Dec 19, 2008

Friday December 19, 2008 Allan E. Parrish

Theme: Have an AX to Grind

17A: Kenny G, e.g.: SAX PLAYER

24A: Modern message-sender: FAX MACHINE

37A: Like most charitable contributions: TAX DEDUCTIBLE

50A: Corporal of the 4077th: MAX KLINGER

61A: Rhapsodize: WAX POETIC

Hammer fell for me! So many unfamiliar proper names.

Got the theme rather quickly and filled in all the AX'es. But ZLOTYS (45D: Polish cash) intersects ELEAZAR? Impossible for me. Also, the clue for 50A meant nothing to me. I've never watched M*A*S*H.

Why abbreviated "Fr." for A DEUX (7D: Of two: Fr.) clue?


1A: Garfield for one: CAT. Garfield's pal is ODIE.

4A: Dazzling display: ECLAT. Very close to ECLAIR in spelling.

9A: Egg-shaped: OVATE. And OVA (35A: Eggs).

14A: Mary of "Where Eagles Dare": URE. Another "My Pet Goat" freezing moment for me. I can never remember the name of this actress.

16A: Brett of the gridiron: FAVRE. A rare gimme for me. Lots of Green Bay Packers flags & signs in our neighborhood. Weird to see him in Jets jersey.

19A: Thematic musical piece: FUGUE. This kid probably knows more about Bach's Prelude and FUGUE than I ever could.

23A: Crisp or Chanel: COCO. I think this is the first time that COCO Crisp appears in any nationally syndicated puzzle. He was just traded to the Royals.

29A: Small hill: KNOLL. It reminded me of the Grassy KNOLL & Dealey Plaza. Personally, I think Caroline Kennedy is trying to fulfill her brother's dream when she announced her interest in Hillary's seat. JFK Jr. was seriously contemplating running for the Senate before he died.

31A: Overturned: UPENDED

32A: Begin, for example: ISRAELI. Good clue. Menachem BEGIN. He won Nobel Peace in 1979, together with Anwar Sadat.

41A: Eclipse or Stride: GUM

42A: Tenon holder: MORTISE. Here is the diagram again.

43A: Dartmouth founder Wheelock: ELEAZAR. I googled his name.

46A: T. Garr movie: MR. MOM. I had zero familiarity with this movie.

56A: Fifth of CCCV: LXI. Roman 61. That will be the Super Bowl of 2027.

57A: QB stats: INTS. Interceptions I suppose. All I know about football is TDS.

66A: Salad bar item: BAC~OS. New to me. Is it tasty?

67A: Medicinal plant: SENNA. The "Tuscany city" is SIENA. And the "Earth pigment" is SIENNA. And of course, there is also the actress SIENNA Miller. Also HENNA, "Reddish Dye".


1D: "Serendipity" star John: CUSACK. I saw the movie. Very silly.

2D: Region of Spain: ARAGON. It's the region where Catherine of ARAGON came from I presume.

3D: Chevron's 2001 merger partner: TEXACO

4D: Emigrant's subject: ESL (English as a Second Language)

5D: Grain husks: CHAFF

6D: Clapton classic: LAYLA. Here is the clip. What does "Unplugged" mean?

8D: Tuesday god: TYR. Norse god of strife. Wikipedia says he is often portrayed as a "one-handed man". New to me.

10D: Slugger Mo: VAUGHN. Gimme for me. His baseball card is not worth anything.

12D: Play about Capote: TRU

18D: Long-winded: PROLIX. New word to me.

22D: American elk: WAPITI

25D: Penalize by fining: MULCT. This word just looks so wrong.

26D: Billy of Rock: IDOL. Wow, I am glad I've never heard of him before.

27D: Actress Campbell: NEVE. I liked her in "Party of Five".

28D: Writer LeShan: EDA. Would not have got her name without the across fills.

30D: Hippie drug: LSD. Did anyone actually try this drug in the 1960's?

37D: City south of Moscow: TULA. Foreign to me. See this map.

38D: NYSE rival: AMEX. Can you believe that Barnard Madoff was once the NASDAQ Chairman?

40D: Wodehouse's Wooster: BERTIE. No idea. See here for more information.

44D: Quite alike: AKIN TO

47D: Lola or Maria: MONTEZ. Lola MONTEZ was a dancer, and Maria MONTEZ was an actress. I knew neither of them.

52D: Gas giant: EXXON. It's merged with Mobil in 1999

53D: Wisconsin college: RIPON. Another new name to me. RIP ON, why would they pick up this name?

58D: Dubya's Florida brother: JEB. Molly Ivins coined "Dubya". Boy, she sure had a biting tongue.

60D: Vert. bars on goods: UPC

61D: London loos: WCS. Needs "briefly" in the clue.

62D: Volga tributary: OKA. I got this river from the across fills. Too many vowel-laden rivers in Europe.


Dec 18, 2008

Thursday December 18, 2008 Alan P. Olschwang

Theme: The More The Merrier

20A: Start of a Mae West witticism: TOO MUCH OF

37A: Part 2 of witticism: A GOOD THING CAN BE

52A: End of the witticism: WONDERFUL

Is "witticism" the same as "quip" or more sophisticated?

Not an inspired or inspiring puzzle to me. Quite boring in fact. With ADEPT crossing ADOPT, and STOOP (34D: Small porch) & SNOOP, ASSN & ASST all in one grid, the puzzle felt very hastily constructed and perfunctorily edited.

Bad clue for FOCI (54D: Central points) as POINT is an answer for 28D: Promontory, a word I've never heard before.

I am hoping for an interesting puzzle tomorrow. I don't want a hammer though.


1A: Easy dupes: SAPS. Why "Easy"? Is there any dupe that is hard to deceive? "Dupes" alone is sufficient.

16A: First name in jeans: LEVI. And DENIM (49A: Jeans material). Good pair. I am glad LEVI is not clued biblically ("Son of Jacob/Leah"). However, I wish THOU (35D: 10 c-notes) were clued as "Bible pronoun" or "__ shalt not...". Why? Because I have been living under the rock. Have never heard of a grand being called THOU before.

