Nov 30, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 Mark Feldman

Theme: While You Slept - Occupations you might want to be kept in the dark about?

20A. One debating the unpopular side: DEVIL'S ADVOCATE

31A. Healer using magic: WITCH DOCTOR

41A. Uncredited author: GHOST WRITER

55A. Wee-hours work period for 20-, 31- and 41-Across?: GRAVEYARD SHIFT

Argyle here.

Not too sure of the theme since none of the three entries necessarily work at night. Oh well, not many names today. Good solid corners on the grid. Long entries. On the whole, I liked it.


1. Roe source : SHAD

5. Scrape, cat-style : CLAW

9. 100 kopeks : RUBLE and 6D. Turkish bread? : LIRA. Russian bread and Turkish bread. No euros yet.

14. Geographical extremity : POLE

15. Little suckers : LICE. 16. Matriculate : ENROL. 23. Washing aid for pupils : EYE CUP. 11D. Sassy kid : BRAT. The clues all made me think of students.

17. Turow memoir subtitled "The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School" : ONE L

18. The "Habanera" from "Carmen," e.g. : ARIA.

19. Blunt, as reality : STARK

24. Blood bank fluid : SERUM

25. "Hold on __!" : A SEC

27. Stew : SEETHE

36. "Man oh man!" : "WOW!"

37. Out of kilter : AWRY

38. Dove murmur : COO

39. About 1,609 meters : MILE

40. Game system played with gestures : Wii. Nintendo's spelling of "Wii" with two lower-case "i" characters is meant to resemble two people standing side by side, representing players gathering together. So they say. The big thing is it gets people off the couch to play.

45. Long-haired cat : ANGORA

47. Part of a family business title : SONS

48. Pitching miscues : BALKS

51. Where AMZN stock is traded : NASDAQ., Inc. / "NASDAQ" originally stood for "National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations Systems," but the exchange's official stance is that the acronym is obsolete.

58. Japanese cartoon genre : ANIME

59. Oklahoma tribe : OTOE. They're out there somewhere. The tribe got moved around a lot and you can't be sure from where they might be clued.

60. Naysayer : ANTI

61. Deadly : FATAL

62. Zip (along) : TEAR

63. Chick's sound : PEEP

64. Head lock : TRESS. Had me thinking wrestling move for awhile.

65. At __: arguing : ODDS. This idiom uses odds in the sense of "a condition of being unequal or different," and transfers it to a difference of opinion, or quarrel.

66. Messes up : ERRS


1. Fine porcelain : SPODE. Named for Josiah Spode who developed the manufacturing of bone china with blue glaze, based in Stoke-on-Trent, England.
Image. I think porcelain and bone china aren't exactly the same but I'll read the Wikipedia article later.

2. Sweetheart : HONEY

3. Naproxen, commercially : ALEVE.

4. Epicurean delight : DELICACY

5. Held firmly : CLASPED

7. Fatty __ : ACIDS

8. Make, as baskets : WEAVE

9. Fireman, sometimes : RESCUER

10. Wild : UNTAME. More familiar with untamed.

12. Folk tales and such : LORE

13. "Benevolent" fraternal member : ELK. Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE)

21. Having abundant vegetation : LUSH

22. Thereabouts : OR SO

26. Chanel of fashion : COCO

28. Nincompoop : TWIT

29. Burrow indicator : HOLE

30. Pretty pitcher : EWER. Pretty alliteration.

31. Guitar effect : WA-WA

32. Triumphant cry : "I WIN!"

33. Math course : TRIG

34. Business orgs. : COs.

35. Little ones : TOTS

39. Form incorrectly : MISSHAPE

41. Covers, as a driveway : GRAVELS

42. Robust : HALE. NYT Sunday puzzle once had this clue for HALE: Sarah Josepha ___, who wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb". Can you say obscure?

43. Worldly seven : WONDERS

44. Messenger molecules : RNAs. These little molecules are everywhere.

46. White House family : OBAMAs

49. Onetime capital of Japan : KYOTO. Kyoto was Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. The city in the central part of the island of Honshu, southwest of Tokyo.

50. Filled up : SATED

52. Restaurant patron : DINER

53. Following : AFTER

54. Wax removers : Q-TIPS

55. Growl : GNAR. Add an 'L' at the end and it becomes a tree knot.

56. Ceremony : RITE

57. Country way : ROAD

58. Toward the rudder : AFT

Answer grid.


Nov 29, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010 Jeff Chen

Theme: This & That - Two words that start with "R" connected by "and". The unifier is an abbreviated form of the other four so it isn't really a revealer, just a hint.

17A. Music genre that evolved in the '50s: ROCK AND ROLL

28A. How the wheels on the bus go: ROUND AND ROUND

39A. Time off, briefly, and this puzzle's theme: R AND R

47A. "Old" nickname for Zachary Taylor: ROUGH AND READY

63A. Complain hysterically: RANT AND RAVE

Argyle here.

After I did the comments, I realized there are a lot of names in this puzzle for a Monday, even though the theme was easy to get.


1. Toad feature : WART

5. Cravings : URGES

10. W.W. Jacobs short story "The Monkey's __" : PAW. No, not his father.

13. Etonic competitor : AVIA. No, it doesn't mean to fly.

14. Hollandaise and barbecue : SAUCES. Yes, it could include cranberry.

16. Genetic molecule: Abbr. : RNA. Molecule doesn't sound right.

19. "__ complicated" : IT'S. Probably the explanation to the above clue.

20. Evil smile : SNEER

21. Pac-10 hoops powerhouse : UCLA. University of California, Los Angeles.

22. Cambridge sch. : MIT. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

23. Letter before kappa : IOTA. Greek. (Handy chart, if you care about these things.)

26. Tranquil : AT PEACE

32. Possess : OWN

33. Italian "a" : UNA. Feminine and singular number.

34. Tide creations : POOLS. Here is a photo of a large one at Carmel, CA. Pools often have their own little ecosphere.

37. Formally relinquish : CEDE

42. Winter fall : SNOW

43. Hägar the Horrible's dog : SNERT

45. Zippy start? : ZEE. The letter "Z".

46. Well-armed org. : NRA. National Rifle Association. (Rifles aren't considered "heaters", either.) (From a recent clue.)

