Apr 30, 2009

Thursday April 30, 2009 Dan Naddor

Theme: ATE (73A: Word that homophonically forms a familiar word when attached to the end of the answer to each starred clue)

18A: *"Unforgettable" singer: NAT KING COLE (Collate)

24A: *Cold War European: WEST GERMANY (Germinate)

31A: *1940s-'60s Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback: Y.A. TITTLE (Titillate)

40A: *Branch source: TREE TRUNK (Truncate)

42A: * Florida city near Fort Myers: CAPE CORAL (Correlate)

48A: *House speaker before Newt Gingrich: TOM FOLEY (Foliate)

58A: * Covered with black dots: FLYSPECKED (Spectate)

67A: * 1976 Olympic decathlon champ: BRUCE JENNER (Generate)

Holy hot wick! 8 theme answers. All gridded in Across. I've never seen such a grid before (Don Gagliardo's soft G is an exception). No wonder this is a special 15X16 grid. Dan Naddor's last Bean Salad puzzle is a 16X15. The extra column is to accommodate the 8-letter theme entry IT'S SO YOU (Dan could not come up with a symmetrical match). Our editor Rich Norris explained that anytime a grid is 16X15 or 15X16 is because of the theme.

I did not really need the unifying theme answer ATE today to get all the theme entries. Very clever idea. My impression of Dan Naddor so far is that he is very thorough and creative in his research.

Have never heard of Y.A. TITTLE or BRUCE JENNER. Flyspecked is a new word to me, so is Spectate, backformation from "spectator", according to dictionary. TOM FOLEY was an easy guess. Is he related to Mark Foley?

I am excited that Dan discovered a new way to clue EELS (14A: Rock band with a fishy name). The rock band was foreign to me. Wikipedia says the band was formed by by singer/songwriter Mark Oliver Everett, better known as E.

The clue for MLLE (53D: M.'s counterpart) is very wicked. I did not pay attention to the abbreviation dot so I was thinking of James Bond's M. The M. here refers to Monsieur. I've never heard of ROK (69D: Seoul soldier) being referred as a soldier. To me, it just stands for Republic of Korea (South Korea). After I looked up the dictionary, I think "Seoul G.I." is a better clue.

I enjoyed this heavy themage puzzle. Some of the clues are very clever:

66A: Formal intro?: SEMI. Semi-formal.

6D: Union station?: ALTAR. " Train stop?" would work on this answer too. I got married in a judge's room though. You?

Across:

1A: Supplies case: KIT. Was worried that "supplies" might be a verb.

4A: Grille cover: BRA. Had no idea that BRA is an automotive slang for "a removable cover for the front end of an automobile to protect it from road debris". I suppose you then open a BRA rather than unhook a BRA?

7A: African hot spot: SAHARA. I like the clue. Spicy hot!

17A: LPGA star Se Ri __: PAK. Golf HOFer. Lots of Korean golfers have come to the US since Se Ri PAK, but she is my favorite. Her surname name is actually PARK (like Grace PARK or Chan Ho PARK), literally "simple/plain". Someone in LPGA or Immigration made a mistake on her name, but she decided to stick with the error.

23A: Goodyear's home: AKRON. The "Rubber City". Learned this morning that AKRON is also the birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in 1935.

27A: Nintendo rival: SEGA. The name came from Service Games of Japan.

29A: Spoils: LOOT. Thought "Spoils" might be a verb as well.

47A: Heineken brand: AMSTEL. New brand to me. It's named after their AMSTEL river. I like the line: One Dam Good Bier.

54A: Gaseous: Pref: AERI. Williams clued AREI as "Interferometer instrument" last time. And the constructor's original clue was "Atmospheric prefix".

55A: Vegan's purchase: TOFU. Do you like TOFU? My husband does not touch it.

63A: Bridge call: I PASS

71A: Fruit in a split: BANANA. BANANA split is a dessert that should not have been invented.

72A: Houston pro, to fans: 'STRO. Short for ASTRO I suppose. I did not know this.

74A: Crude cabin: SHANTY

75A: "Shoot": ASK. Oh, I thought of the irritating exclamation "Shoot".

76A: "L. A. Law" actress: DEY (Susan). Learned her name from doing crossword. Have never seen "L. A. Law" before. She looks pretty.

Down:

1D: "Batman" blow: KAPOW. The sound of his blow?

2D: Cockamamie: INANE. Who made up this slang "Cockamamie"? So strange. Cock-a-mamie.

3D: Initiates action: TAKES STEPS

4D: Deadpan Stein: BEN. Anyone? Anyone?

5D: Assayer's substance: REAGENT. Rea(ct) + Agent. New word to me.

7D: McCain, e.g.: Abbr.: SEN. Thought of REP(ublican) first.

8D: Pond organism: ALGA

9D: Snake oil salesman: HUCKSTER. Learned this word a few months ago.

11D: Enter again: RELOG

12D: Where the action is: ARENA. "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the ARENA...."

19D: Like some highlighted text: Abbr.: ITAL

21D: Paris possessive: A TOI. Filled in A MOI first.

26D: Wine bouquet: NOSE. Is NOSE a special term for the aroma of wine?

31D: Song spelled with arm motions: Y.M.C.A. Is this really the original video? Why gay talk?

33D: USPS delivery: LTR. Ridiculous for USPS to propose skipping Tuesday mail deliveries.

36D: Dash: RUN LIKE MAD. I suppose so.

37D: Feminine suffix: ENNE. Or trix.

43D: Ancient Italian: ETRUSCAN. I forgot. It's clued as "Of Rome's predecessors" in our old puzzle before. Wikipedia says ETRUSCAN civilization extended between 1200 BC to 100 BC. The ancient country Etruria was located between Arno and Tiber rivers, roughly corresponding to modern Tuscany, according to Dictionary.

49D: Rand McNally staff: MAPPERS. Oh well, I definitely have been living under a rock. I did not know who Rand McNally is.

50D: Co-pay, for instance: FEE

51D: Tolkien henchmen: ORC. And the "Tolkien talking tree" is ENT. I learned both from doing Xword.

55D: 1970 Poitier title role: TIBBS. I like ''In the Heat of the Night''.

56D: Talk show giant: OPRAH. Not her fan. I like Ellen DeGeneres.

57D: Flora's partner: FAUNA

60D: Red suit wearer: SANTA. Ah, I put SANTA last time for the clue "Nick name?". The answer is CLAUS.

68D: Crow family bird: JAY. Noisy, noisy bird. Yes?

Answer Grid.

C.C.

PS: Here is an interesting write-up on Crosswords L.A. Tournament by Crossword constructor Andrea Carla Michaels.

Apr 29, 2009

Interview with Doug Peterson

Today is our first Doug Peterson LAT puzzle since the switch. But several of you have solved his Newsday Saturday Stumper in the past several weeks. Those puzzles are hard, and Orange (Amy Reynaldo) the Crossword Fiend loves them.

Doug is very productive constructor. He is a regular contributor to Stan Newman's Newsday. And since he started constructing in 2003, Doug's puzzles have been published by Newsday, NY Times, New York Sun, LA Times, CrosSynery, etc.