19A: "The Sea, the Sea" author Murdoch: IRIS. Knew "Author Murdoch". Not familiar with the book, Booker prize winner in 1978.

25A: Outpouring: SPATE

28A: Wall coatings: PLASTERS

33A: Whimper like a child: PULE. New word to me. Dictionary gives an example: "It becometh not such a gallant to whine and PULE. --- Barrow". Who is Barrow?

34A: Moe, Larry or Curly: STOOGE

40A: Bk. after Ezra: NEH. The answer always seems to be NEH when there are 3 blanks.

43A: Surveillance: STAKEOUT

45A: Steps over a fence: STILE. I don't know what's so special about this word. It keeps popping up in our puzzle.

58A: Myopic cartoon character: MAGOO. Have you seen this film?

59A: Hercules' captive: IOLE. New myth figure to me. What a sad read. Jealousy can be so poisonous. I was actually thinking of an animal, you know, those Twelve Labours of Hercules.

60A: Painter Magritte: RENE. The Belgian surrealist famous for "This is Not a Pipe".

61A: Ship's lowest deck: ORLOP. Would not have got this word without the neighboring fills. I have difficulty remembering this deck.


4D: City near Oakland: SAN MATEO. Quite a few famous people are from this city. I wonder what Barry Bonds is doing now. His #756 ball definitely deserves an ASTERISK (39D: Star-shaped figure").

6D: East on a map: RIGHT. Boy, I felt like an idiot. This answer did not come to me readily at all.

11D: Queen of the gods: HERA. Ah, the jealous wife of Zeus. I guess all women are jealous to some degree, but no one is as vindicative as HERA.

12D: "We try harder" company: AVIS. Nice change from the "Rara AVIS" clue.

13D: __ and shine!: RISE. Which DF meaning is true, #1 or #3?

22D: Trig. function: COSEC. I've never understood this sine & COSEC stuff.

26D: Sound of Washington: PUGET. Is PUGET Sound the most famous sound in America?

32D: Sorenstam or Garbo, e.g.: SWEDE. Ingrid/Ingmar Bergman too, so is Tiger Woods' wife. She is very pretty.

51D: Lowest pinochle card: NINE. No idea. I have "My Pet Goat" moment every time I see a card clue, totally freezing up.

58D: Bygone bird: MOA. It's too huge to be called a bird.


Dec 17, 2008

Wednesday December 17, 2008 Diane C. Baldwin

Theme: Choice Words

20A: Poker player's alternative: GET IN OR GET OUT

39A: Negotiator's option: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT

53A: A call for action: FISH OR CUT BAIT

This constructor seems to favor three theme answers, with the middle one running through the grid.

Lots of vowels in this puzzle. And quite a few 5-letter words with 3 vowels alone. Felt like I just had a few OREO cookies for breakfast. I think I need more than that to sustain me through the morning.

The clue for ODDS (54D: Track stats) needs to be changed into "Track figures", as "stats" suggests an abbreviation. I would prefer a "Track fence" clue for RAIL (55D: Balustrade), since ODDS parallels RAIL in the grid.


1A: Plunk down: PLOP. I dislike the letter duplications. "Set down heavily" is fine. Or simply clue PLOP as a noun, like "Stone dropping into water sound", or something like that.

9A: Power for Fulton: STEAM

14A: Tibetan monk: LAMA. Literally "superior one" in Tibetan language. Wikipedia has a different definition, claiming it's similar to Sankrit "Guru", meaning "teacher".

19A: Bow lubricant: ROSIN. Baseball pitchers also use ROSIN for better grip, when their hands are wet or cold.

30A: Removal from office: OUSTING. I did not expect an *ING ending noun.

35A: Render harmless: UNARM. Same clue applies to DISARM I suppose.

38A: Debate side: ANTI. And ANTE (8D: Feed the kitty). They are of different root, so it's acceptable to place the two words in one grid.

44A: Captain Nemo's creator: VERNE (Jules). "Father of Science Fiction". Interesting, Wikipedia says Verne is "the second most translated author of all time, only behind Agatha Christie". I wonder where Shakepeare is placed.

46A: Snappy comeback: RIPOSTE. It's the same as repartee, isn't it?

49A: Yule quaff: EGGNOG. Very seasonable answer. Seasoned too of course, with nutmeg.

67A: Abrasive cloth: EMERY. This lower left corner is very boring, with NICER crossing RARER.

69A: Wild plum: SLOE. "Wild plum"? New to me. I thought SLOE only looks like a plum. I am more used to the "Blackthorn" clue.

69A: Big jerk: YANK. "Big jerk"? Is this about Yankees' Steinbrenner?


4D: Place for a barbecue: PATIO. Another 3-vowel word.

5D: Number puzzle: SUDOKU. Numbers give me headache.

7D: Percussion instrument: GONG. I wonder if our editor is aware of GONG Li, who has been the most influential Chinese actress in the past two decades.

10D: Rainbow in the water: TROUT

11D: New Yorkers, for instance: EASTERNERS

12D: Rope-a-dope poet: ALI. I was not aware of the origin.

21D: Model Campbell: NAOMI. Hebrew for “pleasant”, not a word to describe NAOMI Campbell though. NAOMI Watts, yes.

25D: Eyeball membrane: RETINA

26D: Treated with malice: SPITED

28D: Digital alternative: ANALOG

29D: Machine gun assault, perhaps: RAKING FIRE. The answer revealed itself after I filled in the across fills. Have never heard of this term before.

36D: Gen. Powell's status: RET. I wonder if Gen. Powell knows that RET is "Soak flax" in our Xword world. His wife is an avid crossword solver.

38D: Hail to Caesar: AVE. Probably not many St. for Caesar to cross during his life time.

40D: Dark meat serving: THIGH. Can you imagine what Dennis would say if the clue were "Breast alternative"?

