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Oct 31, 2009

Saturday October 31, 2009 Samuel A. Donaldson

Theme: None

Total words: 68

Total blocks: 30

This puzzle is noticeable for its lack of 3-letter answers. Only 2. Nice stacked 9's in the upper left and lower right. My favorite today are the two scrabbly long Downs: TAKES A JOKE (11D. Tolerates teasing gracefully) and FOURSQUARE (27D. Unwavering). Awesome!

There is no A-LOP (25D. Crooked) in my dictionary, but I do remember someone found the definition somewhere last time when it appeared in our old puzzle.

An easier puzzle than I had expected. The abundance of plural S suffixes and fill-in-the-blank entries sure helped. Still had to cheat though.

Across:

1. War and more: CARD GAMES. Wanted CONFLICTS.

10. R.E.M. vocalist Michael: STIPE. Does it rhyme with stripe?

15. Strain: OVEREXERT. Came to me immediately. Nice entry.

16. Turkic inhabitant of Russia: TATAR. Was just clued as "Golden Horde member" yesterday.

17. Place with trays: CAFETERIA

18. Director Kurosawa: AKIRA. Probably best known for "Seven Samurai". Akira means bright/intelligent in Japanese, identical to Chinese character Ming (as in Yao Ming).

19. Aide's job: ASSISTING

20. Doctor's orders: TESTS. Mindlessly wrote down STATS.

21. Rolls on the lawn: SOD. Rolls here is a noun.

22. Hard to nail down: ELUSIVE. Like the first major title for Sergio Garcia.

24. Social blunder: GAFFE. And "Fish hook" is GAFF, without E.

28. Eritrea's capital: ASMARA. Man, I can never remember this capital name. I am surprised they speak Arabic rather than French there.

30. Ness et al.: ELIOTS. The most famous T-man.

32. Cosmetic surgeries: NOSE JOBS. Seed entry, Sam?

36. Vegan entrée: TOFU. Cantonese. Mandarin is doufu.

37. Imported cheeses: EDAMS. Dutch cheeses.

39. Cajun pod: OKRA. Stir-fried fresh okra is very tasty.

40. Sherry, often: APERITIF. By the way, do you use normal sherry for cooking or it has to be cooking sherry?

42. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show costar: OAKLEY (Annie). I was not familiar with the show. Wikipedia says it formed in 1883 and lasted until 1913.

44. Grab before someone else does: SNAP UP

46. It merged with Kmart in 2005: SEARS. I was shocked when it happened. I thought Kmart was still struggling with bankruptcy.

47. Film that's out of order? PREQUEL. Is "Angels and Demons" prequel or sequel to "The Da Vinci Code"?

50. PC panic button: ESC

52. Mammal of Madagascar: LEMUR. Alliteration.

53. Seeking advancement at any cost: ON THE MAKE. New idiom to me.

60. Eastern Canadian province grouping, with "the": MARITIMES. Consist of three provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Unknown to me.

61. Saltpeter, to a Brit: NITRE. Niter to us.

62. Smithsonian collection: AMERICANA

64. Nielsen ratings subjects: TELECASTS

Down:

1. Caesar's partner Imogene: COCA. Strange name.

3. Court call makers: REFS. Basketball/tennis court. I was thinking of judge's court.

4. Cologne crowd?: DREI. German for "three".

5. Prepares: GETS SET. Wrote down READIES first.

7. Yucatán's capital: MERIDA. No idea. I peeked at the cheat sheet. Tough crossing with ASMARA.

9. Child actor's chauffeur?: STAGE MOM

10. Height: STATURE

12. Formal answer to "Who's there?": IT IS I

13. End of a pentamerous serial: PART V. Penta is prefix for "five".

23. Will Rogers prop: LASSO

26. High wind: FIFE. Liked the clue.

29. Messy situation: SNAFU. It stands for Situation Normal All F****ed Up.

31. Hairlike parts, such as those that help geckos cling to walls: SETAE. Stumper. I am used to the simple "stiff hairs" clue. Geckos have a million foot hairs (SETAE)?

33. St. with counties named Comanche and Choctaw: OKLA. Easy guess. What's so special about those two counties besides the C start?

34. Uncle Remus's __ Fox: BR'ER

38. One with immunity: DIPLOMAT

41. Buried: INURNED. I only know inter. Easy to remember though: in + urn.

43. One leading a spartan lifestyle: ASCETIC. How do you define a hedonist? One leading a what lifestyle? Decadent?

45. Marine bird: PETREL. Here is one petrel soaring with wings wide.

49. Cry on cue, say: EMOTE

51. U.S.: county :: U.K. : __: SHIRE

55. Flaky mineral: MICA

56. Latin 101 verb: AMAS. Amo, AMAS, amat.

57. Colleague of Lane and Olsen: KENT. "Superman".

58. Those, to Teresa: ESAS. Or ESOS. ESA/ESO = "That".

Answer grid.

C.C.

Oct 30, 2009

Friday October 30, 2009 Dan Naddor

Theme: Jump the Q - The Q (k) sound is dropped from each QU (kw) starting familiar phrases/name.

17A. Drones losing their pep?: WILTING BEES. Quilting Bee. "Losing their pep" = WILTING.

23A. Train former senator Dole to do without?: WEAN ELIZABETH. Queen Elizabeth. "Train to do without" = WEAN. Elizabeth Dole served as North Carolina's Senator from 2003 to 2009.

33A. The first indication that I had one too many last night?: WAKING IN MY BOOTS. Quaking in My Boots. Conjured up such a vivid drunken image.

48. Earp in a stage show?: WYATT ON THE SET. Quiet on the Set. Wyatt Earp is the O.K. figure who appears in our puzzle often.

56. Skater Katarina enjoying a Camel?: WITT SMOKING. Quit Smoking. Katarina Witt is a German figure skater. Unknown to me.

Today's Dan Naddor Index (non-theme entries with 6 or more letters) is 22, the highest since I started tracking. Four of the Down answers intersect three theme answers. Neat.

Quite a scrabbly puzzle too, with two J's, 1 Z and four K's.

How was your solving experience today? When did you cotton on to the theme?

