Showing posts with label Rich Norris. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rich Norris. Show all posts

May 7, 2018

Monday May 7, 2018 Lila Cherry

Theme: BAR MENU (63. List including nachos, sliders, wings, etc. ... and what the starts of the answers to starred clues comprise?)

17A. *Official emergency status: CODE RED. Bar code.

20A. *Angler's skill: FLY CASTING. Barfly.

33A. *#1 hit: CHART TOPPER. Bar chart.

42A. *One who rats to the cops: STOOL PIGEON. Bar stool.

54A. *Floater in a luxurious bath: SOAP BUBBLE. Bar soap.

Boomer here.  

Hello everyone. I know it has been a long week, but I did read most of the comments on Tuesday and I have to say how impressed I was on the messages of grief and condolence for the loss of our friend.

A bit about myself.  My dear mother did the daily crossword in the Minneapolis paper, and had a Dell paperback to help with the clues. Of course, this was back in the day when a computer was something created by IBM and took up 120 cubic feet in an office building. My older sister, Barbara solves two crossword puzzles daily, but of course she graduated with a magna cum laude degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.  I, on the other hand, took four years of Latin in high school, so I can spell "magna cum laude" and translate it into English.  I have to admit, I do not have the smarts or expertise that most of you have to solve these puzzles, but I don't mind, because I know I can beat most of you in bowling.

However, I can only say how thoroughly impressed I am with the close-knit family that visit this blog daily, and shared their thoughts of the memory of wonderful Argyle. I share your dismay, and of course the terrible loss felt by C.C. and many of all of you. And if any of you stopped in the bar to drown your sorrow, I hope you enjoyed this puzzle.  


1. "I'm all __ it": "Yes": FOR.

4. Pennies: Abbr.: CTS.

7. "Later, dude": BYE.

10. Mil. strongholds: FTS.

13. Long Island university: ADELPHI. Impressive University.  I wonder if they teach Latin.

15. Demonic laugh: MWAHAHA. I never have heard of this so I Googled it.  Surprise, it's out there.

18. Month that once was eighth: OCTOBER.  Let's see, Decem is 10, Nova is 9, Octo is 8, Septem is 7, so August must be 6?  Or Caesar might have had something to do with month naming.

19. Walked (on): TROD.

22. One getting private lessons: TUTEE. Or a blow on a flute.

24. Go down to defeat: LOSE.

25. __ Martin: Bond's car: ASTON. I think these run into six figures.

28. Garlicky sauce: AIOLI. - WOW, a FIVE letter word with FOUR vowels. Has to be a constructors dream.

32. Frozen over: ICY. No problem spelling this in Minnesota.

39. Venue for exercise swimming: LAP POOL.

41. Old golf club named for its copper alloy-plated face: BRASSIE. This used to be a nickname for a two wood.  I don't think anyone carries a two wood anymore.

44. Spanish Mrs.: SRA.

45. Selassie worshiper: RASTA.

46. Type in: ENTER. Right above shift on most keyboards.

48. Arduous journey: TREK.

51. In style again: RETRO.

58. "__ end up": THIS. I write this on my cereal box so I don't spill in the AM

62. Existing independent of experience, in logic: A PRIORI. Did we have this last week with an abbrev. of a thirty day month??

65. Another year of Time, say: RENEWAL. Favorite slogan of Andersen Windows.

66. "Canyon With Crows" artist Georgia: O'KEEFFE.

67. '60s radical gp.: SDS. Students for a Democratic Society.

68. Antlered beast: ELK. We have lots of deer in Minnesota, but the Elks are all in the bar at the lodge.

69. Opposite of ENE: WSW. White Sidewalls group similar to Sha Na Na

70. Birthday gift for a tot: TOY. "It went zip when it moved and bop when it stopped and whirrrrr when it stood still.  I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will...."


1. Almanac item: FACT.

2. Smell often funky: ODOR. Had this word a few weeks ago. Reminds me of Texas Ranger Rougned

3. Decorate anew: REDO.

4. Basic technique in EMT training: CPR.  I think CPR is cardio pulmonary resuscitation, however when I see EMT I still think of thinwall conduit.

5. Stealing: THEFT.

6. Move laterally: SIDLE.

7. Coll. hotshot: BMOC. Bring My Own Cola ??

8. Female leadership org.: YWCA.

9. Grub: EATS. Law and Order - Emil Skoda (J.K. Simmons on the Farmers Insurance commercials) calls food "Grub" 

10. One-named Milanese model: FABIO.

11. If-__: conditional statements: THENS.

12. NCO nickname: SARGE. Many enlisted men had other nicknames for their sergeants.

14. Resulted in: LED TO.

16. "MASH" nickname: HOT LIPS. Great movie, Great TV show, Margaret Houlihan

21. Wine label number: YEAR.

23. 7-Up nickname: UNCOLA.

