Aug 31, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 Robert A. Doll

Theme: What Did You Do on Your Summer Vacation? - A minimalist student's essay. The first word (verb) of the four theme entries (17A, 26A, 46A, 61A) outlines what happened on the unifier (63A).

17A. Have significant influence: PACK A PUNCH

26A. "Enough on this subject": "LEAVE IT AT THAT"

46A. Persevere: STAY THE COURSE

61A. Respond at the front: RETURN FIRE. At a war front.

63A. "Round" thing suggested by the first words of 17-, 26-, 46- and 61-Across: TRIP

Argyle here.

A timely theme; just the type of wise guy report I would have turned in. How would you teachers react to such homework? There were some destinations sprinkled through out the puzzle, too.


1. __ d'état : COUP. First we go to France for “stroke of the state”.

5. Winger of "Shadowlands" : DEBRA. The film,
Shadowlands, is a remake of both the 1985 BBC-TV film and a popular stage play about the love story of Joy Gresham and Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis.

10. Shouts from Emeril : BAMS. Celebrity television chef.

14. Guesstimate phrase : OR SO

15. Fiat : EDICT. Law, regulation.

16. From the top : ANEW

19. Sight from the Sicilian village of Taormina : ETNA. The volcano.

20. Ali trainer Dundee : ANGELO. Boxing. Dundee trained Muhammad Ali, 1960 to 1981. Ali was still Cassius Clay back then.

21. Sunroom : SOLARIUM

23. Doctrinal suffix : ISM. Pertaining to a belief; dogma.

25. Rent : LET

33. Starbucks order : ESPRESSO

34. Charm : ENAMOR. Charm is used as a verb, in this case.

36. Show worry, in a way : PACE

37. Former California fort : ORD. closed in September 1994. Fort Ord was one of the most attractive locations of any U.S. Army post, because of its proximity to the beach and California weather. Would make a good trip destination.

39. Disease cause : GERM

40. Makes amends : ATONES

43. Puts in a new pot, say : REPLANTS. A short
clip, a song about Harry Potter and repotting the Mandrakes.

48. Ample shoe width : EEE

49. According to : À LA

50. Belgian capital : BRUSSELS. Take a trip

55. Aleve alternative : ANACIN. Brand name pain relievers.

60. Superboy's girlfriend Lang : LANA

64. Mushrooms used in Asian cuisine : ENOKI.

65. Elemental unit : ATOM

66. Places for props : SETS

67. Coolidge's vice president : DAWES. With Coolidge, Dawes is on the

68. City NNE of Lake Tahoe : RENO. Visit a city with pits.


1. Historic NYC club, with "The" : COPA. The 1978 Barry Manilow song "Copacabana" is named for and about the nightclub.

2. Algerian seaport : ORAN

3. SOS responder, often : USCG. United States Coast Guard (USCG),

4. Creep (along) : POKE

5. Kicks out of office : DEPOSES

6. Coll. dot follower : EDU

7. Storage containers : BINS

8. Pepsi competitor : RC COLA

9. Wheaties box picture : ATHLETE

10. Boxer Max : BAER. One of the most colorful figures of his day, Baer(1909 - 1959) enjoyed life in the limelight(like Ali and most boxers). He was the brother of twice World Champion boxing contender Buddy Baer and father of actor Max Baer, Jr., known to two generations as Jethro Bodine of the Beverly Hillbillies.

11. Hostile to : ANTI

12. Computer list : MENU

13. Showed off one's butterfly? : SWAM. A showy swimming stroke.

18. Kicking partner : ALIVE. Alive and kicking.

22. Business letter abbr. : ATTN. Attention.

24. Sushi bar soup : MISO

26. Exams for future attys. : LSATs. Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

27. Florida theme park acronym : EPCOT. Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. A nice place to visit.

28. Place to play : ARENA

29. Dodgers manager Joe : TORRE. The LA Dodgers are the latest in a long list of major league baseball teams that Joe has managed.

30. Viking in the comics : HAGAR. The Horrible. Comic strip by Dik Browne, whose first name might show up in late week puzzles. Also we have a teenage girl, 45. Greg Evans comic strip : LUANN

31. Chorus from the pews : AMENS

32. Flourless cake : TORTE. Made primarily with eggs, sugar, and ground nuts instead of flour. Take a trip to Germany to get some of the best tortes.

33. Ecol. watchdog : EPA. Ecology and Environmental Protection Agency

35. Apt. parts : RMs. Apartments and rooms

38. Ten: Pref. : DECA

41. Looks over warily : EYES

42. Took the wheel : STEERED

44. North Star : POLARIS

47. Treasure State capital : HELENA. “Treasure State” refers to the importance of mining in Montana

50. Popular diner orders, for short : BLTs

51. Prime rib order : RARE

52. Part of ICU : UNIT

53. Easy marks : SAPs

54. Put away : STOW

56. A long way off : AFAR

57. Name as a source : CITE

58. Boxing's "__ Mike" Tyson : IRON. Our third boxing reference.

59. Nautilus captain : NEMO. The fictional character featured in Jules Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Now that would be a trip worth writing about.

62. Tiny Tim played one : UKE. Charles Dickens never envisioned this
Tiny Tim.

Answer grid.

Here are three fantastic photos of our dashing pilot Dudley, whose initials in real life is DD (Yay, Lois!). Please click on each photo for enlargement. I love the wedding one very much. Beautiful couple.


Aug 30, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010 James Sajdak

Theme: Rose's Boys - The nicknames (in age older) of three Rose Kennedy's sons are the start of the first three theme entries (all in plural forms). And the forth entry is where they might have been found.

20A. Mister Fixit : JACK-OF-ALL-TRADES. John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy.

30A. Footwear often turned down at the ankle : BOBBY SOCKS. Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy.

41A. Tots' furry sleeping companions : TEDDY BEARS. Edward Moore "Teddy" Kennedy.

54A. Hyannis Port site where the starts of 20-, 30- and 41-Across were often found : KENNEDY COMPOUND. Just a little
place out on Cape Cod, MA.

Argyle here.

