ruthless leaders (TYRANTS); 120A: Rubbed the wrong way (CHAFED); 122A: Split payment? (ALIMONY); 127A: Time keeping action? (RENEWAL); 128A: Treads heavily (STOMPS); 129A: List shortener (ET ALIA); 130A: Women's department array (DRESSES); 131A: Most balanced (SANEST); 132A: "Have patience" ("NOT YET"); 1D: LAX tower service (ATC); 2D: What a stickler may stand on? (CEREMONY); 3D: Bedspread fabric (CHENILLE); 5D: Pelvic bone (SACRUM); 6D: Scornful type (SNEERER); 7D: Like some instinctive reactions (GUT); 9D: Sussex stoolie (NARK); 10D: Chest (THORAX); 11D: Singers' refrains (LA LAS); 12D: Join up (ENLIST); 13D: Beginning (GENESIS); 14D: Protein-building polymer (RNA); 15D: Kathryn of "Law & Order: C.I." (ERBE); 16D: Uproar (NOISE); 18D: Trick (DECEIVE); 19D: Decorated (ADORNED); 24D: Deny the truth of (NEGATE); 28D: Med. research org. (NIH); 30D: Lose, as a big lead (BLOW); 34D: I-90 in Mass., e.g. (TNPK.); 38D: U. of Maryland team (TERPS); 39D: Declare (AVOW); 44D: Financial report hdg. (YTD); 47D: __ Reader: alternative media anthology (UTNE); 51D: Sting, for instance (HOAX); 52D: Tout's hangout, for short (OTB); 53D: "Yahoo!" ("OH BOY!"); 56D: Roy Rogers's birth name (SLYE); 58D: Brittany seaport (BREST); 59D: Je t'__: French "I love you" (AIME); 62D: U.S. Army E-6 (SSGT); 63D: Pope creation (POEM); 64D: Four-line rhyme scheme (ABAA); 67D: Coffee holders (URNS); 68D: __ vivendi: lifestyle (MODUS); 70D: Small bell sound (TING); 73D: Room service convenience (TRAY); 77D: Layered skirt (TUTU); 78D: Old Roman ldr. (EMP.); 79D: Goes after (HAS AT); 83D: Product with "Robusto!" flavors (RAGU); 85D: View from Martha's Vineyard, Mass. (ATL.); 87D: Golf shop bagful (TEES); 90D: "Tsk" relatives (TUTS); 91D: Whole (INTACT); 93D: Indoor buzzer? (HOUSEFLY); 94D: Blunt fiction (NAKED LIE); 95D: Rainbow, to some (OMEN); 96D: Early luxury auto (PACKARD); 97D: 24/7 business (ETAILER); 98D: Three-syllable feet (DACTYLS); 100D: Secure, in a way (TIGHTEN); 104D: Give it a go (TRY); 105D: Bother no end (HARASS); 106D: Former Mormon leader Ezra Taft __ (BENSON); 107D: Almost touching (NEAR TO); 110D: Airport postings (TIMES); 112D: Fusilli, e.g. (PASTA); 116D: Females with pig tails (SOWS); 118D: Easy to manage (TAME); 119D: Has dinner (SUPS); 121D: Royal decree (FIAT); 123D: Tam wearer's turndown (NAE); 125D: D-Day craft (LST); 126D: Dinner exhortation (EAT).


SATURDAY, July 24, 2010
Mark Diehl

Theme: None

Wow — tough, tough puzzle today! Tough cluing, awesome long entries, misdirection, sparkly fill — welcome back, late-week LAT!

I can't say that I knew ADAM BALDWIN's name off the top of my head (or at all), even though I watched the first couple seasons of "Chuck" religiously (1A: Co-star of TV's "Chuck"). I'm guessing he's the guy who plays Captain Awesome. Let me see … Nope. He's Casey, the crazy NSA agent. Funny, funny guy. I would have had a better chance guessing if I remembered anything about MY BODYGUARD (56A: 1980 film debut for 1-Across).

Of course, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't mention DADOED and RACKER (2D: Grooved, in carpentry / 42D: Eightball loser, often). They are, to me, the ugliest things in the grid. It's interesting that they're symmetrical though. Makes me think it was planned that way. And besides, I think I'm more disgusted with the clue for NO SALT (11D: Margarita option). What's the point of a margarita with NO SALT?!