Across:

1. Tubular chocolate snack: HOHO. The Hostess snack. Sweet start for our Santa Argyle.

5. Like secret rituals: ARCANE

11. Tube top: CAP. Of course I was thinking of the shirt Tube Top.

16. Actor Vigoda: ABE. Still alive.

19. a.k.a., in corporate-speak: DBA (Doing Business As)

20. Kenan's comedy partner: KEL. Nickelodeon's "Kenan & Kel". I simply forgot.

21. Baltic capital: RIGA. Capital of Latvia. "European capital" would be a tougher clue, with 5 possibilities (Rome, Riga, Oslo, Kiev & Bern) as mentioned by Rich Norris last time.

22. __-Z: high-performance Camaro: IROC. I just remember it as I rock.

28. More than fortunate: BLESSED. Thought the answer might be an ER ending word.

30. Grandeur: MAJESTY. Liked this fresh fill.

31. Brand of bubbly: MOET. Moet & Chandon champagne.

40. Tongue and liver: MEATS. Organs too, of course.

41. Genetic molecules: RNAS. Always have to wobble between RNA/DNA.

42. As you like it: TO TASTE. Good play on "As You Like It".

45. Lydian king known for his wealth: CROESUS (KREE-suhs). No idea. How did he obtain his wealth? I could only think of the golden touch king Midas.

50. Man or Mull: ISLE. Alliteration.

52. Shad delicacy: ROE. Have you tried Ikura (salmon roe)?

55. Pontiac muscle car: GTO. And BMW (28D. Mercedes rival). Car Talk.

60. Grant, e.g.: Abbr.: GEN. D'oh, Ulysses S. Grant. I was thinking of the research money grant.

61. Do the Wright thing?: AVIATE. Nice play on "Do the right thing". And SSS (39D. Frying sound).

62. Swedish furniture chain: IKEA. I've yet to try their food.

63. Sentence units: Abbr.: YRS. Prison sentences.

65. One with a list: DEAN. Dean's List. Great clue.

Down:

1. Peddle: HAWK

2. Theater award: OBIE. Given by The Village Voice. The intersecting ABET (14A: Support, in a criminal way) prevented me from considering TONY.

3. College hazing period: HELL WEEK. New term to me. We don't have hazing ritual in China.

4. 1940s Giants manager Mel: OTT. Man, I did not know he managed the Giants. Always thought of him as a player.

5. When many shops open: AT NINE

6. Fixed: RIGGED. As an election. I was in the "Repaired" direction.

7. Conspiracy: CABAL. Same root with cabala.

9. Dundee denial: NAE. Another alliteration.

11. Elite training squads: CADRES

12. "Who's on First?" straight man: ABBOTT. Abbott and Costello.

13. "Great!": PEACHY

18. Nest egg components, for short: IRAS

22. Start of a rule that keeps you from spelling weirdly?: I BEFORE E. Nailed it.

24. Ballpark figure: ESTIMATE. Nice to have the complete word. We see EST too often.

25. Mosque VIP: IMAMS. The Somalian supermodel is IMAN (David Bowie's wife).

26. Madcap: ZANY

27. "This is __ for Superman!": A JOB. I really don't remember seeing a more scrabblier Dan Naddor puzzle, do you?

29. Mauna __: LOA. Or Kea. Mauna is "Mountain".

32. Brain and spinal cord: Abbr.: CNS (Central Nervous System). Not a familiar abbreviation to me.

35. Cat, south of the border: GATO. I wonder why they named Los Gatos so. Lots of cats there?

36. Santa Monica-to-Jacksonville rte. I-TEN

37. Picketing: ON STRIKE

38. 19th Greek letter: TAU. Greek T. No way I can remember the exact order of all those 24 letters in Greek alphabet.

42. Aptly named mod model: TWIGGY. Because of her thin build.

43. Pearl harborer: OYSTER. Another great clue. "Pearl producer" would be boring. Loved Ben Affleck's "Pearl Harbor".

44. Raptor's grabbers: TALONS

45. Pure: CHASTE

46. Chewed (out): REAMED

47. __ buco: OSSO. Italian for "bone".

49. Golden Horde member: TATAR. Genghis Khan divided his Mongol Empire into various color Hordes (Blue, White, etc).

53. Military service designation: ONE A

54. New York cardinal: EGAN. Cardinal Egan was succeeded by Archbishop Timothy Dolan earlier this year.

58. Actress Carrere: TIA. I forgot. Recognized her face when I googled. She is of Filipino descent. Born in Honolulu.

59. Tease: KID. Wrote down RIB first.

Do read Don Gagliardo's replies to the questions raised at the Comments section yesterday. Don will have completed a Monday to Sunday LAT circle when his Sunday puzzle is published next time.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Q & A with Don Gagliardo

Don Gagliardo has provided answers to all of our questions regarding his SHOE BOX puzzle and other crossword related queries. Hope you find them informative. Thank you so much, Don.

Questions from C.C.: How to pronounce Gagliardo? Is the second G hard?

When my wife decided to take on my last name, my father sent a one page dissertation on how to pronounce it. He was dismayed in his later years that I could not pronounce it, and I blame him partly because he Americanized it when we eight children were growing up. The easiest explanation is to think of the opera Pagliacci. Listen to someone who sings Italian opera. Yes, the second G is silent, but not really. It is part of the diphthong, GLIA, which means "lion". Our name has connections to Gallahad, according to my father.

What kind of music do you listen while constructing crossword? Or do you prefer total silence?

It is funny that I have never thought about playing music while I construct puzzles, even though I am such a music lover. I suppose that I prefer silence. Sometimes it helps to listen to the words in my head when I am filling a grid or composing clues. Music would distract that.

Is it wrong to say "I like some of the long Down fills (rather than fill) today"? I noticed constructors use singular "fill" when they refer several or the whole non-theme entries.

I have always heard or read "fill" in the singular, even though it may imply many. You can talk about several down answers, and I don't think constructors even refer to "down fill" (unless they're talking about pillows). When the term "fill" is used, I think it is really just talking about all of the non-theme entries that go into a puzzle. At least that is the way I have read it.

From MJ: In yesterday's Barry Silk puzzle, I noticed many clues referencing cities and states. (Seven total if you count 30D Riyadh resident.) Would this be considered a sub-theme? If not, what constitutes a sub-theme?

