Showing posts with label Merle Baker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Merle Baker. Show all posts

Mar 23, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 Merle Baker

Theme: GRAND FINALE (61A: Big finish, and what the first words of the answers to starred clues can be) - The first word of each theme entry can follow the word GRAND. Superb tie-in phrase.

17A: *Sam in "Casablanca," eg.: PIANO PLAYER. "Casablanca", my favorite movie but I'm glad we weren't looking for a last name or the actor's name. (Dooley Wilson) He wasn't playing a GRAND PIANO, I know that.

36A: *Fast paced: SLAM-BANG. SLAM-BANG is what NASCAR racing has been this year. And while GRAND SLAM could express some of the accidents this year, it really means a sweeping success or total victory.

42A: *Collapsible headgear: OPERA HAT. (a top hat). GRAND OPERA is big production with lavish costumes and sets and a serious topic.

11D: *Hank Aaron's 6,856 is the career record: TOTAL BASES. TOTAL BASES refers to the number of bases a player has gained by his hits alone. Getting on base any other way isn't counted and any advances once on base aren't counted either. A single counts as one base, a double is two, a triple is three, and a home run is four. Combine them all and you get the GRAND TOTAL.

29D: *1962 Gene Chandler hit: DUKE OF EARL.
The song. The meaning of GRAND DUKE at Wikipedia. (It's more than this but less than that.You can figure it out for yourself, if you want.)

And on that note, I'll say Argyle here. I kept waiting for Cruciverb last night but it didn't happen. I know I can count on my fellow blogsters to fill in the thin parts of my commentary. It's what makes this site GRAND!


1A: "The — Kid: early TV Western: CISCO. Very early.
Song by War.

6A: Suit parts: VESTS

11A: "__ the season ...": 'TIS

14A: Choir members: ALTOS

15A: Even if, for short: ALTHO

16A: Cal. neighbor: ORE.

19A: Spinner: TOP

20A: Squealed, so to speak: SANG

21A: Be under the weather: AIL

22A: Formally unsay: RECANT

24A: Cutlass or 88: OLDS. Oldsmobile models.

26A: She plays Julia in "Julie & Julia": MERYL. Watched it this week. Agree with the rest of you; wanted more Julia, less Julie.

27A: Tack on: ADD

30A: Standards of excellence: IDEALS

32A: CEO's degree: MBA. Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Master of Business Administration (MBA)

34A: Dirty: GRUBBY

39A: "Wake Up With Al" weatherman: ROKER Best known as the weather anchor for NBC's Today show. On July 20, 2009, he began co-hosting his new morning show "Wake Up with Al" on The Weather Channel.

40A: China's Mao __-tung: TSE

41A: Studio stand: EASEL

44A: "Honor Thy Father" author Gay: TALESE.
Cover. Any readers?

45A: Sun, to Esteban: SOL

46A: Outcome: UPSHOT

48A: Canonized 26-Down: STE.. 26D: Swiss miss, maybe: Abbr.: MLLE.. Hands up for those that saw Swiss Miss and thought "Cocoa!".

49A: Festival showings, perhaps: FILMS

51A: Quartz variety: ONYX

53A: Began the betting: OPENED

55A: UN anti-child-labor agcy.: ILO. International Labour Organization

56A: Old oath: "EGAD!"

60A: Menu phrase: A LA

64A: Roofing material: TAR

65A: Part of a pound: OUNCE

66A: Best-seller list entry: NOVEL

67A: NBC fixture for nearly 35 yrs.: SNL. Since 1975.

68A: Dirty campaign tactic: SMEAR

69A: Show reverence, in a way: KNEEL


1D: Limits: CAPS

2D: Hip bones: ILIA

3D: Ollie's partner: STAN. Laurel and Hardy.

4D: Zaire, today: CONGO

5D: Disney toon panda, "Special Agent ": OSO

6D: Travel bag: VALISE

7D: Airline to Tel Aviv: EL AL. Literally

8D: Farm home: STY

9D: "Spider-Man 3" actress Russell: THERESA.

10D: More ticked off: SORER

12D: Heavy metal: IRON

13D: Back-to-school mo.: SEPT.

18D: Rice source: PADDY. Sorta like saying your wheat comes from a field.