Doug is also an excellent speed solver. He finished #38 in this year's ACPT (#18 in 2008). Enjoy the interview. I was surprised by his last answer.

We've solved 7 of your TMS puzzles. You seem to be fond of synonym themed puzzle, like the "Oops" (FALL, TRIP, TUMBLE and SLIP) we had on Oct 8, 2008. Is that your signature? If so, why? If not, how would you describe your style?

I don’t think I have a signature style in my themes. The themes in the puzzles edited by Wayne Williams tended to be straightforward, so I tailored my TMS puzzles to his style. In the L.A. Times, I’ve had puzzles published every day of the week. My themes have ranged from simple synonym or rhyming themes to more complex wordplay themes. Coming up with a theme is usually the hardest part of the process for me. It’s difficult to create an interesting theme that hasn’t been done before. Today’s puzzle features a basic “four of a kind” theme, which is typical for a Tuesday/Wednesday level of difficulty.

You and Barry Silk created a "Cruciverbalist" puzzle for New York Times in Feb. For those who did not have the opportunity to solve the puzzle, can you explain your creating process again? Is cluing more difficult than designing a grid?

Barry Silk and I met at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in 2008. We talked about this puzzle there and laid some of the groundwork for its creation. Barry came up with the idea for a puzzle that would detail the steps it takes to create a crossword, from the initial seed of an idea to the finished product. I helped to craft the actual theme answers that were used in puzzle, and then I constructed the grid. Barry filled the grid, and I suggested changes to a handful of entries. Then Barry wrote the clues, and I went through them all and made a few changes.

Designing and filling the grid is my favorite part of the construction process. It’s sometimes difficult, but I love the challenge. Writing clues is my least favorite part. It’s fun to come up with clues for theme entries and the longer, more interesting entries, but writing clues for common words like AREA, ERIE, ORE, etc., is a real drag. It’s not unusual for me to finish a grid in two or three hours and then not get around to writing all the clues for a week or more.

When and where does your crossword Muse often visit you? I am constantly amazed by your productivity and unbridled passion for crossword construction. Do you experience Writer's Block also? If so, how do you overcome those periods of lack of inspiration?

I work on crosswords each night before I go to sleep. It helps me relax. I often experience writer’s block when it comes to themes. I need the Theme Muse to visit more frequently! When I can’t think of a theme, I’ll fool around with a themeless grid or take a walk. A few good themes have come to me during walks. The nice thing about being a freelance crossword constructor is that I don’t have to worry about deadlines.

I understand you were born and grew up in Montana. Can you tell us more about your background? How did you get into crossword solving and construction. Still remember the first time when your first puzzle was published?

I’ve always loved word puzzles, and both my father and grandmother were avid crossword solvers. I started out solving word searches when I was very young and eventually graduated to crosswords. I first became interested in construction after I bought a copy of Random House Puzzlemaker’s Handbook by Mel Rosen and Stan Kurzban. That book taught me all the steps involved in creating a professional crossword puzzle.

Yes, of course I remember the publication of my first puzzle. What a thrill! It was a Newsday puzzle in 2003. I still remember going to the Newsday website and seeing my name above the grid. It was surreal.

And what would people find one thing that's most surprising about you?

I listen to loud heavy metal music when I’m constructing my puzzles. (Not loud enough to wake the neighbors.) Believe it or not, it helps me concentrate.

Thanks for the questions, C.C.

Wednesday April 29, 2009 Doug Peterson

Theme: How Food Processors Work

17A: Shady high roller's advantage: LOADED DICE

28A: Harbors ulterior motives: HAS AN AX TO GRIND

44A: Log holder: FIREPLACE GRATE

58A: Dojo blow: KARATE CHOP

Once again, I am not sure I got the theme right. I cook differently and hardly use our food processor or any other kitchen accessories. Peeler & knife are the only tools I use every day. I peel everything. And I use my knife to dice, slice, chop, mince etc. It's exotic for me to see others use grater for ginger.

I had fun fooling around with this very scrabbly puzzle (3 Z's, 2 X's, 1 J and several K's). Wrote down HAIR for 19A: "Manx cat's lack" (TAIL). What can I say? I am not a cat person and a hairless cat makes sense to me. Also, I wrote down SAID for 21A: "After all?" (LAST) immediately, thinking the sentence "After all is SAID and done". Theoretically I think I am right. If someone finishes last in the race, he is still part of all, not "After all", correct?

Having seen similar "Dictator's assistant' or "Dictation taker" for STENO before, the "Dictator's aid" clue yesterday gave me no trouble and I did not even bother to comment on. It's so fascinating for me to read your experience in yesterday's Comments section. Thanks for sharing.

Across:

1A: Betting setting: VEGAS. Rhyming clue. The first word that popped into my mind is CASINO.

6A: Oratory with lots of arm-waving: RANT. "Lots of arm-waving" RANT indeed. I used to like Kramer.

10A: Sloop pole: MAST. Perpendicular to the boom. Only learned a few weeks ago that sloop is a single-masted sailing boat.

14A: "Get __!": Relax: A GRIP

15A: Hamburg's river: ELBE. ELBE originates in Czech and flows northwest across German to the North Sea. Same pronunciation with Napoleon's ELBA.

16A: Award for a soap: EMMY. Oh well, I tried to find EMMY award logo, look at what Google gave to me.

22A: Garden hose feature: NOZZLE. Then later on HOSE as an answer to 55: Stockings. I don't know. I still don't like this dupe, even if they are within Rich Norris's 6-letter limit.

24A: Disney pooch: PLUTO. Great list of Disney dog names. GOOFY has 5 letter too.

26A: Islamabad's land: Abbr.: PAK. Just learned that Islamabad literally means "Abode of Islam". I suppose "bad" is a suffix for "abode"?

27A: Above, in odes: O'ER. Opposite 'neath.

32A: By surprise: ABACK. As in "Taken ABACK"

33A: "That is to say ....": I MEAN. I say this often, since I always have difficulty expressing myself. My oral English is very poor.

34A: Himalayan mystery: YETI. Exactly, it's a mystery. I like this better than "Mountain sighting" clue.

35A: Dark earth pigment: UMBER. Strange, it's rooted in umbra (shade/shadow), same as umbrella.

37A: Programming language with a coffee-cup logo: JAVA. It's still hot.

41A: Ho-hum state: ENNUI

43A: Ear-related: AURAL. Sometimes the answer is OTIC.

48A: It has a charge: ION. Yep, ION is charged particle.

49A: Space shuttle astronaut Jemison: MAE. Got the answer from down fills. Have difficulty remembering her name. Wikipedia says she was the first woman of African ancestry to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the space shuttle Endeavor on September 12, 1992. What does this sentence mean? I wonder if Spirit is awake at this moment when I am typing.

50A: Seller of TV time, e.g.: AD REP. Mine was AD MAN.

51A: Resealable bag brand: ZIPLOC. Can't live without ZIPLOC. Don't like Glad.

