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Showing posts with label Fred Jackson III. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fred Jackson III. Show all posts

May 29, 2010

Saturday May 29, 2010 Fred Jackson III

Theme: None

Total words: 72

Total blocks: 34

I think this is Fred's first Saturday. He now needs a Sunday to complete his LAT "hitting for the cycle".

Fred places triple stacks of 10's Across on the upper right and lower left corners. Then triple stacks of 9's Down on the upper left and lower right. He has a total of 13 multi-word entries in the grid. My favorite clues today are:

9D. Cell dweller: INMATE. Prison "Cell".

27D. Record holder?: FELON. Criminal record. Got me.

Across:

1. Powder holders: KEGS. Gunpowder?

5. Movie warning: PG-THIRTEEN. PG-13. Weird to see the rating spelled out.

15. Elision from Eliza: 'ENRY. Henry Higgins. "My Fair Lady".

16. Unequaled: ONE AND ONLY. Awesome entry.

17. Times when the French fry?: ETES. French for summer. Rich used this clue before.

18. Stern boss: TASK MASTER. Might be Fred's seed entry. I was thinking of Howard Stern and his boss the Sirius Radio.

19. Orphaned author raised by the Allans: POE. Did not know Poe was an orphan.

20. Winter warmer: HOT TEA. And PARKA (49. Winter warmer).

21. __'clock scholar: TEN O'. Ten O'clock scholar is "schoolboy who habitually arrives late". New expression to me.

22. Incomplete rainbow: SUN DOG. Hmm, this is the image of a sun dog to me. The "incomplete rainbow" definition is also new to me.

24. It may be fit for a queen: TIARA. Sweet clue.

26. Dry gulch: ARROYO. Nailed it.

27. Buff: FIEND. Enthusiast.

29. Kit Carson House site: TAOS. Not aware of this trivia.

30. They may come in a pack: LIES. Of course I was thinking of wolves.

32. Verbal flourishes: TADAS

36. "Here __ Again" (Whitesnake #1 hit): I GO

37. Start of a religious title: DALAI. Dalai Lama. Dalai is literally "ocean" in Mongolian. Lama is "guru". The current exile Dalai Lama is the 14th one.

39. Amphibian youngster: EFT

40. Score markings: TEMPI. Plural of tempo. Musical score.

43. When both hands are up: NOON. Oh, clock.

44. Some bank holdings: DATA

45. Club newsletter: ORGAN. No idea. Why? (From Dennis: "Organ'" can be used in describing newsletters from different clubs, a "periodical".)

47. Like some kisses: STOLEN. Sweet clue.

51. "Let's keep moving!": ONWARD

52. Champagne designation: BRUT. Very dry.

53. Tangles, or disentangles: RAVELS. Unravel has the same meaning, right?

57. Year before Columbus's fourth voyage: MDI. 1501. Who knows?

58. California shopping mecca: RODEO DRIVE. Expensive stuff.

60. Penn name: SEAN. Sean Penn. Nice play on "Pen name".

61. "It doesn't get any better than this": I'M IN HEAVEN. Another awesome entry.

62. Pioneering puppeteer Tony: SARG. How quickly have I forgotten his name!

63. Alabama and Mississippi are in it: COTTON BELT. Felt very clever getting one, Rose!

64. Large order: ELKS. The fraternal order. I was thinking of the large manufacturing order.

Down:

1. Doesn't quit: KEEPS AT IT. Superb!

2. Posse: ENTOURAGE. Great to see "Posse" used as a clue once.

3. Where one might anticipate being introduced: GREEN ROOM.

4. M.O. : SYS (Sytems). M. O. = Modus Operandi. I got the answer via crosses.

5. Vernacular jackpot: POT O' GOLD. Vernacular because "F" is dropped?

6. No-see-um, e.g.: GNAT. Was stumped last time by the clue.

7. Mike holder's opening, often: TEST. Indeed.

8. Cod cousin: HAKE. Have never heard of the hake fish.

10. Dietary no.: RDA. Recommended Daily or Dietary Allowance. I don't know which one.

11. Fiesta fare: TOSTADA. Looks delicious!

12. Decide to compete: ENTER

13. "Uncle Vanya" role: ELENA. No idea. Only spotted Yelena in this Wikipedia character entry. Are they the same?

14. "Stoned Soul Picnic" songwriter: NYRO (Laura). Can never remember her name.

20. Today, in Tijuana: HOY

23. List of acceptable behavior: DO'S. Do's and Don'ts.

25. 1099-__: bank-issued tax form: INT

28. Five-time Japan Senior Open winner Aoki: ISAO. Ao repetition in both his names.

31. Ending for Louis: IANA. Louisiana. The clue fails to amuse me.

33. Richard Simmons weight-loss program with color-coded cards: DEAL-A-MEAL. Not on my radar.

34. At night: AFTER DARK

35. Sports page feature: STANDINGS. Solid fill!

38. Cheeky: INSOLENT

41. Sign to heed: PORTENT

42. Nettle: IRK

44. Average fellow?: DOW. Dow Jones Average I suppose? Why "fellow"?

46. Party locale: GARDEN

48. Shipping wts.: TNS (Tons)

49. Ad: PROMO

50. Review of books?: AUDIT. Accounting book. Loved the clue.

52. __-a-brac: BRIC

54. __ League: ARAB. Did not come to me immediately.

55. On the qui __: alert: VIVE

56. Big name in jumping: EVEL (Knievel). The daredevil.

59. "Well, well!": OHO

60. 157.5 degrees from N: SSE

Answer grid.

C.C.

Jan 22, 2010

Friday January 22, 2010 Fred Jackson III

Theme: L-adder - Letter L is added into a B-starting four-letter first word of a familiar phrase/name.

17A. Scrabble cheat?: B(L)ANK ROBBER. Bank Robber. The blank tile in Scrabble.

53A. Singer who loves flashy jewelry?: B(L)ING CROSBY. Bing Crosby. Flashy jewelry = Bling.

11D. Perform a sheepish hip-hop number?: B(L)EAT THE RAP. Beat the Rap.

25D. Boring boss?: B(L)AND LEADER. Band Leader. Alliteration in the clue.

Can you also change BOND GIRL into a BLOND GIRL or does the girl have to be BLONDE? Any other similar pattern convertible B???/BL??? phrase came to your mind?

Bonus fill: ELL (2D. Wright wing, maybe). Playing on "Right wing". Ell has a 90-degree right angle. Wright here refers to architect Frank Lloyd Wright, right? Tricky clues like ELL abound in this puzzle. I was severely challenged and humbled.

