Showing posts with label Stanley B. Whitten. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stanley B. Whitten. Show all posts

Jan 5, 2009

Monday January 5, 2009 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Access Control

18A: "Fatal Attraction" star: GLENN CLOSE

57A: "Fallin" singer: ALICIA KEYS

3D: Magical command: OPEN SESAME

29D: Noted porridge taster: GOLDILOCKS

A few things first:

1) I know that some of you only read my main blog entry every day. I suggest you start visiting Comments section. You will find more fascinating information and intelligent discussions there.

2) For those who have been lurking on the Comments section, I hope you will join the fray today. I would love to hear your "whining" about the puzzle or puzzle inspired topics.

3) I've decided to cut down my blogging activity this year. There will be no change on the main blog entry. But I won't make as many appearances on the Comments section from now on, unless I have questions or feel some explanation is needed.

As every comment is forwarded to my email account, I will still read and study every one of your post. Can't tell you in words how appreciative I am of the time and effort you guys have given me to better understand American culture. I am very touched by your kindness and generosity. Thank you.

Now back to the puzzle. I know GLENN CLOSE starred in "Fatal Attraction", though I've never seen the movie. ALICIA KEYS is such a talented singer. I love "Fallin". I've never heard of "The Story of GOLDILOCKS and the Three Bears". But I don't like the embedded *LOCKS in this answer. KEYS, OPEN and CLOSE are all stand-alone independent theme answers. Lack of theme consistency in my opinion.

Also, the clue for PONDWEED (20A: Submerged perennials) should be in singular form. Easy solving today.


14A: Pith helmet: TOPI. Unknown to me. Pictures of antelopes showed up when I googled TOPI. I've never heard of "Pith helmet" either.

15A: Japanese-American: NISEI. Second generation, to be exact. The root word SEI means birth, Ni means second. ISSEI is first generation (IS means first). SANSEI is third generation (SAN means third), don't confuse it with SENSEI (Judo/Karate teacher). Also, KIBEI is a person of Japanese descent, born in the U.S. but educated in Japan (KI is to return, BEI is America).

25A: Granitelike rock: GNEISS. Only learned this morning that it's pronounced the same as nice. I might confuse you with my spoken English. There is no distinction between my "bad" and "bed", "sax" and "sex".

40A: Take away game: NIM. I got it from down clues. What is it? Why "Take away"? Is it related to Nimbod in anyway?

41A: Indian bread?: RUPEE. "Nepal/Pakistan/Sri Lanka bread?" as well.

47A: Alabama port: MOBILE. Had no idea that it's Alabama's only seaport. Hank Aaron was born here. Come to the Comments section and say Hi if you are from MOBILE.

54A: Gorbachev policy: GLASNOST. Literally "publicity/openess". I know the meaning of this word when I read it in the newspaper. But I could not spell it out without help.

64A: Many-headed monster: HYDRA. Nine-headed, to be accurate. He was slain by Hercules. Reminds me of Janus, the two-faced god, from whom we got January.


9D: Crystal radio component: ZINCITE. New to me. I only know ZINC.

13D: Very French?: TRES. Also "A Spanish crowd?" (three).

25D: Accra location: GHANA. Often see ACCRA clued as "Ghana Capital". Ex-UN Chief Kofi Anna came from GHANA. I have an autographed photo of him.

27D: Narcotic nut: BETEL. The same as areca nut, right?

30D: Bay window: ORIEL. Here is a photo. Doesn't look like bay-shape to me.

45D: Ancient calculator: ABACUS. I really, really hate this clue "Ancient". It implies to me that ABACUS was used ages ago. I used it when I was at primary school. And my uncle still prefers ABACUS over calculator. Sorry, Calef, I just can't be persuaded by your "been in existance for a long time" argument.

47D: Bad atmosphere: MIASMA. Just learned this word a few days ago.

54D: Anglo-Saxon tax: GELD. New definition to me. I always associate GELD with "castrate".


Dec 30, 2008

Tuesday December 30, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Friends of Sloppy Joes

17A: Cheap, low quality wine: SNEAKY PETE

60A: Pal of Roy Rogers: GABBY HAYES

11D: 2002 Giants manager: DUSTY BAKER

28D: Clint Eastwood role: DIRTY HARRY

Well, I got DUSTY BAKER immediately, then obtained its symmetrical partner DIRTY HARRY very quickly too. I did have this "lucky" feeling and thought the other theme answers might be soil-y people, like golfer SANDY LYLE (Masters, and British Open winner) or someone MUDDY or SLUSHY.

Have never heard of SNEAKY PETE. Is it a slang? GABBY HAYES is not a name I could fetch out of my memory shelf readily. In fact, I don't remember where and when I stored it. I also encountered various problems at different spots: TAMMUZ & BUTE, SETI & EZIO, tough intersections for me.

I really like the clues for ACRE (49A: Part of a plot?) and IRENE (33D: Castle that danced), very clever.

Stan, I know you are reading this blog, please don't tell me the clue for BUTE (42A: Island in the Firth of Clyde) is your original. You have CLYDE as an answer for 50D: Glasgow waterway.


14A: New Italian bread: EURO. "Old Italian bread" is LIRA or LIRE.

15A: Refashion: ALTER. I like this "Re*" clue.

19A: Egyptian fertility goddess: ISIS. Ennui. Give me Bill Clinton's "IS IS" definition clue.

20A: Chafing-dish heat: STERNO. I wonder what's the origin of STERNO.

21A: Large knives: MACHETES. Have you ever been to a sugarcane field?

23A: '58 Presley hit: DON'T. No idea. If you find the clip, please share with us on the Comments box. I could only find his "Don't Be Cruel".

26A: Sub finder's acronym: ASDIC (Anti Submarine Detection Investigation Committee). Completely unknown to me. I could only think of SONAR.

36A: Sitcom equine: MR. ED. I am more used to the "Talking horse" clue. Was it a good show?

37A: Kicker Yepremian: GARO. Another unknown. Was he already bald when he was playing? Why was he named GARO instead of GARY?

45A: String along: COZEN. I was unaware of the "deceive" meaning of "String along".

51A: Heart rhythm: DIASTOLE. OK, according to Clear Ayes, diastolic blood pressure should be less than 80, and systolic pressure should be less than 120. Funny how I've never paid attention to this stuff before.

55A: Crooner Julius: LA ROSA. This is an interesting clip.

63A: Old defense acronym: NORAD. Its motto is 3D: Deter, Detect and Defend.

64A: Riga resident: LETT. Why LETT? Shouldn't its resident be called Latvian?

65A: Blackstone: ONYX

67A: Basso Pinza: EZIO. I forgot. This guy is in "South Pacific". What a strange name.


