Feb 18, 2008

Monday, Feb 18, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Female Athletes

20A: First female Indy entrant: Janet Guthrie

38A: LPGA superstar: Annika Sorenstam

54A: Ms. Didrikson: Babe Zaharias

I don't see any consistency in the difficulty rating of the Star Tribune puzzle, do you? I mean, their Monday puzzles are always more difficult than Tuesdays' and Wednesdays'. The puzzle for Feb 12 Tuesday (Allan E. Parish, the mythical crier Niobe one) was obviously more difficult than Feb 15 Friday's (Randall J. Hartman).

I hope I am not the only one who feels this way. I would love to have your thoughts.

I tanked this one miserably, from the very beginning. I was so adamantly sure of my HAJJ for 1D: Pilgrimage to Mecca (HADJ) that I refused to consider DIRT for 17A: Gossip. I met Annika in person, and I am a huge fan of her, but I could never spell her name properly. I should have been patient and worked out the down clues first, then let her surname reveal itself. But NO, I wanted to key in her name first. Overly excited! I always knew Babe as Babe Zaharias, I would never associate her with Ms. Didrikson.

Here are some of the entries for Across:

1A: Noggin toppers: HATS

15A: Latin handle: ANSA. It was in yesterday's puzzle.

16A: Author Jong: ERICA. Fear of Flying author.

18A:Billy or nanny: GOAT

19A: Covered with hoarfrost: RIMED

20A: First female Indy entrant: JANET GUTHRIE. The only female racer I've heard is Danica Patrick.

23A: Small amount of residue: DREG

24A: Lamprey: EEL. Sniggler's catch. Japanese call it Unagi. The smell of grilled unagi (kabayaki) is heavenly.

25A: Drag behind: TOW. I put Lag first, it messed up the whole corner.

31A: Sticks: ADHERES. Every time I see "stick", I just fill in "adhere". It never fails.

34A: Purple shade: LILAC

36A: N. T. book: REV.

37A: Golda of Israel: MEIR. I was a bit disappointed by the portrayal of her in the movie Munich.

38A: LPGA superstar: ANNIKA SORENSTAM. She is back. She just won LPGA season opener in Hawaii 2 days ago. It's been a long winless streak for her. I have her autographed card, very cool.

42A: Installed at carpet: LAID

44A: Representative: AGENT

45A: Stock-market abbr. OTC (Over the Counter). I am not cut for any stock market trading. I cannot stomach the violent up-and-down swings.

46A: "Citizen Kane" sled: ROSEBUD. I watched 2 minutes of Citizen Kane, then I gave it up. I did not like it and could not understand what's the beauty in the movie.

50A: Chinese chairman: MAO. His famous quote: Studying hard, improving every day.

51A: Powerful ruler: EMP (EMPEROR)

52A: Novelist Bagnold: ENID

54A: Ms. Didrikson: BABE ZAHARIAS. An incredible all-around athlete. Voted Female Athlete of the Century by Sports Illustrated. She even sewed her own golfing outfits.

59A: Bit of info: DATUM

62A: Vena __ : CAVA: Latin: hollow vein. Look at the definition here.

68A: Deep-orange chalcedony: SARD.

Down entry:

1D: Pilgrimage to Mecca. HADJ. It's a variation on HAJ. HAJJ is a more popular spelling than HADJ. I wish the editor would put a Var mark besides the clue.

3D: Sea swallow: TERN

5D: Drooped: SAGGED

21D: Follow closely: TRACK.

22D: "Still me" writer: REEVE Never read it. I enjoyed very much Katharine Hepburn's autobiography Me. The letter she wrote to Spencer Tracy moved me to tears.

25D: Balance on the brink: TEETER.

26D: "The Egotists" author Fallaci: ORIANA. Did not know her. Here is an interesting tidbit for you from wikipedia: During her 1972 interview with Hentry Kissingerh, Kissinger agreed that the Vietnam War was a "useless war" and compared himself to "the cowboy who leads the wagon train by riding ahead alone on his horse". Kissinger later wrote that it was "the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press."

I guess Bush read this line, no, I take it back, he does not read, maybe Rove told him so, then he decided that he would refuse to admit making any mistake when confronted by the media. Wrong lesson, cowboy! But enjoy your own holiday in Tanzania!

27D: Friendliness: WARMTH

28D: Ski race: SLALOM

29D: Mexican party item: PINATA. I learned this word from a Torii Hunter TV commercial.

30D: Alloy for magnets: ALNICO. Unknown to me.

32D: Worn away unevenly: EROSE

37D: NYC arena: MSG (Madison Square Garden)

39D: Alamogordo headline word: A BOMB. The first atomic bomb test, 1945.

40D: Surmises to be true: SUSPECTS

41D: Gymnast Comaneci: NADIA. The first gymnast to be awarded a perfect 10 in Olympics.

46D: Enlarged (a hole): REAMED

47D: Cleaver of TV: BEAVER

48D: Let go of: UNHAND

53D: Muumuu or sack: DRESS

54D: Set on fire: BURN

55D: Hannibal's "Waterloo": ZAMA. Why the quotation mark in the clue?

