Mar 24, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008 Diane C. Baldwin

Theme: Location Phrases

21A: Special clique: INNER CIRCLE

47A: Strained boundaries, maybe: OUTER LIMITS


30D: Sleeper car option: LOWER BERTH

Very symmetrical theme entries. Nice & easy! I polished it off in probably 20 minutes, cheated only once for TORS.

Grid Analysis:

Size: 15*15

Total Word counts: 78. This has reached the maximum word counts for a Monday to Friday themed puzzle. For your information, the maximum word counts is 72 for themeless Saturday puzzle, 142 for Sunday's themed (and titled) 21*21 puzzle.

Total black squares: 36

Across clues:

1A: Faithful: TRUE. Faithful? How about "Unfaithful"? I love this Diana Lane/Richard Gere movie. The Ai Du (Ali Farka music) is featured in the bathtub scene, very exotic and erotic.

10A: Whiskey spritz: SODA

15A: Wide-eyed: NAIVE. I put AGAPE first.

16A: Zenith: APEX. I put ACME first.

18A: Gun-toting: ARMED

19A: Slammer unit: CELL

26A: Theatre angel: BACKER. Why British spelling? No need here!

28A: Short-changed: SWINDLED

42A: Regarded highly: ESTEEMED

46A: Chocolate substitute: CAROB. Have never had this before. I hate all kinds of ersatz food substitutes.

55A: Political coalition: BLOC. One thing I would advocate is to change CIA's Assassination Manuel. Just gun down the halfwit Ahmadinejad, his hard-line conservative bloc will be automatically dismembered. Easy crumble! No need for another war.

56A: Archie Bunker's wife: EDITH

58A: Part of RPI: INST (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

62A: Iditarod rides: SLEDS. Its terminus is NOME.

Down entries:

5D: More ridiculous: INANER

7D: Soil sweetener: LIME. No idea. Only Miracle Growth for our garden.

9D: Mao's bailiwick: RED CHINA

10D: Sanctified: SACRED

12D: Small valley: DELL

21D: Dangerous time for Caesar: IDES. IDES of March. In Roman calendar, ides can also be the 15th of May, July or October.

28D: Sturdy: SOLID. I put STOUT first.

29D: Bit of weakling: WUSS

37D: Assortment offering: SAMPLERS

41D: High rocky hills: TORS. Did not know this word.

44D: Sympathetic sorrow: PATHOS. Here is the definition: PATHOS is a quality that evokes sympathy, sorrow. Interesting, here is another word: BATHOS. It's defined as "A false or overdone pathos that is absurd in its effect." Can anyone give me an example?

46D: Referenced: CITED. Don't foist upon me any words that cannot be referenced in my dictionary, no more ATIP please!



Dennis said...

Good mornng, C.C.
Absolutely blew through this one this morning; seemed like a true Monday puzzle - no obscure references, no long-dead actresses, etc. Still don't like "inaner" -- it may be correct, but I've only heard "more inane" in use.
Hope it's a great Monday for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Good morning,

I, too, thought this was a typical Monday and finished it without too many issues. However, is 39A really "HES"? If that's the case, then I dislike that clue along with "INANER".

Have a great day!

C.C. Burnikel said...

Hi Dennis,

I don't like the RED CHINA clue. Maybe for Americans, Mao's China is Red China, but for a Chinese growing up in Mao's rule, China is China. "Red" has a very negative connotation.
So does this word "Communist". CNN's Lou Dobb simply can not mention China's name without bringing up Communist.


39A is HES.

Dennis said...

C.C. - I understand your point - kind of like saying "Democratic America". However, "Red China" is what most of us grew up with, and it'll probably take a long time to disappear from usage.
Hi, mkatesq - you're right, "hes" is another weak one.

C.C. Burnikel said...


It's more like "Capitalist" America, than "Democratic" America.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Below is a comment from Eubin in another entry. I hope you guys can answer his/her questions.

"Hi CC,

This is Eubin again. I am in Taipei, solving the crossword puzzle appearing in Taipei Times. I guess the newspaper buys the puzzle from the US. Because of the time difference, I can always play the puzzle at least 8 hours earlier than you do, but I am not at all proud or anything. I always feel clueless even though I understand the clues. I have two questions: (a) how do you figure out the theme of each puzzle? Is there a school of study on crossword puzzle? (b) Do you have any special tips for deciphering the clues? Again, thank you for your information in your blog, I can always learn a lot.

March 24, 2008 6:24 AM

Dick said...

I thought this puzzle was too easy even for a Monday. Only problem was I used AGAPE for 15A before seeing any of the down answers. Also, I did not like INANER and I have seen HES used so often it doesn't bother me anymore. Hope everyone had a good Easter.

Dr. Dad said...

15 minutes for today's puzzle. Like a lot of you I didn't like inaner but it is in the dictionary. To Eubin: I figure out the theme by looking at the longest answers and finding something common to all of them. Today had upper, lower, etc. Deciphering clues comes from just working across and down, sometimes simultaneously. Others work specific sections - upper left, upper right, etc. I think it depends on what works for them. I think some get a handle on it because they are familiar with the authors. There may be a school of study for crosswords - there's one for just about anything these days. I just started reading these blogs and have learned a lot from everyone. Thanks to C.C. for having the site.

Katherine said...

Good morning to all. I got a late start today. This one took me 10 minutes and I got them all. But I did put in agape at first, and men for "guys". CC, I will miss your morning comments on the puzzle. I enjoyed reading that.
Have a great day everyone.

Dick said...

I agree with Katherine about enjoying your early morning comments. Hope you will reconsider.

NYTAnonimo said...

