Showing posts with label Daniel A. Finan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daniel A. Finan. Show all posts

Sep 23, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011, Daniel A. Finan

Theme: NO CAPITAL? - Capital idea. If you read the wonderful INTERVIEW of Mr. Finan from a couple of years ago, you will know he loves to hide his themes, so even when the puzzle is complete, the solver has work to do, and this puzzle is no exception. I blogged two of his puzzles last year, the wonderful ANAGRAM/PANGRAM, and the CLUELESS clues. Al blogged his hidden clues this year. And, in the words of Monty Python, now for something completely different- Each of the three theme answers incorporates its numerical placement in the puzzle as part of the clue. This is exposed (obscure, but gettable) because only these three clues do not begin with a capital letter. There are also some tricky and difficult clues. I love this effort.

20. (Twenty) questions: FUN GUESSING GAME. so simple once you see it, but it did not jump out at me; I was about to call Argyle.

36. (Thirty-six) hours: ONE AND A HALF DAYS. Twenty-four plus twelve = thirty-six

49. (Forty-nine) ers: FOOTBALL PLAYERS, from San Fransisco, with new coach Jim Harbaugh. This is the one that revealed the theme, as Daniel certainly was not going to help.


1. Dollar bill weight, roughly: GRAM. A great start for the Gram man who gave us Anagram /Pangram; I think this is a shout out to himself, as he has used Daniel in his puzzles.

5. Dey job?: LA LAW. SUSAN (1:27) DEY, the cute one who hooked up with Harry Hamlin. Classy clue.

10. __ Stream: GULF

14. San __ : REMO. The Italian city on the Riviera is beautiful, but it is one word, but still...

15. Silly: INANE. Sometimes my middle name. We also have a semi-clecho, 8D. Silliness: ANTICS.

16. Adidas alternative: AVIA. They sneak this one in often.

17. From the top : ANEW. Our A word.

18. Blanche __, pseudonymous author of the 1983 best-seller "Truly Tasteless Jokes": KNOTT. Do not know the books, or the author, Ashton Applewhite.

19. "No ice, please": NEAT. Just the way the TIN MAN likes his pinch.

23. Terhune collie : LAD. This AUTHOR and dog, not to be confused with Lassie, who was always played by a Lad.

24. Annual sign of bad behavior?: COAL. Hard to put heating oil, or central heating in the Christmas stocking.

25. "Alice" singer Lavigne: AVRIL. A favorite Canadian punk rocker, there is this TUNE, (3:25) but I like Complicated better. Hey my boys are her age.

28. Orator's vocal quality : RESONANCE. A wonderful word; if you want to read about this vocal tool, I suggest Robert Harris' Imperium, about Cicero..

33. Sacramento daily: BEE. A nice shout out to our own melissa.

34. Sched. B item on a 1040: INTerest.

35. High point of an Alaskan trip: DENALI. Literally the "high one." Also known as Mt. McKinley.

40. Seven-time N.L. batting champ: MUSIAL. Stan the Man from St. Louis.

41. Storm dir.: ENE

42. They lead to an F: CDE. Well, we will not grade this clue, as Daniel was just stringing us along.

43. Six-pack abs?: BEER BELLY. Really cute visual clue, and a Beer reference.

45. Seat of Colorado's PitkinCounty: ASPEN. More pretty country. DF lives in Colorado I think. Since fall is falling today...

47. TriBeCa neighbor: SOHO. South of Houston.

48. Blueprint subject, perhaps: ELL. In architecture, an ell is a wing of a building that lies perpendicular to the length of the main portion.

57. Frankfurt's river: ODER. And we have crossing at the D, 50D. Nose wrinkler: ODOR. An extra clue. I thought of this nose wrinkler THEME.

58. Phils, e.g.: NL ERS. For Dennis' champion Phillies, National Leaguers.

59. Deception FLAM. A shout out to my fan club.

60. '70s pinup name: LONI. Anderson, ex-wife of Burt Reynolds, poor Burt is being foreclosed..

61. Beneficiary: DONEE. One of those made up legal words.

62. Its state bird is the cardinal OHIO. Then why do they play in Missouri?

63. 2-Down unit: DROP. Eye drops; I am down to six a day; 2D. Eye care brand : RENU.

64. Fixes: SPAYS. Ouch! Be careful Lad!

65. Place to cross, on signs: XING


1. Seles rival: GRAF. Andre Agassi's wife STEFFI.(5:01) Wonderful tennis.

3. Flock response : AMEN. Baa, I hope this did not fool you.

4. "The Jungle Book" boy: MOWGLI

5. Dug, so to speak : LIKED. Maynard G. Krebs anyone?

6. Heart lead singer Wilson et al: ANNS. The clue is meh, but the SINGING (4:17) is great.

7. Where kip are spent: LAOS. Now I know two obscure currencies, this and the Ethiopian BIRR.

9. Party pooper: WET NOODLE. Wonderful fill, though usually associated with 20 lashes, while Blankets ruin parties.

10. Underworld: GANGLAND. Since you did not like my Catherine Parr pic last week, how about one from Underworld? TRAILER. (1:57).

11. Where the iris is: UVEA. Oh goody, more eye-ducation. The vascular middle layer of the eye. It is traditionally divided into 3 areas, from front to back, the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. From the Latin, UVA meaning Grape, think about why.

