May 12, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008 Allan E. Parrish

Theme: BANNING Rhymes (Famous people whose last names end with ANNING)

20A: "The Cat in the Hat" star: DAKOTA FANNING

37A: "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" singer: CAROL CHANNING

54A" Super Bowl XLI MVP: PEYTON MANNING

Happy Limerick Day everyone! I love today's puzzle, despite my ING phobia. Here are my reasons:

1) ANNING is Chinese for CALM, and CALM is clued as Tranquil (5A) in this puzzle.

2) I am happy to see NASDAQ & XANAX in one gird. Very scrabbly, though I've never heard of XANAX.

3) I like how COLONIAL intersects with CUP. Quite a few sports events are named as "COLONIAL CUP". I also like the intersections of URGENT and WHEN, NABS and BOOKED, TOGO and SOMALI.

4) The appearance of TETON and OGLER in one grid makes me laugh (TETON is a French slang for... hmm... "Milk Source").

There are also 2 computer abbreviations in today's puzzle: ISP and URL. And 2 rivals: RAGU (18A: Prega rival) and SAAB (59A: Volvo rival). And 2 racing related fills: 30D: ELLIOTT (30D: Auto racer Sadler) & LAP (31: Track circuit). And 2 Jamaica connections: KINGSTON (11D: Jamaica's largest city), ALLSPICE (38D: Jamaica pepper). Oh, by the way, MAXI Priest is of Jamaican descent too. That's how he got reggae talent in his blood I suppose. Don't you just love Bob Marley? "No woman no cry!"

ACROSS:

9A: Douglas and Ditka: MIKES. Know Douglas, not Ditka.

14A: Buck's tail: AROO. Buckaroo. Buck is always chased by AROO. For everything else, it's EROO (Switch, Smack, Smash, etc).

17A: Stirling man: SCOT. Stirling is in Central Scotland. I like this name Stir-ling.

19A: Alphrazolam brand name: XANAX. Completely unknown to me. Very intimidating clue, isn't it? I've never heard of alphrazolam. It's a drug for anxiety disorder. Why do they pick up XANAX for their trade name? This word is full of anxiety.

23A: Ms. Rogers St. Johns: ADELA. Got her today.

24A: Wings: Lat.: ALAE

28A: Proof letter: QED (Quod Erat Démōnstrandum). It was on yesterday's puzzle too.

29A: Soak flax: RET

35A: Pad: NOTEBOOK

40A: Early American style: COLONIAL. Sergio Garcia finally ended his drought yesterday at the Players' Championship. His first PGA win at COLONIAL (May 21, 2001) had a profound impact on my life. It's the first golf tournament I've ever watched.

45A: Actor Gulager: CLU. I don't know him. Pieced his name by the down clues.

60A: Entr'__: ACTE. You would not believe it, but I did fill in NOUS first. I boarded the train of Coupe de Foudre (Entre Nous) without looking carefully at the destination. What an INANE (10D: Really silly) mistake!

DOWN:

1D: Stock exchange: NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations). Shouldn't there be some words with the clue to indicate an abbreviated answer?

4D: Chihuahua drink: SOTOL. I've never heard of it. Here is a SOTOL plant. It's also called "Desert Spoon". Wikipedia says this plant "takes approximately 15 years to mature, and creates only one bottle of Sotol per plant".

5D: Irene of "Fame": CARA. Not familiar with her. I got her name from across clues.

6D: Bygone PLO Leader: ARAFAT (Yasser). What a historical opportunity he squandered at Camp David! This guy played double games all his life. Ridiculous!

8D: Hawaiian volcano: MAUNA LOA. Great to see its full name.

9D: "Close to You" singer Priest: MAXI. I don't like his "Close to you". I got an instant crush on his "That Girl" though.

21D: Florida fishes: TARPONS. Fishes? Not fish? Unknown to me. It's "a large, powerful game fish inhabiting the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean, having a compressed body and large, silvery scales." Here is a picture.

22D: Fastidious one: NEATNIK

26D: Syst. of instructions: PROG (Program). Is it an accepted abbreviation?

32D: Retiree's cash: PENSION. Goodbye Tension, Hello PENSION.

35D: Org. of Flames: NHL (National Hockey League). Good clue. And we are all WILD here in MN.

36D: Marceau character: BIP. No idea. Have never heard of "BIP the clown".

39D: Real cars: CABOOSES

47D: Foreigner hit: URGENT. I've heard of the band, not the song.

49D: Grand __ National Park: TETON. Have never been there before. But what a great name to lure visitors!

C.C.

May 11, 2008

Sunday May 11, 2008 Annabel Michaels

Theme: HEADY DOINGS

28A: Passing gossip: CHIN WAGGING

66A: M-m-m-good: MOUTH WATERING

103A: Awesome: JAW DROPPING

3D: Psychiatrist's treatment?: HEAD SHRINKING

15D: Nuzzie greeting: NOSE RUBBING

40D: Eerie: HAIR RAISING

56D: Verbal chastisement: TONGUE LASHING

66D: Maximally boring: MIND NUMBING

Here are more:

EAR SPLITTING, EYE OPENING, TEETH CLENCHING, BRAINWASHING or BRAINTEASING, LIP SYNCING, BROW LIFTING, What else?

I am of two minds on today's puzzles. I do like the "HEADY DOINGS" theme idea, but I get dizzy just looking at this inordinate amount of ING's (8, including 29D: GOING OUT). What's your opinion?

It's a bit disappointing, thought hardly surprising given this editor's poor track record in timing his puzzles, that a "Mothers' Day" theme or even a "Related to the mother's side" (ENATE) clue is no where to be seen today. You would think he could work out a TV MOMS themed puzzle to balance his TV DADS puzzle (Tuesday May 6, 2008).

And 48D: Wake of a scythe (SWATHE), no VAR mark with the clue? Did you expect me to know that SWATHE could be spelled as SWATH when it means "the scythe path"? Obviously you MISOVERESTIMATED me, the way this country MISUNDERESTIMATED President Bush's resolve to get things done.

I laughed when I first saw 73A: I came: Lat. VENI. Then I filled in ALLUDE for 79A: Refer indirectly and LAY for 93A: Non-clerical. Then I found myself writing CAME for 94A: Showed up. I was stunned. CAME twice in less than 2 minute? You are amazing! Very ÉTÉ (98A: Nice hot time?) indeed.

But nothing is funny about 90A: Win a chase (OUT RUN). 93D: Ran out (LAPSED). You've gonna be kidding me. Just when I thought he could not sink any lower, along come this ghastly cluing! This editor definitely has no intention to improve the quality of his puzzles. His stubbornness is only paled by his arrogance.

Quite a few obscure city names in today's puzzle: NIAMEY, NEVERS, ALEPPO. The only place I know is 70D: Strasbourg's region (ALSACE). QUAGGAS, TOCSIN, MIOSIS, BOCCI were completely unknown to me. I've never heard of Nicolas ROEG either. But thanks to this editor's painful "Medical pref:" clue in April, I was able to get 54A: Healer: pref (IATRO) without any problem, otherwise, I would have big trouble with RICTUS (50D: Fixed, gaping grin). And without the generous help from those ING's, I think I would have completely tanked this puzzle.

ACROSS:

4A: Bring upon oneself: BUCK FOR. I am only familiar with BUCK UP, not BUCK FOR.

11A: Michael of Monty Python: PALIN. Nailed him today.