53A: Cheese with an edible rind: BRIE. The cheese is named after the French region Brie. The Dutch cheese Edam is also named after the Edam town in Holland. I love Etam bra/thong. Don't know what/whom the heck it's named for.

62A: Leave the premises: EXIT

63A: "__who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it": Santayana: THOSE. Oh, George Santayana originated this line. It's from his book "The Life of Reason". I did not know that. Sometimes life has no reasons. You just fall in love, blindly. Or as Pascal said: The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.

64A: Florida attraction: KEYS. Have never been to FL. Is Miami part of Florida KEYS?

65A: D.C. Party: DEMS. Holy hot wick! I always thought the abbreviation for the Democratic Party is D or DEM.

66A: Caravan stops: OASES. Singular is oasis. Stop and find yourself some wet dates, so sweet!

Down:

1D: Depression between hills: VALE. Oh well, so many choices: VALE, DALE, GLEN, DELL.

2D: Bigheads have big ones: EGOS

3D: Goes for, as straws? GRASPS AT. I like this clue.

5D: Explore caves: SPELUNK. We had SPELUNK & spelunker discussions on the blog last summer.

6D: Team that ended a "curse" in 2004: RED SOX. Remember Curt Schilling's bloody sock? The "curse" refers to the selling of Babe Ruth to the Yankees. The "Curse of the Bambino".

7D: Hit the ground: ALIT. "Hit" is past tense. I was trapped.

8D: Home of "The Office": NBC. Have never watched "The Office".

8D: Fake ID user, often: TEENAGER

10D: Capital of Lorraine: METZ. No idea. Quite close to Germany. No wonder it has a letter Z in the end.

11D: E-tail giant: AMAZON. Have never bought any baseball card from AMAZON.

12D: Beamed: SMILED. When Chinese take photos, we say "qie zi" (eggplant) rather than "cheese".

13D: "Breathing Lessons" Pulitzer winner Anne: TYLER. No idea. Oh, "Breathing Lessons" is a novel. I thought the book is about breathing and meditation. Her face looks familiar. I remember those bangs.

18D: Info to crunch: DATA

23D: Creole vegetable: OKRA. "Fighting OKRA" is a very strange mascot.

25D: More doilylike: LACIER. Are you OK with this clue?

26D: Apple of quince: POME. OK, here is the defintion of POME fruit from dictionary: a fleshy fruit, such as an apple, pear, or quince, having several seed chambers and an outer fleshy part largely derived from the hypanthium. Also called false fruit. Strange, they are real fruit to me. Pomme is French for apple. Pomme de terre is potato.

29D: Face on a fin: ABE. Might be a stumper for those solvers who are not familiar with the American slang five-dollar bill (fin). LAT puzzle appears in more than 700 daily and Sunday papers in the world, including Mexico, Bermuda, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Indian, Japan, Taiwan, etc.

30D: Fibula neighbor: TIBIA. Ouch! Looks painful.

31D: Hurt: INJURE

35D: Emptied one's bags: UNPACKED

36D: Stubborn critter: MULE. And APES (56D: Long-armed critters). Monkeys have long arms too. I think mine are also very long too.

38D: Wyoming tribe members: ARAPAHOS. No idea. But Cheyenne does not fit. What does ARAPAHOS mean in their own language?

39D: Winery container: VAT

42D: Pixar fish: NEMO. Love "Finding NEMO" (Pixar 2003 film).

43D: Go along with: AGREE TO

44D: Minor failing: FOIBLE

45D: Not out-of-bounds, as a ball: IN PLAY

46D: Gem weight units: CARATS. No wobbling between CARATS and KARATS this time.

48D: "The Compleat Angler" author Walton: IZAAK. Is the book very famous? I got this guy from across fills. How am I supposed to know? He died in 1683. Anyone wrote down ISAAC first?

52D: Zoom, for one: LENS

53D: Panama border?: BRIM. Panama hat. Can't fool me.

59D: Dismiss: AXE. Strange to see AX & AXE in one grid.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Apr 28, 2009

Tuesday April 28, 2009 Joy C. Frank

Theme: And Keep the Wolf (from the door)

20A: Talk aimlessly: SHOOT THE BULL

31A: Blame someone else: PASS THE BUCK

41A: Dress to impress: PUT ON THE DOG

55A: Pass its peak, slangily, as a TV series: JUMP THE SHARK

I hope I got the theme right. They all seem to be idioms consisting of verb + the + animal name. I've never heard of PUT ON THE DOG. It's the only theme entry with a verb phrase.

Is PUT ON a basketball term as well? SHOOT, PASS & JUMP are.

I can't think of another verb + the + animal name common saying, can you? Wikipedia does "Hold the horses" is an alternative of "Hold your horses" though.

Shouldn't the SOOT clue (47A: chimney sweep's sweepings) be in singular form?

Felt today's puzzle is easier than yesterday's.

Across:

9A: Succeed: GO FAR. Multiple word answer still gives me trouble.

14A: Widespread: RIFE. Always clued as "Teeming (with)" in our old puzzle.

15A: Made fun of, in a way: APED. Only in crossword.

16A: Prefix meaning "vinegar": ACETO. Dictionary gives acetometer as an example. It's an instrument for measuring the amount of acetic acid present in a solution. I wanted acid? something. The bitter word ACRID is rooted in acid.

17A: Where the steeple is, vis-a-vis the church: ATOP. This simple word stumped me, as I had CRUDE rather than CRASS for 1D: Boorish.

18A: Composer Édouard: LALO. Got his name from the down fills. Found out that LALO is boy name meaning "To sing a lullaby". No wonder this guy was a composer.

19A: In-your-face challenge: SUE ME. Intersects FEE (11D: Lawyer's charge).

24A: Opposite of "All rise": BE SEATED

28A: Snowfall unit: INCH. One blank short for my FLAKE. I like the clue. "Rainfall unit" too.

30A: Ex-quarterback Dan: MARINO. Learned this guy's name from the Nutrisystem weight loss commercial. Oh, Wikipedia says he spent his whole career with the Dolphins, holding or having holding all kinds of records. Is MARINO pronounced the same as the sheep merino?

37A: MD's calendar listing: APPT

38A: Traveler's choice: AIR. Not BY AIR?

39A: Fluids in shots: SERA. Reminds me of Swine Flu. I suppose there is no such epidemic in those Arab countries?

40A: Brazilian port: RIO. Do you think the Brazil supermodel Adriana Lima is beautiful?

45A: Space along the page border: MARGIN

48A: Old things: ANTIQUES. Have to be at least 100 years old. Between 20 to 100, they are called vintage I think.

57A: Margaret Mead subject: SAMOA. I forgot who Margaret MEAD is. It's clued as "Mead's milieu" in Argyle's puzzle. She wrote "Coming of Age in SAMOA". Those girls remind me of Bloody Mary of "South Pacific".

66A: Where Homer drinks Duff Beer: MOE'S. Learned this name from doing Xword.

