Nov 30, 2008

Sunday November 30, 2008 Josiah Breward

Theme: Canine Connections

23A: Marine canine?: SEA BASS (BASS)ET HOUND

42A: Central American canine?: GUATEMALA (MALA)MUTE

64A: Tennis player's canine?: NADAL (DAL)MATIAN

75A: Dancer's canine?: ASTAIRE (AIRE)DALE

99A: Sculptor's canine?: NOGUCHI (CHI)HUAHUA

117A: Sioux holy man's canine?: SITTING BULL (BULL)DOG

16D: Fancy-tailed canine?: PEACOCK (COCK)ER SPANIEL

40D: Island canine?: GRAND BAHAMAS (MAS)TIFF

Great theme, isn't it? My best Sunday ever. Still needed to google a few proper names though.

Some of the clues struck me as annoyingly and unnecessarily obscure, especially BLAIRS (83A: Brown and Underwood: BLAIRS). Aren't these BLAIRS a better clue?

I think the clue for RAM (88A: Farm butter) needs a question mark to warn the unsuspecting solvers about the word play on butt-er. I could not think of a better way to clue OTHO (110D: Holy Roman emperor). But it has to be reworded because of HRE (78A: Bygone Eur. realm) as an answer in the grid.

I still don't understand the clue for SOLO (109A: Arias for one). Why "Arias" instead of "Aria"? (Addendum: My mistake. The answer is SOLI).

Across:

8A: Sail-extending pole: SPRIT. See this diagram. It's "a small pole or spar crossing a fore-and-aft sail diagonally from the mast to the upper aftermost corner, serving to extend the sail". New nautical term to me.

28A: Seine tributary: OISE. Here is the map. I wonder why there is no le, or la in front of this river. Is it a neuter river?

31A: Height: pref.: ACRO. As in acrophobia. New to me. Somehow I wanted ELEV.

35A: Proud of being wealthy: PURSY. Have never heard of this word before.

45A: Saul's uncle: NER. Learned his name from doing Xword. NER is Abner's father. Saul's father is Kish.

46A: Partner of Porthos: ATHOS. The other Musketeer is Aramis. How come these names all end with letter S? I thought only Greek masculine nouns end with letter s.

51A: Pianist Cliburn: VAN. Is this Dan Rather's voice? I did not know this pianist.

55A: Vinegar produced from fermented ale: ALEGAR. Ale + (Vin)negar. It appeared in our puzzle a few days ago. Sometimes I make my own honegar in summer time: honey and apple cider vinegar.

70A: Slot fills: TABS. Mortise insert is TENON.

71A: Skiing mishap: SPILL. Falling from the skis?

77A: Asian goat: TAHR. I've never seen this Asian TAHR in China. He looks so lonely.

82A: Tropical black birds: ANIS. Normally clued as "Black cuckoos".

89A: Cold remedies?: ICE BAGS. Good clue.

93A: French wine region: RHONE. Its capital is Lyon.

102A: His: Fr. SES. Or her, its.

104A: Eat greedily: ENGORGE. New word to me. Only knew gorge.

111A: Permafrost region: TUNDRA

115A: Like an opera song: ARIOSE. Another new word to me. I've never heard of arioso neither.

122A: Pocatello's state: IDAHO. I guessed. I've never heard of Pocatello before. What is it famous for? Potatos?

Down:

4D: Import-export difference: TRADE GAP

5D: Remove with caution: EASE OUT

8D: Division into factions: SCHISM. Lots of consonants in this word.

10D: Black sheep: ROUE. The likes of Casanova & Don Juan. Have you heard of Lothario?

12D: Tiresome times: TEDIUMS. Strange that the plural form is not TEDIA.

13D: Hawker: HUCKSTER. Another new word to me.

15D: Greek peak: OSSA. It's the only Greek mountain I know.

17D: Spanked: LARRUPED. This word looks so wrong, with the spelling RRUP, yet it's a real word.

18D: Losers: ALSO-RANS. Like Senators McCain & Kerry.

34D: DDE's command: ETO (European theater of operations)

39D: 1930s programs: NEW DEAL. I just learned that Social Security program is part of the NEW DEAL too.