Hello MJ,

The only sort of sub-theme that usually happens in puzzles is two or three clues that have some common connection. For me, it happens only because I see an opportunity and act on it. I don't know what other constructors do, so you would have to ask them. I think it would be very difficult to come up with a significant number of secondary theme answers. Sometimes it is nearly impossible to just get the primary theme answers to work out. I did notice all those cities, especially when two of them crossed (ST. JOE and TULSA). I'll go out on a limb and say that it probably was not Barry's intention to create a sub-theme. We should also remember that if there is such a thing as a sub-theme, it would have to be as strictly consistent as a puzzle theme. So in this case, we have a state and a foreign resident thrown into the mix, so it doesn't work as a consistent theme. Did you happen to notice the word SHOE in the bottom center, presaging today's puzzle? He couldn't have planned that!

From Carl: Why do you only contribute to LA Times?

Hello Carl,

It is true that my puzzles have appeared only in the LA Times. When I first started puzzle construction, I noticed that I was really enjoying the editing of the LA Times puzzles. I thought I would send a puzzle to Rich. Even though I was a newbie, he gave me great feedback and encouragement despite rejecting my puzzle. I feel as if I have been a student since that time and still have much to learn. Rich is very patient and has a great deal of insight as to what will go over well with solvers. I am staying busy enough trying to keep up with him. I am delighted to report that I will have a puzzle published in The Crosswords Club some time soon, which is a new venture. It does help that Rich edits that publication as well.

From Lisa (Ingersoll, Ontario, whose paper only carries LAT Sunday): When will you construct a Sunday puzzle? I loved your Alfred Hitchcock.

Hello Lisa,

Thanks for the compliment on the Hitchcock puzzle. A lot of luck went into making that one work. I have just had one LA Times Sunday puzzle accepted for publication, and have another that is accepted as a work in progress. That means it is probably four to five months away from publication, I am guessing. If you read the response to Carl, I will have a Sunday-sized puzzle in the Crosswords Club in the near future. Sunday puzzles are really quite a different animal. I didn't have crossword constructing software until this past summer, and it has made quite a difference. On the small scale, I could easily do daily puzzles with paper and pencil. But doing a Sunday puzzle was mind-boggling. I don't know how constructors kept their sanity before computers came along. Now that I have the software, it gives me the kind of vision that I need to set up a grid. I would like to do more Sunday puzzles because I enjoy the challenge that they present. They really are more difficult to construct than a daily, at least so far in my experience.

From Anon @ 1:38pm: Is EEEE arrangement intentional?

Hello Anon @ 1:38 PM,

I did not notice that there is an E in each corner of the puzzle! What was intentional, and explains this coincidence, is that I made the pattern of SHOE vary in each corner. The letters appear counter-clockwise, and the pattern changes one letter at a time as one proceeds in a counter-clockwise direction around the puzzle. It could just as easily have been an S, H, or O in each corner.

Oct 29, 2009

Thursday October 29, 2009 Don Gagliardo

Theme: Shoe Store - The end of each theme phrase is a type of shoes. And each four-square corner has a box of S H O E (arranged in counterclockwise pattern and the rotation is changed one space at a time). I've circled the four SHOE BOX in the answer grid.

17A. Kitchen backups: SINK CLOGS. Clogs have thick wood or rubber soles.

31A. North Carolina team: TAR HEELS. Heels over 3.5 inches are considered high-heeled.

40A. Container for the end of 17-, 31-, 47 or 64-Across; there's a literal one in each four-square puzzle corner: SHOE BOX. Brilliant tie-in answer and great shoe box design.

47A. Octane rating sites: GAS PUMPS. Pumps are low-cut heeled shoes without fastenings.

64A. Bonneville Speedway feature: SALT FLATS. Flats have no heels.

And our big shoe buddy E E E E in each corner. Impressive grid, isn't it?

Below are some notes kindly provided by today's constructor Don "Hard G" Gagliardo on the inspiration of the puzzle. Let's have a Q & A Session with Don today. If you have any question regarding today's puzzle, or crossword construction as a whole (I am sure my interviews with different constructors did not fully cover what you've been curious about crossword puzzles), or you'd like Don to know what kind of theme/fill excite or rankle you, please click the Comments at the end of this blog post. Write down your name and your questions/comments. I'll publish a post with Don's answers tomorrow.

I'll start with mine: 1) How to pronounce Gagliardo? Is the second G hard? 2) What kind of music do you listen while constructing crossword? Or do you prefer total silence? 3) Is it wrong to say "I like some of the long Down fills (rather than fill) today"? I noticed constructors use singular "fill" when they refer several or the whole non-theme entries.

Notes from Don:

“Shoe Box” was inspired by Barbara, my wife. She just loves shoes, so I wanted to do something with them. My first idea was to have the entry SHOETREE come down the middle of the puzzle with different kinds of shoes “hanging” off of it. That didn’t work. The next idea was to find phrases with different kinds of shoes that appear in different connotations. To tie it together, I thought that since shoes come in a shoe box, SHOEBOX could appear in the center across answer. Then to take it even one more step, I realized that a shoe box could be a group of letters in the shape of a box composed of the letters S H O E. Perhaps I could stick them in the corners away from everything else where I might get lucky and work them into the puzzle. This is always asking for trouble, trying to get more theme into the puzzle grid. I figured the payoff was high enough that it would compensate for a fill that could be much better. When my first version was not up to snuff, Rich suggested that I make the SHOE box in the corner readable clockwise or counterclockwise. Rich also helped me decide on a different theme answer that would work better in the grid. I went with the counterclockwise pattern for S H O E, and by pure luck I was able to get four different versions of the S H O E box being in different arrangements, and changing rotation one space at a time as one views in a counterclockwise direction.

Across:

1. Dawn goddess: EOS. The Greek goddess. Aurara for the Romans.

4. Starbucks flavor: MOCHA. My husband loves Crème brûlée flavored coffee.

9. Bring about: CAUSE

14. "__ 'nuff!": SHO. Sho'nuff is a slang for "sure enough". Unknown to me.

