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Showing posts with label Will Nediger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Will Nediger. Show all posts

May 20, 2012

Sunday May 20, 2012 Will Nediger and Andy Kravis

Theme: Insert-a-ble - "Ble" is inserted into common phrases.

22A. Where peasants work? : NOBLEMAN'S LAND. No man's land.

45A. Fight organizer? : RUMBLE RUNNER. Rum runner.

67A. Telescope protector? : HUBBLE CAP. Hubcap.

94A. Commercial jingle segments? : PRICE WARBLES. Price wars.

119A. One tending a brush fire? : BRAMBLE STOKER. Bram Stoker.

16D. Doesn't speak clearly? : MUMBLES THE WORD. Mum's the word. This one involves grammatical change.

50D. Aimless walks around the Gateway Arch? : ST LOUIS RAMBLES. St Louis Rams. RAMBLES is a noun here, right? Since it's "Aimless walks" rather than "Aimlessly walks".

I had guessed the theme was inserting ABLE when I glanced at the puzzle title. But then all the new theme entries would be just adjectives from their verb forms and there would not be much change in terms of meaning. So, not an option.

I talked before about how a grid & fill often reflect its constructor's interest and background. Today's TOM THOMSON (5D. "The Jack Pine" Canadian painter with an echoic name) is a good example. It's a total stranger to me and I would not have put him in a grid. Will Nediger is a Canadian and a very knowledgeable and talented constructor.

Looks like this is Andy Kravis' debut. Congrats!

Across:

1. Cardiovascular implants : STENTS

7. "Apostrophe (')" album maker : ZAPPA (Frank). Not familiar with the album name.

12. Word with first, second or third : BASEMAN

19. How some tapes are played : IN A LOOP. I guess so.

20. '90s sitcom bookstore owner : ELLEN. Ellen DeGeneres. So witty, genuine and warm.

21. With deception : UNTRULY

24. Telescope user's aid : STAR MAP

25. Timberland : FOREST. Man, I just realize that this rapper's name is Timbaland.

26. Sarkozy's state : ETAT. Sarkozy lost power last Tuesday. His state now is "sorrow".

27. Luxurious fabric : SATIN

29. "The Price Is Right" action : BID

30. Senior attachment? : ITIS. Senioritis. I used to think it referred to old people's senior moment.

31. Fireplace shelf : HOB

33. Alumni newsletter word : NEE

35. Where Jefferson can be seen : NICKEL. D'oh!

37. VW followers : XYZ. Alphabet.

38. Doughnut shape : TORUS. Plural is tori.

40. Saws : ADAGES

42. Charcuterie fare : MEAT. Did not know the meaning of Charcuterie.

47. "Thong Song" singer : SISQO. No idea. The song title does sound familiar.

48. Puts forward : POSITS

51. "Perfect! Right there!" : AAH. 53. Place to hear 51-Acrosses : HOT TUB.

52. MSN alternative : AOL

54. Decides one will : OPTS TO

55. Appointment book opening : SLOT. And 60. Ones without appointments : WALK-INS. Clue echos.

57. Fair vis-à-vis cloudy, say : NICER

59. Loft filler : HAY

62. In the thick of : AMID

64. Hold water, so to speak : COHERE

66. Mary Jane, e.g. : SHOE. These shoes are all the rage now, with Mary Jane style ankle strap & rounded toe, thanks to Lady Gaga.

70. GI delinquent : AWOL

73. Father of the Titans : URANUS. Their mother is Gaea.

76. Eczema symptom : ITCH

77. Hand raised in support, say : YES VOTE

80. "A Farewell to Arms" conflict, briefly : WWI

82. Nocturnal insects : MOTHS

84. Fall in the rankings : SLIP

86. Puts on notice : ALERTS

87. Reservation waster : NO SHOW

89. Green gp. : EPA

91. Clark's "Mogambo" co-star : AVA (Gardner). Perfect measurements.

92. Mozart movements : RONDOS

93. Big yawns : BORES

97. Many miles off : AFAR

98. Sales targets : QUOTAS

99. Inn season visits : STAYS. Nice "Inn season".

100. Chowderhead : SAP

103. Enterprise crewman : MR. SULU

105. Hairy TV cousin : ITT

107. Sale rack abbr. : IRR

108. Puppeteer Baird : CORA. Total stranger. Wife to Bil Baird.

109. One of the Books of Wisdom : JOB. I could only think of Solomon.

111. "Cape Fear" actor : NOLTE (Nick)

113. __ avis : RARA

115. Archipelago component : ISLAND

117. "Could regret this, but tell me" : I'LL BITE

122. Prince of the Tigers : FIELDER. Prince Fielder. Previously with the Brewers. Can't get my hand on Bryce Harper's rookie cards now. Hot!

123. Forearm bones : RADII

124. Prepare for a comeback tour : REUNITE

125. Australian brew : FOSTER'S. And 126. Australian gems : OPALS.

127. Burning : ARDENT

Down:

1. Putting on airs : SNOOTY

2. City in NW Iran : TABRIZ. See this map. In northwest. I saw 2 more cities ending in Z. No such thing in Chinese. Z & ZH only start words.