43D: Berman or Cariou: LEN. Have never heard of sportcaster LEN Berman. I like those bobblehead figurines on his shelf. I was not acquainted with actor LEN Cariou either.

50D: Eminent conductors: MAESTRI. I did not know that the plural form for maestro is MAESTRI.

51D: The 4 Seasons singer Frankie: VALLI. Another google. I did not know that it's VALLI who sang "Can't Take My Eyes Off You". Lovely song.

55D: Latin handle: ANSA

61D: "Guitar Town" singer Steve: EARLE. Here is the clip.

66D: Turndown, from Putin: NYET. A "No" from Putin obviously still carries enormous authority in Russia.

69D: Famous meteor shower member: PERSEID. New word to me also. Perseus is the guy who killed Gorgon Medusa in Greek mythology.

76D: Martini's partner: ROSSI. Nice poster.

79D: Moran and Gray: ERINS. Have heard of Moran, not Gray.

83D: Armband: BRASSARD. I was surprised when the dictionary says it's a word. It also looks so wrong. -ARD is suffix denoting "persons who regularly engage in an activity, who are characterized in a certain way, as indicated by the stem; now usually pejorative: coward; dullard; drunkard; wizard. "

84D: Niagara's source: LAKE ERIE. New trivia to me.

85D: Faultfinders: SCOLDERS

93D: Altercation: RUN-IN

96D: Cultivate: NURTURE

100D: Sun god: HELIOS. He is the brother of Selene (goddess of the moon) and Eos (goddess of the dawn). Sol in Roman.

114D: Turkish officer: AGHA. Also spelled as AGA.

C.C.

Nov 29, 2008

Saturday November 29, 2008 Arlan and Linda Bushman

Theme: None

Total blocks: 30

I think I will enjoy themeless puzzles more once I get better at solving. I really like the open field and long words.

This is a nice puzzle. No strained or forced entries, except ELA (35D: Old time high note). I wonder how many people know about this high note on Guido's Music Notation.

I love the crossing of AMERICANA (16A: Bits and pieces of U. S. history) and VALUABLE (12D: Great worth). It reminds me of "Antiques Roadshow" and our local flea markets. I have yet to find something of "Great worth" though.

Across:

1A: Trudge (on): PRESS. I definitely need a "Iron" clue for the answer to come to me immediately.

6A: Ralph Kramden, for one: BUS DRIVER. Easy guess. I did not know who Ralph Kramden is.

17A: Buzzing: ASTIR. I thought of AROAR, too strong for the "Buzzing" clue I suppose.

19A: Stone Age implement: NEOLITH

21A: Dowel: PEG. Got it from the down clue. I did not know the meaning of "Dowel".

22A: Spoon-bender Geller: URI. This looks interesting.

25A: Chronicle: SAGA. They are not the same to me. A "Chronicle" is a real account of the event, right? SAGA is often mythified and romanticized.

26A: Team player: SPORTSMAN. I don't like this clue. A PGA Pro is a SPORTSMAN, but he is not a "Team player", unless it's for the Ryder Cup.

30A: Donnybrook: MELEE

31A: Jumper cable connection: ANODE. NY Times puzzle once had TENDONS (53A: Kin of ligaments) clued as "Jumper's cables?".

36A: Dauphin's dad: ROI. Another guess. I did not know that Dauphin means "the eldest son of the king of France from 1349 to 1830". Kind of like Prince of Wales.

37A: Leafy garnish: CRESS. It's the same as watercress, isn't it? You will more likely find dried CRESS and pickled rutabaga in Asian Stores. They are seldom eaten fresh in China.

39A: New Rochelle college: IONA. Don McLean's alma mater. I never get tired of "Starry Night". I also like his "American Pie", very touching.

42A: Shown, as in a museum: ON EXHIBIT

50A: Pacific weather pattern: LA NINA. I could only think of EL NINO.

51A: Guess at LAX: ETA

54A: Game often stalemated: TIC- TAC- TOE

57A: Miser Marner: SILAS. I have difficulty remembering this George Eliot book.

