Showing posts with label John Underwood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Underwood. Show all posts

Feb 6, 2009

Friday February 6, 2009 John Underwood

Theme: KNOT (69A: Tie tie)

20A: Green apple: GRANNY SMITH

31A: Step down: BOW OUT

37A: British royal residence: WINDSOR CASTLE

43A: Get it wrong: SLIP UP

57A: Geometric choreography?: SQUARE DANCE

I was not familiar with either GRANNY KNOT or SQUARE KNOT. So I had difficulty tying, or rather untying, the constructor's knotty knots. Took me a long time to figure out what his theme is.

Always thought the "British royal residence" is Windsor Palace.

Nice, scrabbly puzzle, with expensive letters like X, Q and J. As NCAA is the answer for 35D: Final Four letters, so the clue for ATH (56A: NCAA word) should definitely be changed into "Sports fig." or something else. Come visit the Comments section and tell us how you would clue ATH.


1A: Cloth belt: SASH. Here is a SASH KNOT.

5A: Man with ladder: JACOB. Faintly remember JACOB's LADDER story. Do you know if Job's Tears have any Biblical reference? They are supposed to be good for your skin. Too insipid for my taste though.

10A: Rue the aerobics: ACHE. Nice change from the old "Sore spot" or "Masseuse's target".

15A: Sunshine State city: OCALA. Is it really the "Horse Capital of the World"? Not Lexington, KY?

19A: Director Gus Van __: SANT. Liked "Good Will Hunting", did not know Gus Van SANT was the director. His recent film is "Milk", which nabbed 8 Oscar nominatons this year, including Best Picture.

23A: Baseball scoreboard trio: RHE. Runs, Hits & Errors.

27A: C.I.A. forerunner: OSS. I mentioned yesterday about my confusion over Michael Hayden still being Obama's CIA Director. Had forgotten all about Leon Panetta until someone emailed me about his Senate confirmation hearing yesterday. Strange to have a guy without any intelligence background as CIA head. Tough guy though. Monica Lewinsky hated him.

31A: Step down: BOW OUT. Brought to mind Tom Daschle's sudden withdrawal of his nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Jaw-dropping amount of "consulting" income.

41A: Interferometer instrument: AERI. Got the answer from down fills. Have never heard of Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer. It measures "the absolute infrared spectral radiance (watts per square meter per steradian per wavenumber) of the sky directly above the instrument". Too abstract for me. I doubt this is Underwood's original clue.

46A: Part of R.S.A.: AFR. RSA is Republic of South Africa.

47A: Govt. bookkeepers: GAO. Oh, I always thought it stands for General Accounting Office. Turns out that the name was changed into Government Accountability Office in 2004.

65A: Pathogenic bacteria: ECOLI. The "Deadly African virus" is EBOLA. And Carlo Levi's book is titled "Christ Stopped at EBOLI".


2D: Oldsmobile models: ALERO. Why did they name the model ALERO? Is it a Greek/Roman god or something?

5D: Young kangaroo: JOEY. Have seen this clue too many times to be stumped.

8D: Acid in soap: OLEIC. Wikipedia says "OLEIC acid makes up 55-80% of olive oil".

11D: Shade of gray: CHARCOAL. Young girls probably like the frayed hem in this CHARCOAL mini-skirt.

38D: Dublin dudes: IRISHMEN. Nice alliteration. And EIRE (66A: Dublin's land). Now our blog needs a Scottish solver. We already have an Irish, a British and a Welsh.

40D: Valuable fiddle: STRAD. OK, here again is Joshua Bell's famous DC Metro rush hour incognito experiment. He and $3.5 million STRAD collected a total of $32 from over 1,000 passers-by.

48D: Famed jockey Eddie: ARCARO. The only guy to have won Triple Crown twice. Amazing. That's a strange photo. According to this list, he was not the jockey of Assault. He rode Whirlaway and Citation.

55D: "R.U.R."playwright: CAPEK (Karel). The inventor of the word "robot" (1921). Often see RUR clued as "Capek play".


Jan 12, 2009

Monday January 12, 2009 John Underwood

Theme: OPERA (52D: Highbrow entertainment)

10A: Berg opera: LULU

20A: Gounod opera: FAUST

26A: Bizet opera: CARMEN

41A: Puccini opera: MADAMA BUTTERFLY

51A: Strauss opera: SALOME

63A: Bellini opera: NORMA

71A: Verdi opera: AIDA

Well, I've only heard of CARMEN, AIDA and MADAMA BUTTERFLY. Actually, I thought it's MADAME. Nevertheless, I still got all the opera names sans cheating. The intersecting clues certainly helped.

John Underwood always amazes me with his theme ideas, so simple and original. Interesting how he could turn LULU into a "Berg opera". I wonder if he is a real opera fan or just constructed this puzzle with some research.


5A: Laminated rock: SHALE. Here are some SHALE rocks. Wikipedia says it's the most common sedimentary rock.

15A: "Rodeo" composer Copland: AARON. Have never heard of "Rodeo", the so-called "cowboy ballet".

16A: Genesis character: ENOS. Adam's grandson. Sometimes it's clued as "Slaughter of Cooperstown". This name Slaughter sounds very menacing. My husband told me our surname Burnikel means "Don't kill the child" in Viking language. Does your family name carry any special meaning also?

17A: Tolkien creatures: ORCS. The baddies. ENTS are those talking trees. Learned from doing Xword of course.

40A: Ottoman official: AGA. Can also be spelled as AGHA.

62A: Shakespearean curse: POX. Oh, so that's how Shakespeare cursed. Is it like our "damned"?

64A: Egyptian cross: ANKH. Is that the sun god Ra at the bottom of this gold ANKH? This word is very close to SIKH in spelling.


2D: Hebrew scroll: TORAH. How is it different from Talmud?

4D: University of Montana city: MISSOULA. See this map. I got it from the across fills. Wikipedia says Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress, was born and grew up here. In fact, she attended the University of Montana. And to this day, she is the only woman to be elected to Congress from that state. What's the matter with Montana then? Is it a red state?

11D: Early computer OS: UNIX. How "Early"?

26D: Trophy shelf: MANTEL. I always confuse MANTEL with the "loose cape" Mantle. I wonder how many of those Mickey Mantle fans made mistakes spelling his name when they asked for his autograph via mails.

43D: Inflated language: RHETORIC. Bacon once said: Histories make men wise; poet, witty; mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and RHETORIC, able to contend.

53D: Virtuous: MORAL. Do you know why Bacon said "moral, grave"?

59D: First name in spy: MATA. MATA Hari. She looks so exotic.

60D: Letters on a cross: INRI. Abbreviation of Latin "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum". Funny how letter I became letter J.

66D: Casablanca cap: FEZ. It's called tarboosh in Egypt. Most of them seem to be in red color.


Dec 23, 2008

Tuesday December 23, 2008 John Underwood

Theme: Hollywood Actor Brothers

20A: Brothers Jeff and Beau: BRIDGES

22A: Brothers John and James: BELUSHI

39A: Brothers River and Joaquin: PHOENIX

56A: Brothers Ben and Casey: AFFLECK

59A: Brothers Alec, William et al.: BALDWIN

25D: Brothers Emilio and Carlos, a.k.a. Charles Sheen: ESTEVEZ

I am a bit confused by the clues. If it's "Brothers Ben and Casey", shouldn't the answer be plural form AFFLECKS?