52D: Dark, heavy wood: EBONY. I just saw "The Piano" last night. Are black piano keys still made of EBONY?

60D: Bard's before: ERE


Dec 16, 2008

Tuesday December 16, 2008 Doug Peterson

Theme: Pardonable Robberies

20A: Asleep for a while: GRABBING SOME Z'S

38A: Upstaging a star: STEALING THE SHOW

56A: Humbling: TAKING DOWN A PEG

Bernard Madoff and his staggering Ponzi scheme are certainly unpardonable and unforgivable. What this mad, mad, Madoff did was gravity-defying daylight robbery. Amazing, $50 billion, even HSBC was victimized.

Easy solving today. Simple theme, simple fills. I really like the RAMBO clue (25A: Sly character?), very cleverly misleading. But "USA foe" for USSR (32A)? No. Definitely needs "Former" or "Once".


5A: Biathlon equipment: SKIS. Every time I see this answer, I picture Bode Miller skiing while intoxicated. He is wild, living on edge all the time.

14A: Chanteuse Horne: LENA. Why "Chanteuse"? Edith Piaf is a chanteuse.

17A: Big golf tournament: OPEN. And IRWIN (40D: Golfer Hale): Hale IRWIN is a three - time US OPEN champion. He designed the Jewel Golf Course here in MN.

19A: WWII landing site: ANZIO. See it? It's to the south of Rome. So many Italian names end in letter A, O or I.

28A: Vacation option: RESORT

44A: NASA affirmatives: A-OKS. What is "NASA negatives then"? NO GOES?

47A: "Mack the Knife" singer: DARIN. Here is the clip. I've never understood what the song is about.

52A: "Bewitched" role: ENDORA. One again, I had to rely on the surrounds to get her name. I know, I should eat worms. But worms are frozen here. Too cold.

60A: Like candles: WAXEN. Madame Tussauds' figures are WAXEN too.

61A: Quattro maker: AUDI. Very clever name change. AUDI sure sounds catchier than Horch.

62A: Goneril's royal pop: LEAR. King LEAR's other two daughters are Cordelia and Regan.

65A: First name in whodunits: ERLE. And his contemporary NGAIO (51D: Marsh of mysteries), whose name I forgot completely. Last time our editor clued MARSH as "Ngaio of mysteries".


1D: Laceless shoes: CLOGS. No "Drain problem" today.

4D: Down under capital: CANBERRA. If Roger Elbert is correct, why the movie "Austrialia" then?

6D: Zen riddle: KOAN. This is another difficult word for me to remember.

9D: Annual Calgary event: STAMPEDE. New event to me. STAMPEDE always brings to mind those dangerous Hajj scenes.

11D: Heckle: RAZZ. Remember the "Bronx cheer" we discussed a while ago?

12D: Goddess of discord: ERIS. Discordia in Roman. She and her golden apple indirectly sparked the Trojan War.

22D: Woman with a book club: OPRAH

27D: 1977 George Burns film: OH, GOD. Easy guess. Have never heard of this movie. Looks interesting.

29D: Cuatro doubled: OCHO. Italian eight is OTTO.

33D: Town near Caen: ST. LO

36D: Sicilian rumbler: ETNA. When did it last rumble?

41D: Shod for the beach: SANDALED

48D: Spool back: REWIND

59D: Comic strip canine: ODIE. The "Garfield's dog. O?IE seems to be a very popular crossword pattern, with three vowels. I can think of OBIE (Theater Award), OPIE (Mayberry kid) and OKIE (Dust Bowl migrant). What else?


Dec 15, 2008

Monday December 15, 2008 Josiah Breward

Theme: Put Pen to Paper

17A: Guarantee against failure: UNDERWRITE

41A: Lacking detail: SKETCHY

62A: Epistolary afterthought: POSTSCRIPT

11D: Pulp paper: NEWSPRINT

36D: Self-propelled railroad car: DOODLEBUG

I've never heard of DOODLEBUG. What a strange name. Good theme, all of above highlighted green-letter words are in verb form.

And a feminine sub-theme:

19A: Org. founded in 1855: YWCA. YMCA is founded in 1844.

69A: Org. of Ochoa and Creamer: LPGA. It's founded in 1950. Great clue. Both Ochoa and Creamer are the backbones of LPGA now. Annika Sorenstam officially called it a quit yesterday in Dubai.

52A: Feminist grp: NOW (National Organization for Women). It's founded in 1966.

Also a Jewish sub-theme:

48A: Passover meals: SEDERS. Funny "20 Things to do with Matzoh".

66A: Hebrew month: ELUL. Last month of Jewish calendar. Did you write down ADAR first?

67A: Jehovah: ELOHIM. No idea. Dictionary defines ELOHIM as "a name for God in the Hebrew Scriptures".

47D: Mystical teachings: var.: KABALA. Madonna, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher all practice CABALA. I think Britney Spears was into it for sometime too.

I wish LEIA (16A: Han Solo's love) were clued as "Han's love" or "Luke's sister" as SOLO was the answer to 59D: Recital piece.

Very choppy solving today. Was stumped by a few proper names. Had to cheat.


1A: 911 respondent: EMS. EMT is "911 respondent" too.

4A: Ancient Syrian city: ALEPPO. I forgot. It appeared on a TMS Sunday puzzle before. Here is the map. I really don't like the clue "Ancient", even though ALEPPO has been in existence since 1100 B.C. "Ancient" always makes me think that city does not exist any more.

10A: Sicilian resort: ENNA. The "Sicilian volcano" is ETNA.

20A: Baja beach: PLAYA. Spanish for "beach".

21A: Antarctic body: ROSS SEA. Unknown to me. See the map. Strange to look at the world from another angle, isn't it?

37A: Flockhard of "Ally McBeal": CALISTA. They are a great couple.

40A: "The Bronx __": ZOO. Is this the short-lived TV series or the book about Yankees? Both are obscure to me. There are so many other ways to clue ZOO.

44A: Agony: TORTURE. I like Proust's quote "Love is reciprocal TORTURE". He also said "We become moral when we are unhappy". True?

