Showing posts with label Alex Boisvert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alex Boisvert. Show all posts

Sep 27, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012 Alex Boisvert

Theme: "You've got a lot of balls!"

If you are like me, you probably glance at the down clues as you solve on Thursday-Saturday, just to get a toe-hold. So I bumped into the unifier early on. (Didn’t help!)

Here it is:
7D. Diamond gambit, or a hint to a different concealed word found in each answer to a starred clue: HIDDEN BALL TRICK. When I saw “diamond”, my heart sank.  “A baseball theme?  I’m doomed!!” It took me all the perps to come up with the answer.  But from there, I could go back and find all the balls hidden in the starred entries. I have highlighted them in red for your convenience.

17A. *America's most popular dining-out occasion: MOTHER'S DAY. I remember the smell in my mémé’s closets!

28A. *Place setting item: DINNER FORK. The only “ball” that spans two words. “Nerf” is actually an acronym for “Non-Expanding Recreational Foam”. Who knew?

33A.*Last chance in court: CLOSING ARGUMENT.  A Wal-Mart staple.

42A. *Where some plates are made: STEEL MILLS . Foul!  TEE ball is a kid’s baseball game…

58A. *Political propagandist: SPIN DOCTOR . You knew I would have to link music at some point!! 2:55

Marti here, because it's Thursday. So, let's get to the rest. 


1. Map site : ATLAS

6. Senate figure : WHIP

10. Brash : BOLD

14. Winner of the 2005 Best Picture Oscar : CRASH. Not my taste. Trailer. 2:25

15. Verdi title princess : AIDA. More my taste. (I won't torture you with more opera links this time!)

16. Rapier cousin : EPEE

19. Flavorful plant : HERB. I grow my own dill, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, chives, basil and tarragon. In the fall when I bring them in to dry, the aromas are heavenly!

20. Spot : EYE. "I spy with my little eye..."

21. Shows the way : LEADS

22. Heaven-sent food : MANNA

23. Academy freshman : PLEBE

24. Give way : FALTER. Because "blink" was too short.

25. Chess announcement : MATE. I like to say "check mate", better.

30. One way to sing : ALONG. Fun clue! I almost started filling "in tune" before I ran out of room...

32. Smack on the head : BONK. Anyone else have "conk"? (Anyone?)...(Anyone??) (With thanks to TTP!!)

40. Semitic deity : BA'AL. Meaning "Master" or "Lord".

41. Frigid : POLAR

48. Vodka in a blue bottle : SKYY. Gimme!! Shaken over ice, with a squeeze of lime.

49. Rug often groomed : TOUPEE. Funny!

50. Honor, in a way : TOAST. With SKYY, of course!

52. "...but I could be wrong" : OR NOT...maybe with Scotch?

53. Wear slowly : ERODE

54. ___-mo video : SLO

57. Old stage line? : REIN. This one had me going in circles, until I realized they were talking about the reins of a horse on an old stage coach!

60. Department store founder Rowland Hussey ___ : MACY. Appropriate clue for a Thursday.  "'Miracle On 34th Street' store owner " would have been too easy...

61. Asian staple : RICE. Anyone else want "sake"? (Anyone?)...(Anyone??)

62. Standard : USUAL

63. Arise : STEM

64. Gross : ICKY

65. Swing era dance : LINDY


1. Fictional corporation that sells earthquake pills and portable holes : ACME. In old Looney Tunes Road Runner cartoons. Yes, earthquake pills. 5:49 (Go ahead, watch the whole thing- we could all use some cartoons in our lives!!) And 46D. ___ Tunes : LOONEY

2. Hector's home : TROY

3. Behind schedule : LATE...which is what I am getting to be. So I'd better move this along!

4. Flooring wood : ASH. Anyone else want "oak"? (Anyone?)...(Anyone??)

5. Yellow-and-red gas station symbol : SHELL.

6. Sushi condiment : WASABI. Great for the sinuses...

8. Lupino and others : IDAS. Go ahead, name another famous one...

9. Salary : PAY

10. Sake : BEHALF. I wanted "Asian staple" for the answer...

11. Not against trying : OPEN TO.

12. Loewe's partner : LERNER. Of "My Fair Lady", "Camelot", "Brigadoon"and "Paint your Wagon" fame.

13. Get off at the pier : DEBARK

18. Clarinetist's need : REED

22. Retail price component : MARKUP

23. Writers : PENS. I dunno..."pens" with "writers"?

24. ___ shui : FENG

25. Scot's nickname, maybe : MAC

26. Tide rival : ALL. Detergents.

27. As well : TOO

29. "___ any drop to drink": Coleridge : NOR. From "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner":

"Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink."