I had absolutely zero familarity with the name PHOENIX. I watched and enjoyed Coen brother's "The Big Lebowski", but I did not know that Jeff BRIDGES was the guy who played "the Dude".

When you highlight all the six theme answers of this puzzle, the grid looks quite pretty, with ESTEVEZ crossing PHOENIX.

Why is the clue for "ONE L" (36D: S. Turow book) abbreviated? It's the original title of Scott Turow's book. If it were clued as "First year law student" related, then there should be an abbreviation hint.

Did you like the clue for AIMER (54D: Target sighter)? I would prefer a nice and romantic "To Love, in Paris" clue. It's so cold everywhere, hope this hot & sexy "Je t'aime... moi no plus" warm you up.


1A: Lead balloons: BOMBS

6A: NYC theatrical award: OBIE. No hesitation between TONY and OBIE this morning as I got the intersecting ODDS (6D: Track figures) immediately.

14A: To pieces: APART. Alright then, I love you APART. Hmm, it does not make sense. I guess I love you only "To pieces".

17A: Anatomical networks: RETIA. I only knew the singular form RETE.

24A: Birth-control pioneer: SANGER (Margaret). See here for more information. New name to me also.

28A: Writer Greene: GRAHAM. Knew his name. Have never read his books.

35A: Roman orator: CATO. "The Elder" ("The Censor") or "The Younger"? Wikipedia says The CATO Institute is named after CATO the Younger.

37A: Prince Valiant's wife: ALETA. See this list of all the characters. "Prince Valiant's son" is ARN. Both appeared in our puzzle before.

44A: Cinematographer Nykvist: SVEN. Unknown to me. I do like "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", but I've never paid attention to who the cinematographer is. Wikipedia says he "worked on over 120 films, but is known especially for his work with director Ingmar Bergman". He won 2 Oscars.

50A: Polish coin: GROSZ. No idea. GROSZ is 100th of a ZLOTY, which appeared in our puzzle a few days ago.

61A: Dublin's land: EIRE

63A: "Battlestar Galactica" role: ADAMA. Unknown to me. ADAMA is derived from ancient Greek "adamas" meaning "invincible".

64A: Rugged rock: CRAG. Looks too steep to climb.


2D: Puccini work: OPERA. "Tosca" doesn't fit. But it has 5-letter too.

3D: Metz morning: MATIN. Beautiful "Chanson de MATIN" clip.

4D: Female Fonda: BRIDGET. Is "Female" a wordplay on her movie "Single White Female"?

8D: Pitcher Hideki: IRABU. Former pitcher to be exact. His card is not worth much. Interesting, I did not know that Yankees fans called him "I rob you". That's a great play on his name I RAB U.

9D: Sportscaster Dick: ENBERG. "Oh My!". I do live under the rock. Have never heard of this guy before.

21D: Writer Segal: ERICH. I can never remember this author's name. How to pronounce ERICH? Like Eric? "Love Story" is so moving.

23D: Dr. Seuss book (with "The"): LORAX. No idea. What does "The LORAX" mean? Another whimisically made-up word?

32D: Newtons' filler: FIGS. Good clue.

39D: Chaplain: PADRE. It's "Military chaplain", isn't it?

43D: Angled fairways: DOGLEGS. OK, this hole doglegs to the left. I bet there are waters on the left so hookers will have trouble finding their balls. Most of my friends are slicers. I wish I knew how to fade/draw.

45D: Singer Mercury: FREDDIE. Foreign to me. I googled his name and found out that he wrote "We Are the Champions". I seem to remember that Josh Groban covered that song also, but I couldn't find it in the YouTube. Anyway, I love, love "You Raise Me Up", so good.

47D: Mammalian epoch: EOCENE. Would not have got it had I not cheated on the crossing GROSZ. Boy, my memory really sucks. We just had this word a week ago.

49D: Mercedes-Benz model: E-CLASS. E stands for "Einspritzung", German for "fuel injection", says Wikipedia. I've never heard of it before.

53D: Bob Hope film, "Call me__": BWANA. Learned this film from doing crossword. Swahili for "our father".

59D: __ noire: BETE. What, a kind of cake also? Doesn't sound appealing, does it? I would try it if it were called BELLA noire.


Nov 18, 2008

Tuesday November 18, 2008 John Underwood

Theme: America's Major Wars

20A: Conflict ended 11/11/18: WORLD WAR ONE

37A: Conflict ended 2/28/91: GULF WAR

51A: Conflict ended 9/2/45: WORLD WAR TWO

11D: Conflict ended 2/2/1848: MEXICAN WAR

28D: Conflict ended 4/30/75: VIETNAM WAR

I think this puzzle was intended for last Tuesday. I also think that the original clue for NOVEMBER (11D: Election month) is "Veterans Day month".

Revolutionary War has 16 letters, so it won't fit in a 15*15 grid. Civil War and Korean War have different number of letters, and there is no way they can be put in the grid symmetrically. I wonder if John Understood has considered IRAQ WAR for 37A to add some scrabbliness to his puzzle. It also has an odd number of letter, which is perfect for a center theme fill.

Because SEATS is the answer for 64A: Places at the tables, the clues for ROW (57A: Line of seat) and SADDLE (5D: Bike seat) definitely need to be changed.

I don't think I could finish this puzzle without the theme answer help today. Some of the fills were very obscure to me: LIVIA, IVOR, INO, AMON, JABBA, ALIDA, ADARE and YONNE. Oh, I've never heard of HI HO crackers either.


1A: Handmade weapons: SHIVS. Did you see "In Cold Blood"?

2A: Black-eyed or lazy girl?: SUSAN. Can you think of a clever way to clue Brooke Shields' "Suddenly SUSAN"?

14A: Durrell novel: LIVIA. I doubt this novel LIVIA is a gimme for anyone.

16A: "__ tu" (Verdi aria): ERI. Here is a clip. I got from the down fills. What's the meaning of "ERI tu"?

17A: Get __ of yourself: A HOLD. I wonder why ADARE (62A: Antarctic cape) is not clued as a partial fill as well, you know, "On A DARE". I am not familiar with Cape ADARE.

22A: Daughter of Cadmus: INO. Is it pronounced the same as "I know"? Have never heard of INO or Cadmus.

23A: Valli of "The Third Man": ALIDA. See this poster. Why is her name incomplete?

29A: Fat Hutt: JABBA. I obtained his name from the adjacent fills. Not a "Star Wars" fan. Eek, he is ugly.

40A: Former Dodges: INTREPIDS. Why "Former"?

44A: Makes a basket: SCORES. I was picturing a handmade basket rather than the basketball basket.

59A: Eye shade?: VISOR. I like this clue.

61A:Burgundy river: YONNE. See this map. I don't think even Carla Bruni knows this river, unless her husband desperately needs the votes in the YONNE Department.


2D: Brand of crackers: HI HO. Have never heard of HI HO crackers before. I can only think of Ritz, which is also 4-letter. By the way, we call crackers "biscuits" in China.

3D: Welsh actor Novello: IVOR. I googled his name. He appeared in our puzzle before.

4D: Bad guy: VILLAIN

8D: Pudding starch: SAGO. Want some?