46A: Part of a screwdriver: VODKA. Ah, I love, love this clue. Bloody Mary has VODKA as ingredient too. Virgin Mary does not.

50A: Stick it out: LAST. I misinterpreted the clue as "Stick out", so I had trouble getting LAST. I kept thinking JUT.

53A: Equestrian game: POLO

70A: Mammalian epoch: EOCENE. Would not have got this word without the down entries. EO is a prefix meaning "“primeval' or "early".


1D: Break out: ERUPT

4D: Gillette blade: ATRA. I wonder why the brand is named ATRA instead of ASTRA. ATRA does not make any sense to me.

5D: Hoad of tennis: LEW. Did not know this Australian tennis player.

7D: Air pressure meas.: PSI (Pounds per Square Inch). I was more familiar with the "Tire pressure meas." See, our editor does not like partial fill, otherwise, he could have also clued PSI as "P.S. I Love You". Such a sweet movie.

8D: Czech physicist Beckmann: PETR. I googled his name. He wrote "The History of PI".

10D: Palais du president: ELYSEE. They live in the Palais de l'Élysée.

22D: Off-course wanderer: STRAYER. STRAY can also be "Off-course wanderer", right?

24D: Military hat: SHAKO. Why is this hat so hard for me to commit to memory?

25D: Well workers: OILERS. Hockey fans probably prefer the the Edmonton OILERS clue.

26D: Composer Benjamin: BRITTEN. Another google. He is a British composer. Is BRITTEN pronounced like Briton?

29D: Rapture: ECSTASY. I wish ECSTASY intersects the clue "Agony" rather than the answer TORTURE.

30D: Former Lisbon coin: ESCUDO. No idea. Wikipedia says it was also a money unit in Spain and its colonies before Euro was ushered in.

34D: Black Sea arm: AZOV. Here is the map. I've never heard of it before.

38D: Hurled: THREW

54D: Small antelope: ORIBI. Her face looks so thin. New antelope to me. I could only think of ELAND, which is huge. I can't believe those horns are hollow.

56D: Scheduled next: ON TAP. ON DECK is "Scheduled next" too.

57D: Belgian singer/songwriter: BREL. This reminds me of a friend. He loves Jacques BREL.

58D: Cry out in pain: YELP. Dogs YELP. Do people YELP also?


Dec 14, 2008

Sunday December 14, 2008 Robert H. Wolfe

Theme: Prefixed People

26A: More than one "Cape Fear" co-star?: POLYBERGEN (Polly Bergen)

28A: Wrong fictional detective?: MISMARPLE (Miss Marple)

48A: Small country singer?: MINIPEARL (Minnie Pearl)

69A: Driven director?: AUTOPREMINGER (Otto Preminger)

96A: 1/10 of a bandleader?: DECIARNAZ (Desi Arnaz)

110A: Around a fictional lawyer?: PERIMASON (Perry Mason)

115A: Dry Broadway star? XEROMOSTEL (Zero Mostel)

36D: Little fashion designer?: OLIGCASSINI (Oleg Cassini)

44D: Broadcast TV cop?: TELESAVALAS (Telly Savalas)

I was not aware that XERO is a prefix for "dry", as in xeroderma, "a disease in which the skin becomes dry, hard, and scaly."

I only knew OLIG from oligarchy, so I always thought OLIG means a few. "Little" made me think Cassini is short. Is he?

Normally I don't like actor/actresse - laden puzzles. But I enjoyed this one. Very creative theme.

Got a bit emotional when I filled in the Roman numeral XXXIV for 107D: "34, once." Thought of Twins great Kirby Puckett whose jersey number was 34. Kirby used to say "Don't take anything for granted, because tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

I dislike the clue for ILIA (52D: Pieces of pelvises). I know the constructor is having alliteration in his mind, but "Pieces" bring fractured bones to my mind.


1A: San Joaquin Valley tribe: YOKUTS. Literally "people" in their own language. Alien to me. I also did not know where San Joaquin Valley is. "San Joaquin" is Saint Joachim in Spanish.

12A: Mixed sandwich spread: EGG SALAD. So messy to eat.

20A: Dismount: ALIGHT. The past tense ALIT seems to make more appearances in crossword.

21A: In the work cited: OP. CIT. I tend to confuse this phrase with IBID.

22A: Type of gland: SALIVARY. I only knew SALIVA.

23A: "Robocop" co-star: WELLER (Peter). Googled his name. The title of this film does not sound interesting to me.

25A: In complete agreement: AS ONE MAN

30A: Matador's foe: TORO. "Matar" is "Kill" in Spanish.

40A: Potvin or Savard: DENIS. Both are former NHL players. Denis Potvin was with the New York Islanders, and DENIS Savard was with Chicago Blackhawks for a long time. I was not familiar with either of them. Why DENIS instead of DENNIS?

59A: International business conflict: TRADE WAR

62A: CBS hit: CSI

66A: Noble family of Ferrara: ESTE. Also, "East" in Spanish.

67A: Mouths: Lat.: ORA. Dictionary says ORA is a plural of Latin "os" (mouth). Unknown to me. I've only seen ORA clued as " __ pro nobis" before.

79A: Carpool-lane letters: HOV

85A: "The Bartered Bride" composer: SMETANA. I googled his name. Here is the overture of "The Bartered Bride".

94A: Virgil's Trojan hero: AENEAS. Ah, I remember him. Dido, the queen of Carthage, committed suicide because AENEAS could not be with her any more. How sad! But at least he loved her when they were together.

106A: Stock index: AMEX

121A: Rabble-rouser: AGITATOR

122A: Canonical hours: SEXTS. I obtained this answer from down fills. Sex, sexi, sext are all Latin prefixes for six.

125A: Number sheets: PAGINATE

127A: Sundial: GNOMON. I can never remember GNOMON. It's Greek for "indicator".

128A: Unit of radiation wavelengths: ANGSTROM. Named after the Swedish physicist Anders ANGSTROM. Unknown to me also. ANGST ROM, such an angry-looking name.