As for the 15s, I love BORDERLINE CASES (14A: Situations that aren't clear-cut), even though it's clued straightforwardly. I don't think I'm familiar with ROCK 'N' ROLL IS KING (52A: 1983 ELO hit with the lyric "She loves that drivin' beat"), but wouldn't be surprised if I find it on YouTube and go "Oh that song!" (I admit I tried Rock 'N' Roll Is Dead at first.) …. Nope. Just found it on YouTube and it's a Chuck Berry rip-off that I don't recall ever hearing before.

  • 12A: One might raise the roof (CRANE OPERATOR). Great clue.
  • 16A: State with a five-sided flag (OHIO). I did not know that.
  • 27A: Kind of well (ARTESIAN). No idea what this clue was going for. Health? Steak?
  • 36A: Exude an air of disinterest (BLOW COLD). I'm one of those people who recognizes a distinction between uninterest and disinterest. I'm not sure this clue is accurate.
  • 4D: Hired gun, briefly (MERC). Short for mercenary.
  • 5D: Official ties of New Mexico (BOLOS). I had no idea New Mexico had an official tie. I did learn recently that Wisconsin has a state microbe though.
  • 14D: Tony-winning star of "Where's Charley?" (1948) (BOLGER). When I finally had enough crosses in place, I realized this was probably Ray BOLGER, more famous for playing the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz."
  • 39D: Triage MD (ER DOC). With the D from ADDS in place (48A: Goes on to say), I tried medic first. Tricky!
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Everything Else — 17A: Raccoon kin (COATI); 18A: Multipurpose lyrics (LA LA); 19A: Story (LEVEL); 21A: Cat lead-in (SNO-); 22A: Plush, in a way (PILED); 23A: Top quality (GRADE A); 25A: Oregon Trail river (PLATTE); 26A: It's often smoked in Sweden (EEL); 31A: Some rtes. (RDS.); 32A: Luminescent critter (FIREFLY); 33A: Org. that infiltrated Germany in the '40s (OSS); 37A: Balderdash (PAP); 38A: For only a select few (SECRET); 41A: Very much (SORELY); 43A: Aquiline nose, e.g. (TRAIT); 44A: Area between N. and S. Korea (DMZ); 47A: Capital east of Dhaka (HANOI); 49A: One of the fire signs (ARIES); 51A: "Let's go!" ("C'MON!"); 55A: They may be spotted at pet stores (CALICO KITTENS); 1D: Airport board heading (ARRIVALS); 3D: Hydrocarbon suffix (-ANE); 6D: Like bees (APIAN); 7D: Tempo marking (LENTO); 8D: Bavarian trio (DREI); 9D: Mil. branch from 1943 to 1978 (WAC); 10D: Restaurant guide category (ITALIAN); 12D: Stuck (COHERED); 13D: Got a new tenant for (RELET); 15D: 1986 Best New Artist Grammy winner (SADE); 20D: Certain handout (LEAFLET); 22D: Toy in resealable cans (PLAYDOH); 24D: "__ is the language of the unheard": M.L. King Jr. (A RIOT); 25D: Dispensary stock (PILLS); 28D: Credit checker Experian, formerly (TRW); 29D: Continental trade org. (EEC); 30D: Virgin America hub: Abbr. (SFO); 33D: Negotiating asset (OPEN MIND); 34D: Watering holes (SALOONS); 35D: Bond activity? (SPYING); 36D: How a cool wind blows (BRISKLY); 38D: Macy's logo (STAR); 40D: High-tech engineering acronym (CADCAM); 44D: Title name in an unfinished Dickens work (DROOD); 45D: Whitish (MILKY); 46D: Chameleon-like Woody Allen character (ZELIG); 49D: String music direction (ARCO); 50D: In __: as found (SITU); 53D: Tip of a pen (NIB); 54D: RR depot (STA.).


FRIDAY, July 23, 2010
Donna S. Levin

Theme: Hat Puns — Hat puns!