Good morning c.c. I like the changes you've made-you are really working hard on this blog!

The only person I know who went to school for "puzzling" is Will Shortz who holds a degree in Enigmatology from Indiana University. (See link here for tongue in cheek expose about him.)

The best way to learn themes is to practice and check out blogs like yours that explain the theme when you don't understand or it goes right over your head (like St. Patrick's Day puzzle for me-LOL!).

Thought of you yesterday when I read an article in the NYT Magazine called "Mixed Messenger" about Obama's candidacy-it talks about race vs. ethnicity. It's a short read and you can find it here.

Took me longer than it should have to complete this and the NYT Monday puzzle. Wasn't sure what RPI stood for-Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute but eventually got it. Not too much crosswordese in here-nice Monday puzzle.

Hope you all have a great day too!

1soni said...

Found something interesting this morning. My local paper carries the Trib, but I'm out of town and went to the paper website. When I clicked on the crossword link, it took me to a different puzzle than the one published in the paper. Dated today, no author listed, but had a theme (Running Scared)

Anonymous said...


I have to admit that I enjoy reading your morning comments as well. I hope you'll reconsider and put them back in your blog. For me, it was part of the draw to reading your blog everyday. :o)


MH said...

This one was fast and easy for me this morning. No words I didn't know - even INANER & HES didn't slow me down. I also liked the symmetry of the theme.

CC, you're right about China. "Red China" is a leftover from the cold war days and should be removed from the American lexicon.

I commented in your prologue that I too like your lead-in comments - please reconsider.

jimhllrn said...

i thought I had RPI nailed when I put INCH in and then I went to the down stuff and when 'r' appeared I had to turn my pencil over and believe it or not, the first answer that came to mind was INST. Taa Daa
I agree with 'mkatesq' about HES and INANER. I can't imagine anyone describing anyone or thing as INANER.

C.C. Burnikel said...


Good link on the Obama piece. In case you do not know, Tyler Hinman (the genius crossword champion) graduated from RPI.

Thanks for the emails also. I enjoyed every one of them. I laughed out loud at this line:

"There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple". English is indeed not easy. French is worse I think. Hate those feminine and masculine forms.


I don't know which newspaper you are working on. But I suspect that you local paper's website is carrying a Universal Crossword Syndication edited by Timothy Parker. The theme is always given. Why don't you go to Chicago's Tribune's website for today's puzzle??

And everybody else,

Thanks for your kindness. Maybe I will bring back the "Struggle" in a few weeks.

In the meantime, I am very interested in this grid structural intricacies. And I hope we can explore it together. It'll be fun.

Anonymous said...

(AlohaSpirit in Seattle here)

CC: I would love for you to reconsider. I'm just getting to know you...e.g., I thought you were a man, know I think you are a woman (it doesn't matter to me). I appreciate you sharing your struggles. I can relate. I'm a little confused by you saying that you think differently. Somewhere I thought you said you were Asian maybe? Regardless, I hope you'll reconsider.

Daily I look forward to coming here after finally finding somewhere to go to put myself out of misery and appreciate your commentary along with everyone else's.

Onto the puzzle. I did something different today. Because of you, CC, I decided to do the daily online (I first ripped it out of the paper). It took about 15 minutes to do what I could which was about 3/4s. I then went to the online version and plugged everything I had in there. Hubby woke up and gave me 7D. Soil sweetener. My first thought "loam" (what the heck is that? I'll look up later); for 30D I put "lowerbunks" and the online didn't like it. I looked at other clues, filled them in, and 'berths' began to appear. whew!

For 3D I put 'upperclass', then 'uppercrest'...finally after figuring out 36A I had the correct word. 58A I put 'inch' too.

Only 'googled' once for some stupid clue for 57D Mule's sire. The minute the photo came up, I thought, 'duh', ASS. Argh!

All in all, it was definitely a Monday puzzle and a bit easier. If I would give myself more than 5 minutes and a sip of coffee before I started, it might help.

CC and everyone...thank you so much for being here. I look forward to checking in every day. Know you are appreciated! Have a wonderful spring morning!

lib said...

Fast and furious puzzle stumbles. Enjoy reading the comments from all...many make my day!

1soni said...


I do usually go to the Trib site, but I was catching up on the home news in Little Rock and saw the crossword link and clicked it this morning.

I felt like I've seen the puzzle before with keywords like "witchhunt" Skeletonstaff" and "Ghosttown"

I agree with the others. Anyone can post the answers, but what makes your blog interesting is your observations and comments along with the solutions.

Thanks again

sallyjane said...

C.C., I love your blog just the way it is - please don't leave your personal comments or frustrations out.

I don't like INANER either, but I'm ok with HES. That one's been around a long time. Otherwise, no complaints about a typical Monday puzzle.


C.C. Burnikel said...

Thank you for all the comments.

Strangely, INANER, HES do not bother me at all. The dictionary says Inane, Inaner, Inanest.

It's the made-up word like ATIP that vexes the hell out of me.


I am a Chinese. A she.

Anonymous said...

Hey... I found this cheat sheet when looking for 26A - Theatre angel... I'm from India and the crossword appeared in today's Delhi Times for me... Everything else fits in... And I agree with one comment - Inaner?? Wasn't quite sure of that one!! Ditto 39A - Guys = Hes?? Dunno. Really. *puzzled looks* And yeah, I too put in 'Agape' the first time around for 15A - Wide-eyed. Ofcourse, this comment reaches you far too late... But what the heck!! :) Cheers!

C.C. Burnikel said...

Thanks for the comment. We have quite a few fellow solvers in India. Hope you guys can all chime in.