58A: Puts up with: TOLERATES

60A: Jokes like Dangerfield's: ONE LINERS. Here are some of his best ONE LINERS.

61A: Jazz vocalist Mercer: MABEL. I forgot. She appeared in our puzzle before. We just had " Normand of the silent movie" two days ago.

Down:

1D: Shop tools: PLANES

2D: Rebel: RISE UP

3D: La corrida beast: EL TORO. The clue is asking for TORO, not "EL TORO", isn't it?

4D: Admiral or cabin boy: SAILOR

5D: Actor's lines: SCRIPTS

7D: Diamond arbiter: UMP. I can't remember clearly, did they make UMP bobbleheads in the 1960's? These are adorable. Senators became the Twins.

8D: Sinuous: SERPENTINE

13D: Efforts: ENERGIES

14D: Branches out: RADIATES

20D: Check out: TEST

27D: Performer with strings attached: MARIONETTE. "Performer"? What do you call the person who manipulates the MARIONETTE then?

28D: Run _ of Hip Hop fame: D.M.C.. The answer emerged after I got the across fills. Had no familarity with this Hip Hop group.

31D: Almond liqueur: AMARETTO. I've never had it. Is it bitter?

32D: Marginal marking: NOTATION

33D: Impediment: OBSTACLE. Obstruct has the same amount of letters.

40D: Rod in a car: AXLE

43D: Horsedrawn carriage: HANSOM

44D: Gandhi of India: INDIRA. She had two sons, Rajiv and Sanjay.

45D: Cloning spot, for short: BIOLAB

46D: Present at birth: INNATE. And ENATE is "Maternally related", AGNATE is "Paternally related) and COGNATE is "Related by birth".

47D: Mortarboard fixture: TASSEL

53D: Mrs. Dick Tracy: TESS. Does any one collect Kellogg's Pep pinbacks?

C.C.

Nov 28, 2008

Friday November 28, 2008 Allan E. Parrish

Theme: Same Rhymes

18A: Comden/Green musical: AUNTIE MAME

24A: Rainout remedy: MAKEUP GAME

37A: University of South Bend: NOTRE DAME

54A: Cooperstown attraction: HALL OF FAME

61A: Delano or Alva, e.g.: MIDDLE NAME

I wish I could say "I CAME, I saw, I conquered". With all those ?AME endings, you would think I should have finished this puzzle without googling or wite-out.

I love the appearance of SURI (33A: Daughter of Tom Cruise). I also like the clueing of ALASKAN (3D: Palin, to name one). I could picture this constructor having fun working out his puzzle rather than sitting in the libary and laboring over some archaic fills.

I only wish LONGA (7D: Ars__, vita brevis) were clued differently. You know, with MAME, GAME, DAME, FAME and NAME, don't you think LONG A would be a better fill? How about the clue "LAME part?"

Across:

5A: Moolah: GELT. I've never heard of this slang before.

9A: Canada's __ National Park: BANFF. I bet no other English word ends with *NFF. What a strange name! I like how BANFF intersects NIAGARA (11D: Famous falls).

14A: Stitch's sidekick: LILO. I can never remember this Disney film. Always confuse LILO with REN ("Stimpy's pal").

15A: Melville novel: OMOO. The "Typee" sequel.

16A: Historian Durant: ARIEL. I would not have got this name without the down fills. I am more familiar with "Disney's Little Mermaid" clue. ARIEL Durant and her husband spent over 40 years writing "The Story of Civilization", and they died within 2 weeks of each other. How moving! I like this Will Durant quote: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within".

17A: Comet rival: AJAX

20A: Legendary Cardinal: MUSIAL (Stan). A rare gimme for me. He is in HOF.

22A: Stan of sax jazz: GETZ

27A: "Bambi" character: ENA. Also the "Spanish queen".

52A: Toshiba rival: NEC

53A: Channel island: SARK. See this map. It's new to me.

59A: Golf warning: FORE. I think the most dangerous shot in golf is shank. Are you a hooker or a slicer?