3. Nice girls? : ELLES. Nice the French city of course.

4. Discouraging words : NOES

6. Chic getaway : SPA

7. Citrus shaving : ZEST

8. Literary middle name : ALLAN. Edgar ALLAN Poe.

9. Level of achievement : PLATEAU

10. Treaty-signing memento : PEN

11. Additions : ANDS

12. Push-up garment : BUSTIER. Look, some girls are so lucky.

13. Shenanigans : ANTICS

14. Displayed zero talent : STANK

15. Go astray : ERR

17. Jai __ : ALAI

18. "Blue" TV lawmen : NYPD. Linda, we need an Andy Sipowicz in our neighborhood.

19. Implant, as an idea : INFIX. Alright.

23. Fantasy writers' awards : NEBULAS. Guessed.

28. Sweet wine with a woman's name : ANGELICA. Ah, wine, Marti's forte, as is skiing or any risk-taking activity.

32. Heavenly body : ORB

34. Novelist Ferber : EDNA

36. Throw off : EMIT

38. __-frutti : TUTTI

39. Oceanographer's workplace : SEA LAB

41. Shortly : ANON

43. Blue hue : AQUA

44. "Twelfth Night" sir : TOBY

45. One taking chances : RISKER. Well, Splynter is one. Tough to be uprooted and move to a new city so far away.

46. Four-sided figures : RHOMBI

47. Nursing a grudge : SORE

48. Comic strip punches : POWS

49. Aquarium beauty : OPAH. "Beauty", ha ha! Beholder issue.

53. "Clever" : HEH

56. Isn't quite perpendicular : TILTS

58. Work to edit : COPY

61. Sealed : SHUT

63. Render harmless, in a way : DE-CLAW

65. Winged croakers : RAVENS

68. See to the exit : USHER OUT

69. Scotch choice, familiarly : CHIVAS. Chivas Regal. Was just asking Argyle about Whisky, Whiskey usage the other day. They use "whisky" spelling in Canada.

71. Preminger of film : OTTO

72. Minus : LESS

74. Baking entrepreneur Wally : AMOS. I have yet to try a "Famous Amos" cookie.

75. "Get cracking!" : NOW

78. One with a long commute, perhaps : EARLY RISER

79. Gin berries : SLOES

80. L.A. Sparks' org. : WNBA. Do they have good attendance, Bill?

81. Shepherd's comment : WOOF

83. Cookout aid : SPIT

85. Missing something : PARTIAL

88. Title for Brahms : HERR

90. Berry rich in antioxidants : ACAI

94. Tugboats, at times : PULLERS

95. "CHiPs" actor : ESTRADA. We see ERIK more often.

96. Watering hole : BAR

98. One issuing a citation? : QUOTER

100. Penetrate the mind : SOAK IN

101. Gulf War reporter Peter : ARNETT. His daughter is married to John Yoo, known for the "Torture Memos".

102. Father on a base : PADRE. Military base.

104. Slyly cutting : SNIDE

106. An official language of Sri Lanka : TAMIL

108. Knockoff : CLONE

109. Sec : JIFF

110. Hodgepodge : OLIO

112. River originating in Cantabria : EBRO. I only know it flows to the Mediterranean.

114. DH stats : RBIS. DH = Designated Hitter. Or Dear Husband on the blog.

116. Simple earring : STUD

118. Short order? : BLT. Sweet little clue.

120. Criticize : RAP

121. Big Band __ : ERA

Answer grid.

Happy Birthday to Mainiac!

C.C.

Jul 3, 2010

Saturday July 3, 2010 Will Nediger

Theme: None

Total words: 70

Total blocks: 36

One letter Q away from a pangram.

Will Nediger anchors his puzzle with a grid spanner MARRIED TO THE MOB (33A. 1988 Michelle Pfeiffer film) and stacks a couple of 11s & a 10 on the top/bottom. OVERANALYZE (52A. Figure to a fault) is my favorite entry today. Awesome.

Will is majoring in linguistics, so his fill/clue skew academics. He probably loves Shakespeare stuff, see the below clues:

1A. He played Brutus in "Julius Caesar" (1953) : JAMES MASON. Total stranger to me.

28A. "I kissed thee __ I killed thee": "Othello" : ERE

45D. "In __, you are to blame": "Othello" : SOOTH. In truth.

As the norm with Saturday puzzles, a few new words for me and plenty of V-8 moments.

Across:

11. Member of a notable foreign trio : AMO (I love). Amo, amas, amat. Latin trio.

14. Complex mirage : FATA MORGANA. New word to me. See the etymology. Italian name. Had some King Arthur root.

15. Go for the bronze? : TAN. Nailed it.

16. 1965 Peter and Gordon hit : I GO TO PIECES. The tune sounds familiar.

17. Enter the pool : BET. D'oh, betting pool. DIP did not work.

18. Crescent : LUNE. Rooted in Latin moon "Luna". Makes sense.

19. Wet-weather wear : GALOSH. Man, I never know there's a special term for this kind of waterproof overshoe.

21. Ski nautique site : LAC. French for "lake". I don't know the meaning of "Ski nautique". Nautique is just French for "Nautical".