57D: Soprano Gluck: ALMA

60D: Cobbler's tool: AWL

61D: Menlo Park initials: TAE (thomas Alva Edison)

Have a great week everyone.

C. C.


Anonymous said...


I enjoy watching your mind at work. This was an easy puzzle. You might try using "Google" as an aid to obtaining answers and building up your encyclopedic knowledge. "Alnico" for example is a bit of trivia known to guitar players because it's an alloy used in pickups on electric guitars.

Best Wishes,


Anonymous said...

You are smarter than President Bush? are still doing crosswords. That should tell you something.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Hi Barsoni,

Thanks for stopping by.

I was discussing with my husband earlier over breakfast that I had become a google queen.

I find myself getting better at Jeopardy in the past 2 weeks, so obviously googling has helped.

Thanks for the "Alnico" knowledge.


C.C. Burnikel said...

Anonymous at 10:29am,

Have you heard the old news that Bush was going to replace Will Shorts as the NY Times Crossword Editor? Go to Avant News Website, and read the piece by Ion Zwitter and do Bush's My Presidential Crossword. Hmm, he is SMART.

I don't even know how to insert a link to the article on this Comment section. I am NOT smart, obviously.

Ha ha.


Me&MyMonkey said...

I've been doing the Star-Trib puzzles for a while and tracking my times. In general, my times increase as the week progresses with the exception of Wednesday, which is my fastest. But the gradations from day to day are much less than the NYT.

I also do the NYT in the Star-Trib and look to Rex and Orange for help and guidance and it's good to see someone step up to the plate for the local paper.

Looking forward to seeing your improvement.

C.C. Burnikel said...


Thanks for sharing with me your experience.

I called the Tribune Media Service and was told that they had different editors for different day's puzzles.

As I told one reader earlier this morning via email, I noticed the similarities of the Monday clues and Sunday clues, like the Latin handle ANSA , which appeared both in today and yesterday's puzzle. I suspect it's the same editor. I could not get on his wavelength. Monday is always difficult for me.

I think my first breakthrough will be a Tuesday or Wednesday.


Anonymous said...

In the Chicago Tribune, this puzzle and the Jumble are in the "funny pages". I allow myself 30 minutes to do both - almost alway succeed. However the NYT puzzle in our Sun-Times becomes significantly more difficult as the week progresses, by Friday I'm usually in BIG trouble....

Anonymous said...

55D: Hannibal's "Waterloo": ZAMA. Why the quotation mark in the clue?

Hannibal did not fight at Waterloo, obviously. I guess they use quotation marks when it is meant figuratively.

Anonymous said...

Definitely a hard puzzle to crack without liberal use of google. Mostly it seems they get harder throughout the week, but sometimes they'll throw things like this at us :(

C.C. Burnikel said...

Anonymous 1:56,

I am so happy that you left a comment.

I've been worried that I am the only one who feels the Tribune Puzzle does not have the proper difficulty rating as the week progresses.

I've done 2 of Chicago Tribune's crossword (both Saturdays'). Your Editor slightly changes certain clues. That's nice.

As for NY Times, I cannot touch them after Thursday. I think one Friday the only blank I filled in is Sosa, then on Saturday, all I filled in is "s". Then I gave it up.

Orange introduced to me Newsday Puzzle, which you can download free of charge. It's quality puzzle. Hope you will give it a try.


C.C. Burnikel said...

Hugh Brown,

Thanks for coming back, and for the email.

Here is what defines Waterloo (besides Napoleon's Waterloo failure): A final, crushing defeat. Here is the example they give: The candidate met her Waterloo in the National Elections.

Therefore, I felt it's unnecessary to put a quotation mark, as Waterloo has grown out of its original meaning. No?


C.C. Burnikel said...


Yesterday: Bears Hall-of-Famers. Today: golfer/racer. Their names are not easy to spell I must say.

Forgot to ask Anonymous at 1:56pm how she/he did on yesterday's puzzle. Are those Bear names gimmes for you?


Anonymous said...

Shouldn't 32down be erode rather than erose?

C.C. Burnikel said...

No, it's "erose", which means uneven, as if gnawed away.

If you look at 43A: Clear tables, it has to be BUS.

Besides, "erode" is a Verb. The clue is adjective, which demands an adjective answer.


Anonymous said...

I might leave out the quotation marks for someone who is clearly not a soldier, as in your example The candidate met her Waterloo in the National Elections.

On the other hand, what could you say of Blucher's crushing defeat at Auerstadt in the Napoleonic Wars? He was the Prussian general at Waterloo. His "Waterloo" would not be Waterloo (where he won) but Auerstadt. I'd certainly be tempted to use quotation marks there.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Hugh Brown,

Good point.

Blucher's "Waterloo" is Auerstadt, Hannibel's "Waterloo" is Zama, both refer to the specific places.

Maybe when it refers the general idea of failure, then it does not need the quotation mark. Like Hillary's Waterloo is going to be in Texas.

C. C.