25. Afflicts: AILS.

26. Ella's style: SCAT.

27. Wrong-key error: TYPO. This was a problem for my big fingers on the old Smith Corona.  No big deal any more with a "delete" key.

29. Beatles' "Let __": IT BE. "When I find myself in times of trouble..."

30. Other, in Oaxaca: OTRO.

31. Car borrowed from a dealer: LOANER. They used to loan them to you, now I think they rent them to you.

34. One-footed jumps: HOPS. Beer ingredient

35. Landed: ALIT.

36. Whispered "Hey!": PSST.

37. The Auld Sod: EIRE. I have not heard of Auld Sod, but I think this is Ireland.

38. Stern area: REAR.

40. Trademark Buster Keaton hat with a culinary name: PORK PIE.  Buster was before my time, sorry

43. Clothing: GARB.

47. "I didn't do it": NOT ME. Wouldn't it be Not I?

48. Nicholas II was the last of them in Russia: TSARS.

49. Caught, as dogies: ROPED.

50. Gets by working: EARNS.

52. "Funny bone" spot: ELBOW. When it gets whacked, it's not too funny

53. Hardwood trees: TEAKS.

55. Boxer Riddick: BOWE.

56. It borders Siberia in the game of Risk: URAL. Reminds me of a Seinfeld where Kramer is playing Risk with Newman.

57. Defraud: BILK.

59. Strain to lift: HEFT.

60. Recon collection: INFO.

61. Chop __: SUEY. C.C. insists that most American so called "Chinese food" has never been served in China.

64. Remote button with left-pointing arrows: Abbr.: REW.


Dec 25, 2016

Sunday December 25, 2016, Nora Pearlstone

Theme: "Holiday Doings" - A Christmas tree is formed by a series of black squares. On the very top, the circled letters spell out STAR.

24A. His personal Canadian postal code is H0 H0 H0 : SANTA CLAUS. Also 22. Bagfuls for 24-Across : LETTERS. Also 85A. Team for 24-Across : REINDEER

26A. With 71-Across, holiday classic : A CHRISTMAS. And 71. See 26-Across : CAROL

55A. Seasonal hangings : ORNAMENTS

89A. Things to open : PRESENTS. This is symmetrical partner of REINDEER. 

108A. Sets on tracks : MODEL TRAINS. Nicely placed at the bottom of the tree.

3D. Classic 71-Across : O TANNENBAUM

13D. Attend to a holiday symbol : TRIM THE TREE. There is a note in Across Lit. It says "Certain squares in this puzzle can't be viewed properly in Across Lite format. Those squares outline an appropriate image, which can be seen at If you prefer to figure it out for yourself, use the hints provided by the circled squares, 55-Across, and 108-Across." Rich couldn't mention the specific image as he had both CHRISTMAS or TREE in the grid.

49D. Holiday mailing : GREETING CARD. Each of the four Down theme entries intersects another Across theme entry. Just brilliant. This is why Rich is still the 4th most published NYT constructor despite the fact that he has not sent any puzzle there since 2008.

53D. Title annual holiday character since 1965 : CHARLIE BROWN

Nora Pearlstone is the alias name of our editor Rich Norris. It's an anagram of "Not a Real Person". You can see Rich's full alias names here. Rich normally uses Nora for Sunday puzzles or tricky Thursday/Friday puzzles. He uses Lila Cherry ("Really Rich") for early week puzzles.

Notice the R puzzle that forms STAR is unchecked, e.g., it's the only one-letter fill in this puzzle. The grid also has a left to right symmetry, which is a lot trickier than a normal grid.