22. Acolyte's area : ALTAR

27. Barista's preparation : LATTE

29. Shinto temple gateway : TORII. Like this. I always associate it with ex-Twin Torii Hunter.

30. House or lodge : STOW. Verb. I was in the noun direction.

31. Pelvis-patella connectors : FEMURS

32. The farther ones : THOSE

37. Large amount : OCEAN

38. Stockpile : GATHER

39. Add water to, perhaps : THIN. Can't jam in DILUTE.

40. Tribe member in many films : EXTRA. Extras who play the tribe members. I thought the answer is asking for a real Indian tribe who appears in film often.

41. New Jersey casino, with "The" : TAJ

44. Pen output : OINKS. Pig pen.

46. Sitting Bull, e.g. : SIOUX. Yes, this is the kind of tribe I was picturing for 40A.

47. Doc bloc : HMO. Rhyme.

48. Team that's played in the same home park since 1912 : RED SOX. Their Fenway Park is the oldest ball park in Major League.

50. Busiest : PEAK

51. "__ Got Bonnie": Rydell hit : I'VE. I guessed.

58. One in a zillion? : ZEE. One letter in the word "zillion". Clever clue.

59. Venerable : TIME-HONORED. Another awesome answer.

60. Transgress : ERR

61. Some countdowns : HIT PARADES. Countdowns of most popular songs.

Down:

1. Rain forest cat : JAGUAR. I drew a blank.

2. Without delay : AT ONCE

3. King's downfall, maybe : MATE. Chess ending.

4. Punk rock offshoot : EMO. Learned from doing Xword.

5. Payoff : SOP. Bribe.

6. Med. technique using contrast agents : MRI. What are "contrast agents"?

7. What candles may reveal : AGE. Wrinkles too.

8. Egg holder : SAC

9. A hundred sawbucks : ONE G. 1,000.

10. Like some vowels : NASAL. Like what? I only know nasal consonants.

11. Fundamentally : AT BOTTOM

12. Stately and dignified, in music : MAESTOSO. New word to me. So close to Maestro.

13. Generally Googleable : ON THE WEB. OK.

14. Dijon daughter : FILLE. "Daughter" in French. Alliteration.

20. 1993 Anne Rice novel : LASHER. See the book cover. Not in my radar.

22. Ordered pizza, perhaps : ATE IN

23. Capital of Togo : LOME. Uh-uh, nope. No idea. God will be resigned by my unwillingness to learn those capitals in faraway countries.

24. Walks with effort : TRUDGES

25. Chartered carrier : AIR TAXI. The answer just would not come to me.

26. Ristorante dish : RISOTTO. OK, ristorante is Italian for "restaurant" then.

31. Dogs : FRANKS. Hot dogs.

32. Walking papers : THE AX. Walking papers: slang for dismissal.

33. Make easier to use, in a way : MOTORIZE. Didn't jump to me immediately.

34. One who gets things done : ACHIEVER. This word seems to always come with "over" or "under".

35. Cupid, for one : REINDEER. Santa's Cupid. Not Roman love god.

36. Via, informally : THRU

41. "__ here!" : THEY'RE. Does this refer to the tagline for "Poltergeist"?

42. Floors : AMAZES. Verb.

43. Caused a breakup? : JOKED. Convulsed with laughter "breakup".

49. Louis __: son of Marie Antoinette : XVII. Makes senses. Her husband is Louis XVI.

50. Lumber : PLOD. I confused "Lumber" with "Slumber".

53. First to arrive, often: Abbr. : EMT. True!

54. Good standing, for short : REP (Reputation)

55. "Got it!" : AHA

56. Easter preceder? : NOR. Nor'easter. Strong rain storm in east coast. So named because the winds come from the northeast.

57. Santa __ : ANA

Answer grid.

Tomorrow we are going to have a special 4th of July tribute puzzle by John Lampkin. The theme involves circles, which are unsupported by LA Times website software. If you don't use Across Lite, please come to the blog on Sunday morning for the pdf version.

C.C.

Mar 20, 2010

Interview with Will Nediger

One of my favorite LAT Sunday puzzles is Will Nediger's "Watch the Birdie", in which he placed ONE under PAR in 10 different places.

Will is a 19-year old college student from Canada. Since April 2006, his puzzles have appeared in LA Times, NY Times, NY Sun and probably other newspapers/magazines I am not aware of.

Can you tell us your thought process on this puzzle?

I remember solving a wonderful Paula Gamache puzzle in the New York times with a similar grid (stacks of 11-13-15 on the top and bottom). The great thing about Paula's puzzle was that the bottom stacked entries all rhymed: CULTUREVULTURES, GEORGIEPORGIE, and GREENSCREEN. And the top stacked entries were all crisp, fresh phrases: THEONCEOVER, FOOTBALLWIDOW, and SAYTHEMAGICWORD. That kind of grid has lots of possibilities for a themeless, because it's a lot less constrained than stacking three 15s, and 11s and 13s don't get that much currency in themelesses. My puzzle didn't end up as fresh as Paula's, but I'm still pleased with it.

What is your background? How does it influence your crossword style?

I'm currently at university studying linguistics and Spanish, and playing Quizbowl on the side. So I like to include all the usual things in my crosswords: pop culture, in-the-language phrases, and so on. But because of Quizbowl, my puzzles tend to skew more academic (and the same is true of Joon Pahk, who used to play Quizbowl back in the day). This usually happens in the cluing, though, rather than the entries, so a lot of my academic clues get changed in editing. I eagerly await the day when one of my Kierkegaard clues for EITHEROR makes it into print!