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Opportunity to examine some headwear? (CLOCHE ENCOUNTER).
  • 33A: Call-in broadcasting for chefs? (TOQUE RADIO).
  • 40A: Northerners who dress with Scottish flair? (TAM YANKEES).
  • 47A: Hats that are soft and angular? (BOWLER OPPOSITES).
Today's puzzle was a snap compared to yesterday's. Definitely on the late-week side for the LAT, but I didn't feel much resistance anywhere. Really the only clue I pondered at all was 3D: Miss Gulch's bête-noire, somewhat literally. First, I didn't really know the meaning of bête-noire. I had it in my head that it meant enemy or foe or something along those lines, but the "somewhat literally" part didn't compute at all. Second, I thought Miss Gulch was that banker lady on "The Beverly Hillbillies." But no, that's Jane Hathaway, secretary to the banker (and Clampetts' neighbor) Mr. Drysdale. Why I got her mixed up with the bike-riding neighbor/wicked witch in "The Wizard of Oz" (whose bête-noire is, of course, TOTO) is a mystery. Apparently they occupy the same space in my brain. (Oh, and bête-noire can be literally translated as black beast.)

There was a lot of stuff I didn't know in this puzzle, but the crosses took care of everything:
  • 19A: Pachacuti, for one (INCA). Never heard of him.
  • 40D: Lady Hillingdon is a cultivar of one (TEA ROSE). I don't know who Lady Hillingdon is and I don't know what "cultivar" means.
  • 46D: Victor Vasarely's genre (OP-ART). Can't say I've heard of Mr. Vasarely either.
  • 14A: Multilayer farm site? (COOP). I am no longer fooled by the use of "layer" to mean "hen."
  • 24A: Recycled T-shirt? (RAG). Not sure why this clue needs a question mark.
  • 36A: "Seinfeld" actress Julia __-Dreyfus (LOUIS). Love her.
  • 38A: Idol whose fans are known as Claymates (AIKEN). Clay Aiken took second place on the first second season of "American Idol."
  • 42A: Condiment for pommes frites (SEL). French!
  • 1D: Versatile, electronically (AC/DC).

  • 28D: Apple or ale lead-in (ADAM'S). Of course I've known forever what an ADAM'S apple is, but I learned ADAM'S ale from crosswords. (It's water!)
  • 29D: Pierre, e.g. (CITY). Me: "Well, it's the capital of South Dakota. It's also a French name. Hmmm … What could they be getting at here?" Duh.
Crosswordese 101: I've been filling in ADESTE every time I see a clue like 25A: Carol beginning for a while now not having any idea what it means. So today I looked it up. It's my little gift to you. "ADESTE Fideles" is a Latin hymn that you and I know as the Christmas carol "O Come All Ye Faithful." It's typically clued as carol starter, seasonal song opener, Latin carol starter, or simply as a fill-in-the-blank "_____ Fideles."

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 46A: God attended by Valkyries (ODIN).
  • 22D: Seven sheikdoms fed. (UAE).
  • 46D: Victor Vasarely's genre (OP-ART).
  • 48D: It's found in tubs (OLEO).
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Everything Else — 1A: Stage routines (ACTS); 5A: Full of spunk (SASSY); 10A: Shenanigan pullers (IMPS); 15A: Twaddle (TRIPE); 16A: "Ta ta!" ("CIAO!"); 17A: It's entered and processed (DATA); 18A: Needle bearers (PINES); 23A: Grub (EATS); 28A: Proactiv target (ACNE); 30A: One of a cup's 48: Abbr. (TSP.); 35A: Pampas weapon (BOLA); 37A: Posed (SAT); 39A: Gray area?: Abbr. (ANAT.); 43A: Livens (up) (PEPS); 44A: Delicate (DAINTY); 45A: Mendicant title (FRA); 55A: Plant used for first aid (ALOE); 56A: More than 70% of Earth's surface (OCEAN); 57A: Stretched just short of the breaking point (TAUT); 58A: Tidings (NEWS); 59A: Sudden movement (START); 60A: Gumbo ingredient (OKRA); 61A: "Gee willikers!" ("GOSH!"); 62A: Keep an __ the ground (EAR TO); 63A: McJob performer (PEON); 2D: Historic Newcastle resource (COAL); 4D: Garb for Apollo (SPACE SUIT); 5D: Religious guardian (ST. PETER); 6D: Astrological ovine (ARIES); 7D: __ Fein (SINN); 8D: Blueprint item, briefly (SPEC); 9D: "Just give me an answer already!" ("YES OR NO?"); 10D: Hockey infraction (ICING); 11D: After-dinner item (MINT); 12D: Step (PACE); 13D: Look down on the clouds, perhaps (SOAR); 21D: Can't take (HATES); 25D: Rand's shrugger (ATLAS); 26D: Shortbread cookie surname (DOONE); 27D: Peer (EQUAL); 30D: Perfunctory (TOKEN); 31D: Wintry woe (SLEET); 32D: Flower name derived from the French for "thought" (PANSY); 34D: PDQ cousin (ASAP); 35D: Halter, perhaps (BIKINI TOP); 38D: "Henry & June" role (ANAÏS); 41D: Enlarge, as a house (ADD ONTO); 43D: Ante- equivalent (PRE-); 45D: Meat (FLESH); 47D: Explosion (BANG); 49D: Awes (WOWS); 50D: Tetra- times two (OCTA-); 51D: Fruit with a "check the neck" ripeness test (PEAR); 52D: Steal (TAKE); 53D: Slovenia capital (EURO); 54D: Ollie's sidekick (STAN).