9D: Egyptian fertility god: AMON. Also spelled as AMEN, AMUN. I would not have got this god without the across fills. Isn't BAAL "God of fertility" also? We just had ASTARTE (clued as "Ancient Fertility goddess") the other day. ASTARTE = Ishtar.

21D: Wag of the tongue: WIT. Mine was WET. I did not know that "wag" can mean "a humorous person".

33D: Old postal abbr.: RFD (Rural Free Delivery). Learned from doing Xword.

42D: Thrill trip: JOYRIDE. Is "joyrider" a word?

45D: Fancy tie: CRAVAT. From French cravate I suppose.

46D: Column style: DORIC. Ionic is also 5-letter.


Oct 28, 2008

Tuesday October 28, 2008 John Underwood

Theme: Echo Words

17A: Lacking in decisiveness: WISHY-WASHY

62A: Bit of whatnot: KNICKKNACK

11D: Drag one's feet: DILLY-DALLY

28D: Travel back and forth: CRISSCROSS

I think ZIGZAG (39A: With 40A, sharp turn: ZIG & 40A: See 39A: ZAG) and TIPTOP (24D: With 44D: first-rate: TIP & 44D: See 24D: TOP) should be counted as part of the theme answers, even though they are broken (so artfully). I feel that lots of thoughts were given to the grid construction.

Here is a wonderful link on reduplicatives. Flip-flop, riff-raff and chitchat all sound appealing to me.

Great puzzle. Fantastic clue for TKOS (60D: Match ends?). I dislike the clue for SIZE (30D: XL, XXL or XXXL). Why all big sizes?


1A: "12 Angry Men" director Sidney: LUMET. Have never watched "12 Angry Men". I wonder why "Eight Men Out" is not "8 Men Out".

6A: Sharp, localized pain: STAB. Why "localized"?

10A: Picked from a lineup: IDED

25A: "Family Ties" mother: ELYSE. I googled. Looks like a fun show.

29A: Aquatic crustacean: ISOPOD. New word to me. Dictionary says they have 7 pairs of legs. Are they edible?

33A: Plunder: RAPINE. This is a new word to me also. The root of this word reminds me of canola oil, which is extracted from rapeseed. Canola stands for Can(ada) o(il) l(ow) a(cid).

35A: Latin primer word: AMO. AMO, amas, amat.

45A: Miss in Fr.: MLLE. Have you seen "Mon père, ce héros"? This is a remake "My Father the Hero". Katherine Heigl was 14 when she appeared in the movie. Very sexy bathing suit, isn't it?

46A: Artist Botticelli: SANDRO. I did not know his given name. See his "Birth of Venus".

54A: Pointer, for one: BIRD DOG. Do you like Everly Brother's "BIRD DOG"? I like their "Bye Bye Love".


5D: President after Polk: TAYLOR. Polk's middle inital K stands for KNOX.

8D: Wiesbaden wails: ACHS. See this ACH list. ACH so!

9D: Evan from Indiana: BAYH. I can never remember how to spell Senator BAYH's name. He was on Obama's VP search list.

10D: Philippines port: ILOILO. No idea. It's also the capital city of ILOILO Province. It's so named because of its nose-like shape. "Nose" is "ilong" in local Illonggo languag. See this map. It is known also for its "raw-silk and pineapple-fiber fabrics".

31D: Son of Judah: ONAN. Learned from doing Xword.

34D: Antiquing element: AGER. I don't understand this. What is AGER?

36D: Bamako's land: MALI. Ah, Ali Farka Touré's land. Wonderful "Diaraby".

45D: "Vogue" singer: MADONNA. I guessed. I've never heard of "Vogue" before. She is divorcing Guy Ritchie.

48D: Livened (up): PERKED


Sep 30, 2008

Tuesday September 30, 2008 John Underwood

Theme: Fruity Places

17A: Colorado site of three U. S. Opens: CHERRY HILLS

24A: Miami neighborhood: COCONUT GROVE

36A: Atlanta's main drag: PEACHTREE STREET

48A: Santa Ana, CA location: ORANGE COUNTY

58A: Roy and Dale's California town: APPLE VALLEY

COCONUT is not a fruit. It's a nut, isn't it? Such high fat content. I've never been fond of raw COCONUT milk or COCONUT meat. Always bake them first.

I liked this puzzle very much, so fresh, fruity and sweet. I still can not grok Norma Steinberg's choice of CLANG CLANG CLANG as a theme answer yesterday. I know it's trolley sound, but really it does not fit the other 2 theme entry pattern, unless I completely misread her mind.

I also liked how DECKS (1D: Ship's floor) intersects KOS (20A: Bout enders). I wonder what John Underwood's original clue is for DECKS, since it can also mean "Knocks down". The clue for SKILLET (46A: Cast-iron pan) is simply wrong. He probably never cooks.


1A: Thingamajig: DOODAD. I wonder if anyone has constructed a "Gizmo" themed puzzle. It would be very scrabbly.

11A: Canine grp.: AKC (American Kennel Club). I just learned that except Kenturky Derby (first held in 1875), no other continuously held sporting event in the US is older than Westminster show (1877).

14A: Bakery treat: ECLAIR. Decadent and delicious.

15A: Temple, ancient: NAOS. Greek for "temple". "Cella" for the Romans. I've never heard of it before. I suppose you can call Temple of Applo a NAOS. I wonder what is the diameter of those great columns.

31A: So I think, online: IMO. This is an excellent acronyms list. Thx, Clear Ayes.

27A: Gordon and Sheila: MACRAES. I got it from the down fills. Know neither of them.

32A: "And I love ___": HER. Here is the song. Does "HER" refer to Yoko Ono?

43A: Zigzag: WEAVE. They are not really synonymous, are they?

52A: Paid male date: GIGOLO. "American GIGOLO" is the first Richard Gere movie I saw.

62A: Tours season: ETE. Here is a map, see where Tours is? I like this clue.


2D: Cinco y tres: OCHO That will be "HUIT" in Tours.

4D: __ es Salaam: DAR. No idea. It's the largest city in Tanzania.

5D: Jordan's nickname: AIR. Always thought it's "AIR Jordan" altogether, not AIR alone.

6D: Solid carbon dioxide: DRY ICE

7D: Vidalia veggie: ONION. Nice gift box.

9D: Cell phone clip-ons: HOLSTERS. Here?

12D: City on the Vyatka River: KIROV. Foreign to me. See this map. Lots of "oblast", what does it mean? Province?

13D: __ de menthe: CREME. But I want some CREME brûlée, and this, and this. Je te veux, que je t'adore.

29D: Hammer end: CLAW. Seattle John said last time that the CLAW "is not technically an end of a hammer. It is an end of the hammer poll. A hammer has two parts - the handle and the poll. The poll is commonly called the hammer head. The poll has two ends - the face and the peen. The face obviously is the flat end for pounding things. The peen can take on various shapes depending on the hammer's intended use. The most common shapes are ball and claw. A ball peen hammer is used for forging materials and a claw peen hammer can be used for prying things like extracting nails."

34D: Campbell of "Scream": NEVE. I've never seen "Scream". I liked her Julia role on "Party of Five".

38D: Recruiting grp.: ROTC. Really?