31. Kind of gravy : GIBLET. Thanksgiving is fast approaching!

34. Tag information : NAME

35. Moo goo ___ pan : GAI. Yumm.

36. Lion's share : MOST

37. Caribou cousin : ELK

38. Disagreeing word : NAY

39. Give it a go : TRY

42. Leaves in a huff, with "out" : STORMS

43. Attacked eagerly, as a wrapped gift : TORE AT. Or, as your wife's clothes?

44. Kennedy who married Sargent Shriver : EUNICE. Being from MA, this was a gimme.

45. Euclid vis-à-vis geometry : EPONYM

47. Road safety gp. : SADD. Students Against Drunk Driving.

51. Han River capital : SEOUL

53. Large in scope : EPIC

54. Floor : STUN

55. Truck filler? : LOAD

56. Airport south of Paris : ORLY

58. ___ Lanka : SRI. Map. Just below India.

59. TV franchise since 2000 : CSI. Crime Scene Investigation. One of the most popular dramatic series on TV. Me? I prefer TBBT, with a season premiere tonight!

Answer grid.

See you next week!


Aug 16, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 Alex Boisvert

Theme: Modified - The end word, with an added letter or two and a long E sound in different spelling, is placed in front of itself as a modifier AND the modifier has a different etymology. There are three in the rows and two in the columns.

17A. Meat used in place of a puck? : HOCKEY HOCK. HOCKEY, the game, from the "hook" like nature of the sticks. HOCK, Old English hohsinu (literally, heel). Not much meat there. Image.

39A. Surcharge for a cab ride? : TAXI TAX. TAXI, 1907, shortening of taximeter cab (introduced in London in March 1907), from taximeter "automatic meter to record the distance and fare". TAX, from L. taxare "evaluate, estimate, assess, handle".

61A. Davy Jones at an abbey? : MONKEE MONK. Davy Jones was with the musical group, The Monkees. MONK ; Greek monachós hermit.

11D. Intimidator on the bovine playground? : BULLY BULL. BULLY originally had a positive sense of the word, "sweetheart", uncertain origin (cf. Ger. buhle "lover"). BULL came from O.E. bula "a bull, a steer".

35D. Short-term Arizona State employee? : TEMPE TEMP. The original campus was in TEMPE, The sports teams are the Arizona State Sun Devils. TEMP is short for temporary, a worker hired for a short period of time.

Argyle here. At first glance, I thought 'meh' but as I had to parse it, I discovered it was much more complex than I thought. Finding a modifier that is based on a different word but still uses the same letters? Well.... Still a good share of names but a bit more common. Some good stuff you might care to comment on.


1. Big Harley, in slang : HAWG

5. "Marching Along" autobiographer : SOUSA. The March King.

10. "Mamma Mia!" group : ABBA

14. Soap Box Derby state : OHIO

15. Hearth debris : ASHES

16. Off-peak period : LULL

19. Untidy type : SLOB

20. John Williams quintet? : OSCARS. A prolific composer. Link to his nominations and wins.

21. Fridge sound : HUM. "Hummm" as I stand with the door open deciding what I want to eat.

22. '70s Olympics name : OLGA. Korbut.