1D: Porgy's woman: BESS. "Harry's woman" too.

4D: Billboards, in Britain: HOARDINGS. New British word to me.

5D: Synthetic fabric: RAYON

6D: Matterhorn, e.g.: ALP. Gimme to me only when it's clued as "Mont Blanc, e.g."

8D: Stiff bristle: SETA. Stiff, stiff clue. Why can't we just have a normal partical "SET A good example" clue?

24D: Hebrew month: TAMMUZ. If the answer is not the 4-letter ADAR, then I am lost. TAMMUZ is the tenth month in Jewish calendar.

26D: Some Egyptian clerics: ABBAS. Oh, is that how Mahmoud ABBAS got his name? Good to know. What a mess there!

31D: Sister of Venus: SERENA. The Williams sisters.

37D: Carbonated beverage: GINGER ALE

48D: Cromwell's earldom: ESSEX

51D: Dealer's wheels: DEMO. Can we also clue it as "Obama's party"?

54D: River of Spain: EBRO. This flow-er travels entirely within Spain before it flows into the Mediterranean Sea. I've found out that the answer for a "River of Spain" clue is either RIO or EBRO.

56D: Court crier's word: OYEZ. I could only think of "All rise".

57D: Planet-finding grp.: SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Mine was NASA.

58D: In the matter of: AS TO


Dec 8, 2008

Monday December 8, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: The Who

15A: Lendl playing badly?: IVAN THE TERRIBLE

37A: Namath serving drinks? JOE THE BARTENDER

58A: O'Donnel working construction? ROSIE THE RIVETER

I was thinking of JOE THE PLUMBER. Had never heard of JOE THE BARTENDER.

Besides BILLY THE KID and JACK THE RIPPER, who else do you think will be a great theme answer candidate? This constructor (Stan B. Whitten) is probably too modest to clue STAN THE MAN. Had our ex-governor JESSE "THE BODY" run for the senate seat in November, Minnesota probably would not have this messy recount now.

I adore this puzzle. Great theme and a rare action-filled "Do" puzzle. Lots of verbs, so unusual: GOOF, ERRS, EMBED, ELATES, ENJOY, REVERE, OGLE, SNEAK, STATE, OVERLAP, ELEVATE, STUNS, MOOED, and ROTATES.

Some of the fills can also be verbalized too: DETOUR (34A: Way around), LIVE (2D: In person), OUT (7D: On the market), FORCE OUTS (9D: Some failures to advance runners) and ENTER (62A: Key PC key). I think a simple "Go in" would be perfect for ENTER.


1A: Pixyish: ELFIN. I always thought the adjective for pixie is "pixie-like".

19A: Palm starch: SAGO. Is anyone suffering from gluten intolerance/sensitivity? SAGO flour is safe, so is rice flour of course.

16A: Govt. agents: T-MEN. I think the most famous movie about T-MEN is probably "The Untouchables". Kevin Costner plays Eliot Ness.

20A: Long-distance operators?: REMOTES. Nice clue.

21A: Spotted wildcats: OCELOTS. Do you know that cougar, puma, mountain lion and panther are the same thing?

24A: First wife?: EVE. I suppose you can also clue EVE as "First mother?/grandma?" or "First offender?". "Second name?" though.

28A: Clarinet relative: OBOE. Ah, the most popular "blow" instrument in Xword!

30A: Dr. Tim's drug: LSD. I sure don't believe "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" has anything to do with LSD.

44A: French movie: CINE. I always thought it's CINEMA.

64A: Scottish dagger: SNEE. Dirk is also "Scottish dagger". I don't know the difference between the two.


3D: "The Film-__ Man": FLAM. Here is clip. I've never seen the movie.

4D: Uncorrupted: INNOCENT. They are not really synonymous, are they?

10D: Subway gate: STILE. Good change. I am tired of the "Steps over a fence" clue.

11D: Early pulpit: AMBO. New word to me. This AMBO looks quite modern.

12D: Moolah: GELT. I wonder how many calories are in one of these GELT coins. Probably the same as in one clementine.

18D: Conditional contraction: HE'D. I don't think I would have got it without the across fills. Sometimes simple word stumps me.

27D: Afrikaners: BOERS. Taiwan was under the Dutch control from 1624 to 1662 (The Dutch Formosa).

29D: Cylinder diameter: BORE. I did not know this.

30D: Rock shelf: LEDGE. New definition to me also.

31D: Inscribed stone pillar: STELA. The plural is STELAE.

34D: Undies: DELICATES. That's why they should be hand-washed.

39D: Happening that didn't happen: NON-EVENT. I don't understand this clue. The event, though anticlimatic, did happen, right?

50D: Pitcher Hershiser: OREL. Wikipedia says OREL Hershiser is "the only player to receive the Cy Young award, the Championship Series MVP award, and the World Series MVP award in the same season (1988)."

51D: Lemming cousin: VOLE. What is he eating? Lemming is new to me.

53D: Unit of loudness: PHON. Learned from doing Xword. Looks like a sound prefix to me.


Dec 1, 2008

Monday December 1, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Tutti Frutti

17A: July 4 noisemaker: CHERRY BOMB

53A: Nonsense!: APPLESAUCE

11D: Neato!: PEACHY KEEN

28D: Bicyclist's perch: BANANA SEAT

I was wondering if this constructor thought of Christina APPLEGATE for 53A. It would be a lovely "Inedible fruit" puzzle. Pearl Buck has PEAR in her name.

My real given name consists of two Chinese dynastries whose capital city was in Xi'An. How did you get your name?

I don't like the clue for HOLMES (29D: Doyle's sleuth) because SLEUTH is the answer to 24A: Clue collector. I also hate the clue for SMEAR (5A: Smudge). So many ways to avoid the letter repetition.

Why "Witty quips" for SALLIES (24D)? Aren't all quips supposed to be witty? It should be "Witty remarks", right? By the way, this definition of of SALLY is new to me.

Nice puzzle, but not as sweet as John Underwood's "Fruity Places".


1A: A little night music?: TAPS. The military bugle night call I suppose. But why "A little"? TAPS is short for what?

14A: "Rhyme Pays": ICE T

19A: Rattan piece: CANE

20A: Stories in installments: SERIALS

21A: Dieter and Lou: BROCKS. Only know Lou BROCK. Have never heard of Dieter. What a strange name! David BROCK probably has more name recognition than either of them. Talk about a flip-flop.

23A: Handyman's letter: DIY. Handyman also needs KIT (34A: Set of parts)

26A: Jazz vocalist Mercer: MABEL. I was so ecstatic about this clue because I finally committed her to my memory. And I am so ready for "Normand of Silent movie".