Rich in the Middle
1. WWII investment : E BOND

6. Sri Lankan language : TAMIL. Also the official language of Singapore.

11. It may be seen to the left of venous : INTRA. I did not know the meaning of "venous".

16. Quashed : VETOED

18. Psyched : FIRED UP

20. Frightened : SCARED. And 21. Frightens : ALARMS. Rich is very good at clue echoes. 

23. Poet Levertov : DENISE. Unknown figure to me.

28. Kiss and caress, in Kent : SNOG

29. Cousin of the Vulcan mind meld : ESP

31. It's bonded in bales : HAY. Also 92. __ bonding : MALE

32. Etta of old comics : KETT

33. Word before and after "is" : ENOUGH

35. Concert shirt : TEE

37. Indiana county or its seat : WABASH. This stumped me last time.

39. L.A.'s __ Center : AON

41. Shine, in ads : GLO

42. Do-it-yourself mover : U-HAUL

44. Columnist Hentoff : NAT

45. UV index monitor : EPA

48. Prepared with mixed vegetables, in Chinese cooking : SUBGUM. I never heard of the term until I came to the US.

50. Ivy support : TRELLIS

52. Parish leader : RECTOR

54. Wide-eyed look : STARE
57. It might accompany a "meh" : SHRUG

58. Hot-and-cold fits : AGUE

59. Cartoon shopkeeper : APU. "The Simpsons".

60. Old map abbr. : SSR

61. Monthly payment that's often more than the prin. : INT.  Like new mortgage.

63. Sleek, in car talk : AERO

64. Capitol feature : DOME

65. Meat department buy : BEEF

67. Song from Carmen : ARIA

68. Last ones to deal with : REST.  Oh, like the rest.

69. Impact sound : THUD

75. Longtime rival of Tiger : PHIL(Mickelson). Phil is such a gentleman.

77. Longhorn rivals : AGGIES. Rival clue echo.

80. Climber's target : CLIFF

81. Futile : OTIOSE. Not a word I use.
88. Sharable PC file : PDF

91. Fort near Fayetteville : BRAGG. Boomer went to Fort Campbell. How about you, D-Otto/TTP? Argyle probably went to  Camp Pendleton.

94. Tan relative : ECRU

96. Descriptively named support : H BEAM

97. From that time : SINCE

98. They often include ages : BIOs

99. Maneuverability : ROOM

100. Speak : ORATE

101. Embellishes : ADORNS

103. UPS carton phrase : SHIP TO

105. "Bearing gifts, we traverse __" : AFAR
112. Prettify with paper : WRAP. Bonus fill. 

116. Sweet-scented flower : GARDENIA. My grandma's name is Lan Xiang, literally "blue and fragrant flower". Lots of girls in her generation had flower names.

118. Cry of revelation : AHA

119. Resonant barbershop sound : BASS NOTE. Also 56. Barbershop sound : SNIP

121. __ out a living : EKE

122. Bank deposit : SILT. Nailed it.

123. Type of garden : ZEN. Nice and quiet.

124. __-bitty : ITTY

125. Trouble : WOE

126. Narc's employer : DEA. And 127. Narc's assignment : CASE

128. To this time : YET

129. Julia's "Ocean's Twelve" role : TESS

130. Rev (up) : AMP


1. Spacewalks, briefly : EVAS. EVA = Extravehicular Activity. Rich avoided plural [Longoria and Mendes] style clue because he had BELAS (2. Lugosi and Karolyi) next to it.

4. Popular virus remedy : NORTON. Ah, I was thinking of flu.

5. Rabble-rouser : DEMAGOGUE. What a great entry.

6. Jam on the road : TIE UP

7. Dance and drama : ARTS

8. Got together : MET

9. Concept : IDEA

10. Sudden move : LURCH

11. Winter pastime gear : ICE SKATES. The snow continues to melt in our neighborhood.

12. City on the Loire : NANTES. Birthplace of Jules Verne.

14. Found a new table for : RESAT

15. Picnic drinks : ADES

17. U.S. Army medal : DSC. My Dad was in the Chinese Army for a long time. I don't remember any medals. Just lots lots of Mao's stuff. He remembered every word in this red book.

18. Instant : FLASH

19. "Nonsense!" : PSHAW

20. Star Wars initials : SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative)

25. Small construction piece : LEGO

27. NFL coach Rex : RYAN

30. Bailiwicks : REALMS

34. German university city : ULM. Know as Einstein's birthplace.

35. A.L. West team, familiarly : THE A's

36. "Elements of Algebra" author : EULER

38. Prevent : BAR

39. Syrian leader : ASSAD

40. Expenses : OUTGO

42. Caterer's vessel : URN

43. Author Yutang : LIN. Same character as the Lim in our constructor Julian Lim, who's from Singapore. In Hong Kong, it's spelled as Lam.

