Mar 20, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008 Willy A. Wiseman

Theme: "CHICAGO"

20A: Local poet: CARL SANDBURG

32A: Start of a local sobriquet: CITY OF THE

40A: Part 2 of sobriquet: BIG

43A: End of a sobriquet: SHOULDERS

58A: Local collection: CHICAGO POEMS

First of all, define "local", am I supposed to call a dead Chicago poet as a hometown boy? This puzzle is tailor-made for the Chicago Tribune readers, not for us, Mr. who-cares-what-you-think Editor, you should have done some basic editing before you release it to our syndication papers.

I fought hard with every breath I took for this damned puzzle, and got absolutely no satisfaction after I was done with it, so irked by the unfairness of the clues.

You know what's shocking? I actually breezed through the ever-intimidating upper left corner today without any problem. And I nailed the lower left corner easily. But all the other areas are blanketed with "could be this, could be that" clues. I experienced tremendous difficulties committing answers to quite a few seemingly easy clues.

However, I do love how MOOLA parallels DINAR, and I appreciate the symmetry of LOBAR & INCUS. Nicely balanced. At least, you know the constructor put some thoughts into his work. And there is no obscure actor, or actress, or composer to frustrate me. So, that's good.

I also noticed three Middle East words appear in today's puzzle: UAR, DINAR, EILAT & two Japanese words: SAN & KOBE.

OK, without further ado, here we go:

4A: Fishhook features: BARBS. I enjoy every cutting barb Maureen Daud throws at Hillary.

9A: Wounded by a wasp: STUNG. Why do I have this intense interest in Client No. 9 and his collapse? I guess I am just worried that he might not be an exception but a norm in the upper echelons of our government. He just happened to be caught.

14A: Gun it in neutral: REV. Saw it before, never knew why. Here is Dick's explanation: "The speed of an engine is often defined as revolutions per minute thus the slang REV for speeding up the engine."

15A: Yep!: UH HUH. For a non-native speaker, these simple Uh Uh, Uh-Huh, Uh-Oh can be quite tough to grasp.

16A: Part of the plan: PHASE

17A: Dander: IRE I did not know the meaning of Dander, hence could not get the answer.

18A: Crystal-lined rock: GEODE. Saw it before.

19A: Distinctive atmosphere:s AURAE. The plural form could also be AURAS.

24A: Purify sea water: DESALT

30A: Team charm: MASCOT. I like those old college bobbleheads, 1960s, awesome.

38A: Honshu port: KOBE. Kobe beef is a luxury. Tongue in Kobe is Ichiro (Seattle Mariners)'s favorite food.

39A: Handlelike parts: ANSAE. ANSA is Latin for handle. Another interesting plural form.

41A: Israeli seaport: EILAT. Be careful with this word, as it could be also spelled as ELATH. But I am obsessed with HAIFA. Always want to fill in HAIFA whenever I see an Israeli port clue.

45A: Execrable: CURSED. I did not know the meaning of "Execrable".

49A: Forerunner of the CIA: OSS (Office of Strategic Services). Another repeat offender. But I will let you loose, do not have time to imprison every one of your fame-craved hag.

50A: Wayside shelter: SPITAL. Shelter on a highway. Never heard of it.

60A: Smackers: MOOLA. Have never heard of smackers being slangily used to mean money.

63A: Life and toss: HEAVE. I heaved several heavy groans of hopelessness over this puzzle.

65A: Kuwaiti cash: DINAR. Also the money unit in Iraq, Jordon, Libya, Bahrain, and a few other Middle East countries. Does "Dinar" mean Dollar in Arabic language, anyone?

66A: NYC theater awards: OBIES. Vacillated between TONYS and OBIES until AGAIN revealed itself.

68A: Heavy tread: CLOMP. Clump. Which is more commonly used?

69A: Last movement of sonata: RONDO. It escaped my mind this morning. It's "a work or movement, often the last movement of a sonata, having one principal subject that is stated at least three times in the same key and to which return is made after the introduction of each subordinate theme."

70A: Japanese honorific: SAN. I found out that San is also "a member of a nomadic, racially distinct, short-statured people of southern Africa." or river in Central Europe.