67A: Insect repellent ingredient: DEET. Oh, it actually stands for DT (Diethyl Toluamide). I did not know that.

Down:

2D: Supple: LITHE. Thought of limber.

3D: What the game is, to Holmes: AFOOT. No idea. "The game is AFOOT" originally came from Shakespeare's "King Henry IV".

4D: One hiring relatives: NEPOTIST. Had difficulty obtaining this word. I actually knew the meaning of nepotism.

5D: Pasadena science institute, familiarly: CALTECH

6D: Colorful fish: OPAH. Also called moonfish.

7D: Fanzine focus: CELEB. This word appears so often in Xword. Have only seen CALEB the Biblical spy once.

8D: Hacienda brick: ADOBE. You won't find ADOBE in tropical area, right? Since they are built of clay.

9D: Dangerous pipe problem: GAS LEAK. I was thinking of water pipe.

10D: Of the eye: OCULAR. Got it with adjacent help.

12D: Place to get bucks fast, briefly: ATM. Good clue.

22D: "Semper fi" military org.: USMC. Once a Marine, Always a Marine. I read somewhere that Army actually has the best equipment.

26A: Año starter: ENERO. Had no idea that ano and año are vastly different.

27D: Rapper's cap: DO-RAG. Learned from doing Xword as well. Wikipedia says a popular folk etymology claims that the term derives from Drive-On RAG, a term first used by U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War to refer to amuslin bandage often used as a head covering.

29D: Oven output: HEAT. I was picturing fresh bread.

31D: Italian city known for its cheese: PARMA. Ham too.

32D: Like beehives: APIAN. Wanted HOLED.

33D: Baseball or golf: SPORTS. Is this clue written for me?

34D: Much of an obit: BIO

35D: Java holders: URNS. Thought of Java Island. Can Java be clued as "Jakarta holder"?

39D: Adjust for daylight saving time: SET AHEAD. No daylight saving time in China. We only have one time zone. Beijing Time is the standard time.

41D: Pleasingly pungent: PIQUANT. Ha ha, I filled in this word immediately and surprised that it's actually correct.

43D: Bullfighters: TOREROS. Same as matador, correct?

46D: Military action toys: G.I. JOES. Manufactured by Hasbro. The original 1964 figures must cost a lot of money now, like the original 1959 barbie.

49D: English Derby site: EPSOM. Why most of the major horse races are for 3-year-old?

50D: Dictator's aid: STENO

52D: Mexico meat: CARNE. Same root as carnal?

53D: Cliched: TRITE

54D: Shooting contest with traps: SKEET. Got the answer from across fills. I did not know what kind of equipment is involved in SKEET shooting. It's actually an Olympic event.

57D: "By the way...": SAY

Answer grid.

C.C.

Apr 27, 2009

Monday April 27, 2009 Pancho Harrison

Theme: What a Slugger!

17A: One who's at home on the range: COWPUNCHER

57A: Noisy eater: LIP SMACKER

10D: Oater villain who attacks from hiding: BUSHWHACKER

25A: Girl idolizing a pop star, perhaps: TEENYBOPPER

I did not know BOP can mean "strike/hit" too. TEENYBOPPER was not a familiar phrase to me. Nor did I know COWPUNCHER is simply a slang for cowboy.

Read a few pages of Molly Irvins's "Bushwhacked" several summers' ago. But I had never bothered to check what's the exact meaning of bushwhack. Wikipedia says one the most famous men who fought as a BUSHWHACKER was Jesse James. LIP SMACKER is a lip gloss brand too.

Plus BOOT HILL (28A: Gunfighters' graveyard) and NRA (55A: Org. that sticks to its guns?), this puzzle has some force!

Several affixes in today's grid: RESOD (64: Patch the lawn, in a way), USER (16A: Manipulative sort), SUER (54A: Litigant), and WRESTLER (38D: Andre the Giant, e.g.). Andre the Giant is also the nickname of Vogue's Andre Leon Talley, the adviser on fashion to the Obama's. He introduced Jason Wu to Michelle Obama.

Just found out earlier that Pancho in Pancho Harrison means "free man" in Spanish. Not an easy Monday for me at all. I think I am in a slump.

Across:

1A: Big name in copiers: MITA. Xerox, Canon & Ricoh are big to me. I've never heard of MITA copier.

5A: Improvise on stage: AD-LIB. Always thought Obama is good at AD-LIB. Had no idea that he relies on teleprompter heavily.

10A: Yawn-inducing speaker: BORE. And its anagram BOER (21A: Transvaal settler). Transvaal means "beyond the Vaal River" in Afrikaans. Is two a's spelling also common in Dutch language?

15A: Gaucho's rope: RIATA. Or REATA, often clued as "Giant" ranch.

19A: Venetian blind part: SLAT. Once Williams clued SLAT as "Louvre part" and confused the hell out of me. I did not know louver can be spelled as louvre, so I kept thinking of the museum.

20A: Make haste: HIE. Used to mix HIE with FIE.

22A: Words after "Hi, honey!": I'M HOME

24A:Counting everything: ALL TOLD

26A: Crock-Pot potful: STEW. Winter is over, no more STEW or chili.

27A: Antiquity, once: ELD. Oh, I had the wrong notion that ELD is an old adjective meaning "old".

35A: Jean Auel's "The __ of the Cave Bear": CLAN. Sigh! I totally forgot about this book. Someone mentioned the Daryl Hannah (Ayla) movie before. I bet it's a gimme for Crockett. Jean Auel lives in Oregon.

36A: 1998 Sarah McLachlan hit: ADIA. Here is the clip. I used to confuse the song with Verdi's AIDA.

40A: 1960s Cosby/Culp espionage series: I SPY. Learned the title I SPY from doing Xword. Sounds fun.

41A: Roger of "Cheers": REES. Nope. Not a familiar actor to me. He is a Welsh-American. He looks very cold.

42A: Do axels and lutzes: SKATE. Did not know the plural form of lutz is lutzes. What's the plural for Pez then? Pezes?

43A: Corned beef is usually ordered on it: RYE BREAD. What's the difference between RYE BREAD and Pumpernickel again? I am not fond of caraway seeds.

47A: Take back, as a public statement: RETRACT

51A: Fozzie Bear, e.g.: MUPPET. Fozzie Bear is new to me.

60A: Doily material: LACE. "Lingerie material" too.

62A: Queen played by Liz: CLEO. Have you tried Cleopatra's milk and honey bath?

63A: Norse thunder god: THOR. Thursday is named after him.

Down:

1D: Coffee-chocolate mix: MOCHA. Named after the Yemen port.

2D: How some tuna is packed: IN OIL

3D: Beach drier: TOWEL

4D: Dada pioneer Jean: ARP

8D: Suffix with Canaan: ITE. Suffix with Israel also.

9D: Voice between bass and tenor: BARITONE. Is Michael Bublé a BARITONE?

13D: Art Deco designer: ERTE. French pronunciation of his initials R. T. (Romain de Tirtoff).

18D: Horseshoe-shaped hardware: U-BOLT. I forgot what a U-BOLT is.