46. Really comes down : POURS

47. One may end in "ese" : ARGOT. Like legalese.
50. Indisputable : TRUE

51. Slowly emerge from sleep : STIR

55. Slanted page? : OP-ED

59. Mistreatment : ABUSE

62. Sierra Nevada vacation mecca : TAHOE

66. TV monitor : FCC

67. E.T. from Melmac : ALF

70. Equivocated : HEDGED

72. Suisse peaks : ALPES

73. Relieved : RID

74. Bid : OFFER

76. "Whew!" : IT'S HOT

77. Some Wall St. traders : ARBs (Arbitragers)

78. English singer Halliwell : GERI. I was more into Cantopop in those days when Spice Girls were popular.

79. Composer __ Carlo Menotti : GIAN

82. Draft category : ONE A. We also have ROW A (113. Where no one can sit in front of you). 

83. "Right now!" : STAT

84. Salinger title choir singer : ESME

86. Gets mixed up in : EMBROILS

87. Outdoor event contingency : RAIN DATE. Nice pair of stacked 8's in this area.

89. Outlaw : PROHIBIT

90. Ponder : RUMINATE

93. Drop in the stadium : LOSE.  Got via crosses. Tricky clue.

95. Toledo thing : COSA. Spanish or Italian for "thing".

102. __ vincit amor : OMNIA

104. Classroom exchanges : PSSTs

105. Allowed to ripen, as cheddar : AGED

106. Art expert's discovery : FAKE. I was once very good at IDing fake luxury bags. IP investigation was risky but fun.

107. Bailiwick : AREA

109. Likely to loaf : LAZY

110. What you once were? : THEE

111. Carry on : RANT

114. Tiny bit : ATOM

115. Single animal-shaped candy? : PEEP

117. PC backup key : ESC

120. Mac OS part: Abbr. : SYS

1) Happy Birthday to dear Kathy (Yellowrocks), whose positive attitude and fighting spirit continue to inspire me. I'm so happy that you're here for us, Kathy!

Yellowrocks and son David, Sept 2016

2) Happy Birthday also to Lorraine (Fermatprime), who's been with the blog for a long time. Lorraine is an accomplished math professor and does more puzzles every day than most of us.

Thanksgiving, 2015

Dec 31, 2010

LA Times Daily Crossword 2010 Info

Below is some interesting data from Rich Norris, editor of LA Times Daily Crossword.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Rich for his daily entertainment, education & V8 moments. His dedication, professionalism and care for his solvers are beyond expectations.


"It's a summary of who did what in the world of LAT puzzles this year.

* We published 109 different constructors in 2010: 91 men, 18 women.

* The women averaged nearly 3 puzzles each. The men averaged nearly 3.5 puzzles each.

* 25 constructors made their LAT debut in 2010.

* The top 10% of constructors accounted for more than 40% of the puzzles.

* 52 constructors were published only once.

Here are the top 10 (12 including ties) constructors for the year with the number of published puzzles for each:

Dan Naddor, 30; John Lampkin, 18; Donna Levin, 16; Don Gagliardo, 15; Barry Silk, 15; Gareth Bain, 11; Jeff Chen, 11; Jack McInturff, 9; Mike Peluso, 9; Gail Grabowski, 8; James Sajdak, 8; Bruce Venzke, 8.

The top Sunday constructors were John Lampkin, 8; Don Gagliardo, 5; Pam Klawitter, 4; Dan Naddor, 3.

To all our constructors, my deepest gratitude and appreciation.

To our bloggers and blog readers, thanks for your wonderful and insightful comments, and for keeping us on our toes!

Happy holidays to all!

Rich Norris"


I'd also like to share this great data sheet from JimmyB, who has meticulously kept a record of the names of constructors and the time it took him to solve each puzzle (Monday to Saturday) since March 23, 2009 when most of the papers were switched to LA Times crossword.

You can click either the LAT 2010 & LAT All button at the bottom of the page to read his complete list. Thanks for sharing, Jim!

Apr 5, 2010

Interview with Rich Norris

It's been a very entertaining and educating year since we switched to LA Times on March 21, 2010. A quick catch-up with editor Rich Norris for the latest status regarding our current puzzle.

Are you now comfortable with the difficulty graduation level of our puzzles? Several regulars on our blog have given up on Saturdays due to its continued inaccessibility.

This sounds almost like two questions, which I'll answer separately.

Overall difficulty: yes, I am comfortable with the current levels.

Saturday: Saturday puzzles are admittedly harder than they were during the summer/fall "easing" period, but they aren't as hard as they used to be before then. There's really no way to make them both challenging enough for more-skilled solvers and yet accessible to those used to Wayne Williams' level of difficulty. To me, it doesn't seem fair to clue the entire week at such a basic level. The higher-level solvers are entitled to one or two puzzles a week that challenge them.

How is your editing style in the past year different from your LAT/TMS Daily consolidation days?

Except for that "easing" period I mentioned above, not at all.

How many more Dan Naddor puzzles are left in your pipeline? And what was it like to work with Dan?

I don't have a current count, but there are enough to last the year and then some. I think I've already said all there is for me to say about working with Dan. To sum up: his penchant for constantly stretching limits tried my patience once in a while, but on the whole, he was an editor's dream. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him. And miss him.