Very Friday-ish grid in terms of total word count (74) and block count (34). Lots of non-theme long words for a Monday (four 9s & two 7s). But the liberal use of esses detracts from an otherwise reasonable Monday for me.


1. Stringed instrument that may be taller than its player : HARP.

5. Left the room : WENT

9. Defame in print : LIBEL. Defame in speech is slander.

14. Chevy subcompact since 2004 : AVEO. An automobile manufactured by GM Daewoo (the South Korean subsidiary of General Motors) and marketed globally in 120 countries – prominently as the Chevrolet

15. Native Nebraskan : OTOE. There are many different clues for this one tribe.

16. Slip away to tie the knot : ELOPE

17. Phone sounds : DIAL TONES

19. "Manhattan" director Woody : ALLEN

22. What you eat, to a dietitian : INTAKE

23. Canonized person : SAINT

24. Gallery fare : ART

26. Prefix with intellectual : PSEUDO

36. Vicinity : AREA

37. Qatari chieftains : EMIRS. Arabs

38. __ kwon do : TAE

39. Valued possession : ASSET

40. It means nothing to a Nicaraguan : NADA. Spanish.

43. Totally soak : DRENCH

45. Sun. church delivery : SER. Sunday sermon.

46. Jazz combo rhythm providers : DRUMS

49. Ice cream treat : SUNDAE

58. Skyscraper girder : I-BEAM. Not Z, not L, not H but good old I-beam.

59. Clan members : RELATIVES

60. Hippo ending : DROME. Hippodrome was a Greek stadium for horse racing and chariot racing. The name is derived from the Greek words "hippos ("horse") and "dromos" ("race" or "course").

61. Shave-haircut link : AND A.
Two Bits.

62. Like valuable stamps : RARE

63. Loudness units : SONES. Units of perceived loudness.

64. Appear to be : SEEM

65. Israeli airline : EL AL


1. Pilgrim to Mecca : HADJI

2. Birdlike : AVIAN

3. Jerk or frown, e.g. : REACT

4. Gdansk dance : POLKA. Gdansk is a city on the Baltic coast in northern Poland.

5. Low-frequency speakers : WOOFERS. High-frequency speakers: tweeters.

6. Italian volcano : ETNA. On the island of Sicily, Italy.

7. Carols : NOELS

8. Onetime Edison rival Nikola : TESLA. Nikola has been getting quite a workout lately.

9. Absorbs the lesson : LEARNS

10. Anxious : ILL AT EASE

11. Like headline typefaces : BOLD

12. Fencing sword : EPEE

13. Camera's focusing device : LENS

18. Hungarian dessert wines : TOKAYS. Tokaji is the name of the wines from the region of Tokaj-Hegyalja in Hungary. The name Tokaji (Tokay) is used for labeling wines from this wine district. This region is noted for its sweet wines made from grapes affected by noble rot, a style of wine which has a long history in this region. Noble rot is the benevolent form of a grey fungus, Botrytis cinerea, affecting wine grapes.

21. Pointers : TIPS

25. Shopper's carryall : TOTE

27. Bear, to Brutus : URSA. Latin.

28. Bambi and kin : DEER

29. Cheerios grain : OATS

30. Give a little : BEND

31. Sharif of "Doctor Zhivago" : OMAR

32. Wait : BIDE

33. Nongeneric, as a drug : BRAND NAME

34. Gentleman's opposite : CAD

35. Sneakers since 1916 : KEDS

39. Discourteously curt : ABRUPT

41. Dull impact sound : THUD

42. Polite response to Mother : "YES MA'AM"

44. Heavy liqueurs : CRÈMES

47. Breckinridge and Hess : MYRAS. Myra Breckinridge1970 film), Dame Myra Hess(1890 – 1965) was a British pianist.

48. Act division : SCENE

50. Bête __ : NOIRE. The term is used to refer to an object or abstract idea that is particularly disliked or avoided.

51. David of the PGA : DUVAL. This

52. End of __ : AN ERA

53. Memorable '50s lemon : EDSEL. It was said it looked like a Buick sucking a lemon.

54. Jokes with : KIDS

55. River through Spain : EBRO

56. Strip lighting : NEON

57. Quaint shoppe word : OLDE

Answer grid.


Aug 29, 2010

Sunday August 29, 2010 Doug Peterson

Theme: El Week - Common phrases with letter L inserted after Letter F, followed by different vowel sounds, which remain unchanged after the transformation.

23A. Automatic whipper? : FLOG MACHINE. Fog Machine. Short O.

29A. Early-week occasion for wearing sensible footwear? : FLAT TUESDAY. Fat Tuesday. Short A.

43A. Country with the tastiest cuisine? : MOST FLAVORED NATION. Most Favored Nation. Long A.

67A. Some food fighters? : CHICKEN FLINGERS. Chicken Fingers. Short I.

95A. Line in an admiral's pep talk? : FLEET, DON'T FAIL ME NOW. Feet, Don't Fail Me Now. An unknown album to me. Long E.

111A. Where legendary firefighters are honored? : HALL OF FLAME. Hall of Fame. Long A.

119A. Quartet of couch potatoes? : THE FLAB FOUR. The Fab Four. The Beatles. Short A.

I don't get the title. "El", yes, why "Week"?

111A is basically a repeat of 43A Long A scheme. Maybe Doug can't find a Long I or Long U (or short U) phrase with 11-letters. I can think of Fight Song, Fighting Irish, neither works. In a funk with short U sounds nice. But then flunk is a verb.

Very smooth solving. Some of the long Downs are just awesome. Several baseball and golf references today:

51A. Level just below the majors : AAA. Baseball "level". Sitting atop UMPS (60. Home bodies?). Home plate. And YOGI (4D. Teammate of Mickey and Whitey) and ALOU (14. Jesus of '60s-'70s baseball).


76A. Golf clinic subject : GRIP. Strong or weak.

42D. Golf clinic subjects: STANCES. Can you believe that I actually read Ben Hogan's secret fundamentals on golf?

112D. Duck call? : FORE. You duck when golfer shouts "Fore". I was fooled.

I guess IRON (81. Dietary need) could be clued as golf related too. Maybe CHEATED ON (11D. Was unfaithful to) too. Ha ha, now Tiger can hit his balls in any hazard he wants...