12. Neeson who voiced Aslan in the"Narnia" movies: LIAM. Nice voice, but what other Neesons are there? My 280 Z?

13. You may have a brush with it FATE. Stubbornly wanted Destiny, which show how foolish I can be.

21. It merged with Continental in 2010: Abbr.: UAL. United Air Lines. Is there a sign pinned to my back, Acronym me?

22. Swindler, in slang: GANEF. Yiddish or low German for thief, though we usually spell it Goniff.

25. Trinity test subject: A-BOMB

26. Locale: VENUE

27. Maker of pieces?: REESE. I linked his Wikipedia history last time.

28. Genetic letters: RNA. Okay I will give you 2 guesses...

29. One of the convicted Rosenbergspies: ETHEL. We know her husband, Julius was a communist spy, but was SHE?

30. Image Awards org.: NAACP. Aw, c'mon. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

31. 1930s public enemy: CLYDE. Mr. Barrow.

32. NFL Network sportscaster Rich: EISEN.One of many ESPN refugees.

34. Devil's tools, metaphorically: IDLE HANDS. This maxim has been traced back to Chaucer's 'Tale of Melibee' (c. 1386). And, 46D. Sneaky devil: SLY FOX.

37. Touchdown site: AIRSTRIP. END ZONES looked bad, now I know why.

38. Big shot: NABOB. Are they nattering?

39. More than zero: ANY.

44. Walk bouncily: LOLLOP. Never heard of this word. I guess it is related to Lolling about, maybe British. NC?

45. Modeled after: A LA. Just a dollop of French today.

48. "It's nobody __business": ELSE'S.

49. Go out: FOLD. Card games, especially Poker.

51. Sommelier's prefix: OENO. Becoming too common.

52. Singer Horne: LENA. CLASSIC. (5:01)

53. Hunted: PREY

54. Pre-coll. catchall: EL-HI. Like the man said, for great clues, you have to use some clunkers.

55. Shower in public?: RAIN. Put aside your dirty minds, it is that time of year for showers here.

56. Urban miasma: SMOG. Miasma, a great word: a heavy vaporous emanation or atmosphere.

Wow, another season has come and gone, and now the days will be shorter than the nights, so cuddle you cuddles, and keep on solving. Thank you Daniel for a really Fine 'un.


Apr 14, 2011

Thursday, Apr 14, 2011 Daniel A. Finan

Theme? The clue is a part of the answer... The three theme answers all end with a word that indicates a fraction of a whole, and the clue word is contained as part of each of the first words.

20. Pan?: COMPANION PIECE. PAN is a PIECE of the word COMPANION. A companion piece is one work that compliments another, like the two movies: Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers, each tells the "same" story from a different perspective. 

33. With 44-Across, ten?: SENTENCE.  44. See 33-Across: FRAGMENTTEN is a FRAGMENT of the word SENTENCE.  I accidentally the whole thing.

54. Kin?: SMOKING SECTION. KIN is a SECTION of the word SMOKING. Is this subject still a hot button for an argument about rights?  The statement I remember setting off a war was something like this: Having a smoking section in a restaurant is like having a peeing section in a pool.

Hi all, Al here.  I finally saw the light... Only three theme answers. They all left me puzzled, and didn't help with solving.  No unifier clue anywhere, either. The clue words are contained in position 4-6 of all the answer words. The parts given as the clues all end with an "N", preceded in order by a vowel, in order, A,E,I.  I was pulling out the last of my hair trying to see what was right in front of me.  At first, I noticed that of the three, only smoking -kin = smog made another word, sence might make sense if you're British, and comion isn't a word, so it didn't appear to be letter drops in common. So how are the clues related to the answers? Argyle finally gave me the clue I needed from an interview that Daniel had given Sept 3, 2009:

 "To me the perfect puzzle is a simple, elegant, and subtle gimmick puzzle. I really like the crosswords that have a metapuzzle. For example, with some (themed) puzzles, I can fill in the entire grid, and I still don't "get it." So I have to really dig deep to find the theme... it's then that I get that satisfying "Aha!" moment. I wonder how many people miss the whole point of subtle puzzles like that."

I went back and re-read the whole  interview, and he had talked about PARTS of speech as the theme from another of his puzzles, and suddenly the light came on...


1. Flying group: CREW. Captain and crew on an (air) ship.

5. Comic Johnson: ARTE. Soundbite from Laugh-in: "Very interesting."

9. Hyphenated dessert name: JELL-O.

14. Half dodeca-: HEXA. Prefixes for 12 and 6, respectively.

15. Liner danger: BERG. Ocean liner, ice berg.

16. Hater of David, in Dickens: URIAH. Heep.

17. Theater giant?: IMAX. As Ed Sullivan might say, a really big shoe. 70 mm film instead of the standard 35 mm and 300 foot screens.

18. In __: confused: A FOG.

19. High humor?: JINKS.  Hijinks. From an old party game where guests threw dice to determine who would perform some silly task or down a large drink. Either outcome would cause amusement to everyone present. Kind of like truth or dare, but with drinking instead of truth.