How did you first get interested in crossword construction?

I've been interested in construction for as long as I can remember. Of course, I shudder to think of how terrible my early efforts were. I used the old-fashioned pencil-and-graph-paper method, and I erased through a lot of sheets of graph paper. I was also in the habit of putting in entries that seemed like they might be words, and then hoping that they would turn out to be in the dictionary.

Is theme more important to you then the quality of the fills? What is a perfect puzzle for you?

I think I differ from most people in the business, in that I value fill quality over theme quality. Of course, for themed puzzles, the fill is really just a vehicle for the theme, which is primary. But I find that the real art in constructing crosswords is creating a fill that's relatively free from obscurities and other unwanted entries, but that still contains lots of fresh stuff and Scrabbly letters. Actually, maybe I just think this because I'm terrible at coming up with themes. My favourite puzzles are themelesses, of the sorts that Frank Longo, Karen M. Tracey and Matt Jones make. (And yeah, those three people have wildly divergent styles, I know. But they're all great.)

Besides crossword, what else do you do for fun?

All sorts of things: Scrabble (which I'm sure can be said of lots of other constructors, although the two activities are really very different), anything to do with literature, most racket sports, foreign languages...

Saturday March 20, 2010 Will Nediger

Theme: None

Total words: 66

Total blocks: 35

The empty grid is cornered like a picture frame, very pretty design. Tragically, I ruined the whole puzzle. My finished grid looks like the Hindenburg crashing into the Titanic. Total disaster.

The three odd-numbered stacks of entertainment clue/entries atop the puzzle challenged me immensely. The lower NAKED AS A JAYBIRD (46. Without anything on) is a just fantastic fill. I wonder where the saying comes from, Al?

Tricky clues abound. My favorite is EX-CON (16. Record holder?). Fell to the trap of thinking about the normal contest record rather than the intended criminal record.

Are you surprised that the constructor is a teenager from Canada?

Across:

1. "The West Wing" creator: AARON SORKIN. Stumped immediately. Can you handle the truth? Wikipedia says he also wrote "A Few Good Men".

12. 1947 Oscar winner for Best Original Song: ZIP-A-DEE-DOO-DAH. I was clueless. Awesome entry though.

14 1988 Michelle Pfeiffer comedy: MARRIED TO THE MOB. Here is the poster. Looks fun.

17. Battery alternative: FUEL CELL. No idea. Dictionary defines it as "a device that produces a continuous electric current directly from the oxidation of a fuel, as that of hydrogen by oxygen".

18. Neural transmitter: AXON. Your impulse transmitter.

19. Cat murmurs: PURRS. Impulsively penned in MEOWS.

21. Charmer who "walks like a woman and talks like a man, " in a 1970 hit: LOLA. Hit from the The Kinks about a transvestite.

22. John of London: LOO. The toilet "john".

23. Old postal divisions: ZONES

24. Pachelbel work: CANON. Johann Pachelbel was a German composer famous for his "Pachelbel's Canon". Learning moment for me.

25. Oct 1975 NBC debut: SNL

26. Cost to get in on the deal: ANTE. Poker.

27. Cunning: SHREWD

28. First queen of Carthage: DIDO. She founded Carthage. Killed herself when abandoned by the Trojan hero Aeneas. Love is _ ?

29. For whom the bell tolls: THEE. "... for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee". Terrific clue.

30. Catkin bearers: ALDERS

33. Fast-growing pet: CHIA

34. Half of CDX: CCV. 1/410=205.

37. Ad preceder: DEUCE. Tennis score. Ad in/out follows deuce.

38. Frighten: DAUNT

39. Last word of Shelley's "Adonais": ARE. Man, who knows?! The last lines are :"... The soul of Adonais, like a star/Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are". "Adonais" Shelley's elegy for John Keats.

40. Amplify: MIKE. Did not know mike can be a verb.

41. Smart-mouthed: SASSY

42. Silly rabbit's desire, in ads: TRIX

43. Campus figure: ACADEMIC. Did Will's clues strike you as academic?

45. One in a class by herself?: TUTEE. Nice clue too. But why "herself" instead of "himself"?

49. Most buses: SINGLE DECKERS. Lots of double deckers in Guangzhou/Xi'An.

50. '80s NBC medical drama: ST. ELSEWHERE. Have never heard of this drama. What's your favorite Denzel Washington movie?

Down:

1. Use a fan on: AIR-COOL

2. Kitchen protector: APRON

3. Delay cause, maybe: RAIN

4. Dedicated work: ODE. Ah, Lemonade!

5. Neighbor of Homer: NED. Homer Simpson's neighbor.

6. Emancipated: SET FREE. Tricky "set" tense.

7. Sussex scents: ODOURS. British spelling of "odors". Sussex is picked for alliteration purpose.

8. Dull drills: ROTES

9. Cleopatra's eyeliners: KOHL. This stumped many last time it appeared in our puzzle.

10. "My stars!": I DECLARE. Both are quaint cries of surprise, aren't they?