130A: Kennedy assassin: OSWALD. This issue of Life magazine with Lee Harvey OSWALD on the cover is very collectible.


1D: Bawl: YAWP. New word to me. I don't like the "aw" duplication in the clue and the answer.

2D: Butter's bro: OLEO. Why "bro" instead of "sis"?

5D: Neighbor of Luxor: THEBES. Neighbor? Really? I can only find Luxor on this map. Have only heard of the Greek city THEBES.

7D: "Marty" star: BORGNINE. How can I remember his name? BORG NINE. We just had ERNEST clued as "Actor Borgnine" last Tuesday.

10D: Third word of "America": 'TIS. I guessed. Not familiar with the lyrics.

14D: Takes by theft: GLOMS

15D: Old Blue Eyes: SINATRA. Do you know that "My Way" was written by Paul Anka?

19D: Unit of force: DYNE. Newton fraction. "Unit of work" is ERG, "Joule faction".

35D: Elite wheel: LIMO

37D: Plays around?: GOLFS. A round of GOLF. Nice play on "around".

39D: Becloud: MIST UP. I like compound word answers.

41D: Bringer of bad news: ILL WIND. See the origin. I like the verse in the end: "... And the oboe it is clearly understood/Is an ill wind that no one blows good". Look at the line above the verse, "presumably as 'French horn' didn't scan". What does "scan" mean? Rhyme?

45D: What is left: ESTATE. I have problem understanding the grammar structure of the clue. "Stuff that's left" is easier for me to parse.

46D: Entrance gates: STILES

48D: "Simpsons" barkeep: MOE. Also the name of a Stooge.

55D: Grubs: CADGES. I toiled hard for this answer. Always associate "Grubs" with food.

58D: Play starter: ACT ONE

64D: Shoreline state: LOW TIDE. Why? What is "Shoreline state"?

68D: Lion, at times: ROARER

71D: Actress Loy: MYRNA. Another google. She played Nora in "The Thin Man".

80D: Hokkaido port: OTARU. I forgot. Here is the map again. Lot of AINU (The aboriginal Japanese) live there I suppose.

83D: "The __ Cometh": ICEMAN. An educated guess. Not familiar with this Eugene O'Neill play. That guy looks like Henry Fonda in "12 Angry Men", doesn't he?

84D: Beginning of the large intestine: CECUM. New word to me. Did you notice the three embedded ICE in this part of the grid?

86D: Frequency meas.: MHZ. The answer came to me after I cheated on the intersecting composer SMETANA.

87D: River to the Gulf of Finland: NEVA. See this map. Another new river to me.

88D: Arabian Sea port: ADEN. Belongs to Yemen.

95D: Sway-resistant: ADAMANT. Odd clue.

101D: 1539 Florida visitor: DE SOTO. No idea. I was thinking of De Leon, who tried to find the "Fountain of Youth" in Florida. I wonder if they knew each other.

109D: Insect stage: IMAGO. Larva, pupa and IMAGO.

111D: Richard of "A Summer Place": EGAN. I penned in GERE first. Not familiar with this actor or the movie. Nice theme song.

112D: Diana of "The Avengers": RIGG. I wrote down LANE first. I've never heard of her or "The Avengers".

113D: Suffix for diseases: ITIS. I would prefer a partial fill IT IS clue.

114D: Provo neighbor: OREM. Learned this city name from doing Xword.

116D: Kett of comics: ETTA. Sometimes ETTA is clued as "Singer James". Such a daring song title!

117D: Garbage barge: SCOW

118D: Author Janowitz: TAMA. One more google. She wrote "Slaves of New York". Wikipedia says TAMA Janowitz is one of the four original "brat pack" authors.

119D: Organic compound: ENOL. Is "carbon compound" also organic?


Dec 13, 2008

Saturday December 13, 2008 Michael T. Williams

Theme: None

Total blocks: 31

Total words: 72

This sure looks like a weekday grid, doesn't it? So many blocks and so many words. In case you forgot, the maximum amount of words allowed in a TMS Saturday themeless puzzle is 72.

Not an easy puzzle for me today. I used lots of Wite-Out. Misread a few clues and filled in several answers recklessly. Penned in EPEE instead of RAIL for 20D: Fence piece (thought it was "Fencing piece"). Also wrote down RED instead of ODD for 43A: Roulette bet.

I disliked the clue for TEAPOTS (52A: Tabletop brewers) because TABLEWARE (42A: Dining gear) is an answer in the grid. Seeing the clue for BIG TEN (31A: Conference of Golden Gophers) makes me happy.


1A: Aussie burrows: WOMBATS. He does look like a bear, doesn't he?

15A: Caspian's neighbor: ARAL SEA. See this map. They are not neighbors to me.

16A: Somewhat dilatory: SLOWISH. "Dilatory" is a new word to me. I thought it's related to dilate.

19A: "Dora Maar" painter: PICASSO. His "Dora Maar au Chat" was sold over $95 million at a Sotheby's auction in 2006. Astonishing! Gertrude Stein was very sympathetic to Dora Maar, who cried a lot during her tumultuous relationship with PICASSO.

20A: Disavowed: RECANTED. I misread the clue as "Disowned" initially.

22A: Particle in a meson: QUARK. New word to me.

25A: Oscar role for Ingrid Bergman: ANASTASIA. Not familiar with this movie. All I could think of is ILSA from "Casablanca".

28A: Vivian of "I Love Lucy": VANCE. I googled her name. Here is a nice clip.

30A: Like many elements: NONMETAL. The answer did not come to me immediately. I penned in MAC instead of MAN for the intersecting 21A: Fellow.

33A: Big mil. brass: GENL. The common abbreviation is GEN, right?

34A: "Dracula" writer: STOKER (Bram). Hot ER ending name.

37D: Market protests: BOYCOTTS

41A: Flower sepals: CALYX. The plural form of CALYX is either CALYXES or CALYCES. Good diagram.

