05.31 Tue

May 31, 2011
Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke

Theme: Every Tom, Dick, and Harry (except without Dick and Harry) — Theme answers are each a familiar phrase, the first word of which is the last name of a well-known person named Tom.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Port of call (CRUISE STOP).
  • 24A: Readily interchangeable, fashionwise (MIX AND MATCH).
  • 35A: Office fund for minor expenses (PETTY CASH).
  • 49A: Head locks (HANKS OF HAIR).
  • 58A: Horseplay, and a hint to the starts of 17-, 24-, 35- and 49-Across (TOMFOOLERY).
Cute idea for a theme. Not crazy about the theme answers chosen though. PETTY CASH is awesome and MIX AND MATCH is good, but the other two? CRUISE CONTROL would have been a better choice (believe me, I know sometimes you have to settle because you can't find a matching entry, so maybe it wasn't possible, but I'm just sayin'). And HANKS OF HAIR is downright ugly. Do you guys remember that puzzle Doug and I made with the clues "good place for a run" and "bad place for a run"? Doug suggested PAIR OF PANTYHOSE for one of the theme answers. I vetoed that one right off the bat. HANKS OF HAIR reminds me of that. Only worse. And there are other Toms that might have worked better than Hanks: Tom Waits, Tom DeLay, Tom Brady.

Lots of people in the grid today. I actually like seeing people in my grid, but I'm sure some will complaing about it. Here's who showed up today:
  • 1A: McCartney bandmate (STARR). Weren't we just talking about him?
  • 16A: Armstrong on the moon (NEIL). We had a Realtor in Iowa whose last name was Armstrong and my kids thought it was hilarious to ask her if NEIL was her husband.
  • 29A: "Rabbit, Run" author (UPDIKE). Can't say I've read the Rabbit books, but I might get to them some day.
  • 48A: Ochoa of the LPGA (LORENA).
  • 62A: "Fame" singer David, 1975 (BOWIE).
  • 2D: "Separate Tables" dramatist Rattigan (TERENCE). Can't say I've ever even heard of this guy. Sadly, TERENCE Trent D'Arby would have been a better clue for me.
  • 3D: Four-time Indy 500 winner (AL UNSER). Timely clue.
  • 4D: Senate majority leader Harry (REID).
  • 24D: Dada pioneer (MAX ERNST). Nice to see his whole name in the grid for a change.
  • 48D: Disney girl who adopted Stitch (LILO). Does she count as a person?
  • 52D: Actress Woodard (ALFRE).
  • 14A: Fax predecessor (TELEX). I'm just barely old enough to remember actually using one of these.
  • 27A: Bygone deliverer (ICEMAN). Definitely not old enough to remember having one of these though.
  • 54A: Bozo, in Bath (TWIT). Hmmm. I guess I've never really thought of TWIT as a British-ism. Is there a point where a word like that ceases to be "imported" and just becomes an American word?
  • 8D: Beatles concert reaction, often (SWOON). Another wink to us oldsters.
  • 25D: Russian assembly (DUMA). New to me.
  • 31D: R-V connectors (S-T-U). Ouch. I never really understand why you would choose to clue STU as a random letter string, when you could clue it as a person's name. Like STU Ungar, for example.
  • 32D: Lille lily (LYS). As in "fleur-de-lys," which I often confuse with "Für Elise." (I think I've posted these guys before, but maybe not this exactly video.)

  • 40D: Craft using the element Sn (TINWORK). Any time I see a "[whatever]WORK" word it reminds me of the time PuzzleHusband and I bought a John Deere lawn tractor when we lived in Iowa. The guy at the store asked us if we were going to do any "dirtwork" with it. We were all, "Well that would totally depend on what the heck 'dirtwork' is."
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 19A: Hindu royal (RAJA).
  • 22A: Inner Hebrides isle (IONA).
  • 34A: Original Dungeons & Dragons co. (TSR).
  • 64A: Terrier type (SKYE).
  • 7D: Insurance giant (AETNA).
  • 18D: Ireland, in poetry (ERIN).
  • 24D: Dada pioneer (MAX ERNST).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 6A: Minimal effort (EASE); 10A: "It seems to me," online (IMHO); 15A: Makes collars, say (SEWS); 20A: Rip to shreds (REND); 21A: City near Lake Tahoe (RENO); 23A: Switch settings (ONS); 30A: Office copy (XEROX); 31A: Aid for a ref's review (SLO-MO); 38A: Held a hearing, say (MET); 41A: Give a rude awakening to (ROUST); 42A: African capital contained in its country's name (TUNIS); 46A: Easily bent (PLIANT); 53A: Upsilon follower (PHI); 55A: Take it easy (LOLL); 56A: Place for a snow blower (SHED); 57A: Barrel of laughs (RIOT); 60A: Pacific island half? (BORA); 61A: Masterful server (ACER); 63A: Attends to, as a dry stamp pad (INKS); 65A: Jokes around (JESTS); 1D: Largest of the Virgin Islands (ST. CROIX); 5D: Prescriptions, for short (RX'S); 6D: County northeast of London (ESSEX); 9D: Uncanny gift, for short (ESP); 10D: Encroachment (INROAD); 11D: Wasn't kidding (MEANT IT); 12D: Takes by force (HIJACKS); 13D: Ending for pay (-OLA); 22D: Identity thief, e.g. (IMPOSTOR); 26D: "I've Grown Accustomed to __ Face" (HER); 28D: Swabbing tool (MOP); 33D: Mo. to see Dracula at your door? (OCT.); 36D: Pooch in Oz (TOTO); 37D: "Ben-__" (HUR); 38D: Dashboard abbr. (MPH); 39D: Walking-on-air feeling (ELATION); 43D: Reunion attendees (NEPHEWS); 44D: Come into some money, maybe (INHERIT); 45D: Answered affirmatively (SAID YES); 47D: Tough watchdogs (AKITAS); 50D: Shepherd's charge (FLOCK); 51D: Comfy-cozy (HOMEY); 56D: Plumlike fruit (SLOE); 57D: Baseball stat (RBI); 58D: Coll. helpers (TA'S); 59D: Word after a transitive vb. (OBJ.).