39D: Piccadilly dilly: TWIT. I don't understand this one. What is "Piccadilly dilly"?

45D: Crazy Horse, for one: OGLALA

46D: Operatic spear carrier: SUPE. I did not know the meaning of "operatic spear carrier".

47D: Jacks: KNAVES. This answer did not come easily to me at all.

48D: Eyeballed: OGLED. I always thought of "eyeball" as "roughly measure something", as Rachel Ray often does.

51D: Tiny hooter: OWLET. Look at this lovely saw-whet, the smallest owl according to Kit.

55D: Unskilled toiler: PEON. So close to PEONY.

59D: Free ad: PSA (Public Service Announcement).


Jul 7, 2008

Monday July 7, 2008 John Underwood

Theme: Special K ( O"K"?)

17A: Shoe-banging Russian leader: KHRUSHCHEV

40A: African-American festival: KWANZAA

64A: Superman's bane: KRYPTONITE

11D: More clumsy than anyone: KLUTZIEST

35D: Fruits of education: KNOWLEDGE

And more K's in the grid:

1A: "___ Sutra": KAMA. Hmm, the art of positions... KAMA is Hindu god of love and erotic desire.

10A: 32-card game: SKAT

21A: Stan's "South Park" pal: KYLE. Learned his name from doing Xword.

33A: Encrusted: CAKY

49A: Is missing: LACKS

1D: Pal of Fran and Ollie: KUKLA. Again, learned this name from the OLLIE binge 2 weeks ago.

6D: Sennett of Keystone Cops: MACK. I've never heard of him or the film before. Only know Baseball HOFer Connie MACK. Is that an Old Judge card?

40D: "Show Boat" composer: KERN (Jerome). Stumper for me. Here is Julie Andrews' "The Last Time I Saw Paris", also composed by KERN.

48D: One on a quest: SEEKER

50D: __ Sabe: KEMO. The Lone Ranger.

I also like the "K" clue in SHELF ( 8D: Knickknack spot), hate the "K" clue in ACUTELY (4D: Keenly) due to the "ly" double appearances. I think the constructor missed his chance to put another "K" for RIAL (58D: Iranian cash). "Khamenei's cash" would work perfectly, right?

I wonder if Underwood is a Duke graduate. Is this a tribute to "Coach K" or what? Anyway, there is some precious joy at my Mudville today, I did not completely strike out. Got "K"illed only at the KERN (48D) & TOWERS corner. I do think I will skip my banana today, too much potassium (K) intake from the puzzle already.


14A: Summer Games org. U.S.O.C. (United States Olympic Committee). I don't think I would have got it without crossing references.

15A: Hidden hoard: CACHE

16A: What you are reading now: CLUE. Perfect CLUE.

20A: Slow, musically: LENTO. What is opposite of LENTO?

22A: Envelope abbr.: ATTN (Attention). French is the same.

25A: On the ___ (broken): FRITZ. Fritz LEIBER (the fantasy author) appeared on a May TMS puzzle before.

30A: Live oak: ENCINA. New word to me. Pieced it together from the down clues.

47A: Cleese sitcom, "Fawlty ___": TOWERS. Not familiar with this sitcom or the actor Cleese at all. The clue read "Cheese sitcom" to me for a long time.

53A: Hunt and Reddy: HELENS. Know Hunt ("Mad about You"), not Reddy.

59A: Omar of "House": EPPS. He was also in Jude Law's "Alfie".

62A: Frenzied: MANIC

69A: Bob or dog vehicle: SLED

70A: Thin-voiced: REEDY. This refers to the sound of woodwind instruments, not the singer's voice, right?


3D: Day breaks: MORNS. And AROSE (43A: Cropped up). Wish it were clued as "Greeted the day".

5D: Wiesbaden wail: ACH. That's German for DARN (68A: Phooey!), isn't it?

9D: Forbidding: SEVERE

10D: Remove from competition: SCRATCH. Poor "Casino Drive"!

12D: Em in Kansas: AUNT. Dorothy's AUTIE Em in "The Wizard of Oz". Does anyone own a Frank Mint Autie Em doll? Does yours have the original chickens in the basket? See also 39D: Fowl females: HEN. And 36A: Relative of -ess or trix: ENNE (Feminine suffix). I like the girl power in this grid.

18D: Sect of Zen Buddhism: SOTO. No, not familiar with this sect at all. Look at this SOTO monk. So serene.

24D: Mutton dish: STEW. In which country?

31D: Without ice: NEAT

34D: Saab model: AERO. I've got no idea. I think I am used to the "Aviation prefix" clue.

37D: Poet Pound: EZRA

44D: Sushi Wrap: SEAWEED. Not a very accurate clue, sushi is wrapped in NORI, and NORI only. It would become inedible were it wrapped in KOMBU (Japanese for KELP), which is only used as a stock base for the vegetarian miso soup. The last kind of SEAWEED is called WAKAME, which tastes great both in soup and salad.

52D: Shopping bender: SPREE

54D: Early computer: ENIAC (Electronic Numeral Integrator And Computer)

57D: Cornfield cries: CAWS

60D: Gomer of Mayberry: PYLE. This once-obscure name has become a gimme for me now.

61D: Burned rubber: SPED

65D: Give it a go: TRY. "TRY me, TRY me..."


Jul 4, 2008

Friday July 4, 2008 John Underwood

Theme: INDEPENDENCE DAY (17A: Today)

27A: Today's celebrant: THE UNITED STATES

46A: Today's colors: RED WHITE AND BLUE

61A: Today's song: GOD BLESS AMERICA

Were John Underwood a woman, I would shout "BRAVA" (16A) to him for this great puzzle. Wow, look at those 15-letter theme answers running through the grid, amazing!

Both OBSERVE (45D: Keep an eye on) and TGIF (52D: End-of-the-week cheer) are brilliant answers for today in my opinion. And Shish KEBAB (57A: Food on a stick) is an ideal grilled dish to be served on the 4th of July. Large shrimps, bell pepper cubes & chunks of fresh pineapple on a skewer, hmmm, delicious!

It's also nice to see both MOM (63D: May honoree) and DAD (23A: Father) appear in the same grid, but why DAD is not clued as "June honoree"? I like the way FREEMAN intersects INDEPENDENCE DAY, and BAD IDEA (7D: I wouldn't, if I were you) balances out WE'LL SEE (44D). Very nice.

I hate the clues for OATS (45A: Feedbag contents) due to FEEDS (67A: Flows into) and BIEN (58D: Well in France) because of WE'LL SEE (44D). "Très BIEN" would be parfait!

New words/names to me today: ELISA, ARPEL, BRAVA, ERI TU & RAYE.


1A: Normandy town: ST. LO. Reagan's (or rather Peggy Noonan's) patriotic masterpiece D-Day "The Boys of Pointe du Hoc" speech popped into my mind earlier this morning: "...These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war..." Look, Pointe du Hoc is so close to ST. LO & Caen.

14A: Dnieper port: KIEV. I've never heard of the Dnieper River before. But KIEV is easily obtainable here.

15A: Gentleman caller: BEAU. I don't get this one. "Caller", what does that mean? (Update later: "Gentleman caller" is "an old-fashioned term for boyfriend").

16A: Soprano's accolade: BRAVA. New to me, I always thought the exclamation "Bravo" applies to both male and female.