Many of us missed Scott Atkinson's rotational turn in his recent TURNSTILE puzzle, and I certainly would not have noticed the counterclockwise one letter at a time rotation in Don Gagliardo's SHOE BOX puzzles if not for his Interview. How do you feel as an editor when solvers simply miss such woven intricacy?

I knew that the SHOE BOX puzzle would cause some confusion--because Tribune wouldn't allow me to use circles in puzzles at that time. Explaining such themes in prose is a challenge. I took a chance, and I feel it was a success because most solvers spotted it. "Turnstile" had circles, though. I thought that was enough theme help. It's not clear to me why so many of your readers didn't grasp the gimmick. It might simply be a lack of experience with this kind of puzzle. You can expect more circled themes in the future. Maybe that will help. ;-)

We've learned from the constructors that some of the entertaining clues are actually your creation. Where do you normally get your inspiration for cluing? What kind of newspapers/magazines/books/websites do you read every day?

My inspiration for cluing comes from years of experience, a pretty broad grasp of the English language, and my wife Kim, who's about as clever a wordsmith as I've ever met. I read the LA Times every day. Monthly, I subscribe to Consumer Reports and AARP the Magazine. I do loads of reading online: other newspapers, sports Web sites (I'm a sports nut), and whatever other sites my work happens to take me to.

Sep 21, 2009

Interview with Rich Norris (Sequel)

It's almost been 6 months since we switched to LA Times. Rich Norris has been entertaining us every day with his witty wordplay and superb editorship.

As several of our crossword constructors pointed out in their interviews or comments, Rich makes them look smarter. He often changes 1/3 to 1/2 of the clues, not simply adjusting the difficulty level or avoiding the repeat, but injecting playfulness to the clues as well. I often have fun guessing which clues are his.

I feel a follow-up interview with Rich is needed in order to clear up some of the questions I've been curious about. Hope this will address some of points you've been discussing at the blog Comments section as well.

What is the latest status with the eased-up puzzle situation? How much longer will this phase last?

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.

Why is there no puzzle title for LA/NY Times Monday to Saturday puzzle? How does it influence the theme answer selection or other aspects of puzzle construction?

When I took over at LAT in 1999, titles had never been used before. I considered instituting them, but I recalled Will Shortz telling me that one reason he decided not to start using titles when he became NYT editor was, simply, tradition (in my head I'm suddenly hearing strains from the "Fiddler on the Roof" song!). I felt the same way. LA Times puzzles had always been self-revealing, which is to say that themes were either inherently obvious or revealed by an answer in the puzzle itself. As a solver, I always preferred figuring out the theme without any title hints (except on Sunday), so I decided to keep it that way in my editing.

Can you give us a behind-the-scenes look at your editing process? How does a puzzle go from the constructor's hand to the local newspaper? What are the responsibilities of the test solvers and the final fact-checker Bob Klahn?

Once I've accepted a puzzle, I file it according to the day of the week on which I think it will be the most appropriate. Each day has its own backlog, and I pretty much publish puzzles in the order I accept them (except for special event puzzles). When the puzzle comes up for scheduling, I edit primarily for avoidance of repeat clues, for difficulty, and for accuracy. The first two of these are the most common reasons for clues being changed. I try not to repeat a clue for at least two months.

Once a week's puzzles are edited, they go to two testers, both former editors themselves. The testers comment on overall puzzle difficulty and clues they think aren't quite accurate or fair. They look for typos. Occasionally they pick up factual errors, but that's not their primary responsibility.

After I make changes based on testers' comments, I send the puzzles to my editor at Tribune. His main job is to check facts, but he also sometimes comments on difficulty. After we review his comments and agree on changes, I send the work to Bob, who's the final fact checker and all-around accuracy verifier.

How has your workload changed since the TMS puzzle switch? Are you able to make more puzzles yourself?

My workload has increased quite a bit, primarily as a result of increased submissions. Before the changeover I was receiving between 40 and 50 submissions a week. That number is now between 50 and 60, sometimes more. I do all my own correspondence. It takes between one and two full work days each week to keep up with it.

I only make puzzles when I absolutely have to. I'm making fewer puzzles now, but since I'm receiving more, I don't need to make as many, so it works out.

What is a perfect puzzle to you? What kind of themes/grids do you like the most?

If I publish a theme, it means I like it. It's hard for me to say which ones are favorites. I like puzzles with a lot of theme, as long as the volume of theme squares doesn't compromise the non-theme fill. I also particularly like themes that explore new territory without becoming overly complex about it. Don Gagliardo's money puzzle in August is a good example of that. The puzzle had a symmetry "error" which was tied to the theme. That was a truly creative concept, yet it wasn't an overly hard puzzle.