16A: Letters in math proofs: QED (Quod Erat Démōnstrandum). Latin. I am so proud I got this one.

20A: Shakespearean tragedy: OTHELLO

21A: Dispatch boat: AVISO. I completely forgot this word. But was able to string it together by the down clues. Always want a verb for the fill.

24A: Widespread slaughter: CARNAGE

30A: Fraction of a joule: ERG. 1 joule = 107 erg.

35A: Mount Hood's state: OREGON. Hi there!

39A: NATO word: ATL (Atlantic). Do you know that NATO also stands for "North African Theater of Operations"? IKE served both NATO's.

41A: "Teenage __ Ninja Turtles:": MUTANT. Not familiar with this comic book at all.

42A: Singer Carter: DEANA. "Everything's Gonna Be Alright". Here is my favorite "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" (Bob Marley).

48A: Squelch: STIFLE

53A: Ascended: WENT UP

55A: Like plays and movies: SCRIPTED

65A: PA nuclear accident site: TMI (Three Miles Island). To me, TMI is simply "Too Much Information".

70A: Painter Matisse: HENRI. This Luxe, Calme, et Volupté is the only Matisse I've seen in person, and I don't think I like it.

72A: Raw fish dish: SUSHI. Technically, it's SASHIMI. SUSHI toppings are always cooked. I like how SUSHI parallels MOUTHWATERING. M-m-m good!

74A: Greek contest: AGON. I simply forgot. It's "a contest in which prizes were awarded in any of a number of events, as athletics, drama, music, poetry, and painting" in ancient Greece.

75A: Tense state: EDGINESS

82A: "M*A*S*H" co-star: STIERS (David Ogen). No idea. I've never watched "M*A*S*H".

83A: Strolls easily: MOSEYS

89A: Silver or Gold: METAL. I put MEDAL first, then my fill for 80D: Husband of Salt? became LOD, which confused me for a long time.

92A: Big bell sound: BONG

97A: Most favorable conditions: OPTIMA. Singular form is OPTIMUM.

99A: Pig's sire: BOAR

101A: Norse pantheon: AESIR. Ugh, I forgot. This word is hard to remember.

106A: 90 deg. from vert. HOR (Horizontal)

107A: Scatter: DISSIPATE

110A: Type of general: ONE STAR

111A: O.T. book: ISA (Isaiah)

114A: Make a widow: BEREAVE. It bothers me a bit to see BEREAVE crossing 89D: Connubial: MARITAL.

117A: Pituitary or pineal: GLAND. I did not know the meaning of "Pituitary" and I have never heard of "pineal gland" before. Had to consult my dictionary.

118A: Washington Post honcho: BRADLEE (Ben). I did not realize that he is still with the Washington Post (vice president). Thought he left long time ago. I like his "A Good Life".

DOWN:

4D: Italian lawn bowling: BOCCI. Completely unknown to me. It's "an Italian variety of lawn bowling played on a dirt court that is shorter and narrower than the rink of a bowling green."

6D: Legendary Giant Mathewson: CHRISTY. Gimme for me. One of the first crop of Baseball HOFers 1936. The other 4 are Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson.

7D: Condominium for canines: KENNEL

8D: Blemishes: FLAWS

10D: "Performance" director Nicolas: ROEG. No, I've never heard of him.

11D: Neighbor of Iran: PAKISTAN

13D: Lisa of "The View": LING. She is not with "The View" any more.

16D: Extinct kin of zebra: QUAGGAS. No idea. Gettable though. Here is a picture.

18D: John's last name?: DOE. I like the "?" in the clue.

29D: Becoming extinguished: GOING OUT. Two OUT in the fills today, see 90A: OUT RUN.

32D: Crevices: CLEFTS

35D: Syndicated astrologer Sydney: OMARR. Unknown to me.

39D: Syrian city: ALEPPO. No, no, have never heard of it.

46D: Alarm bell: TOCSIN. No idea. Dictionary says this word derives from French "tocasenh", "tocar" means to strike, "senh" comes from the Latin signal, so it's bell.

48D: Wake of a scythe: SWATHE. A "VAR" mark is essential for this clue in my opinion.

49D: Designated: TERMED. Why? Can you explain it to me?

50D: Fixed, gaping grin: RICTUS. Completely unknown to me. It's from the past participle of Latin word ringī (to gape).

57D: Incarnate: EMBODY

58D: Keaton and Ladd: DIANES. Know Keaton, not Ladd.

61D: Down Under one?: AUSSIE. Good one.

63D: City on the Loire: NEVERS. Capital city of Nièvre (central France), on the Loire River. I've never heard of it.

67D: Bleached: WHITENED

68D: Capital of Niger: NIAMEY. I did not know. Got it from across clues. Interesting, they grow millet there. Have you had millet couscous before? The capital of Nigeria is Abuja, pretty cool name, isn't it?

74D: Strasbourg's region: ALSACE. In eastern France. The food there is mostly German style, lots of rye bread.

80D: Husband of salt?: LOT. Great clue. What is exactly the name of LOT's wife anyway? A Pillar of Salt? She shouldn't have looked back obviously, the same with Orpheus. He would have brought his wife out of Hades if he did not glance back. But it's just so hard to resist the temptation in life.

82D: Make a strong metal connection: SPOT WELD. No idea.

84D: Moo __ gai pan: GOO. "Moo GOO" means "mushroom" in Chinese. Gai is chicken. Pan means slice. Americanized Chinese dish. You won't find it in a real Chinese dining table.

89D: Connubial: MARITAL. It bothers me to see MARITAL crossing BEREAVE.

92D: Defeated: BEATEN

95D: Contraction of the pupil: MIOSIS. No, nope, total stranger to me. It's "excessive constriction of the pupil of the eye, as a result of drugs, disease, or the like". I do like how this author structured MIOSIS and 2D: Membrane of the eye: CORNEA in the same grid in such a balanced fashion. Very nice. And one more, 51A: Eyes, in poems (ORBS)

96D: Listing of text mistakes: ERRATA

99D: Goofy error: BONER

104D: Pitcher Nen: ROBB. Wow, I've never heard of his name before. Not a Giants fan.

108D: Tape-counter abbr.: IPS (Inches Per Second)

C.C.

May 10, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008 Matthew Higgins

Themless

What a surprise! No ING in the whole grid. Remember this constructor's excessive use of ING's in his Feb & March puzzles? But there are just way too many annoying affixes in today's puzzle:

S: SADDENS, NODS, CLOCKS, TAMES, SODS, OLES, EMS, SENSES, DIALS, EGOS, XENOPHOBES, CHORISTERS, LIMNERS, SCIENTISTS,

ED: MISTRUSTED, REUSED, OMENED, INFURIATED,

ER/OR: ELICITOR, LIMNERS, BREEDER. ENAMELER.

RE: REUSED.

The overabundance of letter S just INFURIATED (29D) me, though it did speed up my solving considerably.

I had problem with my opening tee shot again this morning. I've never read Henry V, so I had no idea who Prince Hal was, not to mention his fat, jolly companion. The clue actually made me think of Little John. I always thought the protein in grains are GLUTEN, I have never heard of ALEURON before. FRESNEL (8D) was a complete stranger to me also. I thought 30A: Store fodder was asking for a noun, so I was trying to think of a grain or other crop. Then I wrongly wrote down IRENA for 27A: Dunne or Ryan, So my 23D: Wriggling became ANTY (My faulty spelling of ANTSY).