15. Saint associated with the Russian alphabet: CYRIL. Hence Cyrillic.

16. Weed B Gon maker: ORTHO. No chemical spray in our garden.

19. Took to jail: RAN IN

20. Alley Oop's girl: OOOLA. I misremembered as OOONA.

23. Minnesota twins?: ENS. Two letter N's in Minnesota.

24. Snootiness: AIRS. Wrote down BIAS first.

26. Great server: ACER. Tennis. Crosswordese.

28. Island big shot: KAHUNA (kuh-HOO-nuh). A native medicine man or priest in Hawaii. Have vaguely heard of it.

35. Grassy tracts: LEAS. Sounds so idyllic.

36. Illustrator Silverstein: SHEL. He wrote and illustrated "The Giving Tree"

38. Rub the wrong away: ERASE. Did you misread the clue as "Rub the wrong way" also?

42. Veep before Al: DAN (Quayle). "For NASA, space is still a high priority." So many funny quotes from him.

43. Put into law: ENACT

45. Bridge expert Sharif: OMAR. He does not play bridge any more.

46. Clears after taxes: NETS

49. Widely separated: SPARSE

51. Opposite of away: HOME. 'OME in Cockney.

52. Part of a yard: FOOT. Such a straightforward clue.

53. Prefix with meter: ODO. And another prefix SONO (3D. Prefix with gram).

55. Astronomer Tycho __: BRAHE (Brah). His name escape me. I did recognize his mustache when I googled.

58. Western border lake: TAHOE

62. Demolish: TOTAL

66. Chicago hub: OHARE. Named after WWII flying ace Butch O'Hare.

67. Tours ta-ta: ADIEU. And MER (48D. Sea, to Sartre). Noticed the alliterations in both clues?

68. ALers who don't play the field: DHS (Designated Hitters)

69. Adlai's running mate: ESTES (Kefauver). Given name in the clue, given name in the answer.

70. Computer image dot: PIXEL

71. Manager Torre: JOE. Current manager for the LA Dodgers. He's probably very happy that Yankees lost last night.

Down:

1. Gas sign north of the border: ESSO. It's only replaced by Exxon in the US.

2. Columbus's home: OHIO. I wonder how many cities in the US are named Columbus.

4. Obama's opponent: MCCAIN. I like this "opponent" rather than "Loser to Obama" clue.

5. Skinny Olive: OYL

6. Interbreed: CROSS

7. Word with five or noon: HIGH. "High Noon" is Bill Clinton's favorite movie.

9. General Mills cereal: CORN CHEX. It's not gluten-free. RICE CHEX is.

10. Heavenly altar: ARA (EY-ruh). Latin for "altar".

11. Eclectic bimonthly digest: UTNE READER. Nice to see the full name.

12. __ guard: bit of catchers' gear: SHIN

13. Tons of time: EONS

18. Actor Kinski: KLAUS. Completely unknown to me. German actor. He looks so cold.

25. Itch source: RASH

27. Musket end?: EER. Musketeer. Would be a great clue for TEE too, isn't it? The last letter of musket is T.

28. __ light: filmmaking arc lamp: KLIEG

29. WellPoint rival: AETNA. Named after the volcano ETNA.

30. Is in the running for: HAS A SHOT AT. Did the answer come to you immediately?

32. Jessica of "Dark Angel": ALBA. Wardrobe malfunction? By the way, have you tried ALBA coca butter lotion? It smells so good.

33. Exams for future litigators, briefly: LSATS (Law School Admission Tests)

40. Trips: STUMBLES. Verb.

41. Thereabouts: OR SO

44. USN noncom: CPO (Chief Petty Officer). Not a familiar abbreviation to me.

50. Amount of soup on the stove: POTFUL

52. Cartoon cat: FELIX. Felix the Cat.

53. Oklahoma tribe: OTOE. UTE too.

54. Outbursts from Homer: D'OHS

56. "Stat!" cousin: ASAP

57. "__ only known!": HAD I

59. Meccan pilgrimage: HADJ. Or HAJJ. Mecca pilgrimage hajj. And the person who has been to Mecca is called HADJI or HAJJI.

60. First century Roman emperor: OTHO. He was emperor for only three months.

61. Latin being: ESSE

65. Top with a slogan: TEE. Saw similar clue before. Still loved the clue.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Oct 28, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 Barry Silk

Theme: "Knot Bad" - The first word of each theme entry is a type of knot.

17A: Life insurance clause: DOUBLE INDEMNITY

25A: Hoedown activity: SQUARE DANCE

43A: Apple variety: GRANNY SMITH

54A: Inadvertent remark: SLIP OF THE TONGUE

62A: 17-, 25-, 43- and 54-Across begin with a kind of one: KNOT

Happy Santa here, great week so far; Jerome, Fred, and now, Barry. As soon as I saw the clue for ON US (3D: "We're treating"), I knew right then we were in for a treat.

Knotty pangram, all 26 letters are used at least once, typical of Barry's creation. Quite a few refreshing clues too.

This puzzle is reminiscent of John Underwood's "KNOT" puzzle we had last February. Wayne R. Williams changed John's unifying KNOT clue into "Tie tie" and the theme was missed by many.

Across:

1A: Run smoothly: FLOW.

5A: Uzi filler: AMMO. Uzi is the Israeli assault rifle. (Update: Anonymous @ 11:23 AM correctly stated that the Uzi is sub machine gun. The assault rifle is the Galil. One of the main differences is in the AMMO they use, with the sub machine guns using pistol calibers, while the assault weapons use a larger round.)

9A: Bench warmers aren't on it: A TEAM.

14A: Excellent: A ONE. Like Barry's puzzle.

15A: Known as "the Impaler," prince who inspired "Dracula": VLAD. Not exactly what the little trick-or-treaters would look like.

16A: American competitor: DELTA. Airlines. Delta now owns Northwest, who rightfully revoked the licenses of the two pilots who overshot the Minneapolis Airport by 150 miles. Laptop distraction! Just what were they surfing?

20A: Printers' widths: EMS. Or ENS.

21A: A deadly sin: ENVY.

22A: Posh: RITZY. After the Ritz hotels, established by César Ritz (1850-1918), Swiss hotelier. You won't find rooms like this at Motel 6.

23A: Neurologist's test, briefly: EEG. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that measures and records the electrical activity of your brain.

24A: Publicizes: AIRS

30A: Poor, as an excuse: SAD. As in, "Those old puzzles were a SAD excuse for crosswords."

33A: Second most populous Oklahoma city: TULSA. Oklahoma City is number one.

35A: Marquis de __: SADE. Sadism is derived from his name.

36A: Youngest of the musical Jacksons: JANET. Her sister La Toya has said that the King of Pop’s ghost has been visiting the family dressed in the white pearl beads he wore in the coffin.