Down entries:

1D: Writer Jong: ERICA. The Fear of Fly author. Never read her books.

4D: Cartoon Bunny: BUGS

5D: Leading: AHEAD OF. I saw AHEAD clued as Leading often. I don't know, shouldn't the clue be reinforced by a preposition also? Or are you guys OK with the clue?

6D: European River: RHONE. Rhone originates from Alps in Switzerland and flows south into the Mediterranean through SE France. Rhine also originates from Alps, but it flows north into North Sea (through Germany and the Netherlands).

7D: Billy and Zola: BUDDS. Here is Zola BUDD the Track & Field sensation, here is Billy BUDD the novela by Herman Melville. I was not acquainted with either of them.

8D: Biblical land: SHEBA. I put SINAI.

9D: Laconian city: SPARTA. Nope. No idea.

11D: Egy.-Syr., once: UAR (United Arab Republic). Gimme for me. Nasser signed the treaty. UAE is United Arab Emirates which consists of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and 5 other states. We have a fellow TMS puzzle solver there in UAE. Hi.

12D: Govt. advisory grp.: NSA (National Security Agency). The eavesdropping agency. This is their insignia which consists of "a bald eagle facing its right, grasping a key in its talons, representing NSA's clutch on security as well as the mission to protect and gain access to secrets." I gather you do not abbreviate National Security Adviser as NSA?

13D: Turn right! GEE. Turn left: HAW

21D: Tripoli populace: LIBYANS. Remember Tripoli is also a seaport in Lebanon.

26D: Of the lungs: LOBAR

31D: Hit the road: SKIDDOO. Not familiar with this slang.

32D: Portland's bay: CASCO. No idea. (Update later: Casco Bay in Portland, Maine)

33D: Ear bone: INCUS. Nope.

34D: Winter Palace rulers: TSARS.

35D: One of Ted's stations: TBS. Does Turner still own this station? I thought he sold his shares of Time Warner long time ago.

36D: Royal address, in brief: HIH (His Imperial Highness; Her Imperial Highness.). I put HRM (Her Royal Majesty).

37D: Psyche part: EGO. Somehow I put ESP here earlier. I must be thinking of the Psychic.

44D: Lonely: UNLOVED. How can "not loved" become "lonely?". "Lonely" means lack of companionship. An army wife might be lonely when her husband leaves her and risks his life in Iraq, but she is not "unloved", isn't she? Did I miss something here?

46D: Also known as F.: E SHARP

47D: Printer letters: DPI (dots per inch)

51D: God's blood: ICHOR. No idea. It's "an ethereal fluid flowing in the veins of the gods." Greek mythology.

52D: Billy Blanks workout: TAE BO. Did not know who was Billy Blanks, and had no idea what was Tae Bo.

55D: clobbers: BELTS. Did not know that Belt could mean "hard blow".

56D: Missouri River port: OMAHA. Only know Omaha, NE. I have an autographed photo of the Oracle of Omaha (Warren Buffett).

60D: Sixteen hundred: MDC. Hmm. Who said "Can't wait til the roman numerals rear their ugly heads'' yesterday? Ha ha.

61D: Tin Man's cure-all: OIL. The Wizard of Oz, who does not like it?

62D: Lennon's Yoko: ONO. Wonder what Yoko is thinking of the $48 million Heather mills milked from Paul McCartney.

It's still dark outside now. And we are on the fringe of another several inches of snow. Please come quickly Spring! Bring me your warm sunshine and the sweet scent of freshly cut grass.

C. C.


Dennis said...

A real battle today. Got completely thrown off by the use of 'local'; local to whom?
Never, ever heard of 'spital'. Thought 'unloved' was extrememly weak for 'lonely'.
I've got answers for your questions, but I don't want to take up too much space here; I'll email you later, and you can use what you want.

Dick said...

Wow! 35 minutes, two reference books and a couple of Googles and I still needed your site to complete this one. I particularly disliked the clue for 30A which yielded MASCOT
CC here are some other meanings of execrable: utterly detestable; abominable; abhorrent.
I did not know the sobriquet and that posed big problems for me.
The speed of an engine is often defined as revolutions per minute thus the slang REV for speeding up the engine.