Went through a few other troubles too, but none debilitating.

ACROSS:

1A: Prince Hal's fat, jolly companion: FALSTAFF. Sir John FALSTAFF. Somehow I just cannot bring myself to read Shakespeare's works, or any other great literature. I am simply not interested in them.

9A: Times: CLOCKS

15A: One who evokes a response: ELICITOR. I only knew ELICIT. English is strange, why the suffix sometimes is OR and sometimes is ER? This word ELICITOR reminds me of SOLICITOR. Is LICITOR a word? Let me check... No, it's not, but LICTOR is a word. Here is the definition: "(in ancient Rome) one of a body of attendants on chief magistrates, who preceded them carrying the fasces and whose duties included executing the sentences of criminals."

16A: Montana's capital: HELENA. ENNUI. How about this Victoria's Secret model HELENA Chistensen?

17A: Florida Native American: SEMINOLE. I totally forgot this word. OSCEOLA was clued as "SEMINOLE chief" on a March 8 TMS puzzle.

18A: Portended: OMENED. I did not not know that OMEN can be a verb too. The noun form of "portend" is "portent". English is definitely strange.

20A: Had misgivings about: MISTRUSTED

25A: Gibbon, for one: APE. Got it this time.

26A: Spinning measure: VORTEX. Hard for me, I had big problem with 27D.

30A: Store fodder: ENSILE.

37A: Ancient Brit: PICT. I wanted CELT. Need to commit this PICT into my brain.

48A:Tranquil: SERENE. Penned in quickly due to hint of "S" from 9D.

53A: Formula Western: HORSE OPERA. SPACE OPERA for Sci-Fi genre.

56A: "Lucky Jim" author: AMIS (Kingsley). Knew the author, did not know the book. See also 55D: ALAS. 37D: PERHAPS. What's the obsession with S today?

57A: Engross: ABSORB

58A: Tending to expand: DILATIVE

59A: Fraternity hopeful: PLEDGE. Not familiar with this term. Have never attended any school in the US.

61A: Cloisonne creator: ENAMELER. I like this Cloisonne Flower Vase.

63A: Nonmigratory bird: RESIDENT

DOWN:

1D: Joyous: FESTIVE

2D: Protein in cereal grains: ALEURON. No idea. It derived from Greek "Aleuron" meaning meal.

3D: Ornamental sign painters: LIMNERS. Only knew the verb LIMN.

4D: Laboratory denizens: SCIENTISTS

7D: Paper folded in half: FOLIO. 2 Paper related clues today. See 50A: Piece of paper: SHEET.

8D: Lens developed for lighthouses: FRESNEL. The lens is named after French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel.

9D: Sunday singers: CHORISTERS

10D: Madagascar primate: LEMUR. Repeat offender.

12D: Cuban coin: CENTAVO

13D: Leg joint protector: KNEE PAD

14D: Makes despondent: SADDENS. See 62A: Feels (SENSES). Dreadful S's!

23D: Wriggly: EELY

27D: Folk fearing foreigners: XENOPHOBE. I misread the clue as Folk-fearing foreigners. I heard of Xenophobia on TV sometimes, but I could not spell it properly. "Xeno" is a prefix for "foreign, strange", Greek origin. I've never head of XENOPHILIA though.

29D: Extremely angered: INFURIATED

34D: Lounge lizard: CREEP. I've never heard of the slang "Lounge lizard" until this morning.

36D: Mouthpiece part: REED

38D: Disreputable: IGNOBLE. Saw this word before, but I've never used it.

39D: Become more vulgar: COARSEN

41D: Nuclear reactor type: BREEDER. Not familiar with BREEDER reactor at all.

43D: Nautical distance: SEA MILE. It appeared on April 11 puzzle.

44D: Invigorate: ENLIVEN

45D:Dinner finale: DESSERT. I like this clue.

50D: Twilled worsted fabric: SERGE. Do you like SERGE Gainsbourg? I do! Here is a beautiful S, S & S song for you. Enjoy!

C.C.

May 9, 2008

How Often Do You Visit This Blog Poll Result

Question: How often do you visit this blog?

Total votes: 453

Once a day: 195 (43%)

Several times a day: 22 (4%)

Only when I am stumped: 183 (40%)

My first times: 44 (9%)

Others: 9 (1%)

Thank you for the participation.

C.C.

Friday, May 9, 2008 Doug Peterson

Theme: P Transformation (New word/phrase is formed when you insert letter P in front of letter L)

17A: Cork-based courage?: PLUCK OF THE IRISH (Luck of the Irish)

29A: Jet for honeymooners?: LOVERS' PLANE (Lover's Lane)

46A: Baseball lineup?: PLATE COMERS (Latecomers)

61A: Powerful faction's advocate?: MAJORITY PLEADER (Majority Leader)

A couple of things first:

1) ANENT. Johnboy called it a "pure cruciverbonym" at his 11:20am comment yesterday. In fact, this kind of word is referred to as "CROSSWORDESE" (Words that are often used in crosswords and rarely used in our daily conversation). In her book "How to Conquer the NY Times Crossword Puzzle", Orange gave "PTAH, OONA, ORT and ESNE" as examples.

2) Letters to the Editor: As you all know, I've been very disappointed and angry with the feedback, or rather lack of feedback, from our editor Mr. Williams and his staff. He does not seem to care what we are thinking and he seems to have no desire to improve the quality of the TMS puzzles. I think we deserve better. We deserve a good editor.

Let's write to Mary Elson. She is the Managing Editor of Tribune Media Services. Her email address is MElson@tribune.com. Please, don't be silent any more. We have to voice our opinions if we want quality crosswords like the NY Times'. We deserve a capable editor who is passionate about his/her editing job and care about what we readers think.

Now come back to the puzzle. I had huge problem with my open tee shot today. Except "A Walk in the Cloud", I've never seen any Anthony Quinn movie, so ZORBA was hard for me to get this morning. I guess I've heard of ZORBA the Greek before. I've never heard of ACK-ACK gun. Saw "Presumed Innocent" before, but I did not pay attention to the actor name RAÚL Juliá. And to compound the problem, I penned in SONG rather than SOLO for 20A: Recital piece. So I could not even get my BACON for 4D. A total SNAFU in the first hole! But I did find my swing back quickly and was able to complete the round without getting too frustrated with my clubs.

ACROSS:

1A: Anthony Quinn title role: ZORBA. Here is the original movie poster of "Zorba the Greek".

15A: Jab deliverer: FIST. Ugh, I just can not stand the double appearance of FIST in both the clue and the answers. See 19D.

21A: Ultimate letters: XYZ. I love this clue! ELSE, enjoy your stay in ELBA!

22A: Sheathe: ENCASE

26A: Comic Margaret: CHO. Not my cup of tea.

35A: Classic sitcom mom: HOUSEWIFE

37A: Skater Harding: TONYA. I just can not resist the temptation to put Plushenko's skating video here.

38A: Plugging away: AT IT

38A: Scrawny one: SCRAG

41A: Sporty trucks, briefly: UTES. Utilities.

42A: Olympian's reward: MEDAL

52A: Huge fan: ADORER. Somehow I have problem accepting this word ADORER.

57A: Right on maps: EAST

64A: Aoki of golf: ISAO. Golf Hall-of -Famer. I don't think I've ever seen him playing golf, either at PGA, or Senior PGA. Shingo Katayama & Shigeki Maruyama are probably the only Japanese golfers who are well-known in the PGA tour.