23. Relative of -like: OID. Suffixes for similar. For example, android means human-like. (Greek "andro" means "human".)

24. Wine bar offerings: PORTS. From the Portugese city of Oporto (the port). Less-known 4-letter wines: Hocks (German Hochheim region), Tents (Spanish reds "tinta"), and Sacks (Spanish white, a precursor to Sherry).

25. Moshe Dayan's "oxygen of the soul": FREEDOM.

29. Guff: GAS. Empty noise, nonsense. Oh, you're just a bag of gas.  Guff, like a puff of air, vaguely onomatopoetic.

30. Moo chew?: CUD. Come to Wisconsin and smell our dairy air.

35. Change genetically: MUTATE.

37. Former lover of Riker on "Star Trek: T.N.G.": TROI. in "The Next Generation" of Star Trek, Marina Sirtis played Deanna Troi, an empath who was the ship's counselor. William Riker, played by Jonathan Frakes, was the first mate to Patrick Stewart's Captain Jean Luc Picard.

38. Pontiff's wear: ALB.

40. Foreshadowing: OMEN.

41. Service station vessel: OIL CAN. That takes me back.  All I have seen for a long time now are plastic bottles.

47. Org. whose members are concerned with lies: PGA. Ask not where your ball lies. And don't tell any lies about it, either.

48. Birling roller: LOG. The lumberjack contest to see who can stay upright longest on a spinning log.

50. Radius, e.g.: ARM BONE. Along with the ulna and the humerus.

51. San __: San Francisco Bay city: MATEO.

53. Airline to Copenhagen: SAS. Scandinavian Airlines System.

60. Centipede maker: ATARI. One of the early 8-bit video arcade games with a tracking ball instead of a joystick.

61. Spice: ELAN.

62. Yes-__ question: OR NO.

63. Veal piccata ingredient: LEMON. Veal sliced, sautéed, and served in a sauce containing lemon, butter, and spices, usually parsley.

64. Part of Caesar's boast: VENI. vidi vici. I came, I saw, I conquered.

65. N.L. East squad: NATS. National League Baseball, the Washington Nationals.

66. Country sound: TWANG.

67. Golden Fleece vessel: ARGO. From "The Odyssey", Jason's ship.

68. Sin in the film "Se7en": ENVY. The "deadly" sin that the killer was guilty of.


1. Very smart: CHIC. Fashionably smart.  Meaning "sharp, severe, stinging," related to  "quick, active, clever" probably from the notion of "cutting" wit, words, etc. expanded to the meaning of "trim in attire".

2. San __: REMO. On the Italian Riviera.

3. Student's stressor: EXAM.

4. Emulate Cyrano: WAX POETIC. In Edmond Rostand's highly fictionalized play, Cyrano was the source of the love poems for his romance to Roxanne through the handsome but less articulate Christian.

5. It may be reckless: ABANDON.

6. Update mtge. terms: REFI.nance a mortgage.

7. Band: TROOP.

8. Quaff garnished with nutmeg: EGG NOG. Quaff perhaps from Low German quassen "to overindulge (in food and drink)," with -ss- misread as -ff-.

9. Technique of ancient samurai: JU JITSU. The gentle, or yielding art.  The (mostly) weaponless technique of using an opponent's own momentum against them using balance and leverage, because that was more effective than trying to simply hit someone wearing armor.

10. Some native New Yorkers: ERIES.

11. Afro-sporting "Mod Squad" character: LINC. Three young people in trouble with the law are allowed to avoid jail in exchange for infiltrating the counter-culture and exposing bad guys.

12. Vacation location: LAKE.

13. Cries of understanding: OHS.

21. Hill worker: AIDE. Capitol Hill, not an ant hill.

22. Buggy relative: PRAM. A baby buggy.

25. Depth-of-field setting: F-STOP. Camera terms.

26. Outfit again: RE-RIG.

27. __ Gay: ENOLA. The B29 that dropped "little boy" on Hiroshima, named for the pilot's mother, Enola Gay (Tibbits).  Pilot: Paul Tibbits.

28. George Strait label: MCA. Music Corporation of America.

30. Actor's day job?: CAMEO. Because waiter was too long.

31. SEC school that retired Peyton Manning's number: U TENN. South Eastern Conference, University of Tennessee.

32. Pasta al __: DENTE. "to the tooth", just a little chewy.

34. Santa's 21-Down: ELF.

36. O.K. Corral town: TOMBSTONE.

39. It's usually uplifting: BRA.

42. Diced and served in a mushroom cream sauce: ALA KING.

43. "Don't look at me!": NOT I.

45. Hall of fame: ARSENIO. Hall as a famous last name, not as a place of recognition.

46. Ally Financial Inc., formerly: GMAC. General Motors Acceptance Corporation.

49. City on the Rhone: GENEVA. Today's geography map.

51. Jerk: MORON. American English carnival slang, perhaps from jerkwater town, where a steam locomotive crew had to take on boiler water from a trough or a creek because there was no water tank. This led to an adj. use of jerk as "inferior, insignificant." Moron is directly from Greek for "foolish, dull". Still, connotatively, these don't really feel synonymous to me...

52. Stare master?: OGLER. A play on words for stair master exercise equipment.

54. Ratatouille, for one: STEW. The full name of the dish is ratatouille niçoise. It originated in the area around present day Occitan Provença and Niça (French: Nice). Derived from ratouiller and tatouiller, two expressive forms of of the French verb touiller, meaning to stir up.