1. Kids' game for car trips : I SPY

5. River through British Columbia : FRASER. Have never heard of the river.

11. Michael of "Juno" : CERA. Another unknown. Canadian.

15. Hebrew prophet : AMOS. Hebrew meaning "burden".

19. Big Apple neighborhood near Greenwich Village : NOHO (North of Houston Street). SoHo is South of Houston Street.

20. Gun, to a hood : ROSCOE. New slang to me.

21. Truck : HAUL. Verb.

22. Actress Gershon : GINA. Here she is.

25. Gas brand in Canada : ESSO

26. Shangri-la : EDEN

27. Iconic WWII riveter : ROSIE. Rosie the Riveter.

28. "Rock and Roll, Hoochie __": 1974 hit : KOO. What does "Hoochie Koo" mean?

32. Slithery Egyptian : ASP. Wow, can you describe ASP as if it were a person?

33. Tack on : APPEND

36. Colorado natives : UTES

37. __ Cup: chocolate candy : MALLO. Nope. Have never heard of this candy.

38. Language of India : HINDI. Shout-out to Vidwan. So many languages there.

40. Yard neatener : EDGER

42. Sources of wisdom : SAGES

47. Where the source of the Amazon is : PERU

48. Showy lily : SEGO. Sego lily.

49. Words before a kiss : I DO. Wedding.

50. Opposite of bien : MAL

54. Political surprise : U-TURN

56. Subway barrier : STILE

58. It's a gas : NEON. Fun clue.

61. Euro predecessor : PESETA. Spanish currency before Euro.

63. No-goodniks : CADS

65. Business mag : INC. Well, maybe Vidwan reads this magazine.

66. Go after : SEEK

72. Sixth Greek letter : ZETA. Can't remember the order.

75. Louis XIV, par exemple : ROI

77. Shrubs with small, reddish fruit : SUMACS. Fruit & FRUITS (41D) duplication.

82. A8 automaker : AUDI

84. Amherst sch. : UMASS (University of Massachusetts)

87. Tiny South Pacific nation : NAURU. About 8 square miles in area.

88. Jenna's "The Office" role : PAM. No idea. I've never watched "The Office".

89. TiVo precursor : VCR

90. Polynesian paste : POI. Just had some boiled taro the other day.

92. Final Four letters : NCAA

94. News squib : ITEM

100. Increases sharply : SOARS

101. Viz. relative : ID EST. The full form of i.e.. Viz. = That is to say/to wit.

102. NFL Network sportscaster Rich : EISEN. First encounter with this fellow.

103. Fowl quarters : COOPS

104. Grandmotherly nickname : NANA

105. Room for brooms : CLOSET. Ours is in the garage.

108. Photo __ : OPS

114. 1040EZ issuer : IRS

115. Set one's sights on : AIM AT

117. Maker of Karlstad living room furniture : IKEA. Easy guess.

118. Lena of Tinseltown : OLIN

122. Motocross surface : DIRT

123. City with many pits : RENO. Pits here refer to "the pits", the worst, correct? (From Argyle: Wow, PIT can mean a lot of things. In this case it means the area or room of a casino containing gambling tables. In bowling, it is the area where the fallen pins gather. Of course, there are the pits in racing, too. And many more!)

124. Set the dial to : TUNE IN

125. Toni Morrison novel : SULA. What's it about?

126. "Only Time" singer : ENYA

127. Units of work : ERGS

128. __ Fables : AESOP'S

129. Anthem opener : O SAY


1. Red leader? : INFRA. Leader to the word infrared.

2. Individual efforts : SOLOS

3. Matchmaker's supply : PHOSPHORUS. Was thinking of the marriage matchmaker. Not one who makes real matches.

5. Monastic title : FRA

6. Heaps at a quarry : ROCK PILES

7. "... who lived in __" : A SHOE. "There was an old woman who lived in a shoe...".

8. Descendant : SCION

9. Long, long time : EON

10. Yachting hazard : REEF

12. Ohio's time zone : EASTERN

13. Autumn colors : RUSTS. Still hot summer here.

15. In olden days : AGES AGO

16. Hussein in the White House? : MIDDLE NAME. Obama's middle name. The clue somehow bothers me.

17. "Paper Moon" co-stars : O'NEALS. Ryan and Tatum O'Neal.

18. 2009 Panasonic acquisition : SANYO. Unknown trivia to me.

24. Had in mind : MEANT

30. Competed on a sled : LUGED

31. Send with a click : EMAIL. And PDFS (34. Some 31-Down attachments).

35. __ volente: God willing : DEO

39. Confident words : I SURE CAN. Nice entry.

41. Trail mix tidbits : DRIED FRUITS. Crossed three theme entries.

43. Apportion : METE

44. Maxwell Smart's occ. : AGT

45. Mel Blanc's meal ticket : VOICE

46. Together with : AMONG

47. Small seal : PUP

52. Goon : APE. I associate goon with thug.

53. Say "What?" : ASK

55. Ultimate : NTH

57. "Metropolis" director Fritz : LANG. Stumped me last time.

59. Augsburg article : EIN. German "a". Alliteration.

60. 1898 sinker : USS MAINE. Look, there are four ships named USS MAINE.

62. Stars in the sky? : AIR ACES. Nice clue.

64. Like some chances : SLIM

68. Squash venue : COURT. Oh, I was thinking of veggie squash.

69. Poke fun at : KID

70. "It's dandy for your teeth" toothpaste : IPANA. Only familiar with the "Brusha, brusha, brusha" line.