37A: Golfer's concern: LIE. The lies on the course aren't as big as the lies in the locker room.

38A: Mass of grass: CLUMP. Rhyming clue. And the answer also rhymes with the intersecting SLUMP ( 35D: Batter's dry spell).

39A: Vocalized: ORAL. Adjective.

40A: Defendant's answer: PLEA.

41A: Accountant's review: AUDIT.

46A: BMOC, for one: VIP. BMOC is Big Man on Campus.

47A: Washington neighbor: IDAHO.

49A: Yoked beasts: OXEN.

51A: Psychic's asset, for short: ESP.

57A: Common news hr.: TEN PM.

58A: "I'd advise against it": DON'T. Even Elvis agrees.

59A: Brand with a paw print in its logo: IAMS. Pet food brand. Was it a gimme to you?

60A: Bears, in Latin: URSAE. And 27D: Radii neighbors: ULNAE. Both the plural end with E rather than S.

61A: Pump or loafer: SHOE.

Down:

2D: Weaver's machine: LOOM.

4D: Surfing area with no water, with "the": WEB. Did anyone try NET first?

5D: Get even for: AVENGE.

6D: LXII x XVII: MLIV. 62 x17=1054.

9D: Regard highly: ADMIRE.

10D: Portable shelters: TENTS.

11D: Part of QE2: Abbr.: ELIZ. Queen Elizabeth 2 in the harbour, Sydney, Australia.

12D: ABA member: ATTY. Abbreviation in clue, abbreviation in answer.

13D: Perhaps will: MAY.

18D: Ogle: LEER AT. Ogle is often clued as "Leer at".

19D: "Fear of Flying" author Jong: ERICA. She blogs for The Huffington Post.

23D: Painter's stand: EASEL.

24D: Like llamas: ANDEAN. Two-l llama, he's a beast.

25D: Missouri city nickname: ST. JOE. Saint Joseph (informally, St. Joe) is the largest city in Northwest Missouri, serving as the county seat for Buchanan County.

26D: Fundamental particle: QUARK. (An aside to WM: I finally got some quark but ate it before I made any cheesecake with it.)

28D: City in which the State Fair of Texas is held annually: DALLAS.

30D: Riyadh resident: SAUDI. Their currency is Riyal.

31D: Fess up: ADMIT.

32D: Pool measurement: DEPTH. Lots of consonants.

38D: Vegas attraction: CASINO.

40D: Evidence: PROOF.

43D: End a vacation, say: GO HOME.

44D: Mimieux of "The Time Machine": YVETTE. "It's those darn trick-or-treaters again, Honey. What do they want this time?"

45D: Mothers of Invention musician: ZAPPA (Frank)

47D: Robert of "The Sopranos": ILER.

50D: Strange: Pref.: XENO. It also means ALIEN (29D: Out of this world).

51D: Alaska's first governor: EGAN. It's clued as "Magnet and Steel" singer Walter in Barry's Sept 20, 2008 puzzle. (from C.C.'s write-up on Saturday September 20, 2008)

54D: Early Beatle Sutcliffe: STU. He died from a brain hemorrhage and contrary to rumors, he was a good bass player.

55D: NFL six-pointers: TDS.

56D: Ending with beat: NIK. Beatnik.

Answer grid.

C.C. will be back blogging tomorrow morning.

Argyle

Oct 27, 2009

Tuesday October 27, 2009 Fred Jackson III

Theme: How Many Ways Can You Say "Buy" Without Spending Money? - The first words/syllable of the four theme answers are homophones.

20A. Furthermore: BY THE SAME TOKEN

33A. 1961 Tony-winning musical inspired by Elvis being drafted: BYE BYE BIRDIE

43A. 7/4/1976 celebration: BICENTENNIAL

59A. Retail store financing come-on: BUY NOW, PAY LATER

Hello all, Boomer here. I wish I could buy now and pay later with tokens.

I never saw "Bye, Bye, Birdie", but I do remember the Bicentennial very well. The US issued special quarters that year and I got ten rolls at the bank and put them away as an investment. They are now worth 25 cents each, but you can't get as much for a quarter as you could in 1976. I remember spending the day at a Minnesota Twins double header, outdoors at Metropolitan Stadium. Outdoor MLB is returning to the land of 10,000 lakes next spring.

I am not the best puzzle solver. I got about 80% of this one before I needed help. But I didn't need help with bowling last night. 665 is a good score for an old guy, and today I looked at my driver's license and Damn! I'm a year older! I'm the same age as Hillary Clinton, not as famous but my cheeks aren't as chubby. Have fun with today's puzzle.

Across:

1. One-person boat: SKIFF. My first error. I wanted to put Kayak.

6. College athlete: JOCK . The Gophers could use a few more.

10. Mouse catcher: TRAP. Build a better one and the world will make a path to your door, but who wants the world at their door anyway?

14. China's Zhou __: EN LAI. C.C. knows him better than I; Alternate answer would be QIN. C.C.'s Mandarin name is Zhouqin, but it doesn't have enough letters.

15. Clickable symbol: ICON

16. Compete in a meet: RACE. We are all in this rat race together, some day we may meet.

17. Ghostly noises: MOANS. Halloween is coming. I prefer BOOS. For the Yankees of course.

18. "Let It __": Everly Brothers hit: BE ME. " I blessed the day I found you, I want to stay around you, now and forever ..."

19. Peruvian empire builder: INCA. The Empire Builder was a train. The Incas didn't build it. It came later.

23. Barbary ape's cont.: AFR

24. Necklace clasp resting place: NAPE. If you don't get it fastened correctly, it could rest on the floor.

25. Baton Rouge sch.: LSU. Home of the Fighting Tigers. Shaq's alma mater by the way.

29. Coastal inlet: RIA. Crossword river inlet.

31. Take to the clink: ARREST. Clink is slang for "jail". It's never fun. Think before you drink.

37. Rig on the road: SEMI. To me, semi always meant half or partial. Why they call the big trucks semis, I'll never know.

38. John, to Ringo?: LOO - I can't figure this out. Is LOO an English word for bathroom?

39. Trivial, as chatter: IDLE - If it's your brain, it's the devil's playground, trouble in River City.

48. Debonair: RAKISH. Never heard of this word. I thought it's what you do to your leavish on the lawnish in the fallish.