66A: Marshmallowy treat: S'MORE. I've never had this treat before. I don't like marshmallow.

67A: Leveling wedge: SHIM

DOWN:

3D: Actor Julia: RAÚL. Here is more information about him. Is he a gimme for you?

5D: Half an antiaircraft gun: ACK. ACK-ACK derives from A. A. (abbreviation of AntiAircraft.) Wikipedia says ACK- ACK is "WWI phonetic alphabet for AA".

7D: Posh hotel name: RITZ. I like the Z's in today's puzzle. ZIPS, ZORBA, RITZ, XYZ, and the clue 68A Zounds.

10D: Distribute: PARCEL OUT

11D: Inter __ (among others): ALIA

18D: U-shaped river bends: OXBOWS. No idea.

19D: Ham-fisted: INEPT. I've never heard of "Ham-fist" before.

25D: Bring to life: CREATE

26D: Titleholder: CHAMP & 30D: Winner: VICTOR. This CHAMP is a very interesting fill today, as P is indeed part of today's puzzle title.

27D: Red Monopoly piece: HOTEL. Ah the thick and lush Chocolat Chaud in HÔTEL RITZ! Please visit Paris 75001, with your AMIS (52D: Paris pals), have some TÊTE -A- TÊTE (44A: Private chat), heaven!

28D: "A Dog of Flanders" writer: OUIDA. No idea. But it's gettable. OUIDA is the pseudonym of British novelist Maria Louise Ramé. Wikipedia says she derived her pen name from her own childish pronunciation of her given name "Louise".

31D: Violinist Zimbalist: EFREM. EFREM was clued as Zimbalist Jr. of F. B. I. on Tuesday. Father and Son.

33D: Natasha's negatives: NYETS. Whoa, hold on one minute! You don't think "Putin's negatives" mean much after he stepped down 2 days ago? Man, you need to really look at the man in the eye and see his Never-Give-Up-Power KGB soul. I love the alliteration of the clue/answer. Excellent!

36D: Cruise compartment: STATEROOM

40D: Pet in a cage: GERBIL. I've never heard of this animal. Here is a picture. It looks like a mouse to me.

47D: Purplish red: CERISE. I want these CERISE roses and these fresh cherries. CERISE is French for cherry. (Update later: I made a mistake, those flowers are carnations, not roses)

54D: City near Santa Barbara: OJAI. Not familiar to me at all. I got it from across clues.

55D: Banks of talk TV: TYRA. Again? Infatuated with TYRA lately?

56D: Parroted: APED. This is probably related to the puzzle title. I don't know. I am not so sure of my title summery today.

62: Yank hard: TUG

C.C.

May 8, 2008

Why Do You Love Crosswords?

I enjoy solving crosswords because:

1) It's a very effective way to better understand American culture.

2) I love learning new things and new words.

3) I don't want to get Alzheimer's when I am old.

What's your raison d'être? Please share with us.

C.C.

Thursday May 8, 2008 Alan P. Olschwang

Theme: QUIP

18A: Start of a quip: THE TEST OF

27A: Part 2 of quip: A PROFESSION IS

40A: Part 3 of quip: A LOVE

48A: Part 4 of quip: OF THE DRUDGERY

63A: End of quip: IT ENTAILS

The original quote is: The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves (Logan Pearsall Smith). Look at what lies at the HEART of the puzzle! See it?

I had another bumpy ride today, with the PEÑA corner. I totally forgot what RPI stands for. And I wanted RENO for 28D: Clinton cabinet member (PEÑA). But it did not fit, neither did LEON (Panetta). I even had problem with TU FU. I grew up in Northwest China and I was used to the Mandarin spelling of DU FU & Li Bai rather than the Cantonese way of TU FU and Li Po. I guess PEÑA is just too low profile for me. If he were as ubiquitous as David Axelrod, I would've nailed him.

I got BAHT, INVAR, SDI by across clues. I don't think I could ferret them out without any references. Somehow I just could never remember this currency BAHT. I only remember vividly the evening when I bought my black Wacoal Contour with BAHT. It's beautiful!

ACROSS:

1A: Hindu social stratum: CASTE. Does this caste system still exist in India today?

6A: Frenchman of the cloth: ABBÉ. French for Abbot.

21A: Bony: OSTEAL. Osseous also means bony.

23A: Cartoon Alley: OOP. Learned it from doing crossword.

25A: More crowded: DENSER

34A: Newhart's co-star Mary: FRANN. No idea. Not familiar with "Newhart".

35A: Concerning: ANENT. I don't think I've ever used this word before.

38A: Part of RPI: INST. RPI is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

47A: Saturn model: ION. Nice change from the "charged atom" clue.

51A: River in a Strauss waltz: DANUBE. Got it this morning. "The Blue DANUBE Waltz".

55A: Stimulate: AROUSE. Yes, please! Please spend your windfall rebate to buy someone you love an OMEGA watch. That's the purpose of the $150 billion "Stimulus Package"!

65A: Actress Dickinson: ANGIE. I guessed. I don't know her. I only know Janice Dickinson.

68A: Haggard of country: MERLE

70A: Lairs: DENS. OK clue if not for DENSER at 25A.

71A: Spruce up: PREEN. I don't like PREEN crossing 62D: PEEN. But I suppose it's unavoidable sometimes.

DOWN:

7D: Thai currency: BAHT. It equals to 100 satangs. Here is 100 BAHT banknote. The guy on the picture is the current King of Thailand. He enjoys an incredible high approval rating. He was actually born in the US.

8D: "Desperate Housewives" role: BREE. Played by Marcia Gross. Not my cup of tea. Here is a picture of all those "Desperate Housewives".

9D: Mexican state: ESTADO

11D: Revolving spit: ROTISSERIE

19D: Actress Verdugo: ELENA. Got her this morning.

21D: Massenet work: OPERA

26D: Baseball team: NINE. Not interested in NINE holes?

27D: Leaning precariously: ATIP. If you insist...

28D: Clinton cabinet member: PEÑA (Federico). Clinton's Secretary of Transportation. He is Obama's National Campaign Co-chair.

29D: Appellee: RESPONDENT

30D: Maison room: SALLE. French for room.

31D: Hair net: SNOOD. Why do people wear SNOOD?

32D: Nickel/steel alloy: INVAR. I've got no idea. It's a trademark of a brand of iron alloy. "The trademark name was selected by the alloy’s inventor, the Swiss physicist Charles-Édouard Guillaume, to express the invariability of its dimensions when heat is applied."

36D: Queen of Jordan: NOOR. Hard for me to take her "Leap of Faith"! (Update later: NOOR means light in Arab language, and it's NUR in Farsi, thank you BC for the information)

37D: Singer Orlando: TONY. Unknown to me. Inferable though.

39D: Li Po's contemporary: TU FU. Regarded as the Greatest Chinese Poet. He had a very hard life compared to Li Po, who wrote most of his poems when he was drunk. It's no surprise that Li Po's most famous poem is "Drinking Alone by Moonlight".

41D: Harden: ENURE

44D: Standing by the plate: AT BAT. 2 baseball references today. See 26D: NINE.

46D: Reagan program initials: SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative). Technical name of STAR WARS.

49D: Newspaper name: HERALD

50D: "Maverick" star: GARNER (James). I forgot. He just appeared on April 30 puzzle.

56D: Seine tributary: OISE. So, if it's a 4 letter blank, it's OISE; 5-letter blank, then it's ISERE.