23D: One of a drum set pair: CYMBAL

25D: Scales of the zodiac: LIBRA

27D: Soil-related prefix: AGRO

28D: Fails to grasp: DROPS

31D: Helpers: Abbr.: ASSTS.

33D: " __ of robins ...": Kilmer: A NEST. Another reference to the poem "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer.

35D: Capital east of the Elbe River: BERLIN

37D: Substantial: MEATY

38D: Elation: GLEE

40D: Base melody: TAPS. A military base.

43D: Boring: HUMDRUM

44D: Like a __ bricks: TON OF

47D: Obama attorney general Eric: HOLDER. A
pic with Obama.

50D: Tyke's blocks: LEGOS

52D: Arc lamp gas: XENON

53D: Granola ingredient: OATS

54D: Word after flight or floor: PLAN

55D: Ancient Peruvian: INCA

57D: Contributed: GAVE

58D: Away from the wind: ALEE

59D: Farmer's place, in song: DELL.
''The Farmer in the Dell''.

62D: "Wheel of Fortune" buy: AN 'E'

63D: Printer need: INK

Answer grid.

Picture of the Day: Here is a grand photo of our fellow LAT solver Spitzboov "The Rascal". In his own words: "Sptzboov, in blue hat, sending greetings from the stern of the SS American Victory moored at Channelside, Tampa, FL in Feb., 2010, with his son, Peter."


Dec 22, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009 Merle Baker

Theme: "Calls of the Toady" - Things that a 'Yes-Man' might say to keep from being axed, canned, booted or fired.

17A: "Affirmative!": "POSITIVELY!".

27A: "Affirmative!": "OF COURSE!".

46A: "Affirmative!": "YES SIREE!".

59A: "Affirmative!": "BY ALL MEANS!".

11D: "Affirmative!": "OKEY-DOKEY!".

34D: "Affirmative!": "SURE THING!".

Argyle here, you betcha'! Six entries on a Tuesday! Absolutely a great idea, Mr. Norris. Excellent job, Mr. Baker.

Rather easy but a lot of fun in there. My favorite was the cross of 37A: Hair style for Marie Antoinette: POUF and 25D: Salon do: COIF but her last hair-cut was a 'bob'. And 9D: Salon worker: STYLIST used the latest thing in hair trimming, a guillotine.


1A: Coffee, slangily: JAVA.

5A: Exchanges: SWAPS.

10A: Tapestry machine: LOOM.

14A: Actor Arkin: ADAM. He is the son of actor Alan Arkin and appeared in TV's Northern Exposure and Chicago Hope.

15A: Explorer Sebastian: CABOT. An Italian explorer who led an English expedition in search of the Northwest Passage (1509) and a Spanish expedition to South America (1525-1528).

21A: Pay careful attention to: HEED.

22A: Vocal cords locale: LARYNX.

24A: Mountain climber's return: DESCENT.

32A: Like an inspection: ON SITE. Construction site, e.g..

35A: Poses: SITS.

36A: Singer __ Rock: KID. Kid Rock is known for music that fuses rap with heavy metal, blues rock, southern rock, funk and country music. Feel free to link your fave song; I don't have any.

38A: USA neighbor: MEX..

39A: "Didn't you get the __?": MEMO.

41A: "Good buddy": "CBER".

43A: Nightly ritual for many: PRAYER.

45A: "__ Loves You": Beatles hit: SHE. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

50A: Place for an Eggo: TOASTER.

54A: '60s United Nations secretary general: U THANT. He chaired the UN in a troubled time.

56A: Scold, with "out": BAWL.

57A: Big Band __: ERA.

58A: Switchblade: SHIV.

63A: Like a Stephen King novel: EERIE.

65A: Exit indicator: SIGN.

66A: Tire pattern: TREAD.

67A: Easter egg decorators: DYES.


1D: Made fun of: JAPED.

4D: "__ dreaming?": AM I.

5D: Physics, for one: SCIENCE.

6D: Greet from across the street: WAVE TO.

7D: Not up: ABED.

8D: D.C. go-getter: POL.

10D: Peter who played Mr. Moto: LORRE.

12D: Algerian seaport: ORAN.

13D: Comedy's __ Brothers: MARX.