51. Dr.'s group, maybe: HMO. Maybe History Moves Over if the health care bill passes.

52. Adobe file format: PDF. Yeah I've heard of it, but I don't know what PDF stands for.

53. Cockney's main Web page?. 'OME (Home). Never heard of this. (From C.C.: Cockney is in the East End of London where the letter H is dropped in local dialect.)

54. Bears or Cubs: TEAM. And not very good ones recently.

57. Suffix with Israel: ITE. Israelite.

64. Rick's love in "Casablanca": ILSA. Funny how some old movies are Classics.

65. Mayberry moppet: OPIE. Ronnie Howard, now aged director Ron Howard. Famous as Opie and Richie Cunningham of "Happy Days." But do you remember him waiting for the Wells Fargo Wagon in "The Music Man"?

66. Con game: BUNCO. "Dragnet" Sergeant Friday frequently worked the Bunco Squad out of Los Angeles.

68. Nuremberg no: NEIN. Their "yes" is JA.

69. Elbow-joint bone: ULNA. When you get old, a little Cryogel on the ulna helps your bowling.

70. Embodiment of perfection: IDEAL. They make wonderful Toys. Also quality electrical products. Fish tapes, wire-nuts, and Yellow 77 elephant snot.

72. Ball-bearing gadgets?: TEES. Golf ball. Use only wooden tees. Plastic mars your driver.

73. Short-winded: TERSE

Down:

1. Divinity sch.: SEM. Short for Seminary. Best one I've seen is in Clyde, MO.

2. Drawer projection: KNOB. I might have said door handle.

3. "Now __ me down ...": I LAY

4. Classic orange soda: FANTA. I had CRUSH in there first.

5. Seafood cookout: FISH FRY. The best fish fries are Sunfish, Crappies, Walleye, and Northern Pike from Minnesota lakes. But they are lake food, not seafood.

6. Triangular sails: JIBS

7. Blue part of a map: OCEAN. Unless you spill a bottle of ink on your atlas.

8. Cause for a pause: COMMA. Well, I suppose, this, could be true, maybe. Rhyming sounds good.

9. Patella protector: KNEE PAD - Got me again. I put kneecap - then I realized your kneecap is a patella.

10. The Dixie Chicks, e.g.: TRIO - One of George W's favorite groups, or not.

11. Fester in one's mind: RANKLE. Sometimes crosswords rankle me.

12. Way to get in: ACCESS. Unless you're going to weight watchers. Then you have to weigh to get in.

13. Planters logo Mr. __: PEANUT. A marketing Icon. More famous than a Gecko.

21. Buffalo-to-Albany canal: ERIE. I don't think I've seen a puzzle yet that doesn't have ERIE in it somewhere.

22. Actress Garr: TERI. Another common puzzle staple.

26. Air rifle ammo: BBS. Most are plastic now. Like everything else.

27. Needle feature: EYE. Keep your eyes peeled for needles in the haystack.

32. Coachman's control: REIN. Okay, but aren't they usually called reins?

34. Netanyahu of Israel, familiarly: BIBI. Benjamin Netanyahu's nickname. Über-hawk.

35. Particle with a charge: ION. There are eons of crossword puzzles with ION.

36. Philip who wrote the Zuckerman novels: ROTH. Does he have an IRA?

40. Chip go-with: DIP. Don't let the dip slip off the chip and onto your lip. Chips are not that healthy. The only chips I have now are short golf shots.

44. Analogy words: IS TO

45. Give a tongue-lashing: CHEW OUT. See above clues. This is also how a mouse will sometimes gain ACCESS out of a TRAP.

46. Runner Zátopek: EMIL. Emil was a common name 100 years ago. I don't know of any now.

47. Cooperative response to "Do you mind?": NOT A BIT. Maybe it's cooperative, but if Sister Mary Margaret asks you to mind, better not say "no" or you'll be standing in the corner until lunch.

48. Spring chirpers: ROBINS. Robins are the first sign of Spring. The second sign is when there's less than four inches of snow on your lawn.

49. Lucky charm: AMULET. Whatever happened to four leaf clovers and rabbits' feet.

50. Enters, as data: KEYS IN

55. William Tell's target: APPLE. Was it a Honeycrisp? Granny Smith? Fuji?

56. Largest New England state: MAINE

58. Piano exercise: ETUDE. I've never heard of this. I remember EGBDF. Which were the keys you had to put your fingers on.

60. Indian breads: NANS. Served in the Cleveland clubhouse after a game?

61. Supporting votes: YEAS. Also World Series cheers for the Phillies.

62. Cabinet dept. with a lightning bolt on its seal: ENER. Maybe they could change it to a wind turbine.

63. Some HDTVs: RCAS. Okay, but what was the name of the dog listening to the megaphone speaker on the Victrola again?

67. Corrida shout: OLE. Are they cheering for the matador, the bull, or are they really saying Oh Lays, and shouting for more chips for their dip?

Answer grid.

Boomer

Note from C.C.: Happy Birthday, Boomer!

Oct 26, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009 Jerome Gunderson

Theme: An Arnold Catch Phrase - "I'll Be Back" (The first words of 17-, 34- and 39-Across)

17A: Hymn whose title follows the line "When I die, Hallelujah, by and by": I'LL FLY AWAY.

34A: Scout's motto: BE PREPARED.

39A: How duelists begin: BACK TO BACK.

56A: With "The," Schwarzenegger film released 10/26/1984, and a hint to the puzzle theme found in the first words of 17-, 34- and 39-Across: TERMINATOR.

Nice 25th anniversary tribute puzzle.

Funny thing: In the first film he was the bad guy but when he came 'BACK', he was the good guy.

Argyle here. If you notice I didn't weed out the easy clue/answers, it is because I want to see what Lois can do with them.

Across:

1A: Highway hauler: SEMI.

5A: Cut off: SEVER.

10A: "__ Silver, away!": HI-YO. Sheesh! I always thought it was HI-HO SILVER.

14A: Gas in a sign: NEON

15A:. Utah city: PROVO. Above the A in UTAH.

16A: Sign of the future: OMEN.

19A: Fill to excess: SATE.

20A: "Cats" poet: T. S. Eliot . "Dare I eat a peach" 47D: Like ripe peaches: JUICY.