55. Doll's word: MAMA. You'd say mama too, if someone kept tipping you upside down until you made noise.

56. Did some selling out: SANG. Ratted on. Snitched.

57. Mashhad is its second-largest city: IRAN.

58. Airing: ON TV.

59. Intrusive: NOSY.

60. PC key: ALT. Used to change (alternate) the function of other pressed keys. Most computers today use the ASCII character set, which only needs 7 of the 8 bits in one byte to represent all the numbers and letters, both upper and lower (and punctuation, plus certain special signal sequences).  The ALT key was originally used to set the "extra" 8th bit so an extended value could be entered, but because of the requirements of internationalization of character sets, it no longer works that way, but instead alters what other keys do depending on the program being used at the time.  TMI, right?


Nov 19, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010 Daniel A. Finan

(Note: We're instructed to "SEE NOTEPAD" in today's puzzle. In puz file (Across Lite), go to View and click on Notepad. It says "Five clues in this puzzle are deliberately left blank". You'd be really confounded if you solved the puzzle via LA Times' website, no Notepad there, despite the instruction. Does your local paper have SEE NOTEPAD also?)

Theme: CLUELESS (61A. Like five answers in this puzzle, literally and figuratively: CLUELESS. Very tricky puzzle, you see un-clued fill, but there is the dash. So the five answers were without clues, and the five answers were all synonyms for CLUELESS, meaning not very smart. I was an pea brain, airhead for a while, sorting this one out.

17A. -: PEA BRAIN. This is one of the more obvious expressions, coming from the idea of one who has brain the size of a pea does not know much.

28A. -: DINGBAT. None more famous than EDITH . Nobody seems to know where this term comes from.

46A. -: AIRHEAD. Also, pretty self explanatory, if all that is between your ears is AIR, you are not likely to be smart.

11D. -: NINCOMPOOP. A really evocative word, I have heard my entire life, but again, nobody knows why it means what it means.

27D. -: SPACE CADET. This comes from someone who has his head in the sky, with no touch with normal thought.

Well, hello all, it is Lemonade here with your Friday report, and this was a very complicated effort, with pitfalls everywhere. It is my second Daniel A. Finan puzzle to blog, the last being the incredible anagram pangram in August. Once again his approach to theme is new, leaving out clues as clues. So, let’s go.


1. "When I __ kid ...": WAS A. I put it in but wondered if there was more to it. Is this referring to the Bill Cosby comedy album?

5. Colorado NHLers: AVS. National Hockey League. The Avalanche; they began as the Quebec Nordiques, but were too close to Montreal, and finally moved to Colorado, where they won the Stanley Cup their first year, beating the Florida Panthers.

8. They may be surrounded at parties: PIANOS. Lovely clue, really nice imagery.

14. Set up: Abbr.: ESTD. Established.

15. Acqua Di __: Armani cologne: GIO. My cologne of choice; ladies?

16. Like a maelstrom: ASWIRL. Ah, an “A” word, what fun.

19. Cash in Nashville: JOHNNY. Did you hesitate and think about Money?

20. Rolls to the gate: TAXIES. What planes do after landing.

21. Colorful cats: CALICOS. So many different color COMBINATIONS .

22. Pitts of early cinema: ZASU. An old favorite from the Tribune puzzles, but we have not seen her lately; I remember her from OH SUSANNAH where she was Gale Storm’s sidekick.

24. Retired New York senator Al D'__: AMATO. As a Senator, he was more famous for controversy and long filibusters, now retired he is 73 and has 2 children, a 2 year old, and a 1 year old. Man must be crazy.

25. Hi-__: FIS. Stands for High Fidelity.

30. Second degree?: MBA. Fooled me completely first time through, but after you get your Bachelor’s , you do get a second degree.

33. In spades: AMPLY. Phrase in spades "in abundance" first recorded 1929 (Damon Runyon), probably from bridge, where spades are the highest-ranking suit.

35. It's usually four: PAR. Though generally there also par 5’s and par 3’s; no record of how 4 became the standard, or even why 18 HOLES . We also have, 34. Golfer's concern: LIE indicating where your ball lies.

36. Former 56-Across team: EXPOS. The Montreal EXPOS went bankrupt, and major league baseball moved the franchise to Washington, D.C., where they are now the Nationals. 56A. Baseball div.: NL EAST. Had to guess.

38. Cuisine that includes phanaeng: THAI. I enjpy THAI food, but most restaurants refer to it as PANANG CURRY.

39. "Entourage" agent Gold: ARI. Played ever so hatefully by Jeremy Piven.

40. English walled city: YORK. A fun tour of Europe is to see the WALLED CITIES .

41. Guard dog command: SIC EM. No doubt from ‘seek them’.

43. "__ be a pleasure!": IT'D.

44. O3: OZONE. If I had not gotten this one, I would never have finished, it opened up the whole south for me.

45. Unlock'd: OPE. I ‘ope not again, soon.

49. Place for flock members: PEW. Very cute, I can picture all the sheep in church.

50. "I __ your long lost pal": Paul Simon lyric: CAN BE. This was part of his work with African music and musicians, with American LYRICS .