11. "Give me a for-instance": NAME ONE

12. Fighter craft game released by Sega in 1982: ZAXXON. No idea. What does Zaxxon stand for?

13. empty: HOLLOW

14. Board: MEALS. Room and board.

15. Hardly spicy: BLAND

19. Koi habitats: PONDS

20. Golden rule word: UNTO

23. Site of the 1974 fight known as "The Rumble in the Jungle": ZAIRE. Where Ali beat Foreman.

24. Play badly: CHEAT. Wanted EMOTE.

27. Newly polished: SHINY

28. Will writer, at a will reading: DECEDENT. Hmmm, nice "Will" clue, Will, way to go!

29. Consequently: THUS

30. Pro pitcher?: AD MAN. Got me again.

31. Pioneer 35mm cameras: LEICAS

32. Loser to Bush in 1988: DUKAKIS (Michael). Two Ks. This puzzle is quite scrabbly, with two Z's, three Xs. Only one Q away from a pangram.

33. Cataract: CASCADE

34. Bridgestone product: CAR TIRE

35. Old yellers: CRIERS. Who did not think of the the movie "Old Yeller"?

36. In a snit: VEXED

38. Places for roasters and toasters?: DAISES. Nice rhyme.

41. Picayune: SMALL

42. Yam, for one: TUBER. How do you normally prepare your yam?

44. Competitive advantage: EDGE

45. Trike rider: TYKE

47. Saul or Solomon: JEW. Saul is the first king of Israel. Are Jewish people offended by the word Jew? It has a negative tone to my goyish ear.

48. "Oh!" to Ohm: ACH. The best ACH clue I've seen.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Jun 14, 2009

Sunday June 14, 2009 Will Nediger

Theme: "Watch the Birdie" - ONE UNDER PAR (69A: Birdie that's hidden literally in 10 pairs of puzzle answers). ONE is placed under PAR in 10 different places. See this grid. I've circled all the PARs and ONEs.

20A: Fortified: RAMPARTED

23A: Cather novel set in Nebraska: O PIONEERS!

21A: Convey: IMPART

24A: __ Tunes: LOONEY

36A: Not up to stuff: SUBPAR

43A: Nary a soul: NO ONE

44A: Peeled strip: PARING

50A: Year in Augustus's reign: ONE BC

61A: Cowpoke's pal: PARD

61A: Birdie that's hidden literally in 10 pairs of puzzle answers: ONE UNDER PAR

76A: Skye of "Say Anything": IONE

88A: Like some stock: NO-PAR

93A: Philosopher __ de Beauvoir: SIMONE

94A: Arctic garb: PARKA

99A: Tip of Massachusetts: ONEILL

115A: Ancient Athens rival: SPARTA

120A: Complexion aides: TONERS

117A: California shrubland: CHAPARRAL

121A: Time long past: BYGONE ERA

I watch Chris Matthews's "Hardball" every day, yet I missed O'NEILL earlier. Chris was a long time aide to Tip O'NEIL and he speaks of his name often.

Very creative theme. I liked how the constructor placed ONE UNDER PAR in the very middle of the grid and paralleled two more theme answers at each end. Total 19 theme answers, heavy!

Quality non-theme fills also. Some are quite scrabbly. Some are very clever. Below are my favorite:

55A: HI and OK: STS (States)

72A: Priceless? FREE

16D: Delivery notice?: IT'S A BOY

5D: High point of a European vacation?: ALP

Unfortunately I had a triple-bogey round. I actually teed off very nicely, then I lost my ball. The rough was not that tough, but I did not have enough clubs in my bag.

Across:

1A: Hardly a knockout: PLAIN JANE. And STARES (123A: Knockouts attract them). Nice "knockout" pair.

10A: Imported roadsters: MIATAS. Wrote down MAZDAS.

16A: Schools of thought: ISMS

22A: Via, to Burns: THRO. Poetic "through". Mine was THRU.

26A: Mind the store: VEND. Kept trying TEND. But the intersecting PROVE (1D: Leave no doubt) says no.

27A: Large currency unit?: WAD. Nice clue.

28D: Ancient France: GAUL. Adjective Gallic. Not to be confused with Gaelic.

31A: Bev Bevan's band, briefly: ELO. Easy guess.

32A: "The Life Aquatic with Steve __": Bill Murray film: ZISSOU. Nope. Not familiar with this movie. Bill Murray loves golf. He is in "Caddyshack".

34A: Dr. Mom's remedy: TLC

38D: Pickup trick: LINE. Pickup LINE.

39A: "Great Expectations" hero: PIP. Unknown figure to me.

41A: Iowa's state tree: OAK

47A: Chilling order? SEDATIVE. I was thinking of torture.

51A: Three-part European union: BENELUX. Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The union began on January 1, 1948.

52A: Houston-to-Dallas dir.: NNW

56A: "Come Back, Little Sheba" playwright: INGE. Also the playwright for "Picnic" & "Bus Stop".

57A: Further shorten: RE-EDIT

58A: Cybercommerce: E-TAIL

60A: "Hud" Oscar winner: NEAL (Patricia). She won best actress for the movie.

62A: Brings home: NETS

64A: Brno-born people: CZECHS. Last time CZECH was clued as "Brno native". See this map of Brno. It's to the southeast of Prague.

68A: Starbucks order: TALL

73A: Scandalous stuff: SLEAZE

75A: Plant reproduction prefix: SPOR. For spore.

77A: Stretch: TERM. Noun. I was thinking of verb.

78A: Development sites: WOMBS. Couldn't get LABS out of my mind.