21A: Gum arabic tree: ACACIA. A striking tree. And 61A: "Star Trek: T.N.G." counselor Deanna: TROI. A striking woman and she is an empath so watch what you're thinking around her.

24A: Traffic cone: PYLON.

26A: Knight's lady: DAME.

28A: Slimy stuff: GOO.

29A: Relative known for quitting?: UNCLE. Making your opponent in a fight cry, "UNCLE", means they give up. Is STOWE clue (37D: Uncle Tom's creator) your original, Jerome?

33A: Run the country: RULE.

37A: Air ace's missions: SORTIES.

41A: Baseball stats: RBIS.

42A: "Old MacDonald" refrain: EIEIO.

43A: Rile up: IRK.

44A: Ado: FUSS.

45A: Resided: DWELT.

47A: Dance from Ireland: JIG.

48A: __ Tar Pits: LA BREA. We learned last time that LA BREA means "the tar" in Spanish , so it's The Pit Tar Pits.

51A: Daybreak: SUNRISE.

55A: French franc successor: EURO.

59A: Ford Explorer Sport __: TRAC. TRAC is ad-speak for TRACK.

60A: Storage room: ATTIC.

62A: Armored vehicle: TANK.

63A: Snappish: TESTY. And 1D: Grumpy mood: SNIT.

64A: Lip-__: mouth the words: SYNC.

Down:

2D: Morays, e.g.: EELS.

3D: Lawn burrower: MOLE.

4D: Arouse, as passion: INFLAME. I hardly dare combine these two. 5D: Watch covertly: SPY ON.

6D: The E in Q.E.D.: ERAT.

7D: Solemn promise: VOW.

8D: Sister of Zsa Zsa: EVA.

9D: Fit for a king: ROYAL.

10D: Biblical cry of adoration: HOSANNA.

11D: Popular Apple: IMAC. Noticed Apple is capitalized? I tried to put in iPOD; didn't work.

12D: Himalayan giant: YETI.The "Abominable Snowman" was coined in 1921.

13D: Fit to be drafted: ONE A.

22D: Political takeovers: COUPS.

24D: Kellogg's toaster pastry: POP-TART. They are facing a stiff ad campaign from Toaster Strudel.

25D: "Alas, poor __!": Hamlet: YORICK. The cemetery scene. "Alas, poor Yorick" has always been one of the most fondly remembered lines from Hamlet (or misremembered lines—Hamlet does not say "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well" but "I knew him, Horatio).

26D: Persian Gulf emirate: DUBAI. It has the world's tallest building.

27D: Wonderland girl: ALICE. Alice in her rightful place.

28D: Rodent kept as a house pet: GERBIL.

30D: Baby beds: CRIBS.

31D: Lee jeans alternative: LEVIS.

32D: Ice cream brand: EDY'S.

33D: Judge's attire: ROBE.

34D: Scarer's shout: BOO. and 35D: Scared response: EEK. Neato! Nice clue echo.

40D: Duettist with Sheryl Crow in the song "Picture": KID ROCK. The song.

41D: Toon babies of '90s-'00s TV: RUGRATS.

44D: Sawyer's friend: FINN. Tom and Huck.

46D: Frequent, as a diner: EAT AT.

48D: Riga native: LETT. A native of Latvia.

49D: Distinctive emanation: AURA.

50D: Muffin ingredient: BRAN.

51D: Infatuated, old-style: SMIT. We still use SMITTEN.

52D: "This is my best effort": I TRY.

54D: Guitarist Clapton: ERIC. "... You look wonderful tonight..." What's your favorite Eric Clapton song?

57D: Somme summer: ETE. Alliteration.

58D: Privileges: Abbr.: RTS..

Answer grid.

Argyle

Oct 25, 2009

Sunday October 25, 2009 John Lampkin

Theme: Waiting for The Great Pumpkin (12-Across) - A Jack-O-Lantern shaped Halloween puzzle.

12A. This puzzle's honoree: THE GREAT PUMPKIN. Linus sits on the pumpkin patch every Halloween night waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear. It never does.

27A. Strip where 12-Across first didn't appear in 1959: PEANUTS. Wikipedia says "In the 1959 sequence of strips in which the Great Pumpkin is first mentioned". Unknown fact to me. Peanuts debuted in Oct 1950.

43A. When 25-Down expects 12-Across to appear: HALLOWEEN

56A. Characteristic 18-Down cry regarding 12-Across: OH, GOOD GRIEF! The exclamation "Good grief" is popularized by Charlie Brown.

79A. 12-Across creator: SCHULZ (Charles). He was born and grew up here in Minnesota.

82A. Dog once mistaken for 12-Across: SNOOPY. Mistaken by whom? Linus?

102A. 25-Down maintained them annually: VIGILS. Every Halloween night.

104A. 12-Across tested 25-Down's faith by being one inevitably, every year: NO-SHOW

18D: Friend of 25-Down: CHARLIE BROWN

25D. Faithful crusader for the existence of 12-Across: LINUS VAN PELT. Charlie Brown's best friend.

The symmetrical partner of TOY PIANO (70D. Instrument seen in 27-Across) is not a theme answer, so I'll just classify it a bonus fill.

The puzzle has a left to right (rather than our normal 180 degree rotational) symmetry due to its special carved pumpkin shape. Definitely my favorite LAT Sunday since the switch. I could not imagine days or even months of hard work John Lampkin put into constructing this brilliant grid.

Two small quibbles regarding 2 clue/answer duplications:

50A. Sign made with two digits: VEE. And SIGN (1D. Coach's gesturing).

51A. Droll-sounding grain?: RYE. Sounds like "wry". And GRAIN (60D. Speck of truth).

Across:

1. Blockbusters: SMASH HITS. Very rarely did I nail a long 1A answer immediately.

10. Si and Am in "Lady and the Tramp": SIAMESE CATS. Easy guess.

16. Draw again, as comic book lines: REINK

17. Last Supper question: IS IT I

18. Genesis firstborn: CAIN. Adam was not "born".

19. Masked one at home: UMP (Umpire). Home plate.

22. Amt. due: BAL (Balance)

24. And the list goes on, briefly: ET AL

26. Hobbits' region: SHIRE. Hobbit ("The Lord of Rings") lived in the SHIRE and in Bree in the north west of Middle-earth, according to Wikipedia. Unknown to me.