64A: Australian lake: EYRE. It's in South Australia. Saw this clue somewhere before. I am sure Jane EYRE is happy to stay away from this unwanted Xword limelight.

66A: Reebok rival: AVIA. The other 4-letter rival is FILA.

67A: Weizman of Israel: EZER. I googled. EZER Weisman was Israel's 7th President (1993-2000).

69A: Ex-Georgia Senator Miller: ZELL. I watched and loved this interview, but I forgot the senator's name. I wanted Zoey.

Down:

1D: Big house: SLAMMER. Slang for prison. "Big House" is new to me. I was thinking of mansion.

2D: San Diego's sister city: TIJUANA. The answer revealed itself after I filled in the surrounds. I did not know this before.

4D: Roker of "The Jeffersons": ROXIE. Which one is Roker? I've never heard of this actress or "The Jeffersons". I am surprised that ROXIE is not clued as "Velma's rival in "Chicago", since this constructor seems to be in a rival mood today.

5D: Gridiron upright: GOAL POST

6D: Big bird Down Under: EMU. Look at this EMU egg. Is it edible?

8D: Kind of pole: TOTEM

9D: Joan of folk: BAEZ. Here is Joan BAEZ and Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind". I think I like Peter, Paul and Mary's version.

13D: Language of Flanders: FLEMISH. Most Belgians seem to be fluent in French, FLEMISH and English.

25D: Natural vessel: GOURD. This reminds of my grandma's GOURD scooper. What's the difference between GOURD and squash?

26D: Normand of silent movies: MABEL. She appeared in many movies with Chaplin. I've never heard of her name before.

42D: Fulminations: TIRADES. "Fulmination" is a new word to me. The spelling is so similar to fumigation.

45D: Break down: ANALYZE. Do you like "ANALYZE This"?

46D: Imation rival: MEMOREX. I had no familarity with MEMOREX.

47D: Ham actor's nosh: SCENERY. See Chew the SCENERY origin.

56D: Tear out: LEAVE. Is this a slang? I've never heard of it.

57D: Tears out: FLEES. I used to be very bothered by the same clue for different answers. Not any more. It's not a crossword construction sin.

59D: "___ Joy" (1972 Supremes hit): FLOY. New song to me.

63D: Inch fraction: MIL. Brewers fans probably want another clue for MIL.

C.C.

Nov 27, 2008

Thursday November 27, 2008 Alan P. Olschwang

Theme: The Pains of Parenthood

18A: Start of a quip: IT IS HARD TO

27A: Part 2 of quip: RAISE A FAMILY

44A: Part 3 of quip: ESPECIALLY IN

59A: End of quip: THE MORNING

Also an avian sub-theme:

32A: Everglades wader: EGRET

31D: Extinct bird: MOA. It's native to New Zealand and extinct at the end of 18th century. Daunting size. Those Maoris look fearless though

38D: Bird of prey: RAPTOR

Don't you wish there is a TURKEY somewhere in the middle of the grid? I was rather disappointed by the theme. Was expecting a puzzle stuffed with cranberry sauce, green beans and apple pies.

My husband has to have rutabaga and wild rice for Thanksgiving. What's on your table today?

Easy puzzle. Nothing to rave about.

Across:

1A: By way of, briefly: THRU. Did you notice that there are always more consonants in the first row and the first column? I suppose most of the languages start with consonants. Should you have extra time, you can count the total vowels in today's grid. They normally take up 50% of the total fills.

21A: Italian noble: CONTE. I don't understand this one, is it Italian for "Count"?

25A: Planets: WORLDS. I was thinking of EARTHS.

42A: Eagles hit, "___ it Easy": TAKE. I guessed. Not familiar with this song.

43A: Trunk artery: AORTA. Crossword constructors love A*A: ATRA (Gillette razor); ASTA (The Thin Man dog); ASTRA (Latin stars); ATRIA (Skylit courts); ALTRIA (Parent company of Kraft Foods), ALCOA, Jessica ALBA, ABBA, ASIA, ASEA, etc. Oh, don't forget Barry Silk's AQUA.

50A: Skidded: SLID. I don't like those letter repetitions. "Lost traction" would be fine.

