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Feb 22, 2009

Sunday February 22, 2009 Barry Silk

Theme: Star Tribune Crossword Corner (Blogged by Argle)

17A: It produces expanding bubbles of multimillion degree gas: STARBURST GALAXY

26A: Daily newspaper published in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, with "The": TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT

45A: Professional cruciverbalist, perhaps: CROSSWORD EDITOR

59A: Gain a monopoly: CORNER THE MARKET

(Note from C.C.: Click here if you have not solved the puzzle. Please save your discussions on Barry's LA themeless (Feb 21. LA Times has a 30-day archive.) for next Sunday's blog post. Also, NT Times just published Barry and Doug Peterson's "The Cruciverbalist" puzzle this morning. Should appear in syndication paper next Sunday. I won't blog it since Rex and Orange have covered it pretty well.)

Back to Argyle.

Thank you, Barry Silk, for giving C.C. and us our own crossword. I hope my blog does it justice.

There are many acronyms and abbreviations to deal with and a few proper names, too, but none of the dreaded crossings of unknowns, IMHO.

All in all, an enjoyable puzzle.

Across:

1A: Engage in, as war: WAGE.

5A: Grazing grounds: LEAS. Cows at an al fresco café.

9A: Cuban currency: PESOS. Images.

14A: Mystique: AURA. Mystique: noun, an AURA of heightened value or interest or meaning surrounding a person or thing.

15A: Sea World performer: ORCA. SeaWorlds are in San Diego, CA, Orlando, FL, and San Antonio, TX. ORCA, also known as killer whale, is a black and white predatory whale.

16A: Sticker: DECAL. Here's a sticker for your SASE.

17A: It produces expanding bubbles of multimillion degree gas: STARBURST GALAXY. I picked the one that looked hottest, the Starburst Galaxy He2-10 .

20A: Miss America of 1971: ___ George: PHYLLIS. PHYLLIS George has worked as a television host and sportscaster. She was previously married to Robert Evans and to former Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown, Jr., with whom she had two children. She is also the author of several books and a business woman.

21A: Return destination?: Abbr.: IRS. 1040 Tax return (no picture, we all know what it looks like.)

22A: Fannie ___ : MAE. The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), commonly known as Fannie MAE, was founded in 1938 during the Great Depression. The corporation's purpose is to purchase and securitize mortgages in order to ensure that funds are consistently available to the institutions that lend money to home buyers.

On September 7, 2008, it was announced that Fannie MAE and Freddie Mac were being placed into conservatorship of the FHFA. The action is "one of the most sweeping government interventions in private financial markets in decades". As of 2008, Fannie MAE and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) owned or guaranteed about half of the U.S.'s $12 trillion mortgage market. (Not a pretty picture)

23A: Intl. assn. created in 1948: OAS. Organization of American States.

24A: Onassis nickname: ARI. ARIstotle Onassis, billionaire Greek shipping magnate, married Jackie Kennedy in 1968.

25A: Pouches: SACS. Pouchlike structures in a plant or an animal, sometimes filled with fluid.

26A: Daily newspaper published in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, with "The": TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT. Front cover, Serving Grater Johnstown Since 1853.

31A: Intertwined: WOVE.

32A: U.S.N. clerk: Abbr.: YEO. United States Navy YEOman, a petty officer, having chiefly clerical duties.

33A: Pendulum partner: PIT. A short story written by Edgar Allan Poe, “The PIT and the Pendulum” (1843).

34A: Whatever: ANY. Adjective- whatever it may be: cheap at ANY price / cheap at whatever cost.

35A: Spies' quest: SECRETS. True Lies.

38A: Games grp.: IOC. International Olympic Committee.

41A: Director's cry: CUT. CUT, CUT, CUT!

43A: William F. Buckley was one: ELI. Nickname for a Yale University student, which Mr. Buckley was, Class of '50.

44A: Number near an APR: MSRP. New car sticker APR: annual percentage rate. MSRP: Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price.

45A: Professional cruciverbalist, perhaps: CROSSWORD EDITOR. Wayne Robert Williams, perhaps.

50A: Possess: HAVE

51A: Stat. for Ryan Howard: HRS. Home RunS: Howard is the 6'4" and 260 lb. first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies. On June 27, 2007, Howard became the player to reach 100 HRS the quickest in Major League Baseball history.