23. Fab Four member : STARR. Ringo.

24. Prepare beans, Mexican-style : REFRY

26. Scary fly : TSE-TSE

30. Place for care instructions : LABEL

33. Mouse catchers : CATS

36. Expected : DUE

37. Professor's goal : TENURE

38. Corrida cry : ¡OLÉ!

41. English __ : LITerature

42. Drum heard in Westerns : TOM-TOM

44. Actress Basinger : KIM. Image.

45. Bar brews : ALES

46. Mar. parade celeb : ST. PAT

47. Presario PC brand : COMPAQ. Can you believe I messed this one up and I'm sitting in front of a COMPAQ!

49. Significant period : EPOCH

51. Comfortably rewarding : CUSHY

55. Dinner and a movie, say : DATE

57. D-backs, on scoreboards : ARI. More Arizona.

59. Gillette razor named for its blade count : TRAC II

60. One with a password : USER

63. Gimlet garnish : LIME. "gin, a spot of lime, and soda"

64. Game show host : EMCEE

65. Throw in a chip : ANTE

66. SoCal force : LA PD

67. Country singer Rimes : LEANN

68. Tabloid loch : NESS. Monster or misunderstood?


1. Hostess snack cakes : HO HOs. Ho, Ho, Ho! One for the ladies. Image.

2. "__ of golden daffodils": Wordsworth : A HOST. "Daffodils" (1804). I wander'd lonely as a cloud. That floats on high o'er vales and hills,. When all at once I saw a crowd,. A host, of golden daffodils; ...

3. Neopagan religion : WICCA

4. Some Soap Box Derby entrants : GO-KARTS

5. Articulates : SAYS

6. __Kosh B'Gosh : OSH. The children's apparel company founded in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1895.

7. "Rats!" : "UH OH!"

8. Out of harm's way : SECURE

9. Invitation on a rep's button : ASK ME

10. Losing candidate : ALSO RAN

12. Online journal : BLOG

13. Jessica of "Sin City" : ALBA. Another for the boys. Image.

18. Slips up : ERRS

25. Show off one's muscles : FLEX. And another for the girls. Image. Are you keeping score?

27. Dutch cheese : EDAM

28. Prom duds : TUX

29. Bulova competitor : SEIKO

31. 14-Across's Great Lake : ERIE

32. Tennis net grazers : LETS

33. Summer cabin beds : COTS

34. Boatloads : A LOT

37. Pack (down) : TAMP

39. Four-legged Oz visitor : TOTO

40. Comical Conway : TIM

43. Like a pencil point : TAPERED

45. Sea-dwelling superhero : AQUAMAN. Sending out a message.

47. Car trim : CHROME

48. Farmland division : ACRE

50. Skating maneuver : CAMEL. Camel spin.(0:18)

52. Teatime snack : SCONE. No dunking today.

53. Help for the clueless : HINTS

54. "Omigosh!" : "YIKES!"

55. Boring : DULL

56. Where most people live : ASIA

58. Bygone Peruvian : INCA

59. Not-so-little kid : TEEN

62. Barbie's guy : KEN


Note from C.C.:

A belated "Happy Birthday" to dear Chickie.

Apr 1, 2010

Interview with Alex Boisvert

Today's edgy quote is our second Alex Boisvert puzzle since the TMS switch last year. His last OOK puzzle is also quite unique. It contains no three-letter word at all.

Besides LA Times, Alex's puzzles have also appeared in the NY Times, NY Sun, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Games magazine.

Today's puzzle is a rather creative approach to a normally boring quote puzzle. How does the "edge" idea come to you?

Thanks! I actually got the idea from Brendan Quigley's Ten Bulls**t Themes post where he talked about the "stepquote." I had never heard of it (if you haven't either, here's an example, but it gave me the idea to run a quote around the outside of a puzzle. Once I found an appropriate quote, I was pretty much set, except that it turns out running a theme around the outside of the puzzle makes it really hard to fill! It took me forever to get something decent. Hope it was worth it. (Incidentally, I don't find quote puzzles boring, but I know a lot of people do)

We seldom see a non-symmetrical grid and quote entries broken into mostly non-recognizable letter strings. What kind of feedback did you expect from average solvers?

(Actually, the puzzle has left-right symmetry, but that's still unusual) I expect a lot of people to hate this puzzle! Still, I hold out hope that some people will love it too. It does strike me as a puzzle that might be polarizing - most puzzles that are out of the ordinary in some way are. Seems just about right for an April Fool's puzzle.

How would you describe your style? I was impressed that there's no 3-word entry in your last LAT.