Also noticeable are the French references in the grid:

38A. Printemps follower: ETE. Printemps is French for "spring".

7D. French friar: ABBE. Alliteration again. "French cleric" does not have the same sound appeal.

22D. Agua, across the Pyrenees: EAU. Water in the north of Pyrenees (France) is EAU and "agua" in the south (Spain).

54D. Paris article: LES. French for "the". Like "Les Misérables".

Across:

1. Golf relative?: JETTA. Golf and Jetta are both Volkswagen models. Stumper for me. Don "Hard G" just clued GOLF ODYSSEY as "Duffer's trip through Scotland?" (Volkswagen/Honda) last Sunday.

6. Camp sight: CANOE

11. A favorite is a good one: BET. Wanted PET.

14. Liquid fat: OLEIN (OH-lee-in). New word to me. Is it present in olive oil?

16. Language of Southeast Asia: LAO

19. Cause of star wars?: EGO. Celebrity "star". Nice play on "Star Wars".

20. Isn't on the level: SLOPES

21. Put one's cards on the table: DEALT. Tricky past tense "Put".

23. Doctor's order: LAB TEST

26. Babbles: PRATES

27. White Rabbit's cry: I'M LATE. I've never read "Alice in Wonderland".

28. "Like, wow!": FAR OUT. Cool!

30. Antiquated alpine apparatus: T-BAR. Alliteration gone wild! Lovely!

31. Curl beneficiary, informally: BICEPS. Weightlifting "Curl".

32. Solution for a bad hair day: HAT

36. Moisturizer target: DRYNESS

39. Traffic reg.: ORD (Ordinance)

40. Miss Muffet, before the spider showed up: EATER. From the nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffet". She was eating curds and whey before the spider showed up.

41. E-mail heading word: FROM

42. Stay a while: LINGER. Sojourn is one letter too long.

44. Viselike device: C-CLAMP. Due to its C shaped frame. Got me.

46. Future doctor's project: THESIS. Ph. D. "doctor".

48. Caribbean music genre: CALYPSO. I could only think of Reggae.

49. Oater prop: RIATA. Or REATA.

50. Low areas: SWALES. Marshy/swampy low tract of area. Learned from doing Xword. Can you find peat there?

52. Stop: END

58. Bartender's concern: AGE

59. Leave alone: LET BE

60. Piercing look: GLARE

61. "__ Rosenkavalier": Strauss opera: DER. German for "the". Not familiar with "Der Rosenkavalier" (The Knight of the Rose). Surprised to see both DER and LES in the same grid.

62. "The Federalist" component: ESSAY. How many essays?

63. Ninnies: YO-YOS. Did not know "yo-yo" is a slang for "a stupid person".

Down:

1. Position: JOB. Had a hiccup on this one.

3. Break fluid?: TEA. Play on "Brake fluid". Tea during coffee/tea break.

4. Old West badge: TIN STAR. Like this? Tin material does not carry an authoritative cachet at all.

5. Low sock: ANKLET

6. Take for one's own use: CO-OPT

8. Catches: NABS

9. East Ender's flat: 'OME (Home). H sound is dropped in East Ender/Cockney dialect.

10. Pendant pair: EARDROPS. Drop earrings.

12. Boston College athlete: EAGLE. Unknown to me.

13. Whistle sounds: TOOTS

18. American Beauty, e.g.: ROSE. Great clue. I bet many were thinking of the film.

23. Collectible print, briefly: LITHO. The real collectibles are signed & limited edition.

24. Fossilized resin: AMBER

26. Wash. title: PRES (President). Would prefer "Washington title, briefly" clue.

28. More delicate: FINER
29. Andy Roddick, at times: ACER

31. Data measure: BYTE. Computer data.

33. Tiny quantities: ATOMS

34. A conductor might pick it up: TEMPO. Liked the "it" in this clue.

36. Subject to contradiction: DENIABLE. Excellent entry.

37. Tattered duds: RAGS

41. Achieve a piloting milestone: FLY SOLO. True.

43. Suffix with Mao: IST. Maoist. My Dad could recite every word of Chairman Mao's "Little Red Book".

44. Math class, briefly: CALC (Calculus)

45. Service providers?: CLERGY. Religious service.

46. Its gradual loss leads to baldness: TREAD. Oh, tire baldness.

47. Depend (on): HINGE. Nice change from RELY.

48. Shrewd: CAGEY

50. Convenes: SITS. Why? I don't get this one.

51. Org. with the Chicago Sky and Seattle Storm: WNBA. Knew neither of them. Our local team is Minnesota Lynx.

56. Pal: BRO. Mac/Bud too.

57. "May I help you?": YES?

Thanks for the sweet comments on the blog birthday yesterday, everyone, esp Linda. Thanks for remembering the date.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Oct 27, 2009

Tuesday October 27, 2009 Fred Jackson III

Theme: How Many Ways Can You Say "Buy" Without Spending Money? - The first words/syllable of the four theme answers are homophones.

20A. Furthermore: BY THE SAME TOKEN

33A. 1961 Tony-winning musical inspired by Elvis being drafted: BYE BYE BIRDIE

43A. 7/4/1976 celebration: BICENTENNIAL

59A. Retail store financing come-on: BUY NOW, PAY LATER

Hello all, Boomer here. I wish I could buy now and pay later with tokens.

I never saw "Bye, Bye, Birdie", but I do remember the Bicentennial very well. The US issued special quarters that year and I got ten rolls at the bank and put them away as an investment. They are now worth 25 cents each, but you can't get as much for a quarter as you could in 1976. I remember spending the day at a Minnesota Twins double header, outdoors at Metropolitan Stadium. Outdoor MLB is returning to the land of 10,000 lakes next spring.

I am not the best puzzle solver. I got about 80% of this one before I needed help. But I didn't need help with bowling last night. 665 is a good score for an old guy, and today I looked at my driver's license and Damn! I'm a year older! I'm the same age as Hillary Clinton, not as famous but my cheeks aren't as chubby. Have fun with today's puzzle.

Across:

1. One-person boat: SKIFF. My first error. I wanted to put Kayak.

6. College athlete: JOCK . The Gophers could use a few more.

10. Mouse catcher: TRAP. Build a better one and the world will make a path to your door, but who wants the world at their door anyway?

14. China's Zhou __: EN LAI. C.C. knows him better than I; Alternate answer would be QIN. C.C.'s Mandarin name is Zhouqin, but it doesn't have enough letters.