52. Salon sound: SNIP. Snip, snip go the scissors, a word many men associate with vasectomy.

54. Given, as custody: AWARDED. I hated divorce work, and quit after the old man pulled gun on me in the hall outside my office; criminals were much safer.

60. Mel Gibson persona: MAD MAX. This was Mel Gibson’s break out hit MOVIE .

63. Ring of color: AREOLE. Alas, C.C., I defer to you.

64. "Popeye" surname: OYL. The hot chick the men had to fight over, Olive.

65. Shell's shell, e.g.: LOGO. Like the clue, simple but effective.

66. Aquarium denizens: TETRAS. A fancy word for resident.

67. "Bottle Rocket" director Anderson: WES. This was his first movie, which he did with the Wilson brothers, with whom he forged a long relationship and did other movies such as The Royal Tenebaums he also directed the fable The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and to show our puzzles all make sense, and fit together, the recent Fantastic Mr. Fox .

68. Colony workers: ANTS. Ant colony, not Americans working for the Brits.


1. Showed relief, in a way: WEPT. Tears of?

2. Deported?: ASEA. Oh oh, another “A” word.

3. Vintage R&B record label: STAX. Despite 30+ years representing musicians, I did not remember this LABEL but then I do rock and roll, not R & B.

4. Madison Ave. symbolizes it: AD BIZ. The home of MADMEN and crazy America, my favorite about Madison avenue was the movie CRAZY PEOPLE with Dudley Moore and Daryl Hannah.

5. Court star with the autobiography "Open": AGASSI. Andre was perhaps a bit too Open in his book, discussing his drug usage, etc.

6. Sundial number: VII. A new way to slip in a Roman Numeral.

7. One learning about the birds and the bees?: SON. My father’s entire speech was, “If you like big breasts, go be a farmer because cows have the biggest; and quality over quantity.” Edited for publication.

8. Kind of party: PAJAMA. Ah, we are back with Dennis at the Slumber party in his PJ’s and once again there is a recurring theme.

9. Get away from the others: ISOLATE.

10. In the slightest: A WHIT. Many a wit has realized all the nice things A WHIT rhymes with, but most of us do not give a …..

12. "Yes __?": OR NO. Damn, that was too easy.

13. Stallone and Stone: SLYS. SLY and the Family Stone; was this their biggest HIT ?

18. Set: READY. How can this be synonymous, when you have to be READY for CAB RIDES. (21D. Taxi stand).

23. Odd, as a sock: UNPAIRED.There is some rich creature somewhere with a bazillion single socks.

25. 1980 DeLuise film: FATSO. A rather sad and poignant movie.

26. "Can you dig it?" response: I'M HIP. Sadly, we actually talked like that.

29. "Wayne's World" co-host: GARTH. Dana Carvey to Mike Myers’ Wayne.

31. Shouldered: BORNE.

32. Out of line: ASKEW. An “A” word.

37. ___ Affair: 1798-1800 France/USA dispute: XYZ. Did anyone watch the HBO series about JOHN ADAMS , he was the president who had to deal with this problem.

42. Hindu meditation aid: MANDALA. Now we hit my weak part of the puzzle, as I did not know this DESIGN , nor

44. "Swan Lake" maiden: ODILE. I never was much on ballet, and only ODETTE came to mind.

47. Wild goats with recurved horns: IBEXES. They do have interesting HORNS .

48. Makes void: ANNULS. More divorce work, bleh.

51. Gladiator's defense: ARMOR. I liked the movie with Russell Crowe.

53. Window-making giant: PELLA. Never heard of them either, but the perps finally got me home.

54. Word in a basic Latin conjugation: AMAT. AMO, AMAS, AMAT; I love, you love, he/she/it loves; when I was in 6th grade, we studied Latin and I was conjugating and said the last one too fast…

55. Tupper ending: WARE. Burp?

57. Many millennia: AEON. Fancy spelling for EON (again a new recurring theme) and a movie showcasing a delightful CHARLIZE THERON .

58. Certain NCO: SSGT. Staff Sergeant.

59. General __ chicken: TSOS.

61. Tipping target, so it's said: COW. Yep, the old sport of COW TIPPING .

62. Drano component: LYE. I would not lie to you about this either.

Well another challenge, conquered, almost a pangram (Q short) with so many new words and clues; thanks Mr. F., and to rest of you , have a great week end, and a better Monday.

Answer grid.


Aug 4, 2010

Wednesday August 4, 2010 Daniel A. Finan

Theme: Gram Positive - Each of the 14-letter theme answer includes two 6-letter anagrams separated by IN, and the puzzle is a pangram, continuing a very scrabbly week of puzzles.

20A. Male goose during hunting season?: GANDER IN DANGER. GANDER becomes DANGER. Well, if you goose a male in hunting season, be careful.

25A. Sought-after former football announcer?: MADDEN IN DEMAND. Now retired hall of fame NFL coach and announcer John MADDEN becomes DEMAND.

46A. Fencing implement at the shop?: RAPIER IN REPAIR. RAPIER (along with EPEE and SABER, the fencing swords) becomes REPAIR.

51A. Biblical guy who refused to believe the writing on the wall?: DANIEL IN DENIAL. Our constructor gives himself a plug. I wonder if realizing his own name worked was the inspiration for this puzzle?