71. Be on the ticket : RUN. Run for the office.

72. USPS acronym : ZIP

73. Time in history : ERA

74. Shenanigans : TOMFOOLERY. Reminded me of Sallie's "shenanigan" remark of Lois. So funny!

78. Self-directed : AUTONOMOUS. Both 74 & 78 intersect two theme entries.

79. Rowers : CREW

80. Adder's target : SUM. Not the snake "adder".

83. Portable music players : IPOD NANOS. Mine is Classic.

85. Course with a fair: Abbr. : SCI. I don't get the "fair" reference here.

86. Register printout : SALES SLIP

89. Left-hand page : VERSO. Recto is right-hand page.

91. Graveyard shift hr. : ONE AM

93. Lille lady friend : AMIE

96. Capital of Buenos Aires Province : LA PLATA. Literally "silver".

97. Ringing up, old-style : DIALING

98. Consumer protection agcy. : FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Not a familiar abbr. to me.

99. Pub sign abbr. : ESTAB. Established I suppose.

100. Absorb deeply : SOAK IN

103. Wag a finger at : CHIDE

104. Panther, Jaguar, or Lion, briefly : NFLER. Good clue for a boring answer.

106. Debt securities : LIENS

107. Monteverdi title character : ORFEO. No idea. Have never hard of this opera. Wikipedia says Orfeo = Orpheus, the Greek myth guy who went to Hades to rescue his wife.

109. Longtime "Idol" name : PAULA (Abdul). Of course, she's not with "Idol" any more.

110. Dogcatcher's pickup : STRAY

113. Blues legend James : ETTA

116. In that case : IF SO

120. Coloration : HUE

121. Ques. response : ANS.

Answer grid.


Aug 28, 2010

Saturday August 28, 2010 Joe DiPietro

Theme: None

Total words: 68. Total blocks: 27

Average Word length: 5.82. Missing: J, Q, X & Z.

Rather low in terms of total words and blocks account.

The puzzle is framed by triple stacks of horizontal 11s at the upper right and bottom left, intersecting another vertical 11 and triple columns of 7s on each end. Another triple columns of vertical 7s in the upper left and lower right completes the basic skeleton of the grid. The eight 11s are:

4A. Workout apparatus : STAIRMASTER. The only one word 11.

16A. Old fortune-telling site : PENNY ARCADE. Have never heard of this term. Is it in a mall?

18A. Carried out by : ON THE PART OF. Can you give me an example of how the clue & answer equates?

58A. Sought some shelter? : OPENED AN IRA. Tax shelter, I suppose.

62A. Balance in the end : COME OUT EVEN. Nice entry.

64A. Had an in : KNEW SOMEONE. Didn't come to me readily.

5D. Garments lacking waistlines : TENT DRESSES. Gisele is wearing one here. She's gorgeous no matter what she dons.

25D. "El Cid" co-star : SOPHIA LOREN. Nice to have her full name. I've never watched "El Cid" though.

Very difficult solving for me. Lots of unfamiliar references. This is our first encounter with Joe DiPietro, who has constructed over 100 puzzles for NY Times, mainly hard late week themeless grids.


1. Cable initials : TMC. I figured it would start T??. TBS, TNT.

15. Joey in Milne stories : ROO. Kanga's kid in "Winnie-the-Pooh". Joey is young kangaroo.

17. The Cyclones of the Big 12 Conf. : ISU (Iowa State University). In Ames.

19. Mystery author whose work has been translated into more than 100 languages : CHRISTIE (Agatha)

21. "I can do that" : LET ME

22. Made one's view known : OPINED

23. 1940s-'70s bandleader Edmundo : ROS. Alien to me. He's still alive. 99 years old now.

26. Tahari of fashion : ELIE. Nope. Have never heard of the guy or his brand.

27. Heading to overtime : TIED

28. Exude : REEK OF

31. LAX posting : ETD

32. Scattered : STREWED

34. Union members? : SPOUSES. The ? hints it's not about labor union. Awesome clue.

36. Carefree state : EASE

37. Chain with links : IHOP. Nice clue too.

38. Multiple-ride ticket : BUS PASS

41. Terry of Monty Python : GILLIAM. Was he in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"? I just could not understand the humor. Stopped watching after 2 minutes of nonsense.

45. Adder's kin : ASP

46. Aircraft company since 1927 : CESSNA. Named after its founder Clyde Cessna.

48. When Eliza sings "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" : ACT I. Filled in ACT immediately.

49. Tough test : BEAR

51. Called with chips : SAW. Poker reference often confounds me. See and raise.

52. Liquor store buys : LITERS

54. Doctor, ideally : CURER. Why "ideally"?

56. Expiate : ATONE FOR

61. Dramatic way to go? : APE. Go ape.

63. Mauna __ : LOA

65. You'll trip if you drop it : LSD. This damned drug often tripped me, no matter how it's clued.


1. Warp-knit fabrics : TRICOTS. New word to me. It's pronounced like "TREE-koh". T is silent.

2. Slam-dancing area : MOSH PIT. Stymied me last time.

3. Express service employee : COURIER

4. "Imagine, Zeke ..." : S'POSE. Dennis told me he did not like this clue. Zeke is a nickname for hayseed, correct?

6. Nonpro? : ANTI. I'd prefer "Non pro?".

7. What a hider shouldn't say to a seeker : IN HERE

8. Bar order : RYE. Whiskey I suppose.

9. It may include highs and lows : MAP. What do "highs" and "lows" here refer to?

10. Uzbekistan border sea : ARAL

11. Rocky debris : SCREE. Like this.

12. Snitches : TATTLES

13. Early inhabitant along the Dead Sea : EDOMITE. Descendant of Esau's land Esau. Got me.

14. Carb-up days, to low-carb dieters : REFEEDS. Well, maybe Al can explain to us what the heck is going on here. Makes no sense to me, both the clue and the answer.

20. Committed and then some : IN DEEP

24. Circular signal : OK SIGN

29. Greek regional capital : EDESSA. No idea. Modern name is Urfa. Early center of Christianity in Mesopotamia, says Dictionary.

30. Trick : FOOL

33. WWII enlistee : WAAC (Women's Army Auxiliary Corps). I can never remember this initialism.

35. Burning the midnight oil : UP LATE

38. Detroit Red Wings coach Mike : BABCOCK. Here he is. Out of my knowledge zone.

39. Consume with regard to : USE UPON

40. "Puh-leeze!" : SPARE ME. Nice one.