52. Nonsense : BALONEY

54. The ten in "hang ten" : TOES. Standing on the front edge of a surf board.

55. Batter's stat : RBI. "Runs batted in".

56. Power co. product : ELEC.

58. Freeze, as a plane's wings : ICE UP

62. + molecule, e.g. : ION. + indicates a positive charge.

66. Work unit : ERG

67. Like the night in a classic Van Gogh work : STARRY. Clip(4:12), w/ slide show.

68. All done : OVER

69. Knox and McHenry: Abbr. : FTs. Forts.

70. "Do the Right Thing" actor Davis : OSSIE. A younger version(Image) of the couple. Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis were married 56 years when Ossie died in 2005.

71. Wimpy : WEAK. My kind of Wimpy. Image.


1. Serious conflicts : WARS

2. Cosmetic caller : AVON

3. Paddy grain : RICE

4. Adopt, as a puppy : TAKE IN

5. "Top Gun" org. : USN. United States Navy, Navy Fighter Weapons School (better known as "TOPGUN").

6. "Groovy!" : "RAD!". Only in crosswords!

7. Hindu religious instructor : GURU

8. Chevy Volt or Ford Fusion : ECOCAR

9. Do business with : SELL TO

10. Temperamental diva, e.g. : PRIMA DONNA. Remember this one(2:41).

11. Shenanigan : ANTIC

12. Trash : WASTE

15. First-rate, in Rugby : SLAP-UP. New to me.

Some great sleuthing by Clear Ayes: "About (15D) SLAP-UP: I "G'd" (15D) SLAP-UP as a rugby term and couldn't find anything other than Brit-slang "first-rate", usually referring to a meal. It took me a very non-Monday time to realize that the game is lower case and the clue must refer to a town named Rugby. Sure enough, the Warwickshire town in England is most famous as the place where the game was invented."

18. Yankee with 613 career homers, familiarly : A-ROD. "Alex" Rodriguez.

24. Bull: Pref. : TAUR. Such as TAURiform, shaped like a bull.

25. Oscar winner Paquin : ANNA. Canadian-born New Zealand actress. Paquin's first critically successful film was The Piano, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1994 at the age of 11 – the second youngest winner in history. (Tatum O'Neal for "Paper Moon" (1973) age 10).

27. Nephew of Cain : ENOS

28. Big birds of lore : ROCs. A mythical giant bird.

29. Wilson of "Marley & Me" : OWEN

30. Subordinates : UNDERLINGS

31. "Who's the Boss?" star Tony : DANZA. 80's TV sitcom. Tony was in Taxi, also.

35. Manor master : LORD

36. Oscillate : SWAY

38. Sock ending : EROO. Sockeroo.

40. Car scar : DENT

41. Overhaul, as a Web site : REDO

44. Workers with an ear for music? : TUNERS

48. Italian ice cream : GELATO

49. "Laughing" critters : HYENAS

50. Longtime Nevada senator Harry : REID

51. Money for taxes and insurance may be held in it : ESCROW

52. Lawyer's filing : BRIEF

53. NASA "Stop!" : ABORT

57. NBA's Shaq and Yao, e.g. : CTRs. The big men who play the position of center on the National Basketball Association teams.

59. A gutter is often under it : EAVE. It's over your head.

60. Eye part containing the iris : UVEA

61. Exec's extra : PERK. Formed by by shortening and respelling of perquisite, an incidental payment, benefit, privilege, or advantage over and above regular income, salary, or wages.

64. "Taking Heat" memoirist Fleischer : ARI. Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House. Cover. He is the former White House Press Secretary for U.S. President George W. Bush.

65. PBS science guy Bill : NYE

Answer grid.


Nov 28, 2010

Sunday November 28, 2010 John Lampkin

Theme: Stuffed - The end letter(s) of each Thanksgiving Day food item is left out. You're too stuffed to eat the whole thing, a la Santa.


35A. Thursday veggie : MASHED POTATOES WITH GRA(VY)

55A. Thursday condiment : HOMEMADE CRANBERRY SAUC(E)


91A. Thursday dessert : PUMPKIN PECAN PIE A LA MOD(E)

111A. This weekend's fridge contents, probably, and what's missing from five long puzzle answers? : THANKSGIVING LEFTOVERS

Different number of letters are left out in each theme entry. I presume the rationale is just to get a perfect 21 in each entry? Or does CKS, VY, E, ALLOWS & E together anagram to something meaningful?

Very seldom do we see 6 grid spanners in a Sunday puzzle. Tough to pull it off. No to mention a pangram and no cheater. Low word/block count as well. Amazing.

The clue for TAIPEI (71D. Southeast Asian island metropolis) is incorrect. It's East Asian. China, Japan, North/South Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan/Hongkong/Macau all belong to East Asia.

As usual, I've green-highlighted John's signature clechoes.


1. Insect catchers : WEBS. Had NETS.

5. Something blown before a fight? : FUSE. And BURN (3D. Blow a 5-Across).

9. Seize by force : USURP

14. Monkees' jacket type : NEHRU. Always associated it with the Beatles. And TITLE (72. Jacket line). Book jacket.

19. Marine hue : AQUA. Dennis, I can see dark blue from Minnesota!

20. Exalt : LAUD

21. Long time follower? : NO SEE. Great clue.

22. Allium plant : ONION. Unaware of this fact.

27. Singing hindrance : TIN EAR. I just can't sing.

28. Net weight factors : TARES. And ENMESH (15D. Catch, as in a net)

29. Early Greek Cynic : DIOGENES. Not familiar with this dude. Maybe Argyle the Modern Cynic knows.

30. Sweeping matter : SOOT

32. Curse : OATH

34. __-relief : BAS

45. Bruins' sch. : UCLA

46. Lays eggs in water : SPAWNS

47. Jalisco hundred : CIEN. Spanish for "hundred".

48. Fleur de __: sea salt : SEL. Just "salt" in French. Poivre = Pepper.

49. They're raised at bars : SHOTS. Sure was not thinking of drinks. Also SAKE (4D. Sushi bar drink). Rice wine.

51. Connecting symbol between musical notes : TIE. And READ (62A. Decipher, as music)

52. Auto for Otto, maybe : AUDI. Nice sounding clue.

53. Arch opening? : MATRI. Opening of the word Matriarch.

60. Half an attention-getter : YOO. "Yoo -hoo".

61. Concur : AGREE

63. Everlasting, to the bard : ETERNE. Eternal.

64. Jenny's sound : BRAY. Jenny = She donkey.

65. Vise feature : JAW

66. Certain fed : NARC. Shouldn't "fed" be capitalized?

67. Secretary of state under Reagan : SHULTZ (George)

70. Try : STAB

74. Lyricist Gershwin : IRA. See also LIZA (103D. Gershwin title girl who can make "all the clouds ... roll away"). Had L in place, wanted LOLA.