52A: Pentagon fig.: GEN. High ranking milatary officer: GENeral

53A: The Beatles' "___ Mine": I ME. Beatles song, written and sung by George Harrison.

54A: Org. that maintains 35-Across: CIA. Central Intelligence Agency.

55A: Lese __: high crime: MAJESTE. (The crime) of injured majesty. French partial translation of Latin: (crīmen) laesae māiestātis, laesae, feminine genitive of laesus, past participle of laedere, to injure + māiestātis, genitive of māiestās, majesty.

59A: Gain a monopoly: CORNER THE MARKET. Monopoly! Now that would be a good theme for a crossword puzzle.

62A: Work with the hands: KNEAD. You need to KNEAD that dough.

63A: Concert wind: OBOE. But not "A Mighty Wind".

64A: Bee or Em: AUNT. Bee, from Mayberry, and Em, still in Kansas.

65A: Marsh plant: SEDGE. Also called swale grass; I can remember when I was a kid, the old farmers would talk about having to cut swale grass from the swamps to feed the livestock if they ran out of hay in the winter.

66A: Spreadsheet divisions: ROWS

67A: Running behind: LATE

Down:

1D: Member of a colony: WASP. Social insects living in a common nest. Usually, we think of ants.

2D: Bibliography abbr.: AUTH. AUTHor.

3D: Overcast: GRAY. Skies.

4D: Where to find a stud: EARLOBE. Oops, wrong kind of stud.

5D: Onetime regular on "Curb Your Enthusiam": LOUIS NYE. He was a regular on the old Steve Allen's "Man in the Street" bit. "Hi-ho, Steverino!"

6D: Goofs up: ERRS

7D: Coolers, for short: ACS. Air ConditionerS.

8D: Mad specialty: SATIRE. A can of worms for PromiseMeThis if he doesn't get this one.

9D: BlackBerry devices and iPhones,briefly: PDAS. Personal Digital AssistantS.

10D: Migratory fish: EEL. Unlike many fish, they migrate from fresh water to salt water to spawn.

11D: Phony: SCAM ARTIST. The Talented Mr. Bernard L. Madoff.

12D: State that borders Guerrero: OAXACA. Map. The historic home of the Zapotec and Mixtec peoples.

13D: Most foxlike: SLYEST. Or sliest.

18D: Berliner ___: dark pigment: BLAU. In English, Berlin blue. Another name for the color, Prussian blue, it was discovered accidentally in Berlin in 1704. One of the first synthetic pigments, it is a very dark blue, colorfast, non-toxic pigment.

19D: Harsh: GRIM

24D: Devoted fans: ADORERS. Such are the fans of Barry Silk puzzles.

25D: Phys., e.g.: SCI. The SCIence of PHYSics

26D: Old "Up, up and away" sloganeer: TWA. Trans World Airlines.

27D: Presidential nickname: RON. 40th President of the United States, RONald Wilson Reagan.

28D: Like some of University of Pennsylvania's buildings: IVY-COVERED. A land-grant university and a member of the Ivy League. "Leges sine Moribus vanae".

29D: Overseas trade org.: EEC. European Economic Community, official name of the Common Market.

30D: Photo finish?: OPS. PHOTOgraphic OPportunitieS, Occasions that lend themself to (or are deliberately arranged for) taking photographs that provide favorable publicity.

35D: Urban intersectors: Abbr.: STS. STreetS

36D: Former days, in former days: ELD. noun: Archaic. antiquity.

37D: Draws: TIES. When neither side is winning a contest.

39D: Colombian gold: ORO. Spanish is spoken in Columbia and ORO is Spanish for gold.

40D: EMT's specialty: CPR. Emergency Medical Technician performs CardioPulmonary Resuscitation.

42D: Capitalize on: USE.

44D: Kind of deposit: MINERAL. Too much MINERAL deposits will give you "hard" water and then you will need a water softener.

45D: Dixie ___ : CHICKS. Three female singing group. Picture and Song (I'll tell you up front, the song is Not Ready to Make Nice for those of you who do not want to listen to the Dixie CHICKS.) Lyrics.

46D: Assumed family name in punk rock: RAMONES. American rock band often regarded as the first punk rock group. Formed in Forest Hills, Queens, New York, in 1974. Picture and Song (I'll tell you up front, the song is I wanna be Sedated for those of you who do not want to listen to The RAMONES.)