26D: Uses a hang glider: SOARS. Did not know what a hang glider is.

28D: Run, as colors in the wash: BLEED

32D: Light-skinned: FAIR. Filled in PALE first.

34D: Easy gait: LOPE. Wanted TROT.

35D: Use crib notes: CHEAT. Not familiar with "crib notes". I pictured notes written on baby's crib.

42D: Kama __: SUTRA. Kama is Hindu god of erotic desire. SUTRA is Hindu aphorism.

47D: Rene of "Tin Cup": RUSSO. She is an Italian-American. I thought she has Russian roots. "Tin Cup" is a good movie.

48D: Bracelet site: ANKLE. Not WRIST? What about anklet then?

51D: Ice cream drink: MALT. What's your daily beverage for dinner? I have a friend who drinks milk with his meal. Weird.

53D: Somewhat, in music: POCO. New word to me. ASSAI is "Very, in music". Both Italian are origins.

69D: IV amounts: CCS. Just had CCED the other day. Now I am waiting for CCING.

Answer Grid.

C.C.

Apr 26, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009 Norm Guggenbiller

Theme: Overheard at the Pub (SS SH)

24A: Nearly matching outfit's problem?: A TOUCH OF CLASH (A Touch of Class)

47A: Wild zebra party?: STRIPED BASH (Striped Bass)

71A: Basket weaving operation?: MESHY BUSINESS (Messy Business)

94A: Ski house that rustles in the wind?: SWISH CHALET (Swiss Chalet)

118A: Washington nonsense?: POLITICAL BOSH (Political Boss)

3D: Frenzy over 1970s-'80s sitcom?: M*A*S*H HYSTERIA (Mass Hysteria)

67D: Assertive simians: BRASH MONKEYS (Brass Monkeys)

I like STRIPED BASH the most. SWISH CHALET is great too. Seeing DEE DEE (125D: Political pundit Myers) below POLITICAL BOSH made me laugh. Some of her views are indeed POLITICAL BOSH.

MESHY BUSINESS is partly transferred. I guess the constructor/editor needs an odd number 13- letter phrase at row #11 (the center theme in a grid has to have an odd number of letters). But they couldn't find a better one. Both MESHY DIVORCE and MESHY BEDROOM are one letter short. Maybe you can think of a better one?

I don't know the meaning of Brash Monkeys & Mass Hysteria. So the humor is lost on me there. My favorite clue today is DOC (12D: Dopey friend?). We had discussions on the 7 Dwarfs' names before. "Happy/Grumpy/Sleepy friend?" would be excellent too.

Tough struggle again. Too many unknowns for me. I felt like I was playing US Open with only 3 clubs in my bag: driver, 7-iron and putter. Some of the clues are tough. For example, OCT (54A: Natl. Pizza month). I would have got it if it were clued as "World Series month". Maybe not. The World Series month this year will extend to November.

Oh, I finally saw Bo Derk's TEN last night. And the RAVEL "Boléro" part kind of disappointed me. It's not as sexy as I had expected. Fun to see both TEN (5D: Perfection symbol) and RAVEL (55A: Tangle) in the grid though, though they are clued differently.

I found this similar themed puzzle in Jim's database. It has STRIPED BASH also.

Across:

1A: De Niro's "Raging Bull" role: LAMOTTA. Stumped immediately. Have never seen "Raging Bull". Not familiar with the boxer Jake LaMotta either. He is still alive. Wikipedia says he is also nicknamed "The Bronx Bull".

8A: Herod's fortress: MASADA. Hebrew for "fortress". Another stumper for me. See this picture. Did King Herod build it?

14A: "I can't be the only one thinking this": IS IT ME. Got it with the down help.

23A: Hustler's target: AMATEUR. I don't get this one. Why?

21A: Emcee's deliveries: INTROS

22A: "Sorry": NO SOAP. Did not come to me quickly. I've heard of this slang though.

23A: 32-Down player: COSTNER. And NESS (32D: Capone harasser). From "The Untouchables". Great movie.

26A: Repeat: ECHO

27A: Assimilate: ABSORB. And ATTUNE (83D: Adjust). Same first letter in one-word clue and one-word answer. I start to like this style now.

29A: Name in a B-29 lore: ENOLA. ENOLA Gay. Named after the pilot's mother.

30A: Play-__: DOH. You won't believe it. But really I've never heard of Play-DOH. I suppose the DOH is playing on "dough"?

31A: Sleep lab subject: INSOMNIAC

34A: Vibrations: TREMORS

40A: Zany Martha: RAYE. Very often COCA is clued as "Zany Imogene". Why "Zany" all the time"?

41A: Popular Apple: IMAC

43A: Inter __: ALIA. Among others. Et ALIA is "and others".

44A: Chooses not to accept: PASSED ON. Thought of OPTED OUT first.

50A: Terrestrial salamanders: EFTS. And newt. I learned both from doing Xword.

51A: Shade of gray: STEEL. Did not know STEEL can be a color.

60A: Muscular: TONED. Madonna is so thin now. Her arms are always very TONED. Notice the red string Cabala bracelet?

63A: Outcast: PARIAH

66A: Tonsillitis-treating MDS: ENTS. Trouble for me. I am used to the "Tolkien trees" clue. ENT is Ear, Nose, and Throat.

67A: Catch: BAG. Thought of NAB first.

70A: Brit. recording giant: EMI

75A: Play with robots: R.U. R. The Capek play where the word "robot" is introduced. I tanked. Might have got it if the clue were "Play about robots".

76A: Actor Stephen: REA. "The Crying Game" had a profound impact on me.

77A: Prefix with _ cardium: PERI. Pericardium is the membranous sac enclosing the heart. PERI is prefix "around", cardium denotes an organ/tissue associated with heart. New word to me.

78A: Currency exchange fee: AGIO. A word I keep remembering and keep forgetting.

79A: Zippo filler: BUTANE

82A: Taken for: SEEN AS

86A: Ice dams may form in them: EAVES. Have never heard of the term "ice dams".

91A: Full: SATED

93A: Cleft site: CHIN. I did not know there is a special term for this hollow area in the CHIN.

98A: Betrays, as a spouse: TWO-TIMES. Is there a THREE-TIME? I mean, it's not unusual for a man to cheat on his girlfriend also. By the way, what's your definition of "lovers"? Do they have to have a sexual relationship?

100A: "Fisherman with __": Bazille painting. A NET. Holy hot wick! Where is the fisherman? Where is the net?

102A: Dominican diamond family name: ALOU. Baseball diamond. Not the African diamond diamond. The last ALOU (Moisés ALOU) just retired from baseball.

105A: Sidekick played by Bruce Lee in '60s TV: KATO. From "The Green Hornet". I learned from doing Xword. His Lee has the same character (李) as the Li in Jet Li, just different spelling.

106A: "Romanoff and Juliet" playwright Peter: USTINOV. Nope. He does not look like a man with such a complicated surname. Have never heard of "Romanoff and Juliet" either.

108A: Bummed: SCROUNGED. I like this word. Lots of consonants.