I'm not sure I have a style, although I guess most of my puzzles fall into one of two categories: easy Monday-Tuesday puzzles, and puzzles that have some sort of unique twist. I've made a couple of pun puzzles but I don't like them - "Puns are the lowest form of communication," I always say - so most of the entries in my puzzles are real phrases. I especially like making crosswords where a defining theme entry crosses several others, but those aren't easy to make! As far as the LAT puzzle you're referring to - I wanted to see if I could write a Monday puzzle with no three-letter entries. So I did it, but most people didn't even notice, so I won't be doing it

What's your background? And how did you develop an interest in crossword constructing?

Like many constructors, my background is in math. I got my undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Maine and my Ph.D. at UCLA. Now I help design software for hyperspectral cameras. While I was in grad school a friend showed me a crossword he was making for his girlfriend. That's when I thought to myself "Hey, I can do that too!" So I tried making a few and eventually I got it right, with a lot of help and patience from editors.

Tell us a bit about your website and the tools you've developed for crossword constructors/solvers.

On I have a bunch of apps I wrote for myself, but that I thought might be useful for others. The website started off pretty small but I kept finding more ideas for software that I wanted to make and so it kept growing. Right now the most popular app I have is CrosswordButler, which allows people to download bunches of puzzles every day. I also have the Kaidoku blog where Matt Gaffney and I each contribute one puzzle a week. Kaidoku is a crossword variant that I'm starting to like better than typical crosswords, because it requires logical thinking as well.

What's the best puzzle you've made and why?

Boy, that's hard. The puzzle most people seem to remember is this one from September 19, 2008 PDF, Solution. This one from a year previous PDF, second page, Solution garnered a lot of positive feedback too. I'd also point to this puzzle which is unpublishable for obvious reasons but which I think came out rather well (warning: colorful language involved)

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

I don't solve that many crosswords any more these days. I did when I used to ride the bus to work but these days I bike. I solve the A.V. club crossword whenever Byron Walden constructs it, and I try to do Matt Gaffney's contest puzzle and Peter Gordon's Fireball crossword every week, but mostly I've been solving Kaidoku. As far as my favorite constructors, there are probably too many to mention, but in addition to Byron, Matt and Peter I would say (off the top of my head) Lynn Lempel for early-week puzzles, Pete Muller and Patrick Blindauer for crazy rule-bending puzzles, and Doug Peterson and Karen Tracey for themelesses. Also anyone who's ever been mentioned when you've asked that question before.

Besides crossword, what else do you do for fun?

Well, I have two young children so I don't have that much free time these days. I love hiking and camping. I enjoy trivia and I go to a weekly pub quiz when I get a little free time. I like to cook and I love to eat good food. And sleep ... but I haven't done much of that recently.

Thursday April 1, 2010 Alex Boisvert

Theme: Location, Location, Location - The "Living on the Edge" mantra is placed around the edges of the grid, clockwise.

1A. Start of a thrill-seeker's mantra: IF YOU AR(E)

8A. More of the mantra: (AR)E NOT LIV(ING)

14D. More of the mantra: (LI)VING ON T(HE)

45D. More of the mantra: (T)HE EDGE Y(OU)

67A. More of the mantra: YOU A(RE) - My answers here are in clockwise sequence, same with the remaining theme answers.

66A. More of the mantra: (A)RE TAK(ING)

65A. More of the mantra: (TAK)ING U(P)

38D. More of the mantra: UP TOO MU(CH)

1D. More of the mantra: (MU)CH ROOM I(F). Letter I overlaps with the starting I in "IF YOU AR(E) and closes the quote.

"If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room", from Jayne Howard, a name I am not familiar with.

Very inventive rendition of an otherwise ordinary quote/quip puzzle. Edgy indeed. When did you glom onto the theme? It took me quite some time to figure out the gimmick due to to its unusual circular theme answer placements and some non-recognizable letter string breaks.

I also did not notice the left to right symmetry until I read Alex's Interview.


15. Conductor's nickname: MAESTRO. And ALLEGRO (44D. Fast, to a 15-Across). Italian for "cheerful".

16. European car company with a prancing horse logo: FERRARI. Fiat. Sometimes we see its founder ENZO Ferrari in a puzzle.

