Oct 5, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009 Billie Truitt

Theme: S and S

19A: What little girls are made of, so it's said: SUGAR AND SPICE

33A: Out of harm's way: SAFE AND SOUND

40A: Light lunch: SOUP AND SALAD

55A: Pleasantly concise: SHORT AND SWEET

Argyle blogging.

This is one of the easiest ones yet. If you would like to add your own S and S, remember it should be 12 or 13 letters to fit the puzzle, e.g., Slip and Slide, but not Stop and Shop.


9A: Roe source: SHAD. Any of several unrelated fishes.

13A: Most eligible for the draft: ONE A

14A: Like a snowy landscape: WHITE.

15A: "Royal" nuisance: PAIN. I've heard this mostly as a qualifier: not just a pain in the a**, but a "Royal" pain in the a**.

16A: Put in pigeonholes: SORT.

17A: Duncan __: cake mix brand: HINES.

18A: Reformer for whom a Bible book is named: EZRA. Do you all know this fact?

22A: "That makes sense": I GET IT.

23A: The Blue Jays, on scoreboards: TOR. (Toronto). AL League, East Division. They've won 2 World Series, the same as the Twins.

24A: Place for a napkin: LAP.

27A: Prof's degree: PHD.

28A: Spat: TIFF.

31A: C.S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of __": NARNIA. .

38A: Prior to, poetically: ERE. Root word for ERST (67A: Previously, old-style)

39A: Courtroom figs.: ATTS. (Attorneys)

45A: "Queen of Soul" Franklin: ARETHA. Ah, the famous inauguration hat!

46A: Supermarket checkout unit: ITEM.

50A: Hesitant sounds: UMS. The "Mantra sounds" is OMS.

51A: Mexican Mrs.: SRA. (Señora)

53A: "Beats me": NO IDEA.

59A: Fuzzy fruit: KIWI. Full of vitamin C.

61A: "Shucks!": AW GEE.

62A: Castaway's spot: ISLE.

64A: Spud: TATER. (Potato)

65A: Use a swizzle stick: STIR.

66A: Modernists: NEOS. NEO is usually found in combination with other words, not standing alone as a noun.


1D: Grapevine news: GOSSIP.

2D: Sufficient: ENOUGH.

3D: Combined two companies into one: MERGED.

4D: Occupied, as a desk: SAT AT.

5D: Goatee's location: CHIN.

6D: __ legs: rear extremities: HIND.

7D: '50s nuclear experiment: A-TEST. (Atomic Bomb)

8D: Answer: RESPOND. Verb.

9D: Designer's detail, briefly: SPEC. SPEC could be shortened speculative or speculation but in this case, SPEC is the shortened form for specification.

10D: Coffee flavoring: HAZELNUT. Do you have a favorite coffee flavoring?

14D: "Just suppose ...": WHAT IF.

20D: Beatles meter maid: RITA.

25D: "__ That a Shame": Domino hit: AIN'T.

29D: Supply meals for: FEED.

30D: Iran's official language: FARSI. Now how did this slip into an easy-peasy Monday?

33D: Labor Day mo.: SEPT.

35D: Jacob's twin: ESAU.

36D: College housing: DORM. (dormitory)

37D: Phone caller's "Bet you don't recognize my voice!": GUESS WHO.

41D: Facetious "Of course": AH SO. Charlie Chan.

42D: Tell a story: NARRATE.

43D: Mortgage bank, e.g.: LENDER.

44D: Andy's old radio partner: AMOS.

47D: "__ Fideles": Christmas carol: ADESTE. "O Come All Ye Faithful".

52D: Engaged in battle: AT WAR.

54D: Start of a request to a genie: I WISH.

56D: Goes in haste: HIES.

57D: FBI employees: AGTS. (Agents)

58D: Depilatory product: NEET. Brand name. Nicely positioned under NEAT (34D: Tidy).

59D: Wichita's state: Abbr.: KAN. (Kansas or KS)

Answer grid.

Picture of the Day: Here is a great picture of what Clear Ayes dubbed as "California Coven + One" (Carol is from Oregon). They gathered at Milpitas, CA yesterday. Left to right: Chickie, Carol, Moon, JD, with Wolfmom (WM) and Clear Ayes seated.


Oct 4, 2009

Sunday October 4, 2009 Robert H Wolfe

Theme: Surprise Endings - The ending of each made-up film is an anagram of the last word of a well-known movie.

24A. Film about a soft-hearted creature?: TENDER IS THE THING. Thing/Night anagram. "Tender is the Night" is a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

32A. Film about a computer supervisor?: LORD OF THE FILES. Files/Flies anagram. I've never heard of the novel "Lord of the Flies". It's written by British novelist William Golding, Nobel Literature winner 1983.

51A. Film about Los Angeles losing its NFL team?: A FAREWELL TO RAMS. Rams/Arms anagram. "A Farewell to Arms" is a novel by Hemingway. The Rams moved from LA to St. Louis in 1995. I faintly remember this trivia.

69A. Film about Broadway beginners?: WEST SIDE TYROS. Tyros/Story anagram. The musical "West Side Story". Tyro means "beginner".

87A. Film about Santa enjoying his holiday cigar?: A CHRISTMAS CLARO. Claro/Carol anagram. "A Christmas Carol" is a novel by Dickens. Claro is a mild cigar.

105. Film about a home run derby?: DAY OF THE CLOUTS. Clouts/Locust anagram. "The Day of the Locust" is a novel by Nathanael West. Another unknown to me. Shouldn't there be a "The" in the theme answer then? Clout is a powerful hit/home run in baseball.

116. Film about gardening options?: PLACES IN THE EARTH. Earth/Heart anagram. Not familiar the movie "Places in the Heart" either. Looks like a strong cast.

Very "Surprising Endings" indeed.

Did you grok the theme immediately? I did not until I got A CHRISTMAS CLAROL. Bollixed quite a few fill, but was able to solve the puzzle with mild cheating.

Always a great feeling to finish a Robert H. Wolfe puzzle. I tend to have difficulty getting into his wavelength.


1. Make __: match the scorecard, in golf: A PAR. And TEE (9D. Elevator on the links?). Links = golf course.

5. Little hooters: OWLETS

11. Two pages: LEAF. Oh my, I thought LEAF is only one page.

15. Second Greek letter: BETA. Alpha, beta and gamma.

19. Dieter's word: LITE. And CALORIE (43A. Heat measure). I connect CALORIE with food consumption rather than the heat it food produces.