It has been a long time since we had one of Mr. Finan's efforts, and I really hit a home run for personal pleasure, as I love anagrams. This effort is fabulous, all 14-letter theme entries, with perfect symmetry, each anagrammed word being six letters long, and he employs subtle differences in the use of IN for each clue.

Lemonade here and let's get to work.


1. Outré: QUEER. Well, damn, what a place to start.

6. __ Mahal: TAJ. Do we all remember TAJ means crown?

9. Door parts: JAMBS.

14. Dictionary note subject: USAGE.

15. Brandy letters: VSO. This means Very Superior Old, 12-17 years old.

16. Drools over, in a way: OGLES. Did any of you guys ever ogle, 40A Bingham of "Baywatch": TRACI. Boys, did you watch BAYWATCH ? They knew how to select lifeguards. Or perhaps, 9D. Singer with the Blackhearts: JOAN JETT?

17. "Call it __": "No winner": A DRAW.

18. S or SE: DIR. Lots of abbreviations today, 24. Small, medium, or large: Abbr.: ADJ. (Adjective), 34. Like waitresses: Abbr.: FEM.

19. Netizen who might hear "You've got mail!": AOLER. Netizen, really?

23. Novelist Deighton: LEN. His first book was the IPCRESS FILE an amazingly successful thriller.

33. Le Pew of skunkdom: PEPE. He has shown up often lately.

35. Shocking buildup?: STATIC. My mind focused on this BUILD UP .

36. Shangri-las: EDENS. A reminder of our recent Utopia puzzle…

38. Purple minus blue: RED. Oh goody, mathematical colors, maybe we can combine them with Roman Numerals. 32D. Early seventh-century year: DCIX (609)

41. Get molars, say: TEETHE.

43. Shiatsu response: AAH. A special massage AAAAAAAAAH for our own Mellissa Bee.

45. "Night at the Museum" creature, for short: T REX. I had a little trouble picturing this one even though I love the MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY .

49. Free (of): RID.

50. __-El: Superman's birth name: KAL. Son of JOR-EL. We also have 63. Super __: game console: NES, which supplanted 30D. Video game trailblazer: ATARI.

59. Part of HDTV, briefly: HI DEF. Which is how we watch 60. "South Park" brother: IKE. You either love or hate SOUTH PARK . While we have our, 6D. Swanson product: TV DINNER.

61. Main life line?: AORTA.

62. "Good __!": Charlie Brownism: GRIEF. A true AMERICAN ICON.

64. Cinemax rival: STARZ.

65. Baby-sits, e.g.: TENDS.

66. Jetta fuel: GAS.

67. English class assignment: ESSAY.


1. Marsh, for short: QUAG. This is an abbreviation for QUAGMIRE .

2. Meat pkg. letters: USDA. United States Department of Agriculture.

3. Take home: EARN.

4. "Yikes!" : EGAD.

5. Fix by fusing, as metal: REWELD.

7. B-boy connection: AS IN. Tricky for me. B as in boy.

8. Hoops legend: JORDAN. Is there anyone who does not know MJ? Or 59D. NBA bio stat: HGT. Yes, they are tall.

10. With eager anticipation: AGOG.

11. Fr. miss: MLLE.

12. Cold one, so to speak: BEER. My youngest son's other career is at ORLANDO BREWING, makes a dad proud.

13. Ukr., once : SSR.

21. Snorkeling site: REEF.

22. Chimes in with: ADDS.

25. Jason's wife: MEDEA. I made the puzzle too, you keep assigning me the right days, C. C.! Glad I was not married to her though. (Note from C.C.: Lemonade's real name is Jason.)

26. "Not __ out of you!": A PEEP.

27. Driller's prefix?: DENTI. I had trouble getting the I.

28. "That is ..." : I MEAN. Like when you got caught coming home at 2:00 am, reeking of pot and booze, gee dad, it was, I mean....

29. Rush Limbaugh ex __ Fitzgerald: MARTA. Shows who you can date if you have Money never heard of this one.

31. More agreeable: NICER.

33. '80s-'90s tennis star Korda: PETR. His daughter JESSICA is a leading amateur golfer. We also have a tennis echo with, 52D. Score after deuce, maybe: AD IN.

37. Oater lawmen: SHERIFFS.

39. What a full moon mitigates: DARKNESS.

42. Shallowest Great Lake: ERIE. We see this lake once a week at least.

44. Cattle unit: HEAD. Lois, be careful!

47. Waiting at a light, say: IDLING. Which reminds me of being 58D. Like a shirker: LAZY.

48. "The magic word": PLEASE.

51. Desperate, as straits: DIRE. I love Mark KNOPFLER.

53. Must have: NEED.

54. Swedish retail giant: IKEA. If you have not been, it is an adventure.

55. Have-__: the less fortunate: NOTS. The opposite of yesterday's NOBS.

56. S&L offerings: IRAS. Are there any S&Ls still in business?

57. Gillette razor: ATRA. Our crosswordese of the day; when will FUSION become popular in puzzledom; the shave is better.

Answer grid.

A nice tight theme, and lots of long words with all the letters, I hope you all enjoyed the ride. Happy Birthday Troy!