20A: Wisdom unit?: PEARL. PEARL of Wisdom. Bernard-Henri Lévy had a very interesting take on "Who killed Daniel PEARL?". Lévy's "J'accuse" sometimes can be very overwhelming.

21A: Queen of Carthage: DIDO. Same clue on June 9 puzzle. Here is DIDO & Youssou N'Dour's Live 8 (2005) "Thank you".

22A: Slack off: EASE. The opposite of yesterday's "MAL dans sa peau" (Ill at EASE) is "BIEN (58D) dans sa peau".

37A: Permission doc.: LIC (License). I was misled into thinking of some doctor rather than document.

42A: Immunoassay diagnostic: ELISA ( Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay). Absolutely no idea. What an intimidating clue! If ELISA is an acronym, why there is no hint in the clue?

50A: Adrien of cosmetics: ARPEL. I am not familiar with this brand or the person at all. Pieced the answer together from down clues.

51A: Greek letters: XIS

69A: Tight positions?: ENDS. I like how this answer ENDS the grid.


3D: Swan's mate of myth: LEDA. Mother of Helen of Troy.

4D: Outstanding: OVERDUE

8D: Made to resemble nappy leather: SUEDED. Did not know that SUEDE can also be a verb.

10D: Actor Morgan: FREEMAN. My favorite FREEMAN movie is "The Shawshank Redemption". What's yours? Oh, I also like his "Million Dollar Baby" and "March of the Penguins".

13D: "Big Mouth" Martha: RAYE. I filled in ROYE as I got BRAVO for 16A. I sure have difficulty remembering her name. Why was she called "Big Mouth" Martha? I want a Big Bertha.

27D: 10th President: TYLER (John). I tend to confuse him with the 12th President Zachary Taylor.

28D: Selassie of Ethiopia: HAILE. Know him due to my love for Bob Marley.

29D: Spanish national hero: EL CID. I like how TYLER, HAILE and EL CID are stacked together.

32D: "Un Ballo in Maschera" aria: ERI TU. No idea. Strung the answer together from across clues. Here is Leo Nucci's ERI TU.

40D: Wildcat: LYNX. Obviously our Minnesota LYNX (WNBA) is not good enough to be clued.

43D: Used a Q-tip: SWABBED

47D: __dixt: IPSE. And another Latin phrase: 19D: Sine qua __(essential things): NONS

59D: LSD, to users: ACID. CNN had a very interesting news segment on the "Magic Mushroom LSD effect" the other day. Sounds very intriguing. Too bad, "Magic Mushroom" is banned in the US.

Happy 17A everyone!


Jun 28, 2008

Saturday June 28, 2008 John Underwood


Voilà, my first Saturday TMS puzzle sans Googling! I absolutely TORE (54D: Drove like crazy) through it. It's so weird, since AS A RULE (62A: Most of the time), I always have difficulty closing the deal on John Underwood's puzzle. Have to thank those wonderful 4-letter Down fills (total 24), which render the long Across words easily obtainable.

I adore the lower right corner. I was just leafing through "Gertrude and Alice" the other day and marveling at Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas' STAMINA (19A: Endurance) during wars (esp. WWI).

Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo invested in paintings from MATISSE (64A: French artist Henri), Picasso, Gauguin, Cézanne and other ELITE (48A: A-list group) painters very earlier on, and they profited nicely after the wars. The execution of her ESTATE (46D: Landed property), however, was a total disaster. Toklas had to shoulder the majority of the BLAME (51A: Hold responsible) I suppose.

Alright, let's go:


1A: Hold down: OPPRESS

8A: From the top: AFRESH

14A: Trattoria selection: POLENTA. RARELY (10D: Not often) do you find Chinese (esp those who grew up during Chinese Cultural Revolution) enjoy POLENTA or any corn related food.

15A: Like insulated wires: COAXIAL. Do you know that the 1936 Summer Olympics already used COAXIAL cable to transmit TV pictures?

18A: Gangland hitman: TORPEDO. I had no idea that "TORPEDO" is a slang for a hitman. I love TORPEDO sandwiches, don't you?

20A: More strict: STERNER

28A: Dental records: X-RAYS. I like how X-RAYS intersect EXAMINE (22D: Check out).

32A: Larger part of Iberia: SPAIN. "Well, I Never been to SPAIN, but I kinda like the music. Say the ladies are insane there..."

34A: Do the breast stroke: SWIM. Wonderful clue. Here is a great Emerson message for you: "Live in the sunshine, SWIM the sea, drink the wild air."

39A: Be inviting: TEMPT. And 6D: Lure: ENTICE

43A: Hot box: OVEN. And Another hot place is HADES (13D: Netherworld).

47A: Madagascar primate: LEMUR. This LEMUR must be very good at tail-lashing.

53A: Cry like a mourner: ULULATE. Most of the Irish mourning music really have a haunting mystique in them.

56A: Pass to the side: LATERAL. I did not know that "LATERAL" can also be a verb.

61A: Fire opal: GIRASOL. Unknown to me. Got it from the down clues. Italian for "Sunflower". Dictionary says it came from "girare" (to turn), "sol". That's how GIRASOL was morphed into "an opal that reflects light in a bright luminous glow".

63A: Impolite observers: STARERS. And 60D: Lascivious gander: LEER. Both remind me of those OGLING crowd following Natalie Gulbis at US Open. I did not see Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers' QB) though. He used to follow Natalie around.

65A: Paris palace: ÉlYSÉE. I bet Carla Bruni will leave Sarkozy before he leaves Palais de ÉlYSÉE.


2D: Opposite of starboard: PORT (left-handed side of the vessel). Hmm, have some Apple Crisp to go with your PORT wine.

7D: Assassinated Egyptian statesman: SADAT. Who on earth killed SADAT? Only Mubarak knows.

11D: Look on one's face: EXPRESSION

12D: Commune in Tuscany: SIENA. OK, the medicinal herb is SENNA, the reddish-brown is SIENNA, or actress SIENNA Miller (a bit of bikini malfunction there), and Tuscany city is SIENA. So confusing.

30D: "A Bug's Life" cast members: ANTS. Have not seen ANTZ for a while.

49D: Painting on a wall: MURAL. Here is Diego Rivera's infamous "Man at the Crossroads" MURAL.

52D: ___ metabolism: BASAL. One word: EXERCISE, if you want to increase your BASAL Metabolic Rate.


Jun 2, 2008

Monday June 2, 2008 John Underwood

Theme: BLOW UP

17A: Blow up: EXAGGERATE

29A: Blow up: EXPLODE

40A: Blow up: ENLARGE

47A: Blow up: INFLATE

63A: Blow up: HIT THE ROOF

J'accuse! Too many yawn-provoking identical clues. Please don't expose the puzzle title in the clues any more! Please don't deprive me of the fun to analyze and ferret out the theme. Plus, I want to understand John Underwood's original thinking process in creating these 5 different theme entries.

This puzzle really has some ZIP (32D: Nada). It is one letter J away from a pangram (with all 26 letters of the alphabet in one grid). But, Flaubert, who was famous for his "le mot Juste", would be very impressed with how this constructor sprinkled his "Madame Bovary" in this puzzle.