THURSDAY, July 22, 2010
Pete Muller

Theme: Paper or Plastic — Theme answers are familiar phrases with the letters of the word PLASTIC hidden in them consecutively.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: State of the Union, say (POLITICAL SPEECH).
  • 25A: Military tradition (HOSPITAL CORNERS).
  • 46A: Looney Tunes genre (SLAPSTICK COMEDY).
  • 60A: Useful waste, what's literally hidden in 17-, 25- and 46-Across (RECYCLED PLASTIC).
Wow. This puzzle took me a good bit of time. The reveal answer was the last thing I was able to piece together, so the theme didn't help me a bit. Not sure if it would have anyway. I'll be interested to hear if the theme helped you guys at all. I had the most trouble in the Northern California area where the HUFFS / ORIEL / SIDRA collision took a while to sort out (25D: Blows / 26D: Cantilevered window / 27D: Libya's Gulf of __). I couldn't come up with ORIEL to save my life. I knew it was crosswordese but all I could think of was oxeye. And that's not a cantilevered window, in case you didn't know. Also it made the middle letter of the 33A: Sch. with a Narragansett Bay campus an X and I was pretty sure that wasn't right.

As I mentioned, the southeast corner also gave me some trouble. I had the RECYCLED part, but took a while to get PLASTIC. I had the poor Scots vacationing on the brae instead of the LOCH (64A: Scot's vacation site). Do Scots really vacation on LOCHs? Wade? You out there? I also had trouble with LIAISE which is just a horrible, horrible word (56A: Make a connection (with)). I don't have any problem with it showing up in the puzzle because it's a word that people actually use but honestly … they just shouldn't. Because did I mention it's horrible?

I had the opportunity to meet Pete Muller at the Crosswords L.A. tournament a couple months ago. He constructed one of the tournament puzzles and it was really fun. Also, his wife was super pregnant, so I'm guessing they have a bigger family at this point. So congratulations to the Mullers and thanks, Pete, for a tough puzzle today!

  • 10A: '60s-'70s pitcher nicknamed Blue Moon (ODOM). Learned about him from crosswords.
  • 34A: Odin's group (AESIR). This too.
  • 36A: Word with mala or bona (FIDE). Not sure I've ever heard of mala FIDE before, but it means pretty much what you would think it means.
  • 51A: Japanese golfer in the World Golf Hall of Fame (ISAO AOKI). He's crosswordese, but it's fun to see his whole name in the grid for a change.
  • 67A: Sean's mom (YOKO). Me: "Should I know Sean Penn's mom?"
  • 2D: Info (POOP). Heh heh. You said POOP.
  • 4D: Alpine wear (SKI CAP). Tried ski hat at first.
  • 7D: Jobs creation? (IMAC). I like this clue. "Jobs creation" is a phrase we're hearing a lot these days so the misdirection works well. (In this clue, Jobs refers to Steve Jobs.)
  • 9D: Easy-Bake Oven maker (HASBRO). I remember my Easy-Bake Oven. I'm pretty sure I got it for my birthday the same year I got a Mrs. Beasley doll.
  • 13D: Mineralogist Friedrich (MOHS). I was a little distressed that I needed to know a mineralogist, but I've actually heard of this guy. Or, at least I've heard of his scale.
  • 19D: Standard partner (POORS). Something to do with the financial industry. Do they rate bonds? Something like that.
  • 30D: Bivouac (ETAPE). As far as I'm concerned there's no excuse for this word to show up without it being clued in relation to the Tour de France. And I mean that in general, not just today. But especially today!
  • 37D: Strike target (EMPLOYER). Again, with all the war talk we hear these days the misdirection on this clue totally worked on me.
  • 48D: Like five per cent, to a server (MEASLY). I can't say as I've ever left a 5% tip, but I would if the service was measly.
Crosswordese 101: TALIA Shire (18D: Two-time Oscar nominee Shire) is an actress who played Connie in the "Godfather" movies and Adrian in the "Rocky" movies. Clues for TALIA will always include one of the following words: actress, co-star, Shire, Sylvester, Sly, Rocky, or Godfather.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 5A: Silly (APISH).
  • 33A: Sch. with a Narragansett Bay campus (URI).
  • 51A: Japanese golfer in the World Golf Hall of Fame (ISAO AOKI).
  • 26D: Cantilevered window (ORIEL).