Dick said...

CC I think you got 16A and 17A mixed together. 16A is phase and 17A is ire.

C.C. Burnikel said...


I am glad you two struggled also. I was so worried that my brain had deteriorated in the last 24 hours. Could not get anything out in the middle. Spent 1 1/2 hours on the puzzle.


I've added your explanation on REV to the blog, and changed my mistakes over 16A & 17A. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, the powers that be for our Daily Press found the one by Wiseman too difficult too and replaced it w/one by Anderson today, which was maybe a 5 minute gig. Has this ever happened to any of you? I hope this isn't a permanent switch. Time will tell. Enjoy your day. I'm kind of glad to have missed the not-so-Wiseman today though from the sound of it. Have a good day.

Katherine said...

Good morning everyone. Yikes! I didn't do so good with this one. I couldn't get any of the puzzle from the middle on down, except moola, ono, and oil. I still don't know 58 across, what is the answer to that one? And spital as a wayside shelter???????

C.C. Burnikel said...


58A is a theme entry: Chicago Poems.

Dennis said...

Katherine - 58A is "Chicago Poems".

Dennis said...

At C.C.'s request, here's some more input:
Smackers is a slang term for money that I last heard sometime in the 60's.
Clomp is much more prevalent than clump.
I think 'ahead of' is ok without the preposition. At least, I was ok with it.
Skiddoo is from the '20s, '30s and '40s - was commonly used as "23 skiddoo" - no idea why.
Billy Blanks is of infomercial fame; he has a series of instructional videos on kickboxing and Tae Bo.
Belt is also an old term; we used to belt each other as kids.

Anonymous said...

Good morning, all.

I'm glad to see that I wasn't the only one who struggled. And, C.C., I had no idea that I could foresee these things! And, of course, I was totally stumped. I saw 60D and just had to chuckle to myself; and even moreso after reading your blog.

Local? Seriously? That just didn't work for me. Again, I have to agree with dennis re: the use of local and UNLOVED. And MASCOT could have been a result of a much better clue.

My head hurts . . . have a great day, everyone!

C.C. Burnikel said...


Yes, it happened before. I've got at least 2 emails regarding this issue in the past several weeks.

Normally the local newspaper editor does not do any change to the syndication puzzle, unless there is an egregious factual mistake.

Anderson is the author for yesterday's puzzle, I am surprised that he comes up again today in your paper.

1soni said...

My Arkansas Paper doesn't list the crossword puzzle as being from anywhere. So, local poet? I look at who did the puzzle? New York poet? Sobriquet? Plenty of ones for New York…Govt advisory group? Not more than one or two of them….
I agree that the clues could have used more work today. Thanks again CC for helping, I was going to send your link to the Irish Crowning Stone, but I didn’t want to be accused of sending out porn…..

Dr. Dad said...

Kind of goes along with Dennis yesterday saying a killer of a puzzle was coming. Spital? Ichor? Skiddoo? Hate to admit that I had to google some for this one. Incus for the ear is the anvil that you may have heard before (hammer, anvil, stirrup). Had to look up execrable to be able to get "cursed." Took 30 minutes (a bit long)to solve.

C.C. Burnikel said...


I kind of like 30A: Team charm: MASCOT.

What clue are you thinking of? I am interested to know.

1soni & drdad,

Do you think Dennis knows the editor? He set the tone very early on yesterday morning that "we are due for a killer".

And we just had a very difficult puzzle on Monday, how could Dennis know that another hard one was brewing?

Dennis said...

My self-study ESP course paid off?

Anonymous said...

32D: Casco
Portland = Portland, Maine
Casco = Casco Bay in Portland, Maine

Dick said...

Thanks Anonymous I had a one track mind and went right to Oregon and never thought about Maine. I also had Ted's station as CNN and that caused a few problems. Have a nice day. See you all tomorrow.

MH said...

I could not finish without help. I got all but the lower middle most of the puzzle was a struggle. It started out good and I was thinking "easy - all these 3 letter words...". Surprisingly I figured out the theme had something to do with Chicago by knowing that the puzzle originated in the Trib. Never heard of SPITAL, ICHOR, ANSAE. Figured out UNLOVED, SPARTA.