80A: Kid's shooter: POP GUN

82A: Burlap source: HEMP

86A: Boo Boo, in Barcelona?: OSO. Spanish for bear. Boo Boo & Yogi Bear.

87A: Sorrow: REMORSE

89A: Net grazers: LETS. Tennis.

91A: Judgment Day hymn: DIES IRAE

96A: Small wrapper?: ELF. Santa's little helper. I thought of the awful ASP.

97A: One whose tickets are often expensive: COP. I liked this clue too.

98A: Hit the sauce: TOPE. Sauce is slang for liquor.

101A: Big cat sign: LEO

103A: Dig discoveries: Var.: SHERDS. Variant of SHARDS.

108A: Most of Uruguay: PAMPAS

110A: Hayseed: RUBE

113A: Either director of "No Country for Old Men": COEN. The Coen brothers.

114A: Capitale south of San Marino: ROMA. See this map.

119A: They may be pale: ALES. Pale ALE.

122A: Clunkhead: JERK

124A: Didn't worry a bit: SLEPT EASY

Down:

2D: Carnation locale: LAPEL

4D: Nano or shuffle: IPOD. Mine is classic.

5D: Pita look-like: NAN. I have not eaten any NAN for ages.

6D: TV shooting victim of 3/21/1980: J.R. EWING. I was picturing John Lennon then Ronald Reagan, completely ignoring the clue "TV".

7D: Far from frenzied: AT EASE

9D: MS. fixers: EDS (Editors). They fix the manuscripts (MS).

10D: "__ 18" (Uris novel): MILA. Here is the book cover. I learned the title from doing Xword.

11D: "Too rich for my blood": I'M OUT. Had trouble with this one. I did not know the meaning of "Too rich for my blood".

12D: Lunar Module test mission: APOLLO IX. Interesting trivia: Wikipidia says Alan Shepard hit two golf balls on the lunar surface during Apollo 14.

13D: One of two Crayola colors with the shortest name: TAN. The other is RED?

14D: Bellicose god: ARES. Roman Mars. The Norse equivalent is THOR, correct?

17D: Garnier products: SHAMPOOS. Not a Garnier fan.

18D: Monocled food mascot: MR. PEANUT

19D: 2009 Rihanna hit: SOS. Not familiar with the song. What a poignant title, considering how she was beat up by her boyfriend.

32D: Mineral in oysters: ZINC. Oh, I did not know oysters contain ZINC.

33D: Bared one's soul: OPENED UP

35D: LeBron James, e.g., briefly: CAV(Cavalier)

37D: Cabs on the table: REDS. Wine.

38D: Attorney's specialty: LIBEL LAW

40D: The same either way: PALINDROMIC. Toughie.

42D: Lane partner: KENT. "Superman".

44D: APB part: POINTS

45D: Temper: ANNEAL. Verb.

46D: Lavishly entertain: REGALE

47D: Cassandra, for one: SEERESS. But nobody believes in Cassandra's prophecy. Apollo is a vengeful guy. He put such curse on Cassandra when she did not return his love.

48D: Private pupil: TUTEE. You would think the word is TUTOREE, as tutor is the verb.

51D: Breakfast staple: BRAN. Rice for me.

53D: Abalone product: NACRE. Mother-of-pearl.

54D: Virtuoso: WIZ. No abbreviation hint?

58D: Adopt, as a cause: ESPOUSE

59D: Moved out: LEFT HOME

61D: Pope's work: POEMS. Alexander Pope. Nice clue.

63D: Three letters forming a single sound: TRIGRAPH. New word to me. Dictionary gives an example: eau in beau.

65D: Obnoxious sort, in slang: CREEPO

66D: Jazzman Woody: HERMAN. No idea. He does not look like a jazzman. I thought of Woody Allen.

67D: Throughout, in music: SEMPRE. No idea. Same root as Marine's "Semper Fi" motto I suppose.

71D: Either of two Henry VIII wives: ANNE. I only know ANNE Boleyn.

74D: Moat site: ZOO

79D: Presage: BODE

81D: Like pumice: Var.: POROSE. No idea. Variant of porous I guess.

83D: Classic Chunky brand: ALPO. I thought of chunky peanut butter.

84D: Ecotomorph: BEANPOLE. Did not know the meaning of ecotomorph. It sounds like a verb.

85D: Newlyweds' car decoration: STREAMER

87D: Doctor, at times: REFERRER

88D: Barely beats: NIPS. New meaning of NIP to me.

90D: Holdup cover-up: SKI MASK

92D: Peaked: ILL. Not familiar with this definition of "peaked".

93D: Fountain drink: SODA POP

98D: Army medic's system: TRIAGE

100D: Doesn't die out: LASTS

102D: Eccentric: OUTRE

104D: Type of alcohol: ETHYL

105D: Jazz pianist Chick: COREA. Him I know.

107D: Driller's filling: INLAY

109D: Obsession for Lady Macbeth: SPOT. I got the answer from Across fills.

111D: Doo-wop group anchor: BASS. Strung this answer together from Across fills as well.

113D: Hudson Bay tribe: CREE. Canadian tribe answer is always CREE.

114D: British rule in India: RAJ

116D: TV wheel spinner's purchase: AN A. "Wheel of Fortune". AN E, AN I, AN O all can be clued as "TV wheel spinner's purchase".