81. Mountain spine : RIDGE

82. Postnatal bed : CRIB

83. AQI monitor : EPA

84. "... __ down in green pastures" : TO LIE. No idea. From Psalm 23.

85. Alias : AKA

86. __-garou: werewolf : LOUP. French for werewolf. Loup = Wolf. Lupus is Latin for wolf. Learning moment for me.

87. Flaws : FAULTS

90. "Death in Venice" author : MANN (Horace) (Correction: The author is Thomas Mann. Thanks, Dodo.)

96. Lip : RIM

97. Neil Diamond's "__ Said" : I AM I

98. King of rhyme : COLE. Old King Cole. Nursery rhyme.

99. Remain calm : STAY COOL

104. Succeed in : WIN AT

106. More's allegorical island : UTOPIA. Thomas More.

114. Azerbaijani neighbor : IRANI. Wow, what if the hard-to-spell Azerbaijani is the answer?

115. Gas that both protects and pollutes : OZONE

116. Hot rod rod : AXLE

117. Mounted on : ATOP

118. "Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon" author Robert : ROSE. Stranger to me.

119. Georgia gridders, familiarly : DAWGS. University of Georgia Bulldogs. Unknown to me.

120. Macho guy : STUD

121. Peephole feature, often : LENS


1. One with his name in lights? : WATT. James Watt I suppose.

2. Same: Pref. : EQUI

5. Trout fishing gear : FLY RODS

6. Detroit labor gp. : UAW

7. Fit perfectly : SUIT TO A TEE. Nailed it.

8. Flamboyant Dame : EDNA. Dame Edna.

9. Dethrones : UNSEATS

10. In order that : SO AS TO

11. JFK served in it : USN

12. Sly Foxx : REDD. Why "Sly"?

13. Foot at the head? : PEDI. Don't get the clue.

14. Chewy candy : NOUGAT

16. "__ Hers": 1994 Pulp album : HIS 'N". Another unfamiliar reference.

17. Learning style : ROTE

18. Colleges, Down Under : UNIs.

24. Lighten up : EASE

25. Pun, usually : GROANER

26. The American one is in the thrush family : ROBIN

31. Like an ant. : OPP (Opposite). Antonym.

33. Mother of Hector in the "Iliad" : HECUBA. Mother of Paris as well. I was stumped again.

35. Oozing schmaltz : MUSHY

36. Certain Dwarf's periodic outburst : ACHOO

37. NFL ref's aid : SLO-MO

38. Detest : HATE

39. Doubly : TWICE

40. Took up (with) : SIDED

41. Stream blocker : WEIR. River dam. New word to me. Only know golfer Mike Weir. He won Masters in 2003.

42. The sun, e.g. : G-STAR. Why isn't "sun" capitalized?

43. Show over : RERUN

44. Pulitzer winner Walker : ALICE

50. Smug sort : SMARTIE. Another new word. Reminded me of Smarty Jones.

52. Again : ANEW

53. "It's on me" : MY TREAT

54. "Be there in __" : A SEC

56. Riveted : AGAZE

57. Like Steven Wright's humor : DRY

58. Lawrence's men : ARABS. "Lawrence of Arabia".

59. King's domain : REALM

64. Sch. campus unit : BLDG

65. Doorway part : JAMB

66. Ultimate : NTH

67. Morsel : SCRAP

68. Narrowly defined verse : HAIKU

69. Allow to flow : UNDAM. A real word?

70. Waffle topper : SYRUP

72. Tilt skywards : TIP UP. Have never used this phrase before.

73. It's used for emphasis : ITALIC TEXT. True!

74. Faith of more than one billion : ISLAM. Don't really understand this religion.

75. African lumberer : RHINO

76. Alter, as an agreement : AMEND. OK, EMEND is "Alter, as a text".

78. Pest control brand : D-CON. Wanted RAID.

79. Making independent (from) : WEANING

80. "Arrivederci __" : ROMA

86. Stretches on the road : LIMOS. Nice clue.

87. Biblical hardships : FAMINES

88. Columbia Records jazz producer Macero : TEO. Is this guy very well-known?

89. Toasted : SALUTED

92. Hawthorne's "A" wearer : PRYNNE. In "The Scarlet Letter".

93. Begin to take effect : KICK IN

94. Cornfield chatter : CAWING

95. Mother of Apollo : LETO. Don't confuse her with "Mother of Helen" the swan lady LEDA.

99. Arouse : STIR

100. Via, old-style : THRO

101. Small batteries : AAAs

102. Prayer start : O GOD

105. Sadly : ALAS. Penned in BLUE. Grammatically wrong.

107. __ Office : OVAL

108. Ale brewer Slosberg : PETE. First encounter with this brewer.

109. Fe, in chemistry : IRON

110. Deadly slitherers : ASPS

112. Altar agreement : VOW

113. H1N1 virus, e.g. : FLU

Answer grid.


Nov 27, 2010

Interview with Victor Fleming

Those who watched the crossword documentary "Wordplay" are probably familiar with the below lines:

"If you don't come across I'm gonna be down/ If you don't come across I'm gonna be down/ Your love to me is a mystery and the clues are all around / If you don't come across I'm gonna be down..." (Full lyrics here). The song was composed by today's constructor Victor Fleming.

Mr. Fleming started constructing crosswords regularly for various newspapers in 2004. Since then, his puzzles have appeared in LA Times, NY Times (total 26 puzzles), NY Sun, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Games magazine, etc.

I learned that you are a district judge in Little Rock. How did you get into crossword construction and how does your law background influence your puzzle style?