57D: __ Ude, Russia: ULAN. Or __Bator, Mongolia. ULAN means "red" in Mongolian, so literally ULAN Bator is "Red Hero".

61D: 5,280 feet: MILE. Or 1.60 kilometer for me.

C.C.

May 7, 2008

Wednesday, May 7, 2008 Norma Steinberg

Theme: BASEBALL JARGON

17A: Cosmetics biz?: MAKE-UP GAME

61A: Where picketers march?: STRIKE ZONE

10D: Hugging?: SQUEEZE PLAY

24D: Pedestal with casters?: BASE ON BALLS

A stunner, isn't it? What an ingenious idea to place SODAS (POPS, 39A: Fizzy drinks) at the very center of the grid. This is definitely not a Pop-up, or a Pop foul, it's a dazzling Chase Utley style home run POP!

And BEERS (58A: Brew-skis:), BOW (57A: Respond to applause), WINCE (66A: Cringe), SPEED (69A: Exceed the limit), NINE (56D: Supreme Court count), IRON (65A: Laundry room appliance. Lou Gehrig the "Iron Horse" or, Cal Ripken Jr. the "Iron Man", thank you Drdad and Kim), all baseball related. Gorgeous! Take me out to the ball park please!

It would be perfect if QUAD (16A: Campus heart) were clued as _ Cities River Bandits (Midwest League, class A), and EAST (12A: Vane heading) were clued as American/National League ___.

No need to call Mr. Google this morning. However, I did have about 10 minutes of nervous flirting with our Quest support guy in Idaho earlier. He was literally dreamy. Our DSL light kept blinking and I could not get access to the internet. Somehow I hit the wrong switch button, and the damned modem would not work. So be prepared. I might experience this glitch again and the blog entry might not be always published at the normal time.

ACROSS:

1A: Soggy: MOIST

14A: Kind of tube or ear: INNER

15A: Amo, ams, __: AMAT. I have a question regarding "Veni, vidi, vici". How do you say "I came, I saw and I did not conquer" in Latin?

21A: Those guys in Paris: ILS. Hmm, definitely not my type. Instrument Landing System (ILS) looks more appealing to me now.

22A: For all __ and purpose: INTENTS

24A: Big inits. in camping: BSA (Boy Scouts of America). Also, 28D: Camp shelters (TENTS).

25A: Milk of Managua: LECHE. Spanish for milk. I had no idea, I pieced this word together from down clues.

26A: Health food store purchase: VITAMIN E. I like NUTS for snacks, so no need for Vitamin E supplements. See also PILL (64A: Medicinal tablet).

30A: Source of danger: HAZARD

42A: Dragged behind: IN TOW

44A: Close: NIGH. Do you use this word in your daily conversation?

45A: Fibs: LIES. Oh, how I want a STEAL, Ichiro style!

46A: Mickey Mouse man: DISNEY

48A: Store's gross less expenses: NET SALES

53A: Backslide: RELAPSE. I like the SLIDE in the clue.

56A: A. T. M. maker: N.C.R.

DOWNS:

3D: Printer's purchase: INKS. And Print measure: ENS

5D: Statement of the obvious: TRUISM. I like Colbert's TRUTHINESS.

13D: Hand-held computers: PDAS (Personal Digital Assistant)

18D: Great topography: PLAINS

25D: Introductions: LEAD-INS. (Update: LEAD is a baseball reference too.)

26D: Legitimate: VALID

27D: Qom resident: IRANI. Why not bring out the "Quds Force" in play?

32D: Ms. Zellweger: RENEE. I like her in Cold Mountain only.

40D: Bit of clowning: SHTICK. My favorite clue.

47D: Response to a superior: YES SIR

49D: Threaded nails: SCREWS. NO comment!

51D: So out it's in: RETRO. Like this clue.

55D: Hang loose: LOLL. This is the "LOLL" I am familiar with, not yesterday's "Kicks back" clue.

57D: Mother Hubbard's quest: BONE. I had no idea who Mother Hubbard was, got it from across clues. I don't know anything about nursery rhyme.

59D: Garden crasher: WEED. Great clue.

62D: Singer Stewart: ROD. Have I told You Lately That I Love YOU?

63D: Postal code: ZIP. I like the appearance of both Z and Q in today's puzzle. Very zippy, isn't it? Does ZQ remind you of someone?

C. C.

May 6, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 Allan E. Parrish

THEME: TV DAD (X-RATED)

17A: Robert Reed role: MIKE BRADY

61A: John Goodman role: DAN CONNER

10D: Reed Foxx role: FRED SANFORD

25D: Hugh Beaumont role: WARD CLEAVER

26D: Ed O'Neill role: AL BUNDY

The SUSPENSE: X

21A: One Ritter: TEX

36A: PlaysStation competitor: XBOX

64A: Nasal spray brand: SINEX

6D: Trojan War hero: AJAX

23D: "Das Kapital" writer: MARX

28D: Wheel shaft: AXLE

46D: Response to "Who's up?": I'M NEXT

RATE:

11D: Be worthy of : RATE

15A: Shipping box: CRATE

29A: Not for kids: R RATED

The REASONS:

14A: Reach rival: ORAL B

41D: Gary Lewis's backup: PLAYBOYS

26A: Diarist Nin: ANAÏS (Erotica author)

52D: Boredom: ENNUI. L'ENNUI (An erotic French film about sexual obsession)

53D: Lustful look: LEERS

Is this the fruit that rots on the tree? Are these trees that every day leaf anew? Oh poor sorry Devil, forget what I said yesterday, I am NOT going to sell my soul, not even for one day. I don't desire this kind of useless knowledge. Bring me back my OMEGA watch and my HERMÈS Birkin.

The difficulty of this puzzle will put USGA to shame! Omigod, so many unknown hazards and traps, so intimidating a rough, so narrow a fairway. I've never played a golf course as tough as this one. I've never seen any green with such breaks and slopes. I could not even see the tee boxes, let alone the doglegs. What a Titanic struggle! Except OMAR Sharif, I know none of those actors and their TV roles.

Heavy flirting with Google this morning, and it's not an enjoyable experience. Fun to see YOU'RE and ET TU, I'M NEXT in the same puzzle. Again, I like how XBOX anchors the whole grid.

ACROSS:

1A: "Moll Flanders" writer: DEFOE (Daniel). Not an easy name to fish out of my brain. He wrote "Robinson Crusoe".

6A: Abbr. for Edwards or Andrews: AFB (Air Force Base)

9A: Zimbalist, Jr. of "The F. B. I.": EFREM. No, I've never heard of the actor or the TV series.

15A: Shake up: JAR. Hmm, I like how the clue sounds.

19A: Riga populace: LETTS. Ugh, I only knew LATVIAN.

22A: Mozart movie: AMADEUS. Oscar best picture 1984.

24A: Beagle passenger: DARWIN. DARWIN's ship is HMS Beagle.

27A: What to make with Monty?: A DEAL. No idea. Have never heard of Monty Hall or "Let's Make a Deal".

33A: Extra: SPARE

38A: __ contendere: NOLO

40A: Abner's old-time-radio pal: LUM. No, I've never heard of this radio show.

41A: Actress Jo Ann: PFLUG. No, no, no. What a strange name!

43A: Sofer of soaps: RENA. Vaguely remember her name.

44A: Kicks back: LOLLS. Really? Is it the same?