05.30 Mon

May 30, 2011
Dan Schoenholz

Theme: Prime Time — Theme answers contain prime numbers.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Many a sports car, capacity-wise (TWO-SEATER).
  • 23A: *Genie's offering (THREE WISHES).
  • 39A: *Eisenhower became one in 1944 (FIVE-STAR GENERAL).
  • 49A: *Slurpee seller (SEVEN-ELEVEN).
  • 61A: When most top-rated shows are on, and a hint to the kind of numbers in the starred answers (PRIME TIME).
It's Monday, it's a holiday, and I have a hard time believing anyone's actually reading this, so let's make it quick. Cute theme. Nothing mind-blowing. Weird to see both A-LIST and A-ONE in the grid. (1A: Most-preferred invitees / 30A: Top-of-the-line). Weird that ABE is an answer (15A: Civil War prez) and "Abraham" is in the clue for SON (64A: Isaac, to Abraham). I always knew there was a difference between jealousy and ENVY, but I didn't know the key was the absence of resentment. (Is that true?) Let's see … what else? It's Monday, so there's not much to talk about. Cluing is, for the most part, straightforward and nothing is particularly sparkly. So get outside and enjoy the last of your weekend. I'll see you back here tomorrow.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 25A: Texas or Ukraine city (ODESSA).
  • 33D: Gold, in Guanajuato (ORO).
  • 36D: River to the Caspian (URAL).
  • 46D: Legal thing (RES).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 6A: Courteney of "Friends" (COX); 9A: Backyard lounging locale (PATIO); 14A: Atra or Sensor (RAZOR); 16A: Staples Center, e.g. (ARENA); 19A: Tears apart (RENDS); 20A: The last word? (END); 21A: Gets on in years (AGES); 22A: Town square centerpiece (STATUE); 25A: Texas or Ukraine city (ODESSA); 29A: "__ Miz" (LES); 31A: __ gin fizz (SLOE); 34A: Mistreat (ABUSE); 42A: "Funny Girl" composer Jule (STYNE); 43A: School restroom sign (BOYS); 44A: List in order of importance (RANK); 45A: Fury (IRE); 47A: Championships (TITLES); 55A: Dover's are white (CLIFFS); 56A: Require (NEED); 57A: Maple tree yield (SAP); 60A: Former "The View" co-host O'Donnell (ROSIE); 63A: "Some people swallow the universe like __": Stevenson (A PILL); 65A: Diner (EATER); 66A: Doled (out) (METED); 67A: Helpful contacts (INS); 68A: Plastered (DRUNK); 1D: Johnson of "Laugh-In" (ARTE); 2D: Croquet venue (LAWN); 3D: Phillips-Van Heusen brand (IZOD); 4D: Distress call letters (SOS); 5D: Alternatives to tricks (TREATS); 6D: Provide food for (CATER); 7D: Extremely overweight (OBESE); 8D: Gen-__: boomer's kid, usually (X'ER); 9D: Like much politics (PARTISAN); 10D: Geometry calculations (AREAS); 11D: Bowler's final frame (TENTH); 12D: All __ time: as a matter of course (IN DUE); 13D: Where to find dates? (OASES); 18D: Horrified (AGHAST); 22D: Nor. neighbor (SWE.); 24D: Mournful poem (ELEGY); 25D: Klutzes (OAFS); 26D: Attend to the job (DO IT); 27D: Jealousy without resentment (ENVY); 28D: Witnessed (SEEN); 32D: Designer's identification (LABEL); 35D: Ernie's Muppet pal (BERT); 37D: In one's right mind (SANE); 38D: Fraternal order (ELKS); 40D: Kramer's neighbor (SEINFELD); 41D: Hold in high regard (ESTEEM); 48D: "Most assuredly!" ("INDEED!"); 49D: Vamoose (SCRAM); 50D: Say "I do" without a big do (ELOPE); 51D: Come calling (VISIT); 52D: Submit tax returns online (E-FILE); 53D: Bankrupt energy giant (ENRON); 54D: Blood carriers (VEINS); 57D: In __: as originally placed (SITU); 58D: "You can say that again!" ("AMEN!"); 59D: Exec's car, say (PERK); 61D: Tire gauge meas. (PSI); 62D: Roofing material (TAR).


05.29 Sun (calendar)

May 29, 2011
Merl Reagle

[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: "Fast Food for Thought" — Surnames that start with "MC" are clued as if the "MC" is a nonsense prefix (like many food items at McDonald's).

Theme answers:

  • 1A: "At weddings I always kiss the ___" (MCBRIDE).
  • 18A: "When friends need help, I get the ___" (MCCALL).
  • 19A: " 'Golden' is one of my favorite ___" (MCCULLERS).
  • 24A: "I always drive in the ___" (MCFARLANE).
  • 38A: "At pubs I always order a ___" (MCGINNIS).
  • 48A: "My favorite western is ___" (MCSHANE).
  • 52A: "At Thanksgiving, I'm the designated ___" (MCCARVER).
  • 57A: "I've started calling myself a '___ of letters'" (MCMAHON).
  • 68A: "Outside it might be ___ ..." (MCRANEY).
  • 71A: "... but a second later there won't be a ___ in the sky" (MCCLOUD).
  • 76A: "I once dreamt I was brought before a royal ___ ..." (MCCOURT).
  • 88A: "... and had to ___ before the throne ..." (MCNEILL).
  • 92A: "... and just like that, I was a ___! ..." (MCKNIGHT).
  • 96A: "... Then the ___ said she wanted to run away with me! ..." (MCQUEEN).
  • 109A: "... Love at first sight? No, she just didn't want to ___ any more! Then I woke up" (MCGOVERN).
  • 121A: "Anyway, my deadline's approaching. I better get ___" (MCCRACKEN).
  • 131A: "Otherwise, I'll just get ___ ..." (MCPHATTER).
  • 134A: "... sitting on my ___ all day" (MCCANN).
  • 139A: "Don't get me wrong — constructing crosswords is fun. What takes forever is the ___" (MCLUHAN).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 8A: La-la lead-in (TRA); 11A: Long tales (SAGAS); 16A: Was out of control (CAREENED); 17A: Pasteur's sci. (CHEM.); 20A: Cuisine mushroom (CEPE); 21A: In a creepy way (EERILY); 22A: German pronoun (ICH); 23A: Caustic cleaner (LYE); 26A: Each (A POP); 28A: Deny (DISAVOW); 31A: Corrida shout (OLÉ); 32A: Bounder (CAD); 35A: ___ Simbel (ABU); 40A: Layered rock (SHALE); 42A: James Cameron epic (AVATAR); 45A: Casual day: abbr. (FRI.); 46A: Half a Hungarian? (ZSA); 47A: Ms. Fitzgerald (ELLA); 50A: Play parts (ACT); 56A: Author Levin (IRA); 61A: Fine (A-OK); 62A: Badly or hardly (ILL); 63A: Hockey's Phil (ESPOSITO); 67A: ___'s Ice Cream (EDY); 70A: Jelly container (JAR); 75A: One with a record (CON); 80A: ET's craft (UFO); 81A: ___ a victory (EKING OUT); 86A: Palindromic name (ADA); 87A: Actress Sandra (DEE); 91A: Greek letter (PSI); 95A: Card game (GIN); 100A: Primary (MAIN); 101A: "You there!" ("HEY!"); 104A: Zodiac sign (LEO); 106A: Public protest (OUTCRY); 107A: Grant portrayer (ASNER); 111A: Lethal coiler (BOA); 112A: Trip segment (LEG); 113A: Simile center (AS A); 115A: Welcomer (GREETER); 117A: Busy centers (HUBS); 123A: WWII theater (ETO); 126A: Shar-___ (PEI); 127A: See 65 Down (ARABIA); 130A: Ex-Israeli P.M. (MEIR); 135A: Beer alternatives (ALES); 136A: Elbow grease (EXERTION); 137A: Recorder button (PAUSE); 138A: Polite wd. (PLS.); 1D: Like he-men (MACHO); 2D: Grand ___ (great vintage, in French) (CRU); 3D: Boxing ringer (BELL); 4D: Depend (on) (RELY); 5D: "That's all ___!" (I NEED); 6D: German article (DER); 7D: 107 Across et al. (EDS.); 8D: Winkler role (THE FONZ); 9D: Hocks again (REPAWNS); 10D: Of the U.S. (AMER.); 11D: Play parts (SCENES); 12D: Land measure (ACRE); 13D: Merry, to Mimi (GAI); 14D: Completely (ALL); 15D: Wily (SLY); 16D: "U.S.S.R.," to a Soviet (CCCP); 17D: This clue squared, plus itself (CCCVI); 18D: Lunch or brunch (MEAL); 19D: Soccer's Hamm (MIA); 24D: Ars ___ (sorcery) (MAGICA); 25D: Spanish article (LOS); 27D: Primrose, e.g. (PATH); 29D: World finance org. (IMF); 30D: "Beat it!" ("SCRAM!"); 32D: Hobbes's pal (CALVIN); 33D: Gene form (ALLELE); 34D: Very much (DEARLY); 36D: Lamb's lament (BAA); 37D: Coffee server (URN); 39D: Reddy's "___ Woman" (I AM); 41D: That actress (HER); 42D: French friend (AMIE); 43D: TiVo forerunners (VCR'S); 44D: Quickly, quickly (ASAP); 49D: CPR pro (EMT); 51D: "___, Hot Summer" (THE LONG); 53D: Machine part (CAM); 54D: Some bacteria (COCCI); 55D: Ohio city (AKRON); 58D: Dot follower (COM); 59D: Meter preceder (ODO-); 60D: Manhattan sch. (NYU); 64D: Eye, to Enrique (OJO); 65D: Asian nation, with 127 Across (SAUDI); 66D: Like some vbs. (IRREG.); 69D: Director Lee (ANG); 72D: Summa ___ laude (CUM); 73D: Ozone pollutant: abbr. (CFC); 74D: Neighbor of Md. (DEL.); 76D: Human or whale (MAMMAL); 77D: Music fan's container (CD CASE); 78D: Encrusting (CAKING); 79D: Mao's top army commander, Chu ___ (TEH); 82D: It merged with Air France (KLM); 83D: "Black gold" bloc (OPEC); 84D: Customer (USER); 85D: Like Tim (TINY); 89D: Actress Brennan (EILEEN); 90D: Like krypton (INERT); 93D: Compass pt. (NNE); 94D: Marijuana ingredient (THC); 97D: Male swan (COB); 98D: Status ___ (QUO); 99D: Orem's home (UTAH); 102D: Ovum (EGG CELL); 103D: Toy terriers (YORKIES); 105D: George's bill (ONE); 108D: Wisconsin city (RACINE); 109D: Put a dent in (MAR); 110D: Swerves (VEERS); 114D: Read quickly (SCAN); 116D: Drive back (REPEL); 118D: Muckraker's first name (UPTON); 119D: Has-___ (BEEN); 120D: Letter opener (SIR); 121D: CEO degrees (MBA'S); 122D: "Do I have to draw you ___?" (A MAP); 124D: Drive-___ (THRU); 125D: Solemn vow (OATH); 127D: Roadie's burden (AMP); 128D: Zenith rival (RCA); 129D: Puncture opening (ACU-); 131D: ___-sahib (MEM); 132D: 190 (CXC); 133D: Nogales aunt (TIA).

05.29 Sun

May 29, 2011
Matt Skoczen

[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: "For the Record" — Two word phrases that start with the letters LP.

Theme Entries:
  • 27A: George Bush in late 1992, say (LAME-DUCK PRESIDENT).
  • 43A: Delivery lead-in (LABOR PAINS).
  • 72A: Make-believe intro (LET'S PRETEND).
  • 97A: Heads-up discovery (LUCKY PENNY).
  • 118A: Danube School artists (LANDSCAPE PAINTERS).
  • 16D: Edward Lear output (LIMERICK POETRY).
  • 52D: Kaufman play based on the Matthew Shepard incident, with "The" (LARAMIE PROJECT).
Hey, crossword fans. Doug here on Sunday, as usual. Hope you're all having a nice Memorial Day weekend. And if you're from Canada or one of those other places, I hope you're having a nice regular weekend.

Did you figure out the theme today? The "Record" mentioned in the title is an LP, and all seven theme answers are also LPs. The constructor could have put LPS into the grid somewhere as a hint, but I like that he made us figure it out.

I'm old enough to have bought LPs as a kid, and I still have a few of them in a box somewhere. I haven't owned a record player in over twenty years, so it's probably safe to get rid of those albums now.

