Nov 25, 2008

Tuesday November 25, 2008 Norma Steinberg

Theme: Word of Mouth

17A: Stammering: TONGUE-TIED

60A: Performed like Milli Vanilli: LIP SYNCHED

10D: Ursine-shaped candies: GUMMY BEARS

30D: Five-year-old's money source: TOOTH FAIRY

A couple of things first:

1) Thank you for the nice words yesterday regarding the 1 million hit. What an interesting journey! Thank you for the company. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your generosity in sharing your knowledge and time with me and several thousands of solvers every day. I hope you continue to find this blog informative and worthy of your time. I also hope you find the comments from other solvers educating and entertaining.

2) I still can not access my Hotmail account from Firefox, and I don't like IE. So I decided to go back to my dormant Gmail account. If you have any question or comment on the blog, please email me at from now on. What I don't understand is why Hotmail is suddenly blocked from Firefox. I've changed nothing for the setup.

Now back to the puzzle. I am not fond of GUM being embedded in GUMMY in 10D. Bubble gum, chewing gum are better GUM candidates.

I like how TOTO (37A: Dorothy's pet) crossing ASTA (29D: Cinema pooch). I also like how HIS (33D: That guy's) parallels HER (38D: That girl's), with HIS slightly above and on the right of HER, wonderful position.

The clue for COPRA (50D: Coconut meat) is incorrect. I cook with coconut meat and but I've never used COPRA, which is dried coconut meat and is used to extract coconut oil.

This is probably the easiest puzzle I've solved this month. Not much pause.


1A: Myers or Nesmith: MIKE. Only know MIKE Myers. Have never heard of Nesmith. What's he famous for?

5A: Elegant behavior: CLASS. I think the best CLASS clue I've seen is "Type of act". He has CLASS.

10A: Shoots the breezes: GABS. I thought of YAK first.

15A: Arthur Marx's stage name: HARPO. I did not know that his original name is Arthur.

19A: Gangster's girl: MOLL

39A: Verdi heroine: AIDA. Interesting, Wikipedia says AIDA is an "Arabic female name meaning "visitor" or "returning". And it means "reward" in Swahili.

45A: Little-hand indication: HOUR. $355 for this hand clock? Ridiculous!

52A: Norse God: THOR. God of Thunder. His hammer always returns to him magically after being thrown to a target. Most of the Norse myths come from the two Eddas I think: The Poetic Edda (the elder EDDA) or the The Prose Edda (the younger EDDA).


1D: First name in spies: MATA. Bond jumped into my my mind first. By the way, does anyone know who shot Dominic Greene in "Quantum of Solace"?

5D: Fidel's friend: CHE. If Guevara were still alive, he would have launched a revolutionary against our editor's stiff way to clue his name. I don't think he would be happy to be connected with Fidel Castro all the time.

12D: Chagall's "____ in Green": BELLA. I am not familiar with this painting. Looks like "BELLA in black" to me. BELLA is Chagall's first wife.

34D: __ Inch Nails: NINE. I guessed. This rock band is completely foreign to me. I don't like their Gothic look.

55D: Pasadena campus: UCLA. Doug Peterson, the constructor for yesterday's puzzle, is from Pasadena. Today's constructor Steinberg lives in San Francisco.


Nov 24, 2008

Monday November 24, 2008 Doug Peterson

Theme: Settle "Down"





I am glad "Bear market's heading" is not part of the theme answers. It would definitely make me feel DOWN.

I think it would be very hard to make an ACROSS themed puzzle. Lots of possiblities with CROSS though: Symbol of Christianity; Peeved; X mark; Betray, etc.

Nice theme. Too many abbreviations for my taste. Some of them can be easily avoided:

10A: Pampering, briefly: TLC. I think this trio TLC is famous enough for a clue.

19A: Can. province: QUE. How about "What" in Spanish/French?

I like the clue for GRAINS (62A: Wood patterns). But the WHEAT clue (37A: Flour grain) definitely needs to be reworded.


1A: Pitch indicators: CLEFS. I was picturing a baseball catcher using his fingers to indicate the pitch location.

13A: Pinesap: ROSINS. Never know when to put ROSINS and when to put RESINS.

17A: Informercial tagline: ACT NOW. Lots of compound words today. I like I'M OK (39A: Reassuring response).

18A: Bill killer: VETO. I was thinking of Uma Thurman in "Kill Bill".

20A: Middle-of-the-road: MODERATE. This word reminds me of Tim Russert. I think a verb clueing would have pleased him.

22A: Diagram: FIGURE. Rather dull clue, isn't it? How about FIGURE Skating?

32A: Art style of '20s and '30s: DECO. ERTE is often clued as "Art DECO artist".

41A: Math text abbr.: QED

42A: State since '48: ISRAEL

44A: French waters: EAUX. The same with gâteau/chapeau/château, just add letter X for the plural form. The pronunication remains the same.

47A: Spanish pianist Jose: ITURBI. I forgot about him completely. Linked his Chopin Fantaisie-Impromptu last time. Wikipedia says that he played himself in the movie "Anchors Aweigh".

51A: Lung compartment: AIR SAC

52A: Election day survey: EXIT POLL

59A: Journalist Bly: NELLIE. How can I remember her name? I shudder everytime I see a "Bly" clue.

60A: Garment with straps: BRA. What's your favorite brand? I like Wacoal. Her body shape looks surreal.

63A: Japanese honorific: SAN. Just add SAN to the end of their given name or surname, regardless of gender or age.


3D: Cornerstone abbr.: ESTD

10D: Brimless hat: TOQUE. Do you know why chefs wear tall TOQUE?

11D: Gene Tierney classic: LAURA. I guessed. Have never heard of this movie before. The plot sounds interesting.

26D: Pinochle combo: MELD. Got the answer from the across fills. Not familiar with "Pinochle". I only played a very simple Chinese card game with my families during holiday seasons. My Dad liked to cheat.

29D: Minor League level: AAA. I like this clue. Much better than "Battery type" or "Motorist's org.". Rochester Red Wings Triple A is Twins affiliate.

30A: Half of UTEP: EL PASO. Maybe I will like this clue on another day. I got headache seeing so many abbreviations today.

33D: Online read: EMAG. The clue needs an abbreviation hint.

43D: Roofing specialists: SLATER. This reminds me of TILER. Our editor likes to clue it as "Masonic doorkeeper" rather than "Flooring specialist".

47D: Poetic feet: IAMBS. Is the B silent in pronunciation?

49D: Type of sprawl or renewal: URBAN

54D: "The Mod Squad" character: LINC. Got this name after I googled NELLIE Bly. Not familiar with "The Mod Squad". That girl looks so pretty.

55D: Reduced by: LESS. I believe in "Less is More". So many things are better left unsaid.


Nov 23, 2008

Sunday November 23, 2008 Alan P. Olschwang

Theme: Legal-Easy

23A: Star of Arthur Baer quote: BETTING IS PRETTY

47A: Part 2 of quote: MUCH LIKE LIQUOR: YOU

67A: Part 3 of quote: CAN MAKE IT

92A: Part 4 of quote: ILLEGAL, BUT YOU CAN'T

119A: End of quote: MAKE IT UNPOPULAR

I was not familiar with Arthur Baer. Wikipedia says he was the reported source of Babe Ruth's nickname "The Sultan of Swat".

Had a tough time solving this puzzle. It's not that difficult, but I made it so with a few confident false starts. Filled in NORMA for 7D: Actress Shearer (MOIRA) and ADAM for 52A: Scott of the PGA (HOCH). And I made a total mess in the lower left corner.

So now I have in front of me a very ugly finished puzzle. I could not even get NETSUKE (68D: Japanese collectibles). I just sat besides a hardcore NETSUKE collector on a wedding not so long ago. He bored me with his collections. These are so erotic.

I thought "Red leader?" is a better clue for INFRA (14A: Red beginning?). Infrastructure is another potential word to clue INFRA. "Structure beginning?" sounds good.


1A: Waggable appendage: TAIL. Is "waggable" a real word?

5A: Leggy legs: GAMS. This answer made me question my sanity. I was convinced that the intersecting 7D ("Actress Shearer") is NORMA rather than MOIRA. I wish the clue were "Ballerina Shearer".

9A: James and Tommie: AGEES. James AGEE drank too much in his life. I've never seen Tommie AGEE play baseball. This is his 1970s Topps cards.

27A: Police officer, at times: ARRESTER

37A: Greenish blue: CYAN. What's the difference between CYAN and teal?

39A: Musical practice piece: ETUDE. Chopin's ETUDE "The Winter Wind".

45A: No. cruncher: CPA

57A: Home port of War of 1812: ERIE. I guessed. I was not aware of the Battle of Lake ERIE (1813).

58A: Sicilian resort: ENNA. "Sicilian Volcano" is ETNA.

59A: Money managers of a sort: LAUNDERERS. So true!

66A: Kernel's coat: TESTA. The outer, hard cover. ARIL is the soft coat.

71A: Most-wanted group: A LIST. I like this clue, though I was thinking of "American's Most Wanted" criminals.

77A: Scottish Gaelic: ERSE. The clue should be changed to "Irish tongue" because of GAELS (108A: Some Highlanders).

78A: "Exodus" co-star: SAL MINEO. I've never seen "Exodus", have you?

80A: Unblemished: IMMACULATE. And 106D: Blemished: ACNED. I only knew the noun.

88A: Mountain passes: COLS. I got it from down fills.

89A: Teton Sioux tribe: OGLALA. Crazy Horse was a member of OGLALA Lakota, so was Red Cloud. Very cool names.

96A: Peg with a concave top: TEE. Golf TEE, right?

99A: Former deejay Casey: KASEM. How can I remember his name? KASEM sounds so Muslim.

111A: Accelerate!: STEP ON IT. And 14D: Will, by all expectations (3 wds). Strange to have "3 wds", totally unnecessary.

122A: Illinois city near St. Louis: ALTON. See this map. It's 15 miles north of St. Louis. Famous for the 7th debate between Lincoln and Douglas in 1858. Completely unknown to me.

126A: Feudal lord: MESNE. Another stranger to me. I am used to LIEGE as an answer to "Feudal lord".

128A: Icelandic literary work: EDDA. Most of the Norse mythology came from the two EDDAS.


1D: Big brass: TUBAS. I was surprised to learn that the tuba player is called tubist.

3D: Technical details: INTRICACIES

6D: Infamous Hiss: ALGER. Last time ALGER was clued as "Ragged Dick" author.

10D: Lobbed missile: GRENADE

12D: Those, south of the border: ESTAS. Vs. ESOS. And 15D: North of Mexico: NORTE. Vs. SUR.

13D: Sutherland movie: S*P*Y*S. I got this movie title from the across fills.

16D: Improvisational performance: FREE STYLE

25D: Flower part: PISTIL. See this diagram. It's opposite of stamen.

30D: Viewer's magazine: TV GUIDE

33D: Type of toast: MELBA. Looks delicious. Needs some foie gras though.

35D: Old, ugly woman: BELDAME. New word to me. How strange, since BEL means "good".

38D: Life-drawing subjects: NUDES

40D: A. Godfrey's instrument: UKE

41D: Area meas.: SQ IN

46D: __ cochere (sheltered entrance): PORTE. Here is a great picture. PORTE is simply "door" in French.

48D: Like dunce caps: CONIC. I always want CONED.

49D: Barbera's partner in cartoon: HANNA. I googled this one. HANNA-Barbera Cartoons now belongs to Time Warner.

51D: Country characteristic: RURALISM. I checked, it's a real word, so is urbanism.

53D: Hot period: HEAT WAVE

59D: Dam's creation: LAKE. I wish this clue were "57A, e.g." (ERIE).

60D: Mild yellow cheese: EDAM. What's your favorite cheese?

62D: __ de Triomphe: L'ARC. It's not grand at all in the daylight. Quite beautiful in the evening time.

63D: Nagy of Hungary: IMRE. Another google. This guy always gives me trouble. He looks like a bad Japanese guy in our elementary history book.

70D: Indian drum: TABLA. Here is a picture. I can only think of sitar, which is a lute.

72D: 2005 Jessica Alba film: INTO THE BLUE. I've never seen this film, is it good?

73D: Cast net: SEINE. I was fooled again. SEINE is more than a river. SEINE with a SEINE in SEINE.

76D: Mexican peninsula: YUCATAN

80D: Mother of Horus: ISIS. I linked ISIS feeding Horus last time when ISIS was clued as "Goddess of fertility".

81D: Miss: Fr.: MLLE. SRTA in Spain.

82D: Abuses: MALTREAT. Did you try MISTREAT first?

83D: Droop: LOLL

93D: French river: GARONNE. Very frustrating intersection with MESNE. I knew neither of them. I can only find GARONNE Canel.

95D: Prepare to advance: TAG UP. Baseball term. After a flyball, the runner has to return and touch the base before advancing.

103D: Sort of strings?: APRON. APRON string. Not a cute clue to me.

110D: Turkish gulf: SAROS. See this map. I got it from across fills. Have never heard of Gulf of SAROS.

111D: Body toss: SLAM. Boxing term?

112D: TV part?: TELE. Greek prefix for "far".

113D: Apple offering: iMAC

117D: __ Linda, CA: LOMA. See this map. It appeared in our puzzle before.

120D: Author Follett: KEN. His name emerged after I got the surrounds. Have never heard of this author before. He has dimples too.

121D: Shoshone: UTE. I am bored by this clue.


Nov 22, 2008

Saturday November 22, 2008 Barry Silk

Theme: None

Total block: 33

Incredible puzzle! I was stunned when I opened the newspaper. I've never seen a grid with left to right, up and down symmetry before. Our editor has always given us the conventional puzzles with 180 degree rotational symmetry.

This puzzle just looks so pretty to me. But what a hammer! Out of the following 15-letter run -through words, 3D was the only gimme to me:

16A: Shoulder shrugger?: TRAPEZIUS MUSCLE

52A: Sitcom starring Kevin James: THE KING OF QUEENS

3D: George H. W Bush's former jobsite: CIA HEADQUARTERS

10D: Japanese maritime video game: UNCHARTED WATERS

I like the crossing of REHID (18A: Moved to a new secret location) with CIA HEADQUARTERS.

I've never heard of "Sulawesi" (11D) before. After I googled, I think "formerly" should be added for the CELEBES clue.

SAKIS for "Japanese spirits" (45D)? New to me. The only "Japanese spirits" I've used are mirin (to cook) and SAKE.


1A: Dogpatch creator: AL CAPP. Have not seen "Li'l Abner" in our puzzle for a long time.

7A: Coniferous tree: SPRUCE

19A: Phone button trio: GHI. 4.

20A: Sub-Saharan region: SAHEL. I can never remember this arid region. It's "on the S flank of the Sahara desert that stretches across six countries from Senegal to Chad."

21A: Calif.-to-Fla. rte.: I-TEN. Boy, this did not come to me easily.

25A: Kingston Trio hit: M.T.A.. Can you think of a better way to clue M.T.A.?

26A: North Carolinian: TAR HEEL. I like this old postcard.

28A: Out of the bus.: RET. Retired? I don't understand this clue. How can "Out of the business" mean RETIRED? I was thinking of "bankrupt".

29A: Ornaments: ADORNS. Hard to accept "Ornaments" as a verb.

31A: Points of views: SLANTS. Really? I thought SLANTS are all biased "points of views".

33A: Old British bucks: QUID. No idea. Dictionary says it's a slang for "one pound sterling". I misunderstood "Old" as "former".

34A: French 101 verb: ETRE. I suppose "To be, or not to be" is "ETRE, ou pas ETRE" in French?

37A: Groups of eight: OCTADS. I filled in OCTETS first.

40A: Jimmy of "Red, Hot and Blue": DURANTE. I've never heard of the musical "Red, Hot and Blue". Did he ever explain clearly who "Mrs. Calabash" was?

42A: Female GI, once: WAC (Women's Army Corps). I did not know that it's a separate corps of US Army until 1978.

48A: Fragrant oil: ATTAR

50A: Classic Pontiac: GTO. I wonder why the song title is "Little GTO" rather than "Big GTO".

51A: Himalayan sightings: YETIS

56A: Programming language: FORTRAN. No idea. I've never heard of Formula Translation before.

58A: Gr. peek: MT OSSA


1D: Belfast's county: ANTRIM. Here is the map. Belfast in the south. I googled the answer.

4D: Clinton cabinet member: ASPIN (Les). How can I remember this guy's name? ASPIN, A SPIN, ASP IN. He looks like a spy.

5D: __ -a-terre: PIED. Did you misread it as "___ de terre"? I did.

6D: Dispensable candy: PEZ. Wow, look at these incredible PEZ dispensers. No "feet", extremely rare, probably worth hundreds of dollars a piece.

12D: Button slot: EYELET

14D: Harsh conditions: RIGORS

15D: Backs of singles: B SIDES

22D: Reach!: HANDS UP. I would not have got this one without your "Stick 'em up" explanations the other day. Thank you.

26D: True partner?: TRIED

32D: Gun lobby, briefly: NRA. Also FDR's "New Deal org."

35D: Transparent, modern-style: SEE THRU. What does "modern-style" mean?

36D: "Wild Thing" group: TROGGS. I love the song "Wild Thing" and "Wild Thing" (Charlie Sheen) in "Major League". But I've never heard of The TROGGS before.

37D: Unrepeated event: ONE-OFF. New word to me.

38D: Steinbeck's birthplace: SALINAS. Here is the map. So close to San Jose. I googled the answer.

39D: Washington airport: SEA-TAC. It serves Seattle and Tacoma. New to me. I was thinking of Dulles Airport.

43D: Aircraft pioneer: CESSNA

49D: La __ gauche: RIVE. The left bank in Paris.

51D: Mongolian tent: YURT

53D: Jarret of Nascar: NED. I guessed. I've never heard of this guy before.

54D: River of Iran: QOM. Here is the map. I cannot find the river. Wikipedia says QOM city is "currently the largest center for Shi'a scholarship in the world". Unknown to me.


Nov 21, 2008

Friday November 21, 2008 Edgar Fontaine

Theme: Sequels - Better Than the Originals

18A: Barbra Streisand sequel?: FUNNIER GIRL

24A: Adam Sandler sequel? HAPPIER GILMORE

40A: Lee Marvin sequel?: THE DIRTIER DOZEN

52A: Molly Ringwald sequel?: PRETTIER IN PINK

63A: Dennis Hopper sequel?: EASIER RIDER

Very interesting "Y" --> "IER" sequel idea, very creative. Is there a movie title with the word "ugly"?

"Dirty Harry" would have matched better with the other movie titles, with no "THE". But it has an even amount of numbers. So it's impossible to be structured in row #8.

I laughed at the clue for DIET (41D: Lose on purpose?). Remember what Lisa said about the "Loses on purpose?" clue on "The Simpsons"? Forward to 8:36, she said "DIETS.....Will Shortz, you clever rascal".

I don't think the "?" mark is necessary for PYRES (71A: Funeral arrangements?), but TILDE (13D: Spanish accent mark) could have been clued as "Señorita's curve?", with a "?" mark. The EGIS (19D: Patronage) needs a "var." hint.

I love how RAIN (42D: Precipitation) parallels DROP (43D: Let lapse). Only wish DROP were clued as "Bit of 42D".


1A: Moon buggy: LEM (Lunar Excursion Vehicle). I like this "buggy" clue. Better than "NASA vehicle".

14A: Clare of "Bleak House": ADA. I've never heard of Dickens' "Bleak House". I wanted INA, thinking of the actress INA Claire, who often appeared in our puzzle.

15A: Disney's Little Mermaid: ARIEL. Do you collect Barbie dolls? ARIEL is very reasonably priced. Some of the "I Love Lucy" and "The Munsters" dolls are quite expensive. This is the original Barbie, probably worth thousands of dollars.

16A: Isle in the Bay of Naples: CAPRI. Is "Bay of Naples" the same as Gulf of Naples?

20A: Kind of crazy?: STIR. Got it from down fills. I was not familiar with STIR-crazy. Good clue though.

22A: African river: CONGO. Too bad, our editor missed an opportunity to pay tribute to Michael Crichton.

23A: Pioneer film Browning: TOD. He is the director of "Dracula" & "Freaks". Unknown to me. He looks like a very cold guy.

30A: Affirmative action?: NOD. Great clue.

44A: Pueblo dweller: HOPI. The answer would have been ZUNI if it were a Barry Silk puzzle.

46A: Dawn goddess: EOS. It's Aurora for the Romans. I am confused, how can a goddess name ends in "os"? I thought only Greek masculine nouns end in "os", "is" and "as". Or "us" as in Zeus I suppose.

59A: Thing, in law: RES

69A: Basketry willow: OSIER


2D: Archie's better half: EDITH. I've seen one or two episodes. Pretty funny.

3D: Beatles phenomenon: MANIA

5D: Indonesian islands: ARU. See the lower right corner of this map. I would not have got it without the across fills.

6D: Insomuch as: SINCE. Do you like "SINCE I Don't Have You"?

7D: Domingo, e.g.: TENOR. Domingo performed at the closing of Beijing Summer Olympics.

9D: Roll of papyrus: SCROLL

11D: Typify: EPITOMIZE

21D: Record speed?: RPM

25D: Roz on "Frazier": PERI. Boy, I can never remember PERI Gilpin's name. PERI is also the fairy in Persian mythology.

26D: Borodin prince: IGOR. Or "Composer Stravinsky".

27D: Shifty shark: MAKO. I wanted ORCA. Wow, look at this big hook.

32D: Tongue ___: DEPRESSOR. "Twister" does not fit.

38D: Sign of summer: LEO. Or Uncle LEO of "Seinfeld".

48D: Fast-lane woe: STRESS

52D: Occurring before surg.: PRE-OP. "Before surg." should be sufficient.

58D: Whitewater vessel: KAYAK. What's so special about "Whitewater"? Why not other river? Whitewater always reminds me of the Clinton scandal.


Nov 20, 2008

Thursday November 20, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Be Careful

20A: Start of practical advice: NEVER TEST THE

39A: Part 2 of advice: DEPTH OF THE WATER

59A: End of advice: WITH BOTH FEET

Is this supposed to be an sarcastic advice? Who tests the depth of water with both feet?

I think I have common ground with Stan. We can talk. He seldom stumps me with obscure words or names. There is a certain ALOE calmness about his grid.

Some flaws:

10A: No-no: TABU. Needs "var" in the clue.

24A: Mets stadium: SHEA. Not any more, SHEA is being demolished now. Citi Field will be Mets stadium in 2009.

29D: Booze, butts and bullets bureau: ATF. Needs an abbreviated "org." or "agcy" to replace "bureau".

39D: Isl. off Australia: TAS. The official abbreviation of Tasmania is TASM. "Prof.'s helpers" would be a better clue for TAS.


5A: Korbut and others: OLGAS. Another Olympic gold medal winner is TARA (65A: Skater Lipinski)

15A: Apply blusher: ROUGE. I did not know that ROUGE can be a verb.

25A: Turkey mister: TOM. Did anyone think the clue was asking for "Mr." in Turkish language?

30A: Free from restraint: AT LARGE. The first word that popped into my brain is BRALESS.

32A: McBain and McMahon: EDS. Did not know ED McBain.

44A: Mafia leader: CAPO. Sometimes it's clued as "Guitar device".

45A: B'way sign: SRO. Do they really have SRO sign in B'way now?

46A: Napoleon's birthplace: CORSICA. See this map. The answer could be BAKERY if the constructor is in the mood to play with "birthplace". Want some Napoleon?

53A: Board joint: DADO. No idea. I got it from the down fills. See this DADO joint.

64A: "Jurassic Park" star Sam: NEILL. Not familiar with this actor. Have never seen "Jurassic Park".

70A: Acapulco bread?: PESOS


5D: Sacred story set to music: ORATORIO. Got it this time. Wikipedia says Handel is "credited with writing the first English language ORATORIO. Is his "Messiah" in English then?

8D: First name in mysteries: AGATHA. Interesting to read her adventurous stories in Iraq during 1930's with her archaeologist husband.

9D: Last part of a sonnet: SESTET. New definition to me. Dictionary says "it's the last six lines of a sonnet in Italian form".

12D: Hogan or Franklin: BEN. Hogan had such a compact & powerful swing. Another golfer is HAL (22D: Sutton of PGA), one of the nicest guys in PGA Tour. He cries easily.

21D: Stick 'em up!: REACH. Is "Stick 'em up" a slang? I've never heard of it before. And ADHERE (49D: Stick fast). I thought "Stick (to)" is a better clue.

32D: Formal proclamation: EDICT

33D: Apollo's birthplace: DELOS. Also the birthplace for his Twin sister Artemis of course. I wonder why there are so many islands ending with letter "os" in Cyclades. See KEA? It's in our puzzle last time.

41D: Formal letters: EPISTLES. New definition to me.

59D: Split: WENT. They are not synonymous, are they? I penned in RENT (pp form of REND) first.

61D: Shriner topper: FEZ. "Shriner" is a new word to me.


Nov 19, 2008

Wednesday November 19, 2008 Arlan and Linda Bushman

Theme: Methods of Travel

20A: Jet parked on a hill?: INCLINED PLANE

35A: Genoa-based ship?: ITALIAN SUB

42A: Ragu on rails? GRAVY TRAIN

56A: Bus on a bumpy road?: PITCHING COACH

Ragu is not GRAVY, is it? I don't understand the clue and answer for 56A. How is "on a bumpy road" connected with "PITCHING"? So strained, why not "Visitor to the Mound?"

I like how ITER (29D: Cicero's road) anchors the puzzle and intersects two theme entries. Excellent placement. I cannot tell whether the clue for SHEA (9D: George Beverly or John) is the constructors' original or not. It just strikes me as very obscure, though easily obtainable from the across fills.

For those who are interested in Merl Reagle's NY Times crossword puzzle & "The Simpsons" episode, this is Part I, this is Part II. If you don't have access to NY Times, try Philadelphia Inquirer. Merl also wrote a recap. There are some hidden diagnol messages for you to discover.


1A: Took wing: FLEW. I am not familiar with the idiom "Take wing". The first word that popped into my mind is ATE. I was thinking of the buffalo wings.

14A: Burt's ex: LONI. Here they are. Interesting, Reynolds dated both Adrienne Barbeau & Dolly Parton before. I just find it so hard to believe a 36-24-36 measurment. 34-24-34 is more real to me.

15A: Ancient mariner: NOAH. SINBAD is clued as "Mythical mariner" last time.

17A: Asian inland sea: ARAL. Often clued as "Shrinking Asian sea".

30A: Fragment: PIECE. And ITEM (57D: Article).

38A: Relevant: GERMANE. Is this word derived from "German"?

41A: Frankie's beach blanket partner: ANNETTE. From this movie I suppose. I've never heard of ANNETTE and Frankie.

46A: Family of Indy winners: UNSER. Learned from doing Xword. Not a racing fan.

61A: Vamp's accessory: FEATHER BOA

65A: Shady stand: ELMS. I could not figure why the clue is singular, then I remembered the clue for TREE ("A member of the stand") last Sunday. How can "stand" refer to "a group of trees" is beyond me.

66A: Golf hazard: TRAP. Our puzzle regular Ernie Els is brilliant at bunker shot.

67A: The Orlons 1963 hit: NOT ME. I got it from the down fills. Had no idea who The Orlons are.


1D: Natural talent: FLAIR. And ECLAT (54D: Great brilliance). I like positive & sunny words. AIDS & DIE depress me, even if they are innocently clued as "Lends a hand" & "Casino cube".

3D: Ratify: ENACT. My first thought is "endorse". ENACT is often clued as "Make into law".

4D: "Die Hard" star: WILLIS. Unless specified, the movie star clue is always asking for the surname of the actor/actress.

10D: Jazz flautist Herbie: MANN. Here is a nice clip. See Tito Puente? I did not know that "flautist" means "flutist".

11D: Holds the attention of: INTERESTS

26D: Grill brand: WEBER. Nice sign. New name to me also. I've never paid attention to our grill brand.

28D: "__ That a Shame": AIN'T. I guessed. Not familiar with this song.

31D: Serpent tail?: INE. Serpentine. "Hero tail?" too (Heroine).

34D: International accord: TRADE PACT

51D: Chucked: THREW. I kept reading the clue as "Chuckled".

59D: Iditarod destination: NOME. See this trail map. Why "Willow restart" instead of "Willow start"?


Nov 18, 2008

Tuesday November 18, 2008 John Underwood

Theme: America's Major Wars

20A: Conflict ended 11/11/18: WORLD WAR ONE

37A: Conflict ended 2/28/91: GULF WAR

51A: Conflict ended 9/2/45: WORLD WAR TWO

11D: Conflict ended 2/2/1848: MEXICAN WAR

28D: Conflict ended 4/30/75: VIETNAM WAR

I think this puzzle was intended for last Tuesday. I also think that the original clue for NOVEMBER (11D: Election month) is "Veterans Day month".

Revolutionary War has 16 letters, so it won't fit in a 15*15 grid. Civil War and Korean War have different number of letters, and there is no way they can be put in the grid symmetrically. I wonder if John Understood has considered IRAQ WAR for 37A to add some scrabbliness to his puzzle. It also has an odd number of letter, which is perfect for a center theme fill.

Because SEATS is the answer for 64A: Places at the tables, the clues for ROW (57A: Line of seat) and SADDLE (5D: Bike seat) definitely need to be changed.

I don't think I could finish this puzzle without the theme answer help today. Some of the fills were very obscure to me: LIVIA, IVOR, INO, AMON, JABBA, ALIDA, ADARE and YONNE. Oh, I've never heard of HI HO crackers either.


1A: Handmade weapons: SHIVS. Did you see "In Cold Blood"?

2A: Black-eyed or lazy girl?: SUSAN. Can you think of a clever way to clue Brooke Shields' "Suddenly SUSAN"?

14A: Durrell novel: LIVIA. I doubt this novel LIVIA is a gimme for anyone.

16A: "__ tu" (Verdi aria): ERI. Here is a clip. I got from the down fills. What's the meaning of "ERI tu"?

17A: Get __ of yourself: A HOLD. I wonder why ADARE (62A: Antarctic cape) is not clued as a partial fill as well, you know, "On A DARE". I am not familiar with Cape ADARE.

22A: Daughter of Cadmus: INO. Is it pronounced the same as "I know"? Have never heard of INO or Cadmus.

23A: Valli of "The Third Man": ALIDA. See this poster. Why is her name incomplete?

29A: Fat Hutt: JABBA. I obtained his name from the adjacent fills. Not a "Star Wars" fan. Eek, he is ugly.

40A: Former Dodges: INTREPIDS. Why "Former"?

44A: Makes a basket: SCORES. I was picturing a handmade basket rather than the basketball basket.

59A: Eye shade?: VISOR. I like this clue.

61A:Burgundy river: YONNE. See this map. I don't think even Carla Bruni knows this river, unless her husband desperately needs the votes in the YONNE Department.


2D: Brand of crackers: HI HO. Have never heard of HI HO crackers before. I can only think of Ritz, which is also 4-letter. By the way, we call crackers "biscuits" in China.

3D: Welsh actor Novello: IVOR. I googled his name. He appeared in our puzzle before.

4D: Bad guy: VILLAIN

8D: Pudding starch: SAGO. Want some?

9D: Egyptian fertility god: AMON. Also spelled as AMEN, AMUN. I would not have got this god without the across fills. Isn't BAAL "God of fertility" also? We just had ASTARTE (clued as "Ancient Fertility goddess") the other day. ASTARTE = Ishtar.

21D: Wag of the tongue: WIT. Mine was WET. I did not know that "wag" can mean "a humorous person".

33D: Old postal abbr.: RFD (Rural Free Delivery). Learned from doing Xword.

42D: Thrill trip: JOYRIDE. Is "joyrider" a word?

45D: Fancy tie: CRAVAT. From French cravate I suppose.

46D: Column style: DORIC. Ionic is also 5-letter.


Nov 17, 2008

Monday November 17, 2008 Doug Peterson

Theme: Terms of Address for Women

20A: The Nine Days' Queen: LADY JANE GREY

36A: Sherwood Forest damsel: MAID MARIAN

42A: Musical set in Vietnam: MISS SAIGON

56A: Flaubert novel: MADAME BOVARY

Poor Mrs. Robbinson, I don't think Doug Peterson loves her at all. But I am glad IVANA is clued as "Former Mrs. Trump". Robin Williams' "Mrs. Doubtfire" should be a great theme entry too.

This puzzle SINGS (30D: Does a number) for me, full of pop culture and literary figures that I am actually familiar with: HEIGL, GARY SINISE, uncle LEO, JEM, MADAM BOVARY, etc.

Still needed a couple of googles and wite-out to finish this puzzle. But I enjoyed it tremendously. It did not make me feel stupid.


5A: Alda sitcom: M*A*S*H. I wish ALAN (6D: Novelist Paton) were clued as "5A star" for a tie-in. I've never heard of ALAN Paton. Fascinating, Wikipedia says his first book "Cry, Beloved Country" was picked up by Maxwell Perkins, the editor of genius (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, etc.).

9A: Capital of Belarus: MINSK. Do you know that Louis B. Mayer was born in MINSK?

18A: Colombian city: CALI. It's Colombia's second largest city. Lots of drug here, I am sure.

19A: Element #54: XENON. I googled this element. Can never remeber this noble gas.

24A: City in central Israel: LOD. Can not find LOD in this map.

31A: San Luis __, CA: OBISPO. Here is the map. It appeared in our puzzle before.

45A: Slaughter of baseball: ENOS. Or "Adam's grandson". "Speaker of baseball" is TRIS.

52A: Tearjerker: WEEPER. Both sound like made-up words to me.

59A: Poppy product: OPIUM. I wonder if there is a way to legalize the OPIUM production in Afganistan. Did you watch "Charlie Wilson's War"? Philip Seymour Hoffman was simply brilliant as CIA operative Gust.

64A: Language of Iran: FARSI. I just learned the other day that "julep" is "rose water" in FARSI.

65A: "The King and I" actress: KERR. Here is a clip. I was thinking of Jodie Foster's "Anna and the King".


1D: Overflowed: SPILT. As in SPILT milk?

2D: Peninsula near Hongkong: MACAO. We spell it as MACAU in China. It's in south China. A former Portuguese colony until 1999. See it? See my hometown Xi'An?

4D: "CSI: NY" star: GARY SINISE. I like his Lieutenant Dan role in "Forrest Gump". He is also great in "Ransom".

5D: Paving material: MACADAM. Named after "J. L. McAdam, the Scottish engineer who invented it." PAVE was clued as "Macadamize" last time.

8D: Katherine of "27 Dresses": HEIGL. I like its happy ending, so romantic. I also like HEIGL's "Love Comes Softly".

9D: Motley assortment: MIXED BAG

10D: Judith of "Sister, Sister": IVEY. I've never heard of IVEY or "Sister, Sister". Is she very famous?

21D: "To Kill a Mockingbird" boy: JEM. Scout's brother. Great book.

26D: Joe of "NCIS": SPANO. He is very annoying in "NYPD Blue". I've never seen "NCIS".

33D: Nasser of Egypt: GAMAL. Got it from the across fills. I only knew NASSER when the clue is "Anwar's predecessor". His full name is GAMAL Abdel Nasser.

39D: Big wave: TSUNAMIS

54D: Susan Lucci's soap role: ERICA. Susan Lucci's beauty secret is to eat lots of sardines, What's yours?

57D: Champagne name: MOET. I've never had MOET et Chandon, have you? MOET is the M in LVMH. Louis Vuitton has probably spent more money than any other luxury brands to stop counterfeit products in China.


Nov 16, 2008

Sunday November 16, 2008 Michael T. Wiliams

Theme: Watch the Finish

23A: Thrilla in Manila, e.g.: BOXING MATCH

34A: Fielding feat: DIVING CATCH

46A: Extra door security: SAFETY LATCH

67A: Magician's secret: ESCAPE HATCH

81A: Blooming plot: FLOWER PATCH

109A: How the best cakes are made: FROM SCRATCH

114A: Chocolate chip collective: COOKIE BATCH

FLOWER, COOKIE and "How the best cakes are made", so sweet!

The constructor used up every *ATCH phrase for his theme entries. *Watch does not rhyme, and he put it in his theme title. Very clever. It would be perfect if he squeezed in NATCH somewhere.

I think I mentioned this before: When there is an odd number of theme entries, the middle one must be structured in the very heart of the puzzle, and it must have an odd number of letters. See today's ESCAPE HATCH. The symmetry of the grid demands so.

I had a very smooth solving today. Caught the theme very early on and was able to fill in all the finishing letters of the theme answers.

I love the FISH clue (81D: Catch some rays?). I was thinking of BASK since TAN & SUN did not fit. It finally dawned on me that "rays" are fish, not sunshine.


1A: Melonlike tropical fruit: PAPAYA. Yes, PAPAYA does look like melon, the taste is totally different though.

11A: Rhythmic swing: LILT. And YODELS (47D: Alpine songs).

20A: Lomond or Ness, for example: LOCH. I would not have got CCCP (9D: Cyrillic USSR) without LOCH. Somehow I can never remember CCCP. Someone mentioned "Charlie's Cold Chicken Pie" as a mnemonic last time.

21A: Member of a stand: TREE. I don't understand this one, why?

26A: S. American nation: ECUA. Its capital is Quito.

27A: Work-shoe protection: TOECAP. New to me. So TOECAP protects the shoe, not your toe?

30A: Sally Field movie: NORMA RAE. Good to see its full name.

40A: Ophelia's brother: LAERTES. I googled his name. He killed Hamlet with a poisoned blade.

43A: Layer beneath membrane: ECTOPLASM. Opps: ENDOPLASM. New to me.

57A: U.K. ref. set: OED. It has 20 volumes. Amazing. But who reads it?

58A: Dundee of boxing: ANGELO. Unknown to me. Wikipedia says he worked with ALI (112A: The Greatest) for many years. What is "a bucket guy"?

63A: Japanese vegetables: UDOS. Have you had UDOS before? I might have had it in some miso soup before. Could not remember their flavor.

78A: Membrane of grasses: PALEA. Plural is PALEAE. See this diagram. New word to me.

79A: Hale-Bopp or Kohoutek: COMET. I guessed.

90A: Doofus: SCHMO

91A: Deejay's gimmick: AUTOCUE. I don't understand this one. Why does Deejay needs AUTOCUE?

103A: Guide to Valhalla: VALKYRIE. No idea. It's "any of the beautiful maidens attendant upon Odin who bring the souls of slain warriors chosen by Odin or Tyr to Valhalla and there wait upon them". Kind of like Muslim Houri, isn't it?

105A: Travel channel?: LANE

106A: Unaspirated, like B or D: LENIS. This is also a new word to me.

107A: "___ Howser, M. D.": DOOGIE. I googled, then I realized that I had searched for this TV series before.

109A: Indigo dye: ANIL. What exactly is ANIL?

117A: Jewish month: ADAR. I bet this has become a gimme for all the TMS puzzle solvers. It's always ADAR if the clue is "Jewish month" (4 letters).

119A: Dar es__ Tanzania: SALAAM. Ha, I forgot this city again. Searched this name before. Literally, "abode of Peace". The largest city in Tanzania.

123A: Govt. issued securities: T-BILLS


1D: Dangerous insulation mtl.: PCB. I obtained this word from across fills.

2D: Orinoco tributary: ARO. It's clued as "Venezuelan river" last time. If you find a map, please share with us. This Rio Orinoco is the only thing I got.

14D: Riot queller: TEAR GAS

15D: Roman autocrat: CEASAR. He said "Veni, vidi, vici" & "Et tu, Brute?".

18D: Moors: HEATHS

28D: Flintonstones' pet: DINO

44D: :S: in music: PRESA. No idea. I don't understand the clue neither, waiting for Kittyb's explanation.

49D: Aussie rockers: AC/DC. OK, here is their "You Shook Me All Night Long".

52D: Well-plumed bird: EGRET

60D: "__ Cane": MONDO. I saw it before, very strange film.

65D: School for Sartre: ECOLE. "School for Simone" too of course. What a beautiful relationship between Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre! True love does not mean that you have to own each other physically.

68D: Hammerin' Hank: AARON. He has 755 home runs, the true home run king!

80D: Battery brand: EVEREADY. I've never heard of EVEREADY before. It does not exist any more, right?

84D: God of thunder: THOR. He always carries a hammer. Thursday is named after him.

85D: 951: CMLI

88D: Part of NRC: NUCLEAR. NRC is Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

89D: Fictional sleuths: TECS. Our editor likes to clue it as "Gumshoes".

92D: Muse of astrology: URANIA. Here is a picture. She usually holds a globe on her left hand.

93D: Pick-me-ups: TONICS

94D: Denver concoction: OMELET. Denver OMELET, looks delicious!

101D: Handlelike parts: ANSAE. Singular form is ANSA, often clued as "Latin handle".

115D: "__ Pinafore": H.M.S. Not familiar with this comic opera.


Nov 15, 2008

Saturday November 15, 2008 Matthew Higgins

Theme: None

Total block: 27

Ah, only if I had a hammer! I wound pound SORRIEST (16A: Superlatively wretched), REDDEST (40D: Most embarrassed), SNAPPINESS (25A: Brisk quality) and MADNESS (37D: Lunacy) out of this grid.

Did you count the ER's are in this puzzle? Dizzying! Not to mention RE, ED, S'es.

I cannot even find one sparkling clue, can you? I know I keep complaining about Alan P. Olschwang's Quip/Quote puzzles, but there have never been an excess of annoying affixes in any of his work.


1A: Puget Sound port: TACOMA. Bing Crosby was born here. TACOMA is from "Tocobet", Indian name for Mount Rainier.

18A: Psychosomatic crucifixion wounds: STIGMATA. I had no idea that the plural form of stigma is STIGMATA.

19A: Founds: CONSTITUTES. New definition to me.

23A: Lesser Sundas island: TIMOR. See this map. I only know East TIMOR. I also forgot where "Lesser Sundas island" is.

28A: Highland dance: REEL. Or "Virginia dance".

29A: Orthodox Jewish schools: YESHIVAS. Was this a gimme to you? It's a new word to me.

32A: Distinct mus. tones: STAC (Staccato). Is this a common abbrevation? How do you shorten "Legato" then? "Leg"?

37A: Pillager: MARAUDER. I just learned "maraud" a few days ago.

42A: Chemical sedimentary rock: TRAVERTINE. Another new word. Dictionary says these rocks exist extensivly in Italian city Tivoli, hence the name TRAVERTINE, which is "a form of limestone deposited by springs, esp. hot springs, used in Italy for building."

45A: Land of the dead: HADES. Or the underworld god himself. Brother of Zeus and Poseidon. Husband of Persephone.

46A: Part of PST: STD. PST is Pacific Standard Time.

47A: Cyclades island: KEA. See this map. I don't know how Mr. Higgins found this obscure island. Why not Mauna ____?

48A: Examined again: REINSPECTED

51A: Barbeau of "The Fog": ADRIENNE. Wow, gorgeous photo. Are those real?

53A: No difference: ALL ONE. You would not believe it, but I really did not know that ALL ONE is the same as "No difference". "All the same", yes. Also ONE (22A: Undivided). I don't like seeing two ONE's in one grid.

55A: Misses narrowly: SKIRTS. Are you OK with "Misses" in the clue?

57A: Group of seven: SEPTET. Or HEPTAD.


1D: Pot cover: TEA COSY. Nice strawberry TEA COSY.

2D: WWI battle site: ARGONNE. See ARGONNE Forest? Not a familiar name to me.

3D: Parts of eyes: CORNEAS

6D: Extra something: ADDITIVE

7D: Takes on: ASSUMES

8D: Nocturnal arboreal African primates: POTTOS. No idea. His eyes look like glasses.

9D: People who snoop: PRIERS

12D: More sordid: SEAMIER. Mine was SEEDIER.

26DL Seven Wonders lighthouse: PHAROS. See this drawing of 1909.

33D: Infringement: TRESPASS

36D: Ancient fertility goddess: ASTARTE. I forgot. It appeared in our puzzle before. "God of fertility" is BAAL.

42D: From that location: THENCE. I only knew whence.

43D: Fassbinder or Rilke: RAINER. A gimme for Melissa I am sure. She mentioned Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet" sometimes ago. I've never heard of RAINER Fassbinder. He was a German film director.

49D: Actress Sommer: ELKE. I googled her name. Great picture.

50D: Football infraction: CLIP. Not a football fan. What is a CLIP?


Nov 14, 2008

Friday November 14, 2008 William S. Richardson

Theme: Tribute to a Comedian

17A: George Carlin album: CLASS CLOWN

40A: George Carlin album: OCCUPATION: FOOLE

63A: Classic bit from 17A: SEVEN WORDS

Several months' late, but better late than never. I am sure this puzzle was submitted to our editor in late June or early July.

This constructor is new to me, but I did not encounter any unusual heavy fighting solving his gird. Many of the clues feel very familiar, so I am sure lots of editing was done.

I don't like the VOC clue (32D: Type of sch.). I would change VEST (32A: Three-piece piece) into REST, so 32D would be ROC, which is often clued as "Mythical bird of prey" by Williams.


1A: French cleric: ABBE. Curé is French for cleric too.

5A: Discomfit: ABASH. I am only familiar with "unabashed".

16A: New Greek coin: EURO. I like this clue.

20A: Well-plumed bird: EGRET. What are they looking at?

37A: Like some peanuts: SALTED. I like my nuts to be honeyed. I love HONEY (9D: Bee product), don't you?

43A: Tight spot: CORNER

49A: Tex. campus: SMU. Bush Library will be built in this campus. SMU is Laura Bush's alma mater.

51A: Goddess of folly: ATE. Learned from doing Xword. She is Zeus's oldest daughter. Wikipedia says ATE is also "the action performed by the hero, usually because of his or her HUBRIS that leads to his or her death or downfall."

53A: Layer: STRATUM

58A: Secret assembly: CONCLAVE. I always associate CONCLAVE with cardinals' mystifying process of electing a new pope.

68A: Guitar ridge: FRET. No idea. I don't know anything about guitar. See this diagram: 4 is FRETS, and 20 is fretboard.

69A: Ferrell or Banks: TYRA. Banks is the supermodel. Ferrell is in "White Man Can't Jump" starring Woody Harrelson. Very noisy movie.

70A: Steisand film: YENTL. I've never seen the movie. YENTL, Yenta (Busybody) and Yente ("Fiddler on the Roof" matchmaker), so confusing.


2D: Protuberance: BULGE. Wikipedia says "The Battle of the BULGE was the bloodiest of the battles that U.S. forces experienced in World War II. The 19,000 American dead were unsurpassed by those of any other engagement". Including all the battles in Vietnam War, I suppose?

5D: Coll. sports grp.: ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference). See this list of ACC members.

6D: Dance in France: BAL

11D: Top of fraction: NUMERATOR

33D: "The Name of the Rose" writer: ECO. Here is the book cover. ECO has been clued as Author Umberto" several times in our puzzle before.

34D: Moocher: SCROUNGER. My favorite entry. Lots of consonants.

39D: Scottish river: DEE. I guessed. I could only remember TAY. Here is the map. It's in Aberdeen.

41D: Flower element: PETAL. I always thought of "Bouquet" as a bunch of flowers, had no idea that it also meant SCENT (49D).

47D: Unsparing: SEVERE

50D: Comic Amsterdam: MOREY. No idea. I got his name from across fills. Is he in this "Dick Van Dyke" picture?

57D: Sail supports: MASTS. I like the intersection of MASTS and TARS (71D: Old sailors).

60D: Bayh or Hunter: EVAN. Know Senator Bayh, not Hunter.

65D: Org. of Ducks and Rangers: NHL. I want the clue to be "Org. of Penguins and Ducks".


Nov 13, 2008

Thursday November 13, 2008 Alan P. Olschwang

Theme: Use it or Lost it

23A: Start of quip: THE BRAIN IS NO

37A: Part 2 of quip: STRONGER THAN ITS

47A: End of quip: WEAKEST THINK

Well, it's a twist of Thomas L. Masson's quote: "No brain is stronger than its weakest think." And it appeared initially as "The brain is as strong as its weakest think".

Is THINK a noun here? I don't think I fully understand the grammatical structure of this quip.

I also don't understand the clue for HORN (24D: Plenty, for one?). Why?

Easy puzzle though, very doable.


5A: Actress Bernhardt: SARAH. Known as "The Divine Sarah". She was so famous that the Le Figaro newspapers declared in 1899 that "everyone was coming to Paris to see two profiles: that of the Eiffel Tower, and SARAH Bernhardt''. But I've never heard of her before.

18A: Rot-resistant wood: ALDER. It's also resistant to water damage and insect infestation.

19A: Muffin pans: TINS. Hmmm, muffins, want some?

22A: City on the Rhone delta: ARLES. Here is van Gogh's "Cafe Terrace at Night in ARLES".

27A: President after Polk: TAYLOR. He is the last elected Whig president. And ABRAM (59A: Pres. James __ Garfield). "Pres." should not be abbreviated.

30A: Cameo stone: ONYX. What's the difference between ONYX and agate?

32A: Ste. Jeanne __: D'ARC. Jeanne is French for Joan, I suppose?

46A: Double dealing: DECEIT

62A: Hide in the shadows: LURK. I like how it intersects SKULKS (44D: Moves about stealthily).


1D: Glob of paint: DAUB. Move your mouse here and see if you can create your own Pollock drip masterpiece.

3D: Write off?: DELE. I like this clue.

4D: University near Tempa: SAINT LEO. I got it from the across clues. Wikipedia says Desi Arnaz & Lee Marvin attended this university.

5D: Undercoat material: SEALER

10D: Numerical array: MATRIX. Not familiar with this math term.

11D: Seed cover: ARILS. What's the difference between ARIL and testa?

29D: Mongol's tent: YURT. Turkish origin. Literally "dwelling place". Too strong an orange color inside his YURT.

35D: Needle case: ETUI. Dictionary says ETUI is rooted in old French estuier, meaning "to guard".

40D: V formation: NECKLINE. Yes, indeed, "It may be plunging".

46D: Rheostat: DIMMER. What? DIMMER in 1890 already?