111A: Stamp on a bad check: NSF

114A: Church law: CANON. I wonder where CANON Camera got its name.

116A: Point of maximum Earth-moon separation: APOGEE. Opposite perigee.

117A: Black & Decker rival: SKIL. I forgot this Bosche brand. It was clued as "Big name in tool" last time.

122A: Unlikely protagonist: NONHERO. My goodness. It's a real word.

126A: Web communications protocol: TELNET. No idea.

127A: Steak orders: RIBEYES. Want some?

128A: "Gunsmoke" star: ARNESS (James). His name escaped me this morning. I definitely googled him before. He was Marshal Dillon.

129A Ukrainian port: ODESSA

130A: Goes by: ELAPSES

Down:

1D: Tied: LACED. And LOOSES (103D: Unties).

2D: BP merger partner: AMOCO. Merged in 1998. BP is big in China, so is SHELL.

4D: "Airplane!" automatic pilot: OTTO. No idea. Not familiar with the movie "Airplane!". I can't find the name OTTO in this Wiki article. PILOT is also the answer for 81A: Light in the kitchen. But it's only 5 letter. Rich Norris says he will change if it's a long word (6-letter or more) dupe.

6D: Calendar abbr.: TUE. Too vague for me. I need a "Mon. follower" to get the answer.

7D: Rich tapestry: ARRAS

8D: Noxious influence: MIASMA. Metaphorical sense?

9D: Shakespeare title lover: ANTONY. "Antony & Cleopatra". Of course, Romeo came to me first.

10D: Levels: STORIES. British for floors, correct?

11D: Caribbean resort island: ARUBA. The Netherlands has had a strange reach in its history. It also ruled Taiwan from 1624 to 1662, hence the name Dutch Formosa.

13D: Tennis legend: ASHE

14D: Like current regulations: IN FORCE. Tough multiple word answer for me.

15D: Architectural column base: SOCLE. New word to me. Same as plinth?

16D: Capital ESE of Kabul: ISLAMABAD

18D: More, to Miguel: MAS. Know No MAS, No MAS.

19D: Bk. after Galatians: EPH. Before Philippians. I need to commit those Bible books and their order into memory.

25D: Ready in the keg: ON TAP

28D: Brunei's island: BORNEO. See this map. It's the world's third-largest island Island, after Green Land and New Guinea.

31D: Martinique, e.g.: ILE. I had no idea that Martinique belongs to France.

33D: Newspaper no. CIRC

36D: High ground: RISE. Not a familiar definition to me.

39D: Very, to Vivaldi: ASSAI. Allegro ASSAI, very quick.

42D: Two-part glove: MITTEN

44D: Sneeze inducer: PEPPERS

45D: Blazing: AFLAME

46D: Polo Grounds star: OTT (Mel). He played his entire career for NY Giant. HOFer of course.

48D: Where to see piggies: TOOTSIES. Had no idea that TOOTSIE is a slang for foot. Dictionary says it's also a slang for sweetheart/darling/prostitute. What a word!

49D: Prepare for the prom: DRESS UP. No prom in China.

52D: Modern bazaar: EBAY. I wanted MALL again.

53D: Rake over the coals: LAMBASTE. "Rake over the coals" is a new idiom to me.

57D: Somewhat wet: DAMPISH. Only know damp.

59D: Measuring device: GAUGE

62D: Fed. accident investigator: NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board). Created in 1975. I have trouble remembering this abbreviation also.

64D: Louse: HEEL

68D: Mame, to Patrick: AUNTIE. Blanked again. It's from AUNTIE Mame.

69D: Links targets: GREENS. Was thinking of the flags.

72D: Full house sign: SRO

73D: One with a take-out order: HIT MAN. "Take-out" means to murder. Great clue.

74D: New Rochelle college: IONA. See their logo GAELS. Makes great sense, since IONA is also a Scottish Island.

80D: Implied: TACIT

81D: Dust gun output: PESTICIDE. I did not know what a dust gun is.

86D: Birthright seller: ESAU. Often clued as "Biblical twin". Brother of Jacob.

87D: Botanical bristles: AWNS

88D: __: CONG: VIET. Vietnamese is so different in Chinese. I can't make sense of their language at all.

90D: Big bucks: ELKS. Great clue. ELKS are big. Those antlers make me headache.

95D: Buds: CRONIES. Always thought CRONY has a negative tone.

96D: Serious disorder: HAVOC

97D: Atlantic sport fish: TARPONS. Here is a big one. It's silvery. I wonder if the raw fish tastes good.

104D: "You __ Know": Alanis Morissette hit: OUGHTA. Here is the clip. Is it a very well-known song?

107D: The NBA's Archibald et al: NATES. Then NBA later appears as the answer for 123D: 123D: Wizards' grp.

109D: Coax, for instance: CABLE. Coax is short for coaxial. Coaxial CABLE. Hard for me.

110D: History or mystery: GENRE

112D: "Yes __!" SIREE

113D: Dentist's advice: FLOSS. New concept in China.

115D: Intl. alliance since 1949: NATO. Hmm, THE US is a NATO founding member. What a brutal fill the other day.

117D: George of the Jungle's pet elephant: SHEP. No idea. Have never head of "George of the Jungle". Thought it's a dog.

118D: Hi-tech organizer: PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). I am a low-tech dummy. Probably will never own a blackberry.

121D: Set the pace: LED. I like the tense ambiguity in set.

123D: "Starry Night", for example: OIL. Ah, have to show "Starry Starry Night" again. There is always yellow in Van Gogh's blue.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Apr 25, 2009

Saturday April 25, 2009 Barry Silk

Theme: None

Total blocks: 28

Total words: 72

Almost a pangram. Only letter Q is missing. Our fellow LAT solver Anon HP said the other day that it's called a lipogram. A rather scrabbly lipgram, 2 J's, 2X's, and a Z, several K's as well, hallmarks of Barry Silk.

This grid looks interesting. The upper left corner and the lower right corner are almost blocked off, if not for the letter A (Intersection of 20A: ASTR & and 8D: GREAT WHITE SHARK) and its symmetrical partner letter H (Intersection of 47A: MATH and GREAT WHITE SHARK ). Phew! Dangerous.

I had huge, huge trouble with this puzzle. The grid itself does not look as intimidating as eight 15-letter themeless we had a while ago, only two 15-letter fills crossing each other, right in the middle of the grid. But boy, those 8-letter long words are hard to get. And there are 12 of them.

Lots of clever, tricky clues. My favorite clue today is AUGERS (41D: Boring things). I was thinking of the ENNUI boring boring.

I also noticed that our editor Rich Norris likes to clue one-word answer with one word clue that has the same first letter. In today's grid, there are SAG (Slump), MAUL (45A: Manhandle) and ASTONISH (12D: Amaze).

Across:

1A: Super: WHIZ-BANG. Stumped immediately, since my crossing answer for 1D: Totals (WRECKS) was SUMS UP.

9A: Winged mimics: MYNAHS. Barry used the identical clue for this bird last time. Also spelled as myna.