  • 37A: "It Ain't All About the Cookin'" memoirist Deen (PAULA). I never watch cooking shows, but I've heard of Paula Deen. I had no idea she wrote a memoir. Check out this recipe for English Peas. Is that for real? (I can't remember for sure where I first saw this amazing recipe, but I believe it was a link from Deb Amlen, crossword constructor and humor writer extraordinaire.)
  • 53A: Wine bottle word (CRU). Apparently it's French for vineyard. Something like that. The wine people will know. And they can also tell us which wine goes best with English Peas. Maybe a nice bottle of Thunderbird.
  • 54A: Requiem Mass hymn word (IRAE). The hymn "Dies Irae" which translates as Day of Wrath.
  • 56A: 60 minuti (ORA). 60 minutes = 1 hour, Italian-style.
  • 114A: Hi's spouse, in comics (LOIS). Did you know Lois is Beetle Bailey's sister? True story. She's lucky their parents didn't name her Ladybug or Cricket.
  • 1D: Places to study anglais, perhaps (ECOLES). French schools.
  • 2D: Endearing words from Étienne (MON AMI). More French!
  • 3D: Friend of Athos (ARAMIS). French Musketeers! Sacre bleu, this corner is busting at the seams with Frenchitude.
  • 9D: Roman road of yore (ITER). OK, at least it's not French. But it's a tough one, so please read this Crosswordese 101 entry: ITER. It's from a old LACC post written by Rex Parker, and he somehow found a way to work in a picture of Teri Garr in her underwear.
  • 35D: Back for a buck? (AROO). Buckaroo. Not my favorite entry.
  • 59D: It produces lieuts. (OCS). Short for Officer Candidate School.
  • 7D: Launches may originate from one (TASKBAR). I've covered a lot of the tougher, more obscure entries in the grid, and I wanted to highlight some of the fun stuff too. In technical terms, the taskbar is the thingie at the bottom of your computer screen. I like the entry and the tricky clue.
  • 77A: Twenty somethings? (ATMS). My winner for Clue of the Day. Excellent!
  • 8D: Concludes (WRAPS UP). Good one to go out on. See you next week.
Everything Else1A: Modern letters (EMAILS); 7A: Surprise at the end (TWIST); 12A: Hot air (GAS); 15A: Sight from Salzburg (ALPS); 19A: Trumpet relative (CORNET); 20A: Bandleader Shaw (ARTIE); 21A: Job: Abbr. (OCC); 22A: Dismiss (FIRE); 23A: Even (with) (ON A PAR); 24A: Composer Saint-__ (SAENS); 25A: Like some bandits (ONE-ARMED); 30A: Green gp. (EPA); 31A: Persian Gulf prince (EMIR); 32A: Unruly crowds (MOBS); 33A: In-flight no. (ALT.); 34A: Rip into (TEAR AT); 36A: Oaxaca "Of course!" ("S´I" SÍ!"); 40A: Cut off (LOP); 42A: Houston school (RICE); 47A: Bolts again (RELOCKS); 50A: Animation frame (CEL); 55A: Nook download (EBOOK); 57A: Souped-up wheels (HOT ROD); 60A: "Psst!" "HEY YOU!"); 62A: How a player may turn (PRO); 65A: "Have __!" (MERCY); 67A: Missed __ (A CUE); 69A: It's charged (ION); 70A: Either 2007 Best Director (COEN); 71A: H.S. freshmen may take it (PSAT); 76A: Webster's entries: Abbr. (DEFS.); 78A: Poet's preposition (ERE); 79A: Prehistorical author Jean (AUEL); 80A: "Understand?" ("GET IT?"); 81A: Who, in Quebec (QUI); 82A: "Soap" actor Robert (MANDAN); 85A: Phone button (REDIAL); 88A: Code carrier (RNA); 89A: Take away (ERASE); 91A: Noggin (DOME); 93A: "Ciao!" ("BYE!"); 94A: "__ Blues": Beatles "White Album" song (YER); 95A: Facets (ASPECTS); 101A: Field shield (TARP); 102A: Numerical prefix (TRI-); 104A: He replaced Gumbel on "Today" (LAUER); 105A: Old U.S. gas (ESSO); 109A: Soldiers (TROOPS); 112A: Baby docs (OB'S); 116A: At what point (WHEN); 117A: Old rule in India (RAJ); 123A: Pub (ALEHOUSE); 125A: Worst or best conclusion? (OF ALL); 126A: Like olde England (MERRIE); 127A: Winans of gospel (CECE); 128A: Former Giants closer Robb __ (NEN); 129A: __ Islands: autonomous Danish province (FAROE); 130A: Eye slyly (PEEP AT); 131A: French bean? (TˆETE); 132A: One may have several scenes (ACT); 133A: Some grenades, briefly (FRAGS); 134A: Lifts (STEALS); 4D: At risk (IN PERIL); 5D: Heavy metal (LEAD); 6D: Pick alternative (STRUM); 10D: Trig ratio (SINE); 11D: "Veronica Mars" actress Thompson (TESSA); 12D: Treating nicely (GOOD TO); 13D: Proactiv target (ACNE); 14D: Essence (SCENT); 15D: Liberia's cont. (AFR.); 17D: Assortment for sale as a unit (PREPACK); 18D: Gets ready for surgery (SEDATES); 26D: Dined (ATE); 28D: Quit (on) (COP OUT); 29D: "Maybe" ("I'LL SEE"); 38D: Home in bed, perhaps (LAID UP); 39D: Word with ball or guitar (AIR); 41D: Exploit (PREY ON); 44D: Sore (ACHY); 45D: Monastic title: Abbr. (BRO.); 46D: "Uh-uh" ("NAH"); 48D: WWII issue (E BOND); 49D: Actor __ Diamond Phillips (LOU); 50D: 2002 Hewlett-Packard acquisition (COMPAQ); 51D: Title words repeated after "Como una promesa," in a 1974 song (ERES TU); 58D: Gave two stars, say (RATED); 61D: Return (YIELD); 63D: Purify (REFINE); 64D: GM tracking system (ONSTAR); 66D: Dol. parts (CTS.); 68D: Generation (ERA); 70D: B-F span (C-D-E); 72D: Not under, with "at" (LEAST); 73D: One of the Gallos (ERNEST); 74D: "Aha!" ("EUREKA!"); 75D: Casual shirt (TEE); 80D: Secluded valley (GLEN); 82D: Big __ (MAC); 83D: They're extemporaneous (AD LIBS); 84D: __-TURN (NO U); 86D: Spanish airline (IBERIA); 87D: Author Rand (AYN); 90D: Bank seizure, for short (REPO); 92D: 12th-century date (MCL); 95D: Engage (ATTRACT); 96D: Hillshire Farm parent company (SARA LEE); 98D: Holiday warmer (YULE LOG); 99D: Community inhabitants (PEOPLES); 100D: Longbow wood source (YEW TREE); 103D: Porcupine, e.g. (RODENT); 106D: Himalayan leader (SHERPA); 107D: Soap, e.g. (SERIAL); 108D: Starts (ONSETS); 110D: Mideast org. since 1964 (PLO); 111D: Gym plus (SAUNA); 113D: Sneer (at) (SCOFF); 115D: Ninnies (SIMPS); 119D: Tiny amt. of time (NSEC.); 120D: At a distance (AFAR); 121D: Chute opener? (PARA-); 122D: Old Nair rival (NEET); 124D: Bit of a laugh (HEE).


05.28 Sat

May 28, 2011
Bonnie L. Gentry

Theme: None

What better way to start out a long holiday weekend than with a tough Saturday themeless. This one was a pretty good workout, don't you think? There are a couple entries that stood out to me. I like HIPSTER (1A: Hardly a square), especially because the other day I tried to enter it into a grid where POP STAR was supposed to go. HAIL A CAB (28A: Decide not to walk, perhaps) looks good in the grid and has a pretty tricky clue. I tried TAKE A BUS first. And what can I say about EGG AND I (64A: Ma and Pa Kettle debut film, with "The")?! Never heard of the movie and I have to admit the title made me laugh.

Today I'm going to walk you through some of the trickiness in this grid, and then we're going to call it good so you can get outside where you belong.

First, the ambiguous word clues.