21. Being, in old Rome: ESSE

22. Indiana senator Bayh: EVAN. Gimme. Senator Bayh (pronounced like by) is a Democrat.

23. Gangsters' guns: GATS. Or RODS. "Gangsters' girls" is MOLLS.

27. Studio sign: ON AIR

29. Chem., for one: SCI. Hated chemistry while in school. Had a very menacing teacher.

30. Chicago-to-Louisville dir.: SSE

31. Name on an armored truck: BRINKS. Wow, I've never paid attention to the name on those armoured truck.

36. Small surgical knife: LANCET. New to me. Rooted in Lance. SCALPEL is "Small surgical knife" too.

37. Landlocked Afr. land: ETH (Ethiopia). Two other African landlocked countries are Lesotho and Swaziland.

49. Certain Prot.: EPIS (Episcopal). Saw this abbreviation somewhere before.

58. Continue after a setback, as one's life: GET ON WITH

61. Jack-in-the-pulpit family: ARUM. Nailed it today.

62. Clean a spill: MOP UP

63. Poker action: RAISE

64. Scary film staple: MONSTER

67. Flat-topped rise: MESA. Also a city in Arizona.

68. Picture-taking word ending: CAM. As in webcam/skycam.

74. Some NFL linemen: RTS (Right Tackles)

75. Publisher Chandler: OTIS. No idea. Wikipedia says this guy was the publisher of LA Times between 1960 and 1980.

77. Chews out: BERATES

78. __ Major: Great Dog constellation: CANIS. Latin for "dog".

80. 1/60 of a dram: MINIM. New word to me. Related to minimum I suppose.

82. Kennel home: CAGE

83. Pretended to have written earlier, as a letter: BACKDATES

91. Fishing spot: PIER

92. Glaswegian gal: LASS. Alliteration.

93. Drip from a bad pipe: LEAK OUT. Verb phrase.

96. Tallahassee sch.: FSU (Florida State University). The Seminoles.

97. Listless: MOPEY

100. Salt Lake City Olympics year: MMII (2002)

102. Command to Spot: SIT. Could be SIC.

104. Artist friend of Max Ernst: MAN RAY. Not a familiar name to me. He was a surrealist photographer. Full name in clue = Full name in answer.

112. Maintain: ALLEGE

113. Hairy Addams cousin: ITT

114. Harry Potter's pal: RON. Easy guess. Have never read any Harry Potter series. You've probably guessed from Jazzbumpa's IRON/I RON wordplay that his real name is Ron.

115. Wreck completely: TOTAL

121. Harley or Honda: BIKE

122. Filmmaker Riefenstahl: LENI. Most famous for her "Triumph of the Will" for Hitler. I remember her name by associating her with Lenin.

123. Forest feature: TREE

125. Away from the wind: ALEE

126. LAX listings: ETDS. ETD = Estimated Time of Departure.

127. Things in locks: OARS. Wanted KEYS. Good clue.

128. Ad with a credit card bill, e.g.: INSERT

129. Ding, but not dong: DENT. Good clue too.


1. Star in Perseus: ALGOL (AL-gol). Unknown to me. Also called the Demon Star. Al is Arabic for "the". Gol is from Ghoul, evil demon. Related to Gorgon Medusa, who was killed by Perseus (PUR-see-uhs).

2. Grand, perhaps: PIANO. Ah, we just had "Upright, for one" the other day.

3. Rose oil: ATTAR

6. Take away forcibly: WREST

7. Something to do with a business associate?: LUNCH. Oh, I misinterpreted the clue, thinking of something "of a business associate".

8. Comic Izzard: EDDIE. No idea. He is a British comic, born in ADEN (38A: Port in Yemen).

10. Pol. letters until 1991: SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic)

11. Abate: LESSEN

12. Politico Kefauver: ESTES. Adlai Stevenson's 1956 running mate.

13. Light gray: ASH

14. Most frail: FEEBLEST

15. Losing: BEHIND. Ha ha, Tigers lost again! And Twins won. Poor Jazzbumpa.

16. Demonstrate: EVINCE. Know this word. Have never used it though.

17. Failed suddenly, in slang: TANKED

18. Emotional strife: ANGST. Too much ANGST in rap.

26. Window over a door: TRANSOM. Just learned the phrase "over the transom" the other day.

28. Campus recruiters, briefly: ROTC

33. Govt. loan insurer: FHA (Federal Housing Administration). I drew a blank.

34. Pleasant forecast: FAIR

35. Nice notion?: IDEE. Nice is the city in SE France.

41. Like music composed for a libretto: OPERATIC

42. Another name for biotin: VITAMIN H. Big stumper. Did not know the meaning of biotin. Have never heard of Vitamin H either. It's a water-soluble B-complex vitamin.

44. Chou En-__: LAI. China's first premier. LAI is literally "come" in Chinese.

45. Frequently, in verse: OFT

46. Cheering cry: RAH. Not OLE.

47. High-pitched: FLUTY. I checked, it's a real word.

48. Dramatist Rice: ELMER. No idea. Wikipedia says he received Pulitzer for Drama for his 1929 play "Street Scene".

50. "__ lied": SO I. Wrote down YOU, influenced by Congressman Joe Wilson.

52. Diminishes: WANES. Mine was FADES.

53. Formerly, formerly: ERST.

55. Pre-meal drink: APERITIF. Not for me.

56. Attractions not to be missed: MUST-SEES

57. Baden-Baden et al.: SPAS. Baden-Baden is a German spa town. Baden is German for "bathe". Totally unknown to me. Was it a gimme for you, Kazie?

59. Sydney's state: Abbr.: NSW (New South Wales). Definitely a gimme for Kazie.

60. Hall of Fame NFL coach Ewbank: WEEB. Nope. Strange name.

64. Tiny parasites: MITES. GNATS have 5 letters too.

66. Music with many subgenres: ROCK. Emo is a kind of ROCK.

68. Long time out: COMA. And NAP (79D. Short time out). Nice echo.

70. Religious factions: SECTS. Like Shia, Sunni.

71. Ore cars: TRAMS

72. Long tale: SAGA. Epic too.

73. Low: SAD

76. Round Table title: SIR. Don't let it be forgot/That once there was a spot/For one brief shining moment that was known/As Camelot.