I’ve been solving crosswords since the age of 12, but I’ve played word games and made up puzzles and mazes for as long as I can remember. In 2003, I set a goal of publishing crosswords. After several rejection notes, I found two mentors, Peter Abide and Nelson Hardy. With these experienced constructors’ help, I learned what I was doing wrong, fixed that and have been published regularly since 2004. Given choices among various fill selections and various clues, I seem to gravitate toward legal stuff, though I try to balance that out.

You appeared in "Wordplay", which also featured a song you wrote. How was the movie experience and how did it affect your life?

The “Wordplay” experience was serendipitous and fun. I’d written a song to perform as part of a humor routine at the 2005 ACPT, the first one that I’d ever attended. Turned out that was the year that Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley were shooting footage for a documentary about crosswords. They met me, learned what I was up to and filmed Stella Daily, Ben Tausig and me rehearsing the song, “If You Don’t Come Across, I’m Gonna Be Down.” They liked it, left me and the song in the film and then licensed the song for the closing credits. I went to premieres of the film at the Sundance Film Festival and in New York, Chicago, Little Rock, Jackson (Miss.) and Fayetteville (Ark.). I had a blast.

What is the highlight of your construction career and what is the best puzzle you've made? Why?

There’ve been many highlights. The first and second puzzles published by the New York Times stand out because there was a 14-month turnaround for the first and a 14-day turnaround for the second, and they were published 5 weeks apart. My first puzzle accepted by Rich Norris at LAT stands out as well, because he really liked a theme that some people around me had not been complimentary of. The best puzzle, I suppose, was one in a Simon & Schuster book that Bruce Venzke and I did, called “You Be the Judge.” In it, the two words across the center were OBJECTION ?????????, and the missing letters could spell SUSTAINED or OVERRULED, as the crossing clues would support both.

You seem to be fond of collaborating with other constructors, how is it different from your own individual effort?

Dialoguing about puzzles is fun and educational. I made puzzles with my mentors. I’ve made puzzles with most of the people whom I’ve mentored. And I have made puzzles with a lot of different people who have just become friends. It typically begins with one or the other person starting a dialogue, as innocuous as “What do you think of this?” or as serious as “I’ve got something really good here and I’m stuck.”

When does the crossword muse normally visit you? And what kind of books/magazines/websites do you read for theme inspirations?

My muse is more like a drunken sailor than a sweet little fairy princess. For me, making puzzles is work. And late at night is when I pursue the activity. I dig through quote books and sites. I spend a lot of time at I pluck ideas from the newspaper and from magazines that I read and from contemporary and not-so-contemporary literature that I read.

What kind of puzzle do you solve every day? And who are your favorite constructors?

I solve the L.A. Times, New York Times and CrosSynery puzzles every day. My favorite constructors are - well, I made a list and there were 40 people on it, and I am bound to have left out someone. So, please excuse me on this request. I admire different people for different talents that they demonstrate in the cruciverbalism.

Saturday November 27, 2010 Victor Fleming

Theme: None

Total words: 70

Total blocks: 29

Interesting cross shape in the middle. It coheres the grid and gives the whole central part a tight connectedness which could collapse the entire puzzle if one fill goes wrong. Quite challenging construction-wise. The constructor also refrained from using any helper/cheater squares. Admirable.

I am quite fond of the paralleled triple 9s in Down today, all multiple words:

12D. Some clinic customers : PET OWNERS

13D. Run by an ex, as a household : ONE PARENT

14D. Bush country? : RED STATES. Those who voted for Bush?

30D. Be rewarded on the job : GET A RAISE. Sweet.

31D. Superhero first introduced as a teenager : SPIDER-MAN. Do you know his real name is Peter Parker.

32D. Track fixture : TOTE BOARD. Racetrack.


1. One is in the Guinness Book for its 1,728-word vocabulary : PARAKEET. Helpful hints with "its" and the number of vocabulary.

9. Foggy state : STUPOR. Always want *NESS ending for clues with "state".

15. It's SSE of Salt Lake City : OREM UTAH. Tricky combination. But the clue is asking for OREM UT, with abbreviated SSE.

16. Peaceful : SERENE

17. South-of-the-border sunblock? : SOMBRERO. Oh, hat.

18. Like "The Hurt Locker," e.g. : R-RATED. Haven't seen the movie yet.

19. Iteration opening : I SAID. And I AM (53. First two words of "Green Eggs and Ham"). I am Sam.

20. Ask too many questions : PRY

22. Big drop sounds : PLOPS

23. Actual wording : TEXT

24. It clashes with stripes : PLAID. Why "clashes"?

26. Hit : SWAT

27. Elbows on the table, say : FAUX PAS. Proper manner in our house.

29. Lobby with heaters?: Abbr. : NRA. Nailed it.

30. Guitar component : G-STRING. Our Al is a serious guitar player.

34. Where the Boss's band once rehearsed : E-STREET. I never know how the E Street Band got its name.

36. Horace works : EPODES. Lyric poems. New word to me.

37. Ludlum's amnesiac Jason : BOURNE. "The Bourne Identity".

38. Oberon's spouse : TITANIA. From "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Got me.

40. Conservationists' concerns : FORESTS

41. Drink suffix : ADE

42. Total : DESTROY. Verb "Total".

44. Sitcom named for its star : REBA

46. Weasel relative : STOAT

47. Building site sight : I-BAR

51. Woolf's "__ of One's Own" : A ROOM. Virginia Woolf.

54. Lose ground? : ERODE. Awesome clue.

55. Istanbul shelter : IMARET. Turkish hostel. I can never remember this word.

57. Liqueur made with coffee beans : TIA MARIA. Kahlua too.

59. Flaubert biographer : SARTRE. No idea. "Nausea", "No Exit", "Being and Nothingness" are all the works I know about Sartre. Womanizer. Most men cheat.