Today we also celebrate the birthday of a military mom, Gloria, Lovely Wife to our quick-witted Jazzbumpa. Here is a picture of Gloria with five of their beautiful granddaughters. From left to right: Abby (7+), Rebekka (10-), Gloria, Lauren (6), Amanda (13-) and Samantha (8).

Abby and Lauren live in Florida. Their dad Tom is in Afghanistan (second tour of duty, I think). The rest are in Michigan.


Jan 27, 2010

Wednesday January 27, 2010 Daniel A. Finan

Theme: NURSERY RHYMES (37A. Mother Goose offerings, or in a different sense, this puzzle's title) - the first word of each rhyming phrase can be found in a plant nursery.

17A. Longing for a fronded plant?: FERN YEARN. Frond is the leaf of the fern.

21A. Zinfandel, but not sake?: VINE WINE. Sake is Japanese rice wine.

23A. Oxygen emanating from a lawn?: GRASS GAS. The answer made me laugh.

55A. Steep, e.g.?: HERB VERB. You steep the "herbal tea", hence a verb for herb I presume.

57A. Like areas above the timberline?: TREE FREE. Trees do not grow above the timberline.

61A. Group devoted to small, woody plants?: SHRUB CLUB. What's the difference between shrub and bush?

Heavy themage. Total 63 theme squares. Very Dan Naddor-ish, isn't it? Esp with the first and last pair of stacked theme answers.

I got the unifying entry NURSERY RHYMES rather quickly, but did not understand the theme until I was completely done. Had thought the theme answers were all arbitrary. Then the precious AHA (6D: Cry of realization) hit me. Very clever tie-in. Loved Dan's subtle metapuzzle gimmick. Or "You've got to dig deep to find the theme...", in his own words.

The clues are a bit trickier than our normal Wednesday, no?


1. Bridges of "The Big Lebowski": JEFF. He's "The Dude" in the movie. A bowler.

5. River projects: DAMS. I like how it crosses DREDGE (5D. Channel maintenance machine).

9. Ritz cracker alternative: ZESTA. The Keebler brand. Two Zs in the grid. And only Q away from a pangram.

14. Swedish furniture giant: IKEA. So easy to get lost inside IKEA store.

15. Ostrich cousin: RHEA

19. Connection: NEXUS

20. H.S. dropout's test: GED (General Equivalency Diploma)

27. Spews: EGESTS. Thought of ERUPTS.

28. Bench press target, briefly: PEC

29. Côte d'Azur view: MER. French for "sea". Nice is at Côte d'Azur (the French Riviera). We also have "water" EAU (52A. __ Claire, Wisconsin).

30. Scratch or dent: MAR

31. Ed.'s pile: MSS (Manuscripts). Used to stump me.

32. Rural skyline cylinder: SILO. For forage.

34. Rock collection specimens: AGATES. Raw agates do not look pretty at all.

42. Cloverleaf element: ON-RAMP. Highway interchange "Cloverleaf".

43. Follower of once?: UPON. "Once upon a time ...".

45. Some TVs: GES

48. Scrap for Spot: ORT. Spot is a common dog name. Alliteration.

49. Anaheim team, on scoreboards: LAA. Silly name: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

53. Pair of blows: ONE-TWO. No idea. Boxing term?

59. Govt. auditing gp.: GAO (General Accounting Office)

60. Fruit soda brand: FANTA. No Coca-Cola brand in our house. Loyal Pepsi consumers.

66. "I Kissed __": Katy Perry hit: A GIRL. Not familiar with the song or the singer.

67. Diggs of "Private Practice": TAYE. Loved him in "How Stella Got Her Groove Back".

68. Golfer Isao: AOKI. Just remember the AO combination in both his give name and surname.

69. Kidney-related: RENAL

71. Joan at Woodstock: BAEZ. Nicely intersects BIZ (65D. Show __).


1. Choice of "Choosy moms," in ads: JIF. "Choosy moms choose Jif"

3. Not agin: FER. "For". "Agin" = Against.

4. Werewolf's weapons: FANGS

7. Griffin and others: MERVS. Merv Griffin created "Jeopardy".

8. Cleaning product prefix: SANI. Got it from Across.

9. "Riders of the Purple Sage" author: ZANE GREY. Have faintly heard of the book. Full author name is always desirable.

10. "Maid of Athens, __ part": Byron: ERE WE. "Ere" = "Before". I guessed.

11. Discrimination fought by suffragists: SEXISM

12. Talks trash to: TAUNTS

13. Size up: ASSESS. Typical grid (right/bottom) edge word, with all the four Ss.

18. Polite country affirmative: YES' M

22. Not o'er: NEATH. Poetically.

23. Modern rental car feature, briefly: GPS

24. Hold back: REIN

25. Scopes Trial gp.: ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). Was unaware of the Scopes Trial.

26. Turkish mount: ARARAT. The landing mount of Noah's Ark.

30. Christie heroine: MARPLE. Miss Marple.

33. Plata counterpart: ORO. Spanish for "gold". Plata = "silver". "Oro y Plata" (gold and silver) is Montana's motto.

35. Place where sweaters get fit?: GYM. "Sweat-ers" = Ones who sweat. Hot clue!

36. The Mustangs of coll. football: SMU (Southern Methodist University). The answer emerged itself.

38. Winter wonderland creator: SNOW FALL. Lovely Heidi Klum "Wonderland".

39. Shortstop's boot: ERROR. "Boot" is misplay of the ground ball.

40. Foil alternative: EPEE. Was picturing the wrap "foil", not "fencing weapon".

41. Fly high: SOAR

44. Worn-down pencil: NUB

45. Was successful: GOT FAR. And SEEN IN (47D. Shown to a seat). Tricky little multi-words, esp with the tense.

46. Bring to a boil?: ENRAGE. With the question mark, I still thought of liquid boil. Dummy!

50. Pleads in court: ARGUES

51. Simple poetry pattern: ABAB

54. Aquarium denizen: TETRA. Maybe Dennis has this species in his fish tank.

55. "__ it coming": "Serves him right": HE HAD. Again, obtained the answer with Across help.