81. Used-car datum: MILEAGE

83. Call to Bo-Peep: BAA. Nursery rhyme. "Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep..."

84. First rescue boat: ARK. Noah's ARK is the first ever rescue boat.

86. Actress Joanne: DRU. She's in "All the King's Men".

88. Accept, as a marriage proposal: SAY YES TO

89. Ad writer's award: CLIO. Muse of history.

90. Explorer Ericson: LEIF. The first European to land in North America. Same pronunciation as LIEF (willingly).

94. Trojans' sch.: USC (University of Southern California)

95. Incline: TILT

97. Croquet striker: MALLET. Mostly wooden-headed.

98. Off the boat: ON LAND

99. Summary: PRECIS (prey-SEE). Rooted in precise. APERCU is "Summary" too.

100. Dull finishes: MATTES

101. Tale involving Greek gods, e.g.: MYTH

103. "That's a shame": TOO BAD

105. Eatery traditionally modeled after a rail car: DINER

109. Of service: UTILE

110. Like a movie seat with a coat on it: TAKEN

111. Winter fall: SLEET

117. S&L offering: IRA (Individual Retirement Account)

119. Suffix with Caesar: EAN. Caesarean. C-Section.

120. He followed FDR: HST. "The buck stops here".

Answer grid.


Oct 3, 2009

Saturday October 3, 2009 Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily

Theme: None

Total blocks: 32

Total words: 68

I am so curious about the original clues for this puzzle. They can't be so straightforward that even I could finish without much trouble.

There are seven grid-spanning fill in the Across. The stacking did not intimidate me at all. Several just popped up to me immediately with only a few letters penned in:

14A. "This can't be true!": YOU'RE NOT SERIOUS

17A. 25-Across's WWII command: EUROPEAN THEATER. And DDE (5A. WWII general who became pres.). We often see the abbreviated ETO clued as "DDE/IKE arena", nice to see its full name

31A. Scorned notion: HARE-BRAINED IDEA. Like the Cash-for-Clunkers, no?

37A. Oil and vinegar concoction: ITALIAN DRESSING. My first thought is vinaigrette.

38A. "Back off!": DON'T GET TOO CLOSE

55A. Title guy asked to "play a song for me," in a Byrds hit: MR. TAMBOURINE MAN. I only know Bob Dylan's version.

57. Cause of many traveling delays: AIR PORT SECURITY. And VAN (46A. Terminal-to-hotel transport).


5. __ Rouge: KHMER (kuh-MAIR). The Khmer people are the predominant ethnic group in Cambodia, just like the Han people in China (We have 56 ethnic groups in China). I am a Han. Rouge (red) is due to its communist party status.

10. Sch. support groups: PTAS (Parent Teacher Associations). No such support groups in our school.

18. Algae on the beach: SEAWEED. Nori (sushi wrapper) and kelp (dashi soup base) are probably the most popular edible seaweeds.

19. Semaphore user's output: SIGNALS. Sema is Greek for "sign". Phore is a suffix for "bearer/carrier". New word to me.

20. "__ Blu Dipinto Di Blu": 1958 hit: NEL. Italian for "in". The song title is literally "In the Blue Painted Blue" or "Volare", Italian for "To Fly". I can never remember it.

22. Nursery bed: CRIB. And COTS (50D. No-frills beds).

28. Devilish tot: IMP

39. SASE, e.g.: ENC. SASE = Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope. You've got to attach a SASE if you want an autographed card from those baseball players.

41. Not much: A TAD

48. Kind of fingerprint or code: GENETIC. Genetic fingerprint = DNA testing.

51. "Is it worth the risk?": DO I DARE. Nope, I don't dare, to eat a peach.

59. Davis of "Do the Right Thing": OSSIE. Always want GEENA.

60. Words before ghost or doctor: SEE A


1. Tars' affirmatives: AYES. Tar/salt/gob, all slang for sailor.

2. Licentious sort: ROUE. Roué is pronounced as roo-EY. Did you guys want RAKE again?

3. Certain something: AURA. I like the clue.

4. High martial arts rank: BROWN BELT. Only know black belt.

5. Get ready to pray: KNEEL

6. 1950s tennis great Lew: HOAD. Nailed him this time. He's a two-time Wimbledon champion (1956-57).

7. Part of a range: Abbr: MTN

8. Inexact nos.: ESTS (Estimates)

10. Beethoven's instrument: PIANO. See, you don't see Rich Norris repeats any clue. It's "Upright, for one" yesterday.

11. Nincompoop: TOTAL IDIOT

12. "The Mammoth Hunters" author: AUEL (Jean). Also the author of "The Clan of the Cave Bear".

13. Lith. et al., once: SSRS (Soviet Socialist Republics)

15. French for "sword": EPEE. Oh, good to know.

16. __ Park: Queens area near Forest Hills: REGO. No idea. What's the name origin of this park?

22. Scold: CHIDE

23. Boca __: RATON. A city in Palm Beach, Florida.

24. Ollie North's '80s "affair": IRAN-CONTRA. Is Ollie a nickname for Oliver?

25. "Divine Comedy" writer: DANTE. A Hell of a writer.

26. Inflicted upon: DID TO

27. Collapsed company chronicled in the 2005 documentary subtitled "The Smartest Guys in the Room": ENRON. Watched it immediately after its release. Not impressed.

29. Club for smart guys and girls: MENSA. Spanish for "stupid"(feminine adjective).

30. Alerted, as a doctor: PAGED

32. Important: BIG. As in big potato, slang for an important person.

34. Want-ad abbr.: EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity). EOE = Equal-Opportunity Employer.

35. U.S. Army medal: DSC (Distinguished Service Cross). Can't be DSM (Distinguished Service Medal) because medal is in the clue.

36. Martha's Vineyard natives, e.g.: ISLANDERS. Did not come to me readily.

43. Gets as a return: REAPS. You reap what you sow.

44. Prefix with sphere: ATMO. Atmosphere.

45. Book, to Bolívar: LIBRO. Spanish for "book". New to me. Bolívar is chosen for alliterative purpose.

46. Express, as an opinion: VOICE. Can't be OPINE because of "opinion".

47. Japanese aborigine: AINU (AHY-noo). The native language for "person".

48. Exam for a Wharton Sch. hopeful: GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test). A test for MBA hopefuls. I think GRE can be a substitute.

49. Port on its own lake: ERIE

51. Eins plus zwei: DREI. 1+2=3, in German.

52. Gallic girlfriend: AMIE. Cher ami (male), Chère amie (female).

53. Interest percentage: RATE

54. Pop musician from County Donegal: ENYA. Well, who else could it be, with the "County" tip off? One name singer can only be SEAL, SADE and CHER. Did I miss anyone?

56. __ Constitution: USS. The oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat in the world.

Answer grid.


Oct 2, 2009

Friday October 2, 2009 Jack McInturff

Theme: Let Me C - Letter C is inserted in front of a R-starting 4-letter word of a familiar phrase/word.

20A. Grouch in the army?: MILITARY (C)RANK. Military Rank. A grouchy person is a crank.

27A. Small-time hood's pottery?: PUNK (C)ROCK. Punk Rock. Punk=hood. Ruffian.