60. One may be civil : ENGINEER. Thought of MARRIAGE.

61. Ultimate objective : END ALL

62. Ones with "a case of mistaken nonentity": Barbara Stanwyck : EGOTISTS. Unaware of this quote.


1. Put forward : POSIT

2. Developed : AROSE

3. Big name in real estate : RE/MAX. Big indeed. But what does the company name mean?

4. Scope : AMBIT. No idea. I know gambit though.

5. About one in six Iraqis : KURD. Interesting trivia.

6. Hot time to see Nancy? : ETE. Nancy the city in France.

7. One of a swimmer's pair : EARPLUG

8. Insect section : THORAX

9. Lith., once : SSR

10. College Park athlete, for short : TERP. University of Maryland. College Park is a city? Sounds like a stadium name.

11. Source of some Russian copper : URALS. Unaware of the copper there.

21. Startled cry : YIPE

24. Multi-colored bloomers : PANSIES

25. 1981 Wolfgang Petersen film : DAS BOOT. "The Boat". A movie about some U-boat.

27. Evil sort : FIEND

28. Short __ : STORY

33. Suggested amt. to have : RDA

35. Want to take back : RUE

39. Moscato d'__: sparkling wine : ASTI

40. Setting up : FRAMING

43. Exactly : TO A TEE. Used to have problem parsing TOATEE.

45. Vital artery : AORTA

47. Farsi speaker : IRANI

48. Didactic types, often : BORES

49. Losing, after "on" : A DIET. Losing weight.

50. Backs : REARS

52. Jazz organist Saunders : MERL. His name escaped me.

54. Give out : EMIT

56. Address book abbr. : TEL

58. Back : AGO

Answer grid.


Nov 26, 2010

Friday November 26, 2010 Samuel A. Donaldson

Theme: ADD A LITTLE PUNCH (59. Liven up, with "to" (and a hint to how 17-, 27- and 44-Across were created) - Three basic boxing punch terms are added to the start of each common phrase.

17A. Flight from a heated argument? : CROSSFIRE ESCAPE. The base phrase here is Fire Escape.

27A. Talkative "King of Country"? : JABBERING STRAIT. Bering Strait. "King of Country": George Strait.

44A. Gene carrier responsible for truancy? : HOOKY CHROMOSOME. Y Chromosome.

C.C. here. Lemonade is on DL. Needs a bit more time after the eye surgery. Hopefully he'll be back blogging next Friday.

Nice pangram. All 26 letters are used at least once. I like that the "punched" new phrases have got nothing to do with various punch terms. Perfect adding a letter/letter string gimmick. Neat unifier.

Great looking grid too. Four cross-spanning theme entries with no cheater square.


1. Knack : FEEL. Did you get the answer immediately?

5. Big name in crackers : RITZ. Also 40D. Crackers? : WISE GUYS. Awesome clue. Great "crackers" clecho (clue echo).

9. Earthshaking news? : QUAKE. Nailed it.

14. Othello's confidant : IAGO. Achieved forever fame in Xword.

15. Not many : A FEW

16. Where to look out? : BELOW. I don't get the clue.

20. Thumbs-up : ASSENT

21. Baking shortcut : MIX. The clue "shortcut" makes me think the answer might be an abbreviation.

22. Flamboyant band since the '70s : KISS. Weird band.

23. Ask for : SEEK

25. Jack succeeded him : IKE. Both clue & answer are nicknames.

35. Allegheny, as of 1979 : US AIR. Was unaware of its previous name.

36. Karate skill symbols : BELTS

37. A.L. Central team, on scoreboards : CLE. Cleveland Indians.

38. Minor damage : DING

39. Word on the Great Seal of the U.S. : NOVUS. See here. "Novus ordo seclorum" = "New order of the ages". Novus = New. Ordo = Order. Seclorum = Age.

40. Propeller sound : WHIR

41. Gram. topic : ADJ. Grammar/Adjective.

42. Signal flare : FUSEE. Man, I did not even know this is a word.

43. Devout : PIOUS

47. Run a fever, perhaps : AIL

48. Informal rejection : NOPE

49. Big bunch : BEVY. Bevy of beauties.

52. Absorb, as a loss : EAT

55. Affects, as one's heartstrings : TUGS AT

62. Idaho flower : SNAKE. Snake River. Snaky clue without the question mark hint. Flower = Flow-er. River flows.

63. Cat's-paw : TOOL. Another devious clue.

64. Cole Porter's alma mater : YALE

65. Boss's privilege : SAY-SO

66. Office suites, e.g. : APPS (Applications)

67. Like yarn : SPUN


1. Pay stub abbr. : FICA

2. "I'm all __" : EARS

3. Obstacles to quiet on the set? : EGOS. Movie set.

4. Takes a real beating : LOSES BIG. Great answer.

5. Roof support : RAFTER

6. "__ Had $1000000": Barenaked Ladies hit : IF I. Not familiar with the song or the Barenaked Ladies, A Canadian alt-rock band. No lady there, and no one is bare or naked.

7. Six years, for a senator : TERM

8. Company in Germany? : ZWEI. German for "two". Two is company. (Thanks for the correction, Santa!)

9. Signal callers: Abbr. : QBS

10. Sportscaster Bob dubbed "Mr. Baseball" : UECKER. Here is a nice picture. He's the broadcaster in "Major League". Very funny.

11. Kyrgyzstan range : ALAI. No idea. The Trans-Alai Range.

12. Keystone krew? : KOPS. Krew for "crew".

13. Meadow mamas : EWES

18. Contemptuous look : SNEER

19. Isn't fiction : EXISTS

24. Put the __ on: end : KIBOSH. I like the full phrase.

26. Chess jumpers: Abbr. : KTS (Knights)

27. David's kingdom : JUDAH

28. "... say, not __" : AS I DO

29. Bela Fleck's instrument : BANJO. Sweet answer for our old Bill. Maybe Bill G too.

30. "Fat chance!" : NEVER

31. Fasten, in a way : GLUE ON

32. Blessing evoker : ACHOO

33. Pelvic bone : ILIUM. Plural is ilia.

34. Like Coolidge, famously : TERSE. Hence "Silent Cal".

39. Proton sites : NUCLEI

42. "Thought you should know," on a memo : FYI

43. Like some children's books : POPUP

45. Whitewater craft : KAYAKS

46. Sites of many affairs : MOTELS. Thought of the singular OFFICE.

49. Largemouth __ : BASS

50. Bart Simpson's teacher __ Krabappel : EDNA. No idea.

51. End of the war : V-DAY. Victory.

53. "__ girl!" : ATTA

54. Sporty car roof : T-TOP

56. Pop's pal, at breakfast? : SNAP. Oh, Snap, Crackle, and Pop.

57. 2006 NSA suer : ACLU. Forever suing.