15. Clickable symbol: ICON

16. Compete in a meet: RACE. We are all in this rat race together, some day we may meet.

17. Ghostly noises: MOANS. Halloween is coming. I prefer BOOS. For the Yankees of course.

18. "Let It __": Everly Brothers hit: BE ME. " I blessed the day I found you, I want to stay around you, now and forever ..."

19. Peruvian empire builder: INCA. The Empire Builder was a train. The Incas didn't build it. It came later.

23. Barbary ape's cont.: AFR

24. Necklace clasp resting place: NAPE. If you don't get it fastened correctly, it could rest on the floor.

25. Baton Rouge sch.: LSU. Home of the Fighting Tigers. Shaq's alma mater by the way.

29. Coastal inlet: RIA. Crossword river inlet.

31. Take to the clink: ARREST. Clink is slang for "jail". It's never fun. Think before you drink.

37. Rig on the road: SEMI. To me, semi always meant half or partial. Why they call the big trucks semis, I'll never know.

38. John, to Ringo?: LOO - I can't figure this out. Is LOO an English word for bathroom?

39. Trivial, as chatter: IDLE - If it's your brain, it's the devil's playground, trouble in River City.

48. Debonair: RAKISH. Never heard of this word. I thought it's what you do to your leavish on the lawnish in the fallish.

51. Dr.'s group, maybe: HMO. Maybe History Moves Over if the health care bill passes.

52. Adobe file format: PDF. Yeah I've heard of it, but I don't know what PDF stands for.

53. Cockney's main Web page?. 'OME (Home). Never heard of this. (From C.C.: Cockney is in the East End of London where the letter H is dropped in local dialect.)

54. Bears or Cubs: TEAM. And not very good ones recently.

57. Suffix with Israel: ITE. Israelite.

64. Rick's love in "Casablanca": ILSA. Funny how some old movies are Classics.

65. Mayberry moppet: OPIE. Ronnie Howard, now aged director Ron Howard. Famous as Opie and Richie Cunningham of "Happy Days." But do you remember him waiting for the Wells Fargo Wagon in "The Music Man"?

66. Con game: BUNCO. "Dragnet" Sergeant Friday frequently worked the Bunco Squad out of Los Angeles.

68. Nuremberg no: NEIN. Their "yes" is JA.

69. Elbow-joint bone: ULNA. When you get old, a little Cryogel on the ulna helps your bowling.

70. Embodiment of perfection: IDEAL. They make wonderful Toys. Also quality electrical products. Fish tapes, wire-nuts, and Yellow 77 elephant snot.

72. Ball-bearing gadgets?: TEES. Golf ball. Use only wooden tees. Plastic mars your driver.

73. Short-winded: TERSE

Down:

1. Divinity sch.: SEM. Short for Seminary. Best one I've seen is in Clyde, MO.

2. Drawer projection: KNOB. I might have said door handle.

3. "Now __ me down ...": I LAY

4. Classic orange soda: FANTA. I had CRUSH in there first.

5. Seafood cookout: FISH FRY. The best fish fries are Sunfish, Crappies, Walleye, and Northern Pike from Minnesota lakes. But they are lake food, not seafood.

6. Triangular sails: JIBS

7. Blue part of a map: OCEAN. Unless you spill a bottle of ink on your atlas.

8. Cause for a pause: COMMA. Well, I suppose, this, could be true, maybe. Rhyming sounds good.

9. Patella protector: KNEE PAD - Got me again. I put kneecap - then I realized your kneecap is a patella.

10. The Dixie Chicks, e.g.: TRIO - One of George W's favorite groups, or not.

11. Fester in one's mind: RANKLE. Sometimes crosswords rankle me.

12. Way to get in: ACCESS. Unless you're going to weight watchers. Then you have to weigh to get in.

13. Planters logo Mr. __: PEANUT. A marketing Icon. More famous than a Gecko.

21. Buffalo-to-Albany canal: ERIE. I don't think I've seen a puzzle yet that doesn't have ERIE in it somewhere.

22. Actress Garr: TERI. Another common puzzle staple.

26. Air rifle ammo: BBS. Most are plastic now. Like everything else.

27. Needle feature: EYE. Keep your eyes peeled for needles in the haystack.

32. Coachman's control: REIN. Okay, but aren't they usually called reins?

34. Netanyahu of Israel, familiarly: BIBI. Benjamin Netanyahu's nickname. Über-hawk.

35. Particle with a charge: ION. There are eons of crossword puzzles with ION.

36. Philip who wrote the Zuckerman novels: ROTH. Does he have an IRA?

40. Chip go-with: DIP. Don't let the dip slip off the chip and onto your lip. Chips are not that healthy. The only chips I have now are short golf shots.

44. Analogy words: IS TO

45. Give a tongue-lashing: CHEW OUT. See above clues. This is also how a mouse will sometimes gain ACCESS out of a TRAP.

46. Runner Zátopek: EMIL. Emil was a common name 100 years ago. I don't know of any now.

47. Cooperative response to "Do you mind?": NOT A BIT. Maybe it's cooperative, but if Sister Mary Margaret asks you to mind, better not say "no" or you'll be standing in the corner until lunch.

48. Spring chirpers: ROBINS. Robins are the first sign of Spring. The second sign is when there's less than four inches of snow on your lawn.

49. Lucky charm: AMULET. Whatever happened to four leaf clovers and rabbits' feet.

50. Enters, as data: KEYS IN

55. William Tell's target: APPLE. Was it a Honeycrisp? Granny Smith? Fuji?

56. Largest New England state: MAINE

58. Piano exercise: ETUDE. I've never heard of this. I remember EGBDF. Which were the keys you had to put your fingers on.

60. Indian breads: NANS. Served in the Cleveland clubhouse after a game?

61. Supporting votes: YEAS. Also World Series cheers for the Phillies.

62. Cabinet dept. with a lightning bolt on its seal: ENER. Maybe they could change it to a wind turbine.

63. Some HDTVs: RCAS. Okay, but what was the name of the dog listening to the megaphone speaker on the Victrola again?

67. Corrida shout: OLE. Are they cheering for the matador, the bull, or are they really saying Oh Lays, and shouting for more chips for their dip?

Answer grid.

Boomer

Note from C.C.: Happy Birthday, Boomer!

Oct 13, 2009

Tuesday October 13, 2009 Fred Jackson III

Theme: Gone Fishing - theme answers all end with names of fishing gear.

16A: Window treatment support: CURTAIN ROD. Fishing rod is the long and flexible tool used to extend the fishing line.

22A: Proceed cautiously: WALK A FINE LINE. Line is the sturdy string with the hook, sinker, float, etc.

46A: Sports show staple: HIGHLIGHT REEL. Reel is used to retrieve the fishing line.