36A. Accident in a qualifying race?: HEAT (C)RASH. Heat Rash. Heat = preliminary or qualifying race.

47A. Family insignia for designer Edith?: HEAD (C)REST. Headrest. Edith Head was a costume designer with 8 Oscar awards. Did anyone put PIAF first?

54A. Jalopy used as a trade-in?: EXCHANGE (C)RATE. Exchange Rate. Both jalopy and crate refer to beat-up cars. New to me.

Too bad the base word headrest is single word. All the other theme answers have two-word base phrases.

Simple yet clever theme. Neat to have CYCLE (30D. Repeating series) connecting three of the theme answers. Neater to have a letter C placed in the very middle of the grid.

Quite a few unfamiliar names, but mostly obtainable from crosses.


1. List of options: MENU. Easy start.

14. Informed about: UP ON. Sometimes the answer is IN ON.

15. Rod Stewart's ex: ALANA. Also George Hamilton's ex.

16. Parade honoree: HERO

17. Sugar and spice product?: GIRL. Nursery rhyme: "... What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and all things nice". Boys from "snakes and snails and puppy dog tails."

18. Turbine part: ROTOR

19. __-Z: classic Camaro: IROC. I just remember it as I ROCK.

23. Upright, for one: PIANO. Or "Grand, for one". I like how it intersects PPP (23D. Very quietly). PPP stands for pianississimo. Piano can mean soft too, abbreviated as P.

26. Tell stories: LIE. Nice clue.

31. Hardwood tree: ALDER. Rot/water resistant. Birch family.

33. Downing St. VIPs: PMS (Prime Ministers). The "British legislators" are MPS (Members of Parliament).

34. Small island: CAY. Same as key.

39. Ford failures: EDSELS

42. "Bad" cholesterol, briefly: LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein). The "good" cholesterol is HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein). And OAT (29D. Cholesterol-reducing grain).

43. "The Gold Bug" author: POE. Easy guess. I was not aware of this short story.

46. Hedren of "The Birds": TIPPI. Melanie Griffith's mother.

51. '70s-'80s Pakistani leader: ZIA. Learned his name from doing Xword. Khan and ZIA.

53. Analyze grammatically: PARSE

64. River near Kassel, Germany: EDER. The red line? I only saw ELBE.

65. Like Chicago, so they say: WINDY. Chicago is nicknamed the "Windy City".

66. Where the Jazz play: UTAH. Utah Jazz.

67. Belgrade native: SERB

68. Pair in the middle of dressing?: ESSES. There are a pair of letter S in the very middle of the word "dressing".


3. Old Viking descendants of northern France: NORMANS. Derived from Norsemen.

4. Separate, as chain parts: UNLINK

5. Indian cover-up: SARI. I liked the clue. "Malaysian cover-up" is SARONG.

6. Congeal, as blood: CLOT

7. Pro __: RATA. In proportion.

8. Arctic jacket: ANORAK (AN-uh-rak). The Eskimo parka. The boy in the middle has a boy Dennis look.

9. Martin and Magdalene: MARYS. Don't know Mary Martin.

11. Harbingers: HERALDS

12. Many O. Henry endings: IRONIES. I like how it's placed side by side with MOCKERY (13D. Farce).

21. Express's opp.: LOC. Local?

24. Periodic table suffix: IUM. Elemental ending, as in titanium.

28. Old ColorTrak TVs: RCAS

35. Like worn tires: BALD. No tread.

36. With it: HEP

37. "My Fair Lady" flower seller: ELIZA. Eliza Doolittle.

38. Old vitamin bottle abbr.: RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance). What's the abbreviation on the "New vitamin bottle" then?

39. Refinery gases: ETHENES. Thought it's spelled ETHANES.

40. Carbon __: DIOXIDE. The greenhouse gas.

41. Phantom: SPECTER

43. Italian jewelry designer Elsa: PERETTI. No idea. Got her name from Across fill.

44. CIA predecessor: OSS (Office of Strategic Services)

45. When the French fry?: ETE. Ha ha, identical clue in Jack McInturff's March 25 puzzle.

47. Traditional Scottish dish: HAGGIES. Ewwww.

48. Yr.-end auditor: CPA. Kind of tired to see CPA every day. Probably not for KQ.

49. Inform on, slangily: RAT OUT

52. Really impressed: IN AWE

55. Chef's secret ingredient, perhaps: HERB. I only like chives.

56. Fish-eating birds: ERNS. OK, here is the correct ERN (Thanks again, Roger). Looks ferocious, doesn't it? TERN, on the other hand, looks rather dumb.

58. Actor Fernando et al.: REYS. Obtained his name from crossings. Spanish actor.

63. Short at the poker table: SHY

Answer grid.

Dot/Frank, read this interesting article on daily crossword & long marriage connections. 70 years, amazing!


Oct 1, 2009

Thursday October 1, 2009 Jonathan Seff

Theme: Homophones

17A: Doe: ANONYMOUS PERSON. John/Jane Doe. "A DEER, A FEMALE DEER" won't fit. It has 16 letters.

27A: Do: KEY NOTE IN A SCALE. Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti.

49A: Dough: BREAD BAKING NEED. Chinese don't bake. We steam our buns. Milk is not an ingredient in our dough either. Only flour, water and yeast.

65A: D'oh: HOMER SIMPSON CRY. Yep, D'oh is Homer's catch phrase.

Words are homophones if they have the same pronunciation but different spelling/meaning.

Words are homonyms if they have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meaning, such as left (past tense of leave) and left (opposite of right).

Also a bit of animal sub-theme:

71A: Animal: BEAST

72A. She-bears, in Seville: OSAS. He-bears is OSOS.

50D. White 66-Down, e.g.: ALBINO. And RAT (66D: Pied Piper follower).

51D. Cat, in Cancún: GATO. Netflix is headquartered in Los GATOS (the cats), CA.

Nice puzzle. Nice grid-spanning theme answers. The concept is quite original.


1. Gillette's __ II razor: TRAC. Not ATRA today.

5. Young reporters: CUBS. Cub reporter.

9. Half-and-half half: CREAM. The other half is MILK. Delicious clue.

14. __ sapiens: HOMO. Our genus.