47D: Fan's production: WHIR. Imitative of the sound the fan blades make when spinning.

48D: Speaker: ORATOR.

49D: ___ vu: DEJA. The feeling that what is happening now, has happened before.

54D: Relinquish: CEDE.

55D: Speak Persian?: MEOW. Persian is a type of cat.

56D: Antarctic flier: SKUA. Any of several Arctic and Boreal predatory sea birds that harass smaller birds and snatch the food they drop. They sound like bullies.

57D: Temporary shelter: TENT

58D: Suffix with kitchen: ETTE

60D: Complain constantly: NAG

61D: "Curb Your Enthusiam" channel: HBO. Home Box Office.

Argyle

38 comments:

Col_Gopinath said...

vening from India,
Congrats to Argyle for a great blog on the CW.
Managed to get through 95% after googling Miss America and the Johnstown paper. Just could not manage MSRP, ORO and CPR and after seeing the answers I feel there is no way I would have got it also.

C. C. said...

Col G,
Good evening. Glad to see your cryptic blog is doing well.

Argyle,
Another inspiring post. Awesome SKUA picture. I loved your comments on 11D Phony. The Talented Mr. Madoff, What a perfect example on SCAM ARTIST. As for EEL, did you mean that most fish migrate from salt water to fresh water to spawn? I really liked Barry's clues for "Where to find a stud" or "Speak Persian?". Clever. I also like the clue for ELI, though I was thinking of Neocon/GOP, I had no idea William Buckley graduated from Yale.

C. C. said...

Barry Silk,
After reading the clues for 26A "The Pennsylvania newspaper..", 51A "Stat for Ryan Howard" and 28D "Like some of University of Pennsylvania's buildings", I thought this puzzle was a follow-up on your last World Series Tribute. Shouted "Oh my God, Oh by God, I found the SECRETS (35A)" to my husband when I finally got the theme. Thank you so much!

Dr. Dad said...

Argyle - good job guest blogging. I really liked the tribute Barry gave to the site. It took me some googling to get a few of the answers and then when I saw Star and Tribune, the next two theme answers fell into line - Eureka!

Barry said...

@Argyle: Excellent blog. I'm sure it took you quite a while to put it together. Thanks for your effort.

Earlier this week there was some discussion about having a puzzle's theme in the clues vs. in the answers. Personally, I don't care to have the theme in the clues. It takes the fun out of solving the puzzle. (Also, some editors wouldn't accept a puzzle with a clue-based theme). For me, discovering the theme in the answers while solving is definitely more rewarding. That was my intention for this puzzle.

After I had come up with the theme for this puzzle, I did a little research to determine which 15-letter themed entries would be the most interesting. I debated whether to use STAR BURST GALAXY, since most people wouldn't be familiar with it. Same for TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT. But then I decided to go ahead with those anyway. Besides being "interesting" (to me, anyway) I thought solvers should be able to get the answers from the crosses and recognize that they must be the right answers given the clue and theme.

Hope you enjoyed solving it!

Barry Silk

lois said...

Argyle: outstanding job! Very well done! Laughed at your 'stud' oops. Of course I was thinking something entirely different even yet. No surprise.

But what a bunch of refreshing and clever clues! I struggled in some areas...the acronyms...but really enjoyed the puzzle. Thank you Mr. Silk.

Argyle said...

Did you mean that most fish migrate from salt water to fresh water to spawn? C.C.

I'm not an expert but of fish that do migrate to spawn, (I'm thinking of salmon) they return to fresh water streams. Is there an ichthyologist in the house?

To Barry S, it sure helps to do a blog when you have a week to prepare. My hat is off to CC and her ablility to do one in a matter of hours. It makes me want to grab those rude anons that complain and do a 'Homer Simson on Bart' on them.

A clue based theme is not a theme-based puzzle at all, INMHO.

Dennis said...

Arglye, another outstanding job - you've really got this down, and it shows.

Barry, great puzzle, and nice to see a Philly nod. Good of you to make this effort for us.

maria said...

Good morning, all
Argyle, I was eager for this morning to end the puzzle.
After a lot of G's, still had 2 major incomplete words
could not guess {Madoff) that ScamArtist
I started with Label instead of Decal and i had heard of Yeoman and i should have known ECC
I always say, listen to my instincts, then i don't

C.C. also thanks for your efforts, i enjoyed the puzzle

kazie said...