45A: Soccer position: GOALIE

47A: Bleak, to Blake: DREAR

49A: Clear out: EMPTY

51A: "Wild one" singer: RYDELL (Bobby). Unknown to me. Is the song good? Is it wild?

55A: Winter Palace name: ROMANOV. They ruled until 1917.

59A: Marshal under Bonaparte: NEY (Michel). "The bravest of the brave". Nailed it this time.

65A: "___ So Vain": YOU'RE. Who on earth are you singing about?

67A: Centerpiece: HEART. Will miracle happen if you love something/someone with all your heart?

69A: Holey cheese: SWISS

DOWN:

1D: Like some stadium: DOMED

2D: Actress Slezak: ERIKA. Total stranger to me.

3D: Sick-day abuser: FAKER

5D: Oceanic flows: EBB TIDES

8D: William Jennings __: BRYAN. No, I've never heard of him.

9D: French pastry: ÉCLAIR. Want some? Like the coffee ÉCLAIR? That cherry macaroon looks so delicious.

31D: Hebrew month: ELUL. The 12th month of the Jewish calendar. The others are: Tishri, Heshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shevat, Adar, Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, and Av.

33D: Smelting waste: SLAG

43D: Bank take-back: REPO

44D: Village Voice award: OBIE

48D: Actor Stoltz: ERIC. Unknown to me.

55D: Impulsive: RASH

57D: Poet Van Duyn: MONA. Is this a gimme for you?

C.C.

May 5, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008, Verna Suit

Theme: Three Red Things

17A: Three red things: HERRING MEAT WOOD

59A: Three red things: SNAPPER LIGHT ANT

3D: Three red things: CARPET WINE COATS

11D: Three red things: CROSS EYE CABBAGE

Why COATS? Why plural form? Where is the consistency?

Oops? Mr. Williams? RED comes after WHITE and BLUE? Or are you totally confused by Juliette Binoche's "Three Color Trilogy?" Why released these puzzles now rather than the 4th of July week?

I think I was still heavily NOTTED by yesterday's NOT puzzle. Could not untangle my cluttered brain this morning to completely demystify this ridiculous TONG crossword. Got mired in the ERNIE/SAENS corner. Did not know Composer Saint- ___ and simply forgot Journalist Pyle. Penned in HOIST for 50D: Holdup, and could not get ENTEBBE for 57A: Israeli raid site.

Good puzzle though. I like how CORAL is anchored in the very center of the grid, although I wish it were clued as color related. I love the way this constructor sprinkles politics into the crossword. This time it's Bill MAHER and Michael Moor's SICKO. Remember her KARL (Rove) and SCOOTER (Libby) puzzle? And the Clinton insinuated White House, White Water, Lies, Willy sub-theme in her last offering?

ACROSS:

1A: Flaky minerals: MICAS. MICA is "crumb, grain" in Latin. How flaky is it? I don't think I've ever touched a MICA.

14A: Wise words: ADAGE

20A: Talk of Toledo: ESPANOL. Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

21A: Greek houses?: FRATS. I like this clue.

25A: Pretenses: POSES

28A: Model Banks: TYRA. Hmm, TYRA, POSES & BARE, like this picture?

34A: Writer Sinclair: LEWIS. Finally, an author I know. The pride of Minnesota. I guess a __Libby (Scooter) clue would have made this puzzle too politically pronounced.

37A: Unit of force: DYNE. This word seems to visit us every week. DYNE comes from Greek "dýnamis", power.

46A: Caesar's garb: TOGA

47A: Micheal Moore movie: SICKO. Good intention, but too one-sided in delivery.

54A: Hops dryers: OASTS

57A: Israeli raid site: ENTEBBE. Never heard of ENTEBBE raid. Also known as Operation Thunderbolt.

62A: In __ (where found): SITU

65A: Cartoonist Thomas: NAST. Tired of this clue. Why not try Condé __?

66A: Say it __ so! ISN'T. Does this refer to the movie or what?

67A: Cubic meter: STERE. Though spelled differently, I still do not like Meter and METRE (53D) appear in the same puzzle.

DOWN:

1D: "Politically Incorrect" host: MAHER (Bill). I like his OUTRE satirical style.

2D: that is.: Lat: ID EST

5D: Net wielders: SEINERS. Did this one trap you also?

13D: Affirmative action: NOD. The three-letter blank actually does not leave you any chance to go to the "policy measure" direction, does it?

24D: Common nester: SPARROW. Hmm, 2 birds today, see 6D: EAGLE.

26D: Journalist Pyle: ERNIE. Here is more information. I adore this "Big Easy" ERNIE.

27D: Composer Saint- __: SAËNS (Charles Camille Saint-Saëns). Tough! Completely unknown to me. Composer name is definitely my Achilles' heel. This morning I have no desire for OMEGA watch or HERMES Birkin bag. I only want to have some knowledge and feel smart for a day. "Poor sorry Devil... shows me the fruits that rot on the tree, and the trees every day leaf out anew..." I am willing to sell my soul.

35D: World -weariness: ENNUI. Yes, Jeopardy is jejune now.

36D: Afrikaner: BOER

37D: Party Pooper: DRAG. Are you talking about our Playboy Bill MAHER?

39D: Friend of Fidel: CHE. I like how this word intersects with 45A: HERO. CHE was/is a hero to many.

46D: Chinese secret society: TONG. One more time, Mr. Williams, TONG is Chinese American secret society. I am speechless, you've really reached the epitome of arrogance. We deserve a competent editor like her.

48D: Dead as a doornail: KAPUT

50D: Holdup: HEIST

52D: Capp lad: ABNER. Li'l Abner.

53D: Downing Street distance: METRE. Good clue. He is my favorite 10 Downing Street resident.

I forgot to mention earlier that there are quite a few actors/actresses' names in this puzzle, characteristic of Ms. Suit's style. But all of them are gimmes to me today.

C.C.

May 4, 2008

Sunday, May 4, 2008 Ed Voile

Theme: NOT ... (Word/Phrases with NOT missing)

23A: "Not" resisting successfully: WITHSTANDING

25A: "Not" fully present: ALL THERE

38A: "Not" like someone unknown: AS A STRANGER

50A: "Not" partially spoiled: HALF BAD

68A: "Not" to make money: FOR PROFIT

89A: "Not" reaching standard: UP TO PAR

97A: "Not" bother to help: LIFT A FINGER

116A: "Not" wink: BAT AN EYE

118A: "Not" a strong suit: ONE'S CUP OF TEA

37D: "Not" one's biography: ON YOUR LIFE

46D: "Not" overlook: MISS A TRICK

Yes, you need "NOT" to make sense of those above word/phrases!

What a Sisyphean challenge! I came, I saw, and I tanked! My gosh, what a staggering amount of unfamiliar words and names! Overwhelming! It's just as formidable as yesterday's AZAN puzzle, if not more. I toiled so hard, with every breath I took, and still could not complete 2/3 of the grid.

SCLEROMA (12A) was impossible for me, esp since I had no idea who Moshe ARENS (19D) was. Fritz LEIBER was just as hard to crack as a coconut shell. EDUCARDO da Silva was another unyielding name, since I did not know what 61D: At the age of, Lat. (AET) was.

And author ORIANA Fallaci, poet HOUSMAN, S. E. Hinton's middle name (ELOISE), actress Louise LASSER were all strangers to me. I've never heard of ARIOSE (for 102D: Melodic), CONTUSES, or WEIR before.