18D: An alarm may deter it: THEFT.

26D: Cereal with a spokesrabbit: TRIX. "Silly Rabbit, TRIX are for kids."

28D: Computer operators: USERS.

30D: Frosty coating: RIME. Like the East coast?

33D: Biblical boat builder: NOAH.

38D: Stocking material: MESH.

39D: Actresses Clarke and West: MAES.

41D: Greenish-blue hue: CYAN. I got this one because that is what they call my blue ink cartridge in my printer.

42D: Wisest choice: BEST BET.

43D: Searched for prey, lion-style: PROWLED and 44D: King's domain: REALM. The lion is the King of the Jungle(even though lions are on the plains.)

47D: Appennini locale: ITALIA. Mountain range

49D: Poe's one-word bird: RAVEN.

51D: Not dry-eyed: TEARY.

52D: Singer Tennessee __ Ford: ERNIE. The Old Pea-Picker hisself. You gotta hear this one.

53D: Coarse files: RASPS.

54D: Daily delivery org.: USPS.

55D: Asian cuisine: THAI.

60D: "__ out!": ump's call: YER.

61D: LAX datum: ETD. Estimated Time of Departure from Los Angeles International Airport.

Answer grid.


Oct 23, 2009

Friday October 23, 2009 Merle Baker

Theme: IXNAY (60A. Slangy turndown, and a hint to how 17-, 22-, 32-, 47- and 51-Across are formed) - IX is nixed from familiar phrases.

17A. Health nut?: MISTER F(IX)IT

22A. "Make him an offer he can't refuse," e.g.?: DON QU(IX)OTE. The memorable line is a quote from Don Corleone ("The Godfather").

32A. Where hogs go hog-wild?: SWINGING S(IX)TIES. Hilarious clue/answer.

47A. DVDs?: N(IX)ON-TAPES. Not a smooth fill for me.

51A. Cocktails at an exotic resort club?: M(IX)ED DRINKS. Was ignorant of Club Med (Méditerranée), so I had trouble understanding the connection between MED & "exotic resort club".

This puzzle reminds of Gareth Bain's NIXON puzzle, where ON is nixed in every theme entry. And NIXON is placed in the lower right corner as well.

Nice pangram (all 26 letters are used at least once). But the theme took me too long to grok, though I got IXNAY rather early. Several peeks at the cheat sheet today.


1. Angle: SLANT

6. Like disco dancers: GO-GO. Go-go dancers.

10. "Wow": GEE

13. Explorer __ de León: PONCE. He named Florida Florida, meaning "flower".

14. Structural sci.: ANAT. Body structure.

15. Nightclub in a Manilow song: COPA. Copacabana (At the Copa), referring to the famous nightclub Copacabana (The Copa) in NY City.

16. Atlanta university: EMORY. And GONZAGA (41A). Spokane university). The latter stumped me. Wikipedia says it's a private Catholic Jesuit university and listed Bing Crosby as one of its notable alumni.

19. Prefix with dermal: EPI. Epidermal.

20. PC support person: TECH. See techie in grid more often.

21. Village paper?: VOICE. Village Voice, the free weekly newspaper in NY. They give out the annual Obie Award. Nice clue.

25. Toy in a holster: CAP GUN

26. Eightfold: OCTUPLE. Adjective. Noun is octuplet, like the Octuplet Mom.

28. Arg. neighbor: URU (Uruguay). Can't be Bra(zil), Par(aguay) or Chi(le) because the constructors/editor prefer a full word rather than an abbreviated country name.

29. IM provider: AOL

30. Arles assent: OUI. Alliteration. Arles is where van Gogh painted many of his masterpieces.

31. Get ready, briefly: PREP

36. Satirist Mort: SAHL. Thank God I committed him to my memory.

37. Blood classification letters: ABO. O for me.

38. "__ who?": SEZ. With P?Z?? in place, I should have got PIZZA (31D. Food in a flat box) immediately.