29A: Beauty parlor do: HAIRSTYLE. Helen Mirren looks great in any HAIRSTYLE.

33A: Lassie's breed: COLLIE. I wonder what's the origin of COLLIE.

36A: Ziegfeld show: FOLLIES. Not familiar with this show. See also the 1946 film trailer.

41A: Forest fauna: PINE TREES. The clue should be "Forest flora".

43A: Perfect or past: TENSE

46A: Six-shooter: PISTOL

48A: Pirate ship: CORSAIR. I forgot. SHIVER ME TIMBERS was clued as "Cry on a CORSAIR" on a NYT puzzle several days ago. Have you used that phrase or "Well Blow Me Down" before?

59A: Der __ (Adenauer): ALTE. Man, this guy's nickname always gives me trouble. It's the same as IL DUCE (Mussolin's title), isn't it? "The leader"?


4D: "The Lord of the Rings" character: STRIDER. No idea. I guessed.

10D: "Jo's Boys" author: ALCOTT. Have you read this book? I read "Little Women" in Chinese long time ago.

22D: Subterfuges: RUSES. Every time I see "Subterfuge", I see mushroom cloud. Always confuse the word with centrifuge.

25D: "__ of the Field": LILIES. Great movie.

26D: Tidy any loose ends: MOP UP

27D: Treasured violin: AMATI. Strad is the other one.

33D: One of a pair: CORRELATE. I always thought CORRELATE is a verb.

40D: Leave port: SET SAIL

46D: 12-point type: PICA. What is "12-point"?

51D: Rip apart: REND. Its past tense is RENT.

55D: Mom-and-pop grp.: PTA. I was thinking of the Mom-and-Pop stores, so I wanted Small Business Association (SBA?).


Nov 20, 2008

Thursday November 20, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Be Careful

20A: Start of practical advice: NEVER TEST THE

39A: Part 2 of advice: DEPTH OF THE WATER

59A: End of advice: WITH BOTH FEET

Is this supposed to be an sarcastic advice? Who tests the depth of water with both feet?

I think I have common ground with Stan. We can talk. He seldom stumps me with obscure words or names. There is a certain ALOE calmness about his grid.

Some flaws:

10A: No-no: TABU. Needs "var" in the clue.

24A: Mets stadium: SHEA. Not any more, SHEA is being demolished now. Citi Field will be Mets stadium in 2009.

29D: Booze, butts and bullets bureau: ATF. Needs an abbreviated "org." or "agcy" to replace "bureau".

39D: Isl. off Australia: TAS. The official abbreviation of Tasmania is TASM. "Prof.'s helpers" would be a better clue for TAS.


5A: Korbut and others: OLGAS. Another Olympic gold medal winner is TARA (65A: Skater Lipinski)

15A: Apply blusher: ROUGE. I did not know that ROUGE can be a verb.

25A: Turkey mister: TOM. Did anyone think the clue was asking for "Mr." in Turkish language?

30A: Free from restraint: AT LARGE. The first word that popped into my brain is BRALESS.

32A: McBain and McMahon: EDS. Did not know ED McBain.

44A: Mafia leader: CAPO. Sometimes it's clued as "Guitar device".

45A: B'way sign: SRO. Do they really have SRO sign in B'way now?

46A: Napoleon's birthplace: CORSICA. See this map. The answer could be BAKERY if the constructor is in the mood to play with "birthplace". Want some Napoleon?

53A: Board joint: DADO. No idea. I got it from the down fills. See this DADO joint.

64A: "Jurassic Park" star Sam: NEILL. Not familiar with this actor. Have never seen "Jurassic Park".

70A: Acapulco bread?: PESOS


5D: Sacred story set to music: ORATORIO. Got it this time. Wikipedia says Handel is "credited with writing the first English language ORATORIO. Is his "Messiah" in English then?

8D: First name in mysteries: AGATHA. Interesting to read her adventurous stories in Iraq during 1930's with her archaeologist husband.

9D: Last part of a sonnet: SESTET. New definition to me. Dictionary says "it's the last six lines of a sonnet in Italian form".

12D: Hogan or Franklin: BEN. Hogan had such a compact & powerful swing. Another golfer is HAL (22D: Sutton of PGA), one of the nicest guys in PGA Tour. He cries easily.

21D: Stick 'em up!: REACH. Is "Stick 'em up" a slang? I've never heard of it before. And ADHERE (49D: Stick fast). I thought "Stick (to)" is a better clue.

32D: Formal proclamation: EDICT

33D: Apollo's birthplace: DELOS. Also the birthplace for his Twin sister Artemis of course. I wonder why there are so many islands ending with letter "os" in Cyclades. See KEA? It's in our puzzle last time.

41D: Formal letters: EPISTLES. New definition to me.

59D: Split: WENT. They are not synonymous, are they? I penned in RENT (pp form of REND) first.

61D: Shriner topper: FEZ. "Shriner" is a new word to me.


Oct 13, 2008

Monday October 13, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Breakfast Sandwich

17A: "Apollo 13" co-star: KEVIN BACON

56A: Decorative molding: EGG-AND-DART

11D: Horse of the year, 1938: SEABISCUIT

27D: Tough luck: HARD CHEESE

So heavy, a glass of fresh orange juice and a lightly toasted English muffin is more healthy.

I have never heard of EGG-AND-DART before. I don't think I like "EGG" being placed in front of the phrase. It's inconsistent with the other three theme entries. I wonder why the constructor did not consider CODDLED EGG or POACHED EGG, which has the same number of letters.

I don't mind seeing O'HARE (26D: Midwest airport) and O'HARA (31D: Scarlett's last name) in the same puzzle. But I really can't stand having SEEKS (62A: Goes after) and SEEK (49D: Endeavor to obtain) in one grid. Very lazy construction/editing.

I wish WAR (24D: Word with cry or chest) were clued as WAR Admiral (1937 Triple Crown winner) to pair up with SEABISCUIT. They raced together several times, didn't they? I cannot remember the movie too clearly.


5A: Malcolm __ Warner: JAMAL. He was in "The Cosby Show". Unknown to me. Wikipedia said he was named after Malcolm X and Jazz pianist Ahmad JAMAL.

14A: Mine entrance: ADIT. Here is a picture.

15A: Shaped like Humpty Dumpty: OVATE. I thought of OVOID first.

24A: Japanese horseradish: WASABI. Do you like WASABI peas?

25A: Minerals scale: MOHS. Mineral hardness is measured by MOHS scale. I did not know this. Wikipedia says the hardness of TALC (19A: Soft mineral) is 1, Diamond is 10. Interesting, on the MOHS scale, a fingernail has a hardness of 2.5. I wonder what are the numbers for frozen bananas and hard-boiled eggs.