56A: No longer in trouble: OFF THE HOOK. Hook is the curved and sharp device to snag the fish.

Martin here. Surprised? Me too. I think C.C. is letting me blog today provided that I don't make (or link to) any off colour jokes or add fuel to any fires. In other words, it's just like any day posting to this blog: we all have to second guess ourselves before we post.

Anyway, I didn't need perp help to get HIGHLIGHT REEL because I already had CURTAIN ROD and WALK A FINE LINE: the expression "ROD and REEL" came to mind and I expected to find REEL after getting ROD and LINE. If you solve a puzzle from starting at the bottom and working up then you probably had a different experience: HOOK and REEL would have made WALK A FINE LINE a gimme because you would be expecting HOOK to be followed by LINE and perhaps sinker.

A lot of straightforward clues today. Personally I think this is a good thing, a very good thing in fact, because not only did it mean I got to finish this in about twenty minutes without googling but, as I've said before, cryptic clues often tend to be a cheat designed to make the puzzle harder than it really needs be. I'll talk about this more as we go over the clues and fills.

Across:

1A: Magic amulet: MOJO. I originally wrote MORO which is a word that refers to the people of Mindinao. There's an old terrorist group in the Philippines that called themselves the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF. They are now called the Abu Sayaf. Can't imagine why they'd want to change their name.

5A: With 13-Across "Lonely Boy" singer: PAUL. And ANKA (13A: See 5-Across). PAUL ANKA was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. There's a Paul Anka Drive in the south-eastern part of the city, obviously named after him.

9A: UPS deliveries requiring payment: C.O.D.S. Cash on Delivery. UPS is United Postal Service (Correction. It's United Parcel Service). I'm surprised that it wasn't clued as a kind of fish.

14A: Ship to remember: MAINE. The USS MAINE exploded and sank on February 15, 1898 in an event that precipitated the Spanish–American War and also popularized the phrase "Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain!". Again, the obvious clue "Fish producing state" was apparently deliberately avoided so as to not hint at the theme too early.

15A: Related: AKIN. Straightforward clue.

18A: Christmas trio: MAGI. The three wise men. As in the O Henry Christmas story "The Gift of the MAGI".

19A: "__ Beso (That Kiss!)": 5- & 13- Across hit: ESO. Spanish for "that". Sorry, no video.

20A: Prefix with China: INDO. Indochina. Straightforward clue.

21A: Lukewarm: TEPID. Straightforward clue.

26A: The flu, for one: ILLNESS. Straightforward clue. C.C. can correct me if I am wrong but my students tell me that the word for cold/flu in Chinese is 感冒 (gan3mao4) but there's also the word 流感 (liu3gan3) that means simply flu (as opposed to cold, I presume). This would seem to imply that Chinese people consider the flu to be a type of cold as opposed to a separate disease. Several years ago, the big scare here was SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) which was caused by a mutated coronavirus. Corona viruses along with rhinoviruses pretty much account for the common cold. Nowadays, people are worried about H1N1 or swine flu which is a form of influenza. The good news is that if you've been exposed to a specific virus in the past then you are less likely to get sick again: you'd be considered "immune". The bad news is that colds and flus can kill you. Good luck this winter, everybody. :)

28A: Dynamic start?: AERO. Aerodynamic. Also a delicious chocolate bar.

29A: God: DEITY. And HOLY (40D: Sanctified). Very straightforward clues.

34A: Looooong time: EON. Fairly straightforward clue. "Long time" could have been ERA.

35A: Blocker of offensive TV material: V-CHIP. Aren't people more concerned about internet porn than what appears on TV? Back in the late seventies people used to complain about Charlie's Angels.

37A: Penn & Teller, e.g.: DUO. Why not Batman & Robin?

38A: Put your John Hancock on this line: SIGN HERE. John Hancock was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence, hence his signature is the largest (most stylish too). Now his name has become synonym for signature.

41A: Desert rest stops: OASES. Plural of OASIS.

43A: Chaplin's fourth wife: OONA. Eugene O'Neill's daughter.

44A: Weepy people: SOBBERS.

50A: Orderly display: ARRAY. Straightforward clue.

51A: Has a meal: EATS. Wonder what Fred's original clue for DIG IN (11D: "Let's eat!") is.

52A: Repair: FIX

55A: Reddish horse: ROAN. I knew ROAN was a horse colour but I didn't know it was also a breed of horse.

59A: Oklahoma city: ENID.

60A: Numerical relationship: RATIO. Fairly straightforward. My first thought was SERIES but it was too many letters.

61A: One-named Deco artist: ERTE. We've had this clue before.

62A: Personal dept. IDs: SSNS. Social Security NumberS. In Canada, we have SINS, Social Insurance NumberS.

63A: Greenish-yellow pear: BOSC. If you don't remember this fill from previous puzzles then you might have been stumped, but I imagine most of us here got this one.

64A: Treos and iPhones, briefly: PDA. Easy guess. In Taiwan, the most popular feature on one of these things is the ability to translate English to Chinese. That and games.

Down:

1D: Riot squad spray: MACE. I was surprised to learn that mace and pepper spray are not the same thing: the confusion arises because the Mace Security International company that used to supply tear gas to the police now manufactures pepper spray for personal protection.

2D: Weighty obligation: ONUS

3D: Harry Potter's creator: J. K. ROWLING. Great symmetry with its partner EDSEL FORD (31D: His name wound up on a lemon). Nice full names.

4D: Bit of granola: OAT. And 48D: Smidgen of sand: GRAIN.

5D: Bamboo-eating critters: PANDAS.

6D: ___ superiority: obvious confidence: AIR OF. When you go overseas to teach English it is very easy to assume an AIR OF superiority because you speak English and they don't. You have to keep in mind that you can't speak their language. Of course, once you do manage to learn their language that AIR OF superiority returns. :)

7D: Juan's one: UNO. Spanish for "one".

9D: King Arthur's realm: CAMELOT. A lot of the King Arthur legend may have been myth. The 2004 movie portrayed him as a Roman.

10D: Giraffe relative: OKAPI, with striped legs.

12D: Like a catty remark: SNIDE

14D: Expensive furs: MINKS. Straightforward clue.

17D: Dance company founder Alvin: AILEY. Founder of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

21D: La. on old U.S. maps: TERR. Territory.

23D: Bug in a colony: ANT. "Bug in a hive" would be BEE.

24D: "__ Said": Neil Diamond hit: I AM...I.: See this clip.

25D: Minimum-range tide: NEAP.