40. Source of 20s, for short: ATM. And NCR (4D. Big name in 40-Acrosses).

45. Comfort for a griever: SOLACE

50. Tolkien tree creature: ENT. Anglo-Saxon word for "giant".

53. Bugs chaser: ELMER. Elmer Fudd.

56. Lighten up?: DIET. Nailed it immediately.

57. Stiller's comedy partner: MEARA. Jerry Stiller and Anna Meara, Ben Stiller's parents.

58. Form 1040 ID: SSN

59. Lhasa __: APSO. The breed originating from Tibet. APSO is literally "bearded" in Tibetan.


1. Swimwear brand: SPEEDO. They sponsor Michael Phelps.

2. California city near Vandenberg Air Force Base: LOMPOC. See this map. Literally "little lake" in its Native Indian language. I simply forgot.

3. Consecrate using oil: ANOINT

5. Mystery writer Josephine: TEY. No idea. The only Josephine I know is Hart, whose "Damage" is just brilliant.

6. Reproductive cell: GAMETE. Sperm or egg.

7. In the cooler: ON ICE

8. Deep wound: GASH

9. Polo Grounds hero: OTT (Mel). NY Giants played in the Polo Grounds.

10. "I don't get it": GO FIGURE

11. Gastronomes: EPICURES (EP-i-kyoors). And SAVORERS (32D: 11-Down, e.g.). Both posed problems to me, though I remember we had epicure/epicurious discussions on the blog before. Savorer sounds so made-up.

12. Gone from the plate: EATEN UP. I liked how it parallels EPICURES.

15. Photoshop command: CROP

18. Author Hunter: EVAN. Also known as Ed McBain.

20. Turnpike collection spot: TOLLGATE

23. Small game bird: QUAIL. Cantonese style quail is often glazed with honey, very tasty, crispy too.

24. Resting atop: UPON

25. Two-wheeled artillery wagons: CAISSONS (KEY-suhn). Only know the military funeral caisson.

27. "A __ of Wine, a Loaf of Bread ...": JUG. And Thou (Beside me singing in the Wilderness).

30. Notable 1969 bride: ONO. Liked this new clue.

33. Battered repeatedly, in slang: WHALED ON. New phrase to me.

34. ThinkPad maker: IBM

41. Attends: GOES TO

43. Biological divisions: GENERA. Wow, I had no idea that plural of genus is genera.

44. Down a sinful path: ASTRAY

52. Pocatello's state: Abbr.: IDA. Have never heard of the city Pocatello, home of the Idaho State University. Named after some Indian tribal chief Pocatello.

53. Brit. record label: EMI. One of the four major record labels: Sony, Universal, Warner and EMI.

54. Latin law: LEX. Learned from doing Xword. The plural is leges (LEE-jeez).

Answer grid.


Sep 19, 2009

Saturday September 19, 2009 Merle Baker

Theme: None

Total blocks: 33

Total words: 64

Wow, this puzzle has no 3-letter word at all. Very low word count, only 64, our lowest since the switch.

PRESENTEES (6D: Oscar winners, e.g) and STATUETTES (27D: Oscar winners' winnings) are great anchors for the grid.

Besides the above "Oscar winners" echo, the below clues also have the "word association" Bob Klahn mentioned in his interview:

14A: Theoretical, as profits: ON PAPER

17A: Based on medical observation instead of theory: CLINICAL

24A: Chief Valhalla god: ODIN. The Norse Zeus. Dad of Thor & Tyr.

28A: God, in Guadalajara: DIOS. The Italian God is DIO, without the S.

A harder puzzle than last Saturday's. I had to look at my cheat sheet several times.

I asked Rich Norris (LA Times Crossword Editor) about the recent eased-up phase. He answered: "The easier clues will continue as we monitor feedback from solvers and local papers. Recent input suggests that the end-of-the-week puzzles are too hard for too many people. We'll be trying to find a level that brings more solvers into the mix on Friday and Saturday, yet still sufficiently challenges the more experienced solvers".

I asked Rich the question last month when I first sensed the ease, he answered immediately. I should have shared with you sooner.


1A: Speaker booster: PRE-AMP. No idea. Short for preamplifier.

2A: Overcharged illegally: GOUGED

13A: Western evergreen named for its eventual bark color: RED FIR. Oh, I was unaware of this fact.

16A: Unending, in poetry: ETERNE (i-TURN)

19A: White sale items: LINENS

20A: Like expensive fight seats: RINGSIDE. Boxing/wresting. The area immediately surrounding the ring.