15. European capital: OSLO. Four-letter capital. What else could it be?

16. Speed: HASTE. It makes waste.

20. Get loose for the game: WARM UP

21. French monarch: ROI. Louis XIV is the Le ROI Soleil (the Sun King).

25. Maker of ergonomic kitchenware: OXO. The cushioned rubber grips are definitely ergonomic.

35. Suffix with ranch: ERO. Ranchero (rancher). Spanish for ranch is "rancho".

36. Coastal bird: ERN. Or ERNE, the sea eagle. TERN is "Coastal bird" too, with a forked tail.

37. Curb, as spending: REIN IN. Tell the Congress.

38. Dentist's directive: BRUSH. FLOSS is five letter too.

43. Nearly boil: SCALD. My goodness. I had the wrong idea of SCALD then. I thought it more than boils.

44. Relating to the body's main blood line: AORTIC. From Kazie yesterday: The phrase "there oughta be A LAW" reminded me of the tongue-in-cheek Oz reference to people always saying "they oughta...", which is then shortened to "aorta" to refer to such people: "the great aorta".

46. Laddie's negative: NAES. Scottish for "no".

48. Indians, on scoreboards: CLE. Cleveland Indians. And another baseball term RBI (59A. Hitter's stat). Twins have to win tomorrow, otherwise, they are done.

53. Sushi fish: EEL. Hmmm, unagi.

54. Final Four initials: NCAA

55. __ acetate: banana oil: AMYL (AM-il). Rooted in Latin amylum, "starch". Unknown to me.

61. Duke Ellington's "Take the __": A TRAIN. Have never been to NY. Don't know where A TRAIN runs.

68. Big name in kitchen foil: ALCOA. They make the Reynolds Wrap. Dow 30 component.

69. Sculptor's subject: NUDE. Wanted BODY.

73. Promgoer's concern, maybe: ACNE


2. Gossipy Barrett: RONA. She is still alive.

3. Passionate deity: AMOR. Love god.

4. Hustler: CON MAN. Paul Newman's "The Hustler" is probably the best film on pool.


6. Military morale-boosting gp.: USO (United Service Organizations)

8. "Already?": SO SOON

9. "Evita" narrator: CHE. Learned from doing Xword. Have never seen "Evita".

11. Canadian gas sign: ESSO. Yep, they still call ESSO in Canana.

13. Clothing store section: MEN'S

18. Bygone Serbian auto: YUGO. No idea. Does YUGO stand for Yugoslavia?

19. "Finding Nemo" studio: PIXAR. It belongs to Disney now.

24. Laura of "Jurassic Park": DERN

26. Plural ending for neur-: OSES. Neuroses. Plural of neurosis. The clue doesn't sound natural to me.

27. Meal on a skewer: KEBAB. Shish KEBAB. KEBAB = roasted meat. Shish = spit. Turkish origin.

28. 1 + 1 = 3, for example: ERROR

29. "__ a Good Man, Charlie Brown": YOU'RE. Have never heard of this Broadway musical.

30. How contracts are usually signed: IN INK

31. Pres., vis-à--vis the armed forces: CIC (Commander in Chief)

32. Has __ up one's sleeve: AN ACE

33. City in which de Gaulle was born: LILLE. The French textile city. Eat worms if you missed this one. I mentioned LILLE & de Gaulle connection before. Close to the Belgium border.

34. Rear-__: hit from behind: ENDED

39. Grand Central, e.g.: Abbr.: STA (Station)

40. Sweep under the rug: HIDE

45. "Good buddies": CB'ER. "Good buddy" on the road.

47. Sheathes: ENCASES

52. Land chronicled by C.S. Lewis: NARNIA. "The Chronicles of NARNIA".

55. One giving Starbuck orders?: AHAB. From "Moby-Dick". Starbuck is AHAB's first mate. I fell into the constructor's trap and misread the clue as "Starbucks orders". The Starbucks Coffee is named in part after Starbuck.

56. Double agent: MOLE

57. Pantomimed disco song title: YMCA

58. Many August babies: LEOS

60. Don of talk radio: IMUS. Did not know that "nappy" has a racism connotation until the Don IMUS incident.

62. Outlet letters: AC/DC. Oh, power outlet.

63. Golfer's choice: IRON. Or driver/putter, etc.

64. AMEX rival: NYSE (New York Stock Exchange). I tried VISA first, thinking of credit card.

67. BlackBerry or Sidekick, briefly: PDA. Not familiar with Sidekick, the gadget from T-Mobile.

Answer grid.


Sep 30, 2009

Wednesday September 30, 2009 Chuck Deodene

Sep 29, 2009

Tuesday September 29, 2009 Dan Naddor

Theme: DIETARY DUOS - Food pairings you might consume in the course of a day.

16A: Breakfast pair: COFFEE AND DONUTS

24A: Lunch pair: SOUP AND SANDWICH

41A: Dinner pair: MEAT AND POTATOES

54A: Evening ball game snack pair: BEER AND PRETZELS

Argyle again. Today's Dan Naddor Index (total non-theme entries with 6 or more letters) is 12, lower than last week's. Similar stacks of 6's on the left and right edges of the grid.

Besides the above theme entries, we also have:

9A: Saran, for one: WRAP. Or a type of sandwich you might have with your SOUP.

13A: Layered cookie: OREO. Good anytime (with milk).

40A: Pilot light site: STOVE. Cooking!

46A: Fancy burger beef: ANGUS. Strictly a beef breed (Their meat would go well with those potatoes).

30D: Want badly, as chocolate: CRAVE. Have some dark one. It's healthy.

52D: Diner orders, for short: BLTS. Crossing the last theme answer.

Very tasty Tuesday treat Dan has served up for us. All the four grid spanning theme answers are delicious!


1A: Leaders in the dugout: Abbr.: MGRS. Managers. It's about this time of year when heads start to roll in the dugouts.

5A: Univ. hot shot: BMOC. Big Man On Campus

14A: Dainty embroidered mat: DOILY.

15A: McKellen and Fleming: IANS. Sir Ian McKellen, English actor and Ian Fleming, English author.

19A: Apt to shy, as a horse: SKITTISH. Don't spook the horse. Shy – verb (used without object) (esp. of a horse) to start back or aside, as in fear.

20A: Like a dark room: UNLIT.

21A: HBO competitor: SHO. Trademarks. Home Box Office and SHOwtime: cable channels

22A: Japanese sleuth Mr. __: MOTO. Mr. MOTO is a fictional Japanese secret agent created by the American author John P. Marquand

32A: Don, as apparel: PUT ON.

33A: Keep one's __ the ground: EAR TO. Try to keep informed about something, especially if there are rumours or uncertainties. The expression "keep your Ear To the ground" comes from the way American Indians did this action to feel for the vibrations of herds of animals on the run so they would hear the vibration of hooves(at least, in the movies).

34A: Miracle-__: garden product: GRO. Plant food. Not for use on zucchinis.

35A: Bickering: AT IT. Again.

36A: When Juliet drinks the potion: ACT IV. Clever & tricky clue.