Congrats to Argyle! Great job! You have my admiration.
Ditto c.c.'s comments @6:30.

I still couldn't get the L of ELI or ELD, and the P of PIT--didn't have a clue on either blank. Many other unknowns fell in with perp help.

Argyle said...

If anyone did last Sunday's Observer puzzle, I did finally finished a blog for it. Observer Sunday Crossword 2-15-09

maria said...

Barry Silk
WOW, i just got the Theme of the puzzle and it it remarkable
c.c. It s nice to be recognized eh ?

JD said...

Good morning Argyle,

Super job...thanks so much! Theme? I had no idea until I read the above comments, but it all finally came together. I had 1 error, leis instead of leas.Looked it up before coming here, so knew it was wrong.ELI/ELD took the longest to fill. Challenging/enjoyable

Enjoyed your choice for the Dixie Chicks.:)

Thanks Mr. Silk

Dick said...

Good morning Argyle, great job on the blogging. We have come to expect nothing less from you.

The puzzle was easy as I got 17A quickly after getting a few of the down clues. The Johnstown Tribune Democrat was forced reading, on me, by my parents. It was our local paper and was used by my parents for my reading exercises when I was growing up. 59A, like 17A, fell quickly after a few of the down clues were solved.

In all a good puzzle. Thanks to Barry Silk, CC and for sure Argyle.

Crockett1947 said...

Great blog, Argyle. I imagine that took a looong time. I didn't grok the theme until today, either. That you Barry Silk for the honor to our C.C. and this blogging community!

Clear Ayes said...

Good Morning All, I put this puzzle down a couple of times and came back to it later. I didn't want to "G" if I didn't absolutely have to, so this method worked well for me. After working the edges and making full use of the perps, I zeroed in on the center section.

Silly me had RTS for 35D, I didn't know 29D EEC or 36D ELD and I wasn't sure about OPS or how YEOman was abbreviated. Finally the lightbulb went on, I changed RTS to STS and SECRETS popped into place. The rest were quick fills.

I know that RON is a nickname for Ronald, but I'm not sure that 27D RON was a commonly used nickname for Ronald Reagan. I know his wife Nancy called him "Ronnie". It is his son Ronald who has been known as RON.

Thanks to Argyle for taking the time and effort to do such a great job of blogging for us. It is very much appreciated.

Speaking of appreciation, here's to Barry Silk for giving "The Corner" a puzzle of its own. Just like Goldilocks said, "Not too hard, not too soft, just right!".

Clear Ayes said...

I just re-read my previous post. Forget about the Goldilocks comment....it is just begging for some VERY DF remarks!

wolfmom said...

Argyle...Another fabulous blog! Loved some of the links.You are awesome.

I had so much fun with this puzzle and, like C.C. really liked some of the clues, especially 55D when it finally came to me. LOL. Like ClearAyes, I picked it up and put it down but solved it all with no G'ing, which is hugely satisfying.

Mr. Silk...Thank you so much for the absolutely terrific puzzle!

PromiseMeThis said...

Good Afternoon Argyle and thanks for the terrific job of blogging.

I did get SATIRE correct. No worms for me:)

I thought this puzzle was so easy, but it turns out I made a mistake. I did not know Berliner BLAU. I guessed BLEU and settled for OES. I may have been thinking Overseas Economic Summit(which would not be an organization, anyway) due to the mention of 'overseas' in 29D. BAH!
I still think it was an easy one, much easier for me than Barry's LA Times XW, which I have yet to finish. I agree the theme was a nice tribute.

I had no idea that you could buy Colombian Gold seeds off the WWW.

Most of us have experienced Déjà vu. Have you ever experienced Jamais Vu?

Here are the some singing ELIs, the Whiffenpoofs.

The puzzle was fun. Thanks Barry.

Clear Ayes said...

Thanks for The Whiffenpoof Song, PromiseMeThis. My father's name was Louis (pronounced Louie) and he even though he wasn't an Eli, he appropriated the song as his own and sang it often.

I have experienced déjà vu and even jamais vu a couple of times. Nowadays I live my life with daily bouts of presque vu. I don't worry about it because all my friends have the same over-65 problem remembering common words and what one person momentarily forgets, someone else will generously fill it in for her.