42. Irregular glacial mass : ICEFALL. Spitzboov seems to know a lot about this stuff, and geology.

43. One of the Fates : ATROPOS. The Fate who cuts the thread of life. I simply forgot.

44. See Tears for Fears? : MISREAD. Does Capital T look capital F to you?

47. Gershwin's first hit : SWANEE. George Gershwin. Here is clip. Unknown to me.

50. Agree to more issues : RENEW. More issues of the magazine.

53. Harebrained : INANE

55. Old Royale 8's, e.g. : REOS

57. Save for later, in a way : TIVO. Drew a blank.

59. Comedy team, usually : DUO

60. Pharmacy convenience, often : ATM.

Answer grid.


Aug 27, 2010

Friday August 27, 2010 Mike Peluso

Theme: Odd Ending (oddity)- ITY is added to the end of the second word (a noun) of a two-word common noun phrase. The resulted nouns all have different roots than the originals.

20A. Oil company's penchant for employee transfers? : EXXON MOBILITY. The base phrase is Exxon Mobil.

29A. Measure of neighborhood drug traffic? : OPIUM DENSITY. Opium Dens, the places where opium was sold.

46A. Egotism that brings you to tears? : MOVING VANITY. Moving Van.

56A. Pigmentation variations? : SKIN DIVERSITY. Skin Divers. Skin diving is defined as "the sport of swimming under water with flippers and a face mask and usually with a snorkel rather than a portable air supply". Not a familiar term to me.

Though the changing pattern for 29A and 56A is the same, adding ITY to a S ending phrase, the original words are profoundly different.

It's a carefully selected & rather exhaustive theme set. Not easy to attach ITY to any noun phrase and come up with a sensible new phrase ending with a different root word. Constructors give lots of considerations to their themes.

I thought of author (Anonymous Author) & authority. But the two derived from the same word, not to mention ANONYMOUS AUTHORITY has 18 letters. Equal & equality do not work either. John Major (former British PM) might though, since Major is a proper name here. Major & Majority. But then how do you clue JOHN MAJORITY?

Tough puzzle. Tough cluing.


1. W.E.B. Du Bois was among its founders : NAACP. Stumped immediately. Did not know who this Du Bois guy was. He's the first African-American graduate of Harvard.

6. Coot's cousin : RAIL. Oh, man, I did not know coot is a bird. Always associate it with old & crotchety person. We also have ERNE (15A. Coastal predator).

10. Barcelona-born muralist : SERT. Josep Maria Sert. Rockefeller Center muralist. Quite a few art references in this grid.

14. Of an arm bone : ULNAR

16. Hawaii neighbor : MAUI. Could be a clue error. Mike probably wanted "Lanai neighbor" or "Hawaii island". (Correction: The clue is correct.)

17. "The Wreck of the Mary __" : DEARE. Mike used the same clue in his last puzzle.

18. Benefit : SAKE

19. Far Hills, N.J.-based sports org. : USGA (United States Golf Association). Who knows? You'd think USGA is based somewhere in Florida. PGA is there, right, Lemonade?

23. Pennzoil letters : SAE. No idea. Society of Automotive Engineers.

24. Carrier with a hub at LAX : UAL

25. Con opening : NEO. Opening for the word neocon, the likes of Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard). Windhover can give you 10-page essay on them.

26. Arena cheer : RAH

32. Part of CPA: Abbr. : ACCT

35. Where Charlie was trapped, in a Kingston Trio hit : MTA. Learned from doing Xword.

36. Doomed city : SODOM. The sin city.

37. Red : RARE. Was not thinking of steak. Dennis would love a "Pink" clue.

38. Peruvian address : SENOR. Not a real place address.

41. "Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story" star Sherilyn : FENN. Total stranger. Alluring look, yes?

42. Puccini offering : OPERA. And CARO (4D. Puccini's "O mio babbino __"). Literally "dear" in Italian. "O mio babbino caro" = "oh, my dear papa". I was stymied.

44. "__ Woman": 1975 hit : I'M A

45. Muy, across the Pyrenees : TRES. Was ignorant that "muy" means "very" in Spanish.

50. "Wheel of Fortune" buy : AN A. Or any vowel.

51. Half a cocktail : TAI. Mai tai.

52. "Kinda" suffix : ISH

53. Half-witted : DIM

60. Pedestal : BASE. The supporting base for statue/column, etc.

62. Like Erté's art : DECO

63. Any Frankie Avalon song : OLDIE

64. Follow : OBEY

65. Gardener, at times : HOER. Boring.

66. Like many a motel air conditioner : NOISY. So true.

67. Crown's girl, in a 1935 opera : BESS. I've never seen "Porgy and Bess". What's the crown reference?

68. "Gotcha" : I SEE

69. One who's generally bottled up? : GENIE. Genie in a bottle.


1. Sculptors' subjects : NUDES

2. Billy Joel's daughter : ALEXA. She tried to kill herself with sleeping pill last year. Big headline.

3. Has __ to grind : AN AXE

5. Asset protection plan, briefly : PRENUP (Prenuptial). Drew a blank.

6. Determined : RESOLUTE. Nice entry, crossing 2 theme answers.

7. __-Israeli War : ARAB

8. Equitable way to pay : IN KIND. Confused me last time.

9. Sobieski of "Joy Ride" (2001) : LEELEE. No idea. She looks like Jewel, doesn't she?

10. Blue books? : SMUT. Blue = Off-color/Risque.

11. 1969 road movie : EASY RIDER. Bet Gunghy and Windhover loved this movie.

12. Toupee : RUG

13. Madre's hermana : TIA. Hermana = Sister.

21. Injures badly : MAIMS

22. They're not free of charge : IONS. They are charged. Awesome clue.

27. Make restitution : ATONE

28. Service songs : HYMNS. Church service.

29. '90s "SNL" regular Cheri : OTERI

30. Frenzy : MANIA

31. Hardly the drill sergeant type : SOFTY. Never know what the words those drill sergeant are muttering.

32. Coffee asset : AROMA

33. Fowl on a menu : CAPON. Castrated chicken.

34. Climbers' obstacles : CREVASSES. New word to me. Same as "crevice".

39. Man, e.g. : OMNIVORE. Too tricky a clue for me.

40. See, and then some : RAISE. Poker.

43. Fighting : ANTI. Wanted AT IT.

47. Kingsley role : GANDHI. Great movie.

48. Family gathering staples : VIDEOS

49. Crowd : THRONG

53. Slew : DID IN

54. Formal doorstep response : "IT IS I". Keep waiting then!

55. "Yeah, right!!" : MY EYE. "Baloney!"