37A: Former Fed chairman Greenspan: ALAN.

38A: Incite to attack, with "on": SIC. You would SIC a dog on something with the command, "SIC 'em".

39A: Rocket engineer Wernher von __: BRAUN.

49A: Just in case: IF NEED BE.

59A: Feedbag fill: OATS. More food.

60A: "Benevolent" fraternal order: ELKS. The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks.

61A: Orchestral reed: OBOE.

62A: Estimate phrase: OR SO.


1D: Comfy soft shoes: MOCS. What Santa wants.

2D: Understand, in slang: GROK. Origin: coined by Robert A. Heinlein in the science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961).

3D: Mortgage payment-lowering strategy, briefly: REFI. Shortening of refinance.

4D: Sentimental place in the heart: SOFT SPOT.

5D: Fluffy stoles: BOAS.

6D: Ho Chi __: MINH.

8D: Dancer Charisse: CYD. How 'bout them gams? Her nickname "Sid" was taken from a sibling trying to say "Sis". (It was later spelled "Cyd" at MGM to give her an air of mystery.) From Wikipedia.

9D: Separate grain from chaff: WINNOW. WH, you explain it.

10D: __ Julia, who played Gomez Addams: RAUL. Take a call on the Addams Family.

14D: Football's "Prime Time" Sanders: DEION. His Rookie Card doesn't look like he was ready for "Prime Time".

17D: Wharton's "__ Frome": ETHAN. Ethan Frome is a novel set in turn-of-the-century New England in the fictitious town of Starkfield, Massachusetts. It was published in 1911 by the Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Edith Wharton.

22D: Former quarterback Dan: MARINO. American Hall of Famer played for the Miami Dolphins in the National Football League. 1983–1999

23D: Being aired, as a sitcom: ON TV.

24D: Muscle cramp, e.g.: SPASM.

25D: Noticeable navel: OUTIE. Hmm, another quarterback.

26D: City near Syracuse: UTICA.

28D: Stopped slouching: SAT UP.

29D: Domed Arctic home: IGLOO.

36D: River of Florence: ARNO. Ah, the flower of Florence.

37D: Where to see wild animals in cages: AT THE ZOO. Simon and Garfunkel

39D: Modeler's wood: BALSA. Light weight and easy to carve.

40D: "America's Funniest Home Videos" host Bob: SAGET. FYI: Former "America's Funniest Home Videos" host Bob Saget is returning to the show as a guest co-host for an episode to film in October.

42D: Zodiac bull: TAURUS. Also, the Ford Taurus, an automobile manufactured by Ford introduced in the 1986.

43D: Adjusted the pitch of, as a piano: TUNED.

47D: Armstrong in space: NEIL. The first human to set foot on the Moon back in July 1969.

48D: Nerd: GEEK.

49D: __ facto: IPSO. By the fact itself.

50D: Gratis: FREE.

51D: Start of many a letter: DEAR.

53D: Old U.S. gas: ESSO.

55D: Prefix with natal: NEO.

56D: Brylcreem bit: DAB. In this ad, catch the phrase "disturbingly healthy".

Answer grid.


Sep 28, 2009

Interview with Patrick Berry

Patrick Berry is the Tiger Woods in crossword world, arguably the best in the business.

He hasn't contributed any puzzle to LA Times, but his byline appears regularly in NY Times (mostly Friday and Saturday themeless). Since Sept 1999, Patrick has constructed 122 puzzles for NYT alone. He has also created puzzles for NY Sun, Wall Street Journal and the Game Magazines.

Patrick is the crossword editor of "The Chronicle of High Education". He is also the author of "Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies", absolutely the best book I've read on crossword. Doug Peterson called the 70 original puzzles contained in the book as "pure gold". Patrick also crafted "Puzzle Masterpieces: Elegant Challenges for Crossword Lovers", a sophisticated book for those advanced solvers. A classic!

Dan Naddor, Merl Reagle and a few other constructors I've interviewed all mentioned Patrick Berry as one of their favorite constructors. Dan Feyer called Patrick one of the best wordsmith in the world. I contacted Patrick and was so happy that he took time from his busy schedule and answered my questions.

What impact do you think "Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies" has had on the crossword construction world? Several constructors have mentioned that they turn to the book regularly for references and inspiration. And what new part would you add for an update?

I'm not sure the book has had a huge impact (heaven knows the sales figures have been modest), but I've received several kind e-mails from constructors who found it helpful, and that's always gratifying. I know from experience how hard it is in this biz for beginners to figure out what they're doing wrong by editorial correspondence alone.

If I ever got a chance to update the book (which seems unlikely, given what a niche market it's in) I'd probably add a short section on the actual submission process: what to say (or not say) in the cover letter, how long to wait before sending a follow-up nudge, and so on. But I only had 70 pages of text to work with -- the rest of the book had to be devoted to puzzles, appendices, etc. -- so on the whole I'm pleased at how much info I *did* manage to pack in.

What's your background? How did you get into crossword construction?

I've always been interested in puzzles, though while growing up I never thought I'd be able to make a career out of them. I graduated college with a Comp Sci degree and found work in desktop publishing, but I also contributed some puzzles to magazines. The company I was working for went bust in 1997 and I decided to see if it was possible to survive making puzzles full-time. (It is, but just barely...my puzzle talent is a mere nothing compared to my talent at living on the cheap.)

What is the puzzle you've made you're most proud of? Why is it special? What is the dream puzzle you wish to get published some day?

Not sure I have an absolute favorite among my own puzzles, but some of the second-Sundays I've done for the NYT would rate pretty high. Also "Color Change," a crossword that appeared in the New York Sun...I honestly didn't think the concept would be doable when I started it, but I was very happy to be proven wrong.

What kind of themes and fills appeal to you and what are the ones you try to avoid?

Theme-wise, I suppose I like anything that's a) funny or b) elegant. (A bit general, admittedly, but heaven knows there are plenty of themes that aren't either one.) For fills I suppose my first priority is cleanliness, second priority liveliness. Cleanliness comes before liveliness because I have a tough time stomaching dodgy entries...as a solver, one or two dodgy entries can pretty much ruin the experience for me.

Now that you've turned away from ultralow word count, what are your top concerns in making a themeless then?

Basically I'm trying to find the ideal balance between word-count and liveliness. 72-word themelesses don't interest me much because I think themeless solvers like having lots of long entries. But the less-than-60-word puzzles I've constructed have all been vaguely unsatisfying to me, as so many of the entries were (by necessity) lackluster. Obviously there's a happy medium in there somewhere, and that's what I aim for nowadays.

What puzzles do you solve on daily basis and who are your favorite constructors?