I have to say I am very traumatized by my solving experience today. An overpowering sense of inadequacy creeps back again. Just feel so helpless and powerless facing such a mind-blowing name-filled Sunday puzzles. Definitely no joy at my Mudville!

ACROSS:

6A: Milk-producing organs: MAMMAE. Singular form is MAMMA. Wow, I have no idea, honestly. MAMMA mia!

12A: Tumorlike hardening of tissue: SCLEROMA. No idea. "Sclero" has a German origin, meaning hard, like SCLEROMETER (instrument for determining with precision the degree of hardness of a substance, esp. a mineral, as by measuring the pressure necessary to pierce or scratch it). And "oma" is a "noun suffix used to form names of tumors, of the kind specified by the base: FIBROMA, MELANOMA. Now it makes sense, doesn't it?

20A: Lead-in alloy: TERNE. Another stranger to me. Dictionary says it's either "TERNE Plate" or "TERNE metal".

21A: Writer Fallaci: ORIANA. Ouch, another hard one. I googled her, then realized that I had searched for her before (for a Feb 18 TMS puzzle). She is the lady who did that infamous Kissinger Vietnam "useless war" interview. Kissinger later regretted tremendously and commented that it was "the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press."

22A: Rhinitis: HAY FEVER. I did not know the meaning of Rhinitis. It's a new word to me. The prefix is "rhino" meaning nose, like RHINOLOGY (science dealing with the nose and its diseases).

26A: Forest edges: TREE LINES

27A: Fine thread: LISLE. Named after LISLE (now named Lille), the city in France.

30A: Collides intentionally: RAMS

31A: Like best friends: TRUEST

34A: Nutritional deprivations: FASTS. Did not like 2 FAST's in one puzzle. See 52D: BELFAST.

35A: S. E. Hinton's middle name: ELOISE. Unknown to me. S stands for Susan. Is she very famous?

43A: Fontanne's partner: LUNT. Another stranger. I've never heard of LUNT, or Fontanne, or the Lund-Fontainne Theatre.

44A: French possessive noun: SES. Goes with singular pronoun Il or elle.

45A: "A Shropshire Lad" poet: HOUSMAN (A. E). Alfred Edward Housman, not familiar with him or his poem.

49A: Back of station?: ARY. Good one. Stationary.

54A: "_ kleine Nachtmusik": EINE. Mozart's piece, literally " a little night music". EINE is an in German (feminine). German is another gender-matter language, tough!

56A: Jagged, as a leaf's edge: EROSE. Saw this clue before.

57A: Micromanager's concern: DETAIL. What is a Macromanager's concern then?

60A: Da Silva of soccer: EDUARDO. Another estranho to me. His name is inferable if you know that damned AET (61D)

62A: Send an overdue notice: REBILL

65A: Kidded around: TEASED

71A: Muckraker Tarbell: IDA. No, nope. No idea. Her life looks very interesting.

72A: Ran off: BOLTED

75A: "The Treasure of the __ Madre": SIERRA. Faintly remember seeing it before. But I could not retrieve it from my dense brain this morning.

76A: "Inventing the __": ABBOTTS. Totally frustrated at this point of my solving. NO! I've never heard of the film.

83A: Bender: SPREE. I should be familiar with this slang, but I am NOT.

85A: Bilgewater: ROT. Did not know that bilgewater is "pretentious or silly talk or writing", but ROT is gettable.

86A: Wilson's predecessor: TAFT. 2 presidents in today's puzzle, see 42A: Pres. Coolidge (CAL). Did not know that Coolidge's nickname is "Silent CAL".

88A: Middling marks: CEES

92A: Anti-war activist Cindy: SHEEHAN. Gimme for me. Too bad, she does not stand a chance to take on Pelosi.

96A: Al Capone feature: SCAR. Unknown to me.

101A: Comic laugh: CACKLE

103A: Stormed: RAGED

106A: Actress Louise: LASSER. She was married to Woody Allen before. I did not know that. I've never heard of LASSER until this morning. Will probably forget her name again soon.

107A: Virginia rail: SORA. Nope, another unknown. I love this SORA portrait.

108A: AC/DC power: ELEC

109A: Psalms word: SELAH. Is this a gimme for you?

111A: Those who obtain: ACQUIRERS. What a strained clue/answer!

121A: Go-between: EMISSARY

122A: Pinup Anderson: PAMELA. Love her funny cameo in "Borat".

123A: Become fixed: SET IN

124A: Bruises without laceration: CONTUSES. Painful! How can I remember this word?

125A: Ghost: SPIRIT

DOWN:

1D: Chem. chart figure: AT. WT. I put AT. NO. first.

2D: Low dam: WEIR. Did not know this before. The only WEIR I know is him, the man on the left who won Masters in 2003.

3D: Comic Johnson: ARTE

4D: "___ the Wind": INHERIT. Sigh... No!

5D: Magnetic induction units: TESLAS. Nailed this one.

6D: Sounds of pains: MOANS. Yes, aching! This whole puzzle is a insufferable!

7D: British composer Thomas: ARNE. He is definitely a TMS stalwart.

8D: Central parts: MIDSTS

11D: Aerie occupants: EAGLETS

12D: Cascades peak: SHASTA. Simply forgot this one, again.

14D: Lovett or Talbot: LYLE. Know Lovett, not Talbot.

16D: Practice: REHEARSE

17D: Cricket segments: OVERS. Anther sigh... I know nothing about cricket. Wikipedia says an OVER is "a set of six consecutive balls bowled in succession".

19D: Moshe of Israel: ARENS. My goodness, what's bothering you today? Why so many obscure names?

24D: Work-shift record: TIME CARD

32D: Tabula ___: RASA. Literally "Blank slate", Latin.

34D: Pot - au - __: FEU

36D: Sensational: LURID

38D: Landon and others: ALFS. Highly inferable, even if you don't know much about American presidential election in 1936.

39D: Auto-racing org.: NHRA (National Hot Rod Association)

40D: A-ha!: GOT IT. See 105D: Arrive: GET IN. 123A: Become fixed: SET IN. A preposition or a definite article can sure add some zest to an otherwise boring clue.

43D: Cool: ALOOF

48D: Exigency: NEED

50D: Greek Mercury: HERMES. Hmm, Luxury goods brand again. See 57D: Designer Christian: DIOR.

51D: Some fruits: BERRIES

52D: City on the Lagan River: BELFAST. I made a guess. Have never heard of Lagan River before.

53D: Legendary Hun King: ATLI. Not ATTILA?

58D: Fritz of Sci-Fi: LEIBER. Have never, never heard of him before. Hard to string his name together if you do not get ABBOTTS for 76A.

61D: At the age of : Lat.: AET. No, nope.

70D: Infield protectors: TARPS

73D: Moonfish: OPAH

77D: Very much in Vicky: BEAUCOUP. I like the alliteration of the clue. Merci BEAUCOUP, without you, I would've lost the whole battle at the lower right corner.

78D: Of sound quality: TONAL

79D: Gawk: STARE

87D: Airing on TV: TELECAST

90D: Congressional aide: PAGE

93D: Stashed away: HID

94D: Chess piece: BISHOPS

96D: Wrapped with a decorative cloth: SCARFED. Here is a picture of Madeleine Albright, with her HERMES scarf.

98D: Bowling lanes: ALLEYS

99D: CAB successor: FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). CAB stands for "Civil Aeronautics Board".