35A: Like bags under eyes: POUCHY. Only know pouch.

36A: Sail support: YARDARM. No idea. What is it?

38A: Kind of reality?: VIRTUAL

40A: Artist Holbein: HANS. This is his famous portrait of Catherine Howard, "the rose without a thorn".

42A: Right-hand page: RECTO. Verso is left-hand page (even-numbered page).

55A: Zeno of __: ELEA. The other Zeno, Zeno of Citium, the Stoic, was born Cyprus.

59A: Cake cut: PIECE. Ha, this was not a PIECE of cake for me. Mine was slice.

61A: Tot seat: KNEE. Joint for jerks? Yes!


1D: Capital of Azerbaijan: BAKU. Garry Kasparov was born in BAKU. He showed guts running for Russian presidency last year. He is very articulate and idealistic in a certain way.

2D: March's middle: IDES. Or the middle of May, July and October, and the 13th of other months.

3D: Seedy bar: DIVE. I just learned this word a few days ago.

4D: Steps over fences: STILES

5D: Grass beads: JOB'S TEARS. I've never liked JOB'S TEAR soup, which is very popular in Asia. It's supposed to soften your facial skin.

18D: Beatty of "Deliverance": NED. Remember this dueling banjos scene?

22D: Small drums: TABORS. Is 10" the average diameter of those TABOR drums?

25D: Urban honcho: MAYOR

32D: Strong polyester film: MYLAR. I strung the answer together from across clues. What a strange name!

35D: Evergreen droppings: PINE CONES. "Droppings" conjures up a very unpleasant image to me.

43D: Thick-heeled shoe: WEDGIE

44D: Smear or blur: SMUDGE

50D: Highlands group: CLAN. It's rooted Scottish Gaelic "clann", meaning family.


Sep 10, 2008

Wednesday September 10, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Location, Location, Location

17A: College, maybe: HIGHER EDUCATION

39A: Empty-nester's weight problem: MIDDLE AGE SPREAD

62A: Alaska not included: LOWER FORTY- EIGHT

I've never heard of "MIDDLE SPREAD". Why does "Empty-nester" have such weight problem? Do they tend to overindulge on their SECOND HONEYMOON (clued as "Empty-nesters' vacation last time) or what? (Addendum: My mistake on 39A: "AGE" escaped me earlier.)

This puzzle structure reminded me of Barry Silk's "Re Location" puzzle we had on May 27. His theme answers are:


But I think I like this one more. I am very fond of run-through 15-letter theme answers. They look beautiful to me.

I got the theme very earlier on, but still struggled a bit. Was stumped by a few new words. Had to google.


1A: Fuji flow: LAVA. Ah, the real "Hot flower". I like this kind misleading flow-er=river (a thing that flows) wordplay.

5A: Sportscaster Rashad: AHMAD. I forgot. He appeared in our puzzle not long ago. See this Pop Secret commerical.

10A: Guidance fin: VANE. "fin"? I always associate "fin" with fish.

15A: Upper deck, briefly: FO'C'LE (Forecastle). I've never heard of this word before.

16A: Stravinsky or Sikorsky: IGOR. Know the composer Stravinsky. Have totally forgot about the aviation pioneer Sikorsky.

21A: Eye-opening experiences?: DILATIONS. I like this clue.

22A: Candidate Landon: ALF. He was defeated by FDR in the 1936 presidential election.

24A: Utah ski resort: ALTA. Where are his legs?

31A: Becomes entrenched: SETS IN

36A: Longtime Cleveland Orchestra director: SZELL (George). Total stranger to me. Here is some more Mozart for Barb B. How to pronounce SZELL?

45A: Actor Wesley: SNIPES. He is Willie Mayes Hayes in "Major League", one of my favorite baseball movies. I like "Field of Dream" the most.

43A: Illumination: LIGHT. Thoreau said "Let nothing come between YOU and the LIGHT". I don't quite get it. Who is the LIGHT & Why?

47A: E. O'Brien film: D.O.A. Was stumped again! Here is the poster. I hated the clue.

52A: Imposing personalities: PRESENCES. Are you OK with this clue?

65A: Family of Indy winner: UNSER. Would not have got this one and LOESS (68A: Fertile loam) without the down clues.


1D: Bert the Cowardly Lion: LAHR. Here is a good clip... "If I Only Had the Nerve..."

3D: Lyra's brightest star: VEGA

4D: Guru's community: ASHRAM. Would not have got this one without the across clues.

8D: "Be-Bop- ___": ALULA. This is the song. New to me. I've never heard of Gene Vincent.

10D: Debaser: VITIATOR. Another new word to me. VITIATE is the verb.

11D: Exchange fee: AGIO. Ha, I did remember this strange money exchange term.


23D: Shake up: FAZE. Still remember Tom Pruce's "Discombobulate" puzzle?

25D: Synagogue platforms: BEMAS

27D: Arboreal lemur: INDRI. It's clued as "Madagascar primate" last time. He does not seem to have a tail, does he?

30D: Chilly: ALGID. Another new word to me.

33DL Writer Calvino: ITALO. Or the Aviator Balbo.

34D: Simpleton: NODDY. New word to me also. I wrote down NINNY first.

36D: Dark horse: SLEEPER

40D: Overthrowers: DEPOSERS. I've been brainwashed by this crossword editor to think of "Usurp" and "Usurper"first.

46D: Wicked: SINFUL. I don't think it's SINFUL to openly discuss morel issue, do you?

53D: Pudding fruit: PLUM. Hmmm, sweet and juicy!

54D: Diva Ponselle: ROSA. I got her with no trouble this time.


Sep 2, 2008

Tuesday September 2, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Before You Cross the Street

20A: Never say die: STOP AT NOTHING

38A: Burton/Bloom film of 1958: LOOK BACK IN ANGER

56A: Eavesdropper's perch: LISTENING POST

Why LISTENING? Why not LISTEN*? I really hate this kind of lack of consitency in theme answers. But I could not think of a 13-letter phrase with the word "LISTEN" in it, can you?

I was not excited by this puzzle at all. Nothing sparkling. It looks very ordinary to me. However, I was not familiar with either the song "Stop, Look and Listen" or the movie "Stop, Look and Listen", so I could have been missing on something important here. Maybe you can enlighten me with your take.

Had to ask Google for help on PEYOTE & HYSON. You could not believe it, but I've never heard of HYSON green tea before.


1A: Momma's partner: POPPA. I always thought it's Mama and PAPA.

14A: Of hearing: AURAL. What's the difference between AURAL, OTIC, auricular & auditory?