15A: Listening device: RECEIVER. Ah, of course, but I was thinking of the hidden camera/bug.

16A: Where to see saucers: TEA SET. I was trapped again. Could not get the flying saucers out of my mind.

17A: Drill: EXERCISE. Did not get this one either.

18A: Turkey appendage: WATTLE. Kind of ugly. Dewlap is 6-letter too.

19A: Trysting places, perhaps: CAFES. Oh, I thought a tryst always involves sexual activities.

20A: Sagan's subj.: ASTR (Astronomy). ASTR/ASTRO is a prefix for star.

22A: Sugar ending: OSE. As in fructose, sugar found in fruits.

23A: Presidential middle name: KNOX. James K. Polk.

24A: Needing to reorder: OUT OF. Mine was EMPTY.

26A: Shrub of the genus indigofera: ANIL. See this shrubby picture. "Genus indigofera" means nothing to me. I am more used to the "Blue dye/Indigo" clue.

27A: Line part: Abbr. SEG. I failed here also. Total mess in this upper left corner.

28A: Major artery: Abbr. EXPWY (Expressway). Another swampy area for me.

29A: It may be fine: PRINT. I was thinking of flour.

30A: God to more than a billion: ALLAH. Gimme. Last time Fred clued ISLAM as "Faith of more than 1 billion".

31A: Kawasaki watercraft: JET SKI. Have never heard of this brand name, nor have I heard of its manufacturer Kawasaki. Do they have factories here in the US?

32A: Immigrant's status perhaps: DUAL CITIZENSHIP. For some yes, China does not allow dual citizenship.

36A: Detach, in a way: UNCLIP. I suppose so. I thought UNCLIP is a made-up word. But it exists in dictionary.

37A: Yellowish brown: TAWNY. Oh well, last time it's clued as "Brownish orange". Good evening, are you TAWNY?

38A: Honored formally: CITED. I felt stupid. I had *ED there forever.

39A: O'Connor of "Xena: Warrior Princess": RENEE. No idea. Wikipedia says she plays the role of Gabrielle. I do know Lucy Lawless though.

43A: Speaker of baseball: TRIS. Should be a gimme for everyone now.

44A: German-speaking Swiss city: BASEL. Also spelled as BASLE. See this map. German-speaking indeed. Wikipedia says it borders France and Germany. And many pharmaceutical companies like Novartis and Roche are headquatered there.

46A: Yom __: holiday, in Hebrew: TOV. Elissa just mentioned that certain Jewish holidays never falls on Sabbath (Saturday). I forgot which ones. TOV is literally "good". Yom TOV is "Good day". Mazel TOV is "good fortune" in Hebrew.

47A: Course with many functions: MATH. I am bad at MATH. Are you?

48A: Dance with a kick: CONGA. No idea. Like this?

49A: Mate's response: AYE SIR. Ship officer. I was thinking of the Autralian pal "Mate". G'DAY is 2 letter short.

51A: Declared: ADJUDGED. New word to me.

54A: Picket fence: PALING. Also a new word. I think I will remember this word. Will associate it with Sarah Palin.

55A: Space science: ROCKETRY. Was this a gimme to you?

56A: Bastille Day party site: ELYSEE. I had no idea that French president holds an annual garden party at the Palais de L'ELYSEE on Bastille Day.

57A: London-born supermodel: KATE MOSS. Great to see her full name in a grid. That's her iconic tousled hair. My first thought was CAMPBELL (Naomi) though. It has 8 letters as well.

Down:

2D: Hydrocarbon obtained from petroleum: HEXANE. No idea. HEX is a prefix for six, and ANE is a suffix for saturated hydrocarbon.

3D: Weather phenomenon also known as pogonip: ICE FOG. Like this? I did not know the meaning of pogonip. Dictionary defines it as "an ice fog that forms in the mountain valleys of the western U." I wrote down EL NINO, knowing full well it's not right.

4D: Prestone competitor: ZEREX. Both are antifreezes. It appears in our puzzle before. Identical clue. But I forgot again.

5D: Some pens: BICS. My first fill.

6D: Prefix with fauna: AVI. Prefix for bird.

7D: Super __: game console: NES. Learned from doing Xword.

8D: Two-ton predator: GREAT WHITE SHARK. Is two-ton their average weight?

9D: Cal. sequence: MTWTF. Week days. I did not get this one. But I will next time. He can add Saturday and Sunday as well.

10D: Time for a revolution?: YEAR. I like this clue.

11D: Jazzman Adderley: NAT. Not a familiar name to me.

13D: National Museum of Finland site: HELSINKI. Easy guess. Where else could it be?

14D: Dart feature: STEEL TIP

21D: Vegan staple: SOY. Ah, Barry Silk.

24D: Plant in the primrose family: OXLIP. I had no idea that OXLIP belongs to the primrose family.

25D: __ the crack of dawn: UP AT

26D: Bohemian: ARTSY. So what's the difference between ARTY and ARTSY?

28D: Conqueror of Valencia in 1094D: EL CID. Interesting, Wikipedia says EL is from the Spanish article EL, then CID comes from the Arabic sidi meaning lord.

29D: Trattoria offering: PENNE. Plural of Italian PENNA, feather/quill pen in origin.

30D: Everything, to Ernst: ALLES. German for "Everything". Unknown to me. I could only think of the French TOUT(E).

31D: Valuable rock: JEWEL

32D: Multipurpose roll: DUCT TAPE. Only found out this morning that it's developed by Johnson & Johnson. I always thought it's a 3M invention.

33D: It merged with Goodrichin 1986D: UNIROYAL. No idea. Wiki said UNIROYAL was called The United States Rubber Company before 1961. And it's one of the original 12 Dow stocks.

34D: In an energetic way: ACTIVELY. I suppose so.

35D: First name in Western fiction: ZANE (Grey). Total stranger to me. Wiki says he was born in Zanesville, Ohio. And the city is named after his maternal ancestor Ebnezer Zane, some land speculator and road builder.

40D: Serenaded: SANG TO

42D: Knight who sings: GLADYS. This name looks very familiar to me. I must have googled her before. The only Knight I could think of is the Knight who throws a chair.

44D: One might precede a tug: BARGE. It's flat bottomed. It needs to be towed or pushed. That's all I know about BARGE.

45D: Way to the web: MODEM. I wanted LOG IN.

47D: Infielder's cry: MINE. 6-letter blank would be I GOT IT.

48D: Salad veggie: CUKE. Love pickled cucumber.

50D: Reunion moniker: SIS

52D: 1988 noir remake: DOA. No idea. The remake starred Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan. The 1950 original starred Edmond O'Brien (1950).

53D: Where sts. meet: JCT (Junction). Sts = Streets. I thought it's saints. But I can't think of a good abbreviation for heaven. Very tricky clue.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Apr 24, 2009

Friday April 24, 2009 Robert H. Wolfe

Theme: Short Paths

18A: Speed?: BURN UP THE RD (Road)

24A: Average Joe?: MAN ON THE ST (Street)

35A: Badly fluster?: DR (Drive) TO DISTRACTION

50A: Excessive charge?: HWY (Highway) ROBBERY

57A: Way out?: AVE (Avenue) OF ESCAPE

Maybe it's not structurally possible to position all the above street-type theme answers at the very end of the phrases. Or all in the beginning.