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Everything Else — 1A: NASDAQ debuts (IPO'S); 14A: Attic-dweller of '70s-'80s TV (MORK); 15A: Home of a mythical lion (NEMEA); 16A: Admonition to Nanette? (NO NO); 20A: Miniature surveillance gadget (SPY CAM); 21A: Rear ends of a sort (CABOOSES); 22A: What there oughta be (A LAW); 24A: Skirmish (ROW); 35A: Tuned to (SET AT); 38A: Works in a Catalonian museum (DALIS); 40A: Classico competitor (RAGU); 41A: Element 100 eponym (FERMI); 43A: Betty Crocker salad topping (BACOS); 45A: Crosswalk sign word (PED); 49A: Eastern tongue (LAO); 50A: It might be a close call (SAFE); 62A: Leafy veggie (KALE); 63A: Merge (UNITE); 65A: Insult (SLUR); 66A: Try to persuade, with "with" (PLEAD); 1D: Troublemakers (IMPS); 3D: French touchdown site (ORLY); 5D: Like many short films (ANIMATED); 6D: Workout target (PEC); 8D: "The Fugitive" actress Ward (SELA); 10D: Used car selling point (ONE OWNER); 11D: Performs (DOES); 12D: Singly (ONCE); 23D: Horseradish relative (WASABI); 28D: Not a deep purple (LILAC); 29D: Pains in the neck (CRICKS); 31D: Wreaked havoc, as a battle (RAGED); 32D: Prepare, in a way (STUDY); 39D: Of questionable repute (SO-CALLED); 42D: First name in sci-fi (ISAAC); 44D: Balkan capital (SOFIA); 47D: Install needed equipment (TOOL UP); 51D: Nettles (IRKS); 52D: Sea World clapper (SEAL); 53D: First Amendment advocacy gp. (ACLU); 54D: __ Ration (KEN-L); 55D: Romeo's last words (I DIE); 57D: "Am __ late?" (I TOO); 58D: Twisted (SICK); 59D: Comeback (ECHO); 61D: Harper Valley org. (PTA).


WEDNESDAY, July 21, 2010
Dan Naddor

Theme: In a Rush — Theme answers are familiar phrases that start with a word meaning "fast."

Theme answers:
  • 17A: It may be drawn without thinking (HASTY CONCLUSION).
  • 22A: Sylvester Pussycat nemesis (SPEEDY GONZALES).
  • 38A: Dubious diet ad promise (RAPID WEIGHT LOSS).
  • 51A: Mentally agile (QUICK ON THE DRAW).
  • 59A: First out of the gate, and what 17-, 22-, 38- and 51-Across all get (OFF TO A FAST START).
Hi, everybody. I'm back from a lovely weekend in North Carolina with friends. And when I say "lovely weekend in North Carolina with friends," I mean, of course, "successful spy mission."

I'm obviously a little rusty on the crossword stuff. For the first theme answer I threw in "HAPPY" CONCLUSION, thinking it sounded a little off but letting it go. It wasn't until I got to the theme reveal that I really questioned it. "HAPPY? How does that mean fast?" and checked the crosses. And when I checked the crosses I was super excited to find … HUSH PUPPY (3D: Item in a fried side with catfish)! I had hush puppies for the first time Sunday night. I know! How have a lived this long without those delectable balls of fried goodness?!?