26D: March 15th, e.g.: IDES. In the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar, Caesar was told to "beware the ides of March". This foreshadowed his assassination by the senate.

27D: First of 13 Popes: LEO I. "Last of 13 Popes" would be LEO XIII.

30D: "___ Believes in Me": Kenny Rogers hit: SHE.

32D: Plaintiff: SUER. Fairly straightforward. In criminal law the plaintiff is the level government whose law you broke but in civil law the plaintiff is filing a lawsuit.

33D: Partner of turn: TOSS. You TOSS and turn when you can't sleep. I found the clues and fills starting to get a bit trickier at this point, which is fine.

35D: ___, vidi, vici: Caesar's boast: VENI. Another Julius Caesar reference. "I came, I saw, I conquered".

36D: Mountain goat's perch: CRAG.

39D: Words after Look, Ma: NO HANDS. Also, words before "Ow ow! My arm!"

41D: Way beyond pleasantly plump: OBESE. No comment.

42D: Prez on a penny: ABE. President Abraham Lincoln.

44D: Kind of electricity: STATIC. As opposed to electricity that flows in a current.

45D: Big name in garden care: ORTHO. Manufactured by the Scott's Miracle Gro Company. From the Greek word meaning "straight" or "correct".

46D: Rabbit look alikes: HARES. Rabbit. HARE. Frog. Toad. Turtle. Tortoise. Alligator. Crocodile.

47D: Smooths, as hair: IRONS. Also for getting wrinkles out of clothes.

49D: Tests by lifting: HEFTS. We've had that clue before.

53D: Greek "i": IOTA.

54D: Vintage jaguars: XKES.

56D: Planet: ORB. Poetically.

57D: Toy magnate ___ Schwarz: FAO. It's been a continuous tough struggle for this upscale toy store. Toys "R" Us just bought it a few months ago.

58D: Like cool cats: HEP.

Okay, so a lot of clues were fairly to very straightforward but, as far as I am concerned, that's a good thing. As a teacher, especially a teacher of English as a foreign language, I can't help but feel sympathetic to people non-native speakers of English, for example, who might find these clues hard enough to endure. I can pretty much guarantee that none of my students here would find this as easy as I did. Besides, there were words and names like ENID, OKAPI, AILEY, ORTHO and FAO that definitely needed perp help as well as words and names like ERTE, BOSC, NEAP and CRAG that are easy to us because we've seen them before in crossword puzzles. All in all then, I would consider this a fair test of one's Tuesday crossword puzzle solving ability.

Answer grid.

Martin

Sep 28, 2009

Monday September 28, 2009 Fred Jackson III

Theme: The theme isn't real.

17. Hobbes, to Calvin: IMAGINARY FRIEND

35. Ideal getaway: DREAM VACATION

53. Armchair quarterback's hobby: FANTASY FOOTBALL

Argyle here.

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

Across:

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

9. Vatican-related: PAPAL.

14. Like deserts: ARID.

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

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

20. Motel restriction: NO PETS.

21. T-bone, for one: STEAK.

22. Lock of hair: TRESS.

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

25. Opposite of "Huh?": AHA.

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

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

31. Nudge rudely: ELBOW.

33. Makes a long story short?: EDITS.

34. City leaders: MAYORS.

38. Taken care of: SEEN TO.

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

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

41. Obvious disdain: SCORN.

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

46. Coarse file: RASP.

47. Rub it in: GLOAT.

49. Key in the sea: ISLET.

52. Defective, as wiring: FAULTY.

58. Summoned the butler: RANG.

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

62. Between-your-toes grains: SAND.

Down:

2. Weapons storehouse: ARMORY.

3. Baby seat cover?: DIAPER.

4. Pieces jigsaw puzzlers usually start with: EDGES.

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

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

9. Peel, as a rind: PARE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

24. Inlaid designs: MOSAICS.

26. Traffic jam honker: HORN.

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

31. Persistently worrying: EATING AT.

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

33. Poetic dusks: EENS.

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

36. Draw inferences from: READ INTO.

37. Farm output: CROP.

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

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

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

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

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

48. Garage jobs: LUBES.

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

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

52. Stodgy old-timer: FOGY.

53. __ Four: Beatles: FAB. FABulous.

54. Every bit: ALL.

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

Answer grid.

Argyle

Jul 30, 2009

Thursday July 30, 2009 Fred Jackson III

Theme: Cover Letters

20A: Photographer of a letter? P(ea) SHOOTER

26A: Letter's rest period?: T(ea) BREAK

49A: Undercover operation to trap a letter?: B(ee) STING

56A: One who can't hold a letter?: I(eye) DROPPER

10D: Letter out for a stroll?: J(ay) WALKING

38D: Official in charge of a letter?: C(sea) CAPTAIN

Hmm, 6 theme entries, quite heavy. Fred must have sifted through a ton of theme candidates. I wonder if he considered any phrase with letter Q (cue) or Y (why).

B STING and J WALKING are so evocative. T BREAK is great too. Hot scone & strawberry jam & tea. Yum!

When I first saw the question mark after each "letter", I actually thought of landlord. You know, the one who lets. Someone asked on the blog last summer why RENT is clued as "Letter amount?".

Lovely puzzle. I still had to cheat, but I fared better than I did with last Thursday's Dan Naddor "Take Action" puzzle.

Across:

1A: [Snore]: HO-HUM. And BLAH (27D: Eliciting a "So what").

6A: Blow hard: HUFF. HUFF and puff.

10A: Singer Joan: JETT. Wrote down BAEZ first.

14A: Ex-TV host Stewart: ALANA. She co-hosted the "George & ALANA" show with her then husband George Hamilton. I only knew her as Rod Stewart's ex.

15A: River to the Mediterranean: EBRO. The Spanish river. ELBE, the Hamburg river, flows into the North Sea.

16A: Guitarist's effect: WAWA. No idea. Dictionary says it's some kind of muted guitar/trumpet effect.

17A: Hear again: RETRY. I don't get this one.

18A: Speed Wagons, e.g.: REOS

19A: Stress, it's said: AGER. Probably only in crossword world. Stress does age us faster.

22A: Flea market figure: SELLER. Wrote down DEALER first. They have 4 letters in common.

24A: Tops with cups: BRAS. Nailed it immediately. Quite a crossing with UNROBE (4D: Strip).

25A: Ready to collapse: RICKETY

29A: Old Mughal Empire capital: DELHI. It's the same place as New DELHI, correct?

30A: suffix with glob: ULE. A diminutive suffix.

31A: Blocks that lock: LEGOS

33A: At the ready: ON TAP

37A: Rash preventer: TALC. Thought of ALOE, which actually treats rather than prevents rash.