57. F and G, but not H : KEYS. Would make me happy if Jayce was fooled!

58. Slurpee alternative : ICEE

59. __ gin : SLOE

60. Sportscaster Costas : BOB. I like him.

61. Harlem Globetrotters founder Saperstein : ABE. Uh uh. Nope. He died in 1966. The two founder clues today killed me.

Answer grid.

Our Crossword Corner blog team photo series ends today with two recent pictures of the beautiful Melissa Bee from her Girls Weekend Out (Santa Cruz) trip. Here is Kaya and Melissa (in pink scarf). Here are the girls on the wharf. For more delicious pictures, click here.


Aug 26, 2010

Thursday August 26, 2010 Don Gagliardo

Theme: "Hit the..." Idioms - Spelled out in the clues for 22D HIT and 42D THE which reference each other: Words that can precede the answers to starred clues. Please see the note from constructor Don Gagliardo at the end of my write-up for his theme inspiration.

1A. *Bag: SACK. Hit the sack: Go to bed.

5A. *Pump output: GAS. Hit the gas: Step on it.

8A. *Follow: TRAIL. Hit the trail: Take a hike.

16A. *Road surface: PAVEMENT. Hit the pavement: Get moving.

18A. *Holdup causes?: BRAKES. Hit the brakes: Cut it out.

28A. *Rain protection: ROOF. Hit the roof: To the moon, Alice!

44A. *Grilling site: DECK. Hit the deck: Duck!

59A. *Cola holder: BOTTLE. Hit the bottle: Get drunk.

60A. *Range target: BULL'S -EYE. Hit the bull's-eye: Right on.

64A. *Warehouse aids: SKIDS. Hit the skids: Bottom out.

65A. *Guinea pig food: HAY. Hit the hay: Get some sleep.

66A. *Location: SPOT. Hit the spot: I'm stuffed.

22D. With 42-Down, words that can precede the answers to the starred clues: HIT

42D. See 22-Down: THE. Unusual unifier placement, with a black square placed in between.

Al here today.

Wow, 14 theme entries (total 66 theme squares) in a weekday puzzle, including the two tip off down clues. Pretty impressive effort to squeeze that many in symmetrically. None of the theme answers is longer than 8-letter due to the unique theme.

There are probably a few more answers that might work: books, bricks, road, lights, floor, many more can you come up with? I found solving this one pretty easy, more like a Tuesday perhaps. I didn't officially time myself, but I know it was well under 10 minutes, and I didn't even see several of the clues until I added them here.


13. Longtime portrait studio __ Mills: OLAN. I wonder if they use 36A. Like many cameras: DIGITAL.

14. Strasbourg street: RUE. French city, french word for street.

15. For this reason: HENCE. Sounds like a word you would hear in ye olde shoppe.

19. More than frown on: SNEER AT. Billy Idol.

20. Morrie Turner comic strip about ethnically diverse kids: WEE PALS.

21. D-Day carrier: LST. Landing Ship, Tank.

22. "__ Tonic": 1945 Bugs Bunny title: HARE. I see the pun you made there...

23. Green source, briefly: ATM. Green = money from an automated teller machine. And 2D. Greenspan concerned with green: ALAN. once again, green = money. The chairman of the Federal Reserve until 2006.

26. Give as a task: ASSIGN. From Latin ad signare/signum (to make a mark or a sign).

32. Southern stretch?: DRAWL. To draw out (lengthen) or protract.

34. Yours, in Tours: ATOI. French city, french word.

35. On Vine St., say: IN LA. Los Angeles. Hollywood and Vine is the center of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

38. Retailer offering video streaming: NETFLIX. I have an internet-ready blue-ray player. I may use it for downloading movies some day if I ever catch up on the backlog on my DVR...

40. Legendary work, often: EPIC.

41. Miller __: LITE. Or Park, or Time.

43. Emit, as a sigh: HEAVE. That's a heavy sigh.

45. Musical satirist Tom: LEHRER. You don't hear much about National Brotherhood Week any more.

47. "Indubitably!": YES. Yogi Bear said this all the time. Comic books and cartoons were a big source of vocabulary when I was young.

48. D-Day month: JUNE.

49. Pep: VIM.

51. To some degree: OF A SORT.

55. Bridge supports: PILINGS.

61. __ ease: ILL AT.

62. Braves, on scoreboards: ATL. Atlanta

63. 1998 skating gold medalist Lipinski: TARA. Won at the age of 15, remains the youngest ever to win gold.


1. Cleans (up) using Bounty: SOPS. The quicker picker-upper.

3. Batman's hideout: CAVE.

4. Get down to earth?: KNEEL. Literally.

5. Immortals: GREATS.

6. Patty or Selma, to Lisa Simpson: AUNT.

7. Combo's group of numbers: SET. Musical numbers. And 8D. Number in a combo, maybe: THREE.

9. Collect: REAP. As in harvest.

10. "My Way" lyricist: ANKA. Paul.

11. Eyjafjallajökull's country: Abbr.: ICEL. Iceland, with the unpronounceable volcano name.

12. More, some say: LESS. Less is more. Minimalism.

17. Shaker on the kids' show "Blue's Clues": MR SALT. A talking salt shaker, married to Mrs Pepper, with a child named Paprika.

18. Convicted Ponzi schemer Madoff: BERNIE.

20. Western driver: WAGONER.

23. Said further: ADDED.

24. Rubbish: TRIPE. Tripe is "entrails used as food". Considered worthless to some, the meaning spread to anything deemed unworthy of having, and even what others may have said.

25. Orlando cagers: MAGIC. Basketball.

27. Conspicuous: SALIENT. Something that jumps out at you. "Leaping," a heraldic term, from Latin salientem/salire "to leap".

28. All over: RIFE. Old English for "abundant".

29. Dental restoration: ONLAY. Both inlays and onlays are fillings, but an onlay replaces part of a cusp. A crown covers the entire surfaces.