29. Loaf: DOG IT. Loaf on the job.

31. Chestnut horse: ROAN. Sprinkled with gray or white.

32. LPGA golfer Johnson: TRISH. Not a well-known golfer, esp if you don't follow Solheim Cup or Ladies European Tour.

33. Hydrocarbon suffixes: ANES. See the singular ANE more often.

35. The king: Span.: EL REY. Why abbreviated Span.? And the French king ROI (94D. Palais resident).

37. Tropical roofers: THATCHERS. Oh my, "thatch" can be a verb also?

41. Puppy love: CRUSH

42. Elusive guy in a striped shirt: WALDO. "Where's Waldo?"

44. Italian Renaissance poet: TASSO (Torquato). Best known for his "Jerusalem Delivered".

45. "Exodus" hero: ARI

46. Eensy-__: WEENSY. Meaning "tiny" I suppose. Not a familiar expression to me.

48. Summer Triangle star: ALTAIR. See this diagram. The other two stars are Deneb and Vega.

52. Verb from Mark Antony: LEND. And EARS (63A. Noun from Mark Antony). "Friends, Romans, countrymen, LEND me your EARS", the first line of Mark Antony's speech in "Julius Caesar". Stumped me. John seems to be quite fond of cross-references.

53. Octopus costume features: ARMS. Octopus has eight arms.

55. Party girl?: DEB. Nice clue.

62. Mets' div.: NLE (National League East). Alas, no Phillies reference.

65. Some Protestants: LUTHERANS. Very strange, but every Lutheran friend I have tells me that I'll go to hell if I don't believe in Jesus Christ.

66. Scholastic nos.: GPAS. And LSATS (80D. Hurdles for future attys.)

67. Let fall, poetically: DROPT. Same pronunciation as "dropped", correct?

69. Opposes: NAYSAYS. And CON (78D. Not supporting). Pro and con.

70. Waste allowances: TRETS. The container weight is TARE.

71. Darkly complexioned, to Shakespeare: SWART. No idea. Archaic swarthy. Othello is SWART then.

73. Himalayan sightings: YETIS. The Abominable Snowman.

74. Picturesque fabric: TOILE. Very scenic.

75. Former name of Lake Malawi: NYASA (NYAH-sah). I don't even know where Lake Malawi is. Looks like it's shared by Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique.

77. D.C. bigwig: SEN. Sometimes it's POL.

78. Vampire's home, perhaps: CRYPT. Perhaps.

87. Show contempt for, as a villain: HISS AT

89. 11-time Olympic swimming medalist Matt: BIONDI. I forgot. This guy won seven medals (5 golds) in 1988 Seoul Olympics.

90. Scannable mdse. bars: UPC ( Universal Product Code)

93. Closer: NEARER. And AT HEEL (23D. Close behind).

95. Reagan or Kennedy: AIRPORT. President does not fit. Great clue.

97. Cupid teammate: DASHER. Santa's reindeer.

101. Ultimate purpose: END USE

103. Does a slow burn: SEETHES

Down:

2. Add a profit margin to: MARK UP

3. __ Zion Church: AME (African Methodist Episcopal). I got the answer from crossings.

6. Cool, like a cat: HEP. Or HIP.

7. Post-ER area: ICU

8. Ethnic group of southern India: TAMILS. They live in Sri Lanka too.

9. Some auto maintenance store products: STPS. The motor oil additives.

10. Paris divider: SEINE. Left Bank/Right Bank.

11. Enjoyed a cross-country jaunt?: SKIED. Great clue too.

12. Showed the ropes: TRAINED

13. Legatee: HEIR. Legatee is a new word to me.

14. "Sock __ me!" : IT TO. Not funny at all. Nixon is very respected in China though. He opened Sino-US relationship.

15. River between two Great Lakes: NIAGARA. Lake Erie & Lake Ontario.

20. Alloy components: METALS

21. To some extent: PARTLY. Does "As it were" also mean "to some extent"?

22. Nonsense, euphemistically: BUSHWA

26. Periods between vernal equinoxes: SOLAR YEARS

28. Wilhelmina's daughter in "Ugly Betty": NICO. Total unknown.

30. Form into a mosaic pattern: TESSELLATE. Also a new word to me.

31. Gave a treat for a trick, say: REWARDED. I liked the clue. Evocative of Halloween.

34. Barefoot: SHOELESS. Like Joe Jackson, who should be in the Hall of Fame.

36. Pained cry: YOWL. I often "ouch".

37. Stanley Cup org.: THE NHL

38. Colt .45, e.g.: HANDGUN. Houston Astros was named Colt. 45s before.

39. Engages, as an attorney: RETAINS

40. Some drum parts: SNARES

41. NFL snappers: CTRS

47. Fair-hiring initials: EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity). EOE is Equal-Opportunity Employer.

49. Worldwide fiscal agcy.: IMF (International Monetary Fund)

57. Our Gang affirmative: OTAY. Silly way of saying "Okay".

58. "You bet!": OH YES

59. Villa __: Italian landmark: D'ESTE. Have you been there?

61. Ocean-bottom fish: RAYS

64. Prevents littering?: SPAYS. My favorite clue today.

66. Whiny: GRIPY

68. Of the windpipe: TRACHEAL. No idea. Not familiar with the noun trachea either.

72. Summer tops: T-SHIRTS. OK, not a T-shirt, but super sexy, no? I am going to link Katrina Kaif's picture again when AREOLA appears next time.

74. Walked-on: TRODDEN

76. Smallest cont. in area: AUS. Man, I thought it's EUR.

81. Congo, once: ZAIRE

82. Yes or no emphasizer: SIREE

83. F and G, but not H: NOTES. Nice clue.

84. Being shown, in a way: ON TV. Another nice clue.

85. Classic grape soda: NEHI. Radar's drink in "M*A*S*H".

86. Puppeteer Tony who mentored Bil Baird: SARG. No idea. Wikipedia says Tony Sarg is described as "America's Puppet Master"/ "father of modern puppetry in North America".

90. "Nope": UH UH

91. Colombian coin: PESO. So many Spanish speaking countries use PESO.

92. Yacht staff: CREW

96. Idaho Panhandle hrs.: PST (Pacific Standard Time)

98. Radical '60s gp.: SDS (Students for a Democratic Society). I often confuse it with "Radical '70s gp" SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army).

Answer grid.

C.C.