58. Afterwards : THEN

60. MGM mascot : LEO. Leo the Lion.

61. Cut : LOP

Answer grid.


Nov 25, 2010

Thursday November 25, 2010 Don Gagliardo

Theme: It's electrifying. 7D. What the perimeter answers in this puzzle literally create: ELECTRIC CIRCUIT. All the edge answers can be preceded by the word "ELECTRIC" and they make a complete CIRCUIT around the puzzle.

1A. Racer's privilege: POLE. Pole position: at the start of a race, the leading car on the inside. Electric pole: (+) or (-) as on a battery.

5A. Group of contestants: FIELD. Electric field: a point in space with an electric charge that will exert a force on other electrically charged objects.

10A. Heart, basically: PUMP. Electrical pump, such as a sump pump instead of a mechanical hand pump.

71A. Spelunker's aid: LAMP. Electric lamp, as opposed to a gas or kerosene lamp.

72A. Rhythmic element: METER. Poetic or musical meter. An electrical device to measure volt, watts, amps, etc.

73A. Make it official: SIGN. Electric sign: neon, lit up, moving, or a combination.

1D. Brahms's instrument: PIANO. They have electric pianos now that look, feel, sound and have action just like a mechanical one. Why bother? Well, they never go out of tune, and you don't need gravity to play them.

13D. Kind of nap or tie: POWER. After you: 24A. Had too much of: OD'ED ON turkey, then comes the tryptophan loss of consciousness.

32D. Summer cooler: FAN. As opposed to a Japanese hand fan. Overly enthusiastic "fans" of Japanese manga and anime (from an earlier puzzle) are referred to as "otaku". It has the sense of geek or nerd or even worse.

39D. Common observer: EYE. Electric eyes are used to open doors, and for burglar alarms.

52D. Machine with bits: DRILL. Does anyone still use a hand drill? Back in high school shop class we had to learn all the hand tools before being allowed to use the power ones.

58D. Bach's instrument: ORGAN. Organs also can be steam powered, like 54D. Locomotive propeller: STEAM.

Hi all, Al here. Don't really expect to see much turnout today as everyone clusters around their families for the holiday. Thankfully, yesterday more than made up for it.

Quite the construction today, like the "buffalo gals" of square dancing (the theme goes 'round the outside). 12 theme answers plus the unifier, which vertically splits the puzzle. 12 "regular" answers were longer than all the theme answers. It didn't seem all that difficult for a Thursday, but the fun construction more than made up for it. I only remember one other puzzle theme pattern done similar to this, but can't seem to find it.


14. Victor's claim: I WIN. Nobody likes "that" kind of winner.

15. China's Zhou __: EN LAI.

16. "Bug off!": SHOO. From an instinctive exclamation, German: schu, Italian: scioia.

17. Tiny colonists: ANTS. And 23D. Queen's offspring: BEES. Bees and ants in the same puzzle. Either answer could fit both clues.

18. "Camelot" composer: LOEWE, Frederick and Lerner, Jay.

19. "Camelot," e.g.: SHOW.

20. The Wallendas don't use one: NET. The Flying Wallendas, circus trapeze and high wire artists.

21. Prog. discontinued at some campuses during the Vietnam War: ROTC. Reserve Officers' Training Corps

22. Insensitive: OBTUSE. Latin obtusus, blunted, dull. ob "against" + tundere "to beat".

26. Adjust, as wheels: TRUE. An alignment allows tires to run true.

28. Sailor's pronoun: HER. Traditionally, ships are feminine rather than neuter. A whole load of political correctness on the subject.

29. Designer Gernreich: RUDI. Designer of the topless swimsuit. ;-)

30. Church observances: RITES.

32. Watch pockets: FOBS. Low German fobke "pocket"

34. "Hulk" star Bana: ERIC. Also played Nero, the antagonist Romulan in the recent Star Trek reboot movie.

36. Three-time U.S. Women's Open champ Berning: SUSIE. Unknown to me.

40. Lie alongside: ABUT.

41. Ali G portrayer __ Baron Cohen: SACHA. I don't understand why some movies ever get made.

43. Depend: RELY.

44. Bruce who played Dr. Watson: NIGEL. He's too famous to make me fall for the first name as last name trick.

46. Bakery curlicue maker: ICER.

47. Perry's creator: ERLE. Stanley Gardner, Perry Mason.

48. Martini's partner: ROSSI. Primarily known for the Martini brand of vermouth

50. Unlike Miss Manners: RUDE.

52. Baseball SS's stats: DPS. Short Stops, Double Plays.

55. Copycat: APER.

56. Former NBAer Mourning: ALONZO. "ZO" played mostly for the Miami Heat.

59. Sanction: RATIFY.

61. Red amount?: CENT. The original 1793 penny.

63. Like BMWs: Abbr.: GER. Bavarian Motor Works, headquartered in Munich, Germany.

64. March time: IDES. The 15th. Any musicians out there momentarily want to put FOUR in there, like 4/4 time for a march?

65. Connie of "Weekends With Maury and Connie": CHUNG. Married to Maury Povich.

67. Cold water hazard: BERG.

68. Party with ukes: LUAU.

69. Take for __: fool: A RIDE.

70. Agora portico: STOA. Greek columned corridor.


2. Finished paying off: OWNED.

3. Scofflaw of a sort: LITTERBUG. From scoff + law. The winning entry in a national contest during Prohibition to coin a word to characterize a person who drinks illegally, chosen from more than 25,000 entries.

4. Dinner duo?: ENS. Two letter "N"s in dinner.

5. Serious crimes: FELONIES.

6. Trying to settle a score, for short?: IN OT. Overtime, playing past the regulation time limit to break a tie game.

8. __ of averages: LAW.

9. Fade to nothing: DIE OUT.

10. Sound made with a cupped hand: PSST. Made along with, behind your hand.

11. Compliant sound: UH-HUH. Slangy yes.

12. Bullwinkle J. __: MOOSE. And Rocket (Rocky) J. Squirrel. The "J" in both names was for Jay Ward, the producer.

21. Fishing tool: ROD.

25. Sporty '70s Plymouth: DUSTER. A past friend of mine bought one with a 340 engine that was fully tricked out. That car used to scare the s*** out of me.