15A: Chummy: CLOSE. Come CLOSER with Glen CLOSE? What is the product?

16A: William Tell's canton: URI. Have not seen the "Mentalist Geller" clue for a long time.

18A: Holliman and Scruggs: EARLS. Have heard of EARL Scruggs, not Holliman. That's a great clip. Steve Martin is so talented.

19A: Road to Rouen: RUE. Good alliteration. This is probably the most famous RUE in Paris.

23A: Ornamental container: VASE. Hmmm, I still want "Flower Holder" clue.

26A: Mescal: PEYOTE. New word to me. I did not know what's the meaning of "mescal". WP says PEYOTE is also called Mescal Button or the Divine Cactus. Look at this flowering PEYOTE. WP also says that "Native Americans used the plant for its curative properties as well. They employed PEYOTE for treating such varied ailments as toothache, pain in childbirth, fever, breast pain, skin diseases, rheumatism, diabetes, colds, and blindness." Melissa is probably aware of this medicinal use.

27A: Peacock's "eyes": OCELLI. Singular is OCELLUS, dimunutive of Oculus (plural: Oculi) . New to me also. I did not know those eyespots are called OCELLI. Rememer this Pantheon OCULUS (clued as "Eyelike window") I linked last time?

31A: Muslim prince, var.: AMEER. Or EMEER sometimes.

43A: Of blood: HEMAL. Ha, I got this one. Had to thank Barry for his AKIN ("Blood-related) mistake last week.

45A: "Painting" painter: MIRO (Joan). Sigh... what can I say? Our editor is obsessed with "Painting". This is MIRO's "The Farm".

50A: Partly frozen drink: FRAPPE. I've never had FRAPPE before. What does it taste like?

55A: Simpson kid: BART. What, am I not good enough to be clued as BART?

65A: Inorganic compound: AMIDE. "Inorganic"? Are you sure?

66A: Old-time journalist Pyle: ERNIE. I forgot. Obtained from the across clue. Would have been a gimme if it's clued as ERNIE Els or ERNIE Banks.


2D: "___ Town": OUR. Is it good? I am not familiar with any of Thornton Wilder's work.

3D: Keeps going: PRESSES ON

4D: Chalklike crayon: PASTEL. Ha, that's Degas, he loved PASTEL. Wonderful "After Bathing"!

9D: At a slant: ASLOPE. I would prefer the clue to be a simple "Tilted".

22D: Green tea: HYSON. Sometimes Cantonese spelling can really throws me off. I grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese, Xi'An dilact to be exact.

23D: See-through fabric: VOILE. Pretty pink VOILE skirt. I like the small dots.

32D: Call back?: ECHO. I rather like the Greek mythology on ECHO/Narcissus. Have you ever had unrequited love before? The saddest thing in this world is to love someone who does not love you.

35D: Shaking up: AGITATING

39D: Neatly maintained: KEMPT. I only knew UNKEMPT.

40D: Image Award grp.: NAACP

46D: Emetic medication: IPECAC. New to me also. I did not the meaning of "emetic" either. Hard to imagine the root of this plant can be so powerful. Do you like ginger root?

52D: Very, in music: ASSAI. Allegro ASSAI & Lento ASSAI.

57D: Footnote abbr.: IBID. Sometimes it's OP. CIT. I forgot what's the difference between them.

63D: Back of a chariot?: EER. Charioteer. New word to me. I'm used to the "End of auction" clue. Here is the The Charioteer of Delphi Statue. Incredible detail. Look at his eye lashes, amazing!


Aug 20, 2008

Wednesday August 20, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Initial Reactions


35A: E.G. ___: MARSHALL

40A: D. H. __: LAWRENCE


I've never heard of E. G. MARSHALL or T. JEFFERSON PARKER before. I found 35A to be an odd choice since all the other 3 theme entries are all authors.

I thought of T. S. Eliot, A. A. Milne, e. e, cummings, J. D. Salinger, J. R. R. Tolkien & J.K. Rowling earlier, all famous literary names. Of course, we also have O. J. Simpson, J. Edgar Hoover & the crossword stalwart L. Ron Hubbard as non-writer names with intriguing initials. What other interesting names can you think of?

Anyway, I like this puzzle. I like most of the puzzles with 15-letter run-through theme answers. I am very easy to please.

I did not know the meanings of HIC (24A: __ jacet ) and RIGOR (3D: __ mortis). After consulting the dictionary, I don't think I like how these two were clued. Too dark and harsh for my morning. I would prefer a drunk bar-sound choice for HIC and a boot camp experience for RIGOR.

Quite a few obscure words to me today. I took several wild guesses.


5A: The great unwashed: PLEBS. "The great unwashed" is a new phrase to me. I had no idea that "unwashed" also means the "common folk". I suppose ancient Greeks call ancient Roman PLEBS as "Hoi polloi"?

15A: Isuzu model: RODEO. Not familiar with this model. A risky guess, cowboy style.

17A: Herb of wisdom?: SAGE. "Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, SAGE, rosemary and thyme. Remember me to one who lives there, she was once a true love of mine...". Do you know why they chose those 4 herbs instead of chives/basil?

18A: Circular gasket: O-RING

26A: French stewlike dish: POT-AU-FEU. Hmm, I am not going to link a POT-AU-FEU picture. Dennis hates it. He hates ASPIC too.

39A: Chills and fever: AGUE. This is Paul's Word of the Day today. He selected it because "Mosquito transmission of malaria discoverned on this day in 1897."

43A: Pleasantly diverted: AMUSED. Are you OK with "diverted"?

46A: Of a benefactor PATRONAL. New adjective to me.

63A: Anklebone: TALUS. The plural is TALI.


1D: Chase group: POSSE. Why? Does the "Chase" here refer to Chevy Chase?

2D: Bananalike plant: ABACA. No idea. This is a ABACA plant. It does not look like a banana to me.

5D: Benefits: PROFITS

6D: Roman body armor: LORICA. Absolutely no idea. See this LORICA.

8D: Automobile pioneer: BENZ. OLDS did not fit.

9D: Wetter and mushier: SOGGIER. I recklessly sank into MUGGIER.

10D: Dweeb: TWIRP. New word to me.

27D: Brown pigment: UMBER. I only knew AMBER. Dictionary says it's called raw UMBER when used in its natural state, and burnt UMBER when used after heating.

30D: Pivot: SLUE. "Who else would the ultimate cowboy fall in love with than the ultimate cowgirl? That's SLUE-foot Sue all right...". I've never heard of that folklore, have you?

42D: Tell the tale: NARRATE

43D: Metrical foot: ANAPEST. Foreign to me also. I might have seen someone mentioned this term in a comment somewhere before, but I could not recall clearly. Can you give me an ANAPEST example?