17. Government heave-hos: OUSTERS

18. "Million Dollar Baby" Oscar winner: FREEMAN (Morgan). Loved the movie. With Hilary Swank.

19. Shoppe sign adjective: OLDE

20. Set one's sights on, with "at": AIMED. The tense of "Set" can be tricky, not today though.

22. Big ape: KONG. King Kong.

23. Artery: Abbr.: RTE. Was thinking of blood vessel artery, not road.

24. Poet who won the 1923 Nobel Prize for Literature: YEATS. Irish. I tend to confuse him with Keats, who's English.

25. Juan's uncle: TIO

26. Piles: HEAPS

32. Percentage on a bank sign: CD RATE. Can't fit in INTEREST.

34. 2007-'08 NBA Rookie of the Year Kevin: DURANT. With the Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly Seattle SuperSonics). Total stranger to me. I can only think of Kevin Garnett.

35. Trig, e.g.: MATH

37. Letter opening: SIRS. Oh, DEAR.

38. Sounds of hesitation: UHS

42. Rotate, as a camera: PAN

43. Casual "I'll pass": NAH

46. Floor exercise surface: MAT. Any Pilates/Yoga fans?

48. "Star Wars" saga nickname: ANI. Darth Vader's boyhood nickname. Mystery name to me.

49. Corrida shout: OLE

50. At the ready: ON ALERT

52. Tablet alternative: CAPSULE

54. Dungeons & Dragons creatures: OGRES

55. Farmyard female: EWE. And 64. Farmyard female: MARE. Alliteration.

57. Kept: SAVED. Didn't Tiger expect his text messages to be saved?

58. Bandleader Puente: TITO

59. Step: TREAD

61. __ Mason: asset management giant: LEGG. Our local paper just profiled one of their star investors a few weeks ago. Alex also gave us TITAN (30A. Giant). Giant echo.

62. Nabokov's title professor: PNIN. Here is the book cover. Is P silent?

63. Scorch slightly: SINGE. Alliteration again.


2. Blamed: FAULTED

3. "Whatever you say, honey": YES DEAR. Sweet clue and answer.

4. Bone: Pref.: OSTE. As in Osteoarthritis.

5. Mountain West Conference athlete: UTE. Utah Utes. Sports team of the University of Utah.

6. Deck out: ARRAY

7. More optimistic: ROSIER

8. Decadent: EFFETE. Like the ELOI in "The Time Machine".

9. Unlikely class presidents: NERDS

10. Mine find: ORE. Assonance in the clue.

11. Hike: TREK

12. "Raging Bull" boxer: LAMOTTA. What's your favorite De Niro movie? My husbands loves "Casino".

13. Shiraz resident: IRANIAN. Shiraz is a city in southwest Iran. I forget what it's famous for.

21. Might: MAY. Would've preferred the season May clue. We are having beautiful spring weather here in MN.

27. Kitchen spray: PAM

28. Hoards: STASHES

30. Root vegetables: TURNIPS. Not my type. I do like thinly sliced daikon though. You?

31. Collection agcy.?: IRS. Nailed it.

33. Bygone anesthetic: ETHER

34. Roman goddess of the hunt: DIANA. The Greek counterpart is Artemis.

36. Mass reaction, perhaps: HYSTERIA. Good clue.

37. Era that began in 1957: SPACE AGE. Started with the Sputnik.

39. Like some drying clothes: HANGING

40. Commence: START IN

43. __ riche: NOUVEAU. Literally "new". Same root as novelty, isn't it?

51. Téa of "Ghost Town": LEONI. Know her. Not the movie.

53. Actress Hayek: SALMA. Here she is.

56. Left: WENT

59. Sound of disapproval: TSK. What's the difference between TSK and TUT?

60. German article: DER. So are DAS and DIE.

Answer grid.

Happy Wedding Anniversary, Windhover & Irish!


Aug 17, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009 Alex Boisvert

Theme: Three phrases with double OOK in them

20A: Gave additional consideration: TOOK A SECOND LOOK

36A: Falsifying accounting records: COOKING THE BOOKS

49A: In any way possible: BY HOOK OR BY CROOK

Argyle here. (Note: This puzzle has no three-letter word entry.)