  • 24D: Apple and peacock, e.g. (LOGOS). What the heck could an apple and a peacock have in common? No wait, maybe the reference is to colors? Apple red? That's not really a color. Oh, I get it! They're both used as LOGOS for a couple of pretty well-known companies.
  • 31D: Place for snaps (ALBUM). "Snapshot" seems like an old-fashioned word to me. Is it used much any more? In any case, a "snapshot" can also be referred to as a "snap" (kind of like "picture" and "pic"), and you might find snaps in a photo ALBUM.
  • 37D: American enticements (LOW FARES). Enticements for American people? Enticements to become American? To come to America? Huh?? Ohhhh, American Airlines! That company uses LOW FARES to entice people to fly with them.
Next, let's take a look at the question mark clues. Remember: A question mark typically means that you have to think about what each word means and not look at the phrase as a whole.
  • 15A: Duty-free? (ON LEAVE). "Duty-free" means without tax, right? Right. But the question mark means you need to think about the words in a different way. Like someone who is "free" of all their "duties."
  • 17A: Moving locks? (HAIR REPLACEMENT). I don't really have a go-to definition for the phrase "moving locks," so this one doesn't really feel like a question mark clue to me. Does the phrase "moving locks" mean something? In any case, the "locks" in this clue aren't related to canals or security, but rather to hair.
  • 41A: Team feature? (NO I). In this case, you shouldn't be thinking about actual features of actual teams, but rather a feature of the word "team" itself. As the saying goes: "There is no I in team." (But there are three Us in "Shut the f*** up.")
  • 58A: Exact opposites? (BALLPARK FIGURES). The phrase "exact opposites" makes me think of two people that are, well, exactly opposite. An outgoing person and a wallflower. A cynic and an idealist. But in this clue, you need to think about how you might descripe the opposite of the word "exact."
  • 61A: Letters read with feeling? (BRAILLE). Was your first thought some type of love letter? A Dear John letter maybe? "Letters" in this clue doesn't refer to correspondence, it refers to the actual components of an alphabet. Letters written in BRAILLE are — literally — read with feeling.
  • 11D: Long ride? (LIMO). Nope, not a road trip, just a stretched out automobile.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 19A: Service rank (ONE-A).
  • 39D: Caspian feeder (URAL).
  • 48D: Willem of "Spider-Man" (DAFOE).
  • 57D: Piedmont product (ASTI).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 8A: Duplicate (REPLICA); 16A: Unlikely to cheat (ETHICAL); 20A: Muddy, as water (ROIL); 21A: Signal agreement (NOD TO); 22A: Juice source (BATTERY); 24A: "The Sea-Wolf" captain (LARSEN); 33A: Made an impressive delivery (ORATED); 34A: Corner key (ESC); 35A: Exclusive (SOLE); 36A: Gain notoriety, as via 38-Across (GO VIRAL); 38A: See 36-Across (YOUTUBE); 40A: Eclipse, to some (OMEN); 43A: Appear unexpectedly (CROP UP); 44A: Got comfy in a sofa (SANK DOWN); 46A: Women-only residences (HAREMS); 47A: Nonbeliever, to some (INFIDEL); 49A: Crossing the keel (ABEAM); 53A: Pre-med subj. (ANAT.); 54A: Magical beginning (ABRA); 62A: Raving (ON A RANT); 63A: Fixes, as pumps (REHEELS); 1D: Cream-filled treat (HO-HO); 2D: __ instant (IN AN); 3D: Bend at the barre (PLIE); 4D: Medical supplies (SERA); 5D: Gob (TAR); 6D: From time to time (EVER AND ANON); 7D: Find a new home for, in a way (REPOT); 8D: Not at all complicated (REAL EASY); 9D: And more: Abbr. (ETC.); 10D: Derived from benzene (PHENYL); 12D: Bumped off (ICED); 13D: Jargon (CANT); 14D: Glee club member (ALTO); 18D: Pliant (LITHE); 22D: Suds, so to speak (BEER); 23D: Glancing (RICOCHETING); 25D: Bakery emanation (AROMA); 26D: First bird off the Ark, in Genesis (RAVEN); 27D: Deserve no stars (STINK); 29D: Notable Titanic casualty (ASTOR); 30D: Compact, perhaps (COUPE); 32D: Summons (BEEPS); 42D: How hard crosswords are usually not done (IN INK); 45D: Golf ball feature (DIMPLE); 49D: Can. or Mex., e.g. (ABBR.); 50D: Reveal (BARE); 51D: Where Goliath was slain (ELAH); 52D: "I Just Can't Live __": Carrie Underwood song (A LIE); 54D: Mystique (AURA); 55D: Cereal material (BRAN); 56D: Rip to bits (REND); 59D: Completely (ALL); 60D: __ rule (GAG).


05.27 Fri

May 27, 2011
Julian Lim

Theme: Put a Lid On It — Theme answers are familiar phrases with a type of "lid" added to the beginning, creating wacky phrases clued wackily.

Theme answers:

  • 4D: Surpassing a classic arcade game? (TOPPING PONG).
  • 9D: Boxed pasta that's different every time you open it? (CAPRICE-A-RONI).
  • 21D: Wheels for a spy? (COVERT MOBILE).
  • 27D: "Hush!" (and hint to how 4-, 9- and 21-Down are formed) ("PUT A LID ON IT!").
If you're anything like me, the first thing you probably noticed about this puzzle is that the theme answers are vertical, which is pretty unusual. It actually sort of makes me feel all discombobulated for some reason. Not really sure how to explain it. As you might remember, the first puzzle I ever had published (a collaboration with Rex Parker that appeared in the L.A. Times back in February) also had vertical theme answers. And we structured the puzzle that way for the same reason Julian did on this one. The theme of today's puzzle is about putting lids on, and lids go on top. Having the lids actually sitting atop a vertical answer (instead of to the left of an across answer) makes more sense visually. So hats off to Julian for adding that nice touch. (See what I did there?)

There's an awful lot of crosswordese in this puzzle. Make sure to check out the CW101 Round-up at the bottom of this post for a list of words it's really helpful to know if you plan to solve a lot of crossword puzzles. I just know that someone is going to ask for an explanation of CEE (63D: Company opening?). If that person is you, just head on down to the CW101 list, click on the link, and you'll find your answer.

Speaking of answers, did you all know this blog has a FAQ? It sure does. It's probably time for me to update it — there are a couple more questions I get asked on a semi-regular basis — but the number one most frequently asked question is definitely there. (If you want to know the significance of the highlighted entry in the grid at the top of this post, you're not alone.) But I digress.

Because it's the end of the week there were, of course, a few answers that I just flat-out didn't know, and today they're all people:
  • 6A: Dramatist Connelly (MARC).
  • 67A: "Prison Break" role (LINC).
  • 44D: "High Sierra" director Walsh (RAOUL).
ARS NOVA (28A: 14th-century European musical style) almost made the list, but it seems to be lurking way back there in the cobwebs somewhere.

  • 18A: Hard time (BUMPY RIDE). My favorite answer in the grid. Great clue, too.
  • 24A: Immunity __: "Survivor" prop (IDOL). Did you all watch the "American Idol" finale last night? My kids were watching in the other room and I popped out there every once in a while when it sounded like something interesting was going on. I didn't really follow it this year, but Scotty seems like a good kid.
  • 49A: You can't see beyond it (HORIZON).