100D: Sketcher's need: ERASER

102D: Melodic: ARIOSE. New word for me.

103D: Renaissance fiddle: REBEC. As I could not get CONTUSES for 134A, so I was staring at REBE_ forever. I did toy with the idea of filling in REBEL. It's "a Renaissance fiddle with a pear-shaped body tapering into a neck that ends in a sickle-shaped or scroll-shaped pegbox." Here is a picture.

107D: Crouch: SQUAT

113D: Back end of a kitchen?: ETTE. Good clue.

114DL Bridle strap: REIN. What a tragic finish for Eight Belles yesterday! This is just so sad. But "Denis of Cork" was awesome. They do not Calvin Borel "Bo Rail" for nothing!

115D: Without: Fr.: SANS. I like how this puzzle ends with SANS, kind of NOT eching.

117D: Tahlequah, OK school: NSU (Northeastern State University)

120D: Radio static letters: EMI (ElectroMagnetic Interference)

C. C.

May 3, 2008

Saturday, May 3, 2008 Tom Pruce

Theme: NONE

Too hot a puzzle for me to handle today: the palmy CYCADS, the exotic NIPA (Malay thatch), the tropical RATTAN, the LEG, the HES, the ERECTING. Felt like this puzzle was made from Ibiza Islands, for Michael Cretu, whose intoxicating ENIGMA album stole my heart!

I got LAID instead of LAIN at 57D: Reclined, again, just like last Sunday. Really need to look carefully before I jump next time. Money became a huge issue today, as both CRUZEIRO and INTI stumped me hard today. And AZAN, oh my gosh, that clue Muezzin was intimidating! Total SNAFU at the left corner. Lots of troubles in other area too. Tough puzzle.

ACROSS:

1A: Shotgun ammo: PELLETS

8A: Cravings: HUNGERS. Are they really the same?

15A: Blood deficiency: ANAEMIA. Shouldn't there be VAR mark in the clue?

16A: Coop flier: ESCAPEE. Great clue. Coop is slang for prison. I think adding a "?" would have made the clue more sparkling.

17A: Hang up: RING OFF

18A: Marine fauna: SEA LIFE

19A: J. Hancocked?: SGD (Signed). I put OK'D first.

22A: Attacked: RAIDED

28A: Actress Gilpin: PERI. Not familiar to me. I penned in TERI.

29A: Political meeting: CAUCUS. This caucus system is too absurd and is not viable any more. Important decisions should not be made by a few party insiders.

31A: CB-ers?: RADIO MEN. Um, I am not impressed by the cluing at all.

34A: Actor Tognazzi: UGO. I've never heard of him. Got it from down clues.

35A: Putting up: ERECTING. I like how ERECTING intersects with ADRENALIN and SEEDINGS. It would be sensational if 14D were not in ING form. I have ING phobia.

39A: The devil: OLD NICK. I've never heard of this expression. I filled in OLD DICK, thinking of "the Devil and Dick Cheney" joke.

42A: "Troilus and ___": CRESSIDA. Tragically, I've never read this Shakespeare play. Not familiar with the title at all.

46A: Like a square box: CUBOIDAL. New word to me. Cubelike.

47A: Of iron: FERRIC. What is lack of iron? ANEMIC?

51A: Muezzin's call to prayer: AZAN. Ridiculously impossible for me. AZAN is "the call to prayer proclaimed five times a day by the muezzin in Muslim countries". See here for Muezzin explanation.

60A: RN's nice: TLC. Wouldn't be cool to intersect TLC and ICU (24D) someday?

52A: Little yelp: YIP. Why not try "Small bark" or "Golf putting phobia"or something else? Ennui!

54A: Prepared for action: READY. Yes, I am! Surprise me, "Denis of Cork", tell me you are for real!

61A: Da Nang location: VIETNAM

63A: Standby army: MILITIA

66A: Unpredictable: ERRATIC

67A: Object of a computer instruction: OPERAND

68A: "The Thieving Magpie" composer: ROSSINI. No idea. I know nothing about classical music.

69A: Island wraps: SARONGS. I like how SARONGS crossing NIPA (Malay thatch), as Malaysians love wearing SARONGS.

DOWN:

1D: Unit of astronomical length: PARSEC. It comes from Par(allax) Sec(ond). PARSEC is "a unit of distance equal to that required to cause a heliocentric parallax of one second of an arc, equivalent to 206,265 times the distance from the earth to the sun, or 3.26 light-years". Umm, hard, I don't understand what I've written down.

2D: Elgar's "_____Variations": ENIGMA. No idea. It is "Elgar's best-known large-scale composition". Do you love this ENIGMA? It's very sensual and sexy, spiritual too. The gasps for air, the whispering, everything is just so enigmatic.

3D: Martin of "Mission: Impossible": LANDAU. Don't know him.

6D: Southern Georgia county: TIFT. I've never heard of it. Is it well known?

8D: All of guys: HES. I put MEN first.

11D: Impure resin of turpentine: GALIPOT. No idea. Did someone use this word at the Comments section lately? I vaguely remember I saw this word before.

12D: Rampant: EPIDEMIC

13D: Something alluded to: REFERENT

14D: Tournament positions: SEEDINGS. I actually like this cluing. I just hate when too many ING's appear in one puzzle.

21D: Epinephrine: ADRENALIN. I did not know the meaning of "Epinephrine", had to look up in the dictionary. But shouldn't it be ADRENALINE?

25D: Classic Dracula: LUGOSI (Béla). Should have a "?" with the clue, don't you think so?

27D: Gandhi's garb: SARI

30D: 3-D shape: SOLID. I like how SOLID crossing CUBOIDAL.

33D: More googey: ICKIER

36D: Catcher-turned-sportscaster: McCARVER (Tim). No idea. I kept thinking of JIM KAAT, but he was a Pitcher-turned-sportscaster.

37D: Brazilian cash: CRUZEIRO. This Brazilian Supermodel will only take €€€, not CRUZEIRO, not even your $$$. Do ya feel lucky, punk? (Update later: Tom Brady is currently dating Gisele).

38D: Arguers: DEBATERS

43D: Instrumental compositions: SONATAS. Like the crossing of SONATAS with ROSSINI.

45D: Three in Roma: TRE. A little bit Chinese for you. This character "一" is one, "二" is two, and "三" is three. Super easy, isn't it?

48D: Wickerwork material: RATTAN. Saw this before.

49D: Not doing anything: IDLING

50D: Group of seed plants: CYCADS. Here is the definition: "any gymnospermous plant of the order Cycadales, intermediate in appearance between ferns and the palms, many species having a thick, unbranched, columnar trunk bearing a crown of large, leathery, pinnate leaves." Look at her CYCAD.

53D: California tribe: POMOS. Saw it somewhere before.

56D: Former Peruvian currency: INTI. SOL is Peru's money unit now, interesting, Sun as their currency. More interesting: INTI was the Sun God of Incas.

57D: Reclined: LAIN

59D: Malay thatch: NIPA. It's a palm in Southeast Asia, with foliage for thatching and basketry. Alright, see these 2 pictures: NIPA palm and NIPA hut.

64D: Celtic god: LER. Sea God. Father of Manannan. I am confused here. The dictionary says Manannan is also a Sea God, who is the Sea God then?

65D: Worldwide help grp.: IRO (International Refugee Organization). I wrote down IMF.

Forgot to say earlier that I dislike the appearances of 2 Roman numerals in one puzzle, very lazy cluing.

C.C.