117D: "Criminal Minds" network: CBS. Easy guess.

Answer grid.

C.C.

Apr 5, 2009

Sunday April 5, 2009 Will Nediger

Theme: In the Nonfiction Section (Add HOW to a familiar phrase)

23A: Handbook of euphemisms?: HOW TO PUT IT MILDLY

37A: Manual for talk show guests? HOW TO BE ANNOUNCED

44A: Guide for sore losers?: HOW TO BLAME

62A: Self-help book for compulsive liars?: HOW TO BE PERFECTLY FRANK

78A: Reference work for modelists?: HOW TO SCALE

85A: Vade mecum for neologists?: HOW TO COIN A PHRASE

105A: Therapeutic book for blowhards?: HOW TO SAY THE LEAST

I did not know a modelist is a person who makes models (as of planes). And I also did not know the meaning of "Vade mecum (manual, literally "go with me" in Latin). I think I need a dummy's "How to Read Rich Norris' Mind" crossword guide.

Look at these tricky clues he devised:

56A: Bouncer?: BALL. Sure, BALL bounces. I saw the question mark in his clue. And I know he is trying to play with my mind, yet I was still fixed on the bar bouncers.

13D: Take-out order?: DELE. Once again, the question mark did nothing to prevent me from thinking of food. I am so used to the "Editor's mark" clue.

30D: Notions holder: ETUI. To me, "notions" are just ideas. So I wanted HEAD. I was totally ignorant of the "small articles, such as buttons, thread, ribbon, and other personal items" meaning of "notions".

They are clever and entertaining clues once you understand the rationale. But quite frustrating if you can't think outside the box and see where the editor is trying to mislead you. Anyway, I picked up where I left yesterday. Another round of struggle.

Now looking back at my finished grid, I feel that I know lots of answers. But the cluing is so vastly different from the old Williams style that the puzzle was made so much harder to solve.

Oh, why "Ring site" for EAR (107D)? The "Ring" here is not earring, isn't it?

Across:

1A: Motorists' warnings: HONKS. My husband loses patience easily and HONKS when I don't think he should.

6A: A great deal: GOBS. And A TAD (103D: To a slight extend).

15A: "Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer" musical: CATS. Know the musical. Have never heard of the song. Very intimidating clue.

20A: Nimbus: AURA

21A: Humble home: HOVEL. I like the alliteration.

22A: Where Camus' "The Plague" is set: ORAN. Camus was born here, so was Yves Saint Laurent.

26A: Opening word?: MAMA. I thought of opening word in a letter, so I wanted DEAR.

27A: MD's workplaces: ORS. ERS too.

28A: Film introduction?: MICRO. Microfilm.

29A: Close call: SCARE

30A: Hinder: EMBAR

31A: Thread-spinning Fate: CLOTHO. No idea. Have never heard of the Moirae the Three Fates before. Only knew the three Furies (Erinyes) who are chasing Orestes.

33A: It's commonly twisted: ANKLE. I was thinking of PLOT.

34A: Sight in le ciel: ETOILE. Might be tough for those who don't speak French. "Le ciel" is "the sky". "Star in le ciel" would have been an easier clue.

40A: Large envelope feature: CLASP

43A: Patty Hearst alias: TANIA. Unknown to me. Surprised to learn that Patty Hearst is still alive.

48A: He played Sheldon in "Misery": CAAN (James). Someone mentioned this film at the Comments section a few months ago.

50A: Future elm: SEED. Oh well, I thought there might be a special term for the seed, like ACORN for "Future oak".

54A: Sushi fish: EEL. Or AHI occasionally.

55A: Item stolen in Pope's "The Rape of the Lock": TRESS. Uh-uh, nope. Have never heard of this Pope poem. I was confused by the title, thinking of the door lock.

57A: Bareback rider's lack: SADDLE

59A: Hindu god who rides a bull named Nandi: SHIVA. This detailed clue only makes the answer harder for me to obtain. I know SHIVA the "destroyer". Had no idea that he rides a bull. Why those male gods are pictured as feminine is beyond me.

60A: Programmer's output: CODE

61A: Bronze coatings: PATINAS. Heard this word a lot in Antique Roadshows.

67A: U-Haul rental: TRAILER

68A: Drift gracefully: WAFT. Why "gracefully"?

69A: Hard thing to kick: HABIT. Good clue. What's the one bad HABIT you want to get rid of now?

70A: Penn pal: TELLER. Tough clue for me. I am not familiar with Penn & TELLER . Are they very famous?

71A: Nincompoop: BOZO

72A: Lord's home: MANOR. Thought "Lord" was God.

76A: Facebook user's nudge: POKE. No idea. Not into Facebook or Twitter.

77A: Stand-up comic's need: MIKE. "Karaoke need" too.

80A: "Use your head": THINK. Well, obviously I don't know how to "Use my head". The answer did not come to me readily at all.

84A: Antidote target: TOXIN. What's the difference between antidote and antibody?

93A: Jason's vessel: ARGO. His band mates are called Argonauts. I can't remember the story. Did they find the Golden Fleece in the end?

94A: Melodious: ARIOSE. Need to chew some acorn. I can never remember this word.

95A: Drinks for Radar: NEHIS. Very odd poster. What is she holding on her hands?

96A: Get lovey-dovey: CUDDLE. And NESTLE (88D: Get cozy). So sweet!