39A: Like some checking accounts: NO-FEE

41A: Nuts (over): GAGA

42A: Word before radio or wave: SHOCK. SHOCK radio = Howard Stern.

44A: "I dunno": GOT ME. NO IDEA won't fit.

46A: Mark, as a ballot: X IN. No abbreviation hint? For your information, XIN means "new" in Chinese. New Year is XIN Nian. Nian means "year".

47A: Shady retreat: ARBOR

51A: Crow relatives: MAGPIES

54A: Like Burbank City Hall, for short: DECO. Have never heard of Burbank City Hall before. It's in California.

55A: Respectful gesture: CURTSY

60A: "Bess, You is My Woman," e.g.: ARIA

61A: Muskogee's st.: OKLA. What is Muskogee famous for?

63A: Heavy herbivore: RHINO. Horny, horny. RHINO's horn is more valuable than gold.

64A: Suspense novelist Hoag: TAMI. Unknown figure to me. What does her neck scarf say?

66A: Country singer Tucker: TANYA. Jimbo, happy?

68A: Muchas horas: DIAS. Spanish for DAYS. "Muchas horas" is "Many hours". I pieced the answer together from Down fills.

69A: Rile (up): STEAM

Down:

1D: Dwell (on): HARP

2D: Cheers at some World Cup games: OLES

3D: "Hell __ no fury ...": HATH. "Hell HATH no fury like a woman scorned".

5D: Like some elections: MAYORAL. Wow, there is an adjective for mayor? I only know gubernatorial.

7D: Slangy prefix meaning "super": UBER

8D: One way to sway: FRO. To and FRO.

9D: Dig discovery: FOSSIL

11D: Apollo 11 module: EAGLE

12D: Twitter message: TWEET. Sarah Palin is a Twitterati (the Twitter elite).

13D: Linger: TARRY

21D: Unavailable: TAKEN. Directly above BEYOND (48D: Not within reach of).

23D: Return call?: ECHO. Good clue.

25D: Pedometer button: RESET

28D: Possible result of a job change, for short: RELO

29D: Attend of the needs of: DO FOR. The answer is often SEE TO.

32D: "We Got the Beat" band, with "The": GO-GO'S. Here is the clip. Both the band and the song are unfamiliar to me.

34D: Part of a pickup line?: TAXI. Great clue too.

35D: Opposin': AGIN. Against. Not "fer".

36D: Remorseful feeling: PANG

40D: Cookout remnant: EMBER

43D: Barbra's "A Star is Born" costar: KRIS (Kristofferson)

45D: Accompanists?: ESCORTS. Can you clue ABETTORS as "Accompanists?" also?

50D: Signature wear for Astair: TOP HAT. In his musical TOP HAT.

51D: Future docs' exams: MCATS (Medical College Admission Tests). I forgot.

52D: Surrounding glows: AURAE. The plural of aura can also be AURAS.

53D: Mr. Clean target: GRIME

54D: Times to attack: D-DAYS

56D: "Casablanca" role: ILSA. Hey, "Here's looking at you, kid", welcome back.

57D: Cabinet wood: PINE

58D: "Orinoco Flow" singer: ENYA. Simply beautiful.

59D: Itinerate: ROAM. I only know the noun itinerary. In fact, I misread the clue as "Iterate".

62D: Colorful carp: KOI. Some of the KOI can cost thousands of dollars.

Answer grid.

C.C.

May 26, 2009

Interview with Fred Jackson III

Today's My Fair Ladies in Broadway is our second Fred Jackson III puzzle since the LAT switch. Fred comments here on the blog occasionally and has provided valuable insights on the grid from a constructor's point of view.

Since Jan 2002, LA Times has published 25 of Fred's puzzles. He has also sold his work to Chicago Tribune, USA Today, New York Sun, Universal Crosswords, Games Magazine and Simon & Schuster Mega Crossword Puzzle Book.

It's enlightening to see how Fred worked out the 4 theme entries. And I love his answers on puzzle theme inspirations. Even if the universe provides me with similar gift in the middle of the night, I doubt I will get up and write it down. Too lazy.

How did today's theme come to you? And which theme answers/fills gave you the most trouble during construction?

I decided to do a theme based on the titles of Broadway shows, but I need a hook to tie them all together. I found a list of Broadway shows and noticed that several shows had a woman's name in the title. I said to myself "there's my hook!". I compiled a list of shows with women's names in the title somewhere and began the process of weeding them out until I came up with a workable set of theme answers. I don't remember any problems creating the fill, but this puzzle was originally submitted back in early February and now it's the end of May so a lot of small details are fuzzy.

Rich Norris liked the theme, but suggested I go one step further and only use titles where the women's names came at the end of the show title. So I had to throw out about half of my answers, such as "Irma La Douce". The new theme answers did not fit in with the original fill so I threw out 100% of the original fill and started over. Everything then had to be reclued and I sent off the revisions to Rich, which he accepted.

What is the most unforgettable puzzle you've constructed? What's the theme and why is it so special?

When I look back over my published puzzles I just see ways I could have done them better. I constantly work at improving my craft and what I'm doing now is usually an improvement over what I've done in the past. When I look at other constructor's puzzles I never see poor clueing or poor word choices like some others do. I look for what I can learn from that constructor's puzzle to improve myself. I just see the positive. My goal is too constantly get better and try new things. And Rich Norris has helped me greatly in improving my craft and I thank him for it.

Where do you get your puzzle inspirations? What kind of books/ magazines do you read?

Sometimes they come to me unbidden in the middle of the night as I am falling asleep. I get up immediately and write them down. Those usually always sell. I consider them a gift from the universe as I had nothing to do with thinking them up. It still takes a lot of work to develop them into a finished product. At times my wife, Martha, will present me with a good theme idea which I am able to convert into sales. My wife is very supportive of my hobby. I also get new theme ideas by going over old crossword puzzles or leafing through a dictionary. I call this priming the pump because it puts my mind in puzzle mode and new ideas eventually spring forth. I very seldom get an idea if I'm casually reading a non-puzzle related book or magazine for pleasure.

Who are your favorite constructors and why? Who gives you the most trouble?

I like the same names everyone else mentions when asked this question. I also like Ray Hamel, Lynn Lempel, Randall J. Hartman, Doug Peterson, Jack McInturff, and Alan Olschwang. I like puzzles that are fun to do and have a humorous element. Alan Olschwang always gives me a bit of trouble with his clever clueing and great fill words.

What is your background? What else do you do for fun?