44D: Supernatural force: MANA. No idea. A variation of MANNA?

47D: Comes clean: OWNS UP

50D: Cut corners: SKIMP

51D: Gilpin and others: PERIS. Gilpin Again? Too lazy to do more research for a different clue? PERI is also "one of a large group of beautiful, fairylike beings of Persian mythology, represented as descended from fallen angels and excluded from paradise until their penance is accomplished."

53D: Protrudes: JUTS

57D: Like a dipstick: OILY. I kind of like this clue. Very slick!

58D: Perlman of "Cheers": RHEA. I really like her earrings.


Aug 10, 2008

Sunday August 10, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Avian Adventure

23A: Connected in an avian manner?: DOVETAILED

25A: Avian dance?: TURKEY TROT

109A: Avian con game?: PIGEON DROP

111A: Avian lawyer?: LEGAL EAGLE

30D: Avian architect?: CHRISTOPHER WREN

39D: Avian mimic?: PARROTFISH

44D: Avian tournament?: ROUND ROBIN

45D: Avian guardian?: SCARECROW

47D: Harassed avian style?: HENPECKED

Why "Avian mimic?" for 39D? I don't understand it.

Here are some more bonus "Avian" fills:

7D: Birds in barns: OWLS

13D: Birds' display areas: LEKS. It appeared on an April puzzle before. I simply forgot.

5D: Insect-eating birds: TITMICE

I am very curious to know if the above entries are the constructor's originals. The fact is that neither "Avian" nor "Birds" is really needed in the clues. The constructor/editor deprive the solvers a certain "Aha" moment by repetitively writing in "Avian" in every theme clue, how boring! I wonder why he CHICKENED out on Larry BIRD, which could be a perfect tie-in theme title. I thought of GOOSE Goosage earlier. He is now a HOFer and deserves some recognition in the crossword world too.

I dislike the following fills:

79A: Squeal to a halt: SKID

87A: Bad part of town: SKID ROW

107A: Pub potations: ALES

27A: Alternative to lager: ALE

And of course, the clue for I DO (46A: Wedding vow) should definitely be reworded due to VOW (89A: Pledge). Other crossword editors probably make this kind of mistake 2 or 3 times a year. For our "splicing device" (EDITOR), sky is the limit.

Overall, it's a good puzzle. Not exactly a SNAP (120A: Piece of cake) for me, but much easier than the previous Sunday's puzzles and more enjoyable. And the grid is very pretty and neat. I've never seen 2 theme entries running through in one line, separated by one block (23A & 25A, 109A & 111A).


6A: Bean paste: TOFU. Wrong clue. TOFU is bean curd. Bean paste is a completely different soybean product.

10A: Actress Oberon: MERLE. Unknown to me. Wikipedia says she was nominated for Oscar for her role in "The Dark Angel".

15A: Pers. with a handle?: CBER. I don't like the way "Pers." is abbreviated. In fact, CBER is a well accepted word, there is no need for clue abbreviation.

19A: Mites: ACARI. Singular is ACARUS. New to me.

28A: Wire thickness units: MILS

29A: Eyelike window: OCULUS. Like this one at the Pantheon (Rome).

32A: False report?: MISFIRE

37A: Tank toppers: TURRETS. Unknown to me. Look at this squirrel. I always thought of TURRETS as the top of some castles.

42A: Rock debris: SCREE. Another new word to me. It came from the old Norse word skriða (landslide). Here is a SCREE slope.

47A: Kingdom founded by St. Stephen: HUNGARY. Not familiar with St. Stephen. Pure guess. Here is Lang Lang's Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody #2.

50A: Certain grasses: REEDS. I filled in WEEDS first. Tricky clue.

56A: Addams family cousin: ITT. Learned from doing Xwords. Not familiar with this TV series.

59A: Highland tongue: ERSE. The Scottish Gaelic. Irish Gaelic is just Irish, right?

60A: Outline: CONTOUR

62A: Gather greedily: SCOOP UP. "Greedily"?

67A: Part of EKG: ELECTRO

71A: Veteran's abbr.: RET. Doesn't RET always refer to those high positioned generals?

74A: Nurse: CARE FOR. I dislike the clue due to RNS (53A: Hosp. personnel), even if N in latter is in abbreviated form.

84A: Swayed to and fro: ROCKED. I wonder who owns the original JFK's Rocking Chair now.

86A: Cay or key: ISLE. And INLET (101D: Channel opening). And AIT (113D: River island). Can also be spelled as EYOT. Strange looking word, isn't it?

92A: __ chloride (refrigerant): ETHYL. I googled this answer.

93A: Extreme poverty: PENURY

94A: Animal Planet's "___ Manor": MEERKAT. Dutch for "Lake cat", though it's not a cat. It belongs to the mongoose family. I've never heard of this animal. If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to knee (on your knees boy!).

99A: Container for a fossil fuel: COALBIN

103A: Cheap cigar: STOGY. Could also be spelled as STOGIE. I just learned this STOGY is short for Conestoga, a town in Pennsylvania.

106A: Weasel cousin: ERMINE

115A: Spartan market: AGORA. The Greek mall.

119A: Staircase support: NEWEL


6D: Linen fabric: TOILE. Hmm, too blue for my taste. That bed looks so small.

9D: One causing a downfall: UNDOER

11D:Successful mimic: EMULATOR. Knew EMULATE. Had never used EMULATOR before.

15D: Shop-at-home guide: CATALOG

17D:Berkshire college: ETON. Since 1440.

24D: Affectedly nonchalant: AIRY. Oh, has anyone read Hugo's "Les Miserables"?

33D: Feudal estate: FIEF

41D: Subside, as symptoms: LYSE. Got it from the across clues. I am not familiar with this medical term. Initially I filed in EASE. Another tricky clue.

49D: Unnamed work: OPUS. What exactly is OPUS? Why is it "unnamed"? Also, what's the difference between a orchestra and a symphony orchestra? I received no musical education when I grew up.

50D: Like Miss Congeniality: NICEST. Silly movie.

52D: Cannes water: EAU. And AGUA (107D: Spanish water).

63D: Detachable container: POD. How so? Why is it "Detachable"?

69D: Clouded by sediment: ROILY. I like the clue and the answer. I like this kind of seemingly inconsistent cluing (in terms of part of speech).

70D: Architectural projection: ORIEL. The Bay window.

82D: Dry gulch: ARROYO. Her name is ARROYO (Gloria) too, and she is the President of the Philippines.

83D: For eternity: EVERMORE. How I wanted it to be NEVERMORE! We can have one more bird related clue (The Raven).