  • 51A: Permanently (FOR GOOD). Love this colloquial phrase.
  • 54A: Without width or depth (ONE-D). I know this is going to bother someone. It's not pretty, but I guess I've just resigned myself to it. (It means "one-dimensional").
  • 68A: Young girl (MISSY). As some of you know, I work as a secretary and one of the people I support is a woman several years younger than me. I always try to act like a crotchety old woman with her and, therefore, call her "MISSY" a lot.
  • 6D: Shelley queen (MAB). The only reason I got this right away is because it was in a recent New York Times puzzle and I remember Rex complaining about it. Speaking of crotchety. Heh.
  • 29D: Scheme (RUSE). Your homework is to use this word in casual conversation today. Let me know how it goes.
  • 61D: IM sign-off (TTYL). IM = Instant Message. TTYL = Talk To You Later. The abbreviation in the clue is your hint that the answer will also be an abbreviation.
  • 64D: Keeps apprised, briefly (CC'S). I know some people still say CC stands for "Carbon Copy," but I've been using the updated "Courtesy Copy" for the last, oh, I don't know, 25 years or so.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 1A: Brewery fixtures (OASTS).
  • 10A: One standing out in a field? (CZAR).
  • 33A: One-tenth of a microjoule (ERG).
  • 55A: Organic dye (AZO).
  • 66A: Port on its own lake (ERIE).
  • 69A: __-Ball (SKEE).
  • 70A: Med. tests using leads (ECG'S).
  • 1D: Akershus Castle site (OSLO).
  • 7D: Jack-in-the-pulpit family (ARUM).
  • 37D: "__, Sing America": Hughes poem (I TOO).
  • 63D: Company opening? (CEE).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 14A: Not see eye to eye? (STOOP); 15A: Specialty (AREA); 16A: Like some ale (PALE); 17A: Flaw-spotting aid (LOUPE); 20A: Uncommissioned (ON SPEC); 22A: Colt producer (MARE); 23A: Officiate (REF); 26A: Nursery needs (DIAPERS); 31A: Neutral color (ECRU); 32A: Dream analysis pioneer (JUNG); 35A: Need (ENTAIL); 39A: "Now! (ASAP); 40A: Mikhail's wife (RAISA); 42A: Court fig. (ATTY.); 43A: Potential creditor's request (REPORT); 45A: 1-Down's land: Abbr. (NOR.); 46A: Nut (LOON); 47A: Identify (NAME); 56A: Very: Pref. (UBER-); 58A: Solver's cry (I GOT IT); 62A: Community service often associated with a law school (TAX CLINIC); 65A: Oafish (INEPT); 71A: Lucy's neighbor (ETHEL); 2D: Oceans (A TON); 3D: __-chef (SOUS); 5D: Phelps sponsor (SPEEDO); 8D: Like "Psycho" (REMADE); 10D: Pressing activity? (CPR); 11D: Congo, once (ZAIRE); 12D: Electric guitar wood (ALDER); 13D: Snorkeling spots (REEFS); 19D: Hanker (YEARN); 25D: Croft of video games (LARA); 28D: Allowing a little light (AJAR); 30D: Go ape (SNAP); 34D: Singapore Sling ingredient (GIN); 36D: Complete (A TO Z); 38D: NFL Hall of Famer-turned-politician Swann (LYNN); 41D: Trendy London district (SOHO); 48D: Unspoiled (EDENIC); 50D: Dieting and exercise, say (REGIME); 51D: "Thread of life" goddesses (FATES); 52D: Arkansas city (OZARK); 53D: Client of Billy in "Chicago" (ROXIE); 57D: Encircle (RING); 59D: Radio host John (TESH); 60D: __ dixit (IPSE).


05.26 Thu

May 26, 2011
Jack McInturff

Theme: And this little pig …. — Theme answers are definitions of "we" homophones.

Theme answers:
  • 33A: Oui (FRENCH YES).
When I went back to work yesterday, I found out that I'm not quite back to 100% yet. I made it almost all the way through the day though, and then came home and slept for a couple hours. I did find the energy to solve this puzzle though, so let's talk about it.

I really like this type of theme. I don't think I'd care for it every day, but I think it's a fun change on occasion. In this type of puzzle, the theme answers aren't really stand-alone phrases. The only reason they work is because they're unified by the clues. You couldn't, for example, have a theme with the entries: GOLFER MICHELLE (Wie) and RUNNER JACKIE (Joyner-Kersey). That just doesn't work all by itself. But the homophones are enough to give you a general idea of what you're looking for and then the crosses help you fill in the rest. At least that's how it works for me and, as I said, I enjoy the change.

The only problem with this specific puzzle, though, is that a lot of the fill is pretty ugly. Namely: CXIX, ROOTLET, ENISLE, TBSPS., ON HIRE (again!), and EIS. BELL LAP (44D: Last track circuit) looks like it's probably legit, but it's not something I've ever heard of and it sure doesn't get many Google hits. As usual when I'm talking about subpar fill, I would likely be willing to give any one of those answers a pass if the rest of the grid was stellar, but taken together … it's just not doing it for me is what I'm saying.

There is some pretty stuff too, though. I particularly liked STENGEL (2D: Baseball's "Old Perfessor"), CRUELLA (12D: Fur-loving villain de Vil), and I MEAN IT (38D: Mom's tough emphasis).

  • 16A: Half a fictional detecting pair (NORA). This would be NORA of Nick and NORA fame. And I know you all know their dog's name.
  • 21A: Limoges liver (FOIE). I thought maybe "limoges" was French for "geese," but it's actually just a city in France.
  • 28A: Cycle start (TRI-). For some reason I always want to try UNI first. What is my deal with UNIcycles?
  • 30A: Amateur golfer's score, perhaps (LIE). I don't get this. I thought a LIE was, like, where the ball ends up after it's hit. I don't understand what it has to do with scoring. But I know there are enough of you golfers out there that someone will 'splain it to me!
  • 38A: First woman to land a triple axel in competition (ITO). And if you'd like to know what that looks like:

  • 53A: Win by __ (A HAIR). Tried A NOSE first.
  • 61A: Seller of FÖRNUFT flatware (IKEA). I heart IKEA. You do too. Admit it.
  • 65A: Chipmunks creator Bagdasarian (ROSS). Did anybody know this? I know I didn't.
  • 1D: Five-time Art Ross Trophy winner, for short (ESPO). I only know the Art Ross Trophy is a hockey award from crossword puzzles. Hockey, four letters? That's ESPO.
  • 4D: Frozen Wasser (EIS). German!
  • 26D: Supercomputer name (CRAY). Again, I do not know what this means.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 1A: Bass-baritone Simon (ESTES).
  • 41A: Nyctophobic fictional race (ELOI).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 6A: Second-century date (CXIX); 10A: Welding sparks (ARCS); 14A: Hard to stir (STOIC); 15A: Old __, Connecticut (LYME); 20A: Prov. bordering four Great Lakes (ONT.); 22A: Saltpeter (NITER); 27A: Maroon (ENISLE); 29A: Common street name (ELM); 31A: Lasting impression (SCAR); 32A: Confucian path (TAO); 42A: Fed. fiscal agency (OMB); 45A: Cheese partner (MAC); 46A: Moving aid (VAN); 47A: "Obviously" ("SO I SEE"); 54A: Words before many words? (IN SO); 55A: Canadian attorney's deg. (LLB); 62A: Phnom __ (PENH); 63A: Corn Belt native (IOWAN); 64A: Tracy's Trueheart (TESS); 66A: Recipe amts. (TBSPS.); 3D: Ristorante dessert (TORTONI); 5D: Mocks (SCOFFS); 6D: Eau __, Wisconsin (CLAIRE); 7D: Water-carrying plant tissue (XYLEM); 8D: Sitter's handful (IMP); 9D: Thirtysomething, e.g. (X'ER); 10D: Hall of fame (ANNIE); 11D: Small plant support (ROOTLET); 13D: Riviera resort (SAN REMO); 18D: Carol (NOEL); 19D: Available for service (ON HIRE); 24D: Gladly (LIEF); 25D: Burning desire (ITCH); 31D: Fi front (SCI-); 34D: Admire greatly (REVERE); 35D: Ancient rival of Assyria (ELAM); 36D: Zilch (NONE); 37D: Slugger Sammy (SOSA); 39D: It makes one's net smaller (TAX HIKE); 40D: Pump ratings (OCTANES); 43D: Veges (out) (MELLOWS); 47D: Meshes (SYNCHS); 48D: __ buco (OSSO); 49D: Music to the boss's ears (I'M ON IT); 51D: Coolidge and Moreno (RITAS); 52D: Ford Field team (LIONS); 56D: Uncle __ (BEN'S); 58D: "Fresh Air" airer (NPR); 59D: __ gratias (DEO); 60D: Sound after a breakup, maybe (SOB).


05.25 Wed

May 25, 2011
Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel

Theme: Surround Sound — Theme answers are familiar phrases "surrounded" by the word "sound."

Theme answers:

  • 19A: "Afraid you can't have your money back" ("SORRY NO REFUND").
  • 22A: Progresso or Lipton (SOUP BRAND).
  • 32A: Refuse to budge (STAND ONE'S GROUND).
  • 46A: Home of Notre Dame (SOUTH BEND).
  • 50A: Home theater feature, and a hint to the puzzle theme in 19-, 22-, 32-, 46-Across and the first word of this answer (SURROUND SOUND).
Hey, everybody. I'm back. Thanks so much to Neville and Doug for stepping in when I was down for the count. I'm doing much better today and it was nothing serious, so it's all good.

Another nice puzzle from Don and C.C. today. As I've mentioned in the past, C.C. and her team offers another daily L.A. Times puzzle blog. It's got a little different feel than this place and it also has an active group of regular commenters. Check it out if you're so inclined. And now, on to the puzzle ….

This puzzle pretty much had me at the first three acrosses. [1A: Winter break?] is a great clue for THAW, SLURP is an awesome word all by itself (5A: Drink noisily), and who knew there was an [10A: Agcy. that established rules for kite flying]?? That would be the FAA, of course, and that made me chuckle for sure. Theme answers are cute. Nothing super sparkly, but definitely nothing to complain about either. I tried NAME BRAND first where SOUP BRAND was supposed to go because I overthought it. I was all "Oh, that's tricky, using two soup brands to clue the generic NAME BRAND." Um … no. I think the only other write-over I had was when I tried HEM for NET (29D: Bottom line). I'm sure I'm not the only one who did that.

The only reason I didn't have write-overs for LENYA and PETR (6D: Actress Lotte / 9D: Sykora of the NHL), is because I really had no idea. I don't recall ever hearing of either of them. But they were filled in easily through crosses, so no worries there.

  • 16A: The Dixie Chicks, e.g. (TRIO).

  • 18A: Strip light (NEON). I'm not gonna lie to you. This clue gave me pause.
  • 38A: Young in films (LORETTA). I always think LORETTA Young is a singer, but that's LORETTA Lynn.
  • 43A: Chinese, e.g. (ASIAN). If, like me, you know that C.C. is from China, you might have gotten a little chuckle from this one. I have to say that it also reminded me of a bit Stephen Colbert did not too long ago when China's president, Hu Jintao, visited the United States. Apparently, Rush Limbaugh was disturbed by the fact that Mr. Hu was allowed to speak Chinese for quite some time before having his words translated, arguing that "the translator could be making it all up," adding that when he hears Chinese and Japanese "it sounds like all the same word," and he "can't comprehend anybody understanding it." To which Colbert responded, "Off the top of my head, I can only think of 1.5 billion people."
  • 58A: Ragú rival (PREGO). Have you ever heard Will Shortz share some of his mail? He once received a complaint from a solver about this clue because either Ragú or PREGO (I don't remember which) was so far superior to the other that they couldn't accurately be described as rivals. I can only imagine the mail he gets.
  • 60A: Food additive (DYE). This D was the last letter I entered into the grid. And I have to admit my first thought was LYE. Which is, of course, … not a food additive.
  • 3D: Customarily (AS IS USUAL). I'm not crazy about this answer because it sounds awkward to me. Of course, people say things that sound awkward to me all the time, so that doesn't necessarily mean anything.
  • 5D: Best successor of 1962 (STARR). Pete Best was the Beatles' drummer before Ringo STARR took over.
  • 20D: NFL ball carriers (RB'S). On these football answers, you know the first letters is going to be R or L and the second letter is going to be B or G, right? Anything else that second letter can be?
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 15A: "__ la Douce" (IRMA).
  • 39A: Sushi topping (ROE).
  • 23D: Hops drier (OAST).
  • 46D: Hägar's dog (SNERT).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 13A: Poet known for inventing words (NASH); 14A: Prairie home (TEPEE); 17A: "__ of robins in her hair": Kilmer (A NEST); 24A: Climber's toehold (LEDGE); 25A: Fertile desert spot (OASIS); 26A: New Deal inits. (FDR); 27A: Sch. with a Spokane campus (WSU); 28A: Like the Parthenon (ANCIENT); 41A: Rapids transit (CANOE); 52A: Cement piece (SLAB); 53A: Auto buyer's choice (SEDAN); 54A: Ages and ages (EONS); 57A: Hgts. (ALTS.); 59A: Hurry (RUSH); 61A: Scatter (STREW); 62A: Hang around (STAY); 1D: "We know drama" channel (TNT); 2D: Guffaw syllable (HAR); 4D: Moderator of a panel including Joy, Elisabeth and Sherri (WHOOPI); 7D: Wharton's sch. (U. PENN.); 8D: Fix, as a green (RESOD); 10D: "The Ego and the Id" author (FREUD); 11D: Included in (AMONG); 12D: "Dog the Bounty Hunter" airer (A AND E); 15D: Oven, so to speak (INFERNO); 21D: Revered figure (ELDER); 22D: Plants (SOWS); 26D: Newton fruit (FIG); 28D: Farm denizen (ANT); 30D: Rebs' gp. (CSA); 31D: Ended up (TURNED OUT); 33D: Feature of some extreme diets (NO CARBS); 34D: Pipe cleaner (DRANO); 35D: Atop, poetically (O'ER); 36D: High time? (NOON); 37D: Safe document (DEED); 40A: Lincoln or Ford (CAR); 41D: Obama's secretary of energy (CHU).
  • 42D: Doubleday and Yokum (ABNERS); 43D: Syrian president (ASSAD); 44D: Tarnish (SULLY); 45D: Steaming (IRATE); 47D: More eccentric (ODDER); 48D: Linguist's concern (USAGE); 49D: Thus far (TO NOW); 51D: Mail letters (USPS); 55D: Gp. whose insignia consists of a bald eagle holding a key (NSA).
  • 56D: Bashful (SHY).
  • 5.24.2011

    05.24 Tue

    T U E S D A Y
    May 24, 2011
    Gareth Bain

    Theme: Steal From the Rich & Give to the Poor — Four actors who played Robin Hood on the silver screen.