Let's see, in what EMMA (10A: Mme. Bovary) considered to to be the FINEST (51A: Superlatively superior) days of her life, her husband Charles, who did not really care too much about TATTY (52D: Shabby) curtains, often thought he was the luckiest man on earth, to come back home with a warm meal on the table, no matter how late he returned from work. He often took off his FROCK (37A: Dress ) coat, ate in greater comfort and recited to EMMA the names of the people he had met during his rounds.

But his conversation was too boring for EMMA. She craved to belong to the ELITE (36D: In crowd). Sadly she found a HERO (57D: Leander's love) in the rake Rodolphe, who OGLE(D) (50D: Undress with one's eyes) EMMA at his first visit to the Bovary's and decided to seduce her. And you could imagine the TREMOR (24A: Nervous thrill) she experienced during this adulterous affair. But of course, she was mercilessly deserted and eventually reencountered Léon when she and Charles attended an OPERA (1D: Highbrow entertainment). Alas, Léon grew disenchanted with EMMA when her attention started to AFFECT (s) (44D: Bears upon) his work. There are some arguments about the symbolic purple STOLE (55D: Simple wrap) that EMMA found comforting. I think it refers to the priest and the spiritual awakening.

Sorry for the babbling. I just love this novel. Here we go:


5A: Skin of a noodle?: SCALP. Very creative clue.

14A: Stick for hopping: POGO. Also the title of a comic strip. Here is a good one: We have met the enemy and he is us.

15A: Fifer's drum: TABOR. I had no idea. Is it a gimme to you?

19A: Young troublemaker: PUNK. You've go to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya PUNK?

20A: Bureaucracy: RED TAPE

21A: 48D just clear the bottom: AWEIGH. Dictionary says it's "(of an anchor) just free of the bottom; atrip". I had no idea. AWEIGH ANCHOR (48D: Boat holder) is not a familiar nautical term to me.

23A: Ore analysis: ASSAY

27A: Washington, the prez: GEO. What?? Who calls him so?

32A: Zorro's marks: ZEES. I like this clue.

39A: Smarts stats: IQS. Another great clue.

43A: Post-larval: PUPAL. Hmm, LAP UP anagrammed.

46A: Unskilled laborer: PEON

53A: "Einstein on the Beach" composer: GLASS (Philip). I did not know him. Just learned this morning that Philip GLASS is Ira GLASS (This American Life)'s father's first cousin.

57A: Domestic sci.: HOME EC (Home Economics)

67A: Like Humpty Dumpty: OVATE

70A: Change color again: REDYE. And 25D: Changes title: RENAMES. Two RE prefixes is too much for me.


2D: Curses: POXES. I only knew POX as the smallpox.


6D: Proofreaders' symbol: CARET. The inverted V.

9D: Signal enhance: PRE-AMP. Want Pamper?

10D: Type of penguin: EMPEROR. Great parallel with MING (12D: __ the Merciless). I had never heard of the "Flash Gordon" comic or movie, so I had no idea who the evil EMPEROR MING was. MING is always a Chinese Dynasty to me of course, and Yao MING. The character looks like this. The left part means sun, the right part means moon, together, it means bright.

13D: Egyptian life symbol: ANKH. The Egyptian cross. I tend to confuse ANKH with ANKE (Huber of tennis). In yesterday's puzzle, ATON was clued as Egyptian god of sun.

18D: Motown's Marvin: GAYE. I think I am scarred by this tough puzzle. Need some tender Healing from GAYE.

22D: Author of "A Man in Full": WOLFE (Tom). His books are too thick for me to read. I can hardly hold "The Bonfire of the Vanities" in my hand. Anyway, "A Man in Full" is about a real estate mogul in ATLANTA (60A: CDC location) during the city's economic booms in the 1990s, according to Wikipedia.

34D: Distant beginning?: EQUI. Equidistant (equally distant).

34D: Armchair athletes channel: ESPN

36D: "Dallas" role: ELLIE. Got it this time.

46D: North Star: POLARIS. POLARIS Industries is a manufacturer of ATVs and snowmobile based here in MN.


Apr 14, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008 John Underwood

Theme: BAR





The theme entries today are not as awe-inspiring as Underwood's last "Chess Mate" theme, still great though. Would be better if BAR is not clued as the Answer to 70A: Stand in the way.

But I tanked! Could not get on his wavelength this morning. He was in AUGUSTA, MA. I was in AUGASTA, GA bemoaning Tiger's lost chance and his draggy putter. Coulda, shoulda, woulda, oh, Tiger!

All in all, a very foggy round of golf. Sun never came out and water never parted. Teed off OK, but lost my ball quickly after 2 holes. Put MING for Ho Chi _ City, had no idea what was SHIV, did not know the meaning of "licketys-split". Nightmare there! Also made a Herculean effort trying to putt ULRIC into the hole. Had trouble reading the line. Could not see where the breaks were. "Tack room" was a complete stranger to me.

Had lots of fun at the upper right corner though. The intersection of SEX with MANS, Knee-bending movements and IMAX made me laugh. BRAS & INKY night brought up a vivid picture, not to mention the evocative French words PARC, Semisoft BRIE, FEU (fire), AMIS (though not clued as male friends)!

Did you pay attention to the Front Nine (ACROSS) clues? They are probably the shortest I've ever seen in TMS puzzle. Felt like John Daly's golf style, powerful & quick.

Alright, let's take a mulligan and tee off again!

Front Nine:

1A: Sphere of power: ORB. A nice change from the "Poetic peeper" or "Eye, poetically" clue.

4A: Shillong's state: ASSAM. Have never heard of Shillong. It's the Capital city of ASSAM state. I want to take a walk at this ASSAM tea garden. Darjeeling tea is pretty good too.

9A: Adagio, allegro, etc.: TEMPI. Plural form of Tempo. Would have never strung this word together if not for the IMAX.

15A: Florida city: MIAMI. I love Will Smith's "Welcome to MIAMI".

16A: King's territory: REALM

20A: Audiophile's setup: STEREO

21A: Street-fighter's blade: SHIV. A knife, esp switchblade. says it is probably originated from gypsy language "Chiv", meaning blade.

25A: Go lickety-split: ZIP. Now I know that "lickety-split" means "At great speed, rapidly".

35A: Tint: COLOR

36A: Closet type: LINEN

37A: Longfellow's bell town: ATRI. The Bell of ATRI.

39A: Go-ahead: SAY SO

41A: Tater: SPUD. Do you know that "murphy" is also a potato?

42A: Tack room gear: REINS. Alright, "tack room" is "a room in or near a stable for storing saddles, harnesses, and other tack."

44A: __ Loa volcano: MAUNA

46A: Switchback curve: ESS

52A: "Dune" composer Brian: ENO. The Microsoft Sound guy (Windows 95 start-up sound).

55A: High shots: LOBS. This would be a great clue entry for yesterday's The MASTERS puzzle.

58A: Code for one-on-one: DUELLO. No idea. It's of Italian origin. "The code of rules regulating dueling"

65A: Lennon's "Instant __": KARMA. Never heard of it. The only Lennon song I like is " Imagine"

68A: Simple weapon: SPEAR. Very simple indeed. Wikipedia shows 8 different kinds of wielding methods!

69A: The March King: SOUSA

Back Nine:

1D: Untitled work: OPUS. How so? Why untitled?