If there is anything clever in the theme, I missed it. I felt the whole puzzle was flat and tedious for a Monday.

I need to thank Kazie for her tip yesterday.

You can print the whole puzzle by opening the "print" drop down-window and choose "print with my solutions". However, I think you have to leave at least one letter blank to get the clues with it.

Across Lite didn't have the puzzle available early today and I had to use the Flash version.

There is a food sub-theme: Cheese, oils, ice cream, gumbo, rice and chicken(Foghorn Leghorn).


1A: Sandler of "Funny People": ADAM.

5A: Do a pre-vacation chore: PACK.

9A: Musicians' org.: ASCAP. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

14A: Island tourist destination in Indonesia: BALI. Map

15A: 1975 Wimbledon champ Arthur: ASHE.

16A: Words of compassion: I CARE.

17A: Like flights from the USA to Eur., e.g.: INTL. INTernationaL

18A: "Birthday suit": SKIN.

19A: Vacation time, for short: R AND R. Rest and recreation

24A: Bosses (around): ORDERS.

25A: Corsage flower: ORCHID. The shy boys would give a wrist corsage.

28A: __ Jones's locker: DAVY. The bottom of the sea.

30A: Detox locale: REHAB. Both Detox and REHAB are words formed by shortening.

31A: '70s-'80s consumer electronics giant: AIWA. Purchased by Sony Corporation.

32A: Sharp cheese: BLEU.

39A: "Even __ speak ...": AS WE.

40A: Anise-flavored liqueur: OUZO. Widely consumed in Greece and Cyprus. Its taste is quite similar to pastis (France), Sambuca (Italy), mastika (Chios), raki (Turkey), and arak (Lebanon).

42A: Days at an inn: STAY.

44A: "Bless you!" elicitor: AH-CHOO. Updated to add the hyphen

48A: Agent 007: BOND. For C.C.

56A: __ stick: bouncing toy: POGO.

57A: Dust Bowl migrant: OKIE. And if they stayed and played sports, 42D: Oklahoma athlete: SOONER.

59A: Letter-shaped fastener: T NUT. Various styles.

60A: Paris-__ Airport: ORLY.

62A: Trig ratio: SINE.


1D: Slightly: A BIT.

2D: "Book'em, __!": "Hawaii Five-O" catchphrase: DAN-O. Dec. Danny Williams was played by James MacArthur.

7D: In fashion: CHIC.

8D: Popular bar game: KENO.

9D: Hang on a clothesline: AIR DRY.

10D: Burn badly: SCALD.

12D: Intense passion: ARDOR.

13D: Company car, expense account, etc.: PERKS.

22D: Exploding stars: NOVAE. Singular: NOVA

26D: Vintage cars: REOS. I wonder if there were any other old cars with only three letters.

27D: Chuck wagon fare: CHOW. GRUB is four letters, also.

28D: Scatterbrained: DITZY.

29D: Dr. Seuss's "Horton Hears __": A WHO.

31D: Water in Juarez: AGUA. Spanish.

32D: Conference table site: BOARDROOM.

34D: Heart tests: Abbr.: EKGS.

37D: Prohibited: NOT OK.

38D: Mel who voiced Foghorn Leghorn: BLANC. He was the voice SO many others....

43D: Toon Wile E., e.g.: COYOTE. Suppose he was a cousin to 45D: "Laughing" critter: HYENA.

44D: Bottomless depth: ABYSS.

46D: IHOP or Borders: CHAIN.

47D: Nomadic tribe: HORDE.

48D: Shooter with small shot: BB GUN. Now if I wanted to be 58A: Slyly derogatory: SNIDE, I would say it was ANON.

50D: Elects: OPTS.

51D: Rice-A-__: RONI. The San Francisco Treat.

53D: Cook's array: OILS. Question of the Day: How many different oils do you have in your kitchen? (I just have Penzoil.)

54D: Florida islets: KEYS.

Answer grid.

Picture of the Day: Here is a lovely photo of our fellow solver Kazie and her family at her older son's wedding in Saxony last August .

She said: "Left to right: Our younger son, my husband, the happy couple, my husband's brother and sister, her husband and me. In the background you can see some of the Augustusburg Castle where it all took place."