I've been married to Martha for 37 years. We have two grown sons, Chris and Darren. I'm a retired sign maker for a city in Michigan.

For fun I like to go places with my wife, like going to museums, restaurants, or vacation trips. I like to listen to classical music, jazz, and classic rock. I like to read a lot, mostly science fiction. I collect old-time-radio shows from the 1930s and 40s, such as The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Jack Benny and Gunsmoke (it started out as a radio show before it went to TV). I collect movie serials from the 1930s and 1940s. I also love to watch baseball and football on TV. Go Detroit Tigers!

Tuesday May 26, 2009 Fred Jackson III

Theme: My Fair Ladies in Broadway

26A: 1948 Porter musical inspired by "The Taming of the Shrew": KISS ME, KATE

26A: 1925 musical that spawned the unsuccessful "Yes, Yes, Yvette": NO, NO, NANETTE

44A: 1953 musical with the song "No Other Love": ME AND JULIET

56A: 1964 musical starring Carol Channing: HELLO, DOLLY!

All above theme answers are musicals with lady's name at the end. Tight theme indeed.

I've never heard of "ME AND JULIET", and I always associated "HELLO, DOLLY" with Barbara Streisand.

I liked how ELFIN (29D: Fairylike) is centered in the middle of the grid, connecting two of the theme answers. Also loved how A ONE (59A: Excellent) crosses BEST (55D: Cream of the crop). The clue for LOCO (53D: Nuts or crackers?) drove me bananas. I just could not get snack out of my mind! Very clever.

This puzzle is quite scrabbly: 1 Z, 2 J's and 6 K's.

Across:

1A: Puzzle with blind alleys: MAZE. The most famous one is probably King Minos' huge MAZE to contain the monster Minotaur.

5A: Prepared, as hash: DICED

10A: Some blue birds: JAYS. Good morning. Any Blue JAYS fans? I just learned that no one has been inducted into Hall-of Fame in Blue JAYS uniform. How sad!

14A: "Tosca" tune: ARIA

15A: __ worse than death: A FATE. I did not know this euphemism phrase for rape. I wonder why Titian did not pick up another name for his "The rape of Europa" then (King Minos is the son of Zeus and Europa).

16A: Beekeeper played by Peter Fonda: ULEE

20A: Hose reaching to the patella: KNEE SOCK. I can't read her uniform. What does it say?

22A: Race of Norse gods: AESIR. They live in Asgard.

24A: 007 et al: Abbr.: AGTS. My favorite Bond movie is Casino Royale. What's yours?

30A: Auto speed letters: MPH. And GTOS (25D: Pontiac muscle car).

33A: One way to read: ALOUD. Wrote down SPEED first.

34A: Maned Oz visitor: LION. The Cowardly LION. Have not seen LAHR for a while.

35A: It's often framed: ART. Thought of PIX/PIC first.

36A: Make cents: MINT. I like this clue. Play on "Make sense".

37A: Lifts with effort: HEFTS

39A: Casanova: ROUE. Nailed it immediately. Dennis mentioned last time that Casanova wore condoms made of linen. RAKE anyone?

40A: First mother?: EVE. "First lady?", "First grandmother?", etc. You can't fool me any more.

41A: Atmospheric prefix: AERI

42A: Christmas song leapers: LORDS. From "The Twelve Days of Christmas". I got the answer from Down fills.

43A: Stage scenery: SET. Alliteration.

48A: Eye, in Paris: OEIL. Have to show Julian Beever's Trompe l'OEIL again. Amazing pavement work. No "Eye, in Aix" alliteration today.

49A: comparably large: AS BIG

52A: Fraternal group, familiarly: ELKS CLUB. Or is it ELKS' CLUB/ELK'S CLUB? I don't know how to spell it out.

60A: Furry "Star Wars" critter: EWOK

61A: Typeface type: ARIAL. Like this instead of this.

62A: Some watch faces: LCDS. What's the difference between LCD and plasma?

63A: Texting exchanges.: Abbr. : MSGS

64A: Wisdom unit?: PEARL. PEARLS of wisdom.

65A: Ill-gotten gains: LOOT

Down:

1D: Identity hider: MASK

3D: Fan mag. e.g.: ZINE. ZINE is short for fanzine. But now ZINE refers to any e-ZINE, right?

4D: Let go tactfully: EASED OUT. Have to be careful about the tense of Let.

5D: 1860s-'80s territory on the Canadian border: DAKOTA. Oh, I was not aware of this fact. They were admitted as two states in 1889.

6D: "...assuming it's doable": IF I CAN

7D: Port container: CASK. Port wine. Nice clue.

9D: Obama or FDR: DEM. The initial BHO simply just does not have the FDR/JFK feel, does it?

10D: Football feints: JUKES. No idea. What is a JUKE? Just learned several months ago that "Hockey feints" is DEKES.

11D: "Unhappily ...": ALAS

12D: Rumored Himalayan: YETI. Exactly. "Rumored".

13D: One dealing in futures?: SEER. Not the commodity futures. OK, here is the famous Rick Santalli "Rant of the Year". He is the "One dealing in futures" too, from the Chicago Board of Trade floor.

24D: Bickering: AT IT. I kept reading it as A TIT. Can you make a sentence for me?

26D: Tom, Dick and Harry, e.g.: NAMES

28D: Sextet plus three: NONET. Octet plus one. Whatever.

30D: Native New Zealander: MAORI. Literally "ordinary people".

31D: Fuddy-duddy: PRUDE

32D: Explosive '50s trial: H-TEST. At Bikini Atoll. I was stumped, thinking of some espionage trial. Funny how they named bikini swimsuit after this island.

37D: Obey: HEED. Are they really synonymous?

39D: Attendance check: ROLL CALL

41D: Cisco, to Pancho: AMIGO. I liked this new clue. "The Cisco Kid".

42D: Hall of Famer Aparicio: LUIS. He was inducted in 1984, in White Sox uniform. Any of you collect baseball cards?

45D: Register single: DOLLAR. D'oh! Cash register.

46D: Stevenson's ill-fated doctor: JEKYLL. What a perfect fill. Lots of consonants.

47D: Swindles: BILKS

50D: Puts in stitches: SEWS. So simple. I was thinking of the other "in stitches" meaning.

51D: Online journal: BLOG

54D: Reverse, on an edit menu: UNDO. You wouldn't believe it, but I wrote down STET first. What can I say? I am LOCO.

57D: Skip, as stones: DAP. Stumped last time when it's clued as "Fly-fishing action".