30. Martini garnish: OLIVE. Or onion.

31. Many business letters: FAXES.

33. Oil lamp feature: WICK. Keep your lamp trimmed and burning.

37. Siren quality: ALLURE. Oh Brother Where Art Thou.

39. It might be cheap: THRILL. Old English þyrlian, from þyrel "hole", originally meant to pierce, penetrate. To give a shivering, exciting feeling was a metaphoric notion of being pierced with emotion.

46. How villains laugh: EVILLY.

48. Throws for a loop: JOLTS.

50. Waters gently: MISTS.

51. Asian sashes: OBIS.

52. Acoustic guitar genre: FOLK.

53. Hun king, in Scandinavian legend: ATLI. Attila. He appears under the name Etzel in the Nibelungenlied and under the name Atli in Icelandic sagas.

54. Dutch town: STAD. German stadt. The name for a place or a standing. Related words: steadfast, and once again our crosswordese friend STET (let it stand).

55. "__ lid on it!": PUT A.

56. Minimum-range tide: NEAP. A tide that occurs when the difference between high and low tide is least; the lowest level of high tide.

57. Lamb sandwich: GYRO. Modern Greek "gyros" (the word is singular) for a circle, the way the meat is cut from a rotating spit.

58. Usher's find: SEAT. From Latin ostiarius "door-keeper," from ostium "door, entrance," related to os "mouth." You can pick your friends, and your seat, but you can't pick your friend's seat.

60. Part of a legendary Christmas complaint: BAH. Humbug. Scrooge, from A Christmas Carol by Dickens.

Answer Grid.

Notes from Don:

"This is one of those puzzles where you are going along in conversation, you hear something that sounds interesting, and you go, “What was that that sounded so interesting?” You need to carry a notebook to catch these. I thought HIT THE ____ was an interesting idiom that should be explored. I was pleased to cram in as many theme words as I did, as usual giving myself fits trying to fill around them. One lucky insight that I had was to put HIT THE down the middle, divided by a black square. I don’t think that is something solvers see very often, and I thought it would be fun. I hope you all enjoyed it."


Aug 25, 2010

Wednesday August 25, 2010 Michael J. Doran

Theme: VALLEY (49D. Geological depression, and what the first word of 20-, 37- and 56-Across is). Each theme answer begins with a four-letter synonym for VALLEY, that is also a proper name.

20A. Apple hater's purchase?: DELL COMPUTER

37A. 2004 Daytona 500 winner: DALE EARNHARDT JR. Nice grid-spanner right in the middle, 15 letters and only 5 vowels.

56A. "Wichita Lineman" singer: GLEN CAMPBELL.

melissa bee here.

Canyon & gorge are synonyms of VALLEY too. But they all contain more than 4-letters and it's impossible to find a phrase that start with those two words.

Quite a scrabbly puzzle, only one W away from a pangram. It also has 10 letter Us, more than our usual vowel allotment. Valley effect, maybe.


1. Urge : SPUR

5. It's not what it pretends to be : SHAM

9. Chef's topper : TOQUE

14. Vesuvius flow : LAVA. Holy hotwick lava bomb.

15. O'Hara home : TARA. Also this Tara.

16. Prevent : AVERT

17. Pins and needles holder : ETUI. Crosswordese.

18. Capital of Rhône department : LYON. French departments are administrative divisions. Rhône department is located in the central Eastern region of Rhône-Alpes, and named after the Rhône River.

19. Military lifesaver : MEDIC

23. Grind, as teeth : GNASH

24. Prefix with -naut : AERO. Seeing this prefix a lot lately.

25. Bygone French coin : ECU.

28. Aliens, for short : ET'S

29. Drive up the wall : IRK

31. Guerrero y Oaxaca : ESTADOS. Mexican states.

34. Run the show : EMCEE

36. City of NE Italy : UDINE. Pretty. Anyone been there?

42. Gaming pioneer : ATARI

43. Mends, as socks : DARNS

44. Divided differently, as city land : REZONED

47. 10 mi. on a clear day, e.g. : VIS

48. Eggs in labs : OVA

51. Principal tonality, as of a concerto : KEY

52. Ploy : RUSE

54. __ artery: forearm blood vessel : ULNAR

59. Bordeaux brother : FRERE. French for brother. Those French have a different word for everything! (Anyone remember who said that?)

62. Biblical physician : LUKE. And apostle.

63. Qualified : ABLE

64. Mystiques : AURAS

65. Life sentences? : OBIT. Great clue.

66. Nothing, in Normandy : RIEN. Again with the French.

67. Takes a look inside? : XRAYS

68. Homes, colloquially : PADS

69. Ocular malady : STYE


1. Heavy hammer : SLEDGE. Who doesn't remember this?

2. It may be pending : PATENT

3. Tonsil neighbors : UVULAS

4. Vagabonds might ride them : RAILS

5. Normandy town decimated in WWII : ST LO. Here.

6. Powerful punch : HAYMAKER. Hey/hay Windhover.

7. Soap-on-__ : A ROPE

8. Farm fertilizer : MANURE

9. Bring under control : TAME

10. No longer hung up on : OVER. So over it.

11. Logical abbr. : QED. From Wikipedia: An initialism of the Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum, which means "that which was to be demonstrated".

12. Ocean State sch. : URI

13. Mail Boxes __ : ETC

21. Give one's two cents : CHIME IN

22. How-__: instruction books : TOS

25. Change text : EDIT

26. Because, e.g.: Abbr. : CONJ. Conjunction . ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ Hookin' up words, and phrases and clauses ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬.

27. One at a keyboard, often : USER

30. JVC competitor : RCA

32. Uncovers, as evidence : TURNS UP

33. Inserts : ADDS

34. Dulles Airport terminal designer Saarinen : EERO

35. Stop : END

37. Nyctophobe's fear : DARK

38. Suit to __ : A TEE

39. Like a couch potato : LAZY. Or a teenager.

40. Give birth : HAVE A KID. Ouch.

41. Shapiro of NPR : ARI. White House correspondent.

45. Before, before : ERE

46. Longtime tire brand : DUNLOP

48. At all : ONE BIT

50. "What's My Line?" panelist Francis : ARLENE. No peeking.