44A: Intrinsically: PER SE. And 3D: Intrinsic quality: ESSENCE

45A: Western moniker: TEX (Ritter). He was the singer for "High Noon".

46A: Serpent: OPHIDIAN. Another new word to me.

49A: Webber musical: CATS. The only Webber musical that I know.

51A: Fawning sycophants: TOADIES

55A: Gregory Nava film of 1983: EL NORTE. No idea. Have you seen this movie before?

56A: Air sacs in the lungs: ALVEOLI. Singular form is alveolus. Foreign to me also.

57A: Minium: RED LEAD. Both the clue and the answer are new to me. I only realize right now that the clue is "Minium", not "Minimum".


2D: Pizza herb: OREGANO

3D: Greek cape: MATAPAN. See Cape MATAPAN on the upper middle part? I've never heard of this place. I thought the clue was asking for a Greek garment.

8D: Ad Astra per __ (Kansas motto): ASPERA. No idea. Literally "To the stars with difficulty". I wonder why Minnesota picked up a French "L'étoile du Nord" motto instead of a Latin one.

9D: Mouse sound: CLICK

11D: McGregor of "Moulin Rouge": EWAN. See this photo of him and Nicole Kidman. I gave up "Moulin Rouge" after watching it for a few minutes. Could not understand it.

12D: Far off: DISTANT. Cool is "Far out". Very confusing to me.

14D: Wearing wingtips: SHODDEN. I did not know the meaning of "wingtips".

22D: Doha's land: QATAR. This I know. The Doha forum. Al Jazeera is also headquatered in Doha.

23D: Mil. branch: USAF

26D: Great __ Mountains: SMOKY. I wonder why SMOKEY BEAR is not spelled as SMOKY Bear.

27D: E-mail forerunner: TELEX. Boy, can you imagine life without email now?

29D: Love-lit: AGLOW. Was I the only one who thought the clue is a shortened form of "Love literature"?

31D: Stendhal's last name: BEYLE (Henri-Marie). Got his name from across fills. He wrote "Le Rough et le Noir".

34D: Motorcycle's little brother: SCOOTER. I rather like the coded message "SCOOTER" Libby wrote to Judy Miller : "... Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them..."

35D: Frog of the future: TADPOLE. I had PRINCE in mind.

36D: Veteran: OLD HAND

39D: Bridge supporter: TRESTLE

44D: Pitiful piece of art?: PIETA. Good clue.

49D: Spelunking location: CAVE. I had to look up in the dictionary for "Spelunk". The study of the CAVE is speleogy, and the person who explores the cave is speleogist.


Dec 12, 2008

Friday December 12, 2008 Robert H. Wolfe

Theme: Sound Alike


55A: Take a dive?: THROW A BOUT (ABOUT)

11D: Compete in a steeplechase?: JUMP A BOARD (ABOARD)

28D: Race on earth?: RUN A GROUND (AGROUND)

I was not aware of the boxing term "dive". But "PLAY A ROUND" came to me immediately so I got the theme very early on. It certainly helped me fill in several blanks. I found today's down fills much easier to obtain than the across ones.

Two major problems in this puzzle:

1) DIVE (24A: Swoop) is an answer, so "dive" should not be part of the clue for 55A.

2) POUT (51D: Look sullen) and POUTY (33A: Peevish) in the same puzzle? They are of the same root for goodness sake.

I do like the clues for GOOSE (6D: Nene, for one) and GUEVARA (41D: Che from Argentina). Lovely to see "Nene" and "Che" as clues rather than the fills. I had the mistaken idea that Che was from Cuba.


1A: Walker in water: WADER. Nice clue. All alliterations.

14A: Napoleon, for a time: EXILE. Another nice clue. Try "Dalai Lama" next time. He has been an exile for a long time.

15A: SSS classification: ONE A. Here is a detailed list. Have you ever seen a Purple Heart medal in person?

16A: King novel, "__ Key": DUMA. Got the book title from down fills. I've never read any Stephen King book.

21A: Bonny girl: LASS. "Bonny" is rooted in BON (57D: __ mot (witticism)).

22A: Swooped: DIPPED. Are they are really interchangeable?

25A: __ Gorda, FL: PUNTA. New city to me. What is it famous for? The name is "Fat Point" in Spanish.

26A: Low, foglike clouds: STRATI. Singular form is STRATUS.

34A: Small traveler in space: METEOROID

36A: Japanese ethnic group: AINU. The aboriginal Japanese. AINU is literally "human" in their language.

37A: Hindu garment: var.: SAREE. SARI is more common. Same with RANEE, which is a variant of RANI.

41A: Prickly, Scottish shrub: GORSE. I totally forgot about this bush. Dictionary says it's a genus of Ulex. Kind of reminds me of IBEX (Mountain goat) and IlEX (Holm oak). A bunch of weird looking words.

45A: Rope on the range: RIATA. Sometimes it's REATA. What's the difference between RIATA and LARIAT?

47A: Whence Zeno: ELEA. Zeno of ELEA.

50A: B.C. or P.E.I.: PROV. We have provinces (22) in China. Xi'An is the capital city of Shaanxi Province.

58A: Potent beginning: OMNI. Also "Present beginning".

61A: Art movement: DADA. OK, here is Dadaist Duchamp's "Mona Lisa". Here is the explanation on the DF meaning of L.H.O.O.Q..


3D: Naturalist Fossey: DIAN. Got her name from across fills. Is DIAN a nickname of DIANA?

9D: Pharisee rival: SADDUCEE. Completely unknown to me. Dictionary defines SADDUCEE as "a member of a Palestinian sect, consisting mainly of priests and aristocrats, that flourished from the 1st century b.c. to the 1st century a.d. and differed from the Pharisees chiefly in its literal interpretation of the Bible, rejection of oral laws and traditions, and denial of an afterlife and the coming of the Messiah."

10D: Make work: ADAPT. Are you comfortable with this clue?

29D: Job extras: PERKS. What amazing PERKS Google offers to its employees!

