, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: July 2008


Jul 31, 2008

Thursday July 31, 2008 Alan P. Olschwang

Theme: In Praise of Flattery

18A: Start of Samuel Johnson quote: JUST PRAISE

28A: Part 2 of quote: IS ONLY A DEBT

49A: Part 3 of quote: BUT FLATTERY

64A: End of quote: IS A PRESENT

From "The Rambler" # 155.

I have difficulty grokking this rambling quote. Samuel Johnson did think FLATTERY was more superior than PRAISE, right? I am simply so confused by the weird grammatical structure of "JUST PRAISE IS ONLY A DEBT". It sounds so wrong.

Not a bad puzzle, I like the lower middle part: SURGE, TEASER, GAZA, ZETA & GALLANTS, all quality fills.

I suspect our editor changed the EASING/SOFTENING corner of the grid, just as he did to Barry Silk's puzzle yesterday. This Olschwang might be a boring QUIP/QUOTE guy, but he is too professional to clue 2 ING's fills with 2 ING's clues: EASING (34A: Palliating) & SOFTENING (35D: Toning down). Very unpleasant eyesores.


5A: Banned orchard spray: ALAR. Wikiepedia says it's banned in 1989.

9A: Woo: COURT. Here is "How to Woo a Girl".

16A: "Lou Grant" star: ASNER (Ed). Learned his name from doing Xword. Have never seen "Lou Grant".

20A: Waste maker?: HASTE. And 52D: SWIFT (Speedy)

23A: Attends: GOES. Is "Attends" a good clue to you? I don't like seeing 2 GO'es in the puzzle. See 38D: Elapse: GO BY

24A: Model Macpherson: ELLE. She is beautiful. FLAB-u-less! (48A: Love handle).

33A: Hot time in Le Havre: ETE. Le Havre is here.

41A: Hosp. readout: ECG (Electrocardiogram). What's the difference between ECG & EKG?

43A: Cowboy's showcase: RODEO. What a daring RODEO Girl!

44A: People with pad: STENOS. Very interesting anagram: NOTES.

56A: Draw breath: LIVE. I had difficulty breathing seeing this clue.

58A: "Eyeless in ___": GAZA. Not familiar with this novel. GAZA strip yes, and the Golen Heights. I used to vodka him.

70A: Back of the neck: NAPE


4D: Eavesdrops: LISTENS IN

6D: Honored poet: LAUREATE. Who is your favoirte poet?

10D: Missouri feeder: OSAGE

19D: West point beginner: PLEBE. Also the first-year student at Navy Academy/Marine Military Academy. How come they named those freshmen as PLEBES?

42D: Gents: GALLANTS. Always thought GALLANT was an adjective only. Dictionary explains that GALLANT can also be a verb, meaning "To woo or pay COURT (to a lady)".

45D: Puzzling problem: TEASER

51D: Dam-building grp: TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority). Learned this acronym from doing Xword also. I have no idea what their responsibilites were/are.

53D: Desert greenery: OASIS. Plural is OASES.

54D: Refrain syllables: TRA LA. Crossword fills can be so whimsical, TRA, TRA LA, TRA LA LA.

55D: Too high-strung: HYPER. Here is the entrance to the French HYPERmarket Carrefour in Beijing.

59D: Greek letter: ZETA. This ZETA is Gorgeous.


Jul 30, 2008

Wednesday July 30, 2008 Barry Silk

Theme: Equines

17A: Root of bitterness?: HORSERADISH

24A: 1966 Wilson Pickett hit: MUSTANG SALLY

36A: Sobriquet for Stallone: ITALIAN STALLION

48A: Colorado pro: DENVER BRONCO

58A: Mail system. 1860-61: PONY EXPRESS

Hmm, where are the MOUNT, STEED, COLT, FILLY & STUD?

I should not NAG.

This is a beautiful puzzle. The first pangram grid I've ever solved - all letters of the alphabets are used. I wonder if anyone has constructed an "HORSE" rebus puzzle before. Wouldn't that be interesting to decode?

The only flaw I saw is the clue for ROAN (29D: Motley horse), since HORSE is part of the theme answer (17A).

Figured out the theme very earlier on, which helped me fill in several otherwise unobtainable fills.

Had a few absent-minded flirting with Google. I still can not believe SCHISGAL (10D) is an actual name.


1A: Woody Allen movie: ZELIG. Not familiar with this mockumentary. I had ZEL?G for a long time. I like Woody Allan's "Annie Hall" & "Hannah and Her Sisters".

11A: Parts of gals: QTS

15A: Swiss canton: URI. Have not seen the "Mentalist Geller" clue for a long time.

21A: Laptop surfer's connection: WIFI. I've never used WIFI connection. Is it very quick?

22A: "The White Album" track: I WILL. Here is Paul McCartney's "I WILL". Not a familiar song to me.

27A: Color bands: STRIPES. This word and the EQUINES theme brings a Zebra to my mind.

30A: Safecracker: YEGG. Where did we get this strange word "YEGG" for a burglar?

32A: Elizabeth of "Lone Star": PENA. I don't know her. I do know this PENA. I own this card.

33A: Sch. in Lexington: VMI (Virginia Military Institute). Unknown to me. My answer was VMU until the very end.

43A: __ de vie (clear brandies): EAUX. An educated guess. I had EAU? in place, and letter "X" is the only choice since the clue is in plural form (EAUX is the plural of EAU).

45A: Steals, as livestock: RUSTLES. I like this answer and the clue. Could picture someone stealing a HORSE in the middle of the night.

53A: Exchange fee: AGIO. It appeared on last Sunday's puzzle.

67A: Nixon's Agnew: SPIRO. He got a good speech writer in William Safire. I don't think he himself would have come up with this alliterative term "Nattering nabobs of negativism".


1D: TV journalist Paula: ZAHN. I kind of like her replacement Campbell Brown at CNN. Paula ZAHN is also a great cellist (played at Carnegie Hall before.)

2D: Smack addition: EROO. or "Switch addtion". AROO is "Buck addition".

3D: Front-runners: LDRS (Leaders). Still have difficulty accepting this abbreviation.

4D: Island near Naxos: IOS. Big stumper for me. Wikipedia says Homer is said to be buried on IOS Island.

10D: "Luv" dramatist: SCHISGAL (Murray). Unknown to me. Wikipedia says Mike Nichols directed the Broadway play and ALAN Arkin & ELI Wallach were in the original cast.

11D: Chickenlike bird: QUAIL. This California QUAIL looks fearless.

12D: Fairy-tale toll collector: TROLL. Why "toll collector"? Wow, look at this amazing TROLL Doll collection. Some of the original Norweigian TROLLS are so beautifully ugly, with real wood.

13D: Half-baked: SILLY. New to me. I always thought of "Half-baked" as in "Not well cooked".

24D: Pepper grinder: MILL. See this antique MILL machinery, very different from my childhood MILL memory.

25D: Putin's refusal: NYET. DADA means "Yes, yes" in Russian. "Ya tebya lyublyu" is "I love you". So complicated. Vodka sounds much better. I vodka you.

26D: Actress Rowlands: GENA. I've never heard of her before.

32D: Ltr. addenda: PSS. Quite a few abbreviations in today's grid.

33D: Perfume holder: VIAL. Beautiful enamelled perfume VIALS. In great condition. I like the rosebuds & the butterfly in the middle. Very pretty.

34D: Pouting face: MOUE. Clear Ayes' "Self-depreciating/deprecating MOUE" really made me laugh last time.

35D: "Devil Inside" group: INXS (pronounced as In Excess). Had never heard of them before.

37D: Worldwide police grp.: INTERPOL. It's headquartered in Lyon, France. I feel sad for their finanical woes.

38D: Violinist Leopold: AUER. The Hungarian violinist. Have seen this clue 2 times before.

39D: Plane-crash grp.: NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board). Here is what Dennis said last time: "The FAA establishes the safety guidelines/rules, and the NTSB comes into play when something goes wrong. If you're a pilot, you never wanna hear from the NTSB."

40D: Apollo's mother: LETO. Gimme!

46D: Trademark DOS: UNIX. Developed by the Bell Labs.

48D: French mustard: DIJON. Here is a jar of HORSERADISH DIJON for you. Sounds good for potato salad.

51D: Spoked: RAYED. Had no idea that "spoke" can also be a verb.

54D: Lucie's dad: DESI (Arnaz). This "Job Switching"(Chocolate factory) Barbie is a probably one of the most sought-after Mattel dolls.


PS: Barry Silk's original clue for ROAN is "Multicolored equine". Our editor also made 2 big changes on the grid: the upper middle part and the lower right. See here for the grid and the clues.

Jul 29, 2008

Tuesday July 29, 2008 Edgar Fontaine

Theme: HUH (2D: Whazzat?)


26A: "Twelfth Night": WHAT YOU WILL


50A: Alfred E. Neuman line: WHAT, ME WORRY

61A: Streisand film: WHAT'S UP, DOC

Sub-theme: "The Sound of Music"

15A: Opera star: DIVA

22A: Prima donna's number: ARIA

23A: Notes of scales: FAS

31A: Refrain syllable: TRA

68A: Yamaha product: PIANO

3D: Lyrical Gershwin: IRA

6D: Lyric poem: ODE

30D: NYC opera house: MET. Techinically it's "The MET", isn't it?

Great puzzle. I like the grid. I simply adore puzzles with a running-through theme answer (39A). They fit my eyes. I also like how the constructor tied in the theme title HUH (2D) to the grid. Very clever, awesome "Whazzat"? clue.

Many WHAT* phrases can fit in a 15*15 grid, for example:

WHAT a cry baby!

WHAT a drag!

WHAT's the problem?

WHAT's the point?

WHAT's the meaning of this?

WHAT did you think I meant?

WHAT else?

It's a pity that MAD (46A: Insane) was not clued as the "Humor Magazine". It would have been a wonderful parallel to 50A: WHAT, ME WORRY. Maybe our editor changed the constructor's original clue. Who knows?


19A: Get-up: TOGS. Why is TOGS always in plural form? I am very confused by these clothing words: get-up, attire, apparel, dress, outfit, duds and clothes. I can never tell which one is plural and which is singular.

21A: "The Lord of Rings" baddie: ORC. Are you a Tolkien fan?

33A: Delhi attire: SARIS. Three ways to wear a SARI. The spelling of "Delhi" is very baffling to me, so is Gandhi and Lhasa, very whimsical silent "h" position.

44A: "Easy ___": RIDER. I enjoyed this clip last week.

45A: Irish Republic: EIRE

55A: Ipanema locale: RIO. Very interesting "The Girl from Ipanema"clip. Who is your favorite Bond girl?

57A: Rhine tributary: AAR. Or AARE, the Swiss river.

66A: Mark ___ -Baker: LINN. No idea. Obtained his name from the down clues.

69A: Sundance's girlfriend: ETTA. Great movie. I like Robert Redford. He is "The Natural" and he always lives what he has dreamed.


4D: Charlie Brown's exclamation: RATS. I have this bobblehead.

7D: Swivel: PIVOT

11D: New Zealand Polynesian: MAORI. Only learned this morning that the word MAORI means "ordinary people" in the native language.

12D: Potter's clay: ARGIL. No idea. Dictionary says it's mostly "a white clay used by potters". ARG(os) is a Latin prefix meaning "white". "ARG" means "angry" in Swedish/Norwegian languages, very interesting.

23D: Islamic ruling: FATWA

24D: Hi, on HI: ALOHA. "on HI"? Not "in HI"?

25D: Twilled silk fabric: SURAH. Or SURAT. New word to me. I found out that SURAH is also an alternative spelling of SURA (the Koran chapter). Odd!

28D: Major in astronomy?: URSA. I like this clue.

34D: French soul: AME. Anima/Animus in Latin.

37D: Wispy clouds: CIRRI. Singualr is CIRRUS (Latin for "a lock, curl, tendril"). Saw this clue somewhere before.

41D: Retreat: HIDEAWAY. Indeed, a beautiful place for a HIDEAWAY.

42D: Do-over service: LET. The tennis call.

46D: Sicilian spouter: MT ETNA. Ha, this one had me confused for quite sometime. Shouldn't the clue has some hint to indicate an abbreviated MT?

48D: Bellicose deity: ARES. Mars for the Romans.

50D: Marine mammal: WHALE. Thar she blows!

51D: Daily routine: HABIT. "...You could have a big dipper. Going up and down, all around the bends...I've kicked the HABIT....I've been feeding the rhythm. It's what we're doing, doing, all day and night". For Melissa.

53D: Large mackerel: WAHOO. Also called Peto. New to me. Pretty big.

54D: Borneo ape, briefly: ORANG. What are you thinking?

62D: Crumpet complement: TEA. I have not eaten CRUMPETS for ages.

65D: Kind of lettuce: COS. Romaine lettuce. My favorite.


Jul 28, 2008

Monday July 28, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: "You People Are All Animals"

18A: WWII fleet admiral: BULL HALSEY

56A: One-time Crimson Tide chief: BEAR BRYANT

3D: Author of "How I Play Golf": TIGER WOODS

30D: "Peace Train" singer: CAT STEVENS

Vaguely heard of 30D, TIGER WOODS was gimme as I own the book. Not familiar with 18A & 56A.

Very fascinating puzzle, with a few obscure animal names though. I was just reading KITTY Kelley's "Jackie O" last night. Her name, plus TIGER Woods and CAT Stevens can be easily constructed into a "Feline'" themed puzzle. TIGER's full name is so theme answer friendly, with the WOODS, you know, add FORREST Gump, Lefty GROVE, you've got another solid "Tree" related puzzle. (Addendum: I was wrong on FORREST, wrong spelling, can you think of a real person whose name has "FOREST" in it?)

Many interesting names came to my mind earlier:

WOLF Blitzer: (CNN's "The Situation Room")

Dick WOLF ("Law & Order" producer)

Joe BUCK (Fox Sports)

Pearl S. BUCK ("The Good Earth" author)

BUCK O'Neil (the Great Negro League Baseball Player)

Matthew FOX ("Lost")

Michael J FOX ("Spin City")

Can you think of other similar names?


17A: Hindu music: RAGA. Literally "color' in Sanskrit language. Plus RAVI Shankar & SITAR, that's all you need to know about Indian music/musician/musical instrument.

20A: Whitecaps: CRESTS. Had big trouble here. I did not know the meaning of "Whitecaps" and could not figure out TORC (1D) either.

22A: Croquet sticks: MALLETS. New to me. I had no idea that the stick is called MALLET. Is it a special term for croquet only?

24A: Retro VW: BEETLE

26A: ___ Decimal System: DEWEY. This DEWEY stumped me big time in an early Feb puzzle, the one with the tough SERAC (Crevasse pinnacle) and the THAR (Whale's location) fills. I still don't understand "THAR she blows". Where does this phrase come? What's the exact meaning of THAR? Why "she blows" rather than "he blows"?

29A: British racecourse: ASCOT. Long history (since 1711).

34A: Fierce mythical bird: ROC. ROC in "Sinbad the Sailor" . It eats elephant. Must have gigantic eggs.

35A: Admission conduit: INTAKE. Pure guess. I've never heard of INTAKE valve before.

36A: Bill's partner?: COO

37A: Satisfying returns: REWARDS. Interesting crossing with BLOW (24D: Hard punch).

47A: Spiny-finned fishes: GOBIES. Foreign to me. He looks very ADDLED (50A: Confused). Wikipedia says most of GOBIES are less than 4-inch long, but some exceptionally large ones can reach over 1 foot in length.

49A: Shoshone: UTE. I always confuse "Shoshone" with "Gumshoe", which is often the clue for TEC. What does "Shoshone" mean exactly?

61A: Large auk: MURRE. Not familiar with "Auk" the bird, somehow Ayveq's large oosik slided right into my unconsious mind. Wikepedia says it's of genus URIA. Hmm, that's one curious observer.


1D: Celtic neck-ring: TORC. Stranger to me. Dictionary defines TORC as "a collar, necklace, or similar ornament consisting of a twisted narrow band, usually of precious metal, worn esp. by the ancient Gauls and Britons." He is wearing a golden TORC. That's a rather dreamy & unfocused look.

7D: Hooter: OWL. Here is Picasso's OWL. So simple!

9D: Enlightened Buddhist: ARHAT. No idea. I only know it's called Luo han (羅漢) in Chinese. It refers to "a Buddhist who has attained Nirvana through rigorous discipline and ascetic practice. ARHAT is Sanskrit for "He deserves" (Present participle of arhati). "Zen enlighttnment" is SATORI.

19D: Ramsay and Pinkerton: ALLANS. Knew Pinkerton, not Ramsay. Worked for Pinkerton China for a few years.

21D: Cracker Jack bonus: TOY. Look at this amazing 1915 Cracker Jack Honus Wagner card. I have a reprint.

25D: Coop flier: ESCAPEE. So many slangs for prison.

31D: Giraffe cousin: OKAPI. Completely unknown to me. Her neck is rather short. Wikipedia says OKAPI has very long blue tongue (about a foot long), which enable it to "wash its eyelids and clean its ears: it is one of the few mammals that can lick its own ears".

37D: Take up again: RESORB. I wanted RESUME. I had never heard of "RESORB" before.

34D: Cabernet, e.g. RED. And REDS (38D: 1990 W.S. champions). Cincinnati Reds. I dislike RED & REDS appear in the same grid. MARGE Schott, the extremely eccentric owner for the Reds, is a good candidate for "Simpson" themed puzzle too.

41D: Shackle: LEG IRON

43D: Coin-op eatery: AUTOMAT. No, nope, no idea.

48D: Road shoulders: BERMS

52D: Horse do: MANE. Boy, this was a very tricky clue for me. I spent a few minutes musing what the horse wanted to do.


Jul 27, 2008

Sunday July 27, 2008 Josiah Breward

Theme: Just One of Those

23A: Wish me luck!: HERE GOES NOTHING

34A: Stop what you're doing: DROP EVERYTHING

55A: Vigorously: LIKE ANYTHING

80A: No holds barred: ANYTHING GOES

94A: All the bells and whistles: EVERYTHING ON IT

114A: Not directed at you: NOTHING PERSONAL

16D: A Skeleton in the closet: SOMETHING TO HIDE

43D: Approximate age: THIRTYSOMETHING

Out of those 8 theme answers, I had trouble understanding 80A & 55A. "No holds barred" was not a familiar phrase to me. I might have heard of the expression "LIKE ANYTHING" before, but I had never bothered to check what it means.

I go to dictionary for help only if the new word is long, complicated and exotic looking. "LIKE ANYTHING" just sounds too simple for me to spend extra energy to find its exact definition. Lots of nuances in English language. That's why sometimes my solving experience differs from yours. These little things often trip me, besides those familiar-to-you but foreign-to-me names (TV series or singers/movie stars).

Anyway, I enjoyed this puzzle. Nothing frustrating. Was very annoyed in the beginning by the repetitions of NOTHING, ANYTHING, SOMETHING & EVERYTHING in the theme answers, musing "Why not construct a 15*15 grid instead by using simply one of the above things". Then I noticed the 180-degree rotational symmetry. Take 23A & 114A for example, they are thematically opposite each other, 23A ends with NOTHING, and 114A starts with NOTHING. Same with the other 3 pairs. Obviously lots of thoughts were given to the construction of this puzzle. And they were noticed and appreciated.


9A: Twangy guitarist Eddy: DUANE. Unknown to me. Probably a gimme for Melissa/KittyB. He is in Rock and Roll HOF, and is "acclaimed as the most successful rock and roll instrumentalist of all time".

14A: State of India: ASSAM. The tea state.

19A: Acceptable excuse: ALIBI. And 91A: Commit a perjury: LIE

20A: Heat exchanger: CONDENSER. I had no idea that "CONDENSER" is a word.

22A: Replay gimmick: SLO MO

28A: Barnyard fowl: GOOSE. And the Hawaii GOOSE NENE (12D: State bird of Hawaii)

39A: "Raging Bull" boxer: LAMOTTA (Jake). No idea. Have never seen "Raging Bull".

33A: Burgundy wine: PINOT

38A: Daughter of Loki: HEL. Stranger to me. "Goddess of Dead" in Norse myth. Kind of like Hades in Greek I suppose. Another two Nordic references are: 73A: Gudrun's poetic victim: ATLI. Knew "Attila the Hun", but did not know that he had a wife named Gudrun, which sounds like a man's name. Also YMIR (81D: Norse giant).

41A: Chummy: MATEY. Besides the British, I think Australians also use "MATEY" for "Pal".

46A: Italian boyfriend: AMICO. Girlfriend is AMICA.

48A: Turkish title: AGHA

53A: Ecclesiastical council: SYNOD

62A: Like last night's pajamas?: SLEPT IN. Do you really wear pajamas to sleep? I don't, never.

65A: Osprey's cousin: ERN. This is the best picture I've ever fished out of the Google Ocean. Superb!

67A: German-French Dadaist Jean: ARP. And the movement ARP cofounded DADA (107D: Art of the absurd). Very interesting clue. Dadaism itself was not absurd, it just focused on the absurdities in daily life.

69A: Currency exchange fee: AGIO. Foreign to me, and I've changed many different currencies before.

70A: Einstein's field: PHYSICS. I tried SCIENCE first.

75A: Makes more rewarding: ENRICHES

79A: Miss from the highlands: LASS. And more girl power. 117A: Portuguese ladies: DONAS And 41D: Address for a lady is MA'AM.

84A: Laxative derived from aloe: ALOIN. No. Got it from the perps.

88A: Tennis situation: AD IN

90A: Cost of Morocco: RIF. I crossed the River Lethe on this word. Saw this clue before. Great map here. Why is it called Er RIF?

92A: Slammin' Sammy: SNEAD. Flowing & flexible & flawless swing, amazing! He had total 82 PGA wins in his career. Another golf related entry is DOG LEG (21D: Fairway bend).

107A: "The Blue __": DAHLIA. Here is the poster. I've never seen the movie. DAHLIA is Mexico's national flower. Just learned earlier that DAHLIA is named after the Swedish botanist Anders Dahl.

109A: Twinned crystal: MACLE. No, unknown to me. I got it from the down clues. What is "Twinned crystal"?

113A: Like an old woman: ANILE

118A: Right to enter: ADMISSION

120A: Gut-wrenching feeling: ANGST. Feel the ANGST? (The Scream - Edvard Much).

122A: Part of PST: STD. I wonder if anyone will object STD appears on a Sunday puzzle. It's an innocent shortened form in this case though.


1D: 1986 Indy winner: RAHAL (Bobby). Not a familiar name to me. Had no idea that he is the co-owner of the RAHAL Letterman Racing team.

3D: U.S. Grant's first name: HIRAM. Wow, who knows?

4D: Penny picture?: ABE. Good one.

5D: Intolerance: BIGOTRY

6D: Frozen region: ICE CAP. Another great picture.

10D: Immoral: UNHOLY

15D: Irish bay: SLIGO. See this map. I've never heard of this bay.

31D: Old music halls: ODEA

29D: Dog's first name: RIN. Dislike this clue. "Dog star" is more apt.

33D: Mountaineer's spikes: PIT-ONS

35D: Overrefined: EFFETE. Are they really interchangable?

40D: Waterproof cloth: LODEN. No idea. Is it really made from sheep wool? How can it be waterproof then?

47D: Nearsighted: MYOPIC

55D: Currency of Georgia: LARI. New to me. Nice photos.

56D: Final innings: NINTHS

60D: Talk of the town: GOSSIP

66D: Endorse: RATIFY

68D: Long John Silver feature: PEG LEG. No idea. I did not know who Long John Silver was until today.

70D: Rio de la ___: PLATA. "Silver' in Spanish.

71D: Bill __ and the Comets: HALEY. I've never heard of Bill HALEY. Are they very famous?

72D: Trapper's traps: SNARES. "Traps" alone is sufficient.

76D: Frisco hill: NOB

92D: Animated Homer or Bart: SIMPSON. No need for "Animated".

95D: Int. broadcasters: VOA

96D: Computer geek: TECHIE

97D: One seeing the whole as greater than the sum of its part: HOLIST. Only familar with the "Holistic approach" in health healing.

98D: Belgian seaport: OSTEND. Unheard of. It's located in West Flanders. They must be speaking Flemish there.

99D: Not e'en once: NE'ER

104D: Song for nine: NONET. Pieced it together from the across clues. ENNEAD was clued as "Group of nine" in yesterday's puzzle.


Jul 26, 2008

Saturday July 26, 2008 Matthew Higgins

Theme: None

Total blocks: 27.

If this is the direction to approach the 25 blocks target I mentioned last Saturday, I would prefer to solve a 37 black- squared puzzle.

Too many affixes, esp suffixes. I truly dislike and despise any grid with a heavy reliance on S, ING, ER, EST, which really cheapen the construction in my view. This has become a hallmark of Mr. Matthew Higgins' puzzles. I wonder why he is so stubbornly sticking to this clumsy style.

Had a very tough time battling through this monster, stumped by quite a few obscure names/words. But I should not have looked at the constructor's name first, which put me in a very negative frame of mind immediately.

I do like seeing LION (26A: MGM mascot) and ROAR (60D: Leonine cry) in the same grid. And reeling in URANUS (65A: Seventh planet) brought a smile to my face. Loved Dr. Dad's blue ball.

All in all, it's not an experience that I want to repeat again.


1A: Low bow: SALAAM. Literally "peace". SHALOM in Hebrew. MIR, the old Russian space station, also means peace.

7A: Brake-lining material: ASBESTOS. Ugh, I struggled here. Would have got it if it's clued as litigation related.

15A: High-pitched: TREBLE

16A: Most immediately available: READIEST

19A: Companion of Caspar and Melchior: BALTHASAR. Toughie. Of the three magi, I only know Caspar.

21A: Unit of magnetic flux density: TESLA. Now how can I remember this word? I always lose it at the bottom of the River Lethe.

23A: Sourish: ACIDIC. What's different between "sour" and "sourish"?

28A: Group of nine: ENNEAD. Here is Gustave Moreau "Apollo and the Nine Muses".

33A: Light anchors: KEDGES. KEDGE was clued as "Small anchor" on an earlier puzzle.

41A: Rudder post lever: TILLER. I totally forgot this nautical aspect of TILLER.

45A: South American plain: LLANO

54A: Fly lava: MAGGOT

59A: Movement away: DISPERSAL. Only know "Disperse" & "Dispersion".

56A: Bishop's jurisdiction: SEE. There is actually a slight religious overtone in this puzzle.

61A: Maryland athlete: TERRAPIN. Just saw TERP the other day. I wonder why this album was called the Terrapin Station.

63A: Larry Fine, for one: STOOGE. The other two are Moe & Curly. Saw someone was selling their bobbleheads at the flea market a few weeks ago. Very ugly.

64A: Informative: EDIFYING. Ungainly crossing with EDGINGS (43D: Decorative borders).

66A: Evaluate anew: REASSESS. A savior word for all the crossword constructors I am sure. It's a miracle that we have not seen REASSESSESS.

67A: Diagrams a sentence: PARSES


1D: Stationary sculptures: STABILES. Not an easy word to pull out of my memory. This is Alexander Calder's STABILE "Man".

2D: Man from Tripoli, Greece: ARCADIAN. Had no idea that there was even a city named Tripoli in Greece.

7D: Daughter of King Minos: ARIADNE. Another stumper. I actually knew who she was, just could not remember her name. She gave Theseus, the Minotaur slayer, the clue to the labyrinth built by Daedalus and his son Icarus. And she was later deserted by Theseus.

8D: Pressed together in rows: SERRIED. New word to me.

11D: Web spots: SITES. And 34D: Web makeup: SILK.

12D: Wonderland service: TEA SET

13D: Stableman at an inn: OSTLER. Or HOSTLER. Another new word to me.

27D: Undiluted: NEAT

38D: Coffin carriers, at times: CAISSONS. I've never heard of this word before. Dictionary explains CAISSON as "a horse-drawn vehicle, usually two-wheeled, used to carry artillery ammunition and coffins at military funerals".

40D: Lacking vitality: TONELESS. It's clued as "Lacking shading" in one of Higgins' earlier puzzles.

39D: Allied (with): IN LEAGUE

42D: Intros: LEAD-IN

44D: Decor one throws?: RUGS

46D: Spanker: BEATER. Are you OK with this clue?

48D: Coypu fur: NUTRIA. No, I've never heard of it. I pieced the answer together from the across references. Looks so close to the artificial sugar NUTRA sweet.

50D: Appears without warning: POPS UP

53D: Feudal masses: SERFS

58D: Tampa Bay team: RAYS


Jul 25, 2008

Friday July 25, 2008 Norma Steinberg

Theme: “Clothing Closures"

17A: Kind of cookie: GINGER SNAP

61A: Michale J. Fox sitcom: FAMILY TIES


24D: Peter Pan's arch enemy: CAPTAIN HOOK

Yawner, yawner, yawner! Too many crosswordese, hard for me to get excited about.

TLC (63D: Gentle treatment) needs a "Briefly" in the clue. And ERAS (29D: Important periods) needs to be changed to "Pitchers' stats" or something else because of the answer PERIOD (46A: Full stop).

Not a bad theme idea, but why TIES (61A) is in plural form while the other theme answers are all in singular form? Where is the consistency?


10A: Huffed and puffed: BLEW. "Boy you really BLEW my mind..., I think I'm in love with you. I been doin' silly things when it comes to you..." Lovely lyrics. Do you like Jessica Simpson? My favorite Jessica song is "I Wanna Love You Forever".

14A: Likeness: IMAGE. "Behavior is a mirror in which every one displays his IMAGE", so true.

24A: Today's OSS: CIA. Have you seen Robert De Niro/Matt Damon's "The Good Shepherd"? It's indeed "The Godfather of CIA movies".

25A: Gardner's Mason: PERRY. ERLE Stanley Gardner.

26A: Truth, vis-a-vis fiction?: STRANGER. Good clue. Truth is STRANGER than fiction. Only learned this morning that this saying comes from Byron's poem "Don Juan".

35A: "East of Eden" twin: ARON. No idea. I got it from down fills.

37A: Actress Irene: DUNNE. Learned from doing Xword. I've never seen any of her movies.

41A: Ensnare: TRAP. And 5D: Catch by persistence: REEL IN

48A: Offered sympathy to: CONSOLED. I penned in CONDOLED first.

53A: You go girl!: RIGHT ON. Are they really interchangeable?

57A: AKA's commerce cousin: DBA (Doing Business As). No, I've never heard of it. Where will you see this acronym?

67A: Unassuming: MEEK. I don't think they are synonyms, do you?


1D: Way up: HIGH. Hmm, does this clue/answer bring to your mind U2's Mysterious Way: "...If you want to kiss the sky. Better learn how to kneel. On your knees boy..."

9D: Documents: PAPERS. PAPER CLIP would be a great theme answer too.

23D: 2005 MVP: AROD. Ah, Madonna, Lenny Kratz, what a SNAFU (51D: Major glitch).

26D: Throw out: SCRAP. Saw it clued as "Deep-Six" before. Six is a very interesting number, esp in Swedish & Latin languages.

25D: Grocery section: PRODUCE. The precious MOREL is placed at the PRODUCE section in our local grocery store.

43D: Lampblack: SOOT. Thought of Santa and his chimney.

47D: Clumsy clod: DOOFUS

49D: Accept a proposal: SAY YES. Why not?

56D: Yearn to see again: MISS. "How can I MISS you if you don't go away?"

58D: ___ around the block: BEEN. I've never heard of this idiom before.


Jul 24, 2008

Thursday July 24 Alan P. Olschwang

Theme: The Comic Element

17A: Start of G. K. Chesterton quip: EVERY MAN IS FUNNY

27A: Part 2 of quip: IF HE LOSES

47A: Part 3 of quip: HIS HAT AND

61A: End of quip: HAS TO RUN AFTER IT

The complete quip is "Every man is important if he loses his life; and every man is funny if he loses his hat and has to run after it."

This is Chesterton's "On Running After One's Hat" essay:

"......There is an idea that it is humiliating to run after one's hat; and when people say it is humiliating they mean that it is comic. It certainly is comic; but man is a very comic creature, and most of the things he does are comic - eating, for instance. And the most comic things of all are exactly the things that are most worth doing - such as making love. A man running after a hat is not half so ridiculous as a man running after a wife......".

I don't think I totally grokked this hat trick. How can "humiliating" be equated as "comic"? Love the last 2 sentences though, perfect for a Sunday 21*21 grid quip, should Mr. Williams dare.

I also like the Chesterton line Mike Huckabee quoted last January in his Iowa victory speech:

"G.K. Chesterton once said that 'a true soldier fights not because he hates those who are in front of him but because he loves those who are behind him'".

Very powerful. Huckabee really has a good sense of humor and is so gifted with gab. I like men who have a way with words, who can combine a series of seemingly helpless words and somehow transform them into dynamic stuff. I do believe that the penis pen is mightier than the sword.

Not a bad puzzle, some of the clues are very creative. But I won't hide my disdain for this weekly quip themed puzzle. It's excruciatingly boring and irksome.


1A: Rain unit: DROP. Lois was right yesterday, don't ever compromise the quality of your special raincoat.

5A: King of Crete: MINOS. The labyrinth king. Some of Greek mythologies are so tragically beautiful. Reagan's "Slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God" Challenger speech always reminded me of Icarus' escaping of Crete.

15A: Pathogenic bacteria: E. COLI. I survived the Dole pre-bagged salad scare 3 years ago because I ate MOREL and other mushrooms often, which undeniably strengthened my immune system.

21A: Stellar blasts: NOVAE. Almost trapped by the plural S again. With V from OLIVES (8D: Drink garnish) in place, I thought of LAVAS for a fleeting second, imagining the LAVA Bombs.

23A: Venetian strip: SLAT. I had no idea that such blind is called Venetian.

31A: Christian's frocks: DIORS. Christian DIOR. Clever clue, very misguiding. I like how it intersects SPEND (34D: Use credit cards).

42A: Rocky's last name: BALBOA. No idea. I googled. Only knew him as Rocky.

44A: Incisive remark: MOT. Literally "word" in French. And their crossword is called "mots croisés". I like the Spanish "crucigrama". It just sounds so mysterious and enigmatic to me.

55A: Storage battery type: NICAD (Nickel-Cadmium battery). Another unknown to me.

57A: Dental exams?: ORAL. Good clue.

68A: Grow dark: LATEN. Unknown to me also. I've never seen LATEN being used in any paper/magazine that I've read.


4D: Reads with care: PERUSES. That's how I deal with your comments. So you'd better write with care too.

5D: Hebrew letter: MEM. No idea. I got it from across fills. It's the 13th letter of Hebrew alphabet (total 22).

9D: Fiber source: SISAL. It's clued as "Agave Plant" twice before.

19D: Battled on and on: FEUDED

24D: Way from the heart: AORTA. Are you OK with this clue?

28D: Parade entry: FLOAT

29D: Selassie of Ethiopia: HAILE. Gimme for any Bob Marley fan.

30D: Varnish ingredient: ELEMI. Absolutely no idea. Lacquer was the only thing that came to my mind and it did not fit.

32D: Honshu port: OSAKA. Literally "large hill/slope" in Japanese.

33D: Harp on: RUB IN. New phrase to me. I only RUB lotion IN/on my skin.

37D: River of forgetfulness: LETHE. The river in Hades. Obviously I've crossed this river because I could not remember it. I also accidentally crossed the River of Rubicon a few days ago and could not find my way back home now. Help!

39D: County bordering Napa: SOLANO. Big stumper here for me, with the thorny BALBOA & NICAD intersections.

40D: Follow in time: POSTDATE

47D: Priam's wife: HECUBA. Mother of Paris & Hector. Loved TROY, but I could not remember seeing this lady.

50D: Like the flu: VIRAL

52D: Perlman of "Cheers": RHEA. Unknown to me. I pieced her name together from the across references. She is Danny DeVito's wife. Pretty dangling earrings.


Jul 23, 2008


1) To: Fellow TMS crossword solvers

As a result of the latest surprising surge in comments section, I won't be able to respond to every of your remark. However, I'd like you to know that each comment, even if it's for a 3-month lag behind puzzle, is forwarded to my email account. And I do read (and study) every one of them with interest and appreciation. Thank you for delurking and taking time to contribute to the blog. I hope we all learn something new from one another every day.

2) To: TMS crossword constructors & Mr. Williams

Due to my special background, inexperience in crossword solving and lack of understanding about crossword constructing, some of my criticisms may not be on solid ground. If you think my comments on certain cluing are simply wrong or you don't feel my summarized theme title is proper, please feel free to jump in the Comments section and let our fellow TMS solvers share your thinking. Or you can always write me a private email.

Thank you.


Wednesday July 23, 2008 Edgar Pontaine

Theme: The Simpsons (1A: Hint at this puzzle's theme: D'OH)

3D: Jethro Burns partner: HOMER HAYNES

9D: Mrs. Clint Black: LISA HARTMAN

21D: First Super Bowl MVP: BART STARR

23D: "Gosford Park" co-star: MAGGIE SMITH

26D: "The Moon is Always Female" poet: MARGE PIERCY

Had some struggle with this puzzle, esp with Senator INOUYE's name (27D: First Japanese-American congressman). Maybe he needs to divorce his new wife, or has some other scandal so the spelling of vowel-rich, odd-looking name can be indelibly stamped on my mind.

This grid just does not fit my eyes. I've never seen one with all the theme answers contained exclusively in the DOWN clues. Wanted so badly to turn it 90 degree. I wonder why the constructor chose this style. Just to make it unique?

This is only the 2nd Edgar Fontaine puzzle I've blogged, so I can't really tell his style. Some of the cluing feel very Tom Pruce-like, esp 52A & 58A. I am so happy that we finally hit a cycle with today's AMIRS. Now we know fully how to call those Abu Dhabi bigwigs: EMIR, EMEER, AMIR and AMEER. Bring them on!


4A: The Racer's Edge: STP. The clue should have a quotation mark.

7A: Step on the scale?: SOL. I like the clue.

13A: Mesabi Range output: IRON ORE

15A: Chicago Newspaper: TRIBUNE. The 5th largest newspaper in the US in terms of circulation according to this list. TRIBUNE Media Service (TMS), which syndicates our Daily Crossword & LA Times Daily Crossword, has nothing to do with the Chicago Tribune Newspaper, though both owned by the TRIBUNE Company.

19A: Hammered on a slant: TOED. I can never remember this oblique meaning of TOE.

20A: Like straws: TUBULAR

25A: Surround: HEM IN

29A: German exclamation: ACH. "D'OH" dubbed as "Nein" in German. I suppose it's a slang for "kein", not sure.

31A: Moslem VIPs: AMIRS. I like clue. Variant in clue, variant in answer.

33A: Stewart of "Swing Shift": ALANA. Wow, what a desperate clue! Look at this cast in credits order, her name is so far down. I had no idea who she was until this morning. A gimme for Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter I am sure.

35A: Navy mascot: GOAT. Bill the GOAT. Does GOAT really need those hard horns?

36A: Timber fungus: DRY ROT. New to me.

38A: Firing: GUNSHOT

41A: Mama, for one: AUNTIE. Look at these cute Uncle Henry and AUTIE Em dolls (Madame Alexander). Or do you still prefer your McDonald's Woody & Buzz toys?

45A: Rhone tributary: ISERE. I just learned earlier that ISERE was also the name of the French ship which sent us the Statue of Liberty.

48A: Ponselle and Parks: ROSAS. Know Parks, not Ponselle.

50A: ID card letters, at times: NMI. Do you all have middle names?

52A: Iniquitous: IMMORAL. Identical clue on July 5th "Unfaithful" puzzle.

55A: Saab model: AERO. I like how it intersects OLDS (57D: Carmaker Ransoom).

58A: The devil: OLD NICK

61A: Principal: CENTRAL

63A: Peter or Paul, but not Mary: APOSTLE. Good clue.

64A: Indigestion relief: ANTACID


2D: Treat with milk: OREO. Nabisco really has a very formidable presence in China.

5D: Transport-loss allowance: TRET

6D: Lima man: PERUVIAN. Have not seen YMA Sumac for a long time. She is probably the most famous PERUVIAN in this crossword world.

8D: Hershiser of baseball: OREL. Cy Young winner 1988. Who is your all time favorite pitcher?

14D: Computer network terminal: NODE. New to me.

28D: Talk non-stop: NATTER

29D: Social event: AFFAIR. Is AFFAIR really a social event?

30D: "CSI: Miami" star: CARUSO (David). I like his role (detective John Kelly) in "NYPD Blue"

32D: Pouty look: MOUE. Would not have got this word without the across references.

36D: Carries out: DOES. DOES are also female goats, aren't they? Would be great if DOES intersects GOAT.

39D: Of a rising star: HELIACAL. HELI(0) is a prefix for sun, how is it related to star?


Jul 22, 2008

Tuesday July 22, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: " The Doctor Is In"

17A: One from Dr. Seuss: YERTLE THE TURTLE

39A: Another from Dr. Seuss: HORTON HEARS A WHO

62A: One more from Dr. Seuss: GREEN EGGS AND HAM

I've never heard of 17A. What a strange title! Is YERTLE even a word? Did he make it up just to rhyme with "TURTLE"?

I really like Dr. Seuss' "You Are a Mean One". Barbara Budd, the host for "As It Happens" (CBC), always reads "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" during the Christmas time. I like it a lot.

A couple flaws with this puzzle:

5A:Throat prob.: STREP. The clue should not have been abbreviated. (Update: The clue is correct!)

43A: "Green Gables" girl: ANNE. Why this clue? Is it because it's a children' book? But you have GREEN EGGS as your answer on 62A.

I also dislike so many *ER ending words in the puzzle:

45A: Less of a mess: NEATER. Good clue though.

64A: Ripening factor: AGER. What is AGER?

35D: Sewing circle members: STITCHERS

53D: More expansive: WIDER

I don't know much about crossword constructing. I am just so curious why this constructor did not add "If I Ran a Circus" to the grid, it's also a 15-letter book title. Maybe it's structurally impossible.


22A: Verdi heroine: AIDA. I am not into opera at all. But I do find this love story to be grippingly romantic. Ancient Egypt is such an exotic and mysterious place.

36A: Low character: WORM. Does the WORM in Tequila really have aphrodisiac effect?

42A: Certain anchor position: ATRIP. Not familiar with this nautical term. I was also stumped by AWEIGH last time.

50A: Mountain goat's perch: CRAG. Mountain goat sitting atop a CRAG.

54A: Feeling of well-being: EUPHORIA. I am always FiFi-minded, so here is Calvin Klein's sensual EUPHORIA, filled with pleasure, temptation and fantasy.

58A: Alector or Megaera: ERINYS. Ugh, the three Furies. I simply forgot this Greek word. Once again, Bouguereau's "Orestes Pursued by the Furies". Feel the RAGE (69A: Temper out of control)? I love number 3, my lucky number, so pregnant with symbolism. See also Raphael's Three Graces.


2D: Western writer Wister: OWEN. Clued as "The Virginian" author before. I like the alliteration in the clue.

4D: Cavities in bones: ANTRA. Singular Antrum. New word to me.

5D: Resign or detrain: STEP DOWN. Why 2 words for the clue when 1 is sufficient?

10D: Steak for some: HORSE MEAT

19D: Regulars' orders: USUALS

25D: Hunter of the PGA: MAHAN. Can you feel the torque tension in his backswing? He has had only 1 PGA win in his career so far, and was Nicklaus' pick for Presidents Cup in 2007 (K.J. Choi won 3 & 2 against him on Sunday individual match). A gimme ONLY to those hardcore golf nuts.

27D: __ cotta: TERRA. This is a great picture of Xi'An TERRA Cotta Warriors.

37D: Bouncing off the wall: MANIC. "Bouncing off the wall" is a new phrase to me.

40D: Unit of gene activity: OPERON. No idea. Dictionary explains it as "a set of two or more adjacent cistrons whose transcription is under the coordinated control of a promoter, an operator, and a regulator gene". OPER is from "Operate", ON (extracted from ION) is "a suffix used in the names of subatomic particles like "neutron".

41D: Carrot-tops: RED HEADS. Not a familiar slang to me. All that jumped into my mind are these fresh carrots and carrot-tops, so juicy and firm, easy to eat out of hand.

51D: Lively baroque dance: GIGUE. Completely foreign to me. Wikipedia says it's originated from British Jigs, and it's GIGA in Italian.

61D: Hook's right-hand man: SMEE. From "Peter Pan".

63D: Title for Galahad: SIR. Really a hard to forget night knight at King Arthur's Round Table, son of Lancelot. Have to admire Jackie Kennedy's ingenuity in connecting JFK's "one brief shining moment" with Camelot. Such an idealistically and masterfully spun tale!


Jul 21, 2008

Monday July 21, 2008 Allan E. Parrish

Theme: Ill at Ease

18A: Grapevine, in a way: RUMOR MILL

38A: Stimulant drug: PEP PILL

57A: "One more Last Chance" singer: VINCE GILL

3D: Reason for a late fee: PAST DUE BILL

26D: Chad Michael Murray series: ONE TREE HILL

I can think of dill, fill, kill, and will, what other 4-letter rhyming words can you think of?

I experienced something new this morning: I solved the puzzle without peeking at the constructor's name. But I quickly decided that it has to be from Allan E. Parrish's atelier after filling in the below answers:

29A: Citation's final word: UNQUOTE

43A: Reggae relative: SKA

1D: "Tuesday with Morrie" author: ALBOM (Mitch)

5D: Wall Street acronym: NASDAQ

7D: Jewish month: ELUL

33D: Dayan or Arens: MOSHE

Those are all the clear fingerprints of his puzzles: generous amount of scrabbly Q, Z, K, X & J, Jewish references (month, personalities, etc.). Remember his SHTETL ("Fiddler on the Roof" village) on this "Finer Rhymes" puzzle? It also starts with ASPEN (1A: Colorado resort), identical clue, identical position.

I had to call Google several times to finish the puzzle, feeling a bit dumb and inadequate today.


1A: Colorado resort: ASPEN. And another skiing reference: 41A: Slope sliders: SKIERS

6A: Coastal bird: TERN. Sleepy TERN. Here is a ERNE (the white-tailed sea eagle).

10A: Maui retreat: HANA. Comment from our fellow TMS solver Joanne last Friday: "Should you visit Maui, rent a car and drive the gorgeous east coast Hana Hwy to the little town of Hana. Plan to spend a lot of time as there are dozens of one-way bridges, curves galore, but beauty everywhere. You might even plan to overnight in HANA."

15A: Zeno of ___: ELEA. The Stoic Zeno is "Zeno of Citium".

21A: Sheepskins: DIPLOMAS. Unknown to me. Sheepskins were just skins of the sheep to me.

25A: Walks softly: TIPTOES. And 31D: Not quite sober: TIPSY. The 2 answers are of the same roots, aren't they? If so, they should not be allowed in the same grid.

32A: Actress/director Marshall: PENNY. Not familiar with her. She directed "A League of Their Own", which starred Tom Hanks, Geena Davis & Madonna.

33A: Big name in faucets: MOEN. Kohler has a much bigger presence in China.

36A: Dancer Ben: VEREEN. I forgot his name. It appeared in our puzzle before. Wikipedia says he won a Tony for "Pippin" in 1973. He also appeared in the Broadway "Wicked" as the "Wizard of Oz" in 2005. Have you seen this musical?

40A: Alternative to HBO: TMC (The Movie Channel). Do you like Robert Osborne of TCM (Turner Classic Movies)?

46A: Visual blight: EYESORE

48A: Jazz up: ENLIVEN

50A: Give a shot: INJECT

62A: Chimney segment: FLUE. I also wonder if Santa has ever caught the chimney FLUE.

67A: D Sharp: E FLAT. Like the Key of ?


9D: Ruth's mother-in-law: NAOMI. I like this NAOMI. She is so good at "Le Divorce".

10D: Pet rodent: HAMSTER

11D: US fuel group: API (American Petroleum Institute). I've never heard of it before.

12D: "__ Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)": NEL. "In the blue painted blue". "NEL " is "in the" in Italian. I've never heard of this song, which placed 3rd in Eurovision Contest 1958.

19D: Come down a cliff face: RAPPEL. New word to me. I had a nightmare at this corner.

22D: Toughens up: INURES

28D: Brings into harmony: SYNCS

34D: Mork's language: ORKAN. "Mork & Mindy"

36D: Pickle brand name: VLASIC. Hmm, perfect pickle, perfect size, delicious!

38D: Movie trailer: PREVUE. There should be a "Var." with the clue, don't you think so?

39D: White House nickname: IKE

42D: Manifests: EVINCES

44D: Erving of hoops: DR. J. He, rather than Dr. X, should be clued in Michael T. William's "Three Doctors" puzzle. We would have had a pangram a month ago.

47D: Uptight: ON EDGE

49D: Swiss Alp: EIGER. New mountain peak to me. So pretty!

55D: Dodgers, in MLB jargon: NLER (National Leaguer)

61D: Wiedersehen lead-in: AUF. Zai Jian (再见) in Chinese.


Jul 20, 2008

Sunday July 20, 2008 Arlan and Linda Bushman

Theme: Break Up to Make Up

23A: Result of an XL body in S clothing?: SEAM STRESS (SEAMSTRESS)

28A: Dinner servings for an NFL athlete?: PRO PORTIONS (PROPORTIONS)

50A: Kisses done in error?: BLUNDER BUSSES (BLUNDERBUSSES)

80A: Best-in-class vessels?: CHAMPION SHIPS (CHAMPIONSHIPS)

103A: Testimonials for reformed prisoners?: CON TRIBUTES (CONTRIBUTES)

111A: Nutty reason for doing something?: LOCO MOTIVE (LOCOMOTIVE)

42D: Alarms on certain vehicles?: VAN GUARDS (VANGUARDS)

46D: Prop boulders?: SHAM ROCKS (SHAMROCKS)

Out of the 8 theme answers, I was confused by 50A for a long time. I did not know that BUSS means KISS, nor did I know that BLUNDERBUSS is an actual word. I still have difficulty understanding 46D. How does "Prop" connect with "SHAM"?

Except 21A & 111A, all other theme answers are in plural forms. So symmetrically balanced. I truly appreciate this attention to details. I also like how JIMMY (66A: Pry open) anchors the whole grid.

This is a very solid, well constructed puzzle, with no annoying affixes or obscure proper names crossing one another. The grid covers a broad range of topics, not just dead/old movie stars and singers who frustrate me all the time. I think our fellow solvers in Asia (esp those in India) will enjoy this puzzle too.

I wonder if the clues for SCARCE (10D: Hard to come by) and CIDER (80D: Drink that can be hard) are the original submission. Theoretically they are not allowed due to HARD TOP (97A: Car style). But I really like the CIDER clue, hard but sweet!


1A: Sign of sadness: TEAR. Now I start to understand why SWEAT (102D: Fret about) is not clued as a noun (like "Perspiration" for example). The more the parts of speech are used, the livelier the puzzle is I think.

10A: Kind of card or bomb: SMART. Know SMART bomb, not the SMART card.

19A: Spokane event of '74: EXPO. '74 World's Fair. Unknown to me. I had no idea where Spokane is 'til today.

22A: "The Lion King" character: NALA

25A: Range name: AMANA

27A: Pile of discarded stuff: SCRAPHEAP

30A: Up and about: ASTIR

31A: Shortfall: DEFICIT

33A: Much searched-for-guy: WALDO. Why? I don't understand this.

37A: Fall toiler: RAKER

40A: Macadamize: PAVE. I did not know the meaning of "Macadamize", which is to "Pave road with macadam". Macadam is named after "J. L. McAdam, the Scottish engineer who invented it."

45A: Calm area of the Atlantic: SARGASSO. Wikipedia says "the Sargasso Sea is the only "sea" without shore, and it is sometimes called the "graveyard of ships" due to its closeness to the Bermuda Triangle.

49A: Just like: A LA

58A: "Thief" star: CAAN (James). I've never heard of this movie before, have you?

59A: Tabby: TIGER CAT. Is TIGER CAT a cat?

65A: World War II prowler: U-BOAT

70A: Popular aquarium fish: GUPPY. Strange peacock looking GUPPY.

74A: cloud of comet: OORT. Named after the astronomer Jan Hendrick OORT who first proposed the existence of the cloud. Unknown to me.

78A: At the right moment: ON CUE

92A: Songwriter Laura: NYRO. Here is "Wedding Bell Blues" written by NYRO, whom I had never heard of before.

94A: Party ticket: SLATE. is probably the best known Ezine (Web Mag).

112A: Salinger girl: ESME. "For ESME – with Love and Squalor".

117A: Male red deer: HARTS. Really, are they red-colored? That's 3-day in a roll we have a deer in our puzzle.


1D: Judith Krantz title heroine: TESSA. "The Jewels of TESS Kent". Another unknown. I had never heard of Judith Krantz before.

3D: Off to one side: APART. Are you OK with this clue?

4D: Iceberg alternative: ROMAINE. The lettuce for Blood Type O.

7D: Mountain nymph: OREAD. Wood nymph is DRYAD, River nymph is NAIAD. All gimmes for Dennis I am sure. He said that the 3 things he would bring to an island should he be stranded were "nymphomaniac, a pistol and an airplane".

8D: Outlaw: DESPERADO. Enjoy this Eagles' DESPERADO, "... You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late."

11D: Personal account: MEMOIR

12D: Go with the flow: ADAPT

16D: Holiday tune: CAROL. I don't think our CAROL gets the Sunday TMS puzzle though.

17D: Large antelope: ELAND. Look at his twisted horns. Huge!

18D: Authority: SAY-SO

24D: Light-footed: SPRY

28D: Cheapskate: PIKER. New word to me.

36D: Premier pointillist: SEURAT (Georges). His name is not familiar to me. I've barely heard of pointillism. Here is his "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte".

39D: Trudged (on): PRESSED. I wanted PLODDED. PRESSED does not have a "Trudged" connotation in my opinion.

40D: Concordat: PACT. "Concordat" is a new word to me also. Is it a commonly used word to you?

41D: Kirghiz mountains: ALAI. I simply forgot. I wanted URAL. ALAI is part of Tien Shan Range. I cannot find the word ALAI in the map though.

50D: Shelley cohort: BYRON. I always thought "Cohort" has a negative undertone (like an accomplice in criminal activities).

51D: Mild and pleasant: BALMY

58D: Marker made of stones: CAIRN. Another new word to me. From the Gaelic word "carn" (heap of stones, rocky hills). See this picture, so aesthetically simple.

60D: Become all the rage: CATCH ON

61D: "Adoration of the Magi" painter: LIPPI (Filippino). Here is LIPPI's "Adoration of the Magi". Here is Sandro Botticelli's "Adoration of the Magi". Which one do you like better?

62D: Diamond arbiter: UMP (Umpire). I like every baseball-related clue.

76D: Maui retreat: HANA. No idea. I got it from the across clues.

77D: Science of signs?: ASTROLOGY

83D: Thickness: PLY. I have difficulty connecting thickness with PLY, which is always "layer" to me.

86D: Paid, as a bill: SETTLED

90D: Made no changes: SAT PAT

93D: __-Rooter: ROTO. This refers to the ROTO-Rooter company, right?

95D: Unattached: LOOSE. The cluing does not feel tight to me. Are those two words really synonymous?

96D: Japanese cartoon art: ANIME

105D: Silent films vamp: BARA (Theda). The "Cleopatra" in 1917.

108D: Apple offering: IMAC

111D: Resinous secretion: LAC. What's the difference between LAC and Lacquer?