Asking me to define the perfect puzzle is like asking Ben Hogan what the perfect round of golf is! He said "18." The perfect puzzle is one without any black squares--15 rows and columns of valid 15-letter words and phrases. It's about as possible as shooting an 18 in golf. Yes, I'm being facetious, but what it all boils down to is that I don't think there is a perfect puzzle. There are many excellent puzzles, and those are the ones I publish daily.

Sep 3, 2009

Rich Norris Alias Names

Below are the pseudonyms of Rich Norris, editor of LA Times Daily Crossword

 (Updated on Nov 1, 2012. )

Cathy Carulli: Anagram of "Actually Rich"

Charlie Riley: "i.e., Really Rich"

Damien Peterson: "Editor's Pen Name"

Gia Christian: "Again It's Rich"

Lila Cherry: "Really Rich"

Meredith Ito: “I’m the Editor"

Nora Pearlstone: "Not a Real Person"

Sabrina Walden: "Brand New Alias".

Samantha Wine: "What's in a name".

Teri Smalley: "It's really me".

Rich also used Natalie Dyvens (anagram of "Valentine's Day") for his Feb. 14th, 2010 "Crazy Love" Valentine's Day anagram puzzle & Sheila Welton ("It's Halloween") on Oct 31, 2012.

Part of the above information is obtained from here.


Mar 23, 2009

Interview with Rich Norris

Rich Norris is the editor of LA Times Daily Crossword, which replaces TMS Daily edited by Wayne R. Williams in many local newspapers starting today.

He is also a very accomplished crossword constructors. His puzzles have been published by NY Times (186, second only to Manny Nosowsky, stunning!), NY Sun, Newsday, CrosSynergy, Wall Street Journal, etc.

I asked (via email) Mr. Norris a few questions that had been burning in my mind for two weeks. I hope you enjoyed the interview. I did.

Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you start crossword constructing and then editing?

I've solved puzzles since I was a teenager, but didn't try to make one until many years later, in the '90s. I sent two puzzles to Will Shortz at the NYT. Will's policy of crediting the constructor, which was a new policy at the Times, was certainly an incentive. Luckily, he accepted one. I did a lot of constructing for about six years--as many as 200 puzzles per year in a dozen different markets, including frequent NYT themeless puzzles. I heard in late 1999 that the LA Times editorship was about to be vacant, so I applied and was fortunate enough to land the job. I had learned a lot about editing from my association with Will, who wrote me a nice letter of recommendation. No doubt that helped. ;-)

LA Times puzzles get progressively more difficult as the week goes, while our old TMS Daily are randomly placed. Is that the major difference between the two puzzles? Do you also shun partial fills and "cheater squares" like Williams? What kind of fills are you trying to include or exclude?

I don't know enough about Wayne Williams' TMS puzzle to compare it to mine. I'm aware that he didn't use graduated difficulty, which is a concept I strongly believe in. Solvers come to the newspaper with a broad variety of solving skills. I think graduated difficulty provides the most amount of enjoyment and challenge for the largest number of solvers each week. I also think it helps puzzlers improve their solving skills.

I don't exclude partial phrases, but I do ask constructors to use them in moderation--usually no more than two in a 15x15 puzzle. As for fill, I like contemporary words and phrases. I ask constructors not to overload a grid with proper names, and not to allow two tough names to cross each other. When there is popular culture in a puzzle, I think it should be spread around: music, TV, movies, sports, science, literature, etc.

Can you describe to us what a typical editing process looks like? What percentage of the grid/cluing do you normally rework?

On average, I probably change anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of the clues. The majority of these changes are to adjust difficulty, avoid repeats of recent clues, and improve accuracy. I don't change that many grids, but if there are obscurities or answers that I think are too tough for a particular day of the week, I'll ask constructors to make changes. If they're unable to do it after one or two tries, then I'll help out.

You seem to have a core group of constructors who work for you on regular basis. How do you assign the puzzles to them? Or do they just submit a puzzle and then you rework to decide the difficulty level & allot to a different day?

I hardly ever assign a puzzle. Constructors send me work whenever the Muse visits them. I guess with some, she visits more often. (I think of the Crossword Muse as a "she" in honor of Margaret Farrar.) Constructors are a pretty savvy bunch. Most of them know when they're making a puzzle whether it's a Monday or a Wednesday or a Friday, and they try to clue accordingly. Puzzle placement during the week usually depends on theme difficulty. The simplest, most obvious themes will occur earlier in the week. Wordplay and trickery are generally reserved for the end of the week.

While it's true that some constructor names appear fairly regularly in our puzzles, it's still a wide-open market. I publish an average of 100 different constructors' work every year. This year, in less than four months (I edit about a month ahead), I've already published the work of more than 50 different constructors. You'll also see new constructors regularly. Last year there were 22 debuts.