I've heard "don't get your dander up" meaning don't get angry or ired. Must come from the stuff that's in your hair but don't know why.

Smackers is pretty common slang for money. I note that whenever slang is used in a definition it usually means the word is also a slang word.

Sparta is a city from Greek history. Laconia is a prefecture of Greece.

skiddoo probably predates all of us. I've heard the phrase "23 skiddoo" which was used in the 1920's to mean hit the road. Most cogent explanation seems to be cops telling bums on 23rd St (NYC) to move along.

I ended up not liking this puzzle very much because of the large amount of slang and obscure words and definitions used.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Dennis et al,

Do you guys normally scan at the puzzle constructor' name before you do the puzzle?

I do, and I tend to freeze at seeing Alan P. Olschang's name because most of the time I do not understand what he is talking about in his Quote/Quip.

And I also found out that Philip Anderson's puzzles almost always appear on Wednesdays. Out of the 9 puzzles authored by him since Jan 21, only one appear on Monday. No wonder I feel Wednesday is the easiest. I've got his wavelength.

And today's constructor Wiseman, his puzzles tend to appear at the later days of the week (2 Friday, 1 Sunday and today).

Anonymous said...

The "local" thing bothered me, too. I figured it must be Chicago, given the source-- not that it helped me much.

I eventually gave up and came here to finish CASCO and INCUS. That finally filled in ANSAE and CURSED. Never heard of SPITAL, either. And what's with "Sixteen hundred" and nothing else for the clue? I figured it had to be Roman numerals, but hey, at least put "in Rome" or "to Caesar" or something!

Anonymous said...

The only good I got out of "spital" (shortened version of hospital, know idea where "roadside shelter" came from), I discovered the word, "spitchcock", an eel split and broiled. A great fictionary word!

Anonymous said...


I didn't really have a particular clue in mind, I just thought there could be a better one. Perhaps, "Temple's Owl" or something to that effect. :o)

Anonymous said...

33d I would have preferred the common term "anvil". Skidoo is also the name of a ghost town in Death Valley.

Dick said...

CC our paper never publishes the constructor's name so I never know until I see your blog.

MH said...

A couple of recommendations to readers of the blog:

1. While traveling I picked up a copy of "Great 30-Minute Crosswords" by Martin Ashwood-Smith, Raymond Hamel, Bob Klan, Rich Norris & Nancy Saolmon. There are 72 puzzles, and every one is well-crafted.

2. Noting the poll question regarding what instrument we use, I have to recommend the Ticonderoga SenseMatic. It looks like a standard yellow wood pencil but it's actually a mechanical pencil that automatically advances. It works much better than any mechanical pencil I have ever used and is also very inexpensive. They are hard to find but keep your eyes open when visiting office supply stores or get them on the web at

sallyjane said...

Hi, everyone!

Back in the Twin Cities after having been gone 3 weeks! It was good to be able to just open up the paper to get the puzzle!

I liked this one. Just tough enough for mid-week. When I saw the answer shaping up for 20A. CARLSANDBURG, I thought of the Chicago big shoulders thing. Only I thought it was CITY WITH THE BIG SHOULDERS. Wasn't he also the poet who described the fog as coming in on little cat's feet?

Couple of tricky spots for me, too. I was doing fine until I came to 31D. SKIDDOO. I do know this phrase, but the two D's threw me until I got the K in KOBE. Also have never heard of 50A. SPITAL or 51D. ICHOR. Had to look those up.

Make it a great day! Ciao!


Anonymous said...

50A - Webster's Third International (that's one of them big suckers) defines SPITAL as "An institution of a lower class than a hospital, for the aged or infirm. I don't see how the hell Willy got a wayside shelter out of that

52D - Who is Billy Blank. Google knew and it was tops of their list. It was also a lousy clue.

I had to look up about over 5 of them This was not one of my favorite puzzles.

jimhllrn said...

My paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer doesn't put themes of the puzzle in the paper. It would have been a big help today.
I would love to hear Willy's explanation of how he came up with and clue for 50A. Answer SPITAL

Razz said...

Location where constructor found 50A

C.C. Burnikel said...