56. Eng. lesson: VOCAB (Vocabulary).

58. "¿Cómo ____ usted?": ESTA. How do you reply then?

62. Bakery product: RYE

63. Mauna __: LOA. Hawaiian for "long".

64. Strummed strings: UKE. The Hawaiian strings. Nice parallel with LOA.

Here is a picture of our Jazzbumpa in full orchestra uniform. It's taken in Dec 2009 before their Sebelius concert.

Note to newcomers: I have a permanent Blog Photos link on the blog sidebar. If you want to join us there, do email me ( your picture.

Answer grid.


Sep 3, 2009

Interview with Daniel A. Finan

It's been a long time since we last had Dan Finan's puzzle. I really liked his "IT'S NOT YOU. IT'S ME" puzzle (April 17, 2009). Dan changed every ME in the theme entry into U. He later told me that he's a big "Seinfeld" fan, and he thought it would be fun to play with the breakup phrase.

Dan made his NY Time debut earlier this year with a Sunday "When in Rome" puzzle. Those who solve NY Times regularly probably still remember his inventive sailboat puzzle in April. When you connect those circled letters in alphabetical order, a sailboat takes shape.

In addition to LA Times and NY Times, Dan also had several puzzles published by the NY Sun. Enjoy the interview. I am confident that we will see more Dan Finan puzzles in the future.

Can you tell us more about the creating process of this puzzle? How did the theme idea come to you and what kind of changes did you make to smooth out the grid?

In order for the PARTS OF SPEECH puzzle to work, I figured I needed to take three-letter "parts" of SPEECH, i.e., SPE, PEE, EEC, and ECH. That would result in four theme answers (not including the central entry), each of which is workable but not too commonplace. I wanted to narrow down the possible answers even more, so I decided to place all of these parts at the beginning of the theme entries. And finally, for the sake of elegance, I wanted them to appear in order.

There is often a limiting factor of a puzzle that a constructor is forced to build around. For this puzzle it was the EEC answer. The only quality entry I could think of was EE CUMMINGS, a well-known author. Thus, given my other self-imposed constraints, I needed another 10-letter entry starting with PEE to offset this answer. There were a few to choose from, but I opted for PEEPING TOM, which is a colloquial English expression deriving from an interesting historical figure. Similarly, there were limited options for the ECH answer, but I thought ECHO CHAMBER had a nice ring to it. Finally, I thought that the offsetting entry SPELLING BEE would be fun to clue.

My favorite non-theme entries are PLETHORA (a great word; it reminds me of the classic "Three Amigos") and CLARK BAR (candy-related entries are always fun, right?). Also, I wanted to clue the common OMELET as "Denver ___" because I like to slip in as many references to my hometown as possible!

How would you describe your style? What kind of themes/fills fascinate you? And what words do you try to avoid in your puzzles?

I am a sucker for the gimmick puzzles--typically late-week themed puzzles. Off the top of my head, two puzzles that had a fun wow factor for me were Don Gagliardo's LAT 5/17/07 and Patrick Berry's NYT 3/9/08 "Splits and Mergers." I also love a good connect-the-dots puzzle.

Like any constructor, I try to avoid crosswordese as much as possible when filling grids. But I really like my long non-theme entries to be lively and fun; I'll gladly use a few dullish short answers if it means I can use a fun long one.

What is a perfect puzzle to you? And what's your view on low word/black square count?

To me the perfect puzzle is a simple, elegant, and subtle gimmick puzzle. I really like the crosswords that have a metapuzzle. For example, with some (themed) puzzles, I can fill in the entire grid, and I still don't "get it." So I have to really dig deep to find the theme... it's then that I get that satisfying "Aha!" moment. I wonder how many people miss the whole point of subtle puzzles like that.

I don't care so much about achieving a low word or black-square count. On the other hand, I really try to use cheater squares only when I absolutely have to!

Do you google a lot while constructing a puzzle? What kind of reference books do you use?

I definitely use google when constructing. And wiki. But wisely! They can be very useful tools. Sometimes, after I've resigned myself to using a seemingly ho-hum entry, I'll google it and find something interesting about it that I didn't know before. I regularly use other online resources like IMDB, OneLook, and a few dictionaries.

What's your background and what do you do for fun?

I recently finished grad school at UC Santa Barbara, and I'm now doing a postdoc at a university in Copenhagen, Denmark. My area of research is diabetes. I'm trying to figure out the Danish crosswords, which is a daunting task. I have the utmost respect for non-native solvers (C.C.!). Other than that, I love photography and I've been traveling a lot lately.