88D: Castle cell: DUNGEON. Do you like "The Count of Monte Cristo"?

90D: Of a parent-child Freudian relationship: OEDIPAL. Oedipus complex.

100D: Horn for reveille: BUGLE

103D: Jam or pickle: SPOT. "Tough SPOT", maybe yes. But SPOT, I am not sure. I can not see any commonality between Jam/pickle & SPOT.

105D: Arch type: OGEE

110D: Bobbsey twin: NAN. Another boring clue. Have you ever had Tandoori-baked NAN before?


Aug 6, 2008

Wednesday August 6, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: Watered Down

17A: 1970 Bobby Bloom hit: MONTEGO BAY

52A: Thoreau's cabin site: WALDEN POND

11D: View from Cornell: CAYUGA LAKE

27D: Shields film: BLUE LAGOON

Out of the 4 theme answers, WALDEN POND was the only gimme for me, but the other 3 were easily obtainable.

I like this puzzle, great theme. No frustratingly ungettable words. Simple & smooth. ILLER (35A: More poorly) did raise my eyebrow a bit, but technically it's a legit word.

In the past several days, I've been pondering on how these constructors come up with certain themes. In today's case, why did this constructor pick up lakes rather than rivers (brook, creek, stream, etc)?

I still can't figure it out. But I know that all of those guys have done an exhaustive amount of work to come up with a solvable and entertaining puzzle. I wonder how long it takes them to complete a grid, hours? or Days?

Just to want to say a "Thank you" to them here. I know I can be a poor critic to their work sometimes, but I am an equal opportunity critic and I truly appreciate their effort.


10A: Gent from Aberdeen: SCOT. See this map for Aberdeen.

16A: Cover a lot of ground?: PAVE. Great clue.

21A: Show off: FLAUNT. So easy to get confused with FLOUT.

25A: Gelcap alternative: TABLET

28A: Wander about: DIVAGATE. Unknown to me. I got it from the down fills. This is a very interesting word. I wonder if any constructor has ever thought of constructing a GATE rebus puzzle, you know, with Watergate, Monicagate/Zippergate, Plamegate, Rathergate, etc.

37A: "The Three Faces of ___": EVE. I am not familiar with this film. Easily gettable though. How would you clue EVE if you were the constructor? I like "First offender?".

39A: Tightwad: PIKER. Another new word to me. I penned in MISER first. Google researched showed that PIKERS were the "1849 Gold Rush equivalents of 1930s Okies. A piker was literally someone from Pike County, Missouri. Large numbers of Pike County residents rushed to California to seek their fortunes".

40A: Olios: MELANGES

45A: Smooth, in music: LEGATO. This reminds of the TENUTO (Sustained note) we had a while ago. KittyB explained TENUTO as "similar to "LEGATO," in that the music is very smooth, and the notes connect to each other, no spaces between them. The opposite of tenuto would be "staccato," where the note is very short and articulated hard."

47A: Touched tenderly: CARESSED

56A: "The Four Seasons" star: ALDA. The answer revealed itself after I filled in the down clues. I've never seen the movie. Alan ALDA's name is so crossword friendly.

58A: Robust: HEFTY. What kind of HEFTY fish is that?


1D: Cell body: SOMA. New to me. Dictionary says it's also an "intoxicating drink of the Hindu gods". And in "Brave New World", SOMA is "the name of a state-dispensed narcotic producing euphoria and hallucination".

4D: One of eight: OCTUPLET. Another new word to me. It's built up upon TRIPLET or QUADRUPLET I suppose. Here is a picture of the famous Dionne QUINTUPLETS.

6D: Athol Fugard play, "A Lesson from ___": ALOES. Not familiar with this book. It's about apartheid in the early 1960s. Interesting book title. I know ALOES are healing. I've never thought of them as ugly though.

9D: Seasonal rhinitis: HAY FEVER

10D: Rose with a bound: SPRANG. I like the clue and the answer.

35D: Toenail, sometimes: INGROWTH. Only knew INGROW.

36D: Life on earth: LIFE SPAN

39D: Sacramental disk: PATEN. Disk?

42D: Something beyond doubt: SURETY

46D: Dresden's waterway: ELBE. Have not seen its tributary EGER for a long time. This is the ELBE watershed.


Jul 28, 2008

Monday July 28, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: "You People Are All Animals"

18A: WWII fleet admiral: BULL HALSEY

56A: One-time Crimson Tide chief: BEAR BRYANT

3D: Author of "How I Play Golf": TIGER WOODS

30D: "Peace Train" singer: CAT STEVENS

Vaguely heard of 30D, TIGER WOODS was gimme as I own the book. Not familiar with 18A & 56A.

Very fascinating puzzle, with a few obscure animal names though. I was just reading KITTY Kelley's "Jackie O" last night. Her name, plus TIGER Woods and CAT Stevens can be easily constructed into a "Feline'" themed puzzle. TIGER's full name is so theme answer friendly, with the WOODS, you know, add FORREST Gump, Lefty GROVE, you've got another solid "Tree" related puzzle. (Addendum: I was wrong on FORREST, wrong spelling, can you think of a real person whose name has "FOREST" in it?)

Many interesting names came to my mind earlier:

WOLF Blitzer: (CNN's "The Situation Room")

Dick WOLF ("Law & Order" producer)

Joe BUCK (Fox Sports)

Pearl S. BUCK ("The Good Earth" author)

BUCK O'Neil (the Great Negro League Baseball Player)

Matthew FOX ("Lost")

Michael J FOX ("Spin City")

Can you think of other similar names?


17A: Hindu music: RAGA. Literally "color' in Sanskrit language. Plus RAVI Shankar & SITAR, that's all you need to know about Indian music/musician/musical instrument.

20A: Whitecaps: CRESTS. Had big trouble here. I did not know the meaning of "Whitecaps" and could not figure out TORC (1D) either.

22A: Croquet sticks: MALLETS. New to me. I had no idea that the stick is called MALLET. Is it a special term for croquet only?

24A: Retro VW: BEETLE

26A: ___ Decimal System: DEWEY. This DEWEY stumped me big time in an early Feb puzzle, the one with the tough SERAC (Crevasse pinnacle) and the THAR (Whale's location) fills. I still don't understand "THAR she blows". Where does this phrase come? What's the exact meaning of THAR? Why "she blows" rather than "he blows"?

29A: British racecourse: ASCOT. Long history (since 1711).

34A: Fierce mythical bird: ROC. ROC in "Sinbad the Sailor" . It eats elephant. Must have gigantic eggs.

35A: Admission conduit: INTAKE. Pure guess. I've never heard of INTAKE valve before.