Dictionary says "man in the street" means "Average Joe", not "on the street". I found out that MAN ON THE STREET is a Bob Dylan song. Actually, several of the above theme entries are song titles.

I had huge trouble with this puzzle. I always do when I can't catch the theme earlier on. Lots of abbreviations in the grid. Robert H. Wolfe (the last one on the list) is another of Stan Newman's Newsday regular contributors. His bio says he is a veterinarian.

Across:

1A: Year in which Michelangelo began work on "David": MDI. I got M immediately from MAI (1D: Printemps month), which is French for May. Printemps is "spring". But I had trouble obtaining DI. The clue would have been a straightforward "Roman 1501" if it were a Monday/Tuesday puzzle.

4A: NCAA Mountain West Conf. team: UNLV. University of Neveda, Las Vegas. The Runnin' Rebels. Wikipedia says it's located in a Las Vegas suburb called Paradise. Here is a list of all Mountain West Conference members.

14A: Jordin Sparks duet: NO AIR. See this clip. Someone (Embien?) linked this song on the blog before. But I forgot all about it. Jordin Sparks is the winner of Season 6 of "American Idol".

16A: Place: STEAD. I was thinking of a verb.

17A: Doctrine: ISM

20A: Marching band wind: FIFE. Just learned that FIFE is rooted in German Pfeife, meaning " pipe". FIFE can be a verb also. Chinese dizi is a kind of flute too.

22A: Kept in the loop, for short: CCED. Trouble for me. I was not thinking of the email cc.

23A: Barbera d'__: Italian wine: ASTI. Easy guess, since ASTI is the wine region. I've never heard of this red wine.

26A: Center: CORE

27A: Exaggerate: OVERDO

28A: Sash insets: PANES. Oh window. I was picturing kimono obi. Obi is literally "sash" in Japanese.

29A: Jacket specification: LONG. Not large?

30A: Antique shop transaction: RESALE. Someone bought this first issue of Sports Illustrated at an antique shop for only $15. I've never had any luck there. How about you?

41A: Puts out: ISSUES. I did not know "Put out" can mean publish.

42A: "Getting to Know You" singer on Broadway: ANNA. From "The King and I". I've never heard of the song.

43A: Splendor: ECLAT. Ah, "Brilliant success". I often confuse this word with ECLAIR.

47A: In any way: SO EVER. I've never used SO EVER alone, always "What SO EVER".

49A: Collar: NAIL. Verb.

54A: "Power Lunch" airer: CNBC. I like Sue Herera. The guy on her right is Bill Griffeth. My husband watches "Power Lunch" every day.

55A: San __: REMO. Which one are we referring to here?

60A: One might be run before bedtime: TUB. Yep, every night, for me.

62A: Volley: SALVO

63A: Folded food: TACOS. Not a fan of Mexican food. Too hot.

64A: "Walking on Thin Ice" singer: ONO. I was not aware of this song. Wikipedia says Yoko Ono and John Lennon concluded the recording of this song on Dec 8, 1980. And it was upon their return from the recording studio to their home that Lennon was murdered.

65A: Colchester's county: ESSEX. Alliteration again. I guessed. I pen in ESSEX for all the 5-letter county clues. I had no idea where Colchester is. Wikipedia says it claims to be the oldest town in Britian.

66A: Ships, to sailors: SHES

67A: Dietary no.: RDA. Is it Recommended Daily Allowance or Recommended Dietary Allowance?

Down:

2D: The doghouse, so to speak: DISFAVOR. Would not have got the answer without the across fills.

3D: At hand: IMMINENT. Are they really interchangable? Can you give me an example? I thought "At hand" means "close by".

4D: Straighten: UNBEND. Mercy me! This is a real word. I thought the constructor made it up.

5D: __-turn: NO U. Boy, I felt stupid. The answer did not come to me readily at all. Need more time to adjust to multiple word fills.

6D: Tree with durable wood: LARCH. Wikipedia says it's waterproof too, hence it's used in building yachts and boats. Like teak, I suppose.

6D: Edwards who played Ben Casey: VINCE. New actor to me. Have never heard of the TV series "Ben Casey" either.

9D: Odysseus' kingdom: ITHACA. OK, here is Sean Connery's ITHACA again. Still can't believe Connery is a misogynist.

10D: "Rob Roy" actor: NEESON. Which is your favorite Liam NEESON movie? Dennis probably likes his "Les Misérables".

11D: "La Nausée" author: SARTRE. See the book cover. All SARTRE's love interests (except Simone de Beauvoir of course) seemed to be pretty but dumb. He declined the Nobel Prize. Probably mad that Camus got his first.

12D: Swirls: EDDIES

19D: Summer term at UCLA?: PDTS. PDT is Pacific Daylight Time. I outsmarted myself, thinking "summer" is a wordplay on one who sums up, so I wrote down ADD immediately.

21D: Pass up: FORGO. "Precede" is FOREGO.

24D: Form: MOLD

25D: Spelling et al: TORIS. I was trapped again, thinking of the spelling spelling, not Tori Spelling.

28D: Fan-shaped muscle: PEC. I suppose it's "Fan-shaped".

31D: Leader of Senegal?: ESS. Can't fool me! Senegal starts with letter S, hence "leader".

32D: Onetime Beatle Sutcliffe: STU. I know there was a 5th Beatle. Could not remember his name though. I am so happy that it's not clued as "Alphabet trio" again like RST (8D: Alphabet trio).

34D: Catch, oater-style: LASSO

36D: Code word: DIT

37D: Billy Blanks' fitness program: TAE BO. Portmanteau of TAE kwon do and Boxing.

38D: Market figure: INVESTOR. I was thing of the real number, not person. Good clue.

39D: 18 holes, say: ONE ROUND. More used to "A ROUND".

43D: Box up: ENCASE

44D: Boxing surface: CANVAS. Just learned this fact a few weeks ago.

45D: Risks a lawsuit, in a way: LIBELS. I often misspell this word as LIBLE.

46D: dining area, perhaps: ALCOVE

48D: Haunt: OBSESS. Wrote down HARASS, which is actually "Hound".

50D: Otto I was its first leader: Abbr.: HRE. Holy Roman Empire (800-1806). The last one is Francis II, who abdicted and dissolved the Empire during the Napolenic Wars, according to Wikipedia.

51D: Lincoln-to-Cheyenne direction: WEST. I like this clue.

52D: Character-building grps.: YMCAS

58D: Roald Dahl's "Fantastic Mr. __": FOX. The answer revealed itself. I am not familiar with this book.

59D: "Annabel Lee" poet: POE. Nice clip.

61D: Squeezer: BOA. No idea. Is it because the snake squeezes?

Answer grid.

Happy Birthday to our fellow solver Kazie!

C.C.