27. Nouveau __: RICHE. French for new rich. In these times, many unfortunate working stiffs are noveau pauvre.

31. "And how!": SURE DO. Idioms for "yes, I like it, or would like to, very much".

33. __-Wan Kenobi: OBI. Star Wars Jedi master, played by Ewan McGregor and Sir Alec Guinness

35. Bring up: RAISE. Rear, see to.

37. Tanzania wildlife reserve: SERENGETI. 12,000 sq. miles, only about the size of Maryland, a tiny fraction of Tanzania (362,340 sq. mi.), which in turn is dwarfed by the total size of Africa, which is over 11 billion sq. miles. You could fit the entire US, including Alaska, plus Europe and China into Africa.

38. Bad: ILL. Ill originally meant morally evil or malevolent in the 13th century. It later became associated with sickness in the sense of "it is bad to me" by the mid 15th century. It still retains the "bad" meaning in hyphenated words like ill-informed, or ill-willed.

42. Orchestrator, perhaps: ARRANGER. Rossini was the Lone Arranger of the William Tell Overture.

45. Rye buy: LOAF.

49. Cloak-and-dagger gadget: SPYCAM.

51. Nth: Abbr.: ULT. The nth degree is the utmost or ULTimate extreme.

53. "The Taming of the Shrew" setting: PADUA. Italy.

57. Cause of some floating, briefly: ZERO-G.ravity Weightlessness as in space, or free-fall.

60. "Your time __!": IS UP.

62. German fantasy author Michael: ENDE. Most famous, The Neverending Story, which was made into a movie.

66. Charlemagne's realm: Abbr.: HRE. Holy Roman Empire.

67. Undergrad degs.: BSS. Bachelors of Science.

Don sent along some constructor notes to C.C.:

"Earlier this year we needed to have some electrical work done. The electrician searched literally high and low for the offending circuit problem. Three hours later and about that many hundred dollars, the offensive connection was found. I figured I should get something out of that experience, and came up with this puzzle. ELECTRIC CIRCUIT fits nicely in the center, I reasoned, but the theme words that follow ELECTRIC had to be carefully arranged to meet at the corners and cross ELECTRIC CIRCUIT. I got lucky. Rich approved the idea, and at least I partially compensated my electric service call."

Answer grid.

Here are a few great photos & captions from ARI Tinbeni. Click each one for enlargement. The first four were taken 5 years ago, the last one was taken yesterday morning.


Nov 24, 2010

Wednesday November 24, 2010 Gareth Bain

Theme: Go directly to JAIL - The last word in each theme answer is a slang word for JAIL.

17A. Song involving body parts : HOKEY POKEY. That's what it's all about.

25A. Driveshaft component : UNIVERSAL JOINT

41A. Gulped-down Mexican cocktail : TEQUILA SLAMMER

55A. Marker : FELT TIP PEN

48A. Synonym for the ends of 17-, 25-, 41- and 55-Across : JAIL

Melissa bee here.

We've seen this theme before, but it's always fun. Other possibilities: clink, can, cooler. Without googling, what is a prisoner's favorite punctuation mark?

Felt more like a Monday/Tuesday level to me, breezed right through it. Like i had one of these.


1. Lots of plots : ACRES

10. Memo abbr. : ATTN. Attention.

14. Lewis's partner : CLARK

15. "Mona __ Smile": 2003 film : LISA. Starring Julia Roberts.

16. Actress Perlman : RHEA. Wife of Danny Devito, best known as Carla Tortelli on Cheers.

19. One of two on some wedding cakes : TIER

20. View : EYE

21. English Channel port : DOVER. Claims to be the worlds busiest passenger port. Surrounded by chalk cliffs known as The White Cliffs of Dover. Inspired both a song and a movie.

22. Particular : FUSSY

23. Staff addition : HIRE. Employee.

24. Business : FIRM

31. McQueen or Martin : STEVE

32. "The Bridge on the River __": 1957 Best Picture : KWAI

33. "Rather not!" : NAH.

34. Quote : CITE. Verb.

35. __ light: moviemaker's tool : KLIEG. Intense lamp used in film making, named after inventor John H. Kliegl and his brother Anton Tiberius Kliegl.

37. Hardy's "obscure" stonemason : JUDE. The last of Thomas Hardy's novels, tells the story of Jude Frawley, who longs to be a scholar. Inspired a tv mini-series in 1971, and a film in 1996 starring Kate Winslet.

38. Husband of Fatima : ALI. Fatima (or Fatimah) was the fourth of the Islamic prophet Muhammad's daughters. Ali was Muhammad's cousin.

39. Mottled : PIED. Having sections or patches colored differently and usually brightly.

40. "Gymnopédies" composer : SATIE. The Gymnopédies, published in Paris starting in 1888, are three piano compositions written by French composer and pianist Erik Satie. Very familiar.

45. "For __ us a child is born" : UNTO. Lyrics from Handel's Messiah.

46. Spoonbill's kin : IBIS. Scarlet Ibis.

47. Leave the cockpit suddenly : EJECT

49. Fawlty Towers, for one : HOTEL. British sitcom, i've never seen it.

51. Tabloid craft, briefly : UFO. Unidentified Flying Object.

54. Sports page info, e.g. : DATA. Specific clue for a non-specific answer.

57. Quibbles : NITS

58. Like some hygiene : ORAL. Yesterday it was clued as 'Word-of-mouth.'

59. Lasso feature : NOOSE

60. Sheltered, on a ship : ALEE

61. Hereditary unit : GENE

62. Ladies' men : GENTS


1. Dull pain : ACHE. Mainiac, still aching?

2. Be overly sweet : CLOY

3. Golfer's need, at times : RAKE. To rake the sand traps. And 12. Pro shop bagful : TEES

4. Poetic preposition : ERE

5. Execute a high jump? : SKY DIVE

6. "Lethal Weapon" co-star : GLOVER. Danny Glover. Also could have been Gibson.