I saw some of your ACPT photos, you look so serious. What do you do for fun? What would people find one thing that's most surprising about you?

LOL. I'm terrible in front of a still camera. I'm certainly serious about my work, but I don't think of myself as an overly serious person. I think you'll see plenty of playfulness in LA Times clues, especially later in the week.

When I'm not puzzling, I'm probably spending time with my wife, golfing, playing the piano (love Beethoven and the Romantics), shooting pool, or just walking outdoors. My wife also loves the same things I do: puzzles, golf, pool, the outdoors.

Hope this was helpful, and thanks again for asking. I hope you enjoy the puzzles.

Thank you, Mr. Norris.

Mar 15, 2009

Thursday March 12, 2009 Donna Hoke Kahwaty / Rich NorrisLA Times

Theme: SPAGHETTI (57A: Noodles, and word that can precede the beginning of 17-, 28-, or 43-Across)

17A: Commute, stereotypically: STRAPHANG

28A:Four-walled play areas: SQUASH COURTS

43A: 19th century communications pioneer: WESTERN UNION

(Note from C.C. This post is blogged by our sweet Santa Argyle. Click here for the LA Times Thursday March 12, 2009 puzzle.)

You can look at 13D link to see SPAGHETTI STRAPS.

You may visit your local produce and pick up some SPAGHETTI SQUASH.

Rent some old Eastwood films to watch SPAGHETTI WESTERNS.

SPAGHETTI is in Aisle 7.


1A: Goes arduously (through): WADES.

6A: London hrs. GMT. Greenwich Mean Time.

9A: Clarifying words: ID EST. Latin ‘that is’, abbreviated i.e. Do you think asking for a hint it was Latin is too much to ask?

14A: Thomas associate: ALITO. Clarence Thomas has served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 1991; Samuel Alito has served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 2006. Associate was the clue that we were looking a judge and not a buddy of Thomas the Tank Engine.

15A: Rock’s — Speedwagon: REO. There were still some of these trucks around when I was a wee lad. Our crossword.corner anthem.

16A: Conical home: TEPEE.

17A: Commute, stereotypically: STRAPHANG. On a subway or bus, when you can’t find a seat, you stand and hang on to a strap. poster

19A: Line to the audience: ASIDE. My first thought was a line up the audience, aisle, instead of a line spoken directly to the audience.

20A: Cut canines: TEETHED.

21A: Joseph Kennedy’s middle daughter: EUNICE. Eunice Shriver, 87, was the fifth of nine children of Joseph and Rose Kennedy and she helped found the Special Olympics as a national event.

23A: Be off: ERR.

24A: Udder parts: TEATS. They're real and they're spectacular.

26A: Pale-green moth: LUNA

28A: Four-walled play areas: SQUASH COURTS. You might find some babies in these play areas.

31A: Sort: GROUP. Sort into groups or group into sorts, works either way.

33A: Frat house empties: KEGS. The kegger parties can get pretty rowdy, or so I’m told.

34A: Take in: EAT. It would have made more sense without the “IN”.

35A: Swedish coin: KRONA. Plural, kronor.

36A: Lith., formerly: SSR. Lithuania, along with Estonia and Latvia, were known as the Baltic States, on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. and were incorporated into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as constituent republics in 1940. They became independent again in 1991.

37A: A bridal veil may be attached to one: TIARA.

39A: Hotel addition?: IER. Hotelier is the manager or owner of a hotel or inn. The Cornell University School of Hotel Administration is the place to go if you want to become a hotelier.

40A: Send to the canvas: KAYO. The pronunciation of KO, which stands for Knock Out, from boxing.

42A: One of the Papas: DENNY. The Mamas and Papas L. to R., Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, John Phillips, and Michelle Phillips Creeque Alley with pics from the Monterey Pop Festival.

43A: 19th century communications pioneer: WESTERN UNION. Western Union was founded in Rochester, New York, in 1851 as The New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company. It changed its name to Western Union Telegraph Company in 1856 at the insistence of Ezra Cornell, one of the founders of Cornell University, to signify the joining of telegraph lines from coast to coast.

46A: Stubborn people won’t give one: INCH. Stubborn Britons won’t give a centimeter.

47A: Clan symbol: TOTEM. A large pole carved with family symbols. Beaver Clan totem.

48A: First name in design: LIZ. Liz Claiborne, with Art Ortenberg and Leonard Boxer, founded in 1976, Liz Claiborne Inc., a fashion company that sells directly to customers. In 1986, it was the first company founded by a woman to be listed in the Fortune 500. She was also the first designer to insist that her collection be placed together on the sales floor. Shoppers no longer went from shirt department to pant department to coordinate an outfit, revolutionizing the way department stores arranged clothing and created the role of fashion merchandising as we know it today.