3D: Semisoft cheese: BRIE. Have some, avec Pinot Blanc.

4D: Of a single-celled organism: AMOEBIC

5D: Hot Sahara winds: SIROCCOS. Also spelled as SCIROCCO. Weird looking word. My Webster's says it originated from Arab word "sharq", means "east, to the rise of sun". Hot, oppressive wind blowing from Libyan deserts (Sahara Desert) across Mediterranean into S Europe. It seems more like north wind rather than east wind, doesn't it?

6D: "Casablanca" pianist: SAM. "As Time goes by", play it again, Sam. I don't like the crossing of SAM with 4A: ASSAM. (Updates from drdad and the Gargoyle. In the movie, Ilsa said, "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By"'. Rick said, "You played it for her, you can play it for me. Play it!")

7D: Writer Kingsley: AMIS. Father of Martin Kingsley, who was romantically involved with Tina Brown in her earlier lumpy days in London.

8D: Ho Chi _ City: MINH

9D: Insignificant: TRIVIAL

10D: Med. printout: EEG

11D: Provides with a crew: MANS

12D: Knee-bending movement: PLIÉ. Ballet movement.

13D: Big name in big pictures: IMAX (Image Maximum)

18D: Monks' titles: FRAS

24D: Genoese specialty: SALAMI

19D: Magnitude: SIZE

26D: Greek letters: PSIS

27D: San __, CA.: MATEO

28D: First Pope-canonized saint: ULRIC. Or Saint ULRICH, bishop and patron saint of Augsburg. Big stumper for me.

29D: True blue: LOYAL

30D: Crewman under Capt. Kirk: MR. SULU. Like this clue a lot.

31D: Dismantle mortise joints: UNPEG. Hurry up, you EMIRS of the Golf states, unpeg your currency from US dollars, Greenspan might be right this time!

32D: Try it again: REUSE

33D: Extremes: ENDS. Tire of this cluing.

34D: Paris Greenery: PARC (Park in French)

38D: Black as night: INKY

40D: As commanded: ON ORDERS. This phrase, together with SAY SO, A POP and a few other colloquial expressions in his other 2 puzzles has convinced me that Underwood is a very young guy. What do you think?

43D: Of constellations: STELLAR

45D: Maine's capital: AUGUSTA

48D: Each: A POP

52D: Moose cousins: ELKS

53D: Tidal situation: NEAP

54D: Made-up Monster: OGRE. Indeed, it's made up.

56D: Bikini parts: BRAS

59D: An arm or a leg: LIMB

60D: _ Linda, CA.: LOMA. Nope, I have never heard of this city.

61D: Unique person: ONER

63D: Doctor's org. AMA. I am an IATROPHOBIC, deeply skeptical of anything AMA recommends.

64D: Pot-au-__: FEU. Literally Pot on Fire. Needs some Dijon extra strong to spice it up!


Apr 7, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008 John Underwood

Theme: "Chess Mate"

17A: "Chess mate" dancer: IRENE CASTLE

27A: "Chess mate" dancer: TED KNIGHT

37A: "Chess mate" poet: ELIZABETH BISHOP

53A: "Chess mate" talk-show host: LARRY KING

61A: "Chess mate" mystery pseudonym: ELLERY QUEEN

To Monday-Friday solvers, please read this A Few Updates post first.

After yesterday's titanic struggle against Wiseman and his heinous IATRO puzzle, today's offer considerably salved my wounds and soothed my bruised confidence. A smooth sailing for me this morning.

I did get bogged down on 34A, 25D & 26D area for a long time. I simply forgot Sorvino's name (MIRA). And ANTZ escaped my mind. I've never read Agatha's Sparkling Cyanide. In fact, I misread the clue as "Christian's Sparking poison". So I was thinking of Chrisitan Dior's Poison Perfume. It's sparking, isn't it? I used the Green Poison for a long time, then I switched to Opium.

Grid: Total letters filled: 189. Total blank squares: 36

Ready to tee off? OK, Front Nine:

1A: Calls on the carpet: CHIDES. Learned this phrase from last Friday's puzzle.

11A: Peke's bark: YAP. I just found out that YAP is also "Group of Islands in the W Caroline Islands, W Pacific). Just in case this devilish constructor decides to waterboard us with this clue for pleasure.

14A: Repeat from memory: RECITE

20A: Hanoi holiday. TET. I like this kind of specific clue. Hate when it's clued as Asian holiday. Chinese has Spring Festival, and many Asian countries do celebrate this Lunar New Year, but only in Vietnam is it called TET.

24A: Suspension part: I BEAM

31A: Christies' "Sparkling" poison: CYANIDE

33A: Waist watching: ON A DIET. I start to really enjoy this kind of "preposition + article+ noun" combined answer. Very lively.

36A: No more seats: SRO. There should be some hint in the clue to indicate an abbreviated answer, don't you think so?

46A: Feeler: ANTENNA

49A: Scrutinize: EYEBALL. By the way, I cook terrible American food for my American husband by "EYEBALLING" the measurements all the time, thanks to Rachel Ray.

55A: Smooth transition: SEGUE

56A: Australian isl.: TASM (Tasmania). No idea. I pieced it together from down clues. This clue/answer appeared on March 2 puzzle also. I did not know then, and I will probably forget it again soon.

68A: Take offense at: RESENT

71A: Augments: ADDS TO. I am not falling into "Fill in S first" trap any more.

Back Nine:

1D: Picayune nitpicker perhaps: CRITIC. Did not know the meaning of "Picayune", but got the answer nevertheless. You talkin' to me, Mr. Underwood?

2D: As a result of this: HEREBY. I filled in HERETO first.

3D: Summer cooler, to some: ICE TEA. Incorrect, it's ICED TEA (thank you for pointing it out Dennis). Wonder why rappers name themselves as ICE T or ICE Cube.

4D: Clamor: DIN

7D: Periodical number: ISSUE

10D: Breastbones: STERNA. Sternum is the singular form.

11D: Immature-ish: YOUNGISH. Ugly clue. Why put "ish" there?

12D: Modern protagonist: ANTIHERO

18D: Uffizi display: ARTE. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Good clue.

25D: Bug movie: ANTZ

26D: Ms. Sorvino: MIRA. She spent sometime in Beijing, so her Mandarin Chinese is pretty good.

8D: Shakespearean verb: DOTH

29D: Like unsightly knees: KNOBBY

32D: Discredit: DEBUNK. I don't like the clue. Not fond of the double appearances of letter "D" both in the clue and the answer.

30D Semi -convertible: T TOP

37D: Latin & others: ET AL. WHAT??? Is this your original clue Mr. Underwood? Shouldn't it be " Latin: & others?"

38D: Crazies: LUNATICS

39D: Corporate web: INTRANET

42D: Kemo __: SABE

48D: NYC team: NY METS. Johan Santana is my favorite pitcher! (Update: from drdad: the clue should be reworded to avoid the repetition of letter "NY").

49D: Elbe tributary: EGER. Learned from doing crossword of course.

51D: Softly bright: LUCENT

52D: Shanty: LEAN TO

54D: 48D, e. g. : NLERS. National Leaguers.

58D: Gore Vidal's Breckinridge: MYRA. No, no idea. Here is some information.