44D: Exhale forcefully: BLOW. Also the title of a Johnny Depp movie.

52D: Inning sixths: OUTS. Baseball term. "Three up, three down". Why "sixth" instead of "six"?

53D: Very small: ITSY. This reminds me of a good clue for SANTA ("He has a small staff").


Dec 11, 2008

Thursday December 11, 2008 Alan P. Olschwang

Theme: Just Do It

17A: Start of G. K. Chesterton quip: IF A THING IS

29A: Part 2 of quip: NOT WORTH

40A: Part 3 of quip: DOING

48A: Part 4 of quip: IT'S WORTH

64A: End of quip: DOING BADLY

Well, Chesterton's original quote is "If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing badly".

Mr. Olschwang's distorted quip does not make any sense to me. Why would you want to waste your effort on something that's not worth doing?

This is the first time that the quip actually helped me fill in quite a few blanks. Normally I rely on the down clues for the across quip answers.


1A: Waste from smelting: SLAG. Or DROSS for a 5-letter synonym.

2A: Lie about publicly: SMEAR. I suppose so, though I associate SMEAR with anonymous sources and their sleazy tactics.

10A: Pool surface?: FELT. Why "?" mark? I don't think it's needed.

20A: Panama Canal engineer: LESSEPS. I googled his name. He was also the developer of the Suez Canal. Wikipedia says he was only involved in the early efforts of the Panama Canal construction. And George Washington Goethals is more well-known as the chief engineer.

21A: Bargains: DICKERS. New word to me. DICKER sounds very DF.

23A: Chou of China: ENLAI. It's Zhou ENLAI in Mandarin Chinese. He is our first premier and the most beloved one.

32A: Emulate a beaver: GNAW. Lots of squirrels in our neighborhood. So I would have clued it as "Emulate a squrrel".

45A: Cultural mediums: AGARS. I always thought the plural form for medium is media.

59A: Flower arrangement: IKEBANA. I like this one. Very simple & Zen-like. I think you can break IKEBANA into IKE + BANA if you have difficulty remembering this word. Eric Bana is excellent in "Munich" and "Troy".

66A: Guitarist Clapton: ERIC. OK, clue ERIC as "Actor Bana" next time then. Here is Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight". So good. What a rock muse Pattie Boyd is!

68A: Cambodia currency: RIEL. Cambodia is the only country with RIEL as its currency. I tend to confuse RIEL with RIAL, the prevalent currency in the Middle East.

71A: Swimmer Torres: DARA. She looks pretty. Saw her name somewhere before, but then I promptly forgot. Had to google again.


1D: Big name in tools: SKIL. I got this tool after cheating on LESSEPS. What does SKIL stand for?

2D: Word of woe: ALAS. Would be AH ME if the clue were in plural form ("Words of woe").

4D: Readied: GOT SET

5D: Maritime cargo: SHIPLOAD

6D: Table constellation: MENSA. New constellation to me. I always associate MENSA with those who have high IQ. MENSA is "table" in Latin. "Stupid" in Spanish.

26D: Desert plants: CACTI. The hosts for those cochineal insects.

27D: Enlightened one, in Buddhism: ARHAT. I obtained the answer from across clues. It refers to "a Buddhist who has attained Nirvana through rigorous discipline and ascetic practices". I just mentioned the Zen enlightment Satori yesterday. How is Nirvana different from Satori?

31D: Dressing pick: RANCH. I don't understand this clue. Why "pink"? (Note: I misread the clue as "Dressing pink" earlier.)

41D: Hades, e.g.: GREEK GOD

46D: LP surface: SIDE B

49D: Crosspiece of a ladder: RUNDLE. I got the answer from across clues. New word to me.

51D: Part of a knight's outfit: TABARD. New word to me. It's sleeveless. What is that logo emblazoned on his TABARD?

60D: 1998 Sarah McLachlan hit: ADIA. I really have difficult memorizing this song. ADIA is Swahili for "Gift from God".

61D: Dodger, in MLB jargon: NLER (National Leaguer). I wish we could get rid of DH in American League.

62D: "Clan of the Cave Bear" heroine: AYLA. I drew a blank on her name again. The book is written by Jean M Auel whose surname appeared in our puzzle occasionally.


Dec 10, 2008

Wednesday December 10, 2008 Allan E. Parrish

Theme: SKI Trails (Famous Polish Americans)

20A: "Morning Joe" co-host: MIKA BRZEZINSKI

38A: 1967 Triple Crown winner: CARL YASTRZEMSKI

55A: Longtime Duke coach: MIKE KRZYZEWSKI

SKI is "of", like English suffix "son", Norweigian "sen" and Spanish "ez". Irish put their O' and Mac in the middle, so do Arabs with their "ibn" and Italians with their "di/de". Does anyone know what's the difference between "di" and "de"? What would be my name in Polish? Xi'anski?

I only knew 55A as "Coach K". And Seattle Slew popped into my brain for 38A. I was thinking of the racing Triple Crown. I've actually got quite a few Carl Yastrzemski baseball cards. But I did not know that he is a triple crown winner. Even if I did, I would not know how to write out his surname.

As for Mika Brzezinski, I think I will know how to spell her family name when hell freezes over. There is a reason why Jim Miklaszewski (NBC Pentagon correspondent) is called "Mik".

Did you have a hard time with this puzzle? I didn't. I googled those three names very early on. And now I have got absolutely no satisfaction from filling in all the blanks. Such an empty feeling. Terrible. From now on, I will only seek Google as a last resort.

Did you notice the style difference between Barry Silk and Allan E. Parrish? Both of them are great creators of scrabbly puzzles. But Silk uses lots of Q's, while Parrish is an expert on Z's. I often found letter Q missing in his puzzles.


1A: Richie's mom, Fonzie-style: MRS. C

14A: Junior of the NFL: SEAU. He is a 12-time Pro-Bowl linebacker for the Patriots.

16A: Like the Arctic: POLAR. My first reaction is frigid.