Here's a little tidbit of showbiz gossip. It's probably not true, but a list of tonight's Academy Award winners showed up on the internet for a short time. The validity of the list was pooh-poohed by an Academy representative....but if you want to see and compare to what happens this evening, click here and zoom in.

G8rmomX2, How lucky you were to see Zero Mostel in Fiddler On The Roof. He is the one to whom all other Tevyes are compared. Our local theatre production yesterday was excellent. It wasn't as large a cast as some touring companies, but the singing was terrific and they got everything right, including a fantastic nightmare scene and a wonderful "bottle dance".

In spite of the California rain we are heading out this afternoon to a fund raiser for one of our area museums. It is an hors d'oeuvres and wine tasting (my favorite!) couple of hours. I don't trust the Oscar "leak", so we will be home in time for a bowl of chili and the TV show.

Anonymous said...

Argyle, what a terrific job. I can't imagine, especially since I was unable to fill all the spaces until I came here. Even after g spotting, didn't get STARBURST GALAXY. I was looking for something like SUPERNOVA REMNANT.
And I still have not groked the theme. I guess you are all too advanced for me.
But thank you Argyle, and many thanks to you, Barry Silk, for honoring this blog. It was fun to try.

PromiseMeThis said...

Sallie,
The theme was:
STAR TRIBUNE
CROSSWORD CORNER.
The name of C.C.'s blog.

Bill said...

OMG A real X word!! Argyle, great job!
Barry Silk......What's to say? You put together a great X word and got the blog in. That is amazing to me. How long did it take you to construct (or, is that a trade secret?).
I got all but OAS, BLAU because I wanted LOUIE AND BLEU, so, that made 23a OEE. Had no idea what that might have been, but it fit, so I left it till now. Took me awhile but what a change from the dailies we've had.
Very enjoyable!!

carol said...

Hi everyone,
Great job Argyle!! You are very good at this so we will look forward to more from you.

Barry Silk, thank you so much for a very clever and enjoyable puzzle.

Clear ayes at 11:41 LOL - you know us too well!

Barry said...

@Dennis - Whenever I have an opportunity, I use Philly-related clues in my puzzles. However, most of the time, the editors change them. For example in today's NY Times puzzle, one of the answers is LINC. I originally clued it as [Nickname of the Philadelphia Eagles home: The ___], but the editor changed it to the more familiar [___ Hayes of the "Mod Squad"]. For this puzzle, I had a choice of Ivy League schools for the clue to IVYCOVERED, so I opted for University of Pennsylvania (where I attended grad school). Since I think I'm the only Philly-native crossword constructor, I try to get those clues in there but it doesn't always work out. It's pretty easy though when there's no editor involved :-)

@Bill - I didn't time myself when I constructed this puzzle, but I think it took about 3-4 hours total. My compensation for the puzzle is reading the appreciative comments in this blog.

@CC - I'm glad you had an "aha moment" when you discovered the theme! I was hoping that would be the case!

Barry Silk

Clear Ayes said...

Always a gentleman, it is gracious of Barry Silk to stop by and make a comment or two on the blog.

I agree that the clue for EARLOBE, "Where to find a stud" was very clever. I really enjoy clues that send us scurrying in a wrong direction. Barry Silk is very skilled at those "red herring" clues.

I won't say much about the upcoming Barry Silk LA Times puzzle, except that 12 ten letter fills are making it a toughie.

I'm not complaining, sometimes a little suffering is fun...otherwise, why would we be crossword fans?

wolfmom said...

ClearAyes@3:37...You are going to smack your head when it is completed...So much "clever" there.
I finished it...big Whoo Hoo. Eagerly await next week and that's all I'm sayin'

PromiseMe...from yesterday. Thank you for the review...I think I will try it this week.

PromiseMeThis said...

Barry,
Thanks to you, I have just come to realize that the Sunday NYT puzzle that I get is not up-to-date. Earlier today, I was pleased to have completed the one that appeared today in our Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel unaided and in a reasonable time. Then when I read where you mentioned that it was your puzzle, I ran to check that out. It turns out that, for us, it was not. Now I am eager to see if your puzzle is in next Sunday's paper or, alternatively, to find out just how many weeks we are behind.

Barry said...