Truthfully I'm not much of a solver -- I seem to get enough of puzzles by making them. (It took me a while to realize what an anomaly this is within the biz -- I haven't met too many other constructors who feel this way.) The only puzzle I solve regularly is Cox & Rathvon's "The Puzzler," which alas recently went belly-up, though I've got my fingers crossed that it'll find a new home somewhere.

There are a great many constructors whose work I admire, but if I had to pick one favorite it'd probably be Mike Shenk, who has the extraordinary ability to make the construction look easy even when you know darn well it couldn't have been easy.

What kind of books/magazines do you read for inspirations? And besides making and editing crosswords, what else do you do for fun?

Inspiration for puzzles is, for me at least, a "wherever you find it" sort of thing...there's no specific book I'm reading, but my brain seems generally hard-wired to look for puzzle possibilities in whatever I bump up against. (Too often I find myself unconsciously considering the cryptic-clue possibilities of a word or phrase that isn't at all "in the language" and therefore useless...once you start down this path, it's hard to stop.)

Besides working on puzzles, I enjoy playing on the guitar (purely for fun - I don't play well enough for anything more grandiose than that).

Monday September 28, 2009 Fred Jackson III

Theme: The theme isn't real.

17. Hobbes, to Calvin: IMAGINARY FRIEND

35. Ideal getaway: DREAM VACATION

53. Armchair quarterback's hobby: FANTASY FOOTBALL

Argyle here.

Not bad, not bad at all for a Monday. I'm thinking FANTASY FOOTBALL was the seed for this theme. Maybe Fred will drop by and have a few words (so watch what you say).


1. Disappear gradually: FADE. And 1 Down. Passes out: FAINTS.

9. Vatican-related: PAPAL.

14. Like deserts: ARID.

15. Heavenly bear: URSA. Ursa Major, aka, the Big Dipper.

16. "__ you clever!": AREN'T.

20. Motel restriction: NO PETS.

21. T-bone, for one: STEAK.

22. Lock of hair: TRESS.

23. Med. plan choices: HMOS. Health Maintenance OrganizationS

25. Opposite of "Huh?": AHA.

28. Damascus is its cap.: SYR. Capital, Syria, Mid-East.

29. Fashion's Gucci and actor Ray: ALDOS.

31. Nudge rudely: ELBOW.

33. Makes a long story short?: EDITS.

34. City leaders: MAYORS.

38. Taken care of: SEEN TO.

39. "Rich Man, Poor Man" novelist Shaw: IRWIN. A novel written by Irwin Shaw in 1969, became a miniseries in 1976.

40. Give body to, as hair: TEASE. And 44. Like fine coifs: STYLED.

41. Obvious disdain: SCORN.

42. Meditator's syllables: OMS. Hands up; who read this as mediator? Yeah, me too.

46. Coarse file: RASP.

47. Rub it in: GLOAT.

49. Key in the sea: ISLET.

52. Defective, as wiring: FAULTY.

58. Summoned the butler: RANG.

59. Peace Prize winner Wiesel: ELIE. Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 1986.

62. Between-your-toes grains: SAND.


2. Weapons storehouse: ARMORY.

3. Baby seat cover?: DIAPER.

4. Pieces jigsaw puzzlers usually start with: EDGES.

7. Kazakhstan, until 1991: Abbr.: SSR. Soviet Socialist Republic. Here Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan since 1997, is in North-Central Kazakhstan. The city of Almaty (South-Eastern Kazakhstan), formerly Alma-Ata, was the capital.

8. Assertions: SAY SOS. Parents everywhere: "...because I SAY SO!"

9. Peel, as a rind: PARE.

11. Game played with a baby: PEEK-A-BOO.

12. "Raggedy" girl: ANN. With her brother, Andy.

13. Inc., in England: LTD. Limited. A firm, usually associated with British registration, that is organized in such a way as to give its owners limited liability.

18. Appointment-confirming words: IT'S A DATE.

19. Dix and Knox: Abbr.: FTS. Fort Dix, NJ and Fort Knox, KY.

23. Set with a sharper picture, briefly: HDTV. High-Definition Television.

24. Inlaid designs: MOSAICS.

26. Traffic jam honker: HORN.

27. "Isn't that cute!" exclamations: AWS.

31. Persistently worrying: EATING AT.

32. "__ Eyes": 1975 Eagles hit: LYIN'. I never realized it was such a long song, 6:23.

33. Poetic dusks: EENS.

34. Bryn __ College: MAWR. Seal and location.

36. Draw inferences from: READ INTO.

37. Farm output: CROP.

38. The bus stops here: Abbr.: STA. Station

41. Mythical man-goats: SATYRS. Don't confuse it with the monster Centaur (head, trunk, and arms of a man, and the body and legs of a horse).

42. "Va va voom!": OO-LA-LA.

43. Marlee __, Best Actress winner in "Children of a Lesser God": MATLIN. More of her. "Va va voom!" and "OO-LA-LA".

46. Notes after dos: RES. do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti.

48. Garage jobs: LUBES.

50. British machine gun: STEN. STEN is an acronym, cited as derived from the names of the weapon's chief designers, Major Reginald Shepherd and Harold Turpin, and EN for Enfield. FYI: The Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) was a UK government-owned rifle factory in London Borough of Enfield. The factory produced British military rifles, muskets and swords from 1816. It closed in 1988. STEN

51. Baker's fat: LARD. And 55. Blubber: FAT. BAD!

52. Stodgy old-timer: FOGY.

53. __ Four: Beatles: FAB. FABulous.

54. Every bit: ALL.

56. "__ scale of 1 to 10 ...": ON A.

Answer grid.


Sep 27, 2009

Sunday September 27, 2009 Alan Arbesfeld

Theme: Put the Finger on - ID(identification) is inserted in familiar phrases.

23A. Ella while scatting?: RAP(ID) SINGER. Ella Fitzgerald was noted for her scat singing.

29A. Bow-wielding Southern god?: DIXIE CUP(ID). Cupid is the love god. Dixie = Southern states.

36A. Cholesterol check?: LIP(ID) SERVICE. Lipid is rooted in Greek lipos, "fat/grease".

58A. Possible reply to a dentist's "Where does it hurt?": ON THE CUSP(ID). I just point the hurting tooth to him.

79A. Twisty hair style for active people?: SPORTS BRA(ID). Miley Cyrus probably should have worn a sports bra.

99A. Japanese sake, e.g.?: ASIATIC FLU(ID). Don't like the answer. ASIAN FLU yes. Asiatic sounds very archaic. Sake (SAH-kee) is Japanese rice wine, so is mirin.