18A: Israeli weapons: UZIS

24A: Chilean catch: SEA BASS. Why "Chilean"?

25A: Maker of 6D: MOTOROLA And 6D: Slim cell phone brand: RAZR. Does anyone have a iPhone?

32A: Ancient Turkish city: ADANA. Here is the map again. I simply forgot. Identical clue in this constructor's last puzzle. Wikipedia says ADANA is the fifth most populous city of Turkey.

42A: Deep __ bend: KNEE. Gym term?

43A: "Science of Logic" philosopher: HEGEL. See this book cover. Unknown to me.

48A: School of Paris: SORBONNE. Here is a list of famous SORBONNE graduates. I did not see Jackie Kennedy there.

50A: Old name for a 2-wood: BRASSIE. I thought of mashie, which is 5-iron.

54A: Like some NYC theaters: OOB. OOB is Off-Off-Broadway.

65A: High: pref.: ALTI. Like altitude.

67A: French WWI fighter planes: SPADS. The plane is an aronym of its manufacturer Societé Pour Aviation et ses Dérivés. Foreign to me.


2D: 20 quires: REAM. Nice trivia.

4D: Swiss ticker: CUCKOO. CUCKOO clock?

5D: Mixer: CLUB SODA

7D: Yavapai Coll. state: ARIZ. I've never heard of Yavapai Coll. Curt Schilling's alma mater.

9D: Way from Rome to Brindisi: APPIAN. My first encounter with APPIAN Way. Wikipedia states that it "was the most important ancient Roman road".

10D: Romantic light: MOONBEAM

11D: "I Still See __" ("Paint Your Wagon"song): ELISA. Here is the song. Unknown to me. I've never seen Clint Eastwood in a musical before.

13D: Gilmore of basketball: ARTIS. What a strange name, ARTIS, ART IS (long?). It's begging for a T.

22D: Buddhist discipline: ZEN. SATORI is often clued as "Zen enlightenment".

27D: Shredded: TORE. 51D: Shred: RIP UP

28D: Whip-wielder LaRue: LASH. Is he well-known? I've never met this guy before.

40D: Focuses (on): ZEROES IN

46D: Glacial ridges: ESKERS. New word to me also.

47D: 3/23/01 Newsmaker: MIR. It's de-orbed on this date. I would not have got MIR without the across fills.

50D: Coll. hotshots: BMOCS. BMOC is Big Man on Campus.

52D: Japanese dog: AKITA. This clue made me think of Mkat. She used to comment here often, together with Katherine and Dennis.

53D: Pound and Stone: EZRAS. Knew the poet Pound, not Stone.

58D: Swiss painter: KLEE. I don't know what he tried to express with this "Flower Myth", do you? Is it something DF?

59D: Holm oak: ILEX. I got the answer after I cheated on coach K's name. Both the clue and the answere were new to me. ILEX sounds like an animal, like IBEX. Holy hotwick curvy horns!


Dec 9, 2008

Tuesday December 9, 2008 Normal Steinberg

Theme: Window Dressing

21A: Hollywood auditions: SCREEN TESTS

56A: Reappearance on stage: CURTAIN CALL

3D: Fix-up: BLIND DATE

36D: Elm or maple, e.g.: SHADE TREE

This theme is so similar to Doug Peterson's June 25 puzzle.

No pun or any wordplay in this puzzle. Very straightforward clues. Rather bland though. Take LEAP (31A: __ of faith) for example, I remember once we had "Act of faith?" clue. I also like "Quantum movement?".

I guess it's too risky to play with ERECT (68A: Upright). I can't remember which constructor tried to clue ERECT as "Like member of congress?" for the NY Sun. I had no idea that when not capitalized, congress can have a sexual meaning (#5). Is that a familiar definition to you?


1A: Westminster, e.g.: ABBEY. Beatles' fans probably want the clue to be "ABBEY Road". The song "Come Together" is on this album.

17A: Tissue layers: PLIES. I guess our editor was not in the mood for "Knee-bending movements" any more.

19A: Writer Shelley: MARY. She wrote "Frankenstein". Wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley. I was not aware that she was writer.

26A: Actor Borgnine: ERNEST. I guessed. Have never heard of this guy before. What did he say is his secret for long life?

29A: "Star Wars" warrior: JEDI

39A: Petruchio's wife: KATE. From "The Taming of the Shrew". Another guess. Knew Kate, did not remember her husband's name.

40A: Songwriter Newman: RANDY. Unknown to me. Wow, this guy scored so many films.

64A: __ incognita: TERRA. Or TERRA Cotta, TERRA firma.

70A: __ souci (carefree): SANS. What is the opposite of SANS souci? Avec souci?


2D: Manila machete: BOLO. I obtained the answer from across fills. Not familiar with BOLO knife. Coconuts are very hard to crack.

7D: Knowing: WISE. This is a new definition of "Knowing" to me. Can you say "He is a knowing guy"?

8D: Aunt Bee's nephew: OPIE. I am more familiar with the "Mayberry kid" clue.

10D: Hucksters: ADMEN. I just learned the meaning of HUCKSTER a week ago when it's clued as "Hawker". Had no idea that it could also be an adman.

28D: Jacob's first wife: LEAH. Rachel's sister. I vaguely remember this Bible story.

29D: Singer Jackson: JANET. I was actually watching TV when the "Wardrobe malfunction" happened. I did not think it's too much though.

41D: "__Never Walk Alone": YOU'LL. Does it refer to Elvis' song?

44D: Post-storm help grp.: FEMA. I can't imagine the lives of those FEMA employees. Too much pressure.

51D: Head covering: SCALP. I wanted SCARF.

53D: Sign of spring: ARIES. Wow, they need more than one marriage to find happiness?

57D: Ephron or Lofts: NORA. Did not know the British author NORA Lofts. I liked NORA Ephron's "Sleepless in Seattle". She has such a wonderful sense of humor. I still could not believe that Carl Bernstein did not tell Ephron who "Deep Throat" was when they were married.


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.