98A: "Bingo!": RIGHT

99A: Quaint denial: TISNT. No idea. It isn't?

100A: Fencer's move: LUNGE

101A: Flapper's wrapper: BOA. Love the rhyme in the clues. All these flappers seem to have short hair.

104A: Venetian elder of yore: DOGE. Learned this word from doing Xword. It's like English "duke".

108A: __ Girl: former teen fashion mag: ELLE. Oh, I was unaware the short life of ELLE Girl (August 2001-July 2006).

109A: Colorado senator Mark: UDALL. No idea. He needs to appear on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" often for me to pay attention to him. Last time Wayne Williams clued UDALL as "Morris or Stewart of Arizona". I suppose they are all related somehow.

110A: Court statement: PLEA

111A: Jazzman Hines: FATHA. No, I don't know this Earl Hines nickname. What does it mean? Father?

112A: React in shock: REEL

113A: Ready to ship: BOXED. My first reaction is CRATED.

114A: "Sesame Street" guy with a unibrow: BERT. Learned his name from doing crossword. Who's the guy on the left?

115A: Walk, often lightly: TREAD. Really? If TREAD already means "Walk, often lightly", why do we often say TREAD lightly?

Down:

1D: "The Farmer in the Dell" syllables: HI-HO

2D: Wavy lines, in comics: ODOR. I like this clue.

3D: Scrolling 25-Down feature: NEWS CRAWL. And MSNBC (25D: 24-hr. news source)

5D: Replay technique: SLO-MO

6D: Pampean cowboy: GAUCHO. Does GAUCHO and gauche have the same root?

7D: Beat in a regatta: OUTROW. Holy cow! This is a real word. I thought it's made-up.

8D: Con__: spiritedly: BRIO. I bet it's a gimme for Crockett.

9D: Took a load off: SAT

10D: Actor Alan: THICKE. New actor to me. A Canadian. Wikipedia says he was in "Growing Pains".

11D: "Très chic!": OO LA LA

12D: Blockbuster transaction: DVD RENTAL. The cluster of 4 consonants at the beginning of the fill looks quite cool together.

15D: Utterly ordinary: COMMON AS DIRT

16D: Mauritania's official language: ARABIC. I don't where Mauritania is. Dictionary says it's a former French colony. I am surprised that ARABIC is their official language then.

17D: Food wrapped in a corn husk: TAMALE

18D: Trapped: SNARED

24D: Heart: PITH

32D: Complex ABC drama: LOST

36D: Baffin Bay sighting: FLOE. See this map of Baffin Bay. I need an "Arctic" clue for the answer to leap to me.

38D: Rolaids rival: TUMS

41D: Road problem: POTHOLE

45D: Hush money payer: BRIBER

46D: Obsolescent vote finalizer: LEVER. Unknown to me. Here is a picture of a LEVER voting machine when I googled.

47D: Exec's "Fast": ASAP

48D: Citadel student: CADET. Would have got the answer immediately if the clue were "West Point student". I am not familiar with the military college The Citadel.

52D: Panache: ELAN

53: Student's station: DESK

56D: Big, in Variety: BOFFO. Here are more Variety jargon.

57D: Make a peep: SAY BOO. Why? I don't grok it at all.

58D: To begin with: AT FIRST

59D: Part of a femme fatale's outfit: STILETTO HEEL. Great answer.

60D: Pet rocks, once: CRAZE. We had a wild Twins medallions CRAZE several years ago.

65D: Fighter in the Battle for Endor: EWOK. Once again, the extra information in the clue is useless to me. I am used to the "Furry "Star Wars"creature" clue.

66D: Spring event: THAW

71D: Sunbather's depilatory: BIKINI WAX. Another great fill.

72D: Heath: MOOR

73D: 2008 economic stimulus provision: TAX REBATE. I like this answer also.

74D: Sacha Baron Cohen persona: ALI G. Were you thinking of Borat?

77D: 6, on a phone: MNO

79D: West Virginia resource: COAL. China accounts for almost 4/5 of the total deaths in COAL mine accidents.

81D: Party giver: HOST

82D: Bar stock: ICE

83D: Barely rains: SPITS. Dictionary defines SPIT as "fall in scattered drops or flakes, as rain or snow". New to me also.

85D: Higher on the Mohs scale: HARDER. Good clue. Diamond is 10 in Mohs scale.

86D: Colorful songbird: ORIOLE. Cal Ripken Jr. is an ORIOLE too. The price of his baseball cards really does not reflect his achievements.

87D: Toe movement: WIGGLE

89D: California's governor, facetiously: AHNOLD. Because of his accent? I got the answer. Don't understand the reason.

90D: More intense: ACUTER

91D: Beach topper: SUN HAT

92D: Trim or rim: EDGE. D'oh. Of course! V-8 moment for me.

97D: Jan Vermeer's hometown: DELFT. I like Vermeer's "Milkmaid" and "Girl with a Pearl Earring"(the Scarlett Johansson movie is good too). But I don't know he was born in DELFT, a city noted for its fine blue-and-white pottery.

99D: List heading: TO DO

102D: Wrokplace stds. org.: OSHA

105D: Where spokes meet: HUB

106D: LAPD alert: APB. This is probaly the only LA reference today.

Answer Grid.

C.C.