51A: Minimalist composer Glass: PHILIP. Although his music is often, though controversially, described as minimalist, he describes himself instead as a composer of "music with repetitive structures". sample

53A: Closet article: GARMENT.

56A: Word with pipe or sign: PEACE.

59A: Sailing maneuvers: TACKS. The combination of the aerodynamic force from the sails and the hydrodynamic force from the underwater hull section allows motion in almost any direction, except straight into the wind. Or ask Jeannie.

60A: Big Apple subway div.: IRT. New York City’s Interborough Rapid Transit.

61A: Actress Georgia: ENGEL. Georgia Bright Engel, 60, is an American film and television actress probably best known for sweet Georgette Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She is the one on the right.

62A: Tray filler: ASHES. Ashtray; I was thinking ice cubes.

63A: Seek redress, in a way: SUE. The American way.

64A: Dig deeply?: ADORE. A devious clue.


1D: Useless venture: WASTE.

2D: Shorten or lengthen, say: ALTER.

3D: More desperate: DIRER. I can’t decide if it is pronounced ‘dire’ or ‘direrer’; I think I’d use more dire.

4D: Pennsylvanie, e.g.: ETAT. A little help that it is French would have been nice. Pennsylvania and state. Something like ‘Pennsylvanie to Tours tourists’.

5D: This year’s grad, two years ago: SOPH.

6D: Like a good egg?: GRADE A. What it looks like without its shell.

7D: “So many ___, so little time”: Mae West: MEN.

8D: As a team: TOGETHER.

9D: “Let’s call ___ evening” IT AN. We may be seeing more of these partial fills now.

10D: “I Spy” TV studio: DESILU. I Spy was a secret agent series, 1965 to 1968. Robert Culp and Bill Cosby were traveling as "tennis bums". In reality, they were spies. Desilu Productions was owned by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

11D: Gourmet: EPICUREAN. A follower of Epicurus (341-270 BC), a famous Greek philosopher, who has been regarded, erroneously, as teaching a doctrine of refined voluptuousness, esp. to the luxuries of the table.

12D: Like a couch potato: SEDENTARY. Accustomed to sitting a great deal and doing little exercise.

13D: Top with a slogan: TEE. This stumped me for quite awhile. Top – a garment worn on the upper torso, also known as a shirt; so a shirt with a slogan on it could be a T-shirt, also known as a TEE; which gives me an excuse to link a sexy picture. The slogan, in case you missed it, is "I'll be using theses to my advantage", and, yes, I know, technically, she isn't wearing a T-shirt. I DON"T CARE.

18D: Distressed: HET UP. Archaic

22D: Search and rescue org.: USCG. United States Coast Guard.

25D: Tries to date: ASKS OUT.

27D: The Charles’ dog: ASTA.

28D: Charlie, to Martin: SON. Martin Sheen is the father of Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. L. to R., Emilio, Charlie, and Martin.

29D: Tremble: QUAKE.

30D: Bone: Pref.: OSTEO.

31D: Stew ingredients: GREEN PEAS.

32D: Personality test creator: RORSCHACH. Is it a Rorschach test or a crossword I tied to do with a fountain pen?

35D: Smallest ratite bird: KIWI. A ratite is any of large, flightless birds. The Ostrich is the largest, next is the Emu, Cassowary, Rhea, and smallest, Kiwi, a chicken-sized bird.

36D: Overview: SYNOPSIS. Precis!

38D: Quaint quarters: INNS.

41D: Introductory humanities class: ART I. It would be ART IOI usually.

42D: Joltin’ Joe: DiMAG. Both are nicknames for Joe DiMaggio. A member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, DiMaggio was a 3-time MVP winner and 13-time All-Star (the only player to be selected for the All-Star Game in every season he played).

44A: Alan of “Growing Pains”: THICKE. Alan Thicke, 62, is a Canadian actor, songwriter, and game and talk show host. He is best known for his role as Jason Seaver, the patriarch on the ABC television series Growing Pains.

45D: Prove false: NEGATE.

48D: Abandon one’s inhibitions: LET GO.

49D: Put to rest?: INTER. Rest In Peace

50D: Scrabble 10-pointer: Z TILE. A real Scrabblely answer

52D: Not as much: LESS.

54D: Ostrich relative: RHEA. A kiwi relative, too.

55D: Fix: MEND.

56D: Home-school link, briefly: PTA

58D: “Piece of the Rock” company, on the NYSE: PRU. “Piece of the Rock” is the slogan for Prudential Financial Inc. whose symbol on the New York Stock Exchange is PRU.