Regarding clue 56D: Missouri River port: OMAHA. I thought there was a river port also named Omaha in the State of Missouri earlier when I wrote down the blog this morning, that's why I wrote "Only know Omaha, NE. I have an autographed photo of the Oracle of Omaha (Warren Buffett)."

Am I the only one who made this mistake?

Anon at 10:23am,

"Spitchcock" is the word of the day on this blog today! You've just given those constructors/potential constructors a great word to clue EEL.


I like your clue too.

Anonymous at 11:54am,

I think this constructor might have resorted to computer to help him build this grid. Orange (Amy Reynaldo) knows more about this stuff. Thanks for the additional information on the ghost town skiddoo.


You should call your local paper editor. The constructor's name should always be with the puzzle. It's essential.


Thanks for the information.

Are you able to finish those puzzles within the 30 minutes range?

Rich Norris is the Crossword Editor of LA Times, which is actually part of TMS syndications. TMS puzzles include LA Times, Daily (the one we are doing here), Commute, Jumble, the last three all edited by this Wayne Robert Williams guy.


"Wasn't he also the poet who described the fog as coming in on little cat's feet?"

This line looks very familiar, did you quote this to me before at the Comments section?

Anonymous at 1:44pm,

My Webster's College Dictionary has "Traveler's wayside shelter" definition.


Monday-Friday crossword theme is not published, in any paper. You have to divine yourself.

sallyjane said...


Hi! No,I don't think I quoted that line to you before. But the more I think about Sandburg, I do think it's one of his. It's amazing what stays in the far reaches of one's brain!



Anonymous said...


I'm fairly new to crosswords, I didn't realize that the authors name could make a big difference! Chicago doesn't give a theme or a name, or I can't tell if the name they give is from today's puzzle or yesterday's since they post it under the key from the day before.

Frankly, I'm still looking at the lower righthand corner of the puzzle confused. You didn't post the answers to 57D or 64A or 67A, all of which to be sure I did correctly I'll probably have to wait for tomorrows paper. It seems impossible to read as much as I do and never have seen some of these words.


Dennis said...

SallyJane, all I have left are the far reaches...

Dennis said...

Anonymous @ 3:53 -
57D is Essen, a frequent visitor to these crosswords.
64A is 'Las' - the 'head' word for Vegas.
67A is 'the' - almost always clued as 'definitive article'.
Hope this helps.

Lou Ann said...

Got so frustrated, I quit and cleaned my house.

Anonymous said...

I am from Chicago but still had some trouble since I didn't even know Carl Sandburg was from here and there were several words that I never heard of like Spital, Ansae, Casco, Incus, and execrable. Even "One Across" struggled a little when they usually get me right through, but in the end, it was not a hard puzzle. Those easy slang answers are what helped me breeze through most of it. Maybe they are more known from Chicago and that is why others struggled with them.

Anonymous said...

Hi again everyone I agree with c.c. that their were unfair clues after breezing thru mon tue and weds puzzles this one knocked me back down to earth who was it that said we were due for a tough one? hmmmmmmmmm kinds like wishing for snowstorms me thinks lol t/c eveyone and goodluck on friday the whoo

Jonathan Weiss said...

Spital (50A) is a truly obscure word - perhaps the most obscure I have ever seen in any puzzle - and I became a bit curious about it. The term is strictly British and survives in the language today only in place names (such as Spitelfields Market near London). It is apparently an Old or Middle English variation of the word hospital and means wayside shelter in the sense that hospitals in the middle ages served both to care for the sick and offer hospitality to travelers. With some googling I found a 19th century reference to this exact usage of the word in Vol. 33 of the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (thanks to the UK Archological Data Service)

"Besides being a receptacle for the sick and aged under the Monastery, the Spital was a Hospitium or Inn, ... for friars and other travellers in journeying from one cloister to another...."

Interestingly, in German as well, Spital is an outdated term meaning hospital (the modern German word being Krankenhaus), reflecting the common roots of our two languages.

MH said...