7. Valley girl word : LIKE

8. Microsoft customer : USER

9. Kentucky Derby time : MAY

10. Maestro Toscanini : ARTURO. Finally have this one memorized.

11. "Now!" : THIS MINUTE

13. __ a soul : NARY. No one.

18. Small opening : PORE

22. Island country since 1970 : FIJI

23. Swarm's home : HIVE. Bees.

24. Standard : FLAG. Standard = any distinctive flag.

25. Functional : UTILE.

26. Avoiding off-topic posting, say : NETIQUETTE. Portmanteau of "network etiquette" or "Internet etiquette."

27. Path to ruin, with "the" : SKIDS

28. Dazzle : AWE

29. Low point : NADIR. Not sure i've heard this word before, the definition is simply the lowest point. Or, in Astronomy, the point of the celestial sphere that is directly opposite the zenith and vertically downward from the observer.

30. You, in a classic E.B. Browning poem : THEE

31. Sing like Satchmo : SCAT. Satchmo was Louis Armstrong's nickname. And 37. Jazz sessions : JAMS

35. Metric weight, for short : KILO. Kilogram.

36. Grazing field : LEA

39. Aniston's ex : PITT. Jennifer and Brad.

40. Like the Cheshire Cat : SMILING. From Alice in Wonderland.

42. Remove from its box : UNCASE

43. Chicken __ : LITTLE. The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

44. Help to perpetrate : ABET

47. "Show Boat" author Ferber : EDNA

49. __ and now : HERE

50. "The Good Earth" heroine : OLAN. Pulitzer prize winning novel by Pearl S. Buck.

51. Shortly following : UPON

52. Suffix with slug : FEST. Slugfest. Not my favorite -fest.

53. Breakfast tip components, usually : ONES. I suppose it depends on where you eat.

55. Brit's pea-souper : FOG. Not sure why the er is needed.

56. "Lenore" poet : POE

Answer grid.


Nov 23, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 Dan Naddor

Theme: Double-Q - All six theme words end in I + QUE, which may be pronounced EEK.

17A. Outside-the-box method: UNIQUE TECHNIQUE

37A. Exclusive group seeking old collectibles: ANTIQUE CLIQUE

59A. Indirect evaluation: OBLIQUE CRITIQUE

Argyle here. A Dan Naddor puzzle. Need I say more?


1. Entr'__ : ACTE. An intermission between sections of a show, often a short entertainment itself.

5. Tony winner Judith : IVEY. She looks like she does crosswords.

9. Stories of questionable veracity : YARNS

14. Any of five O-ending brothers : MARX. Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, Zeppo.

15. Visibly embarrassed : RED AS A BEET

19. Seated yoga position : LOTUS

20. In inventory : ON HAND

21. Plaza Hotel pixie : ELOISE. A series of children's books drawn and written by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight.

23. Ones who take things the wrong way? : THIEVES

27. Catches some rays : TANS

28. Johannesburg's land: Abbr. : RSA. Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or eGoli, is the largest city in the Republic of South Africa.

31. College e-mail address ending : .EDU

32. Water frozen in mid-drip : ICICLE

35. Missouri tributary : OSAGE

40. Cooked in 35-Down : FRIED

41. Henner who played Elaine on "Taxi" : MARILU

42. "Gross!" : "ICK!"

43. "Whirled peas" is one : PUN. We will never have world peace if you don't eat your "whirled peas".

44. Slanted type: Abbr. : ITAL.

48. Capone catchers, familiarly : THE FEDS. Al Capone's reign ended when he was found guilty of tax evasion, and sent to federal prison.

53. Opt for a career without the band : GO SOLO

55. Euro predecessor, in Portugal : ESCUDO. The escudo was subdivided into 100 centavos.

58. Hurled : THREW

63. Agreement before marriage : PRENUPTIAL

64. Wacky : NUTS

65. Small sample : TASTE

66. Fancy tie material : SILK

67. Heroic deed : GEST. We just had GEST in Sunday's puzzle.


1. Lucky charm : AMULET

2. With 35-Down, healthful cooking liquid : CANOLA and 35. See 2-Down : OIL. What is the recommended oil to deep fry a turkey.

3. Son of Poseidon : TRITON. The Greek family of gods.

4. Especially elegant : EXQUISITE

5. Hot temper : IRE

6. White House no : VETO

7. Heaven on Earth : EDEN

8. Marina craft : YACHT

9. One-named New Age keyboardist : YANNI

10. Put up with : ABIDE. Funny placement. I can't 10D 9D.

11. Mil. supply order : REQ. Requisition.

12. Nicht alt : NEU. German: Not old / NEW.

13. Sault __ Marie : STE. It is in the eastern end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, on the Canadian border, separated from its twin city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, by the St. Marys River.

16. 1979 Iranian exile : SHAH

18. Battleship letters : USS. United States Ship

22. "ER" actor La Salle : ERIQ. Portrays Dr. Peter Benton.

24. Calf meat, in Calais : VEAU. I put in VEAL and waited for the perps to fix it.

25. Brink : EDGE

26. Go after in court : SUE

29. Lowlife : SCUM

30. __ of faith : A LEAP

33. Spain's El __ : CID. Chief general, of Alfonso VI, and his most valuable asset in the fight against the Moors.(c. 1043 – 1099).

34. Light brown color : ECRU

36. Making a walking-in-mud sound : SQUISHING

37. St. Louis landmark : ARCH

38. "Just do it" sloganeer : NIKE

39. Suffix with weak : LING

40. Emotional outburst : FIT

45. Rotation-causing force : TORQUE. Just as important as horsepower in engine ratings.

46. Native Alaskans : ALEUTS

47. Most shameful : LOWEST

49. Boxer's maneuver : FEINT. Fakeout.

50. Roman ending : ESQUE. Often regarding a nose.

51. 60-Down spec : D-CUP and 60. Victoria's Secret staple : BRA. No Image Available.

52. Sheep fats : SUETS

54. Polo Grounds legend Mel : OTT

56. Twice CCCI : DCII. 301 x 2 = 602

57. Word-of-mouth : ORAL

59. Choose : OPT

61. "__ Misérables" : LES

62. Class : ILK

Now I'll continue looking for a suitable image for 51D/60D.

Answer grid.