104A. Candy, cookies and soda?: K(ID) RATIONS. Ancel Keys, who formulated K-ration, was also credited with first introducing the benefits of Mediterranean Diet to Americans.

117A. What Depp did, over and over, to acquire the auction item he so badly wanted?: JOHNNY REB(ID). Johnny Reb/Rebel is slang for the Confederate soldier.

Very clever theme. Adding/deleting letters has quickly become my favorite type.

Had several trouble spots today, esp in AQUINO (86A: Marcos's successor) & GDANSK area. I could picture AQUINO's face, couldn't remember how to spell her English name, very different from the Chinese translation that I was familiar with. She just died last month.


1. Denial on the base: NO SIR. Military base.

6. Smelling __: SALTS. Some people collect smelling salts bottles. Weird.

11. Hummus holder: PITA. Don't like chickpeas.

19. Get away from: ELUDE

20. "__ Ben Jonson": literary epitaph: ORARE. Latin for "pray". "Pray for Ben Jonson". S simply forgot. Saw identical clue before.

22. Nautilus captain: NEMO. From Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" (Thanks, Martin).

25. 1939 Garland co-star: LAHR (Bert). Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz".

28. Singer Brewer: TERESA. Unknown to me. "Baby, Baby, Baby" sounds sweet.

31. River of Cologne: RHINE

35. Bull: Pref.: TAUR. As in tauridor (bullfighter). Taurus too.

40. Cockpit datum: AIRSPEED

44. Renée of silent films: ADOREE. Learned her name from doing Xword. French actress.

45. Uses as support: RESTS ON

47. Magnetic Field?: SALLY. Field is capitalized. Nice clue.

48. 17th-18th century British poet Nicholas: ROWE. Dramatist as well.

49. Anesthetize: DEADEN

55. Prayers are often said on them: KNEES

57. __ standstill: AT A. Wrote down ON A.

61. Orch. section: STR (String)

62. Mason's job?: CASE. D'oh, Perry Mason. Got me.

64. __ bit: slightly: A WEE

65. Lustrous fabrics: SATEENS. Cotton fabric. Used to think they are from silkworm too.

66. Condition that might bring you to tears?: BOREDOM. So true.

68. Lagged behind: TRAILED

73. Duds: TOGS

81. Free TV spot: PSA (Public Service Announcement)

82. Cork people: IRISH. Shout-out to Windhover's wife Irish. Cork is a county in Ireland.

84. Menlo Park middle name: ALVA. Thomas ALVA Edison, The Wizard of Menlo Park.

85. Open hearing, in law: OYER (OH-yer). New word to me. I do know OYEZ, often clued as "Court cry".

90. Oldest Little Leaguers: TEENS. Boy, some of them look too old to be teens.

92. Pants cuffs, to Brits: TURNUPS. Also new to me.

109. Lowlife, slangily: CREEPO

112. President between Harry and Jack: IKE. Nicknames in clue, nickname in answer.

119. Like Nash's lama, in verse: ONE L

121. Professeur's pupil: ELEVE: French for "student".

122. Running score: TALLY

123. Blubber: BAWL

124. Once, long ago: ERST. Root for erstwhile too.

125. Decisive times: D-DAYS

126. British submachine guns: STENS. The "Israeli submachine gun" is UZI.


2. Skin care brand: OLAY. I like Olay Total Effect eye cream.

3. The United States, e.g.: SUPER POWER. China too.

4. First name in dictators: IDI (Amin). Uganda.

5. Ocean phenomenon associated with wildlife mortality: RED TIDE. Caused by red algae I think.

7. ''Rule, Britannia'' composer: ARNE (Thomas)

8. Doesn't keep up: LAGS

9. Dissertation: TREATISE

11. __ sci: POLI

12. Big-screen format: IMAX

13. South Pacific vacation mecca: TAHITI. Mecca for Gauguin.

14. Overdue thing: ARREAR. Often in plural form.

15. Never before topped: UNSURPASSED

17. Present opening?: OMNI. Omnipresent. Nice clue.

24. Had a feeling about: SENSED

32. New staff member: HIREE

34. Sponsor's urging: ACT NOW

36. Small songbirds: LARKS. Tits too.

37. Rare altar reply, fortunately: I DON'T. Shouldn't it be "unfortunately"?

38. Like steamy films: R-RATED. Like the porn scenes in "Love Actually". Nice movie though.

39. Hindu scripture: VEDA. Sankrit for "sacred lore/knowledge".

40. Egyptian symbol of life: ANKH. The cross with a loop.

41. Take the honey and run: ELOPE. Lovely clue.

42. Impish: ELFIN

43. Groups of two: DYADS

46. Blender brand: OSTER. Forgot again.

50. Slips past: EASES BY. Can you make a sentence for me?

52. Sammy Davis Jr. autobiography: YES I CAN. I have the book.

53. Italy's La __: SCALA. The opera house in Milan.

56. "Ivanhoe" author: SCOTT. Sir Walter SCOTT. See the bookcover.

59. New Jersey team: NETS

60. Wombs: UTERI

63. Schoolyard retort: ARE SO

64. Paris possessive: A MOI

66. Informal eatery: BAR AND GRILL. Good fill.

67. Japanese city known for its beer: OTARU (AW-tah-roo). Looks pretty. Have never had OTARU beer. Beer is just so filling.

69. Hockey stat: ASSIST

70. H.S. juniors' exams: PSATS

71. Words after cop: A PLEA. Cop a plea.

74. Polish city where Solidarity was founded: GDANSK (guh-DAHNSK). Also new to me. What a strange name, full of consonants.

76. Capable of being scattered: DIFFUSIBLE

77. Japanese immigrant: ISSEI. Literally, "first generation".

81. Insect stage: PUPA. Larva, PUPA and imago, three stages.

83. Remington product: RIFLE

87. Stop dramatically, as smoking: QUIT COLD. More familiar with quit cold turkey.

88. Live in: OCCUPY

91. Ward of "Sisters": SELA. She is in "The Fugitive".

93. Tellers?: RATS. Nailed it.

95. In some respects: OF SORTS

97. Like English, to most Americans: NATIVE

98. Publishing VIP: EDITOR. The clue is asking for an abbreviated answer.

100. Cara and Castle: IRENES

105. New York college whose team is the Gaels: IONA. This has become a gimmie.

107. Table scraps: ORTS. One of the earliest crosswordese I learned.

108. Russian refusal: NYETS

110. Ostrich relative: RHEA. Flightless.

113. Potter's oven: KILN

114. Slow Churned ice-cream brand: EDY'S. Marketed under Dreyer's in the west coast.

117. "The Beverly Hillbillies" dad: JED. Would not have obtained without the Across answers.

Answer grid.