58D: Miners dig it: ORE. I dig this clue.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Apr 13, 2009

Monday April 13, 2009 Fred Jackson III

Theme: Gas Gauge

20A: Conceited: FULL OF ONESELF

38A: Plan not completely thought after: HALF-BAKED IDEA

57A: Much campaign rhetoric: EMPTY PROMISES

Ah, a puzzle from our own Fred Jackson III. What a pleasant Monday morning surprise! Congratulations, Fred.

This puzzle seems to be tailor-made for solvers at my level. No obscure dead actor/actress or old TV series name. Three lively theme answers. I really like 15*15 grids with 3 or 4 theme entries. My cup of tea. 5 makes the grid look busy. And weird abbreviations or obscure ESSY Persson style name tend to creep up when there are 6 or 7. Maybe advanced solvers adore them, I don't.

A bit of a French sub-theme:

19A: Parisian river: SEINE

30A: French love: AMOUR

69A: Canonized Mlles: STES

53D: Gallic girlfriends: AMIE

All of them are clued straightforwardly. No trickly "Parisian flower?" for SEINE misguide.

Across:

1A: Put below, as cargo: STOW. Why "below"? I don't grok it.

5A: Potentially painful precipitation: HAIL. Some flowers are surprisingly strong. ROSES (55D: Thorny flowers) are easily damaged by hailstorms.

9A: Treasure map measures: PACES. How come? I got the answer from down fills. I've never seen a treasure map. I suppose it has its own scale term?

15A: __ Domini: ANNO. AD. Nominative singular is ANNUS, and plural is ANNI (anniversary). This is confusing. Is ANNO in ANNO Domini dative singular or ablative singular?

18A: Composer Stravinsky: IGOR. Sometimes it's clued as "Operative prince". And IAGO (60D: "Othello" fellow). I used to confuse those two, both contains GO. And two ao in Golfer Isao Aoki's name.

23A: Brit. record label: EMI (Electric & Musical Industries Ltd.). Just found out this morning that the "Big Four" record companies are EMI, Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music.

24A: Former Egypt-Syria alliance: Abbr.: UAR (United Arab Republic, 1958-1961). Egypt continued to be called UAR until 1971. So Nasser was the president of UAR until his death in 1970. Don't confuse UAR with UAE (United Arab Emirates). Still remember the UAE Dubai port scandal?

25A: Beers and ales: QUAFFS. I thought ale is a kind of beer.

33A: Last: Abbr.: ULT

37A: Scott who sued for his freedom: DRED. And he lost. I finally remember his name this time.

42A: Suffix with hard or soft: WARE. My first thought is BALL.

43A: Seashell seller, in a tongue twister: SHE. I am not good at tongue twister, English or Chinese. Are you?

44A: Retirement org.: SSA. And "Seniors' org" is AARP. Many AARP members are not retired.

45A: "Slippery" tree: ELM. Easy guess. Why is it called "Slippery ELM"?

46A: Archaeological fragment: SHARD. I think the broken piece of my bobblehead is called SHARD too.

48A: Like some poetry: LYRIC. Some are EPIC.

52A: Prefix with sphere: STRATO. ATMO is also "prefix with sphere".

56A: "Foucault's Pendulum" author Umberto: ECO. Here is the bookcover. Wikipedia says the book has been described as a "thinking person's Da Vinci Code". I can't remember who, but one of our fellow solvers has read his "The Name of the Rose".

61A: Count with a keyboard: BASIE. Stumper for me. I can't figure out how one can count with a keyboard. Have never heard of Count BASIE. Is this nickname Count inspired by Duke Ellington?

63A: Warts and all: AS IS

65A: Group of eight: OCTET. Sometimes the answer is OCTAD.

66A: Stroll in the shallows: WADE. I kept reading the clue as "Stroll in the shadows".

67A: Head over heels in love: GAGA. I like this clue.

68A: Out of fashion: PASSE. Does Britney look sexy to you in this low-rise jeans?

Down:

1D: Fixed charge: SET FEE

2D: Psychological injury: TRAUMA. Like what we suffered during Chinese Cultural Revolution.

3D: Like many old-fashioned lamps: OIL-LIT. Aladdin's genie lamp is OIL-LIT.

4D: Wishing place: WELL. Odin traded his right eye for wisdom from the WELL of Mimir.

5D: Israeli port city: HAIFA. Here is the map. Third largest city in Israel, after Jerusalem & Tel Aviv.

9D: Charlatan: POSEUR

10D: Journalist __ Rogers St. Johns: ADELA. Learned her name from doing crossword. I don't understand how anyone can be surnamed St. Johns. Also at a loss over Edna St. Vincent Millay's name. How can they call themselves St? By the way, Fred Astaire's sister is ADELE, very close to ADELA.

11D: Hairdo: COIFFURE. Used to have difficulty rememering this word. Then I realized coif is the root, and ure is just a noun suffix, as in pressure.

21D: Words before sight and mind: OUT OF

26D: Dog collar target: FLEA. No idea. Why? I am not a dog/cat person. I thought the dog collar is used to control and restrain dogs.

27D: Benchmark: Abbr.: STD

29D: Dot on an ocean map: ISLE. "Dot in la mer" will be ILE.

35D: Air rifle ammo: BB SHOT. Will BB gun kill a squirrel?

38D: "Stop right there!": HALT. "Stop right here!" would be WHOA, right?

41D: Faith of more than 1 billion: ISLAM. Oh, that's a lot. Here is more information. There are about 2.1 billion people of Christian faith. That's about 1/3 of the world population. ISLAM literally means "submission" (to God).

42D: Craven of Horror: WES. The director of "A Nightmare on Elm Street".

46D: Tampa neighbor, briefly: ST. PETE. Wikipedia says it's nicknamed "The Sunshine City" because it has some 360 days of sunshine every year. Is it true? I find it hard to believe.

47D: Pooh-pooh: DERIDE

49D: Shoot again: RESNAP

51D: Marquee name, often: CO-STAR. Spencer Tracy received top billings in all the movies he co-starred with Katharine Hepburn.

58D: Swerves at sea: YAWS. "Swerves in the air" too. Someone please give me a lesson today. I can never remember the differences among roll, pitch and YAW. I do know Dennis's thrust though.

59D: Juniors' H.S. exam: PSAT (Preliminary SAT). Oh, I don't know it's for juniors only. How about LSAT? Are juniors allowed to take it also?

61D: '40 jazz: BOP. Did not know BOP was developed in the '40. I thought it existed in '20 already.

62D: Here, in Spain: ACA. Mine was ICA. Don't speak Spanish. I thought if French is ICI, why not ICA for Spanish?

Answer grid.

C.C.