36A: Bill's partner?: COO

37A: Satisfying returns: REWARDS. Interesting crossing with BLOW (24D: Hard punch).

47A: Spiny-finned fishes: GOBIES. Foreign to me. He looks very ADDLED (50A: Confused). Wikipedia says most of GOBIES are less than 4-inch long, but some exceptionally large ones can reach over 1 foot in length.

49A: Shoshone: UTE. I always confuse "Shoshone" with "Gumshoe", which is often the clue for TEC. What does "Shoshone" mean exactly?

61A: Large auk: MURRE. Not familiar with "Auk" the bird, somehow Ayveq's large oosik slided right into my unconsious mind. Wikepedia says it's of genus URIA. Hmm, that's one curious observer.


1D: Celtic neck-ring: TORC. Stranger to me. Dictionary defines TORC as "a collar, necklace, or similar ornament consisting of a twisted narrow band, usually of precious metal, worn esp. by the ancient Gauls and Britons." He is wearing a golden TORC. That's a rather dreamy & unfocused look.

7D: Hooter: OWL. Here is Picasso's OWL. So simple!

9D: Enlightened Buddhist: ARHAT. No idea. I only know it's called Luo han (羅漢) in Chinese. It refers to "a Buddhist who has attained Nirvana through rigorous discipline and ascetic practice. ARHAT is Sanskrit for "He deserves" (Present participle of arhati). "Zen enlighttnment" is SATORI.

19D: Ramsay and Pinkerton: ALLANS. Knew Pinkerton, not Ramsay. Worked for Pinkerton China for a few years.

21D: Cracker Jack bonus: TOY. Look at this amazing 1915 Cracker Jack Honus Wagner card. I have a reprint.

25D: Coop flier: ESCAPEE. So many slangs for prison.

31D: Giraffe cousin: OKAPI. Completely unknown to me. Her neck is rather short. Wikipedia says OKAPI has very long blue tongue (about a foot long), which enable it to "wash its eyelids and clean its ears: it is one of the few mammals that can lick its own ears".

37D: Take up again: RESORB. I wanted RESUME. I had never heard of "RESORB" before.

34D: Cabernet, e.g. RED. And REDS (38D: 1990 W.S. champions). Cincinnati Reds. I dislike RED & REDS appear in the same grid. MARGE Schott, the extremely eccentric owner for the Reds, is a good candidate for "Simpson" themed puzzle too.

41D: Shackle: LEG IRON

43D: Coin-op eatery: AUTOMAT. No, nope, no idea.

48D: Road shoulders: BERMS

52D: Horse do: MANE. Boy, this was a very tricky clue for me. I spent a few minutes musing what the horse wanted to do.


Jul 22, 2008

Tuesday July 22, 2008 Stanley B. Whitten

Theme: " The Doctor Is In"

17A: One from Dr. Seuss: YERTLE THE TURTLE

39A: Another from Dr. Seuss: HORTON HEARS A WHO

62A: One more from Dr. Seuss: GREEN EGGS AND HAM

I've never heard of 17A. What a strange title! Is YERTLE even a word? Did he make it up just to rhyme with "TURTLE"?

I really like Dr. Seuss' "You Are a Mean One". Barbara Budd, the host for "As It Happens" (CBC), always reads "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" during the Christmas time. I like it a lot.

A couple flaws with this puzzle:

5A:Throat prob.: STREP. The clue should not have been abbreviated. (Update: The clue is correct!)

43A: "Green Gables" girl: ANNE. Why this clue? Is it because it's a children' book? But you have GREEN EGGS as your answer on 62A.

I also dislike so many *ER ending words in the puzzle:

45A: Less of a mess: NEATER. Good clue though.

64A: Ripening factor: AGER. What is AGER?

35D: Sewing circle members: STITCHERS

53D: More expansive: WIDER

I don't know much about crossword constructing. I am just so curious why this constructor did not add "If I Ran a Circus" to the grid, it's also a 15-letter book title. Maybe it's structurally impossible.


22A: Verdi heroine: AIDA. I am not into opera at all. But I do find this love story to be grippingly romantic. Ancient Egypt is such an exotic and mysterious place.

36A: Low character: WORM. Does the WORM in Tequila really have aphrodisiac effect?

42A: Certain anchor position: ATRIP. Not familiar with this nautical term. I was also stumped by AWEIGH last time.

50A: Mountain goat's perch: CRAG. Mountain goat sitting atop a CRAG.

54A: Feeling of well-being: EUPHORIA. I am always FiFi-minded, so here is Calvin Klein's sensual EUPHORIA, filled with pleasure, temptation and fantasy.

58A: Alector or Megaera: ERINYS. Ugh, the three Furies. I simply forgot this Greek word. Once again, Bouguereau's "Orestes Pursued by the Furies". Feel the RAGE (69A: Temper out of control)? I love number 3, my lucky number, so pregnant with symbolism. See also Raphael's Three Graces.


2D: Western writer Wister: OWEN. Clued as "The Virginian" author before. I like the alliteration in the clue.

4D: Cavities in bones: ANTRA. Singular Antrum. New word to me.

5D: Resign or detrain: STEP DOWN. Why 2 words for the clue when 1 is sufficient?

10D: Steak for some: HORSE MEAT

19D: Regulars' orders: USUALS

25D: Hunter of the PGA: MAHAN. Can you feel the torque tension in his backswing? He has had only 1 PGA win in his career so far, and was Nicklaus' pick for Presidents Cup in 2007 (K.J. Choi won 3 & 2 against him on Sunday individual match). A gimme ONLY to those hardcore golf nuts.

27D: __ cotta: TERRA. This is a great picture of Xi'An TERRA Cotta Warriors.

37D: Bouncing off the wall: MANIC. "Bouncing off the wall" is a new phrase to me.

40D: Unit of gene activity: OPERON. No idea. Dictionary explains it as "a set of two or more adjacent cistrons whose transcription is under the coordinated control of a promoter, an operator, and a regulator gene". OPER is from "Operate", ON (extracted from ION) is "a suffix used in the names of subatomic particles like "neutron".

41D: Carrot-tops: RED HEADS. Not a familiar slang to me. All that jumped into my mind are these fresh carrots and carrot-tops, so juicy and firm, easy to eat out of hand.

51D: Lively baroque dance: GIGUE. Completely foreign to me. Wikipedia says it's originated from British Jigs, and it's GIGA in Italian.

61D: Hook's right-hand man: SMEE. From "Peter Pan".

63D: Title for Galahad: SIR. Really a hard to forget night knight at King Arthur's Round Table, son of Lancelot. Have to admire Jackie Kennedy's ingenuity in connecting JFK's "one brief shining moment" with Camelot. Such an idealistically and masterfully spun tale!