Hi CC,

Yes the puzzles in the Great 30-minute crosswords book take about 30 minutes. I really like this book because each puzzle is cross-checked by the other authors - it's sort of like a consortium - for accuracy, consistency, etc. I find them to be just hard enough to be challenging yet I can usually complete them without resorting to google or some other aid. I think these authors have other similar books, for example "Super 30-minute Crosswords" and "Challenging 30-minute Crosswords". The group calls themselves the CrosSynergy Syndicate.


sallyjane said...


I know what you mean!


sallyjane said...

I looked it up and Carl Sandburg wrote:

The Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Just like I remembered it. From junior high? Good grief!


Unknown said...

Greetings All,

This puzzle beat me. After working across, down, backwards and forwards I was still stumped on a few answers, so I put it down and came back later, hoping the muse would then be upon me, but it was no soap on this one.

There were more obscure words in this puzzle than I've seen here in a while. But that's fair, and it's how you expand your skills.

My only real complaint with Mr. Wiseman is his clue for 51D: "God's blood." His use of the singular possessive makes it sound like he is referring to "the blood of God;" however, Ichor was the blood of all the ancient Greek gods, so it surely would have been more appropriate to use the plural possessive, "Gods' blood," in the sense of "blood of the Gods." His clue is technically correct, since he could be referring to one of the Greek Gods, but in my opinion it needlessly misleads the solver into thinking that he is referring to a monotheistic God, and this is clue is obscure enough already.

Congratulations to all the successful solvers, and to those, like me, who fell short of success, Better luck tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Boy I really struggled today! I had no idea what a sobriquet was, so how could I know parts 1,2 &3? For also known as F, I thought I was brilliant thinking of F.Murray Abrams from Amadeus, which meant wayside shelter became B-motel. I knew Anvil was wrong thanks to the repeat offender OSS. Oh, and I tried Skidded, not skidoo. Glad I'm in good company

Anonymous said...

PS I thought of 'Las' for 'Vegas head' but I was sure 'clobber' was 'beats'

Unknown said...

very hard. birmingham paper doesn't publish theme nor constructor. ANSAE? SITAL? RONDO? LOBAR? SOBRIQUET? what the...? i know i'm from the South, but give me a break. we don't use those words down here LOL

Little Lj said...

Man, I'm always the last to comment! Work has got really busy so I have to wait until I get home to do the crossword!

i totally tanked this one too.. local threw me off as it did everyone. I was adamant 'Ear bone' was ANVIL for the longest time. Probably because I was so pleased with myself for recalling the three common names of the inner (?) ear bones, that I refused to believe it could be anything else. Was upset to finally give up and white it out.

I laughed about the Roman Numerals too, but I managed to remember them without a cheat sheet! I think I'm getting better.. MKat, are you finding this way gives you more practice?

Good luck for tomorrow everyone!!

C.C. Burnikel said...


I echo your opinion on ICHOR.

Little lj,

People do read yesterday's comments when they come back for the new puzzle.

Anonymous said...

""Besides being a receptacle for the sick and aged under the Monastery, the Spital was a Hospitium or Inn, ... for friars and other travellers in journeying from one cloister to another...."

Interestingly, in German as well, Spital is an outdated term meaning hospital (the modern German word being Krankenhaus), reflecting the common roots of our two languages.

March 20, 2008 6:51 PM"

I was wondering when someone was going to comment on the German connection. "Spital" is still used for hospital in some dialects, and I have heard some speakers use "Spital" for a youth hostel as well - which makes sense, consdiering some of them are little more than roadside shelters. :-)

I felt SO much better knowing that some really smart people had trouble with this one. And when i saw that Wiseman was from NY, I assumed he meant local in NY, not Chicago. What a messy puzzle this was for me! - Millie

Anonymous said...

I was also gonig to say that "skiddoo" also led to "skedaddle". I haven't heard those for a while. I love coming across words like these in the puzzles because they make me feel like I have actually been listening my whole life, since I remember hearing them before.

C.C. Burnikel said...


I don't know if anybody here actually speaks German. Are you from Germany? How do you know that Wiseman is from New York?

Anonymous at 4:32pm,

Thanks for leaving a comment.

findn said...

Great comments, I had to google way too much. At least I don't feel as lax in the head as I did when I finished the clues I knew.

C.C. Burnikel said...


Thank you for leaving a comment. Seems like you have a long lag behind us.