@PromiseMeThis - The syndicated NY Times Sunday puzzle is published one week behind the current puzzle. So, you should see today's NY Times Sunday puzzle next week. Daily NY Times puzzles run 5 weeks behind.

Barry Silk

PromiseMeThis said...

Thank you, Barry :)

wolfmom, My pleasure. Like I said, I should have simmered the filling longer. Make sure you get it to a fairly thick consistency. I think you will find it to be very tasty.

Thanks for the wish for luck, JD. The Panthers blanked the Bruins. Whoopee!!!

wolfmom said...

I am seriously hoping that the San Jose Mercury, which publishes a NYTimes xword on Sundays, is in that rotation...I would love to attempt a Barry Silk puzzle of that size. So far, I haven't quite managed to complete a whole NYT puzzle yet w/o some help. I am thinking I should get that Amy Reynaldo book that C.C. mentioned.

PromiseMe...again, thank you, that was definitely VERY tasty...and on a dark, dreary, rainy afternoon, just perfect.

Southern Belle said...

Can only repeat others' comments regarding the great job of Argyle (I say job, because I'm sure it took a while); thanks to Barry Silk for finally giving us a "thinking" puzzle and to C.C. for all the time she spends every morning creating this blog.

Been out of touch for a while, taking of husband. Is anyone going to enter the Crossword Puzzle Tournament? I did a "test" puzzle from 1993 and filled in at a snail's pace of 25 min.

Trying to beat the clock took all the fun out of solving the puzzle for me. I'll stick with the a puzzle on the clipboard pen in hand, propped up in bed, with a cup of coffee!

Southern Belle said...

Ooops....found out I can't multi-task either!!!

NYTAnonimo said...

Looks like I missed a great puzzle and blog here-just got back from vacation and checked in. Nice work Barry and Argyle. Congrats on the recognition C.C.!

Been doing the NYT puzzles this week as the hotel provided a copy but missed out on the Trib puzzles and these extras. I did enjoy your NYT cruciverbalist puzzle today Barry.

g8rmomx2 said...

c.c. and all:

Argyle: Great job!

c.c.: Thanks for all your efforts that you do everyday, I know how time consuming it must be!

Barry Silk: Loved this puzzle. I had to put it down a couple of times and come back. Each time another "Aha" moment with another fill. No record time for sure, but got thru it without googling.
And, of course we all loved the theme! Thanks for taking the time for doing that for us and for your comments. I know we all appreciate it.

ClearAyes and Wolfmom: I too find leaving it and coming back helps so much when you just seem to be in a rut.

PromiseMeThis said...

wolfmom, If you enjoyed that Pat Metheny video, you will enjoy this one. It is from a bygone era when he (as well as some other damn stellar musicians) were backing Joni Mitchell. I think Ms. Mitchell is an incredibly beautiful human being. I have been a fan of hers for a long time and I am sure I always will be. Someone else who commented on the video for Shadows and Light on Amazon said that: "A bad Joni Mitchell album, such as say...Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm, is pure jaw dropping amazement compared to the soulless, over hyped, empty headed drivel jammed down the public throat by corporate radio goons(today). Gordon Lightfoot or Elvis Costello can fart in Chinese and have more passion and brains than Clear Channel does in it's entire chain. " Truer words were never spoken!

wolfmom said...

PromisMe: Thanks again for the lovely link. I would agree with you on Joni Mitchell...now you're stepping into the music I enjoyed in college...A lot of very talented musicians. I usually listen to classical all day when I am painting, but I used to collect jazz for awhile...mostly mellow. Growing up in the 60's in the SF Bay Area gave us access to a lot of incredible music.

embien said...

I know I'm late (and perhaps no one will see this), but I wanted to add my thanks to Barry Silk and Argyle for a fun puzzle and blog.

I didn't see the theme until I had finished the puzzle and was looking back over the grid, and then it was a true "forehead slapping" moment. (Actually, I saw the "SECRETS" in the very center of the grid and went looking...)

@bill:
Barry Silk......What's to say? You put together a great X word and got the blog in. That is amazing to me.

I'm always amazed at how constructors do it (I've never tried to build a crossword of my own.) I imagine it goes something like this:
1. Decide on the theme (STAR TRIBUNE CROSSWORD CORNER in this case).
2. Put those words in the 15-letter grid, then work on how to make a relatively common 15-letter phrase from that and fill those in the grid.
3. Build from there.