53. Explore reefs, in a way : SCUBA

55. Construction pieces : L BARS. Hm. Well there's this, and then there's this. Different strokes.

56. Confederate color : GRAY. Confederate officer's uniform.

57. Take away : LESS

58. Beneficiaries of Bill Buckner's famous World Series error : METS. Here is the story. And here is the clip.

59. Phoned document : FAX

60. 1921 sci-fi play : RUR. Rossom's Universal Robots. Usually clued as 'Capek play.' In yesterday's puzzle also.

61. Nostalgic period : ERA

Answer grid.


Aug 24, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 Dave Mackey

Theme: "Play Ball!" - The ending words of the theme entries are activities used in baseball, softball, and cricket. Any others?

20A. Quilter's layer : COTTON BATTING. The layer of fabric that makes a quilt warm. Based on the notion of "beaten" fabric, it isn't woven from threads.

28A. Camper's activity : TENT PITCHING. A weak entry.

49A. Not out of contention : IN THE RUNNING

59A. "Tom Jones" author : HENRY FIELDING. (1707 - 1754) An English novelist and dramatist known for his rich earthy humour and satirical prowess.

Argyle here.

Our constructor today has his own blogspot and did some NYT puzzles. Today's is a step up from yesterday's and, to me, not as smooth. No real problems.


1. Strikebreaker : SCAB

5. Start of a childhood learning song : ABCD

9. Music groups : BANDS

14. Movie director's unit : TAKE

15. Linguist Chomsky : NOAM. A professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

16. Each : EVERY

17. Song with a cadenza, perhaps : ARIA

18. Defunct Atlanta arena : OMNI. Completed in 1972, the arena was demolished in 1997.

19. Floored : WOWED

23. Comedian/actor Robert : KLEIN. This gentleman, is known for his wry wit and unique brand of humor.

24. Wagon wheel depression : RUT

25. Country with borders on three diff. oceans : USA. Did you forget the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's north shore?

33. Onetime Leno announcer Hall : EDD. A native of Boston, Hall grew up in Corning, NY, and attended Syracuse University. He now lives in Los Angeles.

36. Hockey score : GOAL

37. Capital west of Haiphong : HANOI. Haiphong is on the Vietnam coast.

38. Graceland middle name : ARON. Elvis Aron Presley.

40. Agile mountain animals : GOATS

43. Earth 42-Down : GEOL.. Earth Science = Geology.

44. Copy room powder : TONER

46. Ancient Andean : INCA. The best alliteration today.

48. Zoo swinger : APE

53. Mario Brothers letters : NES. Nintendo Entertainment System (abbreviated to NES or Nintendo). Mario Brothers is their biggest game.

54. Demand payment from : DUN. Word origin & history of dun. "to insist on payment of debt," 1620s, perhaps related to dunnen "to sound, resound, make a din," or shortened from dunkirk (c.1600) "privateer," a private vessel licensed to attack enemy ships during wartime, from Dunkirk , French port from which they sailed. Yet another, less likely, theory traces it to a Joe Dun , supposedly a London bailiff famous for catching defaulters.

55. Ancient Greek region : IONIA. On the Turkish coast. Map.

64. TV spot : PROMO

66. Shoppe adjective : OLDE

67. Actress/artist Sommer : ELKE. This German-born actress and now artist, lives in Los Angeles, CA and has no children.

68. Some woodwinds : OBOES

69. Pass unprofitably, as time : KILL

70. Tiger's 2004 bride : ELIN. Tiger's 2010 ex.

71. Petrol purchase : LITRE . British lingo.

72. French summers : ETEs. French lingo.

73. Huff and puff : PANT


1. Pile neatly : STACK

2. Holiday tune : CAROL. Hi, Carol.

3. "Go fly __!" : A KITE

4. "Amscray!" : "BEAT IT!" . Amscray is scram in pig Latin.

5. In a short time, old-style : ANON

6. Box office disaster : BOMB

7. Where Jesus turned water to wine : CANA. There are four villages in Galilee which are candidates for the biblical Cana.

8. Composer Shostakovich : DMITRI. He was a child prodigy as both a pianist and composer. Romance (from The Gadfly).

9. Cast a spell over : BEWITCH

10. Bell-ringing fragrance giant : AVON

11. World's second largest island : NEW GUINEA. Greenland is the largest island.

12. Rap's Dr. __ : DRE

13. Guitarist Barrett : SYD. He was a founding member of the band, Pink Floyd; he died in 2006.

21. 10 C-notes : ONE G. C-notes = $100 dollar bills, ten would make $1,000, one Grand.

22. Syllable of rebuke : TUT

26. Prying sort : SNOOP

27. Like a contortionist : AGILE

29. Eggy seasonal drink : NOG

30. Lao-tzu principle : TAO. The way.

31. Like the nose on your face? : PLAIN

32. Broom rider : HAG

33. Skip the bistro : EAT IN

34. Monotonous sound : DRONE

35. Plea made with one's hands up : "DON'T SHOOT!"

39. Bk.after Ezra : NEH. The Book of Nehemiah is sometimes called the Second Book of Ezra.

41. Former Opry network : TNN. The Nashville Network (TNN)

42. Chem. or phys. : SCI.

45. Rudolph tip-off : RED NOSE. A good guide on a foggy night.

47. Indigo dye source : ANIL. A leguminous West Indian shrub.

50. Capek play about automatons : R.U.R.. (Rossum's Universal Robots)

51. Break up a team? : UNYOKE. A team of horses or oxen. This week is fair week.

52. Smack a homer, in baseball lingo : GO DEEP. and 65. Squeeze bunt stat : RBI. Special bunt when there is a man on third.

56. Nabisco wafer brand : NILLA

57. Finish, as a comic strip : INK IN. Fill in the outlines.

58. Rep : AGENT

60. Part of EMT: Abbr. : EMER.. Emergency medical technicians. EMT

61. Move like a butterfly : FLIT

62. Not working : IDLE

63. Marine shockers : EELS

64. D.C. deal maker : POL

Answer grid.