63D: Countenance: LET

64D: Math proof letters: QED (Quod Erat DeMONSTRANDUM). I would never got this one if not for the across clues.

65D: Coyote State sch.: USD (University of South Dakota)

(Note to crockett1947, I hope you have a new record today. This puzzle is tailor-made for you!)

C. C.

Mar 25, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 John Underwood

Theme: Slip

17A: Slip: PETTICOAT (Half Slip)

26A: Slip: RECEIPT (Paper Slip)

35A: Slip: FREUDIAN GAFFE (Freudian Slip)

47A: Slip: DECLINE (Quality/Quantity/Standard slip)

56A: Slip: YOUNG GIRL (Slip of a Girl)

OK, I've heard your voices, to borrow a line from Justin Timberlake's song, "I am bringing sexy back" on Thursday. But what's the raison d'ETRE (15A) for you guys to read my "Struggle Part" of the blog? Je ne comprend pas!!! Misery loves company?

I've never heard of the expression "She is a mere slip of girl, or he is mere slip of a lad", so it took me forever to figure out where I was going. It would really really drive me crazy had this new constructor Mr. Underwood used the pottery term Clay Slip.

Grid Analysis (15*15):

Total words: 78 (37 Across, 41Down). Total blank square: 38

I only realized this morning that the grids, as a rule, always have a center row (Today's puzzle: FREUDIAN GAFFE) and a center column (Today's puzzle: BRAY DEALT PONE). And they are always made up of an odd and equal number of squares on each side. That's why the total word counts for Across or Down are always odd number, hence the total word count for the whole grid has to be an even number.

There are 16 3-letter blocks in today's puzzle, very clunky and ungainly. Please do not put IRE and IRK in the same puzzle any more. And I am not fond of the intersection of 35A & 37D. The words FREUD & FEUD should never be put so close together. But it could be worse, suppose he put FEUD directly under the letter F in FREUD instead of the F in GAFFE, imagine how I would react!

Across clues:

1A: Pizzazz: ZING. I put ELAN first. I really do not like the letter of the clue makes a second appearance in the answers, unless it is alliteration, like Split into splinters: SLIVERED (Sunday March 23.).

5A: Small amounts: DABS

9A: Discompose: ABASH. I mis-read it as Decompose. So I was in the "rotten" direction.

16A: Rich cake: TORTE. Interesting. My dictionary says that Torte comes from German or Italian word Torta (cake, or tart) or Latin Torta (kind of bread). Wonder if anyone has ever made any savory torte before.

20A: Other side: ENEMY. Not fond of this clue.

21A: Exclude: DISBAR. I have nothing to say about this word. I keyed in this word only because I do not want to receive another email complaining about my omitting of certain non-gimme clues.

25A: Joe and his comrades: GIS

27A: Allocation plan: BUDGET. Without the letter B from the down EBB, I would've filled in TRIAGE. My brain was trying hard to allocate Katrina victims to different hospitals.

29A: Record of a voice-over: DUB

39A: In good order: NEATLY. Put NICELY first.

40A: Collection pieces: ITEMS. Had _ _ _ MS in place already, so I put in POEMS, thinking of Carl Sandburg and his annoying Chicago Poem collection last Thursday.

45A: Most remote, initially: ULT (Ultimate)

46A: Take for granted: ASSUME. I don't take your help for granted, guys. I deeply appreciate every piece of information you've offered to me.

50A: Star Wars, initially: SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative). I was thinking of Lucas' movie, not Reagan's Star Wars Proposal. OK, so initially it was SDI, then Clinton changed the name to BMDO (Ballistic Missile Defense Organization) in 1993, then Bush renamed it MDE (Missile Defense Agency) in 2002. Why did they keep changing the name? Trying to leave their own distinctive presidential legacy? Trying to claim the credit that they created some new initiative?

53A: Give a ring: PHONE

55A: "Six O'Clock" painter John: SLOAN. The painting is "Six O'Clock, Winter". OK, Mr. Underwood, even if you hate winter, you should not, and you can not omit the name part of a masterpiece. The season (Winter) and the time (pm) is essential to the the understanding of the subject of this painting.

60A: To the point: TERSE

61A: Hostile to: ANTI. Don't quite like the clue.

63A: Not so ordinary: ODDER. I am not fully convinced of this clue either.

64A: Kettle of fish: MESS. Never knew this expression before. It's also a comedy movie nobody probably have watched.

65A: Scottish terrier: SKYE. Are they the same? Wikipedia explains that "SKYE" and "Scottish terrier" are 2 different breeds of terrier.

Down entries:

1D: Use a stun gun: ZAP. Since Tase/Taser did not fit, I started thinking that maybe the Israeli gun UZI could be used as a verb. ZAP never entered my mind, esp since I could not get ZING for 1A.

4D: Box office take: GATE. I wanted CASH. At this point of my solving, I was only sure of AREA for 14A, so all my guesses were wild.

5D: Falseness: DECEIT

6D: Hee-haw: BRAY. Donkey cry.

9D: Top story: ATTIC. I was trapped. I was on the train of "Headline news". The fact that I misread 9A Discompose as Decompose only made things worse.

10D: State capital meaning "Wooded": BOISE. I never knew this before. But it was easily inferable.

11D: Asian peninsula: ARABIA. Ugh. I felt stupid to miss this one. Wanted it to be Malay or Korea. Neither fitted, so I ran away from this corner in utter exasperation.

12D: Subway loops: STRAPS. The overhead hanging loop.

13D: Quarter deck?: HEARTS. I love this clue!!

18D: Innocent heroine: INGENUE

21D: Remove hidden ears: DEBUG. Great clue too.

23D: Wide separation: GULF. Had some problem with this word, esp since I could not get 27A BUDGET quickly enough.

26D: Inclined to flow: RUNNY

28D: Stefani or Verdon: GWEN. Knew Stefani well, vaguely heard of Verdon. Why not give PBS anchor Gwen Ifill a try. I like her style.

29D: Distributed hands: DEALT. Of course, I fell into the _ _ _ ED bunker.

32D: Championship: TITLE. Not a gimme to me at all.

33D: Bringing up: RAISING. Love the movie Raising Helen starring Kate Hudson. Her How to Lose a Guy in 10 days is pretty good too.

34D: New newts: EFTS. Another tough one for me.

36D: Frighten off: DAUNT. I put SCARE first.

37D: Clash of clans: FEUD

42D: Makes greater: ADDS TO. Good clue, simple yet trappy due to S.

43D: ___ over (fainted): KEELED. For some unfathomable reason, I penned in ASA instead of AKA for 42A: Pseudonym intro (AKA). What/Who was I thinking? So I was hellbent to put SWOON in, even though the clue was clearly asking for a past tense.

44D: Conflict compromise: ACCORD. I thought of some kind of armistice or treaty. Stupid! I was actually reading a short article on Oslo Accord last night.

46D: Poster boy: ADONIS. This word always reminds of the "Hunk Flunks" JFK Jr.

49D: At the center: INNER

50D: Locks up: SHUTS

53D: Corn mix: PONE. Never had this before. Not interested in any corn product.

58D: Flattened fish: RAY. What is this? Why is it flattened?

59D: Heavy-duty cleanser: LYE

My prediction for tomorrow's puzzle author: Philip J. Anderson.