    Theme Entries:
    • 18A: "Kiss the Girls" actor (1993) (CARY ELWES).
    • 25A: "Gladiator" Oscar winner (2010). (RUSSELL CROWE).
    • 38A: "Captain Blood" star (1938) (ERROL FLYNN).
    • 53A: "Field of Dreams" star (1991) (KEVIN COSTNER).
    • 64A: Role played by each of the four actors in the year indicated in their clues (ROBIN HOOD).
    Hey, puzzle fans. PuzzleGirl is still under the weather, so this is Doug filling in. Get well soon, PG!

    I was happy to see Gareth Bain's byline today. He's become one of my favorite L.A. Times regulars. I solved this one from top to bottom, and I had no idea where Gareth was going with the theme. I know that Russell Crowe is from New Zealand and Errol Flynn was born in Tasmania. (I learned that Flynn fact from crossword puzzles.) Cary Elwes is British or Australian or something, so I was thinking foreign actors. Then I filled in California boy Kevin Costner. Huh? Of course, all was made clear at 64-Across. I'm glad I didn't start this puzzle at the bottom, or the surprise would have been ruined. But I shouldn't have been so surprised. When I read the clue for Cary Elwes, I thought "'Kiss the Girls'? I would have used 'Robin Hood: Men in Tights' instead."

    We've got a nice cross-section of films represented here. "The Adventures of Robin Hood" was a classic '30s swashbuckler. "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" was a straightforward telling of the legend, and it was followed a couple years later by the spoof "Robin Hood: Men in Tights." And finally a grimy & gritty version in 2010, "Robin Hood." I own a baseball cap from the 2010 "Robin Hood" film, and I was actually wearing it over the weekend. It was a gift from PuzzleSister! She won the hat in a drawing at the 2010 L.A. Crossword Tournament, and I pouted until she gave it to me. She's awesome.

    • 1A: iPhone add-ons (APPS). My phone has no apps. And no internet. And no camera. It barely makes phone calls.
    • 36A: Potted plant site (SILL). And in cartoons, a place where you leave pies to cool. I'd love to swipe a pie from a windowsill, but I've never found one in real life. Why do cartoons lie to me? I also discovered the hard way that vanishing cream doesn't really make you invisible.
    • 46A: Items included in envs. (ENCS). Enclosures in envelopes. This is my least favorite entry today, and I'm not going to dwell on it.
    • 69A: Lunatics (MADMEN). I'm surprised this wasn't clued with a reference to the TV program "Mad Men." Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person in the country who's never seen that show. Oh well. Maybe I can catch it on Netflix after I finish watching all my Tom & Jerry DVDs.
    • 12D: Eloi predator (MORLOCK). Love this entry. And a great use of the crosswordese staple ELOI in the clue.
    • 32D: Birds' biological class (AVES). I believe Gareth is studying to be a veterinarian, so this one's right up his alley.
    • 40D: Marg : Brits :: ___ : Americans (OLEO). So the actress from "CSI" should be called Oleo Helgenberger? Or maybe "marg" is just short for margarine.
    • 47D: Read the riot act (CHEW OUT). Love this entry too.
    • 61D: Pinup's leg (GAM). This is one of my favorite old-timey words. You'll have to Google your own picture. I don't want PuzzleGirl to chew me out.
    Everything Else 5A: Big name in kibbles (ALPO); 9A: Perturb (DISMAY); 15A: Quantum __ (LEAP); 16A: Ponce de __ (LEON); 17A: Speak liturgically, perhaps (INTONE); 20A: Leads off (STARTS); 21A: Thanksgiving mo. in Canada (OCT.); 22A: Slightly (A BIT); 23A: Look peaked (AIL); 24A: Ne'ertheless (THO'); 31A: Lease signatory (TENANT); 33A: "Go ahead!" ("DO IT!"); 34A: Barracks bed (COT); 35A: Golf's Ballesteros (SEVE); 37A: Furniture company named partly for its founder Ingvar Kamprad (IKEA); 42A: Plumbing joints (ELLS); 45A: Skin cream brand (OLAY); 49A: Island gift (LEI); 50A: Tabloid twosome (ITEM); 51A: Agricultural measure (BUSHEL); 57A: 67.5 deg. (ENE); 58A: PC's top-left key (ESC); 59A: Prefix with gram (HOLO-); 60A: "Because" evoker (WHY); 61A: Player in front of a net (GOALIE); 66A: Take flight? (AVIATE); 67A: Foxx who sang "Mockingbird" (INEZ); 68A: Unadulterated (PURE); 70A: Keep on looking at, and not in a nice way (OGLE); 71A: Ollie's sidekick (STAN); 1D: "Little Men" novelist (ALCOTT); 2D: Often flambéed fruit (PEACHES); 3D: Start of a saga, maybe (PART ONE); 4D: Le CarrÈ hero, e.g. (SPY); 5D: Very nearly (ALL BUT); 6D: "Surprised By Joy" autobiographer C.S. (LEWIS); 7D: Ode writers (POETS); 8D: Put-__: pranks (ONS); 9D: Talk smack to (DIS); 10D: Not broken (INTACT); 11D: Step in a flight (STAIR); 13D: Colony dweller (ANT); 14D: "It is so" ("YES"); 19D: Breadwinner (EARNER); 26D: Build up spiritually (EDIFY); 27D: Lounge, as on a chaise (LOLL); 28D: Easter bloom (LILY); 29D: "__ is me!" (WOE); 30D: Greek vowel (ETA); 36D: Condemns verbally (SLAMS); 37D: Quaint lodgings (INNS); 39D: Univ. recruiter (ROTC); 41D: Cell with an axon (NEURON); 42D: Antlered critter (ELK); 43D: Sheltered side (LEE); 44D: 1985 multi-venue charity concert for Ethiopian famine (LIVE-AID); 48D: Portuguese lady (SENHORA); 50D: Stir up (INCITE); 51D: British Honduras, now (BELIZE); 52D: __ jar: static electricity storage device (LEYDEN); 54D: Imam's faith (ISLAM); 55D: Beach footwear (THONG); 56D: Prize name (NOBEL); 62D: Egg cells (OVA); 63D: Dusk, to 7-Down (E'EN); 64D: Brazilian hot spot (RIO); 65D: Some inkjets (HP'S).