21A: Bearded blossom: IRIS. See the white beard?

22A: Enthusiasm: ELAN

25A: Makes automatic: MECHANIZES

29A: "Don't move, Fido": STAY. Reminds me of the Steven Wright line Dennis quoted the other day: "I bought a dog the other day...I named him Stay. It's fun to call him...'Come here, Stay! Come here, Stay!' He went insane."

30A: Adjective for a yellow bikini, in a 1960 #1 hit: TEENIE. "Itsy Bitsy TEENIE Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini".

32A: More shadowy, as evening: DUSKIER

36A: Slanders: MALIGNS

37A: Punctual: ON TIME

39A: Eddie __, New York cop involved in the actual "French Connection": EGAN. Unknown to me. I had difficulty focusing on the plot while watching "The French Connection".

40A: Winter Olympics contestants: SKI JUMPERS. Got the answer with the Down fill help.

46A: OR activity: SURG. Surgery I suppose.

47A: It might save your skin: ALOE. From sunburn.

48A: Mariner's heading: ALEE. Opposed to aweather.

49A: Shoves off: SETS SAIL. "Shove off" is a new phrase to me. I only know "Shove it". Teresa John Kerry is a very colorful character.

52A: Again and again?: THRICE. Great clue.

54A: Small and unimportant, as a town: ONE-HORSE. Learned this from John Kerry's presidential campaign also.

55A: __ powder: TALCUM. GARLIC, anyone?

56A: Garden tool: TRIMMER. Did not come to me readily.

57A: Plaza Hotel sprite: ELOISE. Learned from doing Xword. Have never read "ELOISE at the Plaza".

58A: Divers' fishing implements: SPEARS. I don't associate "divers" with fishing.

59A: Classified: SORTED. Was in ad direction.


1D: It's before the main event, briefly: PRELIM (Preliminary). My initial reaction is PRO-AM, thinking of golf tournament.

2D: Hang it up, so to speak: RETIRE

3D: Blissful: EDENIC. What's your idea of heaven?

4D: Anew: AFRESH

5D: State where the Mississippi R. originates: MINN. Gimme for me. Twins won! Twins won again last night!

7D: Have a wild time: GO CRAZY

8D: Modern way to shop: ON LINE

9D: __ arms: UP IN. Angry. A new idiom to me. I wanted OPEN.

10D: Turf controller: GANG. We've got Hmong GANG here in Minnesota.

11D: TV Series opener: EPISODE I

12D: Tough job for a beauty contest judge: DECIDING. Ellen Degeneres is a perfect pick for "American Idol".

15D: Contact the harbor master from one's ship: RADIO IN

23D: Inventive sort?: LIAR. Nailed it. By the way, look at the funny "Loose Parts" Dennis linked yesterday. Notice there are two number 1's in a grid? Impossible! "You lie!".

26D: "Sure __ standing ...": AS I'M

31D: Na or Cl, e.g.: ELEM (Element). Again, got the answer with Across help.

32D: Playground retort: DOES SO

33D: Salve: UNGUENT. Was this a gimme to you?

34D: Appetizers: STARTERS. Look at these Korean food STARTERS. Mostly fermented veggies. Hot and spicy!

35D: Royal office: KINGSHIP. Wow, have never heard of this word before.

36D: Magic charm: MOJO. Has Obama lost his MOJO?

38D: Tractor attachment: TILLER. Farming machine again. Hey, Windhover.

41D: Wilhelm's title in WWI Germany: KAISER. All German emperors are called KAISERS, correct?

42D: Sitting room: PARLOR

43D: Draw out: ELICIT

44D: Disqualify (oneself), as a judge: RECUSE. Used to love "Law & Order".

51D: Weapons, in Latin: ARMA. New to me. I suppose that's how we get arms.

53D: Head light?: HALO. My favorite clue today. Just heavenly.

Answer grid.

Picture of the Day: Here is a great photo of Wisconsin gang. From left to right: Kazie looks beautiful in aqua; Dot (81-year-old) is just what I've pictured in my mind, an elegant lady; Her husband Irv is 95 years old if I recall correctly. They do crossword together after dinner. And our radiant Andrea who owns Brasserie V on Monroe Street in Madison.