51A: Woman alone on stage: SOLA. "Man alone on stage" is SOLUS.

52A: Actor Davis: OSSIE. Only know him as Ruby Dee's husband. Have no idea what film he was in.

61A: Mine entrance: ADIT. And ORE (60D: Mine find).

62A: Trevanian's "The ___ Sanction": EIGER. I forgot. Saw this clue before. Have you seen the film?

63A: Utah ski resort: ALTA. Another A*A word.

65A: "Charlie's Angels" co-star: DOYLE (David). I guessed. I only know the new "Charlie's Angels".

Down:

2D: Cup on a green: HOLE. Have any of you shot HOLE-in-one before?

3D: Pride signal: ROAR. Good clue. A pride of Lion. I also like the clue for ADAM (56D: First grandfather).

7D: Land of Blarney and Killarney: ERIN. Killarney is foreign to me. What is it famous for? Another stone?

9D: Reggae's cousin: SKA

10D: Charging shout: WAR CRY

11D: "Rush, Rush" singer Paula: ABDUL. Here is the song. ABDUL means "servant of the..." in Arabic.

19D: Doing a hatchet job?: HEWING

29D: Former Curtain: IRON. I like this clue too. IRON Curtain sounds very ancient now, doesn't it?

40D: Type of type: BOLDFACE

42D: "The Waste Land" auth.: TSE. Good. I've had enough "Half African fly".

44D: Glossy paint: ENAMEL

45D: Digs: IS INTO

46D: Sour brew: ALEGAR. Got this word from across fills.

47D: You in Juarez: USTED. I am surprised that the clue is not "You in Yucatan". Our editor loves alliteration.

48D: Rockefeller's 1870 company: SOHIO (Standard Oil of Ohio). Now BP. I googled this one.

49D: Lyric lamentation: ELEGY

57D: Unless, in law: NISI. Learned from doing Xword. I've never seen NISI used in any newspaper or magazine.

Happy Thanksgiving!

C.C.

Nov 26, 2008

Wednesday November 26, 2008 Barry Silk

Theme: MIDDLE EARTH (58A: Tolkie place... or this puzzle's theme)

18A: Dispel differences: CLEAR THE AIR

28A: Like some good food?: HEART-HEALTHY

44A: Woomera, e.g.: SPEAR THROWER

I did not know the meaning of "Woomera", and I heedlessly filled in SEPTET instead of HEPTAD for 46D: "Seven Dwarfs, e.g." and ZEST instead of ZEAL for 53D: "Enthusiasm". So I made a mess at the lower middle section.

I really don't know much about crossword construction, but I do know it's not easy coming up with two J's (JUJUBE) and two Z's (ZZ TOP) in one fill. Barry Silk is unbelievable. I am always impressed by his repeated efforts in coming up with scrabbly grids, so effortlessly.

I hope you enjoyed his pangram today. This is probably my favorite Barry Silk puzzle. I love the theme. I think I am getting better understanding his mind. I filled in AQI (14A: EPA pollution measure) like it's a OREO cookie. Can you believe a year ago I did not even know what ORT is? My first ever crossword fill is SOSA. What about you?

Across:

4A: One way to fall: APART. Fall APART. Good clue.

15A: Film version: MOVIE. What's the difference between Film and MOVIE?

16A: Articles of faith: CREDO. Without ADIOS (12D: Spanish ta-ta), I would probably have penned in CREED. Or should it be the plural CREEDS?

23A: Brief expert: PROS. I was picturing James Bond in "Brief" (Daniel Craig in "Casino Royale"). I wish the clue were "Experts, briefly".

24A: Infomercial knife: GINSU. OK, here is the original GINSU ad.

32A: Like Rembrandt: DUTCH

37A: Corner aloft: TREE. I think the best TREE clue I've seen is "Leaves home?".

41A: Columnist Marilyn __ Savant: VOS. Her name came to me via the adjacent fills. I am not familiar with this columnist. She has a IQ of 228, "the highest ever recorded", according to Wikipedia.

42A: Composer Thomas: ARNE. The composer for "Rule, Britannia".