Talking points:
  • 14A: Nobleman's mistress (COURTESAN). Great word.
  • 16A: Artist Neiman (LEROY). Forever confused in my mind with Leonard Nimoy.
  • 42A: Record needles (STYLI). I haven't finished reading all the comments from the last couple days, but I believe we have now solved a mystery. Wasn't this clue mistakenly printed in Monday's puzzle?
  • 48A: Powder parter (SKI). Read this as "powder partNer" and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
  • 5D: Delt neighbor (PEC). Muscles!
  • 7D: Co. that has sponsored many soaps (P AND G). Procter & Gamble. See also 27D: Ivory units? (BARS).
  • 31D: The purple one is New Hampshire's state flower (LILAC). I didn't realize there were non-purple LILACs.
  • 33D: Fire preceder? (AIM). As in the phrase "Ready, aim, fire."
  • 54D: Big name in air conditioning (TRANE). Not big enough for me to have heard of it.
  • 61D: "So that's your game!" ("OHO!"). This little guy always makes me think of Sherlock Holmes. I'm reading a great book right now about Sherlock Holmes and his mentoring relationship with a young girl. The Beekeeper's Apprentice. Recommended.
  • 65D: Three times, in Rx's (TER). Let's try not to talk about this all day. There always seems to be a lot of controversy over these "medical" abbreviations. I don't know enough about it to have an opinion and don't care enough about it to form one.
Crosswordese 101 Round-Up:
  • 1A: Turkish title (AGHA).
  • 28A: Paul's "Exodus" role (ARI).
  • 29A: MGM co-founder (LOEW).
  • 50A: Asian occasion (TET).
  • 57A: Long-jawed fish (GAR).
  • 58A: ICU test (EEG).
  • 68A: Poet's Muse (ERATO).
  • 1D: German cry (ACH).
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Everything Else — 5A: Kind of appetizer platter (PUPU); 9A: Refs throw them (FLAGS); 19A: In the know (HIP); 20A: Buck's partner (DOE); 21A: Emergency PC key (ESC); 27A: A/C unit (BTU); 30A: Fridge or freezer: Abbr. (APPL.); 32A: Pollution-policing org. (EPA); 34A: Fountain orders (SODAS); 43A: Response of feigned innocence ("MOI?"); 44A: Spill the beans (SING); 45A: Con (ANTI); 56A: Network absorbed by The CW (UPN); 66A: Synagogue scroll (TORAH); 67A: First felony conviction, in some states (ONE STRIKE); 69A: Certain squad member (GEEK); 70A: "__ off?" (ON OR); 2D: ___ few rounds (GO A); 4D: "The Sopranos" chef Bucco (ARTIE); 6D: GI entertainers (USO); 8D: Not 19-Across (UNCOOL); 9D: __ shot (FLU); 10D: Guitarist Paul (LES); 11D: The Little Mermaid (ARIEL); 12D: Ninny (GOOSE); 13D: Matches audio to video, say (SYNCS); 15D: Aggressive sort (TYPE A); 18D: He preceded and followed O'Brien (LENO); 22D: March VIP (ST. PAT); 23D: Attracted (DREW); 24D: "Holy Toledo!" ("YIPE!"); 25D: Energy (ZEST); 26D: Mil. truants (AWOL'S); 35D: "Encore!" ("DO IT AGAIN!"); 36D: Good __: repaired (AS NEW); 37D: USMC rank (SSGT); 39D: Drop shot, in tennis (DINK); 40D: "No kidding!" ("GOSH!"); 41D: Increase (HIKE); 46D: Frat party attire (TOGA); 47D: Dazed (IN A FOG); 49D: Latin clarifier (ID EST); 51D: Bit of term paper color (QUOTE); 52D: Enthusiastic about (UP FOR); 53D: Prefix with structure (INFRA-); 55D: In once more (RETRO); 60D: Sylvester, to Tweety (TAT); 62D: "What'd I tell ya?" ("SEE?"); 63D: "That wasn't nice!" ("TSK!"); 64D: Early MGM rival (RKO).