47A: Chewy candy: JUJUBE. Chinese date is called JUJUBE also. But I've never heard of KIWI (56D) being called "Chinese gooseberry". Is gooseberry edible? I used to binge on mulberry.

51A: Words before end or angle: AT AN. I don't like this clue. You either clue it as "AT AN angle" or "AT AN end". Dennis probably wants to "Get A TAN".

52A: "Legs" band: ZZ TOP. Here is the song. Those beards are too long for my taste. Interesting, Wikipedia says Frank Beard, "Ironically, in spite of his own surname", almost always "sports just a mustache".

55A: "Lonely Boy" singer Paul: ANKA. Look at those girls, they are all chewing bubblegum. Baseballcards came with the bubblegum in 1959, right? This Mickey Mantle Topps 1959 was sold for $2.850 at an auction.

61A: Fort __, NJ: DIX. Learned it from doing Xword.

62A: Sheep peep: BLEAT. BLEAT always reminds of "The Silence of the Lambs". I wish I had never seen it. What a nightmare!

63A: How some stocks sell: AT PAR

66A: Yorkshire city: LEEDS. Mark Knopler, who scored "The Princess Bride", graduated from the University of Leeds.

67A: Milwaukee's st.: WIS. I misread "st" as "street" first.

Down:

1D: Bit of reality: FACT

2D: Pastel hue: AQUA. It's a shade of cyan, so is teal.

3D: Mr. Microsoft?: BILL GATES. It's symmetrical partner is BAY WINDOW (34D: Oriel). Nice to see "Oriel" as the clue rather than the answer. I like seeing GATES, WINDOW and JAMBS (47D: Doorframe parts) in one puzzle.

4D: All-films stn.: AMC. So is TMC.

5D: Buff: POLISH. I misread the clue as "Bluff", so I was picturing the bluffs above Omaha Beach and Reagan's D-Day speech. That's a strange memory statue, isn't it?

6D: Line of inquiry: AVENUE. I was stumped, how so? What is "Line of inquiry"?

7D: Iranian cash: RIAL. It's the money unit of Yemen, Oman and Iran.

8D: Trillion: pref.: TERA. I would not have got this one without the across fills. See this list. Barry can clue PETA as "Quadrillion" prefix rather than "Animal rights grp." next time. I cannot count above a million.

11D: Tripper Timothy: LEARY. The LSD guy.

13D: Body of art: TORSO. Venus de Milo is probably the most famous "Body of art".

19D: Conway of country music: TWITTY. Here is his Hello Darlin'. Sounds so sad. I obtained his name from across fills.

21D: "Odyssey" sorceress: CIRCE. Siren does not fit and sirens don't really appear in "Odyssey", right?

38D: Zephyr: BREEZE

39D: __ roll (streaking): ON A. Strange that Williams allows partial fill from time to time.

44D: Ice cream treat: SUNDAE. I wish there were no whipped cream in SUNDAE. I also don't like icing on the cake.

45D: 1912 Olympian: THORPE. My first thought was Jesse Owens, who was a 1936 Olympian. Here is a picture of Jim THORPE at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. I vaguely remember one of his game worn jerseys was sold over half a million at an auction several years ago.

49D: Word-weary: JADED

57D: Lumber camp stack: AXES

59D: USPS piece: LTR. Lots of three-letter words in today's grid.

60D: "48 __": HRS. New film to me. Is it good?

C.C.

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 crosswordc@gmail.com 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.

Across:

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).

Down:

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.

C.C.

Nov 24, 2008

Monday November 24, 2008 Doug Peterson

Theme: Settle "Down"

4D: Down: FINE FEATHERS

8D: Down: NOT FUNCTIONING

14D: Down: SWALLOW QUICKLY

23D: Down: GRIDIRON PLAY

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.

Across:

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.

Down:

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.

C.C.

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.

Across:

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.

Down:

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.

C.C.

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.

Across:

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

Down:

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.

C.C.

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".

Across:

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

Down:

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.

C.C.

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.

Across:

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

Down:

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.

C.C.